Friday, August 31, 2012

[G] Google Maps Roundup: From Canada to Latin America to Europe, August was a busy month!

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Google Lat Long: Google Maps Roundup: From Canada to Latin America to Europe, August was a busy month!


We’re always working to make Google Maps even more comprehensive, accurate and useful. This month, we’ve crisscrossed the globe gathering more imagery, expanding features and growing our Map Maker community. In case you missed it, here are a few Google Maps highlights from August:

Explore amazing places with new Street View imagery
We recently released Street View imagery for more places around the world, making Google Maps even more comprehensive, including:


Get around more easily with the help of Google Maps

With enhanced directions, transit information and traffic data, Google Maps can help you get where you want to go more quickly. 
  • We added turn-by-turn, voice-guided biking navigation to Google Maps Navigation (Beta) in 12 countries--more than 330,000 miles of biking directions are now available.
  • For those of you taking public transportation, Google Maps now has public transportation schedules for more than one million transit stops worldwide in nearly 500 cities, including New York, London, Tokyo and Sydney.
  • To make it easier for you to travel by car, we launched real-time traffic conditions for more than 130 cities in the U.S., plus the capital cities of Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Contribute your local knowledge to Google Maps
Volunteer mappers can improve the accuracy and detail of the maps of their countries.
  • Our community mapping tool, Google Map Maker, became available in Ukraine and Poland, joining more than 200 other countries and regions where Map Maker is already available.

Posted by Brian McClendon, VP Google Maps and Earth
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2012/08/google-maps-roundup-from-canada-to.html

[G] The 2012 London Summer Paralympics Live on YouTube

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YouTube Blog: The 2012 London Summer Paralympics Live on YouTube

Missing the thrill of fierce global competitions and awesome displays of athletic prowess? Well, lucky for you, these things live on through the 2012 Summer Paralympics Games in London. The Paralympics just kicked off this Wednesday (check out the Opening Ceremony!) and will run through September 9th. This year, the Paralympics are more accessible and global than ever through YouTube.



Whether your favorite sport is powerlifting, sitting volleyball or wheelchair basketball, you can catch all the action on the International Paralympic Committee’s YouTube channel at youtube.com/paralympicsporttv. The channel will feature 500 hours of live competitions accompanied by a real-time commenting feature for viewers in the United States and Canada.  Additionally, others around the world have access to over 1000 hours of on-demand catch-up footage of current and previous games, interviews with Paralympic athletes and other behind-the-scenes footage.



Team USA fans can be sure to stay on top of their favorite athletes throughout the games and access original content made available by the United States Olympic Committee at youtube.com/teamusa.










One of the most anticipated competitions will no doubt be the T44 100m pitting South African superstar “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius against British sprinter John Peacock and American runner Jerome Singleton on September 6th. After making history when he competed in the Olympics several weeks ago, Pistorius will return to the Paralympics to see if he can defend his title. This is a race you certainly won’t want to miss!



Nor would you want to miss any of the action at this year’s Paralympics. If you’re like us, you’ll be tuning in morning, noon, and nights, over the coming weeks to catch the acts of sheer athleticism and stunning heroism that we’re sure will no doubt come out of the 2012 London Paralympics.



Happy Viewing!



Tommy O’Hare, Sports Content Manager, recently watched, “Channel 4 Paralympics - Meet the Superhumans (Annotated Version).


URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/youtube/PKJx/~3/WbH1efm3Y3w/the-2012-london-summer-paralympics-live.html

[G] Who’s New in Google Summer of Code 2012: Part 4

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Google Open Source Blog: Who’s New in Google Summer of Code 2012: Part 4







For the fourth installment of our series of posts highlighting new organizations participating in this year’s Google Summer of Code we have three organization administrators from the Open Lighting Project, Monkey and SimpleCV discuss their projects and their students’ work below.




The Open Lighting Project is an effort to build high quality, open source software for the entertainment lighting industry. As new control protocols were developed, we recognized the need to develop a comprehensive test suite to evaluate protocol implementations and check for cross-compatibility. In 2011, we developed a test suite, but running the tests requires familiarity with the unix command line and access to a Linux or Mac machine, something many manufacturers don't have.   


Our Google Summer of Code project for 2012 was to build a web frontend to the protocol tests, with the aim of making it much easier for manufacturers to run the tests prior to releasing a product. Over the course of 12 weeks our student, Ravindra Nath Kakarla, designed and built an interface which has received very positive reviews from engineers in the lighting industry. Ravindra's code has been merged into our main repository and is part of our latest release. We plan to start distributing stand alone testing appliances based on a Raspberry Pi and running Ravindra's code within the next month. 


With the availability of low cost testing appliances, there is now no excuse for manufacturers not to thoroughly test their products before release. We expect this to increase the general quality of equipment and reduce the number of inter-operability problems within the industry. 


By Simon Newton, Organization Administrator for the Open Lighting Project 


---------- 


Monkey is a small, fast and lightweight web server for GNU/Linux. It has been designed focusing on embedded devices, and is therefore, scalable by nature. It has a low memory footprint and CPU consumption, leading to an excellent performance.  


This is our first year as a mentoring organization in the Google Summer of Code and it has been a great experience in terms of how the community is growing plus the many goals achieved by our two students. Lauri Kasanen, from Finland, converted our base code in a HTTP shared library and several code base cleanups. Finishing his project pretty quickly Lauri also wrote a new CGI plugin from scratch, plus many other code base optimizations. Sourabh Chandak, from India, implemented a Redis support package for our web services framework called Duda, and is now creating a new package to support Memcached. In addition, during his work he helped troubleshoot issues and propose new features for the core API. All of these student contributions exceeded our expectations, and we are very happy with all of the work completed this summer. 


Thanks to everyone for this great opportunity, we are glad to contribute and support new people joining our community. 


By Eduardo Silva,  Monkey HTTP Daemon - Google Summer of Code Organization Administrator 


---------- 




SimpleCV is an open source python library that makes writing computer vision applications simple and fun. Our focus is creating a user interface that is intuitive so that computer vision can be used as a tool by makers, educators, and practical problem solvers. SimpleCV is a little over a year old, so we are still working on adding core functionality to the library.   


We had the pleasure of working with three Google Summer of Code students this year: Vijay Mahantesh, Jay Rambhia, and Victor Silva. Over that course of the summer we collaborated with the students to add tools to the library that expanded its functionality, but also resonated with the student’s interests in the subject of computer vision. We wanted the students to get a broad understanding of the tasks involved with supporting a large open source project. To this end the students spent a significant amount of time supporting users via our help forum, generating blog posts and videos to publicize their work, and maintaining the library by fielding bug reports and feature requests. It was a great summer. 


A few of the new features the students added to SimpleCV include:

  • Jay implemented a full tracking library that features mean shift tracking, Lucas-Kanade tracking, and Kalman Filter Tracking. He has also implemented a semi-working python port of OpenTLD. 





  • Feature point detection is a hot topic in computer vision as it allows users to identify objects irrespective of the camera’s viewpoint. Our student Vijay devoted significant time to improving our feature extraction library. 





  • Victor created a project template for making SimpleCV cell phone applications. This application allows you to quickly upload an image from your cellphone to a remote server for processing with SimpleCV. The processed image can then be returned to the user’s cell phone or displayed on the web. 





  • Our student, Jay, helped us fill in some of the gaps in SimpleCV by adding support for frequency space filters, the Sobel operator, enhanced line finding support, enhanced ipython notebook features, and Ubuntu installation scripts.  





  • Two cameras are often better than one and this is why humans and animals use stereo vision to navigate the world. To help students better understand depth perception Vijay added a complete stereo vision processing suite to SimpleCV.  





  • Animated GIFs are the currency of online bulletin boards and forums. They are also a great way to embed animated illustrations of vision processing algorithms. For this reason our student Victor added an animated gif library to SimpleCV to allow us to save SimpleCV results as animated  gifs and post them to the web. 




By Katherine Scott, SimpleCV Organization Administrator



These are just a few of the 45 new organizations participating in their first Google Summer of Code. Stay tuned next Friday for our fifth post where we will spotlight even more new organizations in this year’s program.



By Stephanie Taylor, Google Open Source Programs



URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/GoogleOpenSourceBlog/~3/dt3QvrHk1JI/whos-new-in-google-summer-of-code-2012_31.html

[G] Social Fridays: Create a Google+ page to connect with users

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Inside AdSense: Social Fridays: Create a Google+ page to connect with users


Welcome back to our Social Fridays series, where we’re providing tips for getting set up optimally on Google+ each week. Last week, we shared best practices around placing +1 buttons on your site and tracking their performance. Today, we’ll move on to creating a Google+ page for your site.



A Google+ page is the hub of your site’s identity on Google, and offers a number of tools to help you reach audiences in new ways. On your +page, you can share your articles, photos, YouTube videos, and even host live broadcasts. Your +page will also include a +1 button that users can click to recommend you. Think about your Google+ page as a way to complement your site, allowing you to grow and measure user engagement before directing users back to your pages for more of your great content. Creating a Google+ page is simple and takes just minutes.




 



Once you’ve set up your own +page, be sure to set up a content pipeline and post regularly.

One great way to engage with users via your +page is to host regular Google+ Hangouts. Hangouts are free, multi-person video chat sessions for up to 10 people that can help you get closer to your users, no matter where in the world you’re located. We all know that talking face-to-face can convey much more than simply typing messages -- so consider hosting classes via Hangout if you run a hobby-related site, or invite loyal readers to discuss recent content you’ve published.



You also have the option of broadcasting your hangout to the world via Hangouts on Air. Up to 10 people can still actively participate, but anyone can tune in to watch via live streaming on your Google +page, your YouTube channel, or even your own site. Every Hangout on Air will be automatically recorded and saved to your YouTube channel, so you can edit and share the content afterwards. Whether you want to interview an expert, give a behind-the-scenes tour of your business, or just share your content live in front of a global audience, Hangouts on Air allow you to connect with your users in a new way.







To create a Google+ page for your site and get started with Hangouts, sign in to your personal profile on Google+ and then follow the simple instructions. You’ll be able to enter details about your site and upload a profile photo so your users will be able to recognize you. For more information about getting started with +pages, visit the Google+ Help Center.



Feel free to share feedback about this post and your experience with using Hangouts on our AdSense +page. Then, join us here next week for our next Social Friday post -- we’ll show you how verifying your +page can help you gain additional visibility.



Posted by Arlene Lee - Inside AdSense Team



URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/tuAm/~3/V6WvLd6q-Uw/social-fridays-create-google-page-to.html

Thursday, August 30, 2012

[G] BBH fosters international collaboration with the help of Google Apps

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: BBH fosters international collaboration with the help of Google Apps

Posted by Ian Dobb, Interim Global CIO at BBH

Editors note:Today’s guest blogger is Ian Dobb, Interim Global CIO at the renowned advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty (BBH). Ian led the implementation of Google Apps for Business across five different countries for BBH’s 1,000-strong workforce. Ian Dobb is co-founder of Ionico. He was brought in to BBH to lead its IT change programme.

At BBH, collaboration is the cornerstone of developing award-winning advertising campaigns. As BBH expands its global coverage, staff are increasingly required to work on projects that have team members in multiple countries. Our international workforce of creative thinkers wants to operate without boundaries and not be held back by clunky email systems and restrictive mailboxes. The previous email system, Lotus Notes, did not live up to the demands of this modern and vibrant workforce.

With the help of Google Apps deployment expert and partner Appsbroker, we implemented Google Apps throughout the organisation across 1,000 staff, a move that completely transformed the way our teams now work together and share ideas.

In addition to email and calendar, many employees now use Google Talk to chat with each other, and they hold multi-person video chats through the Hangouts feature in Google+. For instance, the global executive team, including the Group CEO, recently held a meeting via a Google Hangout. This spanned multiple time zones and three continents. Cutting back on using a third party video conferencing service and associated data comms circuits will save BBH approximately £100,000 a year.

Google Apps also proved its worth as a mobile working and business contingency tool. Last winter BBH employees in London arrived to work to discover the basement was filled 5 metres deep with water due to a broken sprinkler valve, leaving the main building without power, where 450 people work. Google Apps was invaluable in keeping staff up and running. With the help of Gmail, Google Chat, Hangouts and Docs, work continued with minimal disruption while staff worked from home or from local cafes.

With the help of Appsbroker, we’re now building a custom app on Google App Engine to help feed creative thought at BBH. The app will help teams search and browse the vast BBH database of ideas and inspiration, making sure nothing is forgotten and lost in an archive file. It’s an exciting prospect for a business where intellectual property is the key currency.

With so many benefits and some exciting future prospects, we are confident that Google Apps and its constantly expanding range of collaborative features will aid the creative process for BBH staff by making it simpler for them to share ideas, streamlining processes for fast-paced teamwork, and giving clients a more responsive, dynamic service.

URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2012/08/bbh-fosters-international-collaboration.html

[G] Hangouts in Google Calendar

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The Google Apps Blog: Hangouts in Google Calendar

Posted by Boris Khvostichenko, Product Manager

Do you use Google Calendar to schedule catch ups with distant friends and family? Now, if you've upgraded to Google+, you can schedule a face-to-face video chat right from Google Calendar using Google+ Hangouts. It takes one click to add a hangout to an event and another click to join the hangout.


URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/GoogleAppsBlog/~3/0WZf63Z1ueA/hangouts-in-google-calendar.html

[G] Hangouts in Google Calendar

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Official Gmail Blog: Hangouts in Google Calendar

Posted by Boris Khvostichenko, Product Manager

Do you use Google Calendar to schedule catch ups with distant friends and family? Now, if you've upgraded to Google+, you can schedule a face-to-face video chat right from Google Calendar using Google+ Hangouts. It takes one click to add a hangout to an event and another click to join the hangout.


URL: http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/hangouts-in-google-calendar.html

[G] How One Online Food Retailer Increased E-commerce Sales By 70% In Key Regions

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Analytics Blog: How One Online Food Retailer Increased E-commerce Sales By 70% In Key Regions

LaTienda is an award-winning, family-owned business supporting artisanal firms in Spain. The firm works with small family-run businesses, many of which are dedicated to centuries-old food-making traditions. 

With warehouses in Williamsburg, Virginia and Alicante, Spain, the company ships hundreds of thousands of orders throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.


LaTienda’s brand equity is built on its fundamental commitment to the customer experience. They guarantee a positive experience for its customers – quality products delivered in excellent condition, or they will replace or refund the purchase. 

Overall, they had been seeing great success with their online orders, though they wanted to continue looking for opportunities to grow sales. To assist with this, they worked with WebStrategies, located nearby in Virginia. 

They knew that a key product category in particular required more expensive shipping methods if it was too far from LaTienda’s Virginia warehouse. Their challenge was to understand the impact on sales of varying shipping rates for this subset of products. 
LaTienda grouped visitors into two regions: Region A visitors were close enough to the warehouse to always get reasonable shipping costs. Region B visitors were everywhere else, and had to use a more expensive shipping method for the key product category.
WebStrategies wanted to measure the impact on sales whenever one of the key products was placed in the cart. To measure this, they installed Event Tracking to the “Add To Cart” buttons on every product page. 
They then used Advanced Segments Custom Reports to separate visitors in Region A from Region B, and drilled down to view performance by product category. Sure enough, visitors from Region B were found to be 48% less likely to purchase if they placed an item from the key product category in their cart, which raised total shipping costs. 
To combat this effect, LaTienda.com implemented a less expensive, flat rate shipping model in region B and monitored sales. After the test, the rate at which Region B visitors completed the shopping cart were found to have increased by nearly 70%.
Just to be sure, they checked to see if there was a similar increase in conversion rate for Region A visitors, and found that it did not fluctuate more than 3.4% over the same time period. The analysis confirmed that product shipping rates greatly impacted shopping cart behavior, and used data to measure the results of a key business decision. 
Check out the full case study as a PDF download, and see additional success stories in our analytics case studies and success stories section.

Posted by the Google Analytics Team
URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2012/08/how-one-online-food-retailer-increased.html

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

[G] Multi-Channel Funnels: Webinar, Checklist, Tips & Tricks

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Google Analytics Blog: Multi-Channel Funnels: Webinar, Checklist, Tips & Tricks

Understanding the customer journey, from consideration to conversion, is no easy feat. But with tools like Multi-Channel Funnels (MCF) in Google Analytics, we’re working to make it easier to uncover new insights and opportunities to improve marketing performance. As Google’s Global Program Manager for Attribution, I recently led a webinar that highlighted opportunities to:
  • Improve keyword coverage to reach customers at all stages of the conversion path.
  • Identify those channels that directly contribute to the growth of your business.
  • Learn how metrics like average order value can be influenced by early-stage marketing.
This webinar is the 4th in Google’s ongoing series on attribution and is designed for newcomers and seasoned veterans of Google Analytics alike. If you’re just starting with the tool, we do recommend that you take a look at our MCF Implementation Checklist below as well as our earlier webinar, Building Blocks of Digital Attribution to ensure you are capturing all the data to maximize these analyses. And please read on for answers to some interesting questions that came up during the webinar.



QUESTIONS

What do I need to use Multi-Channel Funnels properly?

MCF Implementation Checklist:
  1. Install Google Analytics! Make sure that all of your webpages are tagged, and if you happen to have more than one website (yoursite1.com and yoursite.2com) or multiple domains (red.mysite1.com and blue.mysite1.com) that you are set up to use Multi-Domain tracking. This last step will ensure that you are tracking all interactions across your sites into a single customer path.
  2. Set up E-Commerce Tracking or Goals. MCF needs to know what action represents the very end of the customer path - the conversion. The conversion may be a sale, or it could be another action that’s valuable for your business, like filling out a lead form or downloading a brochure. For businesses selling products online, you can measure conversions (sales) through e-commerce tracking. If you’re measuring visitors that take a specific action, such as completing a form, setting up goals will suffice. 
  3. Get your tags in order. For AdWords customers, make sure that your advertising account is linked to your Google Analytics profile and that auto-tagging is enabled. For other channels, such as e-mail or advertising run on other networks, our custom URL builder will help you build the tags necessary for each campaign. If you’re new, be sure to learn more about channels and channel grouping.
  4. Start using the MCF reports. Once you’ve followed the steps above, you can find the Multi-Channel Funnels reports in the Standard Reporting tab of Google Analytics: click on “Conversions” at the left-hand side of the user interface, then click “Multi-Channel Funnels.”

Is it possible to integrate the data from Multi-Channel Funnels directly into our own systems?
Absolutely. Not only are all of these data points available for export from the Google Analytics interface in commonly-used formats, we also just announced the release of the Multi-Channel Funnels API so that developers can tap directly into this incredibly powerful data source. See our recent blog post for more information.

How do we ensure we are tracking all our channels in a way that is optimal for these reports?
By default, all inbound clicks that are part of a conversion path are captured by Multi-Channel Funnels. The default channel groupings that we provide then make a series of fairly reasonable assumptions to group traffic into their respective buckets. As a user, you have two approaches to ensure that all traffic is ending up in the right place:
  1. The first option is tag all of your marketing activities in a way that matches the logic of the default channel groupings. You can find the rules behind the groups in this help center article. There is also a simple URL builder so that you can append the proper tags to your other campaigns.
  2. The second option is to create channel groupings that match the way you are currently naming and tagging your campaigns. This approach tends to be favored by those companies that want to utilize all of their historical data in MCF right away, or have technical limitations preventing them from changing the actual campaign tags. Implementation details for this approach can be found on the Analytics Help section, in this article on channel groupings.

Does MCF have to be a true purchase or it will it work for a Business-to-business company looking for qualified leads?
Companies that are pursuing leads tend to have much shorter conversion paths than those that are tracking purchases. It's not entirely uncommon to see lower assist / last ratios and, equally, to have the perception of less opportunity when reviewing the MCF reports around a single goal. As a better practice, we suggest that advertisers implement multiple goals to measure customer activities along a wider path.

For instance, goals could be set up at points before filling out a lead form but after becoming a slightly more qualified customer, either by increasing time or page depth on your website, reviewing a whitepaper or looking at cost information. These would help to measure performance even if there is a more significant lag before becoming a lead, lending insight to the very early parts of the journey.

After the lead form is filled out, any unique action that you could encourage to bring the now qualified customer back to the site again, such as completing a signup process, reviewing a contract or qualifying for a promotional offer, can then be used to go all the way back through to the beginning of the journey to find that initial contact point.

Why is (not set) so high for AdWords Keyword?
When you select a primary dimension in the Assisted Conversions report of Multi-Channel Funnels, it is not filtering the information as much as it is adding a different view to it. As such, when I move from that basic channel grouping view to AdWords Keyword, the report still shows 100% of the data but now groups each interaction by its respective keyword. However, since not all interactions have AdWords Keyword data associated with them, including Direct, E-Mail and Social Network visits, they are grouped into their own (not set) bucket.

During the webinar, my colleague responded to this question by saying that “not set” may also appear due to broken AdWords tags. This response is also technically correct as broken AdWords tags can also prevent keyword information from being passed through, but in many cases it’s more likely that it’s just because the visits don’t have keyword data associated as described above, and AdWords tags are probably OK -- so consider this first before trying to troubleshoot.

What devices are in place to prevent Spiders and Bots from inflating data and thus causing a possible "bad" business decision?
Multi-Channel Funnels measure specific goal or conversion actions that are hopefully beyond the grasp of bots or spiders that are just mining content. For instance, it probably wouldn't be likely to find one that tries to fake e-commerce orders.

If you have found bots coming through these conversions on your website (i.e. Store Locator), it may be practical to filter those visits out at the profile level in Google Analytics to make sure that they are not impacting any of your resulting analyses. Although we don’t recommend a specific set of criteria for limiting bots, there are dozens of articles online that you should be able to find with individual opinions on what is best.

Posted by by Neil Hoyne (@nhoyne), Global Program Manager for Attribution
URL: http://analytics.blogspot.com/2012/08/multi-channel-funnels-webinar-checklist.html

[G] Half a gigameter of biking navigation in 12 countries in Google Maps for Android

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Official Google Blog: Half a gigameter of biking navigation in 12 countries in Google Maps for Android

Whether you’re a seasoned century rider or a casual beach cruiser, finding the best biking routes can be a challenge. That’s why today we’re bringing mobile biking directions and navigation to the 10 countries where we launched desktop biking directions last month (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK). Plus, we’re adding turn-by-turn, voice-guided biking navigation to Google Maps Navigation (beta) in every country with biking directions. Mount your device on your handlebars to see the turn-by-turn directions and navigation, or use speaker-mode to hear voice-guided directions.
Turn-by-turn biking navigation in Copenhagen

We know there are lots of ways to get from here to there, which is why in 2010, we added biking directions to Google Maps in the U.S. and Canada, and continue to work to bring more biking features to more places. Today, there are more than 330,000 miles (equal to more than 530,000 kilometers, or half a gigameter) of green biking lines in Google Maps. Dark green lines on the map show dedicated bike trails and paths with no motor vehicles, light green lines show streets with bike lanes and dashed green lines show other streets recommended for cycling. Biking navigation even helps you avoid steep hills.
Bike layer showing recommended streets for cycling in Stockholm

Where Map Maker and biking directions are both available, riders can add bike trails, lanes and suggested routes to Google Maps, helping to create a more comprehensive map for everyone living in or visiting their community. Thanks to the contributions of members of the biking community like Todd Scott and our partnership with nonprofits like Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, we’ve added bike data for hundreds of cities and trails to Google Maps in the past two-and-a-half years.

When you’re pedaling from Point A to Point B, we hope biking navigation will make Google Maps for Android more useful to you.

Posted by Larry Powelson, Software Engineer, Google Maps

(Cross-posted on the Lat Long blog)
URL: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2012/08/half-gigameter-of-biking-navigation-in.html

[G] Half a gigameter of biking navigation in 12 countries in Google Maps for Android

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Google Lat Long: Half a gigameter of biking navigation in 12 countries in Google Maps for Android


(Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog)

Whether you’re a seasoned century rider or a casual beach cruiser, finding the best biking routes can be a challenge. That’s why today we’re bringing mobile biking directions and navigation to the 10 countries where we launched desktop biking directions last month (Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK). Plus, we’re adding turn-by-turn, voice-guided biking navigation to Google Maps Navigation (beta) in every country with biking directions. Mount your device on your handlebars to see the turn-by-turn directions and navigation, or use speaker-mode to hear voice-guided directions.

Turn-by-turn biking navigation in Copenhagen


We know there are lots of ways to get from here to there, which is why in 2010 we added biking directions to Google Maps in the U.S. and Canada, and continue to work to bring more biking features to more places. Today, there are more than 330,000 miles (equal to more than 530,000 kilometers, or half a gigameter) of green biking lines in Google Maps. Dark green lines on the map show dedicated bike trails and paths with no motor vehicles, light green lines show streets with bike lanes and dashed green lines show other streets recommended for cycling. Biking navigation even helps you avoid steep hills.

Bike layer showing recommended streets for cycling in Stockholm


Where Map Maker and biking directions are both available, riders can add bike trails, lanes and suggested routes to Google Maps, helping to create a more comprehensive map for everyone living in or visiting their community. Thanks to the contributions of members of the biking community like Todd Scott and our partnership with nonprofits like Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, we’ve added bike data for hundreds of cities and trails to Google Maps in the past two-and-a-half years.

When you’re pedaling from Point A to Point B, we hope biking navigation will make Google Maps for Android more useful to you.


Posted by Larry Powelson, Software Engineer, Google Maps
URL: http://google-latlong.blogspot.com/2012/08/half-gigameter-of-biking-navigation-in.html

[G] Users love simple and familiar designs – Why websites need to make a great first impression

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Google Research Blog: Users love simple and familiar designs – Why websites need to make a great first impression

Posted by Javier Bargas-Avila, Senior User Experience Researcher at YouTube UX Research




I’m sure you’ve experienced this at some point: You click on a link to a website, and after a quick glance you already know you’re not interested, so you click ‘back’ and head elsewhere. How did you make that snap judgment? Did you really read and process enough information to know that this website wasn’t what you were looking for? Or was it something more immediate?




We form first impressions of the people and things we encounter in our daily lives in an extraordinarily short timeframe. We know the first impression a website’s design creates is crucial in capturing users’ interest. In less than 50 milliseconds, users build an initial “gut feeling” that helps them decide whether they’ll stay or leave. This first impression depends on many factors: structure, colors, spacing, symmetry, amount of text, fonts, and more.




In our study we investigated how users' first impressions of websites are influenced by two design factors:




  1. Visual complexity -- how complex the visual design of a website looks 

  2. Prototypicality -- how representative a design looks for a certain category of websites




We presented screenshots of existing websites that varied in both of these factors -- visual complexity and prototypicality -- and asked users to rate their beauty.




The results show that both visual complexity and prototypicality play crucial roles in the process of forming an aesthetic judgment. It happens within incredibly short timeframes between 17 and 50 milliseconds. By comparison, the average blink of an eye takes 100 to 400 milliseconds.




And these two factors are interrelated: if the visual complexity of a website is high, users perceive it as less beautiful, even if the design is familiar. And if the design is unfamiliar -- i.e., the site has low prototypicality -- users judge it as uglier, even if it’s simple.








In other words, users strongly prefer website designs that look both simple (low complexity) and familiar (high prototypicality). That means if you’re designing a website, you’ll want to consider both factors. Designs that contradict what users typically expect of a website may hurt users’ first impression and damage their expectations. Recent research shows that negative product expectations lead to lower satisfaction in product interaction -- a downward spiral you’ll want to avoid. Go for simple and familiar if you want to appeal to your users’ sense of beauty.





URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/gJZg/~3/NScqs9LccVs/users-love-simple-and-familiar-designs.html

[G] Google BigQuery new features let you do more with your data

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Google BigQuery new features let you do more with your data

Posted by Ju-kay Kwek, Product Manager, Google BigQuery

Big Data can be a challenge for businesses and developers. There is so much information available today that it can be difficult to gain insights and make business decisions based on that data. Last month, Google BigQuery integrated several partner solutions, making it easier to import data from other cloud and on-premise solutions and visualize your data with rich interactive dashboards. Today, we’re giving you new ways to work with your data by adding two new features to BigQuery.

Batch Queries

While BigQuery specializes in getting insights quickly, we understand that there are important, non-interactive queries, such as nightly reports, that businesses also need to run. Now, you can designate a query as a batch query and it will complete within a few hours.If you’re using BigQuery via our standard self-service model, you pay 2 cents per GB processed for batch queries and 3.5 cents per GB processed for interactive queries.

BigQuery Connector for Excel

Analysts and executives use spreadsheets to explore large data sets. Last year, we launched the ability for BigQuery users to execute queries inside Google spreadsheets using the Google Apps Script integration. With the new BigQuery Connector for Excel, we’re now making it simpler to execute BigQuery queries using Microsoft® Excel. This connector takes advantage of Excel’s standard web query feature to eliminate the extra work of manually importing data and running queries directly within Excel. For instructions on how to download and use the connector, see the BigQuery Connector for Excel page.

If you haven’t gotten started with Google BigQuery yet, you can sign up here.

[Microsoft and Excel are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation.]
URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2012/08/google-bigquery-new-features-let-you-do.html

[G] Content hosting for the modern web

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Google Online Security Blog: Content hosting for the modern web

Posted by Michal Zalewski, Security Team

Our applications host a variety of web content on behalf of our users, and over the years we learned that even something as simple as serving a profile image can be surprisingly fraught with pitfalls. Today, we wanted to share some of our findings about content hosting, along with the approaches we developed to mitigate the risks.

Historically, all browsers and browser plugins were designed simply to excel at displaying several common types of web content, and to be tolerant of any mistakes made by website owners. In the days of static HTML and simple web applications, giving the owner of the domain authoritative control over how the content is displayed wasn’t of any importance.

It wasn’t until the mid-2000s that we started to notice a problem: a clever attacker could manipulate the browser into interpreting seemingly harmless images or text documents as HTML, Java, or Flash—thus gaining the ability to execute malicious scripts in the security context of the application displaying these documents (essentially, a cross-site scripting flaw). For all the increasingly sensitive web applications, this was very bad news.

During the past few years, modern browsers began to improve. For example, the browser vendors limited the amount of second-guessing performed on text documents, certain types of images, and unknown MIME types. However, there are many standards-enshrined design decisions—such as ignoring MIME information on any content loaded through <object> , <embed> , or <applet> —that are much more difficult to fix; these practices may lead to vulnerabilities similar to the GIFAR bug.

Google’s security team played an active role in investigating and remediating many content sniffing vulnerabilities during this period. In fact, many of the enforcement proposals were first prototyped in Chrome. Even still, the overall progress is slow; for every resolved problem, researchers discover a previously unknown flaw in another browser mechanism. Two recent examples are the Byte Order Mark (BOM) vulnerability reported to us by Masato Kinugawa, or the MHTML attacks that we have seen happening in the wild.

For a while, we focused on content sanitization as a possible workaround - but in many cases, we found it to be insufficient. For example, Aleksandr Dobkin managed to construct a purely alphanumeric Flash applet, and in our internal work the Google security team created images that can be forced to include a particular plaintext string in their body, after being scrubbed and recoded in a deterministic way.

In the end, we reacted to this raft of content hosting problems by placing some of the high-risk content in separate, isolated web origins—most commonly *.googleusercontent.com. There, the “sandboxed” files pose virtually no threat to the applications themselves, or to google.com authentication cookies. For public content, that’s all we need: we may use random or user-specific subdomains, depending on the degree of isolation required between unrelated documents, but otherwise the solution just works.

The situation gets more interesting for non-public documents, however. Copying users’ normal authentication cookies to the “sandbox” domain would defeat the purpose. The natural alternative is to move the secret token used to confer access rights from the Cookie header to a value embedded in the URL, and make the token unique to every document instead of keeping it global.

While this solution eliminates many of the significant design flaws associated with HTTP cookies, it trades one imperfect authentication mechanism for another. In particular, it’s important to note there are more ways to accidentally leak a capability-bearing URL than there are to accidentally leak cookies; the most notable risk is disclosure through the Referer header for any document format capable of including external subresources or of linking to external sites.

In our applications, we take a risk-based approach. Generally speaking, we tend to use three strategies:
  • In higher risk situations (e.g. documents with elevated risk of URL disclosure), we may couple the URL token scheme with short-lived, document-specific cookies issued for specific subdomains of googleusercontent.com. This mechanism, known within Google as FileComp, relies on a range of attack mitigation strategies that are too disruptive for Google applications at large, but work well in this highly constrained use case.
  • In cases where the risk of leaks is limited but responsive access controls are preferable (e.g., embedded images), we may issue URLs bound to a specific user, or ones that expire quickly.
  • In low-risk scenarios, where usability requirements necessitate a more balanced approach, we may opt for globally valid, longer-lived URLs.
Of course, the research into the security of web browsers continues, and the landscape of web applications is evolving rapidly. We are constantly tweaking our solutions to protect Google users even better, and even the solutions described here may change. Our commitment to making the Internet a safer place, however, will never waver.
URL: http://googleonlinesecurity.blogspot.com/2012/08/content-hosting-for-modern-web.html

[G] YouTube Space Lab, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and the International Space Station—live!

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YouTube Blog: YouTube Space Lab, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and the International Space Station—live!

Hot off the heels of their stunning Curiosity rover landing on Mars, NASA will soon be live streaming on YouTube from another space outpost...this time a little closer to home.



On Thursday, September 13, Bill Nye the Science Guy will host a special live stream between Earth and the International Space Station (ISS). You’ll see the bright, young scientists of YouTube Space Lab and the NASA astronaut 250 miles above Earth performing the winning experiments of the competition launched by YouTube and Lenovo last year. Depending on the space station’s exact schedule, the stream will take place soon after 5:30am PT on Thursday, September 13. On the day, tune in to the channel to take part in this special event.



Amr, Dorothy and Sara, who were voted in March as the global winners of YouTube Space Lab, will join Bill and special guests to discuss their winning experiments and explore why science in space is so important for our future.







After NASA Mission Control gives the go ahead, those on Earth will be joined by NASA astronaut, Sunita Williams, live aboard the ISS, for an interview like no other. You will also have your chance to pose questions to Sunita, by publicly posting to Google+, Twitter or Facebook using the tag #SpaceLab.



Dom Elliott, marketing manager, recently watched “Armstrong Remembered by NASA Administrator.”


URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/youtube/PKJx/~3/QBSOOqo3OY8/youtube-space-lab-bill-nye-science-guy.html

[G] Our August featured “On The Rise” partner is thevfxbro!

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YouTube Blog: Our August featured “On The Rise” partner is thevfxbro!

Congratulations to Aaron of thevfxbro! As a result of strong fan support and recognizable efforts to optimize his channel and videos according to our best practices, Aaron is our featured “On The Rise” YouTube partner for August. His channel and four engaging videos are featured on the YouTube homepage today.



As a film student at Biola University, Aaron perfected his video editing skills and special effects knowledge while mastering programs like Final Cut and Adobe AfterEffects. This work was a natural fit for YouTube, and he’s found success by sharing his expertise with the YouTube world. The thevfxbro channel hosts such videos as the walkthrough of the video effects Aaron used in his “I Am Legend” spoof, his adorable “copy cat,” and how the “Hunt for Pikachu” video was created. Check out his library of video editing tutorials as well as behind-the-scenes footage explaining how Aaron - and his friend Zach from FinalCutKing - use special effects to create their videos.







Here are a few words from Aaron:


Wow! Having started film school 4 years ago I never thought that it would have ended with me running a YouTube channel with an audience that I not only get to share my videos with, but help along the way. The crazy thing about YouTube is that it’s so new and we have no idea where it’s going to take us. I am so excited to see where this platform takes us filmmakers. Feel free to check out my channel that has awesome videos with visual effects as well as training and tutorials to help you take your own videos to the next level! 

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. Keep an eye out for next month’s blog post, as your channel may be the next one On The Rise!



Christine Wang and Devon Storbeck, YouTube Content Partnerships, recently watched “Bentley the Bulldog Puppy is fussy.”


URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/youtube/PKJx/~3/IDUJNXhqMcA/our-august-featured-on-rise-partner-is.html

[G] Bringing Google+ to work

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Bringing Google+ to work

Posted by Clay Bavor, Product Management Director, Google Apps

On the Google Apps team, we wake up every day excited to work on products that are powering a fundamental shift in business technologies. Whole companies are moving into the cloud, where they rely on the same web-based applications their employees use at home: Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Drive. We call this trend “going Google.”

As part of this trend, we’re witnessing how web-based collaboration and social tools have dramatically changed the way people connect. Whether you’re across the street or across the world, you can hold face-to-face meetings, share updates with colleagues and friends and work on a presentation together in real time. Like Google Apps, we think Google+ can help colleagues collaborate more easily and get things done—and get to know each other along the way.

So today we’re launching an initial set of Google+ features designed specifically for businesses, and we’re excited to move into a full preview mode for Apps customers. During this preview period, organizations that have gone Google will be able to use the business features of Google+ for free through the end of 2013 while we continue to add more features and administrative controls designed for organizations.

For the past few months, pilot customers like Kaplan and Banshee Wines have been using Google+ to help employees engage and connect with each other. We’ve worked hard to incorporate early feedback from pilot customers into our plans, and we’re thrilled to begin offering Google+ features tailored to organizations.

Private sharing for your organization
Google Apps users now have more control over the content they post to Google+. When you create a post you can mark it as restricted. Restricted posts are private to your organization and can never be re-shared with anyone outside. At the same time, when you create a post, you have the flexibility to share it with specific partners or colleagues outside the organization as well if you choose.

Restricted posts cannot be shared outside the organization

Video meetings integrated with Gmail, Calendar and Docs
When you’re on Google Apps, holding a face-to-face meeting with colleagues or clients around the world doesn’t require coordinated travel schedules or expensive video conferencing technology. All you need is a device with a camera and an internet connection. Hangouts lets up to 10 people join a video meeting from their laptop, phone or tablet.

As we announced in July, people can now join a multi-way video chat, powered by Hangouts, directly from Gmail. They can also open a Google doc in a hangout meeting, making it easy for colleagues to write or edit a document together from anywhere. And starting today, users can also add a hangout to a Calendar event, allowing attendees to join the meeting directly from the invite or Calendar entry.

Add a hangout to a calendar event


Work on a doc face-to-face in a hangout

Administrative Controls
To help make sure users are sharing only with the people they intend, administrators can now set company-wide defaults for post restrictions. They can also enable restricted Hangouts to facilitate private meetings within the company.

Just the Beginning
These latest business features for Google+, which will be rolling out throughout the day, are just a start. We have a lot more planned for the coming months, including a mobile version of Google+ for enterprise users and more administrative controls.

Every day, more companies are going Google. We’re excited to help them take advantage of modern, web-based tools and give their employees new ways to connect and collaborate. If you’re a Google Apps customer, we encourage you to bring Google+ to work today.
URL: http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2012/08/bringing-google-to-work.html

[G] Get To Your Data Faster: Announcing Shortcuts In Google Analytics

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Analytics Blog: Get To Your Data Faster: Announcing Shortcuts In Google Analytics


We’re pleased to announce the addition of Shortcuts to Google Analytics. Shortcuts help you get to the exact view you want of your data in GA in record time. Rather than having to go through the "find report, add segment, change, sort" process daily, with Shortcuts you can do it once, save it, and come back to it in a single click.


How to create a Shortcut





Creating Shortcuts is simple. When viewing a standard or custom report in Google Analytics, click on the “Shortcut” button found on the report’s Utility Bar:










Then, give your new Shortcut a name:










Once named, you'll be taken straight to your report in the new "Shortcuts" section in the "Home" tab. Your report configuration has been stored, and your report shows up on the left side of the screen.





The following information is saved as part of a Shortcut:


  • Standard or custom report for context

  • Currently viewed tab on the report

  • Sort order

  • Advanced segments

  • Graphed metric



Notably not saved is the date range and sample size. This is because they are very dependent on the data you are looking at.


Using Shortcuts





In the "Home" tab in Google Analytics, there is a new section called "Shortcuts". Here, you can find all of the shortcuts you’ve created, and navigate to each one. Clicking a Shortcut will "reset" the segments that are applied - so you know you'll always see the same customization every time you use a Shortcut.










If you make any changes while viewing a Shortcut and you want to have those changes persist for the next time you view the Shortcut, just click on “Save” from the report’s Utility Bar:







Managing Shortcuts





You can easily manage your Shortcuts from the Overview page, found under the Shortcuts navigation on the “Home” tab. From this page, you can also delete any of your created Shortcuts:







What else should you know?



  • Shortcuts can be emailed and exported like any other standard report.


    • Deleting a Shortcut will remove that report from any scheduled emails, as with deleting a custom report.


  • Shortcuts apply at the profile level, like the rest of reports in Google Analytics.



This is a continued step in making your experience with Google Analytics as efficient as possible. We hope you find Shortcuts a useful feature.  





Posted by Andrew Seguin, Google Analytics Team




URL: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/tRaA/~3/uid8-2pqngA/get-to-your-data-faster-announcing.html