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Google can help, Google can hurt

Posted by J Powers at 12:23 AM on September 28, 2009

There are many great things that Google has come out with in the last couple years. I have been all for what they accomplished, even if I don’t use everything. But the last couple ideas haven’t been warmly accepted by the IT populous.We’ll take a look at a few of the ideas, Good, bad and indifferent.

The Good

We’ll start with the one thing that Google has been doing right for years: Search. I remember when it came on the scene – I was pretty much torn between Metacrawler and Dogpile; I was never a Yahoo or MSN search user. Google just seemed to fit better. The later additions like images and news helped out a lot. Add to it the fact the default search on Firefox was Google. Even when i used IE I would switch it over.

Bing is a nice alternative nowadays, although I like the Google vs. Bing site. They do have to think of another name. google-vs-bing is a bit long and if you forget to put in dashes, you will not be on that site.

Gmail: I switched to Gmail a few years ago. I didn’t like the fact that Yahoo was holding my email hostage – even if it was a free service. Hotmail is no different; if I don’t pay the yearly fee, I don’t get to download my mail.

Gmail let me control my mail the way I wanted. It had some great features to connect with others and I really wanted my mail to come through in Thunderbird. Now with the iPhone, it just seems best to stay in the cloud, although i still download to TB for another way to archive.

Toolbar: I have to admit, I haven’t used the toolbar since the newer versions of browsers had the search feature added on the top. Why add another layer? It might just slow down the experience and clutter the screen.

I remember using the highlight tool a lot. Now with Firefox, I just use the highlight add-on. Works pretty well, especially if you are using webpages for reference – highlight the key points.

Maps: This has grown immensely in the last few years. It’s even changed the way I search maps. Satellite view, street view, even hybrid maps have enhanced my use.

I remember when first found out the map could be moved by click-dragging or re-sized by scrolling. I think I played with those features for hours. And yes, I tried to find my house when the Satellite feature first came out.

Labs: This was an impressive feature. No closed beta testing – the ability to put something out in public without giving to everyone. I could then use the “soon to be” features at my discretion.

Analytics: What can I say? I need help with my websites. Being able to have someone help me understand where problems lie is key. Having it come from the place that pretty much wrote the rules on how search is done is even better.

The Bad

SideWiki: Google’s recent choice of SideWiki is not a good one. It takes away from a website. As an administrator, I want comments on my site to be on my site. I don’t have sidewiki setup and I don’t want to confuse people as to where they comment on.

I also don’t like sites that steal my comments. Digg is a good example. While I don’t like Facebook or Twitter stealing comments for tweets, it does promote my brand a lot better with replies on posts.

Chrome Frame: As an IT professional, I hate this idea. It would be like having the Ford dealer put in Ford parts into your Chevy. Once they were done, they cannot really guarantee it’s not going to fail.

If  your company runs IE6 for some reason at this point, they may have legitimate reasons to keep it that way. It’s not that a company doesn’t want you to have the latest version of software. It’s all about how it works with the other programs you have to use.

The Dead Pool: Jaiku, Video, Notebook and Dodgeball were all parts of Google that didn’t work out. However, they sometimes did enhance other areas with the technologies within. Notebook helped with Docs, for example.

Indifferent

Docs: I use Google Docs, but only for simple items. Documents I have to share that are not sensitive, for example. There is a lot of functionality in Office and OpenOffice that Google Docs hasn’t even touched. There are even some quirks in Docs that make it tougher to switch over.

Reader: I guess I just haven’t gotten the gist of this idea yet. I’ve used feed aggregation before, but sometimes I like to “Hunt” for news. When I used newsgator, I found that I was going back to the same items time and time again.

Blogger: I used Blogger when it first came over to Google. I remember that year I decided to give up meat for 40 days (a personal choice, although I did it during the same time as “Lent”). I used Blogger for my personal journal. And yes – this was before “Supersize Me” came out.

I like to control my own brand, though. Therefore, I moved off the platform. I also wasn’t serious about my Blogger profile. It ended up being pushed to the wayside and forgotten until it was removed by the system. I won’t get that data back.

Feedburner: There are a lot of people who live and breathe by this item. I personally don’t use it, although I do have my site up on Feedburner. You never know where a lead will come from.

YouTube: This was a great item, but then they put too many restrictions on the site. I don’t like being told what I can or can’t say or promote. Nonetheless, I know that being on YouTube is a powerful marketing tool. Therefore, certain items go on YouTube, like promoting a new show or item.

Chrome: The browser is an interesting one. It’s got a lot of great features, but as an IT pro, I cannot recommend it for business. It’s like I said with Frame – You may have to control the environment. Chrome doesn’t always give you choices on updates.

Book Search: Of course this is new to a lot of people. I still like the feel of a paperback while I sit in bed just before I fall asleep. I think there are a lot of people out there that are just like me, too. Digital books haven’t really found the happy medium yet – But when that someone comes out with the way to read a book online that is more inviting than the paper copy, the proverbial pendulum will swing.

There are a lot more products out there. It really is interesting how many pots Google has their hands in. It may someday get them in trouble with the FTC or EU, but for now, there are some great free alternatives to items you need to use.

One Comment

  1. From becky grant at 12:32 am on September 28, 2009

    Wow you really put a lot of effort in to this post. There are a lot of valuable gems here. Right now Google is, in my opinion, at the top. I wonder if and when another search engine is able to really compete, if this will change the game yet again?