Tuesday, January 31, 2006

No Nieuws is bad news

Last week, we launched 10 new versions of Google News. Now, Google Nieuws is available in Dutch for the Netherlands, and furthermore, news readers in Belgium can get country-specific news in either Dutch or French. We also released English-language versions of Google News with news targeted for Ireland and South Africa, and Spanish-language versions of Google News were released for Colombia, Cuba, Peru, Venezuela, and the U.S.

We're proud of each new country, language, and feature we release, and Dutch engineers on the Google News team have been especially motivated by this launch: now we in Zurich and in Mountain View can finally keep up via Google News with what's happening at home. Even more important, since we're sworn to secrecy during much of pre-launch product development, we're relieved that we now can answer when friends and family ask what it is we actually work on.

Monday, January 30, 2006

TechnoServe comes to Google

The Google Foundation supports select organizations whose work addresses the challenge of global poverty in ways that are effective, sustainable, and scalable. From time to time we invite guest bloggers from grantee organizations to tell their story.

TechnoServe helps entrepreneurs in developing countries build successful small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that benefit the world’s poor. (Watch our video here.) We provide a hand up, rather than a handout.

Recently, I spent several hours with Googlers who wanted to know more about what TechnoServe is doing in West Africa. I couldn’t help but notice the great, positive energy among Google employees -- a sense that motivated, imaginative, smart people can change the world.

TechnoServe’s engagement with Google involves using business to improve the lives of the world’s poor. SMEs are a major driver of sustained economic growth, creating a ripple effect that creates jobs, boosts incomes and leads to improved social services. But even though they can help reduce poverty, SMEs are precisely what the developing world lacks. These countries are home to many visionary entrepreneurs who are capable of launching and growing successful businesses. But they need help – to make sure their business ideas make sense, to plan and manage their enterprises, to find markets and financing, and to overcome technical challenges.

That’s where TechnoServe comes in. Since its founding, we have helped to create or improve more than 1,200 businesses, benefiting millions of people in 23 countries. We identify entrepreneurial men and women and then guide them in planning, marketing, operating and expanding businesses that are likely to succeed and help the poor. We then leverage these lead entrepreneurs to replicate and/or scale up their businesses and grow competitive, self-sustaining industries. Where necessary, we also tackle constraints in the industries’ enabling environments.

To complement all of this, we also run programs that promote a culture of entrepreneurship. One activity is business plan competitions, which help entrepreneurs turn good ideas into solid businesses. We have run these in Latin America and are now launching them in Africa. And that’s where the Google Foundation comes in: it’s helping us run a business plan competition in Ghana this year. All qualified entrants will come away with valuable business training. The winners will also receive vouchers for aftercare services to help them launch or expand their businesses, and 10 winners will also receive cash.

We’re looking forward to having Googlers actively engaged in this project. Our two entrepreneurially-focused organizations have joined forces, which we believe will lead to sustainable solutions for poverty alleviation.

All buttoned up

As the Google Toolbar has gotten more popular, the greatest source of ideas about new features has come from our users. The breadth and variety of these requests is so large that it's hard to satisfy everyone. But then we started noticing engineers on the team had cool hacks on their Toolbars for doing customized searches on our internal bugs database, corporate employee directory, etc... We were barely done asking ourselves whether it was possible to offer this capability in the new Google Toolbar beta when one of the engineers started designing a feature called Custom Buttons. Here are some of the coolest aspects of Custom Buttons and why I think they're a big deal:

1) Simple API: The term API is almost a misnomer -- it literally takes seconds to make one of these. I just can't resist the urge to make a new one every time I run into new website. A couple of simple steps and voila - a new button's sitting on your Toolbar (check out the Getting Started Guide).

2) Flexibility: The simple inclusion of RSS & Atom feeds (and particularly allowing the update of toolbar button icons through feeds) has allowed for buttons like a weather button and a mood ring button.

3) Accessibility: Most users don't even need to make buttons. It takes one click on our buttons gallery or on a website that offers them to install a button for your favorite sites. And the custom buttons we built to search our intranet showed us how valuable a customizable toolbar can be to organizations, so now there's an enterprise version of Google Toolbar that can be securely deployed across a company.

And don't miss some of the other cool features for everyone: a greatly-improved search box for formulating better queries; a streamlined bookmarking interface; and Send-To, for posting or sending content via Gmail, Blogger or SMS.

Picasa x 25

You love taking photos. You love your photo collection on your computer. But your options have been limited if there's no easy-to-use photo software available in your language. So if you lived close to Wieliczka, Pulau Seribu or Wat Phra Kaeo, you were stuck with English-only.

But no more! The team behind Picasa has now added 25 new interface languages: Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Estonian, Finnish, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Tagalog, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Catalan, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.

All of these languages are one click away. Just download Picasa, and it will automatically match your system's native language. If you wish to change your Picasa language, go to Tools > Options and use the pull-down menu on the "General" tab. (You'll need to close and re-open Picasa to see your new language selection take effect.)

Shouldn't you be able to organize your photos no matter where you are and what language you speak? Of course.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Google in China

Google users in China today struggle with a service that, to be blunt, isn't very good. Google.com appears to be down around 10% of the time. Even when users can reach it, the website is slow, and sometimes produces results that when clicked on, stall out the user's browser. Our Google News service is never available; Google Images is accessible only half the time. At Google we work hard to create a great experience for our users, and the level of service we've been able to provide in China is not something we're proud of.

This problem could only be resolved by creating a local presence, and this week we did so, by launching Google.cn, our website for the People's Republic of China. In order to do so, we have agreed to remove certain sensitive information from our search results. We know that many people are upset about this decision, and frankly, we understand their point of view. This wasn't an easy choice, but in the end, we believe the course of action we've chosen will prove to be the right one.

Launching a Google domain that restricts information in any way isn't a step we took lightly. For several years, we've debated whether entering the Chinese market at this point in history could be consistent with our mission and values. Our executives have spent a lot of time in recent months talking with many people, ranging from those who applaud the Chinese government for its embrace of a market economy and its lifting of 400 million people out of poverty to those who disagree with many of the Chinese government's policies, but who wish the best for China and its people. We ultimately reached our decision by asking ourselves which course would most effectively further Google's mission to organize the world's information and make it universally useful and accessible. Or, put simply: how can we provide the greatest access to information to the greatest number of people?

Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission. Failing to offer Google search at all to a fifth of the world's population, however, does so far more severely. Whether our critics agree with our decision or not, due to the severe quality problems faced by users trying to access Google.com from within China, this is precisely the choice we believe we faced. By launching Google.cn and making a major ongoing investment in people and infrastructure within China, we intend to change that.

No, we're not going to offer some Google products, such as Gmail or Blogger, on Google.cn until we're comfortable that we can do so in a manner that respects our users' interests in the privacy of their personal communications. And yes, Chinese regulations will require us to remove some sensitive information from our search results. When we do so, we'll disclose this to users, just as we already do in those rare instances where we alter results in order to comply with local laws in France, Germany and the U.S.

Obviously, the situation in China is far different than it is in those other countries; while China has made great strides in the past decades, it remains in many ways closed. We aren't happy about what we had to do this week, and we hope that over time everyone in the world will come to enjoy full access to information. But how is that full access most likely to be achieved? We are convinced that the Internet, and its continued development through the efforts of companies like Google, will effectively contribute to openness and prosperity in the world. Our continued engagement with China is the best (perhaps only) way for Google to help bring the tremendous benefits of universal information access to all our users there.

We're in this for the long haul. In the years to come, we'll be making significant and growing investments in China. Our launch of google.cn, though filtered, is a necessary first step toward achieving a productive presence in a rapidly changing country that will be one of the world's most important and dynamic for decades to come. To some people, a hard compromise may not feel as satisfying as a withdrawal on principle, but we believe it's the best way to work toward the results we all desire.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Watching NBA Games on Google Video

I first started following basketball during the era of Michael, Magic, and Larry, arguably three of the top 10 NBA players of all time. Two remarkable games a few days ago reminded me that while these three mega-stars may no longer step onto the hardwood, a new generation of players continues to make history and excitement for fans everywhere.

Last Sunday, with 81 points, Kobe Bryant led the Lakers to a 122-104 victory over Toronto. Eighty-one. That’s the second highest scoring total in NBA history, only behind Wilt’s famous 100 point game. Even Michael’s career high was only (only!) 69. It is so physically and mentally draining carrying such a heavy scoring load, especially when the opposing team is completely geared to stopping you. Despite this, Kobe still shot over 60 percent from the field, making 28 of 46 shots.

And the same night, in a game that was a throwback to the days when defense was light and scoring was high, the Sonics beat the Suns 152-149 in double overtime. (For comparison, the average number of points by other winning teams that night was only 101). Steve Nash, last season’s MVP (and the early front runner for MVP again), scored 28, had 16 assists and 8 rebounds. Ray Allen, despite a slow start, finished furiously, making 8 of 10 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and overtime.

When people say, “Wow, Kobe scored 81?” or “Nash went for 20+ points and 15+ assists… again!” – now you (and I!) can reply, “Yep – just caught it on Google Video.” So come watch the greatest players today play some of the greatest games ever.

Putting a stop to spyware

We're really excited to tell you about StopBadware.org, a new initiative aimed at combating the growing problem of spyware and other deceptive software. This project is led by Harvard’s Berkman Center and the Oxford Internet Institute to independently evaluate downloadable applications, publish objective information for consumers, and provide an easy web-based way for users to describe problems they've encountered. Consumer Reports WebWatch is serving as an unpaid advisor to the effort. Google, along with Sun Microsystems and Lenovo, are co-sponsors. Learn more here.

Monday, January 23, 2006

New year, new imagery

We're always trying to improve the imagery in Google Earth and Google Local, but our latest update is bigger than usual. Not only have we added extensive 6-inch imagery for many parts of the U.K., but we've updated the Google Local database to match the coverage we have in Google Earth, and (drum roll, please) ... we've added two more zoom levels in Google Local's Satellite mode! Now for many areas around the world you can see a lot more detail than you could before.

Take a look at people standing at the gates of Buckingham Palace in London, or jump over the pond and see the Statue of Liberty in New York, and then maybe drop down to the southern hemisphere and check out the boats sailing past the Sydney Opera House.

And now, News

We're taking Google News out of beta! When we launched the English-language edition in September 2002, we entered untested waters with a grand experiment in news browsing - using computers to organize the world's news in real time and providing a bird's eye view of what's being reported on virtually any topic. By presenting news "clusters" (related articles in a group), we thought it would encourage readers to get a broader perspective by digging deeper into the news -- reading ten articles instead of one, perhaps -- and then gain a better understanding of the issues, which could ultimately benefit society. A bit more than three years later, we offer 22 regional editions in 10 languages, and have a better sense of how people use Google News.

We've certainly gotten a lot of feedback from both readers and editors. For example, readers told us they loved the news clusters but they didn't want press releases on the home page (although they are still useful to have in the search results). A major area we wanted to address was personalization. We offered email alerts, as well as the ability for users to create a personalized page, but many users don't have the time to specify exactly what they want. So today we're adding a way to automatically recommend stories for users with Personalized Search.

Here's how it works: You can sign up for Personalized Search to view and manage your history of news searches and the articles you've read. When you're signed in to your Google Account, you'll receive recommended news stories based on the previous stories you've read. These recommendations will be highlighted just below the top news stories on the page, in a clearly marked section. You can also get a full page of recommended stories by clicking on the section. All of this is done automatically using algorithms. For example, we might recommend news stories to you that many other users have read, especially when you and they have read similar stories in the past. We've also added a section to show you the most popular stories in the Google News edition you are viewing (e.g., U.S.). Now you can see the top stories being published by editors across the web, as well as other stories popular with readers, plus topics that you track or are interested in -- all on one page.

