Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Google April Fool’s Jokes Galore
Japan started early with the April 1st specialties, but the jokes continue. Thanks to everyone who helps collecting Google’s April Fool’s pranks in the forum
(or sent in things via mail)! Here’s the list of Google’s jokes and Google-related pranks from over the web, which I may update during the day (for all items I’ll add the disclaimer that it’s likely it’s a hoax, but some of the items may not be!):
- The Google Talk blog reports wants to help lower CO2 emissions and starts reducing the characters you send... by converting them to instant-messenger-speak. For instance, the sentence “As far as I’m concerned, you can give me the twenty dollars you owe me when I see you later.” will be automatically translated to “AFAIC, U can gve me the 20 $$ YOM whn I CUL8R.” before it reaches the other person. You can already see how your texts will translate thanks to the working firstname.lastname@example.org bot.
- Google started Virgle, a team-up Google Inc and the Virgin Group. The goal? To establish a permanent human settlement on Mars, because as Virgin’s Richard Branson writes on the official Google blog, “Larry Page, Sergey Brin and I feel strongly that contemporary technology is sufficiently advanced to make such an effort both successful and economical, and that it’s high time that humanity moved beyond Earth and began our great, long journey to explore the stars and establish our first lasting foothold on another world.” In a video, Sergey Brin announces “We’re going to select the very first settlers of the planet Mars.” The apparent reason for launching this project now seems to be that “Earth has issues,” as the Virgle homepage states.
- The German Google Watch Blog announced they’ll be shutting down to launch a competitor to Google Street View for Germany. Image samples from Berlin and other locations are provided in the post. Called CityMap, the service has a nice feature of overlaying people’s faces with smileys to better protect their privacy.
- Ionut Alexandru Chitu got the scoop on OpenGoogle. The product sounds nice – “The project ... will allow anyone to create a search engine that uses Google’s index, but has a custom ranking algorithm and a personalized interface. You’ll be able to select from a list of approximately 100 ranking signals like: the page’s self-importance, the number of original ideas, the IQs of their authors, the number of links from Wikipedia, and decide their importance.” – but I get a feeling Google and the web at large is over-using the “open” word. On a side-note, the OpenGoogle system determines that Ionut’s IQ is 125; when I asked Ionut for a statement he told me it’s “off by 50” though he didn’t say in which direction.
- YouTube is rickrolling its users big-scale. All the featured videos on the YouTube.com frontpage are currently linking to Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up. Or, as a commenter at YouTube puts it in the comments to the video, “HAHAHAHHHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHA lol nice youtube”.
- Over the next days, Google Documents will roll out a Google Gears-powered offline version (I can’t see it yet). Straight from the official Google Docs Blog announcement and as discussed in our forum, this has to be the silliest joke of them all, because in this day and age, nobody is ever offline, so it’s a useless feature. “When I lose my connection, I sacrifice some features,” the Google Docs blog writes, putting up a straw man argument, “but I can still access my documents... Everything I need is saved locally ... When my connection comes back, my documents sync up again with the server.”
- Google Australia delivers gDay with MATE technology to “search content on the internet before it’s created,” i.e., from the future. From the page: “Google spiders crawl publicly available web information and our index of historic, cached web content. Using a mashup of numerous factors such as recurrence plots, fuzzy measure analysis, online betting odds and the weather forecast from the iGoogle weather gadget, we can create a sophisticated model of what the internet will look like 24 hours from now.” I saw this yesterday already and tried to search for “Google Blogoscoped” and indeed, found this post and opened its Google Cache version – I was then able to copy the full text of the post, which saved me a lot of writing today.
- A website covering alternative search engines urges people to make April 1st the new Annual Day Without Google. “Choose one, choose several, but for One Day give the Alternative search engines a fighting chance and see what life would be like without Google. It will be alright. Really.” (I’ll pass – while I could probably imagine to stop use Google search entirely, I’m totally addicted to Google Shared Stuff, which is way better than Friendfeed.)
- Also, if you open a new Google Document – log-in to Docs and pick New -> Document – you can then pick File -> “New airplaine” from the menu. This will result in a document pre-loaded with a paper airplane folding layout.
- As reported, Google Japan now delivers special “Dajare” (Japanese puns) onebox results. This search will show one of them, for instance.
- Jon Henshaw reports that cars of the Google Street View fleet are now forced to paint road lines while driving the streets of Nashville. The Nashville Mayor is quoted to have said, “These Google cars ride up and down our streets, sometimes 12 or 5 times back and forth. They’re making pot holes, causing wrecks and costing our city millions of dollars ... If they’re going to ruin our streets, then they’re going to fix them at the same time.”
- Gmail now offers a “custom time” feature. The Google custom time help page explains you need to click “Set custom time” from the Compose view. Then, “Any email you send to the past appears in the proper chronological order in your recipient’s inbox. You can opt for it to show up read or unread by selecting the appropriate option.” According to their explanations, Gmail utilizes an “e-flux capacitor to resolve issues of causality.” Finally – I was wishing for this exact thing back in August 2004!
- PC World describes a new Google effort to organize all of human ignorance. Google CEO Eric Schmidt says, “Admittedly, human ignorance is vast – perhaps unlimited – but our goal is to organize all of it. Consistent with our mobile strategy, we aim to provide anytime, anywhere ignorance.” Eric adds the feature may not be for everyone, but that “Here at Google we just want to give people options. Ignorance is an option and we want people to have that option.”
