"Internet" entries

Four short links: 30 October 2012

Four short links: 30 October 2012

Sandy's Latency, Better Buttons, Inside Chargers, and Hidden Warranties

  1. Fastly’s S3 Latency MonitorThe graph represents real-time response latency for Amazon S3 as seen by Fastly’s Ashburn, VA edge server. I’ve been watching #sandy’s effect on the Internet in real-time, while listening to its effect on people in real-time. Amazing.
  2. Button Upgrade (Gizmodo) — elegant piece of button design, for sale on Shapeways.
  3. Inside a Dozen USB Chargers — amazing differences in such seemingly identical products. I love the comparison between genuine and counterfeit Apple chargers. (via Hacker News)
  4. Why Products Fail (Wired) — researcher scours the stock market filings of publicly-listed companies to extract information about warranties. Before, even information like the size of the market—how much gets paid out each year in warranty claims—was a mystery. Nobody, not analysts, not the government, not the companies themselves, knew what it was. Now Arnum can tell you. In 2011, for example, basic warranties cost US manufacturers $24.7 billion. Because of the slow economy, this is actually down, Arnum says; in 2007 it was around $28 billion. Extended warranties—warranties that customers purchase from a manufacturer or a retailer like Best Buy—account for an estimated $30.2 billion in additional claims payments. Before Arnum, this $60 billion-a-year industry was virtually invisible. Another hidden economy revealed. (via BoingBoing)
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What I learned about #debates, social media and being a pundit on Al Jazeera English

Why I'll be turning off the Net and tuning in to the final presidential debate.

The Stream - Al Jazeera EnglishEarlier this month, when I was asked by Al Jazeera English if I’d like to be go on live television to analyze the online side of the presidential debates, I didn’t immediately accept. I’d be facing a live international audience at a moment of intense political interest, without a great wealth of on-air training. That said, I felt honored to be asked by Al Jazeera. I’ve been following the network’s steady evolution over the past two decades, building from early beginnings during the first Gulf War to its current position as one of the best sources of live coverage and hard news from the Middle East. When Tahrir Square was at the height of its foment during the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera was livestreaming it online to the rest of the world.

I’ve been showing a slide in a presentation for months now that features Al Jazeera’s “The Stream” as a notable combination of social media, online video and broadcast journalism since its inception.

So, by and large, the choice was clear: say “yes,” and then figure out how to do a good job.

Read more…

Comments: 4
Four short links: 9 October 2012

Four short links: 9 October 2012

ID-based Democracy, Web Documentation, American Telco Gouging, and Stats Cookbook

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Why Your Phone, Cable, Internet Bills Cost So Much (Yahoo) — “The companies essentially have a business model that is antithetical to economic growth,” he says. “Profits go up if they can provide slow Internet at super high prices.” Excellent piece!
  4. 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.
Comment: 1
Four short links: 5 October 2012

Four short links: 5 October 2012

Robocopyright, OECD Numbers, Half Of Which Are Probably Wrong, Science Incubator

  1. Improving Content ID (YouTube) — finally they’re adding some human intervention to lower the number of false positives.
  2. OECD’s Internet Economy Outlook (OECD) — lots of stats, from growth of streaming media to crime and EHRs. This caught my eye: In 2010, on average, 35% of all businesses with ten or more persons employed used the Internet for purchasing, and only 18% for selling goods and services.
  3. Half Of What You Know Is FalseThe field of scientometrics – the science of measuring and analyzing science – took off in 1947 when mathematician Derek J. de Solla Price was asked to store a complete set of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society temporarily in his house. He stacked them in order and he noticed that the height of the stacks fit an exponential curve. Price started to analyze all sorts of other kinds of scientific data and concluded in 1960 that scientific knowledge had been growing steadily at a rate of 4.7 percent annually since the 17th century. The upshot was that scientific data was doubling every 15 years.
  4. Catalyst Grants — Macmillan’s Digital Science incubator.
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Four short links: 3 October 2012

