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The definition of "googol" is a number, and Google lives by numbers. So how else should we look back over the year but with numerical bits? Here goes: This post marks the 294th time this year you're reading a post from us -- that's nearly 100 more posts than in 2005. In the last 12 months, we unveiled 24 new products here. We wrote up 128 product upgrades, new features and how-to-use-it items. We told you about 7 acquisitions. We blogged about policies or issues 23 times, on subjects including Google in China, how Book Search works, click fraud, and Net Neutrality. Google.org yielded 7 posts, and 29 times we said various services are available in many countries and languages. Then there was a pug, Google's custom It's It, our compelling matchmaking service, and a nearly-cosmic Stardate.

More for the numerically inclined: 7.6 million unique visitors generated nearly 15 million pageviews this year. Aside from the U.S. and UK, readers come from India, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and the Netherlands. Which sites send us the most readers? The top non-Google referrers this year are the influential Digg.com and Slashdot.

But we didn't just hope that readers would come to us. We also launched company blogs in China, Japan, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Poland, and Russia (and more are coming in 2007). We also launched AdSense-specific blogs for publishers who speak Dutch, German, Portuguese and Spanish. Product teams also started up quite a roster of new blogs covering everything from Custom Search Engines to Google Book Search to our Mac and Enterprise endeavors. If you want to keep current with nearly 40 corporate blogs we now publish, here's the Atom feed, the Google Reader share option, and the OPML file (English language blogs only).

Which posts caught your eye? Apart from the front page, these were among the most popular:
It wasn't all fun, though; there was the time the blog disappeared. (Of course, that was before the recent Blogger revamp.) But even if real-time, all-too-human goof-ups make it a bit harrowing on occasion, the fact is a company blog is the fastest way to reach out. So we hope you continue to enjoy the rich stew we aim to serve. And before long, perhaps you can begin leaving comments directly. We're working on that. Meanwhile, our very best for a satisfying 2007 to you and yours.

Update: Clarified the fact that the number of posts increased by 100 over a year.

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The Zeitgeist is "the spirit of time." This is why when we come up with the lists of top searches on Google.com for 2006, we do not simply retrieve the most frequently-searched terms for the period -- the truth is, they don't change that much from year to year. This list would be predominated by very generic searches, such as "ebay", "dictionary", "yellow pages," "games," "maps" -- and of course, a number of X-rated keywords. These are constants, and although unquestionably popular, we don't think they actually define the Zeitgeist.

Instead, we looked for those searches that were very popular in 2006 but were not as popular in 2005 -- the explosive queries, the topics that everyone obsessed over. To come up with this list, we looked at several thousand of 2006's most popular searches, and ranked them based on how much their popularity increased compared to 2005. ("Bebo", for example, had very little traffic in 2005.) We also gave a bit higher score to searches with more traffic. Similarly, our "what is" and "who is" lists are not necessarily the absolute most frequent searches, but rather those that best represent the passing year.

A final note: there was some confusion over the use of descriptors like "most popular" and "fastest-gaining" in media reports about our Zeitgeist. We've edited the 2006 Year-End Zeitgeist description to be more accurate on this point: "we compared frequent queries this year against 2005 to see what sorts of things were top of mind."

We hope you enjoyed our year-end Zeitgeist as much as we enjoyed working on it!

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From time to time, our own T.V. Raman shares his tips on how to use Google from his perspective as a technologist who cannot see -- tips that sighted people, among others, may also find useful. - Ed.

Google Maps and its associated local search is a quick and easy means of locating businesses and obtaining directions. Most people who use it already seem to enjoy the graphical interface with its extremely reactive GUI. But when using spoken output, this visual richness can get in the way of quickly listening to the results of a maps query.

As an alternative, Google Maps also provides a simple to use a textual interface that serves up directions very efficiently when working with a screenreader or a Braille display. This alternative view into Google Maps is here, at the Textual Maps UI (http://maps.google.com/?output=html). It's extremely useful for blind and visually impaired users, as well as an effective solution for those times when you're at a non-graphical display and need to quickly look up a location.

