Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Not so lucky this time

So, um... despite getting warned by JP about gambling, I went to Atlantic City again (last last Tuesday 3/14) with a friend from high school. I'm not sure how this trip ended up being planned, but it started way back at the beginning of the semester when we reminisced about old times, particularly my birthday party during 1st grade at which he was one of two guests. Well, I don't remember whether I blogged about my first riskafilic experiences in Atlantic City, but I was lucky enough to leave up 20 bucks. This was helped by the fact that none of the other people with me were interested in gambling and I was able to stop after only 3 hands of blackjack.

But, while the goal of the last trip had been more to enjoy the increasingly rare company of friends, this trip was driven by aspirations of debauchery. No, that wasn't serious, but for example, instead of spending an hour and a half arguing about where to eat dinner last time, Pat and I spend 20 minutes looking for video blackjack. Instead of going to Wawa's to get some refreshments, we were served beverages at the table. The drink of the night was Vodka 7-up, however, recognize that I only had one of these. We did meet up with KK who lives in AC and persisted the tradition of always eating at Sharon Zheng II's buffet, however. Traditions are nice.

On the way back, we did spend a significant amount of time looking for Dunkin' Donuts and we saw no less than 5 Wawas on the same road. All in all, I learned some rules about blackjack, had a great time, and got to know my old friend a little better. I also found out that I'd prefer to lose 100 dollars on gambling for hours over losing it on CREAF (true story) over a couple of weeks. Of course, in the long term, it's a different story. GOOG is doing ok right now.

In the vein of casino outings.

Friday, March 17, 2006


And I tried so hard during lunch :/

The Stanford Conspiracy

There seems to be a rumor that Google is going to buy Sun. [Some think it's a conspiracy to boost Sun's stock price, but that could be illegal and it wouldn't be so high profile]. This speculation isn't totally ungrounded or new, because rumors of Sun and Google being in cahoots go back (perhaps further) to a highly anticipated press conference back in October that disappointed a lot of people (including me) who were expecting something like Google selling Sun workstations to access the Google OS. What they did end up agreeing to do is cooperate in driving up adoption of Google Toolbar and Sun's Java Runtime Environment over the course of a multi-year partnership. Now, you can read up on what signs point to a merger or aquisition or more tight cooperation, or read up on why it's just hype. What I want to do is to explore how their cultures are aligned.

Google's had some experience in acquiring companies (see a surprisingly long list here). It's usually more like them acquiring smart people who produced fantastic stuff. The big names I can remember are Blogger (way back in 2003), Dodgeball, Picasa, KeyHole, and now @Last. Many times, it didn't seem like the products really aligned with Google's typical web-based ones, especially Picasa and KeyHole's Google Earth precursor. The one thing that remained extremely important, however, was the cultural fit. Google's culture is that of competence/intelligence/innovation (see what they're doing to make sure this doesn't change). They also like to think of themselves as having a small company feel where employees are highly resourceful and independent (20% of the time they manage themselves and work on their own projects). This matches the qualities of many of their acquisitions, which had one or two products each. That also makes for an easy transition to the GooglePlex.

I can't imagine Google [just taking Sun] and just merging them into the GooglePlex, despite having many times the market capitalization of Sun. Sun is in 100 countries and it really would be a headache. However, their cultures are not all that different. From a financial analysis report quoted in the pro-merger post, Sun and Google have a lot more in common and posit that Google's existence can be traced back to Sun, which is in turn traced back to the Stanford University Network or S.U.N. Company. Google's founders are Ph.D. students of Stanford University who have been "on leave". Stanford, which has a great reputation of putting out strong technology innovators owns a sizeable chunk of Google because the technology is technically being licensed from them, having been originally conceived by its students. Google's CEO, Eric Schmidt, who at one point, ran Sun's Java development as CTO (btw, Sun's CEO recently announced his resignation, seemingly satisfied at completing a milestone in Sun's history). According to, Sun's culture is that of individualism where employees are expected to "take initiative, make decisions, and be creative in solving problems." This sounds like the typical Stanford graduate.

The standard intuition regarding mergers is that the buying company's stock price falls and the company being picked up sees a rise. It seems the case based on very rough estimates. Google's price has dropped around 15% since a February 23 article sparked interest. Sun is worth about 16 billion to Google's now 100 billion. Of course, there is all that click fraud controversy, with the settlement and worries of more trouble down the line, the slowing of Google's growth statement by Google's CFO. It's fun to think about a Stanford conspiracy, though, and it's not hard to understand where the rumors come from.

Other Stanford people (not surprising): Vint Cerf graduated from Stanford and is now Google's Chief Internet Evangelist. Half the members of Google's Management Team have a very obvious relationship to Stanford and Eric (through SUN) and Vint (undergrad) don't even have Stanford in their descriptions so maybe there's even more. Of course, Yahoo's founders Jerry Yang and David Filo are Stanford alumni along with Steve Balmer, but that doesn't mean much.

