Friday, June 8, 2007

How are you using Talk?

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How are you using Talk?

We focus a lot in this blog on the features we're adding to Google Talk and the technology behind them. But I wanted to share a bit about our users and what they're doing with Google Talk.

As a member of the Google Talk support team, my day is usually busy reading emails reporting issues, troubleshooting, and generally learning about what's up with Google Talk users and how we can make their experience better. Mixed in to the grab bag of technical issues are bits and blurbs from users who can't get enough of Google Talk. Nothing makes my day more than hearing from Google Talk users who enjoy using the product to keep in touch with their friends, families, classmates, fellow online gamers, and business partners. It's inspiring to be a part of something that helps make the world a smaller place.

Reading stories from avid Google Talkers has made me think twice about ways to use the product. Some users have come up with creative ways to help communicate with their contacts and loved ones:

"I'm an exchange student here in Monterrey, Mexico. I'm originally from France and two months ago I left my family and my loved one there. What I like about Google Talk is the MP3 message you get in your Gmail address when someone leaves you a voicemail. You see, my girlfriend works during the day, and with the time difference it's sometimes hard to stay the phone for a long time. So when she's sleeping and I, on the other end of the planet, am not, I leave her Google Talk messages and she listens to them at work during the day, while I am asleep. Also, she can transfer the MP3 messages on her USB device at work and take them home to listen to me if she misses me or she can just connect back to her email address and I'm there! In a way Google Talk helps us keep up our relationship and reduces a bit of the awful distance that separates us." -Olivier, Monterrey, Mexico.

"I am hard-of-hearing and in my daily work activities, and I conduct or
participate in meetings in the form of teleconferences. I dial in on my
desk phone, but I still need help understanding the others on the line, so
I use the Google Talk client for Blackberry.

That's not all. My wife is deaf and she is from an all deaf family. We
keep in touch with each other by using Google Talk for the Blackberry (like
hearing couples tend to use their cell phones) and keep in touch with deaf
family members and many of our deaf friends, no matter which IM client
they choose." - Steve, Dunbar, IA

I also love to read about the zany and fun things people are doing with Google Talk:

"I talk to my 1 year old niece on Google Talk. She lives in North Dakota and I am in Michigan.

She often says things like: jk[-;p//om90, or: .........ff.;;..;. ycv?"C( cc96? C9(?C'?(( (?(?9'"

It is very fun to talk to her via Google Talk. I hear that she runs
upstairs to the computer and says 'Lee lee' (her name for me) when she
hears the incoming chat sound." -Leigh, Commerce, MI

"I met my girlfriend in Abu Dhabi, UAE when I had gone back for my summer vacation. When I came back to the United States to complete my undergrad education, I didn't want to lose contact with her. We speak day and night through Google Talk. I can't count the number of times I've fallen asleep to wake up in the morning with the headset still on my head, and still connected to her." - Carnik, Abu Dhabi, UAE

If you have a story of your own, let us know!

Iris Lu
Online Sales & Ops Coordinator


Events in June

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Events in June

The Google Analytics team is presenting at or attending three conferences this month, and we hope to meet you in person as we talk and answer questions about Google Analytics.

We're excited to attend for the first time Searchnomics on June 27 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California. Searchnomics focuses on the importance of search to websites and online businesses, including site discovery, optimization, advertising, user experience, commerce and measurement. Attendees are about 50% Fortune 500 Internet marketing groups, and 50% online retailers. We're sending a lot of presenters there, including keynote speaker Marissa Mayer, our Vice President of Search Products and User Experience, as well as Google Analytics' Brett Crosby and Avinash Kaushik. It's a one-day conference with a packed agenda of seminars about SEO, SEM, design, branding, engagement, conversion, and tracking. Both Brett and Avinash will be presenting on action-oriented web analytics to improve your website and business.

We are also attending SES Toronto on June 12 and 13th. We will have a booth, but won't be presenting. Look for David Salinas from our Boston team and Paul Botto from Mountain View. Additionally, Alex Ortiz will be speaking on a panel called "Web Analytics & Measuring Success Overview" at SES Latino in Miami on June 18th and 19th.

We hope to see you this month!


Thursday, June 7, 2007

More details about our webmaster guidelines

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: More details about our webmaster guidelines

At SMX Advanced on Monday, Matt Cutts talked about our webmaster guidelines. Later, during Q&A, someone asked about adding more detail to the guidelines: more explanation about violations and more actionable help on how to improve sites. You ask -- we deliver! On Tuesday, Matt told the SMX crowd that we'd updated the guidelines overnight to include exactly those things! We work fast around here. (OK, maybe we had been working on some of it already.)

So, what's new? Well, the guidelines themselves haven't changed. But the specific quality guidelines now link to expanded information to help you better understand how to spot and fix any issues. That section is below so you can click through to explore these new details.

