Exploring the Wall Street Journal’s Pulitzer-Winning Medicare Investigation with SQL

This is a SQL-based introduction to the data and analysis behind the Wall Street Journal’s Pulitzer-winning “Medicare Unmasked” investigative project. It also doubles as a helpful guide if you’re attempting the midterm based on the WSJ Medicare’s investigation.

Source: Exploring the Wall Street Journal’s Pulitzer-Winning Medicare Investigation with SQL | Public Affairs Data Journalism at Stanford University

To follow along in this walkthrough, you can download my SQLite database here:

You Can’t Backdoor a Platform

Cryptographic backdoors will not work. As a matter of technology, they are deeply incompatible with modern software platforms. And as a matter of policy and law, addressing those incompatibilities would require intolerable regulation of the technology sector. Any attempt to mandate backdoors will merely escalate an arms race, where usable and secure software stays a step ahead of the government.

The easiest way to understand the argument is to walk through a hypothetical. I’m going to use Android; much of the same analysis would apply to iOS or any other mobile platform.

Source: You Can’t Backdoor a Platform | Web Policy

Orbital computing: An amazing atomic-level tech for future computers

The new technology — or shall we say, science — is being developed by Joshua Turner at Stanford’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. He calls the idea “orbital computing” since the bit that stores the it would be the orbits of electrons around the nucleus of an atom. The goal is to be able to probe the electron clouds of single atoms using terahertz waves of just the right size. The catch is that to generate a tight enough pulse of sufficient intensity to do this, you need an accelerator two miles long. But if you manage that, you can switch electron states 10,000 times faster than transistor states can be switched.

via Orbital computing: An amazing atomic-level tech for future computers | ExtremeTech.

Not even Joshua Turner is expecting orbital computing to be a workable technology any time soon. Most of his experiments are aimed at understanding what might be going on. He is merely looking into the crystal ball with a telescope and seeing what is even imaginable.

Stanford team tries for zippier Wi-Fi in crowded buildings

Meanwhile, the underlying tasks of assigning client devices to particular channels and access points are centrally controlled to make the best use of the infrastructure. Where separately owned and managed APs may make poor use of the unlicensed frequencies available in the building, the centrally controlled network can use its universal view to arrange the resources most efficiently.

via Stanford team tries for zippier Wi-Fi in crowded buildings – Network World.

Artificial Photosynthesis Made Practical

If you want hydrogen to power an engine or a fuel cell, it’s far cheaper to get it from natural gas than to make it by splitting water. Solar power, however, could compete with natural gas as a way to make hydrogen if the solar process were somewhere between 15 and 25 percent efficient, says the U.S. Department of Energy. While that’s more than twice as efficient as current approaches, researchers at Stanford University have recently developed materials that could make it possible to hit that goal. The work is described in the journal Science.

via Artificial Photosynthesis Made Practical | MIT Technology Review.

Stanford Researchers Make Flexible Solar Cells that Stick to Just About Any Surface

Researchers led by Xiaolin Zheng, a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford University, demonstrated a way to transfer the active materials of the solar cell from a rigid substrate onto another surface, such as a sheet of paper or plastic, the roof of a car, or the back of a smartphone. As with other solar cells, wires would then be connected to deliver power, but flexible solar cells could be used on curved surfaces, and, because they’re lightweight, they would be easier to install than conventional panels.

via Stanford Researchers Make Flexible Solar Cells that Stick to Just About Any Surface | MIT Technology Review.

An Introduction to Computer Networks

This is an introductory course on computer networking, specifically the Internet. It focuses on explaining how the Internet works, ranging from how bits are modulated on wires and in wireless to application-level protocols like BitTorrent and HTTP. It also explains the principles of how to design networks and network protocols. Students gain experience reading and understanding RFCs (Internet protocol specifications) as statements of what a system should do. The course grounds many of the concepts in current practice and recent developments, such as net neutrality and DNS security.

via Stanford Online | An Introduction to Computer Networks | Preview.

This is a free course for online but the first class starts tomorrow.


Students need an introductory course in probability, a strong understanding of bits and bytes, and knowledge of how computers lay out data in memory.

File and Data Storage: AFS

AFS Andrew File System is a distributed, networked file system that enables efficient file sharing between clients and servers. AFS files are accessible via the Web or through file transfer programs such as OpenAFS or Fetch Macintosh and SecureFX Windows. Currently all users with a full-service SUNet ID are granted 2 GB of AFS file space. Additional disk space is available by request for faculty-sponsored research including dissertations.

via File and Data Storage: AFS | Information Technology Services.

Stanford researchers discover the ‘anternet’

On the surface, ants and the Internet don’t seem to have much in common. But two Stanford researchers have discovered that a species of harvester ants determine how many foragers to send out of the nest in much the same way that Internet protocols discover how much bandwidth is available for the transfer of data. The researchers are calling it the “anternet.”

via Stanford researchers discover the ‘anternet’.