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New Predictions for Google’s 2011

January 2, 2011 · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Featured, Google 

1. More free storage in Google Docs: at least 20 GB.

2. A new HTML5 interface for Gmail that loads faster, stores email offline and integrates with other Google apps like Google Calendar and Google Docs.

3. An updated Android keyboard that uses Google Scribd data to provide useful suggestions.

4. Google Earth as a WebGL web app and vector-based maps in Google Maps for desktop.

5. A database of things, where you can store important names, book titles, products, concepts and useful information about them.

6. Data sync for Google Chrome extensions.

7. Chrome for Android, with data sync, web apps, session restore, Cloud Print, built-in Flash and smarter address bar.

8. Google’s search engine will answer complex questions using inferences.

9. Google Personal Alerts will notify on your mobile phone if there’s something interesting around (one of your friends, a store that offers a discount for one your favorite products, a museum you wanted to visit, a shop recommended by one of your friends).

10. Google will learn to embrace Facebook and will start using Facebook Connect.

11. Google Online Store: the place where you can download Chrome/Android apps and games, e-books, buy magazine subscriptions, music and movies.




12. Android’s growth will slow down, but it will be the most popular mobile operating system because many companies will use it to create smart media players, digital cameras, TVs, game consoles and even home appliances.

13. Picasa Web Albums will become a Google Docs app and Picnik will switch to HTML5.

14. Google will acquire Disqus to make it easier to manage your comments and to improve Blogger’s commenting system.

15. Google Profiles will no longer be optional: when you create a Google/Gmail account, you’ll also create a profile.

16. Voice search and visual search for desktop.

17. Google will buy LastPass and offer an online password manager.

18. Google Wave will be resurrected, but it will have a simplified interface.

19. An online music player that will let you listen music from the Google Store or Google Docs, podcasts from Google Reader, online radios and more.

20. Google Fast Flip for web search powered by Google Instant Previews.

Plant trees for change with Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai

December 4, 2010 · 1 Comment
Filed under: Featured, General, Google 

In collaboration with Wangari Maathai’s Green Belt Movement and several other partners, the Google Earth Outreach team has created several narrated tours on the topic of climate change in preparation for the UNFCCC’s COP16 Climate Summit 2010 in Cancun, Mexico. Fly underwater to learn about the effects of ocean acidification on sea life with Oceana. Zoom around Mexican mangroves in 3D and learn about the importance of this biodiverse habitat… and what must be done to protect it for future generations. Visit google.com/landing/cop16/climatetours.html to experience these tours. -Ed.

Ask most people what trees mean to them and the first thing that comes to mind is the tree outside their bedroom window or the forest where they played as a child. Trees do occupy a powerful place in our emotions, but the most powerful argument to protect our world’s trees is not based on sentiment. There is a vital interdependency between communities and the trees they rely on for survival. Trees are our watersheds, protectors of the natural environment, and sources of food. Remove the trees from the equation and the community feels the impact.

I came to this realization in the 1970s in Kenya. I was talking to women in my community about their problems: hunger, access to water, poverty, wood fuel. I saw a link between their needs and the condition of the land and thought, “Why not plant trees to address these issues?” Trees hold the soil to the ground so that we can grow food in it, they protect watersheds and facilitate harvesting of rain water, fruits trees supplement food and trees give us domestic energy and wood with which to build our shelters. So while still working at the University of Nairobi, I established a tree nursery in my backyard, planted seven trees at a public park and founded the Green Belt Movement. The organization works to empower communities, to build their capacity to restore Africa’s forests and put an end to the problems that deforestation and other forms of environmental degradation cause. As a result of this idea, more than 40 million trees have been planted to restore the environment and improve the lives of the people who are linked to the land.

When we were offered a unique opportunity to partner with the Google Earth Outreach team on a project using new Google Earth technology to visualize trees in 3D, we were thrilled. For accuracy and integrity we worked very closely with Google, advising them on the modeling of unique African trees like the broad-leaved Croton, the Nile tulip tree and the East African Cordia. These tree models illustrate the biodiversity in our tree planting sites, especially in the forests, and how we carefully select trees that are indigenous and sustainable to the natural surroundings.

