- Why Restaurant Web Sites Are So Bad — The rest of the Web long ago did away with auto-playing music, Flash buttons and menus, and elaborate intro pages, but restaurant sites seem stuck in 1999.
- North Korean Government Partly Funded by Gold Farming (Gamasutra) — alleges a special group of hackers built automation software for MMOs and sent part of their profits back home.
- Pleasanton Protects Bicyclists with Microwave (Mercury News) — no, not by pre-emptive cooking. The device monitors the intersection and can differentiate between vehicles and bicyclists crossing the road and either extends or triggers the light if a cyclist is detected.
Tim O'Reilly on ebooks, confessions of a not-so-public speaker, and why social network analysis matters.
This week on O'Reilly: Tim O'Reilly looked at the past and future of ebooks, Suzanne Axtell shared her first steps toward becoming a public speaker, and we learned that social network analysis goes far beyond social networks.
Distributed Drug Money, Science Game, Beautiful Machine Learning, and Stream Event Processing
- Silk Road (Gawker) — Tor-delivered “web” site that is like an eBay for drugs, currency is Bitcoins. Jeff Garzik, a member of the Bitcoin core development team, says in an email that bitcoin is not as anonymous as the denizens of Silk Road would like to believe. He explains that because all Bitcoin transactions are recorded in a public log, though the identities of all the parties are anonymous, law enforcement could use sophisticated network analysis techniques to parse the transaction flow and track down individual Bitcoin users. “Attempting major illicit transactions with bitcoin, given existing statistical analysis techniques deployed in the field by law enforcement, is pretty damned dumb,” he says. The site is viewable here, and here’s a discussion of delivering hidden web sites with Tor. (via Nelson Minar)
- Dr Waller — a big game using DC Comics characters where players end up crowdsourcing science on GalaxyZoo. A nice variant on the captcha/ESP-style game that Luis von Ahn is known for. (via BoingBoing)
- Machine Learning Demos — hypnotically beautiful. Code for download.
- Esper — stream event processing engine, GPLv2-licensed Java. (via Stream Event Processing with Esper and Edd Dumbill)
Fibre Horse, Forced Gold Farming, Google Correlate, Internet GDP
- Draft Horses Bring Fibre to Remote Locations — I love the conjunction of old and new, as draft horses prove the best way to lay fibre in remote Vermont. (via David Isenberg)
- Chinese Political Prisoners Gold-Farming (Guardian) — “Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour,” Liu told the Guardian. “There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn’t see any of the money. The computers were never turned off.”
- Correlate — Google Correlate finds search patterns which correspond with real-world trends. You upload your time series or geographic data, they find search terms that correlate. Very cool!
- McKinsey Internet Matters Report (PDF, free registration required) — Internet responsible for 3.4% of GDP in the countries they studied, 21% of GDP growth in last 5 years in mature countries, 2.6 jobs created for every one lost, and 75% of the Internet’s impact arises from traditional industries. Lots more like this in here. The United States captures more than 30 percent of global internet revenues and more than 40 percent of net income.
Mobile Gambling, Science Copyright, Failure of Advertising, and Data Businesses
- Mobile Gaming Device — Cantor Gaming (division of Wall St’s Cantor Fitzgerald) has released a Windows Mobile device to make live bets during a game. Real-time isn’t just for trading, it’s also for sports gambling too.
- Copyright Isn’t Just Hurting Creativity, It’s Killing Science (Video) — Larry Lessig tackles science. I’ve been grappling with technology transfer and the commercialization of academic research for a while, and most scientific discoveries aren’t immediately useful. Some, a rare few, are eventually useful, but even then only after a long time and lot of money spent making repeatable, efficient, and scalable processes from those discoveries. Most science is useless in this sense, never leading to product, so perhaps the general advance of knowledge would happen faster if we worried less about universities doing the commercialization and instead let them get back to focus on discovering more about the world around us. (via BoingBoing)
- This Tech Bubble is Different (BusinessWeek) — notable for this killer quote: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” he [Hammerbacher] says. “That sucks.”
- How US News Abandoned Print and Learned to Love Its Data — now has multiple revenue streams including advertising, lead generation, special-edition print, and licenses, all keyed around its data.
Twitter Mapped, Bibliographic Data Released, Babies Engadgeted, and Nat's Christmas Present Sorted
- A Day in the Life of Twitter (Chris McDowall) — all geo-tagged tweets from 24h of the Twitter firehose, displayed. Interesting things can be seen, such as Jakarta glowing as brightly as San Francisco. (via Chris’s sciblogs post)
- British Library Release 3M Open Bibliographic Records) (OKFN) — This dataset consists of the entire British National Bibliography, describing new books published in the UK since 1950; this represents about 20% of the total BL catalogue, and we are working to add further releases.
