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Communications of the ACM

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The blog archive provides access to past blog postings from Communications of the ACM and other sources by date.

March 2013


From Schneier on Security

Unwitting Drug Smugglers

Unwitting Drug Smugglers

This is a story about a physicist who got taken in by an imaginary Internet girlfriend and ended up being arrested in Argentina for drug smuggling. Readers of this blog will see it coming, of course, but it's a still a good …


From Putting People First

Is Open Government working?

Is Open Government working?

In an insightful blog post, Reboot principal Panthea Lee asks if open government initiatives make citizens more informed and engaged, and make governments more accountable to their people? What impact have open government initiatives…


From Putting People First

What can ethnography bring to the study of deliberative democracy?

What can ethnography bring to the study of deliberative democracy?

Open government initiatives offer new, often technologically enabled avenues for civic participation. But which populations have the access and motivation to use these channels? Frequently, programs and platforms privilege certain…


From The Eponymous Pickle

Tyranny of Things

Tyranny of Things

In GigaOM:   This reminds me of how our devices and software have started to control us.  Smartphonesvibrating and a sales forecast changing what we do next.  Algorithms combining the signals between many elements of the world…


From The Eponymous Pickle

Silicon Valley Running out of Innovation

Silicon Valley Running out of Innovation

Says Alan Kay, who we met a number of times at Xerox PARC in the day.   We used his Smalltalk and Logo languages for AI projects.  We respected his thoughts about the direction of computer interfaces, and were an early tester…


From The Eponymous Pickle

Thinking Through the Forecast

Thinking Through the Forecast

I just caught this article in the Insiders Group blog and thought I would comment about our demand forecasting experiences and how they can be applied to the midsize business.About the sales forecast.  Or for that matter any"…


From The Computing Community Consortium Blog

Science Magazine on Computer Science careers

Science Magazine on Computer Science careers

In two articles in Science – the flagship publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science – CCC Chair Ed Lazowska is interviewed on career futures in Computer Science.  An example from an extensive Q&A:…


From The Eponymous Pickle

Wal-Mart Optimizing On-Shelf Availability

Wal-Mart Optimizing On-Shelf Availability

Another example, in Progressive Grocer, of how Wal-Mart is active in analytical methods.  " ... A new service from Plano, Texas-based sales and marketing services company Crossmark, is helping manufacturers to better address…


From The Eponymous Pickle

Big Data Disaster, Get the Data Right.

Big Data Disaster, Get the Data Right.

Stephen Few on the problems with too much analytics before you get the data right.  Getting the data right.  And visualizing it to make sure you understand it .... is key.


From The Eponymous Pickle

Super Bowl Neuromarketing Study

Super Bowl Neuromarketing Study

Neurorelay summarizes the yearly Sands Research Super Bowl advertisement study.   Well done overview of method and results.  A few years ago I had a chance to statistically compare their results to TV tracking studies and found…


From Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information From Alfred Thompson

Relearning Math

Relearning Math

One of the problems with teaching students how to tell the computer how to do calculations is that they have to learn a new way of expressing formulas. For example one of my students tried a formula similar to this in in Excel…


From Daniel Lemire's Blog

Advanced tips for dealing with your email inbox

Advanced tips for dealing with your email inbox

I probably receive 50 emails a day, not counting spam. Give it a week, and I could easily end up with 200 unread emails in my inbox. When that happens, it feels about the same as if I hadn’t brushed my teeth in a week. It is…


From Schneier on Security

Security Awareness Training

Security Awareness Training

Should companies spend money on security awareness training for their employees? It's a contentious topic, with respected experts on both sides of the debate. I personally believe that training users in security is generally…


From The Eponymous Pickle

I am a Curator too

I am a Curator too

I have been playing with Flipboard for some time.  On the iPhone and Pad. A very nice, image-oriented way to organize and deliver information.  A more sophisticated RSS feed.  I just saw a good discussion and video about the,…


From The Eponymous Pickle

Friendly Home Printable Robots

Friendly Home Printable Robots

From the NSF:  This seems to be an overreach based on current capabilities.  Though you can't argue with the goal.   " ... The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) is funding a project that seeks to automate the process of…


