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.
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.
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.
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.
NATS — open source (MIT-licensed) messaging system that shares the best name in the world.
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.
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.
MIT Self-Assembly Lab — multi-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.
Calaos — a free software project (GPLv3) that lets you control and monitor your home.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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)
cuDNN — NVIDIA’s library of primitives for deep neural networks (on GPUS, natch). Not open source (registerware).
Analysing Trends in Silk Road 2.0 — If, 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.
Liquibase — source control for your database. Apache 2.0 licensed.
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.
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)
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)