Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wolfram Statistics Course Assistant App Comes to iOS

This one is from the Wolfram Alpha statistics blogging site. I think it's a great app for learning and playing with introductory statistics on your ipads and iphones. Good job by Wolfram alpha.


Wolfram|Alpha Blog : Wolfram Statistics Course Assistant App Comes to iOS

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      Thursday, May 26, 2011

      A very readable post on how Markdown is the new Word 5.1

      Read this in John Gruber's blog recently. Markdown is really good and simple.
      Navigated from Daring Fireball | shared via feedly mobile

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      Monday, May 23, 2011

      An interesting writing strategy combining outlines and text, one that should work well for most of us #productivity

      Read below the interesting writing strategies of prof Gelman. I think it describes very well the strategies of many of us and I think his new strategy can be very productive, particularly if combined with something like a mind map.
      My new writing strategy

      In high school and college I would write long assignments using a series of outlines. I'd start with a single sheet where I'd write down the key phrases, connect them with lines, and then write more and more phrases until the page was filled up. Then I'd write a series of outlines, culminating in a sentence-level outline that was roughly one line per sentence of the paper. Then I'd write. It worked pretty well. Or horribly, depending on how you look at it. I was able to produce 10-page papers etc. on time. But I think it crippled my writing style for years. It's taken me a long time to learn how to write directly--to explain clearly what I've done and why. And I'm still working on the "why" part. There's a thin line between verbosity and terseness.

      I went to MIT and my roommate was a computer science major. He wrote me a word processor on his Atari 800, which did the job pretty well. For my senior thesis I broke down and used the computers in campus. I formatted it in troff which worked out just fine. I'd

      In grad school I moved toward the Latex approach of starting with the template and an outline (starting with the Introduction and ending with Discussion and References),ne th then putting in paragraphs here and there until the paper was done. I followed the same approach for my first few books.

      Blogging was different. When I blog I tend to start at the beginning and just keep writing until I'm done. I've learned that it's best to write an entry all at once--it's hard to come back a day or a week later to fill in any gaps. I think this has helped my writing style and my writing efficiency. The only trouble is that my entries tend to be story-like rather than article-like. In a story you begin with the motivation and then gradually reveal what's happening. When I'm blogging I commonly start at one place but then, once I'm halfway through, I realize I want to go somewhere else. In contrast, in a proper article you jump right in and say the key point right away, and everything gets structured from there. I've tried to improve my blog-writing by contracting introductory paragraphs into introductory sentences.

      I've been blogging for over six years, and it's affected my writing. More and more I write articles from beginning to end. It's worked for me to use Word rather than Latex. Somehow in Word, as in the blogging window, it's easy for me to just get started and write, whereas in Latex everything's just too structured. Really what's relevant here, though, is the style not the software.

      Sometimes, though, I have a complicated argument to make and it helps to outline it first. In that case I'll write the outline and then use it as the basis for an article.

      But recently I came up with a new strategy--the best of both worlds, perhaps. I write the outline but then set it aside and write the article from scratch, from the beginning, not worrying about the outline. The purpose of the outline is to get everything down so I don't forget any key ideas. Having the outline gives me the freedom to write the article without worrying that I might be missing something--I can always check the outline at the end.

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      Saturday, May 21, 2011

      Zanran Numerical Data Search is a great search engine for almost all kind of data with PDF reports, love it #data #search #zanran

      The zanran website (see the link below) is a very useful search engine to search for real world data. The interface is very simple, a lot of features are still not available (the site is still in beta), but I found the site very useful to search for targeted data in a number of domains. The results are returned in the form of direct PDF summaries and that is very helpful. I think it would be a good idea to mash up or at least include zanran with something like blekko, a search program that enables social search and targeted filtering to search for data. This is a tremendous resource that I'd like to share here.
      The link to visit is below:

      What book blurbs mean, Ward Six writes a Literary blurb translation guide #clever #lazyweb

      Came across this set of "takes" on literary blurbs linked from Gelman's page (see below). Interesting.
      Here are some sample gems. The list is long, check out the ward six link if it interests you.

