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December 23 2013

Four short links: 23 December 2013

  1. DelFly Explorer — 20 grams, 9 minutes of autonomous flight, via barometer and new stereo vision system. (via Wayne Radinsky)
  2. Banning Autonomous Killing Machines (Tech Republic) — While no autonomous weapons have been built yet, it’s not a theoretical concern, either. Late last year, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released its policy around how autonomous weapons should be used if they were to be deployed in the battlefield. The policy limits how they should operate, but definitely doesn’t ban them. (via Slashdot)
  3. Scientific Data Lost at Alarming Rate — says scientific paper PUBLISHED BEHIND A PAYWALL.
  4. Security of Browser Extension Password Managers (PDF) — This research shows that the examined password managers made design decisions that greatly increase the chance of users unknowingly exposing their passwords through application-level flaws. Many of the flaws relate to the browser-integrated password managers that don’t follow the same-origin policy that is crucial to browser security. In the case of password managers, this means that passwords could be filled into unintended credential forms, making password theft easier.

November 06 2013

Four short links: 6 November 2013

  1. Apple Transparency Report (PDF) — contains a warrant canary, the statement Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge an order if served on us which will of course be removed if one of the secret orders is received. Bravo, Apple, for implementing a clever hack to route around excessive secrecy. (via Boing Boing)
  2. You’re Probably Polluting Your Statistics More Than You Think — it is insanely easy to find phantom correlations in random data without obviously being foolish. Anyone who thinks it’s possible to draw truthful conclusions from data analysis without really learning statistics needs to read this. (via Stijn Debrouwere)
  3. CyPhy Funded (Quartz) — the second act of iRobot co-founder Helen Greiner, maker of the famed Roomba robot vacuum cleaner. She terrified ETech long ago—the audience were expecting Roomba cuteness and got a keynote about military deathbots. It would appear she’s still in the deathbot niche, not so much with the cute. Remember this when you build your OpenCV-powered recoil-resistant load-bearing-hoverbot and think it’ll only ever be used for the intended purpose of launching fertiliser pellets into third world hemp farms.
  4. User-Agent String History — a light-hearted illustration of why the formal semantic value of free-text fields is driven to zero in the face of actual use.
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September 24 2013

June 28 2013

Four short links: 28 June 2013

  1. Huxley vs Orwellbuy Amusing Ourselves to Death if this rings true. The future is here, it’s just not evenly surveilled. (via rone)
  2. KeyMe — keys in the cloud. (Digital designs as backups for physical objects)
  3. Motorola Advanced Technology and Products GroupThe philosophy behind Motorola ATAP is to create an organization with the same level of appetite for technology advancement as DARPA, but with a consumer focus. It is a pretty interesting place to be. And they hired the excellent Johnny Chung Lee.
  4. Internet Credit Union — Internet Archive starts a Credit Union. Can’t wait to see memes on debit cards.

May 03 2013

Four short links: 3 May 2013

  1. Causal Entropic Forces (PDF) — new paper from Sci Foo alum Alex Wissner-Gross connecting intelligence and entropy. (via Inside Science)
  2. Nyan Cat and Keyboard Cat Are Trademarked Memes (Ars Technica) — the business of this (presumably there will be royalties in the end) is less interesting to me than the murky tension between authorship, ownership, sharing, popularity, and profit. We still lack a common expectation for how memes can be owned and exploited.
  3. Wink UI — Mike DiGiovanni wrote a Glass app to take photos when you wink. (via Ars Technica)
  4. Stealing US Military Secrets (Bloomberg) — One former intelligence official described internal Pentagon discussions over whether another Lockheed Martin fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor, could safely be deployed in combat, because several subcontractors had been hacked. The article is full of horror stories about Chinese penetration of US military contractors.

April 24 2013

Four short links: 1 May 2013

  1. Pin: A Dynamic Binary Instrumentation Toola dynamic binary instrumentation framework for the IA-32 and x86-64 instruction-set architectures that enables the creation of dynamic program analysis tools. Some tools built with Pin are Intel Parallel Inspector, Intel Parallel Amplifier and Intel Parallel Advisor. The tools created using Pin, called Pintools, can be used to perform program analysis on user space applications in Linux and Windows. As a dynamic binary instrumentation tool, instrumentation is performed at run time on the compiled binary files. Thus, it requires no recompiling of source code and can support instrumenting programs that dynamically generate code.
  2. Lasers Bringing Down Drones (Wired) — I’ve sat on this for a while, but it is still hypnotic. Autonomous attack, autonomous defence. Pessimist: we’ll be slaves of the better machine learning algorithm. Optimist: we can make love while the AIs make war.
  3. Advice on Rewriting It From Scratch — every word is true. Over my career, I’ve come to place a really strong value on figuring out how to break big changes into small, safe, value-generating pieces. It’s a sort of meta-design — designing the process of gradual, safe change.
  4. Creating Gmail Inbox Statistics Reportsshows how to setup gmail to send you an email at the beginning of each month showing statistics for the previous month, such as the number of emails you received, the top 5 to whom you sent email, the top 5 from whom you received email, charts on your daily usage.

