technology


Content Analysis computer programs still have a ways to go…

Although our computer coding skills are progressing in leaps and bounds, these content analysis computer programs are still not suited to interpret content. Interpreting (connotative) content is subjective and requires the bias mind of a human who uses their experience (and sometimes “gut” feelings) to come to conclusions. Computers on the other hand are programmed to do x when y. These are literal black and white commands boiled down to core 1s and 0s. And this coding relies on logic. Designing a computer program which deciphers language (video, photo and sound are even more difficult) becomes infinitely more complicated when the language is illogical or, at the very least, muddled. The current programs are good at accounting for instances of keywords and semantic composition because these can be easily coded (i.e. because they are logical). Even if a codebook is developed and followed to the letter there are still judgement calls which a human makes on the fly – this spontaneous thinking process cannot be replicated by a computer (yet – see Alan Turing and his famous test and claim of an impending “singularity”).

I have issue with the assumption that one can compare a modern computer program with a human in the first place (even if the computer-assisted team had the luxury of seeing the other answers first). The investigation should not be between the human and the machine but within the machine itself. What is the validity of the code and/or algorithm within this context? Have you branched the logic to account for all possible scenarios? Was the program coded for that type of content analysis?  For example, if I were to claim that MS Word is terrible because it does not do sophisticated mathematical operations I would be perfectly correct. However, mathematical operations are not the purpose of Word like they are in Excel. My conclusion is correct but my expectation was a fallacy from the start.

In the end, a program is only as smart as the programmer(s) who creates it. The branching logic has to be, well, logical. The rules to branch have to be logical and, in a perfect world, should be mutually exclusive. If a researcher could account for EVERY possible way that he/she could interpret the data and the program is coded to decipher the content that way then the expectation that the computer would outperform the human could be warranted.

I’m not holding my breath for computers to outperform humans by becoming sentient but I do believe that programmers may be able to eventually code for all possiblities…and that will explode the method exponentially as well.

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Are you the person who has the same password for everything? Could your best friend guess it? How about your boss? I would prefer to think that no one but my partner could possibly guess the user name and passwords I have come up with. And the fact that I rotate them with every new membership causes even confuses me.

There has to be a better way to remember your user name and password and still maintain security. I will start this adventure with 2 of each.

  • Password: MrFraiser
  • Password: Checkmate

I am a fragmented person on the web. I believe in this slice of postmodernism. But I don’t want to be so fragmented that I come off as insincere. So, for this exercise my goal is to maintain the above two identities and a new third one. I dare say that I could split myself in two (or three) if, for instance, I wanted to be perceived as goofy in one community and a mentor in the other. So, we know that it is harder to change our user name than it is to change our password. I have encountered a few sites that allow you to change your user name but then that’s like moving – ie. you have to send out announcements and notices. So, my first step at password security is having separate ones for each of my identities. On a side note, I also have completely different passwords on bank accounts and the handful of other high security areas.

I wanted to know how well my current password strength is. Using the following tools, I surmised that my first password strength was weak and so was my second one.

I want to keep in the spirit of my current credentials. So let’s explore how I can make them more secure.

Password: MrFraiser
Now, not many people could guess my elementary school music teacher’s name but if you dug around a bit you would know that I am a musician and love music. You would also note that MrFraiser is a common phrase, much like MrSmith or MrsRobinson. So to make it stronger let’s change some words to numbers and increase the length.

Password:M!$t3rFr@!$er
Now that gets me a strong on the password checker. Even still, there are password hacks who’s first instinct is to check for letter replacements. So to make the password even stronger let’s employ the create a sentence rule.

Password: Mf!m3$mT
Great! We still have a strong password here. I’ve created it from the sentence “Mr. Fraiser is my elementary school music teacher” or “M(r.) f(raiser) !(s) m(y) 3(lementary) $(chool) m(usic) T(eacher)” and include both upper case and lower case letters. It is also pretty fool proof from the entry-level hacker. Not the strongest but we’re almost there.

Password:Mf!m3$mTmyspace
Now I’m looking for the strongest password I can come up with for both security and ease of remembering. What I have done is kept my original sentence and added the site for which the password is applied. So for Youtube it would be Mf!m3$mTYouTube. This get’s me at best on the Microsoft password checker site.

My other password is Checkmate.

In three simple steps let’s take this from weak to best.

1. ch3Ckm8
2. YK!0Cm83T- Y(our) K(ing) !(oses) 0(n) C(heck) m8 3(very) T(ime)
3. YK!0Cm83Tmypace

So here’s what others are saying about passwords:

Information on the new WordPress password strength indicator.

Forgot your windows password? How to get in without using any software.

Or you could try the Ctrl+Alt+Delete twice method

Password computer basics – The music reminds me of all the training videos I have ever had to watch in my life.

Security Wise Vlog on password strength.

It’s been a month since Charlie and I moved to Orlando. We have both been to interviews with at least 3 different temporary agencies. Charlie has received work already but I am still waiting on any assignment. Since we need money in the meantime….pesky rent and car payments…and no one was calling me with anything, I needed to find a job ASAP.

So I apply to be a game tester at EA.

For those that know me, I’m a fairly avid gamer. I roomed with guys (and game playing girls) in college and played them in many different games. I, like most of you, come from the game playing generation so it didn’t seem like a stretch to try and get paid to play games.

