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Category: Google | Nov 20, 2012
Arabic content on the web represents just 3 percent of the total digital content online—yet Arabic speakers make up more than 5 percent of the global population. To help build a vibrant Arabic web, we’ve created Arabic Web Days, an initiative in the Middle East and North Africa focused on boosting the amount of Arabic content online. (Note: the video below is in Arabic only.)
For the next 30 days, we’re holding a series of online and offline events along with our partners Vinelab, Wamda, Yamli and Taghreedat, as well as Twitter, Wikipedia, TED, Soundcloud, and regional organizations Al Arabiya, TwoFour54 and Qatar Foundation’s Qatari Computing Research Institute. Here’s how you can get involved:
- Participate in a series of Hangouts on Google+ to get tips and tricks from industry experts on contributing Arabic content to the web—through online journalism, YouTube videos, Wikipedia editing, translation of English content, SEO and more
- Join the YouTube Tweet Up in Doha, Qatar on December 15 to learn how to create viral Arabic videos and make money through YouTube
- Participate in the region’s first Arabic infographics competition with Tajseed
- Volunteer to be part of a TED initiative to create quality Arabic digital content via Arabic subtitling during a kick-off event with TED, twofour54 and Taghreedat in Abu Dhabi on December 4
- Sign up for developer training at g|days in Jordan on December 5-6 and Egypt on December 9-10 to learn about Arabic localization, webmaster tools, SEO and YouTube for Business
- Learn about the Egyptian Ministry of Education’s educational channels on YouTube which include different curricula from first to twelfth grade, as well as e-Lessons via video and Google+ Hangouts.
- Celebrate 12/12/12 as National Arabic Web Day
- Connect with us: add the Arabic Web Days badge to your site, upload a video to youtube.com/arabicwebdays, visit our website: www.arabicwebdays.com and follow us on Google+ and Twitter (in Arabic)
To get more details and to sign up for any of the above events, visit Arabic Web Days on Google+ or see the Arabia Blog. Until then, let’s go Arabic!
Posted by Maha Abouelenein, Head of Communications, Middle East and North Africa
Category: Google | Nov 20, 2012
Every time you send a text, check a webpage or post a status update, you’re using open source software. The Internet is made of open source. But have you ever created any yourself? With the Google Code-in contest, pre-university students (13-17 years old) can learn more and create open source software that people all over the world can use—and win cool prizes along the way.
Starting Monday, November 26 and for the following 50 days, contest participants will work on fun online tasks for 10 different open source organizations. Possible challenges include documentation, marketing outreach, software coding, user experience research and more.
Participants earn points for each task they successfully complete and can earn prizes like T-shirts and certificates of completion. This year we’re doubling the number of grand prize winners to 20 talented students, who will win a trip to Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. They’ll spend a day getting a tour of the “Googleplex,” meeting and talking with Google engineers, plus enjoy another full day exploring San Francisco and other surprises.
Some of the 2011 Google Code-in Grand Prize Winners by the Golden Gate Bridge
Last year, 542 students from 56 countries and 360 schools completed 3,054 tasks during the eight-week contest. This year we want to encourage even more students to participate in the contest and learn about open source development. If you’d like to sign up, please review our Frequently Asked Questions and the contest rules on our program site. You can also watch our screencast, check out some sample tasks from last year’s contest and join our discussion list for any other questions. For details on important dates for the contest, see the timeline. You can register for your account on the program site when the contest opens on Monday, November 26 at 9:00am PST.
Finally, our Open Source Programs team will be hosting a Hangout on Air on the Google in Education page November 26 at 2:00pm PST to discuss the details of the Google Code-in contest and answer any questions.
We hope you’ll spend your winter (or summer, for our friends in the southern hemisphere) learning about the ins and outs of open source development through hands-on experience. Ready…set…
Posted by Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Programs
Category: Google | Nov 19, 2012
Thanksgiving is about sharing, giving thanks and connecting with family and friends. Yet, all too often we get caught up in the holiday rat race—the mad dash to the airport, the supermarket, the mall—and forget to take time out to enjoy the holiday.
To kick off the holidays this year, we wanted to crank up the fun and tone down the stress. So we did a little planning for you and created a one-stop-Google-shop to get you through the week.
With tools like recipe search and YouTube cooking videos that show you the right (and wrong) ways to carve a deep-fried turkey, Google can help you master your Thanksgiving meal with lots of laughs along the way. You can also join members of the Google+ cooking community for cooking lessons over live hangouts. Learn how to make new dishes like pumpkin brulee for the sweet tooths at the table or mix things up this year with a vegan-friendly feast.
Though we can’t control the skies and guarantee a turbulence-free flight home, we can help minimize the time you spend waiting around, with real-time flight updates. Download the Google Search App to get flight updates on the go. And don’t forget to download TV shows, music and more from Google Play to stay entertained on board.
Of course, for those of you who couldn’t make it home this year, you can still get everyone together with Google+ Hangouts. Try scheduling a hangout to video chat with up to nine people you’d otherwise miss this holiday.
Whether you’re rooting for the Cowboys or the Jets, Texans or the Patriots, we can help you stay on top of all the scores and stats. If you’re on the run, ask for real time scores or game details using Voice Search on the Google Search App.
This year Black Friday starts on Thursday, with Wal-Mart, Target and Toys R Us all kicking off sales on Thanksgiving night. To help you get a head start on the deal-seekers, try our new shortlists, a super-simple alternative to sharing lists of links or bookmarks, as well as 360-degree imagery for many of the season’s hottest toys on Google Shopping. For those of you brave enough to face the masses at the store, use indoor Google Maps to get in and get out of the mall fast.
By putting all your favorite Google features in one place, we hope we can help make things just a little bit easier this Thanksgiving—giving you more time to make memories with those who matter most and enjoy every last bite of that much deserved pumpkin pie. Visit our Thanksgiving hub to get started.
Posted by Carolyn Witte, Search Marketing Team
Category: Google | Nov 19, 2012
Inspiration comes in many shapes and forms. For U.S. Marine Sgt. Winston Fiore, it was a news article about the International Children’s Surgical Foundation (ICSF) and Dr. Geoff Williams, who provides free facial-reconstructive surgeries for children with cleft lips/palates in developing countries. Although cleft palates are quite correctable, if left untreated the deformity can cause serious health issues. Many children don’t have the surgery because the cost of each procedure ($250 USD) is out of reach for their families.
Inspired to do something to help, Winston set out on a 5,000-mile trek across Southeast Asia to raise money and awareness for the ICSF—a mission he dubbed Smile Trek. Armed with sturdy boots, a 20-pound vest carrying essentials and an Android phone with Google Maps, Winston set off on his mission in October 2011. In the last year, he has walked (yes, walked!) through Brunei, China, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Along the way he’s met countless individuals who have contributed to his cause, whether it was a place to stay, a hot meal or a monetary donation on his website.
Trekking along: Winston, standing in front of a durian fruit stand near Sematan, the westernmost town of Malaysian Borneo
Out on the road, Winston’s Android phone and Google Maps became “the hub” of his entire operation. He used Google Maps to find accurate and easy-to-use walking directions everywhere he went, whether it was through remote villages and farms, down tiny dirt roads, or across rice paddies and desolate sugar cane fields. “Walking directions in Google Maps were critical to my trek. The directions were accurate and efficient—it’s essential to take the shortest route when you’re walking 20-25 miles each day,” said Winston. “But the best part was being routed onto roads and trails through areas I otherwise never would have discovered with, say, driving directions, or even a physical map.”
View the complete map of Winston’s journey on his site
In addition to using Google Maps, Winston relied on many other Google products during his trek. He used Google Latitude to keep his family, friends and supporters informed of his whereabouts, and MyTracks to record his speed, distance and the places he visited. He also used Google Translate to communicate with locals, and in one case found it essential: when bit by a stray dog outside of Bangkok, he typed “I got bit by a dog, can someone take me to a hospital?” into his app. A taxi driver took him to the hospital, where he got 11 shots!
Today, after walking 5,000 miles in 408 days, Sgt. Fiore completes his journey, with more than $65,000 raised for ICSF. The money will help to fund more than 200 life-saving surgeries for children in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world. If you’d like to contribute to the International Children’s Surgery Fund and Winston Fiore’s effort, we encourage you to visit smiletrek.org.
Posted by Jennifer J. Chen, Product Manager, Google Maps
Category: Google | Nov 19, 2012
Globally, there are approximately 285 million visually impaired people in the world—and each one of those people has networks of family and friends. Increasing the accessibility of products impacts not only the millions of people with disabilities, but also the lives of the people connected to them.
It’s because of the wide impact better accessibility tools can have that we partner with organizations like the Vision Serve Alliance, which brings together the CEOs of U.S. nonprofits that serve the blind and visually impaired to network and share best practices.
