Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Get your people talking in more languages



Somewhere in the neighborhood of three out of four people on Earth don't speak English, so to better serve more Earthlings, we aim to make our products available and useful in lots of native languages other than English. Recently I've been working with translators and other linguistic experts to support 17 new languages in Google Apps for Your Domain.

This product is our way of letting entire organizations give their users powerful communication and collaboration tools: private-label versions of Gmail for custom domains, Google Calendar and Google Talk. The service is free, there's no hardware or software required, and organizations can tailor the user interface with custom logos and colors. So now anyone with a domain can provide essential, customized apps to all of their users, without spending a cent. (Or as the case may be, without spending a rupee, a krone, a won, a Eurocent, a yen, a centavo or a kopek.)

Here's the full list of languages Google Apps for Your Domain now supports:
French, Italian, German, Spanish, Norwegian, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish, British English, Polish, Turkish, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Chinese (Traditional), Chinese (Simplified), Japanese, Korean and US English. (Your browser's language preference determines which version of the site you'll see.)

What Joe said



We'd like to welcome Joe, Graham, and the rest of the JotSpot team to Google. They've truly pioneered do-it-yourself application publishing, enabling anyone from individuals to small businesses and large enterprises to use wikis for online collaboration. Since we're just getting started on a long and exciting road in online collaboration for both consumers and our enterprise customers, joining forces with the JotSpot team comes at a great time.

After all, information created by a single user becomes exponentially more valuable when it's shared and combined with information from other people or places. We've been tackling this step by step for awhile now, including enabling people to move their calendars, photos and documents onto the web -- unlocking them from one PC or one piece of paper to open up a wide range of possibilities for working, planning, socializing, organizing, and so on.

Please stay tuned, and we'll tell you more as soon as we can.

Spot on



OK, I can finally blurt it out: JotSpot is now part of Google, and I couldn't be more excited.

Three years ago my friend Graham Spencer and I set out to start a new company. We'd both recently left Excite, which we co-founded, and we had spent a few years starting a nonprofit together. We brainstormed scores of ideas, debated late into the night and ultimately exchanged a mountain of email and documents. We realized we needed a tool to help us organize our thoughts or we'd quickly become overwhelmed. So Graham set up a wiki. I was hooked because it immediately changed the way we worked together. Everything was kept in one place, not locked in email threads or on different computers. We could both make changes to the same document, without having to know HTML (well, without me having to know HTML). After twenty minutes of using a wiki, I was convinced that they were like the Internet in 1993 -- useful, but trapped in the land of the nerds (which both Graham and I proudly inhabit). So we set out to start JotSpot as a way to bring the power of wikis to a much broader audience.

As we built the business over the past three years Google consistently attracted our attention. We watched them acquire Writely, and launch Google Groups, Google Spreadsheets and Google Apps for Your Domain. It was pretty apparent that Google shared our vision for how groups of people can create, manage and share information online. Then when we had conversations with people at Google we found ourselves completing each other's sentences. Joining Google allows us to plug into the resources that only a company of Google's scale can offer, like a huge audience, access to world-class data centers and a team of incredibly smart people.

Our first order of business is to move JotSpot to Google's software architecture. While we're doing so, we've turned off new registrations. But if you're interested, sign up for our waitlist and we'll keep you posted.

Finally, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the support, feedback, grumbles and praises of our users and customers. Thank you. That's the only way great products are built.

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Domino Effect



A good viral video sets off a chain reaction that continues until nearly everyone has seen it, including your mom. The mad scientists known as EepyBird know a thing or two about chain reactions. They first rocketed into viral video fame by turning the explosive act of mixing Diet Coke and Mentos into an art form. Today they're back with a chain reaction like none other: 500 liters of Diet Coke and 1500+ Mentos, all triggered by the pull of one string.

Don't miss The Domino Effect -- a Google Video exclusive. In addition to being very fun, it demonstrates another interesting application of our Sponsored Video program -- this time with user-generated content. This helps producers like EepyBird earn revenue by pairing them up with our advertising partners.

We're excited to help compensate these independent producers for their creativity, and we can't wait to see who the next stars will be. If you have very compelling videos and are interested in this program, please get in touch.

