"materials" entries

Four short links: 5 November 2015

Four short links: 5 November 2015

Robotic Delivery, Materials Science, Open Source Project Management, and Open Source Secret Management

  1. Starship — robotic delivery, from Skype co-founders. Pilot in the U.K. next year, in U.S. the year after. (via Brad Templeton)
  2. Materials that Couple Sensing, Actuation, Computation, and Communication (PDF) — very readable rundown of the ways in which materials can be designed to sense, compute, actuate, and communicate. You should read this because if the Internet of Things is going to be big, then the real breakthroughs and leaps forward will be in the Things and not the Internet. (via CCC Blog)
  3. Taiga — open source agile software project management tool (backlog, kanban, tasks, sprints, burndown charts, that sort of thing). (via Jef Vratny)
  4. Confidant — a secret management system, for AWS, from Lyft. If you build services that need to talk to each other, it quickly gets difficult to distribute and manage permissions to those services. So, naturally, the solution is to add another service. (In accordance with the Fundamental Theorem of Computer Science.)
Four short links: 27 October 2015

Four short links: 27 October 2015

Learning Neural Nets, Medium's Stack, Bacterial Materials, and Drone Data

  1. What a Deep Neural Net Thinks of Your Selfie — really easy to understand explanation of covolutional neural nets (the tech behind image recognition). No CS required.
  2. Medium’s Stack — interesting use of Protocol Buffers: We help our people work with data by treating the schemas as the spec, rigorously documenting messages and fields and publishing generated documentation from the .proto files.
  3. Bacterial Materials (Wired UK) — Showing a prototype worn by dancers, Yao demonstrated how bacteria-powered clothing can respond to the body’s needs. She has, in effect, created living clothes, ones that react in real time to heat and sweat mapping with tiny vents that would curl open or flatten closed as exertion levels demanded.
  4. Robots to the Rescue (NSF) — one 20-minute drone flight generated upwards of 800 photographs, each of which took at least one minute to inspect. This article is five lessons learned in the field of disaster robotics, and they’re all doozies.
Four short links: 10 September 2015

Four short links: 10 September 2015

Decentralised Software, Slow Chemistry, Spectrum Maps, and RF Interference

  1. Popcorn Time — interview with the creator. All the elements we used already existed and had done so for a long time. But nobody had put them together in an interface that talked to the user in a nice way, said Abad. Very Anonymous approach to software: Who are you going to sue? The first? The second? The third? I did the design. Was it illegal? I didn’t link the various parts together. There is no comprehensive overview of who did what. For we don’t have any business. We don’t have any headquarters or a general manager.
  2. Slow Chemistry (Nature) — “lazy man’s chemistry”: let a mix of solid reactants sit around undisturbed while they spontaneously transform themselves. More properly called slow chemistry, or even just ageing, the approach requires few, if any, hazardous solvents and uses minimal energy. If planned properly, it also consumes all the reagents in the mix, so that there is no waste and no need for chemical-intensive purification.
  3. Mapping the Spectrum in the Mission — SDR scanner to make a map of spectrum activity.
  4. Electronic Noise is Drowning Out the Internet of Things (IEEE Spectrum) — (paraphrasing) increases deployment costs, decreases battery life, creates interference, ruins policies of spectrum allocation, is expensive to trace, and almost impossible stop.
Four short links: 7 September 2015

Four short links: 7 September 2015

Nanoscale Motors, Language of Betrayal, Messaging, and Handing Off Culture

  1. Nanoscale Motors (Nature) — “We’ve made 50 or 60 different motors,” says Ben Feringa, a chemist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. “I’m less interested in making another motor than actually using it.” An interesting summary of the progress made in nanoscale engineering.
  2. Linguistics Signs of Betrayal — as found by studying Diplomacy players. Betrayers suddenly become more positive, possibly attempting to hide their duplicity. Betrayers suddenly become less polite, after having kept up a façade of politeness, during which the victims were significantly less polite. A reversal of imbalance occurs right before the betrayal. Victims plan more. Making a lot of plans can put pressure on the relationship and hasten betrayal, and, at the same time, if the betrayer’s mind is made up, there is no point for him to plan.
  3. NATS — open source (MIT-licensed) messaging system that shares the best name in the world.
  4. Building a Culture and Handing it Off (Kellan Elliott-McCrea) — Successfully building a culture ensures when you leave you can hand your work off to people you trust and they will run the thing without you and make it better than you could have imagined.
Four short links: 28 July 2015

