"BERG" entries

Four short links: 10 September 2014

Four short links: 10 September 2014

Dandelion Dispersal, Future Weights, Networked Docker, and How Apple Pay Works

  1. BERG Closing — may open source their Little Printer server and IoT middleware. A shame, as Warren Ellis says, because they pulled bits of the future into the present. They were optimistic, not dystopic. I have a feeling BERG grads are going to be like BBC grads, where a certain crop from ~2003 or so went on to be influential at many different places. Dispersing dandelions of delight.
  2. Here Today, Gone Tomorrow — beating our minds’ misweighting of future events. This: When being invited to do things months in advance, the diary usually looks pretty clear and it’s tempting to say “yes”. But whenever a new invitation arrives, ask yourself not, “should I accept the invitation in March?” but, “would I accept the invitation if it was for this week?” (via BoingBoing)
  3. Weave — build a network of Docker containers running on different hosts. Weave can traverse firewalls and operate in partially connected networks. Traffic can be encrypted, allowing hosts to be connected across an untrusted network. With weave you can easily construct applications consisting of multiple containers, running anywhere.
  4. How Apple Pay Works And Why It Matters — for some reason this was the right level of explanation for me. Hope it helps. The end result is a token that can be used across merchants and both online (In-App) and offline (NFC, In-Person). Disaggregate and micropay for ALL THE THINGS.
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Four short links: 26 February 2014

Four short links: 26 February 2014

Library Box, Data-Driven Racial Profiling, Internet of Washing Machines, and Nokia's IoT R&D

  1. Librarybox 2.0fork of PirateBox for the TP-Link MR 3020, customized for educational, library, and other needs. Wifi hotspot with free and anonymous file sharing. v2 adds mesh networking and more. (via BoingBoing)
  2. Chicago PD’s Using Big Data to Justify Racial Profiling (Cory Doctorow) — The CPD refuses to share the names of the people on its secret watchlist, nor will it disclose the algorithm that put it there. [...] Asserting that you’re doing science but you can’t explain how you’re doing it is a nonsense on its face. Spot on.
  3. Cloudwash (BERG) — very good mockup of how and why your washing machine might be connected to the net and bound to your mobile phone. No face on it, though. They’re losing their touch.
  4. What’s Left of Nokia to Bet on Internet of Things (MIT Technology Review) — With the devices division gone, the Advanced Technologies business will cut licensing deals and perform advanced R&D with partners, with around 600 people around the globe, mainly in Silicon Valley and Finland. Hopefully will not devolve into being a patent troll. [...] “We are now talking about the idea of a programmable world. [...] If you believe in such a vision, as I do, then a lot of our technological assets will help in the future evolution of this world: global connectivity, our expertise in radio connectivity, materials, imaging and sensing technologies.”
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Four short links: 21 December 2012

Four short links: 21 December 2012

Reverse PR, Cyberbullying Research, Design Notes, and Evaluating CEOs

  1. Amazon’s Product Development Techniquethe product manager should keep iterating on the press release until they’ve come up with benefits that actually sound like benefits. Iterating on a press release is a lot less expensive than iterating on the product itself (and quicker!). (via Fast Company)
  2. Bullying in a Networked World — Harvard literature review on cyberbullying. (via Kinder Braver World)
  3. Lamps (BERG London) — design notes from a project Google did with BERG a year ago. I treat these like backstory in a novel or film: you see a little bit, but the author has imagined a complex history and world that you only see the consequences of. Similarly, BERG spend a long time making complex stories behind the simple objects and interactions they design.
  4. How AH Evaluates CEOs (Ben Horowitz) — my experience backs this up 150% percent. Filed under “stuff I wish I’d known a decade ago”.
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Four short links: 6 July 2011

Four short links: 6 July 2011

China Snaffling Facebook Stock, DNS Douchebaggery, Corporate Whores, and Comic Relief

