Foundation: Nest’s Tony Fadell on the Power of Focus

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As part of our annual Google Ventures CEO Summit, Nest founder and CEO Tony Fadell and I filmed a live Foundation episode in November in front of a few hundred startup founders in the GV portfolio. Tony told stories about his entrepreneurial roots as a kid selling eggs door to door, his experiences at Apple, angel investing and what the future looks like for the connected home.

Tony is a remarkable leader, and the news that Google plans to acquire Nest is a testament that leadership, as well as to his excellent team focus his team.

Tony’s advice on how to stay focused:

I learned the power of ‘no.’ No is really important. Entrepreneurs are told to say ‘yes, yes, more, more.’ To help you focus, to help you really understand what you’re doing, you have to say no a lot. When you say yes to everything, you get distracted. When you say no, you have to get the one thing you’re doing really right.

Kevin Rose is a general partner at Google Ventures. You can watch Kevin’s prior Foundation episode, an interview with Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong, here.


Report: Facebook’s News Reader May Debut in January

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Facebook is close to unveiling its long-awaited news reading service, and the product could be launched by the end of the month, according to Re/Code

The service, which is called "Paper," will reportedly operate in a manner similar to Flipboard, a news aggregator that pulls in social updates alongside news stories from publications of interest to the user. Paper will definitely incorporate Facebook posts, according to Re/Code

It is still unclear whether Paper will exist as a standalone app or in some other format. A Facebook spokesperson declined to offer more details, saying, "We do not comment on rumors and speculation." Read more...

More about Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, Paper, News Reader, and Social Media

Google’s New Plug-In For WordPress Makes Webmaster Tools Verification And Placing AdSense Ads Easy

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Google today launched a plug-in for self-hosted WordPress blogs in public beta that makes adding AdSense ads to websites easier and makes verifying a site with Webmaster Tools a single-click process.

Given that WordPress now powers more than 20 percent of websites, it’s no surprise that Google has decided to take WordPress very seriously. Despite its legacy as a blogging platform, WordPress is mostly used as a content management system that, thanks to its extensibility, can cater to virtually every need.

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While it seems like Google is planning to add more functionality to the plug-in over time, the current version is still pretty limited. Besides the Webmaster Tools verification (which saves you the usual steps of copying and pasting code snippets into your WordPress templates), it only offers the ability to easily place ads on your site.

With so many WordPress websites on the market, the company clearly wants to make sure its main source of income is available on as many of these as possible. Given the wide variety of WordPress templates, however, chances are this won’t work with every site. Google acknowledges as much and says that it is “still fine-tuning the plugin to make sure it works well on the many WordPress sites out there.”

To get started with this tool, all users have to open the plug-in and then select if they want to see a preview of their site’s homepage, or of a single page or post. Google automatically places markers on the screen for spots where ads would fit, and all a user has to do is select one of these spots to start service ads there.

The service currently supports four ad formats: automatic (which chooses the most appropriate size), horizontal banner (728×90), vertical banner (160×600) and rectangle (300×250).

screenshot-2


Google’s New Plug-In For WordPress Makes Webmaster Tools Verification And Placing AdSense Ads Easy

banner-772x250

Google today launched a plug-in for self-hosted WordPress blogs in public beta that makes adding AdSense ads to websites easier and makes verifying a site with Webmaster Tools a single-click process.

Given that WordPress now powers more than 20 percent of websites, it’s no surprise that Google has decided to take WordPress very seriously. Despite its legacy as a blogging platform, WordPress is mostly used as a content management system that, thanks to its extensibility, can cater to virtually every need.

screenshot-1

While it seems like Google is planning to add more functionality to the plug-in over time, the current version is still pretty limited. Besides the Webmaster Tools verification (which saves you the usual steps of copying and pasting code snippets into your WordPress templates), it only offers the ability to easily place ads on your site.

With so many WordPress websites on the market, the company clearly wants to make sure its main source of income is available on as many of these as possible. Given the wide variety of WordPress templates, however, chances are this won’t work with every site. Google acknowledges as much and says that it is “still fine-tuning the plugin to make sure it works well on the many WordPress sites out there.”

To get started with this tool, all users have to open the plug-in and then select if they want to see a preview of their site’s homepage, or of a single page or post. Google automatically places markers on the screen for spots where ads would fit, and all a user has to do is select one of these spots to start service ads there.

The service currently supports four ad formats: automatic (which chooses the most appropriate size), horizontal banner (728×90), vertical banner (160×600) and rectangle (300×250).

screenshot-2


Google Adds Optional Data Compression Feature To Chrome For Mobile, Reducing Your Data Usage By Up To 50%

datasavingsduo_v3

Google today is officially announcing the release of a data compression feature for its Chrome mobile web browser which allows you to reduce your data usage on smartphones and tablets, potentially saving you money on your monthly cell phone bill or data plan. The feature is one of several new additions coming to Chrome’s mobile browser, which also sees the inclusion of Google Translate on iOS, support for Application shortcuts for favorite websites on Android, and other fixes.

