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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.

November 07 2013

Four short links: 7 November 2013

  1. Learn to Search — cheeky but spot-on help for people running conferences.
  2. Offline Firstno, the mobile connectivity/bandwidth issue isn’t just going to solve itself on a global level anywhere in the near future. THIS!
  3. 10 Things You Should Know About AWS — lots of specialist tips for hardcore AWS users.
  4. The League of Moveable Type — AWESOME FONTS. Me gusta.
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October 14 2013

September 14 2013

Review : Andrew_Dosunmu's “Mother_of_George”

Review : #Andrew_Dosunmu’s#Mother_of_George

From the opening moment of Andrew Dosunmu’s magnificent new #FILM, ”Mother of George” (we’ve talked about the film before here and here), the viewer is immediately transported into a dream space – one of deep indigos, radiant golds, and vibrant reds. Dosunmu and his cinematographer, Bradford Young, are masters of aesthetics. And unlike Dosunmu’s previous film, […]

#EVENTS #MEDIA #Brooklyn #cinema #Nigeria

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.

October 03 2012

Four short links: 3 October 2012

  1. Mil-OSS 4 — 4th military open source software working group conference, in Rosslyn VA. Oct 15-17. Tutorials and sessions will cover: Linux, Geospatial, LiDAR, Drupal, cloud, OSS policy and law, Android and many other topics. The last day will have a 1/2 day unconference for up-and-coming issues.
  2. State of Internet Slides (Business Insider) — Apple could buy Disney using cash at hand. Boggle. This presentation has plenty of numbers for those who like them.
  3. See Penny Work — an open source (GPLv2) toolkit for budget visualizations, from Code For America. (via Tim O’Reilly)
  4. libimobiledevice — LGPLed open source library which talks the protocols to support iPhone®, iPod Touch®, iPad® and Apple TV® devices. Unlike other projects, it does not depend on using any existing proprietary libraries and does not require jailbreaking. It allows other software to easily access the device’s filesystem, retrieve information about the device and it’s internals, backup/restore the device, manage SpringBoard® icons, manage installed applications, retrieve addressbook/calendars/notes and bookmarks and (using libgpod) synchronize music and video to the device. Runs on Linux, OS X, and Windows.

September 24 2012

Four short links: 25 September 2012

  1. Stewart Brand Interview (Wired) — full of interesting tidbits. This line from the interviewer, Kevin Kelly, resonated: One other trajectory I have noticed about the past 20 years: Excitement about the future has waned. The future is deflating. It is simply not as desirable as it once was. (via Matt Jones)
  2. Commercial Use of Small Drones Still Without RegulationsFAA officials have also been working for the past five years on regulations to allow commercial use of small drones, which are generally defined as weighing less than 55-pounds and flying at altitudes under 4,000 feet. The agency has drafted regulations that were initially expected to be published late last year, but have been repeatedly delayed. Five years. That’s as long as the iPhone has existed. Just sayin’. (via Jim Stogdill)
  3. Multicore World 2013 — conference just for multicore. Check out the last conference’s program for what to expect. No word on whether it’ll have parallel sessions, ho ho ho.
  4. Turning a Shipping Container into a 3D Printer — a walk-in printer. AWESOME.

August 03 2012

Four short links: 3 August 2012

  1. Urban Camouflage WorkshopMost of the day was spent crafting urban camouflage intended to hide the wearer from the Kinect computer vision system. By the end of the workshop we understood how to dress to avoid detection for the three different Kinect formats. (via Beta Knowledge)
  2. Starting a Django Project The Right Way (Jeff Knupp) — I wish more people did this: it’s not enough to learn syntax these days. Projects live in a web of best practices for source code management, deployment, testing, and migrations.
  3. FailCona one-day conference for technology entrepreneurs, investors, developers and designers to study their own and others’ failures and prepare for success. Figure out how to learn from failures—they’re far more common than successes. (via Krissy Mo)
  4. Google Fiber in the Real World (Giga Om) — These tests show one of the limitations of Google’s Fiber network: other services. Since Google Fiber is providing virtually unheard of speeds for their subscribers, companies like Apple and I suspect Hulu, Netflix and Amazon will need to keep up. Are you serving DSL speeds to fiber customers? (via Jonathan Brewer)

April 25 2012

Four short links: 25 April 2012

  1. World History Since 1300 (Coursera) -- Coursera expands offerings to include humanities. This content is in books and already in online lectures in many formats. What do you get from these? Online quizzes and the online forum with similar people considering similar things. So it's a book club for a university course?
  2. mod_spdy -- Apache module for the SPDY protocol, Google's "faster than HTTP" HTTP.
  3. The Top 10 Dying Industries in the United States (Washington Post) -- between the Internet and China, yesterday's cash cows are today's casseroles.
  4. Notes from JSConf2012 -- excellent conference report: covers what happens, why it was interesting or not, and even summarizes relevant and interesting hallway conversations. AA++ would attend by proxy again. (via an old Javascript Weekly)

February 10 2012

Four short links: 10 February 2012

  1. Monki Gras 2012 (Stephen Walli) -- nice roundup of highlights of the Redmonk conference in London. Sample talk: Why Most UX is Shite.
  2. Frozen -- flow-based programming, intent is to build the toolbox of small pieces loosely joined by ZeroMQ for big data programming.
  3. Arctext.js -- jQuery plugin for curving text on web pages. (via Javascript Weekly)
  4. Hi, My Name is Diane Feinstein (BuyTheVote) -- presents the SOPA position and the entertainment industry's campaign contributions together with a little narrative. Clever and powerful. (via BoingBoing)

February 02 2012

Four short links: 2 February 2012

  1. Beautiful Buttons for Bootstrap -- cute little button creator, with sliders for hue, saturation, and "puffiness".
  2. CMU iPad Course -- iTunes U has the video lectures for a CMU intro to iPad programming.
  3. Inspiring Matter -- the conference aims to bring together designers, scientists, artists and humanities people working with materials research and innovation to talk about how they work cross- or trans-disciplinarily, the challenges and tools they've found for working collaboratively, and the ways they find inspiration in their work with materials. London, April 2-3.
  4. Facebook's S-1 Filing (SEC) -- the Internets are now full of insights into Facebook's business, for example Lance Wiggs's observation that Facebook's daily user growth is slowing. While 6-10% growth per quarter feels like a lot when annualized, it is getting close to being a normal company. Facebook is running out of target market, and especially target market with pockets deep enough to be monetised. But I think that's the last piece of Facebook IPO analysis that I'll link to. Tech Giant IPOs are like Royal Weddings: the people act nice but you know it's a seething roiling pit of hate, greed, money, and desperation that goes on a bit too long so by the end you just want to put an angry chili-covered porcupine in everyone's anus and set them all on fire. But perhaps I'm jaded.

January 11 2012

December 16 2011

Four short links: 16 December 2011

  1. Subway Map jQuery Plugin -- create your own London Underground-style maps. (via Chris Spurgeon)
  2. Webcraft and Programming for Free Range Students -- a p2pu class for teachers of web stuff and programming.
  3. Arts, Humanities, and Complex Networks 2012 -- CFP for a conference in Chicago, looking for visualization and data-analysis papers with a background in the humanities.
  4. How to Go Mo -- clever idea. Everyone at a company should be able to say "hey, our site looks like crap on mobile browsers!", bringing pressure to fix it. 1/3 of people browse the web on their phone.

November 02 2011

Five ways to improve publishing conferences

This is part of an ongoing series related to Peter Meyers' project "Breaking the Page: Transforming Books and the Reading Experience." We'll be featuring additional material in the weeks ahead. (Note: This post originally appeared on A New Kind of Book. It's republished with permission.)

Ever suffer from "conference head"? It's that feeling, after a couple dozen speeches and panels, where you wonder: wow, what did I learn from all that talking?

Having just returned from Books in Browsers (BiB), a tweet from Liza Daly (@liza) stuck in my head: Much better to have talks as a series of refinements or rebuttals vs. 50 people telling us that the digital revolution is 'here'.

Liza Daly tweet

It got me thinking: is the standard conference format — solo talks plus panel discussions — the best way to "program" a one- or two-day get together? What if organizers structured events more like a great class?

A few quick caveats before I answer: I have never designed or chaired a conference myself, and I offer up these thoughts from the perspective of a frequent attendee and with a huge helping of humility — I can only imagine the time and energy that goes into actually putting one of these shows on. This post was spurred by my time spent at the immensely rewarding BiB, but my ideas here are less a review of that gathering and more about how to make all speaker-heavy conferences more useful. Finally, as for what this topic has to do with digital book design issues: it's tangential, to be sure, but since you can't swing a dead cat these days without hitting a conference on publishing, it felt worthwhile to share what I hope are constructive suggestions

First, a quick roundup of key problems:

Problem: Presentation overlap

This is where multiple speakers give, more or less, the same presentation. Or even if the talks aren't exactly identical, it's the feeling you get when, say, speakers #2, #5, #8, and #11 all talk about how "social reading" is gonna change digital books. Even when organizers do a good job of keeping people from doing "brochure talks" (here's a big problem & here's how my company will solve it), you still end up watching multiple people block out their own version of a framing story that often ends up sounding pretty similar: publishing is undergoing a Gutenberg-sized revolution; readers are suffering from info overload; it's hard to discover what to read; etc.

Problem: I learned what?

What's tough in most conferences is pattern-spotting and takeaway extraction. What's missing are the epiphanies a great teacher gets her students to notice by the end of a class or semester: a sense kids get that they now know more about the topic than when they began. Facing a barrage of speakers who often stray from the descriptions they've submitted (guilty, I plead), the audience can sometimes find it hard to pinpoint what, exactly, they've learned. Is it possible that what conferences need most are good editors to prune, shape, and synthesize all the valuable ideas that speakers (and attendees) share? More on that idea in a moment.

Problem: Format monotony

Empty new museum auditorium by ol slambert, on FlickrOne speech followed by another speech followed by another speech. Have coffee. Repeat. Even when everyone's top notch, the sheer uniformity of sitting through multiple slide-powered talks is hell on our brain's need for diversity.

Having sketched out what I see as the three big problems, here's my crack at some solutions worth exploring:

Solution 1. Organizer as curriculum developer

More than just articulating a theme and curating a speaker list, the organizer would need to devise a "curriculum" — one that doesn't dilly dally too much with basics and yet spends enough time tackling fundamentals so attendees would really feel like they'd gained a new appreciation for issues they thought they already understood. This would clearly entail a substantial amount of speaker management. Organizers would need a degree of cooperation that some presenters might be unwilling to commit to; for example, they'd have to agree in advance to sticking to their assigned topics. As someone who strayed at least partially from the blurb I pitched to the BiB program committee, I know first hand how tempting eleventh-hour inspiration can be.

The event I have in mind would resemble something like a learner's journey — from gentle introduction to the articulation of big challenges; then onto intermediate-level matters; and finally, culminating in some niche topics suitable for those with a master's level understanding. (I did think, by the way, that Brian O'Leary's call at the end of BiB for industry-wide cooperation was a pitch-perfect example of the kind of topic well-suited to wrap up a conference.)

Solution 2. Diverse activities

Rather than a non-stop sequence of solo presentations, I'm picturing a varied program of events woven around traditional talks: a moderator, mic in hand, working her way around the audience posing questions, eliciting answers, and drawing out connections; group activities (split into groups of five, and take 10 minutes to design a product you'd buy); team debates; the presentation of pre-made content (like documentary shorts), website tours, and narrated app slideshows. The idea here is to keep attendees engaged by giving them lots of different ways to consider the material under review.

Solution 3. Note-takers & synthesizers

The first idea here is for a conference to provide a note-taker (skilled in the art of sussing out key points — kinda like the bloggers The New York Times uses to report on live events). Freed from the distractions of writing, attendees could focus more on what speakers are saying. Even better, what if, once or twice a day, an emcee-type got up on stage and distilled out big themes and takeaways? What if these nuggets were posted in a highly visible spot (off- and online) to give everyone a persistent sense of lessons learned or emergent themes?

