Friday, April 22, 2011

New About Google - 22 April 2011

  • Long label names in Gmail
    April 21, 2011

    Today we’re making a small change that makes it easier to handle long label names: you can now add and edit label names up to 225 characters. The old limit was 40 characters, which wasn’t enough for some people who had switched from Outlook or accessed Gmail through IMAP.

    Label names can get really long, especially when you use Nested Labels. When that happens, Gmail will shorten them if necessary to avoid cluttering your view.

    You can always mouse
  • Wordpress Plugin for Webmaster Tools verification
    April 21, 2011
    Webmaster Level: All

    For webmasters with self-hosted Wordpress blogs, there’s now a Webmaster Tools site verifcation plugin for Wordpress that completely automates our verification process! You can install it directly from the “Install Plugins” control panel built into your Wordpress blog, or you can download the ZIP file from the Wordpress plugin site. This plugin can only be used by self-hosted Wordpress blogs; it can’t be installed on blogs hosted on

    With verified ownership of your site in Webmaster Tools, you can receive
  • The DOs and DON’Ts of Google Summer of Code: Mentor Edition
    April 21, 2011

    This is the final post in a series of three posts on the DOs and DON’Ts for Google Summer of Code students, mentors, and organization administrators. This post deals with mentors; the first post dealt with students and the second post with organization administrators.

    The role of a mentor is to monitor the progress of each accepted student and to mentor them as the project progresses. Based on our experience with Google Summer of Code, we’d like to share these tips and antipatterns with you to raise awareness and help mentors avoid the same mistakes that have been made by many others. For even more advice, check out the mentor/admin guide.

