Saturday, October 9, 2010

[G] Imagery of the Hungarian sludge spill

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Google LatLong: Imagery of the Hungarian sludge spill

Hot off the satellite, we’ve received brand new Ikonos imagery of the recent sludge spill in Hungary. See the below screen shots for before/after images; you can also view the the imagery in Google Earth using this KML overlay. Special thanks to GeoEye for making updated imagery available so quickly.

Image credit: DigitalGlobe (left) and GeoEye (right)

Image credit: DigitalGlobe (left) and GeoEye (right)

Image credit: DigitalGlobe (left) and GeoEye (right)

Posted by Matt Manolides, Senior Geo Data Strategist

[G] What we’re driving at

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Official Google Blog: What we’re driving at

Larry and Sergey founded Google because they wanted to help solve really big problems using technology. And one of the big problems we’re working on today is car safety and efficiency. Our goal is to help prevent traffic accidents, free up people’s time and reduce carbon emissions by fundamentally changing car use.

So we have developed technology for cars that can drive themselves. Our automated cars, manned by trained operators, just drove from our Mountain View campus to our Santa Monica office and on to Hollywood Boulevard. They’ve driven down Lombard Street, crossed the Golden Gate bridge, navigated the Pacific Coast Highway, and even made it all the way around Lake Tahoe. All in all, our self-driving cars have logged over 140,000 miles. We think this is a first in robotics research.

Our automated cars use video cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder to “see” other traffic, as well as detailed maps (which we collect using manually driven vehicles) to navigate the road ahead. This is all made possible by Google’s data centers, which can process the enormous amounts of information gathered by our cars when mapping their terrain.

To develop this technology, we gathered some of the very best engineers from the DARPA Challenges, a series of autonomous vehicle races organized by the U.S. Government. Chris Urmson was the technical team leader of the CMU team that won the 2007 Urban Challenge. Mike Montemerlo was the software lead for the Stanford team that won the 2005 Grand Challenge. Also on the team is Anthony Levandowski, who built the world’s first autonomous motorcycle that participated in a DARPA Grand Challenge, and who also built a modified Prius that delivered pizza without a person inside. The work of these and other engineers on the team is on display in the National Museum of American History.

Safety has been our first priority in this project. Our cars are never unmanned. We always have a trained safety driver behind the wheel who can take over as easily as one disengages cruise control. And we also have a trained software operator in the passenger seat to monitor the software. Any test begins by sending out a driver in a conventionally driven car to map the route and road conditions. By mapping features like lane markers and traffic signs, the software in the car becomes familiar with the environment and its characteristics in advance. And we’ve briefed local police on our work.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.2 million lives are lost every year in road traffic accidents. We believe our technology has the potential to cut that number, perhaps by as much as half. We’re also confident that self-driving cars will transform car sharing, significantly reducing car usage, as well as help create the new “highway trains of tomorrow." These highway trains should cut energy consumption while also increasing the number of people that can be transported on our major roads. In terms of time efficiency, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that people spend on average 52 minutes each working day commuting. Imagine being able to spend that time more productively.

We’ve always been optimistic about technology’s ability to advance society, which is why we have pushed so hard to improve the capabilities of self-driving cars beyond where they are today. While this project is very much in the experimental stage, it provides a glimpse of what transportation might look like in the future thanks to advanced computer science. And that future is very exciting.

Posted by Sebastian Thrun, Distinguished Software Engineer

[G] Join the birthday salute to John Lennon

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Official Google Blog: Join the birthday salute to John Lennon

(Cross-posted with the YouTube Blog)

Today we join Yoko Ono in asking fans around the world to upload video tributes to John Lennon on what would have been his 70th birthday.

If you have memories to share of this legendary member of the Beatles and his music, upload a video to and you’ll join a global chorus that includes Jeff Bridges, Jonas Brothers, Ringo Starr and the entire crowd at an Aerosmith concert.

As part of today’s celebration, you may have noticed a special YouTube logo that’s being featured in 25 different countries highlighting the artist’s famous self-portrait. This unique artwork is also part of a birthday video that you can find at It’s the very first time that a YouTube video has been embedded into a one-of-a-kind Google doodle—read a bit more about it in this post.

“Spread Peace. Imagine Peace.” is how Yoko suggests you celebrate the day, along with sharing your video tribute with the world.

Posted by Michele Flannery, Music Manager, YouTube

[G] Join the birthday salute to John Lennon

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YouTube Blog: Join the birthday salute to John Lennon

Today we join Yoko Ono in asking fans around the world to upload video tributes to John Lennon on what would have been his 70th birthday.

