Big Brother

I use Google to search for everything now online; it’s my preferred search engine of choice and usually gets me the information I’m looking for straight away. With most browsers including the search box in the page, it is so simple to type in a couple of key words and within seconds you have a page of matches. In Safari you don’t even have a search box, it’s included within the URL entry box making it even easier.

It’s never really occurred to me to worry about how Google gets it so right and knows what sort of things I’m likely to wants to see, but usually it does and it is rare that I have to venture past the first ten searches made. But of course they get it right due to tracking the types of pages you visit. Whilst this is very helpful when trying to find information, it does get a bit more sinister when it comes to advertising.

[As an aside, someone at work asked me to do some speed tests on my Broadband at different times of the day and send them the results. They suggested using SpeedTest, a well known broadband checking site and so for the past week I’ve been using it at various times of the day, highlighting how shoddy my broadband connection is!]

Anyhow back to the main story…

Over recent weeks I had noticed an increasing number of web page adverts that seem to match the sort of things I’ve been looking at. For example, Matt recently has been thinking about buying a car and so I starting searching around for the make and model he was after. There was a couple of sites that looked like they were going to be fruitful so I kept returning to check on stock and prices, one in particular, Robinson Motor Group seemed to do have cars in his price range.

big_brotherIn the end he found one at a local garage and purchased it on Saturday (that’s a blog for another day as that wasn’t without a couple of hitches) and so the internet car hunt was over.

So imagine my surprise when I was running the speed test this morning when I just happened to glance at the advertising plastered all over the page!

Every single add was from the Robinson Motor Group, with small pictures of the similar sorts of cars to the ones I had been searching last week. How about that for direct, targeted sales! I guess if I’d clicked them the Google would get some sort of commission for directing me to the motor site.

I know Amazon are doing similar targeted advertising; I recently searched for a new camcorder to use at Abby’s wedding next week (another blog to write) and since then I keep getting e-mails detailing camcorders I might be interested in.

And so it does make you think that if companies can track and present suggested purchases based on searches you make online, what are other keeping records of? I have never worried about accepting cookies as I have never regarded my internet browsing as anything anyone else would be interested in,, but now I’m not so sure!

 

Being Graham Wright…5th year anniversary

189I’ve not checked my Google status since this time last year (it’s not something I do every week) and so I thought I’d do a quick update. When I stuck my name in I struggled to find it in the top 20 (the highest last year was 11th place) and in fact I didn’t find any reference to my web presence until page 18 of the search results (189th). Very disappointing.

There has been movement at the top too with last years no 28 now in the top position (he’s the Director of Intelligence Systems and Cyber Security NGC Ltd) with the BBC Derby radio presenter relegated to 5th place.  A new entry into the top 10 is Graham Wright, photographer at 7th place. I clicked on his site and was very impressed by his wildlife photos and am jealous of him web address which is www.grahamwright.co.uk.

More pleasing was when I googled my name with my middle name initial (Graham K Wright), where I got the top spot. In fact I got the top 6 hits and it’s all due to the Interactive Space Book I put together for the iPad last year. The hits take you to iTunes where you can download my book, as well as the California and Nevada Travel Journal. I recently checked the download count for the space book and it’s now at +30,000, which is not bad for 11 months.

I am considering writing another book but at present am struggling to think of a subject that I could research which would be received as well as the interactive book.

Maybe I should write about being Graham Wright…well maybe not!

Being Graham Wright update on the update

In 2009, in the original post about googling my name, I wasn’t able to see any reference to me personally below the top 200 searches, so I mainly discussed the other Graham Wright’s around at the time.

Things improved in 2010 when I ran an updated post for the February blogathon where I was amazed to report that my web presence had significantly improved to a point where out of 1.8 Million references to my name , I came in at the 15th in the search engine, courtesy of my Twitter account. And my blog was at 233.

And so to this year, still scratching around for blog-fillers,  I tentatively entered my name in the search bar and was shocked, no that’s a bit too a bit strong word, disappointed, more like, to find that the highest ranking I could find me residing was at number 44. What is ironic though is that it is last years blog ‘Being Graham Wright Update’ that is the one that gets me to that position. My Twitter position has also dropped down to number 49. Still the number of references to Graham Wright has significantly increased to over 2.75 million, so I shouldn’t really be disappointed by where I sit.

And the Graham Wright that gets the top spot hasn’t changed, it’s still Graham Wright, the Leicester Sound radio presenter. Well done Graham!

How did we ever manage without it?

I am talking about the Google of course!

Not that many years ago I recall as an early adopter of the web how frustrated I used to get when trying to find out a piece of information or reference to something. Mostly the information was just not online and in the end you had to visit a library or buy a manual to get what you were looking for. But how things have now changed with Google and the vast amount of information held in the cloud.

One thing I particularly felt frustrated by was the lack of information around fixing cars; the advice was limited to basic faults and only by trawling through specialised forum groups could you find out anything of use.

But not now!

On Friday, I got a text from Matt saying that his windscreen washers had packed up. Not a problem, I texted back, I’ll take a look at the weekend, it’s probably just a fuse.

And so yesterday evening I had a quick look in the dark.

I consulted his owners manual and located the section showing the fuse box. I checked the fuse and it was fine. Bugger I thought, this may not be as straight forward as I first thought. As it was dark I decided to take another look in the morning.

So today I took another look, this time removing the washer pump from the bottle and checking for power to the pump. As the fuse appeared OK, I now suspected the pump may have been burnt out after the recent frozen spell. Unfortunately the pump looked fine and when checking for voltage on the connect, my meter confirmed no power was reaching the unit. Damn, I thought it must be the stick switch on the steering column. OK looks like it’s going to be a garage job as I don’t fancy taking the steering column housing apart (I’ve done that before and normally they’re a pig of a job to get back together).

But I thought I’d just do a quick search online to see whether there are any instructions on how to change the switch. So back in the warm I did a quick Google search for ‘washer switch corsa 02’ and sure enough there were 54, 000 results. After a couple of not so helpful websites, I managed to find a Vauxhall forum with the exact same issue described in detail, with the fix listed at the bottom of the post.

The symptoms Matt’s car was experiencing were still pointing to the fuse, which I had already checked, but a further search on ‘corsa fuse box location’ explained that there was an auxiliary  fuse box on the main fuse panel that housed the screen washer fuse. So straight back outside and sure enough I found the panel which contained, as originally diagnosed, a blown fuse. I managed to find a spare and as if by magic the washers started working again.

And so the internet came to my rescue again, saving me considerable costs for the sake of a little online searching.

How did we ever manage without it?