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September 04 2011

Happy Birthday Google: Making Sense of the Web for 13 Years

What were you up to 13 years ago? Maybe you were perfecting the ideal AIM screen name. Or you might have been surfing the “WestHollywood” neighborhood of GeoCities. Chances are, you had been using Yahoo! or AOL as your primary search engines. But Google’s debut on this day in 1998 would change the World Wide Web forever.

On September 4, 1998, Larry Page and Sergey Brin filed for incorporation as Google Inc. — they had received a $100,000 check from an investor made out to Google, Inc., and needed to incorporate that name so they could legally deposit the check.

Prior to the launch, Page and Brin met at Stanford in 1995, and soon decided to launch a search service called BackRub in January 1996. They soon reevaluated the name (and the creepy logo) in favor of Google, a play on the mathematical figure, “googol,” which represents the number 1 followed by 100 zeroes. The name embodied their mission to create an infinite amount of web resources. And that they did.

Since then, Google has become a household name to billions of people worldwide. You’ll overhear senior citizens command their grandchildren to “google” the price of foot cream. You’ll witness toddlers punching the screen of the latest Android phone. And chances are, you’ve navigated the circles of Google+ (if not, let’s get you an invite already).

SEE ALSO: 10 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Google

We’d like to guide you on a trip down Google lane, presenting the key products and acquisitions that were born in the first Google garage office, and innovated in the Googleplex. In the comments below, please share how Google has had an impact on your life, and join us in wishing Google a happy birthday!

1996-1997: BackRub

Google was first launched under the BackRub nomer. Soon after, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin registered the Google.com domain name in September 1997. The two arrived at the name as a play on the mathematical figure, "googol," which represents the number 1 followed by 100 zeroes. The name embodied their mission to create an infinite amount of web resources.

1998: Google's First Homepage

The original Google homepage prototype debuted in November 1998. Earlier that year Google received a $100,000 check made out to as-yet-unestablished Google Inc. from first investor Andy Bechtolsheim.

In September 2008, the two founders set up shop in Susan Wojcicki‘s garage in Menlo Park, CA, deposited their check and hired their first employee, Craig Silverstein.

1999: The Uncle Sam Homepage

Apart from adding Uncle Sam to its homepage, in 1999 Google outgrew its next office and moved to its first Mountain View, California location. The team announced $25 million in equity funding from Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins in its first press release.

2000: Google Becomes Yahoo's Default Search Provider

Apart from its partnership with Yahoo, in 2000 Google announced that its index reached the 1 billion-URL mark, making it the largest search engine in the world. Google also launched AdWord, a self-service ad program that allowed people to purchase keyword advertising that would appear alongside search results.

2001: Google Image Search

Image search launched in July 2001 with an index of 250 million images. That same year Google acquired Deja Usenet and archived its index into categories that ultimately made up Google Groups.

2002: Google Search Appliance

Early in 2002 Google marketed its first hardware, the Google Search Appliance, a device that plugged into a computer and provided advanced search capabilities for internal documents. In May Google announced Labs, a resource for people interested in trying out beta programs emerging from Google's R&D team. Later Google launched its News tool that provided links from 4,000 sources.

2003: AdSense

Google announced the world's largest content-targeted ad program, later dubbed AdSense after Google acquired Applied Semantics. Earlier in the year Google acquired Pyra Labs, the creator of Blogger.

2004: Gmail

Google launched Gmail on April Fool's Day 2004, but the beta version required an invitation to join. In January Orkut launched as Google's foray into social networking. In August, Google's initial public offering contained 19,605,052 shares of Class A common stock at $85 per share.

2005: Google Maps

Google Maps launched in February 2005, to go live on the first iPhone in 2007. Additionally, code.google.com went live to provide resources for developers, and included all of Google's APIs. The company also acquired Urchin, whose content optimization service helped create Google Analytics, launched later that year. In June Google released Google Earth, a satellite-powered mapping service. In October Reader was unveiled to help organize and consolidate content into a single feed.

2006: YouTube

In a $1.65 billion stock transaction, Google acquired YouTube in October 2006. Google also unveiled Trends, a tool that allows a user to evaluate popular searches over a specific timeframe. Earlier that year Google released Gchat, a Gmail-based instant message service derived from Google Talk. Google Checkout emerged later as a way to pay for online purchases.

2007: Android

In November 2007 Google announced its first mobile venture, Android, which the company called "the first open platform for mobile devices."

2008: Google Chrome

In September 2008 Google introduced Chrome, its open source browser. The surprise was spoiled when the comic book that was meant to help debut Chrome leaked a day ahead of schedule. Later that month T-mobile announced the G1, Google's first Android-powered mobile device. That year Google also added Google Suggest capabilities and site search.

2009: Google Wave

To much anticipation, Google announced its venture into real-time communication via the Wave platform. Little more than a year later, however, Wave was no more. That same year Google launched Mac-based photo application Picasa.

2010: Google Apps Marketplace

In 2010 Google launched its Apps Marketplace, an app store that allows third-party developers to sell their creations. That same year Google unveiled Google Buzz, its latest attempt at social sharing that originated in Gmail. The company also released Google TV after teaming up with Intel, Sony and Logitech.

2011: Google+

Google's most talked-about and participatory social platform thus far, Google+ launched in June 2011 with invite-only access. The tech giant also announced its most expensive acquisition to-date when it bought Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion.

More About: Google, media, Tech

For more Business & Marketing coverage:

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July 18 2011

Mashable Weekend Recap: 29 Stories You May Have Missed

It was a weekend for the record books.

The FIFA World Cup Final made some big news this weekend with Japan beating USA in the final match Sunday. We saw tons of people commenting on the outcome of the game on their social channels, and as it turned out, Twitter users set a new record with the number of tweets sent per second.

Of course, we can’t forget about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 either. The final film in the Harry Potter franchise released in U.S. theaters late last week, but it continued to make news as the weekend progressed. Fans set a box office record for opening night and eventually box office records altogether.

And as far as useful resources go, we’ve got the ultimate guide to Google+, Google’s new social layer. You’ll find some other handy tools for Google+ too, including how to set up an RSS feed and how to follow Mashable staff.

News Essentials

Carmageddon Approaches: Here’s What It Will Look Like [VIDEO]

Netflix Heading to Europe in 2012 [REPORT]

LinkedIn Revamps Profiles for Students

The Rise of Mobile In-App Ads [INFOGRAPHIC]

This Week in Politics & Digital: Cyber Security in The Spotlight

Dual-Screen SpaceBook Laptop Up for Pre-Order [UPDATED]

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Breaks Box Office Records

Is Google+ Becoming More Female?

Reaching 200 Million Accounts: Twitter’s Explosive Growth [INFOGRAPHIC]

Spacecraft Orbits Protoplanet in Asteroid Belt, a First [INFOGRAPHIC]

World Cup Finals: USA Loses to Japan, the Web Reacts [PICS]

World Cup Final: A New Tweets Per Second Record

David Beckham’s Baby Photo Debuts on Facebook [PICS]

Helpful Resources

HOW TO: Add Mashable Staff to Your Circles on Google+

19 Essential Google+ Resources

46 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

Google+: The Complete Guide

Top 10 Twitter Trends This Week [CHART]

5 Tips for Group Deals Success

5 Ways Journalists Are Using Google+

8 Crucial Elements of Startup Success

15 Rad Retro Office Accessories [PICS]

HOW TO: Make RSS Feeds for Google+ Profiles

Tips For Negotiating Employee Equity

Weekend Leisure

Can Web Video Views Predict Box Office Magic for Harry Potter?

Jerry Seinfeld Joins Twitter

Discovered a New Band? Find Out Which Songs To Check Out First With GoRankem

Android App Displays Brain Waves Via Wireless Headband [VIDEO]

3 New Digital Apps For Offline Fun

More About: Google Plus, harry potter and the deathly hallows part 2, Weekend recap, World Cup Final

For more Social Media coverage:

July 17 2011

July 16 2011

19 Essential Google+ Resources

Already using Google+? Follow Mashable News for the latest about the platform’s new features, tips and tricks as well as our top social media and technology updates.

Google+ hit the news feeds like a strategic and popular ton of bricks. But we haven’t stopped there. In addition to breaking news, Mashable has provided how-tos and tools for maximizing your Google+ experience. We’ve sourced reviews from some of the network’s early adopters, and we’ve also welcomed your input as you navigate one of the most buzzworthy social outlets of the year.

Read on for Mashable‘s roundup of all resources Google+. Gather tips, analyze reviews, participate in polls and, as always, voice your thoughts in the comments below.

Google+ Tips, Tools and Talk

Screenshots: Inside Google+

Google+ Logo

This is the Google+ logo.

Google+ Icons

The Google+ icons. Starting top left and circling to the right: Circles, Hangouts, Home, Sparks, Profile, Photos.

New Google+ Navigation Bar

All Google sites will sport the new Google+ navigation bar. It includes notifications, profile information and content sharing options.

Google+ Stream

This is the Google+ Stream, where users share content and see what their friends are sharing. It is similar to the Facebook News Feed.

Google+ Circles

Google+ Circles is Google's version of the Facebook friend list or the Twitter List. Users can select multiple friends and drag-and-drop them into groups. This makes it easier to send stuff to friends, family or the entire world.

Google+ Circles Editor

This is the Google+ Circles editor in action. Google has created unique animations for adding and removing friends through HTML5.

Google+ Sparks

Google+ Sparks is Google's content recommendation and discovery engine. Users can search different topics and find relevant articles, videos and photos. Users can then share that content with their friends.

Google+ Hangouts

Google+ has a unique video chat feature called Hangouts, which lets you chat with up to 10 people at the ame time.

Google+ Photos

Google+ allows you to upload and share photos with your friends. It includes photo tagging and a simple browser-based image editor.

Google+ Profile

Google+ Profiles are like most profile pages -- it includes basic information about the user like interests, occupation and profile photos.

More About: Google, Google Plus, List, Lists, resources, roundup, social media, tips

For more Social Media coverage:

HOW TO: Add Mashable Staff to Your Circles on Google+

Already using Google+? Follow Mashable News for the latest about the platform’s new features, tips and tricks as well as our top social media and technology updates.

Ever since it’s launch on June 28, the tech community has been rushing to join Google+ — and Mashable staffers are no exception.

We’re learning how to use the newest social network right along with you, and would love to interact with you there. We’ll be posting Mashable stories, tidbits about what we’re working on and asking for feedback about the platform.

Here’s a list of individual Mashable employees using Google+ that you can add to your circles. You can also follow Mashable News. We look forward to engaging with you there!

