Expanding the Internet domain space

In 2016, it’s estimated that almost half of the world’s population will be online, yet nearly 50 percent of the websites we visit are found in the .com top-level domain (TLD), which was among the first TLDs created in 1984. Despite the great opportunities the web has enabled for people around the world, there is still a lingering question about the diversity of the domain space (given that the number of generic TLDs has only increased by 14 in the last 28 years).

In 2008, ICANN announced a program to expand the number of generic TLDs (think .com, .org, .edu), developed through its bottom-up, multi-stakeholder process, in which we participate. Given this expansion process, we decided to submit applications for new TLDs, which generally fall into four categories:

  • Our trademarks, like .google
  • Domains related to our core business, like .docs
  • Domains that will improve user experience, such as .youtube, which can increase the ease with which YouTube channels and genres can be identified
  • Domains we think have interesting and creative potential, such as .lol
We want to make the introduction of new generic TLDs a good experience for web users and site owners. So we will:
  • Make security and abuse prevention a high priority
  • Work with all ICANN-accredited registrars
  • Work with brand owners to develop sensible rights protection mechanisms that build upon ICANN’s requirements
We’re just beginning to explore this potential source of innovation on the web, and we are curious to see how these proposed new TLDs will fare in the existing TLD environment. By opening up more choices for Internet domain names, we hope people will find options for more diverse—and perhaps shorter—signposts in cyberspace.

Update Jun 13: You can view the list of gTLDs we applied for below:

Explore historic sites with the World Wonders Project

I’ve always been fascinated by famous historic and cultural sites from around the world. When I was a child, flipping through encyclopedias while researching for school projects, the thought of exploring these sites was a distant dream. With the new Google World Wonders Project, that dream is now a little closer for students and others around the globe.

The World Wonders Project enables you to discover 132 historic sites from 18 countries, including Stonehenge, the archaeological areas of Pompeii and the ancient Kyoto temples. In addition to man-made sites, you can explore natural places: wander the sandy dunes of Australia’s Shark Bay or gaze up at the rock domes of Yosemite National Park in California.

World Wonders uses Street View technology to take you on a virtual trip to each iconic site. Most could not be filmed by car, so we used camera-carrying trikes to pedal our way close enough. The site also includes 3D models and YouTube videos of the historical places, so you can dig in and get more information and a broader view of each site. We also partnered with several prestigious organizations, including UNESCO, the World Monuments Fund, Getty Images and Ourplace, who provided official information and photographs for many of the sites.

We hope World Wonders will prove to be a valuable educational resource for students and scholars. A selection of educational packages are available to download for classroom use; you can also share the site content with friends.

World Wonders is part of our commitment to preserving culture online and making it accessible to everyone. Under the auspices of the Google Cultural Institute, we’re publishing high resolution images of the Dead Sea Scrolls, digitizing the archives of famous figures such as Nelson Mandela and presenting thousands of artworks through the Art Project.

Find out more about the project on the World Wonders YouTube channel, and start exploring at www.google.com/worldwonders.

Next Era of Traveler Information

By guest blogger Michele Villnave

Its morning, the alarm is blaring and you have to drive to work today. After the coffee and figuring out what to wear—how do you decide which way you are driving to work? Like most of us, there is more than one way to get there, how do you decide? Do you go to the WSDOT website to determine the best route, do you check out the WSDOT iPhone or Android mobile app or do you take your chances and just wait until you see the first variable message signs on the roadway? Do you do the same for the trip home? These and other questions in this survey want to see how we are using information to plan our commutes.

We are asking your help to fill out “The Next Era of Traveler Information” survey. This 17-question survey asks you for information about how you use traveler information, and how it affects your commute decisions. The survey is part of an effort that is looking at how real-time traveler information technology is changing.

This survey will be part of a bigger project that will help member agencies understand how real-time traveler information is changing, and how to understand trends and new approaches to managing real-time traveler information programs. The project is part of the Enterprise Pooled Fund Study consortium of which WSDOT is a member. It is a multi-national group dedicated to the advancement of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS). This consortium includes members from the United States, as well as Canadian and European agencies.

Thank you for your time and assistance in filling out “The Next Era of Traveler Information” survey.

Local—now with a dash of Zagat and a sprinkle of Google+

Finding the best places to go is an essential part of our lives, as are the people and resources that help us make those decisions. In fact, the opinions of friends, family or other trusted sources are often the first we seek when looking for the perfect restaurant for date night or the cafe that makes the best latte ever.

Today, we’re rolling out Google+ Local, a simple way to discover and share local information featuring Zagat scores and recommendations from people you trust in Google+. Google+ Local helps people like my husband turn a craving—“Wow, I need brunch”—into an afternoon outing: “Perfect, there’s a dim sum place with great reviews just two blocks from here. Let’s go.” It’s integrated into Search, Maps and mobile and available as a new tab in Google+—creating one simple experience across Google.

Local information integrated across Google
From the new “Local” tab on the left-hand side of Google+, you can search for specific places or browse for ones that fit your mood. If you click on a restaurant, or a museum (or whatever), you’ll be taken to a local Google+ page that includes photos, Zagat scores and summaries, reviews from people you know, and other useful information like address and opening hours.