So I get a call back from EA for a phone interview and I bomb it. I’m asked who won the Superbowl? I said, I don’t remember. I’m asked who the major sponsor for Tony Stewart is? I say, I couldn’t even begin to tell you. I’m asked what the four BCS bowl games are? I try very hard to remember all four but can only come up with 2 so I don’t answer. Yet, the man on the other end seems to think that I would be a good fit for an EA QA Tester. Alright, I’ll go with it and I schedule a face-to-face interview for that Friday.

Friday comes and I arrive at the area where the other QA Tester wannabes are waiting. A security guard comes out to greet me. It’s a high security area and people have to swipe their badges to get in and out of the building. Hordes of people file into the building as we are waiting. I see only a few girls and lots of guys. This doesn’t surprise me as this division of EA is responsible for sports gaming and let’s face it, I’m sure that women are not lining up to get a job testing sports games….except me that is.

So, I get called back for the face-to-face interview and I bomb that as well. I’m asked on a scale of 1-10 what is my level of attention to detail. I fall into this trap nicely and I say 11 without hesitation. Then I quickly regret that move. I’m called on it. The interviewer says, ok, let’s test your attention to detail. Close your eyes and describe the room, how many windows, how many chairs, what’s on the wall, how many light fixtures, what is the name of the room, what are the guys interviewing me wearing, what are they drinking? Yup, I’ve just been schooled. At this point, I believe that I have no way of getting this position and so feel that I am running a reconnaissance mission for Charlie instead. BTW the room name I did get and it was Dagobah.

I’m asked what I would do if someone on the QA team wasn’t holding up their end of the team work. I tell them I would asked them to help but if they didn’t still contribute to the team, I would tell a supervisor. It would suck to release a game with lots of bugs to the market. The consumer would hate it and the QA lead’s ass would be on the line.

I’m presented with an ordinary pen and asked if I was with the ABC pen company how would I -QA Test this pen and what other uses for a pen can I think of? I say that I would take the pen apart, write with it and try to exploit its faults. My three uses for a pen? To hold up your hair (betcha that’s primarily female answer), to mark your place in a book and to chew on to relieve stress.

I’m asked about some more game environment testing questions. What would I do if there was no game play available and only menu screens? Compare the testing of the game environment for SSX Tricky with an up-coming NASCAR game- How would you test these differently? How would you test them the same? He asked this explaining that I was more familiar with Tricky than NASCAR. He got this information from my disclosure earlier that my weakest point was NASCAR and from the fact that I wrote that I had played Tricky frequently.

So, they think in an interview, interesting…

At this point, I’m buying into this interview. I may not get to work at EA but I am determined to learn from this interview. I start to let my hair loose. I crack a dry joke and see the reactions. One interviewer smiles to himself and the other has his poker face on.

I, on the other hand, never have my poker face on unless I’m playing poker. I’m reacting to each question with sincerity and as much quick thinking as I can muster. I’m saying things like, interesting question both because I honestly think it is interesting and because I’m trying to buy some time. I know, they can see this plainly on my face.

And then we get to the last question: Tell me a joke.

Very interesting…I smiled to myself and looked up for a brief moment. Got into character and said, “So this duck walks into a bar…” Now in true tribute, I screw up the joke but stay in character long enough that they have to laugh. I left the room feeling accomplished and was asked to sit in the lobby while they discussed.
I waited for 3 minutes and he came back out to get me. I’m just inside the door with all of the computer terminals and consoles set up. It’s dark and interesting but also smelly and not what you probably would imagine. I firmly believed that this would be the last time I saw QA testers in action and so I took it all in, with all of my senses. And then he hands me some papers and says welcome to EA and I’m sure my face is saying “What?! You’re kidding, right?”

So that’s how I got a job as a quality assurance tester at EA-Tiburon testing sports games. I’m still very much hoping that Charlie will be called in as well next week. If we both have a job in the same building that would be fantastic. Less money in gas. However, I’m also hoping to get a 3 month contract working in public relations at $15.00/hour and getting benefits to boot.

I’ll let you know how it pans out…

Yikes! Will things be looking up for EA?

Here’s one story about working as a QA Tester
and a livejournal made for EA spouses.

Very beautiful.
A Flatpack Project by John Haddon

You know, as I was looking at some of my blog comments I noticed that I have been posting a lot of videos. The age of viral videos is here and in full force. This is rather exciting, I can visualize the process. I remember a few years ago the discussion of what to do with video and how to optimize it on the web was just taking place. Just this morning, while listening to MJ, one of his crew commented that YouTube was his new best friend and MJ commented how he was watching a lot of web videos to prepare for his show.

Now this was radio. Radio is taking its stories from online video and television. As I am a student of mass communication, I start to see some connections. I see an integration taking place sometime in my lifetime. If anyone hasn’t seen the new helio it is one example of the integration. I just want to see this phone have a document previewer, a calendar management system, auto email and radio all in one small, light package also. How do men do it? Man purses are going to HAVE to become vogue. Or will it be briefcases and backpacks…or worse yet, will the purse carrying person (who is always me!) have to end up carrying everything? I don’t think video is going to kill or eliminate any other medium. Instead I see it all converging into a one stop shop of many nodes and nodules. Anyway, that’s my 2…