+Ada Ospina – NYC Office Manager

+Adam Hirsch – COO

+Adam Ostrow – Editor in Chief

+Amy-Mae Elliott – Features Writer

+Andrew Reedman – U.S. Director of Sales

+Ben Parr – Editor at Large

+Brenna Ehrlich – Associate Editor of Media & Entertainment

+Brian Anthony Hernandez – Copy Editor

+Brian Dresher Director of Business Development

+Brie Manakul – Ad Ops Manager

+Charlie White – Senior Editor

+Chelsea Stark – Community Intern

+Christina Warren – Mobile and Development & Design Reporter

+Connie Preti – Community Intern

+Emily Banks – Assistant News Editor

+Erica Swallow – Partner Content Associate Editor

+Frederick Townes – CTO

+Jennifer Van Grove – Startups Reporter

+Josh Catone – Features Editor

+Karen Hartline – Events Director

+Kate Hayden – Events Assistant

+Lauren Drell – Partner Content Assistant Editor

+Lauren Indvik – Marketing & Media Associate Editor

+Louis Dorman – Art Director

+Matt Silverman – Associate Features Editor

+Meghan Peters – Community Manager

+Pete Cashmore – Founder and CEO

+Robyn Peterson – Senior VP of Product

+Sana Ahmed – Executive Assistant

+Sarah Kessler – Startups Reporter

+Sharon Feder – Publisher

+Stacy Green – Communications Director

+Stefanie Rennert – HR Manager

+Stephanie Buck - Editorial Intern

+Stephanie Haberman – Community Assistant

+Tamar Weinberg – Community and Global Advertising

+Tanya Salah – West Coast Sales Director

+Todd Olmstead – Community Intern

+Todd Wasserman – Business and Marketing Editor

+Zachary Sniderman – Social Good Assistant Editor

+Zoe Fox – Social Good Intern

More About: Google, Google Circles, staff

For more Social Media coverage:

July 14 2011

5 Chrome Extensions That Improve Google+

Already using Google+? Follow Mashable News for the latest about the platform’s new features, tips and tricks as well as our top social media and technology updates.

Google+ has launched to great aplomb, but its “project” status means some tools have yet to be developed. While Google works on adding more features, some available Chrome extensions can fill the functionality gap.

Whether you want to get better notifications, enjoy improved sharing options, or scroll through your stream more quickly, there’s an extension available — for free — to help.

Take a look through the gallery for five tried and tested picks that will help you be more productive on Plus. Let us know in the comments about other Chrome Extensions you’ve found useful — they may end up in a future gallery.

1. G+ Count in Title: Add a Notification Count to Your Google+ Tab

A simple but useful option, this extension adds a counter to your Google+ page tab so you can see at a glance how many new posts you have to view.

2. G+ Extended: Add Shortcuts

Simple and very unobtrusive, this extension adds more shortcuts, as well as offering one-press "+1" options, when a post is highlighted you can press "e" to expand all the comments or "s" for quick sharing options.

3. Helper For Google+: Get Desktop Notifications

This extension has tweaked search and also lets you share to Twitter. Helper gives you desktop notifications for new Google+ posts with a little pop-up window or an audio alert option. There's also a "translate" button, which some may find useful.

4. +Comment Toggle: Hide Comments

If your stream is busy, then this extension will save you some precious scrolling time. It automatically hides all comments on a post, reducing the on-screen info to a simple comment tally (which you can choose to expand if you wish.)

5. Extended Share For Google+: Share Plus Posts to Other Networks

This handy extension expands your sharing options. It adds a "Share on..." button that gives you the ability to quickly and easily share a Plus post to Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

More About: chrome, Chrome Extensions, Google, google chrome, Google Lists, Google Plus, Google Plus Lists, List

For more Social Media coverage:

July 12 2011

July 09 2011

40 New Digital Media Resources You May Have Missed

Whew! This week was awash with news. So, we transformed that news into advice, tips and how-to’s that you can reference for years to come.

Take Facebook’s video chat launch — we’ll guide you in setting it up. Or the space shuttle launch — we provide the Twitter accounts for dozens of astronauts and space experts. And Google+ has been on the minds of millions — we present its pros and cons. Mashable not only releases breaking news, we help you learn how to apply it to your business, your interests and your personal life.

If spare time for reading didn’t exactly factor into your busy week, here’s a roundup of resources that appeared on Mashable.

Editors’ Picks

Social Media

July 07 2011

10 Top Google+ Users Weigh In on the Web’s Newest Social Network

google image

A list ranking the top users on Google’s invite-only social sharing platform Google+ turned up some interesting results. Mark Zuckerberg topped the list, but his profile is almost entirely inactive — that is, if the profile is actually his to begin with.

We’ve scoured the profiles, Twitter accounts and blogs of the top Google+ users that aren’t Google employees or Mr. Zuckerberg. You might be surprised to read their thoughts and reviews of the recent social networking phenomenon.

Do you agree with what they have to say, standing atop their invitation-only soapboxes? Let us know in the comments below.

Robert Scoble

Tech blogger Robert Scoble ranks #5 on the most-followed Google+ list. This week he posted a link to Cinch in which he interviews his wife Maryam about her hesitations to join Google+.

She says: "I have only so many minutes during the day, and the minutes that I choose to waste I like to waste on Facebook. Why do I have to go somewhere else, be lonely by myself and waste time when I can be on Facebook like everybody else? ... If within a year, I see that a lot of family and friends are there, and they're doing things I cannot do on Facebook...then I'll probably get on Google+, but that's far away from now."

Robert Scoble himself posted some thoughts to his Google+ profile:

"Google+ sometimes removes me from following someone that I know I already followed. This has happened dozens of times now, so I think it's a bug but I haven't figured out a pattern to it."

"Even with all of its noise, Google+'s feed is 600x more interesting than my Google Buzz feed. Why? No Tweets. All organically added stuff."

"I'm getting more engagement here than anywhere else."

"The speed of notifications and new items here doesn't match Twitter, yet, but blows away Facebook's speed."

"The Google+ mobile experience on web is quite nice. I am using Google+ exclusively this weekend on Safari on iPhone. Yes, it is missing lots, like I dont see a way to upload photos. But the UI and your posts are great looking ... This week I will be using G+ on Android, which is a lot better."

