Category Archives: internet
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:
- Scratch and Sniff (2008) and its reference to books vis-a-vis print getting more digitized;
- Jobs at Copernicus Center (2004) with its nice illustrations and great geek-y copy;
- Gmail Paper (2007) and how it resounds so much with life around email;
- Gmail Custom Time (2008), in relation to above entry;
- the CADIE (2009) project;
- last, but certainly not the least, Google’s life-changing Gmail announcement (in relation to (2007) and (2008); see image grab above again for details).
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.
- Official site: Pacman.com
- Pacman 30 Years Anniversary site [Japanese] with downloadable artworks
- Pacman Facebook page
- GoogleBlogs about the Pac-man anniversary
- DOWNLOAD the game and play offline (no audio).
Play Pac-man online
- Freepacman.org [a fave site with a large Pac-man window. Also has a Space Invaders link]
*would have been nicer if the ‘spirit’ morphed into several people (i.e. races) even in some parts of her solo.
The Guardian.co.uk’s landmark compilation of stories of 40 years of the Internet — and by those who make up the Internet: people like you and I — presents the most attractive Internet timeline just yet.
Scanning through online aggregator’s snippets, specifically of favorite, minimalist popurls.com‘s site, led me to the 40-year tapestry of stories in short but very engaging prose. The linear web of accounts outlines the most important and updated milestones in the ‘Net’s continuing story that I simply feel compelled to share it here, especially to the generation that may not understand the exhilaration associated with (nor recognize the sound of) a digital modem handshake: the generation reared in broadband speed and e-games or playing “house” for hours in their chairs clicking away on their keyboards, or being highly dependent on online search engines — if not their cellphone keypads — for their homework.
…the first message (only the “L-O” of the word “L-O-G-I-N” travelled from UCLA to SRI before the first ‘Net crash…
The year 1969 is notable for many significant events.
In the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos was reelected for another 4-year term; The Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Makati (then, a municipality of Rizal Province, now, a city of Metropolitan Manila) had its campus groundbreaking and admitted its first batch of students.
In the Middle East, Moammar Khaddafy staged a coup and ousted Libya’s King Idris. In Asia, “the United States, governments of South and North Vietnam, and the Viet Cong met for the first plenary session of peace talks in Paris, France” [2|”American Assistance to the South”], yet Cambodia was at the receiving end of the USA’s B-52 bombs as exposed in the New York Times by William Beecher the same year. Meanwhile, Andy Warhol and Gerald Malanga co-founded Interview Magazine, The Boeing 747, which we grew up to know as the “Jumbo Jet”, took off ground for the first time  (as did France’s Concorde in its test flight). Dorothy Fisher became the first female heart transplant recipient under Dr. Christian Barnaard , and the first manned spaceflight lands on the moon .
Oh, that generation’s version of homeschooling, Sesame Street, premiered in the US the same year, too, and many Filipinos of the 70s, including myself, learned English grammar and alphabet from people interacting with puppets. In the flesh and beauty arena, dusky 18-year old Gloria Diaz made headlines for winning the Philipines’ first Miss Universe crown.
(if video above does not load, watch it here)
This post is populated by information made possible in one sitting without getting off my chair, as I, like many from today’s generation who I mean to address, and from the generation ahead of mine, am a beneficiary of all the events mentioned above; but, more profoundly, by this much less significant event in 1969 that is now capable of calling back the past at one’s behest.
These days, many attribute the Internet as this generation’s “great leveler”. It is just 40 years old, yet, like many of the darkened areas of the world maps back in those days, the internet — as technology and way of life — has still to touch the world’s majority population.
I wonder what people’s history will be like, how the ‘Net will play out in the next 40 years, if we only look back to any of the these significant events, and learn, particularly from those that deal with conflict, crises and territoriality, to build a better world for others from here.