Saturday, March 26, 2011

[G] The DOs and DON’Ts of Google Summer of Code: Student Edition

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Google Open Source Blog: The DOs and DON’Ts of Google Summer of Code: Student Edition

As Google Summer of Code mentoring organization administrators, we are the people who ensure Google Summer of Code runs smoothly within our organizations. Over the past 6 years, contributors to our four open-source projects (Gentoo, KDE, XMPP, and X.Org) have read more than 1,000 student applications and mentored hundreds of successful, and unsuccessful, students.

Based on our experience with Google Summer of Code, we’ve built cultural and community practices that strongly favor successful student projects, integration of code, and conversion of students to long-term contributors. We’ve also seen a lot of things go wrong—repeatedly. We’d like to share these tips and antipatterns with you to raise awareness and help students avoid the same mistakes when taking part in the program. For even more advice, check out the student guide.

Be on your best behavior. Clear, respectful communication is just as important to success today as it was 100 years ago. When you write email or chat on IRC, use complete sentences without any SMS abbreviations (but acronyms are allowed, especially on IRC). If you are unsure about your English skills, there are tools available to help you, such as spell checkers and grammar checkers. On a related note, people want to work with others whose company they enjoy. Be friendly and polite; it’s hard to be too much of either.Make a bad first impression: SMS speech, extremely poor English, rudeness/hostility, etc. These fall into two major categories: failure to communicate and inability to get along with other people. Poor first impressions can seriously damage your chances because both of these problems derail collaboration, which is vital to a successful project. Entirely adequate programmers fail Google Summer of Code because of failures to communicate.
Read all the documentation, so you submit a useful application. Your application should provide all the detail necessary to convince people that you can accomplish your project, and you’re the best person to do it. That means showing you have experience, proving you’ve done research, and providing a concrete plan.Submit a useless application. Many varieties of entirely unhelpful applications exist: the one-sentence wonder, the proposal pasted directly from the ideas page, the free-form text that ignores an application template, and the application submitted to the wrong organization.
Be transparent about other commitments. When organizations know about your commitments in advance, you can work with them to develop a plan that deals with your schedule. For example, you could begin your work at a slower pace during the community-bonding period. If another commitment comes as a surprise to your mentor during the summer, you might not be able to compensate for it.Disappear. If your mentor thinks you have disappeared during the summer, this tends to quickly result in failure. The most common problem is failing to mention long family vacations or class schedules in the summer. Disappearing includes taking the initial payment and running with it; if you’re tempted to do this, you might want to consider the damage to your reputation, or the excited students missing out on a slot so you can waste yours.
Make Google Summer of Code your top priority. During the 12 weeks of coding time, nothing should take precedence over your project, and you should have no major distractions. If you have another job, decide whether you prefer it or Google Summer of Code and pick one. Make your choice early enough to leave your slot open for another student.Hold another major commitment. For example, if you have a second job without telling anyone until the start of coding, it’s a major problem. Anything outside of the program that takes more than 5–6 hours a week causes problems; this includes classes that extend through the coding period. Two simultaneous full-time jobs is unrealistic.
Be realistic about your skills. Think through your past experience. If you have trouble fairly assessing your abilities, just write about your coding experience instead and your org can make its own judgment. Additionally, some orgs will gladly provide small sample tasks that you can perform to judge how easy you’ll find the summer-long projects. Over- or under-rate your abilities. As long as you have some programming skill and are able to communicate well (see above), you should be suitable for some projects. This doesn’t mean that every student is equal if they meet these requirements. Overselling yourself leads to disappointment; underselling yourself the same.
Commit and publicize your code frequently. Discussing your code early and often, with your mentor and the broader community, is vital to the success of your project. Make small, easily recoverable mistakes early rather than huge ones when it’s too late to do anything about them.Make last-minute (or later) code drops. Showing your code in public can be scary. Some students wait until the very last minute to show their code to their mentor and other contributors to the project. Do this only if you have a burning desire to fail, because it’s too late for any review to fix holes in your code.
Submit code that’s ready to integrate. The best thing about an open source project is seeing your own code shipped in a release and used by thousands or even millions of people. This requires some effort on your part, however. You should closely track how other developers change related code so yours can be easily added to the latest development branch as soon as—or even before—the summer ends. During the last few weeks, make sure your code is polished enough so it’s ready to add to the project’s main repository; this may require documentation or test suites. Don’t let your summer’s work go to waste.Finish the summer with code that’s “almost ready” but will take forever to ship. Many students leave their project in a state that is very close to being shippable but isn’t quite there yet. Since the mentor tends to be too busy to finish it, these projects ship very slowly, if ever. It’s your project—you need to make it see the light of the day. This can require you to keep driving the project, and not trust that the mentor will keep on top of it once the summer is over.
Complete your project design before writing a line of code. Work with your mentor to define the architecture of your project before you begin coding. You don’t need to go as far as prototyping every function, but you should have a vision of how it will all eventually work at a reasonable level of detail, such as important data structures and algorithms. Determine the libraries and tools you’ll use, and be able to justify your choices.Start coding before finalizing design. You can hit major dead-ends when you haven’t yet finished working with your mentor to design the project, but you choose to begin coding anyway. For example, if you start coding for a NoSQL backend but your mentor and the rest of the community determine that a standard SQL database should be used, this can necessitate rewriting a lot of code for no reason. Changes on the architectural level can be even more disruptive to any code you’ve written prematurely.
Use your resources wisely. Help is just an email away. Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you get stuck; we don’t expect you to be an expert, and we’re happy to answer your questions. On the other hand, remember to do some basic research on your own before asking, such as searching the project documentation, the source code, and Google.Refuse to ask for help. Throughout the whole program, you will encounter problems that need to be solved—some of them small and some of them large. You can waste days stuck on a problem that can be solved in an hour by talking to other team members.
Remember that you’re part of a community. Very little in Google Summer of Code is 100% independent work. You may propose your project design, but you’ll develop it with the help of your mentor and community. You’ll write the code, but others will review it, and you’ll often build upon their previous work. Unlike school, where a grade could be your first feedback, in Google Summer of Code your grade (pass/fail) is your last feedback. By designing and developing your project in collaboration with your entire open-source community, you’ll get people excited about using your work and ready to integrate it. You’ll also give yourself the best chance of passing the program by receiving thorough reviews from your community and responding to them. Many students choose to continue contributing after the summer ends because of their interactions with the community.Consider it a solo project, like it often is in college. It’s not; you write the code, but your mentor is there to help with plans, designs etc. Your mentor is not like a lecturer or course leader at a college or university. There’s a whole community of people working on the project together, and you should interact with them as a whole. Don’t feel like you’re working for your mentor, you’re working for the community and your mentor is helping guide you, they are not your only point of contact. This has other implications too—other people will be working on the code base while you are, and you will see improvements happening around you as you code. You may need to keep your development branch up to date to take advantage of these.