Kevin Rose

As the co-founder of Digg and Milk, Kevin Rose isn't the most active Google+ user yet, but he certainly has an opinion about the service. Here are some of his thoughts we found on Twitter:

"just started using Google+, i get it.. just not sure if I need it.."

"liking Google plus, hoping the Sparks get better / more news integration, those could be powerful"

Pulled from a longer post by Rose: "Where does Google+ fit in my life?...Feedback Loop: +1's next to everything give me a way to acknowledge others for their contributions...Realtime data: Seeing comments appear Quora style (as they are happening) is fun...What happened to 140 characters? This post will reach a wider audience than posting it on kevinrose.com...I might replace my blog w/G+ if it bring more traffic and sharing."

MG Siegler

The TechCrunch writer shares his reactions to Google+ on both the site itself and his Twitter:

"If only Google+ had search..."

"The Google+ photo uploader is pretty great. Fast."

"Yep, the G+ realtime comment sections are pretty great."

"All I know for sure is that Google+ needs to figure out a way not to have comments boost an old story back to the top of the stream. Makes everything feel very stale, even though it makes some sense to do this. FriendFeed battled with this issue as well, but there was more data constantly flowing in due to Twitter imports, etc."

"Whether or not Google+ succeeds remains to be seen, obviously. But they're adding a sh*t ton amount of users like I've never seen before."

"Whereas previously 90% of the talk on Google+ was about Google+, now it looks like only 75% or so is. That's good, but it needs to keep dropping fast."

Gina Trapani

Coder and blogger Gina Trapani is the most-followed woman on Google+. She shares her thoughts via the site and her blog.

"I'm fine with comments from strangers on public posts (though I'm a blogger first, so very used to that). However, the fact that strangers can start Huddles render that feature useless for me. Otherwise, an interesting take on Google's social effort from a Facebooker."

"Is it possible to enjoy the Circles interface TOO much?"

"I've been been watching Google flail around social web apps for a few years now, so what I appreciate most about Google+ is that it's a well-thought out product informed by past experience. The more I use Google+, the more I see just how many lessons Google learned from Wave and Buzz..."

Tom Anderson

Tom Anderson, creator of MySpace, uses his Google+ profile to pose questions about the product. He's generated thought-provoking discussions about the features of the site and released his own views as well:

"Analyst video about Google+ — suggests Google won't disrupt FB or Twitter, that the cost to build/retain engineers has been a big hit to Google's bottom line, and monetization is unclear. Suggests Facebook gets social search ... He seems to be missing that Google+ has already integrated +1 and Twitter into search ..."

"I've also noticed that my own 'circle' count is quite different than what I see on my circles page (like it's showing I'm 3,000 and I actually have 6,000). Guess there's some lag between counts/dbs."

"If you're following a huge user (like MG [Siegler]) and he chooses to upload 500 photos (go MG!) then you're stream is going to be inundated till the end of time with people commenting on his photos. You can "mute" the sharing of his album, but each photo is its own item, and thus you'd have to mute each photo as it comes up with its first comment, right? Am I missing something here? I know the potential for feed noise is crazy on Google+ right now, but this example seems nuts. It really seems like Google+ will have to provide a "sort by post date," at the very least."

"Google+ does seem like it could take a bite out of Twitter - it seems to let you do what Twitter does (but maybe better), and it definitely lets you commmunicate with your followers in a more normal fashion (not stuck with 140 character DMs)."

Jeff Jarvis

CUNY professor and blogger Jeff Jarvis sounded off on Google+ pros and cons on his blog:

"To paraphrase Mark Zuckerberg, it is too soon to know what Google+ is. But I've been trying to imagine how it will and won't be useful to news. You should add rock salt to anything I say, as I thought Google Wave would be an important journalistic tool."

"Note this good news: Google+ made 'ranking changes ... that demote such comments if the commenter is not in your circles.' That's a good start. I still want the option of a feed of only latest posts, regardless of comment timing."

"RWW looks at how Google+ could be useful in teaching. +Rebecca MacKinnon sees potential. So do I."

"I REALLY want to be able to embed links in posts here. That alone makes this far inferior to blogs and even Twitter for writing pieces with responsible linking."

"This whole notion that one can/should be able to "disable reshare" is setting a treacherous precedent for the rest of the web. Will news organizations tell me I can't share their story? We never had the expectation until G+ gave it to us. Don't go too far with it, friends."

Loic Le Meur

Founder of Seesmic and LeWeb conference, Loic Le Meur reviews Google+ on his Twitter account:

"I wish google did circles for just gmail contacts too, I would totally use them, wouldn't you?"

"Testing the google plus app on samsung tab honeycomb, not optimized but it works"

"What's my incoming stream? Anyone who added me in a circle? I don't get it"

"So, if I do a circle "assholes" and add people in them, they won't even be able to know I tagged them that way? That's disappointing :-)"

"Google+ is entirely streaming, no delay, all push, no reloading a page or clicking anywhere, that's way cool."

"Google+ might hit Twitter more than Facebook, it's so clean..."

"okay, I'm more and more impressed by Google+, I think it's a real competitor to Facebook in the making."

"One thing that frustrates me with G+ is that I don't have a stream of every feedback I get: plusses and comments, see all interactions only. Do you not?"

Felicia Day

Actress and gamer Felicia Day uses some humor to review Google+ on the site and her Twitter account:

"Lots of appealing features in Google+. Can't wait to see what Twitter updates next to counter."

"WHOAH when can you collapse comments? The train gets crazy-sauce long in the feed!"

