- Inside Apple (Amazon) — If Apple is Silicon Valley’s answer to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, then author Adam Lashinsky provides readers with a golden ticket to step inside. In this primer on leadership and innovation, the author will introduce readers to concepts like the “DRI” (Apple’s practice of assigning a Directly Responsible Individual to every task) and the Top 100 (an annual ritual in which 100 up-and-coming executives are tapped a la Skull & Bones for a secret retreat with company founder Steve Jobs). Hopefully it can provide a better template for successful executive behaviour than “be an arsehole who has opinions about design” which seems to be all that many have taken from the life and works of Steve Jobs. (via BoingBoing)
- Microsoft Buys Netscape Patents from AOL (Slashgear) — when your employer says “we need you to file for a patent on this, just so we can build up our defensive arsenal”, bear this in mind: you can never know that the defensive portfolio won’t be bought by an aggressive competitor in the future. I’m not sure that we can all sleep sound knowing that Microsoft owns autofill and SSL.
- Open Data and The Gulf Oil Spill (Ars Technica) — competing interests meant uncoordinated data collection, reporting distorted research by omitting caveats on preliminary work and findings, and talking openly about what you’re doing can jeopardise your chance of publication in many journals. I found data collection stories particularly horrifying. (via Pete Warden)
- Smart Meter Hacks — Liston and Weber have developed a prototype of a tool and software program that lets anyone access the memory of a vulnerable smart meter device and intercept the credentials used to administer it. Weber said the toolkit relies in part on a device called an optical probe, which can be made for about $150 in parts, or purchased off the Internet for roughly $300. “This is a well-known and common issue, one that we’ve warning people about for three years now, where some of these smart meter devices implement unencrypted memory,” Weber said. “If you know where and how to look for it, you can gather the security code from the device, because it passes them unencrypted from one component of the device to another.” Also notable for the fantastic line: “What you’re hearing is the sound of [a] paradigm shifting without a clutch,” Former said.
Inside Apple, Microsoft Acquires Netscape Patents, Open Science, and Smart Meters
Wind Viz, CS For Fun, Software Defined Radio, and Copyright's Collateral Damage
- Wind Map — beautiful visualization of the winds across America.
- Computer Science for Fun — magazine for beginning students of computing.
- Cheap SDR — software defined radio for as little as $11. (via Slashdot)
- The Missing 20th Century (The Atlantic) — check out those graphs for a glaring hole caused by an overdose of copyright.
Squirrel Targeting with Computer Vision, Audio Recognition, Single Page Apps, and Persisting at Failing
- Militarizing Your Backyard With Python and Computer Vision (video) — using a water cannon, computer video, Arduino, and Python to keep marauding squirrel hordes under control. See the finished result for Yakkity Saxed moist rodent goodness.
- Soundbite — dialogue search for Apple’s Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro. Boris Soundbite quickly and accurately finds any word or phrase spoken in recorded media. Shoot squirrels with computer vision, search audio with computer hearing. We live in the future, people. (via Andy Baio)
- Why Finish Books? (NY Review of Books) — the more bad books you finish, the fewer good ones you”ll have time to start. Applying this to the rest of life is left as an exercise for the reader.
Copywars, Pricing, Fragmentation, and Book Clubbery
- The Coming War on General Purpose Computation (BoingBoing) — Cory Doctorow’s barnburner talk on how the only way copyright maximalists can win is if general purpose computers are locked down like infectious disease agents or fissionable material.
- Valve Price Experiments (Geekwire) — The easiest way to stop piracy is not by putting antipiracy technology to work. It’s by giving those people a service that’s better than what they’re receiving from the pirates. For example, Russia. You say, oh, we’re going to enter Russia, people say, you’re doomed, they’ll pirate everything in Russia. Russia now outside of Germany is our largest continental European market. […] We don’t understand what’s going on. All we know is we’re going to keep running these experiments to try and understand better what it is that our customers are telling us. And there are clearly things that we don’t understand because a simple analysis of these statistics implies very contradictory yet reproducible results. Read the whole thing, it’s fascinating.
- Android Updates Are a Mess Because of the Business Model (ZDNet) — interesting analysis that hardware fragmentation plus the manufacturer/carrier/consumer disconnect makes delayed updates almost inevitable. The Android community is traveling along a path that the old Windows Mobile platform followed a few years ago. It was a disaster then, and Microsoft wisely abandoned that entire business model when it developed Windows Phone 7. Alas, Google doesn’t have that option, which means that Android users are going to continue to face a mess when it comes to updates.
- Organized Readthrough of Godel Escher Bach (Reddit) — online book club, essentially, for this computing classic. First chapters kick off on Jan 17.
Version Control, Web-based ID, Mobile Design, and Node.js Tools
- The History of Version Control (Francis Irving) — concise history of the key advances in managing source code versions. Worth it just for the delicious apposition of “history” and “version control”.
- A Look Inside Mobile Design Patterns — Sample chapter on how different apps handle invitations, from a new [O’Reilly-published, huzzah!] book on mobile design patterns. (via David Kaneda)
- Node Toolbox — concise compendium of resources for node.js development.
Newton's Notebooks, Creative Commons, Node HTTP, and Data Business
- Newton’s Notebooks Digitised — wonderful for historians, professional and amateur. I love (a) his handwriting; (b) the pages full of long division that remind us what an amazing time-saver the calculator and then computer was; (c) use of “yn” for “then (the y is actually a thorn, pronounced “th”, and it’s from this that we get “ye”, actually pronounced pronounced “the”). All that and chromatic separation of light, inverse square law, and alchemical mysteries.
- Creative Commons Kicks Off 4.0 Round — public discussion process around issues that will lead to a new version of the CC licenses.
- Holding Back the Age of Data (Redmonk) — Absent a market with well understood licensing and distribution mechanisms, each data negotiation – whether the subject is attribution, exclusivity, license, price or all of the above – is a one off. Very good essay into the evolution of a mature software industry into an immature data industry.
Future Tech, Book Lawsuits, Site Design, and Sundae Problems
- Russell Davies: Four Thought (audio) — some very nice thinking on the future of technology.
- The Fight Over the Future of Digital Books (The Atlantic) — Authors Guild v. HathiTrust is a strange legal twist. For an association of professional writers, the Guild seems to have forgotten some of the basic principles of its craft, such as not placing sympathetic figures like librarians in the role of villains. Almost comically, the Guild’s press release trumpeting its lawsuit against HathiTrust augurs a dark day in the not-too-distant future when old works, including obscure Yiddish texts, are “abducted” and “released” to thousands of students and professors.
- The Design Behind How Many Really — this is fantastic stuff, showing the evolution of their thinking.
- Science Museums are Failing Grownups — I think this is a sundae problem. A sundae is a bowl full of ice cream. You put some stuff on top of it, but it remains, fundamentally, a bowl full of ice cream. And when I talk about examples of really great adult engagement in science museums, I am, generally, talking about the sprinkles, not the ice cream. The museums acknowledge the problem, but they’re dealing with it by adding in a couple of things here and there. A traveling exhibit. One exhibit out of the whole museum. One night a month. What they really need are serious changes to the bulk of the experience. Sundae problem. I like this.
With Metro, it's clear Microsoft has put a lot of thought into touchscreen design.
Microsoft's Metro interface offers plenty for digital book designers to study. The best part? Whether or not Microsoft actually ships something that matches their demo, designers can benefit from the great thinking they've done.