Friday, July 31, 2009

[G] Should you spring clean your solar panels?

| More

Official Google Blog: Should you spring clean your solar panels?

Ever since we assembled a 1.6 MW solar panel installation at our headquarters in Mountain View in 2007, we've been wondering, "Does cleaning the solar panels make them more effective?" We thought it might, but we needed to be sure. So we analyzed the mountains of data that we collect about the energy that these panels produce — after rain, after cleaning and at different times of the year.

We have two different sets of solar panels on our campus — completely flat ones installed on carports, and rooftop ones that are tilted.

Since the carport solar panels have no tilt, rain doesn't do a good job of rinsing off the dirt they collect. (Also, our carports are situated across from a sand field, which doesn't help the situation.) We cleaned these panels for the first time after they had been in operation for 15 months, and their energy output doubled overnight. When we cleaned them again eight months later, their output instantly increased by 36 percent. In fact, we found that cleaning these panels is the #1 way to maximize the energy they produce. As a result, we've added the carport solar panels to our spring cleaning checklist.

The rooftop solar panels are a different story. Our data indicates that rain does a sufficient job of cleaning the tilted solar panels. Some dirt does accumulate in the corners, but the resulting reduction in energy output is fairly small — and cleaning tilted panels does not significantly increase their energy production. So for now, we'll let Mother Nature take care of cleaning our rooftop panels.

Accumulated dirt in the corners of a rooftop solar panel

We've also been crunching numbers on dollars-and-cents; the more energy our panels produce, the sooner we'll be paid back by our solar investment. Our analysis now predicts that Google's system will pay for itself in about six and a half years, which is even better than we initially expected.

If you want to learn more about our solar study, check out these slides showing the effects that seasonality, tilt, dirt, particulate matter, rain and cleaning have on Google's solar energy output. We hope you solar panel owners out there can tailor our analysis to the specifics of your own installation to produce some extra energy of your own!

Posted by Winnie Lam, Senior Product Manager

[G] App Inventor for Android

| More

Official Google Research Blog: App Inventor for Android

Posted by Hal Abelson, Visiting Faculty

At Google Research, we are making it easy to build mobile applications, and we're collaborating with faculty from a dozen colleges and universities to explore whether this could change the nature of introductory computing. With the support of Google University Relations, the faculty group will work together this fall to pilot courses where beginning students, including non-computer science majors, create Android applications that incorporate social networking, location awareness, and Web-based data collections.

Mobile applications are triggering a fundamental shift in the way people experience computing and use mobile phones. Ten years ago, people "went to the computer" to perform tasks and access the Internet, and they used a cell phone only to make calls. Today, smartphones let us carry computing with us, have become central to servicing our communication and information needs, and have made the web part of all that we do. Ten years ago, people's use of computing was largely dissociated from real life. With the ubiquity of social networking, online and offline life are becoming fused. This fall's exploration is motivated by the vision that open mobile platforms like Android can bring some of that same change to introductory Computer Science, to make it more about people and their interactions with others and with the world around them. It's a vision where young people—and everyone—can engage the world of mobile services and applications as creators, not just consumers. Through this work, we hope to do the following:

  • Make mobile application development accessible to anyone.
  • Enhance introductory learning experiences in computing through the vehicle of Android’s open platform.
  • Encourage a community of faculty and students to share material and ideas for teaching and exploring.

The collaborative experiment kicked off with a three-day workshop at Google's Mountain View campus in June, where invited faculty shared their plans for the courses they will offer this fall. The group also got an advance look at App Inventor for Android, the prototype development platform that Google is working on and that the faculty and their students will use in their courses. App Inventor for Android lets people assemble Android applications by arranging "components" using a graphical drag-and-drop-interface. One of the goals of the fall experiment is to further shape the system in response to the experience and feedback of students and faculty.

The schools participating in this fall's collaboration are Ball State University, University of Colorado Boulder, Georgia Tech, Harvard, Indiana University, Mills College, MIT, Olin College, University of California at Berkeley, University of Michigan, University of Queensland, University of San Francisco, and Wellesley College.

Questions or comments? Please send us feedback. We look forward to hearing from you!

[G] Civil rights leaders call for equal access to knowledge through digitized books

| More

Google Public Policy Blog: Civil rights leaders call for equal access to knowledge through digitized books

Posted by Johanna Shelton, Senior Policy Counsel

Much of the world's knowledge is trapped in physical books. People fortunate enough to attend large research institutions like Stanford or the University of Michigan can access vast library collections, but people living in inner cities or rural areas have a much harder time accessing this level of knowledge.

We're hoping to help change that. Under an agreement we announced last year with authors and publishers, Google will be able to make millions of books from major research libraries more accessible for all Americans, including those in minority, disability, and other communities that have typically lacked equal access to information.

That was the focus of an event that we co-hosted this week with the Institute of Intellectual Property and Social Justice at Howard University School of Law. Distinguished voices from civil rights, academic, and library organizations joined Google Senior Vice President David Drummond to discuss the legal, technical, and social barriers that must be overcome to truly equalize access to knowledge.

Equalizing access is about more than one product or one company -- but we're glad that Google Books can be a part of the solution. As Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, put it:
"If there's one last frontier that we have to conquer on the road to equal opportunity in America, it's access to knowledge, access to quality public education, and access to higher education for all... The Google Book Search project is a unique contribution to that effort."

