Archive for October, 2009

Premier Rio: First Drive

October 29, 2009

via

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If there was a space vacant in the Indian automotive sphere, here is a vehicle that will fit it like a glove. Adil Jal Darukhanawala grabs a first drive of the new mini-SUV from Premier Automobiles on its comeback trail


Yes that’s right, Rio is the name of the new mini-SUV which many car makers plain dumb ignored and it is here that an old venerable name from the motor manufacturing business hopes to reinvent itself. Let’s avoid the riddles and cut straight to the chase which in this case is of Premier Limited announcing its advent back as a speciality car maker in India.


Better known eons ago for its Premier Padminis and Fiat Unos plus the eminently forgettable Peugeot 304 which pulled the company down (or was it the other way around! – the jury is out on this count), Premier under the stewardship of Maitreya Doshi, grandson of Walchand Hirachand, has embarked on a whole new way to get back into a segment of industry which his family helped pioneer in this country.

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First the method behind the madness and here it seems that Maitreya Doshi after the highly publicized spat with long time partner Fiat used all his business acumen to monetize his real estate holdings in Mumbai and then re-invest this into his firm’s machine tool division at Chinchwad in Pune. This purely engineering-driven arm of the company began to specialize in cutting edge applications for heavy industry and has made not just a name for itself in its sphere of operation but has also managed to make the firm financially very sound. Apart from being shielded from the economical turmoil, the new business orientation also taught Premier to make do with less and this mantra has been put into place for a very lean automobile manufacturing unit at Chinchwad.

And the product with which Maitreya Doshi aims to get his firm rolling on our roads is unique as well. The basis of this vehicle, which will be sold under the Rio model name, is the Daihatsu Terios mini-SUV of late 1990s vintage. Built to the Japanese kei-jidosha class regulations which specify not just a maximum length but also the maximum width of a car to conform to very low tax rates, the new Premier Rio is a snug cozy compact small vehicle which with its very configuration has placed itself as the proverbial cat among the small car pigeons in the market!

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Rights to the Daihatsu Terios were sold to Chinese car maker Zotye Auto which marketed it as the Zotye Nomad and now Premier has done a deal whereby the entire car sans the drivetrain would be brought into India as a CKD unit. Premier has resurrected its old Peugeot TUD5 diesel engine, tweaked it and even changed cylinder dimensions to make it into an engine of its own making and this along with a 5-speed manual gearbox is what powers the Rio.

The Rio drives very well, is sprightly without being over the top, and can more than hold its own with all of the A-segment hatches as well as the entry level B-segmenters. While its looks may scream SUV, its makeup and delivery is more like the smaller hatches but with rear wheel drive and an upright dominating perch which is distinctive of large SUVs. In fact, as I have mentioned before as well, this was a niche there for the taking and everyone saw right through it. Of course if Premier doesn’t price the vehicle perfectly it might just score a self goal but then this was a car waiting to happen and Premier saw the opportunity.

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The Rio is decently sized and can accommodate four adults perfectly with a small child just about managing to squeeze itself on the rear bench. The seats are firm and well crafted while the trim, upholstery and dashboard are par for the course for a car obviously built to a price. The plastics are not bad either but due to the kei-jidosha regs the original Terios was designed to, the cockpit is much too snug for comfort, the driver?s right arm being pinned by the door pad which is literally breathing down on it. Even the pedals are quite close but with some adjustment and familiarity you can have the vehicle working for you quite easily.

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The performance is not shatteringly quick but is brisk provided you keep this diesel in its optimum torque band by being in the right gear as you motor through our hellish traffic situations. The ride is surprisingly good but you have to be gentle with your steering inputs for taking corners at speed is a mighty adventurous process given that the vehicle does roll somewhat thanks to its shortish wheelbase coupled to its narrow track. And yes the tyres must be mentioned. The ones on our preview vehicle were Chinese (Kenda Klever was emblazoned on the sidewalls) and Premier can do a world of good for the overall dynamics of the Rio just by the simple expedient of changing them to either MRFs or Apollos or Goodyears.

