Saturday, March 28, 2009

[G] Best in Jest Is Back

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YouTube Blog: Best in Jest Is Back

There are a lot of ways to discover comedy content on YouTube: browsing the comedy category , subscribing to comedy channels, exploring the related video suggestions when watching comedy videos, and tracking friend activity are just some ideas. Indeed, exploring the site can be half the fun. But sometimes it's nice to kick back and find a collection of guaranteed funny stuff all in one place. That's where Best in Jest comes in. It's a destination for videos from some of our favorite comedy partners, presented by Observe and Report, the new movie from Warner Brothers, starring Seth Rogen.

Best in Jest contains top-shelf comedic content from channels like TheOnion,
barelypolitical, blamesocietyfilms and waverlyflams in a special player. You can also check out a playlist that includes some man-on-the-street interviews with stars like Seth Rogen, captured by YouTube user eyestoobright at the movie's world premiere. Nice catch, "eyes"!

We'll be adding more clips to Best in Jest over the next week, so come back often.


Mark Day

YouTube Comedy

Friday, March 27, 2009

[G] Just to clarify...

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Official Google Docs Blog: Just to clarify...

Yesterday, a researcher publicly reported some concerns with Google Docs. At Google, we treat the privacy and integrity of our users' data with the highest priority. We quickly investigated, and we believe that these concerns do not pose a significant security risk to our users. If you want the details, read on...

The first concern that the researcher raised is that an image embedded in a document is not deleted when a document is deleted. Images are maintained because removing them would break image references in users' other Google documents and external blogs. In addition, image URLs are known only to users who have at some point had access to the document the image is embedded in, and could therefore have saved the image anyway (which is fully expected). You can always contact support to purge images from your account.

The second concern that the researcher raised is that viewers may be able to see revisions of drawings that are included in a document, using the new "Insert Drawing" feature. The ability for document collaborators to view revision history is a feature built into Docs. The ability to view past versions of the drawings is limited to authorized persons who have been given explicit access to the document with the embedded drawing. We may consider explicitly preventing viewers from accessing drawing revisions. For now, if document owners decide they don't want viewers to have access to their revisions, they can simply make a new copy of the document (from the File menu) and share that new version. The revision history of both the document and all embedded drawings is removed in copies of documents.

The final concern that the researcher raised is that users removed from documents can, in a specific case, regain access to them. The specific case is related to the use of a feature which allows document invitations to be forwarded to more than one person. That feature was provided in response to user requests for "invitation forwarding" and sharing documents with email lists. Invitations sent using this feature contain a special key on the document link. This feature can be disabled at any time to expire previously distributed invitations which contain that special key. To do this, simply disable this feature by unchecking it (in documents and presentations, it's called "invitations may be used by anyone" and in spreadsheets it's "editors can share this item").

We have begun adding more documentation in the Help Center here and here to describe in more detail the functions related to each concern. We are also exploring alternative design options that might further address the concerns.
We'd like to thank the researcher for sharing his concerns with us. We always welcome your feedback on our products, and thank you for your continued support.

Posted by: Jonathan Rochelle, Product Manager, Google Docs

[G] Local news in more places

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Google News Blog: Local news in more places

Posted by Hicham Alaoui, Associate Product Marketing Manager

Last year we announced the launch of local news in the U.S., and this week we launched this feature of Google News to users in the UK, India, and Canada.

Local news sections let you keep track of current events in your area. We analyze every word in every story to understand what location the news is about and where the source is located. The top stories for a given area will be at the top of your results, and our rankings also take into account a publication's location to promote local sources for each story.

To get started, look for the local section on your front page and enter your city, state, or postal code in the local search bar, shown here:

If you don't see this section, you can also set up your local news by clicking "Personalize this page" on the top right of the page. On the menu that comes up, click "Add a local section":

Once you've clicked the link, you'll see a place to enter a postal code or city. Use the drop-down menu to choose the number of stories you'd like to see. To finish, click "Add Section" and you'll see this local section on your personalized Google News page.

As always, we're working to improve our product, and we appreciate your feedback.

[G] Shhh...testing in progress

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Google Finance Blog: Shhh...testing in progress

Posted by Ayan Mandal, Product Manager

Over the course of the next few weeks, you might notice a few changes to Google Finance. We will be running some experiments on the look and feel of our site, based on an accumulation of user research and feedback. They will only be visible to a small number of random Google Finance users. (In case you're wondering, experiments are selected randomly, so we can't give you any advice for how to get in!)

It's pretty normal for us to run this kind of test, as we're always working to improve the experience of using Google Finance . In fact, experiments like these are a cornerstone of Google's development process - here's a post on the Official Google Blog explaining this practice for our search results.

[G] Higher Education for All

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YouTube Blog: Higher Education for All

Earlier this week, we announced the launch of YouTube EDU (, a hub for videos from over 100 of our leading university and college partners. Think campus tours, news about cutting-edge research, and lectures by professors and world-renowned thought leaders. There are also 200 full (and free!) courses, in a range of subjects, from some of the world's most prestigious universities, including IIT/IISc, MIT, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and Yale.

There are over 20,000 videos on YouTube EDU and growing. Here are some gems to get you started:

  • * As your mind expands, learn exactly what's going on with "Building the Brain: From Simplicity to Complexity" from UC San Diego, presented on UCtv, University of California Television:

  • * Move over Free Hugs; here are the Free Compliments Guys from Purdue University:

  • * And here is the late Professor John Hope Franklin, scholar of African-American history at Duke University, on Obama's election:

  • So if you want to know what college is like, have graduated but are a lifelong learner, or are just wondering how someone else teaches a subject that you're studying, here's your chance to find out. What’s more, this is all available on your terms -- you can learn at your own pace, in the comfort of your own environment, and there are no tests required.

