Saturday, October 29, 2011

[G] Driving directions, biking directions … and now, carving directions!

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Google LatLong: Driving directions, biking directions … and now, carving directions!


We just couldn’t resist combining two of our favorite pastimes: pumpkin carving and geeking out about Maps. Behold: Pumpkin carving sheets to show off your Maps, Earth and SketchUp pride. Just click this link, hit print, and follow the how-to instructions.


Think you got skills? Let’s see ’em! We want to build a photo gallery of your finest work. Just send a photo of your Maps pumpkin our way on Google+ or Twitter using the hashtag #gmapspumpkin. Bonus points — and infinite bragging rights — for anyone who can pull off that Pegman.

Posted by Vanessa Schneider, Maps and Places community manager
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2011/10/driving-directions-biking-directions.html

[G] A prima ballerina vs. some very angry birds: this year’s Halloween search trends

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Official Google Blog: A prima ballerina vs. some very angry birds: this year’s Halloween search trends

The pumpkins are carved, the spiderwebs are hanging,
Kids and their pets are door-to-door banging,
Witches on their brooms and owls on their perches,
Let’s take a look at some Halloween searches.


Halloween searches are some of our favorite trends to look at all year. Using Insights for Search and some internal data, we took a peek at which costumes and candies are on top in the United States.

This year seems to be about the battle of the birds. Searches for [angry birds costume], based on the game phenomenon that has so many of us addicted, have been steadily rising in 2011, and we’re seeing 10 times more search volume this year than last. But as of mid-October, the Angry Birds were overtaken in search by [black swan costume]. The Darren Aronofsky ballet drama seems poised to be the most popular costume idea by All Hallows Eve, with related searches for everything from [black tutu] to [black corset]. Some are even looking to be the alter ego [white swan].


Meanwhile, search data doesn’t seem to show that anyone is too anxious to be the object of the Angry Birds’ rage—at least not independently from their sworn enemies. Although [angry birds costume] is one of the top 10 fastest-rising searches related to [pig costume] over the last 90 days, another three are focused on a much sweeter piglet, the cartoon favorite Olivia.


Birds aside, this year’s fastest rising costumes in the U.S. overall are inspired by a variety of sources from pop culture over the past year, including TV shows—[pan am], [wilfred]—movies—[smurfette], [tron], [captain america]—pop music—[nicki minaj]—and more [monster high].

In fact, we may have a battle of the pop goddesses on our hands as well as a battle of the birds. During 2009 and 2010, homegrown Lady Gagas were trick-or-treating throughout the country, but while Lady Gaga still rules the music charts, she’s a far less popular costume choice this year than in 2010:


And although overall in 2011 [lady gaga costume] leads [nicki minaj costume] in search volume, right now they’re neck and neck:


We’d be lying if we weren’t hoping that at least a few Minaj fans out there choose to pay tribute to her by dressing up as uberfans eight-year-old Sophia Grace and her cousin, the two little girls who blew away YouTube viewers with their performance of “Super Bass.”

Speaking of YouTube, Halloween doesn’t fall on a Friday this year, but that’s not stopping people from dressing up as Rebecca Black:


Even if you don’t want dress up as a YouTube star, YouTube can still help you create your Halloween costume. Head on over to the YouTube Blog for video tutorials and other inspiration.

Lest you think Halloween is just for humans, take a look at the huge amount of searches for [dog costume]. In terms of get-ups actually intended for canines, ewoks and dinosaurs are the fastest-rising related searches. But two of the top five rising searches in 2011 related to [dog costume] are a little quirkier: at least a few people out there may dress up as the eponymous character from FX’s “Wilfred” show, about a dog, and a man who sees the dog as a man dressed in a dog suit. Kinda meta.


Turning from costumes to the other traditions of this holiday, searches for [haunted house] and [pumpkin patch] are both spiking right now, but there seems to be greater interest in spooky thrills than in finding that perfect pumpkin to carve. Maybe spiderwebs and peeled-grape eyeballs are a less scary proposition than running into the [great pumpkin] (from the classic movie which, incidentally, celebrates its 45th birthday this Halloween).


