Saturday, February 2, 2008
Since my favorite team, the 49ers, didn't make it to the Super Bowl this year, I'll be rooting for the Patriots this Sunday. But no matter who wins, half the fun of watching the big game is the atmosphere. UrbanTailgate.com has put together a Super Bowl My Map with all the best places to watch the game in New York City. They list over 80 bars holding tailgate parties and point out who's offering Super Bowl specials. So if you're in New York, check it out and find the perfect place to cheer on the home team... or the Patriots!
Friday, February 1, 2008
Google Trends shows you what the world is searching for. Using Google Trends you can see when searches for a particular keyword are most popular as well as the top geographic regions and cities for that keyword. You can even perform comparisons between keywords.
Here we have a trends graph for the searches performed in the United States in 2007 for the keywords flowers, roses, and chocolate. We can see that flowers is more popular around Valentine's Day and most popular around Mother's Day. Roses, on the other hand, sees the biggest surge around Valentine's Day, and just a small bump for Mother's Day. And chocolate has jumps for Valentine's Day and Easter and then starts climbing around Halloween, peaking around Christmas. You can also look at a monthly view to see which days have the most traffic. Knowing this information can help you prepare your campaigns for the additional interest.
Happy Groundhog Day!
Posted by Trevor, Inside AdWords crew
It may be hard to imagine that people working at the BBC ever get downtime on the job, but during a quiet night shift, one employee decided to tinker around with Google Maps. The result? A mashup that shows the locations of BBC bureaus and reporters around the world. If you click on one of the map icons, you can read stories that are generated from that location. You can also find out which specific reporters are covering stories from a particular place and read their work. Being both a maps enthusiast (obviously!) and a bit of a news junkie, using this mashup is a mix of business and pleasure. You can read more about it, or head straight to the map to follow the world's news.
As we recently announced, MacFUSE Core now includes a framework that makes it easy to develop file systems written in Objective-C. I've posted a tutorial that walks you through creating a simple but fun file system using MacFUSE.framework. The file system exports the 11 top-rated YouTube videos with thumbnails and all; you can double-click on them to open up the video in your web browser. This is the same example that I worked through in detail during a recent talk I gave at CocoaHeads. In addition to the talk, there were mind-bending demos of file systems written in Objective-C, such as RunTimeFS and AccessiblityFS. I really enjoyed the CocoaHeads meeting and encourage my fellow Mac developers to attend their local gatherings.
If you have feedback on the tutorial, MacFUSE.framework, or just want to let us know about a cool file system you're working on, feel free to post to the Google Group for MacFUSE.
Urchin 5 remains the current supported production release until Urchin Software from Google comes out of beta. This beta software should only be used for evaluation purposes, and is not recommended for production environments.
Here's what the new version looks like:
Why use Urchin Software?
Urchin is suitable for organizations that have content behind a security firewall or have other restrictions that prevent them from using the Google Analytics service. Urchin is also useful for those who want to perform ad-hoc historical log processing, who want to store their web analytics on local servers, and those requiring third-party data audits. Urchin Software from Google features the following upgrades from Urchin 5, among many others:
• More accurate geo-identification of visitors
• Cross-segmentation options similar to Google Analytics
• E-commerce and campaign tracking included (no longer requiring additional modules)
• Vastly improved embedded scheduler to more easily manage processing and re-processing jobs
• Improved user interface
• More robust log processing engine
You can download a 90-day version of the beta here. Once Urchin Software from Google comes out of beta, you'll be able to purchase it for $2995 through the Urchin Software Authorized Consultants. Please visit the FAQ page on the Urchin site to see details on pricing, previous version upgrading/importing instructions, system requirements, and differences between Urchin and Google Analytics.
Posted by Scott Crosby, Google Analytics Team
Thursday, January 31, 2008
You aren't likely to find your standard potato battery project at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), a project of the Society for Science & the People. Nor will you see many forced volcano eruptions. You're more likely to notice the 1,200 students from across the world coming together to share projects like "FDIS: A Fast Frequency Distribution Based Interpolation Search Algorithm" and "Probing for Cancer with Smart shRNA."
In 2010, the ISEF will return to Silicon Valley, bringing talented young minds together for innovative discussions and projects in San Jose. We're very pleased to be sponsoring this gathering, which will attract promising young minds from more than 40 nations. Since we're committed to engaging talented minds, we will be delighted to give this global community of future scientists the chance to meet and compete. Prizes on offer include more than three million dollars in awards and scholarships, in addition to opportunities for internships and scientific field trips.
