Technology

Calling all teens: join the latest round of Google Code-inCalling all teens: join the latest round of Google Code-in

GoogleBlog - Wed, 11/28/2018 - 20:00

Yesterday marked the start of the 7th year of Google Code-in (GCI), our pre-university contest introducing students to open source development. GCI takes place entirely online and is open to students between the ages of 13 and 17 around the globe.

Open source software makes up the backbone of the internet, from servers and routers to the phone in your pocket, but it’s a community-driven effort. Google Code-in serves a dual purpose of encouraging young developers and ensuring that open source communities continue to grow.

The concept is simple: students complete bite-sized tasks created by 17 participating open source organizations on topic areas of their choice, including:

  • Coding

  • Documentation/Training

  • Outreach/Research

  • Quality Assurance

  • User Interface

Tasks take an average of 3-5 hours to complete and include the guidance of a mentor to help along the way. Complete one task? Get a digital certificate. Three tasks? Get a Google t-shirt. Mentor organizations pick finalists and grand prize winners from among the 10 students who contributed most to that organization. Finalists get a hoodie and Grand Prize winners get a trip to Google headquarters in California where they meet Googlers, mentors and fellow winners.  

Google Code-in began with 361 students from 45 countries and has grown to include, in 2015, 980 students from 65 countries. You can read about the experiences of past participants on the Google Open Source blog. Over the last 6 years, more than 3,000 students from 99 countries have successfully completed tasks in GCI.

Student Ahmed Sabie had this to say, “Overall, Google Code-in was the experience of a lifetime. It set me up for the future by teaching me relevant and critical skills necessary in software development.”

Know of a student who might be interested? Learn more about GCI by checking out our rules and FAQs. And please visit our contest site and read the Getting Started Guide. Teachers, you can find additional resources here to help get your students started.

The Google Code-in contest is now open! Students ages 13 to 17 gain real-world software development experience by building open source software with the support of mentors.
Categories: Technology

Calling all teens: join the latest round of Google Code-inCalling all teens: join the latest round of Google Code-in

GoogleBlog - Wed, 11/28/2018 - 20:00

Yesterday marked the start of the 7th year of Google Code-in (GCI), our pre-university contest introducing students to open source development. GCI takes place entirely online and is open to students between the ages of 13 and 17 around the globe.

Open source software makes up the backbone of the internet, from servers and routers to the phone in your pocket, but it’s a community-driven effort. Google Code-in serves a dual purpose of encouraging young developers and ensuring that open source communities continue to grow.

The concept is simple: students complete bite-sized tasks created by 17 participating open source organizations on topic areas of their choice, including:

  • Coding

  • Documentation/Training

  • Outreach/Research

  • Quality Assurance

  • User Interface

Tasks take an average of 3-5 hours to complete and include the guidance of a mentor to help along the way. Complete one task? Get a digital certificate. Three tasks? Get a Google t-shirt. Mentor organizations pick finalists and grand prize winners from among the 10 students who contributed most to that organization. Finalists get a hoodie and Grand Prize winners get a trip to Google headquarters in California where they meet Googlers, mentors and fellow winners.  

Google Code-in began with 361 students from 45 countries and has grown to include, in 2015, 980 students from 65 countries. You can read about the experiences of past participants on the Google Open Source blog. Over the last 6 years, more than 3,000 students from 99 countries have successfully completed tasks in GCI.

Student Ahmed Sabie had this to say, “Overall, Google Code-in was the experience of a lifetime. It set me up for the future by teaching me relevant and critical skills necessary in software development.”

Know of a student who might be interested? Learn more about GCI by checking out our rules and FAQs. And please visit our contest site and read the Getting Started Guide. Teachers, you can find additional resources here to help get your students started.

The Google Code-in contest is now open! Students ages 13 to 17 gain real-world software development experience by building open source software with the support of mentors.
Categories: Technology

How British charity Comic Relief processed millions of UK pounds in seven hours on Red Nose DayHow British charity Comic Relief processed millions of UK pounds in seven hours on Red Nose Day

GoogleBlog - 1 hour 47 min ago

When you concentrate two years worth of fundraising into seven hours, every second counts. That’s the reality for Comic Relief, one of the U.K.’s most notable charities. Held every two years, Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day encourages the public to make the world a better place in the easiest way imaginable: by having a great time.

For this year’s fundraising event, Comic Relief turned to Google Cloud’s technology partner Pivotal to host its donation-processing systems. The platform also automated management of the underlying cloud infrastructure. Cloud services from Google Cloud Platform (GCP) were used to run Pivotal Cloud Foundry during Red Nose Day. In advance of the 2017 event, the charity was forecasting peaks of several hundred transactions a second for its online donation system. The stakes couldn’t have been higher.

We’re happy to report that Comic Relief raised over £73 million (and counting) for its marquee event! We caught up with David Laing, director of software engineering at Pivotal, to discuss running Pivotal Cloud Foundry on GCP for the 2017 event.

What kind of scale were you expecting for Red Nose Day?

Comic Relief does most of its two-year fundraising cycle in a seven-hour window. The donation system needed to scale with 100% uptime and reliability. It’s your classic elastic, spin-up/spin-down use case for the public cloud.

There are more than 14,000 call center reps that take donations via phone. The reps log donation details in the system. We also expected up to 100,000 concurrent web sessions, where individuals donate online. We expected nearly a million donations in all, with up to 300 donations a second.

What kind of apps did you run on Pivotal Cloud Foundry?

These were cloud-native applications, authored by consultancy Armakuni, in conjunction with Comic Relief. The apps used horizontally scalable, stateless microservices. Capturing donor information and processing their donation immediately is critical. This core availability requirement drove the architecture to have layers upon layers of redundancy. We hosted three independent shards of the full system in different datacenters spread over four countries and two continents, balancing traffic between them using DNS. Each shard then load balanced donations to multiple payment providers. Choosing availability over consistency and an “eventually consistent” architecture like this prepared us to continue to take donations in the event of multiple system failures. An async background process collected all the donation information to a central reporting shard.

What was it like working with GCP’s services?

At Pivotal, we love the performance and rapid provisioning of Compute Engine. The automated usage discounts on Google Cloud are so refreshing. You don’t need engineers to parse through consumption data to minimize your bill.

The load for Comic Relief is highly variable, with major consequences if performance suffers during traffic spikes. Unlike other clouds, GCP load balancers don't require a call to technical support to pre-warm. This saves our cloud admin's time and allows us to survive unexpected load increases. It gives us peace of mind knowing that GCP load balancers are built for scale, and backed up by the largest network of any cloud provider. In our experience, Google Cloud is able to handle traffic spikes that might stress other cloud providers.

We used Stackdriver Logging in our weekly capacity tests. We really liked its tight integration with BigQuery and Google Cloud Storage. Having the telemetry data stored in a massively scalable data analysis system helped us to analyze and pinpoint problematic areas ahead of time.

