Sunday, October 21, 2007

More fun with Google shovel-ware

I use (Google) Blogger for my blogging service provider and Microsoft Windows Live Writer for creating/editing blog posts. I'm happy with both, in part because both work well for my needs and are free.

When I attempted to post my previous post, I saw


In case the image format gets munged on your client, the text above: "In order to upload images to Blogger blogs, you must go to the Picasa Web Albums homepage, sign in as [my Google/Gmail id clipped; I receive enough spam these days -- for fun, I'm waiting to see if all the undeleted spam I've accumulated will someday exceed my Gmail space allocation...], and agree to the Terms and Conditions. Would you like to go to the Picasa Web Albums homepage now?"

Right -- I'd forgotten that, in the past, I've had to jump through some hoops (FTP to yet another personal site, copy/paste URLs in Windows Live Writer...) to include images in Blogger posts, when I'm not simply referring to images posted elsewhere on the web. Hey, why not check it out?...

Next up:


Well, that's a bit more than I bargained for, but it'd be pretty handy to be able to upload images in Blogger posts, so I'll uncheck a bunch of the options (I suppose they might have auto-detected that Google is already my default search engine in IE, BTW...) to avoid desktop clutter, and be on my way. I'll carefully read the 4,221-word (~13-page, copied/pasted into Word) "Google Terms of Service" agreement, which for some unknown reason I had to click through twice, and presto! Now I can easily upload images, using Microsoft Windows Live Writer, to my Google/Blogger blog.

Except, oops... when I was creating this post, and went back to IE to grab the URL for my previous post, being in a hypertext kind of mood this morning, I saw


So... now I have a handy new capability that apparently also crashes IE from time to time. Or maybe it was Skype -- how'd that "Send to Skype" button get into the IE crash dialog? Or maybe it was simply an IE bug. (Yeah, it's pretty clearly a Skype issue; when I installed Skype, it added a phone number entity-extraction plug-in to IE that changes the appearance of web pages in IE, and offers the option to call the numbers [for those who remember Microsoft "HailStorm," that Skype trick is one of the things Walt Mossberg and Dave Winer blew fuses over, when IE6 was introduced, with the ensuing debate ultimately leading Microsoft to remove smart tag support from IE; interesting that I haven't seen similar objections to the Skype approach, which was enabled by default when I installed Skype] ... So why did I see this crash for the first time after installing the Picasa stuff?...)

The more things change... Except, in the post-9os, it appears the players have changed: in the last half-hour or so, it was Google, rather than Microsoft, that attempted to:

1. Install Google Toolbar, thus Google-izing my IE user experience

2. Install Google Desktop, thus Google-izing my Windows XP user experience

3. Install Google Picasa -- client and web services -- which will now, by default, capture every image on my PC, and apparently post some on the web as well (maybe in my Google Blogger account space; I guess I should have read that 4,221-word EULA a bit more carefully). Do you suppose just maybe Microsoft would get into a bit of trouble if it exclusively offered one of its own web services in conjunction with its client software? Didn't I read something about Google taking action against Microsoft for exactly that sort of trick, with IE7?...

4. Switch my default IE search provider to Google, as part of the Picasa install (by default)

5. Destabilize IE -- either directly or indirectly (I'm not saying this part was deliberate, and the culprit could have been Google, Microsoft, or Skype...)

And yes, it was Microsoft (the Windows Live Writer team, in this case) that tried to make it more convenient for me to use images with Google's blogging service, thus providing Google with an opportunity to perform steps 3 - 5 above.

Strange days indeed.

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