If you tell enough stories, perhaps the moral will show up.


That Google Account

Has anyone noticed how useful Google Docs has got lately? Obviously it's not Office 2003, nor Open Office 2, nor even Office 97. But I'm more and more finding it to be the natural home for my reference documents, drafts and other oddments. The collaboration features look interesting, and probably work well for all I know, but for me what counts is the accessibility from any of about half a dozen computers. Content search and tagging isn't a huge deal at the moment, but I know it'll save my bacon when the volume goes up, or when I upload all that stuff I used to keep on my Palm.

The limitations and problems are more and more obviously the consequence of hosting it in HTML. The tables reek (I do a lot of things in tables) but HTML tables do reek. Layout for paper is actually useless -- but I'm blaming the browsers.

And really, I find that there's a large slice of what I do where rough and ready is OK -- almost anything is OK -- if I can rely on getting at it from the computer I'm working on. That plan I'm working on in odd moments can only be a Google spreadsheet. I don't need a fair printable version of my CV, but I do need to be able to keep the copy up to date. And Blogger is a terrible place to hold draft articles like this one.

The security angle ought to be obvious. I set up my Google account so I could customise my searches, or something, and the password was some old joe job. (It isn't UMACF24, but you get the idea). By stages, stealthily, that same rotten password now defends:

  • My email, calendar, and the management of my domain (Google Apps for Your Domain)
  • A bunch of documents and plans (Google Docs)
  • My Blog
  • And probably other stuff I've forgotten.
I can change that. I'll have to allocate a "public site -- reputation/convenience" password now -- that's just one stage short of Paypal/banking. But, unfortunately, it's still just a password. And If I want to get the full benefit from Google, I'll have to use it on untrusted, bugged machines.

So, "Hey Google: It's time for a second factor!".

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