Archive > February 2004

PHP Cruise

28 February 2004 » In PHP, Travel » 2 Comments

I’m off to embark on the PHP Cruise where I’ll be giving a talk about regular expressions in PHP. Back in a week.

Lucky Bastards

24 February 2004 » In Other » 2 Comments

Could I have spare set of kidneys, please?

School Time

23 February 2004 » In Bay Area, Pursuits » 6 Comments

I am going back to school, 5 years after graduation. A few weeks ago I signed up for two classes – Introduction to Linguistic Phonetics and Introduction to Syntax – through San Jose State’s Open University program. These are the prerequisites for a Master of Arts in Linguistics degree, which is what I am shooting for. In the fall I will enroll for real and become a graduate student.
Why linguistics? Some may say that with my background of computer science going for MBA or MS in Computer Science again makes more sense. Well, I have always been an advocate of studying and working in the areas that you have a passion for. Business degree may be advantageous for career advancement or starting a new enterprise, but somehow I do not feel that it will make me happy.
On the other hand, I have always been fascinated by languages, their similarities and differences, their structure, sounds, flexibility, and ambiguity. Did you know that Japanese has voiceless vowels? That Turkish can form words of 200 letters and longer via agglutinative morphology and thus convey very precise shades of meaning? Why does one language have only three vowels and another twenty-three? Why does “I pronouce you husband and wife” matters when spoken by a person with appropriately vested power, but not by an actor on a stage?
I am fluent in English and Russian, and can read a bit of Norwegian, and even with this limited set there is so much to learn and discover. I am especially interested in the intersection of computer science and linguistics – computational linguistics, which includes fields of speech recognition and production, natural language processing, etc. This field is still largely unexplored and can bring about a multitude of benefits for human-computer interaction.
Why San Jose State University? Financial and time management reasons mostly. All other things being equal, I would probably go for Stanford, but the tuition there is close to, oh, $28,000 a year. Berkeley also has a good linguistics program, but the commute would take approximately 1-1.5 hours. Plus, these schools mostly accept students who are going for doctorate, not masters, degrees. It’s already challenging enough to combine school and work, taking 6 credits hours as I do now. So that leaves San Jose State – it is not too far away and the costs are reasonable. I will re-evaluate the situation after a year or so.
So far it feels strange to have to attend classes, answer “here!” when your name is called, do the homework, and sit in a room full of people most of whom are younger than me. But I love it.

Time for Vogons to Arrive?

12 February 2004 » In Funny » 4 Comments

Oh, the inanity of this culture… Douglas Adams was so right:

There is a theory which states that if anyone discovers just exactly what the universe is for and why we are here, that it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable. Then there is a theory which states that this has already happened.

Go AlltheWeb!

09 February 2004 » In Tech » No Comments

SearchEngineWatch Awards recognizes outstanding achievements in web searching. This year my former labor of love,, has won again: second place in Outstanding Search Service category and second place in Best Design, right behind Google. In addition, our URL Investigator tied with Google Definitions for the first place as Best Search Feature, and Google’s and AlltheWeb’s calculators tied for the second place. But really, we did it first and who uses the Google “still-in-the-lab” Definitions anyway? 🙂
Kudos to backend folks in Trondheim and to the rest of the frontend team, Erik and Ryan.

Institute of Official Cheer

06 February 2004 » In Funny » No Comments

If you have never heard of James Lileks and his Institute of Official Cheer, it is worth setting aside a few hours and browsing through the site, where “old pop culture is subjected to our patented Re-Ironization Process, and converted into chipper, spiffy, feather-light postmodern commentary on commercial culture.” Be prepared: it is funny. Very funny. He digs up old recipe books, tourist guides, advertisements and unleashes his merciless humor on them, describing a particularly unappetizing meat dish as “…a segment of an intestine from some creature that ingested the fender from an old DeSoto. In any case, it’s alarmingly aerodynamic, this meat; very modern and streamlined.”
The Gallery of Regrettable Food section has been made into a book, which has many more examples of egregious culinary failures. I have a copy and can wholeheartedly recommend it. Also, do not miss the Grooviest Motel in Wisconsin. Do not.

Wardrobe Malfunction

01 February 2004 » In Opinion » 7 Comments

I do not follow regular sports throughout the season but I do make an effort to watch the SuperBowl, mostly for the commercials. This 38th installment was suprisingly good and ended with Patriots winning in the same way as they did their first one – by a last-minute field goal.
I wish I could have watched the Lingerie Bowl during halftime; alas, no sputnik TV means no lingerie models playing tackle football. But the MTV-produced regular halftime show had perhaps more nudity after all. Janet Jackson got exposed thanks to Justin Timberlake (finally he’s good for something). I don’t see what the big deal is, but this should give FCC chairman Michael “My Daddy Is Secretary of State” Powell a hefty stick to beat down on the already puritanical broadcasting industry.
And so, was Janet’s bosom the “mystery performer” then? And we’ll probably never learn whether the “accident” was in fact approved by CBS.