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January 24 2014

Four short links: 24 January 2014

  1. What Every Computer Scientist Should Know About Floating Point Arithmetic — in short, “it will hurt you.”
  2. Ori a distributed file system built for offline operation and empowers the user with control over synchronization operations and conflict resolution. We provide history through light weight snapshots and allow users to verify the history has not been tampered with. Through the use of replication instances can be resilient and recover damaged data from other nodes.
  3. RoboEartha Cloud Robotics infrastructure, which includes everything needed to close the loop from robot to the cloud and back to the robot. RoboEarth’s World-Wide-Web style database stores knowledge generated by humans – and robots – in a machine-readable format. Data stored in the RoboEarth knowledge base include software components, maps for navigation (e.g., object locations, world models), task knowledge (e.g., action recipes, manipulation strategies), and object recognition models (e.g., images, object models).
  4. Mother — domestic sensors and an app with an appallingly presumptuous name. (Also, wasn’t “Mother” the name of the ship computer in Alien?) (via BoingBoing)

December 10 2013

Four short links: 10 December 2013

  1. ArangoDBopen-source database with a flexible data model for documents, graphs, and key-values. Build high performance applications using a convenient sql-like query language or JavaScript extensions.
  2. Google’s Seven Robotics Companies (IEEE) — The seven companies are capable of creating technologies needed to build a mobile, dexterous robot. Mr. Rubin said he was pursuing additional acquisitions. Rundown of those seven companies.
  3. Hebel (Github) — GPU-Accelerated Deep Learning Library in Python.
  4. What We Learned Open Sourcing — my eye was caught by the way they offered APIs to closed source code, found and solved performance problems, then open sourced the fixed code.

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 11 2013

Four short links: 11 November 2013

  1. Living Light — 3D printed cephalopods filled with bioluminescent bacteria. PAGING CORY DOCTOROW, YOUR ORGASMATRON HAS ARRIVED. (via Sci Blogs)
  2. Repacking Lego Batteries with a CNC Mill — check out the video. Patrick programmed a CNC machine to drill out the rivets holding the Mindstorms battery pack together. Coding away a repetitive task like this is gorgeous to see at every scale. We don’t have to teach our kids a particular programming language, but they should know how to automate cruft.
  3. My Thoughts on Google+ (YouTube) — when your fans make hatey videos like this one protesting Google putting the pig of Google Plus onto the lipstick that was YouTube, you are Doin’ It Wrong.
  4. Presto: Interacting with Petabytes of Data at Facebooka distributed SQL query engine optimized for ad-hoc analysis at interactive speed. It supports standard ANSI SQL, including complex queries, aggregations, joins, and window functions. For details, see the Facebook post about its launch.

November 05 2013

Four short links: 5 November 2013

  1. Influx DBopen-source, distributed, time series, events, and metrics database with no external dependencies.
  2. Omega (PDF) — ���exible, scalable schedulers for large compute clusters. From Google Research.
  3. GraspJSSearch and replace your JavaScript code based on its structure rather than its text.
  4. Amazon Mines Its Data Trove To Bet on TV’s Next Hit (WSJ) — Amazon produced about 20 pages of data detailing, among other things, how much a pilot was viewed, how many users gave it a 5-star rating and how many shared it with friends.

October 03 2013

Four short links: 3 October 2013

  1. Hyundia Replacing Cigarette Lighters with USB Ports (Quartz) — sign of the times. (via Julie Starr)
  2. Freeseerfree, open source, cross-platform application that captures or streams your desktop—designed for capturing presentations. Would you like freedom with your screencast?
  3. Amazon Redshift: What You Need to Know — good write-up of experience using Amazon’s column database.
  4. GroupTweetAllow any number of contributors to Tweet from a group account safely and securely. (via Jenny Magiera)

