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Earthquake detection and early alerts, now on your Android phoneEarthquake detection and early alerts, now on your Android phone

GoogleBlog - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 08:00

Earthquakes happen daily around the world, with hundreds of millions of people living in earthquake prone regions.  An early warning can help people prepare for shaking, but the public infrastructure to detect and alert everyone about an earthquake is costly to build and deploy.  We saw an opportunity to use Android to provide people with timely, helpful earthquake information when they search, as well as a few seconds warning to get themselves and their loved ones to safety if needed.  

Sending earthquake alerts to Android devices in California

First, we collaborated with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to send earthquake alerts, powered by ShakeAlert®, directly to Android devices in California. 

Developed by the nation’s leading seismologists, the ShakeAlert system uses signals from more than 700 seismometers installed across the state by USGS, Cal OES, University of California Berkeley, and the California Institute of Technology. A few seconds of warning can make a difference in giving you time to drop, cover, and hold on before the shaking arrives.

Related: 5 new things your Android phone can do

Building the world’s largest earthquake detection network 

Installing a ground network of seismometers, as California has done, may not be feasible in all impacted areas around the world. So we’re using the reach of Android’s platform to help detect earthquakes.  

Starting today, your Android phone can be part of the Android Earthquake Alerts System, wherever you live in the world. This means your Android phone can be a mini seismometer, joining millions of other Android phones out there to form the world’s largest earthquake detection network. 

All smartphones come with tiny accelerometers that can sense signals that indicate an earthquake might be happening. If the phone detects something that it thinks may be an earthquake, it sends a signal to our earthquake detection server, along with a coarse location of where the shaking occurred. The server then combines information from many phones to figure out if an earthquake is happening. We’re essentially racing the speed of light (which is roughly the speed at which signals from a phone travel) against the speed of an earthquake. And lucky for us, the speed of light is much faster! 

To start, we’ll use this technology to share a fast, accurate view of the impacted area on Google Search. When you look up “earthquake” or “earthquake near me,” you’ll find relevant results for your area, along with helpful resources on what to do after an earthquake. 

We’ve worked with globally-renowned seismology and disaster experts Dr. Richard Allen, Dr. Qingkai Kong and Dr. Lucy Jones to develop this crowdsourced approach for detecting earthquakes all around the world.

You might be wondering, “what’s next?” We’re starting with earthquake alerts in California since there’s already a great seismometer-based system in place. Over the coming year, you can expect to see the earthquake alerts coming to more states and countries using Android’s phone-based earthquake detection. 


Two new Android initiatives designed to provide timely earthquake information and alert people before the next earthquake shakes their home.
Categories: Technology

Use Lookout to take care of daily tasks fasterUse Lookout to take care of daily tasks fasterProduct Manager

GoogleBlog - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 08:00

Everyone has a routine to their day, from pulling out ingredients to cook a meal, sorting through their mail, or perusing through documents. To help people who are blind or low-vision complete these daily tasks faster and more easily, we’re introducing updates to Lookout on Android: new modes, a more accessible design, and expansion to even more Android devices. 


Lookout now has two new modes: Food Label and Scan Document. With Food Label, you can quickly identify packaged foods by pointing your phone’s camera at the label. Lookout will guide you to position the food product so that it can be properly identified through its packaging or barcode. This can be particularly helpful if you’re putting away groceries and want to make sure you’re handling the right items that might feel the same to your touch. For example, Food Label would be able to distinguish between a can of corn and a can of green beans.

Use Food Label to identify different food products.

Scan Document makes it easier to go through letters and mail. Use Lookout to take a snapshot of a document, and it will capture the entire document’s content in detail so that it can be read aloud by your screen reader.

Use Scan Document to read long-form documents.

Based on feedback from the blind and low-vision community, we’re introducing an accessible design that is even more compatible with TalkBack, our Android screen reader. This includes making more space for the camera view, which makes it easier to frame the object you want more information about. In addition, we’ve changed navigation between modes to require fewer taps and less time by making it possible to scroll between them at the bottom of the screen. 

