Pharmacovigilance — Signals from The Crowd (PDF) — in the NY Times’ words: Using automated software tools to examine queries by 6 million Internet users taken from Web search logs in 2010, the researchers looked for searches relating to an antidepressant, paroxetine, and a cholestorol lowering drug, pravastatin. They were able to find evidence that the combination of the two drugs caused high blood sugar. (via New York Times)
A New Basis for Copyright — NZ’s most technically-literate judge floats an idea for how copyright might be reimagined in a more useful way for the modern age by considering it in terms of human rights. Perhaps there should be consideration of a new copyright model that recognises content user rights against a backdrop of the right to receive and impart information and a truly balanced approach to information and expression that recognises that ideas expressed are building blocks for new ideas. Underpinning this must be a recognition on the part of content owners that the properties of new technologies dictate our responses, our behaviours, our values and our ways of thinking. These should not be seen as a threat but an opportunity. It cannot be a one-way street with traffic heading only in the direction dictated by content owners.
Steve Mann: My Augmediated Life (IEEE) — Until recently, most people tended to regard me and my work with mild curiosity and bemusement. Nobody really thought much about what this technology might mean for society at large. But increasingly, smartphone owners are using various sorts of augmented-reality apps. And just about all mobile-phone users have helped to make video and audio recording capabilities pervasive. Our laws and culture haven’t even caught up with that. Imagine if hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people had video cameras constantly poised on their heads. If that happens, my experiences should take on new relevance.
CA Assembly Bill No. 292 — This bill would provide that the full text of the California Code of Regulations shall bear an open access creative commons attribution license, allowing any individual, at no cost, to use, distribute, and create derivative works based on the material for either commercial or noncommercial purposes. (via BoingBoing)
The Inside Story of PACER (Ars Technica) — PACER has become a cash cow for the judicial branch, generating $100 million in profits the court has plowed into non-PACER IT projects. (via BoingBoing)
Manipulating Memory for Fun and Profit (PDF) — It is a common belief that RAM loses its content as soon as the power is down. This is wrong, RAM is not immediately erased. It may take up to several minutes in a standard environment, even if the RAM is removed from the computer. And it may last much longer if you cool the DRAM chips. With a simple dusty spraying at -50°C, your RAM data can survive more that 10 minutes. If you cool the chips at -196°C with liquid nitrogen, data are held for several hours without any power.
FISA Amendment Hits Non-Citizens — FISAAA essentially makes it lawful for the US to conduct purely political surveillance on foreigners’ data accessible in US Cloud providers. [...] [A] US judiciary subcommittee on FISAAA in 2008 stated that the Fourth Amendment has no relevance to non-US persons. Americans, think about how you’d feel keeping your email, CRM, accounts, and presentations on Russian or Chinese servers given the trust you have in those regimes. That’s how the rest of the world feels about American-provided services. Which jurisdiction isn’t constantly into invasive snooping, yet still has great bandwidth?
Tim Berners-Lee Opposes Government Snooping — “The whole thing seems to me fraught with massive dangers and I don’t think it’s a good idea,” he said in reply to a question about the Australian government’s data retention plan.
Google’s Approach to Government Requests for Information (Google Blog) — they’ve raised the dialogue about civil liberties by being so open about the requests for information they receive. Telcos and banks still regard these requests as a dirty secret that can’t be talked about, whereas Google gets headlines in NPR and CBS for it.
Open Internet Tools Project — supports and incubates a collection of free and open source projects that enable anonymous, secure, reliable, and unrestricted communication on the Internet. Its goal is to enable people to talk directly to each other without being censored, surveilled or restricted.
Design Like Nobody’s Patenting Anything (Wired) — profile of Maker favourites Sparkfun. Instead of relying on patents for protection, the team prefers to outrace other entrants in the field. “The open source model just forces us to innovate,” says Boudreaux. “When we release something, we’ve got to be thinking about the next rev. We’re doing engineering and innovating and it’s what we wanna be doing and what we do well.”
Agree to Agree — why I respect my friend David Wheeler: his Design Scene app, which features daily design inspiration, obtains prior written permission to feature the sites because doing so is not only making things legally crystal clear, but also makes his intentions clear to the sites he’s linking to. He’s shared the simple license they request.
