Official Google Blog
For those of you who have always wanted to go to the Fringe, now you can enjoy great new talent, laugh ‘til your belly hurts and even heckle a comedian from the comfort of your own home. This summer, you can be in the front row of a live comedy show wherever you are thanks to Google+ Hangouts and YouTube. While you’re at it, your laughs can raise money for a good cause.
We’re partnering with the U.K. charity Comic Relief to bring you the first online comedy club—the “Hangout Comedy Club.” We’ve created a clever gizmo called the “Laughometer,” which will measure how much you enjoy the show and turn your lol’s into an optional donation to Comic Relief. They use the funds they raise to tackle the root causes of poverty and social injustice.
To be part of the Hangout Comedy Club, simply join a Google+ Hangout hosted by one of our famous comedians, including Katherine Ryan, Sanderson Jones and Joey Page. Just like a real comedy club, if you’re brave enough, you can join the front row with up to eight others. If you’d rather sit out of sight, join a Hangout, add your friends, and watch from the safety of the back row.
The next Hangout is today, Thursday, August 15, 10pm BST with Sanderson Jones. Find out who else is starring and get your free seat at www.youtube.com/user/rednoseday/hangoutcomedyclub.
So even if you can’t make it to the Fringe, we’ll bring the best new talent directly to you—and your laugh could help change a life.
Posted by Steve Vranakis, Executive Creative Director, Creative Lab London
The process of redesigning and drafting a new constitution can play a critical role in uniting a country, especially following periods of conflict and instability. In the past, it’s been difficult to access and compare existing constitutional documents and language—which is critical to drafters—because the texts are locked up in libraries or on the hard drives of constitutional experts. Although the process of drafting constitutions has evolved from chisels and stone tablets to pens and modern computers, there has been little innovation in how their content is sourced and referenced.
With this in mind, Google Ideas supported the Comparative Constitutions Project to build Constitute, a new site that digitizes and makes searchable the world’s constitutions. Constitute enables people to browse and search constitutions via curated and tagged topics, as well as by country and year. The Comparative Constitutions Project cataloged and tagged nearly 350 themes, so people can easily find and compare specific constitutional material. This ranges from the fairly general, such as “Citizenship” and “Foreign Policy,” to the very specific, such as “Suffrage and turnouts” and “Judicial Autonomy and Power.”
Our aim is to arm drafters with a better tool for constitution design and writing. We also hope citizens will use Constitute to learn more about their own constitutions, and those of countries around the world.
Posted by Sara “Scout” Sinclair Brody, Google Ideas Product Manager
The Happy Hereford wind farm, which is expected to start producing energy in late 2014, is being developed by Chermac Energy, a small, Native American-owned company based in Oklahoma. The wind farm will provide energy to the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), the regional grid that serves our Mayes County, Okla. data center.
Some (happy) cows on the future site of the wind farm. The cows will still have plenty of room to graze between the turbines.
The structure of this agreement is similar to our earlier commitments in Iowa and Oklahoma. Due to the current structure of the market, we can’t consume the renewable energy produced by the wind farm directly, but the impact on our overall carbon footprint and the amount of renewable energy on the grid is the same as if we could consume it. After purchasing the renewable energy, we’ll retire the renewable energy credits (RECs) and sell the energy itself to the wholesale market. We’ll apply any additional RECs produced under this agreement to reduce our carbon footprint elsewhere.
This type of power purchase agreement represents one of several ways we’re working to make additional renewable energy available for both our data centers and the communities in which we operate. In Scandinavia, due to the region’s unified power market and grid system, we’re able to purchase wind energy in Sweden and directly consume it at our Hamina, Finland data center. We’re also working with our local utility partners to develop new options. In 2012, we signed an agreement with GRDA, our utility partner in Oklahoma, to green the energy supply to our Oklahoma data center with 48 MW of wind energy from the Canadian Hills Wind Project. Earlier this year, we began working with Duke Energy to develop a new renewable energy tariff (PDF) in North Carolina.
We take a comprehensive approach to acquiring renewable energy for our operations. We’ll continue working directly with utility providers, collaborating with industry regulators and pursuing creative agreements (PDF) like the Happy Hereford PPA.
