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Two More Google Software Dogs Go To Heaven

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the google-heaven-has-awesome-cafeteria dept.

Earth 122

theodp writes "Two more software products will be going to Google Software Heaven shortly. On Friday, Google issued a death certificate for Google Health (date of death = Jan. 1, 2012), and added that the lights will go out on Google PowerMeter on Sep. 16, 2011. 'We've observed that Google Health is not having the broad impact that we hoped it would,' said Google. 'There has been adoption among certain groups of users like tech-savvy patients and their caregivers, and more recently fitness and wellness enthusiasts. But we haven't found a way to translate that limited usage into widespread adoption in the daily health routines of millions of people.' Regarding PowerMeter, Google's 'Green Energy Czar' had this to say: 'We're pleased that PowerMeter has helped demonstrate the importance of this access and created something of a model. However, our efforts have not scaled as quickly as we would like, so we are retiring the service.' Google added that the White House will carry on the fight after being inspired by success stories like the Harker School (tuition: $36,435), which used grant money to acquire off-the-shelf sub-metering technology that revealed their energy bill could be reduced by not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am."

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122 comments

"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (4, Insightful)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569170)

The fact that people need software to tell them this would save money is sad indeed.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569238)

Most likely the administrators had no idea that the gymn was being air conditioned from 9pm to 3am until the analysis was done.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (3, Insightful)

myurr (468709) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569272)

And a quick walk around the school after it had shut wouldn't have let them discover this without the need for expensive analysis!?

Part of the problem with most managers is that they seem to refuse to go anywhere near the coalface and subsequently rely on spreadsheets and numbers for managing their business. Spending a few days every now and then actually experiencing the business first hand would leave them far better informed and help them become better managers.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (2, Interesting)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569322)

Or maybe they walk into the gym, notice that the floors need cleaning up, send someone after one of the bleacher supports that has collapsed, and make a mental note to take down and dry clean the banners once the school year is over.

When you're responsible for everything, sometimes it is helpful to have people who are only responsible for specific things. Otherwise they slip through the cracks.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570080)

What you described is precisely what happens. When you're not just the Mayor of Sim City, in the real world there are real limitations to what is actually done, especially by organizations large enough to own buildings. We're lucky that it turns out that most of our current energy problems can be solved by just better organization, clearer information, and explicit adoption of people who tell us about our behavior compared to what's achievable.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569514)

And a quick walk around the school after it had shut wouldn't have let them discover this without the need for expensive analysis!?

Are you really finding this that confusing? Think about the times. 9pm to 3am. No, stop, THINK. Do you notice anything about that range? Almost certainly the air conditioning had been programmed to run between 9am to 3pm and had accidentally been set to also do so from 9pm to 3am. If you wandered around and did a check at 4pm there would be no air conditioning. Same at 5, same at 6, same at 7... are you getting the idea yet? Hey, how about if you checked at 7 am? Wow, no air conditioning. So do you think, just try to use your imagination here, do you think there might be a remote chance that an administrator could be conscientiously inspecting areas after an before school hours and yet not realise that the air conditioning comes on at 9pm and runs until 3pm? Any idea?

Wait, no, let's bash them without having a clue what's going on.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569722)

The article on the subject never says that the programming was *set* for 9pm-3am specifically so there's a good possibility that the cooling was set from 9am-3am and that nobody had noticed that it didn't turn itself off at 9pm when the place closed. I know that our local gym won't turn the A/C off until everyone has left since people produce heat and enough people present in the gym will make it quite warm in minutes so this makes quite a bit more sense than your scenario. Perhaps you should stop...THINK.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570100)

No, that scenario is correct. "Accidentally setting it to run 9PM-3PM" happens because the systems were installed before anyone considered conserving, when the building takes hours to preheat in the morning. So there was no timer, no indoor/outdoor thermostat, nothing. I work for a company that installs systems like that, and the scenario described here is overwhelmingly typical.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569596)

Hey! That would be a good idea for a TV show... A boss could go "undercover" [cbs.com] in their own operation to see how things really work and find out what caliber of employees currently represent the company.
Doing it with middle management would not help as they would simply be looking to glorify themselves or cover their asses.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

lxs (131946) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570002)

The BBC used to have a show just like that called Back to the Floor. [wikipedia.org]

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (4, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569742)

And part of the problem is lay people going 'Durr, its obvious' Balancing an HVAC system is not as obvious as you make it out to be.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570954)

And a quick walk around the school after it had shut wouldn't have let them discover this without the need for expensive analysis!?

Someone did this at work, and left a mini chocolate bar on the keyboard of everyone who'd shut down their computer :-)

Sometimes all these things need is the staff being told it's encouraged (or required) to switch things off; not just computers, but printers, the coffee machine and the lights.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36573242)

If you did that at my employer, you'd be reprimanded. After business hours are when scans are run and when software and updates are pushed. Turning your PC off means those things don't get done. Not to mention power cycling is when components fail.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#36571752)

And a quick walk around the school after it had shut wouldn't have let them discover this without the need for expensive analysis!?

