News and notes from Google Down Under
Eureka! New Google Australia Eureka prize for computer science
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I'm excited to announce the inaugural Google Australia
for Innovation in Computer Science. The $10,000 prize will be awarded annually to an individual or team of Aussies who demonstrate real innovation in computer science.
Each year, the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes reward excellence in research and innovation, science leadership, school science, and science journalism and communication. Google is delighted to sponsor a new category as part of the Eureka awards.
Here at Google we're passionately committed to innovation in computer science. We hope that by encouraging future generations to embrace the power of an IT education now, we'll foster our next generation of innovators. As part of our ongoing support, we have set up other grants including the
2010 Google Australia and New Zealand Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship
which is aimed at helping Australian women become global IT leaders.
Entries in the Google Australia Eureka Prize for Innovation in Computer Science should be cutting-edge and represent a tangible advance in their field. The winning innovation will have the potential to improve the lives of many other Australians.
You can enter as an individual or as a team, and your submission can take the form of a research contribution, commercial product or completely private work such as an open source development.
Enter online here
and submit your form along with your supporting documents before midnight AEST Friday May 7, 2010.
Best of luck!
Posted by Alan Noble, Engineering Director Google Australia and New Zealand
Turn left at the chemist and I'll meet you at the ATM
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
In August last year, we added icons and labels of prominent businesses and places of interest directly onto Google Maps, making it easy to get to know cities when you're on holiday, find inspiration for new restaurants in unfamiliar neighbourhoods, or even just browse around an area for fun. It helps Google Maps to be even richer in information - check out how Sydney appears when you can see all of the restaurants and other places of interest in just a couple of city blocks.
Not only can you see where these places are, but you can click the icons to get a summary of what the place is about and explore further by choosing more info to see business information, reviews, photos, and more.
Today we launched another new Google Maps feature that we've been working on here in the Sydney office, that builds on this feature. Now when you visit Google Maps in Australia, it'll be easier to find some of those shops and other businesses you visit most often because when you zoom in, some businesses will be identified by a small representation of their logo. These easily recognisable logos more closely depict online what the offline world looks like, so next time you're trying to find your way on the map you can navigate more easily using these icons as landmarks. Can't remember the name of a cross street? Next time, try telling someone you'll meet them 'across the road from the ATM'!
Below you can see an example of what this will look like when zoomed in:
As well as making it easier for you to find the nearest burger joint or ATM at a single glance, this new feature helps local business owners promote their physical location on the map via an easily recognisable logo, and therefore connect with a larger audience. Advertisers will pay to have these sponsored map icons appear on the Map instead of a generic icon, helping to generate awareness of their locations among the millions of people who visit Google Maps every day. If you're an advertiser that would like to talk to us about having your business appear like this on Google Maps, please add your details to
Meanwhile, I'm off to do some electronics shopping - seeing that JB Hi-Fi logo on the map reminds me that I've been promising to pick up a new webcam for months now, and I really should get onto it!
Posted by Matthew Leske, Product Manager
Be a Cluey Voter
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
As a South Aussie, I'm voting in the South Australian state election this Saturday, 20 March 2010. There are 74 candidates running for the 11 seats in the SA Legislative Council (upper house of Parliament).
State legislative councillors, like senators at the federal level, are elected by a preferential voting system, known as
. Like many voters, I prefer to vote "below the line", i.e., deciding on my own order of choice for all the candidates by numbering each and every box. Voting below the line gives voters more flexibility to reflect their personal preferences. But sequentially numbering each and every candidate from 1 to N (where N = 74 at this SA election) is time consuming and error prone. That's why many voters choose to vote "above the line", relying on the so-called "Group Voting Ticket" by which a party allocates its preferences.
But what if you could vote below the line easily, without the risk of mistakes? I developed a simple web application to do just this, which I've called
Just specify your level of support for each group on the ballot, and Cluey Voter numbers candidates to reflect your order. Note that numbering is automatically generated and is in no way any recommendation on how to vote!
try it out
, and be a cluey voter!
Posted by Alan Noble, Engineering Director, Google Australia and New Zealand
2010 CHOICE Best Technology Innovator
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Last night I attended the inaugural CHOICE Awards and was honoured to accept on behalf of Google the award for
2010 CHOICE Best Techology Innovator
To be recognised for
innovation, value, transparency, social benefits, competition, and reliability
means a great deal to all of us at Google. Our business is innovation -- we all consider ourselves innovators and our approach is to focus on the user, to bet on the web and to keep it open.
