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At a time when the power of information technology doubles every 12 to 15 months and extends to capture every scrap we have, digitizing biodiversity information is a final frontier for IT. It's an essential step to ensure society maintains and hopefully increases bio-literacy. Toward this end, there's Antweb. It's a project from the California Academy of Sciences that has incorporated the Google Earth interface to provide location-based access to the diversity and wonder of ants: from your backyard to the Congo Basin.

As society advances, literacy increases and bio-literacy decreases. If you're illiterate, you may view a library as thinly sliced stacks of firewood; a Google search engine is meaningless. If you are bio-illiterate, a forest is at best a green blob to be consumed. If you are bio-literate, you see the diversity of the forest and understand that each animal, each plant, tells a story and has a place.

Google has helped us achieve free and democratic access to information, but now, with Google Earth, it's taken an important step to promote bio-literacy. Together with other institutions in the Bay Area, Google is uniquely poised to take on this enormous task.

There are two ways people need to access information on biodiversity: either have a name for which they want more information, or they are at a location and want to know what they will find there. On Antweb, you can access information about ants via location – and Google Earth allows for any scale of access via location. So you can be in Santa Clara County and see what ants you are likely to find. Soon you will be able to create a field guide for ants in any location defined in Google Earth.

We tried to get NASA’s help to develop such a system for years with their mapping expertise and data, but Google Earth answered the call first. I am so impressed with Google that I have named an ant I recently discovered in Madagascar Proceratium google. Its bizarrely-shaped abdomen is an adaptation for hunting down obscure prey: spider eggs. Here's what it looks like.

I hope that Google will continue applying its skills to serve biodiversity data to conservation planners and the general public. Google has given us a tool to connect the 6 billion people on earth with our remaining biodiversity. Antweb welcomes any form of collaboration to help achieve this goal – and may the ants be with you.

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Have you ever wondered if that "beach-front" condo really is beach-front? Recently I planned a trip to Hawaii and saw one particularly breathless condo listing that described the property as being just 400 "steps" from the beach. Now having seen the location, I think the owner was obviously very tall...

Using the measure feature in Google Earth, you can take a little bit of the guesswork out of finding the perfect accommodations. Just follow these three simple steps:

1) Fly to your area of interest in Google Earth (if you don't have it, get it here).

2) Click the Email button on the nav panel in the lower right, and send the property owner a JPG screenshot of the area. Ask him or her to identify which place is theirs.

3) Select Measure from the Tools menu and choose to see the distance in feet, yards, miles (or even smoots, if you insist).

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How many Googlers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? None, if you use solar power. We just had our first Google Environmental Fair to help introduce employees to various sustainable practices, low impact living and natural products. This event kicks off an ongoing worldwide effort by Google to bring environmental best practices to our offices and employees. Companies are finding that "going green" isn't just good for the earth but can lead to, say, superior design or healthier lifestyles.

Earlier this year Google further encouraged responsible energy technologies by offering a cash incentive to employees who decide to purchase a fuel-efficient vehicle. The net result? I'm guessing that the Mountain View Googleplex has the highest concentration of Toyota Priuses in the Northern Hemisphere. As an added bonus to the environmental benefits, California hybrid owners can now drive in the carpool lane without needing additional passengers. Score! Of course with a parking lot full of similar-looking cars one must take steps to stand out. I'm thinking Twenty-Twos and flames.

Actually, the most appropriate car accessory might be one offered by another Environmental Fair participant, a Terrapass. Donations to this progressive organization are used to "eliminate the equivalent of your car's carbon dioxide pollutions" through financing projects which reduce industrial emissions. So whether you're driving a new fuel-efficient vehicle or a more traditional car, you can leave a smaller environmental footprint.

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Googlers aren't the only ones to spend time on planes – many people suffer the effects of "Economy Class Syndrome." Here are some tips even for flying veterans – or for that matter, those taking long road, train or bus trips, as similar advice applies. Much of this information can be found at the helpful site AirHealth.

Economy Class syndrome causes blood clots that develop in the legs (deep venous thrombosis, DVT) as a result of prolonged air travel. "Prolonged" can mean a 2-hour flight – and after 2 hours, the risk increases hourly, even if you change flights. If the clot breaks off and goes to the lungs (pulmonary embolus, PE) it can cause death.

Of course, this syndrome can easily occur in business or first class seats too – but it happens more in economy simply because there are more seats and therefore more people sitting.

