- 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.
- 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.
- Big Data with the ELK Stack — ElasticSearch, logstash, and Kibana. Interesting and powerful combination of tools!
- Apollo: Amazon’s Deployment Engine — Apollo 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.
Truly disruptive services don’t just digitize the familiar. They do away with it.
The Apple-Pay web page gushes: “Gone are the days of searching for your wallet. The wasted moments finding the right card. The swiping and waiting. Now payments happen with a single touch.”
What’s wrong with this picture?
It’s describing the digital facsimile of a process that is already on its way to becoming obsolete. But truly disruptive new services don’t just digitize the familiar. They do away with it.
I never search for my wallet when I take an Uber. I never search for my wallet when I walk out of a restaurant that accepts Cover. I never search for my wallet when I buy something from Amazon. I don’t even search for my wallet when buying a song from iTunes — or, for that matter, an iPhone from an Apple Store.
In each of these cases, my payment information is simply a stored credential that is already associated with my identity. And that identity is increasingly recognized by means other than an explicit payment process. Read more…
A backchannel look at what's on our radar.
The Radar team does a lot of sharing in the backchannel. Here’s a look at a selection of stories and innovative people and companies from around the web that have caught our recent attention. Have an interesting tidbit to contribute to the conversation? Send me an email or ping me on Twitter
- The edges of connected realities — Steve Mason’s TEDxSF talk, in which he discusses the evolution of connected environments and quotes Yves Behar: “The interface of the future is invisible.” (Jenn Webb, via Jim Stogdill, via Rachel Kalmar) Mason’s talk is a must-watch, so I’ll just provide direct access:
Help Searching, Offline First, AWS Tips, and Awesome Fonts
- Learn to Search — cheeky but spot-on help for people running conferences.
- Offline First — no, the mobile connectivity/bandwidth issue isn’t just going to solve itself on a global level anywhere in the near future. THIS!
- 10 Things You Should Know About AWS — lots of specialist tips for hardcore AWS users.
- The League of Moveable Type — AWESOME FONTS. Me gusta.
Time Series Database, Cluster Schedulers, Structural Search-and-Replace, and TV Data
- Influx DB — open-source, distributed, time series, events, and metrics database with no external dependencies.
- Omega (PDF) — ﬂexible, scalable schedulers for large compute clusters. From Google Research.
- Amazon Mines Its Data Trove To Bet on TV’s Next Hit (WSJ) — Amazon produced about 20 pages of data detailing, among other things, how much a pilot was viewed, how many users gave it a 5-star rating and how many shared it with friends.
USB in Cars, Capture Presentations, Amazon Redshift, and Polytweeting
- Hyundia Replacing Cigarette Lighters with USB Ports (Quartz) — sign of the times. (via Julie Starr)
- Freeseer — free, open source, cross-platform application that captures or streams your desktop—designed for capturing presentations. Would you like freedom with your screencast?
- Amazon Redshift: What You Need to Know — good write-up of experience using Amazon’s column database.
- GroupTweet — Allow any number of contributors to Tweet from a group account safely and securely. (via Jenny Magiera)
Ploughbot, Amazon Warehouses, Kickstarting Safety, and The Island of Dr Thoreau
- Farmbot Wiki — open-source, scalable, automated precision farming machines.
- Amazon’s Chaotic Storage — photos from inside an Amazon warehouse. At the heart of the operation is a sophisticated database that tracks and monitors every single product that enters/leaves the warehouse and keeps a tally on every single shelf space and whether it’s empty or contains a product. Software-optimised spaces, for habitation by augmented humans.
- Public Safety Codes of the World — Kickstarter project to fund the release of public safety codes.
- #xoxo Thoreau Talk (Maciej Ceglowski) — exquisitely good talk by the Pinboard creator, on success, simplicity, and focus.
Bezos on Business, CS Ratios, Easier Hadoopery, and AWS CLI
- Bezos at the Post (Washington Post) — “All businesses need to be young forever. If your customer base ages with you, you’re Woolworth’s,” added Bezos.[…] “The number one rule has to be: Don’t be boring.” (via Julie Starr)
- How Carnegie-Mellon Increased Women in Computer Science to 42% — outreach, admissions based on potential not existing advantage, making CS classes practical from the start, and peer support.
- Summingbird (Github) — Twitter open-sourced library that lets you write streaming MapReduce programs that look like native Scala or Java collection transformations and execute them on a number of well-known distributed MapReduce platforms like Storm and Scalding.
- aws-cli (Github) — commandline for Amazon Web Services. (via AWS Blog)
A conversation with Sean Taylor, Hilary Mason, and John Myles White about how ratings affect our thinking
Is popularity just a matter of simple luck–of some early advantage compounded by human preference for things that are already popular? A paper published today in Science offers some insight into the way that popularity emerges in online ratings. Lev Muchnik, Sinan Aral, and Sean Taylor were able to set up a randomized experiment on a popular Reddit-like message board in which they gave some posts a one-point upvote on publication and others a one-point downvote. Posts that were “born lucky” ended up with 25% higher scores on average than those without modification.
In our latest podcast, Renee DiResta and I are joined by Sean Taylor, Hilary Mason and John Myles White to talk about Sean’s findings and about ratings, rankings and reviews in general. Bits and pieces that come up in the podcast:
- Anchoring and adjustment
- Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow; his Nobel Prize lecture is worth watching, too
- Amazon reviews both satirical and just poorly informed
- Health inspection results can be predicted from online reviews
- Restaurant grades are less effective in the age of Yelp
- Speaking of Yelp: