Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2009

Superman vs Alien

Sometimes, it's not so bad when franchises collide:

I still rate Predator would whip Superman. Predator is the sickest alien out there.

Bayesian Analysis: To probably be, or probably not be, depending on something else's probability

That man of science, Urikalish, loves to torment us superstitious, intuitive mortals who adore the Secret and the Law of Attraction with logic. This is his latest riddle:

Urikalish's Riddle
Let’s assume there’s a deadly disease that affects 1 in every 10 people.

Let's say there’s a pretty good test for this disease which is 90% accurate (that means that if a person is sick – the test will say he’s sick in 90% of the cases, and if a person is healthy – the test will say he’s healthy in 90% of the cases).

Now, assuming you took this 90% accurate test, and got a positive result that implies that you are sick - what are the odds that you are really sick?

Bayes's Theorem
The key to solving this riddle is Bayes's Theorem. Don't ask me why. I'm an elitist and I don't need to explain myself to the likes of you. Especially when I have no idea what I'm talking about.

P(A|B): This is the probability of A, given B. This is what you are looking for. This is the posterior o…

How to remove toolbars

Toolbars really annoy the manure out of me. It is simply poor interface design to have some junk from your previous page hover over your next page. Upon navigating to a new page, the user expectancy is to see a new page, not clutter from the old page.

Why toolbars are bad
Jakob Nielsen is the guru of user interface design. He offers some heuristics to guide interface design, which make the peasant user experience much more pleasant. You may cast an eye on that list and see for yourself how many heuristics are ignored because some social networking Mafia wants to spam your browser. Tsk, tsk, social networking sites. David Bowie is very disappointed in you.

How to make toolbars go away
Yet one of the most useful heuristics I've learnt from real-life is that there are two ways to solve a problem: the political way and the technical way. The political way to make toolbars go away is to grovel and beg the social networking Mafia until they make the toolbar disappear. The technical way is j…

Herzbot: A prototype music recommender

Herzbot is a music recommender application on Facebook. This is the prototype:

Find Herzbot on Facebook.

The prototype uses a combination of collaborative filtering and a novel way to model social context I thought up to make music recommendations to you.

How does it work?
Herzbot constructs a profile for you and other Herzbot users. These profiles are then compared to give you recommendations from similar profiles. This is how ordinary collaborative filtering recommendations work. Herzbot also asks you for a few elite friends, which is your social context. This makes Herzbot unique. Your profile is constructed as follows:

You give Herzbot the name of one of your favourite artists and it gets a list of similar artists that you rate on a scale of 0 to 100%. Herzbot uses the Echo Nest API to get similar bands.
Then, you pick your elite friends who you think have more influence on your music taste than your ordinary Facebook contacts. Herzbot then constructs a profile for you. This is the only…