Global Warfare on Google Plus

Global Warfare is one of the latest games on Google Plus. There are lots of similarities between this game and Evony at http://evony.com

Global Warfare is made by Kabam https://www.kabam.com/games/global-warfare which is making a total of 3 games for Google Plus (out of 18) and it has Google Ventures as a strategic investor as well (and a member on the board). Google is clearly wanting to bet on online gaming with its earlier strategic investment in Zynga as well. It also acquired http://www.labpixies.com/  (which makes the game Sudoko Puzzles and Flood It but it has more games in reserve as can be seen at https://market.android.com/search?q=labpixies, so clearly G+ is being selective on Games directory at https://plus.google.com/games/directory)

With these gaming companies and others like http://www.digitalchocolate.com/about/ and http://www.rovio.com/index.php?page=company and http://www.popcap.com/ – well they are all there on G+

is gaming the ace in hand in G+ plans for Facebook- time will tell.

Evony of course was a very good game, as it was also very similar (allegedly) to Civilization, and though its advertising campaign of semi clad characters draws flak, it got the worlds attention and recall. While Evony was situated in medieval world,  Global Warfare is a modern warfare equivalent.

Features in Global Warfare-

  • Alliances,
  • multiple player online gaming,
  • social sharing and rewards,
  • in game purchases,
  •  persistent world

Some drawbacks-

  • Slight clutter in gaming space (and lack of nice fonts!)
  • Lack of help forums (or easy availability)
  • Lack of in game search for searching or navigating alliances
Overall- a nice addition to the G+ family of games

 

Games on Google Plus get- Faster, Higher, Stronger

I am spending some time and some money on two games on Google Plus. One is Crime City at https://plus.google.com/games/865772480172 which I talk about in this post

http://www.decisionstats.com/google-plus-games-crime-city-or-fun-with-funzio-on-g/

and Global Warfare  https://plus.google.com/games/216622099218 (which is similar to Evony of the bad ads fame, and I will write on that in another post)

But the total number of games at Google Plus is increasingly and quietly getting better. It seems there is a distinct preference for existing blockbuster games , from both Zynga and non Zynga sources Even though Google is an investor in  Zynga, it clearly wants Google plus to avoid being so dependent on Zynga as Facebook clearly is. Continue reading “Games on Google Plus get- Faster, Higher, Stronger”

Interview Rapid-I -Ingo Mierswa and Simon Fischer

Here is an interview with Dr Ingo Mierswa , CEO of Rapid -I and Dr Simon Fischer, Head R&D. Rapid-I makes the very popular software Rapid Miner – perhaps one of the earliest leading open source software in business analytics and business intelligence. It is quite easy to use, deploy and with it’s extensions and innovations (including compatibility with R )has continued to grow tremendously through the years.

In an extensive interview Ingo and Simon talk about algorithms marketplace, extensions , big data analytics, hadoop, mobile computing and use of the graphical user interface in analytics.

Special Thanks to Nadja from Rapid I communication team for helping coordinate this interview.( Statuary Blogging Disclosure- Rapid I is a marketing partner with Decisionstats as per the terms in https://decisionstats.com/privacy-3/)

Ajay- Describe your background in science. What are the key lessons that you have learnt while as scientific researcher and what advice would you give to new students today.

Ingo: My time as researcher really was a great experience which has influenced me a lot. I have worked at the AI lab of Prof. Dr. Katharina Morik, one of the persons who brought machine learning and data mining to Europe. Katharina always believed in what we are doing, encouraged us and gave us the space for trying out new things. Funnily enough, I never managed to use my own scientific results in any real-life project so far but I consider this as a quite common gap between science and the “real world”. At Rapid-I, however, we are still heavily connected to the scientific world and try to combine the best of both worlds: solving existing problems with leading-edge technologies.

Simon: In fact, during my academic career I have not worked in the field of data mining at all. I worked on a field some of my colleagues would probably even consider boring, and that is theoretical computer science. To be precise, my research was in the intersection of game theory and network theory. During that time, I have learnt a lot of exciting things, none of which had any business use. Still, I consider that a very valuable experience. When we at Rapid-I hire people coming to us right after graduating, I don’t care whether they know the latest technology with a fancy three-letter acronym – that will be forgotten more quickly than it came. What matters is the way you approach new problems and challenges. And that is also my recommendation to new students: work on whatever you like, as long as you are passionate about it and it brings you forward.

Ajay-  How is the Rapid Miner Extensions marketplace moving along. Do you think there is a scope for people to say create algorithms in a platform like R , and then offer that algorithm as an app for sale just like iTunes or Android apps.

