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July 16 2013

Four short links: 16 July 2013

  1. Pete Warden on SensorsWe’re all carrying little networked laboratories in our pockets. You see a photo. I see millions of light-sensor readings at an exact coordinate on the earth’s surface with a time resolution down to the millisecond. The future is combining all these signals into new ways of understanding the world, like this real-time stream of atmospheric measurements.
  2. Quine RelayThis is a Ruby program that generates Scala program that generates Scheme program that generates …(through 50 languages)… REXX program that generates the original Ruby code again.
  3. Celloa GNU99 C library which brings higher level programming to C. Interfaces allow for structured design, Duck Typing allows for generic functions, Exceptions control error handling, Constructors/Destructors aid memory management, Syntactic Sugar increases readability.
  4. The Meeting (John Birmingham) — satirising the Wall Street Journal’s meeting checklist advice.

April 10 2013

Four short links: 10 April 2013

  1. HyperLapse — this won the Internet for April. Everyone else can go home. Check out this unbelievable video and source is available.
  2. Housing Simulator — NZ’s largest city is consulting on its growth plan, and includes a simulator so you can decide where the growth to house the hundreds of thousands of predicted residents will come from. Reminds me of NPR’s Budget Hero. Notice that none of the levers control immigration or city taxes to make different cities attractive or unattractive. Growth is a given and you’re left trying to figure out which green fields to pave.
  3. Converting To and From Google Map Tile Coordinates in PostGIS (Pete Warden) — Google Maps’ system of power-of-two tiles has become a defacto standard, widely used by all sorts of web mapping software. I’ve found it handy to use as a caching scheme for our data, but the PostGIS calls to use it were getting pretty messy, so I wrapped them up in a few functions. Code on github.
  4. So You Want to Build A Connected Sensor Device? (Google Doc) — The purpose of this document is to provide an overview of infrastructure, options, and tradeoffs for the parts of the data ecosystem that deal with generating, storing, transmitting, and sharing data. In addition to providing an overview, the goal is to learn what the pain points are, so we can address them. This is a collaborative document drafted for the purpose of discussion and contribution at Sensored Meetup #10. (via Rachel Kalmar)

February 26 2013

Four short links: 26 Feb 2013

  1. School of Data — free online courses around data science and visualization.
  2. libshorttext — classify and analyse short-text of things like titles, questions, sentences, and short messages. MIT-style open source license, Python and C++ source.
  3. Letterboxd — a site for movie lovers from Kiwi Foo alums. I love people who build experiences to help people express their love of things.
  4. RadioBlocks and SimpleMesh — mesh networking for Arduino.

January 08 2013

The inevitability of smart dust

it's not fog... it's smoke... by Guilherme Jófili, on Flickrit's not fog... it's smoke... by Guilherme Jófili, on FlickrI’ve put forward my opinion that desktop computing is dead on more than one occasion, and been soundly put in my place as a result almost every time. “Of course desktop computing isn’t dead — look at the analogy you’re drawing between the so called death of the mainframe and the death of the desktop. Mainframes aren’t dead, there are still plenty of them around!”

Well, yes, that’s arguable. But most people, everyday people, don’t know that. It doesn’t matter if the paradigm survives if it’s not culturally acknowledged. Mainframe computing lives on, buried behind the scenes, backstage. As a platform it performs well, in its own niche. No doubt desktop computing is destined to live on, but similarly behind the scenes, and it’s already fading into the background.

The desktop will increasingly belong to niche users. Developers need them, at least for now and for the foreseeable future. But despite the prevalent view in Silicon Valley, the world does not consist of developers. Designers need screen real estate, but buttons and the entire desktop paradigm are a hack; I can foresee the day when the computing designers use will not even vaguely resemble today’s desktop machines.

For the rest of the world? Computing will almost inevitably diffuse out into our environment. Today’s mobile devices are transition devices, artifacts of our stage of technology progress. They too will eventually fade into their own niche. Replacement technologies, or rather user interfaces, like Google’s Project Glass are already on the horizon, and that’s just the beginning.

People never wanted computers; they wanted what computers could do for them. Almost inevitably the amount computers can do for us on their own, behind our backs, is increasing. But to do that, they need data, and to get data they need sensors. So the diffusion of general purpose computing out into our environment is inevitable.

Everyday objects are already becoming smarter. But in 10 years’ time, every piece of clothing you own, every piece of jewelry, and every thing you carry with you will be measuring, weighing and calculating. In 10 years, the world — your world — will be full of sensors.

The sensors you carry with you may well generate more data every second, both for you and about you, than previous generations did about themselves during the course of their entire lives. We will be surrounded by a cloud of data. While the phrase “data exhaust” has already entered the lexicon, we’re still essentially at the banging-the-rocks-together stage. You haven’t seen anything yet …

The end point of this evolution is already clear: it’s called smart dust. General purpose computing, sensors, and wireless networking, all bundled up in millimeter-scale sensor motes drifting in the air currents, flecks of computing power, settling on your skin, ingested, will be monitoring you inside and out, sensing and reporting — both for you and about you.

Almost inevitably the amount of data that this sort of technology will generate will vastly exceed anything that can be filtered, and distilled, into a remote database. The phrase “data exhaust” will no longer be a figure of speech; it’ll be a literal statement. Your data will exist in a cloud, a halo of devices, tasked to provide you with sensor and computing support as you walk along, calculating constantly, consulting with each other, predicting, anticipating your needs. You’ll be surrounded by a web of distributed sensors and computing.

Makes desktop computing look sort of dull, doesn’t it?

Photo: it’s not fog… it’s smoke… by Guilherme Jófili, on Flickr

Related:

October 02 2012

Four short links: 2 October 2012

  1. Print Your Own 3D Parts (Wired) — Teenage Engineering, makers of a popular synthesizer known as the OP-1, posted the 3-D design files of various components on digital object repository Shapeways, and is instructing 3-D printer-equipped users to print them out instead of buying them.
  2. Legacy Media Demanding Surveillance In ISPsmusic rights groups including the Recording Industry Association of Japan say they have developed a system capable of automatically detecting unauthorized music uploads before they even hit the Internet. But to do that they need to be able to spy on Internet users’ connections and compare data being transferred with digital fingerprints held in an external database. That can only be achieved with the assistance of Internet service providers who would be asked to integrate the system deeply into their networks. It’s Japan for now …
  3. Sensors for Industrial Espionage (NPR) — Genscape also places electromagnetic monitors beneath the power lines running into the Cushing tank farms to measure their power usage. This gives them an idea of how much oil is being pumped into and out of Cushing.
  4. TypeScript — Apache2 licensed typed superset of JavaScript that compiles to plain JavaScript.

September 24 2012

Four short links: 24 September 2012

  1. Open Monograph Pressan open source software platform for managing the editorial workflow required to see monographs, edited volumes and, scholarly editions through internal and external review, editing, cataloguing, production, and publication. OMP will operate, as well, as a press website with catalog, distribution, and sales capacities. (via OKFN)
  2. Sensing Activity in Royal Shakespeare Theatre (NLTK) — sensing activity in the theatre, for graphing. Raw data available. (via Infovore)
  3. Why Journalists Love Reddit (GigaOM) — “Stories appear on Reddit, then half a day later they’re on Buzzfeed and Gawker, then they’re on the Washington Post, The Guardian and the New York Times. It’s a pretty established pattern.”
  4. Relatively Prime: The Toolbox — Kickstarted podcasts on mathematics. (via BoingBoing)
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