Reading Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise

Wow just started reading The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t and see it carries the strong reputation as a though provoking book about prediction.
The Signal and the NoiseHe continues to look at data including out of sample data to provide greater context to long held assumptions to credit default swaps that strangled Wall Street and the housing bubble.

Even in defining why the US depression following the wall street collapse was worse than projected, his appeal of Too Big To Fail proves he has a good foundation from Andrew Ross Sorkin’s great book.

The second chapter of The Signal and the Noise focuses on pro baseball. Its another look at America’s game from a geek’s perspective. He acknowledges the impact of Moneyball by Michael Lewis. Lewis is a respected writer for all things wall street and metrics.

Now lets see how risk takers in Higher Education can improve a campus by understanding and absorbing these lessons….just pushing into chapter three.

My latest read: If I Die in a Combat Zone

If I Die in a Combat Zone by Tim O’Brien was a fast yet welcoming read last night. I finished this book in just under three hours. He writes about his experience in Vietnam, thoughts of escaping to Europe and stories about fellow soldiers in Alpha Company from 1969 to 1970 which included supporting the area of the My Lai Massacre just one year following the atrocities.
If I Die in a Combat ZoneO’Brien shares a brief story of growing up in the Midwest and life in Worthington Minnesota. He shares his experiences joining the army. If I Die in a Combat Zone shares how fellow soldiers were not fully committed by 1969 to fighting a losing war.

He shares his relationship with a solider “Erik” who also disagrees with the war and their experiences at Fort Lewis before begin shipped to Vietnam.

The topic of desertion is addressed as O’Brien planned to dessert while on leave and make his way to Sweden. Yet after all his detailed research and staying in a hotel with an AWOL bag fully packed, he does not desert. Midwestern values played a strong influence.

If I Die in a Combat Zone reveals O’Brien served around My Lai, the site of the US Army My Lai Massacre, but as the book closes he writes about getting a job out of the company’s combat zone and ends up working for an officer investigating the massacre led by William Calley and Charlie Company of the same battalion O’Brien served just one year later.

My latest Read: Reliability Assurance of Big Data in the Cloud

While focused on the task of generating data for astrophysics Reliability Assurance of Big Data in the Cloud is a worthy read when focused around designing cloud service contacts.
Reliability Assurance of Big Data in the CloudThe work of authors Yang, Li and Yuan surround capturing big data reliability, and measuring disk storage solutions including from noted cloud vendors.

Their work at Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing at Swinburne University of Technology focused on reducing cloud-based storage cost and energy consumption methods.

They also share the impact of multiple replication-based data storage approaches based upon Proactive Replica Checking for Reliability (PRCR). That was very interesting in their research data gathering.

I found Reliability Assurance of Big Data in the Cloud also supports moving data into the cloud across advanced research networks including Internet2.

Processing raw data inside the data center impacts network models (based upon available bandwidth) in their work. Their research gathers and stores 8 minute segments of telescope data that generates 236GB of raw data. By no means in the petabyte stage (yet) but it still sets a solid understanding of contractual demands on big data cloud storage.

My interest peaked around impacts developing knowledgeable contracts for cloud services. Their background regarding data gathering and processing should influence procurement contract language. This is even more applicable when applied to petabyte data sets and the SLAs regarding data reliability requirements. Never leave money on the table when scaling to the petabyte range. Must read for purchasing agents and corporate (and university) CPSMs.

The Vietnam War: Unstructured data reporting and counterinsurgency

After reading No Sure Victory: Measuring U.S. Army Effectiveness and Progress in the Vietnam War I could not help but think about the consequences failed data reporting by MACV can serve a historical lesson for re-implementing or adjusting campus data reporting systems.

data reporting during Vietnam War

Data report tickets used by MACV in the early stages of The Vietnam War

Key stakeholders on campus should easily state their reasons for data collection and reporting. No Sure Victory benefits campus units by revealing an early, dare I say Big Data approach to unstructured data reporting and delivering actionable data.

Today we immediately understand Google’s Compute Engine or an Amazon Elastic MapReduce cloud for this demand.

Universities can thrive with diverse reporting teams. Working with Institutional Research and striving to improve enrollment and retention efforts are key goals. Yet important roles are filled with student workers. Here unstructured data often fragments over mismanagement. Many ad hoc Microsoft Excel documents are created without data governance and become silo’d from the campus data warehouse. Key stakeholders on any campus including CIOs, IR Directors, Research staff, Program Directors, campus data reporter writers and student workers. Even seasoned campus data report writers are not leveraged to streamline actionable data insights.

No Sure Victory brings to light a tragic failed data reporting implementation by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in addressing a war in Vietnam. The was his reputation as one of The Wiz Kids, the World War II Statistical Control unit that analyzed operational and logistical data to manage war.