Google News has matured a great deal, and we're proud to see it graduate from its beta status. Much remains to be done, and as always, we have many exciting ideas that we intend to take forward. Meanwhile, as the saying goes, if you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own. Or just keep reading Google News.

Friday, January 20, 2006

It's in the mail...

Our shipment of delete buttons finally came in! We're busy affixing them to the Gmail interface as we speak.

A resolution for well-being

From time to time, the resident physician at Google headquarters weighs in with her thoughts on healthy living. This is not medical advice, and you should check with your own doctor before pursuing any particular course of action.

How many of you resolved that in the New Year you'd start a cholesterol- or blood pressure-reducing medication, or perhaps plan to spend a few days in the coronary care unit? My guess is that not too many of you -- but you might end up needing this sort of help rather than staying resolute to intended lifestyle changes that reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Let's face it, it's tough to get motivated. It's so much easier to take the pills or have the tests done -- later.

So to help motivate you now, here's a short review of the findings of a recent study by J. A. Iestra that appears in a 2005 issue of the journal Circulation. It's called "Effect Size Estimates of Lifestyle and Dietary Changes on All Cause Mortality in Coronary Artery Disease Patients." Iestra's data showed notable reductions in coronary artery disease -- and mortality -- when patients make these changes:
  • Diet change: 40-45%
  • Smoking cessation: 35-50%
  • ACE inhibitors (for blood pressure): 26%
  • More physical activity: 20-30%
  • Beta blockers (for blood pressure): 23%
  • Statins (for cholesterol): 21%
  • Aspirin: 18%
  • Moderate alcohol: 14-20%
The reduction in mortality from coronary artery disease is the same if not better with lifestyle or dietary changes as it is with medications. Other things to consider (but not analyzed in this study) are that lifestyle changes, such as more physical activity, don't produce bad side effects -- well, maybe a little sweat, but all medications may have some side effects. And certainly the cost of exercise vs. medication is lower too. So whether you're a Googler or not, let's all be visionaries not just about our work, but about our own bodies and souls.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Open federation for Google Talk

We've just announced open federation for the Google Talk service. What does that mean, you might be wondering. No, it has nothing to do with Star Trek. "Open federation" is technical jargon for when people on different services can talk to each other. For example, email is a federated system. You might have a .edu address and I have a Gmail address, but you and I can still exchange email. The same for the phone: there's nothing that prevents Cingular users from talking to Sprint users.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with many IM and Internet voice calling services today. You can only talk to people on the particular service you have an account on (so you need an account on every service to talk to everybody, which is pretty cumbersome). With open federation, you get to choose your service provider and you can talk to people on any other federated service (and vice versa).

In addition to the Google Talk service, many other companies, universities, and corporations support open federation today. This means you can now talk to millions of users around the world all with a single account on the service provider of your choice.

We think this is pretty exciting -- though perhaps not as exciting as something Star Trek-related -- and we hope it will bring us one step closer to making IM and Internet voice calling as ubiquitous as email.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Your Google homepage, to go

Anyone who's ever tried to browse the web on their cell phone knows that it isn't always the best user experience. That's why I'm excited to tell you about Google Mobile Personalized Home. We've designed a way for you to view the things that you really care about, from your Gmail inbox to news headlines, weather, stock quotes, and feeds (Atom or RSS). The interface is optimized for small screens, and we've arranged things so you don't have to click on a bunch of links to locate what you're after -– your personalized content appears on top, right where it should be. Give it a try, and let us know how you like it.

Many Minis

Today is the one year anniversary of the Google Mini, Google's solution for website and corporate network search, and to celebrate we thought we'd announce a few more of them. The standard Mini lets you search up to 100,000 documents. Now organizations that constantly crank out new content can opt for either of two new Minis: one searches up to 200,000 documents, and another that can manage up to 300,000. All three deliver the same easy setup, intuitive interface and fast, relevant results that the Mini is already bringing to thousands of websites and corporate networks. You're growing, and the Mini is growing with you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Google Earth in a Mac world (PC too)

We feel like proud parents around here. Our eldest, Google Earth for the PC, is officially leaving beta status today, and we couldn't be more pleased. For those of you who downloaded early, upgrade to the latest and discover Google Earth all over again.

