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Netflix talk today

Tuesday September 29, 2009

Filed under: computing,statistics — jackman @ 11:11 am

Stanford Stats Seminar today is on Lessons from the Netflix Prize, by Robert Bell from AT&T Labs.

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dust storms in Australia

Wednesday September 23, 2009

Filed under: Australian Politics,general — jackman @ 2:39 pm

My brother Tom says the dust storm today on the East coast of Australia reminds him of a Midnight Oils lyric (“cue the emus”):

When the spinifex hit Sydney, it was the last thing we expected
When the desert came to Gladesville, we tried to tame it
And when the emus grazed at Pyrmont, it suddenly dawned on us all
Hah, finally the world was silent and the door was shut

Photo below stolen from the Sydney Morning Herald’s site.

Chris Button Harbour Bridge-600X400

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pleasant R discoveries of the day

Filed under: computing — jackman @ 5:32 am

1. grep(pattern,x) works when x is a list, with each component being a vector of character strings. The returned argument is a vector of indices, the components of x in which the pattern is matched.

2. in library(foreign), read.spss has an option

trim.factor.names: Logical: trim trailing spaces from factor levels?

Wish I’d RTFMd this earlier, in that "Democrat" != "Democrat "

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Canada in a thong

Sunday September 20, 2009

Filed under: Australian Politics,general — jackman @ 10:34 am

Catching up on the New Yorker now that we’re back in the US. Bruce Western pointed me to a recent David Sedaris take on Australia.

For an American, though, Australia seems pretty familiar: same wide streets, same office towers. It’s Canada in a thong, or that’s the initial impression.

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Australian quarantine regs

Filed under: Australian Politics,flight nerdery — jackman @ 1:28 am

I’m just catching up with this story: Delta has to fly planes to the United Kingdom to be sprayed with insecticide (for malaria and dengue fever) so as to meet Australian quarantine regulations (which apparently also stipulate that the treatments be done at an AQIS site outside the United States).

Remember the old days when they wouldn’t let you deplane upon arrival into Australia until the Quarantine people would walk down the aisles spraying cans of stuff into the air? Quite the welcome.

As Roy & HG might say, this raises more questions than it answers. How do the other non-Australian carriers deal with this? Is this for real, or a nice “barrier to entry” designed to protect Qantas, or both? When Australian airlines take delivery of new (or leased) aircraft, do they have to go through the spraying rigmarole off-shore somewhere?

Details appear this AQIS document, see Appendix 5 for a list of AQIS “approved organisations for Residual Disinsection”. Indeed, none in the USA.

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Beazley to the US

Thursday September 17, 2009

Filed under: Australian Politics — jackman @ 1:45 pm

Not a big surprise to see Kim Beazley named to be the next Australian ambassador to the United States.

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beating up on opt-in Internet samples (again)

Thursday September 10, 2009

Filed under: statistics — jackman @ 10:19 pm

Gary Langer does it again, this time with supporting references to a paper by Jon Krosnick and 6 co-authors; Doug Rivers (finally!) replies and at length. Two of Krosnick’s co-authors are former students of mine; current students are thanked in the acknowledgements; like Krosnick, Rivers is my colleague — Stanford really is ground-zero in this debate.

Langer says:

I welcome any coherent theoretical defense of the use of convenience samples in estimating population values; it’s a debate we need to have.

And in his earlier post he said:

I have yet to hear any reasonable theoretical justification for the calculation of sampling error with a convenience sample.

Got one? Hit me.

Try this: model-based inference is an idea that has been around for a long time, and contrasts quite markedly with design-based inference for data generated by surveys. There is plenty written on this, but I’d suggest starting with a reasonably accessible book on sampling, like Sharon Lohr’s Sampling: Design and Analysis. Model-based inference for survey data is discussed in various places, typically in a “starred section” in each chapter (e.g., here’s how we can do design of and inference for cluster sampling from the model-based perspective, etc). The references provided by Lohr include important works by Basu and Royall etc. See also the delightful book called Combined Survey Sampling Inference by Ken Brewer — if you can get your hands on it. Doug Rivers pointed me to this book a year or two ago and it is a treat (as these things go).
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missing letterbox

Filed under: general — jackman @ 10:01 am

The upgrade to Mac OS 10.6 killed my Mail.app plugins. I am missing letterbox. It should be back soon.

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get back at IKEA

Friday September 4, 2009

Filed under: type — jackman @ 6:46 pm

Such much web outrage over the Futura-Verdana thing at Ikea; we’re all type nerds now if Time is writing on it.

Strike back at IKEA. Next time you are there, ask the staff for help by referring to products by name.

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Snow Leopard Server Admin Tools don’t work

Tuesday September 1, 2009

Filed under: computing — jackman @ 8:02 pm

I installed 10.6 Snow Leopard on my office machine. Seemed to go ok. I then installed 10.6 Server Admin Tools, but have run into the issue reported here. Hmmm.

I wonder if my install of the OS upgrade didn’t go correctly, and that some other discoveries lurk.

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