What I’m Reading on 04/28/2015

  • Drupal’s modular setup allows for different datastores to be integrated as modules, this allows sites to store different types of Drupal data into MongoDB. You can choose to store Drupal’s cache, session, watchdog, block information, queue and field storage data in either a standalone MongoDB instance or in a MongoDB Replica Set in conjunction with MySQL as the default datastore. If you’re looking at clustering your entire Drupal setup, then see this blog on how to cluster MySQL and the file system.”

    tags: bs configure drupal mongodb

  • “OpenSpecimen is an open source biobanking informatics platform that permits users to enter and retrieve data concerning the collection, storage, quality assurance, and distribution of biospecimens. Its most important feature is the ability to collect high-quality, standards-based data specific to a disease or set of study requirements.”

    tags: bs open source

  • “In January 2015 IBM introduced the z13 microprocessor, which is regarded as the world’s fastest. Speed is important, but as any devotee of Moore’s Law knows, it’s pretty transitory. So in a world of ever-quicker chips, why does z13 matter? To cop a phrase from the radio waves, it’s all about the analytics.”

    tags: bs ibm processor z13

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What I’m Reading on 04/21/2015

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What I’m Reading on 04/17/2015

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What I’m Reading on 04/07/2015

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What I’m Reading on 04/05/2015

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What I’m Reading on 04/03/2015

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What I’m Reading on 03/23/2015

  • “Several people have asked me for advice about education and training in Analytics and Data Science, so I wrote this article. For our purpose here, I include Analytics, Data Mining, and Data Science degree program, certificate, training, and certification programs. This information is readily available on the internet, but I have picked some of my favorites here–so the list is not all inclusive. I am not affiliate with any of these programs other than as a guest speaker.”

    tags: bs online education analytics

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What I’m Reading on 03/10/2015

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What I’m Reading on 03/06/2015

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What I’m Reading on 03/05/2015

  • “Few technologies have generated more attention than virtual reality, which promises to immerse people in 3-D games and video. Yet for the last couple of years, the companies building virtual reality headsets have begged for patience from content creators and the public. The companies’ biggest concern: that unpolished virtual reality products could make people physically sick.”

    tags: bs v virtual reality nausea

  • “When creating new mobile applications, developers all too often forget taking the few additional steps to make their programs usable for those with disabilities. Now, IBM offers a free testing tool to ensure mobile applications are useable to the one billion people worldwide with disabilities, such as people with visual or auditory impairments. The checks are also good for ensuring the app can be used by the world’s growing elderly population.”

    tags: bs ibm mobile accessibility guidelines

  • “IBM Watson, the artificial intelligence platform made famous by beating the three best Jeopardy! champions ever several years ago, bought Denver-based AlchemyAPI today. It did not reveal the purchase price. The acquisition gives Watson a key piece of machine learning technology. The deal also gives it access to community of over 40,000 AlchemyAPI developers, who are building cognitive apps, which IBM defines as “systems that learn and interact naturally with people to extend what either humans or machine could do on their own.””

    tags: bs IBM Watson AlchemyAPI

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What I’m Reading on 02/10/2015

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What I’m Reading on 02/05/2015

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What I’m Reading on 01/27/2015

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What I’m Reading on 01/26/2015

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What I’m Reading on 01/21/2015

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The value of rotational assignments

What’s the best way to get a broader view of what happens in a company, an organization, or an industry? Certainly you can read a lot, and you must do this. However, actually working in a different area teaches you about what is and is not being handled well, how that area relates to others, how to maneuver the politics, and helps you build your network of professionals in a concrete way. While “connecting” online is good, it is even better to work side-by-side with someone.

From a management perspective, employees who have this broad experience are more valuable because they can both be domain experts and understand the big picture. One way of getting this is by supporting rotational assignments.

There are several ways of doing this. One is that an employee starts in your group and then moves to another, and then another, and another, until he or she settles into an appropriate business or technical leadership role. Here people “rotate out” but do not necessarily rotate back in. I rotated out of IBM Research in 1999 and “rotated” back 13 years later. I’m not sure that was part of anyone’s career plan for me, including my own.

