Technology

Everything in its right place

GoogleBlog - 9 hours 23 min ago
When we launched Google+, we set out to help people discover, share and connect across Google like they do in real life. While we got certain things right, we made a few choices that, in hindsight, we’ve needed to rethink. So over the next few months, we’re going to be making some important changes. Here’s more about what you can expect:

A more focused Google+ experience
Google+ is quickly becoming a place where people engage around their shared interests, with the content and people who inspire them. In line with that focus, we’re continuing to add new features like Google+ Collections, where you can share and enjoy posts organized by the topics you care about. At the same time, we’ll also move some features that aren’t essential to an interest-based social experience out of Google+. For example, many elements of Google+ Photos have been moved into the new Google Photos app, and we’re well underway putting location sharing into Hangouts and other apps, where it really belongs. We think changes like these will lead to a more focused, more useful, more engaging Google+.

Using Google without a Google+ profile
People have told us that accessing all of their Google stuff with one account makes life a whole lot easier. But we’ve also heard that it doesn’t make sense for your Google+ profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use.

So in the coming months, a Google Account will be all you’ll need to share content, communicate with contacts, create a YouTube channel and more, all across Google. YouTube will be one of the first products to make this change, and you can learn more on their blog. As always, your underlying Google Account won’t be searchable or followable, unlike public Google+ profiles. And for people who already created Google+ profiles but don’t plan to use Google+ itself, we’ll offer better options for managing and removing those public profiles.

You’ll see these changes roll out in stages over several months. While they won’t happen overnight, they’re right for Google’s users—both the people who are on Google+ every single day, and the people who aren’t.

Posted by Bradley Horowitz, VP of Streams, Photos, and Sharing
Categories: Technology

Rising to the climate challenge

GoogleBlog - 10 hours 59 sec ago
In less than five months, policymakers from around the world will gather in Paris to finalize a new global agreement on combating climate change. Already, many governments are putting forth ambitious emissions reduction goals. And companies are taking action, too, by reducing their own footprints and investing in clean energy.

Reaching a strong deal in Paris is an absolute and urgent necessity. The data is clear and the science is beyond dispute: a warming planet poses enormous threats to society.

Public health experts recently warned that climate change threatens to “undermine the last half century of gains in development and global health,” through forces like extreme weather, drought, malnutrition, and disease. The U.S. government has asserted that climate change poses “immediate risks to U.S. national security,” as increased natural disasters and humanitarian crises fuel instability and violence. And many studies have revealed that critical infrastructure, like electricity and water, is vulnerable to rising sea levels and intensifying storms.
Climate change is one of the most significant global challenges of our time. Rising to that challenge involves a complex mix of policy, technology, and international cooperation. This won’t be easy, but Google is committed to doing its part.

Google has been carbon neutral since 2007. Our data centers, the physical infrastructure behind web services used by billions of people, now get 3.5 times the computing power out of the same amount of electricity, as compared to five years ago. We are also the biggest corporate purchaser of renewable power on the planet. Just today at the White House, we pledged to triple those purchases over the next decade. In addition, we're a major climate-minded investor, so far committing more than $2 billion to clean energy projects, from America’s largest wind farm to Africa’s largest solar power plant.
We're serious about environmental sustainability not because it’s trendy, but because it’s core to our values and also makes good business sense. After all, the cheapest energy is the energy you don’t use in the first place. And in many places clean power is cost-competitive with conventional power.

We’re making progress, but averting catastrophic climate change will require significant investment and bold innovations. Google and our private-sector peers are ready to lead. But something fundamental is required: clear policy. The global business community needs certainty to bring climate solutions to scale. We need the world’s political leaders to confirm that investments in clean energy are sound, and that the laws and policies meant to enable such investment will be designed for the long term and rooted in what science tells us needs to be done.

It’s encouraging to see the world’s major economies set ambitious climate targets, but it’s time to get a strong international climate agreement on the books. This December in Paris, it’s imperative that policymakers reach a deal that moves us toward a zero-carbon economy. That’s the kind of future that we’re committed to helping build, and that future generations deserve.

Posted by Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman
Categories: Technology

Remove link on repinned Pinterest photo?

