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I Used Google for Everything for 30 Days, and Here’s What Happened

I Used Google for Everything for 30 Days, and Here’s What Happened

So as a long-form experiment regarding online life, I decided to cut myself off of online services and products that aren’t Google-owned or operated for a month. I was hoping to see just how far their reach was online and whether they could potentially gain a monopoly on the online marketplace. They clearly are the most popular search engine, but what about other services?

I had to find out. So I signed up or activated nearly every Google service under the sun, minimized all the others and started my journey. By the end, I hoped to answer the following questions. Here are my resulting thoughts:

Did I Miss Out on Essential Services?

My initial fears going into this project were mostly related to the services I thought essential. I used Amazon a lot. Would I be missing out in terms of being able to get products I needed? I used other tools for scheduling and planning my day-to-day activities. Would Google Calendar be able to suit all of my needs? Would my video calls be impossible?

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After 30 days, I felt partially inconvenienced, but there were no major issues in my life. On occasion, I was left out of certain events or told about certain information later than others. Many of my issues weren’t necessarily related to the inferiority of Google services and products, but the unpopularity of those services. Google Docs and Google Drive were mostly sufficient for my career needs. It was possible to take care of most of my shopping needs through searching with Google, even if it wasn’t as convenient.

I also imagine others having a completely different result depending on their lifestyle and profession. Google doesn’t have total dominance yet, and it shows. Google might not be enough if special needs are taken into consideration.

Could I Communicate?

It was a tad more difficult to reach people I don’t talk with too often, but after mentioning on social media platforms that I would be taking a month-long respite, people were quite understanding. Anyone who was concerned about contacting me got either my Gmail address or my phone number. Even Google admits that its social media platforms aren’t doing all that well in comparison with the industry leaders, so while I got more involved with Google Plus, it wasn’t all that useful. A social network requires people to network on it.

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While it was nice at the end of the month to scroll back and see what happened, I didn’t feel like I was missing all that much. Maybe I missed out on a sale that wasn’t communicated to me through a Google product or service, but I considered the opportunity costs of my time. Using only Google limited my communications to an extent, but they weren’t cut off. Instead, in my experience, they were filtered down to what truly mattered.

What About Entertainment?

So I didn’t have Netflix or Hulu for a month. It wasn’t too big a deal. YouTube is owned and controlled by Google, so nearly all of my video needs were met. While it is reliant upon content creators and licensing, there wasn’t too much of a concern when I needed something to do online. I even signed up for YouTube Red and got a pass for Google Music as part of the deal. While the services might not have been my first choice when it comes to streaming services, they proved sufficient enough. YouTube Red’s original content, however, was positively terrible.

I learned by the end that there is always something to watch on a platform given enough searching, minimizing the importance of a particular service. I still don’t have my Netflix account back, and more often do I actively search for content that fits my needs, not what I’m told I’d like. I feel simultaneously more trusting of Google and dismissive of its results.

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How Did You Deal with Smartphone Use?

Fortunately, I already had a phone running Android when I started the project, so in those terms, it was relatively easy to use my smartphone for browsing and online services just like my computer. Other than neglecting a few social networks and services I rarely used anyway, such as the freeware that came on my phone, I didn’t really pay much attention to the differences.

As far as keeping touch with friends and family to clarify plans or send quick messages, I found that the standard of texting and calling remained true. Google dominates the internet, but the internet doesn’t completely dominate our lives just yet. Its reach hasn’t become one with the air around us.

How Did I Feel by the End?

To be perfectly honest, I felt concerned with the ability of Google to do just about everything. One wonders about the ability of the market to control such a beast. While Google does some things (searching and email) better than others (Google Plus), there remains the fact that it has the infrastructure to dominate should another tech giant go under. Combine that with the visions the company has for the future and what could come out of their experiments, we can feel excited toward new technology yet cautious about how it’ll get used.

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On a smaller scale, I felt mildly inconvenienced, yet fine. The truth remains that while we do need the internet to work and communicate, a lot of other needs are manufactured and our time would be better spent reading books and growing gardens than checking new messages. Checking my Gmail served a purpose, but what was the purpose of checking Payton Manning’s Twitter every day? By the nature of the experiment, I was connected just a little less with technology, and it had a positive effect on my mind and spirit.

Do you have any thoughts on Google’s growing presence online? Are you afraid that they might become too powerful and form a monopoly on online life? Do you think there are any legitimate alternatives? Please leave a comment below and tell us what you think, and then get your friends in on the conversation.

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Published on September 20, 2018

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

Minimizing Tabs

Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

Incognito Mode

Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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  1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
  2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
  3. Download extension New Incognito Window

This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

Save Webpages as PDF Files

Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

Open Recently-closed Tabs

Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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Solve Mathematical Problems

Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

Play Media Files

Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

Stay Focus(e)d

Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

Grammarly for Editing

Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

Loom

There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

Chrome Calendar Extension

No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

Final Thoughts

Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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