Tuesday, June 30, 2009


After reading Earth II, by Stephen Baxter on Asimov's Science Fiction magazine, I had to get his latest book, Flood. And today I finished reading it.

Like many of Baxter's books, this is another extrapolation on scientific theories to push humanity to the limits of society. Interesting read, if not a little on the sad side. I think talking about anything else about the book will spoil it somehow. It wasn't my favorite of Baxter's books (probably that would still be something on the Manifold series, probably Manifold: Time, but that's debatable. Like many other things, it's hard to me to talk about my favorites, as it would somehow mean that I would prefer reading it again than reading something new.

Anyway, if you like the genre, I recommend it. If you like romances or adventure with happy endings, you probably should stay away from this 490-page tome.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Starting to know people?

It's odd when I'm reading an article on a "popular" blog and suddenly I realize I know the people the person is talking about. Here is today's example:

Bye, bye Bay Area: Oberoi back in Seattle with stealthy startup

I used to work with both these guys! Actually I saw them at the U. District on Wednesday. They were walking around and I was inside a bus going home. Unfortunately I couldn't talk to them...

Sure, it's a little cheating that I'm looking at a Seattle tech news blog, but it's interesting anyway. From time to time I start to ask myself if I should take the time and start writing and replying to emails again... Get to know people again and not rely on talking to "hubs" to know what is going on. Then I realize how many things I want to do and I hide again.

Oh, well... Welcome back Gaurav and good luck!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Google square is funny (a.k.a. depressing)

So Google finally launched their "answer" to Wolfram|Alpha, Google Squared. It's basically a search engine that the results of the search are shown in a table in which you can actually try to extract "structured" information from. Pretty cool in concept. Is it cool on implementation too? Well, first I decided to stay away from their "suggested pre-canned searches" on the home page and chose things that are more "dear to my heart":

Adidas shoes

Out of their 10 top results, only 5 are Adidas shoes. There is one Nike shoe and some things I can't really tell what they are. It auto-suggests showing "brand", "color" and "condition" but it can only identify the brand of two things, color of two things (both wrong) and no conditions.

Ok, so maybe it's a bad example, what about something a little bit less popular:

Brazilian trees

Only 4 results, two from Wikipedia and one mostly wrong. It's interesting how it is able to combine results from multiple websites. Not too bad, but quite limited. Only 4 types of trees in Brazil? Where one of them is called "species"?

The third one is the charm, right?

French composers

Out of the 7 first results, 4 are French composers. The funny part of this is the choice of "date of death" and "year of death" and they don't match most of the time! More than this, in some cases the year contains the full date of death.

Good try, Google, but you need to try harder.