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My Google Story

Dropping off my Google badge
Dropping off my Google badge

Dear team and friends,

When I was about 11, I created a Lego greenhouse that grew a real plant. That’s when I first believed that I could create technology that makes a difference in the real world. I came to Google as a level 3 just over 9 years ago to work with the best people in the world to achieve that mission. Being part of programs like YouTube Symphony only confirmed this truth. Four promotions later I hit an EQ brick wall, leading to 2 years of hard self reflection both inside (thanks Take the Lead) and outside Google (thanks INSEAD).

At the end of this period I wrote a thesis with a paediatric surgeon in Singapore. She turned up late to our first group meeting… typical university group work right? Except she was late due to performing a liver transplant on a newborn. I reflected that the ads I delivered today didn’t give me that same feeling, she reflected that she only had one pair of hands and YouTube educates the world on health every second.

In the couple of years since this experience I’ve felt a need to more deliberately structure teams to solve real world problems. Full time this was helping my awesome Publisher team find a way to fund journalism again, but at night I was kept awake by failed health startups and raising our 3rd child. My list of requirements for a healthtech role that would be good enough to leave Google for was extensive, but after a lot of sleepless nights and consultation with family and mentors, I think I’ve found one.

There are a huge number of people to thank for this journey – Neeraj, Estee, Alan, Abhay and Scott for being amazing mentors and advocates. My teams and peers across Brand, CSE and Publishers who have pushed me to be a better person and manager, but more importantly shared so many personally meaningful TGIFs, off-sites, coffees and lunches. I’m sorry for pushing so hard on PDPs and career development, but if it helped spark even one new insight into what motivates you then I leave content.

Please stay in touch, it’s a small world even outside the Google bubble.

Scott

Remove Adware infected YouTube App

I recently bought  Xiaomi Redmi Note 2 and Note 3 phones off Lazada in Singapore. Both times the standard ROM was installed, but some modifications had been made. The phones were rooted and some apps had been installed (Kingroot, Google Play Services etc.). The most annoying part however was that if Chrome hadn’t been used for ~10mins and you opened it, then it would open a popup with a full screen advertisement. I started researching how to remove this annoying Adware.

I found one really good article which detailed the debugging process. There are a few pre-steps however:

  1. Root the phone
  2. Install ADB tools on your computer
  3. Plug in the phone via a USB cable

As per the article above, you can then use the ADB logcat to debug what’s going on. Do the following steps from a terminal prompt on your computer:

  1. adb logcat > log.txt
  2. Open Chrome on your Android phone, wait for the ads to load. Take note of the Ad URL that loads (there might be a couple, so try and get the first one)
  3. Ctrl+C to kill logcat
  4. Open the log.txt file in a text editor and search of the URL you noted in step #2

My Ad spam URL was “ymtracking.com” and so I searched for that in log.txt. It came up with this line:

I/ActivityManager(  808): START u0 {act=android.intent.action.VIEW dat=http://global.ymtracking.com/trace?offer_id=111090&aff_id=27742 flg=0x10000000 cmp=com.android.chrome/com.google.android.apps.chrome.Main} from uid 10035 on display 0

This line tells me that a process running under UID 10035 is calling the ad URL. Time to hunt and kill that UID!

  1. adb -d shell
  2. su

Then you need to view the file /data/system/packages.xml. The Xiaomi phones don’t seem to have vi as a text editor installed, so move it to /sdcard/ to download it to your computer, or open it on the phone itself in the browser. Look for the package line that matches the UID you find earlier (10035):

<package name=”<<PACKAGE NAME>>” codePath=”<<DIR>>”  sharedUserId=”10035″>

Now you know the package name and the location. Normally you could enter the following command from the ADB shell as su “pm disable <<PACKAGE NAME>>”, but when I tried that it was not allowed (read only). Trying to reinstall the package didn’t work either. I found I had to actually use the code path and delete the .apk file itself:

  1. cd /system/priv-app/Youtube (what you had as <<DIR>> above)
  2. mount -o remount,rw -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock3 /system
  3. rm -rf Youtube.apk

That was it! Reboot the phone and the ads are gone. You can then use the Play Store to install YouTube as normal, from the official source.

Final Olympics 2012 YouTube Live gadget

YouTube Olympic streaming in 64 countries

Final Olympics 2012 YouTube Live gadget

YouTube.com/Olympics gadget currently Live

The London 2012 Olympics was the highest profile program I have worked on for YouTube. I was responsible for the IOC YouTube Channel – youtube.com/olympic. This channel only displayed the full content experience for 64 countries during the games across APAC; the largest being India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. These 64 countries received 11 live channels running 1200 live events in 1080p HD for 18hrs a day, plus nearly all archived content available. It was a huge process to get this content uploaded, named, categorised into playlists and keywords, and finally navigable in a custom gadget.

