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12 popular Google Doodle games you can still play

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12 popular Google Doodle games you can still play

These short, clever games are a fun way to pass a bit of free time.

baseball

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A few times each year, the Google Doodle team cranks out some high-quality games to celebrate anniversaries and special events, or to raise awareness of ongoing issues. Usually these games are meant to last anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes, though some last even an hour or more. In no particular order, here are some of the best Google Doodle games you can still play.

Pac-Man

pac man Google

Pac-Man is a timeless classic, so it only makes sense to kick off our list with this world-famous 1980s’ arcade game. On May 21, 2010, Google released this fun Doodle to celebrate Pac-Man’s 30th anniversary. Experience the nostalgia by chomping down on some dots, assorted fruits, and maybe even a ghost or two.

The objective of the game is to clear the stage of all the dots while avoiding the ghosts. If a ghost touches you, it’s game over. You can control Pac-Man using the arrow keys on your keyboard. If you have a friend that wants to play with you, click “Insert Coin” twice and Ms. Pac-Man appears! Ms. Pac-Man is controlled using the A,S,D, and W keys.

Baseball

baseball Google

The Baseball Google Doodle was released on the Fourth of July, 2019, and what better way to celebrate Independence Day than playing some good ol’ fashioned baseball! To make things even more ‘merican, you play as various foods that you may find at a baseball game, such as hotdogs or nachos and cheese, while the opposing team are peanuts.

When you start the game, a random food item walks up to the plate. Press the Spacebar to swing your bat when the pitcher throws the ball. The speed and style of the pitch will vary as you score more points. The game ends when you strike out. See how many points you can score!

Basketball

basketball Google

Continuing with the sports theme, Basketball lets you shoot hoops in this single-player time-passer. This was actually part of a four-day Google Doodle run, where you could also test your skills in soccer, slalom canoe, and soccer. According to Google Doodle lead Ryan Germick, these four games were played over one billion times in the span of four days.

The mechanics of the game is simple—just press and hold the spacebar to build up strength, and then release it to shoot. If you build up too much strength (or don’t build up enough), you’ll miss. See how many balls you can net within 30 seconds!

Coding for Carrots

coding for carrots Google

In celebration of 50 years of Kids Coding, the Google Doodle team released Coding for Carrots. This simple drag-and-drop game for kids introduces the concept of coding by using building blocks to send the rabbit in the correct direction to gather carrots.

Each block has an arrow pointing in a specific direction. To complete each level, players must add the correct sequence of blocks to direct the rabbit across the platform, collecting all of the carrots the level has to offer. The higher the level, the more difficult the sequence becomes.

Rubik’s Cube

rubiks cube Google

Made up of six colors, six sides, and 54 squares, the Rubik’s Cube has been around since 1974. In 2014, Google released the Rubik’s Cube Doodle in celebration of 40 years of frustrating people around the world.

The objective of this game is to get each side of the Rubik’s Cube the same color by twisting and turning the blocks. To play the Google Doodle version, click and drag your cursor to spin the blocks or rotate the Rubik’s Cube. Good luck!

Pony Express

pony express Google

The Pony Express was a mail delivery service back in the 19th century. The first successful delivery was on April 14, 1860. As a nod to that history, Pony Express, the Google Doodle team made a neat Pony Express game where you collect mail on horseback, dodging obstacles all the while.

To play, users must use the up and down arrow keys to move the rider up and down, respectively. Collect as much mail as possible while avoiding cacti, fences, rocks, holes, and many other obstacles. There are three levels in total—try to collect all of the mail in each level!

Sonic-like Pangolin Game

sonic like pangolin game Google

Pangolins are the most trafficked animal in the world and face extinction thanks to poachers hunting them down for meat, medicine, and fashion. In order to raise awareness of this problem, Google made a love-based Doodle on Valentine’s Day back in 2017 in honor of the endangered pangolin.

The pangolin Google Doodle is a Sonic-like side scroller. Move the pangolin using your left- and right-arrow keys, and make it jump with the spacebar. Collect as many items as you can and make it to the finish line before time runs out.

Meow-loween

meow loween Google

Meow-loween is a spooky Google Doodle that was created to celebrate Halloween back in 2016. In Meow-loween, the player controls a cat named Momo who must save the School of Magic from the onslaught of ghosts.

