I'm not going to comment on Google's alleged privacy violations except
to say that I've said my piece elsewhere. Any opinions
expressed in this writeup are my own, and do not necessarily
represent the opinion of my employer.
I've learned an awful lot about Google over the past three years. My
senior year of college, I worked on a project for
a company doing research into link analysis algorithms, including
among other things, the paper on PageRank. It's a common myth that
the "Page" in PageRank refers to "web pages"; it's actually a reference
to the creator (Larry Page).
I use Google to search for information about just about everything these
days. It's amazingly handy for doing homework, and if you're in the
software engineering business, it's often easier to do a Google search
for error messages or function definitions than it is to remember which
books document the feature you're looking for. There have been plenty
of articles published recently about how people are searching for their
date's names in Google.
Unfortunately, there are many Google features people just don't know
about. Some of these are more or less obvious: Google Labs has a few
interesting demos on it, and the tabs that appear at the top of every
page (web, images, groups, directory, news) can point you to searches
over different sorts of information. There are also a couple of
interesting features that you won't really notice unless you visit the
advanced search page often. (Many new services get quietly launched on
the advanced search page: Froogle, Google Catalogs, and various OS
specific and university specific searches can be found here.) There are even some services that are more difficult to find: Google Answers isn't very well publicized at all.
But it's annoying to have to go to another page to find the "right
place" to do a search. Besides, if I want to search for something
that's related to Linux, chances are a regular Google search will
bring it up. The really interesting features are the ones that just
automatically happen in the regular search box:
- Spelling correction: try spelling something wrong, in such a way
that Google can't correct it. It's possible, but it's pretty hard to
- Phone numbers: A similar sort of search can work for phone numbers.
A search for "Google, Mountain View, CA" will give you a phone number to
reach Google headquarters. You'll also get the address. Reverse number
lookups also work: a search for "650-930-3500" will return the same
- Maps: if I need a map somewhere, I just type the address into the
google search box, and click on the top result. If you want a map of
the area surrounding Google's headquarters, just search for "2400
Bayshore Pkwy, Mountain View, CA".
- Stock quotes: if you type a ticker symbol, the first link will be to
show stock quotes for that symbol.