Add Images To Gmail’s Interface Xoopit is a Firefox plugin that adds dynamic image preview to Gmail. You see a strip of images above your email, and there’s some sort of social networking theory at work.
H-1B Visa Situation the Usual Giant Disaster
Read at Techdirt about the H-1B (foreign guest worker) visas, which are once again running into problems due to the government not providing enough visas for American tech companies to bring skilled workers to this country. As usual, the visas for the entire year ran out in a single day, and the Department of Homeland Security is doing what it can to keep those jobs in the U.S. by allowing certain industry grads to stay in the country longer on their student visas.
Google Earth Adds Street View Google Earth now has Street View built into it, in order to see street level photos of buildings and pedestrians. Not only that, but you can blow the Street View full screen, in order to gawk at total strangers having their privacy invaded in the utmost fidelity.
Google Most Valuable Brand Again Google has been named the most valuable brand by market research firm Millward Brown Optimor, value at $86 billion and beating out GE and Microsoft ($71 billion apiece). Google’s brand value grew 30% over the last year, though Google has now won three years running.
Google Stock Earnings Benefit From Failing Dollar
Google’s earnings report, released last week, showed it beat Wall Street’s expectations by $101 million, sending the stock way up. However, Valleywag explains that, due to the sinking dollar, Google’s earnings were $202 million higher than they would have been if the dollar were stronger, meaning the surprise extra growth didn’t exist almost at all.
Google-Monopoly (The Game)
Box HQ has put together a version of the popular Monopoly board game that replaces everything in the game with Google-related items. For example, the properties are all web companies (Microsoft and Yahoo replace Boardwalk and Park Place) and jail is the Deadpool. You can just print out the PDF and get started, or go all out and modify a Monopoly game board to turn it into Google-opoly. One problem: there aren’t enough I’m Feeling Lucky and Google.org cards.
Google Finds New CIO Google has named a new Chief Information Officer, with Benjamin Fried from Morgan Stanley’s Application Infrastructure group taking over next month. Fried worked on Google’s IPO four years ago, giving him some experience with the company. Fried takes over for Douglas Merrill, who left for EMI earlier this month.
If you haven’t used Google Website Optimizer yet, perhaps the benefits of A/B Split & Multivariable Testing and Intuitive Reports will woo you. The goals, of course, are to increase sales, improve landing pages, get more leads, determine cost per acquisition (CPA), increase time spent on site, estimate guesswork from your site design, and more.
Lots of Google Doodles
Zorgloob’s got lots of Google Doodles you may not have noticed over the weeks.
AdWords API Price Dropped Google has droppped the prices on using the AdWords API. Search Engine Roundtable has the chart of revised prices, with the cost per API unit dropping as much as 70% on some services.
AdSense Ad Review Center Available To All Google has released its Ad Review Center for Google AdSense to all publishers. The Ad Review center allows AdSense publishers to control site targeted advertising on their website, including banning and approving targeted ads.
Download YouTube Videos As MP4 Ionut shares the URL parameter that will let you download videos from YouTube as MP4 files, perfect for loading onto a portable media player. Just use a URL like this one, except change the letters “ID” with the video ID code:
A Funny Google Interview Story Read this story about one guy’s experience interviewing for a job at Google. I guarantee you won’t see where it’s going.
Arrest Caught On Google Maps Street View
One unfortunate fella was being arrested by authorities, and what happened to pass by? The Google Maps Street View van, that’s who! As a result, he wound up with that moment in his life, one he’d probably like to regret, recorded into Google Maps and now pictured on a number of blogs. Whoops.
Ionut found this website that takes YouTube’s API to to create a cool application designed to improve your YouTube browsing experience. It steals some ideas from MSN Soapbox, letting you search for videos on the left side and watch them on the right side of the screen, searching for new videos while watching you current video, and building a playlist of videos to watch continuously. Check out YouTube Fast Search, it looks great.
Google Presentations has finally added a feature that most thought should have been there at launch: You can now save your presentations as PowerPoint files*. Previously, Google’s slideshows were trapped inside Google software, only able to be saved as a mostly useless PDF, but now you can take them and continue editing them in PowerPoint, or in any software compatible with PowerPoint’s PPT files.
* - of course, this being Google, they only let you save as .PPT files, not the newer Office 2007 .PPTX files
Google Letting Apps Run On Their Cloud Google has announced a new service, Google App Engine, which lets web developers build their internet applications on top of Google’s technology. Developers will be able to use the Google File System and the Bigtable distributed data storage system in their applications, resulting in a strong backbone to compete with Amazon’s S3 service.
It’s free during the preview period, but the number of accepted applications and available resources are limited in the beginning. Let’s hope Google doesn’t leave it in a beta limbo for four years and make things impossible for some budding Web 2.0 companies.
Ex-Googler Bret Taylor has a very interesting article about opening up data sources so application developers can better take advantage of them, and so they can be free for innovation. Google could make App Engine a no-brainer for app developers if it has access to data source normal Web 2.0 companies normally go through hell to get access to.
Google Selling DoubleClick Performics Google has made a very popular decision, announcing it will be selling off the SEO business of Performics, a business of DoubleClick it received in the recently completed acquisition. Performics handled SEO and affiliate management for its clients, and a search engine doing SEO would have created a giant conflict of interest. The reaction has been almost nothing but positive, as many are glad to see Google eliminated this before it becomes a problem. However, Performics affiliate business will remain at Google, possibly creating a new area of the market for Google to dominate.
