Friday, January 15, 2010

[G] Staying connected in post-earthquake Haiti

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Official Google Blog: Staying connected in post-earthquake Haiti

With relief efforts underway, many displaced Haitians and their friends and families around the world are deeply concerned about the safety and whereabouts of loved ones. In response to the Haitian earthquake, a team of Googlers worked with the U.S. Department of State to create an online People Finder gadget so that people can submit information about missing persons and to search the database.

You'll find this gadget on our Haiti earthquake response website as well as on the State Department website. In order to prevent the proliferation of multiple missing persons databases (a big problem during Hurricane Katrina), we've made the People Finder gadget standards-based and easily embeddable on any website (see here for instructions). The gadget is currently available in English, French and Creole.

We're also helping families in the U.S. stay connected with their loved ones in Haiti by offering free calls to Haiti for the next two weeks via Google Voice. If you don't have a Google Voice account already, request an invitation at

For anyone interested in viewing updated imagery in Google Earth, we've now included GeoEye's shots from Wednesday in the Historical Imagery feature. Now you can view the imagery without downloading the KML file and can use the time slider to easily compare the stark before-and-after images, such as those below. To help relief organizations, GeoEye has made professional-quality files of their recent satellite imagery of Haiti downloadable via our earthquake response website. We hope the imagery in this format will be valuable to GIS organizations and aid workers.

(Click to see full-size)

We have also made Haiti Map Maker data publicly available for download for non-commercial use and attribution. Data can be used by relief workers to do things such as create offline maps, combine data sets and run analysis, all of which we hope will help with their efforts on the ground. Please help improve Haiti maps with Google Map Maker.

News and user footage continues to roll into YouTube. Oxfam and the American Red Cross are even responding to donations by uploading videos that show viewers exactly where their contributions are making a difference.

Posted by Jacquelline Fuller and Prem Ramaswami for the Google Crisis Response Team

[G] Cincinnati now in 3D

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Google LatLong: Cincinnati now in 3D

[Cross-posted from the SketchUp Blog]

We're pleased to announce that we added Cincinnati, Ohio to Google Earth in 3D today. Start exploring by opening Google Earth and searching for "Cincinnati, OH"; make sure the "3D Buildings" layer is turned on.

This city is a great example of how multiple sources have been used to populate Google Earth with 3D buildings. The city contains a large number of user-generated models (made with SketchUp), Google-generated models, and untextured 3D models contributed via theCities in 3D Program. Have fun exploring Cincinnati in 3D!

Posted by Bruce Polderman, Product Manager

[G] Gripping Videos, Calls for Help, Dominate YouTube in Wake of Haitian Tragedy

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YouTube Blog: Gripping Videos, Calls for Help, Dominate YouTube in Wake of Haitian Tragedy

In the three days since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti, we've continued to see hundreds of thousands of people using YouTube to share information and donate money to help those suffering in one of the worst tragedies in recent memory. Since Tuesday, the American Red Cross has been featured on our homepage, collecting donations through videos like this one, which encourages people to give via a Google Checkout link next to the video. The International Red Cross just posted an update to YouTube (embedded below), detailing the situation on the ground. Their message? Goods are on the way, but more money is needed. Oxfam, Concern Worldwide and UNICEF have uploaded similar pleas.

Others have come to YouTube with personal appeals. First Lady Michelle Obama, Jimmy Buffett and Lenny Kravitz are just a few of the figures who are rallying support on YouTube. And people on the ground continue to put a very personal face on the tragedy, filming their experiences with shaky hand-held cameras.

Journalists are also uploading videos that bear witness to the devastation. Reporters like Dave Price at CBS and Rich Matthews of the AP are uploading individual vlogs from the streets of Port-au-Prince, and clips like this one from the AP give a bird's eye view of the damage (warning: this is difficult to watch):

On the ground, videos like this one give us just a glimpse into what life is like right now for Haitian citizens -- through the eyes of a person struggling to make sense of the destruction:

We're keeping CitizenTube updated with the latest clips and are contributing videos to Google's Earthquake Relief landing page as well. Though it could never match the resolve of Haitian citizens struggling to survive in the streets of Port-au-Prince and elsewhere, the outpouring of support on YouTube and elsewhere is encouraging in this time of great crisis.

Steve Grove, Head of News and Politics, recently watched "Haiti: Essential staff and good are on their way."


[G] Doing our share to help Haiti

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Google Voice Blog: Doing our share to help Haiti

It's impossible to watch the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake without wondering how one can contribute in helping the thousands of families who lost everything in this disaster.

Google set up a disaster relief page, which includes information and resources for anyone interested in helping out, and the Google Voice team also wanted to respond in our own way.

Particularly in the wake of such a catastrophe, for people in the US who have family in Haiti, it is critical to stay in constant contact with your loved ones, provide moral comfort, and offer daily updates to friends and family in Haiti.

To help those families, we're offering free calling to Haiti through Google Voice for the next two weeks. To place a call using Google Voice, use the Click2Call button on the website, the Google Voice mobile app, or dial your own Google Voice number and press 2 to place an outbound call.

Posted by the Google Voice team.

[G] We're in Wellington!

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Google Open Source Blog: We're in Wellington!

This year's is in Wellington, New Zealand. It's starting this weekend, Sunday January 17th, and runs all week, through Saturday, January 23rd. We'll have members of the Open Source Team at the conference all week. And we're especially excited about giving a talk next Saturday at Open Day!

Stop by to visit us at our Open Day table if you're in the area: it's free and open to the public (not just for conference-goers). Ask questions, meet people in the open source space, or just hang out and hack with us. We'll be giving a talk called "Open Source for Newbies" and we'd love to get your questions about the open source community, what you can do for open source, or how to get started in open source even if you don't know anything about it. It should be a fun day with activities for kids, lots of speakers and booths, and a hackfest going on. There's even going to be some electric cars there!

Check out the Open Day wiki on the website to learn some more. It's being held at the Wellington Town Hall. Here's the details:

Where: Wellington Town Hall
Date: Saturday January 23, 2010

Time: Doors open at 11.00 am and close at 2.00 pm

For those of you attending the conference, members of our team Leslie Hawthorn, Cat Allman, and Jeremy Allison will all be giving talks on Thursday (schedule here). Come listen to them speak on a variety of topics for the open source community today. Finally, we're having a miniconf on Google Wave™ on Monday, January 18, that is also available to all conference attendees.

Hope to see you there!

by Carol Smith, Open Source Team

[G] This week in search 1/15/10

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Official Google Blog: This week in search 1/15/10

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.

From mobile search to books, the first days of 2010 have brought some exciting new innovations. But most importantly, the global community rallied online to help support victims of the tragic earthquake in Haiti.

Searching to support Haiti
On January 12th, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, causing massive devastation. Throughout the week, we saw queries from Google users searching for information, resources and ways they could help. In fact, on January 12th, 4 of our 5 fastest rising queries were related to the earthquake. And it's not too late to help join in on the recovery efforts mobilizing around the world — a donation can help rebuild lives and communities. For more information on ways you can help, visit Google's Crisis Response page. Google has also pledged to help organizations provide relief with a donation of $1 million. Our hearts go out to the people of Haiti and their families.

Flu Trends
Back in 2008, we launched Google Flu Trends, which uses aggregated Google search data to estimate flu activity. Over time, we've found that certain search terms are good indicators of flu activity. This week we were excited to announce that we're taking flu trends one step further, with city level flu estimates in 121 cities in the U.S. With flu season upon us, Flu Trends is now an even greater resource that can help provide early detection of flu activity. Find out more about our announcement here.

Near Me Now for mobile
Need to find a nearby restaurant, coffee shop or bar on the fly — or maybe an ATM or bank? This past week, we launched "Near Me Now" on in the U.S. for Android-powered devices and iPhone. By using your phone's location information, searching for nearby places is now easier and faster. With just a few clicks you can easily check out customer reviews, quickly jump to a map to help you get there or call the business. For more information about this exciting launch, check out this post from the mobile team.