  1. China Wants to Buy Facebook (Forbes) — Beijing approached a fund that buys stock from former Facebook employees to see if it could assemble a stake large enough “to matter.” This has implications for Facebook entering China. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is reportedly “wary about the compromises Facebook would have to make to do business there.” If she loses her argument with Zuckerberg and Facebook enters China, the company will eventually be subject to demands to censor its sites, those both inside and outside China. That’s apparently why the Chinese want to own a big stake in Facebook. They are, in short, looking for control in the long run. No other explanation is consistent with the Party’s other media and “educational” initiatives. Again the world’s most desirable emerging market is fraught for those who would enter it.
  2. Cisco Helping China Build Surveillance (WSJ, subscription probably needed) — Western companies including Cisco Systems Inc. are poised to help build an ambitious new surveillance project in China—a citywide network of as many as 500,000 cameras that officials say will prevent crime but that human-rights advocates warn could target political dissent. Check out the mealy-mouthed weasel from HP: “We take them at their word as to the usage.” He added, “It’s not my job to really understand what they’re going to use it for. Our job is to respond to the bid that they’ve made.” (a) buyers don’t bid, vendors bid; (b) you’re a piss-poor vendor if you don’t understand what the client hopes to achieve; (c) really, maintaining plausible denial is the best way to preserve your brand’s integrity? Hewlett and Packard are turning in their graves, the heat given off from which could be detected by sensors, routed through Cisco boxes and displayed on HP terminals.
  3. US Claims .net and .com In Their JurisdictionThe US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) wants to take down web sites that use the .com and .net top level domains (TLD) regardless of whether their servers are based in the US. Not only do DNS interventions like this not stop the copying, they’re the thin end of the political wedge into yet another piece of critical Internet infrastructure. Who woke up this morning and thought, “I want a copyright rentacop to decide which websites I can see”? The generative power of the Internet is eroded with every misguided meddling such as this.
  4. SVK Launches — BERG London finally launch their excellent comic. “Comic?” you ask. Noted science future awesome Warren Ellis wrote it, and it features some clever augmented reality hardware. I have one, and I am happy. You can be too, for only ten pounds plus shipping.
Comments: 3
Four short links: 22 June 2011

Four short links: 22 June 2011

DOM Snitch, Hadoop in Scala, Pregel in Hadoop in Scala, Reflections on the Company

  1. DOM Snitchan experimental Chrome extension that enables developers and testers to identify insecure practices commonly found in client-side code. See also the introductory post. (via Hacker News)
  2. Spark — Hadoop-alike in Scala. Spark was initially developed for two applications where keeping data in memory helps: iterative algorithms, which are common in machine learning, and interactive data mining. In both cases, Spark can outperform Hadoop by 30x. However, you can use Spark’s convenient API to for general data processing too. (via Hilary Mason)
  3. Bagelan implementation of the Pregel graph processing framework on Spark. (via Oliver Grisel)
  4. Week 315 (Matt Webb) — read this entire post. It will make you smarter. The company’s decisions aren’t actually the shareholders’ decisions. A company has a culture which is not the simple sum of the opinions of the people in it. A CEO can never be said to perform an action in the way that a human body can be said to perform an action, like picking an apple. A company is a weird, complex thing, and rather than attempt (uselessly) to reduce it to people within it, it makes more sense – to me – to approach it as an alien being and attempt to understand its biology and momentums only with reference to itself. Having done that, we can then use metaphors to attempt to explain its behaviour: we can say that it follows profit, or it takes an innovative step, or that it is middle-aged, or that it treats the environment badly, or that it takes risks. None of these statements is literally true, but they can be useful to have in mind when attempting to negotiate with these bizarre, massive creatures. If anyone wonders why I link heavily to BERG’s work, it’s because they have some incredibly thoughtful and creative people who are focused and productive, and it’s Webb’s laser-like genius that makes it possible. They’re doing a lot of subtle new things and it’s a delight and privilege to watch them grow and reflect.
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Four short links: 24 May 2011

Four short links: 24 May 2011

Kindle List, Insider Knowledge, Google News Archive Archived, and Work Week in Video

  1. Delivereads — genius idea, a mailing list for Kindles. Yes, if you can send email then you can be a Kindle publisher. (via Sacha Judd)
  2. Abnormal Returns From the Common Stock Investments of Members of the U.S. House of RepresentativesWe measure abnormal returns for more than 16,000 common stock transactions made by approximately 300 House delegates from 1985 to 2001. Consistent with the study of Senatorial trading activity, we find stocks purchased by Representatives also earn significant positive abnormal returns (albeit considerably smaller returns). A portfolio that mimics the purchases of House Members beats the market by 55 basis points per month (approximately 6% annually). (via Ellen Miller)
  3. Google News Archive Ends — hypothesizes that old material was “too hard” to make sense of, but that seems unlikely to me. More likely is that it wasn’t useful enough to their machine learning efforts. Newspapers can have their scanned/OCRed content for free now the program is being closed.
  4. Week Report 310 — BERG’s first (that I’ve seen) video report of the week, and it’s a cracker. No newsreel, just some really clever evocation of the mood of the place and the nature of the projects. I continue to be impressed by the BERG crew’s conscious creation of culture.
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Four short links: 18 January 2011

