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TEDTalks

It's not a demo, more of a philosophical argument: Why did Sergey Brin and his team at Google want to build an eye-mounted camera/computer, codenamed Glass? Onstage at TED2013, Brin calls for a new way of seeing our relationship with our mobile computers -- not hunched over a screen but meeting the world heads-up.

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Original author: 
Ina Fried

Although Google is offering a limited set of developer tools for Glass — and more are on the way — the company doesn’t want to stop hackers from tinkering even further.

google_glass_penguin

Indeed, during a developer conference session on Thursday, Google showed a variety of ways to gain deeper access to Glass. Some, such as running basic Android apps and even connecting a Bluetooth keyboard, can be done.

Google showed other hacks, such as running a version of Ubuntu Linux. Those actions, though, require deeper “root” access to the device. Google showed how developers can get such access, but cautions that doing so voids the warranty and could be irreversible.

That said, Google plans to make its factory image available so in most cases rooted Glass devices should be able to be returned to their original settings.

The session ended with a video showing a pair of the pricey specs being blended to a powdery mess, to heartfelt groans from the packed audience, many of whom forked over $1,500 to be among the first to buy the developer edition of Glass.

Showing a different level of interest in Glass, several members of Congress sent a letter to Google CEO Larry Page on Thursday asking questions about privacy issues raised by the high-tech specs.

Update: At a follow-up Fireside Chat session with developers, Google reiterated that a software development kit for Glass is coming, but Google’s Charles Mendis said not to expect it soon.

Isabelle Olsson, the lead designer for Glass, showed off one of the bulky early prototype designs for Glass as well as a current prototype that combines Glass with prescription glasses.

Prescription Google Glass prototype

Prescription Google Glass prototype

Olsson, who quips that she has been working on Glass since it was a phone attached to a scuba mask, said that the development of Glass was “so ambitious and very messy.”

Getting the device light enough has been a key, Olsson said.

“If it is not light you are not going to want to wear it for more than 10 minutes,” Olsson said. “We care about every gram.”

Asked what kind of apps the Glass team would like to see, Olsson said she wanted a karaoke app, while Mendis said he would like to see some fitness apps.

Google Glass product director Steve Lee said Glass is designed around brief glances or “micro-interactions,” rather than watching a movie or reading an entire book.

“That would be painful,” Lee said. “We don’t want to create zombies staring into the screen for long periods of time.

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Original author: 
Adi Robertson

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Former Google CEO and current chairman Eric Schmidt is known for both a sense of broad techno-utopianism and a willingness to speak out on privacy hot-button issues. While he's spoken about things like the need for an internet "delete button" or laws to regulate drone surveillance, he also helps lead a company that has access to vast amounts of personal data, something that often doesn't sit well with Google users. In a casual, often jokey interview with NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, Schmidt stated once and for all that he could read all our email — but he'd never do it. "I would lose my job, be fired, and be sued to death," he told host Peter Sagal. Whether or not he tried to hide the snooping, "Someone would find out, trust me."

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Original author: 
Tim Carmody

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Answering questions after today's Facebook Home event, Mark Zuckerberg was full of praise for Google's smartphone platform. "We think that Google takes their commitment to openness in the ecosystem really seriously," he said, regarding the possibility Google might try to lock out Facebook. Google, he said, was aware of Facebook's work, although wasn't a partner like a host of other industry players. "I actually think this is really good for Android," he added, setting up a gentle dig. "Most app developers put most of their energy into iPhone."

Meanwhile, Zuckerberg confirmed that Facebook Home is essentially an end-run around Google's services wherever they compete directly with Facebook's, with the ultimate goal of capturing more...

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Original author: 
Liz Gannes

Google has warned that it will shut down its Google Reader news aggregator July 1. Many people (myself very much included) are mourning a beloved and useful product, but the company cited declining usage.

funeral

Shutterstock/Yuri Arcurs

Under CEO Larry Page, Google has made a practice of “spring cleaning” throughout all the seasons so it can narrow its focus. Reader was just a another bullet point on the latest closure list.

But the shutdown wasn’t just a matter of company culture and bigger priorities, sources said. Google is also trying to better orient itself so that it stops getting into trouble with repeated missteps around compliance issues, particularly privacy.

That means every team needs to have people dedicated to dealing with these compliance and privacy issues — lawyers, policy experts, etc. Google didn’t even have a product manager or full-time engineer responsible for Reader when it was killed, so the company didn’t want to add in the additional infrastructure and staff, the sources said.

But at the same time, Google Reader was too deeply integrated into Google Apps to spin it off and sell it, like the company did last year with its SketchUp 3-D modeling software.

The context for this concern about compliance is Google’s repeated public failures on privacy due to lack of oversight and coordination. It’s pretty clear why Page is trying to run a tighter ship.

Regulators have had ample reasons to go after the company. Google recently paid $7 million to settle with U.S. attorneys general over its years-long international Street View Wi-Fi incident, while agreeing to more closely police its employees. And last summer the company paid $22.5 million for breaking the terms of its U.S. Federal Trade Commission agreement over informing users accurately about privacy practices when it used a trick to install ad cookies for users of Apple’s Web browser Safari.