It's no surprise that this has been called the "Olympics of science fairs" -- we're excited to see what the next generation of scientists and engineers has to offer! And you may wonder why we're telling you about this now, since 2010 seems far off. Budding scientists who want to compete have a lot to do between now and then. Read more about the participation process.
Next week, most Chinese will be celebrating Chinese New Year with their families. Millions of people in China travel home for this holiday. Because of the crowds, it's extremely difficult to get train tickets during Chinese New Year. I still remember how hard it was for me and my college classmates to get tickets from Shanghai to Harbin. Some of my friends slept at the train station overnight, waiting in line for the ticket windows to open.
However, this year the biggest problem isn't the availability of train tickets, it's the huge snowstorm that's currently affecting the central, southern, and eastern parts of China. It's the worst snowstorm in about 50 years. By now, it is estimated to have caused billions of dollars in damages. Several national highways, airports, and train stations have been closed; tens of thousands of farms have been destroyed; power outages have hit many of the provinces; and thousands of soldiers are working around the clock to clear the snow. Many of the people who want to go home for Chinese New Year are stranded.
The Google Maps team in China has put together a special My Map that shows current weather conditions and the status of China's public transit systems. Click on the train and plane icons to find out whether the train stations and airports are still selling tickets, and whether the stations are currently open or closed. You can also get information on which trains have stopped operation, the number of passengers stalled in the stations, and instructions on how to get your tickets reimbursed.
If you have information that you'd like the Maps team to include, please email us.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
"Welcome! You're signed in to Google Accounts under the email [your email address] and your Google Account password, but this is not a valid AdSense login."We've heard that there's been confusion among publishers about this login error message -- especially if you're absolutely positive that you've used the correct email address when logging in. (And 99.9% of the time, this is the case.) To help you access your account, we'd like to provide you with some clarification and tips for troubleshooting.
If you're seeing this error message, this means your AdSense account shares the same login and password as a Google Account, but the two accounts are not linked. As a result, when you try logging in at www.google.com/adsense, our system will only grant you access to your Google Account -- not your AdSense account. To resolve this issue, you'll need to maintain two separate passwords.
The easiest way to proceed is to first ensure that you're logged out of Google Accounts for any other products you use, such as Gmail or AdWords. Then, change your AdSense password at https://www.google.com/adsense/assistlogin. You'll be asked to submit your login email address to us, and we'll then send a reset link to that address. When changing your AdSense password, please be sure to select a unique password that you're not using with any other Google product. After you've changed your AdSense password, please try logging in again at www.google.com/adsense.
We understand that this is inconvenient, and we apologize for the confusing situation. We're working on migrating all AdSense accounts over to Google Accounts, and in the meantime, we appreciate your patience.
Posted by Arlene Lee – AdSense Publisher Support
Broadband deployment in the U.S. is at best disappointing and at worst a crisis. The United States lags behind other countries in broadband uptake per capita, ranked 15th in the latest Organisation for Economic Co‐operation and Development (OECD) data. While consumers in Sweden and Japan are starting to zoom ahead with 20 and even 90 megabit/second connections delivered over fiber connections, U.S. consumers pay more for less, with only DSL and cable available in most markets. Some rural areas lack broadband altogether.
At a pre-conference yesterday before the "State of the Net" in Washington, D.C., the nonprofit association EDUCAUSE released a thoughtful proposal for how to achieve a better broadband future:
Though some dispute how bad U.S. consumers have it, everyone can agree that the U.S. can – and should – do much better. Deploying faster, universal, and ubiquitous broadband is essential to sustaining the Internet as an engine for economic growth, innovation, and social discourse. Whether or not one agrees with EDUCAUSE's particular strategy, the paper demonstrates that a clear, concerted national broadband strategy of some kind is required to reach that bigger, better broadband future.
You can read the whole paper here.
Since we added IMAP access to Gmail in October, we've heard from a number of Windows Mobile users that their Gmail IMAP experience wasn't great -- some were receiving blank messages and others could read headers but not entire messages. There are a lot of email clients out there, each with its own quirks, so making IMAP work across all of them can be tricky. We've worked with Microsoft engineers to debug the incompatibilities with Windows Mobile and made some tweaks to our code. As some people have already noticed, these fixes went out last week, so you should now have a better experience reading and sending Gmail messages using IMAP from your Windows Mobile device. If you haven't yet set up IMAP, just follow the configuration instructions to get started.
We have received valuable feedback about the process of specifying tax in your cart posts, especially when using Buy Now buttons. That's why we are very excited to release our new "Tax Rules" feature, found under the 'Settings' tab. From here you can specify default tax rates that will be used when your cart posts lack tax information.
