Friday, September 14, 2007

Australia readies itself for a Google Maps election

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Google LatLong: Australia readies itself for a Google Maps election

It might not be widely known to our friends in the northern hemisphere, but a federal election is due to take place in Australia before the end of the year. Nothing captures the public's attention or stirs emotion quite like an election, however, many of our citizens do not have easy access to electorate information. A recent launch in Sydney of a Google Australian election website helps to remedy this by providing Australian voters with an intimate look at the parties, candidates and election issues.

The main product for this initiative is an electorate Mapplet, which identifies which parties hold what seats, who the sitting member is and what margin they currently enjoy. It has a number of interactive features that allow people to analyze the political landscape in depth. And once the election is called, we intend to add polling booth locations and even more candidate information.

It is worth noting that this Mapplet was built with publicly accessible data using Google Pages for hosting and is something any developer could have constructed — all of the tools we used are available to the public. For more information, please view the product demo below.

Happy voting, Australia.


Australia's elections on Google

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Google Public Policy Blog: Australia's elections on Google

Among the many excellent things about Australia (think: kangaroos, koalas, wombats, emus, kookaburras, the Great Barrier Reef, the Sydney Opera House, the Go-Betweens, shiraz, and footy) is this: it is one of a handful countries where voting by all citizens is compulsory. Well, it's an excellent thing if you're a political junkie (like me), and the result is an Australian political culture that features an astute and engaged electorate. At the moment, Australians are highly attuned to politics, as the country prepares for a federal election before the end of this year.

While voters wait for Prime Minister John Howard to call the election, they can stay informed at Google Australia's election website and on the Australia Votes YouTube channel, which we launched today.

The Internet is starting to live up to its potential to deepen political debate and engagement; these tools are a useful example of convergence, as the mechanisms of electoral democracy and political debate move online. Our hope is that they enable Australian voters to learn more about the issues and candidates, to compare and contrast, and to share their own views.

The Australian election website is designed as a central location for Australian federal election video, news, trends, maps, and Google Earth layers. We have created a Picasa Web Album to showcase some of these world-first tools. And just like your Uggs, this product was developed in Australia.

Check out all the details at the Google Australia blog.


Subscriber stats and more

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Subscriber stats and more

We're unrolling some exciting new features in Webmaster Tools.

First of all, subscriber stats are now available. Webmaster Tools now show feed publishers the number of aggregated subscribers you have from Google services such as Google Reader, iGoogle, and Orkut. We hope this will make it easier to track subscriber statistics across multiple feeds, as well as offer an improvement over parsing through server logs for feed information.

To improve the navigation and look and feel, we've also made some changes to the interface, including:
  • No more tabs! Navigate through the new sidebar.
  • Breadcrumbs in the page title for easier product navigation.
  • A sidebar that expands and contracts to show and hide options based on your current goal.
  • New sidebar topics: Overview, Diagnostics, Statistics, Links, Sitemaps, and Tools.
And last but not least, Webmaster Tools is now available in 20 languages! In addition to US English, UK English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Brazilian Portuguese, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean, Russian, Japanese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Polish, Webmaster Tools are now in Turkish and Romanian.

Sign in to see these changes for yourself. For questions or feedback, please post in the Google Webmaster Tools section of our Webmaster Help Group.


[G] Sell digital content using Google Checkout for mobile

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Official Google Checkout Blog: Sell digital content using Google Checkout for mobile

Great news: you can now sell and deliver digital content with Google Checkout for mobile!

In the first release of Checkout for mobile, we provided people with an existing Checkout desktop account the ability to purchase physical goods using their mobile devices. Now folks can purchase digital goods, like ring tones and music. And people have the option of signing up for a Checkout account directly on their phones, making it easy to purchase digital downloads right away.

Use the Digital Delivery API to sell a digital item. No additional integration steps are necessary — it's that simple.


Blogger Play: Watch the blogs go by

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Blogger Buzz: Blogger Play: Watch the blogs go by

Today we're pleased to launch Blogger Play, a neat little toy we've cooked up to show you photos and blog posts as you've never seen them before.

Image credit: kiwisweden

Shortly after Blogger launched photo uploading two years ago, one of our engineers whipped up a web page that would show us the pictures that were being uploaded in real time. The result was fun, often beautiful, but above all, compelling. We couldn't stop watching.

Over the years we've kept this photo scroller as part of the Blogger offices, on a monitor or projector, as an interesting (distracting?) slideshow, and a reminder of the diversity and vivaciousness of Blogger blogs. The fame of the scroller spread within Google, until one day we were asked, "so, when are you launching this?"

"Um...," we replied. But we knew a good idea when we heard one. We got our UI people to come up with buttons and fadey effects and we got our engineers to make the whole thing fast and robust. A bit of work later, and now we can share it with all of you:

Blogger Play will show you a never-ending stream of images that were just uploaded to public Blogger blogs. You can click the image to be taken directly to the blog post it was uploaded to, or click "show info" to see an overlay with the post title, a snippet of the body, and some profile information about the blogger who uploaded it. We also wrote a Blogger Play FAQ with more information.

