Dear Google, please stop trying to read my mind

I’ve noticed recently that my Android phone’s messaging app will pick out words from the text message I’m composing, and try to suggest searches based on those words. For example if I text my wife that I’m planning to stop at Panera to pick up dinner on the way home, it will give me an option to Google search for “Panera”.

Yesterday I had an appointment with my audiologist, who’s office is about 40 miles away. I also had my 9 year old granddaughter with me, since I was helping cover a gap in summer kid-sitting. After the appointment was over I was texting my stepdaughter to let her know that we were on our way home, and I added “We may stop and get a drink on the way home”, to which Google helpfully offered to search for “bars near you.”

It’s only gonna get creepier from here on out.

Actually, It’s a Google Autocompleter at work.

April 1, 2011

I’m starting to wonder if Google is reading what I’m reading. I get that if I search for "X’ or if I click on something that has “X” in it: “X” will now get factored into the Google searches.

But sometimes I’ll do neither of those things. There will be times I’m reading things on this board. Say the topic of conversation is “Dogs”. Then someone in the thread goes off topic and mentions something about “Blue frogs”. Then I’ll think to myself: “Huh? blue frogs? Never heard of that. I must Google it!”

So then I go to Google:

Me [types]: B L U…

Google autocomplete: Blue Frogs.


I thought you were going to complain about plain-old Google search deciding it knows what you meant and bringing you pages that don’t match what you asked for. I hate that.

Google doesn’t seem to understand that, generally speaking, the problem is NOT that an insufficient number of results has been returned on my search, but rather that I am at risk of being inundated with a lot of chaff and wish to avoid the irrelevant pages by being specific about what I’m searching for, and goddammit I meant what I put and don’t want anything included in results that doesn’t match exactly what I put!!!

The things you folks are describing is just downright creepy. I don’t want any of that autocomplete stuff and I sure as hell ain’t using Google mail.

It already is.
Gmail offers short replies to messages when I view them on my phone.
There are 3 boxes containing phrases such as; “Sounds Great!”, “My pleasure!”, or “See you there!”. The ARE tailored to the email you are reading. I have a recent email where someone thanks me for something. The suggested replies are; “You’re welcome!”, “My pleasure!” and “Anytime!”. Of course they all contain an exclamation point.

That last is easy.

The reason somebody posted about blue frogs is that it’s “trending”. Half of facebook just started talking about them at random. And so in the last 6 hours a hundred million people have googled “blue frogs”. The first 10,000 people to do so typed “blu” and got offered “e moon” or “e eyeshadow” or “e balls” or whatever.

But once a couple hundred thousand people all finished out the search by keystroking “e frogs” , Google gets the hint. At least for today, the public wants to talk about and search for “blue frogs”

Back when Google Now(?) first was introduced I had an Android phone. I drove to Pittsburgh’s South-Side to see a band at The Rex and parked in a residential area a ten minute walk away.

After the show and a few drinks I began walking to my car. My phone buzzed and when I looked at the screen it said, “Do you need help finding your car?”

Hell, ya!!! I was freaked out, but my phone walked me turn by turn to my car. I don’t know that I would have found it without Google.

This guy could have used an android phone last weekend.

Heh. I once took my kids to The Carnegie Museum in Oakland (Pittsburgh). After a long day we went to the parking garage and my Jeep was gone. My son and daughter were close to tears. I told them I’d call the police, then take them across the street for ice cream. As we walked down a level to get to the elevator, BOOM my car appeared.

I insisted that some delinquents stole my Jeep, did some joyriding, then returned it, but to the wrong floor.

There’s also the more old-fashioned technique of taking a short note on your phone: “4rd floor, west side”. Whether you send yourself a txt, an email, or use a note-taking app or voice recorder app it only takes a few seconds.

They’ve all been at it for years. Even before I retired, I lost count of the number of times I shouted at the computer “Stop trying to be helpful and just do what you’re !&^%^%&% well told!!!*”

You take a picture of the car where it’s parked. Or a video.

Back in the mid 2000s, there was a webcomic that I read on the regular. It only lasted a little over a year before the creator gave up on it and moved on to other things. At the time, I had a “dumb,” non-internet capable clam-shell phone. I didn’t own any Apple products at all, other than an early iPod with the touch wheel and black and white LED screen. Again, no internet connectivity. I read the comic on my PC at home, or sometimes at work.

Anyway, years go by. I forget about the web comic. All of the computers that I used to read the web comic have long since been replaced, and I’m three or four jobs further on from where I was working at the time. And suddenly, in the last couple of years, when I’m doing web searches on my iPhone or iPad, the url for that obscure, long-forgotten web comic start showing up under “Bookmarks or Recent History.”

What the hell?

I really started to notice this when Google’s “knowledge” would hop from device to device. The first time I saw it was when I gave an employee a (google) map to a place he had to deliver to. A few hours later I got in my car and pulled out my phone for something or another and it told me how long it would take me to get there. It took me a few minutes to figure out why my phone thought I wanted to know how long it would take to get to this “random” spot that I had long since forgotten about.

As I noticed more and more of that, that is, Googling something at home and having the entire search string show up on my phone or my work computer as soon as I type in the first letter (in purple, to show it’s something I’ve already looked up), I’ve learned to use Private Mode more and more. In fact, I nearly always have a second Private Mode browser open just for that reason.

This really seems like a feature that would be nice to turn off. If google wants to keep my history, I understand, but just something that keeps the devices separate.

Along the same lines, WRT Amazon, once you pull the trigger and actually buy something from Amazon, they don’t have to keep shoving it down your throat.

A very funny take on the Google’s Autocomplete. College Humor’s “What If Google Were a Guy?”. If you enjoy this one there’s four more. They’re absolutely hilarious in my view.

I had another interesting one this weekend. My wife wanted me to post some furniture for sale. I don’t remember if it was on Craigslist or on Facebook Marketplace, but I started typing in a description “Day Bed With…” and auto-complete showed me the following three options:


Old saying:

Those who often seek daybed with woodpecker soon form splinter group.

I thought it was thinking of the Tom Robbins novel, “Day Bed with Woodpecker”.

And I gotta say, “Day Bed with Tribbles” was one of my favorite Star Trek episodes.

Yeah, but they hog all the snacks.