Google celebrates Frank Zamboni’s Ice Resurfacer with interactive Doodle (Video)

Google’s homepage Doodle for today is an interactive game that puts folks behind the wheel of a Zamboni.

Frank Zamboni invented the Zamboni Ice Resurfacer, also known as a “Zamboni,” in 1949, and today is his 112th birthday. The inventor died of lung cancer roughly 24 years ago, but Google is celebrating his life and invention today because both made hockey games and ice skating practical.

Google often features its traditional logo in various modifications for special events or competitions, and the creative logos have since become known as Google Doodles. Google paid homage to a multitude of holidays and anniversaries in 2012, for instance, and a few of the more notable Google Doodles included the 200th Anniversary of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, 161st Anniversary of Moby Dick’s First Publishing, and 107th Anniversary of Little Nemo in Slumberland.

Today’s Google Doodle shows skaters messing up the ice, as seen in the video above, and it’s Web surfers’ responsibility to resurface the scuffed ice using the Zamboni. Users can navigate the machine with the up, down, left, and right arrow keys or just their mouse.

A more difficult level starts each time the ice is resurfaced, but users also run the risk of running out of gas. So, be quick and efficient. Also, watch out for banana peels or accidentally killing the driver at unsafe speeds by slamming the Zamboni into the arena walls.

Check it out:

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Facebook launches ‘Graph Search’ feature in limited beta with Bing-powered Web searches


Facebook’s mysterious press event is underway, and the company just unveiled a new graph search feature on stage that aggregates granular results based on user engagement and interest and provides Bing-powered Web results.

Many rumors indicated Facebook would unveil a new search function that would rival Google and likely introduce a better way to browse through the social network. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed graph search is not just web search, though.

According to The Verge, Zuckerberg said graph search would show the answer and not just links to answers: “We are not indexing the web. We are indexing our map of the graph, which is really big and constantly changing.”

People in a user’s friend network apparently rank results, while mutual friends and various “signals” sort other results in the Facebook network. There is even a “refine this search” option on the right that lets folks further narrow their results. The graph search is in beta, Zuckerberg noted, and people, photos, places, and interests form the foundation.

In today’s showcasing of graph search, a demonstration of Maps, refined by likes and location tags, was shown off, as well as an example of Places search, akin to Yelp, which showed a better way to find places via where friends have been and what they’ve liked, and Photos search. Engagement, likes, and comments apparently organize images, places, interests, and other searchable items.

Meanwhile, a Search box serves as a “title for the page,” Zuckerberg added, and the content appears below it. He demo-searched for “Friends of friends who are single men in San Francisco and who are from India,” and a listing of related men and their Facebook profiles filled the search results.

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Which Google service will Facebook try to disrupt: Android or Search?


Facebook plans to hold a press event today that—if rumors are factored in—could launch a new search feature, ad platform, improved apps, or even a smartphone that would bring it up to speed with, or at least give it an edge against, its primary foe, Google.

Facebook will kick things off at 10 a.m. PST at its headquarters in California, but the company hasn’t given any hints about what is in store other than inviting the media to “come see what we’re building.”

The Wall Street Journal, via the Associated Press, said a new search function, if unveiled, would likely introduce “a better way to sift through Facebook for people, businesses, events and everything else available on the vast online network.” said definitively that Facebook would launch its own search engine soon. The website claimed it heard from sources that Facebook plans to take on Google “at its own game.” Although exact details as to how are unclear for now, the website said Facebook’s new search feature would “shake everything up.”

Business Insider, however, asserted a new mobile ad product is in the works. Advertisers can only buy display ads on the desktop version of Facebook at the moment, but a new mobile strategy will soon, according to the website’s unnamed sources, “allow advertisers to buy mobile ad inventory through FBX.”

PCMag tossed rumors to the wayside and called for better mobile apps. It referred to the existing apps as “often sluggish and unstable,” but it also admitted the native apps work better than the HTML5 versions. Still, the website said, Facebook “needs to announce” an overhauled offering.

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Google opens 6th annual US Doodle 4 Google competition with the ‘My Best Day Ever…’ theme (Video)

Google announced its sixth-annual U.S. Doodle 4 Google competition yesterday and invited children to illustrate their best day ever as part of the theme.

Google often features its traditional logo in various modifications for special events or competitions, and the creative logos have since become known as Google Doodles. Google celebrated a multitude of holidays and anniversaries in 2012, for instance, and a few of the more notable Google Doodles included the 200th Anniversary of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, 161st Anniversary of Moby Dick’s First Publishing, and 107th Anniversary of Little Nemo in Slumberland.

The Internet Giant started a competition six years ago to have students from across the United States design a clever doodle based on a theme. The winning student earns many valuable prizes and a spot on Google’s homepage. Google gave a few doodle examples for this year’s competition theme via the official Google blog:

“Today we’re announcing our 6th annual U.S. Doodle 4 Google competition, inviting K-12 students around the country to create their own “doodle” (one of the special Google logos you see on our homepage on various occasions). This year’s theme: “My Best Day Ever…” Breakdancing with aliens? Sure! Building a fortress of candy? Okay by us! Riding to school on a brontosaurus? You get the idea (…)”

Last year’s winner, Dylan Hoffman of Caledonia, Wisc., drew a Treasure Island-like doodle for the “If I could travel in time I’d visit…” theme and won a treasure chest of prizes. His awards included a $30,000 college scholarship, a Chromebook computer, and a $50,000 technology grant for Prairie School. His doodle also appeared on the Crayola 64-crayon special edition box last fall, as well as the Google homepage.

