Saturday, May 30, 2009

[G] YouTube Slam Dunk Finalists

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YouTube Blog: YouTube Slam Dunk Finalists

The YouTube Slam Dunk Challenge has moved into Round Two! Our esteemed panel of judges — Chris Bosh, Jalen Rose and Team Flight Brothers — have studied all the entries and selected six finalists. These finalists have each uploaded a new video showcasing their prodigious skills — but who will earn the crown "Best Dunker on YouTube" and perform with Team Flight Brothers at an official TFB event? You decide.



Bounce over to the YouTube Slam Dunk channel to view the six finalists' videos and cast your vote for the best. Voting ends Monday, June 8th and the winner will be announced shortly thereafter.



Best,


Andrew Bangs


YouTube Sports
URL: http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=37uUDfJd1fs

Friday, May 29, 2009

[G] Cadbury Continues to Raise Eyebrows!

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Official Google CPG Blog: Cadbury Continues to Raise Eyebrows!

Once again a CPG company is raising the bar (and yes, eyebrows) with another video hit. Hopefully you've seen Cadbury Dairy Milk Eyebrow video.



Below is a graph from Google Trends showing search volume for both videos. (Gorilla in Red, Eyebrows in Blue) While Eyebrows has not yet reached the viral impact that the Cadbury Gorilla had in 2007,Eyebrows does have 5 Million views so far, and more and more parodies and remixes are showing up every week.




Gorilla continues to live on through remixes, as Cadbury slides over and lets the consumers steer the brand for a little while. Here are a few Gorilla remixes from fans featuring The Fray, Nirvana, Cameo's Word Up and Radiohead, as well as a remix with Total Eclipse of the Heart! and Wilson Phillips!

It's great to see CPG brands pushing fun and highly entertaining content, not to mention allowing the consumers to share their own creativity back with the world. Does it sell more chocolate? Staying top of mind and allowing others to build on to a super creative and entertaining video must have a positive branding effect.


Posted By Rich Godwin, Manager of Sales CPG West
URL: http://google-cpg.blogspot.com/2009/05/cadbury-continues-to-raise-eyebrows_29.html

[G] Have a question for Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial candidates?

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Google Public Policy Blog: Have a question for Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial candidates?

Posted by Steve Grove, YouTube News & Politics

Virginia voters - want to know what your next governor is going to do about traffic, taxes, or schools? You have just two more days to ask -- through YouTube or Google Moderator.

Google and YouTube teamed up with the Politico and ABC 7/WJLA-TV to launch a digital interview series for Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial primary. All three candidates -- Terry McAuliffe, Creigh Deeds, and Brian Moran -- have agreed to participate.

Make sure to tune in June 3 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC 7/WJLA-TV to hear the candidates answer questions direct from voters like this:

URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/05/have-question-for-virginias-democratic.html

[G] The United Nations' Latest Mission

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YouTube Blog: The United Nations' Latest Mission

Though the United Nations has had a presence on YouTube for several years, it recently re-vamped and re-launched its channel with the goal of providing more relevant videos to citizens around the world. Now, you can find pertinent information about a wide range of topics including peace and security, social and economic development, human rights and climate change.



In its new incarnation, the UN's YouTube channel is particularly focused on providing timely content. Today, to mark the International Day of Peacekeepers, they released this video to highlight the fact that in 2008, 130 peacekeepers lost their lives in the line of duty -- the highest one-year total in the UN's history. They've also uploaded this piece, which takes a deeper dive into the unique challenges that female agents of peace face.



The UN is also uploading some unexpected videos to their channel. Sure, you can still find statements from Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and information about the latest UN endeavor to save lives. But you can also discover archival footage of Che Guevera speaking on the UN floor in 1964 or immerse yourself in this retrospective of sci-fi classic Battlestar Galactica:







So take a few minutes to peruse the UN's updated channel -- you may find information you were looking for, or stumble across a great video you didn't think you'd find.



Best,

Ramya Raghavan

YouTube Nonprofits & Activism
URL: http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=5keDRd8bW4E

[G] Improving Freenet's Performance

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Google Open Source Blog: Improving Freenet's Performance

The Free Network project is the community that creates and maintains Freenet, free software that allows you publish and obtain information on the Internet without fear of censorship by means of a decentralized, anonymous network. Since version 0.7 , the software has had built-in support for downloading and uploading large files. These are long-term downloads, which persist between restarts of the node. This support has improved performance and usability, but it has also meant that when lots of downloads are going on at the same time, Freenet uses a lot of memory, takes a long time to complete the startup process, and crashes if you queue too many downloads. By storing the current progress of uploads and downloads in db4o.com's open source object database (= a file on disk) rather than in memory, Freenet's memory usage can be greatly reduced, the end-user doesn't need to worry about running out of memory, we can have an unlimited number of uploads and tens of gigs of downloads, and so on.

To begin at the beginning, Freenet divides all files into 32KB blocks (called CHKs), which are each fetched and decrypted separately. Then we have a layer of redundancy, and various complexities surrounding putting files together and putting in-Freenet websites together, which makes up the client layer. Before the db4o branch, uploads were persistent, but downloads were restarted from scratch after every restart, pulling huge numbers of blocks from the datastore (on-disk cache). Worse, memory usage was rather large if you had any significant number of downloads on the queue. 

The db4o project puts the client layer (persistent downloads and uploads) into a database (db4o). I had initially hoped that this would be a relatively quick project, which shows how much I knew about databases then! We decided to use db4o in a fairly low-level way, specifically to minimize memory usage. We had heard from testimonials that some embedded applications had done this, but unfortunately this is not really the way that db4o is usually used, which caused some complications. Overall, the project took one developer most of a year, the final diff was over 46K lines of code covering 320 files, and went well beyond its original remit, solving many long-standing problems in the process. New architecture was required for optimal performance, including using Bloom filters to identify blocks we are interested in, a queue of database jobs, major refactoring in many areas of the client layer, a new system for handling temporary files, etc.

