March, 2010

End Manual Census Data Gathering

Mon Mar 29, 2010 6:00:11 am by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, Defending the Flag, General, Household, Software, a little about life

I was lucky enough to be part of the chosen few to get a Census pack in the mail this last week. A process that took nine minutes of filling in bubbles with a pencil.

After taking this test (hoping I passed), I had a question. Why is this process manual? In today’s world of data aggregation, we still manually obtain Census data. Really? I would imagine there are data feeds out there to get the ball rolling in the automation realm of this process.

Private industry should be conducting the Census and selling it to the Department of Commerce with wicked audits. In its ten-year Census off season, it could, for example, generate much of the data for the Department of Labor and Statistics.

Anybody out there agree? Disagree?

An Example Of Lack Of Journalism

Thu Mar 25, 2010 8:50:08 am by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, Finance, General

Inc Magazine has an article out called Greed is Google. To summarize, Google is looking for bond trader to help it maintain its $24 billion is cash reserves and that is ‘evil’.

First of all, many companies have similar positions. A company with large cash holdings can either pay it to its shareholders, give out bonuses, increase its infrastructure, or invest it. I am sure you could classify other categories, but you get the point.

The question I have: Why are you attacking Google? Is it because they know more about you than other companies? Possibly. Can you do much about it? Not yet – well not use their services.

Why not attack, say, GE? Their healthcare unit creates MRI machines while GE Capital is one of the largest ‘banks’ in the country. Their bond traders must be using all that MRI data to trade foreign government bonds and destroy our lives. The list of medium and large size companies who try to increase their cash through investing could continue.

The Google “Don’t be evil” Achilles Heel might be an easy target to sell magazines though.

OpenData Standards

Wed Mar 24, 2010 9:34:10 am by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, Finance, General, Software, Tools and Tricks

How much about you does the outside world know about you? I am particularly interested in the web world – as usual. Think about it for a couple minutes.

The last purchase you made on Amazon was saved and reused to better predict what you might (or will) purchase next. Facebook knows who you are, your age, what you enjoy, who your friends are, what they like to do, who you hang out with most often. Each of the Facebook Apps you have installed can see these characteristics too. Your emails, phone calls, location – this list goes on – can be logged by many organizations.

Heck even this site has some of these controls. Its analytics system will collect when you came to the site and how you got here. It does not know that you are Bob, but it does know any generic information a marketer might want to know. Added a comment becomes worse. Assuming you do not lie, your name, email, web address, and location are forever stored.

My point is not that this is good or bad. Rather, it exists. I would like to stay neutral on the accumulation of such data.

Instead, I would like to promote a new web standard called OpenData. For those of you who are not knee deep in how the web is created, there are many ‘open’ standards. OpenID and OpenSocial to name some, but the list could continue.

A quick search on the Internets will not produce the ‘open data’ I am referencing. Open Data is more commonly referred to as making some information open to the public – patents, legislation, etc – without restriction.

My goal is different. I would like a standard to help me as a consumer of these data collecting services to control the information they know about me. Once the OpenData standards and structure are in place, I could use a third-party app to control (add, modify, delete) the amount or types of data these services know about me.

At a technical level, this would be a non-trivial process. Even getting around a companies data backup policy could be a huge bottleneck since in many cases this data is not easily accessible. Auditing (internal or external) procedures would also limit the ability for a company to remove, say, purchasing records.

Either way, the world would probably benefit from this type of standard.


My First Gun Rack

Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:05:36 am by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, Defending the Flag, Fun, General, Payroll, a little about life

When I was unemployed last October, I filled some of my time creating a gun rack. I would not say this is the most fanciest rack I have ever seen or even very impressive. I just could not justify not having my guns on display. Now over the window is my office are my two guns. Other than their color they are identical.

In case you were wondering, my favorite gun manufacture is Nerf. It is the ideal manufacture for fighting tyranny, terrorism, or defending any future fort I might build. I posted a picture of my fabulous creation below.

Browser Performance Pressure

Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:35:15 am by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, General, Payroll, Software

Since Google Chrome (the browser) came out, I have had a theory that Google did not care how well it did related to winning the apparent ‘browser war’. More specifically they were not worried about the browser’s direct market share. I am sure they will never omit this fact though.

Instead Google has two goals:

  • Put pressure on other browsers to produce more efficient, standardized features.
  • Incorporate it with Chrome OS and (hopefully) Android devices.

Today we are seeing some of the results from the former. IE9 produced JavaScript benchmark results compared to other major browsers. The graph below shows the results.

If comparing IE8/IE9 or Opera 10.1/10.5 are indications, this goal is producing some nice results. This not only makes my job creating web apps easier, it also will produce new challenges to make more fancy apps. Additionally surfing the web will just be better.

Now if only we could kill IE6.