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The second meetup for R New Delhi Users

The R Users of New Delhi met for the second time on Dec 15, 2012. We meet on the third Saturday of every month.

12121

We talked on epidemiology using epi calc package  ( we have 1 doctor and 1 bio statistician) , and Cloud Computing ( we have two IT guys) and Business Analytics. We also discussed the GUI , R Commander , Rattle, and Deducer for beginners and people transitioning to R from other analytics software. We also discussed the R for SAS and SPSS Users books, and R for Data Mining Book. The free book for R for Epidemiology ( http://cran.r-project.org/doc/contrib/Epicalc_Book.pdf ) was mentioned . Not bad for 1 hour.

We are currently unfunded and unsponsored , I hope to get some sponsors to give away R books to encourage users and group members (excluding my own). The only catch to join this meetup group, you either need to attend (and be local) or present something ( if you are not in Delhi)2

I have been trying to get this group to go from Vector to Matrix to get a bigger sponsorship from Revolution , but I am constrained by meeting in a public cafe. That is due to change since we managed to get one sponsor for meeting place in Noida ( a Business School batchmate who owns his office)

http://www.revolutionanalytics.com/news-events/r-user-group/

Deadlines for applications are:

  • March 31, 2013 for Matrix and Array level groups.
  • September 30, 2013 for Vector level groups.

2013 Sponsorship Levels

The size of the annual grant depends on the size of your group.

Level For groups that are:  Requirements Annual Grant ($USD)
Vector Just getting started A group name, group webpage, and a focus on R. (Here are some tips on starting up a new R user group.) $100
Matrix Smaller but established 3 meetings in last 6 months with 30 attendees or more.  $500
Array Larger and groups  3 meetings in last 6 months with 60 attendees or more. $1000

 

Understanding Indian Govt attitude to Iran and Iraq wars

This is a collection of links for a geo-strategic analysis, and the economics of wars and allies. The author neither condones nor condemns current global dynamics in the balance of power.

nations don’t have friends or enemies…nations only have interests

In 2003

The war in Iraq had a unique Indian angle right at the beginning. Some members of the US administration felt they needed more troops in Iraq, and they started negotiating with India. Those negotiations broke down because the Indians wanted to fight under the UN flag and on MONEY!!

India wanted-

  • More money per soldier deployed,
  • more share in post War Oil Contracts,
  • better diplomatic subtlety
Govt changed in India due to elections in2003 (Muslim voters are critical in any govt forming majority party), and the Iraq war ran its tragic course without any Indian explicit support.
In 26 Nov 2008, Islamic Terrorists killed US, Indian and Israeli citizens in terror strikes in Mumbai Sieze- thus proving that appeasing terrorist nations is just riding a tiger.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-06-13/india/27203305_1_stabilisation-force-indian-troops-pentagon-delegation

NEW DELHI: There will be a lot a Iraq on the menu over the weekend before the Pentagon team arrives here on Monday to talk India into sending troops to the war-torn nation.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-07-28/india/27176989_1_troops-issue-stabilisation-force-defence-policy-group

Jul 28, 2003, 01.28pm IST

NEW DELHI: Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Richard B Myers, who is arriving here on Monday evening on a two-day visit, will request India to reconsider its decision on sending troops to Iraq.

and

Jul 29, 2003, 07.00pm IST

NEW DELHI: Though Gen Myers flatly denied his visit had anything to do with persuading India to send troops to Iraq, it is evident that the US desperately wants Delhi to contribute a division-level force of over 15,000 combat soldiers.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2003-09-10/india/27176101_1_stabilisation-force-force-under-american-control-regional-dialogue

Sep 10, 2003, 05.34pm IST

NEW DELHI: Even as the US-drafted resolution on Iraq is being heatedly debated in many countries, American Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia Christina Rocca held a series of meetings with External Affairs Ministry officials on Wednesday.

Though it was officially called “a regional dialogue”, the US request to contribute a division-level force of over 15,000 combat soldiers to the “stabilisation force” in Iraq is learnt to have figured in the discussions.

