Friday, December 18, 2009

[G] Reflections on our Africa Adventures

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Google LatLong: Reflections on our Africa Adventures

[Cross-posted from the Official Google Africa Blog]

From late October to early November, the Google Earth Outreach team, along with Googlers from our Africa and Geo teams, participated in several events in East Africa.

During the AfricaGIS 2009 conference in Kampala, Uganda, plenary sessions by Google Earth Outreach Manager Rebecca Moore and Geo Evangelist Ed Parsons spoke to the importance of access and and development of geographic data in Africa, and encouraged people to attend some of our 14 workshops on various Google Geo tools. Our colleagues from Save the Elephants, Mapping Africa's Protected Areas (MAPA) and the UN Environment Programme presented on a panel and answered questions from the audience about their Google Earth Layers. What struck us about these workshops was the high level of interest and excitement from the huge number of attendees we had at every workshop, and their desire for greater access to geospatial information and adoption of cutting-edge technologies developed weeks earlier, like the Google Fusion Tables map visualization tools.

Google Earth Outreach launched our program to most countries in Africa, also releasing an Africa microsite specially for African users. The Google Earth & Maps for Non-profits grants program is now available in most African countries, and NGOs are encouraged to apply for software grants. If you're an African NGO, apply now!

Posted by Tanya Keen, Google Earth Outreach

[G] London Open Source Jam 15

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Google Open Source Blog: London Open Source Jam 15

On the 3rd of December we held the latest (and greatest) Google London Open Source Jam at our offices near Victoria. The Jam is a way to get like-minded Open Source contributors and users together and give them a chance to give a 5 minute talk on something dear to their hearts, all the while availing themselves of free beer and pizza!

This time's topic was the somewhat catchall: "the Web." Like always, the topic is more of a guide than a rule, so we had some pretty diverse talks.

Our very own Jon Skeet set the evening off to a good start by telling us all about Noda Time — a new Open Source library for handling dates and times in .NET, based on the Joda Time library for Java.

Simon Phillips on Google Wave

Simon Phillips is a consultant to the film business and gave a great presentation on how he uses Google Wave to help him work closely with directors, script writers, set designers and the like. He showed some great ideas for using Wave in this way and was canvassing for help in developing Open Source Wave robots to help this process.

Simon Stewart gave a rallying cry for making the web more accessible to the blind and deaf, especially in this modern era of HTML canvas and video tags. By ensuring your sites are accessible, you open them up to more users, and as a useful side effect you also make them more testable.

HTTP has started to show its age, and maybe it's time for a leaner, meaner protocol to come along. I took a brief break from my hosting duties to present a summary of SPDY, a project to develop a replacement protocol which will deliver data to our browsers faster.

Glyn Wintle Gets Comfortable

If you run a web site, you may have come to fear the "Slashdot effect" where you are linked from a popular website and get a spike of traffic. Glyn Wintle from the Open Rights Group (ORG) informed us that this is nothing compared to having a bunch of knitting forums link to you! His was a tale of Open Sourcing of knitting patterns and DMCA take-down notices. He also brought us up to speed on the latest from the ORG.

Sam Mbale gave us an update on his work bringing open source to Africa and told us all about BarCamp Lusaka which he'll be attending. We look forward to hearing how it went at another Jam.

Robert Rees gave us an experience report on using Velocity templates to divide responsibilities between engineers and web designers. It seems to work pretty well; contracts are enforced by unit tests, and designers know exactly what primitives they can use when laying out web pages.

Matt Savage on RESTful Acceptance Tests

Finally, Matt Savage talked about his ideas for RESTful acceptance tests, and Steven Goodwin gave us an update on his project to build a "Wallace and Gromit" house.

You can find more pictures of the event on Picasa Web Albums. To find out more about the Google London Open Source Jam, visit If you'd like to receive regular updates about future jams, sign up for our mailing list. We hope to see you at future jams!

By Matt Godbolt, Software Engineering Team

[G] Facebook Feeds Begin Showing Up on YouTube's Homepage

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YouTube Blog: Facebook Feeds Begin Showing Up on YouTube's Homepage

You might have noticed that YouTube's been getting a lot more social lately. We've launched several features in the last few months that let you better connect with the platforms that matter most to you (and discover new videos you're likely to love in the process). In addition to linking your YouTube account to social networks like Twitter and Facebook via AutoShare, friend suggestions and easier private sharing options, you can easily find the YouTube accounts belonging to your friends on Facebook, Yahoo! and Gmail. Then, once you've subscribed to someone, you might start seeing their public actions (things like favorites, ratings and comments) in your Recent Activity module on your homepage (assuming they've set these preferences).

