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.
Object Lessons — Bogost and Schaberg edit a series about the hidden lives of ordinary things, from advocates to attendants, heresies to shares. For anyone who cares about products.
A Data Programming CS1 Course (PDF) — We have found that students can be motivated to learn programming and computer science concepts in order to analyze DNA, predict the outcome of elections, detect fraudulent data, suggest friends in a social network, determine the authorship of documents, and more. The approach is more than just a collection of “nifty assignments”; rather, it affects the choice of topics and pedagogy.
Cars and the Future (Ben Thompson) — This generational pattern of adoption will, in the history books, look sudden, even as it seems to unfold ever so slowly for those of us in the here and now — especially those of us working in technology. The pace of change in the technology industry — which is young, hugely driven by Moore’s Law, and which has largely catered to change-embracing geeks — is likely the true aberration. After all, the biggest mistake consistently made by technologists is forgetting that for most people technology is a means to an end, and for all the benefits we can list when it comes to over-the-top video or a network of on-demand self-driving vehicles, change and the abandonment of long-held ideals like the open road and a bit of TV after supper is an end most would prefer to avoid.
CES 2016 Observations for Product People — The big challenge is no surprise. Software development is unable to keep up with the hardware. What is going to separate one device from another or one company from another will be the software execution, not just the choice of chipset or specs for a peripheral/sensor. It would be hard to overstate the clear opportunity to build winning products using stronger software relative to competitors. Said another way, spending too many cycles on hardware pits you against the supply chain for most products. The whole piece is solid.
Overview of the Civilian Drone Market (DIY Drones) — Six categories: toy quadcopters; FPV/racing; consumer camera drones; prosumer camera drones; consumers, industrial, agricultural, NGO and Research drones; winged and VTOL drones.
Bottom Up Computer Science — A free, online book designed to teach computer science from the bottom end up. Topics covered include binary and binary logic, operating systems internals, toolchain fundamentals, and system library fundamentals.
Tesla Model S Can Now Drive Without You (TechCrunch) — the upside of the Internet of Things is that objects get smarter while you sleep. (In fairness, they can also be pwned by Ukrainian teenagers while you sleep.)
Replacing Judgement with Algorithms (Bruce Schneier) — We can get the benefits of automatic algorithmic systems while avoiding the dangers. It’s not even hard. Transparency and oversight with accountability.
Open Source Firmware for Toy Drones — The Eachine H8 is a typical-looking mini-quadcopter of the kind that sell for under $20.[…] takes you through a step-by-step guide to re-flashing the device with a custom firmware to enable acrobatics, or simply to tweak the throttle-to-engine-speed mapping for the quad. (via DIY Drones)
Mobile Web vs. Native Apps or Why You Want Both (Luke Wroblewski) — The Web is for audience reach and native apps are for rich experiences. Both are strategic. Both are valuable. So when it comes to mobile, it’s not Web vs. Native. It’s both. The graphs are impressive.
SLOTH — weak hash functions continue to be used in various cryptographic constructions within mainstream protocols such as TLS, IKE, and SSH, because practitioners argue that their use in these protocols relies only on second preimage resistance, and hence is unaffected by collisions. We systematically investigate and debunk this argument.
DFW Home of Body Modding — Dallas is at the center of two movements that are each trying to bring implants to the mainstream. Tattoo artists and technophiles head one, and well-heeled university neurologists and medical device engineers form the vanguard of the other.
On the Dangers of a Blockchain Monoculture — Would you use a database with these features? Uses approximately the same amount of electricity as could power an average American household for a day per transaction; Supports 3 transactions / second across a global network with millions of CPUs/purpose-built ASICs; Takes over 10 minutes to “commit” a transaction; […]
Science on a Sphere — for when you want to see global data visualised without 2-D projection distortion.
