Sunday, February 17, 2013

Google Giveth and Google Taketh Away

(but  not in that order)

I recently wanted to print something from my Android tablet to a printer. The process turned out to be more convoluted than I expected.  Android uses a service called Google Cloud Print for printing.  What this means is that in order to  send a file  from my tablet to my printer I first had to send the  file over  the internet to a Google server which then sent it back via email to my printer.  This despite the fact that my tablet and printer were less than two metres from each other and both connected to the same wifi network.

 Such a roundabout route offends the engineer in me. I guess it is just another part of the price we must pay for all these great services companies like Google give us.  The more of my data goes through Google's  servers the more they know about me for the purposes of advertising. Privacy advocates can freak out at this point but I have long since reconciled myself to that trade off.

I was while I was still pondering this trade-off of privacy for cool stuff that I came across a  service called Google takeout. Somewhat surprisingly Google's takeout service actually gives users some control back over their own data. It makes it easy to download your stuff to a private archive on your own pc. Picasa and YouTube are included  and Blogger has just recently been added. It is hardly a big concession on Google's part. They still get to keep their own copy of your stuff. It does make it slightly easier to move to a different provider I guess,  if only there was anyone else out there offering  anything remotely similar to Google's range of services. I also note that Gmail and Google  calendar are still conspicuously absent from takeout.

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