We'll be making video of the entire event available in the next few days. In the meantime, check out what Wade and our other panelists had to say about Google Books in these short videos:

"A down payment on equal opportunity..."
-- Wade Henderson, President and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR)

"Millions and millions of books that blind people could never get before -- they’ll now be able to get through digitized formats..."
-- Charles S. Brown, Esq., Legal Consultant to the President of the National Federation of the Blind

"We're very confident that the great benefits of this tool are going to be transforming in nature..."
-- Brent Wilkes, National Executive Director, League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

"We believe it is a way to eliminate that digital divide..."
-- Rhea Ballard-Thrower, Associate Professor and Director of the Law Library, Howard University School of Law

"Geographic barriers, economic barriers, language barriers – all of those things will be become diminished..."
-- Lateef Mtima, Professor of Law and Founder and Director of the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice, Howard University School of Law
(Check out the text of Professor Mtima's remarks for the event.)

[G] Search Options now on Google Images

| More

Official Google Blog: Search Options now on Google Images

A few months ago when we announced the Search Options panel, we promised that you would soon see similar functionality across our other search properties. Today we are rolling out Search Options for Google Images.

This new feature offers quick access to existing tools, including search by color and image type. Color search will find images that are only in color or only in black and white, or even images that contain a specific color, such as red, pink, or green. Type search is a great way to narrow down your results if you are looking for a specific kind of image, such as a photo, clip art, line drawing or face.

We've also revamped our size search. In addition to choosing from commonly searched-for sizes, now you can search for an exact image size or any image larger than a certain size. You can find images of practically any size, including 70 megapixels or more.

The new layout makes it faster and easier to combine and toggle between options. It also makes it easier for us to add additional image search options in the future, so keep your eyes peeled. Just click "Show options..." in the blue bar on the search results page to try out any of these tools.

Posted by Ken Dauber, Software Engineer, and Nate Smith, Associate Product Manager

[G] Visualizing greenhouse gas emissions

| More

Google LatLong: Visualizing greenhouse gas emissions

Even for experts and scientists, analysing data on emissions and climate change can seem like a rising sea of numbers. The United Nations Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC) in collaboration with several Googlers has created a map that visualizes greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions generated by a number of industrialized countries.

The aim of this map is to give scientists, decision-makers, media and the general public a new way to navigate data collected since 1990. We hope that this can provide a valuable tool for understanding climate change leading into the upcoming negotiation of a new climate change agreement in Copenhagen at the end of this year.

The greenhouse gas map allows you to gradually move from a very high-level view (e.g. the changes in emissions between 1990-2006 in the screenshot above) to a detailed analysis down to country level. You can also visualize any combination of emission categories (e.g. energy, industrial processes etc.), greenhouse gas type (e.g. CO2, CH4, etc.), and year (or the change from base year to 2006), via drop-down menus.

For instance, a visualisation of the aggregate greenhouse gas emissions from energy sources of European countries in 2006 looks like this:

Hovering your mouse over a country marker shows total emission values for that country, and clicking on the country itself brings up a detailed analysis based on the settings for the global map (see example below for Germany).

You can notice some interesting trends from this data. As time goes by, emissions for each sector can go up or down for many reasons - for example, changes in efficiency, or use of different energy sources. One of the sectors, LULUCF ("land use, land-use changes, and forestry"), is not like the others - it can have negative emissions or, as they say, can act as a 'sink'. LULUCF helps to account for the carbon that's stored in trees, plants and soil: greenhouse gases could be released when forests are burned or cut down, or captured when existing forests grow or new forests are set.

We, along with UNFCCC, hope that the map will underscore the importance of global climate agreements that aim to decrease greenhouse gas emissions. You can read more on the UNFCCC website.

Posted by Benjamin Kott, Green Business Operations (London) and Simon Ilyushchenko, Site Reliability Engineer (Mountain View)

[G] Seminars for Success in Vermont — AdWords, Analytics, Website Optimizer and Socializing

| More

Google Analytics Blog: Seminars for Success in Vermont — AdWords, Analytics, Website Optimizer and Socializing

Ah, Burlington, Vermont in late summer....can you do any better? The summer is winding down and the last quarter of the year is still a ways away and easily prepared for. All of France is on vacation. :-) The weather is just right on Lake Champlain. There's some time to get energized for the holiday season. It's a good chance to take a break, roll up your sleeves, learn some new skills and do some networking. And if online marketing and analysis is your field, there's no better time and place than Burlington this August to do it.

Join Google Seminar for Success leaders in Burlington from August 11 - 14 for an enriching and fun few days at their Seminars For Success Summit '09. Epikone, a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant, hosts this summit every year, and we've never heard a bad word about it. This year should be the best yet. Here's what to expect:
  • Industry leaders from Google Analytics Authorized Consultants EpikOne and WebShare, AdWords Seminar Leader Anastasia Holdren, Analytics Evangelist Avinash Kaushik and others will cover in-depth training on Google's online marketing suite and dive into strategic insights at the thought leadership day.
  • Daily workshops will cover all aspects of Google AdWords, Google Analytics and Website Optimizer along with special sessions on social marketing, mobile strategies and more.
  • Plus each night you'll experience the best Vermont has to offer while socializing with peers, including brewery tours, lake cruises, shopping, sightseeing and more.
Did we mention brewery tours? Burlington was voted one of the best small cities in which to do business by "Inc. Magazine" and offers tons of outdoor activities for families. It'll be fun, but don't get us wrong - you will come away from this Summit with increased expertise and contacts that will do nothing but benefit you and your business.

Learn more and register online at

Posted by Eva Woo and Jeff Gillis, Google Analytics Team

[G] Start selling online with the Google Checkout store gadget

| More

Official Google Checkout Blog: Start selling online with the Google Checkout store gadget

We're happy to announce the launch of the Google Checkout store gadget in Google Labs. In a matter of minutes, you can create an online store that's powered by Google Checkout and has inventory managed in a Google Docs spreadsheet. Selling online has never been easier -- no complicated coding or technical tasks are required, just three easy steps:

1. Sign up for a Google Checkout seller account.
Checkout will process your orders and help you attract new leads, convert more sales, and enjoy advanced fraud protection.