This week we've added another launch to the "social feature" list: a feed that pushes the YouTube videos your friends are embedding on Facebook back to your YouTube homepage. This feature is in test mode right now, but there is a way for you to experiment with it while it's being worked on: visit this page and connect to Facebook in the area that says "Where do I share my activities?" (If you've already hooked this up, you may need to disconnect and reconnect accounts to enable.) You can choose to "Disable AutoShare" right afterwards if you don't want your YouTube actions to be syndicated out to Facebook. But if you do want your YouTube-related Facebook activity to be syndicated back to YouTube, the key is that you just stay connected to Facebook. Alternatively, you can search for your friends using the friend finding module on the homepage, and that will also connect you to Facebook. Once hooked up, it might take a little while for videos to start appearing on your homepage during this experimental phase.

We see the YouTube homepage as only the start of your video journey. It's where you should be able to get a snapshot of the "YouTube Zeitgeist" at any moment -- that is, those videos that are most relevant to you and to the times. Sometimes those videos are served up by algorithms that offer recommendations based on your viewing history or the channels you're subscribed to. By adding the videos your friends are embedding on Facebook into the mix, we're hoping to close a loop with regards to how videos are shared and consumed these days. Take a look at these stats to see just how much YouTube content is viewed off the site:
  • Facebook: 46.2 years of videos watched a day
  • Orkut: 12.7 years of videos watched a day
  • MySpace: 5.6 years of videos watched a day
  • Hi5: 1.2 of years of videos watched a day
Pretty amazing, right? These kinds of numbers underscore the need for us to more tightly integrate social platforms with YouTube, because at the end of the day, we hope YouTube becomes your portal to video on the Web, particularly the social Web that has become so integral to our lives.

Chris Testa, Software Engineer, recently watched "I'm Yours(ukulele)," which his friend Jason posted into his Recent Activity via Facebook.


[G] Search Based Keyword Tool: 1 Minute Guide

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Inside AdWords: Search Based Keyword Tool: 1 Minute Guide

As the end of the year approaches, you may be thinking about how to drive more traffic to your AdWords campaigns and in turn, to your website.

Millions of people use Google each day to find products and services by searching on various keywords. This means that by including all keywords that are relevant to your product or service in your campaigns, you can ensure you can ensure that you will reach a greater set of potential customers. To help you do this, you can use the Search-based Keyword Tool to quickly identify relevant keywords which aren't yet included in your AdWords campaigns.

Our 1 minute guide will show you how the tool works, as well as how it's already helped one AdWords advertiser to increase sales.

Watch the video today, and you'll be ready to start using the Search-based Keyword Tool right away.

Posted by Dan Friedman, Inside AdWords crew

[G] This week in search 12/18/09

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Official Google Blog: This week in search 12/18/09

This is part of a regular series of posts on search experience updates that runs on Fridays. Look for the label This week in search and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

For Google, the quality of search has always been about getting you the exact, most relevant answer you were looking for in the shortest amount of time -- what we call "time-to-result." These notions of relevance and speed have been baked into our product development and are always a top priority for us. Every day we work through design, observations, and analytics to make sure that the Google you use today is better than the Google you used yesterday. In fact, at any given time we're conducting between 50 and 200 search experiments, all of which are focused on getting you the exact result you're looking for -- faster. And, given that 20% of Google search queries are ones we haven't seen in the past 90 days, and there are well over 300 billion web pages to crawl, you can imagine the extent of that challenge!

With 2009 coming to a close (not to mention the first decade of the millennium), now is a good time to look back over the evolution of time-to-result with a nod towards what's to come in 2010 and beyond.

In the beginning of the decade, many of us were like student drivers: we used search to navigate the web feeling apprehensive and deliberate with navigation (the excruciating wait times with dial-up modems didn't make it easy either!) Since then, we've all learned how to search better and faster, especially as the web has developed and diversified over time. As more and different types of information came online, we searched for it -- news, video, books, and maps became part of our daily search diet. Today, the majority of Internet users have become experienced web warriors, armed with broadband access, faster computers, and blazing fast browsers, and the time it takes to get the perfect search result has increasingly become more and more important. As a result, Internet usage behavior across the web has shifted -- and not just on Google. Recently, for example, Akamai published a study which found that Internet users in 2009 expect web pages to load twice as fast as they did in 2006. This expectation of latency is not limited to web page load time. Research firm Tubemogul found that more than 81 percent of all online video viewers click away if they encounter a video that's rebuffering. Speed matters now more than ever -- we don't have the time or tolerance to wait.

