Traps to avoid if you are a grey hat hacker

  1. Bait and Switch – used to plant embedded malware or logging systems the action (generally illegal) of advertising goods which are an apparent bargain, with the intention of substituting inferior or more expensive goods. It can be avoided by periodically changing your hardware and software with a reliance for open source and open market and of course by avoiding things that are too good to be true.
  2. The Honey Trap
    a stratagem in which an attractive person entices another person into revealing information or doing something unwise. This one got Julian Assange
  3. The Honey Pot  – a honeypot is a trap set to detect, deflect, or, in some manner, counteract attempts at unauthorized use of information systems. Generally, a honeypot consists of a computer, data, or a network site that appears to be part of a network, but is actually isolated and monitored, and which seems to contain information or a resource of value to attackers. This is similar to the police baiting a criminal and then conducting undercover surveillance. This one got Sabu.
  4. The Tax Trap- This one got Al Capone. Since there is no evidence against your cyber activities they put you in tax court based on the mismatch of your income and expenditure. It can be avoided by creating appropriate legal mechanisms including corporations.
  5. The Informer Trap– God can protect you against your enemies but not your friends. This can be avoided by delineating the personal private and professional life of your activities in different compartments, hardware and virtual machines including your own personality and brain. Reveal you true identity to boast and you will end up a Reservoir Dog

Screenshot from 2015-08-18 10:55:41

Is R going to be better than Python for Big Data Analytics and Data Science? #rstats #python

My last articles seems to have touched a nerve or two judging by the 2000 views I got in a single day on a Sunday ( and India’s national Independence Day / and  V-J Day). Here I am simply reproducing the unedited and very interesting comments I got with an interesting R package.


On Google Plus, there is a vibrant community for R and Statistics. Yes Google plus exists still 😉 The following excellent comment makes you think.

This is pretty much a ho-hum topic with me. I don’t find this article very convincing. If you like Python, fine! Use Python. The problem I have with Python is that it is an interpreted language. Anything written in pure Python is going to take a long time to run on a big data set. Sure, there are Python packages for data analysis that run quickly, but you either have to depend on what someone else provides or develop your own package in compiled code.

I’ve found most software apps written specifically for “big data” to be very limited: a lot of them begin and end at N/N (pretty old hat now and inferior to a number of other methods for many analyses). If you can’t look under the hood and see what goes on in an analysis package, well, then good luck to you if you to use it, but don’t expect me to.

So far I’ve found that R works well for the large data sets I work with. (I’ll leave aside the issue of graphics for now; I have yet to see anything else that can hold a candle to R in that regard.) If the base packages that come with R can’t do a particular task I’ll first search among the over 5,000 packages currently available on CRAN. If that doesn’t work I’ll send a request to the R help list server. If that doesn’t work I’ll write my own routine in C or C# (I prefer the latter). BTW, if you are in the data analysis game you need to know enough to be able to do your own numerical analysis programming, say at the level of Numerical Recipes. Otherwise you are going to be overly dependent on someone else to provide software for you.

I’m not writing this to persuade anyone to pick one over the other. It’s just that there are a lot of possible choices out there — it’s not just R vs Python. And I’m just tired of these endless debates that go nowhere. As we say in the software engineering world: don’t try to convince the other person that your text editor/IDE/programming language is better than theirs.

Anthony the creator or RHadoop was kind enough to not only write a comment here but also provide a tech solution AND throw a challenge at all pythonistas.

The lack of activity on rmr2 reflects maturity of the package and a shift away from Hadoop mapreduce toward spark. Please check the dplyr.spark package on github. It’s the easiest way to run spark bar none, including python, in its author very biased opinion. Example: find the best and worst flight by arrival delay on each day:

group_by(flights, year, month, day) %>%
select(flight, arr_delay) %>%
filter(arr_delay == min(arr_delay) || arr_delay == max(arr_delay))

Runs on spark, scales to whatever your cluster can store. Please show me the equivalent in any other language, python included. I am waiting.

and finally after all that violence and doubletalk ( as Dire Straits sang in the Walk of Life)  the R package that will beat all packages on Big Data —-(apparently)

download spark and build it as follows

cd <spark root>
build/mvn -Pyarn -Phadoop-2.4 -Dhadoop.version=2.4.0 -DskipTests -Phive -Phive-thriftserver clean package

Then start the thift service.

install.packages(c("RJDBC", "dplyr", "DBI", "devtools"))

Indirectly RJDBC needs rJava. Make sure that you have rJava working with:




spark.src = src_SparkSQL(localhost, 10000)



Is Python going to be better than R for Big Data Analytics and Data Science? #rstats #python

Uptil now the R ecosystem of package developers has mostly shrugged away the Big Data question. In   a fascinating insight Hadley Wickham said this in a recent interview- shockingly it mimicks the FUD you know who has been accused of ( source

5. How do you respond when you hear the phrase ‘big data’? Big data is extremely overhyped and not terribly well defined. Many people think they have big data, when they actually don’t.

I think there are two particularly important transition points:

* From in-memory to disk. If your data fits in memory, it’s small data. And these days you can get 1 TB of ram, so even small data is big!

* From one computer to many computers.

R is a fantastic environment for the rapid exploration of in-memory data, but there’s no elegant way to scale it to much larger datasets. Hadoop works well when you have thousands of computers, but is incredible slow on just one machine. Fortunately, I don’t think one system needs to solve all big data problems.

To me there are three main classes of problem:

1. Big data problems that are actually small data problems, once you have the right subset/sample/summary.

2. Big data problems that are actually lots and lots of small data problems

3. Finally, there are irretrievably big problems where you do need all the data, perhaps because you fitting a complex model. An example of this type of problem is recommender systems

Ajay- One of the reasons of non development of R Big Data packages is- it takes money. The private sector in R ecosystem is a duopoly ( Revolution Analytics ( acquired by Microsoft) and RStudio (created by Microsoft Alum JJ Allaire). Since RStudio actively tries as a company to NOT step into areas Revolution Analytics works in- it has not ventured into Big Data in my opinion for strategic reasons.

Revolution Analytics project on RHadoop is actually just one consultant working on it here and it has not been updated since six months

We interviewed the creator of R Hadoop here

However Python developers have been trying to actually develop systems for Big Data actively. The Hadoop ecosystem and the Python ecosystem are much more FOSS friendly even in enterprise solutions.

This is where Python is innovating over R in Big Data-

  • Blaze: Translates NumPy/Pandas-like syntax to systems like databases.

    Blaze presents a pleasant and familiar interface to us regardless of what computational solution or database we use. It mediates our interaction with files, data structures, and databases, optimizing and translating our query as appropriate to provide a smooth and interactive session.

  • Odo: Migrates data between formats.

    Odo moves data between formats (CSV, JSON, databases) and locations (local, remote, HDFS) efficiently and robustly with a dead-simple interface by leveraging a sophisticated and extensible network of conversions.

    odo takes two arguments, a target and a source for a data transfer.

    >>> from odo import odo
    >>> odo(source, target)  # load source into target 
  • Dask.array: Multi-core / on-disk NumPy arrays

    Dask.arrays provide blocked algorithms on top of NumPy to handle larger-than-memory arrays and to leverage multiple cores. They are a drop-in replacement for a commonly used subset of NumPy algorithms.

  • DyND: In-memory dynamic arrays

    DyND is a dynamic ND-array library like NumPy. It supports variable length strings, ragged arrays, and GPUs. It is a standalone C++ codebase with Python bindings. Generally it is more extensible than NumPy but also less mature.

    The core DyND developer team consists of Mark Wiebe and Irwin Zaid. Much of the funding that made this project possible came through Continuum Analytics and DARPA-BAA-12-38, part of XDATA.

    LibDyND, a component of the Blaze project, is a C++ library for dynamic, multidimensional arrays. It is inspired by NumPy, the Python array programming library at the core of the scientific Python stack, but tries to address a number of obstacles encountered by some of its users. Examples of this are support for variable-sized string and ragged array types. The library is in a preview development state, and can be thought of as a sandbox where features are being tried and tweaked to gain experience with them.

    C++ is a first-class target of the library, the intent is that all its features should be easily usable in the language. This has many benefits, such as that development within LibDyND using its own components is more natural than in a library designed primarily for embedding in another language.

    This library is being actively developed together with its Python bindings,

On a single machine dask increases the scale of comfortable data from fits-in-memory to fits-on-diskby intelligently streaming data from disk and by leveraging all the cores of a modern CPU.

Users interact with dask either by making graphs directly or through the dask collections which provide larger-than-memory counterparts to existing popular libraries:

  • dask.array = numpy + threading
  • dask.bag = map, filter, toolz + multiprocessing
  • dask.dataframe = pandas + threading

Dask primarily targets parallel computations that run on a single machine. It integrates nicely with the existing PyData ecosystem and is trivial to setup and use:

conda install dask
pip install dask

When open source fights- closed source wins. When the Jedi fight the Sith Lords will win

So will R people rise to the Big Data challenge or will they bury their heads in sands like an ostrich or a kiwi. Will Python people learn from R design philosophies and try and incorporate more of it without redesigning the wheel

Converting code from one language to another automatically?

How I wish there was some kind of automated conversion tool – that would convert a CRAN R package into a standard Python package which is pip installable

Machine learning for more machine learning anyone?

Psychology for Data Miners

Over the past few years I have chosen a few tools primarily driven from Psychology to help me manage complex scenarios, difficult clients and problematic questions. The reason for this is quite simple, data science especially predictive analytics is trying to mimic or predict human behavior which is inherently irrational and driven by impulse or need fulfillment. However when human behavior is aggregated as well as segregated we can predict it but for short periods of time after which predictive models decay.

  1. Johari’s Window – source 

philosopher Charles Handy calls this concept the Johari House with four rooms. Room 1 is the part of ourselves that we see and others see. Room 2 is the aspects that others see but we are not aware of. Room 4 is the most mysterious room in that the unconscious or subconscious part of us is seen by neither ourselves nor others. Room 3 is our private space, which we know but keep from others.

Open or Arena: Adjectives that are selected by both the participant and his or her peers are placed into the Open or Arenaquadrant. This quadrant represents traits of the subjects that both they and their peers are aware of.

Hidden or Façade: Adjectives selected only by subjects, but not by any of their peers, are placed into the Hidden or Façadequadrant, representing information about them their peers are unaware of. It is then up to the subject to disclose this information or not.

Blind : Adjectives that are not selected by subjects but only by their peers are placed into the Blind Spot quadrant. These represent information that the subject is not aware of, but others are, and they can decide whether and how to inform the individual about these “blind spots“.

Unknown: Adjectives that were not selected by either subjects or their peers remain in the Unknown quadrant, representing the participant’s behaviors or motives that were not recognized by anyone participating.


2) Hierarchy of Needs Source-

Maslow used the terms “physiological”, “safety”, “belongingness” and “love”, “esteem”, “self-actualization”, and “self-transcendence” to describe the pattern that human motivations generally move through.

This helps me understand what a client wants with a particular project and what an employee wants when he asks for pay /stock options etc

3) Agency – Owner conflict source-

The principal–agent problem (also known as agency dilemma or theory of agency) occurs when one person or entity (the “agent“) is able to make decisions on behalf of, or that impact, another person or entity: the “principal“. The dilemma exists because sometimes the agent is motivated to act in his own best interests rather than those of the principal. The agent-principal relationship is a useful analytic tool in political science and economics, but may also apply to other areas.

Common examples of this relationship include corporate management (agent) and shareholders (principal), or politicians (agent) and voters (principal).[1] For another example, consider a dental patient (the principal) wondering whether his dentist (the agent) is recommending expensive treatment because it is truly necessary for the patient’s dental health, or because it will generate income for the dentist.

4) Culture of an organization -It changes with time. This graph helps me understand

5) Cognitive Biases- why do rational people make irrational choices. Aha! Cognitive Biases Source-


Cognitive biases are tendencies to think in certain ways that can lead to systematic deviations from a standard of rationality or good judgment, and are often studied in psychology and behavioral economics.

Among the “cold” biases,

  • some involve a decision or judgement being affected by irrelevant information (for example the framing effect where the same problem receives different responses depending on how it is described; or the distinction bias where choices presented together have different outcomes than those presented separately)
  • others give excessive weight to an unimportant but salient feature of the problem (e.g., anchoring)

6) Logical Fallacies- To quickly separate signal from human generated noise or arguments, I wish there was a machine learning algorithm to detect logical fallacies  in NLTP.

7) Motivation (from Sanskrit)  source-

There are four ways of making someone to do a task, stated as “Saam, Daam, Dand & Bhed”. This sutra by Acharya Chanakya is used worldwide. why? It works and is highly practical. It means:

  • Saam: to advice and ask
  • Daam: to offer and buy
  • Dand: to punish
  • Bhed: exploiting the secrets


Apart from these I also use some seven strategy models for actually understanding business . I learnt in Business School- they are here in quasi -graphical easy to understand format





Review Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

I love Mr Tom Cruise sense of humour. Shall we just call it his chutzpah. From the heavy Ving Rhames trying to catch the British rose in the wind, to the very dry raspy voice of the superb villian (perhaps the best) and Benji / Scotty doing one turn. One is only disappointed by the Hurt Locker /Avenger Guy/ Brett Ranner. I mean seriously dude, didnt you hear what they talked about you in Birdman.

And the scenes are lovely. But I wish John Woo directed this one too. Writing was much better this time.

Alec Baldwin reminds us why we love twinkling Irish eyes in our actors.

Go see this one people.

Hackeristan is the new rogue nation and when hackers unite despotic governments shall tremble.



Google Makes Alphabet: World waits for what is next

Apparently the boss of all search engines has a new boss

Will Alphabet lead to value unlocking for financial reasons?

Is it just a cover for anti-trust investigations?

What is common between search and Youtube anyway?

Did Larry’s personal life and wife have something to do with this?

What X is Brin upto?

So many questions, so much time.

Why R data scientists should try out Python ? #rstats #python

At the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes—an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep nonsense.
An excerpt from my book in progress ( Python for R Users – Wiley 2016)

Why Python for R Users?

To the memory constrained user in R who is neither Hadley Wickham nor Brian Ripley genius like in coding, and who needs a fast open source solution for statistical computing- Python comes with batteries attached.

With Pandas and Seaborn the last excuse of the I can only code for statistics in R and SAS will fall apart. Yes Python is as much open source and free as R. To disavow Python for statistical computing smacks of hypocritical ideology and department level university politics than any basis grounded in statistics.

How is Python different from R?

It’s not better , it’s not worse . It is just different. While almost the whole of R’s ecosystem of packages is dedicated to data analysis , python is much more powerful general purpose language. In that lies both the power and the confusion to the R user coming to Python.
For even a simple function like mean, Python needs to import a package (numpy).  There is no Base , Graphics or Utils that come with Ipython or Python or Cython which immediately helps the new user with functions.

The language syntax is confusing for transition.

  • In R  the index for an object starts with 1 while in Python the index for an object’s first member is 0.

so if

> a=c("Ajay","Vijay")
> a[1]
[1] "Ajay"

in R

while in Python it will be

In [1]: a=[“Ajay”,”Vijay”]

In [2]: a[0]
Out[2]: ‘Ajay’

  • Loading packages in R is done with library(“FUNpackage”) while in Python it can be anything like

import “FUNPackage” as fun, 


import “FUNPackage”


import onefunctiononly from FUNPackage

  • R depends mostly on functions passing parameters and objects within parenthesis, recent brouhaha over magrittr’s pipe operator not withstanding. Python mostly passes parameters using the dot notation .

If age is a list of numbers then for finding the mean of the numbers in age

mean(age) in R while age.mean() in Python

  • HELP – when you are searching for help in R or Python.  

In R a single question mark denotes help  as searched from loaded packages while ??keyword would search for that keyword in all the packages of R included in the documentation (some of them are in Github universe.

Those are mostly searched by Google > Stack Overflow > Github>R-bloggers.

In Python the help for a particular keyword would be keyword.?

  • Community Python does have a Python Planet but it lacks the appeal of R-Bloggers, and perhaps statistical computing for Python needs a seperate blog aggregator. Also  Pandas doesnot have flashmobs on StackOverflow like R did.
  • The IDE and GUI in R and Python are very different to R as well.

While R has established and distinct GUI like Deducer ( data visualization) , Rattle ( Data Mining) and R Commander ( extensible GUI for statistics, and others) it has multiple IDE with the current champion the private company established by a Microsoft alumnus, RStudio.

Python has IDE like Spyder and IDLE and a recent fork of Ace Editor called Rodeo ( which thus mimics RStudio ‘s inspired by Ace) , but none of them come close the market share in the developer world in statistical computing  that RStudio has ( note I am not going to non statistical applications of either r or python in this book).

Ipython does have a huge appeal but it’s not as easy an IDE as RStudio for non hardcore developers.

PURPOSE– Here I am comparing R and Python solely for the monetary rich but idealogically poor field of business analytics which consumes huge data and generates huge savings for businesses in the world as noted by the annual ever increasing of the non open source egalatarian employee friendly company SAS Institute (which is just a pity because I am sure had SAS Institute been founded in 2006 than in 1976 it’s incredibly awesome founders would have open sourced atleast a few parts of its rather huge offerings).

Why should a R user then learn Pandas/ Python?

This is because a professional data scientsist should hedge his career by not depending on just one statistical computing language. The ease at which a person can learn a new language does decrease with age and it’s best to base your career on more than R. SAS language did lead the world for four decades but in a fast changing world it is best not to bet your mortgage that R skills are all you need for statistical computing in a multi decade career.

Will this lead to confusion?
No. Both R and Python are open source and object oriented languages. Learning both can only help your career in the world of data science and business analytics.
Do you want to be the master of your own destiny or do you want to depend on Hadley Wickham or RStudio or Revolution Analytics (Microsoft) to make tools for you?
Learn Python after you have learnt R and you will have an unbeatable resume.
Why am I writing about Python AFTER writing two books on R?
I come from a very poor country, I think open access to statistical computing can help my people and the world, and I am suspicious of any one that says that one software can solve ALL the problems of business analytics
A few sample workflow in analytics for R users but written in iPython-
Adult Dataset
Diamonds Dataset