The penny wise -pound foolish attitude of then Def Secretary Rumsfield led to break down in negotiations.

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Sir Winston Churchill

In 2012

Indian govt again faces elections and we have 150 million Muslim voters just like other countries have influential lobbies.

and while Israelis are being targeted again in attacks in India-

India is still seeking money-

India has struck a defiant tone over new financial sanctions imposed by the United States and European Union to punish Iran for its nuclear programme, coming up with elaborate trade and barter arrangements to pay for oil supplies.

However, the president of the All India Rice Exporters’ Association, said Monday’s attack on the wife of an Israeli diplomat in the Indian capital will damage trade with Iran and may complicate efforts to resolve an impasse over Iranian defaults on payments for rice imports worth around $150 million.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Unfazed-by-US-sanctions-India-to-step-up-ties-with-Iran/articleshow/11887691.cms

India buys $ 5  billion worth of oil from Iran. Annually. Clearly it is a critical financial trading partner to Iran.

It has now gotten extra sops from Iran to continue trading-and is now waiting for a sweeter monetary offer from US and/or Israel to even consider thinking about going through the pain of unchanging the inertia of ties with Iran.

There are some aspects of political corruption as well, as Indian political establishment  is notoriously prone to corruption by lobbyists (apparently there   is a global war on lobbyists that needs to happen)

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Unfazed-by-US-sanctions-India-to-step-up-ties-with-Iran/articleshow/11887691.cms

 Feb 14, 2012, 05.54PM ISTUnfazed by US sanctions, India to step up ties with Iran
India is set to ramp up its energy and business ties with Iran. (AFP Photo)
NEW DELHI: Unfazed by US sanctions and Israel linking Tehran to the attack on an Israeli embassy car here, India is set to ramp up its energy and business ties with Iran, with a commerce ministry team heading to Tehran to explore fresh business opportunities. 

The team is expected to go to Tehran later this month to discuss steps to expand India’s trade with Iran, part of a larger strategy to pay for Iranian oil, said highly-placed sources. 

Despite the US and European Union sanctions on Iran, India recently sealed a payment mechanism under which Indian companies will pay for 45 percent of their crude oil imports from Iran in rupees. 

So diplomats with argue over money in Israel, Indian and US while terrorists will kill.

Against Stupidity- The Gods Themselves -Contend in Vain

Cyber Cold War

I try to write on cyber conflict without getting into the politics of why someone is hacking someone else. I always get beaten by someone in the comments thread when I write on politics.

But recent events have forced me to update my usual “how-to” cyber conflict to “why” cyber conflict. This is because of a terrorist attack in my hometown Delhi.

(updated-

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/14/world/middleeast/israeli-embassy-officials-attacked-in-india-and-georgia.html?_r=1&hp

Iran allegedly tried  (as per Israel) to assassinate the wife of Israeli Defence Attache in Delhi using a magnetic bomb, India as she went to school to pick up her kids, somebody else put a grenade in Israeli embassy car in Georgia which was found in time. 

Based on reports , initial work suggests the bomb was much more sophisticated than local terrorists, but the terrorists seemed to have some local recce work done.

India has 0 history of antisemitism but this is the second time Israelis have been targeted since 26/11 Mumbai attacks. India buys 12 % of oil annually from Iran (and refuses to join the oil embargo called by US and Europe)

Cyber Conflict is less painful than conflict, which is inevitable as long as mankind exists. Also the Western hemisphere needs a moon shot (cyber conflict could be the Sputnik like moment) and with declining and aging populations but better technology, Western Hemisphere govts need cyber conflict as they are running out of humans to fight their wars. Eastern govt. are even more obnoxious in using children for conflict propaganda, and corruption.

Last week CIA.gov website went down

This week Iranian govt is allegedly blocking https traffic on eve of Annual Revolution Day (what a coincidence!)

 

Some resources to help Internet users in Iran (or maybe this could be a dummy test for the big one – hacking the great firewall of China)

News from Hacker News-

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3575029

 

I’m writing this to report the serious troubles we have regarding accessing Internet in Iran at the moment. Since Thursday Iranian government has shutted down the https protocol which has caused almost all google services (gmail, and google.com itself) to become inaccessible. Almost all websites that reply on Google APIs (like wolfram alpha) won’t work. Accessing to any website that replies on https (just imaging how many websites use this protocol, from Arch Wiki to bank websites). Also accessing many proxies is also impossible. There are almost no official reports on this and with many websites and my email accounts restricted I can just confirm this based on my own and friends experience. I have just found one report here:

http://kabirnews.com/iran-shut-down-gmail-google-yahoo-and-sites-using-https-protocol/202/

The reason for this horrible shutdown is that the Iranian regime celebrates 1979 Islamic revolution tomorrow.

I just wanted to let you guys know about this. If you have any solution regarding bypassing this restriction please help!

 

The boys at Tor think they can help-

but its not so elegant, as I prefer creating a  batch file rather than explain coding to newbies. 

this is still getting to better and easier interfaces

https://www.torproject.org/projects/obfsproxy-instructions.html.en

Obfsproxy Instructions

client torrc

Step 1: Install dependencies, obfsproxy, and Tor

 

You will need a C compiler (gcc), the autoconf and autotools build system, the git revision control system, pkg-config andlibtoollibevent-2 and its headers, and the development headers of OpenSSL.

On Debian testing or Ubuntu oneiric, you could do:
# apt-get install autoconf autotools-dev gcc git pkg-config libtool libevent-2.0-5 libevent-dev libevent-openssl-2.0-5 libssl-dev

If you’re on a more stable Linux, you can either try our experimental backport libevent2 debs or build libevent2 from source.

Clone obfsproxy from its git repository:
$ git clone https://git.torproject.org/obfsproxy.git
The above command should create and populate a directory named ‘obfsproxy’ in your current directory.

Compile obfsproxy:
$ cd obfsproxy
$ ./autogen.sh && ./configure && make

Optionally, as root install obfsproxy in your system:
# make install

If you prefer not to install obfsproxy as root, you can instead just modify the Transport lines in your torrc file (explained below) to point to your obfsproxy binary.

You will need Tor 0.2.3.11-alpha or later.


Step 2a: If you’re the client…

 

First, you need to learn the address of a bridge that supports obfsproxy. If you don’t know any, try asking a friend to set one up for you. Then the appropriate lines to your tor configuration file:

UseBridges 1
Bridge obfs2 128.31.0.34:1051
ClientTransportPlugin obfs2 exec /usr/local/bin/obfsproxy --managed

Don’t forget to replace 128.31.0.34:1051 with the IP address and port that the bridge’s obfsproxy is listening on.
 Congratulations! Your traffic should now be obfuscated by obfsproxy. You are done! You can now start using Tor.

For old fashioned tunnel creation under Seas of English Channel-

http://dag.wieers.com/howto/ssh-http-tunneling/

Tunneling SSH over HTTP(S)
This document explains how to set up an Apache server and SSH client to allow tunneling SSH over HTTP(S). This can be useful on restricted networks that either firewall everything except HTTP traffic (tcp/80,tcp/443) or require users to use a local (HTTP) proxy.
A lot of people asked why doing it like this if you can just make sshd listen on port 443. Well, that might work if your environment is not hardened like I have seen at several companies, but this setup has a few advantages.

  • You can proxy to anywhere (see the Proxy directive in Apache) based on names
  • You can proxy to any port you like (see the AllowCONNECT directive in Apache)
  • It works even when there is a layer-7 protocol firewall
  • If you enable proxytunnel ssl support, it is indistinguishable from real SSL traffic
  • You can come up with nice hostnames like ‘downloads.yourdomain.com’ and ‘pictures.yourdomain.com’ and for normal users these will look like normal websites when visited.
  • There are many possibilities for doing authentication further along the path
  • You can do proxy-bouncing to the n-th degree to mask where you’re coming from or going to (however this requires more changes to proxytunnel, currently I only added support for one remote proxy)
  • You do not have to dedicate an IP-address for sshd, you can still run an HTTPS site

Related-

http://opensourceandhackystuff.blogspot.in/2012/02/captive-portal-security-part-1.html

and some crypto for young people

http://users.telenet.be/d.rijmenants/en/onetimepad.htm

 

Me- What am I doing about it? I am just writing poems on hacking at http://poemsforkush.com

Indian Govt tries to censor Internet

Stupidity is contiguous  and Stupid Politicians are legion.

