Tech Stars Open Their Doors For A Silicon Valley Halloween

Halloween in Silicon Valley is a chance to meeet a tech pop star, or at least to dress like one

3 min read
Tech Stars Open Their Doors For A Silicon Valley Halloween
Photo: Tekla Perry

Silicon Valley’s tech stars generally keep a low profile, and people generally let them, trying not to stare or intrude when they spot them around town. But on Halloween, the tech illuminati light up the night and open their doors. And parents gawk at the often over-the-top but decidedly low-tech decorations while the kids line up to get a candy bar—often a really large candy bar—and a “You’re Welcome” direct from Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, or Google’s Larry Page.

imgYahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is ready for Halloween.Photo: Tekla Perry

Last year, Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, carried on the family’s tradition of extreme Halloween decorating with a stunning display of dozens of hand-carved Jack-O-Lanterns on pikes of different heights; it looks like a similar display will go up today; as of Thursday, post holes were dug and carved pumpkins stockpiled.

imgCarved pumpkins will be stacked to form totem poles when the Jobs family celebrates Halloween.Photo: Tekla Perry

Jobs’ neighbors, like Google co-founder Larry Page, go big on Halloween as well. So big that this year, no-parking signs have been posted and nearby streets may be closed to traffic.

imgPalo Alto is prepared for an onslaught of Trick-or-Treaters.Photo: Tekla Perry

Mayer’s house, meanwhile, has been sporting Halloween decorations for weeks—but the most impressive decorations are the gigantic array of carved pumpkins in the former parking lot of a nearby funeral home she recently purchased—and where she hosted her annual Halloween party on Sunday evening. Mayer is known for her impressive Halloween and Christmas parties—though this year there was some debate among neighbors about whether or not it was a proper use of a funeral home. My take: C’mon, if you owned a funeral home, wouldn’t you open it up for Halloween?

imgGiant pumpkins welcomed guests to Marissa Mayer’s Halloween party at a former funeral home.Photo: Tekla Perry

Of course, if your kid is going to trick or treat the tech stars, he or she might want to think tech for a Halloween costume. You could dress like a specific tech exec—black mock turtleneck and jeans, for example, or a hoodie and plain T-shirt with a touch of ginger in your hair. Or how about a generic tech geek?

imgKeep your eye on this gate—a Silicon Valley tech star will open it to trick-or-treaters on Halloween.Photo: Tekla Perry

I’ve seen a fair number of iPods and iPhones come to the door (gotta save those old appliance cartons). One of my kids once dressed as the original iPod guy—only the techiest people “got it,” the rest thought he was a mime.

imgOnly the tech cognoscenti recognized this costumed character as “The iPod Guy”Photo: Tekla Perry

There will also be kids dressed as their favorite video game characters, of course. But what could be scarier than a “dead” social network?

imgHere’s a way to be spooky in Silicon Valley: trick or treat Mark Zuckerberg’s house as the ghost of a dead social network.Photo: Tekla Perry

I’ll be tweeting out the techiest costumes as the night goes on at twitter.com/TeklaPerry. In the meantime, Happy Silicon Valley Halloween.

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From WinZips to Cat GIFs, Jacob Ziv’s Algorithms Have Powered Decades of Compression

The lossless-compression pioneer received the 2021 IEEE Medal of Honor

11 min read
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Photo of Jacob Ziv
Photo: Rami Shlush
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Lossless data compression seems a bit like a magic trick. Its cousin, lossy compression, is easier to comprehend. Lossy algorithms are used to get music into the popular MP3 format and turn a digital image into a standard JPEG file. They do this by selectively removing bits, taking what scientists know about the way we see and hear to determine which bits we'd least miss. But no one can make the case that the resulting file is a perfect replica of the original.

Not so with lossless data compression. Bits do disappear, making the data file dramatically smaller and thus easier to store and transmit. The important difference is that the bits reappear on command. It's as if the bits are rabbits in a magician's act, disappearing and then reappearing from inside a hat at the wave of a wand.

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