Broad-leaved Croton, the Nile tulip tree and the East African Cordia (from left to right)


We then used data from real planting locations to “plant” the tree models in Google Earth and create 3D visualizations. Now, for the first time in Google Earth, people from all over the world will be able to virtually visit these planting sites, explore the 3D trees and connect with the work that we are doing.

Green Belt Movement planting site in 3D on Google Earth


Tree planting is a simple activity with tangible results, and anyone can participate. It helps people come together to address common problems and work collectively towards community improvement and sustainability. I hope that seeing our beautiful tree planting sites in 3D on Google Earth will be a source of inspiration for people to engage, plant trees and organize planting activities in their own communities. Taking charge of our lives and the environment around us can help ensure a lasting legacy and healthy future for our children.

Learn more about the Green Belt Movement and support our work at http://www.greenbeltmovement.org.

Posted by Wangari Maathai

Introducing Google Earth Engine

December 3, 2010 · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Featured, Google 

Today, Google launched a new Google Labs product called Google Earth Engine at the International Climate Change Conference in sunny Cancun, Mexico. Google Earth Engine is a new technology platform that puts an unprecedented amount of satellite imagery and data—current and historical—online for the first time. It enables global-scale monitoring and measurement of changes in the earth’s environment. The platform will enable scientists to use our extensive computing infrastructure—the Google “cloud”—to analyze this imagery. Last year, we demonstrated an early prototype. Since then, we have developed the platform, and are excited now to offer scientists around the world access to Earth Engine to implement their applications.

Why is this important? The images of our planet from space contain a wealth of information, ready to be extracted and applied to many societal challenges. Scientific analysis can transform these images from a mere set of pixels into useful information—such as the locations and extent of global forests, detecting how our forests are changing over time, directing resources for disaster response or water resource mapping.

The challenge has been to cope with the massive scale of satellite imagery archives, and the computational resources required for their analysis. As a result, many of these images have never been seen, much less analyzed. Now, scientists will be able to build applications to mine this treasure trove of data on Google Earth Engine, providing several advantages:

  • Landsat satellite data archives over the last 25 years for most of the developing world available online, ready to be used together with other datasets including MODIS. And we will soon offer a complete global archive of Landsat.
  • Reduced time to do analyses, using Google’s computing infrastructure. By running analyses across thousands of computers, for example, unthinkable tasks are now possible for the first time.
  • New features that will make analysis easier, such as tools that pre-process the images to remove clouds and haze.
  • Collaboration and standardization by creating a common platform for global data analysis.

Google Earth Engine can be used for a wide range of applications—from mapping water resources to ecosystem services to deforestation. It’s part of our broader effort at Google to build a more sustainable future. We’re particularly excited about an initial use of Google Earth Engine to support development of systems to monitor, report and verify (MRV) efforts to stop global deforestation.

Deforestation releases a significant amount of carbon into the atmosphere, accounting for 12-18% of annual greenhouse gas emissions. The world loses 32 million acres of tropical forests every year, an area the size of Greece. The United Nations has proposed a framework known as REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) that would provide financial incentives to tropical nations to protect their forests. Reaching an agreement on early development of REDD is a key agenda item here in Cancun.

Today, we announced that we are donating 10 million CPU-hours a year over the next two years on the Google Earth Engine platform, to strengthen the capacity of developing world nations to track the state of their forests, in preparation for REDD. For the least developed nations, Google Earth Engine will provide critical access to terabytes of data, a growing set of analytical tools and our high-performance processing capabilities. We believe Google Earth Engine will bring transparency and more certainty to global efforts to stop deforestation.

Over the past two years, we’ve been working with several top scientists to fully develop this platform and integrate their desktop software to work online with the data available in Google Earth Engine. Those scientists—Greg Asner of the Carnegie Institution for Science, Carlos Souza of Imazon and Matt Hansen of the Geographic Information Science Center at South Dakota State University—are at the cutting edge of forest monitoring in support of climate science.

In collaboration with Matt Hansen and CONAFOR, Mexico’s National Forestry Commission, we’ve produced a forest cover and water map of Mexico. This is the finest-scale forest map produced of Mexico to date. The map required 15,000 hours of computation, but was completed in less than a day on Google Earth Engine, using 1,000 computers over more than 53,000 Landsat scenes (1984-2010). CONAFOR provided National Forest Inventory ground-sampled data to calibrate and validate the algorithm.

