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February 25 2014

January 06 2014

Four short links: 6 January 2014

  1. 4043-byte 8086 Emulator manages to implement most of the hardware in a 1980’s era IBM-PC using a few hundred fewer bits than the total number of transistors used to implement the original 8086 CPU. Entry in the obfuscated C contest.
  2. Hacking the CES Scavenger HuntAt which point—now you have your own iBeacon hardware—you can just go ahead and set the UUID, Major and Minor numbers of your beacon to each of the CES scavenger hunt beacon identities in turn, and then bring your beacon into range of your cell phone running which should be running the CES mobile app. Once you’ve shown the app all of the beacons, you’ll have “finished” the scavenger hunt and can claim your prize. Of course doing that isn’t legal. It’s called fraud and will probably land you in serious trouble. iBeacons have great possibilities, but with great possibilities come easy hacks when they’re misused.
  3. Filtering: Seven Principles — JP Rangaswami laying down some basic principles on which filters should be built. 1. Filters should be built such that they are selectable by subscriber, not publisher. I think the basic is: 0: Customers should be able to run their own filters across the information you’re showing them.
  4. Tremor-Correcting Steadicam — brilliant use of technology. Sensors + microcontrollers + actuators = a genuinely better life. Beats figuring out better algorithms to pimp eyeballs to Brands You Love. (via BoingBoing)

December 24 2013

Four short links: 24 December 2013

  1. Arduino Robot — for all your hacking needs.
  2. LIDAR for Smartphones (DIYdrones) — The device attaches to the back of a smartphone and combines a built-in laser range finder, 3D compass and Bluetooth chip with the phone’s camera and GPS.
  3. Bridge Inspection Robot Equipping Magnets — 7.8 inches/second, magnets, can scuttle up walls and along ceilings.
  4. OpenEmu — nice-looking emulator framework for OS X. Make your Christmas present a trip back in time.

December 02 2013

Four short links: 2 December 2013

  1. CalTech Machine Learning Video Library — a pile of video introductions to different machine learning concepts.
  2. Awesome Pokemon Hack — each inventory item has a number associated with it, they are kept at a particular memory location, and there’s a glitch in the game that executes code at that location so … you can program by assembling items and then triggering the glitch. SO COOL.
  3. Drone Footage of Bangkok Protests — including water cannons.
  4. The Mature Optimization Handbook — free, well thought out, and well written. My favourite line: In exchange for that saved space, you have created a hidden dependency on clairvoyance.

October 25 2013

Four short links: 25 October 2013

  1. Seagate Kinetic Storage — In the words of Geoff Arnold: The physical interconnect to the disk drive is now Ethernet. The interface is a simple key-value object oriented access scheme, implemented using Google Protocol Buffers. It supports key-based CRUD (create, read, update and delete); it also implements third-party transfers (“transfer the objects with keys X, Y and Z to the drive with IP address 1.2.3.4”). Configuration is based on DHCP, and everything can be authenticated and encrypted. The system supports a variety of key schemas to make it easy for various storage services to shard the data across multiple drives.
  2. Masters of Their Universe (Guardian) — well-written and fascinating story of the creation of the Elite game (one founder of which went on to make the Raspberry Pi). The classic action game of the early 1980s – Defender, Pac Man – was set in a perpetual present tense, a sort of arcade Eden in which there were always enemies to zap or gobble, but nothing ever changed apart from the score. By letting the player tool up with better guns, Bell and Braben were introducing a whole new dimension, the dimension of time.
  3. Micropolar (github) — A tiny polar charts library made with D3.js.
  4. Introduction to R (YouTube) — 21 short videos from Google.

October 10 2013

Four short links: 10 October 2013

  1. ActiveLit — interactive fiction as literacy tool. (via Text Adventures blog)
  2. Your Car is About to go Open Source (ComputerWorld) — an open-source IVI operating system would create a reusable platform consisting of core services, middleware and open application layer interfaces that eliminate the redundant efforts to create separate proprietary systems. Leaving them to differentiate the traditional way: ad-retargeting and spyware.
  3. The Digital Networked Textbook: Is It Any Good? (Dan Meyer) — “if you were hundreds of feet below the surface of the Earth, in a concrete bunker without any kind of Internet access, is the curriculum any different?”
  4. Full Screen Mario — web reimplementation of original Mario Brothers, with random level generator and a level editor, source on github. (via Andy Baio)

October 07 2013

Four short links: 7 October 2013

  1. The Thing Systemconnects to Things in your home, whether those things are media players such as the Sonos or the Apple TV, your Nest thermostat, your INSTEON home control system, or your Philips Hue lightbulbs — whether your things are connected together via Wi-Fi, USB or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). The steward will find them and bring them together so they can talk to one another and perform magic.
  2. The Eye Tribe — $99 eye-tracker with SDK.
  3. Line Mode — CERN emulator for the original web client. I remember coding for this, and hacking new features into it. Roar says the dinosaur, in 80×24 pixelated glory.
  4. 2M Person Internet Filter — (BBC) China apparently employs 2 million people to read Weibo and other Internet content sites, to identify critical opinions. That’s 40% of my country’s population. Crikey.

