Google PageRank explained

From Danny Sullivan’s “What Is Google PageRank? A Guide For Searchers & Webmasters” (Search Engine Land: 26 April 2007):

Let’s start with what Google says. In a nutshell, it considers links to be like votes. In addition, it considers that some votes are more important than others. PageRank is Google’s system of counting link votes and determining which pages are most important based on them. These scores are then used along with many other things to determine if a page will rank well in a search.

PageRank is only a score that represents the importance of a page, as Google estimates it (By the way, that estimate of importance is considered to be Google’s opinion and protected in the US by the First Amendment. When Google was once sued over altering PageRank scores for some sites, a US court ruled: “PageRanks are opinions–opinions of the significance of particular Web sites as they correspond to a search query….the court concludes Google’s PageRanks are entitled to full constitutional protection.)

How to grade or judge water

From Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s “The Water Rush” (Oxford American):

On the tables in front of us are pink “trial” judging sheets. Across the top run a series of boxes for water numbers, and down the side is the set of criteria we’ll be using. Arthur goes through the criteria one by one, and explains what to look for.

The first criterion is Appearance, which is rated on a scale from zero to five. Good is colorless; bad is cloudy. Self-explanatory, so Arthur moves along quickly to Odor, which is also based on five possible points. The box on the sheet has one example of a positive descriptor on the left side—in this case, “none”—and a row of possible characterizations of water odor on the right side: chlorine, plastic, sulfur, chemical, musty. Next on the list is Flavor, rated out of ten points; the left side of the box reads “clean” and the right side has the identical list of identifiers provided for Odor, plus “salty.” Mouthfeel is back down to a five-point criterion, and the relevant distinction is “refreshing/stale.” There’s a five-point box for Aftertaste (this one on a spectrum from “thirst-quenching” to “residue”), and finally we come to Overall Impressions.

Overall Impressions is scored out of fourteen points, which makes the total available points for each entrant an eyebrow-raising forty-nine. The fourteen-point scale is provided to us on an attached sheet. It was developed by a food scientist at UC Berkeley named William Bruvold. In the ’60s, he pioneered experiments in the acceptability levels of total dissolved solids in water, and he used his students as subjects; he incrementally increased the turbidity of the sample until the water came to resemble Turkish coffee and his students refused to drink it. Out of these experiments came this scale, which Arthur tantalizingly referred to the day I met him in Santa Barbara. Arthur seems a bit sheepish about the language of the document.

The fourteen-point scale, in its entirety, reads exactly as follows (all formatting original):

1. This water has a TERRIBLE, STRONG TASTE. I can’t stand it in my mouth.

2. This water has a TERRIBLE TASTE. I would never drink it.

3. This water has a REAL BAD TASTE. I don’t think I would ever drink it.

4. This water has a REAL BAD TASTE. I would drink it only in a serious emergency.

5. This water has a BAD TASTE. I could not accept it as my everyday drinking water, but I could drink it in an emergency.

6. This water has a BAD TASTE. I don’t think I could accept it as my everyday drinking water.

7. This water has a FAIRLY BAD TASTE. I think I could accept it as my everyday drinking water.

8. This water has a MILD BAD TASTE. I could accept it as my everyday drinking water.

9. This water has an OFF TASTE. I could accept it as my everyday drinking water.

10. This water seems to have a MILD OFF TASTE. I would be satisfied to have it as my everyday drinking water.

11. This water seems to have a LITTLE TASTE. I would be satisfied to have it as my everyday drinking water.

12. This water has NO SPECIAL TASTE at all. I would be happy to have it for my everyday drinking water.

13. This water TASTES GOOD. I would be happy to have it for my everyday drinking water.

14. This water tastes REAL GOOD. I would be very happy to have it for my everyday drinking water.

Perfect Score Achieved on Pac-Man

From Twin Galaxies

For the first time in video game playing history, a perfect score was achieved on the legendary arcade game, Pac-Man.

On July 3, 1999 at 4:45 P.M., taking nearly six hours to accomplish the feat — on one quarter — Billy Mitchell, 33, a Fort Lauderdale hot sauce manufacturer visiting the famous Funspot Family Fun Center in Weirs Beach, NH, scored 3,333,360 points — the maximum possible points allowed by the game. The results will go into next year’s edition of the Twin Galaxies’ Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records — which is the official record book for the world of video game and pinball playing. …

To get a perfect game on Pac-Man, the player has to eat every dot, every energizer, every blue man and every fruit up to and including board 256 — where the game ends with a split screen. This must be accomplished on the first man, too.

When I was a freshman in high school in Marshall, I played Pac-Man constantly. I actually won a contest for Saline County Pac-Man champ, and my prize was an Atari 2600. My all-time high score was 1,187,000, played in the Wal-Mart lobby over the course of two hours.