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20 Fascinating, Little-Known Facts About Google

20 Fascinating, Little-Known Facts About Google

It’s been 10 years since Google Inc. went public, and a little more than 15 years since Stanford University PhD students Sergey Brin and Larry Page formed the company that has become a universal verb–the “Xerox” of internet search.   But you don’t become a verb, or earn notoriety, without engaging in some eye-opening behavior. From its origins to its future products, from one co-founder interviewing candidates in a cow costume to the company’s attempts to model a genetically perfect human body, here are 20 fascinating facts about Google’s history and company (#19 will blow your mind!)

1. Google’s name is misspelled

The name is a play on the word “googol” (1 followed by 100 zeroes), because Brin and Page wanted to organize a “seemingly infinite amount of information on the web.”

2. Brin and Page are college dropouts (kinda)

Both young men had completed their master’s degrees and were on their way to becoming computer science “doctors” when the matter of a soon-to-be billion-dollar company got in the way.

3. Google’s was once housed in a rented garage

Unlike Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s founder), and Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard (HP’s founders), neither

Brin nor Page, nor their parents, owned the garage that housed the intrepid entrepreneurs. It belonged to their friend Susan Wojcicki (Google employee no. 18); and apparently, even though they has already been a company for two years, they moved into her garage and paid rent in part to help Wojcicki pay her mortgage. google-garage-1

    4. Like prisoners, every Google employee has a number

    It started with Page and Brin (Google Employees nos. 1 and 2) and extends to the 50 000th employee (Google has roughly 55 000 employees). To some, referring to professionals by a number might seem rude, or cult-like. But if you’re a hugely successful company, you can get away with just about anything.

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    5. Is that Sergey Brin in a cow costume stroking his udder?

    That actually happened, during a job interview, according to Doug Edwards, in his book, I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59.

    6. Not every perk at the Googleplex is free.

    The company is famous for treating its employees to the high life at its “Googleplex” headquarters in Mountain View, California: Free lunch (and breakfast, and dinner), free haircuts, free state-of-the-art gym, and the greatest workplace invention ever, the nap pod (see below). But some luxuries come at a cost, like full-body massages and dry cleaning. And some are downright exorbitant: Google once infamously hiked its onsite day care costs from $33,000 per child per year to $57,000.

    Google nap pod

      7. Google’s “do what you want” employee perk may be dead or dying

      That claim is being made by some current and former employees who bemoan the demise of the Innovation Time Off program. That program lets employees tackle undirected pet projects for one day a week (or 20% of their work hours).

      Google denies this charge. And that’s good, because it would be sad to lose a perk that resulted in Gmail, Google News, and AdSense (the pay-per-click ad platform, which accounts for 25% of the company’s revenue).

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      8. Google has lost top talent to its competitors

      Several former executives have bolted Mountain View for competitors like Facebook (Gideon Yu, Sheryl Sandberg), Yahoo (Marissa Mayer), and even the U.S. government (Megan Smith, the nation’s Chief Technology Officer).

      9. Technically, Google is more than 150 companies rolled into one

      The company has acquired nearly 200 technology businesses since its inception, including YouTube, Waze (a GPS navigation app), and GrandCentral, the VoIP platform that now exists as Google Voice.

      10. Google doesn’t make “droids”

      This may come as a surprise to some iPhone users, who are accustomed to Apple’s hands in every aspect of the products they sell. Google’s primary smartphone product is not hardware, but software: the Android mobile operating system. For a brief period, Google owned the smartphone manufacturer Motorola Mobility, whose Android-powered phones (one of them is actually called the Droid) make up less than 6% of the Android market. Google’s own Nexus smartphones and tablets–like the new Nexus 6–are actually manufactured by LG, HTC, or Motorola Mobility.

      11. Google Glass may be coming to an airport near you

      One of Google’s chief hardware plays is Google Glass, the wearable technology that raised eyebrows when it was unveiled (and will soon have competition). Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, a consistent technology first-adopter,  is the first airline to try Google Glass to scan boarding passengers’ passports.

