Posted in Undependable Support

Ars Technica commenter lampoons Google’s undependable product support

A very astute observation:

The giant hulking dumpsters of cancelled Google products, many of which had dedicated user bases, would seem to indicate that not even Google really understands how Google makes these decisions. At this point, nobody with a functioning brain cell trusts any new Google product as part of a long-term project, product or ecosystem…

There’s even a website that tracks products that Google has killed off. It’s rather extensive.

While the odds that Google will pull the plug on its search engine, Gmail, Chrome browser, Android, YouTube, or Google Docs are slim, most of the company’s other offerings are fair game for elimination at any time. By steering clear of reliance on Google’s offerings, you can protect yourself and your data well into the future.

Posted in Undependable Support

Google outage takes down YouTube, Gmail, other Google offerings

It hasn’t been a very good weekend for Google.

YouTube, Snapchat, Gmail, Nest, Discord, and a number of other web services are suffering from outages in the US today. The root cause appears to be problems with Google’s Cloud service which powers apps other than just Google’s own web services. Google has issued a status update on its Cloud dashboard, noting that issues began at around 3:25PM ET / 12:25PM PT.

The issues appear to be mostly affecting those on the East Coast of the US, but some YouTube and Gmail users across Europe are also reporting that they’re unable to access the services. Google’s own G Suite Status dashboard shows problems with practically every single Google web service, and Down Detector lists YouTube outage reports in a number of countries worldwide.

The New York Times has more. Companies that use Google’s cloud, including Vimeo, Discord, and Snapchat, are also affected.

The cause of the trouble is “network congestion”, and Google is working on a fix.

Twitter has created a Moment pertaining to the outage.

Posted in Undependable Support

“Killed by Google” gets some love from the tech press

BGR is the latest to profile a site that serves as a reference for what Google has killed off over the years.

We’re still a few months away from the halfway mark of 2019, and already Google has sent some pretty high-profile products to an early grave — products that the company had high initial hopes for, like its Inbox email service and its failed Facebook killer Google+. But this, as we all know, is really par for the course when it comes to the search giant, which has tried so many experiments over the years with products, apps and services that didn’t quite work out as planned that it’s ended up building quite a crowded graveyard of failed ambitions.

“Killed by Google is a Free and Open Source list of dead Google products, services, and devices. It serves to be a tribute and memorial of beloved products and services killed by Google,” says its creator Cody Ogden. It is without question an extremely useful reference and we’ve added it to our blogroll, or link list, or whatever you want to call it.

Posted in Undependable Support

Analyst: Google Investors Are Expecting Too Much From Stadia

Slow down there, Monster of Mountain view backers. That’s the message from this SeekingAlpha contributor, who has a skeptical take on Google’s new foray into gaming:

It’s a near certainty that Stadia won’t win 100% of this game streaming business. Even if Stadia miraculously took 50% of this $28 billion opportunity, that means about $14 billion in additional sales for Alphabet.

Using analysts’ revenue estimates for 2020 as a starting point, and assuming a similar growth rate in 2021, suggest Alphabet revenue of about $225 billion by 2021. If Stadia generates $14 billion in sales at this point, that represents another 6% of additional year-over-year growth. There is little doubt there is a big opportunity in streaming gaming, but investors need to ignore the hyperbole in the headlines and temper their expectations.

Those are a lot of assumptions.

If people refuse to hand over money to Google for Stadia, Google will have to pull the plug on it before long because that is how the Monster of Mountain View rolls. That would be a fitting outcome.

Posted in Undependable Support

Google Fiber shutting down in Louisville

An awkward exit:

“We’re not living up to the high standards we set for ourselves, or the standards we’ve demonstrated in other Fiber cities,” the company writes today. “We would need to essentially rebuild our entire network in Louisville to provide the great service that Google Fiber is known for, and that’s just not the right business decision for us.”

