Monday, September 26, 2011

Waiting for Amazon's Kindle Tablet

Amazon’s Kindle Tablet Is Very Real. I’ve Seen It, Played With It.;
Again, the device is a 7-inch tablet with a capacitive touch screen. It is multi-touch, but from what I saw, I believe the reports that it relies on a two-finger multi-touch (instead of 10-finger, like the iPad uses) are accurate. This will be the first Kindle with a full-color screen. And yes, it is back-lit. There is no e-ink to be found anywhere on this device.
Why Amazon's Kindle tablet can succeed where others have failed.

Art of the Day

“Immaculee,” Numero, 2007

Friday, September 23, 2011

Marketers target Men

Marketers are also devoting much more effort to marketing to men—or, as Mr Lindstrom puts it, getting men to shop like women. In 1995 only 53% of American men admitted to shopping for themselves. That figure has risen to 75%. Many are buying traditionally “female” products; marketers created a $27 billion “male grooming” industry from nothing. They bombard men with images that were once reserved for women: think of Abercrombie & Fitch’s buff, topless hunks. (Not all hunks are appealing, however. The firm offered to pay a star of “Jersey Shore”, a crass reality show, not to wear its clothes.)
- Source: The Economist

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Highly Recommended Podcast- Expert Prediction

The Folly of Prediction
TETLOCK: That experts thought they knew more than they knew.That there was a systematic gap between subjective probabilities that experts were assigning to possible futures and the objective likelihoods of those futures materializing.
DUBNER: Let me translate that for you. The experts were pretty awful. And you think: awful compared to what? Did they beat a monkey with a dartboard?
TETLOCK: Oh, the monkey with a dartboard comparison, that comes back to haunt me all the time. But with respect to how they did relative to, say, a baseline group of Berkeley undergraduates making predictions, they did somewhat better than that. Did they do better than an extrapolation algorithm? No, they did not. They did for the most part a little bit worse than that. How did they do relative to purely random guessing strategy? Well, they did a little bit better than that, but not as much as you might hope.
DUBNER: That “extrapolation algorithm” that Tetlock mentioned? That’s simply a computer programmed to predict “no change in current situation.” So it turned out these smart, experienced, confident experts predicted the political future about as well, if not slightly worse, than the average daily reader of The New York Times.
TETLOCK: I think the most important takeaway would be that the experts are, they think they know more than they do. They were systematically overconfident. Some experts were really massively overconfident. And we are able to identify those experts based on some of their characteristics of their belief system and their cognitive style, their thinking style
DUBNER: Hey, guess what, Sunshine? Al Gore didn’t win Florida. Didn’t become president either. Try walking that one back. So we are congenital predictors, but our predictions are often wrong. What then? How do you defend your bad predictions? I asked Philip Tetlock what all those political experts said when he showed them their results. He had already stashed their excuses in a neat taxonomy:

