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Category: Google | Jan 28, 2014
Think back: you’ve just dumped a bin of LEGOR bricks onto the floor with a satisfying crash, and you have the whole day ahead of you to build whatever you want. There’s something pretty amazing about being able to piece together your ideas with just a collection of colorful bricks.
Well, we think the creative freedom of LEGO bricks shouldn’t be limited to plastic bins—which is the idea behind Build with Chrome, a collaboration between Chrome and the LEGO Group that brought these colorful bricks to the web using WebGL, a 3D graphics technology. It was originally built by a team in Australia as an experiment, and now we’re opening it up to everybody. So now you can publish your wacky creations to any plot of land in the world.
We’ve added a few new features to make it easier to build and explore this digital world of LEGO creations. To start, you can now sign in with a Google+ account to help find stuff that people in your circles have created. A new categorization system for completed Builds will help you sort and filter for specific types of structures.
To hone your engineering skills and prepare for the upcoming “THE LEGOR MOVIETM,” you can explore the Build Academy, a series of short tutorials and challenges featuring characters and structures from the film.
If it feels more natural to use your hands—rather than a mouse—you can build your creations using a touchscreen on your phone or tablet with Chrome for Android support for WebGL on devices with high-end graphics capabilities.
As big fans of LEGO, we’re excited to see what you come up with to fill this new world. Share your creations on Google+ and we’ll reshare the most inventive ones.
Posted by Adrian Soghoian, Product Marketing Manager and Beginning Builder
Category: Google | Jan 24, 2014
Earlier today, most Google users who use logged-in services like Gmail, Google+, Calendar and Documents found they were unable to access those services for approximately 25 minutes. For about 10 percent of users, the problem persisted for as much as 30 minutes longer. Whether the effect was brief or lasted the better part of an hour, please accept our apologies—we strive to make all of Google’s services available and fast for you, all the time, and we missed the mark today.
The issue has been resolved, and we’re now focused on correcting the bug that caused the outage, as well as putting more checks and monitors in place to ensure that this kind of problem doesn’t happen again. If you’re interested in the technical explanation for what occurred and how it was fixed, read on.
At 10:55 a.m. PST this morning, an internal system that generates configurations—essentially, information that tells other systems how to behave—encountered a software bug and generated an incorrect configuration. The incorrect configuration was sent to live services over the next 15 minutes, caused users’ requests for their data to be ignored, and those services, in turn, generated errors. Users began seeing these errors on affected services at 11:02 a.m., and at that time our internal monitoring alerted Google’s Site Reliability Team. Engineers were still debugging 12 minutes later when the same system, having automatically cleared the original error, generated a new correct configuration at 11:14 a.m. and began sending it; errors subsided rapidly starting at this time. By 11:30 a.m. the correct configuration was live everywhere and almost all users’ service was restored.
With services once again working normally, our work is now focused on (a) removing the source of failure that caused today’s outage, and (b) speeding up recovery when a problem does occur. We’ll be taking the following steps in the next few days:
1. Correcting the bug in the configuration generator to prevent recurrence, and auditing all other critical configuration generation systems to ensure they do not contain a similar bug.
2. Adding additional input validation checks for configurations, so that a bad configuration generated in the future will not result in service disruption.
3. Adding additional targeted monitoring to more quickly detect and diagnose the cause of service failure.
Posted by Ben Treynor, VP Engineering
Category: Google | Jan 23, 2014
Next Tuesday, at 9pm EST, President Obama will deliver his annual State of the Union address to Congress. Later that week, you’ll have the chance to connect with the President and speak about his administration’s plan in the first-ever Presidential Hangout Road Trip.
On Friday, January 31, President Obama will “travel” the country in a virtual whistlestop tour. He’ll hop into Google+ Hangouts with people from across the United States to answer their questions and hear their thoughts about the topics he addressed in his speech.
If you have a question for the President and would like the opportunity to participate in the Hangout Road Trip, just record a 60-second video with your name, location, a bit about yourself and the question you’d like to ask. Then post it on YouTube or Google+ and share it publicly with the hashtag #AskObama2014.
Next Tuesday, tune in to watch the State of the Union address, as well as the Republican response, live on YouTube. Then join us and President Obama on Friday for a one-of-a-kind road trip.
Posted by Ramya Raghavan, Head of Google+ Politics and Causes
Category: Google | Jan 16, 2014
You’ve probably heard that diabetes is a huge and growing problem—affecting one in every 19 people on the planet. But you may not be familiar with the daily struggle that many people with diabetes face as they try to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Uncontrolled blood sugar puts people at risk for a range of dangerous complications, some short-term and others longer term, including damage to the eyes, kidneys and heart. A friend of ours told us she worries about her mom, who once passed out from low blood sugar and drove her car off the road.
Many people I’ve talked to say managing their diabetes is like having a part-time job. Glucose levels change frequently with normal activity like exercising or eating or even sweating. Sudden spikes or precipitous drops are dangerous and not uncommon, requiring round-the-clock monitoring. Although some people wear glucose monitors with a glucose sensor embedded under their skin, all people with diabetes must still prick their finger and test drops of blood throughout the day. It’s disruptive, and it’s painful. And, as a result, many people with diabetes check their blood glucose less often than they should.
