From the Blogosphere
The Web-Based World: In Praise of Google, iPhone, Twitter and Facebook
Google Chrome is a sweet thing but I had several problems with major banking and financial web sites
Jun. 30, 2009 05:00 AM
I would not have written this blog in the year 2000 and by now I am highly opinionated towards Google, of course in a good way. During my graduation years (1996-2000), I used Rediff and Yahoo! search for my college projects, and ACM seminars. In the year 1996/1998, Google was known but to very few people. But nowadays Google is not just an Internet search company but a worldwide phenomenon that changed the way everyone thinks.
While I have all due respect for the Internet Portal company Yahoo!, I think Google is not simply a “Search-Advertising Company”. Google is the company that revolutionized how people viewed e-mail, blogs, advertising, analysing the web sites and viewing the world with Google Maps.
Of course I am sure others may have other favorite applications. But I personally feel these are the applications that every one uses daily. Everyone means really everyone...my parents use Google for everything. Anything my parents want to learn, they just Google it. I had difficulty in explaining when I said to my father that I would like to study Computer Science as an undergraduate. I still have difficulty explaining the differences between C, C++, Java, Oracle, Windows, etc… but they just used almost all Google technologies without any help. This is the amazing part for me. Technology is one thing that I am extremely fond of with Google. But more than technology the amount of research that would have gone into designing intuitive applications is AWESOME! There is so much Computer Interaction Design necessary for a company like Google. I don’t recall any technology or product from Google that I ever had any problem in understanding. All of them are so intelligent and intuitive that everyone feels at ease using the Google products.
Everyday many of us use Google in many ways. Some just use the Search, some use the e-mail, some use the Google’s Android technology to build application, some use GWT to build web applications and so on. The list probably is never ending and a matrix can be established to depict different technologies and users.
I am in no way different from any of the technology savvy guys out there. However, the affinity towards Google and Apple has been tremendous and I just can’t think a day without the help of the applications and gadgets from these companies.
Google and Apple in my Life: I wake up with a morning alarm in my iPhone and look for any important mails. For me iPhone is the “world’s smallest computer” and does great things. While looking into my closet for the day, I look into the iPhone weather to get the right outfit. Because even though I live 40 miles from San Francisco, the weather dramatically changes there from Fremont. If I have a little time before I am off to office, I would invariably open my Google mails and connect with my friends, family and my old and new colleagues. Of course, I don’t have the habit of the newspaper reader but instead I open my Google Reader and start reading my technology and general news across the world. Google Reader helps you to aggregate lots of great sites in the form of RSS feeds. The good thing is that I can share the news that I like with my friends and colleagues.
Most of my planning about my monthly expenses and small documents for my personal use happens with Google Docs. This is a wonderful application and I love it. The way Google built the Docs application with almost all the features of Office and Open Office is amazing. The cool thing is the ability to collaborate with multiple people for editing a documents such as Word, Spread Sheet and recently I can save my PDFs and open them from Google itself. This is extremely useful feature for me. A year back, when I was working on a personal project, I collected requirements in Google Word and then shared it and gave the editing rights to my partner and view rights to developers. This was so cool - me and my partner could also do the real-time editing on documents by talking to each other with Google Talk. I maintain my personal finances in Google Spread Sheet and my wife has the viewing rights on it (for this time :) ).
Sitting in San Francisco, I could nicely see the image of my home in Hyderabad, India. I could see the arial view of the places that I wish and Google Earth made this possible. The great thing is you can search and tag all the places that you toured and share the content like photos. You could also get the historical content from Google Earth.
In the earlier days before iPhone, I had a really dumb mobile: no other features except call and receive. Me and my wife are fond of the Italian and Chinese food. So wherever we went, we used to make sure that there are some good restaurants around. When we went to places like Napa Valley, Monterey, Carmel-By-The-Sea, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Morrow Bay and many more places, we had to take a printout of the restaurants around or used to catch a local guy there and ask him for good restaurants. But with the invention of the GOOG-411, things have changed. It is so easy to find a local business and get connected in seconds. Just dial 1-800-GOOG-411 from any darned phone that you have and say what you want, listen to the options and then get connected. It's that simple. After this piece of cake, I never had to bother about printing the restaurants, or addresses of any local businesses.
Google Mail is one of the cool things I like about Google. As I recall Google was the first email provider that gave 1GB of space free for your mails. Till that time people used to struggle with low space and used to create multiple accounts on the same provider to safeguard the data. At the time of writing this article when I looked my Gmail account it shows “You are currently using 955 MB (13%) of your 7342 MB“. Of course over the time the cost of hardware has dramatically reduced. However, the credit of providing the premium service goes to Google in the early days. The idea of a “conversation” is so cool and intuitive than the emails sorted by the date or size.
YouTube revolutionized the way people viewed video content and sharing. A simple concept of being able to upload your videos on to the Internet and billions of people can view the quality content is amazing. The ability to share to public or to specific users is the cool thing that everyone liked. There are videos that we wanted to share with world, and some only with family an friends. YouTube is the only reliable solution as I see till now. When my father suffered a cardiac arrest early this year, it was through YouTube that I could get so much information about a heart surgery. My in-laws who are doctors get so much of information on YouTube about surgeries and medical interviews, etc. (Of course this product is not the brainchild of Google itself, I know. Google acquired YouTube.)
Orkut probably redefined the way friends used to communicate and the way people got connected. Even though I don’t use it now, I was a great fan of it during the year 2003/2004. The purpose of Orkut's founders probably is little different. However, it re-united all our school and college friends in a matter of 6 months. Though initially privacy issues were a serious concern, it looks like they worked on it now. Orkut was also acquired by Google.
Where ever I go, I make a point of getting some memories along with me in the form of photos. I take great pictures of nature, historical buildings and people (I am not a big fan of pets or animals). It used to be a pain to upload on to Yahoo Photos and then came Flickr. However, Picasa was so easy and loaded with features, that Picasa actually overpowered Flickr. I don't use Flickr anymore and all my iPhone and digital photo pictures go straight into Picasa Desktop to Picasa Web. The recent features of being able to make a movie, colleage, and edit pictures are really really great. Of course there is Adobe PhotoShop for couple of hundreds of dollars, but Google gives it for free.
With so many applications that I use from Google and iPhone, I just can’t imagine my life without these gadgets. If I plan for a vacation, I begin by using Google Search to research the places and use Google Docs to store the information then use Google Maps to look for the driving directions to that place (could also select multi-route), look for the beautiful pictures uploaded on to Google Maps then send a Google Calender invitation to my family members about the vacation planning and information.
All the above features from Google are only from a Technology USER perspective. One should remember that I never wore the hat of a technologist. Till now I am only a home user of Google. Though all these applications till now are great and do a great job, I do have some complaints.
Google Talk is one application that I liked initially - but not any more. Google Talk used to be a DLL installed and I could see it in the process Explorer all the time. I don't like DLLs. However, I am happy user of Skype. Skype is great for messaging, video conferencing and such.
Google Chrome is a sweet thing but I had several problems with major banking and financial web sites. I could not use it after a week and reverted to my good old friend FireFox.
Google Toolbar and Google Desktop Search are two applications that I would definitely avoid. The Google Update Manger that gets installed and runs in the processes all the time is a big pain. I just don't want Google to update it; I know when to update and I will update.
I am sure many technology and software developers are earning their living on technology inventions like Google Android, Google Web Toolkit, Custom Search for Google and other things.
Of course, the great thing is that almost all the things that I mentioned above are possible with iPhone. So, as of now Google, iPhone, Twitter and Facebook seems to be inseparable.
Do you also think that modern technologies are helpful for us? Do you think we are dependant on these technologies and we are slaves to these technologies?
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