September 24 2013

September 19 2013

Four short links: 20 September 2013

  1. Researchers Can Slip an Undetectable Trojan into Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPUs (Ars Technica) — The exploit works by severely reducing the amount of entropy the RNG normally uses, from 128 bits to 32 bits. The hack is similar to stacking a deck of cards during a game of Bridge. Keys generated with an altered chip would be so predictable an adversary could guess them with little time or effort required. The severely weakened RNG isn’t detected by any of the “Built-In Self-Tests” required for the P800-90 and FIPS 140-2 compliance certifications mandated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
  2. rethinkdbopen-source distributed JSON document database with a pleasant and powerful query language.
  3. Teach Kids Programming — a collection of resources. I start on Scratch much sooner, and 12+ definitely need the Arduino, but generally I agree with the things I recognise, and have a few to research …
  4. Raspberry Pi as Ad-Blocking Access Point (AdaFruit) — functionality sadly lacking from my off-the-shelf AP.

September 18 2013

Four short links: 18 September 2013

  1. No ManagersIf we could find a way to replace the function of the managers and focus everyone on actually producing for our Students (customers) then it would actually be possible to be a #NoManager company. In my future posts I’ll explain how we’re doing this at Treehouse.
  2. The 20 Smartest Things Jeff Bezos Has Ever Said (Motley Fool) — I feel like the 219th smartest thing Jeff Bezos has ever said is still smarter than the smartest thing most business commentators will ever say. (He says, self-referentially) “Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood.”
  3. Putting Time in Perspective — nifty representations of relative timescales and history. (via BoingBoing)
  4. Sophia — BSD-licensed small C library implementing an embeddable key-value database “for a high-load environment”.

September 08 2013

August 29 2013

Four short links: 30 August 2013

  1. intention.jsmanipulates the DOM via HTML attributes. The methods for manipulation are placed with the elements themselves, so flexible layouts don’t seem so abstract and messy.
  2. Introducing Brick: Minimal-markup Web Components for Faster App Development (Mozilla) — a cross-browser library that provides new custom HTML tags to abstract away common user interface patterns into easy-to-use, flexible, and semantic Web Components. Built on Mozilla’s x-tags library, Brick allows you to plug simple HTML tags into your markup to implement widgets like sliders or datepickers, speeding up development by saving you from having to initially think about the under-the-hood HTML/CSS/JavaScript.
  3. F1: A Distributed SQL Database That Scalesa distributed relational database system built at Google to support the AdWords business. F1 is a hybrid database that combines high availability, the scalability of NoSQL systems like Bigtable, and the consistency and usability of traditional SQL databases. F1 is built on Spanner, which provides synchronous cross-datacenter replication and strong consistency. Synchronous replication implies higher commit latency, but we mitigate that latency by using a hierarchical schema model with structured data types and through smart application design. F1 also includes a fully functional distributed SQL query engine and automatic change tracking and publishing.
  4. Looking Inside The (Drop)Box (PDF) — This paper presents new and generic techniques, to reverse engineer frozen Python applications, which are not limited to just the Dropbox world. We describe a method to bypass Dropbox’s two factor authentication and hijack Dropbox accounts. Additionally, generic techniques to intercept SSL data using code injection techniques and monkey patching are presented. (via Tech Republic)

August 20 2013

Four short links: 21 August 2013

  1. blinkdbThe current version of BlinkDB supports a slightly constrained set of SQL-style declarative queries and provides approximate results for standard SQL aggregate queries, specifically queries involving COUNT, AVG, SUM and PERCENTILE and is being extended to support any User-Defined Functions (UDFs). Queries involving these operations can be annotated with either an error bound, or a time constraint, based on which the system selects an appropriate sample to operate on.
  2. sheetsee.js (github) — Javascript library that makes it easy to use a Google Spreadsheet as the database feeding the tables, charts and maps on a website. Once set up, any changes to the spreadsheet will auto-saved by Google and be live on your site when a visitor refreshes the page. (via Tom Armitage)
  3. China Plans to Become a Leader in Robotics (Quartz) — The ODCCC too funds high risk research initiatives through the Thousand Talent Project (TTP), a three-year term project with possible extension. The goal of the TTP is to recruit thousands of foreign researchers with strong expertise in hardware and software to help develop innovation in China. There are already more than 100 foreign researchers working in China since 2008, the year TTP started.
  4. AppScale (GitHub) — open source implementation of Google App Engine.

