All Things Techie With Huge, Unstructured, Intuitive Leaps

The Dark Side of Big Data

There is a dark side to big data.  It is personal privacy.  There are obvious privacy risks for the accidental or intended disclosure of collected "hard", personal data, but to my way of thinking the real danger is from derived or predictive data using mathematical constructs like Bayesian Inference and other tools.  Using large datasets, these tools are melded into business intelligence cubes that work wonders in improving the bottom line, but violate privacy in a fundamental way in the sense that they are predicting human behaviors based on inferential probability, that may have a large degree of error in individual cases, yet are useful enough on a macro scale to improve the bottom line.  A good example of this are credit scores.  Just because 80 percent of people employing action A with action B tend to default on loans 55 percent more than people who do not exhibit those behaviors, doesn't mean that the entire population demographic will default, yet they are judged as if they all will.

The real danger of this predictive stuff comes from aggregators who combine predictive data with actual personal data and sell it to other companies.  Judgements will made that may be untrue, but may result in denial of things like college entrance, handgun ownership, club memberships, professional certifications, career choices (suppose that you are of a certain height and the data says that people of that height do not do well in a particular professional sport.  Yet we all know stories of the little guy who could.) and other life events where some sort of body has authority over certain aspects of our lives. 

One of the current thrusts of Big Data, is to find non-intuitive behavioral predictors.  For example we have heard of Target Department Stores sending pregnancy coupons to a 15 year old girl.  Her parents threw a fit, until they discovered that their daughter was actually pregnant.  Target figured it out using probabilities and finding a correlation of beauty products and vitamins leading to buying pregnancy stuff five months later in a certain demographic.  Supermarkets have long known to put beer and diapers together on a Saturday, and it results in a large increase in sales. (Wife sends hubby to store for diapers, but the big game will be on later on in the weekend and the hubbies buddies are coming over.)  All this is fine and dandy because it happens on an anonymous level, but when this sort of predictive stuff is applied with identifying data, it could become dangerous.

What is a CIO or CTO to do?  To my way of thinking, the chief responsibility is to management, shareholders and the bottom line, and not to the privacy of the masses.  Business is the last venue of civilized men for uncivilized warfare, and as a result, I am predicting a further erosion of privacy from Big Data.  It is a force majeure, an unstoppable tsunami of assaults against our privacy that will rival any effort of the NSA or any other organization intent on cataloging the behaviors of the masses.

Form not visible in task bar

When you support old code, you get a lot of surprises and you learn a lot of things.  I had a client tell me that one of the forms windows written in Visual Studio with C# needed its own window.  I didn't understand what he meant.  He kept saying that when he switched between apps, he couldn't find a certain form on the C# app.  When pressed further as to the problem, it turned out that when he hovered over the app in the task bar, if he had different forms open, one was not visible in the task bar.  This required some investigation.

As it turns out, there is a Form property which is a boolean.  It is called Form.ShowInTaskbar.

So when I added the following line to the constructor, everything was fixed:

this.ShowInTaskbar = true;

I still don't know what was turning it off, but the explicit assignment fixed the problem.

Hope this helps someone.

Five Common Mistakes That Cause a Web Design Project To Fail

Here are 5 common mistakes that cause website design to go off the rails and the project to fail in its intentions, goals and objectives:

1) Not hiring brand designers to develop the image, brand and message.   When you give this job to the  web developers instead of hiring communications and marketing experts, you are on the road to failure with your website.  Web design and branding are two different skill sets.

2) The same goes for content written by the web developers.  Content should always be written by subject matter experts.

3) Trying to be hip or cutting edge where it is not called for.  If you are appealing to a conservative audience, you do not want your website to look like it is a advertisement for Grand Theft Auto.  A culturally inappropriate website design  destroys your value proposition and loses customers.

4) Features that don't work.  This is my biggest pet peeve.  I went to the Home Depot website and searched for reverse osmosis filters.  I knew that they had them, I just wanted to do a price comparison.  The on-site search engine gave me results for everything but that.  I finally gave up.

5) No story boards or navigation planning.  Do an ad hoc websites results in spaghetti navigation.  To logically get your message across, you must have a logical plan instead of links that take you everywhere that distract the reader from your value proposition and buy message.  Excess linking and navigation dead ends just make the surfer hit the home button and leave your page quickly.

