Databases could help gives clues to who will win Oscar races

For movie buffs, the Academy Awards are often compared to the Super Bowl. Once a year, the best and most accomplished get together to determine who performed the best over the previous year, replete with weeks of lead-in coverage and millions of dollars spent on performances and ads. And just like with the Super Bowl, interested parties enjoy making their predictions on who will win. Traditionally, these parties have included film geeks, entertainment press and industry professionals, but now, there's a new group among those ranks: data scientists. 

One company, ICC, has been delving into the Oscar-guessing world via Farsite, its analytical arm. They recently posted their predictions, which are based on the sophisticated modeling used by their custom database software. Farsite also posted a brief description of how their algorithms work, which is of particular note considering that their predictions were so close to spot-on last year. 

The company was able to accurately guess winners in five out of the six major categories, which include Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Director. They were particularly unique in predicting that Christoph Waltz would walk away with the hardware for his supporting turn in the Quentin Tarantino slave epic Django Unchained. 

In an explanation on their site, Farsite detailed some of the variables that go into making their predictions. 

"We'll use a first-of-its kind data-modeling tool to predict Oscar winners again this year. The model incorporates more than 40 years of film industry and Academy Award related information to forecast probabilities for the winners. This information includes real-time data and an array of variables, including total nominations, other Guild nominations and wins, buzz and nominees' previous winning performances," reads the site.

This Academy Award Season, they expect 12 Years a Slave to walk away with Best Picture, Alfonso Cuaron to win Best Director, Matthew McConaughey to walk away with Best Actor, Cate Blanchett to take down the Best Actress award, Jared Leto to win Best Supporting Actor and Lupita Nyong'o to get the hardware for Best Supporting Actress. 

Will they be right? The answers will be revealed on this Sunday's Oscar telecast. In any event, their predictive software indicates one of the many uses for programs like FileMaker, that are able to seamlessly capture and parse a large amount of data. 

NASA uses analytics to study the stars

Few organizations deal with bigger questions than NASA. While many companies have to deal with concerns about people thousands of miles apart, the distances that NASA is worried about stretch into the light-years. 

It's no surprise, then, that they would turn to Big Data. Custom web application development is a powerful tool, and for issues of the scope that they're dealing with, perhaps the only appropriate one. 

Round the clock, NASA has over 100 devices scattered throughout our solar system (including some here on Earth!), gathering information. They take in a lot of data — so much so, in fact, that at the Jet Propulsion Lab, parsing it, storing it and analyzing it is a full-time job. 

Because it gets so much data, sorting through it all can be a chore. The ultimate question scientists have to ask themselves is "what's signal, and needs to be kept, and what's just noise and can be readily discarded?"

To answer these questions, NASA turns to the use of complex algorithms. These computational shortcuts allow scientists not to have to observe every batch of data by hand, a task that would be literally impossible in the volumes that they're collecting. Instead, once the unmanned rovers, satellites and telescopes transmit their information to the servers, the process of scanning it and sorting it is automated. 

Kiri Wagstaff, who works in the machine learning sector of the propulsion lab, described the process that her division goes through when collecting knowledge. 

"Our software picks it up and makes a decision whether something interesting happened in the past five milliseconds. Our detection algorithm looks for correlations amongst all of the radio telescopes. If [an object is] popping up on all of them and not just one, they come together to make a quick decision whether or not to send it into classification," she told Forbes.

She's even more optimistic for the future of these devices. Wagstaff revealed to Forbes that there was room for improvements in the algorithms, especially in the area of better categorizing false events. As the algorithms get better, they will "learn" how not to prioritize these events. In addition, they will be able to move through this entire process significantly more quickly. 

For most organizations, the sky is the limit with what they can do with Big Data. For NASA, the possibilities stretch far beyond. 

FileMaker 13 showcase a massive success

As we've discussed on this blog in the past, FileMaker 13 has an exciting range of new functionalities. KYO Logic was excited to showcase some of the more powerful ones earlier this month, and would like to formally thank those of you that braved the snow to attend and share in the possibilities. 