Our own years of testing have conclusively shown that when speed of a feature or product improves, usage, quite simply, goes up. During the early development of Google Maps for mobile, we went with compressed tiles over uncompressed map tiles, a difference barely perceptible to the human eye. The compression resulted in two to three times the increase in speed, and ultimately doubled usage of maps. But it's not just about actual latency -- it's also about perceived latency. During the development of Google News, which is quite a dynamic and complicated page, we broke the results page into smaller blocks of HTML, appearing above and below the fold. This smart tabling dramatically improves the way you perceive the page's load time. Although Google News takes about 8 seconds to fully load due to the richness of the page, the results you first see above the fold are there nearly instantly, thus altering that perception of latency.

So, it's clear speed and latency enhancements are an important focus for us, especially since they make the experience you have with our products much more useful and enjoyable. Above all else, we care about getting you an answer as fast as possible, and we do this through not only improving our search results but also by working with the web community to speed up the entire web. 2009 brought some incredible advancements that are worth noting.

In 2009, our "under the hood" infrastructure focus became more pronounced, as we kicked off our Make the Web Faster campaign. Our goal has been simple, to make the web browsing experience as fast as turning the pages of a magazine. To help increase browsing speeds, we released projects such as Page Speed to help webmasters optimize their sites, and Google Public DNS, to help people obtain faster, safer, and more valid DNS results.​ Finally, we started work on SPDY, pronounced "SPeeDY" -- a new protocol designed to minimize latency. The notion of these "under the hood" improvements are vital to building a faster web. But what about the relevance and comprehensiveness of the actual "result" aspect of time-to-result?

Early this year, we saw a lot of evidence that people are getting much more sophisticated in their searching, asking Google to solve harder problems (for example, by making longer and more complex queries). For this reason, in 2009 alone we have released many improvements: nearly 500 ranking changes; well over 100 UI changes; tripled how much you see in local universal results; brought personalized search to all users; and tripled the frequency with which you see images when you enter a query. To better help you choose from the results we improved the way that we summarize the results by dynamically varying the length of the description, creating jump-to shortcuts that take you straight to the relevant section of a page, and displaying the site hierarchy to inform you of the context of the page within the website. To save time and keystrokes, we now show you universal search features in Suggest; try searching for for weather, currency conversions, or flight status. This dramatically improves your ability to benefit from previous queries, getting you answers more quickly and easily than ever before. And just last week, we brought speed to a whole new level with realtime search -- so that you can find information that is literally just seconds old.

As these "time-to-result" efforts continue to emerge in 2010, we'll keep pushing the envelope on indexing speed, accuracy, and comprehensiveness. And that means you can expect the search experience to get more social, more personal, more interactive, and more ubiquitous -- getting you the information you're exactly looking for when and where you need it. Ultimately, the faster you get what you're looking for, the more enriched your life will be, and that makes us very happy. So what's the ultimate goal in the future? Allowing only a single barrier to instantly getting you the search result you're looking for -- the speed of light.

Here's to a great 2009, and an even greater 2010 in search!

Posted by Jack Menzel, Group Product Manager, Search

[G] Tips and tricks on deploying Google Apps

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Tips and tricks on deploying Google Apps

The process of going Google doesn't end with making the decision to migrate to Google Apps. That's why our Google Apps Deployment team is here to ensure that the millions of Google Apps users – from large businesses and schools to small community organizations – have the resources they need to help get Google Apps up and running.

If your company, school, or organization has decided to "go Google," but isn't yet fully "gone," today's post on the Official Google Blog points to some resources from our deployment team and tells more about the tools and guides available to help along the way.

Posted by Miriam Schneider, Google Apps team

[G] Tips and tricks for deploying Google Apps

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Official Google Blog: Tips and tricks for deploying Google Apps

Has your company, school or organization decided to "go Google" — but not yet fully "gone?" Perhaps you'd like more guidance on the technical, marketing or training details? Or maybe you could use some resources to help you deploy? Making the decision to go Google can be the easiest part, but we realize that it sometimes takes a little boost to finish the process, which is where we come in.

Our Google Apps Deployment team has assisted hundreds of organizations — large and small — make the switch to Google Apps. To ensure that your implementation is a success, we've developed step-by-step tools to guide you through the process, and best practices to make your transition as smooth and easy as possible. Here are some of the resources you can explore when going Google:

Sign up for a Deployment Training Webinar. In this live session, a deployment specialist will walk you through the deployment planning steps and use cases.

Take advantage of our deployment guides, which include creative examples and templates, to help with your technical and marketing rollout:
Recently, we also launched two learning sites to jump start your transition to Google Apps: the customizable Google Enterprise Launch Site for large enterprises and the Apps Learning Center for small businesses. You can find out more about these Google site templates in the Enterprise Deployment Site.

