- Phantom of the Flopera (YouTube) — Bach’s Tocata and Fugue in D Minor (BWV 565) as performed by floppy drives. Creative intimacy with one’s tools is a sign of mastery. (via Andy Baio)
- Save Entire BBC Archive (Ben Goldacre) — I pointed earlier to the questionable BBC closure of scores of websites in the name of cost-cutting. It’s a torrent of an archive of spidered BBC websites. (via Andy Baio)
- Android Hidden NFC Capabilities Unlocked — Gibraltar Software Factory, based in Argentina, went through the source code of Android 2.3 and found that Google has purposefully hidden several NFC related API calls, most likely due to the fact that they’re not quite stable enough for public release. Some minor tweaking of the source code, and boom, they’ve enabled write support for NFC tags. This means mobile phones will not just read RFID tags, but also act like RFID tags. (via Chris Heathcote on Delicious)
- Pinboard Creator Maciej Ceglowski (ReadWriteWeb) — I think many developers (myself included) are easily seduced by new technology and are willing to burn a lot of time rigging it together just for the joy of tinkering. So nowadays we see a lot of fairly uninteresting web apps with very technically sweet implementations. In designing Pinboard, I tried to steer clear of this temptation by picking very familiar, vanilla tools wherever possible so I would have no excuse for architectural wank. The other reason I like the approach is that the tried-and-true stuff is extensively debugged and documented. The chances of you finding a bug in MySQL or PHP as the author of a mid-sized website are microscopic. That’s not the case for newer infrastructure like NoSQL or the various web frameworks.
ENTRIES TAGGED "fun"
Floppy Fun, BBC Archived, NFC Unlocked, and LAMP Supreme
100 Trends, Mobile to Web, Geometry Fun, and C# NLP Tools
- 100 Things to Watch in 2011 — people who consider tech trends without considering social trends are betting on the atom bomb without considering the Summer of Love. (via Fred Wilson)
- Mobile Economics will Trend Towards Web Economics (Fred Wilson) — A central issue with the Internet, no matter what device and presentation layer you use to access it, is that there is an unlimited amount of content available. Evan Williams calls it “a web of infinite information” in this chat with Om Malik. What is valuable is filtering and curation. Restricting access to content doesn’t work. Someone else’s content will get filtered and curated instead of yours. Scarcity is not a viable business model on the Internet.
- Magic Tile — geometric and topological analogues of Rubik’s Cube. Mindblowing fun with math.
- SharpNLP — open source C# NLP tools.
.bas Scripts, Net Neutrality, Open Harrassment, and iOS Blog
- Apple I Basic as Mac OS X Scripting Language — great hack. The “apple1basic” executable is a statically recompiled version of the original binary. All code is running natively. It plugs right into UNIX stdin and stdout. You can pass it the filename of a BASIC program to run. You can run BASIC programs like shell scripts. (via Hacker News)
- How to Discredit Net Neutrality — the Level3-Comcast dispute isn’t as straightforward as you might think (or as I implied). Increasingly, advocates of net neutrality have pegged their case to a larger and more powerful role for FCC regulation in the internet industry. And thus the net neutrality debate, instead of focusing on developing new institutional arrangements to preserve internet freedom on BOTH the demand and supply side, descends into a replay of the early 1980s, Reagan-era punch and judy show between democrats and republicans, with one arguing for “more government” and the other for “less government.” Neither talking much sense about what the government should actually do. There’s a missing discussion here about competition preventing carrier abuses, competition that the US lacks.
- The Dark Side of Open Source Conferences (Val Aurora) — A good first step is for conferences and communities to adopt and enforce explicit policies or codes of conduct that spell out what kind of behavior won’t be tolerated and what response it will get. Much in the way that people don’t stop speeding unless they get speeding tickets, or that murder is totally unacceptable to most people but laws against it still exist, harassment at conferences may seem obviously wrong, but stopping it will require written rules and enforceable penalties.
- iDev Blog-a-Day — love the layout and the content’s good too.
Robot Trades, Quirky Adventures, Tabular Data Library, and It's Hard to be Evil
- The Tracks of Bizarre Robot Traders (The Atlantic) — I love the idea that these mysterious effect-less trades might simply be there to slow down competitors’ analytic systems because every millisecond matters.
- MS Paint Adventures — a weird mashup of MS Paint and text adventure games.
- tablib — a format-agnostic tabular dataset library for Python. (via joshua on delicious)
- Password Reuse (XKCD) — so very true.
Philosophy of DevOps, Peak MHz, Transparency Satire, Naked Government
- Instrumentation and Observability (Theo Schlossnagle) — thoughtful talk (text and video available at that link) from a devops master. Many systems have critical metrics, which are diverse and specific to the business in question. For the purposes of this discussion, consider a system where advertisements are shown. We, of course, track every advertisement displayed in the system and that information is available for query. Herein the problem lies. Most systems put that information in a data store that is designed to answer marketing-oriented information: who clicked on what, what was shown where, etc. Answering the question, “How many were shown?” is possible but is not particularly efficient.