March 25 2013

Four short links: 25 March 2013

  1. Analytics for LearningSince doing good learning analytics is hard, we often do easy learning analytics and pretend that they are good instead. But pretending doesn’t make it so. (via Dan Meyer)
  2. Reproducible Research — a list of links to related work about reproducible research, reproducible research papers, etc. (via Stijn Debrouwere)
  3. Pentagon Deploying 100+ Cyber TeamsThe organization defending military networks — cyber protection forces — will comprise more than 60 teams, a Pentagon official said. The other two organizations — combat mission forces and national mission forces — will conduct offensive operations. I’ll repeat that: offensive operations.
  4. Towards Deterministic Compressed Sensing (PDF) — instead of taking lots of data, compressing by throwing some away, can we only take a few samples and reconstruct the original from that? (more mathematically sound than my handwaving explanation). See also Compressed sensing and big data from the Practical Quant. (via Ben Lorica)

March 07 2013

Four short links: 6 March 2013

  1. High Performance Networking in Google Chrome — far more than you ever wanted to know about how Chrome is so damn fast.
  2. Tactical Chathow the military uses IRC to wage war.
  3. http-console — a REPL loop for HTTP.
  4. Inductive Charger for Magic Mouse — my biggest bugbear with Bluetooth devices is the incessant appetite for batteries. Huzzah!

February 22 2013

Four short links: 22 February 2013

  1. Indiepocalypse: Harlem Shake Edition (Andy Baio) — After four weeks topping the Billboard Hot 100, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop” was replaced this week by Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” the song that inspired the Internet meme.
  2. SplinterNetan Android app designed to create an unblockable Twitter like network that uses no cellular or Internet communications. All messages are transmitted over Bluetooth between users, creating a true peer-to-peer messaging system. All messages are anonymous to prevent retaliation by government authorities. (via Ushahidi)
  3. Disposable Satellites (Forbes) — tiny, near-disposable satellites for use in getting battlefield surveillance quickly [...] launched from a jet into orbit, and within a few minutes [...] provide soldiers on the ground with a zoomed-in, birds-eye view of the battlefield. Those image would be transmitted to current communications devices, and the company is working to develop a way to transmit them to smartphones, as well.
  4. Native iOS to HTML5 Porting Tool (Intel) — essentially a source-to-source translator that can handle a number of conversions from Objective-C into JavaScript/HTML5 including the translation of APIs calls. A number of open source projects are used as foundation for the conversion including a modified version of Clang front-end, LayerD framework and jQuery Mobile for widgets rendering in the translated source code. A porting aid, not a complete translator but a lot of the dog work is done. Requires one convert to Microsoft tools, however. (via Kevin Marks)

February 21 2013

Four short links: February 21 2013

  1. Administration Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of US Trade Secrets (Whitehouse, PDF) — the Chinese attacks on Facebook, NYT, and other large organisations are provoking policy responses. WSJ covers it nicely. What is this starting? (via Alex Howard)
  2. BodyMedia FitLink — can use this to gather caloric expenditure and sleep restfulness. (via Jonathan Brewer)
  3. Bend Not Break — she had an amazing life but this caught my eye in the Make review: In China, she told me, making and craftsmanship are highly revered, and under Mao, factory jobs were prized. Her experience working in Mao’s factories planted a seed in her mind that sprouted when she sought to create her own company. Rather than launch another internet-based business as was the rage at the time, she wanted to connect software to the physical world. (via Makezine)
  4. DIY Weapons of the Syrian Rebels (The Atlantic) — if WWII France had had X-Box controllers, they’d have been releasing remote controlled homebrew deathmobiles too.

December 18 2012

DARPA and Defense Department look to a more open source future

As the United States military marches further into the age of networked warfare, data networks and the mobile platforms to distribute and access them will become even more important.

