- crackmes.de — practice playground for reverse engineering and breaking protections.
- Feeding Graph Databases — exploring using logging systems to feed graph databases.
- Lessig Interview (WSJ) — the slogan says regulation should be more technology neutral. I am not sure I ever heard a more idiotic statement in my life. There is no neutrality here, just different modes. … I don’t what think the law should say here is what services can do and not do, because the technology is so (fast-changing) the law could never catch up. But that what (we want) to avoid are certain kinds of business models, a prison of bits, where services leverage control over access to content and profit from that control over content.
- Bubble-Driven Pseudoscience — In terms of life extension, here are the real opportunities: closing the gap between black and white patients, lowering the infant mortality rate, and making sure the very poorest among us have access to adequate care. You can make sure that many people live longer, right now! But none of this is quite as sexy as living forever, even though it’s got a greater payoff for the nation as a whole. So instead of investing in these areas, you’ve got a bunch of old white men who are afraid to die trying to figure out cryonics.
Four short links: 31 December 2015
Reverse Engineering Playground, Feeding Graph Databases, Lessig, and Fantasies of Immortality
Four short links: 1 October 2015
Robot is Meaningless, Building Analytics, Real World Challenges, and Reclaiming Conversation
- The Word Robot is Meaningless and We Need to Stop Saying It — As more and more household tasks become automated, the number of robots in our lives is growing rapidly. And the rise of connected devices raises a thorny semantic question: namely, where does “automated process” stop and “robot” begin? Why is a factory machine that moves car parts considered a “robot,” but a Volkswagen with a much more sophisticated code base is just a Jetta?
- Building Analytics at 500px — An ETL script that has to turn messy production data into clean data warehouse data will naturally be extremely messy. Use a framework like Luigi or a tool like Informatica. These have well-known coding styles and constructs, and are also widely used. It will still be messy. But it will be comparable to known ways of doing ETL.
- Systems Computing Challenges in the Internet of Things — I love that while there are countless old institutions engaging consultants and writing strategies about “digital,” now there’s a white paper from a computer group fretting about the problems that the Real World will cause them. Maybe they should just choose the newspaper solution: the real world is just a fad, don’t worry, it’ll pass soon.
- Reclaiming Conversation (Review) (NY Times) — review of Sherry Turkle’s new book. When we replace human caregivers with robots, or talking with texting, we begin by arguing that the replacements are “better than nothing” but end up considering them “better than anything” — cleaner, less risky, less demanding.
Four short links: 29 June 2015
Surgery Lag, Clippy Lesson, Telegram Bots, and Censorship Complicity
- Surgery Lag Time (ComputerWorld) — doctors trialling very remote surgery (1200 miles) with a simulator, to see what naglag is acceptable. At 200 milliseconds, surgeons could not detect a lag time. From 300 to 500 milliseconds, some surgeons could detect lag time, but they were able to compensate for it by pausing their movement. But at 600 milliseconds, most surgeons became insecure about their ability to perform a procedure, Smith said.
- Clippy Lessons (The Atlantic) — focus groups showed women hated it, engineers threw out the data, and after it shipped … It turned out to be one of the most unpopular features ever introduced—especially among female users.
- Telegram’s Bot Platform — Bots are simply Telegram accounts operated by software – not people – and they’ll often have AI features. They can do anything – teach, play, search, broadcast, remind, connect, integrate with other services, or even pass commands to the Internet of Things. (via Matt Webb)
- New Wave of US Companies in China (Quartz) — Evernote and LinkedIn let the Chinese government access data and censor results. Smith believes that LinkedIn and Evernote are setting a dangerous precedent for other internet firms eying the Middle Kingdom. “More US companies are going to decide that treating the Chinese like second class information citizens is fine,” he says.
Four short links: 6 January 2015
IoT Protocols, Predictive Limits, Machine Learning and Security, and 3D-Printing Electronics
- Exploring the Protocols of the Internet of Things (Sparkfun) — Arduino and Arduino-like IoT “things” especially, with their limited flash and SRAM, can benefit from specially crafted IoT protocols.
- Complexity Salon: Ebola (willowbl00) — These notes were taken at the 2014.Dec.18 New England Complex Systems Institute Salon focused on Ebola. […] Why don’t we engage in risks in a more serious way? Everyone thinks their prior experience indicates what will happen in the future. Look at past Ebola! It died down before going far, surely it won’t be bad in the future.
- Machine Learning Methods for Computer Security (PDF) — papers on topics such as adversarial machine learning, attacking pattern recognition systems, data privacy and machine learning, machine learning in forensics, and deceiving authorship detection.
