Friday, May 15, 2009

[G] YouTube Project v51: Words via Wordle

| More

YouTube Blog: YouTube Project v51: Words via Wordle

If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you might remember that a few weeks ago we asked you two questions:



* What three adjectives describe the YouTube of today? #youtubetoday


* What three adjectives describe your ideal YouTube of the future? #youtubefuture



We were collecting these responses for an internal "visioning" exercise -- that's a fancy design term for wondering what we'd like to be when we grow up. In other words, we have a pretty good sense of what we are today, but we are looking to explore the possible future paths your experience on YouTube could take in the years to come. We're calling this whole effort YouTube Project v51. For you die-hard YouTube fans and blog followers, you may know that we number major releases and just recently reached v39. Well, we wanted to make sure the team thought way into the future, so we chose v51 as a far-off target. (Plus, it brings to mind Area 51 and futuristic alien technology, which seems appropriate.) There are a lot of different design and research methods we're using in YouTube Project v51, and we're looking forward to sharing some of them with you in the weeks to come.



It was fun and inspiring to see the words you came up with to describe the YouTube of today and the YouTube of tomorrow. We plugged the submitted terms into Wordle, a data visualization tool, to come up with tag clouds, and we want to share them with you.



YouTube of Today:






YouTube of Tomorrow:






Big poster versions of these have been hanging in our office micro-kitchens and lots of entertaining, spirited discussions have happened in response to them. It's one of many ways we work to bring your voice into our day-to-day work. These artifacts serve as reminders of why we do what we do: to provide entertaining and powerful experiences to you, our users.



Take a look and tell us what you think -- how would you describe the YouTube of today and of tomorrow? Post your thoughts in the comments below.



Best,

Margaret Stewart

User Experience Manager

The YouTube Team
URL: http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=uzq8AXb1JYc

[G] Improvements to Google Update for Administrators

| More

Google Chrome Blog: Improvements to Google Update for Administrators

If you're an IT administrator, you may be interested to know that today, on the Open Source blog, we announced a way to manage the update cycle for Google Chrome via Google Update for Administrators. This means that administrators are now able to specify how often to check for updates, how applications should be updated, and whether to allow installation of certain applications.

Read more on the Open Source blog.

Posted by Jason Toff, Google Chrome team
URL: http://chrome.blogspot.com/2009/05/improvements-to-google-update-for.html

[G] Lollapalooza Tracks Social Media Campaigns with Google Analytics

| More

Google Analytics Blog: Web Analytics Tips & Tricks: Lollapalooza Tracks Social Media Campaigns with Google Analytics

Let’s face it: Social media is here to stay, and day by day it continues to encroach on nearly every aspect of our online lives. But to publishers, promoters, advertisers and site owners, there’s one essential question left hanging in the air long after the race to join the social media crowd: “Is it working?”

This year’s Lollapalooza Music Festival is using Event Tracking and Google Analytics to find out.

Social Media Applications

There may not be a more perfect application of social media than promoting a music festival, and C3 Presents, (the folks behind Lollapalooza) came up with some good ways to capitalize. This year’s lineup page alone features a Facebook Connect application to maintain and share personal lineups, MySpace blog, bulletin and site postings, Twitter updates and email sharing, and AddThis social bookmarking.
“You don’t find anyone who thinks social media is a bad idea, but the questions on our minds are, ‘what is this doing for our fans and what kind of return are we getting back on this investment?’” says Michael Feferman of C3 Presents.

Questions to Answer

As with any successful web analytics strategy, this one started out by posing the questions that Google Analytics should answer. Specifically:
  • Who’s using these sharing and social media outlets? Are they benefiting?
  • Which ones are being used the most and what are their applications?
  • Does social media make a visitor more likely to buy a ticket?
  • Are we driving more traffic to our site as a result? Are we driving more sales and revenue?
WebShare, a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant, was brought in to help implement and configure Google Analytics to help answer these questions. Measuring the impact of social media for Lollapalooza has two sides:
  • The impact on those who use social media applications while on the site
  • The impact of those who arrive at the site as a result of social media
The Implementation

Event Tracking and Campaign Tagging were employed in order to provide the data required to answer these questions.

Event Tracking

While a user is on the site, events “fire” as the visitor interacts with the various social media applications. Lollapalooza tracks when sharing applications are clicked, when users log into Facebook accounts via Facebook Connect and perform various actions, and when visitors register or log into their Lollapalooza accounts.


*Actual values have been modified

Drilling down into the event categories, actions and labels reveals even more about user behavior, and coupled with the secondary dimensions and pivot tables that were recently announced, we can answer some very detailed questions, like:

How much revenue and how many transactions resulted from visitors in Chicago that used Facebook Connect and found the site via the keyword “lollapalooza 2009”?

*Actual values have been modified

Campaign Tagging

In order to track visitors arriving at the site as a result of social media, links that are generated and shared are tagged with unique values to define campaign parameters. The reports and segmentation options of Analytics then help us understand these visitors and their value in terms of Goal and Ecommerce conversions.

When visitors share via Twitter, for example, a pre-populated message with a bit.ly compressed link is used that includes Google Analytics campaign tag parameters:


When followers of this user click on the link, Google Analytics attributes the visit to a source of “twitter” and a medium of “share”. This data is then available in our reports, and we can answer questions like:

What kind of revenue and ticket sales resulted from Twitter sharing yesterday?