Posted by Matt Pfile, Senior Manager, Data Center Energy and Location Strategy
When conflicts end, making communities safe and livable often means removing dangerous remnants of war. “Getting mines out of the ground, for good,” as we say at the HALO Trust, has been our mission over the last 25 years. We work in more than a dozen countries and regions across the globe, clearing landmines and other explosives, many of which have been buried underground. While we’ve been in operation for almost three decades, there is still more to be done.
In Kosovo, where people are reclaiming their homeland after the conflict in 1999, we’re working in close cooperation with the government and local population to collect and share information about where mines are located. It’s a true community effort—farmers tell us where they’ve seen signs of mines and where accidents have occurred. It’s our job at the HALO Trust to take this data and make it usable, accessible, and visually compelling, so clearance becomes more efficient and happens faster.
One of our biggest challenges is keeping our field teams safe. We need easy-to-use tools that can help us find, map and clear hazardous areas without putting our operations at risk. Over the years, we’ve continuously improved our mine clearance techniques, including the deployment of Google Earth Pro.
Google Earth Pro makes it easier for the HALO team to do the dangerous and detailed work of finding and mapping at-risk areas. Because it’s based on the same technology as Google Maps and Earth, it’s easy for our teams to use and create maps without IT or GIS expertise. It’s a tool that is familiar to our employees and something they use in their daily lives, so we can start mapping right away.
The information we gather, including GPS references to landmines in the field, is imported into Earth Pro so that we can plot mine locations. We also use the incredibly detailed satellite imagery in Google Earth to identify and map hazardous areas. These high-resolution maps serve many people: from families who live near mines, to crews who clear them, and donors and other organizations that support us. When donors view the vivid interactive maps of our project areas—with mines so close to schools, farms and houses—they understand why the HALO Trust’s work is so critical.
Accurate maps from Google Earth Pro mean safer working conditions for our local teams, and faster progress toward our goals. In Kosovo alone, we’ve removed thousands of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosives. And with the help of Google’s mapping tools and our donors, we’ll be able to declare the country mine-free.
Posted by Guy Willoughby, Executive Director, the HALO Trust
Today, in partnership with the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park and Charles Darwin Foundation, we’re launching the 360-degree images from the Galapagos Islands that we collected in May with the Street View Trekker. Now, you can visit the islands from anywhere you may be, and see many of the animals that Darwin experienced on his historic and groundbreaking journey in 1835.
Darwin may have first sighted San Cristobal Island from the water, perhaps near where we sailed with the Trekker strapped to a boat in order to observe the craggy shoreline and the Magnificent Frigatebirds that the rocky landscape shelters. After landing on San Cristobal, we made our way to Galapaguera Cerro Colorado, a breeding center that helps to restore the population of the island tortoises, seriously threatened by invasive species. Wearing the Trekker, we walked by giant tortoises munching on leafy stalks and recently hatched baby tortoises.
View Larger Map The Galapaguera plays a critical role in conservation of the giant tortoises
Darwin visited Floreana Island, but he didn’t have the scuba gear needed to properly explore the marine life just off the island’s coast. Thanks to our partner, Catlin Seaview Survey and their SVII underwater camera, we were able to collect underwater imagery of some especially energetic and inquisitive sea lions that came out to see whether the divers wanted to play!
View Larger Map
The playful Galapagos Sea Lion is one of the endemic species of the islands
On our hike through the wetlands of Isabela Island, we spotted some marine iguanas, including this one sunning itself after a morning swim. On North Seymour Island, we got up close and personal to blue-footed boobies performing their mating dance and the Magnificent Frigatebirds with their red throat sacs.
View Larger Map The blue-footed boobies on North Seymour island
The extensive Street View imagery of the Galapagos Islands won’t just enable armchair travelers to experience the islands from anywhere in the world—it will also play an instrumental role in the ongoing research of the environment, conservation, animal migration patterns and the impact of tourism on the islands. See our Lat Long blog post for an example of how the imagery will be used for scientific research.
Visit our behind-the-scenes experience and tune in to an exclusive Google+ Hangout with the Google Maps team and our partners at 9:00 a.m. PT today to learn more about this special collection of imagery.
Posted by Raleigh Seamster, Project Lead, Google Earth Outreach
From the reggae-inspired social commentary of tracks like “White Man in Hammersmith Palais,” to hip-hop infused cuts like “Magnificent Seven” and even Top 40 hits such as “Rock the Casbah,” their songs gave a generation a lifelong connection not just to the Clash, but to music in general.
