Google is one of the greatest inventions ever made by Man, (or, for the PC — by Woman, Undecided, or Non-binary 🤓). It’s right up there with pantyhose, air conditioning, mood rings, and fork-split English muffins. All things we can’t live without.
Before I heap praise on Google, let me note the negative weeds among the field of daisies. (If you don’t follow, it’s one reason I go light on metaphors.)
While Google made research simple even for fourth-graders, it unemployed many thousands of people.
These included what we newspaper people called “librarians” who worked in the “library” of most large (and some small) newspapers. The library was referred to as the “morgue,” because what used to be called the newspaper “game” was filled with colorful references courtesy of the colorful characters who worked in it. Or maybe I should say played in it.
The librarians in the Philadelphia Daily News morgue were unusually dedicated people. (The same people also served the Inquirer, but they liked the News staff better. Why? They would tell you we weren’t stuck up and when goodies in the form of food came our way, we invited them to our newsroom to pig out with us.)
Nowadays, if you need a fact checked, Google can provide it, but the librarians not only found the fact, but might have suggested a few other facts to expand your story, because these men and women were extremely well-informed. They made us better.
On the positive side, Google lays the facts of the world at my fingertips. I am not the world’s best Google researcher, but facts can be assembled in a few ticks of the time it used to take.
As a side note, going back to before Google became a verb, I hated the name Google, because it just sounds simultaneously infantile and vaguely sexual. As for sexual, you can get screwed, but I am getting ahead of myself.
Google was not happy with being merely a search engine, and squashing competitors like June bugs. Can we say “anti-trust,” kids?
It wanted more and spread its tentacles into email, with Gmail becoming the world standard, plus stuff like Google Drive, whatever that is, plus maps, calendars, photos, word processing, and more.
Two years ago, when I retired and lost the office account I had used for decades, I switched to Gmail, like everyone else.
So far, so good.
But then — I got a message from Google’s Gmail saying my storage was full, and I needed to buy more space.
I ignored it, because almost everything you get from companies is bullshit.
I could not have exceeded my storage, I thought, because I kill everything promptly.
They sent two more warnings, which, of course, I ignored.
Then they shut down my Gmail account. They Trumped me!
I felt gagged, unable to communicate my favorite way. I hate texting, don’t like the telephone that much, and you’d be surprised how few people can read semaphore. (Or even know what it is.)
I went to Google’s website for help. Everything was, pardon me, gobbly-de-gook.
Desperate, I was ready to pay for more storage.
One little problem: It is almost impossible to get Google on the phone. So I started Googling, heh, heh, to get some info.
A Business Insider magazine story published two years ago said Google did not want to be reached, but — for readers only — it provided a toll-free number.
Which didn’t work.
Ever resourceful, I found a telephone number for the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA. The number is 650-253-0000, a bonus for my readers.
The first time I dialed it, it gave me an endless menu and then cut me off. On a hunch, I redialed, hit 0 and got a recording. It said due to Covid they were understaffed — a lie — and the wait for assistance would be 90 minutes. Rather than wait, the robot suggested I go to the website. The indecipherable website.
I waited the 90 excruciating minutes. Eduardo answered.
I explained the situation. Eduardo said he could not help.
I needed my service restored. Now!
Eduardo said he could not help.
I said I would pay for extra storage.
Eduardo said he could not help me, and directed me to the useless website.
“If the website was any good, I wouldn’t have waited 90 minutes to speak to you,” I said.
“Let me speak to a tech person,” I said.
“There’s no one here who can help you,” he said.
“I don’t care who is where, get me tech.”
“I can’t do that,” Eduardo said.
“Let me speak to your supervisor.”
“I can’t do that. You have to go to the website for help.”
“I’m blind,” I lied. “How am I supposed to read the website?”
“I’m sorry,” said Eduardo as he hung up.
You ever had one of those moments when you would kill someone?
I was going on 18 hours without service.
I felt handcuffed, then thought of one of my neighbors, who has a science background. This is why STEM is important.
Long story, not-so-short, he showed me — with some difficulty — how to delete large files I didn’t know I had. It seems that if someone sends you a video, and you thank them, then kill it, it remains in your sent file.
My last issue, and I’ll keep this short, a friend suggested I advertise on Google to support my novel, Press Card. (On sale now, order at PressCardTheBook.com)
He said for $60 a month, a two-line advert for my book would pop up whenever someone searched using these terms: Philadelphia, newspapers, media, Stu Bykofsky.
So I found a business number for Google, dialed it and reached business rep Antonio in the Philippines, who would be delighted to help me organize an ad for Google’s minimum program of $300.
“$300?” I said, and he said yes.
And I said no, because I was sent to Google by a friend who was paying $60 a month.
“Let me check,” said Antonio. “Can I get back to you?”
I agreed and — you may not believe this — he emailed me the next day that, yup, Google would take my $60.
We spent an hour developing the ad and letting it fly.
I was told it may take as long as 24 hours for it to be added to the mix.
I checked about 36 hours later, typing in the key words.
No ad for my book.
I emailed Antonio, who told me I might not be able to see it on the device I had used to place it, because…. I might click on it too much, or something.
So Half-Pint searched on her device.
As they say in the Philippines, nada.
So I emailed Antonio and said, “Why don’t you find the ad, make a screen shot and email it to me?”
Antonio is now among the missing.
So there goes $60.
I feel like calling Google in Mountain View, but I know how that will turn out.
I’ve been Googled!
9/14 Update: Two of my friends report having seen the Google ad I can’t find. But I will not renew after a one-month trial.