Geek Time with Junio C Hamano

Time to get your Geek on!  See the following post by Ellen Ko, Open Source Team at Google to fill your geek-info quota!  If you don’t have time to watch the entire video, but want certain information, see notes with timestamps for better skimming! Beth

Junio C Hamano is a software engineer in the Google Open Source Programs Office who works on the open source project Git. Git is an increasingly popular distributed version control system that is used by many open source projects including Android, Chrome OS, and the Linux kernel. Jun is the maintainer and one of the primary authors of Git, with 4426 commits!

Jeremy Allison, co-creator of Samba and fellow Open Source Programs Office team member, recently sat down with Jun for some quality Geek Time. Samba uses Git, so there was plenty to talk about! Here are some highlights:

• Jun and Jeremy discuss how Jun began working on open source after the maintainer of GNU’s source control system RCS, Paul Eggert, began mentoring him. (0:56)

• Jun explains why he prefers working within the open source software development model. (2:50)

• Jeremy asks Jun how he became interested and involved with Git. (3:27)

• When Jun first started working on Git, he had to balance his time between working on an open source project with a day job. Jun reveals his secret for making this balance work, and also how he eventually integrated Git into his day job. (7:00)

• Jun and Jeremy discuss the growing popularity of Git in comparison to older version control systems, and Jun gives an overview of some of Git’s features that set it apart. (9:28)

• Jeremy shares his one criticism of Git, which is that it’s hard to use. Jun responds and offers some suggestions for those who are new to Git. (12:48)

• Jun reveals some longer-term goals for Git as well as some new developments for future releases. (17:44)

• Jeremy asks Jun how he ended up at Google and they talk about Git’s growing role within Google. (19:24)

• Jun gives advice to developers who are new to open source and want to get involved. (21:50)

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Assembling resources following the earthquake in Japan

(re-posted from the Blog)

I was in the middle of writing code when the Google Japan office, on the 26th floor of Roppongi Hills in Tokyo, started shaking slowly. The rocking gradually increased, and I looked out the window to see the surrounding buildings all swaying ominously. Although alerts from the building urged us to evacuate via the emergency stairs, I couldn’t help but stay and search for information about the earthquake’s epicenter and scale. Amidst a series of aftershocks rocking our office, a small group of us in Tokyo and several other Google offices started gathering information about the earthquake to create the Crisis Response information page.

As someone who experienced the Kobe earthquake 16 years ago when I was at university, I cannot forget the immediate desire for information. There was no way to find out where people’s family and friends were, if transportation would be available to get us home, and most importantly, whether we would be able to find shelter.

This experience helped me remember that during a crisis, information about shelters can become increasingly muddled. Together with our Google Crisis Response team, we decided to organize existing public information from local governments about the concerned areas. Because of the very high volume of web traffic yesterday, this proved difficult to access. Collaborating with the Google Maps engineering team in Tokyo, we rapidly put together a page of information on Google Maps for our Crisis Response page.

And thanks to our colleagues in California and around the globe, within one hour of the earthquake we launched Google Person Finder, a tool to help locate missing people, in Japanese, Chinese and English. We published sites in Japanese and English with maps, news updates, videos and resources. We also posted tsunami alerts on the Google homepage for appropriate domains to make sure as many people as possible saw the warning. And in addition to these tools we’ve made available, we are donating $250,000 to organizations in Japan who are working on relief and recovery efforts.

Our hearts go out to those who have been affected by the tragedy, and we thank the citizens, first responders and organizations working hard to keep everyone safe.

Posted by Ken Miura on behalf of Google Japan and international Crisis Response teams

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Geek Time with Jim Zemlin

How can “Geek Time” be bad?  Check out this informative and interesting post about Jim Zemlin, Executive Director at the Linux Foundation.