Identity management is another area where GCP shines. Since we already use G Suite for our corporate identity management, user management to all the GCP services was effortless.

How was the deployment of Pivotal Cloud Foundry on GCP? 

Both Pivotal and Google have invested a lot in making Cloud Foundry and GCP work well together. 

Deployment of Pivotal Cloud Foundry on Google Cloud “just worked.”  From the application’s perspective, Pivotal Cloud Foundry makes GCP look identical to other clouds; making multi-cloud deployment very simple. We followed the recommended deployment architecture and our reference architecture patterns for GCP.

The only real work was in figuring out how many Compute Engine VMs were required to handle the expected traffic.

For mission-critical workloads—like this scenario with Comic Relief—multi-site availability is a common pattern. This often takes the shape of multi-cloud, as it did with Red Nose Day. What’s your guidance for organizations looking to move to this model?

Organizations need to evolve their application architectures following two key architectural patterns.  

The first is to adopt a microservices architecture that breaks an application into components that are stateless and stateful. Stateless components are easy to scale and distribute; so doing as much of the “work” in these components provides flexibility. Stateful components are harder to manage; so it’s good practise to minimise these and ensure your application degrades gracefully should one of these fail or stall.

The second is to follow 12 factor app principles and build each microservice so that it can be run on an infrastructure agnostic platform like Pivotal Cloud Foundry. Pivotal Cloud Foundry abstracts away all the differences between different clouds. This makes it trivial to deploy and run the exact same application artifacts in multiple clouds.

An application architected according to the above two principles allows an organisation to wire the full stack together based on performance needs as well as organisational and governance requirements. Most importantly, you get the flexibility to change quickly as requirements change.

Comic Relief—whose donations app is architected like this—can massively scale up the application to run on multiple clouds with multiple layers of redundancy for the seven hours of the year when donations peak. For the rest of the year, they can run a single copy of the donations application in a scaled-down form to minimize costs.

Since Pivotal Cloud Foundry makes all clouds look the same, Comic Relief gets to choose the best cloud provider(s) every year. Over the past five years the app has been run in a private data center and across three public clouds—all with no changes to the application code.

What was the multi-cloud experience like for the engineering teams supporting the event?

This is where Pivotal Cloud Foundry can really help. The platform makes all infrastructure targets look the same. For Comic Relief—and everyone for that matter—Pivotal Cloud Foundry abstracts away the  differences between running  on-premises  and running on GCP. Once the Pivotal Ops team figured out how to run Pivotal Cloud Foundry on GCP, there was basically no work involved for the app developers. They just had to target a new Pivotal Cloud Foundry endpoint and rerun cf-push to get their application running on GCP.

If something unexpected happened on Red Nose Day, the application operations team can simply remove the affected site from the DNS round-robin list. Traffic would be re-directed to the other installations while we calmly triaged the issue. Regardless, despite a potential disruption, we knew that donations would still be accepted and processed.

Want to learn more about how Pivotal and Google are collaborating? Check out the Cloud Native Roadshow in a city near you. To hear more from Comic Relief, please register for Google Cloud Next London May 3-4.

David Laing, director of software engineering at Pivotal discusses running Pivotal Cloud Foundry on GCP to help process £73 million in donations on Comic Relief's Red Nose Day.
Categories: Technology

Five ways Google Trips can help you enjoy your next vacationFive ways Google Trips can help you enjoy your next vacation

GoogleBlog - 1 hour 47 min ago

Everyone loves vacation, but the work that goes into planning one—well, can be a lot of work.

That’s why last year we launched Google Trips on Android and iOS to help you experience more and plan less on vacation. All your travel info automatically organized in one place and available offline? Check. Activity suggestions based on what’s nearby and popular itineraries you can customize? Check.

The exciting (and often challenging) part of traveling is that things can sometimes change last minute. You need to be able to easily track updates to your travel plans and share them with your travel buddies. That’s where Google Trips comes in. We’ve added three new features to make your summer travel easier to plan and enjoy—even as things change. Learn more, plus some travel tips:

1. Share and keep track of your reservations in one place. No need to dig up every individual hotel, flight and travel reservation and forward them from your inbox. Save yourself the headache and share all the reservations for your trip with just a tap of the arrow button in Google Trips. Anyone you share with will receive an email with all the reservation details, and see them in the app too.

2. Stay on top of last-minute changes. Trips already helps automatically organize your travel reservations from Gmail. For those last-minute or spontaneous changes, we built in a feature that lets you quickly update and add new details for flight, hotel, car, and restaurant reservations, even when you don’t have an email confirmation. Simply press the “+” button in the bottom right corner within the Reservations section. Enter your airline and flight number, or the name of your hotel, car rental or restaurant, and we’ll fill out the rest. There’s space for free-form notes, too, if you’d rather.

3. Catch a train or bus to your next adventure. Part of the fun of traveling to a new country is visiting the top sights in different cities, and often travel by train or bus is the most convenient way to get around (Rome to Florence by train in 1:30? Sign us up!). In fact, more than 3 million rail and bus reservations are booked weekly by travelers around the world. So starting now, all your past and upcoming train and bus reservations will automatically be organized in one place for you in Trips—along with your flight, hotel, car and restaurant reservations.

4. Follow the wisdom of the crowd for some travel inspiration. There are so many places in the world to visit, sometimes you need a little help to figure out where to go next.  Here are eight destinations we saw rise in popularity for travelers over the past year:

5. Download your trip before you go. No matter where you end up, you can find nearby spots to see, check hours and locations for attractions, and review your saved places. On average, nearly a quarter of Trips users are offline for more than seven hours at a time while traveling, and nearly 70 percent use the offline feature and download trips in advance. Even with Wi-Fi available at hotels or local cafes, you can’t always count on a steady connection to get the information you need when you’re out and about, but Google Trips has you covered.

Going on vacation should be fun. While you kick back, we’ll keep working on Google Trips to make traveling easier for you!

Just in time for summer. Three new features and travel tips from Google Trips to make planning your next vacation a breeze.
Categories: Technology

How Can I Stop Automatic Windows 10 Updates?

AskDaveTaylor - 2 hours 15 min ago

You’re not alone in your concern about waking up to a new and changed version of Microsoft Windows 10; a lot of people have expressed concern and upset about the automatic update policy that Microsoft’s introduced with Windows 10. You’d think that them getting in trouble for automatically updating Windows 7 and Windows 8 users to Windows 10 would have dimmed their zeal, but it turns out that they’re wrestling with another pressure too: keeping your computer safe from viruses and malware.

It;’s the digital cold war now: security experts and hackers alike poke around trying to find holes in the Windows PC security system, they publish their exploits, Microsoft’s developer team fixes it with a patch or bigger update, and the circle continues. If you opted to never update your current version of Windows, therefore, you will become more and more susceptible to being hacked or infected. Running Windows 95 or Windows XP? Oh boy, you’re really living on the edge and I would strongly encourage you to update ASAP.

As a sort of compromise, the latest beta of Windows 10, known as the Creator’s Update and dated late April, 2017, has the ability for you to mark your Internet connection as “metered”, even if it’s a hardwired Ethernet cable that goes straight into a cable modem or other router device. With that you tame much of the problem. But let’s have a look!

To start, simply do a Cortana search for “Network Status“:

Click on it or press Return and Windows 10 will pop up the Network Status window, reasonably enough:

On the assumption that your PC is connected to the Internet through its usual connection, click on “Change connection properties” to proceed.

It’s the second setting you want to change: Use the “On/Off” sliding control to set your current Internet connection as metered. That way Windows won’t assume it has free access to download as much data as desired 24×7. A good thing. Once you’ve changed it, the entry will look like this:

At this point you’ve stopped Windows 10 automatically doing big updates, but Microsoft, mindful of its responsibility to help keep your computer from being infected with malware, still reserves the right to download critical security updates, as explained:

What “to keep Windows running smoothly” means is a subject of hot debate in the online world, but hopefully it’s just small security patches to ensure your computer stays happy and free of infection.  And now you know how to gain control of the update process!

The post How Can I Stop Automatic Windows 10 Updates? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Now we're cooking—the Assistant on Google Home is your secret ingredientNow we're cooking—the Assistant on Google Home is your secret ingredient

GoogleBlog - 2 hours 47 min ago

Cooking without burning the food can be hard enough. But before you even get there you have to prep your ingredients, all while trying not to get flour and eggs on, well, everything. Unless you’re a graceful TV chef, your favorite recipe book may end up covered in unbaked cookie.

But what if you could listen to a recipe and your favorite music, all at the same time? To help you perfect your kitchen skills, we’re introducing the ability to cook with the Google Assistant on Google Home.

Thanks to Bon Appetit, The New York Times, Food Network and more, you’ll be able to follow step-by-step cooking instructions for more than 5 million recipes. Creating your next banana bread masterpiece or stuffed chicken valentino for a dinner party feast will be easier than ever.

So here’s your recipe … for recipes on Google Home:

Step 1: Pick a recipe! Go to the Google Assistant on your Android phone or to Google Search (iOS or Android) and find a recipe. Once you pick your favorite, select the “Send to Google Home” button. Whether you’re at home or on the go, your recipe will be saved.

Step 2: Once you’re ready to cook, just say “Ok Google, start cooking" or "Ok Google, start recipe."

Step 3: Gather your ingredients, your apron and you’re halfway there.

And, for those times when you’re not sure if you missed a step or just need to repeat the directions, say “Ok Google, repeat” or “Ok Google, what’s step two?”

Step 4: While you stir and taste test, you can also continue to get things done with your Google Assistant on Google Home. All while you’re following the recipe, you can play your favorite music, ask about conversions (teaspoons to tablespoons, tablespoons to cups -- who can remember that stuff?) and set a timer or two.

Step 5: Enjoy your meal!

This feature will roll out over the coming week, so if you don't have it yet, try again in a few days! And if you’re looking for inspiration, you can also say “Ok Google, let's make macaroons” and we’ll give you a recipe to start.

There’s no set-up necessary—just send a recipe to your Google Home or start on the device and you’re ready to start cooking.

Starting today, you’ll be able to follow step-by-step instructions for more than 5 million recipes with your Google Assistant on Google Home.
Categories: Technology

Bringing Alexander Hamilton’s history to lifeBringing Alexander Hamilton’s history to life

GoogleBlog - 7 hours 47 min ago

In November 2009, the White House uploaded a video to YouTube of playwright and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda performing a piece called “The Hamilton Mixtape.” In the video, Miranda proclaims to then President Obama that he would use hip-hop and spoken word to tell the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton. The room erupts in curious laughter. Hip-hop and 18th century history? How could these seemingly different worlds come together?

Nearly eight years later, Lin-Manuel’s Hamilton: An American Musical has blown us all away. The show is a cultural phenomenon, uniting history buffs, musical theater fans, political wonks and beyond. Through its innovative storytelling and deliberately diverse cast, the show remixes American history into a powerful lesson that resonates with society’s current challenges.

Google.org supported the Hamilton Education Program with a $800,000 grant that today will bring 5,000 students from Title I schools in New York, Chicago and the Bay Area to see the musical, as the capstone of a six-week curriculum about the Founding Era. Through a combination of learning from primary source documents like original letters and newspapers, and musical performances, students from every background will be able to make American founding era history their own. Students will also perform their original, history-based works on the Hamilton stage across these three cities. Perhaps one of them might be a future Lin-Manuel!

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is also launching new digital content on Google platforms that enables students around the world to engage more deeply with Alexander Hamilton’s story. Six new virtual reality tours will transport students, teachers, and fans to important places in Hamilton’s life, no matter where they live. Using Google Expeditions, students can explore places like Alexander Hamilton’s home in Uptown Manhattan, Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, and the infamous site of Aaron Burr–Alexander Hamilton duel in Weehawken, New Jersey.

U.S. history students at Golden State College Preparatory Academy in Oakland, CA explore the sites of Alexander Hamilton’s life

In addition, using Google Arts and Culture, the Gilder Lehrman Institute is bringing online dozens of rare archives and artifacts related to Hamilton’s era including early printings of the U.S. Constitution and a letter to his wife expressing his love. There are ten digital exhibits that will allow students and others around the world to learn about Hamilton’s life and legacy—from his private and political life to a virtual walking tour of Hamilton’s New York, to the creation of Modern America.

Whether in virtual reality or on the theater stage, Alexander Hamilton has a lot to teach us about the history of our country, the American dream—and most importantly–rising up to opportunity.

Categories: Technology

Remember where you parked with Google MapsRemember where you parked with Google Maps

GoogleBlog - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 16:00

Some say it’s about the journey, not the destination—but we think it’s about a little of both. Now, Google Maps for Android and iOS will not only help you get where you’re going, but it’ll help you remember where you parked once you’ve arrived. Here’s how it works:

For Android users, tap the blue dot and then tap “Save your parking” to add your parking location to the map. You’ll see a label on the map itself identifying where you parked your car. Tap on that label to open up your parking card, where you can add additional details about your parking spot. You can add a note like “level 3, spot 35,” add the amount of time left before the meter expires (and even get a reminder alert 15 minutes before it does), save an image of your parking spot, and send your parking location to friends.

On iOS, the new experience is pretty similar. Tap on the blue dot and then tap on “Set as parking location” to add your parking spot to the map itself. Tap on the parking label on the map to open up your parking card and do things like share it with friends and view pictures of your parking area. This is in addition to the automatic parking detection you might have already noticed in Google Maps for iOS. If you connect to your car using USB audio or bluetooth, your parking spot will be automatically added to the map when you disconnect and exit the vehicle.

