If you need a break


and who doesn’t these days? Sometimes, it’s just nice to fire up a game on the computer. The programmers at Google have been great providers of distractions for a long time.

When I find them, I’ll often give them a play. At times, perhaps maybe too much. It can be an obsession and at other times, it can be a quick diversion.

For today, I thought that I’d share a few of my favourites.

Rubik’s Cube

For the longest time, you couldn’t just go into a department store and get one. They were always sold out. I finally got one as a gift from my aunt. After an infuriating start, I learned that the stickers were well glued on! It became the toy that you’d pick up when bored and it passed the time on long rides in the car. I did solve it at one time and resolved that I would never play again – until Google put it on its landing page.

Use the Front, Left, Right, Back, Up, Down, X, Y, Z keys for movement and the SHIFT key for the direction.


Crossword Puzzle

Who doesn’t like a good Crossword Puzzle?

Try to solve this one – Google style. This Doodle was created to celebrate 100 Years of Crossword Puzzles.


Pac-Man

This game was big. It seemed like it was everywhere – pool hall, arena, drug store, almost anywhere with an electrical outlet.

It was also available for sale as a very popular game going way back. It was also the inspiration for game writing in computer science class. As long as you could peek into a memory location, see what was there, and then make a move depending on that, you were good to go.

So, if you’re looking for a bit of digital recreation, give these a try. Not for too long though, you’ve got other things to do.

Another A-Z


I’ve been a long time fan of the work that Peter Beens (@pbeens on Twitter) has done in keeping tabs of everything Google. It goes way back to a post from 2012.

Google A-Z

Sadly, Peter has had a bit of a challenge from Google itself keeping the document online. But he describes it as a labour of love and, as of the writing of this post, it’s online for all to use here.

I had to smile on behalf of Peter when I read that Google has created its own A-Z list! This list is devoted to Artificial Intelligence.

Like Peter’s list, it’s a great reference to bookmark and stay on top of.

Maybe Peter will even add it to his list of Google resources!

You can check it out at this link.

OK, Google


OK, Google…

  • what’s the temperature outside?
  • what’s next in my calendar?
  • tell me a joke
  • good morning
  • convert $100 Canadian to US dollars?
  • set a timer for 45 minutes?
  • what’s the difference between a Home Mini and a Next Mini?
  • how old is Justin Bieber?

Such are the conversations between my Google assistant and me. To be honest, it’s not a very exciting back and forth. At this point in time, it’s more of an amusement than a real change in the way I do things. It’s fun but I haven’t reached that sense of revolution yet.

There’s always this nagging feeling that I could and should be doing more with it. It’s a lot like me with a television remote control – I don’t just want to know what’s on but what else is on.

Fortunately, rather than trial and error, there’s a wonderful resource site at:

https://assistant.google.com/explore/?hl=en-CA

So, as an example, I could be asking better questions like…

Anyone who has used the Assistant know that it be helpful and can comes up with surprises.

My logic is that, as long as I have it, I might as well get the most from it. So, I’m indeed going to be doing some serious exploring.

What’s the most off the wall thing your assistant has done for you?

A safety checkup


Sometimes, things just go along swimmingly and it’s possible to let your guard down. We all do it.

Here’s a quick check to see if your protection detector is in gear. Or, you might wish to use this in the classroom to raise the awareness of students.

The resource is call Safe Page from Google.

While this doesn’t cover every trick the bad guys use to try and hijack you into bad places, it does a pretty good job reviewing some of the things that you should be aware of.

The tutorial and facts page are interesting and, yes, there will be a test!

I challenge you! Of course, the tech savvy reader who visits this blog will ace the quiz.

Them’s fighting words


Warning – time sinkhole ahead.  A really fun and challenging one though.

From Google Research comes Semantris.

It’s a pair of word games driven by machine learning.

You have a choice of playing for speed or for accuracy.

I prefer to play for accuracy so head to the Blocks option.

screen

This is where the machine learning kicks in.

The concept here is to stop the bricks from reaching the top of the screen by trying to describe one of the words in a box.

It’s easy to play and describing how to play is actually pretty easy.  But, it’s not easy to beat and eventually, I lose.  But, in a good way.  Trying to figure out what’s going on is fascinating to me.

The other game is the Arcade and you’re playing for speed there.  It’s fun but I’m drawn back to the Blocks just because I like to feel like I’m watching my computer think.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!