Monday, October 31, 2005

Worst advertising targetting ever

I've complained in the past about the untargetted advertising on Yahoo Mail, huge 200x200 or more banners for University of Phoenix Online. (Right now, 425x600 pixels for a credit check).

That's alright, they don't have all that much information about me, I'll forgive the untargetted advertising, although I could deal without the huge dimensions.

Well Facebook, who does know a lot about me and about its target audience, right now has an ad up for Strayer University, a multi campus, questionable quality institution. But I'm already at college! So why put college ads on a website you must already be in college to see? They do a few grad programs, like IS, MBA, MIS, Accounting, but it just seems like a poor use of a university's money to advertise an online university to one of the top schools in the country.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Test drive!

I test drove an Audi A4 today. I liked. It only has 170 horses compared to the 200 of the new A4s. But all in all, it drives well, had smooth acceleration, etc.

Now hopefully I can find an S4 with about the same milage etc.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Movies I need to see

Howl's Moving Castle
Transporter 2
Good Night & Good Luck
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Relocation madness

I have a relocation contact at Google.
I have a relocation company (Plus Relocation) that Google hires.
I have a relocation company that Plus Relocation hires to move my stuff.
I have a relocation company that Plus Relocation hires to find me temporary housing.

I have contacts at all of these.

Moving's hard, let's go party

Monday, October 17, 2005

The ambiguity, the move

One way to San Jose for 1/2/2006
One way San Jose to Reno for 1/5/2006
One way Reno to San Jose 1/15/2006 (thought I wouldn't go to San Jose first when I bought this ticket)

California dreamin...

Friday, October 14, 2005

Car comparison

So, here's a grid of the cars I'm looking at. Requirement: standard transmission, AWD wagon.

Why is the Audi S4 do damned heavy?

(This isn't really my purchase list - I can't afford half of these new, and I'm not a big fan of Subarus, so my hope right now is a 2000-2005 used S4 wagon)

MakeModelEngineHorsepowerWeight in pounds
AudiA42.0T i42003671
AudiS44.2 v83403957
SubaruImpreza WRX2.5T flat42303252
SubaruImpreza2.5 flat41733071
SubaruOutback XT2.5T flat42503415
VolvoV502.5T i52183263
VolvoV702.5T i53003646
BMW325xi2.5 i62153737
BMW530xi3.0 i62553858

Other effects of the information age

When someone says good morning to you, the proper response is "good morning", right?

What about when the person is 7 time zones ahead?

It's just kind of disorienting, especially when I just woke up!

Thursday, October 13, 2005


I am tutoring an advanced programming course this semester - a sophomore level course, where students learn how to translate complex algorithms into code. Advanced programming as a sophomore and not as a senior? yeah, the difference between programming and computer science... ask me if you really want to know.

I'm tutoring a couple students in Pittsburgh, and I'll start tutoring a few of the CMU-Qatar students soon. I learned how important face interaction and having a white board of piece of paper there really is for tutoring - so the remote tutoring will take place with a webcam and a Tablet PC from HP. I hope it can transmit intuition as well as pencil and paper, or whiteboard - but the latency of the drawing, the barrier to understand fully what someone else is thinking, is hard to fake through the internet. (As a side note, I found IBM's virtual, distributed offices with phone conferences and web conferences to be terribly cold and much less effective than face time. I like people)

We'll see how this experiment goes. I'll let you know.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Un-targeted advertising

So to completely switch gears from targeted advertising, today's gem is un-targeted advertising.

TartanTrak front page

Anything look out of wack on that? That's right, McDonald's. TartanTrak is part of MonsterTrak, but every college I know of uses MonsterTrak as a career management utility for their students. So I imagine McDonald's would just say "Hey I want to go to all college students!" If they get anyone from Carnegie Mellon, I'd be amazed.

Or maybe it is targeted. And my career center is telling me I'm not good enough for a job in my major.

[EDIT: This is where the link goes - a general page, not tuned for college grads, that's for sure]

Thursday, October 06, 2005

More thoughts of things that could be cooler

I was sitting on the lawn today, having a delicious lunch from Sree's truck, when the parking garage alarm starts to go off. And keeps going off. (In case you're wondering, I got tarimand chicken, spinach potato, and grape leaf curry. The grape leaf curry is amazing.)

The fire department gets summoned every time a building's alarm goes off without warning. But I'd guess fewer than 1/3 of these are real, summonable issues. The other 2/3 could be cancelled within a minute (which is probably under the amount of time it takes the fire trucks to leave the station).

So how do we avoid summoning trucks in these cases? I propose a way for a phone system to integrate with the alarm system - during an alarm a person could pick up the phone, hit a special key (let's say #), and immediately get either the station or the dispatcher. The station or dispatcher get the context when the call's coming in - there's an alarm going off where the call is coming from. It's alrady their primary mental focus - getting to the scene of the disaster.

Why this is cool: It's easier than remembering the dispatcher's phone number, and it instantly, without much effort, gets you in contact with the people who are on their way. It could be even intelligent enough to dispatch to the exact station that's coming, if you might have trucks from one of several stations.

Why this is better than 911: 911 doesn't immediately associate the incoming phone number with the alarm, and even if they do, they're focused on other things too. So it requires a mental switch, and them to contact either the station or the dispatcher. Too much time explaining to prevent the firemen from actually having to leave.

Policy issues: Who can cancel the call? An arsonist might try to cancel the trucks - but we could either allow only certain phones (like the lobby-person's phone, or a secure phone), or require security personnel to cancel it by entering a PIN.

I had a dream...

I had a dream last night I was in Qatar at a supermarket, searching for Gatorade. But for some reason it had a pet store in it too, and I definitely can't remember to speak Arabic in my dreams. But for some reason my car made it to the middle east.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Facebook and targetted advertising: old school

Facebook, for those of you who don't know, is a social network for college students. People have pretty wide ranging browsing ability at their own schools - so you can find the guy you crush on who you know 3 things about, or find out who knows that girl you like so you can know if she's nice.

I have 2 facebook accounts - one from my Pitt email address (thanks to Arabic) and one from my CMU account. Both were set as CS concentration.

On the CMU account, I see an ad for jobs at Facebook, front and center on the home page. Not where they put ads normally. On the Pitt account, I don't. Interesting...

So I change my major in my profile from CS to English on the CMU one, and the ad disappears.

So yes, folks, Facebook only wants CS majors (maybe some others) from select schools.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

And in other news

And in other news, I begin on January 16 instead of February 6, so I can go to the Google Global Sales Conference