ENTRIES TAGGED "brain"
Microchip Archaeology, OSM Map Library, Feedback Loops for Public Expenditure, and Mind-reading Big Data
- Digging into Technology’s Past — stories of the amazing work behind the visual 6502 project and how they reconstructed and simulated the legendary 6502 chip. To analyze and then preserve the 6502, James treated it like the site of an excavation. First, he needed to expose the actual chip by removing its packaging of essentially “billiard-ball plastic.” He eroded the casing by squirting it with very hot, concentrated sulfuric acid. After cleaning the chip with an ultrasonic cleaner—much like what’s used for dentures or contact lenses—he could see its top layer.
- Too Many Public Works Built on Rosy Scenarios (Bloomberg) — a feedback loop with real data being built to improve accuracy estimating infrastructure project costs. He would like to see better incentives — punishment for errors, rewards for accuracy — combined with a requirement that forecasts not only consider the expected characteristics of the specific project but, once that calculation is made, adjust the estimate based on an “outside view,” reflecting the cost overruns of similar projects. That way, the “unexpected” problems that happen over and over again would be taken into consideration.
Such scrutiny would, of course, make some projects look much less appealing — which is exactly what has happened in the U.K., where “reference-class forecasting” is now required. “The government stopped a number of projects dead in their tracks when they saw the forecasts,” Flyvbjerg says. “This had never happened before.”
- Neurovigil Gets Cash Injection To Read Your Mind (FastCompany) — “an anonymous American industrialist and technology visionary” put tens of millions into this company, which has hardware to gather mineable data. iBrain promises to open a huge pipeline of data with its powerful but simple brain-reading tech, which is gaining traction thanks to technological advances. But the other half of the potentailly lucrative equation is the ability to analyze the trove of data coming from iBrain. And that’s where NeuroVigil’s SPEARS algorithm enters the picture. Not only is the company simplifying collection of brain data with a device that can be relatively comfortably worn during all sorts of tasks–sleeping, driving, watching advertising–but the combination of iBrain and SPEARS multiplies the efficiency of data analysis. (via Vaughan Bell)
Vector Graphics, Processing Maps, Augemented Senses, and Graph Analysis
- TileMill for Processing — gorgeous custom maps in Processing. (via FlowingData)
- Research Assistant Wanted — working with one of the authors of Mind Hacks on augmenting our existing senses with a form of “remote touch” generated by using artificial distance sensors, such as ultrasound, to stimulate tactile stimulators (vibrating pads) placed against the surface of the head.. (via Vaughn Bell)
- GoldenORB — a cloud-based open source project for massive-scale graph analysis, built upon best-of-breed software from the Apache Hadoop project modeled after Google’s Pregel architecture. (via BigData)
Car Monitoring with iPhone, Multitasking, Privacy, and Cool Unix Tools
- ODB to iPhone Converter — hardware to connect to your car’s onboard computer and display it on an iPhone app. (via Imran Ali)
- Multitasking Brains (Wired) — interesting pair of studies: old brains have trouble recovering from distractions; hardcore multitaskers have trouble focusing. (via Stormy Peters)
- Social Privacy — Danah Boyd draft paper on teens’ attitudes to online privacy. Interesting take on privacy as about power: This incident does not reveal that teens don’t understand privacy, but rather that they lack the agency to assert social norms and expect that others will respect them. (via Maha Shaikh)
- Cool but Obscure Unix Tools — there were some new tricks for this old dog (iftop, socat). (via Andy Baio)
Engineering Management, Open Source Escrow, Media Immunity, and Small-run Production
- Five Google Engineering Management Mistakes — interesting to see informed criticism, because Google’s style is often presented as a winning model. TLs [Tech Leads] were still evaluated as individual contributors. Leads to poor management practices: Grabbing all the sexy work for themselves; Providing negative evaluations for team members so they look good in comparison; Not paying attention to team member needs or requests; Confrontational relationships between team members and TLs (in some dysfunctional cases).
- Community Escrow (Simon Phipps in Computerworld) — interesting take on open source as a way of protecting against the interests of a vendor changing to no longer be aligned with those of the customer. The kicker: If the product was “open core” – with the key commercial features kept proprietary – it will be very hard for anyone to provide continuity. This is especially true if you are using the software as a service, because the critical know-how to make the software reliably run in the cloud is unlikely to be included in the open source project. Hear, hear. Cloud and open core are new enough that we still blow kisses every time we meet, but that honeymoon will pass and before long it’ll be hostile cold stares and long contemplative silences spent gazing out the window, musing on their shortcomings.
- Data Story Telling (Pete Warden) — Pete nails something I’ve been chewing on: in this model, a new form of media is like an infection hitting a previously unexposed population. Some people figure out how it can be used to breach the weak spots in the audience’s mental ‘immune system’, how to persuade people to believe lies that serve the propagator’s purpose. Eventually the deviation from reality becomes too obvious, people wise up to the manipulation and a certain level of immunity is propagated throughout the culture. The same is true for advertising: we’re in an arms race, novelty against neuroplasticity.
- Whimsy (and Clothes) For Sale (NY Times) — “We could never afford to make product in volume, so we adopted kind of like a Beanie Baby approach: we’d create small collections that supremely rabid buyers would end up buying,” Mr. Lindland said, noting that some customers own more than 20 pairs of his signature pants. “They’re a collectors’ item, oddly enough.” Small-run manufacturing embraced as a differentiating advantage, rather than as a competitive disadvantage.
