Monday, September 22, 2008

Ask a designer to do statistics...

Here is a great example of what happens when you ask a designer to draw something cool to show statistics:

(sorry for the poor image quality here: I don't have a real image cropping tool on this computer)

Note the market share for Creative Labs as written and as represented. If the error isn't also somewhere else, it's supposed to be 3%. When you have somebody manually creating and typing numbers, you get typos. I'm not saying that you shouldn't ever have a designer do graphics for you. What I'm trying to say is that for such a simple representation, probably it shows that our graphics building software options are a little on the weak side.

Source: The Trouble with Zunes from Fortune Magazine.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A morning of looking at web2.0 companies

Every time I see a random list of "best new web companies" I get amazed with the amount of diversity there is right now. They all have this web2.0 feeling to them, but try to do a lot of random things. I won't try to go through all of them in this post (because I don't have time for it), but I wanted to highlight two today:

SezWho: I've heard of this site before when it was on inception but it seems now it has some tools available. The idea here is to create communities around people's trust ratings based on people's activities across multiple websites. Sounds like a not-so-bad idea, right? But I don't think it will work as it is today. Why? because it requires the site to be "SezWho-enabled", i.e., the site owner has to do coding work to make sure their posting and comment system actually traces back to SezWho. Who will do this jump of forcing their site's experience through somebody else's system? I know I wouldn't. I could ask SezWho to listen to my site's RSS feed and then provide content aggregation and cross-rating. Making it a part of my site is not an option.

Get Satisfaction: Another site I've heard before but when I saw it was in private beta or something like that. The idea of this one is for people to post comments/questions about companies and their products and then for companies to be able to post answers to those questions. All public and searchable. Not a bad idea, I say.

This one is kind of odd to think that it's not going to work. If I post something public about how I don't like my old Canon printer, Canon might think it needs to participate on trying to defend their printer. And once people see that they really have a connection to the company, they might start to really use it.

My biggest concern here is the silo approach again. You have to post on their site. The future is aggregation, not silos. Make you sign up, register your data source (blog, twitter, etc.) and make them aggregate what you say about companies. Then you let companies comment on their system and that is automatically sent back to your site as a comment (whenever possible) with an ad to their service.

Anyway, we will continue to see a lot of changes coming in the future. I just don't know if people will ever be able to fully change.

Friday, September 12, 2008

People love statistics, even when they don't know how to interpret them

So I was reading this article from ComputerWorld that shows statistics about Chrome users to their site and comparing to the other 3 "most popular browsers": IE, Firefox & Safari.

They go through a lot of discussion of how it varied every day, and that during the weekend it went up, then down again and then it "stabilized" at around 5% market share, a bit lower than Safari. Sounds like a meaningful analysis? Well, just look at the graph and tell me! Look at the amount of variation that happens with "old" browsers, like IE and Firefox. They seem to keep competing for the first position, even when they have already been out for many months (actually years, because I think they aggregate all versions into one metric).

My point is, if that's the variation on normal operation, why does anybody care about .5% or even 5% changes day by day and try to conclude anything about them? Yes, Chrome got a pretty big market share quickly, but that's what you expect with anything that is released by such a big and well-known company. And that's the only thing I would take from it. Leave the rest of the conclusions for when you have month-over-month data and you can actually see cannibalization.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

An evening of working from home + Spore

So I decided to leave work earlier today to concentrate on working on a new idea. The last times that I've tried to do that I ended up getting sidetracked and not really doing what I was planning on doing. And you might think that this time the same thing happened because of the title, huh? Oh, well, not really. I did get some work done. Not enough to prove if my idea would work, unfortunately. I was interrupted by the reality of working with HTML parsing: not all parsers can parse all pages. Oh, well...

But it's actually somehow funny to do it, because you realize how "unprofessional" some sites really are behind the scenes. I'm not going to cite names here, but here are some pieces of HTML that I found around:

<!--modified by sakthi for req no: 104293 -->

<!--Code added for Task1 .3 start-->


Anyway, so why did I mention Spore? Because I actually did download it and try it out. It's not a bad game. Has a huge potential for just consuming all your free time, so if you want to give it a try, keep it in mind. The graphics are pretty nice, especially underwater. When I moved to the ground form, the graphics weren't as nice, but the amount of variations you can put on your creature was quite neat.

In any way, I had fun!

Quite odd how different the evening can be when I get home before 7 pm.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Odd statistics

I was going through Estadao's neat statistics UI on Sao Paulo's governor's election poll. Not very complicated, but has some odd things (which is more likely to mean that somebody entered data incorrectly than anything else):

If you look at the general election numbers by education level and income level, you will see that there is a positive correlation on both factors with voting for Alckmin. You'd expect that, as there is a positive correlation between education level and income level.

But when you go to the 2nd round is when things get odd. There is now still a positive correlation to education, but not on income.

I'm a little away from Brazilian politics (although I'll be in Brazil this year during the 2nd round - but I won't be able to vote as of now, because my voting registration was canceled, because I haven't voted for so long), but one thing that I can relate to is the rejection rate on Paulo Maluf. I'm somehow in shock that the guy is still running for a public office. He has a huge track record of corruption, but apparently he still thinks that he was able to get more things accomplished while giving money and taking money from "his friends", so he deserves to be put in power again. The scary thing is that he is not completely wrong about it, just a little narrow-sighted.