Over the years, many scientists have investigated various body fluids—such as tears—in the hopes of finding an easier way for people to track their glucose levels. But as you can imagine, tears are hard to collect and study. At Google[x], we wondered if miniaturized electronics—think: chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair—might be a way to crack the mystery of tear glucose and measure it with greater accuracy.
We’re now testing a smart contact lens that’s built to measure glucose levels in tears using a tiny wireless chip and miniaturized glucose sensor that are embedded between two layers of soft contact lens material. We’re testing prototypes that can generate a reading once per second. We’re also investigating the potential for this to serve as an early warning for the wearer, so we’re exploring integrating tiny LED lights that could light up to indicate that glucose levels have crossed above or below certain thresholds. It’s still early days for this technology, but we’ve completed multiple clinical research studies which are helping to refine our prototype. We hope this could someday lead to a new way for people with diabetes to manage their disease.
We’re in discussions with the FDA, but there’s still a lot more work to do to turn this technology into a system that people can use. We’re not going to do this alone: we plan to look for partners who are experts in bringing products like this to market. These partners will use our technology for a smart contact lens and develop apps that would make the measurements available to the wearer and their doctor. We’ve always said that we’d seek out projects that seem a bit speculative or strange, and at a time when the International Diabetes Federation (PDF) is declaring that the world is “losing the battle” against diabetes, we thought this project was worth a shot.
Posted by Brian Otis and Babak Parviz, project co-founders
Category: Google | Jan 14, 2014
It sure is windy in Texas. So windy, in fact, that we’ve made another wind energy investment there. In late December we finalized an agreement to invest $75 million in the Panhandle 2 wind farm in Carson County, outside of Amarillo. The 182MW facility, developed by leading wind developer Pattern Energy Group LP, has the capacity to generate enough renewable energy to power 56,000 U.S. homes. We expect the facility to be operational by the end of 2014.
The future site of Pattern’s Panhandle 2 wind farm
Panhandle 2 is our 15th renewable energy investment overall, and our second in Texas—last year around this time we announced an approximately $200 million investment in the Spinning Spur wind farm. In addition to these two projects, we’re also buying Texas wind from the Happy Hereford wind farm as part of our goal of operating on 100 percent renewable energy. These efforts reflect our long-standing commitment to renewable energy as both an investor and a consumer.
Sunset at another Pattern facility, Gulf Wind
Let that Texas wind blow!
Posted by Nick Coons, Principal, Renewable Energy
Category: Google | Dec 24, 2013
The countdown is over. Santa and his elves have been preparing around the clock for the big day, opening up new pieces of Santa’s Village throughout the month. Santa’s been skydiving, the elves catapulted presents, and Santa even sent custom voice messages to friends and family.
The elves are now reporting that the sleigh is ready for takeoff!
Join Santa as he delivers presents around the globe. Whether you’re in Sydney or South Dakota, hop in the driver’s seat by checking out Santa’s Dash(er) Board. See where Santa’s been, where he’s going, and his real-time jolly status (“mmm, those cookies were delicious!”). Don’t forget to check out the photos and local info for places he visits on the route.
For the next 24 hours, tune in on your desktop, tablet, or phone to the Santa Tracker website. Still worried you’ll miss a minute of Santa’s big day? The developer elves have been hard at work so you can:
And follow Google Maps on Google+, Facebook and Twitter to get up-to-the-minute details on Santa’s journey around the world.
With more than 300,000 kilometers to go, Santa’s got a lot of the map to cover. So set out those cookies and a glass of milk and get ready to #tracksanta!
Posted by Brian McClendon, Vice President, Google Maps
Category: Google | Dec 19, 2013
We launched the Transparency Report in 2010 to provide hard evidence of how laws and policies affect access to information online. Today, for the eighth time, we’re releasing new numbers showing requests from governments to remove content from our services. From January to June 2013, we received 3,846 government requests to remove 24,737 pieces of content—a 68 percent increase over the second half of 2012.
Over the past four years, one worrying trend has remained consistent: governments continue to ask us to remove political content. Judges have asked us to remove information that’s critical of them, police departments want us to take down videos or blogs that shine a light on their conduct, and local institutions like town councils don’t want people to be able to find information about their decision-making processes. These officials often cite defamation, privacy and even copyright laws in attempts to remove political speech from our services. In this particular reporting period, we received 93 requests to take down government criticism and removed content in response to less than one third of them. Four of the requests were submitted as copyright claims.
You can read more about these requests in the Notes section of the Transparency Report. In addition, we saw a significant increase in the number of requests we received from two countries in the first half of 2013:
- There was a sharp increase in requests from Turkey. We received 1,673 requests from Turkish authorities to remove content from our platforms, nearly a tenfold increase over the second half of last year. About two-thirds of the total requests—1,126 to be exact—called for the removal of 1,345 pieces of content related to alleged violations of law 5651.