For those of you who rely mostly on Buy Now buttons, it is easy to charge tax on your items with these new settings in place. And for those of you who post shopping carts that already contain tax information, you can choose to use this account setting instead.
Thanks to everyone who brought this issue to our attention. We're always on the lookout for feedback like this, so please keep it coming.
PS: In case you weren't aware, there's another way to specify shipping and taxes in your Buy Now buttons: Simply add the few lines of code shown below to your Buy Now button snippet (just don't forget to modify this example code to reflect your actual shipping and taxes).
<input type="hidden" name="ship_method_name_1" value="UPS Ground"/>
<input type="hidden" name="ship_method_price_1" value="10.99"/>
<input type="hidden" name="tax_rate" value="0.0875"/>
<input type="hidden" name="tax_us_state" value="NY"/>
We on the Mac team love code. Nothing helps as much as some working sample code when you're trying to get something done -- well, maybe with the exception of some working code that you can use within your own projects. To that end, we're happy to release Google Toolbox for Mac as a new open source project. This joins the Google Data APIs Object-C Library as code available under the Apache license so you can use it in your own projects.
This first release is a little eclectic. It starts with some simple utilities that we seem to need in just about every project, helpers for graphical things and for building unittests. In time, we'll add more utilities, more interesting and complex classes, and other interesting stuff.
So please join the discussions for comments, suggestions, and other things you'd like to see. And happy coding!
There's a lot to discover in Google Maps: addresses, businesses, points of interest, user maps, and even photos, books, and videos. To help sift through all of this, we've added a new search option that will help you find exactly what you want. Check out the new "show search options" link near the search box. Following this link will add a drop-down menu with three options for refining your search:
- Locations - Search only addresses, places of interest or other location names. For example, searching for "storm" will bring you to the city of Storm, Finland.
- Businesses - Search only businesses. Searching for "storm" over San Francisco will show you businesses with storm in their name.
- User-created content - Search maps created by users in Google or anywhere on the web. Searching for "storm" over San Francisco will show some interesting photos from the stormy week we had in San Francisco last month.
To help discover even more great content in Google Maps, we are now showing local listings and user-created content for frequently visited points of interest. For example, try searching for the Empire State Building and check out all the results!
The newest localized version of Google Finance, geared to the UK and targeted specifically for British investors is now live. You can access stock prices, mutual funds, financial news, blogs, and charts, all through our easy-to-use and familiar interface. Here are some highlights:
- Search with a preference for UK companies and mutual funds.
- Google News integration – With a preference for news from British sources. The news is organized in groups by news topic, rather than listed by date, so you won't have to scroll through multiple headlines for the same news story.
- Interactive Charts – Map market data with corresponding news stories in a single interactive chart, so you can track news to stock performance. You can also click and drag on the charts to see different time periods, and zoom in for more detailed information.
- Front page market summary with FTSE indices and British pound exchange rates.
- Blogs – Incorporates blog postings for related company information from Google Blog Search.
- Discussion Groups – High quality discussion forums are part of the service. We have a team of folks dedicated to keeping the conversation experience free of spam and irrelevant posts.
- Portfolios – A fast and easy way for you to create and track portfolios of stocks and mutual funds in the currency of your choice.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Please feel free to leave comments on this blog or send us email through the Help Center requesting new features. While we can't respond to them all individually, don't feel that they are being ignored; your feedback has a huge impact on how we prioritize our work.
To all my china plates back in the UK -- enjoy.
In the past, our system would ask you to verify your information when your earnings reached $50. However, we've recently changed the threshold to $10. This lowered amount means many of you may see a PIN arrive in your mailbox soon, as well as a prompt in your account to verify your phone number. For more information about these holds, visit the links in the 'Required Actions' box on your Payment History page.
(Psst: If your all-time earnings are between $10 and $50, this might be a good time to learn all about PINs so you'll know what to expect. Or, if you prefer surprises, you can remain blissfully ignorant till a PIN mailer pops up in your mailbox. Just be sure you don't pitch it in the trash!)
Posted by Julie Beckmann - AdSense Publisher Support
First off, this update is only for those of you who write or run Greasemonkey scripts. If you don't have any third-party extensions installed or don't know what we're talking about, you can ignore this post.
Ok... looks like some of you are still reading.
If you're the author of a Gmail Greasemonkey script, you should be able to work around the update by changing the window object used -- Mihai P. posted an update to his Macros script on Friday. If you are accessing the "gmonkey" object via a different mechanism, then you can reference it using top.js.gmonkey for now, and an update will be pushed this week that creates an alias in the main window's context.
