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February 26 2014

Four short links: 26 February 2014

  1. Librarybox 2.0fork of PirateBox for the TP-Link MR 3020, customized for educational, library, and other needs. Wifi hotspot with free and anonymous file sharing. v2 adds mesh networking and more. (via BoingBoing)
  2. Chicago PD’s Using Big Data to Justify Racial Profiling (Cory Doctorow) — The CPD refuses to share the names of the people on its secret watchlist, nor will it disclose the algorithm that put it there. [...] Asserting that you’re doing science but you can’t explain how you’re doing it is a nonsense on its face. Spot on.
  3. Cloudwash (BERG) — very good mockup of how and why your washing machine might be connected to the net and bound to your mobile phone. No face on it, though. They’re losing their touch.
  4. What’s Left of Nokia to Bet on Internet of Things (MIT Technology Review) — With the devices division gone, the Advanced Technologies business will cut licensing deals and perform advanced R&D with partners, with around 600 people around the globe, mainly in Silicon Valley and Finland. Hopefully will not devolve into being a patent troll. [...] “We are now talking about the idea of a programmable world. [...] If you believe in such a vision, as I do, then a lot of our technological assets will help in the future evolution of this world: global connectivity, our expertise in radio connectivity, materials, imaging and sensing technologies.”

December 21 2012

Four short links: 21 December 2012

  1. Amazon’s Product Development Techniquethe product manager should keep iterating on the press release until they’ve come up with benefits that actually sound like benefits. Iterating on a press release is a lot less expensive than iterating on the product itself (and quicker!). (via Fast Company)
  2. Bullying in a Networked World — Harvard literature review on cyberbullying. (via Kinder Braver World)
  3. Lamps (BERG London) — design notes from a project Google did with BERG a year ago. I treat these like backstory in a novel or film: you see a little bit, but the author has imagined a complex history and world that you only see the consequences of. Similarly, BERG spend a long time making complex stories behind the simple objects and interactions they design.
  4. How AH Evaluates CEOs (Ben Horowitz) — my experience backs this up 150% percent. Filed under “stuff I wish I’d known a decade ago”.

July 06 2011

June 22 2011

Four short links: 22 June 2011

  1. DOM Snitch -- an experimental Chrome extension that enables developers and testers to identify insecure practices commonly found in client-side code. See also the introductory post. (via Hacker News)
  2. Spark -- Hadoop-alike in Scala. Spark was initially developed for two applications where keeping data in memory helps: iterative algorithms, which are common in machine learning, and interactive data mining. In both cases, Spark can outperform Hadoop by 30x. However, you can use Spark's convenient API to for general data processing too. (via Hilary Mason)
  3. Bagel -- an implementation of the Pregel graph processing framework on Spark. (via Oliver Grisel)
  4. Week 315 (Matt Webb) -- read this entire post. It will make you smarter. The company’s decisions aren’t actually the shareholders’ decisions. A company has a culture which is not the simple sum of the opinions of the people in it. A CEO can never be said to perform an action in the way that a human body can be said to perform an action, like picking an apple. A company is a weird, complex thing, and rather than attempt (uselessly) to reduce it to people within it, it makes more sense - to me - to approach it as an alien being and attempt to understand its biology and momentums only with reference to itself. Having done that, we can then use metaphors to attempt to explain its behaviour: we can say that it follows profit, or it takes an innovative step, or that it is middle-aged, or that it treats the environment badly, or that it takes risks. None of these statements is literally true, but they can be useful to have in mind when attempting to negotiate with these bizarre, massive creatures. If anyone wonders why I link heavily to BERG's work, it's because they have some incredibly thoughtful and creative people who are focused and productive, and it's Webb's laser-like genius that makes it possible. They're doing a lot of subtle new things and it's a delight and privilege to watch them grow and reflect.

May 24 2011

Four short links: 24 May 2011

  1. Delivereads -- genius idea, a mailing list for Kindles. Yes, if you can send email then you can be a Kindle publisher. (via Sacha Judd)
  2. Abnormal Returns From the Common Stock Investments of Members of the U.S. House of Representatives -- We measure abnormal returns for more than 16,000 common stock transactions made by approximately 300 House delegates from 1985 to 2001. Consistent with the study of Senatorial trading activity, we find stocks purchased by Representatives also earn significant positive abnormal returns (albeit considerably smaller returns). A portfolio that mimics the purchases of House Members beats the market by 55 basis points per month (approximately 6% annually). (via Ellen Miller)
  3. Google News Archive Ends -- hypothesizes that old material was "too hard" to make sense of, but that seems unlikely to me. More likely is that it wasn't useful enough to their machine learning efforts. Newspapers can have their scanned/OCRed content for free now the program is being closed.
  4. Week Report 310 -- BERG's first (that I've seen) video report of the week, and it's a cracker. No newsreel, just some really clever evocation of the mood of the place and the nature of the projects. I continue to be impressed by the BERG crew's conscious creation of culture.

