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(Cross-posted from Blogger Buzz)

As you may have heard, things are starting to look a little different across many Google products—and today, Blogger is the next product to get a makeover.

It’s been a few years since we made major updates to Blogger’s look and feel, and there’s a lot more to these changes than just shiny new graphics. We’ve rewritten the entire editing and management experience from scratch so it’s faster and more efficient for you—and easier for us to update and improve over time.

Throughout the design process, we conducted user interviews to help identify how to make Blogger even easier and more enjoyable to use. We also watched users try our new interface and made many refinements based on their feedback.

A streamlined blogging experience
Whether you’re on a dashboard or settings page of blogger.com, you can always create or edit posts with just one click at the top of the screen. Additionally, the post editor has been expanded and simplified to give you a larger canvas for drafting and previewing your work.


Monitor and grow your audience at a glance
In the new “Overview” section of your dashboard, you’ll be able to quickly get a pulse for how people are reacting to your blog with a graph of your most recent traffic numbers, comment activity and follower counts. For extra guidance and inspiration, you’ll also find a list of helpful links, a feed of Blogger updates and a showcase of other blogs you may find interesting.


Opt in now
Starting today, we’ll gradually let all bloggers choose to turn on the new UI, so your Blogger experience won’t be updated until you enable it. Over the next few days, keep an eye out for a pop-up announcement on your dashboard with instructions on how to get started, and check out this Blogger Help Center page to learn more about what’s changed.

If you have suggestions or feedback about the new look, click the gear icon in the top right of the navigation bar and select “Send Feedback.”

We’re working hard to fundamentally revamp and improve the Blogger experience from the ground up, and we hope you enjoy the first in a series of major updates that are on their way in the coming months.

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This is the third in a short series of posts and videos spotlighting our efforts to make Google greener. In this post, we give you a glimpse at how our transportation programs help Googlers get to work while leaving their cars at home. -Ed.

Commuting to work without driving, meeting with someone on another continent without flying and riding cars without gasoline? It’s not a futuristic dream, but a way of life at Google. We support and encourage carbon-free commuting because it’s a vital part of our longstanding commitment to sustainability.

We help take cars off of the road—not quite like the Hulk, but we are green. Back in 2004, one motivated Googler started a vanpool that ran from San Francisco to Mountain View as a 20 percent project. As demand grew, the program morphed into what is now one of the largest corporate shuttle services in the country. Today, up to a third of employees ride the GBus shuttles throughout our Bay Area offices five days a week—that’s more than 3,500 daily riders, or 7,000 one-way car trips avoided each day.



Beyond the convenience and comfort that our shuttle rides offer—of which I’m reminded during my daily 35-mile commute from Alameda to Mountain View—they’re also environmentally friendly. Our shuttles have the cleanest diesel engines ever built and run on 5 percent bio-diesel, so they’re partly powered by renewable resources that help reduce our carbon footprint. In fact, we’re the first and largest company with a corporate transportation fleet using engines that meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 emission standards.

Not only do we encourage self-powered commuting, we reward it. Googlers earn credits each time they get to work via alternative (non-engine) means—by bike, foot, skateboard or kayak. These credits are then translated into a dollar amount that gets donated—$100 for every 20 days of participation—to the Googler’s charity of choice. This year, 56 offices also participated in “Bike to Work Day,” with more than 2,500 Googlers who biked to work worldwide. The annual celebration is meant to reward daily cyclists as well as introduce many new riders to biking.

The green life doesn’t stop once Googlers get to work. In Mountain View, our GBike system distributes about 1,000 bikes across the campus that Googlers can pick up whenever they have to get to another building. For longer distances and off-campus trips, we have the GFleet, our electric vehicle car share program, and our on-campus taxi service GRide. We're also installing hundreds of electric vehicle charging stations throughout several of our offices, making it easy for Googlers to charge up their own electric cars for free at work. If Googlers need to chat with their colleagues in other cities or continents they can use video conferencing technology, which cuts down on potential air travel.

In total, the combination of the GFleet and our shuttles result in net annual savings of more than 5,400 metric tons of CO2. That's like taking over 2,000 cars off the road every day, or avoiding 14 million vehicle miles every year. With the help of Googlers, we’ll continue powering the wheels of sustainable transit innovation.

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(Cross-posted from the Google.org Blog)

In many ways, the arrival of Hurricane Irene last week drove home the importance of National Preparedness Month, an effort from the FEMA Ready campaign to encourage Americans to take steps to prepare for emergencies throughout the year. With people relying on the Internet worldwide, it’s not surprising that Google search data and a recently released American Red Cross survey show that people turn to online resources and tools for information and communication during major crises. First responders, who provide services in the aftermath of disasters, are also finding Internet and cloud-based tools and information useful—for improving their understanding of a situation, collaborating with each other and communicating with the public.

Today, in preparation for September’s National Preparedness Month, our Crisis Response team is introducing a new Google Crisis Preparedness website with information and educational tools on using technology to prepare for crises. On the site, you can see how individuals and organizations have used technology during crises in the past, including how two girls located their grandfather after the Japan earthquake and tsunami in March of this year and how Americorps tracked volunteers during the tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri in May of this year. There’s a section for responders with information on using Google tools in crises, such as collaborating efficiently using Google Docs, Spreadsheets and Sites, visualizing the disaster-related information with Google My Maps and Google Earth, and more.



Also, you can access a new public preparedness web resource launching today: Get Tech Ready, developed as a collaboration between FEMA, the American Red Cross, the Ad Council and Google Crisis Response. There, you’ll find tips on using technology to prepare for, adapt to and recover from disasters, for example:
  • Learn how to send updates via text and internet from your mobile phone in case voice communications are not available
  • Store your important documents in the cloud so they can be accessed from anywhere or in a secure and remote area such as a flash or jump drive that you can keep readily available
  • Create an Emergency Information Document using this Ready.gov Emergency Plan Google Docs Template, or by downloading it to record and share your emergency plans and access them from anywhere
We encourage you to take a moment now to see how simple, easy-to-use and readily-available technology tools can help you prepare for a crisis. You’ll be more comfortable using these tools in the event of a disaster if you’ve already tried them out—and even integrated them into your daily life.