Just type a simple English query of the form start address to end address and quickly get the information you're looking for. Though we added this option to enhance the accessibility of Google Maps for blind and low-vision users, perhaps others will find this alternative view a useful addition to their maps arsenal.

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As you know, every Christmas Eve Santa Claus gets busy on his tricked-out sleigh, soaring around the globe to deliver presents to (presumably deserving) children the world over. This year, even if you don't have a reindeer team of your own, you can use the Google Earth Santa Tracker (That's earth.google.com/santa.) Follow along on every step of Santa's travels with Donner, Blitzen, and of course Rudolph, in all their 3-D satellite glory. And to all a good flight -- er, night!

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Blogger has always been the easiest-to-use blogging software around, but it just got way more powerful. We've added a bunch of new features, which you can check out in the new version:
  • You can add stuff to your blog (cute cat photos, lists, feeds) without needing to know HTML.
  • You can also make a completely unique template that has just the color scheme you want, without knowing any CSS.
  • Don't want your mom to read your thoughts? Make a private blog.
  • Label your posts, to group related ones together.
  • Use one of our new templates.
  • You can now sign in to Blogger using your Google Account.
Naturally, this is still a work in progress, and more exciting features are in the pipeline. Try it out and send your feedback!

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Since the debut of the new transparent Sidebar in Google Desktop 4.5, we've been working to make it widely available outside of the English-speaking world. We're finally done, and now you can get it in any of 28 languages. And just in time for the holidays, we've added several holiday themed gadgets. More details are available on the Google Desktop Blog.

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From time to time, our own T.V. Raman shares his tips on how to use Google from his perspective as a technologist who cannot see -- tips that sighted people, among others, may also find useful. - Ed.

Since we launched Google Accessible Search in July, we have received lots of feedback along with many questions. I'll briefly summarize these with answers.

Q: Does Accessible Search filter out inaccessible content?
A: No. First of all, "accessible" is a very subjective measure; what's more, queries can vary widely with respect to how accessible the results are. As an example, if you are looking for information such as weather forecasts or reference material, like the definition of an unfamiliar term, the set will often consists of both accessible and inaccessible content. In these cases, Google Accessible Search promotes those results that have been measured to be more accessible. On the other hand, if the particular query is about videogames, the chances are fairly high that a majority of the best results for that query will be visually busy pages. So in the final analysis, we do not filter content in Google Accessible Search; we pick the best results exactly as we do with regular Google search, and then re-order the top results by their level of accessibility.

Q: The result set looks identical to regular search. Is this intentional?
A: The operational word in the above question is looks. Google Accessible Search does not in any way change the look and feel of Google search results. What it does is re-order results based on how accessible they are.

Q: How has Google enhanced navigating its search results?
A: Since Google Accessible Search launched, many people have sent feedback about the results page (both Google Accessible and regular search) being difficult to navigate with screenreaders. In response, we have updated the results pages in both cases to have section headers that can be used in conjunction with screenreader hotkeys to quickly skim through the page. Thus, once Google has responded to your search query, use your access technology's "move by section" keys to move between the section that displays sponsored ads and the individual results.

Q: How can I perform more complex searches?
A: Notice that http://labs.google.com/accessible has a link to Advanced Search in addition to the simple text box. Use this link to focus your search on documents in a specific language. The resulting search will continue to use Google Accessible Search for ordering the results.

Q: How can I compare regular search with Google Accessible?
A: Google Accessible Search is an experiment, and to be an effective experiment, people need to be able to easily compare the results obtained by using regular Google search versus Google Accessible. Notice that the top of the results page contains a pair of radio buttons labeled "Web Search" and "Accessible Search." You can easily repeat your search by pressing the appropriate radio button and clicking on the "submit" button.

