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: 21 November 2014

Four short links: 21 November 2014

Power Assist, Changing Minds, Inside Index, and Poop History

  1. Wearable Power Assist Device Goes on Sale in Japan (WSJ, Paywall) — The Muscle Suit, which weighs 5.5 kilograms (12 pounds), can be worn knapsack-style and uses a mouthpiece as its control. Unlike other similar suits that rely on motors, it uses specially designed rubber tubes and compressed air as the source of its power. The Muscle Suit can help users pick up everyday loads with about a third of the usual effort. […] will sell for about ¥600,000 ($5,190), and is also available for rent at about ¥30,000 to ¥50,000 per month. Prof. Kobayashi said he expected the venture would ship 5,000 of them in 2015. (via Robot Economics)
  2. Debunking Handbook — techniques for helping people to change their beliefs (hint: showing them data rarely does it). (via Tom Stafford)
  3. Building a Complete Tweet Index (Twitter) — engineering behind the massive searchable Tweet collection: indexes roughly half a trillion documents and serves queries with an average latency of under 100ms.
  4. History of the Poop Emoji (Fast Company) — In Japanese, emoji are more like characters than random animated emoticons.
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Four short links: 20 November 2014

Four short links: 20 November 2014

Postmortems, Cloud Triggers, IoT Desires, and Barbie Can Code

  1. The Infinite Hows (John Allspaw) — when finding ways to improve systems to prevent errors, the process of diagnosis should be focused on the systems and less on the people. (aka “human error” is the result of a preceding systems error.) (aka “design for failure.”)
  2. Amazon Lambda — triggers in the cloud.
  3. Enchanted Objects (PNG) — organizing the Internet of Thing by human desires. (via Designing the Enchanted Future)
  4. Barbie Remixed (PDF) — brilliant remix of a book that missed the mark into one that hits the bullseye.
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Four short links: 19 November 2014

Four short links: 19 November 2014

Current Software Practices, Future Science Practices, Javascript Typechecking, and Microservices for Scala

  1. Distributed Developer Stack Field Guide (O’Reilly) — making sense of what software development and deployment now looks like. (via O’Reilly Radar)
  2. Data Capture for the Real World (Cameron Neylon) — there’s a huge opportunity for science IT: tracking data as scientists do their work, and then with massive audit trails and provenance info. Think Salesforce for experiments.
  3. Flow — static type checking for Javascript, from Facebook.
  4. ColossusI/O and Microservice library for Scala from Tumblr engineering.
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Four short links: 18 November 2014

Four short links: 18 November 2014

A Worm Mind Forever LEGO Voyaging, Automatic Caption Generator, ELK Stack, and Amazonian Deployment

  1. A Worm’s Mind in a Lego Body — the c. elegans worm’s 302 neurons has been sequenced, modelled in open source code, and now hooked up to a Lego robot. It is claimed that the robot behaved in ways that are similar to observed C. elegans. Stimulation of the nose stopped forward motion. Touching the anterior and posterior touch sensors made the robot move forward and back accordingly. Stimulating the food sensor made the robot move forward. There is video.
  2. Show and Tell: A Neural Image Caption Generator — Google Research paper on generating captions like “Two pizzas sitting on top of a stove top oven” from a photo. Wow.
  3. Big Data with the ELK Stack — ElasticSearch, logstash, and Kibana. Interesting and powerful combination of tools!
  4. Apollo: Amazon’s Deployment EngineApollo will stripe the rolling update to simultaneously deploy to an equivalent number of hosts in each location. This keeps the fleet balanced and maximizes redundancy in the case of any unexpected events. When the fleet scales up to handle higher load, Apollo automatically installs the latest version of the software on the newly added hosts. Lust.
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Four short links: 17 November 2014

Four short links: 17 November 2014

Tut Tut ISPs, Distributing Old Datastores, Secure Containers, and Design Workflow