In the Wi-Spy case, after repeatedly downplaying the incident, Google ultimately disclosed that an engineer had devised the drive-by plan to collect user data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks, and had easily passed it through rubber-stamp approval processes.

In the Safari bypass case, Google said it was just trying to check whether users were logged into Google+, and any resulting tracking was inadvertent and no personal information was collected. Ultimately, what the company was held accountable for was having an out-of-date help page — an even more basic slip-up.

While it might not be obvious how Google Reader could be compromised by similar lapses — perhaps policies could fall out of date, or user RSS subscription lists could be exposed — the point is that Google wasn’t willing to commit to ensuring that it was well-run.

So how many users would Google Reader need to make it a valuable enough product to be worthy of investment and a real team?

A petition to save Reader on Change.org has nearly 150,000 signatures. That’s clearly not enough.

Google wouldn’t disclose how many users the product had, but Flipboard CEO Mike McCue told me yesterday that two million people have connected their Google Reader accounts to the Flipboard visual news apps. So you have to imagine it’s probably an order of magnitude larger than two million.

(By the way, many people involved with the product agree that it wasn’t just tech news fanatics who loved the service, but politics junkies and mommy bloggers and anyone who likes to mainline fresh content from their preferred outlets.)

Nick Baum, one of the original Reader product managers who’s no longer at Google, noted that in the early days of the product there were “several millions” of weekly active users.

In a conversation this weekend, Baum said, ”My sense is, if it’s a consumer product at Google that’s not making money, unless it’s going to get to 100 million users it’s not worth doing.”

But Baum left the team in 2007 — before the rise of Twitter — and he notes Google never put the resources in to do things like help new Google Reader users find feeds to follow and parse the most interesting content from high-volume outlets.

The irony, Baum said, is that if Google Reader were out seeking venture funding in Silicon Valley with its high-value audience, it most likely would have gotten it. “As a startup they would have been perfectly viable,” he said. Not to mention, startups don’t have to worry about compliance issues.

“Someday someone will do something in this space that will work,”  Baum said. “And maybe then Google will buy them.”

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google redesign feature lead

By Dieter Bohn and Ellis Hamburger

Something strange and remarkable started happening at Google immediately after Larry Page took full control as CEO in 2011: it started designing good-looking apps.

Great design is not something anybody has traditionally expected from Google. Infamously, the company used to focus on A/B testing tiny, incremental changes like 41 different shades of blue for links instead of trusting its designers to create and execute on an overall vision. The “design philosophy that lives or dies strictly by the sword of data” led its very first visual designer, Douglas Bowman, to leave in 2009.

More recently, however, it’s been impossible to ignore a series of thoughtfully designed apps — especially on iOS,...

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Larry Page

Google CEO Larry Page has sat down with Fortune's Miguel Helft for an extensive interview covering his company's mobile strategy, current performance, and future goals. Excerpts from that interview have just been posted online, showing a guarded Larry evading the most pointed questions about who Google perceives as its competitors and how it intends to better monetize its mobile services, but he does deliver a few more forthright comments. On the topic of the internet, Google's co-founder and boss is disappointed to see it growing more "island-like" and isolated into portal websites instead of the old wide-open digital prairie it once was.

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New submitter mrvan writes "Guido van Rossum, the proclaimed Python Benevolent Dictator For Life, has left Google to work for Dropbox. In their announcement, Dropbox says they relied heavily on Python from the beginning, citing a mix of simplicity, flexibility, and elegance, and are excited to have GvR on the team. While this is, without a doubt, good news for Dropbox, the big question is what this will mean for Python (and for Google)."

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Here are Larry Page's full remarks from Google's Zeitgeist conference. He hasn't spoken publicly for a long time because of a mystery voice ailment. His voice here does sound quiet, and a bit off.

Early in the talk he zings Apple's maps saying that people are starting to notice how hard it is to do maps.

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larry page 400The interview questions Google asks prospective engineers are tough.

We've gathered a new group of questions (and answers) from MyCareerStacks.

Unlike some of the other Google interview questions you've seen in the past, these are more computational and logic-based.

If you want to prepare for an interview at Google, or just see if you have what it takes, you should test yourself with these questions. They will probably pop up in some form during the recruiting process.

There are a bunch of houses in a row...

We'll say there are "N" houses, where N is some integer. Each house can be painted in either Red, Green or Blue. The cost of coloring each house in each of the colors is different.

Figure out how to color each house so no two adjacent houses have the same color and the total cost of coloring all the houses is as low as possible.

ANSWER: It's actually a programming problem.

This problem can be modeled as a "Dynamic Programming" problem, a method for efficiently solving a broad range of search and optimization problems.

Here's the line of code you'd use to answer it:

C[i][c] = H[c] + min(C[i-1][x]) x belongs to {Red, Blue, Green} x belongs to c

This function is the cost of painting the row of houses ending at the "ith" house so that house is painted in a color "c." (i is a placeholder for a number that goes up as the function computes.)

"c" is chosen such that the previous house is not in the same color.

Reverse characters of each word in a sentence

Convert "--------- "my career stack" ---------" to ""--------- "ym reerac kcats" ---------".

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