Friday, April 24, 2009

[G] Distributed Version Control for Project Hosting Users

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Google Open Source Blog: Distributed Version Control for Project Hosting Users

Love our Open Source project hosting service but wish it supported distributed version control? Pine no longer! You can find full details about Mercurial support for hosted projects on the Google Code Blog.

For those of you who are Git fans, you may want to check out these articles: Develop with Git on a Google Code Project and Exporting a Git Project to Google Code.

Happy hacking!

By Leslie Hawthorn, Open Source Team

[G] Word on the street...

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Google LatLong: Word on the street...

Since launching Street View in new cities and countries around the world we've heard a bunch of stories from friends, colleagues and the media about how it's been put to use - from the practical to the downright surprising.

We've been told about virtual trips down memory lane from people who've since moved across the other side of the world or students reminiscing about their old haunts and even heard that Street View helped severe agoraphobia. And these are from the few we know about. We figure there must be many more interesting stories about how Street View is being used in daily life. If you have an interesting story you'd like to share then we'd love to hear it. You can let us know here. We may even "Tweet" your story on our brand new Twitter account!

Posted by Elaine Filadelfo, Lat Long Blog Team

[G] Engineering a healthier diet

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Official Google Blog: Engineering a healthier diet

Back in 2007, the cafes at our Mountain View campus started color-coding menu items according to healthfulness. The healthiest items are colored green ("go ahead, pile it on!"), foods you should portion-control are yellow, and foods you should eat sparingly -- in the words of my favorite recently reformed blue monster, "sometimes foods" -- are red.

While the whole point of the color-coding was to encourage healthy eating, and Google certainly makes it very easy for one to do that, I quickly realized that all of my favorite food items were colored red on the menus. Since all of the cafe menus are posted to separate pages of our intranet, it took too long to look through them to find the one or two items that would hook me into eating at a particular cafe for the day. So I decided to write a script that scans all the pages and creates a single unified menu of just the "heart-stoppingly good" food in all of the Mountain View cafes. (The nutritionist at Google at the time called them "least healthy" rather than "heart-stoppingly good.")

It took only a few minutes to write the script for the menus as they existed on the first day I ran it, but there were complications as each following day's menus started rolling in. Not all the chefs were using the same programs to create HTML menus, so the colors were all marked up differently in each. Every morning, I found I needed to add special cases to handle the various HTML variations to the original awk script that I'd started with. Every chef had a different idea of which color should be used for red items, green items and yellow items (the favored color for "yellow" text on white background is actually orange), so I ended up having to write a formula to perceptually classify the colors (by hue angle). Plus, I started to learn how hard things must be for someone who is blind or colorblind when reading web pages. To solve that problem, I had the program generate well-structured HTML with CSS classes applied to each menu item to handle things in a consistent way that was easy to filter by XPath.

After I finished the script, I sent a link to the new web page to an internal food discussion mailing list, and soon enough I was receiving fan mail. What I'd intended to be a tool for my own personal use proved so popular that, early this year, the chefs at Google asked if I could expand the tool to include support for historical statistics. They wanted to keep track of which cafes had the greenest menus over time. The result is a tool that tracks the healthiness of all menu items at Google cafes around the world. You can see every color menu item in a single menu and toggle colors on and off as desired, depending on how you want to browse the menus. So I can look only at red items if I'm in the mood for pepperoni pizza or roasted garlic mashed potatoes. And if I want leafy greens, I can limit the menu to show only the healthiest dishes. It has other uses, too: a cafe in Switzerland, for example, could use the stats page (filled with graphs generated using the Google Chart API) to compete with a cafe in Mountain View for the title of "healthiest cafe." In fact, all the Google cafes worldwide are now in a heated competition now for this very title.

If you suspect I've gone "green," and if my mom is reading this: I have. I'm eating healthier, I've had my cholesterol checked, and I walk at least three miles every day. For everyone else, don't worry -- after I produced the healthiest cafe statistics page, I also made another set of graphs that ranks by red items. If you see me eating red items at Google, please don't tell my mom.

Posted by Nathan Laredo, Software Engineer

[G] Google and OTX present: The Brand Value of Search

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Inside AdWords: Google and OTX present: The Brand Value of Search

You may use your AdWords campaigns to drive people to your site or to drive sales online, but did you know that paid search can also be a powerful brand-building tool?

In a recent study, Google and the OTX research firm explored how search can impact branding across five travel product categories: Air Travel, Car Rental, Cruise, Hotel and Online Travel Agency.

Join us on Thursday, April 30th at 1:00pm EST to learn how paid search can:
  • Lift key metrics for your brand
  • Increase traffic to your site
You can register here to attend.

Posted by Amanda Kelly, Inside AdWords crew

[G] Google Maps now on Twitter!

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Google LatLong: Google Maps now on Twitter!

Want to know what's on our minds or what we're up to at any given moment? Google Maps is now talking on Twitter under the name GoogleMaps. @GoogleMaps will share information on cool uses and product tips for Google Maps, behind-the-scenes musings from Googlers and general goings-on in the mapping world. We're also going to use Twitter to listen to the things that you want to suggest and say to us.

Here are some of our most recent tweets:

"Twitter?," some may ask. It's the 140-character "microblogging" site that's gained a huge fan base from both individuals and organizations – and we're glad to be joining the ranks. We think it will be a great community and home for the Google Maps team, and we hope that you'll follow us there. Here's how: if you're already using Twitter, simply click here and choose "follow". If you're not using Twitter yet, sign up here – it's easy, and free – and then "follow" GoogleMaps.

This blog won't change at all based on our use of Twitter - except in one way: in the right sidebar, you will now see a live feed of recent tweets and a new link that will bring you to our Twitter account. See you there!

Posted by Julie Zhou, Chief Maps Twitterer

[G] Project Spectrum: recognizing the talents of children with autism

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Official Google Blog: Project Spectrum: recognizing the talents of children with autism

A couple of years ago, the Google SketchUp team began hearing from a new group of users -- people on the autism spectrum. After consulting with some experts, we learned the connection between autism and SketchUp isn't particularly surprising. Many people on the autism spectrum have visual and spatial strengths, and 3D design software plays to them. With this in mind, we started a program called Project Spectrum.

As part of Autism Awareness Month in April, we've launched a new webpage showcasing some great SketchUp artists (Rachel, Jeremy, JP and others). We've also created a Getting Started with Google SketchUp video for anyone who wants to learn the basic tools to start modeling. More of the Project Spectrum models can be seen in the Google 3D Warehouse collection. Watch the video below to hear the story behind Project Spectrum and meet some of the kids involved:

Googlers around the world are working with the autism community to introduce kids, teachers, parents and adults to SketchUp, and we've been inspired by the results. We hope you take the time to look at Project Spectrum and share it with others in your community. For more detail, check out the Google SketchUp blog.

Posted by Tom Wyman and Chris Cronin, Project Spectrum Team

[G] Slam Dunk: Last Chance to Submit!

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YouTube Blog: Slam Dunk: Last Chance to Submit!

If you or someone you know has formidable dunking skills, the window of opportunity to be named "Best Dunker on YouTube" is closing quickly — the last chance to submit a dunk video to the YouTube Slam Dunk contest ends at midnight this Sunday, April 26.

We've seen some incredible submissions which you can view in the Gallery on the Slam Dunk channel. The judges for the contest — Chris Bosh, Jalen Rose and Team Flight Brothers — will select the top 20 dunkers to move on to the final round (May 6 - 24), when the YouTube community will vote on the winner.

Everything you need to know in order to submit is in this video:

Now get out there and show the world what you can do.


Andrew Bangs

YouTube Sports

Thursday, April 23, 2009

[G] View PowerPoint attachments in Gmail and upload them to Google Docs

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Official Google Docs Blog: View PowerPoint attachments in Gmail and upload them to Google Docs

If you're an active Gmail user, you probably know that you can open Microsoft Word and Excel attachments from within Gmail and import them to Google Docs. Gmail also provided a basic View as slideshow option for PowerPoint attachments.

Today we're improving this feature by making it easier for you to upload presentations from Gmail and edit them in Google Docs. When you receive a PowerPoint attachment, simply click the View option to open and preview the presentation in a new online viewer, powered by Google Docs. If you'd like to save the presentation to Google Docs, just click Edit Online and it'll be imported into Google Docs.

To read more about this new viewer, check out the Gmail blog.

Posted by: Stephen Drennan, Google Docs Consumer Operations

[G] Feeds not appearing on My Feeds for a few publishers

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The FeedBurner Status Blog: Feeds not appearing on My Feeds for a few publishers

Issue: A few publishers who sign in to FeedBurner may not see their feeds listed on the main My Feeds page. All feeds are accounted for and serving updates; none have been lost. We discovered this bug early today and are working to publish a fix for it immediately. (We will update this post once the fix is live and all affected publishers should again be able to see and manage their feeds).

Workaround: None.

[G] Try out new features in Google Toolbar Labs

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Official Google Blog: Try out new features in Google Toolbar Labs

One of the best things about working on the Google Toolbar team is that when someone says "Wouldn't it be great if Toolbar could...," our answer is usually "Yes! Let's build it!" And then it's just a question of when. To test these ideas more easily, today we're introducing Google Toolbar Labs. Just as Google Labs and Gmail Labs are playgrounds for new ideas, Toolbar Labs was built to get ideas out there quickly to see how you like them.

And now we're ready to roll out our first two Labs versions of Toolbar. Drum roll, please...

Google Toolbar with My Location

Back in September, the Mobile team launched Mobile Search with My Location. Looking at this, we wanted to figure our how we could bring the same convenience of typing fewer words to computer users. With Toolbar with My Location, both Google Maps and the included Maps gadget automatically center on your current location. Similarly, you can just do a search like [thai food], and you will receive a list of nearby restaurants and more local Google search results. This feature is similar to IP-based local search results announced earlier this month, except Google Toolbar with My Location can determine a more accurate location by using nearby Wi-Fi access points. This is done without associating location information with a user's Google Account. Google Toolbar with My Location is only available in the U.S.

Google Simplified Chinese Toolbar

We recognize that due to differences in local language structures, users who speak other languages may have specific needs for browsing the web. To address this, our team in China developed a slightly different Toolbar concept called the Google Simplified Chinese Toolbar (Google工具栏简体中文版). We updated the user interface to use the space more effectively, and users will be able to translate pages with a single click and manage bookmarks with a new sidebar. This toolbar is only available in Simplified Chinese.

A few things to keep in mind as you check out Toolbar Labs: It's a forum to test out new ideas, so some of these ideas will make it into the standard Toolbar, but others may not. Also, Labs versions are not as well-tested as beta versions, so they may be slightly more unstable. And Toolbar Labs is currently available for Internet Explorer only.

We hope to bring you the next batch soon. Meanwhile, we look forward to hearing your feedback on these two new toolbars!

Posted by Aseem Sood and Susan Taing, Toolbar Product Team

[G] My Location now in Google Toolbar

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Official Google Mobile Blog: My Location now in Google Toolbar

Since its launch in Nov 2007, My Location has helped millions of people know where they are and get better local results on their mobile devices. We thought, wouldn't it be great if laptop and desktop users could also take advantage of My Location?

Today we're pleased to announce the launch of Google Toolbar with My Location, part of a new initiative called Toolbar Labs.

Imagine searching for pizza from your computer and seeing the closest pizza places without having to enter your location. No more entering zip codes or city names in your queries -- isn't that magical? Of course, you can already do this with your phone, and searches on the computer can sometimes use an IP address to determine the city that you're in. But now your location can be determined much more precisely on your computer (as long as you opt in) and you can get better search results.

How does this work? Google Toolbar with My Location uses information about surrounding Wi-Fi access points to estimate your location. Naturally, this means it won't work if you're on a computer that doesn't have Wi-Fi (or has Wi-Fi turned off).

Along with getting more locally relevant Google search results, we also have additional goodies. Entering "" in your browser takes you to Google Maps automatically centered around your current location. You are one step closer to finding what you want. There is also a Google Maps gadget that uses My Location, installed in the Toolbar by default.

We take user privacy very seriously, so we make it easy for you to disable or enable the "My Location" functionality in Toolbar with just the click of a button. If you would like to know more about our privacy policy, please refer to this link.

We are really excited about this launch and hope to hear from you what you think. Let us know!

Google Toolbar with My Location is currently available only for Internet Explorer and works only within the US. You can download it from here.

Written by Venkat Malladi and Tsuwei Chen, Software Engineers, Google Mobile

[G] PowerPoint and TIFF file viewing

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Official Gmail Blog: PowerPoint and TIFF file viewing

Posted by Marc Miller, Software Engineer

A few months ago, we added fast online viewing of PDFs in your browser. As of today, that same viewer now supports TIFF and Microsoft PowerPoint document formats too: you can now view TIFF and PPT files online, directly in your browser, without having to save the files to your computer and without needing to buy, install, or wait for any special software to start up.

We've had a "View as slideshow" option for PowerPoint files for a while; now we've integrated this conversion technology into the same viewer that we use for PDFs and TIFFs.

This viewer provides a richer set of features than the old "View as slideshow" version: you can zoom in and out, select text to copy and paste, and "print" the presentation to a PDF document. And, unlike the old version, we no longer require you to have a Flash plugin installed on your browser.

I don't know about you, but the TIFF files I receive are almost always multiple-page faxes -- and the default TIFF viewer on my computer only shows me the first page. It's quite frustrating. On the other hand, our online viewer, powered by Google Docs, will show you every page and give you the option to "print" the TIFF by opening it as a ready-to-print PDF.

[G] New Interface Thursdays: All about filters

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Inside AdWords: New Interface Thursdays: All about filters

Have you used filters in the new AdWords interface yet? Filters allow you to look at just the data you want within your account. You can use filters throughout your account and save them for later use.

Let's take a look at some of the cool things you can do with filters. First, no matter what tab you're in, you'll find filters under Filter and views.

Setting up a filter is the same whether you're working with ad groups, keywords, or placement; though, the criteria you can filter by does depend on what you're trying to filter. For example, you can filter keywords by match type, but you can't filter ad groups by match type.

To set up a filter, just specify the criteria you want. You can add additional rules to make your filter more specific. For example, you can set filters for clickthrough rate (CTR) and average position at the same time to see keywords with a high CTR appearing on the second page of search results. If you want to re-use the same filter repeatedly, you can save it by checking the Save Filter box.

Let's say we'd like to find high performing keywords across our account. Rather than hunting down all the keywords from ad group to ad group, we can just filter for high performance. Let's look for keywords with a CTR greater than 2% and conversion rate of at least 5%.

Then, after we've filtered the list, we can make changes to our high performing keywords directly in the results table instead of having to click through to each ad group one by one.

Another place you might find filters very handy is in the Ads tab, which displays all your ads across your account, campaign, or ad group. Here's a way you could use filters to get better insight into your campaigns:

The Google Store has campaigns with two types of landing pages: product pages for a specific product like this t-shirt, and category pages for entire groups like all wearables. We'd like to know which type of page generates more sales. Since the URLs for our product pages are formatted differently than the URLs for our category pages, we can create a filter to show only ads that have category landing pages by filtering for destination URLs that start with

With this filter, it's easy to see performance across all ads that drive traffic to our category pages. We can compare this to the performance we see on product pages. For the Google Store, we found that the category pages generate more sales than the product pages-- information that will help us improve our campaigns.

With filters on the Ads tab, you can also quickly identify ads with a specific approval status. This is a quick way to identify all pending or disapproved ads across your account.

As you can see, filters have a lot of possible uses. We encourage you to try looking at your campaigns in different ways. You might be surprised at what you find. Happy filtering.

Posted by Austin Rachlin, Inside AdWords crew

[G] Paid Search Builds Brands: Unilever Success Story

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Official Google CPG Blog: Paid Search Builds Brands: Unilever Success Story

Posted by Jenny Liu, Industry Marketing Manager, CPG

In 2008, Google's U.S. Consumer Packaged Goods Team released a series of Brand Value of 
Search (BVOS) Studies that communicated how paid search was able to raise brand metrics such as aided awareness, purchase consideration and purchase intent for the following sub-verticals: beverage, household laundry, salty snack and cosmetics.  These studies helped the industry view how search could be used effectively for more than direct response.

To give you a bit more insight on how customers have used search effectively for 
reasons other than direct response, we'd like to share a new Brand Value of Search study conducted out of Google's UK office.  Google, in association with Unilever, Mindshare and research partner MetrixLab, fielded a study with 5,000 mothers with children under 15, to test the efficiency and effectiveness of paid search for Unilever's Flora brand's "Cooking with Schools" campaign.  Flora is one of Unilever's biggest food brands and has brand associations of cholesterol reduction, hearth health and the London Marathon.  Flora was seeking to better extend this assocation with family, kids, cooking and nutrition.  Not only did they want to increase traffic to their website but they also wanted to be top of mind for their target audience.  

To measure this, Metrix Lab administered online surveys to the 5,000 mothers and then cut the data in ways to isolate media exposure.  Respondents were asked to conduct search tasks such as "research healthy recipes" or "activities to do with your kids", and the test group would be exposed to a sponsored link promoting Flora's Cooking with Schools campaign.

This study was unique in several ways that allow us to dig more in-depth into the brand power of paid search.

First, the study took a look at the difference in brand value between consumers exposed to the sponsored link but did not click through to Flora's website, and those did click through.  The results showed a 19% lift in brand metrics in those who were exposed to a sponsored link (paid search ad) and clicked through.

As ClickZ notes in a recent write-up, "The results in lift are significant and, because PPC search marketers pay only for the click, the lift in branding due to the sponsored link is free."

Second, it was able to show that paid search was 10x more efficient than TV at raising Top of Mind Awareness, and 4x more efficient than Radio, for this campaign.

Third, the study illustrates the synergistic value of paid search and traditional offline media. 
Print plus search is 9% more efficient at impacting brand value than print alone. 

As reported in an article published by Marketing Week UK, Amanda Smith, relationship marketing manager at Flora, adds, "We are now seeing the impact sponsored search can have on branding and how it can work with other media, both on and offline, to bring us the most effective campaigns."

This finding is highly valuable to every marketer who is being asked to make the most of every penny spent on their campaign, and who are being held acccountable for how efficient and effective their campaigns perform.  

We have the full study available to share with you upon request.  Just inquire with your Google account sales team!



[G] Advanced Segments Swissotel Style

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Google Analytics Blog: Web Analytics Tips & Tricks: Advanced Segments Swissotel Style

Are you segmenting your data or just looking at aggregated numbers (like total visits)? If you're not segmenting, you're barely scratching the surface of what you can do with Analytics data. This is a favorite topic of Avinash Kaushik, Google's Analytics Evangelist, who has been encouraging segmentation since way back in 2006.

In a recent talk at a Google Analytics Masterclass in Singapore, Barbara Pezzi of Swissotel shared her company's experience using Advanced Segmentation to zero in on high-potential customers.

You can find the full story and presentation on the new Google Solutions for Southeast Asia blog. Check it out and get started segmenting your data today!

Posted by Sebastian Tonkin, Google Analytics Team

[G] Congratulations to NSF CLuE Grant awardees

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Official Google Blog: Congratulations to NSF CLuE Grant awardees

(Cross-posted from the Google Research Blog)

The first goal of the Academic Cluster Computing Initiative was to familiarize the academic community with the methods necessary to run very large datasets on massive distributed computer networks. By expanding that program to include research grants through the National Science Foundation's Cluster Exploratory (CLuE) program, we're also hoping to enable new and better approaches to data-intensive research across a range of disciplines.

Now that the NSF has announced the 2009 CLuE grants in addition to some previous Small Grant for Exploratory Research (SGER) grants, we're excited to congratulate the recipient researchers and wish them the best as they bring new projects online and continue to run existing SGER projects on the Google/IBM cluster.

The NSF selected projects based on their potential to advance computer science as well as to benefit society as a whole, and researchers at 14 institutions are tackling ambitious problems in everything from computer science to bioinformatics. The institutions receiving CLuE grants are Purdue, UC Santa Barbara, University of Washington, University of Massachussetts-Amherst, UC San Diego, University of Virginia, Yale, MIT, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Carnegie-Mellon, University of Maryland- College Park, University of Utah and UC Irvine. Florida International University, Carnegie-Mellon and University of Maryland will continue other projects with exiting SGER grants. These grantees will run their projects on a Google/IBM-provided cluster running an open source implementation of Google's MapReduce and File System.

We're excited to help foster new approaches to difficult, data-intensive problems across a range of fields, and we can't wait to see more students and researchers come up with creative applications for massive, highly distributed computing.

Posted by Jeff Walz, Head of University Relations, and Andrea Held, Program Manager

[G] Congratulations to NSF CLuE Grant awardees

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Official Google Research Blog: Congratulations to NSF CLuE Grant awardees

Posted by Jeff Walz and Andrea Held

The first goal of the Academic Cluster Computing Initiative was to familiarize the academic community with the methods necessary to run very large datasets on massive distributed computer networks. By expanding that program to include research grants through the National Science Foundation's Cluster Exploratory (CLuE) program, we're also hoping to enable new and better approaches to data-intensive research across a range of disciplines.

Now that the NSF has announced the 2009 CLuE grants in addition to some previous Small Grant for Exploratory Research (SGER) grants, we're excited to congratulate the recipient researchers and wish them the best as they bring new projects online and continue to run existing SGER projects on the Google/IBM cluster.

The NSF selected projects based on their potential to advance computer science as well as to benefit society as a whole, and researchers at 14 institutions are tackling ambitious problems in everything from computer science to bioinformatics. The institutions receiving CLuE grants are Purdue, UC Santa Barbara, University of Washington, University of Massachussetts-Amherst, UC San Diego, University of Virginia, Yale, MIT, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Carnegie-Mellon, University of Maryland- College Park, University of Utah and UC Irvine. Florida International University, Carnegie-Mellon and University of Maryland will continue other projects with exiting SGER grants. These grantees will run their projects on a Google/IBM-provided cluster running an open source implementation of Google's MapReduce and File System.

We're excited to help foster new approaches to difficult, data-intensive problems across a range of fields, and we can't wait to see more students and researchers come up with creative applications for massive, highly distributed computing.

[G] 100 Invites to RealTime for Blog Readers

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YouTube Blog: 100 Invites to RealTime for Blog Readers

Today is the beta launch of YouTube RealTime, a new way of discovering what your friends are doing on YouTube. Through this persistent toolbar, which appears in the lower right corner of the page, you'll be able to see which of your YouTube friends are currently online and what they're watching; a history of their recent activities on the site; and real-time notifications when they perform activities like commenting, favoriting, and uploading.

Wanna try it? The first 100 people to say "Yes! Sign me up" in the comments below will get an exclusive invite to test it out. Please keep in mind that you will need to have friends on YouTube for this to work -- the more you have, the richer the experience, so be sure you accept friend invites and actively manage the list. Participants can enter feedback on RealTime in the forums or in comments below.


Ryan Junee

Product Manager

The YouTube Team

[G] New: Instant Comment Notification

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Google Photos Blog: New: Instant Comment Notification

Posted by Simon Han, Software Engineer

Photographs are natural conversation-starters. And with online photo albums, the conversation can start the moment somebody comments on one of your photos.

That's why we just launched instant comment notification on Picasa Web -- now, instead of waiting for a daily or weekly digest that summarizes the comments on your photos, you can be informed of your photo activity as it happens. Plus, your friends will hear back as soon as you reply -- so it's easy to keep a good conversation moving along.

Here's how it works: By default, you're automatically subscribed to comments posted on your own photos, and when commenting on a friend's snapshots, you'll have a chance to subscribe to that thread, too. Because we want to make sure we provide timely notifications without overwhelming your Inbox, if you post a photo that's particularly popular, we'll still aggregate comments that are made close together into one mail. You can, of course, always opt-out of comment notifications altogether, or unsubscribe from any comment thread at any time, just by clicking a link in the notification emails we send.

Want to give it a try? Browse through your favorites (or check out some of ours ), leave a comment, and see where the conversation goes...

[G] Save and share directions with My Maps

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Google LatLong: Save and share directions with My Maps

You've probably been there: a friend asks you for directions to your house for a party, or to that nice picnic spot you recommended, so you try to scribble some lines on the back of a napkin or you try to explain out loud that they should take the second (or is it the third?) left. It's particularly a pain when you want to tell a bunch of people - like your entire housewarming guest list - directions. 

To make this easier -- for you, and for the people you're trying to direct! -- we've added features that let you save, annotate, and share directions using My Maps, the personal map editor built into Google Maps.

Saving driving directions to a My Map is easy: just click the "Save to My Maps" link below the directions in the left pane. 

This opens a dialogue box where you can choose to save to an existing map, or create a new one.
Once your directions are saved, you'll be taken into the My Maps editor, where you can edit the saved placemarks and route, as well as add new places and details to your map, like landmarks along the way.

We've also added a new tool that lets you draw lines along a road to get from point to point. This is accessed via a drop-down menu in the line tool by clicking and holding briefly anywhere on the button.

The tool calculates the best driving route between your line's vertices and automatically snaps your line to the appropriate road. 

With your directions saved in My Maps, it's easy to add notes, share with friends, embed in web sites, and invite collaborators to contribute to your map. 

So when it comes time to plan your next road trip, consider using My Maps as your planning tool -- at the very least, if you hit a bump and spill coffee on your map halfway through the trip, you'll still have a backup.

Posted by Taj Campbell, Associate Product Manager

[G] Introducing Google Product Search for mobile

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Official Google Base Blog: Introducing Google Product Search for mobile

Today, we launched Google Product Search for mobile for iPhone and Android-powered devices. When mobile users search for products on the go they can get quick access to product information -- like online product ratings, reviews, prices, and more -- formatted neatly for their phones.

If you've already submitted items to Google Product Search, you don't have to do anything extra to get your product information to show up on Google Product Search for mobile. If your items are not yet listed in Product Search, it's easy: just submit your product information using this guide and keep submitting frequently to keep your listings up to date.

This is also a good opportunity for you to create mobile versions of your landing pages. Although the iPhone and Android browsers can render many web pages as they are, you may want to consider optimizing your landing pages for mobile browsers to improve the user experience.

Here's a video of my colleague demonstrating Google Product Search for mobile at our company store.

Posted by Eiji Hirai, Software Engineer, Google mobile team


[G] Google Product Search for Android and iPhone

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Official Google Mobile Blog: Google Product Search for Android and iPhone

In my spare time, I like to build computer systems at home. So I often use Google Product Search on a desktop computer to look for video cards, memory, and peripherals. Google Product Search gives me information like prices, ratings, reviews, and product details from all over the web. I'm also able to sort my results in a number of different ways, like by price or seller rating. I use Product Search so much that I wanted to make it more accessible on my phone, as well. Today, I'm happy to introduce you to Google Product Search for mobile.

Say you're in a store and having a hard time deciding between two products. Instead of waiting to go home to check the internet for ratings and reviews, you can now get all of this information right there on the spot. Just take out your phone, go to in your browser, and try out Google Product Search for mobile. From, type in a query and then tap on the "shopping" link that appears in the search results. Or, tap on the "more" tab and then "shopping" to get to Product Search directly.

