It’s official: Internet Explorer users are stoopid

Posted in Computers, Linux, Mac, Stupid trivia, Windows on July 29th, 2011 by Andy
A graph show IQ vs browser

IQ vs browser choice, showing trends over time

The browser you choose these days has become a bit of a fashion accessory, and poor old Internet Explorer has become like the manky brown corduroys of the net. Sure, IE users area  bit old-fashioned, but are they actually dumber than folks surfing on Opera or Chrome? Well, yes actually.

That’s the controversial result from a study (PDF) by Canadian brain-wranglers AptiQuant Psychometric Consulting. It turns out Opera users are the smartest surfers out, Chrome users are marginally smarter than Firefox users, and that you can apparently boost your IQ by a whopping 40 points just by installing Chrome Frame into IE6. Although from the numbers it looks like IE6 users would probably struggle to do up the buttons on a shirt, let alone install new software.

These results should probably be taken with a humungous pinch of salt, but they do provide a great opportunity for smugness if your choice of software marks you as one of the master race.

But what does it mean?

Well, the point of the study wasn’t really to make people feel bad about their choice of browser, it was the look at the link between resistance to change/upgrades and IQ. Browser choice was used as a proxy for that resistance to change, because people using Windows that resist change are more likely to be using the default browser, and more likely to be using an old version of it.

That’s actually an important insight. What it tells us is that defaults matter. A significant percentage of the user base won’t be changing the defaults regardless of quality. So if you care about user experience, you need to get them right. It also suggests that OSes that ship without a good set of default applications are causing a lot of stress for some users. A lot of users would be more happy to be given a Linux distro that bundled a good set of default apps for a wide range of uses (browser, word processor, IM client, email, music player) and that the absence of these apps on commercial OSes like Windows and OS X is probably a bit of a hassle for them. Moreover, these are not users that Linux traditionally targets itself at. Traditionally Linux efforts have either tried to go for (presumably) high IQ power users, or offered very minimalist experiences (eg: Xandros, Linpus) for mainstream use. This study suggests that what they low-IQ end of the PC using population really want is a good set of default apps, preinstalled and with an automated security update system that they don’t have to get involved with.

Stupid people may be an easy target for ridicule, but their money is worth the same as anyone else’s, and they’ve got just as much right to drive a computer as the rest of us. And as a casual glance over a newspaper shows, there do seem to be an awful lot of them.

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The Mathematics of Pulling

Posted in Random, Stupid trivia on April 17th, 2009 by Andy

I’ve recently been brushing up on some basic maths as part of a degree course. Which is fine. But the more evil number magic you do the more it creeps into your brain and changes the way you think about things.

Take, for example, the oft repeated Rule of Non-Creepiness when it comes to partners. According to common wisdom, the minimum non-creepy age for anybody you’re shagging is half your own age, plus seven. Or in geek:

y=0.5x+7

Which, any maths knob will tell you, graphs as a straight line. Now, it occured to me that this rule works both ways, and that your prospective partner also has to satisfy a similar non-creepiness equation. So the upper age limit of your partner is bounded by:

y=2x-14

So what you ask? Well it occurred to me that these two straight lines diverge.

Range of Eligible Partners

This means that as you age the number of eligible partners increases. I actually found that a rather encouraging thought. Most things get steadily shittier with age, but your chance of finding some loving (assuming you aren’t sold off into wedlock already) actually improves over the years.

But just how much better do they get? We need some hard figures. So I went to statistics.gov.uk and got some population stats for the UK.

Their nice .svg graph comes with hard numbers as well. This allows us to calculate, for any given age, the total number of people of the opposite sex within your upper and lower non-creepiness limits. Of course, only looking at the opposite sex completely overlooks the love that dare not speak it’s name. If anyone wants to track down some hard stats and redo the numbers adjusting for gayness, be my guest.

So this brings us to our second graph:

Total Number of Available Partners

Total Number of Available Partners

Lo and behold, we can see that for both sexes the number of eligible partners increases stridently well into our 30’s and 40’s. From the raw data we can see that it doesn’t level off until age 47 for males and 49 for females. Eventually the rot does set in, but not until the surprisingly late age of 51 (for both sexes) and even the then only declines at a maximum rate of 2% per year until death.

Note for pedants:
These figures involve a certain amount of fudge. First of all, the population data for 2009 is a projection, latest official figures are 2007.
Also, due to the fact that the non-creepiness rule produces ages such as 23.5, and we only have data for ages that are whole numbers i’ve had to average the numbers between whole number ages to keep the things relatively sane.
If that bothers you, then +10 maths geek points. Now shut up.

On a roll, I decided to make another graph, this time showing how our fortunes change over the years.

Rate of Change in Available Partners

Rate of Change in Available Partners

Sure enough, although the raw numbers of actual partners is low, it’s the young ‘uns that are experiencing the fastest rates of growth in the eligible partner numbers. Good for them. But the graph does also show that it takes a long time for the line to crash down to zero, and even then doesn’t dip too far into the negatives.

At this point, it occurred to me that the next step was to get more data. How would marriage (and divorce) figures affect the shaggable population? And what about getting some numbers from Hot or Not and introducing some kind of munter factor? However, enough is enough. If I carried this maths lunacy any further I was going to have start flushing my own head down the toilet for being a weedy poindexter.

So i’ll leave it there, and will hand over this important line of research to the faceless geekosphere. Stride on, my nerdy brothers!

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