       "luminous prose" = too many goddam words
      "a tour-de-force" = threw it across the room
      "a triumph" = huge advance
      "a commanding new voice in fiction" = girlfriend's brother wrote it
      "sublime" = didn't know what the hell was going on
      "unflinching artistry" = lots of boobs and stabbing
      "grabs you on page 1 and won't let go" = stuck reading it on long flight
      "achingly beautiful" = really long sentences
      "brilliant" = smarty-pants


      Friday, May 20, 2011

      Techcrunch's Look At The Size And Shape Of The Geosocial Universe In 2011, #lazyweb

      Saw this interesting infogrqphic from the Techcrunch website on the size of the social sphere. Note that China's own version of Facebook shows phenomenal growth. The other notable feature is the rise of twitter, which I personally consider a great microblogging platform in itself, as well as being a great social information exchange space. I'd have expected Tumblr or posterous, or gowalla of blogger or wordpress show up in the constellation somewhere. The other interesting statistics is about 5.7 billion people with mobiles, the figure does not obviously indicate 5.7 billion people use mobile devices as people often have more than one mobile phones so I'd not take the claim of 77% people with mobile without a pinch of salt. All in all, very interesting graphic.

      Anyway, here's the interesting and full byte,
      Infographic: A Look At The Size And Shape Of The Geosocial Universe In 2011
      Published on TechCrunch | shared via feedly mobile

      Thanks to Jesse Thomas of interactive design agency JESS3, we now have an updated look at the structure of the geosocial universe as it exists in anno domini 2011. It wasn’t so long ago that the International Astronomical Union booted Pluto out of the solar system or that MySpace was overtaking Yahoo! and Google as the most-visited site in the U.S. Well, a few rotations around the sun later, and the overall shape of the geosocial universe has changed dramatically. New stars have been born and others have been scattered out across the cold recesses of Internet space. Today, Myspace is sputtering, Skype is part of the Microsoft solar system, and LinkedIn is being traded publicly. The whacky flux continues.

      As you’ll see, Thomas’ infographic shows the current size of major social networks as well as the other well-known online services we use on a daily basis relative to their peers. It also overlays the present size of each company’s mobile user base. You’ll see Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, MySpace, LinkedIn, and more. You can also check out the agency’s infographic from last year to see the relative changes. Notable differences include: The rise of Chinese Qzone and Twitter, the fall of Myspace, and the stasis of Friendster.

      Some other notable trends in the geosocial universe, courtesy of JESS3:

      • Mobile: 5.3 billion mobile devices are used worldwide — that’s 77 percent of the world’s population
      • Smartphones: 21.8 percent of all mobile devices are smartphones. Despite what one might think, Apple does not top the list in sales—Nokia does
      • Skype: Mobile usage continues to increase thanks to Skype’s wise investment in apps and its mobile platform
      • Facebook: Now tops 629 million registered users with almost 250 million people accessing the site via mobile
      • Qzone: China’s version of Facebook, Qzone, is experiencing supernova-like growth with 480 million registered users
      • Twitter: Broke the 200 million registered user mark with nearly 40 percent of people tweeting via mobile
      • Email: Hotmail still dominates email, but Gmail is gaining fast
      • Yelp: Yelp is topping 50 million unique visitors per month. Its move to team up with OpenTable earlier this year will only increase its relevancy
      • Foursquare and Gowalla: These geosocial specialists are still growing, but growth seems to be slowing down a bit

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      Thursday, May 19, 2011

      Techcrunch reports Amazon’s Kindle Ebook Sales Surpass Print (It Only Took Four Years)

      That Was Fast: Amazon’s Kindle Ebook Sales Surpass Print (It Only Took Four Years)
      Published on TechCrunch | shared via feedly mobile

      Five years ago, if you’d told a fellow book lover that eBooks were poised to surge in popularity and overtake traditional books, you probably would have been met with a scoff and a dismissal about reading too much sci-fi. And yet here we are: Amazon has just announced that it is now selling more eBooks than it is selling print editions, a mere four years after launching the Kindle. Obviously Amazon doesn’t account for all print or eBook sales, but it’s a very impressive milestone.

