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Google

Google To Offer Better Medical Advice When You Search Your Symptoms (cnbc.com) 102

An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNBC: Google said Monday that it will be improving its catalog of searched Googled health symptoms by adding information on related health conditions that have been vetted by the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Medical School. For example, if you type "headache on one side," Google will offer up a list of associated conditions like "migraine," "common cold" or "tension headache." When it comes to general searches like "headache," the company will also give an overview description along with information on self-treatment options or symptoms that warrant a doctor's visit. In Google's official blog post, the company said roughly 1 percent of the searches on Google, which equates to millions of searches, are related to symptoms users are researching. However, search results can be confusing, and result in "unnecessary anxiety and stress," Google said. It plans to use its Knowledge Graph feature, which contains high-quality medical information collected from doctors, to enhance search results.
Google

Google Announces Support of the Controversial TPP (recode.net) 231

An anonymous reader writes: Google has announced in a blog post Friday their support for the controversial Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP). Recode reports: "The trade agreement includes key provisions about the global passage of digital data, intellectual property and copyright -- measures that have drawn criticism from both the political right and left, including several outspoken tech groups. Google's endorsement isn't exactly full-throated, but its stake clearly demonstrates another key area of support with the Obama administration, to which Google is close." Google's SVP and general counsel Kent Walker wrote: "The TPP is not perfect, and the trade negotiation process would certainly benefit from greater transparency. We will continue to advocate for process reforms, including the opportunity for all stakeholders to have a meaningful opportunity for input into trade negotiations." The company has already shown support of the TPP behind the Internet Association, which endorsed the trade agreement in March. Google joins a list of other tech titans, like Apple and Microsoft, who have shown their support as well. The Electronic Frontier Foundation calls the TPP a "secretive, multinational trade agreement" that will restrict IP laws and enforce digital policies that "benefit big corporations at the expense of the public." The TPP is still awaiting congressional approval after being signed in February.
Medicine

Microsoft Analyzes Web Searches, Finds Clues For Early Cancer Detection (computerworld.com) 73

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Computerworld: Analyzing online activities can provide clues as to a person's chances of having cancer, Microsoft researchers showed in a paper published this week. Specifically, the researchers demonstrated that by analyzing web query logs they were able to identify internet users who had pancreatic cancer even before they'd been diagnosed. The study suggest that "low-cost, high-coverage surveillance systems" can be created to passively observe search behavior and to provide early warning for pancreatic cancer, and with extension of the methodology, for other challenging cancers," the researchers concluded. "Surveillance systems could also provide for automated capture and summarization of data and landmarks over time so as to provide patients with talking points in their discussion with medical professionals." The researchers used proprietary logs of 9.2 million web queries on Microsoft's own Bing search engine but focused exclusively on English-speaking people in the U.S. from October 2013 to May 2015. First, the team identified searchers in logs of online search activity who made "special queries" that are suggestive of a recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Those queries included phrases such as "Why did I get cancer in pancreas," and "I was told I have pancreatic cancer, what to expect." The team then went back "many months" before the initial queries were made to examine patterns of symptoms as they were expressed by web searches about pancreatic cancer symptoms. "We showed specifically that we can identify 5% to 15% of cases, while preserving extremely low false-positive rates," the researchers said in their paper. The false positives ranged from one in 10,000 to one in 100,000.
Censorship

There's No Evidence That Google Is Manipulating Searches To Help Hillary Clinton (vox.com) 142

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Vox: A recent report via SourceFed surfaced suggesting that Google is suppressing the phrase "Hillary Clinton crimes" from autocomplete results, thus helping her candidacy. In the video, it shows that if you type "Donald Trump rac," Google will suggest the word "racist" to complete the phrase. However, if you type "Hillary Clinton cri," Google will suggest "crime reform" and "crisis" but not "crimes," despite the fact that Google Trend results show that people search for "Hillary Clinton crimes" a lot more than "Hillary Clinton crime reform." The video suggests some sort of reliance between the Clinton campaign and Eric Schmidt. But Vox reports there's a simpler explanation: "Choose any famous American who has been accused of a serious crime and Google their name followed by the letters "cri," and in no case does Google suggest the word "crimes." Apparently, Google has a policy of not suggesting that customers do searches on people's crimes. I have no inside knowledge of why it runs its search engine this way. Maybe Google is just uncomfortable with having an algorithm suggesting that people search for other people's crimes. In any event, there's no evidence that this is specific to Hillary Clinton, and therefore no reason to think this is a conspiracy by Google to help Clinton win the election." Earlier this week, Julian Assange stated Google is "directly engaged" with the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton. It goes hand-in-hand with SourceFed's report, as they both mention Eric Schmidt's role in helping the Clinton campaign. Assange said, "The chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, set up a company to run the digital component of Hillary Clinton's campaign."
Patents

