Here’s the problem: Google now has a clear enough track record of trying out, and then canceling, “interesting” new software that I have no idea how long Keep will be around. When Google launched its Google Health service five years ago, it had an allure like Keep’s: here was the one place you could store your prescription info, test results, immunization records, and so on and know that you could get at them as time went on. That’s how I used it — until Google cancelled this “experiment” last year. Same with Google Reader, and all the other products in the Google Graveyard that Slate produced last week.
Fallows naively says he still “trusts” Google for search, because search and advertising is Google’s bread and butter. He would be wise to switch to other search engines.
Blekko is a good spam-free alternative, Twitter and Topsy are good real-time alternatives, and Bing is an acceptable all-around alternative. DuckDuckGo is good too – it makes use of Google, Bing, and Blekko results while protecting the privacy of searchers.
Gmail and and many other Google offerings are down, and that’s got people upset:
Google’s Gmail experienced an outage this morning, with some users reporting that the problem extended to the search giant’s Chrome browser as well.
“We’re investigating reports of an issue with Google Mail. We will provide more information shortly,” Google wrote in a 12:30 p.m. Eastern note on its Google Apps status dashboard.
Google categorized the problem as a “service disruption” rather than a “service outage.”
Gmail started experiencing problems around noon Eastern. At PCMag, Gmail failed to load, and then produced a 502 error page. “The server encountered a temporary error and could not complete your request,” the error noted. “Please try again in 30 seconds. That’s all we know.”
This is a disruption *and* an outage. Google can try to sugercoat the downtime all it wants; it’s still downtime.
People who don’t know better and use Google’s Chrome browser have also reported a spike in browser crashes this morning. That actually doesn’t seem strange, because Chrome is tied to Google’s centralized offerings. If Google servers go down and can’t synchronize or communicate with the Chrome client (Chrome could be more accurately called a client than a browser, considering how Google’s aim has been to turn it into a gateway to its offerings) that could cause Chrome to malfunction or quit working.
This outage is a good reminder that there are better alternatives out there. Cut ties with the Monster of Mountain View and switch away if you care about your privacy and the security of your data.
It’s unwise to rely on Google as a mission-critical means of communication. A lot of people are finding that out today:
Google Talk went down hard this morning, but is getting back up and running.
“The problem with Google Talk should be resolved,” Google wrote on its App Status dashboard at 8:25 a.m. PT. “We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support. Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better.”
A top priority… sure. That explains why the outage is affecting more than fifty percent of Google Talk’s users.
There are better alternatives available. Skype is well-known, but there’s also open-source software like Ekiga that is more dependable.
Google’s e-mail service, Gmail, is being reported as offline for many people this morning.
The extent and cause of the outage isn’t known at the moment. It is not a complete outage, but Twitter is abuzz with reports from users unable to access the Web service.
Users seem to be reporting mostly outages in Gmail.com accounts. Users of Google business e-mail accounts (Google Apps) are also reporting issues. Google’s Apps status dashboard reports, “We’re investigating reports of an issue with Google Mail. We will provide more information shortly.”
Other services, such as Google Docs and Google+, also appear unusable for those who are unable to access Gmail.
Google has tried to encourage the belief that its offerings have rock-solid reliability, but the truth is, they don’t. This isn’t the first Gmail outage, and it won’t be the last. There’s no good reason for anyone to trust the Monster of Mountain View with their email.
Google kills off Wave, announces that existing conversations will be deleted if they aren’t exported
In a few short weeks, Google Wave will be history… and the data contained within Wave conversations will become inaccessible (though Google will probably retain copies):
As we announced in August 2010, we are not continuing active development of Google Wave as a stand-alone product. Google Wave will be shut down in April 2012. This page details the implication of the turn down process for Google Wave.
Stage 1: Google Wave is read-only — January 31, 2012
In this stage, you will no longer be able to create or edit waves. Marking a wave as read will also not be saved.
Robots that try to write to a wave will stop functioning.
During this time, you will continue to be able to export your waves using the existing PDF export feature. You’ll still be able to read existing waves and access the Google Wave client.
If you want to continue using Wave, there is an open source project called Walkaround that includes an experimental feature to import all your waves from Google.
Stage 2: Google Wave shut down — April 30, 2012
In this stage, all the Google Wave servers will be shut down and you will no longer be able to get to your waves. Make sure to export any waves you want to save before that time.