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(Cross-posted from the Gmail Blog)

We understand that it’s not always easy or affordable for our troops serving overseas to call friends and family at home, so starting today we’re making it completely free for all uniformed military personnel with valid United States Military (.mil) email addresses to call the United States, right from Gmail.

There are two easy steps to enable free calling from Gmail (detailed instructions):
  1. Add your valid .mil email address to your Google Account
  2. Click on the Call phone link at the top of the Gmail chat roster and install the voice and video Gmail plugin if you haven’t already.


And don’t forget that for friends and family at home in the U.S., calling troops abroad is as little as $.02/minute

Similar to free calling within the U.S., free calling to the U.S. for service members will be available for at least the rest of 2011. 

We recognize and appreciate the sacrifices U.S. troops make when they serve abroad, and we’re proud to help make it a little bit easier for them to stay connected and hear a familiar voice.

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With her vocal talent and songwriting skills, Taylor Swift has won four Grammys, six CMT Music Awards, 13 Teen Choice Awards, the Academy of Country Music’s Entertainer of the Year award—and a tremendous following of loyal fans. Now, she’s taking questions from you on YouTube.



Starting today and until 12 p.m. PT on August 31, you can submit written or video queries on Taylor Swift’s channel, and vote on your favorites. She’ll answer the most popular ones as part of our YouTube Presents program.

Visit the YouTube blog for more info, and keep an eye on the YouTube homepage to see Taylor’s Q&A as soon as it’s uploaded.

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(Cross-posted on the Inside Search blog and the Public Policy blog)

Over the past few years, we’ve released a series of blog posts to share the methodology and process behind our search ranking, evaluation and algorithmic changes. Just last month, Ben Gomes, Matt Cutts and I participated in a Churchill Club event where we discussed how search works and where we believe it’s headed in the future.

Beyond our talk and various blog posts, we wanted to give people an even deeper look inside search, so we put together a short video that gives you a sense of the work that goes into the changes and improvements we make to Google almost every day. While an improvement to the algorithm may start with a creative idea, it always goes through a process of rigorous scientific testing. Simply put: if the data from our experiments doesn’t show that we’re helping users, we won’t launch the change.



In the world of search, we’re always striving to deliver the answers you’re looking for. After all, we know you have a choice of a search engine every time you open a browser. As the Internet becomes bigger, richer and more interactive it means that we have to work that much harder to ensure we’re unearthing and displaying the best results for you.

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This is the second in a short series of posts and videos spotlighting our efforts to make Google greener. In this post, we give you a glimpse at our sustainable food programs. -Ed.

When it comes to eating sustainably, it’s about more than being organic, grass-fed or cage-free. Through our food program, we delight and support Googlers as well as uphold our company’s health and environmental values. And it’s a job we relish, because food is such a defining part of our unique culture. Our cafes and microkitchens help spark greater innovation and collaboration, allowing different teams to come together to share ideas, problem-solve or just get to know each other better over lunch or a mid-morning snack.

As part of Google’s Food Team, we serve roughly 50,000 healthy and delicious meals every day at nearly 100 cafes around the world—and strive to apply sustainable food principles to all the cafes we operate. We aim to source food that’s as local, seasonal and organic as possible. This helps us prevent artificial additives, pesticides and hormones from entering Google’s food supply—whether that means sourcing our eggs from cage-free chickens or using steroid- and antibiotic-free poultry. It’s fresher, and it tastes better!



Through Google’s Green Seafood Policy, we’ve established guidelines to help ensure that (whenever and wherever possible) we purchase species caught locally from independently managed fisheries that use environmentally responsible catch practices. At our Mountain View headquarters, where we benefit from our proximity to the ocean and local agriculture, we’ve been able to establish close relationships with several local, independent farmers and fishermen. We see firsthand how they raise and harvest their stock, and what sustainable catch methods they use. Much of our Mountain View produce (nearly half of which is organic) comes from farms in California, and our seafood comes from within 200 miles. Many of our campuses also have edible gardens that empower green-thumbed Googlers to grow herbs for their own cooking.

Because optimal eating habits extend beyond the walls of our offices, we’re committed to helping Googlers make the most informed choices possible as part of a healthy lifestyle. We want to not only become the healthiest workforce, but also make it easier for employees to take Google’s sustainable food values home to share with friends and family. Many of our offices in the U.S. offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs where Googlers can buy fresh, seasonal produce directly from local farms that’s delivered right to campus. In Mountain View, we also recently launched the Google Green Grocer program, where Googlers can order the same high-quality, sustainably sourced seafood, meat and eggs they already enjoy in our cafes, while supporting local community fisheries and farms.

We also pay very close attention to how we manage and reduce waste from our food program. Most employees use non-disposable dishware, and all of our grab-and-go containers are compostable. We have recycling and composting bins throughout many of our offices worldwide, and 20 percent of food waste from our cafes is recycled. In fact, organic food waste from our cafes in Europe, the Middle East and Africa is recycled to help produce bio-diesel or electricity. In some of our U.S. offices, any untouched, edible food is donated to local shelters, and the rest is put to use as compost.

Through our our cafes, microkitchens, edible gardens and community-supported food programs, we’re connecting Googlers to sustainable values on a daily basis. The more we care about what happens to the food on our plates and where it comes from, the more it can improve our health, our local economies and the environment.

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In June we launched the +1 button for websites, making it easier to recommend content across the web. In July, the +1 button crossed 2 billion daily views, and we also made it a lot faster. Today the +1 button appears on more than a million sites, with over 4 billion daily views, and we're extremely excited about this momentum.

It's just the beginning, however, and today we're launching two more features that make +1 buttons more useful for users and publishers alike.

Sharing with your circles on Google+
Clicking the +1 button is a great way to highlight content for others when they search on Google. But sometimes you want to start a conversation right away—at least with certain groups of friends. So beginning today, we're making it easy for Google+ users to share webpages with their circles, directly from the +1 button. Just +1 a page as usual and look for the new "Share on Google+" option. From there you can comment, choose a circle and share.


