A good few years ago when I was at college and forced to program in Turbo Pascal (urgh!), we used the word “google” for those strange characters which used to appear on your computer screen when you’d made a really bad mistake in your code – you know, smiley faces, stippled blocks and the like. “Bugger, I’ve got a screen of googley characters!”.
Nowadays, of course, Google is spelt with an uppercase ‘G’ and means something entirely different.
Actually, Google the company now play a big part in how I use computers. As a big company, they’ve learnt a lot from Microsoft – and done the opposite. I love the way they follow open standards and use open APIs and give it all away for free, such as 3GB of email space all paid for with a bunch of very subtle targeted ads.
The thing I like most about Google are that their applications are mostly online. This has allowed me to change the way I do stuff quite dramatically. Instead of having one big PC running Windows, the price of hardware has allowed me to have a few PCs all running Linux… desktops in the study and at work, a MythTV box in the lounge, a laptop for lugging around and a PDA for everywhere else (not running Linux… yet). All these boxes can be used to access the same information – bookmarks and news feeds through my Google homepage, photos through Picasaweb, email through Gmail, news through Google Alerts, adds through AdSense, webstats through Analytics… the list goes on.
Sure, some of their stuff isn’t particularly original – YouTube, Flickr and Hotmail were the innovators for some of the stuff, but a bit of healthy competition keeps them on their toes. I like the way all the Google products can be accessed neatly with one account from any PC and just how nice it all is to use. Plus, it all gets updated automatically without having to upgrade every PC I use.
Maybe they’ll turn evil one day, but, until then, I’ll continue to use them for much more than just searching.