Sure - quick walks around the gym, between the hours of 9pm and 3am, when no one is there. Its cool how a quick walk allows one to know things they otherwise wouldn't know.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (-1, Offtopic)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569264)

Isn't that when the kids are using it, exercising and needing to be kept cool the most? Isn't that why it has air conditioning in the first place?

I imagine the inner monologue: "Hmmm, this piece of equipment is most expensive when it's being used for the purpose it was intended for, rather than just idling. Obviously, we must stop using it for this purpose."

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (2)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569292)

Oh, my bad - I misread "9 pm to 3 am" as "9 am to 3 pm"

Please ignore and mod appropriately.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569302)

Um, no. Normally, people work out and attend school during the day. 9PM to 3AM is very much night, and encompasses the pit of midnight.

In case you are confused, this is not a school for vampires.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569306)

The kids use the gym from 9pm to 3am? Really? I thought they'd be sleeping by then :D

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569452)

Possibly from 9pm to 3am the gym is used by geeks for LAN parties. Which would mean more need of air condition, due to the high concentration of overclocked computers ...

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569340)

Maybe things are different in Bangladesh, but in the rest of the world, 9:00 pm local time is considered the evening. 3:00 am , on the other hand, is considered the night.

Most students don't attend school at night. They usually attend school during the day, often between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:00 pm .

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569500)

Of course in most of the world there is no am or pm at all, and the time would be given as 21:00 to 3:00, leaving little room for misunderstanding.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569370)

Don't worry - Google have a service just for people like you - it's called 'Google Douche'

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (2)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569270)

The fact that people need software to tell them this would save money is sad indeed.

Not just software but on top of +36K/yr tuition they needed additional grant money to figure it out.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569394)

There's a certain limit of diminishing returns where it'll take more energy to cool down after a period of letting it heat up than to just keep it cool.

Maybe switching the AC to 80 instead of 'off' would have saved the most energy.It's not as cut and dried as "turn off the AC"

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569464)

The sun has already set by 9PM. It's not like a gym in Northern California would heat up all that much during the time the air is off.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570114)

What you describe is false.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36571766)

You're right that the total energy required can't possibly be less from having the AC on all night. It is possible though, that it may be less expensive, depending on how the electricity is metered. It's probably not the case here, but power companies definitely do give price breaks during off hours to heavy industrial users. It makes sense for the power company because it is more efficient to run a power plant at a constant predictable output than to ramp it up and down over the day/night cycle.

For (a convenient) example, suppose:
- Electricity costs $0.05/kWh from 9pm to 3am, and $0.10/kWh from 3am to 9pm.
- It takes 20 kWh of electricity to keep the gym at 72 F overnight
- Without AC, the temperature will rise to 80 F overnight, and require an additional 15 kWh of energy in the morning to cool to 72 F beyond the energy required to maintain the temperature at 72 F.

If all that happened to be true, then leaving the AC on overnight would cost $1.00/day, while turning it off would cost $1.50/day.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36570192)

There's a certain limit of diminishing returns where it'll take more energy to cool down after a period of letting it heat up than to just keep it cool.

Maybe switching the AC to 80 instead of 'off' would have saved the most energy.It's not as cut and dried as "turn off the AC"

What are the reasons for the diminishing returns? Just considering it using a simple physics model indicates that there is no diminishing returns at all. Alternatively, as a thought experiment, consider the case where the AC is off for 3 weeks and then turned on for a week. Does that take the anywhere near the same amount of energy as leaving it on during the 4 weeks? I'd expect that the answer is no. In fact, I'd say that leaving the AC off for an arbitrary period of time and then running it for a week would use the about same amount of energy as a comparable time period when running the AC continuously.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 3 years ago | (#36571456)

You can't just extend the timescale like that. The mechanics of almost everything we make have a peak beyond which you lose efficiency. Via time-honoured car analogy: find the velocity of peak efficiency of your car. Say 70kph. Is it more efficient to travel to your destination, which is 70km, and which you arrive at 1 hour later, driving at a constant 70kph, or in fits and starts of 140kph and 0kph (engine completely off, not even idling)? Okay, well, what if you took two hours and then traveled at 70km for the first hour and idled at the end? Scaling out time doesn't make a reasonable analogy.

The A/C is basically going to take a constant amount of time to go from the non-A/C temperature to the steady-state A/C temperature (assuming a constant outdoor temperature for simplicity), and during that time it's running less efficiently because the increasing temperature differentials by a non-infinitesimal amount is not a reversible process, so even the idealised process is inherently inefficient. Furthermore, it's a machine, not an idealism, and most machines tend to be less efficient when working at max capacity. The more often you turn it on and off, the more time in aggregate is being spent in this less efficient state. On the flip side, of course, you're not using any energy at all when it's off, so more time is being spent in a state of ultimate efficiency as well.

