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December 02 2013

Four short links: 2 December 2013

  1. CalTech Machine Learning Video Library — a pile of video introductions to different machine learning concepts.
  2. Awesome Pokemon Hack — each inventory item has a number associated with it, they are kept at a particular memory location, and there’s a glitch in the game that executes code at that location so … you can program by assembling items and then triggering the glitch. SO COOL.
  3. Drone Footage of Bangkok Protests — including water cannons.
  4. The Mature Optimization Handbook — free, well thought out, and well written. My favourite line: In exchange for that saved space, you have created a hidden dependency on clairvoyance.

October 25 2013

Four short links: 25 October 2013

  1. Seagate Kinetic Storage — In the words of Geoff Arnold: The physical interconnect to the disk drive is now Ethernet. The interface is a simple key-value object oriented access scheme, implemented using Google Protocol Buffers. It supports key-based CRUD (create, read, update and delete); it also implements third-party transfers (“transfer the objects with keys X, Y and Z to the drive with IP address 1.2.3.4”). Configuration is based on DHCP, and everything can be authenticated and encrypted. The system supports a variety of key schemas to make it easy for various storage services to shard the data across multiple drives.
  2. Masters of Their Universe (Guardian) — well-written and fascinating story of the creation of the Elite game (one founder of which went on to make the Raspberry Pi). The classic action game of the early 1980s – Defender, Pac Man – was set in a perpetual present tense, a sort of arcade Eden in which there were always enemies to zap or gobble, but nothing ever changed apart from the score. By letting the player tool up with better guns, Bell and Braben were introducing a whole new dimension, the dimension of time.
  3. Micropolar (github) — A tiny polar charts library made with D3.js.
  4. Introduction to R (YouTube) — 21 short videos from Google.

October 10 2013

Four short links: 10 October 2013

  1. ActiveLit — interactive fiction as literacy tool. (via Text Adventures blog)
  2. Your Car is About to go Open Source (ComputerWorld) — an open-source IVI operating system would create a reusable platform consisting of core services, middleware and open application layer interfaces that eliminate the redundant efforts to create separate proprietary systems. Leaving them to differentiate the traditional way: ad-retargeting and spyware.
  3. The Digital Networked Textbook: Is It Any Good? (Dan Meyer) — “if you were hundreds of feet below the surface of the Earth, in a concrete bunker without any kind of Internet access, is the curriculum any different?”
  4. Full Screen Mario — web reimplementation of original Mario Brothers, with random level generator and a level editor, source on github. (via Andy Baio)

July 05 2013

Four short links: 5 July 2013

  1. Quantitative Analysis of the Full Bitcoin Transaction Graph (PDF) — We analyzed all these large transactions by following in detail the way these sums were accumulated and the way they were dispersed, and realized that almost all these large transactions were descendants of a single transaction which was carried out in November 2010. Finally, we noted that the subgraph which contains these large transactions along with their neighborhood has many strange looking structures which could be an attempt to conceal the existence and relationship between these transactions, but such an attempt can be foiled by following the money trail in a su*ciently persistent way. (via Alex Dong)
  2. Majority of Gamers Today Can’t Finish Level 1 of Super Mario Bros — Nintendo test, and the President of Nintendo said in a talk, We watched the replay videos of how the gamers performed and saw that many did not understand simple concepts like bottomless pits. Around 70 percent died to the first Goomba. Another 50 percent died twice. Many thought the coins were enemies and tried to avoid them. Also, most of them did not use the run button. There were many other depressing things we noted but I can not remember them at the moment. (via Beta Knowledge)
  3. Bloat-Aware Design for Big Data Applications (PDF) — (1) merging and organizing related small data record objects into few large objects (e.g., byte buffers) instead of representing them explicitly as one-object-per-record, and (2) manipulating data by directly accessing buffers (e.g., at the byte chunk level as opposed to the object level). The central goal of this design paradigm is to bound the number of objects in the application, instead of making it grow proportionally with the cardinality of the input data. (via Ben Lorica)
  4. Poderopedia (Github) — originally designed for investigative journalists, the open src software allows you to create and manage entity profile pages that include: short bio or summary, sheet of connections, long newsworthy profiles, maps of connections of an entity, documents related to the entity, sources of all the information and news river with external news about the entity. See the announcement and website.

