Google hides another math joke in its earnings report

It holds (nearly) all the Google news in one place.
Image: Rex Features via AP Images

Alphabet Inc. is getting serious about reining in spending, but the math whizzes who run the company are still playing games when it comes to some big financial decisions.

The internet search giant buried a math game in its share buyback announcement on Thursday.Googles parent company said it will repurchase $7,019,340,976.83 worth of its Class C stock. That amount comes from the number of letters in the alphabet (Alphabet Inc., get it?) and “e,” an important mathematical constant that equals 2.71828.

Heres the calculation, courtesy of Googles search engine: 26 to the power of “e” equals 7019.34097683. Multiple that by $1 million and you get the new repurchase number.

This is just the latest math joke from the company. Last year, Alphabet said it would buy back as many as $5,099,019,513.59 of its Class C shares. To get that number, it took the square root of 26, then multiplied that by $1 billion.

The company has been under pressure to return some of its huge cash hoard to shareholders, so the most-recent math games have focused on buybacks. But its been obsessed by large numbers since inception in the late 1990s.

The name Google is a play on googol, which is the number 1 followed by a hundred zeros. When it first filed to go public, it said it planned to raise $2,718,281,828, a billion times the value of “e.”Nearly a year later, it said it was going to sell 14,159,265 shares of stock.

Those are the numbers that follow the decimal in pi. And when the company tried to buy Nortel Network patents, one of its bids was actually pi around $3.14 billion. Its other bids were plays on numbers, too. Google lost the bid.

This article originally published at Bloomberg here

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/10/28/google-math-joke-earnings/

Googles Real-Time Map of Voter Issues Is Totally Captivating

News junkies will find no shortage of live election coverage on the internet today, but if you’re craving something to distract you from the live blogs and the hot takes, do yourself a favor and check out the this real-time visualization of the issues voters are Googling in cities across America.

Created in collaboration with design studio Pitch Interactive, the map uses real-time data from Google Trends and historical search queries to identify up-to-the-minute interest in what Google says are the five most relevant voting issues: problems with voting machines, long wait times, information on inactive voter and provisional ballot status, and voter intimidation at polling sites. The map distills hundreds of keywords related to these issues into color-coded blips. The bigger the blip, the bigger the gap between national search frequency and the search frequency within the indicated city. (To even register on the map, there needs to be at least twice as much interest locally as there is nationally.) Click on individual issues to turn them on or off. The ticker at the bottom of the screen displays sudden spikes in search interest from around the country.

Put it all together and you have one captivating data visualization. “When it comes to this kind of tool, you have to give people something they understand and want to play with, otherwise it’s not going to tell a story or communicate anything,” says Google News Lab data editor Simon Rogers.

The map also provides a fascinating glimpse at America’s electoral process in action. This year, ProPublica teamed up with Google and hundreds of news organizations to launch a project called Electionland. Its mission: to monitor and report on voting issues across the US. This map is an essential—if experimental—part of that mission.

“This is the first time Google Trends data has been made available in real time during a US election, and it’s really interesting stuff,” Rogers says. For instance: According to the map, the greatest number of searches related to broken voting machines have originated in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, while search interest in lines peaked in Georgia at 7am, shortly after polls opened.

It’s important to remember that these are just signals—the fact that lots of folks in Anytown, USA are Googling about broken voting machines does not mean that voting machines in Anytown are, in fact, broken. But these signals can serve as early leads, or as ballast for developing stories. “We’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible,” Rogers says. “We’re showing that this data is something that can be used to complement news in a way that wasn’t possible in the past.” To that end, Rogers says there’s a good chance his team will publish data from the trends map on its GitHub account after the election. We hope they do. A good test of the map’s utility would be to go back, after the election, and cross reference the trends data with confirmed reports from election day.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. For now, sit back and enjoy obsessing over this map. Polls are only open for a few more hours.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/2016/11/googles-real-time-map-voter-issues-totally-captivating/

Google’s search definition for ‘hero’ could use a gender-powered update

Image: Press Association via AP Images

Halloween season is upon us, and everyone is dressing up as their favorite monster, sexy plumber and, of course, comic book hero. But if you take a quick look at Google’s definition of “hero,” you might be surprised that, in 2016, it still defines a hero as a man.

I stumbled upon this while looking for cool comic book hero costume images. Here’s the definition Google returned when I typed the word in on Saturday:

“a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.”

That’s right. In 2016, in a time when we have our first woman presidential candidate running in the U.S., and big budget films are being devoted to comic book heroes like Wonder Woman and a female Captain Marvel, and Iron Man and Thor have become women in print, the word hero is still, somehow, just for men.