Quality guidelines - specific guidelines

As Riona MacNarmara recently posted in our discussion forum, we are working to expand our webmaster help content even further and want your input. If you have suggestions, please post them in either the thread or as a comment to this post. We would love to hear from you!


Congratulations Amit, the Mac team is proud of you!

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Official Google Mac Blog: Congratulations Amit, the Mac team is proud of you!




Wednesday, June 6, 2007

On the menu

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On the menu

Sometimes we come across Reader-related things that are interesting enough that we'd like to post about them on our blog, but at the same time too small to base a whole post around. Enough of these tidbits have piled up to build a whole meal, so we thought we'd just share them with you, one link at a time.

Video Appetizers

Reader is centered around subscribing to feeds, but it's not always easy to explain to others what feeds are, who makes them, and why you'd want to subscribe to them. Worse yet, sometimes they're "feeds" and sometimes they're "RSS" -- and what is this "Atom" thing anyway? This RSS in Plain English video does a good job of explaining all that, in a very unique style.

Also on the topic of videos, Chris made a short clip showing all the places he's used his offline Reader. If you or anyone you know would like to know just why you'd Google Gears-enable an application, this showcases it pretty well:

For a more in-depth discussion of Gears and Reader, you can watch Aaron Boodman's presentation from Google Developer Day.

Embedding Entrées

Many folks like our gadget, but sometimes wish even more of Reader's features could be accessed from within iGoogle. With Michael Bolin's Your Page Here gadget, you can embed all of Reader (or any other page, for that matter) as its own tab within your iGoogle page.

For all you Facebook users, Mario Romero has created a Reader application that allows you to embed your shared items into Facebook profile. It's a bit finick-y (you have to type in your 20-digit Reader ID), but it shows how open platforms (Reader's and Facebook's) can be used together without needing permission from either party.

Fun Desserts

We've posted before about add-ons that others have made for Reader, but they've generally been of a functional nature (like notifiers and browser buttons). The Google Reader Theme that Jon Hicks made is entirely unlike that in that it doesn't add any functionality, it just makes Reader look very different (some might say Mac-like). A fresh face for Reader can be a lot of fun, and we were happy to see just how seamless Jon managed to make it.

Finally, if Reader is just too serious for you and you'd like to view your feeds through a lolcat perspective, Ian McKellar's LOL Feeds may be the thing for you.


See shared docs & spreadsheets before logging in

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Official Google Docs & Spreadsheets Blog: See shared docs & spreadsheets before logging in

When someone invites you to a view or edit a shared document or spreadsheet, you expect to be able to see it without having to jump over any walls (like a sign-in page or registration). We know this because you told us.

So now, if you invite someone who doesn't have a Google Account (or who does, but isn't logged in) to share a document or spreadsheet, he or she will be able to immediately view it. To edit, however, it's still necessary to first sign in or to create a Google account. Syd & Regina explained this in our Group.

To enable this feature, check the option on the "Share" tab called "Invitations may be used by anyone" - which will also allow people to forward your invitation email to others, so those people may gain access. You can always uncheck the box to limit access to those people you specifically invite. (They'll still need to be logged in to their Google account to create and edit documents and spreadsheets.)


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Picasa Web Albums meets Google data APIs

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Official Google Mac Blog: Picasa Web Albums meets Google data APIs

Posted by Greg Robbins, Mac Software Engineer

My parents enjoy it when I bring them printouts of my favorite photos, but the rest of my family and friends are happier just to get links to the pictures. With the Mac uploaders for Picasa Web Albums, it's quick and easy to put my photos on Google's servers.

But there's a lot more to share besides snapshots. Maybe you've created an avatar for your online world and you'd like to show your creativity to friends who live "outside." Or consider this: security cameras and webcams can capture suspicious activity. Those could go into a Picasa Web Album, and be monitored like any other RSS feed. Almost every Mac application can extend its reach by sharing online. And with Google Data APIs, there's no need for a specialized server. Any application can let you share your data with your Google Account.

Now that Picasa Web Albums has a Google data API, I've updated the open-source Objective-C Client Library to make it easy for developers to share photos from their applications. Here's what it looks like for a programmer adding the picture SunsetPhoto.jpg to the album "My Best Photos":

GDataServiceGooglePicasaWeb* service =
[[GDataServiceGooglePicasaWeb alloc] init];

[service setUserCredentialsWithUsername:@""

// get the URL for the album
NSURL *albumURL = [GDataServiceGooglePicasaWeb
picasaWebFeedURLForUserID:@"my.account" albumID:nil
albumName:@"MyBestPhotos" photoID:nil kind:nil access:nil];

// set a title and description for the new photo
GDataTextConstruct *title, *desc;
title = [GDataTextConstruct textConstructWithString:@"Sunset Photo"];
desc = [GDataTextConstruct textConstructWithString:@"A nice day"];

GDataEntryPhoto *newPhoto = [GDataEntryPhoto photoEntry];
[newPhoto setTitle:title];
[newPhoto setPhotoDescription:desc];

// attach the photo data
NSData *data = [NSData dataWithContentsOfFile:@"/SunsetPhoto.jpg"];
[newPhoto setPhotoData:data];
[newPhoto setPhotoMIMEType:@"image/jpeg"];

// now upload it
GDataServiceTicket *ticket;
ticket = [service fetchPicasaWebEntryByInsertingEntry:newPhoto

The new library includes sample code that shows developers how to browse albums, add tags, display upload progress, and take advantage of the full Picasa Web Albums API. So now you can encourage the developer of your favorite application to make it easy and free for you to share your work online, too.


