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January 04 2012

Four short links: 4 January 2012

  1. Compiling Android from Source (Jethro Carr) -- not as easy as you might think. The documentation is minimal, and each device has its own binary blobs of not-open-source crap necessary to make them work. Open source is supposed to let users continue to do good things with the device, even if the vendor disapproves (cf Stallman's Printer). Jethro's experience is that with Android, not so much. Even the Google AOSP supported phones can't run a pure open source stack, proprietary downloads are supplied by Google for specific hardware components for each model and for a specific OS release. Should Google decide to stop supporting a device with future Android versions (as has happened with earlier devices) you won't easily be able to support the hardware. (via Don Christie)
  2. Javascript Objects, Functions, Scope, Prototypes, and Closures -- an extremely readable yet concise guide to these topics in Javascript. (via Javascript Weekly)
  3. CSS3 Progress Bars (GitHub) -- gorgeous and useful. (via Juha Saarinen)
  4. To Know But Not Understand (David Weinberger) -- excellent excerpt from his new book on big data and computational science. We can climb the ladder of complexity [...] to phenomena with many more people with much more diverse and changing motivations, such as markets. We can model these and perhaps know how they work without understanding them. They are so complex that only our artificial brains can manage the amount of data and the number of interactions involved. Preordered his book! (via Alexis Madrigal)

December 29 2011

November 15 2011

Four short links: 15 November 2011

  1. Cost-Effectiveness of Internet-Based Self-Management Compared with Usual Care in Asthma (PLoSone) -- Internet-based self-management of asthma can be as effective as current asthma care and costs are similar.
  2. Apache Lucy -- full-text search engine library written in C and targeted at dynamic languages. It is a "loose C" port of Apache Lucene™, a search engine library for Java.
  3. The Near Future of Citizen Science (Fiona Romeo) -- near future of science is all about honing the division of labour between professionals, amateurs and bots. See Bryce's bionic software riff. (via Matt Jones)
  4. Microsoft's Patent Claims Against Android (Groklaw) -- behold, citizen, the formidable might of Microsoft's patents and how they justify a royalty from every Android device equal to that which you would owe if you built a Windows Mobile device: These Microsoft patents can be divided into several basic categories: (1) the '372 and '780 patents relate to web browsers; (2) the '551 and '233 patents relate to electronic document annotation and highlighting; (3) the '522 patent relates to resources provided by operating systems; (4) the '517 and '352 patents deal with compatibility with file names once employed by old, unused, and outmoded operating systems; (5) the '536 and '853 patents relate to simulating mouse inputs using non-mouse devices; and (6) the '913 patent relates to storing input/output access factors in a shared data structure. A shabby display of patent menacing.

November 09 2011

Four short links: 9 November 2011

  1. The Social Graph is Neither -- Maciej Ceglowski nails it. Imagine the U.S. Census as conducted by direct marketers - that's the social graph. Social networks exist to sell you crap. The icky feeling you get when your friend starts to talk to you about Amway, or when you spot someone passing out business cards at a birthday party, is the entire driving force behind a site like Facebook.
  2. Anonymous 101 (Wired) -- Quinn Norton explains where Anonymous came from, what it is, and why it is.
  3. Antibiotic Resistance (The Atlantic) -- Laxminarayan likens antibiotics resistance to global warming: every country needs to solve its own problems and cooperate—but if it doesn't, we all suffer. This is why we can't have nice things. (via Courtney Johnston)
  4. Deep Idle for Android -- developer saw his handset wasn't going into a deep-enough battery-saving idle mode, saw it wasn't implemented in the kernel, implemented it, and reduced battery consumption by 55%. Very cool to see open source working as it's supposed to. (via Leonard Lin)

September 01 2011

Four short links: 1 September 2011

  1. A Chart Engine -- Android charting engine.
  2. The Illusion of Asymmetric Insight -- we are driven to create and form groups and then believe others are wrong just because they are others.
  3. Urban Mapping API -- add rich geographic data to web and non-web applications.
  4. Tell Us A Story, Victoria -- a university science story-telling contest.

