Google opened an office in Kirkland in November and apparently liked the Pacific Northwest so much, it recently decided to buy 30 acres...

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Google opened an office in Kirkland in November and apparently liked the Pacific Northwest so much, it recently decided to buy 30 acres of land at the Port of The Dalles, Ore., for a new technology facility. Google is paying $1.87 million for its land in The Dalles, 85 miles east of Portland.

Wasco County officials there say that Google could bring in 50 to 100 jobs earning an average of $60,000 a year — twice the county’s average income.

The Dalles is a center for wind-surfing, fishing and camping.

Area residents are preparing for a Google-fueled real-estate bubble of their own. A four-bedroom home there sells for around $160,000, compared with nearly $1 million for a similarly-sized home in Google’s headquarters city of Mountain View, Calif.

Good knight

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is scheduled to receive an honorary knighthood Wednesday from Queen Elizabeth.

The honor was announced early last year. Don’t, however, start calling him “Sir Bill.”

Changing tech

Forty-two percent
of technology executives responding to a recent survey expect a change in their company’s ownership in 10 years, compared with 30 percent of executives in all companies who feel the same way.

Source: Grant Thornton Survey

As a U.S. citizen, knighthood allows him only to include the letters KBE after his name.

The letters stand for Knight Commander of the British Empire. Gates probably gets called “sir” often enough as it is.

Needs some work

After giving‘s new photo-heavy Yellow Pages service a few weeks to settle in, we thought it was time to give it a serious test drive.

Armed with a list of 20 Seattle businesses, we set out to see how well did at showing photographs of their locations.

Turns out that A9 showed a correct photograph about half the time, accurately displaying such businesses as REI, Linda’s Tavern and Ezell’s Fried Chicken. It missed the Trader Joe’s in Queen Anne but identified the University District location.

The service showed no photograph at all, or the wrong photograph, of the Barca and Man Ray bars in Capitol Hill, the Pink Elephant Car Wash, Left Bank Books at Pike Place Market and the Utilikilts clothing store.

A9 allows businesses to upload their own photographs to the site, so its accuracy ratio may improve. The service did answer a trick question somewhat correctly: When asked about the Space Needle, it showed a street corner with a lopped-off image of the Space Needle in the background.

Ferry good connection

Bored with your ferry commute? Take a laptop along.

The Washington State Ferries installed its third free wireless Internet system this month on a ferry run. Internet access is now available on the Bainbridge Island-Seattle, Port Townsend-Keystone and Kingston-Edmonds routes. The service will be free until the end of April, when a private operator may take over, according to the state. It was launched in partnership with Port Townsend-based Mobilisa, which says it is the first company in the world to launch Wi-Fi on ferries.

Spy wars

If Microsoft claims that your company’s home page is a “browser hijacker,” well, things just aren’t going to be easy on you. And last week, Microsoft had to compensate and apologize to Dutch Web directory site for doing just that, according to IDG News Service.

Microsoft’s test version of its new anti-spyware software began blocking Startpagina’s page as malicious content, according to IDG, leading Startpagina to threaten legal action against Microsoft. Microsoft has disclosed the error on its Dutch Web site but has not said how much it paid in compensation.

The director of Startpagina, which competes with Microsoft’s Dutch MSN site, suggested to IDG that Microsoft’s blocking may not have been purely accidental.

Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or