Google+ Local is also integrated across other products you already use every day. If you’re looking for a place on Search or Maps, you get the same great local information there too. You can also take it on the go with Google Maps for mobile on your Android device, and soon on iOS devices.

A search on Google Maps

Google+ Local on an Android phone

Better decisions with Zagat
Since Zagat joined the Google family last fall, our teams have been working together to improve the way you find great local information. Zagat has offered high-quality reviews, based on user-written submissions and surveys, of tens of thousands of places for more than three decades. All of Zagat’s accurate scores and summaries are now highlighted on local Google+ pages.

Each place you see in Google+ Local will now be scored using Zagat’s 30-point scale, which tells you all about the various aspects of a place so you can make the best decisions. For example, a restaurant that has great food but not great decor might be 4 stars, but with Zagat you’d see a 26 in Food and an 8 in Decor, and know that it might not be the best place for date night.

Recommendations and reviews from people you know and trust
Your friends know what you like, and they probably like the same things you do. That’s why the opinions of people in your circles are front and center. If you search for [tacos] on Google+ Local, your results might include a friend’s rave review of the Baja-style taco stand in your neighborhood.  And if you’re searching on Google or Google Maps for a great place to buy a gift for that same friend, your results might include a review from her about a boutique she shops at all the time.

You can also share your opinions and upload photos. These reviews and photos will help your friends when they’re checking out a place, and are also integrated into the aggregate score that other people see. The more you contribute, the more helpful Google+ Local will be for your friends, family and everyone else.

Whether it’s a block you’ve lived on for years or a city you’ve never been to before, we hope Google+ Local helps you discover new gems.

Today is just the first step, and you’ll see more updates in the coming months. If you’re a business owner, you can continue to manage your local listing information via Google Places for Business. Soon we’ll make it even easier for business owners to manage their listings on Google and to take full advantage of the social features provided by local Google+ pages. Get more information on our Google and Your Business Blog.

(Cross-posted on the Zagat and Lat Long Blogs)

Next step in the Chrome OS journey

Last year we announced
a new kind of computer
This is the next step

All of you haiku fans (like many of us on the Chrome team) can stop here; the rest can read on for more details.

A year ago we introduced a new model of computing with the launch of Chromebooks. We’ve heard from many of you who’ve enjoyed the speed, simplicity and security of your Chromebooks at home, at school or at work. (Thanks for all the wonderful feedback and stories!) Today, we wanted to share some developments with you—new hardware, a major software update and many more robust apps—as we continue on our journey to make computers much better.

Next-generation devices
Our partner Samsung has just announced a new Chromebook and the industry’s first Chromebox. Like its predecessor, the newest Chromebook is a fast and portable laptop for everyday users. The Chromebox is a compact, powerful and versatile desktop perfect for the home or office.

Speed is integral to the Chrome experience. The new Chromebook and Chromebox, based on Intel Core processors, are nearly three times as fast as the first-generation Chromebooks. And support for hardware-accelerated graphics, a built-from-scratch multi-touch trackpad and an open-source firmware stack provide a much faster and more responsive computing experience. The new Chromebook boots in less than seven seconds and resumes instantly. With the Chromebox, you can be on a video conference while continuing to play your favorite role-playing game on the side.

An app-centric user interface
With the new user interface you can easily find and launch apps, and use them alongside your browser or other apps. You can pin commonly-used apps for quick access, display multiple windows side-by-side or experience your favorite apps in full-screen mode without any distractions.

Be much more productive...or not
  • Get more stuff done, online or offline: With the built-in ability to view Microsoft Office files and dozens of the most common file formats, you can access all your content without the hassle of installing additional software. Google Drive makes it easy to create, store and share with just one click. Drive will be seamlessly integrated with the File Manager and support offline access with the next release of Chrome OS in six weeks. With Google Docs offline support (rolling out over the next few weeks), you can keep working on your documents even when offline and seamlessly sync back up when you re-connect. In addition, there are hundreds of offline-capable web apps in the Chrome Web Store.
  • Have more fun: The revamped media player and a built-in photo editor and uploader enable you to easily play and manage your personal media collections. Through the Chrome Web Store, you can access entertainment apps such as Google Play, Netflix, Kindle Cloud Reader and Pandora, and thousands of games including popular games like Angry Birds and console titles such as Bastion.
  • Carry your other computers...inside your Chromebook: With Chrome Remote Desktop Beta, you can now securely connect to your PC or Mac from your Chromebook or Chromebox. With the underlying VP8 technology, it’s almost like you’re in front of your other computers in real time.
The (always) new computer
We’ve released eight stable updates over the past year, adding a number of major features and hundreds of improvements to all Chromebooks through our seamless auto-update mechanism. There’s a lot more on the way, so all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the benefits of the (always) new computer.

For those who want to try the Chromebook and Chromebox first-hand, we’re expanding the Chrome Zone experience centers. In the U.S., Chromebooks will be available to try out in select Best Buy stores in the coming weeks. In the U.K., they’re now available in a growing list of PC World and Currys stores.

