Two From Google

1.
Big fuss yesterday as Google changed its doodle to show a flying saucer over a field of crop circles:

google_crops

Then Google Tweeted a pair of map coordinates: 51.327629, -0.5616088

Despite much speculation even in the mainstream press — see today’s Globe and Mail, for example — no one seems to have solved the mystery of exactly what Google’s up to. The map coordinates point to Woking in England, by the way. An excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Woking suggests why Google might be interested in this Surrey town:

[I]t is the town in which the Martians first land in H. G. Wells’ science fiction novel The War of the Worlds. It also features in Douglas Adams’s The Meaning of Liff, as the word for when you go to the kitchen but forget why.

Stay tuned, presumably.

2.
google_recaptcha

Google has purchased reCaptcha, the company that provides the bit of code that we and thousands of others use to separate human blog commenters from spambots — and that helps perfect the OCR scanning of books, by the way.

And, it would seem from Google’s announcement, this boost to OCR is helping “teach computers to read,” which, I should have thought, was exactly what you don’t want to do if you’re trying to shut out spammers. Sigh. I suppose that when Google is ultimately successful in this, we’ll have to come up with a yet more difficult test to filter out spambots.

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