November 2009 Archives

The iPhone: Tricorder Version 1.0?

The iPhone, in addition to revolutionizing how people thought about mobile phone user interfaces, also was one of the first devices to offer a suite of sensors measuring everything from the visual environment to position to acceleration, all in a package that could fit in your shirt pocket. On December 3rd, O’Reilly will be offering a one-day online edition of the Where 2.0 conference, focusing on the iPhone sensors, and what you can do with them.

What Does Innovative Social Engagement Look Like For Businesses and Governments?

I’ve been thinking about the topic of Government 2.0 a lot lately. Part of this topic deals with the multi-directional engagement between government and citizens. It seems to me that everyone can celebrate the fact that government entities merely have a YouTube channel here, a Twitter account there, or a Blogger profile some other place (the so-called “TGIF revolution”), or we can think a little harder about what the goals of citizen engagement really might be, and how to go about achieving them.

Four short links: 17 November 2009

Four short links: 17 November 2009

Digital Natives, Supersexy C64 Debugger, a Google Tripwire, and a Patient Botnet

  1. Digital Natives (Ze Frank) — digital natives have grown up in a landscape where access to information and influence has been flattened. they have watched media distribution bottlenecks in the form of networks and studios lose influence to youtube and independent production houses. They have watched companies bow down to viral video critiques, and watched political systems get hacked by social networks. this is a generation that doesn’t understand restrictions on access to media if those restrictions are inefficient or obviously detrimental to the system as a whole. this is a generation that has been at war with DRM and copyright right from the start. it is a generation awash with free tutorials and download-able source code. When is a conversation with a precocious 17 year old a glimpse into an inter-generational gulf with implications for the role and status of formal education, and when is it just an encounter with a brat? Ze’s piece is worth reading, whichever way it comes out.
  2. ICU64 — an open source Commodore 64 emulator (Frodo) hacked to visually and textually display memory. Watch the video embedded below, it’s hypnotic and seductive. It immediately made me want one for my programs (without having to port my code back to 6502 assembler). (via waxy whose return from pneumonia is greatly welcomed)
  3. Me and Belle du Jour — interesting story from a UK blog master who guessed her identity but kept it secret, creating a googlewhacked page as a tripwire to let him know when someone else guessed. He tipped her off that her cover was blown. (via waxy again)
  4. The Hail Mary Cloud — the world’s slowest yet effective brute force attack. If you publish your user name and password, somebody who is not you will use it, sooner or later. A botnet is brute-force trying every known username and password combination against every known ssh server. Each attempt in theory has monumental odds against succeeding, but occasionally the guess will be right and they have scored a login. As far as we know, this is at least the third round of password guessing from the Hail Mary Cloud (see the archives for earlier postings about slow bruteforcers), but there could have been earlier rounds that escaped our attention.

Outperforming Books at Getting a Job Done

Clay Christensen talks about how people hire products to do jobs for them, and for a very long time books have been the best performers at doing certain types of jobs. That's changing of course, and the crop of new Augmented Reality applications should be on the radar of many types of publisher, from travel to fiction to repair manuals:…

Turning Predictions into Opportunities

The view from the eye of a recession isn't great. When companies are going bust, unemployment growing, and everyone's scouring their budgets for costs to cut, it can be hard to see opportunities. However, when Tim pointed to Stephen O'Grady's fine set of 2010 predictions I found myself popping with "oh, so naturally this will happen next …" thoughts. Think…

The War For the Web

It is becoming clear to me that we are heading into a bloody period of competition that could be extremely unfriendly to the interoperable web as we know it today. If you've followed my thinking about Web 2.0 from the beginning, you know that I believe we are engaged in a long term project to build an internet operating system. I've outlined a few of the ways that big players like Facebook, Apple, and News Corp are potentially breaking the "small pieces loosely joined" model of the Internet. But perhaps most threatening of all are the natural monopolies created by Web 2.0 network effects. We're facing the prospect of Facebook as the platform, Apple as the platform, Google as the platform, Amazon as the platform, where big companies slug it out until one is king of the hill. And it's time for developers to take a stand. If you don't want a repeat of the PC era, place your bets now on open systems. Don't wait till it's too late.

