Web Excursions 2021-04-16

🌟 [Post of The Day] Time flies in Google Earth’s biggest update in years

  • In the biggest update to Google Earth since 2017, you can now see our planet in an entirely new dimension — time.

  • With Timelapse in Google Earth, 24 million satellite photos from the past 37 years have been compiled into an interactive 4D experience.

  • Now anyone can watch time unfold and witness nearly four decades of planetary change.

  • To add animated Timelapse imagery to Google Earth, we gathered more than 24 million satellite images from 1984 to 2020, representing quadrillions of pixels.

  • It took more than two million processing hours across thousands of machines in Google Cloud to compile 20 petabytes of satellite imagery into a single 4.4 terapixel-sized video mosaic


High quality audio makes you sound smarter

  • When audio quality is high (vs low), people judge the content as better and more important. They also judge the speaker as more intelligent, competent, and likable.

  • In an experiment, people rated a physicist’s talk at a scientific conference as 19.3% better when they listened to it in high quality audio vs slightly distorted, echo-prone audio.

  • The effects were similar in experiments with NPR’s Science Friday interviews, where the researchers tested the same interview in high quality audio vs a simulated bad phone line (but still fully understandable).

  • Why it works

  • Limitations

    • This study focused on how scientists and their research were perceived when they spoke at recorded conferences or phone interviews. The experiments did not test the effect in business contexts (e.g. a salesperson pitching on Zoom while they have a lot of background noise).

    • However, there is a solid foundation for this effect (there’s extensive research that we dislike hard to understand messages and messengers), so it’s all but certain that similar effects would be found in other situations


Mac Chimes of Death

We’re all familiar with the Mac’s startup chime. While it has changed over the years, it has greeted users with its friendly tone for decades.

What you may not know is that for years, the Mac also came with a death sound, that would play when the machine crashed.


We Don’t Get Bitter, We Get Better

  • Part of our work has been to define what operational maturity means in the context of The Times.

  • We took inspiration from the Production Maturity Assessment released by Google’s Customer Reliability Engineering team

  • The assessment goes over our Operational Maturity Model which lays out the dimensions and scales of operational maturity at The Times along six categories:

    • Monitoring and Metrics

    • Capacity Planning:

    • Change Management

    • Emergency Response

    • Service Provision and Decommission

    • Reliability

  • As the team works through each category, they score themselves on a scale of one to five against a maturity rubric

    • chaotic, managed, defined, measured, and continuous improvement

  • Our team, Operations Engineering, collects these team-level scores and collates them on a dashboard that allows us to see trends across the engineering organization.

  • Our ultimate goal is to make high-traffic news stories non-events, where our systems are mature enough to handle the load without the need for extra attention beyond marveling at the traffic charts.