Thursday, September 1, 2011

The hidden power of Google Docs

With Google announcing the file size limit increase to 10G I finally decided to pay for the extra storage to use my docs account as a backup for my personal files at home. As I write this I am using a combination of Cyberduck and the web interface to upload my images, videos, dvd images I have created and other odds and ends into my docs account. I find it very easy now to share photos with my family overseas. All I do is select the folder, select Share and enter their email addresses and voila, they have instant access to everything without having to even pay for the extra storage themselves.
Now I have been using Docs for some time now for writing, general documents and even spreadsheets along with millions of others. Although most people would harp on about security, there is nothing like having access to all your information all the time.
But your stock standard documents are only the beginning. Having your documents with you all the time means there is so much more you can do than simply typing your resume online. Here are some of the things I have done over the last year or so that have made my life simpler.

A document with all your clothing sizes
I have to say with the strong Australian dollar and the ridiculous prices we pay in Australia for clothing I have turned more and more to online shopping. I buy my shirts from London, my shoes and sports equipment from US and socks and underwear from Hong Kong. A lot of sites offer free or packaged delivery so in most cases a few guys at work team up and put it an order for 4 shirts to save on postage. The problem is you need your sizes available at work to quickly raise an order. The solution, create a Google document and add your measurements as you buy clothes. Some sites show you how to measure your best fitting clothes to ensure you order the right size. Add them as you go along.

An Assets database
Create a a spreadsheet in docs and add a number of tabs for all the different types of assets you want to catalogue.

Under the Assets tabs have a sheet with the following columns at the very least

The Model and Serial number will assist you with insurance. The location helps you look for something in case the worse has happened to you.
You can have tabs for DVDs and CD's which have more than one use. Aside from insurance purposes they can be accessed from your phone when you are out shopping and you notice a big sale on in JB HIFI. A quick check of your database and you can know for sure if you already have a copy of Dora's Big Adventure and avoid doubling up. I also found it useful when I lost a hard drive and hadn't backed up all my songs. I easily checked which CD's were in the list but not on the backup and could rip them quickly.

The first thing I do when I buy any new equipment is go to the website and download the manual and quickly add it to Google docs. No more shuffling around in shoe-boxes trying to figure out what it means when the green and orange lights flash on the heater.

Now there are a lot of reminder software out there but for my having a list of things in a Google spreadsheet works wonders. Most software limit the function but with a Spreadsheet or Document the possibilities are endless. You can create a list of To-dos, New Year Resolutions, plans for development and then share them with whomever you wish. It makes is easy to track your progress, compete or comment on each others or simply use it when you need to remind yourself of your priorities.

Birthday Invitations
Next time you are inviting your child's friends over for a party try and design the invitation on a Google Presentation. That way if your printer dies and you need two copies quickly you can print them at work without having to remember to email it to yourself or stick it on a memory card.

Well, not in the writing sense. Last time I had a car accident I typed up all the detail in a document and as I called my insurance company and the police I added all the details to the document. Google Docs remembers when every bit of information was added so even if you don't add the date you can find out when the document was changed and how. Later on when I had to refer to it with issues about my rental car I was able to quickly refer to it and discuss it with the rep from the company.  It is also an idea to scan and upload any correspondence you have regarding a specific incident. You can either upload and leave them as PDF files or ask Google to perform an OCR and and allow the document to be searched for later.

I know there is always the problem with identity theft so I wont make a blanket recommendation, but I had a  ton of old certificates which were in drawers everywhere. I ended up scanning and uploading them not because I needed them but occasionally coming across them when looking for something else has a nostalgic feel.

The possibilities are endless so try and find something you havent done and see if there is a way you can use the power of Google to help yourself do it. Just remember, whatever you create, finding it is as simple as Googling it!