Google Christmas crackers!

Google always strike me as a fun and playful global giant, which always tries to be a little bit eccentric and different. This year in the run up to Christmas, I have so far found three of Google’s ‘Easter egg’ – which is basically another way of saying hidden, but findable jokes.

The first of the Easter eggs I have found is some Christmas lights. These come up underneath the search box when you search for the word ‘Christmas’ or many different phrases with the world ‘Christmas’ in them, like ‘Merry Christmas’. It’s not much, but it is festive 🙂

Google's Easter Egg Christmas LightsThe second Easter egg is much more exciting! When you search for the words ‘Let It Snow’ Google will take you to the search result, and everything will seem normal – for a second or two. Then all of a sudden, snowflakes will start to fall from the top of your browser, and the screen will start to mist up! You can then demist your browser either by clicking ‘Defrost’ or by using your mouse – although you still need to click the button to start using Google again. Its a really good touch by Google, really gets you in the holiday spirit!

Snow falling on a Google search page

When you type 'Let It Snow' into Google, it starts snowing in your browser!

Google Frosted/Misted Up

After a few seconds of snow, Google becomes very frosty!

The final Easter egg I have found is with the Google owned site YouTube. On some videos – I still haven’t found a link – a snowflake icon comes up on the bottom bar of the video, which if you click, gives you falling snow over the video, which you can control with your mouse.

After a bit of research I have found one more Easter egg! If you type in ‘Hanukkah’ you get some special decorations, which appear like the Christmas lights, underneath the search box.

Finally, something that isn’t actually hidden, but worth mentioning is Google’s message from Santa. SendACallFromSanta.com is courtesy of Gmail, and lets you design a personalised message which Santa can either phone home with, (if you live in the USA or Canada) or create an animated video which can be sent via email. It is totally free and can be used for Children and Adults alike, due to the various serious and humorous options.

Google seem to want to get us in the festive spirit, so now give you my festive wishes 🙂

Merry Christmas Everyone!

YouTube’s most watched UK videos of 2011

In the run up to Christmas, I thought we were due a fun, quirky post, so this post is about the most watched videos 2011 on YouTube in the United Kingdom 🙂

YouTube's LogoIn 10th place is a video called Diary of a bad man 5. With 16,026 likes and just 839 dislikes many people seem to like the humour that HumzaProductions (the videos makers) created. It’s an odd one, you either like it or you hate it, why not watch it and find out?


Masterchef Synesthesia by YouTuber Swede Mason is the 9th most watched video on YouTube of 2011. It is a funny (and rather weird) song that has been made out of clips from the TV show MasterChef. It’s very well put together, so I have included it below for your enjoyment 🙂

The video of Michael Collings audition for Britain’s Got Talent is 8th on the list. This is the story of an IT engineer who works in a computer shop in Plymouth, and decided to enter the show Britain’s Got Talent. Most people prejudged him, including the judges, however he turned out to be a really good singer. 76,212 likes vs 920 dislikes really does show how popular this video is!

asdfmovie4 by TomSka is in 7th place. Depending upon your type of humour will depend as to whether you find it funny or not, but considering it has over 14,000,000 views, I am guessing that most people do find it little humorous, although rather… weird at the same time – maybe not one to watch with young children.

6th place goes to the very funny T-Mobile publicity video called The T-Mobile Royal Wedding. The video, at first, looks like it was made by someone with a camera, at the actual Royal Wedding, however it soon becomes apparent that it is a really funny spoof! I just had to include this one 🙂

In 5th place is a very controversial video. The video is a dubbed version of Rebecca Black’s Friday song called Rebecca Black “Friday” (Brock’s Dub). Some people find it amusing, whilst others say that the strong language isn’t justified, and that the ending is a bit harsh. Out of the 447,893 ratings, just 14,295 people dislike it, so it would seem that overall the public really like the video.

4th place goes to Charlie Sheen’s song: Winning. A bit like the MasterChef video, it’s a song made up of loads of different clips. Again, most people would find it funny, however the video does have 5,957 dislikes which may suggest otherwise, that said, it does have 276,113 likes.

I am not quite sure how, but in 3rd place is a video called Nyan Cat [original]. Only around 5% of ratings don’t like the video, but I just don’t get it! Watch it for yourself and see if you can explain its popularity.

In 2nd place is a video of two babies, seemingly holding an entire conversation in baby! The video is called Talking Twin Babies – PART 2 – OFFICIAL VIDEO and is posted by jayrandall22011. It is cute, and slightly amusing, but I think it could be much better were it to be dubbed, with funny captions, like many of the other videos in the top ten are 🙂

Finally, the winner of the most watched video on YouTube 2011 is the Ultimate Dog Tease! The video is very funny and is basically a video of a normal dog, which has been dubbed to make it look like it is talking. The maker, Talking Animals (AKA klaatu42) has made loads of other similar videos, like ones with a beaver on the road, a cat playing I Spy and many other funny ones. Non however are quite as popular at the Ultimate Dog Tease. For your enjoyment, here is the video.

From all the above videos, it would seem that if you want to become a YouTube phenomenon, you need to be funny! All of the above videos aim to be funny, with the exception of Michael Collings audition for Britain’s Got Talent.

What’s your favourite video?

Can We Improve the Health of the Planet? A Series.

“Have a bias towards action – let’s see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away.” – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

A couple of weeks ago I read Christopher’s article on this blog entitled ‘We Need to Act on Climate Change For The Sake Of Others’ and it started me thinking about green technology.

Scientists are in general agreement that the Earth is warming, there is plenty of debate as to why however. A large proportion claims that this warming factor is caused (or at least worsened) by human actions such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation.

Members of this group therefore believe that we need to produce energy without burning fossil fuels and that we should take other steps to avoid releasing carbon into the atmosphere such as stopping deforestation (incidentally this is cause number 1, burning fossil fuels is secondary in comparison). I should say I count myself amongst them.

An unhealthy planet

Every Thursday over the next month or so I am going to post one of a series of articles that will look at different aspects of these problems. I want to propose an argument that I borrow from the sociological study of science and is directly drawn from an economic analysis. It is simple, and should be borne in mind when reading the posts.

When we think about costs we only think about money. How much for example does a litre of petrol cost? Or a flight to Boston from London? “Oh $3.50 a litre” or “$1200 dollars” we might say. But this excludes social and environmental costs that should be added on, a bit like governments add on VAT.

The real cost of my litre of petrol should include various other factors. How did the raw materials come out of the ground? Did the company leave a mess and pollute the local drinking water in the process? How was it refined, and transported? How much did the local people who live nearby suffer or benefit from its production? And finally how much pollution will it cause when I burn it?

And here we have a sliding scale, LPG is environmentally less damaging and therefore environmentally cheaper than petrol. By this logic natural gas might be cheaper than wood to heat your house too (unless produced through fracking some would argue), and taking the train might be cheaper than taking the bus. I hope this is a little clearer than a bland phrase about ‘going green’  and offers a slightly more defined point of view.

The series will be structured something like the following:

  • Environmentally cost efficient transport
  • Electricity production
  • Engineering climate change
  • Problems faced and the miracle cure
  • Conclusions and a review of comments

I hope to present you with some interesting new technologies that really offer a much ‘greener’ future, as well as looking at some of the ways that different institutions view and approach the problems that I will address.

I am certainly not pessimistic about the future but I don’t believe that ‘technology will save the day’ on its own, but a little thought and a few small actions from a lot a people can make an enormous difference (as someone once said).

I hope you will follow and comment, and don’t hold back on your criticisms, that is what I am here for.