All posts tagged ‘Google’

I’m Feeling Moogy: Google Taps Native Web Audio for Awesome Moog Tribute

Google is celebrating electronic music pioneer Robert Moog’s 78th birthday with a Google doodle of the iconic Moog synthesizer. Like many past doodles today’s doodle doesn’t just look cool, thanks to the Web Audio API, it’s also a working synthesizer complete with a reel-to-reel tape machine for recording.

The Moog Google Doodle uses the nascent Web Audio API to create a mini Moog and power a mock reel-to-reel recorder. At the moment browser support for the Web Audio API is limited, but the doodle will work in most browsers since it falls back to Flash where the Audio API isn’t supported (the doodle does not work in Internet Explorer).

To play the Moog, just click any of the keys so that it gains focus and then you can play using your keyboard. All the nobs are fully functional as well, just click and drag to change the settings. Hit the record button and you can save your songs and share them with others.

Behind the scenes the Moog doodle also uses Closure libraries and some CSS 3 for the design and custom fonts. Developers interested in how the Moog doodle works can check out the archived doodle page and peruse the Moog.js JavaScript file for full details (as with all Google scripts, this one has been optimized for file size; you’ll want to run it through JSBeautifier or similar before you try to read it).

File Under: Programming

Google Kicks Off Summer of Code 2012

Students, start your coding engines. Google’s annual Summer of Code program, which helps college students write open source software during their summer vacations, starts today.

Past participants have helped improve everything from popular web frameworks to browser add-ons and even operating systems. Summer of Code is also not a half bad way to get yourself on Google’s radar — the company looks at the results of the program to help it “identify potential recruits.”

Summer of Code has served as a launchpad for quite a few new open source software projects as well as helping to jumpstart work on existing favorites. This year’s roster includes some 1,208 students who will spend the next 12 weeks writing code for 180 different open source organizations.

With 208 proposed projects, there’s a pretty good chance that some Summer of Code improvements will be rolled into your favorite open source projects later this year. Among the things we’ll be keeping an eye on are Metalink’s various efforts to improve the download capabilities in Firefox and Chrome. Eventually Metalink wants to bring error recovery/repair for large downloads to everything from Chrome to wget.

Other promising projects include several efforts to help improve OpenStreetMap, the so-called “Wikipedia of maps,” as well as Code for America’s various projects, some new features for Git and an ambitious plan to bring Pylint into the modern world of Python 3.

For more info on this year’s Summer of Code, head over to Google’s Summer of Code website, which has details on all the various projects and participants. You can also get updates from the Summer of Code page at Google+.

File Under: Web Services

Back Up Your Gmail Account With Gmvault

You can never have too many backups of your data. Unfortunately, when it comes to web-based e-mail like Gmail, backing up your mail isn’t always the easiest thing to do. The web is littered with tales of lost Gmail, whether because Google shuts down your account, an attacker destroys it or something else that’s never even crossed your mind happens and then — poof — your mail is gone.

That’s where Gmvault can help. Gmvault will help make sure that even if the unthinkable happens and your Gmail data is suddenly gone, you’ll be able to recover thanks to a solid backup system. Gmvault is a simple-to-use command-line Python app that will login, sync and back up your entire Gmail account on your local machine. Currently Gmvault is beta software. I’ve been using it for nearly a week and haven’t had any problems, but bear in mind that there may be some bugs.

You can accomplish the same thing with a desktop e-mail client, provided you remember to open it every now and then. But with Gmvault and simple cron script you can make sure your backup is updated every day. Throw in a line to move your database to a new location when the backup is done and you’ll have incremental snapshot backups of your Gmail account.

Gmvault will encrypt your saved e-mail repository to keep it safe from prying eyes. That means you can use Dropbox or similar web-based backup and syncing systems without worrying that your personal information is exposed.

Another interesting feature in Gmvault is the ability to restore e-mails to any Gmail account. That makes creating additional Gmail-based backup accounts a snap. Just create a new Gmail account, select your current account’s backup and use the restore command to recreate your mailboxes. All attributes such as Gmail labels are preserved and recreated in the new account.

Gmvault is a shell script available for Windows, OS X and Linux. Head on over to GitHub and grab a copy today so you can start making backups of your Gmail before you need them.

File Under: search

Google’s New Search Algorithm to Crack Down on ‘Black Hat Webspam’

By Matthew Braga, Ars Technica

Nefarious search engine optimizers be warned. Google is coming for you—again.

Following previous changes to Google’s ranking and page layout algorithms, the search giant is pushing yet another update to its algorithm this week with the hopes of curbing “black hat webspam” from creeping into search results.

The change will go live for all languages at the same time within the next few days, said engineer Matt Cutts in a blog post yesterday, and will affect roughly 3.1 percent of queries in English “to a degree that a regular user might notice.”

Cutts said the changes are targeted at sites engaged in tactics such as keyword stuffing, or “unusual linking patterns” where unrelated links are sprinkled throughout a fake or manufactured article. These sites might be harder to recognize than more blatant SEO offenses, but Google engineers believe that targeted sites “are engaging in webspam tactics to manipulate search engine rankings.”

As previously reported, there have been at least nine major updates to Google’s “Panda” algorithms since they were introduced last February, with numerous other tweaks along the way. In some cases, otherwise innocent sites were harmed, though this change is promised to affect a much smaller subset of visible search results.

Google’s quality guidelines outline just some of the discouraged tactics, which include hidden text or links, pages with irrelevant keywords, cloaking, and, of course, the presence of malicious software. That’s not to say all SEO is bad, however. Cutts points out that so-called white hat techniques are still fair game, and can often improve the usability of a site, “which is good for both users and search engines.”

As for packing every known pharmaceutical synonym into your site’s footer? That’s probably not as wise.

This article originally appeared on Ars Technica, Wired’s sister site for in-depth technology news.

File Under: Social

Google+ Updates Its User Interface, Refines Navigation and Photos

By Cesar Torres, Ars Technica

Google announced today a major redesign and a set of new features for users of its Google+ service. Navigation and several user interface features on Google+ pages have gotten a design makeover, and several new features aim to attract more users to share photos and promote more interactions with each other.

Google has overhauled navigation by making things simpler than its previous design. Pages now feature a cleaner, more minimalist look to match some of Google’s more recent updates to other applications like Gmail. A new “ribbon” of icons for home, profile, pages, and photos simplifies access to some of its major features. These icons can now be customized to users’ individual preferences. The end result is that now pages have a very clean, streamlined look made up of app-like icons.

Google+’s new look and features also emphasize photos now more than ever before. Photos are now displayed prominently, using more space on the browser’s screen. The new layouts are larger and more elegant, and they resemble the photo displays on sites like Tumblr or Flickr.

Google has made discussions and comments more visible, in an effort to make participation easier and more self-evident. The new “Explore” button highlights activity and posts by Google+ members as a stream of trending activity. This feature is likely an attempt to encourage more users to explore pages and people beyond the privacy of their own circles.

Hangouts have also received their own dedicated page and a design refresh. You can now view your own hangouts and track personal invites to hangouts more easily. Most notably, you can scan for other public hangouts that are available to join or watch in real time.

The new design began rolling out to some users starting today, and some features will be rolling out over the course of this week. In January of this year, Google announced it had 90 million users. Today’s announcement says that more than 170 million have signed up for Google+ service, even if not all of them joined voluntarily. Google+ has positioned itself as an alternative to Facebook, and some of the new features suggest that Google is more aggressively trying to lure users to use the Google+ platform.

This article originally appeared on Ars Technica, Wired’s sister site for in-depth technology news.