Once upon a time, Google Wave had the tech press enthralled. But that was in 2009. Now it’s 2012, and Google, having made the decision that Wave is expendable, is shutting down the service – though the underlying software has been open sourced and will live on, maintained by the Apache Foundation, the proprietary software industry’s favorite receptacle for orphaned and abandoned projects.
(The Foundation assumed control of the Wave codebase late last year; it also received control of OpenOffice.org from Oracle. Consequently, Google Wave is now Apache Wave, short for Wave-in-a-box).
Blogger Michael DeGusta has published an illuminating chart which shows just how bad Google is at pushing out updates to phones running its spyware-laden Android operating system. He writes:
I went back and found every Android phone shipped in the United States1 up through the middle of last year. I then tracked down every update that was released for each device – be it a major OS upgrade or a minor support patch – as well as prices and release & discontinuation dates. I compared these dates & versions to the currently shipping version of Android at the time. The resulting picture isn’t pretty.
From the chart, he extrapolated some devastating numbers:
- 7 of the 18 Android phones never ran a current version of the OS.
- 12 of 18 only ran a current version of the OS for a matter of weeks or less.
- 10 of 18 were at least two major versions behind well within their two year contract period.
- 11 of 18 stopped getting any support updates less than a year after release.
- 13 of 18 stopped getting any support updates before they even stopped selling the device or very shortly thereafter.
- 15 of 18 don’t run Gingerbread, which shipped in December 2010.
- In a few weeks, when Ice Cream Sandwich comes out, every device on here will be another major version behind.
- At least 16 of 18 will almost certainly never get Ice Cream Sandwich.
DeGusta goes on to discuss why Google is unable to match Apple in terms of support for users of older hardware. His piece is definitely worth reading.
According to a new post by Google VP of Product Bradley Horowitz, on the official company blog, Google is delivering the death blow to several more products and services, including its code search engine, Buzz, Jaiku, iGoogle features and the University Research Program for Google Search, the latter which provides API access to Google Search results for a small number of academic institutions.
This is hardly the first time Google has killed off products. It previously axed Google Wave and Blogger’s FTP publishing, for instance.
Of course, in the case of Buzz, Buzz is no longer necessary now that Google has its bigger and better Facebook clone, Google+.
The Monster of Mountain View’s latest moves are just more proof that it doesn’t pay to be a Google early adopter. Google has bought a great many promising startups, only to shut them down and assign the talent to work somewhere else in the Googleplex.
The lesson for startups? If Google comes knocking, slam the door in their face and tell them to go away. Yelp and Groupon both spurned Google takeover offers, and they were wise to do so.
The NFB is asking the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to probe whether New York University and Northwestern University are discriminating against blind employees and students through their use of Google Apps’ Education edition.
Specifically, the NFB alleges that Google Apps applications like Gmail, Calendar and Docs contain “significant accessibility barriers” for blind people using screen access technology, which converts the contents of the computer screen into synthesized speech or Braille.
“The NFB will not tolerate this unconscionable discrimination against blind students and faculty and callous indifference to the right of blind students to receive an equal education,” said Marc Maurer, the NFB’s president, in a statement.
The Monster of Mountain View has hoodwinked a number of universities into outsourcing their email and document storage to its datacenters. Tempted by the thought of having lower overhead and less maintenance to worry about, many administrators have accepted the offer without realizing the implications. And this is just one of the ramifications. Contrary to what Google says, Google Apps is not secure. Hackers have broken into corporate or institutional Google Apps accounts on a number of occasions. There was the well-publicized Twitter breach, and more recently, the HBGary Federal scandal. There have been others.
And, of course, there’s also consequences for user privacy. An academic institution that signs a pact with Google is basically surrendering its users’ privacy without their consent. Some institutions have, however, given students a choice of providers (meaning they can use a solution other than Google) and that is certainly appropriate. However, it appears there is no accessible alternative at New York and Northwestern Universities.
In another sign that quality assurance has gone downhill at Google, several media outlets are reporting that a “glitch” in the Monster of Mountain View’s Gmail product has resulted in an estimated one hundred and fifty thousand users temporarily losing access to all their email:
Google, we have a problem. About 150,000 Gmail account holders woke up to a nightmare this morning, with all their e-mail, attachments and Google Chat logs gone. What happened?
