Friday, December 13, 2013

Google Tips for Freelancers, and a Warning for Journalism Junkies

Google's gorgeous, uber-accessible Tips page is like so many other Google releases - so simple, you simultaneously salivate and say, why didn't I think of that?

Arranged like flashcards on a clean white table, the tips feature screenshots that walk users through the basics of getting and using Google products that are not new - Drive, Keep, Calendar, Maps to name a few. What is new is the uber-organized presentation and boiled-down-to-the-basics instructions.

Why Every Freelancer Should Play with Google's Flashcards

If you're a contract or freelance worker, you've been there: the office where everyone does everything the way they've always done it. While employers usually seek out freelancers to bring specific talent and experience to a project, freelancers also bring fresh perspective and can-do attitude - both of which, I think it can be argued, are worth a couple of hours worth of consulting fees. But I'll leave that to the accounting department.

Next time you walk into a work group that seems to be doing things the hard way, pull up the Google Tips site and you're likely to find a solution, or at least a work-around.

Users are Everywhere, Power Users are Rare 
From A history of Windows,

Many of Google's tips amount to a nudge to learn (slightly) advanced features of familiar tools. Gajillions of people use Google Docs, but how many know how to manage multiple revisions in a single document?

Now, Google's got the heat and light today. But I'm going to point out the same principle holds for plain old MS Word. Spend a couple of hours with your help screens, take an Advanced Word class at your local library, or just for heaven's sake, Google it, and you're going to "discover" some features in that have been available, like, forever. Ever had to make a bibliography and found out after using APA style that the assignment specified MLA? It's not quite accurate to say "there's an app for that," but there IS a feature to fix that (and create the bibliography for you in the first place) and it's been built into Word for ... well, longer than I've been reaching for reading glasses, at least.

And the principle to remember is: knowledge is power.

Speaking of which...

Google News Scares Me

Customizing your news feed sounds like a great idea, but if you understood what's been happening to journalism around the world (ok, nobody completely understands) in the past 20 (or 30) years you're probably scared too. I'll save my lecture on this topic for another day and just suggest that you learn how to use the other Google Tips before that one. Get your news and information from as many different sources as you can. Heck if you learn how to use all the other Google Tips, you'll save so much time you'll be able to read an extra book every week! Then I'm going to ask you to guest blog for me.


Now go on, Google Tips are waiting to help you out.

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