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January 13 2014

Four short links: 13 January 2014

  1. s3mper (Github) — Netflix’s library to add consistency checking to S3. (via Netflix tech blog)
  2. Powerup Smartphone-Controlled Paper Airplane — boggle. You know the future is here when you realise you’re on the Internet of Trivial Things.
  3. clmtrackr (Github) — real-time face recognition, deformation, and substitution in Javascript. Boggle.
  4. Nine Wearables (Quartz) — a roundup of Glass-inspired wearables, including projecting onto contact lenses which wins today’s “most squicky idea” award.

December 23 2013

Four short links: 23 December 2013

  1. DelFly Explorer — 20 grams, 9 minutes of autonomous flight, via barometer and new stereo vision system. (via Wayne Radinsky)
  2. Banning Autonomous Killing Machines (Tech Republic) — While no autonomous weapons have been built yet, it’s not a theoretical concern, either. Late last year, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released its policy around how autonomous weapons should be used if they were to be deployed in the battlefield. The policy limits how they should operate, but definitely doesn’t ban them. (via Slashdot)
  3. Scientific Data Lost at Alarming Rate — says scientific paper PUBLISHED BEHIND A PAYWALL.
  4. Security of Browser Extension Password Managers (PDF) — This research shows that the examined password managers made design decisions that greatly increase the chance of users unknowingly exposing their passwords through application-level flaws. Many of the flaws relate to the browser-integrated password managers that don’t follow the same-origin policy that is crucial to browser security. In the case of password managers, this means that passwords could be filled into unintended credential forms, making password theft easier.

December 03 2013

Four short links: 3 December 2013

  1. SAMOA — Yahoo!’s distributed streaming machine learning (ML) framework that contains a programming abstraction for distributed streaming ML algorithms. (via Introducing SAMOA)
  2. madliban open-source library for scalable in-database analytics. It provides data-parallel implementations of mathematical, statistical and machine-learning methods for structured and unstructured data.
  3. Data Portraits: Connecting People of Opposing Views — Yahoo! Labs research to break the filter bubble. Connect people who disagree on issue X (e.g., abortion) but who agree on issue Y (e.g., Latin American interventionism), and present the differences and similarities visually (they used wordclouds). Our results suggest that organic visualisation may revert the negative effects of providing potentially sensitive content. (via MIT Technology Review)
  4. Disguise Detection — using Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and Python.

November 21 2013

April 16 2013

Four short links: 16 April 2013

  1. Triage — iPhone app to quickly triage your email in your downtime. See also the backstory. Awesome UI.
  2. Webcam Pulse Detector — I was wondering how long it would take someone to do the Eulerian video magnification in real code. Now I’m wondering how long it will take the patent-inspired takedown…
  3. How Microsoft Quietly Built the City of the FutureThe team now collects 500 million data transactions every 24 hours, and the smart buildings software presents engineers with prioritized lists of misbehaving equipment. Algorithms can balance out the cost of a fix in terms of money and energy being wasted with other factors such as how much impact fixing it will have on employees who work in that building. Because of that kind of analysis, a lower-cost problem in a research lab with critical operations may rank higher priority-wise than a higher-cost fix that directly affects few. Almost half of the issues the system identifies can be corrected in under a minute, Smith says.
  4. UDOO (Kickstarter) — mini PC that could run either Android or Linux, with an Arduino-compatible board embedded. Like faster Raspberry Pi but with Arduino Due-compatible I/O.

January 28 2013

Four short links: 28 January 2013

  1. Aaron’s Army — powerful words from Carl Malamud. Aaron was part of an army of citizens that believes democracy only works when the citizenry are informed, when we know about our rights—and our obligations. An army that believes we must make justice and knowledge available to all—not just the well born or those that have grabbed the reigns of power—so that we may govern ourselves more wisely.
  2. Vaurien the Chaos TCP Monkeya project at Netflix to enhance the infrastructure tolerance. The Chaos Monkey will randomly shut down some servers or block some network connections, and the system is supposed to survive to these events. It’s a way to verify the high availability and tolerance of the system. (via Pete Warden)
  3. Foto Forensics — tool which uses image processing algorithms to help you identify doctoring in images. The creator’s deconstruction of Victoria’s Secret catalogue model photos is impressive. (via Nelson Minar)
  4. All Trials Registered — Ben Goldacre steps up his campaign to ensure trial data is reported and used accurately. I’m astonished that there are people who would withhold data, obfuscate results, or opt out of the system entirely, let alone that those people would vigorously assert that they are, in fact, professional scientists.

November 15 2012

Four short links: 15 November 2012

  1. Atkinson Dithering in Real Time — a Processing app that renders what the video camera sees, as though it were an original Mac black and white image.
  2. Patching Binariesa patch for a crashing bug during import of account transactions or when changing a payee of a downloaded transaction in Microsoft Money Sunset Deluxe. Written with no source, simply by debugging the executable as it shipped for XP.
  3. Book Crossing DatasetContains 278,858 users (anonymized but with demographic information) providing 1,149,780 ratings (explicit / implicit) about 271,379 books.
  4. Network Games Market Update (Cartagena Capital) — The myth that players use mobile only ‘on the go’ has been shattered. Smartphones and tablets are now mainstream gaming platforms in their own right and a significant proportion of players play in stationary use case scenarios. Stats abound, including 38% of tablet gamers play more than five hours per week compared to 20% of mobile phone gamer.

October 24 2012

Four short links: 24 October 2012

  1. Restoration of Defocused and Blurry Images — impressive demos, and open source (GPLv3) code. All those blurred faces and documents no longer seem so safe.
  2. Peter Molyneux Profile in Wired — worth reading for: (a) Molyneux’s contribution to the genre; (b) the inspiration he drew from his satirical Twitter mirror (@PeterMolydeux) is lovely, and (c) the game jams to build the fake Molyneux games, where satire becomes reality. (via Andy Baio)
  3. Trusted Computing for Industrial Control Systems — Kaspersky reveals plans for an open source O/S for industrial control systems, so reactors and power stations and traffic systems aren’t vulnerable to StuxNet-type attacks. (via Jim Stogdill)
  4. Android Virtual Machines — faster emulation for testing than the traditional simulators.

October 01 2012

Four short links: 1 October 2012

  1. FlightfoxReal people compete to find you the best flights. Crowdsourcing beating algorithms …. (via NY Times)
  2. Code Monster (Crunchzilla) — a fun site for parents to learn to program with their kids. Loving seeing so much activity around teaching kids to program. (via Greg Linden)
  3. Telling People to Leave Finance (Cathy O’Neil) — There’s an army of engineers in finance that could be putting their skills to use with actual innovation rather than so-called financial innovation.
  4. Kittydar (GitHub) — cat face recognition in Javascript.

September 17 2012

Four short links: 17 September 2012

  1. Aaron Swartz Defense Fund — American computer systems are under attack every day of the week from foreign governments, and the idiot prosecutor is wasting resources doubling down on this vindictive nonsense.
  2. Baghdad Community Hackerspace Workshops (Kickstarter) — Makerspace in Baghdad, built by people who know how to do this stuff in that country. (via BoingBoing)
  3. Teaching Web Development in AfricaI used the resources that Pamela Fox helpfully compiled at teaching-materials.org to mentor twelve students who all built their own websites, such as websites for their karate club, fashion club, and traditional dance troupe. One student made a website to teach others about the hardware components of computers, and another website discussing the merits of a common currency in the East African Community. The two most advanced students began programming their own computer game to help others practice touch typing, and it allows players to compete across the network with WebSockets.
  4. Transient Faces (Jeff Howard) — only displaying the unchanging parts of a scene, effectively removing people using computer vision. Disconcerting and elegant. (via Greg Borenstein)

August 15 2012

Four short links: 15 August 2012

  1. Reproducibility Initiative (Science Exchange) — a service offering researchers who will attempt to reproduce your work. Validated studies will receive a Certificate of Reproducibility acknowledging that their results have been independently reproduced as part of the Reproducibility Initiative. Researchers have the opportunity to publish the replicated results as an independent publication in the PLOS Reproducibility Collection, and can share their data via the figshare Reproducibility Collection repository. The original study will also be acknowledged as independently reproduced if published in a supporting journal. See also writeup in Nature.
  2. Designing Open Projects (PDF) — IBM report with very sensible advice on steps to take when creating open projects for engagement and participation. Should be recommended reading for all who hope to get others to help.
  3. Hustleboards — “disposable forums”, easy lightweight web-based chats. Nice and simple UI.
  4. Prosthetic Retina Helps Restore Sight in Mice (Nature) — computer-mediated vision won’t change our world, but it’ll change what we think is in our world.

August 03 2012

Four short links: 3 August 2012

  1. Urban Camouflage WorkshopMost of the day was spent crafting urban camouflage intended to hide the wearer from the Kinect computer vision system. By the end of the workshop we understood how to dress to avoid detection for the three different Kinect formats. (via Beta Knowledge)
  2. Starting a Django Project The Right Way (Jeff Knupp) — I wish more people did this: it’s not enough to learn syntax these days. Projects live in a web of best practices for source code management, deployment, testing, and migrations.
  3. FailCona one-day conference for technology entrepreneurs, investors, developers and designers to study their own and others’ failures and prepare for success. Figure out how to learn from failures—they’re far more common than successes. (via Krissy Mo)
  4. Google Fiber in the Real World (Giga Om) — These tests show one of the limitations of Google’s Fiber network: other services. Since Google Fiber is providing virtually unheard of speeds for their subscribers, companies like Apple and I suspect Hulu, Netflix and Amazon will need to keep up. Are you serving DSL speeds to fiber customers? (via Jonathan Brewer)