2. List the products you want to sell in a Google Docs spreadsheet.
You'll just need to create a copy of our template spreadsheet, and then replace the sample inventory with your own.

3. Place the Google Checkout store gadget on your website.
You can embed your online store anywhere you'd like -- on Google Sites, Blogger, or your personal website.

Ready to start selling? Create your online store quickly and easily using the Google Checkout store gadget today.

Posted by Anjali Vaidya, Associate Product Marketing Manager

Thursday, July 30, 2009

[G] We're Listening

| More

Official Google Mobile Blog: We're Listening

Here at Google, user feedback helps us improve our products. While we love to hear praise on what's working well, the honest direct feedback on what's not working is just as valuable and motivating. We'd like to share a couple of stories about recent product changes that were shaped greatly based on the feedback you have provided in the Google Mobile Help Forum. Hopefully, you'll continue to raise your voice and help us build better and more useful products.

iGoogle for Android and iPhone

In January, the high-end version of iGoogle for Android was discontinued because we felt it was too slow, and users were, instead, redirected to the standard Mobile iGoogle site. At the time, we thought you'd welcome the improvements to speed and stability. We humbly found out that we were wrong. One thread in the user forum received over 350 replies and almost 18,000 page views! Here's what some folks had to say:

"Its not just that the standard mobile verision of iGoogle is weak, its vastly inferior to the optimized version for iPhone..." - mccarrabba

"The mobile version is not good enough. Why should I have to suffer because other mobile devices offer crappy browsers? This is a horribly short-sighted decision." - tewha

Well, we heard you loud and clear. Our team read each of the forum posts, and listened to why the standard version did not meet your needs. Last month, we brought back iGoogle for Android and iPhone and made it better than ever. The new version is faster and easier to use, and there's support for tabs and more of your favorite gadgets. We also now support the in-line display of articles for feed-based gadgets, so you can read article summaries without leaving the page.

We're glad that so many of you voiced your ideas. iGoogle is back and better, and it seems like folks are pretty stoked:

"Personally, I could have cried. And I mean that in a good way. OMG-about time!! I'm leaving on vacation and was for sure I was going to have to take my laptop. Tabs actually work! My gadgets work! Its back! Hip Hip Hooray!" - ktigger2

Google Maps for mobile
Soon after we launched Google Maps for mobile 3.0 and Google Latitude on four platforms (Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Symbian S60), we received some helpful feedback on where improvements could be made and problems fixed.

Keeping in mind the input of many faithful Help Forum posters, we released two updated versions for Windows Mobile and Symbian S60 users in April (version 3.0.1) and July (version 3.2). These versions added new features, like Layers, and included some fixes and new ways to use Maps for mobile that were among the most requested by you. For example, the My Maps feature request received over 2,000 votes on our Mobile Product Ideas page. We also used specific Help Forum conversations to tweak behavior, such as the backlight timeout on Symbian phones, and to fix issues, like copy and paste for Windows Mobile phones.

In June, we also updated Maps in Android Market to Maps 3.1, introducing popular feature requests like Transit directions and Google Search by voice. We've received lots of positive feedback about pushing out these features:

"Not only is this an awesome update, but what an awesome way to distribute!" - matt

In addition to the iGoogle and Maps for mobile updates, your feedback also led to the development of other exciting new features -- for example, labels for Gmail and direct YouTube uploads on Android. Your ideas and requests help us to drive and prioritize new products and features, so please post your thoughts on the Help Forum. As you continue to show us what you care about, we'll continue to listen as we work on our mobile products.

Posted by Chris Nguyen & Gabe Garcia, Google Mobile Consumer Operations

[G] Send mail from another address without "on behalf of"

| More

Official Gmail Blog: Send mail from another address without "on behalf of"

Posted by Emmanuel Pellereau, Software Engineer

Quite a few of you use Gmail's custom "From:" to send messages with one of your other email addresses listed in place of your Gmail address. Since these messages are sent by Gmail's servers but "from" a non-Gmail address, we have to include your original Gmail username in the "Sender" field of the message header to comply with mail delivery protocols and help prevent your mail from being marked as spam. Most email programs just display the "From" address and not the "Sender" field, but some (including versions of Microsoft Outlook) show these messages as coming "From On Behalf Of" which really annoyed people.

We heard your request for another option that wouldn't show the "on behalf of" text loud and clear, and now there's a new option that does just that. Instead of using Gmail's servers to send the message, we'll use the servers where your other email address lives. Since Gmail isn't the originating domain, we don't have to include "Sender" info in the header. No more "on behalf of."

Here's the difference. All custom "From:" addresses used to work like this:

Now, if your other email provider supports POP and/or IMAP access, you can choose to send your message like this instead:

To switch to this new method, go to the Accounts page under Settings, and click "edit info" from the "Send mail as" section. Then choose the option to "Use your other email provider's SMTP servers."

We recognize that your other address might not have a server that you can use to send outbound messages — for example, if you use a forwarding alias rather than an actual mailbox, or if your other email provider doesn't support authenticated SMTP, or restricts access to specific IP ranges. For this reason, we've kept the original method as well. Check out our Help Center for further details on these two "send mail as" configuration options.

If you use Google Apps Premier or Education edition and would like to send mail as another address within your domain or within an aliased domain, no sweat. We do all the work behind the scenes so your original username won't be listed in the "Sender" header, and your recipients won't see "on behalf of."