Four short links: 16 November 2009

Four short links: 16 November 2009

Visualizing Adventures, Droid Deployments, Fly Vision, and Mass Meat For You

  1. Choose Your Own Adventure — numerical and visual analysis of the Choose Your Own Adventure novels. The distinguishing characteristic of My Kind Of People is that they appreciate the quantitative study of the commonplace. (via Bryan O’Sullivan)
  2. Tracking Droid Numbers — uLocate, the makers of the Where app for Android, have been tracking the growth of the Droid phone using the data they get from the Android app store. (via BoyGenius Report)
  3. Fly Eyes Makes Better Robot Visionto make smaller flying robots, researchers would like to find a simpler way of processing motion. Inspiration has come from the lowly fly, which uses just a relative handful of neurons to maneuver with extraordinary dexterity. And for more than a decade, O’Carroll and other researchers researchers have painstakingly studied the optical flight circuits of flies, measuring their cell-by-cell activity and turning evolution’s solutions into a set of computational principles. […] Intriguingly, the algorithm doesn’t work nearly as well if any one operation is omitted. The sum is greater than the whole, and O’Carroll and Brinkworth don’t know why. Because the parameters are in constant feedback-driven flux, it produces a cascade of non-linear equations that are difficult to untangle in retrospect, and almost impossible to predict. (via Slashdot)
  4. Meat Band Aids and Mass Production of Living TissueApligraf is a matrix of cow collagen, human fibroblasts and keratinocyte stem cells (from discarded circumcisions), that, when applied to chronic wounds (particularly nasty problems like diabetic sores), can seed healing and regeneration. This Gizmodo Q&A is informative.

Ignite NYC on 11/16: Gov 2.0, Body Hacks, and Hi-Tech Craft

The Web 2.0 Expo starts tomorrow, 11/16, in NYC. We're kicking off the conference with an Ignite featuring 14 great speakers. The event is at the New World Stages. I'll be co-hosting with Ignite NYC organizer Tikva Morowati. As always each speaker gets just five minutes on stage. Their presentation will each be just 20 slides that each auto-advance…

It's in the Bag! The Apple Tablet Computing Device

In the past 25 years, the 'personal' computing revolution has evolved from tethered (desktop) to luggable (portable) to joined-at-the-hip (mobile). The author argues that the next wave of computing will extend this level of personal attachment to the bag-carrying consumer (think: purses, backpacks and briefcases) when Apple releases it’s much rumored Tablet Computing Device. Read more…

Four short links: 13 November 2009

Four short links: 13 November 2009

Open Source Design, Interesting NoSQL Use, Copyright Documentary, Location Intelligence

  1. Open Source Enters The World of Atoms — an academic statistical analysis of open design. We indicated that, in open design communities, tangible objects can be developed in very similar fashion to software; one could even say that people treat a design as source code to a physical object and change the object via changing the source.
  2. Why I Like Redis (Simon Willison) — coherent explanation of why Simon likes and uses a particular nosql system. I can run a long running batch job in one Python interpreter (say loading a few million lines of CSV in to a Redis key/value lookup table) and run another interpreter to play with the data that’s already been collected, even as the first process is streaming data in. I can quit and restart my interpreters without losing any data. And because Redis semantics map closely to Python native data types, I don’t have to think for more than a few seconds about how I’m going to represent my data.
  3. © kiwiright (Vimeo) — short documentary about copyright, made to raise awareness of the issues in New Zealand. (just as applicable to the rest of the world)
  4. Your Movements Speak For Themselves (Jeff Jonas) — Mobile devices in America are generating something like 600 billion geo-spatially tagged transactions per day. Every call, text message, email and data transfer handled by your mobile device creates a transaction with your space-time coordinate (to roughly 60 meters accuracy if there are three cell towers in range), whether you have GPS or not. Got a Blackberry? Every few minutes, it sends a heartbeat, creating a transaction whether you are using the phone or not. If the device is GPS-enabled and you’re using a location-based service your location is accurate to somewhere between 10 and 30 meters. Using Wi-Fi? It is accurate below10 meters. A thought-provoking roundup of the information leakage with modern locative systems. (via TomC on Twitter)