Friday, August 31, 2007

Happy Labor Day!

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Inside AdWords: Happy Labor Day!

Those of us in the US and Canada are looking forward to a long Labor Day weekend. Whether Labor Day means intense retail therapy in the form of back-to-school sales or simply the end of wearing summer whites, we here at Inside AdWords will be taking a day off to rest in the true spirit of the holiday. We hope you'll find some time to do the same as well.



We'll be back next week!

URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2007/08/happy-labor-day.html

Top 10 little-known Gmail features (Part 1)

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Official Gmail Blog: Top 10 little-known Gmail features (Part 1)



Gmail has a bunch of lesser-known feature that can end up being very useful once you get to know them. I've put together a list of my top 10 favorite features that you may or may not be familiar with. Here are the first five; watch for the second batch sometime next week.

10. Custom "from"
Most people end up managing more than one email account -- some are personal, others might be for work or school. When I graduated from college, I wanted to keep my .edu address for alumni-related things, but made Gmail my primary personal address. My university made it easy to forward my .edu mail to my Gmail address, so I could read all my mail from my within my Gmail account. I was happy to find out that Gmail would actually let me send mail "as" my .edu address, so I could continue to keep that identity, while managing all my email from one place. Here's how to set that up.

9. Open attachments in Google Docs & Spreadsheets, or view as slideshow
If you are sending a Word document or Excel file as an attachment, Gmail lets you easily open it in Google Docs & Spreadsheets. (In case you're not familiar with Google Docs & Spreadsheets, it's our online word processor and spreadsheet application, which lets you store and access documents online and collaborate on them with anyone.) Since other people are working on many of the docs I receive as attachments collaboratively, it's really easy to just open them in Docs & Spreadsheets and create a single document to work from, rather than constantly sending versions of documents back and forth. If the attachment is a PowerPoint presentation, Gmail will recognize this and give you a link to"View as a slideshow." This will open a window with a Flash preview of the slides. This is great for quickly reviewing slides in the browser.



8. Gmail gadget for iGoogle
I use iGoogle to bring together a lot of the information I care about on the web (feeds, my Google Calendar, YouTube videos, etc). I use it as a dashboard at the start of my day to get an overview of what's going on in the world. I've added the Gmail gadget to my page to get a preview of my Inbox, which is great because it's one of the first things I'm interested in seeing.

7. Reply by chat

Most people know that you can chat with your contacts in Gmail if they're using Gmail too. But there are some subtle features that make chat particularly useful in the context of using your email, like replying by chat. If you've received an email and notice that the sender is online (by seeing the little green dot next to his or her name in the conversation), you can click the button "reply by chat." What's particularly convenient about this is that the chat will be archived as part of the email thread to which you replied. I like this most because it means when I search for anything related to that thread, I find the chat transcript alongside all the relevant email messages.



6. Gmail for mobile application
It wasn't that long ago that my cellphone could barely handle sending text messages. I didn't used to think of it as being an efficient place to access my email. That's changed -- big time. Email has become one of my primary forms of communication when on the go. Unfortunately, on a lot of phones, dealing with email can still be a pretty annoying experience, especially if you're not using a device like a PDA. Enter Gmail for mobile. It's fast, it syncs with your online account, and it gives you virtually all of the same Gmail functionality like search, filters, and access to your whole archive of mail.

Next week: another 5 for you.

URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/top-10-little-known-gmail-features-part.html

Speaking in more languages

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Official Google Blog: Speaking in more languages



Many Google products (Google.com, Blogger, Google Earth, and others) currently support more than 170 languages, from Abhazian to Zulu. Translations into most of these languages are done by volunteers from around the world who are eager to help people view and search the web in their own native language. To facilitate how we go about getting these languages, we created a volunteer translation program: Google In Your Language.

Anybody can sign up as a volunteer translator by visiting the Language Tools page and then clicking on the Google in Your Language link. After verification, you'll be offered a list of products to translate, including the main search site, Gmail, iGoogle, Google Maps, and many others

Although the amount of translation for each project is not overwhelming, it usually takes weeks for an individual volunteer to finish translating one site. Once a reasonable percentage of translations for Google pages in a given language is submitted, we'll add your language to production and, after a bit of time, you'll be able to see them in yet another language.

Some "volunteer" languages are well represented and are nearly finished being translated, i.e. Armenian, Estonian, Slovenian are 95% complete; even Latin has 70% of its translations done. Representatives of other languages are not as active, i.e. Abhazian has been available for several years, but so far we don't have enough translations completed to release it into production. Tibetan, Inupak, Inuktikut, Wolof, Zhuang all have less than 10% of their content translated. Interestingly, each of those has more speakers than Faroese, which has 74% of texts translated.

Recently we have added a bunch of new languages to the Google In Your Language program, including Navajo, Filipino, several Russian Federation languages (Avaric, Chechen, Chuvash, Komi), and some African languages (Akan, Bambara, Gikuyu, Kongo, Ndebele, Ndongo, Nyanja, Venda). Our hope is to attract even more volunteers to participate in this program so that Google can speak all the world's languages one day.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/09/speaking-in-more-languages.html

Blogger and malware

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Blogger Buzz: Blogger and malware

You may have seen stories in the news recently about malware on Blogger, such has this one from the BBC or this one from Committee to Protect Bloggers. Blogger was not compromised. Instead, the blog posts are from bloggers whose machines were compromised by a Trojan horse. These bloggers had their mail2blogger email addresses in their computers' address books (a perfectly legitimate use case), so when the malicious software spammed every address in their address book with its content, a copy of that email was posted to their blog.

