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How to Hold Virtual Office Hours in Google Wave


The best use of Google Wave’s new anonymous access feature is public group chats on a specific topic that anyone can watch or refer to on a vanilla web page, no Wave login required. Last week, in lieu of IRC, I started holding virtual “office hours” with the ThinkTank community, and it’s been super fun and productive. Here’s how I set things up.

To restrict access to a wave to a particular group, you’ll need a Google Group. The ThinkTank developer community mailing list is already a Google Group, so we were all set. Grab the group’s email address, and add it to your contacts in Wave. Then, add the group as a participant to a new wave to give all mailing list members edit access to the wave. To make the group wave available for anyone to read, you’ve got to have your Google Group set up correctly. In your group’s settings area, in the Access tab, make sure “Anyone can view group content” is checked, as shown here.

Next, schedule your office hours. I hold ours at 9AM Pacific time on Wednesday mornings, for about 90 minutes. When it’s time for office hours–or you just want to find all the group waves–search for group:yourgroupsemailaddress@googlegroups.com. (To see all the ThinkTank office hours transcripts, search for group:thinktankapp@googlegroups.com in Wave.)

While your chat is happening, or after the fact, you can give the whole world access by embedding it on a web page, using the new Wave web element. Here’s last Wednesday’s ThinkTank office hours wave.

The advantage of using Wave over straight group chat or IRC is that several conversational branches can happen simultaneously in the same workspace. While Chris and Mark discussed the transition to PDO in one thread, Bill and I discussed MVC frameworks in another–and it was easy to hop back and forth between them, because Wave supports inline threads.

In my experience, a wave that’s limited to a small group with a specific purpose–like developers discussing a project–is WAY more productive and useful than a public wave that anyone can add to. Those, inevitably, always lead to all-out anarchy, unless the moderator is willing to do aggressive, long-term gardening. To me, Wave’s best use is small groups working on specific projects, and weekly office hours is one really good way for remote teams to touch base about any number of topics in a single place.

Google Wave isn’t dead; in fact, tons of minor-but-important features have rolled out even since Adam and I published the first edition of The Complete Guide to Google Wave two months ago. (Here’s the changelog.) The fact that Google I/O sessions next week will be waved indicates a strong commitment to Wave from Google in general. For more on what’s been going on with Wave, check out my post about it at Fast Company, How Google Wave Got Its Groove Back.

Google Wave Adds Email Notifications [Notifications]

Google just turned on email notifications in Wave. That's great news if you've gotten your hands on an invite but haven't kept up with the going-ons inside—easy to do when you're not in the habit of visiting the site.

Using notifications is pretty simple stuff (click the drop-down next to your Inbox to see the dialog pictured above), and the implementation seems smart:

From the Notifications menu, you can select the frequency of your email updates. If you are an infrequent Google Wave user we would recommend the “immediately” setting, but you can change it at any time.

When you’re added to a new wave, or a wave that you are on changes, we’ll send you an email with a short summary of the text and links to go straight to your updated waves. Rest assured, we know waves can change a lot, so we will only send you one notification about a changed wave until you have logged in to look at it (i.e.: if a wave changes 10 times after we send the first notification, we won’t send 10 more emails). Waves you have open also won’t trigger updates.

Maybe you won’t need to run a completely separate Wave notifier to keep up with Wave after all.






Google Wave in Action: Real-World Use Case Studies [Use Cases]

A week ago we asked readers to tell us how they’re using Google Wave in their daily lives, and despite a bit of “ha! no one’s using Wave!” snarking on the Twitter, we got lots of interesting responses.

Unsurprisingly, most Wavers use it as a real-time wiki, but some take advantage of features unique to Wave, like inline and private replies, public tags, and gadgets. I featured the most unique use cases I got in a brand new chapter just added to The Complete Guide to Google Wave. The following is the text of the just-published Chapter 10, which describes ways in which a few people who don't work for Google are using Wave to get things done—with screenshots.

So far you’ve learned the finer workings of Wave in great detail, but there’s a big difference between understanding how to swing a hammer and building a house. In this chapter, you’ll meet regular people who are already getting things done with Wave in their daily work and life. You’ll learn the Wave techniques they’ve developed through trial and error, and the specific Wave features they use to get certain jobs done. Finally, you’ll create wave templates you can use and reuse for your own purposes.

Take a look at some real-world case studies of Wave in action.

Wave as a Group To-do List and Daily Work Log

Justin Swall runs Swall’s Associated Services, a small company which provides computer repair and consulting for small businesses. Justin uses Wave as a daily to-do list that he and his co-workers update to track who has done what. He makes use of the “Copy to New Wave” feature to transfer undone items from one day to the next, as shown in Figure 10-1.

Here’s Justin’s Wave workflow: every day he uses a fresh wave that contains that day’s tasks, ordered by priority, and what time they’re due. Over the course of the day, Justin’s group updates the wave to reflect the current status of each task.

Justin says:

During the day either the initial wave is edited (usually by me) to add additional items to the list, and everyone else uses inline replies to update when items are completed, or if additional information needs to be conveyed back and forth. At the end of each day I copy the day’s wave to a new wave, change the date to the next day, remove the items that were completed the day before, add new items or notes to the list, or move items from secondary to primary. Wash, rinse, repeat.

By creating a new wave that carries over the outstanding tasks left on yesterday’s wave, Justin leaves behind a daily work log that he can reference later.

Justin prefers Wave to discuss tasks because it’s a single, hosted conversation.

For various reasons, Outlook tasks never seemed to work for us. Emailing is a nightmare (I either keep thinking of more things to add to the list and end up sending out five or more messages by morning, or I’m so afraid of doing that I keep it open as a draft so I can keep adding to it then forget to send it at all).

If you’re interested in using Wave to manage projects beyond daily tasks, see the later section in this chapter, “Wave for Project Management.”

Wave as an Event Planner

Wave is a fine productivity tool, but it also can help you have fun, too. Fifteen-year old Sean Cascketta uses Wave to organize weekend get-togethers with his classmates.

Sean explains:

If I’m formatting a Wave for organizing an event, it usually comes with a basic list of the details (like who, what, where, etc…) as well as a Yes/No/Maybe gadget, which is perfect for these events as we can both constantly check on the RSVP status of people, and they can use the status feature to give any extra details (like if they’re bringing along some party favors, electronics or such).

Sean used Wave to create an invitation to a viewing of The Goonies, as shown in Figure 10-2.

Brunch-lover Jed McClure uses Wave to organize his weekly “Brooklyn Brunch Club,” a group of friends who brunch somewhere different in Brooklyn each week, and RSVP whether or not they can make it.

Jed describes the process:

We have a pretty dedicated group of brunchers here in Brooklyn, and many brunch options. But the onerous task of coordinating usually ended up resulting in people getting left off the email list. With Google Wave, the idea was to maintain a permanent Brunch wave, where people in the group could check in with and see where the next brunching would happen, and then reply if they were going to try to make it. We also set up a map widget and filled in all the spots we like to hit, to help when making suggestions (and to avoid the dreaded brunch rut).

The Brooklyn Brunch Club wave consists of maps, inline discussions debating which brunch place to hit up next, and a Yes/No/Maybe gadget to collect RSVPs, as shown in Figure 10-3.

Jed says:

So far it has worked pretty well. The threaded nature of the dialog means that it needs to be ‘pruned’ after each brunch, so that the relevant info remains at the top of the wave. And also train people to look in the history for past brunch details.

With maps and Yes/No/Maybe built in, party, vacation, brunch, or any event planning is one of Wave’s most obvious use cases.

Wave as Holiday Gift List Tracker

Hal Wilke has two young children, and when the holidays approach, he gives gift suggestions for his kids to their grandparents. This past year he and his wife used Wave to share and update the list.

Hal explains:

We always email Christmas lists to Grandparents, and then get emails back sometimes to me, sometimes to my wife. Or phone calls at odd times telling us what they bought, so we have to track notes that we write about the phone calls. It was much easier this year [in Wave] because the grandparents could edit the wave as they purchased gifts, and we did not have people buying duplicate gifts, and didn’t have to track multiple lists of purchased gifts. Pretty cool that the grandparents were cool with using Wave.

The kids’ gift wave included Hal’s wife, but Hal used Wave’s private reply feature to discuss a surprise gift for her with the kids’ grandparents, as shown in Figure 10-4.

Wave for Collaborative Meeting Notes

One of the most common suggested uses of Wave is taking collaborative notes[1] during meetings, classes or conference sessions, and Indiana University employee Manjit Trehan does just that. Manjit’s meetings usually have about 10 people attending, and four or five are in Wave, taking notes.

Instead of everyone co-editing a single blip, Manjit separates agenda items into their own individual blips.

Manjit says the process evolved from trial and error:

What I learned after a few meetings [of taking notes in Wave] is that it is best to enter one agenda item per blip. This allows a separate thread to progress below each item. Say we are meeting about ordering some hardware, and there are three open items to be discussed. Vendor selection, Installation schedule, and deployment schedule. Each of these would end up in a separate blip.

Manjit says meeting note waves can get lengthy, but he created a sample meeting wave with separate agenda blips, shown in Figure 10-5.

Wave for Project Management

You've already seen one way to use Wave as a daily task tracker; you can also manage a more complex group project in Wave. This very book, produced by a team of six people—including the authors, our copyeditor, designer, tech lead, and project manager—used Wave to track and manage its production process.[2]

Create a project workspace in Wave using an agreed-upon tag and a saved search for waves with that tag. For example, when we started managing the book project in Wave, our group decided that every book-related wave would get the “cwg” tag (short for CompleteWaveGuide.com). Each of us also saved a tag:cwg search and referred to it to see only project-specific waves, as shown in Figure 10-6.

When you’re managing a project in Wave, create a new wave to discuss each topic, task, or facet of the project. For example, for this book project, we used one wave per chapter to discuss chapter-specific questions and edits. For each new edition, we’d clean out the chapter wave of old blips, and start anew, knowing that old conversation was still archived in the wave’s playback should we need to see it. We kept other separate waves to draft the style guide, discuss pricing, and see cover image revisions.

Wave as a Conference Backchannel

A smart use of wave tags works well in public waves as well as private ones. Tagged public waves make it easy for anyone to find a relevant place to discuss news or a current event, as it happens, in real-time. In fact, many tech-savvy conference organizers publicize a unique tag for its attendees to use when they post status updates to Twitter or photos to Flickr about the event. Attendees can use that same tag in Wave to create and add to event-specific discussions, too. (Those who aren’t at the event can eavesdrop on those public waves, ask questions, and add to the discussion from afar.)

For example, at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York in November of 2009, I (Gina) gave a keynote presentation called “Making Sense of Google Wave,”[3] and invited attendees to wave about it using the public, agreed-upon conference tag w2e. Before I took the stage, I started a public wave and tagged it w2e so that anyone who searched for with:public tag:w2e could discuss my keynote or any other session they attended, as shown in Figure 10-7.

This technique has been used at events beyond Web 2.0 Expo; bloggers at both eComm Europe[4] and the MediaWiki conference[5] noted that attendees used Wave to take minutes, discuss sessions in real-time, and collaborate on notes.

(Watch a video of the 15-minute “Making Sense of Google Wave” keynote at goo.gl/7cK3.)

Wave for Breaking News

The live, real-time nature of Wave makes it a natural fit for collaborating on breaking news as it happens. In fact, when Seattle police were on the hunt for a man suspected of shooting four cops, the Seattle Times used a public wave to rapidly publish updates about the manhunt[6] and solicit information from readers in the process, as shown in Figure 10-8.

Granted, most people aren't conducting a manhunt for a suspected killer, but we all have a reason to broadcast and get live updates on events as they happen to us—like when your sister-in-law goes into labor, or Aunt Martha's undergoing surgery, or Mom in New York is worried about how close the forest fires are to your home in San Diego and whether you've been evacuated.

Wave for Q&A

Wave's inline reply feature makes it a solid choice for having conversations that require back-and-forth on individual points: like an interview. Question and answer interactions can happen very easily in Wave, because the interviewer can start a wave with multiple questions. Then, the respondent can reply to each question inline, and the interviewer can optionally follow up to the response right below it without disrupting the flow of the series. The result is a readable Q&A in the correct order, as shown in Figure 10-9.

