Global Game Jam 2018, my postmortem

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The past weekend the Finnish Game Jam, which is part of the Global Game Jam took place. It is the third time that I take part in this event. Past year’s postmortem (which focuses more on the experience and not so much on the game) can be read here. In order to understand what to expect from this event, you can read that blog post. In this one I am going to focus more on the design process and what I consider important when thinking of what to do. Let’s dive into the 2018 edition.

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Predatory Journals, a practical story

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So one day, I open the University mailbox and, to my surprise, I read the following email:

Suspicious Email

Let’s agree it may look like a typical case of spam, but in this case, it is the forefront of a problem that is plaguing the academic world lately, the predatory journals. Academy indexes of proficiency and productivity are heavily based on the number of articles that one researcher has published, and, how many citations such articles obtain, written by other researchers.

The usual process of publishing an article in a journal goes along the following lines: first, you write your manuscript, then you send it for review, then the reviewers decide whether it is accepted or not and then, if accepted, you release some intellectual rights to the publisher, that proceeds to the publication. In this case, the publisher usually asks for a fee to the readers in order to read them. As the reader has to pay in order to access the paper, the number of citations that the article gets might be smaller.

As an answer to this, there is the open access model, where the author is the one who pays, and then the article, after being reviewed and accepted, is freely accessible to everyone, thus increasing the chances to get citations, in theory.

Predatory journals usually attach to this second model, as it allows them to ask money directly from the authors. The scam consists of the “journals” not having any sort of control about what they publish, publishing everything for money without review (or with less than the standard review) and thus having no credibility, just doing it for the money (in this case, between $256 and $1080 per article). As a researcher, you don’t want your papers to be even close to a journal like those if you care about your reputation and the quality of the publishers of your work.

What ringed the bell of this being pretty shady?

  • The fact that it was them that sent me the email because they need a manuscript (I am not the most experienced researcher, but I think it does not work like that).
  • The fact that it is an Opthalmology journal, a field that only tangentially (if so) touches mine.
  • After a small research on their webpage, which is already dubious, I went to the last issue, and there are only 5 articles, all of them reviewed in less than one month. For comparison, the last issue of Behavioral Research Methods (a Springer journal) has 21 articles and they have around 130 in the queue, approved and waiting for publication. The period to wait for review is usually much larger than one month.
  • The articles are one or two pages when the usual length of a journal article is much bigger.

Also, the fact that the same publisher appears in the blog Flaky Journals should be an already good indicator. To close, and as a conclusion, because this is starting to be long and boring, I would say, from my small experience, that you should avoid this kind of journals at all costs. They don’t provide value, they might not even have any impact in your performance evaluations (at least in Finland they would, most likely, not rank in the Finnish Publications Forum) and they can even damage your reputation. It is better to work it out and publish in better journals.

Predictions for 2018

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I know this is a little bit lazy, but I posted some of my predictions of what I think 2018 will bring in the Nordic Startup Facebook group, along other commentators. I just decided to copy it here in order to check how many of my predictions come true at the end of the year. Here it is the message:

I think that many markets and sectors that we see thriving nowadays will slow down to the point of almost stopping. Technology will develop, of course, but there’s still something to be done in finding appealing uses of those new technologies. AI will be important, but, will receive some backlashes, as well as blockchain, where the coin market will saturate. Also we may face a crisis in the game industry, and music industry will rely more and more on streaming and non-physical distribution. In terms of entertainment, I think e-sports will make the jump to generalistic TV, with organizations like the ESL taking the lead, with some others pursuing the lead. YouTube will lesser its influence and Twitch will get still more relevance. In terms of hardware, I see some stellar appearances of niche robots that appeal to consumer markets. Also, a slowdown in the release speed of new processors and new paradigms like quantum taking bigger parts of the interest. Intel may not be the biggest actor anymore. Contrary to what many people say, in my opinion voice assistants won’t become a big thing during 2018, neither chatbots. Electric vehicles will be bigger in 2018, and we may start to see autonomous supervised cars in big cities. Of course, all this are intuitions and opinions.

I know many of these predictions are quite vague, but this is just a method to test myself, and see how well I do.

Malware basics: Analyzing a possible malware inside a Chrome extension

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Today I came across a website with a sadly familiar problem. It had been attacked for malvertising. The curious thing is that the attacker has successfully hijacked the site so it redirects (sometimes) to a site that tries to “convince” you to install a Chrome extension that asks for permission to modify the content of all the sites that you visit. This is the analysis of the problem.

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Fail With Style #1 – Drawing a Graph

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Yes, sometimes, when you try to draw a graph, the graph does not like to find its vertices’ positions.

This is an animation of the Force-Directed Layout algorithm that I am developing currently for a side project. Every frame is one iteration of the algorithm. With these parameters, the graph’s vertices don’t converge to a stable position in 3000 iterations.