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Steven Baker
1,497 followers -
Got any kahlua?
Got any kahlua?

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At Google, one of the main things I and my team work on is unstructured question answering, like you get when asking Google "How often does Halley's Comet come around?",  "What was the name of Invader Zim's robot?" or "How many cards in a standard deck?"

But, we realized sometimes you don't even know what question to ask, but would like to learn something cool, so we made it so you can just say to Google: "I'm Feeling Curious"

https://www.google.com/search?q=i%27m+feeling+curious

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This is a cute spin-off project from the core open domain question answering tech my team has been building.

http://www.cnet.com/how-to/tell-google-youre-feeling-curious-for-fun-facts/

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"With recently compiled data showing that nearly 80 percent of the revenue generated since 2000 by the two voter-approved transportation taxes is funding the extension of BART to San Jose through the East Bay, Mountain View and 10 other cities are joining forces to ensure that a bigger piece of the tax-revenue pie is divvied up to support North County projects."

http://www.mv-voice.com/print/story/2015/08/21/editorial-timings-right-to-exercise-political-might

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Faster, better, cheaper solar.

As the price of solar panels keeps dropping, one of the fixed costs for home solar installations is simply assessing a roof. When I installed my panels 2 years ago, the installer had to climb up on my roof with a tape measure and a device for measuring sunlight, take a bunch of manual measurements, and then go and make a plan. They must do this even for homes that don't eventually buy solar. It's a non-trivial cost.

Google just launched Project Sunroof, which uses the Google Earth aerial and satellite data to make this calculations for essentially every roof in an area all at once. It's not perfect, but it's a very good estimate and a good place for homeowners to start. Type in an address and get a rough idea of what a solar install would cost and return for them with typical lease/loan/buy options.

I tried it for my own roof and the results came out fairly close to the more detailed ones that I ran myself with my installer's help. I wrote up a blog post 2 years ago with those numbers if you are curious how they essentially work (http://gregable.com/2013/05/residential-solar-financials.html) as well as a more recent post with a years worth of actual data (http://gregable.com/2014/06/one-year-of-solar-and-tale-of-how-pg.html).

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This is creepy.

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The decline of the old gatekeepers, or how "news" became a term of derision.

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fascinating article about east palo alto.  If anyone has good recommendations for silicon valley history books, I'd love to read.  I don't know enough about its history.

http://techcrunch.com/2015/01/10/east-of-palo-altos-eden/

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