Where the optimal point is, I don't know exactly and it certainly depends on the characteristics of your air conditioning, your building, outside temperature, goal temperature inside, time spans you need to reach this goal temperature, tolerances, etc. I fully expect that 6 hours without air conditioning will outweigh a relatively short period of initial cooling.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

tengwar (600847) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570976)

No, there is no such point of diminishing returns. If you know a little calculus, you can prove this to yourself.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572538)

In terms of energy usage you are correct, but in terms of energy cost not necessarily. It depends on when electricity is cheap in the local market. I'll admit that in this case it is unlikely to cost more as 3am - 6am is probably has about the lowest electricity usage during the summer. If we are using electric to heat the gym instead of cooling it however this may not be true - cold nights might result in higher energy usage than during daytime and if the temperature gradient is steep enough, auxiliary heat, which is less efficient might be needed.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36571452)

it'll take more energy to cool down after a period of letting it heat up than to just keep it cool

So many kids today don't learn basic physics... To quote Homer, "In this house, we obey the Laws of Thermodynamics!"

Even sadder... (2)

denzacar (181829) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569428)

They didn't just use software - girls bought couple of thousands of dollars worth of smart meters [wikipedia.org] from their... umm... sponsors? Mentors?
What do you call that when a company helps you earn a grant, which you then spend at the said company, earning further contracts to the company with a bonus of international promotion through UNICEF?

http://issuu.com/theharkerschool/docs/harker_quarterly [issuu.com]

âoeHarkerâ(TM)s going to continue to support the philosophy of green thinking, to create buildings that have a warm and open environment, and weâ(TM)ll continue to seek out the very best products to promote the sustainability of our planet in future construction projects.â
â" Mike Bassoni

In early December. Zhuâ(TM)s application emphasized incentivizing investment in sustainable energies such as solar, wind and geothermal power, and modernizing electricity grids worldwide. âoeItâ(TM)s important to get as much information about climate change policy out there as possible, as it has a major impact now and will have an even bigger one on future generations,â said Zhu.

Priya Bhikha, Gr. 12, And a team of upper school students are preparing a segment for Harkerâ(TM)s 2010 fashion show, with clothes made out of recycled materials. Bhikha has put out a call to all three campuses to help supply her with plastic bags, soda can tabs, paper clips, coffee filters, cds, drinking straws and more to make her recycled fashions.

Shreya Indukuri and Daniela Lapidous, both Gr. 10, Took it upon themselves to apply for a grant to improve Harkerâ(TM)s energy efficiency.
The girls, with the help of Valence Energy, successfully earned a $5,500 environmental grant, allowing Valance to install smart meters, devices for monitoring energy use, at the lower school campus. They also hope to apply some of the grant money towards an organic garden and window-insulating film at the upper school, and plans are underway to install smart meters at that campus, as well. This fall the pair attended the Governorsâ(TM) Global Climate Summit in Los Angeles as two of 25 climate youth leaders; they presented their findings to the assembly and enjoyed an audience with Gov. Schwarzenegger. Unicef picked up on the girlsâ(TM) story from there, and sent a camera crew from New York in October to interview them for a documentary on youth activism.

âoeIf we donâ(TM)t do anything about [global warming] now, weâ(TM)ll really regret it in the future and history will label us as the generation who sat back and watched the world go up in flames. People will either be part of the problem or part of the solution, and it will take an extremely grueling period of effort by a lot of people to come up with even a fraction of a solution, but every contribution counts. We know the work is hard, and it does seem rather intimidating, but weâ(TM)re just taking it one baby step at a time,â said Lapidous.

A gold, green building? Students ready to effect change? A strong history of environmental awareness that will continue long into the future? Check.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (2)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569474)

I go to the gym at 2am, you insensitive clod!

Ok, ok, I lied.

I don't even know what a gym is.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570146)

I don't even know what a gym is.

Gym is short for gymnasium. It's a German word, describing an academically focused secondary school, similar to the old British grammar schools, or US prep schools. Hope that helps. [wikimedia.org]

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36570344)

Gymnasium is not a German word. It's a Latin word used in Germany.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

index0 (1868500) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569510)

I'm imagining the situation was this ...
Someone set the AC to be on from 9am to 3pm (but really set it to 9pm to 3am) and next day tried setting it again, this time correctly but with both time periods set.

Because it doesn't. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569564)

All modern buildings have been designed in such a way that they require 24/7 air ventilation or they will start developing problems with mold and humidity. That's mostly because they don't leak any air naturally like the old buildings did. So, schools turning off ventilation will end up very fast rebuilding the whole building. That's not "saving money" in my book.

Re:Because it doesn't. (1, Informative)

jmottram08 (1886654) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569616)

This is completely false. Houses were built this way in the early 80s, but it was RAPIDLY found that this led to problems and ALL modern construction for the last 20 years has been for "breathable" buildings.

Really. Parent is 100% wrong

Re:Because it doesn't. (5, Informative)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570128)

No, airsealing buildings to retain heat (or keep cool) and maintain humidity has been probably the highest priority of both new buildings and retrofit for at least a decade. "Breathable" buildings are energy inefficient. Preventing mold with the minimum mechanical ventilation and proper materials in construction is much cheaper and effective over a building's operational life. You are the one who is 100% wrong, at least in the modern construction era.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569572)

Pretty obvious, but not necessary correct. It might use less power if you cool down ie 5 degrees for 24/7 that having to cool 20 degrees for 18/7...

