- Triage — iPhone app to quickly triage your email in your downtime. See also the backstory. Awesome UI.
- Webcam Pulse Detector — I was wondering how long it would take someone to do the Eulerian video magnification in real code. Now I’m wondering how long it will take the patent-inspired takedown…
- How Microsoft Quietly Built the City of the Future — The team now collects 500 million data transactions every 24 hours, and the smart buildings software presents engineers with prioritized lists of misbehaving equipment. Algorithms can balance out the cost of a fix in terms of money and energy being wasted with other factors such as how much impact fixing it will have on employees who work in that building. Because of that kind of analysis, a lower-cost problem in a research lab with critical operations may rank higher priority-wise than a higher-cost fix that directly affects few. Almost half of the issues the system identifies can be corrected in under a minute, Smith says.
- UDOO (Kickstarter) — mini PC that could run either Android or Linux, with an Arduino-compatible board embedded. Like faster Raspberry Pi but with Arduino Due-compatible I/O.
Email Triage, Pulse Detection, Big Building Data, and Raspberryduino Ardpi
Responding to Chinese Hacks, Quantified Self Gadget, Maker's Amazing Life, and Syrian Rebel DIY Hackery
- Administration Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of US Trade Secrets (Whitehouse, PDF) — the Chinese attacks on Facebook, NYT, and other large organisations are provoking policy responses. WSJ covers it nicely. What is this starting? (via Alex Howard)
- BodyMedia FitLink — can use this to gather caloric expenditure and sleep restfulness. (via Jonathan Brewer)
- Bend Not Break — she had an amazing life but this caught my eye in the Make review: In China, she told me, making and craftsmanship are highly revered, and under Mao, factory jobs were prized. Her experience working in Mao’s factories planted a seed in her mind that sprouted when she sought to create her own company. Rather than launch another internet-based business as was the rage at the time, she wanted to connect software to the physical world. (via Makezine)
- DIY Weapons of the Syrian Rebels (The Atlantic) — if WWII France had had X-Box controllers, they’d have been releasing remote controlled homebrew deathmobiles too.
Underground Economy, Continuous Integration, Chinese Cyber-Espionage, Prosthesis From The Future
- Using Silk Road — exploring the transactions, probability of being busted, and more. Had me at the heading Silk Road as Cyphernomicon’s black markets. Estimates of risk of participating in the underground economy.
- Travis CI — a hosted continuous integration service for the open source community. It is integrated with GitHub.
- Chinese Cyber-Espionage Unit (PDF) — exposé of one of China’s Cyber Espionage Units. (via Reddit /r/netsec)
- $250 Arduino-Powered Hand Made by a Teen — the third version of his robotic hand. The hand is primarily made with 3D printing, with the exception of motors, gears, and other hardware. The control system is activated by flexing a pre-chosen muscle, such as curling your toes, then the movement is chosen and controlled by a series of eyeblinks and an EEG headset to measure brainwaves. The most remarkable part is that the hand costs a mere $250.
Enlightened Tinkering, In-Browser Tor Proxy, Dark Patterns, and Subjective Data
- Hands on Learning (HuffPo) — Unfortunately, engaged and enlightened tinkering is disappearing from contemporary American childhood. (via BoingBoing)
- Dark Patterns (Slideshare) — User interfaces to trick people. (via Beta Knowledge)
- Bill Gates is Naive: Data Are Not Objective (Math Babe) — examples at the end of biased models/data should be on the wall of everyone analyzing data. (via Karl Fisch)
Vanishing Landlines, Factory Help, Spectral Analyzer, and the State of the World
- Wireless Substitution (BoingBoing, CDC) — very nice graph showing the decline in landlines/growth in wireless.
- Maker’s Row — Our mission is to make the manufacturing process simple to understand and easy to access. From large corporations to first time designers, we are providing unparalleled access to industry-specific factories and suppliers across the United States.
- mySight (GitHub) — myspectral.com Spectruino analyzer for light spectra in UV/VIS/NIR.
- State of the World (Bruce Sterling, John Lebkowsky) — always a delight. Come 2013, I think it’s time for people in and around the “music industry” to stop blaming themselves, and thinking their situation is somehow special. Whatever happens to musicians will eventually happen to everybody. Nobody was or is really much better at “digital transition” than musicians were and are. If you’re superb at digitalization, that’s no great solution either. You just have to auto-disrupt and re-invent yourself over and over and over again.
Kenyan Entrepreneur, Spooky Open Source, Typing Tutor, and Hacker's Bagpipes
- Kenyan Women Create Their Own Geek Culture (NPR) — Oguya started spending some Saturday mornings with Colaco and other women, snipping code and poring through hacker cookbooks. These informal gatherings became the Akirachix. Oguya graduated and turned her mobile phone idea into a company called M-Farm. At 25 years old, she now has a staff of 18. And 7,000 African farmers use her app.
