What Was It Like to Browse the Web in the 90s? (Quora) — it was awesome, because the alternative was television. Couple of whiny “you won’t believe how hard we had it” posts, from people who obviously believe that everyone in history has been miserable because they don’t have it as good as we do now. And, thus, by extension, we are miserable because we don’t have it as good as future generations of silver-robot-bearing flying-car-driving humans.
Be a Good Dictator (Rowan Simpson) — There is no shortage of advice online about how to be a good designer or a good software developer. But what about advice for those who aspire to be good product dictators? Guidance seems pretty thin on the ground. […] Being a deep expert in just one area is not enough for good dictators. You need to be a polymath living at an intersection.
Hardware is Dead — 7-inch tablet, Wi-Fi only with all the attributes of a good tablet. Capacitive touchscreen. Snappy processor. Front facing camera. 4GB of internal memory and an expandable memory slot. for USD75. At these levels there is almost no profit margin left in the hardware business. A $45 tablet is cheap enough to be an impulse purchase at the check-out line in Best Buy. A $45 price puts tablets within reach of a whole host of other activities not traditionally associated with computers. (via Steve Bowbrick)
Car Transmissions and Syncromesh (YouTube) — cheesy old Chevy educational movie that does a great job of explaining how manual transmissions work. Such videos were the screencasts for the auto DIY folks. (via Nat Friedman)
China Hackers Hit EU Point Man and DC (Bloomberg) — wow. The extent to which EU and US government and business computer systems have been penetrated is astonishing. Stolen information is flowing out of the networks of law firms, investment banks, oil companies, drug makers, and high technology manufacturers in such significant quantities that intelligence officials now say it could cause long-term harm to U.S. and European economies. (via Gady Epstein)
Digestible Microchips (Nature) — The sand-particle sized sensor consists of a minute silicon chip containing trace amounts of magnesium and copper. When swallowed, it generates a slight voltage in response to digestive juices, which conveys a signal to the surface of a person’s skin where a patch then relays the information to a mobile phone belonging to a healthcare-provider. (via Sara Winge)
Quantum Mechanics Make Simple(r) — clever way to avoid the brain pain of quantum mechanics and leap straight to the “oh!”. [N]ature is described not by probabilities (which are always nonnegative), but by numbers called amplitudes that can be positive, negative, or even complex. […] In the usual “hierarchy of sciences”—with biology at the top, then chemistry, then physics, then math—quantum mechanics sits at a level between math and physics that I don’t know a good name for. Basically, quantum mechanics is the operating system that other physical theories run on as application software (with the exception of general relativity, which hasn’t yet been successfully ported to this particular OS). (via Hacker News)
Social Media in China (Fast Company) — fascinating interview with Tricia Wang. We often don’t think we have a lot to learn from tech companies outside of the U.S., but Twitter should look to Weibo for inspiration for what can be done. It’s like a mashup of Tumblr, Zynga, Facebook, and Twitter. It’s very picture-based, whereas Twitter is still very text-based. In Weibo, the pictures are right under each post, so you don’t have to make an extra click to view them. And people are using this in subversive ways. Whether you’re using algorithms to search text or actual people–and China has the largest cyber police force in the world—it’s much easier to censor text than images. So people are very subversive in hiding messages in pictures. These pictures are sometimes very different than what people are texting, or will often say a lot more than the actual text itself. (via Tricia Wang)
Microsoft’s New Open Sourced Stacks (Miguel de Icaza) — not just open sourced (some of the code had been under MS Permissive License before, now it’s Apache) but developed in public with git: ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web API, ASP.NET Web Pages v2. The Azure SDK is also on github.
In An Internet Age, Crime is Essential to Freedom (Donald Clark) — when a criminal asks: “How do I secure payment and store my ill-gotten gains”, somewhere else, a refugee asks: “How can I send funds back to a relative such that they can’t be traced to me”.
NSA: China Behind RSA Attacks (Information Week) — I can argue both sides about whether government cloud services are a boon or a curse for remote information thieves. Looking forward to seeing how it plays out.
Stamen Watercolour Maps — I saw a preview of this a week or two ago and was in awe. It is truly the most beautiful thing I’ve seen a computer do. It’s not just a clever hack, it’s art. Genius. And they’re CC-licensed.
Screens Up Close — gorgeous microscope pictures of screens, showing how great the iPad’s retina display is.
Numbers API — CUTE! Visit it, even if you’re not a math head, it’s fun.
mbox — more technical information than you ever thought you’d need, to be saved for the time when you have to parse mailbox files. It’s a nightmare. (via Hacker News)
Maui (Google Code) — Maui automatically identifies main topics in text documents. Depending on the task, topics are tags, keywords, keyphrases, vocabulary terms, descriptors, index terms or titles of Wikipedia articles. GPLv3.
Things Turbo Pascal is Smaller Than — next time you’re bragging about your efficient code, spare a thought for the Pascal IDE and compiler that lived in 39,731 bytes. This list of more bloated things is hilarious.
The China Startup Report (Slideshare) — interesting to see the low salary comes with expectation of bonuses but little interest in equity (as there are few exits other than IPO, for reasons the presentation goes into).
Shape Method — fun HTML5 challenge that will also expand your appreciation of fonts.
Open Source All The Things! — SparkFun looking aggressively for things to “open source” from their business. I have a lot of time for companies that contribute to the commons above and beyond their legally-mandated minimum, particularly those who aren’t just dumping their unwanted junk there. Google does this well, Facebook is learning. Good on ya, SparkFun.
Why Amazon Can’t Make a Kindle in the USA (Forbes) — the progressive hollowing of manufacturing, driven by short-term gains, leading to long-term losses of industries and the corresponding areas to innovate. This is part of a series, and it’s well worth reading the whole series. (via Pinboard)
MyChinese360 — virtual foreign language instruction in Mandarin, including “virtual visits” to Chinese landmarks. The ability to get native speakers virtually into the classroom makes the Internet a huge asset for rural schools. (via Lucy Gray)
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.