Category Archives: Econometrics and Analytics

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 67,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Cells of Smart Power

When I last wrote about “smart power”, I was taking US business and especially political leaders to task for failing to craft comprehensive, forward-looking energy policy.  They seem to be more concerned with drilling for today’s dwindling oil than planning for tomorrow’s growing needs.  Meanwhile, citizens feel powerless to do much about it.

Part of the problem is one of scale.  Our energy dilemma is big and not easily solved.  There’s a great deal of economic inertia keeping us stuck in hydrocarbons.  As I said before, I believe it’s largely the role of government to help “unstick” us– to provide incentives, tax or whatever, in facilitating a transition from a polluting power paradigm to one more responsible and sustainable.

But that doesn’t mean the citizenry should sit back and wait for their tax dollars to be put to proper use.  There are moves we can make at local levels to get change underway… and set the stage for more expansive solutions.  Continue reading

Smart Grids and Stupid Policies

Rolling power blackouts, a common resort in northeastern US states when extreme weather takes hold, are now steamrolling into an overheated Texas (although not yet as widespread as initially feared).  Unfortunately, the outages are largely indiscriminate thanks to an outdated, dumb electrical grid.  This puts people and produce at risk.

Tonight we lost power for a few hours and felt the impact immediately.  Our 30-year-old air conditioner was already struggling to overcome 111 degree Fahrenheit heat– without it or fans going, our little house quickly turned into a big oven.  As I walked around in the dark lighting candles and contemplating my car’s lovely air cooling ability, my mind went back in time…  Continue reading

Achievement Badges: Not Just for Gamers

A friend of mine in the MeeGo community brought my attention to an interesting concept he calls MeeGoVerse, which translates common gaming elements to real-life work as a sort of “massive multiplayer” endeavor.  One important aspect is the use of achievements to reward people for attacking necessary community evils, like bug reporting.  I can envision Meegon badges for each achievement.  People love to contribute, and especially be recognized for it.

Badges can be found in unusual places and contexts.  While updating my LinkedIn profile recently I took stock of a couple of icons I had not really thought much about before.

Right there beside the YOU indicator you’ll note an in and, next to it, a circular array graphic.  The first indicates  a Premium account, meaning for one that you get to harass potential connections with InMails.  Very valuable when I was searching for a new job two years ago.  The circle of circles shows profile viewers that I’m a member of an OpenLink network and thus open to said harassment.  Fair, after all, is fair.   Continue reading

N900 Multitasking: Nokia wants your input

Own a Nokia N900?  Peter Schneider of Nokia Maemo marketing has a challenge for you: he wants to know how important multitasking is for N900 owners, and exactly how they take advantage of it.

A new poll at talk.maemo.org breaks it down by number of concurrent windowed applications on the desktop.  The poll has a slight design quirk (it has categories for 0, 1 to 3, 4 to 6,  6 to 9 and > 9 apps, whereas 7 to 9 might be better for the 6 to 9) but it’s not enough to undermine the purpose.

So if you have not already, take a moment to respond to the poll and then post your typical use cases that either require multitasking or explain why it is unnecessary for you.  Your input could be valuable for future product considerations!

This effort has the endorsement of the maemo.org community council.

UPDATE: It was brought to my attention the poll has already closed.  I am very sorry that I didn’t notice.  I’m quite frankly surprised it was not allowed to run longer.  However, posting comments may still be helpful.

Akademy 2010: Day 1

I’m typing this up toward the end of Akademy 2010‘s day 1 in beautiful Tampere, Finland, so please forgive any signs of weariness.

The day began with Valtteri Halla promoting Meego and demonstrating how the project has already benefitted KDE, Akademy’s coordinating organization, with upstream development for KOffice and other applications.  From there came talks along the tracks of community and mobility, including mine on user engagement (presentation on slideshare; project site here).  Even Maemo was mentioned!

I was nervous about my talk but while it didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked, it wasn’t the disaster I feared either.  I’ll take that.  ;)

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Input on a feedback ecosystem

I am about to plunge this often-erratic blog over a sharply-defined edge and into a sea of clear certainty.

Now that I have your attention, let’s talk feedback.

How many times have you been presented with a survey in which you were highly interested but failed to complete?

How often do you play a song you enjoy yet neglect to rate it?

How many software bugs have plagued your mobile device of choice and were not followed by reports sent to the developer(s)?

I think it’s safe to say that the one aspect of feedback that keeps our complaining (or praising) confined to unproductive quarters is the frequent disconnect between the usage and the feedback opportunity.  At least in my experience, far too often the feedback mechanisms are separated from the origin of their need, especially when that starts with a mobile device.  The greater the gap, the less likely we may be to take the step that can actually serve to prevent future aggravation.

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Geography Lesson for US Tech Bloggers

Since the dawn of civilization, defining the center of the world has been a Very Important Activity.  Great wars were fought to stick a flag in this spot, where ever that turned out to be at any given time.  Ghengis Khan, Alexander the Great and former US president George Bush all had different opinions on the L10N.  Various indigenous peoples have paid for its ever-changing identification by loss of land and gain of child-labored textile mills.

So given the constant confusion around this nebulous spot it’s no wonder many technically-oriented blog sites get lost… especially those in the United States suffering from a gross misconception of world view.

Never fear: this blog is here to help.

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Survey THIS!

This is going to be more of a rant than usual posts because today I pretty much reached my limit on a sore subject:

Flawed surveys.

I was tasked with taking a survey today designed to identify gaps in corporate ethics compliance.  Other than the misspelling of my organization, it started off innocently enough… and then I reached a question that locked me up.

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Obama takes aim at loophole

I was greeted this morning by one of the most welcome stories I’ve read in some time.  US President Barack Obama has signaled his intent to close some infamous gaps in our byzantine tax code.  Specifically, loopholes that allow US corporate entities as well as individuals to evade their fair share of taxes.

In my opinion this is a good move for the US in general, as one goal is to remove incentives for US-based companies to create jobs overseas rather than onshore.  I’m not against multinationals per se, but on the other hand the extreme loss of our manufacturing base has troubled me for some time.

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