Thinking About the Network as Filter (JP Rangaswami) — Constant re-openings of the same debate as people try and get a synchronous outcome out of an asynchronous tool without the agreements and conventions in place to do it. He says friends are your social filters. You no longer have to read every email. When you come back from vacation, whatever has passed in the stream unread can stay unread but most social tools are built as collectors, not as filters. Looking forward to the rest in his series.
Open Auto Alliance — The OAA is a global alliance of technology and auto industry leaders committed to bringing the Android platform to cars starting in 2014. “KidGamesPack 7 requires access to your history, SMS, location, network connectivity, speed, weight, in-car audio, and ABS control systems. Install or Cancel?”
Jacob Appelbaum’s CCC Talk — transcript of an excellent talk. One of the scariest parts about this is that for this system or these sets of systems to exist, we have been kept vulnerable. So it is the case that if the Chinese, if the Russians, if people here wish to build this system, there’s nothing that stops them. And in fact the NSA has in a literal sense retarded the process by which we would secure the internet because it establishes a hegemony of power, their power in secret to do these things.
How Google’s Defragging Android (Ars Technica) — Android’s becoming a pudgy microkernel for the Google Play Services layer that’s in userland, closed source, and a way to bypass carriers’ lag for upgrades.
Booting a Self-Signed Linux Kernel (Greg Kroah-Hartman) — procedures for how to boot a self-signed Linux kernel on a platform so that you do not have to rely on any external signing authority.
Paperscape — A map of scientific papers from the arXiv.
Trinket — Adafruit’s latest microcontroller board. Small but perfectly formed.
Paying for Developers is a Bad Idea (Charlie Kindel) — The companies that make the most profit are those who build virtuous platform cycles. There are no proof points in history of virtuous platform cycles being created when the platform provider incents developers to target the platform by paying them. Paying developers to target your platform is a sign of desperation. Doing so means developers have no skin in the game. A platform where developers do not have skin in the game is artificially propped up and will not succeed in the long run. A thesis illustrated with his experience at Microsoft.
Learnable Programming (Bret Victor) — deconstructs Khan Academy’s coding learning environment, and explains Victor’s take on learning to program. A good system is designed to encourage particular ways of thinking, with all features carefully and cohesively designed around that purpose. This essay will present many features! The trick is to see through them — to see the underlying design principles that they represent, and understand how these principles enable the programmer to think. (via Layton Duncan)
Clay Shirky: How The Internet Will (One Day) Transform Government (TED Talk) — There’s no democracy worth the name that doesn’t have a transparency move, but transparency is openness in only one direction, and being given a dashboard without a steering wheel has never been the core promise a democracy makes to its citizens.
Compiling Android from Source (Jethro Carr) — not as easy as you might think. The documentation is minimal, and each device has its own binary blobs of not-open-source crap necessary to make them work. Open source is supposed to let users continue to do good things with the device, even if the vendor disapproves (cf Stallman’s Printer). Jethro’s experience is that with Android, not so much. Even the Google AOSP supported phones can’t run a pure open source stack, proprietary downloads are supplied by Google for specific hardware components for each model and for a specific OS release. Should Google decide to stop supporting a device with future Android versions (as has happened with earlier devices) you won’t easily be able to support the hardware. (via Don Christie)
To Know But Not Understand (David Weinberger) — excellent excerpt from his new book on big data and computational science. We can climb the ladder of complexity [...] to phenomena with many more people with much more diverse and changing motivations, such as markets. We can model these and perhaps know how they work without understanding them. They are so complex that only our artificial brains can manage the amount of data and the number of interactions involved. Preordered his book! (via Alexis Madrigal)
The Coming War on General Purpose Computation (BoingBoing) — Cory Doctorow’s barnburner talk on how the only way copyright maximalists can win is if general purpose computers are locked down like infectious disease agents or fissionable material.
Valve Price Experiments (Geekwire) — The easiest way to stop piracy is not by putting antipiracy technology to work. It’s by giving those people a service that’s better than what they’re receiving from the pirates. For example, Russia. You say, oh, we’re going to enter Russia, people say, you’re doomed, they’ll pirate everything in Russia. Russia now outside of Germany is our largest continental European market. [...] We don’t understand what’s going on. All we know is we’re going to keep running these experiments to try and understand better what it is that our customers are telling us. And there are clearly things that we don’t understand because a simple analysis of these statistics implies very contradictory yet reproducible results. Read the whole thing, it’s fascinating.