This year’s winning artist will get a $30,000 college scholarship and $50,000 technology grant for his or her school, while the winning doodle will land on the Google homepage for a day. In addition, all State Winners will have their artwork on display at the American Museum of Natural History from May 22 to July 14.

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Google releases Chrome 25 Beta with Web Speech API

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Google launched Chrome 24 for Windows, Mac, and Linux just last week, and now it has already released Chrome 25 Beta with a Web Speech API.

The Web Speech API will let users have “new, interactive experiences with web apps,” according to the official Google Chrome blog. The JavaScript API will further allow developers to “integrate speech recognition into their web apps.”

Google has pushed voice recognition and dictation on Android devices as of late and is clearly trying to bring desktop capabilities up to speed with today’s Chrome Beta release.

Chrome 25 Beta will also auto-disable some silently added, third-party extensions on Windows, but a notification will allow users to re-enable such extensions.

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FTC’s Jon Leibowitz says antitrust settlement with Google was about ‘doing the right thing’


FTC’s Jon Leibowitz

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission ended its probe against Google last week, and now the agency’s chairperson, Jon Leibowitz, is discussing the controversial decision with TPM.

“We did what were paid to do and what the law requires,” Leibowitz told TPM. “We went after a company [Google] where the law required us to do so, and forwent bringing a case where the law required us not to bring one.”

The FTC investigated claims as to whether Google gave itself an unfair advantage in search results and blocked sales in America of competing mobile devices. Leibowitz said all five commissioners, from both ends of the political spectrum, agreed that the evidence “militated” against an antitrust case.

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CES 2013: Hands-on with the Archos TV Connect Android 4.1 set-top box (Video)

9to5Google gave you a demo yesterday of the Archos Android-powered GamePad coming to the United States market in the next couple of months. While at the Archos booth on the show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center for CES this week, we also got the rundown on its new “TV Connect” Android 4.1.1-powered TV product. The set-top box packs a 1.5GHz “Smart Multi Core” CPU, 8GB of storage (microSD card slot up to 32GB), and 1GB of RAM, and it comes with a hybrid game controller/QWERTY keyboard that also includes Wiimote-like gesture support. The TV Connect will retail for $130 this February.
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Google’s Eric Schmidt encourages North Korea to end Internet-access barriers (Video)

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt encouraged North Korean officials to let go of Internet-access barriers if they wish to continue developing their country, he told reporters today in Beijing after concluding his three-day trip to North Korea.

“As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world,” Schmidt said, according to The Wall Street Journal. He also noted it would “make it harder for them to catch up economically. We made that alternative very, very clear.”

Schmidt and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson led a nine-person American delegation in North Korea this week. Their group included Jared Cohen, a former State Department official who founded Google Ideas, and Tony Namkung, an adviser to Richardson.

Schmidt called the trip “a private visit to North Korea to talk about the free and open Internet,” but the U.S. State Department said earlier on that the timing of their visit was “unhelpful.”

Richardson announced when leaving for Pyongyang on Tuesday that the delegation trip was not a Google trip, but rather a “humanitarian private visit.” He told reporters today that talks with officials on technology were “the most productive talks of the trip.”

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CES 2013: Hands-on with the Android-powered Archos GamePad (Video)

In August, Archos unveiled its Android 4.1-powered handheld gaming device dubbed the “GamePad.” Today, 9to5Google got a little of hands-on time with 7-inch slate equipped with physical, traditional game controls on the CES show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The $149 unit is currently selling in the European Union (Archos said response has been very positive) and will be making its way to the United States in the next couple of months. In the demo video above, Archos walked us through its built-in software for mapping virtual, on-screen controls to the GamePad’s hardware buttons, and it even works with Android apps that weren’t built to recognize hardware controllers.

Google invests $200M in renewable energy with 161-megawatt Texas wind farm

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Google just announced a $200 million equity investment in a west Texas wind farm that produces enough renewable energy to power roughly 60,000 average U.S. homes.

According to a post on the official Google Blog, Spinning Spur Wind Project will join Google’s 10 other renewable energy investments made since 2010:

Spinning Spur Wind Project is located in Oldham County, a wide open, windy section of the Texas Panhandle located about 35 miles from Amarillo. The 161 megawatt facility was built by renewable energy developer EDF Renewable Energy, a veteran in the industry that has overseen more than 50 other clean energy projects. Spinning Spur’s 70 2.3 MW Siemens turbines started spinning full time just before the end of the year, and the energy they create has been contracted to SPS, a utility that primarily serves Texas and New Mexico.

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$150 Pebble smartwatch to begin shipping Jan. 23


The makers of Pebble—the $150 Android and iPhone-compatible smartwatch that raised more than $10 million on Kickstarter— just announced at CES 2013 that it would finally begin shipping the device Jan. 23.

All 85,000 backers will receive their watches within six to eight weeks. Check out LiveStream to watch a replay of the entire announcement in Las Vegas.

9to5Google is live at CES 2013 and heard first-hand that the previously announced RunKeeper integration will not début on the initial product but will instead land in another one to two months. Also, a limited edition transparent Pebble will go to at least one backer.

Pebble uses low-energy Bluetooth to connect to an Android device, and it can send alerts, among many things, and includes light sensors, four buttons, a three-axis accelerometer with gesture detection, and a 144-by-168-pixel display in black and white ePaper.

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Samsung shows off 2013 Galaxy Camera accessories at CES


During IFA last year we showed you some of the accessories and future accessories launching alongside the Samsung Galaxy Camera. Today at the Las Vegas Convention Center Samsung was showing off its latest iterations of the accessories for the launch of the LTE variant on Verizon, as pictured in the gallery below: