2011年11月29日 星期二

Google kills off seven services including 'Wave'

Google kills off seven services including 'Wave'

GOOGLE has announced it will kill its much hyped Google Wave real time messaging platform on April 30 next year, and six other projects.

Google Wave combined instant messaging and email and was designed to allow multiple users to collaborate on projects in real time.

Despite its technical sophistication, Google Wave failed to become popular, and there are many blogs speculating as to why: its complexity is cited as one of the main reasons.

In an email sent to Wave users, Google said as of January 31, all "waves" would be read-only.

“As of January 31, 2012, all waves will be read-only, and the Wave service will be turned off on April 30, 2012,” Google said in the email.

“You will be able to continue exporting individual waves using the existing PDF export feature until the Google Wave service is turned off. We encourage you to export any important data before April 30, 2012.”

Google in its blog says it is closing down seven services overall.

“We’re in the process of shutting a number of products which haven’t had the impact we’d hoped for, integrating others as features into our broader product efforts, and ending several which have shown us a different path forward.”

The other services to shut down are:

•Google Bookmarks Lists: an experimental feature for sharing bookmarks and collaborating with friends. It will end on December 19.

•Google Friend Connect: a service that allows webmasters to add social features to their sites by embedding snippets of code. The service will end for non-blogger sites on March 1 next year;

•Google Gears: it allowed the creating of offline web applications. Gears-based Gmail and Calendar offline will stop working across all browsers on December 1.

•Google Search Timeline: a graph of historical results for a query.

•Knol: it allowed experts to collaborate on in-depth articles. Instead, Google said it had been working with Solvitor and Crowd Favorite to create Annotum, an open-source scholarly authoring and publishing platform based on WordPress.

•Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal (RE

“Overall, our aim is to build a simpler, more intuitive, truly beautiful Google user experience.,” Google said in the blog.

2011年11月27日 星期日

利用Google 命名

Cultural Studies

What’s in a Name? Ask Google

KALIA is a stripper name, but Kaleya is not, her parents-to-be concluded.

Allison Seiffer

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No offense to the Kalias of the world, but Lecia and Thor Kaslofsky decided this two years ago, after conducting a Google search of names they were considering for their first child.

A search for Kalia pulled up several images of scantily clad women. “I didn’t want there to be a Google identity for her to wrestle with,” said Ms. Kaslofsky, a corporate investigator in San Francisco. So the couple, who wanted an uncommon name, came up with a creative spelling that sounds the same as kah-LEE-ah: Kaleya.

Another Google search didn’t raise any red flags, and thus a name was born. “The Kaleyas online were an illustrator of goth posters and a Spanish metal band,” she said.

In our still-budding digital world, where public and private spheres cross-pollinate in unpredictable ways, perhaps it’s not surprising that soon-to-be parents now routinely turn to Google to vet baby names. A quick search can help ensure that a child is not saddled with the name of a serial killer, pornography star or sex offender.

But what’s new is the level of complexity that Google and other search engines have brought to the name game. Some parents want names that are unique so their child will rise to the top of future search results. Others want names that are uncommon enough to bestow uniqueness, but not so exotic that they would be considered weird on the playground. A rare few want their child’s name to get lost in a virtual crowd.

While there are no reliable statistics on the matter, a small survey on LilSugar, a parenting and pop culture site, found that 64 percent of respondents had Googled their baby’s name before settling on it.

Uniqueness seems to be a primary motive and has spurred an unspoken competition among parents to find the most original names, said Laura Wattenberg, author of “The Baby Name Wizard,” a guide for selecting a name. “Parents thinking of a baby name will type it in and say: ‘Oh, no, it’s taken. There are already three others with that name.’ ”

But too little research can backfire, too. Deborah Goldstein, 43, and her partner, Gabriella Di Maggio, thought they had chosen unique names for their boys: Levi and Asher. To be sure, they checked the Social Security Administration’s list of most popular baby names. Neither was in the top 100.

“I did not want them to have names where there were 15 in their class like I was,” Ms. Goldstein said. “There were a lot of Debbies back then”

But shortly after the couple moved to South Orange, N.J., in 2006, they had a rude awakening. While waiting at an ice cream parlor, they heard a woman shout “Asher!” at a different boy.