AskDaveTaylor - 11 hours 32 min ago

Asking about whether you can repin something on Pinterest while removing information about the origin of the pin ends up being both a technical and ethical question, actually. It’s definitely something doable — worst case, you take a screen shot and repost it! — but whether it’s right or a possible copyright violation is another story entirely. From a user’s perspective, it’s also nice to know where to go for more information, but then again, I know exactly what you mean that there’s just some content on Pinterest where the photos are beautiful but lead to bad sites.

So should you do what I’m about to demonstrate? That’s up to you. I would say that if it’s leading to something benign or useful, definitely keep the origin URL associated with your repin (which is the default, so it’s easy). If you click through and it isn’t somewhere you want to point people, but you really do want to repin the image itself, then at least you’ll now know how to accomplish that task. When to do it’s up to you…

To start, here’s an example of an image that caught my eye last time I was perusing Pinterest:

What I don’t like about it is the “83 Unreal Places You Thought Only Existed In Your Imagination”. Too click-bait-y for me.

Move the cursor over the photo and even more info pops up:

Don’t know what “fascinating-places.bl…” is, but the photo itself is beautiful. I seriously want to be there. Right. Now.

To repin without the link, I’ll just click “Pin it” on the top left…

Clicking on the pencil icon adjacent to “Maya Bay, Thailand” lets me fine-tune the caption, but the link’s still intact, along with the title of the linked page (“83 Unreal Places…”), those can’t be tweaked from this point.

Still, let’s proceed. I’ll pick “Places I’d Rather Be…” as my target board for this repin, and click “Pin it”.

Done. But the link’s still intact. Hmm…

A click on “Saved to” if you can get to it before the window vanishes, or just wait for it to show up on the home page after a refresh, and you’ll see it looking basically the same, except this time when you move your cursor over it, the pencil icon shows up on the top right:

Look back at the original image: when it’s not your Pin, the top right is the “like” heart icon. But since you now own this repin, it’s a pencil instead. Good. Click on it!

Here’s where you can change what Board it’s on, update the description, tag a specific place if you’re so inclined, and… remove the URL link to the Website.

Go ahead and click in the “Website” field, then delete its content so it’s blank. Like this:

Now click “Save” and your Pin shows up just a bit differently:

That’s it. Photo repinned but underlying URL Website link removed.

Again, be judicious about this because it’s not always appropriate to just remove the source information. But now you know how to do so, so as with all great superpowers, use it thoughtfully.

Oh, and follow me on Pinterest too, if you’d like: Dave Taylor on Pinterest.

The post Remove link on repinned Pinterest photo? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Through the Google lens: Search trends July 17-24

GoogleBlog - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 19:52
Anyone up for a look back at the last week on Google Search? We are! Read on to find out what the world was looking for this week.

Bad Blood
Phew, where to start with this one. Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj had a spat over VMA nominations (Taylor was nominated for Video of the Year; Nicki was not), worked through it and made up -- all on Twitter. It was a good lesson in the art of the subtweet, as well as the “sincere apology after responding to a subtweet that wasn’t directly about you” tweet. Searches about the incident topped 500,000.

But Minaj v. Swift wasn’t the only music-related drama to make the list of Trending Searches. Meek Mill, hip hop artist and Nicki Minaj’s significant other, started a Twitter rant of his own, alleging that rapper Drake doesn’t write his own material and inspiring more than a million searches. The two artists haven’t settled up yet, so stay tuned for more on that front.

Last but not least, country stars Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert are calling it quits after four years of marriage and guess what — they both had stuff to say about it on Twitter. More than 1 million searchers took to Google to find out more.

But wait, there’s more
It was the week of the sequel. (The weequel?) James Bond is back -- the trailer for the upcoming “Spectre” was released this week, which got more than 100,000 people searching for the movie. And nearly as surprising as the idea of a shark-filled tornado itself, the Sharknado is back. “Sharknado 3” -- featuring 90s all-stars Tara Reid and Ian Ziering -- aired on Wednesday night and pulled in a cool 500,000 searches.

