Monday, December 31, 2007

[G] This year of Google blogging

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Official Google Blog: This year of Google blogging

It's that time again, the end of a year - time to tote up Google's blogging activity for the last 365 days. First, a few bits of data about this particular blog:
  • Number of posts this year: 300
  • New product announcements: 15 (not counting our April 1 release)
  • News about upgrades and additions to products: 87
  • Announcing products in more languages and countries: 30
  • Acquisitions: 12
  • Unique visitors: 6,738,830 (for 8,655,830 visits)
  • Languages: 511 (preferred language configured on computers)
  • Top non-Google referrers: Yahoo, Digg, Slashdot, Fark
Beyond these basics, this year saw many more posts on privacy (9), accessibility (10), and energy and the environment (11). We blogged a good deal about Google's people and culture, our various offices around the world, and the pastimes and passions of Googlers (26, including 2 recipes). We talked about healthcare issues that challenge consumers (5). There were competitions including Google Code Jam and events for developers, educators and others (29). Through YouTube, there has been much political activity (7) in the U.S. as well as in Australia.

The posts that elicited the most reaction in terms of views and linkbacks include:

- the much-discussed "Gphone" news
- our thinking about the upcoming FCC spectrum auction
- what the OpenSocial APIs could mean
- how a black screen might not save energy
- announcing the Knol test project
- building your own Google homepage

Of course, there's more than business to write about. We celebrated National Gorilla Suit Day, deconstructed the Valentine's Day doodle, and then a snake went missing.

As for the Google family of blogs, there's been lots of growth this year: 42 new ones launched, for a total to 83 active company blogs. Increasingly, Googlers want to quickly and regularly convey product news and updates to various constituents, and blogs are a great way to do that. Among the most popular of this newest crop are the Gmail blog (nearly 1.5 million unique visitors), the Orkut blogs (in English - 3.5 million uniques; and Portuguese - 8.8 million), and Google Lat Long, with 824,000 unique visitors, which covers everything geographical. In addition, readers can now turn to new product blogs including those for Google Finance, Google News, and Mobile. Reflecting keen interest in activity outside the U.S., the YouTube blog had the greatest number of comments for its June post about the fact that YouTube is available in 9 more countries, followed by the August post announcing InVideo ads.

On the ads side: there are now 6 more non-English blogs for AdSense publishers (French, Turkish, Japanese, Korean, Italian, Chinese). The AdWords team opened blogs for Brasil and the Netherlands, Japan now has its own Analytics blog, and there are now German and Chinese versions of the popular Webmaster Central. (The most popular ads-related blog is the one for Analytics, with nearly half a million unique visitors, followed by closely Inside AdSense and then Inside AdWords.)

To keep current and share their work, developers got a raft of new blogs, too, including those focused on APIs for YouTube, Checkout, Gears, Mashup, and Gadgets. Needless to say, there are now also blogs for Android and OpenSocial.

Two new country blogs, for the Czech Republic and Australia, went public, to talk about all things Google in their regions. Yet more readers congregated around the new Public Policy and blogs, as well as one dedicated to online security and malware.

Despite all this activity, and the fact that a growing number of companies also host corporate blogs, the Fortune 500 Business Blogging Wiki (a collaborative project begun by Wired Magazine and SocialText) indicates that even today, just 46 of the Fortune 500 companies (about 9%), have active public blogs produced by company employees that focus on the company and its products. Let's hope in 2008 that number goes up. We think such blogs can serve users, journalists, critics, investors, and fans more effectively and directly than more traditional approaches. Apparently, so do 41,395,926 people around the world - the number of visitors to all of our blogs this year.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

[G] A look back at 2007

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Inside AdSense: A look back at 2007

2007 is drawing to a close, but before you get out the party hats and start practicing the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne, we'd like to take a moment to recap some of the biggest developments in AdSense this year.

New feature launches were abundant in 2007, and many were based on your direct feedback and requests. To help improve the performance of your ads, we revamped the look of our ad formats and introduced ad placements to let you promote your site to potential advertisers. The new Manage Ads feature gave you the ability to make changes to your ad units directly in your account and quickly experiment with optimizations. In addition, we launched such features as video units, AdSense for mobile content, and referrals 2.0 to bring in new revenue streams for your site. Still others like the Allowed Sites list and the recently announced Ad Review Center were inspired by your requests for more control over your ads and your account.

With our growing community of publishers around the world, we also continued our international expansion of products and online resources. AdSense for content was launched in languages such as Hebrew, Greek, and Bulgarian, while AdSense for search became available in a number of Southeast Asian languages. We added payment options such as Western Union Quick Cash in a few countries and EFT in Mexico. To help publishers connect with one another around the world, we introduced AdSense Help Forums in 9 new languages, including Polish, Arabic, and Russian.

And of course, we can't forget to mention the exciting things that happened right here on our blog. We welcomed 6 new languages into the Inside AdSense family (Italian, Korean, Japanese, French, Turkish, and Simplified Chinese), bringing the total number of AdSense blogs to 11. All 11 blogs combined received 2.6 million pageviews from 1.7 million visits, and global Groups subscriptions to all blogs crossed the 43,000 mark.

Finally, we'd like to close with our second annual Reader's Choice Award, which goes to the post you visited most this year: 'Introducing video units'. Accepting the award on behalf of the post is author Ryan Hayward, who had this to say: "In a world where Hollywood writers are striking and my favorite show, 'The Office,' is off-air, I hope that announcing video units helped to fill the creative void and made each of our lives just a little more entertaining. Cue the orchestra."

Here's to a very happy and prosperous 2008. Cheers!


Friday, December 28, 2007

[G] Looking back on the year in public policy

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Google Public Policy Blog: Looking back on the year in public policy

What a difference a year makes. This time last year, Celine Dion was still performing in Las Vegas, Jamie Lynn was the "good" Spears sister, and I was Time's reigning Person of the Year (you were too).

