Wednesday, October 5, 2011

New About Google - 05 October 2011

  • Questions about the mobile consumer? Our Mobile Planet has answers.
    October 5, 2011
    (cross-posted on the Google Mobile Ads Blog)

    Good data on the smartphone user is hard to come by. Good data that enables companies to make data driven decisions on how to engage with consumers on their smartphone is even harder to come by.

    Today we are launching a new resource to address that need. Our Mobile Planet is a new web site featuring an interactive tool that anyone can use to create custom charts that will deepen their understanding of the mobile consumer and support data driven decisions on their mobile strategy.

    The site gives anyone access the full set of data from the “Global Mobile Research: The Smartphone User & The Mobile Marketer” we conducted earlier this year (March & July 2011) with Ipsos and in collaboration with the Mobile Marketing Association.

    Example of a presentation ready chart on
    Need to know the smartphone penetration in Singapore? It’s 62%. Trying to figure out if more consumers in France or Germany have made purchases via their smartphone? It’s France. Want to know if consumers in the UK visit a store after doing a local search on their smartphone? 41% of them do.

    Now anyone - marketer, app developer, tech geek, big or small - can answer these questions and many more by drawing on one of the the most extensive, far reaching standardized surveys on smartphone user behavior ever conducted. Not to mention, this is the first time a study this extensive has been made available for free. 

    We commissioned this survey and have made the data available for free because we believe the shift to mobile is so fundamental that we need to do everything we can to help businesses adapt immediately.

    Posted by Nicole Leverich, The Google Mobile Ads Marketing Team

  • Gnucash accounts for a successful summer
    October 4, 2011

    Gnucash, a free accounting program for Linux, Microsoft Windows, and Apple Macintosh OSX, had its second opportunity to mentor students in the Google Summer of Code program this summer. Two of our three students successfully completed their projects.

    Muslim Chochlov wrote unit tests for several critical modules of Gnucash's core Query Object Framework. This is an important first step to some necessary refactoring of the framework so that Gnucash can move from an in-memory processing model to a transactional database model allowing simultaneous multiple user access.

    Nitish Dodagetta extended the experimental Qt GUI "Cutecash" (Gnucash's primary GUI is Gtk+) by writing a unified accounting transaction entry window. The Gnucash development team is investigating Qt and C++ as a future direction for Gnucash, and this struck a chord for Google Summer of Code students: half of the proposals we received from the student applicants prior to the start of the program were for Cutecash projects.

    Overall we were pleased with the progress we made this summer; we found that the successful students leveraged the work of their mentors and moved forward some important aspects of the project. We're continuing to work with the students this fall, integrating them into the regular development team. Mentoring up-and-coming programmers is very rewarding, and we enjoy encouraging them to use their skills for altruistic goals.

    By John Ralls,

  • Speed Up SketchUp: Use Fast Styles
    October 4, 2011
    You might not realize that the display settings you choose to apply to your models can affect SketchUp’s speed and general responsiveness. Turning on fancy edge effects and other doodads will slow you down when your model gets big.
    When you’re working on a big model, you want to make sure that you’re using a style whose Edge Settings panel looks like the one in the image below. Everything but "Edges" should be turned off.

    The Face Settings panel is where you can choose not to display Transparency. When Transparency is turned on, SketchUp has to redraw your model on the screen several times—each time you change your viewpoint. If you don’t need to see through your windows just now, opt to temporarily view these faces without transparency.

    The Background Settings panel is handy for turning off Sky and Ground, both of which cause your computer to do extra thinking while you’re working.

    Unless you absolutely need them, you should use the checkbox in the Watermark Settings panel to turn off Watermarks.

    The only toggles in the Modeling Settings panel you really need to worry about are the ones for Hidden Geometry and Section Planes. Obviously, you shouldn’t have wither of these displayed if speed is what you’re aiming for.

    Once you’ve configured your own fast style, you should save it. Just give it a new name (I suggest “Fast Style”), hit Enter, and click the Create New Style button in the Styles Browser. You new style is saved in the "In Model" collection of styles, which is only associated with the model you’re currently working on.

