Friday, September 4, 2009

[G] Hood to Coast 2009

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Official Google Blog: Hood to Coast 2009

This past Monday, when my co-workers asked me what I did over the weekend, I casually mentioned that I ran a 197 mile race. Thankfully, Hood to Coast is a relay, so I finished with my legs intact after journeying from Mount Hood to Seaside, Oregon with 11 other Googlers.

Team Google One was comprised of Googlers from the AdSense, AdWords and engineering groups. We competed against more than 1,000 other teams, including blazing fast running shoe companies and other tech companies.

We kicked off the first leg near the top of Mount Hood at 6:45 pm last Friday, as our first runner barreled down 4000 feet of elevation. During the relay, each team member ran three legs, varying in distance from three to eight miles. At exchanges, the current runner handed off a snap bracelet baton and cheered on his swiftly departing teammate. When not running, we wolfed down PB&J's, and slept in the vans or in massive congregations of sleeping bags along the road.

We started with the sun setting over dramatic gray-blue mountains and ran through the night as reflective vests became fireflies flickering down country roads. We finished at 2:25 pm Saturday afternoon in 19 hours and 40 minutes on the beach where a funk band was laying down some grooves. The time earned us eighth place overall and second place in the corporate division, according to the still unofficial results (PDF).

In addition to medals, we walked away with sore legs, cross-office friendships and some great stories.

Team Google One pauses for a moment as we prepare to descend Mount Hood

Posted by Matt Kane, Associate, Consumer Operations
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/hood-to-coast-2009.html

[G] College football anyone?

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Google LatLong: College football anyone?


Ahhh, fall: the morning air gets crisp, the leaves start to change to their autumnal hues... and most importantly, gridirons across the land are again alive with the pomp and pagentry of college football! This weekend marks the beginning of the 2009-2010 college football season. To celebrate the joyous renewal of pigskin rivalries, we've created this KML file marking the home stadiums of the 246 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams. So whether you'd like to take a trip down memory lane and re-visit the stadium of your alma mater or if you'd like more information about the next opponent of your favorite team, we've got the file for you. We've included a quick overview of each school, a link to school news, the name and an image of their mascot, and their home stadium. Oh, and be sure to turn on '3D Buildings' for full effect.

Download the KML here.



FUN FACT: While authoring this file we noticed that, as you meander across the country, you'll notice an abundance of Bison, Bulldogs, and Tigers and a paucity of Bearcats, Jackrabbits, and Horned Frogs. How many unique mascots can you find?

We hope you enjoy visiting the stadiums and learning more about the schools, stadiums, and their geospatial distribution.

Posted by Adam (go Spartans!) Hughes, Sr. Strategist, Google Apps, and Pete (go Gophers!) Giencke, GIS Data Engineer
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/09/college-football-anyone.html

[G] Helping create responsible digital citizens

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Google Public Policy Blog: Helping create responsible digital citizens

Posted by Alice Wu, Policy Specialist, YouTube

With more and more kids going online, whether to connect over social networking sites, mingle in chat rooms or play games, it's become increasingly important for families, schools and service providers to work together to ensure that the younger generation understands their responsibilities while they explore the virtual world.

A few weeks ago, Google participated in the 21st Annual Crimes Against Children Conference in Dallas, where over 3,500 members of law enforcement, child advocacy groups, the tech industry and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) convened to share ideas, discuss strategies and explore new technologies designed to combat the many and varied forms of crimes against children. We had the opportunity to describe some of the positive steps Google is taking to educate and safeguard minors who use our products and services, as well as the unique ways we support the individuals on our staff who do child exploitation-related work.

According to a recent NCMEC study in patterns and trends in online child victimization, the past few years have seen a 6% increase in reports of kids providing images and videos of themselves when asked by online acquaintances; sending naked photos of themselves through text messages ("sexting"); and cyber-bullying. This new trend underscores the need to educate our younger users, their families and teachers on ways to create and enjoy safe online experiences.

We're doing our part by working with child safety organizations and law enforcement around the globe to spread positive messages about life online. For example, in mid-September, we're launching a global training program on YouTube to help teens teach other teens about these issues. This is just one step among many that we're taking to help create a generation of responsible digital citizens.
URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/09/helping-create-responsible-digital.html

[G] Voices of support for the Google Books settlement

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Google Public Policy Blog: Voices of support for the Google Books settlement

Posted by Derek Slater, Policy Analyst

We've spent a lot of time with authors, publishers, academics, civil rights groups and other communities this summer discussing how the Google Books settlement will impact them. We've met individually with a number of organizations and participated in their events. And we've hosted our own forums across the country.

Yesterday, we took part in another call with even more groups, including the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Federation of the Blind, the United States Students Association and others, who together voiced their support for the agreement.

These groups, along with many others we've heard from in past months, represent a large and diverse collection of many millions of people, and they believe, like we do, that providing more access to more books is of critical importance. They have voiced their support through videos, op-eds, and tweets, as well as through statements sent directly to the Court.