May 23 2013

Four short links: 23 May 2013

  1. Kindle Worlds Fine Print — Amazon’s fanfic publishing system has a few flaws: no pr0n, no slash (crossovers), and Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright. I can’t see this attracting pinboard’s most passionate users.
  2. XBox One Won’t Allow Indies to Self-Publish GamesWhen it comes to self-publishing, Microsoft is the odd man out. Both Sony and Nintendo allow developers to publish their own games onto PlayStation Network and Nintendo Network, respectively. Microsoft’s position stands in stark contrast to Sony, which has been aggressively pursuing indie content for PS4. (via Andy Baio)
  3. 3D Printers for Peace Competition (Michigan Tech) — We are challenging the 3D printing community to design things that advance the cause of peace. This is an open-ended contest, but if you’d like some ideas, ask yourself what Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, or Ghandi would make if they’d had access to 3D printing. (via BoingBoing)
  4. covimCollaborative editing for vim. My dream of massively multiplayer troff can finally be realised.

November 26 2012

Four short links: 26 November 2012

  1. High Levels of Burnout in US Drone Pilots (NPR) — 17 percent of active duty drone pilots surveyed are thought to be “clinically distressed.” The Air Force says this means the pilots’ stress level has crossed a threshold where it’s now affecting the pilots’ work and family. A large majority of the pilots said they’re not getting any counseling for their stress. (via Beta Knowledge)
  2. The Internet of Middle-Class Things (Russell Davies) — my mind keeps returning to this: you know, commercially, that a technology has succeeded when it’s used for inane middle-class tasks.
  3. First Draft of the Revolution (Liza Daly) — interactive fiction, playable on the web and as epub book. Very nice use of the technology!
  4. Minecraft for Raspberry Pi — see also Minecraft augmented reality for iOS. Minecraft is Lego for kids, and it can be a gateway drug to coding.

May 25 2012

Top Stories: May 21-25, 2012

Here's a look at the top stories published across O'Reilly sites this week.

White House launches new digital government strategy
The nation's new strategy for digital government is built on data, shared services, citizen-centrism, and consistent methodologies for privacy and security.

Quantified me
Jim Stogdill is trying to walk the line between obsessive tracking and an open-ended approach to motivation.

A gaming revolution, minus the hype
"Playful Design" author John Ferrara discusses gaming's place in cultural transformation, and he offers five universal principles of good game design.

What do mHealth, eHealth and behavioral science mean for the future of healthcare?
Dr. Audie Atienza says we're just at the beginning of discovering how to best develop and utilize mobile technology to improve the health of individuals and the public.

Social reading should focus on common interests rather than friend status
In this TOC podcast, ReadSocial co-founder Travis Alber discusses her company's focus on building their platform without tying it to your social graph.


Velocity 2012: Web Operations & Performance — The smartest minds in web operations and performance are coming together for the Velocity Conference, being held June 25-27 in Santa Clara, Calif. Save 20% on registration with the code RADAR20.

White House photo: white house by dcJohn, on Flickr

April 06 2012

Developer Week in Review: When giant corporations collide

The days of the April Fools' web joke are over, or should be. It's gotten too old, to institutionalized, and it's so widespread these days that serious news can slip through the cracks because everyone assumes it's a joke. If people want to pull hoaxes, pick a random day in the middle of the summer and do it then; you'll get much more bang for the buck because no one will be expecting it. I used to like a good fake article as much as the rest, back in the days when they would be buried somewhere in the pages of a magazine's April edition, but now it's just lame. Be assured, all the items in this edition of Developer Week in Review are 100% prank-free and were supervised by the American Humane Association.

