Links: Oct 22, 2005

Hello from Amsterdam! Having returned from a walk through the red light district, I now peer at windows of a different kind and give you a fresh batch of links to peruse.

  • Better Desktop–usability studies by Novell, released so open source can make more usable software. Did I already linkblog this? If so, I’m sorry but it deserves attention. Usability is the traditional thorn in the side of open source, and usability is like security in that we won’t get usable or secure software while the knowledge is only held by a few people.
  • Google adds tagging to bookmark history–now they have a license to keep track of your searches, they’re letting you bookmark and add metadata to those searches. It will be interesting to see whether they try to use that information in pagerank, how it’ll be gamed if they do, and how they’ll try to filter out the rankspammers when that happens.
  • Seaside–nifty web framework that’s getting buzz from the alpha geeks. It’s written in Squeak, aka Smalltalk. Perhaps the concepts and elegance of Seaside will see life realized in another language? Or is this Smalltalk’s killer app the way Rails was Ruby’s?
  • Science Finds New Patterns–overview of some interesting work done around pattern recognition. Notable that bioinformatics techniques are being reused in other areas (“another of his text-analysis projects, subsumer, applies techniques from DNA analysis to looking for common words in news stories and blog entries on the Internet”).
  • Memeorandum–automatic newspaper built by clustering technology drawing from newspapers and blogs. Wired News piece on memeorandum.
  • Tech sector job cuts up 18.8% so far in ’05–odd how Silicon Valley is hiring hiring hiring yet everyone else is firing firing firing. The big question is who’s leading whom? Is Google’s improbable ascent the precursor to a humbling tumble, or will the IT world hire as the goodies invented in Silicon Valley permeate through industries?
  • A Journey to a Thousand Maps Begins With an Open Code (reg. required)–NYT piece on Google Map hacking. Wow, Jef Poskanzer quoted! I know him as the author of the netpbm graphics suite from the early 90s. Compare the NYT piece with Technology Review’s bit titled “Killer Maps”.
  • Stanford on iTunes–brilliant way to distribute the lectures. I wonder whether they use “album art” for illustrations, the way Phil Torrone did, turning it into a kind of screencast.
  • The Antikythera mechanism, the clockwork computer–reverse engineering retro computing from a 2100 year old shipwreck. And this is without manufacturer manuals, HOWTOs, or even spare parts from eBay. And it had already been turned into a brick (much like what happens if you misapply a firmware update to your PSP so you can run homebrew games.