*Actual values have been modified

The Results

The data continues to roll in, but some impressive insights have been gained so far:
  • Over 2/3 of the traffic referred from Facebook, MySpace and Twitter is a result of sharing applications and Lollapalooza’s messaging to its fans on those platforms.
  • Users of the social media applications on Lollapalooza.com spend twice as much as users that don’t.
  • “Fan Engagement” metrics such as time on site, bounce rate, page views per visit and interaction have seen significant boosts across the board as a result of social media applications.
More details and findings are available on C3's digital marketing blog.

“This kind of data is fantastic,” says Michael. “Not only does it help us give our fans what they want, it let’s us know how they respond to it and tells us that these efforts are worth it.”

Other Resources

To learn more about the reports, configurations and features highlighted in this post, take a look at the following resources:
Posted by David Booth of WebShare, a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant
URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2009/05/lollapalooza-tracks-social-media.html

[G] Step into the spotlight with YouTube Insight

| More

Official Google Blog: Step into the spotlight with YouTube Insight

This post is the latest in an ongoing series on The Power of Measurement. Previous topics have covered ways to make your website as successful as possible through tools such as Analytics and Website Optimizer. – Ed.

Online video has become increasingly popular and it is now recognized as a very powerful medium for delivering a message. As more and more media companies and advertisers are embracing online video, and millions of people are uploading their own videos every day, building a following and reaching your target audience can be very challenging. We developed a free analytics tool, YouTube Insight, as one way to help you do just that. Since the launch of Insight just over a year ago, we've been adding more features to help you better understand how the YouTube community is interacting with your video and grow your audience.

Just like there is a "science" behind programming on TV, content owners and advertisers are becoming more sophisticated about how to gain optimal exposure for their content on YouTube. So how do you master this "science"? First, let's start with the basics. Monitoring viewing trends through Insight's "Views" tab can help you nail down the best time to upload your new videos. For example, Mondo Media uses Insight to monitor and predict surges in views of their strongest videos. They then time the launch of new episodes with these "waves" of traffic, making it easier for their existing audience to discover new favorites. Using Insight to increase their momentum on the site is one of the practices that have helped Mondo Media become the 6th most viewed YouTube Channel of all time.

Insight has even more sophisticated features, like the "Discovery" feature, which shows you how your viewers found your videos (i.e., through search, an embedded player, related videos or viral sharing). Just like with websites, figuring out how visitors are coming to your videos can help you grow your audience. Using "Discovery," the band Weezer was surprised to find out that many of their followers were actually techies and not indie rockers: a large number of people had discovered their "Pork & Beans" video on YouTube through the embedded player on tech blogs. This finding led them to optimize their marketing strategy and shift funds in their budget to tech blogs for promoting their summer tour.

Using "Discovery," you can also see which keywords are driving views and then advertise against these keywords using YouTube's Promoted Video product. You can see exactly how effective this method of promotion is and optimize your a spend in the future.

Understanding which parts of your video people liked can be difficult, so we created the "Hot Spots" feature in Insight to show you the ups-and-downs of viewership for every single moment of your video, compared to videos of similar length. The higher the graph, the hotter your video, meaning fewer viewers are leaving your video and they may also be rewinding to watch that point in the video again. Understanding which parts of your video your audience likes enables you to make better content. The better the content, the more likely it is that viewers will send your video to their friends, kicking off the cycle of virality and helping you grow your audience.

There are countless ways to use the data gathered from Insight to improve your YouTube numbers. Someone using YouTube to share a video of their vacation can just as easily use these tools as an advertiser working on a major campaign. And with our latest addition to YouTube Insight, you will no longer have to rely exclusively on the information you can get from the features described above. Last week we opened Insight, making your data exportable into CSV files. CSV files are open-format files that organize data so it can be moved and analyzed using common spreadsheet software such as Google Docs and Microsoft Excel. Now you can view and manipulate your data any way you like. Looking for ideas? Try comparing the view count for different videos side by side, mapping out where your viewers are coming from over time, or comparing discovery sources by country.

Good luck to all the hopeful YouTube stars among you!

Posted by Tracy Chan and Kenny Stoltz, YouTube Product Managers
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/step-into-spotlight-with-youtube.html

[G] Zurich Open Source Jam 7

| More

Google Open Source Blog: Zurich Open Source Jam 7

We did it again, and we are getting better at it. Last Thursday, May 7th we hosted the 7th Open Source Jam in Zurich. It was probably our largest event, with close to 50 participants!

It was a bit more than 3 hours of event, and 10 projects were presented: EVMS (Enterprise Volume Management Software) which promises to be a new model of volume management for Linux, My paint - very interesting software to create images from scratch, RTEMS - a real time operating system for multiprocessor systems, Solid State Drives, Monitoring Systems, Gurtle - an issue tracker integration for TortoiseSVN, RDKit - cheminformatics and machine learning software, a very nice overview on the development model and features of Drupal, SQL for Google App Engine, and OSGi, the dynamic module system for Java.

We would like to thank you all again for participating and sharing the interesting projects you are working on, and also invite you to subscribe to our Open Source Jam Zurich Group to stay informed about other events in Zurich.

Unfortunately, our official photographer was out of town, but we promise pictures for the next Open Source Jam!

By Fernanda G. Weiden, Systems Administration Team
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2009/05/zurich-open-source-jam-7.html

[G] The best and the brightest

| More

Official Google Blog: The best and the brightest

I can't think of a better environment than academia for asking hard questions and trying to solve the unsolvable. It's at universities that graduate students perform some of the most exciting and game-changing research in computer science and technology. These university labs foster the students that are going to be the next innovators and leaders in research.

