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29 February 2008

Google Is Still #1

I had wondered of we all use Google because it is objectively better or because we are used to it being better all this time. Maybe Yahoo and MSN had improved since we decided to switch to Google?

Here, try this search on MetaCrawler. Only Google finds this page. Google has the benefit that it owns Blogger and can possibly get easier access to its database, but still that hardly justifies as an excuse for the other search engines - the post being searched is over a month old!

Blackout Restaurant & Dialog in the Dark

I encourage you to read Eli's review of the new Blackout restaurant in old Jaffa (יפו) - it's a restaurant with absolutely no light - it's absolutely dark and you can't see anything, similar to Dialog in the Dark in Holon's Children Museum. I didn't visit Blackout (at 140 NIS per person it's quite expensive for my taste), but it sounds like a cool experience. The tour in Dialog in the Dark also contains a "restaurant" with only drinks and snacks, but it was still a great experience. You pay with coins and are amazed how the blind bartender figures out how much you've payed.

27 February 2008

Music Sales

As a new music creator surfaces, his few fans just buy his records. Then, at some point, someone puts it on some file-sharing network and only people that actually believe in paying for music do.

My New Job

Now that the formalities are over, like Tomer and Shlomo, I can now announce I'll be joining Delver (A.K.A Semingo) on April 1st. Delver is a startup building a social search engine, that will allow you to find information based on your social network.

Starting April I will be in Herzliya daily, and will move back to the center around May.

If you're interested, you can about us at Techchrunch, register for the private beta or watch our CEO Liad previews Delver at a demo conference.

Oo, and for some reason this next image, which is the first Google Images result for "delver" was blocked by SafeSearch (Google's adult images filtering), and only showed up when I disabled it. Weird.

Fix broken link to Delver, thanks Sagie.

26 February 2008

How Prometheus Died

From Wikipedia

Benardete’s paradox

While not strictly a supertask, this idea has inspired many papers about supertasks. A man called Prometheus angers Zeus, so Zeus gathers an infinite number of demons and issues them with the following commands. Demon 1: if Prometheus is not dead in one hour kill him, Demon 2: if Prometheus is not dead in half an hour kill him, Demon 3: if Prometheus is not dead in quarter of an hour kill him, and so on. As it turns out Prometheus was dead within the hour (as he didn’t really have much chance). The council of gods was not happy about this and pressed Zeus on the point. But none of his demons could be found guilty, as, for each positive integer n, it was not possible for the nth demon to have killed Prometheus because the (n + 1) th demon should already have done so. Similar paradoxes involving a man trying to walk a mile from A to B but the demons building a wall in front of him if he reaches 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, … of a mile past A, so he hits some sort of invisible barrier when he reaches A even though no wall has been built.

25 February 2008

Bunch Of Links

What makes Google the best, according to Google.

How IBM is filing for a silly patent.

How to make your plants call you or update their Twitter status when they need water.

And finally:

Coconuts are so far down to the left they couldn't be fit on the chart. Ever spent half an hour trying to open a coconut with a rock?  Fuck coconuts.

24 February 2008

Stories Website

I tend to write short stories from time to time, when I get the muse.
I opened a short page that I will use to host some of those stories.
Here is the first one, Reading Dracula.

BTW, you can use Google Page Creator for creating & hosting short webpages like this one and even hosting files up to 100mb.

23 February 2008

Politically Correct Office

This is new to me - it appears that in addition to the usual spell-checking and sentence structure checks Word 2007 does, it also includes a political correctness checker. Check this out:

A Buffer Overflow for TAs

20 February 2008

Faulty Reverse Turing Test

I got this PDF attachment from Technion, and opening it directly took too long for some reason (Gmail is terribly slow for me lately), so I tried Gmail's "View as HTML". Apparently, it thinks I'm a bot:

19 February 2008

Grid is a Superb Game

At least that's how I feel after I played a single time at it.

It's a combination of 16 more and less familiar games, which are time-slotted - just try it. Most games are very easy, but the rapid changing of games makes it challenging. Another bit of coolness is that it analyzes your different game skills:

What do LaTeX, Magical Staves and the Simpsons have in common?

