Google donates $6.8 million to San Francisco youth bus rides

It appears Google is looking to temper some of the backlash it's experienced over its high-tech commuter buses in San Francisco.

The Web giant has donated $6.8 million to the city to fund the Free Muni for Low Income Youth program for two years. This program, which launched last year, provides low- and moderate-income students free rides on San Francisco's public buses. Since it began, the program has assisted more than 31,000 students.

Google's donation is one of the largest private contributions toward direct city services that San Francisco has ever received, according to the … Read more

Make sure your donation gets to the people who need it

Charities bring out our best and our worst. In our desire to help people in need, we respond unselfishly. The fact is, our gifts might have greater effect if we looked at our donations as capital investments in people.

Last December's "How to make the most of your charitable contribution" described several sites that help you vet charitable organizations before you give to ensure as much of your donation as possible reaches the people who need it most. One of those sites is Charity Navigator, whose home page is shown at the top of this post.

Two … Read more

Facebook feeds now playing video ads

CNET Update is Crushing it:

In this episode of CNET Update:

- Watch for new video advertisements popping up in your Facebook feed. The first ad rolling out this week is a trailer for the movie 'Divergent.'

- Donate to non-profits on Facebook with a new button. (And give Facebook your credit card info in the process.)

- Check out Samsung's new Android game controller, the GamePad. If you can't wait, then get something similar now from Moga.

- Play the most downloaded iTunes app of 2013, Candy Crush Saga. And see which other media made Apple's top downloads list. … Read more

The 404 1,381: Where Russ Frushtick takes next-gen consoles to the bank (podcast)

Leaked from today's 404 episode:

- Russ Frushtick reviews Call of Duty: Ghosts.

- People are cramming entire movies into GIFs now, and the results are mesmerizing.

- Meet Microsoft's new anime IE "it" girl, Inori Aizawa.

- The Internet Archive seeks donations after fire destroys $600,000 of equipment.

- Check out Russ's Besties Podcast on Polygon and follow him on Twitter.… Read more

Amazon will now donate part of your purchase to charity

Amazon buyers who want to give a little something to charity can now do their shopping via the retailer's AmazonSmile site.

Launched on Wednesday, AmazonSmile will dole out 0.5 percent of your total purchase to any one of a million eligible charities. To use the program, just browse to the AmazonSmile Web site. The first time you visit the site, you can choose one of the charities spotlighted by Amazon or pick your own by typing its name in the search field.… Read more

Microsoft offers free versions of Office 365 to nonprofits

With Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates being one of the world's top donors to charity, it's no surprise the company is initiating a new endeavor to help out nonprofit organizations.

Microsoft announced Tuesday that it will be giving nonprofits Office 365 licenses to use in their workplace -- free of charge. Any organization that qualifies can get the cloud-based service, which comes with Office applications, e-mail, calendar, HD video conferencing, and more. This donation program is being offered in 41 countries worldwide.

"Choosing the right cloud solution increases your organization's efficiency, saves on technology costs, and fosters … Read more

Bill Gates pitches in for online education resource Graphite

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is putting his money where his mouth is. He is backing a new initiative called Graphite that is a free online resource to help teachers discover and share education technology.

Gates has long emphasized his belief that investing in education and digital tools could help solve the world's education crisis.

"What's surprising is given how the Internet has changed how we buy airline tickets and books and how we look up things, is that formal education hasn't changed hardly at all," Gates said in an interview with CNET in 2010. "… Read more

Apple, Samsung, others raise $32M after China earthquake

Apple, Samsung, and other tech firms have raised more than $32 million to aid China as it tries to recover from Saturday's devastating earthquake.

The quake, which occurred Saturday morning local time in China's Sichuan province, has so far left 200 people dead or missing, 11,800 people injured, and more than 100,000 homeless.

Among technology companies sending money to aid in relief efforts, Samsung China has pledged around $9.7 million. China Samsung President Zhang Yuanji took to the company's official Sina Weibo page to express his condolences saying that "China Samsung always with … Read more

Facebook's Zuckerberg gives a boatload of cash to charity

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that he let go of nearly $500 million today by donating it to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

This nonprofit foundation focuses on grant giving to serve the community in the San Francisco peninsula. Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post today that he, his wife, Priscilla Chan, and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation will work together to "look for areas in education and health to focus on."

The hefty sum of cash comes as a gift of 18 million Facebook shares, which is valued at more than $498 million, based on the social … Read more

iPad Mini launches with mini lines

While CNET's New York office waits for power to come back after the storm, we're bringing you the Update show from our San Francisco office. Friday's top tech stories include:

- iPad Mini launch day: Lines were smaller compared to a typical iPhone or iPad launch, but there were still some crowds. New York saw a long lines at the 5th Avenue store, which was sold out of iPad Minis two hours after it opened. One analyst estimates Apple might sell as many as 1.5 million iPad Minis over the weekend.

- Apple released its first … Read more