Google Product Search for mobile gives you the same product information that you would get at your computer. And when you click on products like electronics and video games, you'll see dedicated product pages that include ratings charts and technical specifications. Watch this video for a demo and to see how I can use Product Search for mobile while shopping at our company store and one of our "Hardware Depots."

The new Product Search results pages for mobile are available in the US and UK, and for iPhone and Android-powered devices. Learn more in our help center.

Posted by Rob Stacey, software engineer, Google mobile team

[G] Smarter shopping on smartphones

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Official Google Blog: Smarter shopping on smartphones

This weekend my wife and I went shopping for a birthday present for our 5-year-old nephew, and as usual we were looking for a gift at the last minute. We found ourselves in the toy aisle of a local store, unsure what to buy or how much these toys should cost. It could have been a stressful experience, but luckily I was able to reach into my pocket and use Google Product Search on my G1 to quickly see that the price of a building set was reasonable and that the reviews for a DVD were generally positive.

I'm happy to announce that as of today, when you type a product query on in your iPhone or Android browser, you'll get Google Product Search results nicely formatted for your phone. You can see online ratings, reviews, prices, and product details if you're out and about, or just do some mobile web surfing from your couch. Whether you're trying to decide between two digital cameras while you're in a store or checking out prices for a new product that you've just seen on TV, we hope Google Product Search for mobile helps you to make better-informed shopping choices.

Below, you can see Rob, one of our engineers, go on a shopping adventure at our Mountain View headquarters.


Visit the Google Mobile Blog or Help Center to learn more. Or try it out by going to on your Android or iPhone device, type in a shopping query and then select the 'Shopping results' link. (Note that the experience is enabled for U.S. and U.K. users only.)

Posted by Yury Pinsky, Product Manager, Google Mobile team

[G] For Beginners: 3 Getting Started Guides

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Official Google Docs Blog: For Beginners: 3 Getting Started Guides

My friend Chrystina is an Operations Coordinator at a small software company in Sunnyvale, CA. A few days ago, she told me that she just started using Google Docs. As a beginner, she was trying to figure out how to collaborate with her coworkers and access her docs from both home and work. She's very busy, so she asked me if we had some guides that would give her the basics of how to get started using Google Docs.

The timing of our conversation couldn't have been more perfect. We recently finished Getting Started Guides for spreadsheets, documents, and presentations -- because using a product for the first time can sometimes be challenging.

These three guides cover the basics about Google Docs and have tidbits of information on features you may not know too much about. If you already use Google Docs spreadsheets, but aren't so familiar with presentations, you can read this guide to learn, for example, how to embed an online presentation in your blog.

Don't forget to send these links along to your family, friends, and coworkers who may want to get started with Google Docs.

After you're finished reviewing the guides, check our Help Center for more information. And if you have questions or want to share your suggestions and comments, visit our Help Forum.

Posted by: Estela Arbuco, Docs Online Editor

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

[G] Analytics and AdWords tips - Part 3 of 4

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Inside AdWords: Analytics and AdWords tips - Part 3 of 4

Once again we've asked the Google Analytics team to share some of their tips on how to use Analytics and AdWords together.  Last week we talked about how to link your two accounts and view your results.  To recap, the three steps you need to take are:

1) Link your AdWords and Analytics accounts (how-to video)
2) Configure goals (Help Center article)
3) Assign a value to your goals

This week we'll show you how to use Analytics reports to find your true return on investment (ROI) and identify poor performing keywords.

Which keywords lose money?

As we mentioned last time, the report for tracking keyword ROI is the AdWords Campaigns report in the Traffic Sources section. To identify the keywords that are losing you money, click the ROI column header twice so that the lowest ROI keywords are at the top of the list. Do you have any -100% ROI keywords? These are keywords on which you lost all of the money you spent (you paid for clicks on those keywords but no one completed actions on your site). But before you take any action in your AdWords account, consider how much you spent and whether you have enough data yet to make a decision. 

Very often, -100% ROI keywords are those that have only received a few clicks. You might want to wait until you receive more than one or two clicks on a keyword before you make any changes. And if you've only spent a few cents on a keyword, it's probably worth waiting to see if the keyword pays off.

If you want to learn more, you can check out this video on finding poor performing keywords.

Short date ranges may obscure your true ROI.

It’s generally not a good idea to make keyword changes on the basis of a few days worth of data. You’ll make better decisions if you also take into account your sales cycle and everything else you know about the specifics of your business online.

Consider your return customers – those that find you via an AdWords ad and then return later to buy again. You’ll miss these repeat conversions if you set too short of a date range. Also, it may take a few days for many of your visitors to become customers. By making decisions based on a date range that is shorter than your sales cycle, you might actually lower your ROI by discounting keywords that are actually profitable.

