Blog workflow - jekyll, s3, bootstrap

In this post I will describe the workflow I used to generate this blog.

Release of mlelr 1.0

Today I am extremely happy to announce the release of version 1.0 of mlelr (pronounced ‘mealer’, of course), a C program for Maximum Likelihood Estimation of Logistic Regression Models that has been in sporadic development for over 12 years. For everything you need to know, read this guided tour of mlelr which accompanies the source code.

Big data is a terrible term

The term ‘big data’ sounds infantile, like ‘My Computer’. It should hurt the ears of anyone with any appreciation of Style. This is a buzzword that deserves to be cast into the dustbin of discarded buzzwords as quickly as we can possibly do so. On the way, I’d like us all to consider that maybe ‘medium data’ isn’t getting all the attention that it deserves.

Requiem for a Meeting

Meetings are the uncomfortable fact of corporate life that we all love to hate. They are so often maligned because they are perceived to be a waste of time—nothing seems to get accomplished, they run too long, the right people are not present, there is no clear agenda, and most importantly, meetings interrupt the normal flow of work for everyone involved. It does not have to be like this. If executed with efficiency and respect for everyone’s time, meetings can actually be the productive problem-solving gatherings they are supposed to be. This can only work, however, if you help foster a strong organizational culture to ensure that meetings do what they intend with as little collateral damage as possible.

Veblen and Vuitton

One day on a stroll downtown I came across a Ferrari on a surface parking lot and was immediately struck with the irresistible idea of a little social experiment. I took out my cell phone and my keys and walked up to the car as if it was mine and I was finishing up a conversation before getting in. People noticed quickly, they stared, took pictures. A crowd formed. Despite being on the phone I was interrupted twice, once by a man asking if I needed directions, and then by a pair of teenage girls who wanted to know if I knew someone whose name I couldn’t recognize so I winked and this drove them mad. I was a star, bathed in glory. Interestingly, no one asked me for spare change.

Perturbed by Rounding Error

In numerical methods it is often not possible to ignore the limitations of the tools, especially when the tool is something as basic as floating point representation. A great deal of care needs to be taken to ensure that the implementation of a numerical algorithm will be accurate despite the limits of machine precision. If instead you try to think purely in terms of the algorithm, your results may not be what you expect. Witness my recent experience adapting a classic algorithm for calculating the Normal Quantile function into Python.

The Increasing Significance of Sociology

Sociology teaches the skills needed to analyze data and is thus of increasing signficance in today’s market.

Phrases I hate

There are several annoying phrases that come up from time to time in my work. I want to share some of the most egregious of business language failures. Note that this is only the beginning.

Recommendation for Linode VPS

Last month I began hosting this website on a VPS provided by Linode.com and am happy to report being yet another happy customer of their excellent service. The entry level Linode 512 plan provides more than enough resources for a small to medium sized hobby or personal site. They have an excellent administrative system which makes provisioning a new VPS a simple painless operation. There is also an extensive collection of documentation at the Linode Library which includes guides for many of the common tasks you will encounter when setting up a new site. Their support is also outstanding. It is difficult to consider alternatives when Linode has already done everything right.

A response to Paul Graham's "How to Make Wealth"

When I first read Paul Graham’s essay How to Make Wealth, I was quickly seduced, like, I am sure, many young corporate cubicle-dwellers who think themselves more clever than their employers, and found myself day-dreaming about quitting my job and forming a startup with a catchy url and the $50 Million I would get for selling it to Google. At the time, I was able to overlook the flaws and inconsistencies in the argument because the inspirational nature of the piece was so compelling. On closer examination, however, I find that underlying Graham’s motivational pep talks for the under-appreciated geek is a tenuous philosophical position that demands proper refutation. Whether this essay will succeed in righting Graham’s injustices remains to be seen. There are so many problems with Graham’s thinking that it is difficult to organize a focused response. Thus, with this essay, I intend mainly to introduce the reader to an alternate line of thought, lest they be so overwhelmed by Graham’s crusades that their mental capacities for logical reasoning are badly warped.

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