Categories
Commentary

An Expanding and Expansive View of Computing

I attended Jim Kurose’s talk on the advances in computer and information science and engineering primarily because I wanted to gain some insights on the state of technology today, as well as get his novel interpretations of the future of the field, being at the crossroads of both industry and academic in his role as Assistant Director at the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate at National Science Foundation (NSF).

During the first half of the talk I learnt that the National Science Foundation mission was more than just advancing science without a specific aim. I had always thought that grants were given out as long as the idea seems plausible and if it succeeds, would boost the development of science and technology to a certain degree. It turns out that NSF’s aims to advance science so as to boost national health, economic wealth and social welfare as well as defense. There are 5 main arms that CISE is focusing on – these 5 are part of the White House Initiatives. These include data science, smart systems, understanding the brain, smart cities, and a nationwide strategic computing initiative. Of those facets, I am most familiar with the one on brain science with the creation of the BrainHub to look into brain science at CMU. I believe this was done after President Obama announced an initiative to research into brain science so as to find new ways to treat disorders such as Alzheimer’s or autism. I think these are great domains to research into, though we should not neglect the security aspect of it. Sometimes, trying to network anything leaves us more susceptible to attacks via side channels. I believe that an engineer can add value to brain research. For example, in 18-220, we learnt about Telegrapher’s Equations in a coaxial transmission line which incidentally can be used to model the transmission of an action potential, an electrical impulse through the axon of a neuron in our nervous system. After all, both science and engineering are cross and multi-disciplinary – both fields are not mutually exclusive.

He later talks about the details of CISE such as its organization chart and finances, which aren’t that all interesting. However, the partnerships that NSF has forged are essential to their success at each cycle of development – from discovery to innovation. This can be seen at present as many companies license patents from universities to be used in consumer-facing products. This way, researchers can leverage their resources and increase the speed at which R&D is being conducted.

Kurose then talks about each emerging field of CISE. He recognizes that a national-scale experimental infrastructure would benefit research so that parallel computation data can be exchanged across institutions from both coasts quickly. He proposes the use of a public cloud infrastructure to achieve this. He also goes into the central theme of his talk, which is that computing should focus more on societal applications, while not neglecting the human aspect of it. It is also beneficial to let computing be pervasive around us, to the point that it does not get in the way of everyday life (ie. it just ‘knows’). Finally, he notes that investment should not solely be poured into upstream research, but also into its most basic tenets – quality computer science courses for students. With that, they have developed pedagogies and curricula for a PreAP as well as Advanced Placement course in Computer Science Principles. I think this is a far-sighted move on their part since there is likely to be more positive externalities in quality computer science education. One proposal to think about for engineering is whether our pedagogy can transition to a more application-based, hands-on education, rather than the systematic, theory-based one we have now.

In sum, I feel that I gained some insights into the role of NSF and what they have done in improving the quality of research and education. However, he did not cover some of the points he promised to make in the questions the audience posed in the middle of the session, such as the one on Power and Water sustainability – how much research has been done in ensuring such natural resources remain available into the future? Also, I would actually like to learn more about the NSF funding process – how grants are given and what the process is like. Last year, I went for a talk on patent registration and I found the whole process very enlightening – I was hoping this talk would shed some light on this process.

Categories
LOL

Pusheen’s Facebook News Feed

Pusheen and Facebook

Categories
College Commentary

Thoughts on Yelp Tech Talk

I attended the Yelp Tech Talk, organized in partnership with Society of Women Engineers. It was held at Margaret Morrison Room A14 on the evening of 29th September. What appealed to me about the event was the topic on Yelp online advertising and how Yelp optimizes it so that everyone benefits – the advertiser gets a steady stream of customers, customers get to discover great new food, and Yelp earns a cut from the advertising fees. Personally, I have been keeping abreast of the pay per click advertising industry because it is a fascinating field. From advertising optimization to fraud detection to machine learning analytics, there are many domains in advertising which interest me. Hence, I wanted to explore how Yelp does things differently from Google, if they are.

The first half of the talk was more of a pitch to tell students how great Yelp is, and how each Yelp employee can look under the hood and work on a feature based on feedback from customers. They gave the case study of a person asking Yelp why they could not order take-out directly on the Yelp website, when they were already searching for what to eat. Subsequently, he discussed how his team made an API, or an interface, for other companies to integrate their services on the website in a tighter way. For example, OpenTable is able to use this special API link to display the number of free reservations on Yelp, while other on-demand services can choose to provide deliveries for a particular food place.
What I garnered from this segment of the talk is that it does not pay to go all-in to every segment in your market. Rather than creating a whole new subsidiary like Yelp On Tap to provide food delivery or reservations, Yelp chose instead to provide the necessary infrastructure for other companies to more tightly integrate their services on Yelp’s website. This is counterintuitive to many business people – after all, why lead people away from your site when you could be the one profiteering off this new segment? However, I believe Yelp might have reasons for doing this even though it was not discussed. Firstly, they might not have the necessary knowledge to succeed in that niche. OpenTable probably knows how to do it right; why reinvent the wheel and try to compete with them? Secondly, Yelp is a lean company and they might not want to waste resources on things that do not add any innovation to the industry. After all, integrating services is not innovation. Finally, they might be emphasizing Yelp as a platform, much like how Facebook is. When Facebook tightly integrates features like embedded YouTube videos on their site, they are not leading users away; rather, they actually gave more reasons for users to remain on the website since they can watch the video on Facebook. Similarly, Yelp users do not need to navigate to another app to make a reservation – they can do it all from within the app.

