Posts tagged with ‘google’

Since <Blink> won’t blink in Blink, Firefox would be the only remaining browser that allows text to actually flash using the <Blink> element.

Vijit Assar, The Evolution of the Web, In a Blink, The New Yorker.

FJP: It must have been really fun to write that sentence. The whole piece is worth a read if you want an easy enough 101 on the history of internet browsers and what’s coming next. Which, if you use a web browser, you should. And it’s in The New Yorker, so you can show this to your grandma and maybe she’ll read it too.

What Google Autocomplete Tells Us About Ourselves

Performing age related searches such as “I’m 15 and”; and then letting Google take over with its autocomplete this short video gives a depressing look at what’s on our collective minds.

Via Marius B:

Using billions of searches, Google has prototyped an anonymous profile of its users.

This reflects the fears, inquiries, preoccupations, obsessions and fixations of the human being at a certain age and our evolution through life

While search results may vary, Marius indicates in the video’s comment thread that “the queries are made in the “incognito tab” with no user signed in, no cookies nor history and with a permanent paid VPN targeting US.”

Your Digital Afterlife
Because, evidently, Google listens to Krissy, it now has a new plan in place should you, perhaps, not quite wake up tomorrow.
Via Google&#8217;s Data Liberation Blog:

Not many of us like thinking about death — especially our own. But making plans for what happens after you’re gone is really important for the people you leave behind. So today, we’re launching a new feature that makes it easy to tell Google what you want done with your digital assets when you die or can no longer use your account.
The feature is called Inactive Account Manager — not a great name, we know — and you’ll find it on your Google Account settings page.
You can tell us what to do with your Gmail messages and data from several other Google services if your account becomes inactive for any reason.
For example, you can choose to have your data deleted — after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. Or you can select trusted contacts to receive data from some or all of the following services: +1s; Blogger; Contacts and Circles; Drive; Gmail; Google+ Profiles, Pages and Streams; Picasa Web Albums; Google Voice and YouTube. Before our systems take any action, we’ll first warn you by sending a text message to your cellphone and email to the secondary address you’ve provided.

FJP: Macabre, yes, but a reality that digital services need to pay attention to.
Image: Pleasant Hill Cemetery, via Wikimedia Commons.

Your Digital Afterlife

Because, evidently, Google listens to Krissy, it now has a new plan in place should you, perhaps, not quite wake up tomorrow.

Via Google’s Data Liberation Blog:

Not many of us like thinking about death — especially our own. But making plans for what happens after you’re gone is really important for the people you leave behind. So today, we’re launching a new feature that makes it easy to tell Google what you want done with your digital assets when you die or can no longer use your account.

The feature is called Inactive Account Manager — not a great name, we know — and you’ll find it on your Google Account settings page.

You can tell us what to do with your Gmail messages and data from several other Google services if your account becomes inactive for any reason.

For example, you can choose to have your data deleted — after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. Or you can select trusted contacts to receive data from some or all of the following services: +1s; Blogger; Contacts and Circles; Drive; Gmail; Google+ Profiles, Pages and Streams; Picasa Web Albums; Google Voice and YouTube. Before our systems take any action, we’ll first warn you by sending a text message to your cellphone and email to the secondary address you’ve provided.

FJP: Macabre, yes, but a reality that digital services need to pay attention to.

Image: Pleasant Hill Cemetery, via Wikimedia Commons.

Google Nose, For When You Absolutely Must Have that Shaggy Dog Smell
Yes, the Internet&#8217;s April Fool&#8217;s jokes can be monotonous and played out. They can also be endlessly clever. 
So, Google Nose,  the Google Aromabase with 15M+ scentibytes of searchable smells.

Google Nose, For When You Absolutely Must Have that Shaggy Dog Smell

Yes, the Internet’s April Fool’s jokes can be monotonous and played out. They can also be endlessly clever. 

So, Google Nose,  the Google Aromabase with 15M+ scentibytes of searchable smells.

Google Street View Captures Fukushima Ghost Town
Via The New York Times:

The eerily empty streets of Namie, a town deep in the evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, are featured in the latest images captured by Google for its Street View mapping project.
The scene is wrenching: houses flattened by the earthquake and now abandoned for fear of radiation; rows of empty shutters on a boulevard that once hosted Namie’s annual autumn festival; ships and debris that still dot a landscape laid bare by the 50-foot waves that destroyed its coastline more than two years ago.
Namie’s 21,000 residents are still in government-mandated exile, scattered throughout Fukushima and across Japan. They are allowed brief visits no more than once a month to check on their homes.

