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Two More Google Software Dogs Go To Heaven 122

Posted by timothy
from the google-heaven-has-awesome-cafeteria dept.
theodp writes "Two more software products will be going to Google Software Heaven shortly. On Friday, Google issued a death certificate for Google Health (date of death = Jan. 1, 2012), and added that the lights will go out on Google PowerMeter on Sep. 16, 2011. 'We've observed that Google Health is not having the broad impact that we hoped it would,' said Google. 'There has been adoption among certain groups of users like tech-savvy patients and their caregivers, and more recently fitness and wellness enthusiasts. But we haven't found a way to translate that limited usage into widespread adoption in the daily health routines of millions of people.' Regarding PowerMeter, Google's 'Green Energy Czar' had this to say: 'We're pleased that PowerMeter has helped demonstrate the importance of this access and created something of a model. However, our efforts have not scaled as quickly as we would like, so we are retiring the service.' Google added that the White House will carry on the fight after being inspired by success stories like the Harker School (tuition: $36,435), which used grant money to acquire off-the-shelf sub-metering technology that revealed their energy bill could be reduced by not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am."
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Two More Google Software Dogs Go To Heaven

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  • by gatkinso (15975) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @12:37PM (#36569170)

    The fact that people need software to tell them this would save money is sad indeed.

    • by magarity (164372)

      The fact that people need software to tell them this would save money is sad indeed.

      Not just software but on top of +36K/yr tuition they needed additional grant money to figure it out.

    • There's a certain limit of diminishing returns where it'll take more energy to cool down after a period of letting it heat up than to just keep it cool.

      Maybe switching the AC to 80 instead of 'off' would have saved the most energy.It's not as cut and dried as "turn off the AC"

      • by Anonymous Coward
        The sun has already set by 9PM. It's not like a gym in Northern California would heat up all that much during the time the air is off.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        What you describe is false.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          You're right that the total energy required can't possibly be less from having the AC on all night. It is possible though, that it may be less expensive, depending on how the electricity is metered. It's probably not the case here, but power companies definitely do give price breaks during off hours to heavy industrial users. It makes sense for the power company because it is more efficient to run a power plant at a constant predictable output than to ramp it up and down over the day/night cycle.

          For (a conv

      • by tengwar (600847)
        No, there is no such point of diminishing returns. If you know a little calculus, you can prove this to yourself.
      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Let's get back to reality here. Both products failure had very little to do with health care or power conservation. It's called privacy invasiveness and trust. Google as a corporations and individuals within Google at vary levels within the corporate structure, developed a reputation for privacy invasiveness and using that for some pretty sick "targeted marketing" tactics driven by people with doctorates in psychology (using education meant for health as a tool of "for profit exploitation" regardless of ps

    • They didn't just use software - girls bought couple of thousands of dollars worth of smart meters [wikipedia.org] from their... umm... sponsors? Mentors?
      What do you call that when a company helps you earn a grant, which you then spend at the said company, earning further contracts to the company with a bonus of international promotion through UNICEF?

      http://issuu.com/theharkerschool/docs/harker_quarterly [issuu.com]

      âoeHarkerâ(TM)s going to continue to support the philosophy of green thinking, to create buildings that have a warm and open environment, and weâ(TM)ll continue to seek out the very best products to promote the sustainability of our planet in future construction projects.â
      â" Mike Bassoni

      In early December. Zhuâ(TM)s application emphasized incentivizing investment in sustainable energies such as solar, wind and geothermal power, and modernizing electricity grids worldwide. âoeItâ(TM)s important to get as much information about climate change policy out there as possible, as it has a major impact now and will have an even bigger one on future generations,â said Zhu.

      Priya Bhikha, Gr. 12, And a team of upper school students are preparing a segment for Harkerâ(TM)s 2010 fashion show, with clothes made out of recycled materials. Bhikha has put out a call to all three campuses to help supply her with plastic bags, soda can tabs, paper clips, coffee filters, cds, drinking straws and more to make her recycled fashions.

