Big Data Exposure

Submitted by Daniel Kim on Sun, 07/20/2014 - 11:05pm.
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Big data has been a big factor in determining representation in our modern world. The social phenomena of big data might change the way we “know” knowledge since with big data we can see the entire world in one picture. However, there are multiple flaws in this approach and Microsoft researcher Kate Crowford points it out in her Vialogues, Hidden Bias of Big Data.

First off, the biggest flaw is bias. Data inherently is biased, since the representation of data is determined by who decides to report it as well as who was able to report the data. (i.e. when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and all the tweets came from the urban centers such as New York).

Secondly, there is a flaw known as signal. Signal encompasses the possibility of people not being included in that data set. For example, in Boston, there is an application made for smartphones that passively collect data and speed and reports back every time there is a pothole. However, this data would become hugely flawed because the application would only include the wealthier, technologically-savvy people that own smartphones.


Calculus 1 Review in Less Than 20 Minutes

Submitted by Kafoumba Doumbia on Sun, 07/20/2014 - 10:41pm.
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Calculus is one of the most challenging math courses that college students struggle with. It covers a lot of topics and includes many formulas that students have to remember. However, this video explains in detail everything you need to know in Calculus 1. It covers all the important techniques that would help any student do better. Calculus is a difficult course and is mostly required for STEM students. I wish I saw this video before taking my first calculus class. There are more useful videos online covering every course that can help you better understand the course you taking or will be taking.


Better Chocolate Covered Broccoli

Submitted by Haymar Lim on Sun, 07/20/2014 - 9:08am.
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Recently, we discussed the difficulty of creating good "chocolate covered broccoli," presenting something educational as non-educational and hoping the student learns something from it. A new video game called "Valiant Hearts" attempts this with the subject of World War I and appears to be largely successful through the use of powerful imagery, a strong narrative and engaging puzzles that all teach about various aspects of World War I without feeling like a history lesson. The game is available on PC, Xbox and Playstation platforms and should be accessible to many students. Is this an effective learning tool? Discuss in the Vialogue below!


Learning Outside Classroom Walls

Submitted by Bismark Appiah on Sat, 07/19/2014 - 10:58pm.
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I have come across many great ideas on how to help students stay in school, yet most of those ideas haven't been successfully executed. The Alternative Learning System (ALS) in the Philippines might be an exception. The purpose of this program is to provide basic education for disadvantaged groups who can't benefit from formal education. Some of those disadvantaged groups include indigenous peoples, street children, differently-abled persons, and out-of-school children.

To accomplish this, the Philippines Department of Education has assigned "mobile teachers" to teach these unfortunate ones. They go to villages to teach basic reading and math skills to students. Additionally, they also look for prospective students to recruit. It seems like these disadvantage groups will not be on the same level as students who are already enrolled in formal schooling. Nonetheless, I still applaud the government for the effort and it is better to have a basic knowledge in reading and math than to be illiterate.


Today’s Answer to the "Twilight Zone" holds up a "Black Mirror" to Society

Submitted by Jackie Heltz on Fri, 07/18/2014 - 9:34am.
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The seemingly never-ending “Twilight Zone” series (156 original episodes cranked out in a 5 year period) chiefly penned by WWII vet, Rod Serling, was characterized by kafkaesque scenes, hairpin plot turns, moral takeaways, and, of course, the underlying threat of Communism:

Now flash forward 50 years to 2014, where British humorist/screenwriter, Charlie Brooker’s so-called, tragicomedy series "Black Mirror" is in its second of three “series”...and with only 6 episodes to date. And while the production quality has been elevated to that of film and the stage across the pond, the focus is no longer the red scare but the tech scare. The dark side of a life touched by technology reaches audiences in 45 minute episodes and proves not only more disturbing than ol’ Rod could have ever imagined but manages to to tear relationships, families, and communities right on par with its socialist counterpart.


The Lands of Opportunity

Submitted by Reindorf Kyei on Fri, 07/18/2014 - 1:09am.
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During high school, some students were lovers of STEM, but others didn't have the passion for it. Those with a passion for it who continued their STEM journey throughout college are probably doing very well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual mean wage for STEM occupations was about 71 percent higher than the national annual average wage.

A recent survey found that recent STEM graduates are finding jobs in Texas, in particular Dallas, Houston and Austin. Two out three cities in Texas were able to rank top 10 in the nation’s science and technology job seekers, and the third city followed right behind at the 11th position. Not only are the jobs good and well paid, but also affordable for STEM works to rent a place to live. However, Texas is not the only place that has a good career for STEM grads. California has four cities in the top 20 as well.


Tutorial on Play Ground Session

Submitted by Carmel Addae on Fri, 07/18/2014 - 1:08am.
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I recently created a blog on Play Ground Session, an app that allows you to play the piano and help individuals learn new songs. The vialogues below is a follow up to the blog and highlights many of the features of Play Ground session. The app can be very helpful to music students (especially producers) as it shows them how to use instruments such as piano, guitar and drums.


Vialogues' Interactive Feature Prototype

Submitted by Yang Yang on Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:52pm.
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This is a screenshot of the D3 interactive streamgraph of Vialogues 6973, a long (>20 min) video named “anthro of YouTube” with 116 total comments. Please feel free to play with the interactive version of prototype here.

It is a visual illustration of concept flows of a discussion for its corresponding video, as it shows the change and switch of discussion concepts along with the video time stream. Only because of Vialogues timestamp function, we are able to trace the discussion back to that particular portion of the video.

Each categorical color shows one keyword, so that the stream of this color is the stream of this concept. For instance, red represents YouTube in this example, we know that at the beginning and the 3/4s of the video, this concept appears more than the very end of the video.


The Importance of School in Places with Rampant Gun and Gang Violence

Submitted by Haymar Lim on Thu, 07/17/2014 - 9:09pm.
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This week, I found myself listening to a set of episodes of "This American Life," a radio show and podcast telling stories about various aspects of American life, about a school in one of the more dangerous areas of Chicago. The show interviewed several people attending or working at the school and quickly painted a picture of the violence and gang culture pervasive throughout the area. The best way I can present the gravity of the situation is to say that the map can be used as an accurate tool to tell which gang a particular kid may belong to. If a kid lives on a certain block, almost without exception, that kid will belong to the gang whose "turf" that block belongs in. It isn't a matter of joining or not joining the gang. Once a kid is deemed tall or old enough, he/she must join, or risk getting shot at or jumped. The staff at Harper High, the school looked at in this report, openly acknowledge the fact that almost all of their students are gang members and try to accommodate them to face the troubles of this reality. To put some numbers behind this, the year before this report took place, 29 students of Harper High were shot at. 8 students were killed. These numbers are not an anomaly. Had they been, perhaps we'd have heard about it on national news. Perhaps if the weapons used were semi-automatic rifles and not hand-guns we'd have heard about it on national news. Regardless, the sad reality remains.


Python Application Deployment

Submitted by Pranav Garg on Thu, 07/17/2014 - 3:36pm.
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This is a pretty interesting article on deploying of python applications on a PAAS platform.

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