Starting today, you can get the new Chromebook and Chromebox from our online retail partners in the U.S. and U.K., and in other select countries over the coming weeks.

(Cross-posted from the Chrome Blog)

A Renaissance in Driver Education

The past few decades have brought some big changes to driver’s ed in the U.S. While the traditional “30/6” model (30 hours classroom instruction, 6 hours behind-the-wheel training) is still a high school staple for many teens across the country, the industry has been evolving in some interesting ways.

Fifteen states, for example, now allow teens to complete driver’s ed requirements online, and private providers have increasingly entered the marketplace and replaced public course offerings. In fact, only about half the states even require teens to take driver education at all, in part due to myriad research findings over the years that have failed to demonstrate that driver’s ed produces safer drivers.

Nonetheless, driver’s ed remains popular in the U.S. as a means of teaching teens the basics of vehicle handling, traffic laws, and safe driving. But with debate raging about its effectiveness, and state economic pressures forcing cuts to public program offerings, we believe that it is time for a renaissance in driver education.

As a starting point for promoting long-term reform in the industry, members of the traffic safety community – including the AAA Foundation – came together for a national forum in early 2009 and adopted the Novice Teen Driver Education and Training Administrative Standards. These guidelines encourage states to upgrade the scope, quality, and oversight of driver education in topic areas such as program administration, content standards, instructor qualifications, and other important aspects of driver training.

As these standards are implemented, Foundation research will continue to help inform future developments and reforms in this area. Later this year, for example, we’ll be releasing findings from our groundbreaking Large Scale Evaluation of Beginner Driver Education, the most comprehensive real-world evaluation of driver education completed since the mid-80s. And our recently-completed reports on online driver education and supplementary training for new drivers touch on some of today’s hot topics in this field.

The end of NYTSM does not mean the end of our efforts to keep teen drivers safe. In fact, now that we’re even closer to summer vacation, all of us need to remember that these carefree months can only be enjoyed if each and every day is safe.

Banding Peregrine Falcons on the Ship Canal Bridge

Peregrine falcons are great to have on bridges. The falcons prey on pigeons and keep starlings away. The droppings of those birds can be quite corrosive to bridges so the peregrines help keep those populations on bridges in check.

This pair of falcons has been on the Ship Canal Bridge for about a decade. They typically have three or four chicks each year.

The fight against scam ads—by the numbers

This is the second in a series of posts that will provide greater transparency about how we make our ads safer by detecting and removing scam ads. -Ed.
Last month, I shared an overview of the technology Google has built to prevent bad ads from showing on Google and our partner sites, including our efforts to review accounts, sites and ads. To illustrate the scale of this challenge, today I’d like to provide some metrics that give greater insight into the scale of the problem we’re combating.

Bad ads have a disproportionately negative effect on our users; even a single bad ad slipping through our defenses is one too many. That’s why we’re constantly working to improve our systems and utilize new techniques to prevent bad ads from appearing on Google and our partner sites. In fact, billions of ads are submitted every year for a wide variety of products. We have a set of ads policies that cover a huge array of areas in more than 40 different languages. For example, because we aim to show safe, truthful and accurate ads to our users, we don’t allow ads for misleading claims, ad spam or malware.

Ads that are in violation of our ads policies aren’t allowed to be shown on Google and our AdSense partner sites. For many repeat offenders, we ban not just ads but also advertisers who seek to abuse our advertising system to take advantage of people. In the case of ads that are promoting counterfeit goods, we typically ban the advertiser after only one violation. Here are some metrics that give some insight into the scale of the impact we have had over time, showing the numbers of actions we’ve taken against advertiser accounts, sites and ads. You can see that the numbers are growing—and growing faster over time.

Year Advertiser Accounts Suspended for Terms of Service and Advertising PoliciesSites Rejected for Site PolicyAds Disapproved
2011 824K610K134M
2010 248K398K56.7M
2009 68.5K305K42.5M
2008 18.1K167K25.3M
We find that there are relatively few malicious players, who make multiple attempts to bypass our defenses to defraud users. As we get better and faster at catching these advertisers, they redouble their efforts and create more accounts at an even faster rate.

Even in this ever-escalating arms race, our efforts are working. One method we use to test the success of our efforts is to ask human raters to tell us how we’re doing. These human raters review a set of sites that are advertised on Google. We use a large set of sites in order to get an accurate statistical reading of our efforts. We also weight the sites in our statistical sample based on the number of times a particular site was displayed so that if a particular site is shown more often, it’s more likely to be in our sample set. By using human raters, we can calibrate our automated systems and ensure that we’re improving our efforts over time. In 2011, we reduced the percentage of bad ads by more than 50 percent compared with 2010. That means the proportion of bad ads that are showing on Google was halved in just a year.

Google’s long-term success is based on people trusting our products. We want to make sure that the ads on Google are safe and trustworthy, and we’re not satisfied until we do.

