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Google Effect

2:30 PM -- Had my first Mountain View lunch in ages yesterday and got my first first-hand look at the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) effect on downtown.

The end of Castro St. in downtown Mountain View is basically a block of restaurants, and all over the place were groups of twentysomethings, several of them dressed up in bits of Halloween garb. We're talking strange hats, hints of medieval outfits, that sort of thing -- as opposed to full-on makeup or head-to-toe costumes. The kind of minor whimsy that's still suitable for the office.

It's not that unusual in general, but it's not what the Mountain View power lunch crowd used to look like.

Oh, there were also lots of people dressed in all black. Although here, as in New York, it's hard to tell if that's related to Halloween.

Google WiFi, by the way, screwed me over. I was able to connect and get an IP address, but couldn't actually do anything -- every Web URL came back "not found," meaning I couldn't log on to Google and use the service. DNS problem? Or do the Internet gods just hate me?

Didn't matter, because the Red Rock Coffee Co. at Castro and Villa still has is free WiFi running. And you don't have to log in to anything to use it. So there.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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