Distributed Systems Theory for the Distributed Systems Engineer — I tried to come up with a list of what I consider the basic concepts that are applicable to my every-day job as a distributed systems engineer; what I consider ‘table stakes’ for distributed systems engineers competent enough to design a new system.
Shenzhen Trip Report (Joi Ito) — full of fascinating observations about how the balance of manufacturing strength has shifted in surprising ways. The retail price of the cheapest full featured phone is about $9. Yes. $9. This could not be designed in the US – this could only be designed by engineers with tooling grease under their fingernails who knew the manufacturing equipment inside and out, as well as the state of the art of high-end mobile phones.
Sproutling — The world’s first sensing, learning, predicting baby monitor. A wearable band for your baby, a smart charger and a mobile app work together to not only monitor more effectively but learn and predict your baby’s sleep habits and optimal sleep conditions. (via Wired)
Notes on the Celebrity Data Theft — wonderfully detailed analysis of how photos were lifted, and the underground industry built around them. This was one of the most unsettling aspects of these networks to me – knowing there are people out there who are turning over data on friends in their social networks in exchange for getting a dump of their private data.
Comments Off on Four short links: 3 September 2014
Crowd Forecasting (NPR) — How is it possible that a group of average citizens doing Google searches in their suburban town homes can outpredict members of the United States intelligence community with access to classified information?
The Well Deserved Fortune of Satoshi Nakamoto — I can’t assure with 100% certainty that the all the black dots are owned by Satoshi, but almost all are owned by a single entity, and that entity began mining right from block 1, and with the same performance as the genesis block. It can be identified by constant slope segments that occasionally restart. Also this entity is the only entity that has shown complete trust in Bitcoin, since it hasn’t spend any coins (as last as the eye can see). I estimate at eyesight that Satoshi fortune is around 1M Bitcoins, or 100M USD at current exchange rate. Author’s credible. (via Hacker News)
Houdini (Github) — C library for escaping and unescaping UTF-8-encoded HTML, according to OWASP guidelines.
The $12 Gongkai Phone (Bunnie Huang) — gongkai isn’t a totally lawless free-for-all. It’s a network of ideas, spread peer-to-peer, with certain rules to enforce sharing and to prevent leeching. It’s very different from Western IP concepts, but I’m trying to have an open mind about it.
Jan Chipchase on Google Glass (All Things D) — Any idiot can collect data. The real issue is how to collect data in such a way that meets both moral and legal obligations and still delivers some form of value. An interesting observation, one of many within this overview of the usability and third-party user experience of Google Glass-like UIs.
DroneNet: How to Build It (John Robb) — It’s possible to break the FAA’s “line of sight” rules regarding drones right now and get away with it to enable fast decentralized growth. This strategy works. e.g. PayPal flagrantly broke banking laws and regulations in order to out-compete a field of competitors that decided to follow the law. (via Daniel Bachhuber)
How to Make a BOM (Bunnie Huang) — yet more very useful howto information for people looking into Chinese (or other) manufacturing.
Junior — A front-end framework for building HTML5 mobile apps with a native look and feel.
Teaching Programming to a Highly Motivated Beginner (CACM) — I don’t think there is any better way to internalize knowledge than first spending hours upon hours growing emotionally distraught over such struggles and only then being helped by a mentor. Me, too. Not struggle for struggle’s sake, but because you have built a strong mental map of the problem into which the solution can lock.
Corona (GitHub) — Facebook opensources their improvements to Hadoop’s job tracking, in the name of scalability, latency, cluster utilization, and fairness. (via Chris Aniszczyk)
One Man’s Trash (Bunnie Huang) — Bunnie finds a Chumby relic in a Shenzhen market stall.
Sugata Mitra: Beyond The Hole in the Wall (YouTube) — great talk by the education researcher Sugata Mitra whose big kick is self-directed learning. Great stories about the deployments and effects he’s had with technology and supervision rather than teaching, but the end is a real kicker: the core skills we have are literacy, search, and belief. Of the three, the most problematic is belief: when and how do/should we turn something we’ve read into something ingrained, accepted, and built-upon? (via Tara Taylor-Jorgenson)
Interview with Bunnie Huang (Makezine) — fascinating interview with the hardware guy behind the Chumby. It’s all gold, from rapid iteration at early stages of hardware through to the need to simplify. I think one of the most gut-wrenching realizations that small companies have to make is that they aren’t Apple. Apple spends over a billion dollars a year on tooling. An injection molding tool may cost around $40k and 2-3 months to make; Apple is known to build five or six simultaneously and then scrap all but one so they can evaluate multiple design approaches. But for them, tossing $200k in tooling to save 2 months time to market is peanuts. But for a startup that raised a million bucks, it’s unthinkable. Apple also has hundreds of staff; a startup has just a few members to do everything. The precision and refinement of Apple’s products come at an enormous cost that is just out of the reach of startups.
ssh as Chrome Extension — can’t help but feel that building a secure login system on top of web browsers on top of operating systems isn’t going to be more secure than building a secure login system on top of the operating system.
Ira Glass on RadioLab — fascinating analysis of a product that’s the result of skilled creators with high standards and a desire to do things differently. Lessons for all who would be different. (via Courtney Johnston)