Categories ▸ Nerdery
Update: Since writing this post, I’ve repeatedly tried to delete the offending review from my profile, but Google Scholar keeps re-inserting it as part of its automated trawl through its corpus of articles. So it seems that the robots are determined to grant me these citations whether I want them or not.
Google Scholar is one of the most visible and widely-used examples of the rise of “impact measurement” in academia.
Here are two small sites I made recently, and which I may continue to tweak and expand. The first, plain-text.co, presents “The Plain Person’s Guide to Plain-Text Social Science”. It is designed to address some questions about managing research and writing projects in the social sciences using plain-text and free or mostly-free tools like Emacs (or other text editors), R, pandoc, and make. The second, vissoc.co which I’ve mentioned before, compiles notes from a short course in data visualization I taught last semester.
The FBI obtained a court order requiring Apple to unlock an iPhone 5C belonging to the San Bernardino killer. A public letter from Tim Cook lays out the grounds for Apple’s refusal. The debate about this conflict is developing quickly on both the technical side of things and the public policy side.
As a sidelight to this debate, I want to ask why is it that Apple, of all companies, is the one taking such a strong stand on this issue?
In the next week or two I’ll be talking to some social science students about tools for doing research and writing up results. Over the years I’ve accumulated various things on the topic, ranging from bits of advice to templates or things I use myself. My focus is on managing the various pieces of the work process in plain-text, especially when it comes to writing code you can read later, and keeping track of the work you’ve done.
This week’s ATP episode covers the tide of complaints about Apple’s software quality problem. There’s some good sputtering from John. The gist is that niggling software problems have become much more pervasive, even as dramatic events like full-on application crashes are rarer. An important secondary point is that, partly as a consequence of the ubiquity of cloud services and partly as a result of Apple’s choices in software design, when these errors happen they often present themselves to the user in an especially opaque way.
Continuing my nonremunerative career as an IT Analyst, I updated my Apple Sales plots to the most recent (end of 2015) round of quarterly data. These plots were originally inspired by Dr Drang, and the trend for the iPad (shown below) continues to confirm his views. I also took the opportunity to clean up the code a little, and to fix a small problem in the earlier versions. The x-axis of the “Remainder” panel didn’t line up properly with the line plots above and below it.
Marissa Mayer’s performance as CEO of Yahoo has been criticized by various people. Yesterday, Eric Jackson, an investment fund manager, sent a 99-slide presentation to Yahoo’s board outlining his best case against Mayer. Paging through the presentation/hatchet-job gives some insight into what passes for analysis in the world of corporate investment and finance. I’m not too interested in the details. From a design and communication point of view, though, the slides are generally terrible.
I’m teaching a short graduate seminar on Data Visualization with R this semester. Following Matt Salganik, I wanted students to be able to submit homework or other assignments as R Markdown files, but to have a way to make sure their R code passed some basic stylistic checks provided by lintr before they submitted it to me. Students write .Rnw files containing discussion or notes interspersed with chunks of R code.
In an effort to not lose all of my lucrative Consulting Thinkfluanalyst income to the snowman, I redrew my LOESS and LTS decompositions of Apple’s quarterly sales data by product. They now extend to Q2 2015. First, here’s a plot of the trends showing the individual sales figures with a LOESS smoother fitted to them.
Figure 1. Quarterly sales data for Apple Macs, iPhones, and iPads. Here’s the Mac by itself, which continues to grow healthily (unlike the rest of the PC industry), just on a smaller scale than other Apple products.
The hosts at Accidental Tech Podcast have been thinking about how to broaden their base of listeners to include more women. Good for them. They’re getting plenty of advice (and a certain amount of flak), which I won’t add to. But in general when doing this kind of thing it can be helpful to look back on what your past practice has been. For example, it can be useful to audit one’s own habits of linking and engagement.
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