On Thursday, November 8 we welcomed 63 of these executives to Google’s San Francisco, Calif. office. There, we showed how we’re making Google’s products more accessible to blind and visually impaired users. We also shared insight into Google’s culture—our commitment to openness, transparency and encouraging Googlers to bring their whole selves to work.
The attendees talked with representatives from the Google self-driving car team about the technology’s potential impact on mobility for the blind and visually impaired, as previously demoed by Steve Mahan from the Santa Clara Valley Blind Center. Other teams of Googlers also joined the event to demonstrate accessibility features in products like Chrome and Android. Chromevox is a screen reader that’s built into Chrome OS and the Chrome browser. Android’s built-in accessibility features include text-to-speech, haptic feedback, gesture navigation, trackball and directional-pad navigation, all of which help visually impaired users navigate their mobile devices.
In line with our efforts to empower all people with disabilities, on December 3 we’re celebrating the International Day of Disability in Google offices in North America. We’ll have 7-minute flash talks about how Google’s work on accessibility empowers different communities, and a global product accessibility improvement day where Googlers test our products for accessibility bugs.
Posted by Seval Oz, New Business Development Senior Manager
Category: Google | Nov 15, 2012
If you drive northwest from Des Moines, Iowa, you’ll see a lot of corn fields. From time to time, you’ll also see wind turbines rising out of those fields, making efficient use of our natural resources to produce renewable energy. It’s places like these that are home to a vibrant, emerging clean energy economy.
Today we‘re announcing that we’ve made an equity investment of $75 million in a 50MW wind farm in Rippey, a small town in Greene County, about an hour outside of Des Moines. The Rippey project, developed by RPM Access, is expected to produce enough energy to power over 15,000 Iowa homes. The project, which is now in operation, uses turbines produced by Nordex USA at their Jonesboro, Ark. facility.
Investment team members Nick Coons and Steffi Russell-Egbert visiting the Rippey project on a (windy) day in October.
We’ve taken two approaches to greening the grid in Iowa, a state where we operate a data center. Back in 2010, we entered into a long-term contract to purchase wind energy from NextEra Energy Resources’ Story County II wind farm. This time, we’re investing directly into a wind project, which has been contracted to sell all of the energy to the Central Iowa Power Cooperative, an Iowa-based utility that will deliver the energy to local consumers. We’re happy to help make more renewable energy available to Iowans and to support the growing wind energy industry in the state.
This project brings our committed investment to the renewable energy sector to more than $990 million. Read more about our previous investments on our Google Green site.
Posted by Axel Martinez, Assistant Treasurer, Head of Capital Markets
Category: Google | Nov 14, 2012
To help people find the best places to eat in 46 U.S. cities and regions, we’re revealing the results of our 2013 America’s Top Restaurants Survey covering 1,822 of the nation’s top-rated restaurants. From Boston to Portland and Chicago to Miami, the results of this year’s Zagat Survey are based on millions of reviews from everyday diners who shared their experiences through their favorite Google products.
Winners include perennial favorites like the “exceptional” American Gary Danko (San Francisco), Eric Ripert’s French “seafood shrine” Le Bernardin (New York), and the “flawless” New American Bacchanalia (Atlanta), as well as top spots like Alinea (Chicago), Urasawa (Los Angeles) and Joël Robuchon (Las Vegas).
While many of the top restaurants break out the china and crystal, a number of standouts included in the guide are casual gourmet places like pizzerias: Settebello (Vegas and Salt Lake City), Supino Pizzeria (Detroit’s No.1 restaurant), Serious Pie (Seattle) and Dough (San Antonio); sandwich specialists: Bäco Mercat (LA), Cochon Butcher (New Orleans) and Melt Bar & Grilled (Cleveland); burger specialists: B Spot (Cleveland), Flip Burger Boutique (Atlanta) and Sketch (Philadelphia); and BBQs: Union Woodshop, Slows Bar BQ and Zingerman’s Roadhouse (Detroit).
Thanks to those of you who share your restaurant adventures with us, we also have a snapshot of what dining out in America looks like. Based on surveyors in 10 major cities, we have found that the average number of meals cooked at home (7.0 per week) outpaces the average number of meals they eat/take out (6.1)—a trend that has been building since the Great Recession. We also know that diners in Houston eat out the most (4.1 times per week vs. the 3.2 national average), and that at 19.6 percent, the City of Brotherly Love is also the city of most generous tippers.
Zagat ratings and reviews for tens of thousands of restaurants at every price point and cuisine are available via the Google products you use every day, like search, Google+, Maps and mobile.
Congratulations to this year’s winners and bon appétit!
