比希利亞：並行處理的程式設計/作為設計模式的“MapReduce”和分佈式文件系統“GFS（Google File System）”。教材使用的是安裝了以上功能的開源軟體“Hadoop”。
通過使用MapReduce，開發者將不再感到處理的複雜。例如在索引的編輯過程中，可以利用MapReduce製作以各種語句為鍵、值為 URL的“鍵值”對。各鍵值對相互獨立，彼此之間沒有依賴關係。因此可以同時並行處理。這發生在Map Phase中。在Reduce Phase中進行的是把上述在Map Phase中形成的數據進行匯總的作業。
比希利亞：沒錯。對於Reduce Phase，從並行化中得到的好處是當出現多個搜索請求時，各Reduce Phase是以獨立形式存在。在典型處理中，Map Phase的作業量較大。因此，即使Reduce Phase的並行性低，也能夠保持平衡。
比希利亞：還有日誌編輯和網路應用。對於GoogleDocs，每個用戶的操作是相互獨立的。MapReduce基本適合於需要保存大量數 據的處理和數據讀取處理。從這種意義上來說，應該還適合感測器網路的處理。因為從交通量數據和風速數據等大量數據中提取含義的作業不存在依賴關係。反而言 之，關係數據庫的處理就不容易擴大處理規模。
不過，需要大量圖形處理的遊戲則很難通過雲計算實現。當然，最近流行的MMORPG（Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game）不在此列。大多數遊戲可以通過雲計算實現。現在，利用雲計算的應用數量之多，是5年前無法想像的。
——Google File System怎樣確保並行性？
比希利亞：我們把系統分成了管理文件系統元數據的“Master”和管理真實數據的“Chunk伺服器”。文件分割為塊，Master管理 各個塊位於哪臺Chunk伺服器。塊的大小為64MB，事先會複製到大約3～4個伺服器上。Master也會保留副本。從表面上看，在該模式下，請求容易 集中到Master上，但Master伺服器的處理時間短，不會形成大的負荷。
——最近谷歌開始提供的應用軟體基礎服務——“Google App Engine”是通過組合GFS和MapReduce實現的嗎？
比希利亞：Google App Engine基本上是數據API。需要確保可擴展性，使大量用戶能夠訪問大型表格。而GFS主要用在低級別（接近系統）的文件系統中。（記者：北鄉 達郎）
Google's Mobile-Handset Plans Are Slowed
Is Being Delayed
As Carriers Struggle
Google Inc. is learning that changing the cellphone industry isn't easy.
The Internet giant and more than 30 partners announced in November a bold plan for a new breed of handsets based on a suite of mobile software called Android. At the time, Google said it planned to have the new phones on the market by the second half of this year.
Google now says that the handsets won't arrive until the fourth quarter. And some cellular carriers and makers of programs that work with Android are struggling to meet that schedule, people familiar with the situation say.
T-Mobile USA expects to deliver an Android-powered phone in the fourth period. But that launch is taking up so much of Google's attention and resources that Sprint Nextel Corp., which had hoped to launch an Android phone this year, won't be able to, a person familiar with the matter said.
China Mobile, the largest wireless carrier in the world with nearly 400 million subscriber accounts, had planned to launch an Android phone in the third quarter but it has run into issues that will likely delay the launch until late this year or early 2009, a person familiar with the matter says.
Meanwhile, the Android software has yet to win broad support from large mobile-software developers. Some say it is difficult to develop programs while Google is making changes as it finishes its own software.
This month Apple Inc. created a stir when it unveiled a cheaper, faster version of the iPhone that supports slick games and entertainment services. While Apple controls most aspects of hardware and software development for the iPhone, Google has to rally many different hardware, service and software providers to support its technology platform.
There is no evidence that Android won't be able to gain momentum over time. But wireless carriers throughout the industry are confronting challenges as they seek to customize the Android software -- which includes an operating system and programs that work with it -- to promote their own Internet services. Some handset makers are taking longer than they thought to integrate Android, test it and build custom user interfaces to meet carrier specifications.
Those challenges are affecting large cellphone makers like Samsung Electronics Co. and smaller ones that are aiming to provide devices that will be branded by carriers, people familiar with the situation say. Samsung didn't respond to requests for comment.
Andy Rubin, director of mobile platforms at Google, says managing the software-development effort while giving its partners the opportunity to lobby for new features takes time. "This is where the pain happens," he says. "We are very, very close."
One hold-up at Sprint is that the carrier would like to develop its own branded services based on Android, rather than just carry a phone with the built-in features Google plans to offer, the person familiar with the situation says. A management shake-up at Sprint, which brought in a new chief executive this year and, more recently, a new executive overseeing product development, may have also contributed to the delay. Sprint is now considering scrapping plans for an Android phone for its current third-generation broadband network and developing one that will work on the faster "4G" network it is helping to fund along with several partners, including Google, the person adds.
China Mobile and a cellphone maker it is working with have had trouble translating the Android software from Roman characters into Chinese and have had difficulty merging China Mobile's own branded data services into it, the person familiar with the matter says. A spokeswoman for China Mobile declined to comment.
AT&T Inc., the U.S. carrier for the iPhone, is still working with Google to determine if it is feasible to launch an Android phone.
