Friday, October 09, 2009

Variation Testing

What effect do subtle differences have upon website pages? There is growing interest in this area across a variety of groups. Here is a sample of sites/services that take a stab at it:

What do you use to test and measure your page variations and conversion?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Social Media Revolution

Here is a fun little video that highlights some of the the current trends in the new ways people are communicating...

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Gary King

Recommended by Elkan as one who is doing interesting research in Political Science using the latest technology.

in reference to: Gary King (view on Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Search Engine Optimization

I read an interesting article this morning about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and keywords from a former classmate Nick on his blog Nick's Traffic Tips. For the most part, he explained the standard SEO tactics (and provided some nice case studies and links to go along with it):

SEO Checklist

  • Learn the basics of HTML
  • Choose your keywords
  • Find what other sites are competing for those keywords
  • Put keyword phrase in title, h1, and h2 tags
  • Include an image on the page with the file name & the alt attribute containing your keyword phrase
  • Make sure your keyword phrase is found at the very bottom of your page.
  • Embed your keyword phrase throughout your page at a rate of 1% to 2%.
  • Have your keyword phrase in domain and in the page’s file name.
  • Create your robots.txt file

Additionally, he mentioned the technique of creating content about what you predict will be searched for in the future. Although, this means you need to be a bit of a visionary, it seems like a fun challenge to engage in.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Statistical Design

Here are a few notes on Statistical Design from class today...

As you design your study it is important to realize that statistical significance is different than practical significance. Your results can be statistically significant, but not practically important.

Determining the Sample size
The following four pieces of information are needed to determine the sample size:
  1. Acceptable type on error (alpha) - standard value is .05
  2. Acceptable type two error (beta) - standard value is .2 (power of .8)
  3. Standard deviation - pooled estimate of the standard deviation (sq. rt. of the error mean squared error), includes block effects and covariates
  4. Meaningful difference you want to detect
There are various "rules of thumb" that can help you figure this out based on having the above information. For instance, the following is a basic formula that could be used:
where delta is the change in means between the two groups you might be comparing.

Here is another rough regression rule of thumb:
Where p is the number of parameters being used.

Finally, here are some steps to cover when designing your statistical experiments.

Steps in Design
  • Question of interest
  • Score of inference
  • Understand the system
  • Response
  • Other factors
  • Planning
  • Statistical anaysis
  • Sample size
The often overlooked considerations are very important as new studies are designed.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Tweeting Blog Posts

I just automated the process of making a tweet on Twitter whenever I make a new post on this blog. I set this up using a free service called TwitterFeed.  As a side note, it allows you to do this fo multiple blogs.  

If all goes well, then you will see this post (and all future posts) on my Twitter stream: @smithworx

Things that Make People Happier

Martin Seligman spoke at the BYU forum today in the Marriott Center. Listening from my office I found it quite interesting and relevant, particularly with the doom and gloom ever present in the news. Here are a few tips that he mentioned (they had be learned primarily through controlled experiments):
  • Write down three things that went well today and why they went well. (After six months on average you will be happier.)
  • People that deploy their greatest strengths will be happy.
  • "Active Constructive Responding" helps marriages succeed.
  • Do something philanthropic and your whole day go better.
Finally, he directed everyone to his Authentic Happiness website for more information on being happy.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Spring Research Conference at BYU

Here are the slides form the presentation that I gave at the Spring Research Conference at BYU last weekend.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Finding Gold in Waste

I first learned about this here, but wanted to share it again.  In short, before you discard all of your junk, you might want to be sure that it is indeed worthless.  In the video below, these guys are finding gold in the sewage.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tolerance and Acceptance

Dr. Barbara Culatta gave an excellent devotional today on being tolerant and accepting people around you. She effectively discussed the seven tips below:
  1. Look for Commonalities
  2. Accept People Where They Are
  3. Reflect on Goodness in Other Religions
  4. See Differences as Part of Life
  5. Value What We Can Learn From Others
  6. Serve People from Different Faith and Backgrounds
  7. Give a Soft Response When Criticized
Each of these suggestions (with the exception of #1) encourages us to build "bridging" relationships with people different from us. Tip #1 reminds us that in order to effectively build bridging relationships, we need at least some common ground. When it gets right down to it, we have something in common with everyone (e.g., we are all human beings, we all need food and water). Bridging social capital increases as we establish these types of relationships. Bridging capital is usually harder to obtain as it requires more effort to establish, yet, it is often more rewarding since it gives connecting parties access to resources and information that they otherwise would not have.