- voxel8 — Using Voxel8’s 3D printer, you can co-print matrix materials such as thermoplastics and highly conductive silver inks enabling customized electronic devices like quadcopters, electromagnets and fully functional 3D electromechanical assemblies.
Four short links: 5 November 2014
Robotic Microscallops, Fluid Touch, Brackets 1.0, and Robot Bodies
- Swimming Robotic Microscallops (Nature) — blood, and indeed most of the internal fluids, is non-Newtonian, which works nicely with the simple reciprocating motion that basic robot actuators generate. Best headline and readable coverage in IEEE, and the best headline: Robotic Microscallops Can Swim Through Your Eyeballs.
- Eliminating Taps with Fluid Touch Gestures (Luke Wroblewski) — every tap powers Hitler’s war machine! Swipe and hold for Victory today!
- Poppy — open source 3D-printed robot, built to encourage experimentation with robot morphologies (“bodies”). (via Robohub)
Four short links: 29 October 2014
Tweet Parsing, Focus and Money, Challenging Open Data Beliefs, and Exploring ISP Data
- TweetNLP — CMU open source natural language parsing tools for making sense of Tweets.
- Interview with Google X Life Science’s Head (Medium) — I will have been here two years this March. In nineteen months we have been able to hire more than a hundred scientists to work on this. We’ve been able to build customized labs and get the equipment to make nanoparticles and decorate them and functionalize them. We’ve been able to strike up collaborations with MIT and Stanford and Duke. We’ve been able to initiate protocols and partnerships with companies like Novartis. We’ve been able to initiate trials like the baseline trial. This would be a good decade somewhere else. The power of focus and money.
- Schooloscope Open Data Post-Mortem — The case of Schooloscope and the wider question of public access to school data challenges the belief that sunlight is the best disinfectant, that government transparency would always lead to better government, better results. It challenges the sentiments that see data as value-neutral and its representation as devoid of politics. In fact, access to school data exposes a sharp contrast between the private interest of the family (best education for my child) and the public interest of the government (best education for all citizens).
- M-Lab Observatory — explorable data on the data experience (RTT, upload speed, etc) across different ISPs in different geographies over time.
Change is hard. Adherence is harder.
How do we motivate sustained behavior change when the external motivation disappears—like it's supposed to?
If you’ve ever tried to count calories, go on a diet, start a new exercise program, change your sleep patterns, spend less time sitting, or make any other type of positive health change, then you know how difficult it is to form new habits. New habits usually require a bit of willpower to get going, and we all know that that’s a scarce resource. (Or at least, a limited one.)
Change is hard. But the real challenge comes after you’ve got a new routine going—because now you’ve got to keep it going, even though your original motivations to change may no longer apply. Why keep dieting when you no longer need to lose weight? We’ve all had the idea at some point that we really should reward ourselves for that five-pound weight loss with a cupcake, right?
Four short links: 25 February 2014
MtGox Go Boom, Flappy Bird, Air Hockey Hack, and Robo Lab
- Bitcoin Markets Down — value of bitcoins plunges as market uncertain after largest bitcoin exchange goes insolvent after losing over 750k bitcoins because they didn’t update their software after a flaw was discovered in the signing of transactions.
- Flappy Bird for the Commodore 64 — the 1980s games platform meets the 2014 game. cf the machine learning hack where the flappy bird learns to play the game successfully.
- Air Hockey Robot — awesome hack.
- Run 30 Lab Tests on Only One Drop of Blood — automated lab processing to remove the human error in centrifuging, timing, etc. that added to variability of results.
The Challenge of Health Data Security
When the death of trust meets the birth of BYOD
Dr. Andrew Litt, Chief Medical Officer at Dell, made a thoughtful blog post last week about the trade-offs inherent in designing for both the security and accessibility of medical data, especially in an era of BYOD (bring your own device) and the IoT (internet of things). As we begin to see more internet-enabled diagnostic and monitoring devices, Litt writes, “The Internet of Things (no matter what you think of the moniker), is related to BYOD in that it could, depending on how hospitals set up their systems, introduce a vast array of new access points to the network. … a very scary thought when you consider the sensitivity of the data that is being transmitted.”
As he went on to describe possible security solutions (e.g., store all data in central servers rather than on local devices), I was reminded of a post my colleague Simon St.Laurent wrote last fall about “security after the death of trust.” In the wake of some high-profile security breaches, including news of NSA activities, St.Laurent says, we have a handful of options when it comes to data security—and you’re not going to like any of them.