Computer Software Archive (Jason Scott) — The Internet Archive is the largest collection of historical software online in the world. Find me someone bigger. Through these terabytes (!) of software, the whole of the software landscape of the last 50 years is settling in. (And documentation and magazines and …). Wow.
Hacking Secret Ciphers with Python — teaches complete beginners how to program in the Python programming language. The book features the source code to several ciphers and hacking programs for these ciphers. The programs include the Caesar cipher, transposition cipher, simple substitution cipher, multiplicative & affine ciphers, Vigenere cipher, and hacking programs for each of these ciphers. The final chapters cover the modern RSA cipher and public key cryptography.
Mobile Economics will Trend Towards Web Economics (Fred Wilson) — A central issue with the Internet, no matter what device and presentation layer you use to access it, is that there is an unlimited amount of content available. Evan Williams calls it “a web of infinite information” in this chat with Om Malik. What is valuable is filtering and curation. Restricting access to content doesn’t work. Someone else’s content will get filtered and curated instead of yours. Scarcity is not a viable business model on the Internet.
Magic Tile — geometric and topological analogues of Rubik’s Cube. Mindblowing fun with math.
Cash Cow Disease — quite harsh on Google and Microsoft for “ingesting not investing” in promising startups, then disconnecting them from market signals. Like pixie dust, potential future advertising revenues can be sprinkled on any revenue-negative scheme to make it look brilliant. (via Dan Martell)
Your Apps Are Watching You (Wall Street Journal) — the iPhone apps transmitted more data than the apps on phones using Google Inc.’s Android operating system […] Both the Android and iPhone versions of Pandora, a popular music app, sent age, gender, location and phone identifiers to various ad networks. iPhone and Android versions of a game called Paper Toss—players try to throw paper wads into a trash can—each sent the phone’s ID number to at least five ad companies. Grindr, an iPhone app for meeting gay men, sent gender, location and phone ID to three ad companies. […] Among all apps tested, the most widely shared detail was the unique ID number assigned to every phone. It is effectively a “supercookie,” […] on iPhones, this number is the “UDID,” or Unique Device Identifier. Android IDs go by other names. These IDs are set by phone makers, carriers or makers of the operating system, and typically can’t be blocked or deleted. “The great thing about mobile is you can’t clear a UDID like you can a cookie,” says Meghan O’Holleran of Traffic Marketplace, an Internet ad network that is expanding into mobile apps. “That’s how we track everything.”
On Undo’s Undue Importance (Paul Kedrosky) — The mainstream has money and risks, and so it cares immensely. It wants products and services where big failures aren’t catastrophic, and where small failures, the sorts of thing that “undo” fixes, can be rolled back. Undo matters, in other words, because its appearance almost always signals that a market has gone from fringe to mainstream, with profits set to follow. (via Tim O’Reilly on Twitter)
libimobiledevice — open source library that talks the protocols to support iPhone®, iPod Touch®, iPad® and Apple TV® devices without jailbreaking or proprietary libraries.
Comments Off on Four short links: 21 December 2010
On Compressing Social Networks (PDF) — paper looking at the theory and practice of compressing social network graphs. Our main innovation here is to come up with a quick and useful method for generating an ordering on the social network nodes so that nodes with lots of common neighbors are near each other in the ordering, a property which is useful for compression (via My Biased Coin, via Matt Biddulph on Delicious)
What is IBM’s Watson? (NY Times) — IBM joining the big data machine learning race, and hatching a Blue Gene system that can answer Jeopardy questions. Does good, not great, and is getting better.
Google Lays Out its Mobile Strategy (InformationWeek) — notable to me for Rechis said that Google breaks down mobile users into three behavior groups: A. “Repetitive now” B. “Bored now” C. “Urgent now”, a useful way to look at it. (via Tim)
BP GIS and the Mysteriously Vanishing Letter — intrigue in the geodata world. This post makes it sound as though cleanup data is going into a box behind BP’s firewall, and the folks who said “um, the government should be the depot, because it needs to know it has a guaranteed-untampered and guaranteed-able-to-access copy of this data” were fired. For more info, including on the data that is available, see the geowanking thread.
Lending Merry-Go-Round — these guys have been Australia’s sharpest satire for years, filling the role of the Daily Show. Here they ask some strong questions about the state of Europe’s economies … (via jdub on Twitter)
What I Learned About Engineering from the Panama Canal (Pete Warden) — I consider myself a cheerful pessimist. I’ve been through enough that I know how steep the odds of success are, but I’ve made a choice that even a hopeless fight in a good cause is worthwhile. What a lovely attitude!
Mapping the Evolution of Scientific Fields (PLoSone) — clever use of data. We build an idea network consisting of American Physical Society Physics and Astronomy Classification Scheme (PACS) numbers as nodes representing scientific concepts. Two PACS numbers are linked if there exist publications that reference them simultaneously. We locate scientific fields using a community finding algorithm, and describe the time evolution of these fields over the course of 1985-2006. The communities we identify map to known scientific fields, and their age depends on their size and activity. We expect our approach to quantifying the evolution of ideas to be relevant for making predictions about the future of science and thus help to guide its development.
Hernando de Soto: Shadow Economies — de Soto is an economist, and this ends up talking about the need for transparency and open data. As long as you don’t know who owns the greatest amount of your assets, there’s no info as to who owns what, who is related to what, you have a shadow economy. We live in one, and it has as a characteristic a permanent credit crunch. We know more about it than you do. Credit crunch is where you don’t know who you’d be lending to, so you don’t lend. It’s permanent, we live with it, and now you’re going to have to learn to live with it too, because until you know who is solvent how can you give anybody credit? You’re flying blind. (via Jon Udell)
Google Government Requests Tool –moving services into the cloud loses you control and privacy (see my presentation on the subject), and one way is by making your mail/browser history/etc. easier for law enforcement to get their hands on. There’s new moral ground here for service providers in what services they build, how they design their systems, and how they let people make informed choices. Google is one of the few companies around that are taking actions based on an analysis of what’s right, and whether or not they fall short of your moral conclusions on the subject, you have to give them credit for responding to the moral challenge. Compare to Facebook whose moral response has been to reduce user control over the use of their data.
GPL Inadequate for Open Source Voting Software — the GPL prohibits “additional restrictions”, but the US Government has requirements for its voting software that fall into that category. An interesting read. The solution will be a new open source license (sigh) but one that meets their specific and real needs. (via Glyn Moody)
SatScan — free software that analyzes spatial, temporal and space-time data using the spatial, temporal, or space-time scan statistics. It is designed for any of the following interrelated purposes: Perform geographical surveillance of disease, to detect spatial or space-time disease clusters, and to see if they are statistically significant; Test whether a disease is randomly distributed over space, over time or over space and time; Evaluate the statistical significance of disease cluster alarms; Perform repeated time-periodic disease surveillance for early detection of disease outbreaks. (via ancodezambia on Delicious)
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)
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 Internet of Things That Do What You Tell Them: Cory Doctorow passionately explains how computers are already entwined in our lives, which means laws that support lock-in are much more than inconveniences.