R Concerto- Computer Adaptive Tests

A really nice use for R is education

http://www.psychometrics.cam.ac.uk/page/300/concerto-testing-platform.htm

Concerto: R-Based Online Adaptive Testing Platform

Concerto is a web based, adaptive testing platform for creating and running rich, dynamic tests. It combines the flexibility of HTML presentation with the computing power of the R language, and the safety and performance of the MySQL database. It’s totally free for commercial and academic use, and it’s open source. If you have any questions, you feel like generously supporting the project, or you want to develop a commerical test on the platform, feel free to email Michal Kosinski.

We rely as much as possible on popular open source packages in order to maximize the safety and reliability of the system, and to ensure that its elements are kept up-to-date.

Why choose Concerto?

  • Simple to use: Check our Step-by-Step tutorial to see how to create a test in minutes.
  • Flexibility: You can use the R engine to apply virtually any IRT or CAT models.
  • Scalability: Modular design, MySQL tables, and low system requirements allow the testing of thousands for pennies.
  • Reliability: Concerto relies on popular, constantly updated, and reliable elements used by millions of users world-wide.
  • Elegant feedback and items: The flexibility of the HTML layer and the power of R allow you to use (or generate on the fly!) polished multi-media items, as well as feedback full of graphs and charts generated by R for each test taker.
  • Low costs: It’s free and open-source!

Demonstration tests:

 Concerto explained:

Get Concerto:

Before installing concerto you may prefer to test it using a demo account on our server.Email Michal Kosinski in order to get demo account.

Training in Concerto:

Next session 9th Dec 2011: book early!

Commercial tests and Concerto:

Concerto is an open-source project so anyone can use it free of charge, even for commercial purposes. However, it might be faster and less expensive to hire our experienced team to develop your test, provide support and maintenance, and take responsibility for its smooth and reliable operation. Contact us!

 

C4ISTAR for Hacking and Cyber Conflict

As per http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C4ISTAR

C2I stands for command, control, and intelligence.

C3I stands for command, control, communications, and intelligence.

C4I stands for command, control, communications, computers, and (military) intelligence.

C4ISTAR is the British acronym used to represent the group of the military functions designated by C4 (command, control, communications, computers), I (military intelligence), and STAR (surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance) in order to enable the coordination of operations

I increasingly believe that cyber conflict will develop its own terminology and theory and paradigms in due time. In the meantime, it will adopt paradigms from existing military literature and adapt it to the unique sub culture of cyber conflict for both offensive, defensive as well as pre-emptive actions. Here I am theorizing for a case of targeted hacking attacks rather than massive attacks that bring down a website for a few hours and achieve nothing but a few press headlines . I would also theorize on countering such attacks.

So what would be the C4ISTAR for –

1) Media company supporting SOPA/PIPA/Take down Mega Upload-

Command and Control refers to the ability of commanders to direct forces-

This will be the senior executives including the members of board, legal officers, and public relationship/marketing people. Their name is available from corporate websites, and social media scraping can ensure both a list of contact addresses (online) as well as biases for phishing /malware attacks. This could also include phone (flooding or voicemail hacking ) attacks , and attacks against the email server of the company rather than the corporate website.

Communications– This will include all online and social media channels including websites of the media company , but also  those of the press relations firms handling communications , phones,websites- anything which the target is likely to communicate externally (and if possible internal communication)

Timing is everything- coordinating attacks immediately is juevenile, but it might be more mature to attack on vulnerable days like product launches or just before a board of directors meeting

Intelligence

Most corporates have an in-house research team, they can be easily targeted using social media channels, but also offline research and digging deep. Targeting intelligence corps of the target corporate is likely to produce a much better disruption. Eventually they can be persuaded to stop working for that corporate.

Computers– Anything that runs on electricity and can be disabled – should be disabled. This might require much more creativity than just flooding.

 surveillance-  This can be both online as well as offline, and would be of electronic assets, likely responses for the attack, and the key people who are to be disrupted.

target acquisition-  at least ten people within each corporate can and should be ideally disrupted, rather than just the website. this would call for social media scraping, and prior planning. even email in-boxes can be disrupted (if all else fails)

and reconnaissance-

study your target companies, target employees, and their strategies.

Then segment and prioritize in a list of  matrix of 10  to 10, who is more vulnerable and who is more valuable to attack.

the C4ISTAR for -a hacker activist organization is much more complicated but forensics reveal that most hackers tend to leave a signature style (in terms of computers,operating systems,machine ids,communication, tools, or even port numbers used)

the best defense for a media rich company to prevent hacking attacks is to first identify its own C4ISTAR structure for its digital content strategy and then fortify as well as scrub vulnerabilities (including from online information regarding its own employees)

(to be continued)

http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/hacker-howto.html

The Hacker Attitude

Stanford Online Courses Delayed Indefinitely

Message from Stanford –

Dear Ajay Ohri,

We’re very excited for the forthcoming launch of Course Name. We’re sorry not to have gotten in touch lately – we’ve been busy generating lots of content, and the system is working really well. Unfortunately, there are still a few administrative i’s to dot and t’s to cross. We’re still hopeful that we’ll go live very soon – we hope not more than a few weeks late.

But since we don’t have a firm timeline right now, we’d rather leave this open and get back to you with a definitive date soon (rather than just promise you a date that’s far enough in the future that we can feel confident about it). We’ll let you know a firm date as soon as we possibly can.

We realize that some of you will have made plans around expecting the course to start in January, and we apologize for any difficulties that this delay may cause.

The good news is that the course is looking great, and we’re thrilled that over X,000 of you have signed up – we can’t wait for the course to start!

See you soon online!

Course Name Course Staff

Some interesting stats (and note the relative numbers)-

67,000 signups for Technology Entrepreneurship

58,000 signups for Cryptography

44,000 signups for Machine Learning

50,000 signups for Design and Analysis of Algorithms

Also see-

http://see.stanford.edu/

and

Check out these other courses:

Medicine

Civil Engineering

Electrical Engr.

Complex Systems

 

Jim Kobielus on 2012

Jim Kobielus revisits the predictions he made in 2011 (and a summary of 2010) , and makes some fresh ones for 2012. For technology watchers, this is an article by one of the gurus of enterprise software.

 

All of those trends predictions (at http://www.decisionstats.com/brief-interview-with-james-g-kobielus/ ) came true in 2011, and are in full force in 2012 as well.Here are my predictions for 2012, and the links to the 3 blogposts in which I made them last month:

 

The Year Ahead in Next Best Action? Here’s the Next Best Thing to a Crystal Ball!

  • The next-best-action market will continue to coalesce around core solution capabilities.
  • Data scientists will become the principal application developers for next best action.
  • Real-world experiments will become the new development paradigm in next best action.

The Year Ahead in Advanced Analytics? Advances on All Fronts!

  • Open-source platforms will expand their footprint in advanced analytics.
  • Data science centers of excellence will spring up everywhere.
  • Predictive analytics and interactive exploration will enter the mainstream BI user experience:

The Year Ahead In Big Data? Big, Cool, New Stuff Looms Large!

  • Enterprise Hadoop deployments will expand at a rapid clip.
  • In-memory analytics platforms will grow their footprint.
  • Graph databases will come into vogue.

 

And in an exclusive and generous favor for DecisionStats, Jim does some crystal gazing for the cloud computing field in 2012-

Cloud/SaaS EDWs will cross the enterprise-adoption inflection point. In 2012, cloud and software-as-a-service (SaaS) enterprise data warehouses (EDWs), offered on a public subscription basis, will gain greater enterprise adoption as a complement or outright replacement for appliance- and software-based EDWs. A growing number of established and startup EDW vendors will roll out cloud/SaaS “Big Data” offerings. Many of these will supplement and extend RDBMS and columnar technologies with Hadoop, key-value, graph, document, and other new database architectures.

About-

http://www.forrester.com/rb/analyst/james_kobielus

James G. Kobielus James G. Kobielus
Senior Analyst

RESEARCH FOCUS

 

James serves Business Process & Application Development & Delivery Professionals. He is a leading expert on data warehousing, predictive analytics, data mining, and complex event processing. In addition to his core coverage areas, James contributes to Forrester’s research in business intelligence, data integration, data quality, and master data management.

 

PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE

 

James has a long history in IT research and consulting and has worked for both vendors and research firms. Most recently, he was at Current Analysis, an IT research firm, where he was a principal analyst covering topics ranging from data warehousing to data integration and the Semantic Web. Prior to that position, James was a senior technical systems analyst at Exostar (a hosted supply chain management and eBusiness hub for the aerospace and defense industry). In this capacity, James was responsible for identifying and specifying product/service requirements for federated identity, PKI, and other products. He also worked as an analyst for the Burton Group and was previously employed by LCC International, DynCorp, ADEENA, International Center for Information Technologies, and the North American Telecommunications Association. He is both well versed and experienced in product and market assessments. James is a widely published business/technology author and has spoken at many industry events.

Contact –

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jameskobielus

SAS Institute Financials 2011

SAS Institute has release it’s financials for 2011 at http://www.sas.com/news/preleases/2011financials.html,

Revenue surged across all solution and industry categories. Software to detect fraud saw a triple-digit jump. Revenue from on-demand solutions grew almost 50 percent. Growth from analytics and information management solutions were double digit, as were gains from customer intelligence, retail, risk and supply chain solutions

AJAY- and as a private company it is quite nice that they are willing to share so much information every year.

The graphics are nice ( and the colors much better than in 2010) , but pie-charts- seriously dude there is no way to compare how much SAS revenue is shifting across geographies or even across industries. So my two cents is – lose the pie charts, and stick to line graphs please for the share of revenue by country /industry.

In 2011, SAS grew staff 9.2 percent and reinvested 24 percent of revenue into research and development

AJAY- So that means 654 million dollars spent in Research and Development.  I wonder if SAS has considered investing in much smaller startups (than it’s traditional strategy of doing all research in-house and completely acquiring a smaller company)

Even a small investment of say 5-10 million USD in open source , or even Phd level research projects could greatly increase the ROI on that.

That means

Analyzing a private company’s financials are much more fun than a public company, and I remember the words of my finance professor ( “dig , dig”) to compare 2011 results with 2010 results.

http://www.sas.com/news/preleases/2010financials.html

The percentage invested in R and D is exactly the same (24%) and the percentages of revenue earned from each geography is exactly the same . So even though revenue growth increased from 5.2 % to 9% in 2011, both the geographic spread of revenues and share  R&D costs remained EXACTLY the same.

The Americas accounted for 46 percent of total revenue; Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) 42 percent; and Asia Pacific 12 percent.

Overall, I think SAS remains a 35% market share (despite all that noise from IBM, SAS clones, open source) because they are good at providing solutions customized for industries (instead of just software products), the market for analytics is not saturated (it seems to be growing faster than 12% or is it) , and its ability to attract and retain the best analytical talent (which in a non -American tradition for a software company means no stock options, job security, and great benefits- SAS remains almost Japanese in HR practices).

In 2010, SAS grew staff by 2.4 percent, in 2011 SAS grew staff by 9 percent.

But I liked the directional statement made here-and I think that design interfaces, algorithmic and computational efficiencies should increase analytical time, time to think on business and reduce data management time further!

“What would you do with the extra time if your code ran in two minutes instead of five hours?” Goodnight challenged.

Adding / to robots. text again

So I tried to move without a search engine , and only social sharing, but for a small blog like mine, that means almost 75% of traffic comes via search engines.
Maybe the ratio of traffic from search to social will change in the future,

I have now enough data to conclude search is the ONLY statistically significant driver of traffic ( for a small blog)
If you are a blogger you should definitely try and give the tools at Google Webmaster a go,

eg

 

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/googlebot-fetch

URL Googlebot type Fetch Status Fetch date
https://decisionstats.com/ Web Denied by robots.txt 1/19/12 8:25 PM
https://decisionstats.com/ Web Success URL and linked pages submitted to index 12/27/11 9:55 PM

 

Also from Google Analytics, I see that denying search traffic doesnot increase direct/ referral traffic in any meaningful way.

So my hypothesis that some direct traffic was mis-counted as search traffic due to Chrome, toolbar search – well the hypothesis was wrong 🙂

Also Google seems to drop url quite quickly (within 18 hours) and I will test the rebound in SERPs in a few hours.  I was using meta tags, blocked using robots.txt, and removal via webmasters ( a combination of the three may have helped)

To my surprise search traffic declined to 5-10, but it did not become 0. I wonder why that happens (I even got a few Google queries per day) and I was blocking the “/” fron robots.txt.

 

Net Net- The numbers below show- as of now , in a non SOPA, non Social world, Search Engines remain the webmasters only true friend (till they come up with another panda or whatever update 😉 )