The effort was well worth it. Our client layer overall has vastly improved and Freenet now
  • starts up quickly

  • resumes work on downloads and uploads almost instantly on startup

  • can have an almost unlimited number of downloads and uploads

  • doesn't need the user to worry about or configure the maximum memory usage

  • doesn't go into limbo with constant 100% CPU usage desperately trying to scrounge a few more bytes

  • can insert DVD-sized files and huge websites (or git/hg repositories) on relatively low end systems

  • uses fewer file handles

This project would not have happened without support from Google's Open Source Programs Office. It will be one of the most important changes in version 0.8  of Freenet when it is released later this year, and current work includes Bloom filter sharing, a new feature that should greatly improve performance both for popular and rare content. Google is also funding that project, watch this space!

By Matthew Toseland, Freenet Core Developer
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2009/05/improving-freenets-performance.html

[G] You've got a Friend Connect gadget

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Inside AdSense: You've got a Friend Connect gadget

Social networking features are all the rage these days. (AdSense has even joined the trend with Twitter!) Now your site can be part of the social web by using the features offered through Google Friend Connect to awaken and strengthen your community of visitors.

With Friend Connect, your visitors can join your site using credentials they've already created with Google, Yahoo, AOL, and others, and link in the people they know on services like Google Talk, Plaxo, Twitter, and more. There's also a gallery of gadgets where you can choose from features like commenting, ratings and reviews, and the social bar to add to your site. Just like AdSense, you can simply copy and paste a few snippets of code to add these features to your site. Or, if you want to do some deeper integrations, you can use the Friend Connect APIs.

Watch this video to learn more about Friend Connect:



We're constantly adding more social gadgets, such as the event gadget, the Polls gadget, and the Get Answers gadget. To learn more about Friend Connect and other Google products helping to make the web -- and your site -- more social, check out the Social Web Blog.

Posted by Mendel Chuang - Google Friend Connect Team
URL: http://adsense.blogspot.com/2009/05/youve-got-friend-connect-gadget.html

[G] Nearby Intersections on GOOG-411

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Official Google Mobile Blog: Nearby Intersections on GOOG-411

It is amazing how much information can be displayed on even the smallest map, yet we sometimes forget that geographic content is not always available visually.

If you're out and about, you can call GOOG-411 and get local information about businesses. Now we've made it even easier to orient yourself without a map in front of you: call GOOG-411, ask for 'details', and in addition to the address and phone number of the business, we'll also point you to the nearest street intersection or adjacent streets.

You can try it now: call 1-800-466-4411, look up 'Google in New York', ask us for more 'details', and we'll tell you that our Chelsea office is 'near the intersection with West 16th Street'. Unless you're a seasoned New Yorker, this might very well save you from walking up or down a few blocks.

The nearby intersections are available for most businesses in the US and Canada. They are derived automatically by an algorithm written on 20% time by Googlers in New York and London. Tell us other ways you would want to use this new feature -- we hope to expand it to other products soon!

Posted by Vincent Vanhoucke, Research Scientist and Arnaud Sahuguet, Geo Product Manager
URL: http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2009/05/nearby-intersections-on-goog-411.html

[G] White House completes cyberspace policy review

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Google Public Policy Blog: White House completes cyberspace policy review

Posted by Harry Wingo, Policy Counsel

As the world becomes more and more connected, a cyberattack on any nation's critical infrastructure -- its telecommunications system, electrical grid, and banking network -- could pose as serious a threat to its security as an attack carried out by a bomber or conventional forces.

With that in mind, today the Obama Administration announced the creation of a cybersecurity director and released the findings of its 60-day cyberspace policy review, offering recommendations on steps the United States government, working with the private sector, should take to guard critical networks from harmful attacks.

Strong partnerships and open lines of communication between government and the private sector will be the key to protecting critical networks. As the report explains, the "public and private sectors' interests are intertwined" when it comes to cybersecurity. Government agencies are in a unique position to help companies identify attackers' targets and methods of operation, while companies can share expertise and best practices for guarding private networks and protecting the privacy of user data.

We support the Administration's goal to make the Internet safer and more secure, and we look forward to continuing our work with policymakers, software developers, security experts, and our users to help do just that.
URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/05/white-house-completes-cyberspace-policy.html

Thursday, May 28, 2009

[G] New Interface Thursdays: Looking back and a chance to meet the team

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Inside AdWords: New Interface Thursdays: Looking back and a chance to meet the team

With more AdWords advertisers using the new interface each week, we'd like to take a moment to recap the topics we've covered on New Interface Thursdays these past two months.

We started the series with a list of learning resources including the new AdWords interface website. The next week we showed you how you could use keyboard shortcuts to manage your campaigns more efficiently. We then wrote about how you can use filters and customize columns to help you focus on the data that's most important to you. Most recently, we took close looks at both the Keywords tab and Networks tab.

If you want to take the next step in mastering the new interface, and if you plan to attend SMX Advanced in Seattle, Washington next week, you can learn about the new interface from the people who built it. The new AdWords interface team will be doing a deep dive into the new interface and demonstrating some of the latest tools we're adding to AdWords:

When: Tuesday, June 2, 11 AM to 12:15 PM
Where: Sound Conference Room, Bell Harbor Convention Center, Seattle, WA

If you'd like to attend our session, you'll need to register for a free expo hall pass. We hope to see you at the session, and please visit us at booth #32 and tell us your thoughts about the new interface.