Solution 4. Workshop-style critiques

Hugely controversial and potentially disastrous territory I'm entering here, but I'm brainstorming, okay? What if someone — respectful, inquisitive, skilled in the art of asking illuminating questions — was up on stage with the speakers and, following their talks, engaged them in a Q&A. This, of course, is what post-speech question time is meant for, but many audience members are too shy, reluctant to challenge, etc. I do want to make sure I'm clear here: I'm not suggesting we grill speakers gotcha-style. I am looking for a way to get people to address the toughest challenges they face and make a strong case about why their solutions and ideas are compelling.

Solution 5. More content

Boy, for an industry built around authors, it's amazing how little time they get at our events. I'm not just talking about storytellers. I'm also thinking of how-to explainers, idea-weavers, cookbook chefs, photographers. Is there a way to get more of these people up on stage — not just talking about their fears in this new era of publishing, but actually sharing what they create to remind everyone of why consumers buy books in the first place?

Webcast: Digital Bookmaking Tools Roundup #2 — Back by popular demand, in a second look at Digital Bookmaking Tools, author and book futurist Pete Meyers explores the existing options for creating digital books.

Join us on Thursday, November 10, 2011, at 10 am PT
Register for this free webcast

Photo: Empty new museum auditorium by ol slambert, on Flickr


August 23 2011

August 16 2011

July 28 2011

Four short links: 28 July 2011

  1. 23andMe Disproves Its Own Business Model -- a hostile article talking about how there's little predictive power in genetics for diabetes and Parkinson's so what's the point of buying a 23andMe subscription? The wider issue is that, as we've known for a while, mapping out your genome only helps with a few clearcut conditions. For most medical things that we care about, environment is critical too--but that doesn't mean that personalized genomics won't help us better target therapies.
  2. jsftp -- lightweight implementation of FTP client protocol for NodeJS. (via Sergi Mansilla)
  3. Really Bad Workshops -- PDF eBook with rock-solid advice for everyone who runs a workshop.
  4. PigEditor (GitHub) -- Eclipse plugin for those working with Pig and Hadoop. (via Josh Patterson)

July 05 2011

Four short links: 5 July 2011

  1. Conference Organisers Handbook -- accurate guide to running a two-day 300-person conference. Compare Yet Another Perl Conference guidelines.
  2. Twitter Shifting More Code to JVM -- interesting how, at scale, there are some tools and techniques of the scorned Enterprise that the web cool kids must turn to. Some. Business Process Workflow XML Schemas will never find love.
  3. Louis von Ahn on Duolingo -- from the team that gave us "OCR books as you verify you are a human" CAPTCHAs comes "learn a new language as you translate the web". I would love to try this, it sounds great (and is an example of what crowdsourcing can be).
  4. Fully Bayesian Computing (PDF) -- A fully Bayesian computing environment calls for the possibility of defining vector and array objects that may contain both random and deterministic quantities, and syntax rules that allow treating these objects much like any variables or numeric arrays. Working within the statistical package R, we introduce a new object-oriented framework based on a new random variable data type that is implicitly represented by simulations. Perl made text processing easy because strings were first-class objects with a rich set of functions to operate on them; Node.js has a sweet HTTP library; it's interesting to see how much more intuitive an algorithm becomes when random variables are a data type. (via BigData)

June 09 2011

Why Facebook isn't the best home for your public events

In an earlier episode of this series I discussed how Facebook events can flow through elmcity hubs by way of Facebook's search API. Last week I added another, and more direct, method. Now you can use a Facebook iCalendar URL (the export link at the bottom of Facebook's Events page) to route your public events through an elmcity hub.

The benefit, of course, is convenience. If you're promoting a public community event, Facebook is a great way to get the word out and keep track of who's coming. Ideally you should only have to write down the event data once. If you can enter the data in Facebook and then syndicate it elsewhere, that seems like a win.

