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Posted at 06:18 PM ET, 11/04/2011

Today in Tech: Google’s inside jokes, Siri’s outage and Amazon’s next Fire

Google plants inside jokes: On Thursday, a little Google Easter egg went viral on social network sites: typing “do a barrel roll” into a Google search box will make your search results pay loving homage to the Nintendo 64 game Starfox 64. (Not for those who are prone to motion-sickness.)

And, in a delightful nod to gamers in-the-know, you can get the same results by typing “z or r twice.” This little gem only works in browsers that support HTML5, and Google told ABC News that the query “was created by a Google software engineer with the primary goal of entertaining users - while showcasing the power of CSS3, a presentation feature of modern browsers.”

Other Google search Easter eggs include typing in “askew”or “tilt”into the search engine, typing “ascii art,” in reference to the design style that creates pictures out of keyboard characters, and the “Did you mean” text that pops up when you search for “recursion.”

Siri goes silent: Owners of the iPhone 4S, some of whom are still dealing with the battery drain issues from iOS 5, were further disappointed Thursday when Siri, the automated personal assistant on the phone, took some unapproved personal leave. Siri seemed to be back in service by late Thursday evening.

Siri does require an Internet connection to work, but the phone’s program said that it was having trouble establishing a network connection despite the fact that users had connections to their cellular networks. A user on Apple’s support forums reported that a company help line representative said the problems were due to “server issues.”

Amazon plans for next Kindle Fire? In the grand tradition of tech rumors, ahead of Amazon’s Kindle Fire’s big launch Nov. 15, Taiwanese tech site Digitimes reported Friday that the online retailer is already looking at its gadget’s next generation.

According to the report, Amazon is already working on a next-generation Kindle Fire with an 8.9-inch display, slightly larger than the 7-inch model due to launch in a couple of weeks. That would still be smaller than the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen, but could make the tablet a little bit better as a reader.

Groupon’s IPO: Groupon shares opened up 40 percent in morning trading at $28 per share, in the company’s first day on the NASDAQ index. In late morning, shares had slipped slightly to around $25 after hitting a high of $31.14. The stock closed at $26.11 per share.

The company priced its shares higher than expected at $20 on Thursday ahead of its public debut, for a valuation of approximately $1.3 billion, Bloomberg reported. It was the largest IPO for an Internet company since Google, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg make most powerful list: Who’s more powerful: Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg? According to Forbes Magazine’s annual list of the most powerful people in the world, the winner is Gates, thanks to the philanthropic work he’s been doing in what the magazine dubs “the most productive midlife crisis in history.” In fact, the list names Gates as the fifth most powerful person in the world, behind heads of state President Obama, Russian Prime Minister Vladi­mir Putin, Chinese President Hu Jintao and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

As for Zuckerberg, he’s further down the list at number 9, edging out British Prime Minister David Cameron. Zuckerberg is the youngest person on the list and is far younger than the rest of the top 10, by at least a couple of decades.

Holiday gift guide: Yup, it’s already that time of year. We’ve got some techy gift suggestions to get you started for the readers, gamers, travelers and others in your life.

By  |  06:18 PM ET, 11/04/2011

 
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