Friday, May 06, 2005

Super Fast Googs Dude

Google is nuts.

But they are nothing if not innovative - which is why I'm devoting another post to them. (Incidentally, did you notice how in that last sentence I referred to Google in the plural, but in the first sentence I used the singular form? THAT my friends, is an example of bad grammar and composition.) You're well aware of the Google Satellite Maps by now, I would assume? Well, not one to rest on their laurels they've introduced two new "scratch your head" technologies - both still in beta mode.

The first new thing-a-ding they've introduced is the Google Ride Finder. Ever feel like knowing where all the cabs in a particular fleet are and why it's taking them so long to show up after you've placed a call? Well - now you have you're answer - assuming, that is, you live in one of the twelve major metropolitan areas the service covers (sadly Boston isn't among them.. yet.) The basic gist of this is that you click on your city and it will show you an overhead map with markers designating the fleet movements of any number of taxi companies that have signed up for the service. You can zoom in and out to get a general overview or an exact location. Click on the cab company's name and you get redirected to their website. Does it serve much use other than to tell you where their cabs are located? Nope, not yet - but stay tuned. As mentioned before, this thing is still in beta mode so they will probably be adding all sorts of neat new features - hopefully the ability to request a taxi to your location, and fare information among them. Pretty neat. Will they be adding Boston? Who knows, but I think it would be a tough sell for the unions here. You think they want their taxis tracked at all times? I think not. It would mean they'd actually have to do some work.

The next new thing-a-ding, just introduced in the last couple of days, is the Google Web Accelerator. What does this do? Take a look at what it's called, dumb dumb. Exactly what it says. It supposed to make broadband (it is NOT recommended for dialup) Internet surfing quicker, thereby saving time when surfing to my blog (or others - but none are as good as mine - just so we're clear.) Basically, when you install this little gadget your page requests will be sent through Google and Google will, when available, respond back with pages from its own cache. Further, it will try to determine what has changed on a web page and send only the updates. But wait - there's more! It also keeps track of your more frequently surfed websites so that it can refresh them behind the scenes while your browser is idle.

One of the big things critics always scream about with regards to Google is their total lack of regard for personal privacy for those who use their services. No doubt a few people will be up in arms over this latest innovation as well. What specifically do users of this service need to be aware of? Couple 'o things. Because you're essentially surfing through Google you're basically passing a bunch of information onto them when you do so. Google logs every request made for a page (except secure sites (https)) so any personal information entered on an unsecure page will get sent along with the request (basically, if you're using the web accelerator you may not want to enter your credit card information unless you're on a secure page - but that's a good rule to follow anyway.) Also, in order to speed things up a bit, the accelerator may retrieve pages you didn't even request and store them in your local computers cache. Personally, I don't mind so much. While the technology is a bit invasive, yes - I'm not surfing anywhere that I wouldn't want anyone else to know about (except for banking and credit card stuff and that's all secure anyway.) Big Brother has probably been watching me since my birth anyway so there's not a whole hell of a lot I can do about it now.... those people who are screaming about it are probably those who have something to hide. Whatever - call me naive, as I'm sure some of you will. ;)

So there are the two newest additions to the Google family. And don't forget about Gmail either - Google's free e-mail service (which is incredibly STILL in beta) with ridiculously large storage capacity. In all likelihood, anyone reading this either has a Gmail address or has had the opportunity to get one - but if for whatever reason you don't and would like one just leave a comment. I and every other Gmail user out there have 50 free accounts to give away... seriously. So much for exclusivity.

Have a great weekend, folks. Try to stay dry. I'll talk to you a little later on.


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