    We will be adding new universities and colleges over time and will let you know in this blog when there's a good amount of new stuff to check out. If you're interested in launching an official YouTube channel for your school, please fill out the YouTube EDU Partner Interest Form.

    Happy Learning,

    Obadiah Greenberg

    Strategic Partnerships Team

    The YouTube Team

[G] The 2009 Spelman College CS Olympiad

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Official Google Blog: The 2009 Spelman College CS Olympiad

We've just sponsored the Seventh Annual Spelman College Computer Science Olympiad for the third consecutive year — something we were proud to do as part of our commitment to supporting computer science education and encouraging talented students from diverse backgrounds. This year, 22 teams from 12 Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) or Association of Computer/Information Sciences and Engineering Departments at Minority Institutions (ADMI) participated in the Olympiad.

One of the five events was the programming challenge, which for the second time was a Google Gadgets competition. Their task? To build an interactive, useful, and creative Google Gadget. Teams worked on their gadget concept and design prior to the Olympiad, and then brought their gadgets to a Friday night hack session, where Googlers and students worked together to debug the gadgets and make last-minute adjustments. At the conclusion of the workshop, teams presented their gadgets to a panel of three Googler judges, demonstrating gadget functionalities, discussing design challenges, and providing suggestions for how they would further refine their gadgets. Our judges were then faced with the tough task of deciding upon the winners:
  • First Place: Hampton University "2011"
  • Second Place: University of the District of Columbia "Firebirds"
  • Third Place: Norfolk State University "Green"
Here's a look at Hampton University's first place gadget, a rendering of a game akin to tic-tac-toe called "Do Not Want."

Congratulations to all 22 teams!

Posted by Anna Davda, University Programs Specialist

[G] Calling all webmasters

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Google Chrome Blog: Calling all webmasters

We recently posted some handy tips for webmasters and web developers on how to help make their sites look great in Google Chrome.

If you work on web sites, you'll want to take a look at the post and give your site a run through with Google Chrome.  If you're interested in more information, check out our support resources for webmasters or the Google Chrome webmaster forum.

We're constantly working to improve website compatibility, but we'd love your help!  If you run across compatibility bugs while testing your site in Google Chrome, please let us know.

Posted by Glenn Wilson, Product Manager

[G] DrupalCon DC

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Google Open Source Blog: DrupalCon DC

Dmitri Gaskin speaking at DrupalCon DC, photo by kcolwell

Hello World! I'm Dmitri Gaskin , I'm 13 years old, and a Drupal Developer. I was a mentor for Google Highly Open Participation™ Contest in late 2007 (I was too young to actually participate in the contest, having just turned 12), a mentor for Google Summer of Code™ in 2008 , and will return to mentor Google Summer of Code in 2009.

Drupal is a Content Management System with an awesome community behind it. I've been a member of the Drupal community for a bit over 3 years. I've written patches for Drupal core (what you get when you get when you download "Drupal") and for many modules (Drupalspeak for "add-ons"). I've built some small sites with Drupal, but I usually contribute back more that I actually use it and that's fine by me - with such an amazing community, contributing is fun.

Earlier this month, Google's Open Source team sponsored my attendance at DrupalCon DC. DrupalCon is Drupal's official twice-yearly conference. This year was amazing! With over 1400 people and over 100 sessions, it was the largest DrupalCon ever. I presented a session on jQuery and co-presented sessions on Installation Profiles and the Intro to SimpleTest. Probably the best part of the conference for me was meeting so many people in person who I had only known over IRC or in Drupal's Issue Queues.

I attended sessions on a variety of subjects, including API building, semantic web, and usability testing, among other things. I even managed to squeeze some time in to practice the piano at the University of D.C. One theme I noticed during the conference (however I was one of the first to talk about it at the conference so it may be partially my fault) was how to improve the install system of Drupal. The current system is less than ideal, so we tried to think of ways to fix it (Hint: it's not easy and we still aren't 100% sure of what the best solution is).

Overall, DrupalCon DC was a lot of fun and I'll do all I can to attend the next DrupalCon (although the dates conflict with school and I'll be going to a new school next year). I am really grateful to Google for helping to make it possible for me to attend.

By Dmitri Gaskin, Drupal Developer

[G] YouTube Nonprofit Raises $10,000 in One Day Using Overlay Ads

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YouTube Blog: YouTube Nonprofit Raises $10,000 in One Day Using Overlay Ads

This week, we launched a new "Call to Action" feature for YouTube's nonprofit partners, which allows them to use InVideo overlays to drive traffic to an off-YouTube web page, where they can collect signatures, email addresses, or even donations. Already, we're seeing nonprofit organizations use this new feature with great success.

On Sunday, to commemorate World Water Day, we featured a video from charity:water on the YouTube homepage. The video included a Call to Action overlay that encouraged YouTube users to donate money to help build wells and provide clean, safe drinking water for those who don't have it.

The response from the YouTube community was overwhelming -- thanks to you, charity:water was able to raise over $10,000 in one day from the video. That's enough to build two brand-new wells in the Central African Republic and give over 150 people clean drinking water for 20 years!

Feeling inspired? If you're a YouTube nonprofit partner, adding a Call to Action overlay is easy. Just go to "Edit Video" and fill out the fields in the section marked "Call to Action overlay." All you have to do is include a short headline, ad text, a destination url, and upload an optional image, and the overlay will appear whenever someone watches your video.