Q: How can I make my site rank higher in Accessible Search?
A: Use our Webmaster Guidelines as a starting point. Once you've fully addressed these, I'd suggest reviewing your content to see how well it degrades gracefully. In addition to viewing the page in text-only mode (as the Guidelines suggest), also try the following additional checks:
- browse your site on a monochrome display;
- use your site without a mouse.

Update: Corrected to note that we *do not* filter Accessible Search content.

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As part of our ongoing effort to connect people to information about the world -- or perhaps le monde, die welt, el mundo -- around them, I'm pleased to tell you about the addition of a new team to Google. Today we acquired Endoxon, an Internet mapping solutions company based in Lucerne, Switzerland.

The Endoxon team has demonstrated passion and innovation in online mapping and has developed compelling technology that will enhance our Google geo products worldwide. We're also excited about having a dedicated team in Europe that can bring a distinctively European focus to our Maps products in those markets.

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We launched Google Apps for Your Domain at the end of August, and since then we've been getting great feedback from people all over. Organizations from Thailand, Argentina, and even our neighbors in Palo Alto have set up private-label Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, and spiffy customizable start pages for their custom domains. We think it's especially cool that thousands of students are able to connect better with their classmates -- and their schools' IT directors no longer need to wring their hands over spam and clogged inboxes.

"Hey, wait, Costin," you say. "That's great for them, but our organization doesn't have a custom domain."

Well, I'm excited to let you know that we've made signing up for Google Apps for Your Domain much easier for those of you that don't yet have your own domain. We've partnered with GoDaddy.com and eNom, two leading domain registration services, to offer domains for $10 per year. And I like the fact that we're including private registration to protect your personal information.

Now you've got one-stop shopping for all the services currently on the Google Apps for Your Domain platform -- just find a domain, buy it, and get started. We'll do all the behind-the-scenes configuration work for you. For now this is available for .com, .net,.org, .biz, and .info domains, but we're working on bringing it elsewhere soon. We're also constantly working to introduce more cool new features to this service, so be sure to check back for updates.

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What’s a holiday without the memorable (and embarrassing) photos? The holidays are almost here, which (at least if you’re in my family) means babies chewing on presents, the dog dressed in a ridiculous reindeer costume, and someone (cough, Uncle Charlie) passed out after too much eggnog. Although I think about this now and wince in advance, I know that I’m going to want to capture these moments and more importantly, share them with the rest of my family and friends. That’s why I’m excited about the new features we’ve added to Picasa Web Albums, just in time for the holidays.

Print ordering is my favorite—it’s something you have told us you've wanted since we first launched. Now, when you or anyone else views photos in Picasa Web Albums, there’s an option to order prints directly from the site. We currently offer prints and products from Shutterfly and PhotoWorks, but we’ll be adding more soon.

Other new features include video upload for easy sharing (it’s just like with photos—select them in Picasa and click the “Web Album” button) and searching tools. Now you can search over your own captions, album titles, and album descriptions, and you can even search for photos in your friends’ public albums. Digging up that picture of me trying to figure out which end of the holiday turkey is "up" should be easier than ever.

So check out these new features before all the festivities start. And however you celebrate the holidays this year, I hope you’ll take lots of pictures.

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We've all heard about the Wright brothers, Thomas Edison, and Alexander Graham Bell -- famous inventors whose creative minds changed the course of history. But there are many more like them, and millions of inventions that have been patented in the U.S. alone -- from useful everyday items such as adhesive tape and contact lenses to, er, things useful in specific situations, like this shark protector suit or this amusement device incorporating simulated cheese and mice.

Today, we're excited to be releasing the beta version of Google Patent Search, which makes it easy to search the full text of the U.S. patent corpus and find patents that interest you. Start your exploration at www.google.com/patents or visit the Advanced Patent Search page to search by criteria, including patent number, inventor, and filing date. You can view images of original patents online.

