Malignant Computation — The bitcoin mining network would work just as well if it had far less computation devoted to it. Bitcoins would be mined at exactly the same rate if 1/2 or 1/4 of the computational resources were devoted. This means that bitcoin has incentivized a tremendous amount of computational busy work.
GDS Becomes Political (Computer Weekly) — She [Opposition MP] said that digital should not be about imposing a way of working on the public sector – Labour is not fond of the “digital by default” mantra – but about supporting public service delivery. [...] “When this government decided upon the digitalisation of this [online job search] service they apparently did not take into account those with poor literacy skills, mental health issues or learning difficulties – who, as most people would have predicted, make up a higher-than-average proportion of the unemployed.”
streamtools (Github) — a graphical toolkit for dealing with streams of data. Streamtools makes it easy to explore, analyse, modify and learn from streams of data. (via OpenNews)
nitrous.io — IDE “in the cloud”, as “the kids” say.
smartHeadlight — headlight that tracks raindrops and doesn’t send out light to reflect off them back into your eyes causing you to clutch your head and veer off the road into the parking lot of a Hooters to which your wife will NOT enjoy being called to tow your VERY SORRY HONEY ass home. Thank heavens science can save us from this awful hypothetical scenario. (via Greg Linden)
Knight Funds outline.io — it’s a public policy simulator that helps people visualize the impact that public policies like health care reform and school budget changes might have on local economies and communities. Simulators are hugely underused way to get public to understand policy debate. (via Julie Starr)
Housing Simulator — NZ’s largest city is consulting on its growth plan, and includes a simulator so you can decide where the growth to house the hundreds of thousands of predicted residents will come from. Reminds me of NPR’s Budget Hero. Notice that none of the levers control immigration or city taxes to make different cities attractive or unattractive. Growth is a given and you’re left trying to figure out which green fields to pave.
Converting To and From Google Map Tile Coordinates in PostGIS (Pete Warden) — Google Maps’ system of power-of-two tiles has become a defacto standard, widely used by all sorts of web mapping software. I’ve found it handy to use as a caching scheme for our data, but the PostGIS calls to use it were getting pretty messy, so I wrapped them up in a few functions.Code on github.
So You Want to Build A Connected Sensor Device? (Google Doc) — The purpose of this document is to provide an overview of infrastructure, options, and tradeoffs for the parts of the data ecosystem that deal with generating, storing, transmitting, and sharing data. In addition to providing an overview, the goal is to learn what the pain points are, so we can address them. This is a collaborative document drafted for the purpose of discussion and contribution at Sensored Meetup #10. (via Rachel Kalmar)
VizCities Dev Diary — step-by-step recount of how they brought London’s data to life, SimCity-style.
Google Fibre Isn’t That Impressive — For [gigabit broadband] to become truly useful and necessary, we’ll need to see a long-term feedback loop of utility and acceptance. First, super-fast lines must allow us to do things that we can’t do with the pedestrian internet. This will prompt more people to demand gigabit lines, which will in turn invite developers to create more apps that require high speed, and so on. What I discovered in Kansas City is that this cycle has not yet begun. Or, as Ars Technica put it recently, “The rest of the internet is too slow for Google Fibre.”
gov.uk Recommendations on Open Source — Use open source software in preference to proprietary or closed source alternatives, in particular for operating systems, networking software, Web servers, databases and programming languages.
Internet Bad Neighbourhoods (PDF) — bilingual PhD thesis. The idea behind the Internet Bad Neighborhood concept is that the probability of a host in behaving badly increases if its neighboring hosts (i.e., hosts within the same subnetwork) also behave badly. This idea, in turn, can be exploited to improve current Internet security solutions, since it provides an indirect approach to predict new sources of attacks (neighboring hosts of malicious ones).
Kenya’s Treasury to tax M-Pesa — 10% tax on mobile money-transfer systems. M-Pesa is the largest mobile money transfer service provider in Kenya, with more than 14 million subscribers. [...] It is estimated that M-Pesa reports some 2 million transactions per day. [...] the value of money transferred through mobile platforms jumped by 41 per cent in the first six months of 2012. Neer mind fighting you, you know you’re winning when they tax you! (via Evgeny Mozorov)
Digital Divide and Fibre Rollout — As the group of non-users gets smaller, they are likely to become more seriously disadvantaged. The NBN – and high-speed broadband more generally – will drive a wave of new applications across most areas of life, transforming Australia’s service economy in fundamental ways. Those who are not connected in 2015 may be fewer, but they will be missing out on far more – in education, health, government, commerce, communication and entertainment. The costs will also fall on service providers forced to keep supplying expensive physical and face-to-face services to this declining number of people. This will be particularly significant in remote communities, where health consultations and evacuations by flying doctors, nurses and allied health professionals could potentially be reduced through e-health diagnostics, and where Centrelink still regularly sends teams out to communities. As gov2 expands and services move online, connectivity disadvantages are compounded. (via Ellen Strickland)
Smart Body Smart World (Forrester) — take note of these two consequences of Internet of Things and Quantified Self: Verticals fuse: “Health and wellness” is not its own silo, but is connected to our finances, our shopping habits, our relationships. As bodies get connected, everyone is in the body business. Retail disperses: All retailers become computing retailers, and computing-specific retailers like Best Buy go the way of Blockbuster. You wouldn’t buy a smart toothbrush at a specialty CE store; you’d be more likely to buy it in the channel that solves the rest of your hygiene needs. (via Internet of Things)
Accountable Algorithms (Ed Felten) — When we talk about making an algorithmic public process open, we mean two separate things. First, we want transparency: the public knows what the algorithm is. Second, we want the execution of the algorithm to be accountable: the public can check to make sure that the algorithm was executed correctly in a particular case. Transparency is addressed by traditional open government principles; but accountability is different.
Finland Crowdsourcing New Laws (GigaOm) — online referenda. The Finnish government enabled something called a “citizens’ initiative”, through which registered voters can come up with new laws – if they can get 50,000 of their fellow citizens to back them up within six months, then the Eduskunta (the Finnish parliament) is forced to vote on the proposal. Now this crowdsourced law-making system is about to go online through a platform called the Open Ministry. Petitions and online voting are notoriously prone to fraud, so it will be interesting to see how well the online identity system behind this holds up.
WebPlatform — wiki of information about developing for the open web. Joint production of many of the $BIGCOs of the web and the W3C, so will be interesting to see, as it develops, whether it has the best aspects of each or the worst.
Probability and Statistics Cookbook (Matthias Vallentin) — The cookbook contains a succinct representation of various topics in probability theory and statistics. It provides a comprehensive reference reduced to the mathematical essence, rather than aiming for elaborate explanations. CC-BY-NC-SA licensed, LaTeX source on github.
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.
Business Intelligence on Farms — Machines keep track of all kinds of data about each cow, including the chemical properties of its milk, and flag when a particular cow is having problems or could be sick. The software can compare current data with historical patterns for the entire herd, and relate to weather conditions and other seasonal variations. Now a farmer can track his herd on his iPad without having to get out of bed, or even from another state. (via Slashdot)
Rethinking Robotics — $22k general purpose industrial robot. “‘It feels like a true Macintosh moment for the robot world,’ said Tony Fadell, the former Apple executive who oversaw the development of the iPod and the iPhone. Baxter will come equipped with a library of simple tasks, or behaviors — for example, a “common sense” capability to recognize it must have an object in its hand before it can move and release it.” (via David ten Have)
Shift Labs — Shift Labs makes low-cost medical devices for resource-limited settings. [Crowd]Fund the manufacture and field testing of the Drip Clip [...] a replacement for expensive pumps that dose fluid from IV bags.
NeoVictorian Computing (Mark Bernstein) — read this! I think we all woke up one day to find ourselves living in the software factory. The floor is hard, from time to time it gets very cold at night, and they say the factory is going to close and move somewhere else. [...] The Arts & Crafts movement failed in consumer goods, but it could succeed in software. (via James Governor)
Participatory Budgeting — research shows participation is more effective than penalties in taxation compliance. Participation is more effective than penalties in almost everything.
MIT-Developed Microthrusters — a flat, compact square — much like a computer chip — covered with 500 microscopic tips that, when stimulated with voltage, emit tiny beams of ions. Together, the array of spiky tips creates a small puff of charged particles that can help propel a shoebox-sized satellite forward. You say satellite, but it’s only a matter of time until this powers a DIY RC rocket with a camera payload. (via Hacker News)
Yelp Checkins to Measure Geopositioning Accuracy Across Phones — By analyzing millions of data points, we can easily see how, on average, different platforms perform. iPhones consistently have the most accurate positioning, with a fairly small accuracy radius. Android phones are often inaccurate, but reliably reported that inaccuracy. And finally, iPods using Wi-Fi positioning proved the least accurate and usually reported incorrect accuracy radii.