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February 23 2012

Four short links: 23 February 2012

  1. Why Mobile Matters (Luke Wroblewski) -- great demonstration of the changes in desktop and mobile, the new power of Android, and the waning influence of old manufacturers.
  2. It's Called iBooks Author Not iMathTextbooks Author, And The Trouble That Results (Dan Meyer) -- It's curious that even though students own their iBooks forever (ie. they can't resell them or give them away), they can't write in them except in the most cursory ways. Even curiouser, these iBooks could all be wired to the Internet and wired to a classroom through iTunes U, but they'd still be invisible to each other. Your work on your iPad cannot benefit me on mine. At our school, we look for "software with holes in it"--software into which kids put their own answers, photos, stories.
  3. DepthCam -- It’s a live-streaming 3D point-cloud, carried over a binary WebSocket. It responds to movement in the scene by panning the (virtual) camera, and you can also pan and zoom around with the mouse. Very impressive hack with a Kinect! (via Pete Warden)
  4. Starting an Online Store is Not Easy in Greece -- At the health department, they were told that all the shareholders of the company would have to provide chest X-rays, and, in the most surreal demand of all, stool samples. Note to Greece: this is not how you check whether a business plan is full of shit. (via Hacker News)

January 13 2012

Developer Week in Review: A big moment for Kinect?

Hope everyone is having a good year, so far. We're just getting our first snow of the season up here in New England (Snowtober not included...). Alas, I shan't be able to watch the Patriots and Broncos gird themselves for epic battle this Saturday (except after the fact on TiVo), as I'll be speaking that evening at the Arisia SF Convention in downtown Boston. I'll be participating on a panel discussing the legacy of Steve Jobs, and since one of the other panelists is Richard Stallman, it should make for a lively discussion.

Kinect for Windows makes it a good time to be a chiropractor

Say what you will about Microsoft, but its Kinect user input system has been a hot item since it was first released for the Xbox 360. The Kinect has also been a hacker's favorite, as researchers and makers alike have repurposed it for all sorts of body-tracking applications.

Come February, Microsoft will be releasing the first version of the Kinect specifically designed for Windows PCs, complete with a free SDK and runtime. This means that Windows developers can now start designing games and applications that use gestures and body positioning. A future full of "Minority Report"-style user interfaces can't be far away. And with people having to writhe and contort to use their computers, a 15-minute warm up and stretch will become mandatory company policy across the world.

Of more immediate interest: Will the hardware be open enough for folks to create non-Windows SDKs? I suspect a lot of Linux and Mac developers would love to play with a Kinect, and if Microsoft is smart, they'll take the money and smile.

A patent for those half-days

Like mobile phone litigation, software patent abuses are such a frequent occurrence that if I chose to chronicle them all, there would be no room left every week to discuss anything else. But every once in a while, a patent of such mind-altering "well, duh!" magnitude is granted that it must be acknowledged.

Enter the current subject: IBM's recently granted patent for a system that notifies people who try to email you if you're on vacation. But wait, you respond, just about every email system in existence lets you set yourself on vacation and send an auto-response to anyone who emails you. Ah, you fool, but can it handle the case where you only take a half day off? That's what this patent covers.

If NYC crashes with a null pointer exception, we'll know why

It may be more PR than promise, but New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged to learn coding, as part of Codecademy's Code Year project.

Between Codecademy, the Kahn Academy and free courseware now being offered by prestigious institutions such as MIT and Stanford, there's never been more resources available to the average person who wants to learn software engineering. The question is, how will the corporate world react to a cadre of self-taught developers? We often hear there's a shortage of engineering talent in the U.S., but will companies hire newbie coders who learned it all online?

Strata 2012 — The 2012 Strata Conference, being held Feb. 28-March 1 in Santa Clara, Calif., will offer three full days of hands-on data training and information-rich sessions. Strata brings together the people, tools, and technologies you need to make data work.

Save 20% on registration with the code RADAR20

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April 14 2011

Four short links: 14 April 2011

  1. Chrome Experiment: ArcadeFire -- choreographed windows, interactive flocking, custom rendered maps, real-time compositing, procedural drawing, 3D canvas rendering in HTML5. I have to say that "Built for Google Chrome" at the bottom does turn my stomach, a "this page looks best in Microsoft Internet Explorer" for the 2010s.
  2. Resilience Engineering, Part 1 (John Allspaw) -- listing human error as a root cause isn’t where you should end, it’s where you should start your investigation [...] The idea that failures in complex systems can literally have a singular ‘root’ cause, as if failures are the result of linear steps in time, is just incorrect. Not only is it almost always incorrect, but in practice that perspective can be harmful to an organization because it allows management and others to feel better about improving safety, when they’re not, because the solution(s) can be viewed as simple and singular fixes (in reality, they’re not). It's all must-read stuff. (via Mike Loukides)
  3. What's in Microsoft's Kineck SDK -- it does seem to include the new super body tracking software able to track up to two users at the same time and it also promises a new feature - the ability to listen. It has four microphones and there's promise that, with the position information, it'll be able to isolate your voice from background noise. (via Tim O'Reilly)
  4. Nerdy London Day Trips (Ben Goldacre) -- hundreds more reasons to visit London (and then leave it). Includes abandoned nuclear bunkers, an "eccentric" Victorian philanthropist's labyrinth of tunnels, and the first house in the world to be powered by hydro-electricity. (via Kari Stewart)

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