Sunday, 24 August 2014

Keep Calm and Google It

What Did We Do Before Google?
PJ O'Rourke remarked that for those who are always sighing for a return to the romantic past of horse-drawn carriages and a slower pace of life, he had only one word: "Dentistry!"  To that I would add: hot showers, antibiotics, tampons, TimTams  and votes for women. But I would trade all of those modern miracles (well, maybe not the TimTams) for the boon that Larry Page and Sergey Brin have bestowed upon the world: Google!

Here are just a few more of Google's accomplishments that I have discovered lately:
The Timer
A scenario that happens far too often in my house: I put something on the stove to simmer. Rather than stand in the kitchen staring at the pot for the next twenty minutes,  I wander off to my computer. Half an hour later, I smell burning.  

But that is all behind me now that I have discovered that I can type: set timer 20 minutes into the Google search box and voila! Twenty minutes later my computer emits a shrill beeping. By the time I have figured out how to switch it off, the thing has burnt anyway. But that's just me.

Happy Holidays
Arranging a trip? Need to know what dates holidays fall on? Whatever country you want to travel to, type in "Good Friday 2015" or "Canada Day" or "Thanksgiving" … Google is like Father Christmas, it goes everywhere.

What was that song again?
Type in "Songs by Lady Gaga" or "Songs by Justin Bieber' of even "Songs by Max Bygrave", and up comes a comprehensive list so you can find the one that you kept humming but couldn't remember its name.

I know the author, and there's a tree on the cover, but the title escapes me …
Even easier. "Books by Martin Amis", "books by Joseph Conrad" – up comes a lovely row of dust jackets. It doesn't have to be a famous author – Google even knows all the books by Shane Warne, for goodness' sake.

The Margaret and David Special
Type in "john ford films" or "marilyn monroe films" for a lovely row of movie posters for that director or actor. "Magnificent seven cast" will give you a row of head shots of all the actors who were in the cast. I can never remember the seventh Magnificent One at pub quiz!

Early to bed and early to rise …
I don't really know why anyone would want this information, but Google can tell you the time of sunrise and sunset for any town in the world. Of course it is a lovely toy and a useful timewaster … type in "Sunrise Melbourne Australia". 6:52am, says Google in a flash. Didn't even have to think about it. I wonder what about Melbourne, USA? Hah! They slept in. Lazy bludgers – sun only rose at 6:57am there! And so on, until I smell burning from the kitchen. Should have set the timer!  

Food Wars
What are the relative calories, carbs and sugar in two foods? Should I have potato or sweet potato? Ice cream or chocolate? Given a choice of green beans and chocolate, what would be the healthier option? Type in "green beans vs chocolate" and see what wishful thinking gets you.  Note: v doesn't do it, you have to put vs between the two contenders.

We all know Google is a calculator, and it should be old hat, but I just love telling it "6% of 3462" and watching the answer appear faster than Dustin Hoffman could come up with it. Of course Google doesn't stutter, but still.

Who needs Sadie if they have Google?
Would you prefer to put your feet up and read a book rather than vacuum? Type in "vacuum the living room" and Google will extrude a small robot vacuum cleaner … no, not really. But who knows. I can remember, as a child helping my mum with the washing up and saying: "Wouldn't it be nice if there was a machine to do this …" How we laughed.

And once you have finished playing with Google, type in "zerg rush". The yellow and red letters O from Google will float onto your screen and eat everything on it. You can try and shoot them down by clicking on them, but that will only slow them up a bit. Soon your screen will be blank except for a triumphant GG formed by the victorious Os. Play again? Maybe my shooting will improve. Wait! Do I smell burning?

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