The goals and objectives of your web design should be stated clearly before any design work is done.  From those, you create a requirements document and a brand design.  The next step is the coding and then the quality control should happen before your website goes live.

SWT Dialog To Front

I am working in org.eclipse.swt Java.  I create a dialog box.  The app was full screen and I didn't have any minimize corners on the screen.  I created a password dialog with code using the following:

PasswordDialog dialog = new PasswordDialog(new Shell());

When I ran the code, the main window was up front the the dialog was behind it. I knew this because the only way that I could see it, was with a task manager.

What to do?  I searched for a .toFront() method to no avail.  Finally I happened on the SWT.ON_TOP integer to use in the constructor, like this:

PasswordDialog dialog = new PasswordDialog(new Shell(SWT.ON_TOP));

Worked like a charm.  Hope this helps someone.

Java SWT Dialog won't open

I created a jface dialog with SWT.  When I tried to run it, everything was fine until I called a "".

I got the following error:

Exception in thread "main" java.lang.NoClassDefFoundError: org/eclipse/core/commands/common/EventManager

The fix was simple.  I went to this website:

and I downloaded the commands.jar.


download :

md5 hash : e762e07da9f9b4937d119c9800598a8f
size : 103384 bytes

I added the jar to the project and worked like a charm.  Hope this helps someone.

Samsung Galaxy Tablet Won't Turn Off, Won't Turn Off, Charging Icon Shown

I had the Samsung Galaxy tablet hooked up to the charger and plugged into the wall.  Left it there for a day or two.  Went to use it today.  It wouldn't turn off.  It wouldn't turn on.  Nothing. Nada.  All that the screen showed, was the charging view or charging icon.  But it was stuck.  It looked like the tablet was hung.

Obviously pressing the power switch didn't work.  I googled but nothing jumped out at me.  I pressed the power button and huge volume button next to the power button, and held them down for 10 seconds.  To my surprise, the charging icon disappeared.

Then I pressed the power button again and held it momentarily.  The thing booted.

I hope this helps someone.

C# .NET Textbox GotFocus Event

When one Googles to find out sample code for a C# .Net textbox gotFocus() event, the first few search results are not that explicit.  So without further ado, here is a sample:

In the Form_Load method:

textBox2.GotFocus += new System.EventHandler(this.textBox2_GotFocus);

And then in the body of the form class you create this method:

private void textBox2_GotFocus(Object sender, EventArgs e)
          //  do something here

Hope this helps someone.

Google Blogger Problem: You have logged out from another location. Do you want to log in again

Today, I had difficulty with my blogs and Google Blogger.  I would click on a blog to edit a comment that I received and from my Blogger dashboard, the page would load, but after the header I would get this error:

You have logged out from another location. Do you want to log in again

When I clicked yes, it opened a new window, and I got the same deal, all the while saying that I was logged in, but the popup box telling me that I wasn't.  My google account at YouTube worked and my Gmail worked, so it was a head-scratcher.

 After searching fruitlessly to report this to Google, I found that there is no direct way to contact Google by email.  After a long more useless link clicking, I came upon the Blogger forum.  It turns out that I was not alone.

Yesterday, the community forum guy from Google said to log in using httpS at  I kept missing the httpS and just tried logging in using http.  ie go to and log in.  I did and all was working again after trying intermittently all day.  What a royal pain.

So, do a secure login with https at  It works, because I am posting this now and I couldn't get to my blogs at all today.

Hope this helps. seems to be down

Hmmm, something is not right with twitpic.  Yesterday, I uploaded a pic to Twitter, and it didn't automagically update my tweets.  I deleted it from twitpic, tried it again and it worked.  However the media thumbnail doesn't appear on twitter homepage.  Today, I went to do the same thing, upload a pic, and I got this error.  Something seems to be wrong with twitpic.

Killing Application With Escape Key in .NET C#

So, you are a C# weenie and you want to kill your Forms Application by hitting the escape key.  It's as easy as pie.

In the forms load method, put in the following two lines:

this.KeyPreview = true;
this.KeyDown += new KeyEventHandler(Form1_KeyDown);

Then create the KeyDown method:

private void Form1_KeyDown(object sender, KeyEventArgs e)
             if (e.KeyCode == Keys.Escape)

Hope this helps.