Guests were treated to the presence of Mia Roop and Ronnie Rios, both of FileMaker Inc. Mr. Rios, who was the featured speaker at the event, is a Solutions Consultant at the company, and brought with him over 15 years experience in consulting and database software solutions development. For over half a decade, he wore an Apple badge providing pre and post-sales technical assistance to customers, developing internal systems and reporting tools, and ultimately growing into Technology Coordinator and Consultant roles. A FileMaker Certified Developer and Authorized Trainer, he also holds an MBA, several Apple certifications, and is fluent in Spanish.

He and Ms. Roop were instrumental in discussing some of the more powerful features, including FileMaker WebDirect, FileMaker Go, Custom Themes, Popovers and Slide Controls, Object Control Visibility, 256 bit AES encryption, and more. These tools are instrumental in creating user-friendly applications with better interface, security and mobility options. 

As Connecticut FileMaker developers, we at KYO logic were thrilled to not only have such knowledgeable guests from FileMaker, but also such interesting and engaged attendees. We hope you continue to check out this blog, and would like to once again extend our gratitude to those that were able to come. 

FileMaker 13 vastly improves ‘Go’ capabilities

One of the reasons that FileMaker has managed to be successful for over two decades is the company's firm commitment to innovation. Few companies have been able to navigate the ever-changing tech waters like FileMaker, which has seamlessly integrated new capabilities over the years to keep its classic offerings imminently modern. 

The newest iteration, FileMaker 13, has instituted many changes to benefit customers looking to organize and analyze data more effectively. Many of the most impressive of these come bundled with "Go,", the mobile application for the custom database software, now available on iPad and iPhone via the App Store. What makes the program especially convenient is that its a universal app, meaning that you only need one download to use it on all of your iOS devices, whether they're running iOS 6 or iOS 7.

While Go has been available in the past, the newest version has a slew of new features and improvements, making it easier than ever to create custom business solutions. 

Better keyboard types

Data entry can be a painstaking and meticulous process. With this app, it's quicker and easier than ever, thanks to new input options. You can choose between a variety of keyboards, including ASCII, URL, email, numeric 10-key, number keypad, phone number and number and punctuation. All of these choices are specified in FileMaker Pro 13 for use in the mobile application. 

Bar code scanning

These days, more information is stored on bar codes than ever before. They're not just for supermarkets and other retailers anymore: now, students, job-seekers and researchers are all keeping data in the form of upright black bars. With the latest version of FileMaker Go, you can scan them instantly, and any associated data will be immediately populated into the correct fields. This is possible for a number of different types of codes, including UPC and QR. 

Starter Solutions

Getting started with FileMaker Go has never been more simple. Design clues are available in a freshly designed portal, making it easier to organize contacts, assets, content management and invoices. 

Seamless controls

You don't have to think of content in terms of static boxes anymore. Instead of a program like Excel, which constrains you to particular fields and isn't particularly dynamic, FileMaker now allows you to create multiple sliding panels so that your content can exist in changeable regions. This is especially valuable considering the sometimes limited space on mobile devices, which are built specifically for moveable pieces. 

To this end, you can use the swipe gestures you've become accustomed to on these devices. One finger changes panels to a slide control, and two can be used to change records. 

Better security

The integrity of your information is critical. It's why better encryption was added to FileMaker Go 13. Now, data is encrypted while on your device or hosted on FileMaker Server 13, as well as when it's moving over a network on the web. An AES 256-bit encryption means that you never have to worry about losing valuable information, even if your device is lost or stolen. 

Looking to get the most out of this new, exciting software? Working with a Connecticut FileMaker developer can help you design the sort of custom solutions that make your company more efficient and increase profits. 

Can Big Data turn marketers into executives?

For marketers, being able to use Big Data has long been a valuable skill. Understanding how to segment and describe different sectors of your customer base is the first step in providing them with a customized experience, and it takes a keen awareness of numbers to compete in today's digital marketplace. In fact, research firm Circle Research estimates that more than 80 percent of marketing professionals have turned to analytics in some way.  

