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Stats

Crowd Wisdom Better At Predictions Than Top CIA Analysts 136

Posted by timothy
from the random-walk-down-global-politics-street dept.
First time accepted submitter tkalfigo (1448133) writes "The Good Judgment Project is an experiment put together by three well-known psychologists and some people inside the intelligence community. What they aim to prove is that average, ordinary people in large groups and access just to Google search can predict far more accurately events of geopolitical importance than smart intelligence analysts with access to actual classified information. In fact there is a clearly identified top 1 percent of the 3000 predictors group, who have been identified as super-forecasters: people whose predictions are reportedly 30 percent better than intelligence officers."
Hardware

Used IT Equipment Can Be Worth a Fortune (Video) 79

Posted by Roblimo
from the how-much-is-that-mainframe-in-the-window? dept.
This is a conversation with Frank Muscarello, CEO and co-founder of MarkiTx, a company that brokers used and rehabbed IT equipment. We're not talking about an iPhone 3 you might sell on craigslist, but enterprise-level items. Cisco. Oracle. IBM mainframes. Racks full of HP or Dell servers. That kind of thing. In 2013 IDC pegged the value of the used IT equipment market at $70 billion, so this is a substantial business. MarkiTx has three main bullet points: *Know what your gear is worth; *Sell with ease at a fair price; and *Buy reliable, refurbished gear. Pricing is the big deal, Frank says. With cars you have Cars.com and Kelley Blue Book. There are similar pricing services for commercial trucks, construction equipment, and nearly anything else a business or government agency might buy or sell used. For computers? Not so much. Worth Monkey calls itself "The blue book for used electronics and more," but it only seems to list popular consumer equipment. I tried looking up several popular Dell PowerEdge servers. No joy. An HTC Sensation phone or an Acer Aspire notebook? Sure. With price ranges based on condition, same as Kelley Blue Book does with cars. Now back to the big iron. A New York bank wants to buy new servers. Their old ones are fully depreciated in the tax sense, and their CTO can show stats saying they are going to suffer from decreasing reliability. So they send out for bids on new hardware. Meanwhile, there's a bank in Goa, India, that is building a server farm on a tight budget. If they can buy used servers from the New York bank, rehabbed and with a warranty, for one-third what they'd cost new, they are going to jump on this deal the same way a small earthmoving operation buys used dump trucks a multinational construction company no longer wants.

In February, 2013 Computerworld ran an article titled A new way to sell used IT equipment about MarkiTx. The main differentiator between MarkiTx and predecessor companies is that this is primarily an information company. It is not eBay, where plenty of commercial IT equipment changes hands, nor is it quite like UK-based Environmental Computer, which deals in used and scrap computer hardware. It is, rather, the vanguard of computer hardware as a commodity; as something you don't care about as long as it runs the software you need it to run, and you can buy it at a good price -- or more and more, Frank notes -- rent a little bit of its capacity in the form of a cloud service, a direction in which an increasing number of business are moving for their computing needs. Even more fun: Let's say you are (or would like to be) a local or regional computer service company and you want to buy or sell or broker a little used hardware. You could use MarkiTx's price information to set both your buy and sell prices, same as a car dealer uses Kelley Blue Book. We seem to be moving into a whole new era of computer sales and resales. MarkiTx is one company making a splash in this market. But there are others, and there are sure to be even more before long. (Alternate video link.)
Microsoft

Xbox One Reputation System Penalizes Gamers Who Behave Badly 183

Posted by Soulskill
from the good-news-for-everyone's-mothers dept.
New submitter DroidJason1 writes: "Microsoft has added new 'player reputation scores' to each Xbox Live member's Gamercard. The scores are represented by icons consisting of the colors green, yellow, and red. The more hours you play fairly online without being reported as abusive by other players, the better your reputation will be. Good players are given a green color, while those that 'need work' are yellow and those that need to be avoided are red. Microsoft says, 'If players do not heed warnings and continue to have a negative impact on other players and the Xbox Live community, they will begin to experience penalties. For example, people with an “Avoid Me” rating will have reduced matchmaking pairings and may be unable to use certain privileges such as Twitch broadcasting.' They add that the system will adjust for false reports."
Games

Diablo 3 Expansion Reaper of Souls Launches 166

Posted by Soulskill
from the stay-awhile-and-listen dept.
Today Blizzard released the first expansion to Diablo 3, titled Reaper of Souls. The expansion continues the story with Act 5, which includes trips to Westmarch and Pandemonium. The level cap goes up to 70, there's a new class: the Crusader, and a new crafting NPC: the Mystic. The Mystic lets players reroll specific stats on their gear and change how the gear looks. The loot system has seen a drastic revamp, and Blizzard recently shut down the game's controversial auction house so they could have players find better and more interesting gear by fighting monsters. There's a new type of gameplay called Adventure Mode, which unlocks all waypoints and lets players go wherever they want, unrestricted by the campaign progression. This includes completely randomized dungeons, which can pull art and monsters from almost anywhere in the game. They've combined Adventure Mode with the Bounty system, which opens up randomized objectives scattered throughout the world. Blizzard has confirmed that the first major content patch after the expansion will bring ladders and leaderboards.
Education