And we have a brand new member of the family -- Google Earth for Macintosh. We're happy to finally have some good news for the, ahem, vocal Mac enthusiasts we've been hearing from. Let's just say that we have gotten more than a few "requests" for a Mac version of Google Earth. They've gone something like this:

1) "When is it coming out? Your website says that you are working on it."

2) "You know, Mac users are very heavy graphics/mapping/visualization/design/ architecture/education/real estate/geocaching/social-geo-video-networking fans who would certainly use Google Earth a lot."

3) "So when is it coming out?"

We heard you loud and clear. The Mac version runs on OS X 10.4 and up. Happy travels throughout Google Earth, whether you're on a Mac or a PC.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A new year for Google Video

Till now, Google Video has been about watching videos and clips online, which is really convenient for videos like this. But wouldn't it be awesome to watch that episode of CSI that you missed when even your trusty DVR failed you? This is one reason we've launched the Google Video store, where you can rent or buy from such well-known media partners as CBS, the NBA, The Charlie Rose Show, and SONY BMG.

We’re not only about mainstream content, though -– we have thousands of titles available (and more coming every day) from every imaginable type of producer, including this 1896 clip of the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II – one of the earliest known moving images. We’re especially pleased to offer such quality indie features as Ben Rekhi’s Waterborne (Drops Entertainment) and Lerone Wilson’s Aardvark’d: 12 Weeks with Geeks (Boondoggle Films).

When we launched our Upload Program earlier this year, people sent in a huge number of free and compelling videos. But since there's a ton of video that can't be offered for free, we built the Google Video store to give content owners the option to charge for downloads if they'd like. This means producers large and small can distribute their great content in an easy, secure way. Some of your favorite prime time and classic TV shows, sports, music videos, and documentaries are at your fingertips. Want to see how Shaq scored 30 points last night? Download and watch it (and every NBA game for the rest of the season) through Google Video.

You can play all the videos you download using the all-new Google Video Player. We're especially pleased about the thumbnail navigation for browsing an entire video so you can play any portion with a single click. And there's another thing: if the content is not copy-protected, you can take your favorite videos with you on your iPod or PSP -- our "to go" option.

Since it's so early in the year, here's a resolution we intend to keep: make sure new features and content continue to roll out, so that you think Google Video is one of the best ways to find video on the web.

These video providers are getting us off to a great start:

Aquarius Health Care Media: A leading producer and distributor of healthcare-related videos will pilot with Google Video using a variety of titles covering SIDS, diabetes, and blindness, among other health issues.

Ardustry Home Entertainment: Offers substantial libraries of theatrical motion pictures, television series, documentaries and reality programming, music and sports specials, lifestyle titles, and a wide array of “how-to” products.

BlueHighways TV: Programming service that explores the people, stories, traditions and cultures of America. Discovering the sights and sounds of communities across the country with an up-close, laid-back programming style, BlueHighways TV presents a collage of remarkable music, folklore and information for audiences interested in all aspects of American life and heritage. Programming includes Reno's Old Time Music Festival, American Journeys, Stan Hitchcock's Heart to Heart, and Gospel Sampler.

CareTALK: A multimedia brand dedicated to consumer-directed health care offering programming and tools to help modern family caregivers; initially offering 10-20 hours of health and caregiving-related content (10-20 minutes in length).

CBS: Includes prime time hits such as CSI, NCIS, Survivor: Guatemala, and The Amazing Race (available spring ’06), as well as classics like I Love Lucy, Twilight Zone, Brady Bunch, Have Gun Will Travel, MacGyver, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, and My Three Sons (coming soon).

The Charlie Rose Show: Includes interviews with Henry Kissinger, Oliver Stone, Quentin Tarantino, Martha Stewart, Martin Scorsese, Harrison Ford, Dan Rather, Charles M. Schulz, Steve Jobs, Jay Leno, Tom Brokaw, and others.

