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NullVoid » 2007 » October NullVoid » 2007 » October

Archive for October, 2007

Prevent Mac from leaving .DS_Store on Windows Machines

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 -- By ET

To prevent the creation of these files, open the Terminal and type:

defaults write com.apple.desktopservices DSDontWriteNetworkStores true

Updated Photo Album

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 -- By ET

Sick in bed, so had some time to organize photos.

Basically, the album is organized first by 4 categories: Us, XX, WW, Scenes. Then in each category, all photos are grouped by time.

Clicking the photos below will take you to the corresponding albums:





A Super-Quick Proxy on Mac

Thursday, October 25th, 2007 -- By ET

I sometimes use MIT’s VPN to download obscure papers from the MIT library. To do it, you have to have an MIT IP address. The MIT VPN software allows me to obtain one.

I sometimes also download files through BitTorrent (for legitimate files of course), and HKUST blocks this kind of traffic. So the VPN proved also useful.

This trick can be used in mainland China, too. Last time when I visited Shanghai, I tried to access a Wikipedia article (in fact, I was writing a wikipedia paper, and needed to check the page). Due to the block in China, I could not access Wikipedia directly, so the MIT VPN was used again. Alternatively, I can set up a quick proxy connection in my Mac. Here is how:

open Terminal, and type:

ssh -ND 9999 zxq@mikezhang.com

where “ssh” is the command to connect to the server “mikezhang.com”, which is hosted in California. “zxq” is my login name on that server. The “-ND 9999″ part tells the machine to keep the connection and use it as a proxy server.

That’s all, then I just need to go to Firefox to set up the proxy. Below is how, just choose “Manual” and change the port for “SOCKS Host” to 9999.


Copying Songs from iPod to iTunes

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007 -- By ET


I need to copy some songs from my iPod Classic 80GB to the Mac.  Many programs fail to work here, for example, ipoddisk, isynctunes, etc (since the iPod is very new).

picture-1.pngOne software works greatly is called Senuti, I don’t know the meaning of this word, but it does what it was meant to do.  One tiny thing to note is that since I have many songs with Chinese titles, they became unrecognizable in iTunes.  The solution is simple, in the “preferences” menu, select “Always add songs to iTunes Library” and “Add Songs to Playlist” under “iTunes”.

I guess Apple’s concern about allowing people to copy songs from ipod to itunes is to prevent piracy.  It really doesn’t make sense.  Suppose my friend has an iPod, and would like to share the songs for me, it is easy to use the iPod itself as a hard drive and copy everything to my machine.  The only reason I wanted to copy songs from iPod to iTunes would be

  1. My computer crashed, or
  2. I need to copy songs among several computers and still keep the ratings, playlists, etc.

In both cases, Apple’s decision makes it very difficult for the consumers to perform legitimate actions with their own songs.

Should I go to Montreal

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007 -- By ET

Just got the notification that my paper with Feng Zhu got accepted by this year’s WISE (Workshop on Information Systems and Economics).  This put some weight on the “going” side of this dilemma.

There are reasons that I should not go

1. I’ve been to Montreal before, and going there in winter is not a good idea (guess global warming is convenient in this case)

2. I’ve already went on two trips to the US in the last 4 months.  According to various studies, jet lag and sleeping disorders can cause serious problems in decision making.

3. I have a few projects going on, and I would really have good use of that period of time for research.

There are a few reasons I should go:

1. The paper got accepted, and I like it a lot, very eager to present it

2. My friend Feng is on the market, I should go to give him the support he needs

3. We are hiring this year, I’d be eager to see who are the other candidates

I guess this blog entry helps me to organize the thoughts a little bit, and after writing it, I guess I should go…

Bayesian Resources from Alex

Monday, October 8th, 2007 -- By ET


Chinese site on R-language, with the link to download. There are two notes
on introduction to R with translation in Chinese.

http://cran.r-project.org/ <http://cran.r-project.org/other-docs.html>

The R project site, with documentations.


BUGS site. According to

Title An introduction to modern Bayesian econometrics / Tony Lancaster

It is possible to run the BUGS package in Matlab, I will try to figure it


Course sites on Bayesian Stat in Marketing, offerred by Peter Rossi. Papers,
lecture slides…


Suppliments on Bayesian Statistics and Marketing.


Another site for course on Bayesian Stat. More statistics focused.