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

jmottram08 (1886654) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569654)

. . . . so during the day when its 90, you cool it to 85, as opposed to cooling it to 70? Your post is retarded.

What you meant to say is that Cooling it slowly for 2 hours may be more efficient that quickly for 1, but you failed to even read the summary where it states they resume cooling it at 3, to meet a 7ish deadline when students arrive. If the air cant cool a space in 4 hours, at night, then it will have huge problems maintaining a decent temp during the day.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (5, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569686)

The fact that people need software to tell them this would save money is sad indeed.

Not really, because I'd probably turn the AC back on at 5AM. I wouldn't necessarily know that the marginal savings of keeping it off between 3AM and 5AM are so small that I'd might as well make the gym comfortable for early morning users. Likewise, I might turn the gym AC off at 11PM, not realizing that the gym wouldn't warm up enough to affect the people working out after 10PM.

So by turning the AC off between 9pm and 3am instead between 11pm and 5am, hypothetically I might be keeping the gym more comfortable for the users while using less energy, even though the AC runs the same number of hours.

How about instant-on electronics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569776)

Talk about low-hanging fruit. I bet we could save megawatts nationwide by slapping a surtax on consumer electronics that can instantly awaken via remote control.

Re:"not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am" (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570064)

Sad, but true.

US Energy Group [use-group.com] has installed Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS) in thousands of NYC buildings, including public schools (tuition: $0). In one school, indeed the entire large building (1000 students + staff) was being heated 5PM-8AM just to keep the gym heated (through its high ceilings, with people exercising) until the BEMS showed it to the Department of Education. Yet practically all of the NYC buildings' owners refuse to consider buying a BEMS unless the payback time is under 3 years, usually under a year. 10-25% ROI is dismissed, even as no other investment can bring even a good chance of that return. While utility inflation guarantees it will be even higher ROI, especially over longer than a few years.

Even among the most notorious moneygrubbers, NYC landlords, it takes a law like NYC LL84 [nyc.gov] to force everyone to even count up how much they're consuming in energy every year. Energy efficiency consciousness in the US is so primitive that these ubercapitalists must be forced by the public to look at how much they're consuming, let alone how much they can save by doing some of the very many things that pay for themselves promptly.

No doubt (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569182)

Google wouLD Suceeed in everything if it werent for the Chinese ZTrotskyite fascist Italians who are undemining our Manhood as Americans with their homo-reotic Catholi propaganda.

Re:No doubt (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569522)

What does GLDSCZTMAC mean?

So THAT'S what we're spending our money on. (2)

Restil (31903) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569202)

A school of all places required a federal grant to find out that turning off the air conditioning saves money? Anyone who's ever paid an electric bill can figure that out pretty quickly all on their own.

-Restil

Re:So THAT'S what we're spending our money on. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569716)

And anyone who can read could figure out who is posting, you don't have to sign your posts.

Re:So THAT'S what we're spending our money on. (3, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570144)

Except they don't. Nearly all buildings are inefficient in ways that are fairly cheap and simple to fix, once the specific problem is identified. Very few of them are identified. The efficiency upgrade industry should be 100x larger, but most people are ignorant, inefficient, and even smug about it.

Re:So THAT'S what we're spending our money on. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570828)

the power bill doesn't tell you as much as having by hour stats of the power use. however, this tells just how much google cares about power users: they don't, if a service doesn't fit everyone, picking up millions of users in exponential fashion, they'll axe it. it's like mom'n'pop web outfits are more reliable, which is ridiculous. never mind that such power and health stuff actually would need years of use to show if it was good and had lasting appeal.

Ummm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569284)

As an avid Google Fanboi, who uses a great deal of their products, I have NEVER heard of these.

Perpahps that has something to do with their low adoption.

There's a Google Health? (4, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569286)

First I'd heard of it. Maybe I've been living under a Google Rock, but you'd think a company that specializes in advertising could Google Tell People About This Thing better.

Re:There's a Google Health? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569314)

Power meter would've been interesting to see what power "vampires" were doing (things that are always on like DVRs, rechargers, etc). Too bad I never heard about it until now.

Re:There's a Google Health? (1)

EdgeCreeper (1618161) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569366)

Same here. No wonder it isn't having much impact.

Re:There's a Google Health? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569438)

This is the first I've heard of either of these apps as well.

Re:There's a Google Health? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569544)

I just found about it this week when I had some labs done. Quest Diagnostics allows you to access your results online - but you need to sign up with an Online Health Something Something - Google Health being one of them.

I was actually considering signing up...

Re:There's a Google Health? (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569592)

While I've never heard about Google Health elsewhere, I definitively have seen it mentioned [slashdot.org] several [slashdot.org] times [slashdot.org] on [slashdot.org] Slashdot. [slashdot.org]

Re:There's a Google Health? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569890)

Well, I have one of the most prolific posting histories on slashdot, and I've never heard of it either. Perhaps if a link had been displayed prominently (or fuck, just displayed) someplace on google.com then I would have visited it.

Either whoever is actually in charge wanted this to fail, or they are just incompetent schmucks.