- Ozone Widget Framework (Github) — open source webapp integrator. The Ozone Widget Framework is released to the public as Open Source Software, because it’s the Right Thing To Do. Also, it was required by Section 924 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Spook-made, citizen played.
- gtypist — open source universal typing tutor. You can learn correct typing and improve your skills by practising its exercises on a regular basis.
- Open Source Hardware Bagpipes — to practice your fingerings without actually killing the neighbours. (via Hacked Gadgets)
Industrial Control System Security, Geographic Pricing, Hacker Scouting, pressureNET Visualization
- Improving the Security Posture of Industrial Control Systems (NSA) — common-sense that owners of ICS should already be doing, but which (because it comes from the NSA) hopefully they’ll listen to. See also Wired article on NSA targeting domestic SCADA systems.
- Geographic Pricing Online (Wall Street) — Staples, Discover Financial Services, Rosetta Stone, and Home Depot offer discounts if you’re close to a competitor, higher prices otherwise. [U]sing geography as a pricing tool can also reinforce patterns that e-commerce had promised to erase: prices that are higher in areas with less competition, including rural or poor areas. It diminishes the Internet’s role as an equalizer.
- Hacker Scouting (NPR) — teaching kids to be safe and competent in the world of technology, just as traditional scouting teaches them to be safe and competent in the world of nature.
- pressureNET Data Visualization — open source barometric data-gathering software which runs on Android devices. Source is on GitHub.
- RebelMouse — aggregates FB, Twitter, Instagram, G+ content w/Pinboard-like aesthetics. It’s like aggregators we’ve had since 2004, but in this Brave New World we have to authenticate to a blogging service to get our own public posts out in a machine-readable form. 2012: it’s like 2000 but now we have FOUR AOLs! We’ve traded paywalls for graywalls, but the walls are still there. (via Poynter)
- Data Visualization Course Wiki — wiki for Stanford course cs448b, covering visualization with examples and critiques.
- Peristaltic Pump — for your Arduino medical projects, a pump that doesn’t touch the liquid it moves so the liquid can stay sterile.
Regular Expressions, Mobile Diversions, UX Pitfalls, and DIY Keyboarding
- RE2: A Principled Approach to Regular Expressions — a regular expression engine without backtracking, so without the potential for exponential pathological runtimes.
- Mobile is Entertainment (Luke Wroblewski) — 79% of mobile app time is spent on fun, even as desktop web use is declining.
- Five UX Research Pitfalls (Elaine Wherry) — I live this every day: Sometimes someone will propose an idea that doesn’t seem to make sense. While your initial reaction may be to be defensive or to point out the flaws in the proposed A/B study, you should consider that your buddy is responding to something outside your view and that you don’t have all of the data.
- Building a Keyboard: Part 1 (Jesse Vincent) — and Part 2 and general musings on the topic of keyboards. Jesse built his own. Yeah, he’s that badass.
MOOCs get the attention, but DIY and peer-to-peer exchange are more fertile grounds for development
Somehow, recently, a lot of people have taken an interest in the broadcast of canned educational materials, and this practice — under a term that proponents and detractors have settled on, massive open online course (MOOC) — is getting a publicity surge. I know that the series of online classes offered by Stanford proved to be extraordinarily popular, leading to the foundation of Udacity and a number of other companies. But I wish people would stop getting so excited over this transitional technology. The attention drowns out two truly significant trends in progressive education: do-it-yourself labs and peer-to-peer exchanges.
In the current opinion torrent, Clay Shirky treats MOOCs in a recent article, and Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University, writes (in a Boston Globe subscription-only article) that traditional colleges will have to deal with the MOOC challenge. Jon Bruner points out on Radar that non-elite American institutions could use a good scare (although I know a lot of people whose lives were dramatically improved by attending such colleges). The December issue of Communications of the ACM offers Professor Richard A. DeMillo from the Georgia Institute of Technology assessing the possible role of MOOCs in changing education, along with an editorial by editor-in-chief Moshe Y. Vardi culminating with, “If I had my wish, I would wave a wand and make MOOCs disappear.”
There’s a popular metaphor for this early stage of innovation: we look back to the time when film-makers made the first moving pictures with professional performers by setting up cameras before stages in theaters. This era didn’t last long before visionaries such as Georges Méliès, D. W. Griffith, Sergei Eisenstein, and Luis Buñuel uncovered what the new medium could do for itself. How soon will colleges get tired of putting lectures online and offer courses that take advantage of new media? Read more…