God is not Great

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens. This book has many reviews already, there's no point in trying to write one more. Hitchens brings vividly the inconsistencies in religious philosophy forward and he finds these in every major religion of contemporary times. Whereas some reviews compress his writing into a simplified label "radical atheist", his book is much more than so often seen scribblings by barely literate fundamentalists or even worse, in this day and time, the sending of messages by beheading people on poorly taped TV. The book brings facets of the interplay of society and religion, the long history of this relation and some of the sour fruits of it including those of religious power over society. The best word for the book is given by Mr. Hitchens himself, I had the privilege to attend Mr. Hitchen's talk at Google in Mountain View and I am happy we are able to share this talk with the public.

Mashing up and where do I work

The coming year promises to bring a new face to many web apps, mashing up content from different sources is becoming easier by the day. I am going to test some of these ideas on this blog and file it under Mashups. The idea behind mashups is simple leave the lifting to those who do it best, and concentrate on where you add value to the chain, be it your friends or your customers. Here's an example, the Google Maps team just announced adding 8 new cities to the street view layer on What's interesting to me is not the eight new cities but the ability to add the street view snippet into my own, in this case, blog post. So here, today I'll share the street where I work and point visiting friends to it. Note one little but important detail, to get the right html snippet you have to use the URL to navigate to the right place and not, this will change in the future but right now you have to be aware of

Why Web 2.0 and how I started to move off the server

I have to admit, being a computer hack for 25+ years I really love to meddle with software on my own. I have my own servers plugged to the Internet and I have ways and ways to make them useful to myself. It started way back in the Andresen days with pics my family could peek at and then it went more and more complex with more and more stuff running on them. But I am fed up now, the tipping point for me was wordpress. Not because it's a bad piece of software, I just grew tired of moderating a whole pile of comments whose content was just a pile of spam. I loved the geeky aspect of being able to grep through log files or setup cron jobs to move files between raid servers. However, at the end of the day. It's not cutting it. I spend too much time worrying over those details where I could be writing about a good book I read and how it changed my perspective (Steve thank you for the comment). I moved to blogger though anything similar will do. No more fuss and more time to do creat

The Oil and the Glory

The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea by Steve LeVine. Steve LeVine covered Central Asia and the Caucasus for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times for 11 years — starting two weeks after the Soviet collapse through 2003. From 1988-1991, LeVine was Newsweek's Pakistan-based correspondent for that country and Afghanistan. While the book doesn't have the documented rigor of say Taubman's biography on Khruschev it is quite clear that Steve knows very well the region; central Asia, the Caucasus and Russia. Moreover the book is vivid in both historical detail and the well rounded detail on the cast of players. It's importance is not only in shedding light the light on the region it covers, but even more so into understanding the dynamics at play in some of world's most influential corporations. The book has a great balance of historical context and a detailed account of the power struggles around the oil in the Caspian basin

Hello world

Welcome! These are the notes of Boris Debic, a Silicon Valley veteran currently hacking at Google. Once I fill up this place you should find lines on technology, science, reading and of course politics. My interests are currently split between complex software systems, the technology needed to send humans to Mars and international politics of concern to small countries. For historical reasons I keep an eye on UNHCR and Croatia as well.

Aerial View of Google’s Solar Installation

The Google solar installation is the largest corporate solar electric installation in the world generating about 1.6 MW which covers about 30% of our electrical need in the campus in Mountain View. The panels, 9212 of them or about 20 shipping containers, are installed on roofs and newly erected carports. The specs for the Sharp ND208U1F are here. They generate 208 W of power (max.) with an efficiency of 12.8% and these days sell retail for about $1150. Fourteen 208 Watt solar modules are wired in series in each circuit with the output DC voltage sent to one of 10 SatCon Power Inverters. The inverters, which are tied into Google’s power system and the state grid, convert the generated DC voltage into utility-grade AC with 96% efficiency. The system covers almost 20,000 square meters of flat roof space and parking lot shades, it will generate over 2.6 million kWH of energy per year saving almost $400,000 annually. At this rate, the system which has an expected lifetime of 30 years,

Visit to the SETI Institute and CMU West

Shortly after our NASA visit we had a tour of SETI and a demo of the Senseta robotics platform we are considering for the NASA / Mars Society project. More on this with images from both places are posted now here . Moreover, I am hosting Dr. Shostak for a tech talk at Google in April. I’ll post a link to the video of the talk in due time. For the time being here’s a short summary. “The scientific hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence is now into its fifth decade, and we still haven’t uncovered a confirmed peep from any cosmic company. Could this mean that finding aliens, even if they exist, is a project for the ages — one that might take centuries or longer? New technologies for use in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) suggest that, despite the continued dearth of signals from other societies, there is good reason to expect that success might not be far off — that we might find evidence of sophisticated civilizations within a few decades. Why this is so, what cont