Re:There's a Google Health? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572596)

There's also an alternative, that I bet you have never heard about either: www.healthvault.com

Our healthcare is f*cked. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569386)

I actually had high hopes for Google Health being able to improve one little corner of an otherwise broken system. I should have known better though. Our healthcare system in this country is beyond repair at this point. We need to gut the entire system and rebuild it, but unfortunately politics and people's lingering fascination with private insurance companies will prevent it until we completely meltdown.

Recent case in point - I went to the doctor a month ago for some antibiotics - total cost TO ME (insurance picked up more) = $758. I could have purchased a plane ticket to Costa Rica, a couple nights in San Jose, and the medication cheaper than my visit to the local clinic.

Re:Our healthcare is f*cked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569476)

Why didn't you do that then? I go to India whenever I need to get my teeth checked, I get the additional advantage of being able to meet mum and dad.

Re:Our healthcare is f*cked. (0)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569512)

I went to the doctor a month ago for some antibiotics - total cost TO ME (insurance picked up more) = $758. I could have purchased a plane ticket to Costa Rica, a couple nights in San Jose, and the medication cheaper than my visit to the local clinic.

This assumes you were fit to travel and the Costa Rican drugs would have been of the same quality.

Re:Our healthcare is f*cked. (0)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569546)

Maybe if you didn't go to Costa Rica for sex with shemale prostitutes, you wouldn't have needed those antibiotics.

Re:Our healthcare is f*cked. (2)

jmottram08 (1886654) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569666)

There is NO way that a simple doctor visit cost over 700. There must have been tests involved, or you are the stupidest consumer in the world to pay that much for a routine doctor visit.

Re:Our healthcare is f*cked. (1)

belthize (990217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569684)

What kind of insurance and antibiotics results in a $758 co-pay. Amoxicillan costs like $70 for a 30 day 125Mg tablets.

Re:Our healthcare is f*cked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569844)

$70.00? Where in the hell do you live? If nothing else, go down to your local mega chain superstore and pick the prescription up for $4.00. In fact, I just called my local Walgreens. $12.00 at the most, plus local sales tax.

Re:Our healthcare is f*cked. (1)

melchoir55 (218842) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569704)

I actually had high hopes for Google Health being able to improve one little corner of an otherwise broken system. I should have known better though. Our healthcare system in this country is beyond repair at this point. We need to gut the entire system and rebuild it, but unfortunately politics and people's lingering fascination with private insurance companies will prevent it until we completely meltdown.

Recent case in point - I went to the doctor a month ago for some antibiotics - total cost TO ME (insurance picked up more) = $758. I could have purchased a plane ticket to Costa Rica, a couple nights in San Jose, and the medication cheaper than my visit to the local clinic.

Either you may be willing to buy this bridge I have for sale in London, or that "doctor's visit" included specialist work such as a CT scan... or a scope. I'm not saying our system isn't in awful shape, but over $1500 for a doc and antibiotics? I don't have insurance and did this exact thing two months ago (turns out I had bronchitis). It cost me about $200 total. Including the price of the meds.

Re:Our healthcare is f*cked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36571030)

A doc visit and antibiotics shouldn't cost $50, much less $200. If the doc sees thirty patients a day at $30/visit, he's grossing $4500/week. A batch of penicillin ought to be less than $20: hell, famers routinely give their livestock antibiotics that are potent and effective (and that create all sorts of problems down the road, like resistant bacteria). That you're paying $200 for a doc and meds means that there is way too much greed in the system—middlemen, collusive price gouging, arrogant levels of profit, etc.

Facebook Health (2)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569732)

"I actually had high hopes for Google Health"

Don't worry! Facebook has created a better one! You can also friend the prostitute you've got the STDs from.

Re:Our healthcare is f*cked. (1)

harvey the nerd (582806) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569866)

"Our healthcare is f*cked. Yes, almost totally.

Outside the US, one can get reasonable quality generic 500 mg amoxicillin caps for under $5 per box of 100, individually sealed. A visit with an english speaking doctor in an HMO might cost $6 - $10, cash.

Re:Our healthcare is f*cked. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570126)

All that is true here too but more and more employers are dropping HMO and you can only get PPO with co-pays ranging from 50 bucks to 25 percent... that I've seen. Surely there are outliers even further from the center. The last full-time job I had came with one option for insurance, period, and it was a shitty PPO plan with a big co-pay and ZERO doctors accepting new patients in my county. That's right, a PPO where they have to be on your plan.

Re:Our healthcare is f*cked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36570796)

Because of required insurance.

Yep thats it. Anyone with a full time job and works at a big enough company has the option of healthcare that is relatively cheap for them.

But current count that is about 40% of the US population. That are covered.

There is too much money in the system and not enough quality competition. Or there may be enough but there are quite a large number of not so good doctors out there. I can not tell you the number of times I have heard family and friends talking about misdiagnosis. Even known a few that have died because the doctor couldnt be assed to come by and prescribe a antibiotic for a raging infection. Because they were too busy making sure someone with better insurance had 20 things on their sheet of paper to have done.

