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February 26 2014

February 24 2014

December 30 2013

Four short links: 30 December 2013

  1. tooldiaga collection of methods for statistical pattern recognition. Implemented in C.
  2. Hacking MicroSD Cards (Bunnie Huang) — In my explorations of the electronics markets in China, I’ve seen shop keepers burning firmware on cards that “expand” the capacity of the card — in other words, they load a firmware that reports the capacity of a card is much larger than the actual available storage. The fact that this is possible at the point of sale means that most likely, the update mechanism is not secured. MicroSD cards come with embedded microcontrollers whose firmware can be exploited.
  3. 30c3 — recordings from the 30th Chaos Communication Congress.
  4. IOT Companies, Products, Devices, and Software by Sector (Mike Nicholls) — astonishing amount of work in the space, especially given this list is inevitably incomplete.

December 25 2013

Four short links: 25 December 2013

  1. Inside Netflix’s HR (HBR) — Which idea in the culture deck was the hardest sell with employees? “Adequate performance gets a generous severance package.” It’s a pretty blunt statement of our hunger for excellence. They talk about how those conversations play out in practice.
  2. Top Science Longreads for 2013 (Ed Yong) — for your Christmas reading.
  3. CocoaSPDY — open source library for SPDY (fast HTTP replacement, supported in Chrome) for iOS and OS X.
  4. The Internet of Things Will Replace the Web — invisible buttons loaded with anticipatory actions keyed from mined sensor data. And we’ll complain it’s slow and doesn’t know that I don’t like The Beatles before my coffee and who wrote this crap anyway?

October 26 2012

Four short links: 26 October 2012

  1. BootMetro (github) — website templates with a Metro (Windows 8) look. (via Hacker News)
  2. Kenya’s Treasury to tax M-Pesa — 10% tax on mobile money-transfer systems. M-Pesa is the largest mobile money transfer service provider in Kenya, with more than 14 million subscribers. [...] It is estimated that M-Pesa reports some 2 million transactions per day. [...] the value of money transferred through mobile platforms jumped by 41 per cent in the first six months of 2012. Neer mind fighting you, you know you’re winning when they tax you! (via Evgeny Mozorov)
  3. Digital Divide and Fibre RolloutAs the group of non-users gets smaller, they are likely to become more seriously disadvantaged. The NBN – and high-speed broadband more generally – will drive a wave of new applications across most areas of life, transforming Australia’s service economy in fundamental ways. Those who are not connected in 2015 may be fewer, but they will be missing out on far more – in education, health, government, commerce, communication and entertainment. The costs will also fall on service providers forced to keep supplying expensive physical and face-to-face services to this declining number of people. This will be particularly significant in remote communities, where health consultations and evacuations by flying doctors, nurses and allied health professionals could potentially be reduced through e-health diagnostics, and where Centrelink still regularly sends teams out to communities. As gov2 expands and services move online, connectivity disadvantages are compounded. (via Ellen Strickland)
  4. Smart Body Smart World (Forrester) — take note of these two consequences of Internet of Things and Quantified Self: Verticals fuse: “Health and wellness” is not its own silo, but is connected to our finances, our shopping habits, our relationships. As bodies get connected, everyone is in the body business. Retail disperses: All retailers become computing retailers, and computing-specific retailers like Best Buy go the way of Blockbuster. You wouldn’t buy a smart toothbrush at a specialty CE store; you’d be more likely to buy it in the channel that solves the rest of your hygiene needs. (via Internet of Things)

August 30 2012

Four short links: 31 August 2012

  1. typing.io — a typing tutor for code.
  2. Sheep to Warn Shepherds of Wolf Attack by SMSaround 10 sheep were each equipped with a heart monitor before being targeted by a pair of Wolfdogs—both of which were muzzled. (via Beta Knowledge)
  3. New Species Found on Flickr (NPR) — Guek had noticed the insect while hiking the jungles of Malaysia, taken the photos, and then watched it fly away. I just love the idea of entomologists bringing up richly-coloured hi-res shots of insects from Flickr. Can’t figure out whether to parody as porn fetish or as if they were using movie tech (“can we enhance that?”)
  4. Position Correcting Tools for 2D Digital Fabricationin our approach, the user coarsely positions a frame containing the tool in an approximation of the desired path, while the device tracks the frame’s location and adjusts the position of the tool within the frame to correct the user’s positioning error in real time. Because the automatic positioning need only cover the range of the human’s positioning error, this frame can be small and inexpensive, and because the human has unlimited range, such a frame can be used to precisely position tools over an unlimited range.

August 01 2012

Four short links: 1 August 2012

  1. China Hackers Hit EU Point Man and DC (Bloomberg) — wow. The extent to which EU and US government and business computer systems have been penetrated is astonishing. Stolen information is flowing out of the networks of law firms, investment banks, oil companies, drug makers, and high technology manufacturers in such significant quantities that intelligence officials now say it could cause long-term harm to U.S. and European economies. (via Gady Epstein)
  2. Digestible Microchips (Nature) — The sand-particle sized sensor consists of a minute silicon chip containing trace amounts of magnesium and copper. When swallowed, it generates a slight voltage in response to digestive juices, which conveys a signal to the surface of a person’s skin where a patch then relays the information to a mobile phone belonging to a healthcare-provider. (via Sara Winge)
  3. Quantum Mechanics Make Simple(r) — clever way to avoid the brain pain of quantum mechanics and leap straight to the “oh!”. [N]ature is described not by probabilities (which are always nonnegative), but by numbers called amplitudes that can be positive, negative, or even complex. [...] In the usual “hierarchy of sciences”—with biology at the top, then chemistry, then physics, then math—quantum mechanics sits at a level between math and physics that I don’t know a good name for. Basically, quantum mechanics is the operating system that other physical theories run on as application software (with the exception of general relativity, which hasn’t yet been successfully ported to this particular OS). (via Hacker News)
  4. Selectively De-Animating Video — SIGGRAPH talk showing how to keep some things still in a video. Check out the teaser video with samples: ZOMG. I note that Maneesh Agrawala was involved: I’m a fan of his from Line Drive maps and 3D exploded views, but his entire paper list is worth reading. Wow. (via Greg Borenstein)

July 31 2012

Four short links: 31 July 2012

  1. Christchurch’s Shot at Being Innovation Central (Idealog) — Christchurch, rebuilding a destroyed CBD after earthquakes, has released plans for the new city. I hope there’s budget for architects and city developers to build visible data, sensors, etc. so the Innovation Precinct doesn’t become the Tech Ghetto.
  2. Torque Pro (Google Play Store) — a vehicle / car performance/diagnostics tool and scanner that uses an OBD II Bluetooth adapter to connect to your OBD2 engine management/ECU. Can lay out out your dashboards, track performance via GPS, and more. (via Steve O’Grady)
  3. Drone Pilots (NY Times) — at the moment, the stories are all about the technology helping our boys valiantly protecting the nation. Things will get interesting when the new technology is used against us (we just saw the possibility of this with 3D printing guns). (via Dave Pell)
  4. Avalon (GitHub) — A cloud based translation and localization utility for Python which combines human and machine translation. There’s also a how-to. (via Brian McConnell)

June 07 2012

Four short links: 7 June 2012

  1. Electric Imp -- yet another group working on the necessary middleware for ubiquitous networked devices.
  2. How Big Data Transformed the Dairy Industry (The Atlantic) -- cutting-edge genomics company Illumina has precisely one applied market: animal science. They make a chip that measures 50,000 markers on the cow genome for attributes that control the economically important functions of those animals.
  3. The Curious Case of Internet Privacy (Cory Doctorow) -- I'm with Cory on the perniciousness of privacy-digesting deals between free sites and users, but I'm increasingly becoming convinced that privacy is built into business models and not technology.
  4. Chronoline (Github) -- Javascript to make a horizontal timeline out of a list of events.

March 29 2012

Four short links: 29 March 2012

  1. Tricorder Project -- open sourced designs for a tricorder, released as part of the Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize. (via Slashdot)
  2. Microsoft's New Open Sourced Stacks (Miguel de Icaza) -- not just open sourced (some of the code had been under MS Permissive License before, now it's Apache) but developed in public with git: ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web API, ASP.NET Web Pages v2. The Azure SDK is also on github.
  3. In An Internet Age, Crime is Essential to Freedom (Donald Clark) -- when a criminal asks: "How do I secure payment and store my ill-gotten gains", somewhere else, a refugee asks: "How can I send funds back to a relative such that they can’t be traced to me".
  4. NSA: China Behind RSA Attacks (Information Week) -- I can argue both sides about whether government cloud services are a boon or a curse for remote information thieves. Looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

March 28 2012

Four short links: 28 March 2012

  1. MS Office Exploit In The Wild, Targeting Mac OS X -- This is one of the few times that we have seen a malicious Office file used to deliver Malware on Mac OS X. (via Hacker News)
  2. Please Do Not Take Down The Sality BotNet -- best responsible disclosure ever.
  3. 3Difficult -- I’m an industrial designer at heart, and I’m saddened by what’s happened to my craft. We were once the kings of things, but for a variety of reasons I think we’re in danger of being left behind. [...] Making became the talk of the town, and to some extent it still is. We’re in the first stumbling days of the Internet of Things, and are increasingly seeing the paper thin definition between digital and tangible falling away.
  4. Air Quotes Product (Matt Webb) -- Recently I noted down some places in which traditional products have changed and he goes on to list some critical ways in which networked objects challenge our thinking. I love the little brain/big brain distinction--great to have words for these things at last!

