Blogging Ideas

These are the ideas that I have been thinking about blogging about.


In his book “ Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking”, Gladwell argues that at times we have too much data.  He gives several examples of how individuals who had too much information could not see that they were wrong.  He gives the example of a museum that was considering purchasing a sculpture. They gathered all the data they could, and the data showed the sculpture was authentic. Experts, on the other hand, could tell that the sculpture was a fake simply by looking at it.

He gives another example in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The military was clueless in WWII as to where the Japanese would attack, but virtually every newspaper at the time predicted that the Japanese would strike at Pearl Harbor.  I would tie this in with a comment made in class about how sometimes decisions are best made when we crowd source to the average person. Continue reading


Crowdsourcing, Captchas and the Gutenberg Project

A captcha is a simple way for a computer to tell the difference between a computer and human. Generally, as you fill out forms, a captcha to ensure you are you, and not a computer trying to bog down servers or databases. Each captcha image is attached to a specific word, and unless the word you entered matches the word that the captcha image is attached to, you will be considered a computer and your application will be denied.  Since millions of individuals were filling out these captchas every day, Google thought of the idea of using them to crowd source the task of digitizing books using captchas. Thus the ReCaptcha project was born.  Instead of giving you one word, the ReCaptcha give you two words to solve. One of those words is a traditional captcha, but the (insert Recaptcha here) second comes from a book that is being digitized.  The word they give you are words that computers are not sure about, and let humans decide what those words are. In that way, every time you solve a captcha, you are helping to digitize the world’s books.

Social Book Club

Recently, I was involved into a book group. Each member of the group was assigned to gather a list of books on different topics and then we would come together and decide what book we were going to read. I was chosen to search out different books on the topic of Economics. Not surprisingly, I defaulted and looked up books by Adam Smith as he was the founder of modern Economics. My first choice was The Wealth of Nations. I had studied various sections out of the book and figured that it would be nice to actually read the legendary publication. One other book I searched out was The Theory of Moral Sentiments by the same author. This book particularly interested me because I was always taught that Economics was amoral, and it seemed interesting that the author of The Wealth of Nations would also publish a book discussing morals. Ultimately, the book our Group chose was The Wealth of Nations. It was only after we selected the book that I realized how large it was! I guess one downside to the Kindle is that it is difficult to really judge the length of a book just by picking up the device.
After we finished reading the book, we each chose to read up on a specific section of the book in order to gather for a group discussion. For convenience we got together on Skype, and attempted to use Call Graph to record our conversation. Unfortunately, for some reason only one of our microphones was working, and we tried to use the chat function on Skype in order to complete our discussion. After a while, I remembered that I had a Google Voice account and decided to see if I could record a conversation that way. I had one member of our group call our Google Voice number

(which was forwarded to my cell phone) and I conferenced in the other member of the group. Then, by pressing “4” on my cell phone keypad, Google Voice informed methat “This call is now being recorded” That call can be listened to here:


It was a great experience. This whole project helped me connect with a few members in our class, consume a book I would not normally read, and create an audio version of a book review.

The Ranting Script Kiddie who Practiced “Civil Disobedience”

Once upon a time there was a man who condescendingly used the term “Script Kiddie” in a public newsgroup debate.  An individual with the pseudonym  “Wicked” was offended and decided to show Steve Gibson that a script kiddie could actually do some damage.  He used his own script to begin a denial of service attack against www, (Gibson’s website). The script kiddie succeeded and the website was taken down. After an investigation, Steve (who was unaware that he had offended anyone) discovered why Wicked was attacking him.  After Wicked was done ranting, he and Steve came to an agreement and the DoS attacks were stopped.