Create Wave Templates for Reuse

If you create waves with the same formatting and gadgets often, create a “template” wave for reuse to save yourself repetitive work. For example, if you plan a recurring event in Wave, create a new wave, and format your event title, description, and details area to your liking, and add the Yes/No/Maybe and maps gadget. Save that wave in a “Templates” folder you create.

Then, the next time you need a wave to plan the event, open the template, and select “Copy to new wave” from the timestamp drop-down. Fill in the details for the event in the new copy.

Public Wave Templates

Googler Pamela Fox did just that and made her templates public and read-only, available for anyone to copy for their own purposes. Visit the read-only, public wave which lists her templates at goo.gl/GNUw, like the event planner wave template shown in Figure 10-10.

References

  1. ? When to use Google Wave, Google.com
  2. ? How to Manage a Group Project in Google Wave, Lifehacker.com
  3. ? “Making Sense of Google Wave”: Web 2.0 Expo New York 2009, Web2Expo.com
  4. ? How to Use Google Wave for Collaborative Conference Notes and Conversation, Emerging Tech Talk
  5. ? MediaWiki conference uses Wave to work on minutes, Mediawiki Wave
  6. ? Another Google Wave Use: Manhunt, TechCrunch.com






Google Wave in Action: Real-World Use Case Studies

A week ago I asked readers to tell me how they’re using Google Wave in their daily lives, and despite a bit of “ha! no one’s using Wave!” snarking on the Twitter, I got lots of interesting responses. Unsurprisingly, most Wavers use it as a real-time wiki, but some take advantage of features unique to Wave, like inline and private replies, public tags, and gadgets. I featured the most unique use cases I got in a brand new chapter just added to The Complete Guide to Google Wave. The following is the text of the just-published Chapter 10, which describes ways in which a few people who don’t work for Google are using Wave to get things done–with screenshots.

So far you’ve learned the finer workings of Wave in great detail, but there’s a big difference between understanding how to swing a hammer and building a house. In this chapter, you’ll meet regular people who are already getting things done with Wave in their daily work and life. You’ll learn the Wave techniques they’ve developed through trial and error, and the specific Wave features they use to get certain jobs done. Finally, you’ll create wave templates you can use and reuse for your own purposes.

Take a look at some real-world case studies of Wave in action.

Wave as a Group To-do List and Daily Work Log

Justin Swall runs Swall’s Associated Services, a small company which provides computer repair and consulting for small businesses. Justin uses Wave as a daily to-do list that he and his co-workers update to track who has done what. He makes use of the “Copy to New Wave” feature to transfer undone items from one day to the next, as shown in Figure 10-1.

Here’s Justin’s Wave workflow: every day he uses a fresh wave that contains that day’s tasks, ordered by priority, and what time they’re due. Over the course of the day, Justin’s group updates the wave to reflect the current status of each task.

Justin says:

During the day either the initial wave is edited (usually by me) to add additional items to the list, and everyone else uses inline replies to update when items are completed, or if additional information needs to be conveyed back and forth. At the end of each day I copy the day’s wave to a new wave, change the date to the next day, remove the items that were completed the day before, add new items or notes to the list, or move items from secondary to primary. Wash, rinse, repeat.

By creating a new wave that carries over the outstanding tasks left on yesterday’s wave, Justin leaves behind a daily work log that he can reference later.

Justin prefers Wave to discuss tasks because it’s a single, hosted conversation.

For various reasons, Outlook tasks never seemed to work for us. Emailing is a nightmare (I either keep thinking of more things to add to the list and end up sending out five or more messages by morning, or I’m so afraid of doing that I keep it open as a draft so I can keep adding to it then forget to send it at all).

If you’re interested in using Wave to manage projects beyond daily tasks, see the later section in this chapter, “Wave for Project Management.”

Wave as an Event Planner

Wave is a fine productivity tool, but it also can help you have fun, too. Fifteen-year old Sean Cascketta uses Wave to organize weekend get-togethers with his classmates.