With Google Maps, you get guidance far beyond arrival at your destination, with the ability to save your parking location, explore places you’ve saved to lists, easily find friends and family, and more.

When you get to your destination, tap the blue dot, then “Save your parking” to save your parking location on Google Maps
Categories: Technology

Remember where you parked with Google MapsRemember where you parked with Google Maps

GoogleBlog - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 16:00

Some say it’s about the journey, not the destination—but we think it’s about a little of both. Now, Google Maps for Android and iOS will not only help you get where you’re going, but it’ll help you remember where you parked once you’ve arrived. Here’s how it works:

For Android users, tap the blue dot and then tap “Save your parking” to add your parking location to the map. You’ll see a label on the map itself identifying where you parked your car. Tap on that label to open up your parking card, where you can add additional details about your parking spot. You can add a note like “level 3, spot 35,” add the amount of time left before the meter expires (and even get a reminder alert 15 minutes before it does), save an image of your parking spot, and send your parking location to friends.

On iOS, the new experience is pretty similar. Tap on the blue dot and then tap on “Set as parking location” to add your parking spot to the map itself. Tap on the parking label on the map to open up your parking card and do things like share it with friends and view pictures of your parking area. This is in addition to the automatic parking detection you might have already noticed in Google Maps for iOS. If you connect to your car using USB audio or bluetooth, your parking spot will be automatically added to the map when you disconnect and exit the vehicle.

With Google Maps, you get guidance far beyond arrival at your destination, with the ability to save your parking location, explore places you’ve saved to lists, easily find friends and family, and more.

When you get to your destination, tap the blue dot, then “Save your parking” to save your parking location on Google Maps
Categories: Technology

Making the internet more inclusive in IndiaMaking the internet more inclusive in India

GoogleBlog - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 14:30

More than 400 million people in India use the internet, and more are coming online every day. But the vast majority of India’s online content is in English, which only 20 percent of the country’s population speaks—meaning most Indians have a hard time finding content and services in their language.

Building for everyone means first and foremost making things work in the languages people speak. That’s why we’ve now brought our new neural machine translation technology to translations between English and nine widely used Indian languages—Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada.

Neural machine translation translates full sentences at a time, instead of pieces of a sentence, using this broader context to help it figure out the most relevant translation. The result is higher-quality, more human sounding translations.

Just like it’s easier to learn a language when you already know a related language, our neural technology speaks each language better when it learns several at a time. For example, we have a whole lot more sample data for Hindi than its relatives Marathi and Bengali, but when we train them all together, the translations for all improve more than if we’d trained each individually.

Left: Phrase-based translation; right: neural machine translation

These improvements to Google Translate in India join several other updates we announced at an event in New Delhi today, including neutral machine translation in Chrome and bringing the Rajpal & Sons Hindi dictionary online so it’s easier for Hindi speakers to find word meanings right in search results. All these improvements help make the web more useful for hundreds of millions of Indians, and bring them closer to benefiting from the full value of the internet.

We’re bringing our neural machine translation technology to nine Indian languages—Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Punjabi, Malayalam and Kannada.
Categories: Technology

Making the internet more inclusive in IndiaMaking the internet more inclusive in India

GoogleBlog - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 14:30

More than 400 million people in India use the internet, and more are coming online every day. But the vast majority of India’s online content is in English, which only 20 percent of the country’s population speaks—meaning most Indians have a hard time finding content and services in their language.

Building for everyone means first and foremost making things work in the languages people speak. That’s why we’ve now brought our new neural machine translation technology to translations between English and nine widely used Indian languages—Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada.

Neural machine translation translates full sentences at a time, instead of pieces of a sentence, using this broader context to help it figure out the most relevant translation. The result is higher-quality, more human sounding translations.

Just like it’s easier to learn a language when you already know a related language, our neural technology speaks each language better when it learns several at a time. For example, we have a whole lot more sample data for Hindi than its relatives Marathi and Bengali, but when we train them all together, the translations for all improve more than if we’d trained each individually.

Left: Phrase-based translation; right: neural machine translation

These improvements to Google Translate in India join several other updates we announced at an event in New Delhi today, including neutral machine translation in Chrome and bringing the Rajpal & Sons Hindi dictionary online so it’s easier for Hindi speakers to find word meanings right in search results. All these improvements help make the web more useful for hundreds of millions of Indians, and bring them closer to benefiting from the full value of the internet.

We’re bringing our neural machine translation technology to nine Indian languages—Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati, Punjabi, Malayalam and Kannada.
Categories: Technology

Even better translations in Chrome, with one tapEven better translations in Chrome, with one tap

GoogleBlog - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 13:30

Half the world’s webpages are in English, but less than 15 percent of the global population speaks it as a primary or secondary language. It’s no surprise that Chrome’s built-in Translate functionality is one of the most beloved Chrome features. Every day Chrome users translate more than 150 million webpages with just one click or tap.

Last year, Google Translate introduced neural machine translation, which uses deep neural networks to translate entire sentences, rather than just phrases, to figure out the most relevant translation. Since then we’ve been gradually making these improvements available for Chrome’s built-in translation for select language pairs. The result is higher-quality, full-page translations that are more accurate and easier to read.

Today, neural machine translation improvement is coming to Translate in Chrome for nine more language pairs. Neural machine translation will be used for most pages to and from English for Indonesian and eight Indian languages: Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu. This means higher quality translations on pages containing everything from song lyrics to news articles to cricket discussions. From left: A webpage in Indonesian; the page translated into English without neural machine translation; the page translated into English with neural machine translation. As you can see, the translations after neural machine translation are more fluid and natural.

The addition of these nine languages brings the total number of languages enabled with neural machine translations in Chrome to more than 20. You can already translate to and from English for Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, and one-way from Spanish to English.

We’ll bring neural machine translation to even more languages in the future. Until then, learn more about enabling Translate in Chrome in our help center.

We're adding neural machine translations to Chrome for nine more languages, for a total of more than 20. The result is higher-quality, full-page translations that are more accurate and easier to read.
Categories: Technology

Even better translations in Chrome, with one tapEven better translations in Chrome, with one tap

GoogleBlog - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 13:30

Half the world’s webpages are in English, but less than 15 percent of the global population speaks it as a primary or secondary language. It’s no surprise that Chrome’s built-in Translate functionality is one of the most beloved Chrome features. Every day Chrome users translate more than 150 million webpages with just one click or tap.

Last year, Google Translate introduced neural machine translation, which uses deep neural networks to translate entire sentences, rather than just phrases, to figure out the most relevant translation. Since then we’ve been gradually making these improvements available for Chrome’s built-in translation for select language pairs. The result is higher-quality, full-page translations that are more accurate and easier to read.

Today, neural machine translation improvement is coming to Translate in Chrome for nine more language pairs. Neural machine translation will be used for most pages to and from English for Indonesian and eight Indian languages: Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil and Telugu. This means higher quality translations on pages containing everything from song lyrics to news articles to cricket discussions. From left: A webpage in Indonesian; the page translated into English without neural machine translation; the page translated into English with neural machine translation. As you can see, the translations after neural machine translation are more fluid and natural.