TETLOCK: So, if you thought that Gorbachev for example, was a fluke, you might argue, well my understanding of the Soviet political system is fundamentally right, and the Soviet Politburo, but for some quirky statistical aberration of the Soviet Politburo would have gone for a more conservative candidate. Another argument might be, well I predicted that Canada would disintegrate, that Quebec would secede from Canada, and it didn’t secede, but the secession almost did succeed because there was a fifty point one percentage vote against secession, and that’s well within the margin of sampling error.
DUBNER: Are there others you want to name?
TETLOCK: Well another popular prediction is “off on timing.” That comes up quite frequently in the financial world as well. Many very sophisticated students of finance have commented on how hard it is, saying the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay liquid, I think is George Soros’s expression. So, “off on timing” is a fairly popular belief-system defense as well. And I predicted that Canada would be gone. And you know what? It’s not gone yet. But just hold on.
DUBNER: You answered very economically when I asked you what are the characteristics of a bad predictor; you used one word, dogmatismm. What are the characteristics, then, of a good one?
TETLOCK: Capacity for constructive self-criticism.
DUBNER: How does that self-criticism come into play and actually change the course of the prediction?
TETLOCK: Well, one sign that you’re capable of constructive self-criticism is that you’re not dumbfounded by the question: What would it take to convince you you’re wrong? If you can’t answer that question you can take that as a warning sign.
DUBNER: In his study, Tetlock found that one factor was more important than any other in someone’s predictive ability: cognitive style. You know the story about the fox and the hedgehog?
TETLOCK: Isaiah Berlin tells us that the quotation comes from the Greek warrior poet Archilichus 2,500 years ago. And the rough translation was the fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing.
DUBNER: So, talk to me about what the foxes do as predictors and what the hedgehogs do as predictors.
TETLOCK: Sure. The foxes tend to have a rather eclectic, opportunistic approach to forecasting. They’re very pragmatic. A famous aphorism by Deng Xiaoping was he “didn’t care if the cat was white or black as long as it caught mice.” And I think the attitude of many foxes is they really didn’t care whether ideas came from the left or the right, they tended to deploy them rather flexibly in deriving predictions. So they often borrowed ideas across schools of thought that hedgehogs viewed as more sacrosanct. There are many subspecies of hedgehog. But what they have in common is a tendency to approach forecasting as a deductive, top-down exercise. They start off with some abstract principles, and they apply those abstract principles to messy, real-world situations, and the fit is often decidedly imperfect.
DUBNER: So foxes tend to be less dogmatic than hedgehogs, which makes them better predictors. But, if you had to guess, who do you think more likely to show up TV or in an op-ed column, the pragmatic, nuanced fox or the know-it-all hedgehog?
DUBNER: You got it!
TETLOCK: Hedgehogs, I think, are more likely to offer quotable sound bites, whereas foxes are more likely to offer rather complex, caveat-laden sound bites. They’re not sound bites anymore if they’re complex and caveat-laden.

Neuroscience of Personality and Love Therapy

Radiance House Social Bot Dario Nardi Check out their iPhone apps.

Steven Levitt on Love

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Google Infographic

Random Blog- Logic is Variable

From the Pakistani blog-
A phrase written on sand by a small boy who lost his parents in flood,"Dear River, I will never forgive you, I will never forgive you, even if your waves touch my feet million times."

Marketing Tips for Amazon

Have requested a lot of books to be available in Kindle- Amazon never seems to inform when that book is available on Kindle.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Free Reads from Kindle

Maths for Grownups
Today is your lucky day. Actually, this week is your lucky week!

Until Friday, September 10, you can download Math for Grownups for free — yep, $0 0¢ — on your eReader or computer. That’s how much I and my publisher (Adams Media) love you.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Female adolescent's sexual decision-making

What Could You Do? is a theory-based interactive DVD designed to educate young women about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV/AIDS, chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, genital warts, trichomoniasis, and hepatitis B. The DVD also provides information about how to make less risky sexual choices and how to use condoms correctly. Watching this DVD has been shown to increase abstinence, prevent condom failure, and reduce reported STD diagnosis.

From Center for Risk Perception and Communication.


Is gambling the future of Bitcoin- from the comments to James Surowiecki's column on Bitcoin;

I'm the CEO of, which is the only complete, legal Bitcoin casino. First off, Rob Lister's absolutely right, the difficulty of actually acquiring Bitcoins is partially responsible for the decline in trade, and partially responsible for propping up their value. That said, we view them as an almost-miraculous medium of exchange.

We're a legal casino, and we're not interested in trying to leverage Bitcoin's potential for conducting undesirable activities. That said, it's been our observation that a large majority of our signups (3/4ths or more) are Americans who can't gamble online, who've figured out the Bitcoin system and are trying to play. We have to turn them away to maintain our status...but plenty of other startup gaming houses don't. And it's only a matter of time before other casinos jump on this as a payment method that abstracts their legal liability in such a way that it can't be traced back to them. We don't, because we're paranoid.