From time to time, Google Play teams up with iconic rockers to help tell their stories. When we heard that the Clash were planning to re-release some of their greatest music, we wanted to celebrate their legacy and create something cool for their fans around the world. They handed over hours of unseen footage of the late Joe Strummer discussing the arc of the band’s career. And the Google Play team interviewed the rest of the members to get their perspective on what they accomplished and how they did it. The result is “Audio Ammunition,” a free, five-part documentary about the Clash that walks through the writing, recording and reception of each of their classic studio albums.
Watch part one of the documentary on Google Play, and you can check out the other four parts on our YouTube channel at youtube.com/googleplay. You can also buy all five of their newly released, digitally remastered albums on Google Play. And because the Clash’s legacy continues to inspire musicians today, we’ve produced some exclusive cover versions by contemporary artists we admire. These four tracks are available as free downloads for a limited time on Google Play.
The Clash explored a world of ever-expanding rhythms and possibilities and the urgency and power of their music still resonates today. As bassist Paul Simonon says. “We weren’t concerned with playing just on our doorstep. It was to play on any doorstep, throughout the world.”
Posted by Tim Quirk, head of content programming for Google Play
“Just A Reflektor” is an interactive film directed by Vincent Morisset and featuring a new song from Arcade Fire. The film lets you cast a virtual projection on your computer screen by holding up your mobile device in front of your computer’s webcam. That way, you control all of the visual effects in the experience—not by moving a mouse on a screen, but by moving your phone or tablet through the physical space around you.
The film’s heroine, Axelle, is revealed through a spotlight that moves in time with your mobile device. In a later scene, a liquid effect is combined with a time delay, creating a video collage. About four minutes into the film, the “reflektor” is turned toward Axelle herself.
To explore the effects used in the film, see the technology page, where you can adjust a number of visual settings and create your own effects using a robust editor. You can also watch a behind-the-scenes video to learn about how the film was made. The code for the film and tech page is open source, so creative coders can download it and try it for themselves.
The technology page lets you create, edit and share your own visual effects using footage from the film.
We hope this project inspires more filmmakers and visual artists to experiment with the latest features in Chrome. And for everyone else, we hope “Just A Reflektor” offers a new, exciting way to interact with the web.
Posted by Aaron Koblin, Google Creative Lab
(Cross-posted from the Chrome Blog)
Strong passwords help protect your accounts and information on the web. But forgetting your password is like losing your keys—you can end up locked out of your own home. It gets worse if your password gets compromised or stolen. Sometimes the thief will change your password so you can't get back into your own account—kind of like someone stealing your keys and then changing the lock.
If you've lost your Google password, you need a way to get back into your Google Account—and back to all of your stuff in Gmail, Maps, Google+ and YouTube. To help you, Google needs to be able to tell that you’re the rightful account owner even if you don't have the right password. There are a few easy steps you can take right now to make it easy for you—and no one else—to get into your Google Account if you forget or don’t know the password.
1. Add a recovery email address. By registering an alternate email address with your Google Account settings, you’re giving Google another way to reach you. If you forget your password, Google can send a link to that recovery email address so you can reset your password. Google can also use that email address to let you know if we detect something suspicious happening with your account.
Setting up your recovery options can help you get back in if you get locked out of your Google Account
2. Add a phone number to your Google Account. Your mobile phone is the best way to regain access to your account if you forget your password. It's like the "fast lane" for account recovery: we text a code to the phone number you've registered with us, and you're back in business in no time. Your phone is more secure and reliable than other means of recovering your account. Methods like “secret” questions (asking your mother’s maiden name or city where you were born) may have answers that are easy to remember, but they are also possible for bad guys to uncover. And we’ve consistently seen that people who register a recovery phone are faster and more successful at getting their accounts back than those recovering their accounts via email.
You can also get a text message if Google detects that something suspicious is going on with your account. Giving a recovery phone number to Google won’t result in you being signed up for marketing lists or getting more calls from telemarketers.
3. Keep your recovery options up to date. It’s a good idea to check your recovery options every so often. For example, if you change your phone number after setting up your recovery options, take just a minute to update your recovery settings to match. We'll remind you of your current settings every so often to make it easier for you to keep them up to date.
That’s it! You can either update your recovery options next time you’re prompted, or you can take two minutes to do it right now on our Account recovery options page. For more advice on how to protect yourself and your family online, visit our Good to Know site, or check out some of the other posts in our series on staying safe and secure.
