How the Survivor Bias Distorts Reality

Finally , My August installment for my Scientific American column is here. With this elegant delay, here it is:

Trying to understand what made the mercurial genius so successful. Want to be the next Steve Jobs and create the next Apple Computer? Drop out of college and start a business with your buddies in the garage of your parents’ home. How many people have followed the Jobs model and failed? Who knows? No one writes books about them and their unsuccessful companies. But venture capitalists (VCs) have data on the probability of a garage start-up becoming the Next Big Thing.

Read it all Here

Survivor bias

Survivor bias

The Ultimate Luxury: a Doorman

Latest WSJ illustration for an article dealing with the NY real estate phenomenon:
Luxury condo owners in New York City pay 65% more per square foot in buildings that have a doorman

New Yorkers want doorman service at their luxury condo buildings, and they’ll pay a premium for the privilege, according to recent sales data.

The average price a square foot for apartments in doorman buildings was $2,958, roughly 65% more than in non-doorman buildings, which sold for $1,797 a square foot. CityRealty, a real-estate data site, looked at 2014 sales through the third quarter of the year in 200 luxury condo buildings in New York City—half with doorman service and half without.

Read the res here.

The doormen.jpg

The Doormen.jpg

The Ultimate Luxury: a Doorman

The Ultimate Luxury: a Doorman

And an additional rough idea:

The doorman's-real estate enhancement

The doorman’s real-estate enhancement


Penetration tests

A penetration test, or the short form pentest, is an attack on a computer system with the intention of finding security weaknesses, potentially gaining access to it, its functionality and data (Wikipedia)

Last week I was commissioned by G magazine to come up with idea for a cover dealing with the concept of Penetration tests.
Through the article I have acquainted myself with the topic and came up with two ideas.

Penetration tests- two initial ideas

Penetration tests two initial ideas

Eventually, Both the editors and myself elected to go with B… I felt like I was heading towards a bundle of fun. and so it was.

Penetration tests-AW

Penetration tests-AW


Penetration tests- detail-2

Penetration tests detail-1


Penetration tests- detail-1

Penetration tests detail-2

And here is another well worded description of what penetration tests are all about, which I have found on the site of potech-consulting

Penetration tests are a way to simulate the presence of a hacker trying to attack your information systems. They are a great way to identify vulnerabilities present in a system or network that has existing security measures in place. A penetration test usually involves the use of attacking methods conducted by trusted individuals that are similarly used by hostile intruders or hackers. Depending on the type of test that is conducted, this may involve a simple scan of IP addresses to identify machines that are offering services with known vulnerabilities or even exploiting known vulnerabilities that exist in an un-patched operating system. The results of these tests or attacks are then documented and presented as a report to the owner of the system and the vulnerabilities identified can then be resolved.A penetration test is characterized by a person at a computer behaving as a hacker would, running a series of manual, simulated attacks against your information systems.

Best freinds

Last weekend’s crop: 7 Days magazine double spread opened a series of testimonies by the permanent columns writers around the theme of their best freinds

Best freinds - Spread

Best friends – Spread


Amongst the writers, you can find my weekly column wordsmith, Shlomo Artzi, who told the story about his two best friends which he presented to his readers as anonymous.

Best freinds - Artzi

anonymous best friends – Artzi

A looming Scottish UK divorce

A great sense of nervousness is engulfing the British isles; the northern most important member of the union seem to no longer be interested in this partnership.

On September 18th, the Scots will be invited to vote in a referendum on their national identity.

Tim Harford, in his FT column, (here) covered some of possible implications that may come a result of this historical referendum.

The Scottish referendum

The Scottish referendum

The Mayflower returns

The editor mailed me with the initial concept for the article while it was being written. The topic was the elimination of certain American literary classics of the new UK syllabus. Despite living in Paris, I am an avid listener to BBC radio four, which provides me, apart from my favorite drama programs, the best current affairs programs. so, I was very well-informed about the topic.

The first idea the popped up in my mind was the Mayflower, being the vehicle which first exported the Anglo-saxon culture to the American shores, is now making the journey again, only this time with returned cultural goods, back to the new world.

The Mayflower- rough

The Mayflower -rough

The Mayflower , no -line version

The Mayflower , no -line version

The Mayflower , final version

The Mayflower , final version

WSJ - The Mayflower