Over at Lat Long, the Google Maps blog, Tamotsu Baba, the town&#8217;s mayor, writes:

Ever since the March disaster, the rest of the world has been moving forward, and many places in Japan have started recovering. But in Namie-machi time stands still. With the lingering nuclear hazard, we have only been able to do cursory work for two whole years. We would greatly appreciate it if you viewed this Street View imagery to understand the current state of Namie-machi and the tremendous gravity of the situation.
Those of us in the older generation feel that we received this town from our forebearers, and we feel great pain that we cannot pass it down to our children. It has become our generation’s duty to make sure future generations understand the city’s history and culture—maybe even those who will not remember the Fukushima nuclear accident. We want this Street View imagery to become a permanent record of what happened to Namie-machi in the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.

Image: Screenshot, Google Street View from Namie-machi, Fukushima, Japan.

Google Street View Captures Fukushima Ghost Town

Via The New York Times:

The eerily empty streets of Namie, a town deep in the evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, are featured in the latest images captured by Google for its Street View mapping project.

The scene is wrenching: houses flattened by the earthquake and now abandoned for fear of radiation; rows of empty shutters on a boulevard that once hosted Namie’s annual autumn festival; ships and debris that still dot a landscape laid bare by the 50-foot waves that destroyed its coastline more than two years ago.

Namie’s 21,000 residents are still in government-mandated exile, scattered throughout Fukushima and across Japan. They are allowed brief visits no more than once a month to check on their homes.

Over at Lat Long, the Google Maps blog, Tamotsu Baba, the town’s mayor, writes:

Ever since the March disaster, the rest of the world has been moving forward, and many places in Japan have started recovering. But in Namie-machi time stands still. With the lingering nuclear hazard, we have only been able to do cursory work for two whole years. We would greatly appreciate it if you viewed this Street View imagery to understand the current state of Namie-machi and the tremendous gravity of the situation.

Those of us in the older generation feel that we received this town from our forebearers, and we feel great pain that we cannot pass it down to our children. It has become our generation’s duty to make sure future generations understand the city’s history and culture—maybe even those who will not remember the Fukushima nuclear accident. We want this Street View imagery to become a permanent record of what happened to Namie-machi in the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.

Image: Screenshot, Google Street View from Namie-machi, Fukushima, Japan.

If Websites Were People

Here’s a video from Cracked.com that personifies popular websites.

Google&#8217;s Evernote
It&#8217;s called Google Keep and it&#8217;s pretty neat. Internet surfers can hoard digital artifacts. Organizations can organize digital information. Yes, many of us already do this on Evernote. (Keep is arguably cuter, though.)
Some people, however, aren&#8217;t too excited. Here&#8217;s why:


It might actually be good, or even better than Evernote. But I still won’t use Keep. You know why? Google Reader.
I spent about seven years of my online life on that service. I sent feedback, used it to annotate information and they killed it like a butcher slaughters a chicken. No conversation — dead. The service that drives more traffic than Google+ was sacrificed because it didn’t meet some vague corporate goals; users — many of them life long — be damned.

Google’s Evernote

It’s called Google Keep and it’s pretty neat. Internet surfers can hoard digital artifacts. Organizations can organize digital information. Yes, many of us already do this on Evernote. (Keep is arguably cuter, though.)

Some people, however, aren’t too excited. Here’s why:

It might actually be good, or even better than Evernote. But I still won’t use Keep. You know why? Google Reader.

I spent about seven years of my online life on that service. I sent feedback, used it to annotate information and they killed it like a butcher slaughters a chicken. No conversation — dead. The service that drives more traffic than Google+ was sacrificed because it didn’t meet some vague corporate goals; users — many of them life long — be damned.

