Tag: Google

Google kills off solar powered drone

s50wing3600x2025orig-1A Google division which was running a solar-powered drone programme is being mothballed as the outfit cuts back on its “moonshots”.

X, Alphabet’s moonshot division, has shut down a project with the unfortunate name Titan. Coincidently another project with the same name was run by Apple to build self-driving cars and it was shut down too. It seems that the Titans don’t approve.

Google bought Titan Aerospace in 2014. The outfit had been developing solar-powered drones that could fly for several days at a time and take images of earth or beam down internet.

Titan was folded into X and then into Project Wing which works on delivery drones. An X representative said Google would focus on Project Loon, which makes high-altitude balloons, for delivering internet from the sky.

Loon is a more promising way to connect rural and remote parts of the world. Many people from the Titan team are now using their expertise as part of other high flying projects at X, including Loon and Project Wing, Google said.

Android bugs hard to shift from tellies

bugFor a while now security experts have feared that android viruses will find their way into smart tellies and now this is starting to happen quirks in the telly industry appear to be preventing the viruses being fixed.

Software engineer Darren Cauthon found that one of his family members had an LG smart TV infected with ransomware on Christmas day. However, when he rang LG for help, the outfit told him he would have to take the telly into the shop to be fixed.

Based on a screenshot Cauthon posted online, the smart TV was infected with the Cyber. Police ransomware, also known as FLocker, Frantic Locker, or Dogspectus.

The infected TV is one of the last generations of LG smart TVs that ran Google TV, a smart TV platform developed by Google together with Intel, Sony, and Logitech. Google TV launched in 2010, but Google discontinued the project in June 2014.

LG really can’t be bothered with Google TV, and the company’s TVs now run WebOS.

When Cauthon tried to reset the TV to factory settings, the reset procedure available online didn’t work.

When the software engineer contacted LG, the company told him to visit one of their service centres, where one of its employees could reset his TV.

Pixel has battery woes

lemon batteryGoogle’s Pixel phone might be rather nice, but it appears to be suffering from battery problems.

While these problems do not mean that they do a Note 7 and spontaneously combust, it does mean that they do an Apple and shut down when they still have 35 per cent of their power left.

It looks like they are suffering from the same shutdown bug that plagued the Nexus 6P where the device would prematurely turn off at 25 to 35 percent.

A few Reddit users are reporting that their Pixel devices are also suffering from the same shutdown bug. Some Pixel phones would prematurely shut down at or around 30 percent and would not turn back on until a charger is connected.

Vrski_15, who started the thread claimed that twice in last five days, has the phone shutdown abruptly while he was in middle of something. In both instances, battery was between 25-35 percent, and the phone under normal conditions should have lasted for at least next 3-4 hours.

In the case of the Nexus 6P, Huawei said that this was not a hardware problem but a software-related one. However, users found that the problem persisted even after downgrading to Android Marshmallow. This led Huawei to investigate further with Google, and although the company hasn’t revealed the cause yet, it is probably related to the problem that these Pixel users have been experiencing.

Google changes algorithms of hate

KKK-1000x600Search engine Google has changed its algorithms after discovering that users using search terms related to the Holocaust or ethnic minorities were being pointed to hate sites.

The new algorithms are said to prioritise high-quality information, bumping down sites associated with racial hate speech, and to remove anti-Semitic auto-fill queries.

In the past, Google has shown reluctance to change its algorithms in the past, preferring to prioritize whatever pages generated the most online sharing and discussion. But it discovered that hate groups were manipulating the algorithms to amplify misinformation and hate speech.

Auto-fill suggestions to complete the search query “are Jews” included “are Jews evil?” Also, the top search for “did the Holocaust happen” linked to a page by Stormfront, an infamous white supremacist group, and searches related to various ethnic minorities would often bring up other sites espousing racist views.

A spokesGoogle said that judging which pages on the web best answer a query is a challenging problem and it did not always get it right.

“We recently made improvements to our algorithm that will help surface more high quality, credible content on the web. We’ll continue to change our algorithms over time to tackle these challenges.”

The algorithm now takes the browser away from Stormfront and replaces it with the United States Holocaust Museum. However, the white supremacist group still holds the number one spot in the Google search engine.

All this is caused by the sudden increase in hate speech and the glut of fake news. A Pew Research poll, four out of ten Americans now get news online, underscoring the influence such sites can yield.

