Archive for April, 2014

Every year, phones and tablets get better, and more of you are starting to use your mobile devices not just to view, but also to create and edit content. And while the Drive app is a convenient place to store your stuff, we want to make it easier for you to quickly find, edit and create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the go. Starting today, you can download new, standalone mobile apps for Docs and Sheets—with Slides coming soon. Need to find a spreadsheet? Go to the Sheets app. Need to create a document? Go to the Docs app. They’re all right there at your fingertips.

When you open the new apps, you’ll see your most recently edited files, which means less time searching and scrolling.

The apps also come with offline support built in, so you can easily view, edit and create files without an Internet connection. Now, if you have a brilliant idea for a best-selling novel while traipsing through the Amazonian rainforest (or you know, something more probable, like during flight takeoff)…no problem. You can jot down your idea in the Docs app on your phone, even when you’re offline.

You can get the apps on Google Play

In February, we asked K-12 students across the country to doodle about the one thing they’d invent to make the world a better place—and we were amazed by their curiosity and creativity. For many students, environmental issues were top of mind, resulting in impressive and artistic doodles depicting water and air purification or turning garbage into flowers. Another common theme was really smart robots; they clean up garbage or help students with their homework. Others created possible solutions for solving obesity or eliminating world hunger. And we saw some thoughtful ideas around time travel and goggles that help you see the world from another person’s point of view so you can truly understand them.

From more than 100,000 creative ideas, we’ve selected the best one from each state with the help of our guest judges. Today, we’re celebrating the 50 state winners—little ones just six years old to high school seniors—at their schools from Fort Paine, Ala. to Moorcroft, Wyo., and from Anchorage, Alaska to Plant City, Fla. We’ll reveal the winning artists in front of their classmates, teachers and parents and, in some places, their local mayors or elected officials.

Now it’s your turn to cast a vote for your favorite Doodle. Starting today through May 9, you can go to the Doodle 4 Google site to help select one winner for each age group. On May 21, we’ll host all 50 state winners at our headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., where we’ll reveal the five age group finalists as well as the national Doodle 4 Google winner.
Then, for the first time ever, the national winner will get to hang out with our team in Mountain View and animate their doodle. You’ll see the spiffed-up version on our homepage on June 9. For now, don’t forget to vote!

Posted by Ryan Germick, Doodle Team Lead

Jaywalking pedestrians. Cars lurching out of hidden driveways. Double-parked delivery trucks blocking your lane and your view. At a busy time of day, a typical city street can leave even experienced drivers sweaty-palmed and irritable. We all dream of a world in which city centers are freed of congestion from cars circling for parking

From Lupita topping the People 50 to LaMarcus dropping 46, it’s time to look again at the top trending items on Google Search.

The games we play
The NBA and NHL playoffs both kicked off in earnest this week, and searches for hockey and basketball topics lit up the scoreboard. In fact, the Chicago Blackhawks occupied a post in Google’s Hot Searches list every day but one since last Friday. The defending Stanley Cup champions are playing a tight (and, as of Wednesday, tied) series against the St. Louis Blues; they also drew controversy this weekend when stories emerged of the Blackhawks taunting Blues captain David Backes after a hit that got the Hawks’ Brent Seabrook suspended.

In the NBA, it was all about the big plays. Searches for the OKC Thunder’s Kevin Durant peaked after he made a ridiculous four-point play while (and I don’t use this word lightly) literally falling out of bounds on Tuesday. The last time Durant came close to this level of search interest was on January 30, after a 12-game 30+ point scoring streak. And the Portland Trail Blazers’ LaMarcus Aldridge was on fire on the court and on Google, scoring more than 40 points in his team’s first two playoff games against the Houston Rockets… on the road—making him one of only three players ever to do so. On a more somber note, searches were also high for longtime sideline reporter Craig Sager, who revealed on Sunday that he has been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
Moving to the diamond, [pine tar] was the top searched topic overall on Wednesday after Yankees’ starting pitcher Michael Pineda was caught red-handed (and sticky-necked) using the substance, a violation of MLB rules, while elsewhere in the American League the Angels’ Albert Pujols hit his 500th career home run. And during Monday’s Boston Marathon (a trending topic both this week and last), Meb Keflezighi became the first American to win the race in more than 30 years, making him a “breakout,” with nearly 1,000% increase in search interest over the last year on Google Search.