The new +1 button on Rotten Tomatoes

+Snippets
When you share content from the +1 button, you’ll notice that we automatically include a link, an image and a description in the sharebox. We call these "+snippets," and they're a great way to jumpstart conversations with the people you care about.

Of course: publishers can benefit from +snippets as well. With just a few changes to their webpages, publishers can actually customize their +snippets and encourage more sharing of their content on Google+. More details are available on the Google Webmaster blog.



We're rolling out sharing and +snippets globally over the next week, but if you’d like to try the new +1 button now, you can join our Google+ Platform Preview. Once you're part of the Preview, just visit a site with the +1 button (like Rotten Tomatoes) and +1 the page. Thanks for all of your feedback so far, and stay tuned for more features in the weeks and months ahead!

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(Cross-posted from the Lat Long Blog)

I'm from Barcelona, and once a year I go to Costa Brava on the Mediterranean with my friends to enjoy good food and nice weather. I always carry my camera with me to capture the beach when the light is just right, take photos of my favorite meals or document my latest hike. When I get home, I upload my photos to Panoramio and position them on the map. Pictures uploaded to Panoramio can be featured in the “Photos” layer of Google Earth and Google Maps, which means that I can share my travel experiences with others and, in return, explore places around the world through the eyes of other photographers.

Starting today, you can share your passions through photographs more collaboratively with Panoramio Groups. This new feature lets you create a sub-community within Panoramio around a topic you’re passionate about, so you can easily engage with like-minded photographers and hobbyists.

Panoramio is an online community of people that share and explore photos of the world.

For example, in my trips around the world, I always take the time to enjoy the local cuisine, like Costa Brava’s arròs negre. So I created a group called “Food,” to give others a "taste" of that region and get a glimpse of what fellow foodies are feasting on. My fellow group members—and by all means I hope you’ll become one of them!—can add their own photos, browse others' and get culinary and travel inspiration.

Panoramio Groups allow members to share photos and start discussions on a given topic.

To share your own interests and passions through photos, hop over to Panoramio and create your own group or join an existing one from the Groups Directory. You can show off your photos of your favorite restaurant, the most beautiful sunset you’ve seen, the latest lighthouse you’ve visited, or the cutest dog from each continent. Whatever it is, try starting a discussion about your favorite topics and share what matters to you with others.

Visit www.panoramio.com/groups to get started. We hope you enjoy this new addition to Panoramio—let us know what you think in the Panoramio Forum!

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These days, we rely on the Internet to keep us informed and in touch, yet our experience of the web is filtered through the tools we use to access it. The devices and technologies we choose, and our decisions about when we upgrade those tools, can affect how we interact with the web and with whom we are able to communicate.

In July, I attended the annual conference held by the American Council of the Blind (ACB). I was struck by something I heard from people there: their experience using the web was very different from mine not because they were blind, but because the technology and web tools available to them were unlike the ones available to me, as a sighted person. While the Internet provides many benefits to modern society, it has also created a unique set of challenges for blind and low-vision users who rely on assistive technologies to use the web. We’re committed to making Google’s products more accessible, and we believe the best way to understand the accessibility needs of our users is to listen to them.

This week, we’re announcing a survey that will help us better understand computer usage and assistive technology patterns in the blind community. Over the past three months, we’ve worked closely with the ACB to develop a survey that would give us a greater understanding of how people choose and learn about the assistive technologies they use. This survey will help us design products and tools that interact more effectively with assistive technologies currently available to the blind community, as well as improve our ability to educate users about new features in our own assistive technologies, such as ChromeVox and TalkBack.

The survey will be available through mid-September on the ACB's website and by phone. We encourage anyone with a visual impairment who relies on assistive technologies to participate; your input will help us offer products that can better suit your needs. For details, visit www.acb.org/googlesurvey.

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Lie down and remember that dream you had about something that seemed impossible—now imagine waking up and looking around to realize you were never sleeping. From strawberry funnel cakes to five-story cruise ships and hangouts with Larry Page, my summer of Building Opportunities in Leadership and Development (BOLD)—a Google summer internship program—never looked, tasted or sailed so well. Every day this summer I’ve jumped out of bed and into my real-life dream, working on products that I believe will change the world and contributing to a melting pot of proactive teamwork.

BOLD, one of Google’s student and diversity initiatives, brought 100+ undergraduates from all over the U.S. to Google in 2011. The program began in 2008 as a way to expose historically underrepresented students to the technology field. Whether it be sharing tofu with co-founder Sergey Brin or rubbing elbows with some of the world’s brightest minds at the Google Science Fair, Google interns worldwide have collected a plethora of unforgettable moments.

Being an intern here is much more than making coffee and photocopies. As one of Google’s largest sources of full-time hires, internship programs contribute to the company’s diversity, culture and future. Sure, I’ve made a few coffees during my internship—caramel mocha cappuccinos to be exact, from the espresso machine in the microkitchen. But my summer at the Googleplex was a packed, 11-week adventure within the Global Communications & Public Affairs apps and enterprise team. My projects ranged from working with my manager on the Google+ Project launch to staffing press at the inaugural Google Science Fair. Other BOLDers worked on major products like Android and YouTube, and even launched newbies, like Games in Google+. We attended weekly workshops, talks about technology and skill-building seminars led by company leaders like director of online sales and operations Stacy Brown-Philpot and chief legal officer David Drummond.

I was even able to scratch my creative itch for event coordinating and community service. On my second day at Google, I painted hallways alongside my team for a community GoogleServe project at middle school in San Francisco. Soon after, I coordinated a weekly intern discussion series with a few amazing mentors from the Black Googlers Network.

