- SMS in Disaster Response — Haitians SMS urgent needs to 4636, where they’re translated through crowdsourcing and acted on. All based on the Uhsahidi SMS engine.
- Inside Open Source’s Historic Victory — open source developer wins against someone who took his work, added it to an open patent application, and then sued the open source developer for violating his patent.
- What’s Wrong with Confidence (Pete Warden) — the lean startup approach and the scientific method. Good read, with two magnificent quotes: “Strong opinions, weakly held, and Confidence is vital for getting things done, but it has to be a spur to test your theories, not a lazy substitute for gathering evidence.
- If You’re a Pirate — the user experience of legitimate DVDs is shite. That’s not the only reason that people pirate, but it sure ain’t helping.
Disaster SMS, Open Source Win, Confidence, Pirate Experience
Android Charting, Trojan Cameras, Web-based IDE, Projected UIs
- Chartdroid — an open source charting library for Android.
- China Bugs and Burgles Britain — The gifts — cameras and memory sticks — have been found to contain electronic Trojan bugs which provide the Chinese with remote access to users’ computers. Beware geeks bearing gifts.
- Bespin — sexy HTML5 “code-in-the-cloud” IDE from Mozilla Labs. If the future is truly in locked-down hack-free devices whose only interface to the world is through the web browser, these sorts of IDEs are going to become critical for finding and raising the next generation of hackers.
- Light Blue Optics’ Light Touch turns any surface into a color touchscreen display (Engadget) — projects a UI and a built-in camera picks up your interactions with it.
Science Publishing, iState of the Union, Synthetic Bio Obstacles, UK Government Cloud
- Why I Am Disappointed with Nature Communications (Cameron Neylon) — fascinating to learn what you can’t do with “non-commercial”-licensed science research: using a paper for commercially funded research even within a university, using the content of paper to support a grant application, using the paper to judge a patent application, using a paper to assess the viability of a business idea.
- The iState of the Union (Slate) — humorous take on the State of the Union address, as given by Steve Jobs.
- Five Obstacles for Synthetic Biology — a reminder that biology is bloody hard, natural or synthetic. “There are very few molecular operations that you understand in the way that you understand a wrench or a screwdriver or a transistor,” says Rob Carlson, a principal at the engineering, consulting and design company Biodesic in Seattle, Washington. And the difficulties multiply as the networks get larger, limiting the ability to design more complex systems. A 2009 review showed that although the number of published synthetic biological circuits has risen over the past few years, the complexity of those circuits — or the number of regulatory parts they use — has begun to flatten out. (via Sciblogs)
- UK Government to Set Up Own Cloud (Guardian) — will build a dozen data centres (each costing £250m) and push for open source on central and local government computers, eventually resulting in thin clients and “shared utilities”. (via jasonwyran on Twitter)
Brazilian Open Source, PostgreSQL Replication, Bug Fixing Lessons, Copyright Fail
- Governmental Open Source Software Policies: Brazil Experience (World Bank) — the slides give the gist, and the range of places in which open source is being used in Brazil is quite staggering: digital TV middleware, sewage management systems, local government management systems. (via lhawthorn on Twitter)
- Bucardo — PostgreSQL master/slave replication system. (via Selena Deckelmann)
- Learning from 10 Years of Bugzilla Data — presentation looking for bug-fixing patterns in open source projects. (via Mark Surman)
- Copyright Fail (BoingBoing) — rare out-of-copyright Jack Benny masters discovered in the CBS vaults, but CBS won’t release them or say why. As Cory says, “this isn’t how copyright is supposed to work.”
Best Science Blogging, Nat Friedman, State of the World, MTA Data
- The Open Laboratory — collection of the best science writing on blogs from the last year. For more, see an interview with the author. Part of a growing trend where online comes first and feeds offline. (via sciblogs)
- Nat Friedman Leaving Novell — one of the original Ximian founders, with interests in many directions and the coding chops to make them real. He’ll found another startup, topic as yet unknown, which will be one to watch.
- Bruce Sterling’s State of the World 2010 — sometimes funny, often thought-provoking, always interesting. Americans really want and need and desire a Futuristic Vision Thing, they get all lonesome and moody without one, but it’s absolutely gotta be one of those good-old-fashioned American Futuristic Vision Things, just like the Americans had in the 1950s when everybody else was still on fire from total war and cleaning up the death camps.
- MTA Releases Data — NYC finally releases transit data, free for developers to reuse. (via timoreilly on Twitter)
Google for Good, Flash in JS, Pop Software, and Scientific Publishing
- Four Possible Explanations for Google’s Big China Move (Ethan Zuckerman) — I’m staying out of the public commentary on this one, but Ethan’s fourth point was wonderfully thought provoking: a Google-backed anticensorship system (perhaps operated in conjunction with some of the smart activists and engineers who’ve targeted censorship in Iran and China?) would be massively more powerful (and threatening!) than the systems we know about today. It’s deliciously provocative to ask what the world’s strongest tech company could do if it wanted to be actively good, rather than merely “not evil”.
