Friday, July 27, 2007

Weekly Google Code Roundup for July 23-27th

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Google Code - Updates: Weekly Google Code Roundup for July 23-27th



It has been a busy time for conferences. From MashupCamp last week, to OSCON and The Ajax Experience this week. While some of the teams have been talking to developers at these events, others have been producing new APIs for you all to use.

In API and developer-product news...

A new API was added to the AJAX Search API, Image Search.

Paul MacDonald blogged about the new features in the Google Mashup Editor, including sorting, compact paging, the new select control, and more. He also discussed various GME developer resources.

We have released a new tool that we have been playing with, the Google Singleton Detector, as open source. Its job is to find singletons and global state in the Java code that we produce.

While working on the Zvents mapplet, Michael Geary developed a nifty utility function called GAsync(). This lets you make several requests in a single call. Mike has kindly donated this function to the Mapplets API so that everyone can use it.

In other Map news, the Maps API team created utility functions to give you more information about your lines and shapes: GPolyline.getLength, GPolyline.getBounds, GPolygon.getArea, and GPolygon.getBounds.

You can also test your driving directions skills using the new directions API.

Around Google

Robots Exclusion Protocol: now with even more flexibility: Dan Crow explains X-Robots-Tag HTTP headers.

Computer science resources for academics: At the main Google campus this week we're hosting the Google Faculty Summit, which involves universities all over participating in discussions about what we're up to in research-land as well as computer science education - something very near and dear to us.

The newest Google Earth Enterprise: Today, we're pleased to announce the newest version of Google Earth Enterprise. The enterprise solution brings us into close contact with some of the most advanced users of geospatial tools, and by meeting their needs, it helps make the product better for everyone. And enterprise users are some of the most active in using the products and also making contributions to the Google Earth and Maps user community, with data, blogs and mashups.

Featured Projects

The BBC Flood Tracking mapplet is a fantastic example of citizen journalism. This map includes UK flood alert information, emergency center locations, photos submitted by local residents, user-generated YouTube videos, and audio clips by BBC Radio correspondents.

Jookebox is a music mashup that pulls in data from iTunes and Amazon to give you a comprehensive view of what's happening on the music scene.

Google Tech Talks

Inbox Zero is a fantastic talk by Merlin Mann, a well known productivity guru and creator of the popular 43 folders website. Merlin talks about Getting Things Done, the importance of getting your inbox to zero, and strategies for dealing with high volume email.

Erlang is celebrating its 20th birthday this year, and is grabbing developers interest due to its concurrency model. This talk will cover the history of Erlang, demonstrate major design goals with a few programming examples and also touch on the subject of the future of Erlang.

Erlang also has the best movie made about it: Erlang the movie. A real classic.

The Google Test Automation Conference showcases lightning talks by Harry Robinson, Dan North, Steve Freeman, Nat Pryce, Christine Newman, Andrin von Rechenberg, Ade Oshineye, Timur Hairullin, James Richardson, James Lyndsay, Jordan Dea-Mattson, Curtis "Ovid" Poe.

Launchd: One Program to Rule them All: In this talk, Dave, who developed launchd, will discuss the rationale behind launchd and how the program came to be.

URL: http://google-code-updates.blogspot.com/2007/07/weekly-google-code-roundup-for-july-23.html

Are you ready to go back to school?

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Are you ready to go back to school?

As students across the country get ready to head back to the classroom, we'd like to invite you to do a little learning, too. Check out the Google AdWords Learning Center for free access to a variety of text-based and multimedia "how-to" lessons to help you with your campaigns.

Whether you're optimizing a campaign to appeal to back-to-school shoppers or looking for easy ways to track your campaign's performance this fall, the Learning Center offers all the information you need to improve your ads and brush up on your AdWords knowledge. And to really get yourself in the back-to-school spirit, take the quiz at the end of each lesson!


URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2007/07/are-you-ready-to-go-back-to-school.html

Which AdWords optimization tips do you want to read about?

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Which AdWords optimization tips do you want to read about?

Over the past several months, we had featured a series of posts on AdWords optimization tips, advice from a specialist from the Optimization team. While we wanted to stick to general topics and common issues that advertisers commonly face in that series, we think it's now time to explore specific issues in depth. So whether you're having trouble selecting the right keywords for your online cat toys store or want help creating more effective ad text for your dog walking service, we want to hear about your specific questions and concerns. Your questions will help us determine the topics to cover in our next series of optimization tips -- so, please email us at inside-adwords@google.com to let us know what topics you want to read about.

And no, you don't have to be in the pet business to email us. :)

URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2007/07/which-adwords-optimization-tips-do-you.html

Google Analytics Artistes

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Google Analytics Artistes

We have not yet established a certification for reaching the master level of Google Analytics, but ROI Revolution, a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant, is definitely the equivalent, and they want to pass on some actionable wisdom with a six-week online Google Analytics training course which launches on Aug 9, 2007 at 1:30 pm EST. We think Google Analytics is easy to use and set up, but if you're like us, sometimes you want to walk through a new process with an intelligent teacher to quickly become an expert. Also, there are some tips and techniques they use that we haven't even documented in the help center, such as these incredibly cool filters which populate your e-commerce transaction reports with the referring source and keyword that brought the buyer. This links a specific transaction with a specific keyword. Advanced stuff, and beautiful.

And consider this a huge plug for all our Authorized Consultants - if you aren't aware of them, you don't know what you're missing. These guys affordably work in concert with clients to find high impact insights about users and sites. We've seen them modify the Google Analytics javascript to integrate it with in-house lead tracking software or automatically track outbound clicks (more on this in a future post, Mr. Jacka). However, if you're simply having issues with implementation or analysis - or just have some general support questions and would like to talk to someone on the phone - you can also give them a call. They'll give you a reasonable hourly quote, and you'll be more knowledgeable for it. Isn't that the whole point?

