I guess this Biweekly links edition is going to be a bumper one like this week’s Microsoft updates 😉
Google made lot of splash this week.
Google set blogosphere on fire with announcing Google Buzz. The official link is here. For those using Google reader, more information is here . Since GMail was the primary means of delivering Buzz, GMail specific news is here . At last, Google has become more serious about Social search . They have also acquired the excellent Social Search Engine site Aardvark . I had used Aardvark and found it to be very good. The underlying AI algorithms seems to be doing a fine job.
Not many people were impressed (including me !) . Its cool but looks so limited to me. I felt they could have customized the incredibly more powerful Google Wave for this purpose that developing a new tool. Even then somehow all this looks very cramped. Its ties to GMail may be its biggest strength and weakness. Lets see how it goes. John Battelle’s take on Google Buzz . Microsoft and Yahoo have slammed Buzz , though not without justification.
Another big criticism was that Buzz is exposing your social circle without providing any control to customize it. A very passionate (angry ?) CNET article is here. LifeHacker had a post on how to prevent it . To Google’s credit, they had made changes to Google Buzz so that such customizations are very easy and quite intuitive. The post on it is here.
Google’s Experimental Fiber Network
In the other big news, Google announced that they will be operating a new fiber network with speeds around 1Gbps. Looks like they were not content with a 2X speedup with SPDY ;) Awesome ! Btw, US’s national bandwidth plan’s target ? 5 Mbps 😉 Way to go Google ! It will be very expensive to expand the network for everyone, but it should allow Google to make lot of experiments.
The other important news , but one that did not get much attention, is Youtube bringing in a Safety mode. Youtube currently has some options to filter results, but this new move represents a more comprehensive change. This is just not for pornography (which will removed soon if it exists anyway) and violence. From the many posts that talk about it, the changes seem to be very comprehensive. (For eg replacing objectionable words in comment by asterisks) . I am not sure how they will decide if a video is objectionable. Using some CV algorithms or a collaborative filtering from comments ? We shall know that in some time.
2. Sitemap pings for instant search updates
This is one of the coolest changes made in recent times in WordPress. Whenever a post is written , WordPress sends a Ping to major search engines who can index the new post immediately. I experienced this awesome feature after writing my post on Matlab . Within 2 hours, my page was in Google’s search results and I got couple of hits from it. I think that is kind of incredible as the underlying system is really complicated. From getting a ping to crawling to creating inverted indices , updating top-k lists , there is too much work. It was amazing that Google had done it within 2 hours. Yahoo and Bing ? You guess the result 🙂
3. Why Do Some Brands Hide Their Prices on Amazon?
An interesting discussion about why some brands hide their prices and what they hope to gain from it. I don’t agree with the post’s conclusion that symmetric equilibrium for search with positive costs is setting price at monopoly price . But I have to agree it makes some sense too.
There was another interesting post titled “Put All Your Eggs In One Basket” where he starts by saying "Job market interviewing entails a massive duplication of effort." and discusses alternate solutions.
4. STOC 2010 Accepted Papers (with pdf files)
In Academia, the biggest news of last week is the list of accepted papers in STOC. Shiva Kintali’s post gives the list of STOC posts with a link to pdfs. There are some ones in AGT and machine learning. I should check them out. The list of AGT papers are given at Nisan’s blog post .
5. Will ARPA-E Receive Funding?
ARPA-E is a highly acclaimed initative to promote revolutionary results in energy. But looks like it may not receive as much money as it needs. That is more bad news that it sounds like.
6. Amazon S3 now supports Object Versioning
Another cool new feature where you can have versioning in S3. This affects the behavior of GET and DELETE. But the pricing applies to each individual versions though.
7. Network Coding
An very interesting two part article from MIT Research on Network Coding – part 1 and part 2 . I don’t fully understand how it works when you apply it at the internet scale but looks like a fascinating idea.
8. Feds push for tracking cell phones
CNET post on currently undergoing trial about allowing Cell phone tracking.
9. Do-It-Yourself Genetic Engineering
A fascinating magazine article on Synthetic Biology . I felt the article was really long and without much meat but still a good read. I really liked the part where UC Berkeley people programmed a Robot to do DNA sequences. Talk of the impact of bringing in fast moving CS people into slow moving biology field 😉