A forest cover and water map of Mexico (southern portion, including the Yucatan peninsula), produced in collaboration with scientist Matthew Hansen and CONAFOR.

We hope that Google Earth Engine will be an important tool to help institutions around the world manage forests more wisely. As we fully develop the platform, we hope more scientists will use new Earth Engine API to integrate their applications online—for deforestation, disease mitigation, disaster response, water resource mapping and other beneficial uses. If you’re interested in partnering with us, we want to hear from you—visit our website! We look forward to seeing what’s possible when scientists, governments, NGO’s, universities, and others gain access to data and computing resources to collaborate online to help protect the earth’s environment.

Posted by Rebecca Moore

Announcing the Panoramio Photo Contest

November 2, 2010 · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Featured, General 

The Panoramio community enables you to share your photos and explore them on Google Earth, Google Maps and other places. If you’ve never geo-tagged a photo, watch this video to learn how easy it is to add photos to the Panoramio layer in Google Earth.

Now you can add some excitement to your photo project and enter your photos to the monthly Panoramio Geotagged Photo Contest! Starting this month, we’ll be giving away the new Casio Hybrid-GPS camera EX-H20G to the winner of each category (Scenery, Heritage, Travel and Unusual Location). The Panoramio community reviews all of the submissions and votes for what they consider to be the best each month.


Casio’s new Hybrid-GPS camera combines a GPS engine with autonomic positioning made possible by a motion sensor. This makes geotagging easy—both outdoors and indoors.


If you haven’t joined the Panoramio community yet, try it out and don’t forget to participate in our monthly contest. To enter your photo, click on “Submit to the contest” and choose a category. Good luck and we can’t wait to see your photos!

Posted by Gerard Sanz

Fly to…a whole new website for Google Earth

September 11, 2010 · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Featured, Google 

When you think of Google Earth, you might think about flying to the top of Mt. Everest, surveying the ancient Acropolis, or simply finding the house where you grew up. For the past five years, people all over the world have been discovering new places to explore through our community, blogs, news articles and Gallery. Now you can go to one place—our brand new Google Earth website—to find everything you’re looking for.

The new site is loaded with lots of great content including images, videos, tours, maps and tutorials on how to get started with Google Earth. We invite you to explore the new site, starting with these five areas:

  • Showcase: Browse our collection of featured content about the Ocean, Moon, 3D buildings and more to see all the ways you can explore the world around you.
  • Video tutorials: Whether you’re new to Google Earth or an expert user, watch our new video tutorials to learn how to create placemarks, record a tour, add a 3D building, import GPS data and more.
  • More products: See all the different ways ways you can experience Google Earth. Did you know you can access the 3D globe from your phone or on Google Maps?
  • Community: Get connected with other Google Earth fans in our forums and stay up-to-date through our newsletter, blog and Twitter feeds.
  • Industries: Everyone uses Google Earth for a different reason, so we created unique pages for educators, media, developers, businesses, non-profits and data providers.

Now it’s your turn to explore the website on your own. Right now, it’s only available in English but don’t worry, we’ll be adding more languages soon. Check out what’s new with Google Earth at earth.google.com.


Posted by Tasha Danko

Alex Trebek, teachers and Googlers unite at the Google Geo Teachers Institute

July 29, 2010 · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Featured, Google 

Google hosted its first Geo Teachers Institute, an intensive two-day workshop in which 150 educators received hands-on training and experience with Google Maps, Google SketchUp and Google Earth, including features like Mars, Moon and SkyMaps. Attendees from around the globe not only learned how these products work, but also discovered tips and resources for introducing these tools to students and using them to conceptualize, visualize, share and communicate about the world around them. Through this event, teachers were hopefully inspired to bring the world’s geographic information to students in compelling, fresh and fun ways.

