" 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.
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.
"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.