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Google Social Networks Technology

Google+ Growing As a Social Backbone 267

OverTheGeicoE writes "The Wall Street Journal reports that Google+ has added 20 million users in just 3 weeks. According to the article, no other site has recorded such high growth in such a short time period. Twitter did something similar once, but in months, not weeks. It's especially surprising considering that access to Google+ is by invitation only. Why is Google+ growing so quickly?" A recent article at O'Reilly Radar offers a possible answer to this, calling Google+ "the rapidly growing seed of a web-wide social backbone," but one that requires openness from Google to really flourish and supplant Facebook. The growth of Google+ will be helped by their acquisition of Fridge, a startup company focused on group sharing. Meanwhile, recruiters and marketers are already eyeballing the growing social network and licking their chops.
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Google+ Growing As a Social Backbone

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  • by vakuona ( 788200 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:20PM (#36851012)

    Critical mass is important here, but looking good.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by xTantrum ( 919048 )
      Who cares. It's a sausage fest on there.
      • by bluemonq ( 812827 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:28PM (#36851120)

        The first numbers were around 88% male, then down to 67% male (http://mashable.com/2011/07/16/google-plus-female/)(http://www.businessinsider.com/debunked-3-viral-google-myths-2011-7), and now around 57% male (http://mashable.com/2011/07/20/google-plus-stats/). So, no, it's not a sausage fest. I wouldn't expect the numbers to get much more balanced until the casual games start arriving.

        • by socz ( 1057222 )

          Yeah I don't know where these guys are at, but just taking a look at the "nearby" entries, there are some hotties (chicks) on there!

        • The scary is if it's still a sausage fest even with 43% 'females'...

    • I don't know, it's already at like half the number of real people that use facebook...

    • TFS is a bunch of crap - they evidentally cant read the WSJ article they linked which says: "Web-traffic watcher comScore Inc. estimated Google+ has had 20 million unique visitors since its launch" unique vistors != users

      im not a coward i swear (just forgot to log in)
  • by cranil ( 1983560 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:24PM (#36851058)
    Maybe it's because it is invite only. I mean if something is exclusive, lot of people want in.
    • Maybe it's because it is invite only. I mean if something is exclusive, lot of people want in.

      ...and my guess is that most of those are tech oriented folks interested b/c it's Google and not Facebook. The growth will not continue as rapidly but at what point will they level off? Hopefully enough that they challenge FB and aren't just a second social media account to keep updated.

      • considering I can use the Start Google Plus extension to allow me to post to Facebook at the same time I post to my circles in G+, even if you kept both accounts, it is pretty painless to post to FB from G+.

    • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:49PM (#36851456) Journal

      Maybe. Given that they had to shut down invites for a while, I don't think that's much of a draw. Google makes cool stuff, and they already have all of your email contacts (you have at least one google account, like the rest of the civilized world, right?), so they've got an actual chance to get enough people to hit critical mass. When they turn on apps access, it will open the next set of floodgates.

      And, lets face it, Google+ is shiny to geeks and muggles alike - and shiny is the demographic for social networking.

      • by tibit ( 1762298 )

        I agree. Only thing I'm waiting for is the access for google apps users. Right now it's somewhat irritating: if you have a gmail account via google apps (tied to your domain), you can't sign up for Google+...

      • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

        (you have at least one google account, like the rest of the civilized world, right?)

        Am I weird that I don't? I've had my own domain since '98, and set up a backup email at a competing web-based option about that time. Never really felt the need to switch to Gmail. Besides, my wife uses Gmail as her primary account, and it's easier if I don't have one and she can stay logged in.

        I like Google well enough in theory, but in practice we've just recently gotten my 90-something grandmother to figure out FaceBook to the point she can see pictures of the great-grandkids, and I can't see trying t

    • I suspect half of the people there have never been to facebook and have been waiting patiently for something like this.

    • Maybe it's because it is invite only. I mean if something is exclusive, lot of people want in.

      Yep. It's the star-bellied sneetches and the plain-bellied sneetches all over again. We may disapprove of them, but nobody wants to be a plain-bellied sneetch!