 Simon: Well, of course it is not going to be exactly like iTunes or Android apps are, because of the more business-orientated character. But in fact there is a scope for that, yes. We have talked to several developers, e.g., at our user conference RCOMM, and several people would be interested in such an opportunity. Companies using data mining software need supported software packages, not just something they downloaded from some anonymous server, and that is only possible through a platform like the new Marketplace. Besides that, the marketplace will not only host commercial extensions. It is also meant to be a platform for all the developers that want to publish their extensions to a broader community and make them accessible in a comfortable way. Of course they could just place them on their personal Web pages, but who would find them there? From the Marketplace, they are installable with a single click.

Ingo: What I like most about the new Rapid-I Marketplace is the fact that people can now get something back for their efforts. Developing a new algorithm is a lot of work, in some cases even more that developing a nice app for your mobile phone. It is completely accepted that people buy apps from a store for a couple of Dollars and I foresee the same for sharing and selling algorithms instead of apps. Right now, people can already share algorithms and extensions for free, one of the next versions will also support selling of those contributions. Let’s see what’s happening next, maybe we will add the option to sell complete RapidMiner workflows or even some data pools…

Ajay- What are the recent features in Rapid Miner that support cloud computing, mobile computing and tablets. How do you think the landscape for Big Data (over 1 Tb ) is changing and how is Rapid Miner adapting to it.

Simon: These are areas we are very active in. For instance, we have an In-Database-Mining Extension that allows the user to run their modelling algorithms directly inside the database, without ever loading the data into memory. Using analytic databases like Vectorwise or Infobright, this technology can really boost performance. Our data mining server, RapidAnalytics, already offers functionality to send analysis processes into the cloud. In addition to that, we are currently preparing a research project dealing with data mining in the cloud. A second project is targeted towards the other aspect you mention: the use of mobile devices. This is certainly a growing market, of course not for designing and running analyses, but for inspecting reports and results. But even that is tricky: When you have a large screen you can display fancy and comprehensive interactive dashboards with drill downs and the like. On a mobile device, that does not work, so you must bring your reports and visualizations very much to the point. And this is precisely what data mining can do – and what is hard to do for classical BI.

Ingo: Then there is Radoop, which you may have heard of. It uses the Apache Hadoop framework for large-scale distributed computing to execute RapidMiner processes in the cloud. Radoop has been presented at this year’s RCOMM and people are really excited about the combination of RapidMiner with Hadoop and the scalability this brings.

 Ajay- Describe the Rapid Miner analytics certification program and what steps are you taking to partner with academic universities.

Ingo: The Rapid-I Certification Program was created to recognize professional users of RapidMiner or RapidAnalytics. The idea is that certified users have demonstrated a deep understanding of the data analysis software solutions provided by Rapid-I and how they are used in data analysis projects. Taking part in the Rapid-I Certification Program offers a lot of benefits for IT professionals as well as for employers: professionals can demonstrate their skills and employers can make sure that they hire qualified professionals. We started our certification program only about 6 months ago and until now about 100 professionals have been certified so far.

Simon: During our annual user conference, the RCOMM, we have plenty of opportunities to talk to people from academia. We’re also present at other conferences, e.g. at ECML/PKDD, and we are sponsoring data mining challenges and grants. We maintain strong ties with several universities all over Europe and the world, which is something that I would not want to miss. We are also cooperating with institutes like the ITB in Dublin during their training programmes, e.g. by giving lectures, etc. Also, we are leading or participating in several national or EU-funded research projects, so we are still close to academia. And we offer an academic discount on all our products 🙂

Ajay- Describe the global efforts in making Rapid Miner a truly international software including spread of developers, clients and employees.

Simon: Our clients already are very international. We have a partner network in America, Asia, and Australia, and, while I am responding to these questions, we have a training course in the US. Developers working on the core of RapidMiner and RapidAnalytics, however, are likely to stay in Germany for the foreseeable future. We need specialists for that, and it would be pointless to spread the development team over the globe. That is also owed to the agile philosophy that we are following.

Ingo: Simon is right, Rapid-I already is acting on an international level. Rapid-I now has more than 300 customers from 39 countries in the world which is a great result for a young company like ours. We are of course very strong in Germany and also the rest of Europe, but also concentrate on more countries by means of our very successful partner network. Rapid-I continues to build this partner network and to recruit dynamic and knowledgeable partners and in the future. However, extending and acting globally is definitely part of our strategic roadmap.

Biography

Dr. Ingo Mierswa is working as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Rapid-I. He has several years of experience in project management, human resources management, consulting, and leadership including eight years of coordinating and leading the multi-national RapidMiner developer team with about 30 developers and contributors world-wide. He wrote his Phd titled “Non-Convex and Multi-Objective Optimization for Numerical Feature Engineering and Data Mining” at the University of Dortmund under the supervision of Prof. Morik.

