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On Wednesday, April 30th, 2003, I was swimming towards the shore as fast as I could paddle my surfboard. I was in the ocean near Todos Santos, Mexico; a storm had come up, the waves were crashing huge, the wind was blowing like crazy, and I realized I'd gotten in rather over my head.

On Wednesday, May 7th, 2003, I was standing in a room filled floor-to-ceiling with more computers than I'd ever seen in my life. My fingers were shaking as I played surgeon to a webserver, pushing tiny jumpers onto pins on the motherboard, cold blasts of air conditioning whipping my hair into my face like some tense scene from an Arctic action movie, and once again it occurred to me that I had quite possibly gotten in over my head.

How I went from being a recent college grad on a travel kick to a Google datacenter technician in one week is a whirlwind (and windblown) story. I'd seen the job posting a few days before I left for Mexico, but I figured it was a long shot; I had the skills, but didn't have much work experience.

So I sent Google a love letter. I told them that yes, I could fix computers, and yes, I'd been running Linux at home for two years. And I told them the truth: they'd get a hundred job seekers with those skills, but I had something those applicants didn't: a Google T-shirt.

I talked about how I didn't normally wear the logos of companies I had no affiliation with, but that I wore my Google shirt with pride, because I admired Google so much -- they were smart, they treated people well (users and employees alike), and they made good products. But beyond that, I could tell Google was special, that all that innovation was going to lead to something extraordinary. And I wanted to be part of it. Also, I wanted another T-shirt.

I got both. After I staggered up onto the beach that first Wednesday, I went into town in search of Internet access and, in a net cafe with a thatched roof and a 56k modem connection, found waiting for me an email from a Google recruiter who had plucked my application from a pool of dozens because of my T-shirt-themed cover letter. On Thursday I flew back to the U.S. On Friday I had a phone screen. On Monday I endured three hours of onsite interviews. And on Tuesday, the recruiter called back and said, "Welcome to Google. Can you start tomorrow?"

I survived the surf at Todos Santos, and I managed to get through my first day in the Googleplex without crashing that datacenter. And the message I have for all my recent college grad peers is simple: Don't underestimate the power of your favorite T-shirt, and don't neglect your email while on vacation. Either one may hold the key to your future.

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The rainy season and short days are back in full swing in the Pacific Northwest and the Google Talk team, based here in Kirkland, Washington, has been making the best use of all this time indoors. Thanks to their hard work, there are a lot of exciting things in store for Google Talk in the coming months, and we thought the best way to tell you about them was to create a blog (powered by Blogger, of course!). We'll keep you posted on new features, happenings in the community, and progress toward our goal of enabling customer choice in Internet communications through open standards and interoperability. From time to time we might even tell you about some of our favorite Seattle hangouts and traditions, too.

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Last week Google opened our new office in the Victoria area of London, and to mark the occasion we invited students from nearby schools to create their own Google Doodles from our logo. My fellow judges and I were basically considering three qualities: the originality of the doodle idea or topic; integration of the design with the Google logo; and sheer creativity. We received hundreds of entries with all sorts of themes, ranging from serious topics like the Asian tsunami and the Battle of Trafalgar to an entire logo transformed into a bunch of eyes staring at each other. In the end, we chose these five finalists. And our winner, which graced our U.K. home page for a full day, was this charming doodle from 11-year-old Lisa Waiwaina:









In the end, I was simply blown away by the amazing quality of the work, especially from younger artists up to around age 11 (the bunnies drawn by 5-year-olds were simply awesome). It was a good reminder that staying in touch with one’s inner child can be a key to creativity. Now, back to my secret agenda of searching for a young apprentice...

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There's bravery, and then there's hitting the mall the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday. Which is one reason we just launched a feature on Froogle that helps you to shop locally -- and that in turn might help you through the upcoming shopping ordeal(s). Now you can search over the product inventory of brick & mortar stores in your neighborhood to compare online deals and local sales all at the same time. Instead of wandering aimlessly through crowded malls looking for that elusive perfect gift (not to mention a parking spot), just find it on Froogle, call the store to reserve it and go pick it up.

