The Smithsonian Magazine reminds us that "Barns are painted red because of the physics of dying stars", summing up a more detailed post by Google employee Yonatan Zunger on the nature of stars, the atmosphere, and cheap paint found on barns.
What happens when you type google.com into your browser and press enter? [I]nstead of the usual story, we're going to try to answer this question in as much detail as possible. No skipping out on anything.
The Deep Mind of Demis Hassabis - "The big thing is what we call transfer learning. You've mastered one domain of things, how do you abstract that into something that's almost like a library of knowledge that you can now usefully apply in a new domain? That's the key to general knowledge. At the moment, we are good at processing perceptual information and then picking an action based on that. But when it goes to the next level, the concept level, nobody has been able to do that." (previously: 1,2) [more inside]
Google's balloon-based internet seems to be working. After some hiccups, one bad demo, and lots of redesign, Google's Project Loon (previously) is bringing some internet to some people in the developing world.
Fluffier socks play a crucial role. (SLS)
Fluffier socks play a crucial role. (SLS)
There are dozens of questions surrounding Magic Leap’s supposedly magical, definitely mysterious, and potentially overhyped creation. Will it be an “eyeglasses-like device,” as The Wall Street Journal has reported, or a pair of contact lenses that project images right on our eyeballs? What’s it for? Does it have practical applications? Or is it all about entertainment? And when will it be available?
If you've ever typed anything into a Google Doc, you can now play it back as if it were a movie — like traveling through time to look over your own shoulder as you write.James Somers (previously) introduces Draftback. [more inside]
This is possible because every document written in Google Docs since about May 2010 has a revision history that tracks every change, by every user, with timestamps accurate to the microsecond; these histories are available to anyone with "Edit" permissions; and I have written a piece of software that can find, decode, and rebuild the history for any given document.
The Webpage FX blog compiled a list of 13 internet "firsts," from the first email sent (1971) and the first spam, sent out to 400 people (1978), to the first photo posted online (1992) and much later, the first Instagram photo, (2010).
Google executive Alan Eustace beats Felix Baumgartner's skydiving record. It took more than two hours to hit an altitude of 135,890 feet (41,419 metres), where he separated himself from the balloon and started plummeting back to Earth. Eustace hit a top speed of 822mph during a freefall that lasted four-and-a-half minutes. [more inside]
The Solace of Oblivion by Jeffrey Toobin [The New Yorker] "In Europe, the right to be forgotten trumps the Internet."
An international mobile subscriber identity (IMSI) is a unique number, usually fifteen digits, associated with Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) network mobile phone users. An IMSI catcher is a device, used by the NSA drone program, the police, criminals, Chinese spammers and spies all around Washington DC and the world to spoof the identity of a GSM cell tower and intercept cellular voice and data communication. They come in all sizes and flavors, from tiny or body-worn professional surveillance devices, to easy to order off the shelf solutions, to Chinese DIY (links in Chinese) and have spawned efforts to retaliate with an IMSI-catcher-catcher. IMSI-catcher technology has become increasingly widespread, with far-reaching constitutional and technical implications.
Blockly Games is a series of educational games that teach programming. It is designed for children who have not had prior experience with computer programming. By the end of these games, players are ready to use conventional text-based languages.
Here's how one small company is slowly, surely beating its way into the most monopolized category in technology: Inside DuckDuckGo, Google's Tiniest, Fiercest Competitor.
Inside Google's Secret Drone Delivery Programme The Australian test flight and 30 others like it conducted in mid-August are the culmination of the first phase of Project Wing, a secret drone program that’s been running for two years at Google X, the company’s whoa-inducing, long-range research lab.
Top Five Architecture Maps:
- Iconic Houses is an international network connecting architecturally significant houses from the 20th century that are open to the public as house museums. The Iconic Houses website includes a useful Google Map showing the location of architecturally significant houses around the world.
- Archilovers is a social network for architects, designers and lovers of architecture. Users of the network can post projects, exchange opinions and interests, and get to know designers and architects around the world.
- The World Architecture Map (WAM) is a database of architectural information that uses Google Maps to show the locations of architectural interesting buildings around the world. It is possible to search for buildings on WAM by location, building type, architectural style or by tags.
- Arti-Fact is great collection of architecturally important buildings and sculptures that can be found on Google Maps Street View.
