Monthly Archives: April 2012

Thoughts on Google Drive

Yesterday, the worst-kept secret in technology came out with Google’s new “Drive” product.

I am not going to review the product per se, there is no shortage of reviews on the internet.  See http://mandatory-tech.com/2012/04/24/google-drive-is-here/ for a friend’s initial take on the product.

To clarify, I will not be using this product at all.

Google’s quest for worldwide domination of data knows no boundaries.  The only safe haven has been your personal data, stored locally under your watch in your home.  So what does Google Drive do?  Well, it gives Google what they ultimately want which is more access to your data.

Think Google won’t be indexing your personal files?  Take a look at their new unified policy:

http://www.google.com/policies/privacy/

“We collect information in two ways…information you give us…information we get from your use of our services.”

While Google has specific product practices for Google Plus, Wallet, and Books, there was no update yesterday to clarify their use of your data on Google Drive.  I find their silence to be deafening.  Their privacy policy still has not been updated since the March 1 roll-out.

This is what I find so incredibly mystifying about Google.  I don’t believe Google is in any way a technology company.  They are an advertising company, first and foremost.

There has also been a lot said about Dropbox, the market leader on the consumer side.  Google’s pricing structure appears to be aimed straight for Dropbox.  While Dropbox’s CEO say he isn’t concerned (See Here), I sure am!  Google has dropped very tough to match pricing on the field.  While Microsoft was able to restructure pricing for SkyDrive, I haven’t seen any changes in the last 24 hours from Dropbox.

While I completely support a market and competitive economy, I feel that Google can afford to drop their pants for storage pricing because they will leverage the data you provide to advertisers.  Google does not have a search or web-ad monopoly, but they command an overwhelming and dominant market share that is not going to change dramatically very soon.  To me, this smacks of a company using their dominance in one industry to take over another.  Remember that company that had lots of court time with the DOJ and EU (hmmm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Microsoft and hmmm http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Microsoft_competition_case)?  I hope DOJ and EU are taking a close look at Google’s online storage intentions.

I have never seen a Google product I found to be intuitive or easy to use.  The people I know who are big Android supporters talk constantly about “rooting” their phone…it sounds so much like a Linux desktop support group.  My experience with Google products is that they are difficult to use, clunky, and awkward to navigate.  Because Google Drive appears to just be window-dressing for Google Docs, I will relate to that experience.  Yes, you can play around with a Word Doc or Excel spreadsheet, and yes, two people can access at once, but I find it to be an awful tool to use full-time.  I appreciate the changing paradigm, from desktop-centric software to app or cloud applications, but I still don’t think the chicken’s been cooked to 160 degrees yet.

Is Dropbox perfect?  Heavens no.  I wish the sync speed for multiple files was faster, and up until this week I could only share an entire folder with another person, not a single file (disclosure:  I have not used the new ‘Get URL’ featured rolled out on the 23rd, will soon).  I also wish, again because personal data is so important, that there were more sophisticated encryption options (Spideroak is the new player on the street and they are touting privacy as their most important feature).  Dropbox’s own privacy policy is extremely vague regarding the information they share with 3rd parties (see https://www.dropbox.com/privacy).  Not to mention that their data retention policy is also worrisome.  I may very well move my data to Spideroak as a result.

So what is the difference?  Well, the difference of course is Google’s track record of being completely evil when it comes to the privacy of their users.  From Google Buzz, Street View, Logging Wifi data without disclosure, the examples of Google hostility to privacy is well-documented (See here for more examples:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_privacy).

And let’s face it, I want to see the little guys make it in the technology field.  Microsoft proved why a homogenous technology field is bad for consumers.  Yet here we are, not too far in the future and while the market is becoming more and more heterogenous every day, it still seems like Google, Amazon, and Apple are swallowing the entire market.

Competition is great.  Having more than a couple competitors is even better.

Let’s all hope the Dropbox’s of the world don’t become the next Netscape.

T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.

Quail Brush is just a P.C. way of mentioning San Diego Screwing Over Santee

You may not have heard about the crap power plant that the City of San Diego wants to put in next to their equally lousy garbage dump.  It is titled the Quail Brush Power Plant. So why is everyone in Santee so pissed off about it?

Most people don’t realize that nearly the entire property north of Mast Blvd up to Medina Drive is actually San Diego City Limits.  From what most Santee residents can tell, this exists for nothing more than an opportunity to build legacy infrastructure that they don’t want blighting the rest of their city.  This is the reason that they have sought to expand the Sycamore Canyon Landfill since Miramar will be projected to close in 2022 and the Gregory Canyon landfill proposal is running into a little more resistance than expected (common sense?)

http://www.savegregorycanyon.org/

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Gregory-Canyon-Stop-the-Dump/271952178742

The flimsy excuse used for the Quai…Actually I will just call it the Screwing Over Santee Power Plant is that it is needed to account for times when their renewable energy is not generating power.

Perhaps San Diego should have a chat with their neighbors in Chula Vista who have enjoyed this oceanfront property since 1960.

<sarcasm>I am stunned that the residents of Chula Vista are not fully appreciating this architectural masterpiece.</sarcasm>

San Diego thinks it is fine to build 11 100 foot stacks that will be seen anywhere there is a view of Santee (You know, Mission Trails, the most popular Regional Park in the entire county.

The effects of this completely unneeded power plant are disproportionately felt by the residents of Santee.  It will be less than a mile from one of the City’s two high schools.  The air pollution from this plant will be downwind from the San Diego River and Santee Lakes (you know, where you like to go to catch fish…hope you like more mercury in your diet).  It will likely also contaminate other reservoirs in East County as well.  Don’t believe the crap proponents are trying to pass off that it is environmentally progressive.  That is the health equivalent of low-tar cigarettes.

Not only do these unnecessary projects (like the Sunrise Powerlink) blight our county, but guess who bears all the financial risk?  It’s not Sempra Energy, it will be paid for by SDG&E rate-payers.  The operating company, Cogentrix, isn’t going to live and die by the “success” of this project but East County residents will.  I won’t even link to their lousy website, which has a view of North Fortuna Peak in Mission Trails Regional Park, although you might want to hike it now before the 11 smokestacks are operating, the dump is already bad enough.

So what should be done?

The City of San Diego Planning Commission needs to reject the request to initiate an amendment to the East Elliot Community Plan to redesignate a portion of a 22 acre parcel from open space to industrial.

The City of San Diego needs to take serious consideration of transferring all City Limits East of the Sycamore Landfill (they can keep it) to the City of Santee where the local residents affected can actually have a say in the matter.

Utilities, public agencies, and private companies need to come together to actually build a real environmental future.  I am not a betting man, but if I were, I am thinking these plants aren’t going to be part of the blueprint.  The person or persons who can develop the technology to harness long-term electrical storage generated from renewable energy, as well as increase the capacity of our solar technology to store more of the Sun’s energy (you know, that thing that has been powering the Earth for 4 billion years) is going to be lending money to Bill Gates’ family someday.

Will this happen?  Will all of our knowledge, intelligence, and ambition give us the opportunity to chart the power needs of this entire planet in the near future?  My instinct says yes, and it also says that it will only happen when that is the only option.  That has to come with saying No, saying No again, and saying No once more after that.  Only then will the creative power of humanity remove us from the carbon era.

TM

T.M. Schultze is a San Diego-based photographer, traveller, and writer. He writes, photographs, and draws things of the outdoors that have inspired humans for thousands of years. He co-authored the Photographer’s Guide to Joshua Tree Park which can be purchased here.