- Apollo Software — amazing collection of source code to the software behind the Apollo mission. And memos, and quick references, and operations plans, and …. Just another reminder that the software itself is generally dwarfed by its operation.
- t (Github) — command-line power-tool for Twitter.
Habits of Mind (PDF) — Much more important than speciﬁc mathematical results are the habits
of mind used by the people who create those results,and we envision a curriculum
that elevates the methods by which mathematics is created,the techniques used
by researchers,to a status equal to that enjoyed by the results of that research. Loved it: talks about the habits and mindsets of mathematicians, rather than the set of algorithms and postulates students must be able to recall. (via Dan Meyer)
Instagram: On being the product
Getting customers to use a service and then changing the rules isn't a decent way to treat people.
Let me start by saying that I’m not an Instagram user, and never have been. So I thought I could be somewhat dispassionate. But I’m finding that hard. The latest change to their terms of service is outrageous: their statement that, by signing up, you are allowing them to use your photographs without permission or compensation in any way they choose. This goes beyond some kind of privacy issue. What are they doing, turning the service into some kind of photographic agency with unpaid labor?
I’m also angered by the response that users should be willing to pay. Folks, Instagram doesn’t have a paid option. You can be as willing as you want to be, and you don’t have the opportunity. Saying that users should be willing to pay is both clueless and irrelevant. And even if users did pay, I don’t see any reason to assume that a hypothetical “Instagram Pro” would have terms of service significantly different.
It really doesn’t have to be this way. I’ve used Flickr for a number of years. I’m one of the few who thinks that Flickr is still pretty awesome, even if it isn’t as awesome as it was back in the day. And I’ve had a couple of offers from people who wanted to use my photographs in commercial publications. One I agreed to, one I refused. That’s how things should work. Read more…
Four short links: 26 April 2012
Four short links: 18 November 2011
Quantified Learner, Text Extraction, Backup Flickr, and Multitouch UI Awesomeness
- Learning With Quantified Self — this CS grad student broke Jeopardy records using an app he built himself to quantify and improve his ability to answer Jeopardy questions in different categories. This is an impressive short talk and well worth watching.
- Evaluating Text Extraction Algorithms — The gold standard of both datasets was produced by human annotators. 14 different algorithms were evaluated in terms of precision, recall and F1 score. The results have show that the best opensource solution is the boilerpipe library. (via Hacker News)
- Parallel Flickr — tool for backing up your Flickr account. (Compare to one day of Flickr photos printed out)
- Quneo Multitouch Open Source MIDI and USB Pad (Kickstarter) — interesting to see companies using Kickstarter to seed interest in a product. This one looks a doozie: pads, sliders, rotary sensors, with LEDs underneath and open source drivers and SDK. Looks almost sophisticated enough to drive emacs :-)
Four short links: 23 June 2010
Being Wrong, Science Malfunding, Touch-screen Libraries, Mining Flickr Photos
- Ira Glass on Being Wrong (Slate) — fascinating interview with Ira Glass on the fundamental act of learning: being wrong. I had this experience a couple of years ago where I got to sit in on the editorial meeting at the Onion. Every Monday they have to come up with like 17 or 18 headlines, and to do that, they generate 600 headlines per week. I feel like that’s why it’s good: because they are willing to be wrong 583 times to be right 17. (via Hacker News)
- Real Lives and White Lies in the Funding of Scientific Research (PLoSBiology) — very clear presentation of the problems with the current funding models of scientific research, where the acknowledged best scientists spend most of their time writing funding proposals. K.’s plight (an authentic one) illustrates how the present funding system in science eats its own seed corn. To expect a young scientist to recruit and train students and postdocs as well as producing and publishing new and original work within two years (in order to fuel the next grant application) is preposterous.
- jQTouch Roadmap — interesting to me is the primary distinction between Sencha and jQTouch, namely that jQT is for small devices (phones) only, while Sencha handles small and large (tablet) touch-screen devices. (via Simon St Laurent)
- Travel Itineraries from Flickr Photo Trails (Greg Linden) — clever idea, to use metadata extracted from Flickr photos (location, time, etc.) to construct itineraries for travellers, saying where to go, how long to spend there, and how long to expect to spend getting from place to place. Another story of the surprise value that can be extracted from overlooked data.
Four short links: 21 May 2010
Evilbook, Design Story, Openness Rating, Web 2.0 Sharecropping
- Infrastructures (xkcd) — absolutely spot-on.
- The Michel Thomas App: Behind the Scenes (BERG) — not interesting to me because it’s iPhone, but for the insight into the design process. The main goal here was for me to do just enough to describe the idea, so that Nick could take it and iterate it in code. He’d then show me what he’d built; I’d do drawings or further animations on top of it, and so on and so on. It’s a fantastic way of working. Before long, you start finishing each others’ sentences. Both of us were able to forget about distinguishing between design and code, and just get on with thinking through making together. It’s brilliant when that happens.
- Open Government and the World Wide Web — Tim Berners-Lee offered his “Five-Star” plan for open data. He said public information should be awarded a star rating based on the following criteria: one star for making the information public; a second is awarded if the information is machine-readable; a third star if the data is offered in a non-proprietary format; a fourth is given if it is in Linked Data format; a fifth if it has actually been linked. Not only a good rating system, but a clear example of the significantly better communication by semantic web advocates. Three years ago we’d have had a wiki specifying a ratings ontology with a union of evaluation universes reconciled through distributed trust metrics and URI-linked identity delivered through a web-services accessible RDF store, a prototype of one component of which was running on a devotee’s desktop machine at a university in Bristol, written in an old version of Python. (via scilib on Twitter)
- Data Access, Data Ownership, and Sharecropping — With Flickr you can get out, via the API, every single piece of information you put into the system. Every photo, in every size, plus the completely untouched original. (which we store for you indefinitely, whether or not you pay us) Every tag, every comment, every note, every people tag, every fave. Also your stats, view counts, and referers. Not the most recent N, not a subset of the data. All of it. It’s your data, and you’ve granted us a limited license to use it. Additionally we provide a moderately competently built API that allows you to access your data at rates roughly 500x faster then the rate that will get you banned from Twitter. Asking people to accept anything else is sharecropping. It’s a bad deal. (via Marc Hedlund)
Four short links: 12 March 2010
Seasonal Colours, Fast Peripherals, Wikipedian-in-Residence, Location Abomination
- Flickr Flow — a “season wheel”, showing the relative popularity of colours in Flickr photos at different times of the year. Beautiful. (via gurneyjourney)
- Light Peak — optical peripheral cabling and motherboard connections. (via timoreilly on twitter)
British Museum Pilots “Wikipedian in Residence” — Liam’s underlying task will be to be to build a relationship between the
Museum and the Wikipedian community through a range of activities both
internally and public-facing. (via straup on Delicious)
- Twitter’s Location Policy — If you chose to tweet with a place, but not to share your exact coordinates, Twitter still needs to use your coordinates to determine your Place. In order to improve the accuracy of our geolocation systems (for example, the way we define neighborhoods and places), Twitter will temporarily store those coordinates for 6 months. Because how could anything go wrong if there’s a database containing 6 months of my precise locations stored on the Internet even when I’ve chosen not to share my precise location? (via straup on Delicious)
Four short links: 24 June 2009
Open Source Kids, Crowdsourcing Lessons, Flickr Secrets, Hadoop Spatial Joins
- The Digital Open — The Digital Open is an online technology community and competition for youth around the world, age 17 and under. Building a community of young open source hackers.
- Four Crowdsoucing Lessons from the Guardian’s Spectacular Expenses Scandal Experiment — Your workers are unpaid, so make it fun. How to lure them? By making it feel like a game. “Any time that you’re trying to get people to give you stuff, to do stuff for you, the most important thing is that people know that what they’re doing is having an effect,” Willison said. “It’s kind of a fundamental tenet of social software. If you’re not giving people the ‘I rock’ vibe, you’re not getting people to stick around.” (via migurski on delicious)
- 10+ Deploys/Day: Dev & Ops Cooperation at Flickr — John Allspaw and Paul Hammond’s talk from Velocity. You tell any mainstream company in the world “10 deploys/day” and you’ll be met with disbelief.
- Reproducing Spatial Joins using Hadoop and EC2 — bit by bit the techniques for emulating important operations from trad databases are being discovered and shared in the new database scene. (via straup on delicious)
Four short links: 14 May 2009
Open Source Ebook Reader, Libraries and Ebooks, Life Lessons, and Government Licenses
- Open Library Book Reader — the page-turning book reader software that the Internet Archive uses is open source. One of the reasons library scanning programs are ineffective is that they try to build new viewing software for each scan-a-bundle-of-books project they get funding for.
- Should Libraries Have eBooks? — blog post from an electronic publisher made nervous by the potential for libraries to lend unlimited “copies” of an electronic work simultaneously. He suggests turning libraries into bookstores, compensating publishers for each loan (interestingly, some of the first circulating libraries were established by publishers and booksellers precisely to have a rental trade). I’m wary of the effort to profit from every use of a work, though. I’d rather see libraries limit simultaneous access to in-copyright materials if there’s no negotiated license opening access to more. Unlike the author, I don’t see this as a situation that justifies DRM, whose poison extends past the term of copyright. (via Paul Reynolds)
Lessons Learned from Previous Employment (Adam Shand) — great summary of what he learned in the different jobs he’s had over the years. Sample:
- More than any other single thing, being successful at something means not giving up.
- Everything takes longer than you expect. Lots longer.
- In a volunteer based non-profit people don’t have the shared goal of making money. Instead every single person has their own personal agenda to pursue.
- Unfortunately “dreaming big” is more fun and less work than “doing big”.
- Flickr Creates New License for White House Photos (Wired) — photos from the White House photographer were originally CC-licensed (yay, a step forward) but when it was pointed out that as government-produced information those photos weren’t allowed to be copyright, the White House relicensed as “United States Government Work”. Flickr had to add the category, which differs from “No Known Copyright”, and it’s something that all sharing sites will need to consider if they are going to offer their service to the Government.
Four short links: 20 Mar 2009
Space, Space, Micromanufacturing, and Sensors:
- Teens Capture Images of Space With £56 Camera and Balloon (Telegraph) — DIY/MAKE culture at its best, four 18-19 year old Spanish students (with guidance of a teacher) rigged a balloon to carry a camera over 100,000 feet (that’s twelve trillion and seven Canadian meters) above the earth, take pictures, and return to the ground. Here’s their project’s web page with a Google gadget to translate it into English. (via @erikapearson)
- The Robot Who Helps Astronomers Identify Stars – IO9 interviewed Fiona Romeo, about the Royal Observatory’s Astronomical Photograph of the Year contest and the astrotagging bot I linked to earlier.
- Clive Thompson on the Revolution in Micromanufacturing — talks about his experiences with Etsy. I was aware of the site but had dismissed it as some sort of urban-hipster thing—until I started seeing chatter about it on discussion boards for wealthy professionals and stay-at-home moms.
- How The FitBit Algorithms Work — The Fitbit’s primary method of collecting data is an accelerometer. Its accelerometer constantly measures the acceleration of your body and algorithms convert this raw data into useful information about your daily life, such as calories burned, steps, distance and sleep quality. How do we develop these algorithms? Our approach is that we have test subjects wear the Fitbit while also wearing a device that produces a “truth” value. […].