Tuesday, 29 November 2011

In Google Street View you can see commercial shoot in progress

  Sometimes the timing of the Google Street View car is pretty cool. Take the following story from user "Highground3" in the Google Earth Community:
This is where a 2011 Lipitor commercial was filmed (the one where a cyclist starts off by watching cyclists zoom past him down a steep hill, and he remembers how when he was young that he didn't where a helmet)...what makes it most amazing is that the Google Street View crew were driving by on the very day of that shoot! Please view the Street Scene yourself...AMAZING...What are the odds? The two subsequent scenes were filmed just up the street and the final scene was filmed at the Knotts Berry Farm Boomerang rollercoaster. When viewing the commercial on television for the first time, the thought was simply, "Nice location...Wonder where that commercial was filmed?"...clearly it was somewhere in sunny southern California. Next thought?...See if it is possible to find it by using Google Earth. The location was found by quickly perusing Google Earth along the southern California coast until a likely match was made(primarily by correlating the pacific coastline shape and the circular water tanks in the background behind the cyclist as he talks to the camera). To make certain that it was indeed the correct location, the next step was to drop down to ground level with Street View to make verify the same view as in the commercial. To this browser's complete surprise, not only was this the correct location, but Street View cameras actually caught the commercial in the very act of being filmed!
That's a great find, Highground3! Below is a screenshot of the Street View, and you can view it for yourself in Google Earth by using this KMZ file to find the location, then diving into Street View mode. lipitor.jpg

Google Places Description Update

  As part of the changes to Google Places that took place in early August, Google’s Jeol Headley noted on Google + (in response to a question by Linda Buquet) that an update to a business’s description could take a long time. It appears possible that the alternate phone number field is under the same regime. Joel Headley – Aug 12 – Regarding the description not appearing — we did a change that forced descriptions to go through a longer update pipeline than other information on the Place page. So, just like a new listing that doesn’t appear in searches when they’re first added vi Google Places for business, description require a longer update. Linda – Aug 13 – So does that mean that if edited, a description will take 6 – 10 weeks to show up? Can you confirm that’s the current average update cycle? Joel Headley – Aug 13 – That’s is correct. We’re working on improve the update cycle now, though. I was curious exactly how long it would take so I made minor changes on August 16th to my description and started tracking. So as not to have to visit my Place page every day, I set up an Page2RSS feed of the Place page that showed any changes to the page directly in my email InBox where I could take a quick peek to see what was new. (The Page2RSS  set-up also spots new reviews, sentiment snippet changes and other updates but it generates a lot noise and gibberish every day). So how long did it take? My changes finally showed up on October 4th, exactly 7 weeks to the day after the change was made to the description content. So the question is what is the Google filter  for that Joel H speaks of? And why does it take so long? We know that if Google wants to a change to a Places page that new content can show up almost immediately (think the “Share an update on your place page” feature). My guess is that in addition to running the description through some sort of quality assessment Google added a time delay to slow down abuses by black hat local SEOs. I doubt that many legitimate businesses are negatively affected by the change. Once the description goes live, most SMBs change it infrequently if at all. If you are doing Places on behalf of a client, the only negative is that it is necessary to let them know of the delay.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Garmin customers giving thanks

  We love hearing from thankful customers who had a life-changing or life-saving experience with their Garmin device. Take a minute to read this email we received on August 11 from SSG Kyle Dorsch. We’re pretty certain Kyle’s story ranks as one of the most thank-filled ones we’ve heard yet. P8090997-sm Platoon-smMy name is SSG Kyle Dorsch. I'm a Reconnaissance team leader in the 2-30 Infantry Battalion, 10th Mountain Division, and I'm currently deployed to the Logar province of Afghanistan. I have used my Garmin eTrex Vista H all throughout my deployment and needless to say, it has been a lifesaver in more than a literal sense. In fact, there isn't a leader in our establishment without a Garmin product. Not only has my GPS guided me and my four-man team seamlessly through some of the toughest areas of Afghanistan, but it has also literally saved my life. I'm sure you have heard by now that there was a downed Chinook in the Wardak province of Afghanistan, resulting in the largest loss of life during Operation Enduring Freedom. When the helicopter was downed, my scout platoon, along with other 2-30 assists, was called to assist in the security and recovery of the crash site. We provided the back stop for the security teams by occupying a patrol base and beginning a five-day long operation. During one of the many engagements my platoon and I were involved in, I was struck by an incoming bullet. Garmin-smMy Garmin took the blunt of the impact, deflecting the round and saving my life. My Garmin pouch is located just over the upper left portion of my chest. If my Garmin had not been there, I am certain I wouldn't be sending you this e-mail now. All in all, I just wanted to say thank you for making such an outstanding, reliable and DURABLE product! I look forward to the purchase of my next Garmin product and for it to take me through the rest of my deployment. Once again, your product is an absolute lifesaver! Thank you again.