    Incidentally, almost all of the choices in SketchUp’s Default Styles collection are so-called “Fast styles” — their Edge Display settings are already configured for speed. Choosing any one of these styles will switch off extraneous effects.

    Make a Fast Scene
    True SketchUp whizzes invariably go one step further and add a special “Fast” scene that they can activate whenever they need to. Rather than having to mess with the Styles Browser every time they want to activate their Fast Style, they just click a scene tab at the top of the modeling window. This Fast scene is usually set up to do three things: Switch to a Fast style, turn off Shadows, and turn off Fog.
    Follow these steps to add a Fast scene to your model:
    1. Apply a Fast style to your model by choosing it from the Style Browser’s Select tab.
    2. Make sure Shadows and Fog are both turned off. These toggles are in the View menu.
    3. Choose Window > Scenes to open the Scenes Manager.
    4. Expand the Scenes Manager by clicking the Show Details button in the upper right corner.
    5. Click the Add Scene button to add a new scene to your model.
    6. Rename your new scene “Fast” (or something similarly descriptive) and hit Enter on your keyboard.
    7. Make sure that only the “Style and Fog” and “Shadow Settings” checkboxes are selected in the Properties to Save section of the Scenes Manager.

    From now on, all you have to do is click the "Fast" scene tab when you want to improve SketchUp's performance. Instant productivity boost!

  • Webmaster Tools Search Queries data is now available in Google Analytics
    October 4, 2011
    Webmaster level: All

    Earlier this year we announced a limited pilot for Search Engine Optimization reports in Google Analytics, based on Search queries data from Webmaster Tools. Thanks to valuable feedback from our pilot users, we’ve made several improvements and are pleased to announce that the following reports are now publicly available in the Traffic Sources section of Google Analytics.
    • Queries: impressions, clicks, position, and CTR info for the top 1,000 daily queries
    • Landing Pages: impressions, clicks, position, and CTR info for the top 1,000 daily landing pages
    • Geographical Summary: impressions, clicks, and CTR by country
    All of these Search Engine Optimization reports offer Google Analytics’ advanced filtering and visualization capabilities for deeper data analysis. With the secondary dimensions, you can view your site’s data in ways that aren’t available in Webmaster Tools.

    To enable these Search Engine Optimization reports for a web property, you must be both a Webmaster Tools verified site owner and a Google Analytics administrator of that Property. Once enabled, administrators can choose which profiles can see these reports.

    If you have feedback or suggestions, please let us know in the Webmaster Help Forum.

  • Google+ APIs: now with Search and more
    October 4, 2011

    By Jordanna Chord, Software Engineer, Google+ API Team

    Cross-posted with the Google+ Platform Blog

    Thank you to all of you who tried out our first Google+ API release and let us know how you were using it. And thank you also to those of you who asked for more. In the spirit of releasing early and often, today we’ve released some of the new features that you requested.

    Search for it

    Last month we launched search in Google+, and now it’s available in the API. You can search for public posts using the new method by sending the following HTTP request:

    This method searches across the body and comments of public posts. It returns the following JSON encoded output (excerpted for brevity):
     "kind": "plus#activityFeed",
     "title": "Plus Search for cookie recipes",
     "updated": "2011-09-30T16:57:34.479Z",
     "id": ",2010:buzz-search-feed:x4rIYTKpR7NZCL8Id8RHXQ",
     "items": [
       "kind": "plus#activity",
       “id”: “123”,
       "title": "You have to try these out.",
       "object": {
        "objectType": "note",
        "content": "I’m baking halloween cookies!",
       "kind": "plus#activity",
       “id”: “456”,
       "title": "Cookies",
       "object": {
        "objectType": "note",
        "content": "Cookies and milk for dinner. Don’t judge me.",

    You can search for people by using the method:


    This searches across public profile information including fields such as name, bio, location, tag line, and description.

    The rest of the conversation

    Our first API release let you retrieve public posts. We’ve now added ways for you to see how people are publicly engaging with those posts -- you can find out who reshared a post or who +1’d a post, and you can read the comments on a post.

