"disaster tech" entries

Four short links: 19 September 2013

Four short links: 19 September 2013

Art and Money, Probabilistic Programming, Feature Flow, and Good Drones

  1. How Jim Henson Turned His Art Into a Business (Longreads) — When Henson joined on to the experimental PBS show Sesame Street in 1968, he was underpaid for his services creating Big Bird and Oscar. Yet he spent his free nights in his basement, shooting stop-motion films that taught kids to count. If you watch these counting films, the spirit of Henson’s gift shines through. I think any struggling artist today could count Henson among their ilk. He had all the makings of a tragic starving artist. The only difference between him and us is that he made peace with money.
  2. Probabilistic Programming and the Democratization of AI (YouTube) — talk by Brian Ruttenberg, examples in Figaro, a Scala library which is apparently open source despite hiding behind a “give us your contact details” form.
  3. Linux Panel — love the crossflow of features: “Embedded today is what enterprise was five years ago,” Kroah-Hartman said. “You have a quad-core in your pocket. The fun thing about Linux is all the changes you make have to work on all the things.” The advances in power management driven by mobile devices initially weren’t that interesting to enterprise developers, according to Kroah-Hartman. That quickly changed once they realized it was helping them save millions of dollars in data center power costs.
  4. A Drone’s View of the Colorado Floods (DIY Drones) — some amazing footage.
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Four short links: 22 February 2013

Four short links: 22 February 2013

Indiepocalypse Continued, Unblockable p2p Twitter, Disposable Satellites, and iOS to HTML5

  1. Indiepocalypse: Harlem Shake Edition (Andy Baio) — “After four weeks topping the Billboard Hot 100, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Thrift Shop” was replaced this week by Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” the song that inspired the Internet meme.”
  2. SplinterNet — an Android app designed to create an unblockable Twitter like network that uses no cellular or Internet communications. All messages are transmitted over Bluetooth between users, creating a true peer-to-peer messaging system. All messages are anonymous to prevent retaliation by government authorities. (via Ushahidi)
  3. Disposable Satellites (Forbes) — “tiny, near-disposable satellites for use in getting battlefield surveillance quickly […] launched from a jet into orbit, and within a few minutes […] provide soldiers on the ground with a zoomed-in, birds-eye view of the battlefield. Those image would be transmitted to current communications devices, and the company is working to develop a way to transmit them to smartphones, as well.”
  4. Native iOS to HTML5 Porting Tool (Intel) — essentially a source-to-source translator that can handle a number of conversions from Objective-C into JavaScript/HTML5 including the translation of APIs calls. A number of open source projects are used as foundation for the conversion including a modified version of Clang front-end, LayerD framework and jQuery Mobile for widgets rendering in the translated source code. A porting aid, not a complete translator but a lot of the dog work is done. Requires one convert to Microsoft tools, however. (via Kevin Marks)
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Four short links: 31 May 2011

Four short links: 31 May 2011

Disease-B-Gone, Quake Game, Text Adventures, and Unicoddling

  1. Rinderpest Eradicated — only the second disease that mankind has managed to eradicate. This one was a measles-like virus that killed cattle and caused famines. A reminder of how astonishingly difficult it is to eradicate disease, but what a massive victory it is when it happens. (via Courtney Johnston)
  2. Magnetic South — the 6.3 earthquake that trashed Christchurch, New Zealand, has presented the city with a tabula rasa (or, rather, tabula rubble) for the rebuild: what should they build, how, and where? The good citizens are working on this question in many ways, one of which is this online game based on Institute for the Future’s Foresight Engine.
  3. TOPS-20 in a Box — write FORTRAN code on an emulated PHP-10 running TOPS-20 and, most delightfully, play the original Adventure as written by Crowther and finished by Woods. It’s like emulating the Big Bang for text adventures. When you’re done, admire the scholarship in this analysis of the original to see how much Woods added. (Text adventures are the game version of command-line interfaces, and we still have much to learn from them)
  4. Why Does Modern Perl Avoid UTF-8 By Default? (StackOverflow) — check out the very long and detailed answer by my coauthor, Tom Christiansen, on exactly how many thorns and traps lie in wait for the unwary “it should just WORK”er. Skip down to the “Assume Brokenness” section for the full horror. Tom’s been working with linguists and revising the Unicode chapters of the Camel, so asking “why can’t it just work” is like asking a war veteran “why don’t you just shoot all the bad guys?”.
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Hearing those digital cries for help

Hearing those digital cries for help

The Emergency Social Data Summit will look at online platforms as tools for collective action and crisis response.

The Red Cross will convene an Emergency Social Data Summit in Washington, D.C. to explore the power of online platforms for civic empowerment and improved response to crises.

