Friday, March 23, 2012

[G] Street View on Google Maps comes to Thailand

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Google Lat Long: Street View on Google Maps comes to Thailand

Last September, we announced with the Tourism Authority of Thailand that we would collect street-level imagery of Thailand via our Street View cars. Just as we started driving, however, 65 of the country’s 77 provinces experienced heavy flooding — resulting in one of the worst humanitarian and economic crises in the country’s long history.

While flood waters affected our original driving schedule, the team was determined to keep the cars on the roads by driving up-country and focusing on un-affected areas. And if the weather wasn’t enough of a challenge, how about carefully maneuvering Street View cars around curious elephants!

After six short months, it is with great pleasure that imagery of greater Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket is now available on Google Maps. We hope that locals in these areas find the panoramic views helpful for finding their way around their cities, discovering new restaurants and shops, and promoting their businesses online. Tourists can also get a preview of Thailand when planning vacations, figuring out travel logistics about the exact places to visit, or simply looking for more examples of the country’s hidden beauty.

Below you can see Bangkok’s Grand Palace, one of Thailand’s great national treasures. The 360-degree imagery in Google Maps provides an immersive sense of what this spot is like in ways that a single, still photo wouldn’t be able to encompass. For example, scroll around the panorama and you’ll see Bangkok’s bustling roads littered with brightly-painted tuk tuk auto rickshaws and hot pink taxis cruising down the streets.

The new imagery also includes breathtaking views from northern and southern Thailand, from sunny Laem Phrom Thep and Phang Nga Bay in Phuket, to famous temples like Wat Chiang Man or the mountain top monastery of Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. We will continue driving in Thailand throughout the year, so stay tuned for more imagery updates in the future.

In addition to today’s announcement about adding Thailand imagery to Google Maps’ Street View feature, we’re also thrilled that the Google Trike has arrived in Thailand. Using this unique vehicle, sometimes mistaken for an ice cream vendor, we will begin collecting imagery of new spots that the Street View car cannot reach. Together with our local partner, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, a poll has been opened at for Thais to decide where the Trike should go. Visit the site and let us know through photo, video, or text the Thai landmark you want to people all around the world to be able to virtually experience.

Despite the floods, Thailand had the highest-ever number of visitors in 2011 with 19 million guests. We hope that this new Street View imagery shows the world that Thailand is back — and ready for even more guests in 2012.

To check out a few Street View in Thailand and more collections around the world, including the Amazon Basin in Brazil, go to our new Street View gallery here.

Posted by Pornthip Kongchun, Head of Marketing, Thailand

[G] Measure your website’s performance with improved Site Speed reports

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Google Analytics Blog: Measure your website’s performance with improved Site Speed reports

In our continued effort to improve your experience of Google Analytics, we are excited to release an updated Site Speed report that distills all the key metrics into a quick & easy to read Overview report.

Site Speed Overview Report
The Overview report provides an at-a-glance view of essential information for measuring your site’s page loading metrics: Avg. Page Load Time by Browser, Country/Territory, and Page. Plus you can compare your site’s average performance over time to forecast trends and view historical performance. All of these tools can help you identify where your pages may be underperforming and adjust so more visitors land on your site instead of waiting in frustration or leaving.
Example of updated reports   

Previously there was only one Site Speed report, this has been renamed to “Page Timings”. On the Page Timings report, you can view your site's load times in three ways: use the Explorer tab to explore average load time across dimensions, use the Performance tab to see how the load times break down by speed ranges, or use the Map Overlay tab to see how the load times breakdown by geography.

Previous report, now Page Timings   

Speed metrics available in Intelligence Reports & API
The technical metrics included in the Page Timings report were launched a couple of months ago. So we’ve been working hard at making these metrics available in more of your favorite Analytics features. We’ve updated the Intelligence Reports to include the average site load times and all the Page Timings metrics. Now you can create custom alerts based on site speed metrics such as Avg. Page Load Time, Avg. Server Response Time. And view site speed metrics in the Analytics API and Custom Reports.

Site Speed Sample Rate
Small sites (<10K visits per day) can now increase the site speed sample rate up to 100% to get full samples for page load time. Note that the processing limit of up to 10K per day or 1% of pageview hits (whichever is greater) still applies.

- Mustafa M. Tikir, Google Analytics team

[G] Google Summer of Code 2012 Meetup held in Rome

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Google Open Source Blog: Google Summer of Code 2012 Meetup held in Rome

On March 15th about 30 students participated in the Google Summer of Code info session held at Fusolab in Rome, Italy by Some of the students were well known in the local community and have been participating in the development of open source software, while others were excited to start working on open source. There's always a first time to work on open source software development and we think Google Summer of Code is the best occasion to do it! A few of the students were slightly concerned about the overlap between the program and their exams in July but the mentors explained that with careful and realistic planning delivering a successful project is definitely achievable.

Photo taken by Federico Capoano is an Italian wireless community whose primary goal is to build a community of skilled people that participate in building open and decentralized wireless networks in the Italian peninsula for experimental purposes. For us the Google Summer of Code has been a great way to attract new promising and talented minds in our community. Many of the students that participated in previous years are still contributing, hacking and experimenting with new technologies with us.

