- Meet The Sims and Shoot Them — America’s Army has proven so popular globally that, with so many users signing on from Internet cafes in China, the Chinese government tried to ban it. Full of interesting factoids like this about US military-created first person shooter America’s Army and other military uses of games. (via Jim Stogdill)
- Most Overused Cloud Metaphors, Sorted by Weather Pattern — headline writers beware: you are not being original with your “does the cloud have a silver lining?” folderol. (via lennysan on Twitter)
- Simply Understand — web site that translates a lot of UK government consultation documents (notorious for pompous and intricate prose) into plain English.
- Simple Event Correlator — small Unix part to find event correlations. It isn’t doing data mining to find correlations in a data stream, but rather you write rules like “tell me if X happens within Y seconds of a Z” and it takes events on stdin and emits correlations on stdout. (via NeilNeely on Twitter)
The Army launches Apps for Army. Contest or harbinger of the hybrid enterprise that combines planning and emergence under one roof? Apps for Army looks to uncork the Army's cognitive surplus and let soldiers start solving their own problems in code without the personal risk of going off reservation to do it.
War Games, Cloud Metaphors, Plain English, and Event Correlations
- How Twitter Works in Theory (Kevin Marks) — very nice summary about the conceptual properties of Twitter that let it work. Both Google and Twitter have little boxes for you to type into, but on Google you’re looking for information, and expecting a machine response, whereas on Twitter you’re declaring an emotion and expecting a human response. This is what leads to unintentionally ironic newspaper columns bemoaning public banality, because they miss that while you don’t care what random strangers feel about their lunch, you do if its your friend on holiday in Pompeii.
- Army To Test Wiki-Style Changes to The 7 Manuals — In early July the Army will conduct a 90-day online test using seven existing manuals that every soldier, from private to general officer, will have the opportunity to read and modify in a “wiki”-style environment. (via timoreilly on Twitter)
- Open Data Standards Don’t Apply To The Military — It’s that last particular point that should be the most disturbing to the administration. Apparently all geospatial data being developed and utilized by the USAFA would be unusable without a sole software vendor. This causes concern over broader interoperability with other agencies and organizations, access to important national information, and archivability and retrievability. Expose of the single-source “standard” vendor lockin in US military geosoftware and geodata. (via johnmscott on Twitter)
Copytweet, MacMarket iShare, Open Source Under Fire, and OLPC War Stories
- Are Tweets Copyright-Protected (WIPO) — According to an Internet posting on blogherald.com by Jonathan Bailey, every time a new communication technology emerges, it shifts the copyright landscape, and new copyright issues that do not fit existing intellectual property (IP) standards arise. With Twitter, for example, while its terms of service clearly state that tweeters own anything they post on the service, the 140-character limit to a Twitter post makes it almost impossible for the work to reach the level of creativity required for copyright protection. In the same vein, titles or short phrases usually cannot be protected since their length contributes to their lack of originality, as defined by copyright law. A roundup of the copyright issues raised by Twitter, which is a little like a roundup of the climate issues raised by ants.
- Apple Has 90% Revenue Share Of >$1000 Computers (Ars Technica) — wow. (via publicaddress on Twitter)
- Open Source on the Battlefield — Fortunately, SFC Stadtler knew how to use open source software. Using found hardware, like a laptop pulled from the trash, and wires pulled from collapsed buildings, he was able to establish a wireless network between the towers and the home base. He was able to install freely available voice-over-ip software on this recycled hardware, which turned the computer into a wireless telephone. The soldiers were now able to communicate with each other and the home base. At no cost. (via Jim Stogdill)
- Sweet Nonsense Omelet (Ivan Krstić) — Horror stories from the inside about the shoddy suppliers of OLPC hardware. Thinking back, there’s a hardware incident I remember particularly fondly: one of our vendors sent us a kernel driver patch which enhanced support for their component in our machine. They chose to implement the enhancement by setting up a hole which allowed any unprivileged user to take over the kernel, prompting our kernel guy to send a private e-mail to the OLPC tech team demanding that, in the future, we avoid buying hardware from companies whose programmers are, direct quote, “crack-smoking hobos”.
Spies, Community, International Success, and DNA Origami
- Supermap — The CIA’s venture capital arm, In-Q-Tel, is paying an undisclosed sum to California-based Geosemble Technologies to develop an intelligence version of the “geospatial data integration and layering technology” that the company developed for use by urban planners, real estate investors and market analysts. The technology combines overhead imagery, maps and heavy-duty data mining to create a map-based intelligence capability reminiscent of the Pentagon’s former Total Information Awareness program. When the project is done – and In-Q-Tel won’t say how soon that might be – CIA agents will be able to merge aerial images and electronic maps on a computer screen. Then they will be able to click on the building or other item of interest and all manner of information will pop up: who the tenants are, phone numbers, company records, links to company and organization Web sites, news reports related to the tenants or incidents at the address, property records, tax data and more. I love that Cheap Suit Susan, your local real estate agent, had the technology before the CIA. It’s like learning that Lionel Hutz has a missile defense system to stop his house being TPed.
- 7 Harsh Truths About Running Communities — As the leader of your community, your personality sets the tone. As a result if the community behaves in ways you do not want, then you only have yourself to blame. I have seen many bloggers write about the negative comments they get on their posts. In most cases this is due to the tone they themselves strike in their writing. Although there are exceptions I believe that users will respond in the same voice you yourself set. If you are irreverent, then so will your users be. If you are rude, expect rude responses. “Social software” is an anachronism-software that doesn’t let users interact has become antisocial software. Every web creator needs to know what successful communities have in common. (via Julie Starr)
- Lingopal is Big in Japan (Lance Wiggs) — Turns out we are biggest in Japan. We have done no marketing there – it is all organic growth as our google ad writing and PR ability is not so good in Japanese. More anecdata for my belief that, while chance favours the prepared mind (as Louis Pasteur said), we routinely use post-hoc rationalisation to explain why it was inevitable that this or that lucky SOB hit it big.
- DNA Origami Seeds: Bottom-Up Methods for Molecular Self-Assembly (US News) — Winfree’s coworker at Caltech, Paul W. K. Rothemund, pioneered the seed-DNA technology that allows tiny “DNA origami” structures to self-assemble into nearly arbitrary shapes (such as a smiley face and a map of the Western Hemisphere). The researchers designed several different versions of a DNA origami rectangle, 95 by 75 nanometers, which served as the seeds for the growth of different types of ribbon-like DNA crystals. The seeds were combined in a test tube with other bits of DNA, called “tiles,” heated, and then cooled slowly. At the lower temperature, the tiles start to stick to each other and to the origami. In this way, the DNA ribbons self-assemble, but only into forms such as ribbons with particular widths and ribbons with stripe patterns prescribed by the original seed.
Soldiers on the ground need to know the territory they patrol like the back of their hand. Knowing where insurgents like to plant IEDs or that an important political leader lives in a certain house can prove the difference between success and failure. But what happens when a platoon transfers out of Baghdad and a brand new one moves in? All that experience used to go out the window. But thanks to TIGR, a map-based knowledge-base developed by DARPA, platoons can now document information they learn on patrol, as well as accessing the latest intelligence. In this interview, hear how TIGR was developed, how it is helping troops stay alive and perform their missions better, and what the realities of deploying a brand new technology into a war zone are.