- MIMOA is a Google Maps based guide to modern architecture around the world. It is possible to browse the collection of modern architectural gems by location and by type of project.
Evolving QWOP gaits is the first work that samples video from the QWOP game to drive the fitness function of a genetic algorithm, which allows a fully autonomous simulated runner to kind of slowly shuffle forward, effectively achieving human-like levels of performance.
Calico, the company Google launched in September to try to cure death by tackling aging and illness, now has an official website..." [more inside]
Just who IS Justine Tunney? Is she a "far-left socialist" or a "far-right monarchist"? Or is she just a very talented troll?
Google's updated Terms of Service state explicitly that the company automatically analyzes all email content to create targeted advertising. This case, in which Google identified child porn images in a user's email message, leading to his arrest, seems to be one of the first known instances of Google monitoring personal gmail accounts for illegal activity. The arrest raises questions over the privacy of personal email and Google's role in policing the web. [more inside]
Ingress, the popular GPS-Enabled Android game from Google's internal tech startup, Niantic Labs, winner of Top Game of 2013 at the Google Play Player's Choice Awards, was released for iOS 7.0 devices this week. [Previously on MeFi] [more inside]
Google Plus apologises and reverses its real name requirements. Violet Blue pots the history of this front of the nymwars. Previously
San Francisco must change. "...the current state of permitting regulations for building and the glacial pace of infrastructure projects in San Francisco benefit very few people and risk turning it into a caricature of its former self for tourists and residents rich enough to live in a fantasy, not a living city. If there was ever a time when San Francisco needed to embrace a dynamic, expansive policy for building housing, offices and transportation, it is now." (Previously: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)
In March 2012, legendary animator Glen Keane sent out a letter to his colleagues at Walt Disney Animation Studios that outlined his resignation from the House of Mouse, where he'd worked for over 38 years on beloved Disney characters like Ariel, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Tarzan, and the Beast. His departure left many Disney fans wondering what was going to happen to the great master, whom many believe is one of the greatest character animators alive today, and for a while it seemed that his retirement might be permanent. Last week, however, Keane debuted his first hand-drawn animated short, Duet, which he produced with Google's Advanced Technology and Projects group in San Francisco. As you might expect, it's an absolutely breathtaking artistic and technical achievement. And it hasn't even been released in its final interactive mobile format yet. [more inside]
Ian McClatchie, the Ambivalent Engineer, reminisces about his time on the Google Street View project. "At the time I was hired, we had two copies of the first camera set, which I dubbed R1. These had been assembled by bolting five 11 megapixel CCD based book-scanning cameras (shown below) to a plywood board, and bolting that to the roof of a car, much of which was accomplished by Elliot Kroo when he was, if I'm not mistaken, 14 years old (youngest intern ever at Google). Neither R1 worked much, due to problems with the cameras, not Elliot!"
Have an android phone? And a pizza box? Then you can build your own Virtual Reality system. Cardboard, from google.
“But what shall we dream of when everything becomes visible?” Virilio replies: “We’ll dream of being blind."
The Google Street Art Project is an online collection and exhibition about the history, locations and artists of street art. Explore all the street art exhibits by place, artist, collection, medium, and more. Part of the Google Cultural Institute.
Google just bought out skybox for $500MN. Skybox is a startup with grand amibitions: create cheap satellites which can be used to provide almost real time-time, sub one meter resolution imagery of earth. Even with six small satellites orbiting Earth, Skybox could provide practically real-time images of the same spot twice a day at a fraction of the current cost. The startup sent up its first satellite SkySat-1 last November. The satellite can provide HD images and videos (90 sec clips at 30 frames/second) The start-up hopes to combine its satellites with software which can analyze the visual data to collect information. It hopes that it can use its combination of hardware and software capabilities to gather real time information to estimate oil reserves in saudi Arabia, track fuel tankers in China's 3 main economic zones, rate of increase of electricity usage in India, number of cars in all wallmart parking lots. [more inside]
With Google+, it became clear that we were all little more than webs of flesh spun over packages of saleable data. The rise and fall of Google+ once again engenders strong feelings, this time in Violet Blue.
