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Quantified Elf: Tracking the Santa Trackers

Where is Santa Claus, right at this moment? Sources disagree.

Google Was More Resistant to Government Takedowns Than Government Surveillance in 2013

Requests by governments for Google to take down videos, search results, blog posts and other content grew 68 percent in the first half of 2013 compared to the last half of 2012.

News Byte

That Nifty Micro-USB Charger for the HP Chromebook Is Getting Recalled for Overheating

One of the appeals of the HP Chromebook 11, which was introduced this October, was the fact that the laptop could be charged via micro-USB, just like a phone. Except … there have been nine reports of chargers overheating and melting during use, so Google and HP are formally recalling the chargers and sending out free replacements, after sales were halted last month.

San Francisco Gets Fast, Free Public Wi-Fi on Market Street

San Francisco will (finally) offer free Internet access along the Market Street corridor, from the Embarcadero to the Castro.

15 Million Students Learned to Program This Week, Thanks to Hour of Code

In’s estimation, Hour of Code has reached twice as many U.S. students as have ever taken a computer science class.

Lasso Promises to Deliver Wine and Cheese Within Two Hours for Free

A new company called Lasso thinks it has found the perfect slice of the market to make same-day delivery work: Wine, spirits and specialty foods.

News Byte

Google Acquired Seven Robotics Companies for Andy Rubin

Google bought seven robotics companies in the past six months — Schaft, Industrial Perception, Meka, Redwood Robotics, Bot & Dolly, Autofuss and Holomni — for an effort to create manufacturing and logistics robots under former Android head Andy Rubin. The deals were reported in a New York Times article, and confirmed by the company. The Times says Rubin’s aims are not at creating robots for consumers, but rather for competing with Amazon and its flying delivery drones. (Robots versus drones is the ultimate endgame, after all.)

Norad Santa-Tracker Is Now 3-D, Touch-Enabled and Claymationized, Courtesy of Microsoft

Since 1955, children of all ages have tracked Santa’s global route with the help of Norad’s radar, satellites and jet fighters.

News Byte

Google Paid Mozilla Nearly $300M Last Year (a.k.a. Almost All of Its Revenue)

Mozilla had $304.5 million in revenue from royalties in 2012, it reported yesterday in an annual release of financials (PDF), with 90 percent of the money coming from Google. We’d broken the news in late 2011 that Google had renewed its search deal with Mozilla, committing to pay almost $300 million per year. So, yup, that was right.

News Byte

Google-Backed Calico Makes Big Biotech and Genetics Hires

Calico, the company founded to extend lifespans that’s funded by Google and led by former Genentech CEO and current Apple Chairman Art Levinson, said today that it has made some hefty hires. Hal Baron, who led product at Hoffmann-La Roche, is coming on as president of research and development. Princeton genetics professor David Botstein will be chief scientific officer. Oncology researcher Bob Cohen and life extension researcher Cynthia Kenyon will also be part of the team.

Apple Stores Are Great and All, but Do They Have Giant Slo-Mo Snow Globes?

Google Continues to Fill Out iOS App Catalog With Music App

Judge Says Google Book-Scanning Is Fair Use

With 120M Users, Google Drive Gets Tighter Integration With Gmail

Google Claims Great Leaps Forward in Voice Search

Google Aims for the Next Billion Users With Android KitKat

Google’s New Nexus 5 Is the Googley-est Phone Yet

NSA Hacked Links Between Google and Yahoo Data Centers, Says Latest Snowden Revelation

Former Googlers’ Cover App Makes Android Lock Screens More Useful (Video)