Making Google Summer of Code the best possible program requires a commitment to excellence from participants at every level. In addition to committing to the program, you must also be thoroughly prepared.

In this post we’ve provided suggestions for students, and in later posts in this series we’ll cover mentors and admins. Whatever role you would like to play in Google Summer of Code or a similar program, read everything you can find so you know what you’re getting into. Good luck, and have fun in your endeavors.

By Donnie Berkholz, Lydia Pintscher, and Kevin Smith, Google Summer of Code Administrators for Gentoo & X.Org, KDE, and XMPP Standards Foundation respectively

[G] The Parrot Foundation Reflects on Google Code-in

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Google Open Source Blog: The Parrot Foundation Reflects on Google Code-in

A few of the folks at The Parrot Foundation, one of the mentoring organizations for Google Code-in this year, have offered their assessment of the Google Code-in program. They discuss the wonderful students they worked with over seven busy weeks this winter along with a note to the students that participated in the Google Code-in below.

At first, I was skeptical about whether Parrot should be part of Google Code-in 2010. I was worried that it would be impossible to create small doable tasks for high-school students related to Parrot, and whether it would take up too much developer time to get students up to speed.

Fortunately, I was completely wrong. I was blown away by the caliber of the students that did Parrot-related tasks. They actually rivaled the quality of Google Summer of Code students. Since Google Code-in focused more on mentorship and less on getting a summer stipend, I think it attracted different kinds of students.

Commits to the Parrot Github repo *exploded* during Google Code-in, they almost buried us in pull requests (which isn't a bad thing!) I couldn't believe that high school students were fixing bugs in our cryptography libraries, or improving integration with GDB or refactoring Parrot internals. And to top it off, Google Code-in students translated our README to at least five new languages! Google Code-in literally made the top high school students in the world crawl out of the woodwork.

Not to mention that in the time I have been a Parrot Core Developer, I have never seen such an increase in participation on our IRC channel. Google Code-in added more new faces to our community in a few months than we usually see in a year.

I highly recommend Google Code-in to any organization that is trying to draw in new people. I don't know if anything else can compete with it.

Jonathan “Duke” Leto, Organization Administrator for Parrot Foundation


The most fascinating thing about the 2010-11 Google Code-in for me was the fact that during the peak of the competition we would have four or five Google Code-in students conversing with each other on the Parrot Project's IRC channel, #parrot. These students lived in at least four different countries (U.S., Brazil, France, New Zealand). There were many hours late at night (U.S. time) when all the regular Parrot developers had gone to bed -- but the Google Code-in students kept chatting and hacking away! If only we could harness that energy year-round!

Jim Keenan, Parrot Foundation Mentor


This is a cross-post of part of a blog from the Parrot Foundation directed to the Google Code-in students that participated on their project. For the complete post please click here.

When we Parrot developers first decided that Parrot would be participating in the Google Code-in program, I was quite skeptical. Most of our initial tasks were for translations and many didn't seem to me like they'd help Parrot as a project, especially since Google Code-in was a new (and untested) initiative. If you'd asked me what I though before the start of Google Code-in, I'd say that I had low expectations but would be glad if proven wrong.

I'm glad to say that the amount and quality of the contributions we've received from Google Code-in students has proven me very wrong. We've had a few low-quality results, but the large majority have been of excellent quality. Over the course of Google Code-in, we've added thousands of lines of tests and code, squashed lots of bugs and had several reported, and have increased our test coverage by about 3.5%, all of which represents a great deal of work for a large project like Parrot. As Google Code-in progressed, we've even been able to bump up the difficulty of our "difficult"-rated tasks substantially to challenge our most ambitious students. Parrot is much better off because of the efforts of all of you.

I hope to see all of you continue to make contributions to Parrot after the end of Google Code-in. Your incentives will be different from now on, but they'll also become much more exciting. If you're interested and don't know quite what you want to do, we'll always try to help you find something awesome to keep you busy. Please stick around and keep on hacking!

Christoph Otto, Architect, Parrot VM


Thank you Parrot Foundation and all of our other mentoring organizations and the amazing students for making Google Code-in a huge success!

By Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Programs Office

[G] Googler Eric Clayberg joins Eclipse Foundation Board

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Google Open Source Blog: Googler Eric Clayberg joins Eclipse Foundation Board

Google Software Engineering Manager Eric Clayberg has been elected by the Eclipse community as a Sustaining Member Representative on the Eclipse Foundation Board of Directors for the 2011-12 term. The announcement was made yesterday at the Annual General Meeting during the kick-off of EclipseCon 2011 in Santa Clara, CA. As a member of the Board of Directors, Eric will help oversee the policies and strategic direction of the Eclipse Foundation.

Eric works on the Google Plugin for Eclipse (GPE) team at Google and he was formerly with Instantiations, a company known for its focus on Eclipse Java developer tools, that was acquired by Google in 2010. Eric is also a Project Lead for the new open source WindowBuilder project at “I have been involved with Eclipse since 1999 and have always been a strong supporter of Eclipse community interests. I look forward to bringing Google scale thinking and inventiveness to my new role as board member.”

Google has been a longtime supporter of the the Eclipse Community. In addition to open sourcing Eclipse tools, Eclipse Labs is powered by Google Project Hosting and we have hosted Eclipse Days at the Googleplex in 2010, 2009, and 2008. Several Googlers will speak at EclipseCon sessions this year, including:
We hope to see you you at EclipseCon 2011!

Bruce Johnson and Chris Ramsdale, Google Developer Tools Team

[G] Now Playing: the YouTube Symphony Orchestra Augmented Reality Experiment

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Google Open Source Blog: Now Playing: the YouTube Symphony Orchestra Augmented Reality Experiment

The YouTube Symphony Orchestra is built on technology and innovation–musicians audition by uploading videos of themselves performing, and then YouTube viewers select who they want to participate in the live-streamed performance. Yesterday the YouTube Symphony Orchestra 2011 performed their Grand Finale Concert* from the Sydney Opera House, which was live-streamed around the world on YouTube.

Even though the performance is now over, the music and innovation continues! The 2011 YouTube Symphony Orchestra's Augmented Reality “Experiment” is an interactive way for fans to make some music of their own. By waving an easily made marker in front of a webcam, users can create and record music on a virtual instrument, then share their creations with friends. This virtual instrument was created as a collaboration between YouTube, Tellart, and Hyundai, and in the spirit of innovation, the software for the performance interface (the augmented reality application that actually makes the music) is now open source. You can now download the source and build an augmented reality instrument of your own. More details are available on the YTSO AR Instrument Project website.

By Ellen Ko, Open Source Team

*The performance was accompanied by sophisticated projections on the interior and the exterior on the iconic sails. A helicopter was used to laser map the sails in 3D to make it happen!


[G] Mentoring Organizations for Google Summer of Code Announced

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Google Open Source Blog: Mentoring Organizations for Google Summer of Code Announced

We are pleased to announce the list of mentoring organizations that have been accepted for this year’s Google Summer of Code program. After reviewing 417 applications, we have have narrowed the list to 175 open source projects, 50 of which are new to Google Summer of Code. You can visit our Google Summer of Code 2011 program website for a complete list of the accepted projects.