Related: 5 new things your Android phone can do

With this update, Lookout will be available on all devices with more than 2GB of RAM running Android 6.0 and later. Lookout also now works in French, Italian, German and Spanish. Expanding this app to more people and devices is part of our commitment to make the world's information universally accessible and to build helpful products with and for people with disabilities.


Download Lookout today on Google Play.

We are updating Lookout to be more helpful by introducing new modes, an expansion to more languages, and a redesigned interface.
Categories: Technology

5 new things your Android phone can do5 new things your Android phone can do

GoogleBlog - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 08:00

Your Android phone should get better and more helpful over time, even while you wait for the latest OS update to arrive. Like the recently announced Nearby Share that supports devices going back to Android 6.0, we’re building new features that improve the experience of billions of devices around the world. Today, we’re introducing five new features to your Android phone for added safety, restful sleep and more. 

1. Save precious seconds during an emergencyVideo of Android Emergency Location Services

Your Android phone can’t put out a fire, but it can provide help sooner with Android Emergency Location Service (ELS) now available to over 800 million people across 29 countries. Since launching ELS in 2016, we’ve worked with local public safety officials to shorten emergency response times around the world by improving access to accurate location information.

Now, your Android phone can share your device language setting when you dial your local emergency number wherever ELS is available. So if you don’t speak the local language, emergency operators can get the appropriate translator sooner and send you the help you need.

Android ELS is available on devices running Android 4.1 and above with Google Play Services installed.

2. Get alerted to earthquakes around youVideo of Android Earthquake Alerts System

Android phones around the world can now detect earthquakes with the Android Earthquake Alerts System, creating the world’s largest earthquake detection network. To start, this will lead to faster, more accurate earthquake information when you look up “earthquake near me” on Google Search. 


The Android Earthquake Alerts System will be available on devices running Android 5.0 and above. And if you are in California, you will now receive earthquake alerts powered by ShakeAlert® directly on your Android phone. 

3. Get more done in the car

When driving, your safety is dependent on keeping your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. With new updates to Android Auto, you can stay on top of your day without having to glance at your phone. 


Get a quick look into your daily schedule on your car display with the new calendar app. With a few taps from a calendar event, get directions to the bakery where you ordered that birthday cake or make a quick phone call to tell them you'll be arriving soon. 


And with the new settings app, you can manage your Android Auto preferences directly on your car display.

The new Android Auto calendar app displays personal calendars synced to your phone and will be rolling out to devices running Android 6.0+ over the coming month. Find out if your car supports Android Auto here.

4. Rest easy, without interruptionsVideo of Bedtime tab in the Clock app

Remember that time when checking one notification turned into staying up an hour past your bedtime? We bet you weren’t too happy. So we created Bedtime mode to remind you when it’s time for bed and limit interruptions by keeping your phone dark and quiet while you sleep. 


Now with the addition of the Bedtime tab in Clock, you can maintain a consistent sleep schedule, track your screen time at night, and fall asleep to soothing sounds from Calm, Spotify, YouTube Music and more. And if you dread feeling startled by your alarm, you can wake up more gently with visual cues from the Sunrise Alarm and your favorite sounds or song.  


The Bedtime tab in the Clock app is now available for devices running Android 6.0 and above. For devices with Digital Wellbeing installed, turn on Bedtime mode in your settings or schedule it directly from the Clock app.5. Lookout makes the physical world more accessible

We’re bringing new features to Lookout, an app that uses computer vision to help people who are blind or low-vision get things done faster and more easily. Built with and for the blind and low-vision community, this update debuts two new modes and a more accessible design. Now Lookout can scan long form documents into readable text, identify products from their food labels, and is even more compatible with screen readers. It also includes expansion to new languages and phones, automatic flash, and more. 

Download Lookout on Google Play today, available for all devices with more than 2GB of RAM running Android 6.0 and later.

