Saturday, December 12, 2009

Google Easter Eggs from Devir on lockergnome's YouTube Account

"How to Make Google Dance"

lockergnome, YouTube (December 9, 2009)
video, 7:57

"You use Google all the time, I'm sure. Did you know that there are a ton of neat little Easter Eggs hidden inside? There are so many things you can do to have fun with Google, and most people don't even know about them...."

Some of these were new to me. Not the dictionary and the calculator, but I'll be getting to the 'interesting' stuff shortly. The video is a sort of 'guest post' on lockergnome's YouTube account, by the way.

The point this video makes is that Google is more than just a search engine. The 'video' part of the video shows what was on the narrator's screen as he talks and uses some Google Easter eggs.

As Devir points out, Google Easter eggs are "more fun than functional" - although the calculator, which we're told handles long algebra strings and powers, and the dictionary are useful.

About the dictionary: Devir says that Google's dictionary function gives you "anything you could possibly want" - presumably, from a dictionary. For most folks, likely enough. For me, not so much: but then, I'm a sort of "power user" of dictionaries, with interest in etymology and the history of languages. I make use of Google's dictionary function - which accesses a number of more-or-less reliable online dictionaries: as I did just now, finding a URL for that link to the definition of etymology on Princeton's WordNet.

Want to know what current time is, in Hong Kong? Google has a clock function, described in the video.

Want to track stocks? Same thing.

There's even the answer to "life the universe and everything" - which is funnier, if you know the source.

Devir also discusses Google's "did you mean" function - which is very handy, when you're looking up something that you're not entirely familiar with - or which you've misspelled. Been there, done that.

There's an Easter egg there: the "did you mean" recursion joke.

Google-s auto-suggest function, a sort of AI that learns from what people are searching for, gives an occasionally-disturbing look at the human condition.

In a lighter vein, Devir shows the viewer a sort of 'magic trick' - a variation on the old 'fake desktop' practical joke.

Then, there's something I haven't tried yet - and am not likely to. It involves doing a Google image search, then pasting javascript into the URL bar results in the images "dancing" in a rotating elliptical pattern. It's cool, I've no reason to think that putting javascript code (supplied in the video's description) in my browser's URL bar would do any harm.

But, this computer is what I do my work with: and I'm a bit more cautious than some folks.

Bottom line? This video is a pretty good introduction to Google features you may not know about: and might very well be able to use. And, a demonstration of why Google is the 800-pound gorilla of search engines. It works, and many more features than the video mentions. Still, it's a pretty good place to start.
A tip of my hat to my son, for the heads up on this video.

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