We started the Google Fellowship Program this year to support graduate students in their quest to discover and achieve great things. Our goal was to find the best and brightest PhD students and award them a unique fellowship that highlights their contributions to research and supports them through their graduate studies. Several top universities submitted their students for consideration by research scientists, distinguished engineers and executives at Google. The breadth of research covered by these students and the scope of their vision was astounding. Learning about them was exciting; choosing from among them was truly difficult.

After careful review, we are proud to announce the 2009 Google Fellowship recipients:
  • Roxana Geambasu, Google Fellowship in Cloud Computing (University of Washington)
  • Michael Piatek, Google Fellowship in Computer Networking (University of Washington)
  • David Sontag, Google Fellowship in Machine Learning (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Ali Farhadi, Google Fellowship in Computer Vision Image Interpretation (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • Nicholas Chen, Google Fellowship in Human-Computer Interaction (University of Maryland)
  • Siddhartha Sen, Google Fellowship in Fault Tolerant Computing (Princeton University)
  • Ryan Peterson, Google Fellowship in Distributed Systems (Cornell University)
  • Eric Gilbert, Google Fellowship in Social Computing (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • Micha Elsner, Google Fellowship in Natural Language Processing (Brown University)
  • Subhransu Maji, Google Fellowship in Computer Vision Object Recognition (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Nicolas Lambert, Google Fellowship in Market Algorithms (Stanford University)
  • Han Liu, Google Fellowship in Statistics (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Lixia Liu, Google Fellowship in Compiler Technology (Purdue University)
These students exemplify excellence in all areas, and we look forward to the impact that they are sure to have on their fields and the world. The Google Fellowship will provide them with funding to cover their tuition and expenses, plus an Android-powered phone and a Google mentor. Our sincere congratulations to all of them!

Posted by Leslie Yeh Johnson, Google University Relations
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/best-and-brightest.html

[G] The best and the brightest

| More

Official Google Research Blog: The best and the brightest

Posted by Leslie Yeh Johnson, Google University Relations

[Also posted on the Official Google Blog]

I can't think of a better environment than academia for asking hard questions and trying to solve the unsolvable. It's at universities that graduate students perform some of the most exciting and game-changing research in computer science and technology. These university labs foster the students that are going to be the next innovators and leaders in research.

We started the Google Fellowship Program this year to support graduate students in their quest to discover and achieve great things. Our goal was to find the best and brightest PhD students and award them a unique fellowship that highlights their contributions to research and supports them through their graduate studies. Several top universities submitted their students for consideration by research scientists, distinguished engineers and executives at Google. The breadth of research covered by these students and the scope of their vision was astounding. Learning about them was exciting; choosing from among them was truly difficult.

After careful review, we are proud to announce the 2009 Google Fellowship recipients:
  • Roxana Geambasu, Google Fellowship in Cloud Computing (University of Washington)
  • Michael Piatek, Google Fellowship in Computer Networking (University of Washington)
  • David Sontag, Google Fellowship in Machine Learning (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
  • Ali Farhadi, Google Fellowship in Computer Vision Image Interpretation (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • Nicholas Chen, Google Fellowship in Human-Computer Interaction (University of Maryland)
  • Siddhartha Sen, Google Fellowship in Fault Tolerant Computing (Princeton University)
  • Ryan Peterson, Google Fellowship in Distributed Systems (Cornell University)
  • Eric Gilbert, Google Fellowship in Social Computing (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • Micha Elsner, Google Fellowship in Natural Language Processing (Brown University)
  • Subhransu Maji, Google Fellowship in Computer Vision Object Recognition (University of California, Berkeley)
  • Nicolas Lambert, Google Fellowship in Market Algorithms (Stanford University)
  • Han Liu, Google Fellowship in Statistics (Carnegie Mellon University)
  • Lixia Liu, Google Fellowship in Compiler Technology (Purdue University)
These students exemplify excellence in all areas, and we look forward to the impact that they are sure to have on their fields and the world. The Google Fellowship will provide them with funding to cover their tuition and expenses, plus an Android-powered phone and a Google mentor. Our sincere congratulations to all of them!
URL: http://googleresearch.blogspot.com/2009/05/best-and-brightest.html

[G] Google Fellowships, the Nuts and Bolts

| More

Official Google Research Blog: Google Fellowships, the Nuts and Bolts

Posted by Leslie Yeh Johnson, Google University Relations

As you may have read, today we announced the recipients of the 2009 Google Fellowships. (You can read the announcement over on the Official Google Blog.) This is fantastic news, and the blog post makes the Google Fellowship Program sound very polished. But the truth is there was a lot more work (and scrambling) done in the background...here's a quick snapshot.

We first conceived of the idea of the fellowships late last year. Google already funds academic research through the Google Research Awards, but we really wanted to support the graduate students who are doing a lot of the research and are the future of their respective fields. Idea: why don't we search out the best and brightest PhD students and pay their tuition and expenses, plus give them an Android phone and hook them up with a Google researcher so we can all share really cool ideas? Done and done.

After we made the decision to do the fellowships in 2009, we were in for some hard work. We quickly spread the word about the fellowships in order to give the universities and students time to prepare and send us information about themselves and their research. The nominated students were doing research on a vast array of subjects: Cloud Computing, Computer Graphics, Market Algorithms, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Social Computing, Information Retrieval, Compilers, and Computer Vision to name a few. I relied upon a small army of research scientists and distinguished engineers to help me review them. In addition to lending their scientific expertise to looking over the Google Research Awards, not to mention their "day job", the forty-five Googlers also were able to provide feedback on the students in record time - these guys are champs. Then a whirlwind review with Alfred Spector, VP of Research and Special Initiatives at Google, and just six months later we are proud to announce the 2009 Google Fellowship recipients.

It was a jam-packed 6 months, and I'm really proud of how the program turned out this year. That said, I'm already looking forward to our sophomore year in 2010. You should expect to see a broader program covering more areas of research, more schools, and more geographies. I can't wait.
URL: http://googleresearch.blogspot.com/2009/05/google-fellowships-nuts-and-bolts.html

Thursday, May 14, 2009

[G] Temporary ad serving issue resolved

| More

Inside AdSense: Temporary ad serving issue resolved

For about an hour this morning, beginning at 7:48am PDT, we experienced a global network routing issue. As a result, fewer or no ads were served to some publishers during this time. Our engineers have since resolved the issue, and we're working to ensure that this doesn't recur. We're very sorry for the inconvenience.

Posted by Arlene Lee - Inside AdSense Team
URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2009/05/temporary-ad-serving-issue-resolved.html

[G] Searching for Publisher Opportunities?

| More

Google Affiliate Network: Searching for Publisher Opportunities?

We just updated a new feature for advertisers that should benefit both our advertisers and publishers.  Advertisers can now view lists that highlight high performing publishers that are either underperforming for the advertiser, or have not joined the advertiser's program.

Advertisers:

    My network displays a list of publishers that are doing better on a relative basis in your category than they are for you.

    Rest of network displays a list of publishers that are not in your program that have a history of performance in your category.
  
If you are looking for a way to improve the productivity of your affiliate program, this is a great place to start.  The feature can be found by navigating to Publishers > Opportunities.
  
Publishers:

    In order to be visible to advertisers looking for new publishers, you must opt in to not joined opportunities on your communication preferences page.  To be visible to your existing advertisers that may be looking to expand their relationship with you, opt in to receive promotional communication for each advertiser to which you want to appear.

On behalf of the affiliate team,
Larry Adams

URL: http://googleaffiliatenetwork-blog.blogspot.com/2009/05/searching-for-publisher-opportunities.html

[G] Behind the scenes of the Search Options panel

| More

Official Google Blog: Behind the scenes of the Search Options panel

On Tuesday, we announced Search Options, which are a collection of tools that let you slice and dice your results and generate different views to find what you need faster and easier.


We know that people search for a wide variety of things and we're continually thinking of new search features to help them find information more quickly and easily. The idea for the Search Options panel originated as a way to accommodate the functionality offered by these new features within the search results page. While it might seem like the panel was simple to put together, a lot of collaboration between design, research, and engineering happened behind the scenes in order to produce the best experience possible.

The team began by generating a broad range of directions, which we refined through design sessions and reviews. Confident about a handful of concepts, we began to seek out user feedback using eye-tracking and usability studies. These studies provided us with valuable feedback about how people understood the options in the panel and interacted with them.

Here's an example of an eye-tracking path that illustrates how a participant wanted to get a sense of the quality of the results before deciding what search option to apply:


After each study, we iterated on the designs, making changes to everything from the order and behavior of the options, to the location of the panel and the way people opened and closed it. We also paid close attention to the visual design of the options panel. We wanted it to feel familiar –- not only to work the way you expect from Google, but to look and feel like Google, too. Even though you just started using the panel, we hope it will seem as if it were there all along.

Below, you can see some of our initial concepts for the Search Options panel:

And here are examples of various iterations, once we had a firm concept in mind:
Once the designs were further solidified, we ran a number of tests with a small portion of our live searches to see how many visitors used the Search Options panel and which options were most popular. This quantitative research complemented qualitative feedback to give us a more complete idea of people’s understanding of Search Options. This process brought us to what you see today.

Even now that the Search Options panel has launched, the work is not over. We’ll continue to monitor how people interact with Google Search, find ways to improve the user experience, listen to your feedback, come up with new tools, and, who knows, maybe even add more wonder to the wonder wheel.

Posted by Jen Kozenski Devins, Jamie Divine, Melanie Kellar, and Marcin Wichary, User Experience Team
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/behind-scenes-of-search-options-panel.html

[G] Update to U.S. ad text trademark policy

| More

Inside AdWords: Update to U.S. ad text trademark policy

Imagine opening your Sunday paper and seeing ads from a large supermarket chain that didn't list actual products for sale; instead, they simply listed the categories of products available - offers like "Buy discount cola" and "Snacks on sale." The ads wouldn't be useful since you wouldn't know what products are actually being offered. For many categories of advertisers, this is the problem they have faced on Google for some time.

That is why, in an effort to improve ad quality and user experience, we are adjusting our trademark policy in the U.S. to allow some ads to use trademarks in the ad text. This change will bring Google's policy on trademark use in ad text more in line with the industry standard. Under certain criteria, you can use trademark terms in your ad text in the U.S. even if you don't own that trademark or have explicit approval from the trademark owner to use it. This change will help you to create more narrowly targeted ad text that highlights your specific inventory.

For example, under our old policy, a site that sells several brands of athletic shoes may not have been able to highlight the actual brands that they sell in their ad text. However, under our new policy, that advertiser can create specific ads for each of the brands that they sell. We believe that this change will help both our users and advertisers by reducing the number of overly generic ads that appear across our networks in the U.S.

