Friday, August 31, 2007
Many Google products (Google.com, Blogger, Google Earth, and others) currently support more than 170 languages, from Abhazian to Zulu. Translations into most of these languages are done by volunteers from around the world who are eager to help people view and search the web in their own native language. To facilitate how we go about getting these languages, we created a volunteer translation program: Google In Your Language.
Anybody can sign up as a volunteer translator by visiting the Language Tools page and then clicking on the Google in Your Language link. After verification, you'll be offered a list of products to translate, including the main search site, Gmail, iGoogle, Google Maps, and many others
Although the amount of translation for each project is not overwhelming, it usually takes weeks for an individual volunteer to finish translating one site. Once a reasonable percentage of translations for Google pages in a given language is submitted, we'll add your language to production and, after a bit of time, you'll be able to see them in yet another language.
Some "volunteer" languages are well represented and are nearly finished being translated, i.e. Armenian, Estonian, Slovenian are 95% complete; even Latin has 70% of its translations done. Representatives of other languages are not as active, i.e. Abhazian has been available for several years, but so far we don't have enough translations completed to release it into production. Tibetan, Inupak, Inuktikut, Wolof, Zhuang all have less than 10% of their content translated. Interestingly, each of those has more speakers than Faroese, which has 74% of texts translated.
Recently we have added a bunch of new languages to the Google In Your Language program, including Navajo, Filipino, several Russian Federation languages (Avaric, Chechen, Chuvash, Komi), and some African languages (Akan, Bambara, Gikuyu, Kongo, Ndebele, Ndongo, Nyanja, Venda). Our hope is to attract even more volunteers to participate in this program so that Google can speak all the world's languages one day.
In April we launched Google Desktop for the Mac to further our goal of delivering great products on the Mac and making them universally available on all platforms. A big thanks to all of you for using Desktop for the Mac, and for sharing your feedback. Today we're tackling the second part of that "universal" goal: now Google Desktop for the Mac is available in 9 more languages: Chinese Simplified and Traditional, Dutch, UK English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. There's more on this on the Desktop for Mac site.
We look forward to lots more of you trying it and sending us feedback from all over, and in different languages. We hope you like it, and encourage you to watch for more updates from our Google Mac team.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
For homeless people and others in need, not having a stable phone number can be crippling: you need one to follow up on medical appointments, keep in touch with friends and loved ones, and hear back from prospective employers.
When we acquired GrandCentral Communications last month, we were pleased to embrace their Project CARE initiative, which provides a permanent local phone number and unlimited voicemail service to people who need a way to stay connected.
GrandCentral has been operating Project CARE ("Communications and Respect for Everybody") since April 2006, and with the help of more than 20 community outreach partners has provided more than 5,000 phone numbers and served close to 100,000 voicemail messages to homeless and needy people in the Bay Area. Someone calling a number from Project CARE will have the same experience as someone calling a standard phone number, and voicemail messages can be stored as long as they're needed.
A big part of Project CARE has been GrandCentral's participation in San Francisco's Project Homeless Connect events. Every other month, these gatherings bring service providers like GrandCentral together with volunteers at an all-day fair to provide services to the homeless. In fact, there's an event today, starting at 8:30 AM (PDT) at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. If you're in San Francisco, please stop by our booth or even volunteer.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Last month, we invited you to join the Gmail collaborative video, pull out your video cameras and help us imagine how an email message travels around the world. Two Rubik's cubes, a few jaunts in a bottle, beautiful sand animation, and one dog's trip to the Southernmost point of the continental US later, we'd received more than 1,100 fantastic clips from Gmail fans from more than 65 countries. It was impossible to fit all of the great submissions into one cut, but after hours of fun watching jugglers, firemen, camel-riders, and original animation, we edited highlights together into this video and used the Google Maps API to put together a map showing where many of the clips came from (you can also see these at http://mail.google.com/mvideo):
View Larger Map
A big thank you to everyone who participated -- your creativity is astounding!
We're very pleased to tell you that the Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is no longer in beta as of today's release of GWT 1.4. For Java developers who have used GWT to create high-end web applications over the last year, this may not seem all that surprising. But if you haven't yet heard the story behind GWT, this seems like the perfect time...
