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Supporting computer science education with the 2014 RISE Awards

Category: Google | Feb 3, 2014

“We need more kids falling in love with science and math.” That’s what Larry Page said at last year’s I/O, and it’s a feeling shared by all of us. We want to inspire young people around the world not just to use technology, but to create it. Unfortunately, many kids don’t have access to either the education or encouragement they need to pursue computer science. So five years ago we created the Google RISE (Roots in Science and Engineering) Awards, which provide funding to organizations around the world that engage girls and underrepresented students in extracurricular computer science programs.

This year, the RISE Awards are providing $1.5 million to 42 organizations in 19 countries that provide students with the resources they need to succeed in the field. For example, Generating Genius in the U.K. provides after-school computer science programs and mentoring to prepare high-achieving students from disadvantaged communities for admission into top universities. Another awardee, North Carolina-based STARS Computer Corps, helps schools in low-income communities gain access to computing resources for their students to use. Visit our site for a full list of our RISE Award recipients.

Created in 2007, the Children’s University Foundation has been carrying out educational programs for more than 20,000 children aged 6-13. Click on the photo to learn more about this and other RISE Awardees.

This year we’re also expanding the program with the RISE Partnership Awards. These awards aim to encourage collaboration across organizations in pursuit of a shared goal of increasing global participation in computer science. For example, more than 5,000 girls in sub-Saharan Africa will learn computer science as a result of a partnership between the Harlem based program ELITE and the WAAW Foundation in Nigeria.

We’re proud to help these organizations inspire the next generation of computer scientists.

Posted by Hai Hong, RISE Program Manager

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/6-xSCzrvNhg/supporting-computer-science-education.html

Shedding some light on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests

Category: Google | Feb 3, 2014

We believe the public deserves to know the full extent to which governments request user information from Google. That’s why for the past four years we’ve shared and continuously expanded and updated information about government requests for user information in our Transparency Report.

Until now, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) opposed our efforts to publish statistics specifically about Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requests. Under FISA, the government may apply for orders from a special FISA Court to require U.S. companies to hand over users’ personal information and the content of their communications. Although FISA was passed by elected representatives and is available for anyone to read, the way the law is used is typically kept secret. Last summer’s revelations about government surveillance remind us of the challenges that secrecy can present to a democracy that relies on public debate.

Last year we filed a lawsuit asking the FISA Court to let us disclose the number of FISA requests we may receive and how many users/accounts they include. We’d previously secured permission to publish information about National Security Letters, and FISA requests were the only remaining type of demands excluded from our report.

Today, for the first time, our report on government requests for user information encompasses all of the requests we receive, subject only to delays imposed by the DoJ regarding how quickly we can include certain requests in our statistics.

Publishing these numbers is a step in the right direction, and speaks to the principles for reform that we announced with other companies last December. But we still believe more transparency is needed so everyone can better understand how surveillance laws work and decide whether or not they serve the public interest. Specifically, we want to disclose the precise numbers and types of requests we receive, as well as the number of users they affect in a timely way. That’s why we need Congress to go another step further and pass legislation (PDF) that will enable us to say more.

You have the right to know how laws affect the security of your information online. We’ll keep fighting for your ability to exercise that right by pushing for greater transparency around the world.

Posted by Richard Salgado, Legal Director, Law Enforcement and Information Security

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/l4UKaxi7M3E/shedding-some-light-on-foreign.html

Lenovo to acquire Motorola Mobility

Category: Google | Jan 29, 2014

We’ve just signed an agreement to sell Motorola to Lenovo for $2.91 billion. As this is an important move for Android users everywhere, I wanted to explain why in detail.

We acquired Motorola in 2012 to help supercharge the Android ecosystem by creating a stronger patent portfolio for Google and great smartphones for users. Over the past 19 months, Dennis Woodside and the Motorola team have done a tremendous job reinventing the company. They’ve focused on building a smaller number of great (and great value) smartphones that consumers love. Both the Moto G and the Moto X are doing really well, and I’m very excited about the smartphone lineup for 2014. And on the intellectual property side, Motorola’s patents have helped create a level playing field, which is good news for all Android’s users and partners.

But the smartphone market is super competitive, and to thrive it helps to be all-in when it comes to making mobile devices. It’s why we believe that Motorola will be better served by Lenovo—which has a rapidly growing smartphone business and is the largest (and fastest-growing) PC manufacturer in the world. This move will enable Google to devote our energy to driving innovation across the Android ecosystem, for the benefit of smartphone users everywhere. As a side note, this does not signal a larger shift for our other hardware efforts. The dynamics and maturity of the wearable and home markets, for example, are very different from that of the mobile industry. We’re excited by the opportunities to build amazing new products for users within these emerging ecosystems.

Lenovo has the expertise and track record to scale Motorola into a major player within the Android ecosystem. They have a lot of experience in hardware, and they have global reach. In addition, Lenovo intends to keep Motorola’s distinct brand identity—just as they did when they acquired ThinkPad from IBM in 2005. Google will retain the vast majority of Motorola’s patents, which we will continue to use to defend the entire Android ecosystem.

The deal has yet to be approved in the U.S. or China, and this usually takes time. So until then, it’s business as usual. I’m phenomenally impressed with everything the Motorola team has achieved and confident that with Lenovo as a partner, Motorola will build more and more great products for people everywhere.

Posted by Larry Page, CEO

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/p7-9eM6Z2A8/lenovo-to-acquire-motorola-mobility.html

Chrome + LEGO: You can build whatever you like

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

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/-b0fUe8xZx0/chrome-lego-you-can-build-whatever-you.html

Today’s outage for several Google services

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

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/o_PAo4t6r4U/todays-outage-for-several-google.html

Hit the road with President Obama in the first-ever Presidential Hangout Road Trip

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

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/f8u-XzMEQsM/hit-road-with-president-obama-in-first.html

Introducing our smart contact lens project

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

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/PsR4Rve_ac0/introducing-our-smart-contact-lens.html

A new wind investment in Texas

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

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/st3fan13Eqw/a-new-wind-investment-in-texas.html

Santa’s sleigh is ready for lift-off

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

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/zmXVo6MuSKc/santas-sleigh-is-ready-for-lift-off.html

Transparency Report: Government removal requests continue to rise

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

From: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/MKuf/~3/siETh7baN_o/transparency-report-government-removal.html