Stories tagged data

Pick a number: The PIN you punch in at an ATM can have a higher or lower level of security based on the order of the numbers you pick.
Pick a number: The PIN you punch in at an ATM can have a higher or lower level of security based on the order of the numbers you pick.Courtesy Victor van Werkhooven
What are the most popular PIN numbers people use? What are the least? How can you best ensure that your PIN is something crooks would have a lesser chance of figuring out? This is a pretty neat report that talks about what works, and what doesn't, when selecting a personal identification number to use with some financial or electronic devices. You'd be surprised how often people commonly make mistakes that lead to easy uncovering of their PINs.

I was very excited to listen to Barack Obama's inauguration address and hear him speak the words, science, data, and statistics with pride and emphasis. We will keep a watchful eye over the next four years to make sure that science policy adheres to the agenda and principles that our new president has set out.


Hard drive cost 3,000x cheaper

Fortran punch card
Fortran punch cardCourtesy Arnold Reinhold
I bought a hard drive yesterday that can store a million MB of data for $202. That is about 20 cents per megabyte. My first hard drive purchase cost over $600 for just one megabyte.

First computer "bugs"

The first computer I got to play with used relays. I programmed it by moving wires creating a circuit called a "flip flop" that could play tic-tac-toe. The relays used electromagnets to open and close electrical contacts and if a bug got in between the contacts the program failed to work and had to be "debugged".

Paper punch programming

When I switched majors in college from engineering into education I needed to take a foreign language. Luckily I was allowed to use my class in Fortran (a computer language) to qualify. In the Fortran coarse we stored instruction data on punch cards. The holes in the cards allowed electrical contact between appropriate circuits within a huge mainframe computer.

Magnetic tape data storage

Before I had enough money to buy that first hard drive, I used magnetic tape. Audio pulses on a regular audio cassette would be converted to connections being made within an integrated circuit comprised of millions of transistor switching circuits.

IBM calls new data storage, "racetrack"

Soon personal memory devices will hold thousands of movies, run for weeks on one battery, and will last for decades.

IBM just announced another breakthrough in data storage that could lead to electronic devices capable of storing far more data in the same amount of space than is possible today, with lightning-fast boot times, far lower cost and unprecedented stability and durability.

To learn more, click on the video below.

Source: IBM Press release

Check out the US Geological Survey (USGS) webpage for Minnesota, with news releases of interest, real-time data, and highlighted links. (Other states available, too.) Today, for example, would be an interesting day to check out real-time water data, or the MN draught watch.


A researcher in Chicago is making novel use of the Internet, according to this article in the Tribune. (Registration may be required, but it's free.) Emily Noelle Ignacio, a professor at Loyola University, studies the way people interact and form communities on-line. She focused her attention on the Filipino-American community.

Over 21 months, while working on her doctoral dissertation, Ignacio printed out and analyzed about 2,000 of the best postings from about 20,000 members of that Internet newsgroup, a forum of interest to Filipinos with a yearning for news and talk of their homeland.

"People really wanted to make it a virtual home, to go online, to hear what's going on, to talk with other Filipinos around the world," she said.

Unlike others in her trade who have gone to Samoa or the forests of Borneo to glean insights from those they were studying, Ignacio turned to her computer to show how Filipinos "have used subtle, cyber, but very real social connections to construct and reinforce a sense of ... identity with distant others."