Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Share your story with the new Google Translate

Today, you may have noticed a brighter looking Google Translate We’re currently rolling out with several changes globally to our look and feel that should make translating text, webpages and documents on the Google Translate even easier. These changes will be available globally within a couple of days.

http://felix-googleblog-archive.blogspot.comWith today’s functional and visual changes we wanted to make it simpler for you to discover and make the most of the Google Translate’s many features and integrations. For example, did you know that you can search across languages on Google using Google Translate? Or that you can translate the incoming email in Gmail or take Google Translate with you on your phone? We’ve added all these tips on the new Do more with Google Translate page. You can also see some of these tips rotating on the new homepage.

We’ve also created an Inside Google Translate? Or that you can translate incoming email in Gmail or take the Google Translate with you on your phone? We’ve added all these tips on the new Do more with Google Translate page. You can also see some of these tips rotating on the new homepage.

We’ve also created an Inside Google Translate page, where you can learn how we create our translations. Is it the work of magic elves or learned linguists? Here Anton Andryeyev, an engineer on our team, gives you the inside scoop:

It’s always inspiring for us to learn how Google Translate enables people to break down communication barriers around the world. Lisa J. recently shared with us how she uses the Google Translate to stay in touch with her grandparents. “I moved to the U.S. from China when I was six,” Lisa told us, “so I speak both English and Chinese fluently but I’m not very good at reading the complex Chinese alphabet.” When she gets an email from her grandparents in China, Google Translate helps her understand the sentences she can’t quite read. She also uses the Google Translate when she’s writing her response. “I use Google Translate to make sure I’m using the right character in the right place,” she explained.

Do you use Google Translate to stay in touch with distant relatives? Read foreign news? Or make the most of your vacation? We’d love to hear from you, and invite you to share your story Google Translate blog. with us. Who knows, we might feature your story on the 

Gmail Priority Inbox

Last year, I posted about a new Gmail feature that will prioritize important messages. This feature will be available soon and it's called the Priority Inbox.

"Priority Inbox is a new view of your inbox that have automatically helps you to focus on your most important messages. Gmail has always kept the spam messages out of your inbox, and now we've improved the Gmail's filter to help you to see the emails that matter faster without requiring you to set up the complex rules. Priority Inbox splits your inbox into three sections: Important and unread, Starred, and Everything else. Messages are automatically categorized as they arrive in your inbox. Gmail uses a variety of signals to predict which messages are very important, including the people you email most and which messages you open and reply to (these are likely more important than the ones you skip over)."


Gmail also adds two buttons that let you classify messages as important or unimportant, just like the "Mark as spam" and "Not spam" buttons. Unlike spam filtering, finding important messages is more difficult because you can't use the information from other accounts to classify the messages.

Google has to build a personalized classifier for each Gmail user and it needs a lot of messages. "Email importance ranking works best for the people who receive a lot of email," explains Google. Google takes into the account implicit signals like the messages from people you frequently email are important, if a message includes words frequently used in other messages you usually read then it's probably important, the messages you star are probably more important than the messages you archive without the opening. There are also explicit signals: click on the important/unimportant buttons, create filters to mark messages as important.

Priority Inbox will be available in the Gmail and Google Apps over the next week, but you'll only see it in Google Apps if the administrator has enabled pre-release features.

Tidbit Gmail uses the "important" label to classify the messages, so that's the reason why you can't create a label named "important".


Friday, August 27, 2010

Google Chrome Labs

Many Google Chrome features aren't enabled by default because they're not ready for the primetime or they're too advanced. Unfortunately, you can't enable them from the interface and you have to use command-line flags.

A recent Chromium build added a new internal page that lets you enable some advanced features: about:labs.

"Tabpose is currently the only lab on the Mac, tabs-on-left the only lab on Windows. about:labs should not be visible on the stable channel. Labs that were enabled on the dev channel should not be enabled on the stable channel."

Tabs-on-the-left is especially useful on the widescreen monitors, while tabposé is a Mac-only feature that adds Exposé for the tabs.