Dr. Simon Fischer is heading the research & development at Rapid-I. His interests include game theory and networks, the theory of evolutionary algorithms (e.g. on the Ising model), and theoretical and practical aspects of data mining. He wrote his PhD in Aachen where he worked in the project “Design and Analysis of Self-Regulating Protocols for Spectrum Assignment” within the excellence cluster UMIC. Before, he was working on the vtraffic project within the DFG Programme 1126 “Algorithms for large and complex networks”.

http://rapid-i.com/content/view/181/190/ tells you more on the various types of Rapid Miner licensing for enterprise, individual and developer versions.

(Note from Ajay- to receive an early edition invite to Radoop, click here http://radoop.eu/z1sxe)

 

Review of Google Plus

After resisting for two weeks I have decided to write a Google Plus review. This includes both the changed designed parameters, the invite growth features and all of the main sub-items and activities you can do in the G+  Stream, Share, Hang Out, Pictures, Circles.

Since I have 2500 people in my circles and I am in 91 circles

To keep it simple – I have noted the following 6 main sub-points.

1) Content Dissemination-

 

  • Sharing Blog Articles
  • Micro-Blogging
  • Sharing Pictures

2) Online Professional Networking  and 3) Online Personal Socializing

4) Spam Control / Malware /Phishing/Porn Protection

5) Time Cost versus Networking Benefit

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

1) Content Dissemination-

  • Sharing Blog Articles

 

Sharing is as simple as Facebook but the design makes it simpler.

Note G+ uses lower number of colors, bigger fonts, slightly bigger icons to reduce the appearance of clutter.

Contrast this

with this-

 

Interesting to see that G+ has four types of media to share- besides writing the status/micro-blog (unfettered by 140 characters). Note these show icons only with hover text to tell you what the icon stands for.

Photo,Video,URL,Location (which seems to be Twitter like in every share)

Facebook has 5 types of Sharing and note the slightly different order as well the fact that both icon and text make it slightly more cluttered- Status (which is redundant clearly ),Photo,Link,Video,Question

G+ thus lacks polls /questions features. It is much easier to share content on Facebook automatically as of now- but for G+ you need to share the URL privately though. There exist G+ meme-s already thanks to re-sharing in G+ plus which seems to be inspired by Tumblr (?).

In addition Google has made your Google Profile the number one SERP for searching your name, so there seem clear tied in benefits of SEO with content disseminated here.

G+ has sharing in circles whereas Facebook has only Everyone, Friends, Friends of Friends ,Customize.  This makes G+ interface slightly better in tweaking the spread of content to targeted audience esp by Bloggers.

  • For sharing Photos– G+ goes in for a whole new separate tab (one out of four) whereas Facebook treats photo sharing less prominently.
  • Google has lesser white space between photos, (The Facebook way used to be just snap photo by iPhone and send by email to auto-post), and the privacy in sharing photos is much better in G+ as the dropdowns in Facebook are not as granular and neither as nifty in icon design.
  •  
  • Also I like the hover and photo grows bigger feature and the auto import from Picassa (but I would like to auto-import into G+ from Flickr just as I can do in Facebook)
  • Google Plus also has a much more detailed version for sharing videos than photos as compared to Facebook  -upload Photo options  versus
  • G+ has much more focus on auto-sharing from mobiles

 

 

 

2) Online Professional Networking  and 3) Online Personal Socializing Organizing Contacts in Google Plus and seperate privacy controls make it easier to customize sharing without getting too complex. You can make as many circles and drag and drop very easily instead of manually clicking a dropdown box. Effectively speaking Facebook has just 4 kinds of circles and it does not distinguish between various types of friends which is great from philosophical point of view but not so goodn enforcing separateness between professional and personal networks. Note Facebook privacy settings are overwhelming despite the groovy data viz

4) Spam Control / Malware /Phishing/Porn Protection 

Spam Control in Facebook versus in Google Plus- note the different options in Google Plus (including the ability to NOT reshare). I am not aware of more enhanced protection than the ones available for Gmail already. Spam is what really killed off a lot many social networks and the ability to control or reduce spam will be a critical design choice

5) Time Cost versus Networking Benefit

Linkedin has the lowest cost in time spent and networking done. If G+ adds a resume section for jobs, recruiters, and adds in Zynga games, the benefit from G+ will expand. As of now G+ is a minimal social network with minimalism as design ethos.

(Zynga would do well to partner with G+)

 

RStudio 3- Making R as simple as possible but no simpler

From the nice shiny blog at http://blog.rstudio.org/, a shiny new upgraded software (and I used the Cobalt theme)–this is nice!

awesome coding!!!