The data compression feature, however, is the highlight of this forthcoming release. When enabled, it will also include Chrome’s Safe Browsing technology to protect against malicious webpages. Google says the feature will roll out via app updates on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store over the next few days.

You may recall that Google first began testing the then-experimental data compression feature on Android last March through the Chrome Beta for Android application, and then later expanded those tests to iOS in the fall.

The optional feature, essentially a Google proxy, routes web requests through Google’s servers where the company’s PageSpeed libraries compress and optimize the content. Meanwhile, the actual connection between the browser and Google’s servers is handled by the SPDY protocol for further optimization.

photo-ipad-chrome-compression

Whether you’re interested in the backend technologies or not, the savings Google claims to achieve through this configuration are notable. When switched on, Chrome’s data compression and bandwidth management feature can reduce data usage by up to 50%, Google says, on both Chrome for Android and Chrome for iOS. As noted earlier, even just using the PageSpeed libraries to transcode images to Google’s WebP format instead of JPEG or PNG makes a big difference, because 60% of all transferred bytes on the average webpage are images.

Mobile data compression is not a new idea, of course – for instance, Opera’s Turbo mode for its mobile browser offers a similar capability, as does Amazon Silk. Meanwhile, Google rival Facebook acquired Onavo this October, a mobile data analytics company offering consumer-facing apps (Onavo Extend) that help users optimize their devices to get more out of their data plans. In other words, Google is not alone in releasing the pressing need for users to get more out of their data plans, without being smacked with high usage bills. And keeping consumers online longer is Google’s overarching objective here.

Chrome Data Compression & Privacy

One thing to be aware of is that by turning this feature on – which is done by visiting “Settings” > “Bandwidth management” > “Reduce data usage” in the application – you’re agreeing to route all your HTTP traffic through Google’s proxy servers. (The feature is disabled for HTTPS and “Incognito” mode traffic, though).spdy_proxy_google

This is concerning for some users, now more sensitive to potential privacy issues. But Google has said previously that while requests are logged, headers and cookies are stripped out, and the webpage content is cached, but not logged. Most importantly, Google says the logs are not associated with your Google account and the entire log entry is removed within six months. These details were noted in a Chrome privacy whitepaper last updated in November. Still, when the feature goes live, it will be worth keeping an eye on potential privacy policies changes…just in case.

Other Additions

nexus5_africabloghomescreenThe updated apps bring a couple of other interesting additions, too. Another feature arriving on iOS is support for Google Translate in the browser – a feature which Android and desktop users already have access to. This allows you to translate a webpage into your device’s native language.

Meanwhile, Android users will be able to save favorite websites to their homescreen more easily, thanks to a Menu option “Add to homescreen.” Some websites will open up in full-screen mode after doing so, Google also notes in the blog post announcing this release.

To access any of the above options, you’ll need to download the Chrome app, or apply the update, if already installed.


Google Adds Optional Data Compression Feature To Chrome For Mobile, Reducing Your Data Usage By Up To 50%

datasavingsduo_v3

Google today is officially announcing the release of a data compression feature for its Chrome mobile web browser which allows you to reduce your data usage on smartphones and tablets, potentially saving you money on your monthly cell phone bill or data plan. The feature is one of several new additions coming to Chrome’s mobile browser, which also sees the inclusion of Google Translate on iOS, support for Application shortcuts for favorite websites on Android, and other fixes.

The data compression feature, however, is the highlight of this forthcoming release. When enabled, it will also include Chrome’s Safe Browsing technology to protect against malicious webpages. Google says the feature will roll out via app updates on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store over the next few days.

You may recall that Google first began testing the then-experimental data compression feature on Android last March through the Chrome Beta for Android application, and then later expanded those tests to iOS in the fall.

The optional feature, essentially a Google proxy, routes web requests through Google’s servers where the company’s PageSpeed libraries compress and optimize the content. Meanwhile, the actual connection between the browser and Google’s servers is handled by the SPDY protocol for further optimization.

photo-ipad-chrome-compression

Whether you’re interested in the backend technologies or not, the savings Google claims to achieve through this configuration are notable. When switched on, Chrome’s data compression and bandwidth management feature can reduce data usage by up to 50%, Google says, on both Chrome for Android and Chrome for iOS. As noted earlier, even just using the PageSpeed libraries to transcode images to Google’s WebP format instead of JPEG or PNG makes a big difference, because 60% of all transferred bytes on the average webpage are images.

Mobile data compression is not a new idea, of course – for instance, Opera’s Turbo mode for its mobile browser offers a similar capability, as does Amazon Silk. Meanwhile, Google rival Facebook acquired Onavo this October, a mobile data analytics company offering consumer-facing apps (Onavo Extend) that help users optimize their devices to get more out of their data plans. In other words, Google is not alone in releasing the pressing need for users to get more out of their data plans, without being smacked with high usage bills. And keeping consumers online longer is Google’s overarching objective here.

