Happy birthday to the little Google that could

September 11, 2008
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(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)

I know for some readers it’s probably difficult to imagine a time when Google didn’t exist but that time was just 10 years ago.

Google celebrated its 10th birthday on Sunday and in those 10 years founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin must be pretty happy with the progress of their little company, which started out with four computers and $US100,000 ($NZ150,920) from an optimistic investor.

Fast forward 10 years and that little company now has nearly 20,000 employees and a market value of a whopping $US150 billion.

Now that’s progress.

Way back in the mists of time, when a three-and-a-half-inch floppy wasn’t something you wanted to brag about and a mousepad was where the hip mice lived, web search engines tended to be a lot more flashy, and a lot less user-friendly, than they are today.

Then, in 1998, along came Google, with its clean design, simple colour scheme and ability to blow the competition out of the water when it came to relevant results. It wasn’t long before it was the first port of call for most web-surfers with a question.

Now, the Google guys have their fingers in lots on online pies: e-mail, web browsers, documents, news, images, books and more.

And while we’re on the subject of Google’s many projects, it’s worth mentioning that there’s been some debate online during the past week about the new web browser: Google Chrome.

Yes, there are a few glitches and bugs, and yes, there will be ongoing security patches.

That’s what happens with any new software. Especially when it’s still in beta, which means it’s not the final version.

A bloke by the name of Matthias Gaertner, from the impressively titled Federal Office for Information Security in Germany, has warned that users should approach Chrome with caution.

“People should be aware that this is a beta version and that we don’t yet know much about its security,” he says.

Well, duh. It’s a beta and Google offers up that information right there on the download page.

A beta means it’s still in the testing process and you can expect a few bugs. If you’re not comfortable with that, then don’t download it.

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