When it comes to listening to audio (mostly podcasts, some music) I am still using an older model iPod. For me it is a good size and I like the fact that there is still a scroll wheel - ie physical control buttons. I have the iPod on a lanyard so that I can use it without having to pull it out of my pocket every time I want to advance a track or change the volume.
My problem has been that there are times when I am in London when traffic noise makes it hard to hear what I am listening to. There is a volume cap that seems to be set very low (I’m not into playing things so loud it will hurt my hearing, so if things are gong to get too loud for a period of time I will just switch the iPod off.)
So I was looking for a way to get around the volume cap, and the solution I found (that I did not know existed) was a piece of hardware – the FiiO E05 Headphone Amplifier. There is a more recent model but this was at a good price point.
I am very impressed. I bought it for increased volume, but the main thing I’ve found is the improvement in sound quality. I am hearing parts of music tracks that I have never heard before. I am actually listening to more music as a result. Even spoken word audio sounds a bit better. The reviews also recommended the Dock cable (seen above) , so I went for that – apparently this is the reason for the quality improvement. It won’t work with newer model (Apple) devices with the Lightning connector, but I am not looking for that at the moment.
There are two opposing points of view…
Virtually any article today about big data inevitably turns to the notion that the country is suffering from a crucial shortage of data scientists.
What seems to be missing from all of these discussions, though, is a dialogue about how to steer around this bottleneck and make big data directly accessible to business leaders.
While difficult to generalize, there are three main roles served by the data scientist: data architecture, machine learning, and analytics.
The solution then lies in creating fit-to-purpose products and solutions that abstract away as much of the technical complexity as possible, so that the power of big data can be put into the hands of business users.
Data scientists are changing the way decisions happen by making better use of big data. Rather than finding ways around them, we need to make data science more accessible as a profession and need to provide easier tools for data scientists.
We build new systems that are flexible and dynamic and create more new jobs — such as data scientists — to analyze and build models for these new systems. It is obvious that in such a world, where static models cannot keep up, data scientists will be indispensable.
…data scientists are the designers and the content creators of today, not the software engineers or the IT bottleneck.
We need data scientists, and we need hundreds of thousands of them. They will do their magic, create new ways of experiencing life, products and services…
New, simpler tools will no doubt come along over time and it is something to look forward to.
I’m choosing to concentrate on the analytics angle of a Data Science role – know the right questions to ask, know how to state the questions so that you are delivered the answers you want to get and then be able to interpret the answers correctly, so that relevant decisions can be made. That is the ultimate goal.
As data and its analysis grow in importance, there’s a corresponding rise in use and popularity of languages that treat data as a first class citizen. Obviously, statistical languages such as R are rising on this tide, but within general purpose programming there’s a bias to languages such as Python or Clojure, which make data easier to manipulate.
That’s where I’m going…
• Spare Cycles: Big in 2013: Internet Of Things and data visualization
Among the major advances that IEEE Computer Society experts forecast for 2013:
1) The Internet of Things will change how consumers and enterprises use technology—Promising to be the most disruptive technology since the World Wide Web, the Internet of Things is expected to result in up to 100 billion Internet-connected objects by 2020.
3) Visualization will help solve challenges of big data—In this data-driven era, the ability to make timely decisions based on data is crucial. As all fields confront the big data problem in 2013, visualization will become an increasingly effective tool for presenting information and driving complex analyses.
That’s where I’m going…
Imagine my joy at finding a new Len Deighton story whilst browsing on Amazon – it’s nearly Christmas and, frankly, it has come early.
He is in his 80′s now, but the story-telling skill and rich humour are still present.
I was listening to the audiobook version of Bomber recently and although I had to stop listening because I did not appreciate the narrator, having Len talking about the background to the book was fascinating.
This Kindle Short gives you some of the same insight into his life in the 1960s.
If you like Deighton’s other writing (or if you are a James Bond fan), then this is well worth investing in.
• Spare Cycles: Len Deighton books
• The Deighton Dossier: Deighton e-book published: a new take on James Bond
• Wikipedia: The Battle for Bond
I read The Hobbit when I was 11 years old. I devoured it. I loved the Lord Of The Rings trilogy (books and film). I was dying to see this, so I went to see it on the day after release and went for the 3D version with the new 48 frames per second HFR version – I wanted to see it in all it’s glory.