  • why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vvaduva ( 859950 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:28PM (#36851124)

    Why is Google+ growing so quickly?

    Because it's not Facebook...

    • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:46PM (#36851408) Journal

      Why is Google+ growing so quickly?

      Because it's not Facebook...

      I'm sick of people proffering this and only this as a reason to Google+ growth. There is something more to it, after all, iTunes Ping [wikipedia.org] isn't Facebook either. Why didn't they balloon up to 20 million in two weeks?

      There's features that are importantly different like friends can't post on my "wall" in G+ and managing and restricting circles is easier for me in G+ than managing and restricting lists was in FB. Google did some things wrong at first and they've corrected some but I'm hoping for a much lighter UI at some point. Or even just the option to not have all the circle animations.

      Furthermore the "autofacerecognition" crap that Facebook made opt-in by default was really scary for me personally. I don't doubt Google's ability to do something similar but so far the privacy problems have been negligible compared to getting Zuckerpunched with something worse and worse each month. All of Facebook isn't bad, in some ways G+ is much like it. But at least take the time to enumerate what the advantages are to you.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        I'm sick of people proffering this and only this as a reason to Google+ growth. There is something more to it, after all, iTunes Ping [wikipedia.org] isn't Facebook either. Why didn't they balloon up to 20 million in two weeks?

        They didn't have massive coverage in global internet searches and services to leverage from?

        • no... just massive global coverage of all things digital music and the single application used to access the devices that brought them to such a dominant position.

      • by tepples ( 727027 )
        For one thing, Google+ is associated with a free service that people already use. People who don't buy into the iTunes ecosystem don't use iTunes Ping.
        • For one thing, Google+ is associated with a free service that people already use. People who don't buy into the iTunes ecosystem don't use iTunes Ping.

          Isn't iTunes a free service that people already use? I realize that many people here dislike iTunes for one reason or another, but to insinuate that it isn't one of the most heavily used music players is ludicrous.

          • Isn't iTunes a free service that people already use?

            I mentioned "People who don't buy into the iTunes ecosystem" for a reason. I can think of three things that would lead to the use of iTunes software, all of which involve buying something from Apple: having bought a Mac, in which case iTunes is the default music player; having bought an iPod, for which iTunes is the primary music library manager; or having bought something on iTunes Store.

            to insinuate that it isn't one of the most heavily used music players is ludicrous.

            Is iTunes software still "one of the most heavily used music players" among people who don't own a Mac, iPod, iPhone, or

      • I'm sick of people proffering this and only this as a reason to Google+ growth. There is something more to it,

        Probably not. What you are objecting to is really just shorthand for "Google has a good reputation and everybody hates facebook." [cnet.com]

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        I'm sick of people proffering this and only this as a reason to Google+ growth. There is something more to it, after all, iTunes Ping isn't Facebook either. Why didn't they balloon up to 20 million in two weeks?

        Because Ping is a social network specializing in a niche - music interests. You don't post your every thought to Ping because it's not designed to be a Facebook or a G+. You don't post your vacation pics or your latest drunken brawl on Ping. And you don't go on Ping to find your old buddy from high s

      • I think part of the facebook hating is because subconsciously people "know" that Zuckerberg is a jerk because of the movie.

        For me, I erased my FB account because it was pointless, lacked privacy, and I didn't care what people were thinking about having for supper and when they were eating supper and whether it was really good after they were done. Few of my real friends were on there either, a lot of it was people I knew in high school who whine a lot.

        I did get a g+ account tho. Haven't done much with it
      • by blair1q ( 305137 )

        You're right.

        Google+ isn't not Facebook. It's more like Facebook+.

      • Automatic face recognition already exists within Google's Picasa (web and desktop client). However the main differences are:

        - You need to train the face recognition yourself (very time consuming).
        - There is no centralized database. If you lose your Picasa database, you have to retag / retrain Picasa engine.
        - It is opt in (by virtue of work required) rather than Facebook's version where you can't opt out.

        On the other hand, there are security and privacy implications of Facebook storing my facial likeness.


