"materials" entries

Four short links: 27 October 2014

Four short links: 27 October 2014

Maker Education, Content Moderators, New Microscopy, and Hardware Emulation in LaTeX

  1. Progressive Education and the Maker Movement (PDF) — Gary Stager paper on how constructivist education (learning happens best via experience) and the Maker movement need each other. (via Paula Hogg)
  2. Content Moderation (Wired) — “content moderators” are the people paid to weed out beheadings, pornography, etc. from photo and video sites. By at least one estimate, the number of content moderators scrubbing the world’s social media sites, mobile apps, and cloud storage services runs to “well over 100,000”—that is, about twice the total head count of Google and nearly 14 times that of Facebook.
  3. Amazing New Microscope (National Geographic) — Lattice light sheet microscopy takes amazing movies, completely with Matrix-can freeze-and-rotate, from the recipient of this year’s Nobel Prize for Chemistry.
  4. avremu — an AVR (the chip inside the Arduino) emulator written in LaTeX. Yes, LaTeX.
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Four short links: 30 September 2014

Four short links: 30 September 2014

Continuous Testing, Programmable Bees, Deep Learning on GPUs, and Silk Road Numbers

  1. Continuously Testing Infrastructure — “infrastructure as code”. I can’t figure out whether what I feel are thrills or chills.
  2. Engineer Sees Big Possibilities in Micro-robots, Including Programmable Bees (National Geographic) — He and fellow researchers devised novel techniques to fabricate, assemble, and manufacture the miniature machines, each with a housefly-size thorax, three-centimeter (1.2-inch) wingspan, and weight of just 80 milligrams (.0028 ounces). The latest prototype rises on a thread-thin tether, flaps its wings 120 times a second, hovers, and flies along preprogrammed paths. (via BoingBoing)
  3. cuDNN — NVIDIA’s library of primitives for deep neural networks (on GPUS, natch). Not open source (registerware).
  4. Analysing Trends in Silk Road 2.0If, indeed every sale can map to a transaction, some vendors are doing huge amounts of business through mail order drugs. While the number is small, if we sum up all the product reviews x product prices, we get a huge number of USD $20,668,330.05. REMEMBER! This is on Silk Road 2.0 with a very small subset of their entire inventory. A peek into a largely invisible economy.
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Four short links: 27 August 2014

Four short links: 27 August 2014

Discourse 1.0, Programmable Matter, Versioned Databases, and What Humans Learned About Machine Learning

  1. Discourse turns 1.0 — community/forum software that doesn’t suck.
  2. Programmable Matter (IEEE Spectrum) — recap of where research is going in this area.
  3. Liquibasesource control for your database. Apache 2.0 licensed.
  4. A Few Useful Things to Know About Machine Learning (PDF) — This article summarizes twelve key lessons that machine learning researchers and practitioners have learned. These include pitfalls to avoid, important issues to focus on, and answers to common questions. My fave: First-timers are often surprised by how little time in a machine learning project is spent actually doing machine learning. But it makes sense if you consider how time-consuming it is to gather data, integrate it, clean it and pre-process it, and how much trial and error can go into feature design.
Comments: 2
Four short links: 14 September 2012

Four short links: 14 September 2012

Post in Translation, Comic Briefs, Fibre Optics, and Silk Road Financials

  1. Post Lingo — automatically transcribe incoming emails from foreign tongues. (via Brian McConnell)
  2. All Briefs Should Now Be in Comic Book Form — does wonders for mass audience acceptance of the arguments. (via Andy Lester)
  3. Magic Carpet Can Detect and Predict Falls (BBC) — Beneath the carpet is a mesh of optical fibres that detect and plot movement as pressure bends them, changing the light detected at the carpet’s edges. These deflected light patterns help electronics “learn” walking patterns and detect if they are deteriorating, for instance in the elderly. Neat use for fibre optics! (via Sara Winge)
  4. Travelling the Silk Road (PDF) — A measurement analysis of a large anonymous online marketplace […] A relatively small “core” of about 60 sellers has been present throughout our measurement interval, while the majority of sellers leaves (or goes “underground”) within a couple of weeks of their first appearance. We evaluate the total revenue made by all sellers to approximately USD 1.9 million per month; this corresponds to about USD 143,000 per month in commissions perceived by the Silk Road operators. (via Robert O’Brien)
Comment: 1
Four short links: 10 August 2012

