Friday, November 6, 2009

[G] Google Apps highlights 11/6/2009

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Official Google Blog: Google Apps highlights 11/6/2009

This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label "Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

Individuals, businesses and schools are switching to Google Apps to communicate more efficiently from anywhere, collaborate without the hassle of attachments, save money, and get continuous innovation. Because you use Google Apps in your browser, improvements like new features in Google forms show up automatically. Starting today, we'll post a recap every couple of weeks highlighting significant improvements we've made in Google Apps, and major milestones in this area, similar to our weekly series on Search. We hope this helps you experience what's new for yourself!

More interface consistency across Google Docs
We heard your feedback about design inconsistencies in the user interfaces for documents, spreadsheets and presentations, and we agree; having a more consistent user interface is a better experience. Last week we rolled out a batch of changes making the links, title area, menus, menu terminology and toolbar more uniform. We think this will make it easier to find commonly used functions, speed up your experience with Google Docs and make you more productive in these browser-based applications.

Customizable options for Gmail offline
Gmail offline lets you work with your email from the browser even when you don't have an internet connection, but until now, you couldn't specify how much old mail you wanted to cache for offline access. On Wednesday we launched new options for Gmail offline, and now you can configure how much of your old email is available when you don't have a connection. Once you enable Offline Gmail from the Labs tab in Settings, go to the Offline settings tab to customize which labels are synchronized, how far back messages are included, and which attachments you'll be able to access offline in your browser.

Google Docs bulk export
We firmly believe it should be easy to move files saved on your computer into the cloud, and that you should be able to move your data out of Google Apps whenever you want. After all, it's your data, and you should be able to do what you want with it. In the spirit of Data Liberation, last week we made it even easier for you to pull your documents, spreadsheets, forms, presentations and PDFs out of Google Docs with "Convert, Zip and Download". Just select the files in Google Docs that you want to save, go to 'More Actions' > 'Export', then choose your preferred output file formats. Your items will be saved to your computer in a tidy zip file.

Visual indicators for edited and all-new items in Google Docs
The shared items in your Google Docs account evolve as the people you collaborate with make edits and share new items with you. This is fundamentally different from how it works with files saved on your computer. Last week we started showing visual indicators in Google Docs to make it easier to spot what's changed and what's been newly shared with you. The names of files that have been edited since you lasted opened them are in bold, and shared files that you haven't opened yet have a red 'New!' tag.

Administrator controls for Chat
Companies and schools using Google Apps sometimes want to limit how their users communicate with Google Talk and Gmail Chat. For example, some K12 schools don't want outsiders instant messaging with their students. To meet this need, we now let IT administrators select if their users should only be able to chat with each other, and not with external users. This new option is found in the Chat service settings area of the Premier and Education Edition control panels.

Over two million businesses have gone Google
Companies around the world are moving to the cloud with Google Apps, and we just crossed the two million customers milestone. To hear how Google Apps is bringing faster innovation to employees, eliminating major hassles for IT managers and saving companies big bucks, read some of their quotes or visit out our YouTube customer channel.

We hope these updates help you get even more from Google Apps. For details and the latest news in this area, check out the Google Apps Blog.

Posted by Bradley Horowitz, VP of Product Management and Dave Girouard, President of Google Enterprise

[G] Blogger in Your Own Words

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Blogger Buzz: Blogger in Your Own Words

Last week we asked you for a few words to describe both the Blogger of the present and the Blogger you'd like to see in the future. You responded overwhelmingly, and now as promised we'd like to share the unedited results with you:

Blogger Today
(click for large version)

Blogger in the Future
(click for large version)

Thanks to everyone who pitched in their two cents; we're very excited to take your words and start writing the next chapter of Blogger.

(And of course thanks to Wordle for the awesome word clouds!)

[G] This week in search 11/6/09

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Official Google Blog: This week in search 11/6/09

This week we brought out some new search tools for the phone and for the web. We also enhanced our universal search with a better interface for product results.

Multiple pictures of products in Universal Search
We've added multiple images to product results in Universal Search. On broader queries, this helps you get a sense of the range of products available to you for the query. Here's what it looks like:

Example searches: digital cameras, pin nailer, glider, bouncy house, outdoor dining set

Search Options panel now has page previews and is live in more languages
We have added a new tool to the Search Options panel called page previews, currently available in English, Japanese and Korean. Page previews allow you to see additional text as well as an image preview of the page. This is a new way to summarize web pages that show up in the search results list. In the interest of keeping the Search Options panel interface simple, we've combined page previews with the earlier tool for longer snippets — both serve a very similar purpose and, we feel, work well together. Here you can see a screenshot of the new feature at work:

The Search Options panel is also now available in 11 new languages: Arabic, Traditional Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Thai and Turkish.