Posted by Diana Smetters, Software Engineer
In addition, along with a number of other companies and trade associations, we are meeting the President’s Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies today. We’ll reiterate the same message there: that the levels of secrecy that have built up around national security requests undermine the basic freedoms that are at the heart of a democratic society.
Posted by Richard Salgado, Director, Law Enforcement & Information Security and Pablo Chavez, Director, Public Policy and Government Affairs
(Cross-posted on the Public Policy Blog)
Open to Googlers everywhere, ERGs are grassroots networks with shared values of supporting diversity and inclusion throughout our company and our communities. Surprised to discover that 20+ unique ERGs existed to begin with, I was relieved when I found out that interns, who are treated like full-time Googlers, could participate in them as well.
From ice cream socials to BBQs and salsa dancing, ERGs gave us opportunities to get to know Googlers from different seniority levels and functions—while having fun! The events I attended brought interns together with entry-level Googlers, managers, directors and senior VPs; Googlers in sales, marketing, people operations, global business, small business (SMB) services and engineering.
While many ERG events are social, Googlers in these groups also have a deep impact on social issues and the company at large. In light of the DOMA decision in June, Gayglers rallied the entire office for San Francisco’s Pride parade. Some of my fellow interns described the parade as a highlight. Shawn Saunders, a senior at Brown University and SMB services intern, told me “through the Gayglers, I was able to find a community of queer and allied Googlers who really helped color my experiences at Google.”
The Special Needs Network engaged interns in this summer’s Disability Pride Parade. Aubrie Lee, a senior at Stanford University and people operations intern, told me the Googlers in the Special Needs Network “with or without disabilities—understand that diversity is not just about color or orientation. They are my allies in fighting stigma, both in the world and at work."
In response to the Trayvon Martin verdict, the Black Googler’s Network (BGN) organized a hoodie march on campus to raise awareness around unconscious bias and racial profiling. The march had a profound impact on me in showing the value of community and support among black Googlers. As Tanisha Hospedale, a senior at the University of Pennsylvania and People Operations intern, said, “I am very grateful for BGN and the family I have made from being a part of this group.”
One major takeaway from my internship is that Google continues to be a place where Googlers can bring their total selves to work while also having strong, supportive communities to fall back on. “I can tell that Google doesn't just talk about a commitment to diversity and inclusion, but actually demonstrates this through supporting ERGs,” said Jasmine McElroy, a senior at Howard University and People Operations intern. “These groups have made me feel like I belong here.”
Posted by Shawn Dye, People Operations BOLD intern and senior Stanford University
Called “March on Washington,” the experience invites you to relive that moment in time by listening to an original recording of Dr. King’s words accompanied by immersive photography from the event itself.
One of the most powerful abilities of the web is that it connects people from all over the world in new ways. In “March on Washington,” you can also virtually join this historic event by recording yourself reciting Dr. King’s words. Then, you can play back other participants’ recordings as a crowd-sourced narrative of voices, hearing the timeless message repeated back from people all over the world.
We’re excited to see the modern web enable experiences like “March on Washington” that bring together people and history in new, powerful ways. Head over to wearestillmarching.com on a laptop, phone or tablet to check it out.
Posted by Max Heinritz, Associate Product Manager & Modern Marcher
(Cross-posted from the Chrome blog)
This is the type of challenge that was posed to the finalists of our 10th annual Code Jam last week. Twenty-four of the world’s best coders were flown to London to compete for the title of Code Jam Champion 2013 and the accompanying $15,000.
Belarus's Ivan Miatselski, a.k.a. “mystic,” was crowned Champion, besting more than 45,000 other registrants and making it through four online qualifying rounds before winning the in-person finals. The final round was a four-hour, five-problem tour de code. Throughout Code Jam, contestants are allowed to use any programming language and any development environment they like, ranging from C++ to Taxi. And while the finalists are among the among the most talented, we’ve yet to see anyone earn a perfect score during the final round.
Successfully solving the problems involves more than just writing code: contestants in this year's finals needed mastery of computational geometry, dynamic programming, numerical algorithms and more. Though the competition is fierce, Code Jam is also a growing community of skilled problem-solvers, engineers and friends from all over the world. Code Jam will be back in 2014—join our community on Google+ and look for more news to come.
Posted by Onufry Wojtaszczyk, Software Engineer, Google Code Jam