- Why Education Startups Do Not Succeed —This fundamental investment vs. expenditure mindset changes everything. You think of education as fundamentally a quality problem. The average person thinks of education as fundamentally a cost problem. This and many other insights that repay the reading. (via Hacker News)
- Romo — smartphone robotics platform Kickstarter project.
- Google Cloud SQL — Google offers proper SQL for AppEngine. Edd notes that this happened just as Oracle offered a NoSQL server. Worth remembering that the label on the technology isn’t a magic bullet to solve your problems: SQL and NoSQL aren’t what’s important, you still must understand how they work with your particular data types and patterns of access.
- Olson Timezone Database Deleted — the USA permits copyrighting of facts, whereas facts [not being the product of a creative act] are not copyrightable in much of the rest of the world. One of the sources for historical timezone data threatened legal action, and the maintainers chose to delete their database. This is a bugger: without it, there’s no way to map GMT onto local time for arbitrary times in the past.
Education Startups, Smartphone Robotics, Google SQL, and Deleted Timezones
I have posted a prepublication draft of my article “Promoting Open Source Software in Government: The Challenges of Motivation and Follow-Through,” published by the Journal of Information Technology & Politics.
The Linux kernel gets to 3.0, Oracle is bitten by the Internet's long memory, and more lawsuit fever.
The Linux kernel gets to version 3.0. Meanwhile, Oracle doesn't seem to remember the warm reception that Sun gave Android, and big players get lawsuits on their doorsteps.
MongoDB Subpessimalization, Anti-Intellectualism, Teen Internet Use, Android Internals
- Optimizing MongoDB — shorter field names, barely hundreds of ops/s when not in RAM, updates hold a lock while they fetch the original from disk … it’s a pretty grim story. (via Artur Bergman)
- Is There a New Geek Anti-Intellectualism? — focus is absolutely necessary if we are to gain knowledge. We will be ignoramuses indeed, if we merely flow along with the digital current and do not take the time to read extended, difficult texts. (via Sacha Judd)
- Trend Data for Teens (Pew Internet and American Life Project) — one in six American teens have used the Internet to look for information online about a health topic that’s hard to talk about, like drug use, sexual health, or depression.
- The Guts of Android (Linux Weekly News) — technical but high-level explanation of the components of an Android system and how they compare to those of a typical Linux system.
Red Hat’s usual modus operandi is the precise inverse of most companies based on open source. This drives what I heard at Red Hat Summit and JBoss World, solid progress along the lines laid out by Red Hat and JBoss in previous years.
Facebook for Non-Profits, Groklaw is Goneburger, Map Ads Mandatory, and Corruption Fought
- Fundraising on Facebook — only 7% [of companies surveyed] cited social networking as one of their most effective sources for customer acquisition […] only 2.4% of non-profits were able to raise over 10k through Facebook in 2010. (via Chris Brogan)
- Groklaw Closes — There will be other battles, and there already are, because the same people that propped SCO up are still going to try to destroy Linux, but the battlefield has shifted, and I don’t feel Groklaw is needed in the new battlefield the way it was in the SCO v. Linux wars. PJ did a wonderful thing and we’ll miss both her and GrokLaw. (via Don Christie)
- Google Maps ToC Changes — we now require that any new Maps API applications going forward display any advertising delivered in the maps imagery, unless the site concerned has a Google Maps API Premier license. (via Flowing Data)
- Root Strikers — Lessig’s new project. Thoreau wrote, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” The root of our political evils is money. Our goal is to build a network of rootstrikers—to talk about this issue, clearly identify the problem, and work together towards practical reforms. At the moment it’s “post and comment” site, a forum, but I hope he’s building an army to channel to other acts. Check out his splendid talk on the subject.