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Overall the Rio is barking mad but in an absolutely positive sense. It might be familiar to enthusiasts but to the masses it is a breath of fresh air. And yes the most important ingredient of all which a generation of Indian motorists hasn’t experienced is rear wheel drive in its truest essence. So if the ride is exhilarating and brings a flush on many faces, I wholly recommend you blame it on Premier?s Rio! In showrooms within the next month they say.

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Tata Indigo Manza: First Drive

October 16, 2009

via: http://www.zigwheels.com/Reviews/Tata-Indigo-Manza-First-Drive/Manza_20091014-1-6

Sleekly styled, very well built and turned out with a poise and presence which is right up there, the new multi-faceted Indigo Manza is sure to stir up the hornet’s nest which is the present day C-segment says Adil Jal Darukhanawala after an exclusive first drive

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If ever one needs reminding as to how effectively Tata Motors has progressed as a car maker, one only needs to sense, see and experience its newest products. From the time the Indica Vista appeared on our roads, the going seems to have changed completely. The ground-breaking Nano seemed to indicate a whole new paradigm shift for the automotive world but Tata Motors didn’t seem eager to step off the throttle pedal. And while a few yet seem to look at the Indian firm somewhat disparagingly, it is this determined drive which is so very indicative of an automobile firm eager to stand up and be counted in its peer group.

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The latest Indigo Manza sedan is yet more proof of the above. And lest someone suggest that it is but an Indica Vista with a boot, it would be doing India’s largest indigenous car maker and its latest product a huge disservice. The Indigo Manza is an all new sedan which like its Indo-Italian stablemate – the Fiat Linea, oozes grace and elegance and doesn’t look at all as if the boot has been grafted on in a tacky manner.

If anything, the Indigo Manza (Manza supposedly means a little steer or a beautiful girl, chose what you want to believe), comes across as probably one of the best looking cars in a segment full of high profile machines strong on style and turnout. The Fiat Linea we have already mentioned but in the C-segment the Manza has also to battle the likes of the Honda City, the Ford Fiesta, the Hyundai Verna, the Chevy Aveo and the Suzuki Swift D?Zire and in the battle for making the best first impression, the Tata product does have its nose ahead.

Design and Style

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It isn’t hard to realize this when you take in the Manza’s profile, the crisp clean lines running front to rear and with proportions of bonnet and boot strikingly elegant, the Indigo Manza is more of a handsome Indian hunk as compared to the chic Latino flair embodied by the Fiat Linea. Both these cars are built on the very same assembly line at Fiat India’s modern Ranjangaon facility (the duo share many aggregates and also reside in the same segment), so it isn’t hard to see what rubs off on each other. The Indigo Manza’s front end has a more pronounced assertion about it with a slightly more detailed grille (than on the Indica Vista) coupled to triple-barreled head lights on either side. The large air intake on the wrap around bumper is separated from the top part by a nifty chrome strip which works brilliantly with the same sort of separator strips on the sides and on the rear bumper as well.

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The crisp character streak just below the Manza’s belt line seems to hold every thing in lithe tenuous action and the sculpting around the A and C-pillars indicates a fresh characterful approach to the overall package. There is nothing tacky about the rear end of the car and the overall design is harmonious rather than contrived as in the case of many others who have grown into full blown saloons from the large hatchback originals. The Manza’s 2520mm wheelbase and its large 15-inch tyres help its stance and turnout. Credit Tata Motors’ European Technical Centre then, for the Manza’s clean yet pleasing design, making it seem ample yet agile rather than huge and unwieldy, both when stationary and also on the move.

Interiors

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However, open the doors and step into the interiors and you can sense that this car continues to pack in the “more car per car” Tata DNA. The cabin space of the Indigo Manza is abundantly huge and spacious while also being well thought out and crafted. The front seats (height adjustable for the driver with added lumbar support) are superbly sculpted and though I would have liked to see a bit more side support, the seats seem to hold a person well without tiring him out even after hours behind the wheel. Move on over to the rear seats and you have optimum rear seat comfort for a car in its class with abundant head, elbow and leg room. The ergonomics are perfect and the ease of ingress and egress at the rear will win many plaudits. The seat back angle and the H-points are areas where a great deal of thought has gone in to provide great occupant comfort.