Froogle local shopping is also useful for finding items that you want to try before you buy (clothing), or where shipping is expensive (heavy things like sofas or cars). Just add a location to your Froogle query and we'll look for products in your area.

Right now we have local content from hundreds of merchants across the U.S., but we encourage any merchant with a website to upload their own inventory (did we mention that it's free?) via Google Base. Get started by going to www.google.com/sellonfroogle.

Besides finding stuff closer to home, Froogle now offers more options for refining your searches, including brand names and related search suggestions. If you search for [home theater system], we suggest brands like Bose and Kenwood, as well as queries that will help narrow your results, like [wireless home theater system].

Hope you find these features useful during this holiday shopping season. And have a happy Turkey Day!

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There have been reports that Google plans to unwire the world with free Wi-Fi. In fact, though, our plan is a lot simpler: to provide free Wi-Fi to the city of Mountain View, where we're headquartered. Inside Google, people think this is a plot to make sure our Mountain View employees never stop working -- but it's actually a community outreach program.

To this end, I am proud to be working with the City Council, the city librarian, the police department, numerous neighborhood associations, both of the school superintendents, and (of course) the bookmobile driver. And huge thanks in particular to Ellis Burns at the City of Mountain View.

We plan to build something exciting here now that the city has approved our proposal. As I wrote in my letter to the City Council, wireless broadband has huge potential to provide inexpensive access to the Internet. Instead of trenching fiber, wireless broadband requires a bucket truck, a lamppost, and 5 minutes of installation. So look for me in a bucket truck soon!

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We've just launched two different editions of Google News: one for Brazil and one for Portugal. Google News gathers stories from more than 200 news sources in Portuguese worldwide, and automatically arranges them to present the most relevant news first. We're very pleased to be able to help Brazilian and Portuguese readers stay informed about the issues that matter most to them. Read more (in Portuguese) about this launch.

For a group of Google Engineers, it's especially exciting, because in July, we opened an engineering office in Brazil. These Google News Portuguese editions are the first launches our team in Belo Horizonte has participated in. Here's to many more!

Of course, Google News Brazil and Google News Portugal are small steps towards our mission. You can help by sending your feedback, thoughts and ideas. Divirta-se!

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What's in a name? Quite a bit, actually; what you call yourself says a lot about what you think you are. And we've been thinking lately that Google Print should really be called Google Book Search.

Why the change? Well, one factor was all the comments we got about how excited people were that Google Print would help them print out their documents, or web pages they visit -- which of course it won't.

More important, the change reflects our product's evolution. When we launched Google Print, our goal was to make it easier for users to discover books. Now that we're starting to achieve that, we think a more descriptive name will help clarify what our users can do with it: namely, search the full text of books to find ones that interest them and learn where to buy or borrow them.

No, we don't think that this new name will change what some folks think about this program. But we do believe it will help a lot of people understand better what we're doing. We want to make all the world's books discoverable and searchable online, and we hope this new name will help keep everyone focused on that important goal.

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We launched Google Sitemaps this past summer as a way for webmasters to give us information we could use to better crawl their sites. Since then, we've been adding to the kinds of information we give back. In our latest release, we provide even more interesting statistics that webmasters can use to improve the way their pages work with web crawlers, which will ultimately benefit their visitors.

I think the most fun are the new "query stats" -- they show top Google search queries that return pages from a site, as well as the top search queries that led users to click on a site. We've also enhanced the crawl errors we show, like specific HTTP errors Google runs into when crawling a page.

If you're a webmaster and you haven't used the Sitemaps program yet, you can now create a Sitemaps account and add a site to it even before you create a Sitemap. Once you verify ownership of the site, we'll show you all of these statistics and error details. You can always add a Sitemap later. Read more on the Sitemaps blog or just log in to get going.

