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February 11 2014

Four short links: 11 February 2014

  1. China’s $122BB Boom in Shadow Banking is Happening on Phones (Quartz) — Tencent’s recently launched online money market fund (MMF), Licai Tong, drew in 10 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) in just six days in the last week of January.
  2. The Weight of Rain — lovely talk about the thought processes behind coming up with a truly insightful visualisation.
  3. Data on Video Streaming Starting to Emerge (Giga Om) — M-Lab, which gathers broadband performance data and distributes that data to the FCC, has uncovered significant slowdowns in throughput on Comcast, Time Warner Cable and AT&T. Such slowdowns could be indicative of deliberate actions taken at interconnection points by ISPs.
  4. Javascript Puzzlers — how well do you know Javascript?

February 10 2014

Four short links: 10 February 2014

  1. Bruce Sterling at transmediale 2014 (YouTube) — “if it works, it’s already obsolete.” Sterling does a great job of capturing the current time: spies in your Internet, lost trust with the BigCos, the impermanence of status quo, the need to create. (via BoingBoing)
  2. No-one Should Fork Android (Ars Technica) — this article is bang on. Google Mobile Services (the Play functionality) is closed-source, what makes Android more than a bare-metal OS, and is where G is focusing its development. Google’s Android team treats openness like a bug and routes around it.
  3. Data Pipelines (Hakkalabs) — interesting overview of the data pipelines of Stripe, Tapad, Etsy, and Square.
  4. Visualising Salesforce Data in Minecraft — would almost make me look forward to using Salesforce. Almost.

January 31 2014

Four short links: 31 January 2014

  1. Bolts — Facebook’s library of small, low-level utility classes in iOS and Android.
  2. Python Idioms (PDF) — useful cheatsheet.
  3. Michael Abrash’s Graphics Programming Black Book — Markdown source in github. Notable for elegance and instructive for those learning to optimise. Coder soul food.
  4. About Link Bait (Anil Dash) — excellent consideration of Upworthy’s distinctive click-provoking headlines, but my eye was caught by we often don’t sound like 2012 Upworthy anymore. Because those tricks are starting to dilute click rates. from Upworthy’s editor-at-large. Attention is a scarce resource, and our brains are very good at filtering.

January 28 2014

Four short links: 28 January 2014

  1. Intel On-Device Voice Recognition (Quartz) — interesting because the tension between client-side and server-side functionality is still alive and well. Features migrate from core to edge and back again as cycles, data, algorithms, and responsiveness expectations change.
  2. Meet Microsoft’s Personal Assistant (Bloomberg) — total information awareness assistant. By Seeing, Hearing, and Knowing All, in the future even elevators will be trying to read our minds. (via The Next Web)
  3. Microsoft Contributes Cloud Server Designs to Open Compute ProjectAs part of this effort, Microsoft Open Technologies Inc. is open sourcing the software code we created for the management of hardware operations, such as server diagnostics, power supply and fan control. We would like to help build an open source software community within OCP as well. (via Data Center Knowledge)
  4. Open Tissue Wiki — open source (ZLib license) generic algorithms and data structures for rapid development of interactive modeling and simulation.

January 10 2014

Four short links: 10 January 2014

  1. Software in 2014 (Tim Bray) — a good state of the world, much of which I agree with. Client-side: Things are bad. You have to build everything three times: Web, iOS, Android. We’re talent-starved, this is egregious waste, and it’s really hurting us.
  2. Making Systems That Don’t Suck (Dominus) — every software engineer should have to read this. Every one.
  3. IBM Struggles to Turn Watson Into Big Business (WSJ) — cognition services harder to onboard than seemed. It smells suspiciously like expert systems from the 1980s, but with more complex analytics on the inside. Analytic skill isn’t the problem for these applications, though, it’s the pain of getting domain knowledge into the system in the first place. This is where G’s web crawl and massive structured general knowledge is going to be a key accelerant.
  4. Reading This May Harm Your Computer (SSRN) — Internet users face large numbers of security warnings, which they mostly ignore. To improve risk communication, warnings must be fewer but better. We report an experiment on whether compliance can be increased by using some of the social-psychological techniques the scammers themselves use, namely appeal to authority, social compliance, concrete threats and vague threats. We also investigated whether users turned off browser malware warnings (or would have, had they known how).

