Friday, December 4, 2009

[G] This week in search 12/4/09

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Official Google Blog: This week in search 12/4/09

This is part of a regular series of posts on search experience updates that runs on Fridays. Look for the label This week in search and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

This week, we're pleased to bring you a number of great enhancements to the way you search. From the announcement of our new minimalist fade-in homepage to the new magazine layout of images in Universal Search, this week was filled with many highly visible changes. There are also more subtle changes like automatic spelling correction and our extended version of personalized search, both of which will enhance the speed and relevance of your web experience. Finally, there were a number of international changes that affect our users worldwide.

New Google homepage
On Wednesday, we announced our new minimalist homepage. Now, when you visit, only the logo, search box, and buttons are visible. After moving your mouse, the rest of the links and content "fade in". Read more about how we arrived at this design, including the thinking and experiments behind it.

Magazine layout for images in Universal Search
This week we also launched a new layout for images. When we're confident that we have great image results to deliver, we'll now show you a larger image and additional smaller images alongside. This new layout helps us to display more pictures than before, so you have more options to quickly choose from. As always, click on an image to see it full size on the original webpage.

Example searches: [ocelots], [prom hairstyles], [ewok] or [caduceus]

Automatic spelling correction
Starting this week, when we have high confidence that your query was misspelled, we go a step further than asking "Did you mean..." by automatically showing results for the corrected query, saving you a click. In case we did misinterpret the query, there will be a link at the top of the results to undo the auto-correction. So, the next time I'm visiting South Florida and accidentally search for [maimi restaurants], it's reassuring to know I'll quickly go straight to the results for what I really meant: Miami restaurants.

Extended Personalized Search
Starting this week, we are extending Personalized Search worldwide to users who are signed out of their Google accounts, and in more than 40 languages. Now when you search using Google, we will be better able to provide the most relevant results using 180 days of Google search activity from your browser. For example, since I always search for "ADA" and often click on results about the programming language, Google might show you those results before the American Dental Association results.

Site performance data in Webmaster Tools
It can be difficult for webmasters to figure out how fast their site loads and whether it's visible to users. So we've changed that. Now you can go to Google Webmaster Tools and get a glimpse of how quickly your site's pages on your site load. There are also recommendations on how to improve your site's performance based on our GFast plugin.

Finding and reading content written in other languages
Starting this week, it's even easier to search the global web by adding a translated search tool to the Search Options panel, so you can see results from other languages for your query. We'll automatically determine the best languages to translate your query in, then search and translate the results into your language. For example, if you're looking for a restaurant in Antwerp and would like to find local restaurant guides, use the Translated Search tool to search for [restaurant reviews antwerp].

Search Options now in even more languages
Following up on an earlier announcement, the Search Options panel is now available in 17 more languages: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Filipino, Ukrainian, Vietnamese and Greek. In total, the Search Options panel is accessible in 40 languages — which covers over 98% of all search traffic.

Region tags next to results
When it consists of a country code such as ".fr" for France or "" for Japan, the suffix of a domain name (known as top-level domains, or TLDs) can provide a valuable clue about the location of a website. However, for certain top-level domains like ".com", ".info", and ".org", it's not always as easy to figure out. This week, we added region information supplied by webmasters to the green address line on some Google search results, when that supplied country or region is outside the user's Google domain (such as By providing more transparency about regional information, we hope to make it even easier for international visitors to identify which results are relevant to their query.

We hope you enjoyed this week's features. Stay tuned for what's to come!

Posted by Johanna Wright, Director of Product Management, Search

[G] SES Chicago Next Week

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Google Analytics Blog: SES Chicago Next Week

Come to the windy city next week and catch Google Analytics' fearless Senior Product Manager Phil Mui in action at the Search Engine Strategies Chicago conference. Phil will be presenting at two sessions on Monday at SES:
Also, the AdWords team will be there in force, presenting the Google Ads Factory Tour, a series of sessions designed to give advertisers practical tips they can use immediately to improve search and display performance. They'll also be holding a session on AdWords Optimization Tools as well as on The Next Generation of AdWords Bidding: Conversion Optimizer. Read more at the AdWords blog post, and register for SES here.

Posted by Jeff Gillis, Google Analytics Team

[G] Personalized Search for everyone

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Official Google Blog: Personalized Search for everyone

Today we're helping people get better search results by extending Personalized Search to signed-out users worldwide, and in more than forty languages. Now when you search using Google, we will be able to better provide you with the most relevant results possible. For example, since I always search for [recipes] and often click on results from, Google might rank higher on the results page the next time I look for recipes. Other times, when I'm looking for news about Cornell University's sports teams, I search for [big red]. Because I frequently click on, Google might show me this result first, instead of the Big Red soda company or others.

Previously, we only offered Personalized Search for signed-in users, and only when they had Web History enabled on their Google Accounts. What we're doing today is expanding Personalized Search so that we can provide it to signed-out users as well. This addition enables us to customize search results for you based upon 180 days of search activity linked to an anonymous cookie in your browser. It's completely separate from your Google Account and Web History (which are only available to signed-in users). You'll know when we customize results because a "View customizations" link will appear on the top right of the search results page. Clicking the link will let you see how we've customized your results and also let you turn off this type of customization.

