Disposable UAVs Inspired by Paper Planes (DIY Drones) — The first design, modeled after a paper plane, is created from a cellulose sheet that has electronic circuits ink-jet printed directly onto its body. Once the circuits have been laid on the plane’s frame, the craft is exposed to a UV curing process, turning the planes body into a flexible circuit board. These circuits are then connected to the planes “avionics system”, two elevons attached to the rear of the craft, which give the UAV the ability to steer itself to its destination.
Cliodynamics: History as Science — a systematic application of the scientific method to history: verbal theories should be translated into mathematical models, precise predictions derived, and then rigorously tested on empirical material. In short, history needs to become an analytical, predictive science.
Cricket — indoor location system from MIT. In a nutshell, Cricket uses a combination of RF and ultrasound technologies to provide location information to attached host devices. Wall- and ceiling-mounted beacons placed through a building publish information on an RF channel. [...] The listener runs algorithms that correlate RF and ultrasound samples (the latter are simple pulses with no data encoded on them) and to pick the best correlation. Even in the presence of several competing beacon transmissions, Cricket achieves good precision and accuracy quickly.
The World at Night — an international effort to present stunning nightscape photos and time-lapse videos of the world’s landmarks against celestial attractions.
Paul Steinhardt on Impossible Crystals (YouTube) — quasi-crystals with five-fold symmetry previously believed impossible. And then he found one, and led an expedition in 2011 to Chukotka in Far Eastern Russia to find new information about its origin and search for more samples. As you do when you’re the Albert Einstein Professor of Science at Princeton, a job title that comes with no pressure at all to bring home the impossible.
Reading Runes in Animal Movement (YouTube) — accessible TEDxRiverTawe 2013 talk by Professor Rory Wilson, on his work tracking movements of animals in time and space. The value comes from high-resolution time series data: many samples/second, very granular.
Multithreading is Hard — The compiler and the processor both conspire to defeat your threads by moving your code around! Be warned and wary! You will have to do battle with both. Sample code and explanation of WTF the eieio barrier is (hint: nothing to do with Old McDonald’s server farm). (via Erik Michaels-Ober)
Is Google Dumping Open Standards for Open Wallets? (Matt Asay) — it’s easier to ship than standardise, to innovate than integrate, but the ux of a citizen in the real world is pants. Like blog posts? Log into Facebook to read your friends! (or Google+) Chat is great, but you’d better have one client per corporation your friends hang out on. Nobody woke up this morning asking for features to make web pages only work on one browser. The user experience of isolationism is ugly.
GitHub Renders GeoJSON — Under the hood we use Leaflet.js to render the geoJSON data, and overlay it on a custom version of MapBox’s street view baselayer — simplified so that your data can really shine. Best of all, the base map uses OpenStreetMap data, so if you find an area to improve, edit away.
Anatomy of Two Memes — comparing the spread of Gangnam Style to Harlem Shake. Memes are like currencies: you need to balance accessibility (or ‘money supply’) and inflation. Gangnam Style became globally accessible through top-down mainstream sources (High Popularity), but this gave it high social inflation so it wasn’t valuable to share (Low Shareability). However, scale sustained its long term growth. Harlem Shake was not as easily accessible because it was driven more by small communities (Low Popularity), but for the same reason, being less easily accessible, it remained highly valuable (High Shareability). Lack of scale was what made Harlem Shake growth short-term and eventually killed it prematurely. Caution: contains fauxconomics.
Handedness (Github) — determine left or right handedness from pinch gesture.
Innovation Cartography — video of a talk by Richard Jefferson of Cambia’s lens, on the imperative to innovate held at the Skoll World Forum on Social Enterprise. His story of maritime cartography (starts around 5m50s) is awesome.
techu Search Server — Techu exposes a RESTful API for realtime indexing and searching with the Sphinx full-text search engine. We leverage Redis, Nginx and the Python Django framework to make searching easy to handle & flexible.
In Defence of Digital Freedom — a member of the European Parliament’s piece on the risks to our online freedoms caused by framing computer security into cyberwarfare. Digital freedoms and fundamental rights need to be enforced, and not eroded in the face of vulnerabilities, attacks, and repression. In order to do so, essential and difficult questions on the implementation of the rule of law, historically place-bound by jurisdiction rooted in the nation-state, in the context of a globally connected world, need to be addressed. This is a matter for the EU as a global player, and should involve all of society. (via BoingBoing)
Crowdserfing — when a large corp uses crowd-sourced volunteering for its own financial gain, without giving back. It offends my sense of reciprocity as well, but nobody is coerced into using Google Maps or contributing data to it. How do we decide what is “right”?
Beauty and Joy of Computing — an introductory computer science curriculum developed at the University of California, Berkeley, intended for non-CS majors at the high school junior through undergraduate freshman level. Uses Snap, a web-based implementation of Scratch.
3D From Space Shuttle Footage? — neat idea! Filming in 3D generally requires two cameras that are separated laterally, to create the parallax effected needed for stereoscopic vision. Fortunately, videos shot from Earth orbit can be converted to 3D without a second camera, because the camera is constantly in motion.
Why I Work on Non-Partisan Tech (MySociety) — excellent essay. Obama won using big technology, but imagine if that effort, money, and technique were used to make things that were useful to the country. Political technology is not gov2.0.
3D Printing Patent Suits (MSNBC) — notable not just for incumbents keeping out low-cost competitors with patents, but also (as BoingBoing observed) Many of the key patents in 3D printing start expiring in 2013, and will continue to lapse through ’14 and ’15. Expect a big bang of 3D printer innovation, and massive price-drops, in the years to come. (via BoingBoing)
GraphChi — can run very large graph computations on just a single machine, by using a novel algorithm for processing the graph from disk (SSD or hard drive). Programs for GraphChi are written in the vertex-centric model, proposed by GraphLab and Google’s Pregel. GraphChi runs vertex-centric programs asynchronously (i.e changes written to edges are immediately visible to subsequent computation), and in parallel. GraphChi also supports streaming graph updates and removal of edges from the graph.
As We May Think (Vannevar Bush) — incredibly prescient piece he wrote for The Atlantic in 1945.
Transparency and Topic Models (YouTube) — a talk from DataGotham 2012, by Hanna Wallach. She uses latent Dirichlet allocation topic models to mine text data in declassified documents where the metadata are useless. She’s working on predicting classification durations (AWESOME!). (via Matt Biddulph)
Technology in the NFL — X2IMPACT’s Concussion Management System (CMS) is a great example of this trend. CMS, when combined with a digital mouth guard, also made by X2, enables coaches to see head impact data in real-time and asses concussions through monitoring the accelerometers in a players mouth guard. That data helps teams to decide whether to keep a player on the field or take them off for their own safety. Insert referee joke here.