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Google's hoaxes: Map

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Google has a tradition of perpetrating April Fools' Day hoaxes.

April Fool's hoaxes

2000

Google announced a new "MentalPlex" search technology that supposedly read the user's mind todetermine what the user wanted to search for, thus eliminating the step of actually typing in the search query. This always led to a page full of April Fool's results.

2002

Google reveals the technology behind its PageRank Systems—PigeonRank. Google touts the benefits of this cost-effective and efficient means of ranking pages and reassures readers that there is no animal cruelty involved in the process. The article makes many humorous references and puns based on computer terminology and how Google PageRank really works.

2004

Fictitious job opportunities for a research center on the moon. Luna/X (a pun to Linux as well as a reference to both the Windows XP visual style and Mac OS X) is the name of a new operating system they claimed to have created for working at the research center.

2005

Google Gulp, a fictitious drink, was announced by Google in 2005. According to the company, this beverage would optimize one's use of the Google search engine by increasing the drinker's intelligence. It was claimed this boost was achieved through real-time analysis of the user's DNA and carefully tailored adjustments to neurotransmitters in the brain (a patented technology termed Auto-Drink; as the "Google Gulp FAQ" suggests, partly through MAO inhibition). The drink was said to come in "4 great flavors": Glutamate Grape (glutamic acid), Sugar-Free Radical (free radicals), Beta Carroty (beta carotene), and Sero-Tonic Water (serotonin).

This hoax was probably intended as a parody of Google's then invite-only email service called Gmail. Although ostensibly free, the company claimed the beverage could only be obtained by returning the cap of a Google Gulp bottle to a local grocery store: a causal loop. In the Google Gulp FAQ, Google replies to the observation "I mean, isn't this whole invite-only thing kind of bogus?" by saying "Dude, it's like you've never even heard of viral marketing."

2006

On April Fool's Day 2006, Google Romance was announced on the main Google search page with the introduction, "Dating is a search problem. Solve it with Google Romance." It pretends to offer a "Soulmate Search" to send users on a "Contextual Date". A parody of online dating, it amusingly had a link for "those who generally favor the 'throw enough stuff at the wall' approach to online dating" to Post multiple profiles with a bulk upload file, you sleaze in addition to Post your Google Romance profile. Clicking on either of these gave an error page, which explained that it was an April Fool's joke and included links to previous April Fool's Jokes for nostalgia.

2007

Gmail Paper

At about 10:00 PM Pacific time (where Google has its headquarters) on 30 March 2007, Google changed the login page for Gmail to announce a new service called Gmail Paper. The service offered to allow users of Google's free webmail service to add e-mails to a "Paper Archive", which Google would print (on "96% post-consumer organic soybean sputum") and mail via traditional post. The service would be free, supported by bold, red advertisements printed on the back of the printed messages. Image attachments would also be printed on high-quality glossy paper, though MP3 and WAV files would not be printed. The page detailing more information about the service features photographs of Ian Spiro and Carrie Kemper, current employees of Google. Also featured are Product Marketing Managers of Gmail Anna-Christina Douglas, and Kevin Systrom.

Google TiSP

Google TiSP (short for Toilet Internet Service Provider) was a fictitious free broadband service supposedly released by Google. This service would make use of a standard toilet and sewage lines to provide free Internet connectivity at a speed of 8 Mbit/s (2 Mbit/s upload) (or up to 32 Mbit/s with a paid plan). The user would drop a weighted end of a long, Google-supplied fiber-optic cable in their toilet and flush it. Around 60 minutes later, the end would be recovered and connected to the Internet by a "Plumbing Hardware Dispatcher (PHD)". The user would then connect their end to a Google-supplied wireless router and run the Google-supplied installation media on a Windows XP or Vista computer ("Mac and Linux support coming soon"). Alternatively, a user could request a professional installation, in which Google would deploy nanobots through the plumbing to complete the process. The free service would be supported by "discreet DNA sequencing" of "personal bodily output" to display online ads that relate to culinary preferences and personal health. Google also referenced the cola-and-Mentos reaction in their FAQ: "If you're still experiencing problems, drop eight mints into the bowl and add a two-liter bottle of diet soda."