January 18 2011

Four short links: 18 January 2011

  1. How Facebook Ships Code -- all engineers go through 4 to 6 week "Boot Camp" training where they learn the Facebook system by fixing bugs and listening to lectures given by more senior/tenured engineers. estimate 10% of each boot camp's trainee class don't make it and are counseled out of the organization. Reminded me of Zappos paying people to leave. (via Hacker News)
  2. EU Funds Scala -- it's a research project at a university, and just got a big pile of funding from the EU.
  3. Biotic Games -- they make Pong, Pacman, Pinball, etc. from biotech. (via Andy Baio)
  4. Asleep and Awake (BERG London) -- It’s glowing rectangles all the way down: those backlit screens that suck your attention. Matt J described it nicely a few years ago: the iPhone is a beautiful, seductive but jealous mistress that craves your attention, and enslaves you to its jaw-dropping gorgeousness at the expense of the world around you. Reminded me of Jesse Robbins's great line, "mobile is the opposite of mindful".

September 15 2010

Four short links: 15 September 2010

  1. Privacy Commission Uses CC License For Content -- The office of the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner is releasing its content under the CC-BY license, including fact sheets, newsletters, guidance, case studies, howtos, and more.
  2. Magic iPad Light Painting (BERG London) -- continuing their stunning work, this concept video uses a form of long-exposure stop-motion to turn the iPad into visual magic.
  3. Implementing TLS and Raw Sockets Using Only Flash and Javascript -- interesting first steps to implementing non-trivial security in Javascript ("The Language Of The Future (tm)"). (via ivanristic on Twitter)
  4. How to Read a Patent in 60 Seconds (Dan Shapiro) -- quick guide to the important parts of a patent. For more detail, check out the more detailed docs from the PatentLens.

August 18 2010

Four short links: 18 August 2010

  1. BBC Dimensions -- brilliant work, a fun site that lets you overlay familiar plcaes with famous and notable things so you can get a better sense of how large they are. Example: the Colossus of Rhodes straddling O'Reilly HQ, the Library of Alexandria vs the Google campus, and New Orleans Mardi Gras began at the headquarters of Fred Phelps's Westboro Baptist Church. (via this piece about its background)
  2. Podapter -- simple plug that takes mini-USB and goes into an iPod or iPhone. (via Tuesday product awesomeness)
  3. New NexusOne Radio Firmware -- a glimpse of the world that's sprung up sharing the latest goodies between countries, carriers, and developers. For everyone for whose products the street has found a new use, the challenge is to harness this energy, enthusiasm, knowledge, and devotion. In terms of cognitive surplus, this far exceeds the 1 LOLCAT minimum standard unit. (via YuweiWang on Twitter)
  4. Echoes Nest Remix API -- access to database of song characteristics and tools to manipulate tunes. See the Technology Review article for examples of what it's capable of. (via aaronsw on Twitter)

August 16 2010

Four short links: 16 August 2010

  1. Gearbox (YouTube) -- smart toy company, first product is a ball that rolls in the direction you tilt your iPhone. Their home page says they're a Boulder-based startup. (via BERG)
  2. Five Things I'm Thinking About (Matt Jones) -- the things he's talking about were either on our radar or are now. Read and enjoy.
  3. 1945-1988 -- art visualizing nuclear explosions over the world. Data that tells a story. (via Flowing Data)
  4. Tweets of Old -- clips from old newspapers and magazines, giving a slice of life from the past. (via BoingBoing)

May 20 2010

Four short links: 20 May 2010

  1. People are Walking Architecture -- presentation by Matt Jones of BERG, taking a new lens to this AR/ubicomp/whatever-it-is-today world. "[Mobile phones are] a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities ...."
  2. Lexicalist -- insight into geographic and age distribution of language use, based on Twitter data. (via Language Log)
  3. Advanced Visualization Techniques -- nice overview of some non-standard visualization techniques. Short shameful confession: I love polar dendrograms with a passion. These techniques are to visualizers as algorithms and data structures to programmers: each is used in specific circumstances and compromises some things to gain in others. (via Flowing Data)
  4. iPad Usability Report (Nielsen-Norman Group) -- 93-page report based on user studies. The iPad etched-screen aesthetic does look good. No visual distractions or nerdy buttons. The penalty for this beauty is the re-emergence of a usability problem we haven't seen since the mid-1990s: Users don't know where they can click. For the last 15 years of Web usability research, the main problems have been that users don't know where to go or which option to choose — not that they don't even know which options exist. With iPad UIs, we're back to this square one. (via Andrew Savikas)

November 26 2009

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