We are in the process of notifying impacted bloggers and recommending that they scan their computers and run current anti-virus software, available in the Google Pack. This is also good advice for all computer users, especially those who may have clicked the links in the emails sent by the virus. For more information about computer security, check out upenn.edu and us-cert.gov.

URL: http://buzz.blogger.com/2007/08/blogger-and-malware.html

What's interesting around here?

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Google LatLong: What's interesting around here?



Since the launch of our map-creation tools, we've seen some fantastic content created by people around the world, ranging from places to visit in Kyoto to isolated populations in Western Europe to photos of Americana. We wanted to share these maps with you, so we created a Mapplet for browsing popular user-created maps. This makes it easy to find public maps created by other users via the My Maps tab. Pan the map to your favorite destination, and you'll see some user-created maps for that area on the left-hand side of the screen. Use the Mapplet to find interesting things to do on your vacation, read stories from people on other continents, or broadcast your own views. If you find something you really like, you can click "Save to My Maps" and it will be added to your My Maps tab.

URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2007/08/whats-interesting-around-here.html

Taking a day of rest

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Inside AdSense: Taking a day of rest

On Monday, September 3rd, our U.S. offices will be closed in observance of Labor Day. While this means you can expect slightly longer response times to your emails, please feel free to post your question on the AdSense Help Forum or visit the AdSense Help Center for more immediate answers.

In the meantime, we hope you also take time off to observe this holiday and enjoy BBQs, picnics, and fireworks over the weekend!

URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2007/08/taking-day-of-rest.html

Original stories, from the source

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Google News Blog: Original stories, from the source



Today we're launching a new feature on Google News that will help you quickly and easily find original stories from news publishers -- including stories from some of the top news agencies in the world, such as the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, UK Press Association and the Canadian Press -- and go directly to the original source to read more.

Our goal has always been to offer users as many different perspectives on a story from as many different sources as possible, which is why we include thousands of sources from around the world in Google News. However, if many of those stories are actually the exact same article, it can end up burying those different perspectives. Enter "duplicate detection." Duplicate detection means we'll be able to display a better variety of sources with less duplication. Instead of 20 "different" articles (which actually used the exact same content), we'll show the definitive original copy and give credit to the original journalist. (We launched a similar feature in Sort-by-Date and got great feedback about it.) Of course, if you want to see all the duplicates on other publisher websites with additional analysis and context, they're only a click away.

By removing duplicate articles from our results, we'll be able to surface even more stories and viewpoints from journalists and publishers from around the world. This change will provide more room on Google News for publishers' most highly valued content: original content. Previously, some of this content could be harder to find on Google News, and as a result of this change, you'll have easier access to more of this content, and publishers will likely receive more traffic to their original content.

Because the Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, UK Press Association and the Canadian Press don't have a consumer website where they publish their content, they have not been able to benefit from the traffic that Google News drives to other publishers. As a result, we're hosting it on Google News.

Duplicate detection isn't just for our news agency partners -- it also enables you to find the original copy of articles from publishers and news agencies that have their own destination site. For these publishers, we'll continue to show just a snippet of the story and a link, so you can read the full story on their site.

We hope you agree this will improve your Google News experience. As always, we welcome your feedback.

URL: http://googlenewsblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/original-stories-from-source.html

Draft without drafts

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Official Google Docs & Spreadsheets Blog: Draft without drafts

Those of you who play fantasy football know how crucial the draft is. The decisions you make in August can have you jumping for joy on Sunday or tearing your hair out on Monday morning. I'm a fantasy football addict and I love the game - but not the paperwork. Unfortunately, before using Google Docs & Spreadsheets, there was a lot of paperwork.

Like most leagues, my buddies and I relied on lots of email with scores of attachments. The commissioner would create a league spreadsheet and send it to each of us in an email. Then we'd fill it out and send it back to him. The poor guy would tirelessly compile everyone's draft picks and send it out again. This awful cycle would begin anew each week as the commissioner tallied the scores and updated the standings. Thanks be praised, the olden days are gone, and this drudgery is over.

My league now uses Google Docs & Spreadsheets to compile and compare the information for that all-important draft. Now my commissioner creates an online spreadsheet and invites each league member to collaborate. Each of us enters our information online, in one place. Nobody ever has an out of date version and we can see everyone else's changes as they happen. With Google Spreadsheet's integrated chat feature, we can even trash talk in real time.

Since switching to Google Docs & Spreadsheets, I have a lot more time to research my draft picks, my league commissioner has his life back, and the world is a better, more collaborative place. Now I just need Frank Gore to put up some serious points.

(Docs & Spreadsheets user Dave Kaufman also shared his experience with the draft.)

URL: http://google-d-s.blogspot.com/2007/08/draft-without-drafts.html

Google Desktop for the Mac in 9 more languages

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Official Google Mac Blog: Google Desktop for the Mac in 9 more languages

Hey, we're excited to launch Google Desktop and Updater for the Mac in 9 more languages today: Chinese Simplified and Traditional, Dutch, UK English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. For those of you who haven't tried Google Desktop yet, you can get the latest build at http://desktop.google.com/mac. All our current users will be updated to the latest and greatest automatically.

Internationalization is more than just great translations. Google Desktop for the Mac gives users fast, easy, and comprehensive search. So with this launch, we worked side by side with Googlers in Japan, France, Germany, and many other countries to make sure the product meets that goal in each of the 9 new languages. Part of that work was improving search and indexing support for non-Roman languages such as Chinese and Japanese. For our existing English users, this build also includes a lot of bug fixes (see release notes).

