Friday, January 18, 2008

[G] A follow-up to our referrals announcement

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Inside AdSense: A follow-up to our referrals announcement

You may have seen our recent post about the upcoming changes to referrals promoting AdSense. Since we made this announcement, we've received a number of responses about the program being dependent on the location of the referring publisher. We've carefully considered your feedback, and have decided to modify the original plan.
The changes to referrals promoting AdSense will now depend on where your users are located, regardless of your location as a publisher. You'll earn $100 for every user you refer to AdSense who is located in North America, Latin America or Japan when they generate $100 in AdSense revenue within 180 days and they remove all payment holds. You'll no longer be paid for users you refer who are located elsewhere. These changes will go into effect the last week of January.
The option to add a referral unit for AdSense will reappear in your account when you target any referral unit to Japan and/or any countries in North America and Latin America. To ensure payment for valid conversions, we recommend that you check the targeting settings on your current AdSense referral units.


We've also heard from a number of you that you're no longer seeing recent AdSense referral earnings in your account. Please be assured that this is a display error -- past conversions have not been removed from your account. Our engineers are working hard to resolve this issue quickly.

Finally, we'd like to let you know about upcoming changes to the referrals programs for Google Pack and Firefox:
  • Google Pack: Currently, you can earn up to $2 when a user downloads and runs Google Pack for the first time after being referred through your link or button. Starting the third week of February, each successful Pack referral will earn up to $1. This change will apply to all referrals for Google Pack and is independent of user location or publisher location.

  • Firefox: We'll also be reducing payments for Firefox referrals from China during the third week of February. This specific referral payment change will only affect installations from users in China. Again, this is independent of your location as a publisher.
We understand that these changes may decrease revenue for some of you currently participating in these referrals programs. While it's our goal to help publishers earn as much as possible with the AdSense program, like any other referrals advertiser, we're constantly evaluating our campaigns to make them effective and sustainable.

Again, thank you for your feedback and support of the referrals program.


URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2008/01/follow-up-to-our-referrals-announcement.html

[G] Our new D.C. digs

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Google Public Policy Blog: Our new D.C. digs



Last night we welcomed a veritable who's who of Washington -- including Members of Congress, think tankers, tech policy geeks, and journalists -- to take the wraps off Google's new permanent office here in Washington.

And what a grand opening it was. Washingtonian magazine called it "the swankiest 'office' party Washington has seen in years." A guest told Politico it was "the best reception I've ever been to in D.C." And FishbowlDC wrote, "Washington is abuzz this morning about last night's party in Google's new DC HQ."

Beyond last night's amazing fete, we're even more excited that our new office here will allow us to tell Google's story more effectively to policymakers. The office includes a large event space for policy talks and seminars, as well as signature Google touches like a massage chair, lava lamps, and a game room (with, naturally, Republican and Democratic foosball teams). This being D.C., our conference rooms are named after "famous" Washington rooms, like the Situation Room, Cabinet Room, and of course, The Secret Undisclosed Location. And we're proud that our new office is in one of the newest "green," LEED-certified buildings in Washington.

To see more of our new office, check out the photos at CNET and Tech Daily Dose. And for you D.C. denizens, maybe we'll see you over here for lunch one of these days.




URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2008/01/our-new-dc-digs.html

[G] The many uses of Transit

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Google LatLong: The many uses of Transit



We've always been proud of the practical uses and environmental benefits of Google Transit, but it turns out that it's an extremely helpful tool for another very important reason. Read about one Googler's own unique perspective on why it's an invaluable resource for people with no and low vision.

We're continuing to add more agencies to the Transit fold (Fredericton Transit, Canada; Pioneer Valley Transit Authority, Massachusetts; and Sage Stage, California are recent additions), and we'll keep you posted on our progress.


URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2008/01/many-uses-of-transit.html

[G] Macworld wraps up

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Official Google Mac Blog: Macworld wraps up



It's the last day -- the crowds are finally starting to thin, booths are being packed up, and we give away a Vespa (at 3:30, in the Google booth) -- and then everybody heads home to sleep for a long, long time. Macworld is great fun because of the show, the keynote buzz and other new product announcements, and especially for running into old friends and fellow Mac lifers. This has been my 24th Macworld Expo in San Francisco, and I could tell you a lot of stories about all those years. And hey, Macworld 2009 starts next January 5th! I wonder what Steve will announce...

Here are a couple of photos Mike Morton and I took while walking around near Macworld (roll over for captions):





URL: http://googlemac.blogspot.com/2008/01/macworld-wraps-up.html

[G] Public transit made easy

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Official Google Blog: Public transit made easy


From time to time, our own T.V. Raman shares his tips on how to use Google from his perspective as a technologist who cannot see -- tips that sighted people, among others, may also find useful. - Ed.

A little over a year ago, I blogged about our simple textual directions as an alternative to the popular graphical Google Maps interface. Those directions help me orient myself and learn my way around. But in the interest of safety -- my own and others! -- I choose not to drive and rely heavily on public transportation.

Now that Maps has textual directions in place, it's easy to build on top of that interface to introduce new innovations that become immediately useful to someone like me. Google Transit is a great example of this -- it helps me locate public transportation options and does so in the text format that I need. In addition, it offers several nice features to help me plan my trip:

  • I can specify the desired departure or arrival time.
  • It will show more than one trip choice, allowing some flexibility with respect to when I'd like to start.
  • It estimates the amount of walking required to get to a transit stop/station.
  • It identifies the length of waiting at each transit point.
  • It estimates the comparable cost of transportation options, where available.

