Google Drive: Read the Terms

April 24, 2012

By Doug Miller

Google launched its Google Drive service today and there have been several articles reviewing both the capabilities of this new service (especially how it compares to DropBox) and also lots of chatter about the terms of service. If you are curious about what Google Drive is, the official announcement is here and Walt Mossberg had a good write up here.

I am a big user of DropBox so I was very interested in trying out this new competitor. Overall, it seems like a solid product. I installed it on both a PC and an Android tablet and it worked as advertised. I was able to upload some files and view these in the browser, on my tablet and on my computer. I even tried accessing Google Drive files from my Windows phone using the web interface and this worked as well. I’m probably not going to replace DropBox just yet but this is a decent product.
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Why Office 365 beats Gmail

April 18, 2012

By Doug Miller
Office 365 vs. Google Apps
Jeff Gould – the co-founder of this site – just posted his piece on why he likes Google Gmail and related apps over Microsoft’s Office 365. Like Jeff, I also use both Google Apps with Gmail and Office 365. I have paid subscriptions for both with a number of users on each system and use them as both an administrator for each domain and an end user.

While Jeff likes Gmail over Office 365, I am more of a fan of Office 365. We each use email and calendaring differently and we each have different tastes for user interfaces and essential features so it is not unusual to have different preferences. For me Office 365 is a better email, contact and calendaring system.
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Why Gmail beats Office 365

April 17, 2012

By Jeff Gould

Regular readers of this blog will know that, following a self-imposed policy of eating the cloud dogfood I write about, I use both Gmail and Office 365. Now I’ve frequently argued here and elsewhere that enterprise software and advertising are two different things that don’t mix well. That’s why I think that – in the current state of play (which might change) – Office 365, based as it is on Microsoft’s rock-solid server-side Exchange and SharePoint, is a safer and more secure cloud platform than ad-driven Google Apps. Of course, Google could certainly strip out the advertising functionality from Google Apps and make it into an outstanding piece of true enterprise software. They could even make it into something that works in hybrid scenarios that combine cloud and on premises delivery. That would be a big step forward both for their larger customers (such as Federal agencies and Fortune 500 corporations) and for their long-term prospects as an enterprise provider. Maybe one day they will do this. But so far they haven’t.

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Google, Schools and the Data Gold Rush

April 16, 2012

By Doug Miller

Back in the 1800s, the possibility of striking it rich simply by picking up gold nuggets that were lying in creek beds – getting something for nothing – was a lure that hundreds of thousands of people couldn’t resist. Today, personal data is the new valued resource and it has become this century’s “gold nugget lying in a creek bed” to simply be collected for free and sold for millions. You might think that the gold extracted in a typical gold rush was much more valuable than personal data could ever be, but the revenue generated from mining personal information is worth much, much more. For example, the California gold rush that lasted about 16 years generated 8.3 million troy ounces of gold which would be worth over $13 billion at today’s prices. But today, Google makes over three times that much in one year from its advertising business which is built upon mining and refining vast amounts of personal data.
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What is Google hiding from the FCC?

April 16, 2012

By Jeff Gould

Last week the FCC gave Google a verbal beatdown that, had it been delivered with karate chops rather than words, would have made Chuck Norris proud. In a 25 page report detailing its efforts to get Google to explain why it eavesdropped on the WiFi transmissions of untold thousands of home and business users, the Commission upbraided the search giant for its repeated attempts to stonewall and derail the investigation. With its relentless accumulation of compromising details the report makes for fascinating reading. But for those who don’t have the time, I offer here a brief summary and some speculation about what is really going on in this decidedly murky affair.

The eavesdropping occurred as part of Google’s effort to create a vast database of worldwide WiFi router locations that would enable location-based advertising on Android cell phones. But instead of limiting itself to collecting just the network addresses and GPS coordinates of the WiFi routers passed by its roving Google Cars (the only data needed for its declared purpose), Google also surreptitiously recorded over a two year period the content of transmissions sent by users who failed to properly secure their routers. According to information released by French regulators and cited by the FCC, the captured content included racy emails and postings to sexually explicit web sites, as well as much other material the owners certainly never intended to disclose to strangers.

