Thursday, October 7, 2010

What's In A Name?

Why might someone want to change their Google ID (or even create a second ID)? In my case the answer was "vanity": I realized that as other service providers, such as Meebo, connect to Google services that my ID would be exposed as 'rishi.chopra' rather than as 'idfubar' (which is the ID that I specify whenever I sign-up for services which require specification of nickname).

What's a legitimate reason for wanting to change one's ID?  One of my colleagues at IBM a number of years ago decided to change her ID due to a change in last name (as a result of divorce); I recall that her effort was successful but that it took a bit of effort (Tivoli Access Manager was not in use by our group at the time and wasn't yet available via the Technology Adoption Program).

How does one go about making sure that one's data isn't lost in the process of changing one's ID?  Many Google Services offer a means of exporting data by way of a "Settings" menu; some applications, however, require a little more effort.  A list of applications & things to think about (as of the date of this blog post) are as follows; items with a '?' are ones for which I haven't explored the import/export capacity (and, in most cases, the service itself):

AdWords: Data Liberation Blog
Alerts: export is built-in (import doesn't seem to be available)
App Engine: ?
Apps For Business: ?
Analytics: ?
Base: ?
Blogger: blog posts & comments can be imported/exported; blogs themselves should have their ownership shared and authority granted/revoked appropriately
Bookmarks: import/export is built-in (lists should be re-shared with the new ID)
Books: bookshelves and books should be re-created manually
Calendar: import/export is built-in (shared calendars should be re-shared with the new ID)
Checkout: purchase history can be saved manually (import doesn't seem to be available)
Code: favorites list should be re-starred
Contacts: import/export is built-in
Chrome Bookmarks: ?
Docs: import/export is built-in (docs should be re-shared with the new ID)
Finance: import/export is built-in
Gmail: mail can be imported via POP3
Google Friend Connect: script code should be re-generated and copied
Google Storage for Developers:
Groups: new ID should be added to groups for which one is a member and given authority for groups for which one is an owner/co-owner
Health: records should be shared and/or re-imported from linked sources
iGoogle: import/export is built-in
Lattitude: service (and associated services, e.g. Google Location History, Google Location Alerts, Public Location Badge, and Google Talk Location Status) should be re-enabled
Knol: ?
Maps: ?
Mobile: ? (NOTE: HTC G1 reset will result in a prompt for an ID)
News: personalizations should be re-applied
Notebook: export (to Google Docs & HTML) is built-in (no import is available, i.e. copy/paste is required)
Orkut: export (to CSV) is built-in (no import is available, i.e. contacts must be re-added)
Page Creator: pages were migrated to Google Sites automatically
Picasa Web Albums: import/export is built-in to Picasa
Places: ?
Profiles: items should be re-specified
Project Hosting: ?
Reader: import/export (to OPML) is built-in
Scholar: preferences should be re-specified
Sites: no import/export is available (copy/paste is required)
Sketch-up: ?
Squared: export (to CSV or Google Spreadsheets) is built-in; links can also be saved via the "Share" button
Subscribed Links: import/export (to XML) is built-in; buttons and published links should be revised
Talk: chat status should be re-specified
Voice: no import/export is available
Videos: ?
Wave: Google Wave Blog
Web History: history can be accessed via RSS (
Webmaster Tools: sites should be re-specified
YouTube: ? (YouTube and Google accounts can be linked)

When should one think twice about changing one's ID?  If the following bugs/problems haven't yet been addressed or are of particular concern then one should hesitate before making a change:

Gmail: chats transcripts must be forwarded separately using a filter
Calendar: exporting calendars results in events which are set to 'private' if 'default' was the initial setting; also, creating calendars with the same name and then importing can result in strange behavior
Profiles: an alternate email address can only be associated with one given Google account (help forum profiles also seem to be linked to a given account)

Where might an extra Google account come in handy?  It's conceivable that an extra account might be useful for storing shared calendars, group documents, contacts of a less personal nature, mock-up sites, published links, & a vanity profile.

Who might conceivably have successfully "migrated" an account?  I was able to do the same with little lost; the only issue (as of the time of this post) is that Web History doesn't cleanly transfer and Help Forum profiles can't be preserved (or even created with a duplicate username).  Also, another Rishi Chopra expressed his dissatisfaction that I had taken the ID 'rishi.chopra' and receiving mail intended for 'rishi.chopras' didn't seem to be the Google experience that I had come to expect.
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