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For a while now, we Googlers have used a bit of shorthand to refer to the Personalized Homepage -- a name that connotes interactivity, the Internet, and personalization all at once. Please meet iGoogle, the new name for the Google Personalized Homepage.



Developers around the world have been working hard to make more and more of the world's content available for iGoogle. Can you get, oh, some of the world's most beautiful pictures, updated daily? Check. Thousands and thousands of gadgets to choose from? Check. A personal note and picture from your sweetie? Now you can make your own, because starting today, without having any programming or web design experience at all, anyone can create Google Gadgets for iGoogle and send them to friends. Simple gadget templates include a photo gadget, a "GoogleGram" greeting card-style gadget, a YouTube video channel gadget, and a free-form gadget.

To make yours, choose the gadget template you'd like to use, enter your info, and enter your friends' email addresses. You can always make changes to your gadget, and you can even set some kinds of gadgets to update automatically so your friends will see a new message daily.

Today we're also making the themes that have been so popular on iGoogle in the U.S. available on every edition of iGoogle around the world, and we're making iGoogle available in 22 new locales. Visit iGoogle and click "Select theme" to pick a theme for your own page.

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For over the past year, we've invited some of the most prominent and promising thinkers, artists, leaders, and personalities of our time to give talks and have discussions at Google about their recently published books. We call the series Authors@Google, and we've posted videos of many of our events online. And now, the program has grown out of our Mountain View headquarters to include seven U.S. offices as well as our London and Dublin offices.

In addition, we've just added our most important location yet: an online home at google.com/talks/authors with a video archive of our events on YouTube. Just this year, we've hosted a great variety of authors, including Martin Amis, Strobe Talbott, Bob & Lee Woodruff, Jonathan Lethem, Don Tapscott, Senator Hillary Clinton, and Carly Fiorina. The subjects of their talks range from literary fiction to science fiction, sociology to technology, politics to business.

We're delighted to share our digital library of events with you, and will continue adding to it. We hope you'll bookmark this page and check back often.

Finally, this weekend, April 28 and 29, the Authors@Google team will be exhibiting on the UCLA campus at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books -- the largest book-related event in the U.S. If you're in the area, do stop by, say hello, and browse books and videos from some of our previous events.

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I'm just back from running a marathon at the North Pole. It's only by continuously repeating this sentence out loud that the experience has started to become more real. Certainly, when you are at the Pole -- a place of absolute wondrous beauty, isolation, and harshness -- it feels very surreal. The 24-hour light with the sun always at the horizon, the mind-numbing cold, the lack of sleep -- it all gets to you. Wow, don't I make it sound like fun?

So why, you might ask, did I put myself through this?

Well, a friend and I also ran the Sahara marathon at the end of February as a kick start to launch EarthFireIce, a campaign to raise awareness for the importance of individual action to reduce carbon emissions. By racing in such extreme conditions, the hottest and coldest marathons in the world, we also hoped to highlight two regions that stand to be seriously affected by climate change. People can make simple pledges of action on an interactive Google Maps mashup at our campaign site.

We've frequently been asked how we prepare for such extremes. The answer is that it's very hard. We tried to wrap ourselves in plastic wrap to replicate the Sahara heat, and we sat in a Kriotherapy chamber at -130 C (-202 F) to get used to the extreme cold. Neither experience, I must confess, was that useful. The Sahara, at 42 C (approx. 108 F), simply sapped all my energy. And the second half of that run was one of the slowest and most painful in my life. Watch the video of the Sahara run, and me struggling through it:



The North Pole, on the other hand, was tough because you have to wear those ridiculous snowshoes, and because the terrain varies from hard ice to 2 foot deep powder snow. So it's much more of a slow jog, and thus less exhausting. However, the battle there is with the cold: at -30 C (-22 F), you really feel it despite the act of running.

What's next, you may ask? Well, a lot of rest and relaxation, and back to my day job -- and then, some more events under the EarthFireIce banner, hopefully with lots of others joining us!

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We are happy to be releasing the Google Desktop 5 application in 29 languages, including our first release in Hindi. It's now easier than ever for people around the world to find content on their computer as well as on the web. We've redesigned the look and feel of the sidebar and many of our most popular gadgets. There are also previews for search results and warnings for suspicious websites, whether you're clicking on links from documents, IMs, websites, and more.

No matter which country you're in, we hope that these changes make it easier to quickly and safely find the right information. To learn more about what's new with Desktop 5, read this post on the Google Desktop Blog. And check out the recently-released version for Mac, too.

