ENTRIES TAGGED "APIs"
New Copyright Laws Proposed, GMail APIs, Internet Book Roundup, and Chrome Farm
- White House Will Propose New Digital Copyright Laws (CNet) — If the Internet were truly empowering citizenry and bringing us this new dawn of digital democracy, the people who run it would be able to stop the oppressive grind of the pro-copyright machinery. There’s no detail about what the proposed law would include, except that it will be based on a white paper of “legislative proposals to improve intellectual property enforcement,” and it’s expected to encompass online piracy. I predict a jump in the online trading of those “You can keep the change” posters that were formerly the exclusive domain of the Tea Party, and the eventual passage of bad law. As the article says, digital copyright tends not to be a particularly partisan topic..
- The Information: How the Internet Gets Inside Us (New Yorker) — thoughtful roundup of books and their positions on whether the Internet’s fruits are good for us. He divides them into never better, better never (as in “we’d be better off if it had never been invented”), and ever-was (as in, “we have always been changed by our technology, so big deal”). (via Bernard Hickey on Twitter)
- New Chrome Extension Blocks Sites from Search Results — Google testing whether users successfully identify and report content farms.
API Economics, Spreadsheet Risks, New York of Things, Pair Programming Fail
- Instapaper’s API — Marco Arment wanted to prevent people building their own front-ends using the API and thus removing his (advertising) revenue source. He could offer a cripped API, but people scrape to work around that. He could tithe the apps people build on top of his API, but that’s hard work to set up and run. His solution: the API only works for paying customers.
- European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group: Horror Stories — horrifying reading. I was surprised by how many companies build Excel into their accounting workflow.
- New York’s Central Nervous System is Growing — another datapoint in the sensor network Internet of Things buildout. The lump, an ultra-low power sensor, will communicate with other white lumps under parked cars all over the island, telling each other when you pulled in, how long you’ve been parked and when you rumble away. Last month, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. announced plans to place these sensors underneath the 30 new parking spots next to Roosevelt Island’s subway and tramway. (via BLDGBLOG)
- Where Pair Programming Fails for Me — I found that in order to pair, I had to act as if I was in a continuous meeting. I had to not just listen to my pair, but appear to be listening; I had to nod in the right places, repeat back what my pair said in active listening fashion. I had to pick the right moment to interject. I tried to model my partner’s mental state in my head so I could see his viewpoint better. While I was doing this, I was trying to see the code that he was writing, and the design that he was trying to make the code fit. If there was a failing test, I was trying to figure out the test and the test framework at the same time.
New Browser, Google APIs, NFC Checkin, and XSS Prevention
- Mozilla Home Dash — love this experiment in rethinking the browser from Mozilla. They call it a “browse-based browser” as opposed to “search-based browser” (hello, Chrome). Made me realize that, with Chrome, Google’s achieved a 0-click interface to search–you search without meaning to as you type in URLs, you see advertising results without ever having visited a web site.
- Periodic Table of Google APIs — cute graphic, part of a large push from Google to hire more outreach engineers to do evangelism, etc. The first visible signs of Google’s hiring binge.
- NFC in the Real World (Dan Hill) — smooth airline checkin with fobs mailed to frequent fliers.
- XSS Prevention Cheat Sheet (OWASP) — HTML entity encoding doesn’t work if you’re putting untrusted data inside a script tag anywhere, or an event handler attribute like onmouseover, or inside CSS, or in a URL. So even if you use an HTML entity encoding method everywhere, you are still most likely vulnerable to XSS. You MUST use the escape syntax for the part of the HTML document you’re putting untrusted data into. That’s what the rules below are all about. (via Hacker News)
Long Tail, Copyright vs Preservation, Diminished Reality, and Augmented Data
- Mechanical Turk Requester Activity: The Insignificance of the Long Tail — For Wikipedia we have the 1% rule, where 1% of the contributors (this is 0.003% of the users) contribute two thirds of the content. In the Causes application on Facebook, there are 25 million users, but only 1% of them contribute a donation. [...] The lognormal distribution of activity, also shows that requesters increase their participation exponentially over time: They post a few tasks, they get the results. If the results are good, they increase by a percentage the size of the tasks that they post next time. This multiplicative behavior is the basic process that generates the lognormal distribution of activity.
- Copyright Destroying Historic Audio — so says the Library of Congress. Were copyright law followed to the letter, little audio preservation would be undertaken. Were the law strictly enforced, it would brand virtually all audio preservation as illegal. Copyright laws related to preservation are neither strictly followed nor strictly enforced. Consequently, some audio preservation is conducted.