From-

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204542404577158342623999990.html?mod=WSJINDIA_hpp_LEFTTopStories

Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. are fighting back against increasing censorship demands from the Indian government and courts, arguing that they aren’t legally responsible for monitoring their websites and proactively removing user content that regulators deem objectionable.

The big threat for the companies at the moment is a lawsuit in a New Delhi trial court, which seeks to hold them and several other websites criminally liable for not censoring online content, including material that mocks or criticizes religious and political figures.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204542404577158342623999990.html#ixzz1jVPdAsNT

————————————————————————————————————————————–

One not so apparent reason for Indian Govt to censor Internet is that the internet and social media were used for massive anti-Govt and anti-corruption protests in 2011. The Govt found itself on the backfoot, newspapers and television in India are generally considered pliable and manipulable by Govt  of  India (thanks to ad spends).Judiciary in India is also not known to be 100% honest or resistant of political pressures.

The incumbent Congress govt needs more legal weapons in its arsenal given elections are approaching this year in many states, and the need for more arrows in legal quivers  in India against the Internet is an inevitable and unfortunate next step. Since this is a global phenomenon (read- SOPA debate in US) ,and the huge huge internet population in India- this is one interesting battle to watch.

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Movie Review- Bollywood "Rock Star"

This one is a wee bit different. The music sounds more contemporary and fusion ,East blends West, the direction is both subtle and at times flamboyant, and the acting is notches above the average dance round the tree, laugh like a idiot fare.

Rock Star is the tale of a college dropout (aint they all!) called Jordan / by Ranbir Kapoor  musical prodigy who battles personal demons, lady luck , lady love (in the impossible pout of the American fashion model ,Nargis F), and his own musical ambitions. The breathtaking art moves from Kashmir, Prague, Europe and the streets of Delhi University. This one is a taker, breaker, soul shaker.  Try getting a sub titled DVD if you dont know Hindi, or atleast dekko some songs streaming free at http://www.saavn.com/search/hindi/album%20Rockstar

Imitiaz Ali http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imtiaz_Ali_(director) does all olde Hindu College alumni proud (including this reviewer)
https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/cn1jx_JUpi0?version=3&hl=en_US&rel=0

Interview Ajay Ohri Decisionstats.com with DMR

From-

http://www.dataminingblog.com/data-mining-research-interview-ajay-ohri/

Here is the winner of the Data Mining Research People Award 2010: Ajay Ohri! Thanks to Ajay for giving some time to answer Data Mining Research questions. And all the best to his blog, Decision Stat!

Data Mining Research (DMR): Could you please introduce yourself to the readers of Data Mining Research?

Ajay Ohri (AO): I am a business consultant and writer based out of Delhi- India. I have been working in and around the field of business analytics since 2004, and have worked with some very good and big companies primarily in financial analytics and outsourced analytics. Since 2007, I have been writing my blog at http://decisionstats.com which now has almost 10,000 views monthly.

All in all, I wrote about data, and my hobby is also writing (poetry). Both my hobby and my profession stem from my education ( a masters in business, and a bachelors in mechanical engineering).

My research interests in data mining are interfaces (simpler interfaces to enable better data mining), education (making data mining less complex and accessible to more people and students), and time series and regression (specifically ARIMAX)
In business my research interests software marketing strategies (open source, Software as a service, advertising supported versus traditional licensing) and creation of technology and entrepreneurial hubs (like Palo Alto and Research Triangle, or Bangalore India).

DMR: I know you have worked with both SAS and R. Could you give your opinion about these two data mining tools?