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Architects are pretty passionate about architecture -– no surprise there. However, we've come to find that the American public is too. Starting today, there are two new Google Earth layers with which to explore architecture’s most popular structures and take away some ideas to help enhance the communities we live in. As president of The American Institute of Architects (AIA), I’m ecstatic to announce our partnership with Google Earth to launch these new layers in celebration of our the 150th anniversary.

Check out this video on YouTube to watch us navigate these layers from Google headquarters.

Fly to America’s Favorite Architecture, a layer featuring the American public’s favorite architecture (as selected though a national poll announced earlier this year). View all 150 structures, including many with just created 3-D models of the buildings, ballparks, bridges, and memorials that characterize architecture in the eyes of Americans. And then explore the second layer, Blueprint for America. Blueprint is a community service effort funded by the AIA, in which AIA members donating their time and expertise are collaborating with community leaders and local citizens to enhance the quality of life in their community. You’ll be able to track the progress of these projects on Google Earth as they unfold over the next year and, we hope, become inspired to take action where you live.

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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.

English spelling is far from being phonetic -- and commonly-used proper nouns make the problem even more complex. Often the final arbiter is "it looks correct." Try writing "success" with one trailing "s" and you'll see what I mean.

This final aspect of spelling -- it "looks wrong" -- can be a serious challenge when one cannot see. I can spell well in English, and for regular English text, there are always dictionaries and spell-checkers that come to one's aid. But spelling commonly-used proper nouns that you've only heard others pronounce can still pose a challenge when writing them for the first time. Consider the following:
  • We're going on a skiing holiday to Taho.
  • I was in Rino last week.
  • My friend lives in San Luis Obispoe.
Notice that the proper nouns in the above all contain spelling errors, and the respective Google search triggers a "did you mean" spelling suggestion as follows:
  • Did you mean: Tahoe
  • Did you mean: Reno
  • Did you mean: san luis obispo
Over the years, I've come to find this an indispensible tool, especially in cases where there is general agreement on the web as to the correct spelling. And for the record, intelligence on the Web appears to believe that San Luis Obispo can also be spelt San Louis Obispo.

Google's spell-checking intelligence comes from examining all the documents on the web. Thus, correct spellings often dominate incorrect ones. The example of San Luis Obispo is interesting; if you take the Web as representing current accepted practice, it would appear that people do write that proper noun both ways -- i.e., Luis or Louis.

Who knows, perhaps we'll restore the o-u parity by adopting an extra "o" in Luis for the "u" that got dropped in "color."

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As a company, we thrive on casual interactions and spontaneous collaboration. So we're excited about acquiring Marratech's video conferencing software, which will enable from-the-desktop participation for Googlers in videoconference meetings wherever there's an Internet connection.

We look forward to learning from the extraordinary ingenuity of Marratech's engineers as they focus on desktop conferencing research and development in Sweden, where they will continue to be located.

Update: To clarify some confusion, we acquired Marratech's software, not the company itself.

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I'll probably visit more than 100 web pages today, and so will hundreds of millions of people. Printed and bound together, the web pages you'll visit in just one day are probably bigger than the book sitting on your night table. Over the next month alone, that's an entire bookcase full! The idea of having access to this virtual library of information has always fascinated me. Imagine being able to search over the full text of pages you've visited online and finding that one particular quote you remember reading somewhere months ago. Imagine always knowing exactly where you saw something online, like that priceless YouTube video of your friend attempting to perform dance moves from a bygone age. Better yet, imagine having this wealth of information work for you to make searching for new information easier and faster.

Today, we're pleased to announce the launch of Web History, a new feature for Google Account users that makes it easy to view and search across the pages you've visited. If you remember seeing something online, you'll be able to find it faster and from any computer with Web History. Web History lets you look back in time, revisit the sites you've browsed, and search over the full text of pages you've seen. It's your slice of the web, at your fingertips.

How does Web History work? All you need is a Google Account and the Google Toolbar with PageRank enabled. The Toolbar, as part of your browser, helps us associate the pages you visit with your Google Account. If you're currently a Search History user, you'll notice that we've renamed Search History to Web History to reflect this new functionality. To sign up for Web History, visit http://www.google.com/history.

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Marissa Mayer, VP, Search & User Experience, and Jeff Bartelma, Product Manager, Google Product Search (the product formerly known as Froogle :) )

Today, we're making some changes to how we help users find things to buy. You may be familiar with our product Froogle (a pun on "frugal"). Froogle offers a lot of great functionality and has helped many users find things to buy over the years, but the name caused confusion for some because it doesn't clearly describe what the product does.

