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Last year, we launched Google Talk, a free and easy service for making voice calls and sending instant messages. It used to be that only Gmail users could use Google Talk but now anyone can sign up for Google Talk. If you haven't tried the service yet, here are 5 good reasons to give it a try:
Just sign up, invite some friends, and you can be chatting with them in minutes. There are millions of people around the world to chat with! There are, however, still some features including chat histories and mail notifications that will only work if you sign into Google Talk with a Gmail account. Either way, we encourage you to give it a try.

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Do you ever wish that finding interesting stuff on the web was as easy as watching TV? Some nights, I just want to relax, tune in to HBO and see what's on. Other times, I know exactly what I want to watch: all those Curb Your Enthusiasm episodes that I've recorded, for one thing. But on the web, the only way to "tune in" is to go to the websites themselves and see what's there. What I really want is for the websites to come to me instead, so I can read them when I feel like it.

Enter Google Reader. Today there's a new version that makes it even easier to keep track of your favorite websites. Think of Google Reader as your inbox for the web. When you check your email, you don't go to each of your friends' mailboxes to see if they sent you anything — you just check your inbox. Google Reader does the same thing for the Internet, by putting all the sites that interest you in one convenient location and indicating when something has been updated. Here's a quick video intro for you:



We've also made sharing a lot more fun. Everyone who uses Google Reader now gets their own public page to which they can post items of interest. Kind of like a blog with training wheels — it creates a whole stream of your favorites on a page your friends and family can see or even subscribe to. This is definitely my favorite feature — I use it all the time to share pictures from my favorite photoblogs with my friends and family.

So go ahead and try it out. If you're already a regular, we hope you'll like the new look. If you've never used Google Reader before, we invite you to discover a brand new way to keep track of the sites that interest you. We still have a lot of features we want to experiment with, so it's in Google Labs for the time being. And keep up to date with the latest developments via our Reader blog... in Google Reader, of course!

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A little less than a year ago we announced the launch of a new Labs product, Google Transit Trip Planner. We made it easier for Portland commuters to find the fastest and most effective way to get around the city using public transportation.

Today, we're thrilled to tell you that we've added five more cities to our coverage:
Now riders in these cities (and Portland, of course) can use Google to plan trips using public transportation, and in some cities, compare the cost of public transportation with the cost of driving. You can also specify when you want to leave or arrive, and see different route possibilities. Here are some things you can find out:
Stay tuned, as we'll be making many improvements in the weeks and months ahead based on your feedback. If you have comments or ideas about how this site could be even more helpful, don't hesitate to send us email.

The transit agencies in Google Transit Trip Planner now serve a population of more than 6 million people with over 1 million transit trips per day. For us, that's a fivefold increase in transit riders that we can help -- but we realize that it's still only a small fraction of the world's transit riders. To help expand coverage and to make it easier for transit agencies to get their schedules included, today we're announcing a lightweight Google Transit Feed Specification. If you're from a transit agency interested in being included in this Labs product, just write to us.

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Maybe you haven't tried Google Calendar yet because you don't think your daily routine is complicated enough to use one. But it's more than just a personal organizer – it also keeps you current about other kinds of time-related information, like what the weather will be on Friday.

Our latest feature, web content events, makes it easier to distinguish between what you've scheduled for yourself and other things going on around you. A web content event appears as an icon at the top of the day – you can either mouse over that to get a quick summary, or click it to bring up a web page with more information.

You can add web content events to your own calendar for weather forecasts, moon phases, and even Google doodles (those special-occasion logos you sometimes see on Google.com). Now you can be the first to know when there's a new one!





Developers can also create their own web content event calendars to share. We think this opens a whole new world for interesting calendar content, and we're excited to see what people will come up with. For more on how to create one, take a look at these tips for getting started.

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This week we celebrate Google's 8th birthday, and I hope you like the commemorative logo that appears on today's homepage:
Having worked at Google for 6 years, I've been lucky enough to design our birthday images (and a lot of other doodles). I hope you enjoy reading the candles. :)

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The Internet has broken down many of the barriers that exist between people and information –- effectively democratizing access to human knowledge. By typing just a few keywords into a computer you can learn about almost any subject. Google is one of many organizations that work to make this possible.

