Tag Archives: Google

Google’s new URL shortener not short on features!

As if there were not already enough choices for shortening those long URLs, another one has launched.  And if it was not for the company launching it, we would probably not be paying it much attention.  But this is no run-of-the-mail-under-the-radar kind of unveiling.  This is Google’s new URL shortener, Goo.gl and it is not the least bit short on sweet features.

As we said, there are plenty of URL shorteners already on the market.  From the uber popular Bit.ly to the simple, yet customizable Doiop, they are a true godsend to anyone looking to save space and improve the aesthetic of long, complicated, and ugly URLs.  For tweeters especially, these tools are becoming ubiquitous.  To play in the URL shortening game today, a start-up has to bring something big to the table.  What the new Goo.gl brings is the backing of search behemoth Google, its bag of innovations and tricks, and a pretty tall promise to be the “stablest, most secure, and fastest URL shortener on the web.”  Can it live up the hype?

Released to the public today, Goo.glis easy to use.  Just like the other URL shorteners, you simply type or paste a long URL into the form and click on the “shorten” button.  Goo.gl will then compress that long link into something much shorter and more easily manageable.  In this respect, it is not much different than its myriad of competitors.  However, this is Google offspring we are talking about.  So you know that the features do not end there.

Sign in with your Gmail / iGoogle account information, and Goo.glbecomes your own URL shortening space.  It keeps track of all of the shortened URLs you create, complete with the original link, date created, and even the number of clicks it has spawned.  Sure, you are probably thinking that other shorteners do this too.  But let’s be honest.  None of them integrate with your Google presence.  If you are already using Gmail, Google Docs, or any of the growing suite of Google applications, this is just another feather in your cap.  Not to mention, there is already talk of Google integrating its new shortener with the power of its Analytics programs.  To be sure, ste standalone Goo.gl site is probably just the tip of the iceberg here.  You can bet that the competition is already be taking notice!

In the months ahead, it will be interesting to see what comes of Google’s latest offering.  In our opinion, it is already a more auspicious debut than that of Google Wave or even Buzz.  Give Goo.gl a try and let us know what you think!

Google Wave-ing Good-Bye?

Can it be that one of the most hyped new tools of the year has already met an early and untimely demise?  According to Google’s blog, the company has decided to end support for the much-anticipated and, apparently, hardly used Google Wave.  What can we say besides, “Google Wave, we hardly knew ye!”

It seems like just yesterday that the iBraryGuy team was using every social networking tool available to get one those exclusive invitations to Google Wave.  It was rumored to be the tool that would forever change the way we communicated.  Better than e-mail, better than chat, said eager-eyed technophiles.  When we finally got our invites to Wave, it felt like Christmas.  Just a few weeks later, after struggling to understand how Wave worked and looking fruitlessly for ways to incorporate it into our lives, we shelved it just like those Christmas toys from our youth.  Apparently, we were not alone.

On the company’s blog, Google Vice-President Urs Holzle wrote, “. . . Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked.”  He further announced that Google would discontinue development of Wave before the conclusion of the year.  The site is to stay active through year’s end and the code behind Google Wave will be made available via open source for those who wish to work with it on their own.  Wave was home to a series of innovations.  From real-time sharing of images and media to spell-checking that actually worked by understanding the context of a word as well as the word itself. Sadly, these improvements never quite caught on with users.

Google Wave did have its fans . . . just not enough. We here at iBraryGuy certainly gave it our best try.  However, from its busy, clunky interface to its confusing system of gadgets and bots, we just never got it.  For its part, Google says that it has learned a lot from its great Wave experiment – lessons that it plans to put to good use in the development of its next social networking project.  For our money, they are alluding to the company’s rumored challenge to Facebook, the so-called “Google Me”.  Like Google Wave, this yet-to-be-seen innovation is generating a great deal of buzz.

Oh . . . and speaking of Buzz . . . we can only hope that it is next to go.  😉

Google’s groovy new image search rolls out!

Change is once again afoot in the hallowed online halls of Google.  Not everyone can see it just yet, but Google’s popular image search is getting a pretty radical makeover.  Here’s what is going on . . .