Google's Mr. Rubin declines to discuss specific partners. But he says Google is working hard to help them develop new features and drive down costs, collaborating with chip makers and other technology providers so handset makers and carriers don't have to design Android-based phones from scratch.
Google has provided prototypes for carriers and handset manufacturers, though their final versions are likely to vary greatly. One prototype has a long touch-screen, similar to the Apple iPhone, a swivel-out full keyboard, and a trackball for navigation similar to the kind on some BlackBerrys.
For Google, the struggle likely will be worth it if the company can build a big foothold in the mobile market. The Mountain View, Calif., company dominates search on the personal computer, but it also wants to play a central role as Internet activity and eventually advertising dollars move to cellphones.
Until recently, wireless carriers have often called the shots on what consumers see on cellphones, taking a cut of revenues from providers of add-on services and software. Google is trying to make the process more open and less expensive. It is making Android available to handset makers for free -- hoping the investment will eventually pay off in advertising revenue -- and on an open-source basis that makes it easier to add custom programming.
Meanwhile, rivals have a head start. Apple, for example, expects to sell 10 million of its iPhones this year. Research in Motion Ltd., which has roughly 14 million BlackBerry subscriber accounts, recently announced a new BlackBerry device that makes it easier for consumers to download music, watch videos and browse the Web. Microsoft Corp. also has a sizable position in high-end cellphones.
Google executives say the company eventually hopes to power many cellphones at various price-points. But the company is likely to start by zeroing in on higher-end phones that have hardware features to handle advanced services.
The effort hinges on convincing partners to exploit the operating system, which supports capabilities such as the ability to build applications that know a phone's location. Some software developers already have built flashy demos, ranging from security software that scans a person's iris to an address book integrated with instant-messaging and other tools. Google says it has received roughly 1,800 submissions to a contest for developing Android-based application programs.
But some developers say it is easier to work with Apple's programming tools than Google's because of the familiarity with the company's Macintosh operating system. As a result, a wide range of software companies have been scrambling to build new iPhone applications.
Apple and RIM "have superseded the excitement and hype" around Android, says Nihal Mehta, co-founder of Buzzd Inc., a location-based city guide and social network. Mr. Mehta says the company prioritized its iPhone application over an Android version because Apple's guidelines are easier to follow and there aren't any Android phones in the market to use in testing software.
Others developers cite hassles of creating programs while Android is still being completed. One is Louis Gump, vice president of mobile for Weather Channel Interactive, which has built an Android-based mobile weather application. Overall, he says, he has been impressed by the Google software, which has enabled his company to build features such as the ability to look up the weather in a particular neighborhood.
But he says Weather Channel has had to "rewrite a few things" so far, and Google's most recent revision of Android "is going to require some significant work," he says.
Others -- such as Greystripe Inc., whose technology inserts ads into mobile games -- are staying away until Google clarifies key points, such as how applications will be distributed and how developers will earn revenue from them.
Google is offering software to link video on your computer and on YouTube with the PlayStation 3 and other devices that hook up to televisions.
Google is for the first time testing ways to use some of its data about online behavior to aim ads at Web users.
Google Says Android Phones Are On Schedule for 2008 (Update2)
Bloomberg - USA
By Amy Thomson June 23 (Bloomberg) -- Google Inc., owner of the world's most popular search engine, said it's on schedule to deliver the first mobile phones ...
See all stories on this topic
In early March, we announced that we'd soon incorporate an additional factor into Quality Score, namely landing page load time -- where load time is defined as the amount of time it takes for a user to see the landing page after clicking an ad. In early May we announced that landing page load time information had become available on the Keyword Analysis page.
Starting today, this load time factor will be incorporated into your keywords' Quality Scores. Keywords with landing pages that load slowly may get lower Quality Scores (and thus higher minimum bids). Conversely, keywords with landing pages that load very quickly may get higher Quality Scores and lower minimum bids.
Why are we doing this?
Two reasons: First, users have the best experience when they don't have to wait a long time for landing pages to load. Interstitial pages, multiple redirects, excessively slow servers, and other things that can increase load times only keep users from getting what they want: information about your business. Second, users are more likely to abandon landing pages that load slowly, which can hurt your conversion rate.
How can I improve my load time?
The AdWords system re-evaluates landing pages on a regular basis. If you make significant improvements to your landing page's load time, you should see a better Quality Score and lower minimum cost-per-click (CPC) bids. Note that your Quality Score may change/increase gradually over a number of weeks after you improve your load time.
To learn more about load time and landing page quality, please see this article in the AdWords Help Center.
