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Category: Google | Mar 12, 2013
Algorithmic competitions are to programmers what tournaments are to tennis players: an opportunity to feel the rush of competition, learn new techniques and face off against their best counterparts from around the globe. Code Jam, Google’s worldwide online programming competition, gives developers a chance to use their favorite programming languages to solve algorithmic problems created by a team of contest champions at Google.
Our 10th annual global Code Jam kicks off next month, starting with a qualification round on April 12. After three more online rounds, the top 25 contestants will be invited to Google’s London office on August 16 for a final matchup and a chance to win the coveted title of Code Jam Champion.
With more than 20,000 participants last year, Code Jam has grown leaps and bounds since it began in 2003*. To celebrate the competition’s 10th anniversary, we’ve raised the stakes: the winner will claim $15,000, and will automatically qualify for the 2014 Code Jam finals to defend his or her title.
If you’re up to the challenge of solving tough problems and coding elegant solutions (and perhaps debugging less elegant solutions), then register now. Want to warm up for the Qualification Round with a problem or two? How about finding the margin of safety for contestants on a television show, optimizing a tower defense game or swinging through the jungle on vines? You have a whole month to prepare yourself for the first hurdle on Friday, April 12.
Posted by Onufry Wojtaszczyk, Software Engineer, Google Code Jam
*To the mathematically inclined (all of our competitors), 2003-2013 sounds like enough time for 11 Code Jams. Nevertheless, this one will actually be our tenth global contest: we went through a major format change between 2006 and 2008, and there wasn’t a global contest in 2007.
Category: Google | Mar 7, 2013
A diverse workforce is critical in helping us build products that can help people change the world. That includes diversity of all life experiences, including gender.
Women were some of the first programmers and continue to make a major impact on the programming world today. We think it’s important to highlight the great work women are doing in computer science, to help provide role models for young women thinking about careers in computing.
Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, and as one of our contributions to the celebration, we’re proud to support Voices Global Conference, presented by Global Tech Women. As part of this 24-hour live streamed event, Google will provide more than a dozen hours of free talks featuring women working in computer science, beginning today. To access the full schedule and our ongoing broadcasts, see our section on the Voices website, which will be updated throughout the day.
The Voices Global Conference is the brainchild of Global Tech Women’s founder Deanna Kosaraju, who also started India’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in 2010 with grant support from Google. The India conferences, which provide a forum for women to share their professional and research work in computing, have grown rapidly, with more than 800 attendees in 2012. So when Deanna proposed this global, 24-hour streamed conference, we knew it was a great opportunity to help women and other audiences around the world learn more and get inspired about the contributions women are making to technology and computer science.
Our sessions will feature a range of material, from new episodes of the Women Techmakers series and interviews with women leaders like the head of Lexity India Mani Abrol, to discussions focusing on technologies like Google Compute Engine. For a sneak peek of the type of content we’ll be providing, check out Pavni’s story below, produced in conjunction with PBS’ MAKERS series. I’ve provided advice to many young people in India interested in studying computer science and pursuing their own dreams—so Pavni’s tenacity, coupled with the encouragement and support she received from her father, resonated with me. We’re excited to share her story and others like it alongside technical conversations and discussions on women in technology as part of this conference.
I hope you’ll join us for our sessions—and in the meantime, you can learn more about our efforts to support women at Google and beyond.
Posted by Beryl Nelson, Software Engineering Manager
Category: Google | Mar 7, 2013
Last year, we started a program to partner with advertisers and agencies to re-imagine how brands tell stories in a connected world. Project Re: Brief set out to recreate some of the advertising industry’s most iconic, classic campaigns using the latest technology tools. This year we’re expanding that program to work with some of today’s most iconic brands and innovative marketers, in our new project: Art, Copy & Code.
Art, Copy & Code is a series of projects and experiments to show how creativity and technology can work hand in hand. Some of these will include familiar brands like Volkswagen, Burberry and adidas—projects developed in partnership with their creative teams and agencies. Others will be creative experiments with innovative filmmakers, creative directors and technologists to explore how brands can connect with consumers through a whole range of digital tools—including ads, mobile apps and social experiences. Our first partner project is a new social driving experience—Volkswagen Smileage.
