Data Journalism Awards 2017: Call for submissions

With trust in journalism under attack, data journalism has never been more vital. And this year, for the sixth consecutive year, we’re proud to support the 2017 Data Journalism Awards.

But you need to get your skates on: The deadline is fast approaching for the only global awards recognizing work that brings together data, visualization and storytelling to produce some of the most innovative journalism out in the world today.

It’s a part of our commitment to supporting innovative journalism both in Europe and around the world.
Data Journalism Awards SS

Past winners of the $1,801 prizes include the New York Times, Buzzfeed, FiveThirtyEight, Quartz and IndiaSpend. 2017 hopefuls don’t have long: the deadline for this year’s awards is April 7, 2017 at midnight GMT.

And if you’re wondering why the prize is $1,801? That’s because in 1801 William Playfair invented the pie chart.

Aimed at newsrooms and journalists in organizations of all sizes—big and small—the #DJA2016 awards will recognize the best work in key categories, including:

  • Data visualisation of the year

  • Investigation of the year

  • News data app of the year

  • Data journalism website of the year

  • The Chartbeat award for the best use of data in a breaking news story, within first 36 hours

  • Open data award

  • Small newsrooms (one or more winners)

  • Student and young data journalist of the year

  • Best individual portfolio

The competition is organized by the Global Editors Network: a cross-platform community of editors-in-chief and media innovators committed to high-quality journalism, with the support of Google and the Knight Foundation. For Google, the Data Journalism Awards offer another way for foster innovation through partnership with the news industry, in addition to our efforts through the Digital News Initiative and the work of the Google News Lab teams around the world.

Data journalists, editors and publishers are encouraged to submit their work for consideration by joining the GEN community via this form by April 7 at midnight GMT. A jury of peers from the publishing community, including new jury members Esra Doğramacı from Deutsche Welle and Data Journalism China’s Yolanda Ma will choose the winners, which will be announced during a gala dinner at the Global Editors Network Summit in Vienna on June 22.

Good luck!

Simon Rogers is Data Editor at Google’s News Lab and Director of the Data Journalism Awards

Take your shot. Let Google give you the Assist(ant).

Your Google Assistant can help you follow all of the ups and downs of college hoops, from South Carolina’s surprise win to Villanova’s bracket-busting loss to this weekend’s nail-biting matchups.

bball

Here are some questions to ask your Assistant:

  • Tell me the latest sports news
  • How do you make queso dip?
  • What time’s the Wisconsin game tonight?
  • And when you’re with your friends, try: “Tell me a sports joke.”

Whether you’re cheering along with friends or already looking ahead to when you’ll definitely win the pool next year... the Google Assistant is on your team.

Reassuring our users about government-backed attack warnings



Since 2012, we’ve warned our users if we believe their Google accounts are being targeted by government-backed attackers.

We send these out of an abundance of caution — the notice does not necessarily mean that the account has been compromised or that there is a widespread attack. Rather, the notice reflects our assessment that a government-backed attacker has likely attempted to access the user’s account or computer through phishing or malware, for example. You can read more about these warnings here.
In order to secure some of the details of our detection, we often send a batch of warnings to groups of at-risk users at the same time, and not necessarily in real-time. Additionally, we never indicate which government-backed attackers we think are responsible for the attempts; different users may be targeted by different attackers.

Security has always been a top priority for us. Robust, automated protections help prevent scammers from signing into your Google account, GMail always uses an encrypted connection when you receive or send email, we filter more than 99.9% of spam — a common source of phishing messages — from GMail, and we show users when messages are from an unverified or unencrypted source.

An extremely small fraction of users will ever see one of these warnings, but if you receive this warning from us, it's important to take action on it. You can always take a two-minute Security Checkup, and for maximum protection from phishing, enable two-step verification with a Security Key.

The High Five: game time and morphin’ time

This week, we saw lots of high fives on the basketball court and among Power Rangers fans … but not on a particular episode of “Wheel of Fortune.” Here are a few of the top five trending Google searches from the week of March 20.

Tragedy in London

People turned to Google find out more information about the tragic attack in front of the U.K. Parliament in London, and developments in the days that followed. Many questions centered on the identity of the attacker, who killed four people in the deadliest terror attack in the U.K. in over a decade.