A caveat: we use many techniques, including Google's Safe Search technology, to keep the images clean. Nevertheless, on rare occasions an image that you may find vulgar or obscene will slip through our algorithmic filters. Google does not pre-screen the images that appear in Blogger Play, nor is it responsible for their content. To report a terms of service violation, you may fill out this contact form.


Linux Kernel-Userland Interface Design, Testing, and Documentation: An Update from LinuxConf EU, and the 2007 Linux Kernel Summit

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Google Code - Updates: Linux Kernel-Userland Interface Design, Testing, and Documentation: An Update from LinuxConf EU, and the 2007 Linux Kernel Summit

As you may know,Google allows its engineers to spend 20% of their time on projects independent of their regular day to day job. For my 20% time, I chose to continue and expand my work on maintaining the Linux man-pages.

Since April, we've managed to ship 21 new releases, with a dozen or so new pages, ad around 400 major and minor improvements to existing pages.

My work on the Linux Man-pages project man-pages led me to talk about kernel-userland interface design, testing, and documentation at the recent LinuxConf Europe, where my Zurich colleague Roman Marxer also spoke about Google's recently open-sourced Ganeti virtual server management software.

I was lucky enough to be invited to the immediately following USENIX Linux Kernel Developers Summit, where I joined Google colleagues Andrew Morton, Paul Menage, and Martin Bligh to participate in the discussion of current topics related to kernel development, including the topic of kernel-userland API design, testing, and documentation.

You can read my talk, and in-depth coverage of the Kernel Developer Summit at It's available to subscribers only until the 20th of September, but you can already see the obligatory group photo.

Googlers Andrew Morton and Paul Menage relaxing at the end of the Linux Kernel Summit, Cambridge, England

(photo credit: Michael Kerrisk)


New edition of the AdWords Retail Newsletter

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Inside AdWords: New edition of the AdWords Retail Newsletter

To help you prepare for the fall season, the Retail team has put together the latest edition of the AdWords Retail Newsletter.

In this issue, you'll find tips on how to optimize your AdWords campaigns for fall and Halloween. These tips, along with information about how to expand your reach using the Google content network, Audio Ads, and Print Ads, will help you start gearing up for the busy winter holiday season ahead.

To find previous issues of the AdWords Retail Newsletter, you can visit the Retail News section of our newly redesigned Retail Knowledge Center.


Call for global privacy standards

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Google Public Policy Blog: Call for global privacy standards

As I've noted before, everyone has a right to privacy online -- and governments have an obligation to keep their citizens safe. Yet despite the international scope of even the most ordinary Internet activity, the majority of the world's countries offer virtually no privacy standards to their citizens and businesses. And even if every country in the world did have its own privacy standards, this alone would not be sufficient to protect user privacy, given the web's global nature. Data may move across six or seven countries, even for very routine Internet transactions. It is not hard to see why privacy standards need to be harmonized and updated to reflect this reality.

The problem of international data flow and privacy is not new. Potential problems were identified as early as the 1980s. At that time, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) established the first "fair information principles." Twenty years after they were first established, OECD guidelines are now but one voice in a large chorus of local privacy standards.

There are a number of factors that contribute to the need for global privacy standards today more than ever before. First, globalization. Today, all business is potentially international business, and this scale calls for organizations and those within them to operate in multiple countries. As data crosses geographic boundaries, the policies controlling it change.

Second, the growing recognition of privacy rights creates a need for global standards. Experts are not the only ones talking about privacy anymore; now ordinary citizens have entered into the debate. Increased attention to privacy among the general public has resulted in more national and local privacy laws which, in turn, have increased the fragmentation of global privacy policy.

Third, technological development also contributes to the need for global privacy standards. As technology develops, more and more information travels around the world faster and faster each day. Development of this kind increases the productivity of business and consumer transactions, but can potentially endanger privacy protections.

In addition to these factors, new threats to individual privacy emerge everyday and, without global standards, solutions to these problems will continue to be fragmented and ineffectual. All of these factors contribute in making the status quo of localized policies no longer acceptable. Countries cannot and will not be able to write effective privacy legislation without global cooperation. And as long as there are no global standards for privacy protection, individuals and businesses will remain at risk as they operate online.

In light of this, Google is calling for a discussion about international privacy standards which work to protect everyone's privacy on the Internet. These standards must be clear and strong, mindful of commercial realities, and in line with oftentimes divergent political needs. Moreover, global privacy standards need to reflect technological realities, taking into account how quickly these realities can change.

Although this seems a tall task, we are luckily not without guidance in the creation of global privacy standards. To my mind, the APEC Framework is the most promising foundation on which to build. The APEC framework already carefully balances information privacy with business needs and commercial interests, and unlike the OECD guidelines and the European Directive, it was developed in the Internet age. Moreover, APEC involves countries with very divergent privacy traditions: from Peru to the Philippines, from New Zealand to Vietnam. Surely, if privacy principles can be agreed upon within the 21 APEC member economies, a similar set of principles could be applied on a global scale.

Whatever route we choose to pursue in solving the problem of global privacy standards, there is no question that the problem must be solved. It is time that data -- the most globalized and transportable commodity in the world today -- become treated in a similar way as other subjects of international trade. It is time that privacy policy, like the data its meant to protect, become global.