Street View in Belgium

Belgium may be a small country but it’s big on culture with more than 300 castles, 40 UNESCO World Heritage sites, 200 museums, 500 types of beer and 2000 chocolate shops. Today we are opening up our beautiful sites to users all over the world as we launch the country at the centre of Europe on Street View. In the heart of the capital, Brussels, you can now take a virtual stroll around the famous Grand Place which houses the town hall, markets, cafes, museums and the magnificent flower carpet.

Belgium was one of the founding members of the European Union and Brussels is home to many EU and international headquarters. You can now explore the area around the European Parliament and the European Commission.

Beyond Brussels is a world of landscapes, castles and stone-built villages. From the scenic town centre of Bruges to the castles of Bouillon, Belgium’s magnificent sites are now available for all via the Street View feature of Google Maps. Imagery of the historic battlefield of Waterloo is also now available, where the fate of Europe was defined almost 200 years ago.

We’re thrilled to be releasing the imagery of our small yet fascinating country, known by connoisseurs to be Europe's best hidden secret. As we continue to expand Street View, we look forward to bringing many more European countries for you to explore.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Google Cloud Storage is out of Code Labs

Google Storage for Developers is now out of Code Labs, and has a new name: Google Cloud Storage. In addition, we're also happy to announce some new features, and a significant price reduction. App Engine File API Support When we opened the service to all this summer, many of our customers asked for an easier way to use Google Cloud Storage with their App Engine applications. In response to your feedback, you can now read and write your data via the App Engine Files API, enabling you to quickly build your content management tools, data sharing applications, web games and more using the powerful combination of App Engine and Cloud Storage. This feature is experimental and currently Python-only, but we’re working on adding Java support and additional features. Usage Information We’re introducing a new API that gives you access to detailed usage information (including network access and storage use data). You can use this feature to analyze your usage, integrate with your analysis systems and build your own value-added applications using Google Cloud Storage. This feature is currently experimental. Lower Prices We're no longer charging for upload bandwidth into the Google cloud. In addition, we’re lowering our prices across the board and introducing volume discounts for our larger users. We are committed to offering an extremely high quality of service to all our customers. As the product has evolved, we’ve found ways to offer the same great service at a lower cost, so now our prices are lower too. For example, under our new prices, a customer storing a hundred terabytes of data, reading twenty terabytes and writing ten terabytes a month would pay approximately 40% less a month. The difference is even greater for customers with higher usage. Our new prices are retroactive to the beginning of October. Please see our updated pricing here. As always, we welcome your feedback in our discussion group. If you haven’t yet tried Google Cloud Storage, you can sign up and get started here.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

The National Cyber Security Awareness Month 2011

On the Internet, as with the offline world, the choices we make often have an impact on others. The links we share and the sites we visit can affect our security and sometimes introduce risk for people we know. Given how quickly our collective use of technology is evolving, it’s useful to periodically remind ourselves of practices that can help us achieve a more secure and enjoyable online experience. This month, Google once again joins the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), government agencies, corporations, schools and non-profit organizations in recognizing National Cyber Security Awareness Month. It’s a time for us to offer education that increases online security for everyone. It’s fitting that the theme of this year’s Cyber Security Awareness Month is “Our Shared Responsibility.” With ever-increasing ways to access the web and share information, we need to focus on keeping our activities secure. In that spirit, and to help kick off Cyber Security Awareness Month, we’re introducing a new Google Security Center. The Security Center is full of practical tips and information to help people stay safe online, from choosing a secure password to using 2-step verification and avoiding phishing sites and malware. We also continue to develop products and services that help people protect their information online. Examples that have stood out so far this year include the Chromebook, 2-step verification in 40 languages, and Chrome browser warnings for malicious downloads and out-of-date plugins, among others. We develop free products and tools such as DOM Snitch, a Chrome extension that helps developers identify insecure code. We recognize the importance of security education and are committed to helping make your online experience both exciting and safe to use. We all have a responsibility to take steps to protect ourselves and together develop a culture of security. We encourage everyone to Stop. Think. Connect.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Google Cloud SQL: your database in the cloud

