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December 16 2013

Four short links: 16 December 2013

  1. Suro (Github) — Netflix data pipeline service for large volumes of event data. (via Ben Lorica)
  2. NIPS Workshop on Data Driven Education — lots of research papers around machine learning, MOOC data, etc.
  3. Proofist — crowdsourced proofreading game.
  4. 3D-Printed Shoes (YouTube) — LeWeb talk from founder of the company, Continuum Fashion). (via Brady Forrest)

December 13 2013

Four short links: 13 December 2013

  1. Bunnie Huang Live (YouTube) — talk given at the Make:Live Stage at Maker Faire NYC, covering his experiences and advice for getting hardware made. (via Makezine)
  2. Bill Gates’s Best Books of 2013 — interesting list!
  3. The Robots are Here (Tyler Cowan) — a bleak view of the future in which jobs that can be done by robots are done by robots, and concomitant power spiral towards the rich. I let this one sit for a while before posting, and I still think it’s wildly important.
  4. Philips Hue Lightbulb — awesome widely-available commercial ambient display.

December 12 2013

Four short links: 12 December 2013

  1. iBeacons — Bluetooth LE enabling tighter coupling of physical world with digital. I’m enamoured with the interaction possibilities: The latest Apple TV software brought a fantastically clever workaround. You just tap your iPhone to the Apple TV itself, and it passes your Wi-Fi and iTunes credentials over and sets everything up instantaneously.
  2. Better and Better Keyboards (Jesse Vincent) — It suffered from the same problem as every other 3D-printed keyboard I’d made to date – When I showed it to someone, they got really excited about the fact that I had a 3D printer. In contrast, whenever I showed someone one of the layered acrylic prototype keyboards I’d built, they got excited about the keyboard.
  3. Bamboo.io — open source modular web service for dataset storage and retrieval.
  4. state.jsOpen source JavaScript state machine supporting most UML 2 features.

November 14 2013

June 28 2013

Four short links: 28 June 2013

  1. Huxley vs Orwellbuy Amusing Ourselves to Death if this rings true. The future is here, it’s just not evenly surveilled. (via rone)
  2. KeyMe — keys in the cloud. (Digital designs as backups for physical objects)
  3. Motorola Advanced Technology and Products GroupThe philosophy behind Motorola ATAP is to create an organization with the same level of appetite for technology advancement as DARPA, but with a consumer focus. It is a pretty interesting place to be. And they hired the excellent Johnny Chung Lee.
  4. Internet Credit Union — Internet Archive starts a Credit Union. Can’t wait to see memes on debit cards.

June 17 2013

Four short links: 21 June 2013

  1. Ant-Sized Computers (MIT TR) — The KL02 chip, made by Freescale, is shorter on each side than most ants are long and crams in memory, RAM, a processor, and more.
  2. Some Thoughts on Digital Manufacturing (Nick Pinkston) — Whenever I see someone make a “new” 3D printer that’s just a derivative of the RepRap or MakerBot – I could care less. Only new processes, great interfaces or super-low price points get my attention anymore. FormLabs being a great example of all three – which is why they were a massive hit. If you’re looking for problems: make a cheap laser cutter, CNC mill, or pick-n-place machine. See the Othermill.
  3. The Dictatorship of Data (MIT TR) — Robert McNamara epitomizes the hyper-rational executive led astray by numbers. (via Wolfgang Blau)
  4. A Field Test of Mobile Phone Shielding Devices (PDF) — masters thesis comparing various high-tech fabric-type shielding devices. Alas, tin-foil helmets weren’t investigated. (via Udhay Shankar)

May 09 2013

Where will software and hardware meet?

I’m a sucker for a good plant tour, and I had a really good one last week when Jim Stogdill and I visited K. Venkatesh Prasad at Ford Motor in Dearborn, Mich. I gave a seminar and we talked at length about Ford’s OpenXC program and its approach to building software platforms.

The highlight of the visit was seeing the scale of Ford’s operation, and particularly the scale of its research and development organization. Prasad’s building is a half-mile into Ford’s vast research and engineering campus. It’s an endless grid of wet labs like you’d see at a university: test tubes and robots all over the place; separate labs for adhesives, textiles, vibration dampening; machines for evaluating what’s in reach for different-sized people.

Prasad explained that much of the R&D that goes into a car is conducted at suppliers–Ford might ask its steel supplier to come up with a lighter, stronger alloy, for instance–but Ford is responsible for integrative research: figuring out how to, say, bond its foam insulation onto that new alloy.