To share a few other perspectives beyond my own, I caught up with Brandon Jackson and Eoin Hayes from the BOLD and Online Media Associate Program (OMAP) bunch. I asked them to share a few of their experiences this summer:

  • Brandon, a two-time BOLD participant and rising senior at Stanford, worked with the technology human relations team, focusing on transitioning new Googlers to the company. He told me: “BOLD represents family. The program coordinators find some of the brightest, most intellectually curious and warm hearted students in the world. Coupled with inspiring mentors and an incredible university programs team, BOLD is a community that never stops looking out for each other.”
  • Eoin, a master’s student at London Business School who worked with the OMAP AdSense team in Dublin, said he not only gained deep product knowledge during his internship, but also leadership and management skills. A highlight was his visit to Google’s headquarters with four other international interns.

Eoin with other European and U.S. interns at a Googleplex TGIF

Although my internship officially ends today, my professional development is just beginning. I have a new perspective on life and career options after college, like having had a refreshing sip of “Googlemonade” in the Sahara of post-college stress. As a senior this year, I’ll be serving as UC Merced’s first Google Student Ambassador and I can’t wait to connect my college to all of Google’s collaborative learning resources and leadership opportunities.

Me (with the purple pants) & fellow BOLDers on the 80s-themed intern boat cruise around the San Francisco Bay

This summer was an unforgettable cruise and I will never forget those who set sail with me. If you’re interested in student opportunities at Google, visit the Student blog.

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Across the United States, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) provide educational homes for hundreds of thousands of African-American students. Small and community-focused, usually with fewer than 5,000 students, privately or publicly funded, and far-reaching in curriculum and tradition, these communities share a proud history of addressing educational equality and preparing many of the nation’s minority students for whatever life opportunities they seek.

Last week, at our annual HBCU Faculty Summit in our New York City office, we had the chance to host more than 50 professors and administrators from 16 HBCUs across the country. The 2011 summit had three themes: infrastructure, curriculum and partnership. We were pleased to lead thoughtful conversations around these themes and discuss the benefits Google Apps can bring to a campus. The summit also provided a unique opportunity for representatives from different HBCUs to come together and learn from one another. Click here to view photos from the Faculty Summit.

On the first day of the summit, nine HBCUs announced their decision to switch to Google Apps for Education. These schools included:
These schools joined another 13 HBCUs already using Google Apps, meaning that more than 100,000 HBCU students and faculty will have access to Google’s collaboration tools in the 2011-2012 school year.

Like all universities, HBCUs rely on technology like Apps to facilitate communication, collaboration and connectedness among their students, staff and alumni. To learn more about HBCUs turning to Google Apps to transform campus technology while cutting costs, read this white paper and today’s Enterprise Blog post about North Carolina A&T going Google. If you’re an administrator or ambassador at an HBCU and would like to go Google, visit the Google Apps for Education website and click on “Get Apps today.”

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(Cross-posted on the LatLong blog)

Whether you’re organizing a trip overseas or a picnic at a local park, knowing the weather forecast is a crucial part of the planning process. Today, we’re adding a weather layer on Google Maps that displays current temps and conditions around the globe, and will hopefully make travel and activity planning easier.



To add the weather layer, hover over the widget in the upper right corner of Google Maps and select the weather layer from the list of options. When zoomed out, you’ll see a map with current weather conditions from weather.com for various locations, with icons to denote sun, clouds, rain and so on. You can also see cloud coverage, thanks to our partners at the U.S. Naval Research Lab. And, if you look closely, you can also tell if it’s day or night around the world by sun and moon icons.

Enabling the weather layer also gives you an instant weather report for friends and family living around the world. For example, it looks like my family in London isn’t experiencing the best summer weather right now:

Weather near London, UK

Clicking on the weather icon for a particular city will open an info window with detailed data like current humidity and wind conditions, as well as a forecast for the next four days. Below is the upcoming forecast for my location in wintertime Sydney, which seems to have the similar weather as London!

Weather near Sydney, Australia in satellite view

Changing the units of wind speed (Mph/KMph/Mps) and temperature (F/C), and enabling or disabling the clouds (when you’re zoomed out), can also be done from the left-hand panel.

Weather left hand panel

Get started now and check out the weather layer here.

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Three months ago at Google I/O we launched Music Beta, a service that lets you upload your personal music collection to the cloud and listen to it on the web or your Android phone or tablet. Since the beginning, our goal has been to help you fall in love with your music all over again, and now we’re taking that idea one step further.

Today we introduced Magnifier, a new music discovery site that will keep your collection growing. Magnifier will feature great music and the people who make it, including videos of live performances, interviews with artists, explorations of different musical genres and free songs that you can add to your Music Beta collection.

The featured artist on Magnifier this week is Grammy-nominated indie rock band My Morning Jacket. We’re giving away two of their tracks to Music Beta users, one of which is an exclusive to Magnifier: a live performance of “The Day is Coming.” To get these free tracks and hundreds of other songs in our Free Song Archive, you need a Music Beta by Google account (if you don’t have an account, request an invitation). Head over to Magnifier, find the songs you want, click on the “Add free music” buttons and the tracks will be instantly added to your library in Music Beta.



Stop by Magnifier regularly to get the free Song of the Day and reignite your passion for music.

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With Google Street View, you can do amazing things such as hike around Stonehenge or even ski down Whistler’s slopes—all without leaving home. Soon, you’ll be able to float down the Amazon and Rio Negro Rivers of northwest Brazil and experience some of the most remote and biodiverse areas in the world.
A few members of our Brazil and U.S. Street View and Google Earth Outreach teams are currently in the Amazon rainforest using our Street View technology to capture images of the river, surrounding forests and adjacent river communities. In partnership with the Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS), the local non-profit conservation organization that invited us to the area, we’re training some of FAS’s representatives on the imagery collection process and leaving some of our equipment behind for them to continue the work. By teaching locals how to operate these tools, they can continue sharing their points of view, culture and ways of life with audiences across the globe.

We’ll pedal the Street View trike along the narrow dirt paths of the Amazon villages and maneuver it up close to where civilization meets the rainforest. We’ll also mount it onto a boat to take photographs as the boat floats down the river. The tripod—which is the same system we use to capture imagery of business interiors—will also be used to give you a sense of what it’s like to live and work in places such as an Amazonian community center and school.


Image of the Tumbira community in the Rio Negro Sustainable Development Reserve

In this first phase of the project, the Google and FAS teams will visit and capture imagery from a 50km section of the Rio Negro River, extending from the Tumbira community near Manaus—the capital of the state of Amazonas—to the Terra Preta community. We’ll then process the imagery of the river and the communities as usual, stitching the still photos into 360-degree panoramics.


Image of the Tumbira Community

For many outdoor enthusiasts, travelers and environmentalists, this creates an opportunity to experience the wonders of the Amazon, which will be accessible in a way they’d previously only dreamed about. We’re honored to work with FAS on this project to bring the Amazon online for those who can’t visit in person, and help our partners share with the world the unique stories of its inhabitants and the beauty of this place they call home.


View Larger Map


Click the above album for more photos of our team's work in the Amazon, and the communities with which they're working.

Update 8/18/11: We've added a photo album to this post.

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(Cross-posted on the Green blog)

This is the first in a short series of posts and videos spotlighting our efforts to make Google greener. In this post, we give you a glimpse at our green buildings. -Ed.

When it comes to greening our office buildings, we apply the same focus that we use for any of our products: put the user first. We want to create the healthiest work environments possible where Googlers can thrive and innovate. From concept through design, construction and operations, we create buildings that function like living and breathing systems by optimizing access to nature, clean air and daylight.



Since I arrived at Google in 2006, I’ve been part of a team working to create life-sustaining buildings that support the health and productivity of Googlers. We avoid materials that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other known toxins that may harm human health, so Googlers don’t have to worry about the air they’re breathing or the toxicity of the furniture, carpet or other materials in their workspaces. We also use dual stage air filtration systems to eliminate particulates and remaining VOCs, which further improves indoor air quality.

Since building materials don’t have ingredient labels, we’re pushing the industry to adopt product transparency practices that will lead to real market transformation. In North America, we purchase materials free of the Living Building Challenge Red List Materials and EPA Chemicals of Concern, and through the Pharos Project we ask our suppliers to meet strict transparency requirements.

We also strive to shrink our environmental footprint by investing in the most efficient heating, cooling and lighting systems. Throughout many of our offices, we’ve performed energy and water audits and implemented conservation measures to develop best practices that are applied to our offices worldwide. To the extent possible, we seek out renewable sources for the energy that we do use. One of the earliest projects I worked on at Google involved installing the first solar panels on campus back in 2007. They have the capacity to produce 1.6 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity for us, which supplies about 30 percent of our peak energy use on the buildings they cover.

With a little healthy competition, we’ve gotten Google’s offices around the world involved in greening our operations. Our internal Sustainable Pursuit program allows teams to earn points based on their office’s green performance—whether it’s through green cleaning programs, water efficiency or innovative waste management strategies. We use Google Apps to help us track progress toward our goals—which meet or exceed the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED standards—and share what we’ve learned among our global facilities teams.

We’re proud of our latest LEED Platinum achievement for the interior renovation of an office building at the Googleplex. While we have other LEED Platinum buildings in our portfolio, it’s a first for our headquarters and a first for the City of Mountain View. The interior renovation was designed by Boora Architects and built by XL Construction, using healthy building materials and practices. In fact, we now have more than 4.5 million square feet of building space around the world on deck to earn LEED Certification.

Looking ahead, our team will have many more opportunities to redefine how we green our buildings and workspaces. It’s a win for Googlers, our business and the environment.

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(Cross-posted on the Inside Search blog)

When you’re searching, you often have a specific task in mind, like figuring out which exhibits are showing at a nearby museum. Despite this narrow goal, people often start with a broad query, like [metropolitan museum of art], with no mention of exhibits. For these searches, the first result may include a list of links to specific sections of the site, which are called “sitelinks.” Today, we’re launching several improvements to sitelinks, including the way they look and are organized in search results.

Sitelinks before today’s changes

Sitelinks have been around for a while, but when we first launched them years ago, they were much more limited—a single row of just four links:


It turns out that sitelinks are quite useful because they can help predict which sections of the site you want to visit. Even if you didn’t specify your task in the query, sitelinks help you quickly navigate to the most relevant part of the site, which is particularly handy for large and complex websites. Sitelinks can also give you a good overview of a website's content, and let webmasters expose areas of the site that visitors may not know about.

As it became clear how valuable sitelinks were, we continued to improve their appearance and quality. We rearranged them into a column of links to make them easier to read. We doubled the number of links, creating direct access to more of the site. We started showing sitelinks for more results and we continuously made improvements to the algorithms that generate and rank the links. With each of these changes, people used sitelinks more and more.

That brings us to today’s launch. Sitelinks will now be full-size links with a URL and one line of snippet text—similar to regular results—making it even easier to find the section of the site you want. We’re also increasing the maximum number of sitelinks per query from eight to 12.

Improved sitelinks with URLs and snippet text

In addition, we’re making a significant improvement to our algorithms by combining sitelink ranking with regular result ranking to yield a higher-quality list of links. This reduces link duplication and creates a better organized search results page. Now, all results from the top-ranked site will be nested within the first result as sitelinks, and all results from other sites will appear below them. The number of sitelinks will also vary based on your query—for example, [museum of art nyc] shows more sitelinks than [the met] because we’re more certain you want results from www.metmuseum.org.

These changes will be rolling out globally over the next few days in all supported languages to anyone using a modern browser, such as Chrome, Firefox or IE 7 and above. We hope these changes make it easier and faster for you to reach the information you need.

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(Cross-posted on the Inside Search blog and the Chrome blog)

Almost every time I go online, I come across some new topic or item that I’d like to learn more about. Sometimes it’s as simple as the latest buzz on the new shop down the street. Other times it’s something more significant, like a counterpoint to an opinion piece I’m reading. While the answer can be just a simple search away, we wanted to find a way to get some of those answers to you even faster. Now with Google Related, a new Chrome Extension and Google Toolbar feature, you’ll automatically see interesting content relevant to what’s on the page you’re viewing, right where you’re viewing it.



Whether you’re reading a news article, shopping for a new pair of shoes or visiting your favorite musician’s website, Google Related works in the background to find you the most interesting and relevant content on the topics you’re currently viewing. For example, if you visit a restaurant’s website, Related can show you a map, reviews from Google Places, mentions from across the web and other similar eateries that you might want to try.


Results will display in a thin bar at the bottom of your screen, and will remain minimized until you hover over them with your mouse. Once selected, they'll open up immediately in your browser window, saving you the trouble of having to open multiple new windows or tabs. If Google Related shows you something you’re interested in, you can let others know using the built-in +1 button.

In order to offer you relevant suggestions, Related sends the URL and other available information about the pages you visit back to Google. If you’re interested in how that data is used and stored, you can learn more here and here.

If you decide you’d rather not see the Related bar, you can easily hide it for specific pages and sites through the Options menu. If you use Related as part of Google Toolbar, you can disable Related entirely through the Options menu as well.

Google Related is available both as a Chrome Extension in the Chrome Web Store and as a new feature in Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer. Visit www.google.com/related to learn more and to get Google Related today.

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(Cross-posted on the Commerce and Mobile blogs)

For years, shoppers have enjoyed flipping through glossy print catalogs to be inspired, discover new trends and find great products. Today, mobile technologies can make catalog shopping more engaging, social and creative. With that in mind, we’ve created Google Catalogs—a free app for tablet devices that enables you to browse all of your favorite catalogs and interact with new layers of rich-media content.

The Google Catalogs app features digital versions of catalogs across many popular categories, including fashion and apparel, beauty, jewelry, home, kids and gifts. We’ve partnered with a variety of top brands including Anthropologie, Bare Escentuals, Bergdorf Goodman, Bloomingdale'sCrate and Barrel, L.L. Bean, Lands’ End, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Pottery Barn, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, Sundance Catalog, Tea Collection, Urban Outfitters and Williams-Sonoma, just to name a few.

With Google Catalogs, you can:
  • Interact: Zoom in to see products up close, tap on tags to learn more about an item or, in some catalogs, view inspiring photo albums and videos.
  • Find products in nearby stores: When an item catches your eye, instantly find it in a store near you or tap “Buy on Website” to visit the merchant online.
  • Express your creativity: Create a collage of your favorite catalog pages and products. If you need inspiration, you can check out collages created by others.
  • Share with friends: Email a product or collage to all your shopping buddies.
  • Get instant access to new catalogs: Add catalogs to your Favorites and get notified each time a new issue arrives.
  • Discover new products and brands: Search for products within or across multiple catalogs to find exactly what you’re looking for.


To download the app on your iPad, visit the App Store. Visit www.google.com/catalogs/about/ to learn more, and stay tuned for Google Catalogs for Android tablets, coming soon! If you’re a merchant and would like to participate in Google Catalogs, tell us about your catalog by filling out this form on our website.

Happy shopping!

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Every summer, we run a range of educational outreach programs designed to get students of all ages excited about technology. Our Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) is focused around incoming college freshmen who are considering a computer science major, particularly those groups traditionally underrepresented in the field. Last year the program was so successful that 24 of 29 students declared a major in Computer Science. So this year we decided to run CSSI twice.

For each session, we invited nearly 30 young developers with little to no prior programming experience to the Googleplex for an intense three-week course in web application development. Unlike traditional introductory computer science programs, which are largely theoretical, CSSI enables students to gain a better understanding of software engineering through immediate participation. The goal is to give the students the tools they need to create exciting technical solutions now, which in turn gives them the confidence to take their ideas and turn them into reality.

We wanted to equip students with a comprehensive toolset to tackle the world of web and mobile applications. In the first two weeks of the program we introduced students to App Inventor for Android, HTML, CSS, Javascript, Python, Django and App Engine. That sounds like a lot, and it is, but the students far surpassed our expectations and demanded more. In the final week of the program, they built some spectacular web applications, inspiring us with their passion and their enthusiasm for experimentation. They wrote online games, embedded Google Calendar's self-scheduler onto their websites and built blogging services. Some even began exploring the nitty-gritty details of computer graphics. Every one of our 56 students had the satisfaction of developing a publicly-available service on the web, hosted on Google’s servers.

Moreover, the development process was deeply social: we emphasized and facilitated group work, helping students build a network of peers with a shared passion for technology. Google engineers served as mentors, and when we discovered that the students were so excited about their lessons that they continued to work on their projects in the evenings, mentors teamed up with them on Google+ Hangouts, using video conferencing and Google Docs to debug programs collaboratively online.

While both sessions of CSSI 2011 are now over, we’ll be accepting applications for the 2012 sessions early next year, so stay tuned! Our goal with our education programs isn’t just to strengthen the study of computer science—we also want to enable rewarding collaboration among Google’s engineers and usability researchers, educators and the community at large. CSSI is one way to show young people how valuable teamwork can be and encourage them to take that spirit of cooperation back with them to their personal and academic lives.

How do we know we’re on the right track? Not even three days after the end of the first session, a student posted the following message on Google+: “Five weeks before school starts, anyone interested in starting up a new web project?”

She had six eager recruits within the hour.

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(Cross-posted on the Google Student Blog)

Consider the following:
  • Are you an undergraduate or graduate student in the U.S. with new ideas about news? 
  • Have you already created original journalistic content with computer science elements? 
  • Do you find yourself brainstorming different ways of telling stories and covering your community news using technology?
If you responded with a resounding “yes” to any of the above questions, then the new AP-Google Journalism and Technology Scholarship may be perfect for you.

To further encourage and enable innovation from classrooms and dorm rooms alike, we’re announcing a new scholarship program with the Associated Press that will provide $20,000 scholarships for the 2012-2013 academic year to six promising students pursuing or planning to pursue degrees at the intersection of journalism and technology.

While we’re underwriting the scholarships in partnership with the AP, the Online News Association will be responsible for administering the program and managing the selection process. We support a variety of scholarships aimed at giving students from historically underrepresented groups experience in the technology industry, and a key goal of this program will be to promote geographic, gender and ethnic diversity, with an emphasis on rural and urban areas.

