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Category: Google | Mar 10, 2014
Tobi Mueller started coding when his grandfather, who works in IT, gave him access to a spare PC. It was a sweet 286 machine which Tobi learned to program with the then-popular teaching language Pascal. He eventually became interested in free and open source software, but it was Google Summer of Code (GSoC) that helped transform Tobi into the free software contributor he is today.
Tobi was a GSoC student in 2007 for GNOME, a free software desktop environment. He’s been a regular contributor to the GNOME community ever since—and in 2012, Tobi was elected to the GNOME Foundation board of directors.
Tobi is one of more than 7,500 students who have participated in Google Summer of Code program over the past nine years. Every summer, GSoC participants work with various organizations in the open source community, building important technical skills and gaining workplace experience. Students aren’t the only ones who benefit; their projects also give back to the open source community. Karen Sandler, GNOME’s executive director, told us how Google Summer of Code “encourages and empowers” new contributors and helps “invigorate projects.”
So if you’re a university student looking to earn real-world experience this summer, we hope you’ll consider coding for a cool open source project with Google Summer of Code. We’re celebrating the 10th year of the program in 2014, and we’d love to see more student applicants than ever before. In 2013 we accepted almost 1,200 students and we’re planning to accept 10 percent more this year.
You can submit proposals on our website starting now through Friday, March 21 at 12:00pm PDT. Get started by reviewing the ideas pages of the 190 open source projects in this year’s program, and decide which projects you’re interested in. There are a limited number of spots, and writing a great project proposal is essential to being selected to the program—so be sure to check out the Student Manual for advice. For ongoing information throughout the application period and beyond, see the Google Open Source blog.
Good luck to all the open source coders out there, and remember to submit your proposals early—you only have until March 21 to apply!
Posted by Carol Smith, Google Open Source team
Category: Google | Mar 8, 2014
Picture the women in your life—the women you admire. Your grandma. Your daughter. Toni Morrison. Maria Klawe. Temple Grandin. Malala. Somaly Mam. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate these phenomenal women and all the others around the world—to recognize their impact on society, and to focus on what still needs to be done to achieve gender equality. Today, Google is joining in and showcasing inspiring women of the past and present through a series of events, new content on the Cultural Institute and—of course—a doodle. Join us in celebrating women worldwide!
Celebrating technical women on stage at global Women Techmakers events
To help increase visibility, community and resources for technical women, we’re launching a series of 100+ Women Techmakers events in 52 countries to celebrate and support passionate techmakers around the world. Starting today and throughout March, the event series will feature panel discussions with talented female technology leaders, hands-on career planning workshops, networking opportunities and more. To learn more about the program and find an event near you, visit g.co/womentechmakers.
Shining a light on women in history and their collective impact
The Google Cultural Institute is launching Women in Culture, a new channel featuring exhibits that tell stories of women—some familiar and some lesser-known—and their impact on the world. Starting today, you can browse 18 new exhibits, from both new and existing Cultural Institute partners, including:
Since history has so often been biased, leaving out or sidelining contributions from women, the channel is also integrated with the rest of the Cultural Institute collections, making it easier for people to discover even more amazing stories about women throughout history.
A homepage homage
Women have been underrepresented in the history-telling of almost all fields: science, school curricula, business, politics—and, sadly, doodles. In addition to our continued effort for doodle diversity and inclusion, today’s truly International Women’s Day doodle features a host of more than 100 inspiring women from around the world, including the President of Lithuania, a brave Pakistani education activist, the most recorded artist in music history, an ever-curious explorer and dozens more.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Posted by Kyle Ewing, People Operations
Category: Google | Mar 5, 2014
At age 40, my mom quit her job to start an employment agency for people with disabilities. Over the next few years and without a college degree or any formal funding, she grew her business to employ more than 30 people and serve thousands of clients.
Though to me she’s one-of-a-kind, it turns out there are other women like my mom out there. According to the National Association of Women Business Owners, women make up 30 percent of U.S. business owners and employ nearly 7.8 million workers. Even though women-owned enterprises operate with far less capital, in the venture-backed tech industry, they produce 12 percent higher returns. That means that not only is supporting women in business the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do.