The Coming Fight Between Druids and Engineers (The Edge) — We live in a time when the loneliest place in any debate is the middle, and the argument over technology’s role in our future is no exception. The relentless onslaught of novelties technological and otherwise is tilting individuals and institutions alike towards becoming Engineers or Druids. It is a pressure we must resist, for to be either a Druid or an Engineer is to be a fool. Druids can’t revive the past, and Engineers cannot build technologies that do not carry hidden trouble. (via Beta Knowledge)
Reimagining Math Textbooks (Dan Meyer) — love this outline of how a textbook could meaningfully interact with students, rather than being recorded lectures or PDF versions of cyclostyled notes and multichoice tests. Rather than using a generic example to illustrate a mathematical concept, we use the example you created. We talk about its perimeter. We talk about its area. The diagrams in the margins change. The text in the textbook changes.Check it out — they actually built it!
Amazon’s Product Development Technique — the product manager should keep iterating on the press release until they’ve come up with benefits that actually sound like benefits. Iterating on a press release is a lot less expensive than iterating on the product itself (and quicker!). (via Fast Company)
Lamps (BERG London) — design notes from a project Google did with BERG a year ago. I treat these like backstory in a novel or film: you see a little bit, but the author has imagined a complex history and world that you only see the consequences of. Similarly, BERG spend a long time making complex stories behind the simple objects and interactions they design.
How AH Evaluates CEOs (Ben Horowitz) — my experience backs this up 150% percent. Filed under “stuff I wish I’d known a decade ago”.
Copyright Hardliners Adopt the Language of Reform — Sadly, in the end, Barnier’s “copyright fit for the Internet age” looks depressingly like the current, dysfunctional version: one based on a non-existent scarcity, on treating the public as passive consumers, and on pursuing unachievable enforcement goals with ever-harsher punishments.
Mars and Sleep in Air New Zealand Flights (Idealog) — Air New Zealand in-flight entertainment to include advertisements for Martian timeshares and relaxing music set to a slow continuous shot along a New Zealand country road. Beats the hell out of the Nashville Top 20 channel and that gloaty “still many more hours to go!” map.
Google Drones Target Poachers (World Wildlife Fund) — that’s not the real message of this piece, announcing Google has given a $5M grant to WWF to use technology to protect animals, but that’s the vision I have. I look forward to being able to switch on the reticule on Google Savannah View and smoke a few poachers straight from my phone’s maps app.
Turing Complete User — General Purpose Users can write an article in their e-mail client, layout their business card in Excel and shave in front of a web cam. They can also find a way to publish photos online without flickr, tweet without twitter, like without facebook, make a black frame around pictures without instagram, remove a black frame from an instagram picture and even wake up at 7:00 without a “wake up at 7:00” app. [... They are] users who have the ability to achieve their goals regardless of the primary purpose of an application or device. (via BoingBoing)
Bootstrap Live Editor — a WYSIWYG HTML5 Editor built for Bootstrap. It offers a nice and elegant way to edit and beautify html content with Bootstrap-ready UI elements. I love how Bootstrap has become this framework for simpler website creation. I’m just disappointed they’re all startups chasing $ instead of being open source infrastructure.
DCMA Exemption Recommended for Remix — recommended expanding the noncommercial remix exemption to cover both DVDs and online services. The reference to “motion pictures” covers “movies, television shows, commercials, news, DVD extras, etc.”
New Tool Gives Structural Strength to 3-D Printed Works (Science Daily) — Findings were detailed in a paper presented during the SIGGRAPH 2012 conference in August. Former Purdue doctoral student Ondrej Stava created the software application, which automatically strengthens objects either by increasing the thickness of key structural elements or by adding struts. The tool also uses a third option, reducing the stress on structural elements by hollowing out overweight elements. (via BoingBoing)
Stewart Brand Interview (Wired) — full of interesting tidbits. This line from the interviewer, Kevin Kelly, resonated: One other trajectory I have noticed about the past 20 years: Excitement about the future has waned. The future is deflating. It is simply not as desirable as it once was. (via Matt Jones)
Commercial Use of Small Drones Still Without Regulations — FAA officials have also been working for the past five years on regulations to allow commercial use of small drones, which are generally defined as weighing less than 55-pounds and flying at altitudes under 4,000 feet. The agency has drafted regulations that were initially expected to be published late last year, but have been repeatedly delayed. Five years. That’s as long as the iPhone has existed. Just sayin’. (via Jim Stogdill)
Teaching Web Development in Africa — I used the resources that Pamela Fox helpfully compiled at teaching-materials.org to mentor twelve students who all built their own websites, such as websites for their karate club, fashion club, and traditional dance troupe. One student made a website to teach others about the hardware components of computers, and another website discussing the merits of a common currency in the East African Community. The two most advanced students began programming their own computer game to help others practice touch typing, and it allows players to compete across the network with WebSockets.
Transient Faces (Jeff Howard) — only displaying the unchanging parts of a scene, effectively removing people using computer vision. Disconcerting and elegant. (via Greg Borenstein)