- Peak MHz (Mike Kuniavsky) — we hit the era of what I’m calling Peak MHz in about 2004. That’s the point when processor speed effectively peaked as chip manufacturers began competing along other dimensions. Which is why all the effort is going into horizontally-scalable systems like the NoSQL gadgets. (via Matt Jones)
- Transparency — the great British satires Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister continue as one of the writers blogs in the persona of the elder civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby. His take on transparency is funny because it’s true: I understand your anxiety about the new government’s fixation on what they are pleased to call ‘transparency’, but you are distressing yourself unnecessarily. It afflicts all incoming administrations. It used to be called ‘open government’, and reflects the frustrations they felt when they were in opposition and could not find out what was going on, combined with an eagerness to discover and publicise the deception, distortions and disasters of their predecessors.
- The Government Doesn’t Look Good Naked — a fine counter to the squawks of “the government’s open efforts suck!” that are building. this is exactly how to prevent innovation in government. If you want change, you have to tolerate imperfection and risk. If every program manager thinks they’ll end up on the front page of the Washington Post or get dressed down onstage at Gov 2.0, nothing will change. (via Tim McNamara)
Robot Needs, Twitter Paper, Relationship Detection, and Doublesided Tablets
- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Robot Needs — born to be a t-shirt. (via waxy)
- paper.li — read Twitter as a daily newspaper. An odd mashup of the hot new tech and the failing old. Will newspapers live on with modern meanings, like “records” and “cab”?
- Eureqa — software tool for detecting equations and hidden mathematical relationships in your data. Appears to be a free-as-in-beer service with open source client libraries. (via Pete Warden)
- Samsung Patents Tablet with Front and Rear Touch Input — The idea is to let users control the device without touching the screen, and perhaps allow them to perform multi-touch inputs from the screen side and the rear side at the same time. (via azaaza on Twitter who says he worked on it at Samsung four years ago)
"I am from the future. I bring you grave news. Humanity lies at a crossroads. Alas, in my time people did not choose wisely. We let our differences drive us apart, we neglected science and technology, and we lost far too many to war and plague before we realised the errors of our ways. I bring you hope in the…
Science Publishing, iState of the Union, Synthetic Bio Obstacles, UK Government Cloud
- Why I Am Disappointed with Nature Communications (Cameron Neylon) — fascinating to learn what you can’t do with “non-commercial”-licensed science research: using a paper for commercially funded research even within a university, using the content of paper to support a grant application, using the paper to judge a patent application, using a paper to assess the viability of a business idea.
- The iState of the Union (Slate) — humorous take on the State of the Union address, as given by Steve Jobs.
- Five Obstacles for Synthetic Biology — a reminder that biology is bloody hard, natural or synthetic. “There are very few molecular operations that you understand in the way that you understand a wrench or a screwdriver or a transistor,” says Rob Carlson, a principal at the engineering, consulting and design company Biodesic in Seattle, Washington. And the difficulties multiply as the networks get larger, limiting the ability to design more complex systems. A 2009 review showed that although the number of published synthetic biological circuits has risen over the past few years, the complexity of those circuits — or the number of regulatory parts they use — has begun to flatten out. (via Sciblogs)
- UK Government to Set Up Own Cloud (Guardian) — will build a dozen data centres (each costing £250m) and push for open source on central and local government computers, eventually resulting in thin clients and “shared utilities”. (via jasonwyran on Twitter)
Minds for Sale, Heat Death of the Web, Handheld Wireless Magazines, Joking Computers
- Jonathan Zittrain on “Minds for Sale” — video of a presentation he gave at the Computer History Museum about crowdsourcing. In the words of one attendee, Zittrain focuses on the potential alienation and opportunities for abuse that can arise with the growth of distributed online production. He also contemplates the thin line that separates exploitation from volunteering in the context of online communities and collaboration. Video embedded below.
- Anatomy of a Bad Search Result — Physicists tell us that the 2nd law of Thermodynamics predicts that eventually everything in the universe will be the same temperature, the way a hot bath in a cold room ends up being a lukewarm bath in a lukewarm room. The web is entering its own heat death as SEO scum build fake sites with stolen content from elsewhere on the web. If this continues, we won’t be able to find good content for all the bullshit. The key is to have enough dishwaster-related text to look like it’s a blog about dishwashers, while also having enough text diversity to avoid being detected by Google as duplicative or automatically generated content. So who created this fake blog? It could have been Consumersearch, or a “black hat” SEO consultant, or someone in an affiliate program that Consumersearch doesn’t even know. I’m not trying to imply that Consumersearch did anything wrong. The problem is systematic. When you have a multibillion dollar economy built around keywords and links, the ultimate “products” optimize for just that: keywords and links. The incentive to create quality content diminishes.
- Magplus — gorgeous prototyping for how magazines might work on new handheld devices.
- Glasgow’s Joking Computer — The Glasgow Science Centre in Scotland is exhibiting a computer that makes up jokes using its database of simple language rules and a large vocabulary. It’s doing better than most 8 year old children. In fact, if we were perfectly honest, most adults can’t pun to save themselves. Q: What do you call a shout with a window? A: A computer scream. (via Physorg News)