Friday, October 27, 2006

This year's CodeJam



What took 6 weeks, required sizzling brainpower, and drew a global audience of programmers? The fourth Google CodeJam, that's what. More than 21,000 coders from 100 countries registered in early September and have competed two rounds (they could code in Java, C++, C#, Python or VB.NET). Today was the grand finale, which just ended at our New York City office. The 100 finalists convened in New York to play this last round together. Screens glowed, fingers flew, and gears spun. Our top three winners are:
Petr Mitrichev, Russia - $10,000
Ying Wang, China - $,5000
Andrey Stankevich, Russia - $5,000
Additional cash prizes went to all the finalists, who represent 24 different countries. (Here's the full release.) This is the fourth annual Global Code Jam, which we produce in conjunction with TopCoder. Our best wishes, congratulations and thanks to everyone who celebrates the joys of coding.

Update: Ying Wang is studying in the U.S., but comes from China.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

About those outages on Blogger



You might have noticed some unexpected downtime on Blogger this week -- here's the story.

On the alert for bloggers



So many interesting blogs and so little time! If you're anything like me, you like to pick and choose what posts you read on any given blog. You may only want to read a post about a topic of your interest, or perhaps you only want to read blog posts by a particular writer or two. Hence the new Blog Alert, which notifies you about new blog search results. We've also added a Comprehensive Alert, which can show results from multiple sources (including Google News, the web, and blogs) so you get fuller information whenever your favorite topics appear online. Here are a few examples to get you going:

-- You want to know when anyone blogs about global warming.

-- You like to track all Google mentions on Slashdot.

-- You're a bit obsessed with chocolate recipes on food blogs.

-- You need to know when RottenTomatoes covers Will Ferrell.

-- That well-known search pundit John Battelle seems to have a lot to say.

And now, it's your turn to make some of your own.

Scary stories



“I was never kinder to the old man than during the whole week before I killed him.” -- Edgar Allen Poe, The Tell-Tale Heart.
Some people dress up in wacky costumes (like us), others carve pumpkins or stay home to pass out treats (my personal favorite is the fun-sized Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate bars – yum). To help get you in the Halloween spirit, we’ve gathered some of the best classic spine-tingling tales you can find in Google Book Search. At google.com/scarystories, you can rediscover spooky classics like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, as well as explore less well-known tales like Thomas Hardy’s Victorian ghost story, "The Withered Arm".

Whenever you see a "Download" button, you're free to download, save, and print a PDF version to read at your own pace. If you decide you want a bound copy, the "All editions" link will show you multiple editions, many of which are available to buy.

We hope exploring these classics helps make your Halloween special -- maybe even keeps you up for a night or two. Please note that some of these books may not be in the public domain everywhere in the world. Where copyright status is in question, we do not enable Full View access or downloading.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Do you "Google?"



Q: What do zippers, baby oil, brassieres and trampolines have in common?

A: No, the answer isn't that they're all part of the setup for a highly inappropriate joke. In fact, the above list (along with thermos, cellophane, escalator, elevator, dry ice and many more) are all words that fell victim to those products' very success and, as they became more and more popular, slipped from trademarked status into common usage.

Will "Google" manage to avoid this fate? This year has brought a spate of news stories about the word's addition to the Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English dictionaries, an honor that's simultaneously highly flattering and faintly unsettling. Consider, for example, this passage from a New York Times story published last May:

"Jim sent a message introducing himself and asking, 'Do you want to make a movie?'" Mr. Fry recalled in a telephone interview from his home in Buda, Tex. 'So we Googled him, he passed the test, and T called him. That was in March 1996; we spent the summer coming up with the story, and we pitched it that fall.'"
Now, since Larry and Sergey didn't actually launch Google until 1998, Mr. Fry's usage of 'Google' is as distressing to our trademark lawyers as it is thrilling to our marketing folks. So, lest our name go the way of the elevators and escalators of yesteryear, we thought it was time we offered this quick semantic primer.

A trademark is a word, name, symbol or device that identifies a particular company's products or services. Google is a trademark identifying Google Inc. and our search technology and services. While we're pleased that so many people think of us when they think of searching the web, let's face it, we do have a brand to protect, so we'd like to make clear that you should please only use "Google" when you’re actually referring to Google Inc. and our services.

