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Measuring Real Time Public Opinion With Twitter 54

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that statisticians from the University of Vermont are hoping to harness the stream of messages flowing through Twitter to read public opinion and sentiment in real time. '"Twitter is a reflection of what people are interested in right now," says Peter Dodds, adding that the goal is to establish an index, akin to the Dow Jones industrial average, that can "give an overall sense of how a collective body of people are feeling at any given point in time.' Dodds says he and his colleagues are analyzing about 1,000 tweets each minute, or about a million a day, looking for trends in descriptive words and phrases that indicate moods and emotions. In addition, the two can monitor the public reaction to news or policy announcement and track it over time. The tool is still in its early stages, but eventually Dodds hopes that it could work similarly to Google Flu Trends, a Web tool that doubles as an early-warning system for flu outbreaks by detecting spikes in certain search terms. Since relationships and conversations are so intrinsic to how people communicate on Twitter, the researchers hope that observing how one user's mood is affected by another might shed some light on crowd behavior and emotional contagion. 'All of this data serves as a remote sensor of well-being,' Dodds says."

Comment Re:Security? (Score 1) 210

A ship could use an impeller instead of a regular propeller to make the cables / nets option a lot more difficult.

Towing the ship in circles wouldn't be very difficult, until the ships computers start compensating, raise the alarm and throttle up a bit. As far as I know, the Somali pirates mostly use small boats, not impressively powerful towing boats.

Maybe they should just start using some flags on autonomous ships indicating they are equipped with automatic defense systems.

Comment Re:sourcing the problem (Score 1) 212

I guess the perpetrators might be found by correlating the buyer/seller data from a number of cases where fraud is reported.

The perpetrators could try to make this more difficult by making the data harder to correlate; pump some stocks that they don't buy or sell, pump some stocks, but intentionally sell outside the obvious window of opportunity, possible at a (small) loss, using multiple, unrelated accounts to buy and sell the stock, etc.

That way, the detectives have to try to find multiple unrelated perpetrators (from their point of view, because of the separate accounts), that have made a significant profit in some of these cases.

I think it's going to take a whole lot of very interesting data mining to find them, based on the stock data only.

Comment Re:Bam! Power Supply (Score 1) 312

This device seems almost completely useless to me for on-the-go anything, unless you also bring along a seperate LCD, which ofcourse needs power, because of the placement of the touchscreen.

I can only imagine the neck strain from looking at the far right of the keyboard to see what I'm typing. If the screen was in the center, or detachable (and re-attachable at the top) it just might be useful.

Comment Re:good! (Score 1) 364

While I do agree that computers play an increasingly important role in research and development, it's not the computer doing the design work. The human is doing the design work, and using the computer to verify the design, or optimize it within very specific boundaries.

When the computer calculates that a certain structure is stronger than it needs to be, the designer can adjust it. The computer won't design a completely different structure for you.

If you were to use a computer to generate a design (say, circuit board or application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) layout and trace routing) it's really just running a semi-brute force algorithm, optimized by the programmer to produce suitable but possibly sub-optimal solutions quickly.

Without the engineer staring at the screen, the thing would just sit there. Saying the computer designed the bridge is like saying the space shuttle was designed by the pocket calculators. The computer is a tool, and it requires and intelligent and knowledgeable engineer to produce anything meaningful.

Comment Re:Simpsons Movie (Score 3, Interesting) 612

So, if two corporations, one of which is less than 18 years old (or whatever the local legal age is) merge, and later create a daughter company, that should be considered statutory rape?

I wonder how the Simpsons could be considered "human"? The Ducks are always half naked, but because they are apparently ducks instead of humans, that makes it alright? Those stories are even meant for children! The horror!

What if Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck would be having a wild party with April, May and June Duck?

Comment UK vs. Australia (Score 5, Interesting) 419

And here we were joking about how retarded the idea of filtering all traffic in Australia was.

Not only do they intent to capture every packet, but they also intent to store them and analyze them off-line.

Especially considering the growth of bandwidth usage the past couple of years, this is nothing short of an absurd idea.


One of HST's Cameras Is Back In Action 47

StupendousMan writes "One of the two big cameras aboard the Hubble Space Telescope is the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2, or WFPC2 for short. As the most recent HST status report indicates, the camera was recently powered up again and sent commands to take some test images. Today (Sunday, Oct 26), I received E-mail from a colleague at STScI indicating that the calibration images were 'nominal.' That's NASA-speak for 'fine and dandy.' The E-mail goes on to say 'The data look nominal, indicating that Hubble optical imaging capabilities are in fine shape. (We can expect more glorious Hubble images in the near future.) ... Science with WFPC2 has resumed, and plans are underway to restore ACS/SBC to service this coming week.' Let's hope that the other big instrument, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), also comes back to life successfully. We should find out in just a week or so."

There can be no twisted thought without a twisted molecule. -- R. W. Gerard