But today only a fraction of the world’s information is available online. Our aim to help organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful means working with a lot of information – newspaper articles (many written over a century ago), books (of which there are millions), images, videos (including all of the new footage users are creating), websites, important financial information and much, much more.

Because we don’t own this content, over the years we’ve come up with three primary principles to ensure that we respect content owners and protect their rights:
  • we respect copyright;
  • we let owners choose whether we index their content in our products;
  • we try to bring benefit back to content owners by partnering with them.
Respecting copyright
There are many legal rights that help protect content. Among the most important is copyright. Content creators deserve to be rewarded for their creative work -- and copyright law is fundamental to ensuring that as well as fostering future creativity. While protecting the rights of owners, those laws also encourage others to make use of content in limited ways. That's why newspapers are allowed to include short quotations from in-copyright books in their reviews. That's also why search engines can show snippets (small excerpts) of text in their results. Copyright owners benefit from these types of usage because they help to publicize their works.

Google News is a good example of how Google protects copyright in practice. We index the content of thousands of news sources online. When users go to Google News, they see only headlines, snippets and image thumbnails from the relevant news articles. If people want to read the story, they must click through links in our results to the original website.

Google Book Search is another example. We're digitizing and indexing millions of books as part of our effort to make these works as easily found as web sites are today. Some of these books are in the public domain. For those, we will show the full text of the book. Other books are in copyright. For these we show only bibliographic information and a few snippets of text, unless we have the owners’ prior permission to show more.

There are also times when, in addition to securing permission, we pay for greater use of content. For example, we've agreed to pay the Associated Press (AP) for the right to make new uses of its news content – uses that go beyond the limited uses permitted by copyright laws. This use of AP’s content will make our services even more valuable. We also license content from third parties for several other Google services such as Google Earth Google Finance and Google Maps.

Letting content owners choose
Even if use of their work would be perfectly legal, we respect the wishes of content owners. For example, if a content owner asks us to remove his or her content from our web search results, we do. If a newspaper does not want to be part of Google News, we take the paper’s stories out. And if publishers would prefer not to have their books included in Google Book Search, we honor their request. It’s simple: we always allow content owners to opt out – quickly and easily.

Of course, some people argue that we should be asking content owners to opt in, not requiring them to opt out. Google aims to provide comprehensive search results. This would be impossible in a world where permission simply to index (which is entirely legal) was necessary. But we also believe that opt-out rather than opt-in benefits not just Google users, but also content owners. If content isn't indexed it can't be searched. And if it can't be searched, how can it be found? Imagine a library with no index of titles or subjects of the books on its shelves, or no catalogue of the authors who wrote them.

Benefitting content owners
There are around one billion people online today -- all of them wanting access to information. We partner with publishers, news organizations and others to help them to reach a wider global audience. By enabling people to discover information, Google drives web traffic, customer queries, advertising revenues and sales to our partners, both online and offline.

Take our AdSense advertising program. We display ads on thousands of partners’ websites – and we let them keep the majority of the revenue generated. The same is true for our Book Search publisher partners – they keep the lion’s share of the advertising on the books they include in our program. And Google Video helps media companies generate revenues in a number of different ways. They can upload their videos and share them freely with millions of users globally, generating awareness for their content – and some may sell their videos through our online store. We also place ads within videos on Google Video and throughout our AdSense network through a new product called Adsense for Video -- and as with AdSense and Book Search, we share the money with the content owner.

And we have other initiatives to help our partners sell their content. In Google News, we work with some companies whose content is only available via subscription. We index their content and then when people click on their story we link them to the site where they can purchase the individual story, login if they are a subscriber, or subscribe to the paper. And we recently added a feature to Google News which enables searchers to find historical articles, many of which are only available from the owner for a fee.

Protecting content owners’ rights, respecting their wishes, helping to reward them for their creative endeavors – these are the primary principles that guide Google’s approach. We believe it’s the best way to make the world’s information universally accessible and useful.