 

Trump and Silicon Valley try to bury the hatchet

Donald-Trump-funnyDonald “Prince of Orange” Trump met with Silicon Valley’s top executives attempted to bury the hatchet and to smoke a peace pipe.

The meeting, in Trump Towers, focused chiefly on economic problems, including job creation, lowering taxes and trade dynamics with China, while largely avoiding the many disagreements the tech industry has with Trump on matters ranging from immigration to digital privacy.

For some reason, three of Trump’s kids sat in on the meeting. We guess it is because they know a little more than their dad about tech. Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka, sat at the head of a large rectangular table as the meeting began in a conference room on the 25th floor of Trump Tower.

Of course there is a small problem of conflict of interest because Trump’s kids are going to be running his business while he is being president.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence was also there as was  Apple’s Tim Cook, Facebook’sSheryl Sandberg and Tesla Motors’ Elon Musk, Alphabet Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, and IBM’s Ginni Rometty. Missing was Twitter, which Trump claimed was too small to be at the table and it had nothing to do with the personal spat that Trump was having with Twitter.

Cook and Musk joined Trump for separate meetings after the other technology executives leave, according to a spokesman for Trump’s transition team.

Bezos said in a statement the meeting was “very productive” and that he “shared the view that the administration should make innovation one of its key pillars, which would create a huge number of jobs across the whole country, in all sectors, not just tech – agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing -everywhere.”

Silicon Valley got on well with  President Barack Obama and heavily supported Democrat Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign.

Trump bashed the industry during the election campaign. He urged his supporters to boycott Apple products over the company’s refusal to help the FBI unlock an iPhone associated with last year’s San Bernardino, California, shootings, threatened antitrust action against Amazon and demanded that tech companies build their products in the United States.

Trump has also been an opponent of the Obama administration’s “net neutrality” rules barring internet service providers from obstructing or slowing consumer access to web content. Two advisers to his Federal Communications Commission transition team are opponents of the rules, as are the two Republicans on the FCC.

 

Google uses entirely re-usable energy

Kyocera floating solar raftsSearch engine outfit Google says it is close to having its entire power bill paid for by using renewable energy.

Google has a power bill which would make most people wince with more data centres than you can poke a stick at. It said that its engineers have spent years perfecting Google’s data centres, making them 50 percent more energy efficient than the industry average.

“ But we still need a lot of energy to power the products and services that our users depend on. We began purchasing renewable energy to reduce our carbon footprint and address climate change — but it also makes business sense,” the outfit said.

However apparently thanks to spending a fortune on solar and wind powered systems, Google will reach 100 percent renewable energy for its global operations — including data centres and offices.

“We were one of the first corporations to create large-scale, long-term contracts to buy renewable energy directly; we signed our first agreement to purchase all the electricity from a 114-megawatt wind farm in Iowa, in 2010. Today, we are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy. That’s bigger than many large utilities and more than twice as much as the 1.21 gigawatts it took to send Marty McFly back to the future,” Google announced.

Some of this was possible because over the last six years, the cost of wind and solar came down 60 percent and 80 percent, respectively, proving that renewables are increasingly becoming the lowest cost option.

It has cost Google more than $3.5 billion globally, and the projects generate tens of millions of dollars per year in revenue to local property owners, and tens of millions more to local and national governments in tax revenue.

Google’s Pixel will sell 5-6 million

 

Pixel-announcement-840x469Fortune tellers at financial outfit Morgan Stanley have been shuffling their tarot decks and predict that around 5-6 million of Pixel and Pixel XL will be sold this year.

This will make about $3.8 billion in revenue. Similarly, Morgan Stanley projects that the Pixel will sell three million units in the final three months of 2016, racking up about $2 billion of revenue.

The Morgan Stanley note estimates the Pixel will be half as profitable for Google as the iPhone is to Apple,  because it has better and more expensive materials.

The Pixel phone will generate a 22 per cent -25 per cent gross profit margin, the note says, varying according to the model. For perspective, the iPhone 7’s gross margin is at around 41 per cent, but this has notably declined from 57.7 per cent in 2009.

But Google will profit from the Pixel beyond sales of the phone itself, the note says, through what Morgan Stanley’s analysts refer to as “Android user monetisation.”

People spend three times more money on iOS shopping apps than they do Android ones, but some of the Pixel’s features will help close this gap, Morgan Stanley said.

