Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona Arizona

Chapel of the Holy Cross
Chapel of the Holy Cross

This is a picture of the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona taken from the access road after my visit today.   There are spectacular views of the region from the parking lot and both inside and outside the chapel when you get to the top.  There is a Wikipedia page on the Chapel with more details including the history of the unusual structure.

(C) 2017 John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages. He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology. He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Happy New Year!!!

Sedona Shortly Before Sunset on Dec 31, 2017
Sedona Shortly Before Sunset on Dec 31, 2017

May 2018 be a good year and a much better year for everyone!!!

Some thoughts on how to make 2018 a better year than 2017

Don’t let your smartphone, social media, or 24/7 cable news rule your life and cloud your judgment.  Turn off all but absolutely essential notifications on your smartphone.  Remove frivolous social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn from your smartphone.  Unsubscribe from mailing lists. Turn off all but absolutely essential email notifications from your social media and other accounts — generally only bills and receipts.  If you have to use Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends, install Social Fixer or a similar tool to filter out distracting political or other posts.  Set aside quiet time away from the Internet and other distractions to clear your mind, both to relax and to think deeply about the important issues in your life.

Anger rarely leads to good decisions.  Note that I said “rarely” not “never.”  When angry, calm down, take a walk, get some other exercise, talk the issues over with a friend or colleague that you can trust, gather more information, listen to all sides.  Then decide.  Anger and outrage sell.  They get clicks, eyeballs, advertising revenues on social media.  The algorithms used by social media are rapidly increasing their ability to find our hot buttons and get us mad — because anger makes money.  Be an informed consumer and citizen and don’t buy the anger for sale!

Learn from your mistakes and bury them.  I have a lot of trouble with the “bury” part.  Nonetheless, when we make a mistake or something goes wrong in our life through no fault of our own, we need both to learn from what happened and to move on with our life.  Let the past go.

Expect the unexpected.  Surprises happen.  Be prepared if you can.  Set aside money for a rainy day if you can.  When surprised, recognize that you have been surprised, gather more information if possible, and take appropriate action.  You may have to make a major change in direction in life.  In some cases you may have to give up on what you are doing.  There is a lot of stigma associated with giving up.  Nonetheless, sometimes that is the correct response to a surprise.

Sometimes the problem is other people.  Most people are not monsters.  Most people are not saints either.  The world is often not black and white.  There are shades of gray.  It is important not to jump to the conclusion that other people are evil, insane, or irretrievably stupid just because they disagree with us or oppose us.  Listen.  Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  Consider your own faults and improve yourself.  You may even discover on careful consideration that you are wrong and they are right.  But… some people are monsters.  There are crazy people.  There is evil in the world.  Sometimes the problem is the other person or people and won’t respond to these wholesome appealing methods, much beloved of self-help books and gurus.

(C) 2017 John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages. He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology. He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Mitten Ridge and Munds Mountain in Sedona (Arizona)

Mitten Ridge and Munds Mountain In Sedona
Mitten Ridge and Munds Mountain In Sedona

Mitten Ridge is the red rock formation on the left.  Munds Mountain is the less red, more grayish rock formations on the right.  Picture taken from Arizona State Route 89A somewhat south of the Uptown Sedona section of town.

(C) 2017 John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages. He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology. He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

More Sedona (Arizona)

Sedona: Looking East Across 89A
Sedona: Looking East Across 89A

Another picture of the red rock hills around Sedona, Arizona (United States).  The road in the foreground is Arizona State Route 89A which is the main/only road through much of Sedona.

 

(C) 2017 John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages. He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology. He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Exploring Scenic Sedona, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona
Sedona, Arizona

A picture from the main street in Sedona, Arizona (United States), showing some of the famous red rock formations surrounding the town.  Sedona is about a two hour drive north of Phoenix up in the mountains.  Flagstaff is about a half hour drive north of Sedona.

