I have an idea that will make it so easy for us to stay in touch as a family and I wanted to find out if you would be interested in trying it out. Stick with me for the next few minutes and you'll see how neat it could be. Pretty pictures are included (go ahead and click...they open in new windows).
Google.com has a new service called Google Apps. It allows groups like ours to choose Google's services (email, chat, document sharing, personal web pages, etc.). The setup to do this would only cost $10 for ALL of us, which I'll gladly pay out of my own pocket if there's enough interest. You wouldn't have to lift a finger to sign up because I would do that for you.Email
With Google's email being part of Google Apps, it would never be hard to remember someone's email address again. We would all be signed up at the same email service under a single web name and with a single address book for the whole family!!
For example, I can sign up the domain name wilsonbingham.com with Google. Then I can give each of you email accounts at that domain such that, say, Bruce Young's email address would be something like firstname.lastname@example.org. Mine would be email@example.com. My wife's would be firstname.lastname@example.org and so forth.
All of our address books would automatically include everyone's email addresses.
Oops on that last part. It doesn't automatically populate the address book, but I can pass along a master address book file that you can import and keep up-to-date.
Additionally, everyone could just keep sharing with other people the email addresses they already have. That's because through this one wilsonbingham.com account, you are allowed to check and send email through up to five other email accounts
. You just tell Google how to check your other e-mail accounts and then all of that email flows right into your single Google account. (Some email providers do charge a fee for Gmail to access your inbox. Yahoo charges $1.66/month.)
It's easy to switch because you don't even have to tell other people what your new email address is. When you send or respond to emails, you can tell Google
to make it so that when people reply to your message, they will be replying to an older address, if that's what you want them to see. (This part is free from Google.)
For example, if Bruce's old address was email@example.com and he writes an email to someone using his new Google email account, they would never know the difference. Whenever they reply, it will say firstname.lastname@example.org at the top of the e-mail, as if he had never moved to another address.Bottom Line: You could easily never have to remember how to log in to multiple e-mail accounts again.Chat
That's only the tip of the iceberg. If we all had a Google Apps Family account, we would also be able to have chats with each other, even over-the-web phone calls
via Google Talk. Whenever you're logged into Google to check e-mail, you'll see who is online and available to chat with you, right in the same window as when you're doing your e-mail.
Have you ever tried to coordinate a get-together or reunion with more than 3 people over the phone? Ever wish you all could all easily review each other's calendars or even share a common calendar? As part of Google Apps Family, we would all be able to see each other's events so that invitations to parties and reunions are super easy.
Personal Web Sites
Ever wanted to create your own web page for a business or to show off your kids
or grandkids? Google has made it so simple. You don't need to know anything other than how to type and how to use a mouse. This feature would also be a part of our Google Apps Family account.Photo Sharing
Picasa, which is also a Google service, allows you to upload hundreds of photos to the web to share privately or publicly, according to your preferences of whom you want to view them. I've set up a slideshow in a public album
to demonstrate.Documents & Spreadsheets
Doug Wilson maintains an extensive family list of his own with contact information, birthdates, and other facts. But, he has to email revisions as attachments whenever he makes changes, which can sometimes be a pain. Besides the already great address book features of Google's Gmail, with Google's Documents & Spreadsheets (also part of Google Apps Family), he can just create the document in an online word processor and update it whenever he needs to. If people need to read it, he just shares it with them and they can simply open the document in their browser to see the latest. I can't think of an easier way to permanently capture, share, and collaboratively edit biographies and other family histories
I know this sounds like a lot to remember but it's really very simple. Google provides a single "Start" web page for getting to ALL of these features in a single click. You can even drag things around on the page to put them where you want them. There's also a "mobile" version of these features for those of you with cell phones, or (gulp!) if your kids have them.
So, What Do You Think?!Would you personally use a Google Apps setup for simplifying family communications? I'd like to hear from at least 10 people to get this started.
Then we can work on inviting others to join in the fun. I won't take a "no" personally, so don't worry. Please reply in the comments section below with a yes or a no, and any other comments you have about it.