Check out our help center for more details on personalized search, how we customize results and how you can turn off personalization. Learn more by watching our video:

Posted by Bryan Horling, Software Engineer and Matthew Kulick, Product Manager

[G] Webinar on Basic Editing Techniques: Dec. 17, 2009

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YouTube Blog: Webinar on Basic Editing Techniques: Dec. 17, 2009

YouTube's Creator's Corner and Videomaker magazine are pleased to offer another free Webinar to help newer videographers get comfortable with every aspect of the production process. This time, the topic is Basic Editing Techniques, and it will take place on December 17, 2009, at 11 a.m. PT / 2 p.m. ET. You can register here for the free, hour-long seminar. (Once you've clicked the link, you'll be redirected to an external page provided by our partner, Webex. Please fill in the required information and click "Submit." You'll then be registered for the event.)

We want to make sure this session addresses the topics most useful to you, so we hope you'll take a minute to answer the survey in the top right corner of this blog: When it comes to editing techniques, what do you want to learn about? Check off as many topics that apply in the poll, or leave a comment beneath this blog post. The Videomaker team will consider your requests when putting together their presentation.

This Webinar follows the Basic Production Techniques course held in October.

Mia Quagliarello, Community Manager, YouTube, and Scott Memmott, Content Director, Videomaker


[G] When sources disagree: borders and place names in Google Earth and Maps

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Google Public Policy Blog: When sources disagree: borders and place names in Google Earth and Maps

Posted by Bob Boorstin, Director, Public Policy Team

Collecting and sharing the most accurate information about place names and borders is a tough task that every map maker faces. The first sources are the nations themselves, but when neighboring countries claim overlapping territories and conflicting place names, even showing the dispute on a map may be prohibited by local law. We continue to work hard on these issues, and thought it would be worth sharing our general approach on this blog.

We want to be transparent about the principles we follow in designing our mapping products, particularly as they apply to disputed regions. Last year, for example, we explained how we determine the names for bodies of water in Google Earth. For each difficult case, we gather a cross-functional group of Googlers including software engineers, product managers, GIS specialists, policy analysts, and geopolitical researchers. This process benefits from the local knowledge and experience of Googlers around the world.

We follow a hierarchy of values to inform our depictions of geopolitically sensitive regions:

Google's mission: In all cases we work to represent the "ground truth" as accurately and neutrally as we can, in consistency with Google's mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. We work to provide as much discoverable information as possible so that users can make their own judgments about geopolitical disputes. That can mean providing multiple claim lines (e.g. the Syrian and Israeli lines in the Golan Heights), multiple names (e.g. two names separated by a slash: "Londonderry / Derry"), or clickable political annotations with short descriptions of the issues (e.g. the annotation for "Arunachal Pradesh," currently in Google Earth only; see blog post about disputed seas).

Authoritative references: While no single authority has all the answers, when deciding how to depict sensitive place names and borders we use guidance from data providers that most accurately describe borders in treaties and other authoritative standards bodies like the United Nations, ISO and the FIPS. We look for the references that are the most universally recognized for each individual case. For example, in the case of "Myanmar (Burma)" ISO and FIPS each use a different name, so we include both to provide a more complete reference for our users.

Local expectations: We work to localize the user experience while striving to keep all points of view easily discoverable in our products. Google Maps has launched on 32 region domains (e.g. for Canada) and Google Earth is now available in 41 languages. Each domain and language user population is most familiar with a slightly different set of place names. For example, for the "Yellow Sea" or "West Sea," Chinese speaking users are conversant with the label Huáng Hǎi or 黄海 (Mandarin), while Korean users are used to the label Sŏ Hae or 서해 (Hangul). Carefully considering Google's mission, guidance from authoritative references, local laws and local market expectations, we strive to provide tools that help our users explore and learn about their world, and to the extent allowed by local law, includes all points of view where there are conflicting claims.

Sometimes these factors compete with one another. For example, is localizing a place name inconsistent with Google's mission? What happens when an authoritative references does not seem to represent the truth on the ground? What about when local user expectations don't match international convention, or when local laws prohibit acknowledging regional conflicts? These are questions we continue to think through in our efforts to provide comprehensive, authoritative, free, and, most importantly, useful products for our users.

[G] Connect with AdSense via online webinars

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Inside AdSense: Connect with AdSense via online webinars

We often hear publishers ask for more information about using AdSense most effectively, and so in response, we've initiated a number of free, online webinars. If you haven't yet participated in a webinar, they focus on specific topics such as increasing your revenue with the AdSense program and taking advantage of new features. At the end of each webinar, you can also ask your questions live to our AdSense specialists.

There are still a number of upcoming webinars in 2009, and we encourage you to sign up soon. We've also created a short video about webinars featuring a few members of our Dublin-based team.

Posted by Kamil Tavas - AdSense Optimization Team

[G] Automatic Captioning in YouTube

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Official Google Research Blog: Automatic Captioning in YouTube

Posted by Christopher Alberti and Michiel Bacchiani, Google Research

On November 19, we launched our new automatic captioning and automatic alignment feature for YouTube. These features significantly reduce the effort it takes to create captions for videos on YouTube.

With YouTube expanding its index at a breakneck speed of about 20 hours of new material uploaded each minute, access to this vast body of video material becomes increasingly challenging. This is particularly true for people with hearing disabilities. A 2005 US census showed that 7.8 million people (or about 3 percent of the US population) have difficulty hearing a normal conversation, with 1 million unable to hear at all. Hence, increased accesibility by adding captions to YouTube videos makes the corpus available to a much larger audience.

In addition to expanded accessibility for those with hearing disabilities, the combination of captions with machine translation expands YouTube accessibility across the globe. If a caption track is available, it can be translated automatically in any of the 51 currently available languages. As a result, video content otherwise not accessible due to a language barrier can now be understood by a significantly larger user population.

Although captions are available in YouTube for hundreds of thousands of videos, it remains only a fraction of the the available corpus. Furthermore, only a tiny fraction of the avalanche of new video material getting uploaded is captioned. One reason for this lack of coverage is the effort it takes for a video uploader to generate captions. And this is where our new auto captioning and auto alignment features can benefit our uploaders. Auto-captioning uses automatic speech recognition technology to produce machine generated captions. Auto-alignment requires only a transcript--the uploader no longer has to sync that text with the video stream. To more concisely illustrate the use of these features, check out our help center article or this short video:

Modern-day speech recognition systems are big statistical machines trained on large sets of data. They do the best job recognizing speech in domains similar to their training data. Both the auto captioning and the auto alignment features use the speech recognition infrastructure that underlies Google Voice and Voice Search, but trained on different data. As an intial installment, for YouTube we use models trained on publicly available English broadcast news data. As a result, for now, the new features only work well on English material that is similar in style (i.e. an individual speaker who is speaking clearly).

The auto alignment features is available for all new video uploads, however the scope is limited to English material. The auto captioning feature is initially rolled out to a set of educational partners only. Although this is very limited in scope, the early launch makes the results of the system available to the viewers of this material instantly and it allows us to gauge early feedback which can aid in improving the features. We will release automatic captions more widely as quickly as possible.

Over time, we will work on improving the quality as well as the coverage of these features. Expansion will take place along two axes: additional languages will be made available and within each language we will cover much broader domains (beyond just broadcast news-like material). Since the content available in YouTube is so varied, it is difficult to set a timeline for this expansion. Automatic speech recognition remains challenging, in particular for the varied types of speech and background sounds and noise we see in the YouTube corpus. Therefore, to reach a high level of quality, we need to make advances in core technology. Although this will take time, we are committed to making that happen and to providing the larger community with the benefits of those developments.

[G] Connecting Google Apps Education Edition with Blackboard

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Connecting Google Apps Education Edition with Blackboard

Editor's note: George Kroner is a Developer Relations Engineer for Blackboard, a company that focuses on transforming and improving the educational experience at over 5,000 institutions worldwide. Through the work of Blackboard’s community of over 1,000 educational tool developers, George sees many opportunities where Blackboard’s and Google’s open platforms can be paired together to provide better and more productive teaching and learning experiences.

Thanks to George for sharing these outlooks.

Technology has the potential to transform the educational experience and to connect students, instructors, and researchers in new ways. We think it's critical for schools and institutions to expose learners to these tools and practices to impart information literacy skills required to succeed in their careers – as students and beyond.

Sharing a strong belief in the power and possibility of open platforms, Google and Blackboard have recently teamed up to combine our platforms, and we wanted to share a few powerful examples of these integrations with you here.

Enhancing collaboration in the classroom.
Earlier this summer, Northwestern University took the lead on developing a way to facilitate classroom activities by letting instructors embed Google documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and calendars into Blackboard course sites. Individuals enrolled in Blackboard courses are automatically added as collaborators to these documents, and single sign-on capabilities allow documents to be accessed without logging in twice.

A recent student newspaper article details how these new capabilities are being used in courses ranging from foreign language to world history enabling new models of academic collaboration and assessment. What Northwestern has accomplished exemplifies one of the best recent examples of tying together the unique capabilities of Google Apps for Education and Blackboard Learn.

Now, more than ten different institutions, Google, and Blackboard meet on bi-weekly calls to regularly discuss the future of the Bboogle project. Northwestern has also made this Blackboard plugin available through an open source educational tool community called OSCELOT for other clients to download and contribute back to.

Enabling coordinated collaboration. As part of a class project at Penn State University, a team of students examined ways to improve their online learning experience by integrating Blackboard with other systems. After some analysis, their top recommendation was to develop a solution that combined events from their multiple school-related and personal calendars into a single location.

By integrating with Google Calendar, they were able to create a Blackboard plugin that combines events from Google Calendar with academic course schedules, assignment due-dates, and group meeting times from Blackboard. Their plugin was also made available as an open source project at the end of the semester. More details, including user documentation, are available through OSCELOT at this link.

Connecting researchers where they teach. The London International Development Center was formed to connect researchers from the University of London's six Bloomsbury Colleges. Its mission is to find ways to solve complex problems relating to international development by bringing together scientists from interdisciplinary backgrounds. By creating a Google Spreadsheet that integrates behind the scenes with the familiar Blackboard user experience, the LIDC provided a way for researchers to search and connect with each other by name, college, and research interest.

Facilitating new ways to communicate. Google Wave represents a new way to approach group collaboration and communication, and thus the potential for impacting education using such a tool is significant. Imagine creating a course assignment within Blackboard that triggers a contextualized Wave of thought and conversation that can react to changes in course content within the LMS and relay thoughts and comments from subject matter experts around the world back into an assessable course discussion forum or blog.

Today we invite you to join a discussion of how you think Wave should be used to enhance educational experiences. Log into Wave and click this link to post your thoughts, then see your comments show up within the discussion forum in this Blackboard course.

The examples listed above are just the beginning of what's possible when combining the power of the Blackboard and Google platforms, and we salute the institutions that are on the cutting-edge, creating these integrations.

– George Kroner, Blackboard Developer Relations Engineer

Posted by Gabe Cohen, Google Apps Education Edition team


[G] Now on Google Finance: streaming news

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Official Google Blog: Now on Google Finance: streaming news

Ever since we launched real-time and streaming quotes on Google Finance last year, we've heard from users how vital that up-to-date information has been. Especially in today's volatile financial environment, current information can be the difference between a seizing an opportunity and missing it. Today, we've taken a big step towards improving access to current financial information: streaming financial and market news on Google Finance.

Streaming keeps information fresh

Streaming real-time quotes eliminates the 15- and 20-minute delays often associated with pricing data. Streaming the quotes keeps information on the page up to date, without having to reload.

Now, by streaming news as well, you'll see stories appear on Google Finance as they develop minute by minute, throughout the day. You can view news on the Google Finance homepage, or the dedicated news page. Updated news items will appear automatically in the News section. News will be streamed from 8am-5:30pm ET, 90 minutes before and after U.S. trading hours.

Up-to-date information across the site

As we deliver more information, we've worked to improve the way we display it. In the last few months, we've released a few other improvements to Google Finance designed to make financial information easier to access and more usable:
  • As you navigate throughout Google Finance, your recent quotes are streamed live in the left-navigation bar, so you don't need to keep checking the same tickers.
  • On company pages, all stock prices, index and sector comparisons as well as the interactive chart are streamed during market hours.
  • The new interactive Related companies page lets customize a table that compares companies along the dimensions you specify.
Financial information doesn't exist in a vacuum. News can stimulate trades, and trades of one stock can have broad market effects. Figuring how to organize all of that information and make it useful is crucial — and that's what we're working on.

There is still a long way to go, so stay tuned for more updates.

Posted by Andre Lebedev, Software Engineer and Ayan Mandal, Product Manager

Thursday, December 3, 2009

[G] The Screening Room: Fresh Films Just Added

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YouTube Blog: The Screening Room: Fresh Films Just Added

This month, we’re proud to present eight of the best short films we’ve ever seen (ever!) in the Screening Room, our destination for top films from the film festival circuit.

While we often program the Screening Room around specific themes (perhaps horror flicks or graphic novel adaptations ring a bell?), this month’s sponsor, Canon's VIXIA, had just one request for us: skip the theme and bring people some of the finest films out there.

So, without further ado, here are the first four….

“Madame Tutli-Putli” is a stunning stop-motion animated film that was nominated for an Academy Award in 2007. The animation took over five years to complete and featured a groundbreaking technique that included adding composited human eyes to stop-motion puppets.

"The Mozart of Pickpockets," from France, was not only nominated for an Academy Award, but actually won the honor in 2007. It tells the story of two hapless Parisian pickpockets who finally hit their stride when they take a young immigrant boy under their wings.

Directed by New Zealand filmmaker Taika Waititi (whose feature film “Eagle vs. Shark” was snapped up by Miramax Films at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival), "Two Cars, One Night" is another Academy Award nominee.  It tells the darling story of young love born out of rivalry in a parking lot outside a rural pub. Waititi's latest film, "Boy," was just selected for the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Lastly, "Doxology," a stop-motion animated short featuring a dancing Oldsmobile, a boozy encounter with God, and lots of teeth brushing, hair combing and flossing, won the Slamdance Film Festival in 2008 and was nominated for a Student Academy Award.

We’ll feature another four stand-out shorts starting December 15, so save room for more.

Dim the lights,

Sara Pollack, Entertainment Marketing Manager, recently watched “Pilgrims”


[G] Joomla! Google Summer of Code™ 2009: Lots to Shout About

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Google Open Source Blog: Joomla! Google Summer of Code™ 2009: Lots to Shout About

The Joomla! project was thrilled to sponsor 18 Google Summer of Code students for 2009, and we are pleased to report that 16 (89%) successfully completed their projects. Most of the projects were based on ideas generated by the Joomla! community, and our community seems to be very excited about the results.

Our two primary goals for Google Summer of Code 2009 are to (1) develop relationships with student developers that will encourage them to continue working in the project; and (2) add features and functionality to the Joomla! CMS. Our participation in Google Summer of Code 2009 was very successful on both fronts.

Relationship to the Project

Several of our students this year were already contributing to Joomla! prior to participating in the program, and the Google Summer of Code experience has only strengthened that relationship. For example, one of our students, in addition to completing his project, is now a leader in the release of the next Joomla! version. At least two students (so far) have officially joined project working groups, and several others have contributed to the project over and above their Google Summer of Code projects. Many other students have also expressed interest in continuing the development of their code beyond the program timeframe.

This year, at the end of the term, we gave each student the opportunity to present a webinar where they could demonstrate their project to the community. Even though it was a lot of extra work, more than half the students did this. The results were excellent, and the students did really good, concise, focused presentations. We recorded and linked to the webinars on our site so that anyone in the community who is interested in the Google Summer of Code work can simply watch a short webinar to see an actual demonstration of the projects.

Using the Code

There are three ways the code from Google Summer of Code projects can be used within the Joomla! CMS. In some cases, some or all of the code will be incorporated directly into the core codebase for the upcoming Joomla! version 1.6. In other cases, the code has been published as an extension that can be downloaded and used by any Joomla! user on their website. The third method is that the code will be used as a basis for further work.

Some students have combined two of the methods above, for example, producing an extension for the current version 1.5 and making the code available for the core in our version 1.6.

More Information

We invite you to visit our Joomla! Community site for more information about the different projects and what was accomplished, and to download the code.

By Mark Dexter, Joomla! Project

[G] New Building Maker cities

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Google LatLong: New Building Maker cities

[Cross-posted from the Official Google SketchUp Blog]

Today we added six new cities that can be used to model with Building Maker. They are:

• Stockholm, Sweden
• Nuremberg, Germany
• Hiroshima, Japan
• Saitama, Japan
• Miami Beach, FL USA
• Orlando, FL USA

Tip: There are two methods to identify available cities in Building Maker. You can either click on a placemark icon, or use the "Available locations" drop down in the upper-right corner.

If you're not familiar with Building Maker, it's a new 3D modeling tool for adding buildings to Google Earth. It's fun to use, and an easy way to get on the 3D map. Oh, and be forewarned, it can be addictive!

Happy Modeling!

Posted by The Building Maker Team

[G] AdWords & Analytics Sessions at SES Chicago

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Inside AdWords: AdWords & Analytics Sessions at SES Chicago

Next week on December 7th and 8th, you can catch presentations by the Google AdWords team at SES Chicago. We'll be offering practical tips on how to quickly improve your search and display ads performance in the following sessions:
Finally, if you want to learn more about AdWords optimization tools, you can also watch a video walkthrough of the improvements we've made to AdWords this year. Ariel Bardin, the lead Product Manager for the AdWords web interface, will take you through the major new features and give you tips on managing your campaigns more efficiently.

Posted by Miles Johnson, Inside AdWords crew

[G] Searching the global web just got a little easier

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Official Google Blog: Searching the global web just got a little easier

Today, we’re excited to introduce a new "Translated search" tool in the Search Options panel that makes finding and reading content written in other languages easier. Translated search is great because it helps you find information from sites written in other languages. We've offered this feature in Google Translate for a while, but now we're integrating it fully into Google search, making it easier for you to find and read results from pages across the web, even if they weren't written in a language you speak.

Now, when you search on Google for something in your own language, you can use this tool to search the web in another language. Click "Show Options" at the top of the search results page and select "Translated search" to try it out. We'll algorithmically select the best language(s) to translate your search query into and then return you translated results from those pages. We'll even display results from multiple languages.

For example, if you search for [restaurant reviews antwerp] while on vacation in Belgium and want to find more reviews or review sites beyond those that are just available in English, select "Translate search" in the "Show Options" panel. We'll automatically select French and Dutch (the languages spoken in Belgium), translate your query into these languages and then translate the results back into English for you to read. If you’d like to search specific languages, just modify the languages in the panel above the results. You can display results for up to five languages at once and select from 51 languages to search.

Of course, the algorithm that determines which languages to translate your search query into isn't perfect, but we’re working to improve it.

We're rolling this out over the next day — keep an eye out. So if you’re traveling and want to find hotels, restaurants, activities or reviews written from a local perspective, or if you're just curious to find what’s being written about a company, product or topic in another language, give Translated search in the Search Options panel a try. Searching the global web has never been easier!

Posted by Maureen Heymans, Technical Lead and Jeff Chin, Product Manager

[G] More new imagery added to Google Earth and Google Maps

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Google LatLong: More new imagery added to Google Earth and Google Maps

We just launched new imagery for Google Earth and Google Maps. Check to see if any of your favorite places have gotten an update! You can view the updated areas highlighted in red below. Alternatively, you can download this KML, for viewing in Google Earth or you view the updates in Google Maps.

Updates are noted with a red frame

You can also share your cool new imagery finds with us using Twitter! After looking at the updates in the viewer above, tweet your cool finds and add the #GEarthIMG hashtag to your tweets. Here are some interesting examples of tweets we saw last time we updated our imagery:

@Rukasu1: Checking out the massive size and scope of the Menik Farm IDP Camp in Sri Lanka with the new GE imagery. #GEarthIMG
@Henk_e_S: New road infrastructure in Hoek van Holland: #GEarthImg
@Spathiinc: New GeoEye-1 imagery in Google Earth/Maps of World Cup Stadium construction in Cape Town: #GEarthIMG
@Mpegg: Checking out the awesome new imagery of Whistler, site of 2010 Olympics on @googleearth: #GEarthIM

Posted by Matt Manolides, Senior Geo Data Strategist

[G] Technically speaking, what makes Google Chrome fast?

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Google Chrome Blog: Technically speaking, what makes Google Chrome fast?

We're always happy to hear that you're enjoying Google Chrome's speed, and we've often been asked what makes Google Chrome so fast -- from its snappy start-up time, and fast page-loading, to the ability to run complex web applications quickly.

For those of you who'd like to dive into the full technical intricacies on what makes Google Chrome a fast and responsive browser, we've put together video interviews to walk through some of the engineering involved. In particular, we take a look at the inner workings of DNS pre-resolution, the V8 JavaScript engine, and DOM bindings. In a future post, we'll also cover other important aspects of Google Chrome's speed, such as WebKit and UI responsiveness.

You can watch these interviews on the Chromium blog, or through the Google Chrome YouTube channel.

Posted by Min Li Chan, Product Marketing Manager


[G] A deeper look at channels: Targetable channels (Part III of III)

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Inside AdSense: A deeper look at channels: Targetable channels (Part III of III)

During the past 2 weeks, we walked you through the basics of URL and custom channels. In the final episode, Laurence Moore talks about the two ways in which advertisers can target your website: contextual and placement targeting. You'll also learn how to make your channels targetable by advertisers and label them with information such as size, location, and audience so the advertiser can easily find your channels and make an informed decision when choosing to target your site.

Thank you for watching the videos in our channels series, we hope you found them useful. If you'd like to watch more videos from the AdSense team, visit our official channel on YouTube.

Posted by Dia Muthana - Inside AdSense Team

[G] Connect with world leaders on the climate debate

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Official Google Blog: Connect with world leaders on the climate debate

(Cross-posted from the Official YouTube Blog)

Next week 192 countries will participate in the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen — the first step in setting new international commitments for carbon reduction. We want to be sure your voice is included in the debate.

That's why, starting today, you can submit and vote on questions to ask world climate leaders during a televised town hall on CNN. With Google Moderator on YouTube for the first time, you can view, add and vote on video or text questions in one spot.

Questions will be translated into numerous languages using the Google Language API, giving you a chance to read and vote on text questions from around the world. Voting and submissions will be accepted until December 14. You can also track the conversation and vote on new questions. Visit now to get started.

Next week we'll post an update on popular and interesting questions. We're looking forward to seeing what ideas you and others around the world have for addressing climate change.

Posted by Steve Grove, Head of YouTube News & Politics and Colby Ranger, Tech Lead, Google Moderator

[G] UNESCO World Heritage sites in Street View

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Google LatLong: UNESCO World Heritage sites in Street View

If like me you're an avid traveller (of the virtual or standard variety) you'll probably know that in the last few months the Street View team has been working with tourist agencies,
the public and partners from across the world to bring a new kind of imagery to Street View, focusing on putting tourist spots and iconic cultural landmarks on the map in all their 360 degree beauty.

As part of this effort, we're delighted to be announcing a global alliance with UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to put imagery of World Heritage sites into Street View. To whet your appetite we've released new imagery for 19 UNESCO sites around Europe, including places in Czech Republic, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. You can explore the sites directly in Google Maps, or visit the microsite to learn more.

In the coming months Google will work with UNESCO to select additional World Heritage landmarks, in countries where Street View imagery is being collected, which will be photographed for the project. The aim is to collect imagery from diverse regions throughout the world including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, US and many countries throughout Europe. With permission from the site manager/owner such places look set to one day be available to millions of people around the world who may never have the chance to visit them in person.

Fancy a little tour of your own? Why not start with a walk alongside the Seine. From the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, from the Place de la Concorde to the Grand and Petit Palais, the evolution of Paris and its history can be seen from its banks. The Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the Sainte Chapelle are architectural masterpieces while Haussmann's wide squares and boulevards influenced late 19th- and 20th-century town planning the world over.with a virtual walk.

View Larger Map

If you fancy going a little further back in time you could swoop over to Italy to explore the ruins of the Roman towns of Pompei, engulfed by Vesuvius eruption in AD 79. These have been progressively excavated and made accessible to the public since the mid-18th century and are now available for all with a simple click of a mouse.

Visualizzazione ingrandita della mappa

Personally, I couldn't resist going one step further back in time by visiting Stonehenge, in Wiltshire, one of the most famous groups of megaliths in the world. The circles of menhirs are arranged in a pattern whose astronomical significance is still being explored, and the site has captivated acheologists for hundreds of years.

There are plenty more sites you can visit too - like the
Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout in the Netherlands, the old town of Cáceres in Spain and the historic Center of Prague in Czech Republic. Check them all out here.

We work in partnership with landmarks and attractions all over the world to put them on the map and the Street View partnership programme is now available in the following countries: France, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the US. So if you want to be part of it
just get in touch!

In the meantime, enjoy your trip!

Posted by Kenzo Fong Hing, Google London

[G] Introducing Feather: A Lighter Way to Browse Videos

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YouTube Blog: Introducing Feather: A Lighter Way to Browse Videos

One of our priorities is ensuring that videos always load and playback quickly. However, a consequence of rolling out higher quality video, HD and, more recently, 1080p, is that playbacks might suffer if bandwidth or computer processing power is low. There are also a few countries where bandwidth is at a premium and videos can take several seconds to start playing.

Let's face it: in this age of instant gratification, even several seconds of loading time can feel like an eternity.

With all of this in mind, "Feather," an ultra light watch page, launches today in TestTube, our ideas incubator where we test out new products. As you can see by the below screenshot, the player still features prominently, but will default to standard quality. Related videos, comments and other familiar features from the current watch page are kept to a minimum. All of this results in a user experience that aims to keep things simple and the videos loading and playing quickly. If we see adoption go up along with improvements in latency, we'll look to roll this out of TestTube and make it more widely available.

Take Feather for a test drive here.

Chris Zacharias, Engineer, recently watched "TWO DOOR CINEMA CLUB - I Can Talk."


[G] Introducing Google Public DNS

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Official Google Blog: Introducing Google Public DNS

When you type into your browser's address bar, you expect nothing less than to be taken to Wikipedia. Chances are you're not giving much thought to the work being done in the background by the Domain Name System, or DNS.

Today, as part of our ongoing effort to make the web faster, we're launching our own public DNS resolver called Google Public DNS, and we invite you to try it out.

Most of us aren't familiar with DNS because it's often handled automatically by our Internet Service Provider (ISP), but it provides an essential function for the web. You could think of it as the switchboard of the Internet, converting easy-to-remember domain names — e.g., — into the unique Internet Protocol (IP) numbers — e.g., — that computers use to communicate with one another.

The average Internet user ends up performing hundreds of DNS lookups each day, and some complex pages require multiple DNS lookups before they start loading. This can slow down the browsing experience. Our research has shown that speed matters to Internet users, so over the past several months our engineers have been working to make improvements to our public DNS resolver to make users' web-surfing experiences faster, safer and more reliable. You can read about the specific technical improvements we've made in our product documentation and get installation instructions from our product website.

If you're web-savvy and comfortable with changing your network settings, check out the Google Code Blog for detailed instructions and more information on how to set up Google Public DNS on your computer or router.

As people begin to use Google Public DNS, we plan to share what we learn with the broader web community and other DNS providers, to improve the browsing experience for Internet users globally. The goal of Google Public DNS is to benefit users worldwide while also helping the tens of thousands of DNS resolvers improve their services, ultimately making the web faster for everyone.

Posted by Prem Ramaswami, Product Manager

[G] Connect with World Leaders on the Climate Debate

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YouTube Blog: Connect with World Leaders on the Climate Debate

Next week 192 countries will participate in the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen — the first step in setting new international commitments for carbon reduction. We want to be sure your voice is included in the debate.

That's why, starting today, you can submit and vote on questions to ask world climate leaders during a televised town hall on CNN. With Google Moderator on YouTube for the first time, you can view, add, and vote on video or text questions in one spot.

Questions will be translated into numerous languages using the Google Language API, giving you a chance to read and vote on text questions from around the world. Voting and submissions will be accepted until December 14. You can also track the conversation and vote on new questions. Visit now to get started.

Next week we'll post an update on popular and interesting questions. We're looking forward to seeing what ideas you and others around the world have for addressing climate change.

Steve Grove, Head of YouTube News & Politics and Colby Ranger, Tech Lead, Google Moderator, recently watched "Roland Emmerich - Raise Your Voice"


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

[G] Collaborating with Google Apps and Socialwok

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Official Google Enterprise Blog: Collaborating with Google Apps and Socialwok

Editor's Note: Ming Yong is co-founder of Socialwok, a a feed-based group collaboration application for enterprises that integrates with Google Apps. With Socialwok, Google Apps users can create their own private social network to share Google Docs, Calendars and Spreadsheets in feeds for their domains. Ming and his team built Socialwok on Google App Engine for Java, Google Web Toolkit and Google GData APIs.

James Hollow is President of Alien-Eye, a rapidly growing creative marketing agency based in Tokyo and a Socialwok customer. Depending on the project, Alien-Eye works with a network of production partners outside the company and thus a lot of Alien-Eye projects depend on successful collaboration between different distributed small teams.

Thanks to Ming and James for sharing their story.

Ming Yong:
My colleagues and I are big fans of social networking sites and of Google Apps – we use the social feed to keep connected with all our friends around the world and Google Apps as our messaging and collaboration platform. However, we wanted to be able to share information across Google Apps in a more detailed way. So we created Socialwok ( to bring enterprise feed-based sharing to the Google Apps platform.

We launched Socialwok for Google Apps in September 2009 at
Techcrunch 50, where we won the Techcrunch demopit award. Since then, more than 4,000 organizations have signed up for Socialwok. We would like to share with you the story of one such organization, Alien-Eye.