June 09 2011

Four short links: 9 June 2011

  1. Optimizing MongoDB -- shorter field names, barely hundreds of ops/s when not in RAM, updates hold a lock while they fetch the original from disk ... it's a pretty grim story. (via Artur Bergman)
  2. Is There a New Geek Anti-Intellectualism? -- focus is absolutely necessary if we are to gain knowledge. We will be ignoramuses indeed, if we merely flow along with the digital current and do not take the time to read extended, difficult texts. (via Sacha Judd)
  3. Trend Data for Teens (Pew Internet and American Life Project) -- one in six American teens have used the Internet to look for information online about a health topic that’s hard to talk about, like drug use, sexual health, or depression.
  4. The Guts of Android (Linux Weekly News) -- technical but high-level explanation of the components of an Android system and how they compare to those of a typical Linux system.

May 06 2011

Four short links: 6 May 2011

  1. Raspberry Pi -- the creator of the game Elite has made an inline computer the size of a thumb drive--it plugs into an HDMI cable on one end and USB on the other. 700MHz CPU, OpenGL, 1080p-capable, running Ubuntu. Pricetag: $25. The mission is to supply them to schools.
  2. A Budget for Babel (Tim Carmody) -- What would you pony up for instant access to every book? Interesting insight into the value and utility of such a service.
  3. Android's Achilles Heel: The Sim Toolkit -- Now if you live in the States, you might not even know what the STK is, so a bit of explaining is in order. Put simply, the STK allows carriers to load a simple set of menus and 'applications' on your SIM card. Again, on your fancy iPhone, you may question the need or purpose for such a thing, but that's because you are still years behind and using a credit card. Here, where credit cards are virtually unknown, the present and future of payments is Mobile Money, which is almost always delivered via.. you guessed it, the STK.
  4. Democratizing Design -- AutoDesk partner with Ponoko and Techshop to allow anyone to design 3-D models, and then turn them into real-life products. Great to see this kind of small-run custom manufacturing heading toward the mainstream.

April 26 2011

April 07 2011

Four short links: 7 April 2011

  1. The Freight Train That is Android -- Google’s aim is defensive not offensive. They are not trying to make a profit on Android or Chrome. They want to take any layer that lives between themselves and the consumer and make it free (or even less than free). [...] In essence, they are not just building a moat; Google is also scorching the earth for 250 miles around the outside of the castle to ensure no one can approach it. (via Fred Wilson)
  2. Group Think (New York Magazine) -- Big Idea tomes typically pull promiscuously from behavioral economics, cognitive science, and evolutionary psychology. They coin phrases the way Zimbabwe prints bills. They relish upending conventional wisdom: Not thinking becomes thinking, everything bad turns out to be good, and the world is—go figure—flat. (With Gladwell’s Blink, this mania for the counterintuitive runs top-speed into a wall, crumples to the ground, and stares dizzily at the little birds circling overhead. This is, let me remind you, a best-selling book about the counterintuitive importance of thinking intuitively.) A piercing take on pop science/fad management books.
  3. Product Design at GitHub -- Every employee at GitHub is a product designer. We only hire smart people we trust to make our product better. We don’t have managers dictating what to work on. We don’t require executive signoff to ship features. Executives, system administrators, developers, and designers concieve, ship, and remove features alike. (via Simon Willison)
  4. Linus on Android Headers Claims -- "seems totally bogus". I blogged the Android headers claim earlier, have been meaning to run this rather definitive "ignore it, it was noise" note. Apologies for showing you crap that was wrong: that's why I try not to show weather-report "news", but to find projects that illustrate trends.

March 30 2011

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.