John Hanke, VP of Product Management, addressing the audience of educators

As part of our continued effort to collaborate with teachers and help students get a better sense of places across the globe, we also announced that Google Earth Pro is now available to educators for free through the Google Earth for Educators site. Educators from higher educational and academic institutions who demonstrate a need for the Pro features in their classrooms can now apply for single licenses for themselves or site licenses for their computer labs. A similar program exists for SketchUp Pro through the Google SketchUp Pro Statewide License Grant, which is currently being provided via grants to 11 states, and available to all others at the K-12 level at no cost.

In conjunction with these exciting Geo-related events and announcements, the Geo Education team also thought it’d be timely and fun to test Googlers’ geographic knowledge by hosting the company’s first ever Google Geo Bee. With help from National Geographic, 68 teams relived their school years and took a written geography exam, competing for a spot on stage with Alex Trebek, who hosted the main event. The competition was based on the group version of the National Geographic Bee for students, which Google has sponsored for the past two years. Questions included those like “Which country contains most of the Balkan Mountains, which mark the boundary between the historical regions of Thrace and Moesia?” and “Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the United Kingdom, is located in which mountain chain?”

The winners of our Google Geo Bee: Ian Sharp, Marcus Thorpe and Rob Harford

The final three Google teams (the Tea-Drinking Imperialists, the Geoids and the Titans) all showed off their geographic literacy and answered a plethora of diverse and complex questions. In the end, it was the Tea-Drinkers who emerged the winners when they figured out that Mecca was the answer to the clue, “Due to this city’s location on a desert trading route, many residents were merchants, the most famous of whom was born around A.D. 570.” And they didn’t just walk away with bragging rights; thanks to Sven Linblad from Linblad Expeditions, they also won an amazing adventure trip to either the Arctic, the Galapagos or Antarctica.

Through all of these education efforts — for teachers, students and grown-up Googlers alike — we hope people of all ages never stop exploring.

Posted by Tina Ornduff

Google Earth5.2 Includes a Web Browser

June 15, 2010 · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Featured, Google, Google API, Technology News 

Google Earth 5.2 no longer uses the operating system’s web browser when you click on links. Google Earth comes with a WebKit-based browser, so you’ll never have to leave the application to open a Wikipedia page or the website of a local business.

“Sometimes when you want more information, you may want to click through to a link to see the full Google Places page for a business, or learn more about a photographer whose photo you really enjoy. In the past, this has required opening a link in an external browser to see the full page. For Google Earth 5.2, we’ve added an embedded browser that lets you browse the full web. Click on a link, and the browser pane slides across the screen. When you want to return to the Earth view, just click the Back button,” explains Google.



Apparently, Google Earth uses a simplified version of Google Chrome and it doesn’t include the V8 Javascript engine. I tried to run the V8 benchmark suite in Google Earth and the result was very poor: about 10 times lower than the latest Chromium build.

As in the previous versions, Google Earth for Windows and Mac also includes a plug-in that lets you embed a Google Earth view in any web page. Google Maps is the most popular service that lets you use Google Earth in your browser. Now you can browse the Web in Google Earth and use Google Earth in a Web browser.

If you don’t like the embedded browser, you can disable it by going to Tools > Options > General and checking “Show web results in external browser”.

MODIS imagery in Google Earth: Keeping up-to-date on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill

May 23, 2010 · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Featured, Google, Technology News 

It is estimated that at least 6 million gallons of oil have leaked into the Gulf of Mexico since the Deepwater Horizon explosion a month ago. Cleanup efforts are underway, but the oil has spread extensively around the Gulf and along the southern U.S. coastline. Oil has begun washing up on the beaches of Louisiana and the delicate wetlands along the Mississippi River, and can spread to Florida and throughout the Gulf as weather conditions change. This sequence of images, coming from NASA’s MODIS satellites, illustrates the movement and growth of the oil slick over the past few weeks:

April 25, 2010


April 29, 2010

May 9, 2010

May 17, 2010

The last image, taken earlier this week (on May 17), shows the coastal areas currently at risk from the spreading oil, and can help those working on the wide range of relief efforts.


You can view this and other MODIS imagery in Google Earth by downloading this KML. You can also view additional imagery and find other resources and news at our oil spill crisis response page.