The addition of these nine languages brings the total number of languages enabled with neural machine translations in Chrome to more than 20. You can already translate to and from English for Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese, and one-way from Spanish to English.

We’ll bring neural machine translation to even more languages in the future. Until then, learn more about enabling Translate in Chrome in our help center.

We're adding neural machine translations to Chrome for nine more languages, for a total of more than 20. The result is higher-quality, full-page translations that are more accurate and easier to read.
Categories: Technology

How can I find my own posts on LinkedIn?

AskDaveTaylor - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 11:41

LinkedIn launched a major site redesign in early 2017 and while the interface is now quite different, it’s nice that one of the things that they did change was the ability for you to find your own posts. I know exactly what you’re talking about with the old version of LinkedIn, however, and used to also get so frustrated that if I wanted to check on how an old post was doing it was essentially impossible to find it on the site. Everyone else could probably get to my posts with ease, but somehow I was always penalized as the owner of the post. Worse, the posts you make don’t show up in your own timeline (which they should, in my opinion) so you click “Post” and they just vanished. Most odd.

Fortunately, as I said, the new LinkedIn design fixes this very problem, though it’s still not super obvious how to get to your trail of posts and content on the site. So let’s have a look!

To start, on the new LinkedIn home page, find your profile pic (should be easy!) on the top left:

A click on it and you’ll get to a page with your full profile information:

At this point I will encourage you to spend a few minutes making sure that the list of keywords that comprise your description are those that will help potential employers or clients find you if they’re busy searching LinkedIn, as I demonstrate above. Should you worry about being an “all-star profile”? I dunno, I don’t know what that actually means!

The important bit here, however, is the lower right: “Views of your post in the feed”. Whatever that number is (and it seems to be low as far as I can tell) click on it and you’ll get to a page that has, yes, all your posts!

And there you have it. You can even choose between just your Articles, your Posts or get a consolidated “All activity” view. About time, LinkedIn!

The post How can I find my own posts on LinkedIn? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

How maps and machine learning are helping to eliminate malariaHow maps and machine learning are helping to eliminate malaria

GoogleBlog - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 10:00

Today is World Malaria Day, a moment dedicated to raising awareness and improving access to tools to prevent malaria. The World Health Organization says nearly half of the world’s population is at risk for malaria, and estimates that in 2015 there were 212 million malaria cases resulting in 429,000 deaths. In places with high transmission rates, children under five account for 70 percent of malaria deaths.

DiSARM (Disease Surveillance and Risk Monitoring), a project led by the Malaria Elimination Initiative and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Clinton Health Access Initiative, is fighting the spread of malaria by mapping the places where malaria could occur. With the help of Google Earth Engine, DiSARM creates high resolution “risk maps” that help malaria control programs identify the areas where they should direct resources for prevention and treatment.

We sat down with Hugh Sturrock, who leads the DiSARM project and is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the University of California, San Francisco’s Global Health Group, to learn more about DiSARM’s fight against malaria, and how Google fits in.

As an epidemiologist, why did you choose to focus your efforts on malaria?

I first became interested in 2005, during my undergraduate days at the University of Edinburgh when I worked on a project examining the fungal control of mosquitoes with Professor Andrew Read. I suddenly realized that my research could have a positive impact on people’s lives and from that point on I was hooked. While malaria deaths have decreased dramatically since then, it’s still a huge public health problem.

Which regions is DiSARM targeting first?

We’re piloting DiSARM in Swaziland and Zimbabwe, two regions that are on the cusp of malaria elimination. Between 2000–2014, reported malaria cases in Swaziland decreased by 99 percent, and in 2015, Swaziland reported fewer than 400 local cases. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe achieved a 74 percent decline in reported cases from 2005–2015.

When a small number of cases in a region remain, precise intervention is required to fully eliminate malaria, and DiSARM can help fully close the gap. By focusing our resources more strategically, we can shrink the malaria map and eliminate the disease entirely in these countries.

How does DiSARM use Google Earth Engine to help fight malaria?If we map where malaria is most likely to occur, we can target those areas for action. Every time someone is diagnosed with malaria in Swaziland and Zimbabwe, a team goes to the village where the infection occurred and collects a GPS point with the precise infection location. Just looking at these points won’t allow you to accurately determine the risk of malaria, though. You also need satellite imagery of conditions like rainfall, temperature, slope and elevation, which affect mosquito breeding and parasite development.

To determine the risk of malaria, DiSARM combines the precise location of the malaria infection,  with satellite data of conditions like rainfall, temperature, vegetation, elevation, which affect mosquito breeding. DiSARM’s mobile app can be used by the malaria programs and field teams to target interventions.

Google Earth Engine collects and organizes the public satellite imagery data we need. In the past we had to obtain those images from a range of sources: NASA, USGS and different universities around the world. But with Google Earth Engine, it’s all in one place and can be processed using Google computers. We combine satellite imagery data from Google Earth Engine with the locations of malaria cases collected by a country’s national malaria control program, and create models that let us generate maps identifying areas at greatest risk.

The DiSARM interface gives malaria programs a near real-time view of malaria and predicts risk at specific locations, such as health facility service areas, villages and schools. Overlaying data allows malaria control programs to identify high-risk areas that have insufficient levels of protection and better distribute their interventions. How are the risk maps used? The Swaziland and Zimbabwe national malaria control programs use risk maps to help track progress and make decisions about how best to use their resources—for example, where to spray insecticides and where to conduct health promotion campaigns. With this data, they can make these decisions in a matter of minutes, rather than days or weeks. And they have much more precise information about where to target their efforts. They can drill down and direct their spray teams to go to the individual houses most at risk. This technique improves the targeting of interventions, saving money and time for the malaria programs. DiSARM’s targeting module uses the risk map to prioritize areas for interventions such as indoor residual spraying (IRS), insecticide treated nets (ITNs) and mass drug administration (MDA).

We’ve also developed a mobile app with instructions for field teams and the locations of buildings they need to target on an offline map. They can also use the app to collect data even if they don’t have connectivity while they’re in remote locations.

What’s next for DiSARM?

Over the next year, we’re planning to expand the platform to show not just the current malaria risk, but a forecast for the future. We believe Swaziland and Zimbabwe can eliminate malaria and we hope this tool can get them—and other countries—closer to achieving that goal. To learn more, visit disarm.io.

DiSARM uses Google Earth Engine to help malaria control programs identify where they should direct resources for prevention and treatment.
Categories: Technology

How maps and machine learning are helping to eliminate malariaHow maps and machine learning are helping to eliminate malaria

GoogleBlog - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 10:00

Today is World Malaria Day, a moment dedicated to raising awareness and improving access to tools to prevent malaria. The World Health Organization says nearly half of the world’s population is at risk for malaria, and estimates that in 2015 there were 212 million malaria cases resulting in 429,000 deaths. In places with high transmission rates, children under five account for 70 percent of malaria deaths.