So we're renaming Froogle as Google Product Search. We're taking the opportunity to refocus the user experience on providing the most comprehensive, relevant results in a clean, simple, easy-to-use UI. We're also excited about how Google Checkout can help searchers have a fast and secure purchase experience, so the new interface makes it easier to buy with Checkout.

One thing we didn't change is the wide variety of items you can find with Product Search. Perhaps you're looking for a toaster, a wireless router, or an apple slicer. Or maybe you're in the market for a Lego watch (like Jeff's) or a new longboard (go for Flashback wheels). We hope this update makes it easier to find whatever you're looking to buy.

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You already know that search is at the core of everything we do: we want to deliver useful and relevant information every time you do a search. But what about when you don't have a query in mind, or if you just don't feel like typing in a query? Today we're releasing two features that reduce the need for you to type in specific queries to get the information you want. Both of these are available to Search History users.

The first is a recommendations button on the Google Toolbar that looks like a pair of dice. Click on the dice, and we'll take you to a site that may be interesting to you based on your past searches. If you want another, just click the dice again and we'll show you a new one. We'll give you up to 50 new sites per day that might be of interest. Just add the button to your Toolbar. (In order to use this feature, you need the latest version of the Toolbar.)

If you prefer to get your information at a glance, we've added a recommendations tab that you can add to your personalized homepage. Simply click on "Add A Tab" on your Google Personalized Homepage, and type in "Recommendations" for the tab name (keep the "I'm feeling lucky" checkbox checked). We'll give you a page of recommendations that are updated daily.

Don't expect very much at the beginning, but the more you build up your search history, and the more you use these features, the better they'll become. Over time, we will give you more and better recommendations.

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Well, we tried to keep it a secret as long as we could, but to be honest, we've been dying to tell you about the bun we've got in the oven. We'll soon be welcoming a new addition to the Google Docs & Spreadsheets family: presentations.

First of all, we want to welcome the team from Tonic Systems to Google. Tonic, which we've just acquired, is based in San Francisco and Melbourne, Australia. They have some great technology for presentation creation and document conversion, and it will be a great addition as we add presentation sharing and collaboration capabilities to Google Docs & Spreadsheets.

We've already freed those of you working in teams from the burdens of version control and email attachment overload when going back and forth on word processing and spreadsheets. It just made sense to add presentations to the mix; after all, when you create slides, you're almost always going to share them. Now students, writers, teachers, organizers, and, well, just about everyone who uses a computer can look forward to having real-time, web-based collaboration across even more common business document formats.

Our due date is this summer. We promise to share family photos just as soon as we can.

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It's been more than a year since my dMarc Broadcasting colleagues and I joined Google. We've been taking incremental steps toward our long term vision of bringing simplicity, efficiency, and accountability to the buying and selling of radio advertising. To do this, we've fully integrated dMarc technology into Google AdWords, and we've partnered with hundreds of radio stations across the U.S., connecting these broadcasters to new advertisers who in many cases had previously not advertised on radio.

Today's announcement of a strategic multi-year agreement with Clear Channel Radio, the largest radio station group owner in the U.S, is an important milestone for us. This new relationship with the leading U.S. radio group gives our advertisers access to guaranteed inventory on top-rated AM and FM stations all over the U.S., making it much easier for them to reach their target customers with radio ads. Since radio advertising is new for Google, we're excited to be able to learn from and collaborate with the market leader and ultimately bring more value to radio.

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At Google, we are constantly looking for new, innovative ways to make the information you want more accessible and more relevant—and to deliver it as fast as possible. Since Google's inception, it has always been our intention to present users with highly targeted, useful advertisements when appropriate—ads that unobtrusively complement users experience. We have always believed in, and tirelessly pursued, the idea that serving relevant, unintrusive ads would best serve our advertisers in the long term.

To that end, we are truly excited to announce our acquisition of DoubleClick. DoubleClick provides a suite of products that enables agencies, advertisers, and publishers to work efficiently, that will enable Google to extend our ad network and develop deeper relationships with our partners.

This new partnership represents a tremendous opportunity for us at Google to broaden and deepen our inventory of available ads and to better serve both our publishers and users. Together, Google and DoubleClick will empower agencies, advertisers, and publishers to collaborate more efficiently and effectively, which will, in turn, provide a better experience for our users.

