- How to Build a Working Digital Computer Out of Paperclips (Evil Mad Scientist) — from a 1967 popular science book showing how to build everything from parts that you might find at a hardware store: items like paper clips, little light bulbs, thread spools, wire, screws, and switches (that can optionally be made from paper clips).
- Moloch (Github) — an open source, large scale IPv4 packet capturing (PCAP), indexing and database system with a simple web GUI.
- Offline Wikipedia Reader (Amazon) — genius, because what Wikipedia needed to be successful was to be read-only. (via BoingBoing)
- Storing and Publishing Sensor Data — rundown of apps and sites for sensor data. (via Pete Warden)
Paperclip Computing, Packet Capture, Offline Wikipedia, and Sensor Databases
Ideas on avoiding the data science equivalent of "repair-ware."
Mike Loukides recently recapped a conversation we’d had about leading indicators for data science efforts in an organization. We also pondered where the role of data scientist is headed and realized we could treat software development as a prototype case.
It’s easy (if not eerie) to draw parallels between the Internet boom of the mid 1990s and the Big Data boom of the present day: in addition to the exuberance in the press and the new business models, a particular breed of technical skill became a competitive advantage and a household name. Back then, this was the software developer. Today, it’s the data scientist.
The time in the sun improved software development in some ways, but it also brought its share of problems. Some companies were short on the skill and discipline required to manage custom software projects, and they were equally ill-equipped to discern the true technical talent from the pretenders. That combination led to low-quality software projects that simply failed to deliver business value. (A number of these survive today as “repair-ware” that requires constant, expensive upkeep.)
Raspberry Pi MITM, Industrial Robot SDK, Cheap Mill, and Open Source State Replication in Go
- Raspberry Pi Wireless Attack Toolkit — A collection of pre-configured or automatically-configured tools that automate and ease the process of creating robust Man-in-the-middle attacks. The toolkit allows your to easily select between several attack modes and is specifically designed to be easily extendable with custom payloads, tools, and attacks. The cornerstone of this project is the ability to inject Browser Exploitation Framework Hooks into a web browser without any warnings, alarms, or alerts to the user. We accomplish this objective mainly through wireless attacks, but also have a limpet mine mode with ettercap and a few other tricks.
- Industrial Robot with SDK For Researchers (IEEE Spectrum) — $22,000 industrial robot with 7 degrees-of-freedom arms, integrated cameras, sonar, and torque sensors on every joint. [...] The Baxter research version is still running a core software system that is proprietary, not open. But on top of that the company built the SDK layer, based on ROS (Robot Operation System), and this layer is open source. In addition, there are also some libraries of low level tasks (such as joint control and positioning) that Rethink made open.
- OtherMill (Kickstarter) — An easy to use, affordable, computer controlled mill. Take all your DIY projects further with custom circuits and precision machining. (via Mike Loukides)
- go-raft (GitHub) — open source implementation of the Raft distributed consensus protocol, in Go. (via Ian Davis)
I was thrilled to receive an invitation to a new meetup: the NYC Data Skeptics Meetup. If you’re in the New York area, and you’re interested in seeing data used honestly, stop by!
That announcement pushed me to write another post about data skepticism. The past few days, I’ve seen a resurgence of the slogan that correlation is as good as causation, if you have enough data. And I’m worried. (And I’m not vain enough to think it’s a response to my first post about skepticism; it’s more likely an effect of Cukier’s book.) There’s a fundamental difference between correlation and causation. Correlation is a two-headed arrow: you can’t tell in which direction it flows. Causation is a single-headed arrow: A causes B, not vice versa, at least in a universe that’s subject to entropy.
Let’s do some thought experiments–unfortunately, totally devoid of data. But I don’t think we need data to get to the core of the problem. Think of the classic false correlation (when teaching logic, also used as an example of a false syllogism): there’s a strong correlation between people who eat pickles and people who die. Well, yeah. We laugh. But let’s take this a step further: correlation is a double headed arrow. So not only does this poor logic imply that we can reduce the death rate by preventing people from eating pickles, it also implies that we can harm the chemical companies that produce vinegar by preventing people from dying. Read more…
Artificial Emotions, 3D Printing Culpability, Mr Zuckerberg Buys Washington, and Pirate Economics
- Nautilus — elegantly-designed science web ‘zine. Includes Artificial Emotions on AI, neuro, and psych efforts to recognise and simulate emotions.
- A Short Essay on 3D Printing — This hands-off approach to culpability cannot last long. If you design something to go into someone’s bathroom, it will make it’s way into their childs mouth. If someone buys, downloads and prints a case for their OUYA and they suffer an electric shock as a result, who is to blame? If a person replaces their phone case with a 3D printed one, and it doesn’t survive a drop to the floor, what then? We need to create a new chain of responsiblity for this emerging, and potentially very profitable business. (via Near Future Laboratory)
- Zuckerberg’s FWD.us PAC (Anil Dash) — One of Mark Zuckerberg’s most famous mottos is “Move fast and break things.” When it comes to policy impacting the lives of millions of people around the world, there couldn’t be a worse slogan. Let’s see if we can get FWD.us to be as accountable to the technology industry as it purports to be, since they will undoubtedly claim to have the grassroots support of our community regardless of whether that’s true or not.
- Pirate Economics — four dimensions of pirate institutions. Not BitTorrent pirates, but Berbers and arr-harr-avast-ye-swabbers nautical pirates. Pirate crews not only elected their captains on the basis of universal pirate suffrage, but they also regularly deposed them by democratic elections if they were not satisfied with their performance. Like the Berbers, or the US constitution, pirates didn’t just rely on democratic elections to keep their leaders under check. Though the captain of the ship was in charge of battle and strategy, pirate crews also used a separate democratic election to elect the ship’s quartermaster who was in charge of allocating booty, adjudicating disputes and administering discipline. Thus they had a nascent form of separation of powers.
When information collides with machines.
Jon Bruner and I continued our Radar coffee talk series of conversations at Astro Coffee in Detroit’s Corktown. In the shadow of the abandoned Michigan Central Station we reflected on what we think of as a collision between the second industrial revolution (electric mechanization) and the third (information and networks). Will Google’s driverless car be to the automobile industry what Amazon has been to publishing?
We hope you enjoy the conversation and we’re looking forward to your comments. You can listen to it here in the embedded player or you can also subscribe to them at iTunes.
p.s. If you have a favorite coffee shop, tell us about it in the comments. Maybe we’ll have our next coffee talk there.