10 Surprising Things Google Knows About You
By Maggie Poling, Grade 9

Google: We use it every day, and the whole world does! It is one of the primary sources for, well, everything! From getting the latest celebrity gossip, to routing your road trip… Google provides us with an efficient way to do and learn whatever we’d like. There’s only one problem. If Google seems to know everything, does that mean they know everything about you? Maybe not, but they sure have come close. And to prove it, here are 10 surprising things Google knows about…you.

10. Your problems: When you ask a question or give an answer on Google Answers, you are providing this company with some insight into who you are, and what your problems may be. So think twice next you type “how to get rid of smelly feet” into the Google search engine.
9. Your mobile number: You are allowed to provide your mobile number via SMS, Google Mobile and Gmail. This means you might just be in Google’s address book.
8. How your voice sounds: When you use Google Talk, you share the sound of your voice with Google. This may not sound too bad, but what Google knows, everyone knows.
7. When you’re going to get the flu: Yes, I’m serious! Google can track flu related searches to find out when and where the viruses are coming to a town near you.
6. Everything you do online: The program Google Secure Access monitors everything you do online, and is able to record this information. If you’re a criminal, I’d be scared.
5. What you, your friends, and your family look like and do: Google’s photo editing program, Picasa, assists you in revealing what you and your loved ones look like to Google. Do you really want a website to know that?
4. Where you and your friends are: Cell phones users can share their location with others (including Google) through Google Latitude. Also, when you use Google Maps on your mobile device, they can detect your location.
3. What’s important to you: Google knows what’s most important to you through Google Alerts, a program that users can set up to get alerts and updates on specific information. It may seem like Google’s giving you the information, but by using this program, you’re giving it information in return.
2. What’s on your PC: Through Google Desktop, you allow Google the capability to access your computer, and everything in it. A bit frightening, isn’t it?
1. Your financial information: AdSense and Google Checkout provides users the opportunity to share financial information with Google. Other personal information is up for grabs through these programs as well. Again, not exactly something you want Google - or most other people, for that matter - to know, right?
Now that you know what Google knows, I hope you become more aware of what you’re sharing with strangers. If Google knows these things, it’s possible for anyone to learn this information. That said, be smart, and next time, think before you share personal information with a computer.


Prepaid Cell Phones: Pros and Cons
By Maggie Poling, Grade 9

Due to the recession, millions of Americans are switching to the prepaid cell phone, instead of devices that require a contract. However, others are weary. Some people are not sure if the pros outweigh the cons of purchasing a prepaid cell phone.

Although, why do people feel these cell phones are a smarter purchase than contract-induced cell phones? What’s the difference? Is it because prepaid cell phones are more readily available? Or is it the fact that you don’t have to worry about the consequences of signing a contract? The decision can be difficult to make, so to help you out, here’s a list of pros and cons associated with the prepaid cell phone.

1. No contracts or monthly bills: Prepaid cell phones do not require a contract. Instead, you purchase minute cards. The price of these cards differ depending on the amount of minutes you purchase, and these minutes will last you until they run out. When you run out of time, you simply purchase another minute card, and the cycle begins again.

2. No Credit Checks or Deposits: Some people are unable to purchase a contract cell phone because they have bad credit, or simply do not own a credit card. With a prepaid phone, you can purchase your minutes with cash, providing a phone associated with, most likely, less financial stress.

3. No age limit: Forget purchasing the family plan contract! With a prepaid phone, anyone can own one without adding on extra costs. All you have to pay for is the phone and the minute cards. This is a wonderful option for teenagers, because they cannot abuse their limit on minutes. Once your minutes are gone, they’re gone for good until you purchase another minute card.

Now, onto the cons:
1. The Rate per Minute: Depending on the phone, a minute can end up costing twice as much for a prepaid phone. Make sure you do your research so you can purchase a prepaid phone that does not have this issue.

2. Included Services: Some prepaid cell phones do not offer Internet access or long distance calling. If you are a business man or woman, or use your cellular device for more than text messaging and calling peopl A prepaid cell phone may not be the best call for you. And yes, pun intended.

Now that you know a bit more about the prepaid cell phone, it’s your time to decide! The prepaid cell phone can be wonderful for people who only use their cellular device for emergencies, or sparingly. Someone who relies on their phone for everything may not find this type of plan to be the best. Whoever you are, and whatever your preferences, do what’s best for you and you are guaranteed to be a happy customer.


5/23/2011 02:30:04 am

Woah. Google is scary. I'm glad that I've switched to mostly using Yahoo now, and that I don't let google know my location on my iPod apps. You've just convinced me that I don't want to use Google period!!!!!

Rosemary, Technology Editor
6/1/2011 12:42:06 am

I tend to disagree with you. If I get any programs or applications for my computer, I try to looking into getting a version made by Google. Their products have a reputation of being on top of their competitors, with some rating even above Apple (their main market competitor). However, they do have the *option* to track your location and personal information. Of course, you can always set your preferences in programs such as Chrome, so Google will not track your location or save personal information such as passwords and credit card numbers. I have five browsers downloaded, and I find that Google Chrome is the fastest and safest browser of them all.
However, I definitely respect your opinion! Google has a way of collecting information. If you are someone that likes to keep your life private, then steering away from Google could be the best option for you. Still, it really comes down to whether you make this information available on the web. Computers can't read your mind, after all (yet). ;)


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