Outstreched arm

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Google, it does nothing!

Hrmph. Everybody's favorite cool company, Google, launched a completely reimagined new version of their Google Desktop tool today. I wanted to like it. I wanted to use it. It doesn't look like either one will happen.

First, the concept itself. It reeks of adware-laden "desktop tools" of some years ago, and of Longhorn/Vista's sidebar: a big-ass thing on the right of your screen divided into sections such as email, news, photos, weather, etc. Obvious, and obviously boring. It's not that this is a bad idea per se, but it's yawn-inducing: I type in my ZIP code and I get the weather; I tell it where to look for photos and it runs a slideshow of them. That's the first thing that shocked me - why can't this darn thing just get my location, email, and RSS info from my Google account? I have to re-enter it all. Bah.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, the installation was odd, insisting that I still had the old version (called Google Desktop Search - distinguishing these two products or retiring one alltogether really needs to be done) and having me reboot twice. Once I did set it up on my Windows machine at work, I learned that it was impossible to go through our proxy in order to actually get all this spanky information off the web. Gmail Notifier has no problem with this, so why should the Desktop? By the way, you can run the Notifier at the same time - weird. Offering four solutions to the same problem can be a good idea, but in Google's case it now feels like their dev groups aren't talking to each other. Shades of Redmond...

As with the Notifier, the interface of Google Desktop isn't the smoothest-animated I've ever seen. If you "pull out" a section to expand it, it stays there until your click it back into place, instead of going away after a while as you move on to whatever application you were playing with. Right-clicking doesn't bring up a context menu - to customize a section, you have to click a button that looks to me like it would minimize the bar. Usability, people!

And need I mention - no Mac version. Sure, we have the Dashboard, but that's a bit of a pain to use as well.

I smell a quick update to this thing... Or at least I hope that's what I smell.

// And another thing. The mixed OS/web interface has to go. Why are some obviously UI-related things managed through the browser, while some functionality options are in the Sidebar UI?

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