- Timeline Setter — ProPublica-released open source tool for building timelines from spreadsheets of event data. See their post for more information. (via Laurel Ruma)
- Return to Shenzhen Part 1 — Nate from SparkFun makes a trip to component capital of the world. It’s like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for geeks. a special market that dealt exclusively with bulk cell phones. That’s right, you could buy a pile of cell phones. [...] This market was truly amazing. It was one of most dense I’ve been to, shoulder to shoulder with very little standing room. Every device imaginable was available (checkout the pile of iPads) and people were literally negotiating a spot price minute by minute. The raw phones were sold for cash and then taken to other parts of the market for parts, resale, or recycling.
- Suwappu Toys in Media (BERG London) — a concept video for a toy project. This is not primarily a technology demo, it’s a video exploration of how toys and media might converge through computer vision and augmented video. We’ve used video both as a communication tool and as a material exploration of toys, animation, augmented reality and 3D worlds.
- Predator Eye-Tracking Video (YouTube) — neat technology. The source was released, retracted, reposted to GitHub by a third party, then retracted but rumours are it will be properly released soon.
ENTRIES TAGGED "china"
Timelines, Hardware Pilgrimage, Ubiquitous Play Computing, Eye-Tracking
Chinese Maps, Ops Standards, Android Malware, and Free Fonts
- Guangzhou City Map — Chinese city maps: they use orthographic projection (think SimCity) and not satellite images. A nice compromise for usability, information content, and invisible censorship. (via Hacker News)
- Broken Windows, Broken Code, Broken Systems — So, given that most of us live in the real world where some things are just left undone, where do we draw the line? What do we consider a bit of acceptable street litter, and what do we consider a broken window? When is it ok to just reboot the system, and when do you really need to figure out exactly what went wrong?
- Android Malware — black hat copied apps, added trojans, uploaded to Android Marketplace. Google were slow to respond to original developer’s claims of copying, quick to react to security guy’s report of malware. AppStores are not magic moneypumps in software form, no more than tagging, communities, or portals were. User contributions need editorial oversight.
- The League of Movable Type — a collection of open source fonts, ready for embedding in your web pages.
National Facebook Relations, Personality Design, Lessons Learned, and Khan Academy
- The Inside Story of How Facebook Responded to Tunisian Hacks (The Atlantic) — After more than ten days of intensive investigation and study, Facebook’s security team realized something very, very bad was going on. The country’s Internet service providers were running a malicious piece of code that was recording users’ login information when they went to sites like Facebook. By January 5, it was clear that an entire country’s worth of passwords were in the process of being stolen right in the midst of the greatest political upheaval in two decades. Sullivan and his team decided they needed a country-level solution — and fast. [...] Sullivan’s team decided to take an apolitical approach to the problem. This was simply a hack that required a technical response. “At its core, from our standpoint, it’s a security issue around passwords and making sure that we protect the integrity of passwords and accounts,” he said. “It was very much a black and white security issue and less of a political issue.” cf Google and China. National politics of snoopiness vs corporate ethic of not being evil aren’t directly compatible, and the solution here only works because (let’s face it) Tunisia is not a rising economic force. If you’re selling ads in China, you don’t get to pretend that the Great Firewall of China is a security issue.
- Emoticomp — what happens if you subtly imbue objects with personalities? Obviously it could be incredibly annoying (cue Douglas Adams’s Sirius Cybernetics Corporation) but there’s potential here to add depth to devices. We are, after all, customized over hundreds of thousands of years to read and interact with the emotional objects known as people. (via Matt Jones)
- My Mistakes (Slideshare) — Perry Evans (Mapquest, Jabber, Local Matters, Closely) gave a presentation on what he’s learned from his failures. I bought into the strategy of growth via acquisition. In most cases, this is an excuse for not fixing your current business.
- The Autodidact and the Khan Academy (Chris Lehmann) — [...] it seems to me to be one more moment when people who should know better are, essentially, saying, “See! We don’t need teachers anymore!” As if every student could learn from a pre-packaged delivery model of content. It doesn’t work that way. I like the Khan Academy but, as Chris says, it’s not a replacement for education for most kids.