We are launching five new features on your Android phone for added safety, restful sleep and more.
Categories: Technology

Belarus Has Shut Down the Internet Amid a Controversial Election

Slashdot.org - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 08:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: Internet connectivity and cellular service in Belarus have been down since Sunday evening, after sporadic outages early that morning and throughout the day. The connectivity blackout, which also includes landline phones, appears to be a government-imposed outage that comes amid widespread protests and increasing social unrest over Belarus' presidential election Sunday. The ongoing shutdown has further roiled the country of about 9.5 million people, where official election results this morning indicated that five-term president Aleksandr Lukashenko had won a sixth term with about 80 percent of the vote. Around the country, protests against Lukashenko's administration, including criticisms of his foreign policy and handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, grew in the days leading up to the election and exploded on Sunday night. The government has responded to the protests by mobilizing police and military forces, particularly in Minsk, the capital. Meanwhile, opposition candidates and protesters say the election was rigged and believe the results to be illegitimate. On Monday, Lukashenko said in an interview that the internet outages were coming from abroad, and were not the result of a Belarusian government initiative. Belarus' Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, in a statement on Sunday blamed large distributed denial-of-service attacks, particularly against the country's State Security Committee and Ministry of Internal Affairs, for causing "problems with equipment." The Belarusian government-owned ISP RUE Beltelecom said in a statement Monday that it is working to resolve the outages and restore service after "multiple cyberattacks of varying intensity." Outside observers have met those claims with skepticism. "The truth of what's going on in Belarus isn't really knowable right now, but there's no indication of a DDoS attack. It can't be ruled out, but there's no external sign of it that we see," says Alp Toker, director of the nonpartisan connectivity tracking group NetBlocks. After midnight Sunday, NetBlocks observed an outage that went largely unnoticed by the Belarus population, given the hour, but the country's internet infrastructure became increasingly wobbly afterward. "Then just as polls are opening in the morning, there are more disruptions, and those really continue and progress," says Toker. "Then the major outage that NetBlocks detected started right as the polls were closing and is ongoing." The disruption extended even to virtual private networks -- a common workaround for internet outages or censorship -- most of which remain unreachable. "Belarus hasn't had a lot of investment in circumvention technologies, because people there haven't needed to," Toker says. Meanwhile, there are a few anecdotal indications that the outages were planned, and even possibly that the government warned some businesses and institutions ahead of time. A prescient report on Saturday from the Russian newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets included an interview with a salesperson who warned journalists attempting to buy SIM cards that the government had indicated widespread connectivity outages might be coming as soon as that night.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Rich Results & Search Console Webmaster Conference Lightning Talk

GoogleWebmasterCentral - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 06:56

A few weeks ago we held another Webmaster Conference Lightning Talk, this time about Rich Results and Search Console. During the talk we hosted a live chat and a lot of viewers asked questions - we tried to answer all we could, but our typing skills didn’t match the challenge… so we thought we’d follow up on the questions posed in this blog post.

If you missed the video, you can watch it below: it discusses how to get started with rich results and use Search Console to optimize your search appearance in Google Search.

Rich Results & Search Console FAQs

Will a site rank higher against competitors if it implements structured data?

Structured data by itself is not a generic ranking factor. However, it can help Google to understand what the page is about, which can make it easier for us to show it where relevant and make it eligible for additional search experiences.

Which structured data would you recommend to use in Ecommerce category pages?

You don't need to mark up the products on a category page, a Product should only be marked up when they are the primary element on a page.

How much content should be included in my structured data? Can there be too much?

There is no limit to how much structured data you can implement on your pages, but make sure you’re sticking to the general guidelines. For example the markup should always be visible to users and representative of the main content of the page.

What exactly are FAQ clicks and impressions based on?

A Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) page contains a list of questions and answers pertaining to a particular topic. Properly marked up FAQ pages may be eligible to have a rich result on Search and an Action on the Google Assistant, which can help site owners reach the right users. These rich results include snippets with frequently asked questions, allowing users to expand and collapse answers to them. Every time such a result appears in Search results for an user it will be counted as an impression on Search Console, and if the user clicks to visit the website it will be counted as a click. Clicks to expand and collapse the search result will not be counted as clicks on Search Console as they do not lead the user to the website. You can check impressions and clicks on your FAQ rich results using the ‘Search appearance’ tab in the Search Performance report.

Will Google show rich results for reviews made by the review host site?

Reviews must not be written or provided by the business or content provider. According to our review snippets guidelines: “Ratings must be sourced directly from users” - publishing reviews written by the business itself are against the guidelines and might trigger a Manual Action.

There are schema types that are not used by Google, why should we use them?

Google supports a number of schema types, but other search engines can use different types to surface rich results, so you might want to implement it for them.

Why do rich results that previously appeared in Search sometimes disappear?

The Google algorithm tailors search results to create what it thinks is the best search experience for each user, depending on many variables, including search history, location, and device type. In some cases, it may determine that one feature is more appropriate than another, or even that a plain blue link is best. Check the Rich Results Status report, If you don’t see a drop in the number of valid items, or a spike in errors, your implementation should be fine.

How can I verify my dynamically generated structured data?

The safest way to check your structured data implementation is to inspect the URL on Search Console. This will provide information about Google's indexed version of a specific page. You can also use the Rich Results Test public tool to get a verdict. If you don’t see the structured data through those tools, your markup is not valid.

How can I add structured data in WordPress?

There are a number of WordPress plugins available that could help with adding structured data. Also check your theme settings, it might also support some types of markup.

With the deprecation of the Structured Data Testing Tool, will the Rich Results Test support structured data that is not supported by Google Search?

The Rich Results Test supports all structured data that triggers a rich result on Google Search, and as Google creates new experiences for more structured data types we’ll add support for them in this test. While we prepare to deprecate the Structured Data Testing Tool, we’ll be investigating how a generic tool can be supported outside of Google.

Stay Tuned!

If you missed our previous lightning talks, check the WMConf Lightning Talk playlist. Also make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos to come! We definitely recommend joining the premieres on YouTube to participate in the live chat and Q&A session for each episode!

Posted by Daniel Waisberg, Search Advocate

Categories: Web

What Mars Would Look Like If Its Surface Was Covered With Water

Slashdot.org - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 05:00
schwit1 writes: A new map shows what the red planet would look like if 71 percent of its surface area was covered with water -- around the same proportion as Earth. The results are spectacular: it shows two distinct landmasses forming, each of which would seem to form continents. While the left side shows a dramatic, mountainous terrain that includes Olympus Mons, the right side seems to offer more flatlands that include planes like Terra Sabaea. The map was created by Aaditya Raj Bhattarai, a Nepal-based civil engineering student currently studying for his bachelor's degree at Tribhuwan University. "I am [a] big fan of Elon [Musk] and SpaceX and their plan to put man on Mars, and I hope I could help in his cause," Bhattarai says. "This is a part of my side project where I calculate the volume of water required to make life on Mars sustainable and the sources required for those water volumes from comets that will come nearby Mars in [the] next 100 years." [...] Bhattarai noted that in this map, Mars' sea level lies as low as 1,211 meters (0.75 miles) below the geoid level, a level that averages out the ocean surface by removing factors like tides and currents. The sea level also lies a staggering 20,076 meters (12.5 miles) below Olympus Mons, depicted in the image as the top-left-most black dot. Olympus Mons is the largest volcano in the solar system and measures more than double the height of Mount Everest.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

I’m using Google Maps to plan summer family funI’m using Google Maps to plan summer family fun

GoogleBlog - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 04:00

Due to COVID-19, this is the summer for staycations and local day trips. In London, where my family and I live, we’re trying to figure out what that looks like for us. We have a toddler, so our ideal day trip is somewhere she can run around and we can have a picnic—and where the public restrooms have reopened (or, failing that, a discreet wooded area…). 