It’s searchin’ time

Children of the ‘90s, rejoice—and go, go to the movies. The Power Rangers are back, with a reboot hitting theaters today. Some people are nostalgic and searching about past Power Rangers, while others want to know who’s who in the new movie. One thing’s for sure, the graphics and costumes have improved over the last couple of decades.

Bracket racket

The NCAA Basketball Tournament is in full swing (oops, wrong sport). In addition to bracket updates and scores, people wanted to know: “What are the conference records for the NCAA tournament?” And “Gonzaga Men’s Basketball” is a trending search now that they’re one win away from their first-ever Final Four.

The other type of Court

Searches about Neil Gorsuch continued to rise this week, as the Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation hearing took place in Washington. So far, searchers seem to be in the “small talk at a dinner party” phase—they’re curious about his age, where he lives and his marital status.

wf

Not so fortunate

This week on “Wheel of Fortune,” Tennessee Williams fans groaned. And so did the contestant whose performance left something to be desired. With $600 on the line, Kevin was one letter away from solving a puzzle that read, “A Streetcar N-A-blank-E-D Desire.” He went with K (the correct letter was M). STELLLLAAAAAAA!!!!

Source: Search


The High Five: game time and morphin’ time

This week, we saw lots of high fives on the basketball court and among Power Rangers fans … but not on a particular episode of “Wheel of Fortune.” Here are a few of the top five trending Google searches from the week of March 20.

Tragedy in London

People turned to Google find out more information about the tragic attack in front of the U.K. Parliament in London, and developments in the days that followed. Many questions centered on the identity of the attacker, who killed four people in the deadliest terror attack in the U.K. in over a decade.

It’s searchin’ time

Children of the ‘90s, rejoice—and go, go to the movies. The Power Rangers are back, with a reboot hitting theaters today. Some people are nostalgic and searching about past Power Rangers, while others want to know who’s who in the new movie. One thing’s for sure, the graphics and costumes have improved over the last couple of decades.

Bracket racket

The NCAA Basketball Tournament is in full swing (oops, wrong sport). In addition to bracket updates and scores, people wanted to know: “What are the conference records for the NCAA tournament?” And “Gonzaga Men’s Basketball” is a trending search now that they’re one win away from their first-ever Final Four.

The other type of Court

Searches about Neil Gorsuch continued to rise this week, as the Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation hearing took place in Washington. So far, searchers seem to be in the “small talk at a dinner party” phase—they’re curious about his age, where he lives and his marital status.

wf

Not so fortunate

This week on “Wheel of Fortune,” Tennessee Williams fans groaned. And so did the contestant whose performance left something to be desired. With $600 on the line, Kevin was one letter away from solving a puzzle that read, “A Streetcar N-A-blank-E-D Desire.” He went with K (the correct letter was M). STELLLLAAAAAAA!!!!

Source: Search


The High Five: game time and morphin’ time

This week, we saw lots of high fives on the basketball court and among Power Rangers fans … but not on a particular episode of “Wheel of Fortune.” Here are a few of the top five trending Google searches from the week of March 20.

Tragedy in London

People turned to Google find out more information about the tragic attack in front of the U.K. Parliament in London, and developments in the days that followed. Many questions centered on the identity of the attacker, who killed four people in the deadliest terror attack in the U.K. in over a decade.

It’s searchin’ time

Children of the ‘90s, rejoice—and go, go to the movies. The Power Rangers are back, with a reboot hitting theaters today. Some people are nostalgic and searching about past Power Rangers, while others want to know who’s who in the new movie. One thing’s for sure, the graphics and costumes have improved over the last couple of decades.

Bracket racket

The NCAA Basketball Tournament is in full swing (oops, wrong sport). In addition to bracket updates and scores, people wanted to know: “What are the conference records for the NCAA tournament?” And “Gonzaga Men’s Basketball” is a trending search now that they’re one win away from their first-ever Final Four.

The other type of Court

Searches about Neil Gorsuch continued to rise this week, as the Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation hearing took place in Washington. So far, searchers seem to be in the “small talk at a dinner party” phase—they’re curious about his age, where he lives and his marital status.

wf

Not so fortunate

This week on “Wheel of Fortune,” Tennessee Williams fans groaned. And so did the contestant whose performance left something to be desired. With $600 on the line, Kevin was one letter away from solving a puzzle that read, “A Streetcar N-A-blank-E-D Desire.” He went with K (the correct letter was N). STELLLLAAAAAAA!!!!

Dispatches from the latest Mercurial sprints

On March 10th-12th, the Mercurial project held one of its twice-a-year sprints in the Google Mountain View office. Mercurial is a distributed version control system, used by Google, W3C, OpenJDK and Mozilla among others. We had 40 developers in attendance, some from companies with large Mercurial deployments and some individual contributors who volunteer in their spare time.

One of the major themes we discussed was user-friendliness. Mercurial developers work hard to keep the command-line interface backwards compatible, but at the same time, we would like to make progress by smoothing out some rough edges. We discussed how we can provide a better user interface for users to opt-in to without breaking the backwards compatibility constraint. We also talked about how to make Mercurial’s Changeset Evolution feature easier to use.

We considered moving Mercurial past SHA1 for revision identification, to enhance security and integrity of Mercurial repositories in light of recent SHA1 exploits. A rough consensus on a plan started to emerge, and design docs should start to circulate in the next month or so.

We also talked about performance, such as new storage layers that would scale more effectively and work better with clones that only contain a partial repository history, a key requirement for Mercurial adoption in enterprise environments with large repositories, like Google.

If you are interested in finding out more about Mercurial (or perhaps you’d like to contribute!) you can find our mailing list information here.

By Martin von Zweigbergk and Augie Fackler, Software Engineers

Updates in G Suite to streamline Hangouts and Gmail

If you were at Google Cloud Next this year, you may have heard that Gmail and Google Hangouts are getting several improvements designed for businesses, such as Gmail Add-ons and the evolution of Hangouts: Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. To make the most of these opportunities, we’re announcing several updates to Hangouts, Gmail and Google+ that make things much simpler for both enterprise administrators and users.
  • Streamlining the messaging experience for Android: At Google Cloud Next, we announced that we’ve evolved Hangouts to focus on two new experiences that help bring teams together and keep work moving forward: Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat. We’ve been working hard to streamline the classic Hangouts product for enterprise users, and, as part of this effort, will be removing carrier SMS functionality in the classic Hangouts app for Android, starting on May 22. For administrators: If your domain is affected by this change, you can expect to receive an email notification with additional details in the coming days.
    • Upgrading SMS with Android Messages: We want to provide a consistent and easy-to-use SMS experience for Android users, right out of the box. So we’re focused on making Android Messages the primary place to access SMS and are working with carriers and device manufacturers to include Android Messages natively in Android devices. Over time, we’re working with partners to upgrade SMS to RCS—the next standard in carrier messaging that will bring features like read receipts, group chat, hi-res photo sharing and more.
    • Hangouts on Android users: In the next few weeks, you’ll see a notification in the classic Hangouts app to switch to another SMS app already on your phone for SMS, or to download Android Messages if one isn’t available. Choosing a new messaging app will not impact your SMS message history, and all your messages will be accessible in whichever new app you choose. Note: This change does not impact Google Voice users who may continue to use Hangouts for their Google Voice SMS.  Project Fi users who wish to use Hangouts as their SMS app will also not be impacted by this change, and can consult the Project Fi forum for more detail.


  • Fully transitioning Google Talk to Hangouts: Google Talk launched in 2005 as a simple chat experience between Gmail users. In 2013, we began replacing Google Talk with Hangouts, while still giving users the option to continue using Google Talk. Hangouts offers advanced improvements over Google Talk such as group video calling and integration with other Google products. With the introduction of Hangouts Meet and Hangouts Chat, which add further improvements in meetings and team collaboration, it is now time to say goodbye to Google Talk.
    • Talk users within Gmail will receive a prompt in the next few weeks, inviting them to switch to Hangouts. After June 26, users will be automatically transitioned to Hangouts, unless contractual commitments apply. For users that preferred the Google Talk look, there is a Dense Roster setting in Hangouts that provides a similar experience.
    • Third-party XMPP clients will continue to work with Hangouts for 1-on-1 chats. XMPP federation with third-party services providers will no longer be supported starting June 26.
    • The legacy Google Talk Android app was replaced in the Play Store in 2013 and will now stop functioning. Android users are encouraged to install Hangouts now.
    • For G Suite administrators: If your domain is affected by this change, you will have already received an email notification about this change.
  • Retiring several Gmail Labs: Gmail Labs serve as a great testing ground for experimental features. Successful labs graduate, and low usage labs often retire. With the announcement of Gmail Add-ons, enterprises will soon gain the ability to add modern integrations in Gmail, which in some cases will replace or improve the functionality provided by some labs. So in the coming weeks, we will retire the following Labs: Authentication Icon, Google Voice Player, Picasa previews, Pictures in chat, Quick Links, Quote Selected Text, Smartlabels, and Yelp previews. (Expected: No earlier than April 24, 2017)
  • Retiring Google+ functionality in Gmail: As part of our continued effort to focus Google+ around shared interests, we’re retiring two legacy Google+ features in Gmail: the ability to email Google+ profiles and the use of Google+ Circles. (Expected: No earlier than April 24, 2017)
    We realize these updates may be an inconvenience, so we aimed to minimize disruption and help you navigate the changes where possible. These updates will help us focus and prioritize features that will improve the entire G Suite user experience for everyone. To monitor the retirement dates for these features, subscribe to the G Suite What’s New Calendar.

    Launch release calendar
    Launch detail categories
    Get these product update alerts by email
    Subscribe to the RSS feed of these updates

    Reliable releases and rollbacks – CRE life lessons



    Editor’s note: One of the most common causes of service outages is releasing a new version of the service binaries; no matter how good your testing and QA might be, some bugs only surface when the affected code is running in production. Over the years, Google Site Reliability Engineering has seen many outages caused by releases, and now assumes that every new release may contain one or more bugs.

    As software engineers, we all like to add new features to our services; but every release comes with the risk of something breaking. Even assuming that we are appropriately diligent in adding unit and functional tests to cover our changes, and undertaking load testing to determine if there are any material effects on system performance, live traffic has a way of surprising us. These are rarely pleasant surprises.

    The release of a new binary is a common source of outages. From the point of view of the engineers responsible for the system’s reliability, that translates to three basic tasks:
    1. Detecting when a new release is actually broken;
    2. Moving users safely from a bad release to a “hopefully” fixed release; and
    3. Preventing too many clients from suffering through a bad release in the first place (“canarying”).
    For the purpose of this analysis, we’ll assume that you are running many instances of your service on machines or VMs behind a load balancer such as nginx, and that upgrading your service to use a new binary will involve stopping and starting each service instance.

    We’ll also assume that you monitor your system with something like Stackdriver, measuring internal traffic and error rates. If you don’t have this kind of monitoring in place, then it’s difficult to meaningfully discuss reliability; per the Hierarchy of Reliability described in the SRE Book, monitoring is the most fundamental requirement for a reliable system).

    Detection

    The best case for a bad release is that when a service instance is restarted with the bad release, a major fraction of improperly handled requests generate errors such as HTTP 502, or much higher response latencies than normal. In this case, your overall service error rate rises quickly as the rollout progresses through your service instances, and you realize that your release has a problem.

    A more subtle case is when the new binary returns errors on a relatively small fraction of queries - say, a user setting change request, or only for users whose name contains an apostrophe for good or bad reasons. With this failure mode, the problem may only become manifest in your overall monitoring once the majority of your service instances are upgraded. For this reason, it can be useful to have error and latency summaries for your service instance broken down by binary release version.

    Rollbacks

    Before you plan to roll out a new binary or image to your service, you should ask yourself, “What will I do if I discover a catastrophic / debilitating / annoying bug in this release?” Not because it might happen, but because sooner or later it is going to happen and it is better to have a well-thought out plan in place instead of trying to make one up when your service is on fire.

    The temptation for many bugs, particularly if they are not show-stoppers, is to build a quick patch and then “roll forward,” i.e., make a new release that consists of the original release plus the minimal code change necessary to fix the bug (a “cherry-pick” of the fix). We don’t generally recommend this though, especially if the bug in question is user-visible or causing significant problems internally (e.g., doubling the resource cost of queries).

    What’s wrong with rolling forward? Put yourself in the shoes of the software developer: your manager is bouncing up and down next to your desk, blood pressure visibly climbing, demanding to know when your fix is going to be released because she has your company’s product director bending her ear about all the negative user feedback he’s getting. You’re coding the fix as fast as humanly possible, because for every minute it’s down another thousand users will see errors in the service. Under this kind of pressure, coding, testing or deployment mistakes are almost inevitable.

    We have seen this at Google any number of times, where a hastily deployed roll-forward fix either fails to fix the original problem, or indeed makes things worse. Even if it fixes the problem it may then uncover other latent bugs in the system; you’re taking yourself further from a known-good state, into the wilds of a release that hasn’t been subject to the regular strenuous QA testing.

    At Google, our philosophy is that “rollbacks are normal.” When an error is found or reasonably suspected in a new release, the releasing team rolls back first and investigates the problem second. A request for a rollback is not interpreted as an attack on the releasing team, or even the person who wrote the code containing the bug; rather, it is understood as The Right Thing To Do to make the system as reliable as possible for the user. No-one will ask “why did you roll back this change?” as long as the rollback changelist describes the problem that was seen.

    Thus, for rollbacks to work, the implicit assumption is that they are:

    1. easy to perform; and
    2. trusted to be low-risk.

    How do we make the latter true?

    Testing rollbacks

    If you haven’t rolled back in a few weeks, you should do a rollback “just because”; aim to find any traps with incompatible versions, broken automation/testing etc. If the rollback works, just roll forward again once you’ve checked out all your logs and monitoring. If it breaks, roll forward to remove the breakage and then focus all your efforts on diagnosing the cause of the rollback breakage. It is better by far to detect this when your new release is working well, rather than being forced off a release that is on fire and having to fight to get back to your known-good original release.

    Incompatible changes

    Inevitably, there are going to be times when a rollback is not straightforward. One example is when the new release requires a schema change to an in-app database (such as a new column). The danger is that you release the new binary, upgrade the database schema, and then find a problem with the binary that necessitates rollback. This leaves you with a binary that doesn’t expect the new schema, and hasn’t been tested with it.

    The approach we recommend here is a feature-free release; starting from version v of your binary, build a new version v+1 which is identical to v except that it can safely handle the new database schema. The new features that make use of the new schema are in version v+2. Your rollout plan is now:
    1. Release binary v+1
    2. Upgrade database schema
    3. Release binary v+2
    Now, if there are any problems with either of the new binaries then you can roll back to a previous version without having to also roll back the schema.

    This is a special case of a more general problem. When you build the dependency graph of your service and identify all its direct dependencies, you need to plan for the situation where any one of your dependencies is suddenly rolled back by its owners. If your launch is waiting for a dependency service S to move from release r to r+1, you have to be sure that S is going to “stick” at r+1. One approach here is to make an ecosystem assumption that any service could be rolled back by one version, in which case your service would wait for S to reach version r+2 before your service moved to a version depending on a feature in r+1.

    Summary

    We’ve learned that there’s no good rollout unless you have a corresponding rollback ready to do, but how can we know when to rollback without having our entire service burned to the ground by a bad release?

    In part 2 we’ll look at the strategy of “canarying” to detect real production problems without risking the bulk of your production traffic on a new release.

    Solution guide: backing up Windows files using CloudBerry Backup with Google Cloud Storage



    Modern businesses increasingly depend on their data as a foundation for their operation. The more critical the reliance is on that data, the more important it is to ensure that data is protected with backups. Unfortunately, even by taking regular backups, you're still susceptible to data loss from a local disaster or human error. Thus, many companies entrust their data to geographically distributed cloud storage providers like Google Cloud Platform (GCP). And when they do, they want convenient cloud backup automation tools that offer flexible backup options and quick on-demand restores.

    One such tool is CloudBerry Backup (CBB), and has the following capabilities:

    • Creating incremental data copies with low impact on production workloads
    • Data encryption on all transferring paths
    • Flexible retention policy, allowing you to balance the volume of data stored and storage space used
    • Ability to carry out hybrid restores with the use of local and cloud storage resources

    CBB includes a broad range of features out of the box, allowing you to address most of your cloud backup needs, and is designed to have low impact on production servers and applications.

    CBB has a low-footprint backup client that you install on the desired server. After you provision a Google Cloud Storage bucket, attach it to CBB and create a backup plan to immediately start protecting your files in the cloud.

    To simplify your cloud backup onboarding, check out the step-by-step tutorial on how to use CloudBerry Backup with Google Cloud Storage and easily restore any files.