Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Coworking Say What?

Rights of Way is a local Portland blog that does a great job of capturing local pedestrian and public space issues.  In the latest post, they show a developer’s plan to update the old Binga’s Wingas block with a new coworking building.

Coworking offers an alternative to individuals who would normally work at home.  They get some people interaction plus shared resources – copier, wifi. 

Senate Forecasts

Nate Silver updated his senate forecast and the Democrats are now projected to have 55.2 seats come November, Republicans 44.2.  He also projects 0.6 Charlie Christs which I think is funny (expected value how cool are you).

What’s really interesting from a geek political perspective is the war brewing between Silver and Research 2000 (R2K), a polling company.  Daily Kos is suing R2K alleging that they fake their polling data, and Nate’s right there supporting the Kos with cool graphs like these showing the difference in week to week changes between R2K and Gallup.

Remember your normal distribution.  If I’m a polling company and I want to fake data, I never pick the same value (hence no 0’s in the left) and I add 1 or subtract 1 every week so it looks like it changes.  But if I’m sampling data, I vary normally which is the nice bell curve on the right.

The point is that not all polling companies are the same.  Nate’s been trying to point this out, the media doesn’t care, and he’s been starting a campaign for the political rating industry to grade polling companies based on performance.  Anyways, you can follow the drama at his blog

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Too Good Not to Post

That xkcd guy can be pretty weird, but this is great.


I Like to Draw … but This Guy Really Likes to Draw

Drawing aside, there’s some really cool nuggets of knowledge in this little video.  Are you present hedonistic, past negative, past positive, or future oriented?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This will Change our World

Hello Hal.
Hello Mugaz reader.

Imagine a scenario where your computer knows who you are and can answer any question you ask. Think it's 100 years in the future?

Think again. IBM has developed Watson, a computer which can compete against past winners in Jeopardy! And it's not doing poorly. In fact, it can take the Jeopardy question "A ‘Green Acres’ star goes existential (& French) as the author of ‘The Fall" and return Who is Eddie Albert Camus. Not in minutes, and not like Google which returns similar pages where you might find the answer. You get the answer in seconds. The potential for this is enormous, and if you want to know what the future looks like, read this article.

And then there's the Kinect, the soon to be release Microsoft gaming system which recognizes faces (and motions of players). It can log you into your system and queue up your world without you ever entering a password.

What this means is that in the not-too-distant future, you'll be able to logon to a computer and have the computer recognize you. It will bring up your medical history and combine it with all of its knowledge on symptoms and probabilities of your condition, then render a diagnosis on the spot. Add Netflix-like shipping of medications, and the doctor is the next horse and buggy. And this isn't science fiction.

In 1981 Time named the computer the machine of the year and it was no mystery what was about to change us in the 1980s. I suspect Watson should be this years' machine of the year, for he will certainly change our world.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Comment Fishing

Does anybody think that the BP spill changes the argument for nuclear energy as an alternative to fossil fuels?  Are the two animals – nuclear production and oil production – really the same beast of a different color?  Put your thoughts in the comments.  Best comment wins a MuGaz t-shirt.

Moving to Maine?

Forbes has a cool app that lets you look at who moved where in 2008, based on IRS data.

Drilling into Cumberland County, here are some random things :

  • More people moved to Portsmouth from Portland than the other way around. 148 people moved to Portsmouth; 113 moved to Portland. 
  • Northern Maine is moving to Southern Maine.  All of the counties north of Augusta: Aroostoock, Penobscot, Washington, Hancock, Somerset, Waldo had more people moving to Cumberland County than the other way around.
  • 44 people moved to Arizona from Portland.  No one moved to Portland from Arizona.
  • Nobody from Portland moved to Arkansas.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Politics … well Sort of

Remember Am I Hot or Not, that tech-boom afternoon you spent rating people on looks, waiting for the ten after 3 hours of sixes.  Courtesy of Tom Scott, a self admitted geek comedian and blogger, we have Sexual Congress.  Make sure to look at winners, losers, and statistics after you play for a while.


This is absurd

Rex. W. Tillerson doesn’t know anything about the chemical industry apparently.  In defending BP and the oil industry, he’s committed the “there’s no gambling going on here” sin in front of a watching world.  May Jon Stewart crucify him in the public arena.

If you haven’t seen his comments, he says – quoting the Wall Street Journal - “that if [oil] companies follow proper well design, drilling, maintenance, and training procedures accidents like Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20 ‘should not occur.’  Sure, BP went over the top in insuring this accident happened by pushing deadlines and taking shortcuts; however, the reality is that there’s no industry immune to accidents.  The impunity of Rex’s comments only cements the case that these guys were not planning for major disasters in any real form.  Chemical extraction and processing is inheritantly risky and we should be mandating that some form of the oil industries billion dollar profits go to preparation for disaster.  With hundreds of oil rigs off of the Gulf of Mexico,  this wasn’t a matter of IF but a matter of WHEN. 


Ezra Klein has an excellent post about how the true cost of gasoline is starting to reveal itself.  Ughhh … this whole thing is so maddening.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Deep Thoughts … by Jack Handy

Think you stepped in a deep puddle once.  That’s nothing … A Tour of World Depths.