In Syndicating Facebook events I explain how this can work. But I also suggest that your Facebook account might not be the best authoritative home for your public event data. Let's consider why not.

Here's a public event that I'm promoting:

Facebook public event

Here's how it looks in a rendering of the Keene elmcity hub:

Rendering of the Keene elmcity hub

And here's the link to the End of the world (again) event:

Did you click it? If so, one of two things happened. If you were logged into Facebook you saw the event. If not you saw this:

Facebook login page

Is this a public event or not? It depends on what you mean by public.
In this case the event is public within Facebook but not available on the
open web. The restriction is problematic. Elmcity hubs are transparent
conduits, they reveal their sources, curators do their work out in the
open, and communities served by elmcity hubs can see how those hubs
are constituted. Quasi-public URLs like this one aren't in the spirit
of the project.

My end-of-the-world event is obviously an illustrative joke. But consider two other organizations whose events appear in that elmcity screenshot: the Gilsum Church and the City of Keene. These organizations are currently using Google Calendar to manage their public events. They use Google Calendar's widget to display events on their websites, and they route Google Calendar's iCalendar feeds through the elmcity hub.

Now that elmcity can receive iCalendar feeds from Facebook, the church and the city could use their Facebook accounts, instead of Google Calendar, to manage their public events. Should they? I think not. Public information should be really public, not just quasi-public.

What's more, organizations should strive to own and control their online identities (and associated data) to the extent they can. From that perspective, using services like Google Calendar or Hotmail Calendar are also problematic. But you have choices. While it's convenient to use the free services of Google Calendar or Hotmail Calendar, and I recommend both, I regard them as training wheels. An organization that cares about owning its identity and data, as all ultimately should, can use any standard calendar system to publish a feed to a URL served by a host that it pays and trusts, using an Internet domain name that it paid for and owns.

Either way, how could an organization manage its public event stream using standard calendar software while still tapping into Facebook's excellent social dynamics? Here's what I'd like to see:

Example Facebook login page

It's great that Facebook offers outbound iCalendar feeds. I'd also like to see it accept inbound feeds. And that should work everywhere, by the way, not just for Facebook and not just for calendar events. Consider photos. I should be able to pay a service to archive and manage my complete photo stream. If I choose to share some of those photos on Facebook and others on Flickr, both should syndicate the photos from my online archive using a standard feed protocol -- say Atom, or if richer type information is needed, OData.

The elmcity project is, above all, an invitation to explore what it means to be the authoritative source of your own data. Among other things, it means that we should expect services to be able to use our data without owning our data. And that services should be able to acquire our data not only by capturing our keystrokes, but also by syndicating from URLs that we claim as our authoritative sources.

OSCON Data 2011, being held July 25-27 in Portland, Ore., is a gathering for developers who are hands-on, doing the systems work and evolving architectures and tools to manage data. (This event is co-located with OSCON.)

Save 20% on registration with the code OS11RAD


May 20 2011

Four short links: 20 May 2011

  1. BitCoin Watch -- news and market analysis for this artificial currency. (If you're outside the BitCoin world wondering wtf the fuss is all about try We Use Coins for a gentle primer and then Is BitCoin a Good Idea? for the case against) (via Andy Baio)
  2. Time Capsule -- send your Flickr photos from a year ago. I love that technology helps us connect not just with other people right now, but with ourselves in the future. Compare TwitShift and Foursquare and Seven Years Ago. (via Really Interesting Group)
  3. HTTP Archive Mobile -- mobile performance data. The top 100 web pages average out at 271kb vs 401kb for their desktop incarnations, which still seems unjustifiably high to me.
  4. Skype at Conferences -- The two editors of the book were due to lead the session but were at the wrong ends of a skype three way video conference which stuttered into a dalekian half life without really quite making the breakthrough into comprehensibility. After various attempts to rewire, reconfigure and reboot, we gave up and had what turned into a good conversation among the dozen people round the table in London. Conference organizers, take note: Skype at conferences is a recipe for fail.

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