Archives for May 2010

Call for spam reports in five languages

I recently returned from a vacation to Japan, Hong Kong, and Thailand. It was a ton of fun and I hope to blog about it at some point — each country was of course unique and each offered different, wonderful experiences. From the cherry blossoms and the kindness shown to me by my colleagues at the Google Tokyo office in Japan, to the hustle and bustle and skyscrapers of Hong Kong, to the beautiful landscapes, people (and elephants!) of Thailand, I relished every minute. The trip also redoubled my interest in webspam in world-wide languages. 🙂

Google has always cared about search quality in dozens of languages, not just English. We’re trying a new experiment in webspam: we decided to identify five languages where we’d really like to drill down into webspam, solicit spam reports in those languages, and pay even more attention to spam reports in those languages over the next couple months. If you know of spam in these languages, we’d especially like to hear about it.

The five languages where we’re asking for spam reports are Thai, Indonesian, Romanian, Czech, and Farsi. Of course, we always welcome webspam reports — in any language! — at but we’d be especially interested to hear about spam in Thai, Indonesian, Romanian, Czech, and Farsi. If you know of webspam in those languages, please let us know, and thanks!

Clean up extra url parameters when searching Google

You know when you do a Google search and get all those extra url parameters that crowd things up? “ie” and “hl” and so on? I hate that, because I often copy and email Google urls, and I try to clean up the url by removing all those extra params each time.

You can fix this annoyance in Chrome. Right-click on the address bar and select “Edit Search Engines…” (You can also edit the search engines via the Options menu.) You can either edit the Google option or add a new entry; I added a new entry. Added: you can’t edit the entry for Google, so you have to make a new entry. I set the URL field to be “{google:baseURL}search?q=%s” (without the quotes).

Now when you search for [flowers] the url is just . Ah, nice clean urls in the browser bar. 🙂

Update: Chrome expert and fellow Googler Peter Kasting points out in the comments that “Doing this results in no more NavSuggest or Search Suggest in the omnibox dropdown — a real quality loss. NavSuggest especially is extremely valuable.” Peter has a good point: search suggestions can be very helpful. It’s up to you to decide whether you prefer search suggestions or a clean Google url. For most people who don’t cut-and-paste Google urls all day long, it’s probably better to stick with the default search option that gives you search suggestions.

39 Android Apps that I love

Here are the Android Apps that I currently love. It’s not a complete list, but it’s a pretty good start.

Music and sound apps

Apps for when you’re traveling

  • TripIt: keep track of trips and plane flights for upcoming travel
  • Google Translate: translate tons of languages into tons of other languages. You can also do voice-recognition-to-text for English, then translate. This app will even do text-to-speech (voice synthesis) in many languages such as French, Spanish, Italian, and German.
  • Yelp: Find great restaurants nearby. Pro tip: scan the reviews to discover good dishes to order.
  • Compass: also handy when you’re traveling

Social apps

  • Twitter: official Twitter app for Android. This app can take empty/missing pictures in your contacts and populate your contacts’ pictures with their Twitter profile pictures, which is nice.
  • Seesmic: another fantastic Twitter app for Android
  • Google Buzz widget: an easy way to post to Buzz from your phone. By the way, I’ve noticed myself using Buzz more and more recently. When I started on Twitter, it took me several months to warm to the service. I think the same principle applies to Buzz. Buzz fills a nice niche between Twitter (microblogging) and regular blogging. It’s great when you want to throw out one quick idea, but you need more than 140 characters. You can read my Buzzes (or follow me on Buzz) if you want.

Cool demos / showing off

  • Google Skymap: move your phone to see where stars are. Like augmented reality for the sky.
  • Tricorder: shows all the different sensor readings of your phone. Includes accelerometer and tilt sensors, GPS and lat/lon, wifi, cell phone strength, compass, acoustic data–even solar activity.
  • Metal Detector: an app that detects metal. I still don’t know how it works (maybe it uses the magnetometer sensor that allows the compass), but it actually does work on many types of metal
  • Google Earth: most of the eye candy of Google Earth, but on your phone
  • LED Scroller: enter a message and your phone turns into a faux LED scrolling sign. Kinda low-tech, but impresses people more than I expected.
  • Hypnotic Spiral: makes a swirling spiral that you can control
  • The Schwartz Unsheathed: a light sword that makes cool sounds as you move your phone.

Signal strength apps

  • Wifi Analyzer: walk around and see a dynamic graph of wifi signal strength. Great for picking the right place to sit in an airport or cafe to get the best wifi signal
  • Antennas: shows a Google map with nearby antennas on it. Good for monitoring your phone’s signal strength
  • RF Signal Tracker (two versions, Donut and Eclair): another app to measure cell phone tower signal strength

QR Code and Barcode apps

  • Key Ring: scan your loyalty and other membership cards (e.g. Safeway, or your gym). Then use this app instead of carrying a bunch of membership cards around. I wish my phone could replace everything in my wallet.
  • App Referrer: shows all your installed apps. Click on an application and it will generate a large QR barcode on your screen that your friend can scan to install the same app.
  • Barcode Scanner: scan barcodes and QR codes. Very handy to install applications and visit urls. Note that the “Barcode Scanner” app (like App Referrer) can also show QR codes for applications — just press the options button. Can also show QR codes for contacts, bookmarks, and the clipboard.

Core apps / misc

  • My Tracks: records where you go using GPS and lets you upload a “track” to Google Maps
  • Navigation: get turn-by-turn directions as you drive
  • Movies: check movie times and see ratings from critics vs. audiences
  • Wheres My Droid: If you lose your phone and it’s in silent mode, this app will help you find your phone. I’ve tried Mobile Defense and that’s also very nice.
  • WordPress: Upload images and blog from your phone
  • mobile shopping, plus add things to your Amazon wishlist
  • Shopper: Google app to scan barcodes and show product search results
  • BBC News: see the latest in world news. This is an unofficial widget.
  • News and Weather: customizable news, plus this app shows weather in your current location. Wish I could enter 3-4 cities and flick between weather reports though.
  • Weather: see the weather in multiple cities
  • Google Finance: check stock prices and news
  • Google Maps: see where you are

Google also offers a lot of mobile apps, but I just wanted to highlight my favorite applications.

Okay, those are my favorite Android apps, but what did I miss? Which Android Apps do you love?