The holidays are a good time to look back on what the past 12 months have brought for Google's public policy efforts.

This blog is now a toddler
It's hard to believe that we took the wraps off this blog only six months ago. When we launched in June, our hope was to create a resource to inform policymakers -- as well as our users -- about our positions and efforts to keep the Internet a revolutionary medium for freedom and innovation. Since then we've welcomed tens of thousands of visitors each month, including folks from the House, Senate, FCC, and other agencies. For the curious, here were this year's most popular posts:
  1. What Do We Mean By "Net Neutrality"? (June 16)
  2. Eric Schmidt's summer of public policy (July 26)
  3. The promise of open platforms in the upcoming spectrum auction (July 10)
  4. Signs of real progress at the FCC (July 31)
  5. Candidates at Google: Barack Obama (November 15)
Would-be presidents take the "Google Interview"
In what Newsweek called a "must-stop on the 2008 trail," eight (nine?) presidential candidates visited our headquarters in Mountain View, California: Senator Chris Dodd, Senator Barack Obama, Senator Mike Gravel, Representative Ron Paul, Senator John Edwards, Senator John McCain, Governor Bill Richardson, and Senator Hillary Clinton.

With the Iowa caucuses fast approaching and the 2008 election less than 11 months away, these visits allowed Googlers (and voters, via YouTube) to hear the candidates' thoughts on the war in Iraq, technology, immigration, trade, health care, and the most efficient methods for sorting one million 32-bit integers.

Issues, Issues, Issues
This year we were very proud of our efforts to promote changes in U.S. spectrum policy. We called for international privacy standards and took steps to further enhance privacy for our users. Patent reform moved forward, and we reminded people of the value of fair use. At year's end, we were gratified that the FTC approved our acquisition of DoubleClick with no conditions -- agreeing that the deal will help consumers and doesn't hurt competition. And, last but not least, we continued our work to keep the Internet free and open.

Debates, YouTube style
Democratic and Republican presidential candidates descended on Charleston and St. Pete, respectively, for the first-ever CNN/YouTube debates. Nearly 4.5 million viewers tuned in to the Republican debate, making it the most-watched primary debate in cable television history. More than 3,000 questions were submitted for the Democrats; over 5,000 for the Republicans. One Nebraska high school teacher even asked his students to submit questions as a homework assignment. And who said school was boring?

Googlers on the Hill
Four Googlers testified before Congress this year. YouTube's Chad Hurley talked about the future of online video. People Operations VP Laszlo Bock talked immigration. Chief Legal Officer David Drummond promoted our acquisition of DoubleClick, and JL Needham talked about our work to make federal government websites more searchable.

From all of us to all of you, best wishes for a happy holiday season. And stay tuned to this blog for much more in the new year.


[G] Google: the chainmail version

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Official Google Blog: Google: the chainmail version

From time to time we highlight the non-work interests and pastimes of individual Googlers. - Ed.

I have been working with chainmail, and metal working in general, for nearly 5 years now. I picked it up when I started college. My first major in college was history, and I was going to focus on the Middle Ages because of my fascination with the medieval period. After I changed majors to Computer Science, my hobby remained medievalism.

I have apprenticed under a blacksmith and learned some general metal working techniques. But I could not build my own forge then, so I turned to chainmail, which is a "cold" metal craft. Now I can take a bag of rings with me anywhere I go, and any time I have free time, I can work on whatever my current project is.

The crafting of chainmail is a relatively inexpensive hobby -- for the cost of a single videogame I can have enough chainmail supplies to last me months. The best part is that is requires very little thought most of the time, so you can multitask; watch TV, or movies, or even browse the web while working on chainmail.

A while back I was wanting to try my hand a chainmail inlay, but I did not have a design in mind. Most people make a chainmail shirt that has some dragon, or rampant lion design on it. I wanted to make something more unique. After a few weeks of thinking about this, I realized that I could use the Google logo.

I started construction in late April 2007, my plan was to only work on it while on my lunch break, or other downtimes. But I soon realized it would take me years at that pace. And the opening of our new office area was going to happen later in the summer. So I began to work on it whenever I was not actually doing my job. I spent around 4 to 5 hours a day every weekday weaving the banner.

Four months later, I had a completed banner, which now hangs in our office.

For the numbers-minded, here are some details:
  • The entire project is exactly 25,829 rings.
  • Dimensions: 67 units by 44 units (c. 66" x 27")
  • Rings: 1/4" 16-gauge aluminum; the silver is bright aluminum and the inlay uses colored anodized aluminum.
  • The entire thing is the traditional 4 in 1 pattern turned 90 degrees.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

[G] The most wonderful time of the year

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Official Google Mac Blog: The most wonderful time of the year

2007 has been an amazing year for Apple users, beginning with the iPhone announcement and culminating in the highly anticipated release of Mac OS X Leopard in October. The Google Mac team has been busy too, starting with the MacFUSE release and finishing strong with the launch of Google Gadgets, an updated Google Desktop, and our Developer Playground.

But for Mac fans, the holidays don't end on New Year's Day. We all look forward to Macworld Expo in January, when Apple pulls back the curtain on its latest cool stuff. And for the first time, we'll have an official Google booth at Macworld. If you're at the show, we hope you'll drop by and say hi. Until then, enjoy your holiday season, and we'll see you in January.


[G] AdSense inspiration

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Inside AdSense: AdSense inspiration

A few weeks ago we posted the winner of the AdSense Story Contest, and as promised, here are a few more of the stories and video submissions we received. This one comes from AdSense publisher Amit Agarwal of Agra, India.

