Google Drive Tutorial (Part 2): How to use Google Cloud programs and sites

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Google Cloud

Google Cloud programs and sites

Today’s post will cover the basics that are important to understand when working with the Cloud.  As a refresher I’d like to reiterate that we are in the early stages of the a very long tutorial on the Google Drive site and software.  Last week we covered an introduction to the idea of Google Cloud and went over some examples of what you would likely use Google Drive for.

If you haven’t read the first article in the series here’s the full list.

  1. Introduction to the Cloud 

  2. How to use Google programs & sites

  3. Google Drive

  4. Google Docs

  5. Google Spreadsheets

  6. Google Presentations

  7. Google Drawing

  8. Google Forms

  9. Other Google Drive features

This week we will continue where we left off covering more specifically

  • What Google expects you to know

  • Features of the Browser

  • How to get in and out of the Cloud

  • Basic differences between the Cloud and your computer

What Google Expects of you

I’ve heard some new users of the web complain that there seems to be a minimum expectation for how to use the programs on the web.  That the companies, like Google, create products for the web and think that everyone is already aware of the basics.  If you had to use a computer to access these sites, do you have to be an intermediate-level user?

Google does have some expectations of the people who use it’s website.  These expectations include the following, that the user…

  • comprehends the concept of “login” / “logout”

  • knows what a user account is

  • knows how to keep track of a password

If any of these concepts seem foreign to you, then it might be reasonable to review the basics further.  This article isn’t going to cover these, more basic concepts, but I would be happy to help anyone who needs more instruction via email (wes@tekhandy.com).

Features of the Browser

Browsers

There are many options for accessing the internet through a web browser.  If you’re using a Windows-based computer, the default will be Internet Explorer.  If you’re using a Mac, the default will be Safari.  If you’re using Linux, I’m not sure how much of this tutorial will be news to you.  There are other web browsers such as Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox, that have been found to actually exceed the use and popularity of the defaults for Windows and Mac.

Tabs

Since the mid-2000’s, a common tool in the use of a browser is in tabs. Like in a filing cabinet, tabs are used to track multiple web browser pages.  Before tabs, a person would open multiple instances (or windows) of a web browser.  Tabs in the browser allow the user to keep multiple screens of information open within one window as separate from other running programs.

Plugins

Web browsers can handle many versions of multimedia, like video and audio. Some browsers support software that can be connected to offer additional functions, these are called plugins, addons, or extensions.  I commonly used plugin / addon is a toolbar. The toolbar isn’t part of the browser, but can be connected into it for the added functionality.

How to get in and out of the Cloud

Google requires that you have an email account to gain access to their Cloud services.  You can use your own email account or you can create a Google Gmail account.  Gmail accounts are free, and require very little personal information to get started.  You can create an using your own email address by visiting any Google site, such as http://drive.google.com and clicking the “Sign Up” button in the upper right-hand corner.  Or you can create an account using http://www.gmail.com

Once you have created an account or signed-up using your own account, you will have access to the full suite of Google web sites. The complement of Google sites includes the following

  • Gmail

  • Plus

  • Docs

  • Drive

  • Voice

  • Books

  • Photos

  • Calendar

  • Magazines

  • Movies & TV

This list includes the primary sites, but there are actually several others that are not pertinent to this post.  That probably seems like a lot of stuff to have access to, and you’d be correct, but we’re only going to be discussing Docs and Drive in this entire tutorial.

Because Google gives you so much stuff, they want to make sure that it is secure and request that you take the appropriate steps when entering and exiting your doors to the Cloud.  Try to make sure that the password you’ve created is difficult for someone else to guess and easy for you to remember.  Here’s a great site for instructions on how to make a password like that.

http://wjlambert.hubpages.com/hub/Smart-Memorable-Passwords

It is important to always cleanly exit from using the Cloud by properly logging out.  I am making this distinction to draw your attention to the fact that just closing the window is not a “clean” exit.  It is important to declare that you have finished working in the Cloud by click on the “logout” button, to let Google know that you are done and no further actions should be made on your account.

Basic differences between the Cloud and your computer

It may not always be apparent what the differences are between the Cloud and your computer.  With internet connections that are always on and available through cell phones, DSL, and Cable, there might not seem like there is any difference.  In the long past there were computers alone without connectivity to anything.  Then local networks were developed and computers could be connected to others in the same vicinity.  Then the internet came about and computers could be connected to each other over vast distances.

The Cloud is a large group of computers that your computer can connect to through the internet, that are working together as a team to provide services to you; in this case Google Cloud services.  These services can provide features to you that should act like programs that you once (or still do) had only locally on your computer.  Google Docs and Google Drive provide these features and services.

The significant difference between your computer and the Cloud are the added features of internet connectivity and the vast capabilities associated therein.  It is beyond the scope of this tutorial to examine all the possibilities available through the internet and the Cloud.  But we will at least cover word processing, spreadsheet creation, and the ability to share with the world these services.

 

Next week we will finally be digging into the meat of this tutorial to give you a definite idea of the word processing capabilities of Google Drive.  If you still feel that the explanation above is too vague or complex, please do not hesitate to send me an email wes@tekhandy.com and I will be glad to explain further.  Be sure to check out the Glossary for new terms from this, and every article on TekHandy.com

Have a Great Friday and weekend

– Wes


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