  1. ISPs Remove Their Customers’ Email Encryption (EFF) — ISPs have apparently realised that man-in-the-middle is their business model.
  2. Dynomite (Netflix) — a sharding and replication layer. Dynomite can make existing non-distributed datastores, such as Redis or Memcached, into a fully distributed & multi-datacenter replicating datastore.
  3. After Dockersmaller, easier to manage, more secure containers via unikernels and immutable infrastructure.
  4. Pixelapse — something between Dropbox and Github for the design workflow and artifacts.
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Four short links: 14 November 2014

Four short links: 14 November 2014

Completing Maps, ChatOps, Career Design, and Data Privacy

  1. Missing Maps Fill In the Blanks (New Scientist) — OpenStreetMap project to crowdmap slums around the world.
  2. Chatops — devops deployment chatter with Hubot.
  3. Alternatives to Tech Career Ladders — Spotify trying to figure out how to keep engineers challenged as they become more senior.
  4. Mozilla’s Data Privacy Principles — well-articulated and useful: without pre-defined principles, it’s so easy to accidentally collect or poorly protect data.
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Four short links: 13 November 2014

Four short links: 13 November 2014

Material Design, GitHub Communication, Priority Queues, and DevOps Learnings

  1. Materialize — another web implementation of Material Design.
  2. Communicating at Github — interesting take on making visible and optimising for the conversations and decisions that form culture but are otherwise invisible.
  3. MultiQueues — an approach for parallel access to priority queues.
  4. Devops LearningsWe view DevOps as the missing components of agile – the enabler for getting it out of the door and closing the loop between software engineer and customer.
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Four short links: 12 November 2014

Four short links: 12 November 2014

Material Design, Inflatable Robots, Printable Awesome, and Graph Modelling

  1. CSS and React to Implement Material Design — as I said earlier, it will be interesting to see if Material Design becomes a common UI style for the web.
  2. Current State of Inflatable Robots — I’d missed the amazing steps forward in control that were made in pneumatic robots. Check out the OtherLab tentacle!
  3. Dinosaur Skull Showerhead — 3D-printable add-on to your shower. (via Archie McPhee)
  4. Data Modelling in Graph Databases — how to build the graph structure by working back from the questions you’ll ask of it.
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Four short links: 11 November 2014

Four short links: 11 November 2014

High-Volume Logs, Regulated Broadband, Oculus Web, and Personal Data Vacuums

  1. Infrastructure for Data Streams — describing the high-volume log data use case for Apache Kafka, and how it plays out in storage and infrastructure.
  2. Obama: Treat Broadband and Mobile as Utility (Ars Technica) — In short, Obama is siding with consumer advocates who have lobbied for months in favor of reclassification while the telecommunications industry lobbied against it.
  3. MozVR — a website, and the tools that made it, designed to be seen through the Oculus Rift.
  4. All Cameras are Police Cameras (James Bridle) — how the slippery slope is ridden: When the Wall was initially constructed, the public were informed that this [automatic license plate recognition] data would only be held, and regularly purged, by Transport for London, who oversee traffic matters in the city. However, within less than five years, the Home Secretary gave the Metropolitan Police full access to this system, which allowed them to take a complete copy of the data produced by the system. This permission to access the data was granted to the Police on the sole condition that they only used it when National Security was under threat. But since the data was now in their possession, the Police reclassified it as “Crime” data and now use it for general policing matters, despite the wording of the original permission. As this data is not considered to be “personal data” within the definition of the law, the Police are under no obligation to destroy it, and may retain their ongoing record of all vehicle movements within the city for as long as they desire.
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Four short links: 10 November 2014

Four short links: 10 November 2014

Metascience, Bio Fab, Real-time Emoji, and Phone Library

  1. Metascience Could Rescue the Replication Crisis (Nature) — Metascience, the science of science, uses rigorous methods to examine how scientific practices influence the validity of scientific conclusions. (via Ed Yong)
  2. OpenTrons (Kickstarter) — 3d-printer style frame for micropipetting, magnetic micro-bead washes, and photography. Open source and kickstarterated. (via Evil Mad Scientist)
  3. Emoji Tracker — real-time emoji use across Twitter. (via Chris Aniszczyk)
  4. libphonenumber — open source Google’s common Java, C++ and Javascript library for parsing, formatting, storing and validating international phone numbers. The Java version is optimized for running on smartphones, and is used by the Android framework since 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
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