Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The New Blogger is Now Live

FYI, the new version of Blogger is now out of beta testing and officially live for everyone to use. Check it out!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Google Answers Bites the Dust

One of my favorite little "hidden secrets" in the Google empire has been shuttered. Google announced today that they're shutting down Google Answers, the service where a team of pros answered user questions for a fee. Google calls it a failed experiment, but my guess is that the company simply prefers easy automation over more complex human input. Farewell!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

New Google Page Creator Features

One of the least-known of Google's offerings is Google Page Creator. This is a web page creation tool and hosting community. You use Google Page Creator to create your web pages (no HTML required) and then host those pages, for free, on Google's site. Now Google Page Creator features an image editor for all the pictures you want to post, as well as the ability to create up to three different sites, each with its own * URL. In addition, all pages you create with Google Page Creator are now automatically converted for mobile use, so they'll be viewable from any mobile phone. It's a great alternative to GeoCities, AngelFire, and similar web hosting sites -- and, as with all things Google, it's completely free!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New Version of Google Desktop and Sidebar

Google has just released version 4.5 of Google Desktop. The big change in this version is an improved Sidebar, which is now transparent -- just like the sidebar in Yahoo! Widgets and Windows Vista. It looks much better on the desktop.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Google Acquires JotSpot

Google just announced that they've acquired JotSpot. If you've never heard of them, JotSpot does wikis, which facilitates the web-based creation and sharing of spreadsheets, calendars, photos, and other documents. It's all about web-based collaboration, which fits in with the "Google Office" ethos. Look for JotSpot to join the Google apps lineup sometime soon.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Blog Alerts

Just as Google has offered various types of Google search and news alerts, they're now offering Blog Alerts. This alerts you to new Blogger postings that conform to search parameters you've created. Set up your own blog alerts here.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

New Google Checkout Electronic Book

And here's yet another new Google-related Digital Short Cut electronic book. Choosing an Online Payment Service: Google Checkout vs. PayPal shows both buyers and sellers how to choose between and use the two competing online payment services. It's all you've wanted to know about Google Checkout -- how it works, how to implement it on your site, and how it compares with PayPal. You can purchase and download it (in PDF format) from Que Publishing for just $5.99. Click here for more info!

New Blogger Electronic Book

Now available, my latest Digital Short Cut electronic book: Blogging with the New Google Blogger. It covers the latest version of Blogger (still in beta), from A to Z. You can purchase and download it (in PDF format) from Que Publishing, for just $5.99. Click here for more info!

Google Custom Search Engine

Google has just released a new Google Custom Search Engine that you can put on your own website. This new search engine lets you customize the look and color of search results and links; specify a list of links and sites you definitely want included in the search index; and specify links and sites you don't want included in the index. The sites you specify can either be the only sites searched, or configured to have the highest priority in the custom search results. Learn more and start creating your own custom search engine here.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Google Docs and Spreadsheets

"Google Office" is here. Google has finally done the much-anticipated integration of the Writely word processor with the existing Google Spreadsheets online app. The new online office suite is called Google Docs and Spreadsheets, and it definitely competes with Microsoft Office. Writely itself, in addition to be renamed, sports a new Googleish interface, as well. Check it out here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Google Buys YouTube

You've probably heard the news already, but if not, here it is: Google is acquiring the video sharing site YouTube for $1.65 billion. That's a lot of money (to you and me, anyway; less so to Google), and not everyone thinks it's a smart thing. (Mark Cuban recently stated that anyone would be a "moron" to buy YouTube, based on the huge copyright infringement liability from users posted unlicensed videos.) Google, no doubt, thinks it's a good place to sell advertising (online video ads, in particular), since that's what Google is all about. In any case, it kind of makes Google Video redundant -- or maybe Google merges both the commercial and the home-made videos together into a single site. Be interesting to watch.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Google Code Search

Google Labs has just launched a new search service just for programmers. Google Code Search lets you search the Subversion and CVS code repositories for specific bits of programming code. As it's in the Labs, it's definitely in beta testing. But if you're a software developer, you probably want to check it out.

New Google Groups Beta

Google Groups has a new interface and a few new features -- although it's a beta version, with its own URL. The groups themselves have a cleaner interface, and group owners can more fully customize their own groups. Check it out!


