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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Google's Memorable Aprils fools day pranks

 While we're waiting on what Google stored for us on this year April Fools Day 2013, I listed some of the most memorable pranks they release every April 1, this past few years.

2008 - Project : Virgle

Google announces a joint project with the Virgin Group to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars. This operation has been named Project Virgle. The announcement includes videos of Richard Branson (founder of Virgin Group) as well as Larry Page and Sergey Brin (the founders of Google) on YouTube, talking about Virgle. An "application" to join the settlement includes questions such as:
I am a world-class expert in:
  1. Physics
  2. First Aid
  3. Engineering
  4. Guitar Hero III
After the user submitted the application, the site notifies the user that the user is not fit for space, or that the user's application is fine and "all you have to do is submit your video" [as a response to their video on YouTube]. As a result, an open source Virgle group has been established, OpenVirgle. On the FAQ page, the final question is "Okay, come on – seriously. Is this Virgle thing for real?" The reply links to a page that tells the user it's an April Fool's joke, and then mentions that the user "Dragged us out of our lovely little fantasy world, to crush all our hopes and dreams."
2009 - CADIE

The announcement of CADIE was made on 31 March 2009 11:59 pm by the CADIE Team, not on April 1. The announcement on the Google blog was made at 2009/04/01 12:01:00 am.
The introduction page and all of the references to CADIE in Google's Products were taken down on April 2, replaced with a message stating:
We apologize for the recent disruption(s) to our service(s).

Please stand by while order is being restored.
However the technology page describing the technical capabilities of the software remained at:
Technical Description
When using Google Books or GMail, a user would come across an announcement dated March 31, 2009 at 11:59:59, declaring a new "Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity". CADIE is also mentioned on the gBall FAQ page: "Google's new CADIE technology will interpret the data obtained from each ball to provide useful tips to owners". There was also a link on Google's Homepage for CADIE, and a blog entry in Google's official blog.
CADIE technology is also used to generate "senryu" (a type of Japanese poem similar to haiku) based on search terms for certain Japanese queries.
The Google Search homepage had a link to the CADIE announcement, stating that "For several years now a small research group has been working on some challenging problems in the areas of neural networking, natural language and autonomous problem-solving. Last fall this group achieved a significant breakthrough: a powerful new technique for solving reinforcement learning problems, resulting in the first functional global-scale neuro-evolutionary learning cluster." The page links to the blog below.
On mobile devices, a link shows up to Brain Search, which uses CADIE technology to "index your brain".

2010 - Google and Topeka, Kansas, Switch Places 

In early March, the city of Topeka, Kansas, temporarily changed its name to Google in an attempt to capture a spot in Google's new broadband/fiber-optics project. Then, on April 1 (April Fools' Day), Google jokingly announced that it would be changing its name to Topeka, to "honor that moving gesture" and changed its home page to say Topeka in place of the Google logo.

2011 - Gmail Motion

A body gesture oriented way to send and view mail through Gmail. In the "How it Works" Section it reads "Gmail Motion uses your computer's built-in webcam and Google's patented spatial tracking technology to detect your movements and translate them into meaningful characters and commands. Movements are designed to be simple and intuitive for people of all skill levels." An overview video presented by Gmail product manager Paul McDonald explains Gmail Motion's "language of movements that replaces type entirely" while a mime artist performs the full-body Gmail actions.
Upon clicking the "Try Gmail Motion" button, it tells you about the prank, and says "Gmail Motion doesn't actually exist. At least not yet..." The page also offers a preview of the features of Google Docs Motion.

2012 - Google Maps 8-bit Map

Google partnered with Square Enix and announced a "NES version" of their Google Maps service, to be released "as soon as possible". The version would be released in NES and Famicom versions (the Famicom version will feature voice input by using the second controller's microphone). In the meantime, Google added a "Quest" layer to the Maps website, which features 8-bit tile-based graphics and sprites on landmarks, both made by Google and by Square Enix (using the Dragon Quest game series' graphics).

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