KWIC, make me some hash!

IEEE Spectrum has a fascinating bio sketch of Hans Peter Luhn, inventor of the hashing and KWIC indexing algorithms. This is Luhn’s legacy: He helped show that computers and computation weren’t just the province of mathematics, statistics, and logic but also of language, linguistics, and literature. In his day, this was a revolutionary way to think about machines. Tip from the Geek Press. Continue reading KWIC, make me some hash!

New Tricks for this Old Dog

Udacity is offering an introductory statistics course this summer, beginning June 25th.  I’ve enrolled, to see how the Big Boys do it.  This is going to put a lot of pressure on traditional universities–especially here in Texas, where we’re busily hammering out the $10,000 Bachelor’s degree.  I figure if I don’t get up with the leaders of the buffalo herd, I’m gonna get trampled or left behind. Tip from Meep at the Conservative Commune. Continue reading New Tricks for this Old Dog

Generating Irrational Probabilities

Over at Jan Nordgreen’s excellent Thnik Again! blog, frequent commenter Richard Sabey posed the question “I want to throw a fair coin and use the result to make some decision with probability 1/sqrt(2). How?” This was initially a stumper; not a surprise since Richard is a pretty formidable mathematician who has more number theory in his left pinky than I do in my whole head.  Nevertheless, I chewed on this problem for a few days and set it aside until Jan decided to egg folks on by repeating the question.  While my solution (and Richard’s–he had one ready, of course) … Continue reading Generating Irrational Probabilities

Gettin’ it on the QR

I’m finally getting hip to QR codes.  Here’s a nice (=free) QR generator; it gives me this QR for the blog’s URL. I’m currently test-driving the Butterkiss QR Scanner for my Windows Phone.  So far–scanning from computer screens–it’s working fine. Tip from APOD.   Update (7 October).  I’m starting to get the hang of this QE stuff–you can do text!  Here’s a drink recipe, enjoy! Continue reading Gettin’ it on the QR

Hobbit Rings! Oh goody! I gots a Hobbit Ring!

UTSA has just implemented a common-password system for all university online services.  In the comment section of this post on Bruce Schneier’s security blog, I learn that these are called Hobbit Rings. I especially like this comment by Paul Dittrich: Years ago, a colleague asked “Why do I need to have so many passwords?” Rather than answering directly, I pointed at his keyring and asked him “Why do you need so many different keys? Wouldn’t it be easier to have just one key to open everything?” He looked at me like I was crazy and said “Well THAT would be … Continue reading Hobbit Rings! Oh goody! I gots a Hobbit Ring!