In an effort to find new ways to advance female entrepreneurs, this week Google for Entrepreneurs is committing $1 million in aggregate to 40 startup-focused organizations, challenging them to increase the representation of women in their respective tech communities. From simply changing the times of events to accommodate busy moms to teaching young girls to see themselves as entrepreneurs, 40 of our partner communities will soon launch new programs and outreach initiatives to encourage women founders. We’re calling this collective effort #40Forward. Here are a few highlights from our global community:
- 1871 in Chicago is launching a new accelerator program for women founded or co-founded companies that’s more flexible and family-friendly, with a customized plan for each startup.
- Gaza Sky Geeks in Gaza is providing rewards for women attending startup events to demonstrate the economic value of them getting involved in tech to their families.
- Startup Grind chapters all over the world are hosting Women Take the Stage fireside chats featuring successful women business leaders in their communities.
- Outbox in Uganda is launching a year-long training to teach young women programming and entrepreneurial skills.
- Astia is increasing female entrepreneurs’ access to capital by creating monthly opportunities for women-led companies to pitch to world-class investors.
Along with our 40 partners, we hope to create more inclusive networks and to move the needle for entrepreneurs like my mom—and young women like me who aspire to be like her. Follow and participate in the conversation throughout the month of March using #40Forward on Google+ and Twitter.
Posted by Bridgette Sexton Beam, Global Entrepreneurship Manager
Category: Google | Feb 27, 2014
This guest post is from Krista Wright, the executive director of Polar Bears International. We’ve partnered with PBI to share a fascinating look at polar bears in the wild using Google Maps. -Ed.
In Inuit poetry, the polar bear is known as Pihoqahiak, the ever-wandering one. Some of the most majestic and elusive creatures in the world, polar bears travel hundreds of miles every year, wandering the tundra and Arctic sea ice in search of food and mates. Today, with the help of Street View, we’re celebrating International Polar Bear Day by sharing an intimate look at polar bears in their natural habitat.
The Street View Trekker, mounted on a Tundra Buggy, captures images of Churchill’s polar bears
We’ve joined forces with Google Maps to collect Street View imagery from a remote corner of Canada’s tundra: Churchill, Manitoba, home to one of the largest polar bear populations on the planet. With the help of outfitters Frontiers North, the Google Maps team mounted the Street View Trekker onto a specially designed “Tundra Buggy,” allowing us to travel across this fragile landscape without interfering with the polar bears or other native species. Through October and November we collected Street View imagery from the shores of Hudson’s Bay as the polar bears waited for the sea ice to freeze over.
One of Churchill, Manitoba’s Polar Bears on Street View
Modern cartography and polar bear conservation
There’s more to this effort than images of cuddly bears, though. PBI has been working in this region for more than 20 years, and we’ve witnessed firsthand the profound impact of warmer temperatures and melting sea ice on the polar bear’s environment. Understanding global warming, and its impact on polar bear populations, requires both global and regional benchmarks. Bringing Street View to Canada’s tundra establishes a baseline record of imagery associated with specific geospatial data—information that’s critical if we’re to understand and communicate the impact of climate change on their sensitive ecosystem. As we work to safeguard their habitat, PBI can add Street View imagery to the essential tools we use to assess and respond to the biggest threat facing polar bears today.
We also use the Google Maps API to support our Bear Tracker, which illustrates the frozen odyssey these bears embark on every year. As winter approaches and the sea ice freezes over, polar bears head out onto Hudson Bay to hunt for seals. Bear Tracker uses of satellite monitors and an interactive Google Map to display their migration for a global audience.
Mapping the communities of Canada’s Arctic
Google’s trip north builds on work they’ve done in the Arctic communities of Cambridge Bay and Iqaluit. In the town of Churchill, the Google Maps team conducted a community MapUp, which let participants use Map Maker to edit and add to the Google Map. From the Town Centre Complex, which includes the local school, rink and movie theatre, to the bear holding facility used to keep polar bears who have wandered into town until their release can be planned, the citizens of the Churchill made sure Google Maps reflects the community that they know.
