What Google Services do you use?

Thinking about this on the drive in to work this morning, I was astounded by the number of Google Services, Tools or Software I use regularly.  [For the purpose of this post, I define regularly as “several times a month”].  In no particular order, here they are:

  • Google Search & its various avatars (Images, Mobile, Local, Package tracking, Area code, Flight Status, Movie Show timings, stock quotes, Music, etc)
  • GMail
  • Google Talk/GChat
  • Google Reader
  • You Tube
  • Google Alerts
  • Google Chrome
  • Google Toolbar
  • Google Finance
  • Goog-411
  • iGoogle
  • Google Maps & Mobile Maps
  • Google News
  • Google Reader
  • Google Docs
  • Blogger (Passive user, i.e. reader of contect)

Some others that I use less frequently or have used in the past are:

  • Google Checkout
  • Google Product Search
  • Google Earth
  • Orkut
  • Google Translate
  • Picasa
  • Knol
  • Blogger
  • Google Scholar
  • Google Desktop
  • Google Groups
  • Google Calculator & Unit Conversion, Book Search, etc.

Phew, quite a list of prodcuts, right? I dont think I’ve forgotten any, but let me know if I have.  And I dont pay for a single one…impressive!

Enough *** Already

Google never fails to make the headlines. Be it the release of the Google Pack, or setting a court date with the federal government. Last week it was their decision to enter the Chinese market with an official .cn website. This decision has been criticized by everyone and their uncles. Today, I heard perhaps the worst argument for why they should not have done this.

For the uninitiated, China, with its communist ruling party, does not have the same freedom of speech that we enjoy in what can be termed western influenced democracies. They required that if Google was launching an official Chinese version of their search engine, they censor results that the government was opposed to. China is dealing with the flack of such decisions in their own way, thought various human rights watchdog organizations.

I was listening to a newly downloaded podcast today and I was treated to some horrendous commentary. “Google is an American company, hiring American workers, making American dollars. I can not understand their reasoning for doing something so preposterous.” Thankfully, I have deleted this podcast from my players and have unsubscribe to its feed. It is pretty amazing the crap that people are allowed to put out on the net. All of a sudden I’m all for censorship! 😉

To refute: Google is owned by its share holders. One of its founders is Russian by birth. It stock is traded on the NASDAQ. It makes money in all kinds of currencies and they have employees all over the world.

All that is unimportant. The point of contention here is whether Google did the right thing by acceding to the demands of the Communist rule in China. I believe that they have done the right thing. By providing the Chinese with some results in their own language, in their own way, they are providing the basis of what might becomes the a movement for more freedom of speech and expression. Google, I am told, tells the user when their search has been censored. MSN and Yahoo, companies with a longer presence in China, do not do the same.

Yes, I am a Google aficionado. It may seem to readers, that in my eyes, Google can do nothing wrong. Not true. I have criticized some of their actions in the past. In this case, I believe they are doing the right thing. Here is a link to a well written article that I closely mirrors my own feelings.

P.S. The *** in the post title is meant to censorship. Get it? Har! Har!

Love affair with with Google

As my love affair with Google continues, I bring you two pieces of news that just makes they even more lovable. The first is that Google has proclaimed their IM platform, Google Talk to be an open federation. Quoting straight from the Google Blog, “Open federation is technical jargon for when people on different services can talk to each other.” Email is a federated system. As is the phone service. Can you imagine a world where one is only able to call or e-mail another who subscribes to the same service? I’d have to have a million different e-mail addresses (as opposed to my current 20!) and 10 different phones. Why should IM (and VoIP) be any different? Hooray for Google. As of now, Talk is only compatible with a few smaller players, most of whom proclaimed to be open source anyway. But hopefully the bigger players (Yahoo!, MSN, AIM, and Skype will all follow suite).

The second reason for my extolling the virtues of Google today? This blog entry. Phone companies have been threatening to create a “2-tiered” internet system for a while now. In simple terms, traffic from their own ISP, websites and customers will be given preference on pipes that they own. Unless the big websites (read Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc) pay them a fee. Google has gone ahead and called their bluff. I expect that Yahoo! will soon follow suite.

Now for what may even be termed a rant against Google. Surprised? I recently installed Google Desktop v2. In the 2 days that I’ve had it installed, I didn’t use it all that much. And it seemed to slow down my system a fair bit. I also noticed that my Google searches were taking upwards of half a second now. This is a big change, when I’m used to a response in under one-tenth of a second. By my own admission, I’m a fairly organised person. And this shows on my computer too. I can find almost any file on my PC within a few seconds. However, I can see the use of the software to a person with less technical competencies and a more disorganised lifestyle. If I can find a compelling reason to stay with the Desktop, I may continue with it. Otherwise, it is possible the first piece of Google software that I am disappointed with.