Amit is a professional blogger and personal technology columnist for the Financial Express and The Hindustan Times. He maintains a technology blog called Digital Inspiration, which draws readers from all over the globe and covers software reviews, web technologies, and social media. His latest venture, India Inc., carries news and analysis about business and finance. Amit also runs a message board where he personally answers reader questions on blogging, online monetization and software.

In the early days, Amit was only making a few cents on Digital Inspiration. After optimizing the site, however, his revenue went through the roof. Now AdSense helps Amit lead a very comfortable life. Amit says, "I have tried a couple of other advertising programs on my website, but none of them have been so successful as AdSense. That's because AdSense contextual ads are always so relevant to the content."

Amit has also found success with several other AdSense products and features. He currently uses referrals to recommend software to his readers, and has implemented link units to efficiently use space on his site. He also uses the Google Custom Search Engine, linked to his AdSense for search account, and so is able to monetize his search results while helping visitors navigate through his site's pages with greater control. As he notes, "Currently 75% of my site revenue comes through the Google AdSense program. And I get more time to focus on writing new content for my readers rather than hunting for advertisers. AdSense has helped change my life forever."


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

[G] Managing your shared items

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Official Google Reader Blog: Managing your shared items

We've gotten a lot of helpful feedback about our new sharing feature. We'd hoped that making it easier to share with the people you chat with often would be useful and interesting, but we underestimated the number of users who were using the Share button to send stories to a limited number of people. We're looking at ways to make sharing more granular and flexible, but in the meantime there are several ways to share items without letting all of your Google Talk friends see them (you can also add or remove friends via Gmail or Google Talk).

You can still share any tag, or items you've starred, by clicking on Settings and selecting Tags. Each tag you share will get its own public page and feed URL, the same way shared items has a public page and feed; these tags will not be shared with anyone unless you send them the public address. Once you've shared a tag, simply click "Edit tags" at the bottom of any item to share it under that tag.

If you've already shared some items, you can click "Manage friends" in the upper-left box and then "move or clear your shared items"; from there you can select a tag to which you can transfer your list of shared items, or you can clear the list completely and start sharing anew. If you haven't logged into Reader in a while you'll be greeted by a pop-up window titled "Share with Friends", and you'll have the option to move or clear your shared items from there - your items will not be shared with your friends until you've clicked "Continue" from this window.

Thanks to all our users for helping to make Google Reader better, so please keep your feedback coming. From all of us on the Reader team, best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

[G] The year in YouTube politics

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Official Google Blog: The year in YouTube politics

Candidates caught singing on camera. Dorm-room presidential interviews. A martial arts master endorsing a presidential candidate. Citizen-created campaign commercials. And two presidential primary debates. 2007 was quite a year for YouTube Politics.

At this time last year, YouTube had developed a reputation as a place where "gotcha!" videos posted by ciitzens were changing the political landscape. Some even called the 2006 U.S. midterm elections "the YouTube election" after several candidates were caught on camera saying things they probably shouldn't have. But in 2007, that changed. Seizing the YouTube opportunity, presidential candidates came rushing to the platform themselves, setting up official campaign channels on our You Choose '08 platform. Seven of the 16 presidential candidates even announced their candidacies on YouTube.

Candidates and voters now speak to each other through video. At their best, campaigns use YouTube not as a shrunken TV screen through which to distribute their soundbites, but as a window through which to have a dialogue with the American people. YouTube's leveling effect is this: anyone can upload a video with their political message, and the best content rises to the top through community view counts, rankings, linkages, and embeds. Any voter with a video camera and access to the Internet has the opportunity to be seen and heard.

Our two presidential debates with CNN highlighted this phenomenon. Eight thousand video questions were submitted for the two record-setting debates, which opened up a traditionally closed event to the rest of the world via YouTube. Time was, you had to be in New Hampshire, Iowa, or Florida to get access to candidates at a debate. With questions coming directly from voters via video, our YouTube debates helped to break down some of the geographical barriers that have so sharply defined American politics in the past.

So what's ahead in 2008? Things are only going to get more exciting. As Congressional and Senate races heat up, you'll see more and more candidates coming to YouTube. And as the presidential races narrows down to two candidates, YouTube will be a critical battlefront in the general election. With voters, candidates, issue groups, media companies, trade associations, lobbyists and activists all interacting on the same level platform, 2008 promises to be a true "YouTube Election."


[G] Thanks for telling us your story

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Google Analytics Blog: Thanks for telling us your story

One of the most exciting things about having such an extensive ecosystem of Google Analytics users is the variety of ways people are using the product. Each website has a unique personality and appearance and if you're a website owner, you're often thinking about how to combine navigation, design, and language to most clearly communicate your message to users. And then repeating that process.

We love to hear stories from Google Analytics users so we can share the flexibility of the product and understand unique success metrics. We recently heard one such story from the folks at, who switched to Google Analytics and let us know that they are now not only saving $5,600 dollars every month but are also more satisfied with their web analytics reporting. CEO Oney Seal reports, "I paid money and I wasn't getting any value. I can look at the data now and I understand it."

Here's their story:

As a large internet retailer selling ink cartridges, toners, and printer supplies, price competition is a significant challenge for DataBazaar. The same products can be bought from many different vendors and customers can easily take their business elsewhere. Having a seamless site from landing page to checkout is vital to their business - both in getting first time customers as well as keeping repeat shoppers. Before switching to Google Analytics, DataBazaar felt they weren't getting the content optimization insights they needed, despite spending a hefty sum on reporting. Frustrated, they decided to transition their site — all seventeen thousand pages — to Google Analytics. In doing so, DataBazaar discovered a collection of stumbling blocks on their site in their navigation reports. They used Google Analytics in conjunction with Google Website Optimizer to make changes that increased the conversion rate on some pages by over 43%. Also, they learned what not to change on their site, noticing that many of the conversion funnels that were already in place were working surprisingly well. They are continuing to use Google Analytics to raise conversion rates even higher. Thanks for sharing and congratulations DataBazaar!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

[G] The best of the blog

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Google LatLong: The best of the blog

Since the start of Google Lat Long back in May, we've had fun keeping you updated on all the exciting new developments in the geo world -- from product launches and innovative user-created content to the evolution of the geoweb in general. As the year comes to a close, we thought we'd take a moment to look back at some of the greatest moments in news and notes by the Google Earth and Maps teams.

