A dear friend of mine has often been quoted to say "If only Google could run this country, we'd be golden". And who could argue with that? The plethora of free products and simplified technologies that Google offers has rocked my mama-world in more ways than one.
First of all, Google Reader (along with iGoogle) changed my life. I went from clicking on dozens of blogs each day to having them display easily and accessibly in a tiny little box on my iGoogle home page. This alone saved many minutes a day. As a stay at home mom, do you know how quickly "many minutes a day" adds up? That equals one more sip of cocoa I could take, two more minutes of free time in the shower, or three more minutes to actually indulge in providing sustenance for my body (aka eating).
Then there's Google alerts, the handle little tool where you can get "email updates on the topic of your choice". < No more time wasted entering searches manually, or browsing news sites for the best celebrity gossip, stock market information, or "world's dumbest criminals" news stories. With Google updates, simply enter keywords or search terms, how often you'd like the friendly "GoogleBot" to monitor for these terms, and your email address. Soon, you'll be getting instant alerts in your inbox and can begin watching for if your name ever pops up in the news (yet to happen).
But the kicker has been Picasa, Google's photo sharing and editing software. They aren't lying when they say Picasa is "The easy way to find, edit, and share your photos". Look, I've tried multiple photo sharing and editing applications. Most don't have enough editing power or options, others aren't intuitive, and some require visitors to sign up to view web albums. Photoshop is fantastic when you want to pull out the big guns of editing. But for the everyday snapshots, I want something quick and easy to appease my out-of-state family in their desire for daily photo montages. Picasa makes this process seamless.
I love the very simple editing tools that give you much more flexibility and power than any other standard free photo editing software. Nothing beats the way Picasa organizes and files photos, allowing you to tag them so that you can type in keywords or dates and locate a photo instantly. After you are done adding some fancy contrast and sharpness here and fill light there, there is a plethora of options for sharing and uploading. Picasa has one-click buttons that allow you to upload your photos to a Picasa album, Flickr, a blog, or even Google Earth. You also have the option (again, in one easy click) to create a photo collage or a movie presentation with your photos.
Picasa is the only free photo editing and sharing application I would recommend to grandparents, folks just getting into digital photo sharing, or anyone like me who just needs one more minute to catch their breath and the upload that photo of her daughter covered in Nutella.
Now to find a way to overthrow a democracy in favor of a "Googlacracy"...