Optimized search suggestions using your location
Typing your query into a search box on a phone can sometimes be slow and difficult. Now, when using your Android-powered device or iPhone in the U.S., searching with Google just got a whole lot better. You'll now see customized search suggestions based on your current or last location. For example, if you are in Boston, a query beginning with "R-E" will return a suggestion for "Red Sox" among others. For more information on how to ensure that this new feature is enabled on your phone, check out the mobile team's announcement.

Samsung E-Reader
At last week's annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, hundreds of exciting products were announced. In partnership with Google, Samsung launched two e-reader devices that make it very easy to read any of Google's million-plus public domain books. Two models were launched: the E6, with a six-inch screen, and the E101, with a 10-inch display.

Thanks for reading, and as always, we'll see you back here next week.

Posted by Gabriel Stricker, Director Global Communications & Public Affairs

[G] Release Notes: Subscription News, Product Ideas Page, Links for One-Off Sharing...

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YouTube Blog: Release Notes: Subscription News, Product Ideas Page, Links for One-Off Sharing...

Happy new year! Our holiday "less-atorium" is long over -- we put a freeze on all but essential site pushes during Christmas and New Year -- and we're back in the business of enhancing the site and launching new features. There's lots in store for 2010, including these things which went live this week:

More subscription news: Last week, we made multiple subscription-related announcements and we have another to add to the list: now, shortly after you subscribe to someone, their older videos will start showing up in your subscriptions feed. (Previously, you had to wait until they started uploading videos after you subscribed to them.) Conversely, when you unsubscribe from a channel, the person's videos will promptly disappear from your subscription feed, making more room for the clips you actually want to watch.

Product Ideas for YouTube: A YouTube mantra is "launch and iterate." What this means is that we push out new features, see how the marketplace (you!) responds to them, and then make adjustments as necessary. None of this would be possible without your feedback, which we gather from how you use the site as well as from what you say in places like this blog, the forums, and Twitter. In order to help streamline the feedback-gathering process a bit (if that's possible!), we just launched a "Product Ideas" page where you can share your thoughts about how to make the site better and vote on ideas others have had. Right now, we're especially interested in learning what you think should be removed from the site in our fit of pre-spring cleaning. Click here to participate. links for one-off sharing: We announced links before the holidays, and people who've connected their YouTube account to their Twitter, Facebook or other social media profiles via Autoshare have already been disseminating these shortened links around the Web. What is new is that now, any video distributed using the "Share to Twitter" link on the playback page will contain this shortened link. Here's what it looks like when syndicated to Twitter:

YouTube Partner Program opens to users in the Netherlands and Italy: Our partnership program, which recently celebrated its second birthday, just launched in the Netherlands and Italy, so if you are a talented videomaker living in those countries, we encourage you to apply to become a partner and turn your hobby into a full-fledged career. Click here for more info.

The YouTube Team


[G] FriendFeed Subscriber counts not reported for January 14th

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The FeedBurner Status Blog: FriendFeed Subscriber counts not reported for January 14th

Issue: There is a gap in FeedBurner's FriendFeed subscriber count tally for January 14th, 2010. As with the just-resolved Google Reader issue, this event is confined to reporting only. No feed distribution or consumption was affected.

We are actively developing an update to our stats reporting service that will allow us to more effectively detect when a feed reader or aggregator does not appear in a given day's results and adjust reported stats appropriately.


[G] Use your extra storage to store any file online

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Google Photos Blog: Use your extra storage to store any file online

​Posted by Peter Harbison, Product Marketing Manager, Google Docs

If you missed the announcement earlier this week, the good news is that Google Docs is rolling out the ability to upload, store and organize any type of file. This new feature means that you now have an easy way to backup more of your key files online, from large graphics to unedited home videos taken on your smartphone. You might even be able to replace the USB drive you reserved for files that are too big to send over email.

Each account will get 1 GB of free storage in Google Docs (in addition to the 1 GB of free storage in Picasa Web Albums and over 7 GB of free storage in Gmail) and will be able to upload any file up to 250 MB. If you’ve already purchased additional storage for Picasa Web Albums and Gmail, that storage is now shared with Google Docs as well, giving you more ways to use your online storage space. As we announced in November, additional storage is only $0.25 per GB per year. And because of the enthusiastic response, the Google Photos team has extended the special offer with Eye-Fi: users in the US or Canada who purchase 200 GB of extra storage for $50 will receive a free wifi-enabled SD card from Eye-Fi.

