Search-engine giant Google is ten years old, and is celebrating in the best possible way – by building a birthday website.
Visit Google’s 10th Birthday site and you will be treated to a bunch of web goodies.
The best of them is a complete timeline, showing you the evolution of the Google home page and a detailed history of the site from student research project to global mega corporation.
You can find out what founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page thought of each other when they first met, and see the garage they rented as their first office space in 1998. You can even read its first review, by leading search expert Danny Sullivan: “If you pay a visit, don’t be frightened by the interface. One thing Google needs is a good facelift.”
And there’s another treat for web veterans. For one month, Google has dug out an old copy of its web index dating from 2001. Go to google.com/search2001 and you can search as if you’ve travelled back in time. It’s hilarious and eye-opening. Try searching for “myspace” or “ipod” or “youtube” – the results are very different from the ones you get today.
Many of the 1,326,920,000 pages you’ll see in the old search results will have disappeared or moved over the years. But some have been preserved inside the Internet Archive (www.archive.org), also known as the Wayback Machine.
The government has launched the UK Council For Child Internet Safety, a watchdog to monitor the web and make sure that children are safe while using it.
No doubt this was all done with good intentions, but any watchdog is going to be pretty powerless given the global nature of the net.
It can call for offensive websites to be banned, but unless they are entirely hosted and managed in the UK, it won’t be able to enforce that.
The best protection for kids online is their parents. Surf with your youngsters, teach them about the dangers of the net just as you teach them about the dangers of the real world.
Sony’s new Home Share device looks like an enormous aspirin tablet.
Inside it has two 500GB hard disks, designed to work in tandem so that if one fails, all your data will still be safe on the other. It has a slot for memory cards and sticks from cameras and the like. The idea is that it becomes the central hub for media storage in your home - you stick all your photos, music and video on it, then download them or stream them as required to the computers on your network. Don’t expect much change from £400.
If you’re a BT broadband subscriber, you might have been sent a letter about a new service called Webwise. It claims to be a helpful fraud prevention service, but it does something else too: it tracks your web-browsing habits and displays extra adverts based on what it thinks you’re interested in.
The technology behind it is called Phorm (www.phorm.com) and it has been causing a bit of a rumpus in civil rights circles. Do you want your ISP sending you more ads? No, neither do I.
* Giles Turnbull has a website at www.gilest.org