Google Unveils Project Glass, Augmented-Reality Eyewear

Yesterday, Google gave the world a peek at Project Glass, augmented-reality glasses that allow users to stream information to the glasses’ lenses and send and receive messages via voice commands. Though the prototype might look like a prop from a science fiction movie, it's fully functional and another example of how once fictional technologies are becoming modern-day realities.    

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Google Buys Zagat

In an attempt to provide users with more local content, Google has purchased Zagat, a popular service offering restaurant reviews, shopping guides, nightlife recommendations, and more.

“Delightful deal done; Zagat and Google now one; foodies have more fun,” tweeted Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of local, maps, and location services. 

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Time Warner to Push More Tablet Magazines by Year’s End

Although various magazine publishers haven’t unanimously decided whether tablets are a good or bad thing for their industry, Time Warner says that by the end of the year, all 21 of its titles will be available on multiple tablet platforms, including Apple, Google, and more.

Time Inc. currently has tablet versions available for 4 of its magazines – four of its highest-profile magazines: Time, Sports Illustrated, People, and Fortune. 17 more titles will be available by the end of the year, including titles such as InStyle, Entertainment Weekly, and Real Simple.

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Google Punishes J.C. Penney After Retailer Allegedly Pays for Links

Google has buried J.C. Penney links after learning of alleged “black-hat” marketing techniques employed by the 109-year-old retailer. According to a report in the New York Times, J.C. Penney paid for thousands of links to be added to hundreds of websites, an action that blatantly violates Google’s policies.

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Google Launches Wedding Planning Site

Google Weddings launched yesterday, promising to “simplify wedding planning.” Basically, the site just highlights existing Google extensions like Good Sites, Picnik, Google Docs and Picasa, and shows how you can use them to set up a wedding website, share pictures with guests, and organize the guest list. New features include a dozen website designs by wedding planner Michelle Rago, and Google Docs templates for soliciting addresses from guests, coordinating vendors, and keeping track of gifts/registries.

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Google CEO Seeks Book Deal

After failing to sell his idea for a TV show, Google CEO Eric Schmidt is now shopping around a book proposal. Schmidt’s book will be written with (or…’by,’ if we learned anything from Jersey Shore’s Snooki’s book) Jared Cohen, a Rhodes Scholar and counterterror adviser to Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton.

Publisher bids are due today. Schmidt reportedly spent 2010 shopping his TV show, but failed to find a buyer. With his job title at Google changing this year from CEO to “executive chairman” in April, he may have more time to find publishers for his book.

The book, titled Empire of the Mind: The Dawn of the Techno-Political Age, grew out of an essay that the two men worked on titled “The Digital Disruption.” That essay examined the challenges that technology poses to authoritarian regimes.

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Motorola Xoom Takes Best In Show

The annually held Consumer Electronics Show saw many new tablets to rival the iPad at this year’s event.   One of them was the much touted Motorola Xoom, no bigger than an iPad the black slab will squelch any other competition it may have against the iPad.

The Xoom is said to be the main competitor as the iPad 2 is released later this year.  It features the new Google custom built Android 3 Honeycomb OS. It has a dual core-Tegra 2 processor, includes 10 inch display, HDMI –out with video play back and front and back facing cameras. It also has a SD card slot for more storage.   It will be connected to the super fast Verizon 4G LTE network.

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Google Launches “Reading Filter”

Google has added a new search feature to its search engine results pages that will allow web surfers to check the ‘reading level’ of websites.  The new search can be switched on via the ‘advanced search’  button and the websites are rated on a scale of basic, intermediate, and advanced.

Google hired teachers to grade webpages then created a model that could be applied to any webpage.

Google’s Product Manager, Web Search, Nundu, said, “This feature is based primarily on statistical models we build with the help of teachers. We paid teachers to classify pages for different reading levels, and then took their classifications to build a statistical model. With this model, we can compare the words on any webpage with the words in the model to classify reading levels. We also use data from Google Scholar, since most of the articles in Scholar are advanced.”

So essentially, teachers graded webpages based on how difficult they are to read/comprehend, and web searchers reap the so-called benefits. I suppose this could be helpful, like in the terms of say, a younger kid doing research for a school paper, but as far as being an adult, I can’t imagine most searches really NEED a reading-level system.


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Google Unveils Yelp-Like “Hotpot”

Google, one of the fastest growing segments of the Internet and technology industry, has just unveiled its latest feature – Hotpot, a location-based recommendation engine that is powered by “you and your friends.”

Hotpot will take all of Google Places’ ratings and reviews features and add a personal tough.  Currently, Place pages mostly take review data from sources like Yelp, the popular business-review website. With Hotpot, users will be able to rate and review businesses directly from their Google-linked profile.  Users ratings and reviews are tracked with a counter at the top of the profile, and likes and dislikes will be “remembered” and used in Google’s recommendation engine.

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Oops! Google Employee Fired After Leaking Raise Memo

Earlier this week, it was leaked that Google would be giving all of its employees a 10% raise and a $1,000 cash bonus for the holidays. Google has announced that the employee who leaked the company-wide memo has been terminated. 

According to Google, the raise was designed to boost company morale in the wake of some high-profile departures, but the mood was dampened when the employee who leaked the memo was let go for doing so.

Why, you may ask? What’s the big deal?

Generally speaking, salary information is supposed to be confidential even within a company. To discuss this type of information with the people you work with could cause serious work drama – for example, you’ve been working at a place for 2 years and the new hire is earning the exact same amount… wouldn’t you be a bit irked? Most people would, which is why in many employee handbooks, it is expressly noted that employees should not discuss salary information with others.

But the real issue at hand is that at the top of Google’s memo to its employees, was the header “CONFIDENTIAL: INTERNAL ONLY GOOGLERS ONLY (FULL TIME AND PART TIME EMPLOYEES)”.  The employee who leaked the memo failed the realize that ‘confidential’ means DON’T give the memo to the press. Especally if it's in all capital letters.

Google was justified in terminating the employee; if someone can’t keep information about something as simple and mundane as a paycheck (even if that paycheck is going to be bigger from now on!), what other information can’t they be trusted with?


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