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Jim Zemlin is the Executive Director of the Linux Foundation, and earlier this month he sat down with the Open Source Programs Office’s Jeremy Allison for a chat about the future of Linux. In addition to talking about the future, Jim shares insights on the history and significance of Linux. Some highlights:

  • Jim explains the role of the Linux Foundation in Linux kernel development, including the work of Linus Torvalds. (0:18)
  • Jeremy and Jim talk about the organizations that support the Linux Foundation, and their reasons for doing so. (2:21)
  • Jeremy poses one of his favorite questions: “Is this the year of the Linux desktop?” Jim responds with less concern about desktop computers and focuses his interest on mobile devices, which are becoming predominately Linux. (9:33)
  • The discussion turns toward tablet devices and their impact on Linux. (13:25)
  • Linux’s GPLv2 license allows DRM, and Jeremy wonders if this contradicts the ideals of freedom that Linux was built upon. Jim compares the controversy to the “Consume vs. Contribute” issue that Linux faced years ago. In that case, the collaborative nature of open source software development made it advantageous for everyone to contribute, so most commercial users eventually ended up contributing. In regards to DRM, Jim believes that consumer dictate will direct the future of DRM products. (15:23)
  • Jim recounts a conversation he had with a major electronics company about the importance and complexity of software on consumer electronic devices. Jim explains how these considerations direct manufacturers towards open source software. (20:32)
  • Jeremy asks Jim about the feasibility of creating an operating system from scratch, or if Linux is the only viable option. The value of Linux was recently estimated at $10.8 billion, so the barrier to entry is extremely high. In addition, there are several incentives for using the existing Linux ecosystem. (23:07)
  • Jim talks about how advances in one field of Linux has benefited other fields. For example, developers working on mobile devices helped reduce power consumption for those working on high-performance computing. (26:58)
  • Jim shares how his career path led him to his current role at the Linux Foundation. (31:05)

By Ellen Ko, Open Source Team

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Use Google Apps APIs without writing a program

Google Apps have rocked our world here at RemoteLink.  Check out the following post about Google Apps API’s and GASI!

(originally posted by By Jeff Pickhardt, Enterprise Sales Engineering Team, Google)

Today we are releasing the Google Apps Shell Interface (GASI), a graphical user interface for administrators working with Google Apps APIs.

Google Apps administrators work with the APIs for a variety of reasons. First, there are a number of features that are only exposed to the administrator through the APIs. Second, the administrator may wish to save time by automating a task instead of repeating it for thousands of users. Traditionally, you’d write a program directly using the Google Apps APIs, use libraries such as gData, or write a shell script using third party scripts such as the Google Apps Manager (GAM).

Now you can also use the user interface in GASI to issue commands. GASI allows Google Apps administrators to make certain API calls through a graphical user interface without having to write a program. You can also execute commands dynamically generated with variables from a CSV file, for batch execution.

The commands available in GASI are listed in the documentation page for the Google Apps Shell (GAS), a library that comes with GASI. GAS can also be called from a command line interface. The current version of GAS contains commands to configure email settings, Google Groups, user nicknames, user accounts, and domain organizations. For example, there is a GAS command to move a user to an organization in the control panel. With GASI, you can programmatically run this command for a number of users listed in a CSV file. Other common use cases include renaming usernames or creating user nicknames.

If you’re looking for other ways to use Google APIs through a command line, check out the Postini EZCommand Shell and Google CL, two other open source projects from Google.

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SugarCRM Reveals Results of 2010 Social CRM Survey

Latest Results Show Slow Adoption Rate of Social CRM, Early Adopters Enjoying Competitive Advantage

CUPERTINO, Calif.—January 18, 2011—SugarCRM, the world’s fastest growing customer relationship management (CRM) company, today announced the results of its 2010 Social CRM Survey. The poll’s results reinforced the notion that in the year 2010, CRM practitioners have been slow to embrace social. Those that have chosen to take advantage of this new technology have enjoyed a competitive advantage in the market and a considerable return on investment, placing them firmly ahead of their challengers.

Survey Results

  • 42 percent of respondents said LinkedIn is where they most often interact with or research customers and prospects, while 32 percent listed Facebook and 14 percent listed Twitter.
  • 50 percent of respondents said yes, social networks have helped their business become more successful in the last 12 months.
  • Only 26 percent of respondents said they currently integrate their customers’ social networking information with their existing CRM data.
  • 72 percent of respondents said they plan to integrate their customers’ social networking information into their existing CRM data within the next year.
After reviewing the results, the discrepancies among the responses become obvious. Over half of those polled indicated that social networks have helped their business become more successful, yet only 26 percent of respondents currently utilize this priceless social network information.

According to the survey, 2011 will bring much change to the CRM market; virtually all of the respondents agreed that over the course of the New Year they planned to integrate their customers’ social networking information into their existing CRM data. While nearly half of all respondents stated that having social CRM capabilities would impact their decision-making when purchasing their company’s next CRM system, it’s clear that social CRM will become a staple in the market by 2012.
Some companies have chosen to lead the charge on social CRM, and upgrade their CRM software before it becomes an industry norm. Insource Performance Solutions, a SugarCRM customer, is one of those companies.

“The integration between InsideView and SugarCRM allows us to leverage social media and other real time data sources to our advantage, all in a simple-to-consume, automated format,” said Chip Meyers, sales operations manager for Insource. “The merging of social and CRM system data gives us a competitive edge.”

About SugarCRM
SugarCRM makes CRM Simple. As the world’s fastest growing customer relationship management (CRM) company, SugarCRM applications have been downloaded more than seven million times and currently serve over 600,000 end users in more than 130 countries. Over 6,000 customers have chosen SugarCRM’s On-Site and Cloud Computing services over proprietary alternatives. SugarCRM has been recognizedfor its customer success and product innovation by Forrester Research, CRM Magazine, InfoWorld, Customer Interaction SolutionsandIntelligent Enterprise.

RemoteLink, Inc is a SugarCRM Gold Partner
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Make quick fixes quicker on Google Project Hosting

This is good news indeed. Even non developers can appreciate quicker quick fixes!  Let’s hear it for Google!  (Beth Kolar)

Have you ever noticed a bug or typo in your code but not been in a position to fix it? Perhaps you were browsing the code online from your Cr-48, or perhaps you just didn’t have Subversion or Mercurial handy. Today the Google Project Hosting team is announcing a new feature for you: the ability to edit your source code files directly in the browser, in our online editor powered by CodeMirror. Just look for the “edit file” link on files in the online source browser.

As you edit, you can preview the diff of your changes, so you know exactly what you are committing:
And if you don’t have commit privileges to the project? No problem. Instead of committing your changes, you can file your changes as a patch in the project’s issue tracker.

By lowering the barrier to entry for everyone — project members and users alike — we hope to make it easier for projects to grow and improve. Enjoy!

By Jacob Lee, Google Project Hosting Team

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Going Green at Google in 2010

Cloud Computing can be the epitome of  ‘green’.  However, it can be easy to overlook all the areas we are NOT really green.  Thanks Google for thinking beyond ‘paper’! Beth Kolar

Cross-posted on the Official Google Blog

At Google, we’re committed to building a clean energy future because we we want to be good environmental stewards, and because we think it makes business sense. We’ve had a busy year with our clean energy initiatives. Take look at our redesigned green website and this new video from the Google green team to learn more about the priorities we’re pursuing:

As we look back on 2010, we wanted to highlight what we’ve been working on this year to help build a more sustainable future—for Google, and the world.

  • Greening our operations. We already have the most energy efficient data centers in the world, and use renewable energy whenever possible. This year we created a subsidiary, Google Energy LLC, to enable us to purchase renewable energy on the wholesale power markets and to help spur development in the sector.
    • Flexibility in buying renewable energy. In February, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted Google Energy LLC the authority to buy and sell energy on the wholesale market, giving us the flexibility to procure renewable energy at competitive prices.
    • 20-year green power purchase. Our FERC authority enabled Google Energy LLC to enter a 20-year green Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in July to buy clean energy from 114 megawatts (MW) of wind generation at NextEra’s Story County II facility in Iowa (read more about how the deal is structured). By purchasing so much energy for so long, we’re giving the developer financial certainty to build additional clean energy projects.
  • Developing green products and tools. Just a few weeks ago, during the the U.N. Climate Change Conference in sunny Cancun, Mexico, we launched Google Earth Engine, a new Google Labs product. Google Earth Engine is a technology platform that makes an unprecedented catalog of imagery and data available online in one place for the first time. It enables global-scale monitoring and measurement of changes in the earth’s environment. We’re particularly excited about the initial use of Google Earth Engine to support efforts to stop global deforestation. We’ve also been busy this year incorporating green features into our products—like Google Maps biking directions and adding Carbon Disclosure Project ratings into Google Finance.
  • Investing in a clean energy future. To date, Google has invested over $100 million in clean energy. has already invested in several clean technology companies. We’ve also continued our internal R&D on renewable energy technologies (RE<C), substantially growing our engineering team. And this year, Google began making project investments that offer a solid financial return, and could have a transformational impact on the renewable energy sector.
    • North Dakota wind farms. In May, we invested $38.8 million in two North Dakota wind farms that generate 169.5MW, enough to power 55,000 homes. It was our first project investment, and uses some of the latest wind turbine technology and control systems to provide one of the lowest-cost sources of renewable energy to the local grid.
    • Offshore wind transmission. In October, we made a development stage investment in a project to build a backbone transmission line off the Mid-Atlantic coast. The project will put in place strong, secure transmission, removing a major barrier to scaling up offshore wind. When finished, the 350-mile line will connect up to 6,000MW of offshore wind energy—enough to serve approximately 1.9 million households!

It’s been a busy year at Google, and we believe the world needs better options in the future. As we head into the new year, we look forward to continuing our work to find and support innovative clean energy solutions.

Posted by Bill Weihl, Green Energy Czar

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Being bad to your customers is bad for business

Search Engine Optimization.  Sometimes sounds like secret formulas and incantations. Although experts will tell you that “Content is King” the article below from Official Google Blog and the article it refers to (a good read), you will read that loopholes exist. (Well, we all knew that anyway.) What is noteworthy is that Google has updated its algorithms to again provide search better search results for humans. Because, after all, it is humans who use the internet.

Original article Posted by Amit Singhal, Google Fellow, Google Official Blog:

A recent article by the New York Times related a disturbing story. By treating your customers badly, one merchant told the paper, you can generate complaints and negative reviews that translate to more links to your site; which, in turn, make it more prominent in search engines. The main premise of the article was that being bad on the web can be good for business.

We were horrified to read about Ms. Rodriguez’s dreadful experience. Even though our initial analysis pointed to this being an edge case and not a widespread problem in our search results, we immediately convened a team that looked carefully at the issue. That team developed an initial algorithmic solution, implemented it, and the solution is already live. I am here to tell you that being bad is, and hopefully will always be, bad for business in Google’s search results.

As always, we learned a lot from this experience, and we wanted to share some of that with you. Consider the obvious responses we could have tried to fix the problem:

  • Block the particular offender. That would be easy and might solve the immediate problem for that specific business, but it wouldn’t solve the larger issue in a general way. Our first reaction in search quality is to look for ways to solve problems algorithmically.
  • Use sentiment analysis to identify negative remarks and turn negative comments into negative votes. While this proposal initially sounds promising, it turns out to be based on a misconception. First off, the terrible merchant in the story wasn’t really ranking because of links from customer complaint websites. In fact, many consumer community sites such as Get Satisfaction added a simple attribute called rel=nofollow to their links. The rel=nofollow attribute is a general mechanism that allows websites to tell search engines not to give weight to specific links, and it’s perfect for the situation when you want to link to a site without endorsing it. Ironically, some of the most reputable links to Decor My Eyes came from mainstream news websites such as the New York Times and Bloomberg. The Bloomberg article was about someone suing the company behind Decor My Eyes, but the language of the article was neutral, so sentiment analysis wouldn’t have helped here either.As it turns out, Google has a world-class sentiment analysis system (Large-Scale Sentiment Analysis for News and Blogs). But if we demoted web pages that have negative comments against them, you might not be able to find information about many elected officials, not to mention a lot of important but controversial concepts. So far we have not found an effective way to significantly improve search using sentiment analysis. Of course, we will continue trying.
  • Yet another option is to expose user reviews and ratings for various merchants alongside their results. Though still on the table, this would not demote poor quality merchants in our results and could still lead users to their websites.

Instead, in the last few days we developed an algorithmic solution which detects the merchant from the Times article along with hundreds of other merchants that, in our opinion, provide an extremely poor user experience. The algorithm we incorporated into our search rankings represents an initial solution to this issue, and Google users are now getting a better experience as a result.

We can’t say for sure that no one will ever find a loophole in our ranking algorithms in the future. We know that people will keep trying: attempts to game Google’s ranking, like the ones mentioned in the article, go on 24 hours a day, every single day. That’s why we cannot reveal the details of our solution—the underlying signals, data sources, and how we combined them to improve our rankings—beyond what we’ve already said. We can say with reasonable confidence that being bad to customers is bad for business on Google. And we will continue to work hard towards a better search.

RLBlogs Note:  Contact RemoteLink if you are interested in Search Engine Optimization for your site.

