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Buried deep in Google

Google is known for its jokes, tricks, 'Easter eggs' and other fun oddities that are embedded into its site and software

By Tom Spring
March 19, 2008 12:00 PM ET

PC World - Google Inc. Web site -- and much of the company's software -- is loaded with gags, goofs and "Easter eggs" that have helped Google maintain a fun-loving spirit in the cutthroat world of Web competition.

Of course, Google always has a good idea. Thousands of our readers have enjoyed past explorations of wonders like "The Strangest Sites in Google Earth" and ""The Most Spectacular Sights in Google Sky."

So when we heard stories of hidden teddy bears, a Google Romance beta service and early morning appearances of the Loch Ness monster on Google home pages, we had to check them out. And most of them turned out to be true. Take a look.

Google's Official Easter Egg Game

It's one thing to find so-called Easter eggs, and it's another thing to catch them. In the spirit of Easter, Google has posted its Google egg-drop game, in which the user tries to get a hopping rabbit to move side to side and collect eggs in a basket. The only real point of this game is to catch eggs that spell out "G-O-O-G-L-E." Sorry, no chocolate eggs for those who win.

Something Spooky Just After 3 a.m.

You could take the high road (or the low road) to Scotland's Loch Ness in hopes of spotting the elusive Nessie, the legendary monster said to reside there. But if you'd rather do your mythic beastie viewing at home in the wee hours of the morning, set your alarm to 3:14 a.m. and your browser to the beach-themed iGoogle page. At precisely that time each day, Nessie surfaces for 60 seconds, then takes a deep breath and dives back under the dark loch's surface. Why that time of the morning? Well, according to programmers' lore, Google developers did it to pay homage to the mathematical quantity Pi. Other iGoogle pages using themes have spooky Easter eggs of their own. In the Seasonal Scape, the Northern Lights also appear at 3:14 a.m. Look for UFOs to descend on the City Scape. A monster appears in Spring Scape; and in the Tea House theme, ghostlike fox spirits (well known in Japanese folklore) appear and disappear in the mist of the lake as the fox sleeps.

Measuring Spam by the Pound

Ever wish you could simply press a button and have all of your Gmail messages printed, sorted, boxed and shipped to your front door? If you care about keeping your carbon footprint at something smaller than Paul Bunyan dimensions, you'll be glad to know that no such service exists, despite an elaborate hoax that Google perpetrated to make Gmail users believe otherwise. As part of a 2007 April Fools' Day joke, Google announced the debut of Gmail Paper, which would allow users to create hard copies of their entire Gmail accounts. In a nod toward environmental consciousness, Google said that it would avoid cutting trees down to print people's Gmail archives, instead using paper composed of "96% postconsumer organic soybean sputum. Oh well.

Reprinted with permission from PCWorld.com. Story copyright 2012 PC World Communications. All rights reserved.
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