Getting even more news via feeds

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Google News Blog: Getting even more news via feeds

A few weeks ago we blogged about how Google News personalization works. Now let's take a look at getting the most out of Google News feeds.

For one thing, you can get articles from your favorite news source directly on your iGoogle page. Here's what you need to do: perform a Google News search using our site: operator. In the results page click on the link "RSS" or "Atom" located on the lefthand side of your screen. You'll be taken to a new page that lets you choose where to receive this feed. You can add this feed to your iGoogle page, your favorite newsreader or another application you like.

Remember that you can subscribe to feeds for any sections of your personalized Google News homepage, or for any of the queries you perform in Google News. Another very nifty use of feeds: you can also subscribe to the content of almost all of our 41 editions. So if you speak another language, or just get a kick out of reading news headlines in different languages, you can set up as many feeds as you like for as many topics as you like. For instance, let's say that you only care about articles on "Google" coming from the Italian edition, but don't want to create a dedicated section on your Google News homepage for this topic. Here's what you can do:

- go to the Italian edition of Google News using the link available at the bottom of our homepage
- perform a search for "Google"
- click on the RSS or Atom feed links in the results page (placed in the same location for all our editions)
- subscribe to the feed.

Don't forget to check out our Terms of Use and feel free to post on our Help Group to share ideas and tips from other news fans.


Google welcomes ISO decision on OOXML

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Google Code - Updates: Google welcomes ISO decision on OOXML

Google welcomes the ISO decision to not approve the fast track of Office Open XML (OOXML) proposed standard DIS 29500 (ECMA 376).

Our engineers conducted an independent analysis of the OOXML specification and found several areas of concern, which we communicated both to the ISO and to the public. These include and are not limited to the following:
  • for a specification of this size it was not given enough time for review;
  • the undocumented features of OOXML prevents its implementation by other vendors;
  • dependencies on other Microsoft proprietary formats and their technical defects makes it difficult to fully implement; and
  • the overall cost for vendors of implementing multiple standards (hence the lack of OOXML implementations in the marketplace).
It is also incompatible with the existing ISO standard ISO 26300:2006, the Open Document Format (ODF), which already offers a high degree of interoperability, wide support, and offers the level playing field the world needs. Google is a supporter of ODF and has successfully integrated this open format into Google Docs and Spreadsheets. ODF also enjoys implementation in over twelve other products.

The ISO approval required at least 2/3 (i.e., 66.66%) of the votes cast by participating (P) members to be positive, and no more than 1/4 (i.e., 25%) of the total number of national body votes cast negative. Neither of these criteria were met by the proposed standard.

The concerns from many technical experts around the world were submitted as comments by the voting bodies to ISO on September 2, 2007. These must now be resolved at a Ballot Resolution Meeting (BRM) on February 25-29, 2008. In contrast, ODF was approved unanimously (23-0 among P members, 31-0 overall) as an international standard by ISO in May 2006.

As we represented our position in many countries, we were encouraged by the process observed in some places that truly evaluated the proposed standard on its technical merits as well as the feasibility of implementing the standard for the people of the country. These countries successfully declined or abstained due to insufficient information about the standard or the lack of time to evaluate the specification. In addition, many irregularities have been reported in the voting process (see here, here and here).

Technical standards should be arrived at transparently, openly, and based on technical merit. Google is committed to helping the standards community remain true to this ideal and maintain their independence from any commercial pressure.

Google supports one open document format and calls on industry participants to collaboratively work on ODF. With multiple implementations of one open standard for documents, users, businesses and governments around the world can have both choice and freedom to access their own documents, share with others and pass onto future generations.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

The fine lines ...

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Google Finance Blog: The fine lines ...

One of our favorite testers for Google Finance features is also a member of a fantastic local singing group, The Richter Scales, in San Francisco. They put the following video and song together to help us all take the edge out of the subprime meltdown. Enjoy!


Australia readies itself for a Google election

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Official Google Blog: Australia readies itself for a Google election

Looking from down under, the long U.S. election cycle ensures that there is no shortage of political headlines generated more than a year out from the actual Presidential election. Many of you may not realise that Australia is also readying itself to enter campaign mode. A federal election is anticipated to be held before the end of the year. You can be sure as the Australian parties get out on the hustings, babies will be kissed, doors knocked and hands vigorously shook -- but this election campaign is already a lot different to others, with digital media playing a new and important role.

Today, in Sydney, we announced the launch of a Google Australia election website, so that Australian voters can have an intimate look at the parties, candidates and election issues, all in one Google location. These services, spanning Search, Maps, News, video, Earth, Trends, and iGoogle, enable voters to organise, find and share Australian election information more easily than ever.

We created a Picasa Web Album to showcase all the elements, and we're pleased to offer these world-first tools that were developed in our Australian office. Here's hoping Australians will find them useful and even fun. It's our view that democracy on the web works -- and the web can work for democracy.


