Here's something interesting you might not have noticed from O'Legog's search engine shop: Google Sets. When you visit Google Sets, you type in a few items that have something in common, click a button, and Google tries to figure out a bunch more items that belong in the set.
For example, when I type in Campbell, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, San Jose, Milpitas (cities near where I live), Google Sets says:
When I enter Bonds, Vizquel, Winn, Durham, and Aurilia (San Francisco Giants players), I get:
Yep, all Giants and former Giants.
You can even use it as a thesaurus. I entered joyous, thrilled, happy, excited, cheerful and asked for a large set. I got:
For special fun, go to Google Docs and create a spreadsheet. Type a few items into cells. Then hold down option (on a Mac) or ctrl (on Windows or Linux) and drag through the cells and into blank cells below or to the right. The new cells will fill in with items from Google Sets. See here for more.
Lately I've been getting a lot of "Join my network" requests from folks on LinkedIn. A couple of days ago I had one from a guy named Christopher. LinkedIn gave me the 3 standard buttons to use for handling this request -- but unfortunately, Christopher's name was too long to fit on one of the buttons:
I worked for Microsoft for almost 7 years, from 1996 to 2003. There were good times and less-good times. The beginning was terrific, when I got to work with the Mac Internet Explorer team (aka MS-Bay), a renegade bunch hired specifically to make Mac software that was not cloned from Windows applications. Early Mac IE was a great browser, designed and built specifically for the Mac by veteran Mac programmers, and I learned a bunch from that team.
My job was writing documentation and, by default, doing press, evangelism, and PR, since nobody in Redmond wanted to spend much time doing special stuff for the Mac. It was a blast. I enjoyed the dissonance of working at hated Microsoft but being part of a group that produced an excellent Mac browser. Very often we won folks over, because we had a great product: I even convinced my former boss Guy Kawasaki that IE was better. But some people would not be persuaded. Once, at Macworld Expo, we were handing out CDs with Mac IE on them. One guy asked for extra CDs. Hey, great, I thought: a fan. No, he said: he liked to put them in the microwave. At another Macworld I was interviewed live on local radio while a crowd gathered behind me and made rude gestures. Ah, memories.
After the Mac team, the jobs weren't as great as often, but I stuck around. I liked a lot of things about Microsoft, but I also wondered how such smart people could turn out products that were, let's say, not always smart, and I wasn't a fan of all the company's business practices. I guess that makes me something of a hypocrite, because I stayed there for years. But when I saw the item pictured below in the Microsoft company store, I thought it was a great statement about the company and lock-in: get 'em while they're young.
Dell has a new line of notebook computers...and the nifty new brand name is Vostro. What the hell? Vostro is sort of a Latin word, and apparently Dell thinks it sounds pretty cool. As the kids say: meh.
I've been using the iPod part of my iPhone a lot to listen to music at work (instead of an actual iPod), partly because it's so much fun to glance over and see the big, bright album art while songs are playing. Yesterday, I needed to call two local newspapers. So, sitting in my office and listening to music, I used my laptop to look up the phone number of the first newspaper, then walked outside to make the call. I grabbed the iPhone and kept listening to music as I walked outside.
When I got outside, I navigated to the phone part of the iPhone. The music kept playing as I dialed the number. When I pressed the Call button, the music gently faded out, and the call went through. Soon I was talking to the first newspaper using the hidden mic in the iPhone ear buds. While I was talking, I was put on hold, and I realized I could use the phone to look up the other newspaper's number while I was waiting. I went to the Safari app and started searching for the second newspaper's number. When I did, a thin strip appeared at the top of the screen with the text "Touch to return to call". Neat.
After I finished my first call, the person at the other end hung up. The phone figured out the call was over, faded the music back in and started playing where it left off. Meanwhile, I was looking at the web page with the second phone number I needed to call. I noticed the phone number was underlined, like a hyperlink, so I touched it. A confirmation box appeared with Cancel and Call buttons. I touched call, the music faded out, and the second call happened.
This time, the iPhone didn't detect when the call ended, so I pressed the "Touch to return to call" strip, which took me back to the phone screen, where I touched End Call. Once again, the music faded back up and resumed where it left off.
I've never owned a smartphone before, and maybe your smartphone works this well, but I came away from this brief experience feeling satisfied about how well Apple had nailed lots of little details.
Back in the late 1970s and early '80s, most personal computers used audio signals stored on cassette tapes as a storage medium. Some clever bands figured out that they could hide software on their LP records. Various kinds of programs were hidden, including actual video games. Users had to record the LPs onto tape, then load the tape into the computer. Here's a thorough description of many of these tracks hidden on LP-ROM, and even a few links to copies that are now available on the web.