Ionut Alex details a
new iGoogle Gadget that allows you more control over personalized homepage themes than ever before. With this Gadget, you can set rules for theme switching, using a different theme based on which computer you’re using, the time of day, the weather outside, the day of the week, and choose from 70 user-created themes while doing so. The possibilities for theme combinations are endless, and you can do a different theme per iGoogle tab, giving you more options than you know what to do with.
Ionut Alex details a
Ionut Alex reports that Google Maps has added profile pages for users who create content for the service. The profile services are built on the same nameless platform Google Shared Stuff profiles are built on, and show reviews you’ve written and personalized MyMaps you’ve created. Check out his post for screenshots, or this video which explains it all:
Other new features I’ve neglected to cover:
Google Desktop 5.5 was released in beta, and it brings an improved Quick Search box, support for running multiple copies of a Gadget at once, and improved Outlook searching. It also brings a new ability: Google Desktop Gadgets can now run on iGoogle homepages. That means that the desktop Gadgets, with advanced functionality and the ability to access files on your computer (like playing music files) can run in a webpage and take advantage of iGoogle’s tabs.
If a regular iGoogle user tries to use a Desktop Gadget, they’ll be prompted to install Google Desktop in order to be able to use it. The version of Desktop they install will be a special, streamlined version that has only the Gadget functionality enabled, but none of the desktop search stuff. The advantage for Google is that all the rest of Desktop is right there and ready, should users decide to check it out.
Ionut Alex shows what a Google Online Desktop could look like, with a full desktop and windows showing your Gmail, Google Calendar, and other Google services.
Google Transit, a Labs service that showed public transportation on Google Maps, has been folded into Maps itself. Now, if you are in one of the five cities for which transit data is available (SF, Seattle, Portland, Dallas and Japan), you’ll get bus and train directions if you want.
And get this: YouTube videos are now available as a layer in Google Earth. Geotagged videos will appear as placemarks in Google Earth, and you can click them to watch them right there in the interface.
Oh, and Blogger Play, which shows a slideshow of photos from Blogger blogs, is now available as a Google Gadget, so you can install it on your iGoogle homepage.
Finally, Google Maps is now available as a program you can install on a phone running the Symbian operating system.
As several blogs have noted, a problem is that the ads can only be shown on mobile sites, but not regular sites. If you have a completely seperate website for mobile devices, you can run the ads there, but if you just change your CSS for mobiles, that makes implementing these a lot harder. Expect to see them in a lot of iPhone “apps”, but not a lot of blog templates.
The other release was that of Google Gadget ads, which are a new ad format AdWords advertisers can take advantage of. It’s a rich media ad, that can contain anything a Google Gadget can, and thus have some very advanced functionality. Not only will these be used as ads, but they can be added to users iGoogle personalized homepages, monetizing iGoogle and expanding the reach of the ads beyond a display ad to something you keep and use continuously.
Google updated its webmaster tools console to show something completely unexpected, the number of subscribers your website’s feeds have in Google Reader, Orkut, and iGoogle RSS Gadgets. Google also added profiles for iGoogle Gadget developers, so you can see the top developers (in different regions, no less), and find other Gadgets written by developers you already like.
Google has put together a special tab for your iGoogle personalized homepage for the Rugby World Cup which started Friday in France. You can add this tab to your iGoogle page, merely by heading over here. The tabs let you follow live scores, see the scores in all games, hear cheers for your team, see fan videos from YouTube and see Google Maps satellite view of stadiums.
Google also ran this Doodle in a bunch of countries to commemorate the start of the Cup:
Google Labs now has an Indian version, which is showing off some iGoogle Gadgets that make it easier to search in other languages. The Gadgets let you type on your English keyboard phonetically, and have the Gadget translate your English sounds into letters in a completely different language. Read more about it here.
This is it, the second to last day of the Bourne Ultimatum Google challenge. Tonight, we will get the last clue and a chance to finish this long quest. Come by at midnight tonight to solve it here.
No sightings yesterday. Odd, but it doesn’t matter anymore.
Turns out Bourne was lying yesterday in his YouTube message. Shocker. You need to contact back Mustapha (IM: mouslelion, passphrase: Vive le Maroc) and run the Google search he gives you. Search on Google Images and you’ll find an image of a paper with a coffee stain (one that players have found earlier in the game).
The paper explains how to detect lies. You need to use it to determine which phrase Bourne used in the video that he was lying about. The clue is in the waveform analysis. When the waves spike, he’s lying. Watch it, find the phrase, and enter it in the message transmitter.
I’ve given up on the sightings, so I just chose Central Park, the U.N., and the spot in Brooklyn. Come back in eleven hours to solve the final puzzle together.
I’m in Atlantic City, so this is a few hours late, but I’m having a great time on my anniversary. Everything will be back to normal tomorrow. Also, I picked up another sighting on my camera in Madison Square Park yesterday. Problem is, I did the math, and if I get two sightings today, three tomorrow, and four the last day, that’s nine, and I have fifteen, so I’ll be one short. Looks like I’d better get out that envelops.
