Monthly Archives: January 2009

New York Times

So Carlos Slim has taken a stake in The New York Times. I have been wondering who might step up to the plate since the clock is ticking. Either Carlos knows something we don’t or he is going to learn some of the same lessons as Sam Zell who bought Tribune Co. Tribune is current in bankruptcy. The game has changed and there are going to be winners and losers. I would bet that New York Times is going to be a loser. Even people I know who read it online everyday would not pay for it. News is now expected to be free. There are a few sites that may survive that I follow WSJ, FT and other sites that are important to high income people. However the idea that a news paper is going to be at the for front of modern media is patently ludicrous. The flip side is that Digg is not the answer either. Digg has never made money and I don’t expect it to anytime in the near future if ever.

So where does that leave us? NYT is going to hobble along as it slips into irrelevance. There will be consolidation in the media market. I expect that Reuters and AP will be the ultimate winners, providing global content to media outlets. Newspapers do not have the scale or the value add to be an effective product in today’s market.

The Ascent of Money

If you consider yourself a financial neophyte or are confused by what is going on today check out The Assent of Money. It is a good overview even if it glosses over some of the more technical details of modern finance. I don’t completely agree with his assessment of quantitative finance. There are many firms that are not quants that are down considerably. RenTech still seems to be raking in the money.

Considering his example of LTCM it seems that an unhedged (or partially hedged) bet on volatility across the world is asking for trouble. All strategies that revolve around that then can become correlated. If I have learned anything it is that in a crises all (or almost all) correlation goes to 1. Still black box systems can and do work and program trading will continue to grow.

On to eBay

So as has been well documented on the web Positronic has been acquired by eBay. I spent last week on campus at eBay learning about every aspect of the company, everything from how the business is run and balancing buyer and seller needs to technology. I will be relocating to the bay area next month along with the rest of Positronic. I am very excited about this opportunity to work on search technology for an extremely large scale service. For eBayers I will be running an internal blog. I will post the address when it is up. It will be updated far more frequently than this blog ever will.

The last 9 months has seen my abilities grow tremendously. Possibly the most major influence on me has been Nathan Howell formerly of the spam team at Microsoft. I have been fully embracing asynchronous programming and functional programming (F#). Nathan has also taught me a lot about building extremely scalable systems. I wish I could dive into the details of some of our projects but alas I cannot.

On my own time I have been working on scratching one of my itches. I hate it when blogs talk about the same things, particularly tech blogs. Who really needs to read about Cuil from 10 different sources? I am a huge fan of figuring out how to digest the largest amount of information possible. Part of that is eliminating duplicate information to maximize time utilization. To that end I am working on a project that uses clustering techniques to eliminate duplicate news stories. The early results are encouraging however I am still really working getting the base tech working reliably. I am not tackling the problem of find relevant information, just eliminating duplicates. I will post more here over the next few weeks/months.

.Net 4.0 is shaping up to be awesome. I love LINQ in 3.5. It has really changed the way that I write a lot of code as well as think about problems. There are a whole class of components and technologies that can probably be represented as LINQ expression trees. I have been following a couple of projects that are LINQ providers for CUDA and probably eventually OpenCL. I am extremely interested in doing some GPU programming and I am going to procuring a CUDA card in the near future as soon as a crack my case and check my power supply wattage.

On the topic of power I have been reading James Hamilton’s blog and have found to be very interesting. James breaks everything in a data center down into numbers and that makes for very interesting reading. I really like how when he makes a statement about why something is better or worse he has numbers to go with it. If you have not read his posts on solid state drives they are an absolute must. If you consider yourself to have an influence on hardware architecture at your organization James’s blog is a must read.

My goal for the next few months is to become a much better powershell user. I have started using it and I want to be much faster and be able to use it for many more things than I do right now.