Sedona is home to numerous resorts, art galleries, gift shops, all sorts of New Age stores and other oddities, hiking trails, ancient American Indian ruins, and much more.  🙂

Sedona is an easy drive north from Phoenix once you get out of the city — until you get to downtown Sedona.  Arrive at the wrong time as I did and you will run into a traffic jam as all the traffic is funneled into the single main road.  It took me about twenty minutes to drive the last mile to the hotel!  🙁

Arizona is a desert.  Remember to bring plenty of water on the road trip.

It is prudent to arrive before sundown since it is very dark at night and various wild animals may come out as well.

For the geeks out there, Sedona has state of the art wireless Internet, comparable to my home city of Mountain View in Northern California, best known worldwide as the site of Google’s headquarters.

(C) 201 7 John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages. He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology. He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

How to Turn Off or Hide the Distracting Red Notification Badges on the App Store Icon

A persistent source of distractions on the Macintosh (Mac OS X) and also the iPhone (IOS) is the annoying red notification badge on the App Store icon urging you to update your apps and sometimes operating system, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

App Store in Dock Urging Update to Mac OS High Sierra
App Store in Dock Urging Update to Mac OS High Sierra

It is, for example, generally a good practice to wait some time after an update is announced and pushed by a vendor until the almost inevitable bugs are worked out before actually updating.  This is particularly true of major operating system updates such as Apple’s macOS High Sierra update which featured a major security bug enabling anyone to trivially log on as an all-powerful root user, giving new meaning to the Apple “It Just Works” slogan.

In addition, the red notification badges are simply annoying and distracting, often interfering with the user’s ability to focus and concentrate on cognitively demanding work, presumably the main goal of using a computer.

Fortunately, there are some options to turn off or hide the distracting red notification badges.  On Mac OS X, in the System Preferences, there is a control for the App Store.  In this control, one can turn off automatic checking for updates:

System Preferences Menu Item in Apple Menu
System Preferences Menu Item in Apple Menu
App Sore Control in System Preferences
App Store Control in System Preferences (Third from Left on Third Row)
App Store System Preferences
App Store System Preferences

Note that by default automatic checking for updates is turned ON.

Unfortunately, this does not help if the App Store is already aware of an update.  In my case, App Store is aware of an update for the Xcode IDE (Interactive Development Environment for software) which says it includes the super-buggy macOS High Sierra update:

Unwanted Xcode Update with macOS High Sierra
Unwanted Xcode Update with macOS High Sierra

As mentioned, I would rather hold off until the bugs are worked out and I don’t want to be annoyed or distracted by the red notification badge.

By default, the App Store is included in the Dock.  However, one can remove the App Store and other apps from the Dock so that the annoying red badge is hidden unless you explicitly open the App Store.

Right Click on App Store Icon to See Options
Right Click on App Store Icon to See Options

Right click on the App Store icon in the Dock to see the options.  The App Store has an option “Keep In Dock.”  By default this option is checked.  Simple un-check the “Keep In Dock” option to remove the App Store from the Dock.  You must explicitly launch the App Store for it to appear on the dock and the App Store will leave the Dock when it is closed.

Tested on a MacBook Air (13 inch, early 2014) with macOS Sierra version 10.12.6

iPhone App Store

On the iPhone, one can turn off the red notification badges on the App Store icon by launching the iPhone Setting app:

iPhone Settings App
iPhone Settings App

In Settings, select Notifications:

Notifications in Settings App
Notifications in Settings App

Then, turn off notifications from the App Store:

App Store Notification ON/OFF Setting
App Store Notification ON/OFF Setting

Now, you will have to open the App Store to see if any updates are available.  The often annoying and distracting red notification badges will no longer display.

(C) 2017 by John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

About the Author

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages. He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology. He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Looking for a Sales and Marketing Expert (Contract)

Sales and Marketing Expert for Data Analysis Tool (Contract)

Sales and Marketing Expert
Data Analysis Tool

We are seeking a sales and marketing expert with experience in sales and marketing of desktop software (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, or other flavors of Unix) to develop a specific, actionable sales and marketing plan including a list of prospects and/or marketing channels and a projected budget for our product release scheduled for Q2 2018.

The ideal candidate will have both technical and sales and marketing experience with data analysis tools such as SAS, MATLAB, SPSS, Mathematica, etc.

