Filter Google Results by Date with a URL Trick

by Joey deVilla on April 28, 2008

Filter Google Results by Date with a URL Trick: “Google can reorder search and news results from the last day, week, a few months, or entire year by adding a small string to the end of the search URL. Just add this string — &as_qdr=d — to the address bar and hit enter. You’ll get a custom drop-down box that lets you re-order results based on date.”


Google Translate’s Strange Results

by Joey deVilla on October 23, 2007

Here’s something pointed out by a guy on Reddit, who took his cue from an entry in the French blog Zorgloob: take a look what happens when you enter sarkozy sarkozy sarkozy (as in French president Nicolas Sarkozy) into Google Translate and select a French-to-English translation:

Screen capture of Google Translate’s French-to-English translation of “Sarkozy Sarkozy Sarkozy”: "Blair defends Bush"

Here’s some other input that yields interesting output:

Is it an Easter Egg by some politically-minded pranksters at Google? Or users abusing the “suggest a better translation” feature? Or a quirk of the way it translates, which one Reddit reader says is based on training by “feeding it documents which have been translated into many languages by the likes of the UN”?


Google Tidbits

by Joey deVilla on October 21, 2007

Google logoFor your lazy (or perhaps not-so-lazy…maybe you’re hitting that Erlang book — and good for you if you are!) Sunday reading, here are some Google stories for your enjoyment.

  • The Google Way: Give Engineers Room – A New York Times article in which Google software engineer Bharat Mediratta talks about the “Google 20%” — the portion of their working time in which they are encouraged to work on something company-related that interests them personally.

    For another Googler’s notes on the 20%, see Joe Beda’s oft-cited blog entry, Google 20% Time.

  • Google Execs Really Do Hate Evil: It’s a tiny part of a roundup of the last day of O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 Summit that took place in San Francisco this past week, but it’s interesting:

    During a panel of former Google employees, they confirmed to moderator and conference chair John Battelle that, yes, Larry Page and Sergey Brin do factor heavily into business and technology decisions whether they will have evil consequences.

  • Google. Who’s looking at you? – The Sunday Times has an editorial piece on Google…

    Google likes to think of itself as “crunchy” – wholesome and worthy – and, walking into the Googleplex, it looks, at first sight, a pretty crunchy kind of place. There’s free coffee and muesli in the No Name breakfast cafe. Everyone gets around the campus on free bicycles. In the car park, the canopies that protect the neat ranks of hybrid Toyota Priuses from the sun are made from solar panels that power each building in the 1.5-million-sq-ft complex. There are swimming pools, massage chairs and free medical checkups. A model of Sir Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo prototype commercial spacecraft hangs from the rafters in the lobby. This is rocket science, after all.

    But as it prepares to celebrate its 10th birthday, Google has developed serious engine trouble. A series of missteps have left it facing claims that it has gone from a benign project – creating the first free, open-all-hours global library – to the information society’s most determined Big Brother. It stands accused of plotting some sinister link between its computers and us: that it wants, somehow, to plug us into its giant mainframe – as imagined in The Matrix or Terminator.

  • Google Turns Out the Lights: Google turned their home page’s background black in support of the event Lights Out San Francisco, an event in which people in the city by the bay were encouraged to turn out their lights between 8 and 9 p.m. last night.

    It’s a good symbolic gesture, but there still seems to be some debate over whether a black Google screen uses less energy than a white one. I think the assertion was first made in the blog ecoIron, and Google has stated that black pages don’t necessarily use less energy than white ones. Can anyone point me to more info about the debate?


Shipping Container Geekery

by Joey deVilla on October 19, 2007

Enterprise Computing in a Shipping Container

The idea of setting up a computing center in a shipping container isn’t new. Sun has Project Blackbox, “a prototype of the world’s first virtualized datacenter–built into a shipping container and optimized to deliver extreme energy, space, and performance efficiencies”. The idea is create a computing center that you could move anywhere in the world with relative ease:

A “Project Blackbox” container with its doors open, revealing the computing center inside.