Building off their 2012 campaign, “It’s not the miles, it’s how you live them,” Volkswagen Smileage is a mobile app and web service that aims to add a little bit of fun to every drive, from your daily commutes to holiday road trips. The app measures the fun factor of each trip using a metric called “smileage,” based on signals like weather, traffic, location, time and social interactions (e.g., a long drive on a sunny Saturday afternoon might accumulate more smileage than a morning commute in the snow). You can use it with any car, not just Volkswagens.
Powered by the new Google+ sign-in, you can choose to share Smileage experience with friends and family. For example, during a road trip, photos and videos taken by you and your co-passengers can be automatically added to a live interactive map. The inspiration for the service came from a recent study showing that every day, 144 million Americans on average spend 52 minutes in a car—76 percent of them alone. We wanted to make that time a more shareable experience. Volkswagen Smileage will be available soon in beta—you can sign up on this webpage for early access.
We’ll have many more experiments to share in the Art, Copy & Code project soon—subscribe for updates at ArtCopyCode.com. We’re committed to investing in technology and tools over the long term to help brands and their agencies succeed not just today, but in a digital future that will look very different.
If you’re planning on attending SXSW, stop by the Google Playground on March 9 to see demos of these experiments, or attend our talk on March 10.
Posted by Aman Govil, Art, Copy & Code Project Lead
Category: Google | Mar 7, 2013
With nearly 5,000 earthquakes a year, it’s important for people in Japan to have crisis preparedness and response information available at their fingertips. And from our own research, we know that when a disaster strikes, people turn to the Internet for more information about what is happening.
With this in mind, we’re launching Google Public Alerts today in Japan—the first international expansion of a service we debuted last year in the United States. Google Public Alerts is a platform designed to provide accurate and relevant emergency alerts when and where you’re searching for them online.
Relevant earthquake and tsunami warnings for Japan will now appear on Google Search, Google Maps and Google Now when you search online during a time of crisis. If a major earthquake alert is issued in Kanagawa Prefecture, for example, the alert information will appear on your desktop and mobile screens when you search for relevant information on Google Search and Google Maps.
Example of a Google Search result on a tablet showing a tsunami warning
Example of a tsunami warning on Google Maps
If you click “詳細” (“More info”) right under the alert, you’ll see more details about the announcement, including the full description from the Japan Meteorological Agency, a link to their site, and other useful information like observed arrival times and wave heights for tsunamis.
Example of how a tsunami alert would work in Fukushima
And when you open Google Now on your Android device, recommended actions and information will be tailored to where you are. For example, if you happen to be in Tokyo at a time when a tsunami alert is issued, Google Now will show you a card containing information about the tsunami alert, as well as any available evacuation instructions:
Example of a tsunami warning card on Google Now
We’re able to provide Public Alerts in Japan thanks to the Japan Meteorological Agency, whose publication of data enables Google and others to make critical and life-saving information more widely available.
We hope our technology, including Public Alerts, will help people better prepare for future crises and create more far-reaching support for crisis recovery. This is why in Japan, Google has newly partnered with 14 Japanese prefectures and cities, including seven from the Tōhoku region, to make their government data available online and more easily accessible to users, both during a time of crisis and after. The devastating Tōhoku Earthquake struck Japan only two years ago, and the region is still slowly recovering from the tragedy.
We look forward to expanding Google Public Alerts to more countries and working with more warning providers soon. We also encourage potential partners to read our FAQ and to consider putting data in an open format, such as the Common Alerting Protocol. To learn more about Public Alerts, visit our Public Alerts homepage.
Posted by Yu Chen, Partner Technology Manager
Category: Google | Mar 6, 2013
Accessing digital entertainment should be simple, whether you like to read books on your tablet, listen to music on your phone and computer, or watch movies on all three. That’s why one year ago today we launched Google Play, where you can find and enjoy your favorite music, movies, books and apps on your Android phone and tablet, or on the web.
Google Play has grown rapidly in the last year, bringing you more content in more languages and places around the globe. In addition to offering more than 700,000 apps and games, we’ve partnered with all of the major music companies, movie studios and publishers to bring you the music, movies, TV shows, books and magazines you love. And we’ve added more ways for you to buy them, including paying through your phone bill and gift cards, which we’re beginning to roll out in the U.K. this week.
Since no birthday is complete without presents, we’re celebrating with a bunch of special offers across the store on songs, TV shows, movies and books. We’re even offering a collection of games with some fun birthday surprises created by developers.
It’s been a busy year, but we’re just getting started. We look forward to many more years of bringing you the best in entertainment!
