Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Use Google Maps to Track Flood in UK

The newly released mapplets feature in Google Maps has created a platform for BBC Berkshire to create a flood map showing latest flood warning information, locations of emergency centers, photos, video and audio reports from correspondents across Berkshire. Read more about the flood map in BBC Berkshire.

In 2005, when Katrina stroke New Orleans, Google Earth provided satellite images of the flood. This time with mapplets, however, individual users (in this case BBC) can make use of the interactive mapping tools and take the initiative to generate flood maps.

Launch Flood Map

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Blogger Adds Robots.txt

If you use Google Sitemaps for your Blogger and you are seeing a sudden increase in the number of links being blocks by robots.txt, don't panic as it is not anything you did wrong. It is all because Blogger is adding robots.txt by default recently. As you can see from the codes below, all pages under the /search directory is being disallowed meaning and pages under the /search directory would not appear included in any search result pages of major search engines (e.g. Google, Yahoo and

User-agent: *
Disallow: /search
This is, in fact, a good news to Blogger users as Google is treating most of these blocked pages as duplicated content and are listing them as 'Supplemental Results'. Furthermore, the more duplicated content you site has, the less Google is weighing your site's content.

A further improvement towards this great feature is to allow Blogger users to customize their own robots.txt so they could prevent undesired content from appearing in search results.

Note: If you are using Blogger and has recently directed your feed to FeedBurner, make sure you change your sitemap URL in Google Sitemaps to instead of just otherwise an error would occur in Google Sitemaps.

Google Ready to Capture the Entire US?

Wow, was my respond when I first saw the above image taken in the Google parking in Mountain View, California. (Followed by an OMG) As you can see, there is an entire fleet of at least 30 brand-new Chevy Cobalt cars, most without license plates, each with a metal frame attached at the top which is highly likely to be a vertical extension for mounting Google's Street View 360° camera.

Here's a closeup:
This should be how the car is going to look when the 11-lens + 360 degree camera is installed:
If you still haven't put up a robot.txt (v2.0) outside your garden, you better do now! :P

[Via Gizmodo]

Monday, July 16, 2007

Picasa Helping Spammers

Without any CAPTCHA or spam prevention algorithms, spammers are taking advantage of the flaw in its album sharing feature to send out spam emails. Spammers send out album invitations together with a whole chunk of spam message and could easily get around Gmail's spam filters and arrive in victim's Inbox as the sender is from a highly trusted source - a Google domain.

There have been similar reports by Gmail users in the Google Blogoscoped Forum. And spammers have also eyed Picasa's comment system to distribute spam.

It is clear that the next mission for the Picasa Team is to find away to avoid spammers from abusing its system.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Google AdSense Ran Out of Fund

A recent blog post from a AdSense publisher reveal that AdSense's bank account does not have adequate funds to cover the amount listed on the check. Here is an extract from the conversation between the unlucky publisher and the bank teller:

“There aren’t sufficient funds in the account to cover your check.” *stunned silence* I say, “Excuse me, could you repeat that?” She does. ...

First, denial and disbelief. I say, “Are you sure? Do you know who Google is? You’re kidding me, right?” She says she does know who Google is, but that this particular account doesn’t have enough funds to cover my check. I’m too stunned to move. I look down at the check handled back to me and look back up at her confused.

Next, shock and awe. I say to the teller, “How does a gazillionaire company like Google have a bank account with so little money in it?” She laughs. I laugh.

I really don't know how to comment on this ... It sounds insane to me.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Google to Add 'Unavailable After' META Tag

The director of crawl systems at Google, Dan Crow is releasing a new META tag named "unavailable_after".

Easily understood from the name, the "unavailable_after" tag will tell Google when Googlebot should no longer crawl that page. It is especially useful for limited time offer promotional pages where the promotions will expire on a specific date. By using the "unavailable_after" tag, you can tell Google not to crawl these pages, after the promotions expire.

[Via Search Engine Land]

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Add Interactive Search to Blogger Without Knowing AJAX

Blogger in Draft launched a pretty handy new feature that allows users to add in Google AJAX Search to their blogs without knowing any coding. Users could add in a Google Custom Search box as a new page element and choose what the search results will cover, i.e. Only the content in the blog, sites that the blog links to or the web. Different results are separated in tabs.

Here are a few suggestions from me:

  1. Bloggers should be able to add in their own AdSense publisher ID to enjoy a revenue share with Google every time a visitor clicks on the ads in the search results.
  2. More customizable options should be added to the set up menu. Users should be able to control stuff like the color scheme of the search results, whether the Google logo is displayed outside the search box or inside the text box.
  3. Other kinds of Google search (such as Blog Search, Image Search, etc.) should be made available.
Furthermore, the 'Poll' feature is out of draft!

Related: Blogger in Draft

Gmail New Signup Button

A slight update to the Gmail homepage by replacing the old tedious single line 'Sign up for Gmail' with the Mac style 'Pick a name »' button and a call to action statement 'New to Gmail? It's easy to start.'

Gmail Old Signup
Gmail New SignupIf you were new to Gmail, would you be attracted to sign up? Which do you think is better?

Related: Keep up-to-date with the news and updates of Gmail by subscribing to their newly established blog.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Google Pack Improves Navigation

Google Pack updated their homepage making it clearer to you (as a users) which softwares are already installed on your computer and which are not. There is also a new table showing short descriptions align with one of the most good-looking screenshot of each software.

Google Pack is (an unpopular) product from Google providing free collection of essential software aiming to streamline downloading, installing, and updating software. It is currently promoted under the AdSense Referral program where publishers earn at most USD2 for each referral.