27 September 2014

Chrome's Offline Easter Egg



Chrome's latest Canary release has an updated offline error page. It still includes a small dinosaur image, a funny way to show how quickly your computer can become a relic from the past without an Internet connection.






The error page has an Easter Egg: if you press space, it lets you play a game. "Your only goal is to avoid hitting cacti. The T. Rex jumps by hitting the space bar. Fret not if you do hit an obstacle, because Chrome T. Rex doesn't stay down for long. (Hit the game-over refresh icon, and you're back at it.) The game tracks your progress and high score, but stats are lost if the window closes or is refreshed," reports Mashable.





Google's 16th Birthday Doodle



Google has an animated doodle for its 16th birthday. It's not a game like last year's doodle, but it's still funny. This time, Google shows the world how much it has grown.






"When's Google’s birthday? I'm not sure even we know – we've celebrated on September 7th, 8th, 26th, and, most recently the 27th. Still, while there’re some differing opinions about when to bust out the candles and cake, one fun fact is that our first doodle was posted even before Google was officially incorporated," says Google.



You can find Google's previous birthday doodles on this page.



Happy Birthday, Google!

26 September 2014

New Interface for Google Takeout



Google Takeout has a new interface. It's easier to pick the services you want to include in an archive and you can now store archives in Google Drive.



"After we finish creating your archive, we will add your archive to Drive and email you a link to its location. These archives will count against your storage quota," informs Google.






Some services let you select the data you want to export: Gmail labels, calendars, Google Drive folders, Blogger blogs, Google+ photo albums, books.









Google can create a download link that expires after a month or save the archive in Google Drive.















{ Thanks, Florian Kiersch. }

Mobile IE Doesn't Show Google Suggestions



If you've changed the search provider to Google in Internet Explorer for Windows Phone and you're wondering why search suggestions aren't that great, there's an explanation: Internet Explorer shows suggestions from Bing even if you're using Google.



Let's say I type in the address bar: "the best way to". Here are the suggestions:






And here are Google's suggestions:






If you go to IE's advanced settings, you'll notice that you can enable or disable "get suggestions from Bing as I type". To get Google's suggestions, you can go to google.com, install Google's app for Windows Phone or install a different browser.









So why would Microsoft show Bing suggestions if you've changed your search provider to Google? Maybe it's an excuse for Microsoft to send all your queries and partial queries to Bing, so that it can improve its search engine.

25 September 2014

Google Structured Snippets



A few weeks ago, I noticed that Google shows facts next to some Wikipedia results. This feature is called Structured Snippets and it's not limited to Wikipedia results.



"Structured Snippets is a new feature that incorporates facts into individual result snippets in Web Search. As seen in the example below, interesting and relevant information is extracted from a page and displayed as part of the snippet for the query [nikon d7100]," informs Google.






"Structured Snippets is the latest collaboration between Google Research and the Web Search team employing that data to seamlessly provide the most relevant information to the user. We use machine learning techniques to distinguish data tables on the Web from uninteresting tables, e.g., tables used for formatting web pages. We also have additional algorithms to determine quality and relevance that we use to display up to four highly ranked facts from those data tables," mentions the Google Research blog.



You don't need special formatting: Google extracts information from existing tables. It's interesting to notice that Google has always used tables from web pages to extract useful data. Google Sets, one of the earliest Google Labs services, used lists and tables from web pages to generate lists of related terms. Google also built a search engine for tables and shows data from tables in cards and snippets.

Obscure Google Maps Results



When you add "google maps" or "map" to a Google query related to a location, it's likely that you'll see a Google Maps card. For example, searching for [google maps bop], [map bop] or [bop map] returns a map for the Bouar Airport (BOP) from the Central African Republic.






Sometimes this feature doesn't work very well. I searched for [google maps location history] and Google returned this map for Location History Collection, a museum from Hungary that appears to be permanently closed. It's obvious that the Google Maps Location History page is more important and should be displayed first.





Updated Dictionary Card in Google Search



Google updated the dictionary card and it now includes a message next to the big arrow at the bottom: "Translations, word origin, and more definitions". Probably many users didn't realize that the card can be expanded to show even more definitions and some additional information.








23 September 2014

Creating Google Accounts No Longer Requires Google+



When you create a Google account, Google no longer forces you to join Google+. Google only asks you to create a public Google+ profile, but you can click "No thanks" and avoid upgrading to Google+.






A Google spokesperson confirmed the change to Quartz: "Users can now create a public profile during signup, or later, if and when they share public content for the first time (like a restaurant review, YouTube video or Google+ post)."






Google has removed the "real names" policy and made Hangouts available to Google Apps users who don't have Google+ accounts. It's likely that Hangouts and Google Photos will become standalone apps that don't require Google+. As Google+ fades into the background, it's time to open Google's apps to everyone and transform Google+ into a social enhancement instead of a requirement.



Back in 2012, creating a Google account from the Google homepage meant joining Gmail and Google+. Some time ago, Google added the option to use an existing email address and now you can bypass Google+. Another change is that you can create a Google account without entering a mobile phone number.