Friday, December 16, 2011

Fridaygram: universal terms, distant space, watch where you walk

Author Photo
By Scott Knaster, Google Code Blog Editor

Earlier this week, we launched a single Terms of Service for most of our APIs. You might know the Terms of Service (ToS) as those legal documents you click through quickly when you start using a new product, but they’re vitally important, as they specify exactly what you and we can expect from each other when you use our APIs. (Internally, we refer to the new terms as uToS [universal terms of service], pronounced "you toss".)

The project began some time ago as a general developer ToS cleanup. At the time, we looked at the Google Terms of Service shared across many consumer products, and figured developers deserved equal consideration. In reviewing the developer ToS documents, it became clear that there was plenty of language in common among various products. And this week, the new Terms launched, covering most APIs, with more to come in time. Of the APIs that are included, a few have additional terms, but these tend to be brief. And things overall are much simpler and cleaner than before.

This project is an example of something that affects every Google developer and Google too, and yet it’s not really a technical topic. This ToS simplification was no minor project: it was over two years in the making. Getting to simplify an important set of documents by removing over 125,000 words of text is a wonderful thing.

Speaking of universal things, the incredible Voyager 1 spacecraft is now about 18 billion kilometers from the sun and is nearing the end of our solar system. Voyager now inhabits a part of space between planets and other stars that has an intense magnetic field, among other unusual properties, and we’ll learn more about the place from Voyager itself. One scientist says that Voyager is now in a "stagnation region", and I think we all know what that feels like.

And finally, if you’re planning your holiday vacation over the weekend, you might want to see what happens if you ask Google Maps for walking directions from Rivendell to Mordor.

Fridaygram posts are just for fun, and sometimes even legal stuff can be fun. Fridaygrams are designed for your Friday afternoon and weekend enjoyment. Each Fridaygram item must pass only one test: it has to be interesting to us nerds.

No comments:

Post a Comment