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Today we're excited to announce Google Base, an extension of our existing content collection efforts like web crawl, Google Sitemaps, Google Print and Google Video. Google Base enables content owners to easily make their information searchable online. Anyone, from large companies to website owners and individuals, can use it to submit their content in the form of data items. We'll host the items and make them searchable for free. There's more info here.

Some organizations are already using Google Base. Here are a few examples.
  • "Students need as much information as possible when they are searching for the right college or university. Google Base helps us reach students and parents and deliver more of the information they need when making important college decisions." - Hal Higginbotham, President, CollegeBoard.com
  • "We want to use knowledge and information about the environment to help motivate more responsible public and private action. With Google Base, we can bring the public key insights on sustainability issues – like climate change, human health, and resource consumption – and bring about change." – Amy Cassara, Senior Associate, World Resources Institute
  • "CareerBuilder.com's business model is built on providing employers with as many avenues as possible to connect with job seekers. Feeding our jobs to Google Base further extends our distribution network, providing employers with added support in marketing their open positions." - Richard Castellini, VP of Consumer Marketing, CareerBuilder.com
  • "We compile an enormous amount of valuable data on fine art and artists, and we want collectors, dealers, students and art aficionados to have easy access to this information. Google Base enables us to reach more people researching art and get them the information they need." - Brent Peich, Director of Marketing, Artnet
  • "Our mission is to make it easy for small businesses to use the web to drive in-store sales. Google Base gives us an ideal outlet to promote and distribute content about local products more broadly." - Kendall Fargo, Founder & CEO, StepUp Commerce
Right now, there are two ways to submit data items to Google Base. Individuals and small website owners can use an interactive user interface; larger organizations and sites can use the bulk uploads option to send us content using standard XML formats.

Rather than impose specific schemas and structures on the world, Google Base suggests attributes and item types based on popularity, which you can use to define and attach your own labels and attributes to each data item. Then searchers can find information more quickly and effectively by using these labels and attributes to refine their queries on the experimental version of Google Base search.

This beta version of Google Base is another small step toward our goal, creating an online database of easily searchable, structured information. As always, we welcome your feedback and ideas.

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Underneath a cell tower nearby
SMS I decided to try:
[t to french grant a loan], [6 shekels in kroon]
Now a polyglot banker am I.*

*This limerick was inspired by Google SMS, and its new translation and currency conversion features. And if you're wondering, as I was: kroon is pronounced "krone."

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Analytics” is a sturdy business catchword, and of course “web analytics” has become its own buzz-phrase in recent years. The tools and services of the web analytics world give businesses precise information on what customers want, so that they can improve their online marketing and website content. These services help provide answers to questions like: Which keywords attract the most visitors? Which email campaigns create more customers? And how to design web page content that holds people’s attention?

We think every online business can benefit from knowing the answers, so today we’re launching Google Analytics. The same service (which used to be called Urchin from Google) used by dozens of Fortune 500 companies is now available to every business on the web. We’ve integrated it with AdWords, it’s easier to use – and it’s free. We hope that Google Analytics will help improve the overall web – one site at a time.

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At a technology company you might think no one's around for a morning meal, but that's not so here in Mountain View. The cafe I run on campus is open for breakfast from 8-9:30 a.m. five days a week. My team of 12 feeds a steady crowd of about 750 every morning -- and these folks are big on breakfast. Our record so far is making 201 (custom) omelets in 90 minutes. We blend 300 12 oz. fruit smoothies that typically disappear in an hour. Some other stats from the front lines (all of these are per-day numbers, by the way):

- Googlers prefer Canadian bacon (45 lbs.) to chicken-apple sausage (30 lbs.)
- Steel-cut oatmeal (10-12 gallons) wins out over organic grits (6-8 gallons)
- We polish off 5 cases of fresh fruit (cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple)
- Devour 160 breakfast burritos (eggs, veggies, cheese)
- We cook 80-100 lbs. of red bliss potatoes
- We use 2 gallons of egg whites (for the omelets)
- Googlers gulp down 9 gallons of fresh coffee every morning (just in our cafe)

My biggest surprises: people consume 1-1/2 gallons of kombucha tea - a little-known fermented drink - every day; and against all logic, some people ask for an omelet that's half egg whites, half regular eggs. What can I say? We aim to please.





