Friday, April 10, 2009

[G] New Partner Roundup: Smithsonian, Encyclopedia Britannica, and More

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YouTube Blog: New Partner Roundup: Smithsonian, Encyclopedia Britannica, and More

Not sure where to start today? Here are some highlights of recently joined or converted partners:



* smithsonianchannel tells America's stories. There's lots of video on Wanda Jackson, the first lady of rock 'n' roll, and riveting insight into turmoil among the Monkees.



* Encyclopedia Britannica leaps into the world of video: their YouTube channel contains vibrant footage of the internal workings of the human body, like this pounding heart (commenter BinkieMcFartnuggets is not far off when he says it looks like a chicken breast beating its head on the wall), cheese making, astronomy, and more.



* LibraryOfCongress has gems from vast archives, including the earliest Edison films. (More on government channels in a future blog post.)



* BlahGirls features sassy animated teens dishing on the week's celebrity gossip. From producer Ashton Kutcher.



* TotalBeautyTV specializes in helping you approximate celebrities' looks, from Gwen Stefani's signature makeup to Reese Witherspoon's clean and classic hairstyle.



* FixMyRecipe comes to the rescue when you and your kitchen are just not getting along. Chef Billy Parisi helps "fix" recipes on a daily basis. Send your recipe to chef@fixmyrecipe.com to see if it will become a "Featured Fix of the Day."



* paintinganddrawing offers instruction in watercolors, acrylics, oils, and pastels -- there are four new 24-minute instructional art programs uploaded every week.




Ciao,

Mia Quagliarello

Sr. Community Manager

The YouTube Team
URL: http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=4cg6J-nELlQ

[G] Drop Everything and Read!

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Inside Google Book Search: Drop Everything and Read!

Posted by Roland Lange, Strategic Partner Development Manager

Sunday, April 12 is Drop Everything and Read Day (and, incidentally, author Beverly Cleary's birthday).

"Beatrice Quimby's biggest problem was her little sister Ramona." So begins the beloved Beverly Cleary's first book featuring Ramona, Beezus and Ramona. Many teachers and school officials would say that one of our biggest problems today is getting children to read. To help counter that, teachers and many other educational associations created an organization and a plan called "Drop Everything and Read!" For "D.E.A.R. time" at my children's schools, they literally drop their pencils, notebooks, textbooks, workbooks, and so on, grab a book, find a space and have some uninterrupted time to read. (I may ask Google HR if we can do the same thing here.) The sound of things hitting the desks and clattering to the floor can be rather loud.

Here at the Inside Google Book Search blog we want to do our part to promote this excellent effort and encourage every parent to take a moment and read a book to their children this Sunday. If you're having trouble figuring out what to read, try the Advanced Search feature on Google Book Search and play around to find the right book for you. You might search for "dragons, princes and princesses" in the Subject Category "fairy tales", or if you're a Curious George fan, try a search under Author for H. A. Rey.

Once you browse a few pages and figure out which book is just right, you can go to your favorite retailer (on- or offline) or find the book in your local library. Now, we can't help you devise voices for characters, but we do encourage you to pull out all the stops!

No need to limit this only to children either: This Sunday, let's make a loud noise, drop everything and read!
URL: http://booksearch.blogspot.com/2009/04/drop-everything-and-read.html

[G] Urchin.js is going dark!? No, it isn't.

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Google Analytics Blog: Web Analytics Tips & Tricks: Urchin.js is going dark!? No, it isn't.

There has been some chatter bouncing around the blogosphere and twittersphere that we are deprecating urchin.js sometime this summer. This is not accurate. To be clear: we have no immediate plans to decommission urchin.js. If and when we do, we will make sure users get clear, advanced notification from us and time to switch.

Now for the more nuanced story:
For about a year now, all new accounts have been set up using ga.js instead of urchin.js. Here some of the benefits to using ga.js:
  • Faster, smaller source file
  • Automatic detection of HTTPS
  • Increased namespace safety
  • More convenient set up for tracking e-commerce transactions
  • More customizable code for interactive Ajax-based sites
  • Ability to take advantage of the most up-to-date tracking functionality as it is added to Google Analytics
Generally speaking, there are good reasons to make the switch and we certainly encourage people to do so. However, there is no immediate need or requirement to do so. Make the switch to ga.js when it is convenient for you or when you are ready to start taking advantage of the improved functionality.

Posted by Brett Crosby, Google Analytics Team
URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2009/04/urchinjs-is-going-dark-no-it-isnt.html

[G] Google Update Goes Open Source

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Google Open Source Blog: Google Update Goes Open Source

Keeping software up to date is very important. Not only does it mean that users will always have all the cool new features that we work so hard to develop; it also means that any bugs or security vulnerabilities can get fixed very quickly, everywhere that the software is installed. We're happy to let you know that we're sharing our updating software, Google Update, with everyone. Google Update is the shared infrastructure used by Google Chrome, Google Earth and other Google software on Microsoft Windows, to keep our products up to date on users computers.

We're releasing Google Update under its codename Omaha. Omaha's functionality allows us to automatically update software without interrupting or distracting the user, which makes for a better user experience. Omaha checks for updates in the background, when it won't interfere with the user, even if an application isn't running. Doing so means that we avoid using a computer's resources when it first starts, avoiding a common bottleneck in computer performance experience. Omaha does not perform updates when an application launches, because we understand people want to use the software when starting it up, not perform maintenance tasks first.

Use of Omaha allows us to add features seamlessly and address any bugs or security problems, all without concern that these updates will disrupt our users. Omaha allowed us to ship 12 versions of Chrome beta in 4 months, without requiring Chrome users to work hard to keep their browsers up to date. Such behavior is very useful for new features, but essential for security vulnerabilities. When software, particularly network-enabled software, has known vulnerabilities, it can become a platform for malware and/or spam distribution as described in this research paper. Keeping your software up to date can help other people too!

We're releasing the source code for Omaha in addition to recent enhancements to Omaha functionality, to provide both transparency and control around the update process. Since Google Update is always running on your system, there's no simple way to stop it, and since it's a fundamental part of the Google software that needs it, it's not explicitly installed. Some users can be surprised to find this program running, and at Google, we don't like disappointing our users. We've been working hard to address these concerns, and releasing the source code for Omaha is our attempt to make the purpose of Google Update totally transparent. Obviously, we understand that not everyone is both willing and able to read through our code, but we hope that those of you who do will confirm for the rest that Google Update's functionality serves well to keep your software up to date.

Finally, we also know that keeping software up to date is hard. So if you're thinking of developing your own auto-updater, or have already started, we hope that the code we are releasing today will be helpful to you! So far, Omaha supports many Google products for Windows, but there is no reason for it to only support Google products. We hope you'll find the source code and Developer Startup Guide useful, and we look forward to your feedback and participation in our Discussion Group.

Post by Myles Jordan, Software Engineering Team and Michael Smith, Product Management Team
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2009/04/google-update-goes-open-source.html

[G] AdWords system maintenance canceled on Saturday, March 11th

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Inside AdWords: AdWords system maintenance canceled on Saturday, March 11th

The system maintenance we were planning and informed you of for Saturday, April 11th has been canceled. As a result, the AdWords system will be available on this day, and you should be able to sign in and access your accounts as normal. We apologize for any confusion.

Posted by Emel Mutlu, Inside AdWords crew
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/04/adwords-system-maintenance-canceled-on.html

[G] Advanced Website Optimizer tricks

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Official Google Website Optimizer Blog: Advanced Website Optimizer tricks

If you've been enjoying the Techie Guide to Website Optimizer, we have a treat for you. Eric Vasilik, the lead Website Optimizer engineer, has put together the new GWO Tricks blog showcasing some of the extra-cool things you can do with Website Optimizer such as:
It's important to note that these are pretty advanced techniques, so if you're just starting out with Website Optimizer, you probably want to begin at our Help Center or YouTube channel.

Big thanks to Eric for pushing the envelope on what's possible with Website Optimizer. If you've got ideas on what he should try next, leave a note in the comments.

Posted by Trevor Claiborne, Website Optimizer team
URL: http://websiteoptimizer.blogspot.com/2009/04/advanced-website-optimizer-tricks.html

[G] Will it lens?

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Official Google Blog: Will it lens?

Not long ago, a bunch of us in our Santa Monica office pooled together the money to buy a four-foot by three-foot Fresnel lens. We've since been spending our lunch hours out in the sun playing with it.


A normal lens this big would be several feet thick and weigh a proverbial ton (the right-hand image below). However, it's possible to remove much of the inside of a lens and collapse down the shape without introducing too much distortion (the left-hand image):

Fresnel (pronounced "freh-NELL") lenses are used in overhead projectors and lighthouses. We've been using ours, however, to see what happens when you focus 1,000 watts of sunlight onto a single point. It's like when you were a kid and tried to burn ants with a pocket magnifying glass — but 400 times stronger. We built a wooden frame to keep the lens flat and focused, and a stand to hold it steady:

The light in the focal point is so bright that you can't look directly at it without welding goggles.

The lens maker claimed you could melt a penny with it, so that was the first thing we tried:


Modern pennies are made of zinc with a copper coating. The bottom row shows what happens when you put a penny in the focal point of the lens: the inside melts away and the coating stays intact (zinc melts at 693 kelvins, copper melts at 1,356 K). But if you heat it just enough, the metals mix and you make brass (the gold-colored penny in the middle). Older pennies (those minted before 1982) are almost entirely copper, so they didn't melt (top row).

We also had an aluminum can:


The water we poured in boiled quickly, while the can itself became so brittle that we poked holes through it with nothing more than sunlight.

Then we tried cooking. Popcorn did both what you'd expect and not quite what you'd expect: when you really focus the light on it, it kinda pops but mostly burns. However, if you don't put it directly in the focal point, so the light is spread over a larger area and doesn't heat it up as quickly, you can get a whole bunch of kernels to pop without burning too much.


The steam/smoke coming up from the kernels really highlighted the spectra from the lens beautifully. Our yield was very low (lots of unpopped kernels for each popped one), but at least we had real popcorn!


When we tried to cook bacon, about a third ended up well done, a third was burnt, and a third was uncooked. Cooking with the lens is difficult because it heats stuff up too hot too fast. But the well-cooked parts tasted great, so we added an egg:


(We didn't lens the spoon; we used it to eat the egg afterwards.)

It's been fun experimenting with different lensing techniques and items and we've learned a lot (including where the nearest fire extinguisher is!). These are just the highlights — we've lensed gourds, soap, gummy bears, CDs — you name it. Next on our list: marshmallows!

We've got more details and more pictures of our results on Alan's personal blog. If you have ideas of other things we should try lensing, we'd love to hear suggestions.

Posted by Alan Davidson and Dustin Boswell, Software Engineers
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/will-it-lens.html

[G] Stats catching up

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Inside AdSense: Stats catching up

Last night for a short period of time, we experienced a technical issue that prevented publishers from accessing their AdSense and Google Ad Manager accounts. Our engineers have resolved the issue, so you can now log in to your accounts. Please note that ad targeting and serving were not affected during this time.

You may notice a slight delay in your reports for the next few hours as a result of this issue, but no statistics have been lost. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

Posted by Arlene Lee - Inside AdSense Team
URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2009/04/stats-catching-up.html

[G] Mosaic: bringing diverse perspectives together

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Official Google Blog: Mosaic: bringing diverse perspectives together

This is the next post in our Interface series, which takes a look at valuing people's similarities and differences in the workplace. For more information on how Google fosters an inclusive work environment, visit Life at Google on our Jobs site. – Ed.

Since joining Mosaic, our diversity initiatives group in the Boston office, we've seen firsthand how even a small group of Googlers dedicated to a cause can make a real difference. Mosaic was created in 2007 when a few Boston Googlers were talking informally over lunch about how to increase the diversity in our rapidly growing office. Since then, we've made great strides in growing our membership and highlighting the creativity and varied experiences of our colleagues. The idea even spread to other Google offices, with several Mosaic chapters opening across the U.S.

Over the past year, Mosaic Boston has participated in Google's university recruitment efforts by holding three open houses to encourage traditionally underrepresented students from the Boston area to apply for careers at Google. This past summer, we hosted two enthusiastic interns as part of Google's BOLD (Building Opportunities for Leadership & Development) diversity internship program to explore opportunities in the technology industry. We watched their leadership skills grow as they organized events such as a career panel and product demos for high school students through Mosaic.

Most recently, we co-hosted a lunch-and-learn with esteemed Harvard Business School professor David Thomas, co-author of "Breaking Through: The Making of Minority Executives in Corporate America." Down-to-earth and engaging, Professor Thomas presented his findings about minorities and women who had "made it" in corporate America, stressing the need to build wide networks of support, find strong mentors and develop a niche within a company that meshes with one's personal values. His message reminded us of how important it is for Mosaic to provide these opportunities for our own community here at Google. You can watch the video from his visit on the Authors@Google YouTube channel.

As both Googlers and members of Mosaic, we feel empowered and excited to live out our values in our workplace. To us, this means anything from inviting authors to speak and training non-profits on how to use Google Apps, to throwing a Brazilian Carnaval-themed edition of our weekly company meeting complete with capoeira performers, caipirinhas, and authentic Brazilian food. We're excited about what Mosaic has accomplished so far and can't wait to see what's next. In the meantime, we continue to be committed to providing personal and professional growth for the members of our diversity group, as well as doing our part to keep Google an inclusive place to work.

Boston Mosaic team with capoeira performers

Posted by Priti Sanghani and Mariam Shaikh, AdWords Account Associates
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/mosaic-bringing-diverse-perspectives.html

[G] Account access issues resolved

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Inside AdWords: Account access issues resolved

For a short period of time, we experienced a technical issue that prevented AdWords advertisers from accessing their accounts. During this time, your ads continued to show according to your campaign settings, and your campaign statistics were updated as usual.

We've now resolved the issue, and you can once again log into your AdWords account to view your campaigns and make changes. However, as a result you may notice a slight delay in campaign statistics for the next few hours. We apologize for any inconvenience this issue may have caused.

Posted by Amanda Kelly, Inside AdWords crew
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/04/account-access-issues-resolved.html

[G] Recent developments from around the social web

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Social Web Blog: Recent developments from around the social web

From time to time, we'd like to highlight some news from around the social web. In case you missed it, here are some stories that have crossed our radar:
- Change the Web Challenge - Social Actions is running a challenge to create widgets and web applications that help people connect to opportunities to make a difference all over the web. There are $10,000 in prizes, so go vote for your favorite Projects before 3:00 pm PDT today.
- 2009 Webware 100 - Google Friend Connect and the standards which power it (OpenSocial, OpenID, and OAuth) were nominated as finalists for the 2009 Webware 100 in the Infrastructure & Storage category. Voting ends on Thursday, April 30th.
- Gmail Labs gadgets now support OpenSocial - If you've been building social gadgets using OpenSocial APIs, you can now try making some for Gmail.
- eBay announced Selling Manager Apps beta - The Selling Manager (SM) suite of productivity tools now supports the OpenSocial gadget spec and has opened up the beta platform to all developers.

Posted by Mendel Chuang, Product Marketing Manager, Google Friend Connect
URL: http://googlesocialweb.blogspot.com/2009/04/from-time-to-time-wed-like-to-highlight.html

[G] Account access issues

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Inside AdWords: Account access issues

We're currently experiencing a technical issue with a part of our ad system. AdWords ad serving has not been affected. Your ads will continue to show as per your campaign settings, and your AdWords statistics will continue to update normally. However, you will be unable to access your AdWords account to view your campaigns or make changes at this time.

We're working on a solution and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you. Please check our known issues page for updates.

Posted by Christian Yee, Inside AdWords crew
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/04/account-access-issues.html

Thursday, April 9, 2009

[G] New in Labs: Inserting images

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Official Gmail Blog: New in Labs: Inserting images

Posted by Kent Tamura, Software Engineer

Well, it's about time. You no longer have to use workarounds to put images into your messages or attach images when you really want to inline them. Just turn on "Inserting images" from the Labs tab under Settings, and you'll see a new toolbar icon like this:



Make sure you're in rich formatting mode, or it won't show up. Click the little image icon, and you can insert images in two ways: by uploading image files from your computer or providing image URLs.

Keep in mind that Gmail doesn't show URL-based images in messages by default to protect you from spammers, so if you're sending mail to other Gmail users, they'll still have to click "Display images below" or "Always display images from ..." to see images you embed.

Got feedback on inserting images? Send it our way.
URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/new-in-labs-inserting-images.html

[G] Starting up New Interface Thursdays

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Inside AdWords: Starting up New Interface Thursdays

You may have heard that we're testing a new interface for AdWords. Many of you are starting to use the new interface, and we want to take time to tell you more about it. So we're starting a series, New Interface Thursdays.

Each week we'll cover some aspect of the new interface, whether it's an in-depth look at some of the new features, tips and tricks, product updates, or announcements.

For this week, we'd like to point you to the new AdWords interface website and highlight what you'll find there. The site has two sections. First, there's a section for videos abut the new interface, including a handful of videos about new features and how these features can help you more effectively manage your account. There's also a video from the AdWords product managers and engineers telling the story behind the new interface:


The other section is the beta resources page. If you're currently using the new interface, you'll find lots of helpful materials like the How to Guide. The interface is still a work in progress so we also have a Known Issues page. The Known Issues pages can suggest possible workarounds and also lets you tell us if you're having a problem.

If you want to try the new interface, but don't have access yet, you can sign up from the new interface website. During the beta, you can switch between old and new interfaces, so you'll still have access to the full range of AdWords tools and reports, if needed.

Finally, if you use Twitter, you can follow @newadwordsui to keep up with the latest news and updates as well as tips and tricks on using the new interface.

Posted by Amanda Kelly, Inside AdWords crew
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/04/starting-up-new-interface-thursdays.html

[G] Send a video message with Google Latitude

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Official Google Blog: Send a video message with Google Latitude

If you're like us, you never tire of finding fun ways to send a simple message (what's the challenge, after all, in just flipping open your phone?). Here's our latest idea: spell out the words with Google Latitude.



After you watch the video, feel free to send your own Latitude message by creating a custom video for a friend. You can also check out the Google Mobile Blog to learn about some of the other creative ways people are using Latitude.

Posted by Heaven Kim, Product Marketing Manager
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/send-video-message-with-google-latitude.html

[G] Google Latitude FTW

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Official Google Mobile Blog: Google Latitude FTW

Since the launch of Google Latitude in February, many of you have come up with fun and creative ways to use it. We'd like to highlight some of your bright ideas, then share our own idea for creating a message using the icons on the map.

First up, we were totally revved by the story of Garage 419's do-it-yourself race from Manhattan, NY, to Washington D.C., using a plane, a train, an automobile, and various mobile devices. These guys took advantage of Latitude to keep tabs on the race in progress and make adjustments in their strategy and speed. We won't spoil the results, since you can watch the video for yourself. We didn't have racing in mind when we built the app, but who are we to argue with high-tech games?

Next we stumbled on a safari hunt in Glasgow and London. Following clues from Twitter and Latitude, pub crawlers were invited to track down two red lions (the mascots of the Whyte and Mackay brand) that were roaming between various bars and pubs in the two cities.

The Blogger grapevine also brought us this tale of a San Francisco resident who accidentally left his Nokia E71 behind in a cab one night. After remembering that Latitude was switched on, he rushed to his computer, only to find that his phone had already made it to Boston. "Maybe this post will get picked up," he blogged, "go viral and find it's way to the person who has my phone." So far as we know that hasn't happened yet, but we'll echo Nick's plea: "[I]f you do read this, Mister Whoever-found-my-phone, do the right thing."

So what have we done lately? Well, if you need a creatively geeky way to send someone a message, we've got just the ticket. Spell it out with Google Latitude!



We've also made it easy for you to customize your own video, so try writing your own message and pass the video along to a friend. We're very excited by these creative ways of using Latitude, and we look forward to seeing more. If you come up with one yourself, be sure to let us know!

Posted by Robin Norvell, Consumer Operations
URL: http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2009/04/google-latitude-ftw.html

[G] Announcing VEVO, a Partnership with Universal Music Group

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YouTube Blog: Announcing VEVO, a Partnership with Universal Music Group

Today we are joining forces with Universal Music Group (UMG) to announce the launch of VEVO, a music and video entertainment hub that will feature UMG’s premium video content. This service will blend UMG's broad catalog of artists and content production capabilities with our video technology and user community -- in other words, we'll provide the technology infrastructure that will power VEVO and host UMG’s extensive library of professionally-created music videos on the new site. This content will be exclusively available through VEVO.com and a new VEVO channel on YouTube through a special VEVO branded embedded player. It launches later this year.



We're hopeful that this partnership will set a positive example of how the digital and music industries can work together. Moreover, VEVO gives users a deeper, more immersive music experience. As part of the agreement, we've renewed and extended our deal with UMG to allow users to continue creating and watching videos containing UMG sound recordings and Universal Music Publishing Group’s compositions in various territories around the world. You'll even be able to buy favorite tracks on the spot with our Click-to-Buy feature.



Best,

Chris Maxcy

Partnerships Director

The YouTube Team
URL: http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=eBvG4YmrcV4

[G] Designing lean, green, energy-saving machines

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Official Google Blog: Designing lean, green, energy-saving machines

Last week Google hosted a Data Center Efficiency Summit, bringing together approximately 160 industry leaders to share insights and best practices. Since it was April Fool's Day, we threw in a few jokes to keep the atmosphere fun (oil-cooled data center, anyone?), but the topic is serious: How can the IT industry keep growing while also exercising good environmental stewardship?

We disclosed for the first time details about the design of our ultra-efficient data centers. We also provided a first-ever video tour of a Google container data center as well as a water treatment facility. We detailed how we measure data center efficiency and discussed how we reduced our facility energy use by up to 85%. The engineers who developed our efficient battery backup solution even brought an actual Google server to the event.

By the end of the day, we narrowed in on a recurring theme: Reducing resource use through efficiency efforts is not just good for the environment, it saves money too. And it is this economic advantage which makes efficient data centers not just green, but truly sustainable.

For a tour of a Google container data center check out the video below or watch the entire summit: part 1, part 2, and part 3.



Posted by Jimmy Clidaras, Principal Engineer
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/designing-lean-green-energy-saving.html

[G] London Open Source Jam 12: On a Budget

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Google Open Source Blog: London Open Source Jam 12: On a Budget

After a somewhat longer than usual hiatus, the Google London Open Source Jam was back to its usual Thursday night. With the G-20 in town, and the finances of the world a hot topic, what better to talk about than "Open Source - On a Budget"? We had a good mix of on (and off!) topic discussions, project updates, invites, and calls for help set the tone for some excellent discussions.

The five minute talks came fast and thick. The following folks shared more with all of us about their latest and greatest adventures into Open Source:

Matt Godbolt: Matt talked about his experiences working with FFMpeg on YouTube Mobile , and asked is "Free software really free?" (Conclusion: It's not free but probably saves a lot of work.)


Matt Godbolt's Inaugural OSJam

John Ripley: John helped us to build our own consumer electronics. John talked about turning your old toaster into an mp3 player. Why would one do this, you may ask? Well, if you've asked then this likely isn't the best project for you.

Matthew Bickerton: Matthew discussed TikiWiki, a multilingual Content Management System/wiki, how he got involved and why it's a good project for people who are just getting started in Open Source.

Carl Harroch: Carl gave us an update on the London Android meetup and invited everyone to come along for the next go 'round.

Tav: Does Tav have the lead on Web 4.0? He proposed "Peer Computing not Cloud Computing" while giving us an overview of the Plexnet platform.

Sam Mbale: Sam shared his thoughts on how he's getting people excited about Open Social in Africa.

Stephen Colebourne: Stephen gave us the inside track on Java Specification Request (JSR) 310 - Date and Time. What's the cost of developing a JSR? Is it really nearly 47,000 GBP?

Alp Toker - Alp, a WebKit developer, talked about the cost and compatibility problems that surround conflicting coding standards.

Simon Stewart: Simon presented some answers the age old questions "Isn't maintenance dull?" and "It's a real shame that writing code is so easy, but maintaining it so hard and expensive. How do we make it cheaper?" He talked about writing good end to end tests (possibly with WebDriver), and the benefits of the Model View Presenter coding pattern.


Simon Stewart, WebDriver Master

Chris - Chris shared a case study on saving a local business money by switching to some Open Source software. Chris' advice? Don't force the change, let the software stand on its merit, and Open Source does work.

Shaun McDonald - Shaun is works with Open Street Map to plan cycle routes without buying expensive data and routing software. Now we know how to do cycle routing on the cheap.

We hope our guests found the evening as fun and informative as we did. If you are in or around London, you are welcome to join us for the next Open Source Jam. Keep your eye on our London Open Source Jam site for an announcement of the next meeting.

By Zak Cohen, Software Engineering Team
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2009/04/london-open-source-jam-12-on-budget.html

[G] Site maintenance on Saturday, April 11

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Inside AdSense: Site maintenance on Saturday, April 11

Our engineers will be performing routine site maintenance this coming Saturday from 10am to 2pm PDT. Although you won't be able to log in to your account between these hours, we'll continue to track your clicks, impressions and earnings as usual. In addition, ad serving and targeting won't be affected.

We've converted the maintenance start time for our international readers:

London - 6pm Saturday
Bucharest - 8pm Saturday
Kolkata - 10:30pm Saturday
Bandung - 12am Sunday
Sydney - 3am Sunday

Thanks for your patience. In the meantime, if you're curious about what goes on during these maintenance periods, check out this post from one of our AdSense engineers.

Posted by Arlene Lee - Inside AdSense Team
URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2009/04/site-maintenance-on-saturday-april-11.html

[G] AdWords system maintenance on April 11th

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Inside AdWords: AdWords system maintenance on April 11th

On Saturday, April 11th, 2009, the AdWords system will be unavailable from approximately 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. PST due to system maintenance. While you won't be able to sign in to your accounts during this time, your campaigns will continue to run as usual. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Posted by Emel Mutlu, Inside AdWords crew
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/04/adwords-system-maintenance-on-april.html

[G] Click-to-Buy Expands to 8 New Countries

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YouTube Blog: Click-to-Buy Expands to 8 New Countries

Whether you come to YouTube to watch a specific video, discover related content, or engage and interact with people and videos from all around the world, our goal is to put you in control of your online video experience. This means making it easier for you to find what you're looking for (like dedicated channels for music or HD videos) and offering you new and innovative ways to engage with that content.



One way we already offer you this kind of deeper experience on YouTube involves music videos on the site: Click-to-Buy, our eCommerce platform, helps you find products (like songs and DVDs) related to the videos that you're watching. A recent study found that after watching a music video on YouTube, 50% of adult users in the U.K. then go on to purchase music from that artist. And we've seen these results for ourselves -- three of the four major music labels are Click-to-Buy partners and are already selling millions of songs a year from these links on YouTube.



We're excited to announce that today we're rolling out Click-to-Buy links on music videos in 8 additional countries: Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, and Sweden. Now Click-to-Buy partners can offer music downloads to hundreds of millions of people around the world.



We enjoy working with our music partners to provide them with these kinds of opportunities, and we look forward to further expanding the program in the coming months.



Best,

Thai Tran

Product Manager

The YouTube Team
URL: http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=7v5lovqyz0Q

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

[G] Click-to-Buy expands to 8 new countries

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Official Google Blog: Click-to-Buy expands to 8 new countries

Whether you come to YouTube to watch a specific video, discover related content, or engage and interact with people and videos from all around the world, our goal is to put you in control of your online video experience. This means making it easier for you to find what you're looking for (like dedicated channels for music or HD videos) and offering you new and innovative ways to engage with that content.

One way we already offer you this kind of deeper experience on YouTube involves music videos on the site: Click-to-Buy, our eCommerce platform, helps you find products (like songs and DVDs) related to the videos that you're watching. A recent study found that after watching a music video on YouTube, 50% of adult users in the U.K. then go on to purchase music from that artist. And we've seen these results for ourselves — three of the four major music labels are Click-to-Buy partners and are already selling millions of songs a year from these links on YouTube.

We're excited to announce that today we're rolling out Click-to-Buy links on music videos in 8 additional countries: Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, and Sweden. Now Click-to-Buy partners can offer music downloads to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

We enjoy working with our music partners to provide them with these kinds of opportunities, and we look forward to further expanding the program in the coming months.

Posted by Thai Tran, YouTube Product Manager
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/click-to-buy-expands-to-8-new-countries.html

[G] New in Labs: Sender time zone

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Official Gmail Blog: New in Labs: Sender time zone

Posted by Marcin Brodziak, Software Engineer

Let's say your girlfriend sends you an angry email. It's mostly about how you behaved at the party last night and then left for a business trip without saying goodbye. You read it from the other side of the globe, jet-lagged after a 12 hour flight. You want to call and sort things out, but forget that it's now almost 3:00 am her time. After waking her up, things only get worse.

There's a new feature in Gmail Labs called Sender Time Zone that can help. Turn it on from the Labs tab under Settings, and you'll see green phone icons next to people who are probably awake and readily reachable (if it's between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm in the sender's local time zone) and red ones next to those who could be sleeping or out of the office:



Click "show details" and you can see when a message was sent in the sender's time zone as well as what time it is for them now:



Message headers always include the time sent and often include time zone info too. We use that information to show you these icons. If the time zone isn't included for a given message, this Labs feature won't display anything. Try it out and tell us what you think.
URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/new-in-labs-sender-time-zone.html

[G] April Seminars for Success - Boston, Orange County and Honolulu

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Google Analytics Blog: Web Analytics Tips & Tricks: April Seminars for Success - Boston, Orange County and Honolulu

We promised Hawaii when we first launch and now we can deliver! If that doesn't work, we will delivering seminars in Orange County and Boston! That's 3 cities to choose from in April.