An individual can do this by changing companies. If they hope to return to one of them, it is important not to burn bridges. Don’t leave in a huff if you expect to ever be hired there again. You may not think that will ever happen, but why take the chance?

A more controlled program would have someone in your group go work for another team for 3 to 12 months and then come back. After their return, their responsibilities should expand to take advantage of their new skills and connections. They should also actively share their new knowledge and insights with their co-workers. Perhaps a year later, they can rotate out to another role or just move on. Don’t forget to reconsider their salary when they first return to you.

For management, you must guarantee that the employee has a round-trip ticket to and from the other organization. It is not cool to tell the person that there is no headcount allocation for them when they are ready to come back. Yes, times change, but you are breaking a promise to someone who you supposedly thought had a lot of value. If they cannot come back, you have lost trust and credibility. Don’t be surprised if the employee quits and joins another company. Don’t be surprised if no other employees take you up on your offers of “career-expanding rotational assignments.”

For the employee, you also made a promise. You said you would come back and make your original group stronger. You don’t have to spend the rest of your life there, but your management and colleagues were expecting to have your expanded expertise, at least for a while. However, if your staying in the new organization makes the overall company stronger, you may be able to make that argument. In any case, be gracious and make it a negotiation, not a demand.

A sequence of assignments where a person “visits” different parts of a company can be a win-win for the manager and the employee. This is an important part of career planning. For you as an employee, remember that you are ultimately responsible for your job path within and between companies. Be active about it and consider suggesting a rotation to your manager.

What I’m Reading on 01/20/2015

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What I’m Reading on 01/19/2015

  • “The Echo is one of the most compelling cases I’ve ever seen for the power of voice control, of talking to our gadgets the way we talk to each other. It’s also a powerful and infuriating reminder of its limitations, of how long the road to our robotic future really is. Alexa’s going to turn out just fine, I think, but she’s got some growing up to do.”

    tags: bs amazon echo

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Let’s Drop the “Embarrassing Moment” Interview Question

I was speaking with a friend who had a job interview last week, and he mentioned that he had gotten the “Please tell us about your most embarrassing moment” question. Please? They couldn’t do better than that?

In Amy Poehler’s new book Yes, Please, she gives the advice that you do not have to tell anyone about your most embarrassing moment. It is none of their business, and you need not and should not have to confess to anything just to move on in the interview process. I agree with Amy.

It is especially strange that people are warned not to immortalize their immature or questionable behavior on Facebook or Twitter, only to have job interviewers ask them about such behavior. Rather than giving useful information about applicants, it seems to me that it satisfies some sort of voyeuristic intent by the interviewers. It is not even a constructive question.

If I were interviewing a software developer, I might instead ask about how they discovered a bad bug in some code, how they fixed it, and how they helped ensure that it did not happen again.

If I were speaking to a sales person, I might ask about a sale they expected to close but did not, why that happened, and what they learned about the experience to help avoid such a surprise again.

If I were talking to a potential student summer intern, I could ask them how a challenging college class altered their approach to their studies, and how that might be reflected in their work with us.

So it is ok to admit that bad things have happened to or around us in our professional lives, but keep it at that–professional–and avoid the personal questions. What is interesting is how the applicant dealt with the situation, what they learned, and how that could make them a good employee for you.

There are many factors to consider in applicants like experience, skills, enthusiasm, honesty, and personality, but keep your nosy personal questions to yourself!

Also available on LinkedIn.

What I’m Reading on 01/17/2015

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What I’m Reading on 01/13/2015

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What I’m Reading on 01/12/2015

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What I’m Reading on 01/08/2015

  • “In this article, I want to take a closer look at how strings are handled in Swift. I see this as a follow-up to a piece titled NSString and Unicode that I wrote for objc.io a while ago. Please refer to that article for a more thorough explanation of the Unicode features I mention below. I also assume that you have read the chapter on Strings and Characters in Apple’s Swift book.”

    tags: bs strings swift developers

  • “We looked at data provided by the site, which aggregates reviews of jobs and companies, that ranks tech jobs according to how many employees thought business was improving in 2014 to explore which could be next year’s best bets. According to Dobroski, big data, mobile and privacy are going to be “very hot and very popular” in 2015.”

    tags: bs developers designers data jobs

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2015 is Not the Year of Big Data, Big Data Was and Is Here to Stay

It’s the beginning of a new year and we’re being flooded with predictions, retrospectives, and catchy headlines to make us read articles about our favorite topics. One that I have seen more than once is “2015: The Year of Big Data.” I thought 2013 and 2014 were the Years of Big Data! I’m pretty sure that 2016 and 2017 will also be the Years of Big Data.