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Congress is holding a hearing tomorrow, Wednesday, November 8th, on "network neutrality" and a big new telecommunications bill affecting the Internet. Vint Cerf, our net neutrality guru, was unable to testify because of a little awards ceremony at the White House (congratulations, Vint!), but here is his letter to the Hill outlining our concerns. Microsoft will be testifying for our side, demonstrating that inside the Beltway, we agree on a lot.

You can follow the proceedings here -- and we hope you do. This bill could fundamentally alter the fabulously successful end-to-end Internet.


November 8, 2005

The Honorable Joe Barton
Chairman
Committee on Energy and Commerce
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable John D. Dingell
Ranking Member
Committee on Energy and Commerce
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Barton and Ranking Member Dingell,

I appreciate the inquiries by your staff about my availability to appear before the Committee and to share Google’s views about draft telecommunications legislation and the issues related to "network neutrality." These are matters of great importance to the Internet and Google welcomes the Committee’s hard work and attention. The hearing unfortunately conflicts with another obligation, and I am sorry I will not be able to attend. (Along with my colleague Robert Kahn, I am honored to be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday at the White House for our work in creating the Internet protocol TCP/IP.)

Despite my inability to participate in the planned hearing in person, I hope that you will accept some brief observations about this legislation.

The remarkable social impact and economic success of the Internet is in many ways directly attributable to the architectural characteristics that were part of its design. The Internet was designed with no gatekeepers over new content or services. The Internet is based on a layered, end-to-end model that allows people at each level of the network to innovate free of any central control. By placing intelligence at the edges rather than control in the middle of the network, the Internet has created a platform for innovation. This has led to an explosion of offerings – from VOIP to 802.11x wi-fi to blogging – that might never have evolved had central control of the network been required by design.

My fear is that, as written, this bill would do great damage to the Internet as we know it. Enshrining a rule that broadly permits network operators to discriminate in favor of certain kinds of services and to potentially interfere with others would place broadband operators in control of online activity. Allowing broadband providers to segment their IP offerings and reserve huge amounts of bandwidth for their own services will not give consumers the broadband Internet our country and economy need. Many people will have little or no choice among broadband operators for the foreseeable future, implying that such operators will have the power to exercise a great deal of control over any applications placed on the network.

As we move to a broadband environment and eliminate century-old non-discrimination requirements, a lightweight but enforceable neutrality rule is needed to ensure that the Internet continues to thrive. Telephone companies cannot tell consumers who they can call; network operators should not dictate what people can do online.

I am confident that we can build a broadband system that allows users to decide what websites they want to see and what applications they want to use – and that also guarantees high quality service and network security. That network model has and can continue to provide economic benefits to innovators and consumers -- and to the broadband operators who will reap the rewards for providing access to such a valued network.

We appreciate the efforts in your current draft to create at least a starting point for net neutrality principles. Google looks forward to working with you and your staff to draft a bill that will maintain the revolutionary potential of the broadband Internet.

Thank you for your attention and for your efforts on these important issues.

Sincerely,

Vinton Cerf
Chief Internet Evangelist
Google Inc.

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We’re hearing a fair number of stories from customers using our enterprise search products about how pleased their users are when they replace another search engine with a Google Search Appliance or a Google Mini. Customers like National Semiconductor, which saw search volume increase by 8-10x, and the National Park Service, where website complaints declined by a factor of 20.

These good results have inspired us to launch a search replacement program: any company that replaces their legacy search engine with a Google Search Appliance will receive a free Google Mini. Read more at www.google.com/switch.

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You know that saying, "Wherever you go, there you are"? Now it makes sense to me, thanks to the new Google Local for mobile. In fact, it inspired me to write this song. Enjoy, and happy trails. (You'll need Macromedia's Flash Player to hear it.)