Google explains that “less than 0.08%” of all Gmail users were affected by the bug, which completely reset accounts, even down to the detail offering a welcome message to those users when they first logged on today. They, and especially visitors to the Gmail Help Forum, were not amused.
Nice. Of course, Google logs pretty much everything it can for data-mining purposes – which means ironically that its employees have access to the messages of the 150,000 affected users even the users themselves don’t.
A great many people have been lured into signing up for Gmail over the years because they’ve bought into Google’s marketing hype, or they’ve trusted someone who has. It’s true that Google has traditionally included features in Gmail that its competitors (Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail) haven’t, like unfettered POP and IMAP access. But Gmail’s competition is hardly the gold standard. The best email service usually costs money and comes with free, responsive technical support, along with generous storage limits and no advertising in the web interface.
Those who use Gmail not only consent to being spied on constantly by Google, they also run the risk that something like this will happen… and that when it does, they’ll be at the mercy of a faceless corporation that doesn’t provide dependable support.
A few weeks ago, Google announced that its Blogger “service” would drop support for File Transfer Protocol, or FTP, publishing. Blogger’s FTP publishing option has long been used by people who want to publish a blog as part of their own, non-Google hosted website, but use a hosted service to maintain the blog from the backend. Google has decided to end support for that option:
FTP remains a significant drain on our ability to improve Blogger: only .5% of active blogs are published via FTP — yet the percentage of our engineering resources devoted to supporting FTP vastly exceeds that. On top of this, critical infrastructure that our FTP support relies on at Google will soon become unavailable, which would require that we completely rewrite the code that handles our FTP processing.
It turns out that that point five percent are a vocal, savvy bunch… and they’re mad. Originally, Google was going to shut down FTP publishing on March 26th, but it has backed off and given users an extra month to make the “all or nothing” choice: Either migrate a Blogger blog to Google’s servers, or leave Blogger. Not surprisingly, many people are choosing to leave.
Cut sleazy “migration” buzzword.
We don’t want to move our content to your servers, since you like to shut down services the moment you decide it’s ‘outdated’ or hurts your bottom line.
I’m done with Blogger forever unless you keep FTP for people who like me who have been using it for years.
Putting in my two cents again about the disappointment that Blogger is shutting down the FTP updating. I had spent a lot of time and effort getting my sites working with Blogger, and for me, it was the ideal situation because I could update all of them from one location online.
Since the initial announcement, I tried both Thingamablog and b2evolution. TAMB is based on your computer, b2evo is installed on your server. I wanted to throw both of those out there for the any that are migrating away from Blogger because of this changeover. I tried both of them, and with some configuring, I was able to import all of my posts, with correct dates.
Unfortunately, I have to take my blog elsewhere – thank you for the free service over the past 6 years. One of the things that would help with my migration is knowing the algorithm you use to generate the URL of a blog post please.
FTP is time tested software.
Hard to believe the mighty Google is afraid of FILE TRANFER PROTOCOL.
Still not too late to come to your senses. Not only will I de-Google my Blog but I’ll de-Google everthing — except Gmail I suppose, since that would be too onerous even for me.
And I’ll urge others to do the same.
Because if you screw us once, you’re bound to screw us again and anytime you feel like it.
So you’re solving problems I might have on my end (i.e. my ISP & FTP) by just eliminating what could cause the problem despite the problem not being on your end. Yeah, thanks.
I’ve moved to WordPress.
The tragedy of this imminent move is that many blogs currently accessible to readers in China no longer will be.
The great firewall does IP based blocking as well as many other kinds, has been blocking blogspot for years, but they can’t block all the ftp bloggers in one fell swoop, because it simply isn’t technically feasible.
Those blogs are now going to end up on google servers, which means it will be much simpler to block them all – and this will happen in due course, as certainly as our sun will turn into a black dwarf. This means that less information unprocessed by the central government will be available to your average Chinese person, which is basically a bad thing for humanity.
Please rethink this strategy, for the sake of Chinese people who are trying to live informed lives.
All of these comments come from the blog Google set up to focus on the “migration” or “transition”.
FTP publishing users have until May 1st to find a new platform. We recommend WordPress. Other possibilities are Serendipity and Movable Type.