Sean explains:

If I’m formatting a Wave for organizing an event, it usually comes with a basic list of the details (like who, what, where, etc…) as well as a Yes/No/Maybe gadget, which is perfect for these events as we can both constantly check on the RSVP status of people, and they can use the status feature to give any extra details (like if they’re bringing along some party favors, electronics or such).

Sean used Wave to create an invitation to a viewing of The Goonies, as shown in Figure 10-2.

Brunch-lover Jed McClure uses Wave to organize his weekly “Brooklyn Brunch Club,” a group of friends who brunch somewhere different in Brooklyn each week, and RSVP whether or not they can make it.

Jed describes the process:

We have a pretty dedicated group of brunchers here in Brooklyn, and many brunch options. But the onerous task of coordinating usually ended up resulting in people getting left off the email list. With Google Wave, the idea was to maintain a permanent Brunch wave, where people in the group could check in with and see where the next brunching would happen, and then reply if they were going to try to make it. We also set up a map widget and filled in all the spots we like to hit, to help when making suggestions (and to avoid the dreaded brunch rut).

The Brooklyn Brunch Club wave consists of maps, inline discussions debating which brunch place to hit up next, and a Yes/No/Maybe gadget to collect RSVPs, as shown in Figure 10-3.

Jed says:

So far it has worked pretty well. The threaded nature of the dialog means that it needs to be ‘pruned’ after each brunch, so that the relevant info remains at the top of the wave. And also train people to look in the history for past brunch details.

With maps and Yes/No/Maybe built in, party, vacation, brunch, or any event planning is one of Wave’s most obvious use cases.

Wave as Holiday Gift List Tracker

Hal Wilke has two young children, and when the holidays approach, he gives gift suggestions for his kids to their grandparents. This past year he and his wife used Wave to share and update the list.

Hal explains:

We always email Christmas lists to Grandparents, and then get emails back sometimes to me, sometimes to my wife. Or phone calls at odd times telling us what they bought, so we have to track notes that we write about the phone calls. It was much easier this year [in Wave] because the grandparents could edit the wave as they purchased gifts, and we did not have people buying duplicate gifts, and didn’t have to track multiple lists of purchased gifts. Pretty cool that the grandparents were cool with using Wave.

The kids’ gift wave included Hal’s wife, but Hal used Wave’s private reply feature to discuss a surprise gift for her with the kids’ grandparents, as shown in Figure 10-4.

Wave for Collaborative Meeting Notes

One of the most common suggested uses of Wave is taking collaborative notes[1] during meetings, classes or conference sessions, and Indiana University employee Manjit Trehan does just that. Manjit’s meetings usually have about 10 people attending, and four or five are in Wave, taking notes.

Instead of everyone co-editing a single blip, Manjit separates agenda items into their own individual blips.

Manjit says the process evolved from trial and error:

What I learned after a few meetings [of taking notes in Wave] is that it is best to enter one agenda item per blip. This allows a separate thread to progress below each item. Say we are meeting about ordering some hardware, and there are three open items to be discussed. Vendor selection, Installation schedule, and deployment schedule. Each of these would end up in a separate blip.

Manjit says meeting note waves can get lengthy, but he created a sample meeting wave with separate agenda blips, shown in Figure 10-5.

Wave for Project Management

You’ve already seen one way to use Wave as a daily task tracker; you can also manage a more complex group project in Wave. This very book, produced by a team of six people—including the authors, our copyeditor, designer, tech lead, and project manager—used Wave to track and manage its production process.[2]

Create a project workspace in Wave using an agreed-upon tag and a saved search for waves with that tag. For example, when we started managing the book project in Wave, our group decided that every book-related wave would get the “cwg” tag (short for CompleteWaveGuide.com). Each of us also saved a tag:cwg search and referred to it to see only project-specific waves, as shown in Figure 10-6.

When you’re managing a project in Wave, create a new wave to discuss each topic, task, or facet of the project. For example, for this book project, we used one wave per chapter to discuss chapter-specific questions and edits. For each new edition, we’d clean out the chapter wave of old blips, and start anew, knowing that old conversation was still archived in the wave’s playback should we need to see it. We kept other separate waves to draft the style guide, discuss pricing, and see cover image revisions.

