Friday, August 29, 2008

Goog-411 and me

As I've been apartment hunting, and driving cross country, without an iPhone or any other cool gadgetry (like a GPS), I've been generally lost. I don't know where anything is, or the nature of any of these cities that I drive through.

When I see the signs for cities (Missoula 97 miles!), and I want to decide where to stop, I've found Goog-411 to be pretty helpful. Issuing queries for Starbucks in those cities tells you if the city is a member of Civilization, or if it is Not. The only problem is that sometimes, Google cannot figure out the name of a city. When I asked for "Forsyth, Montana" Google managed an incredible misparse.

Besides the occasional misparses, I have found one other tragic failure of the Goog-411 system. When I was in Seattle, looking for apartments, I needed the address of Google's Seattle office. I figured that I could just call the office, and ask for that information. But I didn't know their phone number off hand. Enter Goog-411. "Seattle, Washington" I said. "Seattle, Washington" Goog-411 said. Check. "Google." "Top Listing: Google on 6th Ave." Check. However, the entry was actually for a modem or a fax machine, and completely unhelpful for me (or anybody else calling Goog-411, I suspect). It seems that Google should better know its own phone numbers :) Apparently, part of my problem was not remembering Google Seattle was not located on 6th Ave.

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