“It was two other Jewish lesbian moms with a child of the same name,” Ms. Goldstein said. Google had let her down. “It didn’t tell us it’s a unique name unless you move to a neighborhood outside New York City where other trendy Jews are moving, too.”

More common, it seems, are parents who strive for a middle ground. “You want your kid to be unique enough so there aren’t 80 of them, but not so unique that they seem weird,” said Doug Moe, a comedian in Brooklyn whose show, “Doug Moe Is a Bad Dad,” is playing at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. His 5-year-old daughter, Phoebe, he points out, shares a first and last name with at least two other Phoebe Moes online.

It’s the rare parent, it seems, who wants a common name for a child. New parents, after all, envision future presidents, Super Bowl winners and cancer curers, not Vatican streakers or college beer-bong guzzlers.

But maybe common names are more prudent. A recent study by the online security firm AVG found that 92 percent of children under 2 in the United States have some kind of online presence, whether a tagged photo, sonogram image or Facebook page. Life, it seems, begins not at birth but with online conception. And a child’s name is the link to that permanent record.

“When you name your baby, it’s a time of dreaming,” Ms. Wattenberg said. “No one stops and thinks, ‘What if one day my child does something embarrassing and wants to hide from it?’ ”

Maybe the wisest approach in our searchable new world is to let computers do the naming.

Lindsey Pollak, a writer on the Upper West Side of Manhattan who specializes in career advice, fancied the name Chloe when she was pregnant with her daughter. Her husband, Evan Gotlib, wanted Zoe.

To settle the feud, they downloaded a 99-cent iPhone app called Kick to Pick. After typing in the two names, they held the phone to Ms. Pollak’s stomach, as the phone alternated between the two. When the fetus kicked, the phone froze on one name, like a coin toss. It came up Chloe for each of the four tries.

The next thing Ms. Pollak did, of course, was to Google it. “One of the Web sites said Chloe means little green shoots, and we liked that,” Ms. Pollak said. Chloe it was. They even registered their unborn child’s first and last name as a domain name and signed her up on Tumblr, Twitter and G-mail.

The Kaslofskys wish they had had that foresight. When they Googled Kaleya in 2009, there were only a few relevant results. But since then, the parents of another child named Kaleya have started posting videos of that little girl’s adventures on YouTube, with titles like “Kaleya Makes a Snow Angel” and “Kaleya Runs From a Wave.”

Ms. Kaslofsky is miffed. “Things have changed in the last three years,” she said.

Luckily, she’ll get a second chance: Ms. Kaslofsky is pregnant with her second child, a boy. “We are probably going to name him Lucian, which is related to a family name of Thor’s, and call him Luke.” she said.

Why? “We like the name.”

2011年11月22日 星期二

"The report of my death was an exaggeration,"Google+ death reports


Google denies Google+ death reports

Google+ Circles The Circles feature in Google+ allows members to categorise friends into groups

Google+ was supposed to be a "Facebook killer". Some now say it's already dead - but the search giant says it is just getting started.

The 19th Century writer Mark Twain once famously told a newspaper journalist: "The report of my death was an exaggeration," following unfounded media speculation that the author had suffered a fatal illness.

Similarly, search giant Google, which unveiled its much-anticipated online social network Google+ at a private launch in June, is battling recent reports from pundits who claim the network is "dead".

Early reports wagered that the service would one day rival social network Facebook in popularity. But a mere four months later, grim headlines have begun popping up on the homepages of US media outlets.

Forbes published "A Eulogy for Google Plus", while Slate declared simply: "Google+ is dead".

The online tool gained 10 million users within the first 16 days after its private launch, and 40 million within the first 100 days, making it the fastest-growing social network in the history of the web.

Facebook and Twitter both took more than two years to hit the 10 million user milestone.

But web analytics firm Chitika reported in October that excitement appeared to have waned for Google+ one month after its public launch, with traffic down 60% after spiking to 1,200% of pre-launch levels.