Posted by Jamie Rosenberg, VP of Digital Content, Google Play
Category: Google | Mar 5, 2013
Our users trust Google with a lot of very important data, whether it’s emails, photos, documents, posts or videos. We work exceptionally hard to keep that information safe—hiring some of the best security experts in the world, investing millions of dollars in technology and baking security protections such as 2-step verification into our products.
Of course, people don’t always use our services for good, and it’s important that law enforcement be able to investigate illegal activity. This may involve requests for personal information. When we receive these requests, we:
- scrutinize them carefully to ensure they satisfy the law and our policies;
- seek to narrow requests that are overly broad;
- notify users when appropriate so they can contact the entity requesting the information or consult a lawyer; and
- require that government agencies use a search warrant if they’re seeking search query information or private content, like Gmail and documents, stored in a Google Account.
When conducting national security investigations, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation can issue a National Security Letter (NSL) to obtain identifying information about a subscriber from telephone and Internet companies. The FBI has the authority to prohibit companies from talking about these requests. But we’ve been trying to find a way to provide more information about the NSLs we get—particularly as people have voiced concerns about the increase in their use since 9/11.
Starting today, we’re now including data about NSLs in our Transparency Report. We’re thankful to U.S. government officials for working with us to provide greater insight into the use of NSLs. Visit our page on user data requests in the U.S. and you’ll see, in broad strokes, how many NSLs for user data Google receives, as well as the number of accounts in question. In addition, you can now find answers to some common questions we get asked about NSLs on our Transparency Report FAQ.
You’ll notice that we’re reporting numerical ranges rather than exact numbers. This is to address concerns raised by the FBI, Justice Department and other agencies that releasing exact numbers might reveal information about investigations. We plan to update these figures annually.
Posted by Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security
(Cross-posted on the Public Policy Blog)
Category: Google | Mar 4, 2013
An excellent guide often best brings an art gallery or museum’s collections to life. Starting this week, we’re hoping to bring this experience online with “Art Talks,” a series of Hangouts on Air on our Google Art Project Google+ page. Each month, curators, museum directors, historians and educators from some of the world’s most renowned cultural institutions will reveal the hidden stories behind particular works, examine the curation process and provide insights into particular masterpieces or artists.
The first guided visit will be held this Wednesday, March 6 at 8pm ET from The Museum of Modern Art. Deborah Howes, Director of Digital Learning, along with a panel of artists and students, will discuss how to teach art online. To post a question, visit the event page. If this talk falls too late for you to tune in live, you can watch afterward on our Google Art Project YouTube channel.
The next talk is from London. On March 20, Caroline Campbell and Arnika Schmidt from the National Gallery will discuss depictions of the female nude. Details are available on the Art Project’s event page. In April we’ll host a panel examining one of the Google Art Project’s popular gigapixel works, Bruegel’s “Tower of Babel,” featuring Peter Parshall, curator at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
Additional talks are planned by curators from high-profile institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Museo Nacional de Arte in Mexico and the Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar.
Google Art Project aims to make art more accessible to all. We hope that Art Talks is the next step in bringing art to your armchair, wherever you are in the world, with just a click of a button. Stay tuned to the Art Project and Cultural Institute Google+ pages for more information on dates and times of these online lectures.
Posted by Lucy Schwartz, Google Cultural Institute
Category: Google | Feb 28, 2013
If you’re a blind or low-vision user, you know that working in the cloud poses unique challenges. Our accessibility team had an opportunity to address some of those challenges at the 28th annual CSUN International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference this week. While there, we led a workshop on how we’ve been improving the accessibility of Google technologies. For all those who weren’t at the conference, we want to share just a few of those improvements and updates:
Chrome and Google Apps
- Chrome OS now supports a high-quality text-to-speech voice (starting with U.S. English). We’ve also made spoken feedback, along with screen magnification and high-contrast mode available out-of-the-box to make Chromebook and Chromebox setup easier for users with accessibility needs.
- Gmail now has a consistent navigation interface, backed by HTML5 ARIA, which enables blind and low-vision users to effectively navigate using a set of keyboard commands.
- It’s now much easier to access content in your Google Drive using a keyboard—for example, you can navigate a list of files with just the arrow keys. In Docs, you can access features using the keyboard, with a new way to search menu and toolbar options. New keyboard shortcuts and verbalization improvements also make it easier to use Docs, Sheets and Slides with a screenreader.
