This morning, I’m editing a draft of a longer feature, ready for submission. Now the quirks and drab presentation of Google Docs & Spreadsheets are becoming exhausting, and not being able to do a word count on chunks of text is a real annoyance. Frankly, I’m itching to get back to Word or AbiWord, my usual weapons of choice. Still, I’ve found one bonus. It’s spectacularly easy to email the finished copy without leaving the application. I know you can do this with Word and Outlook, too, but the integration with Gmail and its contacts is very smooth.
Having polished off the feature, it’s time to give the spreadsheet component a spin. It’s the end of the month, and my accounts need attention. The good news is that, on importing my multisheet accounts spreadsheet, all sheets are present, everything looks as it should and none of the calculations have gone awry.
Sadly, while my spreadsheet looks like it does in Excel, it certainly doesn’t behave like it. I can’t just type a formula into a cell, select the target cells and watch as it all adds up: I have to click the formula link in the taskbar, select the formula from the list and then select the cells. The formatting controls are inconsistent, and the Google application keeps reformatting dates from my preferred format (20-Jul) to its default (20/07/2007). You can’t easily drag and drop cells around, and I seem to be waiting for quite some time while an “updating” message sits in the top-left of the spreadsheet. At one point, it actually crashes.
Overall, Google’s spreadsheet application feels a little old-fashioned and clunky. As with the word-processing component, I can see why you might want to use it as a quick scratchpad or to show and share a spreadsheet, but anyone suggesting it’s a real alternative to Office is, frankly, deluded.
This sort of admin work is always boring, so to spice things up I normally listen to a little music. Obviously, iTunes and Windows Media Player are out of the question, so I resort to LastFM. It’s a great service, and I’m enjoying its selection of tracks on an alt-country/Americana theme, but it all goes horribly wrong when I follow its suggestion to personalise the service. This requires a download, instantly breaking my week-long embargo. Still, LastFM, it was fun while it lasted.