- The City is a Battlesuit for Surviving the Future (IO9) — a great essay by Matt Jones, based on his talk at Webstock this year. Urban design is how we created alternate realities before we had iPhones, and the new technology lets us choose which science fiction future we want to inhabit. We are now a predominantly urban species, with over 50% of humanity living in a city. The overwhelming majority of these are not old post-industrial world cities such as London or New York, but large chaotic sprawls of the industrialising world such as the “maximum cities” of Mumbai or Guangzhou. Here the infrastructures are layered, ad-hoc, adaptive and personal – people there really are walking architecture, as Archigram said. Hacking post-industrial cities is becoming a necessity also. […]
- How and Why Machines Work (MIT Open Course Ware) — Subject studies how and why machines work, how they are conceived, how they are developed (drawn), and how they are utilized. Students learn from the hands-on experiences of taking things apart mentally and physically, drawing (sketching, 3D CAD) what they envision and observe, taking occasional field trips, and completing an individual term project (concept, creation, and presentation). Emphasis on understanding the physics and history of machines. (via Hacker News)
- Google Style Guide — how Google codes. Useful if you’re working on their code, starting a job there, or want to mock them for not specifying K&R braces/four space tabs/<insert One True Way here>. (via Hacker News)
- EC2 Usage Guessed From Sequential IDs — The Superseries ID changes so rarely that originally I had assumed it was some kind of checksum. This would have been odd as it limits the total available IDs to 224 = 16.8 million. Up to very recently, the Superseries ID for all resource types – instances, images, volumes, snapshots, etc. – was 69 (in the us-east-1 region (for eu-west-1 the Superseries ID is 74). These days, new instances use the Superseries ID 68. This subtle change, unnoticed by the industry, may hint at an astonishing achievement: 8.4 million instances launched since EC2’s debut! (Instance IDs are even so 8.4M = 16.8M / 2.) (via mattb on delicious)
Cities, How Things Work, Stylish Google, EC2 Numbers
More Twitter Clients, GLAM Tech, Retro Homebrew Audio Hardware, Emerging Open Source
- Echofon — novel take on Twitter apps: sync your unread list between phone, browser, and (ultimately, they promise) desktop Twitter app. (via auchmill on Twitter)
- GLAM Tech (MP3) — Radio New Zealand new technology slot about the use of technology in the Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAM) sector. For links, see the programme page.
- Man With Miniature Radio — 1950s DIY proto-iPod amusement.
- Open Source in Emerging Markets — the emerging markets — which include India, China, and Brazil — have more FOSS adoption and a higher concentration of effort in open source. Three quarters (74%) of developers in emerging markets use open source software for at least part of their work, compared to 65% of developers worldwide. In this context, “use” means personal use or corporate use, and could include both developer tools and desktop or server applications. (via glynmoody on Twitter)
Involuntarily Opened Geodata, Sense Organ, Doc Vis, 3D Open Source Bodies
- Wikileaks Now Holds UK Postcode Database — the UK does not have open geodata in the way that we know it. A state-owned enterprise, Ordnance Survey, is responsible for maintaining all sorts of baseline data and they charge (through the nose) for that data. This is the release of 1,841,177 post codes, geographic boundaries, and more. Postcodes in the UK are far more useful than US ZIP codes–they identify a handful of houses, rather than a few thousand houses.
- My New Sense Organ — a strap with buzzers and a compass, so you always have physical reminder of orientation. For people like me who can get lost putting on pants in the morning, this would be a godsend. (via Slashdot)
- Saving is Obsolete — EtherPad adds a Wave-like replay feature to help you see the history of a document.
- Open Source 3D People — incredible software to design realistic 3D faces and bodies. (via glynmoody on Twitter)
According to William Castleman: “The time-lapse sequence was taken with the simplest equipment that I brought to the star party. I put the Canon EOS-5D (AA screen modified to record hydrogen alpha at 656 nm) with an EF 15mm f/2.8 lens on a weighted tripod. Exposures were 20 seconds at f/2.8 ISO 1600 followed by 40 second interval. Exposures were controlled by an interval timer shutter release (Canon TC80N3). Power was provided by a Hutech EOS203 12v power adapter run off a 12v deep cycle battery. Large jpg files shot in custom white balance were batch processed in Photoshop (levels, curves, contrast, Noise Ninja noise reduction, resize) and assembled in Quicktime Pro. Editing/assembly was with Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9.”
iPhone Rocketry, Copywrongs, Econopocalypse, and Empire
- How To Use An iPhone To Fly RC Airplanes and Helicopters — So I had my basic idea down. iPhone joins the Linksys router network. It gets an IP address. Then, I open up my pilot program. The pilot program interfaces with the router via SSH (I couldn’t think of a better way that has redundancy, and speed, and was already buily by someone else). The pilot program interprets what the iphone is doing, and outputs data to one of the ethernet ports of which there are conveniently 4. Rudder, Ailerons, Throttle, Elevator.
- Economist Debates: Copyrights and Wrongs — The Economist live debate about copyright, with the moot “This house believes that existing copyright laws do more harm than good.” Public comments, voting, and new informed opinions each day.
- How I helped build the bomb that blew up Wall Street (NYMag) — story of the software developer behind a lot of the mortgage repackaging software. Many good lines, e.g., But even then, I was wondering why I was making more than anyone in my family, maybe as much as all my siblings combined. Hey, I had higher SAT scores. I could do all the arithmetic in my head. I was very good at programming a computer. And that computer, with my software, touched billions of dollars of the firm’s money. Every week. That justified it. When you’re close to the money, you get the first cut. Oyster farmers eat lots of oysters, don’t they?
- Yow — words of wisdom from John Battelle on Google as the new Microsoft: If any lesson is to be drawn, perhaps prematurely, from all this, it’s that no company – or two companies – can lead a culture for longer than half a generation. After that, the culture starts to distrust the companies’ motives, regardless of whether they are pure or well intentioned.
Maps, Africa, Protein, and Rockets
- Old Japanese Maps on Google Earth Unveil Secrets — Google criticised for putting up map layers showing the towns where a discriminated-against class came from, because that class is still discriminated against and Google didn’t put any “cultural context” around it. Google and their maps didn’t make the underclass, Japanese society did. Because they’re sensitive about having the problem, they redirect their embarrassment into anger at Google. You could make a long and profitable career in IT consulting simply by charging to say “it’s not a technical problem” and you’d be right more times than wrong.
- See Africa Differently — using the Internet to reframe a continent. Videos, essays, and more, all designed to get you seeing the majority of Africa, which isn’t defined by conflict and famine. (via NY Times book review)
- Fold.it – Solve Puzzles for Science — science harnesses our “cognitive surplus” by inviting us to help solve the problem of protein folding, one of the hardest in biology. (via auckland_museum on Twitter)
- Arduino Telemetry Payload in Class C Rocket (Jon Oxer) — Because class-C rockets are so small and light they can’t lift much of a payload and I had to keep the mass of the electronics as small as possible. You can get a sense of scale from this photo which shows a small white bundle in the bottom of the nosecone. Inside that bundle is an Arduino Pro Mini 5V/16Mhz, a 433Mhz transmitter module, and a Lilypad 3-axis accelerometer. PCBs … in … Spaaaaace!
I've been attending ETech and the P2P conference that preceded ETech and this conference, and this year I've noticed the best gender balance ever. Granted this conference's focus has changed from the very geeky P2P and Web Services focus it started with and meandered through a host of topics to arrive at a less geeky, but still thought provoking…