Misjudgements Will Drive Social Trials Underground (Nature) — 34 ethicists write to explain why they see Facebook’s mood-influence trials as not an egregious breach of either ethics or law. Notable: No one knows whether exposure to a stream of baby announcements, job promotions and humble brags makes Facebook’s one billion users sadder or happier. The exposure is a social experiment in which users become guinea pigs, but the effects will not be known unless they are studied.[…] But the extreme response to this study, some of which seems to have been made without full understanding of what it entailed or what legal and ethical standards require, could result in such research being done in secret or not at all. Compare wisdom of the ethicists to wisdom of the crowd. (via Kate Crawford)
Problem-Free Activity in the Mathematics Classroom (PDF) — interesting not just for the bland crap work we make kids do, but for the summary of five types of need that stimulate learning: for certainty (“which of the two is right?”), for causality (“did X cause Y?”, “what will happen next?”), for computation (“how much will it cost?”, “how long will it take?”), for communication and persuasion (“it’s more fun when we work on this together”, “let me show you why I’m right!”), and for connection and structuring (“that can’t be right, it goes against all I know!”, “ah, that makes sense because …”). (via Kathy Sierra)
Survey of Academic Field Experiences (PLoSone) — Our survey revealed that conducting research in the field exposes scientists to a number of negative experiences as targets and as bystanders. The experiences described by our respondents ranged from inadvertent alienating behavior, to unwanted verbal and physical sexual advances, to, most troublingly, sexual assault including rape. is immediately followed by These proportions of respondents experiencing harassment are generally consistent with other studies of workplace harassment in other professional settings. This will change when men’s behaviour and expectations change. Male readers, do your part: don’t harass and don’t tolerate it. This message brought to you from future generations who will wonder how the hell we turned a blind eye to it.
sentry (github) — a realtime, platform-agnostic error logging and aggregation platform. It specializes in monitoring errors and extracting all the information needed to do a proper post-mortem without any of the hassle of the standard user feedback loop.
Exploring CS — Both courses are designed to teach the fundamental concepts and big ideas of computing along with coding, and to inspire kids about computer science’s creative potential to transform society.
Why Computer Literacy Is Key To Winning the 21st Century (Mother Jones) — [teaching CS to] middle and high schoolers at the UCLA Community School, an experimental new public K-12 school. “I saw this as a new frontier in the social-justice fight,” she says. “I tell my students, ‘I don’t necessarily want to teach you how to get rich. I want to teach you to be a good citizen.'”
Hardware By The Numbers (Renee DiResta) — slides from her keynote at the Solid conference. The mean success rate across all sectors is 19.8%. On average, only 10% of hardware startups raise a second round.
Humans Beating Computers (Wired) — Newman assembled a small team that became known as the “Air Divers”–the people who would dive deep into the individual complaints and surface with answers. Each was given a couple hundred support tickets connected to a specific issue that the data had identified as a hot-button topic. They would go off and read through each one, then come back and propose a fix. And in the end, this is what turned the situation around. Sometimes it’s easier to put people on the job than try to code the data analysis.
Hadoop’s Uncomfortable Fit in HPC — Hadoop is being taken seriously only at a subset of supercomputing facilities in the US, and at a finer granularity, only by a subset of professionals within the HPC community.
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)
OpenStack: A Plea — critical take on OpenStack, also in this presentation. Notes the proliferation of inefficiency, devops bolted onto the side, and the long feedback cycle. You code differently when you have a pager. (via Sam Ramji)
Some Lecturing Heuristics — Realize further that your mood may be determined by only a few people. A smiling nodder will make you feel good, and you will do better. People reading newspapers will make you feel bad, and you will do worse. Do not permit people to do things that make you feel bad.
Bionic Legs Let Patients Walk Again — The Ekso costs about $100,000 and was purchased with a grant from Baptist Health Foundation. Chara Rodriguez, a physical therapist and neurologic clinical specialist at University Health System, called the machine “the Maserati of the rehab world.” (via Robot Economics)
Roundup of CS in Education Systems (Economist) — Above all, the new subject will require teachers who know what they are doing. Only a few places take this seriously: Israel has about 1,000 trained computer-science teachers, and Bavaria more than 700. Mathematics and computer-science graduates generally choose more lucrative trades; the humanities and social-science graduates who will find themselves teaching coding will need plenty of support.
gobot — Go framework for hardware and robotics comms, with Arduino, Sphero, (and more) backends.
Keybase.io Writeup (Tim Bray) — Tim’s right, that removing the centralised attack point creates a usability problem. Systems that are hardest to attack are also the ones that are hardest for Normal People to use. (Can I coin this as the Torkington Conjecture, with the corollary that sufficiently stupid users are indistinguishable from intelligent attackers?)
De-Design the Web — quiz, can you recognise common websites from just their wireframes? For the non-designer (like myself) it’s a potent reminder of the power of design. Design’s front of mind as we chew on the Internet of Affordances. (via USvsTHEM)
Words I Hold Dear (Slideshare) — short but effective presentation on values in business. If you are confident that you can bear responsibility, and will not do anything immoral, illegal, or unethical, then it is not too hard to choose the path that promises the most adventure.
Android Development for iOS Devs — in case you had forgotten that developing for multiple mobile platforms is like a case of fire-breathing butt warts. (not good)
The World Through the Eyes of Hackers (PDF) — I’ve long thought that the real problem is that schools trains subordinates to meet expectations and think like a Nice Person, but defence is only possible when you know how to break expectations and think like a Bad Guy.
High Volume Web Sites — Tim Berners-Lee answers my question on provisioning a popular web server in 1993. The info.cern.ch server which has the Subject Catalogue gets probably a relatively high usage, about 10k requests a day, or (thinks…) one every 9 seconds. the CPU load is negligible. In fact of course the peak rate is higher, but still its not really a factor. That was when the server forked a subprocess for each request, too. See also one of my early contributions to the nascent field of web operations (language alert).
Tim Berners-Lee Calls For Web Magna Carta (Guardian) — Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.
BroApp — Automatically message your girlfriend sweet things so you can spend more time with the Bros. Reminds me of the Electric Monk in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. The monk notices that humans have machines to watch TV for them. Now we have machines to be shitty boyfriends for us. (via Beta Knowledge)
World Science U — quick answers, short courses, long MOOCs. I wonder how you’d know whether this was effective at increasing scientific literacy, and therefore whether it’d be worth doing for computational thought or programming.
Ford Invites Open-Source Community to Tinker Away — One example: Nelson has re-tasked the motor from a Microsoft Xbox 360 game controller to create an OpenXC shift knob that vibrates to signal gear shifts in a standard-transmission Mustang. The 3D-printed prototype shift knob uses Ford’s OpenXC research platform to link devices to the car via Bluetooth, and shares vehicle data from the on-board diagnostics port. Nelson has tested his prototype in a Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 that vibrates at the optimal time to shift.
Cost-Efficient Continuous Integration at Mozilla — CI on a big project can imply hundreds if not thousands of VMs on Amazon spinning up to handle compiles and tests. This blog post talks about Mozilla’s efforts to reduce its CI-induced spend without reducing the effectiveness of its CI practices.
The Internet of Things That Do What You Tell Them: Cory Doctorow passionately explains how computers are already entwined in our lives, which means laws that support lock-in are much more than inconveniences.