Google’s image search has been around for quite awhile now.  Popular, it has remained fairly untouched over the years.  Most folks have gotten used to running the search either directly in the image search interface or switching to it from the main Google search page.  The standard results have long been a page of 10 (though you could change it to be as high as 100) image results.  Each image was neatly framed with a little big of info at its base.  By the end of the week, however, this will have changed for everyone.

Google’s new image search results page is still clean and neat.  It is just . . . well . . . BIGGER.  The image results now appear without the bordering frames in what is often referred to as a “lightbox” format.  Instead of the standard 10 images or limit of 100, users can now see up to 1000 images on their results pages.  Gone from the main screen are the notes and text that used to appear beneath each image.  To see these, you now have to mouse over the image.  It is a bold new look to say the least.

Google’s new image search is really something to behold.  Though it may be visual overload for some, the new results interface is really quite slick and well done.  Best of all is that even at 1000 image results on the page, your results will still load as quickly as ever.  By the end of the week, the new Google image search will be available to all.  If you cannot see it yet, do not fret.  Your feast for the eyes is coming soon!

Google Follow Finder help you find the right tweeps!

There are many ways to find folks worth following on Twitter.  You can use any of the Twitter search engines to find people using specific hashtags or words, such as “#libraries” or librarianship.  You can follow specific Twitter lists, such as our own “Librariana” (http://twitter.com/iBraryGuy/librariana).  There are even sites such as WeFollow.com that are dedicated to classifying and ranking Twitter users.  Perhaps one of the easiest means of finding tweeters worth following, however, is to simply look at who is following the tweeps you already know and trust.  Google’s new Follow Finder aims to make that method of finding folks to follow even easier.

Using Follow Finder is as easy as entering the name of anyone Twitter.  For instance, you could search for “iBraryGuy” (no “@” required).  Click the search button and you will get results in two columns.  The first column, labeled “Tweeps You Might Like”, is a list of recommended Twitterers based on the tweeps whom the person you searched follows.  The second column, “Tweeps with Similar Followers”, actually looks at the relationships between the person searched and folks with similar lists of followers.  Sound confusing?  Follow along . . .

How Google arrives at that first list is interesting. Follow Finder compares the list of people the person for whom you searched follows, finds others with similar lists, and then identifies accounts you might also want to follow based on that comparison.  These are the “Tweeps You Might Want to Follow”.  In other words, if iBraryGuy follows Resource Shelf and other folks who also follow Resource Shelf additionally follow Read Write Web, Follow Finder will recommend Read Write Web to you.

The second list, “Tweeps with Similar Followers”, involves a similar comparison.  Only here Google is looking at the users who are following the person you searched.  So if you search iBraryGuy, Follow Finder looks at who is following us and then compares their lists of followers and makes recommendations to you based on recurring names.  Think of it as the flip side of the social coin.  When you enter a name into Follow Finder, it looks at both the folks whom that user follows and the folks that are following that user.

Google’s Follow Finder is a quick  and easy way to run a two-dimensional search for new Twitter users  worth following.  When we say quick, we literally mean that it takes split seconds to get your results.  And when we say easy, we might as well point out that Follow Finder even provides you with links under each name that allow you to simply click and follow.  It doesn’t get much easier!

Still in Google Labs, we look forward to seeing where this new search tool ends up in the long run!

Google’s new look causes a stir.

Google unveiled a brand new look for its industry-dominating search engine yesterday.  The new 3-Column format is designed to make filtering searches and drilling down results easier than ever.  Some folks are praising the new interface.  Others, if you are following the comments on the various news feeds and blogs, are outraged and want their old Google back.  While no one can make everyone happy, when a giant like Google makes even the smallest change, you are certain to hear a great deal from both sides.  Suffice it to say that the new changes are worth a good, hard look.

Google’s new user interface is clean and uncluttered.  It is also very logical and user-friendly.  No longer do you have to hunt for search options.  They are all in the left column.  Filtering by content type (news, blogs, video, etc.) or timeliness (latest, past month, etc) is as easy as clicking.  check out the “related searches” and “wonder wheel” links for some truly interesting functionality.  The “Something Different” section on the left gives you even more to think about while conducting your searches.  What you see in the left column is just the surface.  As you begin to drill into the search options, even more functionality reveals itself (filtering by date ranges, choosing just pages with photos, etc.).  It is really powerful stuff!