Gentlemen, start your lawyers!

Like a large radioactive reptile, the lawsuit between Oracle and Google over the improper use of Java has been sleeping quietly in a courtroom in San Jose. But now, the slumbering monster is about to awake, potentially leaving a trail of broken companies scattered from California to Asia. After all attempts to broker a settlement between Larry's House of Java and the People's Autonomous Car and Search Engine Company failed, the judge involved has ordered the two parties to start sharpening their long-knives, in an unusually candid opinion.

It's hard to overestimate the potential impact that a ruling against Google could have on the smartphone industry. If Google was required to remove Java from Android phones, Android would essentially become useless because the entire stack that Android apps use is built on top of Java. More likely, Google would be required to shell out a significant license fee to Oracle, which added to the ones it already pays to Microsoft and (potentially) Apple, could make Android phones less and less profitable to the handset makers who actually end up paying the fees. Of course, given the glacial pace at which these proceedings move, Android may have already moved on by the time any such judgement actually comes down ...

Linux has a friend in ... Redmond?

In the past few weeks, we've made several references to Microsoft's increasing support of the open source model, and this week brought even more evidence of the sea change out of Washington state. For a technology that Steve Ballmer once described as akin to cancer, Linux is certainly getting a lot of love from Microsoft these days. The software behemoth is now in the top 20 corporate contributors to the Linux Kernel, committing more than 1% of all new lines of code last year.

It is worth bearing in mind that most of that code is in support of Microsoft technologies, such as Hyper-V, but even still, it's clear that Microsoft doesn't treat Linux like an ill-behaved street urchin anymore.

The art of game cheats

I'm not much (if anything) of a game programmer; I've always gravitated more to the web side of the force. But I certainly play my share of games. I'm currently racing my 17 year old to level 80 on "Call of Duty MW3" on the Wii (I'm [MLP]TwilightSparkle if you want to ally with a mediocre player who likes Akimbo FMG9 a bit too much for his own good ...). If you play enough multiplayer, you'll eventually come to recognize the players who have an almost psychic knowledge of where everyone is. They're the ones who always seem to come around the corner already sighted in on you. You know, the cheaters ...

Now, one game developer has stepped forward to explain some of the hacks that cheats use to become Chuck Norris clones and how they are implemented. Even if you are never going to get within 1,000 yards of a z-buffer, it's worth reading to see just how easily games can be tweaked to give unethical players an unbeatable edge.

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March 28 2012

The Reading Glove engages senses and objects to tell a story

I encountered Karen Tanenbaum (@ktanenbaum) through friends over on the Make side of O'Reilly Media. Thinking she might be a potential speaker for an upcoming edition of our Tools of Change for Publishing Conference, I contacted her for more information about the cool stuff she's working on, particularly her Reading Glove project.

"The Reading Glove is a collaboration between myself and my husband, Josh Tanenbaum," said Karen. "I have an interest in adaptive and intelligent systems, his research looks at storytelling and video games, and we both like to explore alternative interfaces: tangible, wearable, and ubiquitous computing environments."

Read more about the Glove project as well as Karen's take on design education, Steampunk culture and the Maker movement in the interview below.

How did the Reading Glove come about and what are your goals for the project?

Karen Tanenbaum: We wanted to see what happened when we gave people a story that was embedded on real, physical objects that could be played with and moved around. Our original vision was an entire room that told a story when you explored it, responding to objects you touched or moved via light and sound responses — sort of like a haunted house, but intended to tell a specific narrative rather than just be spooky. That was outside the scope and the budget of our dissertation work, so the Reading Glove was our first, more constrained exploration of that space.

Recommender, objects, and glove
Recommender, objects, and glove.

We also wanted to explore wearable technology with the glove; the goal there was to invoke the idea of "psychometry," or the psychic power of object reading. When you pick up the objects, you hear the echoes of the past, what these objects experienced, and then you use this power to piece the story back together. I developed a guidance system that helped to navigate the non-linear narrative, adding an adaptive or intelligent component to the experience. We've gotten some really interesting results out of it, such as how people talk about a system that has intelligent components, how much they anthropomorphize it and how accurate their estimates of its "intelligence" are.