January 21 2011

Four short links: 21 January 2011

  1. Proof-of-Concept Android Trojan Captures Spoken Credit-Card Numbers -- Soundminer sits in the background and waits for a call to be placed [...] the application listens out for the user entering credit card information or a PIN and silently records the information, performing the necessary analysis to turn it from a sound recording into a number. Very clever use of sensors for evil! (via Slashdot)
  2. Cloud9 IDE -- open source IDE for node.js. I'm using it as I learn node.js, and it's sweet as, bro.
  3. The Quantified Self Conference -- May 28-29 in Mountain View. (via Pete Warden)
  4. Bram Cohen Demos P2P Streaming -- the creator of BitTorrent is winding up to release a streaming protocol that is also P2P. (via Hacker News)

December 21 2010

Four short links: 21 December 2010

  1. Cash Cow Disease -- quite harsh on Google and Microsoft for "ingesting not investing" in promising startups, then disconnecting them from market signals. Like pixie dust, potential future advertising revenues can be sprinkled on any revenue-negative scheme to make it look brilliant. (via Dan Martell)
  2. Your Apps Are Watching You (Wall Street Journal) -- the iPhone apps transmitted more data than the apps on phones using Google Inc.'s Android operating system [...] Both the Android and iPhone versions of Pandora, a popular music app, sent age, gender, location and phone identifiers to various ad networks. iPhone and Android versions of a game called Paper Toss—players try to throw paper wads into a trash can—each sent the phone's ID number to at least five ad companies. Grindr, an iPhone app for meeting gay men, sent gender, location and phone ID to three ad companies. [...] Among all apps tested, the most widely shared detail was the unique ID number assigned to every phone. It is effectively a "supercookie," [...] on iPhones, this number is the "UDID," or Unique Device Identifier. Android IDs go by other names. These IDs are set by phone makers, carriers or makers of the operating system, and typically can't be blocked or deleted. "The great thing about mobile is you can't clear a UDID like you can a cookie," says Meghan O'Holleran of Traffic Marketplace, an Internet ad network that is expanding into mobile apps. "That's how we track everything."
  3. On Undo's Undue Importance (Paul Kedrosky) -- The mainstream has money and risks, and so it cares immensely. It wants products and services where big failures aren't catastrophic, and where small failures, the sorts of thing that "undo" fixes, can be rolled back. Undo matters, in other words, because its appearance almost always signals that a market has gone from fringe to mainstream, with profits set to follow. (via Tim O'Reilly on Twitter)
  4. libimobiledevice -- open source library that talks the protocols to support iPhone®, iPod Touch®, iPad® and Apple TV® devices without jailbreaking or proprietary libraries.

December 01 2010

Four short links: 1 December 2010

  1. 2 Kinects 1 Box (YouTube) -- merging data from two Kinects in real time, to get astonishing 3D information. (via Chelfyn Baxter)
  2. Crowdsource is not Open Source (Simon Phipps) -- there are some businesses that don't understand this, and exploit community for their sole benefit in the name of open source. Ignorance of the four freedoms is dangerous.
  3. We Like Lists Before We Don't Want to Die (Spiegel) -- fascinating interview with Umberto Eco. If you interact with things in your life, everything is constantly changing. And if nothing changes, you're an idiot. (via Aaron Straup Cope on Delicious)
  4. $139.99 Android Tablet at Toys R Us -- sales of Android tablets (as well as Apple tablets) could help bolster the after-market accessory opportunity for wireless players, including modem makers and wireless operators.
  5. (via Sylvain Carle on Twitter)

November 24 2010

Four short links: 24 November 2010

  1. What Android Is (Tim Bray) -- a good explanation of the different bits and their relationship.
  2. Cell Phone Photo Helped in Oil Spill (LA Times) -- a lone scientist working from a cell phone photo who saved the day by convincing the government that a cap it considered removing was actually working as designed. (via BoingBoing)
  3. Penki -- iPhone app that lets you paint 3D messages which are revealed in long-exposure photographs. (via Aaron Straup Cope on Delicious)
  4. I'm Working at Microsoft and We're Donating Imagery to OpenStreetMap! (Steve Coast) -- MSFT hired the creator of OSM and he says Microsoft is donating access to its global orthorectified aerial imagery to help OpenStreetMappers make the map even better than it already is.

