Google's ingenious marketing and creative departments -- the folks who tirelessly reinvent the company's logo in the form of "doodles" (and by so doing seem to have taken branding to a whole new realm) -- have produced a new and equally irresistible gimmick.
This time around, as noticed by AllThingsD's Mike Isaac, it's a change to the Google home page's iconic "I'm Feeling Lucky" button.
When you mouse-over the button, it "spins" like the display on a slot machine and stops on any one of several "I'm Feeling..." phrases, among them: I'm Feeling Doodley, I'm Feeling Stellar, I'm Feeling Puzzled, and I'm Feeling Artistic.
Click on one of the phrases, and you're served a page that has to do with a Google effort and/or product or service that's relevant to that particular phrase.
Just now, for example, I gave the button a whirl, and it stopped at "I'm Feeling Playful." When I clicked I got a page about Google's doodle for "Gumby" creator Art Clokey's 90th birthday -- complete with behind-the scenes images such as an early sketch of the doodle and some production shots of the doodle's animation being put together. A link to the Doodles home page and a link to the "Doodles on Demand" store on the Zazzle Web site rounded things out.
"I'm Feeling Trendy" brought up the "Hot Searches" page that's normally accessible through a link on the Google Trends home page. "I'm Feeling Stellar" delivered a page about the Hubble Telescope and the Crab Nebula in the Explore section of the Google Earth site. You can take the button for a spin yourself and see what else appears.
As Issac notes, the ploy is a clever Easter-eggy way to introduce the millions of people who visit Google's home page each month to the company's various offerings.
The New York Times reported the news, adding that Foxconn said the increases would happen immediately and that overtime hours would be curbed at the factories as well.Continue »
In a post to Facebook's site governance section, the company's privacy team offers a look at its "first attempt" to re-organize, rewrite, and add interactivity to the current policy, which is essentially your standard mass of small black text.
Among other potentially interesting re-imaginings, the proposed redesign features an interactive tool intended to demonstrate how profile data is put to use in serving advertisements (click "Personalized ads" and scroll down to "Try this tool"). The tool puts Facebook members into the shoes of someone creating and targeting an ad. It's not clear if users would deem it an educational aid or a nuisance in practice, but that seems to be part of why the potential redesign is being put to public scrutiny in this way.
The privacy team says the rough redesign is "outside of even our regular process of notice and comment," and it continues:
"Because we're tackling a challenge that matters to so many people--and doing it in a way that is so different from what we've done before--we're giving you a look even earlier in the process. If people like what we have, we'll put it through our regular notice and comment process at a later date."
Facebook, of course, has been battered by high-profile complaints from privacy advocates, including a U.S. senator or two. Last year, the company, which hosts the private data of many millions of members around the globe, instituted major changes to user privacy controls in response to such concerns.
Still, the company has given some indication that it could continue its "shoot first, ask questions later" approach to privacy-related site changes. It launched a tweak this past January that potentially made users' addresses and phone numbers available to app developers. That change was hastily reconsidered after it touched off yet another kerfuffle about the company's practices.
In its post about the redesign, the privacy team speaks proudly of Facebook's "unconventional, innovative spirit." True, the aforementioned tool for explaining ads could conceivably break new ground in the staid world of "reading the fine print." (Heck, if you're gonna go interactive, why not get Zynga involved--"MarketingVille" anyone?) But the truly visionary move here might just turn out to be the outreach effort itself. Making an extra effort to solicit comment before instituting a privacy-related change? For Facebook, that could be the real innovation.This story originally appeared on CNET
Researchers are using nanoparticles to create a material sensitive enough to analyze a person's breath in real time and detect indicators of cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses.
Scientists at Purdue University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology said today that even though diagnostic breath-analysis tools have been around for several decades, this is the first time a material has been developed that's sensitive enough to deliver on-the-spot results.
"We are talking about creating an inexpensive, rapid way of collecting diagnostic information about a patient," Carlos Martinez, an assistant professor of materials engineering at Purdue, said in the statement. "It might say, '... you are metabolizing a specific compound indicative of this type of cancer,' and then additional, more complex tests could be conducted to confirm the diagnosis."Continue »
Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman may add a new job to her resume. She is currently director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), which deals space-related issues, ranging from international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space to managing the growing problem of space debris.
According to numerous reports, Othman will be named as the UN ambassador to extraterrestrials, if and when they contact humanity. The post will require approval from UN scientific advisory committees and the General Assembly.
Othman, who led Malaysia's national space agency before heading to the U.N., and helped train that country's first astronaut, is scheduled to speak next week at a Royal Society event devoted to the implications of alien contact and the need for necessary political processes to be in place should that contact occur.
"The continued search for extraterrestrial communication...sustains the hope that someday humankind will receive signals from extraterrestrials," publication The Australian quoted Othman as saying. "When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The U.N. is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination."
The publication also quoted Professor Richard Crowther, a specialist in space law and governance at the U.K. Space Agency, on Othman's suitability for the job: she "is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a 'take me to your leader' person."
Though contact with space aliens may not happen tomorrow, the recent discovery of potentially Earth-like planets, and of the existence of life forms in the harshest environments on Earth itself, have led to an increased focus on the possibility of extraterrestrial creatures. Famed physicist Stephen Hawking has recently helped to legitimize exopolitics, which looks at the public policy implications of alien life.
"To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational," The Times of London quoted Hawking as saying back in April. "The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like."
And how best to deal with them.
Othman seems to be sympathetic toward such life forms. As The Australian points out, under the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, overseen by the Office for Outer Space Affairs, members of the U.N. agree to protect Earth against contamination by taking the precaution of "sterilizing" extraterrestrials. But, The Australian says, Othman "is understood to want a more tolerant approach."
If Hawking's thinking is correct, however, Othman may be in for some challenging diplomacy. Though he suspects most aliens will prove to be microbes and small animals, Hawking warns against trying to make contact with intelligent ETs. He thinks they'd likely be cruising the starways in search of resources, and potential colonies.
"We only have to look at ourselves," The Times quoted Hawking as saying, "to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet."
But then, perhaps Othman's time at the U.N., and that agency's long history of dealing with the fallout from humanity's foibles, makes her the perfect candidate for the job.Update, 10:12 a.m. PDT: The story has been recast to include a newspaper report of Othman denying the purported appointment as an ambassador to the aliens.