Lebowsky and Sterling’s 2016 State of the World — These physical barriers will suffer the “Fukushima effect:” the dikes you built to resist the tsunami only hold those catastrophic waters in, once the almighty wave comes over the top. Also, the industrial complex you are trying to protect from natural disaster becomes the source of a secondary, artificial disaster. (via BoingBoing)
End-to-End Arguments in System Design (PDF) — End-to-end arguments are a kind of “Occam’s razor” when it comes to choosing the functions to be provided in a communication subsystem. Because the communication subsystem is frequently specified before applications that use the subsystem are known, the designer may be tempted to “help” the users by taking on more function than necessary. Awareness of end-to-end arguments can help to reduce such temptations.
How to Hire (Henry Ward) — this isn’t holy writ for everyone, but the clear way in which he lays out how he thinks about hiring should be a model to all managers, even those who disagree with his specific recommendations.
From the Ground Up: Reasoning About Distributed Systems in the Real World (Tyler Treat) — When we try to provide semantics like guaranteed, exactly-once, and ordered message delivery, we usually end up with something that’s over-engineered, difficult to deploy and operate, fragile, and slow. What is the upside to all of this? Something that makes your life easier as a developer when things go perfectly well, but the reality is things don’t go perfectly well most of the time. Instead, you end up getting paged at 1 a.m. trying to figure out why RabbitMQ told your monitoring everything is awesome while proceeding to take a dump in your front yard. An approachable argument for shifting some consistency checks to application layer so the infrastructure can be simpler.
3D Printed Ceramics to 1700°C (Ars Technica) — The key step used in the new work is to replace the standard polymers used to create ceramics with a chemical that polymerizes when exposed to UV light. (These can have a variety of chemistries; the authors list thiol, vinyl, acrylate, methacrylate, and epoxy groups.) This means they’re able to be polymerized using a fairly standard 3D printer setup. In fact, the paper lists the model number of the version the authors bought from a different company.
Guesstimate — spreadsheet for things that aren’t certain.
Is Caffeine a Cognitive Enhancer? (PDF) — Two general mechanisms may account for most of the observed effects of caffeine on performance: (1) an indirect, non-specific ‘arousal’ or ‘processing resources’ factor, presumably explaining why the effects of caffeine are generally most pronounced when task performance is sustained or degraded under suboptimal conditions; and (2) a more direct and specific ‘perceptual-motor’ speed or efficiency factor that may explain why, under optimal conditions, some aspects of human performance and information processing, in particular those related to sensation, perception, motor preparation, and execution, are more sensitive to caffeine effects than those related to cognition, memory, and learning. See also Smith 2005‘s caffeine led to a more positive mood and improved performance on a number of tasks. Different effects of caffeine were seen depending on the person’s level of arousal. Linear effects of caffeine dose were also observed. This is evidence against the argument that behavioral changes due to caffeine are merely the reversal of negative effects of a long period of caffeine abstinence. (via cogsci.stackexchange.com)
On Stars and Thinking Things Through (Courtney Johnston) — Matt (to my eyes, anyway) doesn’t have a singular ‘thing’: he has this kind of spangly web of interests and skills that coalesces around a line of enquiry and results in the making or doing of a thing, and these things in turn become part of that web and generate further experiments and thinking. Seconded.
Human-like Robot — and just like a real woman, the first paragraphs about the robot focus on soft skin and flowing brunette hair not how well she does her job. Progress!
Lessig Interview (WSJ) — the slogan says regulation should be more technology neutral. I am not sure I ever heard a more idiotic statement in my life. There is no neutrality here, just different modes. … I don’t what think the law should say here is what services can do and not do, because the technology is so (fast-changing) the law could never catch up. But that what (we want) to avoid are certain kinds of business models, a prison of bits, where services leverage control over access to content and profit from that control over content.
Bubble-Driven Pseudoscience — In terms of life extension, here are the real opportunities: closing the gap between black and white patients, lowering the infant mortality rate, and making sure the very poorest among us have access to adequate care. You can make sure that many people live longer, right now! But none of this is quite as sexy as living forever, even though it’s got a greater payoff for the nation as a whole. So instead of investing in these areas, you’ve got a bunch of old white men who are afraid to die trying to figure out cryonics.