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The Manza’s interior is simplistically done in a duo-tone shade of plastics and fabric, and for sure has the best cabin treatment of any Tata Motors’ product but the door latches are low rent in their turnout, the one jarring detail in a tastefully configured interior. The one major improvement over the Indica Vista, and a logical one at that is the instrument binnacle now being relocated at the straight ahead position in direct view of the driver’s vision and not housed in the top central console on the dashboard. The chunky four-spoke steering wheel has large horn pad and features audio controls on the top horizontal spokes. Switchgear is pretty contemporary and fantastic to feel and activate. More so the air con controls which are now electronic switches for the servo motors to actuate the flaps and not cable controlled as in earlier Tata cars. A 2-DIN music system is standard fitment even on the base Manza Aqua and overall the car comes well equipped to begin with while the top end versions (Aura, Aura (ABS) and Aura+) definitely a rung above every other car in the segment with their list of standard features.

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Engine and powertrain

While the turnout and the cabin treatment and ambiance might move many subconsciously, the get up and go department hasn’t been found wanting. Tata Motors is known for its diesel acumen and it is no different here as well. The Indigo Manza gets the next power-up treatment for the famed 1.3-litre 16-valve DOHC four-cylinder Quadrajet motor which is now rated at 90 PS of power at 4000rpm and with 200Nm of torque at its disposal in the rev band from 1750 to 3000rpm. The variable geometry turbocharger has a tendency to spool up pretty quickly and help propel this 1200kg sedan to very respectable speeds from rest in a clean unflustered manner. In fact the responsiveness of the Manza’s motor is distinctly superior to what the similarly-engined Fiat Linea is capable of. A zero to 100km/h time of 17.58 seconds is respectable as is the 163km/h top speed for this car which employs a 5-speed manual gearbox but what is truly impressive is to factor in the overall performance with fuel efficiency in view. A 13.5kmpl overall fuel efficiency in our first test indicates that the new Indigo Manza could be one hell of a performer to watch out in the C-segment.

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This isn’t to infer that Tata Motors has given up on petrol engines. Far from it, because the Indigo Manza now comes with a 90PS Safire engine having a swept volume of 1.4-litres. This unit hasn’t just got a hike in cubic capacity but comes with a couple of new technical features which include a continuous variable cam phaser which works with the new intelligent port resizing feature to help improve driveability and boost the resultant fuel efficiency. The petrol engine is peppy and responsive on its own and the five cogs are well suited to make the best of this revvy motor which develops 116Nm of torque.

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Ride quality and handling

Power, torque, driveability and fuel efficiency are nothing if they are not matched by good dynamic ability and here as well the Indigo Manza makes the smiles stay plastered on the driver’s face. It is no rabble rouser or a sports car but is a rapid all round family car with good ride quality backed up with easy neutral manners and good road holding and precise well weighted steering. Of course when on full song, the 200Nm of torque being fed through the two front wheels shod with 185/60 R15 tubeless radials is a tad too much and while the car yet handles brilliantly – credit this to optimum wheelbase to track ratio and also the weight distribution, I am sure that the car on 195/55 R15 tyres would have been even better while going on to 205s would have been the best. The Indigo Manza has phenomenal body control and even though its does tend to roll when hurled into corners at speed, the occupants do stay unruffled for the most part.

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The steering is brilliant but we would have liked it to be a tad quicker. However as a plush upmarket saloon, the steering is eminently liveable but what is truly awesome is the poise of the car under braking. The Manza always gripped and came to a halt in a straight line whenever the anchors were thrown at speed and this is a mighty confidence-inspiring aspect of the overall drive experience. For the first time on a Tata Motors product for the domestic market, we find air bags and ABS as standard fitment on the Manza, two very welcome details which would be appreciated by many.

