Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Microsoft to Change Vista's Inbuilt Search After Google Complains

In response to a complaint by Google claiming that Vista’s inbuilt search functionality competed unfairly with Google Desktop Search, Microsoft has agreed to make changes to its latest version operating system, Windows Vista.

Google has made a confidential complaint against Microsoft to the Justice department over Microsoft’s indexing software. Google complained that the default indexing software in Vista named "Instant Search" could not be easily turned off by users which causes the computer to significantly slow down if installed Google Desktop, a similar desktop search product from Google.

So far, the changes Microsoft will make to Vista have not yet been made public.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

YouTube Launches 9 Local Language Sites

YouTube has launched in 9 more countries including, Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Spain, United Kingdom. You could switch between countries by clicking on the national flags at the top right corner.

In the homepage of different countries, you will see localized selected, most viewed, top rated videos. I suppose the statistics are categorized into different countries by following the country you chose when signing up for a YouTube account.

Some of the features such as TestTube and sponsored campaigns are not available in countries outside the US, though it is very likely that YouTube will be launching similar localized campaigns in other countries.

Official announcement should be made during the Google Press Day 2007 when the YouTube founders, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, will speak for an hour.

Friday, June 15, 2007

YouTube Remixer

You would get excited if you are fed up with editing your YouTube videos with Windows Media Player and would like to try something new as the YouTube lab (a.k.a TestTube) where they "incubate" their ideas has launched a new experiment they call Remixer which is basically an online movie editor. Since the project is powered by Adobe Premiere Express, you can expect the quality of the edited video to look professional. With the remixer, you are able to edit your videos with text, audio, graphics, overlays, effects, and transitions without any installation.

Screenshot from TechCrunch

Currently, I am stuck and keep on seeing the message 'Connecting to editing server. Please wait ...'. Does it work for you?

Related: YouTube Blog

YouTube Tests New Interface

After rolling out the controversial new embedded video player, YouTube continues to test around with new interfaces. First spotted by Google Operating System, the new design places the search box in the center (and clearing indicating that the search is Powered by Google), removes the promotional banner at the top, moves the metadata below the video, makes it easier to rate the video and to find other related videos. There's also an option to embed a video using the old player.
For the homepage, the most obvious change is that five random 'videos being watched now' are displayed at the very top of the page using flash (which is pretty eye-catching) and refreshes every 7 seconds. You are also encouraged to log in with your Google Account where you can choose either to link an existing YouTube account to a Google account or create a new one. This is clearly another move for Google to track your online activities in one single account aiming to deliver more personalized and thus relevant results.
The search results also had a make up by replacing the leaderboard with a medium rectangle alongside with the results. The sorting functions have also been moved to the top giving more space available for search results.
What do you think about the new interface? Is it more user friendly or the opposite?

AdSense in China Take Initiatives to Protect Publishers

According to the Official Google China Blog, AdSense China has announced a new feature in hopes to protect publishers' account from being sabotaged which they call it Allowed Sites. Publishers can enter a list of allowed domains (in which they own) and only impressions, clicks and earnings generated from that list of sites would be reported in the publishers' AdSense account.

The main aim of this feature is to prevent publisher IDs from being placed in spammy sites that do not below to those publishers. Currently, you can enter up to 100 sites in to the allowed list and would take up to 4 hours before the list is activated.

What is interesting is that ads would still show up in sites out of the list though any clicks wouldn't generate earnings for the publisher and there is no mention whether advertisers are charged for these clicks.

It seems that this feature is has not yet gone international. AdSense publisher, would you welcome this new feature?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Blogger in Draft

Blogger in DraftThe Blogger Team created a new place for them to experiment with new features before releasing it to everyone just like Google Labs. To try these experiments, you just have to visit instead of the normal Similar to Google Labs, features in Blogger in Draft might be a bit fickle. According to the newly established official Blogger in Draft blog:

Features on Blogger in draft may be updated, changed, re-imagined, transmogrified, or removed at any time. Draft gives us the freedom to see what works and what doesn’t before we turn a feature on for everyone, so expect us to make changes — hopefully you’ll think they’re for the better!
The first experimental feature is video upload.You will see a new button to the post editor that pops up a dialog you can use to upload a video right into your blog post. While your video is processing, you will see this:
Blogger Processing Uploaded VideoYou will then be able to post once your video is finished. While you video is hosted in Google Video, they are kept private and will not be included in Google Video search (just like your initially unlisted Blogger tied Picasa Web Album).

