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Friday, May 09, 2008

MicroHoo Humor

For most part, the whole episode between Yahoo and M$ over the takeover effort has left Yahoo in a very bad light in the blogosphere and it has not spared M$ either. I am also disappointed that most bloggers want to look at very small evidence to write Yahoo off completely as soon as possible. Though I have worked in two offices - Bangalore and MC1 during this time and visited numerous teams and met with a good 200 members of the engineering team, I just don't see the bad morale that Kara keeps writing about. Maybe thats something only the VPs do or maybe something that they express only to Kara but not to the colleagues in the workplace. Quite possible.

Personally, I feel it was a fair business decision for M$ to come after us and it was a fair decision making process from Yang and co and so far as I am doing my good engineering work and getting things out of the door, I don't care about all this. My morale is up and the group I work for (YPOST for the Yahoos) is doing some good work that all I can do is look into the future.

Anyhow, the point of the post was not to rant against Kara, but to blog about the excellent post by Kevin Maney who compares the whole episode to a college dating thingy. Copied below (beware MSFTites: humor against your dear CEO):

Let's parse the Reuters story with this perspective in mind.

Microsoft gauged Facebook's interest in a possible acquisition after the software giant's failed takeover attempt of Yahoo, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Steve, frustrated and hurt after being spurned by Yahoo, got out the yearbook, found the most popular girl of the moment, and decided to go for her whether he really wanted to or not.

The newspaper reported on its website that Microsoft's bankers put out subtle signals to Facebook, the social networking website, to see if it would be open to a full acquisition. Steve didn't want to be rejected again, so he got his friends to feel out her interest.

The talks were first reported by website All Things Digital, owned by Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones. One of his friends told the school gossip, who of course blabbed to everybody.

Facebook spokeswoman Brandee Barker declined to comment on the report. Microsoft officials were not immediately available for comment. The girl's sidekick girlfriend wouldn't let on whether she knew this happened or not. When asked, Steve's friends also refused to say whether Steve was actually interested.

In October, Microsoft took a $240 million stake in Facebook, which valued the start-up at $15 billion. Citing an unnamed source, the report said there are no active discussions between the two companies. Steve, a senior and a BMOC, flirted with Facebook last fall, immediately raising her profile, but nothing much happened between the two of them after that.

The news came a few days after Microsoft dropped its unsolicited offer to buy Yahoo for $47.5 billion. The aim of that proposal was to build an online advertising powerhouse to rival Google. Steve's interest in Facebook is seen as a rebound thing.

Facebook, founded in 2004 by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, has become one of the hottest properties on the internet because of its rapid growth and the loyalty of its users. Facebook has more than 70 million active users. But Facebook has in the past year turned into a hottie, and Steve probably can't get her now.

The museum for geeks

Most geeks I know of don't give a damn about Museums. I have known a lot of geeks, but I am still not confident that I can make a generalization out of it. But I did find one museum which I believe would be interesting for geeks too - Computer History Museum at Mountain View, CA. I visited it last Saturday with Manav and had a great time.

Apart from the machines or reproduction of machines from over 100 years, they also have free guided tours. They also have been working on restoring old machines like the PDP-1 and have also obtained one of the world's two Babbage Machines. We were lucky enough to witness a live working demo of the PDP-1 when we want and the Babbage Engine is going to be inaugurated this Saturday. If you are interested in these things, head out there this weekend.

I will share a bunch of photos along with some descriptions:

The worlds first router, though it was called "Interface Message Processor" back then.

Peter telling us about the PDP1. He also told us the story of how he lost the punch cards for the original music he wrote and how he got it back 40 years later at the musuem and how they reconstructed the program to synthesize the music and how he manage to restore everything together. The demo was a once in a lifetime experience.

Peter Samson and Stephen Rusell are live demoing the PDP-1 to us. Peter wrote the first music software, which synthesized 4 tunes and it was written on a PDP 1 and he actually demoed the original 40 year old music program to us. Stephen wrote the first Video Game, again on a PDP 1 and he also demoed it us. It had 4 controls - one each for Left and Right, one for shooting and one to go into Hyper Space. You probably guessed right that it was a Space Wars game. The amazing constraints of the machines then and the significance of the game on that was quite marvellous to experience.

Me trying to play the world's first ever video game. Peter Samson and Stephen Rusell look on.

A gimmick of a computer, priced at $10,600 and meant to be installed in a kitchen and used for storing recipes. At that time, you could buy a home in that money and apparently not a single piece was ever sold.

Thats an IBM 360. It was a dream to see the legendary system. It was the first series of machine that IBM designed to be compatible across multiple versions and the backward compatibility to that instruction set has been maintained till today.

Computer connected to a radar used for detecting Russian bombers over the North Pole. These were deployed near the Canadian Border, had a 100% success rate (US was never bombed over the NP). It had a light gun to capture input and also had a small ashtray and a lighter. How cool of a workstation was that!!

This machine was used for counting people and their details in a Census. This was a machine built by Hollerith whose organization eventually became IBM. (I don't know why I was posing like that!!)

The Babbage engine - only 1 of 2 ever built. It was conceived by Charles Babbage but never executed, but was completed in 2008. It will be inaugrated on May 10 at the Musuem.

For more photos check out the Flickr photo stream.

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