The latter part of the talk discusses the Yelp Auto Bid Genius, which is an internal algorithm which determines what ad to show to customers. She demonstrated that the highest paying ad does not necessarily get the top spot – a combination of click through rates as well as bidding rates do. She discussed about Yelp ad formats, including click-to-call where the advertiser pays each time a call is made to the business from Yelp. I was disappointed that she didn’t go in depth in exploring conversion tracking – how effective advertising on Yelp can be when measured quantitatively. Yelp advertising can cost up to $600 for every 1000 times an ad is shown, which makes it insanely expensive. There are many occurrences of competitors viewing a particular ad many times to drain the advertising budget of their opponents. How does the business know that the customer came via an ad on Yelp? Some of the methods off my head include using special coupon codes which can be assigned to the viewer of the ad. However, I was wondering if there is anything Yelp can do to further increase the tracking and engagement of its users. For example, if I view a listing on Yelp and I go to that place to have a meal, paying for it using my Yelp-branded credit card, then Yelp can perhaps give me a 5% loyalty rebate for using Yelp. Although Yelp technically loses money, it will gain a lot of insights into the users and activities of Yelp. Of course, the privacy concerns must be looked into, but as it is, Yelp engagement is practically non-existent. Users only fire up the app or website only when they need to, which can be a good thing too, since this means each visitor on the website is a ready paying customer.

It was an interesting evening to think about advertising on a ‘new’ platform like Yelp. I was previously more acquainted to text ads on Google and those intrusive display banners on the web, but I have gained some appreciation of what it takes to make advertising on Yelp more effective, and the technology to make it work effectively.

Categories
Cool

Mugsy Plushie

If you love Facebook’s Mugsy, now is the time to buy the soft toys and plushies! Just. So. Adorable!MugsyPlushie

Categories
LOL Oh Shit!

The Online Pregnancy Test Kit

Companies Know You Are Pregnant… Before You Do.

One day companies might know you better than you know yourself.

It has already happened – Target is able to identify 25 products that can accurately ascertain if you are pregnant or not – and send you coupons before you even need them.

When you get a membership card from Target, they are not offering you discounts for free – they seek to link your real world purchases (credit cards used) with your online impulse buys. Some even sell or ‘exchange’ your anonymized information with so-called data brokers. However, research has shown that such anonymized info can pretty much identify a specific person with great accuracy.

One day, such tracking will be so pervasive and invasive that we will wonder if there was ever a notion of privacy.

Categories
Hacking

When Responses Go Too Far

Some select responses

Let’s consider though that MLH is a young organization that is exploring the hackathon space in a novel way. With 100s of hackathons under their belt they made a rushed call. We as students of logic can understand that it was nothing personal or malignant, right? This was a professional failure. Some of you have pointed out the fact that most big hackathons do not need the support that MLH provides and existed just fine prior to MLH entering the scene.

MLH isn’t the hackathoner’s Mondo Burger run by greaseballs counting their money and giggling, just by 3 dudes counting their money and giggling. MLH hides behind a vision to solve problems and bring joy by fusing the creative and analytical powers of the human mind, instead of addressing actual community issues. MLH was brought about by hackers just like you and me who saw what we could do when we work together and who understood the efficiency that structure provides, yet do not collaborate with the community. Let’s not spit in the mirror but let’s also not wash over the shortcomings and ignore them and MLH’s insistence on not communicating about them. As people who have accepted a lifelong dedication to solving problems, let’s stay focused and think of ways we can get MLH to prevent future confusion and further build this community that we’ve all invested in.

Of course, before we do anything, let’s take a bit of time to cool off. Oh wait, MLH has had a day. Nevermind. I implore anyone who wrote reviews to reconsider taking further action as MLH still will not address these issues. We, with a MLH who has proven they cannot take criticism from the community, must consider other ways to be a lifeline for those people and bestow them with the power to sculpt and strum technology. This mishap won’t break us. Let’s stay true to the course; I believe MLH can fix this if they will communicate with the community they claim they “serve”.

