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Friday Fun for the IT Crowd (Aug. 1)

August 01, 2014

The Big (Data) Easy

Analyzing Big Data isn’t easy, but should it be? Well-funded startup Palantir created a complicated platform that connects data from Oracle, Hadoop and NoSQL data stores to produce intelligence used for counterterrorism, crime prevention, fraud detection and disaster planning, among other functions. Now it’s taking an unusual step: making its applications user-friendly. GigaOM reports that Palantir recently rearchitected their database to make it simpler, and then acquired a small startup that helps people build native mobile BI apps using intuitive drag-and-drop tools. The company already invests heavily in creating interfaces that will allow nontechnical users to do some heavy data analysis lifting. Will this force other companies to up their UI game?

Robots or humans: Who will win?

One in five companies reports that they’ve replaced workers with automation (AKA deskilling), according to a new poll by CareerBuilder. And the trend is growing: More than 30 percent of employers indicate they’ll deskill jobs, and IT jobs rank high on the list of positions that will be replaced (right after customer services positions). The good news for workers? First, deskilling hasn’t always worked out—35 percent of companies that tried it ended up hiring workers back. Second, automating work leads to a lot of jobs in —you guessed it—IT.  

Wordpress code love

TechCrunch had a problem: Its Wordpress website was taking up to 17 seconds to load pages. After spending over a year developing code to improve site performance, TechCrunch decided to make that code open source and share it at GitHub.  

Bridging the coding gap … in five-year-olds

Wired’s Marcus Wohlsen makes an impassioned argument for young children to learn coding, or at least a proxy for it. ScratchJr, a new graphic-driven iPad game, allows small children to experiment with some coding concepts, including sequence and iteration. Wohlsen believes understanding coding fundamentals will help remove some of the disconnect from what he dubs the “Touchscreen Generation” with what happens underneath the magic. I’m curious if parents agree (and if our kids are really going to be called “Touchscreen Generation”—please no!) and would love to read your comments. Leave your thoughts below. 

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