Cine Excel: Independent producer will trial on Google Video with 3 DVD movie titles: Bikini Hotel (1997), Tao of Karate (short-film, 1998) and Karate Wars (1998).

Classic Media: Classic Media owns and manages some of the world's most recognizable family properties across all media including feature film, television, home video and consumer products. The company's extensive library features a diverse collection of popular animated and live-action characters. For launch we will have Rocky & Bullwinkle, Casper, Wendy, Richie Rich, Herman & Katnip, Baby Huey, Little Audrey, Mighty Hercules, Little Lulu, and Felix the Cat.

CLEARVUE & SVE: A leading provider of educational K-12 educational video content. They sell DVDs and run a subscription media-on-demand website with video, audio, and images. CLEARVUE & SVE primarily serves large clients such as schools, school districts or entire states. Leveraging Google Video, they have embarked on a new and bold strategy to target individual customers directly. Among the hundreds of videos you will find on Google, topics vary from classic children's literature to detailed explanations about the workings of the human body.

Echelon Home Entertainment 2: Focuses on independently produced films made by filmmakers from around the world which offer a unique perspective to the traditional genres: drama, action, thriller, comedy, family, animation, classic, B&W, foreign.

Egami Media: A subsidiary of Image Entertainment and a leading independent licensee, producer and distributor of home entertainment programming with over 3,000 titles released in North America. Highlighted content in Google Video includes live concert programs include Kiss: Rock the Nation: Live!, Chick Corea: Rendezvous in New York, Roy Orbison: Black & White Night, and dozens more. Other titles include IMAX programs from MacGillivray Freeman, stand-up comedy and independent, foreign and silent film classics.

Fashion TV: The only 24 hours a day, 7 days a week fashion, beauty and style TV station worldwide provides glamorous entertainment with emphasis on the latest trends. Google Video content includes fashion show clips and behind the scenes footage from many fashion shows.

Getty Images' Archive Films Collection: A diverse collection of short clips that capture personalities, moments and eras throughout history -- selected from vintage newsreels and educational film, as well as contemporary news and events from around the world.

GreenCine.com: Feature length independent films, documentaries and classic titles, including works by legendary Polish director Andrzej Wajda (Zemsta) and award-winning actor-director Caveh Zahedi (In the Bathtub of the World).

HDNet: Co-founded by Mark Cuban, HDNet has agreed to make select original programming from its library available for the launch of Google's first commercial video offering. The programs to be made available come from HDNet's ever growing library of original content including the HDNet World Report, a groundbreaking series featuring news in HD from around the globe; True Music, a popular weekly music series highlighting up-and-coming bands; Higher Definition, a celebrity interview series hosted by Robert Wilonsky; Young, Beautiful and Trying to Make it in Hollywood, following actresses through the hectic process of getting hired in Hollywood; and Deadline, delivering current events and news from around the world from an irreverent point of view.

here!: Gay and lesbian U.S. television network featuring original movies and series and film library (independent and foreign films, documentaries and shorts).

Hollywood Licensing's HilariousDownloads.com: Hollywood Licensing is the entertainment licensing agency which represents the best and most extensive library of hilarious videos in the world. Tapping into a library boasting tens of thousands of clips, they have custom produced 20 packages of funny themes for Google Video. For example, if you think that your recent home improvements was nothing but a miserable experience, wait until you see a bucket of wet plaster land on a man's face, a house collapsing or a door falling of its hinges for no particular reason.

ITN: One of the world's leading news producers, providing news programming for the main commercial broadcasters in the U.K. and its combined news broadcasts reach over two-thirds of the U.K. population. The company has a strong reputation for the creative and innovative use of modern technology, winning the Royal Television Society's 2004 Innovation Award.

iWatchNow.com: Titles include Night of the Living Dead (George Romero), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe (original animated film BBC from1979), The Man Who Knew Too Much (Hitchcock), the hard-to-find Comedy's Dirtiest Dozen (with Chris Rock and Tim Allen), and The Little Shop of Horrors (1960).