September 23 2013

Four short links: 23 September 2013

  1. Together.js — Mozilla-produced library for in-page collaboration.
  2. This Complex and Tragic Event Supports My Own View (Vaughan Bell) — pretty much every tactic he describes, you will see deployed daily.
  3. Natalie Silvanovich — a security engineer who has extracted and decompiled the code (running on a 6502!) in the heart of a Tamagotchi, and documenting it. Formidable!
  4. Science Fiction to Science Fabrication — MIT course: This class ties science fiction with speculative/critical design as a means to encourage the ethical and thoughtful design of new technologies. (via Beta Knowledge)

September 09 2013

Four short links: 11 September 2013

  1. On the NSA — intelligent unpacking of what the NSA crypto-weakening allegations mean.
  2. Overview of the 2013 OWASP Top 10 — rundown of web evil to avoid. (via Ecryption)
  3. Easy 6502 — teaches 6502 assembler, with an emulator built into the book. This is what programming non-fiction books will look like in the future.
  4. Kochiku — distributing automated test suites for faster validation in continuous integration.

September 02 2013

Four short links: 3 September 2013

  1. Achieving Rapid Response Times in Large Online Services (PDF) — slides from a talk by Jeff Dean on fanout architectures. (via Alex Dong)
  2. JS MESS — porting the stunning MESS ultimate emulator to Javascript. Interesting challenges like Chrome currently has a hardcoded limit of 32,767 variables, and Firefox has a point at which it hits the CTRL-FUCKIT button and drops the mic.
  3. Go Ahead, Mess with Texas Instruments (The Atlantic) — School typically assumes that answers fall neatly into categories of “right” and “wrong.” As a conventional tool for computing “right” answers, calculators often legitimize this idea; the calculator solves problems, gives answers. But once an endorsed, conventional calculator becomes a subversive, programmable computer it destabilizes this polarity. Programming undermines the distinction between “right” and “wrong” by emphasizing the fluidity between the two. In programming, there is no “right” answer. Sure, a program might not compile or run, but making it offers multiple pathways to success, many of which are only discovered through a series of generative failures. Programming does not reify “rightness;” instead, it orients the programmer toward intentional reading, debugging, and refining of language to ensure clarity.
  4. When A Spouse Puts On Google Glass (NY Times) — Google Glass made me realize how comparably social mobile phones are. [...] People gather around phones to watch YouTube videos or look at a funny tweet together or jointly analyze a text from a friend. With Glass, there was no such sharing.

August 12 2013

Four short links: 13 August 2013

  1. How Things Work: Summer Games Edition — admire the real craftsmanship in those early games. This has a great description of using raster interrupts to extend the number of sprites, and how and why double-buffering was expensive in terms of memory.
  2. IAMA: Etsy Ops Team (Reddit) — the Etsy ops team does an IAMA on Reddit. Everything from uptime to this sage advice about fluid data: A nice 18 year old Glenfiddich scales extremely well, especially if used in an active active configuration with a glass in each hand. The part of Scotland where Glenfiddich is located also benefits from near-permanent exposure to the Cloud (several clouds in fact). (via Nelson Minar)
  3. Who Learns What When You Log Into Facebook (Tim Bray) — nice breakdown of who learns what and how, part of Tim’s work raising the qualify of conversation about online federated identity.
  4. lolcommits — takes a photo of the programmer on each git commit. (via Nelson Minar)

July 26 2013

Four short links: 26 July 2013

  1. Good UI — easily digested tips for improving UIs. (via BERG London)
  2. Mapping Millions of Dots — tips like The other thing that goes along with this brightness scaling is to draw fewer dots at lower zoom levels. By the time you get most of a continent on the screen, the dots are so much smaller than pixels and there are so many of them to draw, that it looks the same and is much faster if you draw half as many dots at twice the brightness apiece. (via Flowing Data)
  3. 118g 10x Zoom Camera for Drones — little less than 800×600 resolution. (via DIY Drones)
  4. Creating Interactive Fiction with Inform7 (Amazon) — all you need to write your own Zork, or even do better. With foreword by my hero (I squee like fanboy when I remember meeting him at the first Foo Camp) Don Woods. Yeah, Colossal Cave Adventure Don Woods. WIN. (via Marshall Tenner Winter)

