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>gladwell dot com – outliers

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What is Outliers about?

1. What is an outlier?

“Outlier” is a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience. In the summer, in Paris, we expect most days to be somewhere between warm and very hot. But imagine if you had a day in the middle of August where the temperature fell below freezing. That day would be outlier. And while we have a very good understanding of why summer days in Paris are warm or hot, we know a good deal less about why a summer day in Paris might be freezing cold. In this book I’m interested in people who are outliers—in men and women who, for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in August.

2. Why did you write Outliers?

I write books when I find myself returning again and again, in my mind, to the same themes. I wrote Tipping Point because I was fascinated by the sudden drop in crime in New York City—and that fascination grew to an interest in the whole idea of epidemics and epidemic processes. I wrote Blink because I began to get obsessed, in the same way, with the way that all of us seem to make up our minds about other people in an instant—without really doing any real thinking. In the case of Outliers, the book grew out a frustration I found myself having with the way we explain the careers of really successful people. You know how you hear someone say of Bill Gates or some rock star or some other outlier—”they’re really smart,” or “they’re really ambitious?’ Well, I know lots of people who are really smart and really ambitious, and they aren’t worth 60 billion dollars. It struck me that our understanding of success was really crude—and there was an opportunity to dig down and come up with a better set of explanations.

3. In what way are our explanations of success “crude?”

That’s a bit of a puzzle because we certainly don’t lack for interest in the subject. If you go to the bookstore, you can find a hundred success manuals, or biographies of famous people, or self-help books that promise to outline the six keys to great achievement. (Or is it seven?) So we should be pretty sophisticated on the topic. What I came to realize in writing Outliers, though, is that we’ve been far too focused on the individual—on describing the characteristics and habits and personality traits of those who get furthest ahead in the world. And that’s the problem, because in order to understand the outlier I think you have to look around them—at their culture and community and family and generation. We’ve been looking at tall trees, and I think we should have been looking at the forest.

4. Can you give some examples?

Sure. For example, one of the chapters looks at the fact that a surprising number of the most powerful and successful corporate lawyers in New York City have almost the exact same biography: they are Jewish men, born in the Bronx or Brooklyn in the mid-1930′s to immigrant parents who worked in the garment industry. Now, you can call that a coincidence. Or you can ask—as I do—what is about being Jewish and being part of the generation born in the Depression and having parents who worked in the garment business that might have something to do with turning someone into a really, really successful lawyer? And the answer is that you can learn a huge amount about why someone reaches the top of that profession by asking those questions.

5. Doesn’t that make it sound like success is something outside of an individual’s control?

I don’t mean to go that far. But I do think that we vastly underestimate the extent to which success happens because of things the individual has nothing to do with. Outliers opens, for example, by examining why a hugely disproportionate number of professional hockey and soccer players are born in January, February and March. I’m not going to spoil things for you by giving you the answer. But the point is that very best hockey players are people who are talented and work hard but who also benefit from the weird and largely unexamined and peculiar ways in which their world is organized. I actually have a lot of fun with birthdates in Outliers. Did you know that there’s a magic year to be born if you want to be a software entrepreneur? And another magic year to be born if you want to be really rich? In fact, one nine year stretch turns out to have produced more Outliers than any other period in history. It’s remarkable how many patterns you can find in the lives of successful people, when you look closely.

6. What’s the most surprising pattern you uncovered in the book?

It’s probably the chapter nearly the end of Outliers where I talk about plane crashes. How good a pilot is, it turns out, has a lot to do with where that pilot is from—that is, the culture he or she was raised in. I was actually stunned by how strong the connection is between culture and crashes, and it’s something that I would never have dreamed was true, in a million years.

7. Wait. Does this mean that there are some airlines that I should avoid?

Yes. Although, as I point out in Outliers, by acknowledging the role that culture plays in piloting, some of the most unsafe airlines have actually begun to clean up their act.

8. In Tipping Point, you had an entire chapter on suicide. In Blink, you ended the book with a long chapter on the Diallo shooting—and now plane crashes. Do you have a macabre side?

Yes! I’m a frustrated thriller writer! But seriously, there’s a good reason for that. I think that we learn more from extreme circumstances than anything else; disasters tell us something about the way we think and behave that we can’t learn from ordinary life. That’s the premise of Outliers. It’s those who lie outside ordinary experience who have the most to teach us.