    • by blair1q ( 305137 )

      They should have called it Ginf.

      What's Ginf?

      It's an acronym for Ginf Is Not Facebook.

      Cool logo possibilities, too. G-infinity and all that.

  • by swordgeek ( 112599 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:30PM (#36851154) Journal

    If you go over here, [xkcd.com], you'll find out the biggest reason it's getting popular.

    Hint: It's not facebook.

  • Since when are unique visitors automatically assumed to be registered users? Don't get me wrong, I think Google is getting this one right... but this "unique visitors" info is getting misreported all over the place today.

    • by swv3752 ( 187722 )

      When I got in Google+ a few weeks ago, I had like maybe 5 other people already using it. Now, I have over 150, with 5-10 people joining a day.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tooyoung ( 853621 )

        Now, I have over 150, with 5-10 people joining a day.

        I love this about the comments on slashdot. Rewind 2 months and comments look like this:

        Facebook is stupid. People have 200 friends on their friend list. There is no way that people have 200 friends, they just add whoever. It is all just a popularity contest.

        Now, after Google+ is introduced, I have seen numerous quotes like this:

        I have 200 friends on Google+ and it is growing every day!!!!!

        Please don't mistake me for defending Facebook or raggin

        • Re:since when (Score:4, Interesting)

          by QRDeNameland ( 873957 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:09PM (#36852512)

          I love this about the comments on slashdot.

          Yep, just like I love the comments on slashdot that complain: "Hey, one time on /., a few people said one thing, then later, a bunch of other people said something completely contradictory. WTF, people? Have all the same opinion, already...Jeebus!!!"

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      dunno, since they noticed that by making it a slashdot like publishing platform pushes the unique visitors through the roof(and crossposts to facebook. seriously, the most i've read people using g+ is them saying on facebook that they're on it, that they published something on it, that they can invite people there or asking for invites).

    • if the metric is on the post log in page, then they have to kind of be a member.

  • I intend to use Google+ the same way I use every other social networking site. I'll create an account to claim my own identity, then disable as many features as possible, then post a message that states that I do not use the service and that if you want to talk to me, you should email me.

    • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:39PM (#36851318) Journal

      Bet you're just the life of every party!

    • I sure hope you posted your MySpace message using sparkly bubble text.
    • So, honest question, do you take pride in, "not really using any social networks but kind of sort of using them just so you can claim your online identity," or do you honestly see absolutely no benefit in being able to send out mass messages to friends conveniently segmented into various groups, being able to video chat with multiple people at once, being able to organize social events via a pseudo-permanent single web location, and being able to quickly, effectively, and openly communicate with various peo
      • ... with various levels of privacy?

        And right there your argument, such as it was, falls apart. There are no "various levels of privacy." This is one:


        • because e-mail is eminently private.

          • There's a difference in privacy between paying a trusted company to host your email (possibly encrypting it after reception), and using a free service which is paid by mining your data, even if you trust Google not to give it to third-parties.

            That said, I use Google Apps for my email, but that's because I'm too poor and cheap to pay for a decent host or for someone to redirect my email (I cannot send it directly from my home connection since my ISP has submitted its IPs to the PBL, and doesn't offer an SMTP

      • I have absolutely no idea what most of the things you said mean, and the half I did understand I don't care about.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Seumas ( 6865 )

        The signal to noise ratio on the receiving end is absolutely not worth the time and investment. Nor is the whole privacy and data farming concern. I don't generally have anything worth throwing out into the river of information in the other direction, either. The difference is that while most of the people in my feed will post things anyway, I realize that I'm not posting anything of real value and will therefore simply not post it.

        Yes, people may occasionally post something with a degree of value, but it i

      • by dzfoo ( 772245 )

        I'm not asking to be snarky

        Nobody asks to be snarky. It just happens, embrace it.

    • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @05:09PM (#36851688) Journal

      I am new to social networks, with Google+ so this may be the naivety that speaks, but I don't think you have to disable your account just to use e-mail. You can have lots of benefits from participating in Google+ to see cool things that scientists and techies (in my case) share with others, to get updates from family members and see a cute video of your friend's newborn. None of these has to replace personal e-mails.

      For me, it's lots of fun following Sergey Brin, Linus Torvalds and a number of scientists or science writers and even science comedians. These people are truly creative, in the way that I can appreciate.
      This didn't change my e-mail usage patterns one bit.

    • Great idea, in reverse. I'll set up an email auto-responder that if you want to talk to me, message me on Google+.

      I can tell you and I will be great pen pals... sorry you'll be the only one of us getting all the spam.

    • Why not just ignore G+ and let your friends add you to a circle by e-mail... then they can share stuff with you and G+ will send it to your e-mail address.

  • Facebook, Linkedin and MySpace fill some need, but people want something different. If Google+ is just the same again, maybe it'll fail. There may be something important with exclusivity: a social network that is more tribal and walled could be what people are looking for.
  • that's a difference from what most people use facebook for. even with it's circles. it's handy in the way that you don't need to have a g+ account. just like for twitter you don't actually need a twitter account, you'll be linked the good stuff anyways.

  • Users are great, but posts are the lifeblood. I've not seen any posts in my Google Plus circles that weren't either meta or cross-posted to Facebook.
    • Exactly. As far as I'm concerned the jury is still out on this one. As soon as I start seeing something that isn't just repost of something I've already seen on Facebook from the same user, I'll be more convinced. Right now my Google+ home page looks like pared down version of the Facebook main page. There's nothing wrong with the service, and several things I like a bit better, but until the people are there and posting stuff that isn't mirrored on FB it's not really doing much for me.

    • Users are great, but posts are the lifeblood. I've not seen any posts in my Google Plus circles that weren't either meta or cross-posted to Facebook.

      +1. I think most are just using it as a second social media site that needs to be updated along with FB until we get some apps that will feed all of them. I don't see (many) users leaving FB for Google+ en mass and closing their FB accounts. Most just keep both.

      The majority of FB users didn't migrate from MySpace, they are new to the social media networks and will likely stay with FB, if they update at all, since everyone else is there and it is where they started when friends encouraged them to join.

  • No thanks, Google. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:41PM (#36851330) Homepage

    After it was revealed that Google would remove ALL your Google accounts -- Gmail, Adsense, Docs, etc. -- for violating the Google+ TOS, it became clear to me that this was a Friendster clone I was better off not using.

    If I wanted a bureaucracy to decide for me what's appropriate for me to say and do, and punish me severely for violating the rules, I'd build a time machine and go back to the Soviet Union.

    • Hadn't heard that - where did you read about it? (I suppose it would be a little ironic to just google it)

    • WTF? do you plan on doing something illegal?

      • Funny, that's exactly the same argument people use against the first amendment. If this exact same argument justifies Google+, then it's like I said earlier: NO THANKS.

        • It is a private service, not the federal, state or local or even subdivision government. WTF does the first Amendment have to do with it?

  • by fermion ( 181285 )
    You know, I have all the google services. You know how much I use them? Except for Docs and search, almost never. Registering for a service does not mean using it.

    In addition to this users versus people who actually use the service, there is an issue of how many protocols end users will tolerate. Twitter has at least a 100 million users following at least on account. If I am a bussines I might register with google in case it takes off, but would continue with Twitter because that is where my customer

  • It'd grow a little faster if Google would get off their butts and port Profiles over to Apps.

    They've only been promising it's "right around the corner" for 2 years now.

  • by LordKronos ( 470910 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:49PM (#36851452)

    What I want to know is, how is it that google+ keeps growing? I thought they stopped accepting new users. I don't have an invite yet, but I haven't really tried to get one, because every time I've gone to the website in the last few weeks, it always says "Already invited? We've temporarily exceeded our capacity. Please try again soon." So if they aren't accepting even invited users, how is it that they continue to grow? Is there some secret way to get in now?

    • by Tacvek ( 948259 )

      The site is no longer invite only. I know this for an absolute fact, since I have a Google+ account but never received an invite.

      As far as I can tell, they are turning on and off the ability to register several times a day, or perhaps it has something to so with which server you get connected to. Regardless, I did need to try several times to avoid the "temporarily exceeded our capacity" message.

  • Google+ may be invitation only, but once you're in you can invite anyone you like so it isn't like there's any real limitation. Of course, so far I've only invited close friends and I might keep it that way.

    Pages in Google+ load far, far quicker than Facebook. The contact circles has me intrigued, especially if it will allow me to target messages to specific groups. And so far there are no social games. Those are all great points, but so far Google+ isn't terribly different than Facebook and so there's no r

    • by tycoex ( 1832784 )

      Actually my favorite part about Google+ is the android app. Not necessarily the app itself, but using it on my android phone in general. Facebook (the mobile site or the app) loads PAINFULLY slow on my phone, even over wifi. In contrast, the G+ app loads extremely fast, and the G+ mobile site loads almost as fast as the app.

    • The contact circles has me intrigued, especially if it will allow me to target messages to specific groups.

      This feature alone makes it way better than facebook for me. It's so easy to send messages only to close friends, or colleagues, etc. And I can easily choose to only view messages from specific groups as well. With facebook it always feels like everything you write or do is visible to everyone. And everything someone else does is visible to me, which is not optimal either.

  • Why is Google+ growing so quickly?

    Because you publish 5 articles a day about it?

  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @05:03PM (#36851632) Homepage Journal
    You know, I am starting to think that a lot of folks only opened up FB accounts begrudgingly. I know a number of people that preferred MySpace over Facebook until MySpace decided to start cloning Facebook's "features" and UI. I also know a number of people who only started a Facebook account to be in on various party/event invitations and only started using it as their primary social media platform when everything else became too bloated and kludgy to use.

    Finally, a number of folks I know never started their own accounts. Rather, their girlfriends or friends or family members started one for them, and they only took it over to keep the originator from jacking up their reputation by posting random stuff under their identity.

    I wonder if a large portion of FB users never really wanted to use FB at all, but only got pulled into the service by what they would consider, "not their fault," circumstances. It would explain the large love-hate relationship that recent statistics seem to imply, along with the wholesale, "Fuck you Facebook!" movement that is coinciding with G+'s birth.
  • by J'raxis ( 248192 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @05:04PM (#36851640) Homepage

    My profile was suspended because they insist on people using their "legal" names. They tell users signing up to use the name that people know you by, but their appeal form demands you either provide a government ID or some other "official" evidence of your name like a link to a college directory.

    I then go to the discussion board about profiles and virtually every recent thread is people complaining about being suspended.

    Good job, Google. Just as evil as Facebook. More interested in being able to connect everyone's doings with their "legal" identity than they are at creating a social networking site for their users.

    • I've got news for you: there's no such thing as anonymity on the Internet.

      Just ask Anonymous who found out the hard way earlier this week.

      Besides, if I'm doing anything online I don't want Google to track, I sure as hell aren't going to be logged-in to my Google account while I'm doing it, will make sure I'm tunneling my connection through several remote proxies, and would probably be using a Live CD distribution of my favorite Linux.

      Even then, I'm still not 100% anonymous. Only obfuscated enough to hopefu

  • As a google apps customer, I don't have access to profiles...which means I don't have access to google+.

    Let me be clear; I am a paying customer, and I don't have the access the freebie users do.

    • by Tacvek ( 948259 )

      You don't have access to integrated profiles, but the last I knew there was nothing preventing you from using your apps email address to create a standard Google Account (just like a Yahoo mail user would do), and create a profile using the Google Account, rather than the Google Apps Account.

      Is that no longer possible?

  • by RanceJustice ( 2028040 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @05:53PM (#36852324)

    Slashdot is probably one of the few sites I'll find more than a handful of those that hold my views, but I consider "Social Media" today a worrisome development. When I was a young fellow dialing in on a 9600 baud modem, using BBSes and cavorting around on the nascent Net, privacy was one of the main appeals. I loved having a separate life, anonymous on the internet and this appreciation continues to this day. I'm RanceJustice here and a few other places, but I'm also a dozen different aliases and handles as it suits me. It seems completely counterproductive to merge meatspace in its entirety with the digital world, much less do so via a medium that basically treats me as the product selling anything it knows about me. However, I do try to keep aware of these things and look for benefits, lest I miss something useful and new - I have no intention to be the old man yelling that I don't need email because writing letters is good enough....

    I haven't really found any benefits though, for the most part. I enjoy forums immensely and I generally consider any website that is based upon user-submitted or created content is typically some form of a forum. Reddit, Digg, Slashdot, Kuro5hin, Yelp, and others basically fall into this category, besides "the chans", and hobby-specific forums like World of Warcraft. Just like with "normal" blogging, I can see the value in microblogging services...for a very small amount of uses. Its a good way to broadcast information that others wish to see - if you're in the middle of Oslo today, its probably great to be able to send a tweet letting friends and family know you're safe and with pics or video of the carnage, location aware so that someone can get an ambulance to the right place. However, 90% of microblogging content seems to be useless, self-indulgent "Orange juice is yummy" "I am taking a shit", way to spew your thoughts onto the internet. Retweets and references become a game of tag and serve to make less content look like more, and there's the continual drive to acquire more followers. There isn't room to espouse deep concepts and explain them properly, so people tend to just put out what's on their mind. I have an Identi.ca (StatusNet is superior and open source compared to Twitter. I'm glad sites like Identi.ca exist) account, but is pretty much unused because I have a mental filter that says "If all my friends were in a room together, would it be important enough to say?" or "If I was standing in the crosswalk of a major city, would it be beneficial to shout it to strangers?", and the vast majority of the time the answer is no. Now, maybe this is just because I'm a private person overall and most of my friends don't live close enough to me that any location-dependent tweets would be worthwhile (ie. 50% off otoro box lunches at Japanese restaurant today only!), but I believe I have a filter where others do not that doesn't want to chatter inanely to the whole world in SMS-sized bites.

    Finally we come to true "Social Media/Social Networks" like friendster, orkut, makeoutclub, MySpace, and the dreaded Facebook. While all the previous things, even Twitter, can be done via alias these seem to be set up to merge your entire real world life with the virtual and that is a bloody appalling prospect to me. Facebook seems the worst of all, but it has almost become a way of life in America where it is integrated into everything. Every "news" network and just about every form of entertainment has some link to it and it is becoming a disease. Take for instance the Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood game, where there is an item that you can only unlock in said game if you go on facebook, friend the developers/publishers and play their Facebook game. You're supposed to interact with everything, and of course, there's always something watching. Activision wants you to link your Battle.Net account to Facebook and you can set up World of Warcraft to announce on Facebook and Twitter whenever you achieve something in game - adding to their exposure of course. Many c

    • by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:26PM (#36852724) Journal

      So, is there any benefit to G+ and what level of privacy can I expect at Google today and in the future?

      As it is right now, G+ seems more private than Facebook. Right off the bat, they do not have a million and one Zygna games and various other shady applications that your "friends" are playing. Those apps all seem to uniformly gain access to not just the accounts of those playing them, but also the "public" information of any accounts linked to the player's account.

      G+ does not have the same sort of "Wall" that Facebook has. Where as Facebook has a default allow policy, Google seems to have a default deny. Unless you explicitly share content with Everyone, the content is not there to be mined by third parties.

      On the other hand, all of your concerns about Google are concerns that I share. What prevents them from selling their data to insurance companies, Lexis Nexus, ChoicePoint, or any other data aggragator (sp) with the money to pay for it?

      I'm on Google+ mostly for the Circles feature. Sure, Facebook has lists but Google made the circles very easy to use. I have my circles for my tech friends, my political friends, my WoW friends, etc. I can target my posts to the people who are interested in the content and not have to spam everyone else.

    • I'm from the same era, I do the same things.

      Under different aliases I've leaked enough information to have various identities joined together, but I comfort myself with the naive pretense that since I've kept these identities separate and *not* directly identified myself in any way, that this was a choice consciously made that ought to be respected by Data Galore.

      I do a lot of searches on Google because certain patterns of letters amuse me: I like to make up obscure code names for little projects with multi

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"