Neuroscientist, Gary Small, tells CBS News’ Daniel Sieberg how technology may be making us smarter.
View other videos of Dr. Gary Small on his website here.
Of all the April Fool’s Day jokes I eagerly await for, it’s Google’s that makes or breaks it for me.
Ever since its first April Fools Day joke pulled off to very unsuspecting users like myself in 2000, of its “Mental Plex” page (back then, the term “‘netizen” was still so much in vogue, preceded by the clichéd “information superhighway”, and “broadband speed” at home was a dream state we all wished to have), Google’s April Fool’s Day pages were the ones that’d get women like myself, inclined to a little bit of geeky-ness, happily face-palming and getting like-minded discussants into hours-long analyses, Google easter egg lists and such, in forums and chat rooms (it was even more fun when newer members joined in).
Eleven years into this tradition with a few hits and misses — TISP‘s description was so obvious it was corny even before I clicked on the link — Google’s April 1st jokes rank among those diversions that make hours of soaking up information online delightful.
Thinking that 2011’s Google’s Motion (Beta) could be a Mac-specific feature similar to LiquidMac, a fun, novelty app that mimics the movement of liquid in a computer by its orientation (using Apple laptops’ built-in sudden motion sensor technology), I thought , falling into the Apple-user snob mode I realized I hadn’t completely shed off yet (and feeling a little sorry for it), “So, is this cross-platform?,” yet something ticked the instant curiosity pushed the button.
This time, Google caught me off-guard. And a smack on the cheek to go with it. Fun!
My favorite April Fools Day Google joke so far are:
Finally, a shoutout to Google and YouTube’s April Fools Day continuing collaboration. In celebration of Jackie Chan’s recently wrapped up film 1911 (ironically, Jackie Chan was just the subject of a Twitter hoax two days ago), YouTube’s wayback window and logo are too good to miss, I can’t let this pass.
It’s the original Pac-man I’m writing about (not a boxer’s monicker) which Google merited an anniversary GoogleDoodle in animated .png format. What a nice morning surprise!
Next to Tetris, I still have a couple of Pac-man versions installed in my computer which I call upon every now and then to officially divert me from ‘work’, a carry-over from the PC days. I hope I’m not alone in this, what with the vast selection of available games for today’s hardware.
Particularly interesting is the story about how its creator, Toru Iwatani, targeted females for this game after establishing the main character’s “look” inspired by an order of pizza minus one slice:
Now that he had the look, he needed that special something to attract his target audience. After listening to girls talk to one another, Iwatani determined that food and eating would be the way to get the fairer sex interested in arcade games. (REF: Top 100 Game Creators)
Google never ceases to surprise its visitors, and with today’s animated, PLAYABLE doodle, it sure does know how to make each user go back to when computing and computer use was basic and fun. The doodle goes live for 48 hours, after which I hope they archive it like they do their easter eggs and all other commemorative doodles.
An insanely fun Friday!
Toru Iwatani, creator
Wired.com has a Q&A article on Toru Iwatani, Pac-man’s creator, in which, besides confirming the game’s intended target, also gives an insight into Japanese culture:
…Japanese youngsters really wanted “ghost” type characters — not necessarily modeled on creatures, but things that don’t really exist in this world. Even within animation, they want characters that are the products of the writer’s imaginations. In North America at the time, the games were about car races or warfare. They wanted games that simulated the real world, whereas Japan wanted otogibanashi (fairy tales).
Also, when you look at Japanese games, the characters may be deformed in such a way that their heads are half of their total height. This was not popular in the U.S., as you know, they wanted real proportional humans. In Japan, dolls like Hello Kitty are deformed into a different shape, into an animal that doesn’t really exist. The dolls in the U.S. would be a real cat… (REF: Q&A: Pac-Man Creator Reflects on 30 Years of Dot-Eating, Wired.com)
And if Google’s commemorative, playable doodle isn’t enough of a gift, Pac-man’s Japanese site offers a lot of Pac-man goodies, too. My favorites are :
 The Pac-man Hallmark birthday card
Product Name: Birthday Card Publisher: HALLMARK CARD, INC (U.S.)
Release Date: July Price 2008: US $ 4.99 (U.S.)
Location: USA, Canada only Size: W15.5, H14 (cm)
 The Pac-man Wine Glass set with Cork coaster (Made in France)
 The Pac-Man Limited Collection Leather Wallet (I like the red one)
 The Pac-Man T Glass Beads and Prism by Kohei Nawa
 The Pac-Man T by Kentaro Kobuke
See the commemorative collection here. And this is just the 30th year.
And lastly, about the animated, interactive Google Pac-man doodle
“…Today, on PAC-MAN’s 30th birthday, you can rediscover some of your 8-bit memories—or meet PAC-MAN for the first time—through our first-ever playable Google doodle. To play the game, go to google.com during the next 48 hours (because it’s too cool to keep for just one day) and either press the “Insert Coin” button or just wait for a few seconds.
Google doodler Ryan Germick and I made sure to include PAC-MAN’s original game logic, graphics and sounds, bring back ghosts’ individual personalities, and even recreate original bugs from this 1980’s masterpiece…”
(Source: Googleblog|Celebrating Pac-man’s 30th Birthday)
He adds (emphasis mine):
“We also added a little easter egg: if you throw in another coin, Ms. PAC-MAN joins the party and you can play together with someone else (PAC-MAN is controlled with arrow keys or by clicking on the maze, Ms. PAC-MAN using the WASD keys).”
Now if they only did the same when Google commemorated Tetris.
Play Pac-man online
Spent way too much time on this since I first learned to use the computer in the ’80s. I still do. Spend time, that is.
I remember reading about Patrick Stewart being a Tetris fan and I felt comfort in knowing I was ‘sort of’ in good company. (Here’s the article fortunately still available for reading). Especially since other reads were too inclined towards scary calculations and math variables such as Ivaar Peterson’s article .
Fast-forward 21st century, researchers found a better way of qualifying Tetris through clinical tests that suggested it helped reduce Post-traumatic stress disorder [PSTD] (REF.) This is a nice angle to this addiction. It at least proved Alexey Pajitnov and friends’ hobby had social and medical value.
Happy birthday, Tetris. I know I’ll grow old still playing you.
(Graphic from Google’s commemorative Google page. Read about it.)