I'm using LaTeX a lot to write my thesis. Today, when searching for something in the complete manual (PDF), I came across this:

17 February 2008

Firefox Saved Passwords

For those who don't know or forgot this, Shlomo posted how in 3 easy steps you can view all stored usernames & passwords on Firefox.

Not that scary, because you should only save password on a computer you trust. But still, I would have removed that feature or at least have a master password to access it.

13 February 2008

Stupid Danish Cops

Funny as hell, "cyber crime" just stole someone's home computer on allegations of credit card theft.

Interactive RSS

Like or not, I find myself using Facebook, reading stories and rating articles "I Like" or "Dislike". I would rather read this feed in my RSS feed then log into FB constantly, but then I lose the ability to rate stories.

How about a supplement to the RSS standard which would allow a user to vote on/rate articles, tag them (not just locally in his feedreader), and generally send information back to the RSS info supplier? I'm guessing this might benefit both content supplier and user. In said Facebook example, today if I have a smart enough RSS reader maybe I can rate articles, but this rating is separate from Facebook's internal rating system.

Occupied Territories

I usually don't care about many small arachnids in superfamily Ixodoidea, but this comics, based on a true story, is incredible (thanks Yoav):

12 February 2008

What You Need to Know to Work For Me

If you are ever interviewed by me and I happen to ask you, say, to write a function that returns the nth element in the Fibonacci Series, you had better not give me the recursive solution.

It appears that about 90% of the people asked this give this solution straight away, without asking the examiner anything about efficiency. I find this appalling.

Even if efficiency is not always the number one criteria (or even in the top 5), in this instance the recursive solution is much worse (exponential VS linear complexity) than the non-recursive solution AND is not much simpler to code. The difference is about 3 lines of code.

I expect programmers to anticipate and consider such concerns, and even if not asked specifically to give an efficient solution, in such a case they should (unless of course they ask the examiner if efficiency is a concern and get a negative answer).


There are some acceptable recursive solutions. For example, from Wikipedia:

public void run(int n)
if (n <= 0)



private void run(int n, int eax, int ebx)

if (n == 0)



I don't object to the actual recursion, just to the exponential inefficiency.

11 February 2008

Fake Sites

Lately I see many sites using common misspelling with similar site design to attract users. Today was the first time I was attacked by one such site.

I was searching my own blog on the net to understand who if at all links to it, and got
this dangerous and misleading site. I saw a supposed link to my blog that looked like this (don't follow this one):

Clicking it I got a Firefox warning asking if I want to run this ".com" application. Evil bastards.

Science Vs Faith

Not faith in God, which cannot actually be refuted by "contradicting evidence". Rather, faith in some religion and stories, some of which contradict known scientific facts (= theories proven beyond reasonable doubt), like Evolution.

My First Unfamiliar Reader!

Woo Hoo!

I just got the first confirmed reader of my blog which is not someone I know - Mord Shtern (he receives a link to his blog as a modest reward).

I took this chance to look at some Feedburner stats, and there seems to be a jump in reader count since last month.

This might have something to do with the fact that Yoav shared many of my recent posts as interesting in his blog and/or the fact that Zeirman mentioned me and my post about real time strategy games.

Thanks guys :)

If you survived this self-absorbed post you get something in return:

08 February 2008

The Best Incredible Machine Ever


You haven't seen anything like it, though I would bet it wasn't filmed in a single take.

The chess plays are ingenious.

Too Long, But the End is Amusing


Some Comics I Like

  • xkcd - For geeks only! Funny and smart

  • Penny Arcades - For gamers only. I don't understand over half of it, but the parts that I do are good.

  • PHD comics - For master students and above only? Not very amusing so far. Perhaps I shall stop once I'm no longer a student. BTW, the current one nicely describes what I'm doing yesterday and today, though I'm more light headed than him. Grading papers can be very funny sometimes (one error a student wrote from a "Spot The Bug" - "This function name is too long")

  • Basic Instruction - So far I've seen only the parts Yoav's filtering out for me, which are all excellent.