UPDATED 12:43 PM, 11:57 PM

Monday, March 13, 2006

You, too, can be a hacker

If you're using Ubuntu Breezy (5.10) and haven't upgraded packages since Sunday, do it as soon as you can. Digg reported the fix for a flaw that allows any user to read the root password from an installation log file found here: /var/log/installer/cdebconf/questions.dat

SOURCES: Digg and Digg

Time Machine: Rough times ahead for GOOG?

Institutional shareholders losing faith in Google?
Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Jennison Associates have each dumped roughly 35 percent of their entire holdings of Google stock. Alliance Capital Management has sold 13 percent of their stake, and Wellington Management has unloaded 18 percent of their shares.
It's not like they liquidated the majority of their holdings, but I thought I should pass this along. FYI, I'm still holding on to my one share of Google stock (but for how long?)

SOURCE: FuckedGoogle [via Xooglers [via Digg]]

drafted @ 4:23 AM 3/12

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Gluttony tempered with courtesy

I don't like finishing good food. If there's a piece left, I'll slice it in half. This can naturally be repeated many times. My sister played a trick on me she convinced me that I eaten the last piece of brownie when in fact I'd left a very small piece she caused to disappear. It's good to know there are many like us out there with at least good intentions.

SOURCE: Slashfood

Friday, March 10, 2006

I dreamed a dream

So I had a dream today that my friend and I met Steve Jobs somewhere (blasted details leaking out of my skull) and he talked to us about a new Apple product. Conscious of the fact that it seemed like I had become privy to insider information that might be just what Apple needed to boost it's lagging stock price, I conquered the temptation to deal in insider trading. He then asked us to help him do the product demo/announcment! Steve seemed like a nice guy and I just wish I remembered what product it was... I think it was something to do with wireless.

Not that it would matter what I dreamt up, but I thought it was a pretty exciting concept.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Everyone sin a

iTunes offers shows in bulk

Would you pay 63 cents an episode to stock up your fifth generation iPod? Betanews calls it a subscription, but this is essentially the same as buying albums of songs at 9.99[.] except you get to choose which 16 shows to buy and the pass presumably doesn't expire (certainly not at the end of the month). It's a natural extension of Apple's business model of letting you buy content in contrast to renting it.

SOURCE: BetaNews

UPDATE 4:38 PM EST: I am so dense. Betanews is right. Apple doesn't call it one, but what they're offering is a subscription in it's time-tested sense and is not a subscription service like Vongo or Napster.

UPDATE 10:33 PM EST: They're also offering seasonal subscriptions. [via Digg]

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Strange resemblances

It's a pretty strange coincedence that my background picture looks strikingly familiar to elements in this Penny Arcade comic from 1999 (one is a little harder to notice). I found it via a comment here for the most recent switch-related comic in which Gabe tastes the forbidden fruit. The corresponding news post promises a very tangible analysis to come on Monday as to why the Mac platform is so appealing.
It is extremely good at what it does, which is to say, exposing functionality.
Now, that's a much better was of saying "Macs are easy to use" and more. Let's see what Tycho has to say on Monday.


Friday, March 03, 2006

This was going to be big

Last night I read a digg headline stating that ABC's Shows Will Be Free on iTunes. Then I read that Apple will be launching a movie subscription service so it hit home even more. But, alas, it was all a misunderstanding.

Now as per Apple's existing record, they don't release bad products [the mac mini and macbook are only recent incarnations of older products so let's not talk about them right away...]. If they do something, it's with flare. Take the video downloads. They don't just offer a video-capable iPod, they get Disney and Pixar on the boat to provide content in a way that's never been done before and sell the most popular show on TV. The FM tuner accessory? They release something that's thin, light, and has RDS. So when is Apple going to sell movies? When they can do it the best. That data center in Newark won't hurt.

BTW, doesn't the origami look like an OQO with higher resolution? Who bought an OQO? Unfortunately, I'm not the first to say it.

Sometimes I think all I can do is repost stuff from elsewhere. It's because when I'm on the computer, I can post stuff before forgetting :-/ <-updated to be compatible with Google Talk/Gmail Chat.

UPDATE 9:32 PM EST 3/4/06: I've got some following up to do regarding these topics. The origami might be a software platform running on Intel's Ultra Mobile PC since it looks right and will be announced the day after the UMPC debut. Makes sense. So it's a Intel-based OQO instead of a transmeta-based OQO. But, there's this 2.2 lb Centrino-based tablet from Motion Computing. More hints that iTunes will sell movie subscriptions: a market analysis survey (not something they do a lot of it seems, if it was them).

iPod Hifi gets B grade in a review at iLounge, but a 4.5/5 from PC Mag, and Creative is launching a video store a day before Apple's birthday? Darn, can't find the source of this, but probably digg. And finally, one last mac link before the next post: Anandtech thinks imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (regarding the mac mini). I disagree with the concept. When you imitate, someone may get the impression that you admire them, but your well-being is certainly not the motivation.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Hectic weekends

The past two weekends have been hectic and have been rather troublesome, but here's a part of it. As well as this, this, part of this, and this.

In case you missed it in the links above, I tried sake! I also got confirmation that everything they say here is true!

Thanks, Dave for the link.