Simon Willison’s Weblog

Blogmarks tagged google

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Design Docs at Google. Useful description of the format used for software design docs at Google—informal documents of between 3 and 20 pages that outline the proposed design of a new project, discuss trade-offs that were considered and solicit feedback before the code starts to be written. # 7th August 2020, 4:31 pm

The unofficial Google Cloud Run FAQ. This is really useful: a no-fluff, content rich explanation of Google Cloud Run hosted as a GitHub repo that actively accepts pull requests from the community. It’s maintained by Ahmet Alp Balkan, a Cloud Run engineer who states “Googlers: If you find this repo useful, you should recognize the work internally, as I actively fight for alternative forms of content like this”. One of the hardest parts of working with AWS and GCP is digging through the marketing materials to figure out what the product actually does, so the more alternative forms of documentation like this the better. # 22nd July 2020, 5:20 pm

Why Google invested in providing Google Fonts for free. Fascinating comment from former Google Fonts team member Raph Levien. In short: text rendered as PNGs hurt a Google Search, fonts were a delay in the transition from Flash, Google Docs needed them to better compete with Office and anything that helps create better ads is easy to find funding for. # 23rd February 2020, 2:13 pm

Portable Cloud Functions with the Python Functions Framework (via) The new functions-framework library on PyPI lets you run Google Cloud Functions written in Python in other environments—on your local developer machine or bundled in a Docker container for example. I have real trouble trusting serverless platforms that lock you into a single provider (AWS Lambda makes me very uncomfortable) so this is a breath of fresh air. # 10th January 2020, 4:58 am

Cloud Run Button: Click-to-deploy your git repos to Google Cloud (via) Google Cloud Run now has its own version of the Heroku deploy button: you can add a button to a GitHub repository which, when clicked, will provide an interface for deploying your repo to the user’s own Google Cloud account using Cloud Run. # 4th November 2019, 4:57 am

Evolving “nofollow” – new ways to identify the nature of links (via) Slightly confusing announcement from Google: they’re introducing rel=ugc and rel=sponsored in addition to rel=nofollow, and will be treating all three values as “hints” for their indexing system. They’re very unclear as to what the concrete effects of these hints will be, presumably because they will become part of the secret sauce of their ranking algorithm. # 10th September 2019, 9:16 pm

Discussion about Altavista on Hacker News. Fascinating thread on Hacker News where Bryant Durrell, a former Director from Altavista provides some insider thoughts on how they lost against Google. # 16th February 2019, 6:57 pm

The Friendship That Made Google Huge. The New Yorker profiles Jeff Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat, Google’s first and only level 11 Senior Fellows. This is some of the best writing on complex software engineering topics (map-reduce, Tensor Flow and the like) aimed at a general audience that I’ve ever seen. Also a very compelling case study in pair programming. # 31st December 2018, 3:56 am

Tech Notes: TypeScript at Google (via) In which Evan Martin provides some fascinating colour on the state of JavaScript tooling within Google, which has some unique challenges given that Gmail is 14 years old now and Google have evolved their own internal JavaScript stack which differs widely from the rest of the industry (mainly because it predates most of the successful open source tools). “Which leads me to the middle path, which my little team has been pursuing: incrementally adopt some external tooling where it makes sense, by figuring out how to make it interoperate with our existing code base.” # 2nd September 2018, 7:08 pm

Googlebot’s Javascript random() function is deterministic. random() as executed by Googlebot returns the same predicable sequence. More interestingly, Googlebot runs a much faster timer for setTimeout and setInterval—as Tom Anthony points out, “Why actually wait 5 seconds when you are a bot?” # 7th February 2018, 2:41 am

Cloud SQL for PostgreSQL adds high availability and replication. Google Cloud Platform now offers PostgreSQL with automatic asynchronous disk-level replication to a separate instance in a different availability zone, via their new “Regional Disks“ feature. Between this, Heroku, Citus and Amazon RDS the appeal of a self-maintained PostgreSQL instance continues to fall. # 7th November 2017, 1:49 pm

Oxford Deep NLP 2017 course (via) Slides, course description and links to lecture videos for the 2017 Deep Natural Language Processing course at the University of Oxford presented by a team from Google DeepMind. # 31st October 2017, 8:39 pm

The Xi Text Engine CRDT (via) Xi is “a modern editor with a backend written in Rust”—an open-source text editor project from Google built on some very interesting computer science (Conflict-free Replicated Data Types). It’s a native editor with server-backed synchronization as a first-class concept. # 13th October 2017, 10:32 pm

Facets. New open source visualization and data exploration tool from Google (“Disclaimer: This is not an official Google product”, whatever that means). It’s intended for visualizing machine learning datasets but it’s obviously useful outside of ML as well—any time you need to understand a large dataset this looks like it could be extremely useful. Ships with example jupyter notebooks and an easy mechanism for embedding the Facets interactive UI directly inside a notebook cell. # 8th October 2017, 12:21 am

We Need to Stop Google’s Exploitation of Open Communities. Mikel Maron from OpenStreetMap is justifiably angry about Google MapMaker, which copies OpenStreetMap’s model of crowdsourcing geographic data (even copying the OSM idea of Mapping Parties) but keeps the data under a much more restrictive license, and uses the Google brand to market itself to African governments. # 22nd April 2011, 10 am

Why Facebook open-sourced its datacenters. Jon Stokes speculates that Facebook plan to use open source hardware to compete with Google at datacenter efficiency . This isn’t a new pattern. Years ago when I worked at Yahoo! I was furiously jealous of the secret sauce technologies that allowed Google to build big applications faster than anyone else, such as BigTable and map/reduce. Today, the open source world has created better, free alternatives—sponsored in part by Facebook, Yahoo! and other Google competitors. # 9th April 2011, 7:54 am

Google APIs & Developer Products. Presented as a sort-of-periodic table. There’s quite a bit of stuff on here I didn’t know about. # 28th January 2011, 11:25 am

Getting Started—Google URL Shortener API. The API for the goo.gl URL shortener is really nice—no API key required, easy to create a short URL and you can retrieve detailed stats breakdowns (similar to bit.ly) as JSON for any URL. # 13th January 2011, 3:49 am

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

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