productivity tools from MS and Google

I’ve been enjoying all the benefits of having Outlook as my primary work email and calendar tool for the past year. After three years of dealing with the disaster that is Novell GroupWise, it’s lovely to finally have a tool that does what I need it to do.

However, for my personal stuff, I am a big fan of Gmail and other Google tools, so I was a little sad to give up my Google Calendar, among other things. All that has changed in the past week now that I’ve discovered the GCal/Outlook syncing program. Right now, I have it only going from Outlook to GCal, but that may change in the future.

Another awesome tool that I’ve implemented this week is the Google Calendar gadget available from Google Labs. This puts my upcoming appointments in the sidebar of Gmail, and pings little reminders if I have Gmail open. Outlook takes care of this at work, and I’m loving having this functionality in my my non-work hours without having to maintain two separate calendars.

The other Google Labs gadget that is made a surprising impact on my productivity and organization is the Remember The Milk task management tool. I’ve been using RTM to keep track of my review assignments, but I hadn’t found a need for it for other to-do things since I use the Tasks feature of Outlook for work stuff. However, when my emails to personal address with things I needed to remember to do began to pile up and clutter my inbox, I decided it was time to implement a real to-do list. With the Gmail integration, it’s now all in one place, just like with my work stuff in Outlook.

gmail coolness

I have recently switched my personal emailing entirely over to my Gmail account. In the past year, I’ve been using it for Where’s George hit notifications, Geocaching.com messages, and new BookCrossing messages and journal entry notifications. I continued to use my SpamCop webmail account for other personal emailing. However, when it came time to renew my account ($30/yr), I decided that it was time to move on. I’ve found that changing my email address every few years keeps the spam down. Even with the excellent spam filters, I was getting 10-15 spam messages a day sent to my SpamCop account, some of which were not filtered to the Held Mail folder. In the past 15 days that I’ve been using Gmail exclusively for all of my non-work emailing, I’ve been very happy with it. It’s managing threads of conversations much better than any email system I’ve used in the past. And, since it’s a relatively new account, I have gotten maybe fifteen spam messages in the past year. Not bad.

This past year, I received permission to set up a book exchange bookshelf in the group study area in the library. It’s not exactly an OBCZ, but it functions as such. I set up a separate account on BookCrossing and started registering books left there using that account rather than my regular one. I had been using my work email for that account, but I felt a bit uncomfortable about it. Also, I suspected that sometimes private messages and journal entry notifications were not getting through the campus email filters. I thought about setting up a Gmail account for that, but the idea of having to check yet another email account did not appeal to me. Then I realized I could just have everything forwarded from the library BookCrossing email account to my regular Gmail account. Brilliant! In no time I had the second account set up and forwarding messages. Thank you, Google!

gmail atom feed

Cool! I just noticed that I can grab an Atom feed for my Gmail inbox. After doing a quick search on this, it seems that I’m about four months behind on this news.

I probably won’t use this, since I hit my feed aggregator once or twice a day. I much prefer the Gmail Notifier sitting my systems tray.

gmail invites

I have more Gmail invitations to give away. I seem to have a never-ending supply of Gmail invites now, and all of my friends who want one have them, so from now on, they will be put in the isnoop.net’s gmail invite spooler.

I have more Gmail invitations to give away. If you would like a Gmail account, send me an email. You can also post a comment on this entry, but comments get closed after a while.

Update 1/25/05: I seem to have a never-ending supply of Gmail invites now, and all of my friends who want one have them, so from now on, they will be put in the isnoop.net’s gmail invite spooler.

speaking of gmail invites…

Do you have a bunch of Gmail invites to give away?

If you have Gmail invites to give away, but all of your friends and interested blog readers already have them, I ran across a website that will help you give them away to those who want a Gmail account. I gave away three of my remaining four, keeping one just in case.