Fun With MyHeritage's Face Recognition

Given this input…

Photo of some kind of messy food, shown in the

…here's one match from's face recognition feature:

MyHeritage's match -- Ashton Kutcher.

Yes…I can see a resemblance!

(Courtesy of Miss Fipi Lele and Hardhat.)


No Reddit for You!

I paid my usual visit to Reddit and found this:

Screenshot of my browser showing that doesn't resolve.

Using my super-seekrit domain registrar powers vested in me by the authority of my employer, I found that the domain record had been updated today…

Domain Name: REDDIT.COM
Whois Server:
Referral URL:
Status: clientDeleteProhibited
Status: clientUpdateProhibited
Status: clientTransferProhibited
Updated Date: 13-Dec-2006
Creation Date: 29-Apr-2005
Expiration Date: 29-Apr-2008

Somebody did something today, and that something caused to no longer resolve. Hopefully this will get resolved soon.

The 'Soup Nazi' from 'Seinfeld' saying 'No Reddit for you!'.


Amanda Congdon: Today, ABC News; Tomorrow, "The View"

Amanda Congdon

Amanda Congdon, this website defector of 2006, has landed a position at ABC News' website, and the New York Times has covered this latest career move:

Now in the warm embrace of the mainstream media, this onetime indie figure is making online video segments on eclectic subjects. And ABC is meanwhile promising its groovy young girlfriend that she won't have change a bit, even for corporate events: no first-lady suits, no hot-roller hair, no mannequin makeup. Ever. On her first minishow, which became available yesterday on ABC's Web site, Ms. Congdon shows up in a taut Steely Dan T-shirt and opens with her trademark girly casualness: “O.K., this is weird.”

Is it me, or are the staff writers at the Times really aping the style of the Daily Show these days?

The article skips the boring stuff, such as the details about her new position at ABC and a guesstimate of what it pays and jumps to what readers really want: an analysis of her trademark “cute girl at the comic book store” style, complete with references to Peter Jennings' “Apollonian reason” and drawing parallels between her and Walter Cronkite.

As Amanda herself would say, “O.K., that was weird.”



Java SE 6 Released / Java 6's Script Engines

Sun announced the release of Java SE version 6 on Monday, and I'm still looking through its features in a half-interested sort of way. I've made a career (some people might say I've unmade one) out of avoiding Java development, as it seems to demand so much damned “preamble” to get anything done. The fact that Java requires you to declare a class just to write a “Hello World” program should be a warning; the defection of some of Java's bright lights to dynamic programming languages and the functional programming paradigm should tell you which way the wind is blowing. It's more truth than joke when people say that Java is the new COBOL.

That being said, COBOL still powers a number of applications out there; there's a decent chance that some bit of your financial life is being crunched by some COBOL routine running on big iron deep in the bowels of a data center. According to Wikipedia, George's ultimate masters — the Gartner Group — reported in 1997 that 80% of the world's business ran on COBOL with 180 billion lines of code in existence at the time; they estimated 5 billion lines of new COBOL code were being written annually.

The staying power of a language whose spec was written in 1960 should be some kind of indication of where Java is heading, longevity-wise. If Java lives as long as COBOL and continues releasing updates at the same pace, we should expect to see Java 20 in the mid-2030s.

Among the features in this latest release of Java:

  • Compiler API: You can stick a Java compiler inside your Java app, which could be good for on-the-fly code generation (which in turn might be good for data access layers on the fly, the way Rails does), or for other nifty little metaprogramming tricks that were available only to dynamic programming language folk.
  • Enhanced debugging, memory leak analysis and detection.
  • APIs to support web services: XML Digital Signatures API, The Java-XML Web Service. improvements to Java-XML Binding, Streaming API for XML.
  • Security: GSS/Kerberos integration, Java Authentication and Authorization Service for LDAP authentication and a security certificate request framework
  • A whole load of improvements meant for desktop apps, including:
    • A new API — java.awt.Desktop — whose aim is to make Java desktop apps “first-class citizens”, with awareness of things like default email and web clients as well as integration with common office apps.
    • Support for splash screens that can be displayed even before the JVM starts.
    • Improvements to JFC and Swing: leveraging of Windows API for a really native look-and-feel, enhancements to the layout managers, custimizable Swing drag-and-drop, true double-buffering.
    • New classes for system tray support.
    • Improved print support for JTable.
    • Improved text rendering, especially for antialiasing on LCD displays.
    • Enhanced support for internationalization.

