Microsoft’s R&D

PCWorld has a pretty interesting story on Microsoft’s R&D efforts. While Microsoft is viewed as an old technology company they aren’t done innovating. In many ways they remind me of AT&T in the Bell Labs days. It’s very possible some of the best research of the day is being done there, and we quite possibly won’t realize it for years to come, and will do so in some derived way.

The research and innovation methods of companies is always interesting. Big companies who invest big bucks with little guarantee of a payoff are the most interesting. We rarely hear/see much about them though.

Looking At Cute Animals Can Boost Productivity

From the “you can’t make this stuff up department” over at LifeScience:

Previous studies have shown that humans slow down their speech when talking to babies, and the Japanese researchers speculated that viewing the cute images may have had a similar effect — slowing the behavior of the students who saw the cute baby animal images and improving their accuracy in the game. In addition, the researchers suspect the baby-animal group got a boost in nurturing feelings, something that would likely benefit performance in the care-related task that involved helping someone (even if that someone was an anthropomorphic game board).

So now you have an excuse to look at /r/aww. Here are some monkeys to help you work.

Obvious Dept: Men Behave Better Around Pretty Women

I love silly research results. This one comes via the Mail Online:

Men apparently become nicer, kinder and more caring when there is a beautiful woman nearby.

Is there anyone on this planet who is surprised by this? We’re also more crude when it’s just guys around. Maybe I can get government funding to prove that in a “study”. But wait! It gets better:

Women are more likely to look on the bright side than men, a study has shown.

It found the female memory focuses on pleasant experiences. Men, however, tend to hold on to unpleasant recollections.

No kidding.

Intelligence And Staying Up Late

London School of Economics and Political Science research as summarized by the Winnipeg Free Press:

People with higher IQs are more apt to be nocturnal night-owls. Those with lower IQs tend to restrict their activities primarily to daytime.

Of course it’s important to note correlation does not imply causation. That said, lots of genius work does happen between 10 PM and 4 AM. There are countless stories of overnight success and innovation. I can’t recall many stories of 9 AM eureka moments unless they were the conclusion of overnight work.

Apple’s College Market Share

From iPodNN:

Only a little over 20 percent of 212 polled students say they bought a new computer in the last three months, as compared to over 30 percent in 2009, 40 percent in 2008 and nearly 70 percent in 2007. Mac share has meanwhile risen to 38 percent, from 32 percent in 2009, 29 percent in 2008 and 14 percent in 2007. Apple is now tied with Dell, and doing better than HP’s 13 percent and Toshiba’s 5 percent.

There’s a perfectly logical explanation for declining trend in new computer purchases by students and it’s not the recession: they already have computers. The days of the one family computer until kids go off to college are mostly gone in the middle class who dominate college in the United States these days. Why buy a new computer outside of your normal upgrade cycle just because your going to a new school? Given a typical 4 year lifespan of a computer I suspect it will stabilize around 20-25%, most of whom bought new computers replacing current computers.

As for Apple’s growth: Largely chic factor. Outside of some computer science folks who actually understand the UNIX architecture under it, I’d venture most students use nothing but a web browser, iTunes and maybe Microsoft Office and couldn’t give a solid reason why they choose what they choose. The handful who do will say “it’s more secure” without anything coherent reasoning to back that up. The computer science folks started the migration several years ago when Mac’s started to turn up in lots of high-tech offices. AutoCAD coming back to Mac also means that engineering students will soon be able to use Mac’s as well.

The Color Red

Women are more attracted to men in red according to recent research: Red, Rank, and Romance in Women Viewing Men [pdf].

…in a series of 7 experiments we demonstrate that women perceive men to be more attractive and sexually desirable when seen on a red background and in red clothing, and we additionally show that status perceptions are responsible for this red effect. The influence of red appears to be specific to women’s romantic attraction to men: Red did not influence men’s perceptions of other men, nor did it influence women’s perceptions of men’s overall likability, agreeableness, or extraversion.

Considering how common it is in the animal kingdom, this shouldn’t be surprising. Even in in modern humans it’s common, for example red lipstick.

Still it’s interesting that something like color can have an impact on a person.