- Diminished Reality (Ray Kurzweil) — removes objects from video in real time. Great name, “diminished reality”. (via Andy Baio)
- Data Enrichment Service — using linked government data to augment text with annotations and links. (via Jo Walsh on Twitter)
Managing Mistakes, Paying for APIs, Gaming Gmail, and Classy Twitter Engineering
- How to Manage Employees When They Make Mistakes — sound advice on how to deal with employees who failed to meet expectations. Yet again, good parenting can make you a good adult. It’s strange to me that in the technology sector we have such a reputation for yellers. Maybe it’s business in general and not just tech. [...] People stay at companies with leaders who rule like Mussolini because they want to be part of something super successful. But it does tend to breed organizations of people who walk around like beaten dogs with their heads down waiting to be kicked. It produces sycophants and group think. And if your company ever “slips” people head STRAIGHT for the door as they did at Siebel. I’d love to see a new generation of tech companies that don’t rule through fear. (via Hacker News)
- Information Wants to be Paid (Pete Warden) — I want to know where I stand relative to the business model of any company I depend on. If API access and the third-party ecosystem makes them money, then I feel a lot more comfortable that I’ll retain access over the long term. So true. It’s not that platform companies are evil, it’s just that they’re a business too. They’re interested in their survival first and yours second. To expect anything else is to be naive and to set yourself up for failure. As Pete says, it makes sense to have them financially invested in continuing to provide for you. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s a damn sight better than “build on this so we can gain traction and some idea of a business model”. Yet again, Warden reads my mind and saves me the trouble of finding the right words to write.
- 0Boxer — Chrome and Safari extensions to turn gmail into a game. (via waxy)
- Twitter’s New Search Architecture (Twitter Engineering Blog) — notable for two things: they’re contributing patches back to the open source text search library Lucene, and they name the individual engineers who worked on the project. Very classy, human, and canny. (via straup on Delicious)
Thumb Drives and the Cloud, FCC APIs, Mining on GFS, Check Your Prose with Scribe
- CloudUSB — a USB key containing your operating environment and your data + a protected folder so nobody can access you data, even if you lost the key + a backup program which keeps a copy of your data on an online disk, with double password protection. (via ferrouswheel on Twitter)
- FCC APIs — for spectrum licenses, consumer broadband tests, census block search, and more. (via rjweeks70 on Twitter)
- Sibyl: A system for large scale machine learning (PDF) — paper from Google researchers on how to build machine learning on top of a system designed for batch processing. (via Greg Linden)
- The Surprisingness of What We Say About Ourselves (BERG London) — I made a chart of word-by-word surprisingness: given the statement so far, could Scribe predict what would come next?
Passionate Users, Mail APIs, Phone Hacking, and Patent Data Online
- How to Get Customers Who Love You Even When You Screw Up — a fantastic reminder of the power of Kathy Sierra’s “I Rock” moments. In that moment I understood Tom’s motivation: Tom was a hero. (via Hacker News)
- Yahoo! Mail is Open for Development — you can write apps that sit in Yahoo! Mail, using and extending the UI as well as taking advantage of APIs that access and alter the email.
- Canon Hack Development Kit — hack a PowerShot to be controlled by scripts. (via Jon Udell)
- 10TB of US PTO Data (Google Books) — the PTO has entered into a two year deal with Google to distribute patent and trademark data for free. At the moment it’s 10TB of images and full text of grants, applications, classifications, and more, but it will grow over time: in the future we will be making more data available including file histories and related data. (via Google Public Policy blog post)
ACTA, Google Books, and APIs vs Data
- PublicACTA — New Zealand is hosting the final round of ACTA negotiations, and InternetNZ and other concerned technology-aware citizens will also host a PublicACTA conference. The goal is to produce a statement from the citizens, one which can be given to the negotiators ahead of the final round. If you can’t make it to NZ for April 10, the site has an interesting blog and the conference itself will be live streamed.
- Submission on Copying in the Digital Environment — ahead of the ACTA round, New Zealand negotiators invited submissions around certain questions. This fantastic response from an artist and author reminds me why the fight is so important. 2. The idea that all copying must be authorised (or else be illegal) makes no sense in the digital environment. The internet works through copying – that’s how the technology of it functions, and it’s also how its power to promote and market ideas and art is unleashed. For example, when my work “goes viral” – i.e. is copied from website to blog to aggregation site to tweet to email (and so on) – I benefit enormously from that exposure. This is not something I can engineer or control, and when it has happened it has always come as a pleasant surprise. I have benefited from these frenzies of “unauthorised” copying in a number of ways, from international commissions to increased sales. I have learned that such copying is in my interests; in fact, it is essential to my success in the digital environment. (via starrjulie on Twitter)
- Jon Orwant of Google Books — Jon’s an O’Reilly alum, and engineering manager for Google Books. David Weinberger liveblogged a talk Jon gave to Harvard librarians. Google Books want to scan all books. Has done 12M out of the 120 works (which have 174 manifestations — different versions and editions, etc.). About 4B pages, 40+ libraries, 400 languages (“Three in Klingon”). Google Books is in the first stage: Scanning. Second: Scaling. Third: What do we do with all this? 20% are public domain.
- We Have an API — Nat Friedman asks for a “download all the data” link instead of an API that dribbles out data like a pensioner with a prostate problem (my words, not his). I loved Francis Irving’s observation, buried in the comments, that A “download data” item is just an API call that can return all the data..