Monday, May 31, 2010

Old Style Registration forms

Here is a registration form I am supposed to complete to register at this website http://edas.info/newPerson.php

Click on the image for bigger view



Luckily they do not require to complete all the fields and that makes filling this form tolerable. However, they will not accept gmail address as a valid e-mail address as shown in this picture below

Click on the image for enlarged view



Very interesting.

However, this is the registration for a state of the art conference in e-learning.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

T-Mobile 3G wireless Data Coverage in Youngstown Ohio

Few days ago I upgraded my mobile phone to Android OS based unlocked Google Nexus One mobile phone.

Once the initial euphoria subsided I realized that I will not get 3G wireless data speed in my office and in my apartment, the two places I need it the most. These two places the network data speed is closer to a slower Edge network speed and the data speed ranges from 100kbps - 245kbps. Inside office building it is slightly better and it ranges from 250kbps -500kpbs, depending upon time and network connection.

Outside the buildings, on the major roads like Glenwood Ave, Market Street and Belmont
Avenue it is patchy. Sometimes it is full 3G and sometimes it falls back to G/Edge coverage. The speed ranges from 300kbps -1.3Mbs. What is interesting is that coverage could change within few feet as it occurs behind my apartment complex where within few feet the coverage can change from G/Edge to 3G.

Most of these test were done using Mobile Speed Test.com



none

Some of the images showing the data transfer rate using Google Nexus one phone on T-mobile network are shown below



I found a wireless speed test app on the Android market. The test is same as the test available the web site
http://speedtest.net/

I collected the data at three locations and the results are shown in the table below:



The last two column show the download and upload speed for the T-mobile wireless network

Also some of the results in picture form are shown below












The data speeds vary widely based upon the locations.

The first location of the data collection is shown in the map below

Click on the image for enlarged view



The second location of the data collection is shown in the map below:

Click on the image for enlarged view



The third location of the data collection is shown in the map below:

Click on the image for enlarged view



Although T-mobile wireless data coverage map shows a 3G data speed but these map show that that is not the case. Even where the phone indicator shows a 3G speed the data rates are considerably slower. It however dramatically increses in the southern part of the town most notably in the Boardman area.


The promised data rates for wireless 3G data network according to Wikipedia article are

Data rates


ITU has not provided a clear definition of the data rate users can expect from 3G equipment or providers. Thus users sold 3G service may not be able to point to a standard and say that the rates it specifies are not being met. While stating in commentary that "it is expected that IMT-2000 will provide higher transmission rates: a minimum data rate of 2 Mbit/s for stationary or walking users, and 384 kbit/s in a moving vehicle, the ITU does not actually clearly specify minimum or average rates or what modes of the interfaces qualify as 3G, so various rates are sold as 3G intended to meet customers expectations of broadband data.

What becomes obvious is that it is difficult to get full strength network connection using wireless data connections. Some fault can be placed on the wireless network providers but mostly it is the limits of the technology at this time.

However, for some one like me it is a big improvement over the old GPRS wireless connection that I had for the last eight years. It delivered data at 14.4kbps. Hopefully with the introduction of 4G the field will become more competitive and we may get better wirelss data internet connectivity.

kbps: kilo bits per second Mbps: Mega bits per second


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Use of Google Docs as a Collaboration Tool in Teaching and Learning Process

I used Google Docs; mainly Google Writer and Spreadsheet as a tool to support student group collaboration, sharing and problem solving activities.

At the end of the course I did a survey to collect student responses about their experiences in using these tools. The Google docs received a rating of 4.75 on a scale of 5 by twenty students in the class.

Nineteen out of twenty students said that they will use Google Docs in their future work. This is a very strong endorsement of Google Docs by their users.

The complete text of student responses are shown below along with the summary of the results

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

360 Panoramic View of Taj Mahal

Please use the controls located at the top left corner of the image to walk around the surroundings of Taj Mahal


Taj Mahal Sunset - Classic view in India
More panoramic views are here

Facebook and Privacy Conundrum

There is a lot of noise about privacy issue plagueing facebook's recent changes to facebook platform.

The founder gets named as "
an amoral, Asperger’s-like entrepreneur" by the founder of Mahalo.com

The Big Game, Zuckerberg and Overplaying your Hand | The Jason Calacanis

Last year, when I realized that Zuckerberg was an amoral,
Asperger’s-like entrepreneur, I told Zynga CEO Mark Pincus that
Zuckerberg would try and slit his throat. I knew this because I
watched Zuckerberg screw over his users again and again in terms of
privacy, and I heard about the stories of him screwing over his former
employers at ConnectU and his early partners at Facebook.

