Archive for March, 2013

The Education Of An Algorithm

Dilbert Algorithm


30 March 2013 – The story starts in the early 20th century with one of those obscure academic squabbles that usually don’t amount to much. A mathematician and theologian named Pavel Nekrasov argued that since independent events follow the law of big numbers and social phenomena such as crime statistics do as well, then humans must have free will.

Andrei Markov, one of the great mathematicians of the day, thought Nekrasov’s argument was hogwash. After all, he noted, just because independent variables follow a certain mathematical law doesn’t mean that directed activity can’t do so as well.

To prove his point, he performed a mathematical analysis of Eugene Onegin, Pushkin’s famous novel in verse, and showed that the combinations of vowels and consonants followed the law of big numbers as well. A vowel, would most likely be followed by a consonant and vice versa, in proportions that became more stable as you analyzed more text.

And so, Markov succeeded in showing that dependent variables could yield distinct probabilities. It was the kind of interesting, but relatively useless insight that … Read more

10 quotes on cloud computing that really say it all



24 March 2013 – Plenty has been said or written on cloud computing in recent years — pro, con and somewhere in between. Periodically throughout the rise of cloud computing, there have been some real gems put out there, aptly describing what’s on people’s minds — and maybe what was needed to be said. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s famous “fashion-driven” analogy back in 2008 is the stuff of legend, and makes this list, compiled below.

Here are some memorable quotes and apropos quotes … compiled by Forbes magazine … about cloud that that have surfaced over the years:

1) “First to mind when asked what ‘the cloud’ is, a majority respond it’s either an actual cloud, the sky, or something related to weather.” – Citrix Cloud Survey Guide (August 2012)

2) “Ultimately, the cloud is the latest example of Schumpeterian creative destruction: creating wealth for those who exploit it; and leading to the demise of those that don’t.” – Joe Weinman, Senior VP at Telx and author of Cloudonomics: The Business Value of Cloud Computing

3) “Cloud computing

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The power of data visualization’s “Aha!” moments: an interview with Amanda Cox of The New York Times



19 March 2013 – Amanda Cox has been a graphics editor at the New York Times for eight years. Trained as a statistician, Cox develops visualizations across platforms, from simple print infographics to highly complex online interactive data tools. The Times is a visualization leader, but Cox believes the best is yet to come from this discipline, which she calls “both young and not young.” In an interview with the Harvard Business Review Blog Network Cox spoke about the Times’ approach to visualization and the power of “Aha!” moments:

Do you think data visualization is entering a time when it’s becoming a core communication tool?

I wish there were more examples in the high-end data viz world to back that up. I wish there were more examples where data viz actually mattered. The case studies for us to lean on are sparser than they should be. On the other hand, you can argue it’s a young field and people are doing all kinds of crazy interesting things, and that’s a good thing. There’s that classic idea that it’s useful … Read more

Lobbyists downgrade EU countries on cloud computing

Europe and cloud computing


14 March 2013 – Industry lobbyists have downgraded EU countries in their world ranking of top performers on cloud computing, as the Union prepares to overhaul its data protection rules. Japan, Australia and the US are top of the cloud computing class, according to the Cloud Scoreboard, published 7 March by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an international lobby group.

Four EU countries – Germany, France, the UK and Italy – are in the top 10. But all six EU nations featured in the study have lost ground. Italy and Spain were the biggest fallers, slipping back by four and two places in the rankings, respectively. The biggest mover was Singapore, which jumped five places to fifth overall.

The BSA said data privacy was one the main benchmarks used to draft the survey. BSA chief Robert Holleyman warned individual countries not to fence off their networks in the name of security. In an interview with the EU Observer he said “we should all be concerned about countries creating national clouds; the cloud is more efficient when it is … Read more

How cool is 3D printing? “3D printing … meet paleontology”

3D printing meets palaeontology


10 March 2013 –  It is going to be the largest object ever made by the new production technology of three-dimensional (3D) printing (the above shows a one-eighth-scale rendering).

