May 31, 2005

Summer of Code Launches.

Well, that's something :-) We just launched the Summer of Code, a new program aimed at students, on Google Code, and I'm pretty happy with how it's starting out. Check it out and, if you are a student, you should consider taking part! Lots of terrific people in Open Source are helping us out with this, so it is our hope that this will be pretty successful.

May 25, 2005

I'm Cool With Wireless Being Shut Down During Presentations

I was reading the outrage expressed by the MIT Technology Review editor, Jason Pontin.

Wait...stop there...yes, before I begin, that is why I think the Tech review sucks, they have absolutely the wrong person at the helm. If I want Business 2.0, I'll read flippin' Business 2.0. If I wanted Red Herring (which Jason ran during the silly period) I'd read that, if it is still in business. The tech review was great, once, because it assumed the reader had a brain and was willing to learn new things. It wasn't a breathless review of the LATEST! BUSINESS! MODEL! AND! FUNDING! ROUND! which made red herring so very tiring. Mind you, even during the boom, I considered Red Herring unreadable. But this isn't about that....this is about his disagreement with D3's policy of no web/laptop use during speeches.

I speak and have spoken at a lot of conferences, and I'm curtailing it for a number of reasons: 1) I'm very busy, so only a few conferences 'get' to have me (not that this is a huge privilege, mind you). 2) speaking at conferences is really a huge waste of time in a way that it didn't use to be. I have no desire to compete with an 802.11b connection, that's it. If people can get better information/have a more rewarding time online....great! That's awesome. Just do it somewhere else. That is what the lobby or speaker room is for.

I was at a Usenix conference 4 or so years ago and was watching a really cool talk on wireless network stability. As part of the talk, the presenter disrupted the wireless network with a 'simple' hack he had come up with to shut down the network. You knew -exactly- when he did it because every person who had been surfing/iming/etc almost simultaneously looked up. We had a good laugh, but by question was this....what were these people doing here? Go outside! Stay home!

Yes, I'm speaking from hypocritical experience, I've done this, and I've gotten less out of conferences than I should. Thus lately, I've taken to killing off im and wireless when I'm doing something. Multitasking is a great thing for chips, but it means that you only get a shallow experience when it is your own attention you split. At Google, my fabulous employer, we are very lucky in that we have 2 or 3 amazingly cool presentations a week (tech talks, natch) about amazing topics in machine learning, random computery goodness and Google specific technologies. I've never worked in an environment where I can learn as much as I can here. To waste that opportunity on email or im should be criminal.

Honestly, I'd prefer the ability to kill a wireless network while talking. In fact, if you come to the O'Reilly Open Source convention and attending my talk, plan on using your laptop for notetaking, I'm going to try to find that program the presenter demonstrated at usenix and will use that. Or maybe I'll just unplug the access point. The great thing about this is that it will totally raise the stakes for me being a more entertaining, knowledgeable speaker. And lord help the person who fails to shut off their cell phone. I'm going to get way aggro about that.

I'm also changing how I use presentation packages, switching to a photo album of visual aids and no more bullets (or at least ones that the audience sees, anyway, they're fine as guideposts for me privately). See you there?

May 19, 2005

iPod Shuffle Goodness

I was actually completely uninterested in the iPod shuffle until I read this many weeks ago: Quantifying Bass Performance in Digital Audio Players, which was a companion piece to his PC Magazine column. Great piece of reporting & comparison. Hard to believe him and pinhead John Dvorak work for the same people. (link goes to slashdot, no pagerank for you, John.)

Anyhow, the shuffle does indeed sound good. I received as a gift (thanks Joe!) and I like the size of it. Imagine, if you will, a small display down the middle of the thing, or....even cooler, a scrolling display under the play button. Anyhow, nice little gadget, and light as a feather. Super handy. I haven't owned an iPod until now, and while I've understood why people love them, I haven't been driven to spend the extra cash they command.

