Everyone has seen the Google graphics, you know something on their homepage depicting some historic event of the day, They commemorated the day Pac-Man was released (being a geeky thing, I understood that). Now it seems more and more like a political statement, and when I have said this to many people I have gotten the eye-roll and the scoff, of you let such little things bother you. You are right, you see that;s how it works. It;s the little things that either no one notices or cares about, then it becomes much larger and at that point you are wondering, “Why didn’t we see that coming?” Here is my first example. 2 weeks ago, on the google home page they had a graphic commemorating Russian Worker Day. Which is fine. I understand that Google is a world wide company and have some Russian users and they are demonstrating solidarity or whatever you may want to call it.
My issue came two days after that when on Flag Day (granted it is not a huge holiday in the US), however it is still Flag day and Google couldn’t manage to put a simple American flag somewhere on their home page, if nothing else but to commemorate that it was Flag Day. Then a few days later, the US Army celebrated their birthday, on June 14th. For 237 years the US Army has been defending this country, and could Google put a birthday cake on it’s all important homepage? No. But I’ll bet Che Guevara gets some sort of commemoration on his birthday.
Now with all of that being said, I have decided to live my life Google free. Their one time motto “Do no evil” is a farce.Maybe it should be changed to “Do no evil anyone can catch u doing”. Before you accuse me of me of putting on my tinfoil hat, let’s take a look at the Google services, and what the possible ramifications are.
- Google search – Google can track everything you are searching for, and based on what you search for can present you with advertisements. Fairly innocuous but still creepy.
- Gmail (Google Mail) – They can maintain all of your correspondence. Now the letter to mom might not be that big of a deal, but what if you were using it to create the “next big thing” they have privileges to that.
- Google Docs – Great collaboration features, but the same thing as stated before, might you want to keep that stuff a little more confidential?
- Google Maps – This gives any stalker directions and a picture of your house. (Not that it is bad in itself, but it will provide tools to help stalkers find you if that is their desire)
- Google+ – This is Googles attempt to compete with Facebook.
- Picasa (owned by Google) now has searchable pictures of you and your family.
- YouTube – (See above)
- Google Chrome (Web Browser) That allows you to log in and keep all of your bookmarks in sync, while making tracking you much easier.
And this only scratches the surface. My point is there are plenty of free tools that will do many of there FREE functions without putting all of your eggs into Googles basket. I am a believer in the Internet. I like the ability to quickly and easily communicate with people all over the world in a few seconds. My current distrust of google comes from being a pessimist at heart, and believe that there is a give and take in everything. I think that using free tools is fine, but you may want to consider spreading the wealth around when it comes you your personal information. Here is a list that you can use to spread your information around a bit so that one company is not the sole owner of all of your digital life. So here are some of my alternatives to the Google freebies.
- Google search and be replaced by Microsoft’s Bing. I have been using Bing for some time to do internet searches, and I have yet to see where Google is that much better. In fact, the Bing image search is FAR superior to the Google offering.
- Gmail (Google mail) there are plenty of free alternatives from Hotmail (which is a Microsoft product), and if you are looking for a diversity Yahoo also offers a free email account solution. AOL is still around now called AIM and so forth. a quick search will provide you with plenty of choices to ditch Google.
- Microsoft also offers a Google docs replacement. Using it’s Microsoft Live offering you can use the Office type products that you have become used to, and keep them in the cloud. Microsoft also gives you 25 GB of storage for free. If you prefer to have the applications locally there are a host of applications that you can download for free to do Word Processing, Spread sheets and so forth like Open Office. A quick search will find you many more.
- Mapping programs are becoming more an more mainstream, Apple has a product coming out soon as does Microsoft, map quest.
- Google+ is nothing more than a Facebook knockoff, and not as well done. Just remember something better is always around the corner. Anyone remember myspace?
- Picasa can easily be replaced by Flickr, and if you pay the fee you can have unlimited uploads.
- YouTube can be easily be replaced by services such as Blip.TV or Vimeo, and Yahoo even offers a service.
- Google Chrome – There are plenty of alternative browsers out there. In fact Google Chrome is built on Webkit, the engine that powers Apples Safari and is available on Mac and PC. There is also Firefox by Mozilla, and Opera. All of which are great browsers in their own right.
The point that I am trying to make is that you can use whatever you feel comfortable with, But based on some of the comments that were made by Eric Schmidt and the rest of the crowd at Google, alternatives are never a bad thing.
If you are a Google fan, that’s cool, but there are a plethora of other tools out there and many do a mush better job at the same price.