  One of App Engine’s most requested features has been a simple way to develop traditional database-driven applications. In response to your feedback, we’re happy to announce the limited preview of Google Cloud SQL. You can now choose to power your App Engine applications with a familiar relational database in a fully-managed cloud environment. This allows you to focus on developing your applications and services, free from the chores of managing, maintaining and administering relational databases. Google Cloud SQL brings many benefits to the App Engine community:
  • No maintenance or administration - we manage the database for you.
  • High reliability and availability - your data is replicated synchronously to multiple data centers. Machine, rack and data center failures are handled automatically to minimize end-user impact.
  • Familiar MySQL database environment with JDBC support (for Java-based App Engine applications) and DB-API support (for Python-based App Engine applications).
  • Comprehensive user interface for administering databases.
  • Simple and powerful integration with Google App Engine.
The service includes database import and export functionality, so you can move your existing MySQL databases to the cloud and use them with App Engine. Cloud SQL is available free of charge for now, and we will publish pricing at least 30 days before charging for it. The service will continue to evolve as we work out the kinks during the preview, but let us know if you’d like to take it for a spin.

The QualityBots

Are you a website developer that wants to know if Chrome updates will break your website before they reach the stable release channel? Have you ever wished there was an easy way to compare how your website appears in all channels of Chrome? Now you can! QualityBots is a new open source tool for web developers created by the Web Testing team at Google. It’s a comparison tool that examines web pages across different Chrome channels using pixel-based DOM analysis. As new versions of Chrome are pushed, QualityBots serves as an early warning system for breakages. Additionally, it helps developers quickly and easily understand how their pages appear across Chrome channels.
QualityBots is built on top of Google AppEngine for the frontend and Amazon EC2 for the backend workers that crawl the web pages. Using QualityBots requires an Amazon EC2 account to run the virtual machines that will crawl public web pages with different versions of Chrome. The tool provides a web frontend where users can log on and request URLs that they want to crawl, see the results from the latest run on a dashboard, and drill down to get detailed information about what elements on the page are causing the trouble. Developers and testers can use these results to identify sites that need attention due to a high amount of change and to highlight the pages that can be safely ignored when they render identically across Chrome channels. This saves time and the need for tedious compatibility testing of sites when nothing has changed. We hope that interested website developers will take a deeper look and even join the project at the QualityBots project page.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

OnTheFly™ 1.2 for Android

Google released the latest version of OnTheFly™, our airfare shopping mobile app, for Android. One of the new features in v1.2 is flexible date search, which enables you to browse 35 days of potential departure dates on a calendar combined with an interactive “temperature” graph.
You can also save and access search history now, including particular itineraries of interest. We’ll even check price changes for those itineraries so you can know the best time to plan that dream trip. If you haven’t already tried OnTheFly, you can download it for free from Android Market or the App Store. OnTheFly for use with BlackBerry (OS 4.6+) can be accessed at http://bbmatrix.itasoftware.com.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Identifying Learning Benefits of Google Earth Tours

  It is always nice to announce good news. Back in February, together with [Muki Haklay at UCL], I submitted an application to the Google’s Faculty Research Award program for a grant to investigate Google Earth Tours in education. We were successful in getting a grant worth $86,883 USD. The project builds on Muki's expertise in usability studies of geospatial technologies, including the use of eye tracking and other usability engineering techniques for GIS and my expertise in Google Earth tours and education, and longstanding interest in usability issues. Job Offer: In this joint UCL/Southampton project, UCL will be lead partner and we will appoint a junior researcher for a year to develop run experiments that will help us in understanding of the effectiveness of Google Earth Tours in geographical learning, and we aim to come up with guidelines to their use. If you are interested, get in contact with Muki. Our main contact at Google for the project is Ed Parsons. We were also helped by Tina Ornduff and Sean Askay who acted as referees for the proposal. The core question that we want to address is “How can Google Earth Tours be used create an effective learning experience?” So what do we plan to do? Previous research on Google Earth Tours (GETs) has shown them to be an effective visualization technique for teaching geographical concepts, yet their use in this way is essentially passive. Active learning is a successful educational approach where student activity is combined with instruction to enhance learning. In the proposal we suggest that there is great education value in combining the advantages of the rich visualization of GETs with student activities. Evaluating the effectiveness of this combination is the purpose of the project, and we plan to do this by creating educational materials that consist of GETs and activities and testing them against other versions of the materials using student tests, eye tracking and questionnaires as data gathering techniques. We believe that by improving the techniques by which spatial data is visualized we are improving spatial information access overall. Related Project: A nice aspect of the getting the project funded is that it works well with a project that is led by Claire Ellul and Kate Jones and funded by JISC. The G3 project, or “Bridging the Gaps between the GeoWeb and GIS is touching on similar aspects and we surely going to share knowledge with them.  