In our more fevered moments, we on the software side of things tend to foresee every problem being reduced to a generic software problem, solvable with brute-force computing and standard machinery. In that interpretation, a theoretical Google car operating system–one that would drive the car and provide Web-based services to passengers–could commoditize the mechanical aspects of the automobile. If you’re not driving, you don’t care much about how the car handles; you just want a comfortable seat, functional air conditioning, and Web connectivity for entertainment. A panel in the dashboard becomes the only substantive point of interaction between a car and its owner, and if every car is running Google’s software in that panel, then there’s not much left to distinguish different makes and models.

When’s the last time you heard much of a debate on Dell laptops versus HP? As long it’s running the software you want, and meets minimum criteria for performance and physical quality, there’s not much to distinguish laptop makers for the vast majority of users. The exception, perhaps, is Apple, which consumers do distinguish from other laptop makers for both its high-quality hardware and its unique software.

That’s how I start to think after a few days in Mountain View. A trip to Detroit pushes me in the other direction: the mechanical aspects of cars are enormously complex. Even incremental changes take vast re-engineering efforts. Changing the shape of a door sill to make a car easier to get into means changing a car’s aesthetics, its frame, the sheet metal that gets stamped to make it, the wires and sensors embedded in it, and the assembly process that puts it together. Everything from structural integrity to user experience needs to be carefully checked before a thousand replicates start driving out of Ford’s plants every day.

So, when it comes to value added, where will the balance between software and machines emerge? Software companies and industrial firms might both try to shift the balance by controlling the interfaces between software and machines: if OpenXC can demonstrate that it’s a better way to interact with Ford cars than any other interface, Ford will retain an advantage.

As physical things get networked and instrumented, software can make up a larger proportion of their value. I’m not sure exactly where that balance will arise, but I have a hard time believing in complete commoditization of the machines beneath the software.

See our free research report on the industrial internet for an overview of the ways that software and machines are coming together.

April 01 2013

Four short links: 29 March 2013

  1. Titan 0.3 Out — graph database now has full-text, geo, and numeric-range index backends.
  2. Mozilla Security Community Do a Reddit AMA — if you wanted a list of sharp web security people to follow on Twitter, you could do a lot worse than this.
  3. Probabilistic Programming and Bayesian Methods for Hackers (Github) — An introduction to Bayesian methods + probabilistic programming in data analysis with a computation/understanding-first, mathematics-second point of view. All in pure Python. See also Why Probabilistic Programming Matters and Trends to Watch: Logic and Probabilistic Programming. (via Mike Loukides and Renee DiRestra)
  4. Open Source 3D-Printable Optics Equipment (PLOSone) — This study demonstrates an open-source optical library, which significantly reduces the costs associated with much optical equipment, while also enabling relatively easily adapted customizable designs. The cost reductions in general are over 97%, with some components representing only 1% of the current commercial investment for optical products of similar function. The results of this study make its clear that this method of scientific hardware development enables a much broader audience to participate in optical experimentation both as research and teaching platforms than previous proprietary methods.

January 07 2013

Four short links: 7 January 2012

  1. DroneNet: How to Build It (John Robb) — It’s possible to break the FAA’s “line of sight” rules regarding drones right now and get away with it to enable fast decentralized growth. This strategy works. e.g. PayPal flagrantly broke banking laws and regulations in order to out-compete a field of competitors that decided to follow the law. (via Daniel Bachhuber)
  2. How to Make a BOM (Bunnie Huang) — yet more very useful howto information for people looking into Chinese (or other) manufacturing.
  3. JuniorA front-end framework for building HTML5 mobile apps with a native look and feel.
  4. LulzBot — robust 3D printer, with full specs for making your own. (via BoingBoing)

December 31 2012

Four short links: 31 December 2012

  1. Wireless Substitution (BoingBoing, CDC) — very nice graph showing the decline in landlines/growth in wireless.
  2. Maker’s RowOur mission is to make the manufacturing process simple to understand and easy to access. From large corporations to first time designers, we are providing unparalleled access to industry-specific factories and suppliers across the United States.
  3. mySight (GitHub) — myspectral.com Spectruino analyzer for light spectra in UV/VIS/NIR.
  4. State of the World (Bruce Sterling, John Lebkowsky) — always a delight. Come 2013, I think it’s time for people in and around the “music industry” to stop blaming themselves, and thinking their situation is somehow special. Whatever happens to musicians will eventually happen to everybody. Nobody was or is really much better at “digital transition” than musicians were and are. If you’re superb at digitalization, that’s no great solution either. You just have to auto-disrupt and re-invent yourself over and over and over again.

December 18 2012

Four short links: 18 December 2012

  1. Credibility Ranking of Tweets During High Impact Events (PDF) — interesting research. Situational awareness information is information that leads to gain in the knowledge or update about details of the event, like the location, people aff*ected, causes, etc. We found that on average, 30% content about an event, provides situational awareness information about the event, while 14% was spam. (via BoingBoing)
  2. The Commodore 64 — interesting that Chuck Peddle (who designed the 6502) and Bob Yannes (who designed the SID chip) are still alive. This article safely qualifies as Far More Than You Ever Thought You Wanted To Know About The C64 but it is fascinating. The BASIC housed in its ROM (“BASIC 2.0″) was painfully antiquated. It was actually the same BASIC that Tramiel had bought from Microsoft for the original PET back in 1977. Bill Gates, in a rare display of naivete, sold him the software outright for a flat fee of $10,000, figuring Commodore would have to come back soon for another, better version. He obviously didn’t know Jack Tramiel very well. Ironically, Commodore did have on hand a better BASIC 4.0 they had used in some of the later PET models, but Tramiel nixed using it in the Commodore 64 because it would require a more expensive 16 K rather than 8 K of ROM chips to house.
  3. The Performance Calendar — an article each day about speed. (via Steve Souders)
  4. Mr China Comes to America (The Atlantic) — long piece on the return of manufacturing to America, featuring Foo camper Liam Casey.

December 05 2012

Four short links: 5 December 2012

  1. The Benefits of Poetry for Professionals (HBR) — Harman Industries founder Sidney Harman once told The New York Times, “I used to tell my senior staff to get me poets as managers. Poets are our original systems thinkers. They look at our most complex environments and they reduce the complexity to something they begin to understand.”
  2. First Few Milliseconds of an HTTPS Connection — far more than you ever wanted to know about how HTTPS connections are initiated.
  3. Google Earth EngineDevelop, access and run algorithms on the full Earth Engine data archive, all using Google’s parallel processing platform. (via Nelson Minar)
  4. 3D Printing Popup Store Opens in NYC (Makezine Blog) — MAKE has partnered with 3DEA, a pop up 3D printing emporium in New York City’s fashion district. The store will sell printers and 3D printed objects as well as offer a lineup of classes, workshops, and presentations from the likes of jewelry maker Kevin Wei, 3D printing artist Josh Harker, and Shapeways’ Duann Scott. This. is. awesome!

December 03 2012

Four short links: 3 December 2012

  1. Manufacturing Returning to USA (The Atlantic) — because energy and wages. Oil makes shipping pricey, while “booming” US natural gas helps domestic manufacturing. Wages rising in China, dropping in America.
  2. The Android Engagement Mystery (Luke Wroblewski) — despite massively greater sales, Android users do less with their devices. Why?
  3. What’s Coming in 3D Printers (Wired) — enormous printers, printers that use sand to help with metal molding, and more.
  4. Drone Crashes Mount at Civilian Airports Overseas (Washington Post) — The drone crashed at a civilian airport that serves a half-million passengers a year, most of them sun-seeking tourists. No one was hurt, but it was the second Reaper accident in five months — under eerily similar circumstances.

October 31 2012

October 30 2012

Four short links: 30 October 2012

  1. Fastly’s S3 Latency MonitorThe graph represents real-time response latency for Amazon S3 as seen by Fastly’s Ashburn, VA edge server. I’ve been watching #sandy’s effect on the Internet in real-time, while listening to its effect on people in real-time. Amazing.
  2. Button Upgrade (Gizmodo) — elegant piece of button design, for sale on Shapeways.
  3. Inside a Dozen USB Chargers — amazing differences in such seemingly identical products. I love the comparison between genuine and counterfeit Apple chargers. (via Hacker News)
  4. Why Products Fail (Wired) — researcher scours the stock market filings of publicly-listed companies to extract information about warranties. Before, even information like the size of the market—how much gets paid out each year in warranty claims—was a mystery. Nobody, not analysts, not the government, not the companies themselves, knew what it was. Now Arnum can tell you. In 2011, for example, basic warranties cost US manufacturers $24.7 billion. Because of the slow economy, this is actually down, Arnum says; in 2007 it was around $28 billion. Extended warranties—warranties that customers purchase from a manufacturer or a retailer like Best Buy—account for an estimated $30.2 billion in additional claims payments. Before Arnum, this $60 billion-a-year industry was virtually invisible. Another hidden economy revealed. (via BoingBoing)

October 29 2012

Four short links: 29 October 2012

  1. Inside BJ Fogg’s Behavior Design Bootcamp — see also Day 2 and Day 3.
  2. Recollect — archive your social media existence. Very easy to use and I wish I’d been using it longer. (via Tom Cotes)
  3. Duplicating House Keys on a 3D Printer — never did a title say so precisely what the post was about. (via Jim Stogdill)
  4. Teleduplication via Optical Decoding (PDF) — duplicating a key via a photograph.

October 19 2012

Four short links: 19 October 2012

  1. Home-made 3D-Printed Drones — if only they used computer-vision to sequence DNA, they’d be the perfect storm of O’Reilly memes :-)
  2. Hacking Pacemakers For DeathIOActive researcher Barnaby Jack has reverse-engineered a pacemaker transmitter to make it possible to deliver deadly electric shocks to pacemakers within 30 feet and rewrite their firmware.
  3. Google N-Gram Viewer Updated — now with more books, better OCR, parts of speech, and complex queries. e.g., the declining ratio of sex to drugs. Awesome work by Friend of O’Reilly, Jon Orwant.
  4. Deanonymizing Mobility Traces: Using Social Networks as a Side-Channela set of location traces can be deanonymized given an easily obtained social network graph. [...] Our experiments [on standard datasets] show that 80% of users are identified precisely, while only 8% are identified incorrectly, with the remainder mapped to a small set of users. (via Network World)

October 02 2012

Four short links: 2 October 2012

  1. Print Your Own 3D Parts (Wired) — Teenage Engineering, makers of a popular synthesizer known as the OP-1, posted the 3-D design files of various components on digital object repository Shapeways, and is instructing 3-D printer-equipped users to print them out instead of buying them.
  2. Legacy Media Demanding Surveillance In ISPsmusic rights groups including the Recording Industry Association of Japan say they have developed a system capable of automatically detecting unauthorized music uploads before they even hit the Internet. But to do that they need to be able to spy on Internet users’ connections and compare data being transferred with digital fingerprints held in an external database. That can only be achieved with the assistance of Internet service providers who would be asked to integrate the system deeply into their networks. It’s Japan for now …
  3. Sensors for Industrial Espionage (NPR) — Genscape also places electromagnetic monitors beneath the power lines running into the Cushing tank farms to measure their power usage. This gives them an idea of how much oil is being pumped into and out of Cushing.
  4. TypeScript — Apache2 licensed typed superset of JavaScript that compiles to plain JavaScript.

September 24 2012

Four short links: 25 September 2012

  1. Stewart Brand Interview (Wired) — full of interesting tidbits. This line from the interviewer, Kevin Kelly, resonated: One other trajectory I have noticed about the past 20 years: Excitement about the future has waned. The future is deflating. It is simply not as desirable as it once was. (via Matt Jones)
  2. Commercial Use of Small Drones Still Without RegulationsFAA officials have also been working for the past five years on regulations to allow commercial use of small drones, which are generally defined as weighing less than 55-pounds and flying at altitudes under 4,000 feet. The agency has drafted regulations that were initially expected to be published late last year, but have been repeatedly delayed. Five years. That’s as long as the iPhone has existed. Just sayin’. (via Jim Stogdill)
  3. Multicore World 2013 — conference just for multicore. Check out the last conference’s program for what to expect. No word on whether it’ll have parallel sessions, ho ho ho.
  4. Turning a Shipping Container into a 3D Printer — a walk-in printer. AWESOME.

September 11 2012

Four short links: 11 September 2012

  1. Liz Neely Talks 3D Digitisation, 3D Printing (Seb Chan) — On July 19th, Tom and Mike Moceri arrived at the Art Institute dock in a shiny black SUV with a BATMAN license plate and a trunk packed with a couple Makerbots. Our event was different from #Met3D in that we focused on allowing staff to experience 3D scanning and printing first hand. We began the day using iPads and 123D Catch to scan artworks. In the afternoon, the two Makerbots started printing in our Ryan Education Center and Mike demonstrated modelling techniques, including some examples using a Microsoft Kinect.
  2. Keys to a Fast Web App (Steve Souders) — I’m obsessed with caching. It’s the biggest missed opportunity and so I’m going to spend the next few months focused on caching. Analyzing caching is difficult. In the lab it’s hard (and time consuming) to test filling and clearing the cache. There’s no caching API that makes it easy to manipulate and measure.
  3. So Many Devices (Luke Wroblewski) — so many different screen sizes and pixel densities to worry about.
  4. 3D-Printed Tools in the DeRisi Lab“There’s hardly a microscope in our building that does not have some 3D-printed part on it.” —Joseph DeRisi, UCSF.
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