Chrome Data Compression & Privacy

One thing to be aware of is that by turning this feature on – which is done by visiting “Settings” > “Bandwidth management” > “Reduce data usage” in the application – you’re agreeing to route all your HTTP traffic through Google’s proxy servers. (The feature is disabled for HTTPS and “Incognito” mode traffic, though).spdy_proxy_google

This is concerning for some users, now more sensitive to potential privacy issues. But Google has said previously that while requests are logged, headers and cookies are stripped out, and the webpage content is cached, but not logged. Most importantly, Google says the logs are not associated with your Google account and the entire log entry is removed within six months. These details were noted in a Chrome privacy whitepaper last updated in November. Still, when the feature goes live, it will be worth keeping an eye on potential privacy policies changes…just in case.

Other Additions

nexus5_africabloghomescreenThe updated apps bring a couple of other interesting additions, too. Another feature arriving on iOS is support for Google Translate in the browser – a feature which Android and desktop users already have access to. This allows you to translate a webpage into your device’s native language.

Meanwhile, Android users will be able to save favorite websites to their homescreen more easily, thanks to a Menu option “Add to homescreen.” Some websites will open up in full-screen mode after doing so, Google also notes in the blog post announcing this release.

To access any of the above options, you’ll need to download the Chrome app, or apply the update, if already installed.


Zuckerberg on Snapchat: It’s a ‘Super Interesting Privacy Phenomenon’

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised Snapchat for creating a new niche for social media communication, calling it a "super interesting privacy phenomenon."

Zuckerberg made the remarks during an interview with Stanford University President John Hennessy Tuesday night at the school's Palo Alto, Calif., campus. The talk, which was covered in TechCrunch was wide-ranging and touched on a few subjects, including NSA surveillance and the lack of VC funding for multi-billion-dollar public projects

When the discussion turned to Snapchat — a company that Facebook reportedly offered to buy for $3 billion last year — Zuckerberg offered a historical perspective, noting that instant messaging offered a way to communicate between groups and blogs provided a way to share publicly. However, before Facebook, there was nothing in between Read more...

More about Facebook, Business, Startups, Snapchat, and Mark Zuckerbeg

Facebook Makes Inroads in Russia With Yandex Partnership

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Facebook is turning up the heat on its quest for users in Russia.

Russian search engine Yandex will now return public Facebook posts and comments in its search results as part of a partnership announced Tuesday. Yandex announced the partnership Tuesday on its website, and Facebook posts will appear for Yandex users in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey.

The relationship is a big step for Facebook, which competes with a Russian social network called VK, or Vkontakte, a network Mark Zuckerberg called a Facebook "clone" back in October Read more...

More about Search, Facebook, Yandex, Social Media, and World

How the @-Mention Took Over Social Networks

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The "@" symbol used to be just for email. Then it was for Twitter too. Now, it transcends networks.

In 2006, Robert Andersen, then a freelance designer who later joined Square as a founding team member, became the first person on Twitter to use the "@" symbol to reply to another user. Andersen didn't do a proper @-mention as we know it today — a space separated the symbol and the username — but it helped establish a language for communicating that is now commonplace on Twitter.

@ buzz - you broke your thumb and youre still twittering? that's some serious devotion

— Robert Andersen (@rsa) November 3, 2006 Read more...

More about Facebook, Twitter, Marketing, and Social Media

Chrome 32 Launches With Tab Indicators For Sound And Video, Improved Malware Blocking & New Win8 Metro Design

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Google today released the latest stable version of its Chrome browser. Version 32 includes many of the features that recently arrived in the beta channel, including improved malware blocking and tab indicators for when a site is playing sound, accessing the webcam and sending video to your Chromecast. Google uses a speaker icon, blue rectangle and red dot to indicate these different functions.

Those indicators are a godsend for anybody who has ever tried to figure out which tab suddenly started playing music or a video. Google first started playing with this idea in early 2013, but the beta only got this feature in November.

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This new version also includes Google’s new malware blocker, which arrived in the experimental Canary build of Chrome last October. With this, Google will automatically block any downloads its systems have flagged as malware.

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For Windows 8 users, the new version now sports a new look in “Metro” mode (Google still uses that term, even though Microsoft itself has moved away from it and left it rather unclear what the new terminology should be). In Metro mode, Chrome now looks like ChromeOS  with its integrated app launched on Windows. In previous versions, the Metro mode simply presented users with the regular Chrome interface. This never looked quite right, but with this new interface, Google is actually using the Metro mode to its advantage and is basically bringing ChromeOS to Windows.

Also new in this version is support for Chrome’s “supervised users” feature, which is officially still in beta. With this, family members can check on a kid’s browsing history, for example, and set up site restrictions through chrome.com/manage.

As always, this release also includes a good number of security fixes (21 in total), as well as stability and performance updates.


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