2008

Adsense for Conversations

Google releases Adsense for conversations (http://adsense.blogspot.com/2008/04/introducing-adsense-for-conversations.html)

Blogger "Google Weblogs (beta)"

The Blogger dashboard featured an announcement for Google Weblogs, or "GWeblogs," or "Gblogs," the next revolution in personal publishing. Features include algorithms putting your best content at the top of your blog (rather than publishing by reverse chronology), automatically populating your blog's sidebar with the most relevant content, posting directly into Google search results for maximum visibility, blog headers refreshed with images from Google's team of artists for anniversaries of a scientific achievement (similar to Google Doodle), and automatic content generation ('Unsure of what to post about? Just click "I'm Feeling Lucky" and we'll "take care" of the rest!')

The announcement was followed by a link to a video tour of the product, which actually led to Tay Zonday's cover of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up."

Dajare

Google launches Dajare in Japan (google.co.jp), with the mission of "organizing the world's laughter."

gDay

Google announces gDay in Australia (http://www.google.com.au/intl/en/gday/press.html), a new beta search technology that will search web pages 24 hours before they are created.

Gmail Custom Time

Gmail Custom Time feature hoax
Gmail's sign-in page and a banner at the top of each gmail inbox announced a new feature, called Gmail Custom Time, that would allow its users to "pre-date" their messages and choose to have the message appear as "read" or "unread". The new feature uses the slogan "Be on time. Every time."

Around 11:00 p.m. EST March 31, 2008, on the newer and older version of Gmail, but not in the basic HTML version, in the upper right corner, next to Settings, a link appeared labeled, "New! Gmail Custom Time". The link led to a 404 error until April 1, when it led to the full Gmail Custom Time hoax page. Clicking any of the three links at the bottom of the page brought the user to a page stating that Gmail Custom time was, in fact, their April Fool's Day joke.

Google wrote that the new joke feature "utilizes an e-flux capacitor (a pun from the movie Back to the Future) to resolve issues of causality." Fake testimonials are given by "beta users"; one example is, "I used to be an honest person; but now I don't have to be. It's just so much easier this way. I've gained a lot of productivity by not having to think about doing the 'right' thing."

The feature only allows for ten pre-dated emails per year, claiming that any more "would cause people to lose faith in the accuracy of time, thus rendering the feature useless."

Google Book Search Scratch and Sniff

Google Book Search has a new section allowing users to "scratch and sniff" certain books. Users are asked to "...please place your nose near the monitor and click 'Go'", which then "loads odors". When clicking on "Help", users are redirected to a page in a book that describes the origins of April Fools' Day .

Google Calendar is Feeling Lucky

Google added the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button to its calendar feature. When you tried to create a new event, you were given the regular option of entering the correct details and hitting "Create Event," and also the new option of "I'm Feeling Lucky" which would set you up with an evening date with, among others, Matt Damon, Eric Cartman, Tom Cruise, Jessica Alba, Pamela Anderson, Paris Hilton, Angelina Jolie, Britney Spears, Anna Kournikova, Johnny Depp, George W. Bush, or Lois Griffin.

Google Dialect Translation

Google announces Google 사투리 번역 (Google dialect translation) for translating regional dialects of Korean to and from Standard Korean.

Google Docs

A little easter egg was added, where a user can click the file menu and directly under new document is "New Airplane" which immediately opens a copy of a Google branded paper airplane. To reach the file menu, click the new menu, then "Document" then a new window opens. The image that is embedded in the "New Airplane" document can be seen here.

Google Manpower Search

Google launches Manpower Search (谷歌人肉搜索) in China (google.cn). This new feature is powered by 25 million volunteers who do the searching around the clock. When the user entered a keyword, volunteers will search any possible answers from a mass of paper documents as well as online resources. The user is expected to get the search result within 32 seconds.

Google Talk

Google announces plans to, on April 22, 2008 (Earth Day), shorten all conversations over Google Talk thereby reducing the energy required to transmit chats in an effort to reduce carbon output.

Google Wake Up Kit

Google launched their "Wake Up Kit" as a calendar notification option.

The 'wake up' notification uses several progressively more annoying alerts to wake you up. 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. In addition, a bed-flipping device is included for forceful removal from your sleeping quarters.
Google Wake Up Kit

Virgle

Google announces a joint project with the Virgin Group to establish a permanent human settlement on Mars (http://www.google.com/virgle/index.html). 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:
 
  • Physics
  • 
     
    
  • First Aid
  • 
     
    
  • Engineering
  • 
     
    
  • Guitar Hero II
  • 
    


    After you submit the application, the site notifies you that you are not fit for space, or that your 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." [124017]
    Virgle Application Page - http://www.google.com/virgle/application.html

    Yogurt

    's Orkut displayed its name as yogurt, Google Bang, Inc.

    YouTube

    On April 1, 2008, all featured videos on the UKmarker and Australian homepages, and later, all international homepages, of Google-owned YouTube linked to a video of Rick Astley's song "Never Gonna Give You Up", causing all users of the website who clicked on featured videos to be Rickrolled.This was the first year YouTube participated in Google's April Fool's Day tradition.

    2009

    google runs on Microsoft Windows IIS/3.0

    google.com.au reported as if it ran on IIS/3.0 (on Linux) and google.com on Apache/0.8.4.

    CADIE

    The announcement of CADIE was made on March 31, 2009 11:59 PM by the CADIE Team, not on April 1. The announcement on the Google blog was made at 4/01/2009 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". This is what it all looks like from a mobile device.

    YouTube

    Screenshot of an upside video on YouTube on April 1st, 2009
    On April 1, 2009, Youtube gave some users a look at a new "viewing experience" when they selected a video within certain areas such as the "recommended for you" section. This new interface caused the whole layout including the video you were watching to flip upside down. Although the option was not visible for some, it could be viewed by adding &flip=1 to the end of a video URL. Adding &flip=1 to the end of a video URL no longer causes this effect, and the video loads normally. A page on "tips for viewing the new layout" suggested users hang their monitors upside down from the ceiling, although the layout did not reverse mouse-control.

    Gmail

    When one is using the Gmail service, they will notice that it has a new option, named "Gmail Autopilot" in which the service would analyze an email. On that page it says under the FAQ section,"You can adjust tone, typo propensity, and preferred punctuation from the Autopilot tab under Settings." However, if a person logs into their Gmail account and goes under the Settings tab they will notice that there is no Autopilot tab. The program could be customised to contain certain types of grammatical or spelling errors, as well as complexity and length of the sentence. It also has a way of responding to relationship related messages, such as if someone spoke aggressively, even in a humorous way, the system would "terminate relationship."

    gBall

    Google Australia announced last week the development of a ball that will change how Australian Football is played the world over.The newest football technology - "gBall"-- is a prototype ball for use in the Australian Football League with GPS.

    Google Australia announces ("New! Get the newest football technology - gBall.") that they are developing a prototype ball for use in the Australian Football League with GPS. Apparently, the ball will measure the location, force, and torque of a kick, and "vibrate if player agents or talent scouts want to speak to you". Google claimed that the ball will cost $10 with a cost-per-kick set of payments in addition to the basic fee.

    Google Analytics

    A blog post to the Google Analytics Blog investigates the analytics reports of CADIEs activities http://analytics.blogspot.com/2009/04/cadies-google-analytics-reports.html

    Google Maps

    Google's CADIE has a recommended places to visit using Google Maps. Viewing "CADIE's recommended places for humans" one will see each of her suggested places listed, that, when clicked, displays a photo and humorous commentary.

    There is also a " CADIE's recommended places for humans." link in Google Maps, which leads to the "Panda Mapplet" and includes several marked locations with "CADIE's" commentary. Under Redmond WAmarker a link is listed which will rick roll the viewer.

    Blogger

    CADIE's personal blog/homepage

    Google Chrome with 3D

    A build of Google Chrome was offered rendering web pages in Anaglyph 3D, "powered" by CADIE.http://www.google.com/intl/en/landing/chrome/cadie/ A 3D effect was actually possible with this browser, but it only made the window appear to be sunken into the monitor.

    Google Earth Powered by CADIE

    Google announced a new Google Earth powered by CADIE,

    which supposedly allowed the user to:

    1. See ocean terrain imagery from the world's most advanced sub

    2. Explore the deep sea

    3. Soar with CADIE in real time

    CADIE's Recommended summer Vacation

    Chat with CADIE

    Google Code

    The Google Code Search homepage is featuring LOLCODE examples.

    CADIE is set to write code for you based on specified features, however all that is returned is bad code or witty criticisms of your request and choice of programing language, recommending the use of INTERCAL.

    CADIE's source code was supposedly uploaded to Google Code [124018] [124019], but she changed her mind and replaced it with a "fun program" [124020] consisting of 31 lines of INTERCAL. When executed, this program prints out the message "I do not feel like sharing."