So how do I find a destination that checks all our boxes? Here’s what’s worked.


Meet at a fun halfway point

My cousin and her family live about a two-hour drive from us, and when lockdown lifted we were more than ready to meet up. But instead of driving all the way to them—a four-hour round trip is a struggle for even the most patient of toddlers—we had the idea to meet up at a halfway point. 


But how do you find that halfway point? That space between us was a no-man’s land where neither of us knew of any parks or nature reserves or anywhere that would be suitable for two energetic toddlers. So I used Google Maps to find the rough halfway point. Then I filtered by “Attractions” (you can also choose “Parks” or “Restaurants” or other categories) to see what came up. I quickly landed on Weald Country Park, which boasts a 4.5-star rating, almost a thousand reviews and a promising description: “Fallow deer, a visitor center & hiking.”


Read the reviews

Deer-watching had the potential to keep toddlers occupied for at least one minute. A visitor center indicated parking and bathrooms. And hiking probably meant that picnicking was easily an option. But to double-check these critical questions, I relied on the kindness of strangers who had posted recent reviews and ratings. Local Guides and other people who contribute to Google Maps are very helpful in offering information about how much they liked (or didn’t like) their trip, and many of them have the same topics on their mind that I do. Since you can sort reviews by date, it was easy to see the most relevant ones—i.e., those that have been filed since lockdown lifted—for current info on toilets (yes), parking (yes, but it’s expensive), and whether the playgrounds have reopened (yes, very recently). 


Browse the photos and Street View

To really get a feel for a place, sometimes there’s no replacement for a photo. Happily, many Google Maps contributors feel the same way, so it’s often very easy to find recent photos of the places you’re thinking of visiting. And for a 360-degree panorama, I can drop the pin and check out the scene on Street View. I soon discovered that, in addition to deer, Weald Country Park is home to cows and ducks, making it more or less heaven on earth for two two-year-olds.

Save places and make lists

I know that we’ll want to meet up with my cousin’s family again soon, and there were a few other nearby nature reserves that looked equally promising. So I tapped the “Save” button to start a list I could refer back to. I can even share it with my cousin so we can work on the list together. Google Maps puts a pin in them too, so the next time I’m scouting the area I’ll see little flags helpfully highlighting them for me.


Contribute your own review

If you found someone’s review or photos helpful, why not pay it forward by posting your own? If you’ve found information that needs updating, like a store’s opening hours, or if you want to let people know how your experience of a place matched up to expectations, click on the Contribute button at the bottom of the screen on the Google Maps app and share your knowledge.

Thanks to COVID-19, this is the summer for local day trips. Try using Google Maps to find a destination that checks all your boxes.
Categories: Technology

Planet Ceres Is An 'Ocean World' With Sea Water Beneath Surface, Mission Finds

Slashdot.org - Tue, 08/11/2020 - 02:00
The dwarf planet Ceres -- long believed to be a barren space rock -- is an ocean world with reservoirs of sea water beneath its surface, the results of a major exploration mission showed on Monday. The Guardian reports: Ceres is the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and has its own gravity, enabling the Nasa Dawn spacecraft to capture high-resolution images of its surface. Now a team of scientists from the United States and Europe have analyzed images relayed from the orbiter, captured about 35km (22 miles) from the asteroid. They focused on the 20-million-year-old Occator crater and determined that there is an "extensive reservoir" of brine beneath its surface. Using infrared imaging, one team discovered the presence of the compound hydrohalite -- a material common in sea ice but which until now had never been observed off of Earth. Maria Cristina De Sanctis, from Rome's Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica said hydrohalite was a clear sign Ceres used to have sea water. "We can now say that Ceres is a sort of ocean world, as are some of Saturn's and Jupiter's moons," she told AFP. The team said the salt deposits looked like they had built up within the last 2 million years -- the blink of an eye in space time. This suggests that the brine may still be ascending from the planet's interior, something De Sanctis said could have profound implications in future studies. Writing in an accompanying comment article, Julie Castillo-Rogez, from the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said the discovery of hydrohalite was a "smoking gun" for ongoing water activity. "That material is unstable on Ceres' surface, and hence must have been emplaced very recently," she said. In a separate paper, US-based researchers analyzed images of the Occator crater and found that its mounds and hills may have formed when water ejected by the impact of a meteor froze on the surface.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

