The Data Center Mural Project: Update

In a previous post I shared the story of how Google is bringing a little magic to their data centers around the world by partnering with local artists to create the The Data Center Mural Project. I talked about the story behind the project, the types of media that can be explored at the Mayes County, OK (in the U.S.) and St. Ghislain, Hainaut (in Belgium) sites, and teased about two additional sites in the works. This week Google has added new photos, videos, and interviews for their Dublin, Ireland and Council Bluffs, Iowa sites.


The Dublin, Ireland site was supervised by local artist Fuchsia MacAree, whose mural reminds me of the fun and excitement that comes with the spring and summer seasons, which cannot come soon enough for us here in the state of Maine, U.S.A. My favorite part of this project was learning about how they use the local climate to help cool the massive amounts of equipment inside, thereby saving energy and money on more traditional “mechanical” cooling systems.

The Council Bluffs, Iowa site was headed by local artist Gary Kelley, who used the building to tell the story of how important the area has been and continues to be in the sending and receiving of information. After listening to “A History of Connection” I could see this as a history project that I could really sink my teeth into. You can read the full debrief on The Data Center Mural Project by going to Google’s The Keyword Blog.


  • Have students investigate additional art forms in and around the area of these data centers.
  • Compare and contrast one of these data centers to your school/district computer system (besides scale, that is). Have students develop a list of qualifications and responsibilities that one would need in order to work at a Google data center.
  • Present students with the following scenario: If Google built a data center in your hometown, what would your mural proposal look like? How would it represent the community and surrounding art culture?


On The Chromebook: Apps Management

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-9-40-20-pmChromebooks come with the standard suite of Google Apps including Gmail, Calendar, Drive, etc. that can be accessed from the Waffle icon inside of Google Chrome. Chromebooks have many additional apps as well which can be accessed from the Launcher tool, located in the bottom-left corner of the screen.

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From the Launcher window you can:

  • Conduct a Google Search (voice command search available!)
  • Access recently used apps
  • View your entire library of installed apps (All Apps)

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From the ‘All Apps’ icon, you will see all of the available apps currently installed on your Chromebook as part of your GSuite account.

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  • If you have more apps than can be displayed at one time, then use the line spacers at the bottom of the window to cycle through the different pages of apps.
  • App icons can be re-arranged and grouped together into folders similar to app management schemes on mobile devices like the iPad.
    • To create an group folder, drag one app icon on top of another. Then drag any additional apps into the folder.
    • Click to open the app folder and you can then give it a name.
    • To remove an app from a folder, drag the app outside of the window. When the main library window is revealed, place the app icon at its new location.
  • From this window you can customize your Chromebook toolbar (a.k.a. Apple Dock / Windows Taskbar) with the apps that you use the most, making their use only a single click away!
    • Drag apps from the All Apps window to the bottom toolbar that you’d like easy access to. Drag apps that you no longer want in the toolbar to any place on the Desktop to remove the shortcut (this does NOT delete the app, rather the shortcut to the app).

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  • To add additional apps to your Chromebook, navigate to the Chrome Web Store (Note: there is an app for that in the All Apps menu).

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  • Click on the ‘Apps’ category or use the Search field if you already have an app in mind.
  • Apps with a green ribbon in the top-left corner of their icon have already been added to your account; those without a ribbon have not been added and are not yet available for use.

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Google Apps: Insert Images Into Google Forms

Google Forms – Assessments that now can include images

It has been over a year since my school district integrated Google Apps for Education into our system, and since then I’ve been working to see how I can apply their tools to help enhance my computer literacy curriculum. One aspect of Google Drive (also knows as Google Docs) that I really like is their Google Forms. In addition to basic data collection, I’ve used Google Forms to conduct project assessments, pre and post quizzes, and collect feedback from students on how an assignment or unit went. However, one component that was sorely missing from Google Forms was the ability to insert images into questions…until now.

Thanks to Richard Byrne over at, I learned that images are now an available component that can be inserted into a Google Form question. This new feature opens up so many possibilites for expanding the use of the Forms, such as map screenshots for students to identify geographic features or venn diagrams for students to analyze. Anything that you can take a screenshot of is fair game. If a screenshot will not do, perhaps because the component is interactive or is a video, you could try creating a QR code that links to the component for students to access from a mobile device. The point is, if you can get it in an image then you can integrate it into your Google Form.

If you’d like to learn more, head on over to for more information and a video tutorial that shows you how easy adding images to a Google Form is. You should also check out Brent Catlett‘s blog, Cat’s Chronicles, where he provides written directions with accompanying screenshots on how the process works.


Google Apps: Advanced Searching in Gmail

Advanced Searching in Gmail – Helpful search operators

In my last post I talked about how to use special ‘search operators’ when conducting a Google Search to help Google return results that are more closely related to the information you are looking for. If you are a Gmail user, then there are special search operators designed specifically for this Google App to help you quickly and efficiently zero in on a specific email or conversation.

For example, you can search for emails that have attachments by using the operator filename: (Ex. filename: agenda.doc – this will look for messages that have an attachment called ‘agenda.doc’). In another example, by default Gmail does not search for items that may be in your Spam or Trash labels. You can instruct Gmail to do a truly global search by using the operator anywhere: (Ex. anywhere: minutes – this will search for any messages containing the word ‘minutes’). There are many other operators that will let you search Gmail by label, starred items, before a date, after a date, between two dates, and many more.

A sampling of some of these search operators is covered below in a video from Techzilla; the full list of operators can be viewed on Google’s Gmail Help site.

My thanks to for tweeting this video and Techzilla for sharing the link to Google’s full list of Gmail search operators.