Google search by voice for Nokia S60 phones in English and Mandarin Chinese
On Monday we announced that Google search by voice is available for Nokia S60 phones in English and Mandarin Chinese. The new version of Google Mobile App places a shortcut to Google search on your Nokia phone's home screen, allowing you to search using your voice or by typing. You can search for anything — from "movie times" to "fish 'n chips" to "masala dosa." And Google Mobile App shows search results in the application, so you don't have to wait for a web browser to launch to get an answer. This feature is available in both English and Mandarin Chinese.

Sesame Street doodle
In honor of Sesame Street's 40th anniversary on November 10th, the Google homepage has had a daily sequence of doodles created in partnership with Sesame Street around the favorite characters on the show — starting, of course, with Big Bird.

Hope you enjoyed this week's new features. Stay tuned for next week!

Posted by Ben Gomes, Distinguished Engineer

[G] Android 2.0 introduces improvements for mobile video

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YouTube Blog: Android 2.0 introduces improvements for mobile video

Earlier this year, we revealed the rapid growth in mobile video uploads to YouTube, largely spurred by the launch of powerful devices (like the iPhone 3GS and increasing Android adoption).

Uploading and sharing mobile videos on YouTube are getting kicked up another notch with today's launch of the Verizon Droid by Motorola. The Droid is the first device to run the latest version of Android (version 2.0) and introduces some remarkable improvements:
  • DVD quality recording and easier sharing: It is now possible to shoot DVD-quality videos and upload them to YouTube with a single flick of a finger. Droid is the first Android powered phone with DVD-quality recording, and it offers the ability to add effects like sepia, solarization and red tint to your videos. In addition, the new YouTube widget gives single-tap access to recording and sharing capabilities right from the home screen, making it even easier to broadcast those special moments or sights, or even silly ones like this video exploring six ways to have a fruitful finish to a lunch meeting:

  • It's more like the YouTube you're used to: The controls on the new YouTube application on Android 2.0 now have a look and feel that's much more like the YouTube desktop experience. We've also added the ability to manage personal subscriptions in 'My Account,' and so now, with the ability to search, share, rate, comment and of course view videos, the on-the-go YouTube experience is closer to the one you're used to on your computer.
  • High quality playback and brilliant screen: The Droid by Motorola has a brilliant 3.7 inch screen with noticeably high resolution and crisp colors: 854x480 pixels with 16M colors. The YouTube App on Android 2.0 plays videos in HQ automatically when you are on wifi, bringing the best possible YouTube watching experience to a mobile device. And if you are out of wifi range, you can still watch videos in HQ by selecting "Menu -> More -> Watch in high quality."
Happy watching, recording and sharing -- if you like, include links to your best Android-filmed videos below. We'd love to see the creativity that springs forth from this technology.

Jonathan Matus, Android Lead Product Marketing Manager, recently watched "Stealth Bomber."


[G] New Free Google Analytics API Dashboard Application

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Google Analytics Blog: New Free Google Analytics API Dashboard Application

If you manage many Google Analytics profiles, it can be difficult to stay on top of all your top line metrics across accounts -until now. Trakkboard is a free, easy to use desktop application that allows analysts to create dashboards that pull data across different Google Analytics logins and different Google Analytics profiles to display top level metrics all within the same view.

This application was built using the Google Analytics API by our friends in Germany, Trakken GmbH and is available in English, German and Spanish. Once downloaded, you can add multiple Google Accounts, select Google Analytics Accounts and profiles, then choose from any of the pre-canned report widgets. The report widget will then appear on the dashboard. This process can be repeated with other Google Analytics Accounts, Profiles, and Widgets - and your customized dashboard is ready to use.

What's really nice is each report widget can be configured to automatically fetch new data from the API at a regular interval, for example, every hour. This dramatically reduces the time it takes to see top level metrics across all your accounts.

Some of the other available features include:

  • 15 different report widgets available
  • Top/flop keywords widget (movers & shakers)
  • Drag-drop and resize report widgets
  • Update all widgets at the same time
  • Update individual widgets at set intervals
  • Use tabs for more dashboards
  • Resize report widgets
  • Notes widgets for comments
  • Add up to two Google Account Email addresses
  • FAQ Center available in English, Spanish, German

We continue to be impressed by the new solutions developers are bringing to market by leveraging the Google Analytics Platform. If you have developed a useful new tool or integration on top of Google Analytics, drop us an email at If it's innovative and useful we'll highlight it to our readers on this blog.

Posted by Nick Mihailovski, Google Analytics API Team

[G] NYC subway maps in your pocket with Google Maps for mobile

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Official Google Mobile Blog: NYC subway maps in your pocket with Google Maps for mobile

Hey New Yorkers looking for somewhere to celebrate the Yankees' 27th World Series title? It's now easier than ever to carry a NYC subway map in your pocket.

A few weeks ago we announced the Layers feature on Google Maps for BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and Symbian S60. Today we added a layer that overlays NYC subway routes on a map. We hope this will help you quickly navigate the New York City subway system. To see this new layer while viewing a map of New York City, just click the Layers menu and then turn on the Transit Lines layer.

Of course, you can also get step-by-step public transit directions by using the "Get Directions" menu, and then selecting the public transit icon. You can learn more about updates to Google Transit in the United States and Europe on the Google LatLong Blog.

To download the latest version of Google Maps for mobile with Layers, visit from your smartphone.

Posted by Ryan Pollock, Product Marketing Manager

[G] NYC subway system on Google Maps

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Google LatLong: NYC subway system on Google Maps

My wife and I moved out to New York last week, and we sure put Google Maps to use in our housing hunt. With Real Estate listings to help find a place, Street View to scope out the neighborhood, directions to help us find our broker, and local search to find nearby amenities, just about the only thing that we needed another source for was to see where the extensive subway lines ran. Until now!

We're happy to announce that you can now see New York's subway lines drawn out directly on Google Maps as part of the transit layer. To turn it on, just point Google Maps to somewhere in New York, click on the "More..." button at top-right, and select "Transit":

The colorful lines aren't just pretty to look at, they're also interactive. When you click on any station name, a bubble pops up with the names of the line that service the station, and all the other lines on the screen fade out.

This new feature compliments the New York transit directions we launched last September, for all services offered by the MTA, including bus, ferry, commuter rail, and of course the subway. We cover much more than the Big Apple, so look for the transit layer in other cities like Paris and Tokyo, and use transit directions with over 436 agencies around the world.

Having the MTA in the transit layer will certainly help me get my way around my new hometown, as I start to familiarize myself with the nation's largest public transit system. We're happy to say that we found a great place in Brooklyn — and based on the leafy green trees and walk-up brownstones in Street View, some friends back in California are convinced we're moving to Sesame Street!

Posted by Jesse Friedman, Associate Product Marketing Manager

[G] Even more music for you to find with Google search

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Official Google Blog: Even more music for you to find with Google search

Last week, we launched a new music search feature, which helps you search and discover millions of songs with a simple Google search. When you search for an artist, song, album or even a few lyrics, you'll find links to our partner sites — putting you just one click away from listening to and purchasing the music you're looking for.

To celebrate our launch, MySpace and Lala are hosting exclusive, never-before-heard tracks from a variety of artists — and we're helping people to find those tracks through a simple Google search. So if you're a Lady Gaga fan looking for a new remix, in love with the Arctic Monkeys and looking for something extra or hunting for a new acoustic track from YouTube sensation Zee Avi, just search for it. You'll find links to these tracks right in your regular search results. And when you click the links, you'll be able to hear the songs directly from MySpace and Lala.

We know how much you care about music, and we're excited to partner with Lala and MySpace to help you discover more music from artists you love, using Google. To see the full list of tracks and read more, check out the blogposts on Lala and MySpace. We hope you enjoy the music.

Posted by R.J. Pittman, Director, Product Management

Thursday, November 5, 2009

[G] Historical Imagery Updates for Berlin

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Google LatLong: Historical Imagery Updates for Berlin

With Historical Imagery in Google Earth, we've made it possible to use Google Earth imagery to see how the world has changed over time. We've been adding imagery since the feature launched in February, and today we announced on our Google Germany Blog that we've added historical images of Berlin from 1945 and 1953. To view these new images, you'll need Google Earth 5.0. Historical imagery can be accessed by clicking on the clock icon in the top menu bar. Here's a sample of what you'll find as you explore the imagery:

Berlin 1945

Berlin 1953

Berlin 2009

Posted by Stefanie Schneider, Google Germany

[G] The new Google Dashboard -- A view into your data

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Data Liberation: The new Google Dashboard -- A view into your data

The Data Liberation Front applauds the new Google Dashboard launched today. Transparency and control over your data is critical in the world of cloud computing. This new dashboard provides a world of information about your data in a very simple way. Take a moment today to try it out. You may just discover a few things you never knew about how you use Google.

To learn more about the Google Dashboard, see the post on Google's Official Blog.

Posted by JJ Lueck, Data Liberation Front


[G] A new face to Google News Sitemaps

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Google News Blog: A new face to Google News Sitemaps

Posted by Andy Golding, Google News Software Engineer

Given the feedback we get from publishers, we've redesigned our interface to make Google News Sitemaps more flexible and easier to submit. [As a reminder, a Google News Sitemap is a file created by publishers which gives you even more control over the content you submit to Google News].

We're currently in the midst of an exciting transition period and need your help to avoid interruption in crawling your content.

