The Bell Curve Scar

skewed thoughts emanating from a head branded with a Gaussian curve


Follow Curt Wehrley

Humans Need Not Apply

From the video (by CGP Grey):

You may think even the world’s smartest automation engineer could never make a bot to do your job — and you may be right — but the cutting edge of programming isn’t super-smart programmers writing bots, it’s super-smart programmers writing bots that teach themselves how to do things the programmer could never teach them to do…the bottom line is there are limited ways to show a bot a bunch of stuff to do, show the bot a bunch of correctly done stuff, and it can figure out how to do the job to be done.  Even with just a goal and no example of how to do it the bots can still learn.

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Dear Tiger

Dear Tiger,

Here’s my 6-point plan for extending your playing days and assuring that you surpass Jack’s record [18 career majors]:

1. Keep the sticks in the garage ‘til 2015. You came back WAY too soon. Canadian golfer Graham DeLaet – a few years younger than you – underwent similar back surgery in early 2011, didn’t play a tournament for 6 months, entered an event that June, realized he’d rushed it, and took the rest of the year off.

2. Drop the bulk. The Superman workouts have you looking buff in those Nike shirts, but you’ve taken it too far. Besides, strength is no longer an advantage you solely own – equipment is better (which has leveled the playing field), and you’re not getting any younger. Remember the fluid swing of a younger, thinner Tiger who ruled the golf world 10-15 years ago? Seek a back- and knee-friendly version of that. Oh, and find a new workout.

Dump [current swing coach Sean] Foley. I have nothing at all against Sean. I simply think you’ve been doing this for too long to have another person flooding your mind with too many thoughts to support an overly-technical swing.

4. Write a book. About anything – maybe yourself. I can’t tell you if you should air any of your dirty laundry, but I think you might find opening up just a bit about your life – the good and the bad – very therapeudic.

5. Pour yourself into building a new course. Regaining your form, like building a great course, should not be rushed. Getting some dirt under your fingernails and planting some seeds can provide tangible reminders of how great things take time.

6. Clear your head (the one on your shoulders, that is). Martin Kaymer won the Players and the US Open once he “stopped thinking about all of the crap.” Rory secured his first Claret Jug using just two words on the course: “process” and “spot.” See a pattern? Get simple.

Sincerely,

Curt

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FB > KO

“We had a good second quarter.”

A 30-year-old Harvard dropout nicknamed “Zuck” got the first word in the report containing Facebook’s (NASDAQ: FB) financial results for the second quarter.

I was involved in the foreign exchange (FX) market in 2012, and vividly remember CNBC’s coverage of the NASDAQ technical glitches that marred the launch of the social networking company’s initial public offering on May 21 of that year. With June came dozens of lawsuits filed against Facebook’s underwriters and rumblings of concern about the firm’s ability to make a buck. By September, Facebook’s stock had dipped below $20 – nearly half off its IPO price of $38 a share.

My, how times have changed.

Last quarter, the website that Mark Elliot Zuckerberg originally launched at an Ivy League university in Cambridge managed to generate $2.91 billion in revenue. Mobile devices accounted for nearly two-thirds of that haul, and an average 654 million mobile DAUs over the course of the three-month period surpassed the mark established during the same quarter last year by 39 percent.

The results have lifted Facebook shares by 8 percent above Wednesday’s close in pre-market trading. Zuck’s little college startup is now worth more than Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO).

Look Up

London-based writer/director Gary Turk (@Gary_Turk) delivers a simple yet powerful message #LookUp

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Mobile App Development: iOS or Android?

Computer Training Schools poses The Big Question in Mobile App Development:

A storm has been brewing in the world of mobile app development: which of the two most popular mobile platforms will be dominant in the future of smartphones and tablets, iOS or Android? While Google’s Android demonstrates an impressive market share of smartphones, Apple’s iOS is used more often in commerce and search, bringing in more revenue.

Their infographic comparing the two top mobile platforms is quite the visual feast:

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Zachary’s Zingers

During the tail end of his appearance on Bloomberg TV today, Charles River Ventures Partner George Zachary weighed in on recent tech bubble rumblings and the wearables market:

If you notice, very few people are saying we’re in bubble territory. No one wants to say it because no one wants to break it, because everyone wants to cash out before it’s over…I definitely feel [an air of] desperation to not miss out on what will be the next big thing.

It’s [now] difficult to get a new project accepted at Apple. In the Jobs era, if Jobs believed in the product, you got the resources. In the Tim Cook era, you have to put together a spreadsheet that shows how much this business is going to be worth, how big the market is, and will it materially add to Apple’s revenue. Those are the thoughts that come out of someone who has a supply chain background, so I don’t believe Apple is best set up to succeed [in the smartwatch space].

You’ll find videos of Zachary’s interview after the break.

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The Data Scientist Noggin

One doesn’t have to go far to find a programmer who thinks hacking skills and a knack for math go hand in hand…

It seems that conventional wisdom suggests that good programmers are also good at math. Or that the two are somehow intrinsically linked.

[Computer science is] more math and science than anything.

I’ve always found strong math skills to be one of the most useful skills for coding…

Mathematics is programming.

Prevalence of that perception, along with a dearth of trained statisticians, may go a long way toward explaining the predominance of programming professionals in data science roles.  Of course, the lion’s share of a data scientist’s time is typically devoted to data wrangling, which requires coding prowess.  And to be sure, some originally trained as programmers have acquired a sufficient grasp of applied statistics to fit the definition proposed by Cloudera Senior Director of Data Science Josh Wills:

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The Purple Jar

Near the turn of the 19th century, an Anglo-Irish writer named Maria Edgeworth penned “The Purple Jar,” now a well-known short story. The color purple and the concept of story emerged in successive comments (shown below) on LinkedIn’s Big Data group today.

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Next time you seek a small gift for the data professional in your life, consider a purple jar containing a printout of the above comments.  Like Rosamund (the young girl in Edgeworth’s story), they may be disappointed at first, but the lesson learned would be invaluable over time.

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