We're really excited to hear feedback from users all around the world about Google Desktop for the Mac. Thanks for all the comments you've sent us on previous versions.

Note: This update will most likely require a reboot and will create a new index of the information on your computer, to improve the quality of searches across all languages.

URL: http://googlemac.blogspot.com/2007/08/google-desktop-for-mac-in-9-more.html

Google Desktop for the Mac in 9 more languages

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Official Google Blog: Google Desktop for the Mac in 9 more languages



In April we launched Google Desktop for the Mac to further our goal of delivering great products on the Mac and making them universally available on all platforms. A big thanks to all of you for using Desktop for the Mac, and for sharing your feedback. Today we're tackling the second part of that "universal" goal: now Google Desktop for the Mac is available in 9 more languages: Chinese Simplified and Traditional, Dutch, UK English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. There's more on this on the Desktop for Mac site.

We look forward to lots more of you trying it and sending us feedback from all over, and in different languages. We hope you like it, and encourage you to watch for more updates from our Google Mac team.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/google-desktop-for-mac-in-9-more.html

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Weekly Google Code Roundup: New Gears, GWT out of beta, and YouTube meets GData

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Google Code - Updates: Weekly Google Code Roundup: New Gears, GWT out of beta, and YouTube meets GData



You know the summer is ending when the kids are back at school. We had a raft of exciting announcements this week, starting with the web developer tools of Gears and GWT, and including the latest set of Google data APIs to join the family.

The Gears team announced a new developer release. The release you, the developers, to play with new APIs including some new Gears modules (HttpRequest and Timer), and the ability to support cross-origin work.

Google Web Toolkit 1.4 was released. This release is particularly important as the beta moniker is no more. This is a fantastic release but the team is continuing to make GWT better. At around the same time, theClassConnection went public, which shows you what someone who has never written a web application before can do with GWT.

Stephanie Liu of the Google data APIs team introduced us to the new YouTube GData APIs. Now you can search through YouTube's index and get detailed video, user, and playlist information in the form of GData feeds.

Featured Projects

The Google Zurich office has released an exciting new open source virtual server management tool called Ganeti. Ganeti is built on top of Xen and other open source software, and here at Google, we've used Ganeti in the internal corporate environment to facilitate cluster management of virtual servers in commodity hardware.

Gears In Motion is the latest database tool to sit on top of the Gears Database module. It allows you to visualize your local datastores in a new way.

Featured Media

Chris Prince of the Gears team took some time to discuss the new developer release.

Philippe Ombredanne of the Eclipse foundation came to talk to Leslie Hawthorn about the structure of the Eclipse Foundation, and how it participates in the Summer of Code program.

We take the keyboard for granted, but Jaewoo Ahn came to Google to talk about MobileQWERTY a simplified keyboard concept suited for the mobile form factor.

As always, check out the latest tech talks, and visit the Google Code YouTube channel.

URL: http://google-code-updates.blogspot.com/2007/08/weekly-google-code-roundup-new-gears.html

Updates from the Latest Python Sprint

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Google Code - Updates: Updates from the Latest Python Sprint



Google was pleased to host last week's Python Sprint. From August 22-25th, over twenty developers in Mountain View and Chicago came together to improve next generation Python, also known as Python 3000 or Py3k. Many of the participants got their initial taste of Python internals at the sprint.

There was a flurry of activity at the sprint, and over 100 changes were committed - about five times the normal rate! The team got so much done that you can expect the first alpha release of Py3k in a few days.

If you'd like to participate in Python development or just learn more about the project, check out their general developer's mailing list or the Py3k development mailing list.



The Mountain View Python Sprint Team (starting with the back row, left to right): Larry Hastings, Tom Waite, Ero Carrera, Guido van Rossum, Collin Winter, Bill Janssen, Yuri Ginsburg, Thuon Chen, Christopher Burns, Keir Mierle, Neal Norwitz

(photo credit: Paul Dubois)

URL: http://google-code-updates.blogspot.com/2007/08/updates-from-latest-python-sprint.html

"Americans invented the Internet, but the Japanese are running away with it."

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"Americans invented the Internet, but the Japanese are running away with it."



As I've pointed out in the past, the most recent figures show that 99 of every 100 Americans receive high-speed broadband service from either their local phone company or their local cable company. Many have only one choice of broadband provider, and still others have none at all.

It's no secret that American consumers would benefit greatly from more competition for high-speed Internet access. Just take a look at the Japanese.

Yesterday's Washington Post reports that Japan has some of the fastest Internet connections in the world -- up to 30 times as fast as those in the United States. As the Post put it, "Americans invented the Internet, but the Japanese are running away with it." Accelerating broadband speeds in Japan, South Korea, and most of Europe are "pushing open doors to Internet innovation that are likely to remain closed for years to come in much of the United States."

The folks at the Save the Internet blog explained why, noting that "less than a decade ago, DSL service in Japan was slower and pricier than in the United States. So the Japanese government mandated open access policies that forced the telephone monopoly to share its wires at wholesale rates with new competitors. The result: a broadband explosion. Not only did DSL get faster and cheaper in Japan, but the new competition actually forced the creaky old phone monopoly to innovate."

Save the Internet Blog also reported on Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor's recent public hearing on the state of broadband in Arkansas, which was attended by FCC Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps:

"While some have protested the international broadband penetration rankings," Adelstein said, alluding to some of his colleagues at the Commission, "the fact is the U.S. has dropped year-after-year. This downward trend and the lack of broadband value illustrate the sobering point that when it comes to giving our citizens affordable access to state-of the-art communications, the U.S. has fallen behind its global competitors."