- Pop Software — great blog post about this new category of software. The people who are consuming software now are a vast superset of the people who used to do so. At one time, especially on the Mac, we’d see people chose software based upon how well it suited their requirements to get a job done. This new generation of software consumers isn’t like that – they’re less likely to shop around for something rather they shop around for anything. These are people who want to be entertained as much as they want to have their requirements met. […] Apps are not Applications – they are their own things. They are smaller. They are more fun. Pop software has amazing scale, is hit-driven, is a very hard business for developers, and isn’t going away. (via timo on Delicious)
- Why Hasn’t Scientific Publishing Been Disrupted? — an analysis of the scientific publishing world: what roles it serves, how some of those roles can be better served by new technology, and which roles are still mired in traditions and performance plans anchored to the old models. As is often the case, people won’t move to the new system when the amount they’re paid is determined by the old system. (via timoreilly on Twitter)
Healthcare Data, GNU Econometrics Library, Visualizing Changes, View Source Under Attack
- Testing, Testing — at the end of an interesting article on health care reform comes this: The poverty of our health-care information is an embarrassment. At the end of each month, we have county-by-county data on unemployment, and we have prompt and detailed data on the price of goods and commodities; we can use these indicators to guide our economic policies. But try to look up information on your community’s medical costs and utilization—or simply try to find out how many people died from heart attacks or pneumonia or surgical complications—and you will discover that the most recent data are at least three years old, if they exist at all, and aren’t broken down to a county level that communities can learn from. It’s like driving a car with a speedometer that tells you only how fast all cars were driving, on average, three years ago.. (via auchmill on Twitter)
- Gretl: The GNU Regression, Econometrics, and Time-Series Library — GPLed cross-platform software package for econometric analysis, written in the C programming language. (via Hacker News)
- 11 Ways to Visualize Changes Over Time (Flowing Data) — just what it says. (via mattb on Delicious)
- View Source is Good? Discuss (Alex Russell) — fantastic post, mandatory reading. View-source was necessary (but not sufficient) to make HTML the dominant application platform of our times. I also hold that it is under attack — not least of all from within — and that losing view-source poses a significant danger to the overall health of the web.
Market Forces, Enterprise Fail, Analytics X Prize, Open-Sourced Privacy Subsystem
- How Visa, Using Card Fees, Dominates a Market — (NY Times) two interesting lessons here. First, that incentives to create a good system are easily broken when three parties are involved (here Visa sets the fees that merchants pay banks, so it’s in Visa’s interest to raise those fees as high as possible to encourage more banks to offer Visa cards). Second, that that value-based charging (“regardless of our costs, we’ll charge as much as we can without bankrupting or driving away all of you”) sounds great when you’re doing the charging but isn’t so appealing when you’re on the paying end. Visa justifies its fees not on the grounds of cost to provide the service, but rather by claiming that their service makes everything more convenient and so people shop more.
- Doing It Wrong (Tim Bray) — What I’m writing here is the single most important take-away from my Sun years, and it fits in a sentence: The community of developers whose work you see on the Web, who probably don’t know what ADO or UML or JPA even stand for, deploy better systems at less cost in less time at lower risk than we see in the Enterprise. This is true even when you factor in the greater flexibility and velocity of startups. I’ve been working with a Big Company and can only agree with this: The point is that that kind of thing simply cannot be built if you start with large formal specifications and fixed-price contracts and change-control procedures and so on. So if your enterprise wants the sort of outcomes we’re seeing on the Web (and a lot more should), you’re going to have to adopt some of the cultures and technologies that got them built.
- Analytics X Prize — The Analytics X Prize is an ongoing contest to apply analytics, modeling, and statistics to solve the social problems that affect our cities. It combines the fields of statistics, mathematics, and social science to understand the root causes of dysfunction in our neighborhoods. Understanding these relationships and discovering the most highly correlated variables allows us to deploy our limited resources more effectively and target the variables that will have the greatest positive impact on improvement. The first contest is to predict homicides in Philadelphia. (via mikeloukides on Twitter)
- Protecting Cloud Secrets with Grendel (Wesabe blog) — new open source package that implements Wesabe’s policies for safe handling of customer data. It uses OpenPGP to store data, and offers access to the encrypted data via an internal (behind-the-firewall) REST service. The data can only be decrypted with the user’s password. Hopefully the first of many standard tools and practices for respecting privacy.