After reading about Wolfram/Alpha, we couldn’t wait to try it out, especially since it came up with the same meaning of life as we have. Created by Stephen Wolfram over the past 20 years, you enter a calculation or question and with the help of built-in algorithms and data, you will get an answer. So far the “computational knowledge engine” has over 10 trillion pieces of data, 50,000 plus types of algorithms and models and linguistic capabilities for over a thousand domains.
Because of the recent losses of Google employees such as engineers, designers and sales executives, the company is using an algorithm to help it determine which of their 20,000 workers would be most likely to quit. Based on information from employee and peer reviews, surveys, and promotion and pay raises, details are sketchy as to details of the formula. While it seems like an interesting idea, we are not sure that math can account for those workers who simply have a bad hair day, go ballistic and split.
Read More | Wall Street Journal
Not long after we told you 3 ways to help you track the N1H1, we came across SickCity, a disease tracker for hypochondriacs. Not only does it list the ten sickest cities, it covers most countries. A part of the DIY City program, it uses Twitter (and soon Facebook) to collect information and make graphs with the use of algorithms. They are still working on some historical data, but it is still worth a look. Add your city if it is not already listed.
Read More | SickCity
A team from UCSD came up with a way to steal keys without detection. Their SNEAKEY system used teleduplication to take an image of these keys from 195 feet away using imaging equipment, then managed to duplicate them with computer vision algorithms. You can read the details of the studies that were conducted in both laboratory and real settings on their site. The moral of the story is that even though these were the good guys, always keep your keys in your pocket when not needed.
Read More | UCSD
We once witnessed a plant’s reaction with a lie detector to someone’s bending one of its leaves and were pretty impressed that the plant exhibited stress. But Midori-san, a Sweetheart Hoya, makes that look juvenile in comparison. Satoshi Kuribayashi of KAYAK has developed sophisticated technology that allows the house plant to blog on line. With surface potential sensors, it measures changes such as temperature, vibration, and nearby humans. An algorithm translates that data into Japanese sentences that make up the blog. You can monitor Midor-san and offer it a dose of light through its site, which seems to lose something with the translation.
Read More | Pink Tentacle
Dasur’s ThumbKey claims to be the answer to your QWERTY keyboard frustration with your handheld. It identifies intended keys through size and position of fingers rather than being spot on. Algorithms process the typed letters. All this sounds like a good thing because the letters look tiny in the video (where it is referred to as ThumbIt.) It has word recognition by using only the first few letters and supports all versions of Microsoft Windows Mobile. The ThumbKey will set you back $25.00 or you can download a demo for fifteen days free to test it out.
Read More | Dasur
Ever wonder how Netflix selects who gets the newest releases first? Apparently Sound and Vision Mag did. They contacted the company and although they wouldn’t reveal any trade secrets, they did divulge how the queues basically work. Here are some of their results:
- Ordering a movie first does not necessarily mean you will be the first recipient.
- The more popular the movie, the longer the wait.
- The more films you watch, the less likely you are to receive new releases. (We hate that one.)
- The more new releases you watch, the less likely you will receive other new movies. (Okay, that one is awful, too.)
Irregardless of our queue status and the algorithms used in them, we have to admit we are still Netflix advocates. It’s amazing how many obscure/old/cult films we have been able to screen with our subscription. And that makes it greatest thing since unsliced bread for us.
Read More | Sound & Vision
Want to see what algorithms look like when translated into music? That is exactly what WolframTones is all about. It takes programs from Stephen Wolfram’s computations and turns them into tunes. No matter how many times you select a type of music, you will get a new permutation and mini-light show. Create rock/pop, jazz, classical, piano and other compositions and adjust pitch, time, and instrumentation. If you would like to play or find out how the phenomenon was created, check out his site.
Read More | WolframTones