In this game, each ghost has a symbol that appears over their heads. In order to send the ghost back to the realm of the unknown, the player must click and drag their mouse across the screen to draw the symbol. Be quick, because the longer you play, the more ghosts that appear!

Doodle Champion Island Games

doodle champion island games Google

The Doodle Champion Island Games is one of the longest Google Doodle games to date, taking around two hours to complete. This was originally scheduled to be released during the 2020 Olympics, but due to the pandemic delaying the event for an additional year, the Google Doodle team had more time to work on it, bringing even more fun to the table than originally planned.

To play, move your character around the world map and approach each challenge that awaits you. The controls are different for each game, so be sure to read the instructions carefully. Compete in all of the competitions and see if you can make it to the top of the leaderboard.

The Garden Gnomes

the garden gnomes Google

Ever get the urge to sling garden gnomes several meters across a garden using a catapult? Now’s your chance! To give a bit of background on the history of garden gnomes, including their origin and how they’re made, Google Doodle brings you The Garden Gnomes.

The objective of the game is to sling the gnomes from your catapult as far as you possibly can across the garden. The further you sling them, the more flowers they plant. To play, press the spacebar to prepare the catapult, and then press the spacebar again to release the gnome. The better your timing of release, the further you’ll sling the gnome.

Loteria

loteria Google

Loteria, often referred to as Mexican Bingo, is a traditional Mexican card game. The announcer shows a card, and you have to quickly see if you have a match on yours. Unlike bingo, the pattern you must make on your card changes each game. This is also the second Google Doodle that allows multiple players to join!

To play, listen to the announcer call out the card, take a look at it, and then check your card to see if you have a match. If you do, quickly drag and drop a bean on the card. If you don’t, then just wait until the announcer shows the next card. Match the pattern required for a win to complete the game. This is a game of chance, so good luck!

Scoville

scoville Google

We’ve all made the mistake of popping an entire spicy pepper in our mouth. Filled with instant regret, we try to remedy the burning sensation as quickly as possible. Thanks to Wilbur Scoville, we know that running to the fridge and grabbing a jug of milk is the perfect solution to easing the pain. Also thanks to Scoville, we know how to measure the level of heat each pepper gives off. In honor of Scoville’s 151st birthday, the Scoville Doodle gives you the opportunity to show that spicy pepper who’s boss by chunking a scoop of ice cream at it.

At the bottom of the battlefield, you’ll see a bar with a circle quickly moving back and forth. To hit the pepper with a scoop of ice cream, try to stop the circle as close to the middle of the bar as possible. You can stop the circle by clicking your mouse. The more you progress, the spicier the peppers get. See if you can defeat them all!

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Leaked Alder Lake prices strike at Ryzen’s CPU dominance

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Leaked Alder Lake prices strike at Ryzen’s CPU dominance

Here’s what leaked retailer pricing tells us about the performance of Intel’s upcoming Alder Lake S CPUs.

6core vs 8core cpus

Intel / AMD / janniwet / Shutterstock

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Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake processors aren’t upon us yet, but another price leak indicates they might indeed compete with AMD’s best CPUs, unlike current top-end Core offerings.

The latest oopsie comes from retail IT vendor Provantage, which puts the top-end Core i9-12900K at $605. The IT vendor also lists the Core i7-12700K at $420, as well as a Core i5-12600K for $283.

After news reports of the part numbers and prices surfaced, Provantage removed the listings. The latest leak follows reports two weeks ago—supposedly from European retailers—that placed the Core i9-12900K at $705, the Core i7-12700K at $495, and the Core i5-12600 at $343.

Before you jump to any conclusions, we want to point out that as reliable as a leaked retail price might seem, they can very unreliable too. Often times stores prep for impending launches by using placeholder prices and specs. Those listings are then updated when the stores receive the final information.

The leaked info itself from Provantage would indicate it’s not quite baked yet. For example, we know the top-end Alder Lake S chip will feature 8 performance cores and 8 efficient cores (Intel’s Alder Lake chips feature a radical new mixture of big and little cores), yet the listing at Provantage lists the top-end chip as an 8-core design. 

alder lake provantage Provantage via Hothardware.com

Hothardware.com snapped this image of Intel’s 12th gen Alder Lake CPUs at retailer Provantage. that has since been removed.