If you have memories to share of this legendary member of the Beatles and his music, upload a video to and you’ll join a global chorus that includes Aerosmith, Jeff Bridges, Jonas Brothers, Ringo Starr, and YouTube Community members like Goh Nakamura and DJ Mike Relm.

As part of today’s celebration, you may have noticed a special YouTube logo that’s being featured in 24 different countries highlighting the artist’s famous self-portrait. This unique artwork is also part of a birthday video that you can find at It’s the very first time that a YouTube video has been embedded into a one-of-a-kind Google Doodle — read a message from artist who created it here.

“Spread Peace. Imagine Peace.” is how Yoko suggests you celebrate the day, along with sharing your video tribute with the world.

Michele Flannery, Music Manager, recently watched Plastic Ono Band - “Give Peace A Chance”


[G] Getting the most out of Gmail

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Getting the most out of Gmail

Last week we posted some tips to help you move from Microsoft Outlook® and other client-based software to Google Apps. Today we’d like to share some more thoughts on making the most of Gmail.

Save time with Priority Inbox
A busy day often affords few email breaks. When you do get a chance to scan your mail, Priority Inbox helps you prioritize by identifying the messages that require your immediate attention. Gmail uses a variety of signals to predict which messages are important, including the people you email most and which messages you open and reply to. The best part is it gets better the more you use it. Turn on and manage Priority Inbox in your mail Settings – and read our tips to become a real Priority Inbox whiz!

Seamless chat, video and calling
We work with people in multiple ways, and Gmail makes it easy for you to choose the most effective means to communicate: email, chat, text messaging, video chats and phone calls are all available from your inbox. For example, voice and video chat lets you have an actual conversation with someone or meet face-to-face in brilliant resolution. And for those early adopters transitioned to our new infrastructure, we recently added the ability to call phones in Gmail, so you can place phone calls from your computer to any landline or mobile phone number and receive calls as well. For phone calls and video chat, download this plugin to get started.

Get more attached to your email
Attachments in other email systems can be cumbersome; they take up space, can be hard to find and you have to open another program to take action, which slows you down. Gmail has some helpful features that let you quickly view attachments without the need to open or download them on client-side software. The Google Docs Viewer allows you to view .doc, .pdf, .ppt and other attachments in a new browser tab simply by clicking the "View" link at the bottom of a Gmail message. If you decide you want to edit the file, click "Edit online" to open it in Google Docs, or download it to your desktop.

Gmail also includes a Google Docs preview lab that lets you read the entire contents of a Google document, spreadsheet or presentation right in Gmail. Note that your administrator needs to have enabled Labs for you to access them.

Put email in context
Wouldn’t it be great if you could update a sales lead without leaving your inbox? With contextual gadgets, you can. They display information from social networks, business services, web applications and other systems, and let you interact with that data right within Gmail. Your administrator or any third-party developer can build and distribute Gmail contextual gadgets to the domain with just a few clicks via the Google Apps Marketplace, which we launched in March. To learn more, browse for apps in the Marketplace that have ‘Mail Integration’.

The keys to productivity

With Gmail, we built in keyboard shortcuts to help you get through your mail quickly and efficiently. Once you enable this feature in Settings, you can archive (e), reply (r), compose (c), delete (#) or take just about any other action with one key or a short combo. For a handy guide, type “?” while you’re in Gmail – for maximum efficiency, print it out and post it at your desk.

Experiment in our Labs
Gmail Labs give users experimental – sometimes whimsical – features to customize Gmail in a way that works best for them. Some Labs accommodate preferences, such as adding a “Send & Archive” button, while others help you communicate, such as the Google Voice player and SMS in Chat. Still others help you stay organized, like the Google Docs and Calendar gadgets. If your administrator has enabled Labs for your domain, check them out for yourself.

What’s your favorite feature in Gmail? Feel free to let us know in the comments below. Happy (productive) emailing!

Posted by Rajen Sheth, Google Apps Product Manager

Friday, October 8, 2010

[G] This week in search 10/8/10

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Official Google Blog: This week in search 10/8/10

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

While we’re always working on making search more precise, comprehensiveness and interactive, you can also count on us to bring you enhancements in speed and language. This week, our updates include releases that will help you get the information you’re looking for fast—and in many different languages.