In editorials, The New York Times and the Washington Post have echoed the importance of increasing access to information. And just this week, The Economist weighed in with its support for the approval of the settlement and cited the benefits for authors, publishers, libraries and researchers "from Manhattan to Mumbai."

We continue to be inspired by these stories, and we've gathered them all on a new site that can be found here. We know this is a complex issue, and we want to make sure all of these voices are heard. As we get closer to the court date for the settlement approval, we anticipate there will be even stories more to share. And we'll make sure to add them to this site.
URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/09/voices-of-support-for-google-books.html

[G] Helping create responsible digital citizens

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Official Google Blog: Helping create responsible digital citizens

With more and more kids going online, whether to connect over social networking sites, mingle in chat rooms or play games, it's become increasingly important for families, schools and service providers to work together to ensure that the younger generation understands their responsibilities while they explore the virtual world.

A few weeks ago, Google participated in the 21st Annual Crimes Against Children Conference in Dallas, where over 3,500 members of law enforcement, child advocacy groups, the tech industry and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) convened to share ideas, discuss strategies and explore new technologies designed to combat the many and varied forms of crimes against children. We had the opportunity to describe some of the positive steps Google is taking to educate and safeguard minors who use our products and services, as well as the unique ways we support the individuals on our staff who do child exploitation-related work.

According to a recent NCMEC study in patterns and trends in online child victimization, the past few years have seen a 6% increase in reports of kids providing images and videos of themselves when asked by online acquaintances; sending naked photos of themselves through text messages ("sexting"); and cyber-bullying. This new trend underscores the need to educate our younger users, their families and teachers on ways to create and enjoy safe online experiences.

We're doing our part by working with child safety organizations and law enforcement around the globe to spread positive messages about life online. For example, in mid-September, we're launching a global training program on YouTube to help teens teach other teens about these issues. This is just one step among many that we're taking to help create a generation of responsible digital citizens.

Posted by Alice Wu, Policy Specialist, YouTube
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/helping-create-responsible-digital.html

Thursday, September 3, 2009

[G] Four new themes

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Official Gmail Blog: Four new themes

Posted by Jake Knapp, UI Designer and Manu Cornet, Software Engineer

Manu: Hey Jake, you still using that same old theme?
Jake: Well, yeah. I mean, I like it -- but I don't know... I guess it just doesn't feel as new as it used to.
Manu: I hear ya. Well, good news! Today four new themes are out there for everybody. Just go to the Themes tab under Settings...and ta da!
Jake: (click, click) There we go!
Manu: Should we tell people about why we created these four themes?
Jake: We should.
Manu: Assuming they're still reading.
Jake: Right. Okay, well, Gmail themes have been out since November, and I know we were ready for some new ones.
Manu: And we heard some of you asking for new ones too. So we thought about what we wanted to stare at all day long, since we work on Gmail.
Jake: I've been living in Zurich for the last year, and I missed Washington State, where I grew up. The Orcas Island theme definitely takes away a little bit of that homesickness with a new image each day of the week.


Manu: Homesickness eh? What about timesickness?
Jake: There's such a thing?
Manu: Totally. Sometimes I find myself timesick.
Jake: For when?
Manu: For a simpler time. For a time when processors weren't too fast. When graphics weren't too realistic.
Jake: Sounds like a real bummer. Too bad there's no cure for timesickness.
Manu: That's where you're dead wrong, my friend. Take a look at High Score. It's like being in a time machine isn't it?


Jake: (click, click) Aren't these colors a little bright?
Manu: Aren't you supposed to be a designer?
Jake: We'll have to agree to disagree, my friend. This one just isn't for me. I need something soothing. Something like laying face down in the grass.
Manu: I suppose you're talking about Turf now. What's the story behind that one?


Jake: Well, who doesn't like the color green?
Manu: And it doesn't change every day, so it was easier for us to make.
Jake: Are you suggesting we're lazy?
Manu: Prove that we're not.
Jake: We just made four new themes. How about that?
Manu: It took us ten months. And the fourth theme (Random) merely cycles through all the others.
Jake: Well, enjoy these themes for now. And, of course, let us know what you think. Maybe we'll have some more for you in the next ten months ;)
URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/four-new-themes.html

[G] An update on Google Books and privacy

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Inside Google Books: An update on Google Books and privacy

Posted by Jane Horvath, Global Privacy Counsel
(Cross-posted from the Google Public Policy Blog)

We're excited about the wide range of support that the Google Books settlement has received. Some people have asked how Google's privacy practices apply to Books and the settlement, and, last month, we published an extensive FAQ.

Since last spring, we've had detailed discussions with a number of groups about our privacy practices within Google Books as well as some of our preliminary thoughts about what privacy protections we want to build into services authorized by our settlement agreement. As part of our outreach, we talked to Federal Trade Commission staff to hear their thoughts and answer their questions on privacy and Books. Rather than limit our conversations to the FTC and other specific organizations, though, we wanted to share the results of our exchange with the wider public by releasing a formal Privacy Policy for Google Books, and by highlighting a letter we recently sent to the FTC on Google Books and privacy.

