Google News shuts down in Spain


Spain's insane new compulsory fee for quoting news stories has shut down Google News there -- and will prevent any new news search-engines from emerging to replace it.

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Youtube nukes 7 hours' worth of science symposium audio due to background music during lunch break

Yannick writes, "We live-streamed our second annual Canadian conference of Citizens' Climate Lobby, a day of speeches, with a very interesting panel discussion."

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Google Maps euthanizes Auckland cat

google-maps-cat

Sad news from New Zealand. The beautiful smiling cat that appeared briefly in a mangrove swamp on the Google map of Auckland has been euthanized.

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The dirty secret of Google's self-driving cars


They've 700,000 miles, but mostly the same few thousand miles, over and over again -- because the cars only work if every single light, piece of street furniture, and other detail is mapped and verified by armies of human and computer analysts, and when anything changes, the mapping needs to be re-created.

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How AIs are rewriting photographic history


If you send your holiday photos to Google's Autoawesome processor, it will snip out the best smiles and poses and combine them to make pictures of scenes that never actually happened.

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Kevin's List

Jason Weisberger imagines a near-future where Google gets a little too eager to please.

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What Google should do


This Neil Cicierega design-fiction from 2013 proposes a brilliant idea for a Google autocomplete easter-egg, where typing "Google autocomplete is not working correctly" would autocomplete to a long, wonderful list of Borges-ian non-sequiturs, each more wondrous than the last. (via JWZ)

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Google's drone delivery program, unveiled

For two years, Google has been running secret drone delivery tests with their own UAV prototypes. Over at The Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal has the first look at Google's Project Wing. From The Atlantic:

140828164838-google-project-wing-story-top

Taken with the company’s other robotics investments, Google’s corporate posture has become even more ambitious. Google doesn’t just want to organize all the world’s information. Google wants to organize all the world.

During this initial phase of development, Google landed on an unusual design called a tail sitter, a hybrid of a plane and a helicopter that takes off vertically, then rotates to a horizontal position for flying around. For delivery, it hovers and winches packages down to the ground. At the end of the tether, there’s a little bundle of electronics they call the “egg,” which detects that the package has hit the ground, detaches from the delivery, and is pulled back up into the body of the vehicle.

"Inside Google's Secret Drone-Delivery Program"

Google Images hacked


Google's Image Search has apparently been hacked. All queries return a line or two of normal images, followed by thousands of differently-sized versions of the image above, depicting a grisly car-crash ganked from a Ukrainian news site's coverage of the wreck.

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The fascination of Rubik's cube

Dan Nosowitz on the obsession with a mechanical toy invented 40 years ago--"simple in theory, it can be tremendously complex to conquer" -- and Google's obsession with it in particular.

Eric Schmidt, war crimes apologist and colossal hypocrite

Just a reminder that Google CEO Eric Schmidt is a colossal hypocrite and an apologist for war crimes:

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Google, like the rest of the world, finally backing away from Google+

The Google+ profile of Vic Gundotra, who is head of the Google+ division at Google.


The Google+ profile of Vic Gundotra, who is head of the Google+ division at Google.

Google+ chief Vic Gundotra abruptly announced his pending departure from Google this week. Why? No reason given, but TechCrunch and Ars Technica report that "the likely reason is a major shakeup for Google's social network," and that Google will soon end the forced integration of G+ for publishers. About time.

Google Street View now lets you 'go back in time' to view previous captures of a place


"If you see a clock icon in the upper left-hand portion of a Street View image," explain the Googles, "click on it and move the slider through time and select a thumbnail to see that same place in previous years or seasons."

This is kind of neat. From the Official Google Blog: "Starting today, you can travel to the past to see how a place has changed over the years by exploring Street View imagery in Google Maps for desktop. We've gathered historical imagery from past Street View collections dating back to 2007 to create this digital time capsule of the world."

Big Data Hubris: Google Flu versus reality

In The Parable of Google Flu: Traps in Big Data Analysis [PDF], published in Science, researchers try to understand why Google Flu (which uses search history to predict flu outbreaks) performed so well at first but has not done well since. One culprit: people don't know what the flu is, so their search for "flu" doesn't necessarily mean they have flu. More telling, though, is that Google can't let outsiders see their data or replicate their findings, meaning that they can't get the critical review that might help them spot problems before years of failure. (via Hacker News) Cory 2

British spies lied about getting super-censorship powers over Youtube

Turns out that the claims made by British spies about Youtube granting them the power to censor Youtube videos that they didn't like (but weren't illegal) were bullshit.

The "super-flagger" status they got from Google just means that their complaints get quicker scrutiny, but are (theoretically, anyway) judged by the same criteria as all other complaints about videos that violate Youtube's community standards.

But as Techdirt's Mike Masnick points out, the fact that senior UK government ministers believe that Youtube should remove anything "that may not be illegal, but certainly is unsavoury" is a pretty disturbing insight into the mindset of our censorious masters.