Note: Comment is enable in their blog and suggestions are very welcomed. Join the party!

Related: Subscribe | Blogger in Daft FAQ | Video Upload FAQ

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Russia Day Doodle

Google today celebrates Russia Day on Google Russia where the 'L' in Google is replaced by the Spasskaya Tower, “the main tower with a through-passage on the eastern wall of the Moscow Kremlin, which overlooks the Red Sqaure.”

[Via Googlified]

YouTube to Test Copyright Screening Technology

YouTube LogoYouTube has long been accused for helping Internet users to distribute copyrighted materials which resulted in $1billion claimed in multiple law suits from various copyright holders so far. To tackle this, YouTube will start its initiative to solve the problem by testing new video identification technology with Time Warner and the Walt Disney Company that will identify copyrighted material as it is uploaded in one months time.

The technology behind is basically to scan for unique attributes in video clips that identify them as being copyrighted material. Media companies are then notified of the infringing material and are given the choice between having the video removed or keep it up as part of a revenue-sharing deal with YouTube.

[Via TechCrunch]

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Gmail Adds 'View as Slideshow' Function

Gmail currently allows users to preview attached documents (.doc) and spreadsheets (.xls) in emails as HTML so that users do not have to download anything to open these files. Now you can even preview PowerPoint attachments by clicking on the 'View as slideshow' link below every .ppt attachments:
Gmail View as Slideshow FunctionOn click, you will be brought to a new window where you can preview slides by slides by clicking on the left / right arrows (A) or jump back and fro using the drop down list (B):Gmail View as Slideshow FunctionHowever, like most ofsthe new features, it is pretty buggy. I have experienced a 'Conversion failed' error and was told that the 'document is unreadable and possibly corrupted'. And a few of my PowerPoint with Chinese characters are corrupted, showing boxes rather than characters. I suppose they will be fixed very soon. ;)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Google Beats Baidu in Blind Test

Google ChinaAccording to a blind test conduct by Beijing-based China IntelliConsulting shows that Google’s Chinese search surpasses local competitor in terms of search results quality.

Google achieved an overall satisfactory rating from 48.2% of the 2,740 Web surfers who participated, beating Baidu’s 39.8%. Participants in the test accessed the search engines through pages that disguised the companies' identities.

The quality of their search results were rated for the eight most common types of searches in China: news, Internet and technology, finance and business, entertainment, shopping and dining, travel and transportation, science and education, and government services and public information. Google is ahead of Baidu in all categories but entertainment, suggesting Baidu has a better understanding of the music and movie tastes of Chinese Internet users.

The survey also find out that users were most dissatisfied (scoring a 30.3% disapproval rate) with the connections to have been highly unstable, particularly during the test period, when it was periodically blocked by Chinese censors, resulting in blank pages and slow speeds.

Google was also complaint about its failure to provide page-caching in China, the absence of a search function for free downloads of music in the MP3 format and for not providing a popular chat-room like message posting board called post bar.

I suppose Google China is trying very hard to catch up with in entertainment and other local search services by launching Life Search (the Chinese version of Google Base) in China.

Related: Copy of Report Chinese | English

Friday, June 8, 2007

Update: YouTube Embedded Videos New Interface

Facing all the 'opinions' over how the new YouTube embedded video player tries to give users quick, uninterrupted access to related videos hoping users will stay longer and longer on embedded YouTube content, jumping from clips they wanted to see to clips they didn’t even know existed. And the next step is to start mixing sponsored videos to related videos. Even the Official YouTube Blog admits first half of the speculation:

Does watching a YouTube video on another site leave you hungering for more like it? We just turned on a new embedded player with a scroll-through feature that shows related videos to your embeds. It's fun to play with and lets you discover new, related videos without leaving your site. Just hover over the video after pressing "play" and watch the magic unfold...
However, YouTube seems to sense disdain towards the new player and decided not to push users to hard (for the time being). So, rather than showing related videos at the bottom of the player (and the two annoying arrows on the two sides that on-click would seamlessly play the next related video) every time users hover over the video, you will see them only if you click on the 'menu' button or when the video finishes. In this case, the original video is zoomed out and also displays embedded code and URL of video. Just like this:

It is pretty obvious that nowadays, tech companies are very susceptible to user feedback (especially in age Web 2.0 where users are the core) just like last time when Google removed the tips on top particular search terms such as calendar and blog after hundreds of blogger complained. I suppose YouTube is soon going to make announcement about this minor change.