Here are some hopefully helpful examples.

Usage: 'Google' as noun referring to, well, us.
Example: "I just love Google, they're soooo cute and cuddly and adorable and awesome!"
Our lawyers say: Good. Very, very good. There's no question here that you're referring to Google Inc. as a company. Use it widely, and hey, tell a friend.

Usage: 'Google' as verb referring to searching for information on, um, Google.
Example: "I googled him on the well-known website Google.com and he seems pretty interesting."
Our lawyers say: Well, we're happy at least that it's clear you mean searching on Google.com. As our friends at Merriam-Webster note, to "Google" means "to use the Google search engine to find information about (as a person) on the World Wide Web."

Usage: 'Google' as verb referring to searching for information via any conduit other than Google.
Example: "I googled him on Yahoo and he seems pretty interesting."
Our lawyers say: Bad. Very, very bad. You can only "Google" on the Google search engine. If you absolutely must use one of our competitors, please feel free to "search" on Yahoo or any other search engine.
Thanks for your attention, and we look forward to serving your search-related information needs again soon.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Google Earth voter guide



The 2004 election saw a big rise in voter participation, particularly among the young generation. From my perch at Rock the Vote, I believe one reason the trend is finally moving in the right direction is the rise of such Internet tools as online voter registration. So I jumped at the chance to tell you about the new U.S. Election Guide in Google Earth.

If you’ve already turned on the guide as a layer in Google Earth, you might already have noticed the patriotic stars now adorning the U.S. map. There’s one for every congressional district. Click on the star and it opens a set of links to useful voter tools. First, you can click to register to vote. I love this because so many people still think that in order to register, you need help from a government employee or political activist. Wrong. You can register yourself to vote by getting your forms online and sending them in by mail. Spread the word!

Second, there are links to news, web and photo searches for candidates for the U.S. House and Senate races on November 7. Now, I think a squirrel could figure out which way to go on our presidential candidates and political parties. But an educated vote does require some Google searching, especially when candidates try so hard to blur the differences.

This is a promising direction for Google and I hope it’s the start of something big. I’m looking forward to the day when voter participation tools are ubiquitous online -- and for those of you with any inclination to get involved, there’ll be nothing standing in your way.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Eureka! Your own search engine has landed!



Wouldn't it be cool if you could easily build a search engine on your blog or website tailored to the topics and areas you know and love the most? You're not alone if you'd like that -- we've heard from partners large and small, and users across the web who want access to the Google search platform, and want to customize and make it their own.

We're thrilled to tell you that the search for your own search engine is over. Today we are launching the Google Custom Search Engine. As you might imagine, it's a simple and straightforward product to use and understand. In a matter of minutes you can create a search engine that reflects your knowledge and interests; looks and feels like your own; and, if you choose, you can make money from the traffic you receive through Google's AdSense program. You can even invite your friends and trusted community members to add to and help build your search engine.

Finding specific information has never been so easy, and there's no programming knowledge or cost involved. We worked with a few initial partners to demonstrate the power of the customization features. Check out the search engine RealClimate.org built to better connect their users to the environmental science information they are looking for. Intuit created a search engine for their JumpUp.com site, finding that it met the needs of their small business customers. But the Custom Search Engine is not just for businesses. Since Shashi is passionate about wine, he created a "wine search engine" and put it on his wine blog so his friends can search for wine-related topics from there.

You can build a Custom Search Engine on any topic you like. Give it a try.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The rebirth of cool



Have you ever been involved in a project that you've seen evolve from an idea to a work in progress to a full-fledged product? I just had that experience with mobile.google.com. If you visited that URL yesterday, you would have seen some pretty basic information presented in a fairly simple format. Today you'll find a streamlined layout and some new ways to learn about Google's mobile offerings. Want to take a live test run of the traffic feature on Google Maps for mobile? Or maybe figure out how to stay on top of your Gmail using your phone? We've included video tutorials or emulators for every service or application, and we've designed the pages in such a way as to make it easy to learn more about the mobile offerings you're interested in. You can even have Google send a link to your mobile device via a text message that will help you start using Google mobile services with just a few clicks. You just enter your mobile number on the desktop version of mobile.google.com and we'll text you the link.