Copps called the lack of a national broadband policy "tantamount to playing Russian roulette with our future."

"Each and every citizen of this great country should have access to the wonders of communications," Copps said. "I'm not talking about doing all these people some kind of feel-good, do-gooder favor by including them. I'm talking about doing America a favor. I'm talking about making certain our citizens can compete here at home and around the world with those who are already using broadband in all aspects of their lives."

We hope policymakers take a careful look at exactly what is now happening overseas, why, and then draw the right conclusions about the steps necessary to bring the benefits of real broadband competition and innovation to all Americans.

URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2007/08/americans-invented-internet-but.html

Browsing geotagged photos from Picasa Web Albums

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Google LatLong: Browsing geotagged photos from Picasa Web Albums



About a month ago, we added a new feature to Picasa Web Albums that makes it easy to geotag your favorite photos. With the "Map My Photos" option, you can literally just drag and drop your pictures onto a map. Already, the Picasa Web Albums community has added map information to millions of photos from all over the world.

Now we have a new Mapplet that lets you search and browse all of the geolocated photos in Google Maps. Just click here to add the Picasa Web Albums Mapplet to your "My Maps" tab. Then, zoom in to your favorite spot on Google Maps, enable our Mapplet and watch the photos roll in! You can see what snapshots exist of your favorite getaway or take a virtual vacation to Paris. The world is your oyster.

While you browse all the photos around a given location, you can also do keyword searches drawing from the captions associated with each photo. For instance, pop over to London, zoom in to get a bird's-eye view, then type "eye" into our Mapplet's search field. Now you'll see a more finely filtered set of photos taken in and around the gigantic London Eye observation wheel by folks from all over the globe.

If you'd like to learn how to add map locations to your own photos using Picasa Web Albums, check out this previous blog post and our demo gallery. Once you've added a location to your photo, just designate the album as both public and searchable, and we'll get it on the map.

URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2007/08/posted-by-ping-hsin-chen-software.html

Ganeti: Open source virtual server management software released

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Google Code - Updates: Ganeti: Open source virtual server management software released



Today we're happy to announce the first beta release of Ganeti, an open source virtual server management software built on top of Xen and other open source software.

Ganeti started as a small project in Google's Zurich office. We've been using it internally for a while, and now we're excited to share it more broadly under GPLv2.

Here at Google, we've used Ganeti in the internal corporate environment to facilitate cluster management of virtual servers in commodity hardware, increasing the efficiency of hardware usage and saving space, power and cooling. Ganeti also provides fast and simple recovery after physical failures.

Feel free to download it from http://code.google.com/p/ganeti and don't hesitate to give us feedback.

Cheers,

Ganeti Team

URL: http://google-code-updates.blogspot.com/2007/08/ganeti-open-source-virtual-server.html

The Report Center gets a makeover

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The Report Center gets a makeover

You may notice some changes to the AdWords Report Center -- this week, we simplified the main Reports page, and also introduced a new format for report graphs. If you've ever used Google Analytics, you'll probably recognize the new graphical layout. The improved Report Center should make your data much easier to process, so we hope you'll enjoy these changes! See the image below for an example report:

(Click the screenshot for a full-size image.)

If you'd like to learn more about the Report Center, you can do so here.

URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2007/08/report-center-gets-makeover.html

The AdSense API on an e-commerce platform

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The AdSense API on an e-commerce platform

A few months ago, I mentioned how e-commerce sites could use AdSense to increase their overall revenues without changing their current business models. Today Zlio.com has taken it to the next level by using the AdSense API to allow their users to implement this strategy.

The core service of Zlio is to allow internet users to create and run their own internet shops. After a quick registration process, users can pick from millions of products and earn commission on every item bought from their ZlioShops. Aside from choosing their products, future shopowners can select from a few different templates to give their shops the look and feel they want. Finally, these shopowners can add text to describe the products and highlight their favorites.

Today, as added functionality, Zlio users can also add Google ads to their shops. Very much like what we currently offer via Blogger, users can pick shop templates that already include AdSense ad units without ever having to dig into the HTML code of their shop. We hope that this new API will help bring AdSense to existing Zlio users, and also that current AdSense publishers will try Zlio as a way to increase their current AdSense revenue.

The screenshot above shows an example of a shop offering scuba diving items -- you might notice that two AdSense ad units and one link unit have been placed on the page. From a revenue perspective, 60% of all the revenue generated from AdSense will go to the shopowner.

If you wish to create your own shop and associate it with your current AdSense account, you can visit Zlio.com and follow these steps:
  1. Select a general template for your shop.
  2. Create your own shop by choosing among the available products.
  3. Once you have selected products, go to My Zlio Shop > Revenue Model > AdSense for my shop.
  4. If you aren't an AdSense publisher yet, you can apply for an account through Zlio. If you already have an AdSense account, enter your AdSense e-mail address and your current zip code.
  5. Log into AdSense and grant access to Zlio to use your publisher ID by clicking on My Account > Account Access.
  6. Go back to your ZlioShop, where you'll be able to view your products and relevant Google Ads.
If you wish to learn more about the AdSense API and how you can use it to integrate AdSense sign-up and ad creation into your site, visit the AdSense API website.

URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2007/08/adsense-api-on-e-commerce-platform.html

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Google Web Toolkit out of beta as of 1.4 release

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Google Code - Updates: Google Web Toolkit out of beta as of 1.4 release



Removing the beta label from a product is a great milestone, and we're glad to report that the latest one to make that move is the Google Web Toolkit (GWT).

With the release of Google Web Toolkit (GWT) version 1.4, we'd like to give a shout out to the open-source GWT contributors that put in many hours of hard work to make GWT what it is today. We look forward to continuing to make GWT better.