Both features can also be enabled by adding the command-line flags to a Chrome shortcut: --enable-vertical-tabs for the side tabs and --enable-expose-for-tabs for tabposé. After enabling vertical tabs using the command-line flag, right-click on a tab and select the "use side tabs".

Google Tests Centered Layout

Some users report that Google started to test a centered layout for the search results pages. It looks almost like the Yahoo Search, except that the navigation bar isn't properly aligned.

http://felix-googleblog-archive.blogspot.comThe experiment could be related to the "live search" interface that adjusts the results as you type a query. Google's search results could become an extension of the homepage, which already has a centered layout.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Android Market and Piracy

Google has recently released a licensing service for the Android applications that is supposed to make it more difficult to the pirate paid apps. The service is not yet part of the operating system and it works by sending a query to the Google's servers in order to determine if the user has bought an application.

Android Police found that it's quite easy to the circumvent Google's verification, especially if the application's code is not obfuscated. "Because the License Verification Library is not part of the Android OS, an app developer needs to package it with the app that uses it, making it an easier patch target, without requiring root access. (...) The method is so simple, even a novice programmer could write a script to automatically patch most apps."

Google's Tim Bray responded by saying that "the first release shipped with the simplest, most transparent imaginable sample implementation," which didn't focus on security. He recommends developers to obfuscate the code and to use other implementations. Tim Bray also says that "the best attack on pirates is to make their work more difficult and expensive, while simultaneously making the legal path to products straightforward, easy, and fast. Piracy is a bad business to be in when the user has a choice between easily purchasing the app and visiting an untrustworthy, black-market site."

Tim Bray's answer is ironic, if you think about it. Google's Android Market lets you install paid applications only if you are in one of the 13 supported countries. The "legal path" is neither "straightforward, easy, or fast" if you don't live in one of the 13 countries that are supported. Maybe instead of focusing on developing anti-piracy services, Google should add more locations to the paid Android Market.


Make Free Phone Calls from Gmail

Gmail added a long-awaited feature: making the phone calls. If you install the voice and video chat plug-in, you can call phones in the US and Canada for free. You can also call in other countries, but you'll have to pay. Fortunately, Google's rates are really low and the service is cheaper than Skype.

"Calls to the U.S. and Canada will be free for at least the rest of the year and calls to other countries will be billed at our very low rates. We worked hard to make these rates really cheap with calls to the U.K., France, Germany, China, Japan — and many more countries — for as little as $0.02 per minute," informs Google.


If you have a Google Voice phone number (anyone in the US can get one), you can also receive phone calls in the Gmail. Now that Google Voice integrates with the Gmail, a lot more people will use it.

To try the new feature, make sure that your Gmail interface language is set to English (US) and that the voice and video chat plug-in is installed. You get an initial calling credit ($0.10), but unfortunately you can only add the credit if you're in the US.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Orkut Lets You Communicate with Groups of Friends

Orkut, Google's social network that has a lot of users in the Brazil and India, has received a major update. Groups of friends are more visible and you can send messages to the members of a group directly from the Orkut's homepage. Orkut also updated search results pages and the application pages, while testing a new platform for the communities.

There are a lot of changes and it will be interesting to see if the Google tests these features in the Orkut before launching the Google Me, a social network that will compete with Facebook.

One of the major changes in Orkut is the focus on groups. "You love your grandma and you're friends with your boss, but that doesn't mean you want them both seeing the conversation you're having with your friends the day after a party. With orkut, you can now build separate groups of your friends reflecting how you to interact with them in real life." This is one of the ideas from "The Real Life Social Network", a presentation by Paul Adams, Senior User Experience Researcher at the Google.

Google's Rahul Kulkarni mentioned last year that Orkut will change a lot. "The new Orkut adopts the latest Google Web Toolkit platform and includes features such as built-in simultaneous chat, photo tagging with the automatic face detection and private sharing of photo albums including the new safety features. This is the beginning of a new direction for Orkut, where users will be able to increasingly share and communicate with groups of friends from their lives."

Chrome Extensions Can Add New Items to the Context Menu

Chromium's blog announced that extension developers can add the custom actions to the context menu, now that this feature is available in the Google Chrome 6 Beta.

