Hoarding and Irrational Behavior

June 12, 2014

This spring I took an online course from Coursera, Irrational Behavior,  as taught by Dr. Dan Ariely, in conjunction with Duke University.

Dr.Dan Ariely Cartoon

Dr. Dan Ariely Cartoon


It was a fascinating course, one that I enjoyed immensely. Different weeks focused on different subjects: Decision Illusions, Money, Cheating and Crime, Work, Self control, how emotions affect decision making. There was always another great insight about human behavior from some experiment that Dr. Ariely or other researchers had conducted.

Part of the class involved some writing assignments. The first assignment was to write a paper to solve a problem, using the principles covered in the Irrational Behavior course.

From the course guidelines, “Solve a Problem”:
There are three parts to this assignment: 1) Describe a problematic behavior 2) Outline existing research 3) Propose a solution. Basically, you will come up with a research-based solution to a problem, applying something that you have learned in this class to a real world problem

I’d seen those shows on television about hoarders, and I decided to apply the Irrational Behavior concepts to hoarding.  When you think of it, it is a most irrational behavior.

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Tuning The Untunable: When Indexes and Optimizer Don’t Help

June 8, 2014

In 2004, I gave a tuning presentation in the Boston area at NOUG


If you haven’t seen it, do take a look. It actually went viral and I received emails from around the world.

The PDF can be found here:


Recently, I gave a tuning presentation at the Manitoba Oracle User’s Group


This MBOUG presentation is a follow up. It covered a number of very mysterious tuning scenarios that I’ve encountered since NOUG, and the techniques I used to overcome them. In these cases, using optimizer and indexes usually did not help at all.

The PDF can be found here:   Read the rest of this entry »

Presentation: Graph Databases – Overview and Applications

June 6, 2014

In April 2014, I gave a presentation at my Alma Mater, the University of Winnipeg: Graph Databases – Overview and Applications

It was presented to the faculty and students of the Applied Computer Science Master’s program.

Most had not seen graph databases before. However, I expect that some of them will be using graphs in the near future.  :)

A PDF of the presentation can be found here:

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So Many Of My Blog Posts Rise To The Very Top Of The Search Engine Results. Cool!

March 29, 2014

Lately, I’ve noticed a pattern with my blog. So many of my posts rise to the very top of the search engine results. Cool!

Often it’s the number one result. Other times it’s near the top of the first page: the second, third, or fourth result.

My Posts Rise To Top Of The Search Results

My Posts Rise To Top Of The Search Results

As you can tell from my posts, I haven’t done a whole lot with internet Search Engine Optimization (SEO). But I sense that much of the reason why my posts rise to the top is that I always give the correct and complete answer to the difficult problem at hand. It’s not speculation or guessing. It’s a tried and true solution that I worked through and tested. Often over days of research. And sometimes over a week or more!

Often in my blog’s analytics, I see big engineering companies looking at my blog posts. Oracle Corporation Read the rest of this entry »

Database Landscape Map From 451 Group

March 4, 2014

Have you seen the map of all the different databases on the market today from 451 Group?

Database Landscape map – June 2013

Database Landscape map – June 2013

There used to be just a few relational databases: DB2, MYSQL, Oracle, SQL Server, Sybase.

Now, there are actually twenty (20) different categories of databases!  And well over 100 different vendors.

How many can you name?
How many have you installed?
How many have you used?

The full article is here:

Detecting Diseases By Analyzing the Pulse Waves of Heartbeats

December 28, 2013

Arterial Pulse Waveform

Arterial Pulse Waveform

Recently, I saw a Master’s thesis defense at my Alma Mater, the University of Winnipeg, Applied Computer Science. Jingjing Xia analyzed the shape of heartbeats in patients known to have different diseases. By applying math and algorithms, she was able to find strong correlations between the disease, and the shape of the heartbeat.

Pulse wave analysis has actually been around since Mahomed wrote about it in 1872 and there has been more research since then. Researchers have studied the shape of the heartbeat, made measurements of the different sections of the graph, and applied math to it.


First, Xia determined an equation to fit the pulse wave, a complex sum of eight sine waves. Then the first and third derivatives were taken from the equation. From the derivatives, the locations of different points of the heartbeat were able to be identified: the wave foot, systolic peak, and reflected point. From these numbers, the Reverse Shoulder Index (RSI), and Ratio of Distance were determined.

Once all the numbers were known, correlations were run between the different measurements and the known diseases of the patient. They did find a number of correlations between the heartbeat’s pulse wave, and various cardiovascular diseases: coronary heart disease, hypertension, and chest pain.


One thought is that this has a lot of the ingredients of data science: mathematics & statistics, computer science & algorithms, data and a distinct subject area.  Read the rest of this entry »

Analyzing Keywords in Enron’s Email

November 24, 2013

You probably can’t read all the 252K email messages in the Enron email dataset by yourself.

But with SQL it’s easy to search for keywords, like “Special Purpose Entity”, “Bankrupt”, “Fraud”, “Shutdown”,  “Talking Points”, “FERC” and so on. They begin to reveal what really went on inside the minds at Enron.


Many Enron employees took MBA courses at UC Berkeley HAAS Business School.

Since the Enron bankruptcy, classes at UC Berkeley School Of Information began to analyze Enron’s emails, as early as 2004. Like this one: http://courses.ischool.berkeley.edu/i290-2/f04/assignments/a4_solutions/qu_poon.doc.

In this document, they search for “Talking Points“: an especially persuasive point helping to support an argument or discussion.

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