    Be an active member of the community you are mentoring for.
    One of your goals should be to integrate your student in the project
    community. You can do this best if you are a part of it yourself.
    Introduce the student to the people in your community and your
    communication media. Also familiarize the student with the rules and
    norms that your community abides by and that they might not be aware of
    yet. Apply as a mentor only after interacting with the community.
    Apply as a mentor to organizations where you don’t contribute. Every year, a surprising number of people request to become mentors for nearly every organization in Google Summer of Code simultaneously. In general, this is treated as spam and you will be blacklisted for doing it. One of the goals of Google Summer of Code is
    to introduce the student to the community. You may be an expert in the
    code, but the goal is to integrate code and transform students into
    long-term contributors; if you don’t know the community, both of these
    are much harder.
    Focus on one student.
    New mentors should concentrate on doing an amazing job mentoring one
    student instead of spreading themselves too thinly. Even experienced
    mentors should take caution when thinking about mentoring two
    projects—it’s not unusual for both projects to be mentoring-intensive.
    If that happens, you may not have the time to do your students justice,
    and it’s unfair to fail students because of your own difficulties. This
    is one reason backup mentors are critical.
    Take on too many students. Mentoring
    more than one student in your first year is a recipe for failure. Even
    if it’s your second year, this advice still stands, as the amount of
    time needed to mentor a student varies wildly between students,
    projects, ideas, etc. People mentor multiple students successfully each
    year, but many people fail at it every year too. If you have experience
    and still want to mentor two or more students, plan to set aside time
    during your full-time job because your free time probably won’t be
    Communicate frequently with your student and org admin(s).
    You’ll need to answer to both your org admin and student— make their
    lives easier by being available when they need you. Most admins will
    periodically check in to make sure all your organization’s projects are
    on track; if you don’t respond in a timely manner, they may think your
    project is failing. Your student often has a regular stream of
    questions, some of which can’t be answered by Google, so be available
    to avoid wasting your student’s time and delaying the project.
    Some students will need constant access to their mentors. If you intend
    on being out of touch for even a relatively short period of time, even
    just a few days, let your student know ahead of time. Arrange it so
    that your student is able to reach a backup mentor during this time and
    having the student know about this backup mentor from the beginning of
    the project is also good advice. Although disappearing mentors are less
    common than disappearing students, they do happen. This can really put
    a strain on your org admin who has to replace you on short notice,
    maybe near a deadline.
    Set aside at least 5 hours a week for mentoring.
    The student has to do the actual work over the summer but you’ve
    committed to help them along the way. Depending on how much help your
    student needs, this can be a significant task. Set aside at least 5
    hours per week for mentoring unless you are certain the student is well
    integrated and supported by the whole community. And even then, plan
    for road-blocks along the way that you need to help with.
    Underestimate mentoring effort.
    Mentoring takes time. No, really, it does. You might be lucky and have
    a student who needs little mentoring, but you probably won’t. If you
    don’t have at least a few hours per week over the course of the
    program, you have two options. You can either choose not to mentor or
    you can team up with another member of your team as a back-up mentor.
    Be aware that ‘a few hours’ can grow quite significantly if you or the
    student overestimated their abilities, underestimated the project, or
    they need more significant help than you planned.
    Give your student frequent feedback on performance.
    Let the student know whether you are happy or unhappy with his
    performance. Chances are he can’t properly judge his own performance
    and abilities yet. Make sure your student sees failure coming a mile
    away; it should never be a surprise. You also want to ensure your
    student knows his work is high-quality, if it is. Give feedback
    regularly. This goes both ways—ask your student if he is happy with
    your mentoring and where you might be able to improve.
    Provide zero feedback, then abruptly fail the student.
    The student depends on feedback from the mentor. This includes
    situations where things don’t go as planned. If it is the student’s
    fault, he should learn about it as soon as possible to be able to
    correct it, and more importantly, avoid repeating it. Failing your
    student by surprise is almost guaranteed to end up with bad feelings on
    both sides and can result in appeals to Google. It’s equally bad for a
    student to spend the summer frightened that they’re doing a terrible
    job because you haven’t told them that they are actually doing fine (or
    better). Communicate.
    Ensure your student’s code is ready to integrate.
    Seeing code shipped in a release and then used by thousands of people
    is the ultimate motivation to continue being an active part of your
    community for many people. You should help and motivate your student to
    go those few extra steps and get their summer’s work into a release.
    You can jump-start this with small tasks and bug fixes before
    application time, or in the community bonding period. This way you can
    ensure your student has some code committed before even starting the
    project. Encourage students to keep code in a state where you can still
    integrate it if they leave the project immediately after, or even
    Google Summer of Code.
    Fail to ship your student’s code. Your student might not have gotten the code into a state that’s ready to release or integrate by the end of Google Summer of Code.
    Do not wait too long with this—if the goal isn’t the next release, it
    may never happen. Committing the result is an expectation worth
    setting, so ensure your student understands this from the beginning of
    the project. If your student forks or branches early and doesn’t track
    any changes to trunk it can be hard to integrate. If your student
    develops in a non-agile style where the code doesn’t work at all unless
    the whole project works perfectly, the same problem can arise.
    Prevent your student from going down dead ends with code.
    Your student will make mistakes and wrong decisions. It is your job as
    his mentor to intervene when he is stuck or heading in the wrong
    direction. Do this early.
    Google Summer of Code
    is too short for anything else. This requires you to keep a close eye
    on what he is doing. Some teams prefer short daily meetings to make
    sure everyone is on top of things and know what everyone else is
    working on. It’s also important to reinforce good practices so the
    student can continue to use them.
    Review your student’s code for the first time at the end of the summer.
    Your student might be a genius and a mind reader but chances are that
    he isn’t. He probably won’t create an excellent design, write perfect
    code and deliver stunning documentation independently. He’s probably
    never done a project of this size before. If you don’t find problems
    early, they pile up and lead to a failed project with nobody to blame
    for it but yourself.
    Promote your student’s independence.
    When your student encounters a problem and comes to you or the
    community for help, ask her to suggest a potential solution as well.
    This encourages your student to learn how to do research and to fully
    understand problems and how to get into the mindset of solving them. It
    also makes it much more likely that her questions are well-informed,
    giving the community a much better impression of your student. When
    possible, direct your student to participate directly in the community
    rather than acting as a conduit, because close ties to the community
    make it more likely that she will want to stay involved with the
    community after the summer.
    Get between your student and the community or the code.
    It’s easy to fall into the trap of writing tricky code or solving every
    difficult problem for your student. This prevents students from gaining
    skill and confidence by solving their own problems, or at least making
    progress toward a solution. One of the best ways to ensure your student
    disappears at the end of the summer is to never invite her into the
    broader community of your organization. Without social ties, students
    are much more likely to move on to other things and leave your
    organization behind.

    Making Google Summer of Code the best possible program requires preparation and a commitment to excellence from all participants. Now that we’ve provided suggestions for mentors, org admins, and students, you should know how to avoid the most common problems at every level. Whatever role you would like to play in Google Summer of Code or a similar program, read everything you can so you are fully prepared for the experience. Good luck, and have fun in your endeavors.

    By Donnie Berkholz, Lydia Pintscher, and Kevin Smith, Google Summer of Code Administrators for Gentoo & X.Org, KDE, and XMPP Standards Foundation, respectively

  • Life in a Day - coming to theaters this summer
    April 21, 2011
    On July 24, 2010, thousands of people around the world uploaded videos of their day to YouTube to take part in Life in a Day, a historic cinematic experiment to create a documentary film about a single day on earth. From over 80,000 submissions, executive producer Ridley Scott and Oscar winning director Kevin Macdonald have crafted a 90-minute feature film that paints a surprising, moving and entertaining portrait of the world today.

