- pathod — A pathological HTTP daemon for testing and torturing client software. (via Hacker News)
- A Walk Through Twitter’s Walled Garden (The Realtime Report) — nice breakdown of Twitter’s business model choice and consequences. Twitter wants you to be able to see the pictures and read the articles shared in your its Tweets, without leaving the garden. Costolo told the Los Angeles Times that “Twitter is heading in a direction where its 140-character messages are not so much the main attraction but rather the caption to other forms of content.” (You know all the traffic that Twitter’s been driving to web sites? Don’t count on it being there next year.) (via Jim Stogdill)
- My Computing Environment (Jesse Vincent) — already have a set of those gloves on order.
- How Speedo Created a Record-Breaking Swimsuit (Scientific American) — A new 3-D printer at Aqualab fabricated prototypes of the cap and goggles for testing within hours, rather than sending drawings to a manufacturer and waiting weeks or months. “In the past we couldn’t do many changes to the original design,” Santry says. “With this process, we completely revolutionized the goggle from scratch.” (via Eric Ries)
"life hacks" entries
Torturing HTTP, Twitter Business, Mobile Setup, and 3D Printing Olympic Gold
Privacy Plugins, Dodgy SSL Spotter, Glowing Rectangles, and Huckory Hadoop
- Ghostery — a browser plugin to block trackers, web bugs, dodgy scripts, ads, and anything else you care to remove from your browsing experience. It looks like a very well done adblocker, but it’s done (a) closed-source and (b) for-profit. Blocking trackers is something every browser *should* do, but because browser makers make (or hope to make) money from ads, they don’t. In theory, Mozilla should do it. Even if they were to take up the mantle, though, they’re unlikely to make anything for IE or Chrome. So it’s in the hands of companies with inarticulate business models. (via Andy Baio)
- Perspectives — Firefox plugin that lets you know when you’ve encountered an SSL certificate that’s different from the ones that other Perspectives users see (e.g., you’re being man-in-the-middled by Iran). (via Francois Marier)
- Always Connected — “I’ve got a full day of staring at glowing rectangles ahead of me! Better get started …”. I have made mornings and evenings backlight-free zones in an effort to carve out some of the day free of glowing rectangles. (I do still read myself to sleep on the Kindle, though, but it’s not backlit)
- Is Teaching MapReduce Healthy for Students? — Google’s narrow MapReduce API conflates logical semantics (define a function over all items in a collection) with an expensive physical implementation (utilize a parallel barrier). As it happens, many common cluster-wide operations over a collection of items do not require a barrier even though they may require all-to-all communication. But there’s no way to tell the API whether a particular Reduce method has that property, so the runtime always does the most expensive thing imaginable in distributed coordination: global synchronization. Detailed and interesting criticism of whether Hadoop is the BASIC of parallel tools. (via Pete Warden)
Electronic Health Records, LilyPad Appeal, Time Management, and Locking Library
- Two Brothers Await Broad Use of Medical E-Records (New York Times) — The Doerrs’ software company is only one of many hoping to cash in on the national mandate for digital medical records. The companies range from giants like General Electric to specialists like Athenahealth that cater to small physician practices. They, like the Doerrs, are betting that the law will help create a turning point for the economics of digital health records, opening the door to rapid adoption by doctors and a thriving business at last. NZ-based Orion Health is expanding at a great rate in the US, doing electronic health records. The tide is beginning to turn away from paper, thank goodness. (via DrChrisPaton on Twitter)
- On Feminism and Microcontrollers (Benjamin Mako Hill) — We found evidence to support the suggestion that LilyPad is disproportionally appealing to women, as compared to Arduino (we estimated that about 9% of Arduino purchasers were female while 35% of LilyPad purchasers were). We found evidence that suggests that a very large proportion of people making high-visibility projects using LilyPad are female as compared to Arduino (65% for LilyPad, versus 2% for Arduino).
- Pomodoro Technique — time management system. (via auchmill on Twitter)
- Lock-free Data Structure Library in C — free library offering list, queue, ringbuffer, stack, ….
Work Habits, Smartphone Frameworks, Transparency, and Data Geekery
- The Way I Work: Justin Kan of JustinTV (Inc Magazine) — I admit it, I had written Justin off as “that irritating guy who went around with a camera on all the time” but it turns out he’s quite thoughtful about what he does. I try to keep the meetings small, especially when we’re doing product design. If you have eight people in the design meeting, it doesn’t work. Everybody has an opinion. Everyone wants to weigh in on what the font should look like. The end product becomes the average of eight opinions. You don’t get excellent work, just average. (via Hacker News)
- Rhodes — open source cross-platform smartphone app development framework, with offline sync and hosted data storage.