This sort of thing has the effect of creating the demand of a 5 dollar doctor at 1000 dollar rates. So those who do not have insurance can not afford it.

Oh there are those out there that care. However, they seem to be rare.

The whole problem is a giant CF because the gov got into it in the first place. Now they are making it worse. In 10-15 years no one will be able to afford healthcare in this country but the gov.

Re:Our healthcare is f*cked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569948)

Maybe it's not the system that needs an overhaul but the way we think of our health that needs an overhaul. Not that I'm not guilty of this but too many of us wink at prevention. We keep doing all kinds of things to ourselves and expect a fix. We treat conditions today that would have been considered terminal even a decade or two ago. we keep demanding better but seemingly don't want to pay for better.
 
I wish these people who talked about how great the healthcare system worked in the 60s-70s-80s would be forced to get 60s-70s-80s treatment and find out how great it really was. Sure, it was cheap but you really didn't get out of it what you get today. Not by a long shot.

Re:Our healthcare is f*cked. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36572450)

Yeah, you can't have better stuff today for cheaper than it was a few decades ago! That's why I expect to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a phone that fits in my pocket with processing more powerful than a room-sized super computer from the 70s. Or why the LED monitor on my desk costs more than the first TV my parents bought when they got their first house; oh, wait, it didn't. The nature of U.S. style capitalism is that things get better and cheaper all the time.

Maybe we can look at the middlemen who need to show ever increasing income and profits from a captive audience as one reason why health care doesn't seem to be following the same path as other societal improvements since the cold war.

You are right, we should pay more attention to prevention. But, yeah, that costs money, too. And too many health insurers in the U.S. won't cover those expenses, either, considering it more profitable to handle the problems later or simply dropping coverage if things get too bad.

Not surprising (4, Funny)

redemtionboy (890616) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569406)

So the things people cared the least about in Google's wide spectrum of services were health and energy? We're doomed.

Just Tried Google Health... (1)

EdgeCreeper (1618161) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569460)

And I don't see why I would want to send my personal medical information to Google. An application that never uploads the information would be much better.

Re:Just Tried Google Health... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569618)

You may be missing the point of having all that centralized data.
Data mining allows early detection of drug side effects - if 500 people come down with cancer because they were taking drug X and drug Y together, and they all have different doctors, how would anybody make the connection without being able to mine that data.
Alerts - if google health knew you were on drug X and drug Y, and it came to their knowledge there was something wrong with pairing them, they could warn you a lot faster than it would take your doctor to find out (assuming your doctor ever found out).
Emergency access - an ambulance brings in your unconscious body, it might take them a while to figure out that you were diabetic, allergic to iodine, etc.

Re:Just Tried Google Health... (3, Interesting)

AmigaHeretic (991368) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569870)

I actually used Google health along with members of my family.

Main use is each member has any list of medications and and importantly "Allergies".

I used to have a piece of paper in my wallet with this information, this was much more convenient to access from anywhere I needed. It was good for an emergency, any when in a medical office visit where you have to fill out some form, and honestly I can't remember all this crap at this age anymore.

It really is handy. More convient then scratching things off a piece of paper and updating it. Now I don't know how many people are in the medical industry, but there are lots of sites that are HIPAA Compliant that you can pay for, for this type of service, but Google was free and I could care less if the world knows about my Google logins allergies. The trade off was fine.

This however is just another straw in the "Cloud" coffin.


I think something like Opera Unite is much more interesting (The implementation is far from perfect), but an easy users side "Server" with plug-in blocks that can have 100s of mini servers serving anything--- WhiteBoard server, Web server, Music server, Video Server, Medical server, PostIt Note server, etc....

No, Opera Unite, does not go through Opera.com. It can use a DynDns style url for easy access through opera.com, but you can access it directly through your IP and port #. Again, just the concept I think is more interesting anyway then the cloud. Any easy server, with "plug any anything" server modules.

Brilliant! (0)

jamesl (106902) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569578)

... their energy bill could be reduced by not air conditioning the gym from 9pm-3am.

And my head will stop hurting if I stop beating it against the wall.

Re:Brilliant! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36569726)

Are you sure? I just tried and my head is still sore.

Translation (2, Interesting)

rampant mac (561036) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569586)

"But we haven't found a way to translate that limited usage into widespread adoption in the daily health routines of millions of people.

We're not rolling around in money from all you fitness freaks while we quietly try to sell your soul to advertisers.

Two reasons why these services died (1, Insightful)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569628)

Money... and money

google didn't help (3, Interesting)

gargeug (1712454) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569736)

I was working on a metering device for residential solar arrays and attempted to contact google about the technical aspects to link our product easily with google's powermeter, as it was just getting going. They never got back to me or showed any interest in getting some products to adopt the technology. Seems to me they lost it on their own...

Re:google didn't help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36570914)

They googled the information you were looking for but could not find it.

Google is an engineering oriented company. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36569946)

It *thinks* like an engineer. As a result it makes a lot of amazing products but these products sometimes fail to address user concerns when Google judges those concerns to be unimportant. It also doesn't put much effort into explaining the benefits of its products. Engineers generally treat marketing (or any other non-engineering discipline) with contempt, even when they understand it can be more than crafting deceptive advertising. Gogle does remarkably little traditional marketing for a company its size, and treats its products largely as self-evident choices for users that will spread by word of mouth. That's *efficient*, but not necessarily *effective*.