August 01 2012

Four short links: 1 August 2012

  1. China Hackers Hit EU Point Man and DC (Bloomberg) — wow. The extent to which EU and US government and business computer systems have been penetrated is astonishing. Stolen information is flowing out of the networks of law firms, investment banks, oil companies, drug makers, and high technology manufacturers in such significant quantities that intelligence officials now say it could cause long-term harm to U.S. and European economies. (via Gady Epstein)
  2. Digestible Microchips (Nature) — The sand-particle sized sensor consists of a minute silicon chip containing trace amounts of magnesium and copper. When swallowed, it generates a slight voltage in response to digestive juices, which conveys a signal to the surface of a person’s skin where a patch then relays the information to a mobile phone belonging to a healthcare-provider. (via Sara Winge)
  3. Quantum Mechanics Make Simple(r) — clever way to avoid the brain pain of quantum mechanics and leap straight to the “oh!”. [N]ature is described not by probabilities (which are always nonnegative), but by numbers called amplitudes that can be positive, negative, or even complex. [...] In the usual “hierarchy of sciences”—with biology at the top, then chemistry, then physics, then math—quantum mechanics sits at a level between math and physics that I don’t know a good name for. Basically, quantum mechanics is the operating system that other physical theories run on as application software (with the exception of general relativity, which hasn’t yet been successfully ported to this particular OS). (via Hacker News)
  4. Selectively De-Animating Video — SIGGRAPH talk showing how to keep some things still in a video. Check out the teaser video with samples: ZOMG. I note that Maneesh Agrawala was involved: I’m a fan of his from Line Drive maps and 3D exploded views, but his entire paper list is worth reading. Wow. (via Greg Borenstein)

July 25 2012

Four short links: 25 July 2012

  1. Bank of England Complains About AR Bank NotesAfter downloading the free Blippar app on iPhone or Android, customers were able to ‘blipp’ any ten-pound note in circulation by opening the app and holding their phone over the note. An animated Queen, and other members of the Royal Family, then appeared on the screen and voiced opinions on the latest football matters.
  2. Kittydar — open source computer vision library in Javascript for identifying cat faces. I am not making this up. (via Kyle McDonald
  3. Quantified Mind — battery of cognitive tests, so you can track performance over time and measure the effect of interventions (coffee, diet, exercise, whatever). (via Sara Winge)
  4. Jellyfish Made From Rat Cells (Nature) — an artificial jellyfish using silicone and muscle cells from a rat’s heart. The synthetic creature, dubbed a medusoid, looks like a flower with eight petals. When placed in an electric field, it pulses and swims exactly like its living counterpart. Very cool, but the bit that caught my eye was: the team built the medusoid as a way of understanding the “fundamental laws of muscular pumps”. It is an engineer’s approach to basic science: prove that you have identified the right principles by building something with them.

June 27 2012

Four short links: 27 June 2012

  1. Turing Centenary Speech (Bruce Sterling) -- so many thoughtbombs, this repays rereading. We’re okay with certain people who “think different” to the extent of buying Apple iPads. We’re rather hostile toward people who “think so very differently” that their work will make no sense for thirty years — if ever. We’ll test them, and see if we can find some way to get them to generate wealth for us, but we’re not considerate of them as unusual, troubled entities wandering sideways through a world they never made. ... Cognition exists, and computation exists, but they’re not the same phenomenon with two different masks on. ... Explain to me, as an engineer, why it’s so important to aspire to build systems with “Artificial Intelligence,” and yet you’d scorn to build “Artificial Femininity.” What is that about? ... Every day I face all these unstable heaps of creative machinery. How do we judge art created with, by, and or through these devices? What is our proper role with them? [...] How do we judge what we’re doing? How do we distribute praise and blame, rewards and demerits, how do to guide it, how do we attribute meaning to it? ... oh just read the whole damn piece, it's the best thing you'll read this month.
  2. Handsontable -- Excel-like grid editing plugin for jQuery (MIT-licensed).
  3. Lumoback (Kickstarter) -- smart posture sensor which provides a gentle vibration when you slouch to remind you to sit or stand straight. It is worn on your lower back and designed to be slim, sleek and so comfortable that you barely feel it when you have it on. (via Tim O'Reilly)
  4. Robot Hand Beats You At Rock-Paper-Scissors (IEEE) -- tl;dr: computer vision and fast robotics means it chooses after you reveal, but it happens so quickly that you don't realize it's cheating. (via Hacker News)

June 26 2012

Four short links: 26 June 2012

  1. SnapItHD -- camera captures full 360-degree panorama and users select and zoom regions afterward. (via Idealog)
  2. Iago (GitHub) -- Twitter's load-generation tool.
  3. AutoCAD Worm Stealing Blueprints -- lovely, malware that targets inventions. The worm, known as ACAD/Medre.A, is spreading through infected AutoCAD templates and is sending tens of thousands of stolen documents to email addresses in China. This one has soured, but give the field time ... anything that can be stolen digitally, will be. (via Slashdot)
  4. Designing For and Against the Manufactured Normalcy Field (Greg Borenstein) -- Tim said this was one of his favourite sessions at this year's Foo Camp: breaking the artificial normality than we try to cast over new experiences so as to make them safe and comfortable.