Street View
Since the launch of Street View in May, our post introducing the service remained one the top five most read posts consistently throughout the year. And "street view" was one the most common search keywords. So just as we did earlier this month in announcing 8 new Street View cities, we'll be sure to keep you posted on new city rollouts.

Google Earth Outreach
We heralded the arrival of this exciting new program for non-profits with a post that pointed to video footage of our kick-off event at our New York office. The video featuring an appearance by Jane Goodall was viewed over 22,000 times.

My Maps and Disaster Relief
When the My Maps tab was added to Google Maps earlier this year, we were eagerly anticipating all the cool and creative custom maps folks would be coming up with. However, we were positively floored to find the incredible maps made to aid areas in need. From flood maps created by "citizen journalists" and by BBC Berkshire to the San Diego fire maps and the Google Earth layer of Southern California imagery, the astonishing number of views pointed to new ways to help.

Sky in Google Earth
Another top post of the year, our note introducing the addition of a new Sky view in Google Earth, caught the attention of many Lat Long readers. Google Earth aficionados are able to zoom in on distant galaxies and explore constellations and supernova explosions from the comfort of their computer screens. A list of great tips on how to use Sky in Google Earth for educational purposes followed, and you can expect more updates in the new year.

YouTube videos in Google Earth
Ever watched a funny, intriguing, or outrageous YouTube video and wondered where it came from? Well, we have too. That's why we were so excited to announce the addition of a new YouTube layer in Google Earth. Videos geotagged in YouTube are included in this browseable layer, making it easy to view clips associated with a location of your choice.

Maps Mania!

2007 saw the addition of a number of great new features in Google Maps, perhaps too numerous to count. Early on in the year, the creation of the My Maps tab and the addition of countless Mapplets enabled just about anyone to create their own mashups. Throughout the year, searching for accurate and helpful directions got a whole lot easier with the launch of draggable directions and the ability to read and write user reviews of businesses, as well as edit address markers. Finally, mapmakers enjoyed the addition of cool new Maps functionalities towards the end of the year, including the ability to both collaborate on customized maps and embed them wherever you see fit, as you might a YouTube video.

As you can see, this year's been a busy one. We're all looking forward to a few days of rest and holiday cheer. And with that, we must bid adieu -- happy holidays and a wonderful new year from all of us at Google Lat Long! Stay tuned for more geo news and notes in 2008, and don't forget to track Santa!


[G] NORAD tracks Santa with Google

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Official Google Blog: NORAD tracks Santa with Google

Now Dasher! Now Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donner and Blitzen!

We're counting down the hours until Santa's flight around the world. On Monday, December 24th, starting at 1 am PST, visit to track Santa with NORAD on his annual trip.

NORAD will use Google Maps to track several hundred of Santa's stops in over 200 countries and territories, and will embed videos of Santa's stops captured on their Santa Cams on the Google Map and post the videos on the NORAD Tracks Santa YouTube channel.

Want to see more of Santa? NORAD will also provide a downloadable Santa Tracker file to track several thousand of Santa's stops in Google Earth. Santa's visits are only a few seconds long, and then -- poof, he's off to the next location. Click on the gift icons in Google Maps or Google Earth to learn more about the cities that Santa visits.

Happy holidays from all of us at Google!


Saturday, December 22, 2007

[G] A very special Christmas broadcast

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Official Google Blog: A very special Christmas broadcast

1957 was a very special year for the British Monarchy. It had already become an annual tradition for the monarch to issue a Christmas message to people in the United Kingdom and around the world. But fifty years ago this Christmas, Queen Elizabeth II's message was televised for the first time.

In her broadcast, the Queen spoke about the technological developments that allowed her image to appear in people's homes around the nation, saying that "I very much hope that this new medium will make my Christmas message more personal and direct. That it is possible for some of you to see me today is just another example of the speed at which things are changing all around us."

This Christmas, fifty years later, we are thrilled to say that the British Monarchy is embracing another new technology by launching The Royal Channel on YouTube. By setting up the first ever channel from a monarchy, the Queen joins other world leaders including the French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the British Government in using online video to communicate with people around the globe.

Right now, you can visit The Royal Channel to see that first 1957 broadcast, along with other rare and previously unreleased archive footage. And at around 3pm BST on Christmas Day, this year's Christmas broadcast from the Queen will appear on YouTube as well as on television.

We're delighted to welcome the Queen to the YouTube community, and hope that you enjoy the unseen treasures on her channel as much as we have.


Friday, December 21, 2007

[G] Save some energy over the holidays

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Official Google Blog: Save some energy over the holidays

Here's a suggestion for everyone to save energy over the holidays (and at other times!): turn off your computer and monitor or put them into "sleep" mode when you're not using them.

Why? The typical desktop PC uses 100-200 watts even when it's idle. That's the equivalent of 1-2 bright incandescent (read: inefficient) light bulbs. (Note: new PCs that comply with the latest Energy Star specifications consume less than 50-60 watts when idle.)

You wouldn't leave your car running for hours when it's just sitting there. Most of us wouldn't leave a bright light bulb burning for hours when no one is nearby to need the light. So why leave your computer on?