Transparency for copyright removals in search

We believe that openness is crucial for the future of the Internet. When something gets in the way of the free flow of information, we believe there should be transparency around what that block might be.

So two years ago we launched the Transparency Report, showing when and what information is accessible on Google services around the world. We started off by sharing data about the government requests we receive to remove content from our services or for information about our users. Then we began showing traffic patterns to our services, highlighting when they’ve been disrupted.

Today we’re expanding the Transparency Report with a new section on copyright. Specifically, we’re disclosing the number of requests we get from copyright owners (and the organizations that represent them) to remove Google Search results because they allegedly link to infringing content. We’re starting with search because we remove more results in response to copyright removal notices than for any other reason. So we’re providing information about who sends us copyright removal notices, how often, on behalf of which copyright owners and for which websites. As policymakers and Internet users around the world consider the pros and cons of different proposals to address the problem of online copyright infringement, we hope this data will contribute to the discussion.

For this launch we’re disclosing data dating from July 2011, and moving forward we plan on updating the numbers each day. As you can see from the report, the number of requests has been increasing rapidly. These days it’s not unusual for us to receive more than 250,000 requests each week, which is more than what copyright owners asked us to remove in all of 2009. In the past month alone, we received about 1.2 million requests made on behalf of more than 1,000 copyright owners to remove search results. These requests targeted some 24,000 different websites.

Fighting online piracy is very important, and we don’t want our search results to direct people to materials that violate copyright laws. So we’ve always responded to copyright removal requests that meet the standards set out in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). At the same time, we want to be transparent about the process so that users and researchers alike understand what kinds of materials have been removed from our search results and why. To promote that transparency, we have long shared copies of copyright removal requests with Chilling Effects, a nonprofit organization that collects these notices from Internet users and companies. We also include a notice in our search results when items have been removed in response to copyright removal requests.

We believe that the time-tested “notice-and-takedown” process for copyright strikes the right balance between the needs of copyright owners, the interests of users, and our efforts to provide a useful Google Search experience. Google continues to put substantial resources into improving and streamlining this process. We already mentioned that we’re processing more copyright removal requests for Search than ever before. And we’re also processing these requests faster than ever before; last week our average turnaround time was less than 11 hours.

At the same time, we try to catch erroneous or abusive removal requests. For example, we recently rejected two requests from an organization representing a major entertainment company, asking us to remove a search result that linked to a major newspaper’s review of a TV show. The requests mistakenly claimed copyright violations of the show, even though there was no infringing content. We’ve also seen baseless copyright removal requests being used for anticompetitive purposes, or to remove content unfavorable to a particular person or company from our search results. We try to catch these ourselves, but we also notify webmasters in our Webmaster Tools when pages on their website have been targeted by a copyright removal request, so that they can submit a counter-notice if they believe the removal request was inaccurate.

Transparency is a crucial element to making this system work well. We look forward to making more improvements to our Transparency Report—offering copyright owners, Internet users, policymakers and website owners the data they need to see and understand how removal requests from both governments and private parties affect our results in Search.

Update December 11, 2012: Starting today, anyone interested in studying the data can download all the data shown for copyright removals in the Transparency Report. We are also providing information about how often we remove search results that link to allegedly infringing material. Specifically, we are disclosing how many URLs we removed for each request and specified website, the overall removal rate for each request and the specific URLs we did not act on. Between December 2011 and November 2012, we removed 97.5% of all URLs specified in copyright removal requests. Read more on Policy by the Numbers.

Google+ for Android: polish and performance

We continue to work toward a simpler, more beautiful Google, and today we're accelerating these efforts with a new Google+ app for Android phones. The update includes lots of highly-requested features—like the ability to start a hangout on the go, and to edit posts inline—as well as a stream that celebrates the rich content shared across Google+. In all cases we're building for a mobile future, and we're excited about what's ahead.

Start a hangout from anywhere, and ring the folks that matter most
With Hangouts we want to help people connect face-to-face-to-face—at any time, from anywhere. Of course, there's really only one device that's always by your side—your phone—so we've invested in mobile hangouts since early on. Today we're adding another important feature to the mix: the ability to start a hangout directly from your mobile device.

To get started, tap “Hangout” in the (new) navigation ribbon, add some friends and tap “Start.” We'll ring their phones (if you want), and if someone misses the hangout, they can ring you back with a single tap.

Share your favorites, and feel awesome afterward
When you share with your circles, we owe you an experience that's both intimate and immersive. Your time and your relationships are precious, after all, so your posts should make you feel proud. Today's new Android app takes this to heart, with full-screen media in the stream, conversations that fade into view and instantly-touchable actions like +1.

Do more, in less time
We think you’ll find today’s app nicer to look at, but we’re also making it easier to use. Improvements include:

  • A navigation ribbon that slides in and out, providing quick access to just about everything
  • The ability to download photos directly from Google+, and turn them into wallpaper
  • The chance to edit posts inline, in case you make any mistakes while on the go
The update is available now from Google Play (version 2.6), so we invite you to download Google+, and let us know what you think!

Selected screenshots from today’s new Android app

A faster, simpler Google Search app for iPhone

Starting today, when you use the Google Search app on your iPhone, you’ll see a completely redesigned interface that gives you faster results, beautiful full-screen image search, and a simple way to access all your Google apps in one place.

Search by voice, by typing, or with your camera

Get results, fast
When you’re on the go, you usually want to get things done quickly. Autocompletion of search suggestions is significantly faster in this latest version of the app, bringing you search predictions instantly with each letter you type. You’ll also notice that results load faster, and checking out webpages is easy with the slide-in panel. Quickly swipe back and forth between webpages and your search results, and swap between search modes like Images and Places with a swipeable menu. Finding text within a webpage is a snap as well; just try tapping the magnifying glass on the bottom menu option on any page.

Easily switch between search modes using the swipeable menu at the bottom
Swipe the slide-in panel to instantly return to your search results

Beautiful Image Search
Searching for images will never again be a chore. Tap the images button at the bottom of the search results page, and watch high-resolution images load into a beautiful grid. Browse the images by scrolling down the full-screen grid, or tap on a single image to get details about it and then quickly swipe from image to image. You can also tap and hold an image to save it to your camera roll to use as your wallpaper or share with a friend.

Full-screen image results take advantage of every inch of the screen

Swipe or tap on the edges to move between images
Sutro Tower image by Marc Liyanage

Simple access
We’ve put all of your favorite Google services in one place for easy access. You can choose to browse Google web apps, or see just the apps that you have on your phone. Sign in once, and you’ll never need to sign in again to check a quick email, view your next calendar appointment or see what’s hot on Google+.

All your Google mobile apps in one place

Download the Google Search app now for a fast, beautiful, simple search experience on your iPhone.

You Know the Laws. Now Set the Rules

As a parent, you’ve been setting rules and expectations since your kids were infants. Now that they’re learning to drive, the rules you establish just might save a life.

When your teen obtains a learner’s permit, you will be required to ride in the car when he or she is driving. This is your chance to impart driving wisdom directly, in real-time. But AAA Foundation research has suggested that teens don’t get enough practice managing a variety of challenging road conditions, such as driving at rush hour, in inclement weather, or at night. Getting this practice with a parent in the car is much safer for a new driver than first experiencing such conditions later on when driving independently.

When it comes time for your teen to trade in a learner’s permit for a license, your presence in the vehicle is no longer a legal requirement. But that doesn’t mean your role as coach, partner, and supervisor of your teen’s driving has ended (despite the fact that Foundation studies have shown that parental presence in the car plummets at this point). Laws vary depending on what state you live in, but all states have some form of graduated driver licensing (GDL) provisions, which impose restrictions on novice teen drivers for a period of time. These may include things like late-night driving prohibitions, passenger limits, or cell phone bans.

Knowing your state’s GDL laws is critical, but remember – these are simply the minimum legal requirements your teen must obey. As a parent, you have the right to establish stronger rules if you see fit, and to supervise your teen’s driving privileges even from outside the car. One way we recommend managing this: sign a parent-teen driving agreement that spells out when, why, where, and with whom your teen is allowed to drive, and stick to the rules you and your teen generate together. For more information and ideas about such agreements, visit www.teendriving.aaa.com.
Parent involvement in the learning-to-drive process is recognized as an important factor in keeping teens safe. Several states even require that parents attend special classes about the teen licensure and learning process, and ongoing Foundation research is investigating how to “train the trainers,” so to speak, as effectively as possible. Remember that driving is inherently risky for everyone, and even more so for teens. Nobody is in a better position to help them learn to manage and reduce those risks than you.

Alert! SR 520 bridge openings – getting information to you faster, better

Update:  We've worked with the Coast Guard to change the  rules of the bridge opening times.  They are now prohibited between 6:30 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. weekdays

by guest blogger Jamie Holter

As you probably know, we are building a new SR 520 bridge parallel and to the north of the existing bridge. If you don’t know that, stop here and take a moment to check out that story. That’s okay. We’ll wait.

To build the bridge, our contractor crews are working in the water and blocking the east navigation channel, the channel used by boats between 45 and 64 feet tall to travel from one side of the bridge to the other. During construction (through 2015), these boats must pass through the SR 520 drawspan to get to the other side. Yes, we must open the drawspan for these boats, it’s not an option.

We did work out an agreement with the Coast Guard to prevent drawspan openings during the peak commute (6a – 9a and 4p – 7p).

We alert drivers with yellow flashing lights and overhead signs and we do send out a press release when we are inside that one hour window of an opening, but we’ve been hearing through our WSDOT twitter feed that you’d like more warning, maybe even warnings sent to your phone so you can plan ahead and leave early to beat the boat.

Done! We’ve spent the last few days working out the bugs on a new automated alert system that will send a text message to your phone or email when we are within that one or two-hour window of a bridge opening. Just go to our email alert system page and choose SMS/Text from the drop down menu, punch in your phone number (or email if that’s what you like) and sign up for the new alert called “SR 520 Bridge Opening”. Voila! Done. You will get a text message sent to your phone or email with the closure time and date.

For long range planners, we post all our scheduled bridge openings on our marine page and our What’s Happening Now page. People tell us the What’s Happening Now page is very useful because it just has the big closures in the greater Seattle/Bellevue area.

We do know some folks are frustrated with the bridge openings and we do know some want those “do not open” times expanded, but we’re working within current Coast Guard guidelines and it’s not in the cards.  We’re trying to balance the needs of boat traffic, rubber tire traffic and construction work. It tough, but we’re all looking forward to the new beautiful floating bridge as soon as December 2014.

We'll get the road to Artist Point open this year

Snow buries the road to Artist PointWe made the call this week to reopen the road to Artist Point, despite some seriously deep snow. It’s going to take some work, but we're going to make it happen. (Where and what is Artist Point?)

We hopped in a couple snowcatsyesterday, courtesy of the Mount Baker Ski Area, and climbed up the side of the mountain to Artist Point to check snow conditions and measure depths. 

Technically, we didn’t make it all the way to the top in the snowcats. We ended up getting stuck a short distance from the upper parking lot. The sun and warmth had softened the snow too much for the snowcats. So we had to get out and hike the last quarter mile or so. No biggie; it was a beautiful day to be on the mountainside. It was a little tough to hike in the soft snow but we managed – I know what you’re thinking, “boohoo for me.” J

Taking GPS depth measurements
Let me tell you, Mount Shuksan looked amazing. What a special place Artist Point is. The pictures from the trip are great, but they just can’t do it justice; you have to be there to experience it.

Measuring snow depths in the shadow of Mount ShuksanAnyway, the snow was about 30 feet deep in the upper parking lot. It was 26 feet deep over the restroom in the upper lot. There was one spot, just before the upper lot, where the snow was in the ballpark of 50 feet deep – that’s where the wind typically drifts and piles it up. For the most part, the snow was between 20 and 30 feet deep over the entire stretch of the roadway.

We have our work cut out for us this year. The plan is to send some equipment to the upper parking lot next week to start working on the deepest spots and cut some drainage ditches. We can’t do a whole lot of work until after the big Ski to Sea race at the end of May. They kind of need the snow in place for a successful event. We hope to hit the snow clearing hard by mid-June, provided the weather cooperates, and then, if we’re lucky, we could have the road open sometime in July.

Let’s hope this warm weather continues because it can move a whole lot more snow a lot faster than we can with our snowblowers and bulldozers. Last year’s spring was dismal (to put it nicely), and we never really got the warmth needed to melt the snow. Consequently, we didn’t open the road all the way to Artist Point. If I remember correctly, it continued to snow through June. Bleh!

Artist Point is open year-round, but it should be a whole lot easier to get to this year with the road open. I’m sure this comes as great news to many. 
View of Mt Shuksan from Artist Point

With views like this, it's easy to see why Artist Point is such a special and beloved place. It boasts 360-degree-panoramic mountain views of the Cascades, Mount Shuksan, Mount Baker and more. People come from all over the world for the incredible views.

Eyes on the Road, Hands on the Wheel, Mind on the Task

Distracted driving is a hot topic in the traffic safety field, particularly as it relates to teen drivers. Teens are believed to be particularly susceptible to the dangers posed by distracted driving, as they are among the most avid adopters of new technologies, and they have the least experience managing risks behind the wheel.

Recently, we released the results from our naturalistic teen driver study, which is among the first to examine teen distracted driving through direct observation using in-vehicle cameras.

Electronic device use accounted for nearly one third of all the incidences of distracted driving observed in the study. Other frequent distractions included adjusting vehicle controls, personal grooming, and eating or drinking.

Interestingly, females were nearly twice as likely as males to use an electronic device while driving, and overall were nearly 10% more likely to be observed engaging in other distracted behaviors, such as reaching for an object in the vehicle and eating or drinking. Males, on the other hand, were roughly twice as likely to turn around in their seats while driving, and were also more likely to communicate with people outside of the vehicle.

Teens were twice as likely to text or type on their electronic devices as they were to make handheld calls. Recent reports suggest teens send between 3,000 to 4,000 texts per month, and with texting estimated to increase crash risk at least eight times, the findings underscore how critical it is for teens to put down their devices and pay attention to driving.

Other concerning behaviors involved teens driving with teen passengers. Loud conversation and horseplay were more than twice as likely to occur when multiple teens – instead of just one – were present. These distractions are particularly concerning, as they were found to be associated with serious incidents and high g-force events. Drivers were six times more likely to have a serious incident when there was loud conversation in the vehicle, and were more than twice as likely to have a high g-force event when there was horseplay.

As we continue with our observance of National Youth Traffic Safety Month, I urge everybody – not just teens – to remember the three simple rules of attentive driving: keep your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and mind on the task at hand. Put your texts and calls on hold, or the next message your friends receive may be from the hospital.

