For reasons I cannot begin to fathom, it seems I am on Google’s s**t list.
First there were my problems with my sarcasm site being booted off of Adsense (twice) with no chance for appeal. Then Google put my G+ account on double secret probation for a month after apparently confusing me with some spammer. Now, it seems, Google Docs is out to get me.
Frankly, I have never been a big fan of Google Docs. I have always found it sluggish and laggy; it changes fonts on me randomly, and sometimes simply doesn’t do what I tell it to do, like delete certain words. But I decided to try it again because I was using a computer on loan and didn’t want to hassle with installing Dropbox on it or emailing files back and forth to myself. And, I thought hopefully, maybe Google had finally fixed these problems.
So I opened up my document this morning and discovered something that looked like this:
I took a deep breath, calmed down, and reloaded the page. Instead of being all bollixed up with HTML code errors, I got nada – no document, no text, nuthin – with all the menus grayed out. I restarted my browser, logged out and logged back in. Still blank.
It wasn’t a long document – only about a page and a half – but it was due TODAY. So, attempting to quell my panic, I went to the Google Support Forums, which is the only form of help Google offers. And there I found people who had the exact same problem as I did, all of them within the past few days. Like this one, for example:
My documents all went blank yesterday also. Table are fine, but documents are all grayed out. You can't check revision history because you can't open any commands. This is a terrible situation for a writer! Anyone at GOOGLE listening?????
Some Level 13 Google volunteer named “Ziggy” was trying to help them, but he clearly did not have a clue. Fortunately, another similarly afflicted user weighed in and noted that this problem only happened in Chrome. Google Docs worked fine in Internet Explorer and Firefox.
Yes, that’s right: Google’s own browser doesn’t work with Google Docs. That sound you hear is my hand slapping my forehead.
I quickly opened IE, downloaded a copy of my document, and kissed Google Docs goodbye. Actually, I waved to it from a speeding car and then threw trash on its lawn.
Lucky for me some other user had figured out an easy solution, or I’d be spending all day recreating my work from scratch. The bigger problem though, is Google and its utter lack of regard for its users.
Yes, I know: Google Docs is free, and you get what you pay for. But no support at all? Really? From a company that made $10 billion in profit last year? Dear Google: I think you can afford to hire a few people to pitch in, don’t you?
I’ve asked Google for an explanation of what went wrong. If I get a response I’ll post it here – assuming anyone there is listening.
UPDATE: About an hour after I originally posted this entry, my document miraculously returned to Google Docs inside Chrome. According to Google spokeshuman Tim Drinan, "The team is currently investigating a bug that may have caused the issue [I] encountered." No word yet on the cause or how many users were affected.
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