Google sucks at Table Tennis?

I’ve always wanted to play Table Tennis with Sergey Brin at a Google Party because 1) Russians are usually pretty good at Table Tennis and 2) He seems like a cool guy.
But this report, indicating that Google sucks at Table Tennis, came as a surprise to me. Maybe you need to go to Google’s China offices to get a good game on?

OK, here’s my challenge to Sergey Brin via email.   I’m not optimistic about a reply, but it never hurts to ask.


Dear Mr. Brin,

I have a hunch you are a good Table Tennis player and I’d like to
challenge you to a game sometime during the Google Party.

If you are a gambling man how about playing for $1000  *per point*
with all proceeds to an international charity of your choice or to

P.S.  Thanks for, which I hope will become Google’s
greatest contribution to humanity.

Myspace vs Congress

Myspace and other social networking sites won’t be accessible from schools or libraries as a result of  congressional legislation passed a few days ago.   The Myspace ban was a fairly predictable type of response from congress, reflecting increasing concerns by adults who basically had no idea what their children were doing online.

The Myspace ban is very unlikely to have much of an effect on anything since kids, and the predators the bill is supposed to help thwart – probably were not using these access venues very much.   Hopefully the news about this will get some parents to pay closer attention to their children’s online activities, which in general should be supervised far more than they are by all but a few parents.

As a parent I’m more supportive of restrictions and content filtering than most other internet folks, but I think the entire debate is missing a key point regarding a dramatic change in social norms.

I’d suggest that changes in social norms are something like those that happened in the USA in the 1960’s in both scope and substance, but that these changes in morality, personal identity, and social responsibility are “going global” thanks to online activities, online communities, and the explosive cross-cultural connectivity facilitated by 24/7 broadband access and online awareness.

Silly laws like this will hardly put the online Pandoras back in their boxes.   However it will also be funny to hear free speech zealots whining about government intervention which will never have a chance of making truly significant changes.

The ships of sweeping social change sailed long ago and they are powered by exploding global online communities.   Our best course is to look forward to the uncharted waters.

Ebay vs Yard Sale

I always get nervous when my wife and kids want to run a yard sale. “Be sure to run things through Ebay before you sell them for nothing”, I say with little effect.

Luckily this morning I intercepted the 1966 Milton Bradley Shenanigans game and Lie Detector games before they were sold for 50 cents. Running them through Ebay’s completed listings via advanced search I learned that they would probably sell online for $25-$45 each.

The challenge is that I don’t like to mess with Ebay sales of small things, and my wife stubbornly refuses to do it despite the fact she’ll spend many more hours setting up the yard sale, taking down the yard sale, trying to get me to help putting up and taking down the yard sale, moving things out of the house, and haggling over nickel and dime items.

“What?  I can’t possibly take under .06 for that item marked .08!”

It’s no wonder Ebay has spawned a community of yard sale resellers who are picking up my old games for a buck and reselling them online for a fifty fold return. Maybe this will be my fallback position if the travel websites fail and I’m forced on to the lonely, dirty streets of Oregon, begging for quarters to buy games to resell on Ebay from free library computers.
It leads one to wonder what people are doing about all this over in the string theorized parallel membrane alternative universes.

Smart move by Yahoo?

Yahoo appears to be expanding their approach to search using humanized contextual information. This may trump Google’s search quality if Google remains as stubborn as it’s been with regard to human interventions.  However I’d guess Google will soon be forced to use a lot more human input as search quality may soon demand this.

One should remain very bullish on computer intelligence, but it seems for at least the next decade or so it’s not realistic to think that search results can be ranked by machine better than by humans.  Machines are much, much faster rankers than a human mind, but lack even many basic filters that allow a human to discard irrelevant or spurious information.    The hybridized search using computer algorithmic results combined with data from all relevant human sources should prevail in the near future.

Travel Complaint? Tell it to the Donner Party.

Back in Talent at about midnight last night.