Click-bait headlines aside (and I’m guilty of it above), Big Data and the infrastructure that supports it and the mathematical analytics that makes sense of it have been producing great descriptions, prescriptions, and optimizations for years. Short of an electromagnetic pulse that will cause us to restart everything someday, Big Data is here to stay. How will things evolve?

First, there will be more data. I take a very Platonic view of data in the sense that whether or not we collect it, it is out there. The amount of sunlight that hits every blade of grass or soybean plant is real, though we don’t measure it all and we don’t therefore have it in some file or database somewhere. We will collect and store more data once we understand why we need it and how to get it.

Second, raw data can be messy and hard to use. We’ll continue to devise ways to clean it up, filter it, compute the missing bits, align overlapping patches of information, and determine metadata that simplifies gaining insights. We’ll figure out more efficient ways of storing the information and invent new kinds of databases. We’ll drastically speed up the time from when we first learn of data’s existence to when we are computing with it and gleaning useful understanding.

Next, we’ll build better and more sophisticated models using this managed data to understand additional kinds of systems and the interconnections among them. We’ll devise more and better algorithms to get more accurate predictions and optimizations, faster. This is the way science works: we build on what we know and have the occasional breakthrough that allows us to do things in new and improved ways or, in some cases, for the very first time.

Finally, this will be translated into more information we can use in practical ways in our personal and professional lives. It will also improve our entertainment and how we read, listen, watch, and engage in sports.

As evidence of how Big Data has been around for a while, sabermetrics, the statistics and analytics of baseball, was being done on computers in the 1960s. We have more data now and better mathematics, but we are seeing an evolution that is expanding and gaining momentum. This is not a statement limited to baseball.

If you are now starting to look into Big Data, good, but get grounded quickly on what it can and cannot do for you. Big Data is just becoming the way we do things. 2015 will be a very good year for Big Data, I agree, but make it great for you and your organization. Whether or not you realize it, it is the basis for how music and movies are recommended to you, how retailers market to you, and increasingly how health treatments are determined for you.

Turn this around and employ Big Data and analytics to make smarter decisions. That doesn’t sound like a new idea for 2015, does it?

This blog entry is also available on LinkedIn.

What I’m Reading on 01/06/2015

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What I’m Reading on 01/02/2015 – Big Data Predictions Edition

No endorsements of any of these by me, but a roundup of what people think will happen in 2015. It’s always a good idea to subtract “my company, product, or open source project interests” from so-called objective predictions.

  • “Goldman Sachs has taken the lead with a $15 million investment in big data analytics start-up Kensho. A number of senior changes in Deutsche Bank’s corporate banking and securities business relate to a new approach to customer data analysis. And BBVA’s acquisition of Spanish big data analytics start-up Madiva in December shows how this approach is continuing to be applied in corporate and retail banking to speed-up previously time-consuming tasks, from valuing portfolios of assets to approving mortgages for clients.”

    tags:bs big data

  • “If 2014 was the year that enterprises desperately tried to take off the Big Data training wheels, 2015 will be the year they succeed. Ironically, this won’t be because they master the intricacies of Hadoop and Spark. Instead, it will be because 2015 will be the year we stop trying to make every data problem into a Hadoop problem and instead use the right tool for the job.”

    tags:bs big data

  • “Thus, 2014 was the year when pilot projects went into production, or when small production projects went large scale. As a result, the infrastructure of Hadoop did a lot of growing up this past year. Projects were able to take on larger problem spaces as well, thanks to the release of YARN in 2013. With a year to work with the now generally applicable job- and task-scheduling systems in Hadoop, developers working at the Apache Foundation (and inside companies like Hortonworks, Cloudera and MapR) were able to quickly ramp up projects that use YARN, like Apache Tez, Apache Hama and management system Apache Ambari.”

