Assorted links

by on November 10, 2012 at 6:53 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. The Martha Stewart financial empire.

2. Nick’s overly generous thoughts on MRU.

3. Do any of us care about privacy?  A search engine that doesn’t track you.

4. Simon Wren-Lewis response on multiplier and zero lower bound literature.

5. On the new Ray Monk biography of Robert Oppenheimer.

prior_approval November 10, 2012 at 7:23 am

The Internet is such a veritable cornucopia for overt generosity. For example, the generosity concerning MR University, that ground breaking YouTube, $4 iPad app experiment in online education.

Someone else was also generous in providing the following additional information for anyone to read –

‘Hours invested 1,250.’

Involving the undoubtedly well billed time of Charlie Team, including Luis, Julian, Sally, Debra, Veronica, Blake, Ricardo, Michael, Manuel, Montoya, Andrea, Felipe, Flynn, Camayo, JC, and not to forget, Daniel.

Some more information –

‘Customization of content management from the front end, even using AJAX calls, Advanced cache for sites with high traffic, Advanced registration – capture survey on that request, Advanced Drupal profiles.’

That ‘Advanced registration – capture survey on that request’ is particularly noteworthy, but since I didn’t write the spec (I haven’t been a webmaster since 2000), we will leave it to others to speculate what ‘capture survey’ means in this context. Speculation involving an easily plus $100,000 expensive project, which probably doesn’t include Phase 2 Technology’s contribution, nor the ongoing hosting costs, nor whatever other expenditures the general director of the Mercatus Center feels necessary to ensure that MR University does well in the marketplace.

The software house where I work doesn’t really do much in the way of web stuff (just the odd catalog front-end with 500,000 items for a global manufacturer using our ERP software, for example), but we charge a solid 120 euros an hour per man hour for it, so an estimated MR University’s price tag of $100,000 dollars is likely to be on the (quite) low side.

Which does not beg the question where the funding came from, since it came from the Mercatus Center –

‘World-renowned professors of economists and authors of one of the most popular blogs on economics; Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok of Marginal Revolution and GMU’s Mercatus Center teamed up with inQbation to create a Khan Academy-like video-based university focusing on free online education in Development Economics.’

Unless GMU has started paying its professors much better than it used to, of course. Though it must be noted that Drupal is GPL software, making it even cheaper (and much more portable between platforms) than a $4 iPad app from within the walled garden.

What remains interesting to ponder is why is the extremely well paid for connection between MR University and the Mercatus Center remains shrouded in such silence, and is not a centerpiece in any of the articles talking about this brave new vision of education. After all, if the organization I headed spent $100,000 plus on the design and implementation of such a site, I would not be any more shy than Carnegie or Khan on having that organization’s name proudly associated with its product.

The Internet is such a playground – and many of those creating its various nooks and crannies are proud in letting others know about their work, especially those involving highly rated web sites with large readership bases.

Well, most of the time (it will be interesting to see how long inQbation keeps this info up at in its recent launches section).

It seems as if someone feels that the image of a professor using a $4 iPad app to bring knowledge to the world would be obscured by the reality of a project involving 16 skilled people (whose knowledge was not gained by watching 5 minute YouTube videos, I’ll confidently wager), working more than 150 man days in a project costing multiple tens of thousands of dollars. With ‘Advanced registration – capture survey’ as a nice cherry on top of an undoubtedly very professional web site, with full logging of all information relevant to the site’s benefactors.

prior_approval November 10, 2012 at 7:43 am

As a note – being unable to read http://somethingcleverish.blogspot.com/ (it converts to http://somethingcleverish.blogspot.de/and just a blank screen), if Nick discussed this information, I’m unaware of it.

And man, that GMU related PR operation pattern really remains marred back in the 80s, proving an old IT adage- ‘never change a running system.’ Very predictable, and it was fun following it in the case of MR University from the first Mercatus Center address by pre-registration, to the Mercatus Center tech support as evidenced in a comment from a newly hired Mercatus Center employee, to what is now a hopefully paid off invoice on the Center’s balance sheet for a shiny new MR University CMS infrastructure based on GPL software.

And seemingly not a word wasted on pointing out where MR University’s bills were being paid from, while always attempting to create a coy association involving a real institution with a virtual one being paid for by the Mercatus Center.

(Still, got to love the web – before, I would have actually had to be at work to find out such stuff – such as by interviewing the people involved.)

Careless November 13, 2012 at 1:57 am

Do you realize that you crossed the line into lunacy many posts ago?

mae east November 10, 2012 at 8:44 am

The search engine that doesn’t track you, is also, unfortunately, the search engine that doesn’t find what you’re looking for.

YetAnotherTom November 10, 2012 at 8:50 am

Duckduckgo works o.k. but not as we’ll as spying competitors. I’m thinking they need some sort of charitable campaign to improve.

Engineer November 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm

The search engine that doesn’t track you is any search engine using Firefox “private browsing” mode. Just make sure to close the browser and reopen after you login/logout of gmail.

So Much For Subtlety November 10, 2012 at 8:20 pm

The Guardian review saddens me because it is a throw back to what it used to be – but without the spelling errors – instead of the shell of a joke that it has become. That is the way to do a book review. Unusually for the Guardian it actually comes down pretty hard on Oppenheimer’s Communist sympathies. Given they are fine with their correspondents taking money from the KGB, this is a little unexpected.

But on the plus side it does explain what happened to Turing. He didn’t commit suicide. Oppenheimer must have come for a visit.

Student November 10, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I’ve found duckduckgo to be a decent search engine. Finds mostly what I am looking for. I had it as the default search engine in firefox for a while, but when I had to reset firefox I never got around to setting it as the default again. I should do that soon. There is another one called ixquick.com that also doesn’t track you. For those of you who like google a lot, but are still concerned about privacy, you can try startpage.com. It is run by the people that run ixquick.com, but it provides results from google’s search engine. I think the basic idea is that you submit your search query to startpage.com (which isn’t tracking you in any way), and then your search is sent to google from them (not you) and the result are then displayed.

Ray Lopez November 11, 2012 at 12:45 am

agree

byomtov November 10, 2012 at 10:07 pm

WRT #1, perhaps it’s time to cite yet another scholarly paper on how rational corporate pay policies really are, appearances notwithstanding.

Ray Lopez November 11, 2012 at 12:44 am

@Oppenheimer: from the Times comments section: “I honestly believe after Paul Robeson and John Desmond Bernal, J. Robert Oppenheim was the greatest humanist of the 20th century.” – this about a guy who believed dropping a second bomb was a good idea? But his mutual funds are popular… test of the posting system.

So Much for Subtlety November 11, 2012 at 1:27 am

Well in fairness he only supported dropping bombs on Fascists. As soon as World War Two was over, he thought the US shouldn’t drop any on anyone else, especially the Soviet Union.

But the comment must be someone trolling. Two (and so implying three) Communists – including one of the strongest defenders of Lysenko? No. They are looking for a response.

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