Blog Archive

28 January 2008

Google Docs Offline Access

In a post Philipp made last week about writing a book in Google Docs, he said:

Working with Google Docs requires an internet connection. In my case, I need this internet connection anyway [...] your mileage may vary (and who knows, Google may also release Gears-support for Google Docs in the future).

After playing around with one of Google’s not-so-private experimental sites, I can confirm that offline access is currently being tested. When I visited the site recently, I saw this message:

Of course, I clicked the link and this popped up:

Google Gears is a browser extension for Firefox 1.5+ and Internet Explorer 6.0+ that enables web applications to provide offline functionality through JavaScript APIs. (It also has its own blog.) Other companies – like Remember The Milk and Zoho – are already making use of Google Gears, but the only official Google integration is for Google Reader (although evidence that offline functionality is coming to Google Calendar has also been spotted).

After enabling offline access and confirming the security warning for Google Gears, my documents started to synchronize, just the same as feed items synchronize in Google Reader. (In case you encounter any error messages, Google allows you to reset and disable offline access through the offline access settings dialog box.)

Disappointingly, I wasn’t able to actually view or edit any of my documents after going offline; I could only view them in the document list and received a Firefox “Offline mode” message when I tried. However, I was able to perform simple operations like renaming and starring them while being offline, which were successfully synchronized once I reconnected.

As you can see from the screenshot above, it looks like offline access might be initially introduced just for documents, rather than spreadsheets and presentations which are grayed out like other options in the menu, such as creating a new document, uploading and sharing.

From what I’ve seen, I think it’s clear that offline access is obviously still in its early stages, but it’s reassuring to see that Google is actively improving its online office applications to make them also work offline like the desktop applications we’re all used to.

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23 January 2008

Google Health Login Page

By Tony Ruscoe & Philipp Lenssen

Want to get a first live glimpse of Google Health, which Google’s Marissa Mayer announced will be rolled out in early 2008? Point your browser to:

However, I didn’t get past the login screen, so all we see at the moment is the intro page. It reads:

With Google Health, you can:
* Build online health profiles that belong to you
* Download medical records from doctors and pharmacies
* Get personalized health guidance and relevant news
* Find qualified doctors and connect to time-saving services
* Share selected information with family or caregivers

Also see the previously surfaced Google Health screenshots.

Update: Tony says, “And now the template has been pulled so it looks the same as the usual login pages”.

Update 2 (May 2008): Google Health is live now; it was presented at the Google Factory Tour.

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18 January 2008

Google Sites Closer to Launch?

Since October 2006 when Google announced they had acquired Jotspot – the wiki hosting service which allows you to create “rich web-based spreadsheets, calendars, documents and photo galleries” by using their wiki applications – people have been waiting for Google to do something with it.

Just over four months ago, in September 2007, I reported that JotSpot was coming to Google Apps after clues were found for a service called “Google Wiki” in the Google Apps login pages. Soon after that post, all traces of the service disappeared.

Almost two months later, a new subdomain was, similar to the previously referenced subdomain which never worked – adding to the speculation that Jotspot would replace Google Page Creator. By this time, the login pages had resurfaced on Google Apps and the Jotspot login page for had started working; any requests made to were redirecting there too. But for all other domains running on Google Apps, the login page simply displayed “Error” as the service name. *

Shortly after those discoveries, TechCrunch reported on Google’s plans for Google Apps in 2008. In the post, they quoted notes taken by blogger Andrew Miller at a presentation by Googler Scott Johnston, who was the VP of Product Development at Jotspot before it was acquired by Google:

Google Sites: Scheduled to be launched sometime next year (2008), Google Sites will expand upon the Google Page Creator already offered within Apps. Based on JotSpot collaboration tools, Sites will allow business to set up intranets, project management tracking, customer extranets, and any number of custom sites based on multi-user collaboration.

Around the same time, requests to started redirecting to a new URL which included the subdomain instead.

What’s new?

The Google Apps control panel stylesheet now includes styles and an icon () for sites in preparation for displaying the service in Google Apps accounts and the title on the login page has changed from “Error” to “Pages“ – and then finally, in the last 10 days, it’s changed to “Sites”.

We all know how long it can take Google to roll-out new services, but could these final touches mean that Jotspot’s successor Google Sites is slowly getting closer to launch?

* Calls to this page for non-activated services would usually display the service name, whereas a real error would return a “Bad request” error message instead.

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14 January 2008

Mor Brane Traineing?

For Christmas, Suzy got More Brain Training from Dr Kawashima: How Old is Your Brain for her Nintendo DS. I’ve been playing it a little bit to see whether I’ve managed to maintain my “brain age” of 20, which is the best score you can get and what I achieved on the last version. (I’m currently scoring the same as my real age, so that’s pretty good given that my brain’s probably a bit out of practice.)

Anyway, one of the new games to help train your brain is Word Blend. Several words are played simultaneously through the speaker and you then have to write on the screen what you heard, testing your hearing and spelling abilities. After several failed attempts to write down one of the words I heard the other day, I finally gave up. And what did it say the answer was?


How can I ever trust Dr Kawashima again?!

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5 January 2008


In my first post of 2007 I listed some resolutions and told you to come back in a year to find out how I got on. So let’s compare how I actually did with how I thought I’d do...

  1. Run the Sheffield Half Marathon – 0% (down from 99%)
  2. Try to look smarter at work – 75% (down from 95%)
  3. Eat evening meals at the table – 50% (down from 90%)
  4. Play guitar for at least one hour every week – 10% (down from 85%)
  5. Give blood more regularly – 100% (up from 80%)
  6. Only go on my PC if I’ve got something I actually need to do – 75% (up from 50%)
  7. Play my trumpet every once in a while – 0% (down from 30%)
  8. Get an allotment to grow my own vegetables – 0% (down from 20%)
  9. Volunteer my services to the local amateur theatrical society – 0% (down from 10%)
  10. Come up with an idea for a website that will make me rich – 0% (down from 1%)
  11. Watch more live bands – 100% (up from 75%)

Basically I managed to go through with six out of eleven (to some extent) but only completely managed to keep to two. Due to my poor success rate, I will not be making any resolutions for 2008. I’ll just try to make sure that Daddy McRiley sticks to his and use the rest of my time to master Guitar Hero III on my Wii!

(If you want to see how I’m doing, check out my profile on the Guitar Hero Community website. And if you’ve got Guitar Hero on the Wii and fancy challenging me, let me know your friend code.)

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