Don't Help Your Kids With Their Homework 278

Posted by timothy
from the pinkie-swear dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Dana Goldstein writes in The Atlantic that while one of the central tenets of raising kids in America is that parents should be actively involved in their children's education — meeting with teachers, volunteering at school, and helping with homework — few parents stop to ask whether they're worth the effort. Case in point: In the largest-ever study of how parental involvement affects academic achievement researchers combed through nearly three decades' worth of longitudinal surveys of American parents and tracked 63 different measures of parental participation in kids' academic lives, from helping them with homework, to talking with them about college plans, to volunteering at their schools. What they found surprised them. Most measurable forms of parental involvement seem to yield few academic dividends for kids, or even to backfire — regardless of a parent's race, class, or level of education. Once kids enter middle school, parental help with homework can actually bring test scores down, an effect Robinson says could be caused by the fact that many parents may have forgotten, or never truly understood, the material their children learn in school. 'As kids get older—we're talking about K-12 education — parents' abilities to help with homework are declining,' says Keith Robinson. 'Even though they may be active in helping, they may either not remember the material their kids are studying now, or in some cases never learned it themselves, but they're still offering advice. And that means poor quality homework.'" (More, below.)
Math

Mathematician Gives Tips On How To Win $1 Billion On NCAA Basketball 76

Posted by samzenpus
from the winning-the-pool dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Jake Simpson reports at The Atlantic that Mathematician Tim Chartier, a Davidson College professor who specializes in ranking methods, teaches a math-heavy form of bracketology — the science of predicting the annual NCAA college basketball tournament at Davidson College in North Carolina. Chartier's academic research is in ranking methods where he looks at things like the page-ranking algorithms of Google. 'In 2009, my collaborator Amy Langville said: "You know what? ESPN has this huge online bracket tournament. Let's create brackets with our ranking methods, just to see if it's creating meaningful information."' Chartier's formula, an evolving code-based matrix that ranks each of the 68 tournament teams, has helped several Davidson students score in the 96th percentile (or higher) in ESPN's bracket challenge and this year, Chartier's goal is to help someone win the $1 billion prize offered by Warren Buffett to anyone who correctly predicts all 63 games of the men's tournament.

Chartier uses two methods. One is the Colley Method, named after astrophysicist Wesley Colley who developed a method used by the BCS for college football (PDF). His basketball method only counts wins and losses, not margin of victory. The other method is the Massey method created by sports statistician Kenneth Massey (PDF), which does integrate scores. Chartier has not been banned from any office pools — at least none that he knows of. But as a result of coming pretty darn close to filling out a perfect bracket just by crunching the numbers, brackets have become a labor of love. 'Now that the brackets are actually out, I've had students in and out of my office all week, sharing new ideas,' says Chartier. 'For me, that's more fun than filling out a bracket. They will all be filling out brackets, so it's like I'm doing parallel processing. I know what might work, but watching them figure out the odds, is a thrill.'"
Stats

Working with Real-Time Analytics as a Service (Video) 15

Posted by Roblimo
from the knowledge-you-might-need-someday-even-if-you-don't-need-it-now dept.
This is wide-ranging interview with Dev Patel and Poulomi Damany of BitYota, an Analytics as a Service startup that works specifically with MongoDB. Open Source? Not yet. But hopefully soon, they say. And why should an IT person or programmer care about marketing-oriented analytics? Because the more you know about functions in your company besides IT (such as finance, investor relations, and -- yes -- marketing), the more valuable you are as an employee. Dev also mentions the two main things he looks for when recruiting for BitYota: "One is intellect, and the other is attitude." He points out that this is not true merely of BitYota, but of any strong startup. This is all good information for any job-seeker hoping to land a spot with a startup -- and for anyone who is happy with where he or she works but hopes to earn promotions and raises, too.
Shark

First Automatic Identification of Flying Insects Allows Hi-Tech Bug Zapping 99

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the detect-and-destroy dept.
KentuckyFC writes "Entomologists have never been able to identify flying insects automatically. But not through lack of trying. The obvious approach is to listen out for the frequency of the wing beat. But acoustic microphones aren't up to the job because sound intensity drops with the square of the distance, so flying insects quickly drop out of range. Now a group of researchers has solved this problem using a laser beam pointing at a photosensitive array. Any insect flying through the beam casts a shadow of its beating wings that can easily be recorded at distances of several meters. Using this new device, the team has created a dataset of millions of wing beat recordings, more than all previous recordings put together. And they've used the dataset to train a Bayesian classifier algorithm to identify flying insects automatically for the first time. That opens the prospect of a new generation of bug zappers that kill only certain insects or just females rather than males. That could have a big impact on human health since mosquitoes and other flying insects kill millions of people each year. It could also help in agriculture where insects threaten billions of dollars worth of crops."
Stats

Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight Relaunches As Data Journalism Website 60

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the everyone-likes-data dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "After a parting of ways with the New York Times after calling 50 out of 50 states right in the 2012 elections, Nate Silver has relaunched FiveThirtyEight as a website dedicated to data journalism under the auspices of ESPN. Silver has expanded his staff from two full-time journalists to 20 and instead of focusing on politics exclusively FiveThirtyEight's coverage will span five major subject areas — politics, economics, science, life and sports. According to Silver, his team has a broad set of skills and experience in methods that fall under the rubric of data journalism including statistical analysis, data visualization, computer programming and data-literate reporting. 'One of our roles will be to critique incautious uses of statistics when they arise elsewhere in news coverage. At other times, we'll explore ways that consumers can use data to their advantage and level the playing field against corporations and governments.' The site has launched with a variety of stories including 'Many Signs Pointed to Crimea Independence Vote — But Polls Didn't,' 'Building a Bracket Is Hard This Year, But We'll Help You Play the Odds,' 'Toilet Seat Covers: To Use or Not to Use,' and 'Three Rules to Make Sure Economic Data Aren't Bunk.'

The story that caught my eye was 'This Winter Wasn't the Coldest, But It Was One of the Most Miserable' with some good data visualization that showed that although average temperature may not have set records in the Northeast Corridor this winter, the intensity of the cold when it did hit was impressive. According to Matt Lanza although most statistics cite the winter of 1978-79 as the coldest in U.S. history, the winter of 2013-14 brought a rare combination of miseries that many of us hadn't seen in years, and some had never seen. It was colder than usual, it was extremely cold more often than usual, and it snowed more than usual in more places than usual. Traditionally, big snow winters occur in a couple regions. The East Coast might have great snows, while the Midwest is quiet. Snowfall this winter didn't discriminate; it blanketed just about everybody (outside the dry West and icier Mid-South). Look how many cities had not just a little more, but way more, than their normal snowfall."
Stats

Google Flu Trends Gets It Wrong Three Years Running 64

Posted by timothy
from the coughedword-coughedword dept.
wabrandsma writes with this story from NewScientist: "Google may be a master at data wrangling, but one of its products has been making bogus data-driven predictions. A study of Google's much-hyped flu tracker has consistently overestimated flu cases in the US for years. It's a failure that highlights the danger of relying on big data technologies.

Evan Selinger, a technology ethicist at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, says Google Flu's failures hint at a larger problem with the algorithmic approach taken by technology companies to deliver services we all want to use. The problem is with the assumption that either the data that is gathered about us, or the algorithms used to process it, are neutral. Google Flu Trends has been discussed at slashdot before: When Google Got Flu Wrong."
Stats

Is Traffic Congestion Growing Three Times As Fast As Economy? 187

Posted by timothy
from the feels-that-way-in-austin dept.
cartechboy writes "Math watch time: For many traffic analysts, INRIX is considered the gold-standard. This week the company says traffic congestion surged in 2013 and grew over three times as fast as the American economy. The bad news: If true, this reverses two consecutive years of traffic declines with a six percent increase in 2013. (GDP, by comparison, grew 1.9 percent last year.) The analysts then theorize links between economic growth and traffic congestion, which makes sense on the surface. (As the economy improves, more jobs are created, so more commuters on the roads) But INRIX's theory creates as many questions as it answers. For example, the U.S. GDP has been steadily growing since 2009. So why did congestion decline in 2011 and 2012?"
Stats

'Data Science' Is Dead 139

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the data-however-is-the-lucasian-chair dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "If you're going to make up a cool-sounding job title for yourself, 'Data Scientist' seems to fit the bill. When you put 'Data Scientist' on your resume, recruiters perk up, don't they? Go to the Strata conference and look on the jobs board — every company wants to hire Data Scientists. Time to jump aboard that bandwagon, right? Wrong, argues Miko Matsumura in a new column. 'Not only is Data Science not a science, it's not even a good job prospect,' he writes. 'Companies continue to burn millions of dollars to collect and gamely pick through the data under respective roofs. What's the time-to-value of the average "Big Data" project? How about "Never?"' After the 'Big Data' buzz cools a bit, he argues, it will be clear to everyone that 'Data Science' is dead and the job function of 'Data Scientist' will have jumped the shark."
Android

F-Secure: Android Accounted For 97% of All Mobile Malware In 2013 193

Posted by Soulskill
from the going-for-the-high-score dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Back in 2012, Android accounted for 79 percent of all mobile malware. Last year, that number ballooned even further to 97 percent. Both those data points come from security firm F-Secure, which today released its 40-page Threat Report for the second half of 2013. More specifically, Android malware rose from 238 threats in 2012 to 804 new families and variants in 2013. Apart from Symbian, F-Secure found no new threats for other mobile platforms last year."
Stats

All Else Being Equal: Disputing Claims of a Gender Pay Gap In Tech 427

Posted by timothy
from the cash-on-the-table-or-not? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Synthia Tan writes that when you investigate the actual data, controlling for non-gender factors (like number of hours worked) the gender pay gap seems to disappear. 'A longitudinal study of female engineers in the 1980s showed a wage penalty of essentially zero.' In some cases women make more than men: women who work between 30 and 39 hours a week make 111% of what their male counterparts make." The researchers were studying more recent data, too; what are things like on this front where you work?
Data Storage

Intel's New Desktop SSD Is an Overclocked Server Drive 111

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-kid-in-class dept.
crookedvulture writes "Most of Intel's recent desktop SSDs have followed a familiar formula. Combine off-the-shelf controller with next-gen NAND and firmware tweaks. Rinse. Repeat. The new 730 Series is different, though. It's based on Intel's latest datacenter SSD, which combines a proprietary controller with high-endurance NAND. In the 730 Series, these chips are clocked much higher than their usual speeds. The drive is fully validated to run at the boosted frequencies, and it's rated to endure at least 70GB of writes per day over five years. As one might expect, though, this hot-clocked server SSD is rather pricey for a desktop model. It's slated to sell for around $1/GB, which is close to double the cost of more affordable options. And the 730 Series isn't always faster than its cheaper competition. Although the drive boasts exceptional throughput with random I/O, its sequential transfer rates are nothing special."
Earth

How Well Do Our Climate Models Match Our Observations? 560

Posted by timothy
from the models-meta-models-and-mega-ultra-super-models dept.
bunratty writes "According to recent articles by Roy Spencer and John Christy, our climate models have done a poor job of predicting warming due to humans burning fossil fuels. They claim that we've observed only a fraction of the warming they predict. But when I look at the source they claim to use, the State of the Climate in 2012, I see that it shows a warming of 0.7 degrees Celsius worldwide since 1980, close to the 0.8 degrees Celsius warming predicted by the climate models. Take a look at the data for yourself. How well do our predictions match our observations?"
Stats

E-Sports Gender Gap: 90+% Male 320

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-competitions-always-have-that-smell dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An e-sports production company has published the results of a survey into the demographics of the gamers who attend competition events. Even though nearly half of the gaming population is composed of women, they account for less than 10% of the players in competitions. The e-sports company, WellPlayed, said, '[A] whopping 90-94% of the viewers were male, and interestingly enough, only about half of the remaining survey takers felt comfortable being identified as female.' The results were taken from survey responses over the past year at competitions for StarCraft 2 and League of Legends. DailyDot makes the point that competitive gaming communities also tend not to be racially diverse. Quoting: 'Although no studies have been done about race in esports, it only takes one trip to a Major League Gaming event to confirm what Cannon says. With the notably racially diverse exception of the fighting-game community, Asians and white Americans make up an enormous portion of esports players and fans. Black and Middle Eastern esports fans are conspicuously missing.'"
Math

Why Improbable Things Really Aren't 166

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the learn-to-count dept.
First time accepted submitter sixoh1 writes "Scientific American has an excellent summary of a new book 'The Improbabilty Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day' by David J. Hand. The summary offers a quick way to relate statistical math (something that's really hard to intuit) to our daily experiences with unlikely events. The simple equations here make it easier to understand that improbable things really are not so improbable, which Hand call the 'Improbability Principle:' 'How can a huge number of opportunities occur without people realizing they are there? The law of combinations, a related strand of the Improbability Principle, points the way. It says: the number of combinations of interacting elements increases exponentially with the number of elements. The 'birthday problem' is a well-known example. Now if only we could harness this to make an infinite improbability drive!"
United Kingdom

11-Year UK Study Reports No Health Danger From Mobile Phone Transmissions 180

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-off-the-tin-foil-hat dept.
Mark.JUK writes "The United Kingdom's 11-years long Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR) has today published a comprehensive report that summarizes 31 research projects, which investigated the potential for biological or adverse health effects of mobile phone and wireless signals on humans (e.g. as a cause for various cancers or other disorders). The good news is that the study, which has resulted in nearly 60 papers appearing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, found 'no evidence' of a danger from mobile transmissions in the typically low frequency radio spectrum bands (e.g. 900MHz and 1800MHz etc.)."

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum

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