Please note that this policy update will only apply to ads served in the U.S. on Google.com and to U.S. users on the Search and Content Networks. Also, while we will start accepting new ads that contain trademark terms as of 11am PST on May 15th, those ads will not begin showing until June 15th.

If you have ads in your account which were previously disapproved for trademark policy and that comply with the new policy, you may submit those ads for re-review and eligible ads may begin showing in the U.S. starting June 15th. For instructions on editing your ad text, click here.

In order to help advertisers understand whether their landing pages meet our policy guidelines we've added some new functionality to our Search Based Keyword Tool. If you visit www.google.com/sktool and enter your website URL, you may see a list of brands on the left side of the page if your site contains those brands. When you click on any of those brands you'll notice a column titled "Extracted from webpage." Those landing pages may be opportunities for you to show re-sale or informational ads.

We believe that this change will offer you the opportunity to provide users with more relevant information, choice and options while respecting the interests of trademark owners.

For more detail on our updated trademark policy in the U.S., please visit the FAQ in our Help Center.

Posted by Dan Friedman, Inside AdWords crew
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/05/update-to-us-ad-text-trademark-policy.html

[G] Google News gets a makeover

| More

Google News Blog: Google News gets a makeover

Posted by Frank Harris and Jason Morrow, User Experience Designers

Last month marked the 7-year anniversary of Google News. We thought we'd celebrate this year by refreshing the look and feel of the site with a new design that we launched today.

First of all, you'll probably notice that we've included new color frames around each section on the homepage. We've also added YouTube logos to our existing embedded news videos, helping you to identify and discover our partners' video content more easily:



We also updated our section pages, categories like "Top Stories," "World," and "Business," to add featured videos and photos from our partners. The new pages also contain sections for images and for popular stories on the right side of the screen, below the featured photos and videos. Just as with the new story landing page we launched last Thursday, our goal is to highlight more sources and provide our users with more ways to experience the news.

For example, take a look at the entertainment section below:



As with all features we introduce to Google News, these changes are designed to provide a better news browsing experience and connect you to a wide variety of perspectives on current events.
URL: http://googlenewsblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/google-news-gets-makeover.html

[G] Surface your best content

| More

Social Web Blog: Surface your best content

You spend a lot of time creating great content for your site, but are you ever curious about which parts of your website your community likes best? Now you and your visitors can easily find out with the new Recommendation gadgets for Google Friend Connect.


Members can recommend the content they like, anything from a whole page to a single photo, by simply clicking a button. Then you and anyone who visits your site can see what parts of your site are the most popular. The items with the most votes will surface to the top of the list, making it easier for others to find even if it's buried deep within your site. You can even see which members have recommended a given item and learn more about them.

To learn more about the recommendation gadgets, check out this sample site or watch the video below:


To add the recommendation gadgets to your site, go to google.com/friendconnect. And if you're interested in developing your own gadgets for Friend Connect, make sure to check out the Google Friend Connect Gadgets: Best Practices in Code and Interaction Design session at Google I/O. On Wednesday, May 27th, at 1:45pm, our own Ryan Boyd and Jonathan Terleski will be hosting a discussion about the best practices for designing and writing OpenSocial gadgets for the million of sites and blogs using Friend Connect. Members of the Friend Connect team will also be on hand during office hours to answer your questions. Hope to see you there.

Posted by Mendel Chuang, Product Marketing Manager, Google Friend Connect
URL: http://googlesocialweb.blogspot.com/2009/05/surface-your-best-content.html

[G] Temporary System Error this Morning - Now Resolved

| More

Google Analytics Blog: Web Analytics Tips & Tricks: Temporary System Error this Morning - Now Resolved

For approximately one hour today starting at 7:48 am Pacific Time, Google had an error in routing traffic that prevented Google Analytics from collecting a small amount of data for some web properties.

On average, this will appear as roughly a 1% decrease in traffic for Thursday, May 14. The exact amount may be more or less depending on the concentration of traffic your site experienced during this one hour time period.

On behalf of our team, we're very sorry for the inconvenience this error has caused. For additional information on the error, see the Official Google Blog.

Posted by Sebastian Tonkin, Google Analytics Team
URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2009/05/temporary-system-error-this-morning-now.html

[G] Bike to Work Day 2009

| More

Official Google Blog: Bike to Work Day 2009

Almost every Friday, I jump on my bike in San Francisco and ride roughly 45 miles to get to work at the Google campus in Mountain View — it takes about 3 hours. Most people think I'm crazy, but seeing the sun rise over the bay and feeling the rush of the air as I speed down Cortland Hill at close to 30mph on my bike makes it all worth it.

Today and tomorrow, Googlers in 42 offices from around the world are joining me in celebrating Bike to Work Day. Google's participation in this national event began in 2003 with only a handful of participants. Through the years, the tradition has grown from a purely local event to one that involves numerous offices in competition to get the longest distance biked, the most bikers, and the greatest percentage of an office participating.

More than 500 Googlers in the San Francisco Bay Area participated, jumping on their bikes and leaving traffic behind. The benefits to us are clear; not only is biking great for health and fitness, but it also spares the earth a day of pollution.

To see us in action, check out the photo album below.