"This service is confusing! I'm part of people's circles but I didn't agree to be in them, I don't know who I'm sharing with and how ... eeep! Trying to figure out how to use it more like Twitter than involuntary Facebook groups. #1: Email notifications OFF!"

Markus Persson

Markus Persson is the founder and game developer at Mojang, creators of the indie gaming megahit Minecraft.

"Dear Google+, I want to be able to have public circles that people can join. That way, I can post to the "wants to know about Minecraft" circle when I want to talk about Minecraft without having to invite every single fan out there manually."

"Holy moly, I have like 2200 followers! (but my profile page seems to be stuck at 191)."

"Dear Google+, I want to be able to have public circles that people can join. That way, I can post to the 'wants to know about Minecraft' circle when I want to talk about Minecraft without having to invite every single fan out there manually...Or let me tag posts."

Leo Laporte

Twit.tv technology broadcaster and author Leo Laporte reserves precious space on his phone's home screen for a Google+ widget. Here are some reviews Leo Laporte posted on his Google+ profile:

"It's really hard to remember that G+ is still in closed beta. I was going to talk about it on KFI this morning, but I don't think it's a good idea to sing the praises of something most people can't access."

Laporte quotes a Wired article by Steven Levy: "Emerald Sea is not a Facebook killer, Gundotra told me. In fact, he added, somewhat puckishly, 'people are barely tolerant of the Facebook they have,' citing a consumer satisfaction study that rated it barely higher than the IRS. Instead, he says, the transformation will offer people a better Google." Laporte responds, "I'd say they're well on their way to succeeding."

"Google+ earned a spot on my phone's home page. Two actually. Replacing Facebook and Beluga."

Image courtesy of Flickr, halilgokdal

More About: facebook, Google, Google Plus, reviews, social media, social networking, top 100, twitter, users

For more Social Media coverage:

July 04 2011

Google Wants You to Solve Problems For Money

Google quietly launched Prizes.org, a social contest website, during Fourth of July weekend.

The website is operated by Slide, a social gaming company that Google acquired last year. Prizes.org allows users to create “contests” where they post questions or tasks. The user can then award a cash prize to the best answer received.

Users may ask for trip-planning assistance, advice on naming a startup, best product for infants, etc. Each post contains a time allotment for forum feedback, during which time visitors vote on the best advice submitted. The user who gains the most votes wins the cash, often a $10 to $50 prize.

At the moment, Prizes.org requires a Facebook or Twitter sign-in to participate. However, curious users can view the contest lineup here, where many posts nonetheless require logins.

The website features little Google branding; however, the privacy link on the homepage reveals a standard Google privacy agreement. Slide has been quietly releasing other products without Google branding, including group-texting app Disco.

[via Geek.com]

More About: business, contest, Google, launch, prizes, slide, social media

For more Business & Marketing coverage:

June 09 2011

7 Les Paul Google Doodle Tunes From Mashable Readers

If you’ve used Google at all on Thursday, you probably saw the Google Doodle tribute to guitarist Les Paul. Chances are many hours of productivity at offices around the world have been lost to Google’s interactive toy that puts 10 guitar notes at your fingertips.

Mashable readers have filled the comments of our earlier post on the doodle with their own recordings — an option only available in the U.S. version. Here are some of our favorite tunes:

Creating a Google Doodle song isn’t as hard as it looks. Searches on the Twitter hashtag #GoogleDoodle brought back plenty of people typing out the keyboard arrangements for popular songs. Gretchen Vaughn even made a compilation of songs and tutorials using Storify.

Since it looked so easy, I even tried my hand at playing “The Imperial March” from Star Wars.

Thanks to all those who submitted their Google Doodle songs!

Which of these tunes is your favorite? Tell us in the comments below, and feel free to post yours.

More Google Doodles

BONUS: Check out the Top 10 Animated Google Doodles, embedded below.

The Christmas Google Doodle

Each package gets larger with a mouse-over, and a click on it returns search results pertinent to a specific country or the particular items featured in a scene. This one is from December 24, 2010.

Charlie Chaplin Google Doodle

The Google Doodle team stars in an homage to the silent film era's greatest star's 122nd birthday, April 15, 2011.

Google Logo Repelled by Cursor

This one's done in HTML5 and was published Sept. 7, 2010. To get the full effect, here's one you can interact with.

John Lennon Google Doodle

This Doodle commemorated John Lennon's 70th birthday in October 2010.

Martha Graham

Debuting May 10, 2011, this Google Doodle marks dance choreographer Martha Graham's birthday.

Robert Bunsen

Commemorated the birthday of the inventor of the Bunsen burner, German chemist Robert Bunsen on March 31, 2011.

Thomas Edison

The great inventor's birthday was honored on February 11, 2011.

Independence Day

Marking Independence Day 2010.

Pac-Man's 30th Anniversary

A real crowd pleaser was this playable Pac-Man game, which appeared on May 21. 2010. Here's a playable version.

More About: community, google doodle, guitar, music

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

May 20 2011

HOW TO: Get the Most Out of Google Reader

The real-time web is becoming an increasingly important source of news, but many users still prefer to receive their content the old-fashioned way: Through a steady diet of RSS feeds. One of the best news readers out there is the web-based Google Reader. Although simple in appearance, it has some features under the hood that can help you greatly improve your news reading experience.

If you’re a new user, you might want to fill up your Reader with interesting feeds. If that’s the case, make sure you don’t overlook feed bundles, which you can add by clicking on “Browse for stuff” in the upper left-hand menu. Here you can browse through featured feed bundles, bundles from your friends or recommended feeds from users with similar interests as you.

Once you’ve populated the Reader with enough feeds that interest you, it’s time to start organizing them.


The simplest ways to organize feeds is by creating folders. Click on the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner and choose Settings — Folders and Tags. Create as many folders as you’d like; for example, you might want to create a special folder for very important feeds, or create a folder for each subcategory of news you’re following, such as “tech,” “business,” and so forth.

Now, instead of always clicking on “All items,” you can read the feeds from each individual subcategory separately.

To move a feed from folder to folder, select it and click on the Feed settings drop-down menu, then click on the name of an individual folder to move the feed there.


A lot of users just fire up Google Reader, add some feeds and then stop tweaking and optimizing. However, if you subscribe to a lot of feeds, Google Reader can actually help you get rid of the ones you’re not interested in and focus on those which are important to you.

The best way to do this is to use Trends, located in the upper-left corner of the Google Reader screen. Click on it and you’ll see a lot of statistics on how you use your feeds. For example, you can see which feeds you click on and read often, as well as which ones you share and email the most. You can also check out which feeds are frequently updated and which are almost completely inactive.

If you find that you don’t use certain feeds at all, or that they’ve become inactive, you can get rid of them by clicking on the trash can icon next to the feeds in Trends. You can also erase active feeds that you rarely read or share.

If you frequently add new feeds to your Google Reader, you can repeat this process every few months.


Did you know that Google Reader supports keyboard shortcuts? The mouse can only take you so far; power users will definitely want to remember some of these as they can make the process of skimming through hundreds of feeds much more efficient.

Here’s a list of some of the most useful shortcuts supported in Google Reader.

j/k – selects the next/previous item in the list
space/shift-space – moves the page down/up
n/p – in list view, selects the next item without opening it
o – in list view, expands or collapses the selected item
enter – in list view, expands or collapses the selected item
s – stars the selected item
shift-s – shares the selected item
m – switches the read state of the selected item
t – opens the tagging field for the selected item
v – opens the original source for this article in a new window
shift-a – marks all items in the current view as read
1 – displays the subscription as expanded items
2 – displays the subscription as a list of headlines
r – refreshes the unread counts in the navigation
shift-n/p – selects the next/previous subscription or folder in the navigation
shift-x – expand or collapse a folder selected in the navigation
shift-o – opens the item currently selected in the navigation
gh – goes to the Google Reader homepage
ga – goes to the “All items” view
gs – goes to the “Starred items” view
gt – allows you to navigate to a tag by entering the tag name
gu – allows you to navigate to a subscription by entering the subscription name
u – hides and shows the list of subscriptions
? – displays a quick guide to all of Reader’s shortcuts

Other Tweaks

Over the years, Google has been adding little tweaks and improvements to Google Reader, and it’s hard even for power users to remember all the options it offers. Here are a few lesser known options you might want to check out.

Sorting by magic: Click a feed, and select “Sort by magic” from the “Feed settings” drop-down menu. Instead of giving you the newest items first, this feature reorders the items in your unread feed based on your own past reading history and overall activity inside the Reader.

Next bookmarklet: For a really quick and easy way to browse through your feeds, Google has included the “Next bookmarklet” in its Settings page (under the “Goodies” tab). Just drag it to your bookmarks bar, and each time you click on it, it will take you to the next unread item, marking it as read in the process.

Note in reader: Similarly to the “Next” bookmarklet, Google provides a “Note in reader” bookmarklet on the same page, which lets you share items from a webpage with your followers in Google Reader with one click.

For more lists, how-tos and other resources on this topic, check out Mashable Explore!

More About: feed, Google, google reader, how to, News, rss, social media

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May 19 2011

8 Gmail Labs Features To Boost Your Productivity

Gmail’s “Labs” features, brought to you by the experiments of Google staffers, is one of our favorite parts of the webmail service.

While some Labs features, such as the great Mail “Beer” Goggles are fun, others can seriously up your productivity levels with time-saving shortcuts, clever tricks and useful add-ons.

To activate Gmail Labs features and choose the ones you’d like to use, click the settings icon in the top right-hand corner of Gmail and select Labs.

We’re highlighting eight great Labs options that will speed up your Gmail experience. Check out the gallery below, and if you’re looking for some “vanilla” Gmail tips, tricks and shortcuts, we’ve got you covered there, too.

1. Google Search

You can already search Google from Gmail, but this option shows search results inside your mail window. It's great for quick reference while you're composing emails. Activating this Labs feature creates a small Google search box on the left of your screen while the results are shown in a pop-up on the bottom right.

2. Canned Responses

Described as "email for the truly lazy," this is a mega time-saver. If you find yourself typing the same kind of email response time and time again, you can save it down to be pasted into an email body with just a few clicks.

3. Calendar Gadget & Google Docs Gadget

Simple but useful, this adds a mini Google Calendar on the left-hand side of your screen, allowing you to see upcoming events at-a-glance, and saving you from loading the full-fat Calendar. A similar option is also available for Google Docs.

4. Message Sneak Peak

Activate this and you can preview an email by right-clicking on it, saving tons of time loading an entire message that you don't need to read.

5. Title Tweaks

This will save you from clicking on your Gmail tab to see if you have new mail. It changes the order of the characters in the page's title from Gmail - Inbox (20) - you@gmail.com to Inbox (20) - you@gmail.com - Gmail. This means the unread message count is more visible, even if you're working with many browser tabs open.

6. Mouse Gestures

This is a great one for Windows users, and will save you time if you get the hang of it. Holding down right-click and moving the mouse to the left will take you to a previous conversation, moving it to the right to go to the next conversation, and moving it up will take you back to the inbox.

7. Quick Links

This is yet another ace feature, especially for anyone who often searches for particular parameters in Gmail. Quick Links adds a box to the left of your screen in which you can create one-click searches. It's also helpful for seeing only your unread inbox messages. Search for label:unread label:inbox and make it a Quick Link for easy access. You'll wonder how you ever lived without this handy feature.

8. Background Send

Finally, another simple but effective feature can be found in Background Send. As the title suggests, it sends your mails in the background, returning you to your inbox a lot faster so you can tackle the next task on your list without slowing down.

More About: email, gmail, gmail labs, Google, software, tips and tricks

For more Social Media coverage:

May 08 2011

February 19 2011

December 28 2010

The History of Tech via Google’s Book Data [CHARTS]

Since Google released its searchable word frequency database this month, it’s been used to consider everything from race in the 20th century to the classic chicken vs. egg debate.

The Books Ngram Viewer pulls together data from almost 5.2 million digitized books that were written between 1500 and 2008. Users can search for words and short phrases to see how often and when they appeared throughout history.

As many a linguist has pointed out, word frequency doesn’t necessarily reflect culture. But that didn’t stop us from playing around with what is possibly the most addicting nerd tool of the year to map out a brief history of tech.

Technology = Computer

You would think there would be a "technology" spike around mainstream electricity use, but it looks like "technology" only started getting the word usage it deserves in the computer age.

Television, Radio, and the Internet

It seems that television didn't so much kill the radio star as it did bring him to about its level.


Personally, I am devastated that the robot discussion peak appears to have passed.

Hardware and Software

People write more about programs than the machines they run on.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates

Literature loves Bill.

Apple vs. Microsoft

Ngram is case sensitive, so sentences that start with "apple" could be included in what we read as the computer company's name.

Operating Systems

How many years before we write about Windows and Linux with equal frequency?

Browser Wars

Literature references seem to reflect market share, though Safari did get a bit of a boost from its homonym.

Web Portals and Search Engines

Before Google, search engines usually existed within web portals like Yahoo. Yahoo actually used Google search results until 2004.

Social Media

Books started to discuss social media around the same time as Twitter.

Cat vs. Dog

The Internet may love cats, but it looks like authors of non-digital content prefer to talk about dogs.

More Tech Resources from Mashable:

- 11 Astounding Sci-Fi Predictions That Came True
- 8 Educational Gadgets That Make Learning Fun
- 10 Cool Tech Toys for Kids [PICS]
- HOW TO: Get Started With Your New Roku Player
- 5 Predictions for Online Data in 2011

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, FreezeFrameStudio

More About: books, charts, Google, google books, graphs, history, List, Lists, Ngram, tech

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September 24 2010

10 Dead Simple Gmail Tips, Tricks & Shortcuts

Gmail Stamp Image

Gmail can be tweaked almost endlessly with various Firefox and Chrome extensions, and offers some pretty nifty Labs options too. However, we’ve taken a look at some simple tips, tricks, tweaks and shortcuts you can use without going down the plugin or experimental route.

These 10 features will help you get so much more out of the webmail service, from an enhanced chat experience, to smarter filters, to offline access.

Have a read through now and let us know any neat Gmail hints you’d like to share in the comments box below.

1. Add Emphasis in Chat

Gmail’s instant messaging Chat function is one of the more basic options around, but there are a few bits of formatting you can use to add nuance to your online communication.

To bold a word, asterisk it like this: *Mashable*

To add italics, just underscore before and after the word like this: _Mashable_

And to strike a word through, add hyphens before and after like so: -Mashable-

2. Customize Your Web Clips

You’ve no doubt noticed the “Web Clips” line of text that appears above your Gmail inbox which contains news, blog posts, ads and other info. But did you know you can personalize it to make it more relevant to you?

Simply go to “Settings” on the top right of your screen and select the “Web Clips” tab. From there, you can search, browse from the categories, and add and remove items to your heart’s content.

3. Create Variations of Your E-mail Address

Although technically you only have one Gmail address, you can create as many variations of it as you wish to help manage your incoming mail.

You can do this by adding a word after your name with a plus sign (if the site you’re entering the address into allows it). So, yourname+newsletters@gmail.com, yourname+shopping@gmail.com, and so on.

This alias system then comes into its own if you also set up filters to direct those messages where you want them. For example, they could skip the inbox and be archived, have a label applied, be forwarded to another account, and so on.

To set up a filter, go to “Settings,” hit the “Filters” tab, select “Create New Filter” and follow the simple steps from there.

4. Access Gmail When You’re Offline

This is a useful option for anyone on the go, as it allows you to access your Gmail account when you’re not connected to the web. You can search, read and compose e-mails when you’re not in a Wi-Fi zone, and Gmail will simply auto-update (and send/receive any new mail) when you next reconnect.

To set up your Gmail to be available when you’re offline, you have to download Google Gears, but it’s a simple process from within Gmail. Head over to your “Settings” menu, hit the “Offline” tab, and check the option to “Enable Offline Mail for this computer.”

Once you save the changes, Gmail will auto-prompt you through the process and even gives you the option to create a desktop shortcut for quick access to Gmail when offline.

5. Chat Off the Record

Gmail handily saves your chat history for conversations with other Gmail users and makes them searchable too (use the search term “is:chat” to look for a keyword term). But there might be times you want to chat and not have it recorded.

To chat “off the record,” open a chat window with whom you want to talk, click on the “Actions” drop down menu and select “Go off the record.” The person you’re chatting with will be notified of this change, and you can go back on the record in the same way.

6. Get New Mail Desktop Notifications

Gmail offers a free Notifier as a quick download that will alert you with a visual pop-up and audio cue when new mail has arrived, even if you don’t have Gmail open in a browser.

It automatically checks for new mail every two minutes, with the icons changing to show unread mail in case you miss the notification. The app is available for both Windows PCs and Macs. It should be noted that downloading this will also make Gmail your default e-mail program, which you might need to consider if you don’t want this to be case.

7. Use Gmail’s Advanced Search Operators

While Gmail’s keyword search works well enough for basic queries, there are some advanced options that can help refine your process.

For example, entering to:me is:unread in:inbox will bring up any unread mails in your inbox. Entering has:attachment will show you a list of e-mails with files attached, and after: 20/08/2010 before: 25/08/2010 will offer up a list of messages from that specific time period.

You can view the major search operators over at the Gmail support site — it’s well worth memorizing a few.

8. Improve Gmail Priority Inbox

Gmail’s “Priority Inbox” functions by highlighting what it considers your most important mail, and has launched to positive feedback. But you can improve it as time goes on.

In order to help Gmail better recognize what really is important (and conversely, what isn’t), simply select an e-mail message and hit the little plus or minus arrows at the top of your inbox.

9. Find Out if a Message Was Sent Just to You

Useful for prioritizing replies if nothing else, there’s a setting in Gmail that will enable you to see if a message has been sent just to you, or a mailing list.

To activate it, go to “Settings,” then scroll down to “Personal level indicators” and select “Show indicators.” This will now mean that every message in your mailbox shows how many recipients there were at a glance.

No arrows will show if the message was sent to a mailing list, “>” shows up when the message was sent to you and others, and “>>” indicates the message was sent to just you.

10. Play a Gmail-Inspired Game

And finally, on a lighthearted note, did you know there is a free online game you can play that’s inspired by Gmail?

“Galactic Inbox” was created by Paul Truong, a creative technologist “in part, as a ‘thank you’ to the Gmail team for their ongoing work to improve the webmail galaxy.” If you want to show the gTeam some love too, then hop on over and have a play!

More Gmail Resources from Mashable

- 5 Great Unofficial Gmail Themes
- HOW TO: Undo “Send” in Gmail
- 5 Ways to Spice Up Your Gmail Signature
- Gmail Priority Inbox: 5 Tips for Better Productivity
- HOW TO: Give Your Inbox a Master Cleanse

Reviews: Gmail, Gmail Notifier, Mashable

More About: e-mail, email, gmail, Google, how to, inbox, List, Lists, productivity, Productivity Lists, shortcuts, tips, tricks

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August 22 2010

7 Cool Chrome Extensions for Twitter

Chrome Twitter Image

We all know Chrome is fast, but can it also be social? We’ve already brought you a list of social media extensions for Google’s Chrome browser, but here we set our sights on extensions designed specifically for Twitter.

We’ve scoured Chrome’s extensions listings and found seven free tools that we think are worth the install for anyone who uses Twitter’s web interface.

From extensions that will help you be more productive, to those that will just let you have more fun, check out our list below and let us know about any Twitter-related Chrome plug-ins that you use in the comments.

1. Twitter Share This Page

If you want a super-quick way of sharing a URL on Twitter, you can’t go wrong with the “Twitter Share This Page” extension.

Once installed, all you have to do — when you are on the page you want to share — is hit the blue “t” icon (which appears on the right-hand side of your browser bar) and the extension will load the relevant URL in your “What’s happening?” Twitter box.

If you want the link shortened, right click on the “t” icon and select the shortening option. All shared links will be pre-shrunk using Bit.ly.

2. Twitter Extender

Khaled Musaied’s “Twitter Extender” also offers tidy Bit.ly URL shortening abilities with an “add URL” option inserted just below the “What’s happening” box.

There are a ton of other enhancements offered by the extension, including old-style retweeting abilities, “reply to all” functionality, quicker direct messaging and the option to load previous tweets if the tweet is a reply.

3. TwitterWatch – Real Time Twitter Update

This tool is very useful for anyone wanting a lightweight way to watch keywords and topics, especially if they are topical memes.

Installing it will place a little blue “t” button on the right-hand side of your browser bar, which, when clicked, lets you manage your keyword phrases.

Once you’ve set up the words you want watched, a tiny number will appear on the “t” letting you know how many mentions the word has racked up. Clicking it again will let you see the mentions in full.

4. Twitter Refresh

You can make Twitter streams — whether they are your homepage stream or a search stream — refresh automatically. Tweets pour fluidly down the page, saving you from having to bother with the “X new tweets” clickable bar.

5. Twitter Creation Date

This is a fun one. Other than pure nosiness, the only real reason we could see for anyone needing this data is journalistic/research purposes. Usefulness aside, this extension will let you see the date that any user joined the micro-blogging service.

6. Twitter Photo Zoom

Ideal for the lazy Twitterer, Twitter Photo Zoom will super-size anyone’s avatar from the home screen or sidebar lists when you run your cursor over the thumbnail.

7. Twitter Symbols

Use this extension if you want to spice up your tweets with unusual symbols like stars, check marks and the like. If they’re supported by the browsers and systems on the reader’s end, they’ll appear in your tweets normally, and you won’t have to memorize any unusual codes or load up a character map outside the browser to make it happen.

More Startup Resources from Mashable:

- 5 Startup Tips From the Father of Gmail and FriendFeed
- 20 of the Best Resources to Get Your Startup Off the Ground
- 6 Ways to Recruit Talent for Startups
- 5 Lessons to Learn from Web Startups
- 40+ Essential Social Business Resource

More About: browser add on, chrome, Chrome Extensions, extensions, google chrome, twitter, twitter apps, twitter tools, web apps

For more Social Media coverage:

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