YIMBY — Swedish site for “Yes, In My Back Yard”. Provides an opportunity for the net to aggregate positive desires (“please put a bus stop on my street”, “we want wind power”) rather than simply aggregating complaints. (via cityofsound on Twitter)
Getting People in the Door — a summary of some findings about people’s approaches to the physical layout of shopping space. People like to walk in a loop. They avoid “cul de sacs” that they can see are dead-ends, because they don’t want to get bored walking through the same merchandise twice. Apply these to your next office space.
OpenBricks — embedded Linux framework that provides easy creation of custom distributions for industrial embedded devices. It features a complete embedded development kit for rapid deployment on x86, ARM, PowerPC and MIPS systems.
The end of the road for the Nexus One (LWN) — The pessimistic among us can be forgiven for concluding that the battle for open handsets is being lost. The carriers determine which devices will be successful in the market, and they have absolutely no interest in openness. Customers are irresistibly drawn to heavily advertised, shiny devices with low up-front costs; they just do not see any reason to insist on more open devices or, even, freedom from carrier lock-in. Attempts to create a market in open handsets – Nexus One, OpenMoko – seem to go down in flames. By this reasoning, we may well all be using Linux-based handsets in the future, but the freedom that attracted many of us to Linux will have been lost. (via Hacker News)
Women in Technology — says almost everything I learned from helping women into O’Reilly conferences. Amen!
Teenagers and Social Participation (Nina Simone) — [M]any older visitors enjoy the vibrancy of social events and are more than willing to share stories with other visitors in the context of a museum experience as long as it isn’t overly technology mediated. There is another, surprising group that is much less likely to participate in dialogue with strangers: teenagers.
Three New Features for Reddit Gold — I’ve been watching this with interest. They asked supports to sign up to subscription program before they said what they’d offer in return. Now they’re developing premium features to see what sticks. They’re offering the ability to turn off ads, no surprise there, but also some features (such as resortable lists) that are computationally expensive. I like the idea of offering subscribers the expensive-to-compute services above and beyond freemium.
A German Library for the 21st Century (Der Spiegel) — But browsing in Europeana is just not very pleasurable. The results are displayed in thumbnail images the size of postage stamps. And if you click through for a closer look, you’re taken to the corresponding institute. Soon you’re wandering helplessly around a dozen different museum and library Web sites — and you end up lost somewhere between the “Vlaamse Kunstcollectie” and the “Wielkopolska Biblioteka Cyfrowa.” Would it not be preferable to incorporate all the exhibits within the familiar scope of Europeana? “We would have preferred that,” says Gradmann. “But then the museums would not have participated.” They insist on presenting their own treasures. This is a problem encountered everywhere around the world: users hate silos but institutions hate the thought of letting go of their content. We’re going to have to let go to win. (via Penny Carnaby)
StoryGarden — a web-based tool for gathering and analyzing a large number of stories contributed by the public. The content of the stories, along with some associated survey questions, are processed in an automated semantic computing process for an immediate, interactive display for the lay public, and in a more thorough manual process for expert analysis.
Google Apps Script — VBA for the 2010s. Currently mainly for spreadsheets, but some hooks into Gmail and Google Calendar.
There’s a Rootkit in the Closet — lovely explanation of finding and isolating a rootkit, reconstructing how it got there and deconstructing the rootkit to figure out what it did. It’s a detective story, no less exciting than when Cliff Stohl wrote The Cuckoo’s Egg.
First Full Open Source Symbian Release (BBC) — source code will be available for download from the Symbian Foundation web site as of 1400GMT. Nokia bought Symbian for US$410M in 2008 (for comparison, AOL bought Netscape for $4.2B in 1999 but the source code tarball had been escape-podded from the company a year before the deal closed). This makes Symbian more open than Android, says the head of the foundation: “About a third of the Android code base is open and nothing more,” says Williams. “And what is open is a collection of middleware. Everything else is closed or proprietary.” (quote from Wired’s story).