Sounds obscure, you say? It's not. Some 3 to 5 percent of air travelers develop blood clots, most of which dissolve naturally. The few that don't have significant morbidity and mortality, but most of these can be prevented. However, the more frequently you fly, your chance of developing them goes up: frequent business travelers are about 50 times more likely to develop clots.

Often there are no symptoms until several days after the flight, and the DVT may be mistaken for a cramp. Symptoms may include:
  • Sudden swelling in one leg (a little swelling in both legs is usually normal)
  • Cramp or tenderness in one lower leg
  • Bruise or swelling behind a knee
Chest symptoms (PE) usually appear 2-4 days or more after the initial blood clot, and may include:
  • Shortness of breath, rapid breathing, panting
  • Cramp in your side, painful breathing
  • Chest pain, sometimes shoulder pain
  • Fever
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fainting
If you're thinking this doesn't happen to healthy road warriors, you'd be wrong. Being athletic is a major risk factor, because the slower pulse and resting blood flow rate may lead to increased stasis. Others who need to be on guard for DVT are:
  • Those who've had recent surgery or an injury. Avoid surgery 30 days before and after travel.
  • Personal or family history of DVT
  • Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity
  • Women who are pregnant, or are taking birth control pills or other hormone therapy
I think I have your attention now - so how do you prevent DVT when traveling?
  • Walk when possible on the plane (or bus or train).
  • Do leg flexing exercises at 30-60 minute intervals. Extend your legs and flex your ankles, pulling up and spreading your toes, then pushing down and curling the toes. Or rotate the ankles by making circles in the air.
  • If there isn't room to extend your legs, start with your feet flat on the floor and push down and curl your toes while lifting your heels. Then, with your heels back on the floor, lift and spread your toes. Repeat this heel-toe cycle five times or more.
  • Exercise your thigh muscles by sitting with your feet flat on the floor and slide your feet forward a few inches, then slide back and repeat. Or extend the legs if possible and isometrically flex thigh muscles.
  • Avoid crossing your legs, or wearing constrictive clothing (knee braces or tight garments, elastic support hose. (Compression hose have been proven effective, however).
  • Stay hydrated - but only with non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages like a Virgin Mary (no vodka), and preferably electrolytic drinks (Gatorade type) – 1 cup every 1-2 hours. Drinking lots of plain water is not recommended (on long flights it can contribute to thicker blood viscosity, which may lead to clots).
  • If you have risk factors (such as history of DVT) talk to your doctor, since these require prescriptions. (Note that contrary to popular belief aspirin does not help prevent these clots because aspirin mainly affects the arterial and not the venous circulation.)
  • Though another standard recommendation is to avoid sleep, I think that would be cruel and unusual punishment given the severe deficiency of entertainment on these long hauls.
Finally, if you think have DVT, do not massage the leg - it can break off the clot and lead to PE. Call your doctor and let him or her know that you have traveled recently, and are having pain or swelling in one leg. The proper test then would be an ultrasound of the leg (not invasive or painful).

Want to read more? There's an extensive list of references of studies at the National Library of Medicine's PubMed service.

Wishing you safe and healthy trips!

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Google opened its doors in September 1998, and we’ve been pursuing one mission ever since: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. For our seventh birthday, we are giving you a newly expanded web search index that is 1,000 times the size of our original index.

I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished in the years since Larry Page and Sergey Brin set up the first Google data center in Larry’s dorm room at Stanford. Today, along with web search based on Larry and Sergey’s original BackRub search engine, we offer specialized search for everything from satellite images to academic papers, local business info to your own computer. We’ve also built software for email and mobile services, photo management and computer-to-computer voice calling, to name just a few things.

But search remains our heart and soul, so I’m especially pleased by this latest expansion of our index, which makes Google more than 3 times larger than any other search engine. See for yourself how effective the new Google search index can be. Come up with a search query that's special to you (your name, your elementary school, and your favorite animal, for example) - a combination of words that is likely to exist on just a few web pages out of the billions we've indexed, a few needles scattered in the Internet’s endless haystack. Ready? Let’s go.

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For all the talk about Internet TV, it's actually not so easy to watch a major network program on your own computer - especially one that's on the (bigger) small screen right now. But here's one you can watch: the new fall season premiere of Everybody Hates Chris, a lightly fictional take on Chris Rock's anxiety-ridden junior high school days. It first ran last Thursday on UPN, and for the next four days you can watch the entire first episode through Google Video.

When you're watching young Chris' travails, you'll see them on the new release of Google Video. There's no viewer to download, and the bigger video window (which expands automatically to your browser size) is now compatible with Mac and Linux as well as Windows. You can skip around in the video and start watching it instantly, even beyond what's been buffered. And you can watch a 10-second snippet of playable videos right on the results page - making it easier to decide whether you want to commit to the whole thing.

The era of the couch potato is so over. We're rooting for the desk (and laptop) potato.

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Last year we thought we hit it big when 7,500 software coders from all over competed for top prizes in our annual Google Code Jam. We didn't know what "big" was until this year's competition, which concluded today. Not 7,500, not 10,000, but 14,500 programmers hailing from Belarus and China, Venezuela and Sweden, Macedonia and Spain - among plenty of other places, 32 countries in all - limbered up and got coding in the multi-round programming competition.

The field narrowed over successive rounds since August 22, and today we hosted 100 finalists in a final showdown at the Googleplex for more than $150,000 in prizes.

Now that the dust has cleared, our second and third place winners, each of whom receives $5000, are Erik-Jan Krijgsman of the Netherlands, and Petr Mitrichev from Russia. And the grand prize of $10,000 goes to Marek Cygan from Poland, who is a student at Warsaw University.

We were amazed by the talent and energy we've seen here. Congrats to Marek, Erik-Jan, Petr and all the Google Code Jam participants. We're already looking forward to next time.

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"Making all the Google Print facts clear really does make a difference."

That's the headline of Derek Slater's blog post commenting on our recent statement about the Authors Guild lawsuit. Some others have weighed in, and you can read a sampling from law professor Susan Crawford, the EFF, publisher Tim O'Reilly, author David Youngberg, attorney William Patry, and search analyst Danny Sullivan. Or listen to this NPR story.

*Updated with link to Danny Sullivan commentary.

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After two months in beta we are officially releasing our Firefox Toolbar with a couple of nifty Firefox-only features. One of these is the addition of Google Suggest, which shows useful query suggestions as you type in the Toolbar search box.

We also heard from plenty of savvy Firefox users who wanted to be able to reorganize their Toolbar with Firefox’s Customize feature. So in the latest version of the Toolbar, you can go to the View > Toolbars > Customize menu to rearrange icons to your heart's content. You can even move the search box around!

With my setup I've rearranged the buttons and saved quite a few pixels. Here's a screenshot:



Don't have Firefox yet? Get it here.

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If you can get weather forecasts for Belfair, WA from Google.com, why shouldn’t you be able to access mainframe data from your own Google Search Appliance? Our 2,000 enterprise customers know that you can. (In fact our enterprise business has grown more than 100 percent in the first half of this year over the first half of last year.) The Google Enterprise Professional program will help Google customers extend their use of enterprise products to previously hard-to-search areas of their infrastructure, such as legacy data locked in mainframes, information on a highly secure government network, or real-time customer data in an enterprise application.

As it turns out, there are plenty of businesses with expertise in this stuff -- systems integrators and independent software vendors that know more about specialized enterprise environments than we ever could. So today we're announcing this program to help customers get more value out of their Google enterprise search deployments.

We provide training, a development version of the Google Search Appliance, and the necessary support so Google Enterprise Professionals can become experts on our enterprise technology. And they give us expertise in their categories built on years of experience.

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At Google, we're constantly trying to find new ways to organize the world's information, including information relevant to our business. Building on the ideas of Friedrich Hayek and the Iowa Electronic Markets, a few Googlers (Doug Banks, Patri Friedman, Ilya Kirnos, Piaw Na and me, with some help from Hal Varian), set up a predictive market system inside the company.

The markets were designed to forecast product launch dates, new office openings, and many other things of strategic importance to Google. So far, more than a thousand Googlers have bid on 146 events in 43 different subject areas (no payment is required to play).

We designed the market so that the price of an event should, in theory, reflect a consensus probability that the event will occur. To determine accuracy of the market, we looked at the connection between prices of events and the frequency with which they actually occurred. If prices are correct, events priced at 10 cents should occur about 10 percent of the time.

In the graph below, the X-axis indicates the price ranges for the group. The orange line represents the average price, which is how often outcomes in that group should actually happen according to market prices. The purple line is how often they did happen. Ideally these would be equal, and as you can see they're pretty close. So our prices really do represent probabilities - very exciting!