Google Patent Search uses much of the same technology that powers Google Book Search, so you can scroll through pages and zoom in on text and illustrations just like you can with books.

It's a natural extension of our mission to make this public domain government information more easily accessible using Google’s search technology. We’re pleased to have started with over 7 million patents granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and look forward to expanding our coverage over time.

Update: Removed mention of saving and printing as we're still working on that.

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This year, good old St. Nick has learned a new trick: he has dispatched a few of his most experienced elves to squirrel away some toys in the farthest corners of Google Earth. Every day from now until Christmas Eve, a clue will appear outside Santa's workshop leading to another toy -- and every day, the location of the previous day's toy will be revealed.

Ready to scour the earth and find your first toy? Once you've got the newest version of Google Earth installed, let's get started.


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Ever since the latest version of the Google Toolbar for IE came out, Firefox users have been asking when they'll see the same new features in their favorite browser. Well, we've been hard at work on a new version of the Toolbar for Firefox -- Google Toolbar 3 Beta -- that lets you access your bookmarks from any computer, add custom buttons to your Toolbar, and share web pages via Blogger, Gmail, and SMS.

In addition to adding all the features from the Google Toolbar for IE, there's another one just for Firefox users. When I surf the web, I want to be able to look at all the files I come across right in my browser. But a lot of times, I have to download files and view them with a separate application instead. Since Google Docs & Spreadsheets launched, I've been able to look at those files right in my browser. Except the process is kind of clunky right now: I have to right-click on a link, download the file to my machine, and then upload it to Google Docs & Spreadsheets. I want to be able to just click on a link to a document or spreadsheet and have it show up in my browser. So I added a feature to the Google Toolbar for Firefox to do that.

Now you can surf the web a little bit faster. I hope you enjoy this feature as much as I do!

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We work hard to attract and retain the world's best talent in a number of ways, and a part of that is offering competitive compensation packages. We offer standard things such as competitive salary, cash incentives, restricted stock units and stock options. But we also aim to be innovative. So today we're announcing a new compensation program called Transferable Stock Options (TSOs).

As with most employee stock option programs, Google's program to date has allowed employees to do two things with their options. Upon vesting they can (1) hold them or (2) exercise them and then hold or sell the stock. With the new TSO program, employees will have an additional alternative: they can transfer (sell) their options to a financial institution through a competitive bidding process. The ability to sell options is not a novel concept -- today people can buy and sell options to purchase GOOG stock and the stock of many other companies on the public markets. What is novel is that we are extending this ability to trade options to employee stock options.

Typically, employees get value from stock options by exercising them after vesting, and then selling the stock they get from the exercise at a higher price, provided the company's stock price has appreciated since the time of grant. With the TSO program, employees will also be able to sell vested options to the highest-bidding financial institution, which may be willing to pay a premium above the difference between the exercise price and the market price for Google stock (even when the exercise price is higher than the market price). The premium paid is for the time value of the options. More on that and how institutions would do this, and why, is here.

Employees will still have the choice of simply exercising and then holding or selling the stock too. But if they choose to sell the options, they can use a simple online tool that will show them the best price a participating financial institution is willing to pay for their vested options in real time. With that tool, they'll be able to sell their vested options to the highest bidder.

In addition to increasing the value of every option employees receive, the TSO program makes the value of their options much more tangible. In the past, employees typically valued Google stock options based simply on the difference between their option exercise price and the current market stock price (called the intrinsic value). Since Google grants options with exercise prices that are at, or above, the market price of Google stock, many employees do not value options on the day they are granted. By showing employees what financial institutions are willing to pay for their options, it is made clear that the value of their options is greater than just the intrinsic value.

We aren't offering this program for everyone or for all stock options. Google Executive Management Group (EMG) may not participate, and only employee stock options granted after our IPO are eligible. We should also note that we've discussed this program with the SEC and we'll ensure it complies with applicable securities laws.

We've chosen Morgan Stanley to manage the auction of these TSOs between our employees and the multiple bidders, and we are working with multiple financial institutions to participate as bidders in the auction. We expect to have this program up and running in the second quarter of 2007.

If you're wondering how this would work for employees, here is an example scenario. There's more about the related accounting here. And for answers to other questions, we've put together an extensive Q and A.

(You'll notice some legal language below, and at the bottom of all the related information we link to. We're including that because we will file a registration statement with the SEC as a requirement of offering this program, and we want to help you find all of the information related to this registration statement.)

Google may file a registration statement (including a prospectus) with the SEC for the offering to which this communication relates. Before you invest, you should read the prospectus in that registration statement and other documents Google has filed with the SEC for more complete information about Google and this offering. You may get these documents for free by visiting EDGAR on the SEC Web site at www.sec.gov. Alternatively, Google will arrange to send you the prospectus after filing if you request it by calling toll-free 1-866-468-4664 or sending an e-mail to investors@google.com.

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Google Web Toolkit
(GWT) is all about making the web a better place by making it easier to create web apps like Gmail or Google Maps. So today, we're excited to tell you that we're releasing all the source code for GWT under an open source license. We've been working hard to build great tools for AJAX development, and now we're happy to begin working with the open source community towards the same goal. The folks who are passionate about AJAX can contribute to the project and make this toolkit even better.

If you're curious about how to add some AJAX goodness to your site, see if the Google Web Toolkit is right for you.

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The Google Finance team has been working hard since we launched 6 months ago. Here's a short animation describing what's been keeping us busy. Just in case your sound is off (and we don't have subtitles :-) ), here's what's new:
  • A new homepage design which lets you see currency information, sector performance for the U.S. market, and a listing of top market movers along with the relevant and important news of the day.
  • A Top Movers section highlighting most active companies by price, market cap, volume, and popularity as determined by our own Google Trends.
  • More comprehensive charts, which now display up to 40 years of data for U.S. stocks.
  • Richer portfolio capabilities that let you import other online portfolios to Google Finance, use different views and add transactions to make it easier to track your investments.
  • A quick and easy way to add and view your Google Finance portfolios on the Google Personalized Homepage.
So check out the new features on Google Finance, and let us know what you think.

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Every once in a while you come across a piece of technology that instantly grabs you and you can't stop saying "Oh my god!" When I bought my 12" Mac Powerbook, for instance, just opening the box was an experience. Each item was laid out perfectly -- everything I pulled out was well designed from the power connector with the glowing ring to the pulsating light next to the latch that made it look like it was breathing.

I recently went to the Tech Museum Awards, and one of the laureates, Mohammed Bah Abba, had created a refrigerator that requires no electricity -- basically uses two clay pots with wet sand in between them. This device helped keep food fresh longer in poor rural areas in Africa. And the group FogQuest uses these big meshes that collected potable water from fog (yes, the white stuff that hangs around in the air) for people in Central and South America. Simple, elegant technologies that have a huge impact to help with basic human needs.

Due in large part to the community of people who use Google Earth, it has also become one of those technologies. Having worked on it for almost 7 years, you would think the magic would have worn off for me by now, but amazingly enough, it hasn't. Every once in a while we add a new feature -- and it's like I was looking at it for the first time. Hours pass by without me noticing.

The new Geographic Web layer we released today is one of those features. We've taken the rich data of Wikipedia, Panoramio, and the Google Earth Community and made a browsable layer in Google Earth. Now you can fly anywhere in the world and see what people have written about it, photographed, or posted. I went hopping around from the southern tip of South America to the mosques in the Middle East to the Maldives Islands, immersed in a wealth of information, and I really felt like I was visiting each place through eyes of people who had been there. It was really engaging to compare, say, the Grand Canyon through the photos in Panoramio to the view from Google Earth, where I could follow the Colorado River through each.

