- Cooper-Hewitt Shows How to Share 3D Scan Data Right (Makezine) — important as we move to a web of physical models, maps, and designs.
- Singapore Tests Autonomous Golfcarts (Robohub) — a reminder that the future may not necessarily look like someone used the clone tool to paint Silicon Valley over the world.
- Solar Hits Parity in 10 States, 47 by 2016 (Bloomberg) — The reason solar-power generation will increasingly dominate: it’s a technology, not a fuel. As such, efficiency increases and prices fall as time goes on. The price of Earth’s limited fossil fuels tends to go the other direction.
- Facebook’s Top Open Data Problems (Facebook Research) — even if you’re not interested in Facebook’s Very First World Problems, this is full of factoids like Facebook’s social graph store TAO, for example, provides access to tens of petabytes of data, but answers most queries by checking a single page in a single machine. (via Greg Linden)
Buildings are ready to be smart — we just need to collect and monitor the data.
Buildings, like people, can benefit from lessons built up over time. Just as Amazon.com recommends books based on purchasing patterns or doctors recommend behavior change based on what they’ve learned by tracking thousands of people, a service such as Clockworks from KGS Buildings can figure out that a boiler is about to fail based on patterns built up through decades of data.
I had the chance to be enlightened about intelligent buildings through a conversation with Nicholas Gayeski, cofounder of KGS Buildings, and Mark Pacelle, an engineer with experience in building controls who has written for O’Reilly about the Internet of Things. Read more…
Solar Numbers, Process Managers, BitTorrent Sync, and Motherfrickin' Snakes in Your Motherfrickin' Browser
- Solar Energy: This is What a Disruptive Technology Looks Like (Brian McConnell) — In 1977, solar cells cost upwards of $70 per Watt of capacity. In 2013, that cost has dropped to $0.74 per Watt, a 100:1 improvement (source: The Economist). On average, solar power improves 14% per year in terms of energy production per dollar invested.
- Process Managers — overview of the tools that keep your software running.
- Bittorrent Sync — Dropbox-like features, BitTorrent under the hood.
Small-scale smart city projects; the industrial Internet as part of big data; a platform for smart buildings
Mining the urban data (The Economist) — The “smart city” hype cycle has moved beyond ambitious top-down projects and has started to produce useful results: real-time transit data in London, smart meters in Amsterdam. The next step, if Singapore has its way, may be real-time optimization of things like transit systems.
This is your ground pilot speaking (The Economist) — Testing is underway to bring drone-style remotely-piloted aircraft into broader civilian use. One challenge: building in enough on-board intelligence to operate the plane safely if radio links go down.
How GE’s over $100 billion investment in ‘industrial internet’ will add $15 trillion to world GDP (Economic Times) — A broad look at what the industrial Internet means in the context of big data, including interviews with Tim O’Reilly, DJ Patil and Kenn Cukier. (Full disclosure: GE and O’Reilly are collaborating on an industrial Internet series.)
Defining a Digital Network for Building-to-Cloud Efficiency (GreentechEnterprise) — “Eventually, the building will become an IT platform for managing energy a bit like we manage data today. But to get there, you don’t just have to make fans, chillers, lights, backup generators, smart load control circuits and the rest of a building’s hardware smart enough to act as IT assets. A platform — software that ties these disparate devices into the multiple, overlapping technical and economic models that help humans decide how to manage their building — is also required.” Read more…
Talkative Virus Writer, QR Codes, Digital Reconstruction, and Renewable Energy
- Researcher Chats To Hacker Who Created The Virus He’s Researching — Chicken: I didn’t know you can see my screen. Hacker: I would like to see your face, but what a pity you don’t have a camera.
- Economist on QR Codes — Three-quarters of American online retailers surveyed by Forrester, a research firm, use them. In April nearly 20% of smartphone users in America scanned one, up from 14% in May last year.
- Reconstructing the Ruins of Warsaw — what an amazing accomplishment!
- The Great German Energy Experiment (Technology Review) — political will: the risk and the successes. Certainly a huge gulf between Germany and America in where they are, and political will to be more renewable.
- Blending Machines and Humans to Get Very High Accuracy (Greg Linden) — use experts to train the models, provide tools for experts to correct mistakes in the classifiers, and constantly evaluate all aspects of the system. This augmentation of human ability with computers lets us tackle problems that can’t be solved by computers alone.
- Electrical Efficiency of Computation (The Atlantic) — If a MacBook Air were as efficient as a 1991 computer, the battery would last 2.5 seconds. Cites research concluding that computations per kWh have doubled every 1.6 years since the 1940s. (via Hacker News)
- recoll — open source tool to make searchable the text buried in your computer (whether in zip files, mail attachments, whatever). (via One Thing Well)
Library Licensing, Mac Graphics, Coal Computing, and Human Augmentation
- Just Say No To Freegal — an interesting view from the inside, speaking out against a music licensing system called Freegal which is selling to libraries. Libraries typically buy one copy of something, and then lend it out to multiple users sequentially, in order to get a good return on investment. Participating in a product like Freegal means that we’re not lending anymore, we’re buying content for users to own permanently so they don’t have to pay the vendor directly themselves. This puts us in direct competition with the vendor’s sales directly to consumers, and the vendors will never make more money off of libraries than they will off of direct consumer sales. What that does is put libraries in a position of being economic victims of our own success. I would think that libraries would remember this lesson from our difficulties with the FirstSearch pay-per-use model that most of us found to be unsustainable.
- Cost of Computing in Coal (Benjamin Mako Hill) — back-of-the-envelope estimation of the carbon costs of running an overnight multicore Amazon number-crunching job. Thinking about the environmental costs of your crappy coding might change the way you code, much as punched cards encouraged you to model and test the program by hand before you ran it. How many tons of coal are burnt to support laziness or a lack of optimization in my software?
- Friction in Computer Human Symbiosis (Palantir blog) — Weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkably, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process. (via Tim O’Reilly)
Carbon capture tech would require huge scale, but could give the world needed time.
Capturing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere has major challenges, but it can be done at a price that would not destroy our economy. Doing so would give us more time to find ways to switch to inherently zero-carbon methods of powering our civilization.
Solar cost per watt is dropping on an exponential curve, and will drop below coal by 2020.
If humanity could capture one tenth of one percent of the solar energy striking the Earth, we would have access to 6X as much energy as we consume in all forms today, with almost no greenhouse gas emissions.
Rebooting Britain, Revealing Errors, Reproducing Generators, Netflix Culture
- Reboot Britain Video Archive — video from the talks at Reboot Britain are online. The event also produced a essay set (PDF), CC-licensed. (via Paul Reynolds)
- Revealing Errors — Benjamin Mako Hill blog using computer errors as starting points for understanding how computers control the world around us. (via Dan Meyer)
- New Microbe Strain Makes More Electricity, Faster — University of Amherst researchers made current-generating bacteria work harder to live, and in five months had a strain that made an 8x larger current.
- Netflix Culture — readable slide deck which talks about the Netflix company culture. It’s hard to read it and not nod in full agreement. (via joshua on Delicious)