"The new context menu API allows the extension developers to register the menu items for all pages or for a subset of the pages. Developers can also register menu items for the specific operations, like right-clicking on an image or movie. For example, you could create an extension that makes it easy for the users to share interesting images from images.google.com with their friends on the Google Buzz."

Here are 3 extensions that use the new APIs:

* QR Code Generator, which generates a QR code from a web address (right-click on a link, select "Generate QR code" and use the Barcode Scanner for Android or another application to scan the code).

* Imgur Uploader, which uploads images to Imgur.

* TweetRight, an extension that lets you to share images, links, webpages and selected text on Twitter.

You can try these extensions if you use Chrome 6 Beta, Chrome 6 Dev Channel, a Canary build or a recent Chromium build.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Google Calendar Favicon

You might have noticed that Google Calendar has a new favicon that replaces a monthly calendar with a daily calendar.

Google Calendar is not the only Google services that has recently updated the favicon: Google Sites and Google Translate have new shortcut icons and it's likely that many other Google sites will use the colorful images from this page.


Hide Gmail's Links to Contacts and Tasks

Gmail tweaked the interface two weeks ago and many of the users complained about the links to the contacts manager and to the Google Tasks, which are now displayed at the top of the page, above the Compose button. If you rarely use the contact manager and you don't need a task management app inside Gmail, the two links can become annoying.

Google added a small button that lets you to collapse the group of links, but the setting wasn't preserved when you reloaded the page because of a bug. Now you can permanently hide the links to the "contacts" and "tasks".
http://felix-googleblog-archive.blogspot.comIf you ignore the blue bar at the top of the page and you don't click on the "Mail", you'll no longer see the two links. Gmail could add an option to move the horizontal navigation bar below the list of the labels, even as a Gmail Labs experimental feature. I partially solved this problem by enabling the "Quick Links" in Gmail Labs and adding links to the contact manager and to a mail view (is:unread).

http://felix-googleblog-archive.blogspot.comAnother option is to use this userscript that moves the links below the labels. The script should work in the Firefox (Greasemonkey is required), Chrome and Opera.

Apparently, Gmail's links bar is quite important and it's likely that Gmail will add links to the other services. A Google employee detailed its purpose:

"Gmail is home to a few different apps, including Mail, Contacts, and Tasks. The links on the left below the app navigation change depending which app you're using, while the app navigation links remains the consistent so that you can go between apps. If you're in the Contacts app, the big action button becomes the way to add a new contact. We use this button as the way to create things in other products like Google Docs and Google Calendar, too."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Google Image Search Lets You Find More Sizes for an Image

Google Image Search added a feature launched by Bing in March: showing more sizes for each result. If you mouse over an image, there's a new option called "more sizes" that lets you find out other versions of the same image. This is useful if you want to find the higher-quality version of an image or if you want to list all the sites that include a certain image.

Most likely, Google uses the same technology that lets you to find similar images, but restricts the results to images that are almost identical if you ignore the resolution or some minor editing.

A similar service is TinEye, a search engine that finds the different versions of an image you upload. "TinEye is a reverse image search engine. It finds out where an image came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or if there is a higher resolution version."

Upload Picasa People Photos to Google Contacts

Picasa 3.8 makes it easier to upload pictures for your Google contacts. After scanning all the photos from your library and adding name tags to your photos, you can go to the Tools menu, select Upload and click on Upload People Thumbnails.

Picasa asks if "you want to upload and replace all the thumbnail photos from your People Albums to your Google Contacts". If you click on "Upload", Picasa saves the photos to Google Contacts and you can see them in Gmail or in any other application that synchronizes with Google Contacts (for example, Android's Contacts app or iPhone's Contacts app, if you use Google Sync).

If you don't want to upload photos for all your contacts, you can click on one of the people from Picasa's sidebar, right on a photo and select "Set as Google Contacts Thumbnail". You can also enable "Upload people album thumbnails to Google Contacts" from Tools/Options/Name Tags (or Picasa/Preferences/Name Tags on a Mac) to upload the new thumbnails you select in Picasa.

