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Stats

Scientific Papers With Shorter Titles Get More Citations 85

sciencehabit writes: Articles with shorter titles tend to get cited more often than those with longer headers, concludes a study published today, which examined 140,000 papers published between 2007 and 2013. It appears in the journal Royal Society Open Science. Citations are a key currency in the academic world. The number of times other researchers cite a scientist’s work is often an important metric in hiring and workplace evaluations. Citations also play a role in determining a journal’s place in the scholarly pecking order, with journals that publish more highly cited papers earning a higher “impact factor” (although many critics challenge that measure).
Google

Google's Project Sunroof Tells You How Well Solar Would Work On Your Roof 105

An anonymous reader writes: Google's Project Sunroof aims to make the task of installing solar panels easier by providing financial advice and stats on what solar energy could do for you. The project is only available in San Francisco, Boston, and Fresno for now. Techcrunch reports: "To get started, you simply plug in your address and some data about your monthly electricity bill, and the tool will tell you what the recommended solar installation size is and how much it would cost to buy or lease the hardware. In case you want to go ahead with a solar install, the tool also lets you reach out to local solar providers. Google says these listings are sponsored, so chances are it'll get a bit of a kickback when it generates a sales lead for these companies."
Businesses

Data-Crunching Could Kill Your Downtime At Work 170

An anonymous reader writes: How many of you are reading this at work? One of the unspoken perks of many white collar jobs is that you can waste time while still appearing productive. Workplaces are aware that this goes on, and they police it to some extent by blocking Facebook or simply looking over your shoulder — but there's only so much they can do. The new generation of workplace analytics software is starting to change that. "Employers of all types — old-line manufacturers, nonprofits, universities, digital start-ups and retailers — are using an increasingly wide range of tools to monitor workers' efforts, help them focus, cheer them on and just make sure they show up on time." This inevitably leads to the question: does cracking the whip more often actually increase productivity? To hear the makers of this software tell it, the value is almost limitless, and it will never be misused to micromanage your job. But the article lacks any independent support for that idea, and I'm sure many of you could provide examples where time-keeping software has only been a hindrance.
United States

Georgia Aquarium Battles Federal Government Over Belugas 90

An anonymous reader writes: The Georgia Aquarium has argued in court that the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's denial of its permit to import beluga whales from Russia was arbitrary and capricious. The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service says the aquarium failed to meet the requirements of a law meant to protect marine mammals. Both sides accuse the other of twisting the facts, a NOAA lawyer accuses the aquarium trying "to confuse the court," and a lawyer for the aquarium says the government had "cooked the books" on whale population numbers.
Classic Games (Games)

Interviews: Game Designer Steve Jackson Answers Your Questions 38

A while ago you had the chance to ask Steve Jackson, founder and editor-in-chief of Steve Jackson Games, about the numerous games he's created, his efforts to digitize those games, and what to do when the Secret Service shows up at your office. Below you will find his answers to your questions.
The Internet

ARIN IPv4 Addresses Run Out Tomorrow 215

jcomeau_ictx provided that teaser of a headline, but writes: Not really. But the countdown at tunnelbroker.net should go to zero sometime tomorrow around noon, considering it's at 45,107 as I write this, it's counting down about one address every two seconds, and there are 86,400 seconds per day. Just happened to notice it today. Might be worth a little celebration at every NOC and IT enterprise tomorrow.
Advertising

Google Studies How Bad Interstitials Are On Mobile 259

An anonymous reader writes: A Google study of their own Google+ site and app found that 69% of visitors abandoned the page when presented with the app interstitial. Google said it was getting rid of them and asked others to do the same. TechCrunch reports: "It's worth noting that Google's study was small scale, since the company was only looking at how an interstitial promoting the Google+ social service native app performed (and we don't know how many people it surveyed). It may very well be the case that visitors really didn't want the Google+ app specifically — and that Google+ itself is skewing the data. (Sadly Google is not offering comparative stats with, say, the Gmail app interstitial, so we can but speculate.)"
Science

The Science and Politics Behind Colony Collapse Disorder; Is the Crisis Over? 174

iONiUM writes: An article at the Globe and Mail claims that there is no longer any Honeybee crises, and that the deaths of the Honeybees previously was a one-off, or possibly non-cyclical occurrence (caused by neonics or nature — the debate is still out). The data used is that from Stats Canada which claims "the number of honeybee colonies is at a record high [in Canada]." Globally, the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization says that "worldwide bee populations have rebounded to a record high." The story reports: "I have great news for honey lovers everywhere. The Canadian honeybee industry is thriving. Despite those headlines about mass die-offs and and killer pesticides, the number of honeybee colonies is at a record high. Last year, according to Statistics Canada, nearly 700,000 honeybee colonies produced $200-million worth of honey. Bee survival rates have rebounded even in Ontario, which was hard hit by unusually high winter die-offs."
Businesses

