A Groove in October

2010-09-28-10-21-42

One month into my educational adventure, and I'm starting to find my groove. I've become much more accustomed to formal mathematics, and have managed to overcome some of the hurdles that kept me from previous understanding. I had an epiphany, late in the evening while reading up on Lévy processes. I felt so happy, that I jumped on my motorcycle, and even took the long way home.

Upon getting home, I was still pretty elated, whistling as I came through the door. Sonja noticed my pickup in mood, as it hasn't been quite so joyous for the last while. After a small bout of smalltalk she mentioned that I was in a good spirits, and I told her I finally figured out why I couldn't understand any of these proofs I had been reading recently. She probed further, and I revealed to her that I figured out that processes produce functions. She looked at me, her face as stunned as my own had been a few hours previous.

A good deal of keeping my life straight recently has been trusty Google Calendar. Being integrated with my phone, it is very handy for setting up deadlines, and time slots to hammer out assignments. I have a good handle on what is expected for me during the rest of the year, and while tight, is manageable. I'm sure it will only be a web log post or two and I'll be exclaiming that classes are over, and I have more time to dedicate to other persuits.

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Geeks at Play: Google Suggestions

Google Suggestions

Google has changed the world in which we live.  They have brought about a lot of great technological changes in the web space, and continue to give away their servies (mostly) for free.  Google suggestions isn't anything new; basically they take what you've typed into their search so far, and help out with the most common searches they service.  The results move between gut splittingly funny and downright scary.

When I started off with "Where do I find..." apparently a lot of people are looking for real vampires and Chuck Norris.  Some real fun can be had with proper nouns and the word "is".  "Apple is ", "Microsoft is ", "Firefox is", "Ford is " or the pluralized "Cows are", "People are" or "Politicians are " can each give up a short laugh, and keep one entertained for some time.  If I punch in "Wes is " (include the space) I find that the two most common searches are "Wes is a douchebag" and "Wes is legend".  Thankfully the legend returns more results.

Unfortunately, the crowd sourced suggestions show us how dumb a lot of people really are.  Punching in "Monkeys are" will give you the top two suggestions of: "Monkeys are made of chocolate" and "Monkeys aren't donkeys".  Still not convinced?  Place "What do I do when " and "What do I do if " in the search bar and have a look at what you get told.

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An Apex?

Orange Falling II

Every generation of mankind believes that they stand on the burning edge of changing times. Just a few days ago I mentioned donating to a site that collects the sum of human knowledge. Its creation has become one of those milestones of life: Before it and after it. I poked fun at seeing technology evolve, never once thinking about what would we uncover next in the chain of innovations.

Then while reading the internet, I was directed to this video. I updated my phone, opened google, and spoke:

"Cooking with Curry"

And it told me how to do just that. Smiling, I placed my head in my hand, and pondered what I had just seen.

Before this, and after this.

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Media Accelerated

The fruit like a star

At the beginning of the week, Glen turned me towards Google Reader, and at first I brushed it off as another of those fandangled feed aggregators and put it towards the back of my mind. I'm not entirely sure why I continued to play with it, but now it has it's hooks in me....deep.

The first thing that I noticed that set it apart from the bulk of the feed readers is that it is web based. There are a few strong web based readers, and I'll get to them in a minute. Having the aggregator on the web means that no matter where I am: Home, Work, a friend's house, on vacation, up north or down south I can use the same system everywhere. That is a strong plus.

The main feature, I find, that sets it apart from other online aggregators is the retention and marking items as read. As soon as I subscribe to a feed it marks where I've started, and if I go away for a week, it will keep track of all of the thousands of articles I've missed. Albeit, I've only compared it to Reddit's feeds and Yahoo's subscriptions but no other online reader I've found maintains that kind of retention. For the other two, if it isn't in the current rss/atom then it isn't displayed.

Two other amazingly simple features that set it apart are: The marked as read feature and the sharing feature. Because of the retention available it doesn't take long to accrue a few hundred items to comb though. If you have your feeds grouped, you can simply click on a group and mark the whole thing as read. Or if you spent some time at home catching up on entertainment news, with those articles being automagically marked as read as you looked at them, then when you have some time to kill at the internet cafe you can look over some of your other feeds without worrying about missing an article. It's such a simple idea, and it's implemented on all of the downloadable feed aggregators I've seen, but Google placed it seamlessly in an online application. The second feature, which was the one that Glen was really showing me, is the ability to share your articles and items. Google reader supplies an Atom feed of articles that I've marked for sharing, as well as going so far as creating a html page so that others can look at of my shared items.

Oh, and it's usually just a single click to subscribe with any intelligent browser.

Thus, in the span of a few days, I've made the switch from bookmark, ctrl-click navigation of the web, to a feed based devouring of content. The result: I'm taking in more and more of the internet, and enjoying every minute of it.

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