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Geeking with Greg

  • Not working at Google
    It was a surprise, to me at least, that I wasn't able to find a good fit at Google Seattle.

    Google nowadays is different than I expected, and, after four months of trying hard to find any way to make it what I wanted, I resigned.

    I'm saddened and disappointed. On the bright side, I did get a chance to work with many remarkable people, which I think made it worthwhile.

  • Working at Google
    I joined Google a few months ago. I've wanted to work at Google for a long time. I first interviewed there back in 2003!

    I've written on this blog since 2004, during Findory and beyond, but, like many blogs, posts have slowed in recent years. Unfortunately, I don't expect to be able to post much here in the coming months either.

    Thanks for reading all these years. I hope you enjoyed this blog, and I hope to be able to post frequently again at some point in the future.

  • Quick links
    Some of the best of what I've been thinking about lately:
    • Amazon now has 109 warehouses and 165k employees. Wow. ([1])

    • Amazon cloud computing has 17% operating margins, surprisingly high given all the competition ([1] [2])

    • Microsoft appears to be claiming they're going to be bigger than Amazon AWS in three years ([1])

    • But Amazon's Andy Jassy says, "One of the biggest surprises around this business has been how long it took the old guard companies to try and pursue an offering. None of us thought we would get a seven-year head start.” ([1])

    • Apple is the iPhone ([1])

    • Great article on the history of YouTube: "It's easy to forget YouTube almost didn't make it" ([1])

    • Mobile ads still aren't targeted (unlike Web ads) ([1] [2])

    • Browsers are disabling Java and Silverlight by default, and Flash's days might be numbered ([1])

    • Surprising how few people use their mobile to get directions, look up public transit, or request a taxi ([1])

    • A major predictor of how much people like a picture of a face is how sharp and clear the eyes are in the photo ([1])

    • Successful tests of a bullet-sized guided missile, cool but very scary ([1] [2])

    • "If an election was hacked any time in the past, we will never know" ([1])

    • "Maybe this head-up display for your life starts as a head-up display for your car" ([1])

    • Beginning of the end for radio: "Norway the first country in the world to 'decide upon an analogue switch-off for all major radio channels'" ([1])

    • A new trend in biology, collecting large amounts of data and doing A/B testing ([1] [2])

  • Interview on early Amazon personalization and recommendations in late 1996 in mid-1997
    I have a long interview with the Internet History Podcast mostly about Amazon around 1997, especially the personalization, recommendation engine, and data-driven innovations at Amazon, and the motivation behind them.

    I think the interview a lot of fun. It gives a view of what Amazon was like way back when it was just a bookstore only in the US, had just one webserver, and we barely could keep the website up with all the growth.

    Lots of history of the early days of the web, well before CSS and Javascript, before cookies were even widely supported, and before scale out, experimentation and A/B testing, and large scale log analysis were commonplace.

    Give the podcast a listen if you are interested in what the Web looked like back in 1997 and the motivation behind Amazon's personalization and recommendations.

  • Quick links
    What I've been thinking about lately:
    • "The chip is so low power that it can be powered off energy capture from the body ... 35 microamps of power per megahertz of processing ... and less than 200 nanoamps ... in deep sleep mode" ([1])

    • "Forgetting may be nearly as important as remembering in humans" ([1])

    • Only 40% of people use maps on their smartphone ([1] [2])

    • OkCupid and Dataclysm: "In the age of Big Data, the empirical has deciphered the intimate" ([1])

    • Cross functional teams might seem slower when you're in them, but, long-term, are more productive ([1])

    • Very good article on mostly evil uses of personalization ([1] [2])

    • "Fake accounts are given a veneer of humanity by copying profile information and photos from elsewhere ... [and] a picture of a beautiful woman" ([1])

    • "Because almost no one patches their BIOSes, almost every BIOS in the wild is affected by at least one vulnerability" ([1])

    • Cracking by forcing non-random memory errors, just about all RAM chips currently used are vulnerable ([1] [2] [3])

    • Computer security "backdoors will always turn around and bite you in the ass. They are never worth it." ([1] [2])

    • "Facts can only do so much. To avoid coming to undesirable conclusions, people can fly from the facts and use other tools in their deep belief protecting toolbox" ([1])

    • Why TV is losing viewers, the ads are annoying: "Decline caused by a migration of viewers from ad-supported platforms to non-ad-supported, or less-ad-supported platforms" ([1])

    • "The same dysfunctional folie a deux playing out between credulous tech media and even more credulous VC investors" ([1])

    • Does the difficulty of building intelligent systems grow exponentially as we make progress? That question has big implications for whether we should expect (or fear) an AI singularity. ([1])

    • Very fun version of Family Feud using Google search suggestions ([1] [2])

    • Do you know what you don't know? Try this confidence calibration quiz. ([1])

    • Love this quote: "I have thrown away a number of successful careers out of boredom" ([1])

    • Humor related to recommendation systems: "An exciting new system that takes all the bother, all the deciding, all the paying—all the shopping—out of shopping." ([1])

    • Two SMBC comics related to AI ([1] [2])

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