If you're leaving your office for the holidays, turn off your PC. If it consumes 100 watts, that will save 2.4 kWh/day, or over 25 kWh for the next 11 days through January 1st. In California, that will stop about 40 kg of CO2 from being put into the air, and save about $2.50. For every 1 million people who do this, that will stop 40,000 tonnes (metric tons) of CO2 from being emitted, and save $2.5 million. In many areas, it will reduce emissions even further, and save even more money.

The same issue applies at home: turn off your computer or put it to sleep when you're not using it. The automatic power management settings on most computers will put them to sleep automatically after a specified idle period.

If you use a screensaver, set it to "blank" the screen and put the monitor in sleep mode after a few minutes. Screensavers don't have any benefit (other than being nice to look at) on modern displays, and they consume as much or more energy as just about anything else you could ask your computer to do.

You might be thinking, "why now?" This isn't just an issue for the holidays, but this is a good time to remind people. In general, when you're not using your computer, turn it off or put it to sleep. Most computers can go to sleep quickly, and then wake up with all your work exactly as it was when you put it to sleep -- so there's no downside.

If you want to do even more to save energy with your computers and to help the entire IT industry move to higher energy efficiency, check out the Climate Savers Computing Initiative, which we co-founded last June to create a positive "virtuous circle" between the supply of and demand for energy-efficient computers. More than 140 companies, universities, governments, and nonprofits, along with thousands of individuals, have pledged to buy energy-efficient computers and to use automatic power management tools to save energy. As more people make the same commitments, the volume of energy-efficient computers sold will increase, and the very modest price premium they demand today should drop.

Have a great holiday season!


[G] Tracking election coverage

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Google News Blog: Tracking election coverage

I'm a bit of a junkie for political news, and of course I follow elections. The U.S. section of Google News covers a broad range of topics that are of interest to a national audience; thus, typically, few stories pertain to elections. There is no simple query that I can use in the News search box that will give me a broad and current selection of stories related to the elections. To provide direct access to extensive coverage of the candidates, the campaigns, and the issues, Google News has launched a new Elections section on our front page. This brings you the top stories on national, state, and local elections throughout the United States.

The Elections section appears on the front page along with all of the previously supported sections. If you've personalized your front page, you can add this new section with a single click of the button following the announcement at the top of the front page. If you navigate to the full Elections section, there is a gadget you can use to "Follow the Candidates." The candidates tab allows you to select the candidates you wish to track. The video, news, and blogs tabs allow you to find content specific to those candidates. The maps tab allows you to follow those candidates on the campaign trail. You can use the button below the gadget to add the gadget to your iGoogle page.

Now I can easily satisfy my appetite for election news, and as a big election season gets underway, I'm excited and proud to be working on the Google News Team to help keep others informed too.


[G] 2007 Roundup

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Blogger Buzz: 2007 Roundup

2007 has been Blogger's most amazing year yet! As you'll remember, we began it just after we had taken the new version of Blogger out of beta. Here's a quick run-down of many of the fun things we did since then:
If you're not using any of these on your blog, click through to the various Buzz posts and Help articles that explain them, and check them out — they're really nifty. And many thanks for sticking with Blogger through the transition to the new version earlier this year — it's a powerful and scalable platform on which we'll be building lots of exciting new features in 2008!


[G] Season's greetings

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Inside AdWords: Season's greetings

As 2007 wraps up, we'd like to take a moment to send you our warmest wishes for the holiday season. We'll be taking the next week off, but look for us again in January when we'll countdown our annual top 10 must-read posts from the past year. And before we go, here's this year's holiday doodle, featuring someone you may recognize along with his new friend:

Have a warm and wonderful holiday!


[G] 'tis the season

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Official Google Blog: 'tis the season

The holiday season is a time for reuniting with friends and family, reveling in stories and sentimentalities, cozying up to a cup of warm cocoa, listening to a fire slowly pop and fizzle. It's a time when we ease ourselves out of our routines, and have a moment to share our joys with those who are nearest to us. And the season affords us a unique opportunity to step back and empathize with people who face hardships throughout the world.

This season, Googlers everywhere are not only celebrating the joys of the holidays; quite a few of us have joined together to give back to our local communities. Whether it's helping kids craft public service announcements, contributing to toy drives, gathering donations for food banks, working with high schoolers on their college apps, writing get-well cards for sick children, or pitting teams of chefs against one another for charity, Googlers have made it a point to get creative.

We've assembled pictures from these events in this album, and encourage you to find a way to give back in your own community.


[G] A worldwide celebration

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Google LatLong: A worldwide celebration

As a member of the Maps team, I'm constantly impressed with the creative and meaningful ways people are using our mapping tools. My heart was warmed this morning when I read this post on the Official Google Blog. Readers are invited to add to a map created by the blog team and encouraged to add their personal holiday stories and traditions, punctuated with videos and photos.

Add a video of your kids squealing as they tear through wrapping paper, or pictures of the holiday morning you spent tobogganing with the family. Paste in your holiday wish list and direct your family members to it. Whatever you decide to do, just don't forget to take a peek at the other placemarks across the map. It's a fantastic time of year to celebrate the world around us.

View Larger Map


[G] A Festivus for the webmasterus

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: A Festivus for the webmasterus

If it's good enough for the Costanzas, it's good enough for Webmaster Central: it's time for a Festivus for the rest of us (webmasterus)!
Webmaster Central holiday photo
Our special celebration begins not with carols and eggnog, but by remembering some of the popular Webmaster Tools features—make that Feats of Strength—for 2007. This year, you gained the ability to chickity-check out your backlinks (<-- that's Festivus-inspired anchor text) and tell Google you want out with URL Removal. And let's not forget Message Center and IDNA support, perfect for those times when [a-zA-Z0-9\-] just doesn't cut it.

Feel the power! Festivus Feats of Strength!

