- ISS Enjoys Malware — Kaspersky reveals ISS had XP malware infestation before they shifted to Linux. The Gravity movie would have had more registry editing sessions if the producers had cared about FACTUAL ACCURACY.
- Big Data Approach to Computational Creativity (Arxiv) — although the “results” are a little weak (methodology for assessing creativity not described, and this sadly subjective line “professional chefs at various hotels, restaurants, and culinary schools have indicated that the system helps them explore new vistas in food”), the process and mechanism are fantastic. Bayesian surprise, crowdsourced tagged recipes, dictionaries of volatile compounds, and more. (via MIT Technology Review)
- Go at 4 — recapping four years of Go language growth.
- Las Vegas Street Lights to Record Conversations (Daily Mail) — The wireless, LED lighting, computer-operated lights are not only capable of illuminating streets, they can also play music, interact with pedestrians and are equipped with video screens, which can display police alerts, weather alerts and traffic information. The high tech lights can also stream live video of activity in the surrounding area. Technology vendor is Intellistreets. LV says, Right now our intention is not to have any cameras or recording devices. Love that “right now”. Can’t wait for malware to infest it.
ISS Malware, Computational Creativity, Happy Birthday Go, Built Environment for Surveillance
Coding for Unreliability, AirBnB JS Style, Category Theory, and Text Processing
- Quantitative Reliability of Programs That Execute on Unreliable Hardware (MIT) — As MIT’s press release put it: Rely simply steps through the intermediate representation, folding the probability that each instruction will yield the right answer into an estimation of the overall variability of the program’s output. (via Pete Warden)
- Category Theory for Scientists (MIT Courseware) — Scooby snacks for rationalists.
- Textblob — Python open source text processing library with sentiment analysis, PoS tagging, term extraction, and more.
A chat about the future of UI/UX design with Alasdair Allan, Josh Marinacci and Tony Santos.
At our OSCON conference this summer, Jon Bruner, Renee DiResta and I sat down with Alasdair Allan, a hardware hacker and O’Reilly author; Josh Marinacci, a researcher with Nokia; and Tony Santos, a user experience designer with Mozilla. Our discussion focused on the future of UI/UX design, from the perils of designing from the top down to declining diversity in washing machines to controlling your car from anywhere in the world.
Here are some highlights from our chat:
- Alasdair’s Ignite talk on the bad design of UX in the Internet of Things: the more widgets and dials and sliders that you add on are delayed design decisions that you’re putting onto the user. (1:55 mark)
- Looking at startups working in the Internet of Things, design seems to be “pretty far down on the general level of importance.” Much of the innovation is happening on Kickstarter and is driven by hardware hackers, many of whom don’t have design experience — and products are often designed as an end to themselves, as opposed to parts of a connected ecosystem. “We’re not building an Internet of Things, we’re building a series of islands…we should be looking at systems.” (3:23)
Squid in the Dark, Beautiful Automation, Fan Criticism, and Petabyte Queries
- Living Light — 3D printed cephalopods filled with bioluminescent bacteria. PAGING CORY DOCTOROW, YOUR ORGASMATRON HAS ARRIVED. (via Sci Blogs)
- Repacking Lego Batteries with a CNC Mill — check out the video. Patrick programmed a CNC machine to drill out the rivets holding the Mindstorms battery pack together. Coding away a repetitive task like this is gorgeous to see at every scale. We don’t have to teach our kids a particular programming language, but they should know how to automate cruft.
- My Thoughts on Google+ (YouTube) — when your fans make hatey videos like this one protesting Google putting the pig of Google Plus onto the lipstick that was YouTube, you are Doin’ It Wrong.
- Presto: Interacting with Petabytes of Data at Facebook — a distributed SQL query engine optimized for ad-hoc analysis at interactive speed. It supports standard ANSI SQL, including complex queries, aggregations, joins, and window functions. For details, see the Facebook post about its launch.
Yes. And no.
We are more connected now than ever:
- You can chat with your kids when you’re on the road, so can a pedophile.
- You can access your bank account in your pajamas, so can the RBN.
- Your healthcare data is always readily at hand, but not just to your hands.
- You can tell your political representatives what you think; they can whip the “base” into a frenzy with what they want them to think.
- You can talk to people all over the world and share ideas with people with different points of view, but you probably don’t.
- You can easily organize against an unjust government (not just yours!), and they can watch you do it.
- You can stay in touch with friends no matter where they live, and companies can co-opt you into influencing their purchases.
- You can find information on any possible disease you suspect you might have, and your network and search provider will cheer for your recovery with pharmaceutical ads.
- You can live a rich, fulfilling expanded life experience outside of the constraints of physical space, without fourth amendment protections (or even locks on your doors).
- Everything is democratized, except for, it seems, our democracy.
Recently I was in New York City for our Strata conference and had the opportunity to host an Oxford-style debate. We debated the proposition that “A connected world is a better world.” In our preparations leading up to the debate, I asked our debaters not to hold back. I told them they could really help crystalize an understanding of the arguments by leaving nuance and subtlety at the door. I encouraged them to dive in, elbows out. I needn’t have. They would have anyway. These were real, not dramatic, passions on display. Take a look:
** Update We had a problem with the video and will put it back up as soon as we can!
My discussion with Venter left me with a sense of wonder and excitement for biotechnology and the future.
Last week I had the privilege of speaking with J. Craig Venter at the Hillside Club in Berkeley, as part of the Bay Area Science Festival. Dr. Venter is a pioneer in biotech, from sequencing the Human Genome to creating a synthetic organism. It was an exciting moment for me, personally, as he thinks in terms of moonshots and succeeds often (through the failures).
Dr. Venter was in Berkeley as part of his tour to promote his new book, Life at the Speed of Light, which was inspired by Erwin Schroedinger’s question in 1943, “What is Life?” That question set Dr. Venter off on a life-long quest: first, to first take life apart and then rebuild it; to test his understanding of the machinery of life; and, ultimately, prove that he and humanity could rebuild life from scratch. The machinery of life still involves a lot of mystery, even for the simplest synthetic organisms. When when they were building the first synthetic organism, they focused on the minimum number of genes needed to create a viable life form. They found that they needed to include 50 genes with unknown functions. Without these genes, they couldn’t get the organism to “boot up.” They are clearly necessary, but why? What do they do? We still don’t know.
Venter also shared his thoughts on life on Mars. He thinks it is likely that life has existed on Mars, as Earth and Mars regularly exchange large amounts of particulate matter filled with bacteria. He’s planning a project to sequence Martian DNA (which he believes exists), with a plan to send the digital DNA sequence back to Earth for re-synthesis. Read more…