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Intel CTO Justin Rattner was kind enough to invite me on stage today during his R&D keynote at the Intel Developers' Forum to talk about some of the computing platform challenges we face in building large-scale Internet services. Talking to industrial colleagues and the academic community about some of our most important platform-level requirements is something I always make time for. If you're trying to build interesting systems, life is easier when hardware vendors are aware of what works for you and what doesn't.

Chip multiprocessing -- the idea that multiple simpler processing units in one chip can be a better choice than a single hulking one -- is an example of a technology we've been vocal supporters of for quite a while. See for example "Web Search for a Planet" and "Price of Performance." We're happy to see this thinking being embraced by several vendors.

The focus of our message at IDF today was efficiency: power efficiency and programming efficiency. There are several hard technical problems surrounding power efficiency of computers, but we've found one that is actually not particularly challenging and could have a huge impact on the energy used by home computers and low-end servers: increasing power supply efficiency. All computers, including personal computers and servers, have power supplies to convert the alternating current (AC) from the outlet to the direct current (DC) needed by the machine. Typical power supplies waste 30-45% of their input power, and relatively simple modifications can bring this waste down to 10%. Others, like 80 PLUS, have also identified and targeted these inefficiencies. We believe that the development of a new open standard is necessary to achieve very high efficiencies at low costs, so we have begun discussions with Intel and other vendors that we hope might lead to significantly more efficient power supplies. Here's a short white paper describing this in more detail (PDF). If you'd like us to keep you posted on our progress, please send us a note at efficient-psu@google.com.

Programming for systems with many computers can be a daunting task, but one that our engineers have to face every day. Simplifying this task has a direct impact on programmer productivity, and consequently the rate of innovation. Software tools such as MapReduce have been very successful at Google by making it easier to process huge amounts of data quickly by spreading it over many computers. However, the efficiency of the computation can still suffer because of the limitations of the underlying computer platform. For example, programmers only have two major storage options that are widely available: memory (DRAM, specifically) and disk drives. Latency of disk accesses is about 100,000 times slower than memory, while memory is approximately 200 times more expensive (per gigabyte) than disks. These two alternatives are so far apart that programmers are forced to choose from two extremes, making some computations very difficult. I suggested to the IDF audience that there might be an opportunity for intermediate solutions in this space, faster than disks but cheaper than memory. Some forms of FLASH memory might soon be possible solutions, for example.

It's always rewarding to exchange notes with our friends in industry and academia, whether through participation in events or by publishing papers. I expect we'll continue to do that.

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Four months back Google Notebook launched, enabling you to collect and organize information as you find your way through the Wild West. Since then, we've gotten a ton of great feedback and learned what features you'd love to have -- and we've put that feedback into action. For starters, you can now collaborate on a notebook with fellow notebookers (of course, you can still share your published version with the entire world if you want to).

There are many other great features, like a much slicker drag-and-drop UI to let you organize better, a trash bin for all your deleted items, and the ability to undo your last action. And we realize a lot of you wanted to see your notebooks on your personalized homepage. Now you can, through the Google Notebook module for your Personalized Homepage. Add it to get quick access to your notebook, either for that upcoming trip to Bora Bora or your "to-do" list.

If you haven't tried Google Notebook yet, we bet you'll love it. And as always, we would love to hear your comments, because that helps us make it even better.

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You may have read recently about Google being taken to court in Belgium. Whilst we aren't allowed to comment on the judgment itself, we thought you may want to know the facts of the case -- what actually happened, and when -- and the issues it raises.

In August Google was sued by an organization called Copiepresse, which represents a number of newspapers in Belgium. It argued that our search engine and news site breached these publications’ copyright.

In September a court ruled in favor of Copiepresse and ordered us to remove these publishers’ content from both Google. be and Google News. We did this within the time specified. The court also required Google to post its ruling to the home pages of Google.be and Google News Belgium.

Last week we asked the court to reconsider its decision and requested that the requirement to post the ruling on our home pages be suspended. The court on Friday 22nd September agreed to reconsider its ruling in November this year, but maintained the requirement that we must post the initial judgment to our home pages for five days or face a fine of 500,000 Euros a day.