07 February 2008

Something I Wrote Once

Words are bullshit. Words are bullshit because they make us think we know the answer. When we say them, we think we know what we feel because we put it into words. When I write them (I'm writing some right now), it makes me feel I can articulate myself, express how I feel. But I can't. The image presented by words is always a fake one, even when the words are best-intended.

This is Zen, as much as I understand Zen.

And yet, words are all we have


A possibly relevant quote from Albert Camus I just found by accident.

"Do not be surprised. I do not like writers and I cannot stand their lies. They speak so as not to listen to themselves speak. If they did listen, they would know that they are nothing and then they would no longer be able to speak."

06 February 2008

An Idea for a Startup :)

Credits to Eran and Aya.

05 February 2008

2008 Turing Awards

Just thought to tell everyone that the 2008 Turing Award will be given to two guys that invented Model Checking, that has a very loose connection to my own master thesis. How loose? Both relate to Temporal Logic, that's it.

04 February 2008

Google SMS

Not functioning yet in Israel (at least on my cell phone), but looks cool.

03 February 2008

Sex, Cars & Mp3s

Passing the time I entered this search query into Google Trends. I compared the number of times people search for Sex & Mp3s, and I got these weird peaks at the end of every year. I thought it might be some glitch, and tried adding Cars to the comparison, but the Car search graph didn't show this phenomenon.

Guesses, anyone?

01 February 2008

A Very Exciting Snowboard Trip

Finally got some free time to blog about this snowboard trip. This was the most interesting one yet, to say the least.

First some links, then the story.

We spent the first night in a motel in Geneva. In the middle of the night, unexpected, this korean guy pops into our room, grabs a bed and starts sleeping.

The next day, we get to the ski resort Les Menuires, a part of the 3 vallies ski area. We deposit our bags and go straight to off-piste, getting stuck in the area of this small river crossing, forcing us to walk a bit to return home.

After every day of surfing, we had to cook our own food, because, well, that was the deal. My sister joined us at this point, getting herself a very cheap flight from Irsael and staying as a 5th person in our 4 bed room (which had a spare bunk, luckily).

We continued with some more clean snow (not powder yet, but still rather fresh) and clean skies.
This is when Jonathan and me took the time to photo a few successful jump pictures:

And a rather unsucessfull one:

Unfortunately, nobody remember to bring a bottle opener

But we managed to make a toast anyways

The next day, Jonathan spairned his ankle, and we hurried to the doctor. Luckily, he didn't get a cast, only an air-cast, which didn't prevent him from skiing.

Around the fourth day of skiing we got a day of fresh snow fall, making the rest of the week filled with fresh and deep powder

It was in this off-piste that we found some ice stalactites.

Pisnoy and I left Jonathan at the apartment and went to a short off-piste of our own. Little did we know...
We enjoyed the powder for almost an hour out of the trails and we noticed the time was getting late. We encountered a group of skiers with an instructor that passed us by, so figured we're ok, and we'll get back to Les Menuiers or some other town soon enough. We were wrong. We traveled a number of kilometers by foot, and the sky was getting dark. Eventually we decided to stop at a village, only to find it totally abandoned.

We broke down two doors

Only to find they led to a garage

Of course we had no cellular reception, so we had no way to let everybody know we're ok. Search parties were dispatched, but to no use. We spent the night shivering, woke up, and managed to get out on our own, with a ride from our friends once we reached the road and got cellular reception back again.

There was questioning at the local police station where the French cops yelled at us (in French), but our interpreter (some guy from the insurance company) translated calmly and we were back skiing the next day. That's when Jonathan decided to ignore the warning signs on some off-piste and go right ahead.

Of course he couldn't complete the descent, neither could he climb back up. He was stranded there and we called for Aerial Rescue. Instead, we got a team of two rescuers on skis.

Which took Jonathan down with ropes.

At the end of the week we enjoyed a night at the spa, got some Pizza

, slept on the airport floor for a few hours

and headed on home, with me making great progress on the latest George Martin.