But building an accurate and comprehensive map of Canada’s north also means heading out of town to explore this country’s expansive tundra. And thanks to this collaboration with Google Maps, people around the world now have the opportunity to virtually experience Canada’s spectacular landscape—and maybe take a few moments to wander in the footsteps of the polar bear.
Posted by Krista Wright, Executive Director of Polar Bears International
Category: Google | Feb 19, 2014
Over the coming weeks the new Google Maps will make its way onto desktops around the world. Many of you have been previewing it since its debut last May, and thanks to your helpful feedback we’re ready to make the new Maps even more widely available.
It’s now even easier to plan your next trip, check live traffic conditions, discover what’s happening around town, and learn about a new area—with Pegman’s help if needed. Here’s a quick refresher on what to expect in the new Google Maps:
- Make smarter decisions. Simply search for “coffee” in your neighborhood, and you’ll be able to see results and snippets right on the map. When you click on a cafe, the map will suggest related results that you may not have known about.
- Get where you’re going, faster. Car? Bike? Train? Find the most efficient route for you, with your best options laid out on the map, including the time and distance for each route. And with the new real-time traffic reports and Street View previews, you’ll become a commuting ninja.
- See the world from every angle. Rich imagery takes you to notable landmarks, sends you flying above mountains in 3D, and gives you a sneak peek of businesses you plan to visit. The new “carousel” at the bottom of the map makes all this imagery easy to access, so you can explore the world with a click.
With any product redesign, there may be bumps along the road. We’re hoping that you’re as excited as we are to navigate uncharted territory in pursuit of the perfect map. As always, we want to hear what you think as we work to improve the new Maps over time.
Here’s to many more years of mapping together!
Posted by Brian McClendon, VP of Google Maps
Category: Google | Feb 19, 2014
Over the last few years, gigabit Internet has moved from idea to reality, with dozens of communities (PDF) working hard to build networks with speeds 100 times faster than what most of us live with today. People are hungrier than ever for faster Internet, and as a result, cities across America are making speed a priority. Hundreds of mayors from across the U.S. have stated (PDF) that abundant high-speed Internet access is essential for sparking innovation, driving economic growth and improving education. Portland, Nashville (PDF) and dozens of others have made high-speed broadband a pillar of their economic development plans. And Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, declared in June that every school should have access to gigabit speeds by 2020.
We’ve long believed that the Internet’s next chapter will be built on gigabit speeds, so it’s fantastic to see this momentum. And now that we’ve learned a lot from our Google Fiber projects in Kansas City, Austin and Provo, we want to help build more ultra-fast networks. So we’ve invited cities in nine metro areas around the U.S.—34 cities altogether—to work with us to explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber.
We aim to provide updates by the end of the year about which cities will be getting Google Fiber. Between now and then, we’ll work closely with each city’s leaders on a joint planning process that will not only map out a Google Fiber network in detail, but also assess what unique local challenges we might face. These are such big jobs that advance planning goes a long way toward helping us stick to schedules and minimize disruption for residents.
We’re going to work on a detailed study of local factors that could affect construction, like topography (e.g., hills, flood zones), housing density and the condition of local infrastructure. Meanwhile, cities will complete a checklist of items that will help them get ready for a project of this scale and speed. For example, they’ll provide us with maps of existing conduit, water, gas and electricity lines so that we can plan where to place fiber. They’ll also help us find ways to access existing infrastructure—like utility poles—so we don’t unnecessarily dig up streets or have to put up a new pole next to an existing one.
While we do want to bring Fiber to every one of these cities, it might not work out for everyone. But cities who go through this process with us will be more prepared for us or any provider who wants to build a fiber network. In fact, we want to give everyone a boost in their thinking about how to bring fiber to their communities; we plan to share what we learn in these 34 cities, and in the meantime you can check out some tips in a recent guest post on the Google Fiber blog by industry expert Joanne Hovis. Stay tuned for updates, and we hope this news inspires more communities across America to take steps to get to a gig.
Posted by Milo Medin, VP, Google Access Services
Category: Google | Feb 19, 2014
Ever since our founders began working out of a garage in Menlo Park, we’ve thought about what it takes for entrepreneurs to build the companies they dream of. Sometimes this means bringing great startups to Google—but other times, it means we go to them. Today, we’re launching Google Capital, a new growth equity fund backed by Google and led by partners David Lawee, Scott Tierney and Gene Frantz.