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The EU Hackathon, sounds from space

Hackathons are a blast. There are few experiences better than writing code all night with dozens or hundreds of others, consuming free food, and converting that sweet sleep deprivation into creativity as you hack. As hackathons go, this one is spectacular: Hack4Transparency takes place in Brussels at the European Parliament. The goal of this event is to make data more accessible and intelligible to consumers and to government.
You expect food and WiFi at a hackathon. But this is really cool: if you’re selected to attend, the hackathon pays your travel and accommodation expenses, and a couple of the best hacks will win a prize of €3.000. If that got your attention, read the full story on our Open Source Blog, and then apply to attend. When I was a wee hacker, I would sometimes break up my coding sessions with a primitive videogame called Pong. Physicists at Cambridge University are still playing this game, sort of, except now they’re knocking a single electron back and forth. As if that Pong ball wasn’t small and easy to miss enough already. Finally, if you have some time this weekend and you’re not coding or playing video games, you can check out this excellent collection of sounds from spaceflights posted by NASA. You can even make them into ringtones, so if you want to hear a 50-year-old Sputnik beep when your friends call, go for it.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Google Apps highlights

It’s back-to-school season, and we’ve made Gmail, Google Docs, Calendar and Sites easier to use and more powerful for students and non-students alike—including some important accessibility improvements to help blind users be productive in our apps. Multiple sign-in and other new preferences in Gmail for mobile On Wednesday, we added some helpful new features for people who use Gmail on a mobile browser. You can now sign in to more than one Gmail account at a time, and toggle between them easily from the account switcher menu at the bottom of the mobile inbox. This can be a good time saver if you have multiple accounts or share a mobile device with family members. Gmail for mobile also now enables you to set up mobile-specific email signatures and create vacation responders right from your phone to let people know when you won't be available by email.
Calling credit auto-recharge Now you can automatically add international calling credits for phone calls in Gmail when your balance gets low. Just visit the "Billing" area of the Google Voice settings page and click "Add credit" to put your account on cruise control.
Allow people to comment but not edit in documents Sometimes, you might find yourself in situations when you’d like to share a document for feedback, but don’t want to make the document's content fully editable. The comment-only level of access launched last week is a nice option for these scenarios. You can let others discuss and add their thoughts to your document—without allowing them to change your work. You can allow document comments from specific individuals or groups, from anyone belonging your organization or from the general public.
Format painter, Fusion Tables, drag & drop images and vertical cell merge Comment-only access isn't all that we've added to Google Docs over the last few weeks. Other notable improvements include a text format painter in documents, which is a fast way to copy and paste font, size, color and other text styling. Spreadsheets now support vertically merged cells (in addition to horizontal merges). In drawings, you can drag images from your desktop to the drawing canvas, then continue editing your graphic. We also added Fusion Tables as a new document type in the documents list. Fusion Tables are a powerful way to gather, visualize and collaborate on large data sets that might be unwieldy in a typical spreadsheet.
Fusion Table data visualized on an interactive map
Accessibility improvements in Google Calendar, Docs and Sites We think technology can do a better job getting out of people’s way and helping you be more productive with less complexity and fewer frustrations. In this spirit, we’ve recently made a series of improvements to make our applications more accessible to blind users. We have more work to do, but Google Calendar, Docs and Sites now offer better support for screen readers and improved keyboard shortcuts. We hope these changes make our applications more useful to all users. Who’s gone Google? Organizations are moving to Google Apps for a diverse set of reasons—including cost savings, streamlined teamwork and better mobile access. We’ve even started hearing from schools and businesses who have made the switch to reduce their impact on the environment. No two organizations choose Google Apps for the exact same reasons, but in total, the momentum of Google Apps keeps growing. We recently shared the news that 61 of the top 100 universities ranked by U.S. News and World Report have gone Google. On the business side, there are now more than 4 million companies using Google Apps, and businesses are joining at a rate of over 5,000 per day. In all, there are more than 40 million users that regularly use Google Apps in their organizations. I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog.

