Now see what you did by starting this conversation, Raam? The respectful and helpful discussion here led to several hours researching the Google S/U topic as it might relate to the Safari 4.0 Beta and my spinning beach ball. Among the best articles addressing the repercussions and contraindications of the S/U was Scott Gilbertson’s “Epicenter” blog at Wired.com, especially this passage about daemon dangers:

“Here are a few reasons why an always-active daemon (software speak for a tiny app that runs in the background) for handling software updates is a bad idea:

It opens up an always-on tunnel to Google. While Google may be confident its update servers will never be compromised, how confident are you? If a third party gains control of that server, it can inject nearly any code it wants into your machine.

It’s always on, always looking for update. On an expensive, pay-by-the-megabyte EVDO network? Google Updater doesn’t care and will suck down any available updates without asking, costing you money.

Google updates Google Earth or Picasa or Gtalk, but the update ends up having a bug that wipes data from your drive. Sorry, too late — the auto-updater already grabbed the latest version without asking. Kiss your data goodbye.

Administering a large network that needs to be locked down and tightly controlled? Cross Google software off your list. All the above problems apply, but they’re cascaded across your network for added headaches.” (Find the complete essay at http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/02/why-googles-sof/)

Judging by the number of threads in the Google Forums, plenty of Google aficionados are deeply dismayed by G’s covert action and the haters, well, they have more ammo than ever. Generally, I count myself a G-fan, but on this occasion, I’d chime in with Gilbertson’s closing statement, “We hate to break it to you Google, but you aren’t special, and your software updates are no more critical than anyone else’s.”

Thanks for your help, everyone!