Google Reader Alternatives
As Jim Aley writes over on Businessweek, RSS fans are going through the the seven stages of grief over yesterday&#8217;s announcement that Google is pulling the plug on Google Reader.
The move comes July 1, so between now and then, info junkies are on the hunt for new readers. Here are some to explore as you get started:
Feedly: Allows you to choose different types of layouts for your feeds (eg., magazine style) and then bubbles up content it thinks is most relevant to you. While created as a front-end that syncs with with Google Reader, the company announced that they&#8217;re in the process of cloning the Google API and all your feeds will seamlessly be transferred (and continue to work) as Google shuts down.
Waurb: Similar to Feedly, Waurb digests your feeds, presents it back to you in an elegant layout while also calculating &#8220;which articles are worth reading with our clever little algorithim.&#8221;
NetVibes: A honking &#8220;real-time monitoring&#8221; service (or dashboard) for feeds, social streams and more. Just make sure you chose the personal edition or you&#8217;ll be out $499 a month.
NewsBlur: Created by a one man startup in San Francisco, this personal reader lets you train it to give you more of the stories you want, less of what you don&#8217;t.
Tiny Tiny RSS: For those who want complete control and an open source solution installed on your own server.
The Old Reader: Basically a clone of the &#8220;old&#8221; Google Reader, back before the company removed some features that the community loved. Currently in beta.
Skimr: Available for the Web but optimized for mobile and tablets, Skimr is a very quick, text only feed app.
Skim.me: Still in invite only mode, Skim.me&#8217;s premise is to shorten or lengthen your feed based on the amount of time you have at any given moment. Want things long, it will go long. Only have time for headlines and quick summaries, it can supposedly do that too.
Obviously, there are more. List your favorite alternatives in a reblog or drop us a note and we&#8217;ll add to this list.
Meanwhile, while panicky, there is a bright side to all this.
As Marco Arment points out, there&#8217;s been very little innovation in RSS desktop apps and sync platforms over the last ten years. There just wasn&#8217;t a sustainable model with Google becoming the de facto platform and giving it away for free. With Google Reader out of the way, and a niche but very deep audience for these apps and services, we may just see wonderful new innovations that have been a long time coming. &#8212; Michael
UPDATE: A ginormus list of readers, crowdsourced, Google spreadsheet style.
Image: Screenshot, Susie Cagle responds to me responding to Bitly&#8217;s Hilary Mason about the news that Google Reader is shutting down.

Google Reader Alternatives

As Jim Aley writes over on Businessweek, RSS fans are going through the the seven stages of grief over yesterday’s announcement that Google is pulling the plug on Google Reader.

The move comes July 1, so between now and then, info junkies are on the hunt for new readers. Here are some to explore as you get started:

  • Feedly: Allows you to choose different types of layouts for your feeds (eg., magazine style) and then bubbles up content it thinks is most relevant to you. While created as a front-end that syncs with with Google Reader, the company announced that they’re in the process of cloning the Google API and all your feeds will seamlessly be transferred (and continue to work) as Google shuts down.
  • Waurb: Similar to Feedly, Waurb digests your feeds, presents it back to you in an elegant layout while also calculating “which articles are worth reading with our clever little algorithim.”
  • NetVibes: A honking “real-time monitoring” service (or dashboard) for feeds, social streams and more. Just make sure you chose the personal edition or you’ll be out $499 a month.
  • NewsBlur: Created by a one man startup in San Francisco, this personal reader lets you train it to give you more of the stories you want, less of what you don’t.
  • Tiny Tiny RSS: For those who want complete control and an open source solution installed on your own server.
  • The Old Reader: Basically a clone of the “old” Google Reader, back before the company removed some features that the community loved. Currently in beta.
  • Skimr: Available for the Web but optimized for mobile and tablets, Skimr is a very quick, text only feed app.
  • Skim.me: Still in invite only mode, Skim.me’s premise is to shorten or lengthen your feed based on the amount of time you have at any given moment. Want things long, it will go long. Only have time for headlines and quick summaries, it can supposedly do that too.

Obviously, there are more. List your favorite alternatives in a reblog or drop us a note and we’ll add to this list.

Meanwhile, while panicky, there is a bright side to all this.

As Marco Arment points out, there’s been very little innovation in RSS desktop apps and sync platforms over the last ten years. There just wasn’t a sustainable model with Google becoming the de facto platform and giving it away for free. With Google Reader out of the way, and a niche but very deep audience for these apps and services, we may just see wonderful new innovations that have been a long time coming. — Michael

UPDATE: A ginormus list of readers, crowdsourced, Google spreadsheet style.

Image: Screenshot, Susie Cagle responds to me responding to Bitly’s Hilary Mason about the news that Google Reader is shutting down.

Nobody should buy Google’s Chromebook Pixel today. But in five years, we all might have one. →

Slate’s Farhad Manjoo has an interesting take on the future of cloud computing. It comes with a review of the Chromebook Pixel that begins like so:

So I’m late to this party. It’s been two weeks since Google unveiled the Chromebook Pixel—a stylish yet mystifying addition to its line of machines that run the Chrome operating system—and pretty much every tech reviewer in the world has already offered his assessment. They all agree, too: With its stylish design and amazing high-resolution touch display, the Pixel is a wondrous machine … and only an idiot would consider buying it.

The Pixel starts at $1,299, but it has a limitation that other high-end laptops don’t: It can run only a single native program, the Chrome browser. Take it away, David Pogue: “If you’re going to spend $1,300, why on earth would you buy a laptop that does nothing but surf the Web?” How about you, The Verge? “Everyone should want a Chromebook Pixel. … But almost no one should buy one.” OK, let’s check in at Gizmodo: “The Chromebook Pixel is amazing. Don’t buy it.”