The money quote from Business Insider’s scoop comes from Zuckerberg
himself: “they made a mistake haha. They asked me to make it for them.
So I’m like delaying it so it won’t be ready until after the facebook
thing comes out.” He stalled and sandbagged ConnectU–then
Zuckerpunched them! Of course, the person he said this to was his
partner–Eduardo Saverin–who he reportedly screwed as well.

via
calacanis.com

Another author Kim_Mai Cutler at venturebeat writes about facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg:

He believes that people should have a single identity

He’s a proponent of ‘radical transparency’ or that transparency will overtake modern life:

But he is deeply conscious of the fact that most people don’t ascribe to that idea:

He believes that transparency has the power to create more empathy and tolerance:

He’s afraid that if the company doesn’t gradually open up, it will fail:

He believes that Facebook’s approach to privacy, in which users explicitly share their interests, is more ethically sound than Google’s data collection approach:


All very strong beliefs and in some ways odd with the mainstream idea of privacy.

Finally does this confrontation is going to hurt facebook? Not in the short term. The recently released data shows that Facebook is heading towards 500 milllion monthly active users. It has gained 10 million users since its F8 meeting.

ComScore reported that Facebook had 484 million users in March. The advertising tool showed 436 million users in its advertising tool a couple weeks ago, which we think reflects its numbers from sometime around that time frame. From here, the monthly worldwide growth rate gets harder to determine. ComScore showed 472 million uniques in January, then a drop 463 million in February before rising by 21 million in March. We tracked 373 million at the end of January, then 394 million at the end of February before going up by 42 million in March.

Source

The facebook keeps on growing. May be some people will leave, some will be angry but they will stay on Facebook.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Google Wave User's Perspective II | GOOD and BAD

Continued from the previous post titled "Google Wave User's Perspective I"

I also created a Google wave that lists the googd and the bad experiences student's had while using it. The Wave is embedded below




Please use the slider located on the right to move up and down within the wave. Something like this



Overall as I said earlier people had a positive experience with using Wave.

Google Wave is still a preview version and will undergo several changes before it even becomes a beta version program. Considering this Google Wave is very usable and extremely promising.

It is very hard to characterize Google wave. It is an e-mail and IM at the same time. It could hold threaded discussions while allowing to create very sophisticated live documents that can be extended with the help of extensions, gadgets and robots.

At first Google Wave is very confusing and takes some time to get adjusted becasue of so many available options.

In the hands of power users it will emerge as a very useful small group communication & Collaboration tool.

Google Wave User's Perspective I

I just completed teaching a course on Computing tools in which I covered use of many software tools including tools for computing, communication & collaborations such as Google docs and Google Wave etc. I did a survey to get the opinion of students on their experience in the use of different software tools.

The spreadsheet below shows written responses from students about Google wave as a Tool for Communication & Collaboration. The spreadsheet contains the summary of the results at the end




Overall, their experience was positive with the Google Wave. Wave recieved a rating of 4.05/5 and 65 percent said that they will use Google Wave again.

Blogger does not like two Iframes in the same post so the post continues in the next post here
http://randomthougts101.blogspot.com/2010/05/google-wave-users-perspective-ii-good.html

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Twitter, a Social Network or a News Media?

What is Twitter, a Social Network or a News Media?
View more presentations from Haewoon Kwak.
Twitter, a microblogging service less than three years old, commands more than 41 million users as of July 2009 and is growing fast. Twitter users tweet about any topic within the 140-character limit and follow others to receive their tweets. The goal of this paper is to study the topological characteristics of Twitter and its power as a new medium of information sharing.

We have crawled the entire Twitter site and obtained 41.7 million user profiles, 1.47 billion social relations, 4,262 trending topics, and 106 million tweets. In its follower-following topology analysis we have found a non-power-law follower distribution, a short effective diameter, and low reciprocity, which all mark a deviation from known characteristics of human social networks~\cite{Newman03}. In order to identify influentials on Twitter, we have ranked users by the number of followers and by PageRank and found two rankings to be similar. Ranking by retweets differs from the previous two rankings, indicating a gap in influence inferred from the number of followers and that from the popularity of one's tweets. We have analyzed the tweets of top trending topics and reported on their temporal behavior and user participation. We have classified the trending topics based on the active period and the tweets and show that the majority (over 85%) of topics are headline news or persistent news in nature. A closer look at retweets reveals that any retweeted tweet is to reach an average of 1,000 users no matter what the number of followers is of the original tweet. Once retweeted, a tweet gets retweeted almost instantly on next hops, signifying fast diffusion of information after the 1st retweet.

To the best of our knowledge this work is the first quantitative study on the entire Twittersphere and information diffusion on it.

[PDF (4.8MB)]

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Google Chrome and Firefox | User experience | Implications for the Open Web

Google Chrome has been branded as the Browser of the future.

It runs each web page in a separate tab to avoid Browser crashes. It uses javascript interpreter RHINO that is fast. It uses Webkit as its rendering engine the same one used by Apple browser Safari. It is open source. All very good additions to solve issues that have plagued Firefox for a while.

It even allows only one tab for web pages that use Adobe supported file formats such as PDF and Swf, restricting them from using all the memory and computing resources. Another smart choice. However, this causes problems for user like me who receive all the official communication in the form of PDF files and I have no choice except to open Firefox browser to see multiple PDF files.