It’s a rare admission of defeat for Google Fiber, though it’s no secret that the company isn’t exactly bullish on the prospect of the service anymore. Louisville was supposed to be somewhat of a comeback for Google Fiber, which like so many Google services is now under more pressure to generate a profit. Clearly, that didn’t work out. If this were still a major growth and focus area for Google, it would have done exactly what it isn’t doing in Louisville: rebuild the entire network.

Instead of a comeback, Google Fiber in Louisville was a flop.

Here’s a thought, Google (or as you’re now called, Alphabet): maybe instead of trying to conquer every product space in tech, just focus on a few things and do them well?

Posted in Undependable Support

Google shutting down Google Code

Woe to those who chose Google Code as the host of their open source projects. From the Monster’s mouth:

When we started the Google Code project hosting service in 2006, the world of project hosting was limited. We were worried about reliability and stagnation, so we took action by giving the open source community another option to choose from. Since then, we’ve seen a wide variety of better project hosting services such as GitHub and Bitbucket bloom. Many projects moved away from Google Code to those other systems. To meet developers where they are, we ourselves migrated nearly a thousand of our own open source projects from Google Code to GitHub.

As developers migrated away from Google Code, a growing share of the remaining projects were spam or abuse. Lately, the administrative load has consisted almost exclusively of abuse management. After profiling non-abusive activity on Google Code, it has become clear to us that the service simply isn’t needed anymore.

Beginning today, we have disabled new project creation on Google Code. We will be shutting down the service about 10 months from now on January 25th, 2016. Below, we provide links to migration tools designed to help you move your projects off of Google Code. We will also make ourselves available over the next three months to those projects that need help migrating from Google Code to other hosts.

TechCrunch’s Natasha Lomas notes:

In comments on Google’s blog post, some Google Code users express disappointment the company is not intending to continue hosting those projects that aren’t migrated — maybe because their maintainer has gone AWOL or passed away — in a read-only format, given that they will otherwise be entirely lost come final shutdown.

“Wouldn’t it be more responsible for Google to just host the projects that don’t move over indefinitely in a read only mode? I can’t imagine that it’s resource intensive and it’d instill more faith in Google products. It’s like watching GeoCities go away,” writes one.

“A complete copy of all projects should be handed over to so that we don’t lose history and important projects that are no longer maintained,” adds another.

Google’s plans in regard to Google Code demonstrate that Google doesn’t archive for the sake of history, it archives for profit. That’s why it will spend large sums of money maintaining vast quantities of user data in its data centers, but won’t keep open to the public read-only archives of a nearly ten year old project hosting service it has decided it’s no longer interested in.

Posted in Shoddy Security, Undependable Support

Google leaves users on older versions of Android insecure by ending support

Responsibility: it’s not Google’s policy.

Millions of Android users could be at risk as Google cuts back on security updates for older versions of its smartphone operating system.

The risk arises because Google has stopped producing security updates for parts of those older versions.

About 60% of all Android users, those on Android 4.3 or older, will be affected by the change.

The researchers who uncovered the policy change said it was “great news for criminals”.

How ironic: The company that made “do no evil” its motto is now increasingly a friend to evildoers as well as the National Security Agency.

Tod Beardsley and Joe Vennix from security firm Rapid7 and independent vulnerability finder Rafay Baloch contacted Google to let it know about the loophole. They expected to hear about the work Google was doing to patch the bug but instead were told that it was now only fixing bugs found in the two most recent versions of Android known as Kitkat (4.4) and Lollipop (5.0).

In a blogpost, Mr Beardsley said Google’s Android security team told him it would “welcome” a patch from the researchers if they produced one but would not be making one itself. It added that it would tell its Android partners about the bug even though no fix would be forthcoming.

Mr Beardsley said the response was so “bizarre” that he contacted Google for clarification and was told again that many components of Android in earlier versions of the OS would not be getting fixes.

Tod Beardsley is to be commended for exposing Google as an irresponsible software developer. It is truly appropriate that two of the news categories here on Leave Google Behind are Shoddy Security and Undependable Support. That’s exactly what you get when you buy a product running Google software, especially mass-produced Android smartphones. Google will gladly keep on tracking you even while they leave the holes in the operating system they made for your phone unpatched.

