Looking at some my older posts, I realized that I have increased the size of the pictures I post. I suspect this might have something to do with the size of my screen. When looking for pictures online I now set the minimum size on Google to 640 x 480. That's like a quarter of my screen size (1600 x 900).
Yesterday I was looking at Google's tour of its facilities and they were using my whole screen to display their pictures. It was great. OK, I have a broadband connection, so download time isn't a factor like it would be for a dial-up connection, but dang! It's like the difference between VHS and a DVD. VHS was fine when that was all we had, but once you see a high-definition picture, it's hard to go back.
Yes, a broadband connection costs $50 a month, but compared to my $500 a month gasoline bill or my $300 a month beer bill, it's kind of small potatoes.
Google's tour of its facilities impressed me on a couple of fronts. First off, it was really boring. Big warehouses full of racks of computers. Endless rows of equipment. Lots of pipes. I mean it's really clean and very high tech, and they've tried to brighten it up with bright colors and colored lights, but it doesn't really help much. The other thing is how big they are. I mean this is just Google, this isn't Yahoo, or Amazon, or AOL or anybody else, it's just Google. And it's all paid for with advertising. OK, not anymore, now they rent space and provide services to other companies, but they got their start with advertising, and advertising still pays a big portion of the bills.
Lastly, I'm wondering what a data link to the outside world looks like. They've got a warehouse full of computers, they must have thousands of individual connections going on at any one time, maybe even a million. I know you can send a lot of data down a fiber optic cable, but I'm thinking that an entire data center is going to stretch the limits of fiber optics. I mean, they might need two.
There was one picture of a satellite antennae, but I'm not sure a satellite link with its attendant delays would fit with Google's instant response model. I mean, have you ever tried to talk over a satellite link? You have change your speaking style to accommodate the delays or else you end up talking over each other. Round trip (out and back, twice) takes around 2/3 of a second, long enough to be noticable, at least when you are speaking. You run into delays on the net sometimes, but if they are long enough to notice they are usually much longer than that, like multiple seconds.