June 13 2013

Four short links: 13 June 2013

  1. The Unengageables (Dan Meyer) — They signed their “didactic contract” years and years ago. They signed it. Their math teachers signed it. The agreement says that the teacher comes into class, tells them what they’re going to learn, and shows them three examples of it. In return, the students take what their teacher showed them and reproduce it twenty times before leaving class. Then they go home with an assignment to reproduce it twenty more times. Then here you come, Ms. I-Just-Got-Back-From-A-Workshop, and you want to change the agreement? Yeah, you’ll hear from their attorney. Applies to management as much as to teaching.
  2. Fixing SigninThe general principle can be stated simply, in two parts: first, give users a trust-worthy way to identify themselves. Second, do so with as little information as possible, because users don’t want to (and simply can’t) remember things like passwords in a secure way. (via Tim Bray)
  3. Retro Gaming with Raspberry Pi (Adafruit) — finally, a clear incentive for kids to work through the frustration of setting up their own Linux box.
  4. Mieko Haire — Apple’s fictious demo lady. Or is she fictitious? This is a new aesthetic-esque glitch, but while most glitches are glitches because you see something that doesn’t exist, this is glitchy because the fictions are actual people. Ok, maybe I need to lay off the peyote.

June 11 2013

Four short links: 10 June 2013

  1. Anatomy of Two Memes — comparing the spread of Gangnam Style to Harlem Shake. Memes are like currencies: you need to balance accessibility (or ‘money supply’) and inflation. Gangnam Style became globally accessible through top-down mainstream sources (High Popularity), but this gave it high social inflation so it wasn’t valuable to share (Low Shareability). However, scale sustained its long term growth. Harlem Shake was not as easily accessible because it was driven more by small communities (Low Popularity), but for the same reason, being less easily accessible, it remained highly valuable (High Shareability). Lack of scale was what made Harlem Shake growth short-term and eventually killed it prematurely. Caution: contains fauxconomics.
  2. Handedness (Github) — determine left or right handedness from pinch gesture.
  3. Innovation Cartography — video of a talk by Richard Jefferson of Cambia’s lens, on the imperative to innovate held at the Skoll World Forum on Social Enterprise. His story of maritime cartography (starts around 5m50s) is awesome.
  4. Statically Recompiling NES Games into Native Executables with LLVM and Go — or “crack for Nat” as I like to translate that title.

April 24 2013

Four short links: 25 April 2013

  1. Alcatraz — package manager for iOS. (via Hacker News)
  2. Scarfolk Council — clever satire, the concept being a UK town stuck in 1979. Tupperware urns, “put old people down at birth”. The 1979 look is gorgeous. (via BoingBoing)
  3. Stop Designing Fragile Web APIsIt is possible to design your API in a manner that reduces its fragility and increases its resilience to change. The key is to design your API around its intent. In the SOA world, this is also referred to as business-orientation.
  4. @life100yearsago (Twitter) — account that tweets out fragments of New Zealand journals and newspapers and similar historic documents, as part of celebrating the surprising and the commonplace during WWI. My favourite so far: “Wizard” stones aeroplane. (via NDF)

March 26 2013

Four short links: 26 March 2013

  1. Patent on Medical Trial Design to Reduce Placebo Effectdrug companies say these failures are happening not because their drugs are ineffective, but because placebos have recently become more effective in clinical trials. [...] The whole idea that placebo effect is getting in the way of producing meaningful results is repugnant, I think, to anyone with scientific training. What’s even more repugnant, however, is that Fava’s group didn’t stop with a mere paper in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. They went on to apply for, and obtain, U.S. patents on SPCD. (via Ben Goldacre)
  2. OpenMalaria (Google Code) — an open source C++ program for simulating malaria epidemiology and the impacts on that epidemiology of interventions against malaria. It is based on microsimulations of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in humans, originally developed for simulating malaria vaccines. (via Victoria Stodden)
  3. Pricing Experiments You Might Not Know But Can Learn From — compendium of ideas and experiments for pricing.
  4. Retrominer — mining Bitcoins on a NES. I’m delighted by the conceit, and noticing that Bitcoin is now sufficiently part of the zeitgeist as to feature in playful hacks.