Posted by Debbie Leight, Product Marketing Manager
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/bike-to-work-day-2009.html

[G] Google Update Releases Update Controls

| More

Google Open Source Blog: Google Update Releases Update Controls

Whenever we build out new products and features at Google, we try to ensure that we provide users with two key components: transparency and control. About a month ago we released the Google Update source code to give users and developers transparency into Google's update mechanism. Today we hope to fulfill this second component by providing advanced users the ability to control the installation and updating of Google products via Google Update. Thanks to automatic updates, most users should already have this version of Google Update.

The update policy is controlled via Windows Group Policy, allowing network administrators to apply policies to all computers on their domain and power users with administrative privileges to set the policy on individual machines. We provide an Administrative Template file that allows selection of policies using standard graphical user interfaces such as Group Policy Editor.

The new Group Policy support allows an administrator to specify which Google applications can be installed and how they should be updated. You can select from one of three update options: automatically, manually, or not at all. Administrators can also control how frequently Google Update checks for software updates.

Mac users have similar controls over the Google Update Engine. Mac users are able to change how often update checks occur or disable update checks all together. See the Managing updates in Google Update Engine Help Center article for details.

We work hard to keep our users safe and secure when using our applications, and we believe that making sure users have the latest software available using automatic updates is a key component of that. However, we realize that there are situations where automatic updates may not be desirable so we wanted to provide the ability to control updates when necessary.

To get started, take a look at the Google Update for Enterprise documentation.

By David Dorwin, Google Update Team
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2009/05/google-update-releases-update-controls.html

[G] New Interface Thursdays: Tailor your account with customizable columns

| More

Inside AdWords: New Interface Thursdays: Tailor your account with customizable columns

Today on New Interface Thursdays we'll be taking a look at customizable columns. Customizable columns are one of the ways that new AdWords interface helps you manage your campaigns more effectively. With customizable columns, you can select which metrics are most important to your business, and then quickly view those metrics in your campaigns.

To get started, click on the Filter and views button in your account and select Customize columns.

From there you'll see a variety of columns that you can add or remove from your account.


On the left hand side you'll see that the metrics are broken into two groups: Performance and Conv., which is short for Conversions. Keep in mind that you'll only see conversion columns if you've enabled AdWords Conversion Tracking in your AdWords account. You can select all the columns in a category by checking the box next to the category name.

While on the topic of conversion columns, let's go over the new conversion metrics. Last month, we announced an update to how AdWords reports conversions. Now, you can choose to see columns for many-per-click, 1-per-click conversions, or both. To get a better understanding of the new metrics you can read this article.

Getting back to the Customized Columns panel, let's take a look at the right side of the box, the Preview section. You'll notice some columns are gray and others are green. The gray columns are fixed, so they're always shown. The green columns are metrics you've selected to be shown. You can rearrange the order of these metrics by clicking and dragging them. This is great for setting up a side-by-side comparison for metrics like average cost-per-click and average position, for example.


One last thing to keep in mind is that columns vary across the different tabs in AdWords, depending on the metrics presented within each tab. For instance, you'll find a Quality Score column in the Keywords tab, but not in the Campaigns tab.

That's it for customizable columns. We hope you'll give this feature a try so that you can tailor your account and see only the information you want.

Posted by Emel Mutlu, Inside AdWords crew
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-interface-thursdays-tailor-your.html

[G] The Cannes Short Film Corner: Vote for Aspiring Filmmakers

| More

YouTube Blog: The Cannes Short Film Corner: Vote for Aspiring Filmmakers

The Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival is a sprawling marketplace featuring hundreds of works by many of the world's up-and-coming auteurs. Thanks to the fifth annual National Film Board of Canada's Short Film Competition, you can check out 10 of the best films that the Corner has to offer, all from the comfort of your own computer screen.



Selected from over 1,400 submissions from 60 different countries, these films represent an exciting mix of genres and styles. To see the 10 finalists just visit the NFB's YouTube channel. Voting is as easy as rating the films using the YouTube one-to-five-star scale: five stars for your favorites and one star for those you're not so enthusiastic about. With an HD MINI-DV camera going to the winning filmmaker, every vote counts.







Yours,

Nate Weinstein

Film Community Manager

The YouTube Team
URL: http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=8Ua20E4gui8

[G] This is your pilot speaking. Now, about that holding pattern...

| More

Official Google Blog: This is your pilot speaking. Now, about that holding pattern...

Imagine if you were trying to fly from New York to San Francisco, but your plane was routed through an airport in Asia. And a bunch of other planes were sent that way too, so your flight was backed up and your journey took much longer than expected. That's basically what happened to some of our users today for about an hour, starting at 7:48 am Pacific time.

An error in one of our systems caused us to direct some of our web traffic through Asia, which created a traffic jam. As a result, about 14% of our users experienced slow services or even interruptions. We've been working hard to make our services ultrafast and "always on," so it's especially embarrassing when a glitch like this one happens. We're very sorry that it happened, and you can be sure that we'll be working even harder to make sure that a similar problem won't happen again. All planes are back on schedule now.

Posted by Urs Hoelzle, SVP, Operations
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/this-is-your-pilot-speaking-now-about.html

[G] Tips & Tricks: Jog your memory with saved locations

| More

Google LatLong: Tips & Tricks: Jog your memory with saved locations


For places I don't visit frequently, the hardest part about finding them on Google Maps can be remembering the right address. The dentist's office or a museum, for example -- places I've found on Google Maps before, but not quite recently enough to remember the exact address to search for a second time. Fortunately, when I'm signed in to my Google account, Google Maps automatically saves the addresses I search for. The Saved Locations list can hold up to 100 different places -- an indispensable address book that I add to each time I search for somewhere new.