Chrome developers claim that it has an improved User interface. In some ways it is true because this is how my top part of the two Browser look

Chrome Top Tool Bar

Please click on image for enlarged view


and here is how the Firefox tool bar looks

Please click on image for enlarged view


It is obvious that Chrome allows more area for web page display by not allowing to place toolbars. Which is good and bad at the same time. Like I can live without Google and Stumble upon tool bars but I use Compete tool bar to check web site statistics I am visiting. It shows up at the bottom right corner of my Firefox window like this: showing people count and compete.com rank of the website :


I guess I will have to wait for Compete to develop a Chrome extension to encapsulate the functioning of their Firefox toolbar.

Chrome Javascript interpreter is fast but lacks accuracy. Here is the Gmail tool bar in Firefox

Please click on image for enlarged view

Showing the icon to insert image in the body of the e-mail created using Google Gmail, a feature that has been around in other e-mail clients for ages.

And here is Gmail toolbar in Google Chrome completely missing the "image insert" icon.


Please click on image for enlarged view


The lack of image insert icon cripples a useful feature of inserting images within the body of e-mail. User of Google Chrome have to sent images as an attachment to the e-mail which people may open or may not or simply miss the attached images. It also interrupts the flow of reading the e-mail content and spoils the experience of the user.

It also shows that Google Chrome's Javascript engine lacks consistency and its designer have cut corners to gain speed while losing accuracy.

Another minor annoyance is the way "find" function works in Google Chrome. There are times when a search function is performed for the same term on multiple web pages . In case of Firefox you can open a find box as shown here

and then you can keep searching for whatever you are looking for within the web page and once done one can easily kill the "Find Box"

In case of chrome the "Find in the page" menu item shown below has to be opened for every web page again and again from the top right drop down menu bar. It does not stay open as it does in Firefox

These are some of the examples that show that web based application are good enough and mostly work but are inconsistent causing aggravation to their users.

I think we are heading towards multiple browsers where each browser will work the best with the Browser's creators products and will work good enough with other web applications. In the past there were two browsers: Internet Explorer and Netscape/Firefox with opera having a minuscule share of Browser's market. Expect to see many different Browsers branded by each company and running the applications from that company. Each having little hooks to improve the performance of html, CSS and Javascript rendering for its applications. This has been the case all along but at least in the past most of the companies paid the lip service to web standards. That may not be the case in the future.

Google is promoting open source development and open standards in the form of html5, CSS and new and improved Javascript engine to keep the Web open. However, the problem is that Javascript has been an unreliable language to develop web based applications. It lacks the performance of native applications and cross browser compatibility as seen above. Google's own web application Gmail tool bar appears different in two different browsers and both are open source browsers and directly supported by Google financially.

This is where Flash had an edge and still does but now being pushed out from the vendors of the platform owner. Apple has banned Flash on its application development platform. Google is playing nice with Flash but only so much. As you can see that Google Chrome will allow only one tab for Adobe application per Google Chrome window and it throws error window for any Adobe application that is not functioning nicely within the Chrome tab sandbox. That does not bode well for the future Adobe products those create files in PDF and SWF format.

While people were busy watching Browser war between Microsoft and Ntescape, Apple has quietly developed a complete computing stack and devices that perform better than the open development stack. Iphone applications perform better than equivalent application developed using browser based applications that use HTML5/CSS/JAVASCRIPT

This is precisely what is Google's Achille's heel. They have many web application who perform well enough but inconsistent, suffer performance penalty and can easily be replaced by applications that are better performing on computing and mobile devices.

People thought that Google was competing with Microsoft but that really is not true. Going forward they will be competing with Apple for applications, software development environment and mobile computing devices and Facebook/Twitter for people's attention. There is a very narrow window of opportunity to improve the HTML5/CSS/JAVASCRIPT stack for front end application development because that is the user facing end. User does not care how elegant the back end is. If they failed they will be the Unix of the future that every power user loves but Apple gets all the users who do not care about the elegance of the software but do care about how it helps them in getting their job done quickly without showing its quirks.

I remember distinctly Apple releasing Web Objets standard/enterprise way back in 1996. I used it back then and it had all the functionality of developing web applications. It even had Objective C as part of the development environment. They have been at the web development for the long time and their efforts are finally bearing the fruits.

I would love to see Google succeed because they are supporting open web development but at the same time they do have to get serious about developing products that are competitive and do perform. The coolness factor can take them only so far after some time its effects wears off especially when user struggle with sluggish performance, inconsistencies within there offerings.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Data Visualization Example Using Tablau Software



Find information about Tavlau software here "Data in, Brilliance Out | Tableau Public" http://bit.ly/9yZIHG

Philosophy For Old Age | George Carlin

Use the fullscreen option at the bottom to swith to full screen viewing


Where are World's Fat People?

Percentage of overweight adults aged 15 and over

Move your mouse over the image to display the country name and numbers



For more details please read the article here

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