What is it?  This fall … assuming all goes well … a new exhibit will go on show at the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC. It will be a life-sized (ok, death-sized) model of a 5 million-year-old fossil whale found in Chile in 2011.

The whale was one of more than a dozen exposed by the widening of the Pan American Highway. Local experts planned to remove the bones before the site was paved over, but that would have destroyed useful information about the context of the find. (Was it, for example, a mass stranding?) By chance, a team from the Smithsonian, led by Nick Pyenson, was working nearby.

As Dr Pyenson explained to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (we have been pouring through last month’s annual meeting papers), he recruited the institution’s newly created 3D-digitization team to fly down and scan the skeletons with lasers, before … Read more

I.B.M.’s Rometty on the data challenge to the culture of management

IBM Rometty

8 March 2013 – Last night Virginia M. Rometty, chairman, president and CEO of IBM, delivered a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. The setting was familiar. Five years ago, Samuel J. Palmisano, her predecessor, gave a speech in the same venue and spoke about the big opportunity ahead for modern computing technology to help businesses, government agencies and other institutions operate more intelligently. It was an emerging trend, one that became a very lucrative business for I.B.M.

In 2008, Palmisano spoke of the accelerating pace of computer processing, storage and software that exploited artificial intelligence. He pointed to the explosion in data from the Web, social networks and sensors.

To his vision he attached the term “Smarter Planet” which became the tagline for I.B.M.’s highly successful campaign to sell software and services, for an array of “smart” projects.

For Rometty, a familiar script but the context quite different: the next step, how to absorp this advancing technology.

She made three major points, all under the banner of Big Data:

Lesson 1: Decisions will be based not on “gut … Read more

Cloud Infographic: Companies Fighting For Data

Size of big data

7 March 2013NEWS ALERT!! The amount of data in our world increases massively day-by-day. Wow.  Who knew?  Hardly ANYBODY writes about this.  Ok, a few.  According to a McKinsey report (which we’ll admit is a bit dated now, having been written waaaaay back in 2011) U.S. companies from almost all industry sectors have, on average, hundreds of terabytes of data stored per company. The amount of data is growing as companies gather more and more information with each transaction and interaction with their customers. We may run out of those 86 GB flash drives at this rate.

Which is just a somewhat (we hope) comical intro to a cool graphic the folks at EVault came up with for our pals at CloudTweaks:

click here

[ NOTE: after you open the image just click on it to make it larger ]

 … Read more

Categorization of Big Data Business Cases and Applications

Big Data categorization

7 March 2013 – There is always the question what are the business cases for Big Data applications. In a recent post Mario Meir-Huber of CloudVane says “people keep on asking me when it makes sense to use Big Data applications. The answer is that there are many business cases for Big Data applications“.

In the post Mario trys to categorize Big Data applications based on their major fields. He found 5 fields that are relevant to Big Data applications: Social Media and Big Data, Big Data and Business applications, Smart Applications using Big Data, Big Data in the public sector and Big Data in Healthcare. He says “this categorization might not be complete at all and I ask you to send me feedback either by posting a comment here or on other media such as Facebook“.

He starts with Big Data in Healthcare applications. For his full post click here.… Read more

Cloud computing makes 16GB smartphones the ideal size

Cloud computing and smartphone size


6 March 2013 –  According to analysts, your average low-end smartphone now has more than enough storage for most user.  A study from IHS found that on average, customers who purchased a smartphone in 2012 only needed about 12.8GB of storage to meet their needs. The report suggests that users are now making such heavy use of cloud-based services that local storage has become something of an afterthought.

Analysts believe that as cloud storage and backup services are becoming more popular, users are seeing less of a need to keep large data archives on their devices. So while the average amount of handset storage increased three-fold between 2011 and 2012, between 2012 and 2013 the average sharnk from 13.2GB per device to 12.8GB.

Handsets are not the only mobile devices to have hit reign in storage. Researchers found that tablet manufacturers experienced an even bigger dip in storage demand. Over the course of the year, IHS teardown reports found that on average tablet vendors used 25 percent less storage as average capacity fell from 32.1GB to 24GB.

Some of … Read more