Stranger than fiction
Alongside searches for Easter and Earth Day, there were a few unconventional celebrations this week. Dyngus Day, a Polish-American holiday taking place on Easter Monday and similar to Poland’s Śmigus-Dyngus and Hungary’s Vízbevető, was a top topic in search on Monday (O.K., so it wasn’t the top topic, but it was top of mind for many). Traditionally celebrated by boys throwing water over girls, in the U.S. Dyngus Day celebrations include parades, traditional foods and polka music. Whatever its origins, interest in Dyngus Day has been growing steadily the past two years since barely registering on Search in 2012.

What the… powdered alcohol?! That’s what some people were thinking when they searched for [Palcohol], a powder that turns water into alcoholic drinks. It was approved by U.S. regulators earlier in the month, but this week the decision was rescinded. And when a 15-year-old boy caught a ride from San Jose, Calif., to Hawaii in an airplane wheel well, stunned searchers came to Google looking for images of wheel wells to understand how someone might survive such a feat—especially without the beverage cart.
Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor, who searched this week for [chekhov gun first act] and [hedgehogs in costumes]

XML Sitemaps Version 2.0 is Out

Version 2.0 of the XML Sitemaps plugin has been released.  Besides testing for compatibility with WordPress 3.9, the plugin now provides a configuration screen to control sitemap generation.

This release includes:

  • NEW Admin Settings
  • Optionally include/exclude archive, author, category and tag pages from the sitemap
  • Option to exclude individual pages
  • Ability to generate sitemap for mobile-only sites in mobile sitemap format.
  • WP 3.9 Compat
  • Fix: Too many author pages entries were being generated

Thanks for the suggestions for improving the functionality of this plugin.  Input is always welcomed but not every request will make it in.   Our philosophy has always been to minimize the number of options and settings a user needs to be educated on and worry about and instead, have the user just activate and go.

 

Semiologic

For 21 years, Take Your Child To Work Day has helped kids understand what moms and dads do all day after they leave the house. And even if kids don’t realize it at the time, it also serves an important role in helping youngsters learn about what kinds of jobs they could do when they grow up. Unfortunately, not all kids are lucky enough to get these opportunities.

Today, we’re giving kids everywhere a chance to “visit” some of the world’s most exciting workplaces. Working with Forbes, Connected Classrooms is hosting 18 virtual field trips to places like the Georgia Aquarium, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Stanford National Lab and the Chicago Bulls locker room, using Google Hangouts. Professionals from all walks of life will discuss their day-to-day roles and how they got there, so students—regardless of budget or geography—can be exposed to a wide range of careers and get excited about their future.

The full list of events is available on Forbes’ site, but here’s a preview of what you can expect:

Learn about careers in government with U.S. Senator for Connecticut, Eric MurphyWatch the behind-the-scene production of the morning bell ceremony at NASDAQHear how chef Keizo Shimamoto created the ramen burger sensationGet an inside look at running a magazine with Forbes editor Randall LaneSee how YouTube celebrity chef, Laura Vitale, runs her own online cooking showExplore monster movie making with the Stan Winston School of Special Effects
We hope you’ll tune in at 6am PT for the first career hangout, and check out Connected Classrooms throughout the day for new, live field trips.

Posted by Lisa Jiang, Google+ Education Partnership Lead

Auto Thickbox 3.0 Released

Version 3.0 of Auto Thickbox is a major release of the plugin.  It offers new keyboard support, improved text captions,support for bmp file types, and WP 3.9 compatibility.

Keyboard support now offered with this release:

  • Next Image: Greater Than (>) or Left Arrow
  • Previous Image: Less Than (<) or Right Arrow
  • First Image: Home
  • Last Image: End
  • Close Popup: Esc or Enter/Return

 

The changelog for this release includes:

  • Added new keyboard support: Left arrow, right arrow, home, end
  • Next and Prev don't always advance correctly with Thickbox.js 3.1. Plugin now has own custom thickbox.js.
  • WP 3.9 eliminated some of the default thickbox styling. Plugin now has own custom thickbox styling
  • Changed ordering of Prev, Next and Image of
  • Photo title is now centered.
  • Now support .bmp image extensions
  • Custom thickbox.js uses a minified version for better performance.
  • WP 3.9 compat
  • Code refactoring