Predicting This Year’s Nobel Prize Winner

Monday, October 8th, 2007 -- By ET

Of course, I mean the Nobel Prize for Economics.

Here is a link to Prof. Greg Mankiw’s post http://gregmankiw.blogspot.com/2007/10/my-bet-on-nobel.html, he, as an economist, used data to show that past winners all got huge amount of citations.

I wrote a few papers on predicting movie sales from word-of-mouth. The one using a Bayesian Model gives amazing power. A hollywood media consulting company emailed us (my co-authors Prof. Chris Dellarocas, Prof. Neveen Awad and I) about creating a software to do the predictions. I guess that model could have gotten us quite some money, however, we had more fun things to do than to work on a software.

For this issue, I don’t have data. So let me use a behavioral method to predict (a.k.a guess).

Some people said Romer and Tirole, I don’t think they can be put together. They are working in different areas, and they are kind of young for Nobel. Romer is invited to UST for an IAS talk, they typically only invite nobel prize winners, so I guess he has a good chance this time, if not next. Tirole is amazing, I liked his papers, his books, and his lectures (He came to MIT to guest lecture in the IO class. Erik and I went to him once to consult about our idea on innovation incentives. He pointed us to some Michael Spence’s papers, they can not be more relevant). Only problem is that he’s too young.

I was reading quite a few papers on efficient market hypothesis these days due to a project on price’s informational role in asset markets. (Why I’m writing a finance paper? This is related to information! And to me, everything related to information is related to information technology). Fama and Shleifer were quoted so many times. I’m not a big fun of EMH (efficient market hypothesis), but who ever contributed to it lead finance into the prime time in b-schools. Fama should definitely be credited for it.

I took Holmstrom’s class, he has some very influential papers, so I guess he has a good chance.

Robert Gordon contributed significantly to Macroeconomics, but under two grounds I don’t think he’s the one. 1. there has been some recent awards in Macro, can’t be so soon. 2. he really doesn’t understand IT and its impact to the society. I was totally disappointed by his keynote speech in last year’s WISE conference at Northwestern U.

Overall, I would vote for Fama and Shleifer. If I can not do it correctly, I’ll develop a Bayesian model on this next year. :-)

Can’t wait till Oct 15 to get the result.

Forthcoming Seminars at the Institute of Advanced Studies

Sunday, October 7th, 2007 -- By ET

Really look forward to some of them.


October 9

Numerical Simulation of Particle Clustering for Particulate Flow in a Spinning Cylinder

Prof Roland Glowinski

Department of Mathematics and Department of Mechanical Engineering

University of Houston

October 26

New Directions in Science: The Search for Fractional Charge Particles

Prof Martin Perl

Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

Stanford University

Nobel Laureate in Physics

October 29

Entrepreneurship and Incentives

Prof James Mirrlees

Chinese University of Hong Kong and University of Cambridge

Nobel Laureate in Economics

November 9

Reference Points and Theory of the Firm

Prof Oliver Hart

Department of Economics

Harvard University

November 16

Prof Paul Romer

Graduate School of Business

Stanford University

November 20

Prof Karoly Nikolich

Neuroscience Institute

Stanford University

December 3-7

Prof George Papanicolaou

Department of Mathematics

Stanford University

December 9-13

Workshop on Mathematics of Multi-Scale Problems

I Hate Easter Eggs

Sunday, October 7th, 2007 -- By ET

I always wondered why we need bloated software packages just to do simple word processing.  There is something called easter egg in software programs.  For example, I learned many years ago that when you type certain things in Excel, you get a 3-D flying simulator.  No wonder Office became so large even when I was using 16MB memory.  (Time flies, I’m ordering a machine with 16GB memory, Yee! Moore’s Law!)

Just learned that Google Earth has that too.  It’s a flight simulator, simply press Command-Option-A (Caps Lock on to get capital A).  It’s not bad, I crashed my plane twice in two minutes.  While I always get amazed by how innovative Google has been, I really don’t like this idea.  They are wasting (1) some best programmers’ time, (2) millions of people’s computer resources.

If they like to do a flight simulator, why not just make one and release it?

Check Mac’s Battery Capacity

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007 -- By ET

When the battery is fully charged, do this in the terminal:

ioreg -l | grep -i LegacyBatteryInfo

If the number following capacity is below 2000, then the battery is quite wasted. Normally, it should be more than 4000.

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