Find one near you here.

URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2007/07/google-analytics-artistes.html

Darfur video blog map

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Google LatLong: Darfur video blog map



StopGenocideNow is a grassroots volunteer organization that is working to halt the ongoing genocide in Darfur. Three of my friends from StopGenocideNow have been visiting refugee camps along the Chad-Darfur border, and we've put together a video blog map to help put names and faces to the people who have been affected by what the United Nations has described as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. You can also learn more about what's going on in Sudan by checking out the Crisis in Darfur layer in Google Earth or by visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's page on Darfur.

By the way, StopGenocideNow also posed a question during the recent CNN/YouTube Democratic debate, asking the candidates what they would do to stop the genocide in Darfur. You can see the candidates' responses too.

URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2007/07/darfur-video-blog-map.html

Gmail-ganization

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Gmail-ganization

You can find labels on the left side of the Gmail window. Labels let you group together emails any way you choose. They also provide an added benefit called multiple inclusion. And that means you can associate a single message with as many labels as you want.

So how does this help you? Let's say you get lots of mail about Xena (you know, the Warrior Princess), and you also get lots of mail from friends. In most mail applications, you could put all messages about Xena in a "Xena" folder and all mail from friends in a "Friends" folder. But when a friend sends you a note about Xena -- well, you could make "Xena" a subfolder of "Friends," which doesn't totally make sense. You could make "Friends" a subfolder of "Xena?" Or maybe make a copy of the mail and put it into both? Sure, if you want to keep track of both, take up twice the space, and forget to delete one if you ever delete the other. Blah!

Now let's say you have Gmail labels. If you get a Xena mail from a friend, just apply the label "Xena" and the label "Friends". Now you can find it in "Xena," you can find it in "Friends" -- and you only have to keep track of one thing.

If you don't get the Xena thing, replace "Xena" with "Buffy". If you still don't get it, replace it with "Britney" or, if all else fails, replace it with "Work." And there you have it.

URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/gmail-ganization.html

Boston Globe: spectrum plan "good for consumers"

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Boston Globe: spectrum plan "good for consumers"



The Boston Globe editorial board weighs in today on the spectrum reform debate, saying that "opening up wider access to a significant part of spectrum could jump-start wireless service in the United States -- for broadband, telephone, and who knows what else," and that "the FCC needs to adjust the auction rules so that this space becomes a competitive Internet marketplace." The Globe also writes that:

The Google plan would also be good for consumers. It would encourage the development of a national wireless system, providing competition to keep the cost down in communities now served by wired broadband and improving access in underserved areas, such as the Berkshires, that are too sparsely populated to justify private investment now.

The Globe is the only newspaper to weigh in on the spectrum debate. Earlier this month, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times also said that our proposal could help stimulate competition and bring the "broadest public benefit from these valuable public airwaves."

URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2007/07/boston-globe-spectrum-plan-good-for.html

Now there's Google Finance for Canada-update

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Now there's Google Finance for Canada-update



Oops. We hit the button too soon. Watch for news about Google Finance in Canada next Tuesday.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/now-theres-google-finance-for-canada.html

A world built by its inhabitants

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Google LatLong: A world built by its inhabitants



The Google Earth Community (aka BBS) is a geographical repository created by over 850,000 local experts who are as diverse and interesting as the places they post about. Being a member requires no mapping training, just the desire to explore. It's the urge to discover and communicate with others that makes the Google Earth Community such a valuable resource, and its ability to influence people's geographical awareness encourages these everyday users to create innovative and fascinating stories of our planet.

The "Biography of Neil Armstrong" is a prime example of the way people tell those stories. Their annotations of the planet demonstrate that part of geographically organizing the world's information involves not only collecting the best mapping data sets, but also providing a geographical context for the information displayed.

Thousands of placemarks created by users form a significant part of Google Earth's layers. These represent different languages, opinions, and cultural backgrounds that all come together in an integrated "geo-browser." You can view them by turning on the "Google Earth Community" layer and "Geographic Web."



The Google Earth Community has a wide diversity of people that interact with each other daily. While some have a background in GIS, many do not -- and they are not what you would think of as "typical GIS users." For example, a French artist used Google Earth to display her works of art. She made the point to me that, while she may not have the professional reputation of some other artists yet, her ability to create a Google Earth file and show it on the community has boosted awareness of her work. And any description of the Google Earth Community is incomplete without mentioning the dedicated team of moderators who monitor posts, assist members and create a welcoming atmosphere for the inhabitants to construct.

The ability to share discoveries is part of indulging our natural curiosity. Last year, a user called 'earthling_andre' noticed what appeared to be a burning ship off the coast of Iceland. With the desire to know stimulated, members shared their research and opinions. By a stroke of luck, one member was able to help significantly. Why? Because he was the captain of the rescue vessel.

Aircraft in Flight (Aircraft that have been captured in flight by the imaging satellites and aerial photograph providers) is another great source of discovery. Every day, hundreds of planes captured in flight are found, posted, and collected. My favourite is this one of a C-5 Galaxy being refuelled by a KC-135 Stratotanker.



The BBS also acts as a portal for scientists, organizations, and developers to share their current work. Examples include the palaeogeology of Earth, the effects of Gas Drilling and for a bit of fun, we have bouncing globes and rocket racers.

And the Google Earth Community is just a small part of a much broader "Geographical Community." Anyone with Google Earth can annotate, inform, and shape the world by creating and posting a KML / KMZ (the file format used in Google Earth) to any website. With features such as Geo Search now available, great content can be indexed and searched no matter where it resides.

URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2007/07/world-built-by-its-inhabitants.html

More online ad acquisitions = more competition

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More online ad acquisitions = more competition



It's been a little over three months since Google announced our plans to acquire DoubleClick. We've blogged about our reasons for making the acquisition, and the deal has certainly made news. But less attention has been paid to what's been happening in the broader online advertising world since the deal was first announced: namely, a series of almost back-to-back acquisitions that demonstrates how many choices advertisers, website publishers, and consumers really have. Consider that after we announced the DoubleClick acquisition on April 13:

  • On April 30, Yahoo announced its intent to acquire Right Media, an online advertising exchange, for $680 million.

  • On May 16, AOL announced its plans to acquire ADTECH AG, an online ad-serving company, for an undisclosed amount.

  • On May 17, WPP Group announced its planned acquisition of online advertising company 24/7 Real Media for $649 million.

  • On May 18, Microsoft announced its planned acquisition of aQuantive, an online advertising firm, for $6 billion.

And just this week, two more announcements highlighted the tremendous activity in this space:

  • On July 24, AOL announced its acquisition of TACODA, an online behavioral targeting advertising network, for an undisclosed amount.

  • Finally, yesterday Microsoft announced that it has agreed to acquire online advertising exchange AdECN Inc. for an undisclosed amount.

What does all this mean? It means that each of the leading Internet companies believe that they can position themselves to succeed in the online advertising space -- through the free market, and without government intervention. These companies believe that there are many ways to compete in this business.

Google, Microsoft, AOL, Yahoo, and others are developing different combinations of capabilities in an effort to provide the most compelling offering to advertisers, publishers, and customers. For example, Microsoft's purchase of aQuantive will eventually result in it owning an ad serving business that competes with DoubleClick, and will also make Microsoft one of the largest interactive advertising agencies in the U.S. In DoubleClick, Google is acquiring a technology that delivers and measures the performance of display ads – a technology that is critical if we are to compete in display advertising.

Beyond the different approaches that companies are taking, more capital infusion into the online ad business also means that more entrepreneurs will enter it, too. In fact, we have noticed that several startups in the online advertising space have received venture funding since April. More entrepreneurs, more market participants, and more capital are combining to create more competition and innovation.

Brian McAndrews, the President and CEO of aQuantive (which, as noted above, has been purchased by Microsoft) recently said about online advertising: "We're in the first or second inning of a long game here. There's no monopoly on innovation. I don't think you're going to see two or three big players and then game over. There will continue to be a broad range of companies." We couldn't agree more.

In fact, we think that these acquisitions signal a new phase in online advertising, in which barriers between technology providers and advertising agencies are beginning to fall. These market dynamics will ultimately benefit consumers who will see more relevant and useful ads, and provide advertisers and publishers with more choices. And these are exactly the kind of competitive and innovation-driven market conditions that policy makers should be encouraging in our economy.

URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2007/07/more-online-ad-acquisitions-more.html

Robots Exclusion Protocol: now with even more flexibility

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Robots Exclusion Protocol: now with even more flexibility



This is the third and last in my series of blog posts about the Robots Exclusion Protocol (REP). In the first post, I introduced robots.txt and the robots META tags, giving an overview of when to use them. In the second post, I shared some examples of what you can do with the REP. Today, I'll introduce two new features that we have recently added to the protocol.

As a product manager, I'm always talking to content providers to learn about your needs for REP. We are constantly looking for ways to improve the control you have over how your content is indexed. These new features will give you flexible and convenient ways to improve the detailed control you have with Google.

Tell us if a page is going to expire
Sometimes you know in advance that a page is going to expire in the future. Maybe you have a temporary page that will be removed at the end of the month. Perhaps some pages are available free for a week, but after that you put them into an archive that users pay to access. In these cases, you want the page to show in Google search results until it expires, then have it removed: you don't want users getting frustrated when they find a page in the results but can't access it on your site.

We have introduced a new META tag that allows you to tell us when a page should be removed from the main Google web search results: the aptly named unavailable_after tag. This one follows a similar syntax to other REP META tags. For example, to specify that an HTML page should be removed from the search results after 3pm Eastern Standard Time on 25th August 2007, simply add the following tag to the first section of the page:

<META NAME="GOOGLEBOT" CONTENT="unavailable_after: 25-Aug-2007 15:00:00 EST">

The date and time is specified in the RFC 850 format.

This information is treated as a removal request: it will take about a day after the removal date passes for the page to disappear from the search results. We currently only support unavailable_after for Google web search results.

After the removal, the page stops showing in Google search results but it is not removed from our system. If you need a page to be excised from our systems completely, including any internal copies we might have, you should use the existing URL removal tool which you can read about on our Webmaster Central blog.

Meta tags everywhere
The REP META tags give you useful control over how each webpage on your site is indexed. But it only works for HTML pages. How can you control access to other types of documents, such as Adobe PDF files, video and audio files and other types? Well, now the same flexibility for specifying per-URL tags is available for all other files type.

We've extended our support for META tags so they can now be associated with any file. Simply add any supported META tag to a new X-Robots-Tag directive in the HTTP Header used to serve the file. Here are some illustrative examples:
  • Don't display a cache link or snippet for this item in the Google search results:
X-Robots-Tag: noarchive, nosnippet
  • Don't include this document in the Google search results:
X-Robots-Tag: noindex
  • Tell us that a document will be unavailable after 7th July 2007, 4:30pm GMT:
X-Robots-Tag: unavailable_after: 7 Jul 2007 16:30:00 GMT

You can combine multiple directives in the same document. For example:
  • Do not show a cached link for this document, and remove it from the index after 23rd July 2007, 3pm PST:
X-Robots-Tag: noarchive
X-Robots-Tag: unavailable_after: 23 Jul 2007 15:00:00 PST


Our goal for these features is to provide more flexibility for indexing and inclusion in Google's search results. We hope you enjoy using them.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/robots-exclusion-protocol-now-with-even.html

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Eric Schmidt's summer of public policy

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Eric Schmidt's summer of public policy



You (or at least the engineers among you) may have heard about Google's Summer of Code. Based on our CEO's recent schedule, this is looking more and more like Eric Schmidt's Summer of Public Policy.

