Finding Public Google Docs

If you take my Everything Google course at Solo Practice University, you may recall from the Google Docs class that you can set your visibility on your Google Docs from the share button to private, anyone with the link, or public on the web. Public docs are accessible and viewable by anyone on the web. But how, exactly, do you find such public Google Docs?

 

Google Operating System blog has some tips for you on searching for these elusive public documents. You can’t find them within Docs or Google Drive. But you can via Google search. The post offers these handy queries:

 

Here are some useful queries that let you find public Google Drive/Docs files (you can append some keywords to the queries):

* [site:docs.google.com/document/d] – find text documents

* [site:docs.google.com/presentation/d] – find presentations

* [site:docs.google.com/drawings/d] – find drawings

* [site:docs.google.com/file/d] – find files: images, videos, PDF files, Microsoft Office documents and more (you should click “repeat the search with the omitted results included” since there are many files with similar titles)

* [site:docs.google.com/folder/d] – find folders (collections of files and other folders)

* [site:docs.google.com/open] – find other documents, folders and files (the links redirect to other URLs)

Public spreadsheets and forms can’t be indexed by search engines.

 

There you have it. Happy searching!

Does Insync Have Dropbox On The Run?

Have you heard about this new player in the cheap cloud storage / sync field called Insync? You might want to take a look at it, particularly if you are a fan or user of Google Docs. Insync, which has been in closed beta for more than a year, has now opened its doors to the general public with a claimed better feature set and lower cost (through Google storage) than Dropbox. Insync is trying to differentiate from Dropbox with more granularity and control over sharing and organizing files and its cost structure (free, with Google providing the paid storage in the background). Unlike Dropbox, you can set sharing conditions with read only or read write access and can revoke sharing permissions without moving or deleting the shared file entirely. You can share all or part of a folder structure and specify whether or not those you share with can reshare. You can tie multiple Google accounts to an Insync account too – which is GREAT for me and my many Google accounts. And, although the storage is via Google Docs, Insync doesn’t limit you to the supported Google Docs file types – you are only limited by the amount of storage you purchase from Google which is pretty darn cheap – $5 per year for 20 GB and just over $4,000 for 16 TB and by the 10GB per file size limit. Sign up is incredibly easy – just connect your Google account, download the local program, and link your machines to your Insync account.

Downside? No mobile apps yet. I have seen some complaints on Mac fora to the effect that it duplicates files with multiple labels, making organization difficult. However, at the price point, a little extra organization effort seems a reasonable trade-off. No problems here from this Mac user. As in the early days of Dropbox, there may be a few kinks to work out but this application seems promising indeed to heavy Google Docs users.

The All New Google Presentations

Google Docs, the cloud suite of productivity tools offered by Google for free, has always been a favorite of mine. I have used Presentations, the slide deck creation tool, to make visuals and collaborate with others. I have always found Presentations to be more than serviceable, and definitely useful.

Google has just made Presentations even more useful with a dramatic feature roll out. The changes focus on improving collaboration by including presence markers to show where collaborators are working, allowing simultaneous editing by team members, showing a use revision history to see who made changes or to revert to an earlier version, and a building in a chat feature to permit dialogue between collaborators while working on the document. There are more than 50 other new features , including better transitions and “spicier” (their word, not mine) 3D effects, new animations, new themes, drawings within presentations, and rich tables.

The new stuff is rolling out slowly but you can help it along – just click on the gear in the document list, select Document Settings, hit the editing tab, check the box to “create new presentations using the latest version of the presentation editor” and voila!, you’re in. But don’t bother if you are running an older browser: the new Presentations is optimized to work with the latest browser editions, so update one of those first before trying this at home, kids. Check this link for what works.

I love shiny new playthings from Google!

Need To Translate? Use Google Docs

Google Translate is pretty cool, but it works on web pages, not PDFs. What if you uncover a priceless PDF in, say, German, and you don’t sprechen sie Deutsch? Use Google Docs, of course. Lifehacker has this great tip – save and upload the foreign doc into Google Docs, click on Tools and then Translate and you will get a copy of the doc in your language of choice. It works with HTML, ODT, RTF, and DOC files. And, as Lifehacker reminds, you can always convert document formats within Google Docs – simply load the doc, open the File/Save menu, then Click Save As and choose RTF, PDF, HTML Word, or Open Office. Simple and effective. And, of course, Free. Doesn’t get any better.