Example: search. Of course there's all the wizardry behind the search results, but the startling thing to the user back in '99 was how spare the search UI was after getting used to the clutter of Yahoo. Brin and Page clearly asked, "how much of this stuff is unnecessary?" That's engineering thinking at its finest. Henry Ford once remarked that the most beautiful things in the world were those from which all excess weight was removed.

Example: Gmail. Great product, works well, but my wife *still* gripes about not being able to sort her inbox. The Google answer to that is you don't really have to, that search is a better way to do this. My answer to that is, who makes you the fricken' judge of what is better? Sorting is how many users *think* about the task, and the fact that even after years of using it Gmail's alternative feels alien to users should tell them something. But it doesn't.

Same goes for calendar by the way. It took them forever to create a "to do" feature, and still tasks are a second class citizen. You can't use them on your Android phone, for example. This is typical of the worst of engineering thinking. Once an engineer decides something is irrelevant, he won't change his mind unless you show him incontrovertible hard data. That's hard to get in the usability field.

Example: Wave. The product that might have changed the world but for the fact that apparently nobody at Google's job description included explaining what it did. And so the world is mired in badly designed social media crap services like Facebook, and doesn't have an affordable Internet based system for cooperative work that can scale from ad hoc to enterprise.

Google is clearly an agile company where an idea can take off without the dead hand of management vision strangling it in the cradle. But then those ideas reach a tantalizingly close to product stage and die, because that's as far as an idea can go without the rest of the company getting behind it. At the very least products usually need marketing investment, not only to promote and explain them to customers, but to explain customers to project leaders.

Re:Google is an engineering oriented company. (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570172)

How about describing how "thinking like an engineer" specifically doomed Google Health and Power Meter? Those are the subject of this story. It's hard to even think about the examples you gave within the context of the facts we're actually talking about.

Re:Google is an engineering oriented company. (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570574)

How about describing how "thinking like an engineer" specifically doomed Google Health and Power Meter? Those are the subject of this story. It's hard to even think about the examples you gave within the context of the facts we're actually talking about.

Because at least with Power Meter, there was very little ability to communicate with anyone about how to use it, how to fix it, how to expand it, how to benefit from it. Just sat in it's corner like a nice little piece of software. Kinda like an engineer hacking at something, getting it to work more or less then wandering off on another project. Unpolished. Unknown.

That's great if you're the engineer trying to find a solution to a particular problem and then move on. If you are marketing a 'service' to people, this method just drops the ball. Of course, we are not privy to any of the back room discussions about the products. It may well have come down to 'nice idea, how does it make money?' with the subsequent realization that it won't and hence support is cut off. Unfortunately, Google's recent MO seems to be tossing out a number of essentially unrelated software products to see what sticks. And few have. Quite likely the next time Google Labs comes up with something, I'll just ignore it.

Google Body [googlelabs.com] is another project that seems to work along these lines. A nice idea, unclear financial viability, little to no marketing, little to no upgrades. Basic functionality but no polish. I suspect it will get canned somewhere down the line.

Re:Google is an engineering oriented company. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36572924)

Simple. As indispensable as engineering know-how is, it doesn't include formal training in two critical tasks that weren't done in the case of Health, Power Meter, and all the other examples I mentioned.

(1) Developing a model of market needs that can be used to rationally guide product development. Granted, marketing guys aren't very good at this either, but at least they know that it's part of the job. Engineers probably could get good at this if they understood it as part of the design process, since analyzing systems and developing models are things that come naturally to a good engineer.

(2) Developing a communication campaign which gets the attention of likely users and gives them at least one compelling reason to choose the product. This is probably harder for engineers *because* analysis comes so naturally to them. Although everybody *should* be able to think analytically like an engineer, not everyone can.

Roughly speaking, these two questions boil down to two head scratching questions. Why did they build *this* bizarre product? If that is the poser, then nobody bothered to understand the market's needs, which is normally outside the engineer's purview. Why couldn't they get this *useful* product in the hands of people who need it? If that is the mystery, then nobody figured out how to explain the product, which is *also* not usually the engineer's responsibility. These two questions seem to be the ones that have people stumped on Health and Power Meter. Who would use this thing? Why didn't people see how useful this is?

But I'll admit that what I should really have said wasn't "thinking like an engineer", because of course an engineer could learn to do marketing. I should have said "looking at the big picture including the kinds of issues that aren't part of an engineer's training." That'd be more precise, but less pithy.

Re:Google is an engineering oriented company. (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570588)

This is typical of the worst of engineering thinking. Once an engineer decides something is irrelevant, he won't change his mind unless you show him incontrovertible hard data. That's hard to get in the usability field.