    The new method people.listByActivity supports retrieving resharers and +1’ers by sending the following HTTP requests:

    And comments can be retrieved by the new comments.list and comments.get methods:

    Tell us what you think

    As an API developer, I love seeing what people build on top of the APIs I’ve worked on. We have been reading your posts on the Discussion Board and issue tracker and I am excited to see more of your creative ideas. We will continue incorporating your feedback into our design discussions, so please keep it coming.

    Follow the conversation on Google+.

    Jordanna Chord is a Software Engineer on the Google+ API Team

    Posted by Scott Knaster, Editor

  • Music Tuesday: Wilco, an introduction to juking, and more
    October 4, 2011
    What’s happening on this week? We dig into two facets of Chicago’s music scene, starting with Wilco’s indie-Americana explorations and then exploring the future-forward sound of juke. And then we go even farther afield...come with us!

    Wilco curation
    The iconic Chicago band Wilco have just released one of the most acclaimed albums of their career -- and possibly of 2011 (time will tell) -- in The Whole Love. The hook-filled album also stretches at its sonic space, artfully scarring its easy beauty with shards of noise and the occasional extended guitar jam. And yes, they’ve made some pretty lovely videos to go along with it. We invited the band to take over the YouTube homepage today, and they flood it with music you might not ordinarily see there. Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim. The inimitable Bill Withers. They gravitate to music that endures...not unlike their own.

    Chicago Juke
    While Wilco reps one aspect of Chi-town (its indie-Americana side), we turned to a completely different set of musicians to explore another facet of the city’s music scene. Maybe you've heard about juking. It's a dance scene; it's a musical style. It was born in Chicago, and it takes house music and hip-hop and strips them down, cranking up the BPMs and muddying the production values so it feels as if it could have come out of any corner of the world. People get wild to it; the footwork style has become hugely inspirational to dancers around the country. Even overseas dubstep producers have been influenced by the scene in recent years. Check out our introduction to this vibrant musical subculture.

    Dakha Brakha “Vesna” Speaking of going local, you can’t get much more local than Dakha Brakha -- it’s just that the locale is a bit farther afield. (The Ukraine, to be exact.) Dakha Brakha play Ukranian folk music, but they do it with such art-house panache that it feels avant-garde instead of old. In “Vesna,” the band’s most recent video, they emerge from Ukraine’s forests in full traditional garb, setting up and performing in modern-day Kiev. The video builds slowly, but by the time it ends, modern life feels as if it’s been briefly transformed.

    Sarah Bardeen, Music Community Manager, recently watched “Yo Yo Ma - Attaboy.”

  • Using AWCLI (AdWords Command Line Interface)
    October 4, 2011
    Earlier this year we released a demo that allows you to run AdWords API queries from the command line. Today, a new version is available and I’d like to point out some of its features.

    Accessing production environment

    We’ve made a change to reduce a risk of accidentally running the demo tool against a production environment. Since version 1.2.0, an explicit ‘--prod’ flag is required in order to query billable services. Check out ‘awcli --help’ for all available command-line options.

    Automatic batch mode

    AWCLI can now run in interactive or batch mode and detects the required mode automatically. In interactive mode, you will get a prompt to type your commands:

    In batch mode, any extra input is suppressed and the application exits after a command completes. This makes it easier to use the tool in shell scripts:
    bash $ echo ls | ./
        #1 Campaign Name [69266990]
    bash $

    You can also specify a command and its parameters as extra arguments to the tool itself:
    bash $ ./ --prod ls 69266990
        #1 AdGroup name [2390064350]
    bash $

    Browsing Ad Parameters

    A new CriterionLocation was added which allows you to browse Criteria. This enables you to list and view AdParams associated with your criteria:
    bash $ ./ [options] ls //
        #1 $100 [1]
        #2 50 [2]
    bash $
    ...and even edit them: 'edit #1' will spawn your configured editor. The changes will be automatically applied when you save and exit.