Manza_verdict

So how does the Manza stack up after our indepth exploratory drive? Pretty impressive is what comes quickly to mind and that she sure is. This is the best sedan ever made by Tata Motors and the fit and finish is most unlike cars from this firm. However I must add a rider to this and that in this regard there is scope for even more improvement. Pricing will play a major role in the appeal of the Manza but given the price point where the Fiat Linea resides, it can clearly be understood where the Manza would be positioned. Seems the Fiestas, Vernas, D’zires and the rest have a worthy rival to contend with.

Mafia Wars Jobs, Payouts and Rewards

October 15, 2009

via: http://vgstrategies.about.com/od/facebookgames/a/Mafia-Wars-Best-Jobs-XP-Payout.htm

Mafia Wars Cheats – Mafia Wars Jobs, Payouts and Rewards

This list is designed to help you level up quickly in Mafia Wars on Facebook or MySpace. Note that the calculations here are taken from the Facebook version of Mafia Wars, which may differ slightly from the MySpace one.

Mafia Wars Jobs and Experience Payouts

Jobs in Mafia Wars are broken up into sections called Job Tiers. Lower level job tiers are designed for lower level characters, although you may find yourself going back to look for special loot or collectible items.

Use this list as reference on what job will get you the most bang for your buck! The list below is also broken up into these tiers. You’ll see the general job tier listed, followed by the individual jobs within that tier, and finally the experience ratio. How the experience ratio work. The simple answer, the higher the number, the best experience per energy.

So, if a job is listed as a ratio of 1.5x, it means that for every one energy point it costs to do the job, you get back 1.5 experience points. In addition, to make things super simple I’ve highlighted the nest job in each tier. Please keep in mind that this list does not account for any prerequisites that are needed for a job, which would in reality make the job cost more energy, and therefore lower the payout ratio.

Street Thug Jobs – Levels 1-4

Mugging – 1x
Corner Store Hold-up – 1x
Warehouse Robbery – 1x
Auto Theft – 1.33x (best experience)
Beat Up Rival Gangster – 1x
Rob a Pimp – 1x
Collect on a Loan – 1x

Associate Jobs – Levels 5-8

Collect Protection Money – 1x
Rough Up Dealers – 1x
Take Out a Rogue Cop – 1x
Perform a Hit – 1x
Bank Heist – 1.67x (best experience)
Jewelry Store Job – 1.62x
Hijack a Semi – 1.29x

Soldier Jobs – Levels 9-12

Destroy Enemy Mob Hideout – 1x
Kill a Protected Snitch – 1x
Bust a Made Man Out of Prison – 1x
Museum Break-in – 1.44 (best experience)
Fight a Haitian Gang – 1.2x
Clip the Irish Mob’s Local Enforcer – 1.22x
Steal a Tanker Truck – 1.29x

Enforcer Jobs – Levels 13-17

Federal Reserve Raid – 1.41x
Smuggle Across the Border – 1.33x
Liquor Smuggling – 1.37x
Run Illegal Poker Game – 2.06x (best experience)
Wiretap the Cops – 1.74x
Rob an Electronics Store – 1.29x
Burn Down a Tenement – 1.44x
Distill Some Liquor – 1.44x
Manufacture Tokens – 1.44x
Get Cheating Deck – 1.44x
Overtake Phone Central – 1.44x

Hitman Jobs – Levels 18-24

Repel the Yakuza – 1.73x (best experience)
Disrupt Rival Smuggling Ring – 1.62x
Invade Tong-controlled Neighborhood – 1.41x
Sell Guns to the Russian Mob – 1.68x
Protect your City against a Rival Family – 1.71x
Assassinate a Political Figure – 1.71x
Exterminate a Rival Family – 1.64x
Obtain Compromising Photos – 1.32x
Frame a Rival Capo – 1.48x

Capo Jobs – Levels 25-34

Steal an Air Freight Delivery – 1.31x
Run a Biker Gang Out of Town – 1.35x
Flip a Snitch – 1.41x
Steal Bank Records – 1.41x
Loot the Police Impound Lot – 1.17x
Recruit a Rival Crew Member – 1.52x
Dodge an FBI Tail – 1.56x
Whack a Rival Crew Leader – 1.6x (best experience)

