Saturday, June 30, 2007

Interactive 360º Light Field Display

As humans we naturally see in 3D. However, most people have only ever seen visual playback on a 2D television. Most have come to accept it. Recently though, there have been advances in 3D film.

Getting to the point, today I came across this new 3D display being developed. I urge you to at least look at the images in the paper as it is really fascinating, and if you have the bandwidth the video shows off the technology very well. It is basically works by spinning a mirror and shining light onto it to produce a 3D image viewable from all angles. Since the mirror spins at a high speed, it creates the illusion of a 3D object.

As you move around the image, so you get a different view. This allows for "view-independent effects such as occlusion." It recreates the object in real 3D space, so there's no need for any special glasses such as IMAX 3D. It also allows for a number of people to gather around the display and watch from different angles. The rendering is so efficient that they can display fully interactive scenes.

If you're interested, there is plenty more to read up about it in the paper. It goes into a fair amount of detail on how the display functions and the rendering behind it.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Google Dictionary

I'm truly in new Google feature discovery mode today. I promise this is my last one for now though.

This last tool is kind of special to me. This is because my manager is the lead developer and I spent a little time working on a part of it, although my part has yet to be launched. The tool is fairly simple, but it could prove very useful to some people. It's called Google Dictionary!

The name practically explains the product. You give it a word, a language to translate from and another to translate to. It then translates the word, given multiple translations if necessary as any dictionary would do. It also gives you a few related phases. The best way to see its capabilities is to try it out. As an example, click here for the translation of "hello" into Spanish.

Again, I don't want to give away anything more as I know more about the product than public knowledge. So I will cut this short.

Google Talk Gadget

The most wanted feature of Google Talk was conferencing functionality. Yes, was! A new implementation of the Google Talk client written in flash now allows for group chats.

It's quite a nifty tool as it allows you to use Google Talk almost as though you had the desktop client, but all from the browser. And it also has one of the features I've come to love of Pidgin - tabbed chats. Apart from a few bugs and it slowing my Core 2 Duo down quite a bit when there's lots of activity, it's very useful. To use it go to the Google Talk site and click the big, blue "Launch Google Talk" button.

One of the things that excites me about this is that it's one of the big things I heard of in advance while at Google in January. For fear of talking too much I shall terminate this post now and keep it short.

Google Face Search

Did you know that Google now offers a face search? If you go to Google Image Search and select advanced search, you should notice an option for "any content", "news content" or "faces". News content returns only images related to news articles. However, the "faces" choice is what I'm interested in here.

It is best demonstrated by example. Compare this normal image search and this face search. You'll notice that while there are a few faces in the normal search, there are also many other images, whereas the face search only contains faces. I flicked through several pages and have yet to find a false positive. It falls on the safe side with lots of faces discarded, however I agree with this strategy for early adoption. It is not good at finding small faces, especially if there are many in the picture.

The earliest post I could trace back to was this one.

Programming Contests

One of my biggest interests is programming contests. The number these days is ever increasing and more importantly, so is the diversity. In this post I aim to identify and discuss some of the major contests and pick out the parts I enjoy most.

The first international contest I competed in (in 2004) was the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI). While it is only for high school students, it has a very different structure to any other contest. It is an individual contest consisting of two rounds of three problems with five hours per round. Part marks are assigned based on correctness and efficiency and marks are only returned at the end of each round. I like the split over two rounds, which allows for one to have a bad day and come back on the other day. I also like the way it squeezes you on efficiency, which often contests with a single yes/no response cannot afford. The South African team is picked from the medalists of the South African Computer Olympiad (SACO).

By far the most prestigious contest is the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC), for which I competed in the 2004 and 2005 regionals and the 2005 and 2006 world finals. As the name suggests it is only open to university students. Teams of three compete against one another by solving as many of the ten problems in five hours, with a single PC per team. I like the teamwork that is forced upon teams with only one PC, which also requires very good planning/management skills. The problems are usually of the best quality and the types of problems vary, which allows for teams with mixed skills such as including mathematicians in the team. In this and many other contests, you get the result of a submission back immediately. I must say I am a little against this as it makes teams submit without testing much at all. You also get no part marks which results in very close results, often split by time penalties.