Students wishing to apply for Google Summer of Code will have the next 10 days to learn more about the accepted projects before student applications open on Monday, March 28, 2011 at 19:00 UTC.

Students will want to pay close attention to the Ideas Pages for the organizations they wish to work with over the summer and consider how they would like to contribute to the project. Some of the most successful proposals have been completely new ideas submitted by students, so if you don’t see a project that appeals to you, don’t be afraid to suggest something. Organizations have listed points of contact on their Ideas Page so students can contact the organization directly to submit a new proposal. All organizations list their preferred method of communication on the organization homepage which is available on the Google Summer of Code program website. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

Congratulations to all of our future mentoring organizations! We look forward to working with all of you during this exciting 7th year of Google Summer of Code!

By Stephanie Taylor, Open Source Programs Office

Friday, March 25, 2011

[G] This week in search 3/25/11

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Official Google Blog: This week in search 3/25/11

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.

Time is a precious commodity for most of us. To save you more precious seconds as you search, we’ve introduced Google Instant in Places View and redesigned the Google Search app for iPhone for faster, easier searching—whether you’re on your way out or already on the go.

Instant for Places View
As part of our ongoing effort to give you the Instant experience everywhere on Google, this week we’ve enabled Instant in Places View so you can find where you want to go even more quickly. To get to Places View, click “Places” in the left-hand panel; once you’re there, any search you perform will have place and map results that update as you type. We’ll continue to expand Instant to all views, languages and domains over the next few months.

Google Search app for iPhone
The redesigned Google Search app for iPhone, formerly known as Google Mobile App, improves the Google search experience on iOS mobile devices, giving you intuitive gesture controls. First, when browsing through search results or looking at a webpage, you can swipe down to see the search bar to type in a new query or change your settings.

The redesigned home screen of Google Search app

There’s also a new toolbar that makes it easier for you to filter your results—for example, if you only want to see images or shopping results. You can open this toolbar by swiping from left to right.

The toolbar helps you filter your results

Plus, now it’s easier to pick up searching where you left off. If you leave the app and come back later, you’ll be able to get back to exactly where you were by tapping on the lower part of the page. To use the Google Search app, download or update it in the iTunes App Store.

Search in Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ)
With translation help from the Cherokee Nation staff and community members, we’ve added Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ) as an interface language on Google. You can set Cherokee as your default from the Language Tools page (available to the right of the search box). We’ve also included an on-screen Cherokee keyboard—which you can access by clicking the icon at the right side of the search box—for people who don’t have a physical Cherokee keyboard.

Posted by Ben Gomes, Google Fellow

[G] Google Apps highlights – 3/25/2011

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Official Google Blog: Google Apps highlights – 3/25/2011

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.

We’ve been busy over the last few weeks adding better discussion tools to Google Docs, improving collaboration within traditional productivity software and making it faster and easier to work with information in your email inbox. Google Apps administrators can also now view detailed information about how their users are being more productive with our collaboration tools, and control how quickly new features are released to their organizations.

Better discussions in Google documents
Productive discussions can help teams write better documents, and last Wednesday we introduced improvements to how you can converse about documents within Google Docs. Profile pictures and timestamps make it easy to see who made a comment and when, and you can direct a comment to someone using an @mention. You can follow discussions with notifications right in your inbox—and even continue a discussion from your inbox by replying to the notification email. Instead of deleting a discussion when it’s wrapped up to remove clutter, you can now mark discussions as resolved so you can go back later and see how the discussion played out.

Data filtering, new chart options and more in Google spreadsheets
We’ve added a heap of frequently requested features to Google spreadsheets over the last few weeks. First, you can now filter spreadsheet data to hone in on rows that match criteria you set as filter options. For example, a sales manager could choose to view transactions processed by Peter and Phil, but not those managed by Andrew, Cindy and the rest of the sales team.


We’ve also improved charting in spreadsheets by making it possible to plot non-contiguous data. Multiple chart ranges help you create great charts without rearranging your data.

In addition, you can now hide cell gridlines or entire sheets in Google spreadsheets—giving your spreadsheets a cleaner look by removing extraneous formatting and data from view until you need it at a later time.


Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office
As we continue to add functionality to Google Docs, many people are finding that that they no longer need software-based word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software. And now we also have an alternative for people who want streamlined collaboration but aren’t quite ready for 100% web productivity tools. Google Cloud Connect for Microsoft Office brings multi-person editing, automatic backup and complete revision history to Microsoft Word®, Excel® and PowerPoint® in Microsoft Office® 2003, 2007 and 2010. By bringing this functionality to existing versions of Microsoft Office, organizations can work more efficiently with the software that they’ve already paid for and implemented.

Smart Labels in Gmail Labs
Chances are, you get lots of email from newsletters, group mailing lists, account alerts and other automated systems. These messages aren’t spam, but they’re probably not your most important emails either. To help you separate and organize these kinds of messages, we introduced the Smart Labels feature in Gmail Labs. Once you turn on this feature from the Labs tab in Gmail settings, Gmail will automatically categorize incoming Bulk, Forum and Notification messages and label them appropriately, removing clutter in your inbox to help your most important messages stand out.

Improved attachment viewing in Gmail
We’ve also made viewing attachments in Gmail faster, easier, more affordable and more secure by adding browser-based attachment viewing for 12 more file types: .XLS, .XLSX, .PPTX, .PAGES, .AI, .PSD, .DXF, .SVG, .EPS, .PS, .TTF and .XPS. So instead of downloading attachments and then opening files with software you may or may not have for each format, you can just click the “View” link next to the attachment in Gmail. This will instantly display the attachment in your browser—no software required.

Collaboration dashboard for Google Apps customers
To help customers see the productivity benefits of Google Apps at a glance, we recently introduced a new collaboration dashboard. From the Google Apps administrative control panel, IT managers can view insights about how their users are working together with Google Docs. This dashboard offers a new level of transparency that traditional software can’t offer, and we think this kind of information will help businesses invest in technologies that actually get put to use, not software that—according to customers—sometimes sits idle after being installed.

New Google Apps release process
Our customers love Google Apps for lots of reasons, but the ability to rapidly get new features—like the ones described in this post—without having to install complex patches or upgrades rises to the top. Instead of large, disruptive batches of new features that only come every few years, people see a continuous stream of better functionality week after week. Still, some customers with more complex IT environments have asked for a bit more advanced notice so they can prepare for what’s coming. For these organizations, we’ve introduced a new release process for Google Apps features. Customers can choose to get new features immediately when they’re available, or have at least a week to prepare for new features after they’re initially introduced. Along with this new choice, we’ve launched, where customers can learn more about new features in the process of being released.

Who’s gone Google?
The pace of new customers coming onto Google Apps continues to accelerate among schools, businesses and other organizations. In the world of education, we’re happy to welcome the University of Alberta, Anhanguera Educational and thousands of other schools to Google Apps. In fact, over 50 percent of the NCAA® Championship bracket has gone Google!

We also invite you to read how businesses and government agencies including Dominion Enterprises, Macomb County Circuit Court and Clerk, Revevol, Mad Genius, Cadillac Fairview, Sun Windows, Hammock and The Standard Agency are saving money and helping workers be more productive with Google Apps, joining more than 3 million other businesses that have gone Google.

I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog.

Posted by Jeremy Milo, Google Apps Marketing Manager

[G] Thank you for your generosity for Japan relief efforts

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Official Google Checkout Blog: Thank you for your generosity for Japan relief efforts

We want to thank everyone who has contributed towards the relief efforts in Japan using Google Checkout. You’ve donated more than $5 million to the Japanese Red Cross Society, International Medical Corps, Unicef and Save the Children.

We are waiving the processing fees associated with these transactions for all the organizations listed on the Google Crisis Response page so 100% of your donations will reach these organizations.

To learn more about the crisis, the relief efforts, and how you can help, please visit the Crisis Response page.

Posted by Satyajeet Salgar, Product Manager

[G] We’re turning off our lights, in honor of Earth Hour

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YouTube Blog: We’re turning off our lights, in honor of Earth Hour

In 2007, organizers in Sydney came up with the idea for Earth Hour, a specific time when local residents would conserve energy by collectively turning off their lights. Since then, Earth Hour has grown into a global movement. In 2010, people in 128 countries voluntarily switched off their lights to take part in this event and demonstrate their commitment to the Earth. Learn more:

Earth Hour 2011 will take place on Saturday, March 26, from 8:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. (your local time) and this year YouTube is joining the movement by “turning the lights down” on the site. During this hour, the YouTube watch page will be darkened. If you prefer the normal watch page experience, there will be the option to turn the light switch back “on”.

Remember, you can also participate in this global event by signing up at and turning off your own lights at 8:30 p.m.

Ramya Raghavan, YouTube News and Politics, recently watched “Earth Hour Challenge”.


[G] Google search now supports Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ)

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Official Google Blog: Google search now supports Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ)

With the help of Cherokee Nation staff and community members, we’ve added Cherokee (ᏣᎳᎩ) as an interface language on Google, making a small contribution towards preserving one of the world’s endangered languages.

You can now select Cherokee as your default from the Language Tools page (available from the right of the search box), and the entire Google interface will transform into Cherokee:

We’ve also included an on-screen Cherokee keyboard on the search page through the Google Virtual Keyboard API. This makes it easier for people to search web content in Cherokee without a physical Cherokee keyboard. To access the keyboard, simply click the icon at the right side of the search box.

Cherokee is an Iroquoian language spoken by the Cherokee people. The Cherokee syllabary writing system was developed by Sequoyah in the early 19th century. He realized the power of writing systems, and wanted his people to benefit from that power. Some of the 85 characters he developed for his syllabary were modified from his original handwritten script for a printing press in the 1820s, resulting in characters that resemble Latin and Greek letters. Despite the resemblance, they are pronounced differently. The modified script was quickly adapted for printing Cherokee newspapers, books and pamphlets. The adoption and use of the script enabled the Cherokee people to maintain their language and culture. Today, Cherokee is spoken mostly in the states of Oklahoma and North Carolina. (The Cherokee Nation is the sovereign operating government of the Cherokee people. It is a federally recognized tribe of more than 300,000 Cherokee citizens, with its capital located in Tahlequah, Okla. To learn more, please visit

We’re honored to have the opportunity to continue this tradition, and we’d like to thank the Cherokee Nation for working with us to translate the interface for Google search into Cherokee.

Search is now available in 146 interface languages—and the list is growing. If you speak an endangered language that you would like us to support, please sign up for Google in Your Language and submit community translations.

Update 10:26 AM: You can find the press release from the Cherokee Nation here.

Posted by ᏇᎩ (Craig Cornelius), Software Engineer, Internationalization

[G] Imagery Update (and Kansas Basketball)

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Google LatLong: Imagery Update (and Kansas Basketball)

We’re in the middle of college basketball Madness here in the U.S. and the best is yet to come. Tomorrow night, the Kansas Jayhawks will play the Richmond Spiders in a Sweet Sixteen match-up at the Alamodome in Texas. I’ll proudly admit that I’m a Kansas fan and hoping to see my home team make it to the Finals. But I’m not the only college hoops fan at Google. In fact, our Geo team put together a special page that shows an up-to-date schedule with schools and stadiums.

In our latest imagery push, we (coincidentally) added new imagery of Lawrence, Kansas and a new 3D model of the Allen Fieldhouse, possibly the best basketball venue on Earth. As a longtime Lawrence resident and KU alumnus, I still remember my first games in the “Phog” when I was in junior high school, watching from the upper bleachers. The Fieldhouse has aged well with the new Booth Family Hall of Athletics and the parking additions.

When I’m feeling like I need even more of a dose of home, it’s also great to be able to check out some of my favorite places back in Lawrence through Google Earth and Google Maps. With the new high-resolution aerial imagery, you can now see many changes including the updates to Memorial Stadium and the large practice fields.

Additional basketball-related updates include Gainesville (Florida), Tallahassee (Florida State), and Manhattan, the Little Apple (Kansas State [5]). We’ve also updated many other locations around the world that can be seen and discovered in our latest batch of published imagery including major updates in Sydney, Tokyo, Stockholm and significant parts of Ireland.

High Resolution Aerial Updates:
USA: Boca Raton, FL; West Palm Beach, FL; Port St Lucie, FL; Crystal River, FL; Ocala, FL; Gainesville, FL; Tallahassee, FL; Valdosta, GA; Savannah, GA; Jackson County, GA; Bedford County, PA; Cumberland County, PA; Manhattan, KS; Topeka, KS; Lawrence, KS
Wales: Northern Half
Scotland: Hawick
Japan: Tokyo; Kawasaki; Yokosuka
Australia: Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra

Countries/Regions receiving High Resolution Satellite Updates:
Antarctica, United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama, Bolivia, Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Madagascar, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, Central Africa, Niger, Ivory Coast, Togo, Liberia, Senegal, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Yemen, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, India, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Taiwan, North Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Croatia, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Greenland

These updates are now available in both Google Maps and Google Earth. To get a complete picture of where we updated imagery, download this KML for viewing in Google Earth.

Posted by Brian McClendon, VP, Google Earth and Maps

[G] Marine debris is everyone’s problem

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Google LatLong: Marine debris is everyone’s problem

Marine debris is a global problem affecting everything from the environment to the economy; from fishing and navigation to human health and safety; from the tiniest coral polyps to giant blue whales. Marine debris also comes in many forms, from a cigarette butt to a 4,000-pound derelict fishing net. To help show the breadth of this problem, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has created a KML tour for Google Earth. Download this tour in the Ocean Gallery. Or, watch the Google Earth video below to learn more about the marine debris.

The Fifth International Marine Debris Conference will take place March 20-25, 2011, in Honolulu, Hawaii. NOAA and the United Nations Environment Programme are co-organizers of the conference which will bring together international marine debris researchers, natural resource managers, policy makers, industry representatives, and the nongovernmental community. This conference will highlight research advances, allow sharing of strategies and best practices to assess, reduce, and prevent the impacts of marine debris, and provide an opportunity for the development of specific bilateral or multi-country strategies.

Marine debris is a problem we can solve together. Although marine debris is found worldwide, we can all help with the smallest actions. Reduce, reuse, recycle, and participate in local beach or stream cleanups. If we each do a little, together we can make a big difference. Dive deeper into this issue at

Posted by Michele Jacobi, Environmental Scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

[G] New Maps domains in 11 countries in Middle East & North Africa

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Google LatLong: New Maps domains in 11 countries in Middle East & North Africa

[Cross-posted from the Google Arabia Blog - in Arabic]

With the growing numbers of Internet users in the region, we noticed that a huge number of search queries have a geographic component. So, we’ve been working on providing rich, local geographic data to offer you the best local experience possible and today we are announcing the launch of local Google Maps domains for 11 countries across the region.

Now, Google Maps will be easily accessible from your local search domain in Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. You’ll also be able to use it in Arabic as well as English and French for some countries. You can use Google Maps to search for a city, navigate your way around towns, or find a local business. This could be a Falafel place in Amman, a hotel in Cairo, or a restaurant in Jeddah.

Having access to maps on your local domain is more than just finding your way from A to B. There are many ways that businesses and individuals can contribute to making Google Maps in your country more useful and more accurate. Check out some of the following features:

Use My Maps to create your own personalized maps, for example a customized map of your favourite places in your neighborhood to share your experiences with others.

Maps in Algeria, Libya, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar have been made possible in large part by passionate users mapping their countries via Google Map Maker, which is available across the world in more than 180 countries and regions. Map Maker allows you to use your local knowledge to practically edit the entire map - from roads, businesses, parks, schools and more. Users have mapped out entire countries or just made their neighborhoods look stunning. Starting today Google Map Maker is now launched in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

It is also possible to include a Google map on your own website. You can display information - like a restaurant location or directions - on a Google map and embed it in your website using our Google Maps API. There are many great sites already using the API to share customized information on Google maps. For the developers and webmasters amongst you, the possibilities are endless.

Happy mapping!

Posted by AbdelKarim Mardini, Product Manager, Middle East & North Africa

[G] Explore the world with updated apps for iPhone: Check in with Latitude and use Places in 30 languages

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Google LatLong: Explore the world with updated apps for iPhone: Check in with Latitude and use Places in 30 languages

(Cross-posted from the Google Mobile Blog.)
We’re happy to announce updates for two iPhone apps that help you connect the people you care about with the places you love: Google Latitude with check-ins and Google Places in 30 languages.

Check in with Google Latitude for iPhone
After adding check-ins to Google Latitude for Android-powered devices, we’re happy to announce that you can now start checking in at places with the updated Latitude app for iPhone.

With Google Latitude, you can see where your Latitude friends are on a map and choose to continuously share where you are. Now, you can also choose to check in at specific places, such as your favorite restaurant or a park, to add more context to your location. You'll be able to not only let friends know that you’re just around the corner but also let them know the actual coffee shop that you’re at in case they want to join you. If Latitude is set to continuously update your location, you’ll also be automatically checked out when you leave. This way, friends aren’t left guessing if you’re still there or not before heading over to join you for a latte.

Tap the “Check in” button to start checking in at nearby places. Keep checking in every time you visit your favorite places to start gaining special status there. You’ll not only progress to become a Regular, VIP, and then Guru at your favorite places, but if you’re near Austin, Texas, gaining status lets you unlock check-in offers at over 60 places.

Just like with sharing your location, you can control your Latitude check-in privacy. Checking in is 100% opt-in, and you can choose to share any check-in with your friends on Latitude, publicly on the web and your Google profile, or just yourself.

To start checking in with Latitude on your iPhone, update the Latitude app from the App Store. The app requires iOS 4 and above, and it's available for iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, and iPod touch (3rd/4th generation). However, background location updating is only available on the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPad 3G.

Google Places in 30 languages
Best ever! Me gusta! Mi piace! Ich liebe es! Wherever you are and whatever language you speak, we want to give you the best personalized place recommendations when you use Google Places with Hotpot. Update the Google Places app from the App Store to rate on the go and get personalized recommendations for places in 30 languages.

You’ll also have one more way to personalize your experience: saved places. Sign in with your Google Account using the info icon in the top left corner. Then, tap the new “Saved” icon on the app’s main screen to see all the places that you’ve saved or starred from the app, or

Updates will appear in the App Store in supported countries throughout today. Get the latest version of Google Places from the App Store and start discovering great new places wherever you are!

Posted by Greg Blevins, Software Engineer, Google Maps for mobile team

[G] The New Google Analytics: Dashboards

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Google Analytics Blog: The New Google Analytics: Dashboards

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting the new Google Analytics. The new version of Google Analytics is currently available in beta to a small number of Analytics users. We’ll be giving access to more users soon. Sign up for early access.

Today, we would like to introduce you to the new dashboards that is available in the new version of Google Analytics announced last week.

Custom Dashboards
For most Google Analytics users, the dashboard is the first thing you see when viewing your reports. Dashboards in the new version of Google Analytics have been redesigned to be completely widget-based and highly customizable. There are four types of widgets: Metric, Pie Chart, Timeline, and Table. This gives you the ability to choose the visualization that best suits the data you want in your dashboard. The Dashboard uses a three-column layout, and you can customize the layout by dragging and dropping the widgets as you’d like.

  • Metric: Shows the value of a metric and a sparkline of that metric over the selected time period
  • Pie Chart: Best suited for displaying breakdowns of a metric by a certain dimension. E.g., Visits by Browser Type.
  • Timeline: A graph of any metric over time. You can also compare two metrics in the same graph.
  • Table: Think of this as a mini-custom report. You can show one dimension with two metrics and up to 10 rows of data in a table.
Multiple Dashboards
A common request we heard from you all is that one dashboard isn’t enough. You told us that wanted the ability to customize multiple dashboards for different analyses. Thanks to the new Google Analytics platform, we’re happy to give you the power to create multiple custom dashboards, up to 20 per profile. You might start with an overall “Company KPIs” Dashboard that includes the most important performance indicators for your company, then create an “SEO” Dashboard for your search engine optimization efforts, and a “Content” Dashboard that centers around the content of your website. We’d love to hear what you do with the other 17 slots.

Going Forward
The core functionality for the new dashboards is ready for you to use, but this isn’t everything we’ve planned for dashboards in the new version. Because we are so excited about the new Dashboard, we decided to make its core features available to you first. For starters, we still need to bring some of the features from the current dashboard over, such as the ability to share, email, and export a Dashboard. We are actively working on them (along with many other improvements), so please stay tuned.

We hope you will find the Dashboards in the new Analytics easy and fun to use. Happy Dashboarding!

Posted by Yi Wang, Product Manager, Google Analytics Team

[G] A fond farewell to Connection Speed

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Google Analytics Blog: A fond farewell to Connection Speed

Google Analytics helps you measure how visitors arrive to your site. For example, by traffic source, geography, landing pages, and other dimensions. Unfortunately, we’re no longer able to offer data on one of these dimensions: Connection Speed, and we are now in the process of deprecating the Connection Speed dimension.

You will still be able to access historical connection speed data prior to February 25th, 2011 through the current version of Google Analytics and the Google Analytics API. The Connection Speed report in the current version of Analytics will be removed next week. However, you can continue to use Connection Speed as a dimension in custom reports. For the Google Analytics API, we plan to remove this dimension in three months. Again, this is only for historical data before February 25th, 2011.

If you rely on Connection Speed to understand the effect of page load time and latency, we’re working on a solution for you that we expect to have ready in the coming weeks.

Posted by Trevor Claiborne, Google Analytics Team

[G] Issue with AdSense reports

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Google Analytics Blog: Issue with AdSense reports

Users of the AdSense reports inside of Google Analytics may have noticed that there have been discrepancies between the AdSense reports in Google Analytics and AdSense since March 16th. We’re aware of the issue and a fix is being rolled out at this time. The cause of the issue is not related to the new version of Google Analytics.

We’ll continue to update this post when the issue is resolved, and you can also follow along on the Google Analytics Status Dashboard.

Update: 3/22/2011 5:15pm PST - A fix for this issue was released early this morning. It will take a few more hours for the fix reach all users. AdSense reports should be working normally after that. Unfortunately, we are not able to reprocess the data that was affected by this issue.

Posted by Trevor Claiborne, Google Analytics Team

[G] This week's Trends: Rebecca Black, global hits, and babies

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YouTube Blog: This week's Trends: Rebecca Black, global hits, and babies

Each weekday, we at YouTube Trends take a look at the most interesting videos and cultural phenomena on YouTube as they develop. We want take a moment to highlight some of what we've come across this week:

  • We tracked the influx of Rebecca Black covers and parodies that hit YouTube as the 13-year-old became a national phenomenon.

  • We looked at how popular cartoonists in Jordan have reacted to the major events taking place in North Africa and the Middle East.

  • We studied the search and viewing data behind March's three biggest trends.

  • We looked at some of the most popular viral clips from around the world.

  • We teamed up with to explore why it is that family videos become so popular.

  • And we watched as Pixar Animator and YouTube Singer Nick Pitera's new Disney medley quickly picked up over a million views and became a most-shared clip:

Check back every day for the latest about what's trending on YouTube at:

Kevin Allocca, YouTube Trends Manager, recently watched "Tornado in Hempfield."