Posted by Heather Lane, Inside AdWords crew
Wednesday, June 18, 2008 at 4:56 PM
GoogleはInside AdWordsブログで、 「本日より、このロード時間要素を、広告主のキーワードの品質スコアに加える」と述べている。「ランディングページのロード時間が遅いキーワードは、品質 スコアが低くなる（従って最低クリック単価が上がる）。逆に、ロード時間が速いキーワードは品質スコアが高くなり、最低クリック単価が下がる」 （Google）
Googleは、広告の品質を高めることでさまざまな目的を果たすと主張している。たとえば、広告をクリック（企業はここでGoogleに対する 支払いが発生する）したユーザーの満足度を改善できる。長期的にみれば、広告の品質を高めていけば、ユーザーは広告を無視したり邪魔だと思わなくなるだろ う。
Google設立当初、創業者のLarry Page氏とSergey Brin氏は「10 things Google knows to be true.（Googleが発見した10の事実）」を明らかにしている。その1つは、「遅いより速いほうがよい」である。
虎公司(Yahoo Inc.)想解救自己卻毀了自己。微軟(Microsoft Corp.)想增強實力﹐但最終只是暴露了自己的弱點。不過谷歌
Dennis K. Berman
Google could be out-innovated if it ignores new technologies, including Powerset's semantic search and Microsoft's specialization
Yahoo-Google Messaging May Drive Growth
Google and Yahoo said Thursday that they had reached an agreement under which Google would deliver ads next to some of Yahoo's search results and on some of its Web sites in the United States and Canada. The new agreement all but kills any chances of a renewed offer from Microsoft.
The deal is likely to become fodder in the heated battle between Carl C. Icahn, the activist investor, and Yahoo for control of the company. Mr. Icahn has said that if Microsoft could not be persuaded to renew its bid for all of Yahoo, he would push for Yahoo to complete a search advertising deal with Google.
With this latest twist, it would seem that the best deal maker in the Microsoft-Yahoo saga was actually Google.
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Google執行長史密特表示，這項合作案讓消費者和廣告主都受惠，因為使用者可接觸到他們更需要的廣告。Google創辦人布林和佩吉都認為，和雅虎合 作有助於市場競爭，因為雅虎只要有更多銀彈，就能強化其搜尋技術。部分分析師卻認為，雅虎和Google的合作方式，實質上類似委外經營，如此一來雅虎可 能反而會吃虧，因為廣告業主從此或許乾脆把廣告全交給Google。
By Saul Hansell
Steve Jobs showed the iPhone giving news updates, checking baseball scores and reading medical information. He introduced a new online service, Me.com, with e-mail, photo storage, calendars and more.
There’s one thing that didn’t appear in the nearly two hours of Mr. Jobs’s keynote: an advertisement.
Just as Apple is betting that people will pay to download movies and TV shows, rather than watch them free with ads, it appears to be betting that it can get customers to pay for services they get free on the Internet.
Mr. Jobs didn’t discuss the terms for the news application from The Associated Press and the baseball score application from MLB.com. He said they would be available from the iPhone App Store. (Apple has been said to be encouraging developers to charge a fee for their applications, but they are allowed to make free apps.) I wonder how much people will be willing to pay to get content in iPhone applications, when so much information is available free on the Web. After all, the iPhone’s Safari browser works well on most sites.
And the new MobileMe service, which replaces Apple’s .Mac offering, keeps its predecessor’s $99-a-year price tag. It does include a whopping 20 gigabytes of storage for that. Still, Google is giving away a fine version of many of the same applications free. There is Gmail, Google Calendar, Picasa and so on. Gmail gives about 6 gigabytes of free storage, and Google charges only $20 a year for another 10 gigabytes.
As I wrote last month, there are some people, numbered in the millions, who pay $99 for these services. John Markoff is very impressed with the interface and the offering. But how much of a bigger market is Apple leaving to Google and others by insisting that customers pay for all the content and services they use, rather than subsidizing them with ads?
Saturday, June 7, 2008; 11:09 PM
If more people are searching on Google for "Obama" than "McCain" does that mean he is more likely to win the election?
Not every voter in the U.S. uses Google, or even uses the Internet, for that matter. But enough of the population does use Google that its search patterns cannot be ignored by either candidate, the press, or anyone interested in the outcome of the election. Fortunately, Google lets anyone see the relative popularity of different search terms on Google Trends. The screen shot above is from a comparison I just did between "Obama" and "McCain" in the U.S. over the past 12 months. If search volume is predictive of election results and the elections were held today, Obama would win.
More traditional polls come to the same conclusion. A CNN-Opinion Research Corp. poll conducted June 4 and 5, shows Obama ahead by 47 percent to McCain's 43 percent (Ralph Nader has 6 percent). And a Gallup poll shows a tighter race, with Obama at 46 percent verses McCain at 45 percent. Obviously, it is a close race and sentiment can go either way between now and November. And there is a likely correlation between search volume and news mentions, which are also compared in the graph above (by pulling in data from Google News).
What is great about Google Trends, though, is that you can drill down by state. An in-depth analysis of how predictive Google Trends was during the primaries (by Michael Giuffrida, a student in Virginia) shows thatinat leasthalf the casesfor the Democratic primaries, Google Trends did a good job predicting the outcome. Update: Just to clarify, the analysis looks at both Democratic and Republican primaries. For the Democratic primaries 37 states were analyzed, and five of those had to be thrown out because of insufficient data. Of the remaining 32, Google Trends correctly predicted 27 of the primary elections, or an 84 percent success rate. For the Republican primaries, 29 elections were analyzed and Google Trends correctly predicted only about half (the data wasn't as good for a variety of reasons).
