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day permlink Wednesday, 5 June 2002

permlink benefit concert

Public Service Announcement: People of Earth: You may well be interested in a June 16 benefit concert in Oakland, CA featuring the Bobs and two opening acts, Oswald Giraffe (containing talented former bandmate David Taylor, tenor/Elvis) and the eclectic, acclaimed bunch that is SoVoSo.

All proceeds will go directly to "the Albany Music Fund, an organization dedicated to preserving music in the Albany Unified School District. As a result of severe budget shortfalls, the music program in Albany has been drastically cut back."

The concert is on Father's Day, June 16 at 4:00 at the First Congregational Church in Oakland, CA, 2501 Harrison St. $25 general admission, $20 for Dads with kids in tow, $15 for kids under 18. General seating. For Reservations: 510-559-8474 or mail ehecht[at] Tickets also available at the door.

That is all. permlink  

permlink forgivign... i mean forgiving search support

Feature request for the universe: Google has a lovely feature where they correct for errors in misspelled search terms; if you type in a term wrong, it will offer an alternative that might be what you meant (and if your first search found no results, it will automatically run the suggested search for you). For example, searching for peter gabrile gives you the response 'Did you mean: peter gabriel?' instead of merely a listing of unhelpful pages with the same misspelling as you.

Desktop application developers should license the idea or the approximate-matching code from Google (unless it's freely borrowable, in which case woohoo). I'd love to be able to search within a web page or a word processing document with that sort of forgiving search support from the computer.

If my finger slips when I type 'duke' in the 'Find...' form on a web page (like it just did a few minutes ago, actually), I'd like IE/Opera/Mozilla/iCab to tell me "There were no occurrences of 'dujke' on this page. Here are some similar words in this document that you might have meant..." with a set of buttons which would run those alternate searches. Save me time and keystrokes, my underused CPU!

...if any browser or word processor or text editor makers are out there listening... permlink     2 comment(s)  
Spelling correction is part of the Google API, so any application can do Google-strength spelling correction. That's not a perfect solution for a couple reasons: The Google API is currently in Beta and it's not supported enough for commercial applications to use it with confidence, and it only corrects in the global context, not the local context of a task like searching a specific document. But these things are possible; all it takes is (a perceived potential of) customers.
      ...posted by Seth on June 5, 2002 6:31 PM
If you're building your own code for some project and want do do this sort of thing, then there are freely available algorithms to help you out.

Soundex and metaphone and doublemetaphone find a phonetic equivilant for words. You can build a reverse index from a suitably large dictionary and reccomend words that sound like the user's input when their input isn't in your dictionary and/or doesn't return many results.

Hamming and Levenshtein distance can tell you the number of places with different characters, and the number of edits required to get from one string to the other (respectively). You might be able to use this to suggest alternate words, but I think your best bet would be to use these to narrow down your results from the phonetic reverse index.

You can also leverage knowledge of keyboard distance to identify likely 'jk' or 'j' instead of 'k' errors.

I've never written a spellchecker, but I imagine most of them take advantage of the above, along with a short list of the most common errors, and strategies to address transposed letters and common language-specific issues (double vs single letters, i before e except blah blah blah).

The technology is freely available, for those who have interest and time and don't have marketing folks pushing them to release ASAP with just the features they've already printed on the shiney new box :)

      ...posted by matt on June 6, 2002 7:51 PM
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permlink MASH D*V*Ds

The M*A*S*H D*V*Ds have an option to view the episodes without the laugh track. Excellent. Every DVD of every TV comedy should be like that.

Crassly commercial links: M*A*S*H Season One, M*A*S*H Season Two (at Amazon) permlink  

permlink nytimes bonehead move

Just because you're the New York Times doesn't mean you can't do something really, really stupid like give all of your paying customers trivially-guessable passwords in your new e-commerce system:

Sure, Security Is Hard, But... [O'Reilly Network]
If I can get access to your account, I can buy articles from the New York Times' archive and have them charged to your credit card without you knowing about it ... That right there is the core definition of an ecommerce vulnerability, and here's one of the premier media organizations in the world making such an attack trivial.

How hard would it have been for the New York Times to send random passwords to its premium users rather than easily guessable passwords? ... The cost of doing things much more securely instead of insecurely would have been $0.00.

Information about the importance of choosing a good password can be found at -- yup, that's right, in an article published by the New York Times.
If you're a subscriber, change your password now. permlink  

permlink mozilla

Mozilla 1.0's "release branch has been cut", meaning that the code is done barring some last-minute tweaks, but 1.0 is not yet officially released.

I haven't installed any Mozillas on my Windows box; even though it's not done done, I think I'll go ahead now. Just-about-1.0 Mozilla builds...

Update: Well, raise my rent: later today they released it for real. permlink  

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