Image: google search

And yes, I know the word “heroine” exists. But when was the last time you heard a courageous woman in fiction or real life referred as a “heroine”? I regularly call my mother and my grandmother heroes heroine never crossed my mind.

Just last year, women in the Army and Marines were finally allowed to serve in front line combat posts. And after they do, they’ll likely be called heroes, not heroines.

Nope. They’re “heroes,” just like us dudes. Disagree? Well, the online versions of the Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries get it right.

Merriam-Webster:
Hero: A person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.

Oxford:
Hero: A person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

(In a later entry, Oxford does describe hero as “the chief male character,” but, again, that’s not the first definition you see.)

Some of this is definitely down to real world usage trends versus traditional written definitions. But if we can add words like “selfie” and “twerk” to official dictionaries, an adjustment to such a powerful word like “hero” on Google shouldn’t be a problem.

Google’s sourcing for this dictionary info has changed over the years, so it’s not clear where it’s getting its current definitions. (Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.) But the good news is, if you think the definition of “hero” should include women in Google’s definition, you can leave feedback related to the definition via a link right below the box.

Google is still an incredible search engine, and the detailed definition feature is one of my favorite tools. It just needs a tweak now and then. #DefineHero

Read more: http://mashable.com/

‘Who is Taylor Swift voting for?’ is one of the election’s top Google searches

Image: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Taylor Swift, who once said that voting makes her feel, so completely American,” must have felt pretty American today!

The pop star definitely voted for one of the candidates running for president or possibly wrote in Taylor Swift in that blank space even though she’s about a decade too young for eligibility but we have no idea who she cast her ballot for. And we, the people, cannot shake it off.

According to Google Trends, Swift’s ballot was a hot search on this election day ahead of anyone who actually has anything to do with politics.

“I follow it, and I try to keep myself as educated and informed as possible. But I dont talk about politics because it might influence other people,” Swift told Time back in 2012. “And I dont think that I know enough yet in life to be telling people who to vote for.”

Although Swift has budged on some of her previous views, including publicly embracing feminism, she didn’t endorse a candidate during this election.

Some people are really mad that Swift has declined to become a political figure, accusing Swift of squandering her influence in order to remain friendly to as many markets as possible.

Others believe she’s keeping quiet because she’s a Trump supporter, citing a few reasons Swift might not be with her. Many of Tay’s known enemies (Demi Lovato, Katy Perry, Kim Kardashian, etc.) are Clinton supporters. Tay’s bestie, Karlie Kloss, would be Ivanka Trump’s sister-in-law if she ever marries her longtime boyfriend, Joshua Kushner. Swift’s dad was a Wall Street dude before the family relocated to Nashville.

It’s a lot of baseless speculation, which, of course, is the internet’s specialty.

What we do know is that Swift voted for the next president of the United States of America bright and early this morning.

Today is the day. Go out and VOTE

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

Swift posted the Instagram at 8:01 a.m. PST, meaning she likely voted in California, the location of one of her residences, even though she went to jury duty in Nashville earlier this year.

Considering that she was in NYC last night throwing a birthday party for Lorde amongst Clinton supporters like Lena Dunham, Mae Whitman and Aziz Ansari, she likely got on her private jet first thing in the morning to participate in democracy.

Since everything Swift does is intentional, we must look at clues wherever we can find them.

From the image, we can see that Swift is standing by a man in a blue shirt. Is he a Democrat? Or, like all men, does he just have a closet stocked with several light blue button down shirts that have no discernible differences?

Swift opted to wear a cold shoulder style shirt, which could be a sly nod to Clinton that may have been inspired by Dunham.

Can this broken nation heal itself without a confirmation of all of our pop stars’ political leanings? We may have to.

Bonus: Doug the Pug Recreates Taylor Swift Instagrams

Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/11/08/taylor-swift-voting-google-searches/

Donald Trump trashes Facebook, Google and Twitter as ‘dishonest media’

Image: Twitter

Donald Trump lashed out at Facebook, Google and Twitter over the weekend, claiming they were “burying” negative news about Hillary Clinton.

Trump took to Twitter on Sunday morning to let everyone know he was mad about something. Two weeks ago, he yelled about Saturday Night Live‘s “hit job” now it’s a vague proclamation that lumps Facebook, Google and Twitter under the umbrella of “dishonest media.”

According to Trump, the tech companies are guilty of suppressing news relating to the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

He doesn’t get into specifics, so it’s not entirely clear what he believes has been buried, or how. A quick glance at Google News shows that the investigation reignited on Friday when FBI director James Comey pointed to newly unearthed emails is the top result as of 11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday morning.

Image: Google

Twitter doesn’t surface information in quite the same way as Google, but both #Election2016 and the Clinton probe are at the top of the site’s “Featured Tweets” section as of Sunday morning.

