Reflections from Google Apps Certified Trainer Meetup

This is one of the huge welcoming signs for Go...Image via Wikipedia
So, I finally completed the certification process for becoming a Google Apps for Education Certified Trainer. Yesterday, we had a meetup in the Google offices in downtown Chicago with the live feed from Mountain View, and although I learned a few things I'm not allowed to share, I'd like to reflect on a few nuggets of Google goodness that's open knowledge but might have flown under the radar.

Demo Slams
We had a few rounds of pseudo slams at our meetup, but there are some really cool and funny ones here at the official site. With a beautiful interactive interface, demo slam pits two videos (pressure is on to make yours short, slick, funny, and engaging) against each other with users picking the champion. The goal is to promote a Google application in a new and innovative way, and I have to admit, the videos do inspire me to Google Translate or make me appreciate Google Instant more than I already do. We'll see if  I get the courage (and time) to create a slam, and/or if the site continues to grow and allow for more creative uses of technology.
I recently showed this to a small group of teachers, and I love the URL shortening tool. Although not much different from other popular shorteners, is nice in that it is integrated with your Google account, and thus allows for near real time statistics (clicks by country, browser, platform) and other goodies such as QR codes. I do like the custom naming capability of other shorteners (free for tiny.url), but it was mentioned that Google's emphasis is on speed, and I will attest that the urls are faster (if only on the order of milliseconds).

Chrome Extensions
Lastly, just as I'm preparing a post on Firefox add-ons, we discussed some really cool Google Chrome extensions. I tend to have multiple browsers open during any work session, with each having its particular advantages for the websites that I need to view. However, I will say that because a growing majority of tabs involve something Google, Chrome has grown to be my browser of choice. Thus, it's only natural to check out the Extensions gallery to see what could prove to be helpful. We were directed to a blog post on how to "Use Chrome like a Pro" as well as a page that features available extensions. Before I even left the meeting, I had Google Voice (shows messages and count), Google Dictionary (double click for definition), and Send from Gmail (makes Gmail the default for compose mail) installed. Similar to Labs, Extensions looks like a great place for you to find the coolest and more importantly, the most useful ways to get the most out of your browsing experience.

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