To facilitate this transition, we'll have a six-month grandfather period during which you can continue to use the old format for any existing Sitemap that was originally submitted using the old format. Any new Sitemap submission must follow the new format. Please take a few minutes to make the shift. If no change is made by the end of the grandfather period, you'll no longer receive the benefits of having your articles crawled via a Google News Sitemap.

If your site is already included in Google News and you haven't submitted a Google News Sitemap yet, we encourage you to do so in order to manage your news content. Please visit our updated instructions for details on how to start using the new format.

Main changes in this release:
  • Publication Label Pulldown Menu: The publication label pulldown menu no longer exists in Webmaster Tools. Instead, you should now attach the equivalent information to each individual article in your Sitemap, as described below.

    Note: For previously-submitted Sitemaps in the old format, we will "remember" the last publication label you selected from the pulldown menu and use that; however, please update to the new format as soon as you can.

  • New tags: In place of the publication menu, there are now three tags that you can attach to each article in your Sitemap giving the equivalent information:

    • <publication>: Specifies the name and language of the publication that the article occurs in. Required.

    • <genres>: Specifies the nature of the article as a comma-separated list chosen from: PressRelease, Satire, Blog, OpEd, Opinion, and UserGenerated. Required whenever any of these properties applies to the article.

    • <access>: Specifies the accessibility of the article. Choices: Subscription or Registration. Required whenever either of the choices applies.

    • Please visit this help article for a complete description of the new News Sitemap format.

  • Title tags: Article titles can be added using the <title> tag to help us identify the right title for your articles.

  • More options to resubmit your sitemap: In addition to re-submitting your Google News Sitemap through your Webmaster Tools account, you can now resubmit it two other ways: robots.txt or ping. Note: The first time you submit your Sitemap, always use Webmaster Tools.

Check out this page for more details on the transition process, and please let us know if you have questions about your Google News Sitemap. Publishers can also visit the Sitemaps section of our User Help Forum, a place to ask questions, and interact with other users and Google guides.

[G] AdWords Conversion Tracking is now even easier

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Inside AdWords: AdWords Conversion Tracking is now even easier

If you use AdWords Conversion Tracking, you may have noticed that the interface for this tool has been redesigned so that it's easier to implement, monitor, and troubleshoot.

There are now 3 easy-to-use tabs - Conversions, Webpages, and Code - that help you manage your conversion data. Let's take a closer look at each of them:

Conversions: This is where you see information about the conversion actions you're tracking.
  • The "Tracking Status" column lets you know whether a conversion action is tracking properly. It shows you if a conversion has ever been recorded, if it has recently stopped recording, or if it's working just fine.
  • The "Value" column shows the accumulated value of the conversions you've received based on the value you've assigned to each action.
  • The "New Conversion" button allows you to easily create new conversion actions or import them from a linked Google Analytics account. (Note: In order to import Google Analytics goals, you'll first need to follow a few steps.)

Webpages: Here, you'll see which pages on your site are getting conversions. You can also see a breakdown of the number of conversions per page on your site. This is useful for troubleshooting, as you can make sure conversions are coming from the pages you expect and identify pages that are not reporting conversion activity.

Code: This is where you get the tracking code for each conversion action. You can also change the value of an action, which helps you calculate ROI.

If you're not currently using AdWords Conversion Tracking, now is a great time to start. Conversion Tracking gives you an accurate way to measure the success of your AdWords campaigns. You can learn more about the benefits and how to implement it here.

We hope you enjoy the new interface and happy optimizing!

Posted by Emily Williams, Inside AdWords crew

[G] Get Google Mobile App at Best Buy stores

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Official Google Mobile Blog: Get Google Mobile App at Best Buy stores

If you're a regular reader of the Google Mobile Blog, then you've probably installed or accessed our mobile applications on your phone at one point or another. You may have even shown our applications to your friends and explained how to get them. Or perhaps you've been the recipient of some helpful mobile tips from a friend of yours. In any case, you may have noticed that one of the best ways to discover and get new applications for your phone is through a face-to-face dialog with another person.

We're happy to announce today that we've partnered with Best Buy Mobile to make Google Mobile App available through Best Buy stores in the US. Google Mobile App lets you search by voice and with My Location, and gives you quick access to Google Search, Maps, Gmail, and more. Of course, Google Mobile App is free whether you get it yourself from or from Best Buy Mobile. But the difference is that you now have the option to get some help installing the app or to see a live demo of what the application can do. Just go to the mobile department at your nearest Best Buy store and talk to an associate. If you have a BlackBerry, Windows Phone, or S60 phone, they can help install Google Mobile App on your phone. And if you're in the market to buy a new phone, they will help you install the application as part of their Walk Out Working program.