Consigliere Jobs – Levels 35-59

Influence a Harbor Official – 1.51x
Move Stolen Merchandise – 1.66x
Snuff a Rat – 1.63x
Help a Fugitive Flee the Country – 1.67x
Dispose of a Body – 1.73x (best experience)
Ransom a Businessman’s Kids – 1.37x
Fix the Big Game – 1.4x
Steal an Arms Shipment – 1.73x

Underboss Jobs – Levels 60-99

Extort a Corrupt Judge – 1.81x
Embezzle Funds Through a Phony Company – 1.64x
Break Into the Armory – 1.4x
Rip Off the Armenian Mob – 1.6x
Muscle in on a Triad Operation – 1.8x
Ambush a Rival at a Sit Down – 1.68x
Order a Hit on a Public Official – 1.87x (best experience)
Take Over an Identity Theft Ring – 1.72x

Boss Jobs – Levels 100+

Settle a Beef… Permanently – 1.86x (best experience)
Buy Off a Federal Agent – 1.71x
Make a Deal with the Mexican Cartel – 1.75x
Blackmail the District Attorney – 1.73x
Shake Down a City Council Member – 1.7x
Make Arrangements for a Visiting Don – 1.75x
Take Control of a Casino – 1.84x
Travel to the Old Country – 1.83x

El Soldado Jobs (Cuba) – Levels 35-59

Rob Your Cab Driver – 1.6x (best experience)
Secure A Safehouse – 1.59x
Intimidate The Locals – 1.57x
Silence a Noisy Neighbor – 1.59x
Smuggle In Some Supplies – 1.57x
Set Up A Numbers Racket – 1.58x
Establish Contact With The FRG – 1.56x
Take Out The Local Police Chief – 1.57x
“Persuade” A Local To Talk – 1.59x
Assault A Snitch’s Hideout – 1.58x

El Capitan Jobs (Cuba) – Levels 60-84

Transport A Shipment of US Arms – 1.63x
Meet With The FRG Leadership – 1.68x
Hold Up a Tour Bus – 1.7x
Ambush a Military Patrol – 1.65x
Capture an Army Outpost – 1.66x
Sneak A Friend Of The Family Into The Country – 1.71x (best experience)
Ransack A Local Plantation – 1.64x
Burn Down a Hacienda – 1.65x

El Jefe Jobs (Cuba) – Levels 85-109

Offer “Protection” To A Nightclub – 1.74x
Rob The Banco Nacional Branch – 1.72x
Shake Down a Hotel Owner – 1.69x
Bring The Local Teamsters Under Your Control – 1.76x
Help The FRG Steal A Truckload Of Weapons – 1.7x
Hijack a Booze Shipment – 1.78x (best experience)
Pillage a Shipyard – 1.7x
Take Over the Docks – 1.72x

El Patron Jobs (Cuba) – Levels 110-129

Muscle In On A Local Casino – 1.78x
Establish A Loansharking Business – 1.77x
Eliminate A Rival Family’s Agent – 1.76x
Pass On Some Intel to The FRG – 1.78x
Execute A Regional Arms Dealer – 1.78x
Sink a Competing Smuggler’s Ship – 1.74x
Gun Down an Enemy Crew at the Airport – 1.8x (best experience)
Assassinate An Opposing Consigliere – 1.75x

El Padrino Jobs (Cuba) – Levels 130+

Raid the Arms Depot – 1.77x
Supply The FRG With Some Extra Muscle – 1.8x (tied for best experience)
Capture The Airport – 1.8x (tied for best experience)
Knock Off A Visiting Head Of State – 1.77x
Set Up A High Volume Smuggling Operation – 1.8x (tied for best experience)
Blow Up A Rail Line – 1.8x (tied for best experience)
Attack The Army Command Post – 1.79x
Storm the Presidential Palace – 1.78x

If new jobs are added this list will be updated. In addition, should you spot any errors please contact me and I will make any necessary adjustments so the information is always accurate and up to date.