If you are new to GWT check out the story and then read up on the specifics about GWT 1.4:

There's lots and lots of cool new stuff in GWT 1.4, so it's hard to know where to start. How about application performance?! This release includes several breakthroughs that make your compiled GWT code significantly smaller and faster. Many users are reporting that after a simple recompile with 1.4, their applications are up to 30% smaller and 20%-50% faster. And startup time in particular is now highly optimized thanks to a new bootstrapping technique and the availability of image bundles. To see the new hotness in action, try visiting the new-and-improved Mail sample a few times. It's darn fast the very first time you visit it, but subsequent visits are insanely fast. That's because, in addition to a fast initial startup, GWT code uses a clever caching technique to prevent applications from making unnecessary HTTP requests. As Joel Webber (Tech Lead of GWT Core Libraries) would say, "The fastest HTTP requests are those that do not, in fact, occur."

Hungry for more?

URL: http://google-code-updates.blogspot.com/2007/08/google-web-toolkit-out-of-beta-as-of-14.html

YouTube: Now with GData Goodness

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Google Code - Updates: YouTube: Now with GData Goodness



YouTube is the latest service to join the GData family. Now you can search through YouTube's index and get detailed video, user, and playlist information in the form of GData feeds. If you haven't built something with YouTube yet, now's a great time to get started! Here are some examples to give you ideas.

Search through the index for new 'puppies' videos (I subscribe to this query, doesn't everyone?):
http://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/videos?vq=puppies&orderby;=updated

Search through lonelygirl15's videos for the season finale (maybe you missed it, or just want to relive the drama):
http://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/users/lonelygirl15/uploads?vq=season+finale

List all of NBC's playlists:
http://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/users/nbc/playlists

Ooh! They have a Heroes playlists (I love Hiro):
http://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/playlists/E0E4BC86E9D0ACB3

The full list of functionality can be found in the reference guide on our new home on code.google.com.

For the old-school YouTube developers, the migration guide has info on switching over, including the upgrade timeline (you'll have at least a year).
Head over to the YouTube API Announcement Blog for the rest of the details.

I'm looking forward to seeing new faces in our developer forum - feel free to stop by with questions or feedback.

URL: http://google-code-updates.blogspot.com/2007/08/youtube-now-with-gdata-goodness.html

Supporting GrandCentral's Project CARE

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Official Google Blog: Supporting GrandCentral's Project CARE

For homeless people and others in need, not having a stable phone number can be crippling: you need one to follow up on medical appointments, keep in touch with friends and loved ones, and hear back from prospective employers.

When we acquired GrandCentral Communications last month, we were pleased to embrace their Project CARE initiative, which provides a permanent local phone number and unlimited voicemail service to people who need a way to stay connected.

GrandCentral has been operating Project CARE ("Communications and Respect for Everybody") since April 2006, and with the help of more than 20 community outreach partners has provided more than 5,000 phone numbers and served close to 100,000 voicemail messages to homeless and needy people in the Bay Area. Someone calling a number from Project CARE will have the same experience as someone calling a standard phone number, and voicemail messages can be stored as long as they're needed.

A big part of Project CARE has been GrandCentral's participation in San Francisco's Project Homeless Connect events. Every other month, these gatherings bring service providers like GrandCentral together with volunteers at an all-day fair to provide services to the homeless. In fact, there's an event today, starting at 8:30 AM (PDT) at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. If you're in San Francisco, please stop by our booth or even volunteer.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/supporting-grandcentrals-project-care.html

Update on penalty notifications

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Update on penalty notifications



First, a brief recap: In late 2005, we started emailing webmasters to let them know that their site is violating our Webmaster Guidelines and that we have temporarily removed some of their pages from our index. A few months ago we put these emails on hold due to a number of spoofed messages being sent from outside Google, primarily to German webmasters. Then, in mid-July, we launched Message Center in our webmaster console, which allows us to send messages to verified site owners.

While Message Center is great for verified site owners, it doesn't allow us to notify webmasters who aren't registered in Google's Webmaster Tools. For this reason, we plan to resume sending emails in addition to the Message Center notifications. Please note that, as before, our emails will not include attachments. Currently, the Message Center won't keep messages waiting if you haven't previously registered, but we hope to add that feature in the next few months. We'll keep you posted as things change.

URL: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2007/08/update-on-penalty-notifications.html

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In-car Google Local Search with BMW ConnectedDrive

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Google LatLong: In-car Google Local Search with BMW ConnectedDrive



In March, BMW introduced Google Maps Send to Car in Germany. As of today, we've expanded this service to all of our European BMW Assist customers. In addition to Google Maps Deutschland, you can now send businesses from Google Maps, Google Maps Italia and Google Maps UK directly to your in-car navigation system. This means that instead of printing out or writing down information before you go, you can find what you're looking for and send it to your car via Google Maps. Once on the road, you no longer need to manually enter the phone number or address. Simply click to call or select your destination as you go.

Google Maps Send to Car is a convenient way to send locations in advance, but what about when you want to find a business on the road? Google and BMW are the first to launch an in-car Google Local Search available within BMW Online Germany. Looking for a gas station, a museum or a nearby sushi spot? This service gives you access to all the information from Google Maps while you enjoy your drive. Just search online using Google Maps and transfer the address to your navigation system, or call the contact with one click. It's that easy. Watch this video (or click here for the German version).

Together with Google, we look forward to further enhancing BMW ConnectedDrive's vision of the connected vehicle to bring our drivers more innovative and convenient services like these in the future.

URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2007/08/in-car-google-local-search-with-bmw.html

Lights, camera, Gmail

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Official Google Blog: Lights, camera, Gmail



Last month, we invited you to join the Gmail collaborative video, pull out your video cameras and help us imagine how an email message travels around the world. Two Rubik's cubes, a few jaunts in a bottle, beautiful sand animation, and one dog's trip to the Southernmost point of the continental US later, we'd received more than 1,100 fantastic clips from Gmail fans from more than 65 countries. It was impossible to fit all of the great submissions into one cut, but after hours of fun watching jugglers, firemen, camel-riders, and original animation, we edited highlights together into this video and used the Google Maps API to put together a map showing where many of the clips came from (you can also see these at http://mail.google.com/mvideo):




View Larger Map


A big thank you to everyone who participated -- your creativity is astounding!

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/lights-camera-gmail_28.html

Google Web Toolkit: Towards a better web

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Official Google Blog: Google Web Toolkit: Towards a better web



We're very pleased to tell you that the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is no longer in beta as of today's release of GWT 1.4. For Java developers who have used GWT to create high-end web applications over the last year, this may not seem all that surprising. But if you haven't yet heard the story behind GWT, this seems like the perfect time...

If you've been in the technology industry for a while, you probably remember when enterprises and software vendors had to think pretty hard about whether to develop locally-installed desktop applications or web-based browser applications. These days, whether you're building mashups, gadgets, or full-blown applications, it's a no-brainer: the browser is the delivery platform of choice. However, users expect more from the up-and-coming generation of web applications than the simple click-and-wait of yesterweb. And if you're a web developer, you know that this requires AJAX, the cluster of technologies including JavaScript and dynamic HTML that can make browsers do backflips.

But the stark reality of AJAX applications is that, although they can deliver sexy features and great usability, they are unusually hard to engineer. Browser quirks and the anything-goes nature of JavaScript will inevitably frustrate even the most dedicated developers and add risk to your schedule with every line of code written. If you do eventually manage to construct a complex AJAX application that works, you're likely to find that maintaining it over time can be a major challenge. And all that doesn't even scratch the surface of testing, optimizing, securing and internationalizing your application. (If you are currently working on an ambitious AJAX project and haven't yet come to this conclusion, please re-read this post in six months when you're further along!)

We've learned a lot from our experiences building web applications, and we're happy to share the tools we've created. Google Web Toolkit is an open source project that helps Java developers harness the richness of AJAX in a cross-platform, web-friendly environment. The magic trick is that GWT cross-compiles Java source code into standalone JavaScript that you can include in any web page. Instead of spending time becoming JavaScript gurus and fighting browser quirks, developers using GWT spend time productively coding and debugging in the robust Java programming language, using their existing Java tools and expertise. Naturally, GWT is also a great way to easily take advantage of the latest-and-greatest Google APIs and browser enhancements, such as Google Gears.

In addition to making debugging far easier, GWT's unique compilation-based approach to AJAX has the nice property that it rewards developers for good software engineering practices. Java source code that is clear and organized can be easily optimized by the GWT compiler, which is a nice antidote to the frequent hack-and-slash approach that's all too common in JavaScript development. As your application grows, the GWT compiler begins to pay off in even bigger ways. Unused code is automatically removed so that scripts are smaller and pages load faster. Complex code can be automatically coalesced and simplified. Most importantly, because the Java language is statically typed, many common errors can be caught during development rather than production. You can observe the high-performance results yourself in GWT's sample Mail application.

Technical details aside, GWT makes it easy to develop fast, friendly web apps that users love — which is, after all, the point.

Download GWT 1.4.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/google-web-toolkit-towards-better-web.html

How Docs & Spreadsheets grew at Google

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Official Google Docs & Spreadsheets Blog: How Docs & Spreadsheets grew at Google



When we first launched Docs & Spreadsheets last fall, we brainstormed different ways to drive awareness and adoption inside of Google. Should we hold a contest? Put up posters? But before we knew it, something interesting happened -- Googlers just started using it. They didn't need to be encouraged to reduce their email attachments. They didn't need to be told that having a single copy of their document would reduce confusion and allow access from any web browser. They didn't need a demo on how to import and export from traditional desktop applications. In sum, they didn't need us to tell them it would change the way they work together.

At Google, it's common to use our own products internally. In software industry parlance, we "eat our own dog food." (We like to think that Google products are tastier than kibble, but we'll leave that alone for now.) This is especially true for Google Apps. We use the same product as customers like Arizona State University and Prudential Preferred. As you can imagine, few tools in the corporate world are more important than email, calendar, instant messaging and document editing, so a vote of confidence from our co-workers means a lot. Since we use all of the Google Apps every day, we experience first hand what works and what doesn't, and we can apply that knowledge to making the products better.

Here are some statistics: 87% of Google employees worldwide used Docs & Spreadsheets in the past week and 96% have used it in the past month. Googlers have created and shared more than 370,000 documents and spreadsheets and they create more than 3,000 new ones each day. In fact, I wrote this blog post and shared it with colleagues using Docs & Spreadsheets just a few moments ago. If it works for us, it might just work for you too.

