Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Statistic Brain web site now requires a ~$20 per month subscription. There are better ways to spend your time and money.

The last time I went to the Statistic Brain web site I was surprised to find that they have changed their business model and no longer allow public access. Instead they offer Student Access (for $9.99/month), Standard Access (for $19.99/month), and Business Access (for $99.99/month).

They have a web page on OUR METHODOLOGY (subtitled How Do We Ensure Accurate Data). Based on the oft-quoted example of their (top ten) Fear/Phobia Statistics page, it is NOT how they did their research. What they actually did was create a lie to match a Jerry Seinfeld joke. So, my mental image for them is that of a disreputable saloon, as shown above.   

An early version of that web page archived by the Wayback Machine is shown above. I blogged about it on December 7, 2014 in a post titled Statistic Brain is just a statistical medicine show. A more recent version with those baseless numbers showed up again on May 8, 2018 in a post by Jessica Teteak titled I’ll take death over public speaking at the Rule the Room Public Speaking blog.

What are some better ways to spend your time and money than a subscription to Statistic Brain? First, visit your friendly local public library and get a card. Ask the librarian about how to use their database collection. Second, visit your nearest state university library and see what options they have for visiting residents. You may be able to get an inexpensive card. I discussed using university libraries in a pair of blog posts. One from August 7, 2017 is titled Spotting fake news and finding reliable information for speeches. Another from February 24, 2015 is titled How to do a better job of speech research than the average Toastmaster (by using your friendly local public and state university libraries). Third, if you graduated from a university, look at the web site for their library. They may even have remote database access for alumni, like Brown University does.

The image of a saloon was modified from one at the Library of Congress.  

Monday, May 21, 2018

PowerPoint slides for displaying financial analysis & data

Dave Paradi recently announced a new section of his Think Outside the Slide website titled FinancialViz: Presenting Financial Data and Analysis Visually. It shows a total of 40 examples for nine different situations:

Trend over time (5)

Compare to a standard (4)

Comparing values (9)

Contribution of segments (7)

Rank (3)

Portion of a total (2)

Group of text points (5)

Process/sequence (2)

Timeline (3)

For example, under Rank Dave discusses The correct use of a pie chart.

An image of a Phrenological Chart was adapted from one found at the Library of Congress.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

More nightlight technology - default settings and doohickeys

This week we finally replaced the 2002 Philips 20” analog CRT TV in our master bedroom which we had been using with a digital converter box. The new set is a 49” 4K UHD HDR Roku smart TV (a TCL 49S403). I fastened the wall mount to a stud on the wall with a pair of lag screws, and hung up the TV. Then I read the 16-page quick-start guide it came with and set it up. It said that the large white Status Light LED below the center of the screen (shown above):
“glows when the TV is in standby, flashes when the TV is busy, flashes once with each button press of the remote control.”

But we didn’t either need or want a bright, always-on nightlight in our bedroom. On December 7, 2017 I blogged about The joy and frustration of modern nightlight technology, and discussed how we had instead bought a pair of motion-sensing nightlights.

I went to the TCL web site and downloaded their detailed 150-page User Guide as a .pdf file. Buried back on Page 92 it said:

Standby LED On/Off

Normally the status LED on the front of your TV is lit whenever the TV is in standby mode. If you prefer the status LED to not be lit in standby mode, you can turn it off. To do so, from the Home screen, navigate to Settings > System > Power > Standby LED and then select Off.”  

I went through the menu steps, and shut that offending Standby LED off. Their jargon is fairly obscure. That Standby LED really just is one mode for the Status Light LED. It’s a doohickey:

“an object or device whose name you do not know or have forgotten.”

Saturday, May 12, 2018

A door past the Vanity Fair magazine paywall

On May 9, 2018 Jane Genova blogged about Conde Nast’s Vanity Fair – Can It Survive a Paywall? She linked to an article from April 27, 2018 at What’s New in Publishing titled Vanity Fair launches digital paywall as part of wider Conde Nast strategy.

Jane ignorantly claimed:
“Frugal readers still determined to have a free ride can scan the Vanity Fair's headlines, then find similar content with a similar tone somewhere on the internet.” 

But that’s not necessary. A frugal reader will get out his library card, type the number into the login box for databases at his friendly local public library, and read (or download .pdf files) of articles in databases such as MasterFILE Premier from EBSCOhost. I discussed this in a blog post on December 27, 2017 titled How to build a bad presentation –describe a problem but not a good solution.

The image about being ignorant was adapted from one from 1938 by the Federal Art Project at the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

2-Minute Talk Tips – an excellent podcast from Bill Monroe in Seattle

A few days ago I was searching on Google about brief presentations, and found the 2-Minute Talk Tips web site, which is subtitled Become a better presenter in two minutes a week. Currently there are 60 podcast episodes. Each begins with a two-minute tip and then continues with a longer discussion (the bottom or bummock of the iceberg).

For example, Episode 26 is titled Bring Candy and Read Storytelling with Data. The longer part is a review of that book, which I blogged about on March 28, 2016 in a post titled A brief book review of Storytelling with Data by Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic.

The iceberg image came from Openclipart.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Driverless cars don’t need steering wheels - but the rest of us sure do

Sometimes the redesign of a product (or changes in materials and processes) results in unanticipated problems. The Ford Fusion is a mid-sized sedan which first was produced in August 2005. A second-generation model was introduced in 2013. A single 10mm diameter bolt holds the steering wheel onto the internally threaded steering shaft, as is shown above.

In USA Today on October 27, 2017 there was an article titled Probe of Ford Fusion steering wheels that may loosen, detach which reported on an investigation of ~840,000 vehicles and included this startling statement:

“A person in Georgia told the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA] that a steering wheel fell into their lap in a 2015 Fusion when turning into a gas station on Sept. 23.”

Another article in USA Today on March 14, 2018 was titled 10 times Ford steering wheels came loose or off, causing massive recall. The problem turned out to be bigger than expected. Ford announced a recall on that day:

“Ford is issuing a safety recall in North America for approximately 1.3 million 2014-18 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ vehicles for potentially loose steering wheel bolts that could result in a steering wheel detaching from the steering column. In affected vehicles, the steering wheel bolt may not maintain torque, allowing the bolt to loosen over time, and if not serviced, a steering wheel could potentially detach and lead to a loss of steering control and increased risk of a crash. Ford is aware of two accidents with one injury allegedly related to this condition.”

The NHTSA recall report had more details. As shown above, it said the chronology was that:

“Ford discovered a design change to the steering wheel fastening system in 2013 for 2014-2018 model year Fusion and MKZ vehicles. The amount (length) of threads inside of the steering wheel shaft decreased by 5 mm. The thread reduction is in the end of the steering shaft where the bolt first contacts the threads internal to the steering shaft. The bolts used to secure the steering shaft have a nylon patch prevailing torque feature to ensure proper torque retention. With the reduced amount of threads inside the steering shaft and if the nylon patch is located towards the head of the bolt, the nylon patch may not fully engage the threads to ensure proper torque retention.”

“The remedy bolt is 17 mm longer, providing more robust steering column thread and torque retention patch engagement. The remedy bolt also has a 13 mm longer torque retention feature to ensure proper engagement.”    

A bolted joint is held together by friction, which can be increased by adding a nylon patch. A web page for the ND patch process describes that feature:

“…fasteners are heated and sprayed with a custom nylon powder which adheres to the part. When assembled with a mating part, the engineered plastic nylon patch is compressed.  Due to the elastic memory it resists this compression and acts like a wedge, increasing the metal to metal contact 180° opposite the material. This mechanical force creates a strong, yet fully adjustable lock which will not weaken, even under extreme vibration.”

Another way to add friction to a joint is with a Nyloc nut, as shown above. When a bolt is  turned past the internal threads of the nut and into the unthreaded nylon in the locking feature, it forms new threads.

Almost two decades ago I encountered a situation where such a nut was not seated properly and led to a crash. It was on the elevator control linkage for a Glaser-Dirks DG-800B motor glider, N98NL. The crash occurred on June 21, 1998 at Jean Nevada, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ID was LAX98LA209. The glider had four hours of flight time after manufacture.  An FAA inspector examined the aircraft. He found the bolt in the fuselage and recovered it, but could not find the nut. The NTSB Factual Report says:
“The bolt and exemplar parts were examined with an optical microscope at SEAL Laboratories in Los Angeles, California, on July 31, 1998, in the presence of the Safety Board. A copy of the laboratory report is appended to this file.

According to the metallurgist, the first three threads of the accident bolt did not have debris in the roots, and installation of an exemplar locknut in the hand-tightened position would cause the nut threads to wipe material from the roots of the first three bolt threads. For proper tightening of the locknut, the threads must be engaged over the full length of 6 mm (six turns) so that the blue plastic lining which provides thread locking is deformed. This would require three more turns than are indicated by the lack of debris in the thread roots. The metallurgist concluded that a nut was installed on the bolt but not fully tightened.”

In this case, meticulous handling of the evidence by that FAA inspector, who bagged and tagged the bolt, made it possible for me to provide a definitive answer.