A much bigger move than a chef changing jobs is that of Douglass Merrill, Google Chief Information Officer. He’s leaving for music giant EMI, becoming their new president. Now, leaving from a major exec position at a top Silicon Vallley company to become president of a big music company is almost certainly a step up, but given the music industry’s woes, you’d think Google could have had more to offer him than a top company in a failing industry could.
New Version of Google Talk in Testing
Google has finally remembered it has an IM client, releasing a Labs test of a new version of Google Talk. The first version of Google Talk was released over 2 and a half years ago, but Google has barely updated it at all in the meantime. The new version, dissapointingly, drops the calling feature, implying that Google has abandoned the original intent of the “Talk” name, but it does add tabbed browsing. I still use Talk every day, but I have no faith at this point in Google actually maintaining the software like it should.
Google Finance Adds Stock Screener
Google Finance now has something called a stock screener, essentially a type of sort/search site for the stock market, letting you narrow down through criteria to find stocks with specific attributes. For example, you can specify stocks within a range of market caps, dividend sizes, 52-week gains or losses, and others, and combine the criteria to discover the perfect stock. This being Google Finance, it’s all accomplished with fancy AJAX sliders.
I used it to discover that there is only one company on the market bigger than Google that also does not pay off a dividend: Berkshire Hathaway. Good company to be in, but Google hasn’t been as good at the market as Buffet in many months.
Google Starts DoubleClick Layoffs 300 people lost their jobs today, as Google laid off 300 employees, or about 25%, of DoubleClick, the advertising firm it bought for $3.1 billion. The layoffs were expected and even warned about by Google, but it’s always sad to see people lose their job, especially in a recession. Hopefully recruiters are excited at the idea of hiring all these people, and they won’t spend too much time on unemployment.
If you can hire a DoubleClicker, or are a DoubleClicker looking for a new job, send me a message. I’ll try to connect the two sides.
Valleywag has been covering the layoffs heavily, saying that:
YouTube Starts Tagging Copyrighted Videos YouTube has started identifying music videos by the artists in them, tagging the video with “Contains Content From” and a link to the artist’s YouTube account. Artists in the program get to choose to put advertising on the video’s page and earn money from it, or they can block the videos from being viewed. Alternatively, they can elect to just receive tracking stats on their videos and see how popular they are, or link to where the music can be bought on AmazonMP3.
Google Grants Gave Out $273 Million In Free Ads Google’s blog noted the five year anniversary of Google Grants, which gives free AdWords advertising to non-profits. They said that in the history of the program, 4,000 grantees have received a stunning $273.3 million in free ads, all out of the kindness of Google’s heart*. 1,000 Googlers have volunteered their time and effort to keep the program running and help it roll out in new countries (fifteen so far).
* - okay, and a tiny bit because, in an auction pricing system, unfilled inventory actually lowers earnings on paid inventory
AdSense Ads All Scrolling Now?
Google ran a test of a modification to AdSense ads last December that added scroll up/down buttons to ad units, letting users click to switch in a new set of text ads. Looks like they really liked the performance of the ads, since many people are reporting spotting the scrolling buttons on all ad units. I can confirm seeing them on all my ad units, so it could very well be the new default.
Entire Internet Goes Crazy Over April Fools
As usual, April Fools day was the internet’s Christmas, with many major and minor websites getting in the holiday spirit, most with unfunny fake news stories. A few were interest or stood out:
YouTube turned all the Featured Videos on its front page into links to Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up. The video, already the center of the Rickrolling meme, is now the unofficial anthem of April Fools day, with multiple pranks involving it somehow. The video pulled 6 million views in just one day.
Phillip listed a ton of others from Google, including a retread “We’re going to space” joke from Google (this time with Richard Branson and Mars and YouTube videos, but even less funny than when they did it in 2006), scratch-and-sniff Google Book Search, Google Talk auto converting everything you say into acronyms, a paper airplane template in Google Docs, custom email time in Gmail, Google Calendar’s Wake Up Kit (which pours a bucket of water on you if you ignore the alarm) and I’m Feeling Lucky button (random blind dates), Orkut renamed Yogurt, and more.
Google Docs Finally Gets Gears Offline Access
Google Docs, the most obvious candidate for offline access, has finally been enabled to work with Google Gears. You can now access and edit your text documents (but not spreadsheets or presentations, yet) without an internet connection, provided you’ve installed the Google Gears plugin. Wonderful news, and hopefully the start of a wave of Google products taking advantage of Google’s offline platform.
Here’s a video about it:
Google Spreadsheets Adds Gadgets Google Spreadsheets has added a directory of Google Gadgets you can use to extend its functionality. It includes charts, new table functionality, pivot tables, maps, search results, organization charts, and many other features Spreadsheets lacks. It also now has email notifications, autocomplete and a new visualization API. Unlike Docs, Spreadsheets is one area where the majority of users won’t be satisfied with an underpowered Microsoft Word, and any way Google can get advanced features in there, the better.
Google’s Search Lead Continues To Grow comScore saw Google share of the search market grow in February (surprising no one), reaching 59%. Yahoo fell to 21.6%, Microsoft slipped slightly to 9.6%, and Ask added .1% to reach 4.6%.
Viacom Will Not Get Punitive Damages Vs. YouTube A judge ruled that if Viacom prevails in its lawsuit against Google-owned YouTube over copyrighted videos, it would not be entitled to punitive damages. Instead, Viacom will have to prove actual damages, with each successfully proven “willfull” violation costing Google up to $300,000, and other costing as little as $750. Gonna have a hard time getting $1 billion out of Google that way.