What role does data play in the project?

Karen Tanenbaum: We collected a ton of data for this project, and I've spent the last year trying to sort through it and make sense of it. It's a real challenge with these kinds of novel systems to figure out what the most important thing is and to see how to correlate all these things together: how many objects they picked up, in what sequence, whether they interrupted pieces, whether or not they followed the system's recommendations, etc.

The focus of my analysis was on how people talked about the system and their use of it, particularly the notion of "control" and "choice." People would say that they really liked the freedom to choose any object and control how the story went, but would also say that since they never knew what story fragment they were going to get when they picked an object, they wished they had more control. It's interesting how people use technology and feel like they are, or are not, in control of it.

There's a problem with any simple measure of novel technology, which is that people in general tend to respond positively toward something new, especially if they know they are talking to the person who designed and built it. It's hard to ask someone "Did you like X?" when X is a new experience, like wearing a glove and picking up objects to hear a story. Of course, they're going to say "yes" because they don't have much to compare it to and because it is a fun thing to do. But there are innumerable design decisions that go into the whole experience, and it's hard to disentangle them to see where a different choice might have led to a better experience. That's why I think richer, more qualitative data is important to the field. It gets you beyond "I liked it, I thought it was easy to use, etc.," and you see what aspects of the experience people are really responding to, or what was actually frustrating them but which they didn't mention in the yes/no survey questions.

Reading Glove diagram
Reading Glove data diagram.

As well as being a PhD candidate, you teach interaction design at the university level. What trends are you seeing in design and technology education?

Karen Tanenbaum: I've taught interaction design at an art and design school and within a research university, and they are very different experiences. The art and design students were much more wary of the technology, but they had great intuition on how to use it to express their points of view. The students at the big university were more naturally technology-seeking, but they had to be pushed to really explore what it meant to say something with the technology. You really want the blend of both of those things: the technological expertise and the desire and ability to express something via technology rather than simply use it. I teach Processing to as many people as I can — basic coding is an incredibly beneficial skill for people in all fields to learn. There are tools to help simplify and automate a lot of the routines of everyone's work if you know how to write some basic code or search string parameters.

The other side of the coin, which I've had less opportunity to teach directly, is developing a critical stance toward technology. Programming and technical skills are really important, but so are critical thinking and reflective analysis. I don't believe technology is a neutral force; it is embedded and intertwined with a host of other cultural and societal forces, and we have both the ability and mandate to try to shape technical systems that are socially and ethically responsible. It's hard to teach both detailed technical expertise and deep critical thinking at the same time, and it seems that most schools end up focusing on one to the detriment of the other.

How is technology changing the experience of art and reading?

Karen Tanenbaum: Despite making a wearable device called the Reading Glove, most of my reading processes are stuck firmly in the last century. The power of technology as applied to art and reading is the connectivity that it can bring about. You can connect to what other people think about the work or you can see related pieces that might lead you to new discoveries. The interesting thing would be to bring that connectivity to the physical books, not to make the books themselves digital.

What other projects are you working on?

Karen Tanenbaum: As I finish the dissertation, I’m also doing a year-long internship at Intel Lab's Interaction and Experience Research Group, which is providing me with a fantastic opportunity to pursue some of the research work I've done since the Reading Glove.

My first project at Intel was to coordinate an exhibition of design fiction work called "Powered by Fiction," which ran alongside Emerge, a conference at Arizona State University on designing the future. We explored how fiction inspires the creation of physical, tangible props, costumes, and artifacts. One of the characters in the show "Captain Chronomek" was developed by me, my husband, and a colleague. The character is a time-traveling, Steampunk-flavored superhero.