[G] New DDD Episode: Tools For Marketers

| More

Google Analytics Blog: New DDD Episode: Tools For Marketers

Google offers a bunch of free information tools that marketers can use to grow their business. They're especially useful and relevant now as budgets are tighter, while at the same time the need to grow your business has never been greater. The latest episode of Data Driven Discussions focuses on two of Avinash's favorite tools in addition to Google Analytics and Google Website Optimizer: Insights for Search and Ad Planner.

Both can be hugely informative and useful for any marketer. In this video, after typically making sure Nick, our Google Analytics Developer Relations Manager, is on his toes, Avinash, the Analytics Evangelist here at Google, gives real world use cases from his own experience using each of these products.

He uses Insights For Search to find out the actual demand around a keyword, product, trend or even industry, broken down by geography and clearly showing whether "interest over time" is growing or waning. Below, you can see a screen shot of an Insights For Search comparison between the terms "AdWords" and "Google Analytics."

Take a look at this great article on more ways to use Insights For Search, including choosing advertising messages, examining seasonality, creating brand associations, and entering new markets.

Next, Avinash discusses Ad Planner which is even more useful for a marketer. It tells marketers what websites their target customers are likely to visit so that they can make more informed advertising decisions. Avinash takes us through the Ad Planner process, where you type in an example website, keyword or demographic information which reflects the audience you're looking for, and out pops a list of sites related to those conditions, as well as traffic and demographic estimates about that site. It's incredibly easy and is a wealth of information! If you've ever wondered what sites to target - now you know. And you can even go one step further and create and save a media plan right within the tool.

And here's a video on using Ad Planner:

And at the end of the Data Driven Discussions episode, Avinash goes so far as to basically call me a dork. Though, an insult from our Analytics Evangelist is somehow like a slap on the back from a buddy who wants you to succeed.

Posted by Jeff Gillis, Google Analytics Team

[G] In North America? We recommend EFT for your next payment

| More

Inside AdSense: In North America? We recommend EFT for your next payment

We want to get you paid by the fastest means possible. As many of you know, we offer Western Union in 23 countries and courier service in many other countries.

We'd like to take a minute to remind our North American publishers that the fastest way for you to receive your payments is via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). EFT is quick and easy to set up. When payments are issued, there's no need to wait for the delivery in the mail -- the funds appear in your bank account shortly after they're issued. That means if we processed a payment for you this month, your earnings would be in your bank account already.

Also, EFT is good for the environment, since a check doesn't need to take a ride by sea, plane, or land to reach you. In available locations, it's the Google-recommended form of payment, so we hope you won't hesitate to sign up. You can learn more in our Help Center.

To our publishers in regions where we don't offer EFT yet, please know that we're always working towards expand our payment options, so stay tuned to Inside AdSense to learn when new forms of payments launch in your location.

Posted by Elizabeth Ferdon - AdSense Payments Team

[G] Use Google Docs & Google Checkout to Sell Online

| More

Official Google Docs Blog: Use Google Docs & Google Checkout to Sell Online

The Google Checkout store gadget -- a new offering just released to Google Labs -- allows anyone to create an online store using a Google spreadsheet. How does it all work?

Using new Spreadsheet Data APIs, we've integrated Google Docs and Google Checkout to make online selling a breeze. In three simple steps, you'll be able to create an online store that's powered by Google Checkout and has inventory managed and stored in a Google spreadsheet.

No complicated coding or technical tasks are required. You can get your first online store up-and-running in under five minutes.

1. Sign up for Google Checkout
2. List products you want to sell in a Google spreadsheet
3. Place the Google Checkout store gadget on your website. (Also supported: Google Sites, Blogger, and iGoogle).

Ready to get started? Create your online store using the Google Checkout store gadget today.

Here's a quick summary of the required steps.

1. Sign up for Google Checkout

Signing up for Google Checkout is quick and easy. You'll use your Checkout account to process orders placed at your new online store. Plus, Checkout can also help you attract new leads, convert more sales, and enjoy sophisticated protection against fraud.

2. List products you want to sell in a Google Docs spreadsheet

First, create a copy of our template spreadsheet. Next, replace the sample inventory with your own. Our step-by-step guide will walk you through the set-up and publishing of your spreadsheet.

3. Place the Google Checkout store gadget on your website.

You can embed the store gadget anywhere you'd like. The step-by-step guide has detailed instructions for embedding your new online store in Google Sites, Blogger, iGoogle, or your personal website. Sample sites with the gadget embedded:

Learn more about the Google Checkout store gadget, or review our troubleshooting guide if you have any difficulty implementing the Checkout store gadget on your site.

Posted by: Mike Giardina, Strategist, Google Checkout

[G] A hearty welcome to NewsGator users

| More

Official Google Reader Blog: A hearty welcome to NewsGator users

A little while back, our friends over at NewsGator told us that lots of people who use their client RSS readers like FeedDemon and NetNewsWire had been asking for the ability to synchronize with Google Reader, since maintaining two separate subscription lists was a hassle. Today, we're happy to report that we've worked with NewsGator to make this possible, and new versions of their client readers released today will use Google Reader as the synchronization backend. If you use one of these applications, check out NewsGator's instructions and FAQ on transitioning your subscriptions.

Now that Google Reader can be used as the online companion to NewsGator's client applications, they've decided to discontinue consumer use of NewsGator Online, their free web-based RSS reader, at the end of August. If you've been using this service, you'll need to transition your subscriptions to Google Reader. To do this, all you need to is a Google account (you already have one if you use Gmail), and here's a video to help you get started. To those of you who have been waiting for this integration and to those of you who are using Reader for the first time, welcome!

As always, we'd love to hear your feedback in our help group, Twitter or Get Satisfaction.