Open Source Uncle SamOpen Source Uncle SamThis fall, the (retired) eighth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff described a potential future of the military that’s founded not only in open source thinking, but in next-generation user interfaces and biohacking straight out of science fiction. If even some of the strategic thinking he described at this year’s Military Open Source Conference in D.C. is applied to how the technology that supports the next generation of war fighters is built, dramatic evolutionary changes could cascade down the entire supply chain of one of the world’s biggest organizations.

In his remarks, James E. “Hoss” Cartwright, a four-star general who retired from the United States Marine Corps in August 2011, outlined a strategic need to make military technology more modular, based upon open standards and adaptable on the battlegrounds of the future.

Cartwright, the first holder of the Harold Brown Chair in Defense Policy Studies for the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a member of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, and an adviser to several corporate entities in the defense industry, is well placed to have an informed and influential opinion.

Over the course of his talk at the Military Open Source Conference, Cartwright outlined how open source software models could be applied to hardware, making vehicles into adaptable platforms for different missions, not vertically integrated programs that can take a decade or longer to design, build or change.

Given the scope of the Pentagon’s current capabilities and DARPA’s research, potential ethics concerns abound, from drone warfare to sentient robotics to targeted genetic plagues to brain scanning to biohacking.

In that context, Cartwright prioritizing ethical qualms about secrecy, privacy and big data over those raised by biohacking was notable.

The issue that Cartwright said bothered him the most, however, was big data. “There are really no secrets out there,” he said. By exposing data to a larger dataset, it’s possible to correlate real identities. (That’s the so-called “Mosaic Effect.”)

That’s what’s now happening with network intrusions from other countries, he said, which leads to genuine national security headaches. Cartwright noted that while the federal government has huge classification protocols, they’re nearly all discoverable if you know how to correlate the information. Even correlations in anonymized data can lead to the discovery of true identities.

Big data concerns aside, Cartwright highlighted a strategic need for the U.S. Department of Defense to address these risks and develop improved man-machine interfaces, from touch screens for unmanned vehicles and weapons systems to prosthetics for veterans.

Making these changes won’t happen overnight. The relevant time scale is many years, if not decades. It’s far from easy to turn an aircraft carrier and its battle group around, much less to shift the U.S. Department of Defense’s approach to procuring and using technology. That said, hearing a retired four-star general articulate this kind of strategic thinking has stayed with me.

Biohacking on the battlefield

Retired General James E. CartwrightRetired General James E. CartwrightAt the outset of his remarks, General Cartwright shared an anecdote involving former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, where they asked a sergeant at a base in Savannah, Ga., what he though of mobile.

The sergeant said that he loved it. He would rather leave his rifle behind than a military-enabled smartphone. “I can call any help I need with it, it always works, and I don’t have to go to school for it,” Cartwright recounted the sergeant’s response.

The sergeant’s comments reflect a serious issue for the 2.5 million people who have to fight, reflected Cartwright.

“We’re asking them to go into a ‘Star Wars’ bar on a regular basis,” he said, pointing to the language challenges soldiers face abroad. “We don’t know whether they’re saying something that will get them shot or hugged.”

Improved interfaces for mobile devices are, however, just the tip of the iceberg for improvements to the connection of soldiers to vehicles and weapons systems. Radical advances in storage, processing power and robotics are also offering new opportunities to help wounded warriors.

The cutting edge now is fully mechanized, battery powered, wireless prosthetics, said Cartwright, pointing to research in San Diego. Related research successfully enabled a soldier in Walter Reed Hospital who had lost three limbs to move a prosthetic limb only by using a brain-enabled chip.

“What we found was that, as soon as they put a chip on, phantom pain went away,” said Cartwright. “The FDA just licensed one.”

Bionic limbs have been around for years, but in 2012, amputees are climbing skyscrapers and moving bionic limbs using direct neural control.

Programmable soldiers?

The event horizon Cartwright described in his comments at the conference, however, went far beyond prosthetics into a tale of potential augmentation straight out of the annals of science fiction.

The retired general described an experiment in which a mouse ran a maze with a computer chip wired into its brain. After the researchers transferred that chip to another mouse that had never seen the course, the second mouse could run the maze. Such software-driven activities, if they were to be successfully improved and tested, could have profound implications for soldiers.

For instance, could you take a recruit, provide someone basic skills, then add a chip and upgrade him from basic to full rifleman?

“It takes 66 repetitions to get a habit,” said Cartwright. “It takes tens of thousands for Olympic quality. What if you can take that down?”

