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Robert MacMillan's Random Access

Treat Me Like a Fool

By Robert MacMillan
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Friday, April 1, 2005; 9:51 AM

Google appears to be dodging and feinting with its April Fools' Day lineup. Users of its Gmail e-mail program encountered a bar graph and a short note explaining the company's new project, Infinity + 1. The news seems suspect enough, but if so, the Associated Press and News.com bought it.

But more on that in a moment. Google's obvious joke shows up on a link off its homepage to Google Gulp -- the Beta version. With the tagline "Quench your thirst for knowledge," Google defines its new drink line like this: "Think a DNA scanner embedded in the lip of your bottle reading all 3 gigabytes of your base pair genetic data in a fraction of a second, fine-tuning your individual hormonal cocktail in real time using our patented Auto-Drink technology, and slamming a truckload of electrolytic neurotransmitter smart-drug stimulants past the blood-brain barrier to achieve maximum optimization of your soon-to-be-grateful cerebral cortex. Plus, it's low in carbs!" Sample the flavors here.

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I won't spend time ruining your enjoyment of wonderful, new Google Gulp, but see the history, the frequently asked questions and especially the legal fine print. We can't help but publish that here in its entirety:

"From time to time, in order to improve Google Gulp's usefulness for our users, Google Gulp will send packets of data related to your usage of this product from a wireless transmitter embedded in the base of your Google Gulp bottle to the GulpPlex, a heavily guarded, massively parallel server farm whose location is known only to Eric Schmidt, who carries its GPS coordinates on a 64-bit-encrypted smart card locked in a stainless-steel briefcase handcuffed to his right wrist. No personally identifiable information of any kind related to your consumption of Google Gulp or any other current or future Google Foods product will ever be given, sold, bartered, auctioned off, tossed into a late-night poker pot, or otherwise transferred in any way to any untrustworthy third party, ever, we swear. See our Privacy Policy."

The Joke's on Us

Here are a few other April Fools' Day items that we found loitering on the Internet this morning:

* Media Bistro's FishbowlDC site reports that departing "Nightline" host Ted Koppel will replace Reliable Source gossip columnist Richard Leiby at The Washington Post: "Starting with the Nightline star, the Reliable Source column will feature highlights from a one-on-one four-course interview, conducted at a rotating cycle of D.C.'s finest restaurants. In a first for the WaPoCo and in a sign of how the company is building synergy with its acquisition of Slate.com, Koppel's edited intimate dining room chats will be available as a podcast on Slate.com." We like the way they dropped in the Podcast.

* From Slashdot: A New Zealand man wrote that his fetish for gadgets has become so extreme that he and his wife will sell their son for $30,000 to a couple from California: "There's nothing sinister about this, he's not going into child slavery or anything, Randy and Linda just really liked his demeanor, and they're keen on a Kiwi kid because they're usually so healthy. I hear $30 grand is a really good number these days." On his wishlist are a "nice" G4 Powerbook, a Mac mini for home, an Alienware PC gaming rig, a Sony PSP and/or a Nintendo DS as well as a portable media player." Ha ha, selling children. Very funny.

* Another good one from Slashdot: This item links to a request for comments paper on "Requirements for Morality Sections in Routing Area Drafts." Among the observations by "A. Farrel" of "Old Dog Consulting:" "[A]ttempts to restore appropriate behavior and purge the community of improper activities are not always easy or architecturally pleasant. Further, it is possible that certain protocol designs make morality particularly hard to achieve."

* Wikipedia's English homepage wins the award for creating the most confusion. We really weren't sure. Is the featured story on the history of toilets and lavatory paper a sophisticated exploration of a most important topic? Or is it just toilet humor? Find out more about the integrated bidet and the nature of the nihilartikel.

* The Biloxi Sun Herald newspaper in Mississippi ran a selection of some of history's more fanciful April 1 gags. Among them is a techie gem about "Webnode" -- "In 1999 Business Wire announced a new company, Webnode. This company, according to a press release, was granted a government contract to regulate ownership of 'nodes' on the 'Next Generation Internet.' Each node (there were over 50 million) represented a route that data could travel. The company was licensed to sell each node for $100. Nodes would increase in value with traffic and owners receive usage fees. Offers to buy shares in nonexistent Webnode poured in."

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