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July 27 2013

Four short links: 29 July 2013

  1. Applied Practical Cryptography — technical but readable article with lots of delicious lines. They’re a little magical, in the same sense that ABS brakes were magical in the 1970s and Cloud applications share metal with strangers, and thus attackers, who will gladly spend $40 to co-host themselves with a target and The conservative approach is again counterintuitive to developers, to whom hardcoding anything is like simony.
  2. Nukemap — interactive visualization of the fallout damage from a nuclear weapon. Now we can all be the scary 1970s “this is what it would look like if [big town] were nuked” documentaries that I remember growing up with. I love interactives for learning the contours of a problem, and making it real and personal in a way that a static visualization cannot. WIN. See also the creator’s writeup.
  3. Legalising WeedChuck, a dealer who switched from selling weed in California to New York and quadrupled his income, told WNYC, “There’s plenty of weed in New York. There’s just an illusion of scarcity, which is part of what I’m capitalizing on. Because this is a black market business, there’s insufficient information for customers.” Invisible economies are frequently inefficient, disrupted by moving online and made market-sense efficient.
  4. Can Software That Predicts Crime Pass Constitutional Muster? (NPR) — “I think most people are gonna defer to the black box,” he says. “Which means we need to focus on what’s going into that black box, how accurate it is, and what transparency and accountability measures we have [for] it.”

May 21 2013

Four short links: 21 May 2013

  1. Hyperinflation in Diablo 3 — interesting discussion about how video games regulate currency availability, and how Diablo 3 appears to have messed up. several weeks after the game’s debut a source claimed that there were at least 1,000 bots active 24/7 in the Diablo 3 game world, allegedly “harvesting” (producing) 4 million virtual gold per hour. Most of the gold generated by the ruthlessly productive, rapidly adapting bots found its way to third party vendors in a black market which undercut the prices in the sanctioned, in-game auction houses.
  2. Dell Project Ophelia (PC World) — $100 USB-stick-sized Android computer.
  3. Call Me Maybe (Kyle Kingsbury) — a series on network partitions. We’re going to learn about distributed consensus, discuss the CAP theorem’s implications, and demonstrate how different databases behave under partition.
  4. OpenWorm (The Atlantic) — simulating the c. elegans nematode worm in software. OpenWorm isn’t like these other initiatives; it’s a scrappy, open-source project that began with a tweet and that’s coordinated on Google Hangouts by scientists spread from San Diego to Russia. If it succeeds, it will have created a first in executable biology: a simulated animal using the principles of life to exist on a computer.

March 11 2013

Four short links: 11 March 2013

  1. Adventures in the Ransom Trade — between insurance, protection, and ransoms, Sean Gourley describes it as “one of the more interesting grey markets.” (via Sean Gourley)
  2. About High School Computer Science Teachers (Selena Deckelmann) — Selena gets an education in the state of high school computer science education.
  3. Learning From Big Data (Google Research) — the Wikilinks Corpus: 40 million total disambiguated mentions within over 10 million web pages [...] The mentions are found by looking for links to Wikipedia pages where the anchor text of the link closely matches the title of the target Wikipedia page. If we think of each page on Wikipedia as an entity (an idea we’ve discussed before), then the anchor text can be thought of as a mention of the corresponding entity.
  4. Teens Have Always Gone Where Identity Isn’tif you look back at one of the first dominant social platforms, AOL Instant Messenger, it looks a lot like the pseudonymous Tumblr and Snapchat of today in many respects. You used an avatar that was not your face. Your screenname was not indexed and not personally identifiable (mine was Goober1310).

February 19 2013

Four short links: 19 February 2013

  1. Using Silk Road — exploring the transactions, probability of being busted, and more. Had me at the heading Silk Road as Cyphernomicon’s black markets. Estimates of risk of participating in the underground economy.
  2. Travis CIa hosted continuous integration service for the open source community. It is integrated with GitHub.
  3. Chinese Cyber-Espionage Unit (PDF) — exposé of one of China’s Cyber Espionage Units. (via Reddit /r/netsec)
  4. $250 Arduino-Powered Hand Made by a Teenthe third version of his robotic hand. The hand is primarily made with 3D printing, with the exception of motors, gears, and other hardware. The control system is activated by flexing a pre-chosen muscle, such as curling your toes, then the movement is chosen and controlled by a series of eyeblinks and an EEG headset to measure brainwaves. The most remarkable part is that the hand costs a mere $250.
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