Google Runs My Life

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Google Runs My Life
I’ve been meaning to write about how Google Runs My Life for a few weeks now, ever since I realized how dependent I’ve become on Google and the free services they provide. It’s hard to imagine that a mere 10 years ago, I hadn’t even heard of Google. And I only came to know Google from a work colleague who recommended it as a search engine back in 2000. And now, 10 years later, Google is almost synonymous with the internet. With Google owning 70-80% of the search engine market place (or is it more?), some might say that “Google IS the Internet”.
Google has really enabled me to live off the cloud. It all began some 5 years ago when another work colleague of mine introduced me to Google Mail, or Gmail. At the time, I had always used Yahoo Mail, and I still do today, mostly just to keep it active. Gmail is now my main email account. But at the time, Gmail was the first to offer free email up to 1GB, and that was a lot at the time. Its user interface made it really easy to use and navigate. It wasn’t slow. Furthermore, Gmail allowed me to access mail from my other accounts, as well as send out email on behalf of these accounts. What more would I need? I get plenty of space, it’s fast, and I don’t have to download my mail to view it. That was the beginning of my reliance on Google.
A year later, Google launched Google Earth, which was a fascinating project at the time. This has evolved, and though I don’t use Google Earth anymore (since it requires installation), Google Maps is now my default engine for searching locations and finding directions. The ability to zoom in and out via the mouse scroller, and dragging the map around, really convinced me to stick with it. And even now on my BlackBerry, it readily integrates with GPS to show me where I am at all times.
Soon after I started using Gmail, Google introduced Google Calendar. I used it sporadically when it was first released, namely because there weren’t that many people using it. And Google Calendar is really a tool for sharing. There’s no point using it, if there’s no one to share it with. But since getting my wife on it, we’ve been able to share our schedule online at all times. And I’ve come to rely on this schedule to communicate tasks and events, both for work and for family. And now I can quickly remind myself of these events and tasks without having to constantly communicate with people around me.
Now most recently, I’ve started to use Google Reader. I read a lot of blogs both from family and friends, as well as from work colleagues and from industry. Google Reader allows me to subscribe to RSS feeds and track which articles are new, and which articles I’ve read. And so I’m quickly informed of new posts without having to individually check blog sites every day. Now I know that there are many RSS aggregators out there that do just the same thing, but being a Google user, it makes it so much easier to stick with Google, especially since their applications are intrinsically so easy to use. Why would I even bother to look elsewhere, even if there are better applications out there? I’d only need to keep one set of username and password by sticking with Google, and I don’t need to share my personal information on another foreign system on the internet.
How else does Google run my life? I love Google Chrome as a browser. I still use Mozilla Firefox for variety, but Chrome is excellent as is. And Google’s coming out with a few new things, like the Google OS and Google Wave, both of which appear extremely interesting to me. That’s a lot of applications for one user to use from just one provider.
So now thinking about it, do I really want Google to run my life the way it does? To be frank though, Google doesn’t really run my life. I rely on their services to run my life. But if Google were to go away, it would mean a serious adjustment on my end. I think Google can get away with a lot with such a large and reliant user base. They just need to make the right decisions. Where will they go next? I don’t know. Will I follow them? Probably… But can I live without them? Probably so too… but it would be hard.
Anyway, hats off to Google for doing a great job. I’m slowly starting to think that Google might be the next Microsoft with a monopoly on the market. But so long as they act in good faith, and they don’t try to force the market to go certain ways, then they should keep a healthy following of users who’ll use what they provide.

I’ve been meaning to write about how Google Runs My Life for a few weeks now, ever since I realized how dependent I’ve become on Google and the free services they provide. It’s hard to imagine that a mere 10 years ago, I hadn’t even heard of Google. And I only came to know Google from a work colleague who recommended it as a search engine back in 2000. And now, 10 years later, Google is almost synonymous with the internet. With Google owning 70-80% of the search engine market place (or is it more?), some might say that “Google IS the Internet”.

Google has really enabled me to live off the cloud. It all began some 5 years ago when another work colleague of mine introduced me to Google Mail, or Gmail. At the time, I had always used Yahoo Mail, and I still do today, mostly just to keep it active. Gmail is now my main email account. But at the time, Gmail was the first to offer free email up to 1GB, and that was a lot at the time. Its user interface made it really easy to use and navigate. It wasn’t slow. Furthermore, Gmail allowed me to access mail from my other accounts, as well as send out email on behalf of these accounts. What more would I need? I get plenty of space, it’s fast, and I don’t have to download my mail to view it. That was the beginning of my reliance on Google. More

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Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon 2009

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My wife and I at the Starting Line

My wife and I at the Starting Line

I surprised myself this year. Last year, I ran the Scotiabank Vancouver half marathon in 2:28:42 (2:23:41 Chip Time) – a respectable time, I think. Granted, my training kind of tapered off the months leading toward the race, and I relied mainly on my stamina from cycling 10 km to and from work everyday. And I also have to say; my fear of failing that day spurred my focus, which enabled me to finish. It was truly a trying but rewarding experience. I think I made it more on sheer will power than anything else, and I ended up paying for it with tensed leg and neck muscles, which later brought on severe neck stiffness and pain. Two months later, I finally saw a chiropractor, which helped relieve my neck pains (yup, I was walking around with a painfully stiff neck for 2 months before seeing a chiropractor).

Anyway, long story short, given the effort I put in the last time, I was fully expecting to finish at around the same time. When I told my chiropractor that I finished a recent 10 km race in 58 minutes, she told he I’d finish in under 2:10 easy. I was like, “Nah!” But the pressure was on. Some things were working for me though. I was training more regularly (thanks Ayu, for spurring me on). Ayu and I took weekly long runs together, up to 8 miles. And though our pace was slow, we were consistent. Also, I know what to watch out for when it comes to my neck. More

Company Culture

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I originally wanted to write about my experience working from home, and how it affects (or is affected by) company culture. Employees who work remotely constantly deal with communication issues and staying connected with the company. But midway through my writing, I realized that the subject of company culture is rather large and worthy of its own entry. And so here I write about my views on company culture (with perhaps a future post about working from home referencing this one).

I consider myself very lucky and extremely fortunate to have worked with a great company right after graduating from college. If you’re only given one chance to make a first impression, then your first job really has the potential of shaping your entire perspective on work, and what it means to you – your work philosophy. Every subsequent job experience, though different and unique, will not have the same impact as the first. Perhaps it’s just me, but I really learned a lot from the first company I worked with. It has defined my work philosophy.

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