    Querying stats

    You can combine AWCLI output with other command-line tools to retrieve parts of the information you need. For example, you can use Unix filters to obtain ad group stats:
    bash $ ./ --prod cat / | grep -E "clicks|impressions"
            clicks = 12,
            impressions = 160,
    bash $

    Getting AWCLI

    AWCLI is available from the Google Code page and is part of the AdWords Java API client libraries project. You can find installation and running instructions as well as usage examples on the wiki page. Please join us to discuss the tool and report any issues on the project page or forum.

    Danial Klimkin, AdWords API Team.

  • Shop with confidence across the web
    October 3, 2011
    (cross-posted on the Google Commerce Blog)

    More than 100 OfficeMax stores now accept Google Wallet, so shoppers can pay, use MaxPerks Rewards Membership cards, and soon redeem coupons all with a single tap of their phones. Google Wallet is a mobile application that lets consumer tap, pay and save at enabled retail locations. OfficeMax has enabled stores for Google Wallet throughout the greater New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. areas.

    As OfficeMax’s Strategic Partner Development Manager, I’ve had the pleasure of working with OfficeMax from start to finish, culminating in Wallet’s deployment in over 100 of their stores. From the day I shared the vision of Google Wallet, it was clear that they grasped the short-term implications of a mobile payments system built on three pillars - payments, offers and loyalty - and also saw the long-term potential of a more robust ecosystem as we continue to iterate on the product.

    Our merchant ecosystem is growing constantly, so visit our website for up-to-date information on locations that accept Google Wallet. You can start using Google Wallet now if you have a Sprint Nexus S 4G phone, or you can buy the phone today on the web or at your nearest Sprint store.

    Posted by Robyn Katzman, Commerce Strategic Partnerships

  • Department Stores Differentiate With Exclusive Brands
    October 3, 2011
    It's no secret: the continuing rise of web commerce, combined with the rapid evolution of smartphones, gives shoppers the option to do extensive research and make decisions based on price, location or just plain preference. In fact, 2 out of 3 moms shops with a smartphone in hand! And while this offers retailers numerous opportunities to reach their customers, it also means that moving units requires more differentiation than ever to stand out from the well-researched pack.

    But department stores are responding to the evolving landscape by signing exclusive deals with brand names, famous designers, and of-the-moment celebs, in the hopes that stocking unique products will give consumers an incentive to visit specific stores, while simultaneously providing retailers with a selection of merchandise safe from the info-fueled wars.

    Such changes are happening fast and wide: according to the recent New York Times piece linked above, major retailers like J.C. Penney and Kohl's already see such exclusives driving up to 50% of their sales, while many other major stores are scrambling to follow suit.

    The exclusives vary from entire collections focused on budget consumers, to stores that offer their own special versions of the highest-end products. For example, J. Lo and Marc Anthony just launched a line of affordable apparel and home decor exclusive to Kohl's, while Neiman Marcus is the only place you'll find this rather amazing Christian Louboutin sandal.

    Such an array of exclusives offers a wide variety of choices, but often leaves consumers confused as they try to figure out where to go for which products. Sure, it's easy enough to remember that the Kardashian Collection is only available at Sears - but it's a bit harder to keep straight that the Kardashian-endorsed Skechers Shape-Ups are actually available at multiple stores. And what's the difference between Martha Stewart Living (only available at Home Depot), and the Martha Stewart Collection (only available at Macy's)?

    When the ever-increasing myriad of options overwhelms consumers, they turn to the web to help sort things out - and it's imperative that stores with exclusive offerings establish an online presence around them. This includes:
    • Running specially-tailored Creatives that emphasize exclusive brand offerings
    • Investing on Search terms related to designers/celebs whose lines they carry
    • Staying alert for Display and/or Video opportunities on related content, especially for lines driven by celebrity endorsement or design (after all, if someone can't stop rocking out to "Party In The USA", it's a decent bet she'll also want to rock Miley's Fringed Suede Boots, available only at Wal-Mart...)
    • Establishing a Mobile Search campaign to reach those smartphone-using shoppers out at the mall trying to figure out which store carries which exclusive brand
    • Coordinating promotions between web and brick-and-mortar stores so that consumers can access their favorite exclusive brands from every angle, and get consistent messaging/pricing as they do so
    Posted by Brian Crocker, The Google Retail Team

  • Digital due process for e-book readers
    October 3, 2011

    E-book sales are booming, creating new opportunity for authors and publishers. E-books have also fundamentally changed the way that readers discover and access books, opening vast libraries and making them available in the cloud via Google Books and other providers.