You can also save the music file to your computer. (Right-click in Windows, or control-click on a Mac, and save.)

Get lost and found on your phone.

Walkin' 'round a new town,
looking for a way around.
Askin' locals for their thoughts
'bout nearby Chinese restaurants...
they tell you to get lost --
get lost and found on your phone.

Take Google Local on the go,
get listings, maps and aerial views.
Call directly from your search results
and even keep search history too.
Download from Google today.

Wrestlin' with a paper map,
tryin' to figure out just where you're at,
how to get from point A to point B,
better leave the directions to J2ME.
So you can get lost --
get lost and found on your phone.

Zoom in, zoom out,
drag maps up down left right and you'll see...
where you want to go on your mobile phone,
in lucid satellite imagery.
Download from Google today.

Place Google Local in your hand --
first, you need a data plan.
Your phone must handle Java too.
It helps if it is somewhat new.
To download, here is what you do:

Browse Google dot com slash g-l-m on your desktop.
Tell us 'bout your phone,
and we'll show you a link to the file in a blink
and you're ready to start...

Gettin' lost on your phone.
Get lost and found on your phone.
Download from Google today.
Get lost and found on your phone...

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The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award given in the United States, and our own Vint Cerf has been recognized with this honor. He and Robert Kahn will be recognized in a White House ceremony next Wednesday.

Together, Vint and Bob designed the architecture and protocols 30+ years ago that are used today to implement and operate the Internet. The White House statement puts it succinctly: "Dr. Cerf and Dr. Kahn have been at the forefront of a digital revolution that has transformed global commerce, communication, and entertainment."

Vint and Bob join an impressive list of winners, including Alan Greenspan, Muhammad Ali, Aretha Franklin, Frank Robinson and Paul Rusesabagina. The official release is here.

We couldn't be more pleased for this recognition Vint is receiving on behalf of the vast Internet community that has realized the aspirations that he and Bob had so long ago.

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We always get a bit misty-eyed when a youngster graduates, so today we're dabbing back a few tears for Google Desktop, which leaves beta status behind with several powerful new features under its belt.

Fans of Google Maps will want to check out Sidebar's new maps panel, which lets you do all the usual cool maps stuff -- local business info, directions, sightseeing -- plus a new one: finding new locations relevant to the web pages and emails you're reading and showing them in your maps panel.

Like this:
Geeks, meanwhile, are invited to pore over our script support for writing plug-ins, which makes it far easier to create home-brewed Sidebar panels. And Sidebar has a bunch of new third- party panels, most notably GDTunes, which cycles through your iTunes collection (and even shows album covers).

Finally, let me invite developers and anyone else who's interested to check out our new Google Desktop blog for the latest news and info.

We've worked hard raising Desktop over the past two years. It's great to see it growing up so nicely.

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The world's libraries are a tremendous source of knowledge, much of which has never been available online. One of our goals for Google Print is to change that, and today we've taken an exciting step toward meeting it: making available a number of public domain books that were never subject to copyright or whose copyright has expired. We can show every page because these books are in the public domain. (For books not in the public domain we only show small snippets of the work unless the publisher or copyright holder has given us permission to show more.)



Our partner libraries –- the University of Michigan, Stanford, Harvard, the New York Public Library, and Oxford –- have preserved and nurtured these books through decades of wear and tear, and we're excited to play a part in ensuring that they, and the knowledge they contain, will be more accessible than ever for decades to come.

Every page of these books is fully available online, so you can study, for instance, an illustrated version of Henry James' Daisy Miller (the opening illustration on page one is pictured here) from Harvard's Henry James collection, or read how Private Joseph Taylor got his medal of honor in style, in The Seventh Regiment Rhode Island Volunteers in the Civil War, 1862-1865, from the University of Michigan.

And since every word is searchable, as you are browsing The Wealth and Biography of the Wealthy Citizens of the City of New York -- from the New York Public Library's collection -- you can find that there were more grocers than bankers listed in 1855.