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Google Voice for iPhone

Androids rule our office right now, I am only one of two people with an iPhone (but I love my iPhone).  My techie-geeky workmates are in a constant state of ‘droidiness’.  So I have been feeling left out when it comes to Google Voice especially.  But no more!! I just installed this and am really liking it.  I still don’t pass as a tech geek at the office, but I can text for free.  yay! by beth kolar
Read more about the App iPhone users have been waiting for…

Earlier this year we launched a Google Voice HTML5 web app for iPhone users. Today we’re taking the Google Voice experience on the iPhone to a whole new level with the launch of the official Google Voice for iPhone app.

With this native app, you’ll continue to have access to all the major Google Voice features on your iPhone, like:

  • Cheap rates for international calls
  • Free text messaging to U.S. numbers
  • Voicemail transcription
  • Display your Google Voice number as caller ID when making calls

In addition to these benefits, the app provides some features that make using Google Voice on your iPhone a much better experience:

  • With push notifications, the app will alert you instantly when you receive a new voicemail or text message
  • Most of your calls will be placed via Direct Access Numbers, making them connect just as quickly as regular phone calls

Google Voice for iPhone is available to download from the Apple App Store today. You’ll need an iPhone with iOS 3.1 or later and a valid Google Voice account to use the app. At this time, Google Voice is available in the U.S. only.

(You will also find this article at the Google Voice Blog and on the Google Mobile Blog)Posted by Christian Brunschen, Software Engineer

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Custom shoes made possible with custom AdWords campaigns

I would like to start the week off on the right foot, so it only makes sense to talk about shoes…and AdWords! AdWords has come a long way since RemoteLink started using their service, way back near the beginning of the century.  Analytics, Insights and Display Network are all great tools and mentioned in this article with links to more information.  Enjoy your Monday read:

(Cross-posted from the Google Small Business Blog)

Mike Knapp and Michael Fox had always dreamed of founding a start-up. Jodie Fox (Michael’s wife) had always loved custom-made shoes. When her friends started asking her to design shoes for them and to bring these handmade shoes back from her travels, she, Mike and Michael saw a business opportunity. The trio founded their online custom shoe design company Shoes of Prey to share the design experience with the rest of the world.

The business first took flight in Australia, where the founders live and their company headquarters. Their first customers were trusted friends, who tested the online creation tool and proudly wore their personalized designs. The ability to create custom shoes quickly went viral. It seemed that with each step they took, the initial testers received questions about where they found their fabulous footwear. Soon strangers began making purchases, and when the website spread to overseas locations, the team began offering different currencies to allow for international sales.

The team had already created an AdWords account to promote Shoes of Prey to online customers in Australia. As they expanded internationally, they created new AdWords campaigns targeted at English-speaking countries with currencies they could process. They used AdWords location-targeting to show ads in new locations: Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the U.K. and the U.S. Michael says, “Despite being based in Australia, it took only a matter of days for our first orders to start coming in from the other side of the world. It was exciting to see!”

Currently, about 10 percent of Shoes of Prey’s shoe sales come from AdWords customers—and about 40 percent of those sales are from international buyers. One of the main reasons they’ve been successful in reaching international audiences is the ease with which they can edit ad texts for each location. “Gift certificates have been really popular on our site,” Michael says. “So we use AdWords to promote our gift certificates. Key events for us are Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and Christmas.”

Michael then uses Google Insights for Search to identify each country’s peak search traffic dates for these occasions. “We time specific AdWords campaigns to target each of these events. Mother’s Day is on a different day in different countries, so AdWords lets us run ads at different times of the year for the various countries, and edit the ads so they speak to users in those countries. For example, we’ll mention the price of our shoes in euro in Ireland and in dollars in the U.S.”

After only a year of operation, the founders have hired three new employees and have formed partnerships with local firms in Japan and Russia to localize their offering in those markets. “Early on in the life of our business, AdWords showed us the potential our business has for growth outside Australia, so we now offer Japanese and Russian versions of our website, complete with local marketing and customer support in those markets,” says Michael.

With AdWords, Michael, Jodie and Mike have been able to share their passion for custom shoes with international customers who share their love for customization. Their next step is to inspire all shoe lovers to design their own footwear. Michael tells us: “We’re starting to experiment with the Google Display Network to help us find those first customers while they’re browsing the web.” And they’ll continue to use AdWords location targeting and ad text customization to reach new international customers who might not know just how much fun designing shoes can be!

Original Post by Maren Bean, Sr. Associate, Ads Communications

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