We hope to contribute in forming the new generation that will push forward the open source philosophy applied to real life in our country. We believe the open source philosophy is the best approach in solving many of the issues in our society, so we put effort in applying it not only to software, but also to all our other activities. Collaborate, teach, learn and share. The Future is Now!

By Saverio Proto Google Summer of Code mentor for


Thursday, March 22, 2012

[G] A better way to buy display

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Inside AdWords: A better way to buy display

Display advertising has undergone a bit of a fairytale-like transformation over the past several years, from the medium of “Click Here!” banner ads, to one that can be smart and sexy and help bring big ideas (even those from advertising’s past) to life. Now that display has had its “Cinderella moment,” we figured the “carriage” could use an upgrade as well. So today, we’re unveiling some changes designed to simplify the way you buy and run display through AdWords.

Display’s New Home in AdWords
For nine years, AdWords customers have been buying display campaigns through an interface designed for search. This is like trying to run in glass slippers -- it might work, but it’d be a lot more effective with the right running shoes. So we’re giving display its own tab within AdWords. Rolling out over the next few weeks, the new Display Network Tab is an interface built from the ground up to run display campaigns, and will enable you to bid, target and optimize display campaigns all from a single place. Click the image below to see the different Display Network Tab targeting options.

Display Network Tab

A Revved-Up Contextual Engine
The contextual engine, which matches ads to pages based on keywords, is at the heart of display-buying through AdWords. We’ve been hard at work behind-the-scenes to give this engine its biggest enhancement ever, the ability to combine the reach of display with the precision of search, using Next-Gen Keyword Contextual Targeting. This means that you can fine-tune the performance of your contextual campaigns down to individual keyword level, which will help you take the performance of your marketing campaign to a completely new level. It’s now easier for you to extend search campaigns to display and more efficient to run the two types of campaigns together.

For example, let’s say you’re running display campaigns for a Travel Agency who offers a vacation packages in several Caribbean islands. In the past, you would have created themed ad groups targeting vacations to Turks and Caicos and the Caribbean. Now, with this new keyword level transparency you might realize that the keyword “Turks and Caicos vacations” is 4 times more profitable than the keyword “caribbean vacations”. You can optimize your campaigns to aggressively target these high performing keywords, and be more conservative on “caribbean vacations”.

Giving a Visual Edge
And like the writers of the best fairytales know, sometimes pictures communicate better than words (or numbers). Along with the new Display Network Tab and contextual engine, we’re introducing a way to visualize the reach of your campaigns, and see how that reach is impacted by combining multiple targeting types, such as keywords, placements, topics, interests or remarketing.

These changes are some of our biggest steps to date towards bringing together the science of search advertising with the art of display. We hope they give you some powerful new tools to connect with their customers and deliver engaging and relevant display ads.

Learn More
We’re rolling out the new Display Network Tab to all advertisers in the upcoming coming weeks.
For more information on what’s new on the Display Network Tab visit our help center article.

Please join Google in our upcoming webinar on May 15th to learn more about optimizing your targeting strategies for campaigns using the Next-Gen Keyword Contextual Targeting. Check out our new webinar page to register.

Watch Brad Bender, Director of Product Management for Display talk about the new Display Network Tab and the Next-Gen Keyword Contextual Targeting.

Posted by Alok Goel, Product Manager Next Gen-Keyword Contextual Targeting, Rebecca Illowsky, Product Manager Display Network Tab, and Claire Cui, Principal Engineer

[G] Excellent Papers for 2011

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Research Blog: Excellent Papers for 2011

Posted by Corinna Cortes and Alfred Spector, Google Research

Googlers across the company actively engage with the scientific community by publishing technical papers, contributing open-source packages, working on standards, introducing new APIs and tools, giving talks and presentations, participating in ongoing technical debates, and much more. Our publications offer technical and algorithmic advances, feature aspects we learn as we develop novel products and services, and shed light on some of the technical challenges we face at Google.

In an effort to highlight some of our work, we periodically select a number of publications to be featured on this blog. We first posted a set of papers on this blog in mid-2010 and subsequently discussed them in more detail in the following blog postings. In a second round, we highlighted new noteworthy papers from the later half of 2010. This time we honor the influential papers authored or co-authored by Googlers covering all of 2011 -- covering roughly 10% of our total publications.  It’s tough choosing, so we may have left out some important papers.  So, do see the publications list to review the complete group.

In the coming weeks we will be offering a more in-depth look at these publications, but here are some summaries:

Audio processing

Cascades of two-pole–two-zero asymmetric resonators are good models of peripheral auditory function”, Richard F. Lyon, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, vol. 130 (2011), pp. 3893-3904.
Lyon's long title summarizes a result that he has been working toward over many years of modeling sound processing in the inner ear.  This nonlinear cochlear model is shown to be "good" with respect to psychophysical data on masking, physiological data on mechanical and neural response, and computational efficiency. These properties derive from the close connection between wave propagation and filter cascades. This filter-cascade model of the ear is used as an efficient sound processor for several machine hearing projects at Google.

Electronic Commerce and Algorithms

Online Vertex-Weighted Bipartite Matching and Single-bid Budgeted Allocations”, Gagan AggarwalGagan Goel, Chinmay Karande, Aranyak Mehta, SODA 2011.
The authors introduce an elegant and powerful algorithmic technique to the area of online ad allocation and matching: a hybrid of random perturbations and greedy choice to make decisions on the fly. Their technique sheds new light on classic matching algorithms, and can be used, for example, to pick one among a set of relevant ads, without knowing in advance the demand for ad slots on future web page views.