More of the world for you to explore

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Google LatLong: More of the world for you to explore

Posted by Dave Barth, Product Manager

Here's great news for all of the virtual explorers out there: Today we added 54 new countries to Google Maps! We've more than doubled our coverage of Latin America and are now mapping three times as many countries in Asia as before. So if you've ever wanted to get the flavor of an energetic metropolis like Mexico City or scope out the relaxed vibe of a small island like Aruba, we've got you covered.

Here's the full list of new countries:
Afghanistan, Aruba, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Bermuda, Brunei Darussalam, Bhutan, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Mexico, Myanmar (Burma), Mongolia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Timor-Leste, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen

We have better detail for some countries than others, but this is just the beginning. In coming months, we'll be working tirelessly to add more detail to the existing countries in Google Maps, and we'll also be adding new countries to the list.


Tips from a Digital Mom - How managing emails can be like picking up toys

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Official Gmail Blog: Tips from a Digital Mom - How managing emails can be like picking up toys

So here's my next tip in the series I started a few weeks ago:

I laugh when I remember what I was like as a new mom. I was determined to be perfect: feeding only homemade food that I blended or pureed myself (great book about this btw) and organizing toys into drawers with labels like cars, puzzles, and blocks. But when the reality of every day life sets in, it's almost impossible to keep that up. Nowadays, I'm just proud when my house doesn't look like a hurricane just blew through it and my kids have eaten something green for dinner.

Lots of things I do work this way. Take email. First, I make very specific labels for all of the categories that I might need - meeting notes, action items, personal - and I very meticulously use these labels for maybe a month or so. But then, I get overwhelmed and don't have the time to spend filing things under each of these categories. This is the point where Gmail really starts to help me out. The reason I categorized everything in the first place was to find it again quickly, right? Well, if I can find anything easily with search, then why should I take the extra time organizing? For my purposes, searching takes much less time and works just as well.

Now, when I'm done with an email, I archive it. It's not deleted, but I don't have to see it and I can find it quickly anytime. And every day I have a few more bits of time to spend having that wonderful glass of wine after the kids go to bed - oh, and more time to spend with the kids too.

If only I had Gmail for my living room. With one button, I would remove all toys from the floor to a placeout of sight,and then, at any time, quickly find that special Thomas the train that my son is asking me about. Now that would make me a supermom. :-)

Here's a snippet from blogger Megan Morrone, who also has twins (here's a post from when her twins stopped napping - so funny!), talking about archiving, searching and how she uses Labels to organize her Gmail:

"I love Gmail's archive and search features. They give me license to get e-mails out of my inbox quickly without fear of losing them. It took me a little longer to appreciate the Labels feature. Now, I'm in love. Each of my kids gets a label so I can look at e-mails that apply directly to them, whether it be about playdates, school, or activities. I also have labels for my real job, my podcast, my blog, and other blog networks I belong to. And if e-mails ever fall in more than one category, I give them more than one label. It makes things really, really easy."

Send your own work-life balance suggestions to and I'll share them here.


UW and Google: Teaching in Parallel

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Google Code - Updates: UW and Google: Teaching in Parallel

Earlier this year, the University of Washington partnered with Google to develop and implement a course to teach large-scale distributed computing based on MapReduce and the Google File System (GFS). The goal of developing the course was to expose students to the methods needed to address the problems associated with hundreds (or thousands) of computers processing huge datasets ranging into terabytes. I was excited to take the first version of the class, and stoked to serve as a TA in the second round.

But you can't program air, so Google provided a cluster computing environment to get us started. And since computers can't program themselves (yet?), UW provided the most essential component: students with sweet ideas for a huge cluster. After learning the ropes with these new tools, students finished the course by producing an impressive array of final projects, including an n-body simulator, a bot to perform Bayesian analysis on Wikipedia edits to search for spam, and an RSS aggregator that clustered news articles by geographic location and displayed them using the Google Maps API. Check out Geozette.

We are looking at ways to encourage other universities to get similar classes going, so we've also published the course material that was used at the University of Washington on Google Code for Educators. You're more than welcome to check out the Google Summer Intern video lectures on MapReduce, GFS, and parallelizing algorithms for large scale data processing. This summer I've been working on exposing these educational resources and other tools so that anyone can work on and think about cool distributed computing problems without the overhead of installing his or her own cluster. In that vein, we've released a virtual machine containing a pre-configured single node instance of Hadoop that has the same interface as a full cluster without any of the overhead. Feel free to give it a whirl.

We're happy to be able to expose students and researchers to the tools Googlers use everyday to tackle enormous computing challenges, and we hope that this work will encourage others to take advantage of the incredible potential of modern, highly parallel computing. Virtually all of this material is Creative Commons licensed, and we encourage educators to remix it, build upon it, and discuss it in the Google Code for Educators Forum.

Lastly, a quick shout out to the other interns who helped out on our team this summer: Aaron Kimball, Christophe Taton, Kuang Chen, and Kat Townsend. I'll miss you guys!


Consumer choice is always the right answer

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Google Public Policy Blog: Consumer choice is always the right answer

As loyal readers of this blog know, earlier this year the Federal Communications Commission took some significant steps to giving consumers more choices when it comes to high-speed wireless Internet access. The FCC set rules for the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction which said that consumers would have the right to download any software they want, and that consumers could use their handsets with whatever wireless network they want.

