Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system


Forgot your password?

Comment Statistical significance in surveys (Score 5, Insightful) 555

Surveys are inherently difficult to present in a neutral fashion, especially when attempting to determine correlation. Take the following (simplified) survey for example:

I like Cheerios:
[Yes] [No] [Sometimes]

Rate your proficiency at math:
[Excellent] [Good] [Average] [Poor]

Now, let's say you found a statistically significant correlation between people who like Cheerios and people who are excellent at math. Congratulations! You just did not find a correlation related to math proficiency at all.

What you did just find is a correlation between people who selected the first option in your survey.

Now, randomizing your answers is a good start and will resolve the above issue. However, there are hundreds of other things which can affect your results and there is an entire survey industry formed around these problems. The immediate problems that spring to mind about the survey in TFA is:
-Respondents must have internet access
-Respondents must have signed up to Amazon's mechanical turk
-Respondents were paid for the survey
-Respondent proficiency at math/language was self-assessed
-Respondents must be able to comprehend English

Anyway, I could go on but my point here is this: despite the fact that a statistically-significant correlation that was found, that correlation may not stem from the questions themselves.


Submission + - Wii Lightsabre - First Wii remote hack?

Hillie writes: Apparently someone has hacked the Wii remote and paired it with their Mac; They've developed a Mac OS X application that essentially allows you to use the Wii remote as a virtual lightsaber. Slashfilm has the scoop. You simply run the application, and then press 1+2 on your Wii remote to connect it to your Mac, and then presto! Swing that baby around. It even vibrates when the virtual saber strikes something (simulated) and the saber can be retracted using the B button. It's only sound, but still it's pretty fun to play around with. The whole Star Wars light saber thing has become a desperate want for all Star Wars fans everywhere since the Wii has been announced. There is also a video of it in action as well.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - Search Engines Illegal In Australia

An anonymous reader writes: A court ruling has given the recording industry the green light to go after individuals who link to material from their websites, blogs or MySpace pages that is protected by copyright.

A full bench of the Federal Court yesterday upheld an earlier ruling that Stephen Cooper, the operator of, as well as the internet service provider that hosted the website, were guilty of authorising copyright infringement because they provided a search engine through which a user could illegally download MP3 files.

The website did not directly host any copyright-protected music, but the court held that simply providing links to the material effectively authorised copyright infringement.

Journal Journal: AMD Updates Opteron, Turion Road Maps

AMD has updated its Opteron rollout roadmap with an announcement of a quad-core processor for one-socket servers and workstations, and giving us a release date on the follow-up to its initial quad-core release, as well as its new mobile processor core. "That initial quad-core release will be followed in the first half of 2008 by the launch of Shanghai, its quad-core successor, according to Seyer.

Submission + - Easier Ajax with Ruby on Rails

IndioMan writes: One great thing about the Rails approach, is that it uses run-time code generation and custom tags, which insulates you from the complexities of JavaScript. This article walks through a couple of simple Ruby on Rails — Ajax examples and, along the way, shows you what makes the Ruby/Ajax combination so successful.
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Zprexa side effects played down for sales

MrCrassic writes: "From the article:

The drug maker Eli Lilly has engaged in a decade-long effort to play down the health risks of Zyprexa, its best-selling medication for schizophrenia, according to hundreds of internal Lilly documents and e-mail messages among top company managers...Lilly's own published data, which it told its sales representatives to play down in conversations with doctors, has shown that 30 percent of patients taking Zyprexa gain 22 pounds or more after a year on the drug, and some patients have reported gaining 100 pounds or more. But Lilly was concerned that Zyprexa's sales would be hurt if the company was more forthright about the fact that the drug might cause unmanageable weight gain or diabetes, according to the documents, which cover the period 1995 to 2004.
Wireless Networking

Submission + - Readerless RFID: Berkeley's Mesh Network

donzo writes: "eWEEK has an article about advances in RFID: "UC/Berkeley researchers have created tiny wireless 'motes' (aka network sensors) that use radio signals to communicate where they are located in physical space. The end goal: an RFID network that could revolutionize the industry with its ability to locate tagged items without the aid of readers... 'What we showed in the university was that you could network together a lot of sensors,' said Kristofer Pister, a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at UC/Berkeley who made a name for himself with his 1997 development of technology called Smart Dust — a self-organizing network of tiny wireless 'motes.'... Intended to be about the size of a grain of sand or a piece of dust — the motes from Dust Networks are currently about the size of a quarter — the motes contain sensors, computing circuits, bi-directional wireless technology, and an antenna and very low-battery power supply that are external to the chip. The motes can detect light, temperature or vibrations."

Submission + - "Softwarepatents are Evil" says the BSA

Paul Cobbaut writes: ""Patent trolling activities essentially hold inventors and tech companies hostage and clog up the patent system with injunctions and excessive litigation." This sounds like a Slashdot comment, but it is written by the BSA on their webpage. Who ever thought the BSA would become so insightful ?"

Submission + - Child's Play begins for this year

DJLuc1d writes: Penny-Arcade's succesful charity, Child's Play is begining its drive for this year. For those who are unfamiliar with Child's Play, its goal is to help hospitals around the world by providing sick kids with not only video games, but consoles, books, movies, and other entertainment while they are in the hospital.

Submission + - Internet Webcams installed on Texas/Mexico Border

Anonymous Immigrant writes: Texas recently installed Internet viewable surveillance cameras on the Mexican border as a part of their Border Watch program. They have provided this "to stress the system by providing public access to numerous surveillance cameras. Thank you for helping test this important capability." So I figured Slashdot might be able to help out. Login is required — try — and they require Internet Exploder, plus a plug-in from E-Watch.

After all that, you get a screen with thumbnails from nine webcams that you can then click on to get live footage — update rate appears to be a couple of frames/second. They go on to say "If you should notice any suspicious activity while viewing the camera images please notify the State by selecting the "Report Suspicious Activity" button under the camera view."

I watched for a while, but it was about as exciting as watching grass grow. Will this be an effective tool in "securing the border for the people of Texas?"

Slashdot Top Deals

Save yourself! Reboot in 5 seconds!