    tags:bs big data

  • “The question all enterprises need to ask themselves is this: How are we going to harness all this information, and do it efficiently, so that the IT we use pays us dividends?”

    tags:bs big data

  • ” In 2015, we’ll see the impact of big data across almost every industry sector, and there will be a multitude of proof points that go beyond vague claims often seen today.”

    tags:bs big data

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What I’m Reading on 01/01/2015

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What I’m Reading on 12/29/2014



Bob Dylan

  • “After months of rumors, Bob Dylan has finally announced the details of his upcoming record Shadows in the Night. Produced by Dylan under his longtime pseudonym Jack Frost, the album features 10 songs popularized by Frank Sinatra, including “Autumn Leaves,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” “The Night We Called It a Day” and “I’m a Fool to Want You.” It hits stores on February 3rd, 2015, but is now available for pre-order.”

    tags:bs Bob Dylan music sinatra

  • “It’s anyone’s guess what changed over the past few months, but at the final performance of his five-night stand at New York’s Beacon Theatre – his amazing 91st show of the year – Dylan sounded magnificent. He was expressive, clear, articulate, intensely focused and visibly pleased. Without a doubt, it was the most enjoyable Dylan concert in recent memory.”

    tags:bs Bob Dylan music

Analytics / Cognitive

  • “Big Blue isn’t playing small ball with that claim. It has opened a new IBM Watson Global Headquarters in the heart of New York City’s Silicon Alley and is investing $1 billion into the Watson Group, focusing on development and research as well as bringing cloud-delivered cognitive applications and services to the market. That includes $100 million available for venture investments to support IBM’s ecosystem of startups and businesses building cognitive apps with Watson.”

    tags:bs ibm watson

  • “Spam filtering, face recognition, recommendation engines — when you have a large data set on which you’d like to perform predictive analysis or pattern recognition, machine learning is the way to go. This science, in which computers are trained to learn from, analyze, and act on data without being explicitly programmed, has surged in interest of late outside of its original cloister of academic and high-end programming circles.”

    tags:bs open source machine learning

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Mentoring advice for a new year: 10 + 1 ideas

At some point in your life you go from being a person who is mentored to one who also is a mentor to others. I’ve had many corporate roles, so I’m usually not at a loss to have at least something to suggest to a younger colleague. Here are some of the ideas and themes which I often discuss.

Note that I have always worked for a computer technology firm. Further note that I have never worked in sales or consulting, though I have been involved in many client engagements with both.

  1. There is no one other than yourself who is ultimately responsible for your career.
    Don’t wait around waiting for someone higher up to notice you and give you a great opportunity. Make your own opportunities.
  2. Don’t be invisible.
    If management does not know who you are, it is difficult to evaluate you against better known people, and hence harder to recommend or accept you for new challenges.
  3. Be of value to senior management but don’t be a pain in the neck.
    You should be someone who does highly professional work dependably on time. However, your working with leaders should be based on your value to the organization and not on your desire to cozy up to people who can promote you. Such employees are obvious from a mile/kilometer away.
  4. Be aware of what else is going on in your industry in order to be best of breed.
    In large organizations it is easy to engage in group-think and convince yourself that what you are doing is exactly what should be done for your clients or stakeholders. Benchmark your group and your “product” against the best that is available, and then add your own ingenuity to move your organization in a better direction.
  5. Use social media to responsibly state your views and thoughts.
    I’m not thrilled with the overused term “thought leader,” but you need to become one. However, if you think your organization is going in the wrong direction, work internally, not externally. If you feel you can add good ideas about where the industry needs to be in three to five years, state that in a blog entry and give your reasoning. It’s hard to have much depth for such thought pieces if you operate 140 characters at a time.
  6. Search out opportunities to represent your organization publicly.
    If we trust you to represent the organization externally, we will likely trust you with other responsibilities as well. If you have language or presentation skills that need work, take the personal initiative to improve them.
  7. Don’t have just one mentor.
    You may have one official mentor, but get several different perspectives. Even if you think that 90% of what someone tells you is irrelevant, that other 10% may be very significant for your personal success. Don’t be shy about asking someone to be a mentor but also don’t be heartbroken if he or she declines. Some senior executives get so many requests they could not possibly do their jobs and mentor everyone who asks.
  8. Get a range of experience.
    In a large company you can have many different roles. For example, I have both headed a marketing group and led the research math department. In small organizations you will likely have to work for several companies to get more skills and possibly a higher salary. In either case, the more you know about business, technology, and your industry, the better chance you have for success and leadership positions.
  9. Aim to be a leader, not a manager.
    It is easier to teach someone the mechanics of management than help them become a trusted and admired leader. If you are a manager, though, be a very good one since you are not simply measured by your personal contributions.
  10. See to completion important projects and deals.
    In baseball terms, game-winning home runs usually stand out more than many singles in losing games. Participation, or just showing up, is not a substitute for seeing the big picture, assembling a great team, looking after details, keeping to schedule with excellent work, and delivering breakthrough innovations, products, or services. Whatever your metric for success is, such as profit or a cure or relieving hunger, exceed expectations. Sounds easy, no? Sounds impossible if you don’t try.
  11. (Bonus) Have a 5 year plan.
    Think about where you want to be going over the next 5 years. This will help your mentor give you suggestions for how to learn more about your options and opportunities. Your mentor is not there to decide your future: he or she can help you accelerate toward making the right choices for you.