To see what locations are on your list, sign into your Google account and click the small gray triangle just to the right of the search box. You'll see a list of a few of the locations you've searched for recently, as well as the option to enable or disable the automatic saving of your searches. Click Edit saved locations to see a full list of all your saved places. You can change a particular address by clicking Edit, as well as add a label. You can search using your saved labels just as you would an address; typing 'Jen's house' or 'Hardware store' can be a lot easier to remember than an address. 

Finally, you can click the green arrow next to a saved location to set it as your default location -- it's the map you'll see whenever you sign into Google Maps, and it's useful if you usually look for places in the same area. It doesn't have to be a street address; you can set any location to be your default. 

So, for addresses you search for repeatedly that seem to slip your mind, or a new place you want to save so that you won't have to remember it again, the Saved Locations ensures that racking your brain for an address will never hold you back from finding your way. 

For more Google Maps tips and tricks, you can check out the Maps Water Cooler blog.

Posted by Sarah Gordon, Tips Guru
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/05/tips-tricks-jog-your-memory-with-saved.html

[G] Site maintenance on Saturday, May 16

| More

Inside AdSense: Site maintenance on Saturday, May 16

Our engineers will be performing regularly scheduled maintenance this Saturday, May 16th. You'll be unable to access your AdSense and Ad Manager accounts between 10am and 2pm PDT, but your ad targeting and serving won't be affected. In addition, we'll continue to record your clicks, impressions, and earnings as usual.

Here's the maintenance start time, converted for a few cities around the world:

London - 6pm Saturday
Dubai - 9pm Saturday
Mumbai - 10:30pm Saturday
Taipei - 1am Sunday
Auckland - 5am Sunday

Posted by Arlene Lee - Inside AdSense Team
URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2009/05/site-maintenance-on-saturday-may-16.html

[G] Google Product Search for Android now with Barcode Scanning

| More

Official Google Mobile Blog: Google Product Search for Android now with Barcode Scanning

Since we launched Google Product Search for mobile a few weeks ago, I've been using it to check prices, reviews and product details on my Android phone. In addition to typing in my product searches, I've also had some fun speaking them. Sometimes, though, when I'm looking up a specific item in a store rather than a category of products (like "bluetooth headsets"), I'd rather just scan a barcode to see results for the exact product I'm searching for. That's why we've integrated barcode scanning with Google Product Search for mobile.

Here's how to get started. First, visit the Google Product Search for mobile homepage by going to Google.com in your browser and selecting 'Shopping' from the 'more' tab. Next, tap on the 'Scan Barcode' button to install the latest version of the Barcode Scanner app -- if you don't already have it -- from Android Market.

After you've installed the application, go back to Product Search in your browser and tap on the 'Scan Barcode' button again. Select "Use by default for this action" and tap on the Barcode Scanner option. After the app opens, center the red line over the barcode and hold the phone steady. When the barcode is read successfully, you'll see a Google Product Search results page back in the browser.

You can also access the scanner directly from the top of the Product Search results page by tapping on the barcode button.

Today, barcode scanning works best for products like electronics, books, movies or video games, but we're working on adding more barcodes for other items. Of course, if your scan does not return a result, you can always type in the product name just as before.

The integration of Barcode Scanner and Product Search for mobile is available in the US and UK, for Android-powered devices.

Posted by Eiji Hirai, Software Engineer, Google Mobile team
URL: http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2009/05/google-product-search-for-android-now.html

[G] Where is the world is... (Answers)

| More

Google LatLong: Where is the world is... (Answers)



As always, great detective work everyone! In case any left you stumped, here are the answers and our list of updates.



1) I remember back in my school days having learned a poem by a German writer about the disaster of a rail bridge in the 19th century in northwestern Europe that collapsed in a heavy winter storm while a train was crossing it.

Tay rail bridge, Dundee, Scotland



2) A large, mythical lake often shrouded in mist. Legend has it that a sea snake about 60 feet long lives in this lake.

Loch Ness, Drumnadrochit, Scotland



3) This artificial lake in Europe became famous for starring in the opening of a James Bond movie in which a bungee jump was performed.

Lago di Vogorno, Ticino, Switzerland



4) A spaceport in the jungle. Several European space agencies - federal and commercial - conduct rocket launches from here.

Guiana Space Centre, Kourou, French Guiana



5) A large national park in the continental U.S. that is mainly covered by tempered rain forest and glaciated peaks is now entirely visible at the resolution of at least 1m per pixel.

Olympic National Park, Washington, USA



6) This section of motorway in Europe closes a small gap but runs across a bridge which is currently the tallest in the world with a maximum height of 270 meters.

Viaduc de Millau, Midi-Pyrénées, France



7) This is a very popular tourist location on the pacific side of North America.

Puerta Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico



8) Finally, this last image shows a part of the sculpture park of this European city. The sculptures show human figures.

