- A Slower Speed of Light — game where you control the speed of light and discover the wonders of relativity. (via Andy Baio)
- Facebook Demetricator — removes all statistics and numbers from Facebook’s chrome (“37 people like this” becomes “people like this”). (via Beta Knowledge)
- Rx — Microsoft open sources their library for composing asynchronous and event-based programs using observable sequences and LINQ-style query operators.
- Typing Karaoke — this is awesome. Practice typing to song lyrics. With 8-bit aesthetic for maximum quirk.
Decoding ToS, Impact Factors are Nonsense, Crappy Open Source Code, and Data Mining History
- TOS;DR — terms of service rendered comprehensible. “Make the hard stuff easy” is a great template for good ideas, and this just nails it.
- Sick of Impact Factors — typically only 15% of the papers in a journal account for half the total citations. Therefore only this minority of the articles has more than the average number of citations denoted by the journal impact factor. Take a moment to think about what that means: the vast majority of the journal’s papers — fully 85% — have fewer citations than the average. The impact factor is a statistically indefensible indicator of journal performance; it flatters to deceive, distributing credit that has been earned by only a small fraction of its published papers. (via Sci Blogs)
- A Generation Lost in the Bazaar (ACM) — Today’s Unix/Posix-like operating systems, even including IBM’s z/OS mainframe version, as seen with 1980 eyes are identical; yet the 31,085 lines of configure for libtool still check if and exist, even though the Unixen, which lacked them, had neither sufficient memory to execute libtool nor disks big enough for its 16-MB source code. […] That is the sorry reality of the bazaar Raymond praised in his book: a pile of old festering hacks, endlessly copied and pasted by a clueless generation of IT “professionals” who wouldn’t recognize sound IT architecture if you hit them over the head with it. It is hard to believe today, but under this embarrassing mess lies the ruins of the beautiful cathedral of Unix, deservedly famous for its simplicity of design, its economy of features, and its elegance of execution. (Sic transit gloria mundi, etc.)
- History as Science (Nature) — Turchin and his allies contend that the time is ripe to revisit general laws, thanks to tools such as nonlinear mathematics, simulations that can model the interactions of thousands or millions of individuals at once, and informatics technologies for gathering and analysing huge databases of historical information.
Why businesses should care about speed.
In this Velocity Podcast, Strangeloop's Joshua Bixby discusses the business of speed and why web performance optimization is an institutional need.
jQuery Video Plugin, Open Source Data View, QR Insanity, and Measuring Citizen Science
- jPlayer — jQuery plugin for audio and video in HTML5. Dual-licensed MIT and GPL.
- QR Code Madness — I recently received an MMS (multimedia text message) with a picture to a QR code. First, it’s bad enough advertising agencies still randomly text people ads. Second, what am I supposed to scan that with? My eyes? But check out the photo for maximum silliness.
- Galaxy Zoo: Crowdsourcing Citizen Scientists (Guardian) — yes, the headline is a collection of buzzwords but the Galaxy Zoo project remains fantastic. My eye was caught by Working 12 hours a day non-stop for a week, [Kevin] Schawinski had managed the not inconsiderable task of detailing the characteristics of 50,000 galaxies. He needed a pint. [… they built Galaxy Zoo in a day of two …] Within 24 hours of it being announced on Lintott’s website, Galaxy Zoo was receiving 70,000 classifications an hour. They still measure their hit-rate in “Kevin weeks” – a unit of 50,000. “Soon after that we were doing many Kevin weeks per hour,” Schawinski says. (via Roger Dennis)
Flurry's Sean Byrnes on mobile metrics and tablet apps vs phone apps.
Flurry's CTO Sean Byrnes discusses app life cycles, the specifics of user engagement, and the difference between smartphone apps and tablet apps.
How metrics-driven decisions can build better software teams.
Don't dismiss "Moneyball" just because it began in the sports world. Many of the system's metrics-based techniques can also apply to software teams.
Lou Rosenfeld on the benefits of parsing and refining site search.
A gold mine is hiding in the data generated by website search engines, yet many site owners pay little attention to the analytics those engines yield. Author Lou Rosenfeld explains why site search is worth your time.
Flurry's Sean Byrnes on the challenges of mobile analytics.
Flurry's Sean Byrnes talks about the intricacies of mobile analytics, the metrics app developers care about most, and the problems that stem from Android fragmentation.
Poor Economics, Shrinking Web, Orphans Put to Work, Realtime Log Monitoring
- Poor Economics — this is possibly the best thing I will read all year, an insightful (and research-backed) book digging into the economics of poverty. Read the lecture slides online, they’ll give you a very clear taste of what the book’s about. Love that the website is so very complementary to the book, and 100% aligned with the ambition to convince and spread the word. Kindle-purchasable, too. Sample boggle (one of many): children of children born during the Chinese famine are smaller, and children who were in utero during Ramadan earn less as adults.
- The Web Is Shrinking (All Things D) — graph that makes Facebook look massively important and the rest of the web look insignificant. It doesn’t take into account the nature of the interaction (shopping? research? chat?), and depends heavily on the comScore visits metric being a reliable proxy for “use”. I’d expect to see other neutral measures of “use” decreasing (e.g., searches for “school holidays”) if overall web use were decreasing, yet they don’t seem to be. Nonetheless, Facebook has become the new millennium’s AOL: keywords, grandparents, and a zealous devotion to advertising. At least Facebook doesn’t send me #&#^%*ing CDs.
- Orphan Works Project (University of Michigan) — library will digitize orphaned works for researchers. Lovely to see someone breaking the paralysis that orphaned works induce. (via BoingBoing)
- log.io — node.js system for real-time log monitoring in your browser. (via Vasudev Ram)
Community, Metrics, Sensors, and Unicode
- Your Community is Your Best Feature — Gina Trapani’s CodeConf talk: useful, true, and moving. There’s not much in this world that has all three of those attributes.
- Metrics Everywhere — another CodeConf talk, this time explaining Yammer’s use of metrics to quantify the actual state of their operations. Nice philosophical guide to the different ways you want to measure things (gauges, counters, meters, histograms, and timers). I agree with the first half, but must say that it will always be an uphill battle to craft a panegyric that will make hearts and minds soar at the mention of “business value”. Such an ugly phrase for such an important idea. (via Bryce Roberts)
- On Earthquakes in Tokyo (Bunnie Huang) — Personal earthquake alarms are quite popular in Tokyo. Just as lightning precedes thunder, these alarms give you a few seconds warning to an incoming tremor. The alarm has a distinct sound, and this leads to a kind of pavlovian conditioning. All conversation stops, and everyone just waits in a state of heightened awareness, since the alarm can’t tell you how big it is—it just tells you one is coming. You can see the fight or flight gears turning in everyone’s heads. Some people cry; some people laugh; some people start texting furiously; others just sit and wait. Information won’t provoke the same reaction in everyone: for some it’s impending doom, for others another day at the office. Data is not neutral; it requires interpretation and context.
- AccentuateUs — Firefox plugin to Unicodify text (so if you type “cafe”, the software turns it into “café”). The math behind it is explained on the dataists blog. There’s an API and other interfaces, even a vim plugin.