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February 05 2014

Four short links: 6 February 2014

  1. What Machines Can’t Do (NY Times) — In the 1950s, the bureaucracy was the computer. People were organized into technocratic systems in order to perform routinized information processing. But now the computer is the computer. The role of the human is not to be dispassionate, depersonalized or neutral. It is precisely the emotive traits that are rewarded: the voracious lust for understanding, the enthusiasm for work, the ability to grasp the gist, the empathetic sensitivity to what will attract attention and linger in the mind. Cf the fantastic The Most Human Human. (via Jim Stogdill)
  2. The Technium: A Conversation with Kevin Kelly (Edge) — If we were sent back with a time machine, even 20 years, and reported to people what we have right now and describe what we were going to get in this device in our pocket—we’d have this free encyclopedia, and we’d have street maps to most of the cities of the world, and we’d have box scores in real time and stock quotes and weather reports, PDFs for every manual in the world—we’d make this very, very, very long list of things that we would say we would have and we get on this device in our pocket, and then we would tell them that most of this content was free. You would simply be declared insane. They would say there is no economic model to make this. What is the economics of this? It doesn’t make any sense, and it seems far-fetched and nearly impossible. But the next twenty years are going to make this last twenty years just pale. (via Sara Winge)
  3. Applying Machine Learning to Network Security Monitoring (Slideshare) — interesting deck on big data + machine learning as applied to netsec. See also their ML Sec Project. (via Anton Chuvakin)
  4. Medieval Unicode Font Initiative — code points for medieval markup. I would have put money on Ogonek being a fantasy warrior race. Go figure.

November 07 2013

Four short links: 7 November 2013

  1. Learn to Search — cheeky but spot-on help for people running conferences.
  2. Offline Firstno, the mobile connectivity/bandwidth issue isn’t just going to solve itself on a global level anywhere in the near future. THIS!
  3. 10 Things You Should Know About AWS — lots of specialist tips for hardcore AWS users.
  4. The League of Moveable Type — AWESOME FONTS. Me gusta.

July 17 2013

Beautiful web type

Beautiful web type
http://hellohappy.org/beautiful-web-type

A showcase of the best typefaces from the Google web #fonts directory.
There are over 600 typefaces in the Google web fonts directory. Many of them are awful. But there are also high-quality typefaces that deserve a closer look. Below are examples of these typefaces in action. Click the examples to get the typeface from the Google web fonts directory.

June 27 2013

Four short links: 27 June 2013

  1. nitrous.io — IDE “in the cloud”, as “the kids” say.
  2. smartHeadlight — headlight that tracks raindrops and doesn’t send out light to reflect off them back into your eyes causing you to clutch your head and veer off the road into the parking lot of a Hooters to which your wife will NOT enjoy being called to tow your VERY SORRY HONEY ass home. Thank heavens science can save us from this awful hypothetical scenario. (via Greg Linden)
  3. Knight Funds outline.io — it’s a public policy simulator that helps people visualize the impact that public policies like health care reform and school budget changes might have on local economies and communities. Simulators are hugely underused way to get public to understand policy debate. (via Julie Starr)
  4. ZXX Font — designed to be hard to OCR, though a common trick makes it pervious to OCR. Secrecy is not an option on your font menu. (via Beta Knowledge)

January 31 2013

Four short links: 31 January 2013

  1. Courier Prime — tweaked Courier “for screenplays” (!). (via BoingBoing)
  2. The Dead Grandmother/Exam Syndrome and the Potential Downfall Of American Society (PDF) — education is dangerous to female extended family members. As can be seen in Table 1, when no exam is imminent the family death rate per 100 students (FDR) is low and is not related to the student’s grade in the class. The effect of an upcoming exam is unambiguous. The mean FDR jumps from 0.054 with no exam, to 0.574 with a mid-term, and to 1.042 with a final, representing increases of 10 fold and 19 fold respectively. (via Hacker News)
  3. Internet: 2012 in Numbers — lots of surprising numbers, with sources. Three that caught my eye: 42.1% – Internet penetration in China; 2.7 billion – Number of likes on Facebook every day; 59% – Share of global mobile data traffic that was video.
  4. 2013: The Year Ahead in Mobile (Business Insider) — Mobile is already 1/7 of global Internet traffic and growing its share quickly [...] on pace to top 25% by year end. Interesting prediction that rich people already have devices, so everyone’s working on low-cost units so they can sell to new customers in “growth markets” aka developing world.
  5. July 27 2012

    Four short links: 27 July 2012

    1. Social Media in China (Fast Company) — fascinating interview with Tricia Wang. We often don’t think we have a lot to learn from tech companies outside of the U.S., but Twitter should look to Weibo for inspiration for what can be done. It’s like a mashup of Tumblr, Zynga, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s very picture-based, whereas Twitter is still very text-based. In Weibo, the pictures are right under each post, so you don’t have to make an extra click to view them. And people are using this in subversive ways. Whether you’re using algorithms to search text or actual people–and China has the largest cyber police force in the world—it’s much easier to censor text than images. So people are very subversive in hiding messages in pictures. These pictures are sometimes very different than what people are texting, or will often say a lot more than the actual text itself. (via Tricia Wang)
    2. A Treatise on Font Rasterisation With an Emphasis on Free Software (Freddie Witherden) — far more than you ever thought you wanted to know about how fonts are rendered. (via Thomas Fuchs)
    3. Softwear Automation — robots to make clothes, something which is surprisingly rare. (via Andrew McAfee)
    4. A Guide to Analyzing Python Performance — finding speed and memory problems in your Python code. With pretty pictures! (via Ian Kallen)