Flu facts in search
Just in time for flu season, we’re again collaborating with the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services (HHS), their collaborators and the American Lung Association to help you easily find nearby locations to get the flu vaccine. When searching for flu-related terms, information will appear at the top of your search results, including tips from and a flu vaccine finder box with an expanding map that displays locations where you can receive vaccine. You can also visit for the flu vaccine finder. While we’re all hoping for a relatively tame flu season, preparation is always necessary. We hope this enhancement will make it easier.

Example searches: [flu] and [flu shot]

Google Alerts for video now in 40 languages
Google Alerts has been helping English speakers discover new videos related to their interests for years. Last week, we added support for video alerts in 39 additional languages, including Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish. This means that all of you around the world can now monitor the web for new videos, as well as for news, blogs, web results and real-time updates. Visit and try it out.

A new addition to Google Translate
It is with great linguistic pleasure that we’ve added Latin to as an alpha language in Google Translate. Although considered a “dead language” by many, Latin is still studied by hundreds of thousands of students worldwide and is the predecessor to many modern tongues. If you are looking for something to translate, check out our post announcing the feature (written entirely in Latin!). While this may not be popular for translating YouTube captions or emails, we hope it will help unlock the many ancient documents that are written in Latin.

The week in searches
Want to know what was hot on Google Search in the U.S. this week? Check out the Google Beat, where we give you the scoop on what got people clicking on Google. This week, we cover the Rick Sanchez/Jon Stewart comments as well as the buzz around the Ryder Cup golf competition.

We hope you find these updates useful. Stay tuned for more next week.

Posted by Ben Ling, Director of Search Properties

[G] Google Apps highlights – 10/8/2010

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Official Google Blog: Google Apps highlights – 10/8/2010

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

Over the last couple weeks, we rolled out new settings in Gmail for email traditionalists, and some features in Google Docs to make it easier to work with document revisions and imported spreadsheet data. We also had big news to share about bringing Google Apps to all K-12 students in New York state.

Try Gmail without conversation view
We think conversation view in Gmail is a big time saver, because it automatically groups related messages into neatly organized discussions. But over the years we’ve heard from many people accustomed to a traditional inbox that conversation view drives them nuts. Last Wednesday we introduced the option for people to turn conversation view off or on in Gmail Settings if they’d like. With this option, messages are delivered to the inbox individually, like you see in most email applications. Threaded or unthreaded—now it’s your choice.

Better revision history in Google documents
One of the ways Google Docs is different from other office software is its ability to automatically save and display every revision ever made, even if multiple people have edited a file together. Last week we made revision history in Google documents even better, by simplifying how revision time stamps are displayed, speeding up how fast you can flip through sequential revisions, and highlighting changes made by different editors with different colors, so you can quickly scan for who changed what. Go to “File” > “See revision history” to try it out.

Better data import in Google spreadsheets
We also improved Google spreadsheets recently with better data import options. For example, if you’re importing information from a .csv file, you can create a whole new spreadsheet, append to the current sheet, add a new sheet to your existing spreadsheet or even replace your entire spreadsheet with the new version. We also upgraded the import preview pane to show a snapshot of how your spreadsheet will look after import, so you can verify that things are set the way you want.

Who’s gone Google?
Tens of thousands of businesses, schools and organizations have made the switch to Gmail and Google Apps since our last update. And on Tuesday, we announced a new agreement with the state of New York to bring Google Apps, including training and support to 697 public school districts, as well as all non-public and charter schools across the state. New York is the fifth and largest state to “go Google” throughout their K-12 system, joining Oregon, Iowa, Colorado and Maryland. We’re unbelievably excited about the opportunity to enrich the classroom for more than 3.1 million students and hundreds of thousands of teachers in New York.

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

Posted by Jeremy Milo, Google Apps Marketing Manager

[G] Goodbye to an old friend: 1-800-GOOG-411

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Official Google Blog: Goodbye to an old friend: 1-800-GOOG-411

Back in 2007 we launched 1-800-GOOG-411, a voice-powered directory assistance service that connects you quickly to businesses across the U.S. and Canada. On November 12, 2010, we will shut down the service.

GOOG-411 was the first speech recognition service from Google and helped provide a foundation for more ambitious services now available on smartphones, such as:
  • Voice Search - search Google by speaking instead of typing.
  • Voice Input - fill in any text field on Android by speaking instead of typing.
  • Voice Actions - control your Android phone with voice commands. For example, you can call any business quickly and easily just by saying its name.
Our success encouraged us to aim for more innovation. Thus, we’re putting all of our resources into speech-enabling the next generation of Google products and services across a multitude of languages.

If you don’t use a smartphone, and you’re trying to call a business, you can send a text message with the name and location of the business to 466453 ("GOOGLE") and we’ll text you the information, or on Gmail you can use the new phone-calling features to call any U.S. business free of charge. Also, if you don’t have the free voice search app pre-installed on your phone, you can download it here.

Thanks for all the calls, and keep an eye out for all the innovation to come.

Posted by The GOOG-411 Team

[G] Western Union now launched in four African countries

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Inside AdSense: Western Union now launched in four African countries

We're excited to announce the launch of Western Union Quick Cash® payments in four countries in Africa! You can now select Western Union Quick Cash payments in:
  • Algeria
  • Ghana
  • Kenya
  • Uganda
Western Union Quick Cash payments will reach you faster than checks, and they're free of charge. Payments will continue to follow our normal payment schedule and will be available for pickup in your local currency at your local Western Union agent the day after they're issued.

A couple of things to note: We can send Western Union payments only to publishers that have an individual account at this time. Also, the payee name on your account must exactly match the government-issued ID card that you'll use when picking up your payments. For more information on how to sign up for and pick up Western Union payments, please visit our Help Center.

Posted by Deborah Chang - AdSense Payments team

[G] Finding your hidden treasure: international campaigns with AdWords

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Inside AdWords: Finding your hidden treasure: international campaigns with AdWords

Cross posted from the Official Google Blog.

In 2000, Antoine Assi founded Middle Eastern export website—it was one of the first e-commerce businesses in the Middle East. He was just 20 years old and he made time to develop the business in between computer science classes at his university. He needed a way to advertise his website from the comfort of his own dorm room, so he decided to test out Google AdWords.

His friends didn’t believe him when Antoine said he was going to sell and advertise traditional Middle Eastern foods and goods online. However, by 2004, his business had grown so rapidly that he decided to take leave from school to run it full-time. He then started his second company,, which sells handcut decorative tiles online internationally.

Antoine believed there was a gap in the mosaic market and he wanted to share these artistic and historic decorations abroad. He knew there was a market for these tiles internationally—he just didn’t quite know where the opportunity existed. To identify these international growth opportunities, Antoine built on his knowledge of AdWords: He ran several AdWords campaigns, each targeted at the location and language of the test country.

From there, Antoine measured sales and percentage of website traffic from each country and campaign. He ended campaigns for countries with low sales volume and invested in campaigns for countries with higher sales volume and greater return on investment. Where he saw steady product sales, Antoine even had the company website translated into the language of the successful host country. As you can imagine, translating the site to the language of a country in which he’d already seen success only further promoted sales in that location.

Antoine refers to his AdWords campaigns as his hidden treasure, telling us that “the second month we started advertising on Google, we started feeling overwhelmed by the orders and the inquiries... We had to hire new employees on a weekly basis.”

Mosaic Marble quickly grew from two employees and eight artists to more than 40 employees and 120 artists. And the company’s website is now available in seven languages: Arabic, English, Finnish, German, Italian, Portuguese and French.

In addition to helping him expand his business, these international campaigns helped Antoine and his colleagues share these cultural icons with a larger part of the world. There are now homes and public spaces adorned with these ancient Greek creations in more than 50 countries worldwide. “Due to Google,” says Antoine, “we have customers such as the President of Congo, the Dubai Minister of Internal Affairs, the Princess of Jordan, and the Royal Music Academy of London.”

 Posted by Gordon Zhu, Inside AdWords crew

[G] Going Google Across the 50 States: North Carolina based American Support relies on Docs, Sites and Chat to run its business

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Going Google Across the 50 States: North Carolina based American Support relies on Docs, Sites and Chat to run its business

Editor’s note: Over 3 million businesses have adopted Google Apps. Today we’ll hear from Matt Zemon, President of American Support, headquartered in North Carolina. To learn more about other organizations that have gone Google and share your story, visit our community map or test drive life in the cloud with the Go Google cloud calculator.

At American Support, we provide back office services to over 400 cable, phone and internet franchises in 29 states. Our services include billing and subscriber management along with 24/7 customer care and technical support.

When I originally founded the company in 2006 we had a joint venture with a Philippines-based call center to provide customer service at a reasonable cost to our clients. In the first couple years of business it became evident that our clients and their subscribers wanted to have American-based customer service. Our clients were not happy with the off-shore customer service we were providing and we were having difficulties winning new business. As a customer service outsourcer the challenge was finding a way to provide the American customer service they desired at a price point they could afford.