If you're a nonprofit organization in the U.S. or U.K. who hasn't yet joined the YouTube Nonprofit Program, but would like to gain access to Call to Action and other special benefits, you can apply now at


Ramya Raghavan

YouTube Nonprofits & Activism

[G] Sunsetting video units feature

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Inside AdSense: Sunsetting video units feature

As you may know, we frequently review our products and features to ensure their effectiveness. After reviewing our AdSense video units feature, which allows you to show YouTube content and ads on your pages, we've found that it hasn't had the impact we had hoped for. As a result, we've decided to retire this feature at the end of April so we can focus our resources on other opportunities to help publishers earn from their sites.

If you'd still like to display video content from YouTube, you can do so through directly. Visit any specific video page and look for the code in the 'Embed' box, or sign in to your YouTube account to create a playlist. In addition, please note that this change won't affect the availability of other video-related ads options -- video ads may appear in your AdSense for content ad units if you've opted into image ads, and AdSense for video is still accepting applications from eligible publishers who produce video content.

Starting today, the option to sign up for video units is no longer available to new publishers. If you're currently displaying video units, we recommend that you start removing the video unit code from your pages as soon as possible so you can optimize your available ad space in advance. Please be assured that any earnings you've generated from video units in the past will still be credited to your AdSense account.

Once video units are retired at the end of April, any remaining Leaderboard or Skyscraper video units on your pages will direct users to, while other video unit sizes will automatically be changed to standard embedded YouTube players. These standard video players will display top YouTube videos, but you won't generate earnings from them once this change occurs. If you have less than three ad units on your page, you may prefer to replace your video unit with a regular ad unit.

We appreciate your patience and understanding as we continue to develop our products.

Posted by Arlene Lee - Inside AdSense Team

[G] An hour for the Earth

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Official Google Blog: An hour for the Earth

Cities around the world will participate in Earth Hour on Saturday, turning off their lights to raise awareness for energy conservation.

You might remember that last year we “turned the lights out” on the homepage during Earth Hour to symbolize our own commitment to sustainability. We won’t be turning out the lights on our homepage again this year. Our users come first, and while we received lots of enthusiastic feedback last year, some found an all-black to be a little confusing. (Also, darkened screens don’t actually save energy — modern displays use the same amount of power regardless of what they display.) We are actively supporting this year's Vote Earth, an Earth Hour 2009 initiative to gather one billion words to present at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December of this year. Participants can share their opinions about climate change through the Earth Connect social platform which incorporates Google tools including Google Maps, App Engine, Friend Connect, Google Translate, Blogger and Feedburner.

After all, Earth Hour is about more than dimming lights; it’s about making a commitment to reduce energy consumption throughout the year. At Google, we take this commitment seriously and over the past twelve months we’ve worked hard to reduce Google’s own power use and to help others reduce theirs:
Google will continue to work hard this year to be as green as possible as a company, and we encourage others to take an hour on Saturday and commit to the Earth too. For some great ideas on ways you can save energy every hour of every day through computing efficiency, check out Climate Savers Computing Initiative and their recent video challenge: “Power Down for the Planet.”

Posted by Bill Weihl, Green Energy Czar

[G] Dhani Jones loves YouTube Sports

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YouTube Blog: Dhani Jones loves YouTube Sports

NFL linebacker Dhani Jones is a true sportsman. When he's not tackling ball carriers for the Cincinnati Bengals, he's hosting a new show on YouTube partner Travel Channel in which he travels around the world playing interesting, unusual global sports. So far he's tried his hand at Muay Thai Kick Boxing, Hurling, Schwingen (Swiss wrestling), throwing a giant rock and being thrown from a horse. On his YouTube channel, he's got some exclusive content and a playlist of his favorite sports on YouTube.

Now he's looking for inspiration from the YouTube Community:

What interesting sports do you play? Why do you love your sport? Let Dhani know as a response to this video before April 6th.

Play on!

Andrew Bangs

YouTube Sports

Thursday, March 26, 2009

[G] Why Googlers attend the Internet Identity Workshop

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Google Online Security Blog: Why Googlers attend the Internet Identity Workshop

Posted by Eric Sachs, Senior Product Manager, Google Security

Google’s participation in the Internet Identity Workshop (IIW) has grown from a few lone individuals at its founding in 2005 to fifteen Googlers at the last IIW. The reason for this growth is that as Google has started to provide more APIs and developer tools for our application hosting business, we have found that standards and interoperability for identity and security on the Internet are critical.  Our engineers attend to discuss standards such as OAuth, OpenSocial, OAuth, SAML, Portable Contacts, as well as longer term trends around discovery, malware, phishing, and stronger authentication.  Another major topic is the usability of these technologies, which we summarized in a blog post after the last IIW.

We hope that other companies and individuals working in these areas will register to attend IIW 2009a and start building momentum for another great event.  If you attended either the Facebook hosted UX summit in Feb 2009 or the Yahoo hosted UX summit in Oct 2008, you can join in further discussions on those topics at the upcoming IIW.

Google attendees: Dirk Balfanz, Nathan Beach, Breno de Medeiros, Cassie Doll, Brian Eaton, Ben Laurie, Kevin Marks, John Panzer, Eric Sachs, and more to come

[G] Beta expansion: Try the new AdWords interface

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Inside AdWords: Beta expansion: Try the new AdWords interface

Back in November, we asked a small group of U.S. advertisers to start testing a new web interface for AdWords while it was still early in development. The new interface makes AdWords campaign management faster, clearer, and more intuitive. This means it's easier to find your most important keywords across ad groups, navigate and edit your account quickly, and access and act on your reports.