    Google Book Search

    CADIE recommends some books at Google Book Search homepage. Also, when viewing a book, there is a Generate book report button. When clicked it says "Gotcha! It's April Fools' Day! Sorry, but you'll have to actually read the book yourself."

    Google Docs on Demand

    Google has announced new Google Docs features enhanced by CADIE

    Add subliminal messages and images to documents.

    If a person makes a new presentation and looks for the subliminal message and image buttons under the insert menu they will notice it is not there.

    Upgrade your Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level automatically

    And many other savvy new features.

    Google Mobile

    Google Mobile has a link to " Brain Search". The instructions are to "Put phone to forehead for brain indexing" and "Think your query".When you click "Try Now", a page loads with "Brain indexing" status. When indexing is complete, a button comes up with "search me". by clicking this button, the user is directed to fake search results. There are several possible results:

    What's the name of that woman by the window? She's my boss's boss, but, oh man, is it Suzanne? Susan? Blanche?

    Should I order the pizza? I don't remember if it makes me gassy.

    Wow, cute guy. Should I go up to him?

    Why is everyone looking at me so strangely?

    When is Mom's birthday? I should send her a card.

    Google Knol

    Knol was updated so that all of the featured articles were about Artificial Intelligence, with a message from CADIE indicating that this "improvement" was for the good of mankind.

    HTTP Headers

    In keeping with the CADIE theme Google has altered the server HTTP header to contain the name of various AI entities, including HAL 9000, WOPR and GLaDOS

    Other server HTTP headers found were IIS/Bob (a reference to Microsoft Bob), IIS/Clippy (a reference to Clippy), IIS/3.0, Netscape iPlanet, Chrome/3.0, Google Operating System (BETA), CERN/3.0 (a reference to CERN HTTPd), Apple (a reference to Apple II), IRIX, MCP, Apache/0.8.4, Conficker, and Skynetmarker.

    Oil Tanker Data Center

    During the last minutes of Google's Data Center Efficiency Summit, Urs Hoelzle presented in a "special topic": Google had bought an Oil tanker, the "M/S Surgey", where Google's data center containers were being submerged in oil tanks to enable extremely high-efficiency cooling. The presentation can be seen from 0:41:20 in the video, and includes slightly customized wikipedia images from thetopic Oil tanker, including a retouched photo of commercial oil tanker AbQaiq and the oil tankers side view graphic.

    Even though Google did apply for a US patent to build data centers on cargo ships and Oil cooling is an existing technology, summit attendee James Hamilton believed this topic to be an April Fools joke. The ship's name "M/S Surgey" is also likely to be a pun on Google's Co-founder Sergey Brin.

    Halloween

    In Halloween 2009, Google celebrates Halloween using this hoax. If you clicked the Google logo, it would be replaced by a candy wrapper version. Clicking it again, and more candy would cover the candy logo. After clicking it again, and candy wrappers would appear covering the logo. Clicking it for time final time, and it takes you to the search results for "Halloween 2009". This would happen when you clicked any Google logo.

    Easter eggs

    Google Street View production team
    Various Google services also hide Easter eggs meant to be amusing entertainment.