Sponsored information served by Google has always been, and will always be, clearly distinguished from objective content available via our search results and across our partner network. We want you to find the information that you are looking for—be it in an ad or elsewhere—quickly and without hassle. We know that our collaboration with DoubleClick will serve and advance this goal.

For more information on this new acquisition, please read our FAQ.

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We're excited to tell you that as of this morning the speed, security, and convenience of Google Checkout is available to online shops and shoppers in the United Kingdom. Here's Google Checkout UK.

From now until 2008, merchants that offer Checkout in the UK will receive free credit and debit card processing for all of their Checkout sales. And just so buyers don't feel left out, we're giving them £10 off all orders over £30.

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Today Blogger is available in eight new languages! Check it out in Nederlands, Dansk, suomi, Norsk, Svenska, Русский, Türkçe and ภาษาไทย, which brings us to 19 total. Blogging is clearly a global phenomenon, and we're incredibly excited to help bring it to ever more people around the world. With Blogger, you can:
We have more languages in the works too -- stay tuned!

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Many of you reading this may already know that Trimble Outdoors has partnered with Google to provide Google Earth viewers with GPS-based interactive hiking information. We’re very excited about being able to share all the great GPS content we’ve developed over the years and through partnerships with magazines including Backpacker, Bicycling and Mountain Bike. It’s an outstanding resource for outdoors enthusiasts, or really, anyone who wants to do a little research before setting out on a hike. You can access lots of multimedia info on fitness and outdoor adventures, including routes, points of interest, pictures, video segments and even audio clips. Essentially, anytime, anywhere you can launch Google Earth, you can view hundreds of hikes that have already been logged and completed, and view personalized web content. Then, through the convergence of Trimble Outdoors’ technology and Google Earth, you can click one button, and the exact trail route is exported to your GPS-enabled phone.

This partnership between Google Earth and Trimble Outdoors is designed to support the community of outdoor enthusiasts with exciting new ways to explore the earth and share adventure stories online.



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Ever wondered how cool it would be if you could type "Haal kaisa hai janaab ka" in your usual chatting style and the words actually got converted automagically to "हाल कैसा है जनाब का"? We have now made that possible with the new Blogger transliteration feature. Now you can easily publish your thoughts, experiences and even your favourite Bollywood songs in Hindi.

Enabling the transliteration option allows you to type out Hindi words using phonetically equivalent English script, and see the words getting transformed into the corresponding Devanagari script. The plus is that you now don't need to learn complicated mappings from English alphabet combinations to Hindi letters. That means you really don't need to worry about WeiRD UpPerCasEing to get the right Hindi spellings. Just type as you would naturally do, in your own style, and let Google read your mind :) Well, not really, but close. We realised that everybody has their own unique way of spelling Hindi words in English -- so we have a personalization mechanism in place that enables us to remember your writing style. Correct once, and get the word right every time after that!

We use machine learning technology in the background to give you the most satisfactory transliteration. This way, you can focus on the writing and comfortably express yourself in a language close to your heart. Go creative, try it out, and discuss it here. We're sure you will enjoy it as much as we enjoyed creating it!

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As some of you may remember, last June at the Googleplex we held a Geo Developer Day alongside the Where 2.0 conference. We invited a bunch of developers from Where 2.0 to come to campus and meet the Google Maps and Earth teams. Everyone at Google had a great time interacting with the more than 200 developers who came, and we knew we wanted to do something like it again.

When we started thinking about plans for this year, two things came to mind. First, we’ve released a number of new developer products over the past 12 months which we’re excited to talk more about, including the Google Web Toolkit, the Google data APIs, the AJAX Search API, and Google Gadgets. Second, as much as we love the Googleplex, we realize that not everyone can travel to Mountain View to hang out with us.

Put those two considerations together and what you have is this year’s Google Developer Day. Many developer products, 10 countries, one day: May 31st.

The day itself will vary in format from location to location, but the goal is the same: bring Google’s developer community closer together, share our knowledge, and of course have fun in the process. We’ll be posting more details on the sessions as we finalize them, but in the meantime, here are just a few of the Googlers we have lined up across the globe:

  • Guido Van Rossum, Google software engineer and creator of the Python programming language (Beijing);
  • Chris DiBona, Google open source programs manager (London);
  • Mark Stahl, Google data APIs tech lead (Madrid);
  • Bruce Johnson and Joel Webber, co-creators of the Google Web Toolkit™ (Mountain View);
  • Bret Taylor, group product manager for Google developer products (Mountain View);
  • Lars Rasmussen, Google Maps™ senior engineer (Sydney); and
  • Greg Stein, Google engineering manager and chairman of the Apache Software Foundation (Tokyo).
We’re excited to be inviting everyone. To find out more, and to let us know if you can make it, please visit the Google Developer Day site.

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In addition to his day job as Global Privacy Counsel, our own Peter Fleischer has just been elected to the board of the IAPP -- the world’s largest association of privacy professionals, with more than 3,000 members across 23 countries. We're pleased for this recognition, as Peter's work in privacy over the last decade mirrors a real evolution in the profession. Today, privacy is universally viewed as a key corporate goal, and privacy officers are responsible for creating a culture of respect for privacy inside their companies.

We're excited that Peter will have the chance to continue his contributions to the discussion of privacy issues through his role with the IAPP. The organization provides a forum for privacy professionals to share best practices, track trends, advance privacy management issues, and provide education and guidance on opportunities in the field of privacy. Our congratulations to Peter and others joining the board for their work in this important area.

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As I remember my college days, I spent a lot of time (though not all) worried about required courses and fixed deadlines – things that while necessary, still made me wish I'd had more of a choice about the university policies that affected me. Even the little things – like my email.

Now we're taking the first step to reach out to university students nationwide to find out what they like or don't like about their email. We're conducting a survey to see whether Google Apps Education Edition might offer students more of a choice about their online communication tools.

Since we first launched Google Apps at universities, students took notice. We've even heard that at some schools like Northwestern, students lobbied their administrators for Google Apps, which includes 2GB email storage, instant messaging, and centralized calendaring as part of their school's official communications package.

So if you're a student who's not using Google Apps, take our survey and tell us what you like or not about your current university email system. And if your school has recently switched to Google Apps, write us and let us know what we can do better. Your feedback will help us ensure that we'll continue to keep up with you, the next generation of world-changers.

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It has been almost exactly one year since I began my work at Google.org. We've been in a bit of a quiet period during that time, meeting with foundation leaders, activists, NGOs, and scientists -- and Googlers -- from all over the world. My major task has been to build a world-class team, comprised of experienced Google managers paired with content experts from the fields of climate change, global public health and economic development to spearhead strategic initiatives for our philanthropic efforts.

There were four of us one year ago; today we are 25 people, and it gives me great pleasure to introduce a few of the newer members of our team. Dan Reicher, former Assistant Secretary of Energy for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, joins Aimee Christensen, Kirsten Olsen and Googler Ki Mun to work on our clean energy and climate change initiatives, policy and advocacy.

Mark Smolinski and Corrie Conrad join Googlers Katie Wurtz, Matt Waddell and Emily Delmont on our global public health team. Mark is an MD MPH and CDC-trained epidemiologist who worked at the Institute of Medicine and was formerly a Vice President at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, where he worked on a regional disease surveillance system. Corrie joins as a researcher focusing on preventable diseases afflicting the poor, coming from the Clinton Foundation, where she was working on its HIV/AIDS program in Rwanda.

Blaise Judja-Sato, Sonal Shah and Juliette Gimon join Googlers Rachel Payne, Meryl Stone, and Kim Thompson to guide our global economic development efforts. Born in Cameroon, Blaise was most recently President of the Nelson Mandela Foundation USA and the founder of VillageReach, a nonprofit that brings sustainable health care and essential services to more than 3.5 million people in Mozambique. Sonal is the co-founder of Indicorps, a non-profit offering one-year fellowships for people of Indian origin to work on development projects in India, and was previously a Vice President at Goldman, Sachs & Co. developing the firm's corporate citizenship and environmental strategies. Juliette is the chair of the Global Fund for Children and a trustee of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. She also serves on the board of the Synergos Institute and the advisory committees of Youth Philanthropy Worldwide and the Global Philanthropy Forum. And I'm particularly pleased that Sheryl Sandberg, VP of Online Sales and Operations and Google.org board member, has agreed to spend a significant amount of her time leading this effort.

Working across our content domains are Linda Segre, Gregory Miller, Jacquelline Fuller, Gillian Peoples, and Chris Busselle along with Googlers Brad Presner, Alan Louie and Tara Canobbio. Linda has responsibility for managing Google.org's project initiatives and operations within Google and is the person to talk to for any operational question about what we call "dotorg". Greg has responsibility for Google.org's investing and grant practices, legal affairs and strategic partnerships as well as the affairs of the Google Foundation. Before moving to California, Jacquelline served as Deputy Director of the Global Health program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she managed Public Affairs and served as speechwriter for U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Louis Sullivan. Jacquelline, who also reports to Elliot Schrage, our VP of Global Communications and Public Affairs, in order to keep our PR efforts coordinated, will lead Google.org's advocacy and communications agenda, including efforts to influence public policy and media.

Also with us on sabbatical is Dr. Larry Simon. He comes to us on leave from Brandeis University's Heller School, where he is Professor and Director of the Sustainable International Development Graduate Programs and Associate Dean for Academic Programs. A specialist on poverty and vulnerability, Larry led Oxfam America's work in Central America and the Caribbean.

We are still looking for a few "good people," and welcome you to visit our updated list of open positions.

So where are we going now? Google.org is looking to better understand the inextricable linkages among climate change, global public health and economic development, and the impact of global warming on the poor. We want to fund projects that are making a difference and that are effective on a large scale.

We live in very complicated times. Global health, poverty, and climate are inextricably interrelated, and it is the poor of the world who bear the heaviest burden. Google.org is focused on learning initiatives that simultaneously fund good organizations working in these areas and provide insights into "big ideas" that could be scalable from these pilot projects.

During this year we anticipate making more significant grants and investments in support of our major initiatives. We hope to innovate both in what we do, and how we do it. We will report back to you via our site and on this blog regarding on these grants, investments and initiatives. Please look for additional updates as our work progresses.

Update: Awaiting approval from one of our consultants on his participation.

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More than ever, home buyers are starting their search online, and we want to make it easier for every one of you to find the home of your dreams. Searching on Google for Seattle real estate or homes for sale in San Diego prompts you to enter a location and choose whether you want to buy or rent.* After clicking "Go," you can see the individual homes that Google has indexed, provided by our partners and culled from the web. When you want more information on a particular home, you can click straight through to the source of the listing—no detail pages or sign-up forms get in the way. And when Google gets the same listing from multiple sources, we show links to all the data providers and websites, ranked according to many factors including, but not limited to, the quality and comprehensiveness of the data.

If you're a real estate professional, making your listings searchable on Google is simple and completely free. We don't charge for photos or offer "featured listings." We believe that buyers just want to see the home that fits them best and that providers shouldn't have to pay to show it to them. We don't sell houses, deal with agents' compensation, or charge for leads. Our business is helping people find the information they're looking for—when you have it, we send them directly to you. We have a bunch of different upload options tailored to how technical your organization wants to be. These options and our listing removal tools are designed to ensure that content providers maintain control over their data. If you have ideas or feedback for us, please contribute via our Google Group.

Update: *Currently, there is a country restriction on these searches. For example, Seattle searches will only return results for users in the U.S. We're exploring ways to expand this.

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Humans have been making maps since the Stone Age. In fact, map-making predates written language by several millenia. Nowadays, people make maps online using tools like the Google Maps API -- but using an API isn't as easy as scribbling on a cave wall.

That's why we're announcing My Maps, a new feature that makes it quick and easy to create your own custom Google Maps just by pointing and clicking. You can add placemarks, draw lines and shapes, and embed text, photos and videos -- all using a simple drag and drop interface. Your map automatically gets a public URL that you can share with your friends and family, or you can also publish your map for inclusion in Google Maps search results. We'll continue to show organic local search results with red pushpins; user-generated results will have blue pushpins. The user-created results include KML as well as maps made through My Maps.

To give you a better idea of what kind of maps you can make, here are some examples that Googlers created after we released the feature internally. (We ran a contest and gave a Nintendo Wii to the best map-maker.)
And the list goes on. We've seen maps for housewarming parties, marathons, band tour schedules, blogs, and even resumes. Since customizing maps has become this easy, we encourage you to create your own to share with friends and family. Have fun!

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It seems like just yesterday that I was announcing the Google Mac blog. Since then, we've been working hard to deliver great products for Google users on Mac, including MacFUSE and Google Earth. Today, I'm really excited to let you know that Google Desktop is now available on the Mac! A lot of your most important data doesn't live on the web -- it lives on your Mac and in web services. And since Google is a search company, we're committed to helping you find all of that information.

I could talk about this product all day, but I'll cut to the chase. Here are my top 5 reasons to try the Mac version of Desktop.
  1. It's as fast and easy to use as Google.com.
  2. It's comprehensive. Not only can you search the files on your Mac, you can now search your web history and your Gmail emails even when you're offline.
  3. It's changed the way I use my Mac. We designed the Quick Search Box to be a great launcher for applications and files, which means I no longer have a million icons on my desktop and in my dock.
  4. It's saved me hours. Really! Haven't you ever accidentally closed or deleted a file you've been working on? Or typed "rm -rf" when you didn't mean to? Now you can just search for the file with Google Desktop and recover all the text content you've lost.
  5. We need your help! This is our first beta of Google Desktop for the Mac and we worked hard to create it; now we need your feedback to help to make it even better.
So go ahead and give it a try. We hope you like it!

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Act 1: The Googler who cried snake

Sunday April 1st, NYooglers (a word for New York Googlers I can't convince anyone else to use) receive an email about a python. I assume it's either Guido van Rossum talking about his programming language, or, because it's April Fool's, something like Gmail Paper or PigeonRank. Boy, am I surprised when I see the following message:

"Over the weekend, a pet snake belonging to a Googler escaped from its cage. The snake is a 3-foot long, brown-and-grey, ball python named Kaiser. Ball pythons are non-venomous and are commonly kept as pets. Tempting as it might be, this is not an April Fool's joke! We are sending this message to alert you to the situation and to let you know what to do in the event that you see the snake."

Act 2: A community unites

Monday morning in the office, we react. Some laugh, some debate whether it is actually a joke, and some stand away from walls and corners. At least one considers buying rubber snakes en masse. The bathrooms have slightly fewer occupants than usual.

Signs are posted in our microkitchens informing us of the situation and reiterating that Kaiser is not venomous and probably hiding behind some cabinet. My favorite sign reads "Single Ball Python (female): Down to earth gal seeking a sincere long term relationship. I have a heart of gold and enjoy quiet evenings in the aquarium, time by the heat lamp, and being held. If you are interested in a woman who desires a quiet settled-down lifestyle and a good future, I am your perfect fit."

Act 3: Google widens lead in search as Kaiser is found

Monday, April 2nd, 10:45 PM, we receive another Facilities Manager email: "After consultations with a herpetology expert at the American Museum of Natural History, our team of Google security and concerned volunteers located Kaiser relaxing behind a cabinet earlier this evening, and he was returned safely home with his owner." So, it all ended happily, and Kaiser is now at his owner's home to stay.

Epilogue

By Tuesday, life at the East Coast 'Plex returns to normal. We go back to building great products, hosting cool events, and using telescopes to take pictures of ourselves.

Thank you!

All of Google NY would like to sincerely thank our building landlord, Taconic Investment Partners, for working in partnership with us on this sensitive search and recovery mission.

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It's that time of year when we happily announce the winners of the 2007 Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship. We're awarding 20 $10,000 scholarships to these outstanding young women -- graduate and undergraduate students who are completing degrees in computer science and related fields -- with our congratulations. The full list of winners is here.

We invited all 50 scholars to Mountain View to meet each other, tour Google and participate in a workshop on educational and career issues for women in computer science. The day also included discussions with Google engineers and executives, representatives from the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology and former scholarship winners. This event is part of a larger Google Scholars’ Retreat in partnership with the winners of the 2006-2007 United Negro College Fund and Hispanic College Fund Google Scholarships.

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At Google we like to do things fast -- that's why you get search results in a fraction of a second, and that's why 12 speedy Googlers traveled to Phoenix this past weekend to run the Relay Del Sol. The Relay Del Sol is a 187-mile overnight relay race through the Arizona desert.

Between the time Dan Brown started us off at 6 pm on Friday night and the time that I crossed the finish line at 1 pm Saturday afternoon, we each ran three grueling relay legs. Some of those legs were in the dark of night, with coyotes howling in the distance and us wearing lights and reflective gear to make us visible to cars. Other legs were in the heat of the desert sun -- and cacti don't provide much shade.

Through it all, we stuck to our aggressive goal pace of just over six minutes per mile. It was good that we could run that fast, because we faced some serious competition from the MarathonGIS team. After about 130 miles, they were just seconds behind us.

We responded to the challenge, though, and really turned it on for our third set of legs. As we approached the finish in Scottsdale, we had built up a solid lead. I knew that victory was within reach when I took the handoff for the final leg.

When I approached the finish, I saw my team waiting to cross the line with me. I pumped my arms in the air and flashed a huge smile, overwhelmed with the amazing teamwork and tremendous personal efforts that everyone contributed to the race. We came across the line together as the first place team. It was a great victory for us and an incredibly fun weekend.