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      virgin atlantic and google glass

        12. Google has been involved with some spectacular failures

        Anyone remember Knol, Google’s attempt to compete with Wikipedia? Or the messaging apps Google Wave and Google Buzz? What about the social network Orkut? It held on for 10 years, thanks to a large fan base in India and Brazil, but has finally died an honorable death.

        13. Google is assembling an army of robots in its secretive skunkworks lab

        Not just robots, but a driver-less car, which is already legal in California, as well as Google Glass (see #11), and other “moonshot” ideas. The semi-secret lab, called GoogleX, aims to improve technology “by a factor of 10… [and to] develop science-fiction-sounding solutions.”

        14. Google wants the human genetic map to be searchable

        The latest GoogleX project, called Baseline Study, will collect and analyze biological samples from 175 individuals (followed by thousands more) in order to create a molecular database that can be searched for bio-markers (indicators of specific maladies).

        15. The company has one true “don’t be evil” division

        Google.org, the company’s “do good” philanthropic arm, says that it donates every year $100 million in grants and $1 billion worth of products to nonprofit firms and community causes.

        16. Google joins the search to find the root causes of autism

        One of those community causes is MSSNG, a project of the research-funding and advocacy organization Autism Speaks that will use Google’s Cloud platform to store the genomes of people with autism and their families. The goal is create an open-access database for scientists around the world to analyze.

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        17. By their own admission, Google has a diversity problem

        Its first ever diversity report revealed that just 30% of its employees are women and a combined 5% are Black or Hispanic.

        18. Historically, Google has been consistent, if nothing else, with its hiring of women

        Coincidentally (or not),  6 of its first 21 employees (or 29%)  were women–the 21st, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, is probably the most high-profile woman associated with Google.

        19. Google can read your mind

        It’s been doing that since 1 April, 2000.  Don’t believe it? Enter Google’s MentalPlex and find out for yourself. And if you believe that, then you probably haven’t noticed the date on that website.

        20. Google had an internal white board that listed a plan to colonize Mars

        So says Google Employee no. 59 in his book, I’m Feeling Lucky. (A different white board photo, which featured the idea of orbital mind control,” is shown above as the feature image).

        “People would just write anything on [the Google white board], and [outsiders] would come and say, “Is this for real?” said Edwards to Fast Company. “There was everything from Colonize Mars, to Take Over This Industry—all sorts of things that would not have gone over well with the Justice Department. They were all meant in jest,” he adds, “but were just close enough to reality that people would be like, Are they really gonna do that?”

        Featured photo credit: Google Whiteboard/Yoz Grahame via regmedia.co.uk

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        Last Updated on November 3, 2020

        20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

        20 Best Mac Apps for Productivity You Need in 2020

        Whether you use your Mac for work or just for your personal projects, you’ve likely found yourself wondering how to improve your productivity. There are only so many hours in a day, and so much mental stamina you can muster before you run out.

        There are dozens of tricks you can use to improve your own productivity and outlook, but if you’re looking for a more objective, comprehensive fix, the best thing to do is equip your Mac with productivity apps designed to help you do more in less time.

        This Lifehack-exclusive list has some of the best productivity apps to help you feel less tired, improve your energy, and ultimately help you get more done every day.

        What Makes For the Best Productivity Apps?

        Beyond productivity tips, there are dozens of productivity apps to choose from too. With that in mind, here are some of the core aspects of ideal productivity apps that have formed this list.

        • Non-intrusive – you want a productivity app to weave seamlessly into your workflow and not cause disruptions. From using the app to the overall display, it shouldn’t cause any interruptions.
        • Good interface – Again, you want to be able to use these apps easily and have them benefit you. The easier you can navigate around these apps, the better.
        • Fair pricing – Many of these have free trials that allow you a good chance to test before you buy. If you do decide to pay for it, the monthly pricing plans should be reasonable for what you are getting.

        1. Todoist

          Available for all iOS devices, Todoist is a note-taking and organization app that can keep you on top of all your projects—both personal and professional.

          Its best features are all free to use, including browser extensions, task creation, and interactive boards you can use to organize all your notes.

          If you want to pay the optional $29 yearly fee, you can get even more advanced features like backups and automatic reminders. Even with the free version, you’ll stay far more organized.

          Download: Todoist

          2. 1Password

            You may not realize it, but you probably spend a ton of time recalling your passwords, especially if and when you forget one to an app you use on a regular basis.

            1Password is an app for Mac that saves and remembers all your passwords for you in one place, so you can access all your favorite sites with a single click.

            You’ll save time and keep all your accounts secure simultaneously. A personal plan is $2.99 per month.

            Download: 1Password

            3. Bear

              Bear is a unique kind of note-taking app designed to make it easier for Mac users to jot down notes on the go. With it, you can create to-do lists, give yourself reminders, and outline concepts for future brainstorming sessions.

              It comes with many different inline styles so you can customize your notes to your personal preferences, and remember the context in which you wrote them. The core version is free, with a $14.99 per year version available as well.

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              Download: Bear

              4. Hazel

                Hazel by noodlesoft is an automated organization tool designed for Mac that will help you automatically organize your files based on any custom rules you want to create.

                For example, you can set it to move untouched items from one folder into another folder labeled “action items” if they haven’t been addressed within a week. It can save you hours of organization over the course of a few weeks. A single license is a flat $32.

                Download: noodlesoft

                5. Alfred

                  Alfred is an all-in-one app designed to save you time with Mac shortcuts and convenient custom actions. You can use it in a variety of ways.

                  For example, you can access Alfred’s clipboard memory so you don’t copy and paste the same material over and over, or set up custom workflows to automate some of your most repetitive tasks.

                  It’s a paid app, with multiple price points based on the features you desire.

                  Download: Alfred

                  6. TextExpander

                    TextExpander does exactly what the name suggests; it allows you to type a short snippet of text, and expand that text automatically.

                    For example, you can create a custom expansion that allows you to conjure a full paragraph you type repeatedly by simply typing a unique abbreviation. Once you get used to your custom combinations, you’ll spare your fingers from typing thousands of words.

                    An individual account is $3.33 per month.

                    Download: TextExpander

                    7. Backblaze

                      If you’ve ever experienced a crash, or theft of your Mac, you know how much time a system restore can cost you. You’ll spend hours replacing the files you lost, and lose thousands of files that are irreplaceable.

                      Backblaze is an automated, inexpensive way to back up your entire Mac for just $5 a month.

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                      Download: Backblaze

                      8. Keyboard Maestro

                        Keyboard Maestro is an older app that still has the power to make your life easier. With it, you can automate any number of tasks based on a certain trigger (such as a hotkey combination, or an event like connecting to a wireless network). A single license only costs $36.

                        Download: Keyboard Maestro

                        9. Snagit

                          There are many applications for a good screen-capture app, whether you’re trying to illustrate a tech problem you have or just want to make an interesting meme. Snagit makes it easy, with built-in editing for both still images and video. A single license covers two machines, and costs $49.95.

                          Download: TechSmith/Snagit

                          10. Bartender

                            Bartender is the cleverly-named app that helps you clean up and organize all your menu bar icons. You can also access them quickly with keyboard shortcuts.

                            If you’re like most Mac users, those icons get cluttered quickly and stop you from working efficiently. It’s free to try for 4 weeks, after which you’ll need a $15 license.

                            Download: Bartender

                            11. Otter

                            Otter is the Mac app for the note taker who hates typing. It’s an intelligent voice-recognition system and note-taking app that will help you transcribe your conversations, keep notes during meetings, and even take contextual notes to yourself in your own time.