May 18, 2005

Since the words out...Bye Charlie!

Since SiliconBeat has spilled the beans (har har) about Charlie leaving, I wanted to publically say thanks for all the great food and being such a good guy. Google will be the lessor for your leaving. Our loss is the worlds gain. He plans on opening a chain of restaurants, which, if I were you, I'd watch for.

The meat (har har) of the article is that he's taking off to try something new. I'm looking forward to seeing who will be his replacement here on campus, I'd hate to lose our rep as having the best lunch in the valley, as it is a powerful recruiting tool. We've been trying out new chefs over the last few months, so I'd imagine one of them will be rotating in.

May 17, 2005

16251 Spam emails in 30 days.

Yep, that's a lot of canned meat. Thanks to the gmail team for catching them. Not all of them, but at least 99.99% of them. Well done! You, my colleagues, make email usable.

Also, to the spammers, you suck, suck, suck. I hope you die soon before you breed. If you have bred....I'm envisioning your children being given to other, non-scummy family members. Maybe a nice aunt or uncle. Be the best thing for them, don't want them to grow up like you, after all. Lord, I hope it isn't genetic, some spam gene that afflicts people in sunny climes like some kind of a-hole chlorophyll.

May 11, 2005

Blog this, Microserfs...

I can't be the only one that finds the Microsoft "Thought Thieves" competition ironic and offensive. "Thought Thieves is about people stealing and profiting from your creation or innovation." I mean, leaves you speechless, really. Thought Thieves? You have got to be kidding me how newspeak is that! It must be the week for chutzpah.

Culture and invention are based on previous works. Science is based on previous science. We all stand on the shoulders of giants, and copyright maximalists will never get that and should be resisted. I mean, Microsoft's first product, a basic interpreter, was the "idea" of John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz, but now Microsoft thinks it owns all ideas, I suppose. Like the mouse, the windowing environment, instant messaging and the rest, operating systems, the spreadsheet.... I could go on...but what's the point, you guys can Google as well as I can. I don't think Microsoft paid off the authors of Unix talk. Or the visicalc folks.

The way that this will be defended is that they'll try to say this is about infringement and piracy. But, note the name of the contest "Thought Thieves". Roll that around in your brain for a bit, but not too much, you might get charged for it.

May 9, 2005

You have got to be kidding me, Hilary Rosen

I just read this post, from Hilary Rosen, Lamenting the iPod's DRM, and I am just amazed. Hillary Rosen complaining about DRM lock-in is like Bill Gates complaining about software quality. Or Sara Lee (if she in fact exists as a human) complaing about gaining weight. It's just weird, wrong, and it really makes her the poster child for chutzpah.

How about this, if you spend 17 years of your life working against fair use and personal freedom, you shouldn't complain when those same oppressions are applied to you.

Kung Fu Hustle

This was a decent movie. I went in literally thinking that I would be okay with walking out if it stank. But it was really really fun. Especially, extra, shiny good if you are a fan of bad kung foo movies.

May 3, 2005

Los Angeles....

I'm in Los Angeles for an OSDL meeting, which is so-far-so-good. The lot of us went to a restaurant in Los Feliz and on the cab ride back, the cabbie told not one but two racist jokes. The 'that's not going to over well' didn't apparently take after the first one.

I used to think (hope) that a racist joke was a cabbies way of saying 'I don't feel like talking right now, so I'll just creep you right out' but two tells me 'I'm a redneck a-hole, ain't I funny!'

And I think you know the answer to that.

I like Los Angeles though. Not the haze, the smell of desperation or the people*, but the home architecture and the land. The rolling hills to the beaches. The haze really is unfortunate. Makes one pine for nuclear power to feed those electric cars, you know. Keep the emissions in glowing waste form and not the hide-the-beach-from-the-angelinos form.

*: Although I'm sure they are nice, but I don't like Los Angeles because of people I don't know.