Four short links: 17 June 2009

Word Mining, Open Ideas, Power Meter BotNet, and Realtime Web Traffic Tracking

  1. NY Times Mines Its Data To Identify Words That Readers Find Abstruse — the feature that lets you highlight a word on a NY Times web page and get more information about it is something that irritates me. I’m fascinated by the analysis of their data: boggling that sumptuary is less perplexing than solipsistic. Louche (#3 on the list) has been my favourite word for two years, by the way, since I heard Dylan Moran toss it out in that uniquely facile way the Irish have with words. I think Irish citizens get this incredible competence with the English language for free, along with staggering house prices and beer you can walk on.
  2. Open Ideas — Alex Payne’s blog of Concepts in the public domain, awaiting collaboration and appropriation.
  3. Buggy ‘smart meters’ open door to power-grid botnet (The Register) — Paul Graham said that we’ve found what we get when we cross a television with a computer: a computer. Similarly, intelligent power meters are computers, computers that apparently haven’t been well-secured. To prove his point, Davis and his IOActive colleagues designed a worm that self-propagates across a large number of one manufacturer’s smart meter. Once infected, the device is under the control of the malware developers in much the way infected PCs are under the spell of bot herders. Attackers can then send instructions that cause its software to turn power on or off and reveal power usage or sensitive system configuration settings.
  4. Chartbeat — the sexiest web analytics ever. It gives realtime count of users, whether they’re reading or writing (based on whether focus is in a form element), where they’re from, mentions on Twitter, and more and more and more. This is a different form of analytics than Google Analytics, which tells you trends and historical access. Love this for the pure sex appeal of a heads-up dashboard that can tell you exactly how many people are on your site and exactly what they’re doing. (via Artur)
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