ReWalk Robotics Exoskeleton — first exoskeleton for the paralyzed to receive regulatory approval; 66 bought so far, 11 with reimbursement from insurance. The software upgrades for the ReWalk 6.0 provide a smoother walking gait (with less of a soldier-like marching step), an easier stopping mechanism, and a much-improved mode for ascending and descending stairs. The user wears a wristwatch-like controller to switch the suit between sit, stand, walk, and stair modes. How long until a cheaper version hits the market, but you don’t always get to control where it takes you if there’s a sale on featuring brands you love? (via IEEE)
I Heart Logs — I linked to Jay Kreps’s awesome blog post twice, and now he’s expanded it into a slim O’Reilly volume which I shall press into the hands of every engineer I meet. Have you heard the Good News?
BAP — Binary Analysis Platform from CMU. Translates binary into assembly and then into an intermediate language which explicitly represents the side effects of assembly instructions, such as flag computations.
Beyond the Stack (Mike Loukides) — tools and processes to support software developers who are as massively distributed as the code they build.
Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends 2014 (PDF) — the changes on slide 34 are interesting: usage moving away from G+/Facebook-style omniblather creepware and towards phonebook-based chat apps.
Introduction to Software Engineering Ethics (PDF) — amazing set of provocative questions and scenarios for software engineers about the decisions they made and consequences of their actions. From a course in ethics from SCU.
Open Government Data Online: Impenetrable (Guardian) — Too much knowledge gets trapped in multi-page pdf files that are slow to download (especially in low-bandwidth areas), costly to print, and unavailable for computer analysis until someone manually or automatically extracts the raw data.
How America’s Leading Science Fiction Authors are Shaping Your Future (Smithsonian) — SF writers create our dreams. “Techno-optimists have gone from thinking that cheap nuclear power would solve all our problems to thinking that unlimited computing power will solve all our problems,” says Ted Chiang, who has explored the nature of intelligence in works such as The Lifecycle of Software Objects. “But fiction about incredibly powerful computers doesn’t inspire people the same way that fiction about large-scale engineering did, because achievements in computing are both more abstract and more mundane.”
LibreSSL — OpenBSD take on OpenSSL. Unclear how sustainable this effort is, or how well adopted it will be. Competing with OpenSSL is obviously an alternative to tackling the OpenSSL sustainability question by funding and supporting the existing OpenSSL team.
Game Mechanic Explorer — helps learners by turning what they see in games into the simple code and math that makes it happen.
HMRC to Sell Taxpayers’ Data (The Guardian) — between this and the UK govt’s plans to sell patient healthcare data, it’s clear that the new government question isn’t whether data have value, but rather whether the collective has the right to retail the individual’s privacy.
Tindie Launches Open Designs and Kickbacks (Tindie) — businesses can manufacture the open design as is, or create products derived from it. Those sellers can then kickback a portion of their sales back to the designer. Tindie will handle the disbursement of funds so it’s absolutely painless. For designers, there are no fees, no hosting costs, just a simple way to reap the benefits of their hard work.
HackRF (Kickstarter) — an open source software-defined-radio platform to let you transmit or receive any radio signal from 30 MHz to 6000 MHz on USB power.
6 Technical Things I Learned About Bitcoin (Rusty Russell) — Anonymity is hard, but I was surprised to see blockchain.info’s page about my donation to Unfilter correctly geolocated to my home town! Perhaps it’s a fluke, but I was taken aback by how clear it was. Interesting collection of technical observations about the workings of Bitcoin.
Healthcare.gov New Web Model for Government (The Atlantic) — The new site has been built in public for months, iteratively created on Github using cutting edge open-source technologies. Healthcare.gov is the rarest of birds: a next-generation website that also happens to be a .gov.
Run That Town — SimCity for real cities, from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and using real census data. No mention of whether you can make your citizens shout “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!” after three cans of lager at an Aussie Rules game. (via John Birmingham)
Maintaining Focus (The Atlantic) — excellent Linda Stone interview. We may think that kids have a natural fascination with phones. Really, children have a fascination with what-ever Mom and Dad find fascinating. If they are fascinated by the flowers coming up in the yard, that’s what the children are going to find fascinating. And if Mom and Dad can’t put down the device with the screen, the child is going to think, That’s where it’s all at, that’s where I need to be! I interviewed kids between the ages of 7 and 12 about this. They said things like “My mom should make eye contact with me when she talks to me” and “I used to watch TV with my dad, but now he has his iPad, and I watch by myself.”
Networked Motion Sensors in Hospital Bathrooms (NY Times) — At North Shore University Hospital on Long Island, motion sensors, like those used for burglar alarms, go off every time someone enters an intensive care room. The sensor triggers a video camera, which transmits its images halfway around the world to India, where workers are checking to see if doctors and nurses are performing a critical procedure: washing their hands. […] the video monitoring program, run by a company called Arrowsight, has been adapted from the meat industry, where cameras track whether workers who skin animals — the hide can contaminate the meat — wash their hands, knives and electric cutters.
Reports of Exempt Organizations (Public Resource) — This service provides bulk access to 6,461,326 filings of exempt organizations to the Internal Revenue Service. Each month, we process DVDs from the IRS for Private Foundations (Type PF), Exempt Organizations (Type EO), and filings by both of those kinds of organizations detailing unrelated business income (Type T). The IRS should be making this publicly available on the Internet, but instead it has fallen to Carl Malamud to make it happen. (via BoingBoing)
OTD Lessons Learned v1 (PDF) — Dept of Defense report on use of open technologies. Advocates against forking open source projects, and provides specific guidance for groups looking to use OSS so they can navigate the military’s producement policies and procedures in a way that’ll deliver the best chance of success for the project. Imagine if only the manufacturer of a rifle were allowed to clean, fix, modify or upgrade that rifle. The military often finds itself in this position with taxpayer funded, contractor developed software: one contractor with a monopoly on the knowledge of a military software system and control of the software source code. (via John Scott)
A Liberating Betrayal (Simon Phipps) — Microsoft have told Digium (makers of Asterisk) that they can’t sell their Asterisk-Skype interaction module after July 26. Simon notes that this reveals the fundamental problem with “open core” approaches to open source business. The proprietary interests hold all the cards here. The community can’t just “rehost and carry on” because the crucial add-on is proprietary. Even if wasn’t, the protocol it’s implementing is proprietary and subject to arbitrary change – very likely to happen if anyone attempts to reverse-engineer the interface and protocol. Asterisk may be open source, but if you’re dependent on this interface to connect with your customers on Skype you’ve no freedoms – that’s the way “open core” works.
Zero Install — Zero Install is a decentralised cross-distribution software installation system. Just hit 1.0. (via James Williams)
The Internet of Things That Do What You Tell Them: Cory Doctorow passionately explains how computers are already entwined in our lives, which means laws that support lock-in are much more than inconveniences.