Posted by Austin Rachlin, Inside AdWords crew
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/05/new-interface-thursdays-looking-back.html

[G] Web Storage Portability Layer: A Common API for Web Storage

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Google Open Source Blog: Web Storage Portability Layer: A Common API for Web Storage

As discussed in our Google Code Blog post on HTML5 for Gmail Mobile, Google's new version of Gmail for iPhone and Android-powered devices uses the Web Storage Portability Layer (WSPL) to let the same database code run on browsers that provide either Gears or HTML5 structured storage facilities. The WSPL consists of a collection of classes that provide asynchronous transactional access to both Gears and HTML5 databases and can be found on Project Hosting on Google Code.

There are five basic classes:

google.wspl.Statement - A parametrizable SQL statement class

google.wspl.Transaction - Used to execute one or more Statements with ACID properties

google.wspl.ResultSet - Arrays of JavaScript hash objects, where the hash key is the table column name

google.wspl.Database - A connection to the backing database, also provides transaction support

google.wspl.DatabaseFactory - Creates the appropriate HTML5 or Gears database implementation


Also included in the distribution is a simple note-taking application with a persistent database cache built using the WSPL library. This application (along with Gmail mobile for iPhone and Android-powered devices) is an example of the cache pattern for building offline web applications. In the cache pattern, we insert a browser-local cache into the web application to break the synchronous link between user actions in the browser and server-generated responses. Instead, as shown below, we have two data flows. First, entirely local to the device, contents flow from the cache to the UI while changes made by the user update the cache. In the second flow, the cache asynchronously forwards user changes to the web server and receives updates in response.

By using this architectural pattern, a web application can made tolerant of a flaky (or even absent) network connection!

We'll be available at the Developer Sandbox at Google I/O to discuss the cache pattern, HTML5 development and the WSPL library. Check it out! If you have questions or comments, please visit our discussion list.

By Robert Kroeger, Software Engineer - Mobile Team
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2009/05/web-storage-portability-layer-common.html

[G] Introducing the Conversations element

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Social Web Blog: Introducing the Conversations element

Have you been looking for a way to easily add your favorite Google products to your own site? Now you can with Google Web Elements.

There are several different elements, including ones for Calendar, News, and Maps. But the one that may be of most interest to the readers of the Social Web Blog is the Conversation element. This element, powered by Google Friend Connect, lets your visitors post comments restricted to just your site or participate in a global conversation based on a topic of interest.

A global conversation takes place on several web sites simultaneously and will have a "Global conversation" label underneath the title. When visitors post to a global conversation on a specific topic, such as mandolins (as shown in the image below), the post not only shows up on the site where they posted it, but it also on any site that chooses to embed a Conversation element on mandolins, now or in the future. So now your visitors can talk about mandolins with others interested in the same topic, no matter what site they're on.


Because the Conversation element is powered by Friend Connect, visitors will be able to leave a comment by signing in with their existing Google, Yahoo, AOL, or OpenID account. Their photos will appear next to their comments and others will be able to learn more about them by viewing their profiles. And if they see comments in a foreign language, they can use the translate feature to view those comments in their own language.

You can choose from a number of predetermined topics such as cooking, movies, photography, and travel, or be creative and come up with a topic of your own. If you see a Conversation gadget you like on another site, simply click the "Embed this" link to get the code to paste it onto your own site.

We know that there are many topics you're interested in conversing about, and we're looking forward to seeing numerous global conversations ensue.



Posted by Cassie Doll, Software Engineer, Google Friend Connect
URL: http://googlesocialweb.blogspot.com/2009/05/introducing-conversations-element.html

[G] 3D tours added to the Google Earth Gallery

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Google LatLong: 3D tours added to the Google Earth Gallery

[Cross-posted from the Official Google SketchUp Blog]

If you're a 3D enthusiast, then you'll probably enjoy the latest addition to the Google Earth Gallery: 3D Buildings. This new category provides a number of self-running tours on various themes. The tours showcase some fascinating 3D buildings (along with bridges and statues and other structures) around the world, most of which were built by our passionate Google SketchUp users who model buildings for Google Earth. Whether your interest is castles, bridges, museums, baseball stadiums or skyscrapers, I think you'll find a self-guided tour that is of interest to you.


The tours were developed by geo-modelers Adam and Jordan, both of whom are 3D experts who really know their way around Google Earth.


To play a tour, simply click on the "Open in Google Earth" link to download the KML file. Then click the "Start tour here" link in the "Places" panel in Google Earth (download the latest version of Google Earth). Make sure the "3D Buildings" layer is checked in the "Layers" panel. The tour will pause at each location to ensure the 3D building is fully loaded. Click the play button to continue the tour. Enjoy!

Posted by Bruce Polderman, Sr. Business Product Manager
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/05/3d-tours-added-to-google-earth-gallery.html

[G] Support for Mercurial Now Available for All Projects Hosted on Google Code

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Google Open Source Blog: Support for Mercurial Now Available for All Projects Hosted on Google Code

You may recall that we recently asked for help from some early testers of Mercurial on Project Hosting on Google Code. As of today, all of our Project Hosting users can make use of this added functionality. For full details, check out the Google Code Blog. Better still, if you happen to be joining us at Google I/O, stop by the Mercurial on Big Table Tech Talk to learn more.

By Leslie Hawthorn, Open Source Team
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2009/05/support-for-mercurial-now-available-for.html

[G] Top Ten Myths About Google Analytics

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Google Analytics Blog: Web Analytics Tips & Tricks: Top Ten Myths About Google Analytics

We've noticed some misconceptions about Google Analytics floating around, and we thought we'd take a shot at correcting the most common ones. Without further ado, here they are, the top ten myths about Google Analytics debunked.