- Gadgets for Babies (NY Times) — cry decoders, algorithmically enhanced rocking chairs, and (my favourite) “voice-activated crib light with womb sounds”. I can’t wait until babies can make womb sound playlists and share them on Twitter.
- GP2X Caanoo MAME/Console Emulator (ThinkGeek) — perfect Christmas present for, well, me. Emulates classic arcade machines and microcomputers, including my nostalgia fetish object, the Commodore 64. (via BoingBoing’s Gift Guide)
Managing Mistakes, Paying for APIs, Gaming Gmail, and Classy Twitter Engineering
- How to Manage Employees When They Make Mistakes — sound advice on how to deal with employees who failed to meet expectations. Yet again, good parenting can make you a good adult. It’s strange to me that in the technology sector we have such a reputation for yellers. Maybe it’s business in general and not just tech. […] People stay at companies with leaders who rule like Mussolini because they want to be part of something super successful. But it does tend to breed organizations of people who walk around like beaten dogs with their heads down waiting to be kicked. It produces sycophants and group think. And if your company ever “slips” people head STRAIGHT for the door as they did at Siebel. I’d love to see a new generation of tech companies that don’t rule through fear. (via Hacker News)
- Information Wants to be Paid (Pete Warden) — I want to know where I stand relative to the business model of any company I depend on. If API access and the third-party ecosystem makes them money, then I feel a lot more comfortable that I’ll retain access over the long term. So true. It’s not that platform companies are evil, it’s just that they’re a business too. They’re interested in their survival first and yours second. To expect anything else is to be naive and to set yourself up for failure. As Pete says, it makes sense to have them financially invested in continuing to provide for you. It’s not a cure-all, but it’s a damn sight better than “build on this so we can gain traction and some idea of a business model”. Yet again, Warden reads my mind and saves me the trouble of finding the right words to write.
- 0Boxer — Chrome and Safari extensions to turn gmail into a game. (via waxy)
- Twitter’s New Search Architecture (Twitter Engineering Blog) — notable for two things: they’re contributing patches back to the open source text search library Lucene, and they name the individual engineers who worked on the project. Very classy, human, and canny. (via straup on Delicious)
Subjective Analytics, Great Maps, Open Web Analytics, and Locative Gaming Tool
- Ten of the Greatest Maps that Changed the World (Daily Mail) — Head of Map Collections at the British Library has a list of cartographic coolness. Businessman Charles Booth was sceptical about a claim in 1885 that a quarter of Londoners lived in extreme poverty, so he employed people to investigate. They found the true figure was 30 per cent. The findings were entered onto a ‘Master Map’ using seven colour categories, from black for ‘Lowest class, semi-criminal’ to gold for wealthy. The authorities were terrified into action, and the first council houses were built soon afterwards. (via Flowing Data)
- Open Web Analytics — provides a generic set of PHP and HTTP APIs that application developers can use to integrate web analytics into any application. The Framework also has built-in support for popular web applications such as WordPress and MediaWiki. (open source)
- Aris Games — Over the last two years, a group of researchers here at the University of Wisconsin’s Games, Learning and Society research group have been experimenting with making mobile games that teach. Along the way, we have developed an open tool for creating these mobile games. Our goal is now is to provide educators who want to use place based / inquiry / narrative / gaming activities in their curriculum with a tool that can help them build it. The ARIS engine allows game designers to place virtual items, characters and pages in physical space using the iPhone’s GPS or a little barcode that can be placed on a wall or near an object. By giving the players a story and a number of quests, games can be built that involve a mix of physical and virtual activities.
Life Games, Tablets, Image Processing at Scale, and Open Source Currency
- Super Me — a game structure to give you happiness in life. Brilliant idea, and nice execution from a team that includes British tech stars Alice Taylor and Phil Gyford. (via crystaltips on Twitter)
- Android Tablet — the PanDigital Novel is a wifi-enabled book-reader that’s easily modded to run Android and thus a pile of other software. Not available for sale yet, but “coming soon”. A hint of the delights to come as low-cost Android tablets hit the market.
- Batch Processing Millions of Images (Etsy) — 180 resizes/second, done locally (not on EC2), with much fine-tuning. This is how engineering battles are won.
- BitCoin — open source digital currency project.