I was hugely disappointed. I don’t know what the new HFR technology did to the image quality, but the people onscreen look like they stand out against a series of backdrops that are clearly part of a set. The cast look like they are simply acting out their roles instead of becoming them. It horrifies me to say it, but it looks like a million dollar version of a crap Doctor Who episode from the 1980s. This is a great story crucified by its own technology. I noticed some motion blur – this technology is not fully ready yet.
I also fear for the next two films – from what I remember of the book, the story is aimed a lot more at children (hence why I enjoyed the book so much at 11 years old) and is a fraction of the length of Lord Of The Rings. Is there simply too little content for a trilogy of nearly three hour-long films? Why not keep it a two-part story? One of the good things about the Lord Of The Rings films was that they missed out some of the less necessary bits. In nine hours of the Hobbit you could portray every single aspect of the story – which may be overkill. The film went quickly enough for me, but it would seem that the company of dwarves will become tiring if it persists in the same vacuous manner as I have just sat through.
So, the bottom line is: go and see the 2D version of the film. In the meantime, I will wait for the Bluray version so I can watch it at home, where I can concentrate on the story.
This is an excellent book, looking at facts – how long they are relevant for and how they spread – and in particular the importance of …
• population (both growth and its skills)
• social networks
• the combining of existing knowledge in new ways
• the benefits that come from cities
• the importance of measurement
• human biases
It discusses scientometrics - the science of measuring and analysing science. This was new to me.
It features the clearest explanations that I have so far heard of Moore’s Law, exponential growth and logistic curves (these tie in with very long term technological growth.)
Maybe it is a side effect of reading the audiobook version, but I wonder if the printed book provides the evidence behind the assertions that facts in particular areas of study follow certain mathematical rules. I believe the author but I’d like to see that evidence.
There are a number of “light bulb” moments along the way.
It covers some of the same ground as What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly, but in a much more straight-forward way. Definitely read this book first.
On a personal note, it is reassuring for me to hear some of the stories around hidden knowledge. One of the possibilities now is the ability to provide large amounts of data to a computer program and it will autonomously try to find connections. These connections could lead to theories and new facts. There are companies now doing this. This is an area that I am very interested in – it has led to me studying courses at the Open University, including (and especially) my current one: Analysing Data. It confirms some of the ideas that featured in a Wired article that originally sparked my interest: The End of Theory: The Data Deluge Makes the Scientific Method Obsolete. Also try this: Automated science, deep data and the paradox of information.
A comment on the reading of the book as this is the audiobook version: this has one of the best (American) readers I have heard. Measured, clear, very easy to listen to. The only issue: there are short periods where it sounds like there is another reader, just for a sentence or two. It sounds like the producers have gone back and touched up the recording (badly). Hardly a big deal, but noticeable.
Finally: who knew that a Brontosaurus doesn’t exist?
• Better Thinking: The Spinach, Popeye, Iron, Decimal Error Myth is Finally Busted
This sounds dead interesting and I have downloaded it from Audible, so expect a review at some point.
“All crude measures, however arrived at, show to a first approximation that science increases exponentially, at a compound interest of about 7 percent per annum, thus doubling in size every 10–15 years, growing by a factor of 10 every half century, and by something like a factor of a million in the 300 years which separate us from the seventeenth-century invention of the scientific paper when the process began.”
Since scientific knowledge is still growing by a factor of ten every 50 years, it should not be surprising that lots of facts people learned in school and universities have been overturned and are now out of date.
• Reason.com: Half of the Facts You Know Are Probably Wrong
• Samuel Arbesman: The Half-Life of Facts (Book details)
A very interesting episode of Radiolab, one that seems to be getting some criticism. At times a really emotionally charged piece, so make up your own mind. Who is right if there is seemingly more than one truth?
Radiolab: The Fact of the Matter
The Critical Path podcast has been even better than usual recently, which is saying something… If you are interested in the world of mobile technology and Apple in particular, this is something you do not want to miss. I’d like to highlight a few shows in particular: