Google sabotaging Internet Explorer

A new version of Google Mail yesterday; and today I find that it won’t work properly with Internet Explorer 10.  I was forced to use Chrome – which I dislike – in order to reply to an email.   (link; link) It looks as if it doesn’t work that well with Firefox either.

This is not the first time that Google has broken its products, if used with IE.  If you use Book Search, hitting backspace works in Chrome but not in IE.  It’s a small thing, and I endure it; but it can hardly be accidental, when Google offers its own rival product.

This is the kind of anti-competitive behaviour that requires regulatory action.  Unscrupulous corporations will happily inconvenience their customers for even the possibility of locking them in.

Once Google had a motto, “Don’t be evil”.  How long ago that seems.

Use DuckDuckGo instead of Google search?

Marcel at Monday Evening today has written possibly one of the most important posts that I have read for some time.

Google grew and profited because it was useful. It made finding stuff on the web easier, it made email easier, and it made a good rss feed reader. Then Google became a threat to privacy, or people like me who should have known finally saw the threat they had always been. So using Google became a tradeoff, but I was usually willing to accept it because Google made things easier.

Now Google is becoming an obstacle to overcome. Google Reader has got to be too much trouble to use, so I’m back to open-all-in-tabs. Gmail keeps moving stuff around (recently the log-out button), and they’re always pestering me about something: give them my phone number; read their privacy policy; sign up for Google+. It was creepy when they started asking me if I wanted to cc random people, but I put up with it. Interposing these nag screens between me and my email is going to be the last straw that sends me back to Thunderbird.

Their search results page is increasingly crufty, and I have to watch that they aren’t “customizing” the results just for me. I use DuckDuckGo whenever I can, then Bing, and then Google search if I must. …

I was not even aware of DuckDuckGo, but I tried it out this evening and the results were no worse than Google’s, and probably a bit better.  And at least they aren’t fiddling with the results to show me what some wretched algorithm imagines I wanted to see last time I searched, as Google is.

The privacy concerns are real, and I worry about them more.

And yes, Google is getting very careless. 

I don’t like the new Google Mail interface, so I am using the old one, and putting up with the nagging.  I don’t like the new Google Groups interface — the first version, indeed, was buggy and didn’t even allow you to search! — and have stuck with the old one and, of course, the nagging.  I don’t really like Google Reader’s interface, although I can live with it.

I don’t like the way that I can’t even find some things any more in the main search engine.  I don’t like the way that they broke the Google groups search, and barely bother to fix it.  It’s often broken, and slothfully repaired.  I hate the Google Books searches, which are so bad that it is often better to find books through Archive.org.

You know, Marcel has a point. 

I’m not anti-Google.  I remember loathing directed at IBM, when it was dominant.  When IBM’s star waned, and that of Microsoft rose, somehow Big Blue became cuddly, while Micro$oft became the Great Satan.  Now it’s Google’s turn.  Such opposition is not meaningful.

But Google are getting lazy and sloppy.  And … now they don’t subscribe to their old motto, “Don’t be evil” … how far can we trust them with all our data?

Google or Bing? A surprising answer

From time to time I do the unthinkable.  Yes, I go into Google and search for “roger pearse”.

I’ve done this perhaps once or twice a year for many years, and I did it this evening.  I must say that I was rather surprised by what I found.

Because the content in Google was rubbish.  Yes, it brought back a handful of  things that I have done.  But it only gave 20 pages of hits — from someone who has put something online every day for the last 14 years — and most of these were of a very poor quality.  There was garbage from identity-fishing sites (which are useful as a guide to stuff we need to hide, but not otherwise), and stuff like that.  But there was very little that gave any idea of who am I or what I do.

Now of course I could just say, and truthfully, “Well, I’m not that important”.  But because I have done this before, I know that my unimportance isn’t the issue here.  The Google search results simply aren’t as good as they used to be.

As an experiment, I tried the same search on Bing.  And … instantly I got better results.  Of course many were occasional comments that I had added to blogs here or there, but in general the quality was far better.  And it remained better all the way to page 21 of results, at which point I stopped.

I’ve commented before on the poor quality of Google Books search.  It’s actually impossible to find volume N of the Journal of XYZ in there, even if it is in there.  But this evening’s experience suggests that Google’s main search engine itself is no longer much good.

In which case, isn’t it time we all moved over to Bing?