If you're looking for an easy way to let us know what new features you'd like in Google News, look no further. Today, we're launching a new feature request form that will make this process a lot easier. We tried to include many of the most popular and interesting features that people have suggested. Whether it's a new standard section or new search functionalities, we want to know what's important to you when you're using Google News. You can select up to 5 choices from this form and if the feature you want is not listed, suggest it with the "I have another idea" box at the bottom of the page. We'll use your ideas to help inform us about what changes to make to News in the coming months.
And for the entire News team, I'd like to thank you for all the feedback you've given us over the years. We hope the form will make this process easier for you to send in your suggestions. Stay tuned to find out which new features are coming soon.
If you have a higher-end digital camera, you've probably seen an option to capture images in RAW format instead of the more-familiar JPG. You might also have noticed that the release notes for recent Picasa releases often refer to "additional RAW support" for new camera models.
So what's it all about? The RAW image format is a newer alternative to the venerable JPG file format, and offers some technical advantages. If you're the sort of photographer who's always looking for the best possible image quality, and often spends time in a photo editor to make your images look absolutely perfect, you may well find that RAW is worth a try.
That said, many photo enthusiasts will argue that JPG already delivers what most photographers need, and that mucking about with RAW is generally not necessary. It's certainly true that JPG is more convenient, and it has near-universal support – two important considerations.
So which format should you use? It really depends on the user. To help you make a better-informed decision, here's a three-minute primer on RAW.
RAW vs. cooked
To run with an obvious metaphor, the difference between RAW and JPG is like the difference between an uncooked take-n-bake pizza and a piping-hot pie from the same pizza place. When you order a take-n-bake pizza, you theoretically have more control over the finished product, since you're the one fiddling with the oven. And should you want to make little adjustments to your pizza beforehand – like redistributing pepperoni slices before cooking – you can do so without making a mess of the cheese and other toppings.
And so it is with camera RAW. A RAW file gives you data from your digital camera's sensors exactly as it recorded the scene, before the camera 'cooks' any post-processing into the image file. This gives you more freedom to adjust and correct the image. With a RAW photo editor, you can change things like white balance, brightness, and contrast without negatively impacting image quality. Once you've adjusted your RAW photo to be pixel-perfect, you'll still need to convert it into a compressed JPG to share it on the web.
A camera-native JPG file, in contrast, is processed by your camera, which decides what the appropriate white balance and color saturation should be, based on your camera settings. The color bit depth is reduced, the picture is compressed, and so on, giving you a picture that's immediately ready to view and share on the web. Unfortunately, the JPG compression process is fundamentally irreversible, so subsequent changes to things like white balance will have negative effects on image quality. (JPG compression is particularly hard on the blue channel, so if you mess around with white balance too much, you'll get color or spatial artifacts in your photos.)
RAW produces the camera's highest-possible-quality image but delivers it to you in an unprocessed state. This means you have to process it on your computer. Now, presumably you're going to do a slightly better job than your camera would have done, but hey, it's still work that a machine could be doing for you.
It's also worth pointing out that you'll need the right tools for the job. Although Picasa's RAW support will do a great job of helping you organize and share RAW-formatted files on your computer, Picasa doesn't support super-sophisticated editing of RAW files. For this, you'll need to use either the software that came with your camera, or purchase advanced photo-editing applications, like Aperture or Lightroom.
Additionally, each camera manufacturer has their own version of RAW: Nikon users know it as .NEF (Nikon Electronic-Image Format); Canon users have CR2 (Canon RAW 2); Olympus uses ORF (Olympus RAW Format); while Panasonic just uses RAW. Finally, Adobe has an open standard called DNG. The fact that there's no single, universal RAW specification makes it harder for photo editors and other applications to support every variant of RAW.
Lastly, don't forget size and portability. RAW files are much larger than even the highest-quality JPG your camera will produce, taking up more of your camera's and computer's storage space. They're also slower to work with. And if you want to share a RAW file on the web, you'll have to convert it to JPG first.
When shooting keepsakes and casual snaps, shoot in JPG mode but remember to pay attention to the camera's white balance setting. You'll be happy that the files are smaller, look pretty enough to save in an album, and that you didn't spend hours processing them. If the images are important enough to warrant the post-production time (say, a wedding or a once-in-a-lifetime trip) or if you find yourself in a difficult lighting situation, shoot RAW. You'll get the best possible quality, and you'll have a little more freedom when editing. But remember, the advantages of RAW only come into play when you're willing to sink a little time into processing the images.
