Google Doodle celebrates the marvel of ‘Little Nemo’ and his 107th birthday (video)

Little Nemo first appeared in the New York Herald on Oct. 15, 1905 as the protagonist kid of the “Little Nemo in Slumberland” comic strip, and Google is commemorating the tale’s 107th birthday today with an interactive doodle on the homepage.

Windsor McCay’s early 20th-century newspaper cartoon lasted nine years, while Little Nemo later inspired a slew of spin-offs such as the 1989 animated film “Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland” (YouTube video below).

Google’s visually breathtaking doodle transports Web surfers to the fanciful world of Slumberland. Folks can follow Nemo as he falls from his bed into a starlit-realm of dreams and continues tumbling for seven more panes until he ends up back in bed—tussled and amazed. It is certainly one of the search giant’s most stunning doodles ever.

Google’s full artwork for the doodle is below, while “Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland” is above.

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Report: FTC officials ‘convinced’ Google illegally used dominance to stifle competition, eyes antitrust case

A Reuters report (via CNBC) from this afternoon claimed top U.S. Federal Trade Commission officials want to bring an antitrust case against Google over numerous complaints about it abusing search dominance to suppress competition in the market.

The FTC announced earlier this year that Washington lawyer Beth Wilkinson is leading its investigation, while FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said last month they would reach a decision by 2013. If found guilty, the FTC and Google could enter settlement talks to resolve the matter or duke it out in court.

Reuters cited “three people familiar with the matter,” and it indicated Google could soon face the gristly negotiation process:

Four of the FTC commissioners have become convinced after more than a year of investigation that Google illegally used its dominance of the search market to hurt its rivals, while one commissioner is skeptical, the sources said. All three declined to be named to protect working relationships. Two of the sources said a decision on how to proceed could come in late November or early December. A long list of companies has been complaining to the FTC, arguing that the agency should crack down on Google.

Yelp  and Nextag have both criticized Google at open hearings in Congress, according to Reuters, asserting Google unjustly gives “their web sites low quality rankings in search results to steer Internet users away from their websites and toward Google products that provide similar services.”

Google has continually rebuffed any lawlessness or partial practices, and the search engine’s vice president of engineering, Amit Singhal, even stormed to the Google Public Policy Blog earlier this summer, in an aggressive tactic not usually taken by the Mountain View, Calif.-based company, to address the antitrust accusations in a “claim vs. fact” format.

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Google testing new mobile site

As Google has done with past updates to its products, it appears to be testing a redesigned version of its mobile homepage with a small group of users. A 9to5Google reader noticed the change on Android. There were also reports of iOS users noticing a new UI. As highlighted in the image above, the updated Google mobile website includes a redesigned top toolbar that looks similar to the desktop version. The redesigned toolbar also provides access to a slide-out sidebar that contains quick links to all of Google’s services as opposed to a top bar containing just a few tabs for “Images”, Maps”, “Places”, “more”, etc. The toolbar provides links to the “Web” and “Images”, as well as Google+ notifications and profile information. It is possible Google will push the redesigned UI to all users soon.

Google introduces Search Appliance version 7.0 for enterprises

On the Google Enterprise blog today, General Manager of Enterprise Search Matthew Eichner introduced the latest version of the yellow “Google in a box” search solution for enterprises. GSA 7.0 brings new features nearly 10 years after first introducing the appliance, including: Google-quality search for SharePoint 2010, better smartphone and tablet integration, and refined speed and relevance with assisted navigation and Entity Recognition:

The GSA 7.0 helps you find information stored anywhere in your organization, whether you’re using a desktop, smartphone or tablet. Administrators can easily add content sources from secure storage, cloud services or the public web and social networking sites. GSA 7.0 also provides Google-quality search for SharePoint 2010, making for a more simple and intuitive, all-in-one search experience.

Google described of the other new features in GSA 7.0 including document preview, Google translate, support for more languages, and an improved UI: Read more

A look at how Google builds accurate maps with ‘Ground Truth’ data

Google’s map offerings build in the human intelligence on the front end, and that’s what allows its computers to tell you the best route from San Francisco to Boston.

In an exclusive story by the Senior Editor at The Atlantic, Alexis C. Madrigal, Google for the first time gives us a look at “Ground Truth”. It is a project described by Madrigal as a secretive, complex internal map that contains data, such as “no-left-turns and freeway on-ramps, speed limits and traffic conditions,” necessary to help users navigate through Google Maps:

I was slated to meet with Gupta and the engineering ringleader on his team, former NASA engineer Michael Weiss-Malik, who’d spent his 20 percent time working on Google Mars, and Nick Volmar, an “operator” who actually massages map data. 

“So you want to make a map,” Weiss-Malik tells me as we sit down in front of a massive monitor. “There are a couple of steps. You acquire data through partners. You do a bunch of engineering on that data to get it into the right format and conflate it with other sources of data, and then you do a bunch of operations, which is what this tool is about, to hand massage the data. And out the other end pops something that is higher quality than the sum of its parts.”

Describing Ground Truth to be an elaborate internal Map Maker of sorts, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story is just how much human input goes into making the Google Maps experience accurate. In the story, Madrigal noted the Ground Truth Geo team aims to address most of the fixable problems reported by users (thousands daily) within minutes: Read more

Google Now interface rolls out to Google searches performed on mobile devices

In its push to have the Google Now interface in what looks to be across all platforms, Google has incorporated it in Google Search results on mobile devices. When searching for a forecast, stock quote, flight time, math equation, sports score, and more on your smartphone, the information will now be conveniently displayed in Google’s new Now UI. The information is not any different, as Google has been doing this for a while, but it definitely looks much better and easier to manage.

It looks very similar to the interface of Google Now that is available on Jelly Bean. Google also incorporated the look in its upcoming Google Search app update on iOS. The new interface will roll out to all users in the coming days and on desktops soon. [Google]

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