While Google Books has always been covered by the general Privacy Policy for all of Google's services, we understand that the privacy of reading records is especially important to readers and libraries. We know that users want to understand how Google's privacy practices apply to Books today, and what will happen after the settlement. To provide all users with a clear understanding of our practices, and in response to helpful comments about needing to be clearer about the Books product from the FTC and others, we wanted to highlight key provisions of the main Google Privacy Policy in the context of the Google Books service, as well as to describe privacy practices specific to the Google Books service. We've also described some privacy practices for services created by our proposed settlement agreement, which is currently awaiting court approval.

As we noted in our letter to the FTC, because the settlement agreement has not yet been approved by the court, and the services authorized by the agreement have not been built or even designed yet, it's not possible to draft a final privacy policy that covers details of the settlement's anticipated services and features. Our privacy policies are usually based on detailed review of a final product -- and on weeks, months or years of careful work engineering the product itself to protect privacy. In this case, we've planned in advance for the protections that will later be built, and we've described some of those in the Google Books policy. We have also covered several privacy issues in our letter to the FTC on Google Books. You can read more of that exchange on the FTC's website here.

We take our privacy commitments to our users very seriously. It's important to note that like all of our privacy policies, this one is legally enforceable by the FTC, which has helped us clarify our practices and policies through comments and questions.
URL: http://booksearch.blogspot.com/2009/09/update-on-google-books-and-privacy.html

[G] Ogg Theora Book Sprint

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Google Open Source Blog: Ogg Theora Book Sprint




What's the best way to spend a summer week in Berlin? Writing a manual about Ogg Theora of course...at least that was the opinion of 6 dedicated souls brought together by FLOSS Manuals with the help of Google's Open Source Team.

The event is another in the growing body of FLOSS Manuals Book Sprints, kicked off by our first meeting to write a manual for Inkscape. The aim of these sprints is to write a book in 5 days. Actually, we have done it it in shorter time – in February of this year we wrote a 260 page manual introducing newbies to the Command Line in 2 days. Though created quickly, these books are extremely well written texts: comprehensive, readable, and complete.

For a long time we have been wanting to add to the available material on how to use Ogg Theora – the premier free video codec. Waiting until now to do it turned out to be very fortuitous as Firefox 3.5 was released just weeks before and hence Theora has been given a very recent boost with native support via the HTML5 video tag. As it happens a lot of the technologies supporting Theora have come to recent maturity. Only a few months ago it was hard to find a simple GUI editor for Theora video but now PiTiVi can manage simple editing very easily and smoothly and the development track looks very good. Theora also has great subtitling support, either through embedded subtitles or using an extension to JQuery javascript libraries. Streaming is looking good also with the fantastic Theora Streaming Studio and you can get grubby on the command line with a whole host of mature tools for manipulating and analyzing Theora files. There is more of course, much more, but the point being that we were very happy to have the opportunity to gather some Theora junkies in one spot for a week and write a book on all the cool stuff you can do with Theora video.

A 220 page manual in 5 days - not bad. And it's all free, libre and gratis. Some of the material is also now being translated by the FLOSS Manuals Finnish community, and we hope more translations will follow.

Present at the sprint was myself (Adam Hyde, founder of FLOSS Manuals), Jan Gerber (ffmpeg2theora developer), Jörn Seger (Ogg Tools developer), Holmes Wilson (FSF Campaigns manager) and Theora geeks Susanne Lang and David Kühling. A few popped in remotely to help out, for which we are always grateful – notably Silvia Pfeiffer and Ogg K.

In the end we have free documentation that you can read online, download as a PDF, or log in and improve. It's also available in dead tree format for those who'd like it on their shelf.

Many thanks to Google for supporting this, and also to the Berlin Sommercamp for inviting us to include this sprint as part of their event.

By Adam Hyde, FLOSS Manuals
URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2009/09/ogg-theora-book-sprint.html

[G] New Interface Thursdays: A look back and a farewell

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Inside AdWords: New Interface Thursdays: A look back and a farewell

For nearly five months we've been running New Interface Thursdays here on the Inside AdWords blog. As the new AdWords interface moves to simply being AdWords, we're bringing this series to a close.

You can find all of the posts in the series under the New Interface label, but here are some of our favorites:
We look forward to writing more about AdWords every day of the week. Thanks for a great series.

Posted by Trevor Claiborne, Inside AdWords crew
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/09/new-interface-thursdays-look-back-and.html

[G] An update on Google Books and privacy

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Google Public Policy Blog: An update on Google Books and privacy

Posted by Jane Horvath, Global Privacy Counsel

We're excited about the wide range of support that the Google Books settlement has received. Some people have asked how Google's privacy practices apply to Books and the settlement, and, last month, we published an extensive FAQ.