My favorite part of the site is probably the Google SMS demo. I think this SMS search is one of the coolest out there, and I'm always urging my friends and family to give it a try. The demo shows you firsthand just how useful and easy to use SMS is, with more than a dozen sample queries to try out and a search box for typing in your own. In fact I'm playing around with it now -- did you know that you can use Google SMS to get the address of an Ethiopian restaurant in Chicago, the exchange rate for dollars to baht, a weather forecast for Wamego, Kansas, or the score of the latest MLB playoff game?

Anyway, if you haven't already, head over to this new improved site and give it a whirl. And as always, don't be shy about sending us feedback -- we're always looking for ways we can make it even better.

Heading to the X Prize Cup



Heading to the desert to watch rockets launch and jets fly is fun all by itself. Doing it as part of an outdoor space exposition, with multimillion dollar prizes to help accelerate space development, is even better!

I'll be going to the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup in Las Cruces, New Mexico this weekend and it promises to be a blast! It turns out the XPRIZE Cup organizers are using Google Earth to share all kinds of information about space. Models of spacecraft and space stations, locations of launch sites, space centers all over the world, and even the locations of the moon trees (from seeds taken to the moon during Apollo).

Not only that, but we have helped create a 3-D model of the X PRIZE Cup event in Google Earth, or you can watch this video.

If you're coming to Las Cruces, come to the Google booth, where we will demonstrate the Google Earth content in person. Or see it now at this special Google page dedicated to what's happening at the Wirefly X PRIZE Cup.

Space is the final frontier, and many of us here at Google would like to join the adventure. Besides, if these X PRIZE events are successful, we may finally be able to go to space ourselves and take some of our own satellite photos for Google Earth!

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Eric and the NAE



Eric Schmidt was formally inducted as a member of the National Academy of Engineering this past Sunday at the National Academies building in Washington, D.C. Upon receipt of this well-deserved honor, Eric was warmly greeted and high-fived. Congratulations, Eric -- your Googlers are proud of you!

Looking for Google Talk stories



Wanted: Stories about how you use Google Talk. Details here.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Corporate solar is coming



Epic games of beach volleyball, urban indoor workspaces infused with natural light, enthusiasm for the outdoors – at Google, we've always taken advantage of the sun. And now we're ready to use the sun yet another way: to create clean electricity.

Soon we plan to begin installation of 1.6 megawatts of solar photovoltaic panels at our Mountain View campus. This project will be the largest solar installation on any corporate campus in the U.S., and we think it's one of the largest on any corporate site in the world. The panels will cover the roofs of the four main buildings of the Googleplex, and also those of two additional buildings across the street. There will also be a portion of this installation on new solar panel support structures in a few parking lots. The amount of electricity that will be generated is equivalent to powering about 1,000 average California homes. We’ll use that electricity to power several of our Mountain View office facilities, offsetting approximately 30% of our peak electricity consumption at those buildings.

To tackle this ambitious project, we're partnering with EI Solutions. The installation of clean and renewable power represents a first step in reducing our environmental impact as a company. We believe that improving our environmental practices is not only our responsibility as a corporate citizen, but good business planning -- a new report from the North American Electric Reliability Council suggests that demand continues to outstrip power supply by a considerable margin. And of course by saving electricity (not to mention producing clean renewable energy), we also save money. In fact, we believe this project demonstrates that a large investment in renewable energy can be profitable.

If the business community continues to increase investments and focus on energy efficient and renewable power generation technologies, we have a good feeling that our future will be bright. If you're interested, visit the Solar Electric Power Association.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Maps in the Palm in your hand



Since we first launched Google Maps for mobile devices, we've adapted it to more phones and languages and added features like traffic info. And as of today, the new Palm Treo version answers our top request from users. It's been months in the making, but I think you'll find it worth the wait. We think this is the fastest, slickest version yet, with draggable maps and translucent pop-up balloons that don't hide the map.

If you don't read English, you'll have to wait some more.

There are two ways for Treo users to download Google Maps: visit google.com/gmm on your Treo's web browser, or you if you prefer, download and HotSync® here.

And by the way, the "Do not operate while driving" caution is deadly serious. Please be mindful of pedestrians, bikes, cars, and trees -- not messages and keyboards.

