18 4 / 2014

“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” — Isaiah 60:1-2

“Our Lord has written the promise of the resurrection, not in books alone but in every leaf in springtime.” — Martin Luther

“We may say that on the first Good Friday afternoon was completed that great act by which light conquered darkness and goodness conquered sin. That is the wonder of our Saviour’s crucifixion.”
- Phillips Brooks

“The cross was two pieces of dead wood; and a helpless, unresisting Man was nailed to it; yet it was mightier than the world, and triumphed, and will ever triumph over it.”
- Augustus William Hare

18 4 / 2014

A great reminder from Susan Cain to go off into the wilderness occasionally and have some revelations. (Yes, even as an extrovert.) 

14 4 / 2014

#cake #nofilter #passover #glutenfree #raspberries #chocolate #butter #eggs #sugar #thatsit  (at California Embassy)

#cake #nofilter #passover #glutenfree #raspberries #chocolate #butter #eggs #sugar #thatsit (at California Embassy)

14 4 / 2014

"‘Framework’ is one of our favorite words. It’s like ‘ecosystem.’ It can mean everything and yet nothing."

Matthew Scholl, deputy chief of NIST’s computer security division, at the 2014 Symantec Government Symposium in Washington, D.C.

11 4 / 2014

11 4 / 2014

"Kids see that the admit rates are brutal and dropping, and it looks more like a crapshoot,” he said. “So they send more apps, which forces the colleges to lower their admit rates, which spurs the kids next year to send even more apps."

10 4 / 2014

Qualcomm, LG, the Linux Foundation, and a whole team of heavy-hitters in the Internet of things world are coming together and forming an alliance. Thrilling Star Wars terminology aside, the AllSeen Alliance, as it’s called, will take on the monumental, innovation-accelerating task of creating and maintaining unified standards for device-to-device communication. That’s a mouthful. Here’s what it really means: You will have a smarter fridge next year rather than in 2020 — all because your fridge and your TV and the APIs they run on will share a common brain.

10 4 / 2014

26 3 / 2014

As part of President Obama’s review of Big Data and privacy, the White House has declared, “We want to hear your opinion” and posted a simple online poll to get it. The Marketing Research Association (MRA) is pleased that the White House grasps some of the value of survey, opinion and marketing research based on their launch of this online survey effort. However, questionnaire design is crucial to the quality of the insights you can garner from any research, and these questions are lacking. Questions about feelings toward data collection, etc., are devoid of context. Purpose matters: If someone is collecting your data for research, which aggregates the information to learn about groups, that is very different from collecting your data for purposes of spying on you, the individual, for national security or law enforcement. In addition to the different purposes of data collection and use, no mention is made of the costs and benefits to consumers and citizens. Not only does the White House appear to ignore the importance of how data is used, it also appears to ignore the difference between the uses of data by different government agencies. The purposes of IRS data collection— normally for help in collecting taxes owed by individuals— are extremely different from the Census Bureau, which needs to collect individuals’ data in order to learn about groups of Americans. Moreover, while some government agencies regularly leak data like a sieve, the Census Bureau is the only government agency we know of that has never suffered a data breach, is a world leader in data confidentiality and is statutorily forbidden from sharing personally identifiable information with anyone else. The White House website prefaces the survey by saying:,“This is a complicated issue that affects every American—and we want to hear your feedback.” However, the White House appears not to care about whether the input they are gathering actually comes from Americans or U.S. residents, versus anyone in the rest of the world, since there is no screening process or even questions about residency or citizenship. Of course, the White House’s effort is obviously not a scientific survey since no effort is being made to sample respondents. Any agency that tried to run data collection this way would be unlikely to ever receive approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) because of flawed design, but OMB answers to the White House and not vice versa. Serious research requires industry-standard design and controls to ensure quality. Without these in place, the results are guaranteed to be inaccurate and of little to no value. The White House could instead utilize in-house Census Bureau talent, and a wide range of talented research professionals in the private sector, to make this effort worthwhile and in the best interests of all concerned, including the national interest.

24 3 / 2014

China’s central bank said on Monday it may amend proposed limits on payments through mobile phones in an apparent response to a backlash from Internet firms and consumers. The People’s Bank of China said in an interview with the official Xinhua News Agency that it had released draft rules but there were only a “working paper” submitted to various firms in the online payment business. It said these were meant to address business risks but it didn’t elaborate. The central bank had not previously admitted that it was planning such curbs though local media have widely reported the contents of the draft rules. The interview was posted on the central bank’s website. E-commerce and online payment company Alibaba Group has acknowledged that the central bank had released a draft of the rules and that the plan called for limits on mobile payments of 10,000 yuan ($1,630) a year and 1,000 yuan on a single fund transfer by an individual. The rise of the online financial products is also a test of how well the central bank can regulate bank-like entities that attract billions in consumer deposits. Though billed as innovative new finance products, the exact risk they could pose in a downturn is unknown, and many economists have said the central bank is right to take a cautious approach to regulating the products. At the same time other analysts have argued that the central bank’s move to regulate mobile payments is in part a bid to defend against the threat smartphone transactions pose against China UnionPay, a payments processing company owned by the central bank—which has a monopoly of processing yuan-denominated transactions using debit and credit cards in China, a position the company has zealously guarded. Local media have reported there also is a 5,000 yuan limit on payments by mobile phone for a single purchase and a 10,000 yuan cap a month. Reports of the draft regulations have unnerved investors and consumers alike as Chinese shoppers increasingly turn to making payments with their mobile phones. If carried out, the rules would also hurt Internet companies’ ability to process payments. The central bank said it would revise the caps if consumers believe they are not reasonable. In recent years, Chinese tech firms have been growing beyond their online stronghold into the turf of the state-dominated financial sector. With the aid of innovative technology, tech firms’ online products and services have become increasingly popular with tech-savvy Chinese consumers. But over the past two weeks, the central bank has taken a series of surprise measures to rein in some of this fast-growing business. In addition to releasing the draft rules on mobile phone payment caps, it has temporarily suspended online payments using QR codes — which enable fast recognition of transactions—and virtual credit cards. It has also suggested that online investment products could be forced to hold reserves on funds they attract — much like banks on their deposits. The central bank reiterated in the statement to Xinhua that it still encourages innovation and development of Internet finance. It said the suspension of online payment using QR codes and virtual credit cards is temporary and it will allow the relaunch these services once related security measures are in place. With regard to wildly-popular Internet financial services, the central bank said these should avoid bringing “intense volatility” to the financial market as this could increase funding costs for the real economy and affect bank liquidity. By offering higher-return investment products online, tech companies like Alibaba and Tencent Inc. TCEHY 0.54% have attracted tens of billions of dollars in funds. The success of these online investment products have drawn complaints from banks which proposed that online funds should be made to hold reserves, just like their banking rivals. The central bank said in the latest statement that both online and offline financial services should be subject to the same rules and laws. —Grace Zhu