DiSARM (Disease Surveillance and Risk Monitoring), a project led by the Malaria Elimination Initiative and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Clinton Health Access Initiative, is fighting the spread of malaria by mapping the places where malaria could occur. With the help of Google Earth Engine, DiSARM creates high resolution “risk maps” that help malaria control programs identify the areas where they should direct resources for prevention and treatment.

We sat down with Hugh Sturrock, who leads the DiSARM project and is an Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the University of California, San Francisco’s Global Health Group, to learn more about DiSARM’s fight against malaria, and how Google fits in.

As an epidemiologist, why did you choose to focus your efforts on malaria?

I first became interested in 2005, during my undergraduate days at the University of Edinburgh when I worked on a project examining the fungal control of mosquitoes with Professor Andrew Read. I suddenly realized that my research could have a positive impact on people’s lives and from that point on I was hooked. While malaria deaths have decreased dramatically since then, it’s still a huge public health problem.

Which regions is DiSARM targeting first?

We’re piloting DiSARM in Swaziland and Zimbabwe, two regions that are on the cusp of malaria elimination. Between 2000–2014, reported malaria cases in Swaziland decreased by 99 percent, and in 2015, Swaziland reported fewer than 400 local cases. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe achieved a 74 percent decline in reported cases from 2005–2015.

When a small number of cases in a region remain, precise intervention is required to fully eliminate malaria, and DiSARM can help fully close the gap. By focusing our resources more strategically, we can shrink the malaria map and eliminate the disease entirely in these countries.

How does DiSARM use Google Earth Engine to help fight malaria?If we map where malaria is most likely to occur, we can target those areas for action. Every time someone is diagnosed with malaria in Swaziland and Zimbabwe, a team goes to the village where the infection occurred and collects a GPS point with the precise infection location. Just looking at these points won’t allow you to accurately determine the risk of malaria, though. You also need satellite imagery of conditions like rainfall, temperature, slope and elevation, which affect mosquito breeding and parasite development.

To determine the risk of malaria, DiSARM combines the precise location of the malaria infection,  with satellite data of conditions like rainfall, temperature, vegetation, elevation, which affect mosquito breeding. DiSARM’s mobile app can be used by the malaria programs and field teams to target interventions.

Google Earth Engine collects and organizes the public satellite imagery data we need. In the past we had to obtain those images from a range of sources: NASA, USGS and different universities around the world. But with Google Earth Engine, it’s all in one place and can be processed using Google computers. We combine satellite imagery data from Google Earth Engine with the locations of malaria cases collected by a country’s national malaria control program, and create models that let us generate maps identifying areas at greatest risk.

The DiSARM interface gives malaria programs a near real-time view of malaria and predicts risk at specific locations, such as health facility service areas, villages and schools. Overlaying data allows malaria control programs to identify high-risk areas that have insufficient levels of protection and better distribute their interventions. How are the risk maps used? The Swaziland and Zimbabwe national malaria control programs use risk maps to help track progress and make decisions about how best to use their resources—for example, where to spray insecticides and where to conduct health promotion campaigns. With this data, they can make these decisions in a matter of minutes, rather than days or weeks. And they have much more precise information about where to target their efforts. They can drill down and direct their spray teams to go to the individual houses most at risk. This technique improves the targeting of interventions, saving money and time for the malaria programs. DiSARM’s targeting module uses the risk map to prioritize areas for interventions such as indoor residual spraying (IRS), insecticide treated nets (ITNs) and mass drug administration (MDA).

We’ve also developed a mobile app with instructions for field teams and the locations of buildings they need to target on an offline map. They can also use the app to collect data even if they don’t have connectivity while they’re in remote locations.

What’s next for DiSARM?

Over the next year, we’re planning to expand the platform to show not just the current malaria risk, but a forecast for the future. We believe Swaziland and Zimbabwe can eliminate malaria and we hope this tool can get them—and other countries—closer to achieving that goal. To learn more, visit disarm.io.

DiSARM uses Google Earth Engine to help malaria control programs identify where they should direct resources for prevention and treatment.
Categories: Technology

Our latest quality improvements for SearchOur latest quality improvements for Search

GoogleBlog - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 09:00

Search can always be improved. We knew it when I started working on Search in 1999, and it’s still true today. Back then, the Internet was expanding at an incredible rate. We had to make sense of this explosion of information, organize it, and present it in a way so that people could find what they were looking for, right on the Google results page. The work then was around PageRank, the core algorithm used to measure the importance of webpages so they could be ranked in results. In addition to trying to organize information, our algorithms have always had to grapple with individuals or systems seeking to “game” our systems in order to appear higher in search results—using low-quality “content farms,” hidden text and other deceptive practices. We've tackled these problems, and others over the years, by making regular updates to our algorithms and introducing other features that prevent people from gaming the system.

Today, in a world where tens of thousands of pages are coming online every minute of every day, there are new ways that people try to game the system. The most high profile of these issues is the phenomenon of “fake news,” where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information. While this problem is different from issues in the past, our goal remains the same—to provide people with access to relevant information from the most reliable sources available. And while we may not always get it right, we’re making good progress in tackling the problem. But in order to have long-term and impactful changes, more structural changes in Search are needed.

With that longer-term effort in mind, today we’re taking the next step toward continuing to surface more high-quality content from the web. This includes improvements in Search ranking, easier ways for people to provide direct feedback, and greater transparency around how Search works.

Search ranking

Our algorithms help identify reliable sources from the hundreds of billions of pages in our index. However, it’s become very apparent that a small set of queries in our daily traffic (around 0.25 percent), have been returning offensive or clearly misleading content, which is not what people are looking for. To help prevent the spread of such content for this subset of queries, we’ve improved our evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative content.

  • New Search Quality Rater guidelines: Developing changes to Search involves a process of experimentation. As part of that process, we have evaluators—real people who assess the quality of Google’s search results—give us feedback on our experiments. These ratings don’t determine individual page rankings, but are used to help us gather data on the quality of our results and identify areas where we need to improve. Last month, we updated our Search Quality Rater Guidelines to provide more detailed examples of low-quality webpages for raters to appropriately flag, which can include misleading information, unexpected offensive results, hoaxes and unsupported conspiracy theories. These guidelines will begin to help our algorithms in demoting such low-quality content and help us to make additional improvements over time.
  • Ranking changes: We combine hundreds of signals to determine which results we show for a given query—from the freshness of the content, to the number of times your search queries appear on the page. We’ve adjusted our signals to help surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content, so that issues similar to the Holocaust denial results that we saw back in December are less likely to appear.