Even if these kinds of experiments aren’t deployed for humans any time soon, other technologies are already far along in development.

When you hit about age 55, said Cartwright, ocular nerves and auditory nerves start to degenerate. He described ongoing experiments with wired interfaces for human’s ocular nerves where developers were writing code to interpret visual stimuli for the brain.

“We’re now at the point where you can see good forms with purely programming,” he said.

Even if this level of biohacking doesn’t make its way into use by disabled veterans next year, the need for a combination of datasets, programming, man-machine interfaces, and biological research to augment the capabilities of current war fighters is, in Cartwright’s assessment, increasingly important.

“We’re getting to the point where, absent something like this, most of our systems require you to be an engineer to run them,” he said. “We need to improve the machine interface so that anyone can use it. That’s as important as the capability itself.”

Part of developing new capabilities for warfare using the brain, however, will need to be securing those interfaces against hackers. Interfaces and access points to “wetware” will need to be hardened, just like hardware and software.

If you can’t hack it, don’t pack it

One huge challenge that the armed services are facing today, Cartwright said, is adapting code in response to what soldiers are actually encountering in the field.

We can’t send issues back and have people quickly rewrite code, he said, which presents significant problems. To put it another way, the DoD wants the armed forces to be able to “write as they fight.”

Cartwright described a pilot program where contractors and grad students were sent into the field so they could understand the problems they were working against and reduce the time to write code to address it. The results were promising: they didn’t lose any technical staff and turnaround time for patches went down drastically, once they were able to get inside the decision cycle.

Only programmers in the field can teach analytic algorithms to determine the difference between an ambush and a drug deal, said Cartwright.

“You can’t do that unless you know how to dig for data and understand context,” he said. “That’s the turnaround time that we needed to stay inside an adversary’s decision loop.”

That’s particularly relevant for networked warfare. According to Cartwright, new software works in the “cyberfight” in Afghanistan for about 9-14 days before it needs minor changes — but new systems take years to build. Top leadership in the military thinks a problem in the battlefield means that an entire new platform is needed, he said, but you’re looking at 14 years to build a new kind of truck.

Open source military hardware?

What needs to change is the incentive structures for the people building and designing the “platforms of record” in the future, said Cartwright. That means designing programs and apps for problems we actually have, versus developing something that doesn’t get into the field for 10-15 years — and if you guess wrong on who an adversary will be, that sends you into a modification cycle of at least three years.

Open source methods, by way of contrast, can give the military the ability to change software in weeks and months, not years, said Cartwright. In that context, he indicated that the Pentagon is looking at how they can move from tightly, singularly integrated programs in the direction of more open platforms and open standards, where war fighters can add or get capabilities with modularity and at a speed measured in weeks and months, not months and years.

During the question and answer period that followed his remarks, Cartwright followed up on his comments on open source. Cartwright said that the Pentagon would like to get to the point where platforms are a conveyance for the needs soldiers have, with infrastructure set up in such a way that things can be switched out.

Notably, he said that in the past few years of the financial crisis, defense technology manufacturers that are agnostic to platform are faring far better. “They’re building code — sensors, activities — and others are not,” he said, “and if one or two programs are canceled, they’re in trouble.”

Cartwright asserted that military service acquisition people have started to understand the value of flexibility of technology that enables soldiers to quickly configure technology for fights.

To scale that across the entire military, he said, they must adopt more common standards across all services. Eventually, that would mean “displays, chipsets, anybody in this room can write code against, depending upon what the customer wants.”

Cartwright said he’d like to see today’s model of open source extended to military software and hardware.

“We’re thinking about a future where everyone’s garage can be a sweat house for the military,” he said, playing to his audience of military open source conferees.

Making these changes, however, won’t be easy or fast. “We’re still an industrial nation at heart,” he said. “We’re trying to get over that.”

In response to a follow-up question, he was frank about the time it may take to shift the thinking of some acquisition officers on open source and modularity.

“We’ve been working to make it look like it’s being fixed,” he said, “but we may need to wait for people to age out.”