Things I Learned in Kindergarten

This should be one of them.  Create geeks early I say.

Along the geek line, this popped up on a sociological website – what do you consider a luxury? a necessity?  I love that car is decreasing. 


Jim – 3% of people think an iDevice is a necessity.  No doubt do to Angry Birds


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bing Maps - Aaarghhh

Bing has a new Silverlight tool that let’s you stylize your destination maps.  This is the pirate map format for 300 Fore St, Portland Maine.  Go to Bing Destination Maps, enter a destination, give it a name, and keep clicking Continue.   I love the fold marks.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

As of 11:43PM Central Time


Libby Mitchell wins.  Paul LePage wins.  This will be a huge showdown in November.  A quick MuGaz calculation shows 78,767 votes for Democrats and 82,144 votes for Republicans.  Libby’s and LePage’s percentage of the overall vote was about equal (35.1% and 38.1%).  Starting out the gate, these two have nearly equal support.  So…. bring on November.

Super Duper Tuesday

Another post from the convention center in New Orleans.  Today is, of course, super duper – almost – Tuesday.  There are votes in 12 states today.  There’s a nice rundown here.

As we vote, I wondered why the second Tuesday.  Couldn’t find much on why the second Tuesday in June but it seems likely that it followed the same second Tuesday in November model.  So why the second Tuesday in November? Here’s a neat little explanation.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Posting from New Orleans

In the middle of the keynote presentation of the Microsoft Developers Network conference in New Orleans.  There’s a guy talking about “the cloud”.  It’s big here.


While he’s talking, I’m reading an awesome piece from Politics Daily on how evangelicals are coming around regarding the environment.  The best line :

We've had an inadequate view of human sin. Because we believe in free markets, we've acted as though this means we should trust corporations to protect the natural resources and habitats. But a laissez-faire view of government regulation of corporations is akin to the youth minister who lets the teenage girl and boy sleep in the same sleeping bag at church camp because he "believes in young people."

Thanks Grant for the recommendation on Blue like Jazz – finished it on the plane and tied in very well to this article.

Back to the cloud.  Viewing some Communicator 14 releases that seem to replace Live Meeting and Messenger and wraps together some enterprise apps into a single package.   Oh cool, people are tweeting on it from this room when I Google Communicator 14.  Whoa, stand down inner geek.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Always look on the Bright Side of Life

Here’s a quick one.  Happiness comes with age. Or so says Gallup.


It’s Getting Real


Several cool things are converging in Washington.

1) Obama’s Executive Order in December 2009 which directs departments to make their content more “transparent, participatory, and collaborative”.

2) Stimulus initiatives – like this one on page 136 of the Stimulus Bill (HR1) that directs $40M to be “allocated at the discretion of the HHS Secretary provided, That the funding … shall be used to accelerate the development and dissemination of research assessing the comparative effectiveness of health care treatments and strategies”

3) Health Care Bill mandates (somewhere in here)

Taken together, we’re finally starting to see some of the benefits of a government working on a problem.  Today, the HHS is announcing which provides a central repository for health related data sets, tools, and records including standards on health related data.

It’s not glamorous. It’s data.  But it’s government working.  And that’s cool.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

For Reference

The twenty-first century infographic version of the School House Rock video.



Why do we study history?

The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have finally found a great way to bring attention to their cause.  International waters, food and refugees and emergency supplies.   Strong tactics.  This is the perfect recipe to end oppression.  And much more effective than terrorism.  Where could the Palestinians possibly have learned this?

Oh yeah, from the Israelis themselves.  The Haganah  was the 1940s Jewish movement to resist the immigration restrictions to Palestine by the British after World War II.  100,000 Jews fought blockades and imprisonment in over 100 ships leaving from European ports (including Turkey). 

On passive resistance, there’s a great scene in the film Ghandi where an early Ghandi fights South African apartheid and which sums up everything. It’s one of my favorites – dedicate 3 minutes and 39 seconds to this. 


7 days away

Forgetting who you like, who runs the best in November against a Republican?  My thinking is that Libby, who arguably could be the most effective – she knows Augusta inside and out – will be a harder sell to Maine independents than Rosa, McGowan, or Rowe.  (note: this is a change from our car conversation Grant) The backdrop of November is likely to be fiscal control and getting Maine’s businesses going.  Hard to see Libby playing to that although she is a good campaigner.  Rosa’s campaign style – although spendy – hasn’t impressed me.  Not sure how much support Rowe has up north.  Not that this is a huge factor but comes into play (half of Maine’s population is in D2).  Press Herald has an interesting write-up on McGowan as the best of the four candidates -  He’s a small business owner, experience in gov’t, and has thrown out some bold initiatives that will shut down any Republican attacks.

Leaning towards McGowan.  Libby is awesome but not sure she’s the best of the four to run in November. Thoughts?

Also …

There are 5 bond issues on the ballot; here’s a summary: Press Herald has a couple of write-ups on initiative three and five.

with respect to the XKCD

This seemed appropriate for our blog….


Technorati Tags: