The World Science Festival’s panel on Probability and Risk started out in an unusual manner: MIT’s Josh Tenenbaum strode onto a stage and flipped a coin five times, claiming he was psychically broadcasting each result to the audience. The audience dutifully wrote down the results they thought he had seen on note cards, and handed them in when the experiment was over. Towards the end of the program, he announced there were low odds that even one person in the audience had guessed the right order of results. When he announced them, however, about a dozen people raised their hands, saying that was what they had written down.
Is Tenenbaum psychic? The audience sprinkled with liars?
Neither, according to Tenenbaum. Instead, we’re the victims of our own tendency to expect that a series of coin tosses will produce results that look satisfyingly random to us. As a result, we’re unlikely to suggest a series of four heads followed by a tails. In the same way, we’re likely to end up choosing something like TTHTH. So likely, in fact, that if the coin flips do happen to produce one of these random looking patterns, it’ll be overrepresented in whatever crowd we’re testing. Instant psychic ability, with built in statistical significance.
The funny thing is that this isn’t the product of some mental weakness—Tenenbaum suggested that it’s the product of an excellent built-in sense of what makes for a random pattern. If you graph the frequency of various possible results, it’s possible to see a pattern of peaks at random-looking series and valleys at the ones that chance would seem to disfavor. Comparing the graph generated from our audience to one produced in the 1930s, and it was obvious that the pattern was nearly identical—what we think of as random appears to be quite stable.
The one exception, he noted, was when he performed the experiment with a math-savvy audience. There, a part of the audience recognizes that any series is equally probable, so they are more likely to put down all heads or all tails.
THE MAJORITY OF DEVELOPERS are building apps for Google’s Android operating system with fewer coding for Apple’s IOS, according to a report by Bluevia and Vision Mobile.
Entitled Developer Economics 2011, the study shows that 67 per cent of developers code for Android, up from 59 per cent in 2010. IOS lags behind at 59 per cent, but that’s also up from 50 per cent last year, most likely due to Apple’s introduction of the Ipad.
The bad news for Microsoft is that the report found it was not yet “the third horse” in the mobile market race. It discovered that developer mindshare for Windows Phone 7 fell from 39 per cent to 36 per cent, and that it was seen by many developers as not being a commercially viable operating system.
However, while it’s not getting developers now, it will in the future, as the “intentshare” for developers intending to work on the platform at some stage puts Microsoft in second place with 32 per cent behind Android’s 35 per cent, while Chrome OS pushed IOS into fourth place with 28 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively.
Symbian and Java have seen high developer abandonment rates, with 39 per cent of Symbian developers and 35 per cent of Java ME developers intending to jump ship sometime soon. The negative reputation of Java in security circles and the announced death of Symbian when Nokia partnered with Microsoft for Windows Phone 7 explain why developers are parting ways with those systems.
After having a banner WWDC start yesterday, Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs humbly presented his idea for a new Apple campus at the Cupertino City Council today. Jobs wants to build one building that will hold 12,000 Apple employees on a former Hewlett-Packard property in the area between Tantau North Wolfe, Homestead and the 280 freeway.”It’s a little like a spaceship landed,” Jobs says. No kidding.
Jobs began the presentation referring to the fact that Apple is growing “like a weed,” and that its current campus at D’Anza and the 280 isn’t enough — fitting only about 2,800 people. Apple currently rents buildings to house its other 6,700 employees in the area. The new building will augment the current campus.
Paving the way for these plans, Apple purchased about 100 acres from Hewlett Packard in 2010 and added them to the 50 it owns adjacent. Jobs says he has corralled “some great architects … some of the best in the world” to come up with a design that will house 12,000 people in one four story high building on the property. The area is now mainly apricot orchards.
With the futuristic design Apple apparently is relying heavily on its experience building retail stores, and it will be creating one massive piece of curved glass if the proposal goes through. “There’s not a single straight piece of glass in this building,” Jobs says. The parking will be underground.
Jobs also wants the building to function as its own power source, with an “energy center” as its primary source of power (“with natural gas and other ways that are cleaner and cheaper”), using the grid as a backup.
The campus will include amenities like its own auditorium similar to Apple’s current Town Hall (“We’ve got an auditorium, cause we put on presentations, much like we did yesterday but we have to go to San Francisco to do them.”) and a cafeteria that will feed 3,000 people at one sitting.
“We do have a shot at building the best office building in the world,” Jobs told the Council members, “Architecture students will come here to see this.” Ideally Apple wants to move into the campus in 2015.
The individual members of the Cupertino City Council seemed like they were in awe the entire time the infamously charismatic Apple CEO spoke (which isn’t surprising), asking Jobs for free Wifi and iPads for constituents as well as for an Apple store that’s actually in Cupertino and not in the Valley or Los Gatos. Jobs shyly responded to the requests, “I think we bring a lot more than free Wifi.”
A judge in Maine has ruled that a bank that allowed hackers to steal more than $300,000 from a customer’s online account isn’t responsible for the lost money, saying the customer should have done more to protect the account credentials.
Magistrate Judge John Rich sided with Ocean Bank in recommending that the U.S. District Court in Maine grant the bank’s motions for a summary dismissal of a complaint filed by Patco Construction Company. The ruling was reported Monday by BankInfoSecurity.
The case raises questions about how much security banks and other financial institutions should be reasonably required to provide commercial customers and could set a precedent for liability in circumstances where customer systems are hacked and banking credentials are stolen. Small and medium-sized businesses around the U.S. have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years to such activity, known as fraudulent ACH (Automated Clearing House) transfers.
Patco Construction Company, a family-owned business in Sanford Maine, sued Ocean Bank, which is owned by People’s United Bank, after discovering in May 2009 that hackers were siphoning about $100,000 per day from its online bank account. The hackers had sent a malicious email to employees that allowed them to surreptitiously install the Zeus password-stealing trojan on an employee computer.
After obtaining Patco’s banking credentials and waiting for its account to fill up with money, the hackers used the credentials to initiate a series of electronic money transfers. Nearly $600,000 in transfers were made out of the account before Patco realized it had been hacked. Ocean Bank, after being notified of the fraud, was able to block about $240,000 in transfers. But Patco was unable to retrieve the rest.
Patco sued the bank for failing to notice the fraudulent activity and stop it. According to Patco, the out-of-character transactions triggered alarms inside the bank, but the bank didn’t notice them and let the transfers go through. Patco also accused the bank of failing to implement “best” security practices by requiring customers to use multi-factor authentication.
Ocean maintained that it had done its due diligence in verifying that the ID and password used were authentic.
Judge Rich agreed that Ocean Bank could have done more to authenticate that the person initiating the transfers was indeed an authorized part.
“It is apparent, in the light of hindsight, that the Bank’s security procedures in May 2009 were not optimal,” he wrote in his ruling. “The Bank would have more effectively harnessed the power of its risk-profiling system if it had conducted manual reviews in response to red flag information instead of merely causing the system to trigger challenge questions.”
LAST summer, a business professor and a marketing consultant wrote on The Harvard Business Review’s Web site about their idea for a $300 house. According to the writers, and the many people who have enthusiastically responded since, such a house could improve the lives of millions of urban poor around the world. And with a $424 billion market for cheap homes that is largely untapped, it could also make significant profits.
The writers created a competition, asking students, architects and businesses to compete to design the best prototype for a $300 house (their original sketch was of a one-room prefabricated shed, equipped with solar panels, water filters and a tablet computer). The winner will be announced this month. But one expert has been left out of the competition, even though her input would have saved much time and effort for those involved in conceiving the house: the person who is supposed to live in it.
We work in Dharavi, a neighborhood in Mumbai that has become a one-stop shop for anyone interested in “slums” (that catchall term for areas lived in by the urban poor). We recently showed around a group of Dartmouth students involved in the project who are hoping to get a better grasp of their market. They had imagined a ready-made constituency of slum-dwellers eager to buy a cheap house that would necessarily be better than the shacks they’d built themselves. But the students found that the reality here is far more complex than their business plan suggested.
To start with, space is scarce. There is almost no room for new construction or ready-made houses. Most residents are renters, paying $20 to $100 a month for small apartments.
Those who own houses have far more equity in them than $300 — a typical home is worth at least $3,000. Many families have owned their houses for two or three generations, upgrading them as their incomes increase. With additions, these homes become what we call “tool houses,” acting as workshops, manufacturing units, warehouses and shops. They facilitate trade and production, and allow homeowners to improve their living standards over time.
None of this would be possible with a $300 house, which would have to be as standardized as possible to keep costs low. No number of add-ons would be able to match the flexibility of need-based construction.
In addition, construction is an important industry in neighborhoods like Dharavi. Much of the economy consists of hardware shops, carpenters, plumbers, concrete makers, masons, even real-estate agents. Importing pre-fabricated homes would put many people out of business, undercutting the very population the $300 house is intended to help.
Worst of all, companies involved in producing the house may end up supporting the clearance and demolition of well-established neighborhoods to make room for it. The resulting resettlement colonies, which are multiplying at the edges of cities like Delhi and Bangalore, may at first glance look like ideal markets for the new houses, but the dislocation destroys businesses and communities.
Today, at the D9 Conference, we demonstrated the next generation of Windows, internally code-named “Windows 8,” for the first time. Windows 8 is a reimagining of Windows, from the chip to the interface. A Windows 8-based PC is really a new kind of device, one that scales from touch-only small screens through to large screens, with or without a keyboard and mouse.
The demo showed some of the ways we’ve reimagined the interface for a new generation of touch-centric hardware. Fast, fluid and dynamic, the experience has been transformed while keeping the power, flexibility and connectivity of Windows intact.
Here are a few aspects of the new interface we showed today:•
Fast launching of apps from a tile-based Start screen, which replaces the Windows Start menu with a customizable, scalable full-screen view of apps.•
Live tiles with notifications, showing always up-to-date information from your apps.•
Fluid, natural switching between running apps.•
Convenient ability to snap and resize an app to the side of the screen, so you can really multitask using the capabilities of Windows.•
Fully touch-optimized browsing, with all the power of hardware-accelerated Internet Explorer 10.
VERY RARE CAGE RADIOHEAD DEMO B SIDE TO AGENT ORANGE FROM 12 INCH VINYL DEMO SINGLE….HIGH QUALITY CLASSIC CAGE!!!!!