It's your choice.. Pacific sun and surf in Orange County or Honolulu, flowers blooming in Boston. These seminars are brought to you by our Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer experts.

Learn how to truly leverage the power of Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer through Seminars for Success this spring in Orange County and Honolulu. These full day, interactive seminars are led in person by the experts and designed to give you the skills necessary for a competitive edge in today’s tough competitive landscape. Understanding the wealth of data provided by your website and your visitors, coupled with systematically rising conversion rates through landing page testing will put you one up over the competition!

Google Analytics – Introduction & User Training
Orange County - Wednesday, April 15
Honolulu – Tuesday, April 21
Boston - Monday, April 27

Day one offers an introduction to Google Analytics and then some. Learn how to turn the sea of web analytics data into information that you can use to make the decisions that drive your bottom line. Day one topics include:
  • Introduction to Web Analytics
  • Common Interface Features
  • Dashboard Reports & Customization
  • Understanding Visitors, Traffic Sources, Content, Goals and Ecommerce
  • Motion Chart Visualization
  • Analytics Best Practices for Branding, Lead Generation & Ecommerce
  • And much, much more…
Google Analytics – Advanced Technical Implementation
Orange County – Thursday, April 16
Honolulu – Wednesday, April 22
Boston- Tuesday, April 28

The second day will show you how to install and configure the advanced features and capabilities of Google Analytics. We'll show you how to use every ounce of this tool with tips and tricks, technical aspects, and how to avoid common problems. Day two topics include:
  • Profiles and Strategies
  • Filters – Uses and Implementation
  • Goals & Funnels - Configuration & Setup
  • Ecommerce Implementations
  • Site Search, Event Tracking, Custom Reporting and Advanced Segmentation
  • And much, much more…
Landing Page Testing with Google Website Optimizer
Orange County – Friday, April 17
Honolulu – Thursday, April 23

Learn how to make the most of the visitors to your site with landing page testing and get hands-on experience in designing, setting up, running, and analyzing A/B and multivariate tests with Google Website Optimizer. The experts will show you how to improve your users’ experience and continually increase your conversion rates through testing. The Website Optimizer Seminar includes:
  • An overview of testing and Website Optimizer
  • How to identify problematic pages and estimate sample sizes
  • Loads of testing best practices drawn from real tests and case studies
  • Hands-on lab experience in setting up, configuring, & launching both A/B and Multivariate tests
  • How to interpret the data and run follow up experiments
Seats are limited, so register today for the April seminars!
Posted by Eva Woo, Google Analytics Team
URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2009/04/april-seminars-for-success-boston.html

[G] Explore Google Earth Tours in your browser

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Google LatLong: Explore Google Earth Tours in your browser


Ever since KML touring was introduced as part of the Google Earth 5.0 release in February, geo content authors have created some very impressive 3D content visualization experiences on this new platform. Now, you can enjoy these engaging experiences right from the comfort of your own browser with the Google Earth Plugin!

To try out some of our favorite Google Earth tours in your web browser, visit our commemorative tour gallery. Some of the tours in the gallery include a Flight 1549 re-enactment, a flyover of San Francisco (created with Arc2Earth by Brian Flood), and an Introduction to Mars narrated by Ira Flatow.


Embedding your own tours in your website
If you've recorded a tour in Google Earth and want to embed it on your own web site, you can do so easily with the Embedded Tour Player Google gadget:

1) First, save your recorded tour to a KML file. You can save to KMZ to improve download speeds for your users.

2) Upload your tour KML file to your website so that it's accessible to the public.

3) Visit the Embedded Tour Player gadget page and paste in the URL to your tour KML file.

4) Click the 'Get the Code' button and copy the <script> tag HTML to your web page.

That's it! If you're handy with JavaScript and want to do more with touring in the Google Earth Plugin, visit the Google Earth API developer site!

Posted by Roman Nurik, Google Geo APIs Team
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/04/explore-google-earth-tours-in-your.html

[G] India <3 Google Summer of Code™

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Google Open Source Blog: India <3 Google Summer of Code™

This year Google Summer of Code had 610 students apply from India, the second highest number of applicants after the United States. The Google Summer of Code community in India has always been active, and this may be part of the reason India's application numbers have been so strong.

One example of such community activity occurred on March 28, 2009. Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology SD India student Ajay Kumar, a GSoC 2008 student for Sahana, organized a meetup at Cafe Coffee Day on the Indian Institute of Technology Madras campus. Ajay was joined by fellow Google Summer of Code 2008 students S. Sudharshan (Openmoko) and Arun Chaganty (GNOME) to answer questions, give advice, and encourage six aspiring 2009 students. Rounding out the mix was a member of IIT Madras' Linux User Group. Together they discussed proposal writing guidelines, communication guidelines, eligibility, choosing a project, and most of all, how much fun Google Summer of Code is!

Take a look at some of the photos from the event, and check out the Google Summer of Code - Indian Community group for more information about upcoming events.


by Ellen Ko, Open Source Team
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2009/04/india-3-google-summer-of-code.html

[G] Updates to AdWords conversion metrics

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Inside AdWords: Updates to AdWords conversion metrics

We know different campaign goals often require different success metrics. If you want to drive online purchases, you probably look at the total number of sales, so if one person buys three items from your web site, you'd want to count three sales. But if you're measuring leads, you may care more about unique leads, so if the same person fills out a lead form three times on your site, you'd want to count them only once.

To make it easier for you to manage campaigns with a variety of advertising goals, in the coming months we're updating AdWords conversion tracking metrics in the new AdWords interface and other AdWords account management platforms (such as AdWords Editor and the AdWords API).

