Web

Google mystery barges get a visit from the Coast Guard (and they ain’t talkin’)

googles mystery barge coast guard sergey brin 7
Some say Google's mystery barges will be used as Google Glass retail stores.

What in tarnation is Google building on a barge in San Francisco Bay? The U.S. Coast Guard knows, after visiting the vessel on Wednesday, but it is not at liberty to reveal any more details thanks to a corporate gag order imposed on Coast Guard employees.

“We can confirm that Google is involved or associated with the barge but there is a nondisclosure agreement in effect; the Coast Guard is unable to discuss or divulge any further details at this time,” Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas McKenzie told CNBC.

google structure
Barges BAL0001 and BAL0010 in San Francisco Bay

The confirmation that the barge is in fact a Google creation is something, at least. The company has thus far refused to admit that it’s involved with the floating, four-story building that’s anchored off Treasure Island, in the middle of San Francisco Bay.

The San Francisco-based barge is one of four barges registered to a Delaware company called By and Large – the name of which some believe to be a dorky homage to “Buy N Large,” the fictional corporation from the movie Wall-E. The names of the barges also may be part of a nerd code. The vessels are dubbed BAL0001, BAL0010, BAL0011, and BAL0100. In binary – the 1s and 0s foundation of computing – these numbers represent “1,” “2,” “3,” and “4.”

Currently BAL0001 and BAL0010 are anchored in San Francisco (only BAL0010 houses the mysterious structure, however), while a second structure, built on BAL0011, was recently spotted on the other side of the country, off the coast of Portland, Maine.

The San Francisco and Portland structures are similar, both constructed using empty shipping containers that have been welded together. Both have windows, meaning they are likely meant to have people inside them regularly. And both are fairly large. That, however, is where the knowns end, and the mystery begins.

Google patent image showing floating data center design
Google patent image showing floating data center design

As CNET first reported, the barge-buildings may be floating data centers that use sea water to cool Google’s servers. The company obtained a patent for floating data centers in 2009, and a person linked to both Google and By and Large referred CNET to the patent when questioned about the San Francisco barge.

According to CBS San Francisco, however, people familiar with the project say the S.F. barge will be used as a “floating marketing center,” or retail store, for Google’s much-hyped wearable tech, Google Glass. And the LA Times speculates (sarcastically) that it could be anything from a “doomsday flotilla” to a private paintball arena for Google executives.

The buildings are still under construction, so it will likely be some time before we find out what the heck Google is up to. In the mean time, we can only guess.

So, what do you think Google has planned?

Mobile

Verizon’s 5G is blazing fast on the Galaxy S10 5G, if you’re on the right block

The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G is finally here, and we went to Chicago to test its 5G connectivity capabilities on Verizon's 5G network. Like with the Moto Z3 and Moto Mod, service is still limited, but it's super fast.
Mobile

5G your old phone: HTC’s 5G Hub is now available for pre-order from Sprint

HTC almost made a phone. The HTC 5G Hub runs Android 9 Pie, has a Qualcomm 855 processor with the X50 modem, 4GB of RAM, and an HD touchscreen -- but it's a hot spot designed to connect to 5G networks.
Business

The 15 best tech jobs boast top salaries, high satisfaction, lots of openings

May may be coming to an end, but the bonanza of tech jobs just keeps coming. High paying jobs abound at companies where people love to work. If you’re not satisfied with your current situation or are ready to make a change, this is a…
Social Media

Be the master of your own Insta-verse with multiple Instagram accounts

Whether you own a small business or have separate Instagram accounts for your five cats, we'll walk you through the process of switching between your multiple accounts on your Apple or Android devices.
Movies & TV

Tired of Netflix? Here's where to find free movies online, legally

We've spent countless hours digging around the web to find the best sites for streaming free movies online. Not only are all of these sites completely free to use, they're also completely legal and trustworthy.
Social Media

A fond farewell to Grumpy Cat, the internet’s most famous feline

We say farewell and fondly remember Grumpy Cat, the internet's famous frowning feline and a genuine sweetheart, who died at the age of seven. Even tempered and tolerant, Grumpy Cat was in real life the opposite of her online persona.
Web

Gmail logs your purchase history, undermining Google’s commitment to privacy

Google has tried to portray itself as privacy-focused. But a new report shows Google tracks many of your online purchases, even if they are bought from a non-Google affiliated store like Amazon.
Computing

Whether you want to edit, sign, or append, PDFs, these are the best PDF editors

While there are plenty of PDF editor options online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or operating system.
Web

Creators of WhatsApp attack software face lawsuit from Amnesty International

This week a spyware attack was launched on WhatsApp. Now the Israeli firm linked to that attack is facing a lawsuit from human rights NGO Amnesty International, alleging their software has been used to surveil human rights defenders.
Social Media

Millions of Instagram influencers reportedly had private data exposed online

As many as 49 million Instagram influencers have reportedly had their private data exposed in an online database that had no password protection. The database was apparently created by a marketing firm and has been taken offline.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk thinks Starlink satellite internet could be online before 2021

Elon Musk's ultra-ambitious Starlink space internet project may take until November 2027 to be fully operational. However, some level of service could be offered as soon as next year.
Web

What is Reddit? A beginner’s guide to the front page of the internet

If you spend much time online, you've probably heard of Reddit. Here, we break down the terminology, perks, and inner workings of everyone's favorite social platform. Understanding the "front page of the internet" has never been so easy.
Mobile

Hey Google, let’s order out: Food delivery comes to Search, Maps, and Assistant

If you love your takeout, then Google's new online food ordering system is sure to bring a smile to your lips. You can now order takeout from Google Search results, Google Maps, or by using Google Assistant and pick your delivery service.
Computing

Keep your kids safe online with these great parental control tools

The internet can be a dangerous place, especially for your loved ones. Check out our selection of the best free parental control software for Windows and MacOS, so you can monitor your child and block unsavory sites.