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Does Google Apps have a future?

April 12, 2012

By Jeff Gould

A story in last week’s Wall Street Journal paints a somber picture of the future of Google’s enterprise-oriented Google Apps software business. Under pressure from Facebook and anxious investors, Larry Page is said to be de-emphasizing Google Apps in order to focus on the firm’s core advertising business. The latter targets mostly consumers and generates the lion’s share of Google’s revenue (around 96%). It includes the franchise Google search engine, the new Google+ social network, and the Android mobile operating system.

Page’s recent reorganization of the company, according to the Journal, effectively sidelines the Apps business unit. The Apps product development group is now part of the consumer software unit (which develops the Chrome browser and Chrome OS, among other products), while the enterprise sales team responsible for pitching Google Apps to corporations and government agencies has been left as a standalone rump. The Journal also notes a wave of executive departures from Google’s Enterprise business, including the man most responsible for making Google Apps what it is today, Dave Girouard. The article echoes recent comments by Gartner analyst John Pescatore, who bluntly notes that “Google isn’t an enterprise IT provider. It’s a consumer-grade advertising provider.”
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PlaceMe: A Privacy Wake-up Call

April 11, 2012

Placeme Android List ViewBy Doug Miller

I read a post on Google+ by Robert Scoble today regarding a new mobile app technology called PlaceMe from Alohar Mobile. This app installs on an iPhone or Android device and basically tracks your every movement – literally. Using the built-in sensors in the mobile device, this app can track where you are, how fast you are moving, etc. and from this can build up a very accurate profile of your movements through out the day.

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Galaxy Tab Tune-up

April 6, 2012

By Doug Miller

One of my favorite devices is my now ancient Samsung Galaxy Tab which runs Android Gingerbread. This is the original 7 inch Tab and in fact I bought it from an online store in the UK well before it was available in the US. I got the international GSM version and this device not only has a full-time 3G data capability but it also makes phone calls as a cell phone. It has worked fine on AT&T and I even occasionally use it as a cell phone with a Bluetooth headset. I pop in a Virgin Mobile Canada SIM chip when I travel to Canada and can use the device without incurring roaming charges. I love the size, the instant on and the full time connection to the net no matter where I am. While I have an iPad I almost never use it. It is too big for me as a portable device. Same goes for my Windows Tablet – not quite instant on yet and a way too big for throwing in my coat pocket as I run out the door. Hopefully when Windows 8 launches there will be devices similar to the form factor of the 7 inch Galaxy Tab.

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Spies Around Me

April 4, 2012

By Jeff Gould

Imagine the following scenario.

Sitting in a crowded bar, a red-headed bombshell casually studies a map of Washington’s Adams Morgan neighborhood on the screen of her iPhone. Overlaid at various spots on the map are thumbnail photos of men. Under each man’s image is the name of his employer. Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, IRS, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Energy… Yes. She taps the last icon and a Facebook page pops up, which she reviews for several minutes, carefully memorizing each detail. Then she lifts her head and scans the room. After a moment, she focuses briefly on someone sitting at a nearby table. She glances at her iPhone to confirm the resemblance, then puts the device away.
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Using Google Apps? What You Need to Know

April 4, 2012

By Doug Miller

If you are a paying Google Apps for Government, Business or Education customer like me, you have probably been following all the coverage on how Google’s new privacy policy may or may not impact you. There is a lot of conflicting information coming from bloggers, law makers, Google themselves and others on what applies to whom.

I’d like to offer three observations from reviewing my Google Apps privacy terms and what appears to be in effect now. For readers that are not aware, Google offers about 70 consumer products such as Google Search, Picasa, Gmail and YouTube that are covered by a consumer-oriented set of terms. Google also offers 7 of its services (such as Gmail and Google Docs) under the Google Apps program for business, education and government customers. The use of these products is covered by a different terms of service. Business and government customers pay Google an annual per user fee for the use of these products. Education customers can sign up for these apps for free.
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