Teach Don’t Tell — what I think good documentation is and how I think you should go about writing it. Sample common sense: This is obvious when you’re working face-to-face with someone. When you tell them how to play a C major chord on the guitar and they only produce a strangled squeak, it’s clear that you need to slow down and talk about how to press down on the strings properly. As programmers, we almost never get this kind of feedback about our documentation. We don’t see that the person on the other end of the wire is hopelessly confused and blundering around because they’re missing something we thought was obvious (but wasn’t). Teaching someone in person helps you learn to anticipate this, which will pay off (for your users) when you’re writing documentation.
Comcast (Github) — Comcast is a tool designed to simulate common network problems like latency, bandwidth restrictions, and dropped/reordered/corrupted packets. On BSD-derived systems such as OSX, we use tools like ipfw and pfctl to inject failure. On Linux, we use iptables and tc. Comcast is merely a thin wrapper around these controls.
The UX Reader — This ebook is a collection of the most popular articles from our [MailChimp] UX Newsletter, along with some exclusive content.
Bad Assumptions — Apple lost more money to currency fluctuations than Google makes in a quarter.
Creating Empathy on Facebook (NY Times) — On Facebook, teenagers are presented with more options than just “it’s embarrassing” when they want to remove a post. They are asked what’s happening in the post, how they feel about it and how sad they are. In addition, they are given a text box with a polite pre-written response that can be sent to the friend who hurt their feelings. (In early versions of this feature, only 20 percent of teenagers filled out the form. When Facebook added more descriptive language like “feelings” and “sadness,” the figure grew to 80 percent.)
PlotDevice — A Python-based graphics language for designers, developers, and tinkerers. More in the easy-to-get-started + visual realm, like Processing. (via Andy Baio)
Scumblr and Sketchy Search — Netflix open sourcing some scraping, screenshot, and workflow tools their security team uses to monitor discussion of themselves.
Should Twitter, Facebook and Google Executives be the Arbiters of What We See and Read? (Glenn Greenwald) — In the digital age, we are nearing the point where an idea banished by Twitter, Facebook and Google all but vanishes from public discourse entirely, and that is only going to become more true as those companies grow even further. Whatever else is true, the implications of having those companies make lists of permitted and prohibited ideas are far more significant than when ordinary private companies do the same thing.
Neglected Machine Learning Ideas — Perhaps my list is a “send me review articles and book suggestions” cry for help, but perhaps it is useful to others as an overview of neat things.
First Crowdfunded Book on Booker Shortlist — Booker excludes self-published works, but “The Wake” was through Unbound, a Threadless-style “if we hit this limit, the book is printed and you have bought a copy” site.
Watson Can Debate Its Opponents (io9) — Speaking in nearly perfect English, Watson/The Debater replied: “Scanned approximately 4 million Wikipedia articles, returning ten most relevant articles. Scanned all 3,000 sentences in top ten articles. Detected sentences which contain candidate claims. Identified borders of candidate claims. Assessed pro and con polarity of candidate claims. Constructed demo speech with top claim predictions. Ready to deliver.”
ipfs — a global, versioned, peer-to-peer file system. It combines good ideas from Git, BitTorrent, Kademlia, and SFS. You can think of it like a single BitTorrent swarm, exchanging Git objects, making up the web. IPFS provides an interface much simpler than HTTP, but has permanence built in.. (via Sourcegraph)
3D Petrie Museum — The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology has one of the largest ancient Egyptian and Sudanese collections in the world and they’ve put 3D models of their goods online. Not (yet) available for download, only viewing which seem a bug.
Sandy Pentland on Wearables (The Verge) — Pentland was also Nathan Eagle’s graduate advisor, and behind the Reality Mining work at MIT. Check out his sociometer: One study revealed that the sociometer helps discern when someone is bluffing at poker roughly 70 percent of the time; another found that a wearer can determine who will win a negotiation within the first five minutes with 87 percent accuracy; yet another concluded that one can accurately predict the success of a speed date before the participants do.
Bionic Legs Let Patients Walk Again — The Ekso costs about $100,000 and was purchased with a grant from Baptist Health Foundation. Chara Rodriguez, a physical therapist and neurologic clinical specialist at University Health System, called the machine “the Maserati of the rehab world.” (via Robot Economics)
Roundup of CS in Education Systems (Economist) — Above all, the new subject will require teachers who know what they are doing. Only a few places take this seriously: Israel has about 1,000 trained computer-science teachers, and Bavaria more than 700. Mathematics and computer-science graduates generally choose more lucrative trades; the humanities and social-science graduates who will find themselves teaching coding will need plenty of support.
gobot — Go framework for hardware and robotics comms, with Arduino, Sphero, (and more) backends.
Malignant Computation — The bitcoin mining network would work just as well if it had far less computation devoted to it. Bitcoins would be mined at exactly the same rate if 1/2 or 1/4 of the computational resources were devoted. This means that bitcoin has incentivized a tremendous amount of computational busy work.
GDS Becomes Political (Computer Weekly) — She [Opposition MP] said that digital should not be about imposing a way of working on the public sector – Labour is not fond of the “digital by default” mantra – but about supporting public service delivery. […] “When this government decided upon the digitalisation of this [online job search] service they apparently did not take into account those with poor literacy skills, mental health issues or learning difficulties – who, as most people would have predicted, make up a higher-than-average proportion of the unemployed.”
streamtools (Github) — a graphical toolkit for dealing with streams of data. Streamtools makes it easy to explore, analyse, modify and learn from streams of data. (via OpenNews)
The Internet of Things That Do What You Tell Them: Cory Doctorow passionately explains how computers are already entwined in our lives, which means laws that support lock-in are much more than inconveniences.