To experience this for yourself, all you need to do is start Google Earth and explore the world. As of today you will see new icons -— the Wikipedia globe, the Panoramio star, or the information “i” of the Google Earth Community —- so just click on any of them to explore information about a place. You can also easily turn it off in the Layers panel on the lower left.

This is by far one of my most favorite layers we've ever done, and I really hope you enjoy it. To use our founding group's tagline, Happy travels!

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Have you been waiting to share your photos on Picasa Web Albums in a language other than English? We don't want you waiting a minute longer, so today our team in Santa Monica is very happy to give you the ability to create web albums in 18 additional languages: English (UK), English (US), Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Taiwanese, and Turkish. If you've already got a Picasa Web Albums account in English, click the "Settings" link to change your language.

For the fastest and easiest uploading to Picasa Web Albums, get Picasa. If you don't use Windows or you have another photo management tool, use your browser to upload your pix. Either way, your photos will be easy to arrange in a clean, uncluttered web gallery where you can add captions and share them. Take a look at our test gallery to see what it looks like.

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Dr. Anita Borg (1949-2003) devoted her life to revolutionizing the way we think about technology and dismantling the barriers that keep women and minorities from entering the computing and technology fields. As part of our ongoing commitment to Anita’s vision, we're pleased to announce the 2007 Google Anita Borg Scholarship. A group of women undergraduate and graduate students studying in the U.S. will each receive a $10,000 scholarship for the 2007-2008 academic year. The selected scholars will also be invited to attend an all-expenses paid trip to our Mountain View headquarters.

Tell your friends or apply yourself – the deadline for U.S. applications is Monday, January 15, 2007.

And this year, we're also pleased to expand the scholarship program to women students in Europe. These recipients will each receive a €5,000 (or equivalent) scholarship for the 2007-2008 academic year, and are invited to a retreat at the Google office in Zurich, Switzerland. Applications for the Google Europe Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship are due Friday, January 12, 2007.

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 women wishing to pursue an engineering degree. Here's a bit of testimony from two Anita Borg Scholars who have since joined us:
"I remember mailing in my application by FedEx overnight because I had decided to apply at the last minute and I really didn't think I had much of a chance. I'm glad I applied because through the scholarship, I met some amazing women who became good friends of mine. I got a chance to go to the Grace Hopper conference for Women in Computer Science and probably the most important thing I learned from the experience is nothing ventured, nothing gained."
-- Rose Yao, Associate Product Manager, and 2004 Anita Borg Scholar


"One of the greatest things about the scholarship is the opportunity to meet other women and form a network -- I have kept in touch a lot of the other women that received the scholarship the same year and over the last 2 years this has been invaluable to me. These are women I can rely on and even though we don't see each other frequently, the bond we formed is strong."
-- Gaby Aguilera, Software Engineer-Testing, and 2004 Anita Borg Scholar

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As I indicated in my post last week, I've been interested in the issue of health care and health information for a while. I just spoke at a conference about some of the challenges in the health care system that we at Google want to tackle. The conference, called Connecting Americans to Their Health Care, is a gathering focused on how consumers are transforming health care through the use of personal health technologies.

This speech will give you some insight into the problems that we believe need our attention. There are, of course, other challenges in health care that we plan to work on, and we'll share more information with you about the solutions we're trying to develop as this work advances.

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Mary Himinkool, New Business Development

When Google Talk launched, we expressed our commitment to open standards in the belief that real-time communication should be as open as possible. We hoped that people would have their choice of service provider, but still be able to chat with other networks using their preferred client. With our support for XMPP federation, hundreds of services are connecting to Google Talk via this open standard.

Today, we're excited that IBM is announcing support for XMPP with the release of Sametime 7.5. This means that Google Talk and Lotus Sametime IM users can simply invite one another to chat, bringing together enterprise and personal IM users around the world. If you use Lotus Sametime at the office and have colleagues who use Google Talk, now you can chat with them. Similarly, if you're a Google Talk business user you can now add professional contacts who use Lotus Sametime to your Friends list -- just some of the benefits of interoperability.

