I say portal, you say what?

I don’t particularly like portals. I look at the default pages of excite, or yahoo or the many like them and just get turned off and move along rapidly. When BT upgraded to BTYahoo, I got sent emails and phonecalls trying to get me to upgrade the software to their broweser, with one of the selling points being the BT home page that would bring me everythng I need – in other words a portal. I declined to upgrade on line and got them to send me a CD. They ticked me off their list..the CD is probably under the bed somewhere, still unopened.

I use MyYahoo! mainly for one reason – an online version of the Outlook calendar at work. As mobile technology is something we lack, the only other way to access appointments would be to carry the laptop around with me and boot it up. Instead I synch the calender and when I wake up in the morning check on the home PC (always on) whether I have to rush to catch the train or can take it easy. The only other content I have on it are the night’s TV programmes and my horoscope for a laugh.

And, finally to the point of this post – A look at Google’s latest offeringFusion. A portal by anyother name, they seem reluctant to call it that. It’s still at the Labs phase, so the offereing is not yet comprehensive.

Look and Form

The look is pure Google, simple, clean lines. The personalisable elements are confined to a section below the search bar. This can leave plenty of white space on the page. The interface is neat, with the modules/widgets (what do I call them) able to be picked up by the mouse and dragged around the page to be dropped elsewhere. This was my first disappointment, I wanted to drag the elements to the corners of the page, but the functionality is confined to a middle strip, and only to certain positions – it’s a three column layout. So all I can do is order within a table. MyYahoo has the same restrctions, content can only be placed in certain areas. The difference here is that placement is drag and drop on the page instead of from an editing page.

Another annoyance is that if I only have one row, I don’t appear to be able to drop the widgets down the page, creating space between them and the search box. SO the page now looks clutter. I’d like to jsut have a few of the options on the bottom of the page.

Content

Google has an editing page too, to add or remove the widgets. Currently, the choice is very restricted – only 12 option:

  • 5 News feeds (NYT, BBC, Wired, Slashdot and Google News)
  • Stock Market feeds (you can chose your stocks)
  • Driving Directions; provides UK as well as US.
  • Trivia – both Word and Quote of the day
  • Weather feed – not working today
  • Gmail feed – also not working yet

In comparison, MyYahoo has around 36 content items, one of which is a completely customisable RSS feed. So Google has a lot of catching up to do here. Understanding that it is a new beta, I guess this is likely to change.

Normally, if I’m online, I have 2 pages open by default – Gmail and Bloglines. So if I was to change to use this google consistently I’d want the gmail interface to work and the feeds to be configurable so that I keep keep track of all my feeds through one widget only

So I only need to have one page open which covers most of what i use now. Provide calender synching in another, then I’ll be really happy. I’d still likely to go and use lots of other pages to do the other things though.

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