Now comes our webmaster family's traditional Airing of Grievances. You can air your woes and "awww man!"s in the comments below. Just remember that bots may crawl this blog, but we humans review the comments, so please keep your grievances constructive. :) Let us know about features you'd like implemented in Webmaster Tools, articles you'd like written in our blog or Help Center, and stuff you'd like to see in the discussion group. Bonus points if you also explain how your suggestion helps the whole Internet—not just your site's individual rankings. (But of course, we understand that your site ranking number one for all queries in all regions is truly, objectively good for everyone.)

Last, there are so many Festivus Miracles to share! Such as the many helpful members of the discussion group from all around the world, the new friendships formed between Susan Moskwa, JohnMu, Wysz, Matt D, Bergy, Patrick, Nathanj and so many webmasters, and the fun of chatting with our video watchers, fellow conference attendees, and those in the blogosphere keepin' it real.

On behalf of the entire Webmaster Central team, here's to you, Festivus Miracle and Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2006—happy holidays. See you in 2008. :)


[G] The gift of time

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Google Public Policy Blog: The gift of time

Has the end of the year crept up on you just as fast as it has on us? What we wouldn't give for a few extra days to wrap up our loose ends in 2007!

Never fear: we are extending the deadline for the Google Policy Fellowship program that we announced last month. Now students will have until Friday, January 11th to submit their application and postmark their letters of recommendations.

The Google Policy Fellowship program offers undergraduate, graduate, and law students the opportunity to spend the summer of 2008 contributing to the public dialogue on issues fundamental to the future of the Internet and its users, and exploring future academic and professional interests in Internet and technology policy.

Fellows will have the opportunity to work at public interest organizations at the forefront of debates on broadband and access policy, content regulation, copyright and trademark reform, consumer privacy, open government, and more. Participating organizations include: American Library Association, Cato Institute, Center for Democracy and Technology, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Internet Education Foundation, Media Access Project, New America Foundation, and Public Knowledge.

Check out all of the details and get started on your application now.


[G] We're taking a break, but you don't have to

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Official Gmail Blog: We're taking a break, but you don't have to

We've had a busy year re-coding Gmail and providing you with a slew of new features before this holiday season. Now it's time for a break. We'll be back in January, but until then, we've assembled a list of things you can do using Gmail in case you get bored over the holiday*:
  • Try one of three new chat features to keep in better touch: group chat with your family, reconnect with your long lost AIM friends, or add some spirit to your smiley.
  • Grab a video camera and share your Gmail story with the world.
  • Send out your holiday cards by email -- it's cheaper than stamps and they're searchable that way.
  • Change your labels to holiday colors to make your inbox more festive.
  • Playing with your iPhone this holiday season? Then try out free IMAP access and sync your Gmail inbox across devices.

Thanks for all the feedback you've given us this year, and we hope you enjoy the newest features. On behalf of the entire Gmail team, happy holidays and have a wonderful New Year. See you in 2008.

*Some of these features only work in the latest version of Gmail, now available for English IE7 and Firefox 2 users.


[G] My Maps are Our Maps

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Official Google Blog: My Maps are Our Maps

The tools used for navigation and exploration are fraught with metaphorical possibility. A compass or telescope can be a powerful symbol for search, discovery, and the fearless embrace of the unknown. A map can tell you where you are, give you an idea of what lies ahead, and even better, give scale and breadth to your location. Maps connect us with the world in a way that is tangible, visual and now, even interactive.

And for any of the myriad places you can point to on a map, there are traditions, stories, pictures and memories -- each is as unique and fascinating as its teller. For this year's holiday season we've created a My Map for you to customize.

View Larger Map

Mark your place in the world with photos, video and stories that illuminate something about how you celebrate. Your stories can make for a considerably bigger map than any featuring geopolitical boundaries and highway markers; they can mark a human space of Chanukah candles, Christmas trees, family feasts and reunions great and small. We look forward to seeing how you make your mark.


[G] Happy holidays from the AdSense team

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Inside AdSense: Happy holidays from the AdSense team

We'd like to send our warmest holiday wishes to all of our publishers around the globe. While you may not be catching snowflakes where you are, we hope you find a winter wonderland (or summer wonderland for our readers in the Southern Hemisphere?) wherever you're located this holiday season.

Our U.S. offices will be closed until Thursday, December 27th, so it may take us some time to respond to your emails. In the meantime, you can consult our Help Center for immediate answers, or spread holiday cheer by discussing your questions with other publishers on the Help Forum.

Happy holidays!


[G] European govts embracing openness

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Google Public Policy Blog: European govts embracing openness

Openness is the key to innovation, and innovation is the key to future growth and development. So it is hardly surprising to see that governments all over the European Union -- in Norway, the Netherlands, and Germany -- are now moving to support both open standards as well as open source.

The Norweigan ICT minister Heidi Grande R√łys just recently advertised a large national push for open source and open standards projects all over Norway. A national competence center for open source was also recently founded by a group of trade associations, municipalities and national government agencies. The objective of the center is to promote openness in projects as well as to make sure that institutions and support exists to sustain long-term development for open source. The Norweigan government also recently declared that they will only use open standards for government information, with the Open Document Format identified as the main alternative.

In September the Dutch Secretary of State of Economic Affairs, Frank Heemskerk, and the Dutch Secretary of State of Internal Affairs, Ank Bijleveld-Schouten, published the Action Plan Open Standards and Open Source Software. This plan, which sets the agenda for the public sector to use open source software from 2008 and a requirement to apply a "comply-or-explain and commit" principle for open standards, is a follow-up of the national competence center that was founded a couple of years ago.

When the plan was discussed in the Dutch Parliament on December 12, some political parties went beyond simply declaring their support and stated that the price of hardware and software should be unbundled and requested a legal obligation to use open source software. Heemskerk did not favour a legal obligation, but promised to set-up a hotline where complaints can be filed. On that same date Heemskerk also published a letter in the Financiele Dagblad that reiterated the commitment of the Dutch government to open standards and open source software, also based on the notion that this will reduce administrative burdens.

