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  • On Messing Up… and Bouncing Back

    BlackBerry used to be the dominant mobile messaging platform in the enterprise, but (by their own admission) they become arrogant as the market leader in the absence of serious competition. Then along came the iPhone and Android on a variety of innovative devices – and several hundred thousand cool applications for both platforms.
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  • Originally posted on Analyticbridge.

    Here are two multiple-choice questions that could be used to uniquely characterize each human that will ever exist on Earth. Even twins will have different answers. It is expected no two human beings to have the same answers.

    First question: Order the following types of food, from your favorite (#1) to the one you like least (#9). Possible choices: fruit, vegetable, dairy, carbohydrate, red meat, poultry, fish, seafood, dessert.

    Second question: Order the following types of environment, from your favorite (#1) to the one you like least (#9). Possible choices: beach, mountain, desert, plain / rural, urban, small town, lake / river bank, hills, forest.

    The number of potential answers (that is, the number of potential orderings) for each question is factorial 9. The total number of potential answers for both questions is square of factorial 9, that is 132 billion.

    Of course some combinations are more likely to appear than others, some people will have a hard time ranking and would rather allow for ties, and if you've lived all your life in the same place eating the same food, you can't correctly answer these questions. Same if you are a little kid. But for most of us, this works and could even be used by companies such as match.com or advertisers. Also, this type of ID has the following advantages:

    • It is universal (it could even apply to dogs),
    • It is personal unlike arbitrary social security numbers,
    • You know what's in your ID (government IDs such as SSN might be hiding some encoded data about you, in your ID, for profiling purposes) 
    • It's easy to retrieve if lost (at least partially, which might be good enough) by answering the two questions
    • Unlike genome, this ID is (to a large extent) is independent from gender and race (or age)

    It may change over time as tastes change, but I think this is OK, your ID follows your personality. You might want to add a third question (maybe about favorite colors or climates) to increase the discriminating power, but I think it is not necessary.

    Potential Improvement

    Another option is to have more questions with fewer choices. For instance, 8 questions each with 4 choices (rather than 2 questions, each with 6 choices) would allow for pretty much the same number of unique IDs (a bit above 100 billion) but would be less error-prone, as people are more likely to correctly remember how their rank 4 items (e.g. colors), rather than 6 items. If you allow for only 2 choices per question, then you would need to ask 37 questions to cover 100+ billion unique IDs.

    Experimental design to choose good questions and good choices 

    The possible choices (answers) should be determined using experimental design and testing, not the other way around. Let's say that your first question is about food, with two choices: fish versus dirt. You do a test, you realize everybody rank fish as #1.  The test tells you that this is not a good, there will be lots of people with same ID. You change you choices from fish/dirt to fish/meat. Now you see that the distribution is more uniform. You continue testing till you have something good enough.

    You can even test choice stability: Ask a person to rank 9 choices today and in 7 days, retain the choices that

    1. are most stable over time and
    2. provide an even distribution (or as close as possible to uniform distribution)

    Related articles

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  • A Single Access Point for Multiple Clouds

    Storage Made Easy (SME) is a cloud data broker platform that acts as an intermediary between users of cloud storage and a variety of cloud-based storage services. SME is available via a traditional software-as-a-service model; as a hosted appliance or as an on-site, virtual appliance.
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  • Making Email More Efficient

    Despite what you might hear about younger workers abandoning email in favor of text messaging and social media and so changing the corporate communications landscape as they enter the workforce, email continues to dominate communications for most information workers. For example, our most recent user survey found that information workers spend an average of 153 minutes per day doing something in email. For mobile workers, email is the most often used application on smartphones.
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  • Recently, Robert X. Cringely speculated that Apple’s decision to build the iPhone 5S with a 64-bit processor is part of the company’s strategy to gain significant market share in the desktop market. His speculation – and I think he’s right – is that Apple’s desktop strategy is to offer dumb workstations, as well as a dumb version of the MacBook Air, that provide display, keyboard and mouse/trackpad, but that will rely on the mobile phone to provide the CPU. The usage scenario is a simple one: simply walk up to this desktop setup or open your dumbed-down MacBook Air that recognizes the iPhone in your pocket and begin using either as though it was a conventional computer.
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  • Social Media as Time Machine

    Outside of the financial services industry, very few companies actually monitor what their employees say on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any of the 1,000+ other social media sites around the world. Few companies scan short URLs for potential links to malware sites. Few have deployed systems to protect against spam delivered via social media. Few have deployed systems to capture whatever business records or other important content might be posted to social media sites.
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  • While an archiving system actually does backup content, often on a near real-time basis, it cannot normally be considered a backup system. Similarly, while a backup system can be considered a rudimentary archive, it does not serve the same purpose. A synchronization system, while copying data to other platforms, is not really a backup or an archiving system.
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  • Are Data Breach Notification Laws Worthless?

    I have two Visa cards, one for personal use and one for my business, both of which are issued by Bank of America. My personal card has been compromised at least five times and my business card at least twice. On one occasion, my Visa number was imprinted onto a physical card and a criminal attempted to purchase a $1,500 laptop at a Best Buy store about 15 miles from my home.
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  • Today there is an app for just about anything and everything. In recognition of this trend, this fall, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) produced guidelines to assist developers of mobile apps to be in compliance. According to a the most recent edition of Socially Aware, the journal of social media and legal issues produced by Morrison & Foerster, this is just a signal of more to come.
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  • Why do people buy insurance? It’s because they have conducted some sort of analysis—however simple and qualitative it might be—and determined that the downside of buying insurance is not as great as the downside of the loss that can occur from a home fire, a major illness, and automobile accident or some other calamity.
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  • There are many who believe that the security of content stored in the cloud is inferior to that of on-premises systems. Given the recent and well-publicized problems with Dropbox, for example, critics of the cloud—at least in the context of security-related issues—have been given fodder for their beliefs.
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  • How to benchmark a metric?

    In all our IT activities, we have, almost daily, to deal with numbers, tests and metrics. How do you decide on a specific metric, to measure some activity, such as spam score, server performance, compression factor when archiving data etc. Sometimes, the decision is straightforward (compression factor), sometimes not (spam score).
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  • Book: The Death of The Internet

    Fraud poses a significant threat to the Internet. 1.5% of all online advertisements attempt to spread malware. This lowers the willingness to view or handle advertisements, which will severely affect the structure of the web and its viability. It may also destabilize online commerce.
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  • This is related to data encryption and security. The article was originally posted on DataScienceCentral. Imagine that you need to transmit the details of a patent or a confidential financial transaction over the Internet. There are three critical issues:
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  • Teleworking: Good or Bad?

    There is an interesting June 24, 2013 piece from David Amerlandon the problems associated with teleworking entitled The Real Problem In Working From Home (It’s Not What You Think). Among the good points made by the author are:
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