Since last spring, we've had detailed discussions with a number of groups about our privacy practices within Google Books as well as some of our preliminary thoughts about what privacy protections we want to build into services authorized by our settlement agreement. As part of our outreach, we talked to Federal Trade Commission staff to hear their thoughts and answer their questions on privacy and Books. Rather than limit our conversations to the FTC and other specific organizations, though, we wanted to share the results of our exchange with the wider public by releasing a formal Privacy Policy for Google Books, and by highlighting a letter we recently sent to the FTC on Google Books and privacy.

While Google Books has always been covered by the general Privacy Policy for all of Google's services, we understand that the privacy of reading records is especially important to readers and libraries. We know that users want to understand how Google's privacy practices apply to Books today, and what will happen after the settlement. To provide all users with a clear understanding of our practices, and in response to helpful comments about needing to be clearer about the Books product from the FTC and others, we wanted to highlight key provisions of the main Google Privacy Policy in the context of the Google Books service, as well as to describe privacy practices specific to the Google Books service. We've also described some privacy practices for services created by our proposed settlement agreement, which is currently awaiting court approval.

As we noted in our letter to the FTC, because the settlement agreement has not yet been approved by the court, and the services authorized by the agreement have not been built or even designed yet, it's not possible to draft a final privacy policy that covers details of the settlement's anticipated services and features. Our privacy policies are usually based on detailed review of a final product -- and on weeks, months or years of careful work engineering the product itself to protect privacy. In this case, we've planned in advance for the protections that will later be built, and we've described some of those in the Google Books policy. We have also covered several privacy issues in our letter to the FTC on Google Books. You can read more of that exchange on the FTC's website here.

We take our privacy commitments to our users very seriously. It's important to note that like all of our privacy policies, this one is legally enforceable by the FTC, which has helped us clarify our practices and policies through comments and questions.
URL: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2009/09/update-on-google-books-and-privacy.html

[G] Imagery & resources for LA wildfires

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Google LatLong: Imagery & resources for LA wildfires


My wife and I were planning a trip to visit a friend in Pasadena for the upcoming Labor Day weekend. We've been hearing about the huge Station Fire burning in the nearby hills, and have been diligently searching for maps and news with the latest updates. For us, it's a mere matter of deciding whether we'll hop in the car tomorrow, but for many of you out there, the latest update on the fire's progress will help you keep tabs on loved ones or perhaps even your own property and safety. That's why a cross-team group at Google has launched a California Wildfires landing page, with:

  • a My Maps map from the Los Angeles Times tracking the latest position of the fire,
  • status updates from the US Forest Service,
  • YouTube videos of the fire,
  • a Google News gadget with latest news and
  • other updates from relevant sources

In addition, our partners at DigitalGlobe have made available some stunning satellite imagery tracking the fires, which you can get by downloading this kml to open within Google Earth.

We also created a time-series of lower resolution imagery from NASA's MODIS Terra satellite. To watch the progression of the fire simply download the KML and click the play button in the upper left hand corner of the Google Earth viewport. You may want to play it more than once to allow the imagery to load if you want a smoother transition during playback. You can also turn individual images on and off.


If you live in the area, please stay safe. Depending on how the winds shift and the continuing heroic work of the firefighters, Laura and I just might see on you on Colorado Blvd. this weekend.

Posted by Jesse Friedman, Associate Product Marketing Manager
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/09/imagery-resources-for-la-wildfires.html

[G] Google Domestic Trends: tracking economic sectors

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Official Google Blog: Google Domestic Trends: tracking economic sectors

Today, we're really pleased to launch Google Domestic Trends on Google Finance.

Google Domestic Trends tracks Google search traffic across specific sectors of the economy. The changes in the search volume of a given sector on google.com may provide useful economic insight. We've created 23 indexes that track the major economic sectors, such as retail, auto and unemployment.

For example, the Google Luxuries Index tracks queries like [jewelry], [rings], [diamond], [ring], [jewelers], [tiffany] and so forth. As you can see from the screenshot below, this index has seasonal spikes in December — however, in the last two years there has been a pronounced decrease as the recession made consumers wary of spending on luxury items.


The Auto-Buyers Index is also interesting, especially the dramatic 40% increase correlated with the launch of the Cash for Clunkers program in the U.S.:


These charts let you easily compare actual stocks and market indexes to Google Trends. And the data for these indexes are available for download — so you can use it with your own models.

Read more about this on the Google Finance Blog, and be sure to check out the Google Research Blog for info on Hal's research on using Google Trends data to predict economic activities.

Posted by Hal Varian, Chief Economist and Ayan Mandal, Product Manager Google Finance
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-domestic-trends-tracking.html

[G] Google Search Volumes and Economic Activity

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Google Finance Blog: Google Search Volumes and Economic Activity

Posted by Ayan Mandal, Product Manager and Eric Schrock, Software Engineer

We are really excited to launch Google Domestic Trends on Google Finance. This launch was inspired by Hal Varian, our chief economist's research on using Google Trends data to predict economic indicators.

Google Domestic Trends tracks Google search traffic across specific sectors of the economy. The changes in the search volume of a given sector on google.com may provide useful economic insight. We have created 23 indexes that track the major economic sectors, such as retail, auto and unemployment. Each index value is baselined at 1.0 on January 1, 2004 and is calculated and displayed on the Google Finance charts as a 7-day moving average. You can easily compare actual stocks and market indexes to these Google Trends on the charts.

For example, the Google Unemployment Index tracks queries like [unemployment], [social security], [unemployment benefits] and so forth. We see that as the recession took hold in the latter half of 2008, this index increased quite dramatically.


Predicting real-world statistics
We wondered if Google search volumes in a month can help better predict real world statistics well before they are officially tabulated and released.

Predicting retail sales
The US Census Bureau releases the Advance Monthly Retail Sales survey 1–2 weeks after the close of each month. These figures are based on a mail survey from a number of retail establishments and are thought to be useful leading indicators of macroeconomic performance. Learn more about the survey and the procedures followed in constructing these numbers.

The retail sales data is organized according to the NAICS retail trade categories. The data is reported in both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted form; for the analysis in this section, we use only the unadjusted data for the NAICS category 448 (clothing and clothing accessories stores).

Google Domestic Trends data
The Google Retail Index tracks query volumes on Google.com related to the retail trade category. Sample queries are [retail], [bags], [retail sales] and so forth. For this analysis we use the index value (30 day moving average) in the middle of the month. Thus, to predict retail sales of March, 2008 we use the index value on March 15th, 2008.

We observe that the Mean Absolute Error improves from 6.52% to 3.65% (an improvement of 44%)!


You can read more about Hal's research on using Google Trends data to predict economic activities on the Google Research Blog.

The data for these indexes are available for download — so you can use it with your own models. If you find interesting patterns and uses, feel free to share with us!
URL: http://googlefinanceblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-search-volumes-and-economic.html

[G] New flowchart shapes and multi-line text in drawings

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Official Google Docs Blog: New flowchart shapes and multi-line text in drawings

We've just released two new improvements to the drawings in Google Docs. First, we made it easier for you to build flowcharts in drawings by adding 20 new shapes for standard flowchart components. Second, we made it possible for you to have more control over drawing text layout by supporting explicit line breaks in text boxes and text within shapes.



Try out these new features by going to any document, spreadsheet, or presentation, and inserting a drawing.

Posted by: Evan Adams & Chris Nokleberg, Software Engineers
URL: http://googledocs.blogspot.com/2009/09/new-flowchart-shapes-and-multi-line.html

[G] Dublin and Cardiff now in 3D

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Google LatLong: Dublin and Cardiff now in 3D

[Cross-posted from the Official SketchUp Blog]
Today, we added Dublin, Ireland and Cardiff, Wales to our collection of photo-textured 3D cities in Google Earth. With the '3D Buildings' layer in Google Earth turned on, you can now fly to these cities and explore everything from famous landmarks like Cardiff Castle, St. David's Hall, Aras An Uachtarain, and Custom House, to the quiet alleys of these historic cities. Cardiff and Dublin are comprised of primarily autogenerated models, but also include some user-created models as well. Have a look at this video for a look at the newest 3D cities in Google Earth.



Whether you're new to these cities, a native and feeling homesick, or anything in between, 3D cities in Google Earth enable you to visit locations on Earth no matter where you are. Enjoy!

Posted by Bruce Polderman, Product Manager
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/09/dublin-and-cardiff-now-in-3d.html

[G] XMPP support on App Engine

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Google Talkabout: XMPP support on App Engine

Google App Engine is a product where developers can create and host web applications on Google infrastructure. Over on the App Engine team, we've noticed that there are lots of cool chat bots for things like translation or just for fun, but up until today deploying and maintaining a chat bot was a lot of hard work. So we're happy to announce the release of an API that makes it very simple to build Talk bots on top of App Engine. Check out the App Engine blog for more details.

Posted by: Michael Davidson
Software Enginer
URL: http://googletalk.blogspot.com/2009/09/xmpp-support-on-app-engine.html

[G] Featured Map Maker: Leonel

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Google LatLong: Featured Map Maker: Leonel

[This post kicks off an ongoing series highlighting members of the Map Maker community. - Ed.]

Name: Leonel John Foronda (Leonel)
Day job: Physician
Region mapped: Philippines

When asked about Google Map Maker, 32-year-old physician Leonel John Foronda compares Google’s online map creation platform to the Human Genome Project, a scientific milestone completed early in the 21st century. “This project started out with the aim of ‘mapping’ the entire human DNA,” says Leonel. He then explains that, similar to the Human Genome project, which took years to complete, Google’s vision of plotting an online, searchable map of huge portions of the world is a daunting task. But such a goal is achievable with local people like him who are interested and willing to help.

“Before online maps were available to the general public, the only detailed print maps I had were those of North America. It was frustrating that maps of my hometown of Laoag City, Philippines for instance, were non-existent as there was little information about our roads, sub-localities, and our smaller political units, or ‘barangays’ as we call them.”

Below, check out the timelapse video of how the map of Laoag City, Philippines has changed from just one year ago.


Leonel discovered Map Maker in October 2008. “I was already a Google Earth user at the time. Although it was somewhat cool to play around with Earth, it was also disheartening to see major roads in Manila that were coarse and did not really align with the satellite map,” recounts Leonel. Around that time, he was surprised to see a detailed map of Manila credited to "Google Map Maker" embedded on a website. He immediately went to mapmaker.google.com and started making his own edits.

His first edit was to draw a road called J.P. Rizal Street in his hometown of Laoag City, whose map had been completely blank except for the main highway. After only a few weeks, Leonel was hooked. Due to his unpredictable working hours at the hospital, he tries to squeeze in his map-making where time permits, provided he has his laptop as well as a decent Internet connection.

At present, Leonel has 17,000+ edits in Map Maker, making him the top contributor in the Philippines. After spending hours mapping every square meter of Laoag City, he meticulously edited the boundaries and features of nearby provinces such as Cagayan, Ilocos Sur, Apayao, and other regions of the Philippines.

“Since it’s all voluntary, my contributions are published on Google Maps and Map Maker for free. Although we receive no compensation, I personally would like to think of it as my own little way of helping Google’s mission to map the world.” However, he admits that there are perks to being a "Google Map Maker Power User".

In April 2009, Leonel, with fellow map makers civil engineer Dante Varias and university student Wayne Dell Manuel, represented the Philippines in an international Google Map Maker User Conference in Bangalore, India. The three joined delegates from around the world to learn from each other’s experiences and hear from Googlers about updates to the product. Afterwards, the three shared their experiences from the event with more than 20 Map Maker users in the Philippines at a mapping party.

(l-r) Map Maker Power Users Leonel (17,000+ edits), Dante (14,000+ edits) and Wayne (10,000+ edits) speak at mapping party in Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. restaurant in the Philippines

“Personally, I feel honored that I am making something that could help people, businesses, and even tourism boards by placing them on the map. Anyone who has knowledge of a particular place, such as his or her own hometown, is encouraged to contribute to Map Maker. Becoming a mapper in this platform does not need high-level technical skills as there are experienced people who are ready to guide and moderate your edits,” says Leonel.

With more and more people becoming map makers, he hopes that like the success of the Human Genome Project at mapping human DNA, the online map of the physical world will someday be complete.

Posted by Julie Zhou, Associate Product Marketing Manager
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2009/09/featured-map-maker-leonel.html

[G] Changes to the Login Screen

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Google Affiliate Network: Changes to the Login Screen

Yesterday we made a slight change to the login page that has been causing confusion for some of our users. When you visit the login page for Google Affiliate Network you are now prompted to sign in with your Google Account instead of your legacy user account. If you would like to use your legacy username and password there is a link below the login form that will allow you to do so.

Please note that in the next couple months we will be turning off support for legacy logins and you will be required to set up a Google Account in order to access your Google Affiliate Network account. If you would like to take care of that today,
please follow these instructions. If you run into issues during the process, we have a number of help articles that answer the most common issues we've seen users face.
URL: http://googleaffiliatenetwork-blog.blogspot.com/2009/09/changes-to-login-screen.html

[G] New Features in Forms

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Official Google Docs Blog: New Features in Forms

Today, we added a few new features to Google forms:

Grid question type

You can now quickly gather responses for a group of similar questions in a new, compact grid format. The new grid question type allows you to label a few columns and create as many rows as you like.


Each row result appears in its own spreadsheet column, with its own summary chart, which brings us to...

Improved results summary charts

We've polished up our results summary charts, with clearer formatting of statistics and better formatting of charts for each question type.


Bi-directional language support

The form editor now supports right-to-left (RTL) text input. When you enter RTL text in the form editor, it will automatically switch the directionality of the form editor and rendered forms (similar to Gmail and other Google Apps). This means your text and questions will flip directionality, making it easier for RTL users to create and use forms.


Sign-in to view form

If you are a Google Apps customer, there are now two options to help you use forms within your organization. In addition to the being able to automatically collect respondent's usernames, we now offer the ability to require sign-in to view a form. This provides an additional layer of security for sensitive forms.

Pre-populate a form with parameters

For developers who would like to integrate forms with their own applications, we now provide an easy way to pre-populate a form with data. Simply append an entry string for each response field you'd like to pre-populate. As an example, this URL...
http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=12345&entry_0=Barack&entry_1=Obama&entry_2=1600+Pennsylvania+Ave&entry_3=pistachios|spinach|broccoli&entry_4=8/4/1967
... pre-populates the form below....


