Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Don turns 70 today!

Don Knuth, the don of the world of computers, mathematics and logic, has turned 70 today.
He has been my hero ever since I read the first few pages of his outstanding work "The Art Of Computer Programming". That was when I was 21 years old, and although I understood only 20% of that book, I was very impressed by his writing style, depth and humor (the only other author whose technical books I love for the same qualities is Andrew Tanenbaum).

Nowadays Don seldom gives a public appearance, so I was pleasantly shocked when I saw him ask questions in a talk given by the creator of xkcd comics (see this strip to understand his question).

More about him on his birthday :
Coding Horror Blog
Recursed Blog

Friday, January 11, 2008

Bill Gates' last day at office : his video mocking himself !

Bill Gates won everybody's hearts at the CES show where he showed a video of his last day at Microsoft, which has ample references mocking himself and others involved.

It starts off with him trying for a new job. After his unsuccessful attempts at building muscles and singing, he tries his hand on guitar. He calls Bono and samples his tune, but Bono seems to be not interested.

He then tries to become an actor. Spielberg thinks that it acting is something "money cannot buy". George Clooney puts down the offer of playing Bill in a movie. He suggests approaching Russel Crowe or Tom Hanks.

Persevering Bill then calls Jon Stewart (from whose show Bill had walked out for humiliating him) for a post of co-anchor. After the host of the Daily Show politely declines by saying he is on a jet and is going to switch off his phone, Bill tries his hand in politics!

He tries to be a running mate for Hillary Clinton, who seems not to need one. Obama fails to recognize his voice, and Al Gore says that though its not an "inconvenient time to call me", he cannot partner with Bill.

On whole, an entertaining watch of how the richest man on earth takes himself so lightly.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish

Steve Jobs' speech at Stanford has inspired more than a million people who have watched it online. He takes only 15 minutes to convey something very powerful and deep -- "stay hungry, stay foolish". In his speech, he narrates three stories from his life, each with this message.
The first one is on how he dropped out of college and took a calligraphy course, which was useful in his later life when he included these intricate fonts in Macintosh (and subsequently copied over by Windows).
The second story is about how he got kicked out of Apple, the company he founded, and started another company called NeXt, and later yet another called Pixar (the makers of Toy Story). These were acquired by Apple, and Jobs was back as its CEO.
Third story he tells, is about how he was diagonised of an uncurable type of cancer, and how later it was found that it was actually curable. This incident made him think of life in a new way.

This speech earned him a standing ovation from the entire super brains of Stanford.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Confessions of Fake Steve Jobs

The man who poses himself as Steve Jobs and blogs about how the original Steve would have reacted to various events, Dan Lyons (popularly known as Fake Steve Jobs) , gave a talk where he describes his comic anecdotes : how he was working in Forbes while parallely being approached by the CEO of Forbes (who did not know that he was working in Forbes!) for an offer to buy his blog and how ValleyWag (a blog that intrudes privacy of people in the Silicon Valley and tries to report gossips) failed four times in their attempt to unmask him.
He is one of the bloggers who come from the old school of hard print and have made it big in the Web2 generation.

A fun watch for bored times.

xkcd creator gives a talk at Google

Who in this planet is that popular, loved enough and has struck the geeky chord to have Peter Norvig (pioneer of AI, director at Google) himself give an introduction, Don Knuth (Don of Computer Science, Turing awardee) attend the talk and ask (four!) questions, and the Google engineers overflow the auditorium just to catch a glimpse of?

It is none other than the creator of xkcd comics. Watch this talk to believe me...

Note : xkcd comics are very popular among the computer science community. So popular that whatever is put in the comics, people believe are their own stories! They sometimes feel that someone is spying them to get these stories. this shows how the comics strikes the right chord.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

My most favorite video

My personal favoritest video is that of Dr Randy Pausch's humorous, witty, and emotional talk on how to achieve your childhood dreams. Randy has just a few months to live (he is diagonized of cancer) and his alma mater - CMU requested him to give a talk on any subject of his wish. This talk is filled with humor and earnestness, and is a pleasure to watch it.
This is one of the highest rated talks on Google Video. If you are unsure or hesitant to view the video, just read the comments posted in that page: those will change your mind.

Title : How To Achieve Your Childhood Dreams
Duration : 1 hour and 44 minutes
Avg. rating in Google Video : 5 / 5 (8000 ratings)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

How to generate lists of anything

A month back, I wanted to find out the areas of computer science which were similar to this happening field called "Machine Learning". I knew that "Artificial Intelligence" was very close to this, but I wanted more; I wanted a list of all research areas.
Yesterday, I was writing on human emotions, and wanted a list of many emotions that we felt. Googling "list of emotions" did not return any good results that I could use. Neither could I figure out areas similar to "Machine Learning" by a simple query search.
I needed a powerful tool which, when given a few terms, could generate similar terms which I was looking for.
This is where my awareness of online utilities helped me: I knew about this obscure tool called Google Sets which could do exactly what I wanted. Try entering a few states of mind like "happy", "sad", "angry" and see other emotions that the tool automatically generates. I say its nothing less than magic! This "Machine Learning" result will blow your mind off if you see how accurate the tool is, given that I entered only one example!