Four short links: 3 October 2012

Military Open Source, State of Internet, Visualizing Budgets, and Hacking Your iDevice

  1. Mil-OSS 4 — 4th military open source software working group conference, in Rosslyn VA. Oct 15-17. Tutorials and sessions will cover: Linux, Geospatial, LiDAR, Drupal, cloud, OSS policy and law, Android and many other topics. The last day will have a 1/2 day unconference for up-and-coming issues.
  2. State of Internet Slides (Business Insider) — Apple could buy Disney using cash at hand. Boggle. This presentation has plenty of numbers for those who like them.
  3. See Penny Work — an open source (GPLv2) toolkit for budget visualizations, from Code For America. (via Tim O’Reilly)
  4. libimobiledevice — LGPLed open source library which talks the protocols to support iPhone®, iPod Touch®, iPad® and Apple TV® devices. Unlike other projects, it does not depend on using any existing proprietary libraries and does not require jailbreaking. It allows other software to easily access the device’s filesystem, retrieve information about the device and it’s internals, backup/restore the device, manage SpringBoard® icons, manage installed applications, retrieve addressbook/calendars/notes and bookmarks and (using libgpod) synchronize music and video to the device. Runs on Linux, OS X, and Windows.
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Four short links: 20 September 2012

Four short links: 20 September 2012

Distributing Content, Effective Project Dictatorship, Ubiquitous Hardware, Wheelcasts

  1. The Shape of the Internet Has Changed98 percent of internet traffic now consists of content that can be stored on servers. 45% of Internet traffic today is from CDNs, and a handful of them at that, which makes CDNs like Artur Bergman’s fastly super-important. (via Donald Clark)
  2. Be a Good Dictator (Rowan Simpson) — There is no shortage of advice online about how to be a good designer or a good software developer. But what about advice for those who aspire to be good product dictators? Guidance seems pretty thin on the ground. […] Being a deep expert in just one area is not enough for good dictators. You need to be a polymath living at an intersection.
  3. Hardware is Dead7-inch tablet, Wi-Fi only with all the attributes of a good tablet. Capacitive touchscreen. Snappy processor. Front facing camera. 4GB of internal memory and an expandable memory slot. for USD75. At these levels there is almost no profit margin left in the hardware business. A $45 tablet is cheap enough to be an impulse purchase at the check-out line in Best Buy. A $45 price puts tablets within reach of a whole host of other activities not traditionally associated with computers. (via Steve Bowbrick)
  4. Car Transmissions and Syncromesh (YouTube) — cheesy old Chevy educational movie that does a great job of explaining how manual transmissions work. Such videos were the screencasts for the auto DIY folks. (via Nat Friedman)
Comment: 1
Four short links: 27 August 2012

Four short links: 27 August 2012

Broadband Data, Being Evil, DIY Access Control, and In-Place Web Page Editing

  1. International Broadband Pricing Study Dataset for Reuse3,655 fixed and mobile broadband retail price observations, with fixed broadband pricing data for 93 countries and mobile broadband pricing data for 106 countries.
  2. The Dictator’s Practical Internet Guide to Power Retention — tongue-in-cheek “The goal of this guide is to provide leaders of authoritarian, autocratic, theocratic, totalitarian and other single-leader or single-party regimes with a basic set of guidelines on how to use the internet to ensure you retain the most power for the longest time. The best way to achieve this is to never have your authority contested. This guide will accompany you in the obliteration of political dissidence. By having everyone agree with you, or believe that everyone agrees with you, your stay at the head of state will be long and prosperous.” (via BoingBoing)
  3. Ultra Cinnamon (GitHub) — arduino-based monitor & access system for restricted locations.
  4. CKEditor Beta 4 Out — moving to Github, added inline editing. (via Javascript Weekly)
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Usain Bolt and steroids

I’m guilty of the Original Sin of the Internet: mistaking truthiness for truth.