Like our colleagues at Google Ventures, our goal is to invest in the most promising companies of tomorrow, with one important difference. While Google Ventures focuses mainly on early-stage investments, we’ll be looking to invest in companies solely as they hit their growth phase. That means finding companies that have already built a solid foundation and are really ready to expand their business in big ways. We’ll look across a range of industries for companies with new technologies and proven track records in their fields. Our investments to date include SurveyMonkey, Lending Club and Renaissance Learning—with many more to come.
But it’s not just a monetary investment for us. The most important—and distinctive—feature of Google Capital is how we work with our portfolio companies. Over the past 15 years, Google has built a strong business, and that’s mostly thanks to the great people who work here. Our portfolio companies have abundant access to the talent, passion and strategic expertise of some of Google’s technology and product leaders. While many investors may contribute money and advice to the companies they support, Google Capital is going beyond that and tapping into our greatest assets: our people. They help us succeed, and we believe they can help our portfolio companies do the same.
It’s still very early, and investing is a long road. We’re excited about what we’re doing today—but even more excited to see what happens in the years to come.
Posted by David Lawee, Partner, Google Capital
Category: Google | Feb 12, 2014
What if you could turn one of your passions into something that could change the world? That’s just what thousands of teens have done since the first Google Science Fair in 2011. These students have tackled some of today’s greatest challenges, like an anti-flu medicine, more effective ways to beat cancer, an exoskeletal glove, a battery-free flashlight, banana bioplastics and more efficient ways of farming.
Now it’s time to do it again: we’re calling for students ages 13-18 to submit their brilliant ideas for the fourth annual Google Science Fair, in partnership with Virgin Galactic, Scientific American, LEGO Education and National Geographic. All you need to participate is curiosity and an Internet connection. Project submissions are due May 12, and the winners will be announced at the finalist event at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., on September 22.
In addition to satisfying your curious mind, your project can also win you some pretty cool prizes. This year’s grand prize winner will have the chance to join the Virgin Galactic team at Spaceport America in New Mexico as they prepare for space flight and will be among the first to welcome the astronauts back to Earth, a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands aboard the National Geographic Endeavour and a full year’s digital access to Scientific American magazine for their school. Age category winners will have a choice between going behind the scenes at the LEGO factory in Billund, Denmark or an amazing experience at either a Google office or National Geographic.
For the 2014 competition, we’ll also give two new awards to celebrate even more talented young scientists:
- The Computer Science Award will be given to a project that champions innovation and excellence in the field of computer science.
- Local Award Winners—students whose projects have attempted to address an issue relevant to their community—will be honored in select locations globally.
And the Scientific American Science In Action award will once again honor a project that addresses a health, resource or environmental challenge. The winner will receive a year’s mentoring from Scientific American and a $50,000 grant toward their project.
Stay updated throughout the competition on our Google+ page, get inspired by participating in virtual field trips and ask esteemed scientists questions in our Hangout on Air series. If you need help jump-starting your project, try out the Idea Springboard for inspiration.
What do you love? What are you good at? What problem have you always dreamed of solving? Get started with your project today—it’s your turn to change the world.
Posted by Clare Conway, Google Science Fair team
Category: Google | Feb 10, 2014
Last week, Solve for X gathered 60 entrepreneurs and scientists from around the world to discuss 18 moonshot proposals—world-changing projects that work to address a huge problem, suggest a radical solution and use some form of breakthrough technology to make it work.
Ira Glass opened the summit with a talk on climate change entitled “Ira Glass tries to boss you into a moonshot.” Ira mixed data, devastating personal experiences, potential technical solutions and insightful ways to think about the issue and made an excellent case that generalists should consider shifting focus to climate change.
