- Witrack — tracks the 3D motion of a user from the radio signals reflected off her body. It works even if the person is occluded from the WiTrack device or in a different room. WiTrack does not require the user to carry any wireless device, yet its accuracy exceeds current RF localization systems, which require the user to hold a transceiver. It transmits wireless signals whose power is 100 times smaller than Wi-Fi and 1000 times smaller than cellphone transmissions.
- A Linux Christmas — Linux drives pretty much all of Amazon’s top-selling consumer electronics.
- Techno Panic Timeline — chart from Exposing the War on Fun showing the fears of technology from 1493 to the modern day.
- Best Paper Awards in CS Since 1996 (Jeff Huang) — fantastic resource for your holiday reading.
Internet Cities, Defying Google Glass, Deep Learning Book, and Open Paleoanthropology
- The Death and Life of Great Internet Cities — “The sense that you were given some space on the Internet, and allowed to do anything you wanted to in that space, it’s completely gone from these new social sites,” said Scott. “Like prisoners, or livestock, or anybody locked in institution, I am sure the residents of these new places don’t even notice the walls anymore.”
- What You’re Not Supposed To Do With Google Glass (Esquire) — Maybe I can put these interruptions to good use. I once read that in ancient Rome, when a general came home victorious, they’d throw him a triumphal parade. But there was always a slave who walked behind the general, whispering in his ear to keep him humble. “You are mortal,” the slave would say. I’ve always wanted a modern nonslave version of this — a way to remind myself to keep perspective. And Glass seemed the first gadget that would allow me to do that. In the morning, I schedule a series of messages to e-mail myself throughout the day. “You are mortal.” “You are going to die someday.” “Stop being a selfish bastard and think about others.” (via BoingBoing)
- Neural Networks and Deep Learning — Chapter 1 up and free, and there’s an IndieGogo campaign to fund the rest.
- What We Know and Don’t Know — That highly controlled approach creates the misconception that fossils come out of the ground with labels attached. Or worse, that discovery comes from cloaked geniuses instead of open discussion. We’re hoping to combat these misconceptions by pursuing an open approach. This is today’s evolutionary science, not the science of fifty years ago We’re here sharing science. [...] Science isn’t the answers, science is the process. Open science in paleoanthropology.
The Internot of Things, Explainy Learning, Medical Microcontroller Board, and Coder Sutra
- A Cyber Attack Against Israel Shut Down a Road — The hackers targeted the Tunnels’ camera system which put the roadway into an immediate lockdown mode, shutting it down for twenty minutes. The next day the attackers managed to break in for even longer during the heavy morning rush hour, shutting the entire system for eight hours. Because all that is digital melts into code, and code is an unsolved problem.
- Random Decision Forests (PDF) — “Due to the nature of the algorithm, most Random Decision Forest implementations provide an extraordinary amount of information about the final state of the classifier and how it derived from the training data.” (via Greg Borenstein)
- BITalino — 149 Euro microcontroller board full of physiological sensors: muscles, skin conductivity, light, acceleration, and heartbeat. A platform for healthcare hardware hacking?
- How to Be a Programmer — a braindump from a guru.
Kate Matsudaira, co-chair of O'Reilly's first Cultivate Conference, shares her take-aways from the event
Last week I had the pleasure of co-chairing Cultivate. The conference was one-day event focused on technology and leadership.
The original idea for the conference came from my co-chair, Eli Goodman, who wanted a place where like-minded folk could discuss some of the challenges, successes, and experiments that come along with leading technical teams. I have been super passionate about this topic since I started my career as a bad manager, and I have had to work hard to build the skills necessary to lead groups of highly intelligent and opinionated people.
When we were planning the conference, we thought about all sorts of ways we could shake things up with format – panels, structured networking sessions, or even shorter/longer talks. In the end, though, we decided it was most important to have fabulous speakers with compelling messages, so we stuck to a typical conference format (45-minute slots) and just let people do their best work. The only thing we did differently was adding a closing networking event and morning yoga session to get things started, both of which were quite positively received.