This was a big step for consumer choice and competition. "FCC airwave auction rules to give consumers more choice," said USA Today. "Consumers will be able to use any cellphone and software they want," wrote the Washington Post.

Apparently, one of the nation's major existing wireless carriers doesn't think consumers deserve more choices.

Earlier this week, Verizon Wireless filed a lawsuit against the FCC's rules that would require the eventual winner of the spectrum offer open devices and applications. They called the rules "arbitrary and capricious, unsupported by substantial evidence and otherwise contrary to law."

The nation's spectrum airwaves are not the birthright of any one company. They are a unique and valuable public resource that belong to all Americans. The FCC's auction rules are designed to allow U.S. consumers -- for the first time -- to use their handsets with any network they desire, and download and use the lawful software applications of their choice.

It's regrettable that Verizon has decided to use the court system to try to prevent consumers from having any choice of innovative services. Once again, it is American consumers who lose from these tactics.


We've officially acquired Postini

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Official Google Blog: We've officially acquired Postini

As of today, Postini becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Google, and we couldn't be happier about it. (Here's the FAQ.) Since July 9, when we announced the agreement to acquire Postini, plenty of businesses have told us how much they respect Postini and how the acquisition makes sense for customers of both companies.

We view this as welcome news, but also a sign of things to come. With the more than 100,000 businesses on Google Apps, 35,000 businesses and more than 10 million users of Postini products, we see great potential on both sides. We're committed to continue to deliver the type of innovative and useful business products our customers have come to expect. And we plan to announce even more product offerings in the very near future.

Separately, both companies shared a vision for what the world of hosted applications can become for businesses of all sizes. Together, we look forward to achieving it.


The new moon

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Google LatLong: The new moon

Despite its phase changes, the same side of the moon always faces Earth, like a giant eyeball keeping watch over us. And for most of history, that's all we ever did in return: stare back. Until 1969, that is, when Neil Armstrong took his famous first steps. It's not easy to fly to the moon yourself, but we can offer the next best thing.

As you may have heard, we've released a new version of Google Moon, one that fully eclipses its predecessor. This update brings higher-resolution map imagery, text search, and photos and stories from every Apollo landing. We even included Street View-style panoramas of the moon's surface, taken by the Apollo astronauts ... something you won't see anywhere else. And last but certainly not least, we tossed in scientific charts that are good enough for actual mission planning and science classrooms alike. Check out the about page for more info on all of these features.

Just like the Apollo landings, this was a genuine group effort. Noel Gorelick and I worked with our colleagues at NASA Ames Research Center to apply the work that we did for Google Mars to the moon. It was an opportunity made possible by Google and NASA's Space Act Agreement, and we hope to continue this collaboration with talented researchers like Matt Hancher, Michael Broxton, Noelle Steber, and the rest of the Ames team on other great space-related projects.

The new Google Moon makes a nice addition to our growing space family, which also includes Google Mars and Sky. If you haven't already, be sure to check out each of these great educational tools.


Fly me to the moon

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Official Google Blog: Fly me to the moon

In 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first man to go into space and orbit the Earth. Two years later, Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space (she orbited the earth 48 times -- take that, Yuri). By the end of the decade, the Apollo teams, rising to President Kennedy's challenge, made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin the first human beings to walk on the Moon.

Great things can happen when you reach for the stars. That's why we're thrilled to be sponsoring the Lunar X-PRIZE, which will award a total of $30 million to teams competing around the world to land privately funded spacecraft on the Moon.

Why does Google love space? Well, for one thing, we just think it's cool. More seriously, space exploration has a remarkable history of producing technological breakthroughs, from ablative heat shields and asteroid mining to invisible braces and Tang; the X-PRIZE, too, could lead to important developments in robotic space exploration, a whole host of new space-age materials, precision landing control technology, and who knows what else.

Finally, we hope the contest will help renew public interest in fields like math, engineering and computer science, especially among the young people on whom we'll all be depending to tackle tomorrow's technical challenges, whether they're on the web or among the stars.

As Neil Armstrong famously pointed out, small steps lead to giant leaps. We hope that our sponsorship of the Lunar X-PRIZE is one of those small steps, and we can't wait to see what giant leaps result. By the way, just so the teams can scout locations and plan accordingly, Google Moon just went live. For more information, visit the Google Lunar X-PRIZE site.


Get your cricket scores here

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Official Google Blog: Get your cricket scores here

With the start of the Twenty20 world championship, cricket fever is upon legions of enthusiasts. To make it easier for you to indulge your interest in a game John Fowles characterized as "chess made flesh," we've simplified your search for cricket scores. Just type [cricket] in a Google search box and you'll see a brief score of all the current cricket matches. A single click will also give you access to a detailed cricket score card.

If you're a diehard India fan, then type [cricket india] or [cricket score India England] to get results for Indian matches. Of course, feel free to replace India with the country of your choice for country-specific results.