Whether you’re exploring data visualizations, 3D storytelling, digital ethics or something else entirely, as ONA’s executive director Jane McDonnell says, “our hope is to shine a light on the hidden treasures in schools across the country—the digital-minded journalists who will be the future of our industry.”

Help us shine a light in your direction—applications are open until January 27, 2012. We hope this program inspires today’s students as they become leaders showcasing what’s possible through digital journalism, and we look forward to celebrating the scholarship winners at the 2012 ONA conference in San Francisco.

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Since its launch in November 2007, Android has not only dramatically increased consumer choice but also improved the entire mobile experience for users. Today, more than 150 million Android devices have been activated worldwide—with over 550,000 devices now lit up every day—through a network of about 39 manufacturers and 231 carriers in 123 countries. Given Android’s phenomenal success, we are always looking for new ways to supercharge the Android ecosystem. That is why I am so excited today to announce that we have agreed to acquire Motorola.

Motorola has a history of over 80 years of innovation in communications technology and products, and in the development of intellectual property, which have helped drive the remarkable revolution in mobile computing we are all enjoying today. Its many industry milestones include the introduction of the world’s first portable cell phone nearly 30 years ago, and the StarTAC—the smallest and lightest phone on earth at time of launch. In 2007, Motorola was a founding member of the Open Handset Alliance that worked to make Android the first truly open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices. I have loved my Motorola phones from the StarTAC era up to the current DROIDs.

In 2008, Motorola bet big on Android as the sole operating system across all of its smartphone devices. It was a smart bet and we’re thrilled at the success they’ve achieved so far. We believe that their mobile business is on an upward trajectory and poised for explosive growth.

Motorola is also a market leader in the home devices and video solutions business. With the transition to Internet Protocol, we are excited to work together with Motorola and the industry to support our partners and cooperate with them to accelerate innovation in this space.

Motorola’s total commitment to Android in mobile devices is one of many reasons that there is a natural fit between our two companies. Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers everywhere.

This acquisition will not change our commitment to run Android as an open platform. Motorola will remain a licensee of Android and Android will remain open. We will run Motorola as a separate business. Many hardware partners have contributed to Android’s success and we look forward to continuing to work with all of them to deliver outstanding user experiences.

We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android. The U.S. Department of Justice had to intervene in the results of one recent patent auction to “protect competition and innovation in the open source software community” and it is currently looking into the results of the Nortel auction. Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.

The combination of Google and Motorola will not only supercharge Android, but will also enhance competition and offer consumers accelerating innovation, greater choice, and wonderful user experiences. I am confident that these great experiences will create huge value for shareholders.

I look forward to welcoming Motorolans to our family of Googlers.



Forward-Looking Statements


This blogpost includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These forward-looking statements generally can be identified by phrases such as Google or management “believes,” “expects,” “anticipates,” “foresees,” “forecasts,” “estimates” or other words or phrases of similar import. Similarly, statements herein that describe the proposed transaction, including its financial impact, and other statements of management’s beliefs, intentions or goals also are forward-looking statements. It is uncertain whether any of the events anticipated by the forward-looking statements will transpire or occur, or if any of them do, what impact they will have on the results of operations and financial condition of the combined companies or the price of Google or Motorola stock. These forward-looking statements involve certain risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated in such forward-looking statements, including but not limited to the ability of the parties to consummate the proposed transaction and the satisfaction of the conditions precedent to consummation of the proposed transaction, including the ability to secure regulatory approvals at all or in a timely manner; the ability of Google to successfully integrate Motorola’s operations, product lines and technology; the ability of Google to implement its plans, forecasts and other expectations with respect to Motorola’s business after the completion of the transaction and realize additional opportunities for growth and innovation; and the other risks and important factors contained and identified in Google’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC"), any of which could cause actual results to differ materially from the forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements included in this press release are made only as of the date hereof. Google undertakes no obligation to update the forward-looking statements to reflect subsequent events or circumstances.

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This is part of a regular series of Google Apps updates that we post every couple of weeks. Look for the label “Google Apps highlights" and subscribe to the series. - Ed.

This week we have news from the Gmail and Google Docs teams, which both made interface changes to streamline how you use those applications. We also introduced some new keyboard shortcuts and made improvements to spreadsheet charts and functions.

New preview pane in Gmail Labs
The Gmail team has heard requests from many of you for an inbox preview pane, and last Thursday we introduced this option as a Gmail Lab. Now you can quickly scroll through a list of messages and see their contents, marking mail as “read” as you go. Once you enable this feature from the Labs area in Settings, you can choose between a vertical or horizontal split in your Gmail window.


Sharper, smoother Gmail mobile interface
Last week we also brought a higher-resolution Gmail interface for people who access their inbox through a mobile browser on a high-resolution display, like the iPhone 4. We also simplified the process to check for new mail—just pull down on the Message List. Transitions between different pages in the interface are also smoothly animated now.


New look and keyboard shortcuts for the documents list
Google Docs also got some big interface improvements to the documents list last week as part of a Google-wide project to streamline and simplify many of our applications. You can switch to the new design by clicking “Try the new look” under the gear icon in the upper right. We’ve also added dozens of new keyboard shortcuts to navigate through the documents list, create new files, share items and more. Just type ? to see the keyboard shortcut cheat sheet.


Automatic spreadsheet function snippets
There are spreadsheet functions you probably know by heart, and others like GoogleTranslate where you might need a tip now and again, so on Tuesday we introduced spreadsheet function snippets. When you start typing a function into a cell, we’ll instantly show you a list of matching functions. Hovering over a function displays its proper syntax and the function’s purpose. We hope this feature saves you trips to the Google Docs Help Center.


New chart types, and chart improvements for documents and drawings
We also made spreadsheet charts more powerful and easier to work with. After you create a chart, it’s now simpler to copy an image of your chart and embed it into a document or drawing. There are more chart types to choose from now, too—from candlestick and combo charts to GeoMaps and TreeMaps.


