- Driverless Trucking Numbers (TechCrunch) — $4.5k to truck something across country, 75% of which is labour. Trucks most fuel-efficient at 45mph but drivers are paid by the hour and their hours capped at 11/day. More truck drivers killed on the job than any other occupation. Truck drivers are 1% of the workforce, and it’s the most common job in 29 states. And more “gosh this is gonna be interesting” numbers.
- Email Isn’t the Problem — Glyph nails it. The thing you are bad at is saying ‘no’ to people. The downside of lauding 20 year olds in tech is that they build software for other 20 year olds: software that creates noise, distraction, opportunity. When you are doing what you want to do, though, that same software inhibits your ability to do it. All we have is poorly-evolved meat to fight the wily silicon ….
- Terrible Truths of Pricing — The first rule of pricing is that you don’t talk about pricing. What he says might be true, but the absence of any question of morality around pricing drugs (which he tackles outright) makes me grumble “price of everything and value of nothing”.
- The Rise and Nature of Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, 1995-2015 (PDF) — Workers who provide services through online intermediaries, such as Uber or Task Rabbit, accounted for 0.5 percent of all workers in 2015. About twice as many workers selling goods or services directly to customers reported finding customers through offline intermediaries than through online intermediaries.
Everyone wants an alternative to email, but do we really need one?
Editor’s note: this post originally appeared on Medium; it is republished here with permission.
Conventional workplace wisdom declares email a daily scourge. We receive too much of it. We spend too much time replying to it. We concoct elaborate strategies to cope with it and avoid incurring a debt that downward-spirals to email bankruptcy.
We bow down at the altar of Inbox Zero, the methodology that dictates we take prompt, concrete action to dispatch with every single message we receive. Reply to it. Or file it. Or delete it. We turn the drudgery of processing the flood of correspondence into a game. Inbox Zero, FTW! Achievement unlocked … till the next time we hit refresh. Because emails are like gray hairs: for every one we send packing, five more will soon arrive in its place. Any client-side strategy we take to conquer our inboxes is thus limited by the fact that it’s palliative, not ameliorative. Perpetuating Inbox Zero means living in a constant state of vigilance, aggressively and swiftly responding to every incoming message. It means becoming an email answering machine!
Quantum Programming, Quantum Again, Copyright Vanishes Media, and Email Metadata Analysis
- QCL: A Language for Quantum Computing — QCL is a high level, architecture independent programming language for quantum computers, with a syntax derived from classical procedural languages like C or Pascal. This allows for the complete implementation and simulation of quantum algorithms (including classical components) in one consistent formalism.. (Will not run on D-Wave, which is annealing rather a general purpose quantum computer)
- Quipper — a functional quantum programming language.
- How Copyright Makes Books Disappear — Amazon and YouTube data showing exponential growth in available content until copyright term is entered, at which point there’s a massive drop-off in availability. Graph is stunning. (via BoingBoing)
- Immersion — a people-centric view of your email life using only your metadata. Horrifyingly revealing.
Internet Filter Creep, Innovating in E-Mail/Gmail, Connected Devices Business Strategy, and Ecology Recapitulates Photography
- Australian Filter Scope Creep — The Federal Government has confirmed its financial regulator has started requiring Australian Internet service providers to block websites suspected of providing fraudulent financial opportunities, in a move which appears to also open the door for other government agencies to unilaterally block sites they deem questionable in their own portfolios.
- Embedding Actions in Gmail — after years of benign neglect, it’s good to see Gmail worked on again. We’ve said for years that email’s a fertile ground for doing stuff better, and Google seem to have the religion. (see Send Money with Gmail for more).
- What Keeps Me Up at Night (Matt Webb) — Matt’s building a business around connected devices. Here he explains why the category could be owned by any of the big players. In times like this I remember Howard Aiken’s advice: Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If it is original you will have to ram it down their throats.
- Image Texture Predicts Avian Density and Species Richness (PLOSone) — Surprisingly and interestingly, remotely sensed vegetation structure measures (i.e., image texture) were often better predictors of avian density and species richness than field-measured vegetation structure, and thus show promise as a valuable tool for mapping habitat quality and characterizing biodiversity across broad areas.
Binary Instrumentation, Drone-Laser Warfare, Rocking the Rewrite, and Quantified Inbox
- Pin: A Dynamic Binary Instrumentation Tool — a dynamic binary instrumentation framework for the IA-32 and x86-64 instruction-set architectures that enables the creation of dynamic program analysis tools. Some tools built with Pin are Intel Parallel Inspector, Intel Parallel Amplifier and Intel Parallel Advisor. The tools created using Pin, called Pintools, can be used to perform program analysis on user space applications in Linux and Windows. As a dynamic binary instrumentation tool, instrumentation is performed at run time on the compiled binary files. Thus, it requires no recompiling of source code and can support instrumenting programs that dynamically generate code.
- Lasers Bringing Down Drones (Wired) — I’ve sat on this for a while, but it is still hypnotic. Autonomous attack, autonomous defence. Pessimist: we’ll be slaves of the better machine learning algorithm. Optimist: we can make love while the AIs make war.
- Advice on Rewriting It From Scratch — every word is true. Over my career, I’ve come to place a really strong value on figuring out how to break big changes into small, safe, value-generating pieces. It’s a sort of meta-design — designing the process of gradual, safe change.
- Creating Gmail Inbox Statistics Reports — shows how to setup gmail to send you an email at the beginning of each month showing statistics for the previous month, such as the number of emails you received, the top 5 to whom you sent email, the top 5 from whom you received email, charts on your daily usage.
Email Triage, Pulse Detection, Big Building Data, and Raspberryduino Ardpi
- 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.
Social Science, YAKVS, Open Source Mail, and Tesla Coil and Quadrocopter Fun
- The Effect of Group Attachment and Social Position on Prosocial Behavior (PLoSone) — notable, in my mind, for We conducted lab-in-the-field experiments involving 2,597 members of producer organizations in rural Uganda. cf the recently reported “rich are more selfish than poor” findings, which (like a lot of behavioural economics research) studies Berkeley undergrads who weren’t smart enough to figure out what was being studied.
- elephant — a HTTP key/value store with full-text search and fast queries. Still a work in progress.
- geary (IndieGoGo) — a beautiful modern open-source email client. Found this roughly the same time as elasticinbox open source, reliable, distributed, scalable email store. Open source email action starting?
- The Faraday Copter (YouTube) — Tesla coil and quadrocopter madness. (via Jeff Jonas)
The silver lining in the role of cloud-based email in the CIA Director's resignation is a renewed focus on digital privacy.
This week, there’s an important issue before Washington that affects everyone who sends email, stores files in Dropbox or sends private messages on social media. In January, O’Reilly Media went dark in opposition to anti-piracy bills. Personally, I believe our right to digital due process for government to access private electronic are just as important.
Why? Here’s the context for my interest. The silver lining in the way former CIA Director David Petraeus’ affair was discovered may be its effect on the national debate around email and electronic privacy, and our rights in a surveillance state. The courts and Congress have failed to fully address the constitutionality of warrantless wiretapping of cellphones and the location of “persons of interest.” Phones themselves, however, are a red herring. What’s at stake is the Fourth Amendment in the 21st century, with respect to the personal user data that telecommunications and technology firms hold that government is requesting without digital due process.
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will consider an update to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), the landmark 1986 legislation that governs the protections citizens have when they communicate using the Internet or cellphones. (It’s the small item on the bottom of this meeting page.)
UPDATE: Senator Leahy’s manager’s amendment to ECPA passed but Politico’s Tony Romm reports that the full Congress is unlikely to pass ECPA reform in this session.