De-DRMing eBooks, Chinese Data, eBook Pricing, and Universal Translation (soon)
- Remove DRM from EBooks — it’s been done, and the tools are getting easier to use. The Kindle DRM-remover uses gdb to hook into the Kindle for Mac application, watch when a book’s decoded and snaffle the key. (via BoingBoing)
- AliBaba’s Data Possibilities (The Economist) — Alibaba has a huge and barely exploited asset: the data it has gathered on the spending habits of China’s emerging middle class. The firm is cagey about what, exactly, it will do with these data, and insists that it will not violate anyone’s privacy. Nonetheless, there are ways in which Alibaba could profit from what it knows. One idea might be to use customer data to identify trends and so help companies to anticipate what consumers want. Given the paucity of accurate data in China, this would be extremely valuable.
- Agency Pricing — Under agency pricing, the publisher controls the price and the retailer is not allowed to discount [...] under Agency Pricing and with a reduced sales price of $9.99, the agency publishers are making the same amount of money as its hardcover revenue. (via Hacker News)
- Google Translate for Conversations — Because this technology is still in alpha, factors like regional accents, background noise or rapid speech may make it difficult to understand what you’re saying. As Douglas Adams said, by allowing everyone to understand each other, the babel fish has caused more wars than anything else in the universe.
Data Structures, Technoptimism, China, and Web Math
- Synopsis Data Structures for Massive Data Sets (PDF) — survey of data structures that reduce the problem space when dealing with large data sets. (via Pete Warden)
- Optimism — you build what you’re thinking of. Time to figure out the optimistic future and build that. “Work as if you lived in the early days of a better nation.” –attributed to Alasdair Gray.
- Velocity China — in case you were wondering, yes: China is on our radar.
Community Deconstructed, Sparklines Explained, NoSQL Navigated, and Foxconn Surveyed
- Open Source Community Types (Simon Phipps) — draws a distinction between extenders and deployers to take away the “who do you mean?” confusion that comes with the term “community”.
- Sparklines — Tufte’s coverage of sparkline graphs in Beautiful Evidence. (via Hacker News)
- Why NoSQL Matters (Heroku blog) — a very nice precis of the use cases for various NoSQL systems. Frequently-written, rarely read statistical data (for example, a web hit counter) should use an in-memory key/value store like Redis, or an update-in-place document store like MongoDB. I’m sure there are as many opinions as there are people, but I’d welcome a “if you want to do X, look at Y” guide to the NoSQL space. If you know of such a beast, please leave pointers in the comments. Thanks!
- The Man Who Makes Your iPhone (BusinessWeek) — a fascinating survey of Foxconn’s CEO, history, operations, culture, and plans. This line resonated for me: “I never think I am successful,” he says. “If I am successful, then I should be retired. If I am not retired, then that means I should still be working hard, keeping the company running.”
Can the United States become more competitive as a maker of things?
Dale Dougherty weaves together recent commentary and his own first-hand observations from the manufacturing world. In this piece, he asks: What can we learn from China? Can the U.S. become more competitive as a maker of things?
Reflective Spaces, Slow Media, Chinese Genomics, and a Code Blog
- They Don’t Complain and They Die Quietly (Derek Powazek) — In this hyper-modern age of real-time always-on location-based info-overload, perhaps a moment of true peace and quiet is the greatest gift one can receive.
- The Slow Media Manifesto — Slow Media inspire, continuously affect the users’ thoughts and actions and are still perceptible years later. Steven Levy ran a Slow Media session at Foo. (via Bruce Sterling)
- The Dragon’s DNA (The Economist) — Beijing Genomics Institute putting more DNA-sequencing capacity into the top floor of a refurbished printing works than is available in the whole USA.
- Scribd Coding Blog — very interesting blog about the technology behind and inside Scribd. They process over 150M polygons a day, building web fonts from the fonts in PDF files, and tell you why it’s not straightforward. I wish there were more of these genuinely interesting technology blogs from companies that do interesting things.