The Internet Problem Solving Contest (IPSC) is similar in structure to the ACM ICPC. The crucial difference is that it is an online event without any specific locations. The contest is open to anyone and everyone and not restricted to students. It also allows for any programming languages and hardware/software resources. These differences all allow for a much larger number of contestants. There are generally about 12 problems to solve in the five hours, each with an easy (1 point) and difficult (2 points) level. Teams of three are competing against one another. The problems are typically far more mathematically inclined than the ICPC, although the problems vary rather drastically between years. This year they even included a simple image processing problem. I really enjoy the problems in this contest and that is the major factor towards this being my second favourite contest.

Another contest which many compete in is the TopCoder. They run contests about once a week - online, as with the IPSC. I must confess that I dislike the format so much that I have only ever competed twice. The short duration of three problems in about 75 minutes really kills it for me. I don't like solving problems so quickly. I like having to think about them. That's why you'll see as you read on that I have a preference for the marathon-style contests. All the top competitors define their own macros to squeeze out an extra few minutes. I'm sorry, but as much as it might prove fun to some people, I just cannot pull myself take part in it again. The Google Code Jam follows a very similar structure and runs on the TopCoder platform.

In South Africa we have a national contest which started in 2005 called the Standard Bank IT Challenge. This is another one I dislike, but for different reasons. However, it has some interesting new ideas. The first round (heats) are four hours with five problems. However, two of the problems are related and you only receive the second part after solving the first part. This adds an interesting dynamic in that you have to be cautious not to leave the problem with two parts too late, although it's typically one of the more difficult problems which makes things very interesting. You are also in teams of four for this one, which adds more to the team aspect. The finals consist of six problems with six hours to solve them in. This time there are two problems with two parts. One of those is very different to all the others as it's an interactive problem. In the three years the contest has run the interactive problem has been the most interesting: foxes and hounds, maze game and suicide chess. The other problems are all mostly simulating some process, with very picky and vague problem descriptions. It's the problems and the poor judging that kills the contest for me. The only reason I compete is that it's a national contest and the prizes are very nice.

My favourite contest to date is the ICFP Programming Contest. It's a 72 hour marathon contest with almost no limits whatsoever. Anyone can participate, teams can be of any size and can even be spread across the world (as will our team be this year). There are no restrictions on programming languages, software or hardware used. There are in fact no restrictions I can think of other than the 72 hours you are given and that they asked us nicely last year not to reverse engineer the platform provided. I competed for the first time last year with a team of seven students. The 72 hour time frame is just perfect I think as it's long enough that you can concentrate on the problem for the full time without getting the feeling you're giving your life up to the contest like with semester-long contests. I also really enjoy having no limit on team size as it allows you to get some people coming in to help on parts they're experts at and then go back to their normal lives while the contest continues. This makes it reasonable to get people not willing to give up much of their time. You can also very easily get advice from people, which takes up very little of their time. Even if the person is not in the country, you can still contact them.

Just last week while in Zurich I was told about the Extreme Challenge. This is another marathon contest, but 24 hours this time. The teams are restricted to three and you aren't allowed access to any external resources, including the Internet. The finals are held in Budapest, Hungary. You are given a single power cord and a desk and you bring all your own hardware - and you can bring as much of it and whatever you like! It sounds like a very interesting contest, although I still think I'd prefer the ICFP due to the lack of restrictions. The problems seem very interesting though and they are very polished, which is seldom the case. I will definitely aim to try it out next year as I like these marathon contests. Until then, I can only go on what others have told me and that is that is is an excellent contest.

For those of you who haven't heard, there are no Code Jams this year. After four of them last year, the organisers are a bit exhausted and needed a break. With this break, some of the coaches discussed the possibility at the Google ACM meeting last week of Google starting a new, very different contest. The idea spawned from the Extreme Challenge, while they though extending it to 72 hours would be more exciting. The idea behind it is that the Code Jam is so short that it doesn't necessarily identify good software engineers, but rather those who can very quickly solve small problems. With this longer contest, planning is required as well as team work, which should provide a better of software engineering skills. Details are still very rough, but the idea definitely caught their interest. I think it's a great idea! So who knows, we might just have started a new Google contest!! :)

Those are just a few contests I have competed in. If you have another favourite, I'd love to hear about it. As I said, I only recently found out about the Extreme Challenge and it sounds like one I should have heard of long ago. Also, if you have anything to add about my analysis of these contests I'd love to here them too. This is one thing I'd really like to get your feedback on.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Test of Patience

I lost my luggage on a flight from Frankfurt to Zurich on Thursday. That's four days ago. I haven't seen it since and I no-one can tell me where it is.

It all started on Thursday morning when I was woken up by the stormy weather outside. It sounded like it was really bucketing down and it concerned me as I had to make my way to the airport. Luckily after I had breakfast it reduced to a drizzle, so I was able to get in a little last minute shopping.

The fun started when I arrived at the airport. My flight was scheduled to depart at 13:35, but it was delayed till 14:25. I met a South African couple from Johannesburg and a German who spoke good English. They were telling me how they had been waiting since 07:00, since their flight was canceled due to the weather. We finally started boarding at 14:45. With rather infrequent updates on the delay, we ended up sitting in the plane until about 16:20 due to the large backlog of flights waiting to take-off. We took-off at 16:30 and landed at 17:10 - the short flight made the delay even more pathetic.

Then we get off the plane and went to collect our luggage. Hey, wait a moment, what luggage? Yes, that's right, they lost our freaking luggage!!! Twice I've been to Zurich now and both times my luggage has got lost, but nowhere else has it happened to me. Most people on the flight lost their luggage, so the Lost Luggage queue was fairly long and they were rather slow. I finally left the airport at 18:15, took the next train to the city and walked to the hotel, since by that time I had given up with the transport system. I made it with 10 minutes to spare with dinner at 19:00. As though it was all planned out!

Today, four days later, I still wait for my luggage. It was scheduled to be sent from Zurich to Johannesburg on Saturday, but when I called this morning they said it never arrived. No-one's talking to one another and they apparently can only read updates via notes posted on the system.

Google ACM Meeting

On Thursday I arrived in Zurich, where I met up with other European ACM ICPC world finalists. We were gathered there to hear what Google had to offer in terms of relations with the ACM.

Last year we had a similar event, although it was combined with the European Code Jam. This year it was just us and we were further split into two smaller groups with the Russians having had their own meeting a week before. The idea was for the word of working for Google out there and to see how Google could help out with improving the ACM with things such as sponsorship.

I was there with my team of Timothy Stranex, Migael Strydom and Tamara von Glehn. At dinner the four of us met a Googler from Mountain View working in university relations - Davidson Young. After dinner we took a walk along the lake, where the atmosphere was very different to when I was there in winter.

The following morning we woke up early for breakfast where we had further discussions. We then took a bus to the Google office. One thing we had to keep very secret while I was working for them was that they were preparing to move to a new, much bigger office. Towards the end of my internship they were turning conference rooms into office rooms it was getting so cramped. The new building has the potential to hold over 600 people. Contrast that with the approximate number of 200 when I left in February.

The new office was really cool. If you look at the photo below you'll see just one of the many reasons it's so cool. Another is that they now get sushi on Thursdays, although there's always such a rush that it runs out very quickly. They also now have dark chocolate, something there was quite a fight for while I was there. The one thing may people didn't like when they saw the old and new office is that the new one is very open planned. Today I found out that that was only an experiment and they will be building more walls to make office rooms.

After a tour of the office, we went up to the 7th floor where Nick (my recruiter) started off the presentations with some talk on Google and why we were there. Then Aaron Aarcos, one of the guys I met while working in Zurich, gave a tech talk on AdWords. I attended a much more in depth talk on it while working for them so I knew all the stuff he said.

After his talk we took a short break during which I had to try the brand new coffee machine. We then split up with the contestants having a quiz in groups which Tamara's group won - apparently they had a Wii in there group and yet they still managed to win. Us coaches got together with Nick, Aaron and a couple other Googlers mainly dealing with university relations and discussed the interactions between ACM and Google.

We discussed many things ranging from helping out at high school level to starting a new contest. The idea of a new contest came from the Code Jam being too short and the group mostly preferring marathon contests. So we might soon be seeing something along the lines of a 72 hour open-to-all contest. I've also been trying to get Google to help out with getting some of our neighbours such as Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana and the rest to join our ACM regional event. They discussed the possibility of having internships as a part of university degrees and better advertising of specific positions available at Google.

When that was done we went across to a nearby tapas restaurant where discussions continued. The team was starting to get really nervous by now as they had their interviews at 16:00. I tried getting them to mingle with the Googlers as they are the ones that did the interviewing, but I think they failed that part.

When I arrived at the office, there were two Codesearch t-shirts waiting for me. Codesearch was the project I worked on for the most part of my internship ( Unfortunately the group I was working with were in Mountain View for a conference so I didn't get to see them. Below are a couple photos of the t-shirts (front then back). We also all got a world finalists 2007 t-shirt, but that one wasn't so special so no photo here. :P

After lunch we back to the 7th floor of the office for a tech talk by Gerhard Wesp on the C++ standards and some new features they're trying to add. He uses his 20% time to work on the C++ standards and has submitted a paper on adding networking streams that would work similarly to io streams. Some of the features he discussed a move operator (like copy, but source is in a "dead" state) and concepts which are too complicated to describe briefly (search for conceptgcc). There were many other smaller things he went through that frankly should already be there. It was an excellent talk!

After the talk we had a little free time before the interviewees were taken to the old office and the rest of us back to the hotel for more free time. I played some foosball with the Egyptian coach, Mohamed Taha, and two other guys from somewhere I'm not sure of - we won of course. :) We left shortly after. When I got back to the hotel I went straight off to do a little shopping.

I met up with Migael and Tamara on the bus as it was getting ready to leave for the zoo where we were having dinner. They didn't appear very confident about the interview. When we arrived at the zoo, we first went into their man-made Madagascar rain forest in a greenhouse. I had been there before in winter, but it was much warmer now in summer. It was around 35°, but the worst was the 100% humidity. We split into two groups and each got a guide which took us on a tour around the rain forest telling us many interesting stories such as when the animals get drunk from eating this massive fermenting fruit.

I think we were all glad when we left that place and got a breath of fresh air. It was real hot inside! We went inside the zoo where tables were waiting for us. We sat down and had dinner while having more interesting discussions. With all the people there coming from all over Europe and some from America, some of them hadn't seen many animals before. So they were quite excited to not only see the animals, but also eat with them around us. Below is a photo of one of the waiters who was very anxious to find the person who asked him for tea. :P

After dinner a small group of us followed one guy who said he knew this bar. He obviously did not as he took some time to find it. When we finally found a bar, we went inside and ordered. They took forever. I don't know how they make any money. When we finally got our drinks we chatted some more. I was chatting with the Egyptian coach, the Brazilian coach and Spanish contestant. We chatted a lot about the differences between our countries and it was interesting trying to gauge the difference in safety between Egypt, Brazil and South Africa. After the bar some of them still wanted to go to a disco, but I joined the group that bummed out. I heard afterwards that they stayed out till about 05:00, so I'm glad I skipped.

All in all, the event was very enjoyable. It was a great opportunity to meet the community we compete against in a relaxed state with no competitions happening and not too many people around.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Unlikely Events

What are the chances of two people metting up half-way accross the world? Well, I can tell you I just increased that probability today.