MYTH 1: "You get what you pay for." Google Analytics is free, which means the system is down a lot.

Google Analytics makes use of the same network of secure and reliable data centers used to power Google.com, making downtime an extremely rare occurrence. We have a large team focused exclusively on keeping your data safe and accessible, and benefit from multiple redundancies in our infrastructure around the globe (this makes us fast as well).

We even rely on Google Analytics for our own mission-critical products such as AdWords, which see huge volumes of traffic every day. If you're still having doubts, we'd encourage you to talk to some users and ask them how their experience has been with uptime.

MYTH 2: Google Analytics is basic and doesn't have any "advanced" features or metrics


Ack, this one is a tough one to swallow! A more frequent complaint is actually that Google Analytics has too much data. The product includes over 90 standard reports with more than 125 metrics and dimensions covering everything from visits to internal site search queries.

Custom reports and user-defined variables allow you to create your own metrics and reports where the standard ones don't meet your needs. With Pivoting, Advanced Segmentation, Secondary Dimensions, Event Tracking and the ability to share customizations, Google Analytics reports are more powerful than ever.

Google Analytics may look "basic," on the surface, but it can do a lot more than you think! If you have complex needs try talking to a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant or diving into the documentation on the Google Code Site.

More Info (Feature List, Custom Reports, Advanced Segmentation, Analytics API)

MYTH 3: Google Analytics only supports third-party cookies

False! Google Analytics has always used first-party, not third-party cookies. First-party cookies are important because they allow Google Analytics to track repeat visitors, so you can see which keyword, referring site, etc is responsible for bringing buyers even when it takes multiple visits for them to convert.

MYTH 4: Google Analytics is not really accurate

If you've spent time doing web analytics work, you'll know the sinking feeling that comes when two sets of numbers don't match. If you're experiencing a data discrepancy, don't panic. There are many others in the same boat.

Google Analytics uses JavaScript tags to collect data. This industry-standard method yields reliable trends and a high degree of precision, but it's not perfect. Most of the time, if you are noticing data discrepancies greater than 10%, it's due to an installation issue. Common problems include JavaScript errors, redirects, untagged pages and slow client-side load times.

For tips on how to sensibly approach data reconciliation, check out this post by Avinash Kaushik, Google's Analytics Evangelist, or this whitepaper on accuracy in Google Analytics. You can also talk to an expert.

All web analytics tools face the same technical limitations posed by JavaScript tags, so if another vendor claims their tool is more accurate, ask for some evidence.

More Info (Web Analytics Data Reconciliation Checklist, Whitepaper)

MYTH 5: It's not possible to export your data from Google Analytics

Not true! You have two options for exporting data. Use the "export" button at the top of each report to export the current view in PDF or XML (up to 500 rows). Or, use the new Analytics Export API to extract large amounts of data in any format you like. Also, if you want to share data with a colleague, you can schedule reports to be delivered directly to their email inbox, or even send regular updates to your own email address.

More Info (How to Export your Data, Analytics API)

MYTH 6: With Google Analytics you can't control your data

You have three options for data sharing in Google Analytics. You can change these options at any time from inside your Analytics account.
  • do not share your data
  • share your data with Google to improve its products
  • share your data anonymously for benchmarking

No matter which option you choose, your data is protected by several layers of defense:
  1. Dedicated security and infrastructure teams
  2. Multiple redundancies to prevent data loss
  3. Network redundancies to keep data accessible
  4. Advanced security, firewalling and routing to keep data secure
  5. Restricted access and principle of least privilege for personnel
If you opt-out of data sharing, your data will remain within Google Analytics and will not be shared with other products or services. If you decide to share your data with Google, it will be used to improve those products and services. Lastly, if you decide to share your data anonymously with others, it will be blended with other data to support the Google Analytics benchmarking feature. For more information on these options and what they mean, refer to the Google Analytics data sharing FAQ.

If you're still concerned, Google also offers a software product called Urchin (www.urchin.com) that you can run locally.

More Info (Data Sharing FAQ, Google Privacy Policy)

MYTH 7: There is no professional support for Google Analytics

Contrar! We flipped the model. Instead of providing an expensive analytics product with a one-size-fits-all professional services plan, we provide a free product and let you purchase the professional services that fit your needs.

There are several ways to get support: email support, help forums, the help center, and a network of Authorized Consultants. Authorized Consultants speak your language, accept your currency and often share your timezone. More than 80 companies across the globe provide a full range of installation and analysis support for Google Analytics. Some examples of things they can help you with are:
  • Validate and troubleshoot your installation
  • Integrate your analytics data with other data sources or CRM
  • Optimize your marketing efforts
  • Train your staff on how to use Analytics
  • Respond to support tickets, phone calls and provide on-site consulting
To find out more, give one or two of them a call. Our Authorized Consultants are hand-picked and are the best in the business.

More Info (Google Analytics Authorized Consultants)

MYTH 8: Google Analytics does not support A/B or multivariate testing and isn't well-integrated with other tools

Google offers a full range of marketing products including a free testing tool called Google Website Optimizer. You can use it to test different page elements and find out which ones yield the highest conversion rate and ROI. You can also use Google Analytics in conjunction with Website Optimizer to create an optimization plan for your site.

Google Analytics is also integrated with many of Google's other business products including AdWords, AdSense, and AdPlanner. It is also widely supported by third party tools ranging from content management systems, to email suites, to call center applications. In addition, you'll find many products that are complementary to Google Analytics including DoubleClick, TVAds, Webmaster Tools, Google Trends, Insights for Search, Feedburner, and more.

More Info (Google Website Optimizer, GWO Blog)

MYTH 9: You can't segment data in Google Analytics

In the fall of 2008, Google Analytics released three new Enterprise Features: Advanced Segmentation, Custom Reports and Motion Charts. Advanced Segmentation lets you segment visits by dozens of metrics and dimensions such as geographic location, time on site, referral site and much much more. You can create segments on the fly and apply them to virtually all the standard reports in Google Analytics as well as custom reports.


More Info (In Depth Look at Advanced Segments, Video)

MYTH 10: You have to spend a lot of money to get "real" web analytics

Getting a return from your Analytics data does take an investment. The most important investment to start with is making sure you or someone at your organization has the expertise and time to put your data to use. If at that point you still feel you need to pay more for a more complicated tool, that's OK, but remember that every dollar you spend on a tool takes away from money you could be spending on actually getting results, i.e. hiring or contracting a talented analyst (see the 90/10 Rule).

The question sometimes comes up, "if Google Analytics is free, what's in it for Google?" Google benefits from Google Analytics in two ways. First, if webmasters build better sites, it helps us connect searchers with the information they need faster. Second, if advertisers use Google Analytics, they are able to see their advertising ROI, which helps us demonstrate the value of Google AdWords. Both aspects have helped create a strong business case for Google Analytics over the years.

Google Analytics is getting more powerful with each new update, and you may be surprised by what it can do. Find out more by attending an Analytics Seminar for Success or talking to an Authorized Consultant in your area. If you're an AdWords advertiser, you can also speak with your Customer Service Representative.

More Info (90/10 Rule, Google Analytics Authorized Consultants, Seminars for Success)

Leave a comment

That's it for the top 10 myths. Still not convinced? Leave a comment and let us know!

Posted by Sebastian Tonkin, Google Analytics Team
URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2009/05/top-ten-myths-about-google-analytics.html

[G] Attention Nerds! A new gadgets API for communication

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Google Talkabout: Attention Nerds! A new gadgets API for communication

I spent my youth writing games on a computer hooked up to my parents' television but despite saving my pennies to buy a 300-baud modem, I was never able to realize my dream of writing a game that my best friend and I could play against each other on two computers. In all my games the I,J,K and M keys were used by player 1 while player 2 was stuck with W,A,S and Z on the same keyboard.

This was in the back of my mind when I started putting my 20% time towards building a simple javascript library on top of our Google Talk web client. After some demos, my 20% project grew to an 80% project, and we're now ready to show off -- and get feedback on -- the gadgets.realtime set of APIs. These APIs will let Google gadgets hosted in different user's browsers communicate with each other. The first API, gadgets.sharedstate, is available on the new Talk Developer Sandbox. With this API, you can share an object between instances of a gadget, and be notified in realtime when the other instance modifies it. More APIs and UI improvements to allow gadgets.realtime gadgets to be used on orkut and iGoogle are in the works and coming soon.















For more information and for sample applications, see the documentation.

We've set up a discussion group to collect feedback. So, help me out, fellow geeks! Try out this API and let me know what you think and share any cool gadgets you write.

Moishe Lettvin, Software Engineer
URL: http://googletalk.blogspot.com/2009/05/attention-nerds-new-gadgets-api-for.html

[G] Went Walkabout. Brought back Google Wave.

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Official Google Blog: Went Walkabout. Brought back Google Wave.

Back in early 2004, Google took an interest in a tiny mapping startup called Where 2 Tech, founded by my brother Jens and me. We were excited to join Google and help create what would become Google Maps. But we also started thinking about what might come next for us after maps.

As always, Jens came up with the answer: communication. He pointed out that two of the most spectacular successes in digital communication, email and instant messaging, were originally designed in the '60s to imitate analog formats — email mimicked snail mail, and IM mimicked phone calls. Since then, so many different forms of communication had been invented — blogs, wikis, collaborative documents, etc. — and computers and networks had dramatically improved. So Jens proposed a new communications model that presumed all these advances as a starting point, and I was immediately sold. (Jens insists it took him hours to convince me, but I like my version better.)

We had a blast the next couple years turning Where 2's prototype mapping site into Google Maps. But finally we decided it was time to leave the Maps team and turn Jens' new idea into a project, which we codenamed "Walkabout." We started with a set of tough questions:
  • Why do we have to live with divides between different types of communication — email versus chat, or conversations versus documents?
  • Could a single communications model span all or most of the systems in use on the web today, in one smooth continuum? How simple could we make it?
  • What if we tried designing a communications system that took advantage of computers' current abilities, rather than imitating non-electronic forms? 
After months holed up in a conference room in the Sydney office, our five-person "startup" team emerged with a prototype. And now, after more than two years of expanding our ideas, our team, and technology, we're very eager to return and see what the world might think. Today we're giving developers an early preview of Google Wave.

A "wave" is equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.


Here's how it works: In Google Wave you create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly. It's concurrent rich-text editing, where you see on your screen nearly instantly what your fellow collaborators are typing in your wave. That means Google Wave is just as well suited for quick messages as for persistent content — it allows for both collaboration and communication. You can also use "playback" to rewind the wave and see how it evolved.

As with Android, Google Chrome, and many other Google efforts, we plan to make the code open source as a way to encourage the developer community to get involved. Google Wave is very open and extensible, and we're inviting developers to add all kinds of cool stuff before our public launch. Google Wave has three layers: the product, the platform, and the protocol:
  • The Google Wave product (available as a developer preview) is the web application people will use to access and edit waves. It's an HTML 5 app, built on Google Web Toolkit. It includes a rich text editor and other functions like desktop drag-and-drop (which, for example, lets you drag a set of photos right into a wave). 
  • Google Wave can also be considered a platform with a rich set of open APIs that allow developers to embed waves in other web services, and to build new extensions that work inside waves.
  • The Google Wave protocol is the underlying format for storing and the means of sharing waves, and includes the "live" concurrency control, which allows edits to be reflected instantly across users and services. The protocol is designed for open federation, such that anyone's Wave services can interoperate with each other and with the Google Wave service. To encourage adoption of the protocol, we intend to open source the code behind Google Wave. 
So, this leaves one big question we need your help answering: What else can we do with this?

If you're a developer and you'd like to roll up your sleeves and start working on Google Wave with us, you can read more on the Google Wave Developer blog about the Google Wave APIs, and check out the Google Code blog to learn more about the Google Wave Federation Protocol

If you'd like to be notified when we launch Google Wave as a public product, you can sign up at http://wave.google.com/. We don't have a specific timeframe for public release, but we're planning to continue working on Google Wave for a number of months more as a developer preview. We're excited to see what feedback we get from our early tinkerers, and we'll undoubtedly make lots of changes to the Google Wave product, platform, and protocol as we go.

We look forward to seeing what you come up with!

Posted by Lars Rasmussen, Software Engineering Manager
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/went-walkabout-brought-back-google-wave.html

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

[G] 6 tactics for maximing your AdWords investment

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Inside AdWords: 6 tactics for maximing your AdWords investment

The current economy has been tough on businesses and customers alike, and it can be a lot harder these days to connect with more price-concious customers. To reach these customers, our internal team of AdWords optimizers has come up with 6 tactics that will help your AdWords campaigns be more relevant to your customers.

1. Focus your ads on low prices and savings.
2. Use value-related keywords.
3. Make sure your ad groups are targeted and relevant.
4. Don't waste money on irrelevant clicks.
5. Make it easy for customers to buy.
6. Focus your money on your high-performers.

You can read more about each of these tips including examples and instructions at www.google.com/adwords/tactics and you can also view these tactics in a pdf format at www.google.com/adwords/tactics/top_tactics.pdf. We hope these tactics will help you continue to see good returns from your AdWords investment.

Posted by Amanda Kelly, Inside AdWords crew
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/05/6-tactics-for-maximing-your-adwords.html

[G] Old tool, new tricks

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Old tool, new tricks

I like to think I can do practically anything in a spreadsheet. But it's probably more accurate to say that I like to *try* to do anything in a spreadsheet whether or not I can succeed.

Of course, my spreadsheet of choice is the kind I can access from anywhere and share in real time – in Google Docs. So, some would say that even when it makes no sense, I try to do things in a spreadsheet (case in point – my poker simulator – why'd I do that?) But there are some things I never thought possible, like sending an email or reading my calendar.

That's why we're excited to announce a limited test of a new feature which lets people add customization and automation to Google Apps, starting with spreadsheets in Google Docs. We call this feature Google Apps Script.

Google Apps Script provides the ability to automate a variety spreadsheet actions, such as reading and changing values in cells and ranges, changing formats and formulas, and creating custom functions. It also reaches outside of spreadsheets to allow you to send email or create calendar entries.

Check out the Google Apps Script overview, below, and watch our example of sending email from Google Spreadsheets.




As Google Apps Script is in limited test, we see it as a puppy who's still in training. In fact, just this week, he learned to fetch (URL content) and speak (translate to other languages). But we think he's ready now for some time outside his yard.

So we're inviting a limited number of Google Apps domains – about a thousand organizations – to start playing with Google Apps Script and giving us feedback so we can quickly understand which tricks would be the most beneficial to learn next.

If you're like me and like to stretch spreadsheets to their limit, and don't mind working with early release features, you can get involved in Google Apps Script now by applying to join this limited test phase.

Posted by Jonathan Rochelle, Product Manager, Google Docs

Get timely updates on new features in Google Apps by subscribing to our RSS feed or email alerts.
URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2009/05/old-tool-new-tricks.html

[G] Community Help Forum 2.0

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YouTube Blog: Community Help Forum 2.0

Today marks an exciting change for the Community Help Forum: We'll be transitioning from the Google Groups platform to a new support platform which we believe will make it even easier for you to find help and share knowledge with one another. In addition to an updated look and feel, the new Help Forum has some useful features geared toward better serving your needs.



So what's new?



* Particularly great answers can now be marked as a "Best Answer,” so users with a similar problem can find the solution quickly and easily.

* The new Help Forum keeps track of user reputation. You can immediately tell which posters are YouTube employees, top contributors, seasoned posters, or new posters. As users make positive contributions to the Forum, their reputation will increase, and so will their capabilities.

* Other benefits of the new Help Forum include the ability for you to link to Help Center content, blogs, websites, YouTube videos, and images in your posts.



What about the content from the old Help Forum?



The content from the Google Help Groups will not disappear, but we are closing the Help Groups from additional new posts. You can post all your questions and answers in the new Google Help Forum. Don't worry -- you'll still be able to search and read previously posted Google Help Groups content through the Help Center.



Definitely stop by the new Help Forum, give us feedback on what you like or don't like, and make yourself at home...



See you soon!

The YouTube Team
URL: http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=IVckWcM51dk

[G] Search engineer stories

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Official Google Blog: Search engineer stories

I came to Google because I wanted to work on hard problems and have a big impact on the world. Four years later, I'm still constantly awed by how challenging search is. We work on improving the entire search process, including formulating queries, evaluating results, reading and understanding information, and digging deeper with this new information. Every day we work on ways, both big and small, for search to be better, faster, and more effortless.

My fellow engineers and I wanted to give a peek into some of the challenges we face and how we're trying to make search even better. We created a series of short videos so you could hear straight from the engineers. Here's mine, where I talk about a change to spell suggestions.