These useful tips that can help us be more effective at building these bridges, which improve our social networks.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Using Color in Latex

Have you ever wanted to use color in latex? It is actually pretty simple. All you need to do is include the color package:
Then you can use simple commands like:
\textcolor{Red}{I like Red.}
To produce:
Here is a list of the 68 standard colors that you could use:
Apricot Aquamarine Bittersweet Black Blue BlueGreen BlueViolet BrickRed Brown BurntOrange CadetBlue CarnationPink Cerulean CornflowerBlue Cyan Dandelion DarkOrchid Emerald ForestGreen Fuchsia Goldenrod Gray Green GreenYellow JungleGreen Lavender LimeGreen Magenta Mahogany Maroon Melon MidnightBlue Mulberry NavyBlue OliveGreen Orange OrangeRed Orchid Peach Periwinkle PineGreen Plum ProcessBlue Purple RawSienna Red RedOrange RedViolet Rhodamine RoyalBlue RoyalPurple RubineRed Salmon SeaGreen Sepia SkyBlue SpringGreen Tan TealBlue Thistle Turquoise Violet VioletRed White WildStrawberry Yellow YellowGreen YellowOrange
Furthermore, you can define custom colors by specifying the RGB values as follows:

and then using it as you would the other colors, like so:
\textcolor{MyCrazyColor}{My text in my crazy color.}

Read more about it at Bent Peterson's site.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Social Capital in Startup Networks

Social capital in action surrounds us. Below is a list of sites focused on the niche of starting up new businesses. In order for such ventures to be successful, it is often necessary to build a team of individuals that have complementary attributes and abilities. We are currently working on ways that we can quantify some of these behaviors given the rich data that is generated online everyday.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Social dimensions of social media

Below is the slide presentation that Marc Smith gave at ICWSM. I met Marc at the CIKM 2008 Workshop on Search in Social Media (SSM 2008) in Napa Valley, CA. He is a creative thinker that is always interesting to watch and listen to.

Also, you can watch the video of this presentation by clicking the picture below:

Social dimension of social media (Marc Smith)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Family Reunion on Facebook

Reunion sites are used primarily to "get the word out" about the reunion (e.g., location, events, cost), gather people's information (e.g., family member names), collect dues, and share family media (e.g., stories, pictures, videos).

Traditionally, I've been the guy that gets asked to build the reunion website --- as I'm involved in the planning meetings. Through the years, I've built a few high school reunion sites and a family reunion site. Through the process I have reused much of the code, yet they have all been "custom" websites. Although I had big plans to make my code generic enough that anyone could create a reunion site, I never took the time to do it. Since creating my last reunion site there have been a number of others that have taken the time to do this. For example, Ning and MyEvent are among a host of such sites that people have used to create reunion sites.
Currently, I believe that the quickest and most efficient way to do a reunion website is on Facebook. Here are a few reasons why I currently believe it to be most efficient solution:
  • It is free
  • No coding is necessary (saving time and money)
  • Lots of your family is likely already using Facebook, so they will not have to register for another account or re-enter information
  • People using Facebook already have media shared and can easily share more, which makes it easy to "catch-up" with family members
  • It is easy to create a Group specifically for you family reunion allowing family members to join
  • It is easy to create a "Related Event" for the group (i.e., the reunion activities) that members can easily indicate whether or not they plan to attend
  • In general, it is much more interactive than any of the other reunion sites
  • It may even be "one of the most fulfilling experiences of [your] life"
  • The Network will continue on, even after your planned event is over
So, to all that may wish to utilize my services to build them a reunion website... I'm still at your service, so long as we do it on Facebook. ;)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Recording Skype Calls

Here are the basic settings that I used on a Mac to record Skype conversations using SoundFlower, Skype, and Audacity.


Default Input: SoundFlower (2ch)
Default Output: Built-in Output

Audio output: SoundFlower (2ch)
Audio input: SoundFlower (2ch) (if you wan't to record both sides of the Skype call)
Built-in Microphone (if you only wish to record the other side of the conversation)


Recording Device: SoundFlower (2ch)
Playback Device: Core Audio: Built-in Output

You could record many other things using similar configurations. Happy Recording!

Update: Since writing this I happened to come across another tutorial on doing this with pictures, that you might wish to follow.