November 17 2010

Four short links: 17 November 2010

  1. Understanding Your Customers -- I enjoyed Keith's take on meaningful metrics. We talk a lot about being data-driven, but we interpret data with a model. The different take on meaningful metrics reflect the different underlying models that are lit up by data. It's an important idea for the Strata conference, that gathering and processing data happens in the context of a world view, a data cosmology. (via Eric Ries)
  2. Bushwick AR Intervention 2010 -- an augmented reality take over of Bushwick, Brooklyn NY. Artists will rework physical space with computer generated 3d graphics. A wide variety of works ranging from a virtual drug which has broken free of its internet constraints and is now effecting people in the real world, to a unicorn park, to serious commentary on the state of United States veterans will be free for the public to view [with correct mobile device]. (via Laurel Ruma)
  3. How to Mass Export all of your Facebook Friends' Private Email Addresses (TechCrunch) -- Arrington gives a big finger to Facebook's "no, you can't export your friends' email addresses" policy by using the tools they provide to do just that. Not only is this useful, it also points out the hypocrisy of the company.
  4. TaintDroid -- an Android ROM that tracks what apps do with your sensitive information. (via Brady Forrest on Twitter)

November 02 2010

Four short links: 2 November 2010

  1. Lessons from the Johnny Cash Project -- When a participatory activity is designed without a goal in mind, you end up with a bunch of undervalued stuff and nowhere to put it. (via Courtney Johnston)
  2. Doom iPhone Review -- fascinating explanation of how the iPhone works for programmers, and how the Doom source code works around some of the less-game-friendly features. (via Tom Carden on Delicious)
  3. The 8 Pen -- new alphanumeric entry system for Android.
  4. Salesforce Security -- lots of information for web developers, most generally applicable. (via Pete Warden)

October 18 2010

October 06 2010

Four short links: 6 October 2010

  1. “Poetic” Statistical Machine Translation: Rhyme and Meter (PDF) -- Google Research paper on how to machine translate text into poetry. This is the best paper I've read in a long time: clever premise, straightforward implementation, and magnificent results. There's a very workable translation of Oscar Wilde's "Ballad of Reading Gaol" into a different meter, which you'll know isn't easy if you've ever tried your hand at poetry more complex than "there once was a young man called Enis". (via Poetic Machine Translation on the Google Research blog)
  2. Android Most Popular Operating System in US Among Recent Smartphone Buyers (Nielsen blog) -- the graphs say it all. Note how the growth in Android handset numbers doesn't come at the expense of Blackberry or iPhone users? Android users aren't switchers, they're new smartphone owners. (via Hacker News)
  3. Government Data to be Machine Readable (Guardian) -- UK government to require all responses to Freedom of Information Act requests to be machine readable.
  4. jQuery Fundamentals -- CC-SA-licensed book on jQuery programming. (via darren on Twitter)

August 24 2010

Four short links: 24 August 2010

  1. The Dirty Little Secret About Google Android (ZD Net) -- By some reports, the Open Handset Alliance is in now shambles. Members such as HTC have gone off and added lots of their own software and customizations to their Android devices without contributing any code back to the Alliance. Motorola and Samsung have begun taking the same approach. The collaborative spirit is gone — if it ever existed at all. And, Google is proving to be a poor shepherd for the wolves-in-sheep’s-clothing that make up the telecoms and the handset makers in the Alliance. The mobile phone industry is as messed up as enterprise Unix was in the 80s. (via Hacker News)
  2. MilOSS Working Group 2 Wrap Up -- A challenge was issued at the barcamp lunch in response to the need for a canonical set of briefing charts detailing the value of open source software for the military, from security to basic definitions to legal issues. All-in-all, about 100 briefing charts were created and will soon be made available to the community to use/modify/tweak as needed. (via johnmscott on Twitter)
  3. nmap Scripting Engine -- Lua embedded in nmap lets you automate a lot of network-related tasks. (via Slashdot)
  4. Russian Cybercrime: Geeks not Gangsters -- “Basically, from what we’ve seen on the forums much of what goes on with the sales of services is much more petty criminal activity, or crimes of opportunity,” Grugq said. “Often poor students who like to hack for fun will sell access to a server they’ve owned. Many don’t even realise that this is an illegal activity. This sale will be for $20 or $30 (£!3 or £19), which is a lot of money for a poor student in Russia, but for a hardened criminal mastermind bent on destroying Western civilization — not so much.” We need to launch a distributed denial of students attack on Russia. (via jasonwryan on Twitter)

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