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My latest read: No Sure Victory

In many ways my desire to understand the US failure in Vietnam has been a long difficult road stretching many years. No Sure Victory: Measuring U.S. Army Effectiveness and Progress in the Vietnam War by Gregory Daddis answers many long held questions.
no sure victoryAfter digesting so many resources in reading, watching documentaries and listening to interviews with veterans, politicians and social leaders during the long duration of the war I believe No Sure Victory brings together strong indicators regarding our nation’s failure in Vietnam. The focus is the failure of MACV to gather and process data against an established set of goals (KPIs) over the long stretch of this war.

Daddis documents McNamara’s injection of data gathering when LBJ increased the American commitment to South Vietnam. McNamara’s experience as one of The Wiz Kids set the stage in his role as Secretary of Defense.

Our enemy was determined and battle tested. America was fighting a larger, strategic cold war with an emerging China and established Soviet Union in both Europe and Asia.

Daddis sheds light throughout No Sure Victory not only on the lack of White House direction but how MACV leadership could not adapt to fighting a war of counterinsurgency. Johnson, McNamara nor Westmoreland were able to establish measurable KPIs for reporting progress in the war. The impact of this television war confused the US government, media and population. At the same time Daddis points to key failures in not understanding the affects of the French Indo-China war regarding counterinsurgency. This lack of understanding established a crippling third leg the US consistently fought to balance against the cold war political spectrum.

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Last Days in Vietnam

It should be no surprise in all of my reading focusing on The Vietnam War that I would of course take full advantage of PBS’s offer to watch a free stream of the broadcast of Last Days in Vietnam. This was a 2015 Emmy nominated documentary that did not win last night.
Last Days in VietnamAmerica made a generational investment in both Vietnam and Southeast Asia. We today reflect and measure that commitment in blood and money. It is still difficult to watch two democracies struggled to fight a dedicated communist enemy.

I hope anyone can appreciate the difficult position American soldiers and staff at the US Embassy faced in the days of the war. Their interviews about the experience they faced in light of our Ambassador’s delusion that the south could establish an outcome similar to a South Korean truce two years after US troops departed.
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No Sure Victory

No Sure Victory: Measuring U.S. Army Effectiveness and Progress in the Vietnam War by West Point instructor and military historian Colonel Greg Daddis appears to detail a much needed analysis to fighting counterinsurgency in Vietnam. I am very interested to learn how the military began implementing data collection for battlefield analysis.
no sure victoryNo Sure Victory may offer lessons for data collection today as we combat the war on terror. Daddis opens No Sure Victory with views that our early leadership in the 1950s including General Paul Harkins took an outdated, World War II approach to fighting communism in Southeast Asia.

Harkins was appointed the first commander of US Military Assistance Command in Vietnam(MACV) and his lack of understanding counterinsurgency looks to be a chief contributor to early failures in Vietnam.

In chapter two “Measurements without Objectives” Daddis reveals how President Eisenhower and the US Military failed to establish clear objectives in supporting South Vietnam following the 1954 Geneva Convention that split the country at the 17° parallel. This apparent lack of establishing key, measurable objectives remained unchanged even after sending military advisors. Daddis also sheds light on the apparent same inability to reach an attainable focus by Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon never changed even after General Westmoreland was replaced by General Creighton Abrams. Why no changes to data collection or reporting after Abrams took control of fighting the war?

At just 87 pages into the book I feel that this is one of a very few books that finally helps learn how and why we failed not only win but an obvious inability to adapt fighting a war that was not improving over a long time. How was the impact of Body Count and Kill Ratio and Search and Destroy impacting the change to Hearts and Minds that emerged later in the war as we moved to pacification efforts after 1966.

It is very frustrating to see how our legacy military and political leaders were unaware of their need to adopt counterinsurgency following the French debacle at Dien Bien Phu, especially as Daddis reveals US Military learned much from the French approach to counterinsurgency in Algeria.

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My latest read – The Data Science Handbook

The recent pre-release of The Data Science Handbook is a fast, easy read. There is nothing better in business today than the still exploding market of data science. While some marketing statements indicate many are trying data science, here are the voices of recognized data science leaders. I have read my share of data science and big data books as well but like the direction of this pre-release.
The Data Science Handbook Pre-ReleaseMaturing technologies like Hadoop and even MapReduce prove yesterday was the time for every organization, business unit and non-profit to understand how data science is fundamentally changing the game.

Data Science hits your data sweet spot due to the ability of large systems to process your data in real-time. Notice how Microsoft is acquiring data science companies?

Data Science was just in its early stages not more than 10 years ago. Yahoo and Google helped move this forward. Even “legacy” companies like Sears Holdings understands the impact ofMapReduce and Hadoop, they are well outside Silicon Valley. Just wait until some great advancements for public health are established by non-profits as a result of implement data science to forecast their business.

There is a great deal of excitement as the full release publication date inches closer. Cannot wait to see this book ship.