Following Ira’s talk, we heard proposals on a wide variety of topics, including: Leslie Dewan’s proposal for generating power from nuclear waste building on technology ideas abandoned in the 1950s; Lonnie Johnson’s JTEC invention, which would allow us to convert heat directly into electricity; Howard Shapiro’s global collaboration that uses some of the newest and oldest technologies in agriculture to end stunting for rural poor; Julia Greer’s exploration of the relationship between a material’s strength and its weight through 3D architected nanomaterials; Yael Hanein’s artificial solar retina, which has the potential to cure blindness; Erez Livneh’s virus decoys, which could slow and eliminate disease; and Asel Sartbeava’s proposal for thermally stable vaccines that remove the need for refrigeration cold chain during transport.
Ido Bachelet explains how certain surgical interventions could be accomplished through nanorobots.
During a “show and tell” session, participants from previous Solve for X events shared updates on their moonshots. Omri Amirav-Drory showed us plants that glow when activated; Dr. Keith Black brought delicious Dr. Black’s Brain Bars; Karen Gleason brought solar cells printed on paper; Andras Forgacs brought the first “steak chips” that Modern Meadow is beta-“tasting.”
In an effort to include more people in the Solve for X experience, this year we ran 10 experiments to bring our exploration session format into other organizations’ events, including TEDx Beacon Street, SXSW and Tribeca Film Festival; we even held an event on Capitol Hill. FabLab, ReWork and AAAS recently became collaborators, joining Singularity University, XPrize, TED and others. We hope we’ll run into you at an event in your area.
To learn more, watch our video “On Taking Moonshots” in which several moonshot pioneers talk about the mindset needed to do this kind of breakthrough work. You can find all 18 of the proposals from the 2014 Summit, as well as 200+ moonshots posted by other pioneers, at SolveforX.com. You can also submit moonshots—your own or others that fit the tech moonshot proposal format. Join our #TechMoonshots conversations on Google+ and Twitter.
Posted by Megan Smith and Astro Teller, co-hosts/creators of Solve for X
Category: Google | Feb 6, 2014
The best meetings are face-to-face—we can brainstorm openly, collaborate closely and make faster decisions. But these days, we often connect with each other from far-flung locations, coordinating time zones and dialing into conference calls from our phones. Meetings need to catch up with the way we work—they need to be face-to-face, easier to join, and available from anywhere and any device. Starting today, they can be: Any company can upgrade their meeting rooms with a new Chromebox, built on the Chrome principles of speed, simplicity and security.
Chromebox for meetings brings together Google+ Hangouts and Google Apps in an easy-to-manage Chromebox, making it simpler for any company to have high-definition video meetings. Here are a few highlights:
- Instant meeting room. Chromebox for meetings comes with a blazing-fast Intel Core i7-based Chromebox, a high-definition camera, a combined microphone and speaker unit and a remote control. Set up your entire room in minutes and easily manage all meeting rooms from a web-based management console. All you need is the display in your room, and you’re good to go.
- Simpler and faster meetings. Walk into the room, click the remote once and you’re instantly in the meeting. No more complex dial-in codes, passcodes or leader PINs. Share your laptop screen wirelessly, no need for any cords and adaptors. Integration with Google Apps makes it easy to invite others and add rooms to video meetings, directly from Google Calendar.
- Meetings with anyone, anywhere. Up to 15 participants can join the video meeting from other conference rooms, their laptops, tablets or smartphones. Need to meet with a customer who doesn’t use Chromebox for meetings? That’s easy too—all they need is a Gmail account. You can also connect to rooms that have traditional video conferencing systems using a new tool from Vidyo, and participants who prefer phones can join your meeting with a conference call number from UberConference.
Chromebox for meetings is available in the U.S. today starting at $999, which includes the ASUS Chromebox and everything you need to get going. That means for the same price that companies have typically paid for one meeting room, they’ll be able to outfit 10 rooms—or more. CDW and SYNNEX will help bring Chromebox for meetings to customers and resellers, and Chromeboxes from HP and Dell will be available for meetings in the coming months. Later this year, we plan to launch in Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the U.K.
Companies like Eventbrite, Gilt, oDesk and Woolworths have been testing Chromebox for meetings, and have told us that they love the simple setup, the ease of use, and being able to see their colleagues in other offices. More importantly, the low price will enable them to extend these benefits to even more employees, rooms and offices. Find out how Chromebox for meetings can help you and your coworkers see eye-to-eye. Happy meetings, everyone!
Posted by Caesar Sengupta, VP, Product Management