    The movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and was simultaneously live streamed here on YouTube
  • More powerful collaboration
    April 21, 2011
    Until now, CSE has had a simple collaboration feature that lets the owner of a custom search engine invite friends or colleagues to contribute sites, and assign labels to these sites. This was useful in expanding the scope of a search engine, but beyond expanding indexing, it limited what collaborators were able to do.

    Starting today, we’re replacing the current collaboration options with more powerful shared administration features. Through Admin accounts, a new tab in your control panel, you can now invite collaborators to become shared administrators
  • Prediction API: Every app a smart app
    April 21, 2011
    By Travis Green of the Google Prediction API Team.

    If you’re looking to make your app smarter and you think machine learning is more complicated than making three API calls, then you’re reading the right blog post.

    Today, we are releasing v1.2 of the Google Prediction API, which makes it even easier for preview users to build smarter apps by accessing Google’s advanced machine learning algorithms through a RESTful web service.

    Some technical details of the Prediction API:
    • Chooses best technique from several available machine learning

  • Android for Good at Google I/O 2011
    April 21, 2011
    By Zi Wang of the Android Team

    Do you have an unlocked Android device that you no longer need? If you’re coming to Google I/O, you can make a world of difference by donating it to Android for Good.

    Android for Good evolved from a program at Google started by one passionate engineer with an idea to help the developing world through technology. A small team collected Android devices from Googlers around the world and organized their donation to groups including Grameem’s AppLab Community Knowledge Worker Initiative in Uganda, Save
  • SketchUp Pro Case Study: Peter Wells Design
    April 21, 2011
    Peter Wells is a Glendale, Wisconsin-based independent remodeling designer serving Milwaukee and the southeastern part of the state. Working through builders or direct with homeowners, Wells creates award-winning residential design solutions for kitchens, bathrooms, lower levels and additions. He belongs to the local NARI chapter & his new company is in its fourth year of production.
    In the remodeling business, every new project brings its own unique design challenge. Solutions often have to be submitted with in very short window of

  • Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plain
    April 21, 2011
    Rodgers and Hammerstein weren’t kidding when they wrote what is now Oklahoma’s official state song. The gusts on the plains are fierce, which makes the Sooner State a great place to harness clean, renewable wind energy. Our commitment to greening our energy supply is also strong, which is why we’ve just signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) for wind energy—our second in less than a year—in Oklahoma.

    The purchase is similar in size and structure to the agreement we signed last July for wind energy in Iowa, but this time we will be applying
  • More predictions in autocomplete
    April 20, 2011
    I work on a team that develops autocomplete—the feature that provides predicted searches while you type. When you combine autocomplete with Google Instant, you can really accelerate your searching. Because it is so important to your search experience, we’ve been looking for ways to provide predictions for even more queries. Today we’re improving the predictive powers of autocomplete, helping you search for things even when no one else in the world has.

    One of the main ways autocomplete works is by looking at the most popular searches on Google
  • Former student pays it forward as a mentor for Google Code-in
    April 20, 2011

    Charlie Gordon was a student participant in the Google Highly Open Participation Contest, an earlier version of Google Code-in that pairs high school students with mentors in open source projects. Here he discusses his recent experience as a Mentor for the 2010-2011 Google Code-in.

    There were so many great stories from Google Code-in that it's hard to pick out just a few. I'm always so excited to get young people involved in open source - I remember how excited I was when I participated in the Google Highly Open Participation Contest

  • Check out the latest from the Developer Sandbox at Google I/O 2011
    April 20, 2011
    By Dusty Reid and Christine Songco of the Google I/O Team.

    With Google I/O 2011 less than a month away, we wanted to give you a preview of the partners who will be present at our Developer Sandbox. Starting today, you can visit the Developer Sandbox page on our website for a preview of who will be exhibiting at Google I/O 2011. Think of the Sandbox as a place where you can get real-life case studies and hands-on time with developers who use Google technologies to build products. We have 128 partners participating across 10 product
  • New Interface Wednesdays: New report available by country
    April 20, 2011
    Have you ever wanted to understand your AdSense performance based on where your users are? Now you can do just that with the countries report.

    To report by country, simply navigate to the Performance reports tab. In the navigation sidebar, click on the "Countries" report. This report will show your site's earnings by visitor country.

    Please note that the countries report won't contain historical earnings data prior to when this feature is made available in your account. You can view earlier click and impression data by countries, but historical
  • Here Comes The Bride… or Bridezilla!
    April 20, 2011
    It is wedding season again! Many brides-to-be are planning their big day. For anyone that has planned a wedding or been a part of a wedding party, you know how many details must be executed flawlessly. Some less fortunate bridesmaids have witnessed what can happen if any details fall apart. Good thing Google has created a way for brides-to-be to keep organized through!

    As a retailer, you connect with budding brides (and grooms) early in wedding planning process, and have the opportunity to keep brides from becoming bridezillas

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