Direct feedback tools

When you visit Google, we aim to speed up your experience with features like Autocomplete, which helps predict the searches you might be typing to quickly get to the info you need, and Featured Snippets, which shows a highlight of the information relevant to what you’re looking for at the top of your search results. The content that appears in these features is generated algorithmically and is a reflection of what people are searching for and what’s available on the web. This can sometimes lead to results that are unexpected, inaccurate or offensive. Starting today, we’re making it much easier for people to directly flag content that appears in both Autocomplete predictions and Featured Snippets. These new feedback mechanisms include clearly labeled categories so you can inform us directly if you find sensitive or unhelpful content. We plan to use this feedback to help improve our algorithms. New feedback link for Autocomplete Updated feedback link for Featured Snippets

Greater transparency about our products

Over the last few months, we’ve been asked tough questions about why shocking or offensive predictions were appearing in Autocomplete. Based on this, we evaluated where we can improve our content policies and updated them appropriately. Now we’re publishing this policy to the Help Center so anyone can learn more about Autocomplete and our approach to removals.  

For those looking to delve a little deeper, we recently updated our How Search Works site to provide more information to users and website owners about the technology behind Search. The site includes a description of how Google ranking systems sort through hundreds of billions of pages to return your results, as well as an overview of our user testing process.  

There are trillions of searches on Google every year. In fact, 15 percent of searches we see every day are new—which means there’s always more work for us to do to present people with the best answers to their queries from a wide variety of legitimate sources. While our search results will never be perfect, we’re as committed as always to preserving your trust and to ensuring our products continue to be useful for everyone.

Today we’re introducing improvements in search ranking, easier ways for people to provide direct feedback, and greater transparency around how Search works.
Categories: Technology

Our latest quality improvements for SearchOur latest quality improvements for Search

GoogleBlog - Tue, 04/25/2017 - 09:00

Search can always be improved. We knew it when I started working on Search in 1999, and it’s still true today. Back then, the Internet was expanding at an incredible rate. We had to make sense of this explosion of information, organize it, and present it in a way so that people could find what they were looking for, right on the Google results page. The work then was around PageRank, the core algorithm used to measure the importance of webpages so they could be ranked in results. In addition to trying to organize information, our algorithms have always had to grapple with individuals or systems seeking to “game” our systems in order to appear higher in search results—using low-quality “content farms,” hidden text and other deceptive practices. We've tackled these problems, and others over the years, by making regular updates to our algorithms and introducing other features that prevent people from gaming the system.

Today, in a world where tens of thousands of pages are coming online every minute of every day, there are new ways that people try to game the system. The most high profile of these issues is the phenomenon of “fake news,” where content on the web has contributed to the spread of blatantly misleading, low quality, offensive or downright false information. While this problem is different from issues in the past, our goal remains the same—to provide people with access to relevant information from the most reliable sources available. And while we may not always get it right, we’re making good progress in tackling the problem. But in order to have long-term and impactful changes, more structural changes in Search are needed.

With that longer-term effort in mind, today we’re taking the next step toward continuing to surface more high-quality content from the web. This includes improvements in Search ranking, easier ways for people to provide direct feedback, and greater transparency around how Search works.

Search ranking

Our algorithms help identify reliable sources from the hundreds of billions of pages in our index. However, it’s become very apparent that a small set of queries in our daily traffic (around 0.25 percent), have been returning offensive or clearly misleading content, which is not what people are looking for. To help prevent the spread of such content for this subset of queries, we’ve improved our evaluation methods and made algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative content.

  • New Search Quality Rater guidelines: Developing changes to Search involves a process of experimentation. As part of that process, we have evaluators—real people who assess the quality of Google’s search results—give us feedback on our experiments. These ratings don’t determine individual page rankings, but are used to help us gather data on the quality of our results and identify areas where we need to improve. Last month, we updated our Search Quality Rater Guidelines to provide more detailed examples of low-quality webpages for raters to appropriately flag, which can include misleading information, unexpected offensive results, hoaxes and unsupported conspiracy theories. These guidelines will begin to help our algorithms in demoting such low-quality content and help us to make additional improvements over time.
  • Ranking changes: We combine hundreds of signals to determine which results we show for a given query—from the freshness of the content, to the number of times your search queries appear on the page. We’ve adjusted our signals to help surface more authoritative pages and demote low-quality content, so that issues similar to the Holocaust denial results that we saw back in December are less likely to appear.

Direct feedback tools

When you visit Google, we aim to speed up your experience with features like Autocomplete, which helps predict the searches you might be typing to quickly get to the info you need, and Featured Snippets, which shows a highlight of the information relevant to what you’re looking for at the top of your search results. The content that appears in these features is generated algorithmically and is a reflection of what people are searching for and what’s available on the web. This can sometimes lead to results that are unexpected, inaccurate or offensive. Starting today, we’re making it much easier for people to directly flag content that appears in both Autocomplete predictions and Featured Snippets. These new feedback mechanisms include clearly labeled categories so you can inform us directly if you find sensitive or unhelpful content. We plan to use this feedback to help improve our algorithms. New feedback link for Autocomplete Updated feedback link for Featured Snippets

Greater transparency about our products

Over the last few months, we’ve been asked tough questions about why shocking or offensive predictions were appearing in Autocomplete. Based on this, we evaluated where we can improve our content policies and updated them appropriately. Now we’re publishing this policy to the Help Center so anyone can learn more about Autocomplete and our approach to removals.  

For those looking to delve a little deeper, we recently updated our How Search Works site to provide more information to users and website owners about the technology behind Search. The site includes a description of how Google ranking systems sort through hundreds of billions of pages to return your results, as well as an overview of our user testing process.  

There are trillions of searches on Google every year. In fact, 15 percent of searches we see every day are new—which means there’s always more work for us to do to present people with the best answers to their queries from a wide variety of legitimate sources. While our search results will never be perfect, we’re as committed as always to preserving your trust and to ensuring our products continue to be useful for everyone.

Today we’re introducing improvements in search ranking, easier ways for people to provide direct feedback, and greater transparency around how Search works.
Categories: Technology

Imperial Nepal Treks: An entrepreneur's journey to rebuild his tourism business after the great earthquakeImperial Nepal Treks: An entrepreneur's journey to rebuild his tourism business after the great earthquake

GoogleBlog - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 19:01

Two years ago, Nepal experienced its most devastating earthquake in more than 80 years. Thousands of lives were lost, and many more lost their homes and livelihoods. Slowly, the community has been able to recover and rebuild their lives and businesses. Today, we hear from Anz “Anuj” Bajracharya, Director of Treks, Tours & Mountaineering at Imperial Nepal Treks about what he remembers from the day the earthquake hit, the impact it had on his company, and how he has restored and grown the business with a little help from the Internet. 

The Imperial Nepal Treks team. Anuj is sporting sunglasses in the front row. 

Tell us, what do you remember from April 25, 2015? 
It was a quarter to noon on a Saturday, and my family and I were going to the movies. I was driving a car in the middle of the road. First there was just a shake, then there was another quake. Then there was panic. We couldn’t go back to our homes because walls were falling down, the roads were falling down. 