9. How does this book compare to Blink and The Tipping Point?

It’s different, in the sense that it’s much more focused on people and their stories. The subtitle—”The Story of Success”—is supposed to signal that. A lot of the book is an attempt to describe the lives of successful people, but to tell their stories in a different way than we’re used to. I have a chapter that deals, in part, with explaining the extraordinary success of Bill Gates. But I’m not interested in anything that happened to him past the age of about 17. Or I have a chapter explaining why Asian schoolchildren are so good at math. But it’s focused almost entirely on what the grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great grandparents of those schoolchildren did for a living. You’ll meet more people in Outliers than in my previous two books.

10. What was your most memorable experience in researching Outliers?

There were so many! I’ll never forget the time I spent with Chris Langan, who might be the smartest man in the world. I’ve never been able to feel someone’s intellect before, the way I could with him. It was an intimidating experience, but also profoundly heartbreaking—as I hope becomes apparent in “The Trouble with Geniuses” chapter. I also went to south China and hung out in rice paddies, and went to this weird little town in eastern Pennsylvania where no one ever has a heart attack, and deciphered aircraft “black box” recorders with crash investigators. I should warn all potential readers that once you get interested in the world of plane crashes, it becomes very hard to tear yourself away. I’m still obsessed.

11. What do you want people to take away from Outliers?

I think this is the way in which Outliers is a lot like Blink and Tipping Point. They are all attempts to make us think about the world a little differently. The hope with Tipping Point was it would help the reader understand that real change was possible. With Blink, I wanted to get people to take the enormous power of their intuition seriously. My wish with Outliers is that it makes us understand how much of a group project success is. When outliers become outliers it is not just because of their own efforts. It’s because of the contributions of lots of different people and lots of different circumstances— and that means that we, as a society, have more control about who succeeds—and how many of us succeed—than we think. That’s an amazingly hopeful and uplifting idea.

12. I noticed that the book is dedicated to “Daisy.” Who is she?

Daisy is my grandmother. She was a remarkable woman, who was responsible for my mother’s success—for the fact that my mother was able to get out of the little rural village in Jamaica where she grew up, get a University education in England and ultimately meet and marry my father. The last chapter of Outliers is an attempt to understand how Daisy was able to make that happen—using all the lessons learned over the course of the book. I’ve never written something quite this personal before. I hope readers find her story as moving as I did.

Anybody read Malcolm Gladwell? Tripping Point, Blink and Outliers? I haven’t but after reading this I’m going to. Sounds extremely interesting.

Posted via email from Mocha Brain Freeze

>Hamiltonian path

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In the mathematical field of graph theory, a Hamiltonian path (or traceable path) is a path in an undirected graph that visits each vertex exactly once. A Hamiltonian cycle (or Hamiltonian circuit) is a cycle in an undirected graph which visits each vertex exactly once and also returns to the starting vertex. Determining whether such paths and cycles exist in graphs is the Hamiltonian path problem which is NP-complete.

Hamiltonian paths and cycles are named after William Rowan Hamilton who invented the Icosian game, now also known as Hamilton’s puzzle, which involves finding a Hamiltonian cycle in the edge graph of the dodecahedron. Hamilton solved this problem using the Icosian Calculus, an algebraic structure based on roots of unity with many similarities to the quaternions (also invented by Hamilton). This solution does not generalize to arbitrary graphs.

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>European collaboration breakthrough in developing graphene : News : News + Events : National Physical Laboratory

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A collaborative research project has brought the world a step closer to producing a new material on which future nanotechnology could be based. Researchers across Europe, including NPL, have demonstrated how an incredible material, graphene, could hold the key to the future of high-speed electronics, such as micro-chips and touchscreen technology.

GrapheneGraphene, only one atom thick, climbs terraces on the surface of a silicone carbide substrate. This picture of a graphene device was taken with an atomic force microscope by NPL’s Dr Olga Kazakova Graphene has long shown potential, but has previously only been produced on a very small scale, limiting how well it could be measured, understood and developed. A paper published in Nature Nanotechnology explains how researchers have, for the first time, produced graphene to a size and quality where it can be practically developed and successfully measured its electrical characteristics. These significant breakthroughs overcome two of the biggest barriers to scaling up the technology.

A technology for the future

Graphene is a relatively new form of carbon made up of a single layer of atoms arranged in a honeycomb shaped lattice. Despite being one atom thick and chemically simple, graphene is extremely strong and highly conductive, making it ideal for high-speed electronics, photonics and beyond.

Graphene is a strong candidate to replace semiconductor chips. Moore’s Law observes that the density of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles every two years, but silicon and other existing transistor materials are thought to be close to the minimum size where they can remain effective. Graphene transistors can potentially run at faster speeds and cope with higher temperatures. Graphene could be the solution to ensuring computing technology to continue to grow in power whilst shrinking in size, extending the life of Moore’s law by many years.