This blog entry is also available on LinkedIn.

What I’m Reading on 12/16/2014

  • “Instead, “The three primary permissive license choices (Apache/BSD/MIT) … collectively are employed by 42 percent. They represent, in fact, three of the five most popular licenses in use today.” These permissive licenses has been gaining ground at GPL’s expense. The two biggest gainers, the Apache and MIT licenses, were up 27 percent, while the GPLv2, Linux’s license, has declined by 24 percent.”

    tags: bs open source gpl

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What I’m Reading on 12/10/2014

  • “Today, we’re delivering on that promise by announcing the first 10 mobile apps that will come to market–the first of many that we have on the drawing boards. I’m impressed by the ability of teams from the two companies to collaborate to produce beautiful, elegant, smart apps, which also have the chops for serious business. These apps – or more accurately, these solutions — address high-priority opportunities within industries and make professionals more proficient at what they do. The apps make work faster and simpler, and I don’t mind saying it – more fun – at the same time they place the power of big data analytics at our fingertips.”

    tags: bs apple ibm mobile apps

  • “For airlines, for example, one app allows pilots to pull together information on flight plans, schedules and weather conditions and report issues to ground crews for in-flight fuel-saving decisions. Another enables flight crews to view information on trip progress and to rebook flights en route for travelers likely to miss their scheduled connections.”

    tags: bs apple ibm mobile apps

  • “CUPERTINO, California and ARMONK, New York—December 10, 2014—Apple® and IBM today deliver the first wave of IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions in a new class of made-for-business apps and supporting cloud services that bring IBM’s big data and analytics capabilities to iPhone® and iPad® users in the enterprise. IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions are now available to enterprise customers in banking, retail, insurance, financial services, telecommunications and for governments and airlines, thanks to an unprecedented collaboration between Apple and IBM. IBM clients today announcing support for IBM MobileFirst for iOS solutions include: Citi, Air Canada, Sprint and Banorte.”

    tags: bs apple ibm mobile apps

  • “The tech titans chose to tailor their initial batch of apps to enterprise customers in banking, retail, insurance, financial services, and telecommunications for governments and airlines. The apps are built exclusively for iPhone and iPad and are embedded with security and analytics and linked to core enterprise processes, IBM said.”

    tags: bs apple ibm mobile apps

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What I’m Reading on 12/09/2014

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What I’m Reading on 12/05/2014

  • “The new languages give programmers some helpful legs up, to be sure. Google’s Go is structured to simplify the work of making code run “concurrently,” smoothing the way for programmers to create and juggle portions of a program that execute simultaneously — and thus take full advantage of today’s multicore chips and multiprocessor machines. Apple’s Swift offers iPhone developers some of the terseness and agility of popular Web scripting languages, such as PHP and JavaScript. Each comes with its own logo, too: Swift a stylized bird, Go a goofy gopher.”

