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May 24 2010

Four short links: 24 May 2010

  1. Google Documents API -- permissions, revisions, search, export, upload, and file. Somehow I had missed that this existed.
  2. Profile of Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange (Sydney Morning Herald) -- he draws no salary, is constantly on the move, lived for a while in a compound in Nairobi with other NGOs, and cowrote the rubberhose filesystem which offers deniable encryption.
  3. OpenPCR -- producing an open design for a PCR machine. PCR is how you take a single piece of DNA and make lots of copies of it. It's the first step in a lot of interesting bits of molecular biology. They're using Ponoko to print the cases. (via davetenhave on Twitter)
  4. Metric Mania (NY Times) -- The problem isn’t with statistical tests themselves but with what we do before and after we run them. First, we count if we can, but counting depends a great deal on previous assumptions about categorization. Consider, for example, the number of homeless people in Philadelphia, or the number of battered women in Atlanta, or the number of suicides in Denver. Is someone homeless if he’s unemployed and living with his brother’s family temporarily? Do we require that a women self-identify as battered to count her as such? If a person starts drinking day in and day out after a cancer diagnosis and dies from acute cirrhosis, did he kill himself? The answers to such questions significantly affect the count. We can never be reminded enough that the context for data must be made as open as the data. To do otherwise is to play Russian Roulette with the truth.

May 12 2010

Four short links: 12 May 2010

  1. The Ten Commandments of Rock and Roll (BoingBoing) -- ten rules that should be posted in every workplace as a guide to how to fail poisonously.
  2. Snapscouts -- rather creepy sousveillance site. It's up to you to keep America safe! If you see something suspicious, Snap it! If you see someone who doesn't belong, Snap it! Not sure if someone or something is suspicious? Snap it anyway! I like the idea of promoting a shared interest in keeping us all safe, but I'm not sure SnapScouts is there yet.
  3. Etherpad Foundation -- was open-sourced after Google acquired the company that offered it, has now acquired a life-after-death. Compare with the updated Google document editor which has a wordprocessing layout engine built in Javascript, and uses the algorithms behind Etherpad to offer simultaneous editing. (via Hacker News)
  4. Diaspora Kickstarter Project -- team looking for seed funding to write an aGPLed "privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all distributed open source social network" (no news of dessert topping or floor wax applicability). Received 2.5x their requested funding in a few days.

March 15 2010

Four short links: 15 March 2010

  1. A German Library for the 21st Century (Der Spiegel) -- But browsing in Europeana is just not very pleasurable. The results are displayed in thumbnail images the size of postage stamps. And if you click through for a closer look, you're taken to the corresponding institute. Soon you're wandering helplessly around a dozen different museum and library Web sites -- and you end up lost somewhere between the "Vlaamse Kunstcollectie" and the "Wielkopolska Biblioteka Cyfrowa." Would it not be preferable to incorporate all the exhibits within the familiar scope of Europeana? "We would have preferred that," says Gradmann. "But then the museums would not have participated." They insist on presenting their own treasures. This is a problem encountered everywhere around the world: users hate silos but institutions hate the thought of letting go of their content. We're going to have to let go to win. (via Penny Carnaby)
  2. StoryGarden -- a web-based tool for gathering and analyzing a large number of stories contributed by the public. The content of the stories, along with some associated survey questions, are processed in an automated semantic computing process for an immediate, interactive display for the lay public, and in a more thorough manual process for expert analysis.
  3. Google Apps Script -- VBA for the 2010s. Currently mainly for spreadsheets, but some hooks into Gmail and Google Calendar.
  4. There's a Rootkit in the Closet -- lovely explanation of finding and isolating a rootkit, reconstructing how it got there and deconstructing the rootkit to figure out what it did. It's a detective story, no less exciting than when Cliff Stohl wrote The Cuckoo's Egg.

March 10 2010

Four short links: 10 March 2010

  1. The Future of Book Publishing Business Models (Stephen Walli) -- some good thoughts about the book publishing industry and ebooks. When does Amazon create the iPhone/Android app and the programme that will allow bookstores to receive a cut of every Kindle edition they sell? I scan the book's in-store barcode with my smartphone, and I get the Kindle edition delivered, and the store gets its cut. Why is this different in concept than Borders on-line store being run on Amazon, or any of the independent book sellers that front through Amazon? It's not the normal book mark-up, but people already browse bookstores and buy on Amazon. This is better than no revenue. (When was the last time you went to a travel agent?)
  2. Google Apps Enterprise Marketplace -- this is sweet. It looks like the play is to become the home page for authenticated apps rather than to make commissions from selling the apps themselves. This may be the Google business model vs the Apple business model in a nutshell. (via Marc Hedlund)
  3. iPad Application Design -- some fantastic notes about the kinds of UI design that iPad encourages. I've avoided covering The Second Coming of The JesusPhone but this is interesting because of the middle ground it stakes out between phone and laptop. The primary warning about designing for the iPad is: more screen space doesn’t mean more UI. You’ll be tempted to violate that principle, and you need to resist the temptation. It’s OK to have UI available to cover your app’s functionality, but a bigger screen doesn’t mean it should all be visible at once. Hide configuration UI until needed. Look like a viewer, and behave like an editor ... There’s been a history of modes getting some bad press on the desktop. The issue is that they trade stability (things always being in exactly the same place in the UI, and not changing) for simplicity (not having too many controls to look through at once). On the iPad, it’s clear where the winning side of the balance is: simplicity. Modes are completely appropriate on this device. (via Marc Hedlund)
  4. The Howtoons Visual Creation Guide -- we teach grammar and spelling in schools but not visual communication. This short booklet is a good start to remedying that. (via BoingBoing)

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