Who wins the intelligent vote: Obama or Clinton?

Four years ago, I did some analysis of the voting of US states by their average IQ. It found that John Kerry won the 16 most "intelligent" US states, while George W. won the 26 least intelligent.

A similar analysis of the Democratic voting this time around is less conclusive. Of the 25 states that Barack Obama has won to date, the average IQ ranking is 24.6, compared to 21.7 for the 16 that Hillary Clinton has won. (The averages for Bush and Kerry were 34.7 and 10.5 respectively in 2004.)

Obama won Connecticut, the "most intelligent" state, the next four intelligent states being taken by Clinton (Massachusetts, Jersey, New York and Rhode Island). The top ten for which elections have taken place have been evenly divided between the two candidates.

At the bottom end, of the states whose elections have taken place, Obama has won the four least intelligent states (Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, South Carolina) and seven of the bottom ten.

Obama now needs to walk away with at least 44.5% of the remaining delegates to reach the 2,025 winning post, this being the lowest this figure has been in the entire election. Should be an exciting run home.

Calculating the accuracy of a very accurate clock

I read an article this morning about a new type of clock rivalling the world’s most accurate clocks. But when clocks become more accurate than their predecessors, how can you measure their accuracy? Surely, the fact that you can measure that the new clock is more accurate than the old clock means that you had a mechanism for calculating the inaccuracy of the old clock beforehand, which surely means you had a mechanism, physical or otherwise, for providing a more refined time.

At the time of writing, my clock’s saying 07:41:57 GMT. Make that 58, 59…

King’s Cross

King’s Cross is slowly becoming Kings Cross. More and more establishments, some of them well-respected, are ignoring what I assume is the ownership of the cross by the King, deciding instead to imply an anger shared by a whole host of kings.

The recent movement of the King’s Cross Thameslink connection to St. Pancras has prompted whatever company is responsible to erect associated, apostrophe-free signage diverting its customers accordingly. I genuinely believe the trend is down to ignorance rather than defiance.

It will be another bitter blow to punctuation if and when London Underground adopts the trend, removing the apostrophe from the blue bar across its logo. I’m confident that this move is a long way off.


Risks and issues

There are two big problems with most risks and issues registers:

Let’s start with the readability. Usually, they’re a lifeless grid in a tiny font with lots of columns and, depending on your project/programme, lots of rows. There is nothing to distinguish between the rows other than the contents of the eight-point type in each of the cells. Risk or issue titles are unnecessarily verbose, and it’s often not clear what an item represents by reading it.

To solve this problem, include a Headline column in 14-point bold. Maximum of ten words to give a high-level description of what the row is all about. People will read it and say “Ah, yes. I know that one”. And make sure all of the columns are absolutely necessary. Nugatory columns are a pain to fill in, and deflect from the important columns when viewed.

Use 90° text alignment for the short fields like who raised it and assignee to save width for the columns containing important textual information.

Now some pointers to make your registers more manageable.

Don’t hive off closed items. Just close them in the status field. It’s important that you keep them for posterity and completeness, but use Excel’s Custom Views to make sure you don’t see them unless you have to.

Have a single register to house both risks and issues. This is a biggie that I can’t stress enough (or indeed too much). Although some of the columns for each register are subtly different, there are quite a few that are consistent between the two. Keep two registers and your reference numbers get cumbersome, and cutting and pasting from one to another when risks come to fruition is a right pain.

If a column for risks is sufficiently similar in nature to an issues column, then combine the two. Have three heading rows, one for risks, one for issues and one for a combined view. Again, use Custom Views to hide the two title rows that are redundant for a particular view. If you’re showing risks, hide the issues and combined titles, for example.

If columns are being used to determine the Custom View via filtering (e.g. Status: Open; Type: Risk), then hide these two columns in that view—they’re redundant. Instead, include a cell above the title row saying “Open risks” that can be displayed for that view. For each view, have a dedicated row above the title rows purely for this function, summarising the view. This can be printed on every sheet through repeated titles. And if you want, you can succeed it with the number of such records.

A few other points worth making.

Boring post, but necessary. Comments welcome.

Here’s an example, btw.  Risks and issues.

The Tenby Ten

A friend from work today pointed me to tenbyten.org, a site designed to surface 100 identically-sized pictures every hour (displayed in a ten by ten rectangle) that best summarise the news of that hour, each with a short news snippet available on clicking the picture. (On first reading the url, I thought it might be a site dedicated to ten wrongly tried people from South Wales.)

His proposal to me was to develop an algorithm that could use the relative traffic of the pictures to determine their relative size, and to display them similarly as a continuous rectangle, complete with edges smoth as a jigsaw.

It’s a conundrum that I’ve often thought about, sparked by puzzles popular with children and indeed the Krypton Factor, where you have to fit various shapes into a fixed, two-dimensional square. But those puzzles were designed for the pieces to fit neatly into the solution. The problem posed is open to the vagueries caused by pictures whose relative sizes are beyond our control. Unless you’re willing to accept some undesirable gaps, or similarly unacceptable raggedy edges, it can’t be done I’m afraid. Unless you’re very lucky with your traffic volumes.

Alonso wants Hamilton to win in 2008?

There was an article surfaced on the BBC News site recently with the following title and surfaced summary:

F1: Prost backs Hamilton
Fernando Alonso tells the BBC that his former McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton could win the title in 2008.

I read the article twice to confirm that Alonso wasn’t bigging up (a phrase used purely to prompt comment from Rob) the chances of his bitter rival for the 2008 Championship. Very odd to read, and a strange mistake to make.

I’m 100% behind you

When the board of a football team says that it is 100% behind its manager, I’m keen to understand whether the question was asked of them, or whether the information was volunteered. Surely the latter scenario is more worrying for the manager in question.

I’d also like to know the average length of time between a board proferring this support and the manager’s subsequent departure date.

I’ll share if you do

What’s the most embarrassing song on your portable music player of choice that you feel compelled to listen to in its entirety upon hearing its introductory bars?

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