But these aren't the only benefits. Behind the scenes is the Google Transit Feed Specification (GTFS), an open data format used by public transit agencies to upload their data. Several agencies are already using these public feeds. Though GTFS is never seen by commuters directly, it opens up a wealth of possibilities with respect to accessibility and alternative access, such as building custom user interfaces and specialized route guidance applications that are optimized for people with special needs.

Though we added this alternative view to enhance the accessibility of Google Maps for blind and low-vision users, we hope that everyone finds it a useful addition to your commute arsenal. So next time you use the Maps graphical interface, give its cousin, the simple textual directions, a try -- there might be times when you find yourself using it even if you can see.

And here's to ever more open data feeds from the various public transport agencies!


URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/public-transit-made-easy.html

Thursday, January 17, 2008

[G] Announcing the new ConversionUniversity.com

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Google Analytics Blog: Announcing the new ConversionUniversity.com

I'm excited to announce that we've just launched an updated version of ConversionUniversity.com, now available in all 25 Google Analytics supported languages. From help on optimizing your AdWords ROI to Google Website Optimizer testing strategies, Conversion University's mission is to offer tips and best practices designed to help you improve your online results.

The latest article by Avinash Kaushik, Five Questions to Ask of Your Site Search Data, is an excellent primer on one of the best ways to understand visitor intent. Conversion University also has pointers to our latest video content on the YouTube Google Conversion University playlist, including full presentations from our Conversion University events. So, go ahead and click a link. It's like talking to an industry guru, one on one!


URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2008/01/announcing-new-conversionuniversitycom.html

[G] Three new languages and a whole new direction for Blogger

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Blogger Buzz: Three new languages and a whole new direction for Blogger

We are excited to announce that Blogger is now available in three more languages: Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian!

Blogger in Hebrew, Arabic, and Persian

Supporting these languages is a huge milestone for us because — unlike the other 37 languages Blogger is translated into — Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew are written from right to left. As you can see from the above screenshot, we had to flip the whole interface around!

Besides localizing the Blogger interface into these three languages, we have right-to-left templates and have added new toolbar buttons for bi-directional text editing in the post editor.

The effort was worth it, however, and we're tremendously happy to be a part of the growing Arabic-, Hebrew-, and Persian-language blogging communities.

Changing your language preferences and settings
To see the Blogger interface in one of these languages, just use the menu on your Dashboard. You can also choose your language on Blogger's homepage and via the "Language" link in the footer of most pages.

From then on, all new blogs you create will default to using your new language choice.

If you need to change the language of an existing blog, just go to Settings > Formatting and select a new language there. Your blog language affects date formatting and other blog text, and, with today's release of Blogger, your blog's comments form as well.

Right-to-left templates
For Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew blogs, we will also rearrange your template to read more logically from right to left. So, a blog that once looked like this:


will now look like this:


Please note that your template won't change if you've customized it with Edit HTML; we wouldn't dare muck with your data! Also, if you're still using a Classic template you will have to upgrade to Layouts in order to take advantage of bidirectional language templates. Learn how.

Bidirectional text editing
We've also added right-to-left and left-to-right buttons to Blogger's post editor. They'll appear if your Dashboard language or your blog's language setting is for a right-to-left language.
Clicking on these buttons will set the paragraph you are currently editing to either right-to-left or left-to-right mode. This way you can write truly bidirectional posts.

Happy rtl-blogging!

URL: http://buzz.blogger.com/2008/01/three-new-languages-and-whole-new.html

[G] Macworld: it's busy here!

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Official Google Mac Blog: Macworld: it's busy here!



Macworld Expo is really rolling now, and the exhibit floor is packed with people. Apple's booth is particularly busy, especially around the hands-on MacBook Air display. The Google booth has been completely jammed most of the time -- at one point yesterday, I was trapped in the booth for 10 minutes by all the people packed around the outside.

Here are some photos from Macworld, taken by Googlers Mark Dalrymple and Mike Morton (roll over for captions):











URL: http://googlemac.blogspot.com/2008/01/macworld-its-busy-here.html

[G] Searching for solutions

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Official Google Blog: Searching for solutions



Just over two years ago, I wrote here that we were taking a broad approach to philanthropy under the umbrella of Google.org. Today Google.org shared its game plan, announcing five core initiatives to help combat climate change, global poverty and emerging threats such as pandemic disease. These initiatives draw upon Google's strengths in access to information and scalable technology. We'll use a range of approaches including grants, investments in for-profits and advocacy, and will continue to tap the experience of Google engineers and other team members.

We're working alongside experienced partners to carry out these initiatives. For example, one of the initiatives is aimed at improving the quality of delivery of basic services, such as education or clean water. In rich countries we take it for granted that clean water comes out when we turn the tap, and our children learn to read when they go to school. But in many countries in the developing world, essential public services are not working, especially for the poor. Governments are investing huge sums -- to the tune of $700 billion -- to provide basic services, but the lack of two-way information flow inhibits the effectiveness of delivery and the ability of communities to hold providers accountable. The Inform and Empower initiative explores ways to bridge that gap. One of our partners is Pratham, a non-governmental organization (NGO) in India that creates the ASER Report, a yearly nationwide survey on education outcomes. Their 2005 report provided data for the first time on basic reading and math skills for children in rural India. The report seeded a national conversation between governments, NGOs and private providers about the state of education and served as a catalyst for change. Our support will help expand their work to other sectors and potentially to other countries.

Please visit Google.org for more information on Inform and Empower and the other initiatives announced today.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/searching-for-solutions.html

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

[G] Google India Women in Engineering Award 2008

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Official Google Blog: Google India Women in Engineering Award 2008



Diversity at Google means having a workforce that reflects the diversity of our customers' perspectives, ideas and cultures -- one that thinks and acts inclusively, and fundamentally values people's similarities and differences. As part of our ongoing commitment to encourage women to excel in computing and technology, the India team has taken our first steps: in December we launched the Google India "Women in Engineering Award" to recognize women in the field of computer science and engineering.