Today I dedicated to museums with the possibility of going to the trade fair. As I was wondering down to the first museum, I get a tap on the back. I trun around and see Paul Stephenson, one of my classmates!! I can't get over just how unlikely it is that we both arrive in the same city, on the same day and by complete luck, without either of us knowing the other was in the city, passing by one another on the other side of the world!!

Paul was planning on catching a train out of Frankfurt with his travel pass, however since we bumped into one another he decided to join me for the day. We followed my plans of going to the museums. We purchased one of those student passes for most of the museums in the city, which ended up being a massive saver. This first one was the Museum fur Kommunikation (Communication Museum), which had some very interesting displays of historical communication devices such as telegrams and they even had a few enigma machines.

The next one we went to was an art museum - Museum Giersch. It had many old German paintings, many set within Frankfurt, from the 1800's. We then went to the Deutsches Filminstitut which had some of the very first filming technologies. Next was the Archeologisches Museum Frankfurt (Archaeology Museum). Here they had some ancient findings dating back to thousands of years BC, such as ancient tools and pots (I am now sick of pots!). The final stop was the Zweigstelle Historisches Museum (History Museum), which had displays showing some German (mainly Frankfurt) history such as how the city was affected by the war.

There is something that happened on the way to one of the museums that I simply have to record. If you know me you'll probably find it funny that I found this funny, but being Germany I was not prepared for this! Walking down this street, this man said in this voice that I cannot describe but will never forget: "Want some time with the girls? Don't you have some time for the pussy?" I was so shocked by the way he said it I found it hilarious!

Another thing I have to refer back to - I cannot believe the cars they drive in this country! So many Jags, Porches, Mercs (including all taxis), BMW's (the nice ones!). And so far I've seen four Ferrari's. A few French and Italian cars, but other than that it's all German with a very few exceptions. Hyundai seems to be the most popular non-European car with a few Fords too.

It's a little bit more of Frankfurt tomorrow morning and then down to serious business in Zurich.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Frankfurt Day 1

After a long flight last night, here I am in Frankfurt, checking off yet another country on my visited list. There was nothing unusual about the flight - long and boring. One thing I noticed though is that the work on Johannesburg's airport appears to have picked up a bit since I last passed by in April.

The first few things I noticed about Frankfurt - a buzz, lots of bicycles and they love their electronics. I arrived very early, so I was wondering around before the shops opened, staking out what places to go to. Also took a nice stroll along the river.

The first few stores I went inot were quite large. The ones I enjoyed most were the electronic ones, of course. ;) The first one was two floors and had a lot of stuff. Having been going through the process of purchasing a plasma, my draws fropped again when I loooked at the prices they had here. And they had a much wider variety, including a 70" complete with gold frame!!

Another one I went into had a floor stocked with cables. And if they didn't have the one you wanted, they also stocked the parts required to make your own! Another floor of the same store had a collection of model cars, trucks, planes, etc. and all the parts required to build one from scratch. Then there was this other department store with just one floor of electronics. There I saw the 50" model of the plasma I had ordered - stunning!

Being Germany, I've also been on the lookout for some nice cars. And I got results within a few hours - following an Enzo led me to an area full of Jags, Mercs, the nice BMW's and more. They were all gathered on the street where places such as Guci and Cartier were situated.

I think that's enough for now. More coming tomorrow hopefully.

PS: German keyboards are just wrong!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

What a 36 Hours!!

The 36 hours leading up to 02:00 this morning was a very busy one for me. And the action picks up again on Monday.

It started at 14:00 on Thursday afternoon with Charles' 'party'. He invited me only on Wednesday evening and I wasn't sure it was such a great idea with an exam the following morning for which I had yet to study for. But, I went. It started off with a hike up the mountain - something I haven't done in a long time. The fun started though when we did the all-you-can-eat at Pannarottis. This was bad idea number two when taking the following day into account. I had 13 slices, beating all the rest! Being his party, Charles was supposed to step and take victory, yet he never even came close! :P Oh, and note to anyone wanting to try pasta on a pizza: pasta is not a pizza topping!!!!!