To find answers to your technical questions about Google Apps, visit the Administrator Help Center. We also provide overviews and videos for integration and migration tools, including Microsoft Outlook Sync, Google Blackberry Enterprise Server Connector and Lotus Notes Migration.

We hope these resources help with your move to Google Apps, and we can't wait to welcome you to the Google Apps family.

Posted by Cindy Chin, Google Apps Deployment Specialist

[G] Coradiant/Urchin Analytics In A Box Launched

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Google Analytics Blog: Coradiant/Urchin Analytics In A Box Launched

Urchin analytics software has a long tradition of integrating with other software/hardware platforms, and today we are pleased to announce the latest such collaboration: Coradiant's new Analytics In A Box (AIB). AIB is an appliance that sits behind your firewall, passively collecting web traffic data via a packet-sniffing technique. This gives you the option of reducing your reliance on page tags, as Coradiant's system collects traffic data in an independent way. Log file headaches are also gone for good, which will be music to the ears of any sysadmin!

AIB uses a modified version of Urchin 6, in conjunction with Coradiant's complementary technologies to give you new ways to look at both your web traffic AND the performance of your site/server.

From Coradiant's press release:
"Analytics In A Box provides a comprehensive view into customer Web site interaction, and insights into online conversion outcomes. Analytics capabilities are substantially enhanced through access to a richer data model and customizable reporting solutions. A complete set of dashboards for executive consumption, as well as access to granular data allows deeper insights into marketing optimization, site performance, content optimization, conversion behavior and navigational analysis."

Please see Coradiant's site for more information.

Posted by SoAndSo, SoAndSo Team

[G] Google's approach to privacy

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Google Public Policy Blog: Google's approach to privacy

Posted by Christine Chen, Manager, Global Communications and Public Affairs

Online privacy has been on a lot of people's minds lately, including ours. As Google has grown, it's only natural that people have questions about how we handle information.

We've talked a lot in the past about providing our users with transparency and choice in some of our products, like the "off the record" feature in Google Talk or requesting that images be removed from Google Street View. But we haven't always done a good job of talking about Google's philosophical approach to privacy overall -- or sharing our strong belief in harnessing data to create products and services that are useful for our users.

So over the past several weeks, we've been spending time with policymakers, consumer advocates, think tanks, trade associations, and journalists to chat about Google's approach to privacy. As you can see from this presentation, we've talked about our guiding privacy principles, explained what search logs look like, and discussed how we use data to improve our products and services.

Google Privacy

We've also talked about three major privacy initiatives we've undertaken this past year that underscore our commitment to transparency and choice -- interest-based advertising, the data liberation front, and Google Dashboard. For 2010, we're looking forward to taking even more steps to help users protect their privacy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

[G] Carbon offsets at Google

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Official Google Blog: Carbon offsets at Google

As leaders from around the world meet in Copenhagen to address global climate change this month, we thought it was a good time to reflect on our own carbon footprint. In 2007, we committed to become a carbon neutral company. We know that it isn't possible to write a check and eliminate the environmental impact of our operations. So what does “carbon neutrality” mean to us?

First, we aggressively pursue reductions in our energy consumption through energy efficiency, innovative infrastructure design and operations and on-site renewable energy. Our Google designed data centers use half the energy of typical facilities. We're also working to accelerate the development of economic, clean renewable energy at scale through research and development, investment and policy outreach. At this time, however, such efforts don't cover our entire carbon footprint. Therefore, since 2007 we've gone a step further and made a voluntary commitment to buy carbon offsets to cover the portion of our footprint that we cannot yet eliminate — which is what we mean by "carbon neutrality."

So what exactly is a carbon offset? The idea behind an offset is that we pay someone to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in a specific, measurable way, thus offseting an equal climate impact on our side. To determine our impact, we calculate our annual carbon footprint, which is then verified by an independent third party. We include direct energy consumption (like natural gas) and electricity use, employee commuting, company vehicle use, business travel and estimates of carbon emissions from building construction and from the manufacturing of servers used in our datacenters. We then buy an equivalent number of carbon offsets.

While carbon offsets seem simple in principle, in practice they are surprisingly complicated. In particular, it's often difficult to say whether or not the offset project results in emissions reductions that would have happened anyway. We find ourselves asking whether the project in fact goes beyond "business as usual." In the world of offsets, this concept is referred to as "additionality." Carbon offsets have a mixed reputation because some projects are not additional. Here at Google, we have set a very high bar to ensure that our investment makes an actual difference in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing offsets that are real, verifiable, permanent and additional.

