30 September 2014

Relational databases and bigger databases

When Raja was talking to us today about the differences between relational databases and Google's database, I was reminded of something he told me a while back.

Ford Focus
Relational databases are like automobiles. They are ubiquitous, functional, and relatively inexpensive. For example, the globally most sold model of automobile in 2013 was the Ford Focus. It is a perfectly fine automobile, is seen everywhere, is relatively inexpensive, and is understood by mechanics pretty much anywhere.

It can go to the grocery for you.

It is like a relational database.

On the other hand, there is the Bugatti Veyron. Actually owned by VW, it is built in France and is a one-off automobile, essentially hand-built to the highest tolerances. It is neither ubiquitous (less than a 1000 have been built) nor inexpensive (estimated price of about $1,914,000 apiece).

But it can go to extremes.

It is like Google's database - huge (1000 horsepower), one-of-a-kind, and very fast. But it needs a lot of support.

One auto/database or the other is right, depending on your circumstances.

26 September 2014

NC TraCS Institute Open House

NC TraCS is holding an Open House on Wednesday, October 1st, from 10am-5pm on the 2nd floor of Brinkhous-Bullitt Building.  There will be 24 presentations and 35 stations where TraCS faculty and staff, including those from CTSA partners RTI and NC A&T, will be sharing information about how TraCS can help accelerate the translation of discoveries to dissemination to patients and communities. Do stop by if you can.  This link provides more information including a schedule of presentations:   http://tracs.unc.edu/openhouse2014

25 September 2014

Module 02 grades

I have finished grading your module 01 reports and everyone did well. I have put individualized gradesheets in protected directories, from where you may retrieve them at you leisure. You can find a link to your individual gradesheet at the grades page which you may access by using our INLS201 readings credentials.

When you click on your name, you will be prompted for new credentials. For all but three of you all (and I have sent individual notes to the three who are affected), you are prompted for your personal ONYEN credentials.

I made some comments on each gradesheet. If you have any questions about what I had to say, we can discuss it during my office hours.

If your gradesheet does not show your Module 02 grade, let me know. It is possible that I might have missed a required step and can fix the problem as soon as it's pointed out to me.

22 September 2014

Apply now for both IS major or minor

The world according to Google

Something to think about.
By Lauren Laverne, The Guardian, Saturday 20 September 2014.

Our lives are being mapped by the internet. But is it wise to let the likes of Google decide what becomes our culture’s collective memory?

father and child looking at computer screen
‘The internet is where we keep our hopes, our dreams, our photographs of what we had for lunch…’ Photograph: Alamy
Google is debating the right to forget. Not the right of the individual to forget, of course (they don’t have the technology for that, at least not yet). Google is debating the right of the individual to ask to be forgotten by it – the vast commercial entity that now acts as our culture’s entire collective memory.
Earlier this year, a ruling by the European Court of Justice allowed people to ask Google to remove information about them from its search index. So far, 90,000 individuals have applied for data to be deleted – everything from embarrassing photographs to information about criminal trials. Google opposes the ruling and is running seven public meetings about how best to balance the individual’s right to be forgotten with the public’s right to information (you can apply to attend, if you like, at google.com/advisorycouncil). I have to be honest, I’m probably not going to go. I’m too busy coming to terms with the fact that I live in a culture which has delegated the task of mapping the limits of our collective knowledge to an entirely unaccountable commercial entity. I don’t remember a single meeting about that decision, never mind seven.
I mean, I know it’s free. And it is terribly convenient. Plus it’s bloody fast if you’ve got a good signal. But still. Because, despite what most search engines (apparently there are others) will tell you, “external memory” isn’t just something that you add to your computer. It has a long and profound history. The first examples we have were drawn on the walls of the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc cave 30,000 years ago: bison, horses, lions, panthers and hyenas all immortalised, each one representing more than an animal.
They also reveal the deep-rooted nature of “symbolic capacity”. This ability, some anthropologists argue, is the significant development in human history. When we evolved symbolic capacity, it allowed us to create “external memory stores” such as art, ritual, and eventually the written word. It allowed us to invent culture, the prism through which every individual’s behaviour and experience is refracted. Eventually it helped us to build the internet – the place into which we appear to be pouring our culture for safekeeping.
But whose? Our hopes, our dreams, our memories, heavily filtered photographs of what we had for lunch… who keeps the keys to our past? Whose finger is hovering over “delete”? It’s not just about Google, either. As Mark Zuckerberg would say, it’s complicated.
My view is that we should consider the vessel itself – not just debate what we’re adding to or removing from it (nobody questions search engine optimisation, and isn’t that the approximate process in reverse?). If we are putting all our eggs in one or two vast online baskets, shouldn’t we, the public, share a grip on the handle?
In 1942 George Orwell observed false propaganda about the Spanish Civil War passing into history, unquestioned, as fact. “This kind of thing is frightening to me,” he wrote in an essay, “because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world… I know it is the fashion to say that most of recorded history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our own age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written… Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as ‘the truth’ exists… the implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some other ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past… This prospect frightens me much more than bombs, and after our experiences of the past few years, that is not a frivolous statement.” Until next week, I’ll bid you a Shakespearean “Farewell. Thou canst not teach me to forget.”

19 September 2014

The Internet Map

Selena Quinteros in the 0800 class posted this item and I thought it was worth sharing with you all as well.

I think that the Internet Map is an interesting site because it allows you to see information about different websites using an interesting design. The colors allow you to see what country a certain website originates from.

In there "about" section they have the following information:

"Every site is a circle on the map, and its size is determined by website traffic, the larger the amount of traffic, the bigger the circle. Users’ switching between websites forms links, and the stronger the link, the closer the websites tend to arrange themselves to each other."

I suggest you play with it by searching your favorite websites. However, keep in mind that it only contains 350 thousand websites from 196 countries up until 2011 so it does not contain all of the websites you visit.