Who’s gone Google?
At the end of July, we opened our doors in Japan to more than 1,500 business technology leaders from the region for a lively discussion about the future of business technology. At the event, we heard from Softbank Group, Casio, Nortiz and Toda Corporation, who have all decided to switch to Google Apps from their legacy solutions. More than 60,000 other businesses around the world also switched to Google Apps since our last update here too, including Cox Schepp, Journal Communications, Crown Partners and ITV.

In the government sector, we were pleased to see that the U.S. General Services Administration completed their transition of 17,000 employees and contractors to Google Apps, an impressive feat considering it’s been just six months since they decided to “go Google.”

I hope these product updates and customer stories help you and your organization get even more from Google Apps. For more details and the latest news, check out the Google Apps Blog.

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(Cross-posted on the Research Blog)

School may still be out for summer, but teachers remain hard at work. This week, we hosted Google’s inaugural Faculty Institute at our Mountain View, Calif. headquarters. The three-day event was created for esteemed faculty from schools of education and math and science to explore teaching paradigms that leverage technology in K-12 classrooms. Selected via a rigorous nomination and application process, the 39 faculty members hail from 19 California State Universities (CSUs), as well as Stanford and UC Berkeley, and teach high school STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teachers currently getting their teaching credentials. CSU programs credential 60 percent of California’s teachers—or 10 percent of all U.S. K-12 teachers—and one CSU campus alone can credential around 1,000 new teachers in a year. The purpose of gathering together at the Institute was to ensure our teachers’ teachers have the support they need to help educators adjust to a changing landscape.

There is so much technology available to educators today, but unless they learn how to use it effectively, it does little to change what is happening in our classrooms. Without the right training and inspiration, interactive displays become merely expensive projection screens, and laptops simply replace paper rather than shifting the way teachers teach and students learn. Although the possibilities for technology use in schools are endless, teacher preparation for the 21st century classroom also has many constraints. For example: beyond the expense involved, there’s the time it costs educators to match a technological innovation to the improvement of pedagogy and curriculum; there’s a distinct shift in thinking that needs to take place to change classrooms; and there’s an essential challenge to help teachers develop the dispositions and confidence to be lifelong evaluators, learners and teachers of technology, instead of continuing to rely on traditional skill sets that will soon be outdated.

The Institute featured keynote addresses from respected professors from Stanford and Berkeley, case studies from distinguished high school teachers from across California, hands-on technology workshops with a variety of Google and non-Google tools, and panels with professionals in the tech-education industry. Notable guests included representatives from Teach for America, The New Teacher Project, the Department of Education and Edutopia. Topics covered the ability to distinguish learning paths, how to use technology to transform classrooms into project-based, collaborative spaces and how to utilize a more interactive teaching style, rather than the traditional lecture model.

On the last day of the Institute, faculty members were invited to submit grant proposals to scale best practices outside of the meeting. Deans of the participating universities will convene at the end of the month to further brainstorm ways to scale new ideas in teacher preparation programs. Congratulations to all of the faculty members who were accepted into the inaugural Institute, and thank you for all that you do to help bring technology and new ways of thinking into the classroom.


This program is a part of Google’s continued commitment to supporting STEM education. Details on our other programs can be found on www.google.com/education.

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A month after this spring’s devastating earthquake in Japan, we created a site where people from around the world could submit messages of hope in their own languages and have them automatically translated into Japanese. From Paris to Dubai to Manila, nearly 30,000 messages have been posted through messagesforjapan.com.


This past weekend marked the celebration of Tanabata in Sendai, the largest city in the disaster area and home to one of the most famous festivals in the country. People often celebrate Tanabata, which means "Evening of the Seventh,” by writing wishes on tanzaku (small strips of paper) and hanging them on bamboo branches. This year, these paper strips displayed some of the messages of hope submitted through the site, and festival participants added their own messages to those from around the world.


We’ve updated messagesforjapan.com so you can see photos of people gathering for Tanabata in Sendai—reading, creating and hanging messages in the area surrounding the disaster earlier this year.

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My family has a games closet. Inside you’ll find a few decks of cards, two decades’ worth of board games and a Twister mat for those times when we’re feeling limber. Playing games is a great way for us to spend quality time with each other (and a little healthy competition never hurt anyone either).

Today we’re adding games to Google+. With the Google+ project, we want to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to the web. But sharing is about more than just conversations. The experiences we have together are just as important to our relationships. We want to make playing games online just as fun, and just as meaningful, as playing in real life.

That means giving you control over when you see games, how you play them and with whom you share your experiences. Games in Google+ are there when you want them and gone when you don’t.


When you’re ready to play, the Games page is waiting—click the games button at the top of your stream. You can see the latest game updates from your circles, browse the invites you’ve received and check out games that people you know have played recently. The Games page is also where your game accomplishments will appear. So you can comfortably share your latest high score—your circles will only see the updates when they’re interested in playing games too.

If you’re not interested in games, it’s easy to ignore them. Your stream will remain focused on conversations with the people you care about.

You’ll have a fun initial set of games to play with on Google+. Thanks to the developers who’ve worked with us to make them available:


If you’re a developer interested in building games for Google+, you can learn more on our new Google+ developer blog.

Today we’re starting to gradually roll out games in Google+. We look forward to making them fully available to everyone in Google+ soon. When you see a Games page in your account, please give games a try and send us feedback. Look for the "send feedback" button in the bottom right-hand corner of any page in Google+. Thanks for playing! Like the rest of the Google+ project, we're just getting started.

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Lucille Ball may have been born 100 years ago today, but her jokes are timeless. Having grown up with the comedic genius of “I Love Lucy,” it’s hard to believe that Lucy, Desi, Fred, and Ethel wrapped up the initial series in 1957. Lucy’s creativity, absurdity, and ever-changing facial expressions (especially when she was scarfing down candy, stomping on grapes or touting a new energy drink) have brought joy and laughter to generations of viewers.

We’re incredibly happy to celebrate her birthday with a doodle to highlight her brilliant career as an actress and businesswoman. Through the old-timey TV live on the google.com homepage all day on August 6th, you can flip the six channels for a special Lucy broadcast.

Happy birthday, Lucy — we still love you!