Music for your eyes



As you might guess, we think free is always better, so we've just announced major partnerships with two of the world's largest music companies -- Sony BMG and Warner Music Group -- to bring thousands of music videos to Google Video via free, ad-supported on-demand streams. And as per our recent announcement with MTV, in the coming months our AdSense partners can put all these great videos on their sites as well.

So now if you're at work, get charged up for that important meeting with a Red Hot Chili Peppers video. Or if you're at home getting ready for a night on the town, you can bring sexy back with Justin Timberlake –- or pretty much anyone else who floats your music-video boat.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Teacher's helper



Create picture collages of famous Americans with Picasa. Find out what Virginia newspapers had to say about the Civil War in 1862 with Google News Archive Search. Check out the pyramids in Egypt with Google Earth, and then build your own with SketchUp.

We’ve been hearing about some pretty cool assignments from classrooms across the U.S. where teachers at all grade levels are using Google products to bring history lessons to life, illuminate new sources of information, and encourage sharing and collaboration. What we’ve also heard loud and clear is that teachers want more information about using Google products, and more connections to other educators who are using the web creatively. This is why we’ve launched a set of resources for K-12 educators today at the new Google for Educators site. Here you'll find teachers’ guides for 12 Google products, including basic information about each, examples of how educators are using them, plus lesson ideas. We’re also offering some additional multimedia content, including lesson plans and videos from Discovery Education that use Google Earth and SketchUp, and a series of podcasts at Infinite Thinking Machine on innovative ways to use the web in the classroom.

So please, teachers, students, and parents -- check it out and let us know what you think. And remember, we've made it impossible to forget your homework when it’s saved safely on Google Docs & Spreadsheets.

Better together: Docs & Spreadsheets



Did you ever notice that some things are just better together? For example, vanilla ice cream: on its own, it's good, but throw some strawberries or chocolate jimmies on it and all of a sudden you've got something truly tasty. I've noticed this combo superiority effect quite a lot lately because, well, I'm pregnant with twins (there's a bit more on our official D&S blog.)

This idea of superior combos is also how I think of the new Google beta service that we've just launched. We took Writely, the Web word processor, and integrated it with Google Spreadsheets. The result is Google Docs & Spreadsheets -- one place where you can create, store, share and publish your documents and spreadsheets online. (Bookmark this: docs.google.com.) Keeping your documents and spreadsheets online is a treat because you can access them from anywhere via a Web browser. You can also get feedback and contributions from others you invite without having to email around copies of files, because the current version is always online.

Get a taste of the Google Docs & Spreadsheets combo with our mini tour. Really, though, the best way to get a flavor is to sample it for yourself. Anyone can use it -- after you log in just click on the links for New Document, New Spreadsheet, or Upload(lets you upload your desktop files) to get going. Help yourself and let us know (via this new D&S Google Group) what you think.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Score one for the Sun Devils



As Arizona State University (ASU) gears up to go against USC this weekend, they've already scored a touchdown on campus this week. Today ASU announced that it's making Google Apps for Education available to all of its 65,000 students. Our free hosted email, IM and calendar offering should be a boon for students who need to collaborate on the latest Econ assignment (or plan their tailgate before the game). ASU went for a two-point conversion by using our APIs to integrate Google Apps with their single sign-on system (students only have to log on once to access all their school-related applications and student records system), so that admins can give students an @asu.edu email account when they register for classes. In all, it took ASU less than two weeks from decision to full-scale deployment -- a truly inspired play.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Greetings, Earthlings!



On October 14th and 15th, the sleepy desert town of Moab, Utah wakes up to a buzz of excitement. It's not an alien landing and it's not killer bees. It's 24 Hours of Moab, a day-long mountain bike race starting at noon this coming Saturday and ending at noon on Sunday.
And Google will be there! We're team Google Earthlings, five Googlers who love mountain biking. We're not pro riders. In fact, none of us have ever competed in a 24-hour race before, so we don't expect to win ... but we do expect to have a good time and make some noise about Google Earth and Blogger to more than 5,000 riders and spectators!

Sound sweet? Head on over to our team blog and check out our ride reports, rants, and musings, as well as some demos of the really cool stuff you can do with Google Earth.

