Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dwelling on the past

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Dwelling on the past

As a backend engineer, one of my favorite features of Google Reader is its ability to track the history of a feed over time. Reader takes a snapshot of feeds periodically and saves the content, so you can see posts that are days or weeks old. It's a neat way to read the web; in a way, it lets you look back in time. Combined with Reader's ability to track what you have and haven't read, you can safely jet off to Tahiti for a few weeks and never miss a post.

Ideally, though, you'd like to catch up on those posts in the order they were written. That's why we're releasing one of our most requested features: sorting by oldest-first. Now you can read those Lost episode summaries in the right order after you've shook the sand out of your shoes. It's available in the view settings menu, so you can select it only for the feeds or folders you prefer.

Careful observers will note that we've also added sort by auto to view settings. This nifty feature mixes feeds together according to posting frequency, so items from rarely-updated feeds (your friend's blog) show up higher than items from frequently-updated feeds like The New York Times. Look for this feature to evolve over time as we try to find other ways of highlighting the most interesting content in your feeds. Enjoy!


Collaboration worldwide

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Official Google Docs & Spreadsheets Blog: Collaboration worldwide

Whether you're sitting in the same room, across campus, or in different countries, you can collaborate with others using Google Docs & Spreadsheets. If you're using the application, and you live outside the U.S. or you're working with people outside of the U.S., we'd love to hear from you about what you're up to. So far we've heard from authors, college students, dragstrip operators, police officers, and even fantasy baseball league members.

Post your story here in our Google Group and while you're at it, check out other stories as well.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dragging and dropping

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Official Google Docs & Spreadsheets Blog: Dragging and dropping

Have you ever come across a link to a document on the web and wished you could open it directly with Google Docs & Spreadsheets? The process until now has been somewhat convoluted -- you needed to save the file to your desktop, then upload it to Google Docs & Spreadsheets. What a drag. Wouldn't it be nice to save a few steps, and turn that drag into drag-and-drop? Thanks to our friends on the Google Toolbar team, you can.

We just launched Google Toolbar 3 Beta for Firefox, and it includes some very cool features for Google Docs & Spreadsheets users. With those features enabled, you can open most popular file types in Google D&S.; Clicking a link to a file on a web page will open the document directly in your browser window. Even cooler, you can drag file icons from your desktop to your browser and have them automatically imported into D&S.; Once you've installed the beta, enable these features from the "Options" menu of your Toolbar.

Being able to drag and drop files directly has really streamlined my day. Maybe I can even use that free time to catch up on my holiday shopping. And since you asked, Google Docs & Spreadsheets is a handy way to manage your shopping lists!


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Happy collaborating!

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Google Custom Search: Happy collaborating!

We've made several improvements to the Custom Search collaboration process. Starting today, you'll be able to communicate more easily with new volunteers for your Custom Search Engine -- you'll see the email addresses of new volunteers as well as approved contributors. It's important to note that this process works both ways -- i.e., if you volunteer to contribute to a search engine, your email address will also be visible to the creator of the search engine. To see the email addresses of contributors simply go to the "Collaboration" section of the "Control Panel" of your search engine and you will see a list of contributors emails there. You will also get email notification when your invitee accepts your invitation to contribute to your Custom Search Engine. Last but certainly not least, you can now also see the sites your contributors have added to your search engine. Visit the "Sites" tab in the "Control Panel" to see what work your contributors are doing. If you have several contributors, you'll have a drop-down menu to select which contributor you'd like to view. We hope you find these features useful in building and maintaining your CSEs.


Monday, December 11, 2006

A Passion for Music

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Official Google Mac Blog: A Passion for Music

Posted by Mark Dalrymple, Member of Technical Staff, Mac Team

After an orchestra rehearsal last month, some of us went to the local Eat-n-Park, a family restaurant chain here in western Pennsylvania. I was decked out in a traditional black Google T-shirt. After chatting with the waitress a bit, she asked about the shirt, and I said that I worked at Google. She said "Wow! It never occurred to me that people actually worked there."

Yes, indeed, real live people work here. And because we're real people, we have real interests. The most interesting programmers I've come across have also had serious passions outside the world of bits and bytes. Among the Googlers I know are a triathlete, an expert wordsmith, a rescue dog trainer, and an incredible black-and-white photographer.

My particular passion is music. I've been playing music of one kind or another since fourth grade, having floated into and out of dozens of groups, and I have played hundreds of performances over the years. I met my wife Sharlotte in a community orchestra in Northern Virginia. Since moving to the Pittsburgh area in 2000, we've joined two concert bands, one community orchestra, an on-again off-again woodwind quintet, and we sing in a church choir.

I started out my music career on trombone in elementary school and got to be a fairly decent player. In junior high school, my folks sent me to The Summer Arts Camp at Interlochen, an 8-week musical immersion experience where you perform 7 complete concerts. That's a fresh batch of music nearly every week! At Interlochen, I met the bassoon while I was counting hundreds of bars of rest during orchestra rehearsals. One week the group was doing the Berceuse and Finale from Stravinski's Firebird suite, which has an amazing bassoon part. At that point, I decided I wanted to play that thing. I had to play that thing. Luckily, my school had an instrument no one was using, so I glommed onto it and took some lessons. I've kept up with both instruments over the years, becoming a "doubler": that is, I play each of them well enough to not embarrass myself in public.

Sharlotte and I are very busy musically, especially during the holiday times. This month, we're slated to play a three-night run of a hometown Christmas musical, one orchestra concert, three community band benefit concerts, background music at a grocery store, background music for a dinner banquet, two church services, and we'll be demonstrating the double-reed family to the local middle school's seventh grade band. It's a crazy schedule, but we love it.

I'll leave you with two recordings. In the first, I'm performing "Bye Bye Blues", a bass trombone solo with the Westmoreland Symphonic Winds Jazz band. The other is Zephyrs (The West Winds), a quintet I'm in, playing the second movement of the woodwind quintet by Muczynski, which includes Sharlotte on oboe and me on bassoon. I hope you enjoy the music -- played by people!


Sunday, December 10, 2006

[G] Developer doc updated (more to come!)

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Inside Google Desktop: Developer doc updated (more to come!)

Take a look at our updated developer documentation — pages aimed at anyone who uses the Google Desktop SDK. Of course, the new doc describes the API changes in our latest release, but we've made other changes, too. The top-level and gadget doc has been reorganized, looks more like other Google API doc, and has some new navigational aids such as simplified side links and hierarchical links at the top.

We're still working on the doc. One of our short-term plans is to post code examples, so you won't have to download the SDK to see some source code. Another is to post a tutorial that leads you through writing your first gadget.

If you miss the old doc — maybe we removed a mostly obsolete or confusing page that you still find useful — you can download an archived version. See Using the Gadget API for details.

What else should we do? Please post your suggestions to the Developer Forum.