Four short links: 10 August 2012

Coffee Rings, Scaling Laws, Autonomous Aircraft, and Dreaming Computers

  1. The Coffee-Ring Effect (YouTube) — beautiful video of what happens in liquids as they evaporate, explaining why coffee stains are rings, and how to create liquids with even evaporative coating.
  2. The Importance of Quantitative Thinking Medicine (PDF) — scaling laws underly aging, metabolism, drug delivery, BMI, and more. Full of wow moments, like Fractals are a common feature of many complex systems ranging from river networks, earthquakes, and the internet to stock markets and cities. […] Geometrically, the nested levels of continuous branching and crenulations inherent in fractal­like structures optimise the transport of information, energy, and resources by maximising the surface areas across which these essential features of life flow within any volume. Because of their fractal nature, these effective surface areas are much larger than their apparent physical size. For example, even though the volume of our lungs is about 5–6 L, the total surface area of all the alveoli is almost the size of a tennis court and the total length of airways is about 2500 km. Even more striking is that if all the arteries, veins, and capillaries of an individual’s circulatory system were laid end to end, its total length would be about 100000 km, or nearly two and a half times around the earth.
  3. Autonomous Robotic Plane at MIT (YouTube) — hypnotic to watch it discover the room. A product of the Robust Robotics Group at MIT.
  4. Electric Sheep — hypnotic screensaver, where the sleeping computers collaborate on animations. You can vote up or down the animation on your screen, changing the global gene pool. Popular animations survive and propagate.
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Four short links: 2 February 2012

Four short links: 2 February 2012

Build a Button, CMU iPad Course, Materials Conference, and Facebook IPO

  1. Beautiful Buttons for Bootstrap — cute little button creator, with sliders for hue, saturation, and “puffiness”.
  2. CMU iPad Course — iTunes U has the video lectures for a CMU intro to iPad programming.
  3. Inspiring Matterthe conference aims to bring together designers, scientists, artists and humanities people working with materials research and innovation to talk about how they work cross- or trans-disciplinarily, the challenges and tools they’ve found for working collaboratively, and the ways they find inspiration in their work with materials. London, April 2-3.
  4. Facebook’s S-1 Filing (SEC) — the Internets are now full of insights into Facebook’s business, for example Lance Wiggs’s observation that Facebook’s daily user growth is slowing. While 6-10% growth per quarter feels like a lot when annualized, it is getting close to being a normal company. Facebook is running out of target market, and especially target market with pockets deep enough to be monetised. But I think that’s the last piece of Facebook IPO analysis that I’ll link to. Tech Giant IPOs are like Royal Weddings: the people act nice but you know it’s a seething roiling pit of hate, greed, money, and desperation that goes on a bit too long so by the end you just want to put an angry chili-covered porcupine in everyone’s anus and set them all on fire. But perhaps I’m jaded.
Comments: 11
Four short links: 30 December 2011

Four short links: 30 December 2011

Hadoop 1.0, Approximation Wiki, Printer Firmware Attacks, and Cotton Circuits

  1. Hadoop Hits 1.0 — open source distributed computation engine, heavily used in big data analysis, hits 1.0.
  2. Sparse and Low-Rank Approximation Wiki — interesting technique: instead of sampling at 2x the rate you need to discriminate then compressing to trade noise for space, use these sampling algorithms to (intelligently) noisily sample at the lower bit rate to begin with. Promises interesting applications particularly in for sensors (e.g., the Rice single pixel camera). (via siah)
  3. Rise of Printer Malware — firmware attacks embedded in printed documents. Another reminder that not only is it hard to write safe software, your mistakes can be epically bad. (via Cory Doctorow)
  4. Electric Circuits and Transistors Made From CottonTo make it conductive, the researchers coated cotton threads in a variety of other materials. To make conductive “wires,” the team coated the threads with gold nanoparticles, and then a conductive polymer. To turn a cotton wire into a semiconductor, it was dipped in another polymer, and then a further glycol coating to make it waterproof. Neat materials hack that might lend a new twist to wearables.
Comment: 1
Four short links: 5 August 2011

Four short links: 5 August 2011

Flexible Display, Free Icons, Virtualization, and Virtualization Management

  1. NanoLumens — flexible display technology, 2.6lbs/sq ft (that’s 17 kilofrancs/kelvin in metric, I think). (via Fiona Romeo)
  2. The Noun Project — a vast collection of free-to-use icons. (via Russell Beattie)
  3. VirtualBoxSun Oracle’s open source virtualization product, trivial to run multiple VMs on your local box. VirtualBoxes has pre-built VMs for common OSes.
  4. Vagrant — tool for managing VirtualBox VMs with provisioning and teardown, NFS folder sharing, host-only networking, etc.
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Four short links: 29 March 2011

Four short links: 29 March 2011

Mobile Money, Materials Magic, Minimising Multiples, and Making Motion

  1. Serve — American Express mobile payments play. Money on mobiles is a huge potential, look for others to bang around here before the right answer is found. (via Mike Olson)
  2. Move Mayonnaise and Ketchup (YouTube) — I don’t know why you’d want to move mayonnaise and ketchup intact, but this is the machine for it. (via Russell Brown)
  3. Duplicates Detection with ElasticSearch (Andre Zmievski) — duplicate detection (or de-duping) is one of the most unappreciated problems that the developers of certain types of applications face sooner or later. The applications I’m talking about share two main characteristics: item collection and some sort of social aspect.
  4. Ceaser — tool for making CSS easing animations. (via Josh Clark)
Comment: 1