As the case will be heard in November, we can only offer general comments on the larger issues it raises at the moment. Any legal discussion must be pursued in court. Nevertheless we do feel that this case raises important and complex issues. It goes to the heart of how search engines work: showing snippets of text and linking users to the websites where the information resides is what makes them so useful. And after all, it’s not just users that benefit from these links but publishers do too -- because we drive huge amounts of web traffic to their sites.

Of course, if publishers don’t want their websites to appear in search results (most do) the robots.txt standard (something that webmasters understand) enables them to prevent automatically the indexing of their content. It's nearly universally accepted and honoured by all reputable search engines.

Google News is no different than Google web search in this regard: We only ever show the headlines and a bit of text. If people want to read the entire story they have to click through to the newspaper’s website. And if a newspaper does not want to be part of Google News we remove their content from our index –- all they have to do is ask.

We hope that this explanation helps, and will keep you posted about any developments.

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Today Anousheh Ansari, the first female private space explorer, called the Googleplex from the International Space Station. (We're nervously awaiting the long-distance bill.) Larry Page took the call. The topics ranged from what Anousheh forgot to pack (her husband!) to her hopes for the future of space exploration. I took notes. Here are some highlights:

What was the most fun in space?
Flying from one end of the Space Station to the other. She's gotten so good that she can nearly make it all the way without hitting any walls.

What was the biggest surprise?
Seeing the Earth rotate for the first time. Every time Anousheh wants to remind herself that she's really in space, she looks out the window, watches the Earth rotating, and pinches herself to make sure she's still awake.

Larry (wistfully): When can we come up to join you?
You'll have to come up one at a time. In any case, construction is speeding up on the International Space Station, so tourists will probably be fewer for the time being. She hopes Larry can improve the food; although the cheese pasta is fun to chase, it's not much fun to eat. At least there are M&Ms.

What would you change about the space station?
(Fast reply): "Add another shower!" And then - "Add Internet access!" (Wild cheering from Googlers.) Right now email is batched. Larry suggested that Anousheh plan that for her next trip -- and she shot back, "Actually, I'm planning my next trip!"

Do you have anything inspirational to say?
"Explore the boundaries. Try new things. Be free-thinkers and use your imaginations. Learn from your environment, your teachers, your books -- but then go beyond your knowledge. I always wanted to go to space, although I didn't wind up working for NASA. I detoured to different areas, but finally I found a way to make it happen."

After the call ended, Larry commented that Anousheh had been a visionary and an inspiration from the earliest days of the Ansari X Prize. To be inspired yourself, check out her blog.

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Google.org and the Google Foundation support select organizations whose work addresses the challenges of global poverty in ways that are effective, sustainable and scalable. We invited TechnoServe, a 2006 Google Foundation grant recipient, to tell us more about the winners of its business plan competition and entrepreneurship development program in Ghana. The Google Foundation joins TechnoServe in sending heartfelt congratulations to all of the winners, finalists and participants in Believe Begin Become.

With financial support from the Google Foundation, TechnoServe (an economic development organization that applies business solutions to rural poverty) launched Believe Begin Become in Ghana in March. It's a program that identifies entrepreneurs whose businesses can create jobs and increase incomes. Ghana’s competition marks the beginning of TechnoServe’s multi-country rollout of these business plan competitions across Africa.

More than 300 of Ghana’s most promising entrepreneurs applied to the program, and 60 participated in the rigorous training and business plan development for this year’s competition. With strong support from over 70 local partners and 23 business development service providers, participants receive individual support from technical consultants and access to a business network that included more than 15 financial institutions.

The 20 finalists came from seven of Ghana's 10 regions and represent a diverse cross-section of the Ghanaian population. One-third of the finalists are women, and more than a third are from rural areas. They range in age from 20 to 55, and their business concepts are varied, from a web-based tour company to a high-tech environmentally friendly carwash. Each of the 20 finalists receive between $10,000 and $15,000 of individualized local business services. Each of the top 10 winners received $15,000 in seed capital to start or expand their businesses.

