…and we… ARE BPS

6 February, 2011 § Leave a comment

Every week I am happy to hear and see more poetry coming out of the members of the MSU Black Poet Society. Last week featured many poets during the open mic session.

I uploaded three new videos to show off from two of our newer members: Resheid Jackson and Erika Crawley.

Our next event will be on Tuesday night at 8pm at The Advantage Takeover program in Conrad Hall. Come on out and get some inspiration.

What happened to Google SMS?

5 February, 2011 § 1 Comment

I’ve been using Google SMS now for a couple years. It allows users of “feature-phones” basic access to some of the luxuries that smart-phone users get.

Google SMS Search is accessible by sending a text message to 466453. It’s free and quick.

For instance, sending a message ncaab michigan state would reply with:

Basketball: NCAA
Michigan State Spartans (13-9)
Last game: Feb 2, Iowa Hawkeyes 72 - Michigan State Spartans 52
Next game: @ Wisconsin Badgers, Feb 6 1:00pm ET

Tip: get phonebook entries: send HELP PHONEBOOK to learn more.

This works great, providing up-to-date sports scores, local listings, and more. Lately I’ve been getting odd results when doing sports searches:

Here’s what I saw today when sending the same message ncaab michigan state:

Did you mean 'NCAAF michigan state'?

Basketball: NCAA
Michigan State Spartans (13-9)
Last game: Feb 2, Iowa Hawkeyes 72 - Michigan State Spartans 52
Next game: @ Wisconsin Badgers, Feb 6 1:00pm ET

Tip: get phonebook entries: send HELP PHONEBOOK to learn more.

No, I didn’t want football scores. In fact, college football is out of season. According to the command HELP SPORTS:

For EU Football and NBA/NHL/NFL/MLB scores and schedules, 
type SCORE and team name (ex: 'SCORE Arsenal', 'SCORE red sox').

For NCAA sports, enter NCAAB (basketball) or NCAAF (football)
and team name (ex: 'NCAAB Duke', 'NCAAF USC'). No results for sports 
not in season.

So yes, I didn’t get results for a sport not in season. But the response that I got is pretty awkward. In the traditional Google search, when you get a “Did you mean…”, it will usually auto-correct your search for you and return those results. In this case, it didn’t auto-correct my search.

So what happens if I do send a message with NCAAF michigan state?

Local listings:
State of Michigan: Branch Offices
400 Albert Avenue
East Lansing
1 (888) 767-6424

Tip: check flight status; send HELP FLIGHT to learn more.

Weird huh? All of this used to work as it prescribed. I wonder what has happened?

A response to “Comments: A Dissenting Opinion”

4 February, 2011 § 5 Comments

This past Thursday, our second post of the new Dev Corner was published and featured thoughts on code comments from Matt Mercieca.

The post is really well written and generated a lot of conversations within our internal development blog at TechSmith. Code comments are one of my bike-shed problems (I prefer green by the way), but I do feel inclined to respond.

Much of the post pits “how-comments” versus “why-comments”. I believe that it is well understood that “how-comments” are little cared for. For example, the comment in the following code offers no value to the reader:

//print out array
for(var i in objects) {

However, the “why-comments” is where the real discussion is. Respectfully, I stand on a different side of the fence when it comes to “why-comments”. I believe that what can be written as a comment can also be written as a function or variable name. Consider the following two code samples:

var printOrders1 = function()  {
  // this query is a hack due to weird SQL Server Query Optimizer bug
  var orders = sqlConnection.execute('SELECT TOP 1000 FROM tblOrders WHERE ...');

var printOrders2 = function()  {
  var executeQueryForOrdersWithHackForQueryOptimizer = function () {
    return sqlConnection.execute('SELECT TOP 1000 FROM tblOrders WHERE ...');
  var orders = executeQueryForOrdersWithHackForQueryOptimizer();

I feel that the second version contains the same information as the first version, but will be read more often. As code gets duplicated (unfortunately), sometimes comments get stripped. It is less likely that a function like this will get renamed to a more innocent name.

Where do you stand?

Google I/O 2011: No love for Academia?

2 February, 2011 § 3 Comments

Reading blogs on the web would make one believe that attendees of last year’s Google I/O conference are allowed to register January 31, a week before general registration opens.

Yet a couple days ago I received an email telling me to “mark my calendar for February 7th, when general registration will open.”  Last year I attended the conference using the Academia discount, and as far as I can tell, the Academia discount is the reason why there is no preference.

Why isn’t Google showing appreciation to their peers in academia?

Blizzappoccageddon 2011 hits mid-Michigan

1 February, 2011 § 1 Comment

Frosty February / The Old Snowy OakTonight mid-Michigan is expecting a gluttony of snow to land on our doorstep. So much snow that TechSmith has closed the offices tomorrow and Michigan State University has cancelled classes.

In the spirit of the weather, I wanted to plug two great things about TechSmith:


TechSmith’s software allows educators to fight blizzards like superheroes. When universities cancel classes and webinars are cancelled, software like Camtasia Studio and Camtasia Relay can step in and save the day. Both of these products allow presenters to record their presentations outside of the classroom, and email out recordings to students.


The company culture is great! From ugly-holiday-sweater day to conference rooms named after classic video games, everywhere you turn you’re in for a surprise. For example, my favorite room for scheduling meetings in is Galaga, where we have our own Plinko board. If you’ve been lucky enough to grab one of our prized possessions, a TechSmith titanium spork, then you’ll love what got cooked up today at the office.

With the blizzappoccageddon approaching, we wanted a way to measure the snowfall. What better way than to build a giant “titanium” spork? A Paul Bunyan-sized spork was constructed, and planted outside of one of our buildings. The company is live-streaming the snowstorm, and we’ll have a timelapse video to share when the storm leaves mid-Michigan.


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