Image Credits: Wikipedia and

December 14 2012

Four short links: 14 December 2012

  1. Which Science to Fund: Time to Review Peer Review? (Peter Gluckman) — The study concluded that most funding decisions are a result of random effects dominated by factors such as who was the lead reviewer. In general the referee and panel review process is considered problematic. Few scientists are trained to fulfil such roles and bad peer review must result in unfair outcomes.
  2. A Bot’s Eye View (National Library of New Zealand) — Yeah, we filmed a drone with a drone.
  3. The Web We Lost (Anil Dash) — so much that has me thumping the table bellowing “YES!” in this, but I was particularly provoked by: Ten years ago, you could allow people to post links on your site, or to show a list of links which were driving inbound traffic to your site. Because Google hadn’t yet broadly introduced AdWords and AdSense, links weren’t about generating revenue, they were just a tool for expression or editorializing. The web was an interesting and different place before links got monetized, but by 2007 it was clear that Google had changed the web forever, and for the worse, by corrupting links.
  4. The Robotics Revolution (Peter Singer) — Moore’s Law has come to warfare. It won’t be tens of thousands of today’s robots, but tens of thousands of tomorrow’s robots, with far different capabilities. [...] The key to what makes a revolutionary technology is not merely its new capabilities, but its questions. Truly revolutionary technologies force us to ask new questions about what is possible that wasn’t possible a generation before. But they also force us to relook at what is proper. They raise issues of right and wrong that we didn’t have to wrestle with before.

November 29 2012

Science Podcast - Crocodile scales, Myanmar's universities, water on Mercury, and more (30 November 2012)

Researchers crack the code of crocodile scales; universities in Myanmar get a boost; MESSENGER mission answers decades-old question about water on Mercury; and more.

November 26 2012

Four short links: 26 November 2012

  1. High Levels of Burnout in US Drone Pilots (NPR) — 17 percent of active duty drone pilots surveyed are thought to be “clinically distressed.” The Air Force says this means the pilots’ stress level has crossed a threshold where it’s now affecting the pilots’ work and family. A large majority of the pilots said they’re not getting any counseling for their stress. (via Beta Knowledge)
  2. The Internet of Middle-Class Things (Russell Davies) — my mind keeps returning to this: you know, commercially, that a technology has succeeded when it’s used for inane middle-class tasks.
  3. First Draft of the Revolution (Liza Daly) — interactive fiction, playable on the web and as epub book. Very nice use of the technology!
  4. Minecraft for Raspberry Pi — see also Minecraft augmented reality for iOS. Minecraft is Lego for kids, and it can be a gateway drug to coding.

October 11 2012

Culture transmission is bi-directional

I read this piece in the New York Times the other day and have read it two or three more times since then. It dives into the controversy around DARPA’s involvement in hacker space funding. But frankly, every time I come across this controversy, I’m baffled.

I usually associate this sort of government distrust with Tea Party-led Republicans. The left, and even many of us in the middle, generally have more faith in government institutions. We’re more likely to view government as a tool to implement the collective will of the people. Lots of us figure that government is necessary, or at least useful, to accomplish things that are too big or hairy for any other group of citizens to achieve (in fact, a careful reading of Hayek will show even he thought so – commence comment flame war in 3 ..2 ..1 …).

So, to summarize, the right dislikes big government and typically the left embraces it. At least, right up until the moment the military is involved. Then the right worships big government (largely at the temple of the History Channel) and the left despises it.

Of course, I don’t know anything about the politics of the people criticizing this DARPA funding, just that they are worried that defense money will be a corrupting influence on the maker movement. Which would imply that they think Defense Department values are corrupting. And they might be right to have some concerns. While the U.S. military services are probably the single most competent piece of our entire government, the defense industrial complex that equips them is pretty damned awful. It’s inefficient, spends more time on political than actual engineering, and is where most of the world’s bad suits go to get rumpled. And there is no doubt that money is a vector along which culture and values will readily travel, so I suppose it’s reasonable to fear that the maker movement could be changed by it.

But what everyone seems to be missing is that this isn’t a one-way process and the military, via DARPA, is essentially saying “we want to absorb not just your technology but the culture of openness by which you create it.” That’s an amazing opportunity and shouldn’t be ignored. The money is one vector, but the interactions, magical projects, and collaboration are another, perhaps more powerful vector, along which the values of the maker movement can be swabbed directly into one of the most influential elements of our society. This is opportunity!

O’Reilly is participating in the DARPA MENTOR program and Dale has already discussed our involvement at length. So I need to disclose it, but this post isn’t about that. This post is about the idea that the military has been a change agent in our society many times before. This is an opportunity to do it again and for makers to influence how it happens.