The other related project that I've got going is an academic look at the subculture of Steampunk, picking apart what's driving its increased popularity. I'm a co-author on a paper on Steampunk at CHI this year. That paper looks at some of the implications of the Steampunk movement: the way it re-imagines the Industrial Revolution, the historical story of technology development, and the drive toward customization and artisan craftsmanship in technology.

And finally, I am now working on Intel's presence at Maker Faire. I had a booth at the Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year with my husband to represent our fledging production company, Tanenbaum Fabrications. We're putting together a joint booth with some other folks at the Bay Area Maker Faire this year called Steampunk Academy. As with the Steampunk work, there's something really interesting going on with the democratization of technology design and production that is represented in the Maker movement.

I'm hoping to spend time in the next year working more with the LilyPad Arduino and other e-textile and soft circuitry components since I think that's a really exciting area for open source, tinker-y innovation.

Who inspires you? Whose work do you follow?

Karen Tanenbaum: I'm most inspired by the people doing the kind of work I was talking about above in the question about education: critical thinking on technology and the fusing of philosophy with technology design practice. Material like Terry Winograd and Fernando Flores' classic and incisive critique of artificial intelligence work in the mid '80s, and Paul Dourish's work merging Heideggerian philosophy with tangible computing and his collaboration with Genevieve Bell on science fiction and ubiquitous computing. I'm also influenced by all of Daniel Fallman's papers on what interaction design and design research is or could be. I'm also really enamored with some of the more recent work being done in merging "craft" and "design": Leah Buechely's Lilypad Arduino and High-Low Tech Lab at MIT, Daniela Rosner's work applying craft knowledge from antiquarian book restoration and knitting to technology design, and Hannah Perner-Wilson's amazing and beautiful textile sensors.

Watch a demonstration of the Reading Glove:

This interview was edited and condensed. Photos: Team Tanenbaum, on Flickr.

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January 26 2012

January 20 2012

Developer Week in Review: Early thoughts on iBooks Author

One down, two to go, Patriots-wise. Thankfully, this week's game is on Sunday, so it doesn't conflict with my son's 17th birthday on Saturday. They grow up so quickly; I can remember him playing with his Comfy Keyboard, now he's writing C code for robots.

A few thoughts on iBooks Author and Apple's textbook move

iBooks AuthorThursday's Apple announcement of Apple's new iBooks Author package isn't developer news per se, but I thought I'd drop in a few initial thoughts before jumping into the meat of the WIR because it will have an impact on the community in several ways.

Most directly, it is another insidious lock-in that Apple is wrapping inside a candy-covered package. Since iBooks produced with the tool can only be viewed in full on iOS devices, textbooks and other material produced with iBooks Author will not be available (at least in the snazzy new interactive form) on Kindles or other ereaders. If Apple wanted to play fair, it should make the new iBooks format an open standard. Of course, this would cut Apple out of its cut of the royalties as well as yielding the all-important control of the user experience that Steve Jobs installed as a core value in the company.

On a different level, this could radically change the textbook and publishing industry. It will make it easier to keep textbooks up to date and start to loosen the least-common-denominator stranglehold that huge school districts have on the textbook creation process. On the other hand, I can see a day when pressure from interest groups results in nine different textbooks being used in the same class, one of which ignores evolution, one of which emphasizes the role of Antarctic-Americans in U.S. history, etc.

It's also another step in the disintermediation of publishing since the cost of getting your book out to the world just dropped to zero (not counting proofreading, indexing, editing, marketing, and all the other nice things a traditional publisher does for a writer). I wonder if Apple is going to enforce the same puritanical standards on iBooks as they do on apps. What are they going to do when someone submits a My Little Pony / Silent Hill crossover fanfic as an iBook?

Another item off my bucket list

I've been to Australia. I've had an animal cover book published. And now I've been called a moron (collectively) by Richard Stallman.

The occasion was the previously mentioned panel on the legacy of Steve Jobs, on which I participated this previous weekend. As could have been expected, Stallman started in describing Jobs as someone who the world would have been better off without. He spent the rest of the hour defending the position that it doesn't matter how unusable the free alternative to a proprietary platform is, only that it's free. When we disagreed, he shouted us down as "morons."