Some of the videos may talk about things you are already familiar with and some may be new. Either way, we hope that you enjoy hearing these stories, and do stay tuned for more!

Posted by Patrick Riley, Software Engineer
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/search-engineer-stories.html

[G] Opening up Visualization

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Opening up Visualization

Yesterday we released a complete data source implementation for the Google Visualization API open wire protocol in an open source Java library. This enables users of the Visualization API, including enterprises, SMBs and other web application providers, to easily customize their data sources and make them compatible with the Visualization API Open Wire protocol. For some data sources, integrating this library could be an order of magnitude faster and require less resources than having to do a full implementation out of the protocol specification.

As business data continues to grow, so, it seems, does the challenge of understanding it. Visualization, or the presentation of data in charts, graphs, tables, and other visual representations, is often the missing piece that people need to make sense of this information.

To address these growing needs, last year we introduced the
Google Visualization API, a powerful API that enables anyone to build apps and display data from Google spreadsheets, as well as enabling visualization in the cloud from any data source connected to the web.

Companies can create and use reporting applications from the Google Visualization Gallery that can be integrated anywhere on the web. The gallery offers dozens of visualizations, from pivot tables and heat graphs to the celebrated motion charts and timelines.

We have also opened up the gallery so that any developer can include their new innovative visualizations and make them available to others. To facilitate multiple data sources, we have published an Open Wire protocol that specifies how to make any data source ready for use by the Visualization API. And we recently announced the Google Secure Data Connector (SDC), which enables to keep the data sources behind a company firewall, while serving visualizations and other apps in the cloud.

All of these abilities bring
us closer towards Open Visualization in the cloud, and today we take one more big step in this direction. We believe that these enhancements will facilitate innovative and more accessible visualizations of business information, helping enterprises communicate with information in ever-better ways.

Posted by Nir Bar-Lev, Head of Analytics, EMEA, and Yossi Matias, Head of Israel Engineering Center




URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2009/05/opening-up-visualization.html

[G] Google Affiliate Network: One Year Later

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Google Affiliate Network: Google Affiliate Network: One Year Later

It’s been just over a year since our affiliate business became part of Google. To say a lot has happened seems obvious but I am proud of what our team has accomplished. To name just a few of the achievements: a new brand & UI, numerous platform enhancements, fantastic client and employee satisfaction in the midst of integration and many, many, new customers. Google Affiliate Network is fully integrated operationally within Google. We had an exciting year, but I am even more excited about where we are going.


Our focus remains the same, drive exceptional customer satisfaction through affiliate channel growth; however, being part of Google brings a mindset in how to best achieve our goals. A culture focused on the user and the tenet that ads must be high quality now permeates the Google Affiliate team.


Our goals are clear as we invest in our Platform, integrate our Network and continue to refine and evolve the Practice of Affiliate Marketing. To this end, we recently launched an “opportunities center” in the platform allowing advertisers to more easily identify underperforming relationships. This capability generates growth by improving optimization. We currently are beta testing data feed integration with Google Base which will drive growth with improved category taxonomy and data validation, as well as an improved user experience for advertisers who will only have to send one feed to Google. Publishers benefit from a higher quality data feed. The integration with Google Base is also an example where integration with other Google products and systems enables our Affiliate engineers to focus on affiliate innovation, while the engineers supporting Base will drive that product forward. Our team and our users benefit in many ways from Google’s scale and engineering excellence.


Google brings a focus on making decisions based on facts and data, rather than intuition. Our Practice embraced this focus, and has conducted more than 20 structured optimization projects this past quarter, resulting in measurable lift in program performance. These are just a few of our accomplishments to date, and the possibilities and ideas endless.


There is a lot of hard work ahead. I am sure we will make mistakes and things won’t go as fast as we want. But know that we are 100% committed to our customers’ satisfaction and to bringing unprecedented innovation to affiliate marketing. Our collective futures are very bright.


Thank you for your business and continued support.


Chris Henger

Head of Google Affiliate Network

URL: http://googleaffiliatenetwork-blog.blogspot.com/2009/05/google-affiliate-network-one-year-later.html

[G] Cool Uses of YouTube APIs

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YouTube Blog: Cool Uses of YouTube APIs

API stands for "Application Programming Interface," but what it means is "open for innovation." Developers write software that enables you to bring elements of YouTube to your website, software application or device, creating whole new portals of possibility.



Our API blog keeps developers in-the-know on the latest happenings in the YouTube API world, and this page on YouTube gives a comprehensive overview of where to start, how to build custom players for your site, widgets to play with, instructional videos, developer forums, and more. On May 27-28, many avid developers will convene in San Francisco for the Google I/O developer conference to learn from each other and share best practices.



While all those tech-heads are getting together, we wanted to start a new series in this blog that shows you the best of the fruits of their labor. For example, take the upload. Sure, you can go to YouTube and click the yellow "upload" button on the homepage. But there are actually many ways for a video to go from point A (your recording device) to B (YouTube), all made possible by creative use of APIs:



* Android 1.5 sports a one-click upload process which happens in the background so you can do other things while the video is being uploaded. Learn more about it in this Google Mobile blog post.

* iMovie has one-step publishing to YouTube. Apple has details here.

* Qik automatically updates your live stream to YouTube once the stream is completed. Go to the Qik site here for more info.

* Eye.Fi offers an SD (Secure Digital) card that you can insert into your digitial camera enabling you to upload videos wirelessly from the camera to YouTube. Read a product review from the Washington Post here.

* Flip is an ultra-portable digital camcorder with software that makes it easy to upload recorded videos to YouTube. The camera plugs directly into your computer's USB port.