More on Mafia Wars

Looking for more cheats, hints, tips and strategies for Mafia Wars on Facebook? Check the Facebook Games index for a list of currently available articles.

Eleven Years of Google: A Look Back

October 5, 2009

via: http://www.pcworld.com/printable/article/id,172698/printable.html

Google has come a long way in its eleven-year history, from its humble beginning as a Stanford University research project in 1998, to the global, multi-billion dollar online presence Google enjoys today.

Earlier this week, the company celebrated its 11th birthday and choose to mark the occasion with an all new Google Doodle, a fun take on their colorful identity. The unique logo illustrated Google’s eleven years in operation by adding an extra L to the company’s name to form a number eleven.

Google’s actual founding date is subject to debate. There are those who think that Google should bring out the cake on the September 4, the day in 1998 that Google filed its incorporation papers and officially became Google, Inc. Still others think that Google should recognize September 15, 1997 as its founding date, as that is when Google registered the google.com domain. But despite the debate, Google has celebrated its anniversary on September 27 for the past few years now, making the date somewhat official.

Google is eleven.

Any birthday offers the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past, so just what has Google been up to in the last eleven years?

Early Days: 1998

With 1997 behind them, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin dropped the original BackRub moniker in favor of Google, a play on the mathematical term “googol. With the Google.com domain registered and a healthy $100,000 investment from Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim, the two Stanford students rented out a $1,700 a month garage space in California’s Menlo Park.

With a makeshift office in place, Google made it official and filed for incorporation as “Google Technology Inc” on September 4, 1998. As the rest of year played out, Google began to receive positive support in the press, and the company also hired their first employee, Craig Silverstein.

Money And Moving: 1999

Thanks to its growing workforce, the fledgling company moved twice in 1999. Google outgrew its modest garage and relocated briefly to a more suitable location in Palo Alto. In June, the company released its very first press release, detailing how the firm had secured $25 million of funding.

During the second half of the year, as the company reached forty employees, Google moved once again to offices in Mountain View, with an in-house chef included. T

his year also saw Google drop the exclamation mark from their logo and settling with its now world-famous branding.

Growth & Expansion: 2000

2000 was a year of growth, as along with the search engine reaching a milestone of one billion pages indexed, the website also expanded to support over fifteen languages including Chinese, French, German, Japanese and more.

How things change. This year (2000) also saw Yahoo! reveal that they will be using Google as their default search provider. At the time this was a big deal, as Yahoo! was once one of the darlings of search, which Google had originally set their eyes on to compete with; mission accomplished? Of course today paints a very different picture as now both Yahoo! and Microsoft are collectively attempting to compete with the search giant that Google has become.

Before the year was out Google also found time to launch the immensely successful AdWords program, and their Toolbar browser plug-in. With the year drawing to a close it was pretty clear that the search engine was on a meteoric rise, as Google was now handling nearly 100 million search queries a day.

Going Global: 2001

With the search engine now available in over twenty-five languages, it only seemed right that the company would expand on a global level with the opening of its first international office in Tokyo.

2001 also saw Google hire ex-Novell chief executive Eric Schmidt, who started at Google as the Chairman of the Board, before quickly moving on to become the CEO.

With the Google search index approaching three billion webpages, it seemed the perfect time to tackle a new type of search: Images. Google launched its Image Search service in July, and initially had an index of over 250 million images.

Getting Geeky: 2002

2002 saw Google launch a range of new products, including the shopping tool Froogle, the experimental Google Labs, and the popular Google News service, a product of the company’s so-called “twenty percent time“. Geeky Google also decided to offer a Klingon translation of the site for all those Star Trek fans out there, bringing the total number of supports languages to over seventy. Spiderman, Warcraft 3 and pop star Shakira were amongst the most common search terms of the year.

The Written Word: 2003

2003 was one verbose year for the search-engine giant. It began in February when Google acquired Pyra Labs, creators of the Blogger service, which allowed the masses to publish their thoughts online with ease. Soon after the acquisition, Google’s company name was announced as a recognized verb, to “google it” had become synonymous with search, however Google strived to steer clear of dictonaries and protect their strong brand.