I was so worried our speakers would overlap with one another’s topics, but thankfully each person had a clearly different message, style, and, when put together, they all added up a day where you couldn’t leave without learning something new.
Amen Break, MySQL Scale, Spooky Source, and Graph Analytics Engine
- The Amen Break (YouTube) — fascinating 20m history of the amen break, a handful of bars of drum solo from a forgotten 1969 song which became the origin of a huge amount of popular music from rap to jungle and commercials, and the contested materials at the heart of sample-based music. Remix it and weep. (via Beta Knowledge)
- The MySQL Ecosystem at Scale (PDF) — nice summary of how MySQL is used on massive users, and where the sweet spots have been found.
- Lab41 (Github) — open sourced code from a spook hacklab in Silicon Valley.
- Fanulus — open sourced Hadoop-based graph analytics engine for analyzing graphs represented across a multi-machine compute cluster. A breadth-first version of the graph traversal language Gremlin operates on graphs stored in the distributed graph database Titan, in any Rexster-fronted graph database, or in HDFS via various text and binary formats.
Google's Data Centers, Top Engineers, Hiring, and Git Explained
- Google Has Spent 21 Billion on Data Centers — The company invested a record $1.6 billion in its data centers in the second quarter of 2013. Puts my impulse-purchased second external hard-drive into context, doesn’t it honey?
- 10x Engineer (Shanley) — in which the idea that it’s scientifically shown that some engineers are innately 10x others is given a rough and vigorous debunking.
- How to Hire — great advice, including “Poaching is the titty twister of Silicon Valley relationships”.
- Think Like a Git — a guide to git, for the perplexed.
No Managers, Bezos Pearls, Visualising History, and Scalable Key-Value Store
- No Managers — If we could find a way to replace the function of the managers and focus everyone on actually producing for our Students (customers) then it would actually be possible to be a #NoManager company. In my future posts I’ll explain how we’re doing this at Treehouse.
- The 20 Smartest Things Jeff Bezos Has Ever Said (Motley Fool) — I feel like the 219th smartest thing Jeff Bezos has ever said is still smarter than the smartest thing most business commentators will ever say. (He says, self-referentially) “Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood.”
- Putting Time in Perspective — nifty representations of relative timescales and history. (via BoingBoing)
- Sophia — BSD-licensed small C library implementing an embeddable key-value database “for a high-load environment”.
Standardization done right can save your sanity and improve your culture
Capital-P “Process” ™ is something many software developers, operations engineers, system administrators, and even managers love to hate.
It is often considered a productivity-killing, innovation-stifling beast whose only useful domain is within the walls of some huge, hulking enterprise or sitting in a wiki nobody ever reads.
I have always found distaste for process fascinating and now even moreso that configuration management and version control have become such core tenets of the DevOps movement. The main purpose of those tools is to provide structure for software development and operations to increase reproducibility, reliability, and standardization of those activities.
Remote Work, Raspberry Pi Code Machine, Low-Latency Data Processing, and Probabilistic Table Parsing
- Fog Creek’s Remote Work Policy — In the absence of new information, the assumption is that you’re producing. When you step outside the HQ work environment, you should flip that burden of proof. The burden is on you to show that you’re being productive. Is that because we don’t trust you? No. It’s because a few normal ways of staying involved (face time, informal chats, lunch) have been removed.
- MillWheel (PDF) — a framework for building low-latency data-processing applications that is widely used at Google. Users specify a directed computation graph and application code for individual nodes, and the system manages persistent state and the continuous ﬂow of records, all within the envelope of the framework’s fault-tolerance guarantees. From Google Research.
- Probabilistic Scraping of Plain Text Tables — the method leverages topological understanding of tables, encodes it declaratively into a mixed integer/linear program, and integrates weak probabilistic signals to classify the whole table in one go (at sub second speeds). This method can be used for any kind of classification where you have strong logical constraints but noisy data.