Google Groups (This Time In Beta)

Google has released a new version of it's Google Groups application. They have updated groups to include features much like page creator. You can now create webpages inside of your group were you can add pictures, links and anything else you can imagine just like a website. The new beta version also allows the owner of the group to customize the colors and fonts of the group. You can even create welcome messages!

Members of the groups can create pages or you can choose to only allow managers to create pages. Once these pages are up anyone in the group can edit them, add to them or simply comment on these webpages. This makes it very easy for a group to collaborate on any one page and even saves multiple versions of the webpages just in case someone really screws it up! Members of the new beta Google Groups can now create user profiles that include a pic and a quote about yourself among other things. You can check out an example how Google Groups Beta work here. This particular group is called Photoholics Anonymous and really takes advantage of the new formats.

Google Checkout Holiday Site

Google has released a special site in Google Checkout just for special holiday deals. It includes deals from places like, Toys R Us, Zales, Areopostal and Starbucks. Google Checkout is also offering a special promotion of $10 off purchases of $30 or more before shipping and tax. You can check out the special site here. You can also view a demo of Google Checkout by watching the video below or read more about it here.

Google Updates Page Creator

Google gave it's page creator program a much needed update recently. Page creator is a free service that Google offers to anyone with a gmail account. Users can create their own website using Page Creator with little or no knowledge of html. This was orginially one of my favorite programs, but I quickly saw it's limitations as the formatting and placement of pictures was very difficult to deal with. Google only gave you three sizes to choose from when placing a picture and this could lead to the sidebar not show up in the proper places when using Internet Explorer (not firefox for some reason.) Google has since updated the Page Creator program and now you can resize the picture to any size. You can also format the picture right on your screen including cropping, rotating, lighten and darken. Not only that, but they have given you the option to create up to 5 different urls. This means that you can register, and This is really amazing as each of these seperate domain come with a 100 megs of storage for your uploaded pictures. That means that Google is giving out a total of 500 megs for free to store your pictures... not to mention the 100 megs that they give you to use in web albums. Another upgrade is the ability to add "gadgets" to your site with just the click of a button. You can read more about Google Gadgets here. At long last Page Creator is ready to be easily used as a tool for any business to create a website. Google is pushing this very hard with it introduction of Google Apps for Your Domain, which is a service that allows companies to host their website and e-mail through Google for free. The web just got a little closer to meeting the needs of small business with this timely upgrade of Page Creator.

Using Google Checkout

Google Checkout is a recent addition to Google's growing arsenal. It work a lot like Paypal as Google processes your online sales from customer's who use their credit cards including Mastercard, Visa, Discover and American Express. Checkout is a leap up on Paypal though as it streamlines the process into a matter of two clicks.

First an online store needs to put up buy now buttons on their site. These buy now buttons make it so a shopping cart is not even required. Checkout lets you design the buttons yourself by filling in your price, description, quantity and size. Then Google generates the html code for you and you simply cut and paste it into your site. Once the button is in place customers can click on the buy now button to purchase your product. Google saves all of your customer's credit card information so all they need to do is press the place your order button and your transaction is processed.

The business then needs to review, charge and ship the order which they do from the google checkout site. Once the Google Checkout order is charged the money from the sale is directly deposited into the bank account of your choice. Customer's can then review the merchant and give feedback on how well the transaction was process as in paypal with seller's ratings.

If you are still not converted from paypal you should consider these two extra bonuses. First all of there are no Google Checkout processing fees from now until Christmas! Also if you use Google Adwords already you are really in luck as for every dollar that you spend on Google Adwords you get $10 free processing from Google Checkout.

You can see a couple example of how Google Checkout is used at this website Easy To Grow Plants.