The great thing about innovation is that it has no bounds -- it's geographically blind. We’ve made the most of that here in Australia with small teams of dedicated engineers working on big projects such as Google Maps, Apps and Wave. We try to develop products for the future - not just the way people use the web right now, but the way they'll use it in five and ten years.
Thank you to Choice for the award! Next year, I promise to wear a suit.
Posted by Lars Rasmussen, Software Engineering Manager
Google Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship for Women in Technology
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Dr. Anita Borg devoted her adult life to revolutionising the way we think about technology and dismantling barriers that keep women and minorities from entering computing and technology fields. Anita's technical expertise and fearless vision inspires and motivates women to become leaders in creating technology.
At Google, we believe that the wave of information and communications on the web is changing lives for the better and creates fantastic options for students choosing careers in technology. We want to continue Anita's vision for women and we're excited to announce the 2010 Google Australia and New Zealand Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship. Through the scholarship, we aim to encourage women to excel in computing and technology and become active role models and leaders.
We're looking for women with a strong academic background who have demonstrated leadership. Each scholar recipient will receive a $5,000 scholarship towards the 2011 academic year. In addition all finalists and scholarship recipients will be invited to an expenses-paid networking retreat to be held at Google’s Sydney Engineering centre in September.
The scholarship is open for women students at an Australian or New Zealand university who have completed one or more years of a Bachelors degree with at least one year of study remaining, whether as part of a Bachelors or postgraduate degree. We're looking for women studying Computer Science, Software Engineering, Informatics, or a closely related technical field, who have maintained an excellent academic record.
See full information and apply here
Posted by Isa Notermans, People Programs Specialist
Google, transparency, and our not-so-secret formula
Friday, March 5, 2010
(Editor's note: This is a cross-post from our
European Public Policy blog
Recently the European Commission
opened a preliminary inquiry
into competition complaints. Part of the complaint alleges that Google operates without sufficient transparency into how and why web sites rank in our search results. The notion that Google isn't transparent is tough for me to swallow. Google has set the standard in how we communicate with web site publishers. Let me tell you about some of the ways we explain to sites how we rank them and why.
One of the most widely-discussed parts of Google's scoring has always been PageRank. That "secret ingredient" is hardly a secret.
Here it is
. That early paper not only gave the formula for PageRank, but mentioned many of the other signals in Google's ranking, including anchor text, the location of words within documents, the relative proximity of query words in a document, the size and type of fonts used, the raw HTML of each page, and capitalisation of words. Google has continued to publish literally
hundreds of research papers
over the years. Those papers reveal many of the "secret formulas" for how Google works and
that Google uses. Some of these
have spurred not only open-source
in their own right.
Academic papers are one thing, but Google also aims to engage and educate in many other ways. In 1999, Sergey Brin participated in the first
Search Engine Strategies
conference for webmasters. In 2001, Google became one of the first search engines to engage online at a publisher forum called
. One representative (GoogleGuy) has posted over 2800 times, while another (AdWordsAdvisor) has posted almost 5000 times.
Google's efforts at transparency and communication have evolved with the web. We started blogging in May 2004 and have written thousands of posts on our official blog. Google now has over 70 official blogs, including an
official webmaster blog
specifically to help site owners understand how Google works and help them rank appropriately in our search results. Google publishes more blog posts than almost any other large company. We also provide
extensive public documentation
on our web site with advice for publishers,
As the head of Google's webspam team (which tries to stop attempts to violate our clearly documented, public
), people often ask me questions about how Google works. That's why I started
my own personal blog
in 2005 and have written hundreds of posts about Google. The topics range from
common web site mistakes
advice for new bloggers
. I've had the pleasure of speaking to web site owners or doing public web site reviews at over 30 different search conferences.
We've tried all sorts of experiments to help site owners understand how Google's search ranking works. We've done multiple
live webmaster chats
online with hundreds of simultaneous participants. We've experimented with
. We've participated in
. And here's one of my favorite ways we've helped to break out of the black box and give advice to publishers: in the past year, we've taken questions from the public and posted hundreds of video answers on a
webmaster video channel
. Those videos have been watched
over 1.5 million times
(!). We also engage online across the blogosphere to answer questions about Google's practices.
