Drop #174 (2023-01-10): Upgrade, Repair, And Automate/Empower (But Verify)
Gephi 0.10; Deere John; Risky [Data] Business
Programming Note: I have a more focused edition coming on password managers that will include a surprise guest author contribution (they're dropping deets on how to use KeePassXC everywhere, which likely gives the author's identity away to about 1/15th of the newsletter subscriber list). I'll be adding more colour to BitWarden (cloud & self-hosted).
There are some decent third place contenders that I can also blog about, but if you've got a setup that enables cross-device password management without relying on a third-party (or if said third-party has as good of a setup as BitWarden does), please reach out! I'm more than glad to provide a third voice/perspective (and, you'll be helping many folks be safe).
I'm a “code-first” individual. I prefer creating repeatable, code-driven processes than hand-crafting something in a GUI environment. However, GUIs have their place, and I do have some kind feels for one GUI environment in particular: Gephi, the “leading visualization and exploration software for all kinds of graphs and networks”.
Gephi is no mere “make spaghetti plots” tool. It's used in:
Exploratory Data Analysis: intuition-oriented analysis by networks manipulations in real time.
Link Analysis: revealing the underlying structures of associations between objects.
Social Network Analysis: easy creation of social data connectors to map community organizations and small-world networks.
Biological Network analysis: representing patterns of biological data.
Poster creation: scientific work promotion with hi-quality printable maps.
and much more.
Version 0.10 may seem like it's not a big update, but it definitely is. New features include:
Global quick search (so, you're no longer confined to Gephi's Data Lab)
Apple Silicon support
Enhancements (specifically better “arrow” support) to graph previews
Better projects management UX
You can find the whole list in the changelog.
“Dear John” letters are traditionally soul-crushing “goodbye” tokens received by those serving on a remote battlefield.
John Deere received their own “Deere John” letter this past weekend when they were told they could kiss their egregious repair costs goodbye after signing an agreement (direct PDF) with the American Farm Bureau Federation that finally allows farmers to fix their own JD kit.
This is the core of what farmers are now allowed to do.
Manufacturer shall ensure that any Farmer, including any staff or independent technician assisting a Farmer at a Farmer's request, and any Independent Repair Facility that provides assistance to Farmers, has electronic access on Fair and Reasonable terms to Manufacturer's Tools, Specialty Tools, Software and Documentation, including:
John Deere Customer Service Advisor
Manuals (Operator, Parts, Service)
Product service demonstrations, training, seminars or clinics
On-board diagnostics via diagnostics port or wireless interface
Other publications with information on service, parts, operation and safety
Manufacturer will ensure that Farmers and Independent Repair Facilities
will be able to access and obtain, per subscription or sale, Manufacturer's Tools, Specialty Tools, Software, and Documentation, as set forth above, from Manufacturer or from Authorized Repair Facilities on Fair and Reasonable terms.
Manufacturer shall ensure that any Farmer, including any staff or independent technician assisting a Farmer at a Farmer's request, and any Independent Repair Facility that provides assistance to Farmers, have electronic access on Fair and Reasonable terms to Customer Service Advisor, which is available for Farmers and Independent Repair Facilities to purchase from Authorized Repair Facilities or online directly from Manufacturer in the United States.
Customer Service Advisor will continue to provide access to operator's and technical manuals, allow the look-up of diagnostic codes, provide machine diagnostic connectivity with Electronic Data Link (“EDL”), and perform machine calibrations that require EDL.
Customer Service Advisor will continue to be available for Independent Repair Facilities to purchase online from Manufacturer in the United States.
Manufacturer shall assure availability of training for any purchaser of Customer Service Advisor.
Manufacturer shall ensure that a Farmer has electronic access on Fair and Reasonable terms to Manufacturer's Codes and Data and, with Farmer authorization, Codes and Data will be available to a Farmer's selected Independent Repair Facility.
Expect price-gouging, new engineering efforts to integrate presently repairable (and, cheap) components into larger, more expensive components, and JD legal shenanigans to eventually find a workaround to this agreement. Until then, score one for U.S. farmers!
Consumers also (kind of recently-ish) scored another victory against greedy manufacturers, winning the right to perform certain repairs on Apple equipment.
Occasionally, we (temporarily) win a few.
Risky [Data] Business
I'm catching up on some longer-ish form articles from December, and wanted to drop this cautionary tale from Reid Blackman and Tamara Sipes on 'The Risks of Empowering “Citizen Data Scientists”'.
New tools are enabling organizations to invite and leverage non-data scientists — say, domain data experts, team members very familiar with the business processes, or heads of various business units — to propel their AI efforts. There are advantages to empowering these internal “citizen data scientists,” but also risks. Organizations considering implementing these tools should take five steps: 1) provide ongoing education, 2) provide visibility into similar use cases throughout the organization, 3) create an expert mentor program, 4) have all projects verified by AI experts, and 5) provide resources for inspiration outside your organization.
I've been concerned about this very topic for well-over seven years, and my cautions go beyond “auto-ML”. Tools like Tableau are also very risky in the hands of folks who can click & drag their way into spurious conclusions.
Just like in every profession, tools work best in the hands of folks who understand them, respect them, and use them in the way they were intended. I am not advocating gatekeeping. I want to help democratize pretty much everything that's been gatekept (I mean, I don't want you being able to make nuclear weapons at home, so there are limits). But, great democratization comes with great responsibility, and we must all do our part to educate, enable, and continually monitor and mentor, to ensure we've not handed the equivalent of loaded weapons into unsuspecting hands.
I learned that most info-workers in Boston WFH Mon/Fri, which is why Monday's commute felt so weird to me. The city will likely be teeming with humans, today, which is a super-scary thought for someone who's usually sequestered in his Maine compound. I wonder if any of the local merchants sell plastic bubbles. ☮