Google this week announced that for the last several months, it has been working on a secret project of a next-generation architecture for the company's web search. The new architecture includes crawling, indexing, and ranking changes and is the "first step in a process that will let us push the envelope on size, indexing speed, accuracy, comprehensiveness, and other dimensions," Google wrote in a blog.
Rather than incorporate these changes into their existing search infrastructure, Google is instead providing a developer preview and is asking webmasters and "power searchers" to give it a try.
"Right now, we only want feedback on the differences between Google's current search results and our new system," Google explained. "We're also interested in higher-level feedback ('These types of sites seem to rank better or worse in the new system') in addition to 'This specific site should or shouldn't rank for this query.'"
Google warns that most users won't notice a difference, as the system isn't completely finished. Nevertheless, anyone interested in checking it out can head over to http://www2.sandbox.google.com/. To give feedback, look on the search results page for a link at the bottom that says "Dissatisfied? Help us improve." Click the link, type your feedback, and include the word "caffeine" somewhere in the text box.
In a deal The Wall Street Journal estimates to be worth $50 million, Facebook is acquiring FriendFeed, a real-time feed aggregator that consolidates the updates from social media and social networking websites.
"Since I first tried FriendFeed, I've admired their team for creating such a simple and elegant service for people to share information," said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. "As this shows, our culture continues to make Facebook a place where the best engineers come to build things quickly that lots of people will use."
While Facebook and FriendFeed both remain mum on financial terms of the deal, the real value may lie in FriendFeed's engineering team. FriendFeed's four founders helped to create Google's Gmail and Google Maps services, and will hold senior roles on Facebook's engineering and product teams. All 12 of FriendFeed's employees will also retain their position, at least while long-term plans for the product are being hashed out.
In related news, Facebook also announced a new version of its search, which now allows members to search the last 30 days of the news feed for status updates, photos, links, videos, and notes being shared by friends.
"Facebook is competing with Twitter to be the center of real-time activity and updates for people online," said Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence.
While the details are currently fuzzy on the whole deal, what can be said for certain is that FriendFeed is now a part of Facebook.
Notably, Facebook has used many aspects of FriendFeed (such as the “like” feature and real-time updates), so the merger seems like a perfect fit. And, FriendFeed’s staff is made up of an all-star cast of ex-Google employees, so the acquisition will only strengthen the struggling social networking giant.
There’s been no word yet on how it all went down, but what can be said for certain is that all of FriendFeed’s employees are still going to have jobs.
How much faster? According to Google, tweaks made to the engine have resulted in a 30 percent performance boost over the current stable version, at least when running the V8 and SunSpider benchmarks. But speed isn't the only improvement.
"We've also improved two of the most loved and most used features of Google Chrome: the New Tab page and the Omnibox. Plus, we decided to add a little bit of style by allowing you to deck out your browser with colors, patterns, and images," Google wrote in a blog entry.
Google also said it has started building HTML5 capabilities into the latest beta release, including video tag functionality and web workers. This is the first version of Chrome to do so.
Anyone interested in giving the beta a spin can start right here.
I covered some awesome Firefox plugins a little bit ago, and it only seems fitting for Google Chrome to receive the same treatment. But as you're undoubtedly aware, Google Chrome doesn't feature built-in extension support like other popular browsers on the market. Or does it?
Actually, if you run the developer builds of Chrome, you can access the wonderful (beta) world of browser add-ons with but a few extra commands and tweaks. Seeing as very few people who use Chrome know or care about this little modification, it stands that the actual world of add-ons for the browser is pretty small right now. That said, there are still some neat extras that you can build into your browser--including some add-ons that mimic the best of what you'll find in Firefox's expansive database.
So what are you waiting for? Click the jump and I'll show you how to surf with add-ons, then give you a list of neat ones to try out!
For some time now, those of us using Gmail have had to gaze upon sponsored ads whenever we use our web mail client. But, thanks to a friendly signature using some vicious key words, that’s no longer the case.
According to his personal blog, Joe McKay was able to prevent the appearance of sponsored ads on Gmail by referencing tragic or catastrophic events (words which Google bans from their ads), as well as words from the late, great, George Carlin’s list of seven words you can’t say on TV.
