Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, LinkedIn and Aol have all teamed up to oppose widespread government surveillance. In an open letter to the US president and members of congress, the companies urge the government to reform its digital spy apparatus. Live reactions at the Guardian.
Are paper books becoming obsolete in the digital age, or poised to lead a new cultural renaissance? [more inside]
Last month, an innocent video of Japanese celebricat Maru climbing a ladder was defaced with a dick pic in the comments (NSFW ASCII art). The Internet's favorite feline was the latest casualty in a hurricane of spam, links to viruses, ASCII art and other flying debris that has descended on the YouTube comments section ever since Google forced all commenters to adopt Google+ accounts. [more inside]
Auto Correct — Has the self-driving car at last arrived? From The New Yorker, November 25, 2013.
The India-Pakistan partition in 1947 separated many friends and families overnight. A granddaughter in India decides to surprise her grandfather on his birthday by reuniting him with his childhood friend (who is now in Pakistan) after over 6 decades of separation, with a little help from Google Search. SLYT
"A job at Google. It's career heaven, right? How could a gig at the biggest, most ambitious tech company on the planet possibly be bad? Well, take a look at this Quora thread, which is being used by current and former Google employees to dish the dirt on working for Big G."
It begins. A consortium of mobile phone makers including Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson and Sony have launched a barrage of patent suits against Google and major Android handset makers such as Samsung, Huawei and HTC. Unlike previous patent suits from the major shareholders, these suits are on the rocket docket of Eastern Texas.
Google's Doodle is a fun Halloween themed game. Add different combinations of ingredients into the witch's cauldron for some spooky surprises. [more inside]
San Francisco's Bay Barge Mystery "Something big and mysterious is rising from a floating barge at the end of Treasure Island, a former Navy base in the middle of San Francisco Bay." And now one has showed up in a Maine harbor. Update from C|Net News.
Google/Motorola unveil new modular phone idea. This is a partnership with the the Phoneblocks people, which was generally not well received when we last discussed the idea.
The Digital Attack Map from Google and Arbor Networks gives you an amazing dynamic visualization of ongoing Distributed Denial of Service and other cyberattacks. You can also go back to see older attacks - like the 6-day long attack on the US in August, attacks on the anniversary of the Korean War, and others. Slate finds it a bit self-serving for Google, but the helpful video explaining DDoS is useful.
Google knows almost every wi-fi password. Of course this means that the NSA also has access to them. Apple might not be much better.
To mark the 178th anniversary of Darwin’s first exploration of the Galapagos Islands, Google Maps has captured dozens of locations featuring the local biodiversity. It's the newest of Google's ongoing efforts to bring diverse locations to you via your computer.
If you start typing "why" into Google, the autocomplete gives you a glimpse at the various mysteries people want answers to, such as "why is space black?" or "why are people stupid?" or "why is there yellow discharge in my underwear?" XKCD's current comic, "Questions," shows a glimpse at some of these questions, culled from a big list of over 33,000 that XKCD's author, Randall Munroe, generated from Google API queries. In response, Reddit user GeeJo made his best attempt at answering every single one posed in the comic.
Noah Veltman gives us a comparison of Google Search Suggestions By Country for America, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
Two searches meant a surprise visit. Local police visited a Long Island family allegedly because of their recent Google searches.
First discussions from the Atlantic, the Guardian, and Hacker News. [more inside]
First discussions from the Atlantic, the Guardian, and Hacker News. [more inside]
The new documentary "Terms And Conditions May Apply," about the privacy overreach of major tech companies, presents its trailer on a cleverly written page of terms and conditions.
Google Doodles Roswell A minigame for your Monday morning alien exile pleasure.
DEC - I mean Digital - I mean Compaq - er, CMGI - no, Overture; rather - Yahoo ... will shut down AltaVista for good next week.
Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple are being monitored by the FBI and NSA, with Dropbox "coming soon." So what can you do? Use some alternatives. As Gabriel Weinberg, founder of DuckDuckGo, told NPR: "we made the choice to just not track people so there is nothing to turn over."
With the deeply unpopular shutdown of Google Reader less than two weeks away (previously), plenty of would-be replacements have jumped into the mix, including the newly web-based Feedly, Newsblur, Digg, and possibly even Facebook (a particularly bitter irony, as obsession with defeating Facebook has been the alleged impetus behind CEO Larry Page's abandonment of beloved Google hallmarks like 20% Time, Google Labs, and open platforms like Reader). But while there's no shortage of attempts to replicate Reader's look and feel, there's one little-known aspect that none can match, and that will be lost forever come July 1st: the vast cache archive of every article from every website, living and dead, that has ever been subscribed to in Reader. [more inside]
Project Loon: Google is testing an Internet access system mediated by stratospheric balloons. They are starting in New Zealand with 30 balloons.