The result was well worth the effort, we received 72 million streams just during the 2 week period. Subsequently the content geo-restrictions were removed, and the channel view count has since broken the 100 million views mark. All the global statistics are wrapped up in this official blog post.

This first Olympics has built a solid subscriber base for future events, lifting the number of subscribers by 360k to almost 500k. This is a huge and engaged audience that will be waiting for the next big Olympics event to start. It was great to be a part of this program, and I hope it is seen as a template for how large events can play out online in the future.

WhatsLiveNow.com launched

In an effort to get back into coding and learn the YouTube API’s better I have put together a very simple site, www.whatslivenow.com. It simply checks the YouTube Live API every 15 minutes, saves the results to a MySQL database, and then displays the latest live events ranked by how many “Likes” they have had. This makes the chart a little less dynamic than I would have liked, but the viewCount parameter isn’t currently being populated, so my preference to rank based on what has the most current viewers isn’t possible.

It’s also a nice experiment with CSS and jQuery Mobile, using a template I found called Splitview. I had to make a number of changes to make it work for this example, but visually it looks pretty simple and is very functional across desktop, tablet and mobile devices. I will play around with the functionality over time, but for now I am happy that the experiment was a success. I think with the addition of some social media functionality it could be a nice second screen experience too. Please let me know what you think!

Admonsters Presentation on “The Future of Video”

AdMonsters logoOn the 22nd of March 2012 I attended the 2nd ever Admonsters Conference in Sydney, Australia. I presented on the Future of Television, and chose to focus on my personal perspective around the accelerating convergence of video advertising and content as it moves online. My inspiration sprouted from statistics and creative used in Robert Kyncl’s CES talk and some video engagement ideas from Kevin Allocca.

It was an honour to be able to present in front of colleagues in the same niche profession, especially in my home town which is a geographically obscure place to be doing such a role. My biggest mistake was underestimating their involvement with video advertising – I thought the number would be around 10%, but it turns out 80% of them work with video. It was exciting to see the local market maturity, but it was a little humbling to see all those hands raised at the end of an entry level video presentation. I did however thoroughly enjoy the presentation and I received a number of comments from others that really got something out of it. I really do feel that content marketing is a massive growing area, however I acknowledge that it’s a difficult area to strike a perfect balance in. If it was easy then YouTube would have no paid advertising and I wouldn’t have a job. 🙂

If you are interested in seeing the deck I presented, then please Download the Presentation Slides.

Map My Summer Australia

The culmination and curation of the Map My Summer project, the “We Were Here” video by Screen Australia, has premiered in Sydney. Way to make me nostalgic while I am overseas. Getting my name in the credits at the end is pretty cool though, I think this is a first for me!

australian youtube logo doodle

Happy Australia Day!

Happy Australia Day 2011 to all the aussies who read my blog! Ernesto, 3DM and I worked hard to deliver the first YouTube custom logo for Australia ever and a custom video mapping gadget! The basic premise is that Australians can upload videos to YouTube and plot them on a map. This map then visually “fills in” to create essentially remap Australia in terms of summer memories. I am really looking forward to seeing how much momentum we can build off this one and it is great showcase for local creatives.

australian youtube logo doodle

Custom YouTube logo and youtube.com/MapMySummer gadget

Google also put up a custom doodle for today, which indirectly drives through to the YouTube channel too:

google doodle for australia day 2011

Google doodle for Australia Day 2011

Is it weird that I get a buzz from having input into the creation of these programs that re-craft some of the most recognised brands in the world? Must be my inner marketing geek showing through…

2011 – The Next Year of Video

To celebrate 2011 being an even bigger year for video on the Internet, I have decided to do my first video blog (vlog?). Let me know what you think!

YouTube Video Trends Dashboard

YouTube today silently launched a new trends dashboard which showcases the top trending videos on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/trendsdashboard

It has some great features to help you identify rising “buzz” videos, and then breakdown that buzz to regional areas. You can also show the most shared or the most viewed videos (which is an interesting comparison in itself). Then just need to jump onto the Video Targeting Tool to make sure your advertisement takes advantage of these trends! It’s certainly a much cleaner interface than some of the more popular 3rd party sites that have filled this void over the years.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

YouTube Symphony 2011 in Sydney

YouTube Symphony 2011 has launched, and the Sydney Opera House has been announced as the new final location! The program is revolving around an APAC advertiser and location, so it is an extremely exciting program for the region. Make sure you try the Augmented Reality application in the “Experiment” section.

This excitement is being driven internally by a surprisingly large and distributed number of Australians based all around the world. I was at the launch event at the Opera House on Wednesday morning, and every Google employee who spoke was Australian! It was quite an inspiring moment for an Australian in IT like myself looking to make an impact globally. Working on the project has already been an amazing experience, and things have only just begun.

I guess Symphony is already achieving its goal to be a globally inspiring program.

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