[G] New Interface Thursday: Bye bye beta

| More

Inside AdWords: New Interface Thursday: Bye bye beta

When we started building the new AdWords interface we asked ourselves two questions. First, how can we help you get your work done faster? Second, how can we help you find the right tools at the right time to drive the best possible performance for your AdWords campaigns? We believe we've made great progress towards these goals, and today, the new interface is coming out of beta.

We've heard from many of you that the new interface has made a material difference for your business. Advertisers have saved time with quicker editing, reporting, and account navigation, and they've improved campaign performance by using better integrated tools to refine their targeting.

For example, search marketing agency ROI Revolution has used the new interface to reduce the average time they spend optimizing a given campaign for the Google Content Network from a few hours to just 20 minutes. Team lead Justin D'Angelo explains: “We’ve spotted things that used to take much longer, require running reports and require much more data analysis. With the new interface, we can spot it in a second and cut costs for our clients."

B2B software company ClickTime has also seen measurable business impact from using the new interface. They've used the search terms report to increase their CTR by 31% while reducing cost per lead and improving overall lead quality. On the whole, they estimate their AdWords productivity has increased by 100% with the new interface. You can read more about these success stories on our case studies page.

Let's look at the continuous improvements we've made and new features we've rolled out to the new AdWords interface in response to advertiser feedback. In the past month alone we've released spreadsheet editing to support bulk changes to keyword lists, and location extensions to simplify the local advertising process, among other additions. And we're not done yet -- the new AdWords interface is built on an infrastructure that lets us develop features more quickly than in the past, so you'll continue to see new features released regularly in the coming months.

Now that the new interface is out of beta, we're upgrading a larger number of advertiser accounts to the new interface exclusively. If you have questions about the interface, please consult the new interface microsite or attend an upcoming free webinar.

Finally, we'd like to say thank you to all of you who helped us test the new AdWords interface over the past nine months. Your feedback has been invaluable in making AdWords what it is today. And as always, if you have any comments or requests, please let us know.

Posted by Austin Rachlin, Inside AdWords crew

[G] Welcome to Boston: the MBTA on Google Maps

| More

Google LatLong: Welcome to Boston: the MBTA on Google Maps

For my thirteenth birthday, one of my aunts gave me a gift I won't soon forget: a day in Boston. I grew up north of the city and, as a child, often visited the Museum of Science, Newbury Street, the Swan Boats, and elsewhere with my family, but my aunt's gift acknowledged the maturity and meaning associated with becoming a teenager. On a Saturday morning, she drove my cousin and me to Alewife Station and handed us MBTA tokens (there were no Charlie Cards at the time).

From that point on, I must have spent time nearly every weekend heading into Boston, riding the Commuter Rail from my hometown of Andover to North Station. In high school, the T carried me to concerts in Central Square and Kenmore Square. When I studied at Boston University, the Green Line ran through our main corridor, and again and again the trolleys, subways, and buses transported me around town. Like any regular public-transit commuter, I witnessed delays, congestion, and post-snowfall on-board slushiness, but the overall benefits of public transportation far outweighed any of those grumblings. To this day, whenever I'm home, after morning coffee with my dad, I take the MBTA into the Google Boston office in Kendall Square.

Now, all those routes that I -- and millions of other riders -- have traveled over the years can be planned with Google Maps. Today at South Station, we accompanied the Massachussetts Bay Transportation Authority to announce the availability of the MBTA's commuter rail, subway, bus, and ferry schedules through Google Transit, joining nearly all major U.S. transit agencies and more than 400 cities around the world in making their transit data available.

For locals and visitors alike, Google Transit makes it easier to search and discover public transportation options that get them into, around, and out of Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Quincy, Somerville, and the surrounding areas -- or to travel to and from other MBTA-linked cities like Brockton, Gloucester, Lowell, Providence, and Worcester.

One of the great benefits of Google Transit is that it helps people discover the availability of public transit by showing a MBTA itinerary as an alternative to driving directions in Google Maps. But when you know that public transit is your first choice, you can also head to for a complete trip planner, accessible both from your web browser and your mobile phone. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Google Transit also connects the MBTA's services with other local agencies already on Google Transit, like Lexington Lexpress, the MetroWest Regional Transity Authority, and Rhode Island Public Transit Authority, so it's easier to know where and when these services connect.

The Transit team here at Google appreciates all those who have been part of bringing public transit data to Google Maps in the region, such as the high-school student who worked to get the Lexpress on board, the "Put the MBTA on Google Transit!!!" Facebook group, and of course the team at the MBTA involved in making this happen. We all have our memories of coming and going, and I'm certain there are people of all ages in and around Boston who realize there's a city waiting for them to explore.

Posted by Sean Carlson, Global Communications & Public Affairs

[G] I now pronounce you monetized: a YouTube video case study

| More

Official Google Blog: I now pronounce you monetized: a YouTube video case study

(Cross-posted from the YouTube Biz Blog)

Last week the world watched in wonder as Jill Peterson and Kevin Heinz's wedding party transformed a familiar and predictable tradition into something spontaneous and just flat-out fun. The video, set to R&B star Chris Brown's hypnotic dance jam "Forever," became an overnight sensation, accumulating more than 10 million views on YouTube in less than one week. But as with all great YouTube videos, there's more to this story than simple view counts.

