TIME Web

The One Celebrity We Couldn’t Stop Googling in 2014

Thanks to a pair of blockbuster movies, a Golden Globe and a photo hack

Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence tops Google’s list of the top trending searches of people in the U.S. in 2014, the search giant announced Tuesday.

The 24-year-old star was in the news — and, inevitably, the Google search bar — for a lot of reasons this year. She starred in two blockbuster sequels, X-Men: Days of Future Past and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, and picked up a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her role in American Hustle. Lawrence was also at the center of the celebrity iCloud hack, in which dozens of famous women had their nude photos stolen and posted online.

Following Lawrence on the list was Kim Kardashian, who tried (and failed) to “#BreaktheInternet” by appearing nude on the cover of Paper in November and released a hit mobile game this year. In third place was 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan, who was involved in a serious bus wreck over the summer, while NFL running back Ray Rice, who was suspended from the league after punching his fiancée-turned-wife on camera, ranked fourth. Rounding out the top 5 was Tony Stewart, the NASCAR driver involved in the on-track death of fellow driver Kevin Ward in August.

The list is not necessarily the most-searched people of the year, but rather the people that had searches for their name spike the most compared to 2013. Here’s the entire top 10:

Top 10 Trending People in the U.S.

  1. Jennifer Lawrence
  2. Kim Kardashian
  3. Tracy Morgan
  4. Ray Rice
  5. Tony Stewart
  6. Iggy Azalea
  7. Donald Sterling
  8. Adrian Peterson
  9. Renee Zellweger
  10. Jared Leto


Read next: The Top 10 Everything of 2014

TIME Web

Robin Williams Was Google’s Top Trending Search of 2014

Robin Williams
Art Streiber—CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Robin Williams topped a list that also included the World Cup, Ebola, ISIS and Flappy Bird

Robin Williams topped Google’s list of the top trending searches in 2014.

The comedian and actor, who died in August, led the list of the people, places and things that got the biggest boost in search traffic this year compared to 2013. The list of actual “most searched” terms is actually pretty boring, Google says, because it includes generic terms like “weather” and website names like “Google.”

Overall, the list reflects the way global crises co-mingle with pop culture phenomena on the Internet. Second to Robin Williams was the World Cup, which sparked widespread discussion across the Web. Third was Ebola, the viral epidemic that sparked scares in West Africa and elsewhere around the world as it emerged in different locales. Fourth was Malaysia Airlines, which was in the news first for a plane that mysteriously disappeared in March and later for a second plane that was shot down over Ukraine in July. Rounding out the top five was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, in which people recorded themselves being doused in cold water to raise money for charity.

Check out the full Top 10 below:

  1. Robin Williams
  2. World Cup
  3. Ebola
  4. Malaysia Airlines
  5. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
  6. Flappy Bird
  7. Conchita Wurst
  8. ISIS
  9. Frozen
  10. Sochi Olympics
TIME Social Media

This Is the Best New Feature YouTube Has Added in Years

YouTube
A picture shows a You Tube logo on December 4, 2012 during LeWeb Paris 2012 in Saint-Denis near Paris. AFP—AFP/Getty Images

Convert a video into a GIF in two mouseclicks

YouTube has quietly launched a new GIF creation feature that could trigger an explosion of looping, frenetic clips across the web.

The GIF creator tab, now available on a limited selection of videos, makes selecting and sharing a clip dangerously tempting. The feature is buried in the “Share” tab, beside the usual options to share by “Email” or “Embed.” A new tab labeled “GIF” shows the video laid out frame-by-frame like a film strip. Drag two sliding brackets around any 6 seconds worth of frames and voila, the GIF appears readymade along with shareable links.

The feature was first spotted by former Kickstarter CTO Andy Baio, who enthusiastically spread the news to his Twitter following. So far it only appears beneath a tiny subset of YouTube videos, including some from PBS Idea Channel and Epic Rap Battles of History. Fans of the GIF rejoice, and have patience.

TIME Web

Inventor of Internet Tells Putin Web Is ‘Not a CIA Creation’

Sir Tim Berners-Lee Is Awarded Freedom Of The City Of London
Sir Tim Berners-Lee inventor of the World Wide Web arrives at Guildhall to receive an Honorary Freedom of the City of London award on September 24, 2014 in London, England. Peter Macdiarmid—Getty Images

Tim Berners-Lee says the Internet should be seen as a human right

The inventor of the world wide web refuted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assertion that the Internet is a “CIA project,” Reuters reports. The statement comes eight months after Putin’s comment, which made some worry that he might restrict Internet access in Russia.

Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the Internet in 1989, says the project did receive U.S. government funding, but was primarily built and popularized in the academic sphere as universities worked to get their campuses online.

Berners-Lee went on to defend the Internet against claims that interconnectivity is allowing the spread of militant Islamism through the distribution of videos like those depicting beheadings of journalists. “Like all powerful tools,” he said, “it can be used for good and evil.”

He continued: “It’s time to recognize the Internet as a basic human right. That means guaranteeing affordable access for all, ensuring Internet packets are delivered without commercial or political discrimination, and protecting the privacy and freedom of Web users regardless of where they live.”

 

[Reuters]

TIME Internet

Afghanistan’s Bruce Lee Impersonator Gains Internet Fame

Abbas Alizada, who calls himself the Afghan Bruce Lee, poses for the media in front of the destroyed Darul Aman Palace in Kabul
Abbas Alizada who calls himself the Afghan Bruce Lee poses for the media in front of the destroyed Darul Aman Palace in Kabulon Dec. 9, 2014. Mohammad Ismail—Reuters

He wants to make it to Hollywood

A Bruce Lee impersonator is gaining Internet stardom in Afghanistan, thanks to his Facebook page and imitations of famous Bruce Lee moves and poses.

“I want to be a champion in my country and a Hollywood star,” Abbas Alizada, or “Bruce Hazara,” as his Facebook page calls him, told Reuters.

Alizada trains twice a week to achieve his goal. From a poor family of 10 children, Alizada’s parents couldn’t afford to send him to a martial arts academy, but a trainer mentored him anyway. Now, he wants to make it to the big screen and bring some good press to Afghanistan in the process.

“The only news that comes from Afghanistan is about war … I am happy that my story is a positive one,” Alizada said.

[Reuters]

TIME Web

Pirate Bay Goes Offline After a Raid in Sweden

One of the co-founders of the file-sharing website, The Pirate Bay, Peter Sunde, talking to journalists outside the Swedish Appeal Court in Stockholm in 2010.
One of the co-founders of the file-sharing website, The Pirate Bay, Peter Sunde, talking to journalists outside the Swedish Appeal Court in Stockholm in 2010. Jonathan Nackstrand—AFP/Getty Images

The site, as usual, was back up within hours at a new address

Pirate Bay, the hard-to-kill illegal file-sharing portal, was taken offline on Tuesday, following a police raid on a server room in Stockholm.

The torrent site reappeared just hours later, at a new address hosted in Costa Rica, The Verge reports. Torrentfreak.com originally reported the website’s takedown.

“There has been a crackdown on a server room in Greater Stockholm,” read a statement from Paul Pintér, Stockholm police’s national coordinator for IP enforcement. “This is in connection with violations of copyright law.”

Pirate Bay has played a whack-a-mole game with authorities for years, disappearing only to reappear with a different domain name. Yet it had been consistently online for the past few months, appearing to have dogged authorities and settled into a permanent home.

But if the website has proved hard to nix, its founders have been easier catches for authorities. Co-founder Gottfrid Svartholm was in October sentenced to three and a half years in prison on an earlier copyright-related charge, and four other co-founders were also arrested this year.

[The Verge]

TIME Web

Now You Can Virtually Wander the Streets of Dubai

Google-Maps-street-view-Dubai
The Burj Al Arab, a 7 star hotel, is seen on February 25, 2012 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Julian Finney—Getty Images

The first Arab metropolis to get Google Maps 'Street View'

Google added ‘Street View’ to its map of Dubai on Monday, marking the feature’s first foray into an Arab country.

Virtual visitors can tour the city’s most notable landmarks, including the “dancing fountains” outside of the Dubai Mall and the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, which can be viewed both from the ground floor and the observation deck 124 floors above the city.

“We hope that you’ll be inspired to explore its wonders in person,” the Google Maps team wrote in an announcement on the official blog, “but until then, they’re just a click away.”

 

TIME Web

11 Google Tricks That Will Change the Way You Search

Google Search Tips Tricks
Philippe Huguen—AFP/Getty Images

From Googlers themselves

Google Search’s learning curve is an odd one. You use it every day, but still all you know is how to search. But the search engine has plenty of tricks up its sleeve.

Here’s an overview of some of the most useful Google search tricks, from basic tips to new features just recently released.

1. Use quotes to search for an exact phrase.

This one’s a well-known, simple trick: searching a phrase in quotes will yield only pages with the same words in the same order as what’s in the quotes. It’s one of the most vital search tips, especially useful if you’re trying to find results containing a specific a phrase.

