Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Google Desktop, Sidebar and Dual Monitors

Wendy Wickham has been posting about her Google Sidebar experiments. So, in the interest of trying to be more of a geek and trying to play hard with all the new tools that are out there, I went ahead and installed it.

My first impression was, why bother? It's just my iGoogle page in a sidebar.

I found a good LifeHacker article expounding on the wonders of the Google Sidebar. And it is kind of cool. But....

I think the reason I may not be getting it, is that I work with two monitors. Dual monitors lets me have Mozilla open on one screen, while working in another application on the other screen. I know when there's something new to read (gmail, rss) and I always have easy access to search.

Other benefits of working with two monitors:

1) Have a source document open on one screen and be writing a proposal/storyboard/script on the other.
2) Watch an online Adobe Connect presentation in one screen and blog about it in the other.
3) Read Outlook messages in one and find a file in the other.
4) QA an application in one window, have bugtracker open in the other.

The uses are endless and I don't think I could ever go back to a single monitor. With monitors so cheap these days, why not try it yourself?

Back to the Google Desktop -- I'm playing around a bit with the searching capabilities and am seeing the light. Tony Karrer has often written about his complete reliance on desktop search.

I'm struggling a bit with figuring out how to set the preferences so that it searches where I need it to search (I save most of my files to a shared network drive; not locally). And I think I just figured it out: set your preferences and then let your computer sit idle for a long time so it can "crawl" and create an index.

So the search feature -- I get that and I'm sold. Use Google searchbar to search for documents and files on your desktop, on your network, in your email, on the web. Very useful feature. Does this mean I will never again use Windows Explorer?

I'm not sure if the Sidebar would make me more productive or just more distracted....I don't think I'll become a widget creator myself. I agree with Wendy and her IT buddy: it completely bogs my machine down.

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