      Shreya Indukuri and Daniela Lapidous, both Gr. 10, Took it upon themselves to apply for a grant to improve Harkerâ(TM)s energy efficiency.
      The girls, with the help of Valence Energy, successfully earned a $5,500 environmental grant, allowing Valance to install smart meters, devices for monitoring energy use, at the lower school campus. They also hope to apply some of the grant money towards an organic garden and window-insulating film at the upper school, and plans are underway to install smart meters at that campus, as well. This fall the pair attended the Governorsâ(TM) Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles as two of 25 climate youth leaders; they presented their findings to the assembly and enjoyed an audience with Gov. Schwarzenegger. Unicef picked up on the girlsâ(TM) story from there, and sent a camera crew from New York in October to interview them for a documentary on youth activism.

      âoeIf we donâ(TM)t do anything about [global warming] now, weâ(TM)ll really regret it in the future and history will label us as the generation who sat back and watched the world go up in flames. People will either be part of the problem or part of the solution, and it will take an extremely grueling period of effort by a lot of people to come up with even a fraction of a solution, but every contribution counts. We know the work is hard, and it does seem rather intimidating, but weâ(TM)re just taking it one baby step at a time,â said Lapidous.

      A gold, green building? Students ready to effect change? A strong history of environmental awareness that will continue long into the future? Check.

    • by zill (1690130)

      I go to the gym at 2am, you insensitive clod!

      Ok, ok, I lied.

      I don't even know what a gym is.

    • by index0 (1868500)

      I'm imagining the situation was this ...
      Someone set the AC to be on from 9am to 3pm (but really set it to 9pm to 3am) and next day tried setting it again, this time correctly but with both time periods set.

    • by hey! (33014) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @01:41PM (#36569686) Homepage Journal

      The fact that people need software to tell them this would save money is sad indeed.

      Not really, because I'd probably turn the AC back on at 5AM. I wouldn't necessarily know that the marginal savings of keeping it off between 3AM and 5AM are so small that I'd might as well make the gym comfortable for early morning users. Likewise, I might turn the gym AC off at 11PM, not realizing that the gym wouldn't warm up enough to affect the people working out after 10PM.

      So by turning the AC off between 9pm and 3am instead between 11pm and 5am, hypothetically I might be keeping the gym more comfortable for the users while using less energy, even though the AC runs the same number of hours.

    • by Doc Ruby (173196)

      Sad, but true.

      US Energy Group [use-group.com] has installed Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) in thousands of NYC buildings, including public schools (tuition: $0). In one school, indeed the entire large building (1000 students + staff) was being heated 5PM-8AM just to keep the gym heated (through its high ceilings, with people exercising) until the BEMS showed it to the Department of Education. Yet practically all of the NYC buildings' owners refuse to consider buying a BEMS unless the payback time is under 3 year

    • by gordo3000 (785698)

      not always quite so obvious. Like the rule to turn out the lights before you leave a room, it may actually waste power depending on how much energy it takes to turn on the lights if it is for a short time.

      but in the AC example, there are very high energy costs for cooling a heated room down rather than keeping an "already cool" room cool. So it may not have been completely obvious how many hours of continuous cooling is worth the same as cooling down the gym at the start of each day. I'm unfamiliar with

  • by Restil (31903) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @12:40PM (#36569202) Homepage

    A school of all places required a federal grant to find out that turning off the air conditioning saves money? Anyone who's ever paid an electric bill can figure that out pretty quickly all on their own.

    -Restil

    • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @02:50PM (#36570144) Homepage Journal

      Except they don't. Nearly all buildings are inefficient in ways that are fairly cheap and simple to fix, once the specific problem is identified. Very few of them are identified. The efficiency upgrade industry should be 100x larger, but most people are ignorant, inefficient, and even smug about it.

      • by gl4ss (559668)
        the power bill doesn't tell you as much as having by hour stats of the power use. however, this tells just how much google cares about power users: they don't, if a service doesn't fit everyone, picking up millions of users in exponential fashion, they'll axe it. it's like mom'n'pop web outfits are more reliable, which is ridiculous. never mind that such power and health stuff actually would need years of use to show if it was good and had lasting appeal.
    • Are you sure? Provide details please. At what point does the cost of running the AC intermittently to maintain a temperature outweigh the cost of running it continuously for the duration required to restore the normal running temperature? While you're at it tell us how to determine - if it is best to turn it off for a period - the ideal time window during which to do so each night. How is this affected by region and time of year? Does it differ for single/multi zone systems? What effect does the size o
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @12:49PM (#36569286)

    First I'd heard of it. Maybe I've been living under a Google Rock, but you'd think a company that specializes in advertising could Google Tell People About This Thing better.

    • Same here. No wonder it isn't having much impact.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is the first I've heard of either of these apps as well.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I just found about it this week when I had some labs done. Quest Diagnostics allows you to access your results online - but you need to sign up with an Online Health Something Something - Google Health being one of them.

      I was actually considering signing up...

    • While I've never heard about Google Health elsewhere, I definitively have seen it mentioned [slashdot.org] several [slashdot.org] times [slashdot.org] on [slashdot.org] Slashdot. [slashdot.org]

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Well, I have one of the most prolific posting histories on slashdot, and I've never heard of it either. Perhaps if a link had been displayed prominently (or fuck, just displayed) someplace on google.com then I would have visited it.

        Either whoever is actually in charge wanted this to fail, or they are just incompetent schmucks.

    • by jim_deane (63059)

      I'm in the same boat...or under the same rock. First I've heard of Google Health. I'm trying to decide whether I'll even go read about it, since they're killing it already.

      I like your idea of Google Tell People About Things Better. That's an app that they apparently really need to develop.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I actually had high hopes for Google Health being able to improve one little corner of an otherwise broken system. I should have known better though. Our healthcare system in this country is beyond repair at this point. We need to gut the entire system and rebuild it, but unfortunately politics and people's lingering fascination with private insurance companies will prevent it until we completely meltdown.

    Recent case in point - I went to the doctor a month ago for some antibiotics - total cost TO ME (ins

    • by westlake (615356)

      I went to the doctor a month ago for some antibiotics - total cost TO ME (insurance picked up more) = $758. I could have purchased a plane ticket to Costa Rica, a couple nights in San Jose, and the medication cheaper than my visit to the local clinic.

      This assumes you were fit to travel and the Costa Rican drugs would have been of the same quality.

    • There is NO way that a simple doctor visit cost over 700. There must have been tests involved, or you are the stupidest consumer in the world to pay that much for a routine doctor visit.
    • by belthize (990217)

      What kind of insurance and antibiotics results in a $758 co-pay. Amoxicillan costs like $70 for a 30 day 125Mg tablets.

    • I actually had high hopes for Google Health being able to improve one little corner of an otherwise broken system. I should have known better though. Our healthcare system in this country is beyond repair at this point. We need to gut the entire system and rebuild it, but unfortunately politics and people's lingering fascination with private insurance companies will prevent it until we completely meltdown.

      Recent case in point - I went to the doctor a month ago for some antibiotics - total cost TO ME (insurance picked up more) = $758. I could have purchased a plane ticket to Costa Rica, a couple nights in San Jose, and the medication cheaper than my visit to the local clinic.

      Either you may be willing to buy this bridge I have for sale in London, or that "doctor's visit" included specialist work such as a CT scan... or a scope. I'm not saying our system isn't in awful shape, but over $1500 for a doc and antibiotics? I don't have insurance and did this exact thing two months ago (turns out I had bronchitis). It cost me about $200 total. Including the price of the meds.

    • "I actually had high hopes for Google Health"

      Don't worry! Facebook has created a better one! You can also friend the prostitute you've got the STDs from.

    • "Our healthcare is f*cked. Yes, almost totally.

      Outside the US, one can get reasonable quality generic 500 mg amoxicillin caps for under $5 per box of 100, individually sealed. A visit with an english speaking doctor in an HMO might cost $6 - $10, cash.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        All that is true here too but more and more employers are dropping HMO and you can only get PPO with co-pays ranging from 50 bucks to 25 percent... that I've seen. Surely there are outliers even further from the center. The last full-time job I had came with one option for insurance, period, and it was a shitty PPO plan with a big co-pay and ZERO doctors accepting new patients in my county. That's right, a PPO where they have to be on your plan.

    • Google joins a long line of outsiders that had the arrogance to believe that they could step in and "fix healthcare." Google Health had some nice features, but their product has been overtaken by the marketplace. They also hitched their wagon to CCR, and that appears to be an evolutionary dead end.
  • by redemtionboy (890616) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @01:02PM (#36569406)
    So the things people cared the least about in Google's wide spectrum of services were health and energy? We're doomed.
  • And I don't see why I would want to send my personal medical information to Google. An application that never uploads the information would be much better.
    • by AmigaHeretic (991368) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @02:09PM (#36569870) Journal
      I actually used Google health along with members of my family.

      Main use is each member has any list of medications and and importantly "Allergies".

      I used to have a piece of paper in my wallet with this information, this was much more convenient to access from anywhere I needed. It was good for an emergency, any when in a medical office visit where you have to fill out some form, and honestly I can't remember all this crap at this age anymore.

      It really is handy. More convient then scratching things off a piece of paper and updating it. Now I don't know how many people are in the medical industry, but there are lots of sites that are HIPAA Compliant that you can pay for, for this type of service, but Google was free and I could care less if the world knows about my Google logins allergies. The trade off was fine.

      This however is just another straw in the "Cloud" coffin.


      I think something like Opera Unite is much more interesting (The implementation is far from perfect), but an easy users side "Server" with plug-in blocks that can have 100s of mini servers serving anything--- WhiteBoard server, Web server, Music server, Video Server, Medical server, PostIt Note server, etc....

      No, Opera Unite, does not go through Opera.com. It can use a DynDns style url for easy access through opera.com, but you can access it directly through your IP and port #. Again, just the concept I think is more interesting anyway then the cloud. Any easy server, with "plug any anything" server modules.
  • ... their energy bill could be reduced by not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am.

    And my head will stop hurting if I stop beating it against the wall.

  • Translation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rampant mac (561036) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @01:27PM (#36569586)

    "But we haven't found a way to translate that limited usage into widespread adoption in the daily health routines of millions of people.

    We're not rolling around in money from all you fitness freaks while we quietly try to sell your soul to advertisers.

  • Money... and money

  • google didn't help (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gargeug (1712454) on Saturday June 25, 2011 @01:49PM (#36569736)
    I was working on a metering device for residential solar arrays and attempted to contact google about the technical aspects to link our product easily with google's powermeter, as it was just getting going. They never got back to me or showed any interest in getting some products to adopt the technology. Seems to me they lost it on their own...
  • It *thinks* like an engineer. As a result it makes a lot of amazing products but these products sometimes fail to address user concerns when Google judges those concerns to be unimportant. It also doesn't put much effort into explaining the benefits of its products. Engineers generally treat marketing (or any other non-engineering discipline) with contempt, even when they understand it can be more than crafting deceptive advertising. Gogle does remarkably little traditional marketing for a company its size

    • by Doc Ruby (173196)

      How about describing how "thinking like an engineer" specifically doomed Google Health and Power Meter? Those are the subject of this story. It's hard to even think about the examples you gave within the context of the facts we're actually talking about.

      • How about describing how "thinking like an engineer" specifically doomed Google Health and Power Meter? Those are the subject of this story. It's hard to even think about the examples you gave within the context of the facts we're actually talking about.

        Because at least with Power Meter, there was very little ability to communicate with anyone about how to use it, how to fix it, how to expand it, how to benefit from it. Just sat in it's corner like a nice little piece of software. Kinda like an engineer hacking at something, getting it to work more or less then wandering off on another project. Unpolished. Unknown.

        That's great if you're the engineer trying to find a solution to a particular problem and then move on. If you are marketing a 'service' t

      • by hey! (33014)

        Simple. As indispensable as engineering know-how is, it doesn't include formal training in two critical tasks that weren't done in the case of Health, Power Meter, and all the other examples I mentioned.

        (1) Developing a model of market needs that can be used to rationally guide product development. Granted, marketing guys aren't very good at this either, but at least they know that it's part of the job. Engineers probably could get good at this if they understood it as part of the design process, since anal

      • by tftp (111690)

        How about describing how "thinking like an engineer" specifically doomed Google Health and Power Meter?

        As I recall, the Power Meter was marketed only to power companies, not to individuals. Google's Web page said "Talk to your power company about this product" - a stupid advice that could be made only by someone who never had an experience of calling a utility company.

