News and notes from Google Down Under
Email overload? Try Priority Inbox
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
(Editor's note: This is a cross post from the
Official Google Blog
People tell us all that time that they’re getting more and more mail and often feel overwhelmed by it all. We know what you mean—here at Google we run on email. Our inboxes are slammed with hundreds, sometimes thousands of messages a day—mail from colleagues, from lists, about appointments and automated mail that’s often not important. It’s time-consuming to figure out what needs to be read and what needs a reply. Today, we’re happy to introduce
(in beta)—an experimental new way of taking on information overload in Gmail.
Gmail has always been pretty good at filtering junk mail into the “spam” folder. But today, in addition to spam, people get a lot of mail that isn't outright junk but isn't very important—bologna, or “
.” So we've evolved Gmail's filter to address this problem and extended it to not only classify outright spam, but also to help users separate this "bologna" from the important stuff. In a way,
is like your personal assistant, helping you focus on the messages that matter without requiring you to set up complex rules.
Priority Inbox splits your inbox into three sections: “Important and unread,” “Starred” and “Everything else”:
As messages come in, Gmail automatically flags some of them as important. Gmail uses a variety of signals to predict which messages are important, including the people you email most (if you email Bob a lot, a message from Bob is probably important) and which messages you open and reply to (these are likely more important than the ones you skip over). And as you use Gmail, it will get better at categorising messages for you. You can help it get better by clicking the buttons at the top of the inbox to correctly mark a conversation as important or not important. (You can even set up filters to always mark certain things important or unimportant, or rearrange and customise the three inbox sections.)
After lots of internal testing here at Google, as well as with Gmail and Google Apps users at home and at work, we’re ready for more people to try it out. Priority Inbox will be rolling out to all Gmail users, including those of you who use
, over the next week or so. Once you see the “New! Priority Inbox" link in the top right corner of your Gmail account (or the new Priority Inbox tab in Gmail Settings), take a look.
Posted by Doug Aberdeen, Software Engineer
Hector’s World and Google work together to promote digital citizenship for kids
Sunday, August 29, 2010
We’re pleased to have joined together with
to support the development of a new online resource, the Hector’s World “Tech Cave”, which provides tools for kids to teach themselves and their communities about how technology works. We announced the new resources last week at
Mission Heights School
in Auckland, New Zealand, and got lots of great feedback from the kids and grandparents present.
Hector’s World is a free online teaching and learning resource created in New Zealand and used in schools and early childhood centres across Australia and New Zealand to teach ‘digital citizenship’ – the smart, safe and responsible use of technology. It offers knowledge and skills in a fun, interactive environment in order to help children become confident and respectful digital citizens, encouraging them to think critically and make wise choices as they make their way in the online world.
The new Tech Cave section of
explains how different aspects of technology work, from the internet to mobile phones and GPS systems, providing kids with the tools they need to use technology effectively and safely. The first two Tech Cave modules, on the internet and web search, have been created with the support of Google, as part of our work to promote safer online experiences.
We’re a very proud supporter of Hector’s World, which is internationally recognised for its innovative approach and emphasis on empowering children, while supporting the teachers and parents charged with their care. In 2009, we worked with the Hector’s World team to launch their
, and in turn they have contributed content to our
YouTube Safety Centre
The launch of the Tech Cave will help to ensure even more kids are well positioned to take advantage of the benefits of the internet in a smart, safe and responsible way.
To find out more about Hector’s World and the Tech Cave see
Posted Ishtar Vij, Google public policy team
Calling Sydney bloggers: come and meet the team!
Friday, August 27, 2010
Blogs and user generated content account for the majority of information on the net -- Blogger alone has more than 300 million active readers. As a community, we bloggers are heterogeneous: there are as many types of blogs as there are people, and as many different subjects as there are ideas. We are all, however, united by a common goal: we want to express ourselves and in so doing, change the world.
This year, Blogger celebrates 11 years of helping us do just that: putting the power of internet expression in the hands of anyone with a connection, and fostering communities around ideas and common goals. At their best, bloggers enable effective and very passionate social networks, foster education, enable political, artistic, and cultural debate, and generate conversation and involvement that result in positive impact to the world. Simply put, bloggers care. We care enough to say something with every post.
Blogger’s 11th birthda
y with a veritable fiesta of
all around the world.
We have a growing Blogger engineering team at the Google Sydney office, and we’d love to meet local bloggers in this area, hear about your experiences blogging, desires for the future, and get candid feedback on the things that are (and aren't!) working for you. We'd also like all of you to meet each other, and get to know this group of Aussies united by a common passion.
We hope you can come along to our very own
'Blogger Fiesta' meetup
in the Google Sydney office on August 31st at 6:30pm. And, yes, since this is a Birthday party, please be assured cake will be served. We're looking forward to meeting you!
Posted by Mike Jones, engineer, Google Sydney
Announcing Student Voice 2010 results
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Australia’s next generation of voters have spoken in
Student Voice 2010
- and have elected the Gillard Labor government to be returned to power for another term. It was a close call however. Labor won by three seats and the Coalition won the popular vote with the highest share of individual votes amongst the 5000 15-17 year-old Australian students who took part.
Of the 72 electorates across Australia where the student vote was captured, Labor won 28 lower house seats, the Coalition 25 seats, the Greens 15 seats, with Christian Democrat Party, Independent, Family First and One Nation all winning one seat each. The ALP was strongest in NSW and Victoria where it won 21 out of 28 seats, while the Coalition took 15 of the 25 seats in the resource-rich states of Queensland and Western Australia, including the marginal seat of Hasluck with the Liberal candidate gaining 56% of votes.
The Greens were strongest in Victoria and stormed into retiring Labor MP Lindsay Tanner’s seat of Melbourne - winning more than half the student votes in that electorate.
In the Senate, there was a big swing to the Greens, with Australian students voting for 16 Green Senators, matching the ALP, and only marginally behind that of the Coalition.
Google developed Student Voice as an education opportunity for young Australians to experience a fundamental democratic process, vote and make their voice heard. We adopted standards and processes from the Australian Electoral Commission to ensure that the experience was as real as possible. More than five thousand school students voted for lower and upper house candidates via online ballot in classrooms, playgrounds and libraries. You can see a more detailed breakdown of results here at
The next generation of voters will go online to find political information, contact government and vote. Student Voice 2010 is an exercise in democracy and we hope it inspires students to engage and make their voices heard. Here are some fun snaps which schools sent through.
Ignatius Park College, Townsville
Westminister School, South Australia
Posted by Alan Noble, Engineering Director Google Australia and New Zealand
Eureka Prize Winner for Innovation in Computer Science 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Professor Peter Stuckey from the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering at the University of Melbourne
was announced as the winner of the inaugural Google Australia Eureka Prize for Innovation in Computer Science. Robotics pioneer,
Prof Rodney Brooks
, presented the prize.
Professor Stuckey was awarded the prize for his development of Lazy Clause generation, a software method for combinatorial optimisation which solves mathematical challenges of resource allocation significantly faster than any other existing method. Professor Stuckey’s innovation will have great benefit for solving big problems in society at lower cost from the classic Travelling Salesman Problem (every CS grad will remember this one - given a list of cities and the distance between every combination of cities, the task is to find the shortest possible tour for a salesman wishing to visit each city only once) through to train timetables, water usage allocation, and hospital staff rosters.
Professor Stuckey was joined at tonight’s Eureka Prize dinner by finalists who submitted excellent entries:
Associate Professor David Moss, University of Sydney
, for his invention of a laser optical source with multiple wavelengths that can be used to transmit information optically over existing silicon (CMOS) integrated circuits.
The Cloudbus Project from the University of Melbourne
, which has developed architectural principles and software technologies that enable high-performance, scalable, and energy-efficient Cloud computing.
I would like to thank all the people and teams who entered the prize and to congratulate Professor Stuckey for his work.
Google Australia is delighted to sponsor the Eureka Prize for Innovation in Computer Science. We’re passionately committed to promoting innovation in computer science here in Australia and we believe that the impact of computer science creates great benefits for society.
Posted by Alan Noble, Engineering Director Google Australia and New Zealand
What's your secret talent?
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Editor's note: This is a cross post from
YouTube Australia blog
Think you’ve got what it takes to be the next big thing? If so, YouTube is your stage. For the first time in Australia, YouTube and Vodafone are teaming up to bring you a head-to-head online talent competition. Maybe you’ve got a
knack for dance
like last year’s MyMutation contest winner Emma Watkins, or an
ear for classical music
like Alan Chan. Or maybe you can drop a beat to outshine
Fully Sick Rapper
We’re looking for
acts of any shape and size
to win flights and accommodation to a mystery music experience in Madrid, Spain, and other fabulous prizes, provided by Vodafone. The audition process is simple -- and all online. Simply upload a video of under 90 seconds to your YouTube account and submit your entry at
. Your videos should only contain original content and must be submitted by September 22 for a chance to win.
Australians will be able to vote on the final ten and we’ll announce the winner of the vote on October 5.
If you’ve got talent, we want to know. What’s your secret talent?
Posted by Ernesto Soriano, Product Marketing Manager, YouTube Australia
Beached Az: The Goats
Thousands of Australians capture their Life in a Day
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Nearly 1,500 Aussies picked up a video camera on Saturday, July 24 and captured part of their day for an ambitious new YouTube project.
Life in a Day
is a global experiment aiming to create the first ever user-generated feature film, and when entries closed last weekend we found out we’d received 80,000 submissions from people around the world, representing 197 countries and 45 languages.
Australians filmed themselves walking on the beach in Melbourne, skiing in Thredbo, and answering the questions
posed by Life in a Day director Kevin Macdonald
: “What do you love? What do you fear? What makes you laugh? What’s in your pocket?”
The next step? Over the coming months, the most compelling and distinctive footage received will be edited into a feature-length film, produced by Ridley Scott (of Gladiator fame) and directed by Kevin Macdonald (director of the Last King of Scotland).
A gallery of submitted footage will go live on YouTube’s
Life in a Day channel
in early September, and the final film will screen at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011 and be available on YouTube. We can’t wait to see the result, and whether any Australians will be co-credited as directors when the film is released.
Posted by Ernesto Soriano, YouTube team
ICT debate live on YouTube
Monday, August 9, 2010
With less than two weeks until Election Day, what are our political leaders saying about information technology and communications and how will we ensure that Australia keeps pace in a new era of digital communications?
We’re teaming up with the
Australian Computer Society
, Viocorp and Sky News to bring you a pre-election forum with Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy; Shadow Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, the Hon Tony Smith MP; and Greens ICT spokesperson, Senator Scott Ludlam.
YouTube will live stream the ICT Policy Forum on (
) where each participant will outline their party’s stance and key election priorities in the ICT area, as well as strategic visions for the next decade.
In addition to the live stream, the YouTube channel will feature live twitter feeds (#ausvotes, #ITElectionForum), and a playback video of the forum will be available to view from youtube.com/australiavotes following the event. Want to get more engaged with the upcoming election, and find out about important issues for our digital future? Here’s your chance.
The event will begin at 12:55pm AEST, and run through to 2:05 pm AEST on Tuesday 10 August.
Posted by Ernesto Soriano, YouTube Team just watched
String Qintet WIN
Update on Google Wave
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Editor's note: This is a cross post from the
Official Google Blog
We have always pursued innovative projects because we want to drive breakthroughs in computer science that dramatically improve our users’ lives. Last year at
, when we launched our developer preview of Google Wave, a web app for real time communication and collaboration, it set a high bar for what was possible in a web browser. We showed character-by-character live typing, and the ability to drag-and-drop files from the desktop, even “playback” the history of changes—all within a browser. Developers in the audience stood and cheered. Some even
waved their laptops
We were equally jazzed about Google Wave internally, even though we weren’t quite sure how users would respond to this radically different kind of communication. The use cases we’ve seen show the power of this technology: sharing images and other media in real time; improving spell-checking by understanding not just an individual word, but also the context of each word; and enabling third-party developers to build new tools like consumer gadgets for travel, or robots to check code.
But despite these wins, and numerous loyal fans, Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product, but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects. The central parts of the code, as well as the protocols that have driven many of Wave’s innovations, like drag-and-drop and character-by-character live typing, are already available as open source, so customers and partners can continue the innovation we began. In addition, we will work on tools so that users can easily “liberate” their content from Wave.
Wave has taught us a lot, and we are proud of the team for the ways in which they have pushed the boundaries of computer science. We are excited about what they will develop next as we continue to create innovations with the potential to advance technology and the wider web.
Posted by Urs Hölzle, Senior Vice President, Operations & Google Fellow
New courses added to the AdWords Online Classroom
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Since we launched the
AdWords Online Classroom
in Australia in May, we’ve seen hundreds of small- and medium-business take advantage of these free tutorials to improve their knowledge of online advertising. Whether you’re interested in how to choose the best keywords for your campaigns, how to write the most effective ads, or how to use our advanced analytics and conversion products, there’s something for everyone.
We’ve added several new courses in the last couple of weeks in response to advertiser feedback.
Go beyond search: Advertisers looking to promote their business online beyond search advertising should take a look at our tutorials on
Google Display Network
Monitor and improve ad performance: A trio of tutorials can help advertisers
understand their advertising’s performance
identify new opportunities
to find more customers, and
adjust their bidding strategies
to get the best return on their advertising investment.
As always, there’s absolutely no cost to sign up, and you can watch the tutorials at any time that it suits your diary. We’ve kept the courses bite-size, usually less than 20 minutes long, to fit with your busy schedule. All you'll need to sign-up is the email address you use to log into AdWords and your 10-digit Customer ID, which you can find at the top-right of your account.
Take this important next step to grow your business today and visit the
AdWords Online Classroom
Posted by Richard Flanagan, Google Australia AdWords
Google Election 2010 political panel
Monday, August 2, 2010
I love election time and these days, the Internet makes it so easy to access information about political issues and participate in political debate. Last week, Google Australia was honoured to host three politicians who certainly care deeply about the Internet and communications online.
Senator Kate Lundy
Paul Fletcher MP
Senator Scott Ludlam
AEC State Manager Doug Orr
attended a press conference at Google Australia to
launch new Google initiatives
to make it easier for Australians to engage and participate in the 2010 election.
You can see videos of this event at
, including speeches and a lively panel discussion covering filtering, broadband policy, maths education and voting age. The panel were grilled by school students, journalists, and citizen reporters from
You can find out more about Google’s election initiatives at
Posted by Alan Noble, Engineering Director, Google Australia
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