Note: You can switch back to the old interface by adding a rel=0 parameter to the video.

News Summary

Google Calendar Gallery
Just like the gallery for iGoogle gadgets, Google has made a gallery for public calendars in Google Calendar.
Google Calendar Gallery

Related: Visit Gallery | Official Google Blog

Buy 'Green' Products in Google Store
The Official Google Store is going green! Now most of the things you can buy from the Google Store are environmental friendly. Every time you see these green icons on the items, you know they are eco-friendly.
Google Store Goes Green[Via Googlified]

Related: Visit Campaign Homepage

CIC Joins Google's Library Project
Committee on Institutional Collaboration (CIC) agrees to let Google digitize select collections across all its libraries, up to 10 million volumes. As part of the agreement, CIC libraries will create a shared digital repository allowing any scholar regardless of geographic location to access out-of-copyright books.

Related: Press Release | Inside Google Book Search

YouTube Embedded Videos New Interface

For some time now, bloggers have been reporting the change in interface for embedded videos from YouTube. The few changes include:

  1. The time line navigation now allows users to jump to later sections of the video even if that part hasn’t been loaded yet.
  2. The new 'menu' button makes embedding video code on websites easier through replaces the old 'share' button which opens in the new window. It now zooms out (even if the video is playing) and displays the options to copy the embed code or to copy the URL of the video.
  3. When users hover over the video player, an array of related videos pops up at the bottom. The name of the video as well as its rating is displayed. By clicking a thumbnail a related video seamlessly opens in the same player.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Google Partners with Salesforce

Salesforce LogoGoogle has announced a marketing and distribution alliance that tightly bind Google AdWords to existing Salesforce tools that track sales from online advertising. It will begin with the integration of Google AdWords and Salesforce's lead generation tools into a new application called "Group Edition".

This will enable AdWords users to continue tracking AdSense referrals to their site in Google and build up a customer profile based on data a user enters into a site and their navigation path in Salesforce. When potential customers click through to the businesses site, Google tells Salesforce what search terms brought the user to the page and where they navigate throughout the site. Through the power of's AppExchange directory, customers will also have the opportunity to mash-up any of 600 business applications including technologies for mapping and productivity.

Salesforce Group Edition featuring Google AdWords is available today in a five user edition for a special, 30 day promotional price of $600 per year, including a $50 AdWords credit (for new advertisers in the US, Canada, and Mexico only).

Related: Press Release | Joint Customer Login

Google Earth Gallery

Google launched the Google Earth Gallery to highlight user created content on Google Earth. Examples of featured content are Hurricane Katrina, Darfur Crises, Rising Sea Level Animation, Sharing My Watercolours, etc. In addition, they released an iGoogle gadget which will let you view random Google Earth content on your iGoogle homepage. This is how the gadget looks like:
[Via Google Earth Blog]

Google Adds Information of Stations

Google MapsBack in February, Google starts to add icons for transit stops into Google Maps. Allowing users to search for station names rather than station locations. Now they even add in more information about a specific station when users click on the icons. Google uses data available for a given public transit system to show the next departure times, what lines serve a specific station, and/or a link to the transit agency to get more detail. Here is an example of Zurich, Switzerland.Google Maps Station Information

Monday, June 4, 2007

Google Offers Book Search to Publishers

Google is making its controversial Book Search engine available to publishers interested in putting it on their Web sites. This is the first time this service has been available outside of its main site in the domain. According to Google, publishers can tailor the index of their search engine so that only books published by them show up in the query results. A few publishers' website has included Book Search.