- Another place where we saw an increase was Russia, where there has been an uptick in requests since a blacklist law took effect last fall. We received 257 removal requests during this reporting period, which is more than double the number of requests we received throughout 2012.
While the information we present in our Transparency Report is certainly not a comprehensive view of censorship online, it does demonstrate a worrying upward trend in the number of government requests, and underscores the importance of transparency around the processes governing such requests. As we continue to add data, we hope it will become increasingly useful and informative in policy debates and decisions around the world.
Posted by Susan Infantino, Legal Director
Category: Google | Dec 17, 2013
Every day, around the world, we search. We want to find out more about our heroes, explore far-away destinations, or settle a dinner table dispute between friends. And sometimes we just search to find out how many calories are in an avocado.
In our annual Year-End Zeitgeist (“spirit of the times”), we reflect on the people, places, and moments that captured the world’s attention throughout the year. This year marks our most global Zeitgeist to date—with 1,000+ top 10 lists across categories like Trending People, Most-Searched Events and Top Trending Searches from 72 countries.
As we get ready to turn the page to 2014, we invite you to take a global journey through the biggest moments from the past 12 months in our Year in Review video:
It’s perhaps unsurprising that the #1 trending search of 2013 was an international symbol of strength and peace: Nelson Mandela. Global search interest in the former President of South Africa was already high this year, and after his passing, people from around the world turned to Google to learn more about Madiba and his legacy.
Tragedies like the Boston Marathon, the 6th trending term globally, and Typhoon Haiyan, #2 on our global events list, also captured the world’s attention. And our human desire to help came through, with [donate to the Philippines] ranking highly around the world.
2013 also had moments that made us move. People uploaded more than 1.7 million video versions of the Harlem Shake to YouTube, propelling it to the #5 spot on our global list; it was also the second most trending video on YouTube. And unashamedly, we all wanted to learn about twerking, which topped this year’s “what is…” list of search terms (although I’m still not sure I understand that one!).
Here’s a full look at our top 10 global trending searches of 2013:
- Nelson Mandela
- Paul Walker
- iPhone 5s
- Cory Monteith
- Harlem Shake
- Boston Marathon
- Royal Baby
- Samsung Galaxy s4
- PlayStation 4
- North Korea
You can also explore more global trends this year—directly from our Zeitgeist homepage. Check out the top 100 trending searches of 2013, and simply click one to dig deeper on Google Trends. Or if you’d rather be nostalgic, you can take a look back at each year’s Zeitgeist from 2001 on.
Finally, we’ve made an interactive 3D global map showcasing the top search trends of 2013 by day in cities around the world. You can easily spin the globe, select a city and explore the topics that brought people to search on any day of the year—from local sports games to international news stories.
As I reflect on the year behind us, I’m excited about what’s to come in the year ahead. What will you be searching for?
Posted by +Amit Singhal, Senior Vice President and Google Fellow
Category: Google | Dec 12, 2013
Nelson Mandela devoted his life to promoting democracy and equality, and he leaves behind a legacy of peaceful change. In advance of Mandela’s funeral service on Sunday in Qunu, South Africa, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Reverend Mpho Tutu, the first female Irish president, Mary Robinson, and Sir Richard Branson will come together for a digital eulogy using Google+ Hangouts.
Join them tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. EST. The conversation will be hosted by PeaceJam and The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, and moderated by CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Share your questions for the participants with #MandelaTribute. Tune in to celebrate the life of an individual who changed the world.
Posted by the Google Blog Team
Category: Google | Dec 12, 2013
The holidays are here, and that means eggnog lattes, festive lights and spending time with the people you love. It’s also the season to give back and help make the world brighter for those in need. Today we’re unveiling six new Global Impact Awards—totaling $11.5 million in grants—to innovators using technology to tackle the world’s toughest challenges.
This year, we’re inviting you to get in the giving groove with 12 Days of Giving—an interactive holiday calendar where you can explore a Google-backed cause, donate to what inspires you and unwrap a surprise each day—such as meeting Pamela the polar bear or experiencing how far people walk to reach clean water. To spread cheer throughout the year, download OneToday for a daily reminder to give back.
The 12 Days of Giving include our six newest Global Impact Awardees. Join me in celebrating these tech-fueled initiatives:
- Zooniverse: Advanced crowdsourced research hub that allows anyone, anywhere to help create scientific breakthroughs as a citizen scientist.
- Kiva: Finance lab that enables anyone to provide affordable loans to entrepreneurs, students and farmers in poor countries, to support people left out of traditional finance.
- Landesa and FrontlineSMS: Mobile system that transforms the inefficient and confusing process to establish land rights into an accessible, efficient way for poor farmers to get title to their land.
- Get Schooled: Online platform that provides free college prep for underserved students by aggregating resources on scholarships, tests and applications, and setting personal reminders for staying on track.
- Samasource: Open-sourced platform to train data workers in developing countries and provide jobs.
- DoSomething.org: Comprehensive data initiative to empower more young people to lead and share powerful and effective social impact campaigns.
In 2013, we donated more than $100 million in grants, $1 billion in free ads and apps and 60,000 volunteer hours to nonprofits around the globe.
Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Google.org