Malignant Computation — The bitcoin mining network would work just as well if it had far less computation devoted to it. Bitcoins would be mined at exactly the same rate if 1/2 or 1/4 of the computational resources were devoted. This means that bitcoin has incentivized a tremendous amount of computational busy work.
GDS Becomes Political (Computer Weekly) — She [Opposition MP] said that digital should not be about imposing a way of working on the public sector – Labour is not fond of the “digital by default” mantra – but about supporting public service delivery. [...] “When this government decided upon the digitalisation of this [online job search] service they apparently did not take into account those with poor literacy skills, mental health issues or learning difficulties – who, as most people would have predicted, make up a higher-than-average proportion of the unemployed.”
streamtools (Github) — a graphical toolkit for dealing with streams of data. Streamtools makes it easy to explore, analyse, modify and learn from streams of data. (via OpenNews)
Google’s Seven Robotics Companies (IEEE) — The seven companies are capable of creating technologies needed to build a mobile, dexterous robot. Mr. Rubin said he was pursuing additional acquisitions. Rundown of those seven companies.
Hebel (Github) — GPU-Accelerated Deep Learning Library in Python.
What We Learned Open Sourcing — my eye was caught by the way they offered APIs to closed source code, found and solved performance problems, then open sourced the fixed code.
intention.js — manipulates the DOM via HTML attributes. The methods for manipulation are placed with the elements themselves, so flexible layouts don’t seem so abstract and messy.
F1: A Distributed SQL Database That Scales — a distributed relational database system built at Google to support the AdWords business. F1 is a hybrid database that combines high availability, the scalability of NoSQL systems like Bigtable, and the consistency and usability of traditional SQL databases. F1 is built on Spanner, which provides synchronous cross-datacenter replication and strong consistency. Synchronous replication implies higher commit latency, but we mitigate that latency by using a hierarchical schema model with structured data types and through smart application design. F1 also includes a fully functional distributed SQL query engine and automatic change tracking and publishing.
Looking Inside The (Drop)Box (PDF) — This paper presents new and generic techniques, to reverse engineer frozen Python applications, which are not limited to just the Dropbox world. We describe a method to bypass Dropbox’s two factor authentication and hijack Dropbox accounts. Additionally, generic techniques to intercept SSL data using code injection techniques and monkey patching are presented. (via Tech Republic)
How Google is Killing Organic Search — 13% of the real estate is organic results in a search for “auto mechanic”, 7% for “italian restaurant”, 0% if searching on an iPhone where organic results are four page scrolls away. SEO Book did an extensive analysis