In its inception year, we have extended this award to recognized engineering schools across India; it is open to any woman student in computer science engineering who meets the application criteria. This initiative has been received positively, as has been indicated by the inundating queries and subsequent applications. The last date for applying is January 31st and we are looking forward to hearing from even more applicants.

After our panel reviews all applications, the winners will be announced in a little more than a month, on February 29th. The winners will be invited to visit the Google engineering office in Bangalore during first week of March for a conclave comprising of keynotes, panel discussions, tech talks, breakouts and an award ceremony.

We hope this award will encourage students to take up computer science engineering as their study, and perhaps inspire some of you to take this up as a career too.

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/google-india-women-in-engineering-award.html

[G] Amid violence, Kenyans connect on YouTube

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Google Public Policy Blog: Amid violence, Kenyans connect on YouTube



(Cross-posted from The YouTube Blog)

It's been almost a month since the results of Kenya's presidential election sparked protests and riots in the East African country. When sitting President Mwai Kibaki won over opposition leader Raila Odinga, claims of a rigged result sent hundreds of protesters into the street, sparking tribal warfare and governmental crackdowns on protesters. The violence has killed hundreds of Kenyans and displaced over 350,000 citizens. Today, Odinga called for rallies in 42 locations nationwide, leaving many bracing for more violence.

Just a few months before the election, Kenya's largest broadcaster, NTV Kenya, started a YouTube channel to broadcast news from around Kenya. Though Kenya's third-world economy affords less than 1% of its citizens broadband Internet access, NTV Kenya's YouTube presence has become a critical way for the Kenyan diaspora to connect with what's happening back home. The channel already has almost 3,000 subscribers and is one of the top 100 channels viewed in the last month on YouTube. The channel documents the death and violence, but it also broadcasts the efforts of the international community to rescue the nation from internal strife, as demonstrated by this playlist:



A conversation amongst YouTubers -- Kenyans and others -- has developed over the conflict there, and the National Democratic Institute (a global nonprofit that provides election assistance in Kenya and other fledgling democracies) has started a channel that documents the election efforts in Nairobi and beyond. This video of an election line in Starehe shows just how thirsty Kenyans were on December 27, 2007, to cast their votes:



While Kenya's future is uncertain, YouTube remains a window into the challenges the country faces – in other words, you don't need expensive satellite TV to catch the news from the region or footage of the chaos.

URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2008/01/amid-violence-kenyans-connect-on.html

[G] Team Aquaduct wins Innovate or Die competition

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Official Google Blog: Team Aquaduct wins Innovate or Die competition



The contest said to "Innovate or Die" – and Team Aquaduct lives! In fact, the San Bruno, California team – consisting of John Lai, Adam Mack, Brian Mason, Eleanor Morgan, Paul Silberschatz – is living in grand (prize) style today after winning the first Innovate or Die Pedal-Powered Machine contest.

Team Aquaduct was declared the winner out of 102 entries by building a unique and functional solution to provide rural communities with access to clean water. The quintet will share the $5,000 grand prize, and each will receive a Specialized Globe bicycle – as will all five of the finalist runners-up (read more about all the winners).

The contest encouraged people to evaluate environmental issues and develop ingenious solutions surrounding climate change. Many original and inspiring ideas emerged; make sure to visit the YouTube Innovate or Die page to view all of the entries.

And here's the video for Team Aquaduct's winning pedal-powered water transportation and filtration vehicle:


URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/team-aquaduct-wins-innovate-or-die.html

[G] Google Checkout for political contributions

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Google Public Policy Blog: Google Checkout for political contributions



More and more citizens are making political contributions online, and the newly launched Google Checkout for Political Contributions is an easy and fast way for candidates to collect contributions from supporters and build new online communities by enabling supporters to embed Checkout contribution buttons on their websites, blogs, and social network profiles. If you happen to be running for national office, there's more information (and a quick process to get started) here. We hope this initiative helps bring regular citizens one step closer to the political process.

URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2008/01/google-checkout-for-political.html

[G] Engaging users with policy-compliant images and video

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Inside AdSense: Engaging users with policy-compliant images and video

As it's becoming easier and easier to embed videos and pictures on websites, many publishers are now enhancing their current text content with relevant videos and photos. We wholeheartedly support adding these different forms of content to improve the user experience on your site -- hey, we like watching entertaining YouTube videos too! But here's a friendly reminder about keeping our program policies in mind when you choose video and image content for your site.

Before posting videos or pictures on a page with Google ads, put yourself in an advertiser's position and consider whether you would want to have your ad displayed on the page. If your content might potentially be seen as offensive or disturbing, an advertiser may not be comfortable running their ads on that page. Here are a few specific types of content that you can check for:
  • Adult or mature: Includes, but is not limited to, images and videos containing sexual activity, full nudity, and lewd poses. Please review this recent post to determine whether your content might fall into this category.
  • Violent or gory: Can include images and videos of street-fighting, people hurting each other, or gruesome accidents and their victims.
  • Culturally insensitive or hate speech: Includes content promoting racial intolerance or advocating against a specific individual, group, or organization.
Also, keep in mind that publishers may not place AdSense ads on pages involved in the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials. Unauthorized copyrighted materials include music, movies, images, or any other copyrighted material that the publisher does not own or license from the copyright owner.

The list above is by no means exhaustive, since there are always some borderline cases which will feature content that may be tame to one person but offensive to another. If you're uncertain about specific pictures or videos, we recommend that you err on the side of caution and refrain from placing this content on pages containing Google ads. In addition, if you host a site with user-generated content, we ask that you continually monitor your network to ensure that ads don't appear alongside the types of content described here.


URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2008/01/engaging-users-with-policy-compliant.html

[G] The iGoogle Themes API

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Official Google Blog: The iGoogle Themes API



Since we launched themes on iGoogle last March, we've enjoyed seeing how people have connected with them. For instance, we've gotten fan mail for the "fox in the teahouse" theme, and seen some great blog posts generated when folks discover the Easter egg for each theme.

Users and developers alike have been clamoring to know when they can develop themes for the iGoogle homepage, and we're happy to say that today is the day! Whether you like outer space, cartoons, dogs, or anything else, you can now create your own theme and help personalize iGoogle for millions of people.

The Themes API lets you customize many portions of the iGoogle page. Your theme can also update the page's design based on variables, such as the time of day or location. This makes it easy to create a narrative that unfolds throughout the day, a landscape that changes as the sun rises and sets, or an abstract image that becomes more complex.

Anyone who can build a website can create an iGoogle Theme. We worked with designers Yves Behar, Mark Frauenfelder, Troy Lee, and John Maeda to create some custom iGoogle designs to show some great examples of the types of themes you can create.

Read more on the Google Code Blog and start creating your theme.



Earth-light by Yves Behar, founder of the San Francisco design studio fuseproject

URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/igoogle-themes-api.html

[G] Checkout for Political Contributions

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Official Google Checkout Blog: Checkout for Political Contributions



More and more citizens are making political contributions online, and the newly launched Google Checkout for Political Contributions is an easy and fast way for candidates to collect contributions from supporters and build new online communities by enabling supporters to embed Checkout contribution buttons on their websites, blogs, and social network profiles. If you happen to be running for national office, there's more information (and a quick process to get started) here. We hope this initiative helps bring regular citizens one step closer to the political process.

URL: http://googlecheckout.blogspot.com/2008/01/checkout-for-political-contributions.html

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

[G] More AdWords Seminars coming near you

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Inside AdWords: More AdWords Seminars coming near you

Are you ready to kick-start your AdWords account in 2008? If you'd like to learn more about how to get the most out of your account, we encourage you to check out an AdWords Seminar. These seminars are offered by search marketing professionals who are also Qualified Invididuals in the Google Advertising Professionals program. Sessions have just been added in St. Louis, Miami, Las Vegas, Denver, and San Francisco. Sign up 7 days before the seminar date and we'll even throw in a $50 AdWords advertising credit. (View the terms and conditions of advertising credits.)

You'll find more information about these seminars, including dates, course outlines, and registration instructions at http://www.google.com/awseminars. On the site, you can browse through the schedule of upcoming seminars in the new handy calendar. And of course, if you'd like to be informed when AdWords Seminars become available in your area, simply fill out this form.


URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2008/01/more-adwords-seminars-coming-near-you.html

[G] Google Analytics 101 (Part 1)

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Inside AdWords: Google Analytics 101 (Part 1)

In the past, we've often mentioned Google Analytics as a great tool that helps you learn more about how visitors reach your website and what they do once they get there. But now's a good time to take a step back and talk about how to get started with Google Analytics from the very first step. This will be the first post in a series of "Analytics 101" articles that will walk you through sign up, installation, and using reports.

The WAY Beginning: What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free, hosted web analytics service that provides useful data for website and marketing optimization. Site owners and marketers can make better informed decisions about their sites and campaigns by using metrics from Google Analytics reports. Google Analytics works by collecting information about your site traffic and advertising campaigns, combining this with e-commerce and conversion information to provide insight into the performance of your marketing efforts and site content.

Anyone can sign up using a Google account by visiting http://www.google.com/analytics/. You don't even need to have an AdWords account beforehand.

How do I sign up and install Google Analytics?

After signing up for a Google Analytics account comes the most important part of installation -- the tracking code snippet. Every Analytics user is given a unique piece of JavaScript code to insert in all site pages immediately before the </body> tag. The code snippet may look like something like this example below:

<script type="text/javascript">
var gaJsHost = (("https:" == document.location.protocol) ? "https://ssl." : "http://www.");
document.write(unescape("%3Cscript src='" + gaJsHost + "google-analytics.com/ga.js ' type='text/javascript'%3E%3C/script%3E"));
</script>
<script type="text/javascript">
var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker("UA-#####-#");
pageTracker._initData();
pageTracker._trackPageview();
</script>

(For illustrative purposes only.)

Your "UA-#####-#" number will be unique to you. It's important to insert the code on all of your site's pages; otherwise Analytics won't be giving you the whole picture of what's going on.

If you're not ready to insert the code now, you can always retrieve this code later. Depending on the size of your site and the number of pages you need tagged, you may want to discuss installation with your webmaster, if you have one.

How do I view my reports?

After you've finished signup, you'll be taken to the Analytics Settings page. The Status box on the right side of this page will let you know whether the code has been properly inserted. It's important to note, however, that it takes anywhere from a few hours to a full day after code installation for your reports to start gathering and showing information.

Once the Status box in the Analytics Settings page says that you're receiving data, you can click the View Reports link to receive reports about your website traffic. Like this:



(Click on the image for a full-sized version)

That's it for this first installment of Google Analytics 101. Try playing around with a few reports -- the Analytics interface is specifically designed to be intuitive and "discoverable," so to speak. If you can't wait to learn more, the Analytics Help Center is a great resource for information. Look for the next installment soon, when we'll explain more about administering your account and using your reports.


URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2008/01/google-analytics-101-part-1.html

[G] Lost on Maps

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Google LatLong: Lost on Maps



If you're as excited as I am about the fourth season of Lost, starting on Jan 31, then you might find this Lost fan map very useful for refreshing your memory. It includes all the places mentioned on the show, such as where Sawyer grew up, the flight path of Oceanic 815, and the locations of the Hanso Foundation offices. It also has a ton of interesting trivia. For example, did you know that the characters were lying whenever they mentioned Canada? I never noticed that.



And here are some links to other TV show maps:

Amazing Race 12 - Great map of the current season
Sopranos - Locations that appear on the show
American Idol Geography - Hometowns of past winners
American Idol Season 7 Auditions - Locations of the auditions for the new season
The Faces of Grey's Anatomy - Hometowns of the cast
One Tree Hill Locations - Notable places in the Cape Fear region that have appeared on the show
Veronica Mars filming locations - Parts of Southern California where Veronica Mars was taped

URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2008/01/lost-on-maps.html

[G] Important changes to email deletion on the iPhone mail client

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Official Gmail Blog: Important changes to email deletion on the iPhone mail client



There's a new software update for the iPhone. The next time you sync your iPhone with iTunes, your iPhone will be updated to version 1.1.3 of Apple's software. It has a nice new feature -- the built-in Mail app on the iPhone will now use IMAP to access your Gmail account, rather than POP, like it used to. IMAP is way better -- it keeps your mail in sync wherever you read it. If you read a message on your iPhone, it will be marked as read in your Gmail account. If you move a message to a folder on your iPhone, it will be moved to that label in Gmail. If you delete a message on your iPhone, it will be moved to the Trash in Gmail and permanently deleted in 30 days. This is different than what used to happen! Before, deleting a message on the iPhone had no effect on your Gmail account. But now, delete actually deletes! :)

If you want mail you delete on your iPhone to get archived in Gmail rather than moved to the Trash, you can manually set up IMAP using the "Other" menu option and follow the instructions in the Gmail Help Center or in our instructional video.

If you have already manually configured your iPhone to access Gmail using IMAP via this "Other" menu option, then nothing will change for you, and you're good to go. (When you delete a message on your iPhone, it will get archived in Gmail, not moved to Trash. Just as it always has.)



URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/important-changes-to-email-deletion-on.html

[G] Macworld: it begins

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Official Google Mac Blog: Macworld: it begins



Thousands of people (a.k.a. "the Mac faithful") crowded Moscone Center this morning after waiting in looong lines to watch Steve Jobs start Macworld 2008 with his keynote. Was there something in the air? Oh yes. Among other things, Steve announced:

- MacBook Air, an incredibly thin laptop with a multi-touch trackpad and full-size keyboard and display
- movie rentals at the iTunes Store, which you can watch on the updated Apple TV "Take 2"
- new iPhone software including Google Maps My Location feature, customizable home screen, and more
- new applications for iPod Touch: Google Maps, Mail, Stocks, Weather, and Notes

And now everybody is rushing to Apple's booth on the show floor to see the new goodies (or to the online Apple Store to buy or download them). And speaking of booths, if you're at Macworld, don't forget to visit our booth and say hello.

URL: http://googlemac.blogspot.com/2008/01/macworld-it-begins.html

[G] Sitemaps FAQs

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Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Sitemaps FAQs



Last month, Trevor spoke on the Sitemaps: Oversold, Misused or On The Money? panel at Search Engine Strategies in Chicago. After receiving a lot of great questions at the conference in addition to all the feedback we receive in our Help Group, we've pulled together a FAQ:

Q: I submitted a Sitemap, but my URLs haven't been [crawled/indexed] yet. Isn't that what a Sitemap is for?
A: Submitting a Sitemap helps you make sure Google knows about the URLs on your site. It can be especially helpful if your content is not easily discoverable by our crawler (such as pages accessible only through a form). It is not, however, a guarantee that those URLs will be crawled or indexed. We use information from Sitemaps to augment our usual crawl and discovery processes. Learn more.

Q: If it doesn't get me automatically crawled and indexed, what does a Sitemap do?
A: Sitemaps give information to Google to help us better understand your site. This can include making sure we know about all your URLs, how often and when they're updated, and what their relative importance is. Also, if you submit your Sitemap via Webmaster Tools, we'll show you stats such as how many of your Sitemap's URLs are indexed. Learn more.

Q: Will a Sitemap help me rank better?
A: A Sitemap does not affect the actual ranking of your pages. However, if it helps get more of your site crawled (by notifying us of URLs we didn't previously didn't know about, and/or by helping us prioritize the URLs on your site), that can lead to increased presence and visibility of your site in our index. Learn more.

Q: If I set all of my pages to have priority 1.0, will that make them rank higher (or get crawled faster) than someone else's pages that have priority 0.8?
A: No. As stated in our Help Center, "priority only indicates the importance of a particular URL relative to other URLs on your site, and doesn't impact the ranking of your pages in search results." Indicating that all of your pages have the same priority is the same as not providing any priority information at all.

Q: Is there any point in submitting a Sitemap if all the metadata (, , etc.) is the same for each URL, or if I'm not sure it's accurate?
A: If the value of a particular tag is the same for 100% of the URLs in your Sitemap, you don't need to include that tag in your Sitemap. Including it won't hurt you, but it's essentially the same as not submitting any information, since it doesn't help distinguish between your URLs.
If you're not sure whether your metadata is accurate (for example, you don't know when a particular URL was last modified), it's better to omit that tag for that particular URL than to just make up a value which may be inaccurate.