FoxyTunes adds Blogger support

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Blogger Buzz: FoxyTunes adds Blogger support

Hey Firefox users! The folks at FoxyTunes just added Blogger support to their Firefox plugin, which you can use to do a number of things, such as:
  • Control your favorite music-playing app from your browser
  • See what you're currently listening to
  • Append your current song to the bottom of new blog posts
Check it out!


A new RFP

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Official Google Blog: A new RFP

Today, has issued a request for proposals to the tune of $10 million in order to advance sustainable transportation solutions. We're inviting entrepreneurs and companies to show us their best ideas on how they can contribute to this important cause. We need catalytic investments to support technologies, products and services that are critical to accelerating plug-in vehicle commercialization.

There's more about this on the blog.


Reverting Back to Original "Average Time on Site" Calculation Today

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Google Analytics Blog: Reverting Back to Original "Average Time on Site" Calculation Today

We recently introduced a new way of calculating "Average Time on Site" that removed visitors who "bounce" from your website (people who hit one page of your site and then leave). This updated calculation attempted to give you a better idea of how long engaged visitors spend on your website. However, many of you prefer the original calculation: the total time on site for all visits divided by the total number of visits. So today we are changing it back.

Effective immediately, all current and historical Average Time on Site metrics are calculated using the original methodology. This ensures that your data-set is consistent. So if you compare data from today or tomorrow with data from two weeks ago, it will be an apples to apples comparison.

Two other updates in this release...

The number of Absolute Unique Visitors displayed in the Visitors Overview report previously did not match the number of unique visitors in the Absolute Unique Visitors report. This is because the Absolute Unique Visitor report shows data over time and was therefore summing daily unique visitors. The Absolute Unique Visitors report no longer sums the day by day totals but instead displays the absolute unique visitors metric that is displayed in the Visitors Overview.

Careful, this one's a bit geeky. We recently changed the way we ordered URL parameters. Why is this important? Take a look at the following two URLs:

Instead of considering these two URLs as a single URL: (i.e. alphabetically ordered parameters), we now consider these as two separate URLs (i.e. without reordered parameters). We made this change to accommodate those of you with filters or goals dependent upon parameter order.

We are always seeking to improve the value you get from Google Analytics. We try to be right 100% of the time, but we're human.


ROI: why it matters and how to track it -- part 1 of 3

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Inside AdWords: ROI: why it matters and how to track it -- part 1 of 3

Over the past couple of years you've met a number of AdWords experts on our blog -- and, in that spirit, we'd like to introduce Fred Vallaeys, the Product Evangelist for AdWords. You may have met Fred in person, or heard him speak at recent industry events. If you're someone who attends these types of events keep your eye out for him: he loves to hear feedback from our advertisers firsthand.

Today, we begin a new series on a subject that is key to advertiser success: Return on Investment (ROI). In this series, Fred will cover why ROI matters, how to track it using tools available from AdWords or other sources, and how to optimize AdWords advertising for ROI.

Now that the stage is set, let's get started. Here's Fred:

I've heard it said at conferences that online advertising is the most cost-effective way for businesses to attract new customers -- but how exactly is such a claim measured? Well, one of the beauties of AdWords is that results are easily measured. Not only do advertisers get reports about clicks and impressions within their account, they can also track conversions of visitors to their site. One possible downside of having all that data, however, is that advertisers may become distracted by tracking lots of metrics at the expense of losing focus on the ones that matter the most.

On the other hand, many advertisers don't spend much time at all monitoring their campaigns. They might check only one metric, such as impressions, clicks, CTR, or their overall spend -- and so long as they don't see anything obviously amiss, they don't make any changes to their ads, maximum CPCs, etc.

Regardless of how much or how little an advertiser measures results, it's possible to miss out on potential profit if close attention isn't paid to the one metric that almost certainly matters the most: ROI. And while impressions, clicks, CTR and costs are all important components that contribute to the ROI, these metrics only show part of the picture.

The ROI metric can be defined in two ways: the revenue generated for every dollar spent on ads, or the amount of profit generated from every dollar spent on ads. I'm going to focus on profit here, since that's what most advertisers inquire about.

The formula for ROI is as follows (keeping in mind that the "revenue minus cost" in the top line equals profit):

For any campaign where the advertiser's goal is to get a conversion, whether it be a sign-up, a sale, or something else, the ROI should be greater than 100% -- which simply means that for every dollar spent on AdWords, they've made a profit. The greater the ROI number, the greater their profit.

Here's an example -- let's say an advertiser has two keywords ('flower delivery' and 'fresh flowers') and spends $50 on each. For the same $50, the advertiser receives 50 clicks for 'flower delivery' and 100 clicks for 'fresh flowers':

KeywordImpressionsClicksCostAverage CPCConversionsProfitROI
flower delivery1,00050$50$1.005??
fresh flowers1,000100$50$0.5010??

Based on the data in the table, the keyword 'fresh flowers' seems like the better of the two because it has a lower average CPC and it leads to more conversions (sales). But without tracking the ROI on both keywords, an advertiser would have to guess whether it makes sense to change the bids for these keywords. If they were only looking at the average CPC or the conversions per keyword, they may be making assumptions that could end up costing them money.