For quite a few years, I worked in the defense space and, frankly, took a lot of crap for it from my friends on the left coast. But I always felt that the military was an important part of American society regardless of whether you agreed with its purpose or actual use, and that the best way to counter its less desirable tendencies was to engage with it. So while I worked my day job I also spent those years aggressively advocating open source software, emergent and incremental software processes, and “permissionless programming” web platforms for the DoD. I thought that the military could benefit from all of these things, but I also explicitly felt that they were a vector along which the cultural attributes of openness, transparency, and experimentation would readily travel. Those open and emergent ideas were a culture virus and I intended to shed them everywhere I could.

If you’re a technologist, you know that the military has always pushed the envelope. Silicon Valley itself began with Stanford’s government partnership during the Second World War. The world’s first interactive computer was Whirlwind, a component piece of the massive air defense program SAGE. So, if your vision is to unleash a democratized third industrial revolution based on the maker model, this is your opportunity. If you can insert open culture and values into the defense establishment at the same time, even better.

October 08 2012

Four short links: 8 October 2012

  1. Beware the Drones (Washington Times) — the temptation to send difficult to detect, unmanned aircraft into foreign airspace with perceived impunity means policymakers will naturally incline towards aggressive use of drones and hyperactive interventionism, leading us to a future that is ultimately plagued by more, not less warfare and conflict. This. Also, what I haven’t seen commented on with the Israeli air force shooting down a (presumably Hezbollah) drone: low cost of drones vs high cost of maintaining an air force to intercept, means this is asymmetric unmanned warfare.
  2. Scanbooth (github) — a collection of software for running a 3D scanning booth. Greg Borenstein said to me, “we need tools to scan and modify before 3D printing can take off.” (via Jeremy Herrman)
  3. Bitcoin’s Value is Decentralization (Paul Bohm) — Bitcoin isn’t just a currency but an elegant universal solution to the Byzantine Generals’ Problem, one of the core problems of reaching consensus in Distributed Systems. Until recently it was thought to not be practically solvable at all, much less on a global scale. Irrespective of its currency aspects, many experts believe Bitcoin is brilliant in that it technically made possible what was previously thought impossible. (via Mike Loukides)
  4. Blue Collar Coder (Anil Dash) — I am proud of, and impressed by, Craigslist’s ability to serve hundreds of millions of users with a few dozen employees. But I want the next Craigslist to optimize for providing dozens of jobs in each of the towns it serves, and I want educators in those cities to prepare young people to step into those jobs. Time for a Massively Multiplayer Online Economy, as opposed to today’s fun economic games of Shave The Have-Nots and Race To The Oligarchy.

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.

July 20 2012

Four short links: 20 July 2012

  1. Intercepted DronesThe demonstration of the near-disaster, led by Professor Todd Humphreys and his team at the UTA’s Radionavigation Laboratory, points to a “gaping hole” in the US’s plan to open US airspace to thousands of drones, Fox noted: namely, drones can be turned into weapons, given the right equipment. Drones are AI for the physical world: disconnected agents, unsettling because they live in this uncanny valley of almost-independence. Military drones are doubly disconcerting. If von Clauswitz were around today, he’d say drones are the computation of politics by other means.
  2. Microsoft Censors Its Cloud Storage Service — upload porn, get your accounts (all your Microsoft accounts) frozen.
  3. Uncle Sam Wants You … to Troll (Wired) — Amanullah has a different view. You don’t necessarily need to deface the forums if you can troll them to the point where their most malign influences are neutralized.
  4. Wroblewski’s Theorem“Anything that can be connected to the Internet, will be.”

February 16 2012

Exclusive: PowerPoint Shows Drone Industry’s Lobbying Plan To Expand Over Domestic, Law Enforcement Markets : Republic Report



In the presentation obtained by Republic Report, there are several fascinating concerns raised by the lobbyists:

– Page 5: Drone lobbyists claimed access to airspace and “Global Conflict – particularly U.S. and allied nation involvement in future conflicts” will “either positively or negatively” influence “market growth” for the industry.

– Page 6: The drone lobbyists take full credit for authoring the expansion of domestic drone use codified in the FAA authorization bill passed last week, noting “the only changes made to the UAS section of the House FAA bill were made at the request of AUVSI. Our suggestions were often taken word-for-word.”

– Pages 10-12: The drone industry eagerly anticipates that civil drone use, including use of drones for “suspect tracking” by law enforcement, will soon eclipse military use of drones. Under a section called “Challenges facing UAS,” the lobbyists listed “Civil Liberties.”


November 23 2011

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Egyptian Protests Rage On

Egyptians say this is not a second revolution, it's a continuation of the first one

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