Written by WATYF on Friday, 30 September 2005 (7521 hits)
Last time I drooled over the latest web-tech from Google, it was because of a cool new feature in Google Maps. This time... they've made a few enhancements (or should I say, optional enhancements) to their homepage. As ahead-of-the-curve as Google has always been, their homepage has always been very minimalistic and simple (which is one of the things I always liked about them). Most search engines flood their landing page with so much content, and news feeds, and crap that you have to squint just to find the "Search" field (which is the only reason you go to the page in the first place). But Google has always had a very uncluttered, fast-loading home page that gives you exactly what you need, and nothing more... but now, thanks to their latest groovy toy, you can have your cake, and actually find the freaking Search field too...
Google has finally decided to join the ranks of the "customizable homepage" providers, and they've done it in style, as expected. If you go to the new Google Personalized Homepage you can see what a sample looks like. Sign in using your Google account (created using a gmail account, or any other email account), and you can change the home page to display pretty much anything you want.
Want a five day weather forecast for your town...? You got it. Want the top ten (or five, or two) news stories...? Sports stories...? Tech updates...? Stock updates...? You got it. Wanna see a snapshot of the latest email in your inbox...? You got it. Want a "Word of the Day" (to expand your neanderthalic vocabulary)...? You go it. Wanna see the top movies that are playing in your area, and what people are saying about them? You got it.
You name it... you can add it to your homepage just by clicking on the Add Content link on the upper left corner. And once you add it, you can customize how it is displayed. If you don't like where it is on the page... do you have to go through some cheesy "up/down" process to get the box moved to the right area of the screen???? Noooooooo.... Just click on the content and drag it wherever you want it to go.
What's that you say? They don't list your favorite news site? Or you favorite tech site? Or your favorite blog? Well then, just go to the "Create a Section" area and enter the RSS feed of your favorite site. You can see the latest items from any blog, or news site, or whatever.
And the great thing about it is.... it still doesn't look cluttered. There are no adds. No promotions for their products or affiliates... No superabundance of links to crap that you don't care about. Not one drop of content that you don't personally choose to keep on the page.
I honestly tried to use another customized home page a while back (because I liked the idea of having instant weather updates and what not), but I just couldn't stand all the junk that I had to deal with just to use it... so I stopped. But now, I think I've finally found a home page that won't drive me crazy.
Thanks Google... you're the bomb.
(Note to Google: Endorsement checks can be sent to "WATYF", C/O MusicalNerdery.com )