Monday, October 31, 2005

Google Print Beta

John Moran wrote about Google Print in his most recent column. So I decided to give it a try.

First, I tried to search for an excerpt from the Quote du Jour. It would be nice to provide you with a link to the quote's context, I thought. I entered "Wonderfully ingenious" (sans quotes) into the textbox and clicked Search. I quickly got 1110 separate hits. But the first 40 were not from the Quote du Jour, and I got tired of clicking "Next."

So then I tried, "indicating the automatic ticket machines," which is another excerpt from the Quote du Jour, but I got only six hits, and no keepers.

I suppose one reason Google Print is in beta is because Google hasn't scanned in a complete set of printed material. Or perhaps the reason Google hasn't scanned in a more complete set of printed material is because the service is in beta.

Surely, they've scanned in the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" books. Well, I tried it out. I entered, "discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here." This returned 51 pages. The first four hits had the exact quote that I had in mind. Oddly, not one of them was from the Douglas Adams book that I obtained the quote from. Instead, the hits were for books that quoted the Douglas Adams sentence. One book, ""Encarta Book of Quotations," had a total of fourteen quotes from various books by Douglas Adams.

It's an impressive start. I hope Google continues to add content. It will tremendously enhance the World Wide Web.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Bankruptcy Law Fails to Keep Creditors in Line

NPR's report on the new bankruptcy legislation, which goes into effect in less than two hours, piqued my interest.

First, is the timing of the bill. Why now? People have been going bankrupt for years. But now that consumer debt is at an all-time high, and both inflation and interest rates are poised to increase, lenders are worried about losing their shorts unless bankruptcy laws are revised.

Second is how the report mentioned that consumer advocate groups opposed the legislation because it lets lenders off the hook. I agree. You'd think if a company were going to lend money to someone, it'd make sure the person seems responsible enough to pay back the loan. But that's not happening. Just sift through a week's worth of junk mail and count how many offers you get for home equity loans and credit cards. Lenders are saving money by failing to properly screen applicants, and now they've gotten the government to enforce payment.

What the bill/law should do is penalize the "worst" lenders in some way. Here's how. Whichever lender has the "most money" in default should be forced to forgive those debts. By "most money," I mean the highest ratio of money in default to total loan money in any given month. This makes it fair for large lenders.

So in November, when Capital One complains that it extended $1M to customers and $100K cannot be paid back, the government can respond, "Sorry, but no other company has anything as large as 10% of its loans in bankruptcy court. You're an irresponsible lender, and you're not entitled to get it back."

This might lead to a stalled economy. After all, our economy is fueled by irrational credit spending. But it might also lead to lenders that take an interest in its customers.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My Harry Potter Alter Ego



You scored as Severus Snape. Well you're a tricky one aren't you? Nobody quite has you figured out and you'd probably prefer it stayed that way. That said you are a formidable force by anyone's reckoning, but there is certainly more to you than a frosty exterior and a bitter temper.

Discover your Harry Potter alter ego

...created with QuizFarm.com

Sunday, October 02, 2005

List of Books I've Read Recently

Click to jump to my LibaryThing catalog, which is up-to-date as of August 2008, or view the list below, which I've stopped maintaining in June.

Fiction

Non-Fiction