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Google Sketchies Round Two Voting Right Now

The second round of voting on your favorite entries in the YouTube Sketchies sketch comedy contest is upon us. The voting only runs through tomorrow, so hurry up and rank your favorites.

Here are all ten Round 2 finalists, in the order in which I like them. Most of them are pretty decent, especially the first two, and I wouldn’t waste my time on the last two. Let me know which ones you liked.

  1. Mad-Lib Answering Machine

  2. Google Earth

  3. Groundhog Day

  4. FriendBuddies

  5. Jeremy

  6. Affirmation Girl - My Body is A Temple

  7. The Next One

  8. Stop saying Bro

  9. MERMAN-King MAH DOO!

  10. Hammer Time!

June 27th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | YouTube, Services, General | no comments



Will Googlers Cash Out, Then Get Out?

This August, it will be three years since Google’s initial public offering (and since I started this blog as a way to track the company). When that happens, according to NBC News, nearly 3 billion dollars in pre-IPO options will vest, with over 450 early Googlers earning an average of $6.5 million. These are quality employees, many of whom are responsible for Google’s early growth, and they will instantly receive the option of becoming millionaires and leaving the company.

Will they?

Google isn’t the first company to have this kind of success. Microsoft’s stock turned a lot of workers into enormously wealthy people (there was always the joke of the millionaire secretary), and it cost the company some quality people. Google is going to lose a lot of employees, some of which have been biding their time waiting for their shares to vest, and those employees will leave and actually leave the company stronger. Other employees love working at Google, but will be distracted by the money and stop producing as well as they have.

Still, there will be employees who would never leave Google, but understand that it would be stupid to not cash in those shares. For all we know, Viacom could win its lawsuit against Google, and several lawsuits later, that stock will be worth a whole lot less. They’ll sell it all on day one to guarantee their financial security. Being millionaires, they might leave their jobs (which apparently pay less than similar jobs at Microsoft), or they might stay, but the sale of several billion dollars of shares will severely impact the stock.

On the anniversary day, I suggest preparing for a nice dip in the stock. Nothing terrible, but a ten-dollar drop wouldn’t surprise me.

June 27th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Culture, Stock Market, General | no comments

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What The New Google Docs Interface Could Look Like In Gmail

The mockup above was created by Ioannus de Verani, who explained in the comments here that he wanted to show what Gmail would look like if it adopted the superior new file management interface created for Google Docs. It looks like the sort of thing that just has to happen, and since Googlers share code all the time, I hope someone’s already looking at using the Docs code to make Gmail even better.

Thanks, Ioannus, for giving us something cool to chew on.

June 27th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Docs, Products, Services, Gmail, General | 4 comments

Google Talk Gadget Gets Features First

Ionut Alex posted about a new feature added to the Google Talk Gadget for iGoogle, which can now handle multi-user chat. The chat client now lets you click a Group Chat button to invite more than just two people into a chat, something you cannot do in the regular PC software, or in the Gmail chat version. In fact, if you invite someone using any Gtalk-compatible client other than the iGoogle Gadget, it won’t work, and they’ll just be sent a link.

For the most part, the new feature doesn’t make sense. The Gadget is a supplement to the real client, so why does it have features the real one doesn’t? Most likely, and this is just speculation, there’s been development of a version 2.0 of Google Talk that will support this feature, but the client has suffered major delays, enough to the point that they just said “Screw it” and released the Gadget version. Don’t be surprised to see that new version of Google Talk sometime this summer.

That, or Google has abandoned the software version of Google Talk, which would be a damn shame, and is unlikely.

June 27th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | iGoogle, Talk, Products, General | no comments

YouTube Pulling 50% More Traffic Than Flattening Competition

youtube-vs-the-world.png

MySpace is relaunching their video portal tomorrow, presumably as preparation for the NBC/FOX video site, but it may be too late, according to numbers from Hitwise. As the graph above shows, right after the new year YouTube’s traffic surpassed that of all other video sites combined, and a few weeks ago, YouTube reached traffic 50% higher than the entire rest of the market.

Worse for them is that the blue line, representing the rest of the market, is currently at the same level it was in mid-January. Zero growth is tantamount to death on the internet. YouTube’s 60% market share is already at Google-domination levels, four times that of MySpace, 25 times Yahoo, 30 times MSN Video, 70 times AOL. It’s just crazy.

June 27th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | YouTube, Services, General | no comments

Maybe Google Universal Search Didn’t Notice The Anal Sex?

Google needs to do a better job filtering videos in its universal search, especially if they are going to show videos in the search results. The oopsy: A video that talks about the benefits of anal sex if you misspell the word “endorsed”. You can see it in these search results, or embedded below (the video is safe for work, the audio is not):

What this really teaches us is twofold:

First, Google does not embed videos in universal search if you are using strict SafeSearch filtering. I switched my preference and the video remained in the results, but it was not embedded for playback.

