, on January 27, 2012

Inspired by If You Could Master All the Data in the World…


, , , , on December 18, 2010

Google Ngram Viewer shows that “fuck” used to be a lot more common in books during the 1700s and has only recently started to make a comeback. The reason for this is that there used to be common usage of the long s (ſ) in place of a normal s at the start or middle of words. One result of this is “suck” appearing to be “fuck” to Google’s character recognition software.
As a reddit commenter posts, this can be seen even more clearly when viewing suck, fuck, suckle, and fuckle plotted together. Notice that fuck takes the place of suck and fuckle the place of suckle, despite fuckle not even being a word.
[via reddit]

Benford's Law

, on October 14, 2010

A subject of fascination to mathematicians, Benford’s law states that for many sets of numbers, the first or “leading” digit of each number is not random. Instead, there is a 30.1 per cent chance that a number’s leading digit is a 1. Progressively higher leading digits get increasingly unlikely, and a number has just a 4.6 per cent chance of beginning with a 9.
NewScientist article

The NewScientist article, linked above, introduced me to Benford’s Law, which is just ridiculous at first glance. Apparently it is a natural consequence of normal distribution data spanning at least a few magnitudes (R.M. Fewster, A Simple Explanation of Benford’s Law). One application of the law is keeping it in mind when analyzing data and looking for forgeries. How do you think the phenomenon would differ in other bases?

Find Big Mail

, , on October 13, 2010

Find Big Mail is a service that finds the items in your Gmail account that take up a disproportionately large amount of space. I was really excited to try it out and get some nice pie graphs, but when it completed I realized that the largest, “Ultra Big Mail” is only >2mb. How is that useful? I’m not going to delete all of my 265 emails over 2mb in size. It needs to be more customizable in the way it bins the email sizes. After they do that, then you can try it out. Until then, don’t click the link.
[via Lifehacker]

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