Four short links: 18 January 2011

How Facebook Ships, EU Funds, Bacteria Play, and Screens Capture

  1. How Facebook Ships Codeall engineers go through 4 to 6 week “Boot Camp” training where they learn the Facebook system by fixing bugs and listening to lectures given by more senior/tenured engineers. estimate 10% of each boot camp’s trainee class don’t make it and are counseled out of the organization. Reminded me of Zappos paying people to leave. (via Hacker News)
  2. EU Funds Scala — it’s a research project at a university, and just got a big pile of funding from the EU.
  3. Biotic Games — they make Pong, Pacman, Pinball, etc. from biotech. (via Andy Baio)
  4. Asleep and Awake (BERG London) — It’s glowing rectangles all the way down: those backlit screens that suck your attention. Matt J described it nicely a few years ago: the iPhone is a beautiful, seductive but jealous mistress that craves your attention, and enslaves you to its jaw-dropping gorgeousness at the expense of the world around you. Reminded me of Jesse Robbins’s great line, “mobile is the opposite of mindful”.
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Four short links: 15 September 2010

Four short links: 15 September 2010

CC Privacy Info, Magic with iPads, SSL in Javascript, and Reading Patents

  1. Privacy Commission Uses CC License For Content — The office of the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner is releasing its content under the CC-BY license, including fact sheets, newsletters, guidance, case studies, howtos, and more.
  2. Magic iPad Light Painting (BERG London) — continuing their stunning work, this concept video uses a form of long-exposure stop-motion to turn the iPad into visual magic.
  3. Implementing TLS and Raw Sockets Using Only Flash and Javascript — interesting first steps to implementing non-trivial security in Javascript (“The Language Of The Future ™”). (via ivanristic on Twitter)
  4. How to Read a Patent in 60 Seconds (Dan Shapiro) — quick guide to the important parts of a patent. For more detail, check out the more detailed docs from the PatentLens.
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Four short links: 18 August 2010

Four short links: 18 August 2010

Place Context, iPod Hardware, Mobile Cognitive Surplus, and Music Hacking APIs

  1. BBC Dimensions — brilliant work, a fun site that lets you overlay familiar plcaes with famous and notable things so you can get a better sense of how large they are. Example: the Colossus of Rhodes straddling O’Reilly HQ, the Library of Alexandria vs the Google campus, and New Orleans Mardi Gras began at the headquarters of Fred Phelps’s Westboro Baptist Church. (via this piece about its background)
  2. Podapter — simple plug that takes mini-USB and goes into an iPod or iPhone. (via Tuesday product awesomeness)
  3. New NexusOne Radio Firmware — a glimpse of the world that’s sprung up sharing the latest goodies between countries, carriers, and developers. For everyone for whose products the street has found a new use, the challenge is to harness this energy, enthusiasm, knowledge, and devotion. In terms of cognitive surplus, this far exceeds the 1 LOLCAT minimum standard unit. (via YuweiWang on Twitter)
  4. Echoes Nest Remix API — access to database of song characteristics and tools to manipulate tunes. See the Technology Review article for examples of what it’s capable of. (via aaronsw on Twitter)
Comment: 1
Four short links: 16 August 2010

Four short links: 16 August 2010

Augmented Games, Matt Jones, Nuclear Data, Historical Tweetage

  1. Tips on Buying DesignWe don’t work on projects that aren’t essential to the client’s business. The further a project gets from a client’s core concerns the more likely it will be run on subjectivity and whims, or be starved of the internal attention and resources it needs to succeed. The same applies to hiring a design team. Work with someone who’s excited to be working with you. You’ll get better work. (via moleitau on Twitter)
  2. Is the Sky Falling on the Content Industries? — research paper covering the history of “X will kill Y” from the content industries. Switching channels to the video industry, by the late 1950’s and the 1960’s, the television industry was threatened by another bogeyman that was going to destroy television. The existing business model was providing television for free; the threat was cable television. Note the irony here. The argument was not that paid content can’t compete with free, the argument is free content can’t compete with paid. If we don’t shut down the cable television industry, no one will bother to produce new television shows, and there won’t be anything to go on cable. This is an argument that made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court in the Fortnightly case and led to a decision that brought us within two votes of shutting down the cable television industry. (via lawgeeknz on Twitter)
Comment: 1