    tags: bs computer language

  • “Node.js, a popular and influential tool for building and running modern internet services, has split in two. Late yesterday, some of its primary developers “forked” this open source project, creating a new version of the tool they call Io.js. The group was unhappy with the stewardship of Node’s official sponsor, cloud computing company Joyent, so they’ve chosen to fashion a new version on their own.”

    tags: bs node

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What I’m Reading on 12/02/2014

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Ubuntu 14.04, a Samsumg TV monitor, and fixing ugly fonts

Today I installed Ubuntu 14.04 dual-boot on an Acer machine that came preinstalled with Microsoft Windows 8.0 but has been upgraded to Windows 8.1. It’s slightly trickier to do this on modern machines, but there are good instructions available on the web. I installed Ubuntu from a USB stick.

The installation was multi-step but straightforward. When I was done, however, it sure looked ugly on my Samsung TV monitor. First, the screen extended extended horizontally beyond the physical monitor screen, so the icons on the app launcher were chopped off. Second, the fonts appeared to be low resolution despite what I did to the Ubuntu Display settings.

After poking around for help on the web, I discovered that neither problem was an Ubuntu problem, but both were issues with the Samsung TV settings.

To change the Samsung TV settings, press Menu on the TV remote.

To adjust the screen size, go to Picture > Picture Options > Size. Then select either 16:9 or Screen Fit. One of them should fix your problem, probably the latter.

The second fix is unintuitive but has to do with how the TV monitor deals with input from a computer. I have my computer plugged into the HDMI1 port on the TV, which showed up as HDMI1/DVI in the screen source. In the TV menu options, go to Source List > Edit Name. Then go to the port where you have the computer HDMI cable plugged in, and change the name to PC. Presto, everything is beautiful.


What I’m Reading on 11/14/2014

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What I’m Reading on 11/13/2014

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What I’m Reading on 11/12/2014

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What I’m Reading on 11/11/2014

  • “For government – and Apple – the timing couldn’t be better, as federal agencies are shifting rapidly to a mobile-first mindset. This means that the mobile user experience is becoming the primary or default interface for all applications, government and commercial alike, creating new pressures to streamline and accelerate development. “

    tags: bs apple swift

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Primary source statistics for social media

While there are many second and third party sources for social media on the web, I find the primary ones most useful. That is, for example, I think that what YouTube says about its numbers is more valuable than comments from others who repeat other stats they heard, somewhere.

So here are a few links to those primary sources. I’ll add more when I find them.

What I’m Reading on 11/07/2014

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What I’m Reading on 11/06/2014

  • “Designed to make data analysis easier to share and reproduce, the IPython notebook is being used increasingly by scientists who want to keep detailed records of their work, devise teaching modules and collaborate with others. Some researchers are even publishing the notebooks to back up their research papers — and Brown, among others, is pushing to use the program as a new form of interactive science publishing.”

    tags: bs python ipython

  • “Forty-six years after Rolling Stone first alerted the world to the existence of Bob Dylan’s secret Basement Tapes sessions, the complete recordings are finally getting a commercial release — and we’re commemorating the occasion with a cover story. Rolling Stone contributing editor David Browne traces the entire history of the tapes in our new issue (on stands Friday), from the 1966 motorcycle crash that preceded their creation to the secret recording sessions in the Saugerties, New York home known as Big Pink to the many bootlegs and partial releases that have come out over the years to the massive undertaking it took to prepare all 130 tracks for release on The Basement Tapes Complete box set. “

    tags: bs bob dylan basement tapes

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What I’m Reading on 10/31/2014

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W3C 20th Anniversary: Memories

W3C logoToday the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is celebrating its 20th anniversary as an organization. Luminaries and participants in the open standards effort will be gathering in Santa Clara, CA, this afternoon for a Future of the Web Symposium and then a Gala Dinner. I’m in New York, unfortunately, but I’ll be thinking of the times I spent on the standards, and the politics that changed the way we do technology today.

Here are some memories and thoughts.