Find out more about this opportunity and to see a map of the nearest Best Buy to you. As always, feel free to leave us comments below or in our forum.

Posted by Andy Mathis and Lawrence Chang, Strategic Partnerships and Product Marketing, Google Mobile team

[G] List of all magazines now available in Google Books

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Inside Google Books: List of all magazines now available in Google Books

Posted by Jeffrey Peng, Software Engineer, Google Books

I'm a software engineer on Google Books. One of my main projects is adding magazine content and features to the site. In September we were excited to announce the availability of over 1,860 issues of the iconic LIFE magazine on Google Books. One of the feature requests that I got from friends and family was to add a way to browse all the magazines available. Someone even created a Facebook group called Get Google Magazine Search to provide a list of indexed titles. The group has 45 members and growing, so before it reached millions of members and there were protests in front of my house, I decided that I better act fast. I'm happy to announce that last week I coded up a page on Google Books that lets you browse the available magazine titles. You can view the page here.

I can't promise that I can respond to every Internet protest with a feature addition, but you're always invited to send us feedback here. Rest assured that we're working hard to make the magazine browse, search, and reading experience better each month. Happy reading!

[G] A new AdSense interface: now in beta

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Inside AdSense: A new AdSense interface: now in beta

Today, at the Content Revenue Strategies conference in New York City, we announced that a small group of publishers will begin testing a new AdSense interface in limited beta.  Inspired by the feedback we've heard directly from you, the new interface includes features designed around your top three requests:  

Provide insights to help you make more informed decisions about your sites.

The new AdSense interface includes more detailed performance reports and enables you to view daily stats in graphical formats. It also will provide you with additional metrics such as the amount you've earned from various ad, targeting and bid types. Here's a glimpse at what the new reports currently look like in our beta: 

Offer you more control over the ads that appear on your sites.

We're also continuing to make improvements to the Ad Review Center. Upcoming enhancements will give you more options to manage the ads that appear on your site, as well as a cleaner interface that makes it easier to find and review them within the Ad Review Center.

Help you manage your account more efficiently.

We've streamlined the AdSense interface to simplify common tasks, such as making a change to several ad units simultaneously. Additionally, to help you get the most out of AdSense, we've added more relevant help on every page, a message inbox for tips from our team, and alerts with important account related notices. 

In order to collect feedback on these enhancements from publishers in multiple countries, we're rolling out the beta test of the new interface today in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Japanese.  Although we aren't able to extend invitations to additional publishers yet, we're planning to roll this test out to thousands of publishers over the coming weeks. We'll be sending email notifications to the beta test participants to let them know.

Thanks again for all of your feedback so far, and we'll be sure to let you know when we're able to offer the new interface more widely. 

Posted by Jonathan Bellack, Group Product Manager, and Tim Evans, Product Manager

[G] Transparency, choice and control - now complete with a Dashboard!

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Google Public Policy Blog: Transparency, choice and control - now complete with a Dashboard!

Posted by Alma Whitten, Software Engineer, Yariv Adan, Product Manager, and Marissa Mayer, VP of Search Products and User Experience

(Cross-posted from the Official Google Blog.)

Today, we are excited to announce the launch of Google Dashboard. Have you ever wondered what data is stored with your Google Account? The Google Dashboard offers a simple view into the data associated with your account — easily and concisely in one location.

Over the past 11 years, Google has focused on building innovative products for our users. Today, with hundreds of millions of people using those products around the world, we are very aware of the trust that you have placed in us, and our responsibility to protect your privacy and data. In the past, we've taken numerous steps in this area, investing in educating our users with our Privacy Center, making it easier to move data in and out of Google with our Data Liberation Front, and allowing you to control the ads you see with interest-based advertising. Transparency, choice and control have become a key part of Google's philosophy, and today, we're happy to announce that we're doing even more.

In an effort to provide you with greater transparency and control over their own data, we've built the Google Dashboard. Designed to be simple and useful, the Dashboard summarizes data for each product that you use (when signed in to your account) and provides you direct links to control your personal settings. Today, the Dashboard covers more than 20 products and services, including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Web History, Orkut, YouTube, Picasa, Talk, Reader, Alerts, Latitude and many more. The scale and level of detail of the Dashboard is unprecedented, and we're delighted to be the first Internet company to offer this — and we hope it will become the standard. Watch this quick video to learn more and then try it out for yourself at


[G] Funny or Die Joins YouTube

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YouTube Blog: Funny or Die Joins YouTube

We're happy to welcome a comedy legend to YouTube today, as Will Ferrell's comedy think-tank Funny or Die joins YouTube as a partner. YouTube viewers around the world will now have access to a collection of Funny or Die classics, plus a steady stream of new videos being uploaded each week.