A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth has its boots on.Abraham LincolnShakespeareWinston ChurchillMark Twain

TL;DR: the Internet is full of myth, truth is buried in truthiness, objective reality may itself be a convenient fiction, we are all lost souls wandering in a desert of fabulation and mystery, but Usain Bolt’s coach is not a steroid pusher. Also, how do you decide which links to share?

Yesterday I tweeted a link which wasn’t true, about Usain Bolt and steroids. This shouldn’t be earth-shattering news, that a factual basis isn’t a prerequisite for virality, but I wanted to deconstruct my mistake to learn from it.

Most of the replies I got to the tweet were of the “ugh, how depressing” variety, because it played to the sense that this man’s abnormal accomplishments were unnatural. However, I was contacted by David Epstein of Sports Illustrated after an umptyzillion people had retweeted the link:

When asked, David was kind enough to provide a citation to an NBC story: Linking of Usain Bolt to Admitted Steroid Dealer Completely False.

(Note that the 4:1 testosterone ratios, the doping cycle, and other background on performance enhancing drugs in the original article are true; it’s the specific claim about Bolt’s coach that’s fiction)

I’m guilty of the Original Sin of the Internet: mistaking truthiness for truth.

A greater sin, however, would be failing to learn from mistakes. So, what did I do, how can I do better next time, and how will I make it right?

Read more…

Comments: 20
Four short links: 3 August 2012

Four short links: 3 August 2012

CV Camouflage, Best Practices, Failure Conference, and Fiber Lessons

  1. Urban Camouflage WorkshopMost of the day was spent crafting urban camouflage intended to hide the wearer from the Kinect computer vision system. By the end of the workshop we understood how to dress to avoid detection for the three different Kinect formats. (via Beta Knowledge)
  2. Starting a Django Project The Right Way (Jeff Knupp) — I wish more people did this: it’s not enough to learn syntax these days. Projects live in a web of best practices for source code management, deployment, testing, and migrations.
  3. FailCona one-day conference for technology entrepreneurs, investors, developers and designers to study their own and others’ failures and prepare for success. Figure out how to learn from failures—they’re far more common than successes. (via Krissy Mo)
  4. Google Fiber in the Real World (Giga Om) — These tests show one of the limitations of Google’s Fiber network: other services. Since Google Fiber is providing virtually unheard of speeds for their subscribers, companies like Apple and I suspect Hulu, Netflix and Amazon will need to keep up. Are you serving DSL speeds to fiber customers? (via Jonathan Brewer)
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Four short links: 6 June 2012

Four short links: 6 June 2012

Lagging Latency, Don't Take the Extra Cookie, Amazon's Print Plans, and Maker Schools

  1. Why Latency Lags Bandwidth (PDF) — across disk, memory, and networking we see bandwidth growing faster than latency comes down. This paper covers why and what we can do about it. (via Ryan Dahl)
  2. Michael Lewis’s Princeton Commencement Speech — a subtle variation on “work on stuff that matters” that I simply love. Commencement speeches fly around this time of the year, but this one is actually worth reading.
  3. The Amazon Effect (The Nation) — Readers of e-books are especially drawn to escapist and overtly commercial genres (romance, mysteries and thrillers, science fiction), and in these categories e-book sales have bulked up to as large as 60 percent. […] Amazon swiftly struck an alliance with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to handle placing its books in physical stores. In a transparent subterfuge aimed at protecting its tax-avoidance strategies, Amazon intends to publish many of its books under a subsidiary imprint of Houghton’s called New Harvest, thus keeping alive the increasingly threadbare fiction that it has no physical presence in states where it does business online. I did not know these things. (via Jim Stogdill)
  4. Learn by Doing (Slate) — Dale Dougherty’s excellent call to arms to turn away from zombie-producing standardised test classes to learning by making real things. The empty campus on test day horrified me.
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