Posted by Bernardo Hernandez, Managing Director, Zagat
Category: Google | Nov 14, 2012
Imagine having nutrition-label-like data about every product you use at your fingertips—knowing exactly what ingredients make up things like office chairs or house paint and how they could impact your health today and 30 years from now. It’s a future that goes hand in hand with our commitment to creating the healthiest work environments possible and promoting transparency within the wide world of building materials.
Today, we’re taking a step toward that future with a $3 million grant to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a leading non-profit organization that works to create greener buildings and communities in the U.S. and around the world.
There’s a lack of clear and accessible information on building ingredients, which means that a lot of us might be exposed to potentially harmful and toxic chemicals in building materials—whether it’s in the desk you sit at every day or the building’s paints, tiles and carpeting. This grant is designed to improve human health and well-being by supporting more industry research and better standards around healthy materials.
We’ve already done a lot to eliminate many of these chemicals in our offices around the world, and we want to make it easier for others to do the same. The USGBC has had great success with their widely adopted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. LEED is certifying 1.7 million square feet every day with 9.3 billion square feet participating in LEED across all 50 states and 138 countries. We think they’re in a great position to build on this track record to create real and lasting change in the industry.
But it isn’t enough just to have better labeling or standards about the ingredients in various products. We also need to know more about the ingredients themselves, which is why this grant also supports more scientific research and outreach so we can all do a better job of understanding how building materials impact human health. By doing so, we hope to empower consumers and businesses alike to make more informed decisions about the materials they purchase and use in their day-to-day lives.
Posted by Lacy Caruthers, Sustainability Team
Category: Google | Nov 13, 2012
The best thing about building tools is seeing what people do with them. Since Google+ launched, it’s been fascinating to discover people using it in ways we never could have dreamed up—like the photographer who figured out how to turn a camera, a phone and Hangouts into Virtual Photo Walks.
Ghetto Film School had a different idea. They’ve been running filmmaking programs for young people in their South Bronx neighborhood since 2000, and when they heard about Google+, they thought it would be a great way to bring what they do to teenagers beyond the Bronx. And from that simple idea, Ghetto Film School’s MasterClass series—discussions between great directors and young filmmakers from around the world—was born.
Ghetto Film School’s story is the latest addition to the Google+ Stories YouTube channel. Each video captures how people—from small business owners to astronomy fans to journalists—are using Google+ to connect with others who share their interests. Have a Google+ story of your own? We’d love to hear about it.
Posted by Kevin Proudfoot, Executive Creative Director, Creative Lab
Category: Google | Nov 13, 2012
We think it’s important to shine a light on how government actions could affect our users. When we first launched the Transparency Report in early 2010, there wasn’t much data out there about how governments sometimes hamper the free flow of information on the web. So we took our first step toward greater transparency by disclosing the number of government requests we received. At the time, we weren’t sure how things would look beyond that first snapshot, so we pledged to release numbers twice a year. Today we’re updating the Transparency Report with data about government requests from January to June 2012.
This is the sixth time we’ve released this data, and one trend has become clear: Government surveillance is on the rise. As you can see from the graph below, government demands for user data have increased steadily since we first launched the Transparency Report. In the first half of 2012, there were 20,938 inquiries from government entities around the world. Those requests were for information about 34,614 accounts.
The number of government requests to remove content from our services was largely flat from 2009 to 2011. But it’s spiked in this reporting period. In the first half of 2012, there were 1,791 requests from government officials around the world to remove 17,746 pieces of content.
You can see the country-by-country trends for requests to hand over user data and to remove content from our services in the Transparency Report itself, but in aggregate around the world, the numbers continue to go up.
As always, we continue to improve the Transparency Report with each data release. Like before, we’re including annotations for this time period with interesting facts. We’re also showing new bar graphs with data in addition to tables to better display content removal trends over time. We’ve now translated the entire Transparency Report into 40 languages, and we’ve expanded our FAQ—including one that explains how we sometimes receive falsified court orders asking us to remove content. We do our best to verify the legitimacy of the documents we receive, and if we determine that any are fake, we don’t comply.
The information we disclose is only an isolated sliver showing how governments interact with the Internet, since for the most part we don’t know what requests are made of other technology or telecommunications companies. But we’re heartened that in the past year, more companies like Dropbox, LinkedIn, Sonic.net and Twitter have begun to share their statistics too. Our hope is that over time, more data will bolster public debate about how we can best keep the Internet free and open.
Posted by Dorothy Chou, Senior Policy Analyst