Nat Friedman Leaving Novell — one of the original Ximian founders, with interests in many directions and the coding chops to make them real. He’ll found another startup, topic as yet unknown, which will be one to watch.
Bruce Sterling’s State of the World 2010 — sometimes funny, often thought-provoking, always interesting. Americans really want and need and desire a Futuristic Vision Thing, they get all lonesome and moody without one, but it’s absolutely gotta be one of those good-old-fashioned American Futuristic Vision Things, just like the Americans had in the 1950s when everybody else was still on fire from total war and cleaning up the death camps.
Red Laser — “impossibly accurate barcode scanning”. Uses Google Product Search to identify products that you scan using the camera on the phone. I remember Rael and I talking to Jeff Bezos about this years ago, before camphones had the resolution to decode barcodes. The future is here and it’s $1.99 on the App Store … (via Ed Corkery on Twitter)
Julie Learns to Program — blog from our own Julie Steele as she learns her first programming language. The point is: it’s in me. I wasn’t sure that is was, and now I know—it is. And what, exactly, is “it”? It is the bug. It is the combination of native curiosity and stubbornness that made me play around with the code and take some wild guesses instead of running straight to Google (or choosing to stay within the bounds of the exercise). That might sound like a small thing, but I know it is not. I was determined to make the program do what I wanted it to do, I came up with a few guesses as to how to do that, and I kept trying different things until I succeeded (and then I felt thrilled). As much as I have to learn, I know now that I really am hooked. And that I’ll get there.
Anatomy of SSDs — teeth-rattlingly technical Linux Magazine article explaining the different types of SSDs (Solid State Disks–imagine a hard drive made of rapid-access Flash memory). Artur Bergman told me that installing an SSD drive in his MacBook Pro gave the greatest performance increase of any computer upgrade he’d performed since he went from no computer to one.
I Like Unicorn Because It’s Unix — forceful rant about the need to rediscover Unix systems programming. Reminds me of the Varnish notes where the author explains that it works better because it uses the operating system instead of recreating it poorly.
You Have No Life — if a video smacks even slightly of concentrated effort or advance planning, someone will inevitably scoff that the subject has a) “too much time on his hands” or b) “no life.” Ten times out of ten. [...] After six years I lack a succinct, meaningful response to my students’ defensive, clannish embrace of mediocrity, though I’m grateful for this tweet, which comes pretty close: dwineman: You say “looks like somebody has too much time on their hands” but all I hear is “I’m sad because I don’t know what creativity feels like.”
WTF Is A Supercolumn? — Cassandra is a NoSQL database, a triplestore that scales superwell. Because it’s not the usual relational thing we’re accustomed to, the language can be a barrier to learning: ColumnFamily, SuperColumns, and more. This post explains what’s what, with examples. (via joshua on Delicious)
Transport for London Does Not Like the Ordnance Survey — an Official Information Request yielded the Transport for London response to an Ordnance Survey “strategy consultation”. The OS should appoint an independent body to review their licence documents and pay them based on the number of words deleted. Sound advice too–OS have crippled the geospatial industry in the UK by charging for their (admittedly finely-detailed) data. (via mattb on delicious)
Government Data and the Invisible Hand — Ed Felten has written a fantastic piece on the relationship between data, presentations of the data, and the government departments that produce the data. It is full of powerful recommendations: The best way to ensure that the government allows private parties to compete on equal terms in the provision of government data is to require that federal websites themselves use the same open systems for accessing the underlying data as they make available to the public at large. (via timoreilly on Twitter)
Fast Modularity Community Structure Inference Algorithm — This algorithm is being widely used in the community of complex network researchers, and was originally designed for the express purpose of analyzing the community structure of extremely large networks (i.e., hundreds of thousand or millions of vertices). The original version worked only with unweighted, undirected networks. I’ve recently posted a version that works on weighted, undirected networks. (via mattb on Delicious)