Today’s clue is contained in an altered version of the movie trailer, found under the deathly obvious name of “ALTERED TRAILER” in the video section of your control panel. There are two screens that flash for less than a second in middle of the trailer, one with a name that’s an anagram of Jason Bourne, another that’s a familiar saying from earlier in the game.
Bourne will give you a link to a YouTube video. Paste the link to the YouTube video into the Message Transmitter, and you’ve succeeded.
That’s it, just select your cameras. I used the same Madison Square Park one (he did say to stay put) plus the 5 West 37th camera, figuring he’d stay in the area.
Google News Image View, YouTube Video Cited In Court, Google Earth Solar System, Google Docs Readability Stats, iGoogle Skins
I’m in Atlantic City with my wife, celebrating our one-year wedding anniversary, so here’s a post featuring a bunch of items I should have blogged weeks ago.
Google News Launches Image View
Google News launched a very cool image view, letting you track the news visually by looking at a page of images taken from the latest news stories. You see a block of twenty-five images, with headlines next to them, and an arrow to scroll through the list of headlines (you can navigate the list with your keyboard, even). A very cool way of browsing news stories, and a good alternative to the sea of text that is the regular Google News.
Philipp has a lot of detail and criticism of the initial release.
First YouTube Video Used In Court Decision
For the first time (of undoubtably many to come), a judge has cited a YouTube video in rendering his decision. The case is a strange one, with the judge so annoyed at perennial copyright abuser Leo Stoller, that in supporting Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famer George Brett, he invited participants in the trial to check out a complicated incident in Brett’s career.
As background, Evans included a description of what baseball fans remember as Brett’s famous Pine Tar Incident in a 1983 game against the New York Yankees over whether the bat was legal to be used. Brett’s home run was nullified by an umpire, the Yankees won, but on appeal to the American League his team got a second try and eventually beat the Yankees 5-4.
Evans wrote: “Baseball, like our legal system, has appellate review…It ended after 12 minutes when Royals’ closer Dan Quisenberry shut the door on the Yankees in their half of the ninth to seal the win. The whole colorful episode is preserved, in all its glory, on YouTube, at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Cu1WXylkto (last visited June 6, 2007). See also Retrosheet Boxscore, Kansas City Royals 5, New York Yankees 4, at http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1983/B07240NYA1983.htm (last visited June 6, 2007).”
Ironically, Major League Baseball had the video removed by filing a copyright claim.
From Google Earth to Google Solar System
GEarthBlog points out a mod for Google Earth that turns the Earth into the Sun and adds scale 3D models of all the planets in the solar system, though not in their proper places. Watch this video to see it in action:
Google Docs Adds Readability Statistics
One of my favorite features I always turn on in Microsoft Word is to always show the readability statistics, which analyzes your document and tells you a bunch of things, like what grade level you write at (I’m not a third grader!). Now, Google Docs enjoys the same fun and useful feature, with maybe a little more depth. Click the Word Count button, and you get your Flesch Reading Ease, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, and Automated Readability Index scores. Then, you can spend hours criticizing your education!
Gadget Lets You Skin Your iGoogle
Not satisfied with the options for customizing the look of your iGoogle personalized homepage? This Gadget gives you a bunch more skinning options, including a built-in searchable directory of skins, a skin creator, and a way to submit your own skin to the directory. When it’s all said and done, you can wind up with a pretty cool look, like in the screenshot above.
Four days to go, and I picked up two more sightings. Can it actually happen? Probably not…
Anyway, today’s mission is the first in New York, the last city in the game. You’ll need to head back to Dater Notes, back to Nicky’s profile, and find one of her photos that holds the clue. Pretty much just copy the URL of each photo and plug it into the Image Filter until you get the answer.
Enter the location into the Message Transmitter, then place your camera. I’d say it’s pretty obvious that you should place the camera in the same place the location in the mission was.
The final week of Google’s Ultimate Search for Bourne is here! You’ve made it this far, time to close the deal. Day Eleven brings with it some nice news for me: Two more sightings, which means I’ve got 13 in the first ten days. I’ll need a major winning streak to get the requisite 25, but in theory, it could be possible.
The crossword puzzle found by several enterprising readers last week is now in play. My advice: Print it out and fill it out.
I’ve gotten everything but 10 DOWN (”To do each day”) and figured out what the Canada cross-out means. Comment below if you’ve got any ideas.
UPDATE: Oh for F’s sake! It can’t be that easy!
I went to the trouble of printing out the crossword puzzle, solving the clues, and the answer could have been solved by ignoring the clue alltogether!
Want to know how?
I hate doing this, but the answer’s too easy, and if you try thinking about it, you’ll definitely be wrong.
Here it is, if you want to avoid the spoiler:
Just paste the URL of the crossword puzzle in the Image Filter.
Yeah, I know. Crazy, right?
Oh, and did anyone get 10 DOWN?
For my four cameras, I chose the three clustered in the middle of the map, plus St. Paul’s again.
The end of the second week of the Bourne Ultimatum Google game is here, and I picked up two more sightings yesterday. Looks like my theories regarding the sightings are finally working out.
You need to retrace your steps from the previous two days to determine if Ross is a liar, and if so, present a more accurate rendevous. Considering that if he weren’t a liar, the answer would be the same as yesterday, you’d better assume he was lying, and work from there.
Damn, that was easy! Ross mentioned a location in London multiple times, and if you go to priceless.com, the name of that place is listed at least twice, and part of the URL! Three cameras to place today.
For my cameras, I chose Waterloo Station, the London Eye, and, on a hunch, St. Paul’s Cathedral, since it was mentioned in the Google Group.
Well, my hunch about the Priceless.com map paid off, and I’m one sighting closer to an iPhone.
Today, you have to contact Simon Ross again, using the username (CRUYFF74) and passphrase (don’t Silence the truth) from yesterday.
Simon leaves a message about a Tube station and a Google Group. The Google group has a map of the train lines, along with a major London tourist attraction that it right on that Tube line. Enter the name of that attraction in the Message Transmitter, and you’re done for the day, with another camera to place.
As for the cameras, I’m using the Tube map to place mine now. I chose Waterloo Station and the London Eye.
Google is testing out a new un-personalized default design for its iGoogle home page in Taiwan and Hong Kong, hoping to attract users who have proven to be fans of the the Yahoo School of Home Page Design. This follows what Google did in South Korea a couple of months ago, adding animated icons there, yet another move to appeal to countries with sensibilities different from the U.S. and the sparse white space design.
The new design has five boxes in a neat minimalist (for this style) design, including one at the bottom in the center, featuring the same animated icons from South Korea. The five surrounding boxes are tabbed to include multiple features. One has Google Trends with seperate tabs for rising search terms, popular videos, popular images and some other set of popular terms. Another has Google News in five different categories. Another lets you access Gmail, Google Calendar and Picasa Web Albums accounts. The last has access to translation, currency conversion and a note-taking box.
Oh, and Philipp caught one other thing:
Looks like my cameras completely failed. I need to stop choosing the same places every single day.
Anyway, today’s mission is the first in London, and probably means a reset of the cameras after it. We’re given a new website, priceless.com,a promo website for MasterCard. Don’t just type priceless.com in your website, but actually click the link, which will take you to http://www.priceless.com/us/personal/en/picks/travel/london8.html, a special promo page obviously designed for the contest.
Your mission is to contact Simon Ross by instant message. Simon’s written a “Priceless Pick” on the website, so you need to find his username and passphrase for the IM box. The answer is HARD. It’s hidden in one of the photos on the page, and you’ll need to find it without the image filter, just by looking around and figuring out which words to use.
Anyway, copy Ross’ (useless) message into the message transmitter, and you’ll receive your one camera for the day. I chose 10 Downing Street, because it is the same location indicated by Simon’s message (use the map view on priceless.com, and you’ll see what I mean).
Two commenters in our Google Ultimate Search for Bourne discussions have unearthed some files that will be important in future parts of the contest. If you don’t want to know, just ignore them.
The first shows the end of the London missions, which we are just beginning. It reveals the location of the next set of missions, New York. The second is the video congratulating you on finishing the competition. The third is an exclusive scene from the movie, showing a pretty cool chase.
Finally, Rajarshi noticed that Dater Notes is an anagram for Treadstone. I hadn’t realized it, and that’s a pretty cool fact, that may be useful in the future.
Nice! Both my cameras yesterday succeeded. Still not on pace to win an iPhone, but I’m not so far away that it can’t be done.
Okay, so Bourne’s skipped out of Tangiers. Damn, why doesn’t he stick around long enough to shoot some hoops or something?
You’ll need to take yesterday’s passphrase, “Treadstone All Lies”, and plug it into some Google searches for a clue. You’ll find that Dater Notes has a newsletter, and the image URL of the newsletter can be plugged into the Image Filter (finally, we can use it!) and get you the name of the city Bourne headed to.
Time to place three cameras in Tangier. Why? Considering Bourne already left, how can you spot him there? God only knows, but the game has its rules, and they don’t need to make sense. I chose the port, Kasbah, and Rue De Fez.
The search continues, and it looks like my first guess in Tangiers, the port, was a bad one. Five sightings in the first five days, not exactly a pace that’s going to net me an iPhone.
Anyway, it looks like we’ve gotten into Bourne’s locker, and we need Nayet to descramble a tape found in it. Looks like we’ll need to contact Nayet via IM, just like Godot before. Back to Dater Notes and Nayet’s profile. I’m guessing the saying in his profile is the passphrase, and… I’m right!
Nayet links to a video, which features a not-so-cryptic message. Enter the three words into the Message Transmitter, and you’ve now got two cameras to place. Having still no idea how this works, I chose the port again and the stadium this time.
Fill the comments with hints and tips, and share how you did.
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