Image: Twitter

Facebook’s own “What’s Trending” section may or may not include mention of the email probe; it’s a difficult thing to track since the content of that section is tied to the current user’s account.

Reached for comment, a Facebook spokesperson pointed Mashable toward the below CNN tweet, in which correspondent Brian Stelter addressed the Trump tweet and tried to deduce its meaning on Reliable Sources.

Google News doesn’t change rankings of stories to influence user opinion, a source at Google told Mashable, nor does it tweak rankings related to political candidates.

Mashable also reached out to Twitter for comment, but the company did not respond.

The same cannot be said of the Twitter community at large. Trump’s tweet quickly garnered a slew of responses from users who were too happy to point out that the targets of the presidential hopeful’s ire are not, in fact, “media” companies (something Facebook stressed as recently as five days ago).

Read more: http://mashable.com/

This might convince Donald Trump that Google’s not conspiring against him

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton pauses while speaking at New Mount Olive Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Oct. 30.
Image: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Donald Trump called Google a member of the “dishonest media” on Sunday, but he might tone down his criticism going forward if he spent some time googling his rival last night.

Someone hijacked the Wikipedia page for “pathological lying” late on Sunday and uploaded a picture of Hillary Clinton. They also linked the Democratic presidential nominee’s name to the term throughout the article.

As a result, Clinton’s photo briefly popped up when Google users searched “pathological lying,” according to the Huffington Post. Google often pulls Wikipedia images during searches.

Searches for “45th us president” also reportedly showed a picture of Trump for a short time.

The revision history for the Wikipedia’s “pathological lying” page shows moderators quickly reverted the page back to normal and then locked it on account of “persistent vandalism.”

Clinton’s image briefly appeared on the Wikipedia page for “pathological lying.”

Image: screenshot/wikipedia

Trump has continually linked Clinton’s name with lying on the campaign trail. He often calls her “crooked Hillary,” and his supporters often chant “lock her up” at rallies for the Republican presidential nominee. More than once, his supporters have dressed up as Clinton in a prison jumpsuit.

During the second presidential debate, Trump threatened to jail Clinton if he is elected, and he’s repeatedly called her a criminal for her use of a personal email server while she was secretary of state.

That issue has dogged Clinton throughout the campaign, though the FBI found after an investigation that neither she nor her staff had committed any crime. The agency did, however, find that Clinton had been far too careless with regard to email security.

Maybe this little blip will convince Trump that Google search results aren’t conspiring against him.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Google’s new Android Auto app makes any old vehicle a smart car

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – MAY 28: Attendees look at cars featuring Android Auto during the 2015 Google I/O conference
Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Google just introduced a new way to bring your jalopy into the future.

Android Auto can now function entirely from your phone, the company announced in a blog post Monday, meaning you no longer need a special dashboard or an entirely new car to use it.

“Whether your phone is connected to a compatible car display, or placed in a car mount on the dashboard, Android Auto brings your favorite apps and services into one place, making them accessible in safer and seamless ways,” Gerhard Schobbe, Android Auto product manager, wrote in the post.

These apps include Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music and Google Maps. Waze, which is owned by Google, is not yet supported by the Android Auto app but will probably be integrated into the Android Auto app eventually, as it was mentioned in the Google I/O developer conference earlier this year.

Image: Google

As you’d expect, the Android Auto app can also “make calls or send messages with hands-free voice commands.” You’ll be able to read and send text messages by simply talking to the app.

The auto app also works to tailor your notifications to avoid unnecessary distractions while you’re behind the wheel.

The new update is rolling out now in over 30 countries and is free. Visit the Android Auto website to see when it’ll be available on your device.

Read more: http://mashable.com/

Google finds ‘serious’ Windows vulnerability

File photo – A Microsoft logo is seen at a pop-up site for the new Windows 10 operating system at Roosevelt Field in Garden City, New York July 29, 2015. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

A serious security vulnerability in Windows code is currently being exploited, Google researchers said on Monday.

Google discovered the flaw, which also affects Adobe’s Flash media player, on Oct. 21. Adobe issued a fix a few days later, but Microsoft still has not issued its own, according to a Google blog post. Google said its policy is to publish actively exploited critical vulnerabilities seven days after it reports them to the software’s creator.

The flaw, which exists in the Windows kernel, can be used as a “security sandbox escape,” according to Google. Most software contains sandboxes in order to stop malicious or malfunctioning programs from damaging or snooping on the rest of the computer.

It’s unclear how extensively the Windows flaw has been exploited. Google said only that it is being “actively exploited.” In a statement, Microsoft acknowledged the security flaw and criticised Google for disclosing it before a fix was ready.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2016/11/01/google-finds-serious-windows-vulnerability.html