Tag: Google

Google Outage Serves as Good Reminder

Google G LogoWhen Google’s App Services encountered a 5-1/2-hour outage Thursday, I was reminded again of the thinness of the thread by which my computing life hangs these days. While I was not directly affected by the outage — though I did see slowdowns and failed connect attempts several times, I wasn’t out of touch most or all of that time — it was still a point of concern.

The reported outage began about 11 a.m. PST and ended about 4:30 p.m. It affected Google Drive (which is home to all of the document creating and management apps in the Google Suite) and apparently it kept some unknown but large number of users from being able to access their online documents for most if not all of the down time.

Live by the Google, die by the Google. I have moved virtually all of my written documents to Google Drive as I wean myself off Dropbox and reliance on my local drive. I’m delighted for having done so but I must remember that it’s not a 100% safeguard solution. I do mirror my Google Drive locally and can work on it locally if and as needed, so I’m not cut off when the inevitable outage comes.

Just have to remain aware. As in so many things in life.


Who Knew Bill Gates Could be Catty?

Since his retirement from Microsoft, I’ve become something of a fan of Bill Gates. His foundation is doing and has done so much tremendous work in the world that he’s on the verge of atoning for the many terrible things he and his company did over the years.

But he made some comments in an interview the other day that are just silly and, as my headline says, downright catty.

See, Google is talking about mounting a series of balloons that would hover over remote locations to give people living there access to the Internet. It’s a pretty ingenious idea on the face of it and in keeping with the lofty goals Google has in areas like self-driving cars and Google Fiber.

But Gates’ foundation focuses on less technical kinds of problems like eradicating malaria. Obviously much higher-impact stuff.

billgatesWhen Gates was asked by Business Week in an interview what he thought of the Google effort, he said, ““When you’re dying of malaria, I suppose you’ll look up and see that balloon, and I’m not sure how it’ll help you.” In other words, “My projects saves lives, yours makes you money while it solves a less urgent problem for the same people. That makes me better than you and able to utter contemptuous statements that make me sound like the kid who couldn’t get picked in baseball.”

Never mind that in the same interview Gates allows as how it might be useful for clinics and schools in those same areas to be interconnected through the Google Loons project (that’s actually what they call it!). He’s proud that he doesn’t undertake projects that help his old company.

Except that he does. And in some fairly insidious ways, particularly when it comes to imposing his ideas about education on the American systems. And all of that’s beside the point. These are both giant, good ideas. Why can’t Gates just be gracious?

Firefox 3-10x Faster Than Chrome on WordPress Sites?

I’ve been noticing lately that when I work on WordPress sites in Firefox, everything moves faster: 3-10 times faster by my own rough clock count. This doesn’t make any sense to me. In general, Chrome is somewhat faster than Firefox when I’m simply browsing the Web and even when I’m using Google Apps. But when I edit WP sites, for some reason, Firefox blows Chrome’s doors off.

I’m running the latest releases of both browsers on OS X 10.8.4. Of course WP settings are the same. I am scratching my head over why this should be the case.

Anyone have any similar or contradictory experience or any explanations or ideas?


Bad News: Google Eats My Task List. Good News: I Find Todoist

I wrote recently about the fact that my Tasks list in Google suddenly disappeared one day. When I went to bed it had 30 or so items. When I woke up it was empty.

After I got over the shock, I decided I wasn’t going to trust Google with my Tasks list any longer. (Why, I don’t know. It’s the first major thing that’s gone wrong with gStuff in the years I’ve been using it and I still trust tons of other stuff to them. But I guess we can chalk this up to selective paranoia.) So I began researching browser add-ons and plugins that would handle my To Do List.

todoistlogoI am really glad I found Todoist, a phenomenally well-done task manager with lots of bells, whistles and perks. But its primary claim to fame for me is that it runs in any browser and on any platform. So I now have access to and control over my tasks list from all of my systems.

Todoist is dead-simple to use, has some nice features (productivity charts and Karma points, e.g.) and is very fast. It took me one hour of free trial to plunk down the bucks to buy a license.

Live by the Google, Die by the Google

I should know better.

I have, over the past many months, become something of a Google addict. I use Google’s apps every day and I is far more of them than I do of anyone else’s.
Google with sad facesThis evening, I had my first epic fail with Google apps. My Tasks list simply disappeared. Poof! Opening the task window now displays a completely empty list. This is pretty disconcerting, given that I have long-lived the business portion of my life based on my current ToDo list. I have tasks scheduled out several months, and a collection of tasks without delivery dates that I periodically review and add to the current schedule.

Or, I should say, I had such a list. It is now gone.

This has happened before, although not to me. I can only hope at this point that this is a transient problem that will fix itself miraculously before I go completely insane. (Although some would say it’s far too late for that.)

SEO Not Dead, But It Has Become Much More Transparent

For years, I’ve been saying that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques that were being taught and promulgated by the vast majority of folks who sell stuff on the Internet were disingenuous and misleading. I felt that they were corrupting the search experience of millions of users by artificially jacking the results to favor a site solely because its owner wanted to make money.

