Friday, June 12, 2009

Google does it to me again.

Okay, so you may recall that Susan and I made a lego portrait of Nancy, which I placed amongst the other lego portraits here at Google NYC. Here's Nancy next to another famous programmer and Google employee, Brian Kernighan:

The other portraits are other famous people, or the Google founders, etc. But there's this one guy I didn't recognize, shown on the right here:

I see various images of him everywhere here -- on t-shirts, posters, computer screens, etc. The haircut has a late-70's / early-80's look, so I figure this must be another computer luminary whose name I probably know, and who might work at Google.

I decided to pose myself the challenge of figuring out who it is without asking anyone. I would look at the list of upper management, which includes a bunch of famous computer scientists; I would examine every place I found his face, try to find a pattern. Check out old pictures of people at Xerox Parc back in the day. Look closely at the people I saw around me. And so on.

At one point, someone set up a computer in the Hall of Old Computers running the operating system called Plan 9 from Bell Labs. It used an old-yet-advanced email system that included a little picture of the person sending the email. And there, on the screen, was a bunch of little pictures of people who had sent email to this computer, people I recognized, and they mystery man as well! The little pictures had the usernames under them! The mystery man's picture was partially obscured, so I couldn't see his username. I clicked on the window to bring it to the front -- and it disappeared.


A couple of weeks ago, I finally figured it out. Strangely, I cannot for the life of me remember how I figured it out, but I suspect that I saw the picture along with the guy's username, pjw. A quick image search for 'pjw' brings up the picture, and from that I got the name: Peter Weinberger.

It turns out, he was a researcher at Bell Labs a while back, and then he was the "Director of Computer Sciences" or something like that. He was involved in early work in digital photography, and he left a head shot lying around and someone scanned it and started putting it everywhere as a joke. It also became a test image for showing off digital image processing.

Apparently, this is a long-standing geek meme. I thought I kept up on most of those, but this is one I missed entirely.

Anyway, mystery solved! So, does he work at Google? I look him up, and, sure enough, he does. I look at the picture on his internal page, and he looks vaguely -- wait -- oh my god.

This guy has been sitting behind me, in the next cubicle-pen, the entire time I've worked here. I even had a conversation with him and some others a while back.

It's a small world here.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I am big fan of Richard Clarke. He's a capable counter-terrorism expert, honest to a fault, and the only person to apologize for the 9/11 attacks. Which is actually kind of inappropriate, since he tried over and over to get the Bush administration to heed his warnings, and was ignored every time.

Also, he looks like a baby eagle.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Spam of the day

From: "Tamara Acevedo"
Subject: Pay less for luxury and qualitative watches.
Hmm! Quantitative watches give me a lot of stress, what with all those numbers telling me I'm late. A qualitative watch sounds a lot more laid back.