Noise to Signal


Mommy, where do hashtags come from?

Mommy, where do hashtags come from?

You know those time-lapse videos that compress days, weeks or years into minutes? The ones with flowers budding, blooming and then withering in seconds? Or late-1990s Silicon Valley startups getting venture capital, blowing it on espresso bathtubs and Dr. Pepper fountains, and vanishing into receivership?

I think Twitter may be the same thing, except for language. In spoken English, it can take decades – even centuries – for new words to emerge, become part of common parlance, and then fade into disuse.

But on Twitter, hashtags can live that entire lifecycle in the course of a day or two. A news story breaks, and competing hashtags vie for dominance. Then a few influential folks adopt the same one. Suddenly the conversation coalesces around it, the term trends, the spammers start using it, and then the conversation peters out as we move on to the next topic.

Is that the pattern? And how closely does it map onto the ways that words and phrases earworm their way into spoken language?

Maybe some up-and-coming linguistics student is already mapping the ways hashtags rise and decay, and getting ready to publish a dissertation… in 140-character increments.

http://www.robcottingham.ca/cartoon/

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NYTimes.com: Snowpocalypse to Snowicane: Hype Reigns in Winter


By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — The snowmenclature smackdown among meteorologists started with ”snowmageddon” and ”snowpocalypse.” When the latest snow event — laden with flakes and whipped by heavy winds — headed for the storm-weary Northeast this week, the folks at AccuWeather Inc. warned of a coming ”snowicane.”

That did it for the more reserved National Weather Service, which accused the for-profit forecasters of overhyping to the point of inciting panic. The Weather Channel, an AccuWeather competitor, also took issue with the word.

As ”snowicane” foreshadowed impending wind-and-snow doom Wednesday on AccuWeather’s Web site, National Weather Service meteorologist Craig Evanego said the federal forecasters were taking a more measured approach, because the storm hadn’t yet fully formed.

”It’s almost inciting the public, inciting panic,” Evanego said of AccuWeather’s terminology.

His weather service colleague, meteorologist Roy Miller in Mount Holly, N.J., put it bluntly to The Morning Call newspaper in Allentown, Pa.

”It’s not responsible to be putting out things like this,” he said.

The newspaper called the brouhaha a ”meteorologist smackdown.”

Richard Grumm, the government service’s chief science and operations officer in State College, said science and ”getting people’s attention and entertainment” each serve a purpose.

”Scientifically, I have my own opinion of what a hurricane is,” he added. ”The word, ‘snowicane’ — I have a glossary of meteorology, it doesn’t exist.”

A key meteorological measure of a hurricane is sustained winds of at least 74 mph. As this week’s storm barreled into New England, it slung wind gusts into that range and higher — but those winds were not sustained. It therefore failed to achieve hurricane status.

It did, however, dump even more snow on a region digging out from the deepest cumulative snows ever recorded for a winter season and knocked out power to more than 1 million homes and businesses. The number of outages was cut nearly in half by midday Saturday.

Evan Myers, chief operations officer of AccuWeather, defended the choice of words but said his firm wasn’t trying to panic anyone.

”I guess you can say that we stuck our necks out on this storm. … Some people thought we were crazy, we were nuts, talking about the storm from this perspective,” Myers said Friday from the floor of AccuWeather’s high-tech operations center in State College.

”The storm performed as advertised,” Myers said, noting, among other things, the coastal flooding from Maine to eastern Long Island and heavy snows in some areas.

AccuWeather’s Web site on Saturday took up the ”snowicane” defense: ”Our concern was that the storm might be taken too lightly by the public if we stuck to the norm of calling the system a nor’easter, snowstorm, or even a blizzard.”

It cited wind gusts of 90-plus mph off the New England coast.

By another measure, barometric pressure, the storm lived up to its billing, AccuWeather said. The storm’s central pressure was as low as a category 2 hurricane, the Web site reported.

”We said it would have the characteristics of a (hurricane or tropical system), and in fact, it did,” Myers said.

Fred Carr, director of the University of Oklahoma School of Meteorology, hadn’t been following the AccuWeather forecasts, but briefly reviewed one from early Thursday. AccuWeather’s forecasts were consistent with the government’s forecast models, he said. The difference was with the words used, not the forecast itself, he said.

”I’m sure no one seriously, even AccuWeather, (could) have seriously meant it to be like a hurricane,” Carr said. ”I think it was just a catchy term that would give them more publicity … of course, now I’m playing psychologist.”