URL: http://google-d-s.blogspot.com/2007/08/how-docs-spreadsheets-grew-at-google.html

AdSense update: Inline Ads

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Blogger Buzz: AdSense update: Inline Ads

Just wanted to bring your attention to a small yet nifty (and long-requested!) feature we recently added to Blogger's AdSense integration: inline ads

You can now show AdSense ads inside your block of blog posts, up to 3 times on your main blog page. This should definitely improve monetization for those of you using AdSense on your blogs, as this places the ads inline with your blogs' actual content. The AdSense blog shows how it works, and here are a few example blogs using the feature:

URL: http://buzz.blogger.com/2007/08/adsense-update-inline-ads.html

Watch the final Gmail collaborative video

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Watch the final Gmail collaborative video



Several weeks back, we posted a video to YouTube giving a behind-the-scenes look at how Gmail messages "really" travels around the world. We then invited you to submit your own clips to continue the story, and Gmail fans from more than 65 countries submitted more than 1,100 fantastic videos! We have to say, we are quite overwhelmed with everyone's creativity. From two Rubik's cubes, a few jaunts in a bottle, countless babies, and one dog's trip to the Southernmost point of the continental US, to jugglers, firemen, camel-riders, and original animation, we've had a lot of fun watching the responses come in, and we hope you have too. A big thanks to everyone who submitted clips, watched videos, and left comments for making this project so much fun!

Because of the international reach of the submissions, we used the Google Maps API to put together this map showing where many of the clips came from:


View Larger Map

As you can probably tell from viewing all these amazing videos, it was truly a difficult task to try and piece together as many of these clips as we could. We know that some of your favorites (and ours) may not have made it into the final cut, so we encourage everyone to surf through all of the submissions.

But now, drum roll, without further ado, here is the final video. We hope you like it!

URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2007/08/watch-final-gmail-collaborative-video.html

Referrals reluctant to appear?

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Referrals reluctant to appear?

We've heard that many publishers are having trouble viewing referral 2.0 ads on their pages, and we'd like to explain some of the most common reasons why this might be.

First, keep in mind that not all referral ads are available in all sizes. For instance, most horizontal referral ad units smaller than 180x60, square referral ad units smaller than 125x125, and text links are only available at this time for Google products such as AdSense or AdWords. This means that if you generate code for referral ads in an unsupported size, you won't see any referrals shown on your webpages. To avoid this issue, we recommend first selecting categories or products for your referrals before selecting a size at this time.

Similarly, you may not see the referral ads you've selected on your pages if you've grouped a number of referral ads into your Ad Shopping Cart which are each available in different sizes. If this is the case, you may wish to try regenerating your referral code with a particular ad format in mind -- this way, you can be sure to select products available in that format.

Here are several other reasons your chosen referral ads may not show:
  1. The particular referral ad you've chosen is not available in your country. When generating your code, you can view the ads available for specific countries by clicking the 'change' link above the referrals wizard.

  2. You've unselected the 'Pick best performing ads' checkbox for a referral where the advertiser has run out of budget or ended the campaign. To take advantage of the available inventory of related products, we recommend leaving this box checked.

  3. You've added more than three referral units to your page. Our current policy allows a maximum of three referral ad units on any policy-compliant page.

  4. Our system has determined that your pages contain potentially mature or sensitive content. However, as your content changes, you may begin to see referral ads appearing.

  5. The referral ad code may have been modified. Be sure to copy the code exactly as it appears in your account and paste it directly onto your pages.
Please know that we're working as quickly as we can to fine-tune the process of generating referral code. Also, we appreciate all of your feedback on referrals 2.0 so far, and we encourage you to let us know how we can keep improving AdSense.

URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2007/08/referrals-reluctant-to-appear.html

Monday, August 27, 2007

Additional Capacity for Business

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Google Custom Search: Additional Capacity for Business

By: Matt Wytock

In July, we launched Custom Search Business Edition, which those of you who are webmasters and product developers at companies can use to easily set up an ads-free search engine for your websites and completely customize the look and feel of search results through an XML API.

Earlier, the online checkout process allowed purchases for search of up to 50,000 web pages. A number of businesses asked us about site search for larger sites, so now we have expanded the capacity of Custom Search Business Edition. We've introduced two new plans that you can purchase online:

  • Search up to 100,000 web pages: $850 per year
  • Search up to 300,000 web pages: $2,250 per year


If you want to search more than 300,000 pages, contact us .

You can convert your existing Custom Search Engine to the Business Edition , or you can create a new Business Edition search engine.

URL: http://googlecustomsearch.blogspot.com/2007/08/additional-capacity-for-business.html

Register non-English domain names with Webmaster Tools

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Register non-English domain names with Webmaster Tools



I'm happy to announce that Webmaster Tools is expanding support for webmasters outside of the English-speaking world, by supporting Internationalizing Domain Names in Applications (IDNA). IDNA provides a way for site owners to have domains that go beyond the domain name system's limitations of English letters and numbers. Prior to IDNA, Internet host names could only be in the 26 letters of the English alphabet, the numbers 0-9, and the hyphen character. With IDNA support, you'll now be able to add your sites that use other character sets, and organize them easily on your Webmaster Tools Dashboard.

Let's say you wanted to add http://北京大学.cn/ (Peking University) to your Webmaster Tools account before we launched IDNA support. If you typed that in to the "Add Site" box, you'd get back an error message that looks like this:



Some webmasters discovered a workaround. Internally, IDNA converts nicely encoded http://北京大学.cn/ to a format called Punycode, which looks like http://xn--1lq90ic7fzpc.cn/. This allowed them to diagnose and view information about their site, but it looked pretty ugly. Also, if they had more than one IDNA site, you can imagine it would be pretty hard to tell them apart.



Since we now support IDNA throughout Webmaster Tools, all you need to do is type in the name of your site, and we will add it correctly. Here is what it looks like if you attempt to add http://北京大学.cn/ to your account:



If you are one of the webmasters who discovered the workaround previously (i.e., you have had sites listed in your account that look like http://xn--1lq90ic7fzpc.cn/), those sites will now automatically display correctly.