Everyone has a sweet tooth this time of year, but [candy corn] is remains the undisputed king of people’s cravings. In the last 30 days, search volume is nearly twice as high for [candy corn] than for other candy choices:


Per capita, Alabama is searching the most for [candy corn] this year. Here are the states that searched the most for a few other Halloween sugar staples (and some newcomer treats):
  • Candy apples - Rhode Island
  • Gummy worms - Wisconsin
  • Kosher candy - New York
  • Sugar free candy - Kentucky
  • Gluten free candy - Oregon
  • Candy bars - Utah
  • Organic candy - Colorado
When trick or treating, there’s always that one house that insists on making Halloween healthy—but luckily for us, those are few and far between. Over the last 30 days, there is almost two and a half times more search volume for [candy] than for [apples]. The classic game of bobbing for apples, however, it still going strong, spiking dependably every October.

Whether you’re dressing up as an elegant avian ballerina or a brightly-colored roly-poly bird in a slingshot, we hope you have a spootakular Halloween!

Posted by Rachel Durfee, Google Blog Team

(Cross-posted on the Inside Search Blog)
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/prima-ballerina-vs-some-very-angry.html

[G] More great content creators coming to YouTube

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YouTube Blog: More great content creators coming to YouTube

Wonderful things happen when cool technology meets great entertainment. Cable television expanded our viewing possibilities from just a handful of channels to hundreds, and brought us some of the most defining media experiences of the last few decades-- think MTV, ESPN and CNN. Today, the web is bringing us entertainment from an even wider range of talented producers, and many of the defining channels of the next generation are being born, and watched, on YouTube.



Today we’re announcing that even more talented creators and original entertainment will soon join YouTube’s existing channel lineup, including channels created by well-known personalities and content producers from the TV, film, music, news, and sports fields, as well as some of the most innovative up-and-coming media companies in the world and some of YouTube’s own existing partners. These channels will have something for everyone, whether you’re a mom, a comedy fan, a sports nut, a music lover or a pop-culture maven.



Our goal with this channels expansion, along with the grants and educational programs we’ve launched in the past year, is to bring an even broader range of entertainment to YouTube, giving you more reasons to keep coming back again and again. And for advertisers, these channels will represent a new way to engage and reach their global consumers.



The first of these new original channels will appear on YouTube starting next month and will continue over the next year. They’ll be available to you on any internet-connected device, anywhere in the world, with all the interactivity and social features of YouTube built right in.



Be the first to know when the original channels launch, and take a sneak peek, here.



Robert Kyncl, Global Head of Content Partnerships, recently watched “Halloween Light Show 2011.”


URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/youtube/PKJx/~3/iBmmICz9GlE/more-great-content-creators-coming-to.html

[G] Test Your Mobile Web Apps with WebDriver - A Tutorial

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Google Open Source Blog: Test Your Mobile Web Apps with WebDriver - A Tutorial

Mobile testing has come a long way since the days when testing mobile web applications was mostly manual and took days to complete. Selenium WebDriver is a browser automation tool that provides an elegant way of testing web applications. WebDriver makes it easy to write automated tests that ensure your site works correctly when viewed from an Android or iOS browser.

For those of you new to WebDriver, here are a few basics about how it helps you test your web application. WebDriver tests are end-to-end tests that exercise a web application just like a real user would. There is a comprehensive user guide on the Selenium site that covers the core APIs.

Now let’s talk about mobile! WebDriver provides a touch API that allows the test to interact with the web page through finger taps, flicks, finger scrolls, and long presses. It can rotate the display and provides a friendly API to interact with HTML5 features such as local storage, session storage and application cache. Mobile WebDrivers use the remote WebDriver server, following a client/server architecture. The client piece consists of the test code, while the server piece is the application that is installed on the device.

Get Started

WebDriver for Android and iPhone can be installed following these instructions. Once you’ve done that, you will be ready to write tests. Let’s start with a basic example using www.google.com to give you a taste of what’s possible.

The test below opens www.google.com on Android and issues a query for “weather in san francisco”. The test will verify that Google returns search results and that the first result returned is giving the weather in San Francisco.

public void testGoogleCanGiveWeatherResults() {
// Create a WebDriver instance with the activity in which we want the test to run.
WebDriver driver = new AndroidDriver(getActivity());
// Let’s open a web page
driver.get("http://www.google.com");

// Lookup for the search box by its name
WebElement searchBox = driver.findElement(By.name("q"));

// Enter a search query and submit
searchBox.sendKeys("weather in san francisco");
searchBox.submit();

// Making sure that Google shows 11 results
WebElement resultSection = driver.findElement(By.id("ires"));
List searchResults = resultSection.findElements(By.tagName("li"));
assertEquals(11, searchResults.size());

// Let’s ensure that the first result shown is the weather widget
WebElement weatherWidget = searchResults.get(0);
assertTrue(weatherWidget.getText().contains("Weather for San Francisco, CA"));
}

Now let’s see our test in action! When you launch your test through your favorite IDE or using the command line, WebDriver will bring up a WebView in the foreground allowing you to see your web application as the test code is executing. You will see www.google.com loading, and the search query being typed in the search box.



We mentioned above that the WebDriver supports creating advanced gestures to interact with the device. Let's use WebDriver to throw an image across the screen by flicking horizontally, and ensure that the next image in the gallery is displayed.

WebElement toFlick = driver.findElement(By.id("image"));
// 400 pixels left at normal speed
Action flick = getBuilder(driver).flick(toFlick, 0, -400, FlickAction.SPEED_NORMAL)
.build();
flick.perform();
WebElement secondImage = driver.findElement(“secondImage”);
assertTrue(secondImage.isDisplayed());

Next, let's rotate the screen and ensure that the image displayed on screen is resized.

assertEquals(landscapeSize, secondImage.getSize())
((Rotatable) driver).rotate(ScreenOrientation.PORTRAIT);
assertEquals(portraitSize, secondImage.getSize());

Let's take a look at the local storage on the device, and ensure that the web application has set some key/value pairs.

// Get a handle on the local storage object
LocalStorage local = ((WebStorage) driver).getLocalStorage();
// Ensure that the key “name” is mapped
assertEquals(“testUser”, local.getItem(“name”));

What if your test reveals a bug? You can easily take a screenshot for help in future debugging:

File tempFile = ((TakesScreenshot) driver).getScreenshotAs(OutputType.FILE);

High Level Architecture

WebDriver has two main components: the server and the tests themselves. The server is an application that runs on the phone, tablet, emulator, or simulator and listens for incoming requests. It runs the tests against a WebView (the rendering component of mobile Android and iOS) configured like the browsers. Your tests run on the client side, and can be written in any languages supported by WebDriver, including Java and Python. The WebDriver tests communicate with the server by sending RESTful JSON requests over HTTP. The tests and server pieces don't have to be on the same physical machine, although they can be. For Android you can also run the tests using the Android test framework instead of the remote WebDriver server.

Infrastructure Setup


At Google, we have wired WebDriver tests to our cloud infrastructure allowing those tests to run at scale and making it possible to have them run in our continuous integration system. External developers can run their mobile tests either on emulators/simulators or real devices for Android and iOS phones and tablets.

Android emulators can run on most OSes because they are virtualized, so we run them on our generic cloud setup. Though there are many advantages to using Android emulators because they emulate a complete virtual device (including the virtual CPU, MMU, and hardware devices), it makes the test environment slower. You can speed up the tests by disabling animations, audio, skins, or even by running in the emulator headless mode. To do so, start the emulator with the options --no-boot-anim, --no-audio, --noskin, and --no-window. If you would like your tests to run even faster, start the emulator from a previously created snapshot image. That reduces the emulator startup time from 2 minutes to less than 2 seconds!

iOS simulators can't be virtualized and hence need to run on Mac machines. However, because iOS simulators don't try to emulate the virtual device or CPU at all, they can run as applications at "full speed," this allows the test to run much faster.

Stay tuned for more mobile feature in Selenium WebDriver, and updates on the Selenium blog. For questions and feedback not only of the Android WebDriver but also its desktop brethren, please join the community.

By Dounia Berrada, Engineer on the EngTools team


URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/GoogleOpenSourceBlog/~3/XQ4-wCUhcRQ/test-your-mobile-web-apps-with.html

[G] A Silicon Valley Story: JobFlo has gone Google

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: A Silicon Valley Story: JobFlo has gone Google

Posted by Jim Ambras, Founder and CEO of JobFlo

Editor’s note: Today’s guest blogger is Jim Ambras, founder and CEO of JobFlo (previously NotchUp). JobFlo helps small to medium-sized businesses recruit top talent through its free social-media recruiting platform. See what other organizations that have gone Google have to say.

JobFlo came into existence to address a problem I’d dealt with for over 14 years—how to find and recruit top talent who may not be actively seeking a job. I wanted to provide employers with a creative new way to reach happily employed people without resorting to the same traditional recruiting methods. This desire has led us to provide employers with a free recruiting platform that taps into the power of social networking sites.

I started JobFlo three years ago knowing we would take full advantage of cloud computing technologies and not be tied to a traditional business model that required servers and lots of IT complexity. I knew our business model was viable and was more concerned with how to set up and run a streamlined, efficient company. Having served as Vice President of Engineering for a bunch of start-ups, I knew setting up an infrastructure for our business ourselves could be really difficult and time-consuming. In previous jobs, I would often spend my days engineering and my nights managing our IT. Starting my own company, my first rule of business was that any communication and collaboration solution we used would not rely on in-house servers.

And with that, all the problems I had had before went away. With Google Apps, IT was one less thing we had to worry about, and it just worked and worked well. We had high email quotas, great spam-filtering, and real-time collaboration. It was really important that we had a good infrastructure for collaboration. As a company with four employees all working from home, the ability to share and work together online was critical.

While we started with Gmail and Google Docs, we have since included the use of many other tools such as Google Voice and apps from the Google Apps Marketplace. We have adopted tools such as FreshBooks for invoicing and MailChimp for email marketing. JobFlo is doing great, and we’ll be integrating even more of Google’s product suite into our business as we continue to grow.

URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2011/10/silicon-valley-story-jobflo-has-gone.html

[G] Google+ is now available with Google Apps

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Google+ is now available with Google Apps

Posted by Ronald Ho, Product Manager

Google Apps fans, today we’re ready to add you to our circles. Google+ makes sharing on the web more like sharing in the real world, and now Google+ is available to people who use Google Apps at college, at work or at home.

Starting now you can manually turn on Google+ for your organization. Once Google+ is turned on, your users will just need to sign up at google.com/+ to get started. For customers who use Google Apps for Business or the free version of Google Apps and who have chosen to automatically enable new services, Google+ will automatically become available to all of your users over the next several days.*

Google Apps users will have access to the same set of features that are available to every Google+ user, and more. In addition to sharing publicly or with your circles, you’ll also have the option to share with everyone in your organization, even if you haven’t added all of those people to a circle.



Google+ at home, at work and at college
You use Google Apps in lots of different ways, and we expect the same for Google+. Apps users from artists to doctors to parents to students to teachers have told us that they are ready to join the 40 million people already sharing on Google+.

Circles is a great way to share relevant content with the right people. With Circles, your photography crew doesn’t have to get an update about your morning workout, your triathlon team doesn’t have to see all your thoughts on the latest camera gear, and your project teams can be kept separate from all of this.



Hangouts with extras, which combines multi-person video chat with screen sharing and collaboration in Google Docs, lets you work together on projects even when your team can't be in the same room. Whether you’re out of town, working on a project with a distributed group, or just don’t feel like walking to the next building for your meeting, Hangouts with extras can give your team the productivity boost it needs.



Google+ coming to a campus near you
Many students and teachers have sent us their ideas about how they can use Google+ to teach, learn, work, and play. These are a few Google Apps for Education universities from around the world that are bringing Google+ to their campuses today:

  • Abilene Christian University
  • American University in Cairo (Egypt)
  • Arizona State University
  • AT Still University
  • Boise State University
  • Central Piedmont Community College
  • Dublin City University (Ireland)
  • ESSEC Business School (France)
  • Leeds Metropolitan University (United Kingdom)
  • Loughborough University (United Kingdom)
  • Saint Louis University
  • Strathmore University (Kenya)
  • Universidad Panamericana (Mexico)
  • University of Ferrara (Italy)
  • University of Maryland Baltimore County
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Pavia (Italy)
  • University of Portsmouth (United Kingdom)
  • University of Washington
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Wake Forest University

Just the beginning
For those of you who’ve already started using Google+ with a personal Google Account and would prefer to use your Google Apps account, we’re building a migration tool to help you move over. With this tool, you won’t have to rebuild your circles, and people who’ve already added you to their circles will automatically be connected to your new profile. We expect this migration option to be ready in a few weeks, so if you’d like, you can go ahead and get started with your Apps account today and merge your connections once the tool is available.

It took more technical work than we expected to bring Google+ to Google Apps, and we thank you for your patience. This integration is just the beginning. We’ll continue to add features and improve the way that Google+ works with Google Apps, and we encourage you to share your ideas.


* Google+ requires Picasa Web Albums for photo sharing and Google Talk for chat, so if these services are not enabled then Google+ will not automatically become available, even if your domain has chosen to automatically enable new services. The option to automatically enable new services is controlled in the Domain settings tab of the administrator control panel. More information about using Google+ with Google Apps is available in the Help Center.


Update: For Google Apps for Education customers, we're starting with higher ed institutions and are looking into making Google+ available to K-12s at some point in the future.
URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2011/10/google-is-now-available-with-google.html

[G] Halloween Costume tips and tricks from YouTube

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YouTube Blog: Halloween Costume tips and tricks from YouTube

Halloween weekend is here! If you’re still looking for the perfect costume, the YouTube community has your last-minute Halloween costume tips and tricks.

Nicki Minaj is the fourth fastest rising costume search this year (check out the Official Google Blog for more details) and a subject of several YouTube video tutorials. Check out this playlist of videos that show how to channel your inner pop star, including Nicki, Katy Perry/Russell Brand (at the same time!), Ke$ha, Lady Gaga and her alter-ego Jo Calderone.



If you’re on a budget or crunched for time this Halloween, YouTube partners have some last minute, DIY Halloween ideas for you. Quick, easy, recession proof ideas include: a 30-second ninja made from just a t-shirt, a “cute” nerd, a fierce 5-minute street fighter, a spooky ‘head on a platter,’ and a few ideas you can pick up at your local thrift shop.



Convinced 50 of your closest friends to show up as a flock of Angry Birds (Halloween 2011’s fastest rising costume search) or a coven of vampires, but don’t have the costumes worked out yet? Checkout these makeup tutorials for an easy Angry Bird look, an Oscar-worthy Black Swan, male and female vampires, and a scary rotting zombie.



Finally, if your goal is to stand out from the crowds of Kate Middletons and Jersey Shore cast members, then try dressing as a YouTube star from this year. Some ideas include: the adorable 8-year old Nicki Minaj singer and her cousin, Rebecca Black, the stars of ‘Webcam for Seniors,’ the Ojai Valley Taxidermist, or the Old Spice Guy and the New Old Spice Guy.




Beyond costumes, YouTubers have also shared lots of ideas for pumpkin decorating and delicious recipes this year. Use their tricks and share some of your own to make the most of this weekend, and have a happy Halloween!


Jessica Mason, Communications Associate, recently wached "Piper and THE END OF POLIO.”


URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/youtube/PKJx/~3/qUXOUP03QcU/halloween-costume-tips-and-tricks-from.html

[G] Optimize Engagement using AddThis and ShareThis with Analytics

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Google Analytics Blog: Optimize Engagement using AddThis and ShareThis with Analytics

Increasingly users are discovering great content, products and links through social referrals such as +1 button endorsements, comments, likes, and shares. Earlier this year we introduced Social Plugin Analytics to help you analyze how users engage with any social plugin installed on your site - after all, what can be measured can also be improved and optimized!

MilkADeal started using Google Analytics earlier this year. It is a company in Malaysia that has benefited greatly from using Social Plugin Analytics. By using these new reports, they are able to uncover insights and create significant business process improvements. As reported in the New Straits Times, "In particular, the newly introduced social interaction tracking tool...We've been using it only in the last couple of weeks but we have seen an increase of almost 60% in social interaction visitors to our site," said Wilson Quah, founder of MilkADeal."

By optimizing the instrumentation of a few buttons on their site, MilkADeal is able to achieve better engagement, a big boost in number of high quality referrals, and better outcomes! Today, we are happy to announce that our partners, AddThis and ShareThis, are making this social plugin analysis even easier. Just as the +1 button is automatically instrumented for you by the Google+ team, publishers using AddThis and ShareThis will now have first class integrations with Social Plugin Analytics!

“Providing real-time analytics to 10 million domains each month, we see what big data can do every day. Integrating AddThis social signals into Google Analytics is a big win for publishers. We’re excited to contribute social sharing insight where it can be viewed in context of the GA interface.”

Will Meyer, VP of Publisher Products, Clearspring


“At ShareThis, we work to provide our publisher network of one million+ websites with actionable analytics on their social activity. It's great to see Google paving the way for the entire industry to derive meaningful insights from the social Web and we're incredibly pleased to be a launch partner."

Kurt Abrahamson, CEO, ShareThis


To enable the integration for all of your AddThis buttons, you are now just one line of code away, and ShareThis users don’t have to do a thing. If you have Google Analytics installed, and you are using a ShareThis widget, simply login into Google Analytics and check out your new social reports!

Posted by Ilya Grigorik, Google Analytics team


Update: AddToAny users will also be happy to know that their social buttons are automatically instrumented to work with event tracking and social plugin analytics!



URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/tRaA/~3/n5p3HuHLMu0/optimize-engagement-with-addthis-and.html

[G] Faces of Docs: Vance Vagell, User Interface Software Engineer

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The Google Apps Blog: Faces of Docs: Vance Vagell, User Interface Software Engineer


One of my favorite things about being the community manager on the Google Docs team is working alongside people with a myriad of backgrounds, interests, and talents. From learning of one of teammate’s pro cricket player past or another’s literary aspirations, I’m constantly discovering new things about the people I spend my workdays with. I thought you might enjoy reading about them, too--which is why we’re taking a cue from our friends at Gmail to bring you “Faces of Docs,” a series that will spotlight the people that make up our team.





Photo by: Antonella Pavese


Name:
Vance Vagell

What do you do on the Docs team and how long have you been at Google?
I lead a team of user experience (UX) prototypers. We build realistic-looking prototypes of new Google Docs features, so that our researchers can try them out with people. This lets us improve them before our engineers build the real thing. I’ve been here two years, but things move so quickly it may as well be 10.

What’s your typical day like?
I hop on the subway, read a few chapters of whatever sci-fi novel I’m working through (currently “Olympos” by Dan Simmons), and get to the office in about an hour.

Grab a coffee, then try to tackle my email inbox. Afterwards, I’m usually doing one of three things: building a prototype, preparing for a study, or running brainstorm and design sessions. My mind is usually at least one year in the future, although sometimes people force me to think about near-term problems.

What do you like most about what you do?
Watching someone enjoy a feature I’ve helped revise a few times—once we’ve finally gotten it right. I like being an advocate for what’s truly useful, and what people need. On the other hand, occasionally I get to work on bigger changes that help push technology in new directions, and that’s a blast too.

What’s the most challenging part of your role?
There are so many teams that want to see their ideas prototyped, that sometimes I have to put a few on the backburner. That said, we always prioritize, and then squeeze in a few “blue sky” projects so we keep moving forward and never get stuck in the status quo. We call a project “blue sky” when it’s unrealistic by today’s standards, but could be a great direction tomorrow.

What did you do before joining Google?
I’ve always worked in NYC—love the east coast (as I alienate myself from my west coast colleagues with this post). Started out as an indie game developer, then worked in voice technology for a few years. I was delighted to discover a posting for “User Interface Software Engineer” at Google NYC, and haven’t looked back since. I focus more on UX than engineering these days, but there’s an important intersection between the two that I represent.

What are the three Docs features you wouldn’t be able to live without?
Can I list ones that haven’t launched yet? Probably not. Okay, in that case: @-mentions in document comments that shoot off emails to people, Google Forms to quickly gather feedback, and real-time editing to bang out ideas as a group. These are all critical to my daily work.

What do you do when you’re not working on Docs?
Far too much computer gaming. Some of my favorites: Everquest (original and EQ2), Planetside, Eve Online, and City of Heroes.

Also love to go bird-watching. My favorite spot is Central Park. People are often surprised that you can spot over 20 bird species in a single afternoon there with a pair of binoculars. Did you know there’s a family of red-tailed hawks in the park that has reared several seasons of chicks now? Google “Pale Male”. On one outing, one of those hawks dove not more than a foot above my head to pick up a mouse beneath a tree across from me. Promptly carried it to a nearby branch and … dined. Very cool experience.

What kind of desk flair do you have?
Souvenirs from aquariums and zoos I’ve visited, and a photobooth print out of me and my partner at one of the Google NYC holiday parties. At last year’s, they had caricature artists, but I’m not ready to share that particular image of me yet. :)

What’s your pet peeve?
Apathy. Be passionate about something, and don’t be afraid to stand up for it.

What do you do in your downtime?
Between projects I like to catch up on UX blogs and papers. Some of my favorites are UX Matters, Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, and Don Norman’s essays.

What would your last meal be?
Definitely my partner Ray’s vegetable curry, it’s sublime, and you can’t beat home-cooked!

Posted by: Teresa Wu, Community Manager
URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/GoogleAppsBlog/~3/Y7yuwg9H2sA/faces-of-docs-vance-vagell-user.html

Friday, October 28, 2011

[G] This week's Trends: commercials, conflicts, light shows

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YouTube Blog: This week's Trends: commercials, conflicts, light shows

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:







Check back every day for the latest about what's trending on YouTube at: www.YouTube.com/Trends



Kevin Allocca, YouTube Trends Manager, recently watched "Japanese Monkey Potato Feeding Frenzy."


URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/youtube/PKJx/~3/JSbof0M9xkg/this-weeks-trends-commercials-conflicts.html

[G] Faces of Docs: Vance Vagell, User Interface Software Engineer

| More

Docs Blog: Faces of Docs: Vance Vagell, User Interface Software Engineer


One of my favorite things about being the community manager on the Google Docs team is working alongside people with a myriad of backgrounds, interests, and talents. From learning of one of teammate’s pro cricket player past or another’s literary aspirations, I’m constantly discovering new things about the people I spend my workdays with. I thought you might enjoy reading about them, too--which is why we’re taking a cue from our friends at Gmail to bring you “Faces of Docs,” a series that will spotlight the people that make up our team.





Photo by: Antonella Pavese


Name:
Vance Vagell

What do you do on the Docs team and how long have you been at Google?
I lead a team of user experience (UX) prototypers. We build realistic-looking prototypes of new Google Docs features, so that our researchers can try them out with people. This lets us improve them before our engineers build the real thing. I’ve been here two years, but things move so quickly it may as well be 10.

What’s your typical day like?
I hop on the subway, read a few chapters of whatever sci-fi novel I’m working through (currently “Olympos” by Dan Simmons), and get to the office in about an hour.

Grab a coffee, then try to tackle my email inbox. Afterwards, I’m usually doing one of three things: building a prototype, preparing for a study, or running brainstorm and design sessions. My mind is usually at least one year in the future, although sometimes people force me to think about near-term problems.

What do you like most about what you do?
Watching someone enjoy a feature I’ve helped revise a few times—once we’ve finally gotten it right. I like being an advocate for what’s truly useful, and what people need. On the other hand, occasionally I get to work on bigger changes that help push technology in new directions, and that’s a blast too.

What’s the most challenging part of your role?
There are so many teams that want to see their ideas prototyped, that sometimes I have to put a few on the backburner. That said, we always prioritize, and then squeeze in a few “blue sky” projects so we keep moving forward and never get stuck in the status quo. We call a project “blue sky” when it’s unrealistic by today’s standards, but could be a great direction tomorrow.

What did you do before joining Google?
I’ve always worked in NYC—love the east coast (as I alienate myself from my west coast colleagues with this post). Started out as an indie game developer, then worked in voice technology for a few years. I was delighted to discover a posting for “User Interface Software Engineer” at Google NYC, and haven’t looked back since. I focus more on UX than engineering these days, but there’s an important intersection between the two that I represent.

What are the three Docs features you wouldn’t be able to live without?
Can I list ones that haven’t launched yet? Probably not. Okay, in that case: @-mentions in document comments that shoot off emails to people, Google Forms to quickly gather feedback, and real-time editing to bang out ideas as a group. These are all critical to my daily work.

What do you do when you’re not working on Docs?
Far too much computer gaming. Some of my favorites: Everquest (original and EQ2), Planetside, Eve Online, and City of Heroes.

Also love to go bird-watching. My favorite spot is Central Park. People are often surprised that you can spot over 20 bird species in a single afternoon there with a pair of binoculars. Did you know there’s a family of red-tailed hawks in the park that has reared several seasons of chicks now? Google “Pale Male”. On one outing, one of those hawks dove not more than a foot above my head to pick up a mouse beneath a tree across from me. Promptly carried it to a nearby branch and … dined. Very cool experience.

What kind of desk flair do you have?
Souvenirs from aquariums and zoos I’ve visited, and a photobooth print out of me and my partner at one of the Google NYC holiday parties. At last year’s, they had caricature artists, but I’m not ready to share that particular image of me yet. :)

What’s your pet peeve?
Apathy. Be passionate about something, and don’t be afraid to stand up for it.

What do you do in your downtime?
Between projects I like to catch up on UX blogs and papers. Some of my favorites are UX Matters, Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox, and Don Norman’s essays.

What would your last meal be?
Definitely my partner Ray’s vegetable curry, it’s sublime, and you can’t beat home-cooked!

Posted by: Teresa Wu, Community Manager
URL: http://googledocs.blogspot.com/2011/10/faces-of-docs-vance-vagell-user.html