Monday, December 31, 2007

Real Time Flight Status

Google's flight stats search feature now delivers real time status and information in the search result OneBox. Just type the name of the airline and flight number (e.g. American 123, ua226) into the search box and you shall see something like this:
The information is provided by FlightStats.com which uses data feeds from the US Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Aircraft Situation Display to Industry (ASDI). I have tested it with some flights departing from Hong Kong and it works fine so I guess it is available for all international flights.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Google Soon To Enter Online Encyclopedia Market

Google is privately testing an online encyclopedia called Google Knol. Here are a few fast facts that differentiates it from Wikipedia (by far one of the most popular free encyclopedia on the web):
  1. One author, one wiki. Users no longer collaborate to produce one page, rather, each author posts his own page. Google says: "We hope that knols will include the opinions and points of view of the authors who will put their reputation on the line. Anyone will be free to write. For many topics, there will likely be competing knols on the same subject. Competition of ideas is a good thing."
  2. More community features. Google says: "Knols will include strong community tools. People will be able to submit comments, questions, edits, additional content, and so on. Anyone will be able to rate a knol or write a review of it."
  3. Revenue-share with authors. Google says: "At the discretion of the author, a knol may include ads. If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with substantial revenue share from the proceeds of those ads."
[Via Official Google Blog]

YouTube Updates Videos Page

Back in October, YouTube let its users to preview the upcoming Videos page which aroused a number of negative feedback.

Image Credit: Googlified
In November, they rolled out an updated version which took away the shinning red and popup AJAX menus. And recently, they further updated it by adding in related videos for 'spotlight' videos and allows you to go back and forth with AJAX buttons:
The updated Videos page is running across all local versions of YouTube though only the US version shows spotlight videos.

Update: You will also see a Add to Google button (Add to Google) at the bottom of each page right next to the search box at the very bottom.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Saint Lucia Day Doodle in Sweeden

Saint Lucy's Day is the Church feast day holiday dedicated to St. Lucy and is observed on December 13. It marks ... the beginning of the Christmas season. ... In traditional celebrations, Saint Lucy typically comes as a young woman with lights and sweets. [Wikipedia]

I just felt that Google should not restrict doodles to countries that has a certain festival so that people from other parts of the world can learn more about festivals in other countries. What a good way to learn. Maybe call it ... doodling.

AdSense to Open in New Window in China

According to the Official Google China AdSense Blog , ads of Chinese AdSense publishers will open in new window starting from today. This is in respond to the overwhelming request from publishers and to improve user experience of Chinese web surfers. This is what the rest of the post said:

The Chinese market and the demands of Chinese publishers is very important to Google AdSense network. We hope to being better experience to users, more revenue to publishers and more earnings to advertisers through constant improvement of our products. By this, we could achieve four-win situation: users win, publishers win, advertisers win, Google wins.
Currently, worldwide publishers cannot alter their AdSense codes to open ads in new window according to the AdSense Help Center.

Related: Google has been testing out toggle ads. Read more ...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

YouTube Toggle Ads

Update: Apparently this is not a YouTube experiment, rather, it is an AdSense experiment.

YouTube is testing toggle ads in its Hong Kong version. You can toggle up or down by clicking on the arrows. There are five 'sets' of ads that you can toggle around. It is interesting enough to see if this actually increases CTR.
Here is a video of the toggle ads in action:

video

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Google Customized for iPhone

Google has done a lot of customization to make its online applications look good on iPhone. Gmail supported IMAP. Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Reader made its interface iPhone-friendly. According to TechCrunch, they now integrate all these apps into one page if you visit Google.com in your iPhone:
Maybe a lot of Googlers are using iPhone themselves ...

Send YouTube Holiday Cards

Bored by the free (full of ads) e-cards you get every holiday? YouTube offers something special this Christmas. You can now greet your relatives or best friends with video holiday cards by following a few simple steps. First, either pick a video already on YouTube or upload a new (customized) one yourself and click on this banner next to that video:
Then pick a template you want and type in your name, personal message and recipient:
And you're done! Your card is then hosted on YouTube with a public link that you can save for later use (maybe for next year :P):
Your recipient will receive a notification like this in his/her Inbox and would be redirected to the holiday card when clicking on the video snapshot:Your friend can now watch the video:
I think this is a pretty nice way of staying connected with your overseas friends and you can really 'say' something or even 'show' him/her around your newly renovated room.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Gmail Colored Labels

You can now use colors to distinguish labels in Gmail with Gmail 2.0. Click the color swatch next to each label to assign a color:You can also easily remove labels from the top of an email:
[Via Official Gmail Blog]

Saturday, December 1, 2007

New Gmail Login Pages

Gmail is testing out some new login pages which put more emphasis on its integration with other Google products and its spam-filtering technology instead of storage and search. This is quite understandable as Gmail has already initiated a dramatic increase in the amount of free storage provided to consumers on web-based email clients (i.e. Hotmail is up from 2MB to 5GB while Yahoo goes from 10MB to 'Unlimited'). This design emphasize the benefits of getting a Gmail account:
Gmail gives you more than email

A Gmail account gets you access to many other useful Google services, like:

Less spam Google Docs
Create and share documents, spreadsheets and presentations online. Open Gmail attachments in Google Docs and begin collaborating right away.
Search Google Calendar
Organize your schedule, share calendars, and search for public events. Gmail automatically displays an "Add to calendar" link for messages that contain event information.
Storage More Google products
Get access to photo sharing with Picasa Web Albums, discussions in Google Groups, and track blogs and news in Google Reader.

Gmail's unfailing efforts in fight spam has made it stand out of the crowd:
Gmail keeps spam out of your inbox

Gmail users often cite great spam protection as a key reason they love Gmail. To keep spam out of your inbox, Gmail uses:

Less spam Advanced spam-fighting technology
Gmail's spam filters run on the same computing infrastructure that powers Google search, and use innovative Google technologies to detect and block spam.
Search Community spam reporting
By reporting unwanted messages, Gmail users play an important role in keeping spammy messages out of millions of inboxes.
Storage Rigorous checks
Gmail supports multiple authentication systems and performs rigorous checks on all incoming mail.

You as a Gmail user, what feature(s) do you think is more unique and makes you like Gmail?

Microsoft Challenges Picasa on YouTube

Still remember the tag line Microsoft used to promote its latest operating system Windows Vista? Wow! This was the same reaction I got when I visited YouTube's homepage today. Microsoft is running a campaign on YouTube promoting Windows Vista and Windows Live. Windows Live is Microsoft's series of products that aims at regaining the lost market share to Google's online applications. After you have watched the video title "So many memories, so many easy ways to share", you might agree with me that the campaign is targetting Google's Picasa by promoting its own Live Gallery:

The campaign also includes a promotion video on YouTube's homepage and a channel called WinVistaLive (which has uploaded one video so far). :
Apparently, Microsoft has decided to disable ratings and comments for the video as it has received pretty negative ratings:
Some YouTubers took this opportunity to express their dissatisfaction about Vista on the campaign channel homepage. Here are some of them:
  • "Windows Vista SUCK!!"
  • "I am running Vista right now ... And i am kinda considering switching to Mac..."
  • "Why did Microsoft copy apple's ideas"
I use Picasa and I like it very much. Picasa to me is iPhoto on PCs.