For a while, the Google Earth plug-in was only available for Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. Now, it looks like Google has allowed their very own browser to get in on the fun, making it available as of this week.
“As of ~4 p.m. PST today, Google Chrome 1.0+ on Windows is an officially supported browser,” wrote a Google Employee in an Email sent out to a mailing list yesterday. “That means Chrome users will no longer get the unsupported browser message, and the plugin and API should work just as they would in other supported browsers.”
Most of us take for granted the inner workings of a Google search and all we're concerned about is receiving near instantaneous results to our query. And just as well, because Google hasn't been one to pony up much specifics on the hardware it uses to sift through oodles of web pages. That is, until Google Fellow Jeff Dean gave a keynote talk at ESDM 2009.
According to Dean, a typical Google search might consume the processing power of 1000 machines. Talking about Google's growth in the past decade, Dean said search queries have gone up by x1000, and so too has the company's processing power (# machines * speed of the machines). In addition, Dean claims query latency has dropped from under 1000ms to normally under 200ms, as well as dropping the update latency by a staggering x10000, so that crawler updates have been reduced from several months down to just a few minutes.
Dean says the improved performance is a result of switching the holding indexes to now being completely in memory. The result is that it takes thousands of machines to process a search query, but it has made near instantaneous searches possible.
As the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. Unfortunately for Google, those doors lead straight into the court room. Such was the case when a Pittsburgh couple sued the search engine site claiming its Street View on Google Maps "significantly disregarded privacy interests." In the five-count lawsuit, the couple saught over $25,000 in damages, only to have U.S. District Court for Western Pennsylvania dismiss the suit earlier this week.
Now Google must defend itself against TradeComet.com over alleged unfair business practices. Specifically, Rick Rule, who works for the company's law firm and has a kickass name to boot, says that SourceTool.com and its subsidiary TradeComet.com "had a thriving business before Google decided to eliminate them as a competitor. We believe this complaint has strong merit and represents a serious antitrust violation."
According to TradeComet, Google targeted its business-to-business search engine subsidiary and illegally tried to "extinguish SourceTool.com's platform.
Google said it hasn't had a chance to review this new lawsuit, perhaps because it hasn't finished celebrating its Google Maps victory. However, it did say that it operates in a "highly competitive" advertising market, one in which advertisers have a wide range of choices. True enough, but is it enough for back-to-back victories?
Some people harness the awesome power of Google Earth to view distant lands they may never reach, take in a crime in progress, or maybe even find a 3 billion dollar shipwreck. At least that’s the claim of Nathan Smith, a Los Angeles musician who appears to have spotted the remains of a Spanish barquentine while zooming in on a shoeprint shaped object in the Aransas Pass in Texas. This assumption was based on historical records which put a lost barquentine (three massed sailboat) near that location south of Refugio, Texas, in 1822.
After consulting with a few experts, he traveled to the location which just happens to be the private ranch of the late Morgan Dunn O’Connor. The result of this drama will end up being decided in the courts with the family of Mr. O’Connor and Mr. Smith in a bitter dispute over salvage rights. If the courts determine that the land is located within a navigateable waterway, the first person to find the wreck is entitled to the spoils, otherwise the bounty goes to the O’Connor family.
As if this wasn’t complicated enough, the state of Texas is also considering its options because it disputes the existence of a commercial waterway near the wrecks location. If this is proven true, the state might have found a surefire way to balance its books come budget time. U.S. District Judge David Hittner will rule on the salvage rights within two months time.
When you consider the complexity of modern day web pages, it’s actually a bit of a miracle that search engines work as well as they do. Dealing with duplicate links, especially off pages such as Amazon that may promote an individual product a thousand times or more has always been a challenge. Finally, after years of debate, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are putting the past behind them to solve this age old issue. The solution is a simple tag that will be added to the standard link format called “canonical”.
The tag is designed to solve issues associated with multiple URL’s pointing to the same page, but may also be helpful when multiple versions of a page exist. Currently, the search engines employ a process that looks at the structure of URL’s to look for similarities. This generally works pretty well, but is far from perfect. It is considered to be somewhat rare for search engines to come together on any issue, but it isn’t unprecedented. In 2006 they joined forces to put unanimous support behind sitemaps.org, and in June of 2008 they jointly announced new standards for the robots.txt directive. Matt Cutts of Google and Nathan Buggia of Microsoft claim this new approach should help reduce the clutter on the web, and improve the accuracy of all search engines.
Even though these tags won’t completely solve all the duplicate problems found on the web, it should significantly enhance the indexing performance of search engines, particularly on e-commerce sites. The new tags will be discussed in depth at this year’s Ask the Search Engines panel at SMX West.
It's hard to imagine anyone being able to bully Google into submission, but according to Venture Beat, that's exactly what Apple did. The report claims Apple encouraged Google not to use multi-touch technology in the Android-based G1 mobile phone, and Google agreed, Venture Beat says citing an un-named Android team member as the source.
"Further, the Android team member went on to say that they were relieved that Google didn't go against Apple's wishes, given the legal storm that appears to be brewing between Apple and Palm, which is using multi-touch technology in its new Pre phone," Venture Beat writes.
And that might not be the only influence Apple had on the G1 handset. According to technology blogger John Gruber, a source told him Apple also took issue with a pre-release G1 prototype Google showed to them over its standard headphone jack. The unidentified source claims Apple owns a patent on "controlling software using buttons connected by a standard 3.5mm headphone jack (at least for music and video playback controls), and would not grant Google a license to the patent."
Getting back to the multi-touch issue, it will be interesting to see if future Android-based handsets implement the technology, even with the threat of a lawsuit lingering.
The free tool, called PowerMeter, will allow users to view and thoroughly analyze their household energy consumption data. The platform, currently in closed beta, requires that the user possess a smart meter. It will let users compare the energy-appetite of different devices within their house, besides making it possible for users to compare each other’s energy consumption trends.
Google hopes that access to household energy data will help users conserve energy – something many studies and Lord Kelvin have previously suggested.
Gmail Labs has added yet another feature to Gmail, one that will come as a boon to anyone with a large screen monitor and wondering what to do with all that additional real estate. It's called Multiple Inboxes, and as the name implies, you can now sort your categorized email into multiple panes.
The Multiple Inboxes features makes it possible to configure up to five additional panes (labeled 0-4) positioned above, below, or to the right of your main inbox. With it, you could, for example, set up separate panes for unread emails, drafts, emails with attachments, labeled emails, and/or however you see fit using any of Gmail's supported search operators.
You'll find the Multiple Inboxes feature in the Labs tab under Settings. Once enabled, go into Settings, click Multiple Inboxes, and configure the panes however you like.
"As we've improved other parts of the language, regexps started to stand out as being slower than the rest," Chrome programmers wrote in a Chromium blog post. "We felt it should be possible to improve performance by integrating with our existing infrastructure rather than using an external library."
If you’re a Google Apps customer and you’re in need of your calendar offline, you’re in luck! Just today Google began releasing offline calendar support, a move that will make their tools more attractive to business users.
The calendar has a lot of attractive features, such as support for Gears and the ability to check your appointments despite your current connection. Though, know that you’ll only be able to check up on your daily agenda using the offline version, not create new entries.
If you’re a non-Google Apps customer and you’re looking to check out this feature before you buy it, Lifehacker has had some hands-on time with the synchronization software and given some impressions.