Facebook Bank, New in NoSQL, Twitter Numbers, and Open Source EEG Driver
- ASB Bank’s Facebook Virtual Branch — the world’s first Facebook branch of a bank, where you can live chat with tellers. (via Vaughn Davis)
- SciDB — GPLv3 NoSQL database. In addition to being multi-dimensional and offering array based scaling from megabytes to petabytes and running on tens of thousands clustered nodes, SciDB’s will be write once read many, allow bulk load rather than single road insert, provide parallel computation, be designed for automatic rather than manual administration, and work with R, Matlab, IDL, C++ and Python. (that from The Register) (via jsteeleeditor on Twitter)
- Twitter By The Numbers (Raffi Krikorian) — given to answer the question “what’s so hard about delivering 140 characters?”. They hit a peak of 3283 inbound tweets/second. Every time Lady Gaga tweets, 6.1M people have to get it. (via Alex Russell)
- EmoKit — an open source driver to the $300 Emotiv EPOC EEG headset. (via BoingBoing)
Satellite-based Forecasting, Design Book, Submarine Cable Map, Brain Science
- New Big Brother: Market-Moving Satellite Images — using satellite images of Wal-Mart and Target parking lots to predict quarterly returns. (via Hacker News)
- Form and Code — beautiful book on the intersection of code, design, architecture, form, and function. One of the authors is Casey Reas who was also one of the people behind Processing. (via RandomEtc on Twitter)
- Cable Map — major underwater communications cables around the world. (via berkun on Twitter)
- Ray Kurzweil Does Not Understand The Brain (Pharyngula) — To simplify it so a computer science guy can get it, Kurzweil has everything completely wrong. The genome is not the program; it’s the data. The program is the ontogeny of the organism, which is an emergent property of interactions between the regulatory components of the genome and the environment, which uses that data to build species-specific properties of the organism. He doesn’t even comprehend the nature of the problem, and here he is pontificating on magic solutions completely free of facts and reason.
Delicious Graphs, Charities and Data, Climate Psychology, Data Structure Portability
- Delicious Links Clustered and Stacked (Matt Biddulph) — six years of his delicious links, k-means clustered by tag and graphed. The clusters are interesting, but I wonder whether Matt can identify significant life/work events by the spikes in the graph.
- Open Data and the Voluntary Sector (OKFN) — Open data will give charities new ways to find and share information on the need of their beneficiaries – who needs their services most and where they are located. The sharing of information will be key to this – it’s not just about using data that the government has opened up, but also opening your own data.
- Cognitive and Behavioral Challenges in Responding to Climate Change — At the deepest level, large scale environmental problems such as global warming threaten people’s sense of the continuity of life – what sociologist Anthony Giddens calls ontological security. Ignoring the obvious can, however, be a lot of work. Both the reasons for and process of denial are socially organized; that is to say, both cognition and denial are socially structured. Denial is socially organized because societies develop and reinforce a whole repertoire of techniques or “tools” for ignoring disturbing problems. Fascinating paper. (via Jez)
- Blueprints — provides a collection of interfaces and implementations to common, complex data structures. Blueprints contains a property graph model its implementations for TinkerGraph, Neo4j, and SAIL. Also, it contains an object document model and implementations for TinkerDoc, CouchDB, and MongoDB. In short, Blueprints provides a one stop shop for implemented interfaces to help developers create software without being tied to particular underlying data management systems.
Open Source Brain Software, Mind Control, Data QA, Android Game Engine
- OpenVibe — open source software for brain-computer interfaces, from Inria.
- Robot Controlled by Mind (video) — uses OpenVibe. I love that this can see blinks and other neural activity, and that it’s hackable.
- Talend Open Profiler — open source tool to QA data.
- AndEngine — open source 2D OpenGL Game Engine for the Android platform.
Neuroplasticity, Crime Landscapes, Math Help, and Visualization Tutorials
- Neuroplasticity is a Dirty Word (MindHacks) — quick roundup of some of the more important ways in which the brain changes. It’s currently popular to solemnly declare that a particular experience must be taken seriously because it ‘rewires the brain’ despite the fact that everything we experience ‘rewires the brain’. [...] Clearly this is rubbish and every time you hear anyone, scientist or journalist, refer to neuroplasticity, ask yourself what specifically they are talking about. If they don’t specify or can’t tell you, they are blowing hot air. In fact, if we banned the word, we would be no worse off.
- If San Francisco Crime was Elevation — elegant way to visualise the crime statistics from DataSF. (via BoingBoing)
- Math Overflow — a Stack Overflow type site for math questions. (via evilmadscientist)
Brand in China, Radio Apps, Valued Free Text, and Brain TV
- E-Commerce Booming in China (Economist) — bad time for Google to be leaving, just as online sales take off. Chinese consumers in stores check quality by hand but buying online requires trust, aka brands. This is a turn towards Western-style commerce built on trademarks and brand promise of quality, and away from the prevalent wild East style of commerce built on cut corners, deception, and mistrust.
- Comprehensive GNU Radio Archive Network — collection of GNU Radio applications. (via Hacker News)
- The Glass Box and the Commonplace Book (Steven Johnson) — essay on connected useful text vs frozen glass-walled text. As with paywalls, I am not dogmatic about these things. I don’t think it’s incumbent upon the New York Times or The Wall Street Journal to allow all their content to flow freely through the infosphere with no restrictions. I do not pull out my crucifix when people use the phrase “Digital Rights Management.” If publishers want to put reasonable limits on what their audience can do with their words, I’m totally fine with that. As I said, I think the Kindle has a workable compromise, though I would like to see it improved in a few key areas. But I also don’t want to mince words. When your digital news feed doesn’t contain links, when it cannot be linked to, when it can’t be indexed, when you can’t copy a paragraph and paste it into another application: when this happens your news feed is not flawed or backwards looking or frustrating. It is broken.
- Charlie Rose Brain Series — streaming video of the TV shows about the brain. (via Mind Hacks)