It's strange to see that Google didn't add this option to Picasa Web Albums and that the photos tagged in Picasa Web Albums aren't displayed in the Google Contacts. Google could at least offer the option to pick one of the photos tagged in the Picasa Web Albums when you add a picture to one of your contacts. Right now, you can only select a photo from your public albums. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Google Apps highlights

This is part of a regular series of the Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

Over the last few weeks, we made it easier to find more kinds of the information in Gmail as well as use multiple Gmail accounts at once. Google Docs and Google Sites both added new features, and we released improved tools to move existing data to Google Apps.

Find docs and sites quickly from Gmail

On Wednesday we cooked up our newest Labs feature in Gmail—a more powerful version of Gmail’s search feature. Now, not only can you search for the messages and chats, you can also search for information in the Google Docs and Google Sites from your inbox. This is a big time-saver when you don’t remember where the information you’re looking for is saved. We also recently added the ability to drag attachments from Gmail to your desktop if you use the Google Chrome.

Use multiple Gmail accounts at once

Life is now easier for people with multiple Gmail accounts. With the new multiple sign-in feature, you can toggle back and forth between the accounts, or even have Gmail open in two tabs with different accounts. To learn more about this feature for advanced users, head over to the Gmail Blog.

Improvements to documents, spreadsheets and drawings in the Google Docs

We rolled out a rapid-fire string of useful features for Google Docs over the last couple weeks, including alternate page sizes and resizable tables in documents, spell checking in spreadsheets, and a new curve rendering tool in the drawings. All these features make creating and collaborating with others in real-time on documents, spreadsheets and drawings easier.

New site navigation choices in Google Sites

Google Sites got in on the action this week too, with the ability to add the horizontal navigation buttons, tabs or links to your sites. We also added the option to include a site-wide footer on your pages, and made it easier for the people to open embedded documents in a new tab where users with access can make edits.

App Tuesday: Nine new additions to the Apps Marketplace

For organizations, a key advantage of Google Apps is immediate access to productivity-enhancing innovations from third-party software companies. This month, nine new applications were added to the Apps Marketplace. Instead of struggling with patches and updates each month, Google Apps customers can activate the new functionality with just a couple clicks.

Who’s gone Google?

We have a long list of new customers to share who have recently switched to the Google Apps. A warm welcome goes out to Roberto Cavalli, HÔM Real Estate Group, Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss, Bergelectric, the cities of the Westerville and Wooster in Ohio, as well as the State of Maryland, which will be making Google Apps available to all 1.4 million of its K-12 and higher education students.

If your business or school is ready to “go Google”, we’re happy to report that making the switch is even easier with the new data migration options. In addition to our existing tools to migrate email, contacts and calendar data from Microsoft Exchange, hosted Exchange and Lotus Notes, last week we simplified the process to migrate from IMAP systems and PST data files.

I hope these updates help you or your organization get even more from Google Apps. For details and the latest news in this area, check out the Google Apps Blog.

Google's Implicit Site Searches

Malcolm Coles spotted an interesting change in the Google's ranking algorithms. If your query includes the name of a company, an organization or any name associated with a website, many of the top search results are pages from that site. For example, a search for [apple ipod] returns 7 pages from the apple.com on the first page of the results.

Google confirmed this change: "We periodically reassess our ranking and UI choices, and today we made a change to allow a larger number of the pages from the same site to appear for a given query. This happens for searches that indicate a strong user interest in a particular domain."

Search engines limit the number of search results from a domain to 2 or 3 pages that are usually grouped. The goal is to show diverse results and to prevent the websites from dominating the first page of the results. Showing too many results from the Apple's official site when searching for [apple ipod] is not a good thing because some people might want to read reviews, historical information from Wikipedia, news articles.

Sergey Brin said in an interview from 2004 that it's important to diversify search results:

"I agree that diversity of sources is a desirable goal, and in fact the results naturally tend to be diverse. We do some simple things to increase the diversity. If you check almost any topic, you will get diverging viewpoints. Everyone on any side of an issue will typically complain, though. Environmentalists will say,'Why aren't you showing our results first?' An industrial group will say, 'Why aren't you showing our results first?' They all want to be number one. We think it's good for us to encourage diverse viewpoints, and the search engine presents them. It happens naturally as a response to queries."

Our latest search story: run on

Recently, a group of Google product managers challenged one another to run 100 miles over 30 days in the interest of encouraging the summer fitness. I grew up in Huntsville, AL, where I always loved exercising and experiencing the great outdoors, so I took to the challenge immediately. One hundred and thirty-three miles and a few pairs of new running shoes later, it was an incredible opportunity to push myself further than I’d ever imagined. But, I must admit—it wasn’t easy.

I’m delighted to help and introduce our latest Search Story, Healthy Habits. This is a story of one woman’s journey to get back into the shape. It shows the difficulties of sticking to a workout routine, and the empowerment that comes with reaching—and even exceeding your goals. It highlights the many tools and tricks that make Google a great workout companion, and I hope it inspires you to incorporate new healthy habits into your own lifestyle.

Enjoy this week’s video, and don’t forget to check out the other videos if you haven’t already. Search (and run) on!

Update Aug 20: Some of you may have had trouble watching this video due to "restricted" messages, especially if you're reading this post in a feed reader. We're working to resolve the issue now—in the meantime, you can still watch on the blog itself or directly on YouTube. -Ed.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Google Spreadsheets Spell Checking

Google Spreadsheets added the spell checking, but it doesn't find the misspellings automatically, like in Google's word processor. You need to click on the Tools menu and select Check spelling. Google starts to find the mistakes and suggests corrections from the dictionary. Unfortunately, you can't add words to the dictionary yet and Google's suggestions are sometimes terrible.

"The tool will go through all the cells on your sheet, highlighting each cell which has a misspelled word in red. Words that might be misspelled in each cell are underlined in red and can be changed by clicking on them and selecting the right spelling," explains Google Docs blog.

Google should replace the dictionary-based spell checker with the context-sensitive spell checker that's already used in the Google Wave and Google Search. Instead of using a dictionary, this spell checker extracts data from web pages and Google searches to find a statistical language model, much like Google Translate. This model allows Google to predict the mistakes and to determine the most likely corrections.


On Gmail's Widget for Selecting Messages

Gmail updated the interface last week and many people have complained about the changes. Some didn't like Gmail's new hybrid button for selecting the messages. To select unread messages or starred messages, you need an extra click. Apparently, many Google employees hated this change, as well.

Michael Leggett, Gmail's lead the user interface designer, explains how he came up with this widget:

It IS odd. And yet, both the checkbox and the menu part tested very well in the lab. The people who hated the widget outside the lab also understood how to use it but promised others wouldn't b/c it was so "weird."

We tried a few things (like putting the select actions under "More actions") but I didn't have high hopes for any of them except the widget that have been launched. It tested better than I had hoped (all of the participants in the usability study were able to select all, unread, and none). We launched it to all Googlers months ago and listened to feedback (everyone was able to figure it out... some just hated the change).

More about why the change: The "Select all" link is used by <1% style="font-weight:bold;">I wanted to simplify the interface and give back that space to users.

Since features like "select unread" or "select starred" were used by a lot less than 1% of the users, it made sense to hide them. Power users can always learn how to use keyboard shortcuts and an extra click doesn't mean too much for a feature that's rarely used.

Michael Leggett also says that the link to Buzz will be added at the top of the page, next to Contacts and Tasks, and users will be able to hide the links to service they don't use

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Chrome Web Store and Online Games

1up.com reports that Google Chrome Web Store will be launched in the October and online games will be one of its main attractions. "Set to launch this October, the store aims to make a proper marketplace for the browser games -- one that solves a lot of the issues of games on the web today, from discovery to monetization."

Google's game developer advocate, Mark DeLoura, thinks that it's difficult to find great online games, so Google Chrome Web Store tries to solve this problem by allowing users to rate games and write reviews. Chrome users will be able to install games, which adds shortcuts to the "new tab" page and grants additional permissions to the games. Not all games will be free, but Chrome users can buy games directly from the Web Store and pay using Google Checkout. Google's platform will support free trials and subscriptions, while developers will only pay a 5% processing fee for each transaction.

Will users pay for web apps in Chrome's store? More than half of the Android apps are free13 countries because of Google Checkout's limitations. Android Market doesn't make it easy to find interesting new applications and doesn't recommend other applications based on the ones you've installed. Hopefully, Chrome Web Store will do a much better job than the Android Market. and paid Android apps are only available in

Picasa Web Stats in Google Analytics

Picasa Web Albums has an option that lets you to see the detailed visitor stats for your photos. If you go to the Settings page, you can enable "photo tracking". The only thing you need is a Google analytics for tracking the code.

Picasa Web's help center explains that you need to create a new Google Analytics account (not a new Google account) to monitor the Picasa Web Albums photo traffic. After creating the new account, find the account ID that looks like UA-xxxxxxx-y and enter it in the Google Analytics tracking code box from the Picasa Web Albums. "Once the setup is complete, just sign in to Google Analytics and then click View reports to see visitor stats for your photos. It can take up to 24 hours for the Analytics to detect your tracking code."

A similar option is available for the Google Docs, but only for the published documents. While this feature is useful, it's not very easy to use and it's not properly integrated with the Google Docs and the Picasa Web. Showing simple stats, like the number of the views, the top search queries and the referring websites, in a special section of the Google Docs and Picasa Web would be a much better idea.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gmail's Hidden Groups

In a previous post, I mentioned a trick that lets you to create a Gmail group for the people you to follow in the Google Buzz. The downside was that the group doesn't update when you follow other people in the Google Buzz.

It turns out that Gmail already has a built-in group for the Google Buzz contacts. The group doesn't have a name and it's not displayed in the Gmail's new contact manager, but you can find it in the old version of the Gmail: it's the only one without a name.

Since the group doesn't have a name and it's hidden in the interface, you can't use it to send email messages or to post the private Buzz messages, but you can select all the contacts and add them to another group.

There's also a hidden group for the Google Latitude friends, which includes the people that can see your location in the Google Latitude.

Another group lists all your Gmail Chat/Google Talk friends. Some of these people were automatically added by Google if you didn't disable "Automatically allow people I communicate with often to chat with me and see when I'm online" in the settings.

For those who miss the "all contacts" group in the new contact manager, here's the built-in group that includes both the people you've manually added ("my contacts") and the people automatically added by the Google ("other contacts").

Eric Schmidt On the Future of Search

In an interesting interview for the Wall Street Journal, Google's CEO talks about the future of the search. Eric Schmidt says that there are more and more implicit searches and that Google could have become a virtual assistant that offers suggestions and solves problems without having to define them.

"We're still happy to be in the search, believe me. But one idea is that more and more searches are done on your behalf without you needing to type. I actually think most people don't want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing the next."

As Google knows "roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are", it could suggest the interesting things. For example, if you're using a smartphone, Google could inform you that there are interesting things around you (maybe a bookstore that sells a book you've added to a wishlist).

"The thing that makes newspapers so fundamentally fascinating — that serendipity — can be calculated now. We can actually produce it electronically. The power of individual targeting — the technology will be so good it will be very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them," says Eric Schmidt. "As you go from the search box [to the next phase of Google], you really want to go from syntax to semantics, from what you typed to what you meant. And that's basically the role of [Artificial Intelligence]. I think we will be the world leader in that for a long time."

To better understand queries and to answer questions that were never asked explicitly, Google has to learn more about users and that's one of the reasons why Google struggles to build a successful social services.

Three years ago, Eric Schmidt said that "the goal [of search personalization] is to enable Google users to be able to ask the question such as 'What shall I do tomorrow?' and 'What job shall I take?' We cannot even answer the most basic questions because we don't know enough about you. That is the most important aspect of Google's expansion."

I don't think users "want Google to tell them what they should be doing next", but they probably want a tool that helps them solve problems, even when those problems can't be easily transformed into search queries. A real-word query can be a document, a spreadsheet, a list of words, an image, a sound, a short video, a location and it's really difficult to provide the relevant results without targeting and personalization.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Video Sitemaps: Understanding location tags

If you want to add a video information to a Sitemap or mRSS feed you must specify the location of the video. This means you must include one of two tags, either the video:player_loc or video:content_loc. In the case of an mRSS feed, these equivalent tags are media:player or media:content, respectively. We need this information to verify that there is actually a live video on your landing page and to extract metadata and signals from the video bytes for ranking. If one of these tags is not included we will not be able to verify the video and your Sitemap/mRSS feed will not be crawled. To reduce confusion, here is some more detail about these elements.

Video Locations Defined

Player Location/URL: the player (e.g., .swf) URL with corresponding arguments that load and play the actual video.

The Requirements

One of either the player video:player_loc or content video:content_loc location is required. However, we strongly suggest you provide both, as they each serve distinct purposes: player location is primarily used to help verify that a video exists on the page, and content location helps us extract more signals and metadata to accurately rank your videos.

NOTE: All URLs should be unique (every URL in your entire Video Sitemap and mRSS feed should be unique)

If you would like to better ensure that only Googlebot accesses your content, you can perform a reverse DNS lookup

Responding to the floods in Pakistan

Pakistan has been struck by the worst flooding in its recorded history. The latest estimate of the number of the people affected by the flood exceeds 14 million—more than the combined total of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Critical infrastructure has been damaged over the last two weeks and the clean water is in short supply. As monsoons approach, flooding is expected to the worsen.

Our Crisis Response team has been working to use existing tools and build new ones to help the relief efforts. We just launched a page in the Urdu and English where you can find information, resources and donation opportunities to help the victims of the floods. We’re also donating $250,000 to international and local NGOs to immediately aid in relief efforts. Although we’ve been able to provide the satellite imagery for disasters in the past, cloud cover in Pakistan has prevented us from compiling useful imagery so far. We hope to share imagery as soon as possible.

We’ve already learned a lot about building useful tools from our previous efforts to help with disaster relief. Following the earthquake in the Haiti, a small team of Googlers visited relief aid workers in Haiti to understand how we could further help. In observing and speaking with the relief aid workers, we learned that they needed up-to-date information about available resources (such as which field hospitals have X-ray machines or orthopedic surgeons), their location and contact information. Coordination between various health and the relief facilities that spring up in a disaster zone can be challenging.

Based on what we learned in Haiti, we’ve been working to develop Resource Finder, a new tool to help disseminate updated information about which services various health facilities offer. It provides a map with editable records to help the relief workers maintain up-to-date information on the services, doctors, equipment and beds available at neighboring health facilities so that they can efficiently arrange patient transfers. We normally wouldn’t release the tool so quickly, but decided to make an early release version of the Resource Finder available for supporting relief efforts in Pakistan. This is the first time the tool is being launched during a disaster situation so we’ll be working closely with the NGOs to understand its usefulness and will iterate accordingly.

We’ve also launched Person Finder in both Urdu and English for this disaster. This application allows individuals to check and post on the status of the relatives or friends affected by a disaster. Fortunately, we’ve heard that missing persons has not been as concerning an issue as it was during the earthquakes in the Haiti and Chile, but we’ll leave the application up regardless.

Responding to a disaster of this scale is a daunting task, but we can all do something to help. We will try to do our part and to continue working with the many incredible NGOs to develop tools that help them work more effectively.

Friday, August 13, 2010

How would you advance online free expression?

There seems to be no hotter topic for the discussion among the Internet watchers these days than concerns over online the free expression -- from the role of bloggers in advancing the democratic movements, to sophisticated government censorship, to debates over how best to balance transparency with the national security concerns. YouTube, Google and the Central European University will make our own contribution to the conversation at a major international conference we’re hosting in the Budapest from September 20-22. We've invited grassroots activists, bloggers and vloggers from the five continents, as well as representatives from the NGOs, academia, industry and government to begin a long-term discussion about these issues and to form the international working groups to promote the practical change.

But a conversation about online the free expression would be nothing without contributions from you. From election protests to government whistleblowing to grassroots advocacy, we’ve seen YouTube users upload, watch and share stories that would’ve never received global attention before the Internet era. That's why we're inviting you to submit your own video that answers this question:

"What's the biggest barrier to free expression on the Internet, and what would you do to overcome it?"

