Google Book Search
Google Book Search is a place where you can actually look at digitized books. These books run the gamut of classics and children's literature, as well as various fiction and non-fiction titles. Some of these titles may be completely digitized so that you can read them online while others have only a certain number of pages being digitized, based on copyright restrictions. Searching on the word "genealogy" brought up books like The Source, Genealogy Online for Dummies, and the Complete Idiot's Guide to Genealogy, just to name a few. Use the Google Books search for books about the local history and region that you are researching. Even use it as a way to decide what genealogy how-to books you might like to add to your collections. Google Books can be found at http://books.google.com/bkshp?ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tab=wp.
Available from the Google homepage under the link "more," Google Documents or Google Docs, is a program that allows you to create documents, spreadsheets, and even online presentations for free. Kimberly Powell of About.com writes how her genealogy society uses the Google Docs spreadsheet program for transcribing projects. The information is kept online so that more than one person can help with a transcribing project; two people can even be working on the same spreadsheet at the same time. To look at Kimberly's articles see http://genealogy.about.com/b/2007/09/17/collaborating-online-with-google-docs-spreadsheets.htm. Dick Eastman has also written about Google Docs. His post includes comments from other genealogists and some helpful hints in using the program. For his article see, http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2007/08/google-docs-spr.html
Google Docs is like Microsoft Word and Excel, but it doesn't have all the features of those two products. But unlike the Microsoft products, you do not have to buy or download software. You simply go to the Google Docs website, http://docs.google.com , and start working. On your first visit, you will need to register by providing an e-mail address.
Picasa is a photo program that has some of the same features that more expensive photo editing software have. Once again, this is a free download and is available at http://picasa.google.com/index.html. Picasa has quite a few features. Once you install Picasa on your computer it goes to work organizing your pictures. It allows you to rename pictures quickly and even password protect images. You can "fix" pictures using Picasa, including red eye, cropping, and adjusting the color of photos. Picasa even allows you to write captions for your pictures. Picasa also helps you backup your photos, share, and even get creative like putting together a movie or a picture collage with your photos.
Blogger, https://www.blogger.com/start?hl=en, is Google's blog provider. Through Blogger you can create your own blogs to share your thoughts, photos, family history, or anything else you would like to write about. Blogs are perfect for those who feel that they do not have the skills to set up their own web page. Blogs require no HTML or other computer language skills. You simply write your thoughts using Blogger's interface, click on "publish," and blogger adds them to your blog. Blogger allows you to pick your URL (site name) name and the design of you blog. Don't worry, this is really easy and just requires you to click on buttons to select what you want your blog to look like. Blogs are perfect for people who may want to share information but want an easy, fast way to do it.
Google has even more
There are many other programs that Google provides, including a free Internet based e-mail provider called Gmail; a blog search engine, a reader for keeping up with blogs and web sites; and much more. Check out http://www.google.com/intl/en/options/ to read about each Google feature and to see how they can make your genealogy research easier.