At YouTube, we have sophisticated content management tools in place to help rights holders control their content on our site. The rights holders for "Forever" used these tools to claim and monetize the song, as well as to start running Click-to-Buy links over the video, giving viewers the opportunity to purchase the music track on Amazon and iTunes. As a result, the rights holders were able to capitalize on the massive wave of popularity generated by "JK Wedding Entrance Dance" — in the last week, searches for "Chris Brown Forever" on YouTube have skyrocketed, making it one of the most popular queries on the site:

This traffic is also very engaged — the click-through rate (CTR) on the "JK Wedding Entrance" video is 2x the average of other Click-to-Buy overlays on the site. And this newfound interest in downloading "Forever" goes beyond the viral video itself: "JK Wedding Entrance" also appears to have influenced the official "Forever" music video, which saw its Click-to-Buy CTR increase by 2.5x in the last week.

So, what does all of this mean? Despite compelling data and studies around consumer purchasing habits, many still question the promotional and bottom-line business value sites like YouTube provide artists. But in the last week, over a year after its release, Chris Brown's "Forever" has again rocketed up the charts, reaching as high as #4 on the iTunes singles chart and #3 on Amazon's best selling MP3 list. We've seen similar successes in the past with partners like Monty Python.

One of our main goals at YouTube is to help content creators effectively make money from the distribution of their content online. That they can do so in a way that brings artists and our community together to create fun, spontaneous and inspiring works, is one of the best and most exciting things about YouTube.

Posted by Chris LaRosa, Technical Account Manager, and Ali Sandler, Music Partner Manager

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

[G] Share your results with PDF Reports

| More

Official Google Website Optimizer Blog: Share your results with PDF Reports

When I talk with users of Website Optimizer, they often tell me how exciting it is watching a test unfold and seeing the final results. That feeling you have after realizing that the new call to action section just sextupled your conversion rate is not just exciting, it's contagious, and you want to share it.

Previously, sharing your Website Optimizer reports could be a bit burdensome. You might have used a shared account or shared access through AdWords or exported the data to a spreadsheet, or maybe you even took screenshots of the reports. We released a new feature today that makes it easier to share your experiment results with others: PDF reports.

With a PDF report you can generate a full copy of the Website Optimizer reports for any experiment. This makes it easy to share reports within your company (and perhaps with your very own hippo), or with clients (and their hippos).

You'll find PDF reports on the Reports page for any Website Optimizer experiment.

Personally, I'm starting to build a collection of my best experiments. PDF reports look great framed on my wall.

Posted by Trevor Claiborne, Website Optimizer team

[G] Enhancements to Google Apps Directory Sync

| More

Official Google Enterprise Blog: Enhancements to Google Apps Directory Sync

Today we're releasing two enhancements to Google Apps Directory Sync, a tool that helps businesses synchronize the user and directory information in their LDAP systems with Google Apps. These changes complement the improvements to contacts in Google Apps that we announced a few weeks ago.

Now Google Apps Directory Sync not only helps synchronize employee contact information, but also information for non-employees that are listed in the central LDAP directory. This way, employees can easily look up and contact important customers, partners and vendors, too.

This release also expands the list of contact fields that can be synchronized between an LDAP system and Google Apps. Rich user profile information like multiple phone numbers, addresses and job titles are now supported, making full profiles easily accessible by employees.

Companies and schools using Google Apps Premier and Education Editions can learn more and get started with Google Apps Directory Sync here:

Posted by Navneet Goel, Product Manager, Google Apps team

Get timely updates on new features in Google Apps by subscribing to our RSS feed or email alerts.

[G] Less than 24 hours to submit your ideas for a national broadband plan

| More

Google Public Policy Blog: Less than 24 hours to submit your ideas for a national broadband plan

Posted by Richard Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel

Earlier this month Google and the New America Foundation announced a special Google Moderator page where users can submit and vote on ideas for how to make high-speed Internet access more available and affordable in the United States. So far we've been overwhelmed with the creativity and enthusiasm of the responses.

In just under two weeks, more than 2,100 people from around the world have submitted more than 530 ideas and cast more than 45,300 votes. Here's a quick taste of what people are saying:

"Whatever method or process is decided for deploying broadband, it needs to support down and upstream capacities that prepare for the future, not simply serve the needs of right now."
Justin M, Turlock, CA

"We seem to have gotten a road and an electric wire to almost every building in the US, no matter how remote. Any plan that has a lesser goal than eventually attaching every building to a high-speed computer network is too small, IMHO."
Rollie, Indianapolis, IN

"This country can have free WiFi nationwide by constructing WiFi towers that are also windmills. Excess energy can be sold, providing free WiFi and helping this country with its enormous energy needs, while also providing free WiFi to the masses."
Roadrunner, Earth

But what do you think?

If you haven't already weighed in, today is your last day to submit your ideas to Google Moderator. Voting will close tonight at midnight (Eastern Time).

Over the next several days we'll be studying each and every submission, and next week we'll submit the results from Google Moderator to the official FCC record on your behalf. Stay tuned to this blog for the latest information on this and other projects designed to help bring more broadband to more Americans.

[G] NYT editorial: Google books "holds great promise"

| More

Google Public Policy Blog: NYT editorial: Google books "holds great promise"

Posted by Johanna Shelton, Policy Counsel & Legislative Strategist

I'm here at Howard University this morning for our Google Book Search event, but I came across this New York Times editorial today about the settlement that I wanted to share. We may not agree with everything in it (particularly on privacy and the settlement's approach to orphan works), but I appreciated that the Times editorialists recognized that Google Books "holds great promise for increasing access to knowledge." From the editorial:

Google's effort could create new interest in millions of out-of-print books, which would be made available at no cost at public libraries. That means that a student at a community college or a freelance writer could access the same books as a Harvard professor.

At a time when publishing's economic model is threatened, there is also an important financial upside for authors and publishers. Google would charge users for accessing copyrighted books from their own computers and sell online ads, and it would give writers and publishers 63 percent of the revenue. The settlement would create a books rights registry to distribute payments.