Start Quote

We have not even begun, let alone these reports of premature demise”

Bradley Horowitz Google+

Google has not released figures on the number of users signing up since September.

Meanwhile Facebook, which now boasts more than 800 million users, has unveiled features similar to those that once set Google+ apart - such as the ability to lump friends into groups in order to separate who sees which content.

Reporting for Forbes, Paul Tassi was clear about the challenge Google faces trying to compete with Facebook.

"No-one is going to scrap a social network they've spent eight years building up to start over from scratch for one that offers only a few minor improvements," he wrote.

'Social layer'

Bradley Horowitz, vice-president of product at Google+, says the service aims to be more than simply a social networking website.

"Google+ is a foundational element for identity, relationship, interest across all we're doing at Google," Mr Horowitz tells BBC News, adding that the social networking function is just one of many social tools.

Google executive Bradley Horowitz explains the future of Google+

Mr Horowitz says Google is attempting to build a social layer across all its products - including Gmail, YouTube and Blogger - in an effort to help tie the services together.

For instance, Google+ users can recommend links, videos and other pieces of content to their friends by clicking "+1" on a small widget, Google's version of the Facebook "Like" button.

This +1 is then used to help inform Google about how to list results from search criteria for each user.

"Everything we do is going to be informed by this sense of person and interest and relationship, so that all users' data can be used in their interest at their discretion," Mr Horowitz says.

"So the concept of Google+ dying, it's a misunderstanding of what we're doing," he says. "We have not even begun, let alone these reports of premature demise."

John Abdell, New York Bureau chief of Wired.com, agrees with Mr Horowitz, but adds that Google+ could conceivably grow alongside Facebook, rather than in competition with Mark Zuckerberg's empire.

Mr Abdell told BBC News that online communities were maturing and had "entered an era where there will not be a single dominant social network that kills the previous one, which has been the history of social networks so far".

And he says that if any company can build itself up as a social superpower alongside Facebook, it is Google.

"We're not talking about somebody who has borrowed $10,000 (£6,400) from his mommy," Mr Abdell says. "This is Google."

"Since Google has such deep pockets, the notion that you can declare it dead because you are counting numbers and trend lines on a spreadsheet is kind of loopy."

Major player

Google has partly built its reputation on the breadth of its services, from email to photo sharing to music streaming. Users of these products total in the hundreds of millions, comparable figures to Facebook's reach.

But Google's bedrock still remains its search engine, which has been challenged by the increasing trend of online users finding content through their friends rather than through search.

Whether Google+ grows or not, the public should expect to see Google putting everything it has into the service's promotion and development during the coming months.

After all, many people first learned about Google+'s reported demise through friends - on Facebook.

2011年11月21日 星期一


David Hsu Gmail 等的軟體亦不可靠 他人都在家鄉 卻變成去上班

換句話說 Google公司的各種軟件 錯誤仍相當多 我也有些經驗 如


2011年11月20日 星期日



Quietly, Google Puts History Online

PARIS — When the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, home to the Dead Sea Scrolls, reopened last year after an extensive renovation, it attracted a million visitors in the first 12 months. When the museum opened an enhanced Web site with newly digitized versions of the scrolls in September, it drew a million virtual visitors in three and a half days.

The scrolls, scanned with ultrahigh-resolution imaging technology, have been viewed on the Web from 210 countries — including some, like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria, that provide few real-world visitors to the Israel Museum.

“This is taking the material to an amazing range of audiences,” said James S. Snyder, the museum’s director. “There’s no way we would have had the technical capability to do this on our own.”

The digitization of the scrolls was done by Google under a new initiative aimed at demonstrating that the Internet giant’s understanding of culture extends beyond the corporate kind. The Google Cultural Institute plans to make artifacts like the scrolls — from museums, archives, universities and other collections around the world — accessible to any Internet user.

“We’re building services and tools that help people get culture online, help people preserve it online, promote it online and eventually even create it online,” said Steve Crossan, director of the institute, which is based in Paris.

The plans for the Cultural Institute grew out of the Dead Sea Scrolls initiative and another pilot project for Google in Israel, in which it helped bring the photos and documents of the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial onto the Web.