Milgram-routing in social networks”, Silvio Lattanzi, Alessandro Panconesi, D. Sivakumar, Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on World Wide Web, WWW 2011, pp. 725-734.
Milgram’s "six-degrees-of-separation experiment" and the fascinating small world hypothesis that follows from it, have generated a lot of interesting research in recent years. In this landmark experiment, Milgram showed that people unknown to each other are often connected by surprisingly short chains of acquaintances. In the paper we prove theoretically and experimentally how a recent model of social networks, "Affiliation Networks", offers an explanation to this phenomena and inspires interesting technique for local routing within social networks.

Non-Price Equilibria in Markets of Discrete Goods”, Avinatan Hassidim, Haim Kaplan, Yishay Mansour, Noam Nisan, EC, 2011.
We present a correspondence between markets of indivisible items, and a family of auction based n player games. We show that a market has a price based (Walrasian) equilibrium if and only if the corresponding game has a pure Nash equilibrium. We then turn to markets which do not have a Walrasian equilibrium (which is the interesting case), and study properties of the mixed Nash equilibria of the corresponding games.


From Basecamp to Summit: Scaling Field Research Across 9 Locations”, Jens Riegelsberger, Audrey Yang, Konstantin Samoylov, Elizabeth Nunge, Molly Stevens, Patrick Larvie, CHI 2011 Extended Abstracts.
The paper reports on our experience with a basecamp research hub to coordinate logistics and ongoing real-time analysis with research teams in the field. We also reflect on the implications for the meaning of research in a corporate context, where much of the value may be less in a final report, but more in the curated impressions and memories our colleagues take away from the the research trip.

User-Defined Motion Gestures for Mobile Interaction”, Jaime Ruiz, Yang Li, Edward Lank, CHI 2011: ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, pp. 197-206.
Modern smartphones contain sophisticated sensors that can detect rich motion gestures — deliberate movements of the device by end-users to invoke commands. However, little is known about best-practices in motion gesture design for the mobile computing paradigm. We systematically studied the design space of motion gestures via a guessability study that elicits end-user motion gestures to invoke commands on a smartphone device. The study revealed consensus among our participants on parameters of movement and on mappings of motion gestures onto commands, by which we developed a taxonomy for motion gestures and compiled an end-user inspired motion gesture set. The work lays the foundation of motion gesture design—a new dimension for mobile interaction.

Information Retrieval

Reputation Systems for Open Collaboration”, B.T. Adler, L. de Alfaro, A. Kulshrestra, I. Pye, Communications of the ACM, vol. 54 No. 8 (2011), pp. 81-87.
This paper describes content based reputation algorithms, that rely on automated content analysis to derive user and content reputation, and their applications for Wikipedia and google Maps. The Wikipedia reputation system WikiTrust relies on a chronological analysis of user contributions to articles, metering positive or negative increments of reputation whenever new contributions are made. The Google Maps system Crowdsensus compares the information provided by users on map business listings and computes both a likely reconstruction of the correct listing and a reputation value for each user. Algorithmic-based user incentives ensure the trustworthiness of evaluations of Wikipedia entries and Google Maps business information.

Machine Learning and Data Mining

Domain adaptation in regression”, Corinna Cortes, Mehryar Mohri, Proceedings of The 22nd International Conference on Algorithmic Learning Theory, ALT 2011.
Domain adaptation is one of the most important and challenging problems in machine learning.  This paper presents a series of theoretical guarantees for domain adaptation in regression, gives an adaptation algorithm based on that theory that can be cast as a semi-definite programming problem, derives an efficient solution for that problem by using results from smooth optimization, shows that the solution can scale to relatively large data sets, and reports extensive empirical results demonstrating the benefits of this new adaptation algorithm.

On the necessity of irrelevant variables”, David P. Helmbold, Philip M. Long, ICML, 2011
Relevant variables sometimes do much more good than irrelevant variables do harm, so that it is possible to learn a very accurate classifier using predominantly irrelevant variables.  We show that this holds given an assumption that formalizes the intuitive idea that the variables are non-redundant.  For problems like this it can be advantageous to add many additional variables, even if only a small fraction of them are relevant.

Online Learning in the Manifold of Low-Rank Matrices”, Gal Chechik, Daphna Weinshall, Uri Shalit, Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS 23), 2011, pp. 2128-2136.
Learning measures of similarity from examples of similar and dissimilar pairs is a problem that is hard to scale. LORETA uses retractions, an operator from matrix optimization, to learn low-rank similarity matrices efficiently. This allows to learn similarities between objects like images or texts when represented using many more features than possible before.

Machine Translation

Training a Parser for Machine Translation Reordering”, Jason Katz-Brown, Slav Petrov, Ryan McDonald, Franz Och, David Talbot, Hiroshi Ichikawa, Masakazu Seno, Proceedings of the 2011 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP '11).
Machine translation systems often need to understand the syntactic structure of a sentence to translate it correctly. Traditionally, syntactic parsers are evaluated as standalone systems against reference data created by linguists. Instead, we show how to train a parser to optimize reordering accuracy in a machine translation system, resulting in measurable improvements in translation quality over a more traditionally trained parser.

Watermarking the Outputs of Structured Prediction with an application in Statistical Machine Translation”, Ashish Venugopal, Jakob Uszkoreit, David Talbot, Franz Och, Juri Ganitkevitch, Proceedings of the 2011 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP).
We propose a general method to watermark and probabilistically identify the structured results of machine learning algorithms with an application in statistical machine translation. Our approach does not rely on controlling or even knowing the inputs to the algorithm and provides probabilistic guarantees on the ability to identify collections of results from one’s own algorithm, while being robust to limited editing operations.

Inducing Sentence Structure from Parallel Corpora for Reordering”, John DeNero, Jakob UszkoreitProceedings of the 2011 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP).
Automatically discovering the full range of linguistic rules that govern the correct use of language is an appealing goal, but extremely challenging.  Our paper describes a targeted method for discovering only those aspects of linguistic syntax necessary to explain how two different languages differ in their word ordering.  By focusing on word order, we demonstrate an effective and practical application of unsupervised grammar induction that improves a Japanese to English machine translation system.

Multimedia and Computer Vision

Kernelized Structural SVM Learning for Supervised Object Segmentation”, Luca Bertelli, Tianli Yu, Diem Vu, Burak Gokturk,Proceedings of IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition 2011.
The paper proposes a principled way for computers to learn how to segment the foreground from the background of an image given a set of training examples. The technology is build upon a specially designed nonlinear segmentation kernel under the recently proposed structured SVM learning framework.

Auto-Directed Video Stabilization with Robust L1 Optimal Camera Paths”, Matthias Grundmann, Vivek Kwatra, Irfan Essa, IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR 2011).
Casually shot videos captured by handheld or mobile cameras suffer from significant amount of shake. Existing in-camera stabilization methods dampen high-frequency jitter but do not suppress low-frequency movements and bounces, such as those observed in videos captured by a walking person. On the other hand, most professionally shot videos usually consist of carefully designed camera configurations, using specialized equipment such as tripods or camera dollies, and employ ease-in and ease-out for transitions. Our stabilization technique automatically converts casual shaky footage into more pleasant and professional looking videos by mimicking these cinematographic principles. The original, shaky camera path is divided into a set of segments, each approximated by either constant, linear or parabolic motion, using an algorithm based on robust L1 optimization. The stabilizer has been part of the YouTube Editor ( since March 2011.

The Power of Comparative Reasoning”, Jay Yagnik, Dennis Strelow, David Ross, Ruei-Sung Lin, International Conference on Computer Vision (2011).
The paper describes a theory derived vector space transform that converts vectors into sparse binary vectors such that Euclidean space operations on the sparse binary vectors imply rank space operations in the original vector space. The transform a) does not need any data-driven supervised/unsupervised learning b) can be computed from polynomial expansions of the input space in linear time (in the degree of the polynomial) and c) can be implemented in 10-lines of code. We show competitive results on similarity search and sparse coding (for classification) tasks.


Unsupervised Part-of-Speech Tagging with Bilingual Graph-Based Projections”, Dipanjan Das, Slav Petrov, Proceedings of the 49th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL '11), 2011, Best Paper Award.
We would like to have natural language processing systems for all languages, but obtaining labeled data for all languages and tasks is unrealistic and expensive. We present an approach which leverages existing resources in one language (for example English) to induce part-of-speech taggers for languages without any labeled training data. We use graph-based label propagation for cross-lingual knowledge transfer and use the projected labels as features in a hidden Markov model trained with the Expectation Maximization algorithm.


TCP Fast Open”, Sivasankar Radhakrishnan, Yuchung Cheng, Jerry Chu, Arvind Jain, Barath Raghavan, Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on emerging Networking EXperiments and Technologies (CoNEXT), 2011.
TCP Fast Open enables data exchange during TCP’s initial handshake. It decreases application network latency by one full round-trip time, a significant speedup for today's short Web transfers. Our experiments on popular websites show that Fast Open reduces the whole-page load time over 10% on average, and in some cases up to 40%.

Proportional Rate Reduction for TCP”, Nandita Dukkipati, Matt Mathis, Yuchung Cheng, Monia Ghobadi, Proceedings of the 11th ACM SIGCOMM Conference on Internet Measurement 2011, Berlin, Germany - November 2-4, 2011.
Packet losses increase latency of Web transfers and negatively impact user experience. Proportional rate reduction (PRR) is designed to recover from losses quickly, smoothly and accurately by pacing out retransmissions across received ACKs during TCP’s fast recovery. Experiments on Google Web and YouTube servers in U.S. and India demonstrate that PRR reduces the TCP latency of connections experiencing losses by 3-10% depending on response size.

Security and Privacy

Automated Analysis of Security-Critical JavaScript APIs”, Ankur Taly, Úlfar Erlingsson, John C. Mitchell, Mark S. Miller, Jasvir Nagra, IEEE Symposium on Security & Privacy (SP), 2011.
As software is increasingly written in high-level, type-safe languages, attackers have fewer means to subvert system fundamentals, and attacks are more likely to exploit errors and vulnerabilities in application-level logic.  This paper describes a generic, practical defense against such attacks, which can protect critical application resources even when those resources are partially exposed to attackers via software interfaces.  In the context of carefully-crafted fragments of JavaScript, the paper applies formal methods and semantics to prove that these defenses can provide complete, non-circumventable mediation of resource access; the paper also shows how an implementation of the techniques can establish the properties of widely-used software, and find previously-unknown bugs.

App Isolation: Get the Security of Multiple Browsers with Just One”, Eric Y. Chen, Jason Bau, Charles Reis, Adam Barth, Collin Jackson, 18th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, 2011.
We find that anecdotal advice to use a separate web browser for sites like your bank is indeed effective at defeating most cross-origin web attacks.  We also prove that a single web browser can provide the same key properties, for sites that fit within the compatibility constraints.


Improving the speed of neural networks on CPUs”, Vincent Vanhoucke, Andrew Senior, Mark Z. Mao, Deep Learning and Unsupervised Feature Learning Workshop, NIPS 2011.
As deep neural networks become state-of-the-art in real-time machine learning applications such as speech recognition, computational complexity is fast becoming a limiting factor in their adoption. We show how to best leverage modern CPU architectures to significantly speed-up their inference.

Bayesian Language Model Interpolation for Mobile Speech Input”, Cyril Allauzen, Michael Riley, Interspeech 2011.
Voice recognition on the Android platform must contend with many possible target domains - e.g. search, maps, SMS. For each of these, a domain-specific language model was built by linearly interpolating several n-gram LMs from a common set of Google corpora. The current work has found a way to efficiently compute a single n-gram language model with accuracy very close to the domain-specific LMs but with considerably less complexity at recognition time.


Large-Scale Parallel Statistical Forecasting Computations in R”, Murray Stokely, Farzan Rohani, Eric Tassone, JSM Proceedings, Section on Physical and Engineering Sciences, 2011.
This paper describes the implementation of a framework for utilizing distributed computational infrastructure from within the R interactive statistical computing environment, with applications to timeseries forecasting. This system is widely used by the statistical analyst community at Google for data analysis on very large data sets.

Structured Data

Dremel: Interactive Analysis of Web-Scale Datasets”, Sergey Melnik, Andrey Gubarev, Jing Jing Long, Geoffrey Romer, Shiva Shivakumar, Matt Tolton, Communications of the ACM, vol. 54 (2011), pp. 114-123.
Dremel is a scalable, interactive ad-hoc query system. By combining multi-level execution trees and columnar data layout, it is capable of running aggregation queries over trillion-row tables in seconds. Besides continued growth internally to Google, Dremel now also backs an increasing number of external customers including BigQuery and UIs such as AdExchange front-end.

Representative Skylines using Threshold-based Preference Distributions”, Atish Das Sarma, Ashwin Lall, Danupon Nanongkai, Richard J. Lipton, Jim Xu, International Conference on Data Engineering (ICDE), 2011.
The paper adopts principled approach towards representative skylines and formalizes the problem of displaying k tuples such that the probability that a random user clicks on one of them is maximized. This requires mathematically modeling (a) the likelihood with which a user is interested in a tuple, as well as (b) how one negotiates the lack of knowledge of an explicit set of users. This work presents theoretical and experimental results showing that the suggested algorithm significantly outperforms previously suggested approaches.

Hyper-local, directions-based ranking of places”, Petros Venetis, Hector Gonzalez, Alon Y. Halevy, Christian S. Jensen, PVLDB, vol. 4(5) (2011), pp. 290-30.
Click through information is one of the strongest signals we have for ranking web pages. We propose an equivalent signal for raking real world places: The number of times that people ask for precise directions to the address of the place. We show that this signal is competitive in quality with human reviews while being much cheaper to collect, we also show that the signal can be incorporated efficiently into a location search system.


Power Management of Online Data-Intensive Services”, David Meisner, Christopher M. Sadler, Luiz André Barroso, Wolf-Dietrich Weber, Thomas F. Wenisch, Proceedings of the 38th ACM International Symposium on Computer Architecture, 2011.
Compute and data intensive Web services (such as Search) are a notoriously hard target for energy savings techniques. This article characterizes the statistical hardware activity behavior of servers running Web search and discusses the potential opportunities of existing and proposed energy savings techniques.

The Impact of Memory Subsystem Resource Sharing on Datacenter Applications”, Lingjia Tang, Jason Mars, Neil Vachharajani, Robert Hundt, Mary-Lou Soffa, ISCA, 2011.
In this work, the authors expose key characteristics of an emerging class of Google-style workloads and show how to enhance system software to take advantage of these characteristics to improve efficiency in data centers. The authors find that across datacenter applications, there is both a sizable benefit and a potential degradation from improperly sharing micro-architectural resources on a single machine (such as on-chip caches and bandwidth to memory). The impact of co-locating threads from multiple applications with diverse memory behavior changes the optimal mapping of thread to cores for each application. By employing an adaptive thread-to-core mapper, the authors improved the performance of the datacenter applications by up to 22% over status quo thread-to-core mapping, achieving performance within 3% of optimal.

Language-Independent Sandboxing of Just-In-Time Compilation and Self-Modifying Code”, Jason Ansel, Petr Marchenko, Úlfar Erlingsson, Elijah Taylor, Brad Chen, Derek Schuff, David Sehr, Cliff L. Biffle, Bennet S. Yee, ACM SIGPLAN Conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI), 2011.
Since its introduction in the early 90's, Software Fault Isolation, or SFI, has been a static code technique, commonly perceived as incompatible with dynamic libraries, runtime code generation, and other dynamic code.  This paper describes how to address this limitation and explains how the SFI techniques in Google Native Client were extended to support modern language implementations based on just-in-time code generation and runtime instrumentation. This work is already deployed in Google Chrome, benefitting millions of users, and was developed over a summer collaboration with three Ph.D. interns; it exemplifies how Research at Google is focused on rapidly bringing significant benefits to our users through groundbreaking technology and real-world products.

Thialfi: A Client Notification Service for Internet-Scale Applications”, Atul Adya, Gregory Cooper, Daniel Myers, Michael Piatek,Proc. 23rd ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (SOSP), 2011, pp. 129-142.
This paper describes a notification service that scales to hundreds of millions of users, provides sub-second latency in the common case, and guarantees delivery even in the presence of a wide variety of failures.  The service has been deployed in several popular Google applications including Chrome, Google Plus, and Contacts.


[G] Google Voice for Android, now with Ice Cream Sandwich voicemail integration

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Official Google Mobile Blog: Google Voice for Android, now with Ice Cream Sandwich voicemail integration

(Cross posted on the Google Voice Blog)

Since we launched Google Voice back in 2009, we’ve supported visual voicemail so you could open the Google Voice app, see all your voicemails with text transcripts, and play them on-demand. But sometimes when I get a missed call, I don’t want to jump between my call log and the Google Voice app to see who has called me and what message they left.

So, today, we’re updating our mobile app so you can view and listen to your voicemails on demand directly from the call log on your Android phone. Your voicemails will appear alongside your outgoing, incoming, and missed calls in your phone’s call log and you can just simply touch them to play them. You can slow down the playback of the message which is great for when someone is telling you their callback number, or you even speed playback up, so you can quickly listen to longer messages.

To turn this feature on, download the latest app from Google Play and check “Voicemail display” under settings. This new feature requires Android 4.0+.

Posted by Yong-Hoon Choi, Software Engineer

[G] Better Insights with Flow Visualization Enhancements

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Google Analytics Blog: Better Insights with Flow Visualization Enhancements

We've been listening to your feedback about Flow Visualization, and we’re excited to announce a number of significant upgrades that are available to all our users starting today.

Events Flow
We’ve expanded the Flow Visualization family of reports to now include Events Flow! This new feature can be found in the Content->Events section:

What problem does Events Flow help solve?
Event-driven websites had a difficult time analyzing the impact from their visitors using flow visualization. These are websites that land users on one URL, where there are multiple elements on that page for a user to interact with  (such as videos, roll over buttons, or games). These sites tend to have very few pages and get most of their value from visitor interactions with events. The Events Flow report addresses this issue by showing the order of events in which your visitors engaged.

For those who have used Visitors Flow before, the feel of the Events Flow report will be familiar - it includes all the same interactions of hovering, clicking, and adding additional steps. You can also analyze the flow of events by grouping the nodes in any of the following 3 options: Category, Category/Action, or Category/Action/Label.  For more information about using the Events Flow report, view our help center or this how to video to see how we analyzed the events that occurred in our very own Flow Visualization reports!

Flow Visualization Date Comparison
You can now compare two date ranges for the entire family of Flow Visualization reports: Visitors Flow, Goal Flow, and even the new Events Flow. This feature will help you to gain insights on how your visitor engagement changes over different periods of time.

Example of Goal Flow Date Comparison

Now you can analyze and measure how changes to your pages and/or goal steps affect your visitors behavior. It optimizes your workflow by removing the need to perform manual calculations and open two browsers to view two flow visualizations side-by-side. You can now do them all in one screen.

Plus, you can also highlight connections and instantly update all the comparison numbers for that particular traffic. Below is a real-life example from our Google Store. We compared two time periods (where we have removed a particular goal step) and discovered that pageviews from Firefox went down 15%.

From an initial impression, one might have concluded that the removal of the goal step could have potentially lower the traffic. However by highlighting that flow we were able to isolate that traffic to see how many orders were successfully completed. That was how we learned the number of orders actually went up 67%, and the removal of the goal step helped increased our conversion rates!

This feature can be extremely powerful for gaining additional insights on how to optimize conversions and the website experience for your visitors. Learn more in our help center.

Additional Goal Types in Goal Flow 
Are you interested in seeing how users convert on non-URL goals? Now you can, we’ve added support for additional types of goals including time on site and engagement in the Goal Flow report. Head on over to the Goal Flow report to choose the goal(s) you’re interested in.

Here are links that will help you easily find these reports in your Google Analytics account.
We hope these enhancements make Flow Visualization even more comprehensive and allow you to gain deeper insights. Please reach out to us with questions and comments, and we are always happy to take additional feature requests.

- Jerry Hong, Google Analytics team

[G] Explore Poland on Street View

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Google Lat Long: Explore Poland on Street View

This June, the eyes of soccer fans from around the world will be on Poland and Ukraine as they host the 2012 European Football Championship. In addition to the more than one million tourists expected to visit Poland alone, now everyone can explore this beautiful country that just became available via the Street View feature in Google Maps today.

Located in the heart of Europe, Poland has a great history and many fascinating sites. Street View now allows you to take a virtual walk around Cracow, named one of the most interesting cities to visit in Europe. Cracow’s Main Square dates back to 13th century and is one of the largest market squares in Europe.

In Warsaw, the capital of Poland, you can explore the Old Town, part of the city which was completely destroyed during World War II and now is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Poland also has some great places to spend free time and relax. On the seaside you can have walk on the longest European wooden pier, which is located in Sopot. Travel 700km south and you’ll be in the Tatra mountains, where you can have a beautiful view of Dolina Chochołowska, or have a walk on Krupówki street in Zakopane.

Whether you are planning your visit for the European Football Championships in June or you simply want to explore our country at the heart of Europe, we hope you enjoy this special view of Poland.

To view other collections around the globe, including the Amazon, you can visit our new Street View gallery here.

Posted by Joanna Borowska-Perek, Google Poland

[G] Visit the Amazon on World Forest Day with Street View

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Google Lat Long: Visit the Amazon on World Forest Day with Street View

(Cross Posted on Official Google Blog)

Last August, a few members of our Brazil and U.S. Street View and Google Earth Outreach teams were invited to the Amazon Basin to collect ground-level images of the rivers, forest and communities in the Rio Negro Reserve. Today, on World Forest Day, we’re making those images available through the Street View feature on Google Maps. Now anyone can experience the beauty and diversity of the Amazon.

Tributary of the Rio Negro - View Larger Map

Take a virtual boat ride down the main section of the Rio Negro, and float up into the smaller tributaries where the forest is flooded. Stroll along the paths of Tumbira, the largest community in the Reserve, or visit some of the other communities who invited us to share their lives and cultures. Enjoy a hike along an Amazon forest trail and see where Brazil nuts are harvested. You can even see a forest critter if you look hard enough!

Amazon Rainforest - View Larger Map

This project was made possible in partnership with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), the local nonprofit conservation organization that invited us to the area. We used the Street View trike and a tripod camera with a fisheye lens—typically used to capture imagery of business interiors—to capture both the natural landscape and the local communities. In all, more than 50,000 still photos were stitched together to create these immersive, 360-degree panoramic views:

Many areas of the Amazon, including Rio Negro Reserve, are under the protection of the Brazilian government with restricted access to the public, so we hope that this Street View collection provides access to this special corner of the planet that many of us otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to experience. Together with FAS, we’re thrilled to help everyone from researchers and scientists to armchair explorers around the world learn more about the Amazon, and better understand how local communities there are working to preserve this unique environment for future generations.

To do this directly from maps you can go to Brazil map and drag Pegman to the Rio Negro River

Start exploring this portion of the Amazon and other collections around the world on the updated Street View site and gallery.

Posted by Karin Tuxen-Bettman, Project Lead for Google Street View in the Amazon

[G] Doubling Down on Publishers

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DoubleClick Publisher Blog: Doubling Down on Publishers

This morning, I had the pleasure of addressing the third-annual Admeld Partner Forum in New York. When we completed our acquisition of Admeld this past December, we said that we’d be looking at how to bring the best of their products and ours together to help us achieve our shared vision: helping our publisher partners make the web work for them, and get the most out of what online advertising has to offer. 

Over the past couple of months our teams have been hard at work figuring out exactly how this might happen. Today, we’d like to put our cards on the table and share what we’ve done and where we’re headed. 

Investing in the team: We realize that helping our partners succeed requires not just the right products, but the right people. So we’re investing in the team, bringing together our sales and services teams from across the DoubleClick Ad Exchange and Admeld. This enables a continued focus on high-touch service for Admeld’s publisher partners, and also boosts Admeld’s presence across the globe.<

Tapping new pools of demand: Next quarter, we’ll start offering AdX Connect, a way for Admeld clients to start getting access to demand from the DoubleClick Ad Exchange. We’ll also be enhancing the advertiser, buyer, and bid transparency levels in the exchange, so that they are comparable with those currently provided to Admeld publishers.

Connecting the dots with DFP: We’re taking two big steps towards tying together Admeld and DoubleClick for Publishers: making it much easier for publishers to leverage SSP-style ad network optimization functionality directly within the DFP platform, and building an API so that Admeld’s mobile optimization capabilities will be more fluidly integrated with DFP mobile.

While we’re excited about these changes, they are just the initial steps. Our long term goal is to create a single, seamless platform for publishers that allows them to manage all their inventory -- across desktop, video and mobile -- with the control and flexibility their businesses require. Our publisher partners make the web the wonderful place that it is today, and by empowering their continued growth and success, we all come away winners. 

Posted by Neal Mohan, Vice President, Display Advertising

[G] SIGCSE 2012 Was Inspiring!

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Google Open Source Blog: SIGCSE 2012 Was Inspiring!

Earlier this month I was honored to attend the ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) conference held in Raleigh, North Carolina with 1,300 other attendees. The conference attracts a dynamic and diverse group of students, educators, academics, and industry professionals who are all working toward stronger computer science education. This year’s theme “Teaching, Learning, and Collaborating” drove the discussions to topics such as classroom presentation technologies, on-line collaboration tools, new educational techniques, as well as acquiring hands-on experience with new hardware and software (including software development environments).

On Thursday evening I hosted a Birds of a Feather (BoF) session on Google Summer of Code and Google Code-in where we talked about both programs in depth and gave everyone in attendance more information in the form of flyers as well as directing them to our website. I encouraged everyone to either apply to be a student in Google Summer of Code or spread the word to students they knew that might be interested in open source software development. People streamed in and out during our session so we were able to get the word out to quite a few people at the conference.

Below is a picture of a few of our attendees at the end of the session.

All the people I met or spoke to were inspiring: they all were very interested in participating and spreading the word about our programs and about technology and computer science. We may have encouraged some of the students to apply to the programs, especially the Google Summer of Code which starts in a couple of weeks!

By Carol Smith, Open Source Team


[G] Customize your search preferences

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Blogger Buzz: Customize your search preferences

Hi Bloggers.

Ensuring that your blog, posts, and images are accurately indexed so they appear correctly in search results is valuable. Today we introduced a suite of new features that enable you to more effectively customize your search preferences. Managing how your blog is viewed by search engines is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy blog, regardless of whether you’re new to blogging, or a seasoned veteran.

Here’s an overview of what we added:

The first thing you’ll notice is a new “Search preferences” option under the “Settings” tab.

Clicking it will display three sub-sections: Meta Tags, Errors and Redirections, and Crawlers and Indexing. When enabled, some of these features, such as Search Description and Custom robots header tags will also appear in the “Post settings” area of Blogger's post editor as well. For example, if you elect to create a Search Description, you may do so for your blog, and/or individual posts.

Also available is the ability to add a custom “Page Not Found” (eg. a “404”) message, and Custom Redirects for pages on your blog.
While most of the new features are located in the Settings tab, a few others can be found in the post editor. For example, we’ve introduced the ability to incorporate “alt” and “title” tags to images in your post.

Last but not least, you’ll also find a “rel=nofollow” link attribute in the link tool. Checking this box means that you don’t want this link to be considered when web crawlers are searching for information they’ll use to index your page.
While most of these features are easy to understand and use, others, such as custom robots header tags are geared toward advanced users only, hence the warning message:
Before diving in, I would encourage a quick read through the Help Center articles. They’re comprehensive, and do a great job translating some technical concepts to the layperson.

We hope you enjoy the new features. It’s all part of our effort to bring you a much improved and modernized Blogger. Next week, we’ll be holding a Hangout on our Google+ page to talk with you about your experience with these features and answer your questions. Follow us on +Blogger for details.

Happy blogging!

Bruce Polderman, Product Manager

[G] Google Voice for Android, now with Ice Cream Sandwich voicemail integration

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Google Voice Blog: Google Voice for Android, now with Ice Cream Sandwich voicemail integration

Since we launched Google Voice back in 2009, we’ve supported visual voicemail so you could open the Google Voice app, see all your voicemails with text transcripts, and play them on-demand. But sometimes when I get a missed call, I don’t want to jump between my call log and the Google Voice app to see who has called me and what message they left.

So, today, we’re updating our mobile app so you can view and listen to your voicemails on demand directly from the call log on your Android phone. Your voicemails will appear alongside your outgoing, incoming, and missed calls in your phone’s call log and you can just simply touch them to play them. You can slow down the playback of the message which is great for when someone is telling you their callback number, or you even speed playback up, so you can quickly listen to longer messages.

To turn this feature on, download the latest app from Google Play and check “Voicemail display” under settings. This new feature requires Android 4.0+.

Posted by Yong-Hoon Choi, Software Engineer

[G] Ideas worthy of space travel: The YouTube Space Lab global winners

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Official Google Blog: Ideas worthy of space travel: The YouTube Space Lab global winners

Can you teach an old spider new tricks? Could better understanding alien superbugs cure diseases on Earth? These are the questions that will be asked by the two winning experiments of YouTube Space Lab, the science competition that challenged students from 14 to 18 years old to design a science experiment that could be performed in space. Your votes and our expert judges chose the winners from thousands of entries from around the world. Experiments submitted by Dorothy and Sara, from Troy, Mich., U.S. (winners in the 14-16-year-old age group) and Amr from Alexandria, Egypt (winner in the 17-18-year-old age group) will be performed aboard the International Space Station and live streamed to the world on YouTube.

Meet Amr from Alexandria, Egypt
Global Winner, 17-18-year-old age group:

Meet Dorothy and Sara from Troy, Mich., U.S.
Global Winners, 14-16-year-old age group:

Sunita Williams—the NASA astronaut who’ll fly to the International Space Station later this year and perform the winning experiments live on YouTube—announced the global winners at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C., where the six regional winning teams were gathered. While in Washington, all the teams also took a ZERO-G weightless flight and a private tour of the the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum.

In addition to having their experiments performed in space, Amr, Dorothy and Sara get to choose between one of two awesome space adventures: a trip to Japan to watch their experiment blast off in a rocket bound for the ISS or, once they’re 18 years old, a week-long astronaut course in Star City, Russia, the training center for Russian cosmonauts.

Subscribe to the YouTube Space Lab channel for all the best space playlists and to check out video of the winners on their ZERO-G flight. Stay tuned for the live stream from space, which will take place later this year.

Posted by Zahaan Bharmal, head of marketing operations in EMEA