Despite the claims otherwise by some critics of the settlement, the Times also noted that "Google's access to most books would not be exclusive since Microsoft or Joe's Online Library could cut their own deal with authors and publishers and scan books as well." Here here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

[G] Picking your test type: A/B or Multivariate?

| More

Official Google Website Optimizer Blog: Picking your test type: A/B or Multivariate?

Google Website Optimizer lets you run two types of experiments: A/B and Multivariate. Both types help refine your website to increase conversions, but some tests are better suited for A/B while others are better suited for Multivariate. Choosing the appropriate type for your test can save you time and help your test run more smoothly.

If you want to test two (or more!) completely different pages against each other, we recommend using an A/B test. For example, you can change the content of a page, alter the look and feel, or move around the layout. Visitors will be shown the alternates and Website Optimizer will keep track of how each page is converting.

Multivariate experiments work best when you want to refine different sections on your webpage. For example, you can test different headlines, images, and buy buttons all at the same time. Website Optimizer will show the combinations to visitors and keep track of each combination's performance.

We've created a short video that can serve as your reference guide to selecting the appropriate test type:

And, of course, you'll find many more videos on our Website Optimizer YouTube channel.

Posted by Trevor Claiborne, Website Optimizer team

[G] Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server: coming soon

| More

Official Google Enterprise Blog: Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server: coming soon

We wanted to share a quick update regarding the Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which we pre-announced in May. We've been working hard to make this feature publicly available in Google Apps Premier Edition and Education Edition, and a significant number of our customers have been actively using and testing the Apps Connector over the last several months. The feature is very close to being ready for prime time, and as we move toward the finish line it's looking like the Apps Connector will be launched in August, not July as previously hoped.

We're sorry for this delay. We know many of you are excited about this integration with BlackBerry Enterprise Server, and we appreciate your patience as we continue to test and finalize over the next few weeks.

Posted by Raju Gulabani, Product Management Director

Get timely updates on new features in Google Apps by subscribing to our RSS feed or email alerts.

[G] Tips for maintaining an AdSense-friendly site with user-generated content

| More

Inside AdSense: Tips for maintaining an AdSense-friendly site with user-generated content

These days, user-generated content is everywhere, from the comments below newspaper articles, to the photos and videos shared on social networks. So it's no surprise that many publishers are monetizing this type of content with AdSense ads. But, while you're familiar with types of content which are compliant with the AdSense program policies, your users might not be. We understand that it's not always easy to monitor hundreds of new comments, posts, user profiles, videos, or photos every day, so here are a few ideas on how to maintain an advertiser-friendly environment on your pages.

As a quick note before we head into the tips, remember that inappropriate content can come in many forms -- images, forum posts, comments, links, and so on. For example, adult content isn't only limited to pornographic images; it can also be sexually explicit forum posts or spam bot comments with links to adult sites, which aren't permitted by our policies. We recommend reviewing our previous Inside AdSense post on this topic for further clarification and a few tests you can try on your content.

Now for the tips, which we've divided in two sections - 'Prevention' and 'Monitoring'.


Here are some recommendations for ways to prevent your ads from appearing alongside user-generated content that isn't compliant with our policies:
  1. Publish clear content guidelines and policies that your users will have to accept and adhere to in order to sign up and use your site's services.

  2. If you own a photo or video sharing site where users are permitted to upload adult or other non-compliant content, clearly structure your content to avoid placing your ad code in sections/categories containing this type of content. The same idea could also be easily applied to online stores with adult sections or to classifieds sites which offer adult dating classifieds.

  3. Ask users to tag their inappropriate content (e.g. sexually suggestive pictures or videos) as being non family-safe. This can help you perform human evaluations of potentially inappropriate content for AdSense ads. You can also try installing keyword filters for content related to adult topics, violence, or drugs, for instance. While we're unable to provide you with details about setting up these filters for your site, we recommend searching for terms such as "keyword filtering" or "content filtering" on

  4. Implement spambot protection for your comment forms, forums, and guest books. If you need more information on this topic, try a Google search for "spambot protection".

We suggest these tips to ensure that your existing user-generated content pages remain compliant with our policies:
  1. Set up ways for your community to monitor itself. For example, try adding a "Report inappropriate content" link to your pages, to allow users to flag content for you to review.

  2. Proactively review pages, videos, photos, etc. with high pageviews on a regular basis.

  3. Spot-check content based on keywords, content search, or related user accounts. For example, try entering keywords related to inappropriate content in your own search engine and checking the results. Alternatively, you can search on using the following parameter, replacing '' with your own site's URL and 'keyword' with a specific word or phrase: " keyword".

  4. Create editorial policies and exercise moderator control in your comments, forums, and guestbook sections.
We hope you find these tips helpful. You can also read related information and suggestions from our Search Quality Team in a recent post on the Webmaster Central Blog. If you have any other ideas, or if you've already implemented similar measures on your sites with user-generated content, please feel free to leave a comment below and share your experience.

Posted by Gergana Marinova - AdSense Publisher Support

[G] The Iterative Web App: Links Got Shorter and Smarter

| More

Official Google Mobile Blog: The Iterative Web App: Links Got Shorter and Smarter

On April 7th, we announced a new version of Gmail for mobile for iPhone and Android-powered devices. Among the improvements was a complete redesign of the web application's underlying code which allows us to more rapidly develop and release new features that users have been asking for, as explained in our
first post. We'd like to introduce The Iterative Webapp, a series where we will continue to release features for Gmail for mobile. Today: Smart Links.