As I've mentioned before, that position makes a few invalid assumptions. One is that people's lives will be better if they use a crappy free software package over well-polished commercial products. In reality, the perils of commercial software that Stallman demonizes so consistently are largely hypothetical, whereas the usability issues of most consumer-facing free software are very real. For the 99.999% of people who aren't software professionals, the important factor is whether the darn thing works, not if they can swap out an internal module.

The other false premise at play here is that companies are Snidely Whiplash wanna-bes that go out of their way to oppress the masses. Stallman, to his credit as a savvy propagandist, has co-opted the slogans of the Occupy Wall Street movement, referring to the 1% frequently. The reality is that when companies try to pull shady stunts, especially in the software industry, they usually get caught and have to face the music. Remember the furor over Apple's allegedly accidental recording of location data on the iPhone? Stallman's dystopian future, where corporations use proprietary platforms as a tool of subjugation, has pretty much failed every time it's actually been tried on the ground. I'm not saying corporations are angels, or even that they have the consumer's best interests in mind, it's just that they aren't run by demonic beings that eat babies and plot the enslavement of humanity.

Achievement unlocked: Erased user's hard drive

Sometimes life as a software engineer may seem like a game, but Microsoft evidently wants to turn it into a real one. The company has announced a new plug-in for Visual Studio that lets you earn achievements for coding practices and other developer-related activities.

Most of them are tongue in cheek, but I'm terrified that we may start seeing these achievements in live production code as developers compete to earn them all. Among the more fear-inspiring:

  • "Write 20 single letter class-level variables in one file. Kudos to you for being cryptic!"
  • "Write a single line of 300 characters long. Who needs carriage returns?"
  • "More than 10 overloads of a method. You could go with this or you could go with that."
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November 11 2011

Top Stories: November 7-11, 2011

Here's a look at the top stories published across O'Reilly sites this week.

Thoughts on ebooks
Tim O'Reilly: "Our original ebook vision was of a world in which ebooks would be published in standard formats and could be read on any device, and where dominance of a particular piece of software or a particular e-reading device would not lock people in."


Confessions of a not-so-public speaker
Stepping out of our comfort zones and into the spotlight at events (and encouraging others to do likewise) can help address the perception that the tech community is solely populated by young white guys.

Social network analysis isn't just for social networks
The scientific methodology of social network analysis (SNA) helps explain not just how people connect, but why they come together as well. Here, "Social Network Analysis for Startups" co-author Maksim Tsvetovat offers a primer on SNA.

Access or ownership: Which will be the default?
Business, media, publishing, data, education — these are all areas where access versus ownership has organically popped up in Radar's coverage. But which model will win out in the long term?

Three game characteristics that can be applied to education
Cloud technologies and thoughtful roadmapping of digital technology can ensure that authenticity, social interaction, and play remain central components of education.


Tools of Change for Publishing, being held February 13-15 in New York, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Register to attend TOC 2012.

August 11 2011

Four short links: 11 August 2011

  1. Why Restaurant Web Sites Are So Bad -- The rest of the Web long ago did away with auto-playing music, Flash buttons and menus, and elaborate intro pages, but restaurant sites seem stuck in 1999.
  2. North Korean Government Partly Funded by Gold Farming (Gamasutra) -- alleges a special group of hackers built automation software for MMOs and sent part of their profits back home.
  3. Pleasanton Protects Bicyclists with Microwave (Mercury News) -- no, not by pre-emptive cooking. The device monitors the intersection and can differentiate between vehicles and bicyclists crossing the road and either extends or triggers the light if a cyclist is detected.
  4. jStat -- a Javascript statistical library.

