India arrives at the Oscars party

While watching the Oscars today  in which eight were won by Slumdog Millionaire based in India- I could help but note the fact that the song and dance musical routine (vaudeville) is now back in Hollywood , while in Indias Bollywood it never went away.

A R Rahman won two Oscars , one more Indian won for sound mixing, while the poet Gulzar won for best song as well. 4 Oscars for 3 Indians is unprecedented for the nation of a billion movie watchers- India produces and consumes more movies in more languages than any single other nation. What took India so long- the cocoon of isolation in which movies were released 3-4 years in India after they had been released abroad  was finally waved off in the mid 1990s.

And thanks to the globalized world, Indian movie goers learn the pleasures of multiplexes , off beat movies, award ceremonies while teaching the world how to dance when the wallet , stomach and the home is empty. To the newly impoverished Western citizens in the global folly of the financial recession , Indian citizens , at least 80 % of whom live below 1 dollar a day, these citizens ask As long as there is music in the movies , life and  its surprises are worth living for. And like the 18 year old actor who debuted in a low budget movie which won 8 Oscars, you too can win the Millionaire show. If it is written. Because it is written.

A R Rahman, an Indian Muslim trained at Trinity College,England ,rising from poverty himself  —kind of summed up the Indian way of looking at things ( as opposed to the Pakistani 😉 way when he said In  Life you can choose between love and hate. I chose love and so here I am.

ps Hugh Jackman tried so hard .

But I would prefer Steve Martin and Tina Fey any day.

KNIME and Zementis shake hands

Two very good and very customer centric (and open source ) companies shook hands on a strategic partnership today.

Knime  www.knime.org and Zementis www.zementis.com .

Decision Stats has been covering these companies and both the products are amazing good, synch in very well thanks to the support of the PMML standard and lower costs considerably for the consumer. (http://www.decisionstats.com/2009/02/knime/ ) and http://www.decisionstats.com/2009/02/interview-michael-zeller-ceozementis/ )

While Knime has both a free personal as well as a commercial license , it supports R thanks to the PMML (www.dmg.org initiative ). Knime also supports R very well .

See http://www.knime.org/blog/export-and-convert-r-models-pmml-within-knime

The following example R script learns a decision tree based on the Iris-Data and exports this as PMML and as an R model which is understood by the R Predictor node:

# load the library for learning a tree model
library(rpart);
# load the pmml export library
library(pmml);
# use class column as predicted column to build decision tree
dt <- rpart(class~., R)
# export to PMML
r_pmml <- pmml(dt)
# write the PMML model to an export file
write(toString(r_pmml), file="C:/R.pmml")
# provide the native R model at the out-port
R<-dt

 

Zementis takes the total cost of ownership and total pain of creating scored models to something close to 1$ /hour thanks to using their proprietary ADAPA engine.

The big big Analytics Conference

The Predictive Analytics Conference (http://www.predictiveanalyticsworld.com/ ) starts today in Hotel Nikko ,San Francisco . A whole whos who of analytics experts is gathering there including SAS,SPSS ,SAP, Click Forensics ,Acxiom ,Amazon, Google and a big R user conference as well. It is really really huge so stay tuned for some exciting announcements happening there.

image

Interview- Endre Domiczi

imageHere is an interview with a client and partner of mine, Mr. Endre Domiczi of Sevana Oy (www.sevana.fi) .

Sevana is a Finland based company which creates excellent software and analytics  products and their latest release is their automated audio quality product. Existing releases have been a shopping cart analyzer which does wonderful automated market basket analysis.

Ajay – What has been your career journey so far ? What advice would you
give to a fresh science graduate entering the market in today’s
recession .

Endre – About my career journey 

After receiving an MSc in Electronic Engineering my first job was maintenance of the Soviet "clone" of an IBM/360 computer (I still remember some of the Russian language terminology).While doing post graduate studies (got something that would be called today Tech.Lic. in Data Communication) I was offered a job by one of the professors in a research institute. Through the research institute I got a chance to work on a nuclear powerplant simulator in Finland as a Hungarian ex-pat (important, because Tsernobyl happened in the meanwhile).

I specified and implemented the mainframe side of the communication between a VAX/VMS mainframe and several PDP’s  (I’m still proud that later on someone who saw my part of the system, written in 1986, said that it was object-oriented, but the language was Fortran 🙂

One of the jobs enjoyed most was at Fiskars Power electronics. I could design the Hardware and write all software for a microcontroller-based intelligent display of a UPS (uninterruptable (or unpredictable?) power supply), which communicated with the UPS via the power line (around 1988-89).

Then 6 years at Nokia and 5 years at Nokia Research Center, where I got more familiar with object-orientation.A brief stop at Rational, followed by lecturing at the Helsinki Technical University for about 3 years (concurrent programming; UML-related topics). Somewhere in the meantime a (or rather THE) company has been founded, where I still work.

Here is the answer to the "advice" part

My advice would be – if we were speaking of a bright graduate – that his decision to start establishing contacts with potential employers during his studies and to lay down the foundations of his professional network was very wise, and now he should start using his contacts.

Finding a good position on the labor market, or a place on the IT market with a product or idea involves a certain amount of luck but also planning and conscious self management, the sooner career starters realize this the better.

Ajay – What are the key things that you have worked with in terms of technologies.

Endre- To my opinion it’s always a matter of people rather than anything else,
because people create technologies and people use technologies.

I believe that the key technologies we worked with are the way our company is organized and managed, the way our employees treat working with us and of course that state-of-the-art products (no matter what actual technology we have in mind: C, .NET, Delphi, PHP, Java etc), which our employees develop for our customers.

Two major examples are existing product providing automated audio quality measurement and analysis and the tool to mine and manage association rules in high data volumes that we expect to release QI 2009. Both are unique on the market as technology/science wise as well as functionality wise.

Ajay- What is the most creative product that has been released or is going to be released by your company.

Endre- I would mention the same two analytical products:

Automated audio/voice quality estimation is already released and we are searching and negotiating with companies to partner on its dissemination and integration to voice quality and quality of service test solutions.

All information about scientific approach, technology, tests and benefits is available from our web site (www.sevana.fi) partly freely and partly under NDA.We also put big hopes for the association rules mining system, which we develop trying to take into account needs of statisticians and marketing/sales analysts as well as typical demands in various industries: retail, wholesale, maintenance. I would like to give special thanks to Mr. Ajay Ohri whom we were consulting with about the features of such product and its market applications and demand. ( Ajay- Pleasure is mine)

Ajay-  Outsourcing has taken off really well in Poland and Romania. What
are the best known success stories of outsourcing that you can tell
of.What are the best known success stories of outsourcing that you can tell of.

Endre- Well, outsourcing may have different faces – it can be a big success and a
big failure or even a failure with a face of success. I believe that success story for software outsourcing is any company that has established a well operating and profitable company in any country, where doing software outsourcing makes sense.

I also believe that we have a good concept for software outsourcing projects as well, providing onshore software development at offshore prices in Finland.

We have our own know-how in order to make it possible.

Ajay- What do you think about the open source versus proprietary software debate. What is scenario in your local market ( across parts of the country ) regarding this.

Endre Open source gives the freedom to the evolution of applications and services.

It can spare you from reinventing the wheel. I forgot the source, but some famous computer scientist said something like: if programmers read more they would have to write less (code)One can argue that in case of open source one doesn’t easily find a bug-fix if her/his problem is not "mainstream".

However, even in proprietary software the vendor has priorities (often market-driven) and if your wallet is not thick enough and you are at the end of the list you’ll have to wait. And fixing, making a workaround, on your own is much more difficult.

Ajay – What are the intellectual property rights conditions as well as language facilities for Russian software companies ? What is the best way to contact local Russian companies for a software contract.

Endre- Protecting intellectual property rights is a reasonable issue in Russia and a lot of effort is put to improve the situation by the government and business, however I believe that the same challenges can be found in any other country: if your IPRs are broken for instance by your outsourcing company, would you really be able to afford court trial? I am sure not every company would be able to afford it no matter where we have IPR violation: in Russia, Romania, Poland or India.

I think the best way is to try to contact individuals first, because in Russia for instance there are a lot of highly qualified people who would rather try to establish their own
business than trying to be highly recognized by local outsourcing companies. We’ll be happy to assist in providing connections to the Russian software compan
ies and individuals.

 

Disclaimer- Ajay- I advise Sevana on Web 2.0 initiatives .See more on their products at http://wordpress.sevana.fi/ and http://sevana.fi

SAS , R and NYT – The Sequel

Here is a follow up article to the SAS vs. R articles by Ashlee V of the NYT.

 

The SAS Institute has borrowed a page from Sesame Street. It is now sponsoring the letter R.

Last month, I wrote an article about the rising popularity of the R programming language. The open-source software has turned into a favorite piece of technology for statisticians and other people looking to pull insights out of data.

On several levels, R represents a threat to SAS, which is the largest seller of commercial statistics software. Students at universities now learn R alongside SAS. In addition, the open-source nature of R allows the software to be tweaked at a pace that is hard for a commercial software maker to match.

All told, surging interest in the free R language could affect sales of SAS software, which can sell for thousands of dollars. Rather than running from the threat, SAS appears ready to try to understand R by adopting a more active role in its development.

You can read more at http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/16/sas-warms-to-open-source-one-letter-at-a-time/ or even by clicking on the Bits RSS feed in the sidebar on www.decisionstats.com

Ajay –

Note SAS is only opening up the SAS/IML product to integrate Rs matrix language capabilities. The base SAS software seems to be still not integrated with R and so is the statistics module SAS/Stat (SAS Institute sells in add on modules based on functionality and prices accordingly).

Many third party sources like http://www.minequest.com have created interfaces from Base SAS to R – they are priced at around 50 $ a piece.

An additional threat to SAS’s dominance is from the WPS software from a UK based company , World Programming http://www.teamwpc.co.uk/home (which has an alliance with IBM) . WPS software can read , and write in SAS language and read and write SAS datasets as well, and is priced at 660 $ almost one tenth of SAS Institute’s licenses.

The recession is also forcing many large license holders of statistical software (like Banks and Financial Services) to seek discounts and alternatives. SAS Institute remains the industry leader in analytics software after almost 35 years of dominance.

However this is a nice first step and it would be interesting to see follow up steps from SAS Institute rivals .

We can all go on our respective open source and closed source jets now.

comments from Anne H. Milley, director for technology product marketing at SAS, who relegated R to a limited role.

In the article, Ms. Milley said, I think it addresses a niche market for high-end data analysts that want free, readily available code. We have customers who build engines for aircraft. I am happy they are not using freeware when I get on a jet.

Offer for Decision Stats Readers

Here is an offer for Decision Stats readers , its a nice conference as per the website and if you are in Pharma forecasting a reasonable one to try out.

Offer: A discounted ticket for the major Pharma Forecasting Excellence Summit? This 500 discount off any pass is only available this week

The European Pharma Forecasting Excellence Summit is the biggest and most exciting meeting-place for European Pharma Forecasting and Marketing executives like you. This year its on 20-22 April in Madrid.

What  is there:

  1. Relevance – Weve spent months listening to your challenges to find the most relevant topics to help you keep ahead.
  2. Learn from our best ever line-up of pharma marketing speakers. Learn from world experts as well as your peers. We dont invite anyone only the most relevant for you with the best case studies.
  3. No sales pitches. This is an independent event.
  4. Meet people who may change your forecasting forever. No other event in Europe can provide you with 2 days of business focused networking with so many of the most influential people in pharma forecasting and marketing. Like many before you, you could make the connections that extend your network and change your career forever
  5. World exclusive case studies. No other event can deliver such knowledgeable insights and answers to key marketing challenges you face more facts and less vague theory
  6. Discounts the sooner you book the more you save
  7. Register Now. Dont forget to download the brochure and see all the topics: Download Brochure

Whom to Contact:

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Head of Forecasting – EU

eyeforpharma

T: +44 (0) 207 375 7516

F: +44 (0) 207 375 7576

E: cpoole@eyeforpharma.com

The full ticket prices: 

https://secure.firstconf.com/pharma/forecasting09/register.htm

Visa: http://www.schengenvisa.cc/

Ning and Wordframe

If you have ever been invited to a Ning.com community , or been part of an e-group ,or been member of a LinkedIn Group of Facebook Group you would know what online communities are all about. Here is a relatively new entrant than Ning.com (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ning) and it is called Wordframe

The plus points of Wordframe

(Screenshot Wordframe.com)

  • It has much better ,updated skins than Ning http://wordframe.com/product/community/skins/
  • It is much better ,well suited for creating content
  • It can use existing RSS feeds , and almost create a seamless focused community out in 5 minutes flat.
  • It can potentially be used within organizations in intranet installations as well for in house content management and corporate blogging.
  • It is soon going to be open source and give APIs away for third party development as well.

Ning.com is having many more users, and is quite good in flexibility in terms of Questions and Answers, Forums, Groups, Friend  Creation . Its design is okay- some of the skins could do with a Web 2.0 makeover. Above all it is free.

 

They are actually aimed at different segments ( I hope !!) so while Ning encourages focused social networking , Wordframe is more on focused blog /content heavy networking. One of the best Ning sites I have seen is www.analyticbrdige.com and one of the best Wordframe sites I have seen is www.smartdatacollective.com ( for Data related people ) and www.socialmediatoday.com ( for Online Media related people).

image (Screenshot- Ning.com)

So do you have a blog join one or both these communities , share your RSS feed and watch you visibility and viewership go up.

You are an occasional blogger and would rather read instead- join one or both these communities (that gives you commenting freedom), read other feeds and watch you understanding and knowledge go up.

 

Disclaimer- I have been Blogger of the Week on Social Media Today, and Member of the Month on Analytic Bridge (see the right sidebar on www.decisionstats.com ). In addition I have acted as a consultant and vendor for both of them in various parts of time and am acquainted to both the founders.

Ajay -Do I think there is value in joining them Yes ! It has given me more knowledge and perspective than I could ever hope to get working on my own sitting in suburban Delhi, India.

As a Hindi saying ( apt on online networking would go)- 1 and 1 make 11. That in summary is the power of offline and online networking and Ning and Wordframe help you do that.