Archive for November 22nd, 2008

There’s a new (but old meme) making it’s way around the web via Facebook Notes/status, Forums, Blog posts and comments.

See how far it’s burrowed into the web. Or try technorati if you like.

The game is nothing more than printing a quote from a book according to some rules and passing it along.

Here’s a quote from me:

“Suppose we do another version of the calendar analysis we did in the previous chapter with hockey players, only this time looking at birth years, not birth months”

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note to your wall.
* Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST

Where did this start?

Why are we all passing it on?

What interesting data is there in all this?

What’s the mostly widely kept at our sides book right now?

What about this meme works where others haven’t?

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Here’s an amazing video on YouTube (this will be old news to many people, as the video got popular last year at this time).  I got the back story on this bad boy from American Mathematical Society monthly mag, Notices.  You can get more detail on the video and the creators at IMA.

It’s a video of Moebius Transformations (produced by POV-ray and, of course, Mathematica)

Now that you’ve seen the visual you can appreciate the power of visualizing data and math.  Take a look at the mathematics.  I’d say a picture is worth AT LEAST a thousand words in this case.

For those wondering why we care about Moebius transformations…

In physics, the identity component of the Lorentz group acts on the celestial sphere the same way that the Möbius group acts on the Riemann sphere. In fact, these two groups are isomorphic. An observer who accelerates to relativistic velocities will see the pattern of constellations as seen near the Earth continuously transform according to infinitesimal Möbius transformations. This observation is often taken as the starting point of twistor theory.

Oh, and they are COOL!

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I just jammed that speed test out here inside a big metal gym in Culver City, CA.

Not bad.

Setting up bluetooth DUN with the new storm is as easy as it was with Blackberry 8830 on Mac OS X.  You just need to set up a Bluetooth profile in Network Preferences.

Phone # is #777

user: Phone#@vzw3.com

pass: vzw

under Advanced -> Modem, set it it to Dial Up Device

This is a useful post out there that I used in my original 8830 experience.

That’s it!

Oh yeah, you have to have the Broadband Access plan and it’s best to get the unlimited data plan for obvious reasons.


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Looks like most other folks still messing around in the netflix competition are in a similar situation as myself.

This new article on NYtimes gives some decent insight into the folks still working on it and the remaining challenges to winning the prize.

The article discusses one of the problems I’ve found too.  Movies that actually suck by most accounts but people have very polarized opinions on – either love or hate.  This is very difficult for an algorithm working on sparse data to handle when MOST of the data is mean-reverting.

“Bertoni says it’s partly because of “Napoleon Dynamite,” an indie comedy from 2004 that achieved cult status and went on to become extremely popular on Netflix. It is, Bertoni and others have discovered, maddeningly hard to determine how much people will like it. When Bertoni runs his algorithms on regular hits like “Lethal Weapon” or “Miss Congeniality” and tries to predict how any given Netflix user will rate them, he’s usually within eight-tenths of a star. But with films like “Napoleon Dynamite,” he’s off by an average of 1.2 stars.

The reason, Bertoni says, is that “Napoleon Dynamite” is very weird and very polarizing. It contains a lot of arch, ironic humor, including a famously kooky dance performed by the titular teenage character to help his hapless friend win a student-council election. It’s the type of quirky entertainment that tends to be either loved or despised. The movie has been rated more than two million times in the Netflix database, and the ratings are disproportionately one or five stars.

Worse, close friends who normally share similar film aesthetics often heatedly disagree about whether “Napoleon Dynamite” is a masterpiece or an annoying bit of hipster self-indulgence. When Bertoni saw the movie himself with a group of friends, they argued for hours over it. “Half of them loved it, and half of them hated it,” he told me. “And they couldn’t really say why. It’s just a difficult movie.””

This is exactly the problem I’ve run into.  For the most part this prize algorithm has been uncovered for most of the database of users and movies.  It’s probably to the point where if this was an internal dev team working on the problem they would haven’t said “good enough” and moved on to other projects.

I’m glad I’m not alone in still working hard on this but getting almost further.  Whew.

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