Kantola Productions: Captures unique speaking events given by well-known experts at Stanford University. Topics focus on innovative and practical business advice, such as How Leaders Boost Productivity by John H. (Jack) Zenger and Mastery of Speaking as a Leader by Terry Pearce.

LIME: “Healthy Living with a Twist” offers entertaining and revealing programming focused on a greener, healthier, more balanced lifestyle. Programming features inspiration from leading experts, authors, and pop culture icons and covers topics including the environment and sustainability, personal growth, alternative health, healthy foods, and business ethics.

MediaZone.com: Programming covers sporting events, TV episodes, movies, how-to programs. Content includes The Rugby Channel presents ‘The Best Tries of 2004’ and The All Blacks of New Zealand Vs. Springboks of South Africa.

Nobel Video Library: A library focused on the achievements of individual Nobel Laureate. The series was developed to introduce students to the work of the laureates as well as to support classroom discussion regarding important issues addressed by Nobel Prize winners in recent decades.

Open Championship: Official programs from the classic golf tournament, the British Open, such as Reflections: Past Open Champions.

Plum TV: Provides highly localized programming to the nation’s most influential consumers, and strives to be an incubator of groundbreaking new television programming. Each Plum TV station shares branding which links each station as a network, but still provides original programming customized to reflect each community. Plum TV’s programming includes regionally-focused feature pieces, tourist information (weather, traffic reports, restaurant reviews, retail and lodging information), a real estate show, local news and specially targeted entertainment for each community’s interests.

PorchLight Entertainment: Porchlight produces family-oriented motion pictures and TV specials. Google Video will offer 36 titles including Enough Already and Role of a Lifetime.

SOFA Entertainment: Represents pop culture at its best. Featuring several titles from the classic The Ed Sullivan Show along with documentaries, feature films and music programming. SOFA Entertainment truly offers something for everyone. Some highlights include The Very Best of The Ed Sullivan Show - Vol. 1 & Vol. 2.

SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT: The lineup of launch videos includes offerings from some of SONY BMG's largest global superstar artists, including Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Kenny Chesney, Destiny's Child, Kelly Clarkson, Alicia Keys, Lil' Flip, Jessica Simpson, Shakira, System of a Down, Switchfoot, Usher, and many more.

Tai Seng Entertainment: The definitive Asian cinema powerhouse. Known as the best source for Hong Kong films, Tai Seng also releases cinematic masterpieces from all over the Asia region in a variety of languages. Tai Seng brings to your home the best in class from high-octane action to bone-crushing martial arts, from chilling horror to lush swordplay epics. We are proud to showcase with Google some of Asia's biggest hits like Johnnie To's Running On Karma, Korea's sensuously emotional drama Addicted, martial arts Master Yuen Wo Ping's highly acclaimed Tai Chi Master, and Michelle Yeoh's violently elegant Butterfly Sword.

Teen Kids News: A dynamic television news program for teens and pre-teens, by teens. The half-hour weekly program provides 10 eyewitness news segments to students in a way that's educational as well as entertaining. Thirty shows with kids reporting on camera are available on Google Video.

Trinity Broadcasting Network: The world's largest religious network and America's most watched faith channel, TBN offers 24 hours of commercial-free inspirational programming that appeal to people in a wide variety of Protestant, Catholic and Messianic Jewish denominations. The Praise the Lord Program is the only live two-hour Christian program in the world. The program brings the highest caliber of guests from well-known celebrities to laypersons for interview, as well as, singers, musicians, evangelists and the coverage of revivals and crusades from around the world. This award-winning program has been on each week night for over 30 years.

Union: Offers the best of breed from the world of action sports, including snow, skate, bmx, moto, and surfing. Union is owned by Quiksilver Entertainment, Inc. and Global Media Ventures, LLC.