Large microchip manufacturers, such as IBM and Intel, have openly expressed interest in the potential of graphene as a material on which future computing could be based.

Graphene also has potential for exciting new innovations such as touchscreen technology, LCD displays and solar cells. Its unparalleled strength and transparency make it perfect for these applications, and its conductivity would offers a dramatic increase in efficiency on existing materials.

Growing to a usable size while maintaining quality

Until now, graphene of sufficient quality has only been produced in the form of small flakes of tiny fractions of a millimeter, using painstaking methods such as peeling layers off graphite crystals with sticky tape. Producing useable electronics requires much larger areas of material to be grown. This project saw researchers, for the first time, produce and successfully operate a large number of electronic devices from a sizable area of graphene layers (approximately 50 mm2).

The graphene sample, was produced epitaxially – a process of growing one crystal layer on another – on silicon carbide. Having such a significant sample not only proves that it can be done in a practical, scalable way, but also allows the scientists to better understand important properties.

Measuring resistance

The second key breakthrough of the project was measuring graphene’s electrical characteristics with unprecedented precision, paving the way for convenient and accurate standards to be established. For products such as transistors in computers to work effectively and be commercially viable, manufacturers must be able to make such measurements with incredible accuracy against an agreed international standard.

The international standard for electrical resistance is provided by the quantum Hall effect, a phenomenon whereby electrical properties in 2D materials can be determined based only on fundamental constants of nature. The effect has, until now, only been demonstrated with sufficient precision in a small number of conventional semiconductors. Furthermore, such measurements need temperatures close to absolute zero, combined with very strong magnetic fields, and only a few specialised laboratories in the world can achieve these conditions.

Graphene was long tipped to provide an even better standard, but samples were inadequate to prove this. By producing samples of sufficient size and quality, and accurately demonstrate Hall resistance, the team proved that graphene has the potential to supersede conventional semiconductors on a mass scale.

Furthermore, graphene shows the quantum Hall effect at much higher temperatures. This means the graphene resistance standard could be used much more widely as more labs can achieve the conditions required for its use. In addition to its advantages of operating speed and durability, this would also speed the production and reduce costs of future electronics technology based on graphene.

NPL’s Professor Alexander Tzalenchuk, and the lead author on the Nature Nanotechnology paper, observes:

“It is truly sensational that a large area of epitaxial graphene demonstrated not only structural continuity, but also the degree of perfection required for precise electrical measurements on par with conventional semiconductors with a much longer development history.”

Where now?

The research team are hoping to go on to demonstrate even more precise measurement, as well as accurate measurement at even higher temperatures. They are currently seeking EU funding to drive this forward.

Dr JT Janssen, an NPL Fellow who worked on the project, said:

“We’ve laid the groundwork for the future of graphene production, and will strive in our ongoing research to provide greater understanding of this exciting material. The challenge for industry in the coming years will be to scale the material up in a practical way to meet new technology demands. We have taken a huge step forward, and once the manufacturing processes are in place, we hope graphene will offer the world a faster and cheaper alternative to conventional semiconductors.”

The research was a joint project carried by the National Physical Laboratory (UK),  Chalmers University of Technology (Göteborg, Sweden), Politecnico di Milano (Italy), Linköping University (Sweden) and Lancaster University (UK).

For for further information, please contact Alexander Tzalenchuk

Find out more about NPL’s research into Quantum Phenomena

Published: 19 Jan 2010

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>Riemann Zeta Function — from Wolfram MathWorld

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Media_httpmathworldwo_admjd

The Riemann zeta function is an extremely important special function of mathematics and physics that arises in definite integration and is intimately related with very deep results surrounding the prime number theorem. While many of the properties of this function have been investigated, there remain important fundamental conjectures (most notably the Riemann hypothesis) that remain unproved to this day. The Riemann zeta function zeta(s) is defined over the complex plane for one complex variable, which is conventionally denoted s (instead of the usual z) in deference to the notation used by Riemann in his 1859 paper that founded the study of this function (Riemann 1859). It is implemented in Mathematica as Zeta[s].

Riemann was THE MAN

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>Prisoner’s dilemma

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The prisoner’s dilemma is a fundamental problem in game theory that demonstrates why two people might not cooperate even if it is in both their best interests to do so. It was originally framed by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher working at RAND in 1950. Albert W. Tucker formalized the game with prison sentence payoffs and gave it the “prisoner’s dilemma” name (Poundstone, 1992).

