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Journal Journal: Google Desktop Search - Privacy, Microsoft and The Future

There's been a few people wondering about the privacy implications of having the new Google Desktop Search tool installed on their machines - and this is my reply to one in my hosting provider's forums:

According to Google's privacy policy, the desktop search only collects "a limited amount of non-personal information... This includes summary information, such as the number of searches you do and the time it takes for you to see your results, and application reports we'll use to make the program better".

My main concern (other than privacy) is resource usage. I usually get a huuuge performance hit on XP by getting rid of the indexer service, and the old MS Office FindFast used to be terrible on NT4 for corrupting its own indexes, and thus preventing any Office application from launching.

I think this may be another small step for Google's attempts to become an essential part of every desktop PC - and to reaffirm their #1 position in the search tools arena, before the likes of Microsoft/MSN manage to get in there and possibly push Google into oblivion:

Bill Gates on USA Today
You will see amazing search in (the next version of Windows called) Longhorn. In fact, even before that comes out -- which we expect in 2006 -- we'll have MSN offerings that will provide very rich search capabilities. Search is a big area for us. We've got smart competitors, Google and Yahoo, but we see ways that we can take search way beyond what we or they have done to date.

-taken from http://www.usatoday.com/printeditio...tesqa13.art.htm

Google need to get people used to using their search service from the desktop, not just the browser, before 'Search the Internet with MSN' becomes a key part of Windows. MSN, with Hotmail/Windows/IE/MSN-Search/Outlook/Exchange/ActiveDir could possibly come up with an 'all-in-one' search tool (eg - search all your docs, emails, messenger conversations, the web and your local active directory for anything you like), and this presumably is the way the 'search industry' is set to go.

MS's advantage is that they have their own browser/OS/mail client with wide deployment, and their messenger app and webmail app are also both very widely used. Looking toward the future, rights management services will likely mean that Microsoft is the only player in a position to index RMS'd content.

In Google's corner is the fact that people still trust them more than Microsoft (at least for the moment). Also - they have Google Groups (aka the old Déja News usenet archive), an established client base for selling marketing-purpose data and web ad space, plus - there's also the speculation that Google will be coming up with their own browser. Oh, and they have a base on the moon.

I don't think Google are trying deliberately to corner any markets, they're just trying to build themselves a sufficiently strong position from which to face the wrath of Redmond when the time comes.

Ultimately internet searches will be tied in with your company's active directory-type services, your corporate email and discussion boards, shared files, intranet and desktop PC. You'll do a search for "Project FooBar" and get hits back from Usenet discussions, corporate intranet pages, documents stored on a fileserver somehwere or descriptions of people in LDAP/ActiveDir directories, all your IM conversations and perhaps even 'offline' results pointing to removable storage things - so you search for 'Corporate Finance Plan 2005' and it comes back and tells you to plug your USB keyfob drive in. This, I'm guessing, is supposed to be the 'killer app', and currently only M$ are in a position to deliver it. Naturally, their search product won't support other product's data such as Lotus Domino mailboxes, AIM conversations, Quark Xpress documents, etc... so I guess we'll all just have to switch to using Exchange Server, MSN Messenger and MS Publisher.

This is why I don't mind Google launching all of these new services, as I'd rather see two big players splitting the market, than one hegemon taking 90% of the share.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Blocked all of Brazil and Columbia

My hosting provider has recently decided to block all IPs from Brazil and Columbia, and yet register_globals is turned on, because obviously if somebody wants to access a site from Rio de Janiero, it is more reasonable to ask them to move to a different country, than it is to ask web developers to use $_POST['name'] instead of $name.
Apparently Fantastico doesn't work unless globals are on, but I can't find anything in the install/troubleshoot docs to back this up, but I can find plenty of people posting their PHP.ini files to the support forums where register_globals are turned on, and yet hasn't caused a problem. A brief search of the site for 'register_globals' returns 0 documents.
User Journal

Journal Journal: Teleworst

So, I'm nearly finished downloading the ISO for CD#3 of Debian (over 56k dial-up), so I'll be free of XP in no time at all. I really wish I'd kept another copy of the RH9 ISOs.
I had a few problems logging in here last week, as it turns out that my ISP is running some open HTTP proxies, which have been used to mount attacks against slashdot. I've told the support people about this, and their solution was for me to stop using the proxy. I sent them links to several webpages I found which list addresses of their proxy servers as being 'open', one of which is the site for some 'proxy-clicker' software. I also gave them this link, where they should be able to find advice on fixing things.
So, I can now connect to /. and not worry about which address I'm being proxied through, but Teleworst don't appear to want to patch the hole.
User Journal

Journal Journal: A 'favour' from a 'friend'.

So, I went away for a little while, and upon returning home, I find that a housemate has done me the favour of upgrading my main machine from Win2k to WinXP. Sounds nice, you might think, except that the Win2k partition was only 4gb of the 40 on the disk. The rest was used up by the main RedHat 9 installation. Which is no longer there. So now, I am downloading Debian ISOs over 56k. Watching the download stats, I am reminded of Donnie Darko. 3 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, and 12 seconds. That is when the Windows will end.

In other news, I will be 25 tomorrow.

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