Though it didn’t specifically name AccuWeather, The Weather Channel joined the fray. On its Web site, weather.com, it called invocation of the H-word an example of ”bad meteorology.”

”It’s not an apt analogy to compare this winter storm, which is really all about cold air and jet stream, with a hurricane, which is all about heat and … things of tropical origin,” said Bruce Rose, vice president and principal scientist at The Weather Channel.

Using a baseball analogy, Rose acknowledged the competitiveness among the meteorologists.

”When a guy gets a base hit, he’s kidding around with the other team’s first baseman,” he said. ”But they are still trying to beat each other’s brains out when it comes to the final score.”

——

Associated Press writer Michael Rubinkam in Allentown contributed to this report.

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BUFFETT’S ANNUAL LETTER TO SHAREHOLDERS


The master has spoken in his freshly released letter to shareholders and as usual, it is filled with brilliance, hypocrisy and more brilliance.  You can read the full letter here.  I will keep my personal thoughts on the letter short and sweet, but a few things stood out to me:

Buffett appears to attempt to distance himself from the notion of  “too big to fail” and implies that the firm is not dependent on the “kindness of strangers”:

“We will never become dependent on the kindness of strangers. Too-big-to-fail is not a fallback
position at Berkshire. Instead, we will always arrange our affairs so that any requirements for cash we may conceivably have will be dwarfed by our own liquidity.”

These are interesting comments now that we know Buffett in fact played a role in orchestrating the bank bailouts (see here for his letter to Hank Paulson).  Of course, Buffett had a substantial amount at stake if the banks were allowed to implode.  As Barry Ritholtz has previously shown, Buffett did indeed rely on the kindness of strangers.   He claims to have been a supplier of capital, but this was nothing more than doubling down on bad bets that he had made with the hope that the government would ultimately step in.  Of course, we all know they did.  I don’t know how he can make such comments when it is so obvious that he directly benefited from the bank bailouts and played an instrumental role in orchestrating them?   It’s disingenuous at best.

A few other things that jumped out:

  • His discussion on risk management (p. 16) should be required reading for every CEO and money manager in America.
  • He is still extraordinarily funny.
  • He sounds very optimistic about the state of the housing market.
  • He sells his company and the idea behind Berkshire better than any CEO on the planet.

For more reading please see his annual letters from the Buffett Partnership days.

http://pragcap.com/buffetts-annual-letter-to-shareholders

© 2009 pragcap.com

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INSIDER SELLING HITS NEW 2010 HIGH


The recent uptick in stocks has not been met with much enthusiasm by corporate insiders.  In fact, pessimism rules the day in the land of insider buying and selling trends.  For the week ending February 26th insiders sold a total of $1.88B in stock and purchased just $13.22MM.  Selling was up substantially from last week and buying was down substantially from last week.  The selling was the highest level experienced this year.  Interestingly, as the rally has continued insiders have actually increased their selling. Leer más “INSIDER SELLING HITS NEW 2010 HIGH”

Cloud ‘Recovery’ or Just The Same Old Thing?


Written by Guest Author

Diagram showing overview of cloud computing in...
Image via Wikipedia

This post is part of our ReadWriteCloud channel, which is dedicated to covering virtualization and cloud computing. The channel is sponsored by Intel and VMware. As you’re planning your Cloud Architecture, check out this helpful resource from our sponsors: IBM Credits Virtualization With Helping Client Contain Server Sprawl.

Cloud computing means many things, but almost all definitions include some key value propositions: scalable on-demand resources, a metered pay-per-use model, access over the Internet, and infrastructure management and optimization that is better than most data centers.

At a more conceptual level, cloud computing abstracts away all the undifferentiated IT tasks. Most businesses don’t add any value to their customers or create any competitive advantage for themselves when they buy, build, configure, and manage servers and storage. This is doubly true for disaster recovery equipment and data centers.

Conversely, poor performance in these tasks can cost value and competitive advantage. There is no benefit in doing these tasks well, but there is cost to doing them badly. This is like the opposite of a financial call option – lots of downside risk, but no upside. Leer más “Cloud ‘Recovery’ or Just The Same Old Thing?”

The $46,000 bicycle


BARRY PARK

The Factor 001.The Factor 001.

It takes a week to build and costs the best part of a decent wage, but the Factor 001 can monitor your skin temperature and determine how powerful each of your legs is.

Electronic gears, sleek carbon-fibre body, optional carbon-fibre brakes: they sound like car features but in fact they describe a very special bicycle.

British retailer Harrods is expected to soon stock the Factor 001, a super high-tech bike made by motorsport engineering company BERU f1systems.

For the equivalent of about $46,000, you get a bike that takes six engineers a week to build. There’s hydraulic brakes integrated into the frame and a Shimano Di2 electronic gear shift.

The frame is also packed with load sensors, wiring, batteries and control cables that help the bike to collect up to 100 separate bits of ergonometric data—from skin temperature to respiration rate and humidity to individual leg power output.

smh.com.au

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How to be a billionaire


SHAUN REIN, FORBES.COM

Ferrari for auction.Do billionaires have any traits in common?

Research reveals three qualities common to people who build great fortunes.

Have you dreamed of becoming a billionaire?

Based on the response I’ve gotten to my recent article Three Myths About Starting Your Own Business, many people have. They imagine having wealth like the founders of Google and Apple, so they can fly to their own chateaus on the French Riviera in a Gulfstream IV or maybe even a Boeing 737. They picture making it onto the Forbes Rich List and buying diamonds from Tiffany.

What does it take to get that rich? Are billionaires completely different from you and me? My firm, the China Market Research Group, decided to see if we could answer those questions and if there were any secrets we could learn from them. Over the last five years we interviewed secretive real estate tycoons in China who own companies through proxies for fear of being too high-profile, internet pioneers in the US who party with rock stars, multi-generational conglomerate tycoons in India and retail heirs in Europe who hit the Alps to ski. In all, we interviewed about a dozen billionaires and several dozen people worth more than $USD 100 million. We had fun doing it, too, from gambling at racetracks in Hong Kong to chomping on biscuits in Boston.

While almost everyone we interviewed said luck and timing played a role in their success, we found some other similarities in their responses, too. Most of the truly rich, perhaps surprisingly, are not that different from you and me. They have the same fears about their children and their health, and the same desires. But we did find some differences.

We narrowed those differences down to three secrets of the truly rich that most of the people we talked to said had helped them get to where they are:

The first secret of the truly rich is that they are never afraid to fail. Most of our interviewees told us that at one point they had had a choice to either stick to an easy, secure route or take a calculated risk. To reach the truly heights of wealth, some risk is needed. If you look for security in a job or are scared to try something different, you won’t get far in the pursuit of true wealth.

Even when they had failed-and every single one of them had at least once-the truly rich said they had used those experiences to learn from their mistakes and get back in the saddle. They had avoided the real failure of letting a bad experience destroy their optimism and their passion. Leer más “How to be a billionaire”

Flexibility key to employee health


Reuters
Image via Wikipedia

Work stress.Stress test … workers with little control over their working conditions experience higher stress levels.

People who have some control over their working hours may be healthier in both mind and body than those in less flexible jobs, according to a US study.

Analysing 10 published studies involving about 16,600 workers, researchers found that certain work conditions that gave employees some control – such as self-scheduling shift work and gradual or partial retirement – were linked to health benefits.

Those benefits included lower blood pressure and heart rate, and better quality sleep and less fatigue during the day.

But the findings, published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, do not prove that flexible work schedules lead to better health although they support the theory that “control at work is good for health,” said the researchers.

Dr. Clare Bambra of Britain’s Durham University said according to that theory, reduced stress may be what bestows the benefits although there are other possibilities as well.

A flexible work schedule might, for instance, make it easier for people to find time for exercise, Bambra told Reuters Health.

For years, studies have found links between “high job strain” and heightened rates of heart disease, depression and other ills. Researchers define high job strain as work that is demanding but allows employees little to no control over how they work.

This has sparked increasing interest in whether there are health benefits to be gained from non-traditional work conditions like self-scheduling, “flextime,” telecommuting from home, and job sharing.

For their review, Bambra and her colleagues used 10 studies that all followed workers for at least six months and had to compare employees with flexible conditions with another group.

But Bambra said a shortcoming of all the studies in the review was that none was a randomized controlled trial.

Bambra said those types of studies “are needed before we can make any real conclusions. The data we have is indicative rather than definitive.”

But she said they found no evidence that flexible work conditions stand to harm employees’ well-being so for now employers and policy makers can consider self-scheduling and gradual retirement to be “plausible means” for promoting employee health.

