Simon Willison’s Weblog

273 items tagged “google”


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

Google’s first press release. From 1999, announcing $25 million in equity funding. I’m impressed to see that the mission statement already stated “Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information, making it universally accessible and useful.” # 27th September 2009, 8:35 pm

OpenID: Now more powerful and easier to use! The OpenID+OAuth hybrid protocol (where a user can sign in with OpenID and grant an application access to their OAuth protected resources such as a contact list at the same time) is now supported by Google, Yahoo! and MySpace—this feels like OpenID finally coming of age. # 25th September 2009, 9:08 pm

Given the security issues with plugins in general and Google Chrome in particular, Google Chrome Frame running as a plugin has doubled the attach area for malware and malicious scripts. This is not a risk we would recommend our friends and families take.

Microsoft spokesperson # 24th September 2009, 4:49 pm

Gmail for Mobile: Reducing Startup Latency. Cheeky iPhone optimisation trick—parsing 200 KB of JavaScript takes an iPhone 2.2 device 2.6 seconds, so Gmail embeds code components in /* comments */ in a script tag and evals them on demand later on when the features are needed. # 23rd September 2009, 10:29 pm

More technical details about Google Chrome Frame. It’s implemented as a Browser Helper Object, uses IE’s cookies, history and password-remembering, includes the WebKit developer tools and appends “chromeframe” to the regular IE user agent string—though not apparently the Chrome Frame version itself. # 23rd September 2009, 10:20 pm

PubSubHubbub for Google Alerts. “Think of it as a search API that tells *you* when it finds new results.” # 23rd September 2009, 9:30 pm

Ask browser users, and they’ll tell you the overwhelming reason why they can’t upgrade to a more modern, standards-compliant browser is because their work won’t let them. Ask IT departments why this is the case and they’ll point to the six- to seven-figure costs of upgrading turn-of-the-century Intranets written to work in, and only in, Internet Explorer 6. Google have provided a way for websites to opt out of IE6 (and even IE7) support without requiring enterprise-wide, Intranet-breaking browser upgrades.

Charles Miller # 23rd September 2009, 3:08 pm

In the past, the Google Wave team has spent countless hours solely on improving the experience of running Google Wave in Internet Explorer. We could continue in this fashion, but using Google Chrome Frame instead lets us invest all that engineering time in more features for all our users, without leaving Internet Explorer users behind.

Lars Rasmussen and Adam Schuck # 23rd September 2009, 9:59 am

Introducing Google Chrome Frame. Here’s what Alex Russell has been up to at Google: An IE plugin (for 6, 7 and 8 on all Windows versions) which embeds the Google Chrome rendering engine—sites can then opt-in to using it by including a X-UA-Compatible meta tag. Seems to be aimed at corporate networks which mandate IE for badly written intranet applications—they can roll this out without retraining users to use another browser or breaking their existing in house apps. # 23rd September 2009, 9:57 am

Static Maps API v2. The new version of the Google Static Maps API (static images generated using arguments in a URL, no JavaScript required) adds support for paths, areas and automatically geocoding addresses to specify locations of markers and the centre of the map. # 26th August 2009, 9:01 am

Hack Day tools for non-developers

We’re about to run our second internal hack day at the Guardian. The first was an enormous amount of fun and the second one looks set to be even more productive.

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AdSense for Feeds: What’s all the hubbub about PubSubHubbub? “Today we’re happy to announce initial support in FeedBurner for the PubSubHubbub protocol.” # 24th July 2009, 6:45 pm

Farewell to Mashup Editor. It’s not just Microsoft Popfly that’s shutting down—Google Mashup Editor will be gone in four weeks time (this was announced in January). You get to keep your code, but I don’t know enough about Mashup Editor to know if the code is usable once the system has shut down. # 17th July 2009, 1:05 pm

Google’s Chiller-less Data Center. Google are operating an outside data center in Belgium with no chillers (refrigeration units used to cool water, but at a high cost in energy) making “local weather forecasting a larger factor in its data center management”. On the 10 or so days of the year when Belgium is too warm, they can simply shut down the data center and shift the workload elsewhere. # 16th July 2009, 9:50 am

Google Will Eat Itself. “We generate money by serving Google text advertisments on a network of hidden Websites. With this money we automatically buy Google shares. We buy Google via their own advertisment!” # 10th July 2009, 12:15 pm