In December the controversial Google Print was launched: Now known as Google Book Search, the service allows users to view excerpts from thousands of books in digital form. Classic books and their film adaptations, such as Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter, were some of the most searched for terms on Google in 2003.

Email, Google Style: 2004

Without a doubt 2004 biggest Google news was the introduction of Gmail.

The beta launched on April Fools Day, but Google made sure that Gmails was no joke, offering a then-unheard-of 1GB of storage along with a speedy user experience and the beauty of Google’s search technology built right in to your inbox. The service launched as a strictly invite-only affair, which resulted in an online gold rush of those hoping to land an invitation. After five years, Gmail finally disposed of its beta status early in June of 2009.

2004 also saw Google move to its Mountain View, California “Googleplex” headquarters, where the company still resides today. In addition, Google opened a research and development center in Tokyo and a European headquarters in Dublin, Ireland. With over three thousand employees, a range or products under its belt and over eight billion items in its search index Google’s growth continued to amaze.

Mapping The World: 2005

In 2005, Google’s ongoing effort to organize the world’s information continued as

they released Google Maps. Since then, Google has continually improved the mapping service, adding new features such as satellite views and directions, as well as increasing the number of new searchable locations. Google Earth, a 3D satellite photography-based mapping application, soon followed, further complimenting Google’s range of location services.

2005 also saw the release of the iGoogle customizable home page, Google Reader RSS feed manager and Google Analytics. Optimized mobile versions of Gmail, Blogger, and Search were also released.

Oh, and could you imagine naming your newborn baby “Google”? It happened.

A Message From Chad & Steve: 2006

Ending months of speculation, in late 2006 Google finally revealed that they had bought online video site YouTube in a massive $1.65 billion stock transaction.

The Growth Continues: 2007

The year started with Google expanding into new territories once again, with Google Maps making its way to Australia and the Google Docs suite of tools being made available in several additional languages. Gmail was also made available to all, no longer requiring an invitation.

T

he biggest innovation from Google in 2007 was the addition of street level photography to Google Maps. Dubbed Street View, the service lets you view and explore a number of US locations at street level. Naturally, Street View’s introduction caused some controversy as it raised quite a few privacy concerns.

Popular search terms in 2007 included the iPhone, Facebook and Second Life. Since Google acquired YouTube in 2006, the popular video site has grown into an outright juggernaut: Even the Queen of England has her own YouTube channel.

Going Full Circle: 2008

Last year Google celebrated their tenth year in operation, and showed no signs of slowing down. The company released its first iPhone application, expanded Street View’s coverage to include a number of additional countries, revealed a new version of its Picasa photo management app, and launched Knol, a Wikipedia-type service.

In its biggest move of the year, Google announced that it would enter the browser wars with its own take on the humble web browser. The open source Google Chrome appeared in September of last year, and featured a minimalist interface and home page with shortcuts to frequently visited pages–features that have made their way into other browsers since then.

Later in the year, Google’s foray into software continued as the first ever cell phone to use Android, Google’s open-source mobile OS, hit the scene.

Google At Present: 2009

2009 has been a busy year so far for Google, and it isn’t over yet. So far Google has added offline access to Gmail, introduced its Latitude location service, taken you to Mars with a new version of Google Earth, and re-launched the GrandCentral phone service as Google Voice, to name but a few things.

Google also unveiled its Wave service in May of this year. Wave combines a range of communication and social networking activities into a single web application and is expected to be available to the masses later this year.

The biggest news from Google this year came when the firm announced that it plans to release an operating system. Google Chrome OS is expected to land next year, and will initially be aimed at low end devices such as netbooks. Several hints at what the OS could look like have leaked online, but Google have yet to comment on any supposed screenshots.

A rumoured screenshot of Google’s Chrome operating system.

What Does The Future Hold?

With eleven years behind them, Google is still innovating and tweaking. What we can expect next from the search giant is anyone’s guess, but in the immediate future we can look forward to taking Chrome OS for a spin, trying out new versions of Android, and watching countless videos on YouTube.