Checking Up on Dataflow Analyses — notable for a very easy-to-follow introduction to what dataflow analysis is. Long after the chatbot startups have flamed out, formal methods research in CS will be a key part of the next wave of software where code writes code.
Fair Use Triumphs in Supreme Court (Ars Technica) — a headline I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. The Supreme Court let stand the lower court opinion that rejected the writers’ claims. That decision today means Google Books won’t have to close up shop or ask book publishers for permission to scan. In the long run, the ruling could inspire other large-scale digitization projects.
The Secret History of Internet Moderators (The Verge) — the horrors and trauma of the early folks who developed content moderation systems (filtering violence, porn, child abuse, etc.) for Facebook, YouTube, and other user-contributed-content sites. It’s still a quiet and under-supported area of most startups. Some of them now meet roughly monthly for dinner, and I’m kinda glad I’m not around the table for that conversation!
Old-School PC Fonts — definitive collection of ripped-from-the-BIOS fonts from the various types of PCs. Your eyes will ache with nostalgia. (Or, if you’re a young gun, wondering how anybody wrote code with fonts like that) (my terminal font is VT220 because it makes me happy and productive)
Cognitive Load: Brain Gems — We distill the latest behavioural economics & consumer psychology research down into helpful little brain gems.
SLOTH — weak hash functions continue to be used in various cryptographic constructions within mainstream protocols such as TLS, IKE, and SSH, because practitioners argue that their use in these protocols relies only on second preimage resistance, and hence is unaffected by collisions. We systematically investigate and debunk this argument.
DFW Home of Body Modding — Dallas is at the center of two movements that are each trying to bring implants to the mainstream. Tattoo artists and technophiles head one, and well-heeled university neurologists and medical device engineers form the vanguard of the other.
On the Dangers of a Blockchain Monoculture — Would you use a database with these features? Uses approximately the same amount of electricity as could power an average American household for a day per transaction; Supports 3 transactions / second across a global network with millions of CPUs/purpose-built ASICs; Takes over 10 minutes to “commit” a transaction; […]
Core Bitcoin Devs Leave — According to a press release put out by Company 0 LLC, formed by former bitcoin developers, there are a few external entities that fund the actual development of the bitcoin cryptocurrency, forming a power-group that is in sole command of the direction the currency takes. These developers say that this group limits outside input in the currency’s governance, cherry-picks only options favorable for their own interests, and generally ignores the developers’ and community’s best interests.
Internet of Proprietary Things — wonderfully accessible list of things we don’t have: Because companies can enforce anti-competitive behavior this way, there’s a litany of things that just don’t exist, even though they would make life easier for consumers in significant ways. You can’t have custom software for your cochlear implant, or your programmable thermostat, or your computer-enabled Barbie doll. An auto-repair shop can’t design a better diagnostic system that interfaces with a car’s computers. Capturing all the value you create, versus creating more value than you capture.
Tracing the Dynabook — a historical study of the Dynabook project and vision, which began as a blue-sky project to define personal and educational computing at Xerox PARC in the 1970s. It traces the idea through the three intervening decades, noting the transformations that occur as the vision and its artifacts meet varying contexts. (via Bret Victor)
Maltrail — a malicious traffic detection system, utilizing publicly available (black)lists containing malicious and/or generally suspicious trails, along with static trails compiled from various AV reports and custom user defined lists[…]. Also, it has (optional) advanced heuristic mechanisms that can help in discovery of unknown threats (e.g. new malware). (via Nick Galbreath)
C History — Dennis Ritchie’s 1993 notes on the history of the C programming language explains the origins of a.out and arrays as pointers, and has a reminder of how tight those systems were: Of the 24K bytes of memory on the machine, the earliest PDP-11 Unix system used 12K bytes for the operating system, a tiny space for user programs, and the remainder as a RAM disk.
Zero Latency — immersive gaming with Oculus headsets. Detailed and positive.
Six Degrees of Francis Bacon — recreates the British early modern social network to trace the personal relationships among figures like Bacon, Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, and many others. (via CMU)
Last Bus Startup Standing (TechCrunch) — Vahabzadeh stressed that a key point of Chariot’s survival has been that the company has been above-board with the law from day one. “They haven’t cowboy-ed it,” said San Francisco supervisor Scott Wiener, a mass transit advocate who recently pushed for a master subway plan for the city. “They’ve been good about taking feedback and making sure they’re complying with the law. I’m a fan and think that private transportation options and rideshares have a significant role to play in making us a transit-first city.”
Mobile App Developers are Suffering — the top 20 app publishers, representing less than 0.005% of all apps, earn 60% of all app store revenue. The article posits causes of the particularly extreme power law.
50 Years of Data Science (PDF) — Because all of science itself will soon become data that can be mined, the imminent revolution in Data Science is not about mere “scaling up,” but instead the emergence of scientific studies of data analysis science-wide.
HyperCam (PDF) — paper from Ubicomp 2015 on a low-cost implementation of a multispectral camera and a software approach that automatically analyzes the scene and provides a user with an optimal set of images that try to capture the salient information of the scene. Can see ripeness of fruit, and veins in hands.
Software Developers’ Perceptions of Productivity — In both studies, we found that developers perceive their days as productive when they complete many or big tasks without significant interruptions or context switches. Yet, the observational data we collected shows our participants performed significant task and activity switching while still feeling productive. (via Never Work in Theory)
The Language of Choice — In the ’50s John McCarthy invented conditional expressions. Utility computing, AI, Lisp, and now what I know as C’s ?: syntax. His legend lives on.
Computer Science Courses that Don’t Exist, But Should (James Hague) — CSCI 3300: Classical Software Studies. Discuss and dissect historically significant products, including VisiCalc, AppleWorks, Robot Odyssey, Zork, and MacPaint. Emphases are on user interface and creativity fostered by hardware limitations.
Bricklaying Robot Lays 3x Speed of Humans (MIT TR) — The robot can correct for the differences between theoretical building specifications and what’s actually on site, says Scott Peters, co-founder of Construction Robotics, a company based in Victor, New York, that designed SAM as its debut product. (via Audrey Watters)
When a Photo Ends Your Security (Bruce Schneier) — the TSA’s master key was shown in a Washington Post photo spread, so now it can be recreated from the photo.
Online Security Braces for Quantum Revolution (Nature) — PQCRYPTO, a European consortium of quantum-cryptography researchers in academia and industry, released a preliminary report on 7 September recommending cryptographic techniques that are resistant to quantum computers […] It favoured the McEliece system, which has resisted attacks since 1978, for public-key cryptography.
The New Wave is Garbage Subtracted (Adam Trachtenberg) — Adam found some amazingly prescient writing from Esther Dyson. The new wave is not value-added; it’s garbage-subtracted. The job of the future is PR guy, not journalist. I’m too busy reading, so why should I pay for more things to read? Anything anyone didn’t pay to send to me…I’m not going to read.