Now, those same skills are becoming more and more valuable for executives. 

Big Data is no longer just about how to reach consumers most effectively. Now, it's also suffused throughout every aspect of running a business. In the past, learning how to use FileMaker might have been the domain of a single middle-manager. These days, however, these sorts of skills are becoming more germane to what it means to be a CEO. 

In an interview with Marketing Magazine UK, Drew Nicholson, the chief executive of dnx, describes the importance of these capabilities for top-level executives. 

"CMO's have been given the biggest opportunity they've had in 50 years. Data will give them insights and opportunities that they've never had before, but they have to do it well or they won't gain stature. If they use the wrong data then they'll lose credibility," said Nicholson.

Trying to decide the best person to lead your company? These days, the right candidate will need some facility with programs like FileMaker. If your organization is lacking in these sorts of skills, it's in danger of falling behind the curve. 

Real benefit of Big Data lies in analysis

Much of the conversation surrounding Big Data is about, well, how big it is. The sheer volume of information available is a frequent topic of discussion, and for good reason: an absolutely startling amount of knowledge has been collected, quantities that were once unthinkable. While reasonable, this sort of analysis misses one of the primary benefits of the data revolution. 

Namely, that it's not just about how much information is out there but how much we can do with it. Through use of algorithms — rules that govern computational methodology — researchers can now solve complex problems with just a fraction of the time and energy. 

Consider, for example, Weatherhead University professor Gary King. One of his peers had a mass of information that seemed daunting. He estimated that it would take a highly specialized computer to get through it all, one that could cost up to $2 million. 

Within two hours, King and a group of graduate students came up with a solution. Using nothing more than an algorithm and a laptop, they figured out a way to perform the same task in just 20 minutes. 

"There is a movement of quantification rumbling across fields in academia and science, industry and government and nonprofits," explains King.

While it is undoubtedly exciting how much information can fit into custom database software, the real value in working with a FileMaker developer comes in parsing and analyzing it. Without the right structure in place, having a pile of data can be more confusing than enlightening. With the right support system, however, Big Data can open up the capability for truly stunning feats of insight. 

How to blend instinct and Big Data

When it comes to Big Data, many businesses are at something of a crossroads. They have the analytical capabilities afforded by the FileMaker service, but also have decision-making processes in place still heavily tied to instincts. In many organizations, managers are unwilling to forgo their gut feelings in favor of a conclusion suggested by a database, and in such instances wholesale changes are rare. 

One of the major hurdles is that some of the conclusions suggested by FileMaker entail dealing with the unknown. Executives can be reluctant to fully embrace this concept, because they don't often have a personal history to fall back on that suggests that it will work. Thus, they consider it briefly, but ultimately default to processes they've already seen before. 

There's ample evidence to suggest that this is the wrong approach. The key to business success is flexibility and adaptation, and a company that isn't able to move forward with the times runs the risk of being left behind. Speaking to, Guy Cuthbert, managing director at the visual analytics firm Atheon Analytics, described the potential inherent in programs like FileMaker. 

"I see a huge number of opinion-operated businesses that don't get why decisions could be made on data. I've listened to executives spout all sorts of opinions with no fabric or no substance behind them at all," Cuthbert said. "So if data animators and data scientists can do anything, it's to try and teach the rest of our peers in businesses that there are a fascinating number of facts located in their organization if they just choose to look at them."

Of course, this information is only relevant if it's properly oriented within the greater context of the business's mission and organizational goals: that's where an experienced manager comes in. 

The role of an executive shouldn't be to impede progress or to ignore the developments in technology that could help move his or her company into an industry leadership role. Instead, it's critical that a manager uses the instincts honed by a historical tie with the company to help contextualize new decisions within a greater framework. In that way, Big Data and gut feelings aren't mutually exclusive but rather eminently compatible. When used to support each other, they can help guide a savvy company to sustainable success. 

Big Data could revolutionize social media on mobile

In a metaphorical sense, the Internet is everywhere. People around the globe share access to the same information, and can communicate with a speed and frequency previously unthinkable. 

However, the Internet is also everywhere in a much more literal sense. With the rise of mobile devices, more consumers have access to to the web from virtually anywhere. In fact, this spread is the catalyst for unprecedented growth in the amount of data that can be shared: estimates indicate that the size of the Internet will double within the next few years

This is big news for businesses that are able to take advantage of these changes. Mobile SEO is critical for drawing and retaining customers, and companies that don't keep these lessons in mind are in danger of falling behind: 84 percent of shoppers use their phones while in a physical retail location. 

Managed IT services software will play a big role in a company's ability to seamlessly integrate these lessons. In an article for Silicon Angle, author Ryan Cox highlights the need for this sort of development. 

"Big Data tactics + the drag-net that is required to capture that mobile data is the future of both commerce and communication. And despite being late to the party, search was invited. Mobile SEO is going to become the gateway to being discovered by the '80 percent' customer base of the future. With every passing day mobile SEO is becoming increasingly important to your bottom line, whether you realize it or not," Cox writes. 

If you're not considering how to use Big Data to engage customers, they could be gone before you realize it. 

Big Data could revolutionize the way we problem-solve

Like Kant in the 18th century, Big Data could shift the entire framework of how we discuss and solve problems. 

Kant's primary contention was that there were two forms of understanding: analytic and synthetic. The former comprises facts that are axiomatic and based on nothing more than logic. Two and two will always sum four, even when you have no other evidence. Synthetic truths, however, are only realizable through access to external data, and can't simply be "figured out" logically. 

Until recently, computers were very good at the first sort of calculation. Given enough time and memory, they could solve incredibly complex problems, as long as the parameters were entered correctly and each step logically followed the next. 

It's the rise of custom database software that has begun to allow computers to excel at synthetic analysis. By creating the infrastructure for machines to collect and analyze data, we've garnered an ability to harness their power and apply it to the sort of complex problem solving once the exclusive domain of humans. 

Writing for VentureBeat, Venture Capitalist Zavain Dar explored this new possibility. 

"Fundamentally, we're seeing a shift in how we approach problems. By removing ourselves from the intellectual and perhaps philosophical burden of positing structures and axioms, we no longer rely on step function driven analytical insights. Rather, we're seeing widespread infrastructural adoption to accelerate the adoption of synthetic problem solving," Dar explained. 

If your business isn't at least considering a custom web application to help with its problem solving, it could be at a serious disadvantage. 

Analytics could help keep your neighborhood safe

One of the most fundamental facets of police work is information collection. After a crime is committed, an officer usually has a very limited window to gather as much knowledge as possible to build a compelling case and arrest those responsible. To do so, they have to rely on every tool at their disposal, as well as their own intuition and experience. 

More and more, analytics are becoming a valuable part of that skillset. Not only can custom database software help catch crooks, it could even prevent crime before it occurs. 

There are several ways that Big Data can help in law enforcement efforts. For one, it can help departments figure out where best to deploy officers through sophisticated analysis of crime patterns. It can also help find information more much more quickly, an important benefit when collaboration is necessary. In addition, analytics can help precincts figure out how best to deploy their money and time, which can lead to big savings that can be allocated elsewhere or passed on to the taxpayers. 

Most importantly, it works. Once the LAPD installed PredPol analytics software, property crime rates dropped 12 percent in half a year. Memphis used a similar system and found a 30 percent decrease in serious crime between 2006 and 2010. 

An article in Information Week highlights the value of these sorts of initiatives. 

"Analytics above all is part of a new wave of disruptive technologies that help law enforcement agencies combat crime. It has the power to give even modest-sized operations real-time intelligence about their communities, helping better equip police officers in the field. And it promises to help law enforcement leaders develop more effective police services for the future," explains author Wai-Ming Yu. 

For any forward-thinking government agency, analytics has to be a consideration.