But we do think that gaming is going to be huge for Bitcoin, for exactly the reasons you described in the article. It requires what Bitcoin provides: Anonymity, low transaction fees, rapid transactions. It also has the potential to move a huge amount of short-term trading through the market. We peg our deposits to USD, because we don't want to suffer the risk of doing everything in Bitcoin. When a majority of Bitcoin trades are happening to facilitate these types of transactions, they'll overwhelm the speculation in the market. The technologies to make it easier for the average Joe to buy Bitcoin are coming out right now, or in the works. What it will take to make the currency stable in the long term are businesses like ours that use it day in, day out for legal transactions just like we'd use PayPal or another e-wallet. We've already got depositors who figured out how to get Bitcoin just to play our games -- from countries where they don't absolutely have to go around the law to do so. The savings is so dramatic for us that I'd prefer to never use any other payment method. We're hedging our bets, but in the process we'll be opening the loop and providing yet another method for entry in and out of Bitcoin, by taking deposits in other currencies and allowing withdrawals to BTC. Points of entry right now are multiplying logarithmically and I don't see a reason why -- regardless of whether the current value of BTC holds or drops back to $0.01 -- it won't continue to be a viable payment method for us. At a baseline, it's at least as valuable as the 5-7% transaction fee we'd be paying with any other method.

Three Penny Review- Cover Art

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Bitcoin vs PayPal

Paypal and other online payment services are reliant on existing financial institutions to work. Your account is generally tied to a credit card or a checking/savings account—meaning that whenever you spend money, you're subject to the same restrictions and limitations you would have for using those. So, let's say you had tied your PayPal account to Visa with a $2,000 credit limit. Before making an online purchase in excess of that amount, you'd have to arrange for a credit extension or make changes to the source PayPal was drawing from. Using bitcoins, users can spend as much as they want—as long as they have a sufficient number of coins to cover the charge.

At the same time, because there's no way for a bitcoin account to be frozen, users can transfer funds wherever they like. For example, last year PayPal (as well as Visa and MasterCard blocked users from donating funds to WikiLeaks. Bitcoin donations, however, went through without a hiccup.


Should I wait for the Amazon Tablet

FT has lunch with Bill Bratton

In the case of the British police, he thinks reform needs to incorporate several strands. First, he believes that police forces need plenty of bodies: in LA, for example, he campaigned successfully to hire another 1,000 police, in the face of severe political opposition. Second, he is strongly committed to the so-called Compstat technique of policing, which he helped develop. This involves using intensive data collection and intelligence to track detailed movements of groups in small neighbourhoods, and then follow up repeatedly, with so-called “predictive policing”.

But, contrary to his “supercop” tag, he also believes in community involvement: the police need to be constantly visible and accessible, and create community pride through small steps. This last policy is often referred as the “broken windows” policy, referring to the idea, put forward in the early 1980s by social scientists James Q Wilson and George L Kelling, that you must address minor offences on the street in order to build morale and uphold a sense of order. Or as he says, the police must “address the little things as well as the big things”; cutting the murder rate will not have impact if residents still see graffiti and prostitutes.

“American and British policing to this day tends to be very exclusive and exclusionary, but my style of policing has always been very inclusive – I bring a lot of people together from different backgrounds, who might not always want to work together. Being a successful police chief today is like being in a circus: a centre-ring with lions, tigers and bears – you have these animals which would normally kill each other, but through your control and influence they perform. A successful police chief has to work with the good, bad and ugly.” he explains. ...

Instead, he talks about poverty and social responsibility. “Policing and society in both your country and mine in the 1960s and 1970s excused a way of behaviour and created entitlement programmes around the idea that crime was caused by racism, poverty, demographics and so on.

“But as a policeman I always had a different perspective. Crime can be influenced by poverty but it’s always caused by human behaviour ... Police are charged with controlling that behaviour. It is crucial to maintain social order,” he argues. Similarly, he does not want to blame the gang culture just on economics; what is also going on is the “distintegration of the family ... Humans are social animals, they want to belong to something.”

Bill Bratton says he can lead police out of 'crisis' despite budget cuts
Bratton said US police chiefs had shown their British counterparts the way, securing large falls in crime despite facing falling budgets. In LA, where he stepped down as police chief in 2009, despite high unemployment and a 15% budget cut, crime is down by 10%.

Bratton said: "You can run around saying, 'The sky is falling in, the sky is falling in,' or you actually do something about it. You have to play the hand you're dealt. I've always dealt initially with budget cuts.

"Out of crisis come opportunities. If you want to speed up the process of change, nothing does it better than a good old crisis."