Google Services Security Hole Exposed

Recently, a few security holes has been discovered in various Google services. The zero-case happened when Google Desktop was found vulnerable to an exploit that allows a determined attacker to remotely run most programs installed on a victim's machine. It is a man in the middle (MITM) attack injecting code that forces a user to click on a “Google Desktop result”. The person who discovered the Google Desktop vulnerability posted the details of this attack here.

The case was then followed with the discovery of an XSS attack on Gmail where an attacker could hijack your Gmail session by getting you to visit a malicious website. However, Google promptly fixed this one after it was posted.

Another security hole discovered this week was found in a tool that webmasters can use to request removal of pages. Anyone could traverse up the directory tree to see files on Google’s servers that should be confidential. For instance, a blogger was able to find a root password for one of Google’s databases by simply downloading a file. The most interesting point is that he discovered the password used was utter simplicity: 6 chars long 4 digits and two letters. Pretty ironic given Google's advisory on password strength, isn't it?

Maybe Google should make a mention about these series of incidents in their newly established Security Blog. :P

[Via Googling Google]

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Google SketchUp Blog

SketchUp, the software owned by Google that allows users to develop their own 3D models for free, now has its own blog. The blog will provide more up-to-date information than their traditional monthly email newsletter, SketchUpdate. In addition, it will include images, videos, links to models in the 3D Warehouse as well as notes from developer, case studies, tips and tricks from trainers will also be shared through the blog.

Note: Comment is enabled on Google SketchUp Blog

[Via Googlified]

Related: Subscribe | SketchUp Blog

Google Acquired FeedBurner

There has been rumors around for some time that Google will be acquiring the Chicago-based company that provides media distribution and audience engagement services for blogs and RSS feeds as known as FeedBurner. They officially announce the deal today and have sealed the exact amount of money involved in the acquisition but TechCrunch speculates it's around $100 million.

Thought Google didn't reveal much details on why they bought the company, they do say they are constantly looking for ways to “identify and offer new tools for content creators and website publishers” and “give AdWords advertisers broader distribution to an even wider audience of users”.

According to the FAQ, FeedBurner will remain operational as Google continues to integrateFeedBurner technologies with Google's tools. These tools are most likely to be Google Reader, Google Analytics, Google AdWords and AdSense for Feeds and Google Webmaster Tools.

Related: Burning Questions | Official Google Blog

Compound iGoogle Gadgets

Like me, you might have trillions of gadgets on your iGoogle homepage. Though you might already have several tabs sorting gadgets into categories, you might seldom, if not never, visit the secondary tabs because loading a new tab is just too slow and inconvenient. Google engineers came out with a solution to solve this by creating a 'compound gadget' that holds more than one gadget within a gadget separated with tabs.

After adding in this compound unit, you will be able to choose from a list of gadgets that are already in the same tab. But beware, there is one problem (or bug, whatever you call it) with the gadget at the moment, is that once you pick which gadget(s) to include, you will no longer be able to edit the settings of the compound gadget. In other words, you cannot edit the name of the compound gadget, which gadget to included once you have made the initial set up. So be sure to make all necessary customization. By putting gadgets into gadgets, you will find your iGoogle homepage more spacious and allowing you to put more and more (and more) gadgets into your homepage. The compound gadget can be improve to become more user-friendly by allowing users to drag-and-drop gadgets into and out of the compound unit.

Update: It seems it was my problem only about unable to edit the settings of the compound gadget after initial set up.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Google to Weave AdSense onto its Maps

Google announces its plan to integrate AdSense with Google Maps
during Google Developer's Day in London when mentioning the newly released "Mapplets" feature, which lets Web developers display content and build applications within Google Maps. According to Andrew Eland, Google Maps engineer in Zürich, the sponsored markers on the map looks slightly different than the normal ones, and when clicked on show a sponsored link. Developers are allowed to choose whether they want ads on the map, and if so how many ads to display. Google created this to allow developers to monetize their mashups and they get paid whenever the link is followed by a user on the Mapplet, similar to the pay-per-click (PPC) concept used in the AdSense program. Users would be able to set a limit on the number of sponsored ads on their customized map and also turn the feature off.

Related: Google Mapplets | Why Is Google Maps Special?