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Google and Microsoft Cheat on Slow-Start. Should You? Fascinating optimisation tricks by some of the big websites, which violate the RFC governing the TCP slow-start algorithm in order to perform better in the common case. # 3rd December 2010, 7:03 pm

Is it not time for Google to redesign its search page by removing the “search” & “I’m Feeling Lucky” buttons since the buttons are now useless with the new “Instant” structure?

I don’t think so. The “Search” button defines their entire purpose. The “I’m Feeling Lucky” button is an important part of their brand.

[... 60 words]

Closure Compiler Service (via) A hosted version of the Google Closure Compiler (JavaScript minifier) running on App Engine. It has both a user interface and a REST API, which means you can use it as part of an automated build process without needing to set up a local copy of the software. # 9th August 2010, 1:17 pm

App Engine at Google I/O 2010. OpenID and OAuth are now baked in to the AppEngine users API. They’re also demoing two very exciting new features—a mapper API for doing map/reduce style queries against the data store, and a Channel API for building comet applications. # 20th May 2010, 3:30 pm

Google Font Directory: Font Preview. Handy tool for trying out the 18 open source fonts Google have released, along with server-side browser sniffing technology that serves up the correct version (including for IE6). The browser sniffing makes me a bit uncomfortable—will it play well with intermediate caches? What happens if I save a local copy of a page and then open it up in a different browser? # 20th May 2010, 3:20 pm

Stack Overflow Blog: OpenID, One Year Later. Google’s support is a huge deal—61% of Stack Overflow accounts use Google. Google’s implementation of directed identity has caused problems though, since Google provide a different OpenID for each domain making it hard for Stack Overflow, Server Fault and Super User to correlate accounts. Their solution is to require a (verified) e-mail address from Google OpenID users using sreg and use that as a key for the accounts. # 14th April 2010, 8:46 pm

Why Google MapMaker is not Open. Non-commercial use only, strict attribution requirements and you aren’t allowed to use the data for services that might compete with Google. This is why I’m disappointed every time I see Google encouraging people to contribute to Map Make, especially in the developing world—if those people contributed to OpenStreetMap instead they would be building something far more valuable for their community. # 16th March 2010, 10:41 am

RE2: a principled approach to regular expression matching. Google have open sourced RE2, the C++ regular expression library they developed for Google Code Search, Sawzall, Bigtable and other internal projects. Unlike PCRE it avoids the potential for exponential run time and unbounded stack usage and guarantees that searches complete in linear time, mainly by dropping support for back references. # 12th March 2010, 9:28 am

Google Image Charts: Mathematical (TeX) Formulas (via) I’m not sure when they added this, but you can now use the Google Charts Image API to render mathematical formulas, specified using TeX syntax. Wordpress.com and Wikipedia have both offered this feature for quite a while, but now you can use it anywhere on the Web. # 12th February 2010, 9:42 am

WARNING: Google Buzz Has A Huge Privacy Flaw. Interesting one this: by default, Buzz creates a public profile for you that lists the people you follow—but your default set of followers is derived from the people you contact most frequently using Gmail. This means users of Buzz may inadvertently reveal their most frequent contacts, which is an issue for people like journalists with anonymous sources, unhappy employees seeking new work or even people having e-mail based affairs. # 11th February 2010, 11:30 am

Fixing the Google Account problem. 3,000+ words explaining how to open a Google Doc invitation sent to an e-mail address that isn’t associated with your Google account. Worth reading just to get an idea for the enormous complexity involved in running a large scale identity system and designing an interface for managing aliases and multiple profiles. Google haven’t got it right yet—has anyone else? # 25th January 2010, 11:21 am

HTTP + Politics = ? Mark Nottingham ponders the technical implications of Australia’s decision to apply a filter to all internet traffic. Australia is large enough (and far enough away from the northern hemisphere) that the speed of light is a performance issue, but filtering technologies play extremely poorly with optimisation technologies such as HTTP pipelining and Google’s SPDY proposal. # 15th December 2009, 3:36 pm

Recently Google Translate announced the ability to hear translations into English spoken via text-to-speech (TTS). Looking at the Firebug Net panel for where this TTS data was coming from, I saw that the speech audio is in MP3 format and is queried via a simple HTTP GET (REST) request: http://translate.google.com/translate_tts?q=text

Weston Ruter # 14th December 2009, 1:13 pm

A piece with a lot of screenshots about the close tab behaviour in Google Chrome. If you click “close” with your mouse, Chrome doesn’t resize the remaining tabs until you mouse away from the area. This means you can click “close” multiple times without having to chase the close button. I hadn’t noticed this, partly because Chrome doesn’t do it if you hit Command-W. They even switch the position of the close button in RTL languages such as Arabic. # 11th December 2009, 9:19 am

Any sufficiently advanced damage control is indistinguishable from ethics.

