Google’s latest tool syncs your browser settings and favorites

The newest addition to Google LabsGoogle Browser Sync – allows you to sync your browser favorites, cookies, passwords and more between different machines. This is one tool I personally have been looking forward to for a long time…

Unfortunately for IE users, GBS currently works only on Firefox. It offers various options to restrict the data you want to share and can also encrypt it if needed. Go check it out and while you're there, check out the other cool stuff they have for Mozilla Firefox users!

Google Spreadsheets: taking aim at MS Office

After offering an online alternative to Word by acquiring the online word processor Writely, Google has now launched Google Spreadsheets as an online rival to Excel. NYTimes reports:

  • It would make it possible for as many as 10 people to simultaneously edit a spreadsheet document online and chat about it using Google’s instant messaging program.
  • The new service will be able to handle several hundred formulas used to manipulate data in Excel, but not more complex functions like macros.
  • The ability for many people to collaborate was quite different from the standard method of e-mailing files back and forth.

It allows uploads of existing Excel or Comma-separated values (CSV) files and your work can be exported into Excel, CSV or HTML formats. The service currently lacks charts functionality but one can imagine a creative mind at Google linking up the Spreadsheets with Google Gapminder (covered in an earlier post) to create professional charts.

These tools can really open up the vistas for online collaborative working especially between people in different locations / countries. Also, the startup costs and installation efforts are minimal (zero!) enabling mass adoption in developing economies.

In Praise of WordPress!

Another shot in the arm for WordPress – PC Mag’s John C. Dvorak sings praise for WordPress:

The [New York] Times standardized all its inside blogs on the superb open-source blogging software WordPress (www.wordpress.org). It is the same software system that I’ve been using on my own blog at http://www.dvorak.org/blog.

The New York Times’s blogs are much slicker than the in-house blogs that I’ve seen from other newspapers and online publications. WordPress is the reason; it’s real blogging software.

WSJ: Judge okays surfing at work

WSJ has an interesting article on a NY Judge ruling on an employee taken to court for surfing at work. Judge Spooner ruled that “the internet has become the modern equivalent of a telephone or a daily newspaper, providing a combination of communication and information that most employees use as frequently in their personal lives as for work.” And city agencies, he noted, let workers make personal calls as long as they don’t interfere with their jobs.

The Real Time column goes on conclude that:

“…it’s a mix of things, including the productivity gains of information technology substantially outweighing the losses of high-tech goofing off; the fact that the workday has always included a certain amount of goofing off; and the likelihood that workers aren’t any more slothful than they’ve ever been. If anything, perhaps they’re more efficient about doing whatever they shouldn’t be doing: Buying a book for your nephew almost certainly takes less time clicking around Amazon than running out to the mall bookstore on your lunch hour.

But here’s the thing that should give office workers toasting Judge Spooner pause: While the Internet has let us bring our personal lives into the office in new ways, it’s also let our office follow us once we leave. Witness your coworker ignoring his beer because he’s Blackberrying, or your spouse in bed with a VPN-connected laptop propped against her knees. And therein lies the other half of the emerging bargain. If surfing the Web is OK in the office, you’ve got no cause to carp when the boss wonders why you didn’t respond to that 8 p.m. email.”

🙂

LiveScience: Evolution Occurs Faster at the Equator

LiveScience has this interesting hypothesis about why evolution occurs faster in warmer climes:

Warmer temperatures speed up metabolism by allowing chemical reactions to occur at a faster rate, but this increased efficiency comes at a price: it produces higher quantities of charged atoms or molecules called “free radicals,” which can damage proteins—including DNA. Higher metabolism also speeds up DNA replication, which is just another chemical reaction, and this can increase the number of copying mistakes that can occur.

Together, damage to DNA by free radicals and replication mistakes could result in mutations that, over time and through natural selection pressures, can form new species.