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Crisis Commons releases open source oil spill reporting

Crisis Commons releases open source oil spill reporting

The new iPhone and Android apps will allow organizations responding to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to report on the go. "The cool thing about the app is that the photos and information will be open to anyone to use," said Heather Blanchard, co-founder of Crisis Commons.

Comments: 6
Four short links: 23 February 2010 Four short links: 23 February 2010

Four short links: 23 February 2010

Disaster SMS, Open Source Win, Confidence, Pirate Experience

  1. SMS in Disaster Response — Haitians SMS urgent needs to 4636, where they’re translated through crowdsourcing and acted on. All based on the Uhsahidi SMS engine.
  2. Inside Open Source’s Historic Victory — open source developer wins against someone who took his work, added it to an open patent application, and then sued the open source developer for violating his patent.
  3. What’s Wrong with Confidence (Pete Warden) — the lean startup approach and the scientific method. Good read, with two magnificent quotes: “Strong opinions, weakly held, and Confidence is vital for getting things done, but it has to be a spur to test your theories, not a lazy substitute for gathering evidence.
  4. If You’re a Pirate — the user experience of legitimate DVDs is shite. That’s not the only reason that people pirate, but it sure ain’t helping.
Comment: 1
Four short links: 22 February 2010 Four short links: 22 February 2010

Four short links: 22 February 2010

Schuyler in Haiti, Data Principles, Damn Internet Get Off My Lawn, and Leadership Lessons

  1. Schuyler Erle’s blog — Schuyler, a leading geohacker, is in Haiti as part of a World Bank effort to rebuild geospatial infrastructure. His blog posts and twitpics are excellent.
  2. Panton Principles — basic groundrules for useful open data in science. Raises the flag of licensing: arbitrary license clauses or hastily-repurposed software licenses lead to a quagmire of incompatible licenses and prevent useful combinations of data, just as license proliferation in open source created a confusing and difficult environment for people trying to combine multiple open source projects’ code.
  3. The Internet? Bah! (Cliff Stohl) — piece from 1995, which I remember reading when it was first published. It stands as a great reminder that scale and change happen: in 1995 there were barely 16 million Internet users and statements like this seemed self-evident: Then there’s cyberbusiness. We’re promised instant catalog shopping–just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet–which there isn’t–the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople. (via Hacker News)
  4. Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy (YouTube) — 3m long and it’s a brilliant insight into creating a movement. Must watch. (via robertobrien on Twitter)
Comment: 1
Four short links: 15 February 2010

Four short links: 15 February 2010

Android and Earthquakes, Microsoft Income, SVG Editing, Crawling GitHub for Fun and Profit

  1. Tale of Android Phone in Earthquake in Haiti — guy in Haiti with working unlocked Android phone and Internet connection used it to channel Facebook “save me” requests to rescuers. (via Andy Linton)
  2. Microsoft Operating Income by Division — the title says “income”, the graph says “profit”, but either way the online division of Microsoft isn’t healthy. (Love the small Vista tick and large Windows 7 tick).
  3. SVG Editor in the Browser (via kevinmarks on Twitter)
  4. Algorithmic Recruitment with Github — crawling GitHub, building in-memory graph of developers, selecting for connectedness and influence.
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CrisisCamps and the Pattern of Disaster Technology Innovation

CrisisCamps and the Pattern of Disaster Technology Innovation

Over the past three years Jesse Robbins has been working to bridge gaps between the tech community and traditional emergency management organizations.

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Four short links: 15 July 2009

Four short links: 15 July 2009

A collection inspired by Science Foo Camp attendees

  1. Endogenous steroids and financial risk taking on a London trading floor (PNAS) — We found that a trader’s morning testosterone level predicts his day’s profitability. We also found that a trader’s cortisol rises with both the variance of his trading results and the volatility of the market. Our results suggest that higher testosterone may contribute to economic return, whereas cortisol is increased by risk. Our results point to a further possibility: testosterone and cortisol are known to have cognitive and behavioral effects, so if the acutely elevated steroids we observed were to persist or increase as volatility rises, they may shift risk preferences and even affect a trader’s ability to engage in rational choice.
  2. The Origin of Universal Scaling Laws in Biology — eye-opening paper that blew my mind. Highlight of Sci Foo was meeting the author and shaking his hand. Relates metabolic rate, size, heart rate, and lifespan by applying physics to biology.
  3. Ushahidi — open source software for managing disasters. The Ushahidi Engine is a platform that allows anyone to gather distributed data via SMS, email or web and visualize it on a map or timeline. Our goal is to create the simplest way of aggregating information from the public for use in crisis response.
  4. Dissecting the Canon: Visual Subject Co-Popularity Networks in Art ResearchIn this paper we analyze a classic da-
    taset of art research, which collects ancient art and architecture and their Western
    Renaissance documentation since 1947. [T]here is clearly a long tail of monument
    popularity.
Comment: 1