Tag Archives: google

This is your life

This is either fascinating, useful, or scary, depending on your point of view.

I’m usually logged in to my Google accounts on all of my devices, because I really appreciate the synchronisation of my history, finishing YouTube videos on one device that I started on another, and so forth.

Subconsciously, we all understand that Google therefore knows a lot about us. But if you go to:

https://myactivity.google.com/myactivity

you can see it all laid out before you.

For me, amongst other things, it shows things I’ve searched for, YouTube videos I’ve watched, posts on StackExchange, areas I’ve explored on Google maps, and so on. I generally use Safari, but if I were a more regular Chrome user, there would be a great deal more of my online activity listed here. (If you try this, then switch to ‘Item view’ for a blow-by-blow account.)

This timeline is also searchable, which is very useful for the more forgetful amongst us.

Now, if you subscribe to the ‘Big Companies are Bad’ philosophy, especially in light of recent Facebook news, this would be terrifying, though if you’re of that frame of mind you’d probably not log in to accounts on these services anyway, in which case your record will be less detailed, but you’ll use a lot of benefits too. And Google does offer you plenty of control over what they store, how much ads are personalised, etc. And you can delete your record of past activities.

Wherever you come on the paranoia scale, it is worthwhile and educational, I think, to visit such pages from time to time to develop a clearer understanding of what’s being recorded behind the scenes.

That syncing feeling…

Just setting up a new laptop here, readers, and enabling Address Book’s built-in sync with Google Contacts so as to bring all my contacts over and… aargh! What is this I see? For some reason, the syncing system has decided that the new, empty address book with zero contacts is the up-to-date version, and so has deleted all my contacts from my Google account to make it match! Woe is me!

Now, I was about to write this up as a cautionary tale of cloud computing: if I didn’t have my own local copy of my data here, I might have been in quite a pickle. But then I discovered that the good folks at Google hadn’t allowed data just to vapourise… there’s a handy option in the More Actions menu of Google Contacts, which lets you restore your lost contacts.

Phew!

There’s no place like Chrome

Sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder whether I’m getting a glimpse of the future. I wondered that about the early Google Wave videos, but, so far at least, for all the technical cleverness, the future leaves something to be desired. We shall see.

On the subject of Google, though, this post may or may not turn out to be a momentous..errm… moment for me. Because this is the first thing I’ve written using their Chrome OS. I’m running it on my Acer Inspiron One netbook, booting from a USB drive using the very handy images created by a student known as Hexxeh, who seems to have been such a success that his site is currently down.

So far it’s been very easy to get going, amazingly fast to boot even from my elderly USB stick, and pretty nice to use.

Something tells me this may not be the last post I make using this system…

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser