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Google Opens U.K. Cybercafe and Testing Lab 82

sebFlyte writes "Google has launched a new venture in England to go with its London offices. They've set up a free Web cafe style affair at London's Heathrow airport to help travelers claw back some of the many hours they spend aimlessly wandering round airport lounges. They're not doing it entirely selflessly though: they admit the main reason they're doing it is to get as wide and as large a cross section of people through the centre as they can so that they can then watch them interact with Google's Web applications. ZDNet has photos, too."
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Google Opens U.K. Cybercafe and Testing Lab

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  • Moon Base (Score:3, Funny)

    by ZiakII ( 829432 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @02:55AM (#14117474)
    I'm still waiting for a spot to open on there moon base......any second now they'll call me and tell me I'm hired..
  • by Pichu0102 ( 916292 ) <> on Saturday November 26, 2005 @02:56AM (#14117477) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps it's also to promote Firefox as well? I noticed that the browser used in the screenshots was Firefox. I wonder if Firefox is the only thing installed, or if Internet Explorer is also on there?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Not even Google can afford to support IE on a semi-public network.
    • But I also noticed there using XP. I wonder why google dosnt use a non-MS OS. I would think google would want to show they dont need MS at all.
      • by Pichu0102 ( 916292 ) <> on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:19AM (#14117544) Homepage Journal
        If they switch Operating Systems altogether, they'll probably lose a ton of users, seeing as most associate Windows with computers. If average users see Firefox, most likely they'll feel like it's unfamiliar and feel a bit edgy about it, but to use a different OS altogether? That in itself would put off a lot of people in one move.
        • If they have a bunch of computers setup for free use with Firefox up most people probably wont even be able to tell the difference. Ive had many windows-only people use KDE and they use it just fine, most dont even notice. Anyway im not saying they have to use Linux, but Mac would give the same message, Google dosnt need MS for anything.
          • If they don't need MS for anything, maybe they should stop writing so much MS-only software?
            • Ive been programming for a pretty long time. Personally I believe that if you write a program correctly it should be very easy to port. idsoftware writes there games and they run on Linux Mac and Windows with no problem, why is this? Because they plan on running on different OSs so they use APIs that work across most OSs(OpenGL, OpenAL, SDL ect). If google wrote Google Earth with QT as the GUI I believe we would have versions for Linux, Mac, and BSD already. Google just needs to plan better.
        • C'mon now. What they're doing is testing Google apps, not putting machines out there for general use. Most people are familiar with the Google interface. Type something in, press the button, presto! Results! Browsers aren't all that different either. You really only absolutely need four interface widgets: back, forward, home, and the location bar. Simple! Also considering that there are only staff members manning the cafe, you would think their time would be better spent assisting the folks in the cafe, not
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Actually, my experience has been that if I sit someone in front of a Linux desktop running Firefox, they don't even think much about the difference, they just use it. People are focused on the web page itself, not the browser interface that's framing it. That's the beauty of the web: the platform is irrelevant.
        • I think you are overestimating the average person.

          The average person doesn't see IE or Windows, they see a computer with clickies. They see the webpage they typed in and they interact with that.

          You could replace it with a location bar on the bottom and no identification at all an they would get used to it pretty quick.

          They may not associate it with their home computer anymore, though.

          If one of the goals is to say that this setup works on your computer at home, then switching the operating system will proba
      • by Air-conditioned cowh ( 552882 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:32AM (#14117578)
        If encouraging people to use non MS operating systems was a priority for them then their desktop apps would at least be cross-platform.

        It clearly isn't for them because they aren't.
      • Google Earth, probably among other reasons.
    • I wonder if Firefox is the only thing installed, or if Internet Explorer is also on there?

      The machine in the shot is clearly running XP, so yes, Internet Explorer is also on there. As to what the default browser is, how easy they've made it to access IE and whose choice it was to be using FF in that shot (e.g. google for a staged photo, J Random Public for a "real life action" shot, etc), I have no idea.
  • by know1 ( 854868 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:00AM (#14117487)
    It's ideas like this that make people not mind when google wants a lot of information about you. All those people who will cry "If this was microsoft you would hate it" - microsoft collates it's data surrepticiously, every webpage you visit or email you write. offereing a free web cafe and saying "but we will watch you" in public no less, is a good thing. I can hardly see anyone looking up anything they wouldn't want anybody to know about anyway at a public terminal
    • You have a valid point, but this will give google much more valuable information about the way their services are used. For example it could determine that 75% of the people preffer personalised home and 98% of that are using page history as a sort of a bookmarking tool. So after that is noted google video will lose couple of servers which will be transfered for the sake of personalised home and page history.

      they are just profiling the usage of their systems, and of course gaining some image :)
      • oh yeah, of course. hey, advertising is their main revenue source. still pretty cool to put a free service where there are a lot of bored people though. I also doubt they will lose those cutting edge type services, they like their cutting edge stuff and have enough cash for now
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I flew out of Heathrow Terminal 1 to Brussels on Tuesday. While waiting, I wandered into the surprisingly large Googlespace -- rows of seats had simply been pushed together to make room for it rather than removed, so seating around this container-size rectangle is something of a mess.

      Googlespace is not a free Internet cafe. You are limited on the Samsung laptops to Google sites. This means that you can do google searches to your heart's content, but that you can't go to the results.

      As I'm already famili

  • by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) * on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:02AM (#14117495) Homepage
    I read this a while back and I still don't get it. Is this some area where you can basically surf whereever/whatever you want to do ... or are you restricted to only using Google Applications so they can see how you interact with them? The later makes more sense from a Google User Interface point of view ... but if I were a traveler, I just want a (fast/open/free) wireless connection to do what I want to do - I'm confused how observing that could be so useful to Google. And heck, they track me anyway with their cookies! ;-)
    • Ummm... dude... Google *is* the Internet. They don't need to restrict you to only them... they are everywhere... they are everything!
    • by hobbit ( 5915 )
      They track you already with their cookies if you use Google services. But this way, they can tell what proportion of your surfing that usage is. Plus loads of other stuff like how many pages of Google results you read before you try the same search on Yahoo!, whether you have a personalised Yahoo! homepage but not a Google one, etc.
  • free marketing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Deitheres ( 98368 ) <brutalentropy@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:17AM (#14117537)
    Not complaining about slashdot, per se, but did anyone else notice the marketing in those pics?

    Must be nice to be a company as big as google, you don't even have to pay to advertise any more. Just do something cool and people eat it up.

    9 hours a year... Yeesh.

    Makes me glad I don't fly.
    • Must be nice to be a company as big as google, you don't even have to pay to advertise any more. Just do something cool and people eat it up.

      you see, they did pay to set this thing up. and yes, they paid for it, in part, for marketing purposes.

      So just like every other company, they pay for marketing, and in much the same way as many other companies do.

    • Re:free marketing? (Score:3, Informative)

      by linuxci ( 3530 )
      > 9 hours a year... Yeesh.

      > Makes me glad I don't fly.

      The 9 hours a year waiting for travellers at Heathrow I could certainly believe. Problem is all BAA run airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Southampton, Edinburgh and probably others) are badly run.

      If you're travelling from London much better to fly from the smaller London City Airport, smaller means less queues and the checkin for each flight stays open upto 15 minutes before departure. If you travel airlines that let you check in online (KLM a
  • Google Employees (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jazzer_Techie ( 800432 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:32AM (#14117577)
    From TFA, 3rd Picture [] Caption
    The 10 Samsung laptops in the temporary installation will be manned from 0700 to 1900 by Google employees from across the organisation, with some flown in especially to help out.
    It would appear that Google has been flying in their more attractive employees. (Or maybe if I worked for Google I'd look like that too.)
  • by ethzer0 ( 603146 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:42AM (#14117605)
    The 10 Samsung laptops in the temporary installation will be manned from 0700 to 1900 by Google employees from across the organisation, with some flown in especially to help out.

    Take a look at this [] photo and all the sudden it makes sense...
  • google restaurants, google hotels, google drinks, google tv!
  • by kai.chan ( 795863 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:58AM (#14117640)
    To save Slashdot readers some time in the future in all Google related News Stories. Let me provide a universal Table of Contents to summarize the posts that will inevitably follow:

    Introduction of our Overlord:
    - How many Google News Stories will we see today?
    - "I am tired of hearing about Google!"
    - I, for one, welcome our Google (topic) overlords

    Chapter 1 Obligatory:
    - Imagine a Beowulf Cluster of (topic)
    - Does (topic) run Linux
    - Step1: (topic), Step2: ???, Step3: Profit

    Chapter 2 Conspiracy:
    - Google = New Microsoft??
    - Google = Skynet
    - Is Google only friendly on the outside?
    - Case Study: a guy who knows a guy that works at some company claiming Google as the next biggest competitor!!!
    - Google Fight claims that all of the above are true!

    Chapter 3 Downfall
    - Is Google too big?
    - Does Google have enough funding to branch out so much?

    Conclusion Finale:
    - Is Google going to be hit by a flying chair?
    - Future of Google, such as GoogleOS and Google Condoms

    You all know that it is true.
  • Google is entering, threatening and in many cases on the verge of dominating so many markets that it is both exciting and very scary. It seems that you can't go a whole week without hearing of a new venture or rumour of a new venture. The markets they are entering are mostly very well targeted with the potential for massive payoffs. Even if half fail the few that succeed seem capable of making up for those lossess 50 fold. Their brand name (which is still synonymous with success, and good - just) coupled wi
  • Is she [] one of the new applications for "physical testing" too? I mean, it'd fit in with their goals for more wireless technology [] development.
  • I could swear there were way more posts than there are currently (36 at time of this post), and a bunch of threads I was following disapeared in the last 30minutes - hour (man how coding C can make you lose track of time).
  • Critical Feedback (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @05:57AM (#14117938) Journal
    As a freelance software engineer, I routinely run into the same problem: I write software to address a niche need - but have no idea what the needs of the users actually are.

    Towards this end, it's typical for me to spend 25% of my time on the phone to various people, asking loads of questions, just so I can understand what the expectations are of the end users. What do they think when they see a button titled "Expand"?

    I never cease to be amazed at how much difference it can make to end users to change a button or link from "Reports" to "Export", or from "Course" to "Class". Putting a "Save" button at the right location can make the difference between happy customer and pissed off, irate enemy. .

    Getting UI stuff rght is much tougher than you'd think. I remember reading about the intense amount of time and money spent making the iPod nano "perfect".

    PS: I LOVE the iPod nano - why can't they get the software right? I hvae a rather large MP3 collection on a network drive, and trying to get the iPod to work with the MP3 collection has been very, very, very frustrating... I have a song on a network drive. I can play said song. I double-click, and I hear the song I like. It's in a playlist, and when I double-click the playlist, I still hear said song.

    I synchronize the iPod, and I don't get the song. No message explaining why, no errors noted anywhere, I can't drag/drop the file, even though I get a flash when I drag said file over the iPod icon. WTF?!?!

    I love the nano - but the software for it SUCKS REAL BAD.
    • Heya, Your problem is fixable. I was in the same situation, and figured it out. I have an iBook with a 20GB hard drive but I have 27Gigs of MP3's. I also have a 30GB iPod Photo. Here is what I did All the MP3's are on a PC which I can see from my iBook over the network. In the preferences for iTunes on the iBook, Change the location of the iTunes Library to the parent folder of the MP3's on the PC (obviously you must be networked when doing this) Now, when I add music to iTunes (on the iBook) it stores
      • Thanks for this, I was planning on embarking on a similar project this week to move all the music files from my husband's and mine's laptops to our PC we hardly use any more except for some legacy apps. My laptop is an iBook, and I have an iPod, so I was curious about sync'ing/loading songs over the network. Good to hear that it will work. Did you have to set up the PC's mp3 folder(s) as a network drive, or just do a standard share of it over the network?
        • Glad to be of some help. I just did a standard share of the C Drive on the PC, and connected to it from the iBook. Once the PC Drive is mounted on the iBook, then tell iTunes (on the iBook) to use whichever folder you want as it's library. Depending on the sped of your network, loading/syncing songs may take a just little bit longer than reading from the iBooks drive, but the space saving makes it worth it, and it isn't really that noticable anyway.
          • You shared your whole drive?? Are your system files etc. on another drive? I guess you must have good intra to inter network security, to go and do something like that. Another question: Does the iPod think its PC-formatted or Mac-formatted when you do this? I would assume Mac, since as far as it knows its getting the music from the iBook.
            • Yes, I shared my whole drive. The system files are on this drive. No reall security in place, just a reckless fellow. All my MP3's are backed up onto recordable DVD's, and there is nothing else on that machine that I'm really interested in. Oh, and the iPod is MAc Formatted, and can't tell that the files are actually on a PC. You are right that it is safer just to share the relevant folder, and I wouldn't recommend doing my (reckless) way.
  • Terminal blues (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FishandChips ( 695645 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @06:44AM (#14118037) Journal
    This is just a temporary booth that will run for only two months with only ten computers. Any one of dozens of other companies could have done something similar promoting music, cars, books, mobiles, even candy bars, etc, etc., instead of the internet. This Google venture comes over as a rather tacky and ephermeral trade/marketing stand and the Slashdot headline is completely misleading, imho.

    The place is awash with stories about Google taking over the world and putting the fear of god into corporate behemoths everywhere. But take a hard look at what Google is actually doing rather than what analysts are saying. Google is a not very large company which runs the world's best search/advertising engine and has a number of frankly rather modest beta projects going. And that is all. In many ways, Google has yet to prove itself. Sooner or later, the Google boys and girls are going to have to come out with some aggressive killer moves or folks might just conclude that the story is a soap opera about California cool with, alas, little more substance than a completely crazy stock price.
    • "Sooner or later, the Google boys and girls are going to have to come out with some aggressive killer moves or folks might just conclude that the story is a soap opera about California cool with, alas, little more substance than a completely crazy stock price."

      Perhaps you have been vacationing on the new Forward Moon base...?

      Have you seen what Google has done/is doing with Google Earth? If this isn't a "Killer Move" then I don't know what is. Think about it, say you wanted to organize the Earths data,

      • But that's exactly my point. Everyone talks about "the potential of Google". But where is the real beef? It's no good going to a butcher and asking for a string of next week's sausages. And maybe it isn't wise to read too much into Google maps or gmail, for example. Most folks I know have never heard of either and I doubt they would use them even if they had. They have, though, heard of Windows and Word, not least because they can walk into 1001 stores and buy them.

        Somewhere out there, there's probably a
        • This is a bit off-topic, and I don't want to hash up the "Is Google working on oo.Org" spin, however; this is an interesting and informative link in response to you comment:

          "Somewhere out there, there's probably a bunch of kids busy re-engineering Open Office and an Ajax basis"


          If you follow the link you'll see that the kids have already done it, and it in the form of a J2EE web-service and is being offered for free (for a basic home user account, last I c

    • "Google is a not very large company which runs the world's best search/advertising engine and has a number of frankly rather modest beta projects going. And that is all"

      You're right, their search engine stinks and their betas are pretty crappy. I'm off to query hotbot. See ya!

  • What next (Score:1, Interesting)

    by earthshake ( 908804 )
    "Google makes earth-wide, free, wi-fi internet access entitled: Google Net" In 10 years... "The US Government has switched to holding all of it's data on a remote server down in Google's mountain view home, it has proven a big success, allowing people to tour the setup entitled "Google Worldplex". You can check out all of Google's new services in one nice page at Xtra Google []
  • by Slashamatic ( 553801 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @09:36AM (#14118389)
    I have the (mis)fortune to fly via Heathrow T1 a lot of the time so I suddenly saw the Google sign yesterday in the international departures area and had a quick look.

    Heathrow T1 is heavily covered by commercial hot-spots. I can't imagine anyone (except the passengers) being happy if Google offered free coverage. There were people there, but they were hardly queueing for seats (there was a couple of spaces free when I had my look). However some ten metres away people were happily using a pay-hotspot organised by T-mobile. They could use their own PCs (big advantage). Hey, if the company is paying, where is the problem?

    As a frequent flyer, I have access to a lounge. Although the lounge has only pay-hot-spots, they have a free internet cafe and being an airline lounge, free drinks and munchies. There having been a number of delayed flights earlier, the munchies were limited but at least I could sit there with a free orange juice.

    • Yeah, the BA T1 domestic lounge is nice, isn't it?

      My flight out of there on Thursday was delayed over 2 hours, so I didn't get home until midnight...

      Still, being able to IRC (mmmm irc.cgi) with mates from their terminals was good as always.
  • by Lord Satri ( 609291 ) <alexandreleroux&gmail,com> on Saturday November 26, 2005 @12:51PM (#14119056) Homepage Journal
    The official link for this project, called Google Space, has not yet been indicated: []

    It was first mentioned on [] and on two [] previous [] /. comments. I submitted this story a few days ago, but I agree with the /. eds, the url I provided were not as interesting as in today's story...

Thus spake the master programmer: "Time for you to leave." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"