March 18 2013

Four short links: 18 March 2013

  1. A Quantitative Literary History of 2,958 Nineteenth-Century British Novels: The Semantic Cohort Method (PDF) — This project was simultaneously an experiment in developing quantitative and computational methods for tracing changes in literary language. We wanted to see how far quantifiable features such as word usage could be pushed toward the investigation of literary history. Could we leverage quantitative methods in ways that respect the nuance and complexity we value in the humanities? To this end, we present a second set of results, the techniques and methodological lessons gained in the course of designing and running this project. Even litcrit becoming a data game.
  2. Easy6502get started writing 6502 assembly language. Fun way to get started with low-level coding.
  3. How Analytics Really Work at a Small Startup (Pete Warden) — The key for us is that we’re using the information we get primarily for decision-making (should we build out feature X?) rather than optimization (how can we improve feature X?). Nice rundown of tools and systems he uses, with plug for KissMetrics.
  4. webgl-heatmap (GitHub) — a JavaScript library for high performance heatmap display.

March 13 2013

Four short links: 13 March 2013

  1. What Tim Berners-Lee Doesn’t Know About HTML DRM (Guardian) — Cory Doctorow lays it out straight. HTML DRM is a bad idea, no two ways. The future of the Web is the future of the world, because everything we do today involves the net and everything we’ll do tomorrow will require it. Now it proposes to sell out that trust, on the grounds that Big Content will lock up its “content” in Flash if it doesn’t get a veto over Web-innovation. [...] The W3C has a duty to send the DRM-peddlers packing, just as the US courts did in the case of digital TV.
  2. Visualizing the Topical Structure of the Medical Sciences: A Self-Organizing Map Approach (PLOSone) — a high-resolution visualization of the medical knowledge domain using the self-organizing map (SOM) method, based on a corpus of over two million publications.
  3. What Teens Get About The Internet That Parents Don’t (The Atlantic) — the Internet has been a lifeline for self-directed learning and connection to peers. In our research, we found that parents more often than not have a negative view of the role of the Internet in learning, but young people almost always have a positive one. (via Clive Thompson)
  4. Portable C64 — beautiful piece of C64 hardware hacking to embed a screen and battery in it. (via Hackaday)

January 21 2013

Four short links: 21 January 2013

  1. School District Builds Own SoftwareBy taking a not-for-profit approach and using freely available open-source tools, Saanich officials expect to develop openStudent for under $5 million, with yearly maintenance pegged at less than $1 million. In contrast, the B.C. government says it spent $97 million over the past 10 years on the B.C. enterprise Student Information System — also known as BCeSIS — a provincewide system already slated for replacement.
  2. Giving a Presentation From an Apple ][A co-worker used an iPad to give a presentation. I thought: why take a machine as powerful as an early Cray to do something as low-overhead as display slides? Why not use something with much less computing power? From this asoft_presenter was born. The code is a series of C programs that read text files and generate a large Applesoft BASIC program that actually presents the slides. (via Jim Stogdill)
  3. AirBnB TechTalks — impressive collection of interesting talks, part of the AirBnB techtalks series.
  4. Gawker’s Realtime Dashboard — this is not just technically and visually cool, but also food for thought about what they’re choosing to measure and report on in real time (new vs returning split, social engagement, etc.). Does that mean they hope to be able to influence those variables in real time? (via Alex Howard)

December 18 2012

Four short links: 18 December 2012

  1. Credibility Ranking of Tweets During High Impact Events (PDF) — interesting research. Situational awareness information is information that leads to gain in the knowledge or update about details of the event, like the location, people aff*ected, causes, etc. We found that on average, 30% content about an event, provides situational awareness information about the event, while 14% was spam. (via BoingBoing)
  2. The Commodore 64 — interesting that Chuck Peddle (who designed the 6502) and Bob Yannes (who designed the SID chip) are still alive. This article safely qualifies as Far More Than You Ever Thought You Wanted To Know About The C64 but it is fascinating. The BASIC housed in its ROM (“BASIC 2.0″) was painfully antiquated. It was actually the same BASIC that Tramiel had bought from Microsoft for the original PET back in 1977. Bill Gates, in a rare display of naivete, sold him the software outright for a flat fee of $10,000, figuring Commodore would have to come back soon for another, better version. He obviously didn’t know Jack Tramiel very well. Ironically, Commodore did have on hand a better BASIC 4.0 they had used in some of the later PET models, but Tramiel nixed using it in the Commodore 64 because it would require a more expensive 16 K rather than 8 K of ROM chips to house.
  3. The Performance Calendar — an article each day about speed. (via Steve Souders)
  4. Mr China Comes to America (The Atlantic) — long piece on the return of manufacturing to America, featuring Foo camper Liam Casey.
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