Saturday, December 31, 2011

[G] Google blogging (and beyond) in 2011

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Official Google Blog: Google blogging (and beyond) in 2011

With just a few hours of 2011 remaining in Mountain View, Calif., we’re taking our traditional look at the past year on the Official Google Blog, as well as Google’s presence on Google+ and Twitter.

On the blog this year, we published 471 posts (including this one)—17 more than 2010. Those posts were read by nearly 20 million people; we had 19,905,679 unique visitors between January 1 and December 31. We find a few themes in the most popular posts: Google+ was a favorite topic, as well as greater focus and simplicity across Google, and search quality. The top 10 posts are:
Other popular posts included the announcement that Larry Page was becoming CEO, a project to help Egyptians communicate during the January protests, Google+ updates and +1 news, a keeping your information safe from phishing campaigns, patents and Androidpractical steps toward greener computing, more search news and the debut of Google Wallet. We shared special doodles (from Lucy to Les Paul to the lunar eclipse, and Jules Verne to Jim Henson) and stories from unique Google users. We brought music to the cloud, Ice Cream Sandwich to your pocket, and great works of art and pieces of history to your computer screens. We worked to help those affected by disasters in Japan and elsewhere, told some history tales, and, as always, had some fun along the way.

Like many of you, we were excited to start using Google+ Pages when they launched in November. We’re now running 22 pages for Google products and teams; nearly 100,000 of you have the flagship page, +Google, in your circles. Popular posts there include photos of our L.A. office, holiday, New Year and Marie Curie doodles, the year-end Zeitgeist, Google Photography Prize and Sebastian Thrun on self-driving cars.

We’ll soon celebrate @google’s third anniversary on Twitter, and we hit the 4 million follower mark this month. Popular tweets include the Les Paul doodle, patents and Android, Motorola, Larry and Sergey remembering Steve Jobs, Google Wallet, Google+ and Wael Ghonim.

As the clock ticks toward the close of 2011, we thank our readers for following along—by feed reader, phone app or however you please—and hope you join us for the next year of Google news. Happy 2012!

Posted by Emily Wood, Google Blog Editor

Friday, December 30, 2011

[G] December’s “On The Rise” Partner is ThePortraitArt

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YouTube Blog: December’s “On The Rise” Partner is ThePortraitArt

Congratulations to Xiaonan, the talent behind the portraits featured on ThePortraitArt. This channel received the most votes for the December On The Rise poll, and will be featured on the YouTube homepage today.

Xiaonan Sun is a self-taught artist, and producing lifelike portraits is his passion. Since 2008, Xiaonan has used YouTube to document his talent through timelapse videos that showcase not only the final product but the full creative process. Some of his most popular pieces are pop-culture celebrity likenesses, but he also produces personal portraits by commission. And if you thought traditional portrayals and media were the limits of Xiaonan’s skill, you’re in for a treat: he can create the illusion of reality with his portraits, and he doesn’t limit himself to using simply pencils and erasers.

Here are a few words from our December On The Rise star himself:

I make my art videos to share my creation process, which I think could be every bit as compelling as the final product. But I also make these videos to relax your mind, calm your thoughts and uplift your mood. After all,  today's people are so often stuck in thoughts, dealing with its worries and day to day  concerns, that most rarely calm their mind down to feel the presence of the moment, which is the only thing there really is and ever could be. I want more people to be in this state more often, to see things not through the limited and rigid mind or the fearful ego, but through a heart that loves to express and create. I like to express my deep appreciation for all those who voted for me and watch my videos, and my sincere gratitude to youtube for  providing the canvas, for my channel is a drawing, and each video a stroke on its paper.

If you’ve enjoyed this monthly On The Rise blog series and want to see more rising YouTube partners, check out our On The Rise channel or look for our playlists on the browse page. Keep an eye out for next month’s blog post, as your channel may be the next one On The Rise!