June 20 2012

Four short links: 20 June 2012

  1. Researcher Chats To Hacker Who Created The Virus He's Researching -- Chicken: I didn’t know you can see my screen. Hacker: I would like to see your face, but what a pity you don’t have a camera.
  2. Economist on QR Codes -- Three-quarters of American online retailers surveyed by Forrester, a research firm, use them. In April nearly 20% of smartphone users in America scanned one, up from 14% in May last year.
  3. Reconstructing the Ruins of Warsaw -- what an amazing accomplishment!
  4. The Great German Energy Experiment (Technology Review) -- political will: the risk and the successes. Certainly a huge gulf between Germany and America in where they are, and political will to be more renewable.

June 04 2012

Four short links: 4 June 2012

  1. How To Be An Explorer of the World (Amazon) -- I want to take this course on design anthropology but this book, the assigned text, looks like an excellent second best.
  2. StuxNet Was American-Made Cyberwarfare Tool (NY Times) -- not even the air gap worked for Iran, “It turns out there is always an idiot around who doesn’t think much about the thumb drive in their hand.”
  3. So Much For The Paperless Society (Beta Knowledge Tumblr) -- graph of the waxing and waning use of bond paper in North America. Spoiler: we're still using a lot.
  4. Magnifying Temporal Variation in Video -- Our goal is to reveal temporal variations in videos that are difficult or impossible to see with the naked eye and display them in an indicative manner. Our method, which we call Eulerian Video Magnification, takes a standard video sequence as input, and applies spatial decomposition, followed by temporal filtering to the frames. The resulting signal is then amplified to reveal hidden information. Using our method, we are able to visualize the flow of blood as it fills the face and also to amplify and reveal small motions. Our technique can run in real time to show phenomena occurring at temporal frequencies selected by the user. This is amazing: track the pulse in your face from a few frames. (via Hacker News)

May 17 2012

Four short links: 17 May 2012

  1. The Mythology of Big Data (PDF) -- slides from a Strata keynote by Mark R. Madsen. A lovely explanation of the social impediments to the rational use of data. (via Hamish MacEwan)
  2. Scamworld -- amazing deconstruction of the online "get rich quick" scam business. (via Andy Baio)
  3. Ceres: Solving Complex Problems with Computing Muscle -- Johnny Lee Chung explains the (computer vision) uses of the open source Ceres Non-Linear Least Squares Solver library from Google.
  4. How to Start a Think Tank (Guardian) -- The answer to the looming crisis of legitimacy we're facing is greater openness - not just regarding who met who at what Christmas party, but on the substance of policy. The best way to re-engage people in politics is to change how politics works - in the case of our project, to develop a more direct way for the people who use and provide public and voluntary services to create better social policy. Hear, hear. People seize on the little stuff because you haven't given them a way to focus something big with you.

March 26 2012

Four short links: 26 March 2012

  1. Australian NSA Forces National Broadband Network to Dump Huawei -- Australia's government security organization knocked Huawei out of the eligible bidding list. "It's the exact area where we have been the sole supplier in the United Kingdom for the past six years," Huawei's director of corporate and ­public affairs, Jeremy Mitchell, told the Financial Review. Governments ask themselves how to be assured of information security when routers, firewalls, etc. are made in countries that have fostered attacks against other states and corporations.
  2. From Cave Paintings to the Internet -- a timeline of many (many) milestones in the history of information.
  3. How to See Around Corners (Nature) -- love the production of the demo video, but interesting to see how computation is becoming integral to vision apps. (via Ed Yong)
  4. Are Undergraduates Actually Learning Anything? (Chronicle of Higher Ed) -- Growing numbers of students are sent to college at increasingly higher costs, but for a large proportion of them the gains in critical thinking, complex reasoning, and written communication are either exceedingly small or empirically nonexistent. At least 45 percent of students in our sample did not demonstrate any statistically significant improvement in Collegiate Learning Assessment [CLA] performance during the first two years of college. [Further study has indicated that 36 percent of students did not show any significant improvement over four years.] Why your graduate intake feels disappointing: it is. (via Counterpunch)

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