If you’ve ever watch ships loading and unloading, you’ll know that nobody handles cargo containers gingerly. A shipping container full of computer equipment would have to be able to withstand a fair bit of abuse, and it looks as though the Blackbox container can take it — here’s a video of one in a simulated earthquake of a 6.7 magnitude on the Richter scale:

Sun’s not the only company working the the concept. Google have patented a similar idea. One major difference is that while Sun’s container-based datacenter would be a self-contained computing cluster, Google would treat their containers as very large rackmounts, where a container could operate on its own or as part of a cluster of other computing containers. Robert Cringely has some interesting speculation on the way Google might use these datacenters.

1337 H4X0RZ in a Shipping Container

Invisigoth from the “X-Files” episode “Kill Switch” — a skinny pale blonde woman, dressed in black, wearing way too much makeup.
“Invisigoth” from the X-Files episode Kill Switch

The idea of setting up a non-enterprise computing center in a shipping container isn’t new, either. Kill Switch, one of the X-Files episodes written by William Gibson, featured a hacker who went by the handle “Invisigoth” who lived and did her work in a shipping container.

The episode also featured a down-market version of a computing cluster in a shipping container: an old trailer, packed with computers, sitting in a remote field and connected to the internet through a T1 line, which was an even bigger deal back in 1998.

A Cafe in a Shipping Container

Where there are computer programmers, there must also be caffeine. Consider the fact that the nerd store ThinkGeek has a whole section devoted to the substance. One of my favorite sayings was adapted from a line in mathematician Paul Erdos’ biography, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: “A programmer is a machine for converting caffeine into software.”

It logically follows that if there are computing centers in shipping containers, there should also be some kind of caffeine dispensers in shipping containers as well. Here come artist Adam Kalkin and fancy-pants coffee vendor Illy to the rescue:

Shipping container that converts into an Illy Cafe.

Here’s an excerpt from Illy’s news release:

For the 52nd International Art Exhibition in Venice illycaffè is partnering with the Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia for the fourth time.

At the Biennale illy will provide art-lovers and coffee connoisseurs a beautiful space to relax, reflect and enjoy a perfect cup of espresso. Visitors to illymind, the rest and refreshment area founded by illy in 2003, will be introduced to the Push Button House which opens like a flower and transforms from a compact container into a fully furnished and functional space with the push of a button. View video.

After the preview at Art Basel Miami Beach, the Push Button House, a work designed by American artist-architect Adam Kalkin and redesigned for the presence of illycaffè at the 52nd International Art Exhibition, arrives for the first time in Europe.

Kalkin is known for designing comfortable spaces and placing them in unusual contexts. Visitors to the Push Button House will experience the artist’s ability to transform industrial materials into a domestic masterpiece, beautifully contrasting between the indoor and outdoor worlds, while enjoying complimentary illy espresso for a complete authentic Italian experience. The entire work was created from recyclable materials.

If I had the money, I’d take one of these things wherever I went.


Old WWII poster “somebody blabbed” updated to include a gPhone.

Michael Bazely writes that a loose-lipped Google employee at the Apple Store in Emeryville confirmed the existence of the fabled gPhone:

So I’m standing in the Emeryville Apple store today trying to troubleshoot a problem with a sales rep when a young woman bolts up to us saying she wants an iPhone. Like, now. After some back-and-forthing about the particulars, she says she’s a Google employee and she was going to wait for a demo of the gPhone, but it turns out Google’s only letting 30 people test it internally and she’s not one of them. So she’s going with the iPhone instead.

At which point, the Apple rep and I exchange glances and he says “gPhone? So it’s real, huh?” And the Google gal realizes she’s probably said too much and changes the subject.

Take this with a grain of salt. Spreading gPhone rumours at the Apple Store sounds like something that an ambitious viral marketer might try or something I might do if I were much younger and really, really, really bored.


Google Maps: Now Embeddable, Just Like YouTube Videos

by Joey deVilla on August 21, 2007

Expect to see more maps embedded in blog entries shortly: Google Maps are now embeddable, YouTube-style. No longer do you need an API key or JavaScript know-how to add a Google Map to your blog entries and web pages — if you know how to embed a YouTube video, you also know how to embed a Google Map. Congratulations to Google on a job well done!

I decided to try it out by getting the code to embed a map showing the location of the Tucows head office, shown below:

View Larger Map


Google Directions Now Include a Rush Hour Estimate

by Joey deVilla on August 2, 2007

Many lanes of traffic

It may be a small addition, but it’s a useful one. You know how Google Maps directions give you an estimate of how long your trip will take? They now include an additional estimate: how long your trip will take in traffic.