From The Computing Community Consortium Blog

Supercomputing Highlighted by NSF

Supercomputing Highlighted by NSF

Scientific breakthroughs are no longer happening only in the field or in scientific labs.  Rather, they are occurring on computers.  This is due in large part to the fact that work that is computationally intensive can now be…


From Schneier on Security

The NSA's Cryptolog

The NSA's Cryptolog

The NSA has published declassified versions of its Cryptolog newsletter. All the issues from Aug 1974 through Summer 1997 are on the web, although there are some pretty heavy redactions in places. (Here's a link to the documents…


From Computer Science Teacher - Thoughts and Information From Alfred Thompson

Turtle Graphics–Some Student Images

Turtle Graphics–Some Student Images

Earlier this week I introduced a simple Turtle graphics program. The program itself (written in Visual Basic) was created by one of the teachers I work with. It implements some of the Logo turtle graphics commands. I showed this…


From The Female Perspective of Computer Science

Cool Ed Tech at the Montreal Science Centre

Cool Ed Tech at the Montreal Science Centre

I love science and tech museums, so while visiting Montreal this past weekend, I made sure to stop by the Montreal Science Centre.  They have some really cool stuff there, but I was most intrigued by two of their exhibits that…


From The Eponymous Pickle

Brands Getting Creative with Data

Brands Getting Creative with Data

In Digiday:  short pieces on the use of data by companies.  It is always useful to see a number of examples of systems using data.  But then all systems use data in some way.  I wouldn't call these especially creative, but they…


From Schneier on Security

Identifying People from Mobile Phone Location Data

Identifying People from Mobile Phone Location Data

Turns out that it's pretty easy:

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Catholic University of Louvain studied 15 months' worth of anonymised mobile phone records for 1.5 million individuals.


From Computational Complexity

A Century of Erdős

The great Hungarian combinatorialist Paul Erdős was born one hundred years ago today. The big celebration will happen in Budapest in July. It's hard to say more about Erdős than I've already said in this blog so let's recap…


From The Eponymous Pickle

Stealth Innovation as a Solution

Stealth Innovation as a Solution

This HBR article suggests it is not.  I suggest that stealth is one tool to get innovation done.  It creates a startup style atmosphere that does not look to get immediate and ongoing approval.  It works with the right corporate…


From Computer Science Teachers Association

What' Not to Love About NYC Pilot Program

What' Not to Love About NYC Pilot Program

In February, I had the pleasure of attending Mayor Michael Bloomberg's announcement of the new Software Engineering Pilot Program for New York City schools. This program will begin in September, 2013, in 20 middle and high schools…


From Gödel's Lost Letter and P=NP

Win Five Hundred Or A Million Dollars, By Recursion?

The Erdős discrepancy problem and more source — in memoriam Raymond Redheffer was an American mathematician. He worked for his PhD under Norman Levinson, who was famous for his work on the Riemann Hypothesis. Redheffer spent…


From U.S. Public Policy Committee of the ACM

Nominations for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Nominations for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Nominations for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation are due Monday, April 1, 2013. The award is the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement for American scientists, engineers, and innovators. It is bestowed…


From Daniel Lemire's Blog

We are getting smarter as a matter of survival

We are getting smarter as a matter of survival

A journalism student got very depressed after reading my post on genetically engineered intelligence. His feeling can be summarized by this question: if at some point in the near future, human beings or machines become orders…


From The Eponymous Pickle

Starbucks Loyalty Data Use

Starbucks Loyalty Data Use

In Adage: Data pours in at Starbucks, a quarter using loyalty cards.  Yet much of this data is not effectively used.  Sounds like most of the loyalty systems I have examined.


From The Eponymous Pickle

Real Time Analysis Requires Business Saavy

Real Time Analysis Requires Business Saavy

I take this further. All Business Intelligence requires some business saavy.  Or a close connection with the people responsible for decisions made with the data and the underlying processes.  A good piece, mostly obvious, but…


From The Eponymous Pickle

Tibco Acquires Maporama

Tibco Acquires Maporama

I see that Tibco Spotfire has acquired Maporama.   " ... a privately-held, cloud-based provider of location intelligence and geospatial analytics solutions ... " .   They are holding some upcoming webinars on the implications…