                            Best of all, it’s free to get started!

                            Download: Otter

                            12. Flux

                              Do you often find yourself feeling tired throughout the day, or feeling unable to get to sleep after a day of staring at your computer? That could be because of the unnatural blue light that radiates from your Mac.

                              Flux naturally adapts your display to emit light that matches the time of day, so you can sleep better and feel less tired. It’s also free!

                              Download: Flux

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                              13. PDFpen

                              If you deal with PDFs on a regular basis, you probably find yourself wishing for some kind of tool that can let you mark up those PDFs however you want. Without a dedicated app like PDFpen, this can be difficult.

                              PDFpen lets you edit PDFs in almost any conceivable way, giving you more power and saving you time. A single license is $74.95.

                              Download: Smile Software/PDFpen

                              14. OmniFocus

                                OmniFocus is all about task management. It has a clean interface that allows you to tag your tasks, schedule events, and even automate certain features.

                                It’s one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market, so there’s a bit of a learning curve to get the most out of it.

                                A standard license is $39.99, while the pro version is $79.99.

                                Download: OmniFocus

                                15. Franz

                                  It’s tiring to switch between dozens of different chat programs like Facebook Messenger, Slack, and WhatsApp, whenever you want to have a conversation with a different contact.

                                  Franz’s solution is simple; offer access to all these apps in one convenient package. And best of all, it’s completely open source.

                                  Download: Franz

                                  16. MindNode

                                    If you’re the brainstorming type, you need an app like MindNode to help you efficiently organize your thoughts. There are dozens of tools you can use to connect ideas in a mind map, or simply jot down notes for future reference.

                                    The core app is free, with in-app purchases available.

                                    Download: MindNode

                                    17. Focus

                                      The internet is a wonderful thing, but it can be awfully distracting. And if you’re like the majority of us, you’ve interrupted work on a project because of some attention-grabbing site or bad online habit. That’s where Focus comes in.

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                                      This app allows you to block the worst offenders with custom time limits and other constraints, so you can focus on the task at hand. A single license is $19.99.

                                      Download: Focus

                                      18. CleanMyMac

                                        Chances are, your Mac isn’t working as fast as it could, thanks to gigabytes of clutter and unnecessary files on your system. CleanMyMac helps you scan your Mac, monitor its health, and ultimately clean it up—so you can handle all your tasks that extra bit faster. A single license is $39.95.

                                        Download: CleanMyMac

                                        19. Grammarly

                                          A spelling error or grammatical mistake can cost you big time. It could be the source of a worse grade on a big paper, or compromise your credibility in the workplace. Thankfully, Grammarly can help you.

                                          This Mac-integrated writing assistant monitors all your writing and makes live corrections, so you’re alerted to your potential mistakes before they become permanent.

                                          A free version exists, but the premium version will cost you between $11 and $30 a month, depending on how you pay.

                                          Download: Grammarly

                                          Focus To Do

                                            Focus to-do is one of the top productivity apps for your iPhone around. It even has a desktop client that you can connect to effortlessly. The app is built around two things: the Pomodoro technique and task management. It achieves these things with amazing balance. All that you have to do is create a task and then set the timer right within the app itself.

                                            There is also great flexibility with the Pomodoro technique as well. You can choose whether to take a 5 minute break, take a longer one, or even skip it. On the task management side, you can also create reoccurring tasks, reminders, and place a priority on tasks too.

                                            Download: Focus To Do

                                            The Bottom Line

                                            These productivity apps should help you squeeze more productive hours out of every day, but they aren’t the only tools you’ll have to help you find success.

                                            Make the time to learn about and experiment with all the life hacks that can make you more productive. By improving your devices as well as your outlook and focus, you’ll be able to get far more done in a day, and feel better doing it.

                                            More to Boost Productivity

                                            Featured photo credit: Patrick Ward via unsplash.com

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