The any file upload feature will be enabled over the next couple of weeks — look for the bubble notification when you sign in to Google Docs.

[G] YouTube: No Place for Bullies

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YouTube Blog: YouTube: No Place for Bullies

OceanKing97 is a 14-year-old using video to raise awareness about the plight of dolphins. His videos are earnest...and a little awkward (but who wasn't at 14, right?). Unfortunately, some people have picked up on his awkwardness and have posted negative, even hateful, comments on his videos.

Ever seen a situation like this, or been involved in one yourself? We thought we'd take a moment to share a few tips on what you can do if people post negative comments on your YouTube videos.

1. Delete harsh comments and think about blocking the user who posted them so they can't view your other videos or leave more comments. It's easy -- just use our Help & Safety Tool.

2. Report comments that insult your race, gender or a disability you might have by clicking on the "hate speech" button.

3. If specific threats are made against you and you feel unsafe (for example, if the person might know personal information about you like your name and location), tell your parents or teacher and consider whether you should call 911.

4. Avoid making negative comments and encourage your friends to keep their comments respectful too.

Thankfully, OceanKing97 isn't a real user -- he was invented by the National Crime Prevention Council to help teach YouTube users about cyberbullying. Check out his video and do your part to keep YouTube safe and fun for everyone.

Victoria Grand, Head of Community Policy, recently watched "Haiti at Risk"


[G] Our common ground on the open Internet

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Google Public Policy Blog: Our common ground on the open Internet

Posted by Tom Tauke, Verizon’s Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, Policy and Communications and Alan Davidson, Google’s Director of Americas’ Public Policy

(Cross-posted on Verizon Policy Blog)

Last night Google and Verizon filed a joint submission in response to the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Preserving the Open Internet. This submission, which is in addition to the separate comments that each company filed today, expands on our October joint blog post. In that post, we endorsed a principled approach to finding common ground with respect to an open Internet. We expand on that common ground in our joint submission today.

[G] Hey FCC, keep the Internet open -- and awesome!

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Google Public Policy Blog: Hey FCC, keep the Internet open -- and awesome!

Posted by Rick Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel

There's a lot of awesome stuff on the Internet: Cats talking LOLspeak. Iranian dissidents tweeting. Live traffic updates. Science experiments.

All of these things, and so much more, are possible because of the openness of the Internet. Any entrepreneur with an idea has always been able to create a website and share their ideas globally – without paying extra tolls to have their content seen by other users. An open Internet made Google possible eleven years ago, and it's going to make the next Google possible.

In our comments filed today in the FCC's proposed rulemaking docket, we explained that our goal is straightforward: "to keep the Internet awesome for everybody."

The Internet was designed to empower users. Its open, "end-to-end" architecture means that users – not network providers or anyone else – decide what succeeds or fails online. It's a formula that has worked incredibly well, resulting in mind blowing innovation, incredible investment, and more consumer choice than ever.

For the online world's first three decades, a set of FCC regulations protected the openness of the communications on-ramps. Unfortunately, those safeguards were stripped away back in 2005, which since then has led to confusion, uncertainty, and, in some cases, bad acts.

That's why we've argued that the FCC should re-adopt rules to prevent network providers from discriminating against certain services, applications, or viewpoints on the Web, and requiring them to be transparent about how they manage their networks.

More specifically, in our FCC filing, we support:
  • Adding a nondiscrimination principle that bans prioritizing Internet traffic based on the ownership (the who), the source (the what) of the content or application;
  • Adding a transparency principle that ensures all users have clear information about broadband providers' offerings;
  • Providing a carefully-defined "reasonable network management" exception so that broadband providers are empowered to address genuine congestion issues and protect against hazards like malware and spamming;
  • Applying general openness protections to both wireline and wireless broadband infrastructure; and
  • Creating better enforcement mechanisms at the FCC, and introducing the concept of technical advisory groups (TAGs) to potentially provide expert advice and resolve disputes.
I sat down with Megan Stull, our telecom policy counsel, to discuss these and other issues. Forgive our video editing, it's a little Max Headroom-ish, but hey that's one of the things that make the Internet awesome.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