        Some software, like Brultech's mess, have interfaces to Google Power Meter, but you need to dig deep to figure it out, and the configura

    • This is typical of the worst of engineering thinking. Once an engineer decides something is irrelevant, he won't change his mind unless you show him incontrovertible hard data. That's hard to get in the usability field.

      Wow, you've just described - in spades - most of my experiences when filing (or adding to) bugs against Google Chrome. The typical Google response has been simply "we're not going to do that, closing the ticket". No explanations, no acknowledgement even of the reasoning offered by the submitter (e.g. they don't say "we don't think that's the right approach"). It's why I ended up sticking with Firefox, despite how maddening Mozilla can be at times.

      • by hey! (33014)

        Which is not to say that a human being an engineer isn't capable of giving great customer service, or leading the way on issues of usability and practicality.

        In defense of engineers, non-engineers seem to have no idea how much more it costs to *change* a requirement than to state it up front. Furthermore non-engineers seem unable to grasp the principle that some things have to wait for others; that the change that was out of the question last quarter might be easy to do this quarter. They often don't belie

        • by tftp (111690)

          So as an engineer, you develop what I call the "Dr. No" persona

          It is natural for an engineer to reflexively reject all complaints and bug reports about "his" product. Steve Jobs famously said "you are holding it wrong."

          And that is exactly why engineers shouldn't be even allowed to decide the fate of entered bugs. This should be done by a person who sees the problem from the customer's point of view and has not too much personal attachment to the current implementation.

          For example, you design an IMAP

  • If I'd even heard of this product i would have tried it, Google.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Give an advertising company your health records? What could possibly go wrong?

    Hey Google, you could create nano-molecular adverts that could be embedded in everybody and everything. Think of the advertising revenue.

  • I must say that I am disappointed. We have the TED 5000 at home, which lets me monitor electricity usage in realtime - the Google PowerMeter is an addon to that product which let me view the information from the web, which in a sense was more of a gimmick than anything else. I suppose in the long run it won't matter all *that* much to me.

    Yeah, it is easy to tell someone to turn off the AC (but those who say this probably aren't married). But optimizing things so that AC is only used when people are home

  • I'm a registered nurse by day. I've seen my employer and other hospitals adopt electronic methods for charting, care planning, and most recently medication reconciliation. These are still new grounds that is littered with startups. Our new med rec system flaunts a feature allowing us to pull a patients current prescriptions and allergies from only a handful of major pharmacies. It's an absolute mess as the information providers often contradict each other. There is no common standard or sandbox and it has g
  • If such a thing were to exist then there might very well be software hell. Were I a more religious person, I might add that the heaven/hell admission ratio for software would be strikingly similar to that of people... and that's being very generous to people.
  • I get the feeling that one cannot trust Google and their services. They keep cutting them off after a while. Granted these were not the most used services, but still there has been quite a few services that has been cancelled over the year. Some services, such as Wave, didn't really get the chance to work. I think developers will be less likely to jump on board and start using new services/API:s when there is a chance that it will be cancelled within a short while :-(
  • Me too, I am another "hardcore" google services user and I had NEVER EVER heard of anything like health, less even power meter.

    Maybe that has something to do with why so few people were using it? It does not sound like the type of service that appeals to everyone, just to a few. If those few don't know of its existance, then very, very, very, very few people are going to use it. Its amazing that the blogpost does not mention how they should have done a better job at showing users that those services even ex

    • by jroysdon (201893)

      The biggest problem is you really needed to have Power Company buy-in. The real way to get it moving was to have the Power Company send the info to Google (after the customer opted in). There are many problems with this. First this requires the Power Company to have Smart Meters, second to have a way to export this data to Google, and third, there are all sorts of laws and legal concerns the Power Company has to deal with regarding this. What do they gain? Little, and as we see with Google here, even i

  • by PPH (736903)

    My mom said that the dog went to live on a farm.

  • This is the first I've heard f it. Could it be that it hasn't had the broad impact they hoped it would because people don't know about it?

"Now this is a totally brain damaged algorithm. Gag me with a smurfette." -- P. Buhr, Computer Science 354

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