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2008 (old posts, page 2)

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Singapore entertainment

It's 7am on a Saturday morning and I'm wide awake as my body clock is still 15 hours ahead as I've spent the last week attending SIGIR 2008 in Singapore.

The conference itself was interesting. Lots of papers to review, ideas, discussion and other activity. We crammed a lot of material into just five days but it was well worth the trip. The planned schedule was fairly tight (early mornings, full days and a day-full of e-mail still generated from Redmond overnight) but a group of us still managed to make room for some evening excursions.

Sunday night: Conference reception at the hotel followed by late drinks at Clarke Quay, a row of ex-pat-attracting bars along the waterfront.

Monday evening: A trip to the Singapore Zoo and its excellent night safari. I'm often skeptical of such ideas but this is really well done. No fences in sight, everything is separated by ditches and water but you feel quite close to the animals.

Tuesday evening: Conference banquet at the Rasa Sentosa Hotel, Siloso Beach which happens to be a small island off the small island of Singapore. Buffet dinner on the beach watching the huge cargo ships passing by.

Wednesday evening: Guided by one of our coworkers who grew up in Singapore, we went to Little India, the overwhelming Mustafa Center, outdoor dining at Gluttons Bay and a late walk to the Merlion.

Thursday night: Orchard Road mall-hopping followed by an all-you-can-eat buffet at the Straits Kitchen in the Hyatt (excellent!).

All in all, a good trip. I am, however, very glad to be back in Seattle, free from the ceaseless humidity.

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Dr Gordon Freeman spotting

I swear I'm sitting directly opposite this guy. And he is not looking impressed. Traveling for 20 hours, I guess he's wishing those teleportation experiments had worked out a bit better.

Half-Life® 2

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Sitting on the floor, tethered to the wall

At every conference I've attended during my professional career, one fixture has been ever present: the cluster of people -- usually sitting on the floor in a hallway -- tethered to a short supply of wall outlet charging their laptops.

One can only help this scene will soon become a quaint relic of history.

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An afternoon in Singapore

I arrived in Singapore this morning where I'll be attending SIGIR 2008. There looks to be quite a few interesting papers and workshops so I think the next week will be quite interesting.

Meanwhile, since my original flight which was due to happen tomorrow was canceled, I caught an earlier one and got to spend some time today exploring. It's warm and humid here (not the punishing 100 degree heat I recall from last time) but I think my miles walked to pints sweated ratio was about 3:1 which is reasonable. I walked down the river, around the Parliament and Court buildings, over to Raffles Landing and Raffles City and a meandering walk back.

Singapore is a fascinating place. It has some similarity to many of the countries in this region -- Thailand, China, Malaysia, but it's much cleaner (no trash or graffiti), far more polite (definitely no spitting) and still has hints of the Empire (driving on the left, British wall plugs, written English everywhere).

Despite the "Death for drug traffickers under Singapore law" red text on the welcome form and some not-so-subtle signage, everything feels remarkably safe and friendly.

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More photos to follow but since I entirely missed Thursday July 17 this year, it's now time to catch up on some sleep.

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Rome wasn't built in a day

One has to take all of these numbers with a grain of salt, but still...

MSN/Live Only Major Search Engine with Higher Volume in June

No matter what the pundits say, the new Microsoft Cashback program along with some continued efforts on other marketing programs such as Club Live seem to have worked in June. MSN/Live search was the only major engine in June to post higher volumes of search queries. Everyone else, including the big dog Google (GOOG), saw a decline. This seems even more impressive when you put this in the context of the overall search market. Overall search query volume in the market declined nearly 5% m-o-m, from 9.6 billion in May to 9.1 billion in June.
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