Obama: not bubble-sort

Nerds will find humor in this Eric Schmidt/Barack Obama quote about sorting:

Pretending to be a technologist isn’t always advisable here, but Obama gave a convincing answer on his visit to the Googleplex in November when he was asked by chief executive Eric Schmidt about “the most efficient way to sort a million 32-bit integers,” a problem in computer coding. (Obama apparently had been given the question in advance and was told it stumped McCain on his visit to Google.)

Without missing a beat, Obama said, correctly, “I think the bubble sort would be the wrong way to go.” Then he smiled.

“C’mon, who told him that?” Schmidt asked.

(thanks alan)

Fixing NPR’s pledge drive

I swear that every week is an NPR pledge drive. I know they say they only do it a few times a year, but every time I feel like one just ended. Every time my response to the whole affair is, “if you really want me to pledge, give the option of paying my way out of this radio hell you call a pledge drive.”

I think the technology has come far enough that they could. I connect to WNYC through a web stream anyway, and I like my local channel (especially Soterious Johnson). I would easily pay $50 if they provided me with a unique stream that had a maximum of 1 connection and expired when the pledge drive ended. This stream could default to national programming when they’re yammering on about matching funds and special offers. I’m guessing that there would be a whole bunch of people just like me that would pay to make the pain go away.

Patrick Winston – How to Speak

Every year during MIT’s Independent Activities Period (IAP), Professor Patrick Winston gives a wonderfully reflexive and recursive talk about giving talks titled How to Speak. This lecture provides some useful speaking heuristics, especially if you’re in the business of helping people learn. This year the talk will be given Friday, Feburary 1 at 11am in room 6-120, but for those not in Boston, you can watch his 1999 performance in full (albeit a tad bit out-of-date):

B.J. Fogg at PARC today

B.J. Fogg, esteemed Stanford professor of persuasive computing, taught a class last semester about creating engaging Facebook applications. The students were, suffice to say, quite successful.

Mr. Fogg will be discussing the class today an open PARC forum titled, Facebook applications, mass persuasion, & world peace. The talk is 4-5pm at the George E. Pake Auditorium. It should be a pretty engaging discussion.