Yahoo Preps Auction For 3,000 Patents Worth $1 Billion (arstechnica.com) 66

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Wall Street Journal reports that bids are being accepted for nearly 3,000 Yahoo patents and pending applications. In April, Yahoo moved 2,659 patents into a patent-holding company called Excalibur IP LLC, which was seen as a first step toward a patent sale. "This represents a unique opportunity for companies operating in the Internet industry to acquire some of the most pioneering and foundational patents related to Web search and advertising," Yahoo said in a statement. Those invited to join the auction include "strategic buyers, private-equity firms, and investment firms focused on intellectual property," according to the Journal. Preliminary bids are due by the middle of this month, and the patents are expected to fetch more than $1 billion, according to "people familiar with the matter" who spoke to the Journal. Bloomberg, which also reported on the patent sale, said there was no official reserve price or bidding guidelines. Yesterday, Verizon submitted a $3 billion bid for Yahoo's core internet business. The sale will include 500 U.S. patents and more than 600 pending applications, but will not include the larger collection of patents going in the patent sale.
Google

Google Boosts Mobile Web Speed On Apple Devices With Accelerated Mobile Pages (fortune.com) 28

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: The Google iOS app for devices like the iPhone and iPad now supports the search giant's Accelerated Mobile Pages project, created to increase the loading times of news articles on the Internet. Now when users search for news from their Apple devices using the Google app, they should see streamlined news articles from media companies like The Washington Post that chose to participate in Google's web project. The AMP project is a Google-led initiative to standardize the software code behind each news article on the mobile web. AMP was designed to remove years of accumulated software code that has built up on online publishers' websites. As of Friday, iOS users should see a lightning bolt graphic and the letters "AMP" next to news articles from participating publishers in the "Top Stories" section of their search results in the Google app.
Google

Google Built an Escape Room, Making People Use Its Apps To Get Out (adweek.com) 50

An anonymous reader writes: Google France has built an escape room created by We Are Social, called "Premiere Piece," that will open in the heart of Paris. Adweek writes: "The campaign builds on the escape room trend, in which you and a bunch of friends pay to get locked in a room for an hour or two, left to solve puzzles and work in collaboration to find a way out. In 40 minutes, you must solve puzzles with help from apps like Search, Maps, Translate, Photos, Art and Culture and Cardboard, all of which are integrated into the gameplay. In Premiere Piece, visitors must help save a crew of digital artists locked in a workshop, so they can present their painstaking work at an art center in Paris. By working together, participants must unlock an object that completes their masterpiece." Google France was in the news recently for being raided by investigators for unpaid taxes.
Google

Google Now Handles At Least 2 Trillion Searches Per Year (searchengineland.com) 31

Danny Sullivan, reporting for Search Engine Land: How many searches per year happen on Google? After nearly four years, the company has finally released an updated figure today of "trillions" per year. How many trillions, exactly, Google wouldn't say. Consider two trillion the starting point. Google did confirm to Search Engine Land that because it said it handles "trillions" of searches per year worldwide, the figure could be safely assumed to be two trillion or above. Is it more than two trillion? Google could be doing five trillion searches per year. Or 10 trillion. Or 100 trillion. Or presumably up to 999 trillion, because if it were 1,000 trillion, you'd expect Google would announce that it does a quadrillion searches per year.
Cloud

Google Turns Firebase Into Its Unified Platform For Mobile Developers (techcrunch.com) 11

An anonymous reader writes: Google has announced a plethora of new features to Firebase, its cloud services provider that mobile developers can use to power their apps. TechCrunch reports: "In its previous incarnation, Firebase was somewhat similar to Facebook's now-defunct Parse in that it offered a database service, user authentication features and hosting tools. In this new version, Firebase takes many of Google's existing developer tools, like Google Cloud Messaging, and combines them with new and existing Firebase services. With this update, Google is turning Firebase into a unified app platform for its now 470,000 developers on the service (up from 110,000 when it acquired Firebase)." The new Firebase features deeply integrated analytics services, allowing developers to track specific parts of their apps with fine-grained events. Firebase can build audience segments and allow developers to analyze their behavior in even more detail than before, and view how their advertising campaigns are performing. With these audience segments, developers can make remote configuration changes in apps and take advantage of Firebase's new notifications system. This feature is based on Google Cloud Messaging, which is now changing its name to Firebase Cloud Messaging. Google is offering all Firebase users free and unlimited notifications with support for iOS, Android and the Web. They're also integrating its Cloud Test Lab into Firebase for testing mobile apps on real hardware, renaming it the Firebase Test Lab. Other new features include crash reporting, the ability to create dynamic deep links into your app, Firebase Invites for allowing app users to share referral codes, Firebase App Indexing for bringing app content into Google Search, and integration with Google's AdWords and AdMob advertising platforms. Last but not least, Google is introducing new pricing plans for Firebase, including a new free plan, a fixed-rate plan, and a pay-as-you go plan.
Google