Previous Google cultural programs have also been incorporated into the center, including the Google Art Project, a digital repository of pictures from museums like the National Gallery in London, the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Now the institute is building up its activities in Paris, where it will be one of the anchors of a sprawling new Google headquarters for Southern and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, which is set to open next year.

So far, the institute is mostly just a team of engineers working on projects like the ones in Israel. Among the first projects are partnerships with the Palace of Versailles, to help it develop galleries devoted to the history of the chateau, and with the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa. Other plans will be announced soon, Mr. Crossan said.

In addition to working with individual museums and archives, Mr. Crossan said, the engineers intend to develop a standard set of tools that any institution could use to digitize its collection. That way, even small, private archives or collections could be placed online in formats that would make them easily accessible to broad audiences.

When the new building opens, the institute will get a physical presence, including a gallerylike area featuring exhibits on how to present culture in an increasingly digital world.

Google plans to invite cultural figures for talks before live audiences, which will be filmed and posted on YouTube, the company’s video sharing site.

“We’ll discuss all kinds of things — subjects that are of relevance to Google, but really just subjects that are of relevance to the cultural world and the world of technology more generally,” Mr. Crossan said, in his first interview since plans for the institute were disclosed. “It’s one of the ways we actually wanted to connect with the cultural world.”

“We’re engineers; we’re technologists,” added Mr. Crossan, who does, however, have a history degree from Oxford. “We hope we bring competence in storing large amounts of data and serving it and creating a good experience for users, but we’re not professional curators or historians or artists ourselves, so we need to connect with that world.”

Indeed, Google has sometimes struggled to persuade cultural leaders to accept its plans. The company has been sued by authors and publishers on both sides of the Atlantic over its book-digitization project. In 2009, President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged hundreds of millions of euros toward a separate digitization program, saying he would not permit France to be “stripped of our heritage to the benefit of a big company, no matter how friendly, big or American it is.”

When Google recently signed an agreement with the biggest French publisher, Hachette Livre, to scan and sell digital books, Culture Minister Frédéric Mitterrand issued a news release reiterating the importance of authors’ rights, which both Hachette and Google insist will be protected under their accord.

The activities of the Cultural Institute differ from some other Google initiatives in that there are few outward signs of the company’s involvement. While Google provided the technology to digitize the Dead Sea Scrolls and is host to the pages on its servers, for example, the only reference to the company is a small note that the site is “powered by Google.”

Mr. Crossan said Google did not want to “come across as the bad guy.”

“Sometimes we have, in the past, not quite taken the time we needed in terms of communicating what we wanted to do,” he acknowledged. “I think those lessons have been very well learned in the DNA of the company.”

Mr. Crossan said Google was providing its services to the cultural institutions at no cost, with no immediate expectation of a financial return. Why would Google, a publicly traded, profit-motivated company, take such a step? Philanthropy and public relations are not the only goals, Mr. Crossan acknowledged.

“There’s certainly an investment logic to this,” he said. “Having good content on the Web, in open standards, is good for the Web, is good for the users. If you invest in what’s good for the Web and the users, that will bear fruit.”

Is it appropriate for museums and other nonprofit cultural institutions to work so closely with a money-making machine like Google?

Corporate sponsorship of the arts is nothing new, of course. Elizabeth Merritt, founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums at the American Association of Museums, called Google’s support “just an evolution in the scale and scope of the traditional relationship between museums and sponsors.”

“Museums should make savvy use of these kinds of relationships,” she added.

Michael Lieber, chief information officer at Yad Vashem, said one of the center’s goals — to disseminate information about the Holocaust as widely as possible — aligned neatly with Google’s self-proclaimed mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Like the Israel Museum, Yad Vashem saw an immediate increase in traffic when its enhanced site opened early this year. The number of unique visitors went from 60,000 a year to 60,000 a month, Mr. Lieber said.

“People need to remember that Yad Vashem’s mission statement is not about technology,” he said. “Maybe in a world where there was money for everything, you wouldn’t need money from people like Google. But we don’t live in that kind of world.”