As comedy fans know, Funny or Die works with some of Hollywood's top comedic talent to create a trademark blend of humor, celebrity and web originals. Jack Black, Natalie Portman and Lindsay Lohan are just a few of the famous names you can catch in hilarious Funny or Die sketches, and you never know who will show up next.

To celebrate this new partnership, Will Ferrell has selected his favorite Funny or Die clips for the spotlight on today's YouTube homepage. Here's a message from the man himself, and his Funny or Die co-creator Adam McKay :

Thanks, Will and Adam! So if you want to keep up with all things funny, "subscribe or die" to Funny or Die's new YouTube channel.

George Strompolos, Strategic Partnerships, recently watched "BAT FIGHT with Will Ferrell."


[G] Transparency, choice and control — now complete with a Dashboard!

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Official Google Blog: Transparency, choice and control — now complete with a Dashboard!

Today, we are excited to announce the launch of Google Dashboard. Have you ever wondered what data is stored with your Google Account? The Google Dashboard offers a simple view into the data associated with your account — easily and concisely in one location.

Over the past 11 years, Google has focused on building innovative products for our users. Today, with hundreds of millions of people using those products around the world, we are very aware of the trust that you have placed in us, and our responsibility to protect your privacy and data. In the past, we've taken numerous steps in this area, investing in educating our users with our Privacy Center, making it easier to move data in and out of Google with our Data Liberation Front, and allowing you to control the ads you see with interest-based advertising. Transparency, choice and control have become a key part of Google's philosophy, and today, we're happy to announce that we're doing even more.

In an effort to provide you with greater transparency and control over their own data, we've built the Google Dashboard. Designed to be simple and useful, the Dashboard summarizes data for each product that you use (when signed in to your account) and provides you direct links to control your personal settings. Today, the Dashboard covers more than 20 products and services, including Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Web History, Orkut, YouTube, Picasa, Talk, Reader, Alerts, Latitude and many more. The scale and level of detail of the Dashboard is unprecedented, and we're delighted to be the first Internet company to offer this — and we hope it will become the standard. Watch this quick video to learn more and then try it out for yourself at

Posted by Alma Whitten, Software Engineer, Yariv Adan, Product Manager, and Marissa Mayer, VP of Search Products and User Experience

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

[G] 'Tis the shopping season: introducing Google Commerce Search

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: 'Tis the shopping season: introducing Google Commerce Search

As we approach the holidays, retailers are gearing up for the seasonal shopping traffic. While they can't, of course, control overall consumer spending, they can control the experience they provide to consumers – both in their brick-and-mortar stores and online.

To help accomplish this, today we're announcing a new product, Google Commerce Search, to power e-commerce and search for online stores.

In the online shopping world, search quality is a big factor in converting browsers to buyers, and in keeping customers happy. In fact, 43% of visitors to online retail sites say the very first thing they do is type the product name or product category into the search box (MarketingSherpa).

While most of the top retailers have a search engine on their websites, the speed and accuracy of search results can make a real difference in visitor engagement and conversion rates. Visitors spend an average of only 8 seconds before deciding whether or not to remain on a website (MarketingSherpa
), so fast, accurate results can make a big difference in conversion.

That's why we're prioritizing speed and search quality for online stores with Google Commerce Search (GCS). GCS is a hosted, cloud-based offering that brings the relevancy, speed, and Google ease-of-use to e-commerce sites. Learn more here:

GCS also has a bunch of user-friendly features that make shopping on online stores easier, and search results more refined and accurate. Some of those features are:
  • speed GCS leverages Google's ultra fast platform, because it's hosted, providing sub-second response times to users.
  • Google quality and ranking GCS analyzes every item in the data feed using proprietary signals to determine its optimal placement in the result set, for more accurate query results for shoppers.
  • parametric search and sortingGCS allows users to refine or sort results by category, price, brand, or other attribute; this is fully-functional parametric search for e-stores.
  • product boost and promotions – Retailers can boost the relevance of certain items, or highlight specific products during a sale, and cross-sell related products.
  • spell check, stemming and synonyms – By leveraging the larger Google search engine, GCS can include these advanced search and synonym options, so the shopping experience is smoother for customers – even customers who mistype.
  • fast deployment and scale – Since this is a cloud-based offering, GCS can be deployed in days and, because it's hosted on the Google platform, retailers can scale to meet their higher-demand periods like the holidays without worrying about slowdowns or spikes.
The hosted factor is a key feature in making GSC easy for administrators to use. Because there's no hardware (or software, servers, operating systems, cables, or any other equipment), admins can upload product information to Google Merchant Center and provide a few extra customization parameters – and Google Commerce Search utilizes that product feed to power their website store search.

Retailers can use the same feed to submit their products for indexing in Google Product Search
as well, cutting down on time and tech costs.

