- What a Deep Neural Net Thinks of Your Selfie — really easy to understand explanation of covolutional neural nets (the tech behind image recognition). No CS required.
- Medium’s Stack — interesting use of Protocol Buffers: We help our people work with data by treating the schemas as the spec, rigorously documenting messages and fields and publishing generated documentation from the .proto files.
- Bacterial Materials (Wired UK) — Showing a prototype worn by dancers, Yao demonstrated how bacteria-powered clothing can respond to the body’s needs. She has, in effect, created living clothes, ones that react in real time to heat and sweat mapping with tiny vents that would curl open or flatten closed as exertion levels demanded.
- Robots to the Rescue (NSF) — one 20-minute drone flight generated upwards of 800 photographs, each of which took at least one minute to inspect. This article is five lessons learned in the field of disaster robotics, and they’re all doozies.
Sandy's Latency, Better Buttons, Inside Chargers, and Hidden Warranties
- Fastly’s S3 Latency Monitor — The 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.
- Button Upgrade (Gizmodo) — elegant piece of button design, for sale on Shapeways.
- 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)
- 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)
H.264 Patents, Pakistan Flood Crowdsourcing, YouTube to MP3, Bloom Filter Tips
- 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.
- 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.
- Dirpy — extract MP3 from YouTube. Very nice interface. (via holovaty on Delicious)
- 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)
Over the past three years Jesse Robbins has been working to bridge gaps between the tech community and traditional emergency management organizations.
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…
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…