The hunt, "Day in the Cloud Challenge," allows players to sign up and play on June 24, wherever they are on that day. "Simply sign up, arm yourself with a powerful array of Google Apps, and you can point and click your way towards glory -- and an enticing prize pack."
Become a top scorer and Google will give you a "Year in the Cloud," complete with Hewlett-Packard netbook and 1 terabyte of Google Account Storage for photos and mail. All will come in handy when you fly free for a year on Virgin America with complimentary WiFi.
Participants will need a Google Account to play. Those with a Gmail account might have a leg up because some of the questions involve knowledge of the mail app.
The game will last an hour, but Google has posted a practice game lasting about 10 minutes. Questions include "How many of these devices can be found on a typical Virgin America A320 aircraft?" or "This 5-letter word can mean a sequence of steps that demonstrate a valid conclusion or an action required for making bread. It's also the name of an award winning play, which was then turned into a movie. What's this word?"
It appears the campaign is Google's way to push the concept of computing in the clouds to millions. Earlier this week, the Mountain View, Calif., company introduced Google Fusion Tables on Labs, an experiment for data management in the clouds. It draws on the expertise of Googlers within Google Research who have been studying collaboration, data integration, and user requirements from a variety of domains.
Fusion Tables is not a traditional database system focusing on complicated SQL queries and transaction processing. The focus is on fusing data management and collaboration: merging multiple data sources, discussion of the data, querying, visualization, and Web publishing. The plan is to add new features to the systems as feedback from users comes in, according to Google.
A blog post on Google's Research Blog explains that users can filter and aggregate the data, and visualize it on Google Maps or with other visualizations from the Google Visualization API. For example, an intensity map of the world shows countries that won more than 10 gold medals in the Summer Olympics. You can then embed these visualizations in other properties on the Web by pasting HTML code that Google provides.