To the delight of Ghanaians, the top winners were announced at today’s awards ceremony in Accra. They include: Nicholas Vordzogbe, Isaac Bohulu, Maxwell Hammond, Paul Tetteh, Daniel Tamatey and Prince Yakubu. There are also three winners who presented the best business plans in three sectors: light manufacturing, services and agriculture. These sector winners, all women, are: Agnes Frimpong (Mixline Ventures – disposable baby diaper packaging and retailing), Joyce Opon (Adekyee Lodging and Conferencing – hospitality business) and Rita Asamoah (Kasdar Company Ltd – dried fruit processing). The top winner of the overall business plan competition went to the impressive Joseph Tackie, who is revolutionizing the meat processing business in Accra by introducing the highest standards of quality and new sales and distribution models.

Google.org provided support by sending Google employees to Ghana to serve as judges, guest lecturers and supporters of the participating entrepreneurs. Here are three reflections on their experience:
  • "When I originally agreed to volunteer, I wasn't sure what contribution I was going to be able to make, trying to teach finance in a place where having access to electricity is as big a concern as running out of capital. But during my lecture, I could see how introducing some of the lessons we've learned at Google to these budding entrepreneurs in Ghana was really making a difference. It was definitely the best week of work I've ever had." – Albert Ching
  • “It was refreshing to see the impact of TechnoServe’s results-driven approach to development. This approach seems more successful for generating skilled and unskilled jobs, income for the community, and in the long run, sustainable economic growth for developing nations. It can instill a sense of pride and achievement in people that can have tremendous effects - successful entrepreneurs can contribute to their communities and inspire others to achieve more.” – Jackie Bona
  • “The highlight of my trip was the event celebrating the graduation from the core training of the business plan competition: the best 20 business plans that would receive some level of funding. I realized that the aim of supporting sustainable businesses and creating a local ecosystem to spur innovation and entrepreneurship was really happening.” – Marco Marinucci

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The day after we launched Google Spreadsheets, one of the team said, "I can't believe you're already on the (Google) Groups page answering questions." After a late night-launch night? No way. "I'm definitely not posting, and I don't have the time even if I wanted to," I told him. Strangely, someone going by "Fuzzy" and/or "Fuzzy wuzzy" was answering everyone's questions! This unlikely-named person seemed to be very knowledgeable about Google Spreadsheets and spreadsheets in general. Well, the identity of that Fuzzy is still a mystery, but here's my chance to weigh in as myself.

I've been carefully watching the feedback we get on Google Spreadsheets, looking for people who may have discovered a bug or just need help using it. I'm also trying to judge our success in offering the right features. In a recent perusal of our Google Group (where interested people can discuss the product, help each other, and suggest improvements), it occurred to me that our growing body of users is about as diverse as a group can get, in terms of spreadsheet desires (if we can call them that!).

Here's a sampling of what people have been asking for:

  • support for Open Document Format (handy for those who use linux-based machines and Open Office products)
  • a way to force multiple line text in a single cell (like a street address in, say, a spreadsheet for planning a wedding)
  • currency symbols in addition to $
  • an option to create PDF files that will print nicely
  • the ability to share a spreadsheet with anyone who receives the URL (without having to specify their email address).

This latest release of Google Spreadsheets that we just rolled out does all of these things and more. Here's a list of all the new features. I'm still watching the list of requests grow – and will keep trying to meet those needs -- unless of course the mysterious "Fuzzy wuzzy" beats me to it.

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When was the last time you tried to write HTML, build your resume and strut your stuff all at once? Well, now's your chance. We recently launched the Google Gadget Awards, a program designed to challenge U.S. college students to create clever Google Gadgets. It's easy for anyone with even a little bit of web design experience to create one. They can be fun (like one of my personal favorites, this radio gadget), useful (like this to-do gadget), or just really, really simple (like this facts and trivia gadget). And anyone can add the gadgets to their Google personalized homepage or to Google Desktop.

If you're not a university student in the U.S., you can still create Google Gadgets. Although they won't be entered in the Awards, if they're clever enough you just might find them on Google homepages around the world.

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Today our warmest congratulations go out to a notable young computer scientist, Dr. Luis von Ahn of Carnegie Mellon University. Based on his work in cryptography, AI, and natural intelligence, Luis has just been recognized as a Fellow by the MacArthur Foundation, which has granted him a "genius" award.