December 05 2013

Four short links: 5 December 2013

  1. DeducerAn R Graphical User Interface (GUI) for Everyone.
  2. Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap (PDF, FAA) — first pass at regulatory framework for drones. (via Anil Dash)
  3. Bitcoin Stats — $21MM traded, $15MM of electricity spent mining. Goodness. (via Steve Klabnik)
  4. iOS vs Android Numbers (Luke Wroblewski) — roundup comparing Android to iOS in recent commerce writeups. More Android handsets, but less revenue per download/impression/etc.

October 14 2013

September 08 2013

Four short links: 9 September 2013

  1. How Google’s Defragging Android (Ars Technica) — Android’s becoming a pudgy microkernel for the Google Play Services layer that’s in userland, closed source, and a way to bypass carriers’ lag for upgrades.
  2. Booting a Self-Signed Linux Kernel (Greg Kroah-Hartman) — procedures for how to boot a self-signed Linux kernel on a platform so that you do not have to rely on any external signing authority.
  3. PaperscapeA map of scientific papers from the arXiv.
  4. Trinket — Adafruit’s latest microcontroller board. Small but perfectly formed.

July 31 2013

Four short links: 31 July 2013

  1. How to Easily Resize and Cache Images for the Mobile Web (Pete Warden) — I set up a server running the excellent ImageProxy open-source project, and then I placed a Cloudfront CDN in front of it to cache the results. (a how-to covering the tricksy bits)
  2. Google’s Position on Net Neutrality Changes? (Wired) — At issue is Google Fiber’s Terms of Service, which contains a broad prohibition against customers attaching “servers” to its ultrafast 1 Gbps network in Kansas City. Google wants to ban the use of servers because it plans to offer a business class offering in the future. [...] In its response [to a complaint], Google defended its sweeping ban by citing the very ISPs it opposed through the years-long fight for rules that require broadband providers to treat all packets equally.
  3. The Future of Programming (Bret Victor) — gorgeous slides, fascinating talk, and this advice from Alan Kay: I think the trick with knowledge is to “acquire it, and forget all except the perfume” — because it is noisy and sometimes drowns out one’s own “brain voices”. The perfume part is important because it will help find the knowledge again to help get to the destinations the inner urges pick.
  4. psd.rb — Ruby code for reading PSD files (MIT licensed).

July 23 2013

Four short links: 23 July 2013

  1. Canary (IndieGogo) — security sensor with video, motion, temperature, microphone, speaker, accelerometer, and smartphone remote control.
  2. Page Speed is Only The Beginning73% of mobile internet users say they’ve encountered Web pages that are too slow. A 1 second delay can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.
  3. Rate Limiting and Velocity Checking (Jeff Atwood) — I was shocked how little comprehensive information was out there on rate limiting and velocity checking for software developers, because they are your first and most important line of defense against a broad spectrum of possible attacks. It’s amazing how many attacks you can mitigate or even defeat by instituting basic rate limiting. (via Alex Dong)
  4. Self-Assembling Multicopter (DIY Drones) — The true accomplishment of this research is that there is not one robot in control – each unit in itself decides what actions to take to keep the group in the air in what’s known as Distributed Flight Array. (via Slashdot)

July 15 2013

Four short links: 15 July 2013

  1. Product Strategy Means Saying No — a resource for strength in saying ‘no’ to unplanned features and direction changes. My favourite illustration is for “but my cousin’s neighbour said”. Yes, this.
  2. git-imerge — incremental merge for git.
  3. The Paranoid #! Security GuideNetworked-Evil-Maid-Attacks (Attacker steals the actual SED and replaces it with another containing a tojanized OS. On bootup victim enters it’s password which is subsequently send to the attacker via network/local attacker hot-spot. Different method: Replacing a laptop with a similar model [at e.g. airport/hotel etc.] and the attacker’s phone# printed on the bottom of the machine. Victim boots up enters “wrong” password which is send to the attacker via network. Victim discovers that his laptop has been misplaced, calls attacker who now copies the content and gives the “misplaced” laptop back to the owner.)
  4. Why Mobile Web Apps Are Slow — long analysis. Just to be clear: is possible to do real-time collaboration on on a mobile device. It just isn’t possible to do it in JavaScript. The performance gap between native and web apps is comparable to the performance gap between FireFox and IE8, which is too large a gap for serious work. (via Slashdot)