Sure it’s a long trip from the East Coast but I can’t help but … scoff…  at complaints about modern travel.  I like to say to the travel whiners “tell it to the Donner Party“.

Go tell some 1850 pioneers that a mere 100 years in the future their dangerous treks of many months to get from the midwest to Oregon or California will take a few hours as groups of hundreds of people fly six miles above the earth in huge boxes of metal.
To cities all over the American West.
Many, many times each and every day of the year.

Early American travelers would have thought you were simply crazy.

If you’d added that during the flight you’d be served cold drinks and snacks, watch moving picture shows, and listen to music they would have locked you up.

Then you’d explain to them that people will constantly complain about this type of travel.

With that comment, you’d be shot.

and then if you were with the Donner Party you’d be ….


Mennonites and Google

The Mennonites are known for their craftsmanship and honest business dealings.   Today, down at a local planing mill it was interesting to watch how important the social negotiation process was to doing business as my uncle and cousin figured out how to go about getting some raw planks from their tree farm turned into floorboards.  “Are you related to ….?” and “my daughter lives over on your road” mattered more than I’m used to in the west, where few have lived in the area for even a single generation.

I thought how far I was in so many ways from next week’s Google party in Silicon Valley.    Somewhat like the Amish, Old Order Mennonites often travel in horse drawn buggies, foresaking even the most basic technologies the rest of us take for granted.

Thank god I’m a country boy?

I really cherish my southern roots despite the fact that I’ve never actually *lived* in the south.   We gather every year to celebrate family and prove that blood is thicker than the political, religious, and cultural differences that pop up among the many generations of a big family.    This year only about 75 made it to the reunion but still a good time was had by all.    Mom’s had a good time visiting with her six living brothers and sisters.

We haven’t had a bad meal yet, though our cholesterol is probably … higher.    Steak for dinner, at lunch today I had a fried ham sandwich and fries, and yesterday’s dinner was a very nice … fried chicken in gravy.

Oh, Shenandoah

Surprised to find that Oh Shenandoah, the beautiful haunting song which is the official song of Virginia, has origins outside of the Shenandoah Valley.

Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you,
Away, you rolling river
Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you
Away, I’m bound away, cross the wide Missouri.

Oh, Shenandoah, I love your daughter,
Away, you rolling river
Oh, Shenandoah, I love your daughter
Away, I’m bound away, cross the wide Missouri.

Oh, Shenandoah, I’m bound to leave you,
Away, you rolling river
Oh, Shenandoah, I’m bound to leave you
Away, I’m bound away, cross the wide Missouri.

Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you,
Away, you rolling river
Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you
Away, I’m bound away, cross the wide Missouri.

Yoo-hoo, YHOO?

Hopefully you did not take my ealier “advice” and buy YHOO. I remain bullish on their prospects as well as IACI and MSFT as Google’s huge share of total PPC based search revenue dematerializes over the coming years, but hey, I also traded my Apple for WCOM so don’t listen to me.

Reuters says things will likely get worse for Yahoo as delays in their “project panama” contextual advertising routine continue to hurt their prospects of nabbing more of the PPC cash buffet.

Google is still going strong according to CEO Eric Schmidt, which is good because now they can afford the big party they’ll throw in a couple weeks – Google Dance 2006. See you there?

Southern Hospitality

Here at the Daily Grind in Harrisonburg, VA I’m enjoying a robust internet connection, sipping some robust coffee, and uploading a few pix to Flickr.    The big reunion starts tomorrow in Bridgewater, but  Mom and I are already enjoying the great hospitality of Aunt Doris and Uncle Joe  who live in  a beautiful  brick house  perched on a  hill near the middle of town.

No post from Chicago’s ORD because despite their HUGE signs promoting WIFI they … charge $6.95 per session.   Unlike Oregon where PDX and MFR have free WIFI, proving that Oregon remains one of the geat states in the union.

I don’t have much information about the economics of Airport WIFI, but I think ad based models are going to prove much stronger since even those of us who can afford to pay usurous wifi fees…won’t do it.