Wave as a Conference Backchannel

A smart use of wave tags works well in public waves as well as private ones. Tagged public waves make it easy for anyone to find a relevant place to discuss news or a current event, as it happens, in real-time. In fact, many tech-savvy conference organizers publicize a unique tag for its attendees to use when they post status updates to Twitter or photos to Flickr about the event. Attendees can use that same tag in Wave to create and add to event-specific discussions, too. (Those who aren’t at the event can eavesdrop on those public waves, ask questions, and add to the discussion from afar.)

For example, at the Web 2.0 Expo in New York in November of 2009, I (Gina) gave a keynote presentation called “Making Sense of Google Wave,”[3] and invited attendees to wave about it using the public, agreed-upon conference tag w2e. Before I took the stage, I started a public wave and tagged it w2e so that anyone who searched for with:public tag:w2e could discuss my keynote or any other session they attended, as shown in Figure 10-7.

This technique has been used at events beyond Web 2.0 Expo; bloggers at both eComm Europe[4] and the MediaWiki conference[5] noted that attendees used Wave to take minutes, discuss sessions in real-time, and collaborate on notes.

(Watch a video of the 15-minute “Making Sense of Google Wave” keynote at goo.gl/7cK3.)

Wave for Breaking News

The live, real-time nature of Wave makes it a natural fit for collaborating on breaking news as it happens. In fact, when Seattle police were on the hunt for a man suspected of shooting four cops, the Seattle Times used a public wave to rapidly publish updates about the manhunt[6] and solicit information from reader in the process, as shown in Figure 10-8.

Granted, most people aren’t conducting a manhunt for a suspected killer, but we all have a reason to broadcast and get live updates on events as they happen to us—like when your sister-in-law goes into labor, or Aunt Martha’s undergoing surgery, or Mom in New York is worried about how close the forest fires are to your home in San Diego and whether you’ve been evacuated.

Wave for Q&A

Wave's inline reply feature makes it a solid choice for having conversations that require back-and-forth on individual points: like an interview. Question and answer interactions can happen very easily in Wave, because the interviewer can start a wave with multiple questions. Then, the respondent can reply to each question inline, and the interviewer can optionally follow up to the response right below it without disrupting the flow of the series. The result is a readable Q&A in the correct order, as shown in Figure 10-9.

Create Wave Templates for Reuse

If you create waves with the same formatting and gadgets often, create a “template” wave for reuse to save yourself repetitive work. For example, if you plan a recurring event in Wave, create a new wave, and format your event title, description, and details area to your liking, and add the Yes/No/Maybe and maps gadget. Save that wave in a “Templates” folder you create.

Then, the next time you need a wave to plan the event, open the template, and select “Copy to new wave” from the timestamp drop-down. Fill in the details for the event in the new copy.

Public Wave Templates

Googler Pamela Fox did just that and made her templates public and read-only, available for anyone to copy for their own purposes. Visit the read-only, public wave which lists her templates at goo.gl/GNUw, like the event planner wave template shown in Figure 10-10.

References

  1. ? When to use Google Wave, Google.com
  2. ? How to Manage a Group Project in Google Wave, Lifehacker.com
  3. ? “Making Sense of Google Wave”: Web 2.0 Expo New York 2009, Web2Expo.com
  4. ? How to Use Google Wave for Collaborative Conference Notes and Conversation, Emerging Tech Talk
  5. ? MediaWiki conference uses Wave to work on minutes, Mediawiki Wave
  6. ? Another Google Wave Use: Manhunt, TechCrunch.com

“You’ve Got Waves”: How to Get Google Wave Notifications [Notifications]

Once you're active in Google Wave, you want to know when something new happens there—even if you don't have Wave open in your browser. These notifier tools monitor your Wave inbox, letting you know you've got new and changed waves.

The following is an excerpt from the all-new Chapter 9 of The Complete Guide to Google Wave. Got feedback? Let me know in the comments and help write the first book on Wave!