Then I went home and squeezed in about an hour of studying for the following day, after which I had to retire to bed. I woke up early Friday morning, went through to campus and continued the studying there. The exam was one of those that could have gone smoother with a little more studying. But, at least I have Charles to blame if it went worse than I thought.

After the short recovery period and discussion about how it was very much the worst comp sci exam of this round (note the explicit reference to comp sci - very important!), I had a focus group meeting thingy with Chris Parker. His masters is on designing a submit interface for a grid. So, our job was to pick out flaws in his design.

Then it was SACO 2nd round marking time! I got to meet up with my computer studies teacher from school - Max Brock - as he was there helping out with the marking. It was the first time I had actually done 2nd round marking as in the past I have been overseas - see, I travel too much! It was interesting seeing the way some people code. "jannie = piet.toString();" - whoever did that, you're a genius! And if it taught me one thing - don't ever use Delphi for the SACO!! It was sad how many teachers failed to submit the answers correctly, making it impossible for us to mark them in some cases.

The next part was what I was waiting for though. It was my turn to celebrate. It was my party!!! I got a bunch of guys down to the Quarterdeck at Grand West. I love buffets! I arrived a little late, thanks to my mom... When we arrived there were only a few people waiting outside and I was wondering what had happened to the rest, considering we were late. Turns out they were waiting inside all along...duh! Once we had all gathered together, we went to take our table.

The food was pretty good. I still prefer Moyo from last year, but this comes close. As soon as I saw the oysters, I ran to grab a bunch of them. It was Carl's first attempt at an oyster - he claimed he enjoyed it, but I only saw him have one so that makes me wonder. The number of people wanting nothing more than to see me drunk grew throughout the evening. I think I picked the worst spot for that reason, but I stuck it least I didn't see them slip anything in my drink, and if they did I couldn't taste it.

After three dishes I caved in and went for the dessert, which they were evil to position right as you enter the buffet to make you cave early!! Dessert was very good though. Luckily Harry couldn't make it as there was no chocolate mousse though. :( The guys started leaving and then the rest of us went walking around the casino. However, as computer scientists we all understand the odds being against you, so we only watched others lose. :)

It was an awesome party and thanks to all of you who were there. It was an excellent way to end off a hectic 36 hours!! And it all starts again when I leave on Monday for Frankfurt and Zurich. :D

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

ICTS and The Mail Loop

#define ICTS Information and Communication Technology Services, University of Cape Town

About a week ago there was an issue with UCT's mail servers which created a massive backlog. After "resolving" the issue, this email was sent out explaining the cause:

Dear ICTS Customer,

Yesterday's delays with external mail delivery have been resolved and
mail delivery is back to normal. The delays were caused by an
individual on campus who set up a rule to forward mail to an off-campus
mail address. The rule was incorrectly set up as it forwarded messages
to a mail account that did not exist. This caused a mail loop. A mail
loop is created when the message is forwarded (as per the rule) and then
bounces back. The bounced message is in turn forwarded and bounces
back. This grows exponentially as each message (and its bounced
version) repeats the loop. This loop prevents the mail gateway from
processing other mail.

ICTS blocked the offending messages, but by that stage there was a
backlog of other messages that the mail gateway had to process.

To prevent this from happening, when setting up a mail forwarding rule,
please double-check the email addresses used.

ICTS Communications
If the above is cropped, check the original here.

The first thing that came to my mind is: Why haven't they resolved the issue? All they've done is identified the cause of the problem and told us as users how to prevent this from happening again. When you think about it though, this email will only reach a very limited number of users and therefore most of them will be completely unaware of the issue. And even then, why leave it up to the users? Humans are known to be prone to errors, so even if I double-check I might still make a mistake.