To save our business we ended up rethinking our business model and looking to the cloud to drive down costs and increase our efficiency. The first change was migrating to a call center in the cloud platform which enabled us to recruit, train and route calls to rural American home-based employees who needed and wanted the work. With this technology solution in place we began bringing our call center jobs back to America. As of May of last year we are a 100% American customer service organization.

The second change was moving from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps in 2009, which allowed us to more efficiently and effectively collaborate with our employees and clients spread out across the United States.

Today we maintain a small office in North Carolina and a technical assistance center and network operations center in Montana. The rest of our management team is spread out between Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, Georgia and Nebraska. Our entire customer support team works from home.

Tools that fostered collaboration were absolutely essential to running our business. Each manager and their team really live in the Google Apps environment. All of their meetings are done through Google Docs and video chats. I’ve never met 90% of our employees in person. Every meeting agenda is built off of a doc with everyone logged into the same doc at the same time, taking notes and keeping track of next steps as we move along through the meeting agenda. Plus, our clients across the country have started getting used to the value of moving away from attachments to using Google Docs. Working together internally and externally is so much easier when we’re always sure we’re looking at the most current document and you can collaborate on it in real-time.

Google Sites is also a key aspect of our business operations. We create a custom site for each of our clients that contains the most frequently asked questions, their unique policies and procedures, and other useful information for our teams. Sites allows us to keep all information in one place that everyone on the team can update and reference.

We had initially looked at Google Apps for its 25 GB of mail and shared calendars, but it’s Google Sites, Docs and Talk that allow us to communicate successfully and efficiently so that we can support customers with a team all over the country. We attribute our successful collaboration and the ability to run a coast-to-coast virtual team to our use of Google Apps.

Posted by Matt Zemon, President, American Support

[G] Simply Lennon

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Official Google Blog: Simply Lennon

There’s a lot that can be said about John Lennon, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. Even more can be said about the individual experiences people have had growing up with his music. It seems like everyone has a Lennon story. The earliest memory I have of him is listening to his songs in the backseat of our old station wagon with my brothers, watching my mom and dad sing along on the cassette player. It’s a very simple memory, but rich with subtlety—the sunlight through the windshield, my mom’s smile—and so it’s stuck with me. And maybe that’s what John’s music is about. There’s an earnest simplicity to it, yet I’m sure any one of us, regardless of whether or not we were around during his time, could describe some way he has deeply enriched our lives.

Starting today and all day tomorrow, which would have been John’s 70th birthday, we're celebrating him with our first-ever animated video doodle. The old saying, ”A picture is worth a thousand words” still rings true, so I hope a moving picture will help me adequately—and simply—thank John for the memories.

Posted by Mike Dutton, Google Doodler

[G] Help Us Make Blogger Better (again)

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Blogger Buzz: Help Us Make Blogger Better (again)

A little over a year ago, we asked all of you to speak your mind and let us know what we could do to make Blogger better. Two thousand ideas and seventy-five thousand votes later, we had quite the laundry list of feature requests and feedback to dig through. Our team took a long, hard look at the data and spent the last year cranking out as many of these features and fixes as humanly possible.

To date, we’re happy to say that we’ve been able to launch most of the top-requested features from the list. Here are just a handful of the features you asked for which are now live:

...and that’s just the beginning of the list. We’re also working on a few big improvements that we’re pretty excited about, so stay tuned as we continue to roll things out of the oven in the near future.

Just as we did last year, we’re asking for your input on our Product Ideas page. As always, our ears are open to your feedback and your input has been invaluable over the years in helping us figure out where to put our time and energy.

Please take a moment to vote on and submit ideas, whether specific feature requests or general service improvements. Think about new features that would make you use Blogger more, the things from other services which may be missing, and even the things which may be frustrating at times. We promise to once again take a long look at the feedback, and hope to tackle many of the top issues just as we did last time around.

Thanks again in advance for all your help making Blogger the best service it can be!

[G] Guest post: Discover amazing products and earn money with OpenSky

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Blogger Buzz: Guest post: Discover amazing products and earn money with OpenSky

This is a guest post by John Caplan, founder and CEO of OpenSky. OpenSky allows bloggers, including all Blogger users, to discover unique products and sell those on their blogs. As we are interested in helping our users find various ways to monetize their blogs, we’ve asked John to introduce OpenSky for our users. -- The Blogger team

For most of you, writing a blog is about sharing your passion in a way that connects you with others. That’s why Blogger was created -- to help people have their own voice on the web to share that passion.

We at OpenSky want to empower you to share even more with the people who read your blog. We do this by helping you discover great products and giving you the ability to share those products on your blog. Not only will you deepen your relationships with your readers, but you’ll also earn money from every sale.

Most everyone who reads your blog probably loves discovering new products, especially unique items that they wouldn’t find in a giant chain store. And your readers will especially love learning about stuff from someone they trust, like you.

That’s why blogging and product recommendations work so well together.

How OpenSky works

OpenSky is a free platform that empowers you to discover and sell unique products that speak to your passion. So you can hook up your readers with great things they’ll love.

While most affiliate programs draw away your audience, on OpenSky you’ll drive readers to an environment dedicated to you and your products.

For every sale you make we split the profits 50/50, which means you can make up to 4x more than a run-of-the-mill affiliate program. We take care of all the order processing, fulfillment and customer service. You get all the credit.

Sign up now, and discover great new products today.

What People Are Saying About OpenSky

Fast Company described us the best when they said:

"OpenSky may have cracked the code for web publishers and small e-tailers, delivering profits to both while helping consumers with a pain-free shopping experience."

Also, see what The New York Times, LA Times, VentureBeat, TechCrunch have written, or watch this video about us from Good Morning America:

Join us (and start selling) today.

[G] “Fred: The Movie” comes to YouTube

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YouTube Blog: “Fred: The Movie” comes to YouTube

may have heard of a lil’ someone called Fred, the squealing,
hyperactive force behind the first YouTube channel to hit 1 million
subscribers. Since he hit that milestone in April 2009, he’s amassed
more than 2 million subscribers on YouTube and his videos have been
viewed more than 616 million (!) times. Oh yeah -- he made a movie, too.

In honor of “Fred: The Movie
joining the YouTube corpus for rent, we asked the Nebraskan teenager
who plays Fred, Lucas Cruikshank, to take us behind the scenes of his
movie, tell us what was in his trailer (was he a diva?!), and to spill
the beans on the YouTube videos he can’t live without.

1) Some people say the movie’s Fred character is different than Fred in YouTube videos. Do you agree?
a little different than the high-pitched voice on YouTube videos and
that’s because I think the audience would get annoyed listening to that
voice for the duration of the film. Fred is still obnoxious, but I toned
it down for the movie, so he’s not as crazy as in his YouTube videos.
He is more energetic and hyper in those videos. The movie consists of a
theme rather than random videos, creating a need for calmer, storyline
sequences with Fred.

2) Describe your on-set trailer. What was in it?
am used to being all by myself when shooting my YouTube videos and this
was completely different because there was a whole crew and service men
placed around the set. It was my first trailer, which had a shower,
kitchen, and that was a big change from just me with my camera. There
were team members with ideas and creative input versus me making all
decisions with editing. It was a good change. I was thinking of
expanding “Fred” to another medium and need to be open to change and
enjoyed the filming/production process.

3) Tell us a fact about the movie that no one else knows.
realizes how fast the movie was put together; there were meetings in
July with Hollywood producers, and I started shooting in early November.
Shooting ended two months later, around Christmas.

4) What was your inspiration behind creating Fred in the first place?
became addicted to making videos after receiving a video camera for my
13th birthday. My friend recommended checking out YouTube. My show
became poking fun at video bloggers who are telling a story, but I am
blogging at the age of six, when kids are naïve and throw tantrums. I
exaggerate all these naïve and child-like qualities in a high-pitch

5) What advice would you give others in your place?
would say have fun making videos. There is a notion of getting famous
overnight, but you need to be patient and love what you do. I was making
videos since 2006 and two years later, it took off, and the videos got
popular. You should focus on creativity, not just views or subscribers,
and be passionate about it.

Charu Magon, Partnerships, recently rented “Fred: The Movie.”


[G] Bowls and Learning

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Official Google Research Blog: Bowls and Learning

Posted by Phil Long, Research Team

It is easy to find the bottom of a bowl no matter where you start -- if you toss a marble anywhere into the bowl, it will roll downhill and find its way to the bottom.