As more and more public policy issues affect Google and our users, Eric and many of our other senior executives have made an effort to meet more often with policymakers in Washington and around the country to talk about the future of the Internet -- and the individuals it empowers. Loyal blog readers may recall that YouTube's Chad Hurley was here to testify on online video in May and our people operations VP Laszlo Bock testified on immigration in June.

Last weekend, Eric was in Traverse City, Michigan speaking to the annual conference of the National Governors Association. As reported by the Traverse City Record-Eagle, Eric told the governors that "education must evolve to teach students how to research and access information instead of memorizing facts," and lamented that the tremendous teaching resources on the Internet are not being fully used to teach students. Check out the full video of Eric's NGA talk:



On Monday, Eric joined YouTube's Chad Hurley and Steve Chen in Charleston, South Carolina for the first CNN/YouTube presidential debate (which, by the way, was the second most-watched presidential debate so far...in no small part to the revolutionary voter-generated format). Today, Eric showed up on Capitol Hill to meet with a number of Senators and House members, discussing health care, patent reform, immigration, privacy and consumer issues. And next month, Eric will be among the tech policy wonks gathering at the Progress and Freedom Foundation's annual Aspen Summit, where we expect our recent advocacy for spectrum reform will be a big topic of discussion.

URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2007/07/eric-schmidts-summer-of-public-policy.html

Computer science resources for academics

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Computer science resources for academics



Google has a long history of involvement with universities, and we're excited to share some recent news on that front with you. At the main Google campus this week we're hosting the Google Faculty Summit, which involves universities all over participating in discussions about what we're up to in research-land as well as computer science education - something very near and dear to us.

Meanwhile, because we know that between teaching, doing research and advising students, computer science educators are quite strapped for time, we've recently launched a site called Google Code for Educators. While you may have previously heard about our offerings for K-12 teachers, this new program is focused on CS topics at the university level, and lets us share the knowledge we've built up around things like distributed systems and AJAX programming. It's designed for university faculty to learn about new computer science topics and include them in their courses, as well as to help curious students learn on their own.

Right now, Google Code for Educators offers materials for AJAX web programming, distributed systems and parallel programming, and web security. The site includes slides, programming labs, problem sets, background tutorials and videos. We're eager to provide more content areas and also more iterations for existing topic areas. To allow for liberal reuse and remixing, most sample course content on Code EDU is available under a Creative Commons license. Please let us know your thoughts on this new site.

Beyond CS education, another important faculty topic is research. Google Research offers resources to CS researchers,including papers authored by Googlers and a wide variety of our tech talks. You might be interested in learning more about MapReduce and the Google File System, two pieces of Google-grown technology that have allowed us to operate at enormous scale. We also recently put together a few university research programs and we're eager to see what academics come up with.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/computer-science-resources-for.html

What Eric Schmidt did this summer

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What Eric Schmidt did this summer



In case you're thinking summer is the time to slow down, that's not always true around here. Our CEO has been on the go on behalf of a number of our public policy initiatives. And our Public Policy blog has been keeping up with him.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/what-eric-schmidt-did-this-summer.html

Where in the world is...

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Google LatLong: Where in the world is...



I'm happy to announce that we've published new imagery and terrain for Google Earth. Discovering what's been updated is a fun challenge that our community of users has traditionally been able solve with amazing efficiency. I don't want to spoil anyone's fun, but how about a few hints?
  • Two states known for their majestic peaks have gotten an upgrade.
  • I can now see where my favorite maple syrup is made.
  • Certain Florida beaches (and 1 mountain) are looking much improved.
  • Try counting the warthogs in the Boneyard.
  • Peek inside the home of the Brew Crew.
  • You can read the Skin's logo painted on their field.
  • An historic state capitol building is now in high res.
  • This city was named after the Native American name of a nearby mountain, "Tacobet."
  • A "far away" city that played a key role in trans-Saharan trade can now be seen close up.
  • The town where Jane Austen spent her final years is much clearer.
  • The topic of Vincent van Gogh's Cafe Terrace at Night is now bright as day.
  • Take a look at "la ville noir," where Cointreau was invented.
  • Only a third of this country's land is arable, but you can now view the entire country in high res.
  • From 1880 to 1884 this German city was home to the world's tallest building.
  • Rockets may be used to disrupt rain clouds over this city next summer.
  • This country received an impressive terrain update, you might call it Lord of the Terrain.
I think those are enough hints to get the great hunt going, but don't limit yourself to the areas I hinted at... there are many more updates throughout North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Have fun! We'll be posting answers and a complete list of updates in the coming days.

URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2007/07/where-in-world-is.html

Earth to the Enterprise

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Earth to the Enterprise



With more than 200 million downloads and counting, Google Earth is known around the world. Less well-known is our Google Earth Enterprise which companies, organizations and government agencies use to view their global data and imagery. Experts and amateurs alike use it for everything from designing new buildings to exploring for energy to responding to emergencies, because Google Earth Enterprise offers access to geospatial info that was once limited to specialty applications.