- The latest stable version of Chrome, released last week, includes support for the Web Search API, which developers can use to integrate speech recognition capabilities into their apps. At CSUN, our friends from Bookshare demonstrated how they use this new functionality to deliver ReadNow—a fully integrated ebook reader for users with print disabilities.
- Finally, we released a new Help Center Guide specifically for blind and low-vision users to ease the transition to using Google Apps.
- We added Braille support to Android 4.1; since then, Braille support has been expanded on Google Drive for Android, making it easier to read and edit your documents. You can also use Talkback with Docs and Sheets to edit on the go.
- With Gesture Mode in Android 4.1, you can reliably navigate the UI using touch and swipe gestures in combination with speech output.
- Screen magnification is now built into Android 4.2—just enable “Magnification gestures,” then triple tap to enter full screen magnification.
- The latest release of TalkBack (available on Play soon) includes several highly-requested features like structured browsing of web content and the ability to easily suspend/resume TalkBack via an easy-to-use radial menu.
These updates to Chrome, Google Apps, and Android will help create a better overall experience for our blind and low-vision users, but there’s still room for improvement. Looking ahead, we’re focused on the use of accessibility APIs that will make it easier for third-party developers to create accessible web applications, as well as pushing the state of the art forward with technologies like speech recognition and text-to-speech. We’re looking forward to working with the rest of the industry to make computers and the web more accessible for everyone.
Posted by T.V. Raman, Engineering Lead, Google Accessibility
Category: Google | Feb 27, 2013
One in three Internet users suffers from restricted access to the web due to government censorship, filtering or online surveillance, according to the free expression advocacy group Reporters Without Borders. Around the world, bloggers and cyber-dissidents are jailed for expressing their views. Reporters Without Borders makes sure their struggles are not forgotten.
We believe in a free and open Internet where everyone can express their opinions and learn from others. For this reason, for the past several years we’ve partnered with Reporters Without Borders to organize their annual Netizen of the Year Award, which honors an Internet user, blogger or cyber-dissident who has made a notable contribution in defense of online freedom of expression.
This year for the first time, Reporters Without Borders is asking you to help decide who will win the award. Nine “netizens”—from Bulgaria, Egypt, Honduras, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mali, Russia, Senegal and Vietnam—have been nominated for consideration. Watch the videos showing their stories and then vote at youtube.com/netizen2013.
We hope you’ll be as inspired as we have been by these brave people. The winner, based on votes from people like you around the world, will be announced on March 7. He or she will be invited to the award ceremony taking place at Google’s Paris office on March 12—the World Day Against Cyber Censorship.
Posted by Florian Maganza, Policy Analyst, Paris
Category: Google | Feb 27, 2013
Smartphones and tablets are great for all sorts of games, and lately we’ve been thinking about new ways to play. Chrome Super Sync Sports is a new Chrome Experiment that uses the unique features of mobile devices to create a new gaming experience on big and small screens. In this game up to four friends can compete in running, swimming and cycling on a shared computer screen, using their smartphones or tablets as game controllers.
To get started, you’ll need a computer and a smartphone or tablet that run a modern browser, like Chrome. Visit chrome.com/supersyncsports on your computer, pick a game and decide if you’re playing solo or with friends. Next, visit g.co/super in Chrome on your smartphone or tablet and type in the unique code shown on your computer screen. You’ve now “super sync”ed your mobile device with your computer, and you’re ready to race!
Use the arrow pad on your smartphone or tablet to select one of 50 athletes and prepare yourself for the competition. The motions you make on your mobile touchscreen will move your athlete on your computer screen. To move your athlete forward and win the race, you need to make the correct gestures as quickly as possible. The better you are, the higher your chances of making it to the global leaderboard.
Select your athlete by using the keypad arrows on your mobile
Race using your smartphone or tablet touchscreen
Up to four friends can play using a shared computer screen
Chrome Super Sync Sports is available for Chrome v15 and above, and for Android 4.0+ and iOS 4.3+ devices. It uses the latest modern web technologies, including HTML5 features such as WebSockets for real-time gaming synchronicity on desktop and mobile, and Canvas and CSS3 for rich and engaging visuals. For more detailed information on the technologies used, see the “About” page.
On your marks, get set, race for your place on the World Leaderboard!
Posted by Steve Vranakis, Executive Creative Director, Google Creative Lab