Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Speaking of search



Do you manage to lose track of files, emails and websites in languages other than English? If so, you’ll be glad to know that Google Desktop Search is now available in French, Italian, German, Spanish, Dutch, Chinese (simplified), Chinese (traditional), Japanese and Korean.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Give them a hand



The product marketing team is currently experimenting with some new ideas for Google Local, and I just went to Kansas City to beta-test some of them with my colleagues Resmi and Samantha. Our first order of business was to visit mall kiosks. Since my poor sense of direction has inspired my family to invoke “The Debbie Rule” (the listener travels in the opposite direction from what Debbie says), before arriving in Kansas City I used Google Maps to print out driving directions from Rafael Hotel to Town Center Plaza, and from there to the Oak Park Mall.

Aside from Arthur Bryant’s barbeque, a highlight of the trip was a ball game between those major rivals, the Kansas City Royals vs. the St. Louis Cardinals. Not only did the Royals rally in the 8th inning to come within one run of the Cards, but it was pretty cool to see fans wave big foam hands from Google.



(If it's too hard to read, one side says “Know your city like the back of your hand. In this case, a big foam hand. Google Local.” The other side says “Go Royals.”)

Some Cardinals fans also enjoyed the hands - but none of those photos are suitable for posting (the hands we provided all started out with five fingers, I swear).

Thursday, May 19, 2005

No scraping necessary



My friends have been asking me for something that could add Gmail and news headlines to the Google homepage. I saw a Slashdot post requesting the same thing, and someone wrote back: if you want that feature, do it yourself and whip up some code or scrape the data. Of course, why would my friends spend any time hacking this together when they could just get me to do it for them?

So I got involved with the 'fusion' initiative by joining the team working on a personalized homepage. We launched today, so now I can return the Python books I bought my lazy friends. Check it out and tell us what else you want to see. We just might code it up.

A method to our madness



Does Google have a strategy, or are we just a bunch of mad computer scientists running around building whatever we want? Today this question gets an answer: we've launched our personalized homepage via Google Labs. It's part of a strategic initiative we refer to as 'fusion' to bring together Google functionality, and content from across the web, in useful ways.

The personalized homepage is a complement to the existing Google homepage - not a replacement. Keep using the original Google homepage if you want to. (We expect many people will.) But if you're keen to organize and customize your information, take a stab at designing your own homepage. You can add Gmail, news, stocks, weather and more. Plus you can add great content from websites like the BBC and Wired. We're incorporating feeds from just a few other sites today, but we envision being able to accept any standardized feed very soon.

Enjoy, and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Tomorrow, work that bike



So many Googlers commute by bike every day that you can't easily look down a hallway and not see a bicycle or two leaning against the wall. Some people bike in from just a few miles away while others combine their commute with other training. I ride 40 miles from San Francisco to Mountain View (and back!) twice a week. Somehow, I'm much more awake and refreshed than I would have been if I sat in my car on 101 for an hour. Or more...

Google is a huge supporter of bike commuting, and Bike to Work Day is a real party in Mountain View. Cyclists can get Google-branded bike goodies, monthly onsite bicycle tune-ups, and classes on basic commuter skills, bike maintenance, touring - even how to ride your first century. But it doesn't matter what or how far you ride. Biking to work is a great way to get some exercise, save some gas, improve the environment, and most importantly of all, have fun!

this just in from Aparna Brown, Commuting Coordinator:
Since he was just named San Francisco County's Bike Commuter of the Year by the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition, Joe is the perfect Googler to write about bike commuting. As someone who only bikes 2.5 miles to work, I'm pretty darn impressed with his dedication to regular rides to work. To encourage others to bike to work, Joe and others will be leading rides to Mountain View from all over the Bay Area on Thursday. Watch for bikers with Google shirts and give them a friendly wave (from your bike, natch).

Search for the enterprise



Looking for a crucial file you lost somewhere on your computer? At home you’d use Google Desktop Search - and at work, you’d start updating your resume. Not anymore. Check out Google Desktop Search for the Enterprise: fast, secure (and free!) desktop search that you can actually use from 9 to 5.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A Video Uploader for the rest of us



As a Mac user, my heart sank a little when I first saw the post about the Google Video Upload Program. Clearly, the concept is cool. It was just that all-too-ubiquitous .exe file you must run to upload your videos. Of course I know that something like 90% of the desktop/notebook computers sold today run Windows. But in my circle of friends (admittedly a small one -- I blame the caffeine), almost everyone uses a Mac, and the rest use Linux or some other UNIX-like substance. Anyhow, this Video announcement inevitably led to a lot of flak (again) from my friends about how Google was shipping yet another Windows-only application. "I thought Google has lots of smart developers." "Doesn't Google know how to write platform independent software?" Blah, blah, blah.

But this time, I took it as a personal challenge. I shoot a lot of video, and I edit it on my Mac. How hard could it be to write a compatible video uploader that would run everywhere? As I soon discovered, not very hard at all. After all, I have access to the C++ source code for the existing Windows-specific uploader, and I can spend my 20% time working on whatever I want. And I have plenty of experience writing portable code, given that I program in Java.

Java comes pre-installed on the vast majority of operating systems in use today, or it's available as a free download from Sun. And software written in Java really, really does work across all those platforms, as a decade of work by software developers can attest. The Java mantra "Write once, run anywhere" is a reality -- it just works. Java programs also tend to be less buggy than their C/C++ counterparts, and programmers working in Java are a lot more productive - but these are topics for another post.

Anyway, now you can sign up for the Google Video Uploader for Macintosh, and ditto for Linux (and UNIX and Solaris and HP-UX and AIX and lots of other platforms). The same sign-up page goes to to the Windows version too. So now I can ponder a different problem - namely, which of my videos I want to share with the world.

Feed me



If you're like many savvy web users, you may be reading this via a feed reader, along with all the other blogs, newspapers, and other content that interests you. Whether a feed is Atom-enabled or RSS, it offers great flexibility for users and additional distribution for publishers. As with many promising technologies feeds haven't quite hit the mainstream yet, nor are the business models entirely sorted out.

Enter AdSense for feeds, launching today in beta. The idea is simple: advertisers have their ads placed in the most appropriate feed articles; publishers are paid for their original content; readers see relevant advertising - and in the long run, more quality feeds to choose from. Given the great flexibility that feeds can offer, it's essential to get the model right, especially so that readers are satisfied. Towards this end we have outlined what we believe are some best practices for advertising in feeds. Publishers who want to participate in the public beta can apply here.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

A Bay to Breakers break



The Bay to Breakers 12k run is a hallowed (if irreverent) Bay Area tradition that starts at San Francisco's Embarcadero (the Bay), and ends in Golden Gate Park (sort of close to the breakers of the Pacific - ok, it's a bit of poetic license). Though serious runners compete, the streets are clogged with up to 70,000 hardy souls —



— a mix of halfway decent and annual runners, often in costume (or not; there's a band of nude runners too).

Today's 94th race included more than 40 Googlers running as the "We're Feeling Lucky" team. We ran for fun and to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Our "Lucky" Team "donned special T-shirts emblazoned with the hurdles doodle from the 2004 Summer Olympics on the front, and individual letters that collectively spell GOOOOOOOGLE on the back. Faster runners got the G-O tees, and well, the rest of us got O-O-G-L-E.



Of course, we did a little advertising. This was a good crowd to inform that as always, we're hiring.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Q&A: the world tour



When we launched Google Q&A, we told you it was just the beginning. Today marks the start of the Google Q&A world tour -- we're kicking off with the UK (who's the prime minister again?), Ireland (what's the population of Dublin?), Canada (how many people live there?), Australia (what's the capital?), and New Zealand (how big is it, anyway?). So now I can't say it's still just the beginning, but it's still very early. We're putting together a lot of new information like this to help you get the quickest possible answers to all your questions, so keep checking back for more.

(updated with a new link)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Mini goes Euro



Turns out that businesses in London, Madrid and Dusseldorf have the same headaches as those in Chicago or Vancouver: they can't find that sales presentation on the company intranet. Or customers fill up the support line with calls for info that's actually on the website. Google Mini to the rescue. So now it's for sale in the UK and throughout the EU.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Library access



As a graduate student at Virginia Tech, I spent many an hour reading volumes of Machine Learning Journal on the fourth floor of Newman Library. Libraries are known for their vast print collections, but that's not the end of the story. I often found interesting citations on the web and wished I could read the articles right then on my computer screen, saving a trip to the library.

My wish is now becoming a reality: most academic libraries these days subscribe to electronic versions of journals that authorized patrons can read on their own computers. And today we're launching a feature in Google Scholar that lets people read their academic library's subscriptions directly from their Google Scholar search results. Students at more than 100 participating universities will see links to such library resources as electronic delivery, print catalogs, and interlibrary loan.

We are deeply grateful to libraries and library software vendors who worked with us to define and implement library access in Google Scholar. Thirty organizations have participated in the pilot project that led to this launch, and many more have offered their help. We hope that library access in Google Scholar will help researchers like myself discover relevant information so they can build on the work of others and 'stand on the shoulders of giants.'

One more way to access Local UK



We were on a roll after we launched Google Local UK last month, and went on to build a mobile web browser version of Google Local for our UK users. Users can now access Local on their mobile by going straight to the Local home page (that's http://mobile.google.co.uk/local) or the Google UK home page (a.k.a. http://www.google.co.uk/xhtml). So we say: step away from that computer. Click a few buttons on your keypad and head to that new Thai restaurant near Piccadilly Circus. If you're slightly disoriented once away from the screen, Local gives you Google Maps and driving directions too.

Updated with visible URLs.

Friday, May 06, 2005

They are among us



There's no cause for alarm, but we wish to note that millions of people walking around *right now* are carrying little blogging devices. That's what we on the Blogger team call them, anyway. Others might refer to them as "mobile phones." It's all semantics.

The point is, we've launched Blogger Mobile. It's nothing fancy, really. All you need to do to use it is send an email or MMS from your phone to go@blogger.com - and that's it. We automatically create your blog, and whatever text or photos (or both) you send in the message becomes your post. Continue posting by sending more messages to go@blogger.com and congratulations: you are a blogger.

There's also this part we call "claiming your blog." That means you visit go.blogger.com and enter the token we send to your phone. When you sign in with this token, you get full Blogger access to all of your various settings, plus the ability to switch your posts to an existing blog if you already have one.

You may now use a mobile device to create and update your blog while you're on-the-go. See? Little blogging appliances — they are among us.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Switch!



To make the Google Blog a bit easier to manage behind the scenes, we're now publishing it to its new home at Blogspot: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/

Newsreader users shouldn't have to re-subscribe; the Atom feed is being redirected to its new URL. We've also updated the design a bit, and added a blogroll. Let us know what you think.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Time waits for no one



My dentist told me I needed to floss more.

That's a big demand for a Googler's busy lifestyle. Where do you find the time to floss - less foosball, shorter lunches, skip out on ultimate frisbee? Hardly!

This calls out loud and clear for a way to optimize time. One mundane time-waster we all contend with, for example, is waiting for web pages to load. The tantalizing promise of a web page is only seconds away. But even on broadband, the wait's too short to do something else - and just long enough to be irritating. Let's face it, those seconds add up.

As you may have noticed, we're slightly obsessed with speed around here. When you search on Google.com, your results are returned to you within fractions of a second. And now comes Google Web Accelerator. After you download it, we hope you'll enjoy that same Google-fast experience across the rest of the web. After all, seconds add up to minutes.

web accelerator

Dentists everywhere will be smiling.

Monday, May 02, 2005

TV treasure hunt



Before a recent trip to Hong Kong and Taipei, I'd heard that a major Taipei attraction is the food at night markets. So I did a search on Google Video for Taipei night markets, and was pleasantly surprised to see that there's a PBS show called "Burt Wolf: Travels & Traditions." And before my trip it aired an episode on Taiwan. The first segment of the show focused on, yes, night markets. Perfect. After watching it, I knew enough to jostle among the locals and eat incredible treats like dou hua, dumplings, squid stew and oyster omelets.

We've been working to bring more video content online since we launched Google Video in late January, and have just added 12 new channels - among them CNN and the Discovery Channel - giving me way more TV info to unearth.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

It's an honor



Dear Sergey and Larry, I want to extend my personal congratulations to you both on your election to the esteemed American Academy of Arts and Sciences. It is a most well-deserved honor that recognizes your accomplishments and vision both technological and societal. I am proud to have you join us in the AAAS, which has among its members the most accomplished individuals since the Academy was formed in 1780 by some of our nation's founding fathers. Welcome, and congratulations again.