"environment" entries

Four short links: 24 December 2010

Four short links: 24 December 2010

Carbon Offsets, Good IDN, People Don't Suck, and Passive Lifeblogging

  1. 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)
  2. Sad Story of the Snowman — the best use of Internationalized Domain Names yet.
  3. Katie, Starwars Geek (CNN) — best use of the Internet this year.
  4. Everything The Internet Knows About Me Because I Asked It To (WSJ) — passive lifeblogging. (via Keith on Twitter)
Four short links: 1 July 2010

Four short links: 1 July 2010

Component Costs, Streaming Server, RC Parts, and MySQL SSD Goodness

  1. 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)
  2. Meteor — an open source HTTP server that serves streaming data feeds (for apps that need Comet-style persistent connections). (via gianouts on Delicious)
  3. Hobby King RC Store — online source for remote control goodness, as recommended by Dan Shapiro at Foo.
  4. RethinkDB — MySQL storage engine optimised for SSD drives. See also TechCrunch article.
Four short links: 4 September 2009

Four short links: 4 September 2009

Flood Maps, Govt Permalinks, Ops, and Security

  1. 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)
  2. Citabilitymaking government accessible, reliable, and transparent with advanced permalinks, as Government websites are ever changing and cannot be cited. Content changes without notice or accountability.
  3. Bootstrapping EC2 Images as Puppet ClientsThis 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.
  4. 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.
Four short links: 27 Mar 2009

Four short links: 27 Mar 2009

Design, Perl, Heresy, and Ephemera:

  1. 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.
  2. Chuck vs CamelProgramming Perl makes an appearance on mainstream TV. (thanks Allison!)
  3. The Civil Heretic (NY Times) — a fascinating portrait of Freeman Dyson.
  4. 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)
Four short links: 26 Mar 2009

Four short links: 26 Mar 2009

Books, Money, Collective Despair, and a Dashboard of Doom:

  1. Will The Real iPod For Reading Please Stand Up — Sebastian Mary argues eloquently that we’re too focused on long-term writing because of the requirements and constraints imposed upon us by a mass-market paper book, whereas text online is basically an experiment in different lengths and sizes to find new balances for the new medium. a glance at the self-help or business shelves of your local bookshop will show you plenty more. And yet to make economic sense they have to be padded out for publication in ‘proper’ book size. But to conclude from this (as many unwittingly do) that long-form books are necessarily the best, rather than just the most familiar, way of communicating ideas is mistaken; and to assume that this practice will transplant to e-readers, imagined as a kind of iPod for these long-form essays, is just wrong.
  2. What I’ve Learned in Angel Investing — fascinating concrete lessons learned by an ex-Yahoo! angel. Be Wary of Entrepreneurs Who are Building for Businesses They Have No Experience In: I don’t like it when people are theorizing about how a certain market is or isn’t. They will most likely find problems that they have no experience tackling. It’s better to find a company who has a veteran of the industry they are tackling so that they have at least have some first hand knowledge of what goes on in that industry.
  3. Eco DataminingBy trawling scientific list-serves, Chinese fish market websites, and local news sources, ecologists think they can use human beings as sensors by mining their communications. Reminiscent of InSTEDD’s Golden Shadow project.
  4. Check In On the State of the Economy — a very appealing idea: a dashboard for the economy that is continuously refreshed as new data comes in. The difference between a one-off infographic and a live-updating dashboard is the difference between seeing the train and watching it race towards you. (via >Flowing Data)

ETech: Priorities for a Greener World: If You Could Design Anything, What Should You Do?

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?

Four short links: 11.5 Feb 2009

Four short links: 11.5 Feb 2009

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.

  1. 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)
  2. 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.
  3. Tinkerkit – a physical computing kit for designers. Arduino-compatible components for rapid prototyping. Sweet!
  4. 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.
Four short links: 4 Feb 2009

Four short links: 4 Feb 2009

Data, climate change, and location:

  1. 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.”.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!”.

What good is collective intelligence if it doesn't make us smarter?

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…

Fermi's Paradox and the End of Cheap Oil

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…