2011年11月16日 星期三

Google’s Lab X/ 屬意付費電視業務/Agrees to Allow Owners of Wi-Fi Routers to Opt Out of Database


聯網巨擎谷歌公司(Google Inc.)正考慮推出面向消費者的付費有線電視服務﹐此舉有可能在傳統電視領域掀起一輪新的競爭。

Associated Press
谷 歌公司一直在考慮如何拓展其早先宣佈的一項在密蘇里州堪薩斯城和堪薩斯州堪薩斯城開展高速互聯網服務的計劃。據瞭解該計劃的知情人士透露﹐該公司打算在其 高速互聯網服務中增加視頻和電話服務﹐提供來自有線電視公司和其他電視運營商的節目內容。為此﹐谷歌公司已經同包括迪士尼公司(Walt Disney Co.)、時代華納公司(Time Warner Inc.)和探索傳播公司(Discovery Communications Inc.)在內的主要頻道運營商進行過談判﹐希望將來自這些公司的電視頻道搬上互聯網﹐成為其視頻服務的一部分﹐不過上述談判尚在探索性階段﹐還未達成最 終協議。

一些知情人士稱﹐谷歌公司今年9月份聘請的原有線電視公司高管傑里米•斯特恩(Jeremy Stern)是此前谷歌與媒體公司接觸過程中的主要談判者。


上 述公司的接觸凸顯一個事實﹐即電視領域的控制權之爭已經愈演愈烈了。近年來﹐電話公司開始闖入這個原本被有線電視和衛星電視運營商所佔據的市場。而今像亞 馬遜(Amazon.com Inc.)這樣的公司開始在節目內容上下功夫﹐而蘋果公司(Apple Inc.)等企業則在通過iPad等設備努力創造新的節目收看體驗﹐這些新設備很有可能成為一類新的電視機。

與此同時﹐康卡斯特(Comcast Corp.)等老牌有線電視運營商和衛星電視運營商則開始還擊﹐他們開發出自己的應用程序﹐並通過互聯網上的節目授權內容與他們的離線電視節目訂戶建立互動。

谷 歌進軍付費電視領域的努力存在很大變數。目前美國電視運營商每年從廣告客戶以及月付費訂戶那裡獲得的收入總額超過1,500億美元。谷歌公司作為全美最大 的互聯網廣告銷售商﹐也打算從電視廣告那裡爭得部分市場。而該公司的最新計劃又將進一步威脅到有線電視和衛星電視運營商的訂戶收入。

此外 ﹐谷歌公司推出的其他一些舉措使得用戶能夠以較低費用收看網上視頻﹐從而也有可能影響到利潤豐厚的電視訂閱服務模式。10月末﹐該公司陸續同一些知名製片 公司簽約﹐為旗下視頻網站YouTube推出大約100個靠廣告收入支持的免費網上“頻道”。谷歌此外還推出了一種名為Google TV的軟件﹐這種軟件可以安裝在電視或有線電視機頂盒內﹐幫助人們搜索並收看來自互聯網和電視頻道的內容。鑒於用戶對於第一版軟件的接受程度不高﹐谷歌在 10月末又推出了新版的Google TV軟件。

曾在谷歌公司任產品主管的凱瓦爾•德賽(Keval Desai)稱﹐谷歌多年以來一直在考慮進軍電視業務。德賽目前在InterWest Partners LLC做風險投資。


迄 今有關堪薩斯城這項計劃的許多細節──比如定價以及包括那些頻道──都還不明朗。該計劃是否會拓展到堪薩斯城之外的地區也是個未知數。目前在堪薩斯城之外 ﹐只有加州的帕洛奧多也在谷歌推出網上視頻電話服務的考慮範疇之內。谷歌公司已經為加州帕洛奧多的部分居民舖設了高速互聯網線路。


理 論上講﹐大多數娛樂傳媒公司應該都會拒絕授權別家企業使用自己的節目﹐而那些屬於分銷商──比如有線電視運營商──的頻道可能會是例外。不過﹐也有一些傳 媒公司的管理人士指出﹐頻道所有者一向喜歡將他們的頻道授權給各類分銷商﹐衛星電視運營商也好﹐電話公司也罷﹐只要他們付的錢不比現有分銷商少。


這 家總部位於加州山景城的公司的高管們最近幾個月一直在同傳媒企業高管談論他們的其他一些想法。據熟悉談話內容的知情人士透露﹐其中一個內容是﹐通過允許付 費訂戶獲得完整有線電視頻道內容的方式﹐擴大該公司YouTube網站頻道內容的可能性。這個想法一旦實現﹐YouTube將變成“虛擬”有線服務。不過 ﹐據另一位熟悉谷歌公司的知情人士稱﹐雖然相關公司可能就這個想法進行過初步討論﹐但目前這個想法尚未正式提上談判日程。

無論如何﹐一些 媒體公司的管理人士表示﹐他們相信早晚有一天﹐谷歌或是蘋果這樣的科技企業將開始通過互聯網提供類似有線電視和衛星電視節目內容的虛擬服務。那將遠遠超越 谷歌在堪薩斯城的設想﹐在堪薩斯城﹐谷歌不過是想用自己的網絡傳播視頻。新業務的推出將改變電視服務市場群雄割據的局面。目前﹐除衛星電視運營商外﹐大多 數電視節目供應商的服務只能覆蓋部分地區。

堪薩斯城寬頻項目如今進展順利。谷歌曾表示計劃在2012年初正式開始運作該項目。根據SNL Kagan的數據﹐目前堪薩斯城電視訂戶數量最多的前三家電視運營商是時代華納有線電視公司、以及衛星電視運營商Dish Network Corp.和DirecTV。


Sam Schechner / Amir Efrati

Google Agrees to Allow Owners of Wi-Fi Routers to Opt Out of Database
New York Times
By KEVIN J. O'BRIEN BERLIN — Google, under pressure from privacy regulators in the Netherlands, said Tuesday that it had agreed to give people around the world the option of keeping the names and locations of their home or business Wi-Fi routers out ...

Google’s Lab of Wildest Dreams

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — In a top-secret lab in an undisclosed Bay Area location where robots run free, the future is being imagined.

Ramin Rahimian for The New York Times

Google is said to be considering the manufacture of its driverless cars in the United States.


David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News

Sergey Brin, one of Google's founders, is said to be deeply involved in Google X.

Noah Berger for The New York Times

Sebastian Thrun, one of the world's top robotics and artificial intelligence experts, is a leader at Google X.

It’s a place where your refrigerator could be connected to the Internet, so it could order groceries when they ran low. Your dinner plate could post to a social network what you’re eating. Your robot could go to the office while you stay home in your pajamas. And you could, perhaps, take an elevator to outer space.

These are just a few of the dreams being chased at Google X, the clandestine lab where Google is tackling a list of 100 shoot-for-the-stars ideas. In interviews, a dozen people discussed the list; some work at the lab or elsewhere at Google, and some have been briefed on the project. But none would speak for attribution because Google is so secretive about the effort that many employees do not even know the lab exists.

Although most of the ideas on the list are in the conceptual stage, nowhere near reality, two people briefed on the project said one product would be released by the end of the year, although they would not say what it was.

“They’re pretty far out in front right now,” said Rodney Brooks, a professor emeritus at M.I.T.’s computer science and artificial intelligence lab and founder of Heartland Robotics. “But Google’s not an ordinary company, so almost nothing applies.”

At most Silicon Valley companies, innovation means developing online apps or ads, but Google sees itself as different. Even as Google has grown into a major corporation and tech start-ups are biting at its heels, the lab reflects its ambition to be a place where ground-breaking research and development are happening, in the tradition of Xerox PARC, which developed the modern personal computer in the 1970s.

A Google spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker, declined to comment on the lab, but said that investing in speculative projects was an important part of Google’s DNA. “While the possibilities are incredibly exciting, please do keep in mind that the sums involved are very small by comparison to the investments we make in our core businesses,” she said.

At Google, which uses artificial intelligence techniques and machine learning in its search algorithm, some of the outlandish projects may not be as much of a stretch as they first appear, even though they defy the bounds of the company’s main Web search business.