 

http://www.rstudio.org/download/

Download RStudio v0.94

Diagram desktop

If you run R on your desktop:

Download RStudio Desktop

OR

Diagram server

If you run R on a Linux server and want to enable users to remotely access RStudio using a web browser:

Download RStudio Server

 

RStudio v0.94 — Release Notes

June 15th, 2011

 

New Features and Enhancements

Source Editor and Console

  • Run code:
    • Run all lines in source file
    • Run to current line
    • Run from current line
    • Redefine current function
    • Re-run previous region
    • Code is now run line-by-line in the console
  • Brace, paren, and quote matching
  • Improved cursor placement after newlines
  • Support for regex find and replace
  • Optional syntax highlighting for console input
  • Press F1 for help on current selection
  • Function navigation / jump to function
  • Column and line number display
  • Manually set/switch document type
  • New themes: Solarized and Solarized Dark

Plots

  • Improved image export:
    • Formats: PNG, JPEG, TIFF, SVG, BMP, Metafile, and Postscript
    • Dynamic resize with preview
    • Option to maintain aspect ratio when resizing
    • Copy to clipboard as bitmap or metafile
  • Improved PDF export:
    • Specify custom sizes
    • Preview before exporting
  • Remove individual plots from history
  • Resizable plot zoom window

History

  • History tab synced to loaded .Rhistory file
  • New commands:
    • Load and save history
    • Remove individual items from history
    • Clear all history
  • New options:
    • Load history from working directory or global history file
    • Save history always or only when saving .RData
    • Remove duplicate entries in history
  • Shortcut keys for inserting into console or source

Packages

  • Check for package updates
  • Filter displayed packages
  • Install multiple packages
  • Remove packages
  • New options:
    • Install from repository or local archive file
    • Target library
    • Install dependencies

Miscellaneous

  • Find text within help topic
  • Sort file listing by name, type, size, or modified
  • Set working directory based on source file, files pane, or browsed for directory.
  • Console titlebar button to view current working directory in files pane
  • Source file menu command
  • Replace space and dash with dot (.) in import dataset generated variable names
  • Add decimal separator preference for import dataset
  • Added .tar.gz (Linux) and .zip (Windows) distributions for non-admin installs
  • Read /etc/paths.d on OS X to ensure RStudio has the same path as terminal sessions do
  • Added manifest to rsession.exe to prevent unwanted program files and registry virtualization

Server

  • Break PAM auth into its own binary for improved compatibility with 3rd party PAM authorization modules.
  • Ensure that AppArmor profile is enforced even after reboot
  • Ability to add custom LD library path for all sessions
  • Improved R discovery:
    • Use which R then fallback to scanning for R script
    • Run R discovery unconfined then switch into restricted profile
  • Default to uncompressed save.image output if the administrator or user hasn’t specified their own options (improved suspend/resume performance)
  • Ensure all running sessions are automatically updated during server version upgrade
  • Added verify-installation command to rstudio-server utility for easily capturing configuration and startup related errors

 

Bug Fixes

Source Editor

  • Undo to unedited state clears now dirty bit
  • Extract function now captures free variables used on lhs
  • Selected variable highlight now visible in all themes
  • Syncing to source file updates made outside of RStudio now happens immediately at startup and does not cause a scroll to the bottom of the document.
  • Fixed various issues related to copying and pasting into word processors
  • Fixed incorrect syntax highlighting issues in .Rd files
  • Make sure font size for printed source files matches current editor setting
  • Eliminate conflict with Ctrl+F shortcut key on OS X
  • Zoomed Google Chrome browser no longer causes cursor position to be off
  • Don’t prevent opening of unknown file types in the editor

Console

  • Fixed sporadic missing underscores (and other bottom clipping of text) in console
  • Make sure console history is never displayed offscreen
  • Page Up and Page Down now work properly in the console
  • Substantially improved console performance for both rapid output and large quantities of output

Miscellaneous

  • Install successfully on Windows with special characters in home directory name
  • make install more tolerant of configurations where it can’t write into /usr/share
  • Eliminate spurious stderr output in forked children of multicore package
  • Ensure that file modified times always update in the files pane after a save
  • Always default to installing packages into first writeable path of .libPaths()
  • Ensure that LaTeX log files are always preserved after compilePdf
  • Fix conflicts with zap function from epicalc package
  • Eliminate shortcut key conflicts with Ubuntu desktop workspace switching shortcuts
  • Always prompt when attempting to save files of the same name
  • Maximized main window now properly restored when reopening RStudio
  • PAM authorization works correctly even if account has password expiration warning
  • Correct display of manipulate panel when Plots pane is on the left

 

Previous Release Notes