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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 February 15, 2019

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

        Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

        Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

        So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

        Joe’s Goals

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          Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

          Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

          Daytum

            Daytum

            is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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            Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

            Excel or Numbers

              If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

              What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

              Evernote

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                I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                Access or Bento

                  If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                  Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                  You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                  Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                  All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                  Conclusion

                  I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                  What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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