Gonna be at the race? Swing by our Expo Tent where we'll have laptops running Google Earth so riders can upload their own GPS data and see their home trails in 3D. And, if we can manage to capture an internet signal way out in the middle of the desert, we'll have a couple laptops with Blogger as well, encouraging riders to post their pics, lap times, and ride reports to a team blog. Of course, it wouldn't be a Google event without fun schwag -- we'll be giving away water bottles, blinky pins (we'll be the brightest riders on the course!), T-shirts, and some SketchUp socks. After the race, we'll update the blog with pics and stories, so stay tuned, and see you at the race!

P.S. This is not a fake post.

Inside Macs at Google



As a relatively new Mac user, I've found that I can't get enough of Mac stuff. I eagerly await Apple's next announcements, and scour the web for hints of what that could be. There are a lot of people who love Macs at Google, and we're really excited to contribute to the Mac OS X platform. I know how frustrating it is to not get a regular dose of Mac news or find the Mac application you want. So check out the new Google Mac Blog to get all the news, tips, and insider stories about Macs at Google. Another site you might want to visit is www.google.com/mac. Created by Ryan Brown, an engineer on the Mac team, this site showcases all of the Google applications for the Mac.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

About that fake post



A bug in Blogger enabled an unauthorized user to make a fake post on the Google Blog last night, claiming that we've discontinued our AdWords click-to-call test. The bug was fixed quickly and the post removed. As for the click-to-call test, it is progressing on schedule, and we're pleased with the results thus far.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Our security stance



Most readers of this blog are familiar with our mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. Maintaining the trust of our users and ensuring a positive experience using our products and services is paramount to our ability to accomplish our mission. As a result, Google takes security very seriously and designs all of its services and applications to protect your privacy and data security.

Behind the scenes of these efforts is the Google Security Team. We keep the bad guys out of our systems and have brought you features like the anti-phishing extension in Google Toolbar and warnings about Internet malware. As part of our commitment to security, we're putting up some additional help content to let users and security researchers know how to quickly contact us on these issues.

We've learned that when security is done right, it's done as a community, and this includes everybody: the people who use Google services (thank you all!), the software developers who make our applications, and the external security enthusiasts who keep us on our toes. These combined efforts go a long way toward making the Internet safer and more secure.

Please visit our new security page and feel free to contact us anytime at security@google.com.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

More developer love with Google Code Search



Today we launched Google Code Search, which gives programmers a single place to search publicly accessible source code. I am really excited about this launch, as it caps off a long sequence of Google product launches for developers in the past year, including Google Maps API v2, Google Calendar API, Google Web Toolkit, Google AJAX Search API, Google Checkout API, project hosting on Google Code, Google Base API, and Google Gadgets for Your Page. Google's developer team is focused on building tools that help developers extend and improve Google's products and improve their own applications, and we are really excited to see all the amazing things that have been created already (traffic map for your Google homepage, anyone?).

The success of the Google Maps API taught us that an API doesn't need to be complex to be powerful, and that principle has formed the basis of our API design. If you haven't seen how far cut-and-paste can get you, check out the list of sample applications we've published for the AJAX Search API. Or check out the Google Calendar API examples; to get a feed of your calendar entries, you just need to fetch a single URL from Google's servers.

We have also launched a number of general-purpose developer and open-source tools like Google Web Toolkit and project hosting on Google Code. Our view is what's good for the web is good for Google -- we want users to have the best online experience possible, and we hope these tools will help developers create compelling applications for their users.

So if you haven't been to Google Code lately, check it out. We are continuously adding useful tools to our suite of developer products, and it's a great way to leverage the power of Google's infrastructure in your own projects.

Got blog? Will ping.



Today we're launching the Google Blog Search Pinging Service, which is a way for individual bloggers and blog platform providers to inform us of content changes. Blogging providers who syndicate RSS/Atom/XML and want to be included in our Blog Search index can now ping us directly. We'll continue to monitor other pinging services and will contribute change notifications to the community. Read more at our FAQ.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The new Groups experience



Today, the Google Groups team launched a new beta version, available to anyone at groups-beta.google.com. It may have been awhile since you thought of Groups as cool or sexy — if you ever did — but I couldn’t have been more excited to work on the team responsible for making the current Google Groups better. As a designer, I really relished the opportunity to make a Google product that’s been around for years more compelling and easier to use.