June 03 2011

Four short links: 3 June 2011

  1. Silk Road (Gawker) -- Tor-delivered "web" site that is like an eBay for drugs, currency is Bitcoins. Jeff Garzik, a member of the Bitcoin core development team, says in an email that bitcoin is not as anonymous as the denizens of Silk Road would like to believe. He explains that because all Bitcoin transactions are recorded in a public log, though the identities of all the parties are anonymous, law enforcement could use sophisticated network analysis techniques to parse the transaction flow and track down individual Bitcoin users. "Attempting major illicit transactions with bitcoin, given existing statistical analysis techniques deployed in the field by law enforcement, is pretty damned dumb," he says. The site is viewable here, and here's a discussion of delivering hidden web sites with Tor. (via Nelson Minar)
  2. Dr Waller -- a big game using DC Comics characters where players end up crowdsourcing science on GalaxyZoo. A nice variant on the captcha/ESP-style game that Luis von Ahn is known for. (via BoingBoing)
  3. Machine Learning Demos -- hypnotically beautiful. Code for download.
  4. Esper -- stream event processing engine, GPLv2-licensed Java. (via Stream Event Processing with Esper and Edd Dumbill)

Reposted bydatenwolf datenwolf

May 26 2011

Four short links: 26 May 2011

  1. Draft Horses Bring Fibre to Remote Locations -- I love the conjunction of old and new, as draft horses prove the best way to lay fibre in remote Vermont. (via David Isenberg)
  2. Chinese Political Prisoners Gold-Farming (Guardian) -- "Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour," Liu told the Guardian. "There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn't see any of the money. The computers were never turned off."
  3. Correlate -- Google Correlate finds search patterns which correspond with real-world trends. You upload your time series or geographic data, they find search terms that correlate. Very cool!
  4. McKinsey Internet Matters Report (PDF, free registration required) -- Internet responsible for 3.4% of GDP in the countries they studied, 21% of GDP growth in last 5 years in mature countries, 2.6 jobs created for every one lost, and 75% of the Internet's impact arises from traditional industries. Lots more like this in here. The United States captures more than 30 percent of global internet revenues and more than 40 percent of net income.

April 28 2011

November 25 2010

Four short links: 25 November 2010

  1. A Day in the Life of Twitter (Chris McDowall) -- all geo-tagged tweets from 24h of the Twitter firehose, displayed. Interesting things can be seen, such as Jakarta glowing as brightly as San Francisco. (via Chris's sciblogs post)
  2. British Library Release 3M Open Bibliographic Records) (OKFN) -- This dataset consists of the entire British National Bibliography, describing new books published in the UK since 1950; this represents about 20% of the total BL catalogue, and we are working to add further releases.
  3. Gadgets for Babies (NY Times) -- cry decoders, algorithmically enhanced rocking chairs, and (my favourite) "voice-activated crib light with womb sounds". I can't wait until babies can make womb sound playlists and share them on Twitter.
  4. GP2X Caanoo MAME/Console Emulator (ThinkGeek) -- perfect Christmas present for, well, me. Emulates classic arcade machines and microcomputers, including my nostalgia fetish object, the Commodore 64. (via BoingBoing's Gift Guide)

October 07 2010

Four short links: 7 October 2010

  1. How to Manage Employees When They Make Mistakes -- sound advice on how to deal with employees who failed to meet expectations. Yet again, good parenting can make you a good adult. It’s strange to me that in the technology sector we have such a reputation for yellers. Maybe it’s business in general and not just tech. [...] People stay at companies with leaders who rule like Mussolini because they want to be part of something super successful. But it does tend to breed organizations of people who walk around like beaten dogs with their heads down waiting to be kicked. It produces sycophants and group think. And if your company ever “slips” people head STRAIGHT for the door as they did at Siebel. I’d love to see a new generation of tech companies that don’t rule through fear. (via Hacker News)
  2. Information Wants to be Paid (Pete Warden) -- I want to know where I stand relative to the business model of any company I depend on. If API access and the third-party ecosystem makes them money, then I feel a lot more comfortable that I'll retain access over the long term. So true. It's not that platform companies are evil, it's just that they're a business too. They're interested in their survival first and yours second. To expect anything else is to be naive and to set yourself up for failure. As Pete says, it makes sense to have them financially invested in continuing to provide for you. It's not a cure-all, but it's a damn sight better than "build on this so we can gain traction and some idea of a business model". Yet again, Warden reads my mind and saves me the trouble of finding the right words to write.
  3. 0Boxer -- Chrome and Safari extensions to turn gmail into a game. (via waxy)
  4. Twitter's New Search Architecture (Twitter Engineering Blog) -- notable for two things: they're contributing patches back to the open source text search library Lucene, and they name the individual engineers who worked on the project. Very classy, human, and canny. (via straup on Delicious)

July 29 2010

Which Social Gaming companies are Hiring

Disney's announced purchase of Mountain View gaming startup Playdom, follows on the heels of EA's purchase of London-based Playfish last November. Based on active users Zynga remains by far the biggest online social gaming company, but what other independent companies are growing?


To see which companies are expanding, I used our data warehouse of online job postings1 to detect recent hiring2. Zynga and Playdom put out the most job postings over the last three months, with (Redwood City startup) Watercooler finishing a distant third3:



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While I focused on online social gaming companies, I checked to see which companies were showing interest in games for smartphones, and found not too many were mentioning the iPhone or Android platforms on their job posts. Outside of Zynga, Playdom and Popcap Games, none of the other companies had (many) job postings that mentioned the iPhone/iPad or Android platforms4:


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(1) Data for this post if for U.S. online job postings through 7/25/2010 and is maintained in partnership with SimplyHired.com. We use algorithms to dedup job posts: a single job posting can contain multiple jobs and appear on multiple job sites.

(2) Online job postings are from thousands of sources, and there are no standardized data formats (e.g., a field for company name). I quickly normalized company names for this post, but the results remain best approximations.

(3) Our data is for U.S. online job postings, so does not reflect hiring for overseas subsidiaries (e.g., Playfish/EA is based in London). Moreover, we did not include social gaming companies based outside the U.S. In the Facebook ecosystem, some of the top gaming companies have headquarters in East Asia and South America.

(4) iPhone does seem to be the (smartphone) platform of choice for these companies. Of the Jan-to-Jul 2010 job posts placed by the companies listed above, 23% mentioned the iPhone/iPad and only 2% mentioned the Android.

July 22 2010

Four short links: 22 July 2010

  1. Boomerang -- a piece of javascript that you add to your web pages, where it measures the performance of your website from your end user's point of view. It has the ability to send this data back to your server for further analysis. With boomerang, you find out exactly how fast your users think your site is. From Yahoo!. (via Matt Biddulph)
  2. Ten of the Greatest Maps that Changed the World (Daily Mail) -- Head of Map Collections at the British Library has a list of cartographic coolness. Businessman Charles Booth was sceptical about a claim in 1885 that a quarter of Londoners lived in extreme poverty, so he employed people to investigate. They found the true figure was 30 per cent. The findings were entered onto a 'Master Map' using seven colour categories, from black for 'Lowest class, semi-criminal' to gold for wealthy. The authorities were terrified into action, and the first council houses were built soon afterwards. (via Flowing Data)
  3. Open Web Analytics -- provides a generic set of PHP and HTTP APIs that application developers can use to integrate web analytics into any application. The Framework also has built-in support for popular web applications such as WordPress and MediaWiki. (open source)
  4. Aris Games -- Over the last two years, a group of researchers here at the University of Wisconsin’s Games, Learning and Society research group have been experimenting with making mobile games that teach. Along the way, we have developed an open tool for creating these mobile games. Our goal is now is to provide educators who want to use place based / inquiry / narrative / gaming activities in their curriculum with a tool that can help them build it. The ARIS engine allows game designers to place virtual items, characters and pages in physical space using the iPhone’s GPS or a little barcode that can be placed on a wall or near an object. By giving the players a story and a number of quests, games can be built that involve a mix of physical and virtual activities.

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