Nat Torkington

Nat has chaired the O'Reilly Open Source Convention and other O'Reilly conferences for over a decade. He ran the first web server in New Zealand, co-wrote the best-selling Perl Cookbook, and was one of the founding Radar bloggers. He lives in New Zealand and consults in the Asia-Pacific region.

Four short links: 17 April 2014

Four short links: 17 April 2014

Foresight and Innovation, Artificial Intelligence, Consumer IoT, and Gender Disparity


  1. Playbook for Strategic Foresight & Innovation — MANY pages of framework and exercises. Good for what it is, but also as a model for how to disseminate your ideas and frame for the world to consume.
  2. Why I’m a Crabby Patty About AI and Cognitive Science (Fredrik Deboer) — huzzah! the current lack of progress in artificial intelligence is not a problem of insufficient processing power. Talking about progress in artificial intelligence by talking about increasing processor power is simply a non sequitur. If we knew the problems to be solved by more powerful processors, we’d already have solved some of the central questions!
  3. Four Types of Consumer Internet of Things Things (BERG London) — nice frame for the different needs of the different types of products and services.
  4. We Can Do Bettera visualisation of the gender disparity in engineering teams in the tech industry.
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Four short links: 16 April 2014

Four short links: 16 April 2014

Time Series, CT Scanner, Reading List, and Origami Microscope

  1. morris.jspretty time-series line graphs.
  2. Open Source CT Scanner — all the awesome.
  3. Alan Kay’s Reading List — in case you’re wondering what to add to the pile beside your bed. (via Alex Dong)
  4. Foldscope — origami optical microscope, 2000x magnification for under $1.
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Four short links: 15 April 2014

Four short links: 15 April 2014

Open Access, Lego Scanner, Humans Return, and Designing Security into IoT

  1. Funders Punish Open Access Dodgers (Nature) — US’s NIH and UK’s Wellcome Trust are withholding funding from academics who haven’t released their data despite it being a condition of past funding. It’s open access’s grab twist and pull move.
  2. Digitize Books with Mindstorms and Raspberry Pi — Lego to turn the page, Pi to take photo.
  3. Humans Steal Jobs from Robots at Toyota (Bloomberg) — Toyota’s next step forward is counter-intuitive in an age of automation: Humans are taking the place of machines in plants across Japan so workers can develop new skills and figure out ways to improve production lines and the car-building process.
  4. Implementer’s Guide to Security for Internet of Things, Devices and Beyond (PDF) — This white paper outlines a set of practical and pragmatic security considerations for organisations designing, developing and, testing Internet of Things (IoT) devices and solutions. The purpose of this white paper is to provide practical advice for consideration as part of the product development lifecycle.
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Four short links: 14 April 2014

Four short links: 14 April 2014

dategrep, Agile Signoff, Feedback Speed, and Modern Dev

  1. dategrepprint lines matching ranges of dates. Genius!
  2. Business Case Guidance in Agile Projects (gov.uk) — how the UK govt signs off on Agile projects, which normally governments have no clue over how to handle properly.
  3. Hyper Growth Done Right“While I was at Oracle, it took a month before a new engineer would get any code in,” Agarwal says. “It sent this implicit message that it’s okay to take a month to write some code.” First time I’d heard this wise point articulated: slow feedback loops send the message that progress can be slow.
  4. Docker + Github + Jenkins — clever integration of the three tools to get repeatable continuous integration. The modern dev environment has workflow built on git, VMs, and glue.
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Four short links: 10 April 2014

Four short links: 10 April 2014

Rise of the Patent Troll, Farm Data, The Block Chain, and Better Writing

  1. Rise of the Patent Troll: Everything is a Remix (YouTube) — primer on patent trolls, in language anyone can follow. Part of the fixpatents.org campaign. (via BoingBoing)
  2. Petabytes of Field Data (GigaOm) — Farm Intelligence using sensors and computer vision to generate data for better farm decision making.
  3. Bullish on Blockchain (Fred Wilson) — our 2014 fund will be built during the blockchain cycle. “The blockchain” is bitcoin’s distributed consensus system, interesting because it’s the return of p2p from the Chasm of Ridicule or whatever the Gartner Trite Cycle calls the time between first investment bubble and second investment bubble under another name.
  4. Hemingway — online writing tool to help you make your writing clear and direct. (via Nina Simon)
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Four short links: 9 April 2014

Four short links: 9 April 2014

Internet of Listeners, Mobile Deep Belief, Crowdsourced Spectrum Data, and Quantum Minecraft

  1. Jasper Projectan open source platform for developing always-on, voice-controlled applications. Shouting is the new swiping—I eagerly await Gartner touting the Internet-of-things-that-misunderstand-you.
  2. DeepBeliefSDK — deep neural network library for iOS. (via Pete Warden)
  3. Microsoft Spectrum Observatory — crowdsourcing spectrum utilisation information. Just open sourced their code.
  4. qcraft — beginner’s guide to quantum physics in Minecraft. (via Nelson Minar)
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Four short links: 8 April 2014

Four short links: 8 April 2014

Our Robot Future, Embeddable Pi, Behavioural Economics Not Solved Problem, and Imagine Processing Language

  1. Next Five Years for Robots — plausible summary of the near future progression, taken from Helen Greiner’s DEMOlabs talk.
  2. Raspberry Pi Compute Modulea Raspberry Pi shrunk down to fit on a SODIMM with onboard memory, whose connectors you can customise for your own needs. (via Makezine)
  3. Behavioural Economics and Public Policy (Financial Times) — interesting how A/B trials revealed that implementations of Cialdini’s social proof didn’t test as well as non-social-proof persuasive techniques. More useful than something that claims to be the right answer is knowing when you’re closer to the right answer. (via Mind Hacks)
  4. Halide Language — open source programming language designed to make it easier to write high-performance image processing code on modern machines. Its current front end is embedded in C++. Compiler targets include x86/SSE, ARM v7/NEON, CUDA, Native Client, and OpenCL.
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Four short links: 7 April 2014

Four short links: 7 April 2014

Auto Ethics, Baio on Medium, Internet of Insecure Things, New Unlicensed Spectrum

  1. Can We Design Systems to Automate Ethics — code in self-driving cars will implement a solution to the trolley problem. But which solution?
  2. My First Post on Medium (Andy Baio) — one or two glitches but otherwise fine demonstration of what’s possible with Medium.
  3. SCADA Vulnerability: 7600 Plants at Risk (BBC) — the vulnerabilities are in unpatched Centum CS 3000 software. The real business for IoT is secure remote updates and monitoring. (via Slashdot)
  4. New Unlicensed SpectrumThe unanimous vote frees up 100 MHz of airwaves in the lower part of 5 GHz spectrum band. Previously, the FCC reserved those airwaves for exclusive use by a satellite phone company. The FCC vote opens those unlicensed airwaves so they can be used by consumer electronics equipment, including Wi-Fi routers. With the new airwaves, Wi-Fi equipment can handle more traffic at higher speeds.
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Four short links: 4 April 2014

Four short links: 4 April 2014

MSFT Opening, Declarative Web, Internet Utility, and Design Fiction Reading List

  1. C# Compiler Open Sourced — bit by the bit, the ship of Microsoft turns.
  2. The Web’s Declarative Composable Future — this. For the first time since 1993, I feel like the web platform is taking a step towards being a real platform (vs simply bolting features on the side).
  3. Why the Government Should Provide Internet Access — video interview with Susan Crawford about why the Internet should be treated like a utility. She’s the only policy person I see talking sense. There’s a multilarity coming, when a critical mass of everyday objects are connected to each other via the Internet and offline devices become as useful as an ox-drawn cart on railway tracks. At that point it’s too late to argue you need affordable predator-proof Internet, because you’re already over the (sensing, e-ink covered, Arduino-powered) barrel. (via BoingBoing)
  4. Design Fiction: A BibliographySome resources about design fiction I’m use to share with students.
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Four short links: 3 April 2014

Four short links: 3 April 2014

Github for Data, Open Laptop, Crowdsourced Analysis, and Open Source Scraping

  1. dat — github-like tool for data, still v. early. It’s overdue. (via Nelson Minar)
  2. Novena Open Laptop — Bunnie Huang’s laptop goes on sale.
  3. Crowd Forecasting (NPR) — How is it possible that a group of average citizens doing Google searches in their suburban town homes can outpredict members of the United States intelligence community with access to classified information?
  4. Portia — open source visual web scraping tool.
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