Friday, January 29, 2010

Switching to Google

In the last couple of months, I've made the following transitions:

MovableType to Blogger
Total success. MovableType was a pain in the ass and overkill in terms of features. Blogger allows me to do what I need fairly easily, which is just get stuff published online.

Firefox to Chrome
Mixed bag. I like the UI for Chrome, but it doesn't really seem like it's any faster than Firefox. I know others have complained about extensions/plugins, but as someone that never really got into FF extensions, it's no big deal. And it seems like that gap is closing.

Blackberry to Droid
Another mixed bag. I've spent the last two years in business school, so I haven't been using my phone for a whole lot of serious emailing. My data usage was almost entirely surfing the internet while I waited in line somewhere or catching up on my blog reading while my little girls were playing. The Droid is a much better phone for that type of "internetting," but it isn't as easy to use when I'm forced to write the occasional email that's longer than a sentence or two. I've also been a little disappointed with the battery life. I generally charge my phone each night, but I don't always remember. The Blackberry could absolutely survive a two-day jag before recharging. The Droid, however, cannot survive an every-other-night recharging schedule. It's only a minor complaint, but a complaint nonetheless.

One last comment on the Droid. Coming from an older BB curve, the Android Market (ie App Store) is an amazing improvement. It's fantastic to be able to download a stopwatch app or a new game. But in general, the apps seem like the kind of shareware crap you'd find on the windows platform 15 years ago: Crappy UI and marginal utility. I suppose it's early in the game, but this is one area where I envy iPhone owners. From what I've seen, the Apps approved by Apple tend to be much more polished.

Bloglines to Google Reader
Total Success. I started using bloglines to track my blogs back in 2005 or so. It was a big improvement over pulling RSS feeds into My Yahoo because the emphasis was on keeping things marked as "unread" until I had read them. In the last 18 months or so, they made a further improvement in their Beta product to mark things as read as you scrolled past them (rather than marking all articles as "read" as soon as you clicked into that blog). The downside for Bloglines was that they never moved that product out of beta, and they never ported that functionality over to their mobile site. Google Reader has been a big improvement, if only for their mobile version, which behaves almost exactly how I want it to.

And who doesn't love a little data? I get a kick out of these little charts they give you:

This particular chart shows that most of my blog-reading (orange bars) has been in the morning right after I've woken up, during the girls' naptime and after the girls have gone to bed. It doesn't get much cooler than that for a data nerd like me.

Switching to Google
On the whole, I'm pretty happy with my new-ish Google products, but I hope they continue to improve and innovate. They're not all the way there yet.

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