In the last week or so, I’ve seen a few of our favorite geek topics appear in pop culture. Twitter provided key clues in CSI. The Simpsons finally got Tivo. Doonesbury featured Pandora.
Tuesday’s Jeopardy! had as the Final Jeopardy! clue:
This company’s name is a variation on a word coined by Milton Sirotta & used in the book “Mathematics and the Imagination”
Answer after the video.
Jeopardy! answer: What is Google?
Google is a variant of googol, which is the number 1 with a hundred zeros after it. Larry Page was in my high school class and was fascinated with googol even back then.
Two of the three Jeopardy! contestants got it right. The other answered Yahoo!
Yahoo, by the way, originally stood for Yet Another Hierarchically Officious Oracle.
Bonus question: What is the name of the first search engine developed by Larry and Sergey?
(Bonus question courtesy of Adam Lasnik.)
Pictures from my trip to Lake Tahoe and Reno are online. Highlights of the trip were Emerald Bay, Virginia City and the National Automobile Museum in Reno. The museum is really the only thing in Reno I found worthwhile. Here is the map.
My friends who’ve seen me walk around with a GPS as I take pictures on vacation or hikes think I’m a little bit odd. But apparently, I’m not the only one. In the 15 months since Flickr officially supported geotagging, more than 35 million pictures have been geotagged — enough that they can launch Flickr Places to show them off.
One of my big complaints with most travel sites is that they downplay the visual and visceral elements that make travel fun. At Flickr Places, that’s front and center. Places offers a gorgeous travelogue of places around the world. You can see pictures, Flickr groups about the location and connect with photographers.
A tag cloud shows the top tags for an area; this sounds more useful than it is. Most places I searched came up with words like clouds, sunset, people, church. It’d be nice if the universal words were thrown out and the focus places on words that are unique or much more common for an area.
I’d also like to be able to zoom in on the map and see where the most photographed places are. (There are some data quality issues with this, but they’re manageable.)
Flickr also changed the way maps are presented. Although the maps and overall presentation are more visually appealing, some key functionality was lost. In the previous version, the map represented your search. If you zoomed in or out, the new map defined the boundaries. As a result, you could see new pictures that didn’t appear in the other view.
The World Map view now provides a tag visualization that shows the latest tags from around the world. (See my earlier coverage of World Explorer from Yahoo! Research.)
More on: flickr, geotagging
Google’s latest changes to My Maps allows you to collaborate on personal maps with others in much the same way you can share a Google Document or Spreadsheet.
You can also allow anyone to edit a map.
Group editing is great for maps that are too hard for one person to scale. Before this release, I started maps of free Wi-Fi and restaurants with outdoor dining. Now I can invite my friends and the public to help build out the maps. Although some of these data is captured by vertical players such as JiWire and Skyhook, the integration with Google’s Local Search brings it to a much wider audience.
Google could use the same platform to have users build out vertical directories to augment data from providers like InfoUSA by actively soliciting users to contribute places on specific topics. This is already happening on an ad hoc basis as users follow their passions and create maps.
We’ve seen news organizations use My Maps to cover stories such as the California wildfires. They could open that up to a collaborative process with their readers.
Yup, that’s an Ethernet jack above the urinal. I saw this at my friend Kieran’s pub, The Local in Minneapolis.
No, I didn’t try plugging in.
Here’s what the jack is really used for.
After more than 12 years of heavy business travel, I thought I’d seen it all.
As I was waiting at the security checkpoint at Dulles yesterday, I saw a woman almost put a carrier with three puppies through the X-ray. Fortunately, a TSA agent saw it and had her take them out.