We've continued to work on the new interface for the last few months, making changes based on feedback from beta testers. Now we're excited to expand the beta to more U.S. advertisers, as well as additional countries (such as the U.K. and Australia), and languages (such as Spanish, Japanese, French, and Brazilian Portuguese).

Here are a few of the exciting features we're testing:
  • Performance graphs: Spot trends over time with custom graphs on every campaign management page.
  • Insight across ad groups: Focus on the high-impact areas of your account with new roll-up tabs on every page. You can see and edit keywords, placements or ads from all ad groups on a single tab.
  • In-line editing: Want to change a keyword or bid? Click on it and make changes in-line instead of loading a separate page.
  • Easier content network management: Improve content network performance through a new Networks tab. Look at statistics for the placements where your ads have appeared, and then take action by setting unique bids or excluding placements directly from the report.
However, keep in mind that the new interface doesn't change how ads run. Bidding, ranking, Quality Score, and the rest of ad serving will remain the same in the new interface.

The new interface is still a work in progress, so not all features available in the previous web interface are currently supported. You can switch between old and new interfaces during the beta, so you'll still have access to the full range of AdWords tools and reports, if needed.

To learn more, see videos of the new interface in action, and sign up for the beta, visit our new AdWords interface website.

Posted by Emel Mutlu, Inside AdWords crew

[G] Pageview tracking back to normal

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Inside AdSense: Pageview tracking back to normal

If you're displaying multiple ad units on your pages, you may have noticed that your pageviews were higher than normal for part of yesterday and today. Our engineers identified a bug which prevented ad units from detecting other units on the same page. As a result, our system logged a pageview for each ad unit that was loaded on a page, instead of a pageview for each page containing ads. In some cases, this also may have caused specific ads to appear in multiple ad units on the same page.

Please be assured that ad unit impressions were still logged correctly and ads were still displayed on your pages, so you were properly credited for all earnings generated from your ads. We've resolved the issue, and although you won't see the pageview count in your reports retroactively changed, your pageview tracking is now back to normal.

Thanks for your patience and your help in identifying this bug.

Posted by Arlene Lee - Inside AdSense Team

[G] Changes to our sales and marketing organizations

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Official Google Blog: Changes to our sales and marketing organizations

Google has grown very quickly in a very short period of time. When companies grow that quickly it's almost impossible to get everything right—and we certainly didn't. In some areas we've created overlapping organizations which not only duplicate effort but also complicate the decision-making process. That makes our teams less effective and efficient than they should be. In addition, we over-invested in some areas in preparation for the growth trends we were experiencing at the time.

So today we have informed Googlers that we plan to reduce the number of roles within our sales and marketing organizations by just under 200 globally. Making changes of this kind is never easy—and we recognize that the recession makes the timing even more difficult for the Googlers concerned. We did look at a number of different options but ultimately concluded that we had to restructure our organizations in order to improve our effectiveness and efficiency as a business. We will give each person time to try and find another position at Google, as well as outplacement support, and provide severance packages for those who leave the company. Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone affected for all they have contributed to Google.

Posted by Omid Kordestani, Senior VP, Global Sales and Business Development

[G] Lipton "Free Your Y" Ad Effectiveness Webinar on 4/1/109

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Official Google CPG Blog: Lipton "Free Your Y" Ad Effectiveness Webinar on 4/1/109

In 2008, Unilever and Mindshare teamed up with Google to run a campaign for Lipton White Tea called "Free Your Y" . The campaign integrated a YouTube contest asking consumers to show off their youthful spirit on video.

The media was supported by Google search, display on Google's Content Network and YouTube.

Join us for an April 1 Webinar, to hear about the effectiveness of this campaign. The CPG Marketing and Research teams will be sharing website visitation trends, branding metrics and offline sales lift results from the campaign.

Date:  April 1, 2009
Time:  1:00 pm ET

Instructions: Must be registered at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the webinar at this link here 
Event password:  googleCPG

Posted by Jenny Liu, Industry Marketing Manager, CPG

[G] Release Notes: 3/26/2009

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YouTube Blog: Release Notes: 3/26/2009

Traditionally after site maintenance we've only shared information about the most significant new features. But after watching you guys take to the forums and Twitter to discuss what else has changed, we figured more frequent, casual "release notes" would be good to publish as well. That way you can get a broader sense of what's new on the site, from major features to cosmetic touches, as well as background on the thinking or motivation behind some of these items.

* Upload Progress Bar: A new Flash uploader is up for all supported browsers and it comes with a long-awaited (and much-requested) feature: an upload progress bar that lets you know the status of your upload. Our next step will be providing the estimated video processing time for your upload.

* Simpler HD Parameter: We want to give you more control over how your video looks, including the option of it being eye-blazingly clear (HD), so we've now added an official URL parameter (hd=1) for sharing HD links.

* Tweet Tweet: Everyone's on The Twitter these days, so we've added a "share to Twitter" button under the Share options so you can easily send a video into your Twitterstream. (Feel free to change the prefilled text, if you like.) This was a big internal request, but we know many of you asked for it, too. We don't currently shorten the Video URL automagically but hope to get to it down the road.

* Do You EDU? Educational Hub Launches: Using YouTube as a vehicle to democratize learning is one of the coolest, unintended outcomes of its existence. YouTube EDU is a volunteer project sparked by a group of employees who wanted to find a better way to collect and highlight all the great educational content being uploaded to YouTube by colleges and universities. We'll feature some of these videos on the home page on Friday and elaborate further in a separate post on that day.

