Google and I don't always get along too well. It likes to shut me off in the middle of doing things in Gmail, it added so many ads to YouTube videos that you can barely watch them uninterrupted anymore, and worst of all, it keeps setting my Image Safe Search back to Moderate, which just isn't getting me the results that I'm looking for. Like any other company that started off small and grown into a massive enough corporation that it has Microsoft shaking in its boots (Bing? Seriously? I'd say you can do better, but I know you can't), Google has overextended itself. Instead of being satisfied with being the best at one thing, they've managed to be mediocre in a whole slew of things.
There are a few things that they do still do quite well. Their search engine is still the best online, though saying that is like congratulating Chevy for making the best SUV--sure, it's the "best" at what it does, but the whole concept itself could use a major overhaul. Blogger, owned by Google of course, isn't too bad either. I mean, I'm here using it. What it lacks in customization it makes up for in simplicity and user-friendliness. And Google's Chrome browser is also now my go-to browser whenever I work on someone's PC. I still use Opera on my Mac whenever I can (even though Facebook has reached the Glitchiness Event Horizon, forcing me to open Safari whenever I want to do anything more than log half-way in), but despite my original reservations about it, Chrome has turned out pretty alright. Sure, it's mostly just on the laurels of Firefox having gone the way of Internet Explorer--bloated, unsecure and all-around out-dated--but at least someone is picking up the slack there.
But what made me get online tonight and talk all about Google is the site Curtis recently introduced me to, Google Analytics. If you're already familiar with Analytics or another site that does the work it does, you're probably not that amazed, but I haven't gotten over it in the past few weeks since I set it up. Basically, if you run any kind of website, what Analytics does is tracks it for you. It keeps tabs on your visitors: where they're from, how long they stayed on your site, where they looked on it, even what browser and operating system they are running. Pretty freakin' cool. I mean, if you don't have a website, then there's really nothing there for you, but if you do, it's awesome just to browse through. You can even pull up a skin of your website and see where on it people are clicking. How wild is that?
A lot of the things they provide, like what build of Flash your visitors are using, are for more useful for a big company who, say, has a Flash-based website and wants to know just how many of its visitors can actually get all the way through their site. For me, it's just fun. I mostly just like to look at how many hits I'm getting and where those people are from. Many are probably just here accidentally for searching things like book titles that I've reviewed (really, they are, because Analytics tracks how and why they came to the site in the first place), which explains my occasional readership in places like Risskov, Denmark and Khartoum, Sudan. But there are repeated views from a few cities, around the United States mostly, where I don't even know anyone, which I assume means that people there are actually purposely reading my blog. Whoa!
So my question is this: who are you? I mean, I'm totally pumped that you're here, reading all about whatever the hell I give a shit about, but I want to know more about you! When I saw i had nine views from Syracuse, New York, my mind reeled, hoping that somehow, some way, George Saunders had become a fan of my blog before I remembered that Miller just moved up there for grad school. No offense, man--that would have been cool. But who are the rest of you? From Charlottesville, Virginia and Milton, Pennsylvania? And any of the people who are visiting from the Twin Cities out there in Minnesota, or my apparent West Coast friends in Sunnyvale, Claremont and Santa Monica? I made my comments section available for everyone, so say hi! I would love to talk to you! I think that would be pretty much the coolest thing ever, so don't be scared. I'm really not as angry as I seem. Usually. I just wanna be your friend.