- How Transparency Fails and Works Too (Clay Johnson) — another thoughtful piece reflecting the general awakening that “being transparent” is a verb not a noun: you don’t “achieve transparency”, but rather you have a set of actors, actions, and objects inside and outside government that provide the checks and balances we hope to get from transparency. It’s a complex system, requiring way more than just “release the data and they will come”. [L]et’s not fool ourselves into thinking though that just because a system has real-time, online disclosure that somehow the system will be cleaned up. It won’t. Data makes watchdogging possible, sure, but more data makes watchdogging harder. Plus, for the transparency solution to work, people have to actually care enough to watchdog. Imagine that your city council, facing terrible obesity rates, decided to enact and enforce a mandatory nudity law to improve its public health. Policy wonks got together and decided that in order to get people to lose weight, they’d outlaw clothing. People went outside naked, and sure, it was a little uncomfortable at first, but basically— the fat people stayed fat, and the thin people stayed thin. The town was more comfortable just averting their collective eyes.
- Meta-Optimize — a StackOverflow-like q&a site for data geeks who groove to topics like “unsupervised methods for word polarity detection”. (via Flowing Data)
Open Source Ebook Reader, Libraries and Ebooks, Life Lessons, and Government Licenses
- Open Library Book Reader — the page-turning book reader software that the Internet Archive uses is open source. One of the reasons library scanning programs are ineffective is that they try to build new viewing software for each scan-a-bundle-of-books project they get funding for.
- Should Libraries Have eBooks? — blog post from an electronic publisher made nervous by the potential for libraries to lend unlimited “copies” of an electronic work simultaneously. He suggests turning libraries into bookstores, compensating publishers for each loan (interestingly, some of the first circulating libraries were established by publishers and booksellers precisely to have a rental trade). I’m wary of the effort to profit from every use of a work, though. I’d rather see libraries limit simultaneous access to in-copyright materials if there’s no negotiated license opening access to more. Unlike the author, I don’t see this as a situation that justifies DRM, whose poison extends past the term of copyright. (via Paul Reynolds)
Lessons Learned from Previous Employment (Adam Shand) — great summary of what he learned in the different jobs he’s had over the years. Sample:
- More than any other single thing, being successful at something means not giving up.
- Everything takes longer than you expect. Lots longer.
- In a volunteer based non-profit people don’t have the shared goal of making money. Instead every single person has their own personal agenda to pursue.
- Unfortunately “dreaming big” is more fun and less work than “doing big”.
- Flickr Creates New License for White House Photos (Wired) — photos from the White House photographer were originally CC-licensed (yay, a step forward) but when it was pointed out that as government-produced information those photos weren’t allowed to be copyright, the White House relicensed as “United States Government Work”. Flickr had to add the category, which differs from “No Known Copyright”, and it’s something that all sharing sites will need to consider if they are going to offer their service to the Government.
- Wall Street on the Tundra — Michael Lewis’s long but fascinating glimpse into Iceland’s rise and fall as hubris-filled banker to the world. One of the many lessons is not to believe the post-hoc explanations for success: “Icelanders—or at any rate Icelandic men—had their own explanations for why, when they leapt into global finance, they broke world records: the natural superiority of Icelanders. Because they were small and isolated it had taken 1,100 years for them—and the world—to understand and exploit their natural gifts, but now that the world was flat and money flowed freely, unfair disadvantages had vanished. Iceland’s president, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, gave speeches abroad in which he explained why Icelanders were banking prodigies.”. For more on the financial meltdown, also read The Real Cause of the Financial Crisis–it’s spot on.
- The Cult of Done Manifesto (Bre Pettis) — magnificent call to arms for JFDI, Just Do It.
- Twilio — your web apps can trigger voice calls and respond to incoming calls through a simple REST and XML API. It’s wildly simple. Using it, This Line Is Secure was able to launch very quickly. I’m still not able to think in terms of phones, unable to see when a voice-drop or numeric-key interface works for an app, but I’ll bet that playing with Twilio will help me develop that sense without the cost of Asterisk hardware.
- Let Startups Bail Us Out — Reid Hoffman writes in favour of ensuring an adequate supply of startups. “Consider a few start-ups from the past century: Microsoft, MTV, CNN, FedEx, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Burger King. Each opened during a period of economic downturn. Today, these brands employ hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. We need to prepare for the next Burger King. By empowering individuals and small businesses, an innovation stimulus can help germinate stable industry players for the long term.” (via Caterina)
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