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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Zerg Rush Easter egg and other great time wasters from Google

Zerg Rush

Some “n00b” got “pwned” by Zergs in this screen grab from Google’s newest Easter egg, Zerg Rush. (Google / April 27, 2012)

Google’s Zerg Rush is a gift to all of us who believe that not every minute spent at work should be used in productive pursuits.

If you have a few minutes to spare, try typing the words “zerg rush” into Google from the search engine’s homepage.

Then wait and watch as a hungry pack of Os start to devour all the words on the search result page.

But this isn’t just a sit back and watch Google treat — this is an interactive game. Google has given you the power to  destroy the Os by clicking furiously on them with your mouse.

Your efforts will eventually prove futile, however. There are infinite numbers of Os and you can only click so fast.

The game is over when the Os destroy the words in the left-hand rail of the Google search results page. When you lose, all the Os will gather together to create two Gs — Good Game.

Google is nothing if not a good sport.

So what’s the story behind the game? A Google spokesperson emailed us the following statement:

“For n00bs who aren’t as familiar with real-time strategy games, there’s been a zerg rush on your search results page. Because there should always be time to practice your gaming skills, click on the zerg units to defend the results page and try not to get pwned. Then you can share you APM score onGoogle+. GLHF!”  Read More

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‘Zerg rush’ chews up Google search results

Feeling besieged by pesky little problems today? You might want to be careful with your Google searches.

Users who look up the term “Zerg rush” Friday are finding the latest in a series of geeky Easter eggs planted by the search giant’s engineers. The search produces a swarm of marauding “O’s” which inevitably destroy virtually everything on the search-results page.

The term quickly became a top search topic for Google Friday morning, as gamers and the merely curious flocked to the feature.

In gaming terms, a “Zerg rush” is when a player is swarmed by a huge number of weak opponents. Any one of the bad guys is easy to take out, but the threat is that they’ll overwhelm you with sheer numbers.

It came from “Starcraft,” a 1998 real-time strategy game in which a player could choose to play as “Zergs,” an alien race. Skilled players soon learned that they could quickly spawn a massive number of low-level units (“zerglings”) and overwhelm their opponents.

According to Know Your Meme, the first instance of the term came during a game among some Korean players (a significant portion of the early “Starcraft” player base). The first Urban Dictionary definition of the term appeared in 2004.  Read More

The Week Ahead: Will Europe Spoil Apple’s Party?

If this surprisingly good week makes you want to jump back into stocks with both feet, be patient, writes MoneyShow’s Tom Aspray. A cautious approach will pay off in the leading sectors and plays he has uncovered.

The strong earnings last week were indeed enough to push the stock market higher, with the Spyder Trust (SPY) showing a nice gain of 2.6%, while the PowerShares QQQ Trust (QQQ) was up 3.2%.

Of course, it was earnings from Apple (AAPL) that saved the day. After trading as low as $555 on Tuesday afternoon, it surged as high as $618 early Wednesday in response to the reported 35 million iPhones sold.

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Apple (AAPL) looks ready to close April above its monthly Starc+ band for the third month in a row. For those who are not familiar with Starc band analysis, these bands identify extreme price levels in any market. When prices are at or above the Starc+ bands, it is a high-risk time to buy.  Read More

How the Government is Threatening Your Business – and What To Do About It

A Pakistani money dealer counts US dollar note...Government financial policies – and a lingering aversion to addressing the national debt – could spell trouble for your business. (Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

Think the national debt won’t impact your business? Think again. As James Kwak, co-author (with Simon Johnson) of White House Burning: The Founding Fathers, Our National Debt, and Why It Matters to You, revealed to me in a recent interview, “It’s quite plausible [the national debt] will start having serious economic effects within the next 5-10 years.” The government’s mix of high spending and deep tax cuts risks one of two negative consequences. The first, says Kwak, is that “over time, if the national debt stays high, investors will lose confidence in the federal government and interest rates will go up, which affects everybody because it makes it harder to do things like borrow money to build factories. Or the other possibility is the Federal Reserve might start creating a lot of money in order to fund the national debt and that could cause inflation.” Either outcome is bad for the economy – and your business.  Read More

Facebook’s Profit Falls 12% Ahead of Expected Offering

Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Facebook, which had revenue exceeding $1 billion.
Brian Snyder/ReutersMark Zuckerberg, the chief of Facebook, which had revenue exceeding $1 billion.

With its initial public offering drawing closer, Facebook disclosed on Monday that its profit in the first quarter fell 12 percent, to $205 million, as its expenses continued to climb.

Still, its revenue exceeded $1 billion for the second consecutive quarter, something the company is likely to emphasize when it begins its presentations to potential investors in the coming weeks.

The latest financial figures, disclosed in an amended prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, may raise questions about whether Facebook will be able to command a high stock value when it goes public, a number built largely on the promise of continued growth. Analysts and company executives have estimated its potential value at more than $100 billion. Facebook has not disclosed the date of its public offering, but it is widely expected to become publicly traded in mid-May.  Read More

Google: Here’s What Our Sci-Fi Glasses Look Like

We’re more than a quarter of the way through 2012, and as you may have noticed, we have failed to acquire silver jumpsuits or jetpacks. In fact, aside from that headset in your ear, smartphone in your pocket and tablet in your purse, everything is looking quite boringly un-futuristic.

But if Google has its way, we will start wearing some very science fiction-like glasses by year’s end.

The search giant’s research arm launched a Google+ page Wednesday for Project Glass, its augmented reality glasses project. The page revealed that Google researchers have started testing the glasses, with an Android-run heads-up display, that the New York Times suggested Google will start to sell this year for roughly the cost of a regular smartphone.

[Update: a Google spokesperson has indicated to Mashable that the company selling the glasses this year would be “extremely unlikely.”]  Read More

Debunking the Big Gang Theory: Why Facebook and Others Suffer From Being Big

Of the top 39 stories that appeared in my Facebook feed on a recent afternoon, 11 were from brands, nine were from people I wasn’t interested in hearing from, and 13 from people I couldn’t for the life of me remember.

In short, it was a mess — a cacophony of noise from people whom I barely know, whose actions and opinions have little bearing on my life, and whom I have a minor interest in keeping up with. I don’t much care for their music recommendations and I’m not dying for their restaurant tips.

It wasn’t always this way. When it first launched, a then much smaller Facebook provided an online extension for offline relationships. The social network offered a way of keeping tabs on the classmate down the hall and the neighbor next door, people whom we cared about and whose activities online would influence our behavior offline. Then I became friends with teammates’ siblings and friends of friends I hadn’t met, but felt obliged to follow. I fell back out of touch with all the people I’d lost touch with before Facebook. I followed a few celebrities, and gradually brands, companies, and other organizations weaseled their way into my feed. As a result, the few dozen people I care to keep tabs on have gotten lost in the hundreds I now follow online.  Read More

Northern Ireland police find huge unexploded bomb

An abandoned van containing a device with 600 pounds of explosives was found in Newry, Northern Ireland, near the border with the Republic of Ireland, police said Saturday.

The device, believed to be linked to dissident IRA groups opposed to the peace process, was “fully primed and ready for use,” police said.

The bomb, found late Thursday, was one of the biggest found in Northern Ireland, police said.

It could have caused “death and massive destruction” had it gone off, Chief Superintendent Alasdair Robinson told reporters in Ardmore.

“The device contained two blue barrels with 125kg of homemade explosives in each one, and a detonator — all the equipment which meant this device was ready to go,” he said.

“This was a very significant device — twice the size of the bomb which was left at Newry Courthouse two years ago. If this had exploded it would have caused devastation.

“To put it in perspective, anyone within 50 meters of this device would have been killed and anyone within 100 meters, seriously injured.”

The road leading to the border was closed within minutes after officers became aware of the suspicious vehicle, he said. A member of public raised the alert after driving past the abandoned van, he said.  Read More

President Obama Threatens to Veto CISPA Cybersecurity Bill

If the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, better known as CISPA, reached President Obama’s desk in its current form, he would veto the bill, according to a statement from the White House.

CISPA, says the White House, would allow the government and the intelligence community unfettered access to Americans’ personal information and data, sacrificing individuals’ personal privacy and civil liberties.

CISPA is designed to allow private firms to share information about cybersecurity threats with one another and with the federal government. The bill’s advocates call such information sharing a necessary step in defending the U.S.’s networks from a “digital Pearl Harbor,” while opponents argue that sharing puts the civil liberties and personal privacy of Internet users in jeopardy.

“[CISPA] would allow broad sharing of information with governmental entities without establishing requirements for both industry and the government to minimize and protect personally identifiable information,” reads the statement.

The White House also believes that CISPA would allow private companies to share users’ information with one another — unhindered by adequate supervision or transparency — while simultaneously shielding them from lawsuits that spring up as a result of that information sharing.

“Citizens have a right to know that corporations will be held legally accountable for failing to safeguard personal information adequately,” reads the statement. “The broad liability protection not only removes a strong incentive to improving cybersecurity, it also potentially undermines our Nation’s economic, national security, and public safety interests.”  Read More

Marine Corps discharges sergeant for Facebook posts critical of Obama

A sergeant will be discharged for criticizing President Obama on Facebook in a case that called into question the Pentagon’s policies about social media and its limits on the speech of active duty military personnel, the Marine Corps said Wednesday.

Sgt. Gary Stein will get an other-than-honorable discharge and lose most of his benefits for violating the policies, the Corps said.

The San Diego-area Marine who has served nine years in the Corps said he was disappointed by the decision. He argued that he was exercising his constitutional rights to free speech.

“I love the Marine Corps, I love my job. I wish it wouldn’t have gone this way. I’m having a hard time seeing how 15 words on Facebook could have ruined my nine-year career,” he told The Associated Press.

Gary Kreep, an attorney for Stein, said he would pursue administrative appeals within the Marine Corps but anticipates the effort will fail. He said he planned to file an amended complaint in federal court.

“As long as he wants to pursue this, we will be supporting him,” said Kreep, who is executive director of the United States Justice Foundation, an advocacy group.

The Marines acted after saying Stein stated March 1 on a Facebook page used by Marine meteorologists, “Screw Obama and I will not follow all orders from him.” Stein later clarified that statement, saying he would not follow unlawful orders.

Brig. Gen. Daniel Yoo, the commanding general of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, said in a brief statement Wednesday that evidence supported an administrative board’s recommendation to discharge Stein.  Read More

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