Thursday, August 25, 2016

Location, location, location with a dash of analytics

"Location, location, location.” That’s the mantra of the real estate profession. It sounds simple enough, but the question is what is one looking for to identify a desirable location? Now data analytics can provide a clear answer for at least one type of market: those who seek homes within commuting distance of jobs that provide a living wage.

Opportunity Score is a data-driven tool built by the real estate company Redfin in partnership with the White House Opportunity Project. It identifies which residential areas offer affordable housing and are within a 30 minute carless commute of jobs that pay at least $40K a year.
In its blog, Redfin explained what went into powering Opportunity Score....
Considering a move, or just curious about how your own city ranks? You can plug it in to get the score. Just don’t expect to find a perfect 100. As Redfin explains, a city can start out with the 100 because of the number of jobs that meet the criteria, but then be knocked down due to the home prices. There’s also quite a difference between scores for cities in general and addresses in particular.
The highest score it assigned to a city is a 70, and that went to San Jose where 78% of jobs meet the criteria. But that’s not the only thing that counts. The same job percentage was found in Detroit, the city with the lowest score -- just 3%. Individual addresses around Detroit, though can reflect very high scores, with, for example, one address on Harrison Street earning the description “Job Seeker's Paradise” with a score of 94.
Read more in 

If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home Now

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Up, up, and away the way it's done today,_1937.jpg
When we think of transport for cargo, we tend to picture metal planes, ships or trains. We don’t think of using lighter than air transport, which seemed to go up in flames nearly 80 years ago with the Hindenburg disaster. But this generation is seeing a whole new kind of airship capable of speeds of about 60 miles an hour that can carry cargo to places that might otherwise be unreachable.
The French have been advancing airships in the Flying Whalesa program. Airships are a key component of the “Nouvelle France Industrielle: plans for future transport. As explained here,  the concept behind the plans that were confirmed in April 2015 was to incorporate “nine strategic solutions” aimed at reindustrializing France, including the Disney Park-sounding “Transport of tomorrow.” As part of the national strategy, French airships are not just viewed as a novelty but as a practical solution “for developing a transport sector and other missions that are firmly focused on sustainable development.”
Read more in This Is Not Your Grandfather’s Airship

Monday, August 8, 2016

The problematic assumptions of resume advice

"Would you tell a prospective employer that you detest people and would rather be left alone in a cubicle all day? " In truth many people would prefer the privacy and solitude to allow them to  focus on their work. It's not that they detest people necessarily but that they do their best work without the distraction of others talking to them. That's the case for introverts who really do tend to be detail-oriented and careful about their work. What many businesses and schools fail to grasp is that you can't usually get social butterfly and efficient on one's own in the same person.
That's the comment I wrote on 5 Words You Should Never Use In Your Resume. Actually I've seen a number of job descriptions that demand both a teamplayer and someone who can work autonmously. Sure, many people can do both, but they would have a preferred mode, just like I can use my left hand but would be using my right most of the time.

related posts:

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

SHIELD counters counterfeits

 Like the weather, everyone talks about the problem of counterfeiting but few really do anything about it. That’s why the government is stepping in with its call for a solution backed by millions in investment.
The electronic supply chain is plagued by counterfeit parts, and even the US military is not immune. That’s why in February 2014 the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) launched the SHIELD program. Unlike in the Marvel universe, the acronym does not stand for Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division but for Supply Chain Hardware Integrity for Electronics Defense.
The program’s goal, according to the title of the announcement and call for proposals, is to find a “tiny, cheap, and foolproof” solution for authenticating electronic components. When they said cheap, they really meant it. Kerry Bernstein, DARPA’s program manager, was quoted as saying that the cost should be “less than a penny per unit” while functioning well enough to provide a thorough disincentive for counterfeiters. It was to be no less than “an on-demand authentication method never before available to the supply chain.”
Read more in 
Countering Counterfeits with SHIELD’s Dialet Solution

Monday, July 25, 2016

A supercomputer for more efficient oil extraction

The low oil prices we've seen lately present a challenge for the energy industry. To maximize output, global energy company Total upgraded its supercomputer.

The global energy company Total draws on the power of supercomputers for advanced 4D modeling to locate and simulate the behavior of oil reserves under the surface. 4D seismic consists of repeating 3D seismic surveys over time across the same area. Total's geophysicists and reservoir engineers develop models based on complex physics by working with advanced algorithms that require a great deal of computational power.
- See more at:

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Mark Twain got it

From "Two Views of  the Mississippi."
Picking up on the transition from innocence to experience that William Blake explores in his poetry, Twain encapsulates the gain that also entails loss:
Now when I had mastered the language of this water and has come to know every trifling feature that bordered the great river as familiarly as I knew the letters of the alphabet, I had made a valuable acquisition. But I had lost something, too. I had lost something which could never be restored to me while I lived. All the grace, the beauty, the poetry, had gone out of the majestic river! 
Twain offers further details and then suggests a parallel with the medical profession:
 Since those days, I have pitied doctors from my heart. What does the lovely flush in a beautyʹs cheek mean to a doctor but a ʺbreakʺ that ripples above some deadly disease? Are not all her visible charms sown think with what are to him the signs and symbols of hidden decay? Does he ever see her beauty at all, or doesnʹt he simply view her professionally, and comment upon her unwholesome condition all to himself? And doesnʹt he sometimes wonder whether he has gained most or lost most by learning his trade?   


Thursday, July 14, 2016

A digital strategy for growth in the biotech sector

QIAGEN is a German life sciences and diagnostics firm that has customers in more than 100 countries. Given the trend toward e-commerce in the biotech sector, which has emerged in the past few years, it became clear to the company's management that future growth called for a digital strategy that included online self-service.
To achieve that goal, the company partnered with TCS and used SAP Hybris solutions to design, engineer and launch a new global Web shop. The shop plays a central role in allowing QIAGEN to effectively serve its customers, according to  Florian Wegener, head of eCommerce.
- See more at:

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The author is an algorithm

About a year ago, I wrote about algorithms producing producing rap lyricsand said, “Perhaps the next project will be an algorithm that produces films.” In fact, that project has arrived, and its name is Benjamin (formerly known as Jetson).
Benjamin is the self-chosen name of “the world’s first automated screenwriter,” according to its own Facebook page. Benjamin’s site gives a slightly longer description of the screenwriter as “a self-improving LSTM RNN [Long short-term memory recurrent neural network] machine intelligence trained on human screenplays.”
Benjamin already has written a film entitled “Sunspring” with some prompting from Ross Goodwin, “creative technologist, artist, hacker, data scientist,” and the filmmaker Oscar Sharp. To qualify for the Sci-Fi London 48 Hour Film Challenge, the entire film was made from start to finish in just 48 hours with three human actors playing the roles.
It is available for your viewing pleasure on YouTube. As the writer Neil Gaiman tweeted, “Watch a short SF film gloriously fail the Turing Test.”


I’d Like to Thank the Algorithm that Made this Film Possible