[G] Third Annual LLVM Developers' Meeting

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Google Open Source Blog: Third Annual LLVM Developers' Meeting

With new year upon us, I thought I would take a minute to update everyone on the great progress made in 2009 by the LLVM Project. For those not familiar with LLVM project, it's a cross platform complier infrastructure. We had two successful releases of LLVM, our first release of Clang, a compiler front end for various C languages, and we held our third annual Developers' meeting on October 2, 2009. This meeting is an opportunity for both LLVM and Clang developers to have a face to face meeting, exchange ideas, share their experiences and work together on LLVM or Clang.

This Developers' Meeting was the largest to date! We had 170 attendees with a huge range of different academic and company affiliations. The Developers' meeting was structured to have both a general overview about the major LLVM subsystems and also applications of LLVM for various projects. The LLVM subsystems talks included Clang, scalar evolution and loop optimization, the future of the LLVM register allocator, and a tutorial on building a backend for LLVM. We had many talks on applications of LLVM or Clang, such as OpenCL, Unladen Swallow (a Google sponsored project), Rubinius, and so much more! Community members gave a total of 17 technical presentations on LLVM and its applications, and you can view all the slides and videos from the talks on the Developers' Meeting website.

This event is not possible without the support of our sponsors. Google generously helped fund several students and active members of the LLVM community to attend the meeting and present their LLVM-related work. I'd like to briefly summarize the work by some of these developers and students:

Anton Korobeynikov

Anton is a long time developer for the LLVM project, LLVM's project administrator for Google Summer of Code™ (GSoC) and also an LLVM code owner. For his day job, he is a Ph.D student in applied statistics at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia.

Anton presented an invaluable Tutorial on Building a Backend in 24 Hours. His tutorial overviews the various code generation phases, such as SelectionDAG, Register Allocation, and post register allocation. He goes into the different pieces of the backend that one will need to implement such as the target, subtarget, lowering, register set, instruction selection, and the calling convention. If you have ever wanted to write a new backend for LLVM, this is the talk that you will want to see. (Slides, Video)

Bruno Cardoso Lopes

Bruno is a multi-year participant with the GSoC project, active LLVM contributor, and Ph.D. student at University of Campinas, Brazil. This year, he presented Object Code Emission and llvm-mc. His talk gave a high level overview of the LLVM Machine Code Emitter and focused on the emission of object files. The motivation behind direct object code emission is to bypass the external assembler, and speed up compile time.

His work is a part of the LLVM Machine Code (MC) Toolkit project. The project aims to build better tools for dealing with machine code, object file formats, etc. The idea is to generate most of the target specific assemblers and disassemblers from existing LLVM target .td files and to build an infrastructure for reading and writing common object file formats. His talk goes into the details regarding the design, current implementation status, and future directions. (Slides, Video)

Duncan Sands

Duncan is also a long time developer for the LLVM project and an LLVM Code Owner. His presentation was titled Reimplementing llvm-gcc as a gcc plugin. His project, DragonEgg, aims to replace gcc's optimizers and code generators with those in LLVM without modifying gcc at all. This is done using a plugin via mainline gcc's new ability to load additional logic and passes at runtime via a plug-in mechanism.

The plugin is a shared library that is loaded by gcc-4.5 at runtime and is currently under development. If you are interested in helping with this project, please see the DragonEgg website for more information. Take a look at the slides and video from Duncan's presentation to see where you can get started.

Santosh Nagarakatte

Santosh is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania. He presented SoftBound, one of his current research projects. SoftBound is a compile-time transformation for enforcing spatial safety of C. It works by recording base and bound information for every pointer as disjoint metadata. It is a software-only approach and performs metadata manipulation only when loading or storing pointer values. The advantage of this approach is that it provides spatial safety without requiring changes to C source code. His talk provides a brief description of the formal proof and LLVM implementation. (Slides, Video)

If you are interested in attending one of our future Developers' meetings, please join the LLVM-announce mailing list. Many thanks again to Google's Open Source Programs' Office for making this event possible!

By Tanya Lattner, LLVM Developer

[G] Add social features to your CMS: Friend Connect now available for Drupal and Joomla

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Social Web Blog: Add social features to your CMS: Friend Connect now available for Drupal and Joomla

I'm happy to announce that Google Friend Connect features are now also available for Drupal and Joomla. Now that Friend Connect is integrated with these popular open source CMS platforms, site owners can make registration easier for users and offer them a set of social features -- all without writing a single line of code. Even site owners without programming experience can add these plugins.

Both Drupal and Joomla integrations include the latest Google Friend Connect features, like Interest Polls, AdSense, Newsletter Subscriptions, Featured Content, and well-known gadgets such as Members, Comments, Recommendations, Activities, Reviews and the Social Bar. When a user joins a Friend Connect site, an account is created and automatically associated with his or her external account of choice (Google, Yahoo, or Twitter, for example). The social gadgets can be placed anywhere in the site using the standard Drupal and Joomla administration interfaces. Site owners can moderate reviews and comments, create new polls to collect information about community members, and then advertise on the site using that information. The newsletter feature allows site owners to create and manage their newsletters using Friend Connect's interface, and site members can subscribe and unsuscribe as desired using the newsletter gadget.

For more details, visit the Drupal or Joomla projects at Google Code. To see them working, please visit the Drupal demo and Joomla demo.

Posted by Mauro Gonzalez, Globant

[G] Optimized Search Suggestions using your location

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Official Google Mobile Blog: Optimized Search Suggestions using your location

Typing a query into the search box on a phone can often be slow and difficult. For this reason, relevant search suggestions that match your intended query can meaningfully reduce the time and effort it takes to submit a search. Today in the US, we are happy to announce an improvement to search suggestions offered on Android powered devices and iPhone. Now, Google will offer suggestions based on the phone's current or last location, making the suggestions more relevant.

For example, when users in the Boston metro area begin typing "Muse", suggestions such as "museum of science boston" and "museum of fine arts boston" are provided because people near Boston frequently look for these very popular museums. On the other hand, users in San Francisco who begin their query with "Muse" will see suggestions for museums in the San Francisco area. By using the device's current or most recent location, Google is able to offer even better, more useful suggestions than ever before. To try this yourself, go to on your phone's browser and start typing a query to see the new location-optimized suggestions. Make sure you have turned on "Save recent locations" and "Allow use of device location" under the Settings link on the home page.

Update @ 4:50 PM: Note that you may have to refresh in your phone browser to see the new optimized suggestions.

Posted by Natalia Marmasse and Scott Huffman, Google Mobile Engineering Team

[G] Enterprise developers: See you at Google I/O!

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Enterprise developers: See you at Google I/O!

As you may have heard from our announcement yesterday, registration for Google I/O is now open! This year's Google I/O will focus on building the next generation of applications in the cloud, using Google products like App Engine, Google Web Toolkit, and Google APIs, with particular emphasis on Android, Chrome, and Enterprise.

Here are just a couple of Enterprise sessions that are already listed on the I/O website (many more are in the works!):

We'll be adding much more Enterprise (and Google Apps) content to the I/O website over the next couple of months. For updates on new content, follow @googleio on Twitter.

Today's registration opens with an early bird rate of $400, which applies through April 16 ($500 after April 16). Last year's I/O sold out before the start of the conference, so we encourage you to sign up in advance.

Google I/O
May 19-20, 2010
Moscone West, San Francisco

To learn more and sign up, visit

We hope to see you in May!

Posted by Joyce Sohn, Google Developer team

[G] Tip: More omnibox power tools

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Google Chrome Blog: Tip: More omnibox power tools

We've already seen a few things you can do with the omnibox, but it turns out there are even more capabilities you might not have known about.

First, you can create a desktop shortcut for the page you're on by simply highlighting the text in the omnibox, and then dragging that text onto your desktop.

If this is too fussy for you, you can drag the Star button next to the omnibox to the desktop to do the same thing (Note: this only applies to Google Chrome for Windows).

Second, if you've gotten a web address in an email or other document, and it isn't actually clickable, you can easily open it in the omnibox. Just select the link (even if it's broken across multiple lines!), copy it to your clipboard, and then right click (or on the Mac, ctrl-click) on the omnibox and select "Paste and go".