Speaking of all-stars (and also of the 90s) remember the days when an NBA superstar could star in a wide-release film with his Looney Tunes pals? Well, it’s happening again. This time, it’s not Michael Jordan, but Lebron James who inked a deal with Warner Bros. The company announced the partnership on Wednesday, leading to 200,000 searches. Reports suggest that while Michael Jordan will be replaced, Bugs Bunny will play himself, though there has been speculation about a case of cartoon patellar tendonitis he’s been coping with quietly for years.

Posted by Megan Slack, who searched this week for [public pools in San Francisco].
Categories: Technology

Five ways we’re celebrating the Special Olympics and #ADA25

GoogleBlog - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 15:34
"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt." -Special Olympics Athlete Oath

Standing in Soldier Field in Chicago, 47 years ago, Eunice Shriver kicked off the first Special Olympics in history--1,000 people with intellectual disabilities from the U.S. and Canada competed in track & field, swimming and diving. Even though it was a small inaugural event, its historical impact--giving a platform to the civil rights struggles of people with disabilities that were so often overlooked-- was massive. The Games were meant to give children with cognitive disabilities, in Eunice’s words, “the chance to play, the chance to compete and the chance to grow.”

Ambitious, inclusive thinking like Eunice’s is contagious, and has inspired us to support this year’s Special Olympics World Games as part of the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities. Launched in May, this effort is focused on supporting the development of assistive technologies for people with disabilities around the world with $20 million in Google.org grants. This weekend, to mark the Games as well as the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, landmark legislation that advanced the civil rights of people with disabilities when it was signed into law in 1990, we’re honoring the community in the following ways:



Google Doodle. We’ve created a homepage Doodle that shows a track inspired by the Special Olympics World Games’ "circle of inclusion,” featuring athletes of all backgrounds. In the spirit of getting moving, since we've heard from users that they love seeing doodles on the go, we're now starting to make them easier to see and share on our mobile search results in addition to desktop and the Google app.


Special Olympics World Games. Over the next nine days, the Special Olympics World Games will draw more than half a million spectators to cheer on 7,000 athletes from 177 countries in events from judo to powerlifting to kayaking and more. We’re powering the World Games’ social media nerve center, contributing as a financial supporter and are packing more than 300 Googlers into the stands.


Cheer an athlete. If you’re in Los Angeles, come visit us from July 25 until August 2 at the World Games Festival Space at USC’s Alumni Park to support the athletes. For those who can’t make it in person, you can visit g.co/WorldGames2015 to send a cheer to the athletes. Every day during the competition, we’ll decorate the dorm walls of the athletes with your cheers to encourage them to “be brave in the attempt.”

Portraits, like these at the National Portrait Gallery featuring leaders Judy Heumann and Ed Roberts, who have campaigned tirelessly for the rights of people with disabilities and Tatyana McFadden, who inspires athletes today, will decorate Washington, D.C. this weekend. See the photo galleryPainting the town. In Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, we’re marking the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. From men and women like Judy Heumann and Ed Roberts, who campaigned tirelessly for the rights of people with disabilities, to President George H.W. Bush, who signed the ADA into law in 1990, we’re telling the stories of 10 great leaders who have fought -- and continue to fight -- for equal rights of people living with disabilities. We’ve installed massive portraits on the stairs of historic landmarks around the nation’s capital and in L.A.’s Grand Park.


Audio description available hereTelling stories. We’re featuring the little-known history of a number of unsung heroes of the ADA movement at g.co/ADA. While people with disabilities benefit from their hard-won battles with every curb cut street corner and closed-caption film, their names are not widely known. We’d like to change that.

Posted by Jacquelline Fuller, Director Google.org
Categories: Technology

How do I uninstall a program from Windows 8?

AskDaveTaylor - Fri, 07/24/2015 - 11:01

Glad you found that having a start menu return on Windows 8 to be both useful and a barrier to full adoption of the Windows 8 experience. The thing about the jump from Win7 to Win8 is that it genuinely is a big jump in the user experience, but if you can just stick with it long enough to get the hang of the charms bar and start screen, it’s really just as easy to use. In fact, with the considerably improved search system, I think it’s easier to do things in Win8 than it ever was in previous versions of Microsoft Windows.

I realize I might be in the minority with this opinion, however.