MLH is a for-profit company. They make profits selling the hackers that attend their sponsored events as a product to the sponsors.

If you attend these hackathons, MLH is profiting off of you, and therefore you ARE entitled to a reasonable experience at the very least. If even one of us are made forfeit what is due us, then we all lose out.

Not to mention that they’re profiting off of the college organizers, and by superseding their authority on their own venue, they are being incredibly disrespectful at the very least. We all lose yet again.

Categories
News

On Najib

Little Johnny stole a sweet from his papa. His papa said, “Come on, Johnny, own up. You stole my strawberry sweet, right?”

Little Johnny replied, “No, papa, I didn’t steal you sweet. I really don’t know where your sweet went.”

Papa said, “Johnny, come here. Open your mouth and stick out your tongue.” Johnny did so, and lo and behold, there was the fresh reddish stain on his tongue.

Papa retorted, “See? All the evidence. That red stain is obviously from the strawberry sweet. No other sweet gives off a stain like that. You took my sweet didn’t you?”

Little Johnny denied, “No, papa. The sweet that stained my tongue was actually a gift from a very kind alien who visited my room in a UFO last night. Don’t believe, ask my favourite bolster. He met the alien too and even spoke to it. In fact, you can ask all the toys in my room — my toy soldier, my toy train, my toy rabbit — they will tell you the same thing. The sweet was a reward to me for being such a good boy, obeying my parents, and not telling lies!”

Papa said, “Little Johnny, stop lying. You are making up one lie after another and trying to cover up with bigger and bigger lies. Why don’t you just admit that you stole my sweet and say you are sorry?”

Little Johnny said, “Papa, stop nagging. If not, I will disown you as my daddy and replace you with the neighbour Tim’s daddy”.

Papa was aghast. “You are saying you don’t want to have anything more to do with me? I’m going to call mama and all your brothers and sisters and the neighbours here as witnesses so that she can also hear what you said.”

Little Johnny replied, “You are all not allowed to come together like that. I will call out the big bad wolf from the Red Riding Hood storybook on the bookshelf to come alive to eat you all up. In fact, you should be thankful because you can’t find your sweet. Your teeth are all rotting, you have diabetes…. sweets are bad for an old man like you. You should be grateful to whoever it was who took your sweet. And it wasn’t me, OK?”

Categories
FOREX

The 14 Stages of Trading Psychology

1. OPTIMISM – It all starts with a hunch or a positive outlook leading us to buy or sell.

2. EXCITEMENT – Things start moving our way and we get excited. We start to anticipate and hope that a possible success story is in the making.
.
3. THRILL – The market continues to be favorable and we just can’t help but start to feel a little “Smart.”
At this point we have complete confidence in trading system.

4. EUPHORIA – This marks the point of maximum financial risk but also maximum financial gain. Our investments turn into quick and easy profits, so we begin to ignore the basic concept of risk and now start trading anything that we can get our hands on to make a quick buck.

5. ANXIETY – Oh no – it’s turning around! The markets start to show their first signs of taking your “hard earned” profits back. But having never seen this happen, we still remain ultra greedy and think the long-term trend is higher.

6. DENIAL – The markets don’t turn as quickly as we had hoped. There must be something wrong we think to ourselves. Our “long-term” view now shortens to a near-term hope of an improvement.

7. FEAR – Reality sets in that we are not as smart as we once thought. Instead of being confident in our trading we become confused. At this point we should get out with a small profitand move on but we don’t for some stupid reason.

8. DESPERATION – All gains have been lost at this point. We had our chance to profit and missed it. Not knowing how to act, we attempt to do anything that will bring our positions back into the black.

9. PANIC – The most emotional period by far. We are clueless and helpless. At this stage we feel like we are at the mercy of the market and have absolutely no control.

10. CAPITULATION – We have reached our breaking point and sell our positions at any price. So long as we can get out of the market to avoid bigger losses we are content.

11. DESPONDENCY – After exiting the markets we do not want to trade ever again. The markets are not for us and should be avoided like the plague. However, this rare point marks the point of maximum financial opportunity.

12. DEPRESSION – We drink, cry and/or pray. How could we have been so dumb we think to ourselves. Some start to correctly look back and analyze what went wrong. Real traders are born here, learning from past mistakes.

13. HOPE – We can still do this! Eventually we return come to the realization the market actually does have cycles. We begin to start analyzing new opportunities.

14. RELIEF – The markets are turning positive again and we see our prior investment come back around. We regain our faith (although small) in our ability to invest our money.

Categories
Love

A Guide To Labeling Men, According to Most Women

label-guys

Categories
Uncategorized

His Wife’s Been Cheating For 10 Years

46-yeold-banker

Categories
FOREX

Binary Options Money Management

This is how your bankroll your way to $50,000… or lose it all. binaryoptionsmm