Q: I've heard about people who submitted a Sitemap and got penalized shortly afterward. Can a Sitemap hurt you?
A: Only if it falls on you from a great height. (Seriously, though: if it ever happened that someone was penalized after submitting a Sitemap, it would have been purely coincidental. Google does not penalize you for submitting a Sitemap.)

Q: Where can I put my Sitemap? Does it have to be at the root of my site?
A: We recently enabled Sitemap cross-submissions, which means that you can put your Sitemap just about anywhere as long as you have the following sites verified in your Webmaster Tools account:
  • the site on which the Sitemap is located
  • the site(s) whose URLs are referenced in the Sitemap
Note that cross-submissions may not work for search engines other than Google. Learn more about Sitemap cross-submissions.

Q: Can I just submit the site map that my webmaster made of my site? I don't get this whole XML thing.
A: There's a difference between a (usually HTML) site map built to help humans navigate around your site, and an XML Sitemap built for search engines. Both of them are useful, and it's great to have both. A site map on your domain can also help search engines find your content (since crawlers can follow the links on the page). However, if you submit an HTML site map in place of a Sitemap, Webmaster Tools will report an error because an HTML page isn't one of our recognized Sitemap formats. Also, if you create an XML Sitemap, you'll be able to give us more information than you can with an HTML site map (which is just a collection of links). Learn more about supported Sitemap formats.

Q: Which Sitemap format is the best?
A: We recommend the XML Sitemap protocol as defined by sitemaps.org. XML Sitemaps have the advantage of being upgradeable: you can start simple if you want (by just listing your URLs), but—unlike a text file Sitemap—you can easily upgrade an XML Sitemap later on to include more metadata. XML Sitemaps are also more comprehensive than an Atom or RSS feed submitted as a Sitemap, since feeds usually only list your most recent URLs (rather than all the URLs you want search engines to know about).

Q: If I have multiple URLs that point to the same content, can I use my Sitemap to indicate my preferred URL for that content?
A: Yes. While we can't guarantee that our algorithms will display that particular URL in search results, it's still helpful for you to indicate your preference by including that URL in your Sitemap. We take this into consideration, along with other signals, when deciding which URL to display in search results. Learn more about duplicate content.

Q: Does the placement of a URL within a Sitemap file matter? Will the URLs at the beginning of the file get better treatment than the URLs near the end?
A: No, and no.

Q: If my site has multiple sections (e.g. a blog, a forum, and a photo gallery), should I submit one Sitemap for the site, or multiple Sitemaps (one for each section)?
A: You may submit as few or as many Sitemaps as you like (up to these limits). Organize them in whatever way you find easiest to maintain. If you create multiple Sitemaps, you can use a Sitemap Index file to list them all. Learn more.

If your question isn't covered here, you can find even more questions and answers in our Sitemaps Help Group.

URL: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/01/sitemaps-faqs.html

[G] New "e" shortcut archives every time

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Official Gmail Blog: New "e" shortcut archives every time



Introducing: shortcut "e." It's a new shortcut key that archives email. You might be thinking, "Doesn't shortcut key 'y' archive email too? Why make a new way to archive?" Well, let me explain. I'm a heavy Gmail user, to say the least--I get 1,000+ emails a day. So to manage it all I have filters that auto-label emails while still showing them in my inbox. Sometimes I read them from my inbox, but many times I click on the label name to pull all of my new mail from a certain category ("label view"). In reading mail from these two views, I noticed a quirky instance where you cannot use shortcut keys to archive email while in label view.

Shortcut "y" archives when you are reading mail from your inbox, but it actually removes the label if you read email from your label view. This is because technically, "y" removes the conversation from the current view. In inbox it removes from inbox, and in label view it removes the label. So to archive in the true sense of the word (removing it from inbox view) in "label view," I had to click the "more actions" drop-down menu and actually hand-select "archive." After enabling shortcuts in Settings, tapping "e" will now archive your message no matter what. No more unnecessary mouse movements for me, and hopefully for you.

URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/new-e-shortcut-archives-every-time.html

[G] Google's Congresswoman pays a visit

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Google Public Policy Blog: Google's Congresswoman pays a visit



Google's "hometown" representative in Congress, Rep. Anna Eshoo, visited the Googleplex Friday for a fireside chat with our CEO Eric Schmidt.

With a good chunk of Silicon Valley in her district (CA-14), Rep. Eshoo has been a tireless advocate for promoting innovation and safeguarding the sort of open Internet that enables companies like Google to thrive. In fact, Eric started the conversation by describing one of his early encounters with Rep. Eshoo -- an Internet radio interview he did with her in 1996 at the Democratic National Convention (he didn't tell her then that they had about a hundred listeners in the audience).

With Google in the constituent seat, our CEO used the opportunity to quiz Rep. Eshoo about some of the tech policy priorities on our plate: the possibility for progress on patent reform this session, the importance of raising the cap on H-1B visas for highly skilled workers, and our shared interest in ensuring the Internet remains a neutral and open platform.

We took the opportunity to celebrate the recent victory in extending the moratorium on Internet taxes -- an issue Rep. Eshoo has championed -- and discussed current trends in technology. It's not very often that you hear a Member of Congress discuss the benefits of cloud computing (more accessible, less expensive), and the importance of crafting Internet policy so that no one "stands in the way of what a consumer wishes to consume and how they wish to use something." We were impressed.

Eric and Rep. Eshoo also touched on the critical role that the next president will play in shaping policy priorities in Washington in coming years, reminding us all of the importance of our participation in the upcoming election (here at Google, we've had lots of reminders of that with our presidential candidate visits to Mountain View and continued efforts to highlight election information through our products ).

With so much going on in Washington these days, of course the conversation spanned lots of other topics, from our strategy in Iraq, to children's health care, to the partisan environment in Congress. Check it out for yourself:




URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2008/01/googles-congresswoman-pays-visit.html

[G] Google's Congresswoman pays a visit

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Google Public Policy Blog: Google's Congresswoman pays a visit



Google's "hometown" representative in Congress, Rep. Anna Eshoo, visited the Googleplex Friday for a fireside chat with our CEO Eric Schmidt.

With a good chunk of Silicon Valley in her district (CA-14), Rep. Eshoo has been a tireless advocate for promoting innovation and safeguarding the sort of open Internet that enables companies like Google to thrive. In fact, Eric started the conversation by describing one of his early encounters with Rep. Eshoo -- an Internet radio interview he did with her in 1996 at the Democratic National Convention (he didn't tell her then that they had about a hundred listeners in the audience).

With Google in the constituent seat, our CEO used the opportunity to quiz Rep. Eshoo about some of the tech policy priorities on our plate: the possibility for progress on patent reform this session, the importance of raising the cap on H-1B visas for highly skilled workers, and our shared interest in ensuring the Internet remains a neutral and open platform.

We took the opportunity to celebrate the recent victory in extending the moratorium on Internet taxes -- an issue Rep. Eshoo has championed -- and discussed current trends in technology. It's not very often that you hear a Member of Congress discuss the benefits of cloud computing (more accessible, less expensive), and the importance of crafting Internet policy so that no one "stands in the way of what a consumer wishes to consume and how they wish to use something." We were impressed.

Eric and Rep. Eshoo also touched on the critical role that the next president will play in shaping policy priorities in Washington in coming years, reminding us all of the importance of our participation in the upcoming election (here at Google, we've had lots of reminders of that with our presidential candidate visits to Mountain View and continued efforts to highlight election information through our products ).

With so much going on in Washington these days, of course the conversation spanned lots of other topics, from our strategy in Iraq, to children's health care, to the partisan environment in Congress. Check it out for yourself:




URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2008/01/googles-congresswoman-pays-visit.html

Monday, January 14, 2008

[G] Back from CES!

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Google Photos Blog: Back from CES!



It's January, and that means, in addition to arguments about who the real football champion is, it's time for the Consumer Electronics Show (or CES, as it's commonly referred to). CES showcases the latest in consumer electronics and what's bound to appear on the shelves of electronics superstores in the coming months and years.

This was an exciting year for Picasa at CES. Last Monday, we were part of Panasonic's keynote presentation. I had a chance to participate in the keynote with Panasonic President, Toshihiro Sakamoto, and fellow Googler Steve Chen (co-founder of YouTube) where Mr. Sakamoto announced Panasonic's VIERAcast, an interface to access YouTube and all of your Picasa Web Albums right in your living room on a big plasma TV. Panasonic also demoed an upcoming camera with wireless network connectivity, complete with integrated access to T-Mobile HotSpots and the ability to send photos directly to Picasa Web Albums. Imagine being able to share photos you've just taken seconds earlier with friends and family right on their TVs!

Research in Motion also provided a sneak peek of their new, soon-to-be-released uploader for those who have Blackberries with integrated cameras. The Picasa Web Albums Uploader for Blackberry will enable fast, easy uploading of photos to Picasa Web Albums. Make sure to sign up for the Blackberry Owners Lounge to get a first crack at this.

All of these products highlight our goal of giving you access to your photo collection wherever you are. We hope to see more announcements like this in the not-too-distant future.

And my favorite products at CES? I'd love to have the 150-inch Panasonic plasma TV that was unveiled (although it would require tearing the roof off of my house), as well as the Nyko wireless nunchuck for my Wii. Equally dazzling were the incredibly thin and elegant Sony OLED TVs and the new Logitech Harmony One remote control.

Can't wait until next year!

URL: http://googlephotos.blogspot.com/2008/01/back-from-ces.html

[G] There's a feed for that?!

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Official Google Reader Blog: There's a feed for that?!

As an engineer on Google Reader, it's always great to hear from users, especially when it's about how Reader has helped out. I was very happy when the team received this email from Gary Patino:

I was having a hard time finding the right job here in Houston. Days would go by without talking to a single recruiter. But then I started using Google Reader to subscribe to custom-made job search feeds for craigslist, and for oodle.com (which already aggregates feeds from thousands of other classified ad websites).

Soon I found myself flying all over the country interviewing for jobs. The employers always pay for the flights, hotels, rental cars, etc. My job hunt became like an exciting vacation! I've been to New York twice, Milwaukee, Austin, Los Angeles, and Miami. I just accepted an offer in Manhattan with a very competitive salary offer. Google Reader saved me a huge amount of time and effort with the job hunt. Thanks guys!

Gary's experience is a great reminder about the power of feeds. Feeds exist for all sort of information beyond blog and news sites and are a great way to receive timely updates. Here are some more examples of these atypical feed uses:

Finance: Both Google Finance and Yahoo! Finance let you get finance news updates for specific companies and stocks, just look for orange "Subscribe" or "RSS" icons in your browser. To receive stock quotes (only for some stocks), you can use NASDAQ's feeds.

Weather: You can get weather updates from The Weather Channel, WeatherBug, or NOAA's National Weather Service.

Classifieds: As Gary mentioned, both craigslist and Oodle.com offer feeds for all of their listings. Just look for the orange "RSS" link at the bottom of any results page -- when you subscribe to a search, for, say, apartments under $1500 in Manhattan, you'll get updates when there are new apartments matching that searchSimilarly, in eBay you can find an RSS link at the bottom of any search page, and in Google Base near the top-right corner.

Package tracking: If you'd like to track packages that have been sent by UPS, FedEx, USPS or DHL/Airborne, you can use isnoop.net's universal package tracking or simpletracking.com.

Social networking: Facebook offers feeds for many of its features; you can see notifications, status updates, and your friends' posted items in Reader, as explained on this page. For those of you that are Twitter fans, you can get RSS feeds for many of its pages.

Shopping: Amazon lets you get feeds for the latest popular products as well as wish lists (look for the orange feed icon). Many other shopping web sites offer feeds, including Yahoo! Shopping, MSN Shopping, and NexTag.

Saved searches: Google Blog Search, Google News and most Yahoo! sites (among others) let you subscribe to search results as feeds. This way, if you want to monitor a topic, you don't have to keep running searches over and over again.

This list of sites is not comprehensive, feeds are finding their way into more and more places. Be on the lookout for the orange feed icon, so that you can save time and keep track of everything that interests you.


URL: http://googlereader.blogspot.com/2008/01/theres-feed-for-that.html

[G] One day to go

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Official Google Mac Blog: One day to go



Monday of Macworld week is a day of anticipation before the show gets rolling. Exhibitors finish setting up, attendees start arriving, and the buzz builds. Locals know to avoid the Macworld traffic jams around Moscone Center (take transit if you can). On the almost-ready show floor, Apple's booth is draped in black, as usual. And you can see Apple's enigmatic teaser banner: "There's something in the air." Well, Macworld is in the air; they're clearly referring to something else. But what? We're all guessing today, but we'll find out tomorrow!

A couple shots from the Google booth under construction:




URL: http://googlemac.blogspot.com/2008/01/one-day-to-go.html

[G] Mapping the campaigns and primaries

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Google LatLong: Mapping the campaigns and primaries


If you've been following the news this month, you're probably aware that the presidential primary season is in full swing. The Internet has provided all sorts of tools to enhance participation in the campaign process, and we've been extremely pleased to discover the ways in which people have been using maps to share information.

One common theme is using maps in one form or another to coordinate meet-ups among supporters of candidates. Here are some API maps showing meeting locations for supporters of John Edwards, Mike Huckabee, and Barack Obama. Supporters also seem to be using maps to showcase their candidate, as in this collection of a staggering number of John Edwards videos from YouTube, and this map of testimionials about Rudy Giuliani from across the country.

Maps have also proved particularly useful for visualizing data, like in this map showing the results for Ron Paul in various straw polls. Or of course the mapplets we've featured that showed real-time results for the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

Maybe you'd like to get involved yourself? Try a search for a candidate's office in the state of an upcoming primary ("john mccain in south carolina" or "obama in nevada," for example) to find local campaign information.


URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2008/01/mapping-campaigns-and-primaries.html

[G] New Gmail for the iPhone

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Official Gmail Blog: New Gmail for the iPhone



We've just released a new look and feel for the mobile version of Gmail on your iPhone. Our goal: make Gmail fit nicely as part of the latest Google on your iPhone experience. This means that we had to make Gmail faster and more fluid.

To do that, we decided to use AJAX--a powerful set of web development techniques that make web pages more responsive. We also implemented two of the coolest and most requested features for this release: pre-fetching and auto-complete. Now when you use Google on your iPhone, Gmail will automatically pre-load all your most recent messages for you. So when you decide to read a message it will be on your screen in a snap.



Address auto-complete is my favorite new feature--and one of the most requested. I wanted to be able to type a full email address in under two seconds on the iPhone. With auto-complete you can often get the right email address on your screen within 2-3 key strokes.



Finally, our user experience designer worked hard to develop a very fluid interface that fits the whole Google experience on the iPhone. These changes take into account that you have to tap the virtual buttons with your finger, so we made sure to size everything appropriately.

To get to Gmail on your iPhone and get the full new Google experience, just go to www.google.com in your web browser, hit the Gmail tab and sign in. Google Apps users with custom domains can also use this new Gmail interface by visiting mail.google.com/a/yourdomain.com. Please leave comments on the Google mobile blog and let us know what you think.

URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/new-gmail-for-iphone.html

[G] Sign up for the Conversion Optimizer online seminar

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Inside AdWords: Sign up for the Conversion Optimizer online seminar

Last week, we announced that the Conversion Optimizer, a free AdWords feature for managing CPA (cost-per-acquisition) bids, was out of beta and available to more advertisers.

We'd like to remind you that the Conversion Optimizer team will be giving a free online seminar tomorrow, January 15th at 10 am PST. This one hour session will cover how the Conversion Optimizer works and how you can use it to get more conversions and improve your ROI. You'll also have the chance to get your questions answered by the team. If you would like to attend, please register here.

If you'd like to learn more about using the Conversion Optimizer, you can also visit the Conversion Optimizer website.


URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2008/01/sign-up-for-conversion-optimizer-online.html

[G] In good (tax) form

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Inside AdSense: In good (tax) form

With tax season looming, we'll begin sending eligible publishers a Form 1099-MISC on January 31st. If you're eligible to receive one, you can expect it to arrive in the mail by the second week of February.

We'll send you this tax form if:
  • You submitted a Form W-9, are not a corporation, and were paid at least US $600 in 2007, OR
  • You indicated that you are subject to backup withholding and had taxes withheld
If you happen to have your earnings reported on this form, keep in mind that payments dated in 2007 will be reported in 2007. This means that unpaid earnings from 2007 that are rolled over to 2008 won't be included. For example, December earnings which are paid in January won't be included as earnings for 2007.

Whether you're new to AdSense or just find it hard to keep tax details straight, please remember that all publishers are responsible for paying any taxes resulting from participating in the AdSense program. We recommend checking your account to ensure your tax information is up to date.


URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2008/01/in-good-tax-form.html