April Fools 2010: A tech roundup

I think it’s safe to say that for me, April Fools day is purely about what tech sites / companies will do to try and entertain us geeks. I sure spent some time yesterday chuckling away at most people’s efforts, and in some cases being completely underwhelmed [but overhyped] , but god damn, it was a pleasant change from the other gazillion articles I saw yesterday; watered-down, I-want-to-have-iPad-babies reviews from Pogue, Mossberg and co.

ANYWAY, back to matters at hand after that impromptu rant, below is a list of some of the stuff I saw yesterday that I thought was pretty cool.

Google Australia: Maps just got OCCA

…By synthesising millions of aggregated search inputs from Australians as well as scanning 23 seasons of Home and Away scripts, we are able to Optimise for Colloquial Cultural Articulation (OCCA) – which means our products can now be tailored specifically for the typical Strayan user.

To give you an example, we already know that if someone searches for ‘cricket’ in Australia they’re more likely interested in the sport than the insect. With our new OCCA framework, we can now go further and tell that if an Aussie searches on “automatic wiki”, they’re probably referring to the automatic wicket keeper common in backyard cricket and not an automatically updated bulletin board or “wiki”.

Google UK: Google Translate for animals

Introducing Translate for Animals (beta): Bridging the gap between animals and humans…

Translate for Animals is an application for Android phones that recognises and transcribes words and phrases that are common to a species, like cats for example. To develop Translate for Animals, we worked closely with many of the world’s top language synthesis teams, and with leaders in the field of animal cognitive linguistics, including senior fellows at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.


I downloaded the app, meowed into it, and I think it understood me purrfectly!


Youtube: TEXTp – videos in ASCII characters

TEXTp is the result of months of intense transcoding efforts by our engineers, who toiled for weeks to ensure that a large chunk of videos on the platform could be reduced to their most basic elements. By replacing the images in the video with a series of letters and numbers, the videos are far less taxing on our system — and have the added benefit of promoting literacy!


Sadly, this seems to have disappeared, but it was pretty damn cool!

Atlassian: Fourwalls

Developers are cool. Location-based services are cool. Fourwalls combines both. Do the math. Or we will–it’s a location-based service for developer check-ins.


TechCrunch: Introducing The Do-It-Yourself CrunchPad Kit

…while we continue to clean up the mess that our Asian contractor left behind we’ve been hard at work on a new project that lets anyone create an iPad like device from any laptop screen. It’s called the CrunchPad Kit and it goes on sale now. Best of all, we’re selling this for just $49 as an introductory price.

You’re only thinking one thing after you’ve seen that: “Who needs the iPad?!”.

I’ve been following the woes of the CrunchPad for a while, so this was great news! Good for you, Arrington!


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