Need To Fax? Use Google Docs

Google Docs is ubiquitous and getting moreso with extensions and applications that leverage its cloud-based storage goodness. Take, for example, InterFAX – a fax service that lets you hook up your Google Docs account and use it as a browser-based fax machine! Create an InterFAX account, select external apps and then Google Docs. Click on Activate and the Google Docs page will appear. Grant access to InterFAX (you can select the option to grant access without credentials to keep username private). Enable the “Fax This” bookmarklet, and you are pretty much ready to go. You can send and receive faxes via your Google Docs account, just as you would a fax machine. Received faxes are saved as PDF into a dedicated folder in your Docs account. There is a small cost involved –  as low as $.07 per page and you have to buy credits in minimum installments of $10. But the convenience factor (as well as a cost that is far lower than a dedicated fax line) are very compelling.

Hat tip to Digital Inspiration Technology Blog.

Manage Your Cloud From One Spot + Free Storage Options

I have a collection of free cloud storage accounts and, while not impossible, it is slightly challenging to organize and manage all of them. I stumbled on a local option for handling some of those cloud accounts – Joukuu. Joukuu, which means “cloud” in Japanese,  is a free, Windows-only (Mac version promised soon) download that helps you interact with three of the most popular services: Dropbox; Box.net; and Google Docs. You can pretty much manage your entire process with this app – access your files, sync and open with local applications.

Edit files, and create and sync on the desktop without having to log-in the cloud or open separate windows.

How about one-click backup? Just right click on your selected files, and choose the account, the files will backup to your online accounts automatically.

Move files between accounts in your Joukuu with simple drag and drop.

Joukuu does not copy any files to its own servers, so you need only worry about your own desktop and the various cloud providers it links to as far as security goes.

So, this whole Joukuu got me to thinking – just how much cloud storage can you pull down for free? While I can say for certain this isn’t an exhaustive list, you might be surprised at just how much you can expand your storage space for no cash. Dropbox starts you off with 2GB for free, but you can earn 3GB to 10.25 GB if you get people to sign up via referral from you. Box.net gives you 5GB for free with a personal account. Google Docs gives you 1GB for free. Each provider offers different limits on file sizes and access – definitely check them out. But, right out off the bat, Joukuu can help you manage between 8GB and over 13GB of storage without any investment.

Want more? Check out Windows SkyDrive which offers a whopping 25GB for free (50MB file upload size max). Zumo Drive gives you up to 2GB for free. Or Memopal which gives you 3GB for free. iDrive offers a consumer friendly 2GB free. ADrive offers 50GB of free online backup – wow! 2GB uploads, and ad-supported. With a little finagling you can lay claim to around 90GB of free, on-line storage. Several of these offer mobile apps for file storage on the go, particularly helpful with my iDevices. Not bad, not bad at all.

What Can YOU Do With Google Docs?

I know what I can’t do – this incredible 450 page slide deck that moves and grooves, thanks to three animators, Tu+, Metcalf and Namroc. But, if they can push the envelope this far out with Google’s free presentation tool, I am thinking you should be able to cobble together a decent, cloud-based presentation of your own.

Enjoy the show …

Two More Ways to Move Up With Google Docs

Looking for cool new ways to interact with Google Docs? Check out these two little apps I found, one from Digital Inspiration Technology blog and one from 40Tech.

First, try easily moving entire folders up into the cloud with an open source program for Windows called Cyberduck. Normally, you can only upload individual files in the upload dialog box. Cyberduck acts like an FTP server, allowing you transfer entire folders full of files. Cyberduck doesn’t only send to Google Docs – it is one of several destination options available. Once in the cloud, right click on the files or folders listed in the Cyberduck browser window to download them back to your desktop. You can reload files back up as well, with the option to rename or overwrite the existing file in GDocs.

Next up, how about syncing notes to Google Docs, Dropbox style? Using a little notepad app called Nocs, you can write and save notes locally or directly to Google Docs. Set up Nocs with your Google log in information, set up a folder in Google Docs to store you notes and then you can write, save, reopen and edit within the text editor pane notes that will be saved to Google Docs. You can enable autosave in the preferences setting to take all the brain rigor out of the process. Nice free little Windows-only tool.

Time to get writing!

More Free OCR Fun

Last week, I posted about a free Web utility that would allow you to upload scanned documents and apply OCR treatment. Now Google Docs has trotted out a free OCR feature available for on-line docs, per the Google Operating System Blog (link here).

The option appears during the uploading process: Docs users are presented with a clickable link that will run an OCR scan of docs uploaded into user accounts. Those familiar with OCR know that the process extracts characters and inserts them into a new text document. PDFs apparently do better with the process and simply black text on white background yields the best result. 

As far as those results, users report some formatting loss and less than perfect end product. And, you will need to separately load and save the PDF if you want both the original and the OCR’d version of the doc. Still, while it may not be the power tool you are looking for, it does offer a free option for simple scans and searchable saves of images, business cards or simple records.

Google Wave – For The Uninitiated

And that includes me. No, I do not have a Google Wave invitation yet. I have put in my application, pleaded with my friends, and even considered eBay (no, not really on that last one). I can’t give you the hands-on review from the legal mindset that you all are looking for. Not yet, anyway.

