Four short links: 24 February 2014

Your Brain on Code, Internet of Compromised Things, Waiting for Wearables, and A/B Illusions

  1. Understanding Understanding Source Code with Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (PDF) — we observed 17 participants inside an fMRI scanner while they were comprehending short source-code snippets, which we contrasted with locating syntax error. We found a clear, distinct activation pattern of five brain regions, which are related to working memory, attention, and language processing. I’m wary of fMRI studies but welcome more studies that try to identify what we do when we code. (Or, in this case, identify syntax errors—if they wanted to observe real programming, they’d watch subjects creating syntax errors) (via Slashdot)
  2. Oobleck Security (O’Reilly Radar) — if you missed or skimmed this, go back and reread it. The future will be defined by the objects that turn on us. 50s scifi was so close but instead of human-shaped positronic robots, it’ll be our cars, HVAC systems, light bulbs, and TVs. Reminds me of the excellent Old Paint by Megan Lindholm.
  3. Google Readying Android Watch — just as Samsung moves away from Android for smart watches and I buy me and my wife a Pebble watch each for our anniversary. Watches are in the same space as Goggles and other wearables: solutions hunting for a problem, a use case, a killer tap. “OK Google, show me offers from brands I love near me” isn’t it (and is a low-lying operating system function anyway, not a userland command).
  4. Most Winning A/B Test Results are Illusory (PDF) — Statisticians have known for almost a hundred years how to ensure that experimenters don’t get misled by their experiments [...] I’ll show how these methods ensure equally robust results when applied to A/B testing.
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  • http://broadcast.oreilly.com/david-collier-brown/ davecb

    One thing a watch would be good for is keeping temporary copies of my
    crypto keys, so that they wouldn’t get lost with my laptop or phone. It
    could then use short-ranged communication with my phone when I wanted to
    decrypt an email. You’d have the master key at home, of course, with a
    similar short-ranged communication link for updating the watch.

    A policeman with a court order could get it from me, of course, as
    could a robber with a hatchet (;-)) but keeping stuff I want strapped to
    me is a good used for a watch.

    Way better than depending on fingerprints or eyeballs, as I can
    update it, so it could also be used for door keys at work, turning on my
    desktop when I get close and so on.