For instance, check out Dell's implementation showing a geographic view of traffic to Dell.com:



Today, we're releasing the latest version, which makes it easy to publish and view Google Earth datasets in 2D using a browser. By accessing Google Earth Enterprise from a web browser, employees across an organization will benefit from the rich geographic tapestry. There's more detail on the Google Lat/Long blog.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/earth-to-enterprise.html

[G] Golfballs.com scores with Google Product Search

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Official Google Checkout Blog: Golfballs.com scores with Google Product Search



You might remember the post we did a while ago about Google Product Search. One of our merchants, Golfballs.com, has started to use Google Product Search in addition to Google Checkout. Here's what they had to say about their experience...

"At Golfballs.com, we're always looking for ways to improve and optimize our marketing dollars. Recently, we found that one of the most effective ways to reach our goal ROI is to use Google Product Search.

In Google's natural search results, we rank well for general golf keywords, but we have a difficult time ranking as high for the majority of our brand products. By using Google Product Search, we've been able to increase traffic from search result pages simply by providing a data feed of products to Google. The feed gives Google more information about our inventory and that translates into more relevant placement on search result pages. In addition, Google Checkout helps make it even easier for consumers to find us when they search for items like Titleist Pro V1 Golf Balls by displaying the Google Checkout badge next to our search results. Ultimately Golfballs.com has seen an increase in revenue through the combined efforts of Google Product Search and Google Checkout."
- Brandon Hartness, Golfballs.com Director of eCommerce

URL: http://googlecheckout.blogspot.com/2007/07/golfballscom-scores-with-google-product.html

The newest Google Earth Enterprise

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Google LatLong: The newest Google Earth Enterprise



Today, we're pleased to announce the newest version of Google Earth Enterprise. The enterprise solution brings us into close contact with some of the most advanced users of geospatial tools, and by meeting their needs, it helps make the product better for everyone. And enterprise users are some of the most active in using the products and also making contributions to the Google Earth and Maps user community, with data, blogs and mashups.

So with a goal of extending the benefits of our geo products to organizations, this release takes a big step toward embracing a broader range of users inside organizations. It provides custom database support with Google Maps-style 2D views as well as a traditional 3D view. And it seamlessly marries Google's hosted geo services with the ability to publish custom databases behind the firewall so users can enjoy the best of both worlds. And there's more -- some additional enhancements in this release include:
  • Browser integration with the Google Maps API AJAX architecture, allowing 2D map views to be embedded in any web-based application, so everyone in an organization benefits from the power of Google Earth Enterprise.
  • Performance enhancements amounting to as much as a 10x speedup for vector data processing and better than 2x reduction in server computation for responding to imagery requests.
  • New search framework for integrating geocoding and other search services via Java plug-ins including a Google Search Appliance reference implementation.
  • Regionator for creating Super-Overlays with Regions based KML and publishing them for viewing in any Google Earth client version (Free, Plus or Pro).
  • Security improvements and extended Operating System support including Red Hat Enterprise Server 4 and SUSE Linux 9 and 10.
Also, many of our long-time users may welcome the many interface improvements to streamline data processing steps and make it faster and easier to create customized Google Earth (plus now Maps!) databases. Here's a view of the 'plex from the same custom database - in 3D Google Earth (top) and 2D browser (bottom):







For all these reasons, we say go forth and publish ever more geodata!

URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2007/07/newest-google-earth-enterprise.html

Getting your forum site to perform well with AdSense

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Getting your forum site to perform well with AdSense

When Amit Kumar co-founded MegaGames Forum in 1998, Google Inc. was being run from a Menlo Park garage and AdSense didn't even exist yet. Fast-forward 9 years to 2007: Amit still runs MegaGames Forum just as a hobby, but he earns enough revenue through the AdSense program to run a dedicated server and continue growing his site.

Amit wasn't so successful with AdSense right from the start. When he first started using the program in 2005, his earnings were nothing to write home about, and it was largely because he chose his ad placement, formats, and colors at random. After recently optimizing his ads, however, Amit was able to more than double his AdSense revenue and even improve the user experience on his site. Results may vary since every site is unique, but here are some tips that any forum site, large or small, can also try out to increase revenue.


  1. The welcome box ad
    Many forums have a message above the fold on their pages welcoming users to the site and encouraging them to register. Placing a large (336x280) or medium (300x250) rectangle next to this message catches users' attention right when they walk through the door (so to speak). By the way, these are our best performing ad units, and may also increase the number of site-targeted ads on your pages.

  2. The forum post ad

    Based on previous testing, integrating ad units into your page content can improve clickthrough rate (CTR). It also provides a better online experience, since your users see relevant ads side by side with normal content. In forums, the highest visibility content is often the first post, so it makes sense to place the ads here. Again, large and medium rectangles are your best bet!

  3. Blending colors and breaking down borders

    Colors are important for making an ad visible to the user, but they should still blend with the design of the site. Removing the borders on your ads helps even more with this concept of blending. Don't worry -- even with a well-blended implementation, the 'Ads by Google' label keeps your users from confusing ads with content.
Bonus tip: Improve ad relevance with section targeting

With forums, the first post often contains the most relevant content on the page. By using the section targeting feature to emphasize this content, you can potentially increase CTR with better targeted ads. Visit this 'section targeting' link we mention for instructions.

If you decide to try out these tips, we'd love to hear about your success.

URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2007/07/getting-your-forum-site-to-perform-well.html

[G] drugstore.com joins the Google Checkout family

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Official Google Checkout Blog: drugstore.com joins the Google Checkout family



Thousands of stores across the web already accept Google Checkout, and our Checkout family continues to grow. Starting this week, you can shop at drugstore.com (and Beauty.com) with Checkout too. You can buy everyday essentials like sunscreen, vitamins, hair treatments, and over-the-counter medication anytime with the added bonus of free shipping on any order over $49 or more. A Checkout welcome to both sites!