July 04 2013

May 08 2013

Four short links: 8 May 2013

  1. How to Build a Working Digital Computer Out of Paperclips (Evil Mad Scientist) — from a 1967 popular science book showing how to build everything from parts that you might find at a hardware store: items like paper clips, little light bulbs, thread spools, wire, screws, and switches (that can optionally be made from paper clips).
  2. Moloch (Github) — an open source, large scale IPv4 packet capturing (PCAP), indexing and database system with a simple web GUI.
  3. Offline Wikipedia Reader (Amazon) — genius, because what Wikipedia needed to be successful was to be read-only. (via BoingBoing)
  4. Storing and Publishing Sensor Data — rundown of apps and sites for sensor data. (via Pete Warden)

April 23 2013

Four short links: 23 April 2013

  1. Drawscript — Processing for Illustrator. (via BERG London)
  2. Archive Team Warriora virtual archiving appliance. You can run it to help with the ArchiveTeam archiving efforts. It will download sites and upload them to our archive. (via Ed Vielmetti)
  3. Retro Vectorsroyalty-free and free of charge.
  4. TokutekDB Goes Open Sourcea high-performance, transactional storage engine for MySQL and MariaDB. See the announcement.

March 01 2013

Four short links: 1 March 2013

  1. Drone Journalismtwo universities in the US have already incorporated drone use in their journalism programs. The Drone Journalism Lab at the University of Nebraska and the Missouri Drone Journalism Program at the University of Missouri both teach journalism students how to make the most of what drones have to offer when reporting a story. They also teach students how to fly drones, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and ethics.
  2. passivednsA network sniffer that logs all DNS server replies for use in a passive DNS setup.
  3. IFLA E-Lending Background Paper (PDF) — The global dominance of English language eBook title availability reinforced by eReader availability is starkly evident in the statistics on titles available by country: in the USA: 1,000,000; UK: 400,000; Germany/France: 80,000 each; Japan: 50,000; Australia: 35,000; Italy: 20,000; Spain: 15,000; Brazil: 6,000. Many more stats in this paper prepared as context for the International Federation of Library Associations.
  4. The god Architecturea scalable, performant, persistent, in-memory data structure server. It allows massively distributed applications to update and fetch common data in a structured and sorted format. Its main inspirations are Redis and Chord/DHash. Like Redis it focuses on performance, ease of use and a small, simple yet powerful feature set, while from the Chord/DHash projects it inherits scalability, redundancy, and transparent failover behaviour.

December 20 2012

Four short links: 20 December 2012

  1. Use The Index, Luke — free ebook on tuning SQL database access.
  2. CamanJS — Instagram-like filters in Javascript, permissively-licensed open source. (via VentureBeat)
  3. Don’t Stick That There — USB device pretending to be a keyboard. The benefit of this is that even with USB auto-run disabled, our exploit will still work as it emulates a keyboard. No one ever blocks USB keyboards! (via David Sklar)
  4. Best Practices: Designing Touch Tablet Experiences for Preschoolers (Sesame Workshop) — the good people at Sesame Street Workshop tell what works and what doesn’t when you make tablet touch UIs for kids. Double Tap: Children expect immediate feedback from their touch and tend to think the app is unresponsive when a double tap is required. We suggest only using double tap to prevent a child from accidental navigation (e.g., leaving an activity, accessing parent content).

October 25 2012

Four short links: 25 October 2012

  1. Big Data: the Big Picture (Vimeo) — Jim Stogdill’s excellent talk: although Big Data is presented as part of the Gartner Hype Cycle, it’s an epoch of the Information Age which will have significant effects on the structure of corporations and the economy.
  2. Impala (github) — Cloudera’s open source (Apache) implementation of Google’s F1 (PDF), for realtime queries across clusters. Impala is different from Hive and Pig because it uses its own daemons that are spread across the cluster for queries. Furthermore, Impala does not leverage MapReduce, allowing Impala to return result in real-time. (via Wired)
  3. druid (github) — open source (GPLv2) a distributed, column-oriented analytical datastore. It was originally created to resolve query latency issues seen with trying to use Hadoop to power an interactive service. See also the announcement of its open-sourcing.
  4. Supersonic (Google Code) — an ultra-fast, column oriented query engine library written in C++. It provides a set of data transformation primitives which make heavy use of cache-aware algorithms, SIMD instructions and vectorised execution, allowing it to exploit the capabilities and resources of modern, hyper pipelined CPUs. It is designed to work in a single process. Apache-licensed.

August 13 2012

A grisly job for data scientists

Missing Person: Ai Weiwei by Daquella manera, on FlickrJavier Reveron went missing from Ohio in 2004. His wallet turned up in New York City, but he was nowhere to be found. By the time his parents arrived to search for him and hand out fliers, his remains had already been buried in an unmarked indigent grave. In New York, where coroner’s resources are precious, remains wait a few months to be claimed before they’re buried by convicts in a potter’s field on uninhabited Hart Island, just off the Bronx in Long Island Sound.

The story, reported by the New York Times last week, has as happy an ending as it could given that beginning. In 2010 Reveron’s parents added him to a national database of missing persons. A month later police in New York matched him to an unidentified body and his remains were disinterred, cremated and given burial ceremonies in Ohio.

Reveron’s ordeal suggests an intriguing, and impactful, machine-learning problem. The Department of Justice maintains separate national, public databases for missing people, unidentified people and unclaimed people. Many records are full of rich data that is almost never a perfect match to data in other databases — hair color entered by a police department might differ from how it’s remembered by a missing person’s family; weights fluctuate; scars appear. Photos are provided for many missing people and some unidentified people, and matching them is difficult. Free-text fields in many entries describe the circumstances under which missing people lived and died; a predilection for hitchhiking could be linked to a death by the side of a road.

I’ve called the Department of Justice (DOJ) to ask about the extent to which they’ve worked with computer scientists to match missing and unidentified people, and will update when I hear back. One thing that’s not immediately apparent is the public availability of the necessary training set — cases that have been successfully matched and removed from the lists. The DOJ apparently doesn’t comment on resolved cases, which could make getting this data difficult. But perhaps there’s room for a coalition to request the anonymized data and manage it to the DOJ’s satisfaction while distributing it to capable data scientists.

Photo: Missing Person: Ai Weiwei by Daquella manera, on Flickr

Related:

July 25 2012

Four short links: 26 July 2012

  1. Drones Over Somalia are Hazard to Air Traffic (Washington Post) — In a recently completed report, U.N. officials describe several narrowly averted disasters in which drones crashed into a refu­gee camp, flew dangerously close to a fuel dump and almost collided with a large passenger plane over Mogadishu, the capital. (via Jason Leopold)
  2. Sequel Pro — free and open source Mac app for managing MySQL databases. It’s an update of CocoaMySQL.
  3. Neural Network Improves Accuracy of Least Invasive Breast Cancer Test — nice use of technology to make lives better, for which the creator won the Google Science Fair. Oh yeah, she’s 17. (via Miss Representation)
  4. Free Harder to Find on Amazon — so much for ASINs being permanent and unchangeable. Amazon “updated” the ASINs for a bunch of Project Gutenberg books, which means they’ve lost all the reviews, purchase history, incoming links, and other juice that would have put them at the top of searches for those titles. Incompetence, malice, greed, or a purely innocent mistake? (via Glyn Moody)
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