Devon Storbeck, YouTube Partner Support, recently watched “Downhill extreme: Rollerman overtaking motocycle!


[G] Share your New Year’s resolutions for an #Awesome2012

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YouTube Blog: Share your New Year’s resolutions for an #Awesome2012

Plan to run a marathon in 2012? Go back to school? Ask your secret crush on a date?

It’s easy to come up with a resolution and enter the new year with high hopes, but the hardest part is often sticking to it throughout the year. To help you stay with it, we’ve got an idea — put your resolution on YouTube and share it with your friends using the #awesome2012 hashtag.

We’ll also be looking for five of the most interesting videos to feature on our homepage in January. Follow the instructions below and your resolution could inspire millions of viewers.

  1. Make a video sharing what you want to accomplish in 2012

  2. Outline your strategy and describe the steps you’ll take to reach your goal

  3. Upload it to YouTube by January 2 at Noon PT and tag it with #awesome2012

Need help getting started on your #awesome2012 action plan? One of our YouTube partners is here to help:

Cheers to an #awesome2012!

Danielle Paquette, Social Media Manager, recently watched all the videos on YouTube Rewind.


[G] Professional Bull Riding comes to YouTube

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YouTube Blog: Professional Bull Riding comes to YouTube

Over the last 20 years, Professional Bull Riders have turned a classic sport into a global league with more than 100 million fans tuning in from around the world. Now you can follow PBR on their YouTube Channel, for livestreamed events as well as original programming, interviews, highlights and your videos.

You can catch livestreamed events on:

  • January 6 from Madison Square Garden in NYC

  • April 21 from Des Moines, Iowa

  • April 28 from Uncasville, Connecticut

  • May 5 from Billings, Montana

  • May 18 from Pueblo, Colorado

  • And more to come

To get you ready to ride, here’s a quick look at the 2011 season:

See you in 2012!

Frank Golding, Director of Pro Sports & Leagues, YouTube Sports, recently watched “2011 Built Ford Tough World Finals highlights.”


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

[G] On your marks, get set, GOMC!

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Inside AdWords: On your marks, get set, GOMC!

We’re pleased to announce that professor registration for the 2012 Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC 2012), our global student competition, is now open!

Student registration, however, will open January 31, 2012. In order for student teams to participate in the competition, their professors must first register.

But what is this challenge, you ask? 

The Google Online Marketing Challenge is a global online marketing competition for students from any higher education institution in the world. Students must develop and run a successful online advertising campaigns through Google AdWords for a real business or non-profit organization, exercising advertising and consulting skills and summarizing them in the campaign reports.

Once the campaigns finish running, Google and a panel of independent academics from all over the world will select the winning teams. Their selections will be based on the success of the campaigns and the quality of the competition reports.

There are exciting prizes awaiting the winners:
  • Trip to Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California for the Global Winners
  • Trips to local Google offices for Regional Winners
  • Opportunity to win donations worth $30,000 for the non-profit organizations the students partner with 
  • A brand new award category for GOMC 2012 - The Best Social Media Page Award - more details to follow!
Last year’s challenge featured 50,000 participants representing 100 countries, and this year’s challenge is expected to boast even more. Students, here’s your chance to make a global impact!

To learn more about the Google Online Marketing Challenge, please visit our website:

Posted by AJ Pascua and Anndrea Moore, GOMC Team

[G] CernVM’s fruitful summer

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Google Open Source Blog: CernVM’s fruitful summer

This was the first year CERN participated in Google Summer of Code, and it turned out to be an amazing experience for us! We were given four students to mentor, all of whom proved to be very skilled developers. The students quickly familiarized themselves with our code base and managed to make valuable contributions within the three month time frame of Google Summer of Code. Our students were very open and willing to learn and spent a considerable amount of their time researching tools, libraries, and the latest technological developments. As a result, all four students were able to solve their problems and come up with interesting ideas for future development. The code and the documentation they produced is available here. The specific problems (projects) that we suggested to our students spanned several domains, ranging from consistent replication of terabytes of data across several remote sites to automated testing of virtual machine releases.

Josip Lisec was working on the development of the monitoring system for the CernVM Co-Pilot framework, which is mainly used as a distributed computing platform within the LHC@home 2.0 volunteer computing project. The LHC@home 2.0 project currently has more than 9,000 registered users who contribute their spare CPU cycles for the simulation of the particle collision events in CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC). After some research, Josip decided to integrate existing tools with the Co-Pilot as opposed to trying to reinvent the wheel by rewriting everything from scratch. This resulted in a nicely engineered monitoring framework, parts of which were put into production while the Google Summer of Code was still going on (Josip's developments have now been fully integrated after completion of the program). Since this was Josip's first encounter with Perl, he has been seen adding support for 'my' keyword to every other major programming language since the Google Summer of Code concluded.

The goal of Yin Qiu's project was to devise a mechanism for a consistent replication of changes made to the central repository of CernVM File System (CernVM-FS) to a globally distributed set of mirror servers. CernVM-FS is used to host and distribute the application software of CERN LHC experiments to hundreds of Grid sites, as well as the laptops and workstations of users worldwide. As such, it is currently one of the central components of the distributed computing infrastructures on which CERN ATLAS and LHCb experiments rely. Yin's approach was to organize CernVM-FS mirrors into a Paxos-managed replication network and to enforce state machine version transitions on them. Following the suggestion of Jakob, his mentor, Yin implemented a messaging framework which is used to orchestrate the replication process and facilitates the implementation of new features. He also managed to implement a couple of Python plugins which ensure the consistency of data across replicas. The project is currently in the state of a working prototype.

Jesse Williamson took up the challenge of designing a new library for CernVM-FS to consolidate support for various cryptographic hashing algorithms. The first task was to survey the implementation of CernVM-FS and establish a list of requirements. Next, quite a bit of effort was spent on designing the library specifically so that it would be easy to use, comparatively simple to extend, and robust enough to support extensions like a streaming interface and compression. Since CernVM-FS is heavily used in production, it has been very important to make sure that the new developments do not break anything. Jesse has developed a set of unit tests which ensure that all the existing features and properties were maintained.

The design of new C++ libraries was certainly an improvement, but it also became clear late in the cycle that a further abstraction to fully separate digests and hash functions will be necessary to avoid memory fragmentation issues and ensure stronger const-correctness

Jonathan Gillet worked on implementing a solution for automating the testing of CernVM virtual machine images on multiple hypervisors and operating systems. The solution, which is a ready to use testing infrastructure for CernVM, was developed in collaboration with other open source projects such as AMD Tapper (used for the reports and web interface), libvirt (interaction with hypervisors), and Homebrew (OS X support).  The main goals of the project were accomplished with support for all major hypervisors running on Linux and OS X platforms. The framework automates the task of downloading and configuring the CernVM images on the fly, and executing a series of thorough tests which check various features of CernVM images before release. Documentation was also an important goal of the project; in total there are now over two hundred pages of documentation which cover everything from setting up the testing infrastructure and virtual machines to a complete API reference.

We certainly enjoyed Google Summer of Code 2011, and we sincerely congratulate all of our students and mentors for successfully completing the program!

By Artem Harutyunyan, Senior Fellow, CernVM Project (CERN) and Google Summer of Code Mentor


[G] Year in review: 2011

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Inside AdSense: Year in review: 2011

A lot of great things happened this year in AdSense, so as 2011 comes to an end, we’d like to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the highlights.

New Interface

We fully transitioned to the new AdSense interface and launched a number of new features including bulk edit, multi-dimension reporting and ad styles. We also launched a video series highlighting some of the functionalities of the new interface.


2011 was a big year for all things social at Google, which included many improvements for our AdSense publishers. We introduced the +1 button, first on the Google search results, then on publisher sites and display ads. Based on your feedback, we made +1 buttons faster and provided reporting options. Most recently, we launched Google+ Your Business and Google+ Pages to help you grow your audience and start conversations with the right people.

AdSense in Your City

We met many of you in person through our AdSense in Your City events in North America and other similar seminars around the world. We’re continuing the program next year so make sure to check back for more details. Also, opt in to receiving special offers so we can send you details about AdSense events.


We expanded our payment options by offering Western Union in sub-Saharan Africa, Mexico, Palestinian Territories and numerous other countries. Your passion to help Japan after the devastating earthquake truly inspired us so we offered a way for you to donate your AdSense earnings.


We listened to your feedback about wanting to know more about our policies, so we dedicated monthly posts with tips on how to keep your account in good status. For example, we provided tips on creating unique content and information about invalid clicks.

Finally, we’d like to highlight our most popular blog posts of the year, as determined by your visits. Our post on new in-ads notice label and icon received the most visits from readers, and the post that you +1’d the most was our announcement about +1 buttons being added to display ads. Make sure to keep +1ing our posts to let us know when you like them and also +1 our blog in the upper right-hand corner if you’re a fan.

Thanks for your continued partnership throughout 2011 and for your support of the Inside AdSense blog. We look forward to seeing what 2012 brings!

Posted by Jamie Firkus - Inside AdSense Team


[G] Music Tuesday: A bevy of year-end lists from tUnE-yArDs and more

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YouTube Blog: Music Tuesday: A bevy of year-end lists from tUnE-yArDs and more

In 2011, music videos were as varied as the artists who made them: we saw a string of videos featuring parties you wish you’d been at. On the indie circuit, found footage and ghostly, atmospheric imagery dominated the landscape. We also saw musicians get behind the camera and make some extraordinary self-directed music videos. This week we invited a musician who's ending up on a lot of year-end lists to share with us their year-end lists — and one from a record store for good measure.

2011: Merrill Garbus’ Picks

Merrill Garbus’ tUnE-yArDs may have been embraced by the indie community, but tUnE-yArDs isn’t your average twee indie pop. If anything, Garbus is the antidote to twee: she’s got a big, blowsy voice and she explores its range with refreshing abandon, edging into abrasive territory in a way that is curiously not abrasive. She’s also profoundly influenced by African music, and you can hear itthatin the layered chirps and coos of some songs, which draw directly from the Central African pygmy vocal tradition. Yes, heady stuff -- but Garbus also loves her dance music, and that’s why her album w h o k i l l has connected on such a visceral level with so many fans this year. (It sounds like very little else in any genre.) We were intrigued to know what music inspired her this year; her choices may surprise you.

2011: Amoeba Music’s Picks

Last but not least, California’s largest independent music store employs a small army of music nerds. In one fell swoop of collective bargaining, they agreed on their 22 (22!) favorite music videos of 2011. Nobody has their fingers in as much music as these folks; consider this a quick primer on some great music that you might have missed.

See you in 2012!

Sarah Bardeen, Music Community Manager, recently watched “Favorite Albums of 2011.”


[G] Geoffrey Canada and Capella University livestream panel on education reform

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YouTube Blog: Geoffrey Canada and Capella University livestream panel on education reform

One person can make a difference. Just ask Geoffrey Canada, an education reform advocate whose groundbreaking work in Harlem schools set a precedent across the United States. It’s even inspired U.S. President Barack Obama to apply his model to cities across America.

On December 28 at 3:00pm PT, Geoffrey Canada will deliver a keynote speech about education reform, hosted by Capella University and streamed live on YouTube. The keynote presentation will be followed by a panel discussion on critical issues with leaders in the field of education reform, including Dr. Steve Perry and Dr. Christy Hovanetz. The panel will also answer questions submitted via YouTube here.

In the meantime, here’s some of Canada’s past work:

So check out the live event at 3:00pm PT on December 28 on Capella University's Inspire Ideas YouTube Channel, and we hope you enjoy.

Jen Howard, Education Director at Google, recently watched “YouTube for Schools: Join the Global Classroom Today!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

[G] Introducing YouTube Slam

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YouTube Blog: Introducing YouTube Slam

Have some free time this week? Think you can find the next singing sensation, viral video like Charlie bit my finger or Surprised Kitty?

Then come play YouTube Slam—a video discovery experiment we cooked up with folks from Google Research. Each week a new crop of videos battles head-to-head in Comedy, Cute, Music, Bizarre and Dance Slams, where your votes determine who wins the Slam and gets featured on the leaderboard.

Earn points for predicting the crowd favorites, and see how you stack up against other players at the end of each week. Get your daily dose of the most talented, hilarious, adorable or weird videos on YouTube, and you could help uncover the next big thing.

You can also subscribe to our Slam channels to see each week’s video leaderboards: Comedy, Cute, Music, Bizarre or Dance. Pick a Slam and start playing!

Tomas Izo, Software Engineer, recently watch “Brick By Boring Brick: Paramore (Storm Kaden Cover)” via YouTube Slam.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

[G] Remembering a remarkable Soviet computing pioneer

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Official Google Blog: Remembering a remarkable Soviet computing pioneer

In many parts of the world, today is Christmas—but in Russia and Eastern Europe, which use the Orthodox calendar, December 25 is just an ordinary day. Little known to most, however, it’s also a day that marks the anniversary of a key development in European computer history.

Sixty years ago today, in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, the Soviet Academy of Sciences finally granted formal recognition to Sergey Lebedev’s pioneering MESM project. MESM, a Russian abbreviation for “Small Electronic Calculating Machine,” is regarded as the earliest, fully operational electronic computer in the Soviet Union—and indeed continental Europe.

Recently we were privileged to get a first-hand account of Lebedev’s achievements from Boris Malinovsky, who worked on MESM and is now a leading expert on Soviet-era computing.

Turn on captions for the English translation.

Described by some as the “Soviet Alan Turing,” Sergey Lebedev had been thinking about computing as far back as the 1930’s, until interrupted by war. In 1946 he was made director of Kyiv’s Institute of Electrical Engineering. Soon after, stories of “electronic brains” in the West began to circulate and his interest in computing revived.

Sergey Lebedev*

Initially, Lebedev’s superiors were skeptical, and some in his team felt working on a “calculator”—how they thought of a computer—was a step backward compared to electrical and space systems research. Lebedev pressed on regardless, eventually finding funding from the Rocketry department and space to work in a derelict former monastery in Feofania, on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Work on MESM got going properly at the end of 1948 and, considering the challenges, the rate of progress was remarkable. Ukraine was still struggling to recover from the devastation of its occupation during WWII, and many of Kyiv’s buildings lay in ruins. The monastery in Feofania was among the buildings destroyed during the war, so the MESM team had to build their working quarters from scratch—the laboratory, metalworking shop, even the power station that would provide electricity. Although small—just 20 people—the team was extraordinarily committed. They worked in shifts 24 hours a day, and many lived in rooms above the laboratory. (You can listen to a lively account of this time in programme 3 of the BBC’s ”Electronic brains” series.)

MESM and team members in 1951. From left to right: Lev Dashevsky, Zoya Zorina-Rapota, Lidiya Abalyshnikova, Tamara Petsukh, Evgeniy Dedeshko

MESM ran its first program on November 6, 1950, and went into full-time operation in 1951. In 1952, MESM was used for top-secret calculations relating to rocketry and nuclear bombs, and continued to aid the Institute’s research right up to 1957. By then, Lebedev had moved to Moscow to lead the construction of the next generation of Soviet supercomputers, cementing his place as a giant of European computing. As for MESM, it met a more prosaic fate—broken into parts and studied by engineering students in the labs at Kyiv’s Polytechnic Institute.

*All photos thanks to

Posted by Marina Tarasova, Communications Associate, Ukraine