The image of a Nylon lock nut came from Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The American car isn’t dead yet

On April 26, 2018 Jane Genova blogged about the claimed Death of the American Car. She had seen an article by Robert Ferris at CNBC on that day titled Ford is basically giving up on US car business, and GM is not far behind. Based on superficial research Jane whined:

“It was obvious way before Ford and GM made their recent announcements about cutting back car production. Anyone could just look around the parking lots of even lower middle class apartment complexes. There would be no cars. Instead there were – and are – pickups, SUVs, and cross-overs. Yes, the American car had died. No one seemed to care.”

But if Jane had looked further she would have seen a very different picture. For example, at Bloomberg on January 16, 2018 there was an article titled The American sedan is dying. Long live the SUV which was subtitled Detroit executives are killing off their slow-selling cars in favor of SUVs. That article has a graph comparing actual and projected annual US vehicle sales for cars and trucks. In 2012 the mix was even at 50% trucks - 50% cars. In 2016 it had shifted to 60% trucks – 40% cars. In 2020 it would be 65% trucks – 35% cars. That article also said:

“American auto executives might be happy to see passenger cars go. For decades, they’ve struggled to make money selling sedans while raking in profits from SUVs and trucks.

…. Asian automakers that have come to dominate U.S. sedan segments over the last three decades aren’t going anywhere. The Toyota Camry remained the top-selling car in America last year, though it was outsold by the RAV4 crossover for the first time. Toyota recently revamped the Camry and debuted a redesigned Avalon sedan in Detroit, while Honda Motor Co. kicked off the show by accepting the North American Car of the Year award for its revamped Accord. Nissan Motor Co. is expected to roll out a refreshed Altima sedan soon.”

Another article at Automotive News on October 1, 2017 titled U.S. auto production undergoes a decade of transformation showed the percent share of North American light-vehicle production by automaker. For the first 8 months of 2017 three Japanese automakers contributed a total of 32.7% (almost a third): Toyota 11.5%, Honda 10.7%, and Nissan 10.5%. (Hyundai-Kia was 5.4% and VW Group was 3.5%). And a press release from Honda on March 6, 2018 said Honda builds its 25 millionth automobile in the U.S. (They started in Marysville, Ohio ~175 miles from Jane’s Youngstown location).

Jane continued about her childhood in Jersey City:

“….In a sense this era of The Big Vehicle returns us Baby Boomers to our youth. Back then there were no small cars. My father’s first was a boxy Buick. The whole extended family fit in. Eventually he and his fellow Italian immigrant buddies landed good enough jobs to move on up to the Cadillac. That, not the purchase of a single-family house, was their version of the American dream.”

I’m a Baby Boomer, and grew up in Pittsburgh. I do remember small cars like the Nash Rambler, which was the subject of the 1958 Beep Beep song by the Playmates. But the smallest, cheapest car was the two-seat King Midget – a microcar from Athens, Ohio featured in tiny ads in the back of Popular Mechanics magazine (and an article in the 1954 issue). Look at the March 12, 2016 article in USA Today titled Just Cool Cars: This 1954 King Midget was fit for a pauper.

Also Jane only got 2/5ths of the divisional marketing strategy cooked up for General Motors by Alfred P. Sloan back in the 1920s. An excerpt from the David Evans book Management Gurus says those divisions were (in order of increasing price): Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick, and Cadillac. Oldsmobile was closed in 2004, and Pontiac in 2010.   

UPDATE May 1, 2018

On April 30, 2018 Jane Genova had another superficially researched blog post about how SUVs – Disaster. She noted that gas prices are ‘surging’ and referred to an AP article titled Get ready for the most expensive driving season in years which noted they had risen from $2.39 a year ago to $2.81 yesterday (although she mistakenly also said $2.81 for a year ago). Then she claimed:

“If the trend continues, Americans will find their commute to work increasingly expensive. The moment of truth could come: they will have to trade in their SUV for a, well, car. Otherwise they can’t afford to get to work, not any more. And my fuel-efficient sedan will be worth a king’s ransom. In fact, what could occur is that cars become the hot vehicle to steal.”
No, Jane, your sedan won’t be worth a king’s ransom. There were lots of other sedans sold in the U.S. in 2017 made by Toyota, Honda and Nissan. For Toyota there were 387,081 Camrys and 308,695 Corolla/Matrix. For Honda there were 322,655 Accords and 377,286 Civics. For Nissan there were 218,451 Sentras and 254,996 Altimas. Add those up and you get 1,869,164 cars. And, if you also include the 209,623 Ford Fusion and 158,385 Ford Focus you get 2,237,172 cars.