To date, we have selected high quality carbon offsets from around the world that reduce greenhouse gas emissions — ranging from landfill gas projects in Caldwell County, NC, and Steuben County, NY, to animal-waste management systems in Mexico and Brazil. Our funding helps make it possible for equipment to be installed that captures and destroys the methane gas produced as the waste decomposes. Methane, the primary component in natural gas, is a significant contributor to global warming. We chose to focus on landfill and agricultural methane reduction projects because methane's impact on warming is very well understood, it's easy to measure how much methane is captured and the capture wouldn't happen without our financing (for the projects we're investing in, they couldn't make enough money selling the gas).

We need fundamental changes to global energy and transportation infrastructure to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions over the long term. In the meantime, the projects to which we contribute offer measurable emissions reductions and allow us to take responsibility for our carbon footprint. To that end, we're always looking for good emissions-reduction projects to support. If you have a landfill gas or agricultural methane carbon offset project you think we should consider, please visit this page for more information about how to participate in our latest carbon-offset procurement round.

Posted by Alice Ryan, Green Energy Project Manager

[G] Finding your way in India with landmarks

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Google LatLong: Finding your way in India with landmarks

In the past few months, you may have noticed that Google Maps directions have been using some new phrases such as "Take the 2nd right" rather than just "Turn right". We're using phrases like this because they're natural concepts that relate to the way we think about navigation in real life. They're the way a friend might give you directions. This week we're taking this concept further for users in India, using landmarks to help drivers get their bearings.

During a trip to the Google engineering office in Bangalore, our driving directions engineers got a chance to learn firsthand how drivers navigate in India. We discovered that street signs or names tend to be less important than landmarks such as civic buildings and gas stations. A friend giving you directions might tell you to "Turn left at the school" or "Go past the convenience store". In India, we have a lot of great landmark data available through user-entered "Points of Interest" in Google Map Maker.

Our new algorithm determines which of these landmarks are most useful for navigation, based on visibility, importance, and closeness to the turns that you're making. We now combine landmark data, counted turns ("the 2nd right"), intersection names, and road names, and try to use whatever information is most relevant and useful. We're using landmarks in two ways: to identify where users need to turn, and to provide confirmation that they're on the right track. You can read more about the research that went into this feature on the Official Google Blog.

Landmarks now appear in both desktop and mobile directions. As a result, we hope that our users in India will have an easier time getting to their destinations using directions in Google Maps -- and you can improve our directions by adding more POIs in Google Map Maker!

Posted by Dave Walker and John Leen, Software Engineers

[G] Go thataway: Google Maps India learns to navigate like a local

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Official Google Blog: Go thataway: Google Maps India learns to navigate like a local

Have you ever been lost? Perhaps you missed a turn because a street sign was poorly labeled, hard to see in the dark, or just not where it should have been? These are problems we've all faced, but they're especially complicated in India, where street names are not commonly known and the typical wayfinding strategy is to ask someone on the street. Without road names, it's difficult to produce a set of directions that makes sense. Just take a look at this screenshot of Google Maps directions in India in 2008 and you'll get the picture:

To solve this problem, this week we launched an improvement to Google Maps India that describes routes in terms of easy-to-follow landmarks and businesses that are visible along the way. We gathered feedback from users around the world to spark this improvement to our technology, and we thought we'd give you a glimpse at our thinking behind this launch.

We knew from previous studies in several countries that most people rely on landmarks — visual cues along the way — for successful navigation. But we needed to understand how people use those visual cues, and what makes a good landmark, in order to make our instructions more human and improve route descriptions. To get answers to these questions, we ran a user research study that focused specifically on how people give and get directions. We called businesses and asked how to get to their store; we recruited people to keep track of directions they gave or received and later interviewed them about their experiences; we asked people to draw us diagrams of routes to places unfamiliar to us; we even followed people around as they tried to find their way.

We found that using landmarks in directions helps for two simple reasons: they are easier to see than street signs and they are easier to remember than street names. Spotting a pink building on a corner or remembering to turn after a gas station is much easier than trying to recall an unfamiliar street name. Sometimes there are simply too many signs to look at, and the street sign drowns in the visual noise. A good landmark always stands out.

We also discovered that there are three situations in which people resort to landmarks.

The first is when people need to orient themselves — for instance, they just exited a subway station and are not sure which way to go. Google Maps would say: "Head southeast for 0.2 miles." A person would say: "Start walking away from the McDonald's."

The second situation is when people use a landmark to describe a turn: "Turn right after the Starbucks."

The third use, however, is the most interesting. We discovered that often people simply want to confirm that they are still on the right track and haven't missed their turn.

