Neil's News

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28 September 2008

Stanford University Last month Stanford University admitted me into their computer science program. First up is CS145, a course on databases. Pursuing a career within Google is scary when one realises that virtually all the technologies we use internally are home-grown. The longer one spends here, the further divorced one becomes from the outside world. So although Bigtable, MapReduce and Pigeon Clusters are awesome, it is important to keep up with what everyone else is using. I had my first classes this week. So much for all my free time.

Speaking of "Computer Science", anyone else notice that disciplines with "science" in their names are generally far less scientific than those without? On the solid side there's Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geology, etc. On the squishy side there's Computer Science, Cognitive Science, Environmental Science, Political Science, etc. [Not to mention Creation Science, Christian Science and Scientology.]

On an unrelated topic, I'm now getting over 750 spam messages per day. [Screenshot of my 30-day spam folder.] Since I always use unique email addresses when filling out forms, I can tell which companies are leaking my information based on the addresses the spam is sent to. Roughly a third of my spam arrives at the address I gave ActiveState when I reported a bunch of bugs against their Komodo IDE. Nice one.

Update: Huge congratulations are in order for SpaceX's achievement this weekend. After three failures they finally made it to orbit on Sunday. It was spectacular (note the red-hot engine bell at SECO). Not to mention heart-stopping when they lost the downlink for one minute right at the end of the flight. If you aren't familiar with SpaceX, this demonstration launch was a big deal. SpaceX have the ability to reduce the cost of getting stuff into space by a factor of five. That's based on world prices -- US rockets have half the cost-efficiency as the rest of the world, so SpaceX will beat US rockets by one order of magnitude. Think about it: anything NASA can put into Earth orbit, SpaceX could put into Mars orbit for the same cost.

SpaceX Dragon Capsule SpaceX Dragon Hatch

And SpaceX isn't stopping there. Last week a mockup of their Dragon Capsule mysteriously showed up in Google's parking lot. There will be room in there for seven people. Looking through the outer hatch one can see the docking port at the top. Note that it is square! That detail in and of itself is a big deal.

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