Google was built by geeky programmers, and geeky programmers have a great sense of humour. For evidence, look no further than the weird range of bonus features hidden in Google's search and other products.
Some of these have featured in our earlier roundup of software Easter eggs; others are more recent additions. None of them are strictly speaking productivity enhancements, but they're useful for impressing friends and relatives if you've got a spare moment at the PC.
10. Calculator searches
Entering a sum or a conversion into Google's main search box will usually produce a solution, but the calculator also has some odder answers up its sleeve. Ask it "What is the loneliest number?" and it comes back with 1. Other fun phrases to try: "once in a blue moon" and "the answer to life, the universe and everything".
9. ASCII art
ASCII art is the proud geek tradition of making images from letters and numbers (a skill which dates back to dot-matrix printers and fixed-width fonts). Search for "ascii art" on Google and the site pays its own tribute by rendering the Google logo as ASCII art. (Minor geek fail: searching for "ASCII art" doesn't work, the term needs to be lower case — we've corrected this here from an earlier version.)
8. I'm Feeling Lucky
There's a host of Google searches that give interesting results if you click on the 'I'm Feeling Lucky' button (which normally takes you straight to Google's top-ranked result). Our favourite remains searching for the phrase "find Chuck Norris", which results in the warning pictured above. Others convert the Google page into various languages or change the logo. Here's a few options to try in conjunction with the I'm Feeling Lucky button:
- ewmew fudd
- Google Linux
- Google NSD
- Google l33t
7. Picasa Teddy Bears
What's better than Picasa? Picasa with teddy bears! Type Control-Shift-Y in Picasa and teddy bears will randomly appear on the screen; repeat the keyboard shortcut for more ursine mayhem.
6. Reader goes Ninja
In a similar vein, you can add ninjas to Reader, though the access code is a tad more complicated. Type the following sequence while in Reader — up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a — and you'll see Reader transformed, albeit not terribly usefully (since all the unread counts are set to 30). Reload the page to restore things to normal. (The keyboard shortcut comes from an old hack used to access cheat modes in older Konami games.)
Chances are you know what an anagram is, so Google can afford a small in-joke. Search for anagram and you'll be asked: "Did you mean nag a ram?"
4. Google Earth Flight Simulator
Boy, did someone have time on their hands for this one. Type Control-Alt-A in Google Earth and you'll have access to a fairly comprehensive flight simulator. That takes a bit of mastering, so check out how the controls work.
Not exactly a search result or a hidden feature, but so cool it deserves mentioning yet again. Go to www.google.com.au/pacman/ and click on 'Insert Coin' for a fully playable, Google-adapted version of Pacman (use the arrow keys on your keyboard to play).
2. YouTube Snake
The classic Snake game is a staple of Nokia phones, but if you fancy playing it over your favourite music clip, hit YouTube, start the video and then hold down the left arrow key for two seconds. Google Operating System notes that it won't work with videos that include annotations or ads, and also points to a similar option within Gmail Labs.
OK, this is a really geeky joke to finish on, but it's hard to resist. If you search for recursion, Google immediately asks "Did you mean recursion?" If that means nothing to you, hit Wikipedia for the explanation.
Got other favourite hidden Google gags? Share them in the comments.
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