Four short links: 25 October 2011

Smart Thermostat, Lamer News, Expensive Meaning, and Hardware Kits

  1. Nest Learning Thermostat — learns how long it takes your house to adjust temperature, so can tell you not just “it’s 55 now” but “it’ll be 65 in 16 minutes”. Looks gorgeous as well as being a good example of embedded intelligence. Data really does make everything better.
  2. lamernews (Github) — an implementation of a Reddit / Hacker News style news web site written using Ruby, Sinatra, Redis and jQuery.
  3. Information is Cheap, Meaning is Expensive — interview with George Dyson. That quote is a wonderful summary of why data is important. But George also says: The danger is not that machines are advancing. The danger is that we are losing our intelligence if we rely on computers instead of our own minds. On a fundamental level, we have to ask ourselves: Do we need human intelligence? And what happens if we fail to exercise it? (via Mathew Ingram)
  4. Cubelets, Littlebits, and Others (Russell Davies) — he’s been playing with some sweet hardware kits. It’s not new and surprising behaviour in a toy and it’s not unbuildable with Lego or Mecanno. But there’s something different and good about being able to do it so quickly, roughly and spontaneously – throwing bits together and getting behaviour out. Not following instructions or typing laboriously. That ease makes it magical and educational – you start to understand the functions of things as a builder not a thinker. (Slightly, you know, slightly – at a lego level, not at a 5-year engineering degree level, but it’s a start.)
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