Here's our team:


Back row, left to right: Belsasar Lepe, Eddie Higgins, Don Faul, Tom Phillips, Dan Brown, Sean Knapp.
Front row, left to right: Nathan Stoll, Chris Estwanik, Chris Holstrom, Jared Jacobs, Katie Hotchkiss, Bismarck Lepe.

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Some of the most interesting conversations I've had working in the Kirkland office have been sitting around the lunch table. Bringing together smart people working on tough problems and encouraging them to brainstorm seems to generate the most innovative new ideas.

The fact is Googlers love to discuss new ideas, and not just with each other. That is why we we're planning two conferences to share ideas. We want to hear about what other people in the technical community are doing to face the same hard problems we work on. Our Seattle conference on scalable systems is in June, and our second annual Test Automation Conference will take place New York in August.

There's still time to submit a proposal for either one. The Testing Automation Conference deadline for submissions is Friday, April 6 (email gtac-submission@google.com).

As for the Seattle Scalability Conference, if "Beowulf" doesn't remind you of English literature, or you didn't know "Selenium" is also an element, you're just the person we're waiting to hear from. Here's a list of some of the topics we'd be interested in (you may have others):

Scalable algorithms:
  • Parallelization techniques (fully automatic or programmer-assisted)
  • Programming models and languages for multiprocessor systems (e.g., transactional memory, systems of communicating objects)
  • Algorithms that function in the face of system failures (flaky hardware, os bugs, network failures)
Scalable systems:
  • Managing large computation clusters (configuration, upgrade, repair, status monitoring)
  • Managing failure (automatic failure detection/diagnosis/repair)
  • Opportunities and challenges of multi-core architecture
  • Job management systems/schedulers for large compute clusters
If you have an interesting approach or an exciting new solution to any of these, send an outline of your 45-minute presentation to scalabilityconf@google.com by Friday, April 20.

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A few months ago we had a well-known spray can artist named Vulcan paint a set of Google Mini search appliances for a Japanese launch event. They came out really hot, so this past Friday we invited him to come to the Google campus in Mountain View and do a live painting during lunch time. It just so happened that our new Executive Chef from Beijing—a master ice sculptor in addition to his culinary talents—was also on campus. So during lunch we had spray cans and chainsaws flying, which led to the creation of two really cool pieces.

For those of you in the U.S., we've made pictures of the Google Mini search appliances as well as other art hanging at Google available to download to your cell phone.

Also check out this very cool time-lapse YouTube video of the painting coming to life by hip-hop filmmaker Kevin Epps.

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This weekend, there has been a lot of discussion about our imagery of New Orleans in Google Maps and Google Earth. I thought I'd give you some background that may clear things up, and also let you know about new imagery of the region now available.

In 2005, shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, a very motivated group of volunteers at Google worked with NOAA, NASA, and others to post updated imagery of the affected areas in Google Maps and Google Earth as quickly as possible. This data served as a useful reference for many people -- from those interested in understanding what had happened, to friends and families checking on the status of loved ones and property, to rescuers and relief workers. Shortly after the event, we received a voicemail thanking us for the role Google Earth played in guiding rescuers to stranded victims.

Several months later, in September 2006, the storm imagery was replaced with pre-Katrina aerial photography of much higher resolution as part of a regular series of global data enhancements. We continued to make available the Katrina imagery, and associated overlays such as damage assessments and Red Cross shelters, on a dedicated site (earth.google.com/katrina.html). Our goal throughout has been to produce a global earth database of the best quality -- accounting for timeliness, resolution, cloud cover, light conditions, and color balancing.

Given that the changes that affected New Orleans happened many months ago, we were a bit surprised by some of these recent comments. Nevertheless, we recognize the increasingly important role that imagery is coming to play in the public discourse, and so we're happy to say that we have been able to expedite the processing of recent (2006) aerial photography for the Gulf Coast area (already in process for an upcoming release) that is equal in resolution to the data it is replacing. That new data was published in Google Earth and Google Maps on Sunday evening.

Make no mistake, this wasn't any effort on our part to rewrite history. But it looks like this April Fool's joke was on us.

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That's what we call it here at Google, anyway. What you'll call it is a godsend: free wireless broadband throughout your home, a host of optional breakthrough applications -- all with just one quick, easy self-install. Learn more about Google TiSP (beta) today.