"disastertech" entries

Four short links: 30 October 2012

Four short links: 30 October 2012

Sandy's Latency, Better Buttons, Inside Chargers, and Hidden Warranties

  1. Fastly’s S3 Latency MonitorThe graph represents real-time response latency for Amazon S3 as seen by Fastly’s Ashburn, VA edge server. I’ve been watching #sandy’s effect on the Internet in real-time, while listening to its effect on people in real-time. Amazing.
  2. Button Upgrade (Gizmodo) — elegant piece of button design, for sale on Shapeways.
  3. Inside a Dozen USB Chargers — amazing differences in such seemingly identical products. I love the comparison between genuine and counterfeit Apple chargers. (via Hacker News)
  4. Why Products Fail (Wired) — researcher scours the stock market filings of publicly-listed companies to extract information about warranties. Before, even information like the size of the market—how much gets paid out each year in warranty claims—was a mystery. Nobody, not analysts, not the government, not the companies themselves, knew what it was. Now Arnum can tell you. In 2011, for example, basic warranties cost US manufacturers $24.7 billion. Because of the slow economy, this is actually down, Arnum says; in 2007 it was around $28 billion. Extended warranties—warranties that customers purchase from a manufacturer or a retailer like Best Buy—account for an estimated $30.2 billion in additional claims payments. Before Arnum, this $60 billion-a-year industry was virtually invisible. Another hidden economy revealed. (via BoingBoing)
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Four short links: 16 July 2012

Four short links: 16 July 2012

Open Access, Emergency Social Media, A/B Testing Traps, and Post-Moore Sequencing Costs

  1. Britain To Provide Free Access to Scientific Publications (Guardian) — the Finch report is being implemented! British universities now pay around £200m a year in subscription fees to journal publishers, but under the new scheme, authors will pay “article processing charges” (APCs) to have their papers peer reviewed, edited and made freely available online. The typical APC is around £2,000 per article.
  2. Social Media in an Emergency: A Best Practice Guide — from the Wellington City Council in New Zealand, who have been learning from Christchurch earthquakes and Tauranga’s oil spill.
  3. Trustworthy Online Controlled Experiments: Five Puzzling Outcomes Explained (PDF) — Microsoft Research dug into A/B tests done on Bing and reveal some subtle truths. The statistical theory of controlled experiments is well understood, but the devil is in the details and the difference between theory and practice is greater in practice than in theory […] Generating numbers is easy; generating numbers you should trust is hard! (via Greg Linden)
  4. Data Sequencing Costs (National Human Genome Research Institute) — Cost-per-megabase and cost-per-genome are dropping faster than Moore’s Law now they’ve introduced “second generation techniques” for sequencing, aka “high-throughput sequencing” or a parallelization of the process. (via JP Rangaswami)
Comment: 1
Social data and geospatial mapping join the crisis response toolset

Social data and geospatial mapping join the crisis response toolset

A new web app applies trend analysis to structured social media.

A new web app put to the test during Australia's recent flooding shows how crowdsourced social intelligence can be integrated into crisis response

Comments: 4
Four short links: 30 August 2010

Four short links: 30 August 2010

H.264 Patents, Pakistan Flood Crowdsourcing, YouTube to MP3, Bloom Filter Tips

  1. Free as in Smokescreen (Mike Shaver) — H.264, one of the ways video can be delivered in HTML5, is covered by patents. This prevents Mozilla from shipping an H.264 player, which fragments web video. The MPEG LA group who manage the patents for H.264 did a great piece of PR bullshit, saying “this will be permanently royalty-free to consumers”. This, in turn, triggered a wave of gleeful “yay, now we can use H.264!” around the web. Mike Shaver from Mozilla points out that the problem was never that users might be charged, but rather that the software producer would be charged. The situation today is just as it was last week: open source can’t touch H.264 without inviting a patent lawsuit.
  2. Crowdsourcing for Pakistan Flood Relief — Crowdflower are geocoding and translating news reports from the ground, building a map of real-time data so aid workers know where help is needed.
  3. Dirpy — extract MP3 from YouTube. Very nice interface. (via holovaty on Delicious)
  4. Three Rules of Thumb for Bloom Filters — Bloom filters are used in caches and other situations where you need fast lookup and can withstand the occasional false positive. 1: One byte per item in the input set gives about a 2% false positive rate. For more on Bloom Filters, see Maciej Ceglowski’s introduction. (via Hacker News)
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Four short links: 26 January 2010 Four short links: 26 January 2010