Now, here's that table again -- but with figures added for ROI:

KeywordImpressionsClicksCostAverage CPCConversionsProfitROI
flower delivery1,00050$50$1.005$100200%
fresh flowers1,000100$50$0.5010$50100%

Notice that the keyword 'flower delivery' has a much better ROI, even though it generated fewer conversions and fewer clicks for the same advertising cost. This could be the case for a variety of reasons -- for example, users who clicked on the 'flower delivery' ad may tend to buy products with a higher profit margin. The average profit per sale on the keyword 'flower delivery' is much higher ($20) than 'fresh flowers' ($5), which justifies the higher CPC for the keyword 'flower delivery', even in light of fact that it receives fewer conversions.

When an advertiser tracks and monitors their ROI, they are seeing the complete picture. This allows them to make smarter decisions about their online ads and, ultimately, make their business more profitable.

Now that you've seen why ROI matters and how it can help you to make more informed decisions, Fred will tell you how to track and monitor your ROI in part two of the series. Then, in part three, he'll take a close look at some tools and strategies for optimizing ROI. We hope you'll stay with us for the entire series -- and as always, please feel free to comment along the way.

Update: Republished to correct formatting of tables


The economic value of "fair use"

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Google Public Policy Blog: The economic value of "fair use"

Millions of people use Google's search engine every day but don't realize that the balance inherent in U.S. copyright law helps enable it to exist. Here at Google, we strongly support the intellectual property rights of content creators and the protection of copyright. We think creators deserve to be rewarded for their work, and support the balance of copyright law as fundamental to promoting future creativity.

While protecting the rights of creators, the Constitution and the courts place limits on the rights of copyright holders. For example, copyright laws encourage others to make use of content in limited ways without seeking anyone's permission through the doctrine of "fair use." By enabling journalists, scholars and the general public to quote from and comment on others' writings, the fair use doctrine underscores basic rights of free expression.

Fair use also assures that technological innovations such as the Internet itself can operate without violating copyright law. For instance, Google crawls the web, analyzes and indexes its content and makes a copy of each page on our servers. Our index is made up of the content of every web page which is crawled, optimized and stored in a variety of locations all over the world, to deliver results to users in a fraction of a second. In this way, we provide an opportunity for content creators to promote and capitalize on their creativity.

We've known for a while that fair use has allowed entire new industries and companies to grow, and to bring beneficial new services and innovative devices to consumers. Now, an interesting new study released yesterday by the Computer and Communications Industry Association (of which Google is a member) attempts to quantify the contribution of industries relying on fair use to the economy.

The study -- which I encourage you to check out -- concludes that the "fair use economy" in 2006 accounted for $4.6 trillion in revenues (roughly one-sixth of total U.S. gross domestic product), employed more than 17 million people, and supported a payroll of $1.2 trillion (approximately one out of every eight workers in the US). It also generated $194 billion in exports and significant productivity growth. Using a methodology similar to a previous World Intellectual Property Organization guide, the results of the study demonstrate that fair use is an important economic driver in the digital age.

Copyright law involves a delicate balance, and here in the U.S. fair use is an important part of that equation. This study suggests that it's also an important part of the U.S. economy.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

[G] At next week

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Official Google Checkout Blog: At next week

Next week (Sept. 17-19) we're attending the Annual Summit in Las Vegas. If you're at the show, stop by and visit us in booth #429 at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. We'll have team members on hand to explain how Google Checkout works to increase your sales and provide free credit card processing, plus folks from the Product Search team to talk about the benefits of increased traffic to your store.


EFT available in Mexico

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Inside AdSense: EFT available in Mexico

We're happy to let you know that Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) is now supported in Mexico.

Signing up for EFT to receive your future payments directly in your bank account is simple. Just follow these steps to set up your bank account -- you'll then need to verify a test deposit that we'll place into your account. To learn more about EFT or the sign-up process, please visit our Help Center.

We'll continue to announce any new country support for EFT or additional payments options here on the blog, so feel free to check back often!


Better search results

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Google Custom Search: Better search results

We've implemented two frequently-requested features that we think will improve the quality of results in your Custom Search Engine.

1. Keywords now have a much stronger effect on Custom Search results. This helps give better targeted results and more flexibility than before. You can change your search engine's keywords in the "Basics" tab of your search engine's control panel. If you don't like the effect that keywords have your search results, you can also remove them.

Compare the results on this yoga search engine when looking for a "mat" with and without the keyword "yoga" --

2. For the XML hackers, FILTER labels now are effected by scores and


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Google, duplicate content caused by URL parameters, and you

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Google, duplicate content caused by URL parameters, and you

How can URL parameters, like session IDs or tracking IDs, cause duplicate content?
When user and/or tracking information is stored through URL parameters, duplicate content can arise because the same page is accessible through numerous URLs. It's what AdamLasnik referred to in "Deftly Dealing with Duplicate Content" as "store items shown (and -- worse yet -- linked) via multiple distinct URLs." In the example below, URL parameters create three URLs which access the same product page.

Why should you care?
When search engines crawl identical content through varied URLs, there may be several negative effects:

1. Having multiple URLs can dilute link popularity. For example, in the diagram above, rather than 50 links to your intended display URL, the 50 links may be divided three ways among the three distinct URLs.