For example, space elevators, a longtime fantasy of Google’s founders and other Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, could collect information or haul things into space. (In theory, they involve rocketless space travel along a cable anchored to Earth.) “Google is collecting the world’s data, so now it could be collecting the solar system’s data,” Mr. Brooks said.

Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, is deeply involved in the lab, said several people with knowledge of it, and came up with the list of ideas along with Larry Page, Google’s other founder, who worked on Google X before becoming chief executive in April; Eric E. Schmidt, its chairman; and other top executives. “Where I spend my time is farther afield projects, which we hope will graduate to important key businesses in the future,” Mr. Brin said recently, though he did not mention Google X.

Google may turn one of the ideas — the driverless cars that it unleashed on California’s roads last year — into a new business. Unimpressed by the innovative spirit of Detroit automakers, Google now is considering manufacturing them in the United States, said a person briefed on the effort.

Google could sell navigation or information technology for the cars, and theoretically could show location-based ads to passengers as they zoom by local businesses while playing Angry Birds in the driver’s seat.

Robots figure prominently in many of the ideas. They have long captured the imagination of Google engineers, including Mr. Brin, who has already attended a conference through robot instead of in the flesh.

Fleets of robots could assist Google with collecting information, replacing the humans that photograph streets for Google Maps, say people with knowledge of Google X. Robots born in the lab could be destined for homes and offices, where they could assist with mundane tasks or allow people to work remotely, they say.

Other ideas involve what Google referred to as the “Web of things” at its software developers conference in May — a way of connecting objects to the Internet. Every time anyone uses the Web, it benefits Google, the company argued, so it could be good for Google if home accessories and wearable objects, not just computers, were connected.

Among the items that could be connected: a garden planter (so it could be watered from afar); a coffee pot (so it could be set to brew remotely); or a light bulb (so it could be turned off remotely). Google said in May that by the end of this year another team planned to introduce a Web-connected light bulb that could communicate wirelessly with Android devices.

One Google engineer familiar with Google X said it was run as mysteriously as the C.I.A. — with two offices, a nondescript one for logistics, on the company’s Mountain View campus, and one for robots, in a secret location.

While software engineers toil away elsewhere at Google, the lab is filled with roboticists and electrical engineers. They have been hired from Microsoft, Nokia Labs, Stanford, M.I.T., Carnegie Mellon and New York University.

A leader at Google X is Sebastian Thrun, one of the world’s top robotics and artificial intelligence experts, who teaches computer science at Stanford and invented the world’s first driverless car. Also at the lab is Andrew Ng, another Stanford professor, who specializes in applying neuroscience to artificial intelligence to teach robots and machines to operate like people.

Johnny Chung Lee, a specialist in human-computer interaction, came to Google X from Microsoft this year after helping develop Microsoft’s Kinect, the video game player that responds to human movement and voice. At Google X, where he is working on the Web of things, according to people familiar with his role, he has the mysterious title of rapid evaluator.

Because Google X is a breeding ground for big bets that could turn into colossal failures or Google’s next big business — and it could take years to figure out which — just the idea of these experiments terrifies some shareholders and analysts.

“These moon-shot projects are a very Google-y thing for them to do,” said Colin W. Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners. “People don’t love it but they tolerate it because their core search business is firing away.”

Mr. Page has tried to appease analysts by saying that crazy projects are a tiny proportion of Google’s work.

“There are a few small, speculative projects happening at any one time, but we are very careful stewards of shareholders’ money,” he told analysts in July. “We are not betting the farm on these.”

2011年11月11日 星期五

2009/9/25-2011/11/11 兩則新聞


Google CEO Eric Schmidt says acquisitions are 'back on'
San Jose Mercury News
Google, facing slowing growth amid a slump in advertising spending, is again considering acquisitions, CEO Eric Schmidt said. "Acquisitions are back on," ...

back off
  1. To retreat or draw away.