For four nights, we lived in the car on the road, cut off from communication. No mobile phones, no telephones, we didn’t have any contact or way to talk to my parents or our relatives. All that time we had no information about our families and friends. It was so sad to see the destruction around us. But we were the lucky ones. The Imperial Nepal Treks team didn’t lose anyone. Everyone in my family and my wife’s family was okay. Our house didn’t totally collapse, though we eventually had to demolish it. 

The company assisted the W-Foundation and Black Yak in distributing supplies as a part of the rebuilding effort in the earthquake epicenter of Gorkha.

What impact did the earthquake have on your business? 
Nepal’s economy heavily depends on tourism, so the earthquake affected all of us in the industry. Most of our guides were from Gorkha, the epicenter of the earthquake. And no tourist wanted to visit Nepal then, so we had to stop our business for a time. We almost gave up, but we didn’t. Slowly people from overseas started emailing us again, saying they wanted to visit Nepal. Many wanted to help with reconstruction efforts, so we helped with these campaigns. 

Imperial Nepal Treks leads a group to the Annapurna base camp which has an altitude of 4,130 meters (13,549 feet). Imperial Nepal Treks' partners

At the time of the earthquake, you had a team of nine people. Today, you employ 30 guides who are permanent employees. How did you rebuild and grow your business in this short time? 
Our business comes not from Nepal but from abroad—Singapore, the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries. I knew the best way to reach people was through the Internet. 


For many visitors, their first question is, "Is it safe to go up to the mountain [Everest]?" The online community helped us recover through word of mouth, recommendations, and reassuring reviews. What our guests tell us and share with others online after finishing their trek matters a lot. 

Being found on Google Search is also important for an online-based business like ours. After the earthquake, I saw companies investing in AdWords. I talked to my partners and colleagues and said we should give it a try. We rely on online marketing to reach our customers, and AdWords is a large part of this.

Given what you’ve been through in the past two years, what’s your advice for other entrepreneurs?  
Everyone wants a quick result, but we should learn to wait and watch sometimes. Business is not always about earning money, sometimes it’s about how we pause, learn, and adapt. Before I was working for Imperial Nepal Treks, I was a professional drummer. Because tourism is such a big industry here, I adapted to the market. I changed my profession and became a website designer for tourism businesses. You don’t have to always be a professional IT person or a business person to succeed. 

What’s next for your business?
Our success with Imperial Nepal Treks really motivated us to do something new, so in 2017 we registered a new company, Ecstatic Himalaya. A lot of this is possible because of Google AdWords, which has helped grow our business. While Imperial Nepal focuses on opportunities for budget-conscious and backpacker trekkers, Ecstatic Himalaya will focus on more upscale and customizable itineraries. 

Anuj Bajracharya shares what he remembers from the day the earthquake hit, the impact it had on his company, and how he has restored and grown the business with a little help from the Internet.
Categories: Technology

Imperial Nepal Treks: An entrepreneur's journey to rebuild his tourism business after the great earthquakeImperial Nepal Treks: An entrepreneur's journey to rebuild his tourism business after the great earthquake

GoogleBlog - Mon, 04/24/2017 - 19:01

Two years ago, Nepal experienced its most devastating earthquake in more than 80 years. Thousands of lives were lost, and many more lost their homes and livelihoods. Slowly, the community has been able to recover and rebuild their lives and businesses. Today, we hear from Anz “Anuj” Bajracharya, Director of Treks, Tours & Mountaineering at Imperial Nepal Treks about what he remembers from the day the earthquake hit, the impact it had on his company, and how he has restored and grown the business with a little help from the Internet. 

The Imperial Nepal Treks team. Anuj is sporting sunglasses in the front row. 

Tell us, what do you remember from April 25, 2015? 
It was a quarter to noon on a Saturday, and my family and I were going to the movies. I was driving a car in the middle of the road. First there was just a shake, then there was another quake. Then there was panic. We couldn’t go back to our homes because walls were falling down, the roads were falling down. 

For four nights, we lived in the car on the road, cut off from communication. No mobile phones, no telephones, we didn’t have any contact or way to talk to my parents or our relatives. All that time we had no information about our families and friends. It was so sad to see the destruction around us. But we were the lucky ones. The Imperial Nepal Treks team didn’t lose anyone. Everyone in my family and my wife’s family was okay. Our house didn’t totally collapse, though we eventually had to demolish it. 

The company assisted the W-Foundation and Black Yak in distributing supplies as a part of the rebuilding effort in the earthquake epicenter of Gorkha.

What impact did the earthquake have on your business? 
Nepal’s economy heavily depends on tourism, so the earthquake affected all of us in the industry. Most of our guides were from Gorkha, the epicenter of the earthquake. And no tourist wanted to visit Nepal then, so we had to stop our business for a time. We almost gave up, but we didn’t. Slowly people from overseas started emailing us again, saying they wanted to visit Nepal. Many wanted to help with reconstruction efforts, so we helped with these campaigns. 

Imperial Nepal Treks leads a group to the Annapurna base camp which has an altitude of 4,130 meters (13,549 feet). Imperial Nepal Treks' partners

At the time of the earthquake, you had a team of nine people. Today, you employ 30 guides who are permanent employees. How did you rebuild and grow your business in this short time? 
Our business comes not from Nepal but from abroad—Singapore, the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries. I knew the best way to reach people was through the Internet. 


For many visitors, their first question is, "Is it safe to go up to the mountain [Everest]?" The online community helped us recover through word of mouth, recommendations, and reassuring reviews. What our guests tell us and share with others online after finishing their trek matters a lot. 

Being found on Google Search is also important for an online-based business like ours. After the earthquake, I saw companies investing in AdWords. I talked to my partners and colleagues and said we should give it a try. We rely on online marketing to reach our customers, and AdWords is a large part of this.

Given what you’ve been through in the past two years, what’s your advice for other entrepreneurs?  
Everyone wants a quick result, but we should learn to wait and watch sometimes. Business is not always about earning money, sometimes it’s about how we pause, learn, and adapt. Before I was working for Imperial Nepal Treks, I was a professional drummer. Because tourism is such a big industry here, I adapted to the market. I changed my profession and became a website designer for tourism businesses. You don’t have to always be a professional IT person or a business person to succeed. 

What’s next for your business?
Our success with Imperial Nepal Treks really motivated us to do something new, so in 2017 we registered a new company, Ecstatic Himalaya. A lot of this is possible because of Google AdWords, which has helped grow our business. While Imperial Nepal focuses on opportunities for budget-conscious and backpacker trekkers, Ecstatic Himalaya will focus on more upscale and customizable itineraries. 

Anuj Bajracharya shares what he remembers from the day the earthquake hit, the impact it had on his company, and how he has restored and grown the business with a little help from the Internet.
Categories: Technology

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