Four cents that made my night

Two heartwarming stories:

Earlier tonight, I went to Wendy’s because I was so hungry that I couldn’t wait to make my own meal, or even wait for In-N-Out. My total was $6.04. I handed the cashier $7. He looked at it, said, “It’s cool, bro,” and handed back one dollar. I was pretty exhausted and hungry at the time so those four cents made me feel good.

And just a few minutes ago, I checked out the latest XKCD:

Top Hat: Hey, I sold your Roomba on Craigslist so I could buy myself Left 4 Dead. Girl: But I eBayed your xBox so I could get this dueling harness for my Roomba! Both: Aww.

Aww. I was even more excited at first, because I believed it to be a parody of Christmas Eve on Sesame Street, which I still have on VHS somewhere at home, taped off of TV at some point in the ’80s. It’s fun to watch stuff taped off of TV, because the first part of the special is always commercial-free, as my parents were savvy enough to pause the tape during the breaks, but then at some point they fall asleep or get distracted, and you get to see old commercials for OshKosh B’Gosh and old promos for that night’s upcoming edition of Action News.

After taking note of the title, however, a quick Google search let me know that it was the title of a short story. I assumed that the story had the basic plot I was familiar with from the Sesame Street special, but I wanted to be sure, as I fact-check all of my blog entries. But the short story is about a page and a half long, and what am I, a grad student? So I went to the Wikipedia article instead. Boom— plot in six sentences. Thank you, Internet. It’s 1:11.

He’s all over the place!

900 feet up to 1300 feet…

As I mentioned on Sunday, I like to check out stats on the web. It’s really interesting to see how I fit in to the web, and to do this I check Google Analytics daily for referrals from search engines and other sites, and also take a look at link data in Webmaster Tools. But enough about the Google products… I get to talk about them at length every day. Let’s take a walk down the street to my neighbors in Sunnyvale… Flickr!

I recently enabled stats in my account, and they became available to me tonight. Since I share my photos pretty liberally with a Creative Commons license, I’ve searched for references to my photos before, using Google searches for phrases like [“Photo by Wysz”] or simply [“Michael Wyszomierski”].*

From this, I’ve found my photos in a few interesting places, which is quite fun. A few examples:

I’ve even made it into the main design of websites:
Vibrant Software
Techtel Marketing

And at least once I’ve appeared in an unfortunate news story. An unfortunate story with an unfortunate lack of a “This is not a picture of the real guy!” caption. My first thought when I found this? “This explains a lot…”

And a little off-topic, since I heard about these via email, but I’ll brag about being offline as well. This photo was reportedly printed on about five thousand fliers for some anti-ticketing service in San Francisco. And this one almost made it onto a billboard in West Virginia, until the organization decided not to go with billboard advertising.

But where were we? Oh, yeah, Flickr stats. Usually, if you don’t completely control a page, you’re left somewhat in the dark when it comes to statistics. But Flickr has opened up and given some pretty good stats for photo pages that you own, including view counts and referring pages. Let’s take a look at the referring pages and see if I can find anything new and interesting. Here we go, I found a couple of note:

  1. Denver Post
  2. This picture was linked in a deleted segment of the Wikipedia article: “List of bow tie wearers,” which is up for deletion in its entirety.

Admittedly nothing terribly exciting at the moment, but my Flickr stream has been pretty stale for about a year as I’ve been playing around with Picasa Web Albums recently. Maybe I’ll try to get the two in sync someday so you can view the photos in your preferred interface. Yeah, right after I convert all of those old home videos to DVD and scan all of our old photo albums.

*At work, we put [queries] in brackets, so everyone is clear on exactly what the search was. So, [“phrase search”] represents a user who searched for those words using quotes to specify a phrase, and didn’t simply do a [keyword search].

YouTube Live

One of my favorite parts of working at Google is volunteering to help out with cool stuff. On Saturday, I’ll be in San Francisco for the day to work on YouTube Live. YouTube Live is the first live streaming event on YouTube, and all you need is an Internet connection to join the fun at 8 PM Eastern (5 PM Pacific).

I wish I could upload video from my iPhone… if I could I’d promise to upload clips to YouTube from the event as it’s going on. I’ll see if I can at least get some pictures up with Twitter, and shoot some video with my PowerShot to upload later. It won’t be the greatest quality, but I don’t feel like carrying around my HD camera all day. Let me know if you tune in and what the streaming experience is like.

Speak now

You may have heard about it last week, and now you can try it out for yourself. The new Google Mobile App with Voice Search is now available for the iPhone. You can read about it (and watch a couple of videos) on the Google Mobile Blog and the Google Mac Blog. The big advantage of this update is that it can be faster to speak than it is to type on a mobile device, and I’ve found that to be true.

For example, let’s say you’re about to call home from a different time zone and aren’t at your computer. Just say: “Time in New Hope, PA.” Or, if you’re in the kitchen and your hands are too messy to touch that precious laptop: “12 ounces in cups.”

There are also queries where it’s nice to have Voice Search even if you don’t mind typing:
Punxsutawney, PA

And in case you didn’t know, even if you don’t have an iPhone, you can still talk to Google and call businesses for free (in the US and Canada) by dialing 800-GOOG-411 (1-800-466-4411). If you want to be a power user of the service, check out these tips.

Update: On the company-wide blog as well.


Under construction LOL

I’m kind of addicted to checking stats online, whether I’m tracking site visitors, search queries, or stocks. Today, I figured it was about time I activated the stats feature on Flickr. They told me that my stats wouldn’t be available immediately, and included a randomly selected animated GIF to entertain me while they “dig up” my stats. Flickr is not one for bad taste, so I can safely assume that these graphics were included as a joke. Here they are, from, for your viewing pleasure:

this webpage under constructionman using a jackhammerbackhoe

Golden flowery arches

When we don’t feel like taking a seven hour drive, my family will fly into Manchester to visit our New Hampshire-based relatives. The airport is over an hour away from their house, so the first order of business when getting out of the airport is to get fueled up with stuff from the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts or McDonald’s. With Thanksgiving fast approaching I’ve been in super-nostalgia mode, and was checking out the location on Google’s Street View since my relatives’ house is not on it at this time. I thought it was a nice touch that they were able to include the Golden Arches in a flower bed:

View Larger Map

Hidden talent

When I don’t have any commitments, I naturally fall into a nocturnal schedule. This happens on many weekends, including this one where I again find myself awake at 4 AM. At least this time I’m sitting on my couch and able to move, but there’s still a problem: There’s not much to do at 4 AM. So, I’ll let you know about something I brought up once when asked if I had any hidden talents.

Back at my home in Pennsylvania, we have an older CRT-based TV. I learned at an early age (probably when I was around 10-12 years old), that I could consistently get it to do the old-school shrinking circle thing when turning it off. Most of the time, turning it off will not cause it to look exciting at all. But, if I turn it on, and then turn it off right before the picture appears (about five seconds), then it does the cool circle thing.