- Google China invests in human search. Google’s automated translation of the homepage sheds more light on this (in a you’re-in-a-dark-cellar-wearing-sunshades-and-your-
tiny-flashlight-is-half-empty kind of lightshedding way): “Not only can people search meat in the shortest possible time to expose the truth behind a certain door for a three public recognition of a seven find the moral position, but also not in the reach of the network, and explore the jungle found the most beautiful girls, the most moving mountains pastoralists, the most mysterious desert cave, the ultimate romantic encounter…… meat search pursuit of the highest goal is: do not seek the best, but for the most meat.”
- Google competitor Microsoft in the mean-time came up with a plan that’s so crazy it just might work, Search Engine Land reports. Instead of buying Yahoo to beat Google, they will pay people in the US $1 million per year to not use Google. A special program will monitor their web activitiy to ensure this. Danny Sullivan comments, “Absurdly expensive? It can seem that way at first, but consider the math. There’s an estimated 300 million people living in the United States. If you pay each one $1 million for the next three years, that’s just under $1 billion. That saves Microsoft $39 billion compared to what it was going to spend on purchasing Yahoo.”
- In case you have trouble getting out of the bed in the morning, Google Calendar’s “Wake Up Kit” uses notifications which are “progressively more annoying” to wake you up. From the description: “First it will send an SMS message to your phone. If that fails, more coercive means will be used. The kit includes an industrial-sized bucket and is designed to be connected to your water main for automatic filling.”
- Google’s social network site Orkut turned into Yogurt today, according to their logo.
- The Virtual Tourism blog found out that Google Street View censors the logos of competing companies, like Yahoo, Microsoft or Apple. In a live demo, you can reproduce how when you near towards the Apple store, the view goes black, noting “The image is no longer available.”
- Google Calendar has a new “I’m feeling lucky” button. Just log-in to your calendar, click on a day, and in the box that pops up, hit the Feeling Lucky button. Now a random new event will be added, like one reading “Date with Anna Kournikova” (or George W. Bush, Lois Griffin and others).
- Search Engine Roundtable has not one but four news items today. Including “Microsoft Buys Yahoo So Google Buys Microsoft in Hostile Takeover” and “Matt Cutts Transfers to Performics - Will Assume Lead SEO Role”. In regards to the latter item, Barry Schwartz writes, “Google has decided to reinforce Performics, a company that came with the Doubleclick Acquisition, by transferring long time search quality lead Matt Cutts into a role with the search engine optimization firm. This immediately strengthens the perceived value of working with Performics, since Matt is obviously very familiar with the Google algorithm”.
- The Google Sightseeing blog reports on two new view mode in Google Earth and Google Maps. One is x-ray, the other is thermal imagery; with these new modes, you can literally see inside buildings.
- Questions and answers service Uclue shows proof that Larry and Sergey grabbed their April Fool’s ideas from their site. “Every year we run an April Fools gag at our site, in an attempt to gain a bit of publicity,” the Google co-founders post on the site, “We’re a bit short of ideas to use for this year. Could you provide a few suggestions for us to choose from?”
- The Rimm-Kaufman Group say they cracked Google’s press release server, uncovering news of several “open platform" releases; refresh their page for more news.
- The Google Russia blog announced the release of Google Cash. Ihar in the forum explains, “Since everyone is used to cash in Russia, that’s the most convenient way for them ... The machine doesn’t actually collect money, it destroys them, after scanning the bill and sending the number to the Central Bank.”
- Google AdSense introduces AdSense for conversations. These ads will be displayed on top of the head of others as you talk, making Google context-relevant money. Google remarks that ads can be turned off depending on who you talk with. “Yes; we understand that there’s a time and place for ads in conversations, as a chat with a friend isn’t quite the same as an interview with a prospective employer or parole officer. That’s why we let you choose which conversations to target using the ’Allowed Conversations’ feature, located under your AdSense Setup tab.”
- The French Abondance blog announced that Google is the new main sponsor of the Paris Saint Germain football club, showing photo proof, too.
- The French Google blog Zorgloob is showing their new “Google Blogoscoped” logo. I’m sure they will write an announcement post soon.
- ReadWriteWeb is the first to report on Google DreamAds. According to their post, DreamAds are one of the most ambitious Google projects yet: it integrates AdSense into dreams. “It may sound far-fetched, but an inside source at Google told us that it is very possible thanks to the latest in cheap magnetic resonance scanning and mind-reading techniques developed at Stanford University.”
- Google’s Matt Cutts said he’d skip April Fool’s this year, though he got a Firefox tattoo instead!
- The Yahoo chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen in a video tells employees that starting next week, they should discreetly board one of the 694 Google shuttles to get to work. Valleywag has more.
- Frank Taylor writes that if you zoom out far enough, Google Earth’s continents will merge into one, just as they “may have appeared hundreds of millions of years ago.”
- The Googlified blog seems to be closing shop; it currently replaced all articles with a LOLCAT-flavored Google search engine. A button reads, “I can has lucky?”
You can also add your comments in the respective forum threads.
[Thanks and hat tip Jérôme, Tony, Abdul, BrianS, Josue, Diego, Fred, Jon, Hebbet, Pau, DPic, Yakov, Mike, Frank, Network Weblogs, Ihar, Phil, Richard, Milad, Jf, John, Rkgblog, Miss Universe, everyone!]
Update: It’s April 2nd here, so I wanted to clear up some of the things from yesterday.
First, there were some side jokes hidden in this post. Most importantly, the Google Docs offline functionality was no April Fool’s joke as mentioned, but real.
Second, the layout wasn’t really broken, though thanks to all those who cared and wrote in. Originally Tony and I planned to do something with Cliply... but when Google Docs went ahead with a joke of their own, we scrapped that. Time was running out so I experimented with some ways to hide something in the HTML source of the page – there were a couple of failed “prototypes,” but with Tony’s help this got tuned into something we hoped could work. Half an hour or more after we put this live, we were truly relieved when the first responses trickled in!
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