Giving people this sense of confidence while they explore an unfamiliar territory became one of the goals of our redesign. Over the course of several months, the team brainstormed various ways of presenting the information contained in Google Maps in a way that would be useful for people. We then settled on a design that added some landmarks to describe the turns and confirm the route.

The next step was to put this design to a test with drivers in Bangalore, India. The results were eye-opening. While we were on the right track with introducing landmarks, we still relied on street names too heavily. Drivers wanted more confirmation. They wanted to compare what they saw on Google Maps with what they saw from the driver's seat, every step of the way.

We added more landmarks along routes and reduced the visual prominence of street names, and the result was our final design:

Now Google Maps India gives you directions like a local would. Happy wayfinding!

Posted by Olga Khroustaleva, User Experience Researcher, Google Maps

[G] New resource for display advertisers on the Content Network

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Inside AdWords: New resource for display advertisers on the Content Network

Over the last year and a half, we've made significant changes to the Google Content Network to deliver better performance for your campaigns and to simplify the process of serving ads across a range of websites. As we roll out more features, we want to make it easy for you to discover what best fits your needs. To this effect, we've just launched a new Content Network brand channel on YouTube.

The site is stockpiled with videos, links and downloads about the full suite of features and solutions on the Content Network. Structured into four key sections, you can learn about a number of different products we offer and how they can help you achieve your various advertising goals. You can also find case studies and research papers from various industries so that you can see what some of the most successful advertisers on the Content Network are doing.

Last but not the least, we've also introduced a new creative direction for our videos, adding a bit more color and fun. Enjoy the first 5 videos below, and let us know what you think by sharing your comments on YouTube.

If you'd like to see more, you can always bookmark the playlist. Hope you find the new channel informative and fun!

[Note: this post is reprinted from the Google Agency Ad Solutions Blog]

Posted by Miles Johnson, Inside AdWords crew

[G] The Davos Debates 2010: Your Pitch To The World

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YouTube Blog: The Davos Debates 2010: Your Pitch To The World

This year’s iteration of The Davos Debates is up and running, offering one YouTube user the opportunity to attend this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos to put forward the cause they are most passionate about at a specially convened panel.

Our candidate will get the opportunity to engage and debate with the world’s leaders and take the opportunity that Davos offers to elevate the cause that is closest to their heart. As you can imagine: we’re looking for someone a bit special. Someone like you? See below for more details:

What sort of person are we looking for?

The winner of the Davos Debates will be someone with knowledge and passion for a public cause, who can demonstrate they're able to interact with the world's leaders. We want to hear real stories from people working on local issues, with a view to offering the opportunity to make these concerns global. Maybe it's fighting for human rights, or the environment, or against poverty? Maybe it's world fishing, education, or political freedoms? Whatever it is, we're looking someone who isn't afraid to get their voice heard, and give them the chance to be at Davos.

How does it work?

From today until the January 4, we're asking YouTube users to submit their video entries. Five finalists will be selected by a judging panel comprised of Paolo Coelho, Arianna Huffington and Muhammad Yunus. These finalist videos will then go to public vote on January 8, with a winner announced on the January 19.

Beyond that, and the information at the World Economic Forum channel, it's up to you. So get filming, rally some support and Make Your Pitch To The World.

Steve Grove, News & Politics, recently watched “
CNN/YouTube Climate Debate"


[G] Google Honored as a Finalist in the 2010 SC Awards

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Google Honored as a Finalist in the 2010 SC Awards

Google is honored to have been selected as a finalist in the 2010 SC Awards for outstanding achievement in IT security. Google Message Security, powered by Postini, was nominated for the Reader Trust award in the Best Managed Security Service category from more than 600 entries across 31 technology categories.

Widely respected in the industry for more than a decade, the annual SC Awards recognize the professionals, products, and companies providing security solutions that not only protect organizations today, but are also able to identify emerging threats as the landscape of online security evolves.

At Google, we're especially proud to be up for a Reader Trust award, since our focus is always on our users first. Voters from small, medium and large enterprises spanning all industries gave Google Message Security high marks on functionality, manageability, ease-of-use and scalability, as well as the customer service and support provided for it.

“Finalists in this year’s SC Awards including Google, represent a cross-section of the security industry’s best-in-class,” said SC Magazine Editor-in-Chief Illena Armstrong. “Our readers recognize that these companies are making today’s businesses more secure.”

Winners of this year’s SC Awards will be announced at at the annual SC Magazine award dinner in San Francisco on Tuesday, March 2, 2010. To attend the SC Awards, please register here.

Google's Postini team would like to thank SC Magazine and the many readers who voted for Google Message Security. We'd also like to congratulate our fellow nominees and acknowledge their contributions to the field of online security.