Still, both combined retail leaks reinforce what we’ve already come to conclude so far: Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake S will at least suit up with the intent to take on AMD’s 16-core Ryzen 9 5950X.

That’s a marked change from the $550 8-core 11th gen Rocket Lake CPU, which lost badly to AMD’s $550 12-core Ryzen 9 5900X chip. With the 11th-gen desktop chips, Intel didn’t even try to field a CPU against AMD’s $750 Ryzen 9 5950X.

With its increased core efficiency, newer manufacturing process, and physically more cores than previous Intel consumer desktop CPUs, it’s entirely possible Intel’s 12th Core i9 will actually end up being somewhere between $604 and $705 when it comes out.

intel alder lake performance core benchmark Intel

Intel is touting a marked increase in core efficiency with its 12th gen Alder Lake CPUs.

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One of founding fathers of hardcore tech reporting, Gordon has been covering PCs and components since 1998.

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The best Windows backup software

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The best Windows backup software

Updated

The best programs for keeping your data and Windows safely backed up.

Rob Schultz/IDG

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We need backup software for our PCs because our storage drives won’t last forever. Backup software ensures we’re covered when the day comes that our primary drive up and dies.

It would be nice if Microsoft itself provided Windows users with something like Apple’s Time Machine: an effective, set-it-and-forget-it, total system recovery and backup solution that requires little interaction or thought on the user’s part. 

Instead, Microsoft delivers a mishmash of restore points, recovery discs, file backup, and even the un-retired System Backup (Windows 7), which was probably originally put out to pasture for its propensity to choke on dissimilar hardware. Online backup services are another option, but desktop clients tend to offer far more flexibility. 

Plenty of vendors have stepped in with worthy alternatives, and while none are quite as slick or transparent as Time Machine, some come darn close—and many are free. Read on for our top picks. 

Updated on 9/15/21 to include our review of the newest version of Aomei Backupper 6. It remains our favorite free backup software for Windows because it provides a near-total backup solution, with a generous number of features. As a paid program, however, there are better options. Read more about it below. And scroll to the bottom of this article to see links to all our backup software reviews.

Best overall backup software

There’s a reason True Image is renowned in the world of backup software. It’s capable, flexible, and rock-solid reliable. Indeed, it’s easily the most comprehensive data safety package on the planet.

Besides offering unparalleled backup functionality that’s both robust and easy to navigate, True Image integrates security apps as well, which protect against malware, malicious websites, and other threats using real-time monitoring. Read our full review.

Best free backup software

Among the free programs we tested, Backupper Standard wins primarily because it has the most features, including imaging, file backup, disk cloning, and plain file syncing, plus multiple scheduling options (see our full review). This was the case with Backupper 4, and the latest version has only added more options, making it a surprisingly well-rounded free offering. We hit a few performance snags with less-conventional system setups, but for the average user, it should perform as expected.

What to look for in backup software

As with most things—don’t over-buy. Features you don’t need add complexity and may slow down your system. Additionally, if you intend to back up to a newly purchased external hard drive, check out the software that ships with it. Seagate, WD, and others provide backup utilities that are adequate for the average user.

File backup: If you want to back up only your data (operating systems and programs can be reinstalled, though it’s mildly time- and effort-consuming), a program that backs up just the files you select is a major time-saver. Some programs automatically select the appropriate files if you use the Windows library folders (Documents, Photos, Videos, etc.).

Image backup/Imaging: Images are byte-for-byte snapshots of your entire hard drive (normally without the empty sectors) or partition, and can be used to restore both the operating system and data. Imaging is the most convenient to restore in case of a system crash, and also ensures you don’t miss anything important.

Boot media:  Should your system crash completely, you need an alternate way to boot and run the recovery software. Any backup program should be able to create a bootable optical disc or USB thumb drive. Some will also create a restore partition on your hard drive, which can be used instead if the hard drive is still operational.

Scheduling: If you’re going to back up effectively, you need to do it on a regular basis. Any backup program worth its salt allows you to schedule backups.