The more crucial problem is the fact that they announced a vulnerability and explained exactly how to take advantage of it. They are in essence advertising to anyone wanting to have a bit of fun attacking their mail servers a very simple way to cause havoc. They should have kept the cause to themselves while attempting to close the hole. But instead, they have done little to resolve the issue and I haven't heard of any attempts to do so. And then there's another small issue that could cause greater headaches - the mail archives are public! Why?

Another less important question I have in mind is how do they come to the conclusion that the growth is exponential? For each outgoing mail there is one incoming bounce mail, causing one outgoing mail and so on. So then why is it not linear? It makes me wonder why they couldn't manage load.

ICTS have a history of screwing things up. Just a couple months ago they started forcing the UCT network onto dynamic IP's, which has caused so many problems it has resulted in many administrators retiring. I also heard once that they actually celebrated logging their 100,000th call or some number. Who celebrates receiving such a large number of complaints?

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Microsoft Surface

Before reading any further, check out and make your own judgment.

First thought is it's cool, brings back memories of Minority Report. However, after some thought it really looks too good to be true. And here are some reasons I feel it is doomed to failure:

  1. Think of the iPhone for a moment. Isn't this the sort of thing Apple have promised, just much smaller? It's 1/20th of the price and surely has far more real world uses.
  2. Those demos are crooked. They make the thing appear so easy to use. Far more so than necessary.
  3. Apparently they've yet to write any software other than what's included in the demos.
  4. From the little I've read, it appears that to have the thing identify an item it needs to be barcoded. Now whose barcoding their glass?? Remember that these are at first only being sold to hotels and other public places. So what's the incentive to barcode your belongings if you're only going to be using it briefly?
  5. It's expensive - $10,000!!
  6. They took 5 years to develop it.
  7. The last piece of hardware Microsoft tried selling was the Zune.
Please, I'd like to hear if this is just be being anti-Microsoft or if other agree with me. Of all the computer scientists I've asked, they agree with my opinions.

And thanks for all the birthday wishes everyone. Had a great day yesterday!! :D

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Home Theater

At the end of last year we started adding a pool room to our house. It's been dragging on a bit over the past few month. Last month we got the pool table (officially giving it pool room status), but today was where the fun started.

Today we purchased the first piece of our soon to be home theater - the surround sound system! We're still waiting for the plasma to arrive in the country, but we got a little anxious and connected the speakers to one of our "old" TV's. I tell you, this thing makes some serious noise!!

The plasma that we're waiting for is a new Panasonic 42". From the reviews I've read it's quite a beauty. Haven't seen it yet, since it's brand new - yet to reach SA. They claim it should arrive end of the month the latest. Oooh...just too excited!!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Return to Google

In April this year UCT sent a team to the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest again, having beaten all other South African universities for a 5th consecutive year. This year it was in Tokyo and I went with the team as coach. Need I say we clinched top in Africa and the Middle East by beating the sole competing team...for the 5th consecutive year. :P

To the point of this post. Last month Google sent the team an invitation to Google. And guess what? The invitation was to the Zurich office!! So I'll be revisiting the office I worked at for 3 months. Only as a visitor this time. :D

I just arranged my flights on Thursday and will be going to journey Frankfurt for a couple days before flying over to Zurich. I'll be gone between the 18 and 24 June. Should be a cool opportunity to meet up with work buddies again. Also found out recently that one of them will be transferring to Mountain View, so I'll also be meeting up with him when I go to Nvidia if his visa application pans out, which isn't looking so hot at the moment.

The Beginning

After delving into ye wondrous Facebook not too recently (just had a squiz and it appears it's been a month already!), I thought it was time to delve into the wonders of blog land. I've maintained my own site for the past couple years, but some people have pushed me to go this route instead (or as well?).

Well anyway, it's here. The deed is done. How much I actually make use of this spot is another story depending on how I feel about the outcome. Enough babble.

The first real informative thing I'd like to let you all in on was originally a note on Facebook. And since I'm feeling lazy, I'm just going to paste it here word for word. But, since it has nothing to do with the beginning I'll make it a new post.