Second, Google does not properly index YouTube tags in its search engine, a real stupid move. The tags for this video clearly are “Johhny, dude, black, anal”. Google should be indexing these tags to determine results that shouldn’t show up in SafeSearch (it clearly doesn’t) and it should be using these tags so that videos with explicit tags never show up embedded in search results. Even if Google didn’t own YouTube, you’d expect it to use metadata and tags for these determinations on popular community sites, the fact that it doesn’t with its own site just makes it twice as stupid.
(via Search Angle SEO > Digg)

June 27th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | YouTube, Services, General | no comments



Picasa Web Albums Adds Geotagging

Google’s Picasa Web Albums, their photo sharing service, added geotagging, which lets you specify where photos were taken and then see your photos placed on a Google map. You can enter the place photos were taken in a text field, and Google will place them for you, or you can drag and drop photos to place them on a map. When you share an album, people can see the photos represented geographically, although Google does not appear to have implemented a search by map ability (to use a map to find photos taken by anyone at certain places).

Picasa Web Albums also launched a version for mobile devices, located at google.com/mobile/photos/ (why not rename it Google Photos already?). You can use it to show off your photos from a mobile device while on the go, or see your friend’s photos, but not to upload new onews.

June 27th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | no comments

Former Googler Talks Google Culture On Internal Microsoft Email

An unnamed former Google employee, who worked previously at Microsoft, then a startup that was bought by Google, then left Google for Microsoft, is sending around an email inside Microsoft’s corporate network giving insight to Google’s corporate culture. It’s a relatively balanced portrayal, but it wouldn’t make a lot of more mature career-oriented people work at Google, and it offers some good suggestions of changes Microsoft should make.

Some selections from the blog where this was posted:

These kids don’t have a life yet so they spend all of their time at work. Google provides nearly everything these people need from clothes (new T-shirts are placed in bins for people to grab *twice* a week!) to food – three, free, all-you-can-eat meals a day. Plus on-site health care, dental care, laundry service, gym, etc.

“20% is your benefit and your responsibility.”

In other words, it’s your job to carve out 20% of your work week for a project. If you don’t carve out the time, you don’t get it. Your project needs to be tacitly approved by your manager. Whatever it is, is owned by Google. If you’re organized, you can “save up” your 20% and use it all at once. It’s not unheard of for people to have months and months of “20% time” saved up.

Most people don’t actually have a 20% project. Most managers won’t remind you to start one.

Google believes that developers are, with few exceptions, interchangeable parts. This philosophy shows through in their office arrangements which in Mountain View are all over the map. There are glass-walled offices, there are open-space areas, there are cubicles, there are people who’s desks are literally in hallways because there’s no room anywhere else. There are even buildings that experiment with no pre-defined workspaces or workstations – cogs (err, people?) just take one of the available machines and desks when they get to work.

In terms of employees per square-foot, every Microsoft Building 9-sized office is a triple at Google.

Google doesn’t seem to think that private offices are valuable for technical staff. They’re wrong.

here is no career development plan from individual contributor to manager. Basically if you get good reviews, you get more money and a fancier title (“Senior Software Engineer II”) but that’s about it.

That single benefit gets people to work earlier because hot breakfast is served only until 8:30. And since dinner isn’t served until 6:00 or 6:30 the people with a home-life tend to skip it.

Google actually pays less salary than Microsoft.

Google’s health insurance is actually not nearly as good as Microsoft’s.

Google has no facility for career growth.

I encourage reading the comments, which contain a number of angy Microsoft employees, unhappy this was published externally. It’s not so much that the email is embarassing for Microsoft (it isn’t), but that the violation of internal privacy scares many employees.

Coverage at Bink and Google Blogoscoped.

UPDATE: The Microsoft email was written by a Microsoft recruiter based on a conversation with a Microsoft employee. The employee formerly started Phatbits, a widget engine Google acquired a year and a half ago. That makes the employee likely Mike Harrington, Darrin Massena, or Jonathan Sposato, whoever currently works at Microsoft. Read more at Mary Jo Foley’s blog.

UPDATE 2: It’s actually Geoffrey Elliott. Read more at InsideMicrosoft after 12:00.

June 27th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Googleplex, Culture, Microsoft, General | one comment

Google Docs Gets Better File Organization

new-docs-folder-list.png

Google Docs has gotten a proper file explorer for management of your documents and spreadsheets. The new interface replaces the old sortable/searchable list with something a lot more advanced, a two-pane interface with multiple level folders on the left and files on the right (with sortable columns), and the ability to move items around by dragging and dropping. Google’s realizing that search doesn’t work for navigating everything, so hopefully they’re at least considering developing this out as a universal file management interface for other Google properties (like Picasa and Gmail).