Versioning: If you’re overwriting previous files, that’s not backup, it’s one-way syncing or mirroring. Any backup program you use should allow you to retain several previous backups, or with file backup, previous versions of the file. The better software will retain and cull older backups according to criteria you establish.

Optical support: Every backup program supports hard drives, but as obsolescent as they may seem, DVDs and Blu-Ray discs are great archive media. If you’re worried about optical media’s reliability, M-Disc claims its discs are reliable for a thousand years, claims that are backed up by Department of Defense testing.

Online support: An offsite copy of your data is a hedge against physical disasters such as flood, fire, and power surges. Online storage services are a great way to maintain an offsite copy of your data. Backup to Dropbox and the like is a nice feature to have.

FTP and SMB/AFP: Backing up to other computers or NAS boxes on your network or in remote locations (say, your parent’s house) is another way of physically safeguarding your data with an offsite, or at least physically discrete copy. FTP can be used for offsite, while SMB (Windows and most OS’s) and AFP (Apple) are good for other PCs or NAS on your local network.

Real time: Real-time backup means that files are backed up whenever they change, usually upon creation or save. It’s also called mirroring and is handy for keeping an immediately available copy of rapidly changing data sets. For less volatile data sets, the payoff doesn’t compensate for the drain on system resources. Instead, scheduling should be used.

Continuous backup: In this case, ‘continuous’ simply means backing up on a tight schedule, generally every 5 to 15 minutes, instead of every day or weekly. Use continuous backup for rapidly changing data sets where transfer rates are too slow, or computing power is too precious for real-time backup.

Performance: Most backups proceed in the background or during dead time, so performance isn’t a huge issue in the consumer space. However, if you’re backing up multiple machines or to multiple destinations, or dealing with very large data sets, speed is a consideration.

How we test

We run each program through the various types of backups it’s capable of. This is largely to test reliability and hardware compatibility, but we time two: an approximately 115GB system image (two partitions), and a roughly 50GB image created from a set of smaller files and folders. We then mount the images and test their integrity via the program’s restore functions. We also test the USB boot drives created by the programs.

All of our reviews

If you’d like to learn more about our top picks as well as other options, you can find links below to all of our backup software reviews. We’ll keep evaluating new programs and re-evaluating existing software on a regular basis, so be sure to check back for our current impressions.

Note: When you purchase something after clicking links in our articles, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate link policy for more details.

Jon is a Juilliard-trained musician, former x86/6800 programmer, and long-time (late 70s) computer enthusiast living in the San Francisco bay area. [email protected]

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Razer just made gamer thimbles

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Razer just made gamer thimbles

Or maybe they’re yoga pants for your thumbs?

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Razer has never been afraid to take a shot on products that seem unusual at first glance. Witness its RGB-infused N95 mask, the now-defunct Razer Game Store with its own zVault currency, or the first-gen Firefly mousepad, which has evolved into something special but originally prompted us to review it against a ripped-up piece of cardboard. The company’s latest offering might just take the cake though. This week, Razer introduced gamer thimbles.

Yes, thimbles. You know, like the Monopoly piece (or the sewing accessory for more worldly folks out there). Seriously.

Well, not quite. If you simply can’t abide sweaty palms and greasy fingerprints interfering with your marathon mobile Fortnite sessions, the new Razer gaming finger sleeve may be up your alley. “Slip on and never slip up with Razer Gaming Finger Sleeve that will seal your mobile victory,” Razer’s site breathlessly boasts.  “Woven with high-sensitivity silver fiber for enhanced aim and control, our breathable sleeves keep your fingers deadly cool in the heat of battle, so you’ll always have a grip on the game.”

Razer says the 0.8mm-thick sleeves are sweat absorbent, and that they’re made from nylon and spandex. So maybe they’re more like gamer yoga pants? But you know, for your fingers?

Either way it’s ludicrous. And unlike most of Razer’s gear, the gamer thimbles understandably (yet sadly) lack RGB lighting. But if you want to wear your dedication to the Cult of Razer on your slee…thumb, or maybe just look snazzier when you’re passing Go and collecting $200, you can pick up a pair of Razer gaming finger sleeves on the company’s website for $10. The truly dedicated can double down to look especially gamer:

razer gamer thimbles 2 Razer

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