Thursday, September 30, 2004

Pencils down, people

We're a little obsessive about digging into hard computing problems, and we love finding more people like us. One way we find obsessive smart problem-solvers is by using a standardized test. Now standardized tests can suck, especially since you usually take them to become a broke student for years on end. Which can lead to starting a career that, if you're lucky, might eventually lead to a really cool job.

But what if there were a standardized test that led, like, immediately to the really cool job? What if, for instance, there was a Google Labs Aptitude Test?

There is. We enjoyed writing it, and if you're our kind of uber-geek, you'll enjoy taking it, and maybe you'd enjoy life as a Googler. Give it a try. The GLAT is four pages long; you can print them out below.

When you're done, send your completed test to:
Google Labs Jobs
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043-1351

Good luck. Take your time, especially with the essay questions. And no, on this one guessing doesn't help.


pg. 1

pg. 2

pg. 3

Monday, September 27, 2004

China, Google News and source inclusion

There has been controversy about our new Google News China edition, specifically regarding which news sources we include. For users inside the People's Republic of China, we have chosen not to include sources that are inaccessible from within that country.

This was a difficult decision for Google, and we would like to share the factors we considered before taking this course of action.

Google is committed to providing easy access to as much information as possible. For Internet users in China, Google remains the only major search engine that does not censor any web pages. However, it's clear that search results deemed to be sensitive for political or other reasons are inaccessible within China. There is nothing Google can do about this.

For last week's launch of the Chinese-language edition of Google News, we had to decide whether sources that cannot be viewed in China should be included for Google News users inside the PRC. Naturally, we want to present as broad a range of news sources as possible. For every edition of Google News, in every language, we attempt to select news sources without regard to political viewpoint or ideology. For Internet users in China, we had to consider the fact that some sources are entirely blocked. Leaving aside the politics, that presents us with a serious user experience problem. Google News does not show news stories, but rather links to news stories. So links to stories published by blocked news sources would not work for users inside the PRC -- if they clicked on a headline from a blocked source, they would get an error page. It is possible that there would be some small user value to just seeing the headlines. However, simply showing these headlines would likely result in Google News being blocked altogether in China.

We also considered the amount of information that would be omitted. In this case it is less than two percent of Chinese news sources. On balance we believe that having a service with links that work and omits a fractional number is better than having a service that is not available at all. It was a difficult tradeoff for us to make, but the one we felt ultimately serves the best interests of our users located in China. We appreciate your feedback on this issue.

-- The Google Team

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Northern exposure

So you live in Canada, eh? Oh, you don't -- but you're nonetheless looking for a coffee joint with Internet access that's open right now in Toronto? Well, lucky you -- we just launched Google Local Canada.

-- Bret Taylor
Product Manager, Google Local Canada

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

The journey may be the reward, but so is finding the right hotspot

We may be able to roam the globe online, but what about finding a locksmith - or a Thai place that delivers - when you need it? Meet Google Local, our local search service, which we've just enhanced with some new features. We beefed up the technology that delivers more precise results. We cleaned up the design a bit, so the maps you see with the results show the location of your find. We link to more information than before - business home pages, and ratings, reviews. And now you can zoom and pan the maps without reloading the page.

Say a blogger wants to get to a wi-fi hotspot with decent coffee somewhere around Palo Alto. She would definitely have trouble finding listings that provide the right detail through the yellow pages or on other local information sites. But by searching for [wi-fi coffee] in [Palo Alto] on Google Local, she could be caffeinating, and posting, in no time. A time-honored saying is "all politics is local." That's hard to argue, but what we also think is that some search is local, and when it is, it should be useful.

- Bret Taylor
Google Local product manager

On the alert(s)

You're always welcome at Google, but wouldn't it be nice if Google came to you on occasion? Google Alerts enable you to specify topics you want to track (Hurricane Ivan, election polls, the latest Survivor odds) and deliver news updates as well as the latest changes to websites directly to your email inbox. Alerts are also a useful tool for tracking what's doing in business, whether you request updates about your own company or your competitors. Currently in test (beta) mode, Google Alerts are yours for free (no asterisks or strings attached).

To set yours up, go to the Google Alerts home page. Just specify a keyword, the type of alert you want (news, website, or both), delivery options (daily, weekly, or as it happens), and an email address. You can receive alerts in either plain text or HTML format. You can also access a central console to create new alerts, check their status or edit your existing topics. Alerts are available in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Chinese (simplified) and (traditional).

- Adam Smith
Google Alerts product manager

Monday, September 13, 2004

Worth the drive

We like things to be efficient and fast, so it's logical that we'd set up a shuttle service for all the Googlers driving to Mountain View from San Francisco every day. Doing it in a Googley way, we went a step further than providing a shuttle. Our bus runs on biodiesel fuel. This clean-burning alternative to gasoline is produced from renewable - and domestically grown - resources. Biodiesel contains no petroleum, is biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics. It has lower emissions than petroleum diesel, too. It's less toxic than table salt and biodegrades as fast as sugar.

It does cost more than regular diesel, but consider this: The Google shuttle carries an average of 155 employees a day. Each run totals about 75 miles - that's 11,625 miles a day we're not driving. If the average car gets 25 mpg, then we're saving some 465 gallons of gas a day, or 2,325 gallons a week - weekly savings of $4,998.75 (figuring $2.15/gallon).

Between the shuttle's wireless access and the earth-friendly fuel, it's hard to imagine getting more out of a daily commute. Although now that I think about it, a helicopter might be nice.

- Cari Spivack
Engineering operations project manager & SF shuttle organizer

Friday, September 03, 2004

Will code for plane ticket?

Do you like programming challenges? Do you like competition? Do you like money? If you can answer yes to at least two of those three questions, then Code Jam, Google's annual celebration of the art of computer science, is for you. Every autumn, thousands of programmers sign up to tackle the most ego-deflating problems Google's engineers can come up with, in a race against time and their fellow coders. After several elimination rounds, the top 50 finalists get a free trip to the final round at the Googleplex here in Mountain View, where all 50 will wind up with a share of $50,000 in prize money ($10,000 to the winner, at least $250 to all 50 finalists).

So. Are you good? We mean, like, seriously good? Let's find out. Maybe you'll score some cash. Maybe you'll wind up changing the world as a Googler yourself (yes, we'll be interested in perusing code jammers' resumes). But most important, you'll have the sheer intellectual pleasure of testing your gray matter against that of the world's best programmers. Gifted geeks may take up the Code Jam '04 gauntlet here.

-- David Jeske
Software Engineer