Little Rice: Smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream (Amazon) — Clay Shirky’s new 128-page book/report about how Xiaomi exemplifies the balancing act that China has to perfect to navigate between cheap copies and innovation, between the demands of local and global markets, and between freedom and control. I’d buy Clay’s shopping list, the same way I’d gladly listen to Neil Gaiman telling the time. (via BoingBoing)
Feed Siri Instructions From 16 Feet Away (Wired) — summary of a paywalled IEEE research paper Their clever hack uses those headphones’ cord as an antenna, exploiting its wire to convert surreptitious electromagnetic waves into electrical signals that appear to the phone’s operating system to be audio coming from the user’s microphone. […] It generates its electromagnetic waves with a laptop running the open source software GNU Radio, a USRP software-defined radio, an amplifier, and an antenna.
User-Centered Design (Courtney Johnston) — the wall label should always give you cause to look back at the art work again. I love behaviour-based indirect measures of success like this.
The Wild Wild East (The Economist) — Fung Retailing Limited, a related firm, has over 3,000 outlets, a third of them in China. Victor Fung, its honorary chairman, sees the era of mass production giving way to one of mass customization. Markets are fragmenting and smartphones are empowering consumers to get “directly involved in what they buy, where it is made and how they buy it.” Zhao Xiande of CEIBS in Shanghai points to Red Collar, a firm that used simply to make and export garments. Now it lets customers the world over design their own shirts online and makes them to order. Another outfit, Home Koo, offers custom-built furniture online.
Motivation for a Monolithic Codebase (YouTube) — interesting talk about Google’s codebase, the first time I know of that Google’s strategy for source code management was discussed in public.
The Advanced Persistent Threat You Have: Google Chrome (PDF) — argues that if you can’t detect and classify Google Chrome’s self-updating behavior, you’re not in a position to know when you’re hit by malware that also downloads and executes code from the net that updates executables and system files.
MITIE — permissively-licensed (Boost) tools for named entity extraction and binary relation detection as well as tools for training custom extractors and relation detectors.
MultiFab Prints 10 Materials At Once — and uses computer vision to self-calibrate and self-correct, as well as letting users embed objects (e.g., circuit boards) in the print. developed by CSAIL researchers from low-cost, off-the-shelf components that cost a total of $7,000
The Apex Book of World SF 4 (Amazon) — if SF invents the future by shaping and directing our imagination, and if you believe that non-American cultures will ascend over time, then it behooves you to sample this collection of SF from beyond the usual. (via Cory Doctorow)
Making Huge Projects Work (Amy Hoy) — the description of her workflow for modest and monster projects was useful to me, and may be to you as well. I think the real question is “where do we get an Alex of our own?” [Note: swearing]
Facebook Bluetooth Beacons — free for you to use and help people see more information about your business whenever they use Facebook during their visit.
Industry 4.0 — stop gagging at the term. Interesting examples of connectivity and data improving manufacturing. Human-machine interfaces: Logistics company Knapp AG developed a picking technology using augmented reality. Pickers wear a headset that presents vital information on a see-through display, helping them locate items more quickly and precisely. And with both hands free, they can build stronger and more efficient pallets, with fragile items safeguarded. An integrated camera captures serial and lot ID numbers for real-time stock tracking. Error rates are down by 40%, among many other benefits. Digital-to-physical transfer: Local Motors builds cars almost entirely through 3-D printing, with a design crowdsourced from an online community. It can build a new model from scratch in a year, far less than the industry average of six. Vauxhall and GM, among others, still bend a lot of metal, but also use 3-D printing and rapid prototyping to minimize their time to market. (via Quartz)
runC — a lightweight universal runtime container, by the Open Container Project. (OCP = multi-vendor initiative in hands of Linux Foundation)
New Hardware and the Internet of Things (Jon Bruner) — The Internet of Things and the new hardware movement are not the same thing. The new hardware movement is driven by new tools for: Prototyping (inexpensive 3D printers, CNC machine tools, cheap and powerful microcontrollers, high-level programming languages on embedded systems); Fundraising and business development (Highway1, Lab IX); Manufacturing (PCH, Seeed); Marketing (Etsy, Quirky). The IoT is driven by: Ubiquitous connectivity; Cheap hardware (i.e., the new hardware movement); Inexpensive data processing and machine learning.
OpenCV 3.0 Released — I hadn’t realised how much hardware acceleration comes out of the box with OpenCV.
FBI: Companies Should Help us Prevent Encryption (WaPo) — as Mike Loukides says, we are in a Post-Modern age where we don’t trust our computers and they don’t trust us. It’s jarring to hear the organisation that (over-zealously!) investigates computer crime arguing that citizens should not be able to secure their communications. It’s like police arguing against locks.
cockroach — a scalable, geo-replicated, transactional datastore. The Wired piece about it drops the factoid that the creators of GIMP worked on Google’s massive BigTable-successor, Colossus. From Photoshop-alike to massive file systems. Love it.
Defining Mobile (Luke Wroblewski) — numbers on size, orientation, and # of thumbs across mobile users. 94% of the time, it’s in portrait mode.
PwC Manufacturing Barometer: Robotics — Planned acquisition of robotics systems over the next two to three years was cited by a maximum of 58% -– with nearly one-third (31%) planning to acquire a moderate amount (25%) or many more robotics systems (only 6%). A larger number plan to acquire a limited number of robotics systems (27%). (via Robohub)
The Asshole Factory (Umair Haque) — The Great Enterprise of this age is the Asshole Industry. And that’s not just a tragedy. It is something approaching the moral equivalent of a crime. For it demolishes human potential in precisely the same way as locking up someone innocent, and throwing away the key.
Choose Boring Technology (Dan McKinley) — Adding technology to your company comes with a cost. As an abstract statement this is obvious: if we’re already using Ruby, adding Python to the mix doesn’t feel sensible because the resulting complexity would outweigh Python’s marginal utility. But somehow when we’re talking about Python and Scala or MySQL and Redis, people lose their minds, discard all constraints, and start raving about using the best tool for the job.
Sharing our Engineering Ladder — In addition to the ladder causing problems inside of my team, we were having a hard time evaluating candidates during interviews and determining what level to hire them into. Particularly at the more senior levels, it wasn’t clear what the criteria for success really looked like. So, together with my tech leads and engineering managers, we rewrote the ladder to be more specific. It has been very helpful both for the process of reviews and promotion committees as well as for the process of hiring.
Ikea’s flat-pack refugee shelter is entering production (The Verge) — The UNHCR has agreed to buy 10,000 of the shelters, and will begin providing them to refugee families this summer. […] Measuring about 188 square feet, each shelter accommodates five people and includes a rooftop solar panel that powers a built-in lamp and USB outlet. The structure ships just like any other piece of Ikea furniture, with insulated, lightweight polymer panels, pipes, and wires packed into a cardboard box. According to Ikea, it only takes about four hours to assemble.
Putting the Nuclear Option Front and Centre (Tom Armitage) — offering what feels like the nuclear option front and centre, reminding the user that it isn’t a nuclear option. I love this. “Undo” changes your experience profoundly.
3D-Printing Carbon Fibre (Makezine) — the machine doesn’t produce angular, stealth fighter-esque pieces with the telltale CF pattern seen on racing bikes and souped up Mustangs. Instead, it creates an FDM 3D print out of nylon filament (rather than ABS or PLA), and during the process it layers in a thin strip of carbon fiber, melted into place from carbon fiber fabric using a second extruder head. (It can also add in kevlar or fiberglass.)