Search results now appear in the middle column of the page and look like they always have.  Of course, selecting any of the search options on the left will change the list you see.  Drilling down is thus interactive, easy, and immediate.  As it should be!  The right column is for ads, of course.  After all, someone has to pay for innovation (and to keep it free for the rest of us!).  Other changes worth noting are the new look of the Google logo (not so 3D-y anymore) and page footer (much cleaner).

So what is there to complain about with so much search optimization and customization so readily and obviously available?  Well, if you read the comments on the various news and search engine blogs, it appears that Google stalwarts fear two things.  First, they miss the minimalist look of the Google search page – a look that many say set Google apart from the rest.  Second, they fear that Google is trying too hard to compete with the “rest”.  Many are pointing out that Google looks and feels a lot like Microsoft’s Bing search engine. 

Though Google still dominates the market, Bing has steadily grown to a 10% share in search engine preference.   Is the new look of Google a reaction to Bing’s challenge?  Maybe.  Will it drive enough people away to hurt Google’s own marketshare?  We think not.  The iBraryGuy team is impressed by Google’s new interface.  It is the epitome of searching elegance, bolstered by the power that only Google can deliver.

Gaga for Google Docs’ new collaborative features!

Just when we were beginning to really enjoy and get the hang of Google Docs, the company went ahead and got all collaborative on us!  That’s right, the cloud-based wordprocesser is boldly going where no free document editing tool has gone before.  With the the new features available in Google Docs, the cloud is now more open for sharing than ever before.

More than just some new tweaks, bells and whistles, Google actually claims to have rebuilt Google Docs from the ground up (or is that the cloud up?). Addressing what they saw as a need for better communication and collaboration in the document creation and editing process, the company may very well have revolutionized the way we work.  Actually working together on a document just got a whole lot easier!

With the new Google Docs, up to 50 people can collaborate on a single document.  Not only can you see who is viewing it, but you can see their edits as they type them (a trick the company first unveiled in Google Wave).  Collaborators can even chat right on the screen as they work.  VERY cool!

Cooler still, and perhaps more intriguing, is the new drawing abilities that have been added to Google Docs.  Yes, those same 50 people who are editing a document together can actually collaborate on a drawing and embed it right into the document.  Now that’s power!

Finally, Google has also added some of the “wordprocessor-esque” functionality and feel that Docs has been lacking since its debut.  Things like rulers and tab stops now give it a more conventional and comforting appearance akin to what we see in most commercial programs.

To access these new features, users simply need to go into their Google Docs settings and click to enable the new version on the “Editing” tab.  With the new Google Docs, the company is getting much more serious about its cloud offerings.  Look out Microsoft Word, the silver lining of this cloud is really starting to shine!

Nice! GMail’s new “Nested Labels” organize your inbox!

Google Labs has announced the testing of a sweet new feature for GMail users – Nested Labels.  Designed to give users more control over how they organize their inboxes, users must currently opt in to enjoy this new functionality.

Heavy GMail users have long known that for all of the cool features available, one of the downsides to Google’s mail offering is the difficulty in organizing your inbox.  GMail already offers both folders and labels.  Deciding which to use and when, however, has left many a user scratching his or her head.  In fact, most folks we know have simply chosen to let their inboxes fill up and just use a search to find what they need.  A packed GMail inbox is a daunting sight! 

Google has sort of acknowledged some of the short comings of its original organizational scheme in the blog posting announcing the new Nested Labels.   Under the current system, messages can have multiple labels but can only be placed in one folder.  The labels, however, could not be hierarchical like traditional folders.  So, you could label your e-bill from your electric company as “home” and “utility bills” . . . but they would always be standalone labels.  You could not make “utility bills” a subset of the “home” label.  At least, you could not until now.

What Google has done with it’s Nested Labels system is essentially marry the searchability of labels with the functionality of folders.  Though there is a slight learning curve when it comes to creating subsets of labels, once you get the hang of it, it is a powerful new feature.  Not only does it help you tame the beast that is e-mail glut, but it looks great graphically too.  For now, users wishing to check out GMail’s Nested Labels have to opt to activate this functionality via Google Labs.

Full instructions on how to turn on Nested Labels and manage them is available on the official GMail Blog. Google also announced the testing of another neat feature called “Sneek Peak”.  You can read about that there as well.  Sneak Peak is pretty cool, but it was the Nested Labels that wowed us most!