      Then again, the news doesn’t come as a huge surprise if you’ve been following the Kindle’s growth. Kindle eBook sales surpassed Amazon’s hardcover sales back in July 2010, and they surpassed paperback sales in January of this year. But now it’s bested both of them combined. Note that this does not include the free books that many Kindle users take advantage of — these are all paid books.

      The quick rise of the Kindle can be attributed, at least in part, to the steep price cuts Amazon has been making. A year ago the device cost $259. Amazon slashed it to $189 in June 2010, then began offering a Wi-fi only version last summer for $139. And now it’s gone even lower with an ad-supported version for only $114. Amazon says that this new model, which is called ‘Kindle with Special Offers’, is already selling more than the other Kindle devices.

      Amazon also says that 2011 has had the fastest year over year growth rate for its U.S. books sales in over a decade, including both eBooks and print — and that Kindle eBook sales are up 3x in 2011 from what they were this time last year.

      Hey, remember when the iPad was going to kill the Kindle?

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      Tuesday, May 17, 2011

      Ten Commandments of Clinical Research

      This is another of those great posts that you come across on occasional blog surfing that must be shared widely. I think these ten commandments pretty much sums up the reality of research in any context any time. You need teamwork, and then to gel the team together, meet the pressure of deadlines, write reports and take care of publications needs, are not trivial at all. Then there is the pressure of overwork, and I feel, for me, the challenge of never being able to say no.

      Path140, pathology in 140 characters, from Life in the FastLane Medical Blog

      Brilliant idea that different pathological concepts are presented in the form of short 140 character limit statements. Love it. 
      Navigated from Life in the FastLane Medical Blog | shared via feedly mobile

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      Saturday, May 14, 2011

      Now reading the McKinsey Report on Big data makes a very interesting reading and case for reflection

      Reading the McKinsey report on big data. They have stressed on five domains on the characteristics of use of big data and their leverage points (transparency, innovation, automated algorithm generation for decision making, stratified analysis of data, and enabling experimentation for agencies that implement them), I think makes good sense for some traditional players that have not taken big data seriously for their productivity and efficiency perspective, say education or health care sector. Things may change. I felt the way they described big data is a stronger emphasis on complexity rather than any notion of largeness in size.

      Wednesday, May 11, 2011

      Wednesday, May 4, 2011

      How to Learn R | inside-R | A Community Site for R

      I'd strongly recommend anyone starting out with R, ( a statistical computing environment, to read this introductory blog. Has really good advice on books, and websites and blogs.
      Navigated from R-bloggers | shared via feedly mobile

      Derek K. Miller’s Last Post

      This is an extraordinary exemplar of how people write their own obits. Quite moving really. 
      Derek K. Miller’s Last Post
      Published on Daring Fireball | shared via feedly mobile

      Derek K. Miller:

      Here it is. I’m dead, and this is my last post to my blog. In advance, I asked that once my body finally shut down from the punishments of my cancer, then my family and friends publish this prepared message I wrote — the first part of the process of turning this from an active website to an archive.

      If you knew me at all in real life, you probably heard the news already from another source, but however you found out, consider this a confirmation: I was born on June 30, 1969 in Vancouver, Canada, and I died in Burnaby on May 3, 2011, age 41, of complications from stage 4 metastatic colorectal cancer. We all knew this was coming.

      He went down swinging, and with astounding class, dignity, bravery, and openness.

      Update: Fireballed, cached here if you can’t reach his site.

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