July 02 2013

Four short links: 3 July 2013

  1. Mobile Email Numbers (Luke Wroblewski) — 79% use their smartphone for reading email, a higher percentage than those who used it for making calls and in Feb ’12, mobile email overtook webmail client use.
  2. ProperSSLa series of best practices for establishing SSL connections between clients and servers.
  3. How We Are Losing the War for the Free and Open Internet (Sue Gardner) — The internet is evolving into a private-sector space that is primarily accountable to corporate shareholders rather than citizens. It’s constantly trying to sell you stuff. It does whatever it wants with your personal information. And as it begins to be regulated or to regulate itself, it often happens in a clumsy and harmful way, hurting the internet’s ability to function for the benefit of the public.
  4. The Amazingly Low Cost of PRISM — breaks down costs to store and analyse the data gathered from major Internet companies. Total hardware cost per year for 3.75 EB of data storage: €168M

June 17 2013

Four short links: 21 June 2013

  1. Ant-Sized Computers (MIT TR) — The KL02 chip, made by Freescale, is shorter on each side than most ants are long and crams in memory, RAM, a processor, and more.
  2. Some Thoughts on Digital Manufacturing (Nick Pinkston) — Whenever I see someone make a “new” 3D printer that’s just a derivative of the RepRap or MakerBot – I could care less. Only new processes, great interfaces or super-low price points get my attention anymore. FormLabs being a great example of all three – which is why they were a massive hit. If you’re looking for problems: make a cheap laser cutter, CNC mill, or pick-n-place machine. See the Othermill.
  3. The Dictatorship of Data (MIT TR) — Robert McNamara epitomizes the hyper-rational executive led astray by numbers. (via Wolfgang Blau)
  4. A Field Test of Mobile Phone Shielding Devices (PDF) — masters thesis comparing various high-tech fabric-type shielding devices. Alas, tin-foil helmets weren’t investigated. (via Udhay Shankar)

May 31 2013

Four short links: 31 May 2013

  1. Modeling Users’ Activity on Twitter Networks: Validation of Dunbar’s Number (PLoSone) — In this paper we analyze a dataset of Twitter conversations collected across six months involving 1.7 million individuals and test the theoretical cognitive limit on the number of stable social relationships known as Dunbar’s number. We find that the data are in agreement with Dunbar’s result; users can entertain a maximum of 100–200 stable relationships. Thus, the ‘economy of attention’ is limited in the online world by cognitive and biological constraints as predicted by Dunbar’s theory. We propose a simple model for users’ behavior that includes finite priority queuing and time resources that reproduces the observed social behavior.
  2. Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends (Slideshare) — check out slide 24, ~2x month-on-month growth for MyFitnessPal’s number of API calls, which Meeker users as a proxy for “fitness data on mobile + wearable devices”.
  3. What I Learned as an Oompa Loompa (Elaine Wherry) — working in a chocolate factory, learning the differences and overlaps between a web startup and an more traditional physical goods business. It’s so much easier to build a sustainable organization around a simple revenue model. There are no tensions between ad partners, distribution sites, engineering, and sales teams. There are fewer points of failure. Instead, everyone is aligned towards a simple goal: make something people want.
  4. Augmented Reality Futures (Quartz) — wrap-up of tech in the works and coming. Instruction is the bit that interests me, scaffolding our lives: While it isn’t on the market yet, Inglobe Technologies just previewed an augmented reality app that tracks and virtually labels the components of a car engine in real time. That would make popping the hood of your car on the side of the road much less scary. The app claims to simplify tasks like checking oil and topping up coolant fluid, even for novice mechanics.

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.

May 09 2013

Four short links: 9 May 2013

  1. On Google’s Ingress Game (ReadWrite Web) — By rolling out Ingress to developers at I/O, Google hopes to show how mobile, location, multi-player and augmented reality functions can be integrated into developer application offerings. In that way, Ingress becomes a kind of “how-to” template to developers looking to create vibrant new offerings for Android games and apps. (via Mike Loukides)
  2. Nanoscribe Micro-3D Printerin contrast to stereolithography (SLA), the resolution is between 1 and 2 orders of magnitude higher: Feature sizes in the order of 1 µm and less are standard. (via BoingBoing)
  3. ThingpunkThe problem of the persistence of these traditional values is that they prevent us from addressing the most pressing design questions of the digital era: How can we create these forms of beauty and fulfill this promise of authenticity within the large and growing portions of our lives that are lived digitally? Or, conversely, can we learn to move past these older ideas of value, to embrace the transience and changeability offered by the digital as virtues in themselves? Thus far, instead of approaching these (extremely difficult) questions directly, traditional design thinking has lead us to avoid them by trying to make our digital things more like physical things (building in artificial scarcity, designing them skeumorphically, etc.) and by treating the digital as a supplemental add-on to primarily physical devices and experiences (the Internet of Things, digital fabrication).
  4. Kickstarter and NPRThe internet turns everything into public radio. There’s a truth here about audience-supported media and the kinds of money-extraction systems necessary to beat freeloading in a medium that makes money-collection hard and freeloading easy.