A major thread of his research is about human computation that can't currently be emulated by computers. (Together with colleagues he developed the CAPTCHA system, which has of course found widespread commercial application in preventing automated-generated spam.) He also works in the area of cryptography known as steganography. Unlike standard encrypted communications, a steganographic message disguises the fact that it contains a secret; one example is a text message subtly embedded in the bits that encode a digital photograph. He's also developing systems for characterizing visual images in ways that can vastly improve their searchability, and which help to build a rich database for exploring human visual cognition. (We've developed the Google Image Labeler based on his groundbreaking work in this area.)

Around here, we like to quote Isaac Newton's phrase about "standing on the shoulders of giants." Clearly, Luis is one of these.

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We hear you, we hear you -- your company has more documents than ever. That's why today there's a new version of the Google Search Appliance that can handle even more documents, and offers some cool new features to boot. The GB-8008 now searches up to 30 million documents (if you need more, just let us know). And we've added date and number range search plus support for 16 languages. There's more on the enterprise blog.

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For a while now, it's been rumored that Google has been working on time travel. Unfortunately, I have to lay these rumors to rest: we've really been working on having "organizing-your-time" travel.

Back in April, we released Google Calendar to the world in English. But that wasn't good enough. So now it's available in 17 new languages: French, Italian, German, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Japanese, Korean, Dutch, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Danish, Polish, and English (UK).

We hope this means people in countries across the world will want to organize their daily lives with a fast, easy to use online calendar. Perhaps even better, you can now share calendars and events with people who speak and use Google Calendar in different languages. Schedule calls with your Tokyo office, or schedule that call to your relatives in Amsterdam or Seoul. Changing the language is as easy as a few clicks on your settings page.

As for time travel, maybe someday. After all, we're already on the moon.

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I have 80,000 photos in Picasa, Google's free photo organizer, but most of my friends haven't had a chance to see them yet. That's why I'm so excited about the new version of Picasa that came out today. It has a feature called Picasa Web Albums that lets you post and share your photos online for free with just one click. You can show the world (or just your friends and family) what kinds of pictures you've been taking. And best of all, you can even download your friends' online photos right back to Picasa.

I run around at parties and take photos of people, and now my friends can see the pictures online as soon as I post them. Rather than bugging me all the time to email them around (which I'm too lazy to do), now they're asking to have the bad shots deleted instead. Some of them even add online comments right to the photos themselves.

We've also fixed a whole bunch of things in Picasa. Folders finally work as you'd expect, so people who've kept their photos meticulously organized in folders and subfolders can see them displayed the same way in Picasa. And we've added a shiny new feature to photo-editing: Save. Your Picasa edits can now be preserved when using other programs. The save feature is even undoable, so you never lose your original files.

And there's more -- you can import into any folder you like, make time-lapse sequences into movies, search by color, create a screensaver with beautiful visual effects, and even re-arrange Picasa's buttons. Oh, and we also made Picasa work with Google Earth, so you can put information about where you went on vacation into the photos themselves, and then, view your shots on a 3-D globe. Try it all out for yourself at picasa.google.com.

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Everyone knows that Google Earth imagery and 3D terrain are unbelievably cool and fun to explore. But while you're flying around, have you ever wondered what is actually going on "down there" -- on the real earth? That narrative of living on this planet is portrayed in the new Featured Content for Google Earth. Accessible from the "Featured Content" folder in the Google Earth Layers sidebar, these new layers contain images, audio, video, stories and information about events unfolding around the globe.

In our September installment, follow the daily exploits of "Flirt" and her kindred Tanzanian chimpanzees in The Jane Goodall Institute's "geoblog"; fans have called this a "Chimp Soap Opera." Or go on a virtual safari in South Africa's Kruger Park -- or maybe you'd like to learn about how the locals in Reykjavik, Iceland relax in molten-lava-heated pools. Explore more than 10,000 miles of trails (in full 3D) in the U.S. National Parks, and find an idyllic lakeside camping spot in the backcountry of Yosemite. Visualize the global story of the earth itself, and how our environment has changed over the past 30 years -- or travel back in time to the Valley of the Kings in Egypt to discover the gold treasures of King Tut's tomb.

This first installment of Featured Content features six of the world's seven continents. (We fully expect that Antarctica will have a story or two coming up.)