Posted by Pete Giencke, GIS Data Engineer

Google Earth: Mapping the Gulf oil spill explosion in Google Earth

May 6, 2010 · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Featured, Google, Technology News 

Two weeks ago, there was a fatal explosion on the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. The rig sank shortly afterwards, and since then the well has been leaking crude oil into the Gulf, spreading an oil slick towards the U.S. Gulf Coast. This spill is pouring as many as 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons) of oil a day into the Gulf and poses a serious threat to coastal industries, sensitive habitats and wildlife, including numerous species along the coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Many government agencies and other organizations have made data publicly available, which we’ve compiled on our crisis response site dedicated to the spill.

Last week we made imagery from NASA’s MODIS available as an overlay for Google Earth, which currently shows the extent of the oil spill through April 29, and we’ll continue to add more imagery as it becomes available. We’ve also made radar images from ESA’s ENVISAT available through this KML file. Below, you can see the progression of the spill over time.


To view this imagery and other datasets in Google Earth, turn on the “Places of Interest” layer in the Layers panel on the left-hand side of Google Earth, then navigate to the Gulf of Mexico and click on the red icon.


In addition to this imagery, our site contains maps of the locations of the oil, fishing closures and affected areas, the ability to upload videos directly to YouTube, and a link to a site where people in the area can contribute their observations. We hope these resources are useful to those affected by the spill, those responding to it and those learning about its devastating effects on the people and environment of the Gulf Coast.

Posted by Christiaan Adams, Google Crisis Response team

Mission Blue: Earth to include 3D maps of the world’s oceans and videos

April 8, 2010 · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Featured, Google, Google API, Technology News 

Last year, Google launched Ocean in Google Earth, expanding the scope of Earth to include 3D maps of the world’s oceans and videos, photos and narrative from the world’s leading scientists and media sources to bring them to life. We worked with more than 100 partners to begin to fill in the “blue” part of the planet, adding hundreds of placemarks in more than 20 ocean layers. Since then, we’ve added hundreds of new posts to the Ocean layer with the help of Sylvia Earle’s Mission Blue Foundation and dozens of committed individuals around the world. The posts come from a diverse range of partners including National Geographic, independent videographers and dive enthusiasts, government organizations like the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and international organizations like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Today, the layer will become part of the default set of annotations seen by all Earth users. Although a humble step given the dearth of information available about these vast expanses of geography, we are happy to take one more step to make the oceans a first-class part of Google Earth and to give them at least a starter portion of the thick soup of photos and places that describe the land part of the planet. One of the greatest things about Earth is that it allows everyone to see and experience the fullness of their planet, from revisiting places they know well to venturing out to formerly unknown mountain peaks, desert vistas, and increasingly, the blue heart of life on Earth. As Sylvia has said of the Ocean on many occasions, “With knowing comes caring, and with caring there’s hope.”

Soon after last year’s launch, Sylvia asked attendees at the TED conference to help her realize a wish: to create a series of marine protected areas she calls Hope Spots. Sylvia and a group of influential thinkers are now on a Mission Blue Voyage to the Galapagos Islands to brainstorm how they might best achieve better ocean protection. You can follow them on their journey by visiting the the Mission Blue Foundation website and on Twitter at @MissionBlue. There you can learn more about the launch of their Hope Spots initiative and visit all 18 of these spots using the Google Earth plugin.


We’ve also created a narrated tour featured in the Ocean Showcase to introduce you to eight of the regions proposed for protection: the Eastern Pacific Seascape including the Galapagos Islands, the Gulf of California, the Mesoamerican Reef in the Caribbean including Belize, the Sargasso Sea in the mid-Atlantic, the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, the Coral Triangle, the Ross Sea in the Antarctic and Gakkel Ridge in the Arctic.

We’d also like to take a moment to thank the partners who have helped us improve our 3D canvas of the world’s oceans in the past year: NOAA (global coverage), MBARI (Monterey Bay Canyon), The California State University at Monterey Bay (California Coast), The Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping – Joint Hydrographic Center at the University of New Hampshire (Arctic) and The Living Oceans Society (British Columbia and Canada).

As Earth Day approaches, we hope you’ll take a little time to explore the planet, including the blue part.

Posted by John Hanke, Vice President of Product Management, Google Geo

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