We know that the last thing teachers have is tons of free time to spend learning about new teaching tools. That's why I'm thrilled to point out some new YouTube video tutorials that offer up basic tricks for using Google Earth and can serve as inspiration for lesson plans. While any new user (and even some of our old hands!) can appreciate these helpful hints, it's our hunch that educators will find them particularly useful. Here's a look at one of the videos in the series:
These short clips (there are 5 total) will walk you through some of the most popular features in Google Earth. Whether it's navigating, searching, marking locations, obtaining coordinates, or geotagging photos, you'll be able to get started in no time at all. More videos are in the works, and, of course, the Google Earth User Guide is also a great training resource. We hope that you'll soon be developing and sharing your own educational content just like these awesome literary field trips!
Monday, January 28, 2008
You can add search to your site too. Providing a search box on your site on your site and tracking how people use it is one of the best ways we know of to understand visitor intent. Read this article if you want to learn more about how to leverage the information you get from Google Analytics Site Search reporting. Or, watch this video.
If you are looking for a search box to put on your site, you might consider using the Google Custom Search Engine (both free and paid versions are available).
Posted by Alden DeSoto, Google Analytics Team
A few months ago, we released a reporting feature that enabled you to easily review and download previous orders. Initially accessible only from the seller interface, this feature is now also available to API users. With the Order Report API, you can download a list of Google Checkout orders into a comma-separated file. The API will return a list of orders for a period of up to 31 days, and you can limit results to orders that have specific financial or fulfillment order states.
As always, we are interested in hearing your feedback so please let us know we can make the merchant experience event better.
Introducing experimental views for search results
There have been a lot of recent improvements to web search, but the appearance of results themselves has been pretty constant -- 10 or so web pages in a vertical list. Frequently this is exactly the right format, but for some searches you need more options and more control. That's why we've created our experimental search page to let you try out some of our newest ideas.
You may have noticed our "alternative views" experiment showcased last May. This lets you visualize your search results in new ways, and we'd like to highlight some of the features we've recently added.
Suppose you're scouring the web trying to find out about biology conferences happening in your state. Or you'd like to sit back and enjoy some jazz around town. This information is on the web and accessible through regular web search, but probably spread out over many sites and pages. Unless one of these pages has a map, it might be hard to visualize all the locations at once. Map view solves this problem by plotting some of the key locations contained in your web results onto a map.
After scrolling or zooming the map, try clicking on the "Update Results" button near the top left corner of the map to show more results just in the area you're looking at.
Timeline view does the same thing as map view, but for dates found on the web. This includes dates of upcoming or historic events, or even biographical information -- all generated automatically from your search results.
The graph across the top of the page summarizes how dates in your results are spread through time, with higher bars representing a larger number of unique dates. Click anywhere on the graph to zoom in to that particular period of time, and use the text box to the right to specify any range of years, months, or days. Much as in map view, the results below the graph emphasize the dates contained on each page.
Info view is a bit different. It doesn't dramatically change the visualization of results; web pages are still displayed vertically as usual. Now you'll notice a new control panel on the right side of the page:
Clicking on the different options in the panel changes the information shown below each result. Usually we show some text from the page that includes a few of the words you searched for. Now you can instead reveal text containing dates, locations, measurements, or images. For example, selecting "dates" from the control panel reveals the date of the Sputnik launch in the first result for "space exploration":
And selecting "images" from the control panel displays some nice images from the page:
If you run a search and find many of your results are looking similar, try using info view. It may highlight the differences between results and help you select the best page for your needs.
Tell us what you think
You can opt in to the alternative views experiments so they become your main search UI -- as well as try out many other new search tools -- on the experimental search page. After opting in, send us feedback by clicking on the experiment name in the upper right part of the search page and selecting "Take our survey". We'd love to hear your thoughts!
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Millions of people around the world already use Blogger to participate in the wider Internet community. Blogging is a powerful way for people to publish online, reach a large and varied audience, and communicate with others who share their interests. And today, Blogger is available in Arabic, Persian, and Hebrew. This brings the number of languages we offer to 40. We've been really excited about adding these languages and widening the world of bloggers.
We're especially pleased that Blogger now supports composing text and displaying blogs right to left. This has long been an challenge for bloggers in Hebrew, Persian, and Arabic. We've added new features specifically for these users, and also made sure every page of the Blogger application displays right-to-left in these languages. This project has been very technically challenging, but among the most thrilling I've ever worked on. I hope that everyone enjoys using it as much as I've enjoyed developing it.