It's been said that Google might someday take over the world. With its tendrils reaching into everything from phones to TV, it can pretty much go anywhere it wants to go. But perhaps Google isn't your typical corporate behemoth — at least it has a sense of humor.
Nothing exemplifies the drollery of the Google engineers more than the multitude of "easter eggs" scattered around the breadth of services offered by the company.
No, we're not talking about the dyed, sugary or rolled variety. We're talking about those little treasures of delight hidden by software programmers that make grown adults giggle. Google's programmers have tons of them hidden throughout Google-dom, and they've spilled over to other non-Google sites as well. Here's a sampling of our favorites.
For the best results, you'll want to turn off Google Instant. Go ahead open up a clean Google page, type in whatever you want, and then move your cursor over to the right side of the search field. You'll see something that says "Instant is on." Click to turn Instant off, and you'll be taken back to Google's homepage the way it used to be: you type in what you want to search at your leisure. We'll let you know if you should hit "I'm Feeling Lucky" — or IFL — to see the Google giggle. It's not always necessary, but it never hurts.
From a clean Google page (see the instructions directly above), type in "where are my socks" and hit IFL. There are lots of great giggles like this. Although a Google clone, this one is still great — type "find Chuck Norris" and hit IFL.
Oh, and for all our esoteric friends, type "recursion" into the search window. That'll keep you entertained for hours. (Hint: look at what Google suggests you mean. Think about it!)
When's the last time you used a hardware calculator? Why bother, when typing equations into Google gives you the answer? Even better, Google's math wizards have a keen sense of humor. Type in "what is the loneliest number?" or "how many horns on a unicorn?" Anyone familiar with "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" will appreciate the response when you search for "answer to life, the universe and everything."
Sure, English is fine and good, but it's more fun to talk like a pirate, right? From the Google.com main page, type in "google pirate" and click "I'm Feeling Lucky," which turns into "I Be Feelin' Lucky" and your settings, "Me Likes an' Dislikes." Typing "google bork" turns Google into the Swedish chef from the Muppets. And our fav, "google Klingon."
Do you think programmers have way too much time on their hands? Type "google loco" and hit IFL and things get, well, loco. There's "google Elmer Fudd," "google pig latin," "google gothic," and "google weenie" and its big brother, "google epic." Careful — typing in "google elgoog" and hitting IFL might make your head hurt. (Again, make sure Google Instant search is turned off.)
Getting directions online is as common as getting email. To keep folks on their toes, Google Maps likes to throw in a few curve balls. From Google Maps, click on the "Get Directions" tab. Enter Japan as the start, China as the destination, and scroll down to step #43. Want a greener option? Start from Los Angeles, CA and end in Honolulu, HI and check out step #13. Hungry? Look at these coordinates on satellite view: 37.646362,-115.751004
Street View has been in the news quite a bit, catching thieves and in general, raising questions about privacy. But, lots of folks are just having fun with it. Who better to know when the Street View car is coming by than the Google staffers themselves? Check 'em out by searching for Charleston Road, Mountain View, CA and dragging the Street View guy out on the street.
Enter "Niniane kicks ass" to get there quicker. Who's Niniane? A former programmer for Google Maps, who put in that direct link to the Google HQ. In an interview, she mentions that Google gives employees 20% of their time to work on personal projects. Guess that's one of hers. Can you spot the Street View guy himself? He's standing right near the marriage proposal. Another fun Street View is the marching band on Sampsonia Way in Pittsburgh, PA.
Not as funny by itself, but a useful Google feature is the ability to limit searches and there's fun to be had in it. Use http://www.google.com/unclesam to search only within government websites. You can also search www.google.com/linux, /bsd, /mac, and search for all Microsoft-related items here: http://www.google.com/microsoft.html.
Trying to think of something to make for dinner? A long-time giggle is in your Gmail page. On most of your mail folders, there will be a banner ad across the top of the list of emails. However, when you're viewing your spam folder, those ads are replaced with recipes for SPAM. Today's recipe was for SPAM Hashbrown Casserole. Yum!
While you're in Gmail, take a closer look at your trash folder. Here, the banner ads are replaced with green/recycling tips. Today's advice: "You can make a lovely hat out of previously-used aluminum foil." Nice.
The revolutionary way to view maps is even more fun when you hit Ctrl + Alt + A all at once on a PC, or Command + Option + A on a Mac. That changes the fly-over to Flight Simulator. And while you're in Google Earth, be sure to check out the North Pole.
Google skins are a nice way to jazz up your browser bar, and there's a large selection of them to choose from. However, something fun happens every morning at 3:14 am PST to many of them. For example, the Loch Ness Monster makes an appearance in the beach theme, Northern Lights appear in the Winter Scape, and a UFO invades in the City Scape.
There's even "pi in the sky" on the Sweet Dreams skin. Get it — pi, at 3:14am? We know there are more, but who wants to wake up at 3:14 am to find them all? Those clever programmers — since they have to spend so many sleepless nights at the computer, they thought it would be fun to make us lose some sleep too.