Android Strategy, Fad Books, Ubiquitous Product Design, and Android Headers Apology
- The Freight Train That is Android — Google’s aim is defensive not offensive. They are not trying to make a profit on Android or Chrome. They want to take any layer that lives between themselves and the consumer and make it free (or even less than free). […] In essence, they are not just building a moat; Google is also scorching the earth for 250 miles around the outside of the castle to ensure no one can approach it. (via Fred Wilson)
- Group Think (New York Magazine) — Big Idea tomes typically pull promiscuously from behavioral economics, cognitive science, and evolutionary psychology. They coin phrases the way Zimbabwe prints bills. They relish upending conventional wisdom: Not thinking becomes thinking, everything bad turns out to be good, and the world is—go figure—flat. (With Gladwell’s Blink, this mania for the counterintuitive runs top-speed into a wall, crumples to the ground, and stares dizzily at the little birds circling overhead. This is, let me remind you, a best-selling book about the counterintuitive importance of thinking intuitively.) A piercing take on pop science/fad management books.
- Product Design at GitHub — Every employee at GitHub is a product designer. We only hire smart people we trust to make our product better. We don’t have managers dictating what to work on. We don’t require executive signoff to ship features. Executives, system administrators, developers, and designers concieve, ship, and remove features alike. (via Simon Willison)
- Linus on Android Headers Claims — “seems totally bogus”. I blogged the Android headers claim earlier, have been meaning to run this rather definitive “ignore it, it was noise” note. Apologies for showing you crap that was wrong: that’s why I try not to show weather-report “news”, but to find projects that illustrate trends.
Job Titles, Android Copyright, Error Hosting, and Drizzle Ships
- Titles and Promotions (Ben Horowitz) — Andreessen argues that people ask for many things from a company: salary, bonus, stock options, span of control, and titles. Of those, title is by far the cheapest, so it makes sense to give the highest titles possible. The hierarchy should have Presidents, Chiefs, and Senior Executive Vice Presidents. If it makes people feel better, let them feel better. Titles cost nothing. Better yet, when competing for new employees with other companies, using Andreessen’s method you can always outbid the competition in at least one dimension.
- Android’s Linux Copyrights Issue — Google copied 2.5 megabytes of code from more than 700 Linux kernel header files with a homemade program that drops source code comments and some other elements, and daringly claims (in a notice at the start of each generated file) that the extracted material constitutes “no copyrightable information”
- errbit — open source self-hosted error catcher, an open source alternative to HopToad. (via Glen Barnes)
- Drizzle: From What If to What Has (Brian Aker) — fantastic retrospective of lessons learned in the shipping of Drizzle. We have fixed all the warnings in Drizzle. This is something that isn’t sexy work, and the only way it is justified is because cleaning up warnings fixes bugs. If you are starting a new code base let me implore upon on you the necessity of doing this from the beginning. They sweat the dull stuff that matters, not just the shiny sexy featureitis.
Banshee Bucks, Log Mining, Visualization Secrets, and Repression Tools
- Canonical’s New Plan for Banshee — Canonical prepare the Linux distribution Ubuntu. They will distribute the popular iTunes-alike Banshee, but instead of the standard Amazon store plugin (which generates much $ in affiliate revenue for the GNOME Foundation) they will have Canonical’s own Amazon store plugin and keep 75% of the revenue (25% going to the GNOME Foundation). They’re legally within their rights, and it underscores for me how the goal of providing freedom from control is incompatible with a goal of making money. Free and open source software gives self-destination with software, and that includes the right to replace your money pump with theirs.
- Oluolu — an open source query log mining tool which works on Hadoop. This tool provides resources to add new features to search engines. Concretely Oluolu supports automatic dictionary creation such as spelling correction, context queries or frequent query n-grams from query log data. The dictionaries are applied to search engines to add features such as ‘did you mean’ or ‘related keyword suggestion’ service in search engines. (via Matt Biddulph on Delicious)
- Information is Beautiful Process (David McCandless) — David’s process for creating his beautiful and moving visualizations.
- Facebook for Repressive Regimes — The purpose of this blog post is not to help repressive regimes use Facebook better, but rather to warn activists about the risks they face when using Facebook. (via Justine Sanderson on Delicious)
Windows 7 outshines Vista (not hard), Linux still in peril (hard luck), and the Mac App Store launches (hard sell)
Last year saw Linux fight free of one legal morass, and perhaps right into another; Microsoft take another swing at replacing XP; and Apple bring the App Store model to the desktop.