Our Business

We are developing tools and algorithms to automate complex data analysis, reducing costs and increasing results.

Complex data analysis is a multi-billion dollar business. Major data analysis tool makers alone report revenues totaling over $4 billion per year: SAS Institute ($3.2 Billion), IBM SPSS ($0.3-1.0 Billion), MathWorks ($850 Million), Wolfram Research (at least $40 million), and a number of less well known smaller firms. Medical businesses, financial firms, and science and engineering organizations spend billions of dollars per year on these tools and the salaries of the analysts, scientists, and engineers performing the analyses.

Complex data analysis increasingly determines the approval of new drugs and medical treatments, medical treatment decisions for individual patients, investment decisions for banks, pensions, and individuals, important public policy decisions, and the design and development of products from airplanes and cars to smart watches and children’s toys.

State-of-the-art complex data analysis is labor intensive, time consuming, and error prone — requiring highly skilled analysts, often Ph.D.’s or other highly educated professionals, using tools with large libraries of built-in statistical and data analytical methods and tests: SAS, SPSS, MATLAB, Mathematica, Scientific Python, the R statistical programming language, Excel and similar tools.  Salaries and overhead for these analysts range from $40/hour to $200/hour (using a 25 % overhead rate), sometimes even more.

Total Cost of Analyses ($50/hour)
Analysis Duration (Hours) Total Cost

2 weeks ( 80) $4,000
2 months (320) $16,000
6 months (960) $48,000

Results often take months or even years to produce, are often difficult to reproduce, difficult to present convincingly to non-specialists, difficult to audit for regulatory compliance and investor due diligence, and sometimes simply wrong, especially where the data involves human subjects or human society. Many important problems in business and society remain unsolved despite modern computer-intensive data analysis methods.

A widely cited report from the McKinsey management consulting firm suggests that the United States may face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 such human analysts by 2018: http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/digital-mckinsey/our-insights/big-data-the-next-frontier-for-innovation

Please see our web site http://www.mathematical-software.com/ for more details.

Requirements

o At least three years of recent paid professional experience in the sales and marketing of a desktop software product (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux or other flavors of Unix).

Strongly Preferred

o At least three years of hands-on experience in data analysis. Graduate research experience leading to a Ph.D. is acceptable. Need not be current experience. We are looking for a sales and marketing expert who started out doing data analysis before transitioning to sales and marketing.

o Familiarity with markets for data analysis tools for high end mathematical modeling such as physics, quantitative finance, econometrics, and new growth areas such as quantitative biology.

Preferred

o Located in San Francisco Bay Area and can visit our office in Sunnyvale, CA if needed.

This is a part-time, contract position (not W-2).

Please send resume or curriculum vitae with cover letter.

No recruiters or head-hunters.

(C) 2017 by John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

A Personal Note: Visit to Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

I visited the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Columbus, Ohio (United States) today.  Here I am:

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens

Here I am in the tropical island section in front of a Dale Chihuly glass sculpture (the bright orange thing that looks like a monster from a 1950’s atomic horror movie).

Tropical Island Section
Tropical Island Section

I will probably post some more pictures and maybe some video later.

(C) 2017 John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

About the Author

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages. He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology. He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

Another All Seeing Eye

Another miovision Scout traffic camera system appeared in my neighborhood on or about November 15, 2017 (yesterday).  This is a brief (about one minute) video of the device:

(C) 2017 John F. McGowan, Ph.D.

About the Author

John F. McGowan, Ph.D. solves problems using mathematics and mathematical software, including developing gesture recognition for touch devices, video compression and speech recognition technologies. He has extensive experience developing software in C, C++, MATLAB, Python, Visual Basic and many other programming languages. He has been a Visiting Scholar at HP Labs developing computer vision algorithms and software for mobile devices. He has worked as a contractor at NASA Ames Research Center involved in the research and development of image and video processing algorithms and technology. He has published articles on the origin and evolution of life, the exploration of Mars (anticipating the discovery of methane on Mars), and cheap access to space. He has a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).