Germany has also had a long-standing involvement in open standards and free software. Prodded by a very active developer base and the oldest and largest industry association for free software, the Linux-Verband, the German government was the first to fund free software development with its support for GnuPG as early as 1999. Free software is recommended by the German Agency for Security in Information Technology (BSI) and adoption ranges from the German Foreign Ministry, which introduced free software to secure its lines of communication with all embassies around the world in 2003 and started using GNU/Linux on the desktop in 2006, over municipalities like Munich to regions like Friesland. Much of this adoption is driven by strategic considerations and security by transparency. Control of infrastructures, freedom of choice, markets and political independence are other driving factors of this evolution. It is hardly surprising then, that the German Foreign Ministry recently came out in strong support of the Open Document Format.

Clearly European governments are engaging more and more in open standards and open source software (perhaps inspired by European Commission research showing that these steps will stimulate the European economy). This trend is picking up momentum at a crucial time, as the European Commission conducts the midterm review of their i2010 programme for ICT policy in the European Union. Here's hoping that openness is front and center in their policy going forward.


[G] New Toolbar adds accessible features

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Official Google Blog: New Toolbar adds accessible features

Last week Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer launched version 5 as a public beta. This version introduces a number of exciting features, such as making your Toolbar settings available from any computer that you log into with your Google Account, improved suggestions for broken links, as well as important changes that make Toolbar more accessible for assistive technology users.

This release adds support for Windows Accessibility APIs (used by screen readers, etc.) and enables keyboard navigation and access. From inside a browser with Toolbar installed, the global shortcut Alt+G places your cursor in the Google Toolbar search box. If you're using a screen reader, you'll hear "Google Toolbar Search". Pressing the Tab key brings keyboard focus to the button placed immediately after the search box, and right and left arrow keys move focus between buttons. More information on keyboard access is documented in the Toolbar Help Center (query 'accessibility').

Version 5 comes as a part of our ongoing efforts to enhance accessibility in our client-side and web applications, which is a matter I hardly need to mention is very important. Personally, I see my work that went into the Toolbar as an important step forward, as the product reaches a very large number of users and enables everyone to gain quick access to a multitude of useful features, through a unified UI. Adding keyboard navigation and other features that enhance the ease of access to these features benefit everyone.

We look forward to making further improvements to accessibility (including the installation process) in future releases. You can download the new Google Toolbar at


Thursday, December 20, 2007

[G] Mapping at the speed of light

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Google LatLong: Mapping at the speed of light

Just the other day I was perusing the many fantastic customized maps people around the world have created using tools in the My Maps tab when I came across a map that made my face light up. As a child, I loved going on car rides with my family during the holidays, cruising through surrounding neighborhoods and checking out all the beautiful lights and decorations sprinkled throughout the area. That's why when I came across this map pinpointing the locations of holiday light displays put together by The Ledger, a newspaper in Florida, I was filled with glee!

The Ledger's map has markers spread throughout Polk County, just outside of Tampa, describing light displays in the area in detail. They've made their map open for collaboration and are inviting viewers to add placemarks of their own. So if you're in the area and are particularly proud of your holiday decorations, feel free to add them to the map. Just log into your Google account and hit "Edit."

And if you're not in Polk County, I encourage you to make a similar map for your area. Click on My Maps in Google Maps and use the tools in the upper left-hand corner to design a holiday map of your own. I wish this sort of technology had been around when I was a kid -- playing tour guide for my family with a detailed holiday display map might have made the season all the merrier.


[G] You Blog, We Listen

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Blogger Buzz: You Blog, We Listen

Two fixes just went live, before we sign off for a brief holiday break:
  • Unregistered commenters can once again provide an auto-linked URL [Help Group Thread]
  • Images in the Header page element will no longer be cropped vertically [Help Group thread]
We apologize for having broken these features for you. Your blogs and Help Group posts showed us the true extent to which you used and cared about these features, so please let us know if they're still being problematic.

Thanks for your patience!


[G] Decorate your desktop

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Official Google Blog: Decorate your desktop

This is the time of year when People Who Love to Decorate — you know who you are — can go all out. And while you're festooning your home and office, don't forget your computer desktop!

The Inside Google Desktop Blog has a guide to the latest holiday gadgets, with a picture of each one and tips on how you might use it. You can decorate a Christmas tree, listen to music, exchange ornaments with a friend, count down to the New Year, and more. They look right at home on your desktop, or you can put them in the Google Desktop sidebar or your iGoogle home page.

Take the Christmas Tree gadget, for instance. When you start it up, it's a simple tree with gently falling snow. With a few clicks you can add ornaments wherever you like. If you find the animated precipitation distracting, you can hide the snowflakes.

We hope you enjoy these gadgets. And happy holidays from the Google Desktop Team!


[G] A Googley Holiday Season

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Inside Google Desktop: A Googley Holiday Season

Season's greetings, everyone! To help ring in the New Year, we've got a great holiday present for you: an update to Google Desktop for Linux. The biggest addition in version 1.1.1 is support for 64-bit platforms, but we have also made many stability improvements that should be welcome to all of our existing users. Our team has worked hard over the past few weeks to get the new version out before the end of the year, and we're glad to have succeeded. So have fun with the new release, and have a wonderful holiday season — from all of us here at Google.


[G] Get your cricket scores here

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Official Google Blog: Get your cricket scores here

Around Google we look to add value for our users in various ways. One way to do this is through our 20% time (engineers can spend one day a week working on projects that are not necessarily part of their current job responsibilities -- an integral part of our philosophy). So the two of us decided to use our 20% time for something near to the hearts of many.