Google Launches 'Gboard' Keyboard For iOS, Featuring Built-In Google Search (techcrunch.com) 47

An anonymous reader writes: Google launched a new keyboard application called "Gboard" for iOS today that features Google Search built-in to the keyboard itself. In addition, it offers swipe-based typing and access to GIFs, as well as some basic features like emojis and word predictions. The "G" icon in the upper lefthand corner opens a window for you to search Google without leaving the keyboard and launching a browser or the Google app. From there you can search for things like flight times, news articles, restaurant and business listings, weather and more, and paste that information into your chat with a single tap. The information is presented in a card-style layout. "We wanted to bring the best of Google to Gboard, so you'll see Maps, Translate, image and video search, News and others," says Rajan Patel, head of the product team that developed Gboard. "Initially, Gboard will not surface any information specific to you," he added, hinting that a personalized keyboard is in the works for the future.
Firefox

Mozilla Launches Test Pilot, A Firefox Add-On For Trying Experimental Features (thenextweb.com) 53

An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Test Pilot, a program for trying out experimental Firefox features. To try the new functionality Mozilla is offering for its browser, you have to download a Firefox add-on from testpilot.firefox.com and enable an experiment. The main caveat is that experiments are currently only available in English (though Mozilla promises to add more languages "later this year"). Test Pilot was first introduced for Firefox 3.5, but the new program has been revamped since then, featuring three main components: Activity Stream, Tab Center and Universal Search. Activity Stream is designed to help you navigate your browsing history faster, surfacing your top sites along with highlights from your browsing history and bookmarks. Tab Center displays open tabs vertically along the side of your screen. Mozilla says Universal Search "combines the Awesome Bar history with the Firefox Search drop down menu to give you the best recommendations so you can spend less time sifting through search results and more time enjoying the web."
Communications

Panama Papers Affair Widens As Database Goes Online (bbc.com) 100

In late April, it was reported there would be a huge new 'Panama Papers' data dump on May 9th. The report did not disappoint as today the Panama Papers affair has widened, with a huge database of documents relating to more than 200,000 offshore accounts posted online. The database can be accessed at offshoreleaks.icij.org. The papers were leaked by a source known as "Jony Doe," and the papers belonged to the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) decided to make the database public despite a "cease and desist" order issued by the law firm.
Google

Google Testing a Radical Change By Turning People's Search Results Black (telegraph.co.uk) 107

Google may have plans to do a visual tweak to its search results. The company appears to be testing black search result links since the weekend, according to multiple reports. While some users are pleased with this tweak, many users have already posted their grievances on Google help forums. Some users note that it has become hard to tell which links they have already clicked. The Telegraph reports: Google puts a lot of thought into the exact colours it uses in its services -- and for a good reason. A few years ago its A/B test of different shades of blue -- nicknamed "50 shades of blue" -- earned the company an extra $200 million (£138 million). Designers at Google couldn't decide between two different blues, so they decided to test 41 shades between each blue to see which users preferred. In the test, Google showed each shade to one per cent of its users, and found that users were more likely to click on a slightly more purple shade.
Open Source

DuckDuckGo Is Giving Away $225,000 To Support Open Source Projects (businessinsider.com) 62

An anonymous reader writes: Google Search competitor DuckDuckGo announced it will be giving away a total of $225,000 to support nine open source projects, each project will receive $25,000. DuckDuckGo said it performed 3 billion searches in 2015. It differs from many other search engines as it offers private, anonymous internet search. It doesn't gather information about you to sell ads to marketeers, like Google. Instead, it shows generic ads as it's part of the Microsoft/Bing/Yahoo ad network. It also has revenue-sharing agreements with certain companies in the Linux Open Source worlds, and makes money from select affiliate links. The $225,000 DuckDuckGo is giving away is chump change compared to the $100 million Google gives away in grants ever year. However, for the select projects, it should still be very beneficial. Last year, DuckDuckGo gave away a total of $125,000 to open source projects, so it's nice to see them donate an extra $100,000 to a good cause.
Biotech

In Search Of A Healthy Gut, One Man Turned To An Extreme DIY Fecal Transplant (theverge.com) 136

Josiah Zayner writes: Arielle Duhaime-Ross at The Verge followed Dr. Josiah Zayner, a former Scientist at NASA turned BioHacker, as he attempted the first ever full-body microbiome transplant. She writes "Over the course of the next four days, Zayner would attempt to eradicate the trillions of microbes that lived on and inside his body -- organisms that helped him digest food, produce vitamins and enzymes, and protected his body from other, more dangerous bacteria. Ruthlessly and methodically, he would try to render himself into a biological blank slate. Then, he would inoculate himself with a friend's microbes -- a procedure he refers to as a 'microbiome transplant.'".

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