Monthly Archives: May 2007

Google Street View Easter Egg!

Google just released a new feature in Google Maps that lets you see a 3d view of streets in a few select locations. One of these locations is in Silicon Valley, so I figured I’d check out Google Headquarters (it’s a lot easier than stalking them in person). I remembered from my visit that the Googleplex was on Ampitheatre Parkway, so I just went there and looked at the street view.

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While circling the Googleplex (in a non-threatening manner), I found an easter egg! There’s a bunch of googlers in green shirts, with one riding a motorcycle! Neat! I’m guessing they were on the team that did the mapping or had something to do with the street level feature.

By the way, the street level views are freaking sweet!!! There’s incredible detail (you can zoom in) and every few feet there’s a 3d panorama to view. Incredible. If they could get this for every city, I really think sightseeing in person would become obsolete.

PS, I still want to work at Google very, very badly.

WSJ Article About Social Computing + Me!

A few weeks ago, a guy by the name of Andrew LaVallee from the WSJ emailed me to see if I could answer some questions about social computing. I guess he found my blog, either my personal one or the grad school one, and noticed that I was going to be in the University of Michigan SI program.

I answered his questions, and tried to do so without sounding uninformed. I was seriously worried that I’d betray my intelligence and say something stupid, which would be republished and used against me for the rest of my life. Today, the article was published, and luckily, I don’t really sound like a moron, per se.

I figured he might mention my name and quote me or something, but he actually gave my background and stuff too! Pretty neat! Maybe I qualify as being famous now? Anyway, the article isn’t only about me (duh). It describes the increase the interest levels that schools are having in social computing programs. I was actually thinking of applying to RIT, one of the schools mentioned in the article.

I was quoted as saying that social computing was more into real life applications with computer science being more ambiguous. I just checked, and indeed, I did write that! But I later elaborated, saying that the SI was more of a depth program while CS is very breadth oriented, at least at the undergrad level. I think that better captures my feelings on the differences of the programs.

Computer science is a really great subject to get a foundation in working with computers: programming and algorithms. Once I got that degree, I felt like I wanted to do something more specific and less abstract. Now that I think of it, I really meant “abstract” when I wrote “ambiguous.” Oops!

Either way, I think the article is way cool, so be sure to check it out!

Back From Michigan Trip!

I just got back from the trip to Michigan. I fit quite a lot into the trip, visiting a lot of landmarks and whatnot.

My sister’s friend Juli was nice enough to pick me up from the airport and show me around the town the first day I was there. After that, I met up with Adam, another SI grad student who I met at visiting days. So me, Adam, and Adam’s wife sorta just wandered around for a few days.

Let’s see… I went to Pinball Pete’s and played some kind of light gun game in Japanese starring a bunch of cats shooting at ghosts… or something like that. It was really easy, which means it’s probably a kid’s game. I beat all of the levels and then it gave me a game over thing.

I walked around campus a lot. Saw stuff like the fish bowl and the cube, and other random stuff I didn’t see during visiting days. I also got my MCard, which is just the university student id card. I wore my red Google shirt, then realized I wore Ohio State colors!!! NOOOO! I might need to get them to replace it with me wearing a yellow shirt or something.

I went to the Hatcher Graduate Library to finish up all of the paperwork for my job with the university. Glad that’s over with. I had to sign something and get it “notorized.” Luckily, one of the people in the administrative offices is a notary public, so I just had her “witness” me sign the paper.

Of course, I also went to look at apartments. There were some pretty crappy ones and some nice ones. There was one that was super nice in the middle of Kerrytown right above a Smoothie King! But there wasn’t any parking nearby. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be going with the Nob Hill apartments, since they seem decent and they’re only about a mile away from campus. So they’re sort of a good compromise between price, distance, and quality.

One of the realty companies I went to look at apartments with, Varsity Management, seemed kind of creepy. Like we just went to apartments that still had people living in them, then we knocked on the door to see if they were home. And they weren’t so we just went in. I felt like I was in some kind of cop show or something. Like I was scared there’d be bodies or dead hookers, etc. Apparently it’s part of the lease agreement, but that seems like a pretty crappy lease agreement.

There’s an Ikea in Canton, which is like 20 minutes or so from Ann Arbor. We went twice. That’s how much I like Ikea. The second time we went, I even bought a few random office organization thingys. I’m probably going to Ikea again next week when I go visit my brother in California… and buy more random stuff.

We also hit some pretty cool restaurants. Like umm… well, the only one I can remember is Champion House, where they do that Japanese cooking thing in front of you. It was pretty neat. Way expensive, though. But tasty. I suspect that our cook was Chinese, though, and not Japanese. Which is cool either way.

And I guess that’s it. Overall, it was a pretty fun trip, though somewhat stressful due to the quality (or lack thereof) of apartments. I guess I should’ve prepared for crapiness, but still, seeing it in person is quite harsh.

Michigan Trip!

I’m flyin’ to Michigan tomorrow morning to check out apartments. And, of course, these apartments were found using MapsKrieg. Hopefully I can find one that doesn’t have too slummy a slumlord. Or better yet, not a slumlord!

I might check out other random attractions too, like Pinball Pete’s, which is apparently a huge ass arcade!

Luckily I’ll have something to do on the plane, since I just bought Pokemon Pearl yesterday. And if my batteries run out, I can practice showing people where Ann Arbor is in Michigan by pointing to my hand! I gotta get that down ASAP.

Orb + EVDO = Awesome!

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I had heard about this Orb thing a while ago. It’s this program you install that acts as a sort of proxy where you can get your computer to convert and stream on demand any media that’s sitting on it. I originally had no interest in it, since when I’m away from home, I have my laptop which can provide me with videos and audio and whatnot.

Just recently, I got a Motorola Q and I’ve been trying to figure out what new cool things I can do with it since it’s a smartphone. Revisiting Orb, the possibilities look promising.

I just installed Orb on my computer. Basically, Orb connects with a central server. From a website, you can log in and “request” the media that’s sitting on your home computer. When you “request” something, the local program will start encoding the media at a decent bitrate and stream it to you over the web. It’s pretty cool, actually.

When I used my phone to try and grab stuff, videos were a bit low (my phone only gets like 78kbs in Albuquerque), but audio was ok. When I move to Ann Arbor, the bitrate should improve by a lot, since there’s EVDO coverage there. When I plugged my phone into the computer and used the local connection, the videos were surprisingly high quality. It was really cool watching a video on my phone like that.

I probably won’t use it much while I’m here, but once I get to Ann Arbor I’d like to test the feasibility of watching tv shows on my phone from anywhere.

There is an issue of privacy since you allow the Orb software to index all of the files on your computer and list them online (it’s password protected). The privacy terms seem okay though. I’d prefer a totally direct method of connection though, instead of relying on Orb to keep my privacy. Not that I’m doing anything illegal. It’s the principal of the thing.