Below are two of his comparisons of Google Trends and actual election results in Missouri (where Obama won) andFloridaNevada (where Clinton won). Google Trends appears to be more predictive the higher the search volume (i.e., the more data points). Some states had more searching than others, but you'd expect election-related searches to spike across the board as the general election nears. At the very least, both campaigns would be wise to use it as a sanity check on their own polling on a state-by-state basis, if they are not doing so already.
Google introduces Gmail Labs
Scenta.co.uk - London,England,UK
Google has introduced Gmail Labs, a new tab on the Gmail Settings page that offers a selection of experimental Gmail features for users to evaluate. ...
Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida has received a 3D makeover in what the company is calling "the largest corporate initiative on Google Earth," according to Disney. Orlando parks featured in Google Earth include the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.
Users of Google's popular 3D globetrotting software can now search for "Disney World" and view three dimensional buildings, rides, and other items of interest from Disney's four theme parks and 22 hotels in the Orlando area. Google's LatLong blog says Disney has modeled the nearly 5000 structures and items that include rides, the Disney castle, and also real-world objects such as a monorail, picnic tables, benches, streetlights, signs, and trees.
Here are some screenshots of the 3D-rendered buildings. You can view more yourself by downloading Google Earth and the Disney KML layer that showcases each park. To find explore Disney search for "Disney World" once the Google Earth program is up and running and then click on the Mouse Ears icon in the middle of the park. Click on the images I've provided here for a larger view.
Gmail: Google's approach to email
What's new in Gmail?
Introducing Gmail Labs
A testing ground for experimental new features
Try out features in development and let us know what you think. To get started with Labs, currently available to Firefox 2 and IE7 users, click the Labs tab under Settings. Learn more
What's been keeping us busy...
AIM, colored labels, group chat, and rich emoticons only work in the latest version of Gmail, currently available for Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2. Please upgrade your browser to take advantage of these new features.
Gmail has a new look on the iPhone browser
Now with auto-complete when composing, automatic refreshing, and faster load times when viewing email. Learn more
More friends are more fun. Gmail welcomes your AIM® friends.
Now you can talk to your AIM® friends using an integrated chat list right inside Gmail. Learn more
AOL and AIM are trademarks of AOL LLC
Better organize your email with new colored labels. Just click the color swatch next to each label to assign a color. Learn more
Chat with multiple people without multiple windows. Invite your friends to a group discussion. To start a group chat, click 'Group chat' from the 'Options' menu when chatting. Learn more
Start sending richer expressions to your friends. Learn more
Sync your inbox across devices instantly and automatically. Whether you read or write your email on your phone or on your desktop, changes you make to Gmail will be seen from anywhere you access your inbox. Another way to use Gmail on your iPhone is through the browser. By going to m.gmail.com you get the full Gmail experience including conversation view, search, and more. Learn how to set up IMAP on other devices.
Set up IMAP on your iPhone. Watch the video
View as slideshow
Now you can open PowerPoint attachments as slideshows, without having to download anything. Just click "View as slideshow" next to the .ppt attachment you want to preview. Since you can open .doc and .xls attachments with Google Docs and Spreadsheets too, there's no need to leave your web browser to check out your Gmail attachments. Learn more
Increased attachment limit-- 20 MB!
Now you can start sharing more of those home videos, large presentations and files you just can't seem to get smaller. We have doubled the allowable attachment size to 20 MB to make your Gmail space even more useful. Learn more
It's a Gmail party and everyone is invited!
You can still invite your friends to enjoy Gmail's spam protection, 5GB free storage and other great features, but now you can also just tell them to visit www.gmail.com and sign up without an invitation.
Get mail from other accounts
Now Gmail can check for the mail you receive at your other email accounts. You can retrieve your mail (new and old) from up to five other email accounts and have them all in Gmail. Then you can even create a customized 'From:' address, which lets you send messages from Gmail, but have them look like they were sent from another one of your email accounts. Please note that you can only retrieve mail from accounts that have POP3 access enabled. Learn more
Embarrassment-reducing new message notifications
Ever replied to a message only to find out that someone sent a better, smarter reply right before you? Now, if someone sends a reply while you're in the middle of reading a conversation (or replying to it), you'll get a notification that a new message has arrived. Click "update conversation" to see what you’ve missed.
When viewing a conversation, use the new “Forward all” link on the right if you want to forward the entire conversation instead of just one message.
Chat even when your friends are offline
Chatting in Gmail just keeps getting better. Now, if you're chatting with a friend who goes offline, your friend will be able to see whatever you were typing the next time he or she goes online.
Get Gmail on your mobile phone
Download it once, and start accessing Gmail on your phone with just a click or two. To try it for yourself, point your phone to gmail.com/app. Learn more
Your friends can leave you a voicemail using Google Talk. The voice message is sent to your Gmail account as an audio file that you can download or play right from your inbox. Learn more
Reply by chat
When you're about to (or in the middle of a) reply to someone, and you see that person online, you can just send your reply as a chat message. And if you've chosen to save your chat histories, then your chat even gets threaded with that original email conversation. Learn more
A picture's worth a thousand words
With contact pictures in Gmail, you can pick ones for yourself, see which ones your friends have chosen, and set certain pictures to show up for specific people in your Gmail account. Best of all, you can even send picture suggestions to your friends. Learn more
Get in touch with your friends instantly, from right inside Gmail! It's the biggest thing to happen to Gmail, since well, Gmail. Learn more
Set an auto-response so that if you're lying on a beach or taking a train across Siberia, your friends will know you won't be checking your email. Learn more
One of our most-requested features is finally here! Now you can send messages to a group instead of having to pick out the individual addresses every time.Learn more
View as HTML
Now you can view Microsoft Office, OpenOffice or .pdf attachments as web pages by clicking the "View as HTML" link instead of downloading. For when you want to see it faster, you're on a mobile device, or you don't want to install software just to view a document. Learn more
Shortcuts on the right
Now Gmail automatically detects addresses and tracking numbers, and displays useful information such as directions and package tracking alongside your messages.
