The other day, I was called up by a friend who had an emergency. We had three straight days of rain in the St. Louis area and his house was at the bottom of a hill. Water seeks its own level and the water pressure had built up around the foundations of his house (hydrostatic pressure) causing the water to seep in. To make matters worse, he was out of town and his 8-month pregnant wife was trying to control the water damage while taking care of their two children. When I arrived, water was streaming down the walls in multiple streams, not unlike what you would see in an underground cave, but not as bad as the waterfall pictured below. As a sat there with a bunch of towels, electric fans, and a Shop Vac barely keeping up with the flow, it occurred to me that this was an appropriate metaphor for the deluge of information that I and probably most people receive every day. It was hard enough just a few years ago to keep up with e-mail and voicemail, and now we have Facebook, Twitter, RSS Feeds etc. That is why I am a big fan of widgets and the iGoogle homepage, which can set up with a free Google account.
There are quite a few of my friends who are critical of Google, but in my opinion, they do thing right (I am in no way affiliated with Google, but just a fan). In our business, we use Google Apps, Google Chrome for a browser, and today I was lucky enough to purchase a Motorola Droid which runs on Google Android. My hompage incorporates several different widgets that help me control the flow of information and makes me more efficient. These are the three widgets that I recommend if you plan to try out this application:
1.) TwitterGadget – Checks my Twitter feed every 3 minutes and allows me to “retweet” very easily.
2.) Facebook – This widget acts like a little browser within the page and is easy to navigate.
3.) Google Reader – I read many blogs and this is simple way to sort and prioritize my feeds.
I don’t like to scroll so these widgets let me see all my feeds on one screen. In addition, there are many other widgets and newsfeeds that allow you to customize your homepage according your personal preference. As for my friend’s basement, the rain eventually stopped and major damage was averted. It may not be major damage if you miss some information, but if you lose control, the flood can overwhelm you.