Four short links: 28 July 2015

Auto-Remediation, Fast and Good, Life's Game of Conway, and Self-Assembly Lab

  1. Nurse at LinkedIn — automating the responses to alerts.
  2. Moving Fast With High Code Quality (Quora) — Lots of practical detail about how they combine speed with quality.
  3. John Horton Conway (The Guardian) — These were two separate areas of study that Conway had arrived at by two different paths. So, there’s no reason for them to be linked. But somehow, through the force of his personality, and the intensity of his passion, he bent the mathematical universe to his will. Fascinating profile, taken from a new book.
  4. MIT Self-Assembly Labmulti-material 3D/4D printing, advances in materials science, and new capabilities in simulation/optimization software […] made it possible to fully program a wide range of materials to change shape, appearance, or other property, on demand.
Four short links: 23 February 2015

Four short links: 23 February 2015

Self-Assembling Chairs, Home Monitoring, Unicorn Horn, and Cloud Security

  1. MIT Scientists and the Self-Assembling Chair (Wired) — using turbulence to randomise interactions, and pieces that connect when the random motions align. From the Self-Assembly Lab at MIT.
  2. Calaosa free software project (GPLv3) that lets you control and monitor your home.
  3. Founder Wants to be a Horse Not a Unicorn (Business Insider) — this way of thinking  —  all or nothing moonshots to maximise shareholder value  —  has become pervasive dogma in tech. It’s become the only respectable path. Either you’re running a lowly lifestyle business, making ends meet so you can surf all afternoon, or you’re working 17-hour days goring competitors with your $US48MM Series C unicorn horn on your way to billionaire mountain.
  4. Using Google Cloud Platform for Security Scanning (Google Online Security) — platform vendors competing on the things they can offer for free on the base platform, things which devs and ops used to have to do themselves.
Four short links: 16 January 2015

Four short links: 16 January 2015

RF Snooping, Class and Tech, Nuclear Option, and Carbon Fibre

  1. It’s Getting Easier for Hackers to Spy on Your Computer When It’s Offline (Vice) — surprisingly readable coverage of determining computer activity from RF signals.
  2. An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social MediaTeens’ use of social media is significantly shaped by race and class, geography, and cultural background.
  3. Putting the Nuclear Option Front and Centre (Tom Armitage) — offering what feels like the nuclear option front and centre, reminding the user that it isn’t a nuclear option. I love this. “Undo” changes your experience profoundly.
  4. 3D-Printing Carbon Fibre (Makezine) — the machine doesn’t produce angular, stealth fighter-esque pieces with the telltale CF pattern seen on racing bikes and souped up Mustangs. Instead, it creates an FDM 3D print out of nylon filament (rather than ABS or PLA), and during the process it layers in a thin strip of carbon fiber, melted into place from carbon fiber fabric using a second extruder head. (It can also add in kevlar or fiberglass.)
Four short links: 2 December 2014

Four short links: 2 December 2014

e-Paper Watch, Probabilistic Go, Z-Machine in Hardware, and Glorious Underlines

  1. FES Watch — e-paper watch, including strap. Beautiful, crowdfunded, made by a Sony subsidiary that’s looking at e-ink for wearables and more. (via The Verge)
  2. Probabilistic Data Structures for Go — introduction to the go-probably library for when you can’t store every single value, so will trade off memory usage against accuracy.
  3. Z3 — implementation of the Infocom Z-Machine in hardware. Check out the easter eggs. I look upon my works and despair.
  4. Towards a More Perfect Link Underline — glorious typography on the web. A phrase you don’t often hear together without “would be a nice thing” at the end of the sentence.
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.
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.