- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- A Drone’s View of the Colorado Floods (DIY Drones) — some amazing footage.
"disaster tech" entries
Art and Money, Probabilistic Programming, Feature Flow, and Good Drones
Disease-B-Gone, Quake Game, Text Adventures, and Unicoddling
- 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)
- 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.
- 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)
- 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?”.
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.
Disaster SMS, Open Source Win, Confidence, Pirate Experience
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Schuyler in Haiti, Data Principles, Damn Internet Get Off My Lawn, and Leadership Lessons
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy (YouTube) — 3m long and it’s a brilliant insight into creating a movement. Must watch. (via robertobrien on Twitter)
Android and Earthquakes, Microsoft Income, SVG Editing, Crawling GitHub for Fun and Profit
- 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)
- 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).
- SVG Editor in the Browser (via kevinmarks on Twitter)
- Algorithmic Recruitment with Github — crawling GitHub, building in-memory graph of developers, selecting for connectedness and influence.
Over the past three years Jesse Robbins has been working to bridge gaps between the tech community and traditional emergency management organizations.