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.
Popcorn Time — interview with the creator. All the elements we used already existed and had done so for a long time. But nobody had put them together in an interface that talked to the user in a nice way, said Abad. Very Anonymous approach to software: Who are you going to sue? The first? The second? The third? I did the design. Was it illegal? I didn’t link the various parts together. There is no comprehensive overview of who did what. For we don’t have any business. We don’t have any headquarters or a general manager.
Slow Chemistry (Nature) — “lazy man’s chemistry”: let a mix of solid reactants sit around undisturbed while they spontaneously transform themselves. More properly called slow chemistry, or even just ageing, the approach requires few, if any, hazardous solvents and uses minimal energy. If planned properly, it also consumes all the reagents in the mix, so that there is no waste and no need for chemical-intensive purification.
Bricklaying Robot Lays 3x Speed of Humans (MIT TR) — The robot can correct for the differences between theoretical building specifications and what’s actually on site, says Scott Peters, co-founder of Construction Robotics, a company based in Victor, New York, that designed SAM as its debut product. (via Audrey Watters)
When a Photo Ends Your Security (Bruce Schneier) — the TSA’s master key was shown in a Washington Post photo spread, so now it can be recreated from the photo.
Online Security Braces for Quantum Revolution (Nature) — PQCRYPTO, a European consortium of quantum-cryptography researchers in academia and industry, released a preliminary report on 7 September recommending cryptographic techniques that are resistant to quantum computers […] It favoured the McEliece system, which has resisted attacks since 1978, for public-key cryptography.
The New Wave is Garbage Subtracted (Adam Trachtenberg) — Adam found some amazingly prescient writing from Esther Dyson. The new wave is not value-added; it’s garbage-subtracted. The job of the future is PR guy, not journalist. I’m too busy reading, so why should I pay for more things to read? Anything anyone didn’t pay to send to me…I’m not going to read.
Microservices Without the Servers (Amazon) — By “serverless,” we mean no explicit infrastructure required, as in: no servers, no deployments onto servers, no installed software of any kind. We’ll use only managed cloud services and a laptop. The diagram below illustrates the high-level components and their connections: a Lambda function as the compute (“backend”) and a mobile app that connects directly to it, plus Amazon API Gateway to provide an HTTP endpoint for a static Amazon S3-hosted website.
Privacy vs Data Science — claims Apple is having trouble recruiting top-class machine learning talent because of the strict privacy-driven limits on data retention (Siri data: 6 months, Maps: 15 minutes). As a consequence, Apple’s smartphones attempt to crunch a great deal of user data locally rather than in the cloud.
NAS Backdoors — firmware in some Seagate NAS drives is very vulnerable. It’s unclear whether these are Seagate-added, or came with third-party bundled software. Coming soon to lightbulbs, doors, thermostats, and all your favorite inanimate objects. (via BetaNews)
Nanoscale Motors (Nature) — “We’ve made 50 or 60 different motors,” says Ben Feringa, a chemist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. “I’m less interested in making another motor than actually using it.” An interesting summary of the progress made in nanoscale engineering.
Linguistics Signs of Betrayal — as found by studying Diplomacy players. Betrayers suddenly become more positive, possibly attempting to hide their duplicity. Betrayers suddenly become less polite, after having kept up a façade of politeness, during which the victims were significantly less polite. A reversal of imbalance occurs right before the betrayal. Victims plan more. Making a lot of plans can put pressure on the relationship and hasten betrayal, and, at the same time, if the betrayer’s mind is made up, there is no point for him to plan.
NATS — open source (MIT-licensed) messaging system that shares the best name in the world.
Building a Culture and Handing it Off (Kellan Elliott-McCrea) — Successfully building a culture ensures when you leave you can hand your work off to people you trust and they will run the thing without you and make it better than you could have imagined.
Peer to Peer Markets (PDF) — We discuss elements of market design that make this possible, including search and matching algorithms, pricing, and reputation systems. We then develop a simple model of how these markets enable entry by small or flexible suppliers, and the resulting impact on existing firms. Finally, we consider the regulation of peer-to-peer markets, and the economic arguments for different approaches to licensing and certification, data, and employment regulation.
16 Product Things I learned at Imgur — You can A/B test individuals, but it’s nearly impossible to A/B test communities because they work based on a mutually reinforcing self-conception. Use a combination of intuition (which comes from experience), talking to other community managers and 1:1 contact with a sample of your community. But you’ll still be wrong a lot.
kaldi — a toolkit for speech recognition written in C++ and licensed under the Apache License v2.0
Soul-Searching in TV Land Over the Challenges of a New Golden Age (NY Times) — The number of scripted shows produced by networks, cable networks and online services ballooned to 371 last year, according to statistics compiled by FX. Mr. Landgraf believes that figure will pass 400 this year, which would nearly double the 211 shows made in 2009. […] predicted that the number of shows would slowly return to about 325 over the next few years, in large part because scripted television is expensive.
Statistical Patterns in Movie Ratings (PLOSone) — We find that the distribution of votes presents scale-free behavior over several orders of magnitude, with an exponent very close to 3/2, with exponential cutoff. It is remarkable that this pattern emerges independently of movie attributes such as average rating, age and genre, with the exception of a few genres and of high-budget films.
The Inspection Bias is Everywhere — In 1991, Scott Feld presented the “friendship paradox”: the observation that most people have fewer friends than their friends have. He studied real-life friends, but the same effect appears in online networks: if you choose a random Facebook user, and then choose one of their friends at random, the chance is about 80% that the friend has more friends. The friendship paradox is a form of the inspection paradox. When you choose a random user, every user is equally likely. But when you choose one of their friends, you are more likely to choose someone with a lot of friends. Specifically, someone with x friends is overrepresented by a factor of x.
s3ql — a file system that stores all its data online using storage services like Google Storage, Amazon S3, or OpenStack. S3QL effectively provides a hard disk of dynamic, infinite capacity that can be accessed from any computer with internet access running Linux, FreeBSD or OS-X. (GPLv3)
Brain-Machine-Interface for Exoskeleton — no need to worry about the “think of sex every seven seconds” trope, the new system allows users to move forwards, turn left and right, sit and stand simply by staring at one of five flickering LEDs.
Staff Evaluation of Me (Karl Fisch) — I also tried the Google Form approach. 0 responses, from which I concluded that nobody had any problems with me and DEFINITELY no conclusions could be drawn about my coworkers creating mail filters to mark my messages as spam.
Blockchain (BBC) — episode on the blockchain that does a good job of staying accurate while being comprehensible. (via Sam Kinsley)
Fingerprints On Mobile Devices: Abusing and Leaking (PDF) — We will analyze the mobile fingerprint authentication and authorization frameworks, and discuss several security pitfalls of the current designs, including: Confused Authorization Attack; Unsecure fingerprint data storage; Trusted fingerprint sensors exposed to the untrusted world; Backdoor of pre-embedding fingerprints.