Saturday, 12 November 2011


Burp's mission is to help you find the best restaurants for specific types of dish. Currently Burp has four Google Maps, two maps showing the restaurants serving the best burgers in the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas and two maps showing the restaurants serving the best Ramen in the same two areas. After clicking on a restaurant map marker you can click through to read other users' reviews of the restaurant, the restaurant's Yelp rating, the number of Facebook 'likes' and the number of foursquare check-ins.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

The Google Top Contributors

You heard a lot of enthusiastic cries of recognition at the Global Top Contributor Summit, as Googlers and members of our Top Contributor program got to leave their laptops behind and meet one another face to face. This two-day event held in and around our headquarters in Mountain View brought together some of our most prolific and knowledgeable users from the Google product forums for the first time. Top Contributors are the folks you may know by “bkc56” in the Gmail forum, “Noisette” in the Google Earth forum and “theylmdl” in the German Webmaster forum—Google users who volunteer their time to help others with questions and troubleshooting issues. We began the program in 2005 to support this important group, and today there are more than 350 Top Contributors who are active in our forums. They also give Google teams important feedback to help shape the development of our products. In short, they’re some of Google’s most passionate users, and we wanted to take the time to share our appreciation.
TCs from the AdSense, Gmail and Webmaster forums hang out with Googlers (in red)
At the summit, more than 250 Top Contributors joined us from around the world, representing 40+ product forums in 20+ languages. To see just how global this amazing bunch is, check out the map we set up to showcase their hometowns:
At the event, our Top Contributors met with Google engineers who demo’ed upcoming features, giving them the unique opportunity to give feedback and ask questions. This was also an opportunity for our Top Contributors to meet each other, and make a new friend or two.
Bottom right: TC treebles, as he’s known in the Maps and Places for business forums, talks with the custom maps team
We hope this summit gave our Top Contributors more insight into how Google works and expressed just how much we appreciate their help and dedication. In fact, they’re such a dedicated bunch that some of the Top Contributors were even spotted during the summit answering forum questions. To see them in action, head on over to the Google product forums.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Google Places: Now Permanently Closed with 2 clicks

  Last Monday, the NY Times ran an article about how easy it was to mark businesses as either “reported to be closed” or “permanently closed” in Google Places. There had also been reports at the time that Google was actually sending out an email to claimed businesses that were marked as “permanently closed” although not to businesses”reported as closed”. The article in the Times occurred after months of reports of businesses being closed by competitors. Barbara Oliver & Co. Jewelry and Google in Mt. View both suffered the same fate (although for different reasons ;) ). Shortly after the article appeared in the Times, Google apologized and noted that a fix was imiminent saying “These improvements will be implemented in the coming days”. I was curious what “coming days” meant. This time, rather than experimenting on Google’s Places Listing, I experimented on my own listing at our main office in Bradford Pa. Yesterday at about noon, my listing was reported as closed. The first click was from my desktop in Olean. Neither click was local to Bradford as my IP shows as Buffalo which is 70 miles away. (Update 11:30 I have just learned that my DC connection was asleep at the wheel and clicked the wrong business.) It turns out that this business was “permanently closed” with ONE CLICK. Within 12 hours of the second report that the office was marked as “permanently closed”. It was not just marked as “reported to be closed” but “permanently closed” and no email notification was sent to the claiming business owner (me). Things seem to have gotten worse NOT better. The listing did not enter an intermediate state of “reported as closed” and the business received no notification email.This is a business that has been claimed and active on Google Places long before it was known as Google Places. It is a business that has been at the same address since our founding in 2001. Because I had been receiving so many media inquiries about the problem, I contacted Google last weekend to see if the problem had been fixed yet. I was hoping to be able to tell the media that Google had responded in the promised timeframe. Here is Google’s response (bold mine): I heard from Ethan that you’d inquired about the changes being made to our system to prevent malicious or incorrect labeling. We’re still working on the labeling improvements regarding this issue, and are constantly working on ways to improve our system on an ongoing basis. Thanks for following up, and have a great weekend, Deanna Rant coming…. I thought “coming days” meant coming days. I understand that PR folks play with words but when a Senior Product Manager, signs a blog post saying “coming days”, I assumed he meant less than a week. It has now been more than a week. In fact it has been almost 9 days. Obviously the problem still exists and is at least as bad and perhaps worse. And now all that Google is promising is a fix no more substantial than “labeling improvements”. Silly me. Is three and a half weeks from when Google learned about the problem adequate to fix a problem of this magnitude? What does “coming days” mean? Not coming weeks, not the future, not next month but “coming days”. Was it an intentionally vague phrase that was meant to imply one thing but actually mean another? Is that acceptable? For that matter did Google really find out about this problem just “two weeks ago, [when] news in the blogosphere made us aware that abuse… was occurring”? Was their fist inkling when I reported on it? Really? And the final question. What does it mean when Google says We’re still working on the labeling improvements regarding this issue? Labeling issues? Hello? I come from a world where people say what they mean and mean what they say. Maybe I am just naive but I am having a hard time reconciling these events with reality.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Circuit boards with SketchUp and the PCB Converter