January 31 2012

Four short links: 31 January 2012

  1. The Sky is Rising -- TechDirt's Mike Masnick has written (and made available for free download) an excellent report on the entertainment industry's numbers and business models. Must read if you have an opinion on SOPA et al.
  2. Tennis Australia Exposes Match Analytics -- Served from IBM's US-based private cloud, the updated SlamTracker web application pulls together 39 million points of data collated from all four Grand Slam tournaments over the past seven years to provide insights into a player's style of play and progress. The analytics application also provides a player's likelihood of beating their opponent through each round of the two-week tournament and the 'key to the match' required for them to win. "We gave our data to IBM, said, 'Here we go, that's 10 years of scores and stats, matches and players'," said Samir Mahir, CIO at Tennis Australia. Data as way to engage fans. (via Steve O'Grady)
  3. Data Monday: Logins and Passwords (Luke Wroblewski) -- Password recovery is the number one request to help desks for intranets that don’t have single sign-on portal capabilities.
  4. QR Codes: Bad Idea or Terrible Idea? (Kevin Marks) -- People have a problem finding your URL. You post a QR Code. Now they have 2 problems. I prefer to think of QR codes as a prototype of what Matt Jones calls "the robot-readable world"--not so much the technology we really imagine we will be deploying when we build our science fictiony future.

December 09 2011

Four short links: 9 December 2011

  1. Critically Making the Internet of Things (Anne Galloway) -- session notes from a conference, see also part two. Good thoughts, hastily captured. For example, this from Bruce Sterling: RFID + Superglue + Object ≠ IoT and the talk I want to see: “A study of how broken, hacked and malfunctioning digital road signs subvert the physical space of roadways.”
  2. Conquering the CHAOS of Online Community at StackExchange -- StackExchange is doing some thoughtful work analysing conversations and channeling dissent into a healthy construction to guide future productive discussion. "We taught the users that it was alright to disagree, and gave them a set of arguments they could reference without every thread degenerating into a fight."
  3. Little Big Details -- one small detail done right, every day.
  4. Ranking Live Streams of Data (LinkedIn) -- behind the "interesting discussions" report.

November 28 2011

Four short links: 28 November 2011

  1. Twine (Kickstarter) -- modular sensors with connectivity, programmable in If This Then That style. (via TechCrunch)
  2. Small Sample Sizes Lead to High Margins of Error -- a reminder that all the stats in the world won't help you when you don't have enough data to meaningfully analyse.
  3. Yahoo! Cocktails -- somehow I missed this announcement of a Javascript front-and-back-end dev environment from Yahoo!, which they say will be open sourced 1Q2012. Until then it's PRware, but I like that people are continuing to find new ways to improve the experience of building web applications. A Jobsian sense of elegance, ease, and perfection does not underly the current web development experience.
  4. UK Govt To Help Businesses Fight Cybercrime (Guardian) -- I view this as a good thing, even though the conspiracy nut in me says that it's a step along the path that ends with the spy agency committing cybercrime to assist businesses.

November 10 2011

Four short links: 10 November 2011

  1. Steve Case and His Companies (The Atlantic) -- Maybe you see three random ideas. Case and his team saw three bets that paid off thanks to a new Web economy that promotes power in numbers and access over ownership. "Access over ownership" is a phrase that resonated. (via Walt Mossberg)
  2. Back to the Future -- teaching kids to program by giving them microcomputers from the 80s. I sat my kids down with a C64 emulator and an Usborne book to work through some BASIC examples. It's not a panacea, but it solves a lot of bootstrapping problems with teaching kids to program.
  3. Replaying Writing an Essay -- Paul Graham wrote an essay using one of his funded startups, Stypi, and then had them hack it so you could replay the development with the feature that everything that was later deleted is highlighted yellow as it's written. The result is fascinating to watch. I would like my text editor to show me what I need to delete ;)
  4. Jawbone Live Up -- wristband that sync with iPhone. Interesting wearable product, tied into ability to gather data on ourselves. The product looks physically nice, but the quantified self user experience needs the same experience and smoothness. Intrusive ("and now I'm quantifying myself!") limits the audience to nerds or the VERY motivated.

November 04 2011

Four short links: 4 November 2011

  1. Beethoven's Open Repository of Research (RocketHub) -- open repository funded in a Kickstarter-type way. First crowdfunding project I've given $$$ to.
  2. KeepOff (GitHub) -- open source project built around hacking KeepOn Interactive Dancing Robots. (via Chris Spurgeon)
  3. Steve Jobs One-on-One (ComputerWorld) -- interesting glimpse of the man himself in an oral history project recording made during the NeXT years. I don't need a computer to get a kid interested in that, to spend a week playing with gravity and trying to understand that and come up with reasons why. But you do need a person. You need a person. Especially with computers the way they are now. Computers are very reactive but they're not proactive; they are not agents, if you will. They are very reactive. What children need is something more proactive. They need a guide. They don't need an assistant.
  4. Bluetooth Violin Bow -- this is awesome in so many directions. Sensors EVERYWHERE! I wonder what hackable uses it has ...

October 19 2011

Four short links: 19 October 2011

  1. OmniTouch: Wearable Interaction Everywhere -- compact projector + kinect equivalents in shoulder-mounted multitouch glory. (via Slashdot)
  2. Price of Bitcoin Still Dropping -- currency is a confidence game, and there's no confidence in Bitcoins since the massive Mt Gox exchange hack.
  3. vim Text Objects -- I'm an emacs user, so this is like reading Herodotus. "On the far side of the Nile is a tribe who eat their babies and give birth to zebras made of gold. They also define different semantics for motion and text objects."
  4. Hard Drive Shortage Predicted (Infoworld) -- flooding in Thailand has knocked out 25% of the world's hard drive manufacturing capacity. Interested to see the effects this has on cloud providers. (via Slashdot)

October 14 2011

Four short links: 14 October 2011

  1. Theory of Relativity in Words of Four Letters or Less -- this does just what it says, and well too. I like it, as you may too. At the end, you may even know more than you do now.
  2. Effective Set Reconciliation Without Prior Context (PDF) -- paper on using Bloom filters to do set union (deduplication) efficiently. Useful in distributed key-value stores and other big data tools.
  3. Mental Notes -- each card has an insight from psychology research that's useful with web design. Shuffle the deck, peel off a card, get ideas for improving your site. (via Tom Stafford)
  4. The Internet of Things To Come (Mike Kuniavsky) -- Mike lays out the trends and technologies that will lead to an explosion in Internet of Things products. E.g., This abstraction of knowledge into silicon means that rather than starting from basic principles of electronics, designers can focus on what they're trying to create, rather than which capacitor to use or how to tell the signal from the noise. He makes it clear that, right now, we have the rich petrie dish in which great networked objects can be cultured.

October 11 2011

Four short links: 11 October 2011

  1. Personal Best (New Yorker) -- excellent Atul Gawande column on coaching which has me wondering how to open up different aspects of my life to improvement. Interesting to me because, behind every continuous- or self-improvement technique are the questions: "do you want to get better?" and "if so, how far will you go in pursuit of that goal?".
  2. CyberTracker -- tool for non-profits tracking things in the real world. Used around the world for ecology, disaster recovery, even crime-fighting. Brings geospatial data capture and analytics to environmental orgs who otherwise could never afford it.
  3. Eye-Tracking in Painting Restoration -- The consequence of the different gaze pattern is that when asked to describe the content of the painting, viewers of the unreconstructed version did not realise it was a painting of an erupting volcano. The painting had lost its meaning and viewers could not view it as originally intended by Martin. (via Ed Yong)
  4. The Era of Objects (PDF) -- a collection of essays around the future of networked objects, from a Blowup event on that topic. Writings from Bruce Sterling, Julian Bleecker, and others.

June 20 2011

Four short links: 20 June 2011

  1. HD Video Recording Glasses (Kickstarter) -- as Bryce says, "wearable computing is on the rise. As the price for enabling components drops, always on connectivity in our pockets and purses increases, and access to low cost manufacturing resources and know-how rises we’ll see innovation continue to push into these most personal forms of computing." (via Bryce Roberts)
  2. Sketching in Food (Chris Heathcote) -- a set of taste tests to demonstrate that we've been food hacking for a very long time. We started with two chemical coated strips - sodium benzoate, a preservative used in lots of food that a significant percentage of people can taste (interestingly in different ways, sweet, sour and bitter). Secondly was a chemical known as PTC that about 70% of people perceive as bitter, and a smaller number perceiving as really really horribly bitter. This was to show that taste is genetic, and different people perceive the same food differently. He includes pointers to sources for the materials in the taste test.
  3. Investigating Millions of Documents by Visualizing Clusters -- recording of talk about our recent work at the AP with the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs.
  4. Managing Crowdsourced Human Computation (Slideshare) -- half a six-hour tutorial at WWW2011 on crowdsourcing and human computation. See also the author's comments. (via Matt Biddulph)

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