Maybe it's me, but this new-found focus on desktop applications make me feel as if I've time-warped back to 1997. Reading this list, I was half-tempted to upgrade to one of those blazing-fast 300MHz Klamath Pentium boxes, hook it to one of those newfangled 56K modems and then go buy that new Block Rockin' Beats single by the Chemical Brothers at my local Tower Records.

Perhaps when Java 9 comes out (around 2012), it'll come with all sorts of cool Ajax APIs.

A ruby, Duke the java mascot and a python.

The feature I find interesting is the scripting framework, which is described in this DevX article as follows:

…a scripting framework that provides scripting language access to Java internals. You can locate scripting engines and invoke them to run scripts at runtime. The Scripting API allows you to provide Java support for the scripting language of your choice. In addition, the Web Scripting Framework allows script code to generate Web content within any Servlet container.

I assume this means that you could simply code in your preferred scripting language and run it on a JVM, or perhaps make your Java apps scriptable in over a dozen scripting languages — just plug in the appropriate scripting engine and you're off. Java SE 6 will ship with Rhino, the JavaScript script engine, and engines for other languages such as Ruby and Python are available for download from the Java Scripting Engines page.



YouTube "Almost Entirely Written in Python"

Guido van Rossum

That's the word from Guido van Rossum, creator of the Python programming language and relatively recent Google hire, who mentioned it on the Python development mailing list. There's another data point for the argument that dynamic programming languages can be used to build large-scale, heavily trafficked sites.



Does Jim Allchin think Windows XP sucks?

Mac fanboys have been all over the revelation of Jim Allchin's email to Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer where Allchin, decrying the state of Microsoft's operating system development efforts, implies that Microsoft's products were inferior to those of Apple.

Well, today Allchin tries to reverse field.

"I would buy a Mac today if I was not working at Microsoft."

That was the very unexpected declaration made by Windows chief Jim Allchin in a January 2004 e-mail to Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates, as quoted by Groklaw and picked up by Computerworld and others. The previously undisclosed e-mail was introduced as evidence last week in Microsoft's antitrust trial in Iowa.

Now, in a blog post responding to the coverage, Allchin cautions against taking the statement out of context and writes that he "was being purposefully dramatic" to make a case for a major overhaul of the Windows development process. In the 2004 e-mail, Allchin wrote that he saw "lots of random features and some great vision," but he warned that the Windows teams had lost their way.

Allchin goes on to reassure the reader that things are fine now. "[W]e needed to change and change quickly. We did: We changed dramatically the development process that was being used and we reset the Windows Vista development project in mid-2004, essentially starting over." The result? Obviously the world's best operating system (Joey's experiences notwithstanding).

Here's what bugs me about this bit of backtracking, though: at some point, Jim was probably saying something similar about Windows XP—best OS ever made. Yet two years later we read him saying that he'd buy a Mac, rather than a PC with Windows XP, if it wasn't for Microsoft signing his paychecks.

Allchin's trying to convince us that his Mac comments were made for dramatic effect to highlight his dissatisfaction with Microsoft's strategic vision and development practice. I don't doubt that, but it must also be true that those comments were a fair reflection of his opinion of the products Microsoft was shipping at the time.

It's enough to make the non-Microsoft employees among us think twice about Vista.

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Times Square Ads and "No Photos" Policies

Back during the Christmas season of 1998, I'd been the owner of a digital my camera — my first — for about a month. Naturally, I took it with me everywhere and snapped pictures of anything I found even vaguely interesting. While shopping for gifts at the downtown Toronto Urban Outfitters, I put on a hat reminiscent of the one worn by the lead singer of Jamiroquai, held the camera at arm's length and took a self-portrait, much like the ones you see on just about every MySpace page these days.

Not one, but two Urban Outfitters staffers descended on me and made it clear that the store had a “no photographs” policy.

“Sorry,” I said, “I didn't know. Did I miss the 'no photographs' sign when I came in?”

“Uh, no…” said one of the staffers, sheepishly. “It's not…really…posted anywhere.”

The other staffer leapt to her defense: “Okay, there's no sign, but it's a rule, okay?”

Urban Outfitters wasn't the only place who had a semi-secret “no photos” policy; Starbucks is notorious for this, despite the statement from the head office that they had no policy on photos being taken in their cafes.

Tourists taking photos in Times Square.

The “no photos” policy madness may be coming to an end soon, however; this New York Times piece reports that thanks to tourists digital cameras and photo-sharing sites and blogs, the advertisements in Times Square are being shown to a much larger audience than originally anticipated. Perhaps in light of the article, places like Starbucks, Urban Outfitters and even PF Chang's will scrap their “no photos” policies and think of photos on the premises as “free product placement”.