- Homemade Weasley Clock (imgur) — construction photos of a clever Potter-inspired clock that shows where people are. (via Archie McPhee)
- Secret Lives of Tumblr Teens — teens perform joy on Instagram but confess sadness on Tumblr.
- Amazing Biomimetic Anthropomorphic Hand (Spectrum IEEE) — First, they laser scanned a human skeleton hand, and then 3D-printed artificial bones to match, which allowed them to duplicate the unfixed joint axes that we have […] The final parts to UW’s hand are the muscles, which are made up of an array of 10 Dynamixel servos, whose cable routing closely mimics the carpal tunnel of a human hand. Amazing detail!
- Life Insurance Can Gattaca You (FastCo) — “Unfortunately after carefully reviewing your application, we regret that we are unable to provide you with coverage because of your positive BRCA 1 gene,” the letter reads. In the U.S., about one in 400 women have a BRCA 1 or 2 gene, which is associated with increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Four short links: 16 February 2016
Full-on Maker, Robot Recap, Decoding Mandarin, and Sequencing Birds
- Washers and Screws (YouTube) — this chap is making his own clock from scratch, and here he is making his own washers and screws. Sometimes another person’s obsession can be calming. (via Greg Sadetsky)
- ROScon 2015 Recap with Videos (Robohub) — Shuttleworth suggests that robotics developers really need two things at this point: a robust Internet of Things infrastructure, followed by the addition of dynamic mobility that robots represent. However, software is a much more realistic business proposition for a robotics startup, especially if you leverage open source to create a developer community around your product and let others innovate through what you’ve built.
- Getting Deep Speech to Work in Mandarin (Baidu SVAIL) — TIL that some of the preprocessing traditionally used in speech-to-text systems throws away pitch information necessary to decode tonal languages like Mandarin. Deep Speech doesn’t use specialized features like MFCCs. We train directly from the spectrogram of the input audio signal. The spectrogram is a fairly general representation of an audio signal. The neural network is able to learn directly which information is relevant from the input, so we didn’t need to change anything about the features to move from English speech recognition to Mandarin speech recognition. Their model works better than humans at decoding short text such as queries.
- Sequencing Genomes of All Known Kakapo — TIL there’s a project to sequence genomes of 10,000 bird species and that there’s this crowdfunded science project to sequence the kakapo genome. There are only 125 left, and conservationists expect to use the sequenced genomes to ensure rare genes are preserved. Every genome in this species could be sequenced … I’m boggling. (via Duke)
Four short links: 30 January 2015
FAA Rules, Sports UAVs, Woodcut Data, and Concurrent Programming
- FAA to Regulate UAVs? (Forbes) — and the Executive Order will segment the privacy issues related to drones into two categories — public and private. For public drones (that is, drones purchased with federal dollars), the President’s order will establish a series of privacy and transparency guidelines. See also How ESPN is Shooting the X Games with Drones (Popular Mechanics)—it’s all fun and games until someone puts out their eye with a quadrocopter. The tough part will be keeping within the tight restrictions the FAA gave them. Because drones can’t be flown above a crowd, Calcinari says, “We basically had to build a 500-foot radius around them, where the public can’t go.” The drones will fly over sections of the course that are away from the crowds, where only ESPN production employees will be. That rule is part of why we haven’t seen drones at college football games.
- Milestones for SaaS Companies — “Getting from $0-1m is impossible. Getting from $1-10m is unlikely. And getting from $10-100m is inevitable.” —Jason Lemkin, ex-CEO of Echosign. The article proposes some significant milestones, and they ring true. Making money is generally hard. The nature of the hard changes with the amount of money you have and the amount you’re trying to make, but if it were easy, then we’d structure our society on something else.
- Woodcut Data Visualisation — Recently, I learned how to operate a laser cutter. It’s been a whole lot of fun, and I wanted to share my experiences creating woodcut data visualizations using just D3. I love it when data visualisations break out of the glass rectangle.
- Why is Concurrent Programming Hard? — on the one hand there is not a single concurrency abstraction that fits all problems, and on the other hand the various different abstractions are rarely designed to be used in combination with each other. We are due for a revolution in programming, something to help us make sense of the modern systems made of more moving parts than our feeble grey matter can model and intuit about.
Four short links: 15 October 2014
Recognising Uncertainty, Responsive Screenshots, Rapid Prototyping, and SD Drones
- Guidance Note on Uncertainty (PDF) –expert advice to IPCC scientists on identifying, quantifying, and communicating uncertainty. Everyone deals with uncertainty, but none are quite so ruthless in their pursuit of honesty about it as scientists. (via Peter Gluckman)
- pageres — Responsive website screenshots. (via infovore)
- SparkFun Rapid Prototyping Lab — with links to some other expert advice on creative spaces. Some very obvious software parallels, too. E.g., this from Adam Savage’s advice: The right tool for the job – Despite his oft-cited declaration that ‘every tool is a hammer,’ Adam can usually be relied on to geek-out about purpose-built tools. If you’re having trouble learning a new skill, check that you’re using the right tools. The right tool is the one that does the hard work for you. There’s no point in dropping big bucks on tools you’re almost certainly not going to use, but don’t be afraid to buy the cheap version of the snap-setter, or leather punch, or tamper bit before trying to jerry-rig something that will end up making your life harder.