We all know that on a mobile device, screen space is scarce, so it's not very helpful when I get an email with a long link such as this Google Maps link:

Not only is the link taking up an unnecessarily large amount of space, but it's not easy to find the address that's hidden in the middle of the link. To solve this problem, we now shorten the link and automatically convert raw links into named links, which we call "Smart Links". So instead of seeing that long link to Google Maps, you're going to see the link renamed to the actual address:

Clicking on it still takes you to the same Google Maps page, but now the link is much shorter and the important information is more visible!

Here's a list of links we currently support:
  • Google Maps address queries
  • Google Maps directional queries (with one destination)
  • Google Sites webpages
  • YouTube videos
We're planning to roll out support for more link types, such as Google Docs, so watch for those in your emails. Please note that Smart Links work only in plaintext emails right now.

To try out Gmail for mobile, visit in your mobile browser. This version of Gmail for mobile supports iPhone/iPod touch OS 2.2.1 or above, as well as all Android-powered devices, and is available for US English only. To make it easy to access your Gmail account, try creating a home screen link.

One more tip: Label management got easier for Android-powered devices with a physical keyboard. In the "Label as..." menu on the floaty bar, there is now a text box above the list of labels. You can type the name of a label you wish to select into the box rather than clicking on it. As you type, the list filters to show only labels that match what you've typed. We also added more keyboard shortcuts to bring it closer to the Gmail experience on your computer.

Posted by Casey Ho, Software Engineer, Google Mobile

[G] Google Summer of Code Flocks Together

| More

Google Open Source Blog: Google Summer of Code Flocks Together

One of the great things about Google Summer of Code™ is that it's a great way to meet other Open Source-minded people. Not only do students get paired with their mentors, but students get to know each other, as do mentors and project administrators.

Last month, Leslie Hawthorn, Cat Allman, and I attended the Google Summer of Code Birds of a Feather session at Open Source Bridge, organized by Jonathan Leto. We had the pleasure of meeting with Google Summer of Code students, mentors, admins, and potential participants to discuss what works, what doesn't work, and ways the program could be improved. We got some great feedback, and best of all, we had the opportunity to interact face to face with participants instead of solely via email, mailing lists, or IRC! You can see a photo and read more about the meetup on Jonathan's blog post about the event.

Last week, the Open Source Programs Office outreach team met with more Google Summer of Code participants at our BoF session at OSCON. Our session extended late into the night with some really interesting discussions about how to help students succeed in computer science.

If you would like to know about upcoming Google Summer of Code meetups, please join our meetups mailing list - we'd love to meet you!

by Ellen Ko, Open Source Team

Monday, July 27, 2009

[G] Programming made Simple!

| More

Google Open Source Blog: Programming made Simple!

In the 90s, a big company from up north was extremely successful with a dialect of the programming language BASIC (acronym for Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code). One of the reasons it was so successful was that the language was easy to learn and use.

Bringing an easy to learn and use language to the mobile world and the Android platform is the goal of the Simple project. Simple is a BASIC dialect for developing Android applications. It is particularly well suited for non-professional programmers (but not limited to). Simple allows programmers to quickly write Android applications by using the components supplied by its runtime system.

Similar to its 90s relative, Simple programs are form definitions (which contain components) and code (which contains the program logic). The interaction between the components and the program logic happens through events triggered by the components. The program logic consists of event handlers which contain code reacting to the events. In reality it is even simpler than this description.
Let's see how simple it really is. We will quickly write a program simulating the famous Etch-A-Sketch on an Android device. Tilting the device will move the pen, shaking the device will clear the screen. The Simple runtime system gives us three components to provide most of the needed functionality:
  1. the Canvas component - for drawing
  2. the OrientationSensor component - to detect tilting
  3. the Accelerometer component to detect shaking
Let's take a look at the source code for this application:

Dim x As Integer
Dim y As Integer

Event OrientationSensor1.OrientationChanged(yaw As Single, _
pitch As Single, roll As Single)

If roll < -20 Then
x = Math.Min(Canvas1.Width, x + 1)
ElseIf roll > 20 Then
x = Math.Max(0, x - 1)
End If
If pitch < -20 Then
y = Math.Min(Canvas1.Height, y + 1)
ElseIf pitch > 20 Then
y = Math.Max(0, y - 1)
End If
Canvas1.DrawPoint(x, y)
End Event

Event AccelerometerSensor1.Shaking()
End Event

The code defines two global variables (lines 1 and 2) and two event handlers, one to handle changes in the device's tilt (lines 4 to 17) and another to handle shaking of the device (lines 19 to 21). The code in the first event handler makes sure to only react to tilting above a certain degree (lines 6, 8, 11 and 13), and if that is the case then it further ensures that the pen does not run off the drawing surface (lines 7, 9, 12 and 14). And finally a point is drawn at the pen position (line 16). As for the other event handler, the only thing it does is clearing the drawing surface in case of shaking (line 20).

Last part missing is the form definition. It defines the form and its properties (lines 24 to 27), followed by the components it contains (lines 28 to 33).

$Source $Form
$Define EtchSketch $As Form
Layout = 3
BackgroundColor = &HFFFFFFFF
Title = "EtchSketch: Tilt to draw - Shake to clear"
$Define Canvas1 $As Canvas
$End $Define
$Define OrientationSensor1 $As OrientationSensor
$End $Define
$Define AccelerometerSensor1 $As AccelerometerSensor
$End $Define
$End $Define
$End $Properties

That's it. The only thing left to do is to compile and deploy the application to an Android device. And voila, here is a screenshot of the application running:

For a definition of the Simple language see the Simple Language Definition (download, 199 KB PDF). For more information on writing Simple applications see the open source project page at You can also find information there on contributing to the project, and we encourage you to join our discussion list to provide us feedback.
Programming made Simple!

By Herbert Czymontek, Software Engineering Team