AO: As per my understanding, SAS stands for SAS language, SAS Institute and SAS software platform. The terms are interchangeably used by people in industry and academia- but there have been some branding issues on this.
I have not worked much with SAS Enterprise Miner , probably because I could not afford it as business consultant, and organizations I worked with did not have a budget for Enterprise Miner.
I have worked alone and in teams with Base SAS, SAS Stat, SAS Access, and SAS ETS- and JMP. Also I worked with SAS BI but as a user to extract information.
You could say my use of SAS platform was mostly in predictive analytics and reporting, but I have a couple of projects under my belt for knowledge discovery and data mining, and pattern analysis. Again some of my SAS experience is a bit dated for almost 1 year ago.

I really like specific parts of SAS platform – as in the interface design of JMP (which is better than Enterprise Guide or Base SAS ) -and Proc Sort in Base SAS- I guess sequential processing of data makes SAS way faster- though with computing evolving from Desktops/Servers to even cheaper time shared cloud computers- I am not sure how long Base SAS and SAS Stat can hold this unique selling proposition.

I dislike the clutter in SAS Stat output, it confuses me with too much information, and I dislike shoddy graphics in the rendering output of graphical engine of SAS. Its shoddy coding work in SAS/Graph and if JMP can give better graphics why is legacy source code preventing SAS platform from doing a better job of it.

I sometimes think the best part of SAS is actually code written by Goodnight and Sall in 1970’s , the latest procs don’t impress me much.

SAS as a company is something I admire especially for its way of treating employees globally- but it is strange to see the rest of tech industry not following it. Also I don’t like over aggression and the SAS versus Rest of the Analytics /Data Mining World mentality that I sometimes pick up when I deal with industry thought leaders.

I think making SAS Enterprise Miner, JMP, and Base SAS in a completely new web interface priced at per hour rates is my wishlist but I guess I am a bit sentimental here- most data miners I know from early 2000’s did start with SAS as their first bread earning software. Also I think SAS needs to be better priced in Business Intelligence- it seems quite cheap in BI compared to Cognos/IBM but expensive in analytical licensing.

If you are a new stats or business student, chances are – you may know much more R than SAS today. The shift in education at least has been very rapid, and I guess R is also more of a platform than a analytics or data mining software.

I like a lot of things in R- from graphics, to better data mining packages, modular design of software, but above all I like the can do kick ass spirit of R community. Lots of young people collaborating with lots of young to old professors, and the energy is infectious. Everybody is a CEO in R ’s world. Latest data mining algols will probably start in R, published in journals.

Which is better for data mining SAS or R? It depends on your data and your deadline. The golden rule of management and business is -it depends.

Also I have worked with a lot of KXEN, SQL, SPSS.

DMR: Can you tell us more about Decision Stats? You have a traffic of 120′000 for 2010. How did you reach such a success?

AO: I don’t think 120,000 is a success. Its not a failure. It just happened- the more I wrote, the more people read.In 2007-2008 I used to obsess over traffic. I tried SEO, comments, back linking, and I did some black hat experimental stuff. Some of it worked- some didn’t.

In the end, I started asking questions and interviewing people. To my surprise, senior management is almost always more candid , frank and honest about their views while middle managers, public relations, marketing folks can be defensive.

Social Media helped a bit- Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook really helped my network of friends who I suppose acted as informal ambassadors to spread the word.
Again I was constrained by necessity than choices- my middle class finances ( I also had a baby son in 2007-my current laptop still has some broken keys :) – by my inability to afford traveling to conferences, and my location Delhi isn’t really a tech hub.

The more questions I asked around the internet, the more people responded, and I wrote it all down.

I guess I just was lucky to meet a lot of nice people on the internet who took time to mentor and educate me.

I tried building other websites but didn’t succeed so i guess I really don’t know. I am not a smart coder, not very clever at writing but I do try to be honest.

Basic economics says pricing is proportional to demand and inversely proportional to supply. Honest and candid opinions have infinite demand and an uncertain supply.

DMR: There is a rumor about a R book you plan to publish in 2011 :-) Can you confirm the rumor and tell us more?

AO: I just signed a contract with Springer for ” R for Business Analytics”. R is a great software, and lots of books for statistically trained people, but I felt like writing a book for the MBAs and existing analytics users- on how to easily transition to R for Analytics.

Like any language there are tricks and tweaks in R, and with a focus on code editors, IDE, GUI, web interfaces, R’s famous learning curve can be bent a bit.

Making analytics beautiful, and simpler to use is always a passion for me. With 3000 packages, R can be used for a lot more things and a lot more simply than is commonly understood.
The target audience however is business analysts- or people working in corporate environments.

Brief Bio-
Ajay Ohri has been working in the field of analytics since 2004 , when it was a still nascent emerging Industries in India. He has worked with the top two Indian outsourcers listed on NYSE,and with Citigroup on cross sell analytics where he helped sell an extra 50000 credit cards by cross sell analytics .He was one of the very first independent data mining consultants in India working on analytics products and domestic Indian market analytics .He regularly writes on analytics topics on his web site www.decisionstats.com and is currently working on open source analytical tools like R besides analytical software like SPSS and SAS.

The Comic Water Games (aka Common Wealth Games)

We in Delhi, India are a tough people. With summer temperatures from 46 Degree Celcius (114 Degree Fahrenheit) and Winter temperatures from 2-3 Degree Celcius (just above freezing), high pollution levels, the worst traffic jams (and highest per capita cars)- there is very little that intimidates the Average Delhiite-

But the Return of the British Empire is scaring us- and it is called Common Wealth Games. The Common Wealth is a group of countries that used to be colonized by Britain in her colonial days ( USA is not a member though- as they probably kicked way too much British butt while gaining independence).

And every 4 years they have CommonWealth games (read games for the non US English speaking world). So when our commie neighborhood– the Chinese went and got themselves an Olympics- we decided to get ourselves this CWG games too. Big deal- national pride- rising economic power and all that.

So far the Games has meant the following- lots of roads dug up, lot of stadiums in various degrees of preparation, a total cost of 2 Billion USD, rampant allegations of corruption due to the ten times increase in budget – including rather suspicious looking documents procured by our local press (yes Indian press is free as it is a democracy)

And add divine grace. Delhi has the wettest monsoon since 1978- it rains cats and dogs in September- and we now have a mini dengue malaria epidemic. 4 countries have declared the living quarters for athletes as uninhabitable , some have walked out, the inevitable terrorists injured two Taiwanese tourists this weekend (in a semi ironic email they said they were prepared as the government was prepared- it isn’t)

Today a bridge collapsed-

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/22/sports/22iht-GAMES.html?_r=1&hp

On Tuesday afternoon, a bridge next to Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, the main Games venue, fell apart. The footbridge collapsed into three pieces, taking several workers with it and uprooting one side of the arch that supported it.

A police officer at the scene said that 27 people had been injured, four of them seriously, in the collapse.

“This will not affect the Games,” said Raj Kumar Chauhan, a Delhi minister for development, who spoke on the scene. “We can put the bridge up again, or make a new one.”

and

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/world/asia/20india.html?ref=sports

“We really need to learn how to plan,” said Vrinda Walavalkar, a public relations executive who is not connected to the Games.

“Maybe we feel we have so many lifetimes to achieve things” that it does not matter if it gets done this time, she said.

Mr. Gupta, the shopkeeper, found a metaphor in Hindu wedding tradition.

The groom’s party, known as the barat, traditionally marches to the bride’s house on horseback with his friends and family, he explained. When the barat appears, the bride has to come to the door, he said.

“If the bride is not ready, you patch her up and try to hide all her defects,” Mr. Gupta said, and then you send her outside.

————————————————————————————————————–

To some this may be shocking. To the average Delhi-ite battling traffic and rain , this is one more episode in the chaotic Capital. As a small solace- Delhi still has the best and cheapest street food this part of the world- with golgappas, tikki and chat. If only you can beat the rain to get them !

Also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delhi if you like to know more.

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