LittleBlackBox (Google Code) — a collection of thousands of private SSL and SSH keys extracted from various embedded devices. These private keys are stored in a database where they are correlated with their public certificates as well as the hardware/firmware that are known to use those private keys. (via Pedram Amini)
A Brief History of Money (IEEE) — money is fragmenting, moving from a shared delusion to a just-in-time collusion. Understand its past to understand its future. The Lydian system’s breakthrough was the standardized metal coin. Made of a gold-silver alloy called electrum, one coin was exactly like another—unlike, say, cattle. Also unlike cattle, the coins didn’t age or die or otherwise change over time. And they were much easier to carry around. Other kingdoms followed Lydia’s example, and coins became ubiquitous throughout the Mediterranean, with kingdoms stamping their insignia on the coins they minted. This had a dual effect: It facilitated the flow of trade, and it established the authority of the state. Money and power are intertwined. With Anonymous popup-tent power structures and uncertainty over the meaning of “state” in the age of the Internet, we’re waiting for the money flip. Paypal was step 1. Bitcoin was step 2. What next?
Senate Are Dicks to Open Source (Wired) — In a bill recently introduced on Capitol Hill, the committee questions whether Accumulo runs afoul of a government policy that prevents federal agencies from building their own software when they have access to commercial alternatives. The bill could ban the Department of Defense from using the NSA’s database — and it could force the NSA to meld the project’s security tools with other open source projects that mimic Google’s BigTable. Because software development is best governed by politicians. FFS.
Open Source at NetFlix — we’ve observed that the peer pressure from “Social Coding” has driven engineers to make sure code is clean and well structured, documentation is useful and up to date. What we’ve learned is that a component may be “Good enough for running in production, but not good enough for Github”. This quote is gold. (via Matt Asay)
Mobile Money (The Economist) — Many people know that “mobile money”—financial transactions on mobile phones—has taken off in Africa. How far it has gone, though, still comes as a bit of a shock. Three-quarters of the countries that use mobile money most frequently are in Africa, and mobile banking in some of them has reached extraordinary levels.
Akka — Apache-licensed Java high-performance concurrency library built around the concept of “actors“. (via Hacker News)
Loom.io Project — help crowdfund a collaborative decision-making tool. They’re using it as they build the tool, and it’s the implementation of a process they use in real life. I know many organisations who need a free open-source web application that helps groups make better decisions together. You should probably read more about the interesting company Enspiral which is behind loom.io.
Princeton Open Access Report (PDF) — academics will need written permission to assign copyright of a paper to a journal. Of course, the faculty already had exclusive rights in the scholarly articles they write; the main effect of this new policy is to prevent them from giving away all their rights when they publish in a journal. (via CC Huang)
Good Faith Collaboration — a book on Wikipedia’s culture, from MIT Press. Distributed, appropriately, under a Creative Commons Non-Commercial Share-Alike license.
The Local-Global Flip — an EDGE conversation (or monologue) by Jaron Lanier that contains more thought-provocation per column-inch than anything else you’ll read this week. [I]ncreasing efficiency by itself doesn’t employ people. There is a difference between saving and making money when you’re unemployed. Once you’re already rich, saving money and making money is the same thing, but for people who are on the bottom or even in the middle classes, saving money doesn’t help you if you don’t have the money to save in the first place. and The beauty of money is it creates a system of people leaving each other alone by mutual agreement. It’s the only invention that does that that I’m aware of. In a world of finite limits where you don’t have an infinite West you can expand into, money is the thing that gives you a little bit of peace and quiet, where you can say, “It’s my money, I’m spending it”. and I’m astonished at how readily a great many people I know, young people, have accepted a reduced economic prospect and limited freedoms in any substantial sense, and basically traded them for being able to screw around online. There are just a lot of people who feel that being able to get their video or their tweet seen by somebody once in a while gets them enough ego gratification that it’s okay with them to still be living with their parents in their 30s, and that’s such a strange tradeoff. And if you project that forward, obviously it does become a problem. are things I’m still chewing on, many days after first reading.
Trolled by Gerry Sussman (Bryan O’Sullivan) — Bryan gave a tutorial on Haskell to a conference on leading-edge programming languages and distributed systems. At one point, Gerry had a pretty amusing epigram to offer. “Haskell is the best of the obsolete programming languages!” he pronounced, with a mischievous look. Now, I know when I’m being trolled, so I said nothing and waited a moment, whereupon he continued, “but don’t take it the wrong way—I think they’re all obsolete!”
Unethical Ventures (All Things D) — astonishing slam on the new venture fund that Michael Arrington (founder of TechCrunch) will be running while still writing for TechCrunch. This could have been a lot cleaner, of course, by Arrington simply resigning from TechCrunch, becoming a VC and perhaps starting a new blog where his agenda is much clearer, from which he could huff and puff away as he does with much entertaining gusto at real and (mostly) imagined slights. There is certainly precedent for VCs blogging, including Fred Wilson, Brad Feld and Ben Horowitz. And, despite my criticisms about ethics, it is clear that Arrington is a talented writer whose unique voice would be even stronger if it was truly seen as separate from what has become a news organization. But because of his obvious need to be the center of attention — requiring the ermine kingmaker mantle and foisting his patented I’m-here-to-tell-it-like-it-is attitude on us all — that appears to be impossible.
An iOS Developer Takes on Android — a very easy to follow comparison of the two platforms from a developer who worked on both and who is carefully not partisan. I hadn’t realized before what an advantage OpenGL confers to the iOS devices. It’s not just for 3D games any more (he says, catching up with 2008).
Developer Experience — new site from ex-Google developer evangelist Pamela Fox, talking about the experience that API- and software-offering companies give to the developers they’re wooing.
Pros and Cons of Mechanical Turk for Scientific Surveys (Scientific American blogs) — So far, some indicators suggest Turk is a trustworthy source. Rand (2011) used IP address logging to verify subjects’ self-reported country of residence, and found that 97% of responses are accurate. He also compared the consistency of a range of demographic variables reported by the same subjects across two different studies, and found between 81% and 98% agreement, depending on the variable. (via Vaughan Bell)
HTTP Archive Mobile — mobile performance data. The top 100 web pages average out at 271kb vs 401kb for their desktop incarnations, which still seems unjustifiably high to me.
Skype at Conferences — The two editors of the book were due to lead the session but were at the wrong ends of a skype three way video conference which stuttered into a dalekian half life without really quite making the breakthrough into comprehensibility. After various attempts to rewire, reconfigure and reboot, we gave up and had what turned into a good conversation among the dozen people round the table in London. Conference organizers, take note: Skype at conferences is a recipe for fail.
Fundraising on Facebook — only 7% [of companies surveyed] cited social networking as one of their most effective sources for customer acquisition [...] only 2.4% of non-profits were able to raise over 10k through Facebook in 2010. (via Chris Brogan)
Groklaw Closes — There will be other battles, and there already are, because the same people that propped SCO up are still going to try to destroy Linux, but the battlefield has shifted, and I don’t feel Groklaw is needed in the new battlefield the way it was in the SCO v. Linux wars. PJ did a wonderful thing and we’ll miss both her and GrokLaw. (via Don Christie)
Google Maps ToC Changes — we now require that any new Maps API applications going forward display any advertising delivered in the maps imagery, unless the site concerned has a Google Maps API Premier license. (via Flowing Data)
Root Strikers — Lessig’s new project. Thoreau wrote, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” The root of our political evils is money. Our goal is to build a network of rootstrikers—to talk about this issue, clearly identify the problem, and work together towards practical reforms. At the moment it’s “post and comment” site, a forum, but I hope he’s building an army to channel to other acts. Check out his splendid talk on the subject.
Debt: The First 5,000 Years — Throughout its 5000 year history, debt has always involved institutions – whether Mesopotamian sacred kingship, Mosaic jubilees, Sharia or Canon Law – that place controls on debt’s potentially catastrophic social consequences. It is only in the current era, writes anthropologist David Graeber, that we have begun to see the creation of the first effective planetary administrative system largely in order to protect the interests of creditors. (via Tim O’Reilly)
MIT Autonomous Quadcopter — MIT drone makes a map of a room in real time using an X Box Kinect and is able to navigate through it. All calculations performed on board the multicopter. Wow. (via Slashdot and Sara Winge)
How Great Entrepreneurs Think — leaving aside the sloppy open-mouth kisses to startups that “great entrepreneurs” implies, an interesting article comparing the mindsets of corporate execs with entrepreneurs. I’d love to read the full interviews and research paper. Sarasvathy explains that entrepreneurs’ aversion to market research is symptomatic of a larger lesson they have learned: They do not believe in prediction of any kind. “If you give them data that has to do with the future, they just dismiss it,” she says. “They don’t believe the future is predictable…or they don’t want to be in a space that is very predictable.” [...] the careful forecast is the enemy of the fortuitous surprise. (via Sacha Judd)
Android Tablet — the PanDigital Novel is a wifi-enabled book-reader that’s easily modded to run Android and thus a pile of other software. Not available for sale yet, but “coming soon”. A hint of the delights to come as low-cost Android tablets hit the market.