- Offline First is the New Mobile First — Luke Wroblewski’s notes from John Allsopp’s talk about “Breaking Development” in Nashville. Offline technologies don’t just give us sites that work offline, they improve performance, and security by minimizing the need for cookies, http, and file uploads. It also opens up new possibilities for better user experiences.
- Winograd Schemas as Alternative to Turing Test (IEEE) — specially constructed sentences that are surface ambiguous and require deeper knowledge of the world to disambiguate, e.g. “Jim comforted Kevin because he was so upset. Who was upset?”. Our WS [Winograd schemas] challenge does not allow a subject to hide behind a smokescreen of verbal tricks, playfulness, or canned responses. Assuming a subject is willing to take a WS test at all, much will be learned quite unambiguously about the subject in a few minutes. (that last from the paper on the subject)
- Reclaiming Your Nest (Forbes) — Like so many connected devices, Nest devices regularly report back to the Nest mothership with usage data. Over a month-long period, the researchers’ device sent 32 MB worth of information to Nest, including temperature data, at-rest settings, and self-entered information about the home, such as how big it is and the year it was built. “The Nest doesn’t give us an option to turn that off or on. They say they’re not going to use that data or share it with Google, but why don’t they give the option to turn it off?” says Jin. Jailbreak your Nest (technique to be discussed at Black Hat), and install less chatty software. Loose Lips Sink Thermostats.
- SyncNet — decentralised browser: don’t just pull pages from the source, but also fetch from distributed cache (implemented with BitTorrent Sync).
Solar Numbers, Process Managers, BitTorrent Sync, and Motherfrickin' Snakes in Your Motherfrickin' Browser
- Solar Energy: This is What a Disruptive Technology Looks Like (Brian McConnell) — In 1977, solar cells cost upwards of $70 per Watt of capacity. In 2013, that cost has dropped to $0.74 per Watt, a 100:1 improvement (source: The Economist). On average, solar power improves 14% per year in terms of energy production per dollar invested.
- Process Managers — overview of the tools that keep your software running.
- Bittorrent Sync — Dropbox-like features, BitTorrent under the hood.
Learn to build event-driven client and server applications
I want to build a web server, a mail server, a BitTorrent client, a DNS server, or an IRC bot—clients and servers for a custom protocol in Python. And I want them to be cross-platform, RFC-compliant, testable, and deployable in a standardized fashion. What library should I use?
Twisted is a “batteries included” networking engine for writing, testing, and deploying event-driven clients and servers in Python. It comes with off-the-shelf support for popular networking protocols like HTTP, IMAP, IRC, SMTP, POP3, IMAP, DNS, FTP, and more.
To see just how easy it is to write networking services using Twisted, let’s run and discuss a simple Twisted TCP echo server:
from twisted.internet import protocol, reactor class Echo(protocol.Protocol): def dataReceived(self, data): self.transport.write(data) class EchoFactory(protocol.Factory): def buildProtocol(self, addr): return Echo() reactor.listenTCP(8000, EchoFactory()) reactor.run()
With Twisted installed, if we save this code to echoserver.py and run it with python echoserver.py, clients can now connect to the service on port 8000, send it data, and get back their echoed results. Read more…
Open Source Cancer Informatics, NPR Framework, Littery Junk, BitTorrent Sync
- Open Source Cancer Informatics Software (NCIP) — we have tackled the main recommendation that came out of our June meeting with open-source thought leaders: Keep it simple. Make barriers to entry as low as possible, and reuse available resources. Specifically, we have adopted a software license that is approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) and have begun to migrate the code developed under the cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid® (caBIG®) Program to a public repository. Our goal in taking these steps is to remove as many barriers as possible to community participation in the continuing development of these assets. Awesome! (via John Scott)
- NPR’s Framework for Easy Apps — their three architectural maxims: Servers are for chumps; If it doesn’t work on mobile, it doesn’t work; and Build for use. Refactor for reuse..
- Random Junk in People’s Labs (Reddit) — reminded me of the contents of my “tmp” and “Downloads” and “Documents” directories: unstructured historical crap with no expiration and no current use. (Caution: swearing in the title of the Reddit post) (via Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi)
- Sync — BitTorrent’s alpha-level tech to “automatically sync files between computers via secure, distributed technology.” Not only is it “slick for alpha” (as one friend described), it’s bloody useful: I know at least one multimillion-dollar project built on their own homegrown implementation of this same idea. (via Jason Ryan)
Open Source Metrics, BitTorrent to TV, Tumblr Value, and Variable Fiction
- Open Source Metrics — Talking about the health of the project based on a single metric is meaningless. It is definitely a waste of time to talk about the health of a project based on metrics like number of software downloads and mailing list activities. Amen!
- BitTorrent To Your TV — The first ever certified BitTorrent Android box goes on sale today, allowing users to stream files downloaded with uTorrent wirelessly to their television. The new set-top box supports playback of all popular video formats and can also download torrents by itself, fully anonymously if needed. (via Andy Baio)
- Tumblr URL Culture — the FOO.tumblr.com namespace is scarce and there’s non-financial speculation. People hoard and trade URLs, whose value is that they say “I’m cool and quirky”. I’m interested because it’s a weird largely-invisible Internet barter economy. Here’s a rant against it. (via Beta Knowledge)
- Design-Fiction Slider Bar of Disbelief (Bruce Sterling) — I love the list as much as the diagram. He lays out a sliding scale from “objective reality” to “holy relics” and positions black propaganda, 419 frauds, design pitches, user feedback, and software code on that scale (among many other things). Bruce is an avuncular Loki, pulling you aside and messing with your head for your own good.
Mac git tool, Web Developer Tool, Bullshit Detector, and ISPs Join Devil For Baby-Eating Orgy
- Wing Man — Mac app for source control management with git, implements workflow rather than simply being a wrapper for git commandlines.
- CodeKit — Mac app for web developers, automates (invisibly, thanks to watching filesystem changes) much of the web site tools.
- LazyTruth — Chrome plugin for gmail that detects bogus forwarded email and gives you the option to reply with the truth. RoboSnopes for the win! (via The Atlantic)
- Verizon to Throttle Pirates (BBC) — unable to solve their business model problems though the courts, Hollywood “partners” with ISPs to extra-judicially punish alleged infractions. ISPs win when heavy downloaders are throttled, of course, because it lets them have higher contention ratios (sell the same upstream cable to many more downstream email-checking residences instead of just a few torrenters). These five ISPs are mall-cops, private tax collectors, and regional monopolists, all in one nasty bundle of evil.
A 24-hour look at world-wide BitTorrent activity.
This week's visualization comes from BitTorrent, which has created a time-lapsed video showing a day's worth of geo-located logins.