Apple's WWDC keynote showcased some of the upcoming advancement in their platform, but let's take time to reflect on The future that everyone forgot. Chris DeSalvo, formerly of Danger, talks about the Hiptop/Sidekick and what they did. Such as in 2004 they created a GameBoy Advance + Hiptop phone that never shipped. Chris also went onto Google, worked on Android, and penned another piece of phone-lore: The Day Google Had to 'Start Over' on Android
"Advertising is not well. Though companies supported by advertising still dominate the landscape and capture the popular imagination, cracks are beginning to show in the very financial foundations of the web. Despite the best efforts of an industry, advertising is becoming less and less effective online. The once reliable fuel that powered a generation of innovations on the web is slowly, but perceptibly beginning to falter. Consider the long-term trend: when the first banner advertisement emerged online in 1994, it reported a (now) staggering clickthrough rate of 78%. By 2011, the average Facebook advertisement clickthrough rate sat dramatically lower at 0.05%. Even if only a rough proxy, something underlies such a dramatic change in the ability for an advertisement to pique the interest of users online. What underlies this decline, and what does it mean for the Internet at large? This short [PDF] paper puts forth the argument for peak advertising—the argument that an overall slowing in online advertising will eventually force a significant (and potentially painful) shift in the structure of business online. Like the theory of Peak Oil that it references, the goal is not to look to the immediate upcoming quarter, but to think on the decade-long scale about the business models that sustain the Internet." [more inside]
GooBing Detroit: chronological photosets of houses and streets in Detroit from 2009 to 2013, made with the aid of Google Street View and Bing StreetSide. [more inside]
Today Google unveiled their purpose-built self-driving car prototype, complete with no steering wheel, brake, or gas pedals. You just jump in, and go. The demo video is pretty impressive, and even the funnier Kara Swisher video of her first ride makes it look kind of fun. [more inside]
Metafilter is laying off 3 of its staff, including long time moderator and frequent moral compass Jessamyn who is moving on to Internet Archive’s Open Library. November 2012, Metafilter experienced a sharp drop in traffic. Slate asks "Why has Google forsaken Metafilter?" But the problem is endemic of a larger issue. Google is breaking the internet. [more inside]
Today's Google Doodle, in honour of the 40th anniversary of the Rubik's Cube. — a fully functional, animated Rubik's Cube. [Click here for the interactive version.] [Related]
One day in July 2001, Larry Page decided to fire Google’s project managers. All of them.
Having taken pictures of more than 6 million miles’ worth of road, Google is more than doubling the amount of global Street View imagery by adding all of its archive photography. The company’s Google Maps Web application will now include a time machine feature where users can move a slider to see all historical images of a place. As much as possible, pictures of the same place have been aligned so they have the same perspective as one another.
Following on the heels of Phonebloks, a Google/Motorola formed a design group called Project Ara. The Verge recently interviewed Paul Eremenko, the project lead, about progress made towards modularization of mobile phone components, overcoming engineering issues, and the group assigning itself an ambitious timetable to succeed in delivering a sellable product within two years, or disbanding.
Wired's Gideon Lewis-Kraus reports from the trenches of the Silicon Valley "ecosystem". [more inside]
Fisher Yu, a Princeton grad student, and David Gallup, a Google employee, have published a method for retrieving the 3D information of a scene from the small motion of the hands that occurs while taking video. They've given their paper a website that includes a video, the paper itself, and a dataset. One neat application of this is the ability to simulate short depth of field, a feature that has made it into the new Google Camera app.
Google has been in Ireland since 2003, and some former Google employees and contractors with significant experience at the company say that Google’s reputation as a great employer is undeserved. Permanent staff are well taken care of, they say, but even many permanent staff are overqualified, overworked, and perform relatively menial tasks. In addition, entire layers of hidden contractors and temporary workers do much of the work without the benefits or opportunities accorded permanent staff.
London to Amsterdam, Saint Petersburg and Tokyo to New York, well known historical paintings of city scenes around the world superimposed on to Google Street View by Halley Docherty (whose username is shystone on Reddit) | Google Street View Paintings by Raul Moyado Sandoval that he calls Metapanoramas | Also Paintings as Google Street View Maps via Lileks' wonderful Lint. [more inside]
More visualizations of the personification of our favorite search engine - now with added competitors! [more inside]
Mark Ames follows up on The Techtopus (previously) with a new report showing a much larger conspiracy than has been previously reported: [more inside]