Eliezer # 6th December 2009, 9:31 am

EtherPad is Back Online Until Open Sourced. Fantastic news. EtherPad just got acquired by Google and announced the team would be joining the Google Wave effort and the existing service would be shut down. Lots of people complained, so they’re going to keep it alive until they’ve open sourced the code! # 6th December 2009, 9:08 am

Google Analytics goes async. This is excellent news—the latest version of the Google Analytics JavaScript is designed to allow for asynchronous loading, so it won’t hold up the rendering of your page. Analytics and banner ads are the two worst offenders when it comes to slowing down page loads. Now if only a banner ad vendor would follow suit... # 2nd December 2009, 6:30 pm

Negative Cashback from Bing Cashback (via) Some online stores show you a higher price if you click through from Bing—and set a cookie that continues to show you the higher price for the next three months. It’s unclear if this is Bing’s fault—comments on Hacker News report that Google Shopping sometimes suffers from the same problem (POST UPDATED: I originally blamed Bing for this). # 23rd November 2009, 9:24 pm

Chromium OS User Experience. The 2 minute UI concept video is probably the best way to understand the ideas behind Google’s Chrome OS. # 19th November 2009, 10:12 pm

SPDY: The Web, Only Faster. Alex Russell explains the benefits of Google’s SPDF proposal (a protocol that upgrades HTTP)—including header compression, multiplexing, the ability to send additional resources such as images and stylesheets down without needing the data:uri hack and Comet support built in to the core assumptions of the protocol. # 13th November 2009, 1 pm

Awkward Suggestions (via) The Google search box “suggest” feature returns very different results depending on the quality of your grammar—“how 2” v.s. “how might one” is particularly illuminating. # 12th November 2009, 10:31 am

The Go Programming Language. A brand new systems programming language, designed by Robert Griesemer and Unix/Plan 9 veterans Rob Pike and Ken Thompson and funded by Google. Concurrency is supported by lightweight communicating processes called goroutines. “It feels like a dynamic language but has the speed and safety of a static language.” # 11th November 2009, 7 am

It’s interesting to me how much [Closure] feels like a more advanced version of Dojo in many ways. There’s a familiar package system, the widgets are significantly more mature, and Julie and Ojan’s Editor component rocks. The APIs will feel familiar (if verbose) to Dojo users, the class hierarchies seem natural, and Closure even uses Acme, the Dojo CSS selector engine.

Alex Russell # 6th November 2009, 7:35 am

Introducing Closure Tools. Google have released the pure-JavaScript library, apparently used for Gmail, Google Docs and Google Maps. It comes with a powerful JavaScript optimiser tool with linting built in and an accompanying Firebug extension to ensure the obfuscated code it produces can still be debugged. There’s also a template system which precompiles down to JavaScript and can also be called from Java. # 6th November 2009, 7:33 am

Google Dashboard. New Google product which shows exactly how much information Google have stored against your account, all on one page. This is a really useful tool, and hopefully will help set a powerful precedent for other sites to follow. # 5th November 2009, 2:03 pm

Cartographer.js. “Thematic mapping for Google Maps”—which means an easy way of adding heat maps (aka chloropleths), pie charts and point clusters as a layer over a Google map. # 1st November 2009, 1:20 pm

Official Google Webmaster Blog: A proposal for making AJAX crawlable. It’s horrible! The Google crawler would map url#!state to url?_escaped_fragment_=state, then expect your site to provide rendered HTML that reflects that state (they even go as far as to suggest running a headless browser within your web server to do this). Just stick to progressive enhancement instead, it’s far less hideous. It looks like the proposal may have originated with the GWT team. # 8th October 2009, 5:52 pm

Google Docs OCR. Whoa, the Google Docs API just got really interesting—you can upload an image to it (POST /feeds/default/private/full?ocr=true) and it will OCR the text and turn it in to a document. Since this is Google, I imagine they’ll also be using the processed documents to further improve their OCR technology. # 29th September 2009, 9:57 pm

Look at Sony, or Microsoft, or Google, or anyone. They still don’t get it. They’re still out there talking about chips, or features, or whatever. Or now they’re all hot for design. But they think design means making pretty objects. It doesn’t. It means making a system of pieces that all work together seamlessly. It’s not about calling attention to the technology. It’s about making the technology invisible.

Fake Steve Jobs # 28th September 2009, 10:40 pm