Posts Tagged ‘Current Affairs’

Infographic: How To Have A Rational Discussion

21 Mar

Via Brandon Scott Gorrell @ Thought Catalog


The richness of nothingness

15 Dec

Statisticians investigate data, and it may seem like missing data should be ignored since no data means no analysis, right? Well, in practice, it turns out that the knowledge that data is missing is very powerful, and statisticians are, in fact, always wary of missingness.

Dailykosbloomberg A reader pointed me to Daily Kos for another chart which I'll eventually talk about -- but I got waylaid by this one (shown on the right), depicting the relative proportions of favorable and unfavorable ratings for a set of political players.

The data is simple, and the chart is sufficient although I'd avoid the blue/red coloring which connotes party affiliation in American politics. The graph also fails our self-sufficiency test.

But really, the big problem with this chart is not on the page. Alert readers might realize that very few people (in fact, only just over half) have an opinion of John Boehner.

In the following version, the proportion of missing/no opinion/don't know is plotted right beside favorables and unfavorables, revealing that this proportion ranges wildly from only 4% for Obama and Bush to 48% for Boehner.

Redo_fav1 This is one data set which makes stacked bar charts look better than they typically are. The two main categories of favorable and unfavorable can be stacked to the sides so that they can individually be compared. The middle part, which represents missing data, will usually not provide much information but in this dataset, the gaping blank space makes us think about how we should treat the missing data.

In this chart, we give equal weight to those who have an opinion and those who don't.


Alternatively, we could ignore the people with no opinion, and look at the proportion of favorables and unfavorables among those who have an opinion. There is a danger in doing this because as seen above, the large proportion of don't knows would be hidden from view, and in the case of Boehner, and even for Pelosi and Tea Party, the amount of missing raises interesting questions: have people not heard of these players? are they afraid of providing an opinion? are they conflicted? etc.

Here is the alternative view, in which I have added a couple of comments to highlight things that otherwise would have been missed. One notable feature is that the respondents in this survey essentially view most of these players in similar light (40-50% favorable), as I don't see the differences in the center of the chart as meaningful.




Lab tests: Why Consumer Reports can’t recommend the iPhone 4

12 Jul
Lab test: Apple iPhone 4 design defect confirmed

[UPDATE July 14, 2010: We've also tested another remedy to the iPhone's antenna issue. See: Apple's Bumper case alleviates the iPhone 4 signal-loss problem. —Ed.]

[UPDATE JULY 13, 2010: We’ve received many comments and questions regarding this blog post. See our latest post: Why Apple—and not its customers—should fix the iPhone 4. —Ed.]

It's official. Consumer Reports' engineers have just completed testing the iPhone 4, and have confirmed that there is a problem with its reception. When your finger or hand touches a spot on the phone's lower left side—an easy thing, especially for lefties—the signal can significantly degrade enough to cause you to lose your connection altogether if you're in an area with a weak signal. Due to this problem, we can't recommend the iPhone 4.

We reached this conclusion after testing all three of our iPhone 4s (purchased at three separate retailers in the New York area) in the controlled environment of CU's radio frequency (RF) isolation chamber. In this room, which is impervious to outside radio signals, our test engineers connected the phones to our base-station emulator, a device that simulates carrier cell towers (see video: IPhone 4 Design Defect Confirmed). We also tested several other AT&T phones the same way, including the iPhone 3G S and the Palm Pre. None of those phones had the signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4.

Our findings call into question the recent claim by Apple that the iPhone 4's signal-strength issues were largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software that "mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength."

The tests also indicate that AT&T's network might not be the primary suspect in the iPhone 4's much-reported signal woes.

Apple iPhone 4 antenna problem solution tape
One solution to the Apple iPhone 4's antenna
problem is to cover the lower left corner with tape.

We did, however, find an affordable solution for suffering iPhone 4 users: Cover the antenna gap with a piece of duct tape or another thick, non-conductive material. It may not be pretty, but it works. We also expect that using a case would remedy the problem. We'll test a few cases this week and report back.

The signal problem is the reason that we did not cite the iPhone 4 as a "recommended" model, even though its score in our other tests placed it atop the latest Ratings of smart phones that were released today.

The iPhone scored high, in part because it sports the sharpest display and best video camera we've seen on any phone, and even outshines its high-scoring predecessors with improved battery life and such new features as a front-facing camera for video chats and a built-in gyroscope that turns the phone into a super-responsive game controller. But Apple needs to come up with a permanent—and free—fix for the antenna problem before we can recommend the iPhone 4.

[UPDATE: Some commentary suggests we've retracted an earlier recommendation of the iPhone 4. In fact, our first blog on the iPhone 4's performance, and a followup comparing it to the Motorola Droid X, were based on preliminary testing, as we stated. Those earlier tests did not address antenna performance. We recommend products only after all tests are complete, and as part of our full smart phone Ratings. —Paul Reynolds]

If you want an iPhone that works well without a masking-tape fix, we continue to recommend an older model, the 3G S. (The full list of recommended smart phones models appears as part of our latest Ratings, available to subscribers.)

—Mike Gikas