Sunday, 03 June 2007

Google holds it secrets close, as it should. One of its most valuable assets (probably its most valuable) is still its search engine, and because it's the end-all-be-all of Internet searching, how well it works is very important to the company. Add to that the relevance and accuracy of searching as it relates to Google advertising revenues, and the importance becomes quite huge.

The New York Times published a story this morning about the Google search inner sanctum, a bunch of people who tweak and adjust the search algorithms used to get people what they're looking for on the web. It's a good article and dives deep into the work the team does and how much more accurate search has become.

“Expectations are higher now,” said Udi Manber, who oversees Google’s entire search-quality group. “When search first started, if you searched for something and you found it, it was a miracle. Now, if you don’t get exactly what you want in the first three results, something is wrong.”

It's an interesting read, well worth the time. And think about how much storage is required for this:

And Google does more than simply build an outsized, digital table of contents for the Web. Instead, it actually makes a copy of the entire Internet — every word on every page — that it stores in each of its huge customized data centers so it can comb through the information faster. Google recently developed a new system that can hold far more data and search through it far faster than the company could before.

Find out more about Google's PageRank as well as a little of what they call "signals" - cues and other information the search engine algorithms generate and use to determine what you see when you search and why.

Article reference: Google Keeps Tweaking Its Search Engine (NY Times Online)

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Sunday, 03 June 2007 09:08:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 31 May 2007

As I mentioned recently, I went to a sleep study center a couple weeks ago and stayed overnight, where I learned I have an apnea problem. A couple days ago I returned to the sleep center to spend another night, this time with a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine and a mask. It was in interesting night.

A little pill helped me fall asleep that night, but throughout the night I woke up from the weirdness of the mask on my face. Sometime in the middle of the night I had a pretty bad "mouth leak," meaning my mouth was opening so the air pressure from the machine and mask over my nose was flowing right out my mouth. So the technician came in and put a chin strap contraption on me, which was a bit too much - I have to say I felt like I was in a head cage or something.

But it did work - Even with the interruptions, I felt noticeably more refreshed than ever the next day as I drove to work and went about my daily work routine. I also had some super-crazy dreams on that first night with a CPAP machine at the sleep center, ones which I actually remembered. And that pretty much never happens to me these days. My doc told me my REM sleep (deep sleep where you dream) was pretty much too broken up to be of any good to me based on the number of apnea episodes I was having, so he was not surprised at the dreams, or the intensity/craziness. He said there's a theory of REM rebound, where a person who has had badly fragmented sleep suddenly is able to enter extended REM sleep, so the brain has a lot of clutter to clean up and the dreams can be intense or active.

I was sent home with a CPAP machine (actually it's a BIPAP machine that has a humidifier - more on that later) and a couple different masks to use. One of them is very small and fits under the nose, and the other one is more of a traditional full-face mask. I tried the nasal pillow model last night with limited success (it made the lower bridge of my nose pretty sore by morning), so tonight I am trying the mask that covers both the nose and mouth in hopes it will provide better results since I am told I am a "mouth breather." It turns out there are a lot of masks out there, with new ones coming out all the time, so it's a matter of trying them til you find the one that works best for you. Most take some getting used to, they say.

At some point here I'll get all geeky and write about the hardware and what it does (the BiPAP machine is computerized and has a smart card like thing that I can pull out and take to the doc so he can see how well I am doing on the machine - pretty cool). I'm lucky to have really good health care insurance that recognizes the preventative value of this stuff and covers the significant majority of the equipment cost

Any CPAP tricks out there that people know of? How long did it take people to adjust, I wonder?

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Thursday, 31 May 2007 22:25:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Scott Hanselman posted a great list of items to look at and check into when you're using virtual machines with Virtual PC (or server) and need to ensure good performance. It's not automagical to have things work at best performance, so getting educated and knowing what to do and when is important.

His list is here:

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Tuesday, 29 May 2007 12:44:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 28 May 2007

I'll be heading for TechEd next week in Orlando, Florida.

Richard Campbell and I will be recording some RunAs Radio interviews on the Virtual TechEd stage, and I am looking forward to catching up a bit in terms of the latest and greatest IT technology. The past several months of my work (and life) have been pretty much consumed with the acquisition of the company I work for, so I am looking forward to the chance to focus my mind back on the rest of the technology world for a change.

Anyone else planning to be there? Let me know!

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Monday, 28 May 2007 08:11:27 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Sunday, 20 May 2007

RunAs Radio Show Number Six is now online. I'm a few days late in posting this, but Wes Miller (who worked in the past at Winternals and Microsoft) sat down with Richard and me to talk about the future, benefits and issues around 64-bit Windows in the Server and Vista flavors.

RunAs Radio Show #6 | 5/16/2007 (34 minutes)
Wes Miller on our 64-bit Future

In late 2004, Wes left Microsoft to work for Winternals Software (which was then acquired by Microsoft in 2006), in Austin, Texas, where he currently resides. Wes currently works at Pluck ( in Austin as a Development Manager. His area of Windows focus is generally enterprise deployment, lifecycle management and security.

Links: RunAs Radio web site and RSS feed

We welcome your input and ideas - Just email and let us know what's on your mind! We might even read your email on the air, and we are always interested to know what you would like to hear about as we book our guests.

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Sunday, 20 May 2007 09:27:13 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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I was having dinner the other night with a bunch of people from work, including Scott Hanselman. As is overly-typical during an American dinner "out" in the early 2000's, the subject of TiVo and other PVRs came up. As time has gone on over the past few years, it's become more and more difficult (especially as other PVRs have also become commonplace) to be on the side of the conversation where you're in the small group of people who don't have a PVR already. I got my first TiVo when they first came out. I hacked it and turned it into a 240GB powerhouse. I was an early adopter, but apparently I am not exactly a power user.

Scott (this story is really about him) did the thing Alpha Geeks do at dinner when someone mentioned they don't have TiVo. He said:

 "WHAT?!?! Are you kidding??"

Seems life cannot be lived with out it, hehe...

Then he showed his true Alphaness when he said:

"Sometimes I put on closed captioning and I watch it double speed."

Doing this, he explained, allows him to get a lot more TV watching done than simply watching it in real-time-shifted-time (or is it real-shifted-time?). And he continued the thought:

"If you put in a DVD you can watch it 4x. I watched Oldboy like that," he said. "And if someone got their head cut off you could just go back and watch It in real time." Yeah, or slow motion I guess.

"Huh?" I asked him. "Old wha?"

"Oldboy," he repeated. "It's like the Korean Pulp Fiction."

Leave it up to Scott to come up with this. Personally, I tend to like the music and the dialog and taking the time to enjoy the whole movie package. Dunno about Oldboy since I have not seen it, but now I will have to - I guess I'll find out if it's better in 4x...

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Sunday, 20 May 2007 08:08:58 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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