Top Billing! Shepherd’s Pi – Free Tools for the New Scientific Revolution
This important post by Lewis Shepherd is of particular interest to those readers who are quants, scientists, university researchers, computer experts, intel analysts, DIY geeks, engineers and business innovators:
….One groundrule was that invited private-sector speakers were not allowed to give anything resembling a “sales pitch” of their company’s wares. Fair enough – I’m no salesman. The person who immediately preceded me, keynoter Vint Cerf, slightly bent the rules and talked a bit about his employer Google’s products, but gee whiz, that’s the prerogative of someone who is in large part responsible for the Internet we all use and love today.
I described in my talk the radical new class of super-powerful technologies enabling large-data research and computing on platforms of real-time and archival government data. That revolution is happening now, and I believe government could and should be playing a different and less passive role. I advocated for increased attention to the ongoing predicament of U.S. research and development funding.
….To supplement those points from my talk, here are some items from Microsoft Research’s new focus on scientific tools, available for free here. Most of these are open-source tools and “research accelerators”
The post is long and rich in links, apps and explanations.
Defense Horizons (Dr. Sean Kay) – From Sputnik to Minerva: Education and American National Security
….Public discourse following the September 2001 terrorist attacks initially implied that this new challenge would inspire a Federal response in realigning educational security infrastructure, as had Sputnik. By 2003, however, evidence indicated that the level of educational investment was disappointing. For example, the United States had enormous deficits in critical language expertise, especially in Arabic, Farsi, and Pashto. In 2003, the Department of Education noted that, of the 1.8 million graduates of American colleges and universities,a total of 22 students had completed degrees in Arabic.11
The Washington Monthly (Kevin Carey) – The Mayo Clinic of Higher Ed ( Hat tip to Eddie)
….Next, Lehmkuhle had to hire professors and decide how to organize their work. Traditional universities isolate their faculty in academic departments that often view one another as strange denizens of another planet at best, outright enemies at worst. Departments also accumulate administrative structures-chairs, vice chairs, and so on-over time. Lehmkuhle didn’t have enough money to pay for vice chairs, and he wanted professors from different disciplines to work together. The solution: no departments.
Traditional universities also separate teaching from research. These functions are not just disconnected, but often antagonistic. Many professors vying for tenure in the publish-or-perish system are openly encouraged to neglect their students in favor of scholarship. Lehmkuhle resolved this tension by making tenure at UMR contingent on three factors: teaching, research in the academic disciplines, and research about teaching. For UMR professors, applying their analytic powers to their own teaching practice would be a standard part of the job.
….I saw Muthyala’s approach to teaching in action when I attended one of his classes. For more than an hour, he stayed in motion, moving in a 270-degree arc around the room, alternating between short explanations of the material and friendly interrogation. Questions and diagrams popped up on wall-mounted projection screens as students used their laptops to examine data on spreadsheets and flip back and forth between charts on PowerPoint slides. Some pulled portable whiteboards down from racks and began scrawling out equations with green markers as other members of their team pointed and offered suggestions. “Can we rule out an ester unambiguously?” Muthyala asked at one point. “No, we cannot. Make sure you read up on proton NMR spectroscopy before you come to the next class.” This went over my head, but the students seemed to understand completely. And I did understand the term “creatine” when it was mentioned. After all, it had come up in another class already.
SWJ Blog (Ann Marlowe) –David Galula: His Life and Intellectual Context and (G. Murphy Donovan)- Signals and Noise in Intelligence
Yet almost nothing has been published about the life and intellectual context of Galula, who died of a sudden illness while at the height of his intellectual achievements, at the age of 48, in 1967.
