Monday, August 25, 2008

iGoogle: Part 2 Adding Gadgets

In the previous post, I discussed how to create your own iGoogle page with a theme of your choice. Wasn't that fun? However, now it's time to take it a step further and move into what's really exciting...THE GADGETS. A gadget is a application that is built using HTML, Javascript, and XML. It could be a calendar, a weather globe, or anything else you can dream up. Gadgets can be added to your iGoogle page.

On my iGoogle page, I have my Google Calendar and Gmail gadgets. These basically provide a "sneak peak" at these applications and I can click on them to get the full version of either. However, I also have a To-Do List Gadget, Bookmarks, Weather, and Word of the Day.

How do you add a Gadget? Click on Add Stuff in the upper right hand corner of your iGoogle page. You can type in key words in the Gadget search box or search by topic such as Technology,Finance, Sports, Fun and Games, and more.

When you find a gadget that interests you, click on Add it Now. Then, click on the Back to iGoogle link to see what it does and how it appears. If you don't like it, simply click on the X above the gadget and it will be gone.

Go ahead, give it a try and have fun adding your own gadgets! At some point, you will feel you have "too many" gadgets. No worries, as my next posting to this blog will include how to create tabs within your iGoogle Page (Think of it as "categorizing your gadgets"!

Happy Googling.....
Becky, a.k.a. "The Google Gal"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

iGoogle-Personalized Home Page Part 1

Last summer, I taught a 2 day course on Google Tools in Education. I had a fabulous group of teachers....obviously, as they were giving up two of their summer vacation days to spend with me in a computer lab. That alone says how dedicated they were (not to mention, that they might have desperately needed 1 more recertification credit before September!).

During this workshop, we spent time with Gmail, Blogger, and Google Calendars. Then, we headed into iGoogle. (Let the games begin!) What exactly is iGoogle? iGoogle allows you to create a personalized homepage that gives you at-a-glance access to weather, news, to-do lists, calendars, recipes and more gadgets than you can imagine.

To begin creating an iGoogle page, you need to have a Google account. The thing I love about Google is that once you sign up for iGoogle, you will not need a new name and password for Gmail, Blogger, Docs, etc.

Signing up for a Google Account
  1. In the URL box, type in . In the upper right hand corner click on the "Sign in" link.
  2. You will see a box that says "Create an Account". Go ahead and do so. It's a pretty simple process and you won't get bombarded with a bunch of junk mail (SPAM) by signing up. Just one more thing I love about Google!
  3. Once you are signed up, there will be a welcome/getting started page. Take a look at this info as it is quite well...informative.
Choosing an iGoogle Theme

Before we go any further, please notice that on your iGoogle page, the Google Search box is right at the top of your page. The Google Search box is the most important tool that we have access to and it's important that it remains at the top of your page, don't you think? On to the fun stuff...

iGoogle has various themes that you can select from to personalized your page. Some of these themes are dynamic, meaning the image will change based on your zipcode. For example, the theme called "Bus Stop" shows people waiting at a bus stop. When it is raining in your area, you may see the city people with their umbrellas. The theme "Spring Scape" shows a frog and ladybug drinking coffee and eating donuts in the am, and playing on the slip-n-slide in the hot afternoon. This is also dynamic as it adjusts according to your time zone. (How cool is that!)

  1. To choose a theme click on "iGoogle Artist Themes" or "Select Theme". Scroll through the themes. By clicking on the title of the theme, you will get more information and comments relating to this theme.
  2. When you are ready to select a theme, click on Add Theme, and then click on the "Back to iGoogle Homepage" link found at the upper and bottom left side of the page.
  3. Notice that after returning to your iGoogle page, below the Google search box, you will have an option to Undo the theme if you decide you don't like how it appears.

Have fun with the themes for now! My next post in this blog will show you how to add various Gadgets and components to your iGoogle page. Feel free to click on the comments link below if you have questions or comments. Happy Googling....


Friday, August 1, 2008

Google--Top 2 Search Techniques

At age 3, when Conner got gum in his hair I was clueless as to how one removes gum from hair. I hate to admit this, but he didn't suggest that we head to the local library for the answer (I know…Mom of the Year possibility now gone.). But rather, he stated, "Well mom, just Google it!" Within a few minutes, I found a solution that worked. (Peanut butter!) Many of us spend more time Googling than we ever intend to...a few minutes, turns into numerous hours as a result of ineffective searching or tangents. Below are 2 Google search techniques that I have found indispensable.

  1. It's All About the Quotations: If you are searching for something that is more than 1 word (a phrase), use quotes. Doing so will allow you to find the entire phrase, instead of isolated words. For example, if I type Indian in the Cupboard without quotes it will show results that have the word Indian and Cupboard, but not necessarily contingent. (306,000 results) So my results could include Indian designed cupboards instead of websites related to the book "Indian in the Cupboard". If in the search box I type "Indian in the Cupboard" (in quotes), you will notice that all of the search results show the entire phrase "Indian in the Cupboard". (204,000 results). Give this a try!
  2. Searching for a Specific File Type: Perhaps you want to view a PowerPoint presentation on "Starting a Small Business" or you are in need of a business plan template (in Word) so you can get your plan down on paper (boy...can I relate!). By clicking on the Advanced Search link next to the Google Search box, you will see File Type. Click on the drop down arrow and choose the type of file you are looking for. Types of files listed include Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Word, Flash, .PDF, and more. After putting in your key term, choose the file type and click on search. You will notice that the results only include the specific format you chose.
Hope these tips make you a more effective searcher and saves you the one thing we can't ever get back....TIME!