Want to check out what kind of future search interface Google is currently testing? Then visit SearchMash, an "unbranded" site that offers some neat options on the search results page. Interesting stuff -- especially the fact that Google is trying to keep this one under the covers.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

New Content in Google Calendar

Google Calendar has added some new content that they call web content events. These are web-based general-content type modules, such as local weather forecasts, moon phases, and the like, that link to individual days in your calendar. To activate the weather forecast and other modules, just click the Settings link and fill in the appropriate blanks. It's a small but useful addition to the Google Calendar application.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

University Lectures on Google Video

Here's something neat. The University of California at Berkeley is using Google Video to deliver selected college courses. You can download and view more than 250 hours of lectures and symposia free of charge, via the university's own Google Video page. This is a great use of new Internet technology!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

New Picasa Features

Picasa is one of my favorite Google applications, and Google has just released a new, updated version of the photo-editing program. New features include:
  • Picasa Web Albums, for sharing photos with others over the web
  • Save feature for saving photo edits for use in other programs
  • Convert time-lapse photos into movies
  • Search photos by color
  • Create screensaver from photos
  • Integration with Google Earth, so you can tag your photos with location information or place your photos on a Google Earth map

Check it out!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

New Google Earth Content

Google has added a ton of new multimedia content to Google Earth. Go to the Featured Content folder in the Google Earth sidebar, and you'll see links to content from National Geographic magzine, the Discovery Network, the National Park Service, and other parties. It's fun and interesting stuff, and worth checking out. (You get the content automatically when you start up Google Earth; it's streamed to you live over the Internet.)

Friday, September 08, 2006

New Google Spreadsheet Features

Jonas at My Uninstalled Life posts that Google has added some new features to Google Spreadsheets. These features include:
  • Totally public spreadsheets, so anyone can view without an explicit invitation (as long as they have a Google Account, that is)
  • Simpler spreadsheet URLs (makes sharing easier)
  • You can obtain a list of people to invite from Gmail or Google Calendar
  • More cell formatting options
  • More currency formats
  • Ability to have more lines of text in each cell
  • Ability to merge cells on multiple rows at once
  • Ability to import larger file sizes
  • New print feature
  • PDF export
  • Support for Open Document Format (ODF)

And don't forget my Digital Shortcut electronic book, Using Google Spreadsheets, available for online purchase and download now!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Google News Archive Search

Google News has added a cool and useful new feature. Google News Archive Search lets you search more than 200 years of historical newspaper archives. When you do an archive search, links in the left-hand pane let you narrow your search by date or by publication. Resulting pages are either HTML or PDFs of scanned newpaper/magazine pages; some of the results are free, link to paid newspaper archives.

This is a great way to do historical research -- another great addition to the suite of search features offered by Google. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Google Stop Words

Reader Tams Bixby wrote in requesting a complete list of Google stop words -- those common little words, like "a" and "how," that Google automatically excises from all search queries. (You can force Google to search for stop words by putting a "+" in front of the word in your query, of course.)

Unfortunately, Google doesn't list all their stop words, so compiling such a comprehensive list is a hit or miss affair. That said, here's a site that attempts to list Google's default English stop words. Yeah, I know it's not a complete list, but at least it's a start -- and it has links to stop words in other languages, too.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Free Books from Google Book Search

Google is expanding Google Book Search to include the free downloading of complete books. These are older "classics" (Hamlet, Aesop's Fables, Dante's Inferno, and the like) that are presumably in the public domain -- that is, books whose copyrights have expired. The books are downloadable in PDF format, for reading on any PC. Just search for the book you want and then click the Full View option.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Google and eBay

Google and eBay just announced an advertising alliance between the two companies. Google is now responsible for selling ads on eBay outside the U.S. (Yahoo! has the assignment for eBay U.S.) The interesting thing about this announcement is the emphasis on integrating "click-to-call" technology (from eBay's Skype unit) with Google web advertisements. Interested users will be able to click on a Google ad and immediately be connected to the advertiser, via Google Talk and Skype.

I'm not hip on this whole click-to-call thing. I'm not sure too many consumers will want to talk directly to advertisers, and I'm less sure that many advertisers will want to spend the money to staff a 24/7 call center to handle these click-to-call communications. While there are apparently some market segments where this might make sense (mortgage brokers seem to be keen on the idea), I think this is yet another attempt by eBay to justify its ill-thought-out acquisition of Skype. (eBay has already added click-to-call as an option in its online auctions; sellers are not flocking to embrace it.)

In any case, this is more confirmation that Google is really in the advertising business, not the search business. It's all about the ad dollars, folks.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Google Apps for the Corporation

It was bound to happen. Google is now bundling a suite of applications for corporate use. While this isn't an office suite per se -- and certainly doesn't compete directly with Microsoft Office -- it's still a foray into the corporate world.

