“Top City” is Tops Today

Loved Google’s name change to “Topeka” on April Fool’s Day yesterday. What a great day to be in Topeka, Kansas!

Ed Adler’s piece in the The Kansas City Star is terrific…

When you live in the state known for Toto, tornadoes and Obama’s mama, it pays to have a sense of humor.

But Thursday, April Fools’ Day, the folks at Google weren’t kidding when, to honor the Kansas capital, the company changed its online logo, just for one day, to read … “Topeka.”

Yes, worldwide — from Bangor, Maine, to Bangladesh, from Kansas to Kuala Lumpur — anyone who logged on to Google.com saw the name “Topeka” pop up in Google’s characteristic blue, red, yellow and green.

Talk about going global.

Of course, turnaround is fair play. Google was just being neighborly in a Midwestern way, like returning a casserole dish with a casserole in it.

Early last month, Mayor Bill Bunten of Topeka, hoping to lure Google’s “Fiber for Communities” project — a technology initiative that, for free, aims to wire several chosen communities with ultra-high-speed broadband Internet some 100 times faster than what is now available — signed a proclamation changing Topeka’s name for the month of March to Google.

All month, if you called up www.topeka.org, the page read “Google” in the upper-left-hand corner. The logo was still there on April 1.

“Someone called it a monumental suck-up. Sure! We’re not proud,” Bunten said.

From Google’s official Web site Thursday:

“We’ve been wondering ever since how best to honor that moving gesture. Today, we are pleased to announce that as of 1 AM (Central Daylight Time) April 1st, Google has officially changed our name to Topeka.”

The Web site went on to talk about Topeka, Kansas’ (sorry — Google, Kansas’) august history “gracing the nation with Margaret Hill McCarter, the first woman to address a national political convention (1920, Republican); Charles Curtis, the only Native American to ever serve as vice president (’29 to ’33, under Herbert Hoover); Carrie Nation, leader of the old temperance movement (and wielder of American history’s most famous hatchet); and most important, Alfred E. Neuman, arguably the most influential figure to an entire generation of Americans.”

Neuman, is the goofy face of Mad magazine.

The Google Web site also showed the sign outside the company’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters declaring “Topeka.”

Bunten said Topekans recently did more to attract Google’s notice. At a hockey game, 500 fans lined up on the ice and spelled “Google” with their bodies.

Google has a tradition of pulling April Fools’ Day pranks, once telling users that high-speed Internet could be obtained through their plumbing.

Bunten has no idea whether all the horseplay actually has increased Topeka’s chances of becoming one of several chosen communities. Google plans to announce its decision by the end of the year.

“But we have brought our city a lot of attention,” Bunten said. “I think it’s just an extension of a good sense of humor that we have and that they have.”

Curiously, as of about noon Thursday, Bunten still hadn’t logged on to Google.com to see “Topeka” pop up.

“I had an 8 o’clock meeting,” he said. After that he was deluged with media calls from around the country.

He also said that it was probably time to take the Google name off the official Topeka Web site. It was only supposed to be up there for March.

“We’ll probably take it down,” he said. “We don’t want to try their patience.”


April Fool’s Day Pranks

Wednesday should be a fun: it’s April Fool’s Day.  Google’s pranks are always elaborate and entertaining. Lifehacker did a “Top 10 Harmless Geek Pranks” the other day…

Install the Blue Screen of Death Screensaver

Make your co-worker think their PC crashed when they get back from lunch. The BSOD (“Blue Screen of Death”) screensaver is a free download from Microsoft (ironically.) For other operating system “support,” check out the Linux BSOD ‘saver with support for Apple, Windows, and Linux crash screens.

Huffington Post did a piece on the History of April Fool’s Day (and a top five list), and the Museum of Hoaxes list top 100 of all time.

Wikipedia has a collection of Google pranks. My favorite is from 2007: the Google TiSP (Toilet Internet Service Provider):

For years, data carriers have confronted the “last hundred yards” problem for delivering data from local networks into individual homes. Now Google has successfully devised a “last hundred smelly yards” solution that takes advantage of preexisting plumbing and sewage systems and their related hydraulic data-transmission capabilities. “There’s actually a thriving little underground community that’s been studying this exact solution for a long time,” says Page. “And today our Toilet ISP team is pleased to be leading the way through the sewers, up out of your toilet and – splat – right onto your PC.”

Users who sign up online for the TiSP system will receive a full home self-installation kit, which includes a spindle of fiber-optic cable, a TiSP wireless router, installation CD and setup guide. Home installation is a simple matter of GFlushing™ the fiber-optic cable down to the nearest TiSP Access Node, then plugging the other end into the network port of your Google-provided TiSP wireless router. Within sixty minutes, the Access Node’s crack team of Plumbing Hardware Dispatchers (PHDs) should have your internet connection up and running.

“I couldn’t be more excited about, and am only slightly grossed out by, this remarkable new product,” said Marissa Mayer, Google’s Vice President of Search Products and User Experience. “I firmly believe TiSP will be a breakthrough product, particularly for those users who, like Larry himself, do much of their best thinking in the bathroom.”