Posted on January 26, 2012 at 11:54 am by Andrew Arnott

A few random things you may not know about the internet


Google was originally called BackRub

But fortunately they changed the name before they were incorporated. Probably wouldn’t have been quite the success it is today!

Want to see how their logo evolved? Read this article on Wired to find out >

Meta Keywords are worthless!

When people talk about SEO (search engine optimisation), you will often hear them advise you to carefully choose keywords that are representative of the page and to put these in the header section under the title ‘meta keywords’. Well, guess what? No major search engine pays a blind bit of notice to them. They are quite simply irrelevant. Likewise the meta description is also irrelevant in terms of ranking, BUT it does have its use, as it will be used in the presentation of results, so can be critical in getting someone to click that link after you’ve achieved that highly prized place in the rankings. But, if you don’t provide a description, search engines will provide their own from your own content (usually the first 250 characters, so make them count!!).

Apple site in 1997

You can see what a webpage looked like years ago

Ever wondered what Nike’s funky website looked like 10 years ago? Or what about Apple?

Well, you can find out by visiting the Wayback Machine, which has archived virtually every website there ever was. There’s the Apple one in 1997, pictured above. We’ve come a long way in a short space of time!


You can see where the next bus is on google maps

Unfortunately, this one hasn’t quite made it to the UK yet, but for a few cities, you can click on a bus stop and view how long it is until the next bus arrives. Better still, for Vancouver’s bus system, you can see in real time where that next bus actually is on the map. So, no more waiting around for ages for 3 buses to come along at once (you’ll know in advance where they are, so you can run for your life if one is coming and there isn’t another one for 20 minutes)!

And the technology for this has been around for a while. I remember being very impressed by google maps a couple of years ago when I discovered that you could see where all of a taxi company’s cabs were in real-time for a couple of US cities. Although this was an experiment, I’m surprised it didn’t catch on – the idea of seeing where cabs for hire are, live on a map, is brilliant. No more waiting for ages on one street while unbeknown to you, the next street down is jam-packed with them! However, this disappeared off google maps a while ago, but will no doubt make a re-appearance in some form in the future.

Although there’s often a big fan-fare about technology that is little more than a gimmick, quiet advances like live transport tracking will become an intrinsic part of our lives. You can imagine how, when this is widespread and seamless, you’ll look back and wonder how you got around on public transport without it.

Until then, London will have to content itself with this bizarre little google map site where the Mayor of London – Boris Johnson – posing as a taxi driver, takes you to the London Excel Centre from various landmarks. TAKE ME THERE, BORIS!

Amazon Logo

The meaning of the Amazon logo

I guarantee you’ve seen the Amazon logo. But have you ever thought what it actually means? Well, the little yellow arrow links the A and the Z, illustrating that they sell everything from A to Z. So there you go. Oh, and it looks like a smile too!


The Minority Report interface isn’t a million miles away

Rob Booth, Head of Internet Media Planning at Bos, did this great little post about some of the crazy technology that’s emerging at the moment. But, it may be closer than you think. Texas Instruments has developed a platform designed for mobile devices called OMAP 5. The video above was released by Texas Instruments to demonstrate the possibilities of their platform. If smartphone manufacturers go down this route, it’ll be very interesting to see the results. Minority Report (or Terminator), here we come!

You can make google do a barrel roll

And something very random to finish… If you’re on twitter, you probably know about this already: type ‘do a barrel roll’ into google or ‘Z or R twice’ and the screen will, well, do a barrel roll. It’s a CSS3/HTML5 trick, so you need to be using a decent browser to see the effect (therefore NOT Internet Explorer). Basically it’s a reference to an old Nintendo game called Star Fox 64, which tells you to do a barrel roll by pushing those keys. It’s not the only little in-joke that google has done though. If you’ve got nothing better to do, try searching for ‘askew’ and ‘recursion’ too.

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