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iGoogle June 9, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings, Tools.

I wanted to share one of my favorite “tools” with you: the start page on my Internet browser. Google does a lot of things right, and it is a heavily relied upon tool by most modern translators. They keep coming out with more and more tools that make our lives easier, such as Gmail, Google Image, Google Reader, and Google Print. You may or may not be aware of iGoogle, its personalized Google page. You can customize this page to have all your information at your fingertips, including news sources, weather, RSS feeds, and all kinds of neat Google gadgets that make your life easier. I also have my web-based e-mail addresses (Yahoo! and Gmail), which I rarely or never looked at, built in to my iGoogle page, so I am able to see at a glance if I have e-mails in my in boxes and call them up by opening a separate tab (yes, I use Firefox!). It is available in many localized versions of Google (42 languages, over 70 country domain names, as of October 2007).

You can also jazz it up with various “themes.” With iGoogle, users can select unique themes for their Google homepage. Some of the themes are animated depending on weather conditions, the time in your area (it asks you for your location upon selecting a theme), and so on. The sky darkens/lightens throughout the day, depending on the time. They also offer “artist themes” by professional artists. I have chosen a world theme called Earth-light. It is a photorealistic simulated view of Earth from space, including seasons, day/night, clouds, and city lights.

My iGoogle pageMy favorite gadget by far is the Google Calendar. By having it on your iGoogle page, you can access your calendar from any computer in the world. It is a great way to track your plans, birthdays, important deadlines, appointments, personal reminders, etc. You can add additional calendars to fit your needs. For example, I have the American and German holidays, the Jewish holidays, the phases of the moon, and a fiscal week calendar (because German clients frequently refer to “Kalendarwoche” or KW (fiscal week) and it saves me from having to calculate it) added to my Google Calendar.

I have arranged my page in order of importance (to me). All you have to do is drag the window to where you want it on the page. I have a ToDo list, the weather, and my Google Calendar, Google Calculator and the World Clocks gadgets at the very top of the page. Below that I have various news feeds such as CNN, USA Today, BBC News, the Drudge Report, the NY Times, NPR, Wired, and German news feeds such as Spiegel Online, Financial Times Deutschland, heute-Nachrichten, and ZDNet. Interspersed throughout the page I then have fun little add-ons such as a Wikipedia search bar, a PeopleSearch bar, MapQuest, Moon Phases, a Bush countdown bar, a Snopes.com window called Fact or Fiction to be aware of various Internet hoaxes, and LabPixies radio (to stream Internet radio from anywhere in the world – more on that another day). I also have some entertaining gadgets, such as my Daily Horoscope, a Biorhythm calculator, a currency converter, several crossword puzzles, and a couple fun little games for when I need a quick break from translating – to name just a few.

This is how I can easily keep up to date with numerous web sites and have lots of tools at my fingertips without having to remember each and every URL or visit a bunch of sites first thing in the morning to catch up with what is happening in the world. If you haven’t tried it, give it a try as soon as you can. I guarantee you’ll be immediately hooked!



1. Petition to roll back iGoogle design change « Musings from an overworked translator - October 19, 2008

[…] Random musings, Tools. trackback If you are a long-time reader of this site, you will know that I love my iGoogle homepage. It keeps me up-to-date on a lot of news and provides me with entertainment and crossword […]

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