The Techy Bit... - 3 Sept 2006

Google Apps for your Domain...

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 Google Apps for your Domain

Well - where to begin? There are many things I could talk about on the techy side of IT in Mercy Ships. I think I'll save some of those for later. Having spent some time setting up this new website, I'll write a bit about this. I've had a website for years - I think I started my first site in 1993... Ever since we joined Mercy Ships in 1997, I made some attempt to have a presence online for those who support us or are intersted in our work. But... it has usually been out of date and really, it's tedious to keep it relatively up to date.

Up until now, I've been using a plain old web server and FTPing html docs up to the site... I'd use MS Frontpage to create pages (although I still go straight to html often - I dislike all the junk Frontpage put into the html!). I've used various content management systems for work, and had been playing with a couple (Joomla/Mambo and Wordpress) on a machine at home. I'd never really found the time to get a decent looking template/format. THEN... I found out about Google's offer to host your domain and provide apps for it... (see It was just enticing enough to try it out...

Just for signing up as a beta user, Google gave me the ability to point my domain ( at them for web hosting with their beta content manager (Google Page Creator), email ( on your domain), shared calendar for my domain users and free Google Talk chat. I asked for 25 users... and have managed to use 11 for my extended family and one admin account. Each has 2Gb of mail storage... So, in theory, Google has allocated a whopping 50 Gb of mail storage for me... for free... amazing!

The set up was pretty easy. Just make a few DNS changes and wait for them to propagate through the DNS universe. The web page tools are easy, but not very powerful yet... I miss the ability to have menu items that appear on any page. As a beta user, Google gives the opportunity to comment on the service, so I take the opportunity to offer my enhancement suggestions.

I'm using Google Analytics ( to watch the web stats. It's a great package, and I can't figure out why, for the life of me, it's not already integrated with Google's Page Creator... The only reason I can see is that Google is so big, with so many projects that they can't see the obvious synergies all the time. In any case, Google Analytics is also free and relatively easy to set up. It provides all kinds of cool tracking tools.

In order to create the sign up form, I had to use some scripting capabilities of another site. Fortunately, the domain registrar I use ( offers free hosting. So far, the only thing I'm paying for is the domain. At $7/year, that's not too bad!

I have not actually played with the Calendar or Chat capabilities. That will have to wait. First I'm trying to get content into the site.

It's been fun to try out some of Google's new stuff. As with most stuff from them, it works pretty well. I look forward to new added capabilities to get past some of the cumbersome bits. They already have a pretty slick foundation. Next time, I'll write about IT in Mercy Ships. 

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