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Databases

+ - Practical Approach to Complex Human Name Matching->

Submitted by
markmcb
markmcb writes "Making computers do intelligent things isn't always simple. Matt Vea demonstrates the complexities of human name matching and how a combination of techniques can greatly improve the match success rate well beyond the success rate of any single technique.

From the article, 'Anyone can write a simple query to compare two lists ... but could that query find Jon McAndrews from a list including John McAndrews or Jon Mc Andrews or even Jonathon McAndrews? They're all the same person but without utilizing some form of fuzzy logic — they'll never be detected. The problem is that human beings are natural pattern matching machines with an enormous swath of cognitive tools at our disposal whereas a computer is only as capable as the person who programmed it. Fortunately, ... a methodology can be assembled to automatically and efficiently identify people between lists while providing a metric of confidence in the match.'"

Link to Original Source
Databases

+ - Visualizing Complex Data Sets->

Submitted by
markmcb
markmcb writes "My company recently began using SAP as its ERP system and as we move into our second year with the software, there is still a great deal of focus on cleaning up the "master data" that ultimately drives everything the system does. The issue we face is that the master data set is gigantic and not easy to wrap one's mind around. As powerful as SAP is, I find it does little to aid with useful visualization of data. I recently employed a custom solution using Ruby and Graphviz to help build graphs of master data flow from manual extracts, but I'm wondering what other people are doing to get similar results. Have you found good out-of-the-box solutions in things like data warehouses, or is this just one of those situations where customization has to fill a gap?"
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Programming

+ - Balancing Performance and Convention->

Submitted by
markmcb
markmcb writes "My development team was recently pondering over a finding a practical solution to the problem that's haunted anyone who's ever used a framework: convention vs. customization. We specifically use Rails, but like most frameworks, it's great for 95% of our situations, but it's creating big bottlenecks for the other 5%. Our biggest worry isn't necessarily that we don't know how to customize, but rather that we won't have the resources to maintain whatever customize code going forward, i.e., it's quite simple to update Rails as it matures versus the alternative. What have been your experiences with this problem? Have you found any best practices to avoid digging custom holes that you can't climb out of?"
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It's funny.  Laugh.

+ - A Snarky Halloween History: Monsters Edition->

Submitted by
uriah923
uriah923 writes "Nick Dilmore has published the second edition in his Snarky Halloween History series, featured on Slashdot last year. This time around, he concentrates on movie monsters: vampires, werewolves and zombies. From the article, "[D]id you know the movie monsters we've all to come to know and love (in a platonic way, of course) have colorful histories stretching back to the earliest civilizations? What, you didn't think some Hollywood hack actually had enough imagination to invent vampires, werewolves, and zombies, did you? Silly, silly non-monster-trivia knowing person.""
Link to Original Source
Robotics

The First Evolving Hardware? 148

Posted by kdawson
from the many-generations dept.
Masq666 writes "A Norwegian team has made the first piece of hardware that uses evolution to change its design at runtime to solve the problem at hand in the most effective way. By turning on and off its 'genes' it can change the way it works, and it can go through 20,000 - 30,000 generations in just a few seconds. That same number of generations took humans 800,000 - 900,000 years." The University of Oslo press release linked from the article came out a few days ago; the researchers published a paper (PDF) that seems to be on this same technology at a conference last summer.
Security

+ - New Attack Vector Brings The Outside In

Submitted by delta
delta (666) writes "A paper detailing a new attack vector has been published. It details how metasploit style attacks can be launched from a controlled internal browser. This vector, Inter-protocol Exploitation (IPE), effectively sidesteps the boundary firewalls all together. Wade Alcorn's research could create a shift in thinking from the old 'harden the perimeter'."
Security

+ - Top 12 Operating Systems Vulnerability Summary

Submitted by
markmcb
markmcb writes "Have you ever wondered how vulnerable your computer is from the first bit you write to the hard drive all the way until you have a fully patched system? If so, Matthew Vea has posted a concise summary of security strengths and shortcomings for twelve of the major operating systems of 2006/2007. In his summary, Matt tests each OS with widely available tools like nmap and Nessus, and notes responses at install, pre-patch, and post-patch times for each system. After the tedious job is done, he produces results that will make both the Apple and Windows communities cringe with regards to security. From the article, 'As far as "straight-out-of-box" conditions go, both Microsoft's Windows and Apple's OS X are ripe with remotely accessible vulnerabilities. ... The UNIX and Linux variants present a much more robust exterior to the outside. Even when the pre-configured server binaries are enabled, each [Linux] system generally maintained its integrity against remote attacks.'"
Biotech

Semi-Identical Twins Discovered 224

Posted by kdawson
from the my-brother's-a-keeper dept.
daftna writes in with a story from Nature about a pair of twins who are neither identical nor fraternal: they are semi-identical. Researchers discovered twins who share all of their mother's DNA but only half of their father's. Both children are chimeras — their cells are not genetically uniform, but include a mix of genes from two separate sperm cells that fertilized a single egg. This is, apparently, not as rare as one might think; but the resulting fetus is rarely viable. This report marks the first known incidence of two half-identical twins resulting from a double fertilization.
Hardware Hacking

+ - Lasers Build 3D Micro-Sculptures

Submitted by
MattSparkes
MattSparkes writes "Scientists at the University of Texas have developed a method to build microscopic structures using laser beams to carve shapes from proteins. The researchers simply print negatives of the desired shape onto a transparency, and then place that between a laser and some liquid protein, and the laser causes the protein to form into a solid structure. Focusing the laser at different depths allows 3D shapes to be created."
Supercomputing

Quantum Computer Demoed, Plays Sudoku 309

Posted by kdawson
from the more-qubits dept.
prostoalex writes "Canadian company D-Wave Systems is getting some technology press buzz after successfully demonstrating their quantum computer (discussed here earlier) that the company plans to rent out. Scientific American has a more technical description of how the quantum computer works, as well as possible areas of application: 'The quantum computer was given three problems to solve: searching for molecular structures that match a target molecule, creating a complicated seating plan, and filling in Sudoku puzzles.' Another attendee provides some videos from the demo." Anyone want to guess how long before "qubit" gets compressed to "quit" (as "bigit" became "bit" in the last century)?

What is now proved was once only imagin'd. -- William Blake

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