Silicon Valley Still Wrestling With Diversity Issues 398

An anonymous reader writes: As major tech companies come under increased scrutiny over the diversity of their workforces, many of them are focusing solely on the "pipeline" of workers educated in a computer-related field. They're pouring resources into getting kids to code, setting up internships, and even establishing mentoring programs for underrepresented groups. But experts say they're still failing to root out their own internal biases when making hiring decisions. "That bias shows up in recruiting, with companies drawing from the same top universities, where black and Hispanic graduates are still lagging behind other groups. ... The problem is particularly acute at start-ups, where black founders are just 1 percent of venture-invested firms, according to a 2011 survey by CB Insights." The tech companies are under mounting pressure to solve this problem, and the solutions they're pursuing won't show results quickly.
Medicine

Study: Living Near Fracking Correlates With Increased Hospital Visits 132

New submitter Michael Tiemann writes: An article published in PLOS One finds increased hospital admissions significantly correlate with living in the same zip code as active fracking sites. The data comes from three counties in Pennsylvania, whose zip codes mostly had no fracking sites in 2007 and transitioned to a majority of zip codes with at least one fracking site. While the statistical and medical data are compelling, and speak to a significant correlation, the graphical and informational figures flunk every Tufte test, which is unfortunate. Nevertheless, with open data and Creative Commons licensing, the paper could be rewritten to provide a more compelling explanation about the dangers of fracking to people who live within its vicinity, and perhaps motivate more stringent regulations to protect them from both immediate and long-term harm.
Stats

As Big Data Plateaus, Data Science Education Grows 41

gthuang88 writes: Even as the hype around big data has died down, opportunities for data scientists are expanding. Johns Hopkins, NYU, and MIT are among the schools offering courses in data science, and IBM and other big companies are investing heavily in training programs. Now a startup called DataCamp has raised $1 million to expand online courses in R programming, Apache Spark, and other topics. The deal speaks to the opportunity that venture capitalists see in training the next generation of data scientists and business analysts. It also shows online education is specializing beyond platforms like Codecademy, Coursera, and Udacity.
Education

CSTA: Google Surveying Educators On Unconscious Biases of Students, Parents 173

theodp writes: According to a Computer Science Teachers Association tweet, Google is reportedly asking educators to assess the unconscious bias of students and their parents for the search giant. "We are in the early stages of learning how unconscious bias plays out in schools, and who would benefit most from bias busting materials," begins the linked-to 5-page Google Form, which sports a ub-edu@google.com email address, but lists no contact name. "This survey should take 15 minutes to complete, and your responses are confidential, meaning that your feedback will not be attributed to you and the data will only be used in aggregate form." The form asks educators to "list the names of organizations, tools, and resources that you have used to combat unconscious bias," which is defined as "the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner." A sample question: "Who do you think would benefit most from unconscious bias training at your school (or program)? Rank the following people in order (1=would most benefit to 5=would benefit least) training: Student, Parent (or guardian), Teacher (or educator), Guidance counselor, Principal." Google deflected criticism for its lack of women techies in the past by blaming parents' unconscious biases for not steering their girls to study computer science, suggesting an intervention was needed. "Outreach programs," advised Google, "should include a parent education component, so that parents learn how to actively encourage their daughters."
Bug

Linux Foundation's Census Project Ranks Open Source Software At Risk 47

jones_supa writes: The Core Infrastructure Initiative, a Linux Foundation effort assembled in the wake of the Heartbleed fiasco to provide development support for key Internet protocols, has opened the doors on its Census Project — an effort to figure out what software projects need support now, instead of waiting for them to break. Census assembles metrics about open source projects found in Debian's package list and on openhub.net, and then scores them based on the amount of risk each presents. Risk scores are an aggregate of multiple factors: how many people are known to have contributed to the project in the last 12 months, how many CVEs have been filed for it, how widely used it is, and how much exposure it has to the network. According to the current iteration of the survey, the programs most in need of attention are not previously cited infrastructure projects, but common core Linux system utilities that have network access and little development activity around them.
Stats

The College Majors Most Likely To Marry Each Other 90

schnell writes: The blog Priceonomics has published an analysis showing students in which college majors end up marrying another student with that same major. Religious studies (with 21% of students marrying another studying the same field) tops the list among all students, followed by general science. Perhaps unsurprising is that some majors with gender disparities show a high in-major marriage rate among the less represented group — for example, 39% of women engineering majors marry a fellow student in their field, while among men 43% studying nursing and 38% studying elementary education do likewise. The blog concludes that your choice of major may unwittingly decide your choice of spouse, and depending on how well that field is paid, your economic future.
Advertising

