Experiencing E-Cigs, Part 1: The Starter Pack

It has been established beyond all doubt that smoking tobacco is, to put it mildly, not great for your health. I’ve known that since I was in elementary school, where I penned a quite-awful “editorial” asking why tobacco wasn’t made illegal, since it was so obviously bad for you. Times have changed since then, and I went from kid to teenager who smoked some cigarettes, and from there to a college student who would partake occasionally in a few smokes.

When I started dating my now-wife, in 2007, she got me to quit my occasional streak of bumming a few smokes off friends while we were all drinking. Since then, I’ve had precisely one smoke, during a rather stressful event I was running in 2008, and for the most part I don’t miss it. I enjoyed having a cigarette here and there, but I also noticed the aftereffects on my teeth and my lungs (kicking up my mild asthma).

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Optical Mark Recognition – Example for the Udai OMR Tool

On Google+, Felipe Cortez has recently hit up one of my older posts about using an open-source, Java-based optical mark recognition (OMR) tool that I found and played with awhile back. I promised that I would dig and see if I had any working templates, etc, left, and I do!

I’ve linked a public Google Drive folder where I’ve put this stuff. Basically, what you get here are:
– my notes from when I was using this before
– a batch script I wrote to connect it all
– the asc, config, and fields files for the template_trial
– the original Word documents and PNG files used to create the template (/projects/trial)
– six PNG files created from this template you can use to test the script (/trial_pg1)

I just ran the script again and it seemed to work fine on my system (Windows 7, 64-bit), and this was initially developed on an x86 Windows XP box.

NOTE: When you run the included batch file, it will ask you to identify the template you want to use. Enter template_trial.png, not just template_trial, or the system will not work.

These files should all drop pretty easily into the existing file structure of the OMRProj.tar.gz file, which I’ve also uploaded in case the source ever dries up. Hopefully, these might help some other folks get the system working for them too!

Using match() to recode in R

Nice and simple write-up on how to do this; reposting because I happen to be doing it tonight!

What’s YOUR PIN?

This article combines a number of my loves: data visualization, information security, and large-scale data analysis. Enjoy!

What You Do vs. Why You Do It

I really enjoyed this TED talk by Simon Sinek, and wanted to share it. It’s a great discussion about leadership, and it has this gem of a quote in it:

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it, and what you do simply serves as the proof of what you believe.”
– Simon Sinek

As he was going on, I was struck by how similar his ideas sounded to some concepts in Aristotelian ethics – about character, virtue, and the value of repeated actions becoming habits.

When he says that what you do is the proof of what you believe, I can’t help but think of the idea that it is our actions, and not our claims, that truly reveal who we are – they reveal our character. We can claim that we are good people and that we have good beliefs, but ultimately, it’s what we do, not what we say, that reveals who we are. Definitely a great video.

The once and future green car?

A repost of an excellent article by friend and fellow CWRU alum, Kyle Niemeyer.

We stopped dreaming – Neil deGrasse Tyson

This is a fantastic video. It is worth the 5 minutes to watch, simply to understand why the space program was important…and why our society is hurting without it.

Even more social media

Hey folks! I finally broke down and joined the Twitterverse. If Twitter is your thing, you can find me as @SASApostate. So far, I’ve tweeted more about Mass Effect 3 than data stuff, but expect that to change soon. After all, now that I’m publicly identifying as a SAS Apostate, I should probably explain why!

A reminder on question-begging

This is perhaps my number one pet peeve when it comes to language. “Begging the question” does not mean “raising the question”, and this site explains why.

Rise of the Olympians: The Passing of Steve Jobs

I had originally intended to make a post in the next day or two about some of the most egregious and frustrating things that I hear about statistics (a topic of interest to me as an analyst and designated “stats guy” at my job). But last night, as I was mulling over an outline of what to say in my head, I popped open Facebook and saw…

…that Steve Jobs was dead.

When that came up, I knew that I’d be shelving the statistics post, at least for a day or two. Not because I was deep in mourning, per se, but rather because I knew I had to say something about the passing of Jobs, one of the titans of the tech industry.

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