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Category: Google | Dec 4, 2013
After 11 months soaking up the sun in the tropics, Santa and his elves are back at the North Pole getting ready for Christmas Eve. In addition to making toys, they need to clear the snow off 23 elf homes, candy factories and command centers in Santa’s Village.
Santa’s jet-skiing all the way to the North Pole from his tropical vacation
To join in the flurry of preparations for Christmas Eve, visit the Village every day through December 24. You’ll have the chance to join the elves as they catapult presents and race with reindeer—and you’ll be able to send holiday wishes to friends and family from Santa himself. The elves make a little more progress each day, so be sure to stop by the Village to see the latest.
Come back to Santa’s Village every day to see the newest games and scenes
Meanwhile, a team of Google engineers are working hard to track Santa’s sleigh with the most advanced maps and holiday technology available. On December 24, grab some cookies and apple cider and settle down in front of your computer, phone or TV to follow the big guy across the globe with our Santa Tracker. See where Santa’s going, the number of presents he’s delivered, and what he’s thinking throughout the evening.
Keep up the holiday cheer across all of your screens. Once the elves approve, we’ll launch the Google Santa Tracker app for Android in mid-December. Use your phone for on-the-go flight practice with the elves or cozy up near the fireplace with your tablet to follow Santa around the world as he delivers presents Christmas Eve. If you have Chromecast, cast from the Santa Tracker Android app to explore the Village or track his route right from your TV. Or, worried you’ll forget the big day? Download the Chrome extension to count down to Santa’s takeoff while browsing the web for holiday gifts.
Help the elves get ready across all your devices
Download the Chrome extension for easy Santa tracking from your browser
Be sure to come back to Santa’s Village each day to find new ways to celebrate—and from all of us at Google, happy holidays!
Posted by Sandy Russell, Elf Creative Director
(Cross-posted from the Lat Long Blog)
Category: Google | Dec 2, 2013
As the holidays approach and our calendars become full, it can be hard to find time to give back to the causes you care about most. Tomorrow, on Giving Tuesday—an annual one-day event that encourages people to make donations to their favorite charities—we’re making it easier for you to connect with a worthy cause through the first-ever “Hangout-a-thon” on Google+.
Starting at 9 a.m. EST tomorrow on the Giving Tuesday Google+ page, you can join nonprofit organizations working to improve clean water access, eliminate bullying, and provide disaster relief in the Philippines. Learn more about their work, ask questions and connect directly to the people they’re helping. Celebrities such as Jennifer Garner, Chris Daughtry and Sophia Bush will stop by to join in on the fun, and you can also donate to the charity of your choice while watching the Hangout.
Here’s a preview of what you can do:
- Connect with people engaging in relief efforts on the ground in the Philippines through Save the Children and UNICEF
- Join conversations with the founders of Warby Parker and TOMS about gifts that give back, moderated by our partner Mashable
- Get inspired during a morning yoga tutorial with the Africa Yoga Project in Kenya
- Hear how the Malala Fund is working to promote education as a peace-building tool in developing nations
- Participate in a quick coding lesson from Code.org, Girls Who Code and Code2040 and learn what you can do to support digital literacy
We hope you’ll participate by watching the Hangout-a-thon, donating to a cause you care about and posting about the event with #givingtuesday on Google+. And to keep the giving going throughout the holiday season, download One Today, our Android app that lets you donate to a different nonprofit every day.
Posted by Ramya Raghavan, Head of Politics and Causes for Google+
Category: Google | Nov 22, 2013
If we’re going to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, we need more people and teams to take on “moonshots”—audacious projects that create 10x improvement, not 10 percent. Part of that involves encouraging and celebrating the audacity of the attempt. So last week we partnered with Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer to run a special session of Solve for X on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to discuss and debate audacious science and technology moonshots that could transform the world.
Neil Gershenfeld holding up a “Pop FabLab” with Nadya Peek as an example of how 21st century manufacturing won’t just happen in large factories, but out of portable briefcases like this one.
Solve for X is a community of individuals and organizations that work together to accelerate progress on moonshots—and what better group of people to work with than those already thinking about our country’s future? As Susan Molinari, our VP of public policy and government affairs, said at the event: “Policymakers are trying to solve big, intractable problems—and so are engineers. Engineers are tackling challenges that have no answers to date, and so are our policymakers.”
The D.C. event brought together a group of exceptional technologists, entrepreneurs, polymaths-at-large, AAAS fellows, Members of Congress and their staff. Pioneers in their respective fields proposed moonshots in manufacturing, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education, and access to natural resources:
- Neil Gershenfeld and Nadya Peek from the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms proposed setting up FabLabs to bring manufacturing back to America—and in a way appropriate to the 21st century
- Theresa Condor from NanoSatisfi proposed an inexpensive way to give all students direct access to personal satellites to conduct their own science experiments and to transform adoption of STEM
- Chris Lewicki from Planetary Resources proposed mining asteroids for natural resources
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (above) said in his opening remarks: “We work in a world of problems, that frankly, any given day somebody could tell you we’ve got a solution for—it’s just about summoning the will to try and actually accomplish it.”
Following the moonshot proposals, we broke into small groups to brainstorm resources, technology and people that could help make the ideas better and happen faster. At Solve for X, brainstorming means two-thirds “yes and”—creating stepping stones to build on an idea—and one-third “yes but—providing critical feedback on blind spots or suggesting alternate implementations.
Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer told us: “You have a psychology of creation. A psychology of ‘what can we imagine?’ And then make it be reality. And that of course is the kind of thinking we need.”
Solve for X co-creators Astro Teller and Megan Smith closed out the event reminding us that moonshots can come from anywhere—people of all ages and places, companies, academia, government, inspired experts, enthusiastic newcomers, even accidental discoveries. So join our 160 moonshot pioneers by submitting your own moonshot video, and contribute to our conversations on Google+ and Twitter—we’d love to hear from you.
Posted by Puneet Ahira, Moonshot Evangelist and Project Lead, Solve for X
Category: Google | Nov 21, 2013
Thanksgiving is just a few days away, and if you’re like us, you still have loads of stuff to buy on your expanding holiday gift list. If you can’t imagine braving the crowds to get everything picked and purchased, don’t worry: our elves have made some improvements to Google Shopping in time for the holidays.
Find the hottest toys and get inspired with our holiday shortlists
We’ve curated holiday shortlists for top gift categories including Hot Toys, Electronics, Google & Android Gadgets, Gifts for the Home, Gifts for Her and Gifts for Him. For those of you looking for something to delight the kids in your life, here are some of the top trending toy searches on Google Shopping this month:
And for those of us wanting to relive our childhoods, we’re also seeing many nostalgic toys making a comeback this year:
Browse more quickly and easily
A new shopping experience on desktop, tablet and mobile makes it easier than ever to browse and hone in on items you want to buy, whether it’s a camera, a ski jacket or an ice cream maker. Click on a product to preview details like sizes, colors and description, and find out if it’s available at a nearby local store. If you see an item that’s almost perfect but not quite, click to view “visually similar” items.
Make your shortlist and check it twice
Shortlists help you keep track of products that catch your eye, compare them at a glance, and share ideas with friends and family. Your shortlist now also stays with you at the top of each page while you browse Google Shopping, so you can keep track of items as you go.
Check out the product from all angles
Sometimes it’s hard to imagine what an item actually looks like from the online picture. Now, for many items on Google Shopping, you can see a 360° view of the products. These interactive images bring you the in-store feeling of holding and touching a product.
Once you’ve got something for everyone on your shopping list, we encourage you to buy something for yourself. You’ve earned it.
Posted by Karen Corby, Senior Product Manager, Google Shopping
Category: Google | Nov 20, 2013
You don’t need to be besties with a Wizard to share an adventure in Middle-earth—just point your favorite browser to goo.gl/TheHobbit on your laptop, phone or tablet to check out “Journey through Middle-earth,” the latest Chrome Experiment.
Inspired by the upcoming motion picture “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” “Journey through Middle-earth” brings the locations and characters from the movie trilogy to life with a mix of modern web technologies. It was developed by North Kingdom in collaboration with Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures.
Your adventure starts on a beautiful, interactive map of Middle-earth. Zoom in to explore Trollshaw Forest, Rivendell and Dol Guldur (with more locations to come in the next few weeks). Click on each one to learn its history and meet the characters who inhabit it, or dive further to test your wits on a unique survival challenge.
The immersive 3D graphics in “Journey through Middle-earth” were built with CSS3 and WebGL, which you might recognize from previous Chrome Experiments. But “Journey through Middle-earth” is the first Chrome Experiment designed to bring this beautiful, 3D experience to mobile, thanks to support for WebGL in Chrome for Android on devices with high-end graphics cards.
The rich audio effects and sound manipulation are delivered through the Web Audio API, which is now supported on both Chrome for Android and Chrome for iPhone and iPad. Although WebGL isn’t supported on iOS, Chrome users can still experience most of “Journey through Middle-earth” on their iPhones and iPads. We can’t wait to see what sort of rich experiences developers will build as modern web technologies become available on more types of devices.
Circle +Google Chrome to stay updated as more Middle-earth locations get released in the coming weeks. You can also check out the Chromium Blog and read the team’s technical case study if you feel like geeking out a bit more.
Adventure is a click away. Just watch out for the trolls!
Posted by Posted by Christos Apartoglou, Product Marketing Manager & Part-time Dragon-slayer
Category: Google | Nov 19, 2013
Not quite four score and seven years ago, I was an elementary school student, staring at a classroom map, gripped by the (mistaken) deduction that since Los Angeles was in the southern half of the country, Civil War battles must have clattered on the ground outside my home. While a teacher eventually helped me understand that California wasn’t in the Confederacy, the moment led me to understand the weight of history and that it has shaped the world into what it is today.
Today, on the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, we’re helping make the past come a little bit more alive. Three new exhibits now available on the Google Cultural Institute focus on President Lincoln and the 272 words that shaped a nation’s understanding of its identity. Thanks to our friends at the White House, the Lincoln Library, Cornell University, Dickinson College and the Library of Congress, you can browse high-resolution digital versions of all five Lincoln-handwritten copies of the address. You can also:
You can also contribute your own version of the Gettysburg Address to Learn the Address, a project by documentarian Ken Burns, who has also been reaching schoolchildren across the U.S. with Google+ Connected Classrooms.
Most of us will never stand in the Lincoln Bedroom and see the handwritten draft exhibited there. But now anyone with access to an Internet connection can explore all these artifacts from this defining moment in history—perhaps a bit more accurately than when I gazed at that map.
Posted by Amrit Dhir, Partner Development Manager
Category: Google | Nov 18, 2013
Today marks the start of Google Code-in, a global online contest for pre-university students (13-17 years old) interested in learning more about open source software. Participating students have an opportunity to work on real world software projects and earn cool prizes for their effort.
For the next seven weeks students from around the world will be able to choose from an extensive list of tasks created by 10 open source projects. Some tasks require coding in a variety of programming languages, creating documentation, doing marketing outreach or working on user interfaces.
Participants earn points for each task they successfully complete to win T-shirts and certificates. At the end of the contest, 20 students will be selected as grand prize winners and flown to Google’s Mountain View, California headquarters. Winners will receive a trip to San Francisco, a tour of the Googleplex and a chance to meet with Google engineers.
Google Code-in 2012 grand prize winners at the Googleplex with a self driving car
More than 1,200 students from 71 countries and 730 schools have participated in Google Code-in over the past three years. Last year, our 20 grand prize winners came from 12 countries on five continents!
We hope this year’s participants will enjoy learning about open source development while building their technical skills and making an impact on these organizations. Please review our program site for contest rules, frequently asked questions and to get started.
Posted by Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Programs
Category: Google | Nov 14, 2013
You’d think the thrill might wear off this whole renewable energy investing thing after a while. Nope—we’re still as into it as ever, which is why we’re so pleased to announce our 14th investment: We’re partnering with global investment firm KKR to invest in six utility-scale solar facilities in California and Arizona. Developed by leading solar developer Recurrent Energy, the projects have a combined capacity of 106MW and will generate enough electricity to power over 17,000 U.S. homes. Google will make an approximately $80 million investment into these facilities.
The 17.5 MWac/22 MWp Victor Phelan project (pictured), located in San Bernardino, Calif., is part of six Recurrent Energy developed projects acquired by Google and KKR. The six-project portfolio is expected to operational by early 2014 and will generate enough clean electricity to power more than 17,000 U.S. homes.
This investment is similar to one we made back in 2011, when we teamed up with KKR and invested $94 million in four solar facilities developed by Recurrent. Those facilities have since started generating electricity, and we’ve committed hundreds of millions more—more than $1 billion in total—to renewable energy projects around the world.
These investments are all part of our drive toward a clean energy future—where renewable energy is abundant, accessible and affordable. By continuing to invest in renewable energy projects, purchasing clean energy for our operations and working with our utility partners to create new options for ourselves and for other companies interest in buying renewable energy, we’re working hard to make that future a reality.
Posted by Kojo Ako-Asare, Head of Corporate Finance
Category: Google | Nov 14, 2013
In a year in which government surveillance has dominated the headlines, today we’re updating our Transparency Report for the eighth time. Since we began sharing these figures with you in 2010, requests from governments for user information have increased by more than 100 percent. This comes as usage of our services continues to grow, but also as more governments have made requests than ever before. And these numbers only include the requests we’re allowed to publish.
Over the past three years, we’ve continued to add more details to the report, and we’re doing so again today. We’re including additional information about legal process for U.S. criminal requests: breaking out emergency disclosures, wiretap orders, pen register orders and other court orders.
We want to go even further. We believe it’s your right to know what kinds of requests and how many each government is making of us and other companies. However, the U.S. Department of Justice contends that U.S. law does not allow us to share information about some national security requests that we might receive. Specifically, the U.S. government argues that we cannot share information about the requests we receive (if any) under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But you deserve to know.
Earlier this year, we brought a federal case to assert that we do indeed have the right to shine more light on the FISA process. In addition, we recently wrote a letter of support (PDF) for two pieces of legislation currently proposed in the U.S. Congress. And we’re asking governments around the world to uphold international legal agreements that respect the laws of different countries and guarantee standards for due process are met.
Our promise to you is to continue to make this report robust, to defend your information from overly broad government requests, and to push for greater transparency around the world.
Posted by Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security
Category: Google | Nov 14, 2013
Venice was once described as “undoubtedly the most beautiful city built by man,” and from these pictures it’s hard to disagree. You can now explore panoramic imagery of one of the most romantic spots in the world, captured with our Street View Trekker technology.
It was impossible for us to collect images of Venice with a Street View car or trike—blame the picturesque canals and narrow cobbled walkways—but our team of backpackers took to the streets to give Google Maps a truly Shakespearean backdrop. And not just the streets—we also loaded the Trekker onto a boat and floated by the famous gondolas to give you the best experience of Venice short of being there.
Our Trekker operator taking a well-earned rest while the gondolier does the hard work
The beautiful Piazza San Marco, where you can discover Doge’s Palace, St. Marks’ Cathedral, the bell tower, the Marciana National Library and the clocktower
We covered a lot of ground—about 265 miles on foot and 114 miles by boat—capturing not only iconic landmarks but several hidden gems, such as the Synagogue of the first Jewish Ghetto, the Devil’s Bridge in Torcello island, a mask to scare the same Devil off the church of Santa Maria Formosa and the place where the typographer Manutius created the Italics font. Unfortunately, Street View can’t serve you a cicchetto (local appetizer) in a classic bacaro (a typical Venetian bar), though we can show you how to get there.
Once you’ve explored the city streets of today, you can immerse yourself in the beauty of Venice’s past by diving deep in to the artworks of the Museo Correr, which has joined the Google Cultural Institute along with Museo del Vetro and Ca’ Pesaro – International Gallery of Modern Art.
Compare the modern streets with paintings of the same spots by artists such as Carpaccio and Cesare Vecellio
Or delve into historical maps of Venice, like this one showing the Frari Church, built in 1396
Finally, take a look behind the scenes showing how we captured our Street View imagery in Venice.
The Floating City is steeped in culture; it’s easy to see why it’s retained a unique fascination and romance for artists, filmmakers, musicians, playwrights and pilgrims through the centuries—and now, we hope, for Street View tourists too.
Posted by Daniele Rizzetto, Street View Operations Manager (and proud Venetian!)