Virus scanning is here!
For your protection, Gmail now automatically scans for viruses every time you open or send a message with an attachment. We even try our best to remove all the viruses we find. Learn more
Export your Gmail Contacts and save them in a file for back-up or to use in another account or service–great if you're using Gmail's free POP access. Learn more
Saves to ‘Drafts' as you're composing. Never lose a half-written email again.
Gmail on Google.com
See your new messages directly from your personalized Google.com homepage.
Customized 'From:' addresses
Customize the address on your outgoing messages to display another one of your addresses instead. Learn more
An application for Macs
The Gmail Notifier for Mac OS X even supports plug-in development.
Free POP access and automatic forwarding
Access your mail the way you want to. Download your messages. Read them offline. Use your Blackberry or Outlook or any POP-enabled device. Or forward new messages to an email account you specify. You can even switch to other email services without having to worry about losing access to your messages. Think of it as email portability Learn more
Move all your contacts from Yahoo! Mail, Outlook, and others to Gmail in just a few clicks. Learn more
From the settings page, create a signature that's automatically added to the end of all your outgoing messages. Learn more
Q&A Search has become central to the functioning of the Internet, but Udi Manber isn't the kind of person who takes that for granted.
"I don't have to tell anybody around here that search is important. That's a very nice luxury to have," said Manber, the Google vice president in charge of search quality.
Search quality may seem like an unassuming element of Google's operations, but in fact it's at the core. Manber oversees the company's search algorithm--all the different inputs Google weighs to judge which Web sites to rank highest in search results.
Manber's work has been highly secret, partly because search is central to Google's competitive advantage and partly because Google doesn't want people gaming the system to get artificially prominent results. But the company has begun sharing a smidgen, including an opening blog post by Manber in May. I talked to him at Google headquarters recently.
How mature is search today on the Internet? Are we 5 percent of the way done with the problem? Ninety percent?
My best analogy is that a 15-year-old thinks he's very mature. A 19-year-old thinks he's extremely mature. Every few years you learn that you were not mature before. Search on the Web is about 15 years old, and obviously we were much more mature than we were 5 years ago and 10 years ago and 15 years ago. One way to put it is that it's science fiction every 5 years. What's possible today to me was science fiction 5, or definitely 10 years ago. What was (ordinary) 10 years ago was science fiction 15 years ago. The development is really pretty amazing. It surprised even me. I expect a certain level of progress, and we're actually surpassing it.
You were at the University of Arizona, then Yahoo and Amazon, then A9, then you moved to Google in 2006. Is there anything you've learned from looking at it from different perspectives, or have you been just tackling the same thing with different phone numbers on your business card?
It's the same problem, and I've looked at it from many different angles. It's bigger here, and it's better here. We have a team that's beyond any other team I've ever been with. We put more resources into it. I don't have to tell anybody around here that search is important, and that's a very nice luxury to have.
I remember the old days of AltaVista and HotBot and WebCrawler some of these other search engines--days when search was really very primitive.
I remember starting those things. They looked very sophisticated and mature at the time, which is my point about the 15-year-old.
It's clearly become a lot more usable. But even 10 years ago, everybody hadn't been trained to think the way we get information is we go to a search box and type something in. Now that seems abundantly obvious. What 10 years from now is going to look stunningly obvious as having a search box is today?
It was clear to some people. I don't want to brag too much, but it was clear to me. That's why I moved to search in the early 1990s, because everybody was talking about the information revolution. It was very clear that to have an information revolution, it's not enough to store the information and move it around, you have to find it. I know a lot of people at the time who were talking in those terms--that's going to be the revolution. The ability to find things among huge amounts of information is the key factor. So while nowadays it's completely obvious, even 6 or 7 years ago it was not obvious. I think the reason Google is so successful now is because it was obvious to (co-founders) Larry (Page) and Sergey (Brin) 10 years ago, they put in all the effort, and they're still doing it now.
Don't take that for granted. It was not that well understood, but it was understood by some people. When I started working on search when I was in academia and I said I'm working on search, they looked at me and said, "What do you mean you're working on search? Did you lose something?" In the early 1990s, even, very few people worked on search, because search was done by professionals in various limited domains. There was legal search, there was medical search, there was chemical search, and some limited news search. And it was done by a searcher--professional people. You tell them, "This is what I want to find," and they find it for you. I went to trade conferences with searchers. The idea that people will do the search themselves--that it'll democratize the whole thing and you don't have to go to a professional--that's the revolution.
I think that'll advance much more because you'll do more searches. There are a lot of things you don't search for now, because you don't expect Google will know or that the search engine will find out. We are finding that user expectations grow. The kind of searches people do now are more complicated than the kinds they were doing five years ago. People expect a lot more from us.
Ten years ago, if you actually found an answer to some specific question, it was, "Hey, look at this, it's so cool!" It was an event. Nowadays if you don't find exactly what you want in the first or second result, something is wrong. That's nice. The expectation is that we'll do it.
What do you understand that everybody else is missing five years from now--the sci-fi time frame?
I would say it's more of the same, but it's more in-depth, easier, and allowing you to control more of what you're looking for, giving you more input, finding more things. There will be lots of rocket-science things that will come along, but those I can't talk about.
One interesting trend is personalization. I like cameras, so if I do a year's worth of searching, Google understands I tend to like cameras, if I specifically enable it. How mature is that?
Yes. If you specifically give us permission and enable search history, then we'll store your search history and use it to improve your search later on. It's not something that will completely change your results. It's something that may take something from position five and move it to position three once in awhile, sometimes higher, sometimes lower. Even if you really care about cameras, many of yours searches are not about cameras. A lot of searches are about things where you don't know the answer. If you search about the history of the Renaissance and I tell you about somebody who took pictures of books about the Renaissance, it's not a good result, just because you like cameras. We have to know when to use it and when not to use it.
A related question: Everybody is into social networks these days. Is there some intermediate tier between the entire Internet searching and my personal searches, where you might have a search results input of me and my friends or me and my family?
I'm looking at it the same way I'm looking at personal search. It's one more signal we can use to improve your search. Just as if you've done the same search 15 times before, if you've done 100 searches on cameras, that tells us something. If a lot of your friends do a particular search, it's just one more signal. You have to figure out when to use it and not use it--for what kind of queries it's going to give you better results and when you ignore it.
Is that something you have under development? I don't think it's actually out there now.
It's not out there now, and we're not talking about (any future plans).
I wonder how deterministic Google is--how reproducible one search is from one day to the next. With this vast constellation of servers you have, do the changes propagate slowly across the system? If I do a search in Boston tomorrow, or with servers that are out of sync, will I get different results?
It does percolate through the system. It doesn't do it slowly. It does it very, very fast. But it's definitely the case that if you do the same search on a different cluster, you may get slightly different results at a given time. It's also the case that if you do the same search on different days you may get different results, because some of the results are things we indexed five minutes ago.
We are really, really fast. If something new happens in the world and you search for it, I'm not going to give you an exact time, but within an hour you will see in the direct results pages that relate to that story. Freshness is extremely important to us.
The other difference is it depends on location. If you do the same search from a different country, you get different results, even if it's the same language. We will tune the results by the country in which you're searching. It's by language and location.
How is universal search working? To what extent do people use it?
What we really want is for you to go to one place, Google.com, search for whatever you want, and we'll try to figure out whether you wanted a video, a book, local information. Based on the query, we will insert different media types into the main search results. You don't have to remember to go to images.google.com when you're looking for images. The idea is you don't have to think about it.
How hard is it to keep the porn out? With two large classes of things people don't want--spam and porn--a lot of energy goes into blocking it or into getting around whoever is blocking it.
We put quite a bit of energy into it. There is a whole team dedicated to removing porn, not just in the U.S., but internationally. I think we're doing a pretty good job. It can't be 100 percent, but it's a very small number. Whenever we evaluate anything, that's one of the things. Does it introduce more porn or less porn?
Is that as active a cat-and-mouse game as spam?
Not really. My impression is that most porn sites do not try to trick you. Spam is the idea of tricking you--showing you one thing when you're looking for something else. I think most porn sites have enough clientele that they don't need to do that. They pretty much identify themselves.
I'm curious about what I think of as the return of the command-line interface: Google's onebox idea. How do you see that as different from conducting a regular search? Are people going to be trained to type in specific commands to get the result they want, like "time London"? That's in the gray area between a search term and an actual command. Or do you want it to work just when people type in what they want?
We don't want to force people to learn syntax or any special thing. We want to be able to understand what they mean without them having to learn. That doesn't mean we won't allow people to type in special commands to get something special. We want to put advanced tools in there without requiring everybody to use them. "Time London" is a good example--that's what you would think if you're looking for what is now the time in London. You can also say "what is the time now in London." The idea is you're in charge, we should figure out what you want and get you that answer.
There's a solid business already with vertical search--chemical, medical, health, legal. Are you looking at some sort of search subset for specific areas?
Our approach is universal search. We want to get everything into Google search. Having said that, there are specific searches--the kind of operations you want to do in the results. For example when you do local search, geography matters, where it is on the map matters, and you want to see the results on a map. Or when you do product search, price matters. If you have cases of searches where some things matter more and you want to allow people to operate on those or navigate those parameters, then we'll give you more tools to do that. But you shouldn't have to navigate to a specific site to do that.
With video and photo, are we going to get to a point where the computer can know the content without convenient text labels?
I think we can do better at it. The typical question people pose--"Can you tell that's a tree?"--I think that's the wrong question. We can tell that's a tree with the text. We'll get you good pictures of trees. The problem is you want to look at the Hearst Building with the sign from the right angle with the sun up above. That's the kind of question that's very hard to tell, because the image doesn't say it's the Hearst Building and whether the sun is shining. You're getting into a lot of depth there. That's going to require some combination of some image processing and some information about it. The metadata around the image is going to get more important.
Can user-generated content give you an entree into that, where you have somebody who does say specifically this is the Hearst Building? So you mine Flickr and Picasa Web albums.
We have that now. And we can say I want pictures that are high quality. Or just line drawings. We can tell that, and move to more signals and more features.
For a lot of searches, I get Wikipedia entries. Do you think that's good or bad? Wikipedia has a huge number of internal links to itself; I don't know if that increases its rank in the search results.
I look at it in terms of whether people find what they're looking for. If they find what they're looking for, it's good.
Microsoft to Put Search Toolbar on H.P. Computers
SEATTLE (Reuters) — Microsoft has struck a deal with Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest personal computer maker, to place a toolbar on new PCs that leads to its Live Search engine, the companies said on Monday.
The deal is Microsoft’s latest attempt to chip away at the dominance of the search leader, Google.
The agreement, which takes effect next January for new PCs in the United States and Canada, displaces a similar one H.P. has with Yahoo.
Under the agreement, Microsoft’s search engine will also be the default service on the Internet Explorer browser, which is loaded on new Hewlett-Packard computers.
Microsoft did not disclose the terms of the agreement.
“This is the most significant distribution deal for Live Search that Microsoft has ever done,” said Kevin Johnson, president of Microsoft’s platform and services division.
Dell Inc. and Google have an agreement to install Web and desktop search software on Dell’s consumer computers. It expires in 2009.
A spokesman for Dell, which is No. 2 to Hewlett-Packard in computer manufacturing, said the company had not decided if it would continue with Google after the current deal expired, but said it was open to alternative partnerships.
Google continues to extend its lead in Web search. The research firm comScore said Google’s Web search market share in the United States rose to a record 61.5 percent in April, while Yahoo’s share declined to 20.4 percent and Microsoft’s slipped to 9.1 percent.
Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., has stepped up its efforts to catch Google. Last month, it announced a rewards program to encourage people to use its search engine to shop for items.
In February, it made an offer to buy Yahoo that was rejected by the Web company’s board. Microsoft shelved its offer over disagreement on price, but is said to have restarted talks with Yahoo last month to buy its search service.
The Human Hands Behind the Google Money Machine
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — If Google were the United States government, the data that streams onto Nicholas Fox’s laptop every day would be classified as top secret.
Mr. Fox is among a small group of Google employees who keep a watchful eye on the vital signs of one of the most successful and profitable businesses on the Internet. The number of searches and clicks, the rate at which users click on ads, the revenue this generates — everything is tracked hour by hour, compared with the data from a week earlier and charted.
“You can see very, very quickly if anything is amiss,” said Mr. Fox, director of business product management at Google.
Mr. Fox and his “ads quality” team can also quickly see whether something is working particularly well. His group’s mission, to constantly fine-tune Google’s ad delivery system, has one overriding objective: show users only the ads they are most likely to be interested in and click on.
Google runs a complex auction-based system that determines which ads will appear where, and in what order. Every time the team alters the formulas that select and rank ads, Mr. Fox can run a test and quickly see the effect of the changes on users, advertisers and Google’s revenue — which, in this year’s first quarter, came in at the rate of more than $2 million an hour.
The job has given Mr. Fox, a soft-spoken 29-year-old with an obvious affinity for nuance and numbers, a detailed understanding of the complex dynamics at work inside Google’s ad-driven economic engine.
Mr. Fox, who graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics and spent two years at the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company before joining Google in 2003, also helped organize its Revenue Force. This select group of engineers, sales and finance people, product managers and statisticians from across the company is charged with keeping top executives apprised of the forces that make Google tick.
Google reveals little of these forces to the outside world. Even on Wall Street, many experts describe Google as a giant black box that they struggle to comprehend.
In recent months, for instance, analysts and investors grew increasingly worried about reports of a decline in clicks on Google ads in the United States, which they interpreted as a sign that Google’s business could be suffering from the economic slowdown. But inside Google, Mr. Fox and others were growing confident that the company would do just fine.
“I wouldn’t quite go so far as to say we are recession-proof,” said Hal R. Varian, Google’s chief economist. “But we are recession-resistant.”
Google’s financial results for the first three months of the year surpassed expectations. Still, some analysts point out that Google’s growth is slowing, especially in the United States. The extent to which that slowdown is the fault of the economy or just the size and maturity of Google’s business remains a matter of debate on Wall Street.
Mr. Fox acknowledged that searches and clicks in some areas, like real estate and travel, have grown more slowly recently. But he noted that there is not an exact correlation between clicks and revenue: “Clicks are only part of the story.”
The idea of linking ads with search results was first developed not by Google but by GoTo.com, which later changed its name to Overture Services and then was bought in 2003 by Yahoo. Overture ranked ads based on how much advertisers were willing to bid for a certain keyword. The higher the bid, the better the placement.
As Google’s engineers developed their own search advertising system, they understood early on that giving top billing to the highest bidder would have little benefit for Google if that ad did not attract clicks. That is because advertisers typically pay Google only when a user clicks on their ads.
