Category Archives: Links

Silent Shout →

“Our phone is going around the city asking, ‘Are you ‘Home Wi-fi’? Are you ‘Home Wi-fi’?’ Your phone does that one network at a time but it always sends out its MAC address and the name of the network,” Briz continued. “So then it might be like, ‘Hey, it’s me. Here’s my MAC address again. Now I’m looking for ‘Work Wi-fi’, now that cafe I connected to once, now ‘Mom’s House’, and so on.’” The protocol is structured like a Greek tragedy, with recurrent choral interjections and a relentless quest for home.

Many people think that you need GPS to be able to locate a device. This article explains very nicely why WiFi alone is a very capable tracking technology if you are walking around with a smartphone all day – and why this huge privacy issue is very unlikely to go away.

Cards Against Humanity’s Pulse of the Nation →

For the fifth day of Cards Against Humanity Saves America, we used your money to fund one year of monthly public opinion polls. We’ll ask the American people about their social and political views, what they think of the president, and their pee-pee habits.

In fact, we secretly started polling three months ago. What a delightful surprise!

To conduct our polls in a scientifically rigorous manner, we’ve partnered with Survey Sampling International — a professional research firm — to contact a nationally representative sample of the American public. For the first three polls, we interrupted people’s dinners on both their cell phones and landlines, and a total of about 3,000 adults didn’t hang up immediately. We examined the data for statistically significant correlations, and boy did we find some stuff.

Hilarious. I think I’m going to use their data in class some time. Too bad it doesn’t include respondents’ location.

R for Data Science →

I recently came across O’Reilly’s R for Data Science by Hadley Wickham and Garrett Grolemund. From cross-reading some of the chapters, it is a very easily digestible intro to R and it also goes into topics such as cleaning up data (something most books suggest to happen automagically). It doesn’t go very deep into the statistical capabilities of R, though.

Anyway, it turns out they actually have the full book online for free at

GeoNotebook →

GeoNotebook is an application that provides client/server environment with interactive visualization and analysis capabilities using Jupyter, GeoJS and other open source tools.

I use Jupyter notebooks all the time when I write Python code, so I definitely need to give GeoNotebook a shot.

The ResearchGate Score: a good example of a bad metric →

The results of our our evaluation of the RG Score were rather discouraging: while there are some innovative ideas in the way ResearchGate approached the measure, we also found that the RG Score ignores a number of fundamental bibliometric guidelines and that ResearchGate makes basic mistakes in the way the score is calculated. We deem these shortcomings to be so problematic that the RG Score should not be considered as a measure of scientific reputation in its current form.

Interesting read about reverse engineering the blackbox ResearchGate score. I have considered that score useless for a long time and think about closing my account every time they send me one of those annoying emails. But unfortunately RG has become so widely used that they drive a considerable number of readers to my papers, so I guess I’ll just keep on putting up with these annoyances. I just hope people don’t start taking that score seriously.