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January 23 2014

Four short links: 23 January 2014

  1. Microsoft Research Adopts Open Access Policy for Publications — +1
  2. Light Table is Open Source — this matters because these experiments in semantic interactivity inform technical UIs of the future, and the more ubiquitous this code is then the more effect it can have and the sooner we can have the future.
  3. The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Will Amaze and Astound You (New Yorker) — Berger and Milkman found that two features predictably determined an article’s success: how positive its message was and how much it excited its reader. The obvious part is that we develop immunity to things that catch our attention: our brains are well-developed systems for filtering, and the only constant is that advertisers will need novelty.
  4. The Story of Holacracy’s Founder (Quartz) — background on the interesting flat organisation culture system that’s gaining traction in startups.

August 27 2013

Burning Man becomes a hot spot for tech titans - SFGate

Burning Man becomes a hot spot for tech titans - SFGate
http://www.sfgate.com/style/article/Burning-Man-becomes-a-hot-spot-for-tech-titans-4756482.php

http://ww2.hdnux.com/photos/07/55/77/2023373/9/628x471.jpg

Burning Man, which gets under way Monday, is best known as a hedonistic weeklong art festival 110 miles north of Reno on a dry lake called the playa. But almost imperceptibly over the last few years, it has become a place where CEOs, venture capitalists and startuppers can network (while wearing, at most, swimsuits). While neither money, branding nor barter are allowed, suddenly companies are getting funded, co-founders are meeting, and people are getting jobs right on the playa. Among the 68,000 costumed and dust-covered attendees are some unexpected names - Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg goes. So do Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. And Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk. Anarchists parking Priuses next to ramshackle tents and tarps are now sharing the sand with wealthy techies arriving, via private jets, at luxury desert camps fully staffed with cooks, masseuses and assistants.

#silicon_valley #californie #startups
et (par extension ?) #silicon_army

August 05 2013

Four short links: 5 August 2013

  1. EP245 Downloads — class materials from the Udacity “How to Build a Startup” course.
  2. scrz.io — easy container deployment.
  3. The Factoring Dead: Preparing for the Cryptopocalypse — how RSA and Diffie-Helman crypto might be useless in the next few years.
  4. How to Design Programs — 2ed text is a work-in-progress.

May 20 2013

April 26 2013

The makers of hardware innovation

Chris Anderson wrote Makers and went from editor-in-chief of Wired to CEO of 3D Robotics, making his hobby his side job and then making it his main job.

A new executive at Motorola Mobility, a division of Google, said that Google seeks to “googlify” hardware. By that he meant that devices would be inexpensive, if not free, and that the data created or accessed by them would be open. Motorola wants to build a truly hackable cellphone, one that makers might have ideas about what to do with it.

Regular hardware startup meetups, which started in San Francisco and New York, are now held in Boston, Pittsburgh, Austin, Chicago, Dallas and Detroit. I’m sure there are other American cities. Melbourne, Stockholm and Toronto are also organizing hardware meetups. Hardware entrepreneurs want to find each other and learn from each other.

Hardware-oriented incubators and accelerators are launching on both coasts in America, and in China.

The market for personal 3D printers and 3D printing services has really taken off. 3D printer startups continue to launch, and all of them seem to have trouble keeping up with demand. MakerBot is out raising money. Shapeways raised $30 million in a new round of financing announced this week.

Makers are discovering that the Raspberry PI, developed for educational uses, can fit into some interesting commercial niches.

The marketing-friendly phrase, “Internet of Things,” is beginning to mean something, with new boards such as Pinoccio and Electric Imp.

Design software is getting better, and less expensive, if not free, although the developers of TinkerCad announced that they were abandoning it.

And an 11-year old maker, Super Awesome Sylvia, was recognized at the White House Science Fair, exhibiting a watercolor robot that will soon be a kit sold through Evil Mad Science.

“Hardware is the new software” reported Wired and the New York Times. Joi Ito of the MIT Media Lab said it was one of the top trends to watch in 2013.

This year’s Hardware Innovation Workshop, held May 14-15 at the College of San Mateo in San Mateo, Calif., during the week leading up to Maker Faire Bay Area, will provide a deep dive into the new world of hardware startups. You’ll learn what VCs are thinking about hardware startups, which startups got funding and why. You’ll meet dozens of newly formed startups that haven’t launched yet. You’ll also learn from maker case studies and from the founders of hardware incubators.

Among our speakers are:

  • Chris Anderson, CEO of 3D Robotics and founder of DIY Drones
  • Massimo Banzi, co-founder of Arduino
  • Robert Faludi, collaborative strategy leader at Digi International
  • Bunnie Huang, co-founder of Chumby
  • Ben Kaufman, founder and CEO of Quirky
  • Scott Miller, CEO and co-founder of Dragon Innovation
  • Alice Taylor, founder, Makie Lab
  • John Park, COO/GM, AQS
  • Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk
  • Ted Hall, CEO of ShopBot

Learn more about the Hardware Innovation Workshop. O’Reilly Radar readers can register using the code “RADAR13″ and save $100.

April 24 2013

Four short links: 30 April 2013

  1. China = 41% of World’s Internet Attack Traffic (Bloomberg) — numbers are from Akamai’s research. Verizon Communications said in a separate report that China accounted for 96 percent of all global espionage cases it investigated. One interpretation is that China is a rogue Internet state, but another is that we need to harden up our systems. (via ZD Net)
  2. Open Source Cannot Live on Donations Alone — excellent summary of some of the sustainability questions facing open source projects.
  3. China Startups: The Gold Rush (Steve Blank) — dense fact- and insight-filled piece. Not only is the Chinese ecosystem completely different but also the consumer demographics and user expectations are equally unique. 70% of Chinese Internet users are under 30. Instead of email, they’ve grown up with QQ instant messages. They’re used to using the web and increasingly the mobile web for everything, commerce, communication, games, etc. (They also probably haven’t seen a phone that isn’t mobile.) By the end of 2012, there were 85 million iOS and 160 million Android devices in China. And they were increasing at an aggregate 33 million IOS and Android activations per month.
  4. Calculating Rolling Cohort Retention with SQL — just what it says. (via Max Lynch)

April 12 2013

Four short links: 12 April 2013

  1. Wikileaks ProjectK Code (Github) — open-sourced map and graph modules behind the Wikileaks code serving Kissinger-era cables. (via Journalism++)
  2. Plan Your Digital Afterlife With Inactive Account Manageryou can choose to have your data deleted — after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. Or you can select trusted contacts to receive data from some or all of the following services: +1s; Blogger; Contacts and Circles; Drive; Gmail; Google+ Profiles, Pages and Streams; Picasa Web Albums; Google Voice and YouTube. Before our systems take any action, we’ll first warn you by sending a text message to your cellphone and email to the secondary address you’ve provided. (via Chris Heathcote)
  3. Leo Caillard: Art GamesCaillard’s images show museum patrons interacting with priceless paintings the way someone might browse through slides in a personal iTunes library on a device like an iPhone or MacBook. Playful and thought-provoking. (via Beta Knowledge)
  4. Lanyrd Pro — helping companies keep track of which events their engineers speak at, so they can avoid duplication and have maximum opportunity to promote it. First paid product from ETecher and Foo Simon Willison’s startup.

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.

February 25 2013

Four short links: 25 February 2013

  1. Xenotext — Sci Foo Camper Christian Bök is closer to his goal of “living poetry”: A short stanza enciphered into a string of DNA and injected into an “unkillable” bacterium, Bök’s poem is designed to trigger the micro-organism to create a corresponding protein that, when decoded, is a verse created by the organism. In other words, the harmless bacterium, Deinococcus radiodurans (known as an extremophile because of its ability to survive freezing, scorching, or the vacuum of outer space), will be a poetic bug.
  2. Notes on Distributed Systems for Young Bloods — why distributed systems are different. Coordination is very hard. Avoid coordinating machines wherever possible. This is often described as “horizontal scalability”. The real trick of horizontal scalability is independence – being able to get data to machines such that communication and consensus between those machines is kept to a minimum. Every time two machines have to agree on something, the service is harder to implement. Information has an upper limit to the speed it can travel, and networked communication is flakier than you think, and your idea of what constitutes consensus is probably wrong.
  3. Lemnos Labs — hardware incubator in SF. (via Jim Stogdill)
  4. OLPC Built the Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer — Neil Stephenson imagined it, OLPC built it. Science fiction is a hugely powerful focusing device for creativity and imagination. (via Matt Jones)

February 15 2013

Four short links: 15 February 2013

  1. Ed Startups in a Nutshell (Dan Meyer) — I couldn’t agree with Dan more: The Internet is like a round pipe. Lecture videos and machine-scored exercises are like round pegs. They pass easily from one end of the pipe to the other. But there are square and triangular pegs: student-student and teacher-student relationships, arguments, open problems, performance tasks, projects, modeling, and rich assessments. These pegs, right now, do not flow through that round pipe well at all.
  2. 3D Printed Portraiture: Past, Present, and Future — impressive collection of 3D scans of museum collections of portraiture. Check out his downloadable design files. (via Bruce Sterling)
  3. Versu — interactive storytelling, with AI and conversation modeling.
  4. Weird Things Found on Taobao — this is what I never ow my head. (via Beta Knowledge)

November 20 2012

Four short links: 20 November 2012

  1. When Transaction Costs CollapseAs OECD researchers reported recently, 99.5 per cent of reciprocal access agreements occur informally without written contracts. Paradoxically, as competition becomes more intense or ”perfect”, it becomes indistinguishable from perfect co-operation – a neat trick demonstrated in economists’ models a century ago. Commentary prompted by an OECD report on Internet Traffic Exchange. (via Laurence Millar)
  2. Faked Research is Endemic in China (New Scientist) — open access promises the unbundling of publishing, quality control, reputation, and recommendation. Reputation systems for science are going to be important: you can’t blacklist an entire country’s researchers. Can you demand reproducibility?
  3. The Hobbit — ambitious very early game, timely to remember as the movie launches. Literally, no two games of The Hobbit are the same. I can see what Milgrom and the others were striving toward: a truly living, dynamic story where anything can happen and where you have to deal with circumstances as they come, on the fly. It’s a staggeringly ambitious, visionary thing to be attempting.
  4. How to Get Startup Ideas (Paul Graham) — The essay is full of highly-quotable apothegms like Live in the future, then build what’s missing and The verb you want to be using with respect to startup ideas is not “think up” but “notice.”

September 24 2012

What caused New York’s startup boom?

Google's New York officeGoogle's New York officeSince the crisis of 2008 New York City’s massive financial sector — the city’s richest economic engine, once seen to have unlimited potential for growth — has languished. In the meantime, attention has turned to its nascent startup sector, home to Foursquare, Tumblr, 10gen, Etsy and Gilt, where VC investment has surged even as it’s been flat in other big U.S. tech centers (PDF).

I’ve started to poke around the tech community here with a view toward eventually publishing a paper on the rise of New York’s startup scene. In my initial conversations, I’ve come up with a few broad questions I’ll focus on, and I’d welcome thoughts from this blog’s legion of smart readers on any of these.

  • How many people in New York’s startup community came from finance, and under what conditions did they make the move? In 2003, Google was a five-year-old, privately-held startup and Bear Stearns was an 80-year-old pillar of the financial sector. Five years later, Google was a pillar of the technical economy and among the world’s biggest companies; Bear Stearns had ceased to exist. Bright quantitatively-minded people who might have pursued finance for its stability and lucre now see that sector as unstable and not necessarily lucrative; its advantage over the technology sector in those respects has disappeared. Joining a 10-person startup is very different from taking a job at Google, but the comparative appeal of the two sectors has dramatically shifted.
  • To what degree have anchor institutions played a role in the New York startup scene? The relationship between Stanford University and Silicon Valley is well-documented; I’d like to figure out who’s producing steady streams of bright technologists in New York. Google’s Chelsea office, opened in 2006, now employs close to 3,000 people, and its alumni include Dennis Crowley, founder of Foursquare. That office is now old enough that it can generate a high volume of spin-offs as Googlers look for new challenges. And Columbia and NYU (and soon a Cornell-Technion consortium) have embraced New York’s startup community.
  • Does New York’s urban fabric make its labor market more liquid? Changing jobs in Silicon Valley can mean an extra 40 minutes on your commute if you have to slog up the 101 during rush hour. New York’s main business districts are much more compact; if you change jobs from a bank in Midtown to a startup on 28th Street, your commute won’t change by more than 10 minutes.
  • What are the dominant practice areas in New York’s tech scene, and how do they relate to the human capital available here? Have refugees from the finance, media and advertising industries brought with them distinctive skills from those areas? How much of the startup community here is targeted at acquiring those industries as clients?
  • What’s the city doing in response to the growth of its tech industry, and what can other cities learn from New York’s model? Other old, established cities like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Washington claim to have robust startup communities. What do these cities have in common, and how have their governments reacted to the emergence of their tech communities? The emergence of a tech startup scene here could be particularly fortunate for New York in light of its dependence on the finance industry (at the peak of the finance boom, the industry contributed 20% and 13% of New York State’s and City’s income tax revenues, respectively; those figures in 2011 were 14% and 7%). To what degree can a city or state government desperate for diversification bring a startup community into existence?

Send along any ideas in the comments below!

September 20 2012

Four short links: 20 September 2012

  1. The Shape of the Internet Has Changed98 percent of internet traffic now consists of content that can be stored on servers. 45% of Internet traffic today is from CDNs, and a handful of them at that, which makes CDNs like Artur Bergman’s fastly super-important. (via Donald Clark)
  2. Be a Good Dictator (Rowan Simpson) — There is no shortage of advice online about how to be a good designer or a good software developer. But what about advice for those who aspire to be good product dictators? Guidance seems pretty thin on the ground. [...] Being a deep expert in just one area is not enough for good dictators. You need to be a polymath living at an intersection.
  3. Hardware is Dead7-inch tablet, Wi-Fi only with all the attributes of a good tablet. Capacitive touchscreen. Snappy processor. Front facing camera. 4GB of internal memory and an expandable memory slot. for USD75. At these levels there is almost no profit margin left in the hardware business. A $45 tablet is cheap enough to be an impulse purchase at the check-out line in Best Buy. A $45 price puts tablets within reach of a whole host of other activities not traditionally associated with computers. (via Steve Bowbrick)
  4. Car Transmissions and Syncromesh (YouTube) — cheesy old Chevy educational movie that does a great job of explaining how manual transmissions work. Such videos were the screencasts for the auto DIY folks. (via Nat Friedman)

September 10 2012

Four short links: 10 September 2012

  1. The Disturbing, Unchecked Rise of the Administrative Subpoena (Wired) — With a federal official’s signature, banks, hospitals, bookstores, telecommunications companies and even utilities and internet service providers — virtually all businesses — are required to hand over sensitive data on individuals or corporations, as long as a government agent declares the information is relevant to an investigation. Low barrier to obtain one, no oversight–the officials aren’t required to keep track of the subpoenas they issue!
  2. jQuery Gantt
  3. (GitHub) — open-source (MIT) jQuery plugin for editing and displaying Gantt charts. Author has written an introductory article to get you started. (via Javascript Weekly)

  4. Black Swan Farming (Paul Graham) — The first time Peter Thiel spoke at YC he drew a Venn diagram that illustrates the situation perfectly. He drew two intersecting circles, one labelled “seems like a bad idea” and the other “is a good idea.” The intersection is the sweet spot for startups.
  5. Learning C with GDB (Hacker School) — hells yes.

September 03 2012

Four short links: 3 September 2012

  1. The Seductive Allure of Edu-Tech Reform (Chris Lehmann) — While it may be seductive to think that rooms of children on computers, each following some computerized instruction at their pace, monitored by school aides, with a handful of teachers around when things get particularly tough is a solution to both the educational and fiscal crisis we find ourselves, we need to understand that it’s fools gold we would be chasing.
  2. human.io — write microapps, tasks for people to do. This is a simple way to allow a publisher to turn a passive audience into a mobile army of participants. This allows publishers to easily create missions and activities to get people involved more directly than just reading stuff on a screen. If Twitter is HTML, then Human.io is CGI. (via Joshua Schachter)
  3. Why Contracts Have UPPER CASE PARAGRAPHS — fascinating! (via Anil Dash)
  4. Designing Meetings to Work (Luke Wroblewski) — notes from Kevin Hoffman’s talk. Doing something is better than seeing something, which is better than hearing something. THIS.

May 25 2012

Four short links: 25 May 2012

  1. Meet The New Boss, Worse Than The Old Boss -- transcript of a thoughtful music industry insider considering the effect of the net on the business. The other problem? I’ve been expecting for years now to see aggregate revenue flowing to artist increase. Disintermediation promised us this. It hasn’t happened. Everywhere I look artists seem to be working more for less money. And every time I come across aggregate data that is positive it turns out to have a black cloud inside. Example: Touring revenues up since 1999. Because more bands are touring, staying on the road longer and playing for fewer people. Surely you all can see Malthusian trajectory?
  2. Kottke on Quarterly -- I eyed TED's book club and thought "hmm, interesting business model: you like my taste, sign up and I'll send you things". Quarterly is a "my taste as a service" service. (via Sacha Judd)
  3. Pipe Viewer -- clever little command-line utility to show progress of pipes.
  4. Sheryl Sandberg's HBS Class Day Speech -- two things stood out, beyond the honesty of the talk: If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, don’t ask what seat (that's her quoting Eric Schmidt) and [careers] are not a ladder; they’re a jungle gym (her quoting Facebook's head of HR). (via Sacha Judd)

April 13 2012

Four short links: 13 April 2012

  1. Change the Game (Video) -- Amy Hoy's talk from Webstock '12, on being contrary and being successful. Was one of the standout talks for me.
  2. Rise4Fun -- software engineering tools from Microsoft Research. (via Hacker News)
  3. Why Obama's JOBS Act Couldn't Suck Worse (Rolling Stone) -- get ready for an avalanche of shareholder suits ten years from now, since post-factum civil litigation will be the only real regulation of the startup market.
  4. Socio-economic Return Of FTTH Investment in Sweden (PDF) -- This preliminary study analyses the socio-economic impacts of the investment in FTTH. The goal of the study was: Is it possible to calculate how much a krona (SEK) invested in fibre will give back to society? The conclusion is that a more comprehensive statistical data and more calculations are needed to give an exact estimate. The study, however, provides an indication that 1 SEK invested over four years brings back a minimum of 1.5 SEK in five years time. The study estimates the need for investment to achieve 100% fibre penetration, identifies and quantifies a number of significant effects of fibre deployment, and then calculates the return on investment. (via Donald Clark)

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)

February 14 2012

Four short links: 14 February 2012

  1. Why I Hate The STOCK Act (Clay Johnson) -- an attempt to reform insider trading within government, but because Congress exempts itself from substantial penalties then it has little effect where it's needed most. We won't see change on the issues that matter to us (copyright, due process for Internet takedowns, privacy, etc.) while the lawmakers are distracted by money.
  2. Instruction Medium is the Message (Dan Meyer) -- Print is a medium. Same as digital photos. Same as a teacher's voice. Same as a YouTube video. Same as a podcast. These are all different media. And as we know, the medium is the message. The medium defines and constrains and sometimes distorts the message. The math that can be conveyed in a YouTube video is not the same math that can be conveyed in a digital photo or a podcast or a print textbook. Anything that can be replaced by a computer should be; it's doubtful that successful widespread education consists only of things a computer can replace.
  3. Eolas Patent a Hollow Victory (Simon Phipps) -- those who were extorted by the patent troll will go uncompensated, and the loss of one patent leaves their business model still intact. The patent system is extremely broken in the US, it's a giant cost of doing business, a regulation-created tax that is paid to trolls instead of to the US Government. What idiot supports a tax that doesn't go to the government? An ethically-corrupted one (see point 1 above).
  4. Monitor your Continuous Integration Server with Traffic Lights and an Arduino -- nifty little hardware hack. It's an example of making physical objects which control or portray virtual systems, and it's tied into this Continuous Integration trend whereby software changes go live as soon as possible rather than being held off until 2am on the first Thursday of the month, when the IT team come in to manage the rollout of the new code. CI, in turn, is an example of failing early on something small rather than failing later and larger. (via Sandy Mamoli)

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