In the world of electronics, designing a stylish, functional and ergonomic product casing around a complex circuit board—with its chips, connectors, buttons and displays—is a critical step. As it turns out, SketchUp can help in this process. Recently, RS Components (Europe's leading high-service distributor of electronic components) developed the PCB Converter plugin for SketchUp. Its function is to convert IDF files from most 2D circuit board design applications (like their own DesignSpark PCB) to COLLADA, which SketchUp can read and write.
The PCB Converter plugin converts IDF v3.0 circuit files into COLLADA that can be brought into SketchUp to validate for proper fitting.
  Mark Cundle of RS Components was good enough to help explain how the PCB Converter can help in the design process: In the typical electronic product design process, the mechanical engineer defines the board shape, specifies important regions and pre-places critical components such as connectors, switches and displays in a 3D MCAD system. This information is passed to the circuit designer via an IDF file to be used as the basis for the board layout in a 2D ECAD system to create the circuit board (PCB) design. The PCB is sent back to the mechanical engineer as an IDF file to ensure the board assembly fits into the final product package. The design can go back and forth between the mechanical engineer and the circuit designer many times until the PCB is finalized. IDF is therefore extremely important for electronic product design and becoming more so as increasing miniaturisation of electronic products means spatial constraints are of growing importance and the link between electronic and mechanical engineers strengthens. An electronic (PCB) engineer using SketchUp in conjunction with the PCB Converter for SketchUp can decrease the number of time-consuming interactions with the mechanical engineer by doing a much of the groundwork (such as checking potential collisions with mechanical components) before sending the final board design to the mechanical engineer. The collaborative process becomes much more efficient and productive for both parties, which allows for faster development. RC Components’ intention is to lower the monetary barrier to innovation by providing tools like PCB Converter and DesignSpark PCB. Hobbyists, students and seasoned professionals can create products from board design through to mechanical design at little or no cost.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The infinite digital bookcase

As digital designers, we often think about how to translate traditional media into a virtual space. Recently, we thought about the bookcase. What would it look like if it was designed to hold digital books? A digital interface needs to be familiar enough to be intuitive, while simultaneously taking advantage of the lack of constraints in a virtual space. In this case, we imagined something that looks like the shelves in your living room, but is also capable of showcasing the huge number of titles available online—many more than fit on a traditional shelf. With this in mind, we designed a digital bookcase that’s an infinite 3D helix. You can spin it side-to-side and up and down with your mouse. It holds 3D models of more than 10,000 titles from Google Books. The books are organized into 28 subjects. To choose a subject, click the subject button near the top of your screen when viewing the bookcase. The camera then flies to that subject. Clicking on a book pulls it off the shelf and brings it to the front and center of the screen. Click on the high-resolution cover and the book will open to a page with title and author information as well as a short synopsis, provided by the Google Books API. All of the visuals are rendered with WebGL, a technology in Google Chrome and other modern browsers that enables fast, hardware-accelerated 3D graphics right in the browser, without the need for a plug-in. If you’ve finished your browsing and find a book you want to read, you can click the “Get this book” button on the bottom right of the page, which will send you to that book’s page on books.google.com. Or, you can open the title on your phone or tablet via the QR code that’s in the bottom left corner of the page, using a QR code app like Google Goggles. You can also browse just free books by selecting the “Free Books” subject in the subject viewer. Bookworms using a modern browser can try the WebGL Bookcase today. We recommend using Google Chrome and a fast computer with a powerful graphics card. Even with new hardware, this interface is experimental and may not work on some machines. For more creative browser experiments, check out Chrome Experiments, a gallery of more than 300 creative projects made by developers and artists from around the world, many utilizing WebGL.

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