This will navigate to the link immediately. It works for things other than links too -- if you have some text on your clipboard, you can "Paste and search" to do the same thing as dragging the text to the omnibox.

Posted by Peter Kasting, Software Engineer

[G] Make Google Place Pages your business' megaphone

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Google LatLong: Make Google Place Pages your business' megaphone

If you're a local business owner, we've just added two new features that can help you reach existing and potential customers even more effectively on your business' Place Page. Both of these features are available by claiming your business through Google Local Business Center.

Post to your Place Page

Holding a special event today? Want to post a coupon for 5-7pm tonight? Have a new product in stock? You can now get the word out by posting to your Place Page directly from your Local Business Center dashboard. Once you've logged in and are on your business' dashboard, post an update and it will go live on your Place Page in just a few minutes.

To see an example, check out the Place Page for Mission Mountain Winery which posted to introduce a new wine.

Badge for Your Claimed Place Page

We are also introducing a badge for listings that have been claimed in the Local Business Center. This helps our users identify listings that have been updated and improved by their business owners, helping them to trust that the information about your business is as accurate as possible. We are also making it even easier to claim your listing directly from the Place Page by following the "Business owner?" link.

We're excited about how Place Pages can help business owners connect with the large number of new and existing customers who visit these pages each day. These users come to Place Pages to easily find basic information, photos, and reviews about your business, as well as a map, Street View photos, and nearby transit information to help them get to your doorstep.

If you haven't been keeping up with our latest improvements for business owners, you may also want to check out the new mobile coupons feature in Local Business Center as well.

We hope you find these features useful in reaching out to your customers and providing them with even more relevant and timely information about your business.

Posted by Jana Urban, Nick Dower, and Lori Meiskey, Google Place Page team

[G] Helping Haiti respond to the earthquake

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Official Google Blog: Helping Haiti respond to the earthquake

These recent satellite images of Port-au-Prince, Haiti before and after Tuesday's earthquake dramatically show the devastation caused by magnitude 7.0 trembler. Here are before-and-after screenshots of the National Palace and an area of Port-au-Prince:

Click to see full-size

In order to help the people of Haiti respond to this catastrophe, Google is donating $1 million to organizations on the ground that are rescuing those still trapped and providing clean water, food, medical care, shelter and support to those affected. We'd like to make it easy for anyone moved by the tragedy to respond as well, so we've included a link on our homepage to information, resources and ways you can help, including information on how to donate to organizations including: Direct Relief, Yele Haiti, Partners in Health, Red Cross, World Food Program, Mercy Corps, Save the Children, Lambi Fund, Doctors Without Borders, The International Rescue Committee.

You can also use the below buttons to donate to UNICEF or CARE.

Donate to CARE

Donate to UNICEF

In addition, Map Maker data has been made available to U.N. organizations and the team is working with the Map Your World Community to encourage Map Maker users with on the ground knowledge to help update the map of Haiti with disaster response data. We've received requests from relief organizations and our users to publish recent satellite imagery of the country. One of our imagery partners, GeoEye, has provided us with post-earthquake imagery from Haiti. You can check our Lat Long blog for further updates.

We've also reached out to the YouTube community for help. A Spotlight on the homepage drives traffic to videos from Oxfam and the American Red Cross, where you can make donations to relief efforts. We're also keeping a running playlist of the video footage coming out of Haiti on Citizentube; you can find a broad collection of citizen reports, news wire clips and personal stories of some of the victims.

Update at 1:11: Details regarding YouTube involvement corrected.

Posted by Jacquelline Fuller and Prem Ramaswami for the Google Crisis Response Team

[G] Search your BlackBerry email and contacts with Google Mobile App

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Official Google Mobile Blog: Search your BlackBerry email and contacts with Google Mobile App

If you have a BlackBerry and use the built-in Messages and Contacts apps, you can now search the email and contacts on your device using the new version of Google Mobile App.

Just type (or speak) your query - perhaps the name of the person who sent you the mail or a phrase from the text - and Google Mobile App will search through the emails and contacts on your device and return the results. You can quickly reply to an email or forward it on.