2. Use an asterisk within quotes to specify unknown or variable words.

Here’s a lesser known trick: searching a phrase in quotes with an asterisk replacing a word will search all variations of that phrase. It’s helpful if you’re trying to determine a song from its lyrics, but you couldn’t make out the entire phrase (e.g. “imagine all the * living for today”), or if you’re trying to find all forms of an expression (e.g. “* is thicker than water”).

3. Use the minus sign to eliminate results containing certain words.

You’ll want to eliminate results with certain words if you’re trying to search for a term that’s generating a lot of results that aren’t of interest to you. Figure out what terms you’re not interested in (e.g. jaguar -car) and re-run the search.

4. Search websites for keywords.

Think of the “site:” function as a Google search that searches only a particular website. If you want to see every time TIME.com mentioned Google, use the search “Google site:TIME.com”.

5. Search news archives going back to the mid-1880s.

Google News has an option to search over 100 years’ worth of archived news from newspapers around the world.

6. Compare foods using “vs.”

Can’t decide between a burger or pizza for dinner? Type in “rice vs. quinoa,” for example, and you’ll receive side-by-side comparisons of the nutritional facts.

Google Search Tips Tricks
Courtesy of Google

 

7. Filter search results for recipes.

If you search your favorite food, and then click “Search Tools” right under the search bar, you’ll be able to filter recipes based on ingredients, cook time and calories. It’s the perfect tool if you have certain dietary restrictions.

8. Use “DEFINE:” to learn the meaning of words—slang included.

Streamline the dictionary process by using, for example, “DEFINE: mortgage.” For words that appear in the dictionary, you’ll be able to see etymology and a graph of its use over time alongside the definition. Google will even sift the web to define slang words or acronyms. Try out “DEFINE: bae” or “DEFINE: SMH”.

9. Tilt your screen by searching “tilt.”

This is one of the fun additions built in by Google engineers. Try it out yourself (search without quotes).

10. Play Atari Breakout by searching it on Google Images.

The legendary brick breaker game is available for easy access on Google. Just search “Atari Breakout” (without quotes) on Google Images and enjoy.

11. Search images using images.

Ever come across a photo that looks strangely familiar? Or if you want to know where it came from? If you save the image, and then search it on Google Images (with the camera button), you’ll be able to see similar images on the web.

12. Press the mic icon on Google’s search bar, and say “flip a coin” or “heads or tails.”

The feature released last month lets Google flip a coin for you when you don’t have one on hand.

Courtesy of Google

 

13. Press the mic icon on Google’s search bar, and say “give me a love quote” or “I love you.”

The love quote generator is also a feature released last month for those in need of a little romance.

Courtesy of Google

Read next: 5 Tips for Getting More Out of Gmail

TIME Web

Once Again, Google Will Tell You When Santa Claus Is Coming to Town

He'd better watch out

Google is once again keeping its eye on Santa Claus this year.

The search giant has launched its annual Santa Tracker, which maps Old Saint Nick’s coordinates on Christmas Eve. In the runup to Christmas, Google will roll out a host of games and surprises on its Santa website, including animated shorts, information on global winter holidays and even JavaScript courses aimed at kids.

There’s also an Android app so kids can track Santa’s movements while on the go. Each day Google will roll out a new a new feature, and the company’s blog post implies that even the new Android Wear smartwatches will offer some holiday cheer before it’s all over.

For a second opinion on Santa’s location come Christmas Eve, you can try out the NORAD Santa tracker as well, created in partnership with Microsoft.

TIME Web

Study: Most Americans Don’t Understand How the Internet Works

Pew Web IQ
Getty Images

Though most Internet users are familiar with basic technology concepts

Most American Internet users aren’t familiar with the concepts underpinning the Internet and common technology, a survey released Tuesday found.

Pew Research Center’s Web IQ Quiz polled Americans with 17 questions relating to the web and technology, varying in technicality from where hashtags are used to the what Moore’s Law means, according to the survey. While the majority of quiz takers correctly defined common Internet terms like net neutrality, most respondents struggled to correctly answer other questions about the infrastructure behind the Internet, like whether “Internet” and “World Wide Web” are the same.

The survey also found that only 44% of respondents were aware that a company’s privacy policy doesn’t necessarily mean the firm will actually keep users’ information confidential.

Younger Internet users performed the best on the quiz, with the lowest age bracket (18-29) answering on average 10.1 out of the 17 questions correctly (about 60%). The highest age bracket (65+) answered on average 7.8 out of the 17 questions correctly (about 45%).

 

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