By some accounts, nearly half of the information on the web actually relates to a place on earth. We'd like to help you find the best of that information and place it in the visually compelling context of our beautiful planet.

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As part of Google's ongoing commitment to advancing computing and technology, we're pleased to tell you that the United Negro College Fund and Google have partnered to create the UNCF/Google Scholarship Program. We hope this program will encourage students to excel in their studies, inspire them to become role models and leaders, and help remove the financial barriers for African-American students wishing to pursue an engineering degree.

On the strength of candidates' academic background and demonstrated leadership, we'll be awarding $5,000 scholarships. Students must be enrolled in their junior year of undergraduate study at a UNCF Member College or University or at a participating Historically Black College or University (HBCU), and pursuing a Computer Science or Computer Engineering major.

Tell your friends, or apply yourself -- the deadline for applications is Friday, October 6.

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What was your favorite book when you were in school? Did F. Scott Fitzgerald give you an inside look at a world of glamorous parties where the wealthy fell in love and went home with their feelings hurt? Did Holden Caulfield speak directly to your inner misanthrope? For decades, literary classics such as The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye have had a profound impact on millions of readers. Yet every year, there are hundreds of attempts to remove great books from schools and libraries nationwide. Fortunately, the American Library Association and many other organizations are fighting back with Banned Books Week, taking place this year Sept. 23-30.

For 25 years, libraries and bookstores nationwide have been celebrating the freedom to read during Banned Books Week, which is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the National Association of College Stores, and endorsed by the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

Now Google has joined the party. At google.com/bannedbooks, you can use Google Book Search to explore some of the best novels of the 20th century which have been challenged or banned. And while libraries and bookstores around the country celebrate the 25th anniversary of Banned Books Week with special readings, displays, and more, you just might end up with a visit to your local library or bookstore and an old favorite or a new banned book in hand.

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One of my goals in starting my blog has been to reliably provide useful health information and advice to a wider audience than just the people I see. As part of this effort, I have been labeling health-related websites that I think are good ones using Google Co-op, a beta product that premiered in May. Google Co-op is designed to improve results for searches. If you opt in to my Co-Op profile (and subscribe to it), you'll see my labels in your health-related search results.

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A while ago, New York filmmaker Steve Rosenbaum produced 7 Days in September which tells the story of a week -- September 11-18, 2001 -- with the help of many filmmakers and a multitude of perspectives. As Rosenbaum notes, "Those seven days are full of fear, anger, pain, loss, and a deep sense of community," adding that 7 Days "isn't meant to be an answer, but rather a sounding board that may help people to ask deeply personal questions." We're honored to share it with you on Google Video.

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As a teenager, history was the class in which I daydreamed -- the one that required memorization of long lists of kings, of battles, of arcane disputes that led to war. It was something I left behind when I graduated from high school and went on to the "real" things in life.

But history was not done with me. Many years later, I drifted from reading George Orwell's novels 1984 and Animal Farm and Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon to reading more about the Russian Revolution. The evolution of the Bolshevik Old Guard from scruffy revolutionaries fighting a stifling monarchy to becoming ruthless dictators for Stalin's killing machine was fascinating. History had drawn me into its web. History isn't a dry laundry list of the likes of "Ozymandias". It is what everyone in any era does, full of rich detail.

And now you can find those contemporary details (and more current ones as always) through a new archive search feature of Google News. This new feature can help you explore history through archives of news and other information sources. You can search for events, people and ideas, and see how they have been described over time. If you were to seek information on the 1969 moon landing, now you can find original coverage from that year, as well as analysis, news and commentary from the 37 years following.

Based on relevance, the archive results on Google News include freely available articles from sources such as TIME.com, The Guardian and many others, as well as snippets of articles available for a fee or via subscription. These may come from news organizations like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, and also from news aggregators like AccessMyLibrary.com, ThomsonGale, Factiva, HighBeam™ Research, LexisNexis and others.

In addition to finding the most relevant articles for your query, you can get an historical overview of the results by browsing an automatically created timeline. Articles related to a single story or theme within a given time period are grouped together to enable you to see a broad perspective on the events. The archive search results include articles about an incredibly wide variety of topics, people and events over the last 200 years or so. About kings and battles, yes, but also about athletes and games, political dramas, crimes, romances and much, much else.