You can also quickly call, SMS, or email contacts by typing the first few letters of your contact's first or last name, and then pressing the corresponding button. Google Mobile App will suggest contacts as you type and you can scroll down to select one. Google Mobile App will promote the people you contact frequently to the top of the suggestions list.

To switch between on-device results (email and contacts) and web results (from Google), click on the link underneath the search box.

If you'd rather Google Mobile App not search your email and contacts, you can turn off Phone Search in the options screen. Google Mobile App does not send information about your contacts or content from your emails to Google. This data is only accessed on your device.

Searching email requires BlackBerry OS version 4.5 or higher. Searching contacts is available on BlackBerry OS 4.2 and higher.

The new version of Google Mobile App also includes other improvements, such as the ability to use your BlackBerry's Wi-Fi connection to access the Internet.

To download Google Mobile App to your BlackBerry, visit Learn more in our help center.

Posted by Luca Zanolin, Software Engineer

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

[G] Disaster relief in Haiti

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Google Public Policy Blog: Disaster relief in Haiti

Posted by Pablo Chavez, Managing Policy Counsel

We have been heartbroken by the footage streaming onto YouTube of the devastation caused by yesterday's 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti and inspired by the generosity people are showing toward relief efforts. Here's a Google site that provides disaster relief information -- including ways to donate to the effort online and through SMS.

[G] Haiti imagery layer now available

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Google LatLong: Haiti imagery layer now available

We've worked closely with GeoEye throughout the afternoon to make their most recent satellite imagery of Haiti, taken at approximately 10:27am EST today, available as a KML overlay for Google Earth. You can download the KML here and open it in Google Earth, or look at it via the browser plug-in below. You can also open the file in Google Maps. As you'll see, the imagery shows a powerful glimpse into the destruction in Haiti. Here are before-and-after screenshots of the Presidential Palace and an area of Port-au-Prince:

click to see full-size

We will continue to automatically update the layer (you'll only need to download it once) as we are able to make more imagery and data available.

Posted by Michael Rubenstein, Christiaan Adams, and Pete Giencke, Google Crisis Response Team

[G] Support Haiti Disaster Relief

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Blogger Buzz: Support Haiti Disaster Relief

Like many of you, we watched in horror as news emerged from Haiti about yesterday's disastrous earthquake. For those of you who publish your blog with Blogger, we built a couple of widgets that make it easy to invite your readers to contribute money to the Red Cross's international disaster relief effort. Pick a size that best fits your sidebar:

After clicking the appropriate button, select which of your blogs you want to add the widget to, then click "Add widget". The Red Cross assures us that 100% of the money raised is going to disaster relief efforts in Haiti — we and they thank you for your support!

Not on Blogger? Be sure to visit the Red Cross's Haiti banners page with banners that you can add manually, or visit Google's page containing information about relief organizations, news and contact info relating to the earthquake.

[G] Imagery & maps in the wake of the Haiti Earthquake

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Google LatLong: Imagery & maps in the wake of the Haiti Earthquake

Yesterday a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti, causing significant destruction and devastation. Since then, we've received numerous requests from relief organizations and our users to share recent satellite imagery of the country. One of our imagery partners, GeoEye, has just provided us with post-earthquake imagery from Haiti. We're working on making it available as a KML overlay in Google Earth as soon as possible; in the meantime, here is snapshot of the imagery we'll be providing. The image was taken at approximately 10:27am Eastern today and this photo shows Port-au-Prince.

We will update this blog post as soon as the layer is available.

We hope that Google Map Maker can also play a role in disaster relief efforts. We originally opened Haiti on Google Map Maker in response to hurricanes that hit the region over a year ago. Since then, many committed individuals have contributed rich data for the country, and now maps of Haiti appear on Google Earth and Google Maps. Today, we have made this Map Maker data for Haiti available to the UN in its raw form for the earthquake relief efforts. If you have any local knowledge to share, please help us continue to build a better map of Haiti with Google Map Maker. The latest, up-to-date Map Maker information will be immediately accessible through the Google Maps API as a map tile set and through this Mapplet.

Posted by Dylan Lorimer, Product Manager and Jessica Pfund, Google Map Maker team