  • The earliest mention I can find of my involvement in the W3C is a note from Ron Whitney on July 11, 1996, stating that I had joined the new standards effort around the Mathematical Markup Language (MathML).
  • The MathML group was composed of mathematicians, publishers, software developers, and some other unlikely people to be thrown together to produce “a web standard.” When MathML was eventually made an official Recommendation, we believed that it was the first standard from the W3C to use XML, other than XML itself. It’s still a cool standard, but its implementation in browsers is still sketchy nearly 20 years later. MathML is part of HTML5, so I hope it will finally get the first class treatment it deserves.
  • I was also involved in the Document Object Model (DOM) standards group. This has been a very big success and has been a key part of how javascript manipulates documents on a page.
  • Lauren Wood did a brilliant job of keeping the working group members, many with competing commercial interests, in line and directed toward the final standards product.
  • Though I had done significant coding on a Netscape plugin, I often felt out of my depth compared with people from Netscape, Microsoft, and other browser makers.
  • I was amazed that the Netscape and Microsoft people spoke civilly to each other, given all the press about their competition and supposedly acrimonious relationship.
  • Chris Wilson of Microsoft once said of a proposed new feature that it would break the browsing experience for millions of users. The scale of the web and how the standard would be used really struck me then, but at that point I had no problem breaking things in order to get to a better, more elegant solution.
  • I first met Tim Berners-Lee in his office at MIT on a cold day. He was brilliant, focused, and all consumed with doing the right thing for the web. No other leader could have gotten us to where we are today, and that’s a very good thing.
  • I also met Janet Daly at about the same time. She was also brilliant and committed to driving the right messages about the W3C to not just put it in a good light, but to change the world. The W3C and the standards world needed her at that right time and right place.
  • As my position in IBM changed from someone who created standards to someone who helped manage the creation of them on behalf of a company, so too did my relationship with the W3C. Let’s just say there was some tension regarding OASIS and the W3C and where new work was to be done. In all that time, however, W3C reps and employees were solidly professional and driven to do the right thing, despite what might benefit any particular commercial entity. I applaud them for that.
  • Royalty-free licensing: kudos to Tim and the organization for raising the issue and forcing the rest of us to play along.
  • I’m still not convinced about RDF and the whole Semantic Web thing, but then again, nobody asked me.  :-)

So, finally, my heartiest congratulations to Tim and the W3C staff, past and present! It’s been an honor for IBM and me personally to have worked with you these twenty years.

What I’m Reading on 10/28/2014

  • “28 October 2014 — The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published a Recommendation of HTML5, the fifth major revision of the format used to build Web pages and applications, and the cornerstone of the Open Web Platform. For application developers and industry, HTML5 represents a set of features that people will be able to rely on for years to come. HTML5 is now supported on a wide variety of devices, lowering the cost of creating rich applications to reach users everywhere.”

    tags: bs web platform html recommendation

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

What I’m Reading on 10/22/2014

  • “Continuing its effort to promote its own streamlined object-oriented programming code Swift, Apple has followed up from its Swift blog with a full-blown mini-site on Apple.com. The new site takes a similar approach to Apple’s dedicated mini-sites for education and business, highlighting some of the many apps now built using swift and featuring case studies, profiles and links to tutorials and free resources. The new promotional mini-site is in addition to the regular Swift developer site.”

    tags: bs apple swift

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

What I’m Reading on 10/21/2014

  • “HostMonster uses the preinstalled version of Python that ships with CentOS. Because of this it is often not the latest release. This article will explain how to install an updated version of python locally.”

    tags: bs python hostmonster

  • “PyDbLite is a fast, pure-Python, untyped, in-memory database engine, using Python syntax to manage data, instead of SQL; a pythonic interface to SQLite using the same syntax as the pure-Python engine for most operations (except database connection and table creation because of each database specificities)”

    tags: bs pydblite

  • “After a long and complicated relationship that first involved just a close partnership with Nokia handling hardware duties, and then Microsoft acquiring Nokia’s phone-making business during what appeared to be a fairly acrimonious separation, there will be no more confusion as to who’s making first-party Windows Phone hardware going forward: they’ll be called just “Microsoft Lumia” devices going forward.”

    tags: bs microsoft nokia

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

What I’m Reading on 10/20/2014

  • “If you installed OS X Yosemite at the end of last week then you’ve no doubt been busy exploring its various tools and features. Here are 17 new things you can do with the software, from hiding the traces of your Web browsing to recording screen activity on an iPad.”