Try out different date ranges and see how your ROI is affected. Try the most recent days, week, month, and then look at this year’s data. You’ll have more – as well as more interesting – information upon which to base your decisions.

Next week we'll look at the Keywords Positions report and see how your ad position can affect performance.

Posted by Amanda Kelly, Inside AdWords crew

[G] Changes to the Homepage

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YouTube Blog: Changes to the Homepage

As we alluded to in a post a few weeks ago, you'll notice that our homepage looks a little different today if you're signed out. We've redesigned this page to better reflect what's currently popular on YouTube, as chosen by you. We hope it's more visually appealing now, too. Here's a rundown of what's new:

* We've streamlined "Spotlight Videos" and given it greater prominence on the page. It won't appear every day, but when it does, videos will be organized around a theme, such as today's Earth Day videos, or a community trend. Feel free to suggest themes in the comments below. (Oh, and if you're signed in, whenever we show Spotlight Videos it'll appear wherever it does today, according to your settings.)

* "Videos Being Watched Now" got a makeover; we hope this gives greater emphasis to the videos that are rising up right now, according to what people are watching.

* The new "Most Popular" section features the hottest video in each category at the moment, in addition to the overall Most Viewed and Top Favorited video. This category display should help surface a wider variety of videos.

As always, we'll track page usage so we can make sure you're always able to find interesting videos when you come to YouTube.


Brian Glick

Product Manager

The YouTube Team

[G] Engage your community with the Get Answers gadget

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Social Web Blog: Engage your community with the Get Answers gadget

This guest post was written by Barry Welch, a social app developer and a speaker at the Google Friend Connect launch who likes to create apps that foster visitor interaction, increase website traffic, and/or generate revenue for site owners. Barry relies on Google App Engine to provide speed and scale for his web apps. - Ed.

If you're seeking to get your community more engaged, you'll want to give them more ways to connect with one another and contribute to your site. In addition to the other gadgets available through Google Friend Connect, there's now the Get Answers gadget. Adding the Get Answers gadget to your site will encourage visitors to ask questions of the community and answer questions posed by others, creating a clear invitation to interact.

For visitors looking to connect and contribute to your community, the Get Answers gadget lets site members
* Ask questions, submit answers, and vote on the answers they think are the best
* Read other questions and answers from the community, sorted by popularity or date
* Quickly view only their own questions to see the answers they've received
* See what Google search says about their question

With the Get Answers gadget, new members can ask questions and get up to speed quickly, current members can share information relevant to your site topic or other topics of interest to them, and you (the site owner) can learn more about the interests of your community, which can help you tailor your content to your visitors' needs. As the site owner, you remain in full control and can moderate the gadget by deleting any inappropriate questions or answers.

View a sample site using this gadget, or learn more about the Get Answers gadget and how to add it to your own site.

Posted by Barry Welch, Social App Developer

[G] Policy-enforced TLS in Google Apps

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Policy-enforced TLS in Google Apps

In the year and a half since we acquired Postini, we've integrated a number of their message security features into Google Apps Premier Edition, including additional spam and virus filtering, content policy management tools, and archiving. Today we're pleased to announce the addition of another feature to Google Apps that many of you have been asking for: policy-enforced Transport Layer Security (TLS, RFC 2246) to help you secure the transport of messages between domains with a simple point-and-click interface.

With policy-enforced TLS, IT administrators can
set up policies for securely sending and receiving mail between specific domains. For example, you could specify that all external mail sent by your accounting team members with your bank be secured with the TLS standard, and defer if TLS is not possible. Similarly, you could mandate a secure TLS connection between your domain and your outside legal counsel, auditors, and any other partners with whom your employees may trade sensitive communications. The new functionality makes it easy for an IT admin to use the TLS standard for reliable, secure email delivery – with no hardware or software to add or maintain.

We're also making a change to the message discovery and archiving feature in Google Apps for new customers. We've learned that most of our customers want at least one year of archiving, so the 90-day message archive is no longer being offered to customers who sign up after April 23. All customers can continue to buy one year of message archiving with unlimited storage for $13 per user per year, and up to 10 years of archiving with unlimited storage for $33 per user per year. Note that those of you already using Premier Edition will continue to be able to retain mail for 90 days.

Enforce an email footer to apply to outbound emails.

On the 'Outbound Servers' tab, set your TLS policies easily in the Google Postini Admin console. Settings can apply to inbound and outbound messages.

Let us know what you think about today's news. We're committed to providing the world class security and compliance technology you need in an easy and affordable way, and we welcome your comments and feedback.

Posted by Navneet Goel and Matt O'Connor, Product Managers, Google Postini services team