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pemo (Notes from a Small [Academic] Island) ++++++++++++++++++ It's all academic! ++++++++++++++++++

Well, today's presentation was a BIG [to me] disappointment!

It was basically a recruitment drive aimed mostly I imagine at some of our spotty undergrads [bless].  IMHO, the speaker seemed ‘weak’ [very different from the one at Tuesday's London gig], and not at all happy with the PowerPoint he was showing, nor in making any eye contact with the audience – a sure sign that he was on – um, what’s the expression – soft/shifting sands, or something like that.

I was hoping we’d get some AI/NLP expert - or at least someone that we could quiz on the same, and get some answers from – even if that meant attempting to read between the lines … i.e., I wouldn’t have expected him/her to ‘reveal’ how Google really does its NLP, but I was hoping for some insight!  But, instead, we got a fluffy, ‘we have loads of machines’ [really!], and ‘we have really big indexes’ [no shit - really!!].  Oh well – maybe you actually have to work for them to get the proper answers [numbers/algorithms] to such stuff.

That said, a couple of interesting things were said though.  That Google Zurich and [Google somewhere in] Scandinavia do ‘proper’ software development – and that Google Ireland [Dublin] work a shift when Google Mountainview. are all in their beds … the Software Engineering jobs in Ireland are ‘real time’, i.e., Google Ireland takeover form Google Mountainview for some hours of the day, when they become responsible for fixing whatever problem may or may not arise within Google [generally] – for example, ‘under attack’ was mentioned.  It would be interesting to see a DOS attack on Google – I’m sure it’s been tried any number of times!

Other interesting titbits:

Apparently, Google are about the 3rd largest producer of computers in the USA – but they only produce machines for their own consumption!  If that's right - well, they obviously DO have loads of machines!

They have their own OS for running their backend stuff – not surprising.  They also have their own programming language that has the keyword emit to start jobs, and to handle what resources they devote to a given job.

As far as they are aware, Google has the biggest amount of computing power available outside of [but maybe including] government departments - with either three or four letter acronyms [read CIA, GCHQ, NSA etc]

They use TF/IDF, concordances, and collocations for a lot of their NLP ‘stuff’ [spell checking/search etc] – I don’t [don't want to] believe this at all!

Google’s ‘20% do what you want time’ [written into their employees' contracts] has been responsible for some of their products [don’t have my notes available, so I can’t say which – or, was I half asleep during this bit?] - oh, Orkut was one of them I believe [Orkut is someone's name apparently].

The Q&A questions 'ranged' … stuff about China [read: what's this 'don’t be Evil’ thing about then?], stuff about their Logos [!!], stuff about why they keep logs of what's been searched for [indexed by IP?], stuff about if PageRank is so good [and their tweaking of their ranking algorithms] how is that when you often Google for stuff, the top results are for crap like Kelkoo, and sites that offer you, um, some ‘search’!!

Things I would have like to have asked - but thought it pointless:

  • What's with blocking the 'GMail [drive] Shell Extension'?
  • Is there anything in the rumour about the GDrive?  Will it perhaps have its own Shell Extension?
  • Could Google provide some categorisation on searching - a little like eBay does ... e.g., so that you could select 'Academic' results, or 'Company' vs. 'Personal' results.  Don't know how they'd do the latter though [the former could be filtered using .ac. or .edu domain suffixes. would be better that the existing Google Scholar I think].
  • Stuff from my previous Google 'thinks'
  • Could Google provide some proper power-searching stuff - regular expressions etc?
  • When will the Google API go from a beta, and when will the usage limits be removed?
Posted on Thursday, March 9, 2006 6:42 PM | Back to top

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