As always with Windows 8 / 8.1, I’ll accomplish the task by searching for what I want to accomplish:

The fourth option looks like what I seek (though #3 is probably a link to the same thing, just more wordy).

Click on Uninstall a program

Here’s a list of all the programs installed on the Windows 8.1 system, including a variety of Apple programs. It’s not immediately obvious how to go from here to uninstalling, however, but let’s scroll down and find Classic Shell:

Not sure why the user interface works this way, but when you check a program you want to remove, the line above the listing changes from “Organize” to include “Uninstall” as a text link. See it?

Click on Uninstall after choosing the program you want to remove.

I’d recommend against checking the “don’t show me this dialog in the future” box, personally, because it’s better than accidentally removing something you wanted to actually keep, but that’s up to you.

Ready to proceed? Click Yes.

All stop. The program’s running. Which is no surprise…

Fortunately Windows 8.1 is smart enough to kill a running program before it tries to uninstall it (the default button chosen just below the window listing the program you’re uninstalling).

Good enough. Click “OK” and Windows will jump in, asking if you want to let the uninstall program touch your OS:

You do, of course, so click on “Yes” to proceed.

Shortly thereafter it’s done and you’re looking at the list of programs on your system but the uninstalled program has vanished.

Done. Easily. And that’s how you uninstall an unwanted program or app from Microsoft Windows 8 / 8.1.

 

The post How do I uninstall a program from Windows 8? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Neon prescription... or rather, New transcription for Google Voice

GoogleBlog - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 16:00
You may have been there before...open your voicemail transcriptions in Google Voice to find that at times they aren’t completely intelligible. Or, they are humorously intelligible. Either way, they might not have been the message the caller meant to leave you.

So, we asked users if they would kindly share some of their voicemails for research and system improvements. Thanks to those who participated, we are happy to announce an improved voicemail system in Google Voice and Project Fi that delivers more accurate transcriptions. Using a (deep breath) long short-term memory deep recurrent neural network (whew!), we cut our transcription errors by 49%.

To start receiving improved voicemail transcriptions, you don't need to do a thing -- just continue to use Google Voice as you have been. For those not using Google Voice but want to give it a try, sign up for a Google Voice (or Google Voice Lite) account here, it’s quick and easy to get started.

Many thanks to the Google Voice users who shared their voicemails, they really helped us make the product better. While this is a big improvement, it is just the beginning and with your input, we will continue improving voicemail transcriptions over time. We hope you enjoy it and look forward to hearing what you link—er, think!

Posted by Zander Danko, Software Engineer
Categories: Technology

Reduce Google Plus What’s Hot entries showing up?

AskDaveTaylor - Thu, 07/23/2015 - 11:46

Unlike the mystery algorithm at that other social media site whose name might begin with “F”, Google Plus gives you quite a bit of control over what shows up and how it all lays out, including exactly what you’re talking about, the “What’s Hot” entries.

Of course, you might not want to turn it off completely, because What’s Hot does give you an element of content discovery that’s otherwise going to be missing. In other words, you see what your friends post, but how do you ever expand beyond that circle (or set of circles) to stumble into new, unexpected content?

Let me show you how to gain control over the What’s Hot content, then you can make your own decision about how much you want to have show up. Works?

First off, here’s a typical “What’s Hot” entry from my own Google Plus page:

You can tell it’s “What’s Hot” because it says so — What’s Hot and Recommended — because of the flame icon on the top right and because it’s likely from a page or person you haven’t circled on Google Plus.

To change how frequently this content shows up, find the little house icon on the top left of the page:

Click on the House button and a menu pops up:

Choose “What’s hot”, as I am doing so in the example, and you’ll be taken to a page that’s all What’s Hot content:

See the gear icon just to the right of “What’s hot and recommended”, on the red banner?

Click it.

There’s all the control you need. More / Standard / Fewer, all works, and you can uncheck the box “Show posts in Home stream” and remove ’em entirely.

And while you’re at it, here I am on Google Plus: Dave Taylor on Google Plus. I invite you to circle me!

The post Reduce Google Plus What’s Hot entries showing up? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

How do I force kill / restart an Android app?