    January 30 2012

    Four short links: 30 January 2012

    1. Improvisation and Forgiveness (JP Rangaswami) -- what makes us human is not repetitive action. Human occupations should require human intellect, and there's no more human activity than making a judgement call when processes have failed a customer.
    2. Kinect Tech in Laptop Prototypes -- "waving your hands around at your laptop" will be the new "bellowing into your walkie-talkie phone". (via Greg Linden)
    3. Beautiful Web Type -- demo page for the best from Google's web fonts directory. Source on GitHub.
    4. Ethics of Brain Boosting, Discussion (Hacker News) -- this comment in particular: in my initial reckless period of self-experimentation, I managed to induce phosphenes by accident -- blue white flashes in the entire visual field, blanking out everything else. Both contacts were in the supraorbital region. I ceased my experiments for a while and returned to the literature. And you thought that typo where you accidentally took the database offline was bad ....

    November 01 2011

    Four short links: 1 November 2011

    1. Things Turbo Pascal is Smaller Than -- next time you're bragging about your efficient code, spare a thought for the Pascal IDE and compiler that lived in 39,731 bytes. This list of more bloated things is hilarious.
    2. The China Startup Report (Slideshare) -- interesting to see the low salary comes with expectation of bonuses but little interest in equity (as there are few exits other than IPO, for reasons the presentation goes into).
    3. Shape Method -- fun HTML5 challenge that will also expand your appreciation of fonts.
    4. Open Source All The Things! -- SparkFun looking aggressively for things to "open source" from their business. I have a lot of time for companies that contribute to the commons above and beyond their legally-mandated minimum, particularly those who aren't just dumping their unwanted junk there. Google does this well, Facebook is learning. Good on ya, SparkFun.

    March 03 2011

    Four short links: 3 March 2011

    1. Guangzhou City Map -- Chinese city maps: they use orthographic projection (think SimCity) and not satellite images. A nice compromise for usability, information content, and invisible censorship. (via Hacker News)
    2. Broken Windows, Broken Code, Broken Systems -- So, given that most of us live in the real world where some things are just left undone, where do we draw the line? What do we consider a bit of acceptable street litter, and what do we consider a broken window? When is it ok to just reboot the system, and when do you really need to figure out exactly what went wrong?
    3. Android Malware -- black hat copied apps, added trojans, uploaded to Android Marketplace. Google were slow to respond to original developer's claims of copying, quick to react to security guy's report of malware. AppStores are not magic moneypumps in software form, no more than tagging, communities, or portals were. User contributions need editorial oversight.
    4. The League of Movable Type -- a collection of open source fonts, ready for embedding in your web pages.

    February 17 2011

    Four short links: 17 February 2011

    1. The True Cost of Publishing on the Kindle -- an article, apparently by a horrified negotiator with Amazon, revealing that magazine and newspaper publishers pay the WhisperNet delivery costs of their editions. That's not Amazon overhead, it comes out of the publisher's royalty slice. (via Hacker News)
    2. Fonts in Use -- examples of sweet typography and the fonts that were used.
    3. Ffffound -- social network for graphic designers (invite only) with a "people who liked also liked" type of recommendation system. Very clever. So as you research "I want to build a cheesy 70s logo", you thumbs up the images you like and soon the system is suggesting designs with elements of cheesy 70s logos to you. I love that it is invitation-only: you're trusting the judgement of the other people, so you had better only let in people whose judgement you trust.
    4. China's Second Wives and Gift Culture -- second wives, status, and brand. But any city that has a middle class is going to have Second Wives. [...] Even Jiang Zemin, the former President, had a very high profile mistress - a singer called Song Zuying who appears on the Chinese New Year programme every year. And it's not a scandal. A reminder that if you think you can export your crappy business built on American status symbols, you're leaping into the Sea of Fail. (via Sciblogs)

    December 15 2010

    Four short links: 15 December 2010

    1. Dremel (PDF) -- paper on the Dremel distributed nested column-store database developed at Google. Interesting beyond the technology is the list of uses, which includes tracking install data for applications on Android Market; crash reporting from Google products; OCR results from Google Books; spam analysis; debugging map tiles. (via Greg Linden)
    2. Conversational UI: A Short Reading List -- it can be difficult to build a text user interface to a bot because there's not a great body of useful literature around textual UIs the way there is around GUIs. This great list of pointers goes a long way to solving that problem.
    3. Sustainable Education (YouTube) -- Watch this clip from the New Zealand Open Source Awards. Mark Osborne, Deputy Principal from Albany Senior High School, talks about the software choices at their school not because it's right for technology but because it's right for the students. Very powerful.
    4. What Font Should I Use? -- design life support for the terminally tasteless like myself. (via Hacker News)

    June 22 2010

    Four short links: 22 June 2010

    1. High-Speed Book Scanner -- you flip the pages, and it uses high-speed photography to capture images of each page. "But they're all curved!" Indeed, so they project a grid onto the page so as to be able to correct for the curvature. The creator wanted to scan Manga, but the first publisher he tried turned him down. I've written to him offering a pile of O'Reilly books to test on. We love this technology!
    2. Magic Tables, not Magic Windows (Matt Jones) -- thoughtful piece about how touch-screens are rarely used as a controller of abstract things rather than of real things, with some examples of the potential he's talking about. When we’re not concentrating on our marbles, we’re looking each other in the eye - chuckling, tutting and cursing our aim - and each other. There’s no screen between us, there’s a magic table making us laugh. It’s probably my favourite app to show off the iPad - including the ones we’ve designed! It shows that the iPad can be a media surface to share, rather than a proscenium to consume through alone.
    3. Myths and Fallacies of Personally Identifiable Information -- particularly relevant after reading Apple's new iTunes privacy policy. We talk about the technical and legal meanings of “personally identifiable information” (PII) and argue that the term means next to nothing and must be greatly de-emphasized, if not abandoned, in order to have a meaningful discourse on data privacy. (via Pete Warden)
    4. Mensch Font -- an interesting font, but this particularly caught my eye: Naturally I searched for a font editor, and the best one I found was Font Forge, an old Linux app ported to the Mac but still requiring X11. So that’s two ways OS X is borrowing from Linux for font support. What’s up with that? Was there an elite cadre of fontistas working on Linux machines in a secret bunker? Linux is, um, not usually known for its great designers. (via joshua on Delicious)

    February 25 2010

    Four short links: 25 February 2010

    1. like python -- lets you write Python in Valleygirl, LOLCAT, fratboy, and rap. Still not a handle on writing Perl in Latin. (via Hacker News)
    2. Belief In Climate Change Hinges On Worldview (NPR) -- applicable beyond climate change. Whether you get what you want depends on how it's framed and how it's delivered. The paper cited is available for PDF download.
    3. gheat -- add a heatmap layer to a Google Map. For more on its design and implementation, read Chad Whitacre's blog.
    4. TrueType VT220 Font -- turns out it's not as simple as a straight bitmap. This article explains how scanline gaps and a dot-stretching circuit create the look we old-timers remember. (via rgs on Delicious)

    January 23 2010

    02mydafsoup-01

    January 04 2010

    Four short links: 4 January 2010

    1. Why Git Is So Fast -- interesting mailing list post about the problems that the JGit folks had when they tried to make their Java version of Git go faster. Higher level languages hide enough of the machine that we can't make all of these optimizations. A reminder that you must know and control the systems you're running on if you want to get great performance. (via Hacker News)
    2. Wooden Combination Lock -- you'll easily understand how combination locks work with this find piece of crafty construction work.
    3. From Moleskine to Market -- how a leading font designer designs fonts. Fascinating, and beautiful, and it makes me covet his skills.
    4. Terrastore -- open source distributed document store, HTTP accessible, data and queries are distributed, built on Terracotta which is built on ehcache. A NoSQL database built on Java tools that serious Java developers respect, the first such one that I've noticed. Notice that all the interesting work going on in the NoSQL arena is happening in open source projects.

    January 01 2010

    Four short links: 1 January 2010

    1. Measuring Type -- clever way to measure which font uses more ink.
    2. Vowpal Wabbit -- fast learning software from Yahoo! Research and Hunch. Code available in git. (via zecharia on Delicious)
    3. Literature Review on Indexing Time-Series Data -- a graduate student's research work included this literature review of papers on indexing time-series data. (via jpatanooga on Delicious)
    4. igraph -- programming library for manipulating graph data, with the usual algorithms (minimum spanning tree, network flow, cliques, etc.) available in R, Python, and C.

    November 23 2009

    Four short links: 23 November 2009

    1. Top E-Tailers Profiting From Scams -- Vertrue, Webloyalty, and Affinion generated more than $1.4 billion by "misleading" Web shoppers, said members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. [...] The government says the investigation shows that [the companies] "trick" consumers into entering their e-mail address just before they complete purchases at sites such as Orbitz, Priceline.com, Buy.com, 1-800 Flowers, Continental Airlines, Fandango, and Classmates.com. A Web ad, which many consumers say appears to be from the retailer, offers them cash back or coupon if they key in their e-mail address.
    2. Image Swirl (Google Labs) -- interesting image search result navigator. It's fun to play with, trying to figure out why particular sets of images are grouped together.
    3. Create Crisis (Dan Meyer) -- great call to arms for educators. It's still astonishing to me how few "learning xyz" books follow this advice. Would-be authors, take note! If there were ever an easy way to make your computer book stand out for being better than the rest, this is it!
    4. Typographic Character Coasters -- the single best argument for laser cutters evar. Send the patterns to Ponoko if you don't have a laser cutter handy.

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