    But the laws governing your rights as a reader haven’t evolved nearly as quickly. Forty-eight states have special “books laws” that limit when the government can compel disclosure of records regarding your book buying and reading. It’s not always clear, however, to what extent such laws apply to booksellers, including online stores.

    It’s important that our laws reflect the way people live their lives today. That’s why we’re pleased to see that California signed into law the Reader Privacy Act, which clarifies the law and ensures that there are high standards before booksellers -- whether they’re selling print or digital books -- can be compelled to turn over reading records. This law takes a careful, balanced approach, protecting readers’ privacy while allowing for legitimate law enforcement access with a warrant or under specific, narrow exceptions. This bill was sponsored by Sen. Leland Yee, championed by the ACLU of Northern California and Electronic Frontier Foundation, and supported by a number of others, including Google.

    We believe that our laws should protect individuals from unwarranted government intrusion in the online world no less than they do in the home, library, or bookstore, even as information and computing technology continue to advance. This is why we already invoke existing “books laws” when necessary to protect readers’ privacy, and why we’ve backed laws at the federal level to update the rules that protect your data stored in the cloud.

  • Google Summer of Code students shine with HelenOS
    October 3, 2011
    This year HelenOS, an operating system based on a multiserver microkernel design originating from Charles University, Prague, had the privilege of becoming a mentoring organization in the Google Summer of Code program. Our preparation began a couple of months before mentoring organizations started submitting their applications, but the real fun hit us when we were accepted as a mentoring organization and when the students started sending us their project proposals.

    We put together about a dozen ideas for student projects and received about twenty or so official proposals. HelenOS had three mentors and we were thrilled to be given three student slots for our first year in the program. During the student application period we received a lot of patches from candidate students determined to prove their motivation and ability to work with us. It was no coincidence that the three students we chose submitted some of the most interesting patches and did the most thorough research. Two students sent us enough material to seriously attack the first milestones of their respective projects and the third student fixed several bugs, one of them on the MIPS architecture.

    The three selected students were Petr Koupy, Oleg Romanenko and Jiri Zarevucky. Petr and Jiri worked on related projects focused on delivering parts of the C compiler toolchain to HelenOS while also improving our C library and improving compatibility with C and POSIX standards. Oleg chose to further extend our FAT file system server by implementing support for FAT12, FAT32, long file name extension and initial support for the exFAT file system.

    When the community bonding period began and we started regular communication with our students, all three mentors, Martin Decky, Jiri Svoboda and Jakub Jermar, noticed an interesting phenomenon. Our students seemed a little shy at first, preferring one-on-one communication with their mentor, as opposed to more open communication on the mailing list. This bore some signs of the students expecting the same kind of interaction a student receives while working on a school project with a single supervisor and evaluator. Even though not entirely unexpected, this was not exactly how we intended for the students to communicate with the HelenOS team but we eventually managed to change this trend.

    In short, all three of our students were pretty much technically trouble-free and met their mid-term and final milestones securely. To our relief, this was thanks to the students’ skills rather than projects being too easy. Two of our students were geographically close to their mentors so Jiri and Petr attended one or two regular HelenOS onsite project meetings held in Prague.

    Besides the regular monthly team meetings, the HelenOS developers met for an annual coding week event called HelenOS Camp. This year the camp took place during the last coding week of the program and we were excited that one of our Google Summer of Code students, Petr Koupy, was able to join us for the event and hack with the rest of the HelenOS team.

    Shortly after Google Summer of Code ended we merged contributions of all three students to our development branch, making their work part of the future HelenOS 0.5.0 release.

    Below is a screencast showing HelenOS in its brand new role of a development platform, courtesy of Petr Koupy.

    By Jakub Jermar, HelenOS Org Administrator and Mentor for Google Summer of Code

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