Study: Women Less Likely To Be Shown Ads For High-paid Jobs On Google 233

An anonymous reader writes: A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University has found that women seeking jobs are less likely to be shown ads on Google for high-paying jobs than men. The researchers created more than 17,000 fake profiles, which were shown roughly 600,000 ads on career-finding websites (abstract). All of the profiles shared the same browsing behavior. "One experiment showed that Google displayed adverts for a career coaching service for '$200k+' executive jobs 1,852 times to the male group and only 318 times to the female group." The article notes, "Google allows users to opt out of behavioral advertising and provides a system to see why users were shown ads and to customize their ad settings. But the study suggests that there is a transparency and overt discrimination issue in the wider advertising landscape."
Businesses

Researchers Study "Harbingers of Failure," Consumers Who Habitually Pick Losers 300

AmiMoJo writes: Is your favorite TV show always getting cancelled? Did you love Crystal Pepsi? Were you an early adopter of the Zune? If you answered yes to these questions, researchers say you might be a "Harbinger of Failure." In a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, researchers identified a group of consumers whose preferences can predict products that will fail. “Certain customers systematically purchase new products that prove unsuccessful,” wrote the study authors. “Their early adoption of a new product is a strong signal that a product will fail.”
Shark

Scientists Look For Patterns In North Carolina Shark Attacks 92

HughPickens.com writes: The Washington Post reports that there have been seven recent shark attacks in North Carolina. Scientists are looking for what might be luring the usually shy sharks so close to shore and among the swimmers they usually avoid. It's an unusual number of attacks for a state that recorded 25 attacks between 2005 and 2014. Even with the recent incidents, researchers emphasize that sharks are a very low-level threat to humans, compared with other forms of wildlife. Bees, for example, are much more dangerous. And swimming itself is hazardous even without sharks around.

George Burgess, director of the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida's Florida Museum of Natural History, speculates that several environmental factors could be pushing sharks to congregate in the Outer Banks. It is a warm year, and the water has a higher level of salinity because of a low-level drought in the area. Also, a common species of forage fish — menhaden — has been abundant this year and might have attracted more sharks to the area. Burgess also says some fishermen put bait in the water near piers, which could lure the predators closer to shore; two of the encounters took place within 100 yards of a pier. "That's a formula for shark attacks," Burgess says of these conditions, taken together. "Now, does that explain seven attacks in three weeks? No, it doesn't."
Facebook

FB Reveals Woeful Diversity Numbers 256

theodp writes: There's more work to do," said Facebook's Global Director of Diversity Maxine Williams, who issued a straight-out-of-How-to-Lie-With-Statistics diversity update on Thursday that essentially consisted of a handful of bar charts labeled with only percentages for select measures of the social networking giant's current demographics. In search of real numbers, the Guardian turned to Facebook's most recent Equal Employment Opportunity report filing, which showed that the ranks of black employees swelled by a grand total of seven (7) (1 woman) in the year covered by the filing, during which time Facebook saw an overall headcount increase of 1,231. Comparing Facebook's new bar charts of US tech employees to those issued last year shows the proportion of Hispanic and Black employees remained flat at 3% and 1% respectively, while a decline in the proportion of white employees from 53% to 51% was offset by an increase in the proportion of Asian employees from 41% to 43%.
Data Storage

When Will Your Hard Drive Fail? 297

jfruh writes: Tech writer Andy Patrizio suffered his most catastrophic hard drive failure in 25 years of computing recently, which prompted him to delve into the questions of which hard drives fail and when. One intriguing theory behind some failure rates involve a crisis in the industry that arose from the massive 2011 floods in Thailand, home to the global hard drive industry.
Spam

86.2 Million Phone Scam Calls Delivered Each Month In the US 193

An anonymous reader writes with a report from Help Net Security which assigns some numbers to the lucrative fraud-by-phone business in the U.S. -- and it's not just the most naive who are vulnerable. "Phone fraud continues to threaten enterprises across industries and borders, with the leading financial institutions' call centers exposed to more than $9 million to potential fraud each year," says the article. "Pindrop analyzed several million calls for threats, and found a 30 percent rise in enterprise attacks and more than 86.2 million attacks per month on U.S. consumers. Credit card issuers receive the highest rate of fraud attempts, with one in every 900 calls being fraudulent."

What's been your experience with fraudulent robocalls? I've been getting them on a near-daily basis -- fake credit card alerts, "computer support" malware-install attempts, and more -- for a few years now, which makes whitelisting seem attractive. ("Bridget from account services" has been robo-calling a lot lately, and each time she says it is my final notice.) My biggest worry is that the people behind these scams, like spammers, will hire copywriters who can fool many more people.