With GCS, any e-commerce website can provide visitors with an improved shopping experience.Forrester That improvement can drive higher visitor-to-buyer conversion rates. While the conversion rates of most retailers is around 3% (Forrester), the best-performing sites have been able to achieve much higher conversion rates – even reaching double digits. For the top online retailers, improving the conversion rate from 3% to even 4% might actually mean improving online sales by 33% – a jump that can represent millions of extra dollars each month.

GCS frees online stores to do what they do best – create the product and promotional mix that their visitors need – and leaves Google to do what we do best: search. This helps retailers improve conversions and drive the sales that matter this holiday season – and, in fact, all year 'round.

Learn more about GCS at

Posted by Anna Bishop and Eric Larson, Google enterprise search team


[G] Introducing Google Commerce Search: Finding holiday gifts faster

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Official Google Blog: Introducing Google Commerce Search: Finding holiday gifts faster

The holiday season is right around the corner, so online retailers are gearing up for spikes in traffic. When people go to shop online, search is big part of finding the right product, whether they're looking for a gift or just something for themselves. Today we're aiming to make e-commerce searching as easy as using with a new enterprise product, Google Commerce Search.

Search quality is a big factor in changing visitors to buyers online, and in making customers happy too. Visitors spend an average of just eight seconds before deciding whether or not to remain on a website, so having a good search tool is important for turning visitors into buyers. Google Commerce Search is hosted by and uses Google search technology to make online retail searching both fast and customizable — visitors to your online store can sort by category, price, brand or any other attribute. E-store administrators can highlight special products or connect related ones so searching is easier for their customers. Google Commerce Search includes a built-in spellchecker and synonyms so if visitors can't remember exactly how to spell the particular toy or perfume or anything else they're hunting for, Google Commerce Search will make some suggestions. Choosing the right one is up to them, though.

Google Commerce Search is hosted in the cloud, meaning it lives online, so e-commerce sites can get up and running quickly. Using a cloud search tool will also help site owners meet the rise in demand from the holiday rush without having to devote extra time or resources to worrying about their capacity or infrastructure. Online retailers are free to focus on their business, while Google focuses on search, and shoppers can find what they need faster.

For more information check out

Posted by Alex Dovlecel and Nicholas Weininger, Engineers, Google Commerce Search

[G] Improving Our Communication of Blogger Service Interruptions

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Blogger Buzz: Improving Our Communication of Blogger Service Interruptions

By Eddie Kessler, Blogger Engineering Manager

After a recent service interruption, we started talking about how we could improve our communications about these (hopefully infrequent) issues. Going forward, in the case of significant service interruptions, we plan to publish a post mortem on the Blogger Status blog within 3 business days to provide details about what went wrong and what we're doing to help prevent similar problems in the future.

During any outage, we try to keep the Blogger Status blog updated once we know about an issue. Of course sometimes — as was the case on Saturday — affected users who cannot reach Blogger cannot reach the Status blog either. In such cases, we will try to post updates on the Blogger account on Twitter to keep users apprised of what we know and when we expect a resolution.

We don't like it when our users experience problems like what we saw on Saturday, but we hope the combination of transparency about around these issues and a our commitment to learn from our mistakes will help assure you that we're doing everything we can to keep Blogger a robust and reliable service for you. As always, thank you for using Blogger.

[G] Choose which messages get downloaded for offline use

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Official Gmail Blog: Choose which messages get downloaded for offline use

Posted by Maria Khomenko, Software Engineer

Like an increasing number of people these days, I like to stay productive during my flights (even those without wifi access). A long flight is a perfect opportunity to go through everything in my inbox and catch up on older mail. I use Offline Gmail in Gmail Labs to access my mail while disconnected. However, up until now, Offline Gmail heuristically picked which messages get downloaded for offline use. This meant that sometimes not enough mail from my Inbox would be available, but the Chat logs that I certainly didn't need on the flight would be there.

From now on, once you enable Offline Gmail from the Labs tab under Settings, you can choose which messages get downloaded. On the Offline tab under Settings, you'll see your current settings and be able to set how much mail you want to download from each of your labels. I chose to download everything in my Inbox and important labels, as well as recent messages from the last month from other labels.

When you hit save, Gmail will synchronize new messages you didn't have downloaded before and remove the ones you're not planning to read from your hard drive. You can always change your settings back to keep fewer or more messages later on -- fewer messages means Offline Gmail runs faster. Questions or comments? Let us know!

[G] London Open Source Jam 14

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Google Open Source Blog: London Open Source Jam 14

We held the 14th Google London Open Source Jam at our Victoria HQ on September 24th. The topic this time was "Video and Sound", and our Jammers had some real treats to share.

Steven Goodwin told us how his open source SGX 3D graphics engine deals with three key problems of other computer game engines. On a similar theme, Themis Bourdenas discussed the vine engine, a modular game engine for 2d and 3d games.

