Reminder: Delete Your Google History by March 1

Don’t forget that Google’s new privacy policy goes into effect on March 1. Policy changes will affect you if you use Google search while logged into a Google user account.

Here are the instructions from the Electronic Frontier Foundation on how to clear you browsing history. If you use multiple Google accounts, you’ll want to delete browsing history for all of them. If you don’t take these steps, all of your browsing history will be combined with and shared across all the other Google services you use. If you’re not sure why this might be a concern, see this EFF post and this Slate article … or search on it!

You might also consider trying out an alternative default search engine. Many people (me included) are now using DuckDuckGo. This search engine does not collect user data and emphasizes privacy. It’s quite capable, although I do notice differences in terms of rankings and results compared to Google. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just different. 

If you’re using Chrome, it’s easy to change your default engine.  Look under ‘Preferences’ > ‘Manage Search Engines.’ It’s relatively easy with Firefox, too. You’ll find the option to manage search engines by choosing the dropdown arrow located in the browser’s built-in search box. With Safari, it’s a bit more complicated because the browser only offers Google, Bing, and Yahoo as default search engines. You can make DuckDuckGo your default, though, if you install the free Glims add-on. 

Google Buzz

I just set up Google Wave Google Buzz for one of my Gmail accounts. My initial impression is that this is a tool with a lot of potential (unlike that other GTool that was supposed to change email forever).

Tim O’Reilly posted a good overview and perspective on the newest Google buzz, detailing how it brings the ‘power of asymmetric following to email.’ If you’re wondering how it’s different from Google Wave (and why it’s better), O’Reilly says it’s because of the Gmail integration:

In some ways, Gmail Buzz brings many of the benefits of Google Wave to Gmail. Every Buzz item can be turned into a conversation (much as in Wave or Friendfeed.) People can comment on your Buzz, comment on your comments, or @ reply you. Sure, it lacks the hyper-cool wiki-style shared editing features (though those perhaps could be added in a future release), but it also lacks the critical flaw that made Wave into more of a “concept car” than a real product: I don’t have to adopt a new tool or build a new social network. It just adds rich new capabilities into the tool and network that I already use.

That’s exactly right. I tried to use Google Wave a couple of months ago with several of my friends, but we abandoned it after a few half-hearted sessions. The lack of Gmail integration was a primary factor. It also wasn’t very compelling, given that we already used other tools that did similar things. And that’s another reason that Buzz is better: it connects to other sites we already use, most notably Google Reader and Twitter.