URL: http://googlecheckout.blogspot.com/2007/07/drugstorecom-joins-google-checkout.html

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The News Discussion Help Group

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Google News Blog: The News Discussion Help Group



Got a question about Google News, or are you curious about how to start personalizing your News page to get the stories you care most about? It doesn't matter if you're an avid user or a life-long publisher - we have the place for you. The Google News Discussion Group takes questions of all shapes and sizes. With so many readers out there, it only makes sense to have a home for helping one another use Google News better.

The Group is also a way for us to step in and help you when others can't, as well as a great way for us to hear about the new features you all are asking for. Don't understand a new feature? Want to ask for a different one? The Group is the place to do it.

Some of you may have already recognized me as the Google News Guide in the group. Though I'll be heading off to law school soon, I want to introduce the new guide in town: Let's make Marcela feel welcome. And if you haven't already joined, what are you doing right now?

In short, whether you want to know why Hindi appears to be spelled incorrectly on the homepage, or how to use our first-click free option as a publisher, do come visit.

URL: http://googlenewsblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/news-discussion-help-group.html

Notice of Brief Processing Delay

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Notice of Brief Processing Delay

Today there will be a brief processing delay. It is expected to last a few hours. You can still login and view your reports. Please be assured that your data continues to be collected and that no data will be lost. We expect everything to be updated shortly. Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience.

URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2007/07/notice-of-brief-processing-delay.html

Like making videos? Love Gmail?

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Like making videos? Love Gmail?



A couple weeks back, some of us on the Gmail team were talking about how simple it's become to connect with people around the world through email. And we got to thinking: what if email was delivered via a Rube Goldberg machine, but instead of gears and levers, people on everything from bicycles to submarines brought messages from one place to another? So we had a little fun with a collaborative video depicting just that (well, not the submarines).

Now it's time to let everyone in on the action. Learn more at our new Gmail Blog, or go directly to http://mail.google.com/mvideo where you'll find directions on how to submit your clip.



URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/like-making-videos-love-gmail.html

Drum Roll... The winners of the 2007 Google-O'Reilly Open Source Awards are...

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Google Code - Updates: Drum Roll... The winners of the 2007 Google-O'Reilly Open Source Awards are...



Last night, July 24, at the Open Source Conference in Portland the winners of the coveted Google-O'Reilly Open Source Award were announced.

Following in the footsteps of past key contributors and open source visionaries, the five winners for 2007 are :

Karl Fogel - Best Community Builder
There's a common saying that open source isn't so much about the code itself, but about the communities that thrive around it. And Karl has become an oracle when it comes to the management of open source communities. As the founder and leader of the Subversion project, the harmony within the Subversion community has been attributed to Karl, because of his consistent leadership and maintenance of the culture-of-respect. This and his transfer of wisdom on community management into a book ("Producing Open Source Software", O'Reilly Media, also at producingoss.com) makes Karl our 2007 Best Community Builder.

Pamela Jones - Best FUD Fighter
When the SCO drama was being played out, one website became the place to get your knowledge. Pamela, or PJ, as she is known, leads research and reporting of legal events important to the FOSS community. Through her tremendous work, Groklaw continues to be the place to get our regular dose of legal insight and analysis.

Aaron Leventhal - Best Accessibility Architect
Aaron Leventhal is a long-time supporter of accessibility efforts. Earlier in his career he worked on a Braille publishing system used by teachers, publishers and individual Braille readers. He later joined Netscape as accessibility architect for Mozilla development, and has been involved with the Mozilla project almost since its beginnings. Aaron has single-handedly succeeded in turning Firefox from being an also-ran in web accessibility to being the preferred accessibility solution going forward.

David Recordon - Best Strategist
OpenID has gone from hack to Internet staple in an incredibly short period of time. Dave Recordon has turned OpenID into a viable alternative to non-open identity systems. He has taken on many organizations and made real headway towards pushing Identity into the open source space. This guy knows challenging, and he's met and conquered every challenge. For that reason David is this year's Best Strategist for his work on OpenID. All this, and he's not yet old enough to buy alcohol in the US.

Paul Vixie - Outstanding Lifetime Contributions
For decades Paul been one of the key players in the Domain Name System. He wrote and still maintains BIND, the nameserver most of the Internet uses. He's co-founded MAPS, a non-profit that fights spam. He's the operator of the F root server and he also holds the record for the most CERT security advisories. For his many contributions significant to the existence of the Internet, the "Outstanding Lifetime Contributions" winner is Paul Vixie.

Check here for OSCON pictures and blog posts from OSCON and the Open Source Awards event.

We would like to thank The Google and O'Reilly Open Source Awards Committee members and especially to each of you who participated in our first open nomination process for this award.

Until next year, please join us in congratulating each of our worthy winners for 2007.

URL: http://google-code-updates.blogspot.com/2007/07/drum-roll-winners-of-2007-google.html

BBC Interactive Flood Map

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Google LatLong: BBC Interactive Flood Map



The BBC has created an interactive flood map with information about the floods happening in Berkshire, UK. The map includes flood alert information, emergency center locations, photos submitted by local residents, user-generated YouTube videos, and audio clips by BBC Radio correspondents. This is a great example of citizen journalism plus professional journalism, all mashed up on a map. If you have photos, videos or information about the flood that you'd like to submit for inclusion into the BBC's map, please send it to them at berkshire.online@bbc.co.uk.

URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2007/07/bbc-interactive-flood-map.html

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Help make a Gmail video

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Help make a Gmail video



Do you have mad video-making skills? OK, how about just a video camera and a little bit of spare time to get creative? A few of us on the Gmail team came up with an idea to stitch together a bunch of video clips that all share one element: someone hands the Gmail M-velope in from the left of the screen, and hands it off to the right. Put them all together, and they form one long chain of hand-offs. We thought it would be fun to let everyone in on the action. Just go to http://mail.google.com/mvideo, where you'll find directions on how to submit your clip (including a PDF of the Gmail M-velope you can use in your video). We'll be accepting clips until August 13th. We'll then take a selection of the submitted clips and edit them together into one final video, which we'll release to the world on August 20th.

What does this have to do with email, you may ask? Well, you can see this as a symbol of how email connects people from all over, making the world feel a bit smaller. Or you could think of it as a metaphor for mail exchange servers, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), and all of the technical steps involved in getting a Gmail message around the world from one inbox to another. But, really, we just wanted to have a little fun. So give it a shot, and enjoy! Remember, clips are due before August 13th. :-)

URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/help-make-gmail-video.html

Hoş geldiniz and Witamy!

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Hoş geldiniz and Witamy!

We're pleased to announce that we now offer and support Google Analytics in two additional languages: Turkish and Polish. You can use Google Analytics, receive email support, get technical information from the Help Center, browse our website and learn marketing techniques from Conversion University in any of the 19 languages for which Google Analytics is available. Google Analytics Authorized Consultants provide advanced support and consulting services around the world in many of the Google Analytics languages. And if you simply want an introduction to Google Analytics, you can watch the subtitled Flash tour.

To update your language preference, sign in to your Google Analytics account and click the My Account link at the top of the Analytics Settings page. Select a language from the Language pulldown menu then click Save Changes. You will see that Google Analytics supports US English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Japanese, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, Russian, UK English, Polish and Turkish.

To all of our Turkish and Polish users: Hoş geldiniz and Witamy! Welcome!

URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2007/07/ho-geldiniz-and-witamy.html

Monday, July 23, 2007

Google Singleton Detector released

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Google Code - Updates: Google Singleton Detector released



We take testing very seriously at Google. You may have seen our testing blog and how we even test on the toilet.

We also like to create automated tools to make our lives easier and in the testing world this can mean having code to watch your back.

We have released a new tool that we have been playing with, the Google Singleton Detector, as open source. Its job is to find singletons and global state in the Java code that we produce. But wait, why would I care to find out where singletons may be in my code? In some cases they can make testing difficult and hide problems with your design. There's a bit more to it than that, so check out the FAQ for more info.

Do you maintain Java code and need to keep it nice and clean? Give the singleton detector a try!

Many thanks to David Rubel and the team for creating this, and working to get it out into the open source world.

URL: http://google-code-updates.blogspot.com/2007/07/google-singleton-detector-released.html

Calling all SketchUp fans

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Calling all SketchUp fans



It's my great pleasure to announce the launch of the Official Google SketchUp Blog. Fast-breaking news, tips and tricks, user stories and just the right amount of office intrigue await anyone who pays us a visit. Also, sexy mustache contests.

For those of you who have no idea what SketchUp is, I'll start at the beginning: The world is three-dimensional. Designing a house, building a piece of furniture and navigating through a city all involve three-dimensional decisions. SketchUp is 3D modeling software that anyone can use to build models of whatever they like.

Check out the 3D Warehouse to see models from people all over the world, and turn on the 3D Warehouse layer in Google Earth to explore cities with realistic 3D buildings made in SketchUp (Denver is particularly impressive). If you like, you can download the free version and start building models yourself.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/07/calling-all-sketchup-fans.html

CNN/YouTube Democratic debate tonight

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CNN/YouTube Democratic debate tonight



I'm down in Charleston today for the first CNN/YouTube presidential debate, featuring the Democratic candidates (the Republican candidates will debate in September). You've no doubt seen the promos on CNN, or maybe even submitted a question yourself, but be sure to check out the debate tonight at 7pm ET / 4pm PT. Here's a small flavor of some of the questions that have been submitted:

URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2007/07/cnnyoutube-democratic-debate-tonight.html

Can't log in using Firefox?

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Can't log in using Firefox?

We've recently noticed that many publishers are having trouble logging into their accounts after the latest Mozilla Firefox update. A number of publishers have reported that they're only seeing a sign-up page rather than a login form.

After a little digging and some testing, we've found that Adblock Plus, an add-on that sometimes gets installed with Firefox, can prevent you from accessing your account on the AdSense homepage. Our recommendation is to clear your cache and cookies and turn off the Adblock software before trying to log in at www.google.com/adsense. You may also wish to review our troubleshooting tips for login issues in our Help Center.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2007/07/cant-log-in-using-firefox.html

Image Search with the AJAX Search API

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Google Code - Updates: Image Search with the AJAX Search API



The Google AJAX Search API can be used to easily add Google Web, Local, Video, Blog, Book and News search to your website.

Today we've added yet another dimension to the API: support for Google Image Search. You can get started in no time, as the new functionality uses the same familiar search control model as the existing AJAX search controls. The search results can be displayed on your website, or mashed up to create a customized experience for your users.

Read more on the AJAX APIs blog, join the discussions in the developer forum or see an example to get started.

URL: http://google-code-updates.blogspot.com/2007/07/image-search-with-ajax-search-api.html

Restoring competitive balance to the upcoming spectrum auction

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Restoring competitive balance to the upcoming spectrum auction



In recent days, and especially following Eric Schmidt's July 20 letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, many people have asked us a straightforward question: why don't you just attempt to win the spectrum bidding outright, and then implement an open wholesaling business model yourself? Or, as AT&T has put it, "put up or shut up."

That question makes a lot of sense, especially for those most familiar with the ordinary marketplace structures they see on eBay, or Home Shopping Network, or at Target. In those everyday cases, the buyers and sellers collectively determine what is the fair market value for something, based on what willing participants on both sides agree should be the price. The free market is the optimal market.

