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January 13 2014

Four short links: 13 January 2014

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

November 26 2013

Four short links: 26 November 2013

  1. The Death and Life of Great Internet Cities“The sense that you were given some space on the Internet, and allowed to do anything you wanted to in that space, it’s completely gone from these new social sites,” said Scott. “Like prisoners, or livestock, or anybody locked in institution, I am sure the residents of these new places don’t even notice the walls anymore.”
  2. What You’re Not Supposed To Do With Google Glass (Esquire) — Maybe I can put these interruptions to good use. I once read that in ancient Rome, when a general came home victorious, they’d throw him a triumphal parade. But there was always a slave who walked behind the general, whispering in his ear to keep him humble. “You are mortal,” the slave would say. I’ve always wanted a modern nonslave version of this — a way to remind myself to keep perspective. And Glass seemed the first gadget that would allow me to do that. In the morning, I schedule a series of messages to e-mail myself throughout the day. “You are mortal.” “You are going to die someday.” “Stop being a selfish bastard and think about others.” (via BoingBoing)
  3. Neural Networks and Deep Learning — Chapter 1 up and free, and there’s an IndieGogo campaign to fund the rest.
  4. What We Know and Don’t KnowThat highly controlled approach creates the misconception that fossils come out of the ground with labels attached. Or worse, that discovery comes from cloaked geniuses instead of open discussion. We’re hoping to combat these misconceptions by pursuing an open approach. This is today’s evolutionary science, not the science of fifty years ago We’re here sharing science. [...] Science isn’t the answers, science is the process. Open science in paleoanthropology.

November 04 2013

Four short links: 4 November 2013

  1. A Game Designer’s Guide to Google Glass (Gamasutra) — nice insight that Glass is shovelware-resistant because input is so different and output so limited. (via Beta Knowledge)
  2. Be Polite, Pertinent, and Pretty (Slideshare) — design principles from Dopplr. (via Matt Jones’s memorial to Dopplr)
  3. Replicant — free software Android. (via Wired)
  4. Femme Fatale Dupes IT Guys at Government Agency (Sophos) — story of how a fake LinkedIn profile for a pretty woman reflects as poorly on security practice as on gender politics.

October 07 2013

Podcast: expanding our experience of interfaces and interaction

At our Sci Foo Camp this past summer, Jon Bruner, Jim Stogdill, Roger Magoulas, and I were joined by guests Amanda Parkes, a professor in the Department of Architecture at Columbia University, and CTO at algae biofuels company Bodega Algae and fashion technology company Skinteractive Studio; Ivan Poupyrev, principle research scientist at Disney Research, who leads an interaction research team; and Hayes Raffle, an interaction designer at Google [X] working on Project Glass. Our discussion covered a wide range of topics, from scalable sensors to tactile design to synthetic biology to haptic design to why technology isn’t a threat but rather is essential for human survival.

Here are some highlights from our discussion:

  • The Botanicus Interacticus project from Disney research and the Touché sensor technology.
  • Poupyrev explains the concept behind the Touché sensor is that we need to figure out how to make the entire world interactive, developing a single sensor that can be scalable to any situation — finding a universal solution that can adapt to multiple uses. That’s what Touché is, Poupyrev says: “a sensing technology that can dynamically adapt to multiple objects and can sense interaction with water, with everyday objects, with tables, with surfaces, the human body, plants, cats, birds, whatever you want.” (2:50 mark)
  • The ultimate goals of Google Glass and Touché, Raffle says, are similar in that they’re both trying to make computers disappear — Disney is putting the computation into the world so that it’s indistinguishable from objects around us, Glass aims to bring technology closer to you so that it almost fades into the background when you’re using it. (4:17 mark)
  • In a similar vein, Parkes is interested in bringing the interactivity of our surroundings — such as the overwhelming visual pollution in Times Square — back to a more natural, softer state — and is there any hope for the Times Square redesign? (5:56 mark)
  • Parkes’ discussion of her work prompted a nod from Stogdill to Design in Nature, by Adrian Bejan and J. Peder Zane.
  • We also discussed how the expansion in our experience of interfaces and interaction is enhancing our possibilities to be entertained as well as enhancing beauty, aesthetics and pleasure (9:15 mark); Poupyrev stressed as well that it’s the technology that makes humans who we are — technology isn’t a threat; it’s the most important thing for human survival. (13:28 mark)

Additional points of note include a discussion of Google Glass in the wild (14:19 mark); biocouture (19:15 mark); Parkes’ recent experiment: feeding organic conductive ink to slime mold to see if it’ll produce conductive circuit traces — can we can grow our own circuit boards? (17:50 mark). Also, research into haptic technology that creates tactile sensations in free air (23:58 mark) — have a look:

October 02 2013

Four short links: 2 October 2013

  1. Instant Translator Glasses (ZDNet) — character recognition to do instant translating, and a UI that turns any flat surface into a touch-screen via a finger-ring sensor.
  2. draw.io — diagramming … In The Cloud!
  3. Airmail — Mac gmail client with offline mode that fails to suck.
  4. The Page-Fault Weird Machine: Lessons in Instruction-less Computation (Usenix) — video, audio, and text of a paper that’ll make your head hurt. We demonstrate a Turing-complete execution environment driven solely by the IA32 architecture’s interrupt handling and memory translation tables, in which the processor is trapped in a series of page faults and double faults, without ever successfully dispatching any instructions. LOLWUT?!

September 02 2013

Four short links: 3 September 2013

  1. Achieving Rapid Response Times in Large Online Services (PDF) — slides from a talk by Jeff Dean on fanout architectures. (via Alex Dong)
  2. JS MESS — porting the stunning MESS ultimate emulator to Javascript. Interesting challenges like Chrome currently has a hardcoded limit of 32,767 variables, and Firefox has a point at which it hits the CTRL-FUCKIT button and drops the mic.
  3. Go Ahead, Mess with Texas Instruments (The Atlantic) — School typically assumes that answers fall neatly into categories of “right” and “wrong.” As a conventional tool for computing “right” answers, calculators often legitimize this idea; the calculator solves problems, gives answers. But once an endorsed, conventional calculator becomes a subversive, programmable computer it destabilizes this polarity. Programming undermines the distinction between “right” and “wrong” by emphasizing the fluidity between the two. In programming, there is no “right” answer. Sure, a program might not compile or run, but making it offers multiple pathways to success, many of which are only discovered through a series of generative failures. Programming does not reify “rightness;” instead, it orients the programmer toward intentional reading, debugging, and refining of language to ensure clarity.
  4. When A Spouse Puts On Google Glass (NY Times) — Google Glass made me realize how comparably social mobile phones are. [...] People gather around phones to watch YouTube videos or look at a funny tweet together or jointly analyze a text from a friend. With Glass, there was no such sharing.

May 15 2013

Four short links: 15 May 2013

  1. Facial Recognition in Google Glass (Mashable) — this makes Glass umpty more attractive to me. It was created in a hackathon for doctors to use with patients, but I need it wired into my eyeballs.
  2. How to Price Your Hardware ProjectAt the end of the day you are picking a price that enables you to stay in business. As @meganauman says, “Profit is not something to add at the end, it is something to plan for in the beginning.”
  3. Hardware Pricing (Matt Webb) — When products connect to the cloud, the cost structure changes once again. On the one hand, there are ongoing network costs which have to be paid by someone. You can do that with a cut of transactions on the platform, by absorbing the network cost upfront in the RRP, or with user-pays subscription.
  4. Dicoogle — open source medical image search. Written up in PLOSone paper.

May 13 2013

Four short links: 13 May 2013

  1. Exploiting a Bug in Google Glass — unbelievably detailed and yet easy-to-follow explanation of how the bug works, how the author found it, and how you can exploit it too. The second guide was slightly more technical, so when he returned a little later I asked him about the Debug Mode option. The reaction was interesting: he kind of looked at me, somewhat confused, and asked “wait, what version of the software does it report in Settings”? When I told him “XE4″ he clarified “XE4, not XE3″, which I verified. He had thought this feature had been removed from the production units.
  2. Probability Through Problems — motivating problems to hook students on probability questions, structured to cover high-school probability material.
  3. Connbox — love the section “The importance of legible products” where the physical UI interacts seamless with the digital device … it’s glorious. Three amazing videos.
  4. The Index-Based Subgraph Matching Algorithm (ISMA): Fast Subgraph Enumeration in Large Networks Using Optimized Search Trees (PLoSONE) — The central question in all these fields is to understand behavior at the level of the whole system from the topology of interactions between its individual constituents. In this respect, the existence of network motifs, small subgraph patterns which occur more often in a network than expected by chance, has turned out to be one of the defining properties of real-world complex networks, in particular biological networks. [...] An implementation of ISMA in Java is freely available.

May 03 2013

Four short links: 3 May 2013

  1. Causal Entropic Forces (PDF) — new paper from Sci Foo alum Alex Wissner-Gross connecting intelligence and entropy. (via Inside Science)
  2. Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat Are Trademarked Memes (Ars Technica) — the business of this (presumably there will be royalties in the end) is less interesting to me than the murky tension between authorship, ownership, sharing, popularity, and profit. We still lack a common expectation for how memes can be owned and exploited.
  3. Wink UI — Mike DiGiovanni wrote a Glass app to take photos when you wink. (via Ars Technica)
  4. Stealing US Military Secrets (Bloomberg) — One former intelligence official described internal Pentagon discussions over whether another Lockheed Martin fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor, could safely be deployed in combat, because several subcontractors had been hacked. The article is full of horror stories about Chinese penetration of US military contractors.

April 24 2013

April 18 2013

Four short links: 18 April 2013

  1. The Well Deserved Fortune of Satoshi NakamotoI can’t assure with 100% certainty that the all the black dots are owned by Satoshi, but almost all are owned by a single entity, and that entity began mining right from block 1, and with the same performance as the genesis block. It can be identified by constant slope segments that occasionally restart. Also this entity is the only entity that has shown complete trust in Bitcoin, since it hasn’t spend any coins (as last as the eye can see). I estimate at eyesight that Satoshi fortune is around 1M Bitcoins, or 100M USD at current exchange rate. Author’s credible. (via Hacker News)
  2. Houdini (Github) — C library for escaping and unescaping UTF-8-encoded HTML, according to OWASP guidelines.
  3. The $12 Gongkai Phone (Bunnie Huang) — gongkai isn’t a totally lawless free-for-all. It’s a network of ideas, spread peer-to-peer, with certain rules to enforce sharing and to prevent leeching. It’s very different from Western IP concepts, but I’m trying to have an open mind about it.
  4. Jan Chipchase on Google Glass (All Things D) — Any idiot can collect data. The real issue is how to collect data in such a way that meets both moral and legal obligations and still delivers some form of value. An interesting observation, one of many within this overview of the usability and third-party user experience of Google Glass-like UIs.

March 04 2013

Four short links: 4 March 2013

  1. Life Inside the Aaron Swartz Investigationdo hard things and risk failure. What else are we on this earth for?
  2. crossfilter — open source (Apache 2) JavaScript library for exploring large multivariate datasets in the browser. Crossfilter supports extremely fast (<30ms) interaction with coordinated views, even with datasets containing a million or more records.
  3. Steve Mann: My Augmediated Life (IEEE) — Until recently, most people tended to regard me and my work with mild curiosity and bemusement. Nobody really thought much about what this technology might mean for society at large. But increasingly, smartphone owners are using various sorts of augmented-reality apps. And just about all mobile-phone users have helped to make video and audio recording capabilities pervasive. Our laws and culture haven’t even caught up with that. Imagine if hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people had video cameras constantly poised on their heads. If that happens, my experiences should take on new relevance.
  4. The Google Glass Feature No-One Is Talking AboutThe most important Google Glass experience is not the user experience – it’s the experience of everyone else. The experience of being a citizen, in public, is about to change.
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