We also found that the market prices gave decisive, informative predictions in the sense that their predictive power increased as time passed and uncertainty was resolved. When a market first opens there may be considerable uncertainty about what will eventually happen; but as time goes on, some outcomes became more likely than others. The market prices should reflect this phenomenon, with the implied probability distributions becoming more concentrated over time.

Being geeks, we naturally used information theory to measure the entropy of our probability distributions:

In this graph, we have weeks before market expiration on the X-axis, and entropy (in bits) on the Y-axis. We've included some reference entropies to help your intuition, and you can see that in addition to accurate predictions, the distributions become steadily more informative and decisive (lower entropy) over time.

Our search engine works well because it aggregates information dispersed across the web, and our internal predictive markets are based on the same principle: Googlers from across the company contribute knowledge and opinions which are aggregated into a forecast by the market. Sometimes, just feeling lucky isn't enough, and these tools can help.

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Today we learned that the Authors Guild filed a lawsuit to try to stop Google Print. We regret that this group chose to sue us over a program that will make millions of books more discoverable to the world -- especially since any copyright holder can exclude their books from the program. What’s more, many of Google Print’s chief beneficiaries will be authors whose backlist, out of print and lightly marketed new titles will be suggested to countless readers who wouldn’t have found them otherwise.

Let's be clear: Google doesn’t show even a single page to users who find copyrighted books through this program (unless the copyright holder gives us permission to show more). At most we show only a brief snippet of text where their search term appears, along with basic bibliographic information and several links to online booksellers and libraries. Here’s what an in-copyright book scanned from a library looks like on Google Print:

Google respects copyright. The use we make of all the books we scan through the Library Project is fully consistent with both the fair use doctrine under U.S. copyright law and the principles underlying copyright law itself, which allow everything from parodies to excerpts in book reviews. (Here's an article by one of the many legal scholars who have weighed in on Google Print.)

Just as Google helps you find sites you might not have found any other way by indexing the full text of web pages, Google Print, like an electronic card catalog, indexes book content to help users find, and perhaps buy, books. This ability to introduce millions of users to millions of titles can only expand the market for authors’ books, which is precisely what copyright law is intended to foster.

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People all around the world are photo-mad, snapping digital photos everywhere they go. Today people in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan and the UK have a new tool: Google's Picasa photo organizer in their own (local) language.

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Have you ever dreamed of Africa while reading National Geographic? The exotic photographs and thoughtful articles take you there with a magical sense of place. Today we embraced that magic by releasing Google Earth data layers that index National Geographic stories, images, journals, and even a live webcam in Africa.

Just start Google Earth, enable the National Geographic layers, and begin exploring.


Across Africa, you will see the familiar yellow National Geographic logo. Zoom in to see the title of each feature article or photograph. Click the icon and a pop-up balloon shows a photo and description along with links to the content. Follow those links to read the entire story right where it happened. Not only will you learn about Jane Goodall's Fifi, you'll see her home. Joining the stories and images are layers for National Geographic Sights & Sounds multimedia resources, a live WildCam in Botswana, and a collection of Mike Fay's Megaflyover images.

The Megaflyover images are stunning. Mike spent more than a year taking 92,000 high resolution photographs of the continent. That project is described in Tracing the Human Footprint, an article in the September 2005 National Geographic. He selected 500 of his favorite scenes of people, animals, geological formations, and signs of human presence and annotated them in Google Earth. Look for the red airplane icons as you fly over Africa. Each of these marks a spot where a high resolution image awaits your own personal voyage.

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If you do a Google search on the word [failure] or the phrase [miserable failure], the top result is currently the White House’s official biographical page for President Bush. We've received some complaints recently from users who assume that this reflects a political bias on our part. I'd like to explain how these results come up in order to allay these concerns.

Google's search results are generated by computer programs that rank web pages in large part by examining the number and relative popularity of the sites that link to them. By using a practice called googlebombing, however, determined pranksters can occasionally produce odd results. In this case, a number of webmasters use the phrases [failure] and [miserable failure] to describe and link to President Bush's website, thus pushing it to the top of searches for those phrases. We don't condone the practice of googlebombing, or any other action that seeks to affect the integrity of our search results, but we're also reluctant to alter our results by hand in order to prevent such items from showing up. Pranks like this may be distracting to some, but they don't affect the overall quality of our search service, whose objectivity, as always, remains the core of our mission.

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We put the word out that we needed more chefs to come to Google's Mountain View campus and cook lots of food, and lots of kinds of food, for thousands of daily meals. There's been no shortage of candidates. Hundreds of chefs from all over the world sent resumes, and we invited a number of them to come and audition for a discerning group of employee-tasters.

We thought you might enjoy a sampling of the incredible range of dishes that have impressed our hiring/tasting committee. Happy cooking!

Edamame Hummus
Shelled edamame (soy beans) can be found in all natural food stores, Asian grocery stores and the natural food sections of most supermarkets. Tahini is sesame paste and can be found in the same places. The crushed ice keeps the mixture cool while processing and allows less oil to be used.

2 cups frozen shelled edamame
1 pound (13 oz. can) chick peas, drained and rinsed
4 cloves peeled garlic
2 T. fresh, grated ginger root
1/2 c. sesame tahini
3 tsp. lemon juice
3/4 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. sesame oil
1/2 c. crushed ice
1 T. hot sauce
1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt to taste

Boil or steam the edamame for 10 minutes until tender. Rinse under cold water and drain. Place in a food processor or blender. Add all the remaining ingredients and process until smooth, but still a little chunky. If you like a bit more texture in your hummus, reserve about 1/3 cup of the whole edamame and fold them in at the end.

Serve with flat breads, crudites or crackers. Serves 12-16 as an appetizer.

Read more about this chef's visit.
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Thai Red Curry Dragon Fly Noodles
1 T. toasted sesame oil
¼ c Andouille sausage, sliced
¼ c. 6-8 shrimp
1 T. red onion, diced
1 T. garlic, minced
1 T. fresh ginger, minced
1 T. red curry paste
1 T. shrimp paste
4 T. dry white wine
1 c. coconut milk
1 c. organic chicken stock
½ c. jumbo lump crabmeat
Pinch Cayenne pepper
¼ tsp Jalapeno pepper, minced
¼ c. baby corn
½ tsp. salt
Fresh cracked pepper to taste
¼ c. fresh cilantro, chopped
½ c. scallions, sliced
16 oz. Chinese egg noodles, cooked

Heat oil in a wok. Sauté andouille and shrimp for 2 minutes. Set aside. In separate pot, cook noodles, drain, and set aside.
Add red onion, garlic, ginger, red curry paste, shrimp paste and sauté in wok for 1-2 minutes. Deglaze with white wine. Add coconut milk and chicken stock. Bring to a low boil, simmer for 5 minutes.
Add andouille, shrimp, crabmeat and all remaining ingredients. Simmer 2 minutes until heated through.
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Dungeness Crab Cakes w/ Black Pepper-Lemon Aioli

2 lbs. Fresh Dungeness crabmeat
½ red bell pepper, diced small
½ yellow bell pepper, diced small
2 celery stalks, diced small
6 eggs
1½-2½ c. bread crumbs
2 c. Panko bread crumbs
3 T. Italian parsley, chopped
1 lemon zest
Kosher salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
2 c. all-purpose flour

Squeeze excess water from crab meat; set aside in a colander to drain.
Sauté red and yellow bell peppers. Sauté onion and celery separately from bell peppers; let cool.
Chop parsley and zest the lemon; set aside.
In a medium bowl mix crabmeat, all vegetables, one egg, regular bread crumbs, parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste.
Form crab into 1 oz. balls. If the balls don't stay together, if add more bread crumbs.
Put 3 bowls in a row: one with whisked eggs, the second with flour, the third, with panko crumbs.
Put crabcake ball first in flour, then egg, and finally the panko crumbs and set each crabcake aside until all have been breaded. In canola oil heated to 375˚, deep fry crabcakes for 2-3 minutes.

Black Pepper-Lemon Aioli
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 lemon zest
2 lemons, juiced
3 c. canola oil
Kosher salt, black pepper to taste

Combine egg yolk, whole egg, lemon zest in a food processor and start machine.
Very slowly drizzle canola oil into food processor until egg becomes thick.
Stop processor and add lemon juice, salt and pepper; pulse until combined well.
Serve a dollop on crabcakes.

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We launched our first version of the Google personalized homepage in May. It started as a project on Google Labs in response to numerous requests from people who wanted to add at-a-glance info by the Google search box. Today we're thrilled to "graduate" from Labs and add a Personalized Home link on the Google homepage. Though we realize that many love the vanilla Google, there are those who might want to add a few sprinkles.

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Every day millions of bloggers use the web to express themselves - sometimes to just a few friends, sometimes to a worldwide audience. We wanted to create a better way to allow people to find out what's being written in blogs, as it's being created.

Today we are launching Blog Search - the easiest way to search for blog content. Blog Search includes content from blogs all over the web (in other words, not just from our own service, Blogger). And we're continuously adding new content, very nearly in real time. That way you can find commentary on breaking news as it's being created by millions of individuals. Or get the latest take on the premiere of a new TV show.

No matter what you care about, there is likely someone writing a blog post on it right now. With Blog Search you can find out what folks are saying about what's interesting to you. For example, I wonder what people are saying about Blog Search.

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A Washington state judge ruled today that Dr. Kai-Fu Lee can immediately begin working for Google. (There's a profile of Dr. Lee in today's San Francisco Chronicle.) We're thrilled, and he's excited to get right to work on several big things, including recruiting, building our Chinese R&D center, and related government relations.

You may remember that in July, right after we hired Dr. Lee to build and head our new China R&D center, Microsoft sued both of us. They argued that Dr. Lee was going to do work at Google that was competitive with what he had been doing at Microsoft - which they said would violate the one-year non-compete agreement that Microsoft requires employees to sign. (They sued even before knowing what Dr. Lee was going to be doing here. Hmmm...) At first, the judge in the case decided temporarily to limit what work Dr. Lee could do at Google until he learned more about the dispute.

But after listening to evidence at a two-day hearing last week and reviewing various documents and court briefs, the judge decided today in his ruling on Microsoft's request for a preliminary injunction to allow Dr. Lee to work on a much broader range of things for Google. There are some restrictions, but the ruling basically allows Dr. Lee to do what we've wanted him to be able to do. The judge said that Microsoft had "not sufficiently shown that it has a clear legal or equitable right to enjoin Dr. Lee, pending trial, from Establishing and Staffing a Google Development Facility Center." A trial is still set for January to get a final decision.

And we filed suit against Microsoft in California to stop them from enforcing a Washington state non-compete against an employee who wants to work for us in California and China. The first court hearing on that will be Oct. 14.

A lot of legal process, but the bottom line is Dr. Lee is going to get busy. Chinese speakers note: Dr. Lee has a website, and there's also a blog about this case.

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We've launched two new search features designed specifically for finding information about the hurricane's aftermath more quickly. With the ongoing help of the American Red Cross, Microsoft, Yahoo and many other organizations, we've indexed a large number of public Katrina databases, including KatrinaSafe.com.

The new Katrina People Search helps people to search across all of these databases at once to find information on friends or family who may have been affected by the hurricane.

We also built a special search index that only returns results from Katrina-related web pages, so you can search on any keyword and know all the results will be relevant.

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The Google mailbag is filled with stories like this one, demonstrating the reach of Google across countries and between people. Occasionally we'll feature such a story here. If you have a noteworthy tale about how you've used Google, write to us.

Howard and Melissa of Boca Raton, Florida, were the happy new parents of twins, a boy and a girl named Andrew and Carly. Though they were preemies born in mid-July, both babies were safely home two weeks later. "Then suddenly," Howard wrote to us, "Andrew had to be admitted to the ER. We thought it was for something little - but the doctors discovered something major." The doctors observed that his hemoglobin levels had dropped substantially - from 14 to 7 - since he was born. (Carly was not tested.)

"Since hemoglobin is what takes oxygen to the brain," continues Howard, "the doctors wanted to do an emergency blood transfusion - and time was of the essence." But to the dismay of the parents, the doctors said the cord blood they had conscientiously saved would not help: They would need to use a stranger's blood, since there was no time to process theirs.

"We were shaken and quite upset," Howard recalls. "Armed with only a cell phone - and a very low battery - I was able to Google [hemoglobin "premature infant"] and found a medical journal article claiming that it's perfectly normal for preemies to have their hemoglobin levels drop to 7 between the first and third months of life, and apparently this is especially true with twins." He showed the mobile screen citing this fact to the neonatalogists, who went off to research the issue for a couple of hours. They returned, says Howard, "and sheepishly admitted that our son was indeed fine - no treatment was necessary."

Howard concludes, "Google literally saved our newborn son from having to endure an extremely dangerous, and totally unnecessary, blood transfusion. Melissa and I really appreciated your help with this one." And as you see, Andrew and Carly are both in good form now:













We can only add that we're thrilled to have played a role in the family's health and well-being.

