Category Archives: Computing & IT

Google Flu Trends

This is a fascinating demonstration of how search data can be taken advantage of to extract all sorts of information. Google Flu Trends uses search data to build up a picture of flu epidemics in the US. It makes me wonder what other sort of trends can be inferred from search data. Presumably lots of economic indicators could easily be extracted from search data in a similar manner – things like consumer confidence measures, measures of economic activity on a sector-by-sector basis, or other market indicators. The Google database is incredibly large, essentially cataloging the entire internet and people’s search histories. There must be a lot that can be extracted from this vast amount of information.

It’s been a good week

Two good things have happened in the last week. First, Obama won. But more importantly, this week I got my iPhone. I’ve just ordered a book on iPhone programming so I can delve into writing my own apps. I’m also keeping an eye out for the first Android phones (Android is Google’s new platform for mobile phones), which looks to be a very exciting (and more open) platform too.

The iPhone SDK

A few days ago Apple announced the availability of their software development kit (SDK) for the iPhone and iPod Touch. An SDK is the set of tools necessary for developers to write their own iPhone/iPod software. To iPhone users this is very big news, as it means that in the coming months there will be a flood of new possibilities with their devices.

I’ve just started learning Objective-C (a programming language) and Cocoa (a programming framework), the prerequisites for programming for the iPhone, so that I can have a shot at writing my own killer application. In the coming months you may or may not find out what that killer app is. Quite possibly it will be nothing…

I’m excited to see what great applications the software development community will come up with for the iPhone. What will be even more interesting is to see how Google’s answer, ‘Android’, will fare when the first Android phones begin shipping later this year. I intend to learn to program for both platforms. Programming for the iPhone definitely has some advantages over Android, at least for the time being. Namely, the iPhone has a cool built in 3-axis accelerometer, and has a multi-touch interface that supports gesturing. The iPhone SDK is also fully integrated into Apple’s excellent XCode development environment. Combined, these features will allow for some pretty cool iPhone software to be developed.