Today we've taken the first step by clarifying the conversion terminology on the AdWords Report Center and conversion tracking tool pages. "Conversions" columns are now labeled Conversions (1-per-click), while "Transactions" columns are now called Conversions (many-per-click). The current AdWords campaign management pages display 1-per-click conversions, so if one click leads to multiple conversions, they're counted only once. On the other hand, many-per-click conversions count each conversion that occurs after a click on your ad.

Here's an example to explain the difference: Let's say you're selling gardening supplies online and you've set up conversion tracking on your "Thank You For Your Purchase" and your "Newsletter Subscription Confirmed" pages.

If a customer clicks on your ad, buys a bag of peat moss, then subscribes to your newsletter, you'll see two many-per-click conversions, but just a single 1-per-click conversion in your account. If the same customer returns to your site a few days later and buys a trowel (but doesn't click on one of your AdWords ads to get there), you'll now see three many-per-click conversions, but your 1-per-click conversions will still remain at one.

By focusing on many-per-click conversions, you may be able to more easily compare AdWords campaign performance with the performance of your other online advertising campaigns, since a large number of online ad serving and search campaign management tools (such as DART for Search) use many-per-click conversions as the default conversion metric.

You can learn more about the new terminology, as well as get guidance on when to use each of the different conversion metrics to measure success, in this Help Center article.

Over time these metrics will also be released to AdWords Editor, the AdWords API, and the new AdWords interface. We'll also improve conversion tracking for display advertisers through the release of view-through conversion tracking for campaigns on the Google Content Network.

We hope these reporting enhancements to conversion tracking will make it easier for you to manage campaigns with a wide variety of advertising goals.

Posted by Emel Mutlu, Inside AdWords crew
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/04/updates-to-adwords-conversion-metrics.html

[G] Search the rainbow

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Official Google Blog: Search the rainbow

No one likes to take work home, but lately I've been looking forward to it. That's because I've been working on our new color filter in Google Image Search, and my daughter and I have been having a great time together looking at all the colorful animals that we've seen in the tide pools. "Papa, do the green noodle fish."


"Papa, now do the red one."


She loves it.

Today, I'm happy to announce that you too can use our color filter in your own image searches. Just search for something the way you normally would, such as [tulips]. On the results page, click on the "All colors" drop down in the blue bar and choose a color. For example, try restricting your results to [yellow tulips]. Want to see purple tulips instead? Simply click on the color filter again, select purple, and voila — you have pages of beautiful images!

You can also combine the color filter with any other image filter to further refine your search. For example, if you're looking for an image of an orange butterfly, try restricting to photos or clip art.

Color is one of the basic visual elements of an image. Whether you're browsing through photos of sea creatures and flowers or searching for the perfect orange butterfly, we hope you like our new color filter. We've been rolling this out gradually, but it will be available to everyone soon.

Posted by Donald Tanguay, Software Engineer
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/search-rainbow.html

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

[G] L'Aquila, Italy Earthquake Imagery

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Google LatLong: L'Aquila, Italy Earthquake Imagery


Early Monday morning, the Italian region of Abruzzo was hit by a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. The epicenter of the quake was in L'Aquila, a town about 100km northeast of Rome. According to the latest news reports, authorities fear that more than 200 people may have lost their lives.

We have just received post-earthquake IKONOS imagery from GeoEye, one of our commercial satellite partners. You can view this imagery by downloading this KML and viewing it in Google Earth.

You can also find the imagery on a dedicated landing page created by the Google Italy team hosting links to Google News and Google Maps, as well as some background information on earthquakes and seismic activity and information about fund-raising initiatives for relief efforts. We hope this will give people a better sense of what's happening in the region.

We will keep updating the KML as we receive and process more satellite imagery. Save the KML to your "My Places" to see the imagery updates.

The first scene of the area can be seen below:


Our hearts go out to the victims, their families, and the population that has been affected by this tragedy.

Posted by the Google Italy Team
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/04/laquila-italy-earthquake-imagery.html

[G] S'More enterprise developer tools: App Engine and Secure Data Connector

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: S'More enterprise developer tools: App Engine and Secure Data Connector

Every once in a while, we invite members of the developer community to visit Mountain View campus to talk shop, share news, and eat Google'sS'mores. We call these events "Google Campfire One," and we held a lively one tonight.

At tonight's Campfire One we announced some developer tools that we think will be pretty interesting to businesses: a new release of Google App Engine and the Google Secure Data Connector (SDC). Enterprise developers and IT professionals have been asking for tools like these to add custom applications to Google Apps and to connect Google Apps with their existing IT systems.

App Engine already lets Google Apps customers build apps just for their users. The new features make it even easier to build and deploy business apps that integrate with Google Apps, and SDC gives enterprises a way to help connect their firewalled data to their Google Apps domain. Ten other companies, including Oracle™ and IBM™, participated in tonight's Campfire One to announce new apps and services incorporating these tools.

Cron, JavaTM, and GWT for App Engine

Based on developer feedback, we've added several features to App Engine, including the ability to schedule tasks to run automatically (cron) and new database import/export tools to simplify moving gigabytes of data into/out of App Engine.

We also announced an early look at App Engine's support for the Java language. We made this standards-based so Java developers can build apps with familiar APIs and move them to other application servers if the need arises. In fact, tonight's Campfire showcased IBM's demo of moving an app to IBM Websphere with just a few code changes (we're giving 10,000 interested developers an early look at our Java language support, so test it out and send feedback).

We've also integrated App Engine with the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) and the Eclipse IDE so developers will be able write their apps from end-to-end in the Java language in a single IDE. During the Campfire, Appirio™, a Google Apps solution provider, showed how App Engine plus GWT and the Google Visualization API let them quickly write and deploy a complete recruiting management app without setting up servers or dealing with cross-browser compatibility.

Encrypted connection to firewalled data

We also talked about giving developers who work on cloud-based business apps access to behind-the-firewall data – previously a difficult issue to tackle. To help solve this problem, we built the Google Secure Data Connector (SDC), a downloadable agent which lets IT admins connect Google Apps to resources behind the firewall.