A classic example of the prisoner’s dilemma (PD) is presented as follows:

Two suspects are arrested by the police. The police have insufficient evidence for a conviction, and, having separated the prisoners, visit each of them to offer the same deal. If one testifies for the prosecution against the other (defects) and the other remains silent (cooperates), the defector goes free and the silent accomplice receives the full 10-year sentence. If both remain silent, both prisoners are sentenced to only six months in jail for a minor charge. If each betrays the other, each receives a five-year sentence. Each prisoner must choose to betray the other or to remain silent. Each one is assured that the other would not know about the betrayal before the end of the investigation. How should the prisoners act?

If we assume that each player cares only about minimizing his or her own time in jail, then the prisoner’s dilemma forms a non-zero-sum game in which two players may each either cooperate with or defect from (betray) the other player. In this game, as in most game theory, the only concern of each individual player (prisoner) is maximizing his or her own payoff, without any concern for the other player’s payoff. The unique equilibrium for this game is a Pareto-suboptimal solution, that is, rational choice leads the two players to both play defect, even though each player’s individual reward would be greater if they both played cooperatively.

In the classic form of this game, cooperating is strictly dominated by defecting, so that the only possible equilibrium for the game is for all players to defect. No matter what the other player does, one player will always gain a greater payoff by playing defect. Since in any situation playing defect is more beneficial than cooperating, all rational players will play defect, all things being equal.

In the iterated prisoner’s dilemma, the game is played repeatedly. Thus each player has an opportunity to punish the other player for previous non-cooperative play. If the number of steps is known by both players in advance, economic theory says that the two players should defect again and again, no matter how many times the game is played. However, this analysis fails to predict the behavior of human players in a real iterated prisoners dilemma situation, and it also fails to predict the optimum algorithm when computer programs play in a tournament. Only when the players play an indefinite or random number of times can cooperation be an equilibrium, technically a subgame perfect equilibrium meaning that both players defecting always remains an equilibrium and there are many other equilibrium outcomes. In this case, the incentive to defect can be overcome by the threat of punishment.

In casual usage, the label “prisoner’s dilemma” may be applied to situations not strictly matching the formal criteria of the classic or iterative games, for instance, those in which two entities could gain important benefits from cooperating or suffer from the failure to do so, but find it merely difficult or expensive, not necessarily impossible, to coordinate their activities to achieve cooperation.

I found this to be fascinating. Yes, I’m a total geek.

Posted via email from Mocha Brain Freeze

>German Tree Wows Visitors by Being Decorated With 9,800 Easter Eggs

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April 11: Luna Lutz visits at a tree with 9,800 Easter eggs at the garden of pensionar couple Christa and Volker Kraft in Saalfeld, Germany.

AP

April 11: Luna Lutz visits at a tree with 9,800 Easter eggs at the garden of pensionar couple Christa and Volker Kraft in Saalfeld, Germany.

SAALFELD, Germany — Volker Kraft’s apple sapling sported just 18 eggs when he first decorated it for Easter in 1965. Decades later, the sturdy tree is festooned with 9,800 eggs, artfully decorated with everything from sequins to sea shells.

Decking trees with hollowed-out, painted eggs for Easter is popular in Germany, but the 75-year-old retiree’s annual creation has become something special. Last year, it drew more than 13,000 visitors.

Kraft needs two weeks and countless trips up and down his ladder to hang the eggs and the task has become a little heavier each year since he began the decorations in 1965.

“I wanted to decorate a tree with Easter eggs for my children,” Kraft said.

Kraft started with plastic eggs. Each year, the project grew; he switched to real eggs and enlisted his three children’s help in blowing out and painting them.

His daughter, Gabriela Rumrich, says she started painting “simple decorations like flowers” aged four and didn’t stop until she was 40. She still remembers her parents’ Easter passion fondly.

“I love my hometown, Saalfeld, and that’s why I started to paint pictures of the city on to the eggs,” she told Associated Press Television News. “First easy ones, then more difficult ones.”

Some of Gabriela’s creations have been retired from the tree and are now kept in glass cases, safe from the wind and birds.

But there are plenty of eye-catching designs in their place: eggs covered in Baltic Sea shells or in elaborate crochet work, or with elaborate patterns drilled in their shells.

Many are the work of Kraft’s wife, Christa, 74, who spends long winter evenings preparing the show.

“I need about one to two hours to crochet one egg depending on the thickness of thread, but also on the amount of beads I use,” she said.