What I can do is provide you with some context if you are like me and have heard all about it, have gotten all excited to try it, but wonder what the heck it is and why should you even care.

Because I haven’t done the hands-on, I can only provide you with the  information I have culled from others among the scores and scads of on-line articles about it. Google, Apple, Twitter, Facebook and Microsoft need only hiccup to cause a social media riot. Wave is no exception, and maybe is even more tantalizing in that it has been the subject of the months of hypeof tsunami proportion leading up to the limited edition 100,000 or so special, closed pre-beta invites that started trickling out last Thursday.

From Anthony Ha - Digital Beat

From Anthony Ha - Digital Beat

What IS it? At the core, Google Wave is a tool for online collaboration via real-time communication. According to the official Google word, the “communication” can be viewed as both a “wave” of conversation or a document. The participants in the wave or collaboration can utilize all sorts of media in the course of the conversation, offering rich, real-time sharing opportunity. Check out this screenshot of a wave here:

As you can see, waves look like threaded conversations, rather than the more traditional “back-and-forth” email model. Waves can constantly “crash” into your inbox, particularly if your box is open to all. Like a surfer confronted with too many possible rips, Google Wave certainly bears the potential to overwhelm the typical end user.

Another aspect that makes waves somewhat unique in the sharing world is their easy modification by participants, their ability to be played back at any time so that a new participant may be brought up to speed, and their fast transmission of information – you can see the other wave participants responses as they type them! The collaboration is real-time as well, due to some fancy “concurrency control technology” tools. Natural language features provide context and spelling correction. And, waves are embeddable, offering the ability to place the conversation and collaboration anywhere. Waves are amenable to the use of widgets for customizing and broadening the experience.

Without a doubt, Google Wave sounds like a might powerful tool, particularly in the enterprise arena. Imagine access to such a facile and speedy set of tools across departments or units – not only can the process be shared (like a wiki) but participants can get involved and see others’ involvement in the process right here and right now.

Sounds great, right? Well, not everyone is buying the hype. Carmi Levy at BetaNews has announced that he is sitting out the first “wave” of Wavers . Levi believes that Wave won’t be as big as Gmail, in large part due to the fact that “collaboration isn’t the holy grail of productivity.” Levi also thinks that most collaborators are not yet ready for the rocket-powered Wave: even the relatively simpler Google Docs has not broken among Levi’s peers and the emailing of Microsoft attachments remains the most popular method of securing feedback and a team result.

Then there is the question of security – while a Waver must have permission to participate, allowing anyone to edit source data tends to offend every traditional data security principle.

Robert Scoble also exhibits skepticism regarding the value of Wave as a true productivity tool. Scoble suggests that Wave represents multiple layers of unproductive tools: email, topped with chat, topped with social media, topped with features that lack an intuitive interface, et cetera. Scoble also criticizes Wave for its lack of integration with Google Docs and Spreadsheets and its tortoise-like pace. Hit the jump above for his fleshed-out discourse as to why he is not ravin’ ’bout the Wave.

Steven Hodson at the Inquisitr seems similarly unimpressed, mostly due to the difficulty he experienced ramping up with Google Wave and getting even rudimentary controls under control. He is holding his conclusions in check until he can spend more time with the tool and, hopefully, “get” the hype.

Steve Rubel opines that Google Wave, as it currently stands, is not a Twitter, Facebook or even email killer, in large part due to its complexity. Rubel believes it solves a problem that doesn’t exist, but is hopeful that Google Wave 2.0 addresses the concern and delivers on the promise.

Louis Gray’s take is not as critical, as he offers his personal experience with Google Wave here. He crafts a nice overview of the user experience, for those craving their own near-hands-on. But even he suggests that Google Wave will prove most useful for collaboration among small teams. And, reading between his lines, Gray appears to lament the fact that Google Wave is simply another place to check for conversations and information exchange, further burdening an already overburdened on-line network of email and social media outposts. It seems Wave may not be the ideal source for “crowd” conversations among large groups.

So, does my post sound a bit like the fox who couldn’t reach the proverbial grapes, proclaiming them to be sour as he quits the quest? Maybe so. But I am still hot to try Google Wave and allow my own first-hand experience to be my guide. I am guarded, however, after reading the somewhat critical reviews from some of tech’s elite. If these guys are having issues with Google Wave, how will the average tech-averse lawyer or business person manage its might? In any event, if a reader has an extra invite to pass along, I wouldn’t turn it down and might even be your best friend. 😉

Maybe you are one of the lucky few already enjoying Wave and currently making up your own mind about its utility or lack thereof. I have something for you too: a cheatsheet for Wave searching from Google itself.

Check out the lengthy Google developers preview video that follows. Or hit the simplistic video further below, linked in Scoble’s post.

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