Posted by Gopal Shah, Google Postini team


[G] Automatic site translation and more in Google Sites

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Official Google Docs Blog: Automatic site translation and more in Google Sites

Just in time for the holidays, we've added three new additions to Google Sites. First, we've integrated Google Sites with the Google Translate element. Now, visitors to your Google Site with a different language setting than your site can hit the translate button on the bottom right of the page to translate the whole site to the language of their choice. Try it out for yourself.



Second, PDFs attached to pages and file cabinets can now be previewed in the Google Docs viewer. As we've mentioned before here and here, the Google Docs viewer is a good alternative to downloading a file.

Lastly, you can set a default location for a page template. This makes it simpler for you to keep the pages of your site organized. For example, if you have a recipe template in your family site, set /recipes/ as default location for pages created from that template so all your recipes show up together within your site.

We hope you enjoy these new additions to Google Sites.

Posted by: Russ Vrolyk, Software Engineer, Google Sites

[G] Translate Google Sites with one click

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Official Google Blog: Translate Google Sites with one click

Google brought translation features to many of our products in 2009, including Google Docs and Gmail and we're happy to add one more before the New Year. To make it easier for people around the globe to read the site you created with Google Sites, we've integrated with the Google Translate Element. Now, whenever someone visits a Google Site in another language, they will be given the option to translate the content into the language of their choice. All they have to do is click on the translate link at the bottom right-hand side of the page. Now, the content on your site can be translated into 51 languages, allowing you to reach a whole new audience. Check out this before and after for a Korean school's website below (or try it out for yourself).



We hope this feature helps expand your Google site's reach to more people.

Posted by Michael Cheng, Software Engineer, Google Sites

[G] API Python Client Library Updated

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Google Analytics Blog: API Python Client Library Updated

It's easier for developers to program in the languages they know, so we updated the Google Analytics API Python Client library with the just-launched API version 2 features. We also added reference examples for both the Account Feed and Data Feed. Now it's easier than ever to automate your analysis workflow using our API.

Taking The Library For a Spin

With the updated library, we thought it would be a great time to highlight the power of the new features. So we created a sample application to do just that. The application uses the new Python library to retrieve metrics for a series of segments. It then performs some calculations on the data and creates bar charts using the GChartWrapper package, an open source Python wrapper for the Google Charts API. Finally, it uses the Python Imaging Library to add a title and legend, and stitches all the charts together into a single image. We decided to release this application as open source so you can create visualizations with your own data.

Solving Business Problems

Since social media is all the rage, let's use this new application to help Avinash Kaushik, our Analytics Evangelist, measure "engagement" on his popular Occam's Razor blog. We also wanted to determine if the time he spends participating in social media sites is valuable and sends new readers to his blog.

First we created segments to pull all the referrals from Facebook and Twitter. Second, we chose five calculations and corresponding metrics to compare the performance of these two segments. We then compared the segments to each other and, for context, for all the visits to the site as a control.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, here are the results:
Let's Analyze

Some interesting observations become apparent.
  • Far more visits originate from Twitter (3.6x) when compared to Facebook, perhaps not surprising given Avinash's Twitter followers (~16,120)

  • Visitors from Twitter tend to be new visitors, a good thing, but they view fewer pages and spend significantly less time on the blog.

  • On the other hand Facebook delivers an audience that is loyal. These visitors come back to the site more often and spend a significant time on the blog (compared to Twitter and all other visitors).
The bottom line? Even though social networking sites are all the rage, they actually contribute very little to Avinash's blog. If this blog were a company, it would be wise to ensure the time and effort put into driving traffic from social media is proportionate to the actual volume of traffic and goal conversions from those sites.

Hopefully this example shows how powerful our new features can be.

If you're interested in running this report against your own data, the application is free and open sourced. Additionally, we made it really easy to change the metrics, segments, calculations and all the other visual properties to power your own visualizations. Download it here and give it a whirl, we would love to hear your feedback.

Posted by Nick Mihailovski, The Google Analytics API Team

[G] Setting some ambitious goals in a National Broadband Plan

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Google Public Policy Blog: Setting some ambitious goals in a National Broadband Plan

Posted by Richard Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel

One of Google's top policy priorities is spurring the availability and uptake of affordable, open broadband Internet service. The Internet may have been invented in the United States, but unfortunately in too many places we continue to lag behind Asia and Europe when it comes to broadband speed, penetration, and adoption.

We've been working closely with FCC staff over the past several months as they prepare to deliver a National Broadband Plan to Congress in February, and to date they've shown a strong commitment to providing the best possible blueprint for action.