Technical details aside, GWT makes it easy to develop fast, friendly web apps that users love — which is, after all, the point.
Download GWT 1.4.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Our Mountain View WiFi network just celebrated its first anniversary, and we thought you'd appreciate a few data points. The network's 400+ mesh routers cover about 12 square miles and 25,000 homes to serve approximately 15,000 unique users each
Around the globe and across the U. S., many people are still not able to access the online services that are increasingly helpful, if not essential, tools for our daily lives. This is why we're committed to promoting alternative platforms for people to access the web, no matter where you are, what you're doing or what device you're using.
For those who have been following the effort to create a free wireless network in San Francisco, we continue to hope that EarthLink and The City will find a way to enable all San Franciscans to enjoy the free WiFi network they deserve. On a broader scale, we hope that the success of the Mountain View model will encourage others to think creatively about how to address access issues in many other communities.
Update: Corrected usage from "week" to "month."
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
It's true: astronauts have a great view! When I was orbiting Earth in the space shuttle, I had the unbelievable experience of being able to float over to a window and look back down at our planet, then off into space at the stars. Absolutely spectacular!
These days my feet are closer to the ground, and my mission doesn't involve circling the Earth. I run a science education company, Sally Ride Science, that creates entertaining science materials for elementary and middle school students and classrooms, so I'm always looking for cool tools that can engage kids and help them learn more about our world. Sky in Google Earth is great, and we plan on using it in some of our programs. (Read more on the Google Lat Long blog.)
As you can probably tell from the video I did on Sky with a Google engineer, I always loved astronomy. I even put together (OK, with the help of some folks at Sally Ride Science and Google) a special KML showcase of some of my favorite extra-solar places -- nebulae where stars are born, remnants of exploding stars, and even a bunch of stars that have ... planets orbiting around them! (No, scientists haven't found any like Earth yet.)
If you know any kids or teachers who like astronomy, send them to Sky (the resource page is a good start) -- and tell them to check out the Sally Ride Science KML feature.
Monday, August 20, 2007
When your friends and well-intentioned acquaintances tell you that you've made a mistake, it's good to listen. So we'd like to say thank you to everyone who wrote to let us know that we had made a mistake in the case of Google Video's Download to Own/Rent Refund Policy vs. Common Sense.
To recap: we decided to end the Google Video download to own/rent (DTO/DTR) program, and are now refocusing our Google Video engineering efforts. The week before last, we wrote to Google Video DTO/DTR program customers to let them know that videos they'd already bought would no longer be playable.
We planned to give these users a full refund or more. And because we weren't sure if we had all the correct addresses, latest credit card information, and other billing challenges, we thought offering the refund in the form of Google Checkout credits would entail fewer steps and offer a better user experience. We should have anticipated that some users would see a Checkout credit as nothing more than an extra step of a different (and annoyingly self-serving) kind. Our bad. Here's how we're hoping to fix things:
- We're giving a full refund -- as a credit card refund -- to everyone who ever bought a video. We'll need you to make sure we have your most recent credit card information, but once we know where to send the money, you'll get it.
- You can still keep the Google Checkout credit that you've received already. Think of it as an additional 'we're sorry we goofed' credit.
- We're going to continue to support playing your videos for another six months. We won't be offering the ability to buy additional videos, but what you've already downloaded will remain playable on your computer.
We appreciate your responses, and hope our actions convey just how seriously we take everyone's feedback.
Keeping up with the spirit and celebrations of India's 60th year of Independence, we present to you a new platform that showcases our favourite ideas for Indian users: Google India Labs. Enthusiastic bloggers noted our initial announcement on 15th August; now here's the full story.
Though 60 years young, India has a history dating back to the dawn of civilization. The incredible diversity of this great nation is the kind of challenge Google loves. And in line with our mission of making information universally accessible, we're now offering an easier way to search in 14 Indian and South Asian languages. You don't need a special keyboard or software; all you need is a web browser, a mouse, and a Unicode font for your language. So whether you speak অসমীয়া (Assamese), বাংলা (Bengali), ગુજરાતી (Gujarati), हिंदी (Hindi), ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada), മലയാളം (Malayalam), मराठी (Marathi), नेपाली (Nepali), ଓଡ଼ିଆ (Oriya), ਪੰਜਾਬੀ (Punjabi), संस्कृतम् (Sanskrit), සිංහල (Sinhala), தமிழ் (Tamil), or తెలుగు (Telugu), we can help you find content on the web in your language. To get started, add one or more of these iGoogle gadgets to your personalized iGoogle home page. You can use these gadgets to compose queries, and ask Google to search the vast Internet in your very own language.
We've really enjoyed bringing these products to you, and we're eager to hear from you. There is a new user community for discussion around our new technologies, and we'll keep adding new things to our Labs page, so please visit us often.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Happy 60th birthday, India! We can't wait to celebrate, but we're going to wait a few days for the formal unwrapping of our gift to Indian users. Check back and we'll have news shortly.
Friday, August 10, 2007
We're always experimenting and testing ways to deliver relevant and new kinds of ads, and as part of that, we recently started running a test of an ad serving technology that will help us understand online ad serving better, and allow us to experiment with some new approaches to privacy for third-party ad servers. The privacy features we'll test in these experiments follow some recently-announced policies, such as a shorter expiration date for the cookie set on your computer and anonymization of the logs data after 18 months.
In our ad-serving tests, we're introducing an opt-out mechanism so people can opt out of the test ad-serving cookie if they wish. In addition, we’re going to experiment with ways the industry could provide improved transparency for consumers and providing users with additional controls over the data gathered by ad servers. Some of the ideas we're exploring include:
- using "crumbled" cookies, so that the data typically associated with one unique identifying number or "cookie ID" will be broken up among multiple different cookies and diffuse the ad history of individual users;
- providing better forms of notice within ads, to help users understand who is serving the ads they see, and what data is being collected; and
- giving users the ability to provide feedback to us about the ads they like and don't like.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
As someone who tests Google products daily, I know that the simplest solution is often the one that works best. In the case of online storage, whether it's a picture, a video or an email, you should just, well, be able to store it without having to worry about whether you've got enough space in each particular product. That's why the Picasa team is pleased to tell you that in a few hours we'll be rolling out extra storage that you can purchase to use across several Google products (today, Picasa Web Albums and Gmail; soon, other applications like Google Docs & Spreadsheets). That will help make storage really useful, like letting you upload lots of full resolution images to Picasa Web Albums.
When you reach the limit of free storage (i.e., 1GB for Picasa Web Albums, 2.8GB for Gmail), consider this your overflow solution. Plans start at $20/year for 6GB (yes, $5 cheaper than before), with larger plans ranging up to 250GB. If only testing everything were this easy. We'll update this post as soon as we're ready to take your order.
Update: And we're live! To buy more storage, go here.
We work hard to keep our search results as fresh as possible so that they reflect the most up to date content on the web. However, given the immense medium the Internet is, it's hard to find all those pages that have just come into existence and make them available when people come looking for the latest information on new topics, whether it's a highly anticipated cell phone launch, news about a popular celebrity or the latest political maneuvers. What makes providing the latest information harder is the small amount of time we have between the page creation and when we'd like to serve those results to you.
Despite these challenges, one thing should not be hard: finding the freshest results on the page. To make it easier for you to spot the newer pages among the search results, we are now going to tell you how long ago we've seen a page containing what we think you're looking for.
For example, if on August 6th you were searching on Google.com for latest financial information following the Friday financial sector action, here's how that result would have looked in the past:
From this you could only see that we crawled this page at a day level granularity. But now when you do this search you will also be able to tell how long ago we noticed this page, so you can quickly pinpoint which of these is results is likely to contain more recent information. Here's the same example showing the annotation that tells you there's something new in the results we've seen recently.
So if you're looking for the most recent content on the web, this change should make it easier to find. And if you're a webmaster looking to tell us about all the new content on your site we haven't looked at yet, check out our support for sitemaps.
Reducing climate change by saving energy is an important effort we should all join, and that's why we're very glad to see the innovative thinking going into a variety of solutions. One idea, suggested by the site called "Blackle" (which is not related to Google, by the way, though the site does use our custom search engine), is to reduce energy used by monitors by providing search with a black background. We applaud the spirit of the idea, but our own analysis as well as that of others shows that making the Google homepage black will not reduce energy consumption. To the contrary, on flat-panel monitors (already estimated to be 75% of the market), displaying black may actually increase energy usage. Detailed results from a new study confirm this.
As computers become a bigger part of more people's lives, they will consume an increasing amount of energy, which is why we've invested so much in making our data centers efficient and we've joined with others to launch Climate Savers Computing, which has a goal of reducing total power consumption by more than 50% for all computers by 2010.
There are some things you can do now to reduce the energy used by your computer, such as:
- turn on the power management features. Virtually all computers today have the ability to switch into low-power modes automatically when they're idle; very few computers have this capability enabled! Here's how to do it on computers running Windows XP.
- turn off your monitor and computer when you're not using them
- turn down the brightness on your monitor
- make sure your next computer meets the efficiency standards of Climate Savers Computing (an efficient computer uses up to 50% less energy than a conventional one)
- to find the most efficient PCs available today, look for the words "EnergyStar 4.0 compliant."
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
This video runs about 5 minutes, so we couldn’t cover everything. Over time, we hope to create additional videos where we talk about other privacy issues: what data do we collect when you register for a Google Account? or - when you search on Google while you’re logged in? or - why does Google keep server logs? But before we head down the road of sequels, we’d like to get your feedback on whether you find this video format helpful. So please watch it and tell us what you think. We look forward to hearing from you.
Monday, August 06, 2007
You'll often hear members of our open source team say, “Every time you use Google, you’re using Linux.” It’s absolutely true. Check a Google engineer’s workstation, and you’ll probably find it's running Linux. Do a search on Google.com, and a Linux server will return your results. Ever since Google got its start, Linux has given us the power and flexibility we need to serve millions of users around the world.
In turn, we feel a strong responsibility to the Linux community, and we’re always looking for creative ways to put our resources in the hands of Linux developers. That’s why today we became a licensee of the Open Invention Network (OIN), an innovative patent-sharing organization founded to create a legally protected environment for anyone who works with Linux.
The concept behind OIN is simple. All OIN licensees, including participants such as IBM, Oracle, NEC and Sony, agree to cross-license their Linux-related patents to the others free of charge. Patent issues therefore become a much smaller concern inside the community, and OIN members can focus their energy on writing and releasing software rather than vetting their code for intellectual property issues. It's the legal equivalent of taking a long, deep breath.
For us, today’s announcement marks the latest development in a long, fruitful relationship with the open source community. The Google Summer of Code program has trained over 2,000 students as open source developers, many on Linux-related projects. We continue to fund external projects and host events like the Ubuntu Developer Summit and the Linux Foundation Innovation Summit. Hundreds of Googlers are submitting patches to Linux, and we’ve open-sourced over a million lines of code.
We believe Linux innovation moves fastest when developers can share their knowledge with full peace of mind. We’re proud to participate in an organization that’s making that possible, and we look forward to seeing OIN grow and thrive.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Go back in time with me to last Friday morning. It's 4:30 a.m. I am standing in a parking lot, watching 11 Googlers and friends adding finish decorating the mini-vans and loading coolers filled with Gatorade and snacks. We're planning to drive to Blaine (Washington) and then run 187 miles over two days, relay-style, along the coast, finishing on the south end of Whidbey island. In other words, this is the Ragnar Relay, an event that started in Utah 4 years ago, now in its first year in Washington State. Sounds crazy, huh? Fortunately, I'm working with people who consider no idea too outrageous -- not even the notion that running a multi-day relay would be "fun"!
For the next 30+ hours we're on the road, catching naps in mini-vans and exchange points, overcoming challenges of running through summer Washington heat (who knew?) and total darkness (aided by headlamps), enjoying the roads that take us through the farmland (hello, llamas and blueberries!) and near the coast (over Deception Pass just before sunrise). We're ignoring blisters, scrapes, sore knees and ankles to get over the next hill, and another one after, and another one -- where our van is waiting, full of good cheer and ice-cold water. Then we push even harder to get to the exchange point.
We get into Langley, our last town on the route, Saturday afternoon. We wait for the last runner at the finishing line, and cross it together -- tired, sore, and, astonishingly, ready to do it again next year. And that, dear readers, is the story of how some of us spent last weekend.