Android Updates Are a Mess Because of the Business Model (ZDNet) — interesting analysis that hardware fragmentation plus the manufacturer/carrier/consumer disconnect makes delayed updates almost inevitable. The Android community is traveling along a path that the old Windows Mobile platform followed a few years ago. It was a disaster then, and Microsoft wisely abandoned that entire business model when it developed Windows Phone 7. Alas, Google doesn’t have that option, which means that Android users are going to continue to face a mess when it comes to updates.
Microsoft’s Patent Claims Against Android (Groklaw) — behold, citizen, the formidable might of Microsoft’s patents and how they justify a royalty from every Android device equal to that which you would owe if you built a Windows Mobile device: These Microsoft patents can be divided into several basic categories: (1) the ’372 and ’780 patents relate to web browsers; (2) the ’551 and ’233 patents relate to electronic document annotation and highlighting; (3) the ’522 patent relates to resources provided by operating systems; (4) the ’517 and ’352 patents deal with compatibility with file names once employed by old, unused, and outmoded operating systems; (5) the ’536 and ’853 patents relate to simulating mouse inputs using non-mouse devices; and (6) the ’913 patent relates to storing input/output access factors in a shared data structure. A shabby display of patent menacing.
The Social Graph is Neither — Maciej Ceglowski nails it. Imagine the U.S. Census as conducted by direct marketers – that’s the social graph. Social networks exist to sell you crap. The icky feeling you get when your friend starts to talk to you about Amway, or when you spot someone passing out business cards at a birthday party, is the entire driving force behind a site like Facebook.
Anonymous 101 (Wired) — Quinn Norton explains where Anonymous came from, what it is, and why it is.
Antibiotic Resistance (The Atlantic) — Laxminarayan likens antibiotics resistance to global warming: every country needs to solve its own problems and cooperate—but if it doesn’t, we all suffer. This is why we can’t have nice things. (via Courtney Johnston)
Deep Idle for Android — developer saw his handset wasn’t going into a deep-enough battery-saving idle mode, saw it wasn’t implemented in the kernel, implemented it, and reduced battery consumption by 55%. Very cool to see open source working as it’s supposed to. (via Leonard Lin)
Optimizing MongoDB — shorter field names, barely hundreds of ops/s when not in RAM, updates hold a lock while they fetch the original from disk … it’s a pretty grim story. (via Artur Bergman)
Is There a New Geek Anti-Intellectualism? — focus is absolutely necessary if we are to gain knowledge. We will be ignoramuses indeed, if we merely flow along with the digital current and do not take the time to read extended, difficult texts. (via Sacha Judd)
Trend Data for Teens (Pew Internet and American Life Project) — one in six American teens have used the Internet to look for information online about a health topic that’s hard to talk about, like drug use, sexual health, or depression.
The Guts of Android (Linux Weekly News) — technical but high-level explanation of the components of an Android system and how they compare to those of a typical Linux system.
Raspberry Pi — the creator of the game Elite has made an inline computer the size of a thumb drive–it plugs into an HDMI cable on one end and USB on the other. 700MHz CPU, OpenGL, 1080p-capable, running Ubuntu. Pricetag: $25. The mission is to supply them to schools.
A Budget for Babel (Tim Carmody) — What would you pony up for instant access to every book? Interesting insight into the value and utility of such a service.
Android’s Achilles Heel: The Sim Toolkit — Now if you live in the States, you might not even know what the STK is, so a bit of explaining is in order. Put simply, the STK allows carriers to load a simple set of menus and ‘applications’ on your SIM card. Again, on your fancy iPhone, you may question the need or purpose for such a thing, but that’s because you are still years behind and using a credit card. Here, where credit cards are virtually unknown, the present and future of payments is Mobile Money, which is almost always delivered via.. you guessed it, the STK.
Democratizing Design — AutoDesk partner with Ponoko and Techshop to allow anyone to design 3-D models, and then turn them into real-life products. Great to see this kind of small-run custom manufacturing heading toward the mainstream.