How Green is the Cloud? – A Field Trip to Cal Tech

How Green is the Cloud? – A Field Trip to Cal Tech

Wednesday, April 19, 2017 3pm-10pm

Have you ever wondered how much energy it takes to run a single Google search? It may haunt you, but every search query Google executes is equivalent to turning on a 60W light bulb for 17 seconds! Google Search, like many other technologies we use, including uploading grams to Insta or playing with filters on Snap, rely on cloud computing services.

Background: On April 19th, the Department of Computer Science and Prof. Brian Thoms will bring a group of 20 students to Cal Tech to tour the campus, have a small bite to eat and attend the Earnest C. Watson Seminar Series. The seminar, titled, “How Green is the Cloud,” will be given by Dr. Adam Wierman, and will introduce students to his ongoing research at Caltech aimed at building a sustainable computing infrastructure—one where data centers are powered by renewable energy and even serve as virtual energy-storage facilities for more broadly integrating renewable energy into the electrical grid. Participating students will also receive a copy of the text, Sustainability Principles and Practice.

You can discover more about Dr. Wierman and the Cal Tech lecture series here:

Who is invited: All CI students are invited, but preference will be given to students majoring or minoring in computing-related fields. There are 20 spots!

Logistics: Buses will leave CI around 3pm on Wednesday, April 19th and will return around 10pm.

Contact Info: Students interested in participating, should contact Prof. Thoms for more information.

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Yahoo! Taking a Page from SocialXYZ!

To quote my favorite Irish play-write, who happens to be my favorite play-write, Oscar Wilde, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.”

Last week my colleague asked me to go to Yahoo! and search for… Well… Anything, he said. Then he asked me to hover on one of the links that appeared on the right sidebar. What I found was very surprising. It seems that Yahoo! took a page from SocialXYZ and the research I have been working on four a few years now. Although the visualizations are not identical, the concept certainly is. The question is, “When will I see my royalty checks?” Regardless of the payout, I found it pretty flattering and certainly helped reinforce the project’s intitial goals.

Yahoo!’ News InterfaceYahoo

SocialXYZ’s Discussion Board Interface


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Here is the word cloud and abstract for work I co-authored, titled, “Towards a Sentiment Analyzing Discussion-board,” which will be presented at the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences on January 7, 2017. This work is a collaborative effort with help from student-researchers Glo Mercado, Benjamin Ramirez, Jose Rodriguez and Asst. Professor Evren Erylimaz.

Abstract: In this paper we present the design and construction of a sentiment analyzing discussion board, which was used to support learning and interaction within an existing online social networking (OSN) system. More specifically, this research introduces an innovative extension to learning management software (LMS) that combines real-time sentiment analysis with the goal of fostering student engagement and course community. In this study we perform data mining to extract sentiment on over 6,000 historical discussion board posts. This initial data was analyzed for sentiment and interaction patterns and used for guiding the redesign of an existing asynchronous online discussion board (AOD). The redesign incorporates a sentiment analyzer, which allows users to analyze the sentiment of their individual contributions prior to submission. Preliminary results found that the proposed system produced more favorable outcomes when compared to existing AOD software.

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Upgrading to Google Pixel XL

snowglobe-la After two years with the Nexus 6, a phablet that provided me with a very low-cost and powerful smartphone, I’ve upgraded back to a more pricier model. Not being happy with the bloat-ware that comes with Samsung devices and those devices subsidized through telecom companies and I’ll never get anything iOS again, I’ve chosen the hot-off-the assembly line, Google Pixel XL smartphone.

The first thing I’m pretty excited about is the ability to starting taking high-quality snaps again. I haven’t been able to do this since my Samsung Galaxy. And wow, my Pixel hasn’t left me disappointed. I won’t go into device comparisons between apple and samsung, it’s just nice to have a great point, shoot and send I carry with me everywhere I go.

The next thing I’m excited about is continuing to use Google Fi, which I absolutely love. I’m not sure how long Google’s experiment will last, but I am thankful to not have to deal with Verizon, At&t or Sprint when it comes to cell service. And I still love how Google refunds me for unused data. They treat data as a tangible item, which makes sense since it’s purchased with real dollars. Oh, and Google runs all sorts of fun promos. For the holiday season, they gifted me $10 in Google Play credit. Pretty neat!

Lastly, I love how seamless Google Pay is. I was at Dive N’ Surf in Redondo Beach the other day doing a bit of Christmas shopping and the checkout read ‘Accepts Apple Pay’. Yeah… Right… I put my Google Pixel up and it registered and purchased my items instantly. It would be nice for those devices to advertise for Google Pay as well. I find myself holding my phone up to everything these days…

In the end, while I think that smartphones are reaching the zenith of their wow factor, I like the high-quality nature of the Google Pixel XL. Everything flows incredibly smoothly from notifications, and the ability to respond tomessages in the notifications bar, to application start-times and a simple, quick and easy way to toggle between apps. As a researcher in human computer interaction (or HCI as we dub it), I’m a big fan of high-quality user interface design and Android 7.1 continues to beat iOS on so many fronts. On that note, I also love the fact I still have a 3.5mm headphone jack!

Happy Holidays!


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CSU Channel Islands Reaffirms Commitment to Diversity

CSU Channel IslandsI just finished creating the new webspace for CSU Channel Island’s pledge to diversity. Rather than get into the surrounding politics, the goal of the site is to allow CI community members including faculty, administration and staff to publicly acknowledge their commitment to support students regardless of their background or chosen lifestyles in line with the university’s four mission pillars that center on international affairs, integrative studies, multicultural learning and community engagement.

From the technical standpoint, the backend is built atop PHP and MySQL using Bootstrap to drive the front-end. There is still so much to love about PHP… In the future, we plan to incorporate a blogging engine and file repository for community members to keep the content dynamic and relevant.

Check out more here:

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