Wow, you've just described - in spades - most of my experiences when filing (or adding to) bugs against Google Chrome. The typical Google response has been simply "we're not going to do that, closing the ticket". No explanations, no acknowledgement even of the reasoning offered by the submitter (e.g. they don't say "we don't think that's the right approach"). It's why I ended up sticking with Firefox, despite how maddening Mozilla can be at times.

Re:Google is an engineering oriented company. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36571700)

Which is not to say that a human being an engineer isn't capable of giving great customer service, or leading the way on issues of usability and practicality.

In defense of engineers, non-engineers seem to have no idea how much more it costs to *change* a requirement than to state it up front. Furthermore non-engineers seem unable to grasp the principle that some things have to wait for others; that the change that was out of the question last quarter might be easy to do this quarter. They often don't believe you when you say this is because you've done the laborious spadework to make the new changes possible. Some will conclude you must have been goldbricking, *because they have no fricken' idea how hard it is to do things right*.

So as an engineer, you develop what I call the "Dr. No" persona. You learn to say "no" in the way that makes the asker feel like an asshole for asking. It wouldn't feel necessary to do that if you weren't plagued by so many assholes who won't take "no" for an answer unless they're treated like the assholes they are. It's a short skip and a hop from that to treating every non-engineer who has something to say like an asshole, and that is a bad habit.

I'd say every engineer needs to have "Dr. No" in his toolbox, but should not get in the habit of using him on everyone.

Google What? (2)

chuckugly (2030942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570142)

If I'd even heard of this product i would have tried it, Google.

Google Health? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36570376)

Give an advertising company your health records? What could possibly go wrong?

Hey Google, you could create nano-molecular adverts that could be embedded in everybody and everything. Think of the advertising revenue.

As a user of Google PowerMeter (2)

toonces33 (841696) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570712)

I must say that I am disappointed. We have the TED 5000 at home, which lets me monitor electricity usage in realtime - the Google PowerMeter is an addon to that product which let me view the information from the web, which in a sense was more of a gimmick than anything else. I suppose in the long run it won't matter all *that* much to me.

Yeah, it is easy to tell someone to turn off the AC (but those who say this probably aren't married). But optimizing things so that AC is only used when people are home is a trickier issue, and for that matter it is also the case that not all electricity is used by the AC compressor.

eHealth sucks and can be dangerous (2, Interesting)

Chewbacon (797801) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570718)

I'm a registered nurse by day. I've seen my employer and other hospitals adopt electronic methods for charting, care planning, and most recently medication reconciliation. These are still new grounds that is littered with startups. Our new med rec system flaunts a feature allowing us to pull a patients current prescriptions and allergies from only a handful of major pharmacies. It's an absolute mess as the information providers often contradict each other. There is no common standard or sandbox and it has gotten so bad sadly even the almighty Google cannot survive it. I can see it as a good business venture, yet so many hands in the pot (many are companies with no healthcare experience) makes it a hazard to patients. Some of those hazards are prevented by people like myself. I am sad to see it go down hill for Google, I was hoping this was something they'd end up taking charge of and making consistent.

Software heaven? (1)

DemonGenius (2247652) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570784)

If such a thing were to exist then there might very well be software hell. Were I a more religious person, I might add that the heaven/hell admission ratio for software would be strikingly similar to that of people... and that's being very generous to people.

Worrisome (1)

Gnulix (534608) | more than 3 years ago | (#36570850)

I get the feeling that one cannot trust Google and their services. They keep cutting them off after a while. Granted these were not the most used services, but still there has been quite a few services that has been cancelled over the year. Some services, such as Wave, didn't really get the chance to work. I think developers will be less likely to jump on board and start using new services/API:s when there is a chance that it will be cancelled within a short while :-(

Me too (1)

Superken7 (893292) | more than 3 years ago | (#36571130)

Me too, I am another "hardcore" google services user and I had NEVER EVER heard of anything like health, less even power meter.

Maybe that has something to do with why so few people were using it? It does not sound like the type of service that appeals to everyone, just to a few. If those few don't know of its existance, then very, very, very, very few people are going to use it. Its amazing that the blogpost does not mention how they should have done a better job at showing users that those services even existed.

It really amazes me how well they managed to hide Power Meter. Amazing.

Re:Me too (1)

jroysdon (201893) | more than 3 years ago | (#36571334)

The biggest problem is you really needed to have Power Company buy-in. The real way to get it moving was to have the Power Company send the info to Google (after the customer opted in). There are many problems with this. First this requires the Power Company to have Smart Meters, second to have a way to export this data to Google, and third, there are all sorts of laws and legal concerns the Power Company has to deal with regarding this. What do they gain? Little, and as we see with Google here, even if they jumped through all these hoops, it could all be shut down.

Now consumers could buy their own gadget and make all of their house run through it and send it to Google, but that is expensive and not convenient.

The real solution here is for the Power Company to publish the info for the customer to consume.

I'm not a Pacific Gas & Electric [pge.com] (a California utility company) electricity customer, but I know I can see my daily gas usage on their website. I suspect those that use them for electricity can do the same.

I know my employer, Modesto Irrigation District [mid.org] , a local water and electricity company, is working toward making this information available for rate payers with their electronic bill. This is the best long-term solution for customers as it is sustainable.

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