People Typically Experience Shifting Mental Disorders Over Their Lifespan, Study Finds

Slashdot.org - Mon, 08/10/2020 - 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PsyPost: New research based on four decades of longitudinal data indicates that it is rare for a person to receive and keep a single mental disorder diagnosis. Rather, experiencing different successive mental disorders appears to be the norm. The findings, published in JAMA Open, suggest that psychiatrists and other mental health professionals should move toward adopting a life-course perspective on mental disorders. The researchers examined data from the Dunedin Longitudinal Study in New Zealand, which used repeated standardized psychiatric assessments to track 17 mental health conditions from age 11 to age 45. The study included more than one thousand participants and the mental health conditions were diagnosed according to DSM criteria. "These disorders included externalizing disorders (for example, ADHD, conduct disorder, substance dependence), internalizing disorders (for example, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, PTSD), and thought disorders (for example, mania, schizophrenia, OCD). This is the most detailed time series of mental-disorder life-histories ever assembled," explained Avshalom Caspi, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University. The study also included neurocognitive examinations during childhood and adolescence, along with a neuroimaging-based assessment of brain aging at age 45. About one-third of the participants experienced the initial onset of a disorder by age 15 years and 86% met the criteria for at least one disorder by age 45 years. The researchers found an "ebb and flow" of mental disorders over time. Participants with a disorder from any one of the three diagnostic families were at higher risk for disorders from other diagnostic families in the future. Participants characterized by one consistent mental disorder were not the norm. "The primary finding is that over decades, individuals experience many changing disorder types, shifting between internalizing, externalizing, and/or thought disorder families. People seldom 'get' one disorder and keep it. Every disorder predicted significantly increased risk for every other disorder," Caspi told PsyPost.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

AT&T To Lay Off 600 At HBO and Warner Bros. After Revenue Decline

Slashdot.org - Mon, 08/10/2020 - 21:02
AT&T's WarnerMedia division is planning to lay off hundreds of employees in AT&T's latest cost-cutting move. Ars Technica reports: "Warner Bros. is expected to commence layoffs of around 650 people starting Monday, according to people familiar with the matter, while HBO is seen shedding between 150 and 175 staffers. A WarnerMedia spokesman declined to comment," Variety reported yesterday. The numbers quoted in Variety may be a bit too high. A source with knowledge of the AT&T layoffs told Ars that the real number is about 600 jobs across all of WarnerMedia, which includes Warner Bros., HBO, and Turner. The layoffs come days after WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar announced a shakeup including the departure of three executives and an increased focus on AT&T's new HBO Max streaming service. Kilar detailed the changes in an internal memo published by CNBC on Friday. In its Q2 2020 earnings report, AT&T said that HBO revenue was "$1.6 billion, down 5.2 percent year over year, reflecting a decrease in subscription revenues and content and other revenues." HBO operating expenses were "$1.5 billion, up 32.5 percent year over year, primarily due to higher programming costs and expenses related to HBO Max." HBO operating income was $113 million, down 80.3 percent. Warner Bros. revenue in Q2 was $3.3 billion, down 3.9 percent year over year partly because of "the postponement of theatrical releases due to closure of movie theaters," AT&T said. Warner Bros. operating income rose 43.9 percent to $633 million, however, as the unit's operating expenses declined 11.1 percent to $2.6 billion "primarily due to the production hiatus and lower marketing expenses."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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