Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Poker / Googlewhacking

:-) Men Playing Poker
Spent a very enjoyable evening on Monday playing Poker with three buddies. I brought my own Poker parephenalia with me when we came out to Riyadh but have only recently blown the dust off to provide the menfolk with a refuge during the monthly Book Club meeting where our wives drink books and talk about wine.
My "kit" consists of a fold-out poker table complete with chip racks and drinks holders that I bought from Firebox, and an aluminium case of 500 casino-grade chips that I bought in the Walmart in Orem, Utah last year for $30.
Playing poker with other blokes is a fascinating, absorbing and - dare I say it - intimate experience that can teach you a lot about your friends and yourself. The poker face, bluff and double-bluff, randomly altering your bluffing behaviour or level of betting to prevent other players from "sussing you out" (a bit like running away in an erratic zigzag pattern to avoid being shot). All of this evasive action being done at the same time as trying to suss out the others around the table: "Is that guy really a conservative player who folds unless he's got a high pair, or is he just fattening me up for the kill?" It's a great way to get to know people, and even better if you have a regular ebb and flow of well-known and less well-known players.
...and we don't even play for money! (yet)

:-( Googlewhacked Out
To paraphrase Douglas Adams, The internet is big. Very big. I mean, you might think it's a long way to the end of this blog entry (and it is), but that's just peanuts to the internet"
There are a lot of web pages out there. I just went to Google and typed, "How many web pages are there?" into the search box, and got 231,000,000 hits. So that means there are over 200 million web pages just about how many web pages there are (I wonder if they counted themselves?). Anyway the point is that there are a lot, about 11.5 billion in total (I haven't counted them personally but I know a couple of people who might have tried). In all that massive amout of text, what are the chances that any combination of two words exists on only one page in the whole internet?
This is the anatomy of a Googlewhack - a combination of just two words (without quotation marks) that, when typed into Google, returns one - and only one - hit.

The phenomenon isn't new. In fact people have been finding Googlewhacks for years. Dave Gorman even wrote a book about his Googlewhack adventures.

The thing is, as time passes and the internet continues to grow, Googlewhacks are becoming more and more scarce. I don't know what brought this to mind this morning (that's how my mind works - things pop in and out uninvited), but I decided that, since I have a kind of netherworld period between 8am and 10am during the week when I'm the only Novell person awake, I should invest an hour or so in trying to find my very own Googlewhack.

What a complete waste of time!

The trick is to think of two unusual or archaic words that probably don't appear that much on the internet at all, then combine them in unlikely ways to further extend the odds of both appearing on the same page. For example, supernova splashdown is a bad combination choice because both words have space exploration connotations and are therefore more likely to appear on the same page. Faeces splashdown is similarly not to be recommended. Better by far are combos like candelabra motherboard: two completely unrelated words on the face of it but I found 16,800 webmasters who would disagree.

If you actually find a Googlewhack you can register it in the whack shack at 15 minutes of fame indeed!

So, here are the edited highlights (and I do mean edited: the full list is very long) of my fruitless hunt for a Googlewhack this morning:-

1. fairy microphone - 423,000
what a pathetic first attempt. Neither word is very unusual and I can think of, ooh around 400,000 examples of why fairies would use microphones. Must try harder.

2. candelabra transmission - 45,700
Better, I'm now down to sub 100,000 hits which in internet numbers is pretty darn small. Disappointed with choice of "transmission" but like "candelabra" Who says candelabra these days? let's press Hold on candelabra and mix up the second word.

3. candelabra virus - 47,300
Idiot. Virus, Internet, HELLOOOO!

4. candelabra geyser - 815
NOW we're cooking with gas! Under a thousand hits! This is going to be easier than I thought.

5. candelabra splashdown - 414
Almost there...

6. candelabra flange - 21,600

7. candelabra eruption - 14,600
coming back down

8. candelabra checkpoint - 941
that's more like it, back under the 1,000 mark

9. candelabra biometric - 1,490
believe it or not there are lots of sites that talk about the light from candelabras messing up light sensors on biometric security devices. Learn something new every day.

10. candelabra subroutine - 292
New Record! that's the ticket - combine something beautiful and ornate with a computer term. Let's try another one...

11. candelabra motherboard - 16,800
WHAT?? Bang goes that theory!

12. candelabra pothole - 709
13. candelabra orbit - 20,700
there I go again, choosing unwisely. Maybe having candelabra at the front is jinxing me. Let's make that the second word...

14. robust candelabra - 30,300

15. digested candelabra - 708
back on track...

16. stalwart candelabra - 13,200
getting a bit fed up with candelabras

17. faeces candelabra - 379
better but still not good enough. I'm finding the word faeces strangely attractive

18. balletic faeces - 179
faeces is the new candelabra! I'm onto a winner

19. domineering faeces - 503
20. overcast faeces - 905
21. interstellar faeces - 1,330
22. regalia faeces - 810
the top hit reads, "Carol Vorderman to eat own faeces for Oxfam." The page doesn't load. I know, let's give my computer terminology a try

23. faeces subroutine - 339
damn. Going to drop faeces - back in ten minutes

24. bilious subroutine - 275
25. dispepsia subroutine - 11
!!! Only 11 hits! I can almost taste the Googlewhack!

26. conjoined subroutine - 761
27. tricycle subroutine - 612
Hmm, unicycle must be rarer than tricycle.

28. unicycle subroutine - 1,500
didn't expect that. First hit is Nat Friedman's blog. Nat works for Novell and is a luminary in the Linux/Open Source world. I'm not at all surprised that he talks about unicycle subroutines.

29. foxglove subroutine - 397
liking foxglove. It takes over

30. foxglove vagrant - 733
31. foxblove rudimentary - 700
32. foxglove dementia - 166
33. foxglove dispepsia - 34
There's dispepsia giving me a good score again! It takes over

34. railing dispepsia - 16
good old dispepsia!

35. awning dispepsia - 16
I notice the first line of the results page, "Did you mean awning dyspepsia?" Gaahhh! I've been mis-spelling it! couldn't live with myself if I got a bogus mis-spelled Googlewhack. I'm too much of a perfectionist. Better retry all my dispepsia combos with the correct spelling.

36. awning dyspepsia - 807

37. railing dyspepsia - 10,600

38. dyspepsia subroutine - 247 (up from 11 first time)
Bloody Marvellous!

Time to start work. If you manage to find a Googlewhack I won't give you anything. I'll just hate you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Go back to work!!!!