Four short links: 26 January 2010

Kids Online, Balanced IP Law, Open Haiti Street Maps, and Stages of Social Online Experience

  1. If Kids Are Awake, They’re Probably Online (NYTimes) — kids aged 8-18 spend, on average, 10 hours/day using smart phone, computer, television, or some other electronic device. (via Hamish MacEwan)
  2. Brazil’s WIPO Proposal on Patent Limitations and Exceptions — well-argued proposal for balanced IP law.

    16.Our experience also illustrates how difficult it is to effectively make use of compulsory licenses. Our pharmaceutical industry took almost two years to develop and produce the licensed patent, because, unfortunately the patent, as granted in Brazil and in other countries, was not sufficiently revealed to allow its production as promptly as desired.

    17.We reserve the right to come back to the discussion of this problem in other documents concerning to what extent the disclosure of patents is preserving (or not) the essentials of the patent system. The question we now pose ourselves is: considering the checks and balances of the patent system, what is the value of a patent if a third party cannot use it when it falls into the public domain or, exceptionally, when its compulsory licensing is deemed necessary?

  3. OpenStreetMaps the Default in Haiti — rescue workers are loading OSM street maps onto GPS units to get street-level detail maps of Haiti. The team members are thrilled to have this resource you have created. I wish you could see their faces ‘light up’ when I take their GPS unit and tell them that I’m going to give them street level detail maps. (via Simon Willison)
  4. We-to-Me Participation (Nina Simon) — useful mental framework for thinking about social software and online experiences, both from the point of view of a cultural institution and for any online activity. Stage one provides people with access to the content that they seek. Stage two provides an opportunity for inquiry and for visitors to take action and ask questions. Stage three lets people see where their interests and actions fit in the wider community of visitors to the institution. Stage four helps visitors connect with particular people—staff members and other visitors—who share their content and activity interests. Stage five makes the entire institution feel like a social place, full of potentially interesting, challenging, enriching encounters with other people.
Comments: 3
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.

Comments: 4
CrisisCamp is June 12-14th in Washington, DC

CrisisCamp is June 12-14th in Washington, DC

CrisisCamp is an unconference to bring together domain experts, hackers, makers, developers, and first responders to improve technology and practice for humanitarian crisis management and disaster relief. This is the first event in what I hope will become a movement, and it's happening on June 12 – 14, 2009 in Washington, DC. Across the world, everyday people can find…

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DisasterTech: "Decisions for Heroes"

DisasterTech: "Decisions for Heroes"

One of the most interesting DisasterTech projects I’ve been following is “Decisions for Heroes” led by developer and Irish Coast Guard volunteer Robin Blandford. Decisions is like Basecamp for volunteer Search & Rescue teams. The focus is on providing “just enough” process to compliment the real-world workflow of a rescue team, without unnecessary complexity. One of Robin’s design goals is…

Comments: 2

Disaster Technology for Myanmar/Burma aid workers

There is an ongoing crisis in Myanmar (Burma) in the aftermath of cyclone Nargis. The ruling military junta is finally allowing humanitarian organizations into the region after denying access for almost a week. The situation is grim, and you can help by donating to organizations like: Doctors without Borders, Direct Relief, and UNICEF. There has been some incredible discussion on…

Comments: 8

Today's ETech Hack is Tomorrow's Critical Infrastructure…

My friend Jordan Schwartz just gave me the perfect example of how quickly a cool hack can turn into Critical Infrastructure.  Jordan wrote "How to build an SMS Service" and created SwaggleSMS as a demonstration of how to do group chat with SMS.  It's a hack that he created as an experiment (it's super-useful for conference afterparty coordination). Jordan…

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