Google Wave Add-on for Firefox

If you use Mozilla’s popular web browser, Firefox, the Google Wave Add-on puts a Wave icon on the status bar at the bottom of your browser window. That icon displays alerts when you’ve got new, unread waves and keeps a running total of how many unread changes you’ve got in your inbox. Click on the icon to open Wave in a new tab for quick access. Set your Wave login information in the extension’s Options dialog, as shown in Figure 9-1.

Figure 9-1. The Google Wave Add-on for Firefox adds a Wave icon on the status bar of your web browser, which displays the number of unread and changed waves in your inbox.

Download the Google Wave Add-on for Firefox at addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/14973. As of writing, the extension is listed as “experimental,” which means it hasn’t been reviewed by the Mozilla Add-ons editors. Check the box next to “Let me install this experimental add-on” to download and install it in your copy of Firefox.

Googsystray for Windows and Linux

If you’d rather get Wave notifications outside of your browser, Googsystray is a system tray utility for Windows and Linux that plays a sound when new waves arrive and displays unread wave notifications in the corner of your screen, as shown in Figure 9-2.

Figure 9-2. Googsystray plays an alert sound and displays a notification of new and changed waves in your system tray.

Click a Wave notification to open the unread wave directly in your browser. Googsystray is particularly useful if you’re an all-around Google lover, as it also offers Gmail, Google Voice, Google Calendar, and Google Reader notifications. Download Googsystray for free from googsystray.sourceforge.net/.

Google Wave Notifier for Windows

Don’t need all the bells, whistles, and multi-service support of Googsystray? The aptly named Google Wave Notifier is a Windows system tray utility that, like the others, alerts you of new and changed waves with unread content in a pop-up box and icon, as shown in Figure 9-3.

Figure 9-3. The Google Wave Notifier adds a Wave icon in the Windows system tray that displays the total number of new and unread waves in your inbox.

Like Googsystray, you can click on an alert to open the new wave directly. Download the Google Wave Notifier for free from wave-notify.sourceforge.net/.

Waveboard with Growl Notifications for Mac OS X

Mac users who want Wave notifications should try Waveboard. Waveboard is a free, standalone Wave client that adds a Waveboard icon with your total of unread waves on Mac OS X’s menu bar and Dock. Waveboard also provides pop-up Growl notifications, as shown in Figure 9-4.

Figure 9-4. Waveboard for Mac OS X displays an icon with the total of unread waves on the menu bar and Dock, as well as Growl notifications.

To get Growl notifications with Waveboard, download and install Growl for your Mac from growl.info/. Waveboard is also a free download from www.getwaveboard.com/.

XMPP Lite for Google Talk and AIM

Unlike the other notifier apps and add-ons listed here, the XMPP Lite bot is a solution that you put to work directly inside the specific waves you want to receive updates from. If you add the XMPP Lite bot to a wave and then click the subscribe button in the blip it adds, you’ll receive IM updates when that wave changes.

Figure 9-5. The XMPP Lite bot adds a blip with a Subscribe and Unsubscribe button to a wave. Click the Subscribe button to opt into instant messenger notifications of wave activity.

Gotcha: While all the other notifiers mentioned here let you know if you have ANY changed or unread waves in your inbox at all, XMPP Lite only notifies you about the specific waves you’ve added it to, and pressed the Subscribe button in.

XMPP Lite is one of this book’s featured bots. For details on how to use it, head back to the “XMPP Lite (wave-xmpp@appspot.com)” section in Chapter 8.


Like the rest of the book, this was co-written by Adam Pash and myself (in this section, mostly Adam, bless his soul). We’re working furiously on getting The Complete Guide to Google Wave's first edition—a step up from the Preview PDF—ready for print publication. What should we include or exclude? Let us know in the comments, and thanks in advance.






Googsystray Notifies You of New Activity Across Google Services in One System Tray App [Downloads]

Windows/Linux only: Google has so many different services these days that installing a notification app for each one gets cumbersome quickly. Free system tray utility Googsystray watches Gmail, Google Voice, Calendar, Reader, and Wave so you can set it and forget it.

After installing Googsystray, you can configure which services you want it to watch and what you want it to do for each—upon receiving a new email, SMS, calendar alert, RSS article, or wave, you can have it play a sound and even run a command. The icon of the given service will also pop up in your system tray. Right clicking on it gives you a Growl-style popup with more detailed information about the notification, such as email subject or SMS content. You also have limited actions you can take depending on the service.