What does this have to do with Machine Learning? A natural way to try to construct an accurate classifier is to minimize the number of prediction errors the classifier makes on training data. The trouble is, even for moderate-sized data sets, minimizing the number of training errors is a computationally intractable problem. A popular way around this is to assign different training errors different costs and to minimize the total cost. If the costs are assigned in a certain way (according to a “convex loss function”), the total cost can be efficiently minimized the way a marble rolls to the bottom of a bowl.

In a recent paper, Rocco Servedio and I show that no algorithm that works this way can achieve a simple and natural theoretical noise-tolerance guarantee that can be achieved by other kinds of algorithms. A result like this is interesting for two reasons: first, it's important to understand what you cannot do with convex optimization in order to get a fuller understanding of what you can do with it. Second, this result may spur more research into noise-tolerant training algorithms using alternative approaches.

[G] YouTube highlights – 10/7/2010

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Official Google Blog: YouTube highlights – 10/7/2010

Welcome to the first in a regular series of YouTube updates. We’ll keep you informed every couple of weeks about new product features, interesting programs to watch, and tips anyone can use to grow your audience on YouTube. Just look for the label “YouTube Highlights” and subscribe to the series. – Ed.

YouTube is where the world comes together to share stories—people around the world upload 24 hours of video every minute and watch more than 2 billion videos every day. We’ve been busy keeping up and adding new features and the last two weeks are no exception. Here are our recent updates:

Farm Aid live stream
This year, Farm Aid broadcast its 25th anniversary concert live on YouTube in HD. If you couldn’t make it for the live event in Milwaukee or online, you can still catch performances from Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews, Norah Jones, Band of Horses, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and others. Farm Aid was founded with the mission to raise awareness about America’s family farms, and to date, it’s raised more than $37 million to better connect urban food lovers with food grown on family farms.

Willie Nelson & Steven Tyler - One Time Too Many (Live at Farm Aid 25)

Video editor enhancements and more languages
We’ve recently announced a handful of new releases to make creating great video content even easier and to bring YouTube to more audiences around the world.

We’ve enhanced our video editor, which lets you combine and trim your videos right on, without installing any software. Now you can rotate your videos via the editor and add transitions, like cross-fades and wipes, between video clips. Just select the transitions tab in the media picker, drag the transition and drop it between any two videos in the storyboard.

YouTube is also now available in seven new languages (Arabic, Bulgarian, Lithuanian, Romanian, Slovenian, Ukrainian and Vietnamese). Welcome!

See details of these and other enhancements in our monthly release notes.

Tips for videomakers
How do you get as many video views as some of our top partners like Fred? Make it easy for viewers to find and watch more of your video content by using annotations and playlists. We recently shared this handy tip you can use to easily let your viewers know what to do or where to go next.

If you’re looking to be the next Quentin Tarantino, the Howcast Filmmakers Program can help address your biggest fears and answer your most burning questions about being a filmmaker in the digital age.

Advertisers and agencies get inspired
With so much popular content on YouTube, many businesses large and small have discovered the cost-effective reach of online video advertising. From Old Spice to Dynomighty, advertisers have found their audience when it comes to marketing their products on YouTube. Find out what makes a successful online campaign and how to appeal to the masses with our latest installment of YouTube Show & Tell, a documentary series featuring the creative minds behind Old Spice, Dynomighty, Axe and Show & Tell itself.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our first roundup of YouTube news. For more information about what we’re up to at YouTube, visit our blog.

Posted by Serena Satyasai, Marketing Manager, The YouTube Team

[G] Virtually travel the Northeastern U.S.

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Google LatLong: Virtually travel the Northeastern U.S.

The Google Earth and Maps Imagery team has just finished pushing out a new set of images for you to explore and enjoy. Fall - when the weather isn’t too hot or too cold - is typically a beautiful season in the the American Northeast, and we’ve made some timely updates in the Poconos and Connecticut to help you see the places you might be planning to visit. For all you folks heading to Washington, D.C. for this month’s Rally to Restore Sanity and the March to Keep Fear Alive, we also recently updated our imagery of the D.C. metro area. Check out the all the sites, prepare for you trip, and don’t forget that you can find metro stops from your Google Maps for mobile app!

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

Washington, D.C.

High Resolution Aerial Updates:
USA: Allentown (PA), Bridgeport (CT), Stamford (CT), Camden County (NC), Washington DC
French Polynesia: Manihi

Countries receiving High Resolution Satellite Updates:
Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Austria, Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Greece, Russia, Turkey, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Mauritania, Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Benin, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo, Angola, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Madagascar, Lesotho, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Israel, Syria, Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines, Korea, Mongolia, Australia, New Zealand

Countries receiving Medium Resolution Satellite Updates:
Cuba, China, India

These updates are currently only available in Google Earth, but they'll also be in Google Maps soon. To get a complete picture of where we updated imagery, download this KML for viewing in Google Earth.