Google and Barnes & Noble get serious about Android patent lawsuits
ZDNet (blog)
By Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | November 9, 2011, 11:52am PST It's not just Microsoft though that Schmidt is giving notice to that Google won't be sitting back in patent lawsuits. “For example, we have been supporting HTC in its dispute with Apple ...

sit back
1. Relax, as in Now that the work's finished, we can just sit back.
2. Refrain from interfering or taking part, as in Mom and Dad just sat back and watched Meg try to decide whether or not she should tell on her friends. [Mid-1900s] Also see sit by.

2011年11月10日 星期四

Google’s Chief Works to Trim a Bloated Ship

Google’s Chief Works to Trim a Bloated Ship

Larry Page returned to the helm of Google to find it bloated, unwieldy and hard to move quickly. He’s working to change all that.

2011年11月4日 星期五

Online giant Google funds Internet institute in Berlin and why

Internet | 30.10.2011

Online giant Google funds Internet institute in Berlin

Internet giant Google is investing in a research institute that will look at the relationship between the web and society in general. However, some are questioning the motives that it has for doing so.

The Internet giant Google has learnt from recent history that it still has much to understand about the places and people for which it provides services.

In Germany, in particular, there have been numerous problems and it seems there is a lot that the Internet company has yet to discover.

Many Germans simply put their foot down when it came being themselves photographed or having their homes displayed on Google Streetview. German web users also rebeled when they were told it was not possible to use a pseudonym on its social networking site. And, there is the problem with data protection - something for which Google has often been criticized by German authorities.

Prof. Ingolf PerniceAcademics from different spheres will need to understand each other, says Pernice So, it appears apt that the Californian business has stated its own academic project, the Institute for Internet and Society, in Germany itself.

The new institute at the Humboldt University of Berlin cost some four-and-a-half million euros ($6.3 million). "This is a great idea," said Ingolf Pernice, one of the four founding directors of the institute and a law professor at Humboldt University.

"We want to understand how the Internet is changing our world and here we can investigate it in an interdisciplinary way."

The questions that arise are multiple, although they still have to be properly formulated: Copyright, political mobilization, the transformation of the public sphere.

Together, experts in law, the media and politics would look at these issues from their own individual perspectives. "First of all, we just have to learn to mutually understand each other," said Pernice.

As well as the Humboldt University, Berlin University of the Arts (UDK) and the city's Social Science Research Center (WZB) are involved and Hamburg's Hans Bredow Institute is also cooperating.

Stressing the need for independence

While the desirability of the project is perhaps understandable, what drives Google to donate several million dollars to it? Admittedly, with quarterly profits - most recently - of 2.73 billion dollars, it is relatively small change, but the connection has raised concerns.

Is the internet giant - described by some as a data-gathering monster - now stretching its tentacles into the realm of free and supposedly independent research? "We have kick-started the Institute for Internet and Society and provided the money for that," said Google spokesman Ralf Bremer, "and we look forward to the results."

Ralf BremerBremer says that, even if study results are critical of Google, they would be valued Bremer denied that there might be any pressure exerted when it came to results and research issues. "If results that are critical of Google arise, that is okay," said Bremer. "Dialogue is important."

And at least the institute brought the company a positive couple of days of headlines. Meanwhile, it is notable how often the independence of the institute is stressed.

Two entities have actually been established, one for research and the other dealing with sponsorship. It is hoped that more supporters can be brought on board. "We are taking part in the search," said Bremer.

No rare thing

It is not particularly rare for academia to take the money of private investors. The academic innovation body Stiftverband has registered more than 600 professors who are paid through private business.

The researchers are in fact encourage to try and find extra funding for their research. Those who are successful can enjoy a good standing in their universities - although they may sometimes be met with suspicion.

Indeed, there are examples of donor organizations being perceived to use such arrangements to their advantage. One such example was Deutsche Bank, which contributed three-million euros to a professorship in finance and was then accused of trying to wield influence to its advantage.

But director Pernice, has few worries about the ethics of the situation. "If the Google people tell me one day that they do not like my work, I will start working again with European law," he said and jokingly added that "at the moment, I think I am the one that is exploiting Google."

Author: Heiner Kiesel / rc
Editor: Andreas Illmer

2011年11月2日 星期三