* Mobile Improvements: We're working hard to develop apps and a mobile Web site that enables the best possible video experience on as many devices as possible -- we recognize that mobile is a key component of how people will consume video in the future. So in addition to launching a new mobile landing page, we've cleaned up the upload flow from phone-to-YouTube so this should be a lot more smooth and intuitive now. More on this in a post this weekend.

*Easier to Log In With Google Credentials: If you have your YouTube account associated with your Google account, you no longer have to go to a separate page to log in to YouTube with your Google account information. It's all in one place at sign-in.

* Neater Watch Pages: Yes, sometimes YouTube can feel a bit cluttered, so last night we took some time to "clean up" the presentation on the watch page. Generally, we've heard from you that the action area on this page has been a bit confusing and should be made simpler. So we're streamlining the space beneath the player to better use the available real estate and to present all of the actions more consistently. Some changes you'll notice: a) the action links are a bit smaller and more condensed; b) we've eliminated the tabs for Comments, Statistics & Data and instead made all of these available in expandable sections (which you can collapse/uncollapse using the little arrow), making it easy to expose or hide information in a consistent way. As a side note, we've begun work on a broader watch page redesign to incorporate all the things we've learned since our last major change. Expect to see some ideas and concept sketches on the blog once we're further along.

* A Little Help for Your Friends: The process of connecting with your friends on YouTube will see some bigger improvements soon, but in the meantime, we've added the ability for you to send an invite and personalized note to a username or email address. There's also an instant friend link to instant message if that's your preferred mode of communication -- go to:

* New Names for Sponsored, Promoted and Featured Videos: We've done a bit of spring cleaning with regards to some of the nomenclature on the site. This post from yesterday tells the story.

As always, let us know what you think in the comments below.


The YouTube Team

[G] The Bodleian's treasures, available to all

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Inside Google Book Search: The Bodleian's treasures, available to all

Posted by Ben Bunnell, Book Search Library Partnerships

In 2004, Google began a partnership with Oxford University Library to scan mostly 19th century public domain books from its Bodleian library. Five years on, we're delighted to announce the end of this phase of our scanning with Oxford, our first European partner. Together, we have digitized and made available on Google Book Search many hundreds of thousands of public domain books from the Bodleian and other Oxford libraries, representing the bulk of their available public domain content.

From English to German, to Spanish and French, most of the digitized works date from the 19th century and range from classic literature to more scientific volumes in fields including Geography, Philosophy or Anthropology. Among some of the works now available through Book Search, you can find the first English translation of Newton's Mathematical principles of natural philosophy from 1729, the first edition of Jane Austen's Emma, and John Cassell's Illustrated History of England. You can search and read the full text of these works on Google Book Search, and download and print a pdf if you wish to.

So, does this mean we are done?

Far from it! With most of Oxford's 19th century public domain works now digitized and available to users online, we look forward to continuing our partnership with Oxford to digitize more content as it becomes available and work together to bring more books to more people in more languages around the world.

"Library users have always loved browsing books for the serendipitous discoveries they provide. Digital books offer a similar thrill, but on multiple levels-- deep entry into the texts or the ability to browse the virtual shelf of books assembled from the world's great libraries," says Sarah E. Thomas, Bodley's Librarian and Director of Oxford University Library Services.

For more information on Book Search, visit

[G] Searching for more than the point

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Google LatLong: Searching for more than the point

Over the past few years Google Maps users have created millions of maps using the My Maps feature. At the same time we have been busy scouring the web to find maps in other formats, like KML and GeoRSS, to include in our index. As you may have seen in the recent post about blended search results we have been including individual places from those maps in our results. Until now, however, there has been no easy way to find complete maps created by others. That changes this week, as we start to surface a link to these complete maps when we think they are relevant to your query. For example, the query 'President Birth Places' now returns the following:
Clicking on the maps title takes you to a great map showing where each president was born:

In addition to making searching better, this is also an excuse for you to go polish your maps, since now the world can find them! Remember, if we find an attribution in your feed we will link back to you.

Posted by James Macgill, Software Engineer

[G] Open Sourcerers at Google I/O

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Google Open Source Blog: Open Sourcerers at Google I/O

In or around San Francisco on May 27-28th? If you are, why not check out Google I/O 2009, the 2nd occurrence of Google's largest developer conference. Among the many other great sessions, you can hear our very own Ben Collins-Sussman and Brian Fitzpatrick discuss Programmer Insecurity and the Genius Myth and hear their thoughts on creating happy users in their talk Do You Believe in the Users? We hope to see you there!

By Leslie Hawthorn, Open Source Team

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

[G] iGoogle's got game... themes!

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Official Google Blog: iGoogle's got game... themes!

I'm happy to announce the launch of iGoogle game themes. These themes offer our users new iGoogle backdrops inspired by their favorite video games, including classics like "Mario" and "Mega Man" and new sensations like "Wii Sports" and "Spore." Like our iGoogle artist themes, fashion and music themes and themes for causes, we hope that the game themes delight our users and reflect their personal interests. As you can imagine, these themes in particular have captivated our iGoogle software engineers who are gamers themselves. I'll now turn the post over to one of our engineers who worked closely on the project, Matthew Chan, for more details.

A gamer's POV

I confess, I'm a game geek. My first experience with video games was spending hours and hours (not to mention my weekly allowance) playing "Donkey Kong" and "Galaga" at a nearby arcade until my fingers ached. These days I no longer have to ride my bike to the neighborhood arcade to play video games — I can do it in the comfort of my own home anytime I want! And even better... starting today, I can have images of my favorite childhood games right on my iGoogle page.

iGoogle now has graphics from all sorts of games that I know will excite my fellow gamers. Picture your homepage with "Burnout" cars zooming in the background, Ryu from "Street Fighter" blasting hadoukens across your page, or rock stars jamming out to tunes from "Guitar Hero." It doesn't end there. For those of you who used to dream about completing the Triforce or getting out of tombs alive, choose from "Zelda" or "Tomb Raider." Want more? Try "Dungeons & Dragons," "The Sims 3," or "World of Warcraft" on for size.