Semiologic

Go back in time with Street View

If you’ve ever dreamt of being a time traveler like Doc Brown, now’s your chance. Starting today, you can travel to the past to see how a place has changed over the years by exploring Street View imagery in Google Maps for desktop. We’ve gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world.
If you see a clock icon in the upper left-hand portion of a Street View image, click on it and move the slider through time and select a thumbnail to see that same place in previous years or seasons.
Now with Street View, you can see a landmark’s growth from the ground up, like the Freedom Tower in New York City or the 2014 World Cup Stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil. This new feature can also serve as a digital timeline of recent history, like the reconstruction after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Onagawa, Japan. You can even experience different seasons and see what it would be like to cruise Italian roadways in both summer and winter.
Construction of the Freedom Tower, New York CityDestruction in Onagawa, Japan after the 2011 earthquake
Forget going 88 mph in a DeLorean—you can stay where you are and use Google Maps to virtually explore the world as it is—and as it was. Happy (time) traveling!

Posted by Vinay Shet, Google Street View Product Manager

Going solar with SunPower

Just because Earth Day is over doesn’t mean we’re done doing good things for the planet. Yesterday we announced our biggest renewable energy purchase yet: an agreement with our Iowa utility partners to supply our data center facilities there with up to 407 megawatts of wind energy.

Today, we’re taking another step towards a clean energy future with a major new investment. Together with SunPower Corporation we’re creating a new $250 million fund to help finance the purchase of residential rooftop solar systems—making it easier for thousands of households across the U.S. to go solar. Essentially, this is how it works: Using the fund ($100 million from Google and $150 million from SunPower), we buy the solar panel systems. Then we lease them to homeowners at a cost that’s typically lower than their normal electricity bill. So by participating in this program, you don’t just help the environment—you can also save money.
A home sporting SunPower solar panels
SunPower delivers solar to residential, utility and commercial customers and also manufacturers its own solar cells and panels.They’re known for having high-quality, high reliability panels which can generate up to 50 percent more power per unit area, with guaranteed performance and lower degradation over time. That means that you can install fewer solar panels to get the same amount of energy. And SunPower both makes the panels and manages the installation, so the process is seamless.

This is our 16th renewable energy investment and our third residential rooftop solar investment (the others being with Solar City and Clean Power Finance). Overall we’ve invested more than $1 billion in 16 renewable energy projects around the world, and we’re always on the hunt for new opportunities to make more renewable energy available to more people—Earth Day and every day.

Posted by Rob Parker, Renewable energy team

Ok Glass… Let’s celebrate Earth Day

Part of honoring Earth Day is celebrating the people who dedicate their lives to protecting our planet’s most vulnerable species. You’ll find one of those people in the tall grasslands of Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, where Sabita Malla, a senior research officer at World Wildlife Fund (WWF), is hard at work protecting rhinos and Bengal tigers from poaching. She spends her days collecting data about wildlife in order to track the animals, assess threats, and provide support where needed. Now, she’s getting help from something a bit unexpected: Google Glass.

Last year, WWF started exploring how smart eyewear could help further its conservation mission in the Arctic and the Amazon as part of the Giving through Glass Explorer program. Now they’ve brought it to Nepal to see how it could help monitor wild rhinos. Take a peek:

Rhino monitoring can be a slow process, especially in habitats with tricky terrain, but data collection is crucial for making the right conservation decisions. Most parts of Chitwan National Park are inaccessible to vehicles, so Sabita and her team ride in on elephants, and have been collecting health and habitat data using pencil and paper.

Now custom-built Glassware (the Glass version of apps) called Field Notes can help Sabita do her work hands-free instead of gathering data in a notebook. That’s helpful for both accuracy and safety when you’re on an elephant. Using voice commands, Sabita and other researchers can take photos and videos, and map a rhino’s location, size, weight, and other notable characteristics. The notes collected can also be automatically uploaded to a shared doc back at the office, making it easier to collaborate with other researchers, and potentially a lot faster than typing up handwritten notes.

This is just one example of a nonprofit exploring how Glass can make their critical work easier. Today, we’re looking for more ideas from you.

If you work at a nonprofit and have an idea for how to make more of a difference with Glass, share your ideas at g.co/givingthroughglass by 11:59 PDT on May 20, 2014. Five U.S.-based nonprofits will get a Glass device, a trip to a Google office for training, a $25,000 grant, and help from Google developers to make your Glass project a reality.

To learn more about Google.org’s ongoing collaboration with World Wildlife Fund, visit this site.

Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Google.org

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