What I’ve always believed — though I’ve also fallen for my share of SEO trickery — is that if you created a site with great content that people found useful, you’d win the long-term game.

Today, John Terra of Website Magazine once again re-confirmed the accuracy of my belief. “What Google wants to see now is original, real content created by original, real people; content that attracts the user’s attention because it’s well-written, relevant and enjoyable.”

That’s always been true. But Google is now making it a top priority to meet that objective. Legitimate SEO — paying attention to keyword location and density but not at the expense of clear writing — will win this game in the long term. I expect, with more than a decade of online content under my belt, that this will begin to pay off for me as well as for my clients.

Is Google Sites YAGOP?

I’ve been exploring Google Sites for a few months, on and off. I’m intrigued by the connection between it and Google Drive in particular. It also makes it easy to incorporate Google Forms into a site, so I began to see some real potential even though the tool is pretty limited in many ways.

Now I have to wonder whether Sites is YAGOP (Yet Another Google Orphaned Product) after reading a piece on the Google product blog and a followup on Tech Crunch. As I posted on the LinkedIn Google Sites User Group that I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to resuscitate:

Google has quietly announced it has plans for a Web design tool to be released “in coming months.” Tech Crunch carried a piece on it, the salient excerpt from which reads:

‘Google’s only service for creating websites right now is Google Sites, which allows you to easily create basic sites and wikis from pre-built templates. That product has lingered without any meaningful updates for a while now, so maybe Web Designer will be a more sophisticated replacement for Sites’ editor. Update: Just to clarify: Web Designer is clearly not meant to be a website building service for now, but it’s easy to envision Google using at least parts of this product in some of its other apps, too.’

The “official” Google announcement of the Web Designer is in this blog post, about halfway down: http://tinyurl.com/mclhzzk

I wonder if Google will update Sites to the new Designer tool, let both co-exist or just abandon Sites. Whatever happens, I’m going to back off Sites until the picture gets a little clearer.

That’s OK. It will give me more time to play with AppScript.


Who’s Got Your Privacy Back? Twitter, But Not Some You’d Think

Great summary of a privacy report today over on the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) site. Among the most important reveals:

Of six criteria for complete privacy protection, only Twitter and Sonic.net manage a perfect score. Dropbox, Google, LinkedIn and SpiderOak (a Dropbox competitor) manage five out of six. (I’m going to see if I can help the first three in that list see the light because I use them a lot.)

But here are the losers who get zero or one star in the evaluations:

  • Apple
  • AT&T
  • MySpace
  • Verizon
  • Yahoo!

That is pathetic. Apple? Come on, Cupertino! Smarten up.

Is Anyone Else Noticing Missing gMails?

In the past four days, I have experienced completely missing emails in gMail. I’ve thought that I probably had this happen in the past but I could never really remember so I’ve brushed it aside. No longer.

Google gMail LogoThe process is essentially the same in each case. I receive an email, I open it, I may or may not reply to it, but I think I always click on a link in it so that I’m taken to another site.

Some time later I go back to read the email again or forward it, and it cannot be found. Search turns up no results. It’s not in Trash. Searching for it by content or by sender or by subject turns up nothing. That sucker is flat-out no longer here.

I’ve waited a few hours and tried again without success to locate it.

Am I going crazy or are others seeing this? Any ideas what could be causing it? A gMail service that loses mail is not very helpful!


Caught in the Apple-Google “Wars”…And Delighted!

Google-AppleOne of my favorite technology writers is Salon.com’s Andrew Leonard. In his most recent article, Leonard talks about about finding himself as an unwitting participant in what’s being called the most important battle in tech. Interestingly, it’s the very same battle in which I find myself at the moment.

I’m speaking, of course, of the battle for eyeballs between Google and Apple. As a self declared “Goodict,” I am a fairly heavy user of Google’s applications. But I’ve been an Apple user and supporter for many more years than Google has even been around.  Most days, I touch an iPad,     an iPhone, and at least one Macintosh. I also run a minimum of six Google apps:  mail, chat, tasks, drive, word processing, calendar, and of course search. Many days, other Google apps get my attention as well.

Leonard worries about the degree to which Google gets to know too much about him in the course of his using their software. It’s an understandable concern, but one that I’ve long since dealt with. Everyone who works online makes continuing trade-off decisions between convenience and privacy. The more an application knows about you, the more likely it will be able to help you accomplish a task or solve a problem. On the other hand, that knowledge can also be put to what may be considered undesirable ends.

When most people talk about their privacy concerns with respect to Google, it seems her focus is on targeted advertising. I’ve never understood that concern. In fact, I welcome targeted advertising. To the extent that I’m even aware of and ad’s presence on the page, I’d much rather see a message that I might potentially be interested in than, say, one aimed at a much younger female.

It’s certainly true that the more information we give people like Google, and the more people like Google we work with, the more potential evil we open ourselves up to. But if we are reasonably judicious, and if we at least a think about the question of whether information were about to divulge could be used nefariously, we can stay about us private as is remotely possible on the Internet. The fact is, that not only on the Internet but in broader society, privacy has become a common casualty of our collective living and wisdom.

And, so far at least, I’m OK with that.