The new suite is called Google Apps for Your Domain, and is centered around Gmail; an organization gets to give every user in its domain a Gmail address. Other applications in the suite (all web-based) include Google Calendar, Google Talk, and Google Panel (to manage user accounts, mailing lists, and the like).

Google Apps for Your Domain (AKA Gmail for Your Domain) is currently available as a limited beta test. Click here to learn more and potentially sign up.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Google Sitemaps and Webmaster Central

If you read that particular chapter in Googlepedia, you know that one of the ways to enhance your search ranking with Google is to create a sitemap for your site. Well, don't freak out, but Google Sitemaps is no more. It isn't gone, however; Google has just integrated it into a new set of Google Webmaster Tools. The Sitemaps protocol still works just like it did before, it's just under a new name.

The name change is part of a new site initiative that Google calls Google Webmaster Central. This new site is a one-stop-shop for webmasters trying to optimize their sites for the Google search engine, and includes site submission tools, a site status wizard (so you can find out if site is currently indexed by Google), a discussion group and blog for webmasters, a webmaster help center, and the aforementioned Webmaster Tools, of which Sitemaps is just one of several. If you run your own website, this new Webmaster Central is definitely worth checking out.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Google Video

Google recently revamped their main page to include a link to Google Video, right alongside the Images, News, and Maps links. Clicking the Video link takes you directly to the Google Video page, where you can search for and download a variety of different videos, both paid and free.

The change to the main page is a big deal; Google doesn't often muck with perfection. To their credit, the change is minor -- what's one more link at the top, more or less?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Googlepedia in the News

Googlepedia was featured in an article in the Wilmington (Delaware) News Journal. Here's the article online:

Getting the most from the Web’s most-used search engine

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Google Spreadsheets

One new Google feature barely covered in Googlepedia is Google Spreadsheets. That's because Google Spreadsheets launched the same week the book was supposed to go to the printer; I was able to insert a few paragraphs at the last minute, but timing was against us.

That's one reason why I recently wrote a Digital Shortcut "electronic book" for Que Publishing, titled Using Google Spreadsheets. This is a 50 pp. book in PDF format that you can purchase and download online. It covers everything there is to know about Google Spreadsheets, from basic operation to advanced formatting and functions, and everything in-between. You'll also learn how to import your existing Excel spreadsheets into Google Spreadsheets, and share your spreadsheets and collaborate online with others. There's even a comprehensive Google Spreadsheets function reference, essential for all advanced spreadsheet creators.

Here's the complete table of contents for the e-book:
  • Introducing Google Spreadsheets
  • Migrating from Excel to Google Spreadsheets
  • Navigating the Google Spreadsheets Workspace
  • Creating, Opening, and Saving Google Spreadsheets
  • Entering and Editing Data
  • Working with Ranges
  • Sorting Data
  • Inserting, Deleting, Moving, and Copying Data
  • Changing Column Width and Row Height
  • Formatting Google Spreadsheets
  • Entering and Editing Formulas
  • Using Functions
  • Working with Multiple Sheets
  • Printing Google Spreadsheets
  • Sharing and Collaborating with Google Spreadsheets
  • A Final Word
Click here to read more, or to purchase and download the e-book. The price is right, at just $4.99.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The New Blogger

If you're reading this blog, one of the most obvious changes to Google since the publication of Googlepedia is the beta launch of the new Blogger. (I wish Google would give it a name, like Blogger 2.0 or something, rather than forcing everyone to call it the "new Blogger.")

The new Blogger has several nice new features, most of which have to do with personalization. You can choose from a variety of new templates, as well as modify the font and color choices via an an easy-to-use color picker (that modifies the accompanying CSS template). There are also a ton of items you can add to the basic template, including pictures, links, and lists. And you can move everything around on the page simply by dragging modules around on a template-builder grid.

Behind-the-scenes, the new Blogger is built on a completely new platform. This removes the old need to republish your entire blog after any template change; changes are immediate, with no "republishing lag." Plus the new spell checker is actually usable. (Yay!)

The only drawback to the new Blogger is that it's still in limited release. You can't yet move your existing blog to the new platform; for the time being, the only way to see the new Blogger is to create a new blog with a new user name. Google promises to make the new platform to existing bloggers at some point in time, however, so hold on tight -- it's coming!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Googlepedia is Number-One!

Great news -- Googlepedia was the #1 book in the computer category at Barnes & Noble for the week ending August 12th. Thanks to all my readers for giving me my first number-one book!

Welcome to Googlepedia: The Blog

Welcome! I'm author Michael Miller, and this blog is in support of my book Googlepedia: The Ultimate Google Resource. Look here for regular updates to the book and coverage of new Google features!