But an FCC spectrum auction is a very different animal. Unlike in most commercial transactions, participants in an FCC auction operate in an artificially defined market. Initially, the spectrum comes sliced and diced in predetermined packages of varying bandwidth, geography, and duration. Those discrete slices tend to be compatible with what regulators perceive to be the prevailing services and technologies of the moment, such as centralized voice communications.

Further, given the sizable investments involved, only well-capitalized corporations can afford to bid at auctions. Ordinary citizens or entrepreneurs with novel ideas don't even show up. Even so, players still come to the table with unique assets, and in some cases disparate business models. For the upcoming 700 MHz auction in particular, the issue boils down to the different incentives at work between the existing national wireless carriers -- the incumbents -- and those companies seeking to enter the market for the first time -- potential new entrants.

As we have seriously considered entering the 700 MHz auction, we have been consulting with auction experts and game theorists to help us better understand the dynamics of a typical spectrum auction. What they have been telling us is that in a head-to-head bidding war between an incumbent wireless carrier and a potential new entrant, the incumbent almost invariably will prevail. Why? The answer involves two key economic factors: what we call the "incumbent blocking premium" and the "incumbent dilution discount."

Incumbent blocking premium

A significant economic factor that comes into play in an auction environment is the incentive and ability of one of the players to thwart the designs of the other. In the context of an FCC spectrum auction, there are at least three pertinent elements.

First, incumbent wireless carriers come to the auction with a vast array of existing assets, including thousands of radio towers, tens of thousands of miles of communications "backhaul" networks, and millions of customers, along with numerous retail outlets and tons of advertising. And perhaps most important of all, incumbents already own lots of spectrum -- much of which the FCC gave away for free some years ago, rather than sold at auction. By contrast, a true new entrant has none of these assets. Thus, to an incumbent, purchasing another wireless license is just an incremental investment, one made that much less costly given the existing, readily-available business inputs. To a new entrant, facing the daunting challenges of actually building and operating a network for the first time, the investment is less certain.

Second, the incumbent has the added benefit of operating in a less than fully competitive environment. Some use the term "monopoly rents" to describe the situation where a company enjoys revenues and profits that exceed what normally would be the case in a robustly competitive environment. Potential new entrants do not enjoy the same advantage.

Third, and perhaps most important, the incumbents have every incentive to preserve and protect their existing business model. Given their investment in all the necessary business inputs, and the relatively high prices and low bandwidth characteristics of their existing service offerings, the incumbents must prevent the entry of potential competitors to the market. In a spectrum auction, this means paying whatever it takes to block new entry. Not surprisingly, economists call this a "blocking premium."

As the diagram below shows, these three elements together mean that an incumbent will almost always be in a position to outbid a potential new entrant, simply by bidding above and beyond the fair market price. Unlike in a healthy auction situation, the final price would be higher than otherwise would be commercially reasonable.

Incumbent dilution discount

The second significant economic factor that comes into play in any auction environment is related to the number of players who actually show up to participate in the bidding. Again, in a normal commercial environment, market prices are shaped by the number of willing buyers, from just a few to potentially millions. However, an FCC spectrum auction presents a comparatively artificial scenario.

Given the existence of the incumbent blocking premium, as described above, it is often the case that there are no new potential entrants to bid against an incumbent. Why should a new player even bother to bid, or bid aggressively, if the incumbent inevitably will prevail? Where there may be only two incumbents -- or even one -- left to bid for a license, obviously the resulting price will not reflect the fair market value that otherwise would have been reached. The dilution of competitive bidders means the final price will be lower than otherwise would be the case. Recent studies have confirmed that this is a pervasive aspect of the FCC auction environment.

Un-skewing the spectrum auction

When looking at the combined impact of the incumbent blocking premium and the incumbent dilution discount, it's easy to see how FCC auction results become skewed.

Ironically enough, it is Google that has been accused of attempting to skew the auction structure, by our recommendation that the licenses be conditioned on certain "open platforms" requirements. Of course, as we have explained it is the current auction system that skews the results away from potential new entrants and in favor of existing incumbents.

Our position is simple enough. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and the other commissioners have argued persuasively that we need a real third pipe broadband competitor in this country. They also believe that the upcoming 700 MHz auction is the best way to get there. All we are saying is that, based on what we know, new broadband competition will emerge from the upcoming auction only if the FCC's rules allow it to happen. For Google, and other potential new entrants, the prevailing imbalance can be corrected most effectively by introducing license conditions based on open platforms.

While Google embraces the kinds of openness and innovation that are the hallmark of the Internet, the incumbents apparently prefer their existing business models. That of course is their prerogative. However, open platforms -- specifically, open applications, open devices, open wholesale services, and open network access -- together make the spectrum more valuable to Google, or any other potential bidder seeking to create innovative, higher-speed, lower-priced offerings.

That is why Google has indicated that it is willing to spend a minimum of $4.6 billion in the auction, which is the FCC's reserve price for the particular spectrum block in question. At the same time, incumbents are unable to leverage anti-competitive blocking in this scenario. Regardless of who wins the bidding, however, the end result is an auction that yields a fair market price, with the added bonus of a new broadband network that is open to all comers. The American people get full value for their spectrum, plus open broadband platforms -- and even the possibility of a real third pipe competitor. Not a bad deal overall.

If the FCC ultimately decides not to adopt open platforms conditions that "un-skew" the 700 MHz auction, we believe it is unlikely that robust new broadband competition will emerge. In that case, our country would have lost a golden opportunity. Nonetheless, we remain optimistic that the FCC will stand up for its stated public policy goals, and pave the way for a much brighter broadband future for all Americans.

URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2007/07/restoring-competitive-balance-to.html