" In only two days, the company has already completely reshaped the IT community’s perspective of the company. ‘Tis amazing." writes DaniWeb 'newsie' Danny. Does that mean we should flock to use the new products? Perhaps not.

I've been trialling the Version 2 (beta) of Google Desktop for a couple of days now, and I must admit I'm very impressed. The system I'm using it on is filled to the gills with documents, utility programs, and goodness knows what else. With the system now fully indexed, retrieving what I want is only a second or two away. Type the name of a program into the search box and up pops the program icon. Type in the model number of a motherboard and up pops the PDF manual if I have it. The possibilities are amazing indeed.

I just now shed a few tears, because after I'd typed the word 'camping' into the search box to test image searching, I was confronted with an unfamiliar filename, and a lovely photograph of, playing in the sand, my little grandaughter who passed away a couple of years back. The picture must have been sent to me at around that time, and since lost in a jumble of backed up and restored images, because I didn't recall even seeing it before!

But let's not get carried away with the marvelling, shall we? There is most certainly a 'downside'.

Do not install this on a multi-user system or in a Corporate environment without first giving it careful thought!

Desktop Beta 2 improves considerably on the security features which were included in Desktop 1. Multiple users on a system now have access via Google desktop to only what is accessible to their user account. Regardless, however, web history is indexed in real time. Secure pages are accessible to Desktop Search with only a Preferences tweak necessary to make them visible. The tool is not really suitable for use on a publically accessible machine if any sensitive data is to be used with the machine. In a Corporate environment, the 'Enterprise edition' is necessary to enable the centrally managed group policy settings to be deployed.

At this point in time the security features are quite good, the privacy policy an excellent one, and the tool an exceptionally useful one. But it's also a very powerful tool and not one to be used in an environment or location that is not itself secure unless you are certain that there's nothing on your system which needs to be kept from the eyes of others. The most inexperienced person can uncover the data on your system simply by inadvertantly typing a word into the search box! Dad, do you really want the youngster to be inadvertantly pecking out the 'f' word on your keyboard and instantly uncovering the stash of images you'd carefully hidden even from Mum? Jennifer, do you really want the boss to be walking past the front desk, pecking out a word and instantly bringing up that ‘Top secret’ diagram you were supposed to have securely hidden away?

A combination of system security and Google Desktop preferences settings can avoid such things from happening, of course, but they’re not necessarily set that way with a default install. Be mindful of the fact, because this is a powerful tool which deserves respect! Indexing the system in this way introduces the potential for exploitation. It’s a very useful tool, but its deployment must be mindful of risk.

But it’s Google, and they’re the ‘good guys’

Please, pardon me the pain of hearing that!

The time has long since passed where ‘Google’ could be thought of as a couple of College kids following the romanticized Open Source ideals! Google is a BIG concern nowadays, and unless you are wearing blinkers you must have noticed that it is positioning itself to be a virtual desktop replacement! A search sidebar that removes the necessity for organizing and cataloguing files, seamless integration with internet resources, email, blogging, messaging and telephony. This is technology that effectively turns the internet into an ‘operating system’, especially when the many and varied ‘plugins’ are also used.

Comparisons between Google and Microsoft are very, very valid now. Even Bill Gates, when recently speaking to Fortune, acknowledged that Google is "more like us than anyone else we have ever competed with." The New York Times was prompted to address the Google phenomenon, as have been many other news sources.

It’s exciting new technology for sure, but should we put our faith and trust in it? I’m no ‘conspiracy theorist’ but I’m wary nevertheless. I read the Privacy policies and terms of use and see things like:

"residual copies of email may remain on our systems for some time, even after you have deleted messages from your mailbox or after the termination of your account" and….

"Google reserves the right to modify these Terms and Conditions from time to time in its sole discretion, without notice or liability to you. You agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions, as modified."

They might be pretty standard disclaimers, but they do nullify any guarantee of privacy and security I’ve been given. Amazing it all may be, Danny, but ole Catweazle is sitting back watchful and curious just yet, and certainly not rushing to install the latest ‘goodies’ on every machine in sight! Whilst I don't think of Google as some 'cloak and dagger' character plotting to steal my secrets, I want to be sure that they're not going too far, too fast, and leaving my secrets vulnerable.

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Well said Cat, especially that last part about Google in their license voiding any restrictions they place upon themselves in that license by stating they can change the license at will without the user having the right to reject that changed license.


If you read my entire blog entry, you'll notice that I can't agree with you more. Clearly Google's technology is changing the world. It already has. That isn't the question.

Whats up in the air is whether or not we're ready to stomach it all. I for one, won't be using Google Desktop. I don't mind Google Talk, as it's essentially an IM client.

My (one) eye will be closely watching Google. I'm very interested to see how this all pans out for them.

I tried installing google desktop a few days ago but gave up and unistalled it. The indexing stalled at 12% for some unknown reason and I just didn't care enough to try to troubleshoot it. The whole thing sounds great in theory but is not in practice.

Looking at the sidebar one would think it would be extremly useful. It had links to all the new slashdot stories, gmail, search, and many other things I constantly visit with my web browser. This should have been useful, but in reality, it actually slowed me down. I am used to the organizational structure of my computer damnit, and I don't like to change it. I have a feeling had I let it finish indexing I would have felt the same way about the search. I like the way I find my documents, pictures, and programs thank you very much.

It's not that I fear Google is going to take my data. They might, and I don't think google is perfect like some do, but so far they have proven relativly trust worthy. No, I just don't like the idea of those with physical access to my computer being so easily able to access all my data. I like being the only one that knows where things are. It gives me a sense of security. Perhaps I'm just paranoid though. But, as they say, just because you are paranoid doesn't mean they aren't to get you.

Indexing only continues whilst the computer is idle. The indexing process is halted whilst you use the PC, and then resumes after the PC has again been idle for a period.

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