History is often presented to us with a viewpoint many years after it happens -- and it's frequently smoothed over in many ways, and for many reasons. Here's hoping archive search in Google News can help you read about history as it has unfolded, and explore and understand the past for yourself.

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With all the great entries we received for the Google Desktop Gadget Contest, we've learned that there are some very talented developers out there. Amongst all the gadgets submitted, these three really stood out:
  • diGGGadget by Marius and Yannick Stucki – Stay on top of the latest stories from digg.com. Click on a few buttons and you'll know why we think it's so great. It also takes advantage of our advanced APIs to enable sharing news with friends plus personalization based on your interests.
  • Multiplayer Reversi Game by Turhan Aydin – Immerse yourself in the fun game Reversi with this visually rich gadget. Not only can you play against the computer, but this gadget takes advantage of our Google Talk API so that you can also play with your friends.
  • Day/Night World Clock by Beatrix Gottanka – We couldn't have designed a better world clock. Not only does this clock show you the local time, but there's also a map that indicates whether it's night or day at any given hour. And if you want options, this gadget has them.
For more on the winners and the honorable mentions, read the Google Desktop Blog, and don't forget to check out all the other great gadgets you can add to your desktop.

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TED stands for Technology, Entertainment & Design. For more than 15 years TED has produced a conference notable for its eclectic and stimulating mix of thinkers, leaders and doers from many fields. Traditionally, about 1,000 TEDsters gather each February at an exclusive invitation-only program in Monterey, California. Until recently, most of us could only read about TED or these talks -- but now talks are available online via Google Video, as well as at the TED site.

The goal for making these talks public isn't to sell more seats (TED 2007 is already sold out); under TED Curator Chris Anderson, the idea is simply to find the widest possible audience for these provocative presentations. The first batch of eight include Al Gore's compelling story of climate crisis; Hans Rosling's inspired interpretation of global public health statistics; Sir Ken Robinson's vision for an education system that values creativity; MacArthur Foundation prize-winner Majora Carter's commitment to environmental justice; storyteller Julia Sweeney's quest for a sensible faith; architect Joshua Prince-Ramus' tour of the new Seattle Public Library; Tony Robbins' roadmap for human potential; and David Pogue's unforgettable technology-inspired show tunes.

And do check back for more: we'll continue to add talks to Google Video regularly, pulling primarily from TED 2006 and TEDGlobal, but we'll also feature a number from previous years.

The TED Talks video series was edited specifically for the micro-screen with closer shots and faster cuts. To ensure the widest possible audience, the talks are also released under a Creative Commons license so that non-commercial sites are free to re-post them in their entirety. However you partake of them, we hope you're as inspired by TED as we are.

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It's time for a little guest post from Germany -- thanks, Google, for inviting me over! I'm the author of a blog on Google (Google Blogoscoped), and this year I've written a book called 55 Ways to Have Fun With Google. In it, I present Google-related riddles, games, cartoons, search tips, stories, and miscellaneous insights (no programming skills needed -- and most of the time, you don't need to be close to a computer, either).

You'll learn about such things as the giant Japanese Google painting, the man who traveled the world looking for Googlewhacks, advanced tips for Google-searching, how Google News can screw up in funny ways, or the Google Image prediction trick. There's a great German word for this -- "Wunderkammer," a cabinet of curiosities.

The book is self-published with Lulu.com, an interesting service. Basically, Lulu allows you to upload your Microsoft Word or OpenOffice Writer file along with your cover, and then convert it to a print-on-demand book. If you pay a little extra, your book will also appear on Amazon. The process ain't free of headaches but I gotta say, it's worth it. Lulu will also make sure the book's findable through Google Book Search.

Self-publishing is already an interesting experiment on its own, but I chose to take an alternative route with copyright as well. 55 Ways can be copied, remixed and shared under a Creative Commons license, and the full text is available as a free download. People have already converted it to websites, and there's a group effort going on to translate the full book into Chinese! Some people told me making the book available for free will stop people from buying the "offline" version ... well, here's your chance to prove them wrong :)