    tags: bs os x yosemite

  • “20th October 2004, ten years ago today, Ubuntu 4.10 (Warty Warthog) was released. While the user community celebrates the decade anniversary today, for me and those of us who worked on it, it was the result of almost eight months of work.”

    tags: bs ubuntu linux

  • IBM (NYSE: IBM) and GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced that they have signed a Definitive Agreement under which GLOBALFOUNDRIES plans to acquire IBM’s global commercial semiconductor technology business, including intellectual property, world-class technologists and technologies related to IBM Microelectronics, subject to completion of applicable regulatory reviews.  GLOBALFOUNDRIES will also become IBM’s exclusive server processor semiconductor technology provider for 22 nanometer (nm), 14nm and 10nm semiconductors for the next 10 years. “

    tags: bs ibm globalfoundries

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

5 mistakes to avoid when creating a mobile app

Over the last several years, I’ve been deeply involved with IBM‘s Mobile efforts and now lead that technology area in IBM Research. In the last year we’ve held several hackathons and other events to get more and more people knowledgeable about how to create mobile apps. So with this experience and recent partnership engagements, let me offer five ways where I think people go wrong when creating an app.

  1. You don’t know who your user is or you are targeting too many kinds of users.
    Mobile apps do not need to be all things to all people: you are allowed to create multiple apps that are fine-tuned to each user role. If a user asks “Why is this function here? It doesn’t apply to me.” you haven’t designed your app well. Different apps can use the same backend data but use it differently.
  2. You are not targeting one or two major functions or pain points.
    Classic desktop and enterprise software have hundreds of features, but this does not work well in the form factors, user interfaces, and interaction patterns of mobile devices. Focus on one main task for your app that solves some specific problem or provides some great feature. As that gets refined and gains acceptance, you can add a small amount of new functionality as long as it does not detract from the main mission of the app. As in the first point above, you can have multiple apps and these can use the same backend data.
  3. Mobile is not essential to your solution.
    Mobile devices are portable and have connectivity while you are away from wifi. While it may be nice to have a mobile version of a desktop or browser app, are you really taking advantage of the device’s features? Have you rethought the processes involved in accomplishing a task? While I would (and have) applied for a mortgage through a desktop browser, there is no way I would want to use the same process on a mobile device. Can your app offer significant usability improvements so that no one would want to use the non-mobile version?
  4. Mobile is an afterthought.
    In this case, you have a really great idea for some system, undoubtedly doing amazing analytics with really important data. At the end of describing what you have, probably for an hour, you then say “and we’ll deliver it on a mobile device.” This makes you buzzword-compliant but not much more when it comes to creating a great app.
  5. Your app is not awesome.
    You know when something is awesome and when it is not. If you start using an app and can’t wait to use it again, it is awesome. If you want to use it when you first wake up in the morning, it is awesome. If it becomes essential in your business or personal life, it is awesome. If you check it a dozen times a day, it might be awesome. If you use it once and forget you have it, it is not awesome. Use design thinking and get a good designer to help you. Practice lean principles to ensure that it gives people enough of what they really want or need.

What I’m Reading on 10/14/2014

  • “This recipe is a weekend project, best attempted with a friend. But believe us, after doing all the chopping and measuring, you will not be let down. Bogre’s meatballs defy gravity, and the spicy sauce pulses with paprika, rosemary and mushrooms. A few tips: mix the pork and beef before adding the rest of the seasonings. Roll the meatballs as gently as possible. And make sure you temper the sour cream before blending it into the sauce. You do this by stirring a few spoonfuls of the hot sauce into the sour cream before adding this back to the remaining sauce. – A&M”

    tags: bs hungarian meatballs

  • “I find the smell of this soup alone soothing. I love the scent and flavor of thyme, and it is prominent here. I also love to taste the Spanish rice with every bite. Nurture yourself with this soup when you’ve come down with a cold. It makes you feel nourished, and it’s just the right amount of food.”

    tags: bs mexican chicken soup

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

What I’m Reading on 10/13/2014

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What I’m Reading on 10/11/2014

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What I’m Reading on 10/06/2014

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