2. Search results may display user-unfriendly URLs (long URLs with tracking IDs, session IDs)
* Decreases chances of user selecting the listing
* Offsets branding efforts

How we help users and webmasters with duplicate content
We've designed algorithms to help prevent duplicate content from negatively affecting webmasters and the user experience.

1. When we detect duplicate content, such as through variations caused by URL parameters, we group the duplicate URLs into one cluster.

2. We select what we think is the "best" URL to represent the cluster in search results.

3. We then consolidate properties of the URLs in the cluster, such as link popularity, to the representative URL.

Consolidating properties from duplicates into one representative URL often provides users with more accurate search results.

If you find you have duplicate content as mentioned above, can you help search engines understand your site?
First, no worries, there are many sites on the web that utilize URL parameters and for valid reasons. But yes, you can help reduce potential problems for search engines by:

1. Removing unnecessary URL parameters -- keep the URL as clean as possible.

2. Submitting a Sitemap with the canonical (i.e. representative) version of each URL. While we can't guarantee that our algorithms will display the Sitemap's URL in search results, it's helpful to indicate the canonical preference.

How can you design your site to reduce duplicate content?
Because of the way Google handles duplicate content, webmasters need not be overly concerned with the loss of link popularity or loss of PageRank due to duplication. However, to reduce duplicate content more broadly, we suggest:

1. When tracking visitor information, use 301 redirects to redirect URLs with parameters such as affiliateID, trackingID, etc. to the canonical version.

2. Use a cookie to set the affiliateID and trackingID values.

If you follow this guideline, your webserver logs could appear as: - - [19/Jun/2007:14:40:45 -0700] "GET /product.php?category=gummy-candy&item;=swedish-fish&affiliateid;=ABCD HTTP/1.1" 301 - - - [19/Jun/2007:14:40:45 -0700] "GET /product.php?item=swedish-fish HTTP/1.1" 200 74

And the session file storing the raw cookie information may look like:


Please be aware that if your site uses cookies, your content (such as product pages) should remain accessible with cookies disabled.

How can we better assist you in the future?
We recently published ideas from SMX Advanced on how search engines can help webmasters with duplicate content. If you have an opinion on the topic, please join our conversation in the Webmaster Help Group (we've already started the thread).


Just three more shopping months

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Inside AdWords: Just three more shopping months

As we launch into fall, many retailers are already gearing up for the most important sales season of the year -- the winter holidays. It may seem like we have a long way to go before December, but according to the 2007 Holiday eSpending Report, shoppers are hitting their favorite online stores well ahead of time -- some even report that they've already finished their holiday shopping!

With this in mind, it's never too early to start thinking of ways to attract more customers. We suggest creating a separate, fine-tuned winter holiday campaign with specific, narrowly focused ad groups and relevant keywords to attract potential customers. The Keyword Tool is a great resource to turn to for ideas and tips on creating a number of keyword variations.

You may also want to write ad text that appeals directly to the audience you're targeting. After creating multiple ads per ad group, you can look at the % Served column in your 'Ad Variations' table to see what kind of ad text attracts more clicks. And, remember that AdWords will automatically show the ad with the higher clickthrough rate (CTR) more often, so you can experiment with different ad texts to see what works best.

As always, you can visit the AdWords Help Center year-round to find ways to improve your ad performance. Retailers can also check out our optimization tips.


[G] Time for end-of-summer shopping in UK

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Official Google Checkout Blog: Time for end-of-summer shopping in UK

Whether it's for electronics or clothes or sporting goods, more and more people are shopping online these days. And one of the benefits is that you can easily shop whatever the weather. Beginning today, a number of Google Checkout stores in the UK are offering exclusive savings of up to £10 for Checkout buyers. This offer is for a limited time only, so start shopping — and saving — now!

One more thing: to explore products from Google Checkout stores, be sure to add the gadget to your iGoogle homepage by clicking here: Add to Google


Monday, September 10, 2007

Our plans for Code Jam

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Official Google Blog: Our plans for Code Jam

What do you do if you've got a head full of good ideas, and nothing interesting to do with them? You might need a good dose of competitive programming. During a programming competition you contort your brain, trying desperately to figure out that tiny trick that will let your program run a thousand times faster, or searching for the elusive mathematical fact that will lead you to the solution. Then you tell your computer what to do, and watch it solve that torturous problem faster than you can blink. If you're like me, you eagerly participate in every coding competition that comes along.

Since 2003, we have supported the fun and intensity of competitive programming around the world by offering code jams powered by TopCoder. Contests like the ACM ICPC, the TopCoder Open and our TopCoder-powered code jams have formed a great community of contests and contestants; now we're excited to join that community in our own right, by producing a Google Code Jam of our own! There aren't too many details to share yet, but we have some big plans: there are quite a few super-competitive programmers here, and we've put them to work preparing challenges for you.

So start brushing up with a couple of practice problems -- and it's well worth checking out some old problems from the ACM ICPC and TopCoder too. We're also excited to hear what you think would make for a great Google-run programming contest, so send us your feedback -- and get ready for a challenge.