Thanks for all the goodies, Google.
Okay, I'll admit it: I love the toys that Google puts out. I use GMail for all of my personal e-mail, I schedule appointments with Calendar, and I use a bunch of their plug-ins for Firefox to pimp it out. Now I'm going to share with you all of the goodies you should be using but probably aren't.
I've become an instant fan of the Google Toolbar's and its "Subscribe" button. It lets you add a feed to various blog-tracking services. Feeds are basically a condensed version of what's on the website and you use them with a feed reader or aggregator to see snippets of a new post without having to go check the website all the time. This is especially handy when you use an aggregator service like Bloglines that lets you view the whole list on a webpage you can access from anywhere. (Hat tip to Joy for posting on LinkUp about it and getting me in the know.) Google can use the Subscribe button to add the feed to your Bloglines page, Google Reader, or several other aggregator services. It took about 3 minutes to add all of the websites I like to check on a regular basis.
Firefox 2.0 will have the Subscribe feature built-in. Even without Subscribe, I find the Google Toolbar useful for doing quick searches for images and maps. It also has anti-phishing tools and will highlight search terms when you visit a page. It may not seem like much, but I highly recommend it.
If you're a multi-computer user like me, you'll appreciate Google Notebook and Google Browser Sync. Google Notebook lets you right-click any highlighted text in FireFox and add it to a little notepad stored in your Google account. You can access it from any web browser or use the Notebook plugin to pull in up quickly. Browser Sync is even more useful. It allows you to make a backup of your bookmarks, saved passwords, history, and cookies, then sync them to another copy of Firefox. This lets me bookmark something at work and have it show up on my computer at home. I'm also planning to use it to sync between my desktop and laptop. If you're security-minded, don't worry: you encrypt all backed up settings using a PIN of your choice.
You can also use Google's Docs & Spreadsheets app to compose entries before posting them to your blog. This is most useful if you can't get to your blog site from school or work. I use it all the time to store documents that I need to stay portable and available to me. You can also upload Microsoft Office files to it.
I get a lot of use out of the Calendar for keeping track of appointments and generating e-mail reminders to myself. You can share it out with other users letting them view or add items to your calendar. I've been using it to keep track of when I've planned things to do on the weekends since I can never manage to keep it all straight in my head. I even let Shauna in to add stuff to it (though she has yet to do so).
There's the highlights of all of the neat toys those gnomes keep pumping out that I'm a fan of. Go give 'em a shot.