When Natural Language Processing Goes Wrong

Was just cruising through my news updates over on ReadPath where I’ve got a subscription to the Google EngEdu videos. These are always great ways to get some in depth coverage of a geeky topic.

One of the latest ones gave me a quick laugh though. A video on Natural Language Processing had it’s title clipped by an algorithm down to “Practical Applications of Natural Language Processing in Ass… “, which if there were any natural language processing going on with the syndication feed, it might have realized there was a problem.

Just checked out Powerset

Can’t say that I’m really all that impressed. It wasn’t the shockingly better experience that I remember Google was when I first came across it. Some of the searches that I tested out seemed to be slightly better than Google, but I had to use contrived examples that I wouldn’t really use in everyday activities. These searches were simply designed to test Powerset’s strengths.

Couple this lack of noticeable improvement in search results along with the poor user experience due to site speed and I can’t say that I’ll be making the switch any time soon.

Always check the time

Found another one of those gotchas when debugging caching with multiple servers. Don’t make the assumption that ntpd is working properly and that the time is synchronized on all of the servers. I just spent a whole lot of time to finally discover that somehow a server had its times off by an hour. This caused some very weird effects to trickle out.