As we explained in our initial comments, we think it's essential that in addition to instituting some constructive near-term solutions, the plan also should include some explicit, ambitious – and ultimately achievable – longer term goals for bringing ultra-high broadband speeds to all Americans. Those goals should be supported by our country's best thinking about various potential pathways to achieving them.

Today, in a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, House Communications Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher called on the Commission to commit to specific "stretch" goals as part of its overall plan – and we agree. Without including in the plan some future-focused benchmarks for speed and service, our nation risks losing the opportunity to make robust, nationwide broadband access a reality for American consumers.

Affordable, high-speed Internet access can drive economic growth, job creation, and education. We should not be satisfied with shorter-term fixes alone that likely will still leave us lagging behind the rest of the industrialized world.

[G] “The Beautiful Life” Makes its YouTube Premiere

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YouTube Blog: “The Beautiful Life” Makes its YouTube Premiere

Today we are teaming up with Katalyst, a studio for social media co-founded by Ashton Kutcher, and HP to bring previously unaired episodes of Katalyst’s television drama The Beautiful Life to YouTube at

The TBL series is being presented without commercial interruption by HP in connection with its Create Change program. As part of The Beautiful Life experience on YouTube, Katalyst and HP have asked the show’s stars and viewers to participate by recording, tagging and posting video commentary about how they will create positive change in 2010.

We are excited to bring first-run original programming like this to the YouTube community. The first two episodes of the series, originally aired on the CW, will debut today, followed by the remaining three episodes beginning on December 21. We're sure devout TBL fans will enjoy this holiday treat, and we think the show is likely to find many new fans through YouTube.

George Strompolos, Strategic Partnerships, recently watched The Beautiful Life - Episode 2


[G] Our final imagery update of 2009

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Google LatLong: Our final imagery update of 2009

We just launched our final imagery update of the year for Google Earth and Google Maps. Check to see if any of your favorite places have gotten an update! You can view the updated areas highlighted in red below. Alternatively, you can download this KML for viewing in Google Earth or you view the updates in Google Maps.

Updates are noted with a red frame.

We're excited to provide you with the freshest, most current imagery in Google Earth again next year, in 2010.

Posted by Matt Manolides, GIS Specialist

[G] Template spotlight: Holiday newsletter

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Official Google Docs Blog: Template spotlight: Holiday newsletter

Holiday newsletters are a great way to keep friends and family up to date on what's happened over the past year, and this holiday newsletter template is an easy way to jump right in. Add your family photo, share it with everyone in the family, and you'll be done in record time.

If you're looking for other themes, check out the holiday newsletter (candy cane theme) or the holiday newsletter (string of lights theme).

Posted by: Peter Harbison, Product Marketing Manager

[G] Transliteration goes global

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Official Google Blog: Transliteration goes global

Most of us use a keyboard to enter text; it's one of the most basic activities we perform on a computer. However even this simple activity can be cumbersome in many parts of the world. If you've ever tried to type in a non-Roman script using a Roman keyboard, you know that it can be difficult to do. Many of us at Google's Bangalore office experienced this problem firsthand. Roman keyboards are the norm in India, making it difficult to type in Indian languages. We decided to tackle this problem by making it very easy to type phonetically using Roman characters and we launched this service as Google Transliteration.

Using Google Transliteration you can convert Roman characters to their phonetic equivalent in your language. Note that this is not the same as translation — it's the sound of the words that are converted from one alphabet to the other. For example, typing "hamesha" transliterates into Hindi as: Hindi transliteration example, typing "salaam" transliterates into Persian as: Farsi transliteration exampleand typing "spasibo" transliterates into Russian as . Since our initial launch for a single Indian language, we've been hard at work on improving quality, adding more languages and new features.

Today we are pleased to introduce a new and improved version of Google Transliteration, available in Google Labs or at

In this new version, you can select from one of seventeen supported languages: Arabic, Bengali, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Nepali, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Sanskrit, Serbian, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. You can also compose richly formatted text and look up word definitions with our dictionary integration. If the default transliteration is not the word you wanted, you can highlight it to see a list of alternatives. For even finer-grained control, we provide a unicode character picker to allow character-by-character composition.

Google Transliteration is integrated into several Google properties and we have an API and bookmarklets to extend this capability to other websites. A solution we initially built to solve a problem we saw here in India is now being used in many other parts of the world as well - one small example of the scale and leverage that technology can bring in today's increasingly globalized environment. As with all labs products, we will continue to improve the technology and try out new features. We would love to hear from you, so do let us know what you think.

Posted by Nilesh Tathawadekar and Mohammed Aslam, Software Engineers