So come check out the new game themes ( and choose your favorite one. If you can't decide, no worries. Just add the game theme of the day and enjoy seeing a different one on your iGoogle page every day.

Here's a look at the themes in action:

Posted by Marissa Mayer, VP of Search Products and User Experience, and Matthew Chan, iGoogle engineer

[G] A Few Name Changes on the Site

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YouTube Blog: A Few Name Changes on the Site

It's spring cleaning at YouTube, so you might notice that today we've renamed a few modules on the home page, watch page, and on the search results page, and we wanted to explain what the changes mean and why we're making them.

Like all spring cleaning exercises, you might ask "Why bother?" Well, in part because we want to help you discover videos on YouTube in lots of different ways, so it's important that you know where they came from and why we think you'll like them. But also, we just think these names make more sense. Here's the rundown:

* Spotlight Videos: We like to highlight videos we think you'll want to watch; videos that hopefully inform, inspire, and entertain. We think "Spotlight Videos" is an appropriate moniker for this section, and soon we are going to take a more thematic approach to showcasing some of the best videos our community and partners produce. When you see these videos, they will have top billing on the page -- a true spotlight.

* Promoted Videos: Our search advertising program is about helping anyone promote their videos to a larger audience on YouTube (right now this is only available in the U.S.). Whether you're a start-up band trying to break out with a new single, or an advertiser showing off how to use your cool new product, this program is a great way for you to promote and drive traffic to your content. We think "Promoted Videos" more accurately describes this program than "Sponsored Videos," the original name.

* Featured Videos: Featured Videos will be primarily populated with videos from YouTube's thousands of partners, but they might also include select user videos that are currently popular or that we have previously showcased in Spotlight Videos. We will automatically rotate these videos throughout the day to keep them fresh.

We'll be making a few other changes to the homepage in the weeks to come; until then, we wanted to share these developments with you.


Curtis Lee

Product Marketing Manager

The YouTube Team

[G] Take your Google Contacts with you

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Social Web Blog: Take your Google Contacts with you

Lots of websites ask you to invite your friends when you sign up, and for good reason; the web is more fun when you can share your experiences with other people. However, too many of these sites access your list of friends by asking for your username and password so they can sign in as you and scrape your contact lists. The problem is that once a website has your password, it can access all sorts of data, not just your contacts.

Portable Contacts to the rescue! Portable Contacts (affectionately known as "PoCo") is an open standard that aims to make it easier to access "who-you-know" information in a secure way -- this means sites don't have to employ the "password anti-pattern" of scraping websites.

Using PoCo is 'easy' to use because it builds on existing standards and libraries. In fact, PoCo uses the same data format as the OpenSocial REST protocol. The 'secure' part is provided by OAuth, an authentication mechanism that allows users to grant access to only certain sets of data (address books in this case).

Web developers can now access Google Contacts using the OAuth and Portable Contacts standards. To test this out, you first need to Register your Domain and get an OAuth key. Then you can use Plaxo's Portable Contacts test client to send some test queries. Just enter your OAuth key, hit the "Grant Access" button to authorize access to your Google Contacts, and start submitting queries to see PoCo in action. For more information, check out the Portable Contacts Developer's Guide on or visit

Posted by Lane LiaBraaten, OpenSocial Team

[G] Drawing on the job

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Drawing on the job

Sometimes a drawing is worth 1000 words – at the office or elsewhere. To broaden the ways you can work within Google Apps, we're releasing Drawings, a new feature in Google Docs. As of today, you can create and insert rich drawings into documents, presentations and spreadsheets to illustrate your ideas. You can now find 'Drawings' in the 'Insert' menu.

Read more about the ways you can use Drawings and the technology behind the feature on the Google Docs blog.

Posted by: Tony Glenning, Drawings Team Lead


[G] Using Google APIs in an iPhone App

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Official Google Mac Blog: Using Google APIs in an iPhone App

Guest post by Tom Saxton, Idle Loop Software Design

In September, my small software company shipped our first iPhone app, a grocery list program called Grocophile. One of the most common requests from our users was the ability to exchange data over the Internet. Greg Robbins of Google's Mac team suggested that the Google Docs API might be useful, so I jumped in and took a look.

This turned out to be a great way to give our users access to free Internet storage, letting them back up their data and share it across multiple devices. To return the favor, I'd like to share my experience: the learning process, getting the code working on the iPhone, and how I found what I needed from what Google generously provides.

Greg helped me get started by pointing out some online resources. I started with the Objective-C library's overview slideshow. Then I read the Objective-C client introduction, which explains how to get the Google Data APIs library into an iPhone Xcode project. Finally, I downloaded the library sources.

There's a sample app that you'll get with the sources that shows how to talk to Google Docs. The file of interest is DocsSampleWindowController. Start by looking at the two methods "uploadFileAtPath:" and "saveSelectedDocumentToPath:", as those demonstrate how to upload and download files, respectively.

The code is part of a Mac OS X Cocoa app, so it has some Mac-specific code intermingled with the GData code. To bring it into an iPhone project, I trimmed out the Mac user interface stuff, and defined a class and a protocol to create code that should work from any Mac or iPhone application.