Borys Musielak presented Filmaster, an open source film recommendation engine. Neil Harris told us about an attempt by the Kendra Initiative to foster a common meta data format for content discovery on the semantic web.

In an Open Source Jam first, Jagannathan gave a performance of his Din software musical instrument. Din is designed for playing live Indian music, is based on Bezier curves and really has to be heard to be fully appreciated.

Sam Mbale gave us an update on his projects to help Africans build online communities using open source. Mike Mahemoff discussed some web tools frameworks for intranets, bookmarklets and trails in Scrumptious.

The UK government has plans to introduce a law to allow content-owners to force ISPs to disconnect the internet connection of users suspected of file sharing, without any proof. Glyn Wintel gave us an overview of how the proposed law will affect us, how the Open Rights Group is campaigning against it, and how we can help.

Douglas Squirrel talked about the difficulty blind people have in finding information on websites, and presented - a new project to reformat the web in a screen-reader friendly way. He also demoed a prototype telephone interface to the service.

Much pizza was eaten and free beer drunk, and we all ended up in the pub next door to continue our discussions. A big thank you to all our speakers and attendees, and we hope to see you at the next Jam!

By Matt Godbolt, Mobile Engineering

[G] Rapid Fire Web Analytics Q and A with Avinash and Nick - Episode #2

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Google Analytics Blog: Rapid Fire Web Analytics Q and A with Avinash and Nick - Episode #2

This is our second video in our recent initiative to ask you to share your most burning questions via Google Moderator (link: Google Analytics Google Moderator site).

This week, Avinash brings his cast (leaving only one good analysis ninja arm) and we sit down to do a rapid fire Q&A to answer your questions.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Strategies for non-bounced non-converted visitors (Macro vs. Micro conversion)
  • Ways to report total number of keywords over time
  • Benefits to tracking transactions as conversion goals
  • Tracking unique visitors to specific web pages
  • Path analysis for keyword reports -- why it's bad and what to do instead
  • How Google Analytics can be used on affiliate sites
  • How site owners can exclude themselves from being tracked by Google Analytics
  • How to properly track sites that reside on different domains but use a shopping cart on a different, common, site (cross domain tracking)

Here are links to the resources discussed in the video:

If you found this helpful, we'd love to hear your comments. If you have a question you would like us to answer, please submit a question or vote for your favorite question in our public Google Moderator site. We will answer your latest questions in a couple of weeks with yet another entertaining video.

Please add your thoughts about the Q&A via comments below. Thanks!

Posted by Nick Mihailovski, Google Analytics Team

[G] Create and Share custom News sections

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Google News Blog: Create and Share custom News sections

Posted by Sharad Jain and Nilesh Agrawal, Google News Software Engineers

Today, Google News is making it even easier to follow the latest stories on whatever subjects interest you. We are happy to announce our Custom sections directory, which gives users of some of our English-language editions the expanded ability to create comprehensive sections to put on their Google News home page or share with other users.

One of the great things about online news is the ability to filter by topics. Google News has long recognized this so we've allowed users to track articles based on keywords of their choice. But it has been a little tricky at times. For example, to follow news about topics related to outer space, you would have to create a pretty complex filter.

Now, if you're using Google News and can't find the perfect section, just create your own! You can do that by adding the relevant keywords. Then, if you are happy with the resulting section, you can publish it to a directory so others can benefit.

We have created an initial set of sections to get you started. There's one on Space, and others on topics such as U.S. Foreign Policy, Global Trade, Solar Power, and Hollywood. If you like them, click on "Add this section" and they'll appear on your home page.

The feature is currently available in the Google News editions for Australia, Canada, India, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and we look forward to expanding it soon.

Please visit our Help Center for more information on how to subscribe to custom sections or create them.

[G] AdSense Payment Integration

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Google Affiliate Network: AdSense Payment Integration

Google Affiliate Network publisher payments are now delivered through Google AdSense. In order to retire the legacy payment systems, all Google Affiliate Network publishers were required to link their affiliate account to an approved AdSense account before October 31, 2009. This integration is central to the development of our affiliate network and it provides a foundation for future growth and further improvements.

Nearly all productive Google Affiliate Network publishers successfully linked. Publishers who either chose not to link, could not link because of a previous issue with an AdSense account, or thought they linked but for some reason were unsuccessful have been deactivated. However, missing the October 31st deadline does not mean a publisher cannot continue to work with Google Affiliate Network. Any publisher (with an approved AdSense account) is welcome to reapply through our new-to-network process.

We recognize that change can be confusing and we truly appreciate our users cooperation. We look forward to closing out 2009 with a great holiday shopping season.

Posted by
Chris Henger
Head of Google Affiliate Network