Home > Computers and the Internet, Main, Political Ranting > Bits and Pieces, 3/19/06

Bits and Pieces, 3/19/06

March 19th, 2006

Mars-CliffsThey were expected to last 90 days. Sure, engineers always over-engineer, and leave themselves a comfortable extra margin. But the first of the two Martian rovers, Spirit, has lasted an amazing 779 days, or approximately two years and one and a half months of continuous operation, mostly on solar power, sending back countless photos and scientific data as it rolls along plains, up hills, across the face of Mars. It has traveled a total of 6,797 meters, or 4.2 miles, and finally, it is beginning to wear out. At the height of Martian winter approaches and sunlight wanes to a minimum, one of Spirit’s wheels has become stuck. And yet, the rover moves on, limping still, trying to reach a position on McCool Hill’s north-facing slopes so it can spend the rest of the winter in maximum sunlight. Every once in a while I still visit the image pages for the rovers, where you can see the latest landscape, a new rock-face, yet another panorama of Mars. Way, way cool.

Google has won! At least for now, as the government will probably try to appeal. The snoops in the Bush administration want to peruse through your searches (like they want to sniff through everything else you do), so they can “fight porn,” despite the uselessness of the Google data in meeting that end. More likely, they are trying to set up a precedent so they can filch the files all they want in the future, and get more data about you–oh, I’m sorry, about terrorists–and probably have some nice juicy tidbits, like who searches for porn and how often. Answer: none of the government’s damned business.

So good for Google. Microsoft eagerly handed over the data, as they care little for the end user, and Yahoo caved in, as did others. Google stood and fought, and though a week ago it seemed that they might be forced to give up partial user search data, they eventually won out. Only 50,000 anonymous URLs, not user searches, will be given to the government. This is one of the reasons I use Google. Yes, they aren’t perfect–they caved in to China’s demands for censorship. But more often then not, they do the right thing. Also, they have lots of cool, free software and services, and are constantly developing more–like an online word processor, fantastic web page stats engine, and more. (Anyone have an invitation for the Google Analytics, by the way? Leave a comment with your email, I’ll intercept it in moderation and reply, the email address won’t get published.)

Not to mention that Google is the best search engine, and certainly does best by me–they send twice as many visitors to my blog than all other search engines combined–five times more than Yahoo, ten times more than MSN. They’re the biggest, best, and coolest. Or am I gushing too much?

Bush uses straw-man arguments in his speeches. This is something new? I think not.

In the meantime, Bush’s approval ratings continue to sink. Newsweek has him at 36% Rasmussen, the most Bush-loving of all polls, has him at 40%, the lowest they’ve ever ranked him. Everyone else has him well below the 40% mark. And yet not even 40% want to see Bush censured for violating the Constitution. Are we in Bizarro-land or what? More than that wanted Clinton impeached for getting a blow job. Too many Americans are deeply unbalanced.

From DKos:
Have you seen the Patriot Act game? The game’s creator says, “I’ve had people complain to me that when they play, nobody wins. They say ‘We’re all in Guantanamo and nobody has any civil liberties left,'” he said. “I’m like ‘Yeah, that’s the point.'”

Japan opens up archives of suffering and hardships of people in WWII.

Only of Japanese people, of course.

  1. Shari
    March 20th, 2006 at 10:35 | #1

    Not to rain on your Google parade but you do realize that the only reason they go through the legal expense of fighting the government on this is that rolling over will hurt their business. If they give in, fewer people will use their search service which means fewer people seeing Google ads. It’s not about being a morally superior company that’s interested in the end users’ rights, it’s about money.

    My guess is the only reason MS and Yahoo caved was that they balanced legal costs/reputation issues against loss of users and figured it wasn’t worth fighting. As the biggest kid on the block, Google has much more to lose.

  2. Luis
    March 20th, 2006 at 13:46 | #2

    I’m not sure I fully agree on that; Microsoft wants a bigger chunk of the market, heck, they want to dominate the market, so it seems to me that they would have–potentially–even more to lose than Google by coming across as the search engine that gives away your private info at the drop of a hat. If Microsoft believes they can sell out their users and still win them over, I think they’re dumb–or simply too stuck in the business model of thinking of their own asses by pleasing the powers that be.

    I’m not saying that the people running Google are saints, I’m saying that they are far more consistent in giving much better service, and looking out for the people who use the service. If the motivation is altruism or just good business sense, it doesn’t make quite enough difference to matter. Whether they’re protecting user privacy due to moral sense or business sense, they’re still the only ones standing up to protect that.

    In the end, almost all businesses do good things because they want to make a good rep for themselves. I have no problem with that. Costco pays their employees decent wages, even when the business world criticizes them for it. I don’t care if their motivation is because they believe paying their employees more will get them more money in the end–on the contrary, I would encourage that thinking, and give them my business to that end. If a Wal-Mart opens up in my town, I’ll still go four towns over to shop at Costco. Same thing with Google–as long as they act well, I’ll give them my business and my praise.

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