Posted by: Eric Bogs, User Interface Software Engineer
URL: http://googledocs.blogspot.com/2009/09/new-features-in-forms.html

[G] Get on the (Google) Map!

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Inside AdWords: Get on the (Google) Map!

As an AdWords advertiser, you're likely focused on making sure your paid advertising campaigns are performing well and delivering positive results - but have you also thought about taking advantage of the free ways you can promote your physical business location on Google and Google Maps as well? In this post, we'll show you how to ensure your business locations can be found on Google, and then we'll show you how to go a step further by promoting your locations with AdWords location extensions.

Free promotion
If your business already appears as a search result on Google.com and Google Maps, you can use Local Business Center to claim your listing and add additional information, such as photos, videos, business hours and more. It's completely free. If your business doesn't currently show at all, you can create a new listing, which is also free. Local Business Center recently launched a dashboard that lets you see how many users saw your listing, how many clicked on various links in your listing, and which search queries caused your listing to appear. To get you started with Local Business Center, we've put together some helpful tips on the kind of information you can and should include in your listing.

Drive even more sales with paid promotion
In addition to ensuring your organic listings are up-to-date, you can use AdWords ads for additional promotion. Both location-targeted text ads and location extensions can appear on Google Search and Google Maps result pages. When you create location extensions, you'll be able to show your business addresses within your text ads. If you're a primary business owner, you can link your Local Business Center account with AdWords to ensure the most up-to-date information about your business is appearing within your ad. When you use extensions, you'll also be able to upload a custom icon that will appear when your ads show on Google Maps. This allows you to take a more active role in ensuring your business locations stand out when users look for businesses like yours in your area.

So what are you waiting for? Take the first step and get yourself on the (Google) map by claiming or listing your business in Local Business Center.

Posted by Emel Mutlu, Inside AdWords crew
URL: http://adwords.blogspot.com/2009/09/get-on-google-map.html

[G] Eclipse Day at the Googleplex 2009

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Google Open Source Blog: Eclipse Day at the Googleplex 2009


After months of anticipation, we finally put on Eclipse Day at the Googleplex, 2009. This event was hosted by the Google Open Source Programs Office, and really, they did a great job. Seriously big thanks to Chris DiBona, Shawn Pearce, Leslie Hawthorn, Cat Allman and Ellen Ko, who put together a fantastic program. I must also thank Ian Skerrett and Lynn Gayowski of the Eclipse Foundation for all the work they did putting together such a solid program. Ian actually sat right next to me while we were listening to one of the final talks "Google Plugin for Eclipse: Not Just for Newbies Anymore" given by my Google colleague, Miguel Méndez. Miguel demonstrated how the Google Plugin for Eclipse deals with launch configurations. I was drooling.

We had a full house of guests that came to hear about Eclipse: modeling, DSLs, OSGi, Android, and Eclipse in enterprise environments: Google, eBay and NASA. In fact, my teammate, Terry Parker, and I gave the keynote presentation, titled "Eclipse in the Enterprise: Lessons from Google" which was a glimpse into what it takes to support all the people at Google who build applications with Eclipse.

Thanks to everyone who came. It was a pleasure meeting all of you.

You can check out the talk abstracts and slides, or check out the videos below. Happy hacking!

By Robert Konigsberg, Software Engineering Team

















URL: http://google-opensource.blogspot.com/2009/09/eclipse-day-at-googleplex-2009.html

[G] Google Friend Connect and Elgg

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Social Web Blog: Google Friend Connect and Elgg

This guest post was written by Arunoda Susiripala, who is an undergraduate student at the University of Kelaniya in Sri Lanka. He stepped into web development 2 years ago and developed the JConnect Integration Engine as part of the Google Summer of Code 2009. In his spare time, he enjoys playing rugby and watching comedies. - Ed.

Google Friend Connect provides a novel way to integrate social features onto any web page and is great for interacting with people from around the web. One of my favorite features is its ability to allow people to log in to websites with existing accounts.

That's why I decided to look into integrating Google Friend Connect with Elgg. Elgg is the best open source social networking platform available, but it's users have difficulty with attracting people to their Elgg sites/communities and getting them to register. So they often also try to provide people with some other means to login, whether it was OpenID, Facebook, or something else.

Once I learned about Friend Connect, I knew it could do more than the other options because it allowed people to log in to sites with accounts from many different services, such as Google, Yahoo, AOL, and OpenID. So I started to develop a plugin to integrate the backend of Elgg with Friend Connect so that people could log in with these accounts. It worked really well and I was able to get it to pass the user's name and image from Friend Connect to Elgg. I also integrated the Friend Connect social bar with the plugin so users can easily enable or disable it.