From Stanford's collection, there are government documents detailing what the Fiftieth U.S. Congress spent money on in 1888, or the results of investigations into the fur-seal and other fisheries in Alaska.

See for yourself what some of these libraries have -- using the date operator, and searching for the phrase [steam engine], you'll find different results in books no longer under copyright in the U.S. and books in the public domain internationally. And all that you can find today is still just a small taste -- call it part 1 -- of what you'll be able to find tomorrow, as Google Print helps users discover, search and access the world's rich literary history in ways that were previously impossible.

p.s. If you're interested in other projects that make public domain books available, check out the Million Book Project's The Universal Library in the U.S. and in China, and their Digital Library of India as well as Project Gutenberg's public domain catalog of books.

Updated with p.s.

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I've been working on the personalized homepage from Victoria, B.C., and I've never been psyched to have to sign in to the U.S. version every morning. While Seattle's pretty close, I'd prefer to have the actual weather for Victoria -- and have it in Celsius. Now I can, because today we expanded the personalized homepage to 16 new regions: Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, UK, and ahem, Canada.

Now I can enjoy my morning Timbits with a Google homepage -- Canadian-style.

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It's official: flu season -- in the northern hemisphere, where flu hits between October to May -- has begun. (In the southern hemisphere, of course, it's the other half of the year, and in the tropics, one can catch the flu year-round.) Today I'll focus on the northern hemisphere, but the same ideas apply at different times in other locales.

Please note that this is general information, and not a substitute for medical advice; contact your own doctor with questions about your health.

The sources for the information below are: Medical Letter, Up To Date, the NIH's MedLine Plus, the Centers for Disease Control, and Lung USA.

Who should get a flu shot?
Generally, those wanting to reduce their chance of getting sick. It's especially recommended for the following high-risk groups:

- People aged 50 and older
- Women who are or will be pregnant during the flu season
- Adults and children 6 months and older with chronic heart, or lung conditions including asthma, metabolic diseases such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or weakened immune system such as with HIV or with medications, and any kind of brain or spinal cord disorders
- Children 6 months to 18 years who are on long term aspirin therapy
- All children 6-23 months of age
- All the contacts of people in these high-risk groups

Other than your doctor's office, try Flu Clinic Locator to see where you might be able to get a shot.

Who shouldn't get one?
- People with severe allergy to eggs
- People who currently have a fever
- Children less than 6 months old
- People who have had Guillane Barre syndrome (a paralytic condition) within 6 weeks of getting a flu shot in the past

When's best to get one?
It's optimal to get a shot in October or November (especially for the high-risk groups noted above), but you can also benefit in December or later.

Types of vaccines
- A flu shot, made from an inactivated vaccine, which contrary to popular belief cannot give you the flu.
- A flu nasal spray, an attenuated live vaccine. Because this can at least theoretically cause transmission, it should only be given to healthy people ages 5-49 who are not pregnant, not healthcare workers, or contacts of anyone who is immuno-suppressed.

Effectiveness

Within about 2 weeks, the shot is fully effective, and usually the effect lasts for 6 months or longer. A protection rate of 50-80 percent is the norm.

Recognizable flu symptoms
These are usually more severe than cold symptoms, and include sudden onset of high fever (101 or higher), severe muscle aches, headache, cough, sore throat, and a general miserable feeling. Symptoms may last 2-7 days, but if complications such as pnuemonia occur, the course may be longer.

How to treat the flu
Treatment is mainly designed to reduce the symptoms with
- rest
- fluids
- acetominophen (like Tylenol) -- not aspirin, especially in those under 18, to avoid Reyes Syndrome, which is a serious neurological disease
- antiviral medications (most effective if started within the first 2 days of onset of symptoms)

Unless there is a secondary complication (e.g. ear infection, sinusitis), antibiotics are not typically prescribed. And the jury is out on alternatives such as Vitamin C or herbal products. (Recently, echinacea was shown to be ineffective for cold treatment.)

Here's hoping you can stay healthy this winter!