WFIL: Wilderness Films India Ltd. is a leading producer and library of stock footage captured in India and across Asia. WFIL will offer 100 hours of high quality video, both free and for sale, on Google Video. Topics vary from helicopter skiing in the Himalaya, broadcast coverage of an Everest climb, and rare wildlife such as the takin and the clouded leopard to imagery spanning India's art, culture, technology, peoples, cities, and rural areas.

WGBH: WGBH Boston is America's preeminent public broadcasting producer, the source of fully one-third of PBS's prime-time lineup, along with some of public television's best-known lifestyle shows and children's programs and many public radio favorites. Programming available includes Nova, La Plaza (the longest running Latino program in the country), Thinking Big, and Basic Black. WGBH is the number one producer of Web sites on pbs.org, one of the most trafficked dot-org Web sites in the world. WGBH is a pioneer in educational multimedia and in technologies and services that make media accessible to the 36 million Americans who rely on captioning or video descriptions. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards.even two Oscars. In 2002, WGBH was honored with a special institutional Peabody Award for 50 years of excellence.

WheelsTV: Serves both the general audience and the enthusiast with a wide spectrum of vehicle-based entertainment, news and information. WheelsTV Network, WheelsTV On Demand and WheelsTV.net have been developed by the producers of multi-awarding winning automotive programming for Discovery, PBS, Speedvision, Fox and Outdoor Life Networks including Wild About Wheels, Wheels, and Motor Trend Television. WheelsTV Network’s valuable consumer programs include Top 200™ New Vehicle Test Drives. With Top 200 on Google, consumers will be able to download virtual test drives of the best selling and most exciting cars on the road today, saving time and money.

Wimbledon: Official programs from the Wimbledon Tennis Championships such as Legends of Wimbledon: Bjorn Borg.

The 2006 Anita Borg Scholarships

The wonderfully-named Dr. Anita Borg (1949 - 2003) was a rebel with a cause: ensuring that technology itself has positive outcomes, and dismantling barriers that keep women and minorities from entering computing and technology fields. Today the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology carries on her vision. And because Google shares that passion, we are pleased to sponsor the 2006 Anita Borg Scholarship program. We are inspired by the past scholarship recipients -- and in hopes of finding more, the program is expanded this year to accept applications from students entering their senior year of undergraduate study as well as those enrolled in a graduate program. Last year we awarded 23 scholarships; this year we'd like to do more.

Tell your friends, or apply yourself - the deadline is January 20.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Make your computer just work

So you bought a new PC for yourself or a relative during the holidays. There was the initial excitement about its speed and the nice screen – and then it came time to actually get it running. Which meant embarking on some real work -– downloading a browser, a couple of multimedia players, a PDF reader, a toolbar, and maybe something for voice and instant messaging. Don’t forget the anti-spyware and anti-virus apps – you’ve got to have those. Hours, maybe even days, go by. How many wizards have you clicked through, not to mention license agreements and preference pickers? And then you have to ask: did I get everything? And how am I going to keep all of this up to date?

This was the experience both Sergey and Larry had a year ago. And they’re computer guys, after all. Which led them to ask more of us to make it easier for everyone. So we created the Google Pack -- a one-stop software package that helps you discover, install, and maintain a wide range of essential PC programs. It’s yours today – and it’s something we hope you find to be painless, easy, and even fun (if computer setup can ever be called that). And it’s free.

We worked with a number of technology companies to identify products that are the best of their type to create this suite. (We didn’t pay them, and they aren’t paying us.) For PC users running Windows XP, it downloads in minutes and installs in just a few clicks. There’s only one license agreement – and no wizards. And there’s a new tool called the Google Updater that keeps all the software in the Google Pack current. Even if you already have some of the software in the Pack, you can use the Google Updater to update and manage it.

There’s one more thing in the Pack that we think you’ll like. The Pack team asked people what kind of screensavers they like best. They kept saying, “I want my own photos as a screensaver, why can’t I do that?” Good question -- lots of people have trouble with this. So we made the Google Pack Screensaver, which is the easiest possible way to make your photos into an animated photo collage. And now the question for you is: what will you do with all that time you've saved?