Nissan’s Self-Parking Office Chairs — clever hack, but thought-provoking: will we have an auto-navigating office chair before the self-driving auto revolution arrives? Because, you know, my day isn’t sedentary enough as it is …
The Man Behind the Robot Revolution — profile of the man behind Willow Garage. Why he and it are interesting: Although the now defunct research-lab-startup hybrid might not ring any bells to you now, it was one of the most influential forces in modern robotics. The freewheeling robot collective jump-started the current race to apply robotics components like computer vision, manipulation, and autonomy into applications for everything from drones and autonomous cars to warehouse operations at places like Google, Amazon, and car companies like BMW. Google alone acquired three of the robot companies spawned by Willow.
NSA’s Lousy Evaluation of Drone Strike Algorithm Effectiveness (Ars Technica) — vastly overstating the quality of the predictions. The 0.008% false positive rate would be remarkably low for traditional business applications. This kind of rate is acceptable where the consequences are displaying an ad to the wrong person, or charging someone a premium price by accident. However, even 0.008% of the Pakistani population still corresponds to 15,000 people potentially being misclassified as “terrorists” and targeted by the military—not to mention innocent bystanders or first responders who happen to get in the way. Security guru Bruce Schneier agreed. “Government uses of big data are inherently different from corporate uses,” he told Ars. “The accuracy requirements mean that the same technology doesn’t work. If Google makes a mistake, people see an ad for a car they don’t want to buy. If the government makes a mistake, they kill innocents.” (via Cory Doctorow)
Women in Science Fiction Bundle — pay-what-you-want bundle of SF written by women. SF shapes invention, but it’s often a future filled with square-jawed men and chiseled Space Desperados, with women relegated to incidental roles. And lo, the sci-tech industry evolved brogrammers. This bundle is a good start toward a cure. Dare to imagine a future where women are people, too. (via Cory Doctorow)
The Realities of a $50 Smartphone (Engadget) — it can be done, but it literally won’t be pretty. If this thought experiment has revealed anything, it’s that there’s no such thing as a profit in the Android world any more.
The Pocket Lab — a wireless sensor for smartphones that measures acceleration, force, angular velocity, magnetic field, pressure, altitude, and temperature.
A Conversation with Michael Lopp — My job is to my get myself out of a job. I’m aggressively pushing things I think I could be really good at and should actually maybe own to someone else who’s gonna get a B at it, but they’re gonna get the opportunity to go do that. […] Delegation is helping someone else to learn. I’m all about the humans. If I don’t have happy, productive, growing engineers, I have exactly no job. That investment in the growth, in the happiness, the engineers being productive, that’s like my primary job.
serve2d — serve2 allows you to serve multiple protocols on a single socket. Example handlers include proxy, HTTP, TLS (through which HTTPS is handled), ECHO and DISCARD. More can easily be added, as long as the protocol sends some data that can be recognized. The proxy handler allows you to redirect the connection to external services, such as OpenSSH or Nginx, in case you don’t want or can’t use a Go implementation.
GitXiv — In recent years, a highly interesting pattern has emerged: Computer scientists release new research findings on arXiv and just days later, developers release an open-source implementation on GitHub. This pattern is immensely powerful. One could call it collaborative open computer science (COCS). GitXiv is a space to share collaborative open computer science projects. Countless Github and arXiv links are floating around the Web. It’s hard to keep track of these gems. GitXiv attempts to solve this problem by offering a collaboratively curated feed of projects. Each project is conveniently presented as arXiv + Github + Links + Discussion
UK Government to Sell Its Students’ Data (Wired UK) — The National Pupil Database (NPD) contains detailed information about pupils in schools and colleges in England, including test and exam results, progression at each key stage, gender, ethnicity, pupil absence and exclusions, special educational needs, first language. The UK is becoming patient zero for national data self-harm.
It’s Insanely Easy to Hack Hospital Equipment (Wired) — Erven won’t identify specific product brands that are vulnerable because he’s still trying to get some of the problems fixed. But he said a wide cross-section of devices shared a handful of common security holes, including lack of authentication to access or manipulate the equipment; weak passwords or default and hardcoded vendor passwords like “admin” or “1234″; and embedded web servers and administrative interfaces that make it easy to identify and manipulate devices once an attacker finds them on a network.
Funders Punish Open Access Dodgers (Nature) — US’s NIH and UK’s Wellcome Trust are withholding funding from academics who haven’t released their data despite it being a condition of past funding. It’s open access’s grab twist and pull move.
Humans Steal Jobs from Robots at Toyota (Bloomberg) — Toyota’s next step forward is counter-intuitive in an age of automation: Humans are taking the place of machines in plants across Japan so workers can develop new skills and figure out ways to improve production lines and the car-building process.
Implementer’s Guide to Security for Internet of Things, Devices and Beyond (PDF) — This white paper outlines a set of practical and pragmatic security considerations for organisations designing, developing and, testing Internet of Things (IoT) devices and solutions. The purpose of this white paper is to provide practical advice for consideration as part of the product development lifecycle.
A Cyber Attack Against Israel Shut Down a Road — The hackers targeted the Tunnels’ camera system which put the roadway into an immediate lockdown mode, shutting it down for twenty minutes. The next day the attackers managed to break in for even longer during the heavy morning rush hour, shutting the entire system for eight hours. Because all that is digital melts into code, and code is an unsolved problem.
Random Decision Forests (PDF) — “Due to the nature of the algorithm, most Random Decision Forest implementations provide an extraordinary amount of information about the final state of the classifier and how it derived from the training data.” (via Greg Borenstein)
BITalino — 149 Euro microcontroller board full of physiological sensors: muscles, skin conductivity, light, acceleration, and heartbeat. A platform for healthcare hardware hacking?
Researchers Can Slip an Undetectable Trojan into Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPUs (Ars Technica) — The exploit works by severely reducing the amount of entropy the RNG normally uses, from 128 bits to 32 bits. The hack is similar to stacking a deck of cards during a game of Bridge. Keys generated with an altered chip would be so predictable an adversary could guess them with little time or effort required. The severely weakened RNG isn’t detected by any of the “Built-In Self-Tests” required for the P800-90 and FIPS 140-2 compliance certifications mandated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
rethinkdb — open-source distributed JSON document database with a pleasant and powerful query language.
Teach Kids Programming — a collection of resources. I start on Scratch much sooner, and 12+ definitely need the Arduino, but generally I agree with the things I recognise, and have a few to research …
Sparkey — Spotify’s open-sourced simple constant key/value storage library, for read-heavy systems with infrequent large bulk inserts.
The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling (Ted Chiang) — story about what happens when lifelogs become searchable. Now with Remem, finding the exact moment has become easy, and lifelogs that previously lay all but ignored are now being scrutinized as if they were crime scenes, thickly strewn with evidence for use in domestic squabbles. (via BoingBoing)
Why Textbooks Are So Broken (Salon) — Let’s say a publisher hires a developer for a certain low-bid fee to produce seven supplemental math books for grades 3-8. The product specs call for each student book and teacher guide to have page counts of roughly 100 pages and 80 pages, respectively. The publisher wants these seven books ready for press in five weeks—over 1,400 pages. To put this in perspective, in the not too recent past at least six months would be allotted for a project of this size. But publishers customarily shrink their deadlines to get a jump on the competition, especially in today’s math market. Unreasonable turnaround times are part of the new normal, something that almost guarantees a lack of quality right out of the gate.
exmobaby — wireless biosensor baby pyjamas send ECG, skin temperature, and movement data via Zigbee. (via Jo Komisarczuk)