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When Google acquired blogging startup Blogger in February 2003, nobody foresaw that two years later Google will earn the ignominious distinction of being one of the first corporations to fire an employee for blogging. In January of this year, Mark Jen a new Google hire was sent packing for a blogging offense. Mark Jen writes in his blog: “I was terminated from google. either directly or indirectly, my blog was the reason. this came as a…

Microsoft’s now retracted acquisition bid for Yahoo has been endlessly analysed in the media and myriad explanations have been offered for Microsoft’s interest in Yahoo. Analysts have generally assumed the obvious that Microsoft made the bid in order to acquire Yahoo. Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, though, does not agree with this assumption. He has publicly claimed that Microsoft did not intend to acquire Yahoo. Some analysts have dismissed Jerry Yang’s claim as self-serving, but this can not be so.…

Many problems require the use of randomly generated permutations, kpermutations, and ksubsets. Simple and efficient algorithms exist for producing these combinatorial objects; however, these algorithms are somewhat subtle and most people do not intuitively understand them. The algorithm for generating random permutations is the most significant of these algorithms, and the other algorithms are simple variants of this algorithm. Permutations are rearrangements of items where the order the items are listed in is important. For…

Lego launched the Lego Mindstorms line of programmable toy brick construction sets with a lot of fanfare back in the fall of 1998, but in recent years the company has lost all enthusiasm for the Mindstorms line. For several years now, Lego has not introduced any new Mindstorms sets, and the company has discontinued almost everything in the Mindstorms line apart from the core Robotics Invention System (RIS) set. Sadly, even the RIS is not…

What does Windows Minesweeper do to make sure a mine is not uncovered on the first click? According to Ivars Peterson’s Minesweeper Logic page, if a mine is uncovered on the first click, it is moved to the upper-left corner of the board. If the upper-left corner is occupied the mine is moved to the right of it. This link on the other hand claims a bit more eccentric behavior for Minesweeper first click. I decided to investigate and…

The Solitaire game Klondike has a few idiosyncracies: not all Klondike games are solvable. Moreover, Klondike sometimes produces unplayable games. In such cases no moves are available to the player even at the beginning of the game. The probability of occurrence of unplayable games is an important number as it is a lower bound for the probability of occurrence of unsolvable games. Klondike, the version bundled with Windows, consists of seven stacks of cards containing…

Security in all mainstream operating systems is non-existent; however, things are especially bad for Windows. Windows happens to be the favorite target of worm and virus writers. Conventional wisdom suggests that the huge installed base of Windows helps spread the worms and viruses, and also makes it a highly attractive target for worm/virus writers. The installed base of Windows certainly has an undeniable effect on the prevalence of malware on Windows, but this is not…