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Justification of Ockham’s Razor as a principle of reasoning

By | All Blog Posts, Information Visualiation, Philosophy, Science | 16 Comments

Scientists use the principle of Ockham’s Razor as their guide. Ockham’s Razor states that when there are multiple consistent theories are being considered, the choice should be the simplest one. Simple theories have an intuitive appeal, but that is not a justification of Ockham’s Razor as a principle of reasoning. A justification should demonstrate that preferring the simplest compatible theory is better at finding the truth than any other competing strategy.

This article does a good job with great cartoons of explaining why this principle is valid. Very insightful. Here’s the link.

Update: here is an animated older version. The link above goes to the version 2 story board which has not been animated.

The Ron Paul Tea Party – Liberty is Brewing

By | All Blog Posts, Philosophy, Politics, Thoughts | One Comment

On Dec 16, on the 234th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party – Ron Paul organizers (if you don’t know who he is watch this) want you to donate to the Ron Paul Presidential Campaign. They are to create what they call a money bomb – the largest single day fund raiser in history in order to get the national media to take him seriously. It is amazing to see how dedicated his supporters are. With little coordination they have created an internet phenomenon. Good luck guys.

Download a backup of wikipedia to your laptop or local lan

By | All Blog Posts, Hacks, Web Design, Web Software | 8 Comments

Yesterday I downloaded Wikipedia – All of 2,120,684 English articles of it are now on my hard drive.
A few stats for the curious (for the English version only):

  • Date of last edit: April 2007 (A September backup is still in progress)
  • Compressed size: 7.19 GB
  • Number of files compressed: 9
  • Number of files decompressed: millions
  • Decompressed size: ~100 GB
  • Time to download: 8 hours
  • Time to decompress: 10 hours

Why on earth would you do this?

  • The more versions of Wikipedia exist in the world, the less the chance it will get lost if something really depressing happens
  • Having a local version means you can look things up offline
  • Local versions can be used in corporate firewalls to give users access without granting full access to the web
  • Local files can be parced by scripts to create reports and study the structure, trends, and patterns
  • umm..its cool…do I really need a reason to want all the world’s collective knowledge on my laptop

Most people interested in this won’t have any problem downloading the compressed files. But few people have 100 GB free on their laptop. If you decompress the files to an external usb hard drive, it can take 30 hours per file (multiply times 9 files). Still, that is not too bad. You can buy 2.5″ laptop drives now that have 300gb and 3.5″ drives that are 1000 GB. The only problem is that decompressing the time it takes (10+ hours!)

Wikipedia is growing…fast.
Last year (Dec 2006) total compressed size of the English version was version only 5.8 GB. By April 2007 (just 4 months later) it was 7.2 GB (this is the version I downloaded). I am waiting to see what the September version will be. How fast is Wikipedia growing? It is hard to say. The last stats I found are for July 2006 but it was definitely on an exponential curve.

Google Trends API coming soon

By | All Blog Posts, Google, Hacks, Web Software | No Comments

Google is planning to release an application programming interface for its Google Trends program, according to Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google. She also said the company would make it possible to download data from Google Trends into spreadsheets. Mayer said she couldn’t provide a time frame for either action.

Google trends has become an valuable tool for me in comparing the popularity of everything from HDTV sets, websites, software, and presidential candidates to vacation spots. I can’t wait to see what kind of mash-ups the web community creates.

Eat fruit, lose weight

By | All Blog Posts, Hacks | 56 Comments

Here is a list of foods that burn more calories than they contain. Called negative calorie foods, the following 15 treats actual require more calories to digest than they provide your body in energy. You still get vitamins and plenty of fiber. Up until I saw this list, the only one I knew about was celery. However this is also highly dependent on the speed of your metabolism. Putting these foods together is called a Negative Calorie Diet. Take for example – an orange, which may contain 50 calories, but requires 75 calories to digest. So for every orange you eat, you should burn off 25 calories. This is why advocates of the Negative Calorie Diet encourage you to eat frequent healthy meals, in doing so you are actually increasing the speed of your metabolism.

The Negative Calorie diet – Against:

  • No scientific proof to confirm its effectiveness
  • Very little information surrounding diet
  • More theoretical than practical

The Negative Calorie diet – For:

  • Little effort involved
  • Promotes consumption of foods rich in vitamins and minerals
  • Increases the body’s metabolism

Foods on the list – it seems like practically every fruit and vegetable can be found on one of the many lists.

  • Celery
  • Oranges, Tangerines, Grapefruit, Lemons
  • Mangos
  • Onions
  • Lettuce
  • Strawberries
  • Carrots
  • Apricots
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Watermelon
  • Cauliflower
  • Apples
  • Hot Chili Peppers
  • Zucchini