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What Do Diebold Voting Machines and Hotel Minibars Have in Common?

The key to secure access to the computer. Yes, our state and federal elections are as secure as your average hotel minibar.

I was working on text processing the Diebold support forums (available for download at Black Box Voting) to see if I can find things that were missed by just reading through them, and to see if anything can be inferred through visualization tools on top of the processed text.

With blatant, nearly criminal disregard for election security, Diebold makes what I was doing almost pointless. Who cares if I can finger certain people giving suspect technical or policy direction when the company uses a freakin' hotel minibar lock to secure the voting machine? It's no wonder that a third of US voters believe federal elections are rigged.

Terror Alert Mortality Stats

I like data and I like statistics, so I liked the ranking of liklihood of death by various means related to terrorism. You are more likely to die from the police shooting you than you are from a terrorist plot. Now can I can have my $#@! toothpaste back and drink water on the plane?

Video Walkthrough of the Sun X4500

The video below provides a quick (3 minute) overview of the Sun X4500 server used as the hardware part of the Sun-Greenplum "appliance" that I discussed in an earlier post. The server is preconfigured with either 12 or 24 terabytes of storage. You're unlikely to run out any time soon. I like a lot of things about this box, some of which you can see in the video.

Their idea that storage is now so inexpensive that you should just load up on it, let drives fail and ignore them, and expect that the storage comes and goes with the server rather than a separate array is an interesting concept. Wonder if it will fly given the focus on SANs and NAS?

We Feel Fine

We Feel Fine is a visualization of the emotional content of what people are blogging. Blog posts are parsed where "I feel" or "I am feeling" occurs, and the feeling is extracted along with the sentence in came in. The application has harvested 4,781,619 posts from over a million people, and counting. That's the easy part.

This data is then aggregated, processed, and additional demographic and geographic data like blogger age, location and weather is retrieved to make fascinating visualizations of the emotional content of the blogs on any given day. Their interface description:
The interface to this data is a self-organizing particle system, where each particle represents a single feeling posted by a single individual. The particles' properties Â? color, size, shape, opacity Â? indicate the nature of the feeling inside, and any particle can be clicked to reveal the full sentence or photograph it contains. The particles careen wildly around the screen until asked to self-organize along any number of axes, expressing various pictures of human emotion. We Feel Fine paints these pictures in six formal movements titled: Madness, Murmurs, Montage, Mobs, Metrics, and Mounds.
They are able to expose the information while making data selections explicit, and interaction simple and fun. I won't bother describing the visualizations of the data because they're colorful, playful, dynamic displays that beat the pants off anything you'd see in a commercial BI tool. Go check it out.

For the record, I am feeling particularly hoopy today.

Home Depot Time Warp

I periodically check out Improv Everywhere (originators of the annual New York subway no-pants event) to see what they've been up to. In their latest mission, they had about 200 people shop at a Home Depot in slow-motion , then freeze a little later. The video below was sped up to make the slow-mo people move normally, so the regular shoppers move like hummingbirds. The past mission briefings make for entertaining reading.


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