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Even better phone cameras

The first digital camera I looked at buying for my photojournalists was offered by the Associated Press at $25,000 per unit.

Needless to say, we just kept right on using film.

That was a long time ago in tech years.

Now, you can get a pretty darn good digital camera for a couple of hundred dollars, if not free. And it comes attached to your cell phone -- a bonus.

In today's American-Statesman it is reported that Samsung and other cell phone makers are planning to put even better cameras in their devices, perhaps approaching what you would pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for in a pro-style camera.

A major question, to me, is whether this will provoke pro camera makers to lower their prices, which are astronomical by comparison.

I can understand paying a lot of money for lenses. But, for the body and software?

I'm not buying that.

Doesn't sound right

Nielsen reports today on smartphone use.

More than two-thirds of mobile subscribers now own smartphones.

In December, Americans spent 34 hours using smartphone apps, about a third of which were on social media.

I don't know how Nielsen gets its numbers these days, but I've long doubted the accuracy of what they have to say.

This report I'm very suspicious of, because 34 hours sounds way too low.

That would be only eight hours per week, and it seems to me just from observing folks around here that they are on their darn phones every waking minute.

Really big data

The same day I posted in this space a blog about big data a new book came into the library with my name on it as a reserve about the very same subject.

It's called "Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture," and it is by Erez Aiden and Jean-Baptiste Michel, the two guys who invented the Ngram Viewer that Google now makes available.

I have used Ngram Viewer for research, but was unaware of its background and the sorts of searches being performed by scientists and students of the humanities and mathematics such as Aiden and Michel.

This book is a fascinating look at this important search engine development.

Right now, Google has scanned in about 30 million books of about 150 million available. So Ngram Viewer can only access that number in a word or ngram search. The two authors think all books will be in the database by 2020.

Check out Ngram Viewer by going to Google and searching its apps, or go to Google Books.

No doubt about it

I have written before about the revelatory slide show that was presented at a conference on parenting that I attended in Austin years and years ago.

The slides were photos taken from MRI images of children's brains. They were taken by a child neuroscientist in Houston.

What the MRIs showed was indisputable evidence that children who are neglected lack significant brain development.

Those of in attendance were stunned at this physical proof of something we had only taken on faith. Parenting mattered. Love made a difference -- in major, major ways.

This morning I was listening to a report on NPR about Harvard researchers who have studied Romanian orphans and found through EEGs that those who were neglected were severely damaged.

Clearly, we have been shown over and over again for years piled upon years that every child must be nurtured.

The question, of course, is how we make that happen.

And I don't have a good answer.

Depicting cool data

So much data, so little time ...

As an editor and then as a teacher I tried to emphasize to my copy editors and reporters and students the importance of knowing something about numbers. All too many of them didn't listen.

I'm not great at math, but I do have an interest in numbers and how they can be manipulated in the "lies, damn lies and statistics" manner.

Just as intriguing to me in the last half-dozen years or so has been to see what people can do with datasets and computer mapping programs, among other types of dataset illumination.

I guess I could easily spend full-time looking at maps built on datasets. My wife forwarded me an e-mail that had about 20 websites to visit with different dataset images to see and enjoy.

One I found today that's interesting is a map of all the wind turbine sites in the United States.

Very cool.

Check it out at this site.