Archives for May 2007

Google Developer Day

I’m late to talk about this one, but today is Google Developer Day. It’s wild that thousands of developers are converging in Mountain View alone, and Google is doing presentations in 10 cities around the world. The Mountain View sessions are being held in the San Jose Convention Center, and you can see the full schedule here. If you’re reading this post, you’re probably not at the event though, so you’ll want to check out the streaming webcasts.

There’s a bunch to talk about, too. There’s a new version of the Google Web Toolkit, which lets you program in Java and then convert your code to AJAX/JavaScript for free. Even more fun is Google Gears. Google Gears is a plug-in that lets online web apps store data locally, and that lets you do neat things like an offline version of Googler Reader (which I’ll be trying out when I fly up to SMX Seattle soon). πŸ™‚

By the way, note that the Google Gears blog post is by Aaron Boodman and another Googler. That name might sound familiar. Aaron Boodman is the guy that did Greasemonkey, which (in my opinion) is one of the most wicked-cool Firefox extensions in the world. Aaron and several other Googlers are providing Google Gears under an open-source license. They’ll be collecting feedback from across the web (plus companies like Adobe) to try to make Google Gears an open standard that any web app can use.

Kudos to the folks that organized and will speak at Developer Day, the Google Reader team for putting together an offline version of Reader, and especially the Google Gears folks for making some really useful code and releasing it with an open-source license. There’s a ton of other great sessions today too, from Patrick Riley talking about Custom Search Engines to Jeff Dean talking about Google’s infrastructure (including MapReduce, the Google File System, and BigTable). Good stuff.

Back in town; one more week of vacation

I hope everyone in the U.S. is having a safe Memorial Day. My wife and I were out of town last week and got back on Friday. A couple people on my 2007 vacation suggestions page mentioned Mexico, and that’s where we decided to go. We found a resort in Los Cabos on the Baja peninsula and just relaxed down there for a week by the beach. The weather was perfect for reading summer books. Here’s the view (my wife took this picture):

Los Cabos

When I look at my personal Google Reader trends page I can see where I’ve been reading fewer feed items during May, and then no feeds at all last week, followed by a couple catch-up days:

Recent feed reading

I’m still on vacation this week. The first work-related thing I’ll do is talk with webmasters for SMX Seattle 2007 next week. I’ve never been to Seattle/Kirkland/Redmond/Bellevue before, so I may try to go up a little early and see the Google office up there. I’d love to see where the Google webmaster console magic happens. πŸ™‚

Now we’re talking..

I’m starting to relax a bit more. The books are rolling in from Amazon..

Amazon books

So far I’ve enjoyed Daemon the most, but I’m only a few books in. πŸ™‚

How Google handles malware: a historical overview

Normally I like Nick Carr a lot, but the headline on his most recent article (“Google preparing to police web”) didn’t strike me as accurate. If Nick needs some background on how Google handles urls that potentially spread malware, maybe other people would benefit as well. I dropped a comment on Nick’s post that I’ll echo here, with minor edits and more hyperlinks:

(Disclosure: I’m a software engineer at Google.)

Nick, I normally love your posts, but your headline (“Google preparing to police web”) isn’t very accurate, because we’ve been tackling malware for quite a while. Here’s some historical context.

Almost exactly a year ago, Google and other search engines were raked over the coals for exactly the opposite reason: allowing users to get infected with malware from search engine results. See
for more background. At the time, we were already anticipating the issue and had added “Don’t create pages that install viruses, trojans, or other badware.” to our webmaster guidelines.

Google’s response when we believed malware was present was to warn the user via an interstitial when they clicked on a search result that might infect their computer. See
for an example post about this process and how to appeal it if you have removed the malware or believe there was an error.

Users liked the malware protection a lot, so we added some annotation to listings for sites that could potentially infect a machine. See
for more info.

Of course, it’s important to help regular webmasters who might have been hacked and not even know that they were infecting their users. To that effect, we added sample urls with suspected malware to our webmaster console. See
for more details.

I’ve highlighted Niels Provos‘ fantastic work on my blog before, but Provos also provides free tools at to help webmasters scan their own sites for malware.

All in all, I think Google does a pretty good job of protecting users from getting infected, while at the same time providing tools that assist webmasters in detecting and correcting hacked urls that could spread malware. Certainly compared to other search engines I think we provide more notice to users about potential malware urls, and we provide more info to webmasters about potentially hacked urls. So I think Google’s response to this issue balances the needs of users and webmasters pretty well.

I hope that helps give a little more context and historical background. Certainly I’ve seen emails from both sides of this issue, but I think Google strikes a pretty good balance.

Update: I forgot to mention that once you have all this historical background, then you’ll enjoy reading the USENIX paper “Ghost in the Browser” by Niels Provos and several other Googlers. It’s got a lot of useful information for people interested in malware.

I’m feeling vacation-y

(Also marking this one as a Google post so people don’t wonder where I went.)

Technically my vacation started a few days ago (I’ve already been in Kentucky for a while catching up with family), but I wanted to let folks know that I’ll be posting less for a few weeks. Last year I didn’t blog at all for a month; this time I intend to blog 2-3 times if something sounds like fun to discuss.

If you want a Matt fix, there’s a few choices:

– While I was in London a few months ago, I sat down at the London Googleplex (Londonplex?) for an interview with Mark Buckingham for .net Magazine. The issue just came out, and there’s a lot of Google goodness in there:
Cover of .net magazine
There’s an interview with Chris DiBona, he of the Summer of Code and other open-source goodness. And Thai Tran about Google Maps. And Vanessa Fox about Webmaster Central. Plus I’ve read the interview/article about SEO, and I think it’s quite good:
Interview with .net magazine
It’s a very solid 5-6 page introduction to SEO. I believe the magazine is sold in the U.S. as Practical Web Design.
– You might have missed this one, but I did an SEO interview with Zac, a Chinese SEO/search blogger. The most fun part of this was that I did this interview jointly with Jianfei Zhu, a member of my team and a top engineer on Chinese webspam. By the way, Jianfei will be speaking at SES China later in May.
– I’ll be attending SMX in Seattle on June 4-5th, including a “You&A” session that is nothing but questions and answers:

What’s a You&A? That’s where you, the audience, put your questions directly to the head of Google’s web spam team, Matt Cutts. As an engineer in search quality, Matt’s been dealing with webmaster issues for Google since 2000 and is well known to many advanced search marketers from his blog and public speaking.

I may be a little out-of-touch after not reading feeds for a few weeks, but I’ll try to answer the questions as best I can. I think the conference will be fun (I’ve never been to Seattle! Bad Matt!), but if you can’t make it, I’m sure it’ll get live-blogged.

That’s all I can think of for now, but if something else comes to me, I’ll add it here. πŸ™‚

Update: One more Matt fix if you care. I’m getting on a plane, so I haven’t read the article yet.