April 01 2013

Four short links: 1 April 2013

  1. MLDemosan open-source visualization tool for machine learning algorithms created to help studying and understanding how several algorithms function and how their parameters affect and modify the results in problems of classification, regression, clustering, dimensionality reduction, dynamical systems and reward maximization. (via Mark Alen)
  2. kiln (GitHub) — open source extensible on-device debugging framework for iOS apps.
  3. Industrial Internet — the O’Reilly report on the industrial Internet of things is out. Prasad suggests an illustration: for every car with a rain sensor today, there are more than 10 that don’t have one. Instead of an optical sensor that turns on windshield wipers when it sees water, imagine the human in the car as a sensor — probably somewhat more discerning than the optical sensor in knowing what wiper setting is appropriate. A car could broadcast its wiper setting, along with its location, to the cloud. “Now you’ve got what you might call a rain API — two machines talking, mediated by a human being,” says Prasad. It could alert other cars to the presence of rain, perhaps switching on headlights automatically or changing the assumptions that nearby cars make about road traction.
  4. Unique in the Crowd: The Privacy Bounds of Human Mobility (PDF, Nature) — We study fifteen months of human mobility data for one and a half million individuals and find that human mobility traces are highly unique. In fact, in a dataset where the location of an individual is specified hourly, and with a spatial resolution equal to that given by the carrier’s antennas, four spatio-temporal points are enough to uniquely identify 95% of the individuals. We coarsen the data spatially and temporally to find a formula for the uniqueness of human mobility traces given their resolution and the available outside information. This formula shows that the uniqueness of mobility traces decays approximately as the 1/10 power of their resolution. Hence, even coarse datasets provide little anonymity. These findings represent fundamental constraints to an individual’s privacy and have important implications for the design of frameworks and institutions dedicated to protect the privacy of individuals. As Edd observed, “You are a unique snowflake, after all.” (via Alasdair Allan)

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.

February 28 2013

Four short links: 28 February 2013

  1. Myth of the Free Internet (The Atlantic) — equity of access is an important issue, but this good point is marred by hanging it off the problematic (beer? speech? downloads?) “free”. I’m on the council of InternetNZ whose mission is to protect and promote the open and uncaptureable Internet. (A concept so good we had to make up a word for it)
  2. Periodic Table of the SmartPhone (PDF, big) — from Scientific American article on Rare Earth Minerals in the Smartphone comes a link to this neat infographic showing where rare earth elements are used in the iPhone. (via Om Malik)
  3. CrazyFlie Nano Preorders19g, 9cm x 9cm, 20min charge time for 7m flight time on this nano-quadrocopter. (via Wired)
  4. Changing Scientific Publishing (The Economist) — Nature buys an alternative journal publisher (30 titles in 14 scientific fields), which comes with an 80k-member social network for scientists. Macmillan are a clever bunch. (O’Reilly runs Science Foo Camp with Macmillan’s Digital Sciences and Google)

February 11 2013

Four short links: 11 February 2013

  1. How Virtual Fences Will Transform Rural America (The Atlantic) — When it comes to managing animals, every conventional fence that I have ever built has been in the wrong place the next year.
  2. Stately — a font of states which mesh together, so you can style individual states in CSS. Clever! (via Andy Baio)
  3. Code Triage — mails you a todo from your favourite Github projects. Interesting to see (a) what happens once there’s an easy way to access things like issues across multiple projects; and (b) what a lightweight hack it is for increasing participation. What small things could you send out each day, something different to each person, that’d help you make progress? Hm.
  4. MIT’s Health and Wellness Hack Day — 80 participants, two weeks. Good writeup in Fast Company. The focus here is on producing commercially viable products.
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