Little in Galula’s career was predictable, and much of his brilliant work reflects his varied and rich life. Though he is best known for writing about his experiences as a captain and major in the French Army in Algeria, Galula had almost completely formed his theories before taking command. Like Forrest Gump, Galula seems to have turned up everywhere that a military theorist of his time needed to be
….Roberta Wohlstetter‘s (1912-2007) military intelligence study, Pearl Harbor; Warning and Decision (1962), is required reading for most entry level Intelligence professionals, yet there is little evidence that her cautionary classic has had a lasting impact on Intelligence praxis. The proliferation of Intelligence agencies since Mrs. Wohlstetter‘s day may have increased the ambient noise within the IC by orders of magnitude. If spending is a measure of complexity, the Intelligence budget has trebled in less than a decade. The IC now employs nearly a quarter million souls at a cost of 75 billion dollars per annum. The Director on National Intelligence (DNI) claims that ten thousand analysts are working the terror problem alone. Indeed, terrorism has become a cash cow for academics, think tanks, and government agencies
Historyguy99 – Piper Bill Millin, 51st Highand Division, RIP
For those who don’t know, Bill Millin was the personal piper of Brigadier Simon Fraser, 15th Lord Lovat who led the 1st Special Service Brigade ashore at Sword Beach on D-Day. Lovat ordered Millin to pipe the troops as they stormed the beaches in defiance of an order banning the playing of the pipes. Millin continued to play and marched back and forth along the beach piping as his comrades fell around him. His bravery stunned the Germans, who later claimed that they spared him because they thought him mad
CTOvision – The Devil is in the Details: Seven Tests to Apply to any Cyber Conflict Concept
Bob Gourley on old and new thoughts about cyber conflict.
Joseph Fouche – Worth Reading: Richelieu and Olivares
Excellent historical review/essay.
The Jamestown Foundation – Hawks vs. Doves: Beijing Debates “Core Interests” and Sino-U.S. Relations
Congratulations to Dr. Barnett for the new additions to his family!
August 30th, 2010 at 3:35 am
It’s worth pointing out that free Microsoft tools come with the price of IT slavery, vendor lock-in, and inferior software engineering. Microsoft’s continued existence is a clear and present danger to the United States. Microsoft delenda est.
August 30th, 2010 at 4:28 pm
"here are some items from Microsoft Research’s new focus on scientific tools,…" – Say, where did Dr. TDAXP get a job?
August 30th, 2010 at 4:53 pm
It should also be noted: Microsoft’s pricing scheme on Microsoft Office 2010 appears to be scandalous, judging by the ratings and commentary at Amazon. I wonder how much negative 4GW energy will need to be expended before Microsoft buckles; this might be a good case study for statism vs 4GW….
August 30th, 2010 at 5:22 pm
Perhaps either Dr. Shepherd or Dr.TDAXP will appear here to defend the honor of Microsoft 🙂
August 30th, 2010 at 5:33 pm
ZenP – thanks for the post! I should let Joseph Fouche (first commenter) know that for this set of free open-source products we’re letting him have them without the "IT slavery" or vendor lock-in 🙂 As for the quality of software engineering, I suggest he try them out for himself and then judge. And for Curtis Gale Weeks (third commenter), our "scandalous" pricing scheme on Office 2010 includes offering free web standalone web versions of Office products (Word, PPT, Excel etc), which require no purchase of anything. People love their functionality and ease of use, which is no surprise, it’s driven by the hypercompetitive space this has become. Kudos to the free market….
August 30th, 2010 at 5:54 pm
You should post a comment on Amazon for MS Office 2010 Professional to that effect: "Hey why buy this here at this outrageous price when you can use it all free at http://….."
Might be one way to thwart the negative impressions, eh?
August 30th, 2010 at 8:02 pm
Disclaimer: I am a complete computer ignoramous, getting beyond email and Google and I’m lost. Having said that, my experience with Microsoft windows 7 on my fairly new computer–within a year–I would definitely be in Joseph Fouche’s camp.
August 30th, 2010 at 11:27 pm
To avoid vendor lock-in, the entire software stack a piece of software runs must be open source all the way down to the hardware. For this particular set of "free" and "open source" tools to avoid vendor lock-in, Microsoft would have to: open source the entire codebase of Windows or verifiably allow the full feature set of their tools to run on an open source operating system open source the entire .NET stack or verifiably allow the full feature set of their tools to run on an open source .Net equivalent like mono open source Office or verifiably allow the full feature set of their tools that require Excel or other Office products to run on an open source equivalent like OpenOffice, Gnome Office, KOffice Since I don’t expect Microsoft would do anything like this till the bitter, bitter end, especially since Windows and Office subsidize all of their products, these tools come with vendor lock-in..As for the quality of software engineering, twenty years of experience with Microsoft products going back to MS-DOS 5 make me dubious. At least until version 3.