- Phantom of the Flopera (YouTube) — Bach’s Tocata and Fugue in D Minor (BWV 565) as performed by floppy drives. Creative intimacy with one’s tools is a sign of mastery. (via Andy Baio)
- Save Entire BBC Archive (Ben Goldacre) — I pointed earlier to the questionable BBC closure of scores of websites in the name of cost-cutting. It’s a torrent of an archive of spidered BBC websites. (via Andy Baio)
- Android Hidden NFC Capabilities Unlocked — Gibraltar Software Factory, based in Argentina, went through the source code of Android 2.3 and found that Google has purposefully hidden several NFC related API calls, most likely due to the fact that they’re not quite stable enough for public release. Some minor tweaking of the source code, and boom, they’ve enabled write support for NFC tags. This means mobile phones will not just read RFID tags, but also act like RFID tags. (via Chris Heathcote on Delicious)
- Pinboard Creator Maciej Ceglowski (ReadWriteWeb) — I think many developers (myself included) are easily seduced by new technology and are willing to burn a lot of time rigging it together just for the joy of tinkering. So nowadays we see a lot of fairly uninteresting web apps with very technically sweet implementations. In designing Pinboard, I tried to steer clear of this temptation by picking very familiar, vanilla tools wherever possible so I would have no excuse for architectural wank. The other reason I like the approach is that the tried-and-true stuff is extensively debugged and documented. The chances of you finding a bug in MySQL or PHP as the author of a mid-sized website are microscopic. That’s not the case for newer infrastructure like NoSQL or the various web frameworks.
Floppy Fun, BBC Archived, NFC Unlocked, and LAMP Supreme
Web Memory, Phones Read Cards, Military and Public Data, and NoSQL Merger
- Erase and Rewind — the BBC are planning to close (delete) 172 websites on some kind of cost-cutting measure. i’m very saddened to see the BBC join the ranks of online services that don’t give a damn for posterity. As Simon Willison points out, the British Library will have archived some of the sites (and Internet Archive others, possibly).
- Announcing Farebot for Android — dumps the information stored on transit cards using Android’s NFC (near field communication, aka RFID) support. When demonstrating FareBot, many people are surprised to learn that much of the data on their ORCA card is not encrypted or protected. This fact is published by ORCA, but is not commonly known and may be of concern to some people who would rather not broadcast where they’ve been to anyone who can brush against the outside of their wallet. Transit agencies across the board should do a better job explaining to riders how the cards work and what the privacy implications are.
- Using Public Data to Fight a War (ReadWriteWeb) — uncomfortable use of the data you put in public?
- CouchOne and Membase Merge — consolidation in the commercial NoSQL arena. the merger not only results in the joining of two companies, but also combines CouchDB, memcached and Membase technologies. Together, the new company, Couchbase, will offer an end-to-end database solution that can be stored on a single server or spread across hundreds of servers.
BBC Pares Web, Data Interaction Design, Long-Form Commerce, and Dangers of Free Themes
- BBC Web Cuts Show Wider Disconnect (The Guardian) — I forget that most people still think of the web as a secondary add-on to the traditional way of doing things rather than as the new way. Interesting article which brings home the point in the context of the BBC, but you can tell the same story in almost any business.
- 40p Off a Latte (Chris Heathcote) — One of the bits I enjoyed the most was unpacking the old ubiquitous computing cliche of your phone vibrating with a coupon off a latte when walking past a Starbucks. This whole presentation is brilliant. I’m still zinging off how data can displace actions in time and space: what you buy today on Amazon will trigger a recommendation later for someone else.
- Long-Form Reporting Finds Commercial Hope in E-Books — ProPublica and New York Times have launched long-form reporting in Kindle Singles, Amazon’s format for 5k-30k word pieces. On Thursday, he told me his job involved asking the question, “How do you monetize the content when it is not news anymore?” Repackaging and updating the paper’s coverage of specific topics is a common answer.
- Why You Should Never Search for Free WordPress Themes in Google or Anywhere Else — short answer: free themes are full of SEO rubbish or worse. Every hit on your site boosts someone else’s penis pills site, and runs the risk that search engines will decide your site is itself spam.
BBC Machine Learning, Wikipedia for History, Nuggets from Websites, and Lawbreaking Robots
- BBC Jobs — looking for someone to devise advanced machine intelligence techniques to infer high level classification metadata of audio and video content from low-level features extracted from it. (via mattb on Delicious)
- A History of the Iraq War Through Wikipedia Changelogs — printed and bound volumes of the Wikipedia changelogs during the Iraq war. This is historiography. This is what culture actually looks like: a process of argument, of dissenting and accreting opinion, of gradual and not always correct codification. And for the first time in history, we’re building a system that, perhaps only for a brief time but certainly for the moment, is capable of recording every single one of those infinitely valuable pieces of information. Everything should have a history button. We need to talk about historiography, to surface this process, to challenge absolutist narratives of the past, and thus, those of the present and our future. (via Flowing Data)
- Nuggetize — pulls highlights out of a page before you visit it. (via titine on Delicious)
- Antimov — SparkFun running contest where a robot violates one of Asimov’s three laws (not the one about hurting people though). I am in LOVE with the logo, check it out.
I think this deserves to be pondered. BBC News is moving away from merely hosting comments to inciting discussion in a variety of formats and locations. From Reportr.net: For the US presidential debates, it [the BBC] has opened channels on video services Qik, 12Seconds and Phreadz. Some of the videos were subsequently edited and posted on the BBC News…