Google Voice is the most feature-filled, allowing you to send SMS messages with a hotkey and read voicemail transcripts. You can have Gmail monitor your inbox or specific labels for new messages, as well as mark messages as read, spam, or delete them. Google Calendar support is limited to alerts on upcoming events, and Google Reader can notify you of new RSS articles, although you can tell it to stop notifying you when the number of unread articles reaches a certain point. Google Wave support merely notifies you of new and unread waves, along with a preview.

Googsystray is a free download, works on Windows and Linux (Python and pygtk required for Linux). Thanks, Aldeniszen!

Googsystray [Sourceforge]






Google Wave Desktop Notifier Keeps You On Top of Your Wave Inbox [Downloads]

Windows only: Google Wave has a lot of potential, but it’s also another inbox to keep track of. Google Wave Desktop Notifier is a small system tray application that will let you know when you’ve got new messages in your inbox.

We’ve featured a Google Wave notifier before in the form of a Firefox extension, but if you prefer a non-browser alternative, Wave Desktop Notifier will do the trick. This handy little program gives you some pretty detailed notifications when you receive new waves—it checks your inbox every two minutes, and then shows you your last received reply in a notification (as well as how many unread waves you currently have in your inbox). In addition, you can access your 5 latest unread waves from the system tray icon, or just navigate directly to your inbox. I'd love to see it give the option of using Growl for Windows instead of its own dedicated notifications, but it’s certainly a great addition to any Wave user’s system tray.

Google Wave Notifier is a free download, Windows only.






The Complete Guide to Google Wave Preview Edition PDF Available for Download [Announcements]

The preview edition of Gina and Adam’s new book, The Complete Guide to Google Wave, is now available in PDF form for your offline, ebook-reading pleasure.

Google Wave is a young tool that’s not terribly easy to understand for a lot of folks, but at least a couple of your Lifehacker editors are completely nuts for Wave and its potential. The DRM-free, 102-page personalized PDF of The Complete Guide to Google Wave is available for six bucks, but keep in mind that the content of our book will always be available for free at any time at completewaveguide.com/.

The preview edition is just the start. We plan to release the first edition of the guide in early 2010 as both a PDF and a softcover print book, with new editions to follow throughout the year as Wave evolves.

For a quick look at why we’re so excited about Wave, check out Gina’s keynote speech at the Web 2.0 Expo this week in NYC, and follow @gwaveguide on Twitter for a regular stream of useful Wave tips and for updates on the book. If you do decide to purchase the PDF, you have our sincerest thanks for supporting our little project, but as I said, it’s always freely available on the web site. Beyond that, we’re all ears for suggestions on how we can improve the guide in the comments.






Waver is a Compact Google Wave Client [Downloads]

Windows/Mac/Linux (Adobe AIR): Waver allows you to keep a single-column view of Google Wave open on your desktop at all times from which you can read, compose, and keep an eye on what’s happening in your Wave inbox.

We’ve featured ways to keep on top of your Wave inbox before, but if you’re not the type to keep things open in your browser (or you don’t use Firefox), free Wave client Waver is a decent alternative. The client is merely a standalone version of Google Wave’s mobile interface, but it works perfectly as a compact, out-of-the-way client. You can view your inbox, search for waves, view them, reply to them, create new ones and even manage your Wave contacts, all from inside the app.

Waver isn’t the only Site-Specific Browser (SSB) to integrate with Wave. For those that want a full, multi-column Wave-focused client, free app Waveboard aims to tightly integrate Wave with OS X, adding, for example, support for Growl notifications.

Waver is a free download for all platforms, and requires Adobe AIR.






Google Wave’s Best Use Cases

Phew! After poring over 661 Google Wave invitation contest submissions, I highlighted some of Wave’s best use cases over at Lifehacker this morning. See how Wave will help people get things done in medicine, academia, transportation, journalism, entertainment, disaster relief, business, family life, and more. Thanks to everyone who took the time to describe what they do and how they want to use realtime collaboration to streamline it. Congrats to all the winners–your invitation nominations are in!

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