Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Google Video

Google has for some time now a service where you can upload videos and search and see videos uploaded by others (you can see it here). Recently they launched a video store as well, where they sell some TV series, NBA games, as well as videos which anybody can upload and request some money for others to see them. I think this will become a huge business in the future, but I don't intend to buy videos any time soon. As for the free ones, I found some funny ones, like commercials or some videoclips of Romanian bands that were off the copyright radar (they ban the videos for which the uploader does not have the copyright as soon as they find them).

What needs badly to be improved in order for this service to be usefull is the search. Currently it seems the search is done based only on the title of the video, which gives a rather poor results. I think an easy to implement idea would be to let users add keywords about a specific video. This can be abused by adding wrong keywords, but if most of the users are well behaved the resulting semantic should increase search quality.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Talking about weather

That's what English people do, I, not being able to do just that, started reading a book "The Weather in the Imagination" by Lucian Boia. This guy is a Romanian historian, specializing in the history of ideas and the imaginary of people, i.e. he takes an idea or a concept and traces back how this concept was viewed or percieved (including in the form of myths and ideologies) in different eras and cultures. This time he takes it on weather/climate and investigates ideas like that of climate which determines the character of a nation, and the global warming and the end of the world through a climate catastrophe.

I read many of his books and I find his history much more enlightening than the one generally taught in school where you have to memorize loads of dates and events. He also manages to be funny many times, so the reading is also entertaining.

The best of his books is in my opinion "History and Myth in Romanian Consciousness" which discusses many of the myths of the Romanian history. I'm not sure how interesting would be this book for someone who is not Romanian (i.e. to understand the gap between this version of history and the "official" one), but for the ones that passed through our school system, were "brain-washed" in history classes and are still open-minded persons it definitely worth a read.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Be cool, but try to stay warm

Russia is having an argument with Ukraine over the gas price, and the rest of Europe is trembling. They depend in a large measure on the gas from Russia that passes through Ukraine. European Union will hold a summit today discussing their energy policy. The trend in the latest years was to increase the imports from Russia, as ecologists obtained the closure of many nuclear reactors accross Europe. Not that I'm totally opposed to ecologists, but to close your reactors, having no real alternative plans but to depend in a large measure by Russia doesn't sound like a good idea to me.

On the other hand, as we consume more and more energy to run our computers, it's good to see more efficency on cooling them. Here is a story about a company that is doing this: optimizing the air conditioning systems in data centers.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happy New Year!

We started a new year, so we have a reason to be happy :)
And to go back to work :)