I wish I could muster up some Slate-worthy contrarianism, but I’m right there with those guys. In the couple weeks that I’ve had the Pixel, I’ve marveled at almost everything about it. Its display is indeed delightful, turning the Web’s ordinarily drab text into the crisp stuff you remember from glossy magazines. Its track pad and touch screen are fantastic; indeed, the Pixel’s is the first track pad not made by Apple that I didn’t want to jab with a sharp stick. Yes, the machine is a little too heavy—at 3.3 pounds it’s about 6 ounces more than the 13-inch MacBook Air, which sells for almost $200 less and does a whole lot more. Yet its extra weight is in keeping with an overall solidity. Made out of dark, precision-machined aluminum, the Pixel looks and feels like a computer designed by Harley Davidson: It’s all sharp, tough angles, and its moving parts are buttery smooth. This thing was made with a lot of care. I hope Apple’s design chief Jony Ive has ordered several of these. As a really rich guy who loves beautiful computers, he’s one of the few people in the world who’d truly appreciate the Pixel.

For the rest of us, the Pixel is foolish, a nice-looking but fatally hobbled bauble…

…So why did Google make it? That’s the mystery I’ve been wrestling with these last few days. And despite the Pixel’s being a nonstarter right now, I’m beginning to think it’s brilliant as an idea, albeit one whose time has not yet arrived. Why? Let me sketch out a few thoughts.

Farhad talks about Google’s potential business model (lowering the laptop’s price and basically wrapping people in all things Google via Chrome). More interesting are his thoughts and predictions on cloud computing and the migration he sees a majority of people making to Web apps that will handle all of what they do.

Five years? It seems too soon. But five years in Internet life is a very long, long time.  

Farhad Manjoo, Slate. The Laptop of the Future.

A recent study of Google searches by Professor Latanya Sweeney has found “significant discrimination” in ad results depending on whether the name you’re Googling is, statistically speaking, more likely to belong to a white person or a black person. So while Googling an Emma will probably trigger nothing more sinister than an invitation to look up Emma’s phone number and address, searching for a Jermaine could generate an ad for a criminal record search. In fact, Sweeney’s research suggests that it’s 25% more likely you’ll get ads for criminal record searches from “black-identifying” names than white-sounding ones.

Deadlines: Google Student Journalism Fellowships and Scholarships

If they’re not on your calendar mark it now:

  • The 2013 Google Journalism Fellowships: This 10-week, $7,500 fellowships is “aimed at undergraduate, graduate and journalism students interested in using technology to tell stories in new and dynamic ways. The Fellows will get the opportunity to spend the summer contributing to a variety of organizations — from those that are steeped in investigative journalism to those working for press freedom around the world and to those that are helping the industry figure out its future in the digital age.” Deadline: January 31.
  • The AP-Google Scholarship: This $20,000 scholarship for the 2013-2014 school year “is targeted to individual students creating innovative projects that further the ideals of digital journalism.” For example, “Have you created original journalistic content with computer science elements? Are you thinking up new ways to tell a story with technology? Are you a “techie” who knows how to construct a journalistic story through multimedia? We’re looking for students pursuing studies at the crossroads of journalism, computer sciences and new media.” Deadline: February 8.

Yes, you should apply.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town
For the last few years NORAD and Google have partnered to track Santa&#8217;s flight. This year though, the aerospace agency will use Bing and Microsoft&#8217;s Windows Azure cloud computing platform. Eager Santa watchers will also have dedicated Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps to follow along.
The 62-year history of NORAD&#8217;s Santa tracking is interesting. It all started with a typo. Via TechNet:



[The] error ran in a local Colorado Springs newspaper back in 1955 after a local department store printed an advertisement with an incorrect phone number that children could use to “call Santa.” Except that someone goofed. Or someone mistook a three for an eight. Maybe elves broke into the newspaper and changed the number. We’ll never know.
But somehow, the number in the advertisement changed, and instead of reaching the “Santa” on call for the local department store, it rang at the desk of the Crew Commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the organization that would one day become the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or “NORAD.”
And when the commander on duty, Col. Harry Shoup, first picked up the phone and heard kids asking for Santa, he could have told them they had a wrong number.
But he didn’t.
Instead, the kind-hearted colonel asked his crew to play along and find Santa’s location. Just like that, NORAD was in the Santa-tracking business.