A word to the wise: Leave Google Behind. Stay far, far, far away from Android. Get a phone running BlackBerry, Windows Phone, or Firefox OS instead.

Posted in Poor Quality Assurance, Undependable Support

Google fan discovers that Google is not reliable

TechCrunch’s Jon Evans:

Dear Google: What’s wrong?

I ask because last weekend, while in San Francisco, I asked Google Maps for “hot chocolate mission” – and was promptly directed to an ARCO station in Fremont, 40 miles away. Similarly, last month I searched for “coffee” while in the Embarcadero Center, one of the denser coffee hotspots in America, and was sent to a Starbucks more than two miles away. And it hasn’t escaped my notice that you keep highlighting faraway places with Zagat listings over much closer places without.

Now, sure, if you’re thinking “hey, you’re just abusing your position as a highfalutin tech columnist to make anecdotal complaints here!” – well, you’re not entirely wrong. Perk of the position. What can I say? But Google Docs won’t save documents, the new Gmail interface still feels like a big step backwards, Gmail Offline keeps crashing on me, Google Hangouts hangs whenever we try to combine text chat and video…and for what it’s worth, it’s not just me who’s wondering what’s gone wrong:

Pop quiz: name a Google product that existed at this time last year that has improved in the last 12 months.—
Laurie Voss (@seldo) October 15, 2013

What’s wrong is that Google is a company focused on mining user data, not bettering people’s lives. Google is not a nonprofit or a charity. It’s not a force for good in the world. It’s a privacy-destroying, profit-making enterprise.

Evans ought to try out alternative search engines, email providers, and smartphone platforms. He might be surprised to discover there’s a wider world beyond the GoogleNet.

Posted in Undependable Support

Must-read piece on Google’s undependable support

James Fallows:

Here’s the problem: Google now has a clear enough track record of trying out, and then canceling, “interesting” new software that I have no idea how long Keep will be around. When Google launched its Google Health service five years ago, it had an allure like Keep’s: here was the one place you could store your prescription info, test results, immunization records, and so on and know that you could get at them as time went on. That’s how I used it — until Google cancelled this “experiment” last year. Same with Google Reader, and all the other products in the Google Graveyard that Slate produced last week.

Fallows naively says he still “trusts” Google for search, because search and advertising is Google’s bread and butter. He would be wise to switch to other search engines.

Blekko is a good spam-free alternative, Twitter and Topsy are good real-time alternatives, and Bing is an acceptable all-around alternative. DuckDuckGo is good too – it makes use of Google, Bing, and Blekko results while protecting the privacy of searchers.

Posted in Poor Quality Assurance, Undependable Support

Google suffers another major outage

Gmail and and many other Google offerings are down, and that’s got people upset:

Google’s Gmail experienced an outage this morning, with some users reporting that the problem extended to the search giant’s Chrome browser as well.

“We’re investigating reports of an issue with Google Mail. We will provide more information shortly,” Google wrote in a 12:30 p.m. Eastern note on its Google Apps status dashboard.

Google categorized the problem as a “service disruption” rather than a “service outage.”

Gmail started experiencing problems around noon Eastern. At PCMag, Gmail failed to load, and then produced a 502 error page. “The server encountered a temporary error and could not complete your request,” the error noted. “Please try again in 30 seconds. That’s all we know.”

This is a disruption *and* an outage. Google can try to sugercoat the downtime all it wants; it’s still downtime.

People who don’t know better and use Google’s Chrome browser have also reported a spike in browser crashes this morning. That actually doesn’t seem strange, because Chrome is tied to Google’s centralized offerings. If Google servers go down and can’t synchronize or communicate with the Chrome client (Chrome could be more accurately called a client than a browser, considering how Google’s aim has been to turn it into a gateway to its offerings) that could cause Chrome to malfunction or quit working.

This outage is a good reminder that there are better alternatives out there. Cut ties with the Monster of Mountain View and switch away if you care about your privacy and the security of your data.