Over the years, word of the Krafts’ tree has spread well beyond Saalfeld, a pretty eastern town of some 27,000 people nestled in the Saale valley.

The eggs now draw visitors from across Germany. The Krafts have responded to demand by making extra eggs each year to sell as souvenirs for about $7.10 each.

But there are limits to Volker Kraft’s ambitions.

He plans to add another 200 eggs next year, bringing his total to 10,000 — and then stop, if only because he’s running out of room to store the mountain of boxes.

Posted via email from Mocha Brain Freeze

>C# Traverse Directory Tree Recursive – Delete empty directories

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using System.IO;

using System.Linq;

namespace DeleteEmptyDirs

{

  internal class Program

  {

    private static void Main(string[] args)

    {

      WalkDirectoryTree(new DirectoryInfo(args[0]));

    }

    private static void WalkDirectoryTree(DirectoryInfo root)

    {

      DirectoryInfo[] subDirs = null;

      if (IsDirectoryEmpty(root.FullName))

        root.Delete();

      else

        subDirs = root.GetDirectories();

      if (subDirs == null)

        return;

      foreach (var dirInfo in subDirs)

        WalkDirectoryTree(dirInfo);

    }

    public static bool IsDirectoryEmpty(string path)

    {

      return !Directory.EnumerateFileSystemEntries(path).Any();

    }

  }

}

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>Google Hacks

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Manipulate the google engine by using it to locate mp3 files online as well as some free software, and more! Using Google, and some finely crafted searches we can find a lot of interesting information.

For Example we can find:
Passwords
Software / MP3′s
etc.

Presented below is just a sample of interesting searches that we can send to google to obtain info. After you get a taste using some of these, try your own crafted searches to find info that you would be interested in.

Try a few of these searches:

intitle:”Index of” passwords modified
allinurl:auth_user_file.txt
“access denied for user” “using password”
“A syntax error has occurred” filetype:ihtml
allinurl: admin mdb
“ORA-00921: unexpected end of SQL command”
inurl:passlist.txt
“Index of /backup”
“Chatologica MetaSearch” “stack tracking:”

And these:

“parent directory ” /appz/ -xxx -html -htm -php -shtml -opendivx -md5 -md5sums
“parent directory ” DVDRip -xxx -html -htm -php -shtml -opendivx -md5 -md5sums
“parent directory “Xvid -xxx -html -htm -php -shtml -opendivx -md5 -md5sums
“parent directory ” Gamez -xxx -html -htm -php -shtml -opendivx -md5 -md5sums
“parent directory ” MP3 -xxx -html -htm -php -shtml -opendivx -md5 -md5sums
“parent directory ” Name of Singer or album -xxx -html -htm -php -shtml -
opendivx -md5 -md5sums

Notice that I am only changing the word after the parent directory, change it to what you want and you will get a lot of stuff.

METHOD 2

put this string in google search:
intitle:index.of mp3
You only need add the name of the song/artist/singer. Example: intitle:index.of mp3 jackson

METHOD 3

put this string in google search:
inurl:microsoft filetype:iso
You can change the string to watever you want, ex. microsoft to adobe, iso to
zip etc…

“AutoCreate=TRUE password=*”
This searches the password for “Website Access Analyzer”, a Japanese software that creates webstatistics. For those who can read Japanese, check out the
author’s site at: coara.or.jp/~passy/ [coara.or.jp/~passy/]

“http://*:*@www” domainname
This is a query to get inline passwords from search engines (not just Google),
you must type in the query followed with the the domain name without the .com
or .net

Another way is by just typing
“http://bob:bob@www”

“sets mode: +k”
This search reveals channel keys (passwords) on IRC as revealed from IRC chat
logs.

allinurl: admin mdb
Not all of these pages are administrator’s access databases containing
usernames, passwords and other sensitive information, but many are!

allinurl:auth_user_file.txt
DCForum’s password file. This file gives a list of (crackable) passwords,
usernames and email addresses for DCForum and for DCShop (a shopping cart
program(!!!). Some lists are bigger than others, all are fun, and all belong to
googledorks. =)

intitle:”Index of” config.php
This search brings up sites with “config.php” files. To skip the technical
discussion, this configuration file contains both a username and a password for
an SQL database. Most sites with forums run a PHP message base. This file gives
you the keys to that forum, including FULL ADMIN access to the database.

eggdrop filetype:user user
These are eggdrop config files. Avoiding a full-blown descussion about eggdrops
and IRC bots, suffice it to say that this file contains usernames and passwords
for IRC users.

Posted via email from Mocha Brain Freeze