Google Building In Iowa

I flipped on the TV when I woke up yesterday to watch the news on KCCI like I always do. I caught the very end of a piece about Google building two facilities in Iowa. I didn’t believe my ears at first, I just assumed they were looking at Iowa as an option for building.

I got into work and went to the KCCI website. Sure enough, right on the front page was a story titled “Some Not Surprised By Google’s Move”. It was the top story of the day at the time. Here’s some of the article from the KCCI website:

DES MOINES, Iowa — It has been a well-kept secret until Tuesday.

Google Inc. is setting up shop in Iowa. The question is why.

The state’s reputation as a great place to live and work could have played a big role.

” I would like to begin with these four words: Google welcome to Iowa,” said Gov. Chet Culver in a news conference Tuesday in Council Bluffs.

The economic impact is predicted to be huge.

Google will invest $600 million in two new facilities, including a data center that is under construction in Council Bluffs.

The 1,100-acre site will house a data farm. The 200 news jobs are forecast to add up to $10 million a year to the state’s economy.

Google has a page dedicated to the Council Bluffs data center and there’s also a nice FAQ.

Google is currently taking applications for employees in the Council Bluffs data center. Needless to say, my resume will be on its way to them shortly, this position really caught my eye. Too bad I don’t have a degree of any sort, I’ll probably be overlooked for that reason alone.

Google Calendar Gets Tasks

Sort of. I read this over on Ajaxian yesterday but didn’t get a chance to check it out until this morning. The folks over at Remember The Milk have taken notice of the fact that a great number of their users are using Google Calendar to keep track of events, while continuing to use Remember The Milk for daily tasks. So, the fine people at Remember The Milk have come out with Remember The Milk for Google Calendar:

We know that many of you are managing your tasks with Remember The Milk and your events with Google Calendar, and we thought it would be very cool if we could bring the two together. This new feature adds a small task icon to the top of each day in Google Calendar — click on the icon to:

  • Review your tasks for the day
  • Add new tasks and edit existing ones
  • Easily complete and postpone tasks
  • Review your overdue tasks
  • Optionally show tasks with no due date
  • See where your tasks are located on a map

This exciting for me. I’ve been waiting on Google to add official tasks to Google Calendar, but this will suffice. Actually, I like this because I really enjoy using Remember The Milk, and would like to continue using it. Looks like I’ll be able to keep using it indefinitely now that RTM has support for Google Calendar. Yay!!

Standard Sitemaps From Google, Yahoo and Microsoft

Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft have all agreed on a standard specification for sitemap files. Information about the new standard can be found over at sitemaps.org. If you’re not sure what a sitemap is, sitemaps.org has a nice explanation:

Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.


Fortunately for me, there’s really nothing I have to do to take advantage of this new spec. I’ve had a sitemap file for quite a while, and it gets updated dynamically with every new post I make. My sitemap xml file is quite large.

Joseph Scott brings up an important aspect of this new spec, pinging. Pinging basically means that when you make an update to your blog or site, you can ping Google/Yahoo/MSN to let them know you’ve made an update. That way they can crawl your site sooner to index your new content. Pretty neat.

Build Your Own Google Search

Google has launched the Google Custom Search Engine. This new service will allow users to build a search engine based on their interests or just whatever really.

You can give your search engine a name and description. You can also enter a list of keyword that will be used to tune your search engine results. You can also set specific sites to search, so only those sites defined are searched. Here’s a bit from the Google Blog:

We’re thrilled to tell you that the search for your own search engine is over. Today we are launching the Google Custom Search Engine. As you might imagine, it’s a simple and straightforward product to use and understand. In a matter of minutes you can create a search engine that reflects your knowledge and interests; looks and feels like your own; and, if you choose, you can make money from the traffic you receive through Google’s AdSense program. You can even invite your friends and trusted community members to add to and help build your search engine.

RealClimate has already built this new service into their website. So, head over there if you want to see the thing in action. That site actually worked with Google previous to the launch of Google Custom Search Engine so they could get a nice demonstration put together by the launch day.

Send Your Tag Archives To Google Sitemaps

Do you use Ultimate Tag Warrior WordPress plugin to tag your posts? What about the Google Sitemaps plugin for sending google a copy of your sitemap?

If you use Ultimate Tag Warrior, as I do, you can get archive pages based off tags. For example, my wordpress tag page shows all posts tagged with “wordpress”. Simple enough.

Now, the Google Sitemaps plugin generates a sitemap of your site for submission to Google Sitemaps. The plugin will include categories, individual posts, static pages, and archives in the sitemap file it creates. However, it leaves out tag archives. This is simply due to the fact that the Google Sitemaps plugin author probably doesn’t use Ultimate Tag Warrior.

There’s some good information contained within tag archive pages, so we should probably be letting google know about them. We basically need to make the Google Sitemaps plugin recognize and make use of the tag archives. To do this, we need the Google Sitemaps – UltimateTagWarrior Tag Addon, a plugin for WordPress. Here’s the plugin description:

This plugin is a WordPress 2.0.4 plugin that automatically adds the UltimateTagWarrior tags onto the end of the google sitemap XML file as produced by the Google Sitemap plugin.

The plugin does exactly that, and nothing more. It simply generates a sitemap for your tag pages and appends that data to the end of the sitemap file created by the Google Sitemaps plugin. That’s all that’s required to include your tag pages in your sitemap file for sending to Google.

Please note that the Google Sitemaps – UltimateTagWarrior Tag Addon plugin requires version 2.0.4 of WordPress. Hopefully the author will update the plugin to support the upcoming WordPress 2.0.5.