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As some clever users have already discovered, the Gmail Notifier for Mac OS X we launched last week can do a little bit more than meets the eye. A couple interesting features:

1. Fetch mail for only one Gmail Label
This is very useful if you only want to be "notified" about certain emails. For example, to only fetch mail with the label "ImportantStuff", run the following command from the Terminal:

defaults write com.google.GmailNotifier Label -string "ImportantStuff"

2. Extend the Notifier using plugins
The Gmail Notifier supports plugins written in AppleScript, or full-blown Cocoa Bundles in Objective-C. Details about the Objective-C plugin API can be found inside the Gmail Notifier application bundle in the required header file, GGPluginProtocol.h (control+click Gmail Notifier.app -> Show Package Contents -> Contents -> Headers).

AppleScript plugins are written by simply implementing a handler like:

on NewMessagesReceived(messages, fullCount)
-- Your code goes here...
end NewMessagesReceived

To install, simply copy the script (plugin) to Library/Application Support/Gmail Notifier (create the directory if it doesn't exist), and restart the Gmail Notifier. An example of a great plugin for the Gmail Notifier for MacOS X is the Gmail+Growl plugin, which sends Growl notifications when new mail arrives.

Our thanks to those of you who have already written cool plugins. We look forward to many more!

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The news is out that I will join Google on October 3 as Chief Internet Evangelist (I tried for Archduke, but it didn’t work). What I really like about Eric, Larry, Sergey and the whole Google family is its collective and eminent practicality and seemingly boundless creativity. In fact, my recent interactions with many of Google's senior staff have simply underscored my admiration for the extraordinary talent at Google that has been assembled in a short amount of time. Google has come so far since the early days!

Among other things, I am committed to the vision of Google’s criticality to the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people. The public Internet and the growing cadre of corporate virtual private networks are already enablers of Google applications. As information pours into the Internet from all sides, Google tools will become, if they are not already, indispensable.

I appreciate deeply the opportunity to become part of the Google family and to do what I can to contribute to its future.

See you on the ‘Net!

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As someone who prides himself on being a reliable source of useless trivia, I tend to search for pretty obscure stuff. A lot of times, the pages I find have more text than I want to wade through. Using the Google Toolbar, though, it's pretty easy to see what I'm looking for. My search terms show up as clickable Word Find buttons in the Toolbar, so I can quickly find where they appear on the page (clicking on it repeatedly takes me to each instance). This came in handy when I needed to figure out what species made a jumping bean hop around.










Try it out yourself.

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Satellite imagery of New Orleans taken on Wednesday, August 31st is now available on Google Maps.

Enter “New Orleans” in the search field at the top of the page, or drag and zoom the map to the area. A red "Katrina" button will appear at the top right of the map, next to the existing map buttons. Older images for the area are still available too - click the "Satellite" button to switch to those.

API developers can also access this new imagery, which should aid the development of hurricane relief sites. Find more details at the Google Maps API discussion group.

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A natural disaster brings out the need for up-to-the-minute maps and images, and Google Earth community members have created more than 100 overlays in the last 24 hours that tell the story of Hurricane Katrina's effect. These overlays drape on top of existing satellite images, and NOAA has been posting these flyovers so people can actually see the incredible devastation.

If you don't already have Google Earth, download it to see some of the overlays that illustrate the change from previous images to the way things are now. Click on any of the overlays, which will open the application.

Here's an aerial "before" image of the Superdome area.



When you're in Google Earth, use the slider function at the bottom of your Places on the lefthand side (shown in this screen grab) to move the image from the left (before) to the right (after). More viewing and navigating help is here.



When you use the slider, much of what was light before is now dark -- with water.



We hope you'll find all the images useful. Please note you'll need a good video graphics card to handle the graphics.

UPDATED: Clarification on seeing the Google Earth images.

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I'm a Mac user. Most of my friends are Mac users. After a little coaxing, most of my family are now Mac users. So I decided to spend 20% of my time here on a small application that may help all of the Mac users in my life: a Gmail Notifier for Mac OS X.

The app is small and nonintrusive, but hopefully still has all the features a Mac user would want. With it you can:

- view messages without opening a browser
- open Gmail in your browser without forcing you to log in again
- make Gmail your default email program
- even more...

Though this is the first, it won't be the last native Mac application that Google delivers. So please, Mac users, stay tuned!