Freebase, formerly Metaweb, is a Google-run open, community-curated database of everything: 40 million topics and over a billion facts, all free to use. If you need to wrangle the resulting data into another format, Mr Data Converter (previously) has you covered.
Rohan Shah, a student at the University of Illinois, wrote about the interview process and culture for interns at Google.
For years, Google Maps has been the map of our world in a historically unprecedented way. The new Google Maps (announcement) will eschew the uniformity of the old Maps and instead customize the map experience based on a user's behavior. Some are concerned how this artificial narrowing will affect the way we experience places and relate to our urban spaces. Others believe the customization makes the new maps more honest. Most, however, will probably just want to comment on the huge overhaul to the interface.
When news came through of Yahoo! buying Tumblr, everyone wanted to know what that meant for all the porn on Tumblr. But it turns out that long before Yahoo! signed a check, Tumblr had been quietly doing something about it on its own: stopping adult blogs from being indexed. [NSFW links] [more inside]
I turned around to face an approaching figure. It was Larry Page, naked, save for a pair of eyeglasses. “Welcome to Google Island. I hope my nudity doesn’t bother you. We’re completely committed to openness here. Search history. Health data. Your genetic blueprint. One way to express this is by removing clothes to foster experimentation. It’s something I learned at Burning Man,” he said.
A couple of discussions of recent Google design trends, one in The New Yorker (via Bruce Sterling), and one from Fast Company (via waxy).
Not a Doodle, but an Easter egg Google has a fun way to celebrate Atari Breakout's 37th anniversary.
An in-depth talk at Google that sums up the scientific research on living a healthy life with lots of practical advice.
Explore different views into this global timelapse built from global, annual composites of Landsat satellite images. Watch change across the planet's surface beginning as early as 1984. See Vegas grow! Rainforests Shrink! Coastlines expand, and lakes vanish!
Google is celebrating what would have been graphic designer Saul Bass' 93rd birthday with a Doodle celebrating some of his most famous title sequences. The doodle, set appropriately to Dave Brubeck's "Unsquare Dance, " pays homage to Bass' visual work on Psycho, The Man With The Golden Arm, Spartacus, West Side Story, Vertigo, North by Northwest, Anatomy of a Murder, and Around the World in 80 Days.
Halfcat. The magic of Google Street view is that it has shown us a new animal. A good animal. Thank you, science magic. Bonus: Top Ten Google Street View animals.
Predicting Google Shutdowns. "In the following essay, I collect data on 350 Google products and look for predictive variables. I find some while modeling shutdown patterns, and make some predictions about future shutdowns. Hopefully the results are interesting, useful, or both." Gwern exhaustively analyzes Google products past and present with an eye to establishing what's not long for the bitverse. tl;dr? Results.
The Delete Squad: Google, Twitter, Facebook and the new global battle over the future of free speech.
On the 23 of June, 2011 a secret five hour meeting took place between WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who was under house arrest in rural UK at the time and Google CEO Eric Schmidt. We provide here a verbatim transcript of the majority of the meeting; a close reading, particularly of the latter half, is revealing.[more inside]
Google has announced a new feature called Inactive Account Manager "that makes it easy to tell Google what you want done with your digital assets when you die or can no longer use your account."
Fairsearch (a group led by Microsoft, Oracle and Expedia) has filed a complaint [PDF] with the EU claiming that Google has a monopoly in the mobile market and is using its mobile position to force its other products on users.
Postcards From Google Earth: "I collect Google Earth images. I discovered them by accident, these particularly strange snapshots, where the illusion of a seamless and accurate representation of the Earth’s surface seems to break down. I was Google Earth-ing, when I noticed that a striking number of buildings looked like they were upside down." [more inside]
Google is forking WebKit. WebKit was a fork of KHTML and now Google is creating a new fork called Blink. Opera will contribute to it and use it too. Vendor specific prefixes will no longer be supported.
The Language Council of Sweden has been the semi-official arbiter of the Swedish language since World War II. It monitors "the development of spoken and written Swedish" and publishes a list of new words each year to ensure consistency of spelling and make sure that Swedish is a "complete language, i.e. [is] possible to use in all areas of society." This year, for the first time, the Council has taken a word off the list: ogooglebar, which literally meant "ungoogleable" but was defined as "a thing or person that does not produce relevant results when typed into a search engine." [more inside]