- Holiday Carbon Offsets — buy carbon offsets against Santa’s trip, a stockingful of coal, or this year’s Reindeer Games. (via Val Aurora on Twitter)
- Sad Story of the Snowman — the best use of Internationalized Domain Names yet.
- Katie, Starwars Geek (CNN) — best use of the Internet this year.
- Everything The Internet Knows About Me Because I Asked It To (WSJ) — passive lifeblogging. (via Keith on Twitter)
Carbon Offsets, Good IDN, People Don't Suck, and Passive Lifeblogging
Component Costs, Streaming Server, RC Parts, and MySQL SSD Goodness
- Conflict Minerals and Blood Tech (Joey Devilla) — electronic components have a human and environmental cost. I remember Saul Griffith asking me, “do you want to kill gorillas or dolphins?” for one component. Now we can add child militias and horrific rape to the list. (via Simon Willison)
- Meteor — an open source HTTP server that serves streaming data feeds (for apps that need Comet-style persistent connections). (via gianouts on Delicious)
- Hobby King RC Store — online source for remote control goodness, as recommended by Dan Shapiro at Foo.
- RethinkDB — MySQL storage engine optimised for SSD drives. See also TechCrunch article.
Flood Maps, Govt Permalinks, Ops, and Security
- Flood Maps — what the world will look like when the oceans rise. Interactive, so you can dial up your preferred level of environmental horror. (via Hans Nowak)
- Citability — making government accessible, reliable, and transparent with advanced permalinks, as Government websites are ever changing and cannot be cited. Content changes without notice or accountability.
- Bootstrapping EC2 Images as Puppet Clients — This is a post on how to get to the point of using Puppet in an EC2 environment, by automatically configuring EC2 instances as Puppet clients once they’re launched. I’ve been learning that if you’re using a cloud hosting service, you need an automated admin tool. (via Grig Gheorghiu). See also the APT repository for Chef.
- USB Snoop Stick — Trojan in a convenient form factor, malware on a stick, back doors in your pocket … and best of all, it’s sold to consumers.
Design, Perl, Heresy, and Ephemera:
- Product Panic: 2009 — Bruce Sterling essay on design for recession-panicked consumers. As is usual with Bruce, I can’t tell whether he’s wryly tongue-in-cheek or literally advocating what he says. Great panic products are like Roosevelt’s fireside chats. They’re cheery bluff. The standard virtues of fine industrial design—safety, convenience, serviceability, utility, solid construction … well, when you’re heading for the lifeboats, you can overlook those pesky little details. For designers, the ideal panic product in 2009 is a 99-cent iPhone application. Something like an iPhone ocarina or lava lamp.
- Chuck vs Camel — Programming Perl makes an appearance on mainstream TV. (thanks Allison!)
- The Civil Heretic (NY Times) — a fascinating portrait of Freeman Dyson.
- FileFront Closes — “48 terabytes of data, historical and user-generated, gone.” Does our every upload deserve eternity? Who would want, take, or be able to support the continued existence of 48T of unprofitable blahblah? If 48T of user-generated content falls in the cloud, does it make a sound? (via waxy)
The second ETech session today I’d like to share with you was presented by a personal friend of mine, Jeremy Faludi. Jer started his session entitled “Priorities for a Greener World: If You Could Design Anything, What Should You Do?” by pointing out that if we want to change the world, we ought to know what the most important issues are, right?
This second Feb 11 post was brought to you by the intersection of timezones and technology. If there’s a third Feb 11 post, I’m changing my name to Bill Murray.
- Hacking the Earth — an environmental futurist looks at “geoengineering”, deliberately interfering with the Earth’s systems to terraform the planet. Radical solution to global warming, unwise hubris and immoral act of the highest folly, or all of the above? (via Matt Jones)
- Reinvention Draws Near for Newsweek — fascinating look at how Newsweek are refocusing their magazine. “If we don’t have something original to say, we won’t. The drill of chasing the week’s news to add a couple of hard-fought new details is not sustainable.” gives me hope. Newsweek are hoping to target fewer but richer advertisers, essentially a business strategy of tapping existing customers for more. This feels like they’re ceding the contested parts of their business (commodity news stories) and doubling down on the bits that nobody else is fighting for yet (their columnists, pictures, whitespace). What else could they do? Possibly nothing (see Innovator’s Dilemma), but the alternative is figuring out something new that people want and giving them that. Easy to say, hard for anyone to do.
- Tinkerkit – a physical computing kit for designers. Arduino-compatible components for rapid prototyping. Sweet!
- Stanford University YouTube Channel — short interesting talks by Stanford researchers. Brains on chips, stem cells to fight deafness, and brain imagery are some of the first up there. The talks aren’t condescending or vague, they’re aimed at “a bright and curious audience”, as the Mind Hacks blog post about them put it.
Data, climate change, and location:
- Details on Yahoo’s Distributed Database (Greg Linden) — summary of Yahoo!’s PNUTS, “a massively parallel and geographically distributed database system for Yahoo!’s web applications.” Greg keeps up with the papers from the search engine companies, and the insights he offers are great. For example, “Second, as figures 3 and 4 show, the average latency of requests to their database seems quite high, roughly 100 ms. This is high enough that web applications probably would incur too much total latency if they made a few requests serially (e.g. ask for some data, then, depending on what the data looks like, ask for some other data). That seems like a problem.”.
- Google Latitude — app and service for mobile phones (G1, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Symbian) and desktops, where your location is tracked and displayed on a map which you can share with your friends. Interesting use of the map to get some Dodgeball-like functionality, but without programmatic access it’s less functional than FireEagle. I’m still not sure I really understand the use cases for this, and assume that over time it will evolve into something more practical.
- Without Hot Air — the full text of an excellent book on global warming is available. Well written and well thought. I look forward to the inevitable flood of foot-stamping carbon polluters harrumphing about flawed science and the inevitable final triumph of the flat earth geocentric cosmology.
- Is Big Data at a Tipping Point? — Tim pointed me to this a while ago, but I don’t think he’s blogged about it. Thesis is that as more and more open data gets out there, it’ll eventually be cross-related into something big and useful. The author asks how close we are to that. If the premise is true (and I’m not sure I buy the phase change metaphor), I think we’re definitely not going to be saying within 12 months “remember when we didn’t have enough useful plentiful accurate mashable data? thank goodness those days are past!”.
Two stories I read yesterday morning are worth sharing. The first, an editorial by science-fiction writer Robert Silverberg, was entitled The Death of Gallium, a meditation on the increasing scarcity of valuable elements like gallium, used in flat panel TVs and computer displays, which is estimated to be used up by 2017. Other less rare but equally important minerals are…
I've been thinking of Fermi's Paradox since I saw the documentary film A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash, with its dire predictions of the wars and disruptions that could occur on the downward slope of the Hubbert curve. While I remain an optimist about the power of human ingenuity to surmount enormous challenges, I have enough sense of history…