Google Code-in 2011

Listen up, future coders of the world: today we’re launching the second annual Google Code-in competition, an open source development contest for 13-17 year old students around the world. The purpose of the Google Code-in competition is to give students everywhere an opportunity to explore the world of open source development. We not only run open source software throughout our business, we also value the way the open source model encourages people to work together on shared goals over the Internet.
Open source development involves much more than just computer programming, and the Google Code-in competition reflects that by having lots of different tasks to choose from. We organize the tasks into eight major categories:
1. Code: Writing or refactoring code
2. Documentation: Creating and editing documents
3. Outreach: Community management and outreach, as well as marketing
4. Quality Assurance: Testing and ensuring code is of high quality
5. Research: Studying a problem and recommending solutions
6. Training: Helping others learn more
7. Translation: Localization (adapting code to your region and language)
8. User interface: User experience research or user interface design and interaction
On November 9, we’ll announce the participating mentoring organizations. Mentoring organizations are open source software organizations chosen from a pool of applicants who have participated in our Google Summer of Code program in the past. Last year we had 20 organizations participate.
Last year’s competition drew 361 participating students from 48 countries, who worked for two months on a wide variety of brain-teasing tasks ranging from coding to video editing, all in support of open source software. In January, we announced the 14 grand prize winners, who we flew to our headquarters in Mountain View, California to enjoy a day talking to Google engineers and learning what it’s like to work at Google, and another day enjoying the northern California sights and sun.
Visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on the Google Code-in site for more details on how to sign up and participate. Our goal this year is to have even more pre-university students in the contest than last time around, so help us spread the word, too.
Stay tuned to the contest site and subscribe to our mailing list for more updates on the contest. The Google Code-in contest starts on November 21, 2011, and we look forward to seeing the clever and creative ways all of the participants tackle their open source challenges.

The Google Earth Flight Simulator


It’s been more than four years since Google first added the flight simulator to Google Earth, and it remains one of the most popular features in Google Earth. As the quality of Google Earth’s imagery, terrain and 3D buildings have improved over the years, it’s helped make the flight simulator experience even better.



However, that wasn’t enough for user ‘that1anonymousdude’. He’s created a file that will modify your flight sim and let you turn the speed up really high. Using his mod, you can fly up to around 100,000 knots, while keeping solid control, and even fly up into space. It’s quite cool. Here’s a video of it in action:



His program modifies the flight sim config files to allow you to reach these crazy speeds (it doesn’t actually modify the actual Google Earth software). He’s released the source code so you can see how it works, and I’ve scanned it to verify there are no viruses or anything in it. However, always use caution when loading a third-party executable file on your computer.

The Apple VS Google and Microsoft

Market rivalry between the three most prominent technology companies Apple, Google and Microsoft (listed here in an alphabetic order, without any bias) has been well documented in the media. Each organisation has its loyal group of followers but also equally large group of critics. The reality for most of us is that we have to use bits and pieces of technologies, tools and services from all three suppliers. Comparing financial metrics gives an interesting perspective on each competitor but between the figures, my very biased and stereotypical view of those three companies…

Rank Company Market capitalization($ B)
2 Apple 319
5 Microsoft 233
16 Google 195

My impression of Microsoft is that it is ubiquitous in the personal computer world since overwhelming majority of desktop computers and laptops run on Microsoft software. You may not like Microsoft, or even totally hate it when their software crashes on you, yet you have no other choice but to use it. Microsoft software is a memory hungry beast and impossible to tinker with (forget trying to separate the pieces!) but that integrated “package” is so loved by “project manager” type of developers – just click on a few tick-boxes to configure individual pieces and “it all should work” (never mind how efficient it is and what it does under the hood).

Rank Company Total enterprise value ($B)
4 Apple 289
18 Microsoft 202
30 Google 164

Apple, on the other hand, is “cute and flashy” (pun intended), and practical to the point of pain (you can’t do things any other way but the Apple way, but they put a lot of effort into interface design and user interaction functionality so it kinda grows on you over time). The development environment is limited to a “toy world” of smart apps and is not a domain where any “serious stuff” can happen. For now, but who knows how far Apple will be able to push the boundaries with their “cloud initiatives”.

Rank Company Total physical assets ($M)
748 Microsoft 7,800
750 Google 7,760
931 Apple 5,870

Then there is Google, very plain (in comparison to Apple) and messy (in contrast to Microsoft) but still mostly free and “unbounded” (although sadly, things are starting to change on that front). You can totally get lost in the maze of Google products and services. The downside is that you may never own the “fruit of your hard work” if the company drops support for a specific product (due to “cloudy” and proprietary nature of many of Google products, unfortunately you cannot get the source code and continue on your own). But oh my, when it works, it works. If “it” doesn’t do something now, there is a good chance that this extra functionality will be added sooner or later (pity you never know when…).

Rank Company Revenue ($B)
78 Apple 76
100 Microsoft 67
365 Google 30

All in all, each company has its strengths and limitations, and their respective successes can be measured in different ways, as those financial metrics demonstrate…

Rank Company Total employees (thousands)
40 Microsoft 27.6
51 Apple 25.4
102 Google 15.1