Then there are some pretty cool slideshow apps, which make it easy to turn photos into videos:



* Animoto heralds itself "the end of the slideshow."

* One True Media "perfectly mixes" your life for family and friends.

* Aquasoft sells slideshow creation software.




And games. You probably already know about SPORE's Creature Creator app, which blew up on YouTube last summer. Turns out, there are other games making good use of YouTube's API:



* PixelJunk Eden fans can capture video of game recordings and upload directly to YouTube. More info in our API blog here.

* GoldenTee gives you the option to upload to your YouTube account if you make a great shot. There's a wireless connection inside each game, meaning that if you're in an arcade or bar without an Internet connection you can still upload videos worthy of bragging rights.




What YouTube apps have you seen that made you drool with excitement? Tell us about them in the comments below and we may include them in a future blog post here or in the API blog.



Yours,

Kuan Yong

Product Manager

The YouTube Team
URL: http://www.youtube.com/blog?entry=e8uIYxgPaAs

[G] Kicking off 2nd annual Google I/O developer gathering

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Official Google Blog: Kicking off 2nd annual Google I/O developer gathering

Today is the first day of Google I/O — two days of developer talks, fireside chats and demos, all focused on the latest innovations in the web as a development platform. We're excited to have this chance to welcome more than 3,000 developers to the Moscone Center in (unusually) sunny San Francisco for a variety of interactive roundtables and talks on subjects like Android, Google Maps and Google Apps for the Enterprise.


We'll be back with more news as the conference progresses. In the meantime, you can follow updates on the @googleio Twitter stream; videos of all sessions will be available on code.google.com shortly after they conclude.

Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog team
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/kicking-off-2nd-annual-google-io.html

[G] Webmaster tips: fighting back against hacks and spam

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Webmaster tips: fighting back against hacks and spam

Most webmasters would agree that hacking and spamming are a real problem, but many may not be aware of how vulnerable their websites might actually be. Even more importantly, many webmasters may not know where to go to find resources that can help them protect their site, or show them what to do if their site has been hacked or spammed.

I want to share some examples that might help build understanding of the problem and motives behind hacking and spamming, and also offer some online resources to help organizations avoid these problems as much as they can.

If we look at [site:.edu free ringtones], we will see a lot of examples of different educational institutions being exploited by hackers for their high traffic and well-known names. For aspammer , acquiring links from a high-traffic site can artificially give their sites more worth and manipulate search results in their favor.

An example we often see is hackers using an exploit in a sites database (SQL Injection) or in sites that have unchecked areas for user input (XSS). A way to look for this is to run the site: query mentioned above (site:.edu free ringtones) and take look at the URLs of the sites that show up. If you see some trailing parameter like [/?p=ringtones], then your site is most likely hacked. Here are some steps you can take to prevent your site from getting hacked:

  • One way to avoid SQL injection hacking is to escape all dangerous characters from input fields, with "dangerous characters" being those that can access and change the database behind your site.
  • For both SQL injection and XSS hacking, creating a layer between the user input data and your back-end systems creates a space where you can check inputs and make sure that a user is not entering malicious code.
  • Another potential exploit can occur if the root or any subdirectory of your site uses an open source CMS like Joomla or WordPress. In this situation, it is really important to make sure the CMS software is updated with every new release to make sure you are using the most secure version.

For more on hacking, check out this Google Webmaster Central Blog post: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/02/best-practices-against-hacking.html.

Forums can also be points of access for hackers and spammers. Does your site have a forum? If so, do a quick site search on your forum section [site:example.com/forum/]. Do you see anything fishy in the snippets, like "freeringtones"? If your forum is not about ringtones , this may very well be a case of comment spam. Any sort of platform where users can freely post their own comments, including hyperlinks, is a target for comment spam – especially if your website ranks high in the search results. The main reasoning behind comment spam is aspammer wants to get as many people as possible to visit their site and spend money there. The spammer can post several links on forums, guestbooks, etc., pointing to their own site, to help artificially boost their ranking in search results. Here are some precautions you can take:

  • Every time a user wants to add a profile or comment on the forum, require them to complete a CAPTCHA. This creates an obstacle for automated software to generate profiles and comments.
  • Add spammy keywords like "free ringtones" and "online casino" to a blacklist to block comments like this from showing up.
  • Install a plug-in that automatically detects and blocks spam posted to the forum. Akismet is an example of this.

For more on comment spam, check out this Google Webmaster Central Blog post: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2008/09/keeping-comment-spam-off-your-site-and.html.

Resources
Staying aware of the latest spam and hacking trends, regularly monitoring the activity on your site, and being vigilant about updating your applications and plug-ins are key to keeping your website safe fromspammers and hackers. We've provided some Google resources here:

Webmaster Central Blog (http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/) – Search for blog posts written by Googlers about how to secure your site.

Webmaster Central Channel on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/googlewebmasterhelp) – See video tutorials on all things webmasters.

Webmaster Help Center (http://google.com/support/webmasters/) – Find help articles on various webmaster concerns, including what to do if your site has been hacked.

Webmaster Help Forum (http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters) – Chat with your fellow webmasters about past and present experiences with being spammed or hacked, and get a variety of perspectives on how to protect your site.

Webmaster Tools (http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/) – If you're not already registered, this is a great way to monitor how your site looks on Google. You can see what kind of sites are linking to you, and the top queries users type in to get to your site.

In addition to the links provided above, it's also a good idea to seek out more knowledge that is specific to your web server, applications, and plug-ins.

Posted by Adi Goradia and Charlene Perez, Search Quality Team
URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2009/05/webmaster-tips-fighting-back-against.html