One of the things I'm happiest with in the beta version is the new design for individual groups. It’s cleaner and simpler, and yet manages to integrate a lot more features. Group owners can now create a welcome message, upload a group logo and customize your fonts and colors. You can make your group your own, in other words — something you had been telling us you really wanted.

Another thing I'm particularly proud of is the Pages feature, which lets you create web pages inside your group, and work on them with others. Instead of only offering rigid templates, we integrated many of the functions of Google Page Creator right into Groups, so you can create exactly what your group needs: an essay for school, the history your family, a web page with photos, a list of links, and so on.

Some of the other improvements to Groups include:
Of course, the current non-beta version of Google Groups is still around and you can still use it (although without the cool new features). But we are going to change all of Groups to this new look soon enough — we’re even trying to (gasp!) take it out of beta reasonably quickly. So try out the new version for yourself. And let us know what else we can do to make the experience even better.

Accessible Search now has advanced search features



Ever since we launched Google Accessible Search in July, one of the most oft-requested features has been the addition of advanced search capabilities similar to those available on the main Google Search page. In response, we've added an advanced search link at http://labs.google.com/accessible in order to refine your searches in various ways. The order of results will continue to take the accessibility of the search results into account.

Here are the types of advanced queries you can perform:

  • restrict search to portions of a page, e.g., the title
  • restrict search to results in a given language
  • restrict searches to web pages found during a given time period
  • restrict searches to content in a given file format
And a lot more that won't fit on the margin of this page --- for complete details, see our Advanced Search Tips.

The Literacy Project



In India, a country saddled with one-third of the world's literacy problem, there are nearly 300 million people who are illiterate and 400 million who have only a rudimentary knowledge of the alphabet. That's 700 million people who cannot read even a newspaper headline.

As I wrote in December, PlanetRead employs Same Language Subtitling (SLS) to give subconscious reading practice for 30 minutes a week to more than 200 million early-literates in India, operating via 10 TV programmes in 10 languages. We’re hoping to take this project internationally, as well as collaborate with literacy organizations in other parts of the world. That’s why we’re so excited about The Literacy Project -— the initiative announced today by Google, the Frankfurt Book Fair literacy campaign (Litcam), and the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. (There's also a German version of the Google page.)

The project enables people to find everything -- from videos, books and scholarly articles about literacy to reading groups and literacy-related blogs. PlanetRead is one of the many organisations that is contributing. We’ve uploaded our subtitled videos (take a look!) and are sharing our own literacy research. And the site’s map of world literacy organisations also make it easier for us to connect with partner agencies who want to make literacy a way of life for everyone on this planet.

The idea that others around the world will be able to see what we’re doing —- and in turn, that we’ll be able to see what other people are doing and saying about literacy -— is thrilling, and at the very heart of PlanetRead’s mission to make its projects available to everyone. With each new person that we reach, we come one step closer to solving this truly global problem.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Yes, you can have a pony



It's crazy over here -- in the last few months, we've had thousands of gadgets submitted for the Google Personalized Homepage. If you've used it, you've seen them -- those useful little units you can add, remove, and move around on your page. We have old-school games, clocks, calendars, and horoscopes. We've got a VAT calculator. We've got a pony.

We've extended these gadgets to work on Google Desktop and Google Pages, but it occurred to us that these would be slick on other people's web pages, too.

Today we're opening up our gadget inventory for your viewing and cloning pleasure. In other words, now you can copy and paste some simple HTML to add the Google Gadgets you like to your own webpage. Check out our directory of Google Gadgets for your webpage to see all the options. And as always, if you can't find one like the one you had in mind, you can always write a gadget yourself.

Create web apps on top of Google search



We just launched a new version of the Google AJAX Search API, which is designed to make it easier for webmasters and developers to do two things:
  • Add a search box to your site that displays Google Web, Video, News, Maps, and Blog Search results without taking users to a separate page.
Read more about this release on the Google AJAX Search API Blog.

Discount with Checkout



Here's another way it pays to use Google Checkout: there's a $10 bonus on purchases of $30 or more at participating stores.