Next stop: the great beneath

Giant blue cranes and drill rigs prepare a path for the tunnel boring machine.
Giant blue cranes and drill rigs at the SR 99
tunnel boring machine launch pit site.
By guest blogger Chad Schuster

They stand in clusters, a half-dozen or so of them, 170-foot towers of steel in a large field of dirt to the west of Seattle’s stadiums. From the sky they look like giant robots chatting it up, or preparing for battle, maybe. Whatever they’re doing, you can tell it’s big. Really big.

"They’re a little bit like trailblazers," said Matt Preedy, WSDOT’s deputy administrator for the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program, of the giant blue cranes and drill rigs at work on the SR 99 Tunnel Project. "Their job is to prepare a path for the tunnel boring machine."

This being a tunnel, that path ultimately leads underground. But before the boring begins, crews must first build a launch pit – the task currently being undertaken by the cranes and drill rigs – where the machine will begin tunneling next year. Significant work also must occur in the ground alongside the tunnel route, which is why the tunneling operation, mammoth machines included, is set to begin a slow march north toward the ferry terminal before stopping just south of Yesler Way.

To make room, crews today rerouted six blocks of waterfront traffic from Alaskan Way to a newly improved road beneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct. For visitors to the waterfront, that means big changes to traffic, parking and ferry access starting today and lasting through at least early 2014. For fans of extreme engineering, it means the show is about to begin.

"These cranes and drill rigs are amazing, but they’re really just the machines behind the machine," Preedy said.

The machine is the project’s 57.5 foot diameter tunnel boring machine, the world’s largest. Currently being manufactured in Japan, the machine is scheduled to arrive next spring and begin its northward journey by the middle of 2013. Its departure point? You guessed it – the dirt field currently occupied by the blue machines.

Right now the machines are drilling concrete piles 100 feet into the ground to form the walls of the launch pit. Excavation of the pit will begin this summer. Crews are also busy relocating utilities and reinforcing a two-block section of the viaduct near Yesler Way, above the path of the future tunnel.

If all of that sounds complicated, you’re right.

"Tunneling is complicated business," Preedy said. "Coordination is key because crews have to deal with so many moving parts. We have a lot of exciting work to do before we turn the keys on the tunnel boring machine."

Fortunately you don’t have to be an engineer to enjoy the spectacle.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime project," Preedy said. "People really should come down and see it for themselves."

Note: Visitors to the waterfront can learn more about the SR 99 Tunnel Project and the nearby Pioneer Square neighborhood by visiting Milepost 31, WSDOT’s information center at 211 First Ave. S.

Speed Up Your Windows 7 PC

Many say that Windows 7 is the best operating system ever. Well, that doesn't mean it is the speediest of them all. You know best software would require best hardware to run it. Those who still have their old computers may not get the same performance as good as they had with Windows XP. Even if the computer comes with all the latest hardware installed, there are still many factors that can substantially slow down the performance. In this article, we are going to show you 6 useful ways to improve the speed and performance of your Windows 7.

1. Disable Unnecessary Visual Effects :
i. Right click on "Computer" in windows start menu and choose "Properties".
ii. Click on "Advanced System Settings" at the left pane. A Under the "Advanced" tab, click on "Settings" under "Performance" category. Select the "Custom:" option.
iii. Look through the list and uncheck the effects that you have no used for it. (Note: For optimum result, uncheck all the check box except the last four items). Click OK.
iv.Restart your computer. You will notice the result immediately. 

2.  Disable Windows Aero theme:
Windows Aero theme is the eye candy in Windows Vista/7. While its performance was greatly improved in Win 7 as compared to Vista, it is still taking up a large amount of memory and squeezes the graphics card to its maximum. If you can live without the eye candy, then it is a great choice to disable it.
i. Right click on the desktop and select "Personalize" .
ii.Chose One of the standard themes from the right hand side. "Windows 7 Basic" is a good choice.

3. Remove unwanted items from startup menu:
Some of the applications that you have installed are automatically added tn the startup menu without your knowledge. If you are wondering why your Windows take so long to startup, they are mainly the culprit. The best way to fix this is to remove the unwanted programs and services from the startup menu.
i. Press Windows Key + R and type "msconfig" in the run dialogue box.
ii. Go to the Startup tab. Uncheck the applications that you have no use for. (Make sure you do not remove any system services).

4.Use your USB flash drive as RAM In Windows 7:
There is this awesome and useful feature that allows you to use your USB flash drive as an external RAM. Before you start, make sure that you are using a freshly formatted USB drive.
i. Plug in your USB drive. Right click on the USB drive in My Computer window and select Property.
ii. Under "Ready Boost" tab, check the box "Use this device".
iii. Configure the space of your USB flash drive that you want to allocate for system speed.

5. Disable unnecessary system sounds When it is active:
The system sound can take up a lot of system resources and slow down the computer.
i. Press Windows Key + R to open the Run window. Type "mmsys.cpl" and hit Enter.
ii. Go to the Sound tab. Select "No Sounds" from the Sound Scheme dropdown box.
Now enjoy the speedy Windows7!

Room for One More? Nope

Last week we touched on the importance of night driving restrictions for novice teen drivers. This week we turn our attention to another key component of graduated driver licensing: passenger limits.

