December 12, 2005

Teen teaches Google to share

Author: Tina Gasperson

Hardly a week goes by without Google introducing some new feature related to its search engine or email service. Google "hacks" are popular too, such as gmailfs, a mountable Linux file system that uses your Gmail account for storage, or simpler twists, such as Google cooking, where you "Google" your ingredients and the search engine delivers recipes. One of the latest hacks is G2G Share, a twist on traditional peer-to-peer networks. But the young creator of the service says he's not sure how long Google will allow it to remain active.

G2G Share has only been around since November, but already has more than 7,000 users and 127GB of data. A PHP script logs into subscribers' Gmail accounts and makes a list of all the files there, then publishes them with links on the G2G Share Web site. Anyone who visits the site can search for and download any files they please.

"If someone wants to download a file at your account, the system accesses [it] and forwards the mail with the file," says Robbie Groenewoudt, the 17-year-old author of G2G Share. "Everything is done by the system and no user will ever see any passwords." Gmail's labels serve as file indexers, and mail account holders can specify which labels are shared on G2G and which remain hidden.

Users may not see login details, but Groenewoudt says he has access to that information. "I have written the encryption. The users will have to trust me, but then again, for what do I need their accounts?" Groenewoudt recommends that subscribers create a new email account specifically for G2G Share purposes.

Groenewoudt, a student in the Netherlands, says he created G2G Share because he knew many people who were already using Gmail for sharing files and backing up data. "I thought sharing files could be much easier," he says.

A quick search of the files reveals many that appear to be copies of commercial software from firms such as Adobe and Microsoft. For that reason, Groenewoudt fears Google will soon shut down G2G Share. "I would understand if [they don't] like this project. I'm waiting for their response."

Google did not respond to NewsForge's request for comment.


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