Alien-Eye staff in Tokyo, using Socialwok

James Hollow:
Socialwok has really helped our teams collaborate on projects. Its feed-based group collaboration format is really intuitive, and is a great way to keep track of the conversations around any project or initiative. We create feeds to keep track of all our projects. Members of the Alien-Eye team working on different aspects of the project can post status updates on what they have done, share media files and different Google Apps like Google Docs and Google Calendar.

Given the large number of projects at Alien-Eye, we have many Google Docs as well as media files. Often, it can be very difficult to stay organized and get access to the necessary information. Socialwok's consolidated enterprise keyword search is incredibly handy; all the content on our Alien-Eye social network is indexed and the results are presented split by category. Socialwok even indexes across the different Google Apps file types like Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets and Google Presentations.

We also really like the mobility Socialwok affords us. Our strategists and producers spend a large portion of their time meeting our clients and partners in downtown Tokyo. With Socialwok's mobile web version, we have an intuitive interface to pick up project threads and feedback, and make decisions on the move. You just hop into the feed, post a comment, and the system syndicates it for you using email notifications and
Gmail instant messages.

This can save up to half a day on a single project timeline. Given the large number of projects that are running at Alien-Eye, we get significant productivity benefits from using Socialwok as our de facto project management system.

Socialwok also allows you to invite external collaborators to any feed. All communications on a project are then archived in a single location and can be referenced easily using keyword search or feed directory browsing. Some of our more progressive clients have already started using this functionality, with great results.

Ming Yong:
While Socialwok has become Alien-Eye's hub for internal communications and communication with some collaborators, most of their clients still have email-based work flows. The
Socialwok Gmail gadget integrates the Socialwok user's home feed into the Gmail interface. In addition, you can post to the project feed via keyword-based email addresses, and Socialwok will automatically post the message to the right place.

To try out Socialwok, go to and log in using your Google Apps or Google account info.

Posted by Chris Kelly, Google Apps team

[G] Webinar: Google Analytics' Newest Features

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Google Analytics Blog: Webinar: Google Analytics' Newest Features

As of this week, all the new Google Analytics features we recently announced should be available in all accounts! (And just yesterday, we announced one more - a new, asynchronous tracking code snippet.)

If you missed the announcements or are curious about the features you're now seeing, join us in this upcoming webinar, happening next week on Wednesday. We'll provide an overview and demonstration of the features and provide tips on some best practices and uses. You'll learn how the following features have added more power, flexibility and intelligence to Google Analytics' enterprise class capabilities:
  • Engagement Goals
  • Expanded Mobile Reporting
  • Advanced Table Filtering
  • Unique Visitor Metric
  • Multiple Custom Variables
  • Sharing Advanced Segments & Custom Reports
  • Analytics Intelligence
  • Custom Alerts
When: Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Time: 10 - 11 am, PST

Register here.

There will also be an opportunity for Q&A so please ask your questions beforehand through Google Moderator.

We hope you'll come learn more about the latest features .... and we may even have a few extra surprises to share then, too! Hope to see you there.

Posted by Dai Pham, Google Analytics Team

[G] Now you see it, now you don't

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Official Google Blog: Now you see it, now you don't

You may have noticed that our homepage is sporting a new look. Today we're excited to be releasing a new version of our classic homepage. The main feature of the new homepage is that it "fades in" — when the page first loads, it shows only our logo, the search box and the buttons. For the vast majority of people who come to the Google homepage, they are coming in order to search, and this clean, minimalist approach gives them just what they are looking for first and foremost. For those users who are interested in using a different application like Gmail, Google Image Search or our advertising programs, the additional links on the homepage only reveal themselves when the user moves the mouse. Since most users who are interested in clicking over to a different application generally do move the mouse when they arrive, the "fade in" is an elegant solution that provides options to those who want them, but removes distractions for the user intent on searching.

Left: Before the fade. Right: After the fade. Click the image for a closer view.

For the past few months, we've been experimenting with homepage designs like this and have run several live tests on the site. We do these live tests when we are making a change that we think may fundamentally affect how people use the site. Initially, some of the experiment findings had us concerned, but one thing we have learned through our tests is not to judge the outcome too quickly.

All in all, we ran approximately 10 variants of the fade-in. Some of the experiments hindered the user experience: for example, the variants of the homepage that hid the search buttons until after the fade performed the worst in terms of user happiness metrics. Other variants of the experiment produced humorous outcomes when combined with our doodles — the barcode doodle combined with the fade was particularly ironic in its overstated minimalism. However, in the end, the variant of the homepage we are launching today was positive or neutral on all key metrics, except one: time to first action. At first, this worried us a bit: Google is all about getting you where you are going faster — how could we launch something that potentially slowed users down? Then, we realized: we want users to notice this change... and it does take time to notice something (though in this case, only milliseconds!). Our goal then became to understand whether or not over time the users began to use the homepage even more efficiently than the control group and, sure enough, that was the trend we observed.

Internally, a large number of Google employees have been using the new homepage. They have come to really like it — it represents our focus on great search yet helps searchers efficiently access all of Google's products. Like the new supersized search box we launched several months ago, this change is one that is very noticeable at first, and then quickly becomes second nature. We hope you like it!

Posted by Marissa Mayer, VP of Search Products and User Experience, Kris Hom, Software Engineer, and Jon Wiley, User Experience Designer