We'd love to hear your questions and feedback on this new feature; you can write a comment below or post in the Google Webmaster Tools section of our Webmaster Help Group. We'd also appreciate suggestions for other ways we can improve our international support.

URL: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2007/08/written-by-trevor-foucher-webmaster.html

AdWords Optimization Tips: More on Ad Text

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AdWords Optimization Tips: More on Ad Text

A few weeks ago, we asked you which optimization topics you wanted to learn more about. Many of the questions we received were on creating effective ad text, which is the subject of today's post.

If you aren't familiar with our six-part series on optimization tips, you may want to check out our previous post on ad text tips. You can read up on the importance of describing your offering clearly, using proper grammar and punctuation, having clear call-to-actions, and other basic tips when writing ad text. Today, our optimization team is back to cover more tips like including prices and discounts in your ad text, ideas for testing different messages in your ad text, and tracking overall performance of ad text.

Should I mention prices or discounts in ad text?
It depends. While the most important component of ad text is a good description of your offering, you may also want to mention a price. If you consider your prices to very competitive, it may be to your advantage to advertise them. Conversely, if you sell a high quality product and charge a premium price, you may also mention price to set the right expectations and discourage bargain hunters. And if you are only promoting a discount on one of your products, do not give the impression that there is a general discount. In summary, your best strategy is to be straightforward with your potential customers, so the right ones are clicking through to an offer they were expecting to find.

What should I be testing in my ad text?
You can test different descriptions, call to action phrases, promotions, and special offers. Here are a few different points you may want to test:
  • Different emphasis: product description, call-to-action, or promotional offer
  • Including the brand name versus simply describing the offering
  • Including the price in ad text versus including a discount or other special offer to differentiate your business
  • Including an audience-specific message such as 'Perfect for Couples'
  • Placement of certain messages in your ad text: headline, line 2, or line 3
You can also find good ideas for messages to include in your ad text by taking a look at what visitors are searching for on your site. If your site has a search bar, try looking at the search queries to see what they are interested in. Similarly, if you have web analytics tracking on your site, you can also look through the search queries that are bringing people to your site to see which features of your business resonate most with your potential customers. For example, if you offer vacation rentals, you may find that visitors are interested in certain amenities -- you can then include descriptions like 'pet friendly', 'hot tub', or 'concierge service' in your ad text.

When testing different ad texts, be sure to control for some portions of the ad text, while experimenting with the other portions so you'll be able to assess how effective the message you are testing really is. For example, if you are trying to figure out whether the call-to-action 'Buy today' or 'Learn more' is more effective, be sure to keep the description of your offering the same. You can also learn more tips on effective ad text by reading our Editorial Guidelines.

How can I better track the overall performance of my different ad texts?
One easy way to look at the overall performance of your ad texts is to run an Ad Performance report. You can run an Ad Performance report from the Report Center and then use the results from this report to identify low- and high-performing ad texts. For high performing ads, you can try testing a small variation of that ad with a different messaging or a different landing page.

Depending on your goals for your account, you may use different metrics to measure your success. (If you have conversion tracking, don't forget to use the 'Add/Remove Columns' feature in order to include conversion data.) Remember that your ad text with the highest CTR may not have the highest ROI. And don't just pay attention to the conversion rate, but the cost per conversion as well.

For even more sophisticated tracking capabilities, you may want to try A/B testing on text ads with Google Analytics. To read on this topic, check out this article from the Google Analytics Conversion University.

We hope you've found these tips on ad text to be helpful. We'll be back soon with other topics that you emailed us. And in the meantime, please continue to send us your questions on optimization.

URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2007/08/adwords-optimization-tips-more-on-ad.html

Track and explore real-time earthquakes and volcanic activity

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Google LatLong: Track and explore real-time earthquakes and volcanic activity


The USGS monitors, assesses and issues warnings of natural hazards, including earthquakes and volcanoes. In the past month alone, a magnitude 8.0 earthquake shook Peru, Alaska's Pavlof Volcano began erupting and lava started to flow from a new vent that formed in Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano. Now you can track both real-time earthquakes and volcanic activity on Google Maps using the USGS Mapplets.

The Earthquake Mapplet plots the past week of earthquakes around the world, showing the location, time and magnitude. Each earthquake includes a link to the USGS earthquake website for more information, including additional parameters, background and other content such as Google Earth KMLs, ShakeMaps (shaking intensity maps) and "Did You Feel It?" maps.

The Volcano Mapplet displays the latest U.S. volcano updates, showing the current level of both ground-based and aviation hazards. Clicking on an alert icon provides a summary of the volcano update along with a link to the USGS Volcano Hazards Program website for additional details and images.



Give them a try and let us know what you think.

URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2007/08/posted-by-scott-haefner-and-dina.html

Auto Industry Knowledge Center - Rev up your skills

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Auto Industry Knowledge Center - Rev up your skills

In the spirit of back to school, we've launched the Auto Industry Knowledge Center to provide automotive advertisers with the most up-do-date information and learning tools. The Auto Industry Knowledge Center has industry-specific resources to help you get the most out of AdWords. Whether you sell parts online, own a dealership, or host an auto website, you'll find customized tips for success, case studies featuring other auto advertisers, and Google product solutions to help your business.

Another great resource is our new quarterly AdWords Auto Industry Newsletter, which features industry trends and best practices for promoting summer sales. We want to hear and learn from you as well, so please send us feedback by dropping us a line at auto-knowledge@google.com.

URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2007/08/in-spirit-of-back-to-school-weve.html