AskDaveTaylor - Wed, 07/22/2015 - 09:55

It’s definitely strange that your apps are freezing up on you, but I’m wondering if you’re switching wi-fi networks, sleeping the system or otherwise disrupting things midway through the app trying to write to its Web-based server or similar? I suspect that because the only time I see things freeze up is immediately after I wake my own HTC Nexus 9 Android tablet. Whatever apps are running then have a chance of freezing up on me or just working incorrectly, and while they’ll often fix themselves in a few seconds, other times, well, they’re dead in the proverbial water.

The good news is that you can indeed force quit an application in Android — on either a smartphone or tablet, of course — but it involves a bit of patience, of all things, because certain buttons don’t show up immediately.

Let me show you what I mean by stepping through the process I took when the Kindle app on my Nexus 9 froze up immediately after a wake-from-sleep.

First, here I was in the app, reading my ebook, The Einstein Prophecy:

When I went to flip the page to go to the next page, however, nada. It simply didn’t work at all.

I waited a few seconds — which seems like an eternity in modern Internet time, of course — and still, stuck on the same page. Not so good.

To fix it, I swiped up from the bottom to get the control bars top and bottom:

The top shows me battery status, etc. Useful. But the bottom’s what I seek, with its three buttons. Left to right, the triangle is “back”, the circle is “go home” and the square. Ah, the square. A tap on it and…

But here’s where that patience thing comes in, because when you first get to this screen that shows an overview of all the apps you have running (which also lets you quickly switch between them), the button you seek isn’t displayed.

After a few seconds, however, the “X” on each window shows up in black and is tappable:

And now you can force quit an Android app: tap on the “X”.

I’ll do so on the Kindle app and it vanishes…

Cool. Now a tap on the circle button, still shown along the bottom, and you can find the app again — in this case the Kindle app — as needed:

A single tap to re-launch the App and you should be back in business.

Once you get the hang of it, total elapsed time will be about 5-10 seconds. Not too much of a hassle.

The post How do I force kill / restart an Android app? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

How much RAM does my Windows 8 PC have installed?

AskDaveTaylor - Tue, 07/21/2015 - 09:26

You definitely shouldn’t need to tear your computer apart to figure out how much RAM you have installed, and, of course, even if you do tear down your PC or laptop, you still won’t be able to tell how much free space there is on your hard disk! Still, it’s always a bit of a puzzle to figure out your exact system configuration on a Windows PC and the solution seems to change with each OS upgrade too, so even if you did know how to do so in Win7, Win8 is a new beast.

As I have demonstrated so many times before, however, the key is really to use the terrific search system in Windows 8. In fact, just as Spotlight completely changes how you work with Mac OS X, the search system in Windows 8 should really change how you accomplish any task, launch any program or retrieve any document. It’s that powerful!

To pop it up, either press Windows-C (for the Charms Bar) or Windows-S to go directly into search, or swipe in from the right if you have a touch screen, or move your cursor to the top right and give it a few seconds to show up. In all cases, you’ll get the Charms Bar (well, unless you Windows-S to go straight to search):

Click on “Search” and type in PC INFO:

As shown, the first match is what you want. Click on it.

You’ll go straight into the summary PC info screen, with just the info you seek:

 

You can see on my system I have the (rather odd) 3.02GB of RAM installed. Your number will doubtless be a bit more normal, typically a power of 2, and most often 4GB, 8GB or 16GB.

While you’re at it, look on the lower left, just above “PC info” and you’ll see “Disk space“. Click or tap on it.

Ah, okay, so I have 34.9GB of disk space allocated for Windows 8 on this particular system, of which 12.4GB is available, about 35% of the total disk space. Windows breaks it down further, dividing the space used into Pictures, Videos, Music, Documents and Downloads, which can be very helpful, though notice that I’ve used up 22GB of disk space and it seems like none of it is actually listed since these all add up to barely 400MB. I must have a lot of mystery files (actually a lot of the disk space is consumed by Windows programs and the system itself).

Whatever yours looks like, now you know how to check if Windows 8 is activated, how much RAM you have available, and what your current disk space situation looks like. All with a quick “pc info” search. Nice.

The post How much RAM does my Windows 8 PC have installed? appeared first on Ask Dave Taylor.

Categories: Technology

Wed, 12/31/1969 - 19:00

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