Like many of you I am surrounded by the many of the “wonders” of the new world of connected computing, such as smartphones and variety of social networking environments. While they have their place, what fascinates and absorbs me about the Web and the Internet to a degree they can never do are the places that search engines can take me.
Maybe it is the knowledge glutton in me, but when I am on good search engine – such as Advanced Google, Google Scholar and the IEEE and ACM Digital Libraries – and have a topic that compels me to learn more, I’m in heaven.
Not only does their use lead me to information and sources of technology insight I want and find useful much more quickly than on a social networking site, the unanticipated peripheral connections often lead me in directions I did not expect to go. Usually they lead to resources and contacts that are even more valuable than the ones I was looking for.
Then, if it is in connection with my work, it is usually a simple matter – if the resource is a technical paper or journal – to find an email address and even a telephone number and contact the author directly. It is the kind of direct one to one personal “social networking” I like and find more productive than the one-to-many context of most modern social networks.
But beyond the use of search engines in my work is the fun I have when I just “wing it” and use them to pursue an individual interest or find an answer to a passing question that I may have.
Most recently that occurred when I was reading Jack Ganssle’s most recent blog on “Start collecting metrics. Now.” There he made reference to the “bogosity,” of a previous statement.
Although I use that same word constantly, my curiosity led me to Google and a search for definitions, and indeed, there are many. One site defined it as a measure relating to the number of unsubstantiated or untrue assertions in a statement.
As Google searches inevitably do, my meandering through my results led me to Wikipedia’s page on a “List of humorous units of measurement.” There I learned that bogosity is also a measure used in the fictional area of study called Quantum Bogodynamics, which has nothing at all to do its useage in the “real world.” Among the other humorous definitions I found there:
Fonzie : the amount of coolness inherent in the Happy Days TV sitcom character by that name.
Warhol : derived from Andy Warhol's dictum “everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.”
Ricktus scale : peripherally related to the real Richter scale of earthquake intensity, this tongue-in-cheek metric quantifies the impact of seismic events by the amount of media coverage in newspapers, on television, on the Internet, number of reporters on the scene, and the number of TV network specials and instant books it generates.
Almost as amusing in its way is the Wikipedia page on “Unusual units of measurements ” where I learned about these gems:
Nanoacre , which is a unit of real estate on a VLSI circuit. It came into being in a reference to the cost of property in Silicon Valley because VLSI nanoacres cost about the same as real acres in Silicon Valley once one figures in design and fabrication-setup costs.
Jupiter . As massive as it is in relation to the other planets in the solar system, it is a midget compared to the size and mass of some of the planets found recently in other star systems. So, it made sense to astronomers to use it as their base unit of measurement of these planetary bodies.
Mother Cow Index , the number of pregnant cows an acre of a given plot of land can support.
All of us have come up with our own definitions and measurements. What are some of yours? Some of mine include:
Blov . From the verb, to bloviate, which I thought I invented. But it is from the late nineteenth, early Twentieth century to describe what blowhards and politicians do: huff and puff and talk a lot about nothing. While I have not worked out the measurement scale, it is much needed to quantify the amount of hyper-ventilated false excitement and over-abundance of words signifying nothing on many blogs.
Noycebox and Cerfboard . These are names I invented in a blog on Embedded.com early in the last decade. I was trying to come up with something that would encompass the broad category of connected devices that now includes iPods, MP3 players, iPhones, and Android smartphones. Then the computer industry was calling them Tier 0 devices, to make them fit into the then existing nomenclature.
(Why not? Robert Noyce was a co-inventor the first IC and his company, Intel, built the first microprocessors. And Vinton Cerf, with Bob Kahn, was the architect of the ubiquitous TCP/IP protocol stack upon which all of this is based. We do “Cerf” the Web don't we? )
Finally, back to the topic with which I started this riff: unpredictable places search engines take you. The Google search that triggered these thoughts also took me to a Wikipedia page I will treasure and go back to often, the April Fool’s Day IETF Requests for Comments. Among my favorite faux RFCs are:
Increasing Throughput in IP Networks with ESP-Based Forwarding. RFC 5984,
Standard for the transmission of IP datagrams on Avian Carriers. RFC 1149.
IP Datagrams over the Semaphore Flag Signal RFC 4824, and, finally,
Design Considerations for Faster-Than-Light (FTL) Communication. RFC 6921. (I am a sucker for anything FTL related. Just the StarTrek in me I guess )
Where have you been (on Google) lately?. And what new goofy and unusual terms and measurement units have you come across, or invented?
Embedded.com Site Editor Bernard Cole is also editor of the twice-a-week Embedded.com newsletters as well as a partner in the TechRite Associates editorial services consultancy. He welcomes your feedback. Send an email to , or call 928-525-9087.