It's great to see such momentum around open communication. With so many networks supporting XMPP you can now chat with your buddies on LiveJournal, various universities, at home, and, of course, at work. Welcome, IBM!

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From time to time, our own T.V. Raman shares his tips on how to use Google from his perspective as a technologist who cannot see -- tips that sighted people, among others, may also find useful. - Ed.

In the information age, currency of information has high value. As someone who cannot see, I find having to skim many different news sites to stay caught up even more difficult than the average web user. As in most things, off-loading some of this work to the machine is the answer, and what better machine to offload the work to than Google News.

In addition, finding relevant news stories through Google News helps me navigate directly to the news story on the originating site. Even if the originating news site is itself visually complex, Google has done most of the hard work of surfing that site and getting me to the content I need to read. Combined with Google News finding and grouping related stories on a given topic, this is an especially effective way of staying informed.

Here are some of the ways I use Google News: For topics I regularly search for, I create Atom feeds that search topics on Google News and subscribe to them via my blog reader (Google Reader). Here is the Atom feed for locating news articles on XForms. For topics on my watch list I create Google News alerts. In addition, Google News provides feeds (RSS or Atom) for popular groupings of articles. I subscribe to the feeds for Business and Technology using Google Reader.

Together, all of the above provide an effective means for me to stay caught up -- I'm usually done with all my news reading during my 40-minute daily commute to work on the Google shuttle. In addition, note that Google News also provides a Mobile version that is very speech-friendly. For the most part I use the main Google News site, primarily because news stories of interest are mostly textual, but if some of the stories come from visually complex news sites, I often hand those off to the Google wireless transcoder so that it can present me the story in a form that is more amenable to being spoken out aloud.

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Like many college seniors, I spent the fall of my senior year in somewhat of a tailspin trying to figure out what to do next. My friends and I considered the usual options: grad school, i-banking, gigs with tech companies and consulting firms. And then there was Teach for America (TFA), an organization dedicated to eradicating educational inequity by enlisting thousands of elite college grads to teach in under-resourced schools. I joined TFA in 1995 and went from college student to inner-city first grade teacher (of 36 students!) practically overnight. Teaching was, without a doubt, the most challenging and the most rewarding job I have ever had.

TFA continues to be a popular destination for college grads today. Since the mid-90s, its enrollment has more than tripled and its applicant pool has quadrupled. As a Googler and former TFA'er, I was thrilled to hear that Google is partnering with TFA to provide two-year deferrals for students who receive offers from both institutions. Now bright, idealistic college grads don't have to choose between two exciting and worthwhile career opportunities. Our partnership enables college grads to get real-world experience and to bring the insight and experience they gain in the classroom to bear in their work at Google. By joining forces, Google and TFA will be able to attract individuals who are capable of the hard work, commitment, and creativity it takes to teach and to be a Googler.

Visit www.google.com/jobs/teachforamerica to find out more about this great program.

Update: Corrected author attribution.

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You might have noticed from our homepage that today is World AIDS Day. We want to remember all those who have suffered from HIV/AIDS in the 25 years since it was first identified, and we want to support everyone working to eradicate this scourge: Today, there are about 40 million people living with HIV worldwide, and it is increasing in every region in the world. In Africa, it is the leading cause of death -- 5,500 Africans die each day from this insidious disease.

One effort that is making a difference is (RED), a company founded this year by Bono and Bobby Shriver. A percentage of the profits from each (RED) product sold is given to The Global Fund. We are supporting the (RED) effort by offering promotional support to (RED) and (RED) products on Google properties throughout the holiday season.

We hope you choose to support them with your purchases. Companies offering (RED) products have committed to contribute a portion of profits from the sales of that product into Global Fund-financed AIDS programmes in Africa.

Together, let's make a big difference. Read more at JoinRED.com or visit the (RED) blog.