“The number-one pop­u­lar gripe against Google is that they’re watch­ing ev­ery­thing we do on­line and us­ing it to mon­e­tize us. That one doesn’t both­er me in the slight­est. The ser­vices are free so someone’s got­ta pay the ren­t, and that’s the ad­ver­tis­er­s.”

Tim Bray, Ongoing, Google + 1yr 2015-03-29

Well, there are other ways to pay the rent. The fact that Google and its fellow data collectors are gathering so much personal information is beyond creepy. These apps are not free and the price that the users are paying may be far too high in both the short and long runs.

Recent Earthquake Activity

For those curious about earthquakes here is another nifty Google search feature:

Search for recent earthquake activity
Now when you do a Google search in the U.S. for “earthquake,” you’ll
get information on some of the most recent, significant earthquakes
from around the world, right on the search results page. Type
“earthquake” into the search box followed by the city and state or
U.S. zip code. Or for recent earthquake activity in other parts of the
world, just type in “earthquake.” The data is provided by the US
Geological Survey (USGS), and you can click through to the USGS
Earthquake Center for more information, or visit the epicenter of any
quake using Google Maps.

Here is the result for a search on just “earthquake” done at 16:44 MDT:

Recent earthquakes
Magnitude Location Time
2.9 Northern California 5 hours ago Map
5.4 Pagan region, Northern Mariana Islands 7 hours ago Map
4.3 Northern California Yesterday Map
(ED: Unfortunately my formatting is not quite as good as the original)

Via the Google Friends Newsletter.

Browsing the Stars

For all of you backyard and desktop sky watchers Google just announced Google Sky. From the Google Lat Long Blog:

And so I’m delighted to announce the launch of the web version of Google Sky, which turns your browser into a virtual telescope that can zoom and pan across the entire cosmos. You now have several ways to easily explore the universe:

* Powerful search that lets you browse tens of thousands of named objects.
* Three optical sky surveys that show you what your naked eye would see if it had a really good zoom lens. Try switching to infrared, microwave, ultraviolet, or x-ray to see the sky in a completely different light. Or blend between these views to create unique visualizations on the fly.
* Galleries highlighting the best images from Hubble and many other telescopes.
* Current planet positions and constellations.
* Overlays of custom KML content. (Simply paste a Sky KML URL into the search box, just like on Google Maps.)
* Last but not least, the Earth & Sky podcasts gallery is not to be missed, particularly for those who run a classroom.

All of this is accessible from any web browser, on any operating system, with no extra download required.

I haven’t had but a few minutes too work with this but it looks to be quite cool.

However, one of the first things I wanted to do does not appear to be currently available: give it an address and have it present the night sky from that location. I may have missed it so please let me know if you figure out how to do this or something similar with latitude and longitude or….
And, you can zoom beyond the resolution they currently support.

Blogger Pictures Can Suck You In

Have you checked out the Blogger picture player? It has been around since September but I just ran across it:

Blogger Play will show you a never-ending stream of images that were just uploaded to public Blogger blogs. You can click the image to be taken directly to the blog post it was uploaded to, or click “show info” to see an overlay with the post title, a snippet of the body, and some profile information about the blogger who uploaded it.

Give it a try! Beware, though, some NSFW photos will scroll by:

Blogger Play

I found it pretty absorbing.

How long did you get stuck there the first time?