Web Server Software and Malware

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Google Online Security Blog: Web Server Software and Malware

Posted by Nagendra Modadugu, Anti-Malware Team

In this post, we investigate the distribution of web server software to provide insight into how server software is correlated to servers hosting malware binaries or engaging in drive-by-downloads.

We determine server operating system by examining the 'Server:' HTTP header reported by most web servers. A survey of servers running roughly 80 million domain names reveals the web server software distribution shown below. Note that these figures may have some margin of error as it is not unusual to find hundreds of domains served by a single IP address.

Web server software across the Internet.

Web server software distribution across the Internet.

Our numbers report a slightly larger fraction of Apache servers compared to the Netcraft web server survey. Our analysis is based on crawl information and only root URLs were examined, therefore hosts that did not present a root URL (e.g. /index.htm) were not included in the statistics. This may have contributed to the disparity with the Netcraft numbers.

Amongst Apache servers, about 35% did not report any version information. Presumably the lack of version information is considered to be a defense against version specific attacks and worms. We observed a long tail of Apache server versions; the top three detected were 1.3.37 (15%), 1.3.33 (7.91%), and 2.0.54 (6.25%).

Amongst Microsoft servers, IIS 6.0 is by far the most popular version, making up about 80% of all IIS servers. IIS 5.0 made up most of the remainder.

Web server software across servers distributing malware.

We examined about 70,000 domains that over the past month have been either distributing malware or have been responsible for hosting browser exploits leading to drive-by-downloads. The breakdown by server software is depicted below. It is important to note that while many servers serve malware as a result of a server compromise (by remote exploits, password theft via keyloggers, etc.), some servers are configured to serve up exploits by their administrators.

Web server software distribution across malicious servers.

Compared to our sample of servers across the Internet, Microsoft IIS features twice as often (49% vs. 23%) as a malware distributing server. Amongst Microsoft IIS servers, the share of IIS 6.0 and IIS 5.0 remained the same at 80% and 20% respectively.

The distribution of top featured Apache server versions was different this time: 1.3.37 (50%), 1.3.34 (12%) and 1.3.33 (5%). 21% of the Apache servers did not report any version information. Incidentally, version 1.3.37 is the latest Apache server release in the 1.3 series, and it is hence somewhat of a surprise that this version features so prominently. One other factor we observe is a vast collection of Apache modules in use.

Distribution of web server software by country.

Web server distribution by country

Malicious web server distribution by country

The figure on the left shows the distribution of all Apache, IIS, and nginx webservers by country. Apache has the largest share, even though there is noticeable variation between countries. The figure on the right shows the distribution, by country, of webserver software of servers either distributing malware or hosting browser exploits. It is very interesting to see that in China and South Korea, a malicious server is much more likely to be running IIS than Apache.

We suspect that the causes for IIS featuring more prominently in these countries could be due to a combination of factors: first, automatic updates have not been enabled due to software piracy (piracy statistics from NationMaster, and BSA), and second, some security patches are not available for pirated copies of Microsoft operating systems. For instance the patch for a commonly seen ADODB.Stream exploit is not available to pirated copies of Windows operating systems.

Overall, we see a mix of results. In Germany, for instance, Apache is more likely to be serving malware than Microsoft IIS, compared to the overall distributions of these servers. In Asia, we see the reverse, which is part of the cause of Microsoft IIS having a disproportionately high representation at 49% of malware servers. In summary, our analysis demonstrates how important it is to keep web servers patched to the latest patch level.


Monday, June 4, 2007

Checkout E-commerce Success Story

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Checkout E-commerce Success Story

We often mention Google Checkout and the integration with Google Analytics because Checkout is an excellent way for e-commerce merchants to optimize their conversion process for their customers and for their business. But how does having the Checkout button on your site and in your shopping cart checkout process actually help you? Why use Checkout?

Now there is an informative success story about using Google Checkout. Ritz Interactive is a successful e-commerce business that specializes in online camera sales. The checkout process is key to their business, and Google Checkout helps them in three ways: 1. by offering low processing fees which directly benefit Ritz Interactive's bottom line; 2. by offering incentives and money-saving promotions that directly benefit their customers, and 3. by offering a highly credible and secure e-commerce processing option from Google for buyers.

We hope you find Ritz Interactive's story informative, and click here to learn more Google Checkout.