Posted by Matt Manolides, Senior Geo Data Strategist

[G] Shining a Spotlight on Video News

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Google News Blog: Shining a Spotlight on Video News

Posted by Natasha Mohanty, Google News Software Engineer

Today in the U.S. we’re launching a new section in Google News called "Spotlight Video" that showcases popular videos from news channels on YouTube like "NOVA: The Secret Life of Scientists: Jean Berko Gleason" from PBS.

Google News has always helped users find recent articles from a wide variety of sources. But we recognize there are other types of stories that our users are interested in. So last year, we created the Spotlight section to feature stories of more lasting interest. Like the rest of Google News, Spotlight articles are selected by our computer algorithms, but they aren't your typical breaking news. Instead you'll find stories of enduring appeal such as feature articles, investigative reporting and opinion pieces. In fact, Spotlight quickly became one of our most popular sections.

So now we’re shining the spotlight on videos too. In the right-hand column you can find the new Spotlight Video section and check out recently popular news clips, like "Singer-producer Bruno Mars Continues to Rise" from the Associated Press.

If your news organization isn't already making its video content available on YouTube and Google News, we encourage you to get started. More information on how to submit your news videos to Google News can also be found in the News Publishers' Help Center. And here are some additional tips on news search engine optimization.

Side note: today you may have noticed we also modified the left-hand navigation. Now, as you scroll down the page, the navigation menu will move with you. This way, you can always see the sectional and hot topic quick links.

Please tell us what you think and we’ll keep working to improve Google News for you.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

[G] Setting international sales tax rates gets easier

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Official Google Checkout Blog: Setting international sales tax rates gets easier

We’re happy to share an update to merchant tax settings that we hope will make selling internationally even easier. Merchants can now set sales tax rates for all countries supported by Google Checkout from the Tax setup option under the Settings tab in the Checkout Merchant Center.

Specifically, you can specify tax rates to apply to the goods that you ship to over 140 countries, all U.S. states, and all Canadian provinces.

To learn even more about setting sales tax rates, visit our Help Center and let us know what you think in the Merchant Forum.

Posted by Sri Raga Velagapudi, Software Engineer and Satyajeet Salgar, Product Manager

[G] Fill bowl with cereal, add milk, turn on camera

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YouTube Blog: Fill bowl with cereal, add milk, turn on camera

Heather Menicucci, Director, Howcast Filmmakers Program, is writing weekly guest posts for the YouTube blog on filmmaking in the digital age. This is her second post. Her first was “Embracing exploration: being a filmmaker today.”

Partly motivated by wanting to hear why our filmmakers produce Howcast spots or upload to YouTube, and partly curious about what they eat for breakfast, we decided to interview them about web video last Friday morning. Since our filmmakers are all over the world, we had to conduct the interviews remotely and ask them to send in their footage.

It turns out they like to eat cereal, drink juice, and sip coffee. Puzzling creatures. It also turns out they have a lot to say about why they started uploading to the web, what’s great about web video, and what’s not so great. We received over 100 minutes of footage and in the end, produced a five minute video.

From Craig Staggs explaining that he started putting videos on the web, well, because there was nowhere else to put them, to Oriana Syed talking about the pressures of having to produce more quickly (and possibly skimp on her work) to William Reed’s idea that his web projects offer a taste of what he could do with a real budget, all 11 of our filmmakers shared honest valuable insights.

Open a box of your favorite sugary treat, add milk, and watch. Get to know them a little better by checking out some of my favorite Howcast spots they created in the links below. Then, please, send them (and us) your questions by posting them in as comments below or as comments to the video. (But please note: comments are moderated due to spam.) These guys have a lot to say and I’m sure they’d be happy to share more of their experiences producing for the web.

So, without further adieu, we present some of our awesomest filmmakers: Craig Staggs, Dimitri LaBarge, Michael Sanchez, Luke Neumann, Morgan Crossley, Andrew Quinn, Oriana Syed, Barry Michael, William Reed, Mark and Lisa Morrison.

Come back next week for another session of our "Modern 101 for Emerging Digital Filmmakers." Next Friday: our list of websites every filmmaker should know.

Heather Menicucci, Director, Howcast Filmmakers Program, recently watched “ChatRoulette.”