Today, the AAA Foundation released a new report,Teen Driver Risk in Relation to Age and Number of Passengers, detailing how much the risk of a teen driver getting into a crash is affected by the number and age of the passengers he or she is carrying. The results largely corroborate the findings of earlier studies that were conducted before many states enacted passenger restrictions as part of their GDL systems.

Compared with driving alone, a 16- or 17-year-old driver carrying one passenger younger than 21 (and with no older passengers) has a 44 percent greater chance of death per mile driven. Having two passengers younger than 21 doubles the risk of death, compared with driving alone. Carrying three or more young passengers quadruples the risk of death.

In contrast, a 16- or 17-year-old driver’s risk of death per mile driven is reduced 62 percent when driving with an adult aged 35 or older.

These startling numbers point to two things. First, they highlight how important it is that states have worked to enact passenger limits for novice teen drivers. Currently, 45 states and the District of Columbia have such restrictions in place, though many of these do allow one teen peer to be in the vehicle. Second, they serve as a strong reminder of the protective influence that adult passengers have on teen drivers, and the benefits of parents continuing to drive with their teens even after the learner’s permit phase has ended.

Other Foundation research has also touched on the issue of teens with passengers. Our recent naturalistic study of teen distracted driving found that loud conversation and horseplay were more than twice as likely to occur when teens drove with multiple teen passengers compared to when only one teen passenger was present. These were also among the riskiest distracting conditions for teen drivers: serious incidents, for example, were six times more likely to occur when there was loud conversation in the vehicle.

As teens gear up for prom, graduation, end-of-year parties, and summer vacation, the temptation to pile friends into the car and hit the open road is going to rise with the temperature. But since the risk of driver death also rises with each additional passenger, we take this opportunity to remind everybody of the importance of passenger restrictions, and the right parents have to set their own – even if their state hasn’t.

Create A Free Website

We all know that making a website is very important in the age of Internet when we think of expressing ourselves. Many want to have their own website for passion and hobby. Not only that for earning money online we also need a professional website. But who don't know abc of making a website the article for them. I will tell you about a site which allows you to create two free website.
You can easily make your website professional. Here is dragging and dropping system. Yes the site is Weebly. You can make your website in three minutes. The most surprising and useful matter is here you can create blogs with your website. If you know Html, Css and some programming knowledge, you can edit free theme of Weebly. You can have all the privileges of a professional website. It will be useful for those who want to make a website and a blog. If you want to earn through Adsense, you can get a Google adsense account with the recommendation of Weebly. But for that you have to wait. At first you should make your site fully complete. Click here to sign up with WeeblyThank you for reading the article. Click here to sign up with Weebly. Thank You.

Helpfulbox.com Review


I stumbled upon Helpfulbox.com while browsing for available legitimate online jobs. One project poster is hiring for freelancers that can create thousands of questions and provide some answers as well. He mentioned about creating an account on helpfulbox.com. Out of curiosity, I checked the site right away and learned interesting things about the site.

What is helpfulbox.com?
It is a question and answer website. The company is mainly located in Kansas City, Mo. Everyone are free to ask and answer several questions. 

How does it work?
You should register as a member on the site in order to gain some points and earn extra bucks. You fill out on the form your username, age, email and password. Then click on create account. 

When asking question, just click Ask a Question on the upper right corner of the page. Select the category for your question. For guest users, you should provide your email so you will be notified when receiving answers to your question posted on the site. Next, you key in your question on the text box provided. Finally, enter the verification code to clear some spam bots then click submit.

When answering any question, click Unanswered which is still located on the upper right corner. There are several unanswered questions available on the page. Choose any of these questions which you think you can answer well. You may also click on any of the categories on the blue box just on the right portion of the page. There are some unanswered questions there. Click on any of these unanswered questions, key in your answer with a minimum of 30 words. Remember, do not copy paste your answer from any website. Your account will be automatically banned. In addition, do not give irrelevant answers, porn links, illegal and violent information. Do not answer the same question over and over again since the system will be able to detect your activity.

How to earn cash from the site?
You can only earn cash through providing quality answers. Question are not paid. Answer only those unanswered questions in order to earn some points. You can request for payment once you reached US$10. This means you need to answer around 500 questions to reach the minimum payout. However, there is a high chance that your payment would be doubled or tripled depending on the quality of your answers. 

Now, answering several questions in a few days is quite difficult to achieve. Worry no more since you can ask help from your facebook friends and several others. They can login using your username and help you answer those available unanswered questions.

How much can I earn?
From the site's page, they posted there the corresponding amount of cash for questions you answered.

1000 answers = 25 dollars
2000 answers = 40 dollars
3000 answers = 65 dollars

How do I get paid?
Payment is through PayPal account. You can request payment using the site's contact form. You need to include the username you are using on the site and then your PayPal account. They will look over the answers you have generated before you get your pay.  

My verdict:
Getting quite a measly pay for a long time of work is not for me. I rather ask questions instead.  Well, if you have nothing much to do during your free time, this might be good for you. I have known some members from the site who tried to hire people to answer questions for them.

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