Archive for June, 2007

Friday, June 29th, 2007

no iPhone

No iPhone for me. No waiting in insane lines. No paying $600 to beta test first-gen hardware. And definitely no signing up for two years under the AT&T regime. Now when does the 2nd gen iPhone come out…? -m

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

What does ‘continuing education’ mean to you?

I just finished an online version of SICP, the famous computer science text Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (link to full and official text online). What do I mean by “finished”? Well, there are online video lectures (link to iTunes-ready RSS video feed), expertly delivered by SICP authors Sussman and Abelson themselves in 1986. Beyond just watching the lectures, I took careful notes so I have something to refer back to later. I didn’t get the full intense college-class experience–no pop quizzes for instance–but it’s still helpful. Recent Python and XSLT I’ve written has been influenced for the better.

It’s interesting to peruse the reviews for this book on Amazon. They seem to mainly fall into gushing 5-star reviews, or else ‘yecccch, I’ll never use this stuff’. Both are correct. As Harold Abelson says to start of the first lecture, computer science is neither about computers nor science. The point of this endeavor isn’t about “programming”. You won’t find many Scheme jobs on LinkedIn, for instance. It’s all too easy to get pulled into the world of trench warfare programming, so it’s good to be able to step back and survey broader theoretical issues.

My views toward Lisp/Scheme have shifted as well. Before, and for about the first half of the lectures, I would have talked vaguely about how Lisp has an elegant purity but unusable syntax. Lots of Irritating Superfluous Parentheses, and so on. By the end, I have a lot more respect for the language. I admit I was rather floored by the metacircular evaluator lesson, where a suitably fezzed Gerald Sussman writes an entire Scheme interpreter–writes in Scheme–on a blackboard.
Prior to that, I went through an MIT course on differential equations by the engaging Arthur Mattuck, picking up where my electronics left off. Prior to that, a book called Problem Frames, about fully analyzing problems before diving into solution space.

So I’ve been keeping busy. It seems like these sorts of things run in cycles for me, with a full cycle taking around two years. So I’m really curious: how do others manage “continuing education”? What have you learned lately? How do you learn best? What should I look in to next? Comment below. -m

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

At that moment, I knew my business was Machine Ready

I fell asleep one night while reading Ray Kurzweil, and had this crazy dream where the internet called me up (over VOIP, naturally) to complain that none of my web pages made sense. Par for the course, I thought at first. But then I told the internet a few things, to let me worry about my own domain of concern; he/she/it grappled with a response when a loud noise awoke me–my chirping alarm clock. I reached over to pound the Snooze button, but I stopped when my eyes focused on the display, which read in segmented LED letters: I rtFm. -m

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Get yer Go

Still more mobile news. Yahoo! Go is shipping. No alpha, beta, gamma, etc.–the real deal. Give it a whirl. If your phone, like mine, can’t handle the awesomeness, you can visit the slick web-only version at m.yahoo.com. -m

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

More iPhone details leaked

America’s Finest News Source has the scoop. -m

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

More phones have Y! buttons

Have a look at these new Samsung phones, especially on page 2. Still limited to Asian territories, but this sort of thing has to be coming to the US and Europe as well… -m

Monday, June 18th, 2007

I hardly knew ya

The big buzz today is news that Terry Semel has stepped down as CEO of Yahoo, and Jerry Yang has stepped up. Believe it or not, Y is the first place I’ve worked at that’s large enough that I’m not on a first name basis with the CEO, so this kind of thing is much less personal. I can’t remember even shaking his hand.

In reflection, Terry’s management style seems to be based largely on the Dale Carnegie How-to-win-friends-and-influence-people style that’s been influential in my life and career. I have more respect for him than for most of the armchair CEO’s out there. I never understood some of the venom hurled at Semel, but then again I’m happy to see the change–I think Yahoo needs a little less Hollywood right now.
In short, there’s lots of change happening at Yahoo, both at the management level and in my personal role to play. But each change so far has been good, and the changes are adding up to something even bigger. After some recent personal tough times, I’m glad I decided to stay with Yahoo. What’s even better, there will probably be no more Tom Cruise visits. :-) -m

Wednesday, June 13th, 2007

Poor-Man’s Apple TV: Your Old iPod

I have an older iPod. I don’t go G numbers, but it’s 40 gigs and a black and white screen. The battery life is measured in minutes. Hmm, 40 gigs, same as the original Apple TV.

We don’t have a TV in the place, but we do watch movies on the computer screen. As long as you’re willing to plug in what’s essentially a portable hard drive, you can watch movies on any screen with a nearby FireWire port. Battery life isn’t an issue because the only time you use the iPod, it’s plugged in.

What do you do with your old iPod? -m

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

The Writing Show: First-Chapter-of-a-Novel Contest

Once again, I am a judge for this year’s First-Chapter-of-a-Novel Contest hosted by The Writing Show. We’re looking for unpublished, less-than 4000 word entries.
Final deadline for submissions is June 15, so there’s just enough time left to put together your masterpiece and get it in. This year, there’s some serious prizes, and the top award will be chosen by popular crime fiction author C.J. Box. Go have a look at the rules for all the details.

There is a small entry fee, but every valid submission will get a 750+ word critique. For aspiring authors, you win either way. Now get to work! -m

Sunday, June 3rd, 2007

Search On

The approximately seven readers of this blog have probably already heard this, but just in case: I have a new role at Yahoo!–working on next generation search.

Lots of details are still falling into place. For now I describe it: “Imagining, specifying, prototyping, developing, and evangelizing next-generation web search experiences leveraging the full and unique capabilities available within Yahoo!”

In many ways, this is a logical stepping stone after oneSearch, and I’ll be dealing with lowercase semantic web issues more now. Expect the focus of this blog to shift accordingly (though I’m still interested in mobile and will make note of important happenings.)

Search On! -m