Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Quick links

What has caught my attention lately:
  • The coming bandwidth explosion, by 2015, a zetabyte per year, "the equivalent of all movies ever made crossing IP networks every four minutes" ([1])

  • Googlers (including gurus Jeff Dean and Andrew Ng) train "perhaps one of the largest known networks to date" on 1000 machines for three days, shows it is possible to learn to detect faces without ever labeling any of the data as a face, which has crazy cool implications for how the brain works ([1])

  • John Dvorak says, "Windows 8 looks to me to be an unmitigated disaster".  Long-time Microsoft reporter Todd Bishop writes, "Microsoft [uses] 'fast and fluid' to describe Windows 8, but two other words keep popping to my mind: New Coke." A former Palm executive says, "To me, it feels like Microsoft is in a quiet panic. When Apple says the era of the PC has ended, I think Microsoft may believe it even more than Apple does." ([1] [2] [3])

  • "Make everyone a manager" aka "why there are no bosses" ([1] [2] [3] [4] [5])

  • Usability study shows people ignore social annotations when searching (e.g. one of your friends clicked or liked a web page that is in your search results) and, in the rare cases when searchers pay attention to them, people don't find them useful. Pretty serious implications for Facebook's partnership with Bing and Google's increasingly annoying habit of slopping Google+ all over Google web search. ([1]

  • Prefetching entire web pages has issues, but a lot of the benefit can be gained just with DNS prefetching and TCP preconnecting.   "If we guess right, the DNS and TCP handshake may complete before we even hit enter."  Lots of clever ideas in Google Chrome, including this one. ([1])

  • Chatbot for Facebook and Twitter that basically does Let Me Google That For You, very funny, but also surprisingly effective ([1])

  • Retention, morale, productivity, and recruiting have long been wastelands of opinion over data, but here is a very welcome initiative to change that spearheaded by Google. By the way, I love that Google doesn't have Human Resources, they have "People Ops". ([1])

  • The time has come to optimize code for energy consumed. Don't miss the table showing how many joules it takes to render the home pages of some popular websites. ([1])

  • At least for ambiguous queries like [pizza], Google no longer emphasizes search results, not a bad idea, but quite a change for them ([1])

  • Google is now crawling and executing most Javascript on the Web. This has been talked about for years, but first I've heard of it being done routinely at massive scale. ([1])

  • For shopping search results, it matters what products you show next to each other.  In particular, people often buy in the middle of the price range, so the mix of prices on the products you show can change what product people buy. ([1])

  • Is Google's mission now organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful (but only if you pay to be included)? ([1])

  • Clever idea here, using playlists (or wishlists or any kind of publicly available list) for recommendations. ([1])

  • A WWW 2012 paper that both quotes Xkcd and contains the sentence "this is quite a sweet ass-abstract for a scientific paper, dude!" in the introduction. Fun paper as well, but I think it's notable for that alone. ([1])

  • Remarkable ability to automatically stabilize the camera in YouTube videos. Make sure to look at the two videos. ([1])

  • Can't wait for us to have full wall displays controlled by voice and gesture, these are another step closer ([1] [2])

  • Udacity and Coursera are getting more explicit about their business model, which appears to be sourcing programmers nicely pre-screened for coding ability to companies. ([1] [2])

  • On flipped classrooms: "A control class that received a lecture from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and an experimental section where students worked with graduate assistants to solve physics problems. Test scores for the experimental group (non-lecture) was nearly double that of the control section (41% to 74%)." ([1])

  • Love that robot swarms are practical and starting to be used. Want to see this for space and undersea probes too. ([1])

  • A big step toward computers that accept error as normal, yielding large gains in efficiency and performance ([1])

  • Talk about geniuses at Facebook ignores the big problem that no one -- not Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, or any of the newspapers -- knows how to solve this problem of making advertising relevant, effective, and lucrative without immediate purchase intent, despite years of work by thousands of brilliant people ([1] [2])

  • "The buy, driven entirely by Zuckerberg, was made because Facebook’s CEO was petrified of Instagram becoming a Twitter-owned property. Zuckerberg, we’re told, lives in perpetual anxiety, preoccupied by the fear of Facebook losing its place ... That fear served as the catalyst behind his decision to buy Instagram." ([1] [2])

  • Fascinating (but long) talk by Googler Steve Seitz on "the next generation of Google Maps". Also a great survey of work (older work and work currently at Google) using crowdsourced photos to build 3D walkthroughs of cities and interiors for photo tourism. Relevant for Apple launching their own maps, but also amazing and fun, can't wait to see more of this launched. ([1])

  • The decline of TV has been greatly exaggerated ([1])

  • Ubiquitous Wi-Fi might be back, this time with cell phone-like handoff between hotspots, could be a real game changer ([1])

  • One of the better articles on this: "5 Things You Should Know Before Working at a Start-Up" ([1])

  • "The average VC fund returns less money to investors than they invested in the first place." ([1] [2])

  • Truly random (and fast) number generators by looking at quantum vacuum, possibly soon small and cheap enough to be put on a motherboard. Sounds trivial, I know, but insufficiently random numbers cause security and performance problems, so this really is a pretty useful idea. ([1])

  • "Geek" has really changed meaning in the last decade, now almost admired. ([1])

3 comments:

Rama Ramakrishnan said...

Another compelling compendium, Greg!

My weekend just evaporated :)

Val Vakar said...

Greg, I don't know if you have a team of web searchers, are spending insane amounts of time reading stuff online, or just have an automated system that finds cool stuff (are you running Findory all by yourself??), but I have to thank you for being such a good curator, and, if it's not a secret, ask you to tell us about your methods.
Keep it up!
-Val

Val Vakar said...

Greg, I don't know if you have a team of web searchers, are spending insane amounts of time reading stuff online, or just have an automated system that finds cool stuff (are you running Findory all by yourself??), but I have to thank you for being such a good curator, and, if it's not a secret, ask you to tell us about your methods.
Keep it up!
-Val