Google employees get to work on personal projects

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With the announcement that Google Releases Orkut Social Networking Service comes this interesting nugget:

All employees at Google are allowed to spend twenty percent of their time working on personal interests, a policy Google has to encourage creativity.

What an amazing policy! Many companies would look at that as wasted time, which it would be if you had lackluster, unenthusiastic employees. But if you’ve got employees that dig what they do, this seems like a great way to experiment in whole new areas (while making employees that much happier). Bravo, Google.

Super Size Me: foolish anti-McD documentary

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Super Size Me is the documentary created by a guy who ate nothing but McDonald’s food for a month:

Within a few days of beginning his drive-through diet, Spurlock, 33, was vomiting out the window of his car, and doctors who examined him were shocked at how rapidly Spurlock’s entire body deteriorated.

This seems amazingly obvious, particularly because he was probably trying to eat unhealthy food. Tell ya what… try another experiment. Spend 30 days eating nothing but Wendy’s (assuming he’s too sick of McD to go back there), and have nothing but salads (with low fat dressing) and grilled chicken. I’ll bet he comes out a lot better in the end, and I bet he could do the same at McDonald’s.

Having unhealthy food is always fun from time to time, but eating obviously unhealthy food frequently is just plain dumb.

My Yahoo! adds RSS feed reading!

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Jeremy Zawodny talks about the launch of My Yahoo! RSS Beta. Way cool. I’m already a My Yahoo! user, and this may be just the thing for me to kick the Amphetadesk habit. My Yahoo! is great, because I can access it everywhere.

I use the Amphetadesk outline view, and would be interested in a presentation somewhat more like that.

The Ant Rebellion

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Jon Tirsen, Martin Fowler, and Bruce Eckel have all written recently about stumbling blocks that they’ve run into with Ant. The problem is that Ant is great when it does what you want, but if something doesn’t do what you need, there’s no full-fledged programming language to get the job done. So, Jon uses Ruby to control his build, Martin has started playing with Rake (a Ruby-based make), and Bruce is generating his Ant build files. Some other set of people use Maven to theoretically simplify their builds, but that’s not exactly the same as handling complex builds.

All of this might explain why Ant 1.6 appears to include the Script task. The Script task lets you use any BSF compatible language (of which there are many) to add more complex logic to your build. Scriptdef goes even farther, letting you create new Ant tasks in scripting languages.

Using those tools, you can take advantage of Ant’s relative ubiquity and the fact that people know how to run Ant, while being able to make your builds as complex as they need to be. I’d rather leave Ant in charge of my build process (making it easier to jack into things like Anthill) and script the complex parts.

MySQL graphical administration tool

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Sure, there are plenty of web and rich client GUIs for managing MySQL, but none look as spiffy as MySQL AB’s just announced MySQL Administrator. That looks very slick, and I think the timing is good as MySQL’s feature set grows to handle more “enterprise class” applications. GPL/commercial license, soon to be available for Windows and Linux.

State of the Union by the numbers

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The Independent has gathered up a bunch of stats to show the real state of the union, and it’s not pretty. Some figures seem to be there for dramatic effect and are not very meaningful. Some are enlightening, though. (Did you know that 88% of American households will save less than $100 because of the capital gains cuts, whereas Cheney will save more than $100,000?)