Google continually enhances the products they provide to customers. We want to bring some of these to your attention and also give everyone a heads-up on recent efforts by IT's Google Support Team.
We would also like to encourage anyone with a special interest in Google, to join the LBL Google Users Group (primarily a mailing list which we use to provide advance notice of new features, request feedback, and follow community discussions). Join the group by going here.
A "New Employee Intro to Google" page was added. We have this linked under N (New employee ...) and G (Google ...) in the A-Z index and will be sending the link to each person who requests a new Google account. (This is linked off our main Google Help Center)
We are starting to explore Google Apps Scripting as a way to enhance our use of the product. A space on the Commons wiki was set up for anyone interested in writing scripts (or using ones others have written). For example, we have a method for users to forward a batch of email to someone else (after first labeling the messages of interest). This is a great solution for someone leaving the lab who wants to transfer job related emails to the person who is taking over responsibility for the position.
We have added Google+ (a social networking service) to the list of applications available to Lab Users. There is no "enterprise version" of Google+, so there are no boundary conditions (you are not restricted to seeing just LBL users or posting new content inside the Lab). One feature that we think is very useful is Hangouts. Hangouts provide a multi-person video conferencing capability. Recently, the ability to schedule an event with others was implemented - and these events will show up on your Google Calendar (once you accept an invitation that arrives in Gmail). Access to Google+ requires a registration effort and acceptance of terms and conditions. You will have to provide a birth date as part of this process. Google is not allowed to provide access to anyone under 13. If that situation is detected, the account is immediately disabled and you will not have access to any Google product, including email and calendar! . Be Careful !!!
Google Drive (was called Google Docs) has been out for several months. The changes were twofold: A new look for the Web user interface and the introduction of a desktop sync client for Macs and PCs. (Note - we are still in the "opt-in" stage where you can use the old "classic" look as well as the new look).
Google Drive's new desktop sync client continues to be a work in progress. We are closely following the Google Drive forums while we test the use of this "Dropbox" alternative at the Lab. We think this will eventually be a great addition - cloud based storage with sync to any number of workstations - but we think it is still a Beta Product. Try it with test files, but use it with caution.
The key issues (as reported by users worldwide) include excessive use of CPU resources, problems with XP service pack 3 systems (explorer crashes on some systems), the requirement to continually re-sync the contents of the workstation folder (even though only a few files have been changed), and some design issues that make it too easy to take a file or folder that has been shared with you and remove it from the original folder hierarchy established by the owner. We have also heard reports of lost data. We have no idea how often these issues surface, but since they are being reported, it is wise to go slow with adoption.