- Dudes with Drones (The Atlantic) — ghastly title (“Bros with Bots”, “Bangers with Clangers”, and “Fratboys with Phat Toys” were presumably already taken), interesting article. San Diego is the Palo Alto of drones. Interesting to compare software startups with the hardware crews’ stance on the FAA. “We want them to regulate us,” Maloney says. “We want nothing more than a framework to allow us to continue to operate safely and legally.”
Four short links: 7 October 2014
Chinese Makers, Code Projects, Distributed Data Structures, and Networked Games
- On the Maker Movement in China (Clay Shirky) — Hardware hacking hasn’t become a hot new thing in China because it never stopped being a regular old thing.
- A History of Apache Storm and Lessons Learned (Nathan Marz) — his lessons on building, promoting, releasing, maintaining, governance … all worth reading.
- Tango: Distributed Data Structures Over a Shared Log — provides developers with the abstraction of a replicated, in-memory data structure (such as a map or a tree) backed by a shared log. (via paper summary)
- Making Fast-Paced Multiplayer Networked Games is Hard (Gamasutra) — This may all sound like smoke and mirrors because that is exactly what it is – we are just maintaining the illusion the game is playing out in wall clock time even though updates are arriving from the past.
Four short links: 15 July 2014
Data Brokers, Car Data, Pattern Classification, and Hogwild Deep Learning
- Inside Data Brokers — very readable explanation of the data brokers and how their information is used to track advertising effectiveness.
- Elon, I Want My Data! — Telsa don’t give you access to the data that your cars collects. Bodes poorly for the Internet of Sealed Boxes. (via BoingBoing)
- Pattern Classification (Github) — collection of tutorials and examples for solving and understanding machine learning and pattern classification tasks.
- HOGWILD! (PDF) — the algorithm that Microsoft credit with the success of their Adam deep learning system.
Four short links: 20 May 2014
Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Sewing Machines & 3D Printers, and Smart Spoons
- Basics of Machine Learning Course Notes — slides and audio from university course. Watch along on YouTube.
- A Primer on Deep Learning — a very quick catch-up on WTF this is all about.
- 3D Printers Have a Lot to Learn from Sewing Machines — Sewing does not create more waste but, potentially, less, and the process of sewing is filled with opportunities for increasing one’s skills and doing it over as well as doing it yourself. What are quilts, after all, but a clever way to use every last scrap of precious fabric? (via Jenn Webb)
- Liftware — Parkinson’s-correcting spoons.
Four short links: 30 April 2014
Critical Making, Torrent Filesystem, Testing Infrastructure, and Reproducible Research
- Critical Making — essays from 70 contributors looking at the politics, choices, and ethics of a lot of the makery going on.
- Continuous Integration for Infrastructure — slides on the emerging tools for large-scale automated testing integrated into development and deployment workflow.
- Implementing Reproducible Research — book by Victoria Stodden and Johanna Cohoon on tools, practices, and platforms for making science that others can verify (another step in improving velocity and quality of scientific research).
Four short links: 16 April 2014
Time Series, CT Scanner, Reading List, and Origami Microscope
- morris.js — pretty time-series line graphs.
- Open Source CT Scanner — all the awesome.
- Alan Kay’s Reading List — in case you’re wondering what to add to the pile beside your bed. (via Alex Dong)
- Foldscope — origami optical microscope, 2000x magnification for under $1.
IoT meets agriculture, Intellistreets, immersive opera, and high-tech pencils
A backchannel look at what's on our radar.
The Radar team does a lot of sharing in the backchannel. Here’s a look at a selection of stories and innovation highlights from around the web that have caught our recent attention. Have an interesting tidbit to contribute to the conversation? Join the discussion in the comments section, send me an email or ping me on Twitter.
- Pencil — FiftyThree’s new Pencil tool is a super cool gadget that exhibits interesting technology from a software meets hardware perspective. (Via Mike Loukides)
- littleBits Synth Kit — littleBits and Korg have teamed up to bring DIY to music with a modular synthesizer kit. From John Paul Titlow on Fast Company: “Hobbyists have been doing this for many years, either through prepackaged kits or off-the-shelf components. The difference here is that no soldering or wiring is required. Each circuit piece’s magnetized and color-coded end makes them effortlessly easy to snap together and pull apart … Notably, the components of the kit are compatible with other littleBits modules, so it’s possible to build a synthesizer that integrates with other types of sensors, lights, and whatever else littleBits cooks up down the line.” (Via Jim Stogdill)