The new interface uses AJAX so that it doesn’t reload the page everytime you click on a folder. It divides up into sections, showing all items in different types of system virtual folders (docs create by me, starred docs, the trash), the organized folder tree, items by type (documents or spreadsheets) and items by who they are shared with. Keep in mind, Google is using actual folders here, not labels, a departure from Google philosophy that puts the user first, not the desire to make everything about search.

If you do want to use search to navigate, Google has made it a lot more useful, adding auto-complete, so you can start typing the first few letters and have the search box suggest the full search.

Info from:
Philipp (it’s his screenshot, too)
The official Google blog
The Google Docs blog
TechCrunch
Andy Beal

June 27th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Docs, Spreadsheets, Products, General | 3 comments

Wikipedia Has 96.66% Google Penetration

Via ThreadWatch, this study of where Wikipedia pages appear in Google results for a search for that phrase, and found that in about 580 out of 600 randomly chosen Wikipedia pages, the Wikipedia page appeared in Google’s top 10. That’s just incredible, a number we can pretty much point to and show how much power Wikipedia has in Google, with 96.66% of those pages surveyed making it into the top 10. The only ones that didn’t make it:

  1. Veil of Darkness
  2. Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. v. Public Service Commission
  3. Group key
  4. Tacca leontopetaloides
  5. American Culinary Federation
  6. WCTI-LP
  7. Eric Marshall
  8. YAF
  9. Line by Line
  10. Tolleson Union High School
  11. Ken Kocher
  12. Riskbase
  13. Rae Valentine
  14. Fire Prevention Week
  15. Win My Soul
  16. Chewy Granola Bars
  17. United Nations Security Council Resolution 31
  18. A Single
  19. Jean Étienne Bercé
  20. Isaac Fraser
  21. FICA (disambiguation)
  22. Lance Broadway
  23. Victoriana
  24. UC San Diego School of Medicine
  25. Gordon
  26. Whipped Cream & Other Delights
  27. With This Ring
  28. Spinsterhood

June 27th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Search Optimization, Search, General | one comment

Google Desktop Released For Linux

Barry Schwartz reports that Google has released the first Linux version of Google Desktop, which will run on Debian 4.0, Fedora Core 6, Ubuntu 6.10, SUSE 10.1, and Red Flag 5 and was developed by Google’s Beijing engineers.

The Linux version does not contain the Google Sidebar and Google Gadget support, and is in fact nearly identical to the Mac version, not the PC version. It indexes your hard drive and lets you search it instantly in your browser, has a Quick Search box that pops up if you tap CTRL twice, indexes Gmail and Web History, and caches old file versions.

June 27th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | General | 3 comments



AdSense Adds Rounded Corners

Google AdSense advertisements now come with Web 2.0-cool rounded corners, if you’d like them. The Inside AdSense blog has screenshots, showing how you can have ads with no rounding (square corners), slight rounding (just a little curve at the edge) and very much rounded (deeper rounded corners). The idea is to help AdSense ads fit in with the designs of the sites they are on, since a lot of sites now have rounded corners. Of course, as they point out, you won’t have any corners at all if your ad has invisible borders.

More at Google Blogoscoped, which points out the new google_ui_features = “rc:x” AdSense code might be hackable, if you’re willing to risk your AdSense account being terminated over it.

What options can Google add next? How about the ability to change the AdSense font from Arial to Verdana? Arial is so 1990s. Even better would be if AdSense could be transparent in limited situations, or allow gradients, so mildly gradient backgrounds could show through properly.

June 27th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | AdSense, Advertising, General | one comment

Flickr Photos Integrated Into Yahoo Images

flickr-in-yahoo-images.pngYahoo has integrated Flickr, the photo sharing site Yahoo bought two years ago, into its image search engine. As you can see in the screenshot of this search, Flickr photos appear in results where relevant (like this one), with links not only to see the photo on Flickr, but a link to the Flickr user’s main photo page.

The integration gives Flickr a live feed into Yahoo Images, with photos from Flickr appearing almost immediately in the search engine. In a perfect world, Yahoo would make efforts to integrate all photo sites in this manner, but who really believes they’ll do that?

Thomas Hawk seems pretty pumped, having hotly anticipated when Yahoo would take advantage of its photo community and photo tagging to make for better image search.

There is so much important work to do in the months ahead with image search, but the best image search going forward will be done around social networks. Yahoo was very smart to purchase Flickr back in 2005. It was the search team that bought Flickr not the Yahoo photos team that bought Flickr. Watch as this new integration evolves and gets better and better in the months ahead and watch as Yahoo leapfrogs their major competitors in image search.

He’s got links to easily compare Yahoo Image Search with Google, Windows Live and Ask.

Yahoo started integrating Flickr into regular Yahoo search last month.

June 27th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Yahoo, Search, General | no comments