Reuters

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Open Thread: PRManna – Copy Cat or Inspiration?


Written by Dana Oshiro

prmanna_haro_feb10.jpgEarlier this month we noticed PRManna climbing up the Hacker News front page and reached out to the creator for an interview. Ryan Waggoner started PRManna in his spare time and was open in saying that the project was inspired by Peter Shankman‘s Help a Reporter Out. The difference between PRManna and HARO is that Waggoner’s product was specifically meant for startup companies to answer blogger and journalist tech queries. Whereas, HARO is a general news service. The question is, are the sites far enough apart to be considered different products?

In the Hacker News thread Waggoner acknowledges that in the time that he’d developed his site, Shankman’s HARO had transitioned from a listserv to a more comprehensive tool saying, “Unfortunately, I took a look at HARO today and they’ve apparently launched something very similar, rather than just the old mailing list that I was competing against. So what do you think of this? Should I just drop it or should I add features to make it more valuable? Alternatively, is there something else I could use it for?”

HARO_PRManna_feb10.jpg
As of today Waggoner may not have the opportunity to change tactics. The developer wrote a blog post detailing a cease and desist letter sent by Shankman’s lawyer. As a community with your finger on the pulse of tech launches and entrepreneurial resources, we want to know whether or not you believe Shankman’s takedown notice is warranted.

Vía http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/open_thread_prmanna.php

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Primera retransmisión en directo en 3D


Hispasat presenta el proyecto 3DLive y retrasmite un veneto deportivo en el cine

El operador de satélites Hispasat, ha participado en el proyecto 3DLive, que durante este último año ha investigado el estándar más eficaz de transmisión en estereoscopía por satélite e IP, así como el método más adecuado para emitir eventos en 3D en tiempo real. El final del proyecto ha consistido en la grabación del partido Inter Movistar – MRA Navarra, que se disputó en Alcalá de Henares el pasado sábado 27 de febrero, y su difusión tridimensional en directo en una sala de los cines Kinépolis de Madrid. El proyecto, cofinanciado por el Ministerio de Industria en el marco del Plan Avanza I+D y coordinado por Telefónica I+D. Esta apuesta de futuro supone cambios en la manera de grabar, difundir y reproducir el contenido. Tras la finalización del proyecto, Hispasat continuará participando en la investigación e implantación de la estereoscopía.

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Vuelve la Vogue Fashion´s Night Out


Marcas de lujo, boutiques, grandes almacenes y establecimientos permanecerán abiertos hasta la medianoche para reforzar su relación con los clientes

El grupo editorial Condé Nast ha puesto en marcha la segunda edición de la Noche de la Moda que se celebrará el próximo mes de septiembre. Dado el éxito de la primera edición de la Vogue Fashion’s Night Out, la editorial quiere reforzar la relación entre marcas de lujo, boutiques, grandes almacenes y establecimientos participantes en el evento con los consumidores. Por eso, la próxima edición se celebrará simultáneamente el día nueve en Madrid, Londres, París, Milán, Berlín, Moscú, Atenas, Taipei, Tokio, Pekín, Sao Paulo y Nueva Delhi y el día 10 en Nueva York, donde los locales permanecerán abiertos hasta la medianoche para atraer a los clientes y dar comienzo oficial a la temporada de otoño/invierno.

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La industria de las bebidas refrescantes presenta un código de autocontrol


Siete compañías se comprmeten a monitorizar las comunicaciones digitales

La Federación que agrupa a las Asociaciones europeas de bebidas refrescantes (UNESDA), ha presentado el compromiso de las compañías y marcas del sector sobre la responsabilidad de sus acciones de marketing y comunicación digital. En concreto, han asumido los compromisos establecidos para no dirigir su publicidad en televisión, radio y medios de comunicación impresos y digitales a los menores de 12 años, así como a no vender productos en las escuelas de primaria de los 27 países miembros de la Unión Europea. Si bien la prensa, radio y televisión tradicionales siguen representando el 85% de la comunicación de marketing de las empresas del sector de las bebidas refrescantes, el rápido crecimiento de los medios digitales ha llevado al sector a autorregularse en todas las comunicaciones de ese entorno ya que aunque la publicidad de los soportes idigitales no está especialmente dirigida a los niños, cada vez es mayor el acceso de estos a la internet. Estas nuevas guías de actuación incluyen la comunicación online, el marketing telefónico y/o móvil, los sms, los juegos y las acciones en las distintas páginas de mensajería instantánea o messenger. Todo ello sin olvidar el papel educativo y de control que deben cumplir padres y cuidadores. Estas nuevas guías de actuación han sido firmadas por las principales empresas que fabrican bebidas refrescantes en Europa: Coca-Cola Company, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola Hellenic, Gerber Emig Group Ltd, GlaxoSmithKline, Grupo Orangina Schweppes y PepsiCo.

