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Four short links: 14 July 2011

Microchip Archaeology, OSM Map Library, Feedback Loops for Public Expenditure, and Mind-reading Big Data

  1. Digging into Technology’s Past — stories of the amazing work behind the visual 6502 project and how they reconstructed and simulated the legendary 6502 chip. To analyze and then preserve the 6502, James treated it like the site of an excavation. First, he needed to expose the actual chip by removing its packaging of essentially “billiard-ball plastic.” He eroded the casing by squirting it with very hot, concentrated sulfuric acid. After cleaning the chip with an ultrasonic cleaner—much like what’s used for dentures or contact lenses—he could see its top layer.
  2. Leaflet — BSD-licensed lightweight Javascript library for interactive maps, using the Open Street Map.
  3. Too Many Public Works Built on Rosy Scenarios (Bloomberg) — a feedback loop with real data being built to improve accuracy estimating infrastructure project costs. He would like to see better incentives — punishment for errors, rewards for accuracy — combined with a requirement that forecasts not only consider the expected characteristics of the specific project but, once that calculation is made, adjust the estimate based on an “outside view,” reflecting the cost overruns of similar projects. That way, the “unexpected” problems that happen over and over again would be taken into consideration.
    Such scrutiny would, of course, make some projects look much less appealing — which is exactly what has happened in the U.K., where “reference-class forecasting” is now required. “The government stopped a number of projects dead in their tracks when they saw the forecasts,” Flyvbjerg says. “This had never happened before.”
  4. Neurovigil Gets Cash Injection To Read Your Mind (FastCompany) — “an anonymous American industrialist and technology visionary” put tens of millions into this company, which has hardware to gather mineable data. iBrain promises to open a huge pipeline of data with its powerful but simple brain-reading tech, which is gaining traction thanks to technological advances. But the other half of the potentailly lucrative equation is the ability to analyze the trove of data coming from iBrain. And that’s where NeuroVigil’s SPEARS algorithm enters the picture. Not only is the company simplifying collection of brain data with a device that can be relatively comfortably worn during all sorts of tasks–sleeping, driving, watching advertising–but the combination of iBrain and SPEARS multiplies the efficiency of data analysis. (via Vaughan Bell)
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