Features unique to the Pixel, such as the Google Assistant, the Pixel camera, and Daydream (Google’s virtual reality headset, which works with the Pixel), plus the smartphone’s deeper app integration, increased prominence of Android Pay, and improved computing power (compared to other Android devices), will ultimately lead to users spending more money on Android, according to the research note.

Morgan Stanley’s analysts predict that these features could see the Pixel driving higher mobile search monetization for Google as advertisers will spend more to reach the consumers who spend the most on their mobiles.

 

Google is not a search engine for Nazis

12Google’s search engine might be part of a cunning liberal plot to suppress right wing thought, if a new report is correct.

Analysis by SEO outfit CanIRank.com found Google’s top search result pages were 40 percent more likely to have a left or far left slant.

The study searched for 50 politically themed keywords or phrases, and some of the results are what you would expect.

“Minimum wage” tended to yield more liberal results, while “does gun control reduce crime” resulted in more conservative ones. Searches for “financial regulation” and “federal reserve” found mostly nonpartisan links.

However, CanIRank used the opinions of four people to determine if a site was liberal or conservative. If it used US people, then chances are anything which is not fascist will be construed as Liberal.

For 16 percent of the political search terms studied, no right leaning results showed up at all on the first page of results.

CanIRank insists that this is a democracy as most people click on one of the first five search results. Users rarely move on to the second page. Where would the world be if people were not up-to-date with the latest right-wing conspiracy theories?

It is not the first time that Google has been accused of having a “liberal bias.” Another study by the University of Maryland found Google searches for Democratic presidential candidates led to more supportive websites than searches for Republican candidates.

 

Telcos likely to have supreme power over Google

animal-memes-how-i-feel-when-i-have-waterproof-phoneAfter all its years being in bed with the Obama administration, the search engine Google might suddenly find itself in a bit of hot water.

Donald “Prince of Orange” Trump look like he is going to reverse Obama administration policies that often favoured the internet giant in the company’s battles with telecoms and cable heavyweights.

Trump looks like he will grab the pussy of the telecom firms and has already asked the US Federal Communications Commission to halt action on regulatory reform measures opposed by companies such as AT&T and CenturyLink.

The commission is now expected to reject FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s high-profile proposal to open the $20 billion market for rented pay-TV set-top boxes.

This would have dealt a big blow to cable companies and created an opening for firms such as Google.

Cable companies have expressed concerns that rivals like Google or Apple could create devices or apps and insert their own content or advertising in cable content.

This could also be bad news for net neutrality. Most Republicans strongly oppose net neutrality, which requires internet service providers to treat all data equally and bars them from obstructing or slowing down consumer access to web content.

Republicans in Congress or at a Republican-controlled FCC under a Trump administration could also pare back new privacy rules adopted in October that subject internet service providers to stricter rules than those faced by Google and other websites.

Tech companies ask Trump to backtrack on encryption

orangeUS internet companies including Facebook and Amazon have penned a letter to president elect Donald “Prince of Orange” asking him to be a little more accommodating to their policy priorities – particularly strong encryption.

Trump took an anti-encryption stance during the election, demanding tech companies provide spooks with back-doors. While some tech-companies are visibly upset about Trumps election, it appears that Facebook and Amazon hope they can get him to change his mind with a nice letter.

The letter sent by the Internet Association, a trade group whose 40 members also include Alphabet’s Google, Uber and Twitter, represents an early effort to repair the relationship between the technology sector.

Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association said that the internet industry looks forward to engaging in an open and productive dialogue.

Some of the policy goals stated in the letter may align with Trump’s priorities, including easing regulation on the sharing economy, lowering taxes on profits made from intellectual property and applying pressure on Europe to not erect too many barriers that restrict U.S. internet companies from growing in that market.

The association seeks immigration reform to support more high-skilled workers staying in the United States. Trump made tougher immigration policies a central theme of his campaign, but he has shied away from arguing against more H-1B visas for skilled workers. In March, he said he was “softening the position because we need to have talented people in this country.”

Trump has also urged a boycott of Apple products over the company’s refusal to help the Federal Bureau of Investigation unlock an iPhone associated with last year’s San Bernardino, California, shootings, threatened antitrust action against Amazon, and demanded Apple manufacture its products in the United States.

In a statement, Beckerman said the internet industry looked forward to working closely with Trump and lawmakers in Congress to “cement the internet’s role as a driver of economic and social progress for future generations.”