The list goes on and on. Google has reached out to other search engines on methods to make life easier for website owners. The resulting standards include
specifying preferred web site url formats
as well as
, an easy way for webmasters to tell search engines about the pages on their site. Google provides a webmaster forum where both Google employees and helpful outside "superusers" hang out and answer questions about specific sites. We've run in-person website clinics to provide specific one-on-one feedback and advice in locations from
to Russia to
virtual site clinics
in Spanish. We've even confirmed ranking signals that Google doesn't use in our algorithms, such as the
keywords meta tag
, which saves site owners from doing needless work and
helps avoid frivolous lawsuits
The frustrating thing is that even if all 20,000 employees at Google worked full-time on answering questions from website publishers, we still couldn't talk to every site owner. Why not? Because the web has over
192 million domain names registered
. That's why we introduced
Google Webmaster Tools
, a one-stop location to provide scalable, self-service information and to let webmasters provide us with data. Describing the powerful tools we provide to site owners for free would take an entire other blog post, but a number of the offerings include:
Site owners can get recommendations about issues like duplicate meta descriptions or missing title tags.
Site owners who we believe have violated our
and where Google has taken corresponding action regarding their site in our index can submit a
request for reconsideration
Site owners who have been hacked can get details about malware on their site. After they remove the hacked content, they can fetch pages from their site as Googlebot to make sure the malicious content is really gone.
Site owners can find out about errors that Google encountered while crawling their site.
A Google employee recently blogged about using these free, public tools to
diagnose an issue with his webhost
where he had exceeded his bandwidth quota. Millions of webmasters have taken similar advantage of Google's free tools for site owners to get helpful information about their site.
At Google, we try to be as open as we can, even to the point of helping users
export their data out of Google's products
. At the same time, we don't think it's unreasonable for any business to have some trade secrets, not least because we don’t want to help spammers and crackers game our system. If people who are trying to game search rankings knew every single detail about how we rank sites, it would be easier for them to 'spam' our results with pages that are not relevant and are frustrating to users -- including porn and malware sites.
Ultimately, criticising Google for its "secret formula" is an easy claim to make, but it just isn't true. Google has worked day after day for years to be open, to educate publishers about how we rank sites, and to answer questions from both publishers and our users. So if that's how people choose to define "secret," then ours must be the worst kept secret in the world of search.
Posted by Matt Cutts, Principal Engineer, Search Quality Team
Victoria lands 90 new innovation starters
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I'm thrilled to see a great initiative in Victoria. Premier John Brumby has announced that 90 new Victorian Government datasets have been released and set free for public access and consumption from
. That's 90 new ways to kick start innovation.
Premier Brumby has also launched
App My State
to encourage Victorians to use these 90 datasets to create new services to help Victorians. There are $100000 in prizes up for grabs, entries close on April 23rd.
At Google we're big believers that information is more powerful when it's set free. Much of the effort of the
Government 2.0 Taskforce
I took part in last year was put into making public sector information freely accessible to everyone. I firmly believe that there's no point keeping publicly funded, non-confidential public data (such as transit information, post box locations, recycling and waste collection information, public school catchment areas and countless others) locked up behind a Government firewall, of little use to anyone. I want to see this PSI freely available to all. It will promote great social benefits, not least the immense potential for innovative new products and services to be developed here. We saw some great mash ups come out of our
Posted by Alan Noble, Engineering Director Google Australia and New Zealand
Google Street View Trike on tour: Aussies choose their favourite destinations
Monday, March 1, 2010
We recently unveiled the Street View trike at
Taronga Zoo in Sydney
- soon you'll be able to take a tour of the zoo from your own lounge room. But where to go next in a country that offers so many beautiful locations off the beaten track? We knew there was no one better to ask than those who know our country best - you guys. We called on Australians to share with us their most inspired suggestions on what the trike should photograph for the rest of the world to see on Google Maps, and we've been overwhelmed by the response. More than 3,000 destinations across the country were
in the categories of City Life, Cultural Areas, Natural Wonders and Hidden Gems.
Last week, thousands of Aussies voted on which of their favourite off-road attractions they want the Google Street View Trike to capture for a special Street View imagery collection on Google Maps.
We're happy to announce the
for each State and Territory:
Parliament House and War Memorial, ACT
Valley of the Giants and Tree Top Walk, WA
Mount Lofty Botanic Garden, SA
Lord Howe Island, NSW
Melbourne CBD laneways, VIC
Port Arthur, TAS
Simpson Gap Bicycle Path, Alice Springs, NT
Hamilton Island QLD
Thank you to everyone who submitted ideas and voted in the Street View Special Collections Poll. From natural wonders like Hamilton Island to the Melbourne CBD Laneways, we feel proud to show-off to the world some of our most beautiful destinations that reflect our culture.
The trike will now embark on its national tour with a team of specially-selected Google riders, who have been in training to get their quads of steel in tip-top shape. We hope to add as many of these locations to Google Maps as we can over the next year.
Posted by Katharina Friedrich, marketing manager
agencies adwords TV
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