Today, you can use SDC with gadgets in Google Sites, App Engine applications, and spreadsheets in Google Docs. As part of tonight's event, Oracle showed how Oracle CRM gadgets will let their customers interact with sales and customer information from within Google Apps.

Several other companies announced support for SDC in their products tonight. Cast Iron Systems has added built-in support for SDC to their integration appliance, allowing Google Apps to integrate with hundreds of different systems through a point-and-click interface. Panorama Software has added support for SDC to their gadgets, allowing you to visualize and analyze business data right in the browser. ThoughtWorks™, Cloud Sherpas™, Sword Group™, Ping Identity™, and PivotLink™ also participated in this Campfire One event. You can learn more about their announcements on our Campfire One participants page.

You can visit Google Code to learn more about our developer tools, and if you're a developer, be sure to come to Google I/O in San Francisco, California, on May 27-28th.

By the way, we shared the highlights of tonight's Campfire real-time on Twitter. Visit us there at http://twitter.com/googleatwork to see the current stream.


Posted by Brandon Nutter, Engineering Manager

Java is a trademark or registered trademark of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

All other company and product names may be trademarks of the companies with which they are associated.
URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2009/04/smore-enterprise-developer-tools-app.html

[G] New features and an early look at Java for App Engine

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Official Google Blog: New features and an early look at Java for App Engine

Scarcity brings clarity, and many companies are taking important steps to adjust to today's economic climate. At Google, we've started changing the way we build and release products.

In the past six months alone we've launched nearly 50 projects and small products on Google App Engine -- from Google Moderator and Labs for Google Apps to internal-facing tools for both our Ads and Web teams. In all cases we found it quicker, easier, and more cost-effective to leave the infrastructure to App Engine, and the actual product-building to our engineering teams.

Running our internal and external apps on App Engine isn't without difficulty, however, and we've learned a lot in the process. Tonight at Campfire One we released a new set of features -- based on community and internal feedback -- that helps App Engine interface more easily with businesses' existing technologies:
By reducing the administrative headaches that come with scaling and distributing an application, we hope that App Engine will continue to let developers do what they do best: launch services that delight users.

Check back soon for videos from tonight's Campfire One. 

To learn more about Google App Engine or today's announcements, feel free to check out the Google Code Blog or online docs. You can also register for our annual developer conference, Google I/O, as the App Engine team will be there to answer any questions you might have, as well as unveil a few surprises.

Java is a trademark or registered trademark of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

Posted by Kevin Gibbs, Tech Lead, Google App Engine
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/04/new-features-and-early-look-at-java-for.html

[G] Regular Expression Tips and Tricks

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Google Analytics Blog: Web Analytics Tips & Tricks: Regular Expression Tips and Tricks

What are Regular Expressions and Why Use Them?

Regular Expressions (RegEx) are a set of characters you can use match one or more strings of text. The main reason to use Regular Expressions is that they support wildcard matching, letting you capture a lot of variations (in URLs for example) using a single string of characters.

Here are a few examples when Regular Expressions are useful in Google Analytics:
  1. Matching multiple pages when defining a goal or funnel page
  2. Exclude a range of IP addresses when defining a filter
  3. Defining complex advanced segments
  4. Including and excluding multiple URLs from reports such as the Top Content report



Check out this help center article for some basic definitions of Regular Expressions and how they work.

Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips, tricks and flourishes to make your RegEx sing.
  1. USE TRIAL AND ERROR: There is only one really, really good way to write Regular Expressions. You can use all the testing tools in the world, but the only good way is to get them wrong, and then rewrite them and rewrite them until you are sure that they are right. So... be sure to have a profile that you can use just for testing.


  2. KEEP IT SIMPLE: If you need to write an expression to match "new visits", and the only options that you will be matching against are "new visits" and "repeat visits," just the word "new" is good enough.

  3. REGULAR EXPRESSIONS ARE GREEDY: They will match everything they possibly can, unless you force them not to. If your expression is "visits", it will match "new visits" and "repeat visits." After all, they both included the expression "visits." To make them less greedy, you have to make them more specific

  4. DON'T OVER DO IT: (See #3 above.) For example, many people use a Regular Expression only when creating an IP address filter. If the IP address is 6.255.255.255, they create an expression like this: 6\.255\.255\.255 -- and forget that that will also match 26.255.255.255, etc. So in a situation like this, you really do need to start with a beginning anchor, ^6\.255\.255\.255 . A beginning anchor (called a carat), says, "To be a match, it has to start here."

  5. MATCH EVERYTHING WITH .*: Some combinations of Regular Expressions are very special. Perhaps the most useful combination is a dot followed by a star, like this: .* And don't forget about a dot followed by a star, but in parenthesis, like this: (.*) The first one means, get everything. It is your ultimate wildcard. On the other hand, (.*) means, get everything and put it in a variable. You'll find that (.*) is very helpful when you are creating custom advanced filters.

  6. BACKSLASH TO ESCAPE: Backslash is the most frequent RegEx you will probably use. It means, take this special character and turn it into an everyday character. So if you are trying to match to "www.mysite.com?pid=123," you have a problem -- unless you use your backslash. The question mark is a Regular Expression, and only by using a backslash, like this: "www.mysite.com\?pid=123" can you take away its special powers. If you aren't sure whether something is a Regular Expression or not, go ahead and use that backslash -- it won't do any harm.




  7. WHITESPACE IS WHITESPACE: The most frequent question you might ask is, "How do I create a white space with Regular Expressions?" The answer is usually, just use white space. So if you need to match to "Google Analytics," you can make your Regular Expression be "Google Analytics."

Other Resources

Most of the basic Regular Expressions (RegEx) needs are covered in the Google Analytics documentation (you should start here if you want to learn those basics). Watch out though, just because something is not in here doesn't mean Google Analytics doesn't support it.

Other good sources are regular-expressions.info and RegEx Coach, an interactive tool for testing Regular Expressions.

How do you use Regular Expressions? Leave a comment and let us know!

Posted by Robbin Steif of LunaMetrics , a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant

URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2009/04/regular-expression-tips-and-tricks.html