So Google decided to rank ads based on a combination of bid price and “click-through rate,” the frequency with which users click on a given ad. Mr. Fox’s team took things from there and gradually became better at figuring out what ads would work with users.
Yahoo tried to catch up by building a new search advertising system that works more like Google’s. It helped increase revenue, but by Yahoo’s own account, Google still earns 60 percent to 70 percent more on average than Yahoo on every search. Microsoft has also lagged, in part because it lacks enough advertisers. It acknowledged as much with its recent attempt to buy Yahoo.
Mr. Fox said Google’s ability to constantly fine-tune its operations was intricately linked with its obsession with measuring just about everything that happened on its system.
The tools to do so, however, were not always there. About four years ago, when revenue was more than doubling every year and profit was growing even faster, top executives became concerned that Google’s business could be riding a bubble in online advertising.
Traffic was growing rapidly, as was the average price that advertisers were paying for clicks. But Mr. Fox and others realized that measuring the average cost-per-click was not good enough. Users might be clicking on more high-priced ads and fewer lower-priced ads. That would cause the average cost-per-click to rise, but it would say little about the health of the overall system.
So Mr. Varian and Diane Tang, principal engineer in the ads quality group, helped devise what they call a basket of keywords. Much like the consumer price index, a basket of goods and services that economists use to track inflation, the measure is made up of a broad sample of keywords and is weighted to make it statistically accurate. This internal benchmark helps Google get a clearer picture of its performance.
As measurements improved, Mr. Fox’s team unleashed a stream of experiments meant to optimize the ad system. They evaluated changes to things like the clickable area and background color of ads, and the criteria for placing ads above search results rather than beside them.
Over time, the company also looked beyond click-through rates to rank ads. Google now takes into account the “landing page” that the ad links to, and, for example, gives low grades to pages whose sole purpose is to show more ads. Soon, the loading speed of a landing page will also be considered, Mr. Fox said.
These factors contribute to an ad’s “quality score.” The higher that score, the less the advertiser has to bid to secure top billing. For example, an advertiser who offers to pay $1 per click to attract those searching for “vacation rentals in Colorado” may receive more prominent placement than another who bids $1.50 for the same query but has a lower quality score. An advertiser with a very low quality score may have to bid so much for placement as to make it uneconomical.
Quality scores work as an incentive to advertisers to improve their ads, which benefits users and, in turn, benefits Google, Mr. Fox said.
Not all advertisers like Google’s approach. Many say that despite efforts by Google to be more transparent, they remain in the dark about what goes on inside the company’s ad machine.
“To the extent that Google is a black box, it is not a good thing for advertisers,” said Anil Kamath, co-founder and chief technology officer of Efficient Frontier, which runs search ad campaigns for marketers.
Mr. Kamath said Google still offered the most effective system for search marketers, but said many advertisers complain that the company was, in essence, deciding who can and cannot advertise on its system.
By the nature of their work, Mr. Fox and other members of the Revenue Force have a front-row seat to the sometimes peculiar relationship between world events and Google’s business.
In mid-February, for instance, the group was taken aback when they saw the number of searches drop unexpectedly. With their antennas keenly tuned for any sign that the economic slowdown could be hitting Google’s business, members of the team rushed to come up with a diagnosis. That meant poring over statistics, calling field offices and checking data centers e to ensure none were afflicted by bugs.
The team determined that Google had suffered from a series of unrelated minor ailments. Mardi Gras and the Chinese New Year kept people away from their computers, while bad weather knocked out electricity in parts of China, Mr. Varian said.
Other events have given Google unexpected increases in traffic because they kept people at home, like heavy rains and flooding in England last summer and a strike in France last fall.
“Bad weather is good for Google, as long as it is not too bad,” Mr. Varian said.
An odyssey through Google Books
Google doesn't have a booth on the sprawling, endless concourse of the BEA. They're just upstairs in the South Hall, past the press room; the last door before an enormous window that peers over an empty corner of the Convention Center. Inside are several tables and a dozen or so Google-folk, waiting for their respective appointments with 'publishing partners.'
The way it's working these days is that Google has three ways of obtaining books. They can go through their system of colleges and public libraries (the New York Public Library being perhaps the largest). Or they have the publishers come to them. Or they can go get the publishers. "We're taking a proactive approach," said Tom Turvey, the director of Google Book Search Partnerships, in regards to Google's attempt to reach out to the publishing world.
Not wanting to be seen as brutish democratizers of authors' material, Google is selling their search engine through keywords like "marketability" and "exposure." The mission is to encourage publishers small and large alike that working with Google, and having said books more easily accessed through their visual cataloging of every page, will be to everyone's benefit: author and seller.
As it stands, there are millions of titles available through Google's book search. A quick scan brings up options as varied as H.G. Wells' "In the Days of the Comet," Martin McDonagh's play "The Cripple of Inishmaan" and McGraw-Hill's GED Study Program. And there they are. You can read them as fast as your internet connection will allow. Sound like a good thing? It probably is.
And of course, there are many more titles to come. Last week's decision by Microsoft to kill further development of their book search engine has left the gates wide open for the colorfully lettered internet giant, whose slogan, now quoted less often, is "Don't be evil."
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- Google's Mobile-Handset Plans Are Slowed
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