Why a Networking Culture Is Important


by Stefan Lindegaard

//

The reason for creating a networking culture is obvious once you look at the current and future direction of innovation. Let’s start by disposing of the myth of the lone genius — the Thomas Edisons and the Alexander Graham Bells of yesteryear — arriving at a breakthrough innovation on his/her own.

This model wasn’t true then, and even if it were, it simply does not hold true in today’s complex business organizations. Technology and the challenges that must be solved have become so complex that many — perhaps even most — companies can no longer rely solely on their own internal innovation geniuses, no matter how brilliant those people may be. Leer más “Why a Networking Culture Is Important”

Action Streams: A New Idea for Social Networks


Walled gardens are already under attack because of the ease of sending content like messages and photos from one website to another. Sites that don’t let content flow in and out freely, when that’s what users want, are fighting against the powerful tide of the internet.

Now a new proposal aims to take things to the next level and send a payload of item-type specific action options along with every piece of content that gets shot across the internet. A loose body of innovators from some of the biggest social networking companies online have begun discussing an addition to the Activity Streams standard format called an Action Stream. That could blow the world of social networking wide open, allowing users to try out other competing social networks without losing their ability to interact with friends on Facebook, for example.

Earlier this month social software designer Adrian Chan offered up a proposal for what he called Action Streams.

Action streams would not only share status/activity update meta-data but also permit updates to function as actions. For example, an invitation update posted in twitter could be accepted in Buzz. The vision for action streams thus involves a distributed and decentralized ecosystem of coupled action posts, rendered by third party stream clients and within participating social networks.

This idea was added tonight to the Activity Streams wiki where it will be discussed by the community building the Activity Streams format. The standard types of actions that can be taken in regard to content items of the same categories on Amazon and Facebook were listed as prior art. The discussion has just begun, and data interoperability isn’t something that everyone at big social networks agrees is in their best short-term interests. These idea are exciting and are supported by a substantial number of people, though.

The Activity Streams discussion is participated in by engineers from companies like Google, Facebook, Nokia, Yahoo and others. Chris Messina, who joined Google in January, is one of the key voices, and semantic web builder Monica Keller, who left MySpace for Facebook last month, appears to be taking an even more active role in the effort than she had before.

If Activity Streams with Actions can be implemented effectively, that would mean not only that you could participate in any social network you choose and still read messages from outside that network – you could also interact with them from those other networks as well. RSVP to Facebook event invites, tag yourself in photos, etc. without visiting Facebook, but from within whichever social network won your heart through its superior features or design.

You could interact with your friends on Google Buzz from inside Facebook, or from a social network that doesn’t even exist yet. More and better social networks would spring into existence because the ability to see and interact with friends would no longer be a scarce resource hoarded by the biggest social networks.

If you think social networking is a world-changing phenomenon today, imagine what it might be like if interoperable social networks sprung up like wildflowers. It’s one thing to make content available in a standard format – but making some basic actions transmittable and standardized would make the prospect of communication across networks all the more real and powerful. That could mean an environment ripe for innovation and a better experience every day for users.

http://www.readwriteweb.com

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Google Challenges Bing’s Photosynth; Adds User Photos to Street View


Written by Jolie O’Dell

google street viewGoogle Street View has made a few headlines at RWW lately – once for getting itself into hot water in Europe and once, notably, for bringing Street View’s photo-tour features into retail outlets.

Now, we’ve learned that Street View will also begin to feature user-submitted photographs. According to a recent Google Lat Long blog post, “We began integrating user photos into Street View last year. User photos allow you to view locations from entirely new perspectives, whether through the eyes of a talented photographer with a knack for capturing architectural detail, or simply taken from locations we couldn’t get to… We’re making it easier to navigate through these images in a way that should feel similar to how you’re used to exploring within Street View.” Leer más “Google Challenges Bing’s Photosynth; Adds User Photos to Street View”