    • Searching for "the answer to life, the universe, and everything" will make the Calculator answer 42, a reference to Douglas Adams's novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. In order for this Easter egg to be successful the phrase must be entered in lowercase and without the quotation marks. The same reference is made when speaking to an artificial intelligence called meliza next to "the face on Mars" in Google Earth. When the number 42 is typed, the AI produces the output "42 is the answer to the ultimate question about life, the universe, and everything."
    • Searching for "the number of horns on a unicorn" produces the answer "1" in the Calculator. (Google actually reads the strings "number of horns on a unicorn" and "answer to life the universe and everything" as numbers. One can also use these phrases in the calculator. For example searching for "number of horns on a unicorn usd in euro" produces the current dollar / euro course or searching for "answer to life the universe and everything*5" produces 210.)
    • Searching for "once in a blue moon" shows the result "1.16699016 × 10-8 hertz".
    • Searching for "recursion" shows "Did you mean: recursion".
    • Google offers services in many languages, including several uncommon ones like Swedish Chef's Bork bork bork, Pig Latin, Hacker (usually known as leetspeak), Elmer Fudd, Klingon and Pirate
    • When asked how to get from a location in North America to a location in Europe or Africa, Google Maps included the instruction "Swim across the Atlantic Ocean". This Easter egg is now removed.
    • When asked for directions from North America to Australia or island in the Pacific ocean Google Maps includes the instruction "Kayak across the Pacific Ocean". This also works in Google Earth.
    • When asked for directions from Japan to China, Google Maps includes the instruction "Jet ski across the Pacific Ocean".
    • The measurement tool in Google Earth allows users to measure distance in smoots, a unit of length derived from a tradition at MITmarker.
    • Taking the term Easter egg literally (and perhaps to celebrate the Easter holiday), Google has an official Easter Eggs page.
    • If one sets the iGoogle theme to the "Beach" option, then at 3:14 AM every morning, the Loch Ness Monster surfaces for 1 minute, then at 3:15 dives back under. The reason for the timing of 3:14 is rumoured to be a tribute to the number pi. Additional 3:14 eggs include the "Seasonal Scape" showing off the Northern Lights, the "City Scape" with UFOs, the "Spring Scape" with a monster, and the "Tea House" that has spirits in the mist.
    • On Google Earth, tapping out ctrl-alt-A will activate a hidden flight simulator. (This is now an official feature.)
    • Going on Google Street View, and heading to the rear of the company's Googleplex headquarters in Mountain View, California, the Google Street View's production team can be seen.
    • In Chrome, Google's Web Browser, entering "about:internets" into the address bar brings up a copy of the Windows Screen Saver 3D Pipes, with the title "Don't Clog the Tubes". In the event that this does not occur due to the fact that the screensaver file does not exist in the system, the browser will instead display a gray screen with the title "The Tubes are Clogged!" This has been removed as of the 2.0.169.1 release.
    • The Google Gear's Firefox add-on description line reads "These are the gears that power the tubes! :-)"
    • In Google's iPhone and iPod touch search application, swiping downwards (past About) repeatedly in the 'Settings' interface brings up a hidden menu item, called Bells and Whistles, allowing customization of colors, sounds and more within the app.
    • Entering the term "table" into Google Translate for Spanish to English will return "Is there a striptease bar in the town?" as a definition.
    • On the Suggest a feature page for Gmail, it shows "Have Gmail do the laundry" as a suggestion
    • When using Google Chrome's "incognito" function, the "New Tab" page reminds users that incognito mode does not affect the behaviour of other people, and suggests that they beware of "Surveillance by secret agents" and "People standing behind [them]".
    • Searching "ascii art" will turn the Google logo into ASCII art.
    • For a few days in November 2009, visitors to google.com were greeted with nothing but the Google logo and a message stating "This page has been deliberately left blank"[124021]. On movement of the mouse the page returns to normal.


    Non-hoaxes

    Google has chosen April Fool's Day to announce some of their actual products, as a form of viral marketing.
    • Shortly before midnight on March 31, 2004, Google announced the launch of Gmail. However, many people believed it was a hoax, because free web-based e-mail with one gigabyte of storage was unheard of at the time.


    • In 2005, Google increased Gmail storage to two gigabytes and released Google Ride Finder.


    On July 20, 2005, the 36th anniversary of the first human landing on the moon, Google debuted a version of Google Maps that included a small segment of the surface of the moon. It is based entirely on NASAmarker images and includes only a very limited region. Panning causes the map to tile. The map also gives the locations of all moon landings, and the Google Moon FAQ humorously mentions a connection to the Google Copernicus hoax, which Google claimed to be developing. Supposedly, by 2069, Google Local will support all lunar businesses and addresses. Zooming to the closest level in Google Moon used to show that the moon was made of cheese.

    References

    1. gDay with MATE
    2. Sunday Contingency: Gmail Custom Time
    3. Gmail Custom Time - The ABCs of Gmail
    4. Gmail: Google's approach to email
    5. http://books.google.com/books?id=Ci9JAAAAMAAJ&dq=april+fools+day&pg=PA358
    6. Virgle's YouTube page
    7. Netcraft Webserver Identification
    8. Google Maps directions from Seattle to Sydney
    9. Google Maps directions from Tokyo to Beijing
    10. Google Reveals Hidden Menu in iPhone App - Cult of Mac
    11. http://mail.google.com/support/bin/static.py?page=suggestions.cs
    12. Google Press Center: Press Release
    13. Hotmail currently offers 2MB of free e-mail storage. Yahoo offers 4MB. Gmail will dwarf those offerings with a 1GB storage limit.


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