Friday, July 29, 2005

Photo sharing, unplugged



Picasa is great for managing photos, but I also use it for ordering prints and photo gifts. A lot of my friends and family prefer to get photos the non-digital way, and Picasa lets me quickly edit photos and albums and then send them to some of the most popular online photo finishers. I just select the pictures I want (hold down the CTRL key to select more than one). Then I click the "Order" button at the bottom of the screen.

I choose the photo finisher I want to use, sign in to that site, and the selected photos are quickly uploaded. From there, shop as usual. Here's a gift a mother could love:
Whether you pick prints or mugs or photo books, it's all about helping you share photos faster and more easily.

Monday, July 25, 2005

More of what I want



A lot of you have personalized your Google homepage since we introduced it on Labs in May. Since then we've received a ton of great feedback, based on which we've added some new options, including a section for bookmarks, updated the page's look-and-feel, and introduced a way to find and add feeds from wherever you want (which means I can keep up with the latest John Cougar Mellencamp news).

Give the latest rev a try and let us know what you think.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Test drive this hybrid vehicle



Can't decide between looking at a map of your house or a photo of your house? See both at once with Google Maps' new Hybrid mode, available in the US, Canada, and the UK.

[updated]

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Moon Children



This adventure started with my birthday wish on a Post-It note.

So how do you launch a project in one week?

It helps to have a working demo. After our satellite maps integration was completed, Chikai, a Google Earth engineer, had time to make his lunar dream a reality -- sort of. Everyone loved the demo but it gathered moon dust for a few months while Google Earth was being readied.

Until Google acquired Keyhole, Chikai and I both lacked co-workers with the same birthday. Fortunately, someone raised the moon idea again on our birthday. And thus the wish was made. Interestingly enough, several product people are also moon children, which probably helped.

A week later, we've achieved lift-off for Google Moon. It's great to stand on the shoulders of giants, especially the brave and brilliant people at NASA we commemorate and whose data made this possible. And it's energizing to work at a company that can translate a birthday wish into a product in a week.

Even so, we haven't included the Moon's 22 seas, 8 Soviet Luna landings, 3 NASA Ranger impacts, and 7 NASA Surveyor landings. Ah, well. There's always next year.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Staying Alert



If you track information on a batch of discrete topics all the time like I do, managing your inbox is no day at the beach. Monitoring a number of mailing lists for interesting news on, say, [harry potter] or [sony aibo] or [housing bubble] without actually subscribing to what could be hundreds of mailing lists is a daunting task. (And remember, Google Groups also encompasses Usenet groups - even more messages to scan!) There hasn't been an easy way to achieve this in Google Groups except for periodically searching for a given topic to see if there are any new and interesting posts.

Some of us thought it would be cool to offer a feature that does this work for us. Whenever we start thinking like this, it's usually followed by a new product - and that has led to our latest Alerts offering, a beta version of Google Groups Alerts. It monitors the top 50 most recent Google Groups search results that relate to keywords you're interested in. Any new articles posted that match your criteria will be emailed to you, just like Google News alerts. The ideal candidates for Groups Alerts are those that might be discussed in multiple discussion groups. Give it a try and see if you don't save time - and stay current.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Finding great ramen nearby



You may have seen our Local and Maps products that help you find businesses and maps throughout the US, Canada and the UK. We've just added Local and Maps services in Japan.

You think Tokyo is expensive? Maybe, but you can still find a number of venues serving a 1000-yen combo lunch near Shinjuku.

Of course, Local and Maps Japan are designed to work with Japanese language, but even if you don't know Japanese, I'm sure you can appreciate why we developed it with some particulars in mind for Japanese users. Many Japanese live and work around train stations, for example, and refer to neighborhoods defined by their proximity to them. So we made sure they can search for businesses easily and refer to location by station names. After all, no one wants to walk 10 miles from a station, just to grab a $10 lunch!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Thanks for playing



Google Video searches a rapidly growing database of network TV shows and uploaded material. We show text and picture info for everything, which is great when you want to know how often they mention cereal or Superman on Seinfeld, for instance. For some material, you can also play the actual video. That's how I know that this guy Eric has a cool cat.

Because lots of people have asked for a way to just find the results with playable video, I've added two radio buttons below the search box on Google Video. To get the stuff you can actually play, click on "playable video" before you search.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Demoing SMS



Since joining Google as an intern a few months ago, I’ve enjoyed over 300 Google meals, done over 20 loads of laundry, and actually launched something. My interactive demo for Google SMS lets you send SMS queries from your computer to Google and preview the results you’d actually get on your phone. You can use Google SMS to look up local business listings, weather conditions, movie showtimes, stock quotes, and more, using any major U.S. or UK carrier. Give it a try.

p.s. Congrats to my colleagues for getting Google SMS out of Labs!

Monday, July 11, 2005

Home on the numrange



More than once I've wanted to search for something that involved a range of numbers - and I just discovered that I can. It turns out you can use two periods (no spaces) to have your search include multiple numbers that form a range. For example, if you wanted to search for inventions of the late 19th century, you could use inventions 1850..1899. I discovered this feature when I was trying to track down the hottest recorded temperature on Earth. I knew it happened in Death Valley, but couldn't remember what it was. I found it by searching for death valley 130..140 degrees.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Tchotchkes cubed





Every time I pass this cube I wonder why my own work space looks so lame.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The platypus of the Internet



It’s surprising what natural selection will produce – for instance, a platypus. How could something with such a seemingly discombobulated set of attributes be fit for survival in the hostile natural world? I had a similar reaction when I first heard about the XUL programming language, used to create the Firefox browser and the plethora of extensions that the Internet ecosystem is creating around it. Strange concept, using JavaScript, which is used to write code that works *in* a browser, to create the browser *itself*. As with the platypus, it’s not until we saw XUL in action that we realized how well suited for survival this product of Internet evolution is.

Not that long ago, the Google Firefox Toolbar team met for the first time - and now we've built the Google Toolbar for Firefox in 10 languages for three operating systems (Windows, Mac and Linux). Self-congratulatory urges aside, we marvel at how well-suited this platypus was to our task. For a small team that had never worked together, or used XUL, to create a product quickly that works across languages and platforms from a single ~250K download - that's good stuff, if you ask me.

In the interest of brevity (already compromised by how long I've gone on), we also tip our hats to the folks at the Mozilla Foundation for making it so easy for us to look good. ;-)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

200 ngultrums? What a deal!



Want to see how your much Brazilian real will get you in Malaysia, or how the US dollar is holding up relative to the euro? You’re in luck -- Google's calculator feature now supports currency conversion.

[Updated URL]

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Sounds of summer



Googlers like music. We play in bands. We've got live music at our lunch BBQs. We've even been known to break into song at company meetings. But our secret sauce is the proximity of Google's Mountain View office to Shoreline Amphitheatre, a popular outdoor concert venue. They've got a full slate of shows each summer and sometimes I'll just hang out at the outer extremes of our campus, letting the tunes drift over the hills to my ears.

But while barely audible summer hits are nice, the fringe benefits of having rock stars so close to the office can sometimes pay off in more surprising ways. When Coldplay performed at Shoreline a couple of years back, it was an excellent excuse for some of the band - together with lead singer Chris Martin's inamorata, Gwyneth Paltrow - to come by and visit Google.

And with Coldplay returning to Shoreline this summer might we expect another visit from Gwyneth and her husband? Maybe. But I'm secretly hoping we get a different musical luminary walking the halls at Google this summer because, well, Ozzfest does come to Shoreline in August.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Looking for Ian Turner (updated)



Last week I got back from the WebmasterWorld conference in New Orleans. I just found out that Ian Turner, a well-known moderator and search engine optimizer, hasn't been seen since last weekend. If you've seen Ian more recently, could you contact his family? There's more information here.

Everyone is hoping that he's safe and sound somewhere.

Update: Ian's okay! He lost his passport, but he's doing fine in Atlanta.