Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The big Google and NASA announcement

I always had a thing for working with NASA. In fact, I worked on a project for NASA during my undergraduate days where I converted parts of their Four-Dimensional Data Assimilation system to run on the good old IBM SP2 MIMD supercomputers (the fastest supercomputer at the time).

Now, I might just get my chance to work with them again on solving some interesting problems. Read the press release for details (see related news and blogs).

Most people thought we were kidding with the idea of opening the LunarPlex. But with Vint Cerf now at Google (he's the co-inventor of TCP/IP, the Internet, and the spec on *interplanetary* TCP/IP), I think we're going to take NASA's offer for a Journey into Space. I just love working here. For now, you can checkout Google Moon.

Center of Tech World?

I spent all of last week in the Bay Area. I took the CalTrain to work on one of the days. After getting off in Mountain View, I saw a long list of bus shuttles to take passengers from the station to various companies. Google, Yahoo, Apple, and Microsoft all had a shuttle bus. Wow, now that feels like the center of the world!

I also spent a couple of nights at Hotel Avante. What I really like about this place is that they leave a puzzle on your bed as part of the nightly turn-down service. However, this time I noticed that the puzzle was very similar to something that I ask interview candidates! I guess it's time to expire that question.

Finally, Sacca summarizes what I hate about voice mail: Voicemail is so broken. Until someone can really make it easy for me to extract a number from a voicemail, file the message away for later, label it, quickly find it again, search over it, forward it, reply at my convenience, etc etc, I am going to stick to email. It takes some time to get used to the blinking red light on my phone. But anything is better than going through those painful menus.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A child in povery dies every three seconds

I can't believe my eyes when reading this article (see more). OFCOM, the British FCC, recently banned The Make Poverty History awareness advertisement in which the likes of rock star Bono and model Claudia Schiffer snap their fingers every three seconds, symbolising how often a child dies as a result of poverty somewhere in the world. This is sad. BTW, if you have not heard of the Make Poverty History, they are mostly known for their multi-day concerts where they help raise money for this good cause.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Yahoo Music Engine vs iTunes

I signed up for the Yahoo Music Service. Here are the pros and cons as I see it compared to iTunes:

  • $60/year for unlimited access to 1M songs.
  • Better than expected selection (lots of latin/trance, but so so on the international side)
  • Netflix-like collaborative filtering lets you quickly find similar artists, create playlists, etc. You can also have your suggestions be influenced by friends.
  • .79 a song for MP3s (iTunes is .99)
  • iPod does not play WMA -- enough said!
  • Buggy Client
    • I had several crashes today
    • Sometimes it forgets that I'm a paid customer and only plays 30s
    • It does not automatically retry failed downloads
  • I really wish they had a Google-like 'do you mean ...?' when I mispell. Please don't make me spell correctly.
  • Bad search UI. It forces me to do query-by-example searches (i.e. by artist, title, etc) instead of flexible keyword searches. And it would be killer to have lyrics search.
  • No client for my Powerbook
  • iTunes is a sexier app
If Apple had the same subscription style service, I'd be willing to pay 2-3x Yahoo just to listen to everything on an iPod. But for now, I have decided to listen to the WMA's when I'm around a computer with broadband, which nearly most of the time.