The library requires several steps to upload or download a file. First, you create a service object that encodes the user agent that identifies your application, along with the username and password for the account you want to access. Then use that object to request a document list feed, which is the list of documents in the user's account.

Retrieving the document list feed both validates the account credentials and captures information you'll need to either upload or download files. The feed contains the URL for downloading each document. To download, you can use any http call such as NSURLConnection or the library's GDataHTTPFetcher. The feed also has the URL for uploading new document entries.

The networking operations are asynchronous, so my encapsulating object has methods for starting an upload or download, then uses an Objective-C protocol to inform the controlling object of the progress and status at completion.

I've been calling these document objects files, but Google Docs isn't a file system. It's much more like a web publishing system: a collection of objects with associated metadata including title, creation and modification dates, and so on.

The first difference from a file system that I encountered is that you can have multiple different files with the same name. So, if you just upload a new version of a file the same way you uploaded it the first time, you'll get a second document with that same name. To avoid that, search for the document entry with the title that you want to upload to. You can then request an update operation instead of an insert.

The second issue I discovered is that much like when you post to a blog, what you upload can get transformed to match the type of document that is holding the data. When you download the same object, you get something different than what you uploaded. For example, I uploaded a plain text document (specified by MIME type "text/plain"), but when I downloaded that same object I found the text wrapped in a bunch of HTML that makes it display well on the Google Docs web page. Our app's files are UTF-8 XML files created by NSKeyedArchiver. Google Docs fails if you try to specify a MIME type of "text/xml" and totally mangles the document contents if you specify "text/plain". That is not a big surprise because there's not currently a way to specify that the text is encoded UTF-8, and the content gets stuffed into an XML file for the journey to the server.

I solved this issue by converting my files into a plain ASCII encoding, wrapping that in HTML which explains that the file our users see in the Google Docs web page is a Grocophile data file and isn't user editable, and uploading that as "text/html". When I download this file, the HTML does pick up a bunch of Google additions, but it's a simple matter to scan the file to find my encoded document contents.

Different apps will have different needs for storing their documents. If your app can store and retrieve its data in text, HTML or a spreadsheet, then Google Docs will work well for you. Grocophile's data is basically a relational database with a series of tables and joins keyed off of UUIDs. I could represent the data in text, but it would be fragile and not appropriate for end-user editing. Even though our data won't be editable within Google Docs, there's still plenty of value in being able to back up, restore and merge data sets from Grocophile.

To help out other Mac and iPhone developers, I've published my code for using the library in an iPhone application as an open source project. If you have any questions, or suggestions for improvement, please contact me at

[G] Drawing on your creativity in Docs

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Official Google Docs Blog: Drawing on your creativity in Docs

I'm excited to tell you about Insert Drawing, a new feature we've added to Google Docs. Now you can create and insert rich, colorful drawings into documents, presentations and spreadsheets, to illustrate your ideas or just for fun.

It's easy to create drawings using lines, free hand scribbles, text labels and a large choice of shapes that you can move, resize, rotate and adjust. Group, order, align and distribute and other features are available when you select objects you've drawn. You can also customize a range of shape properties, from line widths to fill color, and from arrowheads to font size, and much more. If you change your mind, there is undo and redo. You can collaborate with a friend or colleague on a drawing, or work alone, just as you can in Google Docs today.

The team and technology behind Insert Drawing originally came from the startup Tonic Systems, which Google acquired in 2007. The drawing feature that we've built relies heavily on a relatively new capability in browsers: the ability to render vector graphics. We use the SVG (scalable vector graphics) standard to accomplish this in most browsers and VML (vector markup language) where SVG is not available. Only recently has the performance and ubiquity of such technology enabled us to deliver what we hope is a delightful feature. As browsers continue to improve, we can deliver more and more useful cloud-based functionality.

As with any new feature, we'll be adding new capabilities over time. But even though we have our own to-do list, we'd love to hear about how you think we could improve drawings. You'll find Drawing within the Insert menu, so try it out and tell us what you think in our Help Forum.

Posted by: Tony Glenning, Drawings Team Lead

[G] Google Services for Websites expands to include Google Site Search

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Google Services for Websites expands to include Google Site Search

Google Site Search has now been included into an expanded version of the access provider program. The program was created last year for the web hosting community so they could easily integrate Google Webmaster tools into their customer's websites. Today we expanded the program to include three new services including AdSense, Custom Search, and Site Search under the program Google Services for Websites.

We are excited to have Google Site Search as part of the program because it provides us with better partner opportunities with the web hosting community. Webhosters who participate can enroll in the Google Affiliate program which allows them to get referral fees for every customer who creates Google Site Search.

All together, Hosting service providers can now make use of multiple Google APIs and add these services for their customers at no cost. These tools can help increase the value of customer websites by:
  • Driving traffic and visibility to their websites with Webmaster Tools
  • Enhancing their website and visitor satisfaction with customized search through Custom Search or Google Site Search
  • Monetizing their sites through the Google ad network using AdSense
The initial access provider program has already gotten off to a fantastic start, with partners including Go Daddy (who launched the first pilot back in 2007 with Webmaster Tools), IPOWER, StartLogic, PowWeb, FatCow, BizLand, and EasyCGI. Many of these partners have already integrated multiple Google services into their customer console.

If you are an existing access provider (via the Webmaster Tools Access Provider program), you will be automatically enrolled in the new program, but will still need to integrate the new services into your control panel (with their APIs). Certain services may need additional approvals. Any hosters interested in learning more can check out the Google Services for Websites Access Provider site and sign up today.

let us know what you think! And if these tools aren't yet available through your hosting company, send them a link to this post and let them know we're here to help.