The integration with Friend Connect was very easy compared to the integration of other services and only required a minimal amount of work. The three steps I took to integrate Elgg with Friend Connect were:
  1. Use the JavaScript API to let people log in with Friend Connect
  2. Use the cookie stored by Friend Connect to get information using the REST API
  3. Then do the Elgg logic with the obtained information
This Elgg plugin is in it's alpha state and needs further improvement. I also plan to add more features and more gadgets. So go try it out on the demo site and let me know what you think. I hope this plugin will help to make the web more social.

Posted by Arunoda Susiripala, Web Developer
URL: http://googlesocialweb.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-friend-connect-and-elgg.html

[G] Google Earth Pro and Google Maps API Premier increase imagery coverage

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Google Earth Pro and Google Maps API Premier increase imagery coverage

This month, Google Earth Pro and Google Maps API Premier customers will see new aerial and satellite imagery updates across the world and through time.

Let's say you want to do Real Estate research in Portage, Michigan (image below) and you have Google Earth Pro 5.0 installed. You can use the historical imagery feature to research imagery dating back to the 1950's. For example, Engineering firms doing land surveys near McMurdo Station now have imagery updates on this point in Antarctica. This allows them to complete better land assessments.

Below is a list of all the imagery updates to Google Earth Pro and Google Maps API. To find out where the new aerial and satellite imagery might help your spatial business, here is a KML outlining all the areas receiving new data.


Americas
United States: Alburqurque, Beaumont (Texas), part of the Mississippi River, Jefferson County (FL), Cass County (MO), Hamilton County (IA), Western Michigan, Portage (MI), Clinton County (MI), Eaton County (MI), Ingham County (MI), Greenville (SC), Baltimore (MD), Charles County (MD), Calvert County (MD), Dorchester County (MD), Carroll County (MD), Frederick County (MD).

Canada: Surrey (BC)

Peru: Talara

Argentina: Salta, Santiago del Estero, Villa Mercedes, Bahia Blanca

Brazil: Santa Maria, Joinville, Santos, Montes Claros, Petrolina, Araguaina, Parnaiba, Belem

Europe, Middle East, & Africa
France: Manche, Mayenne, Maine-et-Loire, Marne, Haute-Marne, Meurthe-er-Mosselle, Lozere, Herault, Pau

Lithuania: Vilnius

Poland: Krakow, Lodz, Auschwitz

Slovakia: Bratlsavia

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Sarajevo

Serbia: Belgrade

Moldova: Chisinau

Russia: Perm, Chita, Avacha

Libya: Benghazi

Syria: Aleppo

Iran: Mashad

Turkey: Antalya

Pakistan: Lahore

Guinea-Bissau: Bissau

Guinea: Conakry

Liberia: Monrovia

Kenya: Mombasa

Swaziland: Mbabane

Asia & Oceania
China: Nanchang, Yumen, Altay, Taizhou, Huaian, Chuzhou, Xingtai, Shijiazhuang, Leting, Baotou

New Zealand: Christchurch, Wellington, Bay of Plenty, Waipa

Antarctica: McMurdo Station

New 2.5m base imagery for: Mexico, Argentina, and India

Posted by Natasha Wyatt, Google Earth and Maps Enterprise team
URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-earth-pro-and-google-maps-api.html

[G] More ninja tips in more languages

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Official Gmail Blog: More ninja tips in more languages

Posted by Zach Yeskel, Product Marketing Manager

When we published the Gmail tips guide in July, we promised it would help you become a Gmail ninja. Now, if you want to become a Gmail ниндзя or 忍者, you can do that too: these tips are now available in Spanish, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, Russian, and UK English.

We've also added a handful of new tips to the English site, culled from suggestions you submitted. Some of the new tricks to help manage your email efficiently include sending and receiving mail from multiple addresses, adding formatting to chat messages, and selecting multiple messages at once using shift-select. Thanks to everyone who submitted ideas, and please keep them coming.
URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/more-ninja-tips-in-more-languages.html

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

[G] New Policies for Marketplaces & Aggregators on Google Product Search

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Official Google Base Blog: New Policies for Marketplaces & Aggregators on Google Product Search

Today we're happy to introduce multi-client accounts as a solution to help aggregators and marketplaces manage feeds for multiple sellers under a single account. By allowing marketplaces better control over their sellers' product data, shoppers get more accurate and relevant information when they search for things to buy on Product Search, and individual sellers don't need to submit their own feeds. The multi-client accounts allow aggregators and marketplaces to consolidate and manage data feeds and reporting for sub-accounts, submit changes more rapidly, and get more accurate Google Checkout badging at the seller level. Marketplaces and aggregators will be required to use multi-client accounts to submit and manage their sellers' feeds starting on December 1st, 2009.

As a result of these changes, individual sellers on marketplaces no longer need to submit a feed to Google Product Search. To avoid duplicate listings we will be notifying individual sellers and retiring their accounts. Please see the full Marketplace and Aggregator policies for more information.

Posted by Paul Lee, Business Product Manager, Google Product Search

URL: http://googlebase.blogspot.com/2009/09/new-policies-for-marketplaces.html