Last year more than 20 million people around the world followed Santa via the NORAD Santa Tracker Web site and another hundred thousand called in to dedicated telephone operators. You can do so this year starting December 24.
Image: Star Wars Christmas by Bart Zimny.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town

For the last few years NORAD and Google have partnered to track Santa’s flight. This year though, the aerospace agency will use Bing and Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud computing platform. Eager Santa watchers will also have dedicated Windows Phone and Windows 8 apps to follow along.

The 62-year history of NORAD’s Santa tracking is interesting. It all started with a typo. Via TechNet:

[The] error ran in a local Colorado Springs newspaper back in 1955 after a local department store printed an advertisement with an incorrect phone number that children could use to “call Santa.” Except that someone goofed. Or someone mistook a three for an eight. Maybe elves broke into the newspaper and changed the number. We’ll never know.

But somehow, the number in the advertisement changed, and instead of reaching the “Santa” on call for the local department store, it rang at the desk of the Crew Commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center, the organization that would one day become the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or “NORAD.”

And when the commander on duty, Col. Harry Shoup, first picked up the phone and heard kids asking for Santa, he could have told them they had a wrong number.

But he didn’t.

Instead, the kind-hearted colonel asked his crew to play along and find Santa’s location. Just like that, NORAD was in the Santa-tracking business.

Last year more than 20 million people around the world followed Santa via the NORAD Santa Tracker Web site and another hundred thousand called in to dedicated telephone operators. You can do so this year starting December 24.

Image: Star Wars Christmas by Bart Zimny.

Zeitgeist 2012
Google&#8217;s studied more than one trillion searches made this year to put together Zeitgeist 2012, a look at what people are looking for throughout the world.
You can search by topic (eg., news, people, science, etc.) and by country. Results come in two flavors: &#8220;Trending,&#8221; which indicates most sustained searches throughout the year, and &#8220;Most Searched&#8221; for the overall most searched term.
In the United States, politics, natural disaster and everything else took a back seat to Whitney Houston as the most searched item.
Via the Washington Post:

Google also broke down its data to examine the different ways people use its search engine. The top trending image searches, for example, were for boy band One Direction and “Funny Pictures,” presumably from people looking to inject some levity into their day. And it could be a sign of the tepid economy that “money” also made the image search list. Sadly, just looking at pictures of cash won’t help you pad your wallet.
The company also highlighted the search terms that puzzled people the most in 2012. In its “What is&#8230;?” list, Google shared that people most often finished the query with the word “SOPA,” a reference to the Stop Online Piracy Act. But people were also eager to know about Scientology, the viral KONY 2012 video and the carpe diem acronym “YOLO.”
Turning to politics, Google also released lists of the top politicians, election issues and political gaffes of the year.
You can explore the site or download a 125-page PDF.

Image: Screenshot, Google Zeitgeist 2012 for News.

Zeitgeist 2012

Google’s studied more than one trillion searches made this year to put together Zeitgeist 2012, a look at what people are looking for throughout the world.

You can search by topic (eg., news, people, science, etc.) and by country. Results come in two flavors: “Trending,” which indicates most sustained searches throughout the year, and “Most Searched” for the overall most searched term.

In the United States, politics, natural disaster and everything else took a back seat to Whitney Houston as the most searched item.

Via the Washington Post:

Google also broke down its data to examine the different ways people use its search engine. The top trending image searches, for example, were for boy band One Direction and “Funny Pictures,” presumably from people looking to inject some levity into their day. And it could be a sign of the tepid economy that “money” also made the image search list. Sadly, just looking at pictures of cash won’t help you pad your wallet.

The company also highlighted the search terms that puzzled people the most in 2012. In its “What is…?” list, Google shared that people most often finished the query with the word “SOPA,” a reference to the Stop Online Piracy Act. But people were also eager to know about Scientology, the viral KONY 2012 video and the carpe diem acronym “YOLO.”

Turning to politics, Google also released lists of the top politicians, election issues and political gaffes of the year.

You can explore the site or download a 125-page PDF.

Image: Screenshot, Google Zeitgeist 2012 for News.

A little less than two years ago, when Internet access was cut off in Egypt, we worked with Twitter to launch Speak2Tweet, giving the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection.

In the last day, Internet access has been completely cut off in Syria. Unfortunately we are hearing reports that mobile phones and landlines aren’t working properly either. But those who might be lucky enough to have a voice connection can still use Speak2Tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+90 212 339 1447 or +30 21 1 198 2716 or +39 06 62207294 or +1 650 419 4196), and the service will tweet the message. No Internet connection is required, and people can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to twitter.com/speak2tweet.

— Google pushing Speak2Tweet during the Syria Internet blackout, via Google on Google+.