Posted by Nitin Mangtani and Dave Kim, Google Enteprise Search team

[G] Google, at your service

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Official Google Blog: Google, at your service

It used to be that creating a webpage was a pursuit reserved for the truly tech-savvy, requiring a geek's expertise in HTML, Java, or C++ coding.

These days, it's a different story. Working with a hosting service has made things a great deal easier, as they can help you reserve a name for your site (www.[insertyournamehere].com), and they often provide tools to help get you set up, with minimal to zero programming experience required.

Today, we're releasing Google Services for Websites, a few more tools that your hosting company can now enable to help you improve your website. This expanded program includes Webmaster Tools, AdSense, Custom Search, and Site Search, making it easier to drive traffic to your site, monetize your site through the Google ad network, and add various search capabilities to help your visitors find information on your site faster.

For more information, check out our Enterprise BlogWebmasters Blog and Custom Search Blog. And if your hosting service doesn't have Google Services for Websites yet, send them to this page. We hope you find these new tools helpful.

Posted by Rajat Mukherjee, Group Product Manager

[G] The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Data

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Official Google Research Blog: The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Data

Posted by Fernando Pereira, Google Research

Alon Halevy, Peter Norvig, and I argue that we should stop acting as if our goal is to author extremely elegant theories, and instead embrace complexity and make use of the best ally we have: the unreasonable effectiveness of data. See the full article here (IEEE Intelligent Systems, March/April 2009).

[G] Schools in India get the "App"titude

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Schools in India get the "App"titude

In a recent post, we expressed our delight about all the global growth we're seeing lately for Google Apps Education Edition. The increased adoption of schools moving to Apps has been particularly significant in India, especially as a result of our recent Got the "App"titude Challenge. This competition encouraged students, faculty members, and alumni from engineering and management schools throughout India to move their institutions to Google Apps.

The challenge created quite a stir, attracting more than 6,000 teams consisting of students, faculty, and alumni since its launch in August. Each team worked with their own IT staff to identify challenges and limitations with their existing email and collaboration systems, and then – working with a Google representative – demonstrated the ways in which Google Apps could mitigate these issues.

As a result of the challenge, more than 100 colleges across India are now in the process of implementing Apps on their campuses. Some of these schools include
Jaypee Business School, National Institute of Technology - Calicut, Zakir Husain College of Engineering & Technology, and Aligarh Muslim University.

The performance of each team was evaluated by measuring product usage after their deployment. We'd like to extend our congratulations to the XL CONNECT team from Xavier Labour Relations Institute (XLRI) - Jamshedpur, who won the challenge by demonstrating the highest usage of Google Apps products.
This team ran a pilot and implemented Google Apps within less than a month from the day they secured approval from their college's decision makers. They also conducted marketing campaigns to inspire students to find innovative ways to use Google Apps tools. Chintan Agarwal, secretary of the Systems Society at XLRI says, "Considering the need for a networked manager and the high reliability and usability of Google Apps, we have rolled-out Apps services for all XLers, including international students at Singapore and Dubai."

Below is a map of all the schools across India who will be rolling out Apps on campus after participating in the challenge. We look forward to continuing to fill up the map as more schools across the globe get the "App"titude.

Posted by Gagandeep Singh and Jolly Ngemu, Google Apps India team

[G] Google's 2009 EMEA Faculty Summit

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Official Google Blog: Google's 2009 EMEA Faculty Summit

Our Zurich office was proud to host Google's second annual EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa regions) Faculty Summit last month. Eighty leading academics joined us from 66 universities in 24 countries for this three-day event.

The Faculty Summit's purpose is to increase collaboration between key universities and our engineering teams. This year, we organised more than 40 talks and presentations, plus panels, networking and social events to help our guests learn more about Google's work in their regions. In return, Googlers gained valuable insight into challenges faced by the region's universities and new developments in the academic world. Event highlights included a keynote by leading cryptographer and Turing Award winner Adi Shamir on the topic of privacy and security as related to cloud computing. Further discussion centered on topics ranging from the power and limitations of cryptographic technology to usability issues introduced by security requirements, with some debate over the balance between preventing abuse and identifying and reporting abusers.

Alfred Spector (VP of Research), Jeff Walz (University Relations) and I spoke about Google's engineering efforts and the impact of our university relations initiatives, with much discussion focusing on our involvement in the Arab and African regions. Rapidly expanding markets in the Middle East and Africa represent a major engineering challenge for us, and we are eager to continue collaboration with leading academic attendees from the region well beyond the Summit. We were pleased to welcome representatives from the Al Arabiya news channel, who highlighted this topic in a recent broadcast. We also heard from Google 'Research Award' and 'CS4HS' (Computer Science for High School) grant recipients and EMEA-based academics spending long-term sabbaticals at Google, who described their experiences over the past year.

This year also saw new additions to the Faculty Summit agenda, including a networking session allowing academics to discuss collaboration options one-on-one with specific Google engineers. This session spurred a great deal of activity — for instance, multiple Googlers are booked to deliver guest lectures at external events and universities and several attendees have been invited to present their findings on research ranging from 'Software Visualisation' to 'Mobile Agile Testing' at Google engineering offices across EMEA. We plan to make these networking sessions a focal point at future Faculty Summits!

I'd like to thank the organising team for their help in planning and executing this important event for the second year running. The 2009 EMEA Faculty Summit proved to be an incisive and informative event resulting in new academic and industrial collaborations. We look forward to reporting back on these synergies as they develop over the next year!

Posted by Nelson Mattos, VP of Engineering