But, if you’re looking to send an email to someone of importance, and you’re not interested in throwing down some dirty words (but murder still passes through your moral filter), then Mr. McKay has come up with the perfect sentence to add onto the end of each email: “I enjoy the massacre of ads. This sentence will slaughter ads without a messy bloodbath.”
Apparently, after some folks tested it out using emails of differing length and subject matter, ads were completely eradicated. Do you have methods of removing ads in Gmail of your own? Be sure to let us know in the comments.
Yesterday Google released a brand new beta for their Chrome web browser, this time in the interest of ironing out kinks with some new features that they’ve added. Among the new features are an updated “New Tab,” the Omnibox, and the ability to beautify your browser by using colors, patterns and images.
The New Tab feature is being slightly tweaked by allowing you to move around your most visited sites by simply clicking and dragging, letting you show off just how not into Twitter you really are. You can even pin thumbnails to specific spots. The Omnibox (read: the address bar) is getting a facelift, and giving you Google search results and related history items whenever you type anything in.
Most notably though, the color changing feature will allow you to alter exactly how Chrome looks. Should you want to be reminded of fresh cut grass each time you browse the net, you may do so. Or if you want to have cute kittens gazing at you while you read the day’s news, you can do that as well, we’re not here to judge.
You can check out the beta here, but there’s no word as to when these updates will make their way to the official release.
Google this week announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire On2 Technologies, a video compression technology company which holds licenses for Adobe for Flash video, Sun Microsystems for Java-FX, Skype for video conferencing, and Movie Networks for delivering HD web TV.
"Today video is an essential part of the web experience, and we believe high-quality video compression technology should be part of the web platform," said Sundar Pichai, Vice President, Product Management, Google. "We are committed to innovation in video quality on the web, and we believe that On2's team and technology will help us further that goal."
On2 stockholders will receive shares of Google class A common stock, the number of which will be determined by dividing $0.60 per share by the volume weighted average trading price during the twenty trading-day period ending on and including the second trading day prior to meeting with On2's stock holders to vote on the merger agreement, Google says.
The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2009.
In October of last year, Google reached a $125 million settlement as part of a three-year-old class action lawsuit accusing the search engine giant of infringing publisher and author copyrights with its library-digitizing Book Search project. But that would be far from the end of things. Last month, the Department of Justice confirmed it had launched a formal investigation into the settlement to see if it could find any evidence of anticompetitive practices, and if Google was looking for sympathy, it would be hard pressed to find any (read what Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had to say on the matter here).
But despite all the negative publicity -- or perhaps because of it -- Google maintains it isn't doing anything wrong and denies any talk of a monopoly.
"Of course, no one wants Google to monopolize the poor orphans," said Dan Clancy, engineering director of Google Book Search. "And I don't want to be -- what's the woman in Little Orphan Annie that runs the orphanage? I'm blanking -- I don't want to be her."
Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive, which also owns a book scanning operation, sees things decidedly different than Google does. Not only will the settlement create a monopoly, but it will create two of them, Kahle says. Kahle believes Google will have a monopoly on orphans and the Book Rights Registry, as well as a second one that encompasses all rights holders who agree to join.
"Google will have permission to bring under its sole control information that has been accessible through public institutions for centuries. In essence, Google will be privatizing our libraries," Kahle wrote in the Washington Post.
Where do you stand on the issue? Hit the jump and sound off.
Google is launching an all-out offensive against Microsoft and its Microsoft Office software suite with a new ad campaign called "Going Google." In addition to being spattered all over the web, the new ads will also appear on billboards on four major U.S. highways that will give a new message about Google Apps everyday for a month. Said highways include the 101 in San Francisco, the West Side Hwy in New York, the Ike in Chicago, and Mass Pike in Boston.
The strategically placed ads, which will target IT managers stuck in traffic jams, will focus on how and why some 3,000 organizations are signing up to use Google Apps each day. According to Google, more than 1.75 million businesses, schools, and organizations have joined to use the various combinations of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and other Google Apps.
Google's new ad campaign represents the latest in an ongoing war between the search giant and Microsoft. Google recently announced the development of its Chrome OS, while Microsoft recently announced a deal to take over Yahoo's search business.