City of Oslo, Norway



Updated Imagery:  
Americas:

    - USA: Muscatine County (IA), Parts of Champaign County (IL), Parts of Benton County (AR), Parts of Washington County (AR), parts of Washington State, and parts of Michigan

    - Mexico: Puebla, Toluca, Puerto Vallarta

    - Brazil: Porto Alegre

    - French Guiana: Northern Coast

Europe, Middle East, & Africa:

    - Great Britain: Large parts of Scotland and considerable amounts of England

    - France: Departments of Seine-Maritime, Calvados, Val-d'Oise, Yvelines, Essonne, Seine-et-Marne, Aube, Yonne, Sarthe, Vosges, Territiore de Belfort, Vienne, Haute-Vienne, Charente, Charente-Maritime, Cantal, Aveyron, Aude, Bouches-du-Rhône, Saône-et-Loire, Haute-Savoie, Savoie, Martinique (Caribbean Sea), Mayotte (Indian Sea)

    - Italy: Costa Smeralda (Sardegna), Genova (Liguria), Milano (Lombardia), Lago Maggiore (Piemonte/Lombardia)

    - Spain: Cádiz

    - Switzerland: Engelberg

Asia & Oceania:

    - New Zealand: Palmerston



New 2.5m base imagery for: Southern India and Western Paraguay.



New Terrain for: Contra Costa County, Paris, Copenhagen, Dallas, Houston, Jacksonville, Lisbon, Madrid, Memphis, Mexico City, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, Sevilla, St Louis, Tampa, and Toronto



Posted by Bernd Steinert, GIS Specialist, Zurich
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/05/where-is-world-is-answers.html

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

[G] Import your mail and contacts from other accounts

| More

Official Gmail Blog: Import your mail and contacts from other accounts

Posted by Chad Parry, Gmail Engineer

Gmail users can be a passionate bunch. Many of us have, at one time or another, encouraged or cajoled friends and family to join us @gmail.com. But switching email accounts can be pretty painful. It's like getting out of a relationship. You have so much baggage — years of emails and contacts, memories of past Christmases and Valentine's Days — so the easier your new email account can make it, the better. My wife flirted with the idea for two years before she finally took the plunge with Gmail. The reason she finally made the switch might also convince your friends that it's a good time to adopt a shiny new Gmail address.

Gmail now migrates email and contacts from other email providers, including Yahoo!, Hotmail, AOL, and many more. It's much easier to make the transition now that you can bring along all your old email and contacts. You can even have your messages forwarded from your old account for 30 days, giving you time to take Gmail for a test drive while you make up your mind.


This new feature is available in all newly-created Gmail accounts, and it is slowly being rolled out to all existing accounts. It'll take longer than the few hours or days that most Gmail features take to get out to everyone. You'll know it's on for your account when you see the Accounts and Import tab (formerly just called Accounts) under Settings. Sorry, businesses and schools using Google Apps won't see these new migration options.


Everyone can still use POP3 mail fetching and upload your contacts in a CSV file, but this new way is much simpler for basic imports. And we like it when you can access and move your data the way you want — it's been easy to auto-forward all your Gmail messages to any other service, and now it's a little easier to go the other direction too.
URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/import-your-mail-and-contacts-from.html

[G] AdWords system maintenance on May 16th

| More

Inside AdWords: AdWords system maintenance on May 16th

On Saturday, May 16th, 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/2009/05/adwords-system-maintenance-on-may-16th.html

[G] Teachers: How do you use Google Sites?

| More

Official Google Docs Blog: Teachers: How do you use Google Sites?

Last year, teachers shared examples of how they're using Google Docs in the classroom, and we listed these ideas on a Docs for Teachers page. While reviewing all of these teachers' ideas, I noticed that many teachers used Google Sites as a central website for their classes and class projects. Students and teachers also often created pages within their websites that include embedded documents created in Google Docs.

This got me thinking... why don't we create a page to display educational uses of Sites like we did for Docs? If you're a K-12 teacher using Google Sites and are willing to share your examples, check out this request for projects on the Google Apps blog.

Posted by: Ashley Chandler, Docs User Operations
URL: http://googledocs.blogspot.com/2009/05/teachers-how-do-you-use-google-sites.html

[G] Understanding health-related searches

| More

Official Google Blog: Understanding health-related searches

As we blogged last summer, there are lots of experiments running on Google web search all over the world. Today we've started a temporary experiment that some people might find interesting: we're researching how Google users search the Internet when they or someone they know is feeling sick.

Understanding how people search when they're feeling sick is an important problem to solve, as it can help improve projects like Google Flu Trends, which uses aggregated search data to detect influenza epidemics. Statistics gathered in this experiment may also help Google deliver more relevant search results in the future. For example, someone who searches for [arthritis pain] to understand why an aging parent is experiencing joint pain might want to learn about nearby health facilities and potential treatments, whereas somebody who searches for [arthritis pain] because she is doing a research project might want results about how common arthritis is and what its risk factors are. Rather than make educated guesses about how many users are searching because they're sick, we're running this experiment to collect real statistics. This is not a permanent change, but a short-term experiment. A small percentage of random health-related searches will trigger the poll question.

For example, at the bottom of the search results for [headache], some users will see a survey which asks whether they were searching because they or someone they know has a headache:


Similarly, if you happen to search for [ibuprofen], a common anti-inflammatory drug, you might see a survey which asks whether you were searching because you or somebody you know is taking ibuprofen:


Data collected in this survey will be aggregated across thousands of users. Survey responses will be stored together with the original search query, but will not be associated with email addresses or other personally identifiable information. Survey data will not be used for advertising — it will only be used to help Google improve health-related search results and to help refine public health trends based on aggregated search queries, much like Google Flu Trends. You can learn more about how Google protects users' privacy at our Privacy Center.

For more information, please take a look at our FAQ.

Posted by Roni Zeiger, MD, Product Manager and Jeremy Ginsberg, Software Engineer
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/understanding-health-related-searches.html