If you know what a silly mid-on is and what LBW stands for, chances are you're one of the tens of millions of cricket fans that just can't get enough of the latest scores. Well, we have good news: you can now get the latest cricket scores when you visit Google News India. There's more detail about this new feature on the Google News Blog.


[G] Cricket Scores in Google News

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Google News Blog: Cricket Scores in Google News

We're excited to share a new feature for Google News India: you can now get the latest cricket scores right on the front page! If there's a cricket match going on somewhere in the world (and there always is) you will have the latest information available. And if you want all the cricket news in addition to the latest scores while you're on the Google News front page, you can personalize Google News by creating a custom section. In fact, even if you don't read Google News India, but still want to get the latest cricket scores, simply add a custom section from the India edition to your edition, and you'll be able to see the latest cricket scores on your Google News front page wherever you live. Be sure to check out our Hindi News edition as well.

We hope this gives you your fill of cricket scores and more, so let us know what you think.


[G] Analysis: The FTC clears our acquisition of DoubleClick

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Google Public Policy Blog: Analysis: The FTC clears our acquisition of DoubleClick

(Cross-posted to the Official Google Blog)

Earlier today, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) cleared our acquisition of DoubleClick. This is obviously excellent news for both companies, and I would like to comment on its significance and what it means for us going forward.

Perhaps most importantly, the FTC's decision publicly affirms what we and numerous independent analysts have been saying for months: our acquisition does not threaten competition in what is a robust, innovative, and quickly evolving online advertising space. In fact, we firmly believe the transaction will increase competition and bring substantial benefits to consumers, web publishers, and online advertisers.

Looking at the FTC's clearance statement, a few key points jump out as noteworthy:
  • Transaction was cleared with no conditions. The FTC cleared the acquisition unconditionally, without demanding any changes in or commitments concerning the companies' business practices. This will allow us to remain flexible as we continue to innovate and provide the best services to our customers and users.

  • Google and DoubleClick are not competitors. The FTC stated that its "thorough analysis of the evidence showed that the companies are not direct competitors in any relevant antitrust market." Furthermore, the FTC concluded that the merger would not eliminate beneficial potential competition, writing that "it is unlikely that the elimination of Google as a potential competitor in the third party ad serving markets would have a significant impact on competition." We agree with both of these findings. Google and DoubleClick provide complementary services, and competition between the companies was not necessary to create benefits for consumers. To the contrary, consumers will benefit from the two companies working together and combining our resources.

  • Third party ad serving markets are highly competitive. The FTC noted that "the evidence shows that the third party ad serving markets are competitive," and said that "the evidence also shows that firms can and do switch ad serving firms when it is in their self-interest to do so." This is an important finding, because it means that ad serving customers will continue to benefit from innovation and product development by the many players in this space, and that they can always select the ad serving provider that offers them the best services.

  • Privacy not a part of the merger review. Though we strongly believe in protecting our users' privacy, the FTC clearance decision reaffirmed the law by noting that privacy concerns played no role in its merger review. This is an important principle, as privacy issues need to be addressed on an industry-wide basis, and not on a company-by-company basis. The FTC wrote, "although such issues may present important policy questions for the Nation, the sole purpose of federal antitrust review of mergers and acquisitions is to identify and remedy transactions that harm competition. Not only does the Commission lack legal authority to require conditions to this merger that do not relate to antitrust, regulating the privacy requirements of just one company could itself pose a serious detriment to competition in this vast and rapidly evolving industry." The FTC also noted, however, "that the evidence does not support a conclusion" that this particular transaction will harm consumer privacy.

  • Data combination wouldn't pose problems. The FTC rejected the suggestion from competitors that Google would combine user information with DoubleClick's customers' data to obtain an advantage in the market, writing that the data is owned by DoubleClick's customers and that "at bottom, the concerns raised by Google's competitors regarding the integration of these two data sets -- should privacy concerns not prevent such integration -- really amount to a fear that the transaction will lead to Google offering a superior product to its customers." Moreover, "a number of Google's competitors have at their disposal valuable stores of data not available to Google. For instance, Google's most significant competitors in the ad intermediation market, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and Time Warner have access to their own unique data stores."

  • Advertisers and publishers aren't concerned. The FTC noted that "the clear majority of third parties expressing [competitive] concerns [about the deal] were Google's current or potential competitors." Additionally, Commissioner Jon Liebowitz noted in his concurring opinion that "my staff and I independently spoke with publishers and advertisers potentially affected by this deal and, somewhat surprisingly, they raised few anticompetitive concerns. In fact, many seem unruffled by the alternatives in the post-merger market." It is telling that while our competitors tried hard to come up with theories of how our customers and partners could be harmed by the deal, those customers and partners themselves did not agree with those theories. In fact, we know that many of these advertisers and publishers are excited about the transaction and look forward to benefiting from it.

But as I said at the outset, perhaps the most important aspect of the clearance decision is its recognition of the fact that both Google and DoubleClick do business in a competitive and rapidly evolving arena. Indeed, as the FTC noted, all of the recent acquisitions that have occurred in the online advertising space have confirmed this. "The entry and expansion of...well-financed competitors has transformed the ad intermediation marketplace over the last six months," the FTC wrote. "All of these firms are vertically integrated, and all appear to be well-positioned to compete vigorously against Google in this new marketplace."

I should also note that, separate from its clearance decision, the FTC this morning released some suggested principles to guide online companies engaging in online advertising. We support the FTC's effort to develop industry-wide standards in this area, and we are studying these proposals carefully.

Receiving clearance from the FTC is of course an important step forward, but it does not mean that we can now close the acquisition. For that, we must also receive clearance from European Commission (EC), which is still conducting its review. We are cooperating fully with the EC and are hopeful that they will soon reach the same conclusion as their U.S. counterparts.