You can go to our Moderator series here to submit ideas and videos and/or to vote on your favorite contributions from others around the world.

Please participate by September 7, and we’ll showcase many of your responses at the conference in Budapest later in the month. We’ll also offer highlights from the dialogue on CitizenTube.

YouTube Tests Tag Refinements

YouTube experiments with a new search results page that lets you to refine results by selecting the related tags. For example, if you search for the [race car], YouTube shows a list of popular tags related to your query: #autos & vehicles, #indycar, #cars, #wreck, #car crashes etc. YouTube also shows the list of the tags for each search result.

http://felix-googleblog-archive.blogspot.com/If you click on one of the tags, you'll restrict the list of the search results to videos that have a certain tag.
http://felix-googleblog-archive.blogspot.com/YouTube doesn't use only user-defined tags, some of the tags are video properties (#hd, #fresh), tags used in the comments (#omg, #lol, #wtf, #ftw, #fail, #cute), usernames.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

How Google Translate Works

Google uploaded a video that explains how the Google's machine translation service works. It's fascinating to see how much the Google Translate has improved in the past 4 years and how many Google services are used in it.

Here's the full text of the video:

"Google Translate is a free tool that enables you to translate the sentences, documents and even whole websites instantly. But how exactly does it work? While it may seem like we have a room full of bilingual elves working for us, in fact all of our translations come from computers. These computers use a process called 'statistical machine translation' -- which is just a fancy way to say that our computers generate translations based on the patterns found in the large amounts of text.

But let's take a step back. If you want to teach someone a new language you might start by teaching them vocabulary words and the grammatical rules that explain how to construct sentences. A computer can learn foreign language the same way - by referring to vocabulary and a set of the rules. But languages are complicated and, as any language learner can tell you, there are exceptions to almost any rule. When you try to capture all of these exceptions, and exceptions to the exceptions, in a computer program, the translation quality begins to break down. Google Translate takes a different approach.

Instead of trying to teach our computers all the rules of a language, we let our computers discover the rules for themselves. They do this by analyzing millions and millions of the documents that have already been translated by the human translators. These translated texts come from books, organizations like the UN and websites from all around the world. Our computers scan these texts looking for statistically significant patterns -- that is to say, patterns between the translation and the original text that are unlikely to occur by the chance. Once the computer finds a pattern, it can use this pattern to translate the similar texts in the future. When you repeat this process billions of times you end up with billions of patterns and one very smart computer program. For some languages however we have fewer translated documents available and therefore fewer patterns that our software has detected. This is why our translation quality will vary by language and language pair. We know our translations aren't always perfect but by constantly providing new translated texts we can make our computers smarter and our translations better. So next time you translate a sentence or webpage with Google Translate, think about those millions of documents and billions of patterns that are ultimately led to your translation - and all of it happening in the blink of an eye."

The Old Version of Gmail Will Be Discontinued in September

When Google released a new version of Gmail, back in 2007, you could still switch to the old version by clicking on a link at the top of the page. At some point, the link has been then moved to the bottom of the page, where it's still been available.

3 years after releasing Gmail 2.0, Google decided to drop the old version, which doesn't include the features like themes, Gmail Labs, Gmail Chat, Buzz, hiding labels or multiple file upload.

"You're using an old version of the Gmail which will be retired in the September. At that point, you'll be redirected to a basic HTML view. To get faster Gmail and the newest features, please upgrade to a modern browser," informs a Gmail message.

Most likely, Google continued to offer to the old version of the Gmail because the new version doesn't work well in Internet Explorer 6. If you visit Gmail in IE6 and you haven't installed this patch, you can't switch to the new version, even if you manually change the URL. Staring from the next month, IE6 users will be redirected to the "basic HTML" interface, used for outdated browsers.

Google rarely provides the option to switch to an old version of an application or a feature. For example, you can still switch to the old image search interface, to the old Gmail contact manager and you can still use the classic Blogger editor (an option that will be removed soon). Preserving the old version of a service could be helpful to determine if users like the new version, but it's not a good idea to keep an interface that's no longer maintained. Some users might never try the new version of the application because it doesn't look familiar, while other users might never notice that the initial bugs have been fixed.