This week in Google: Data centers, Dead Sea Scrolls and Dynamic Views

This week, Google unveiled a digital version of the Dead Sea Scrolls, announced three new data centers in Asia, and let Blogger users glitz up their pages with Dynamic Views.
Written by Matt Weinberger, Contributor

In a week that saw the company turn thirteen, Google invested millions more in solar power, dropped an important lawsuit against Microsoft, faced a $1.16 billion estimate for damages to Oracle, and got its first public glimpse of the Amazon Kindle Fire, which is running a heavily modified version of its own Android operating system.

Given all that, it's no surprise that some things fell through the cracks for the week ending September 30th, 2011. Here's a quick overview of Google's plans to build data centers in the Asia Pacific region, the Google-powered Dead Sea Scrolls online, and Dynamics Views, a new interactivity layer for Blogger.

Data center expansion

Google is investing $200 million in three new data centers across Asia, according to a Dow Jones newswire report. The idea is to provide customers in the region with faster, lower-latency access to Google Apps and the company's other offerings.

According to that report, Google has already acquired land in Singapore, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and all three should be operational between a year to two years. Google already has several branch offices throughout the Asia Pacific region with thousands of employees, but the Taiwan office, at least, will be recruiting "five to 20 full-time staff."

It's a good thing that Google renewed a key business licence with the Chinese government recently: despite its regular disagreements and conflict with the authorities, China and its surrounding regions have only intensified their demand for cloud services.

Dead Sea Scrolls online

Five of the legendary Dead Sea Scrolls - a set of biblical manuscripts dating back to 68 BCE, lost to antiquity until their rediscovery in 1947 - have been digitized and placed online, thanks to a partnership between Google and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Dead Sea Scrolls online users "can view, read and interact" with the high-resolution, 1200-megapixel photos of the scrolls available, allowing for the ability to zoom so close, you can see the thinness of the parchment, according to the official blog entry.

The Great Isiah Scroll, probably the best well-known of the Dead Sea Scrolls, is browsable by chapter and verse. Clicking on Hebrew text comes up with an English translation. All of the text, too, is now indexed and searchable through Google. Terrifyingly, the project also allows users to leave comments, which is a move I'm sure the Israel Museum will come to see as a mistake.

The project was completed using Google App Engine and Google Storage, and Google says it's part of the company's larger self-appointed mission of making more important cultural relics available online.

Blogger Dynamic Views

Built with "the latest in web technology (AJAX, HTML5 and CSS3)," Dynamic Views are new, interactive layouts for the Blogger platform that load content a claimed 40 percent faster and bring older entries to the forefront "so they seem fresh again," according to the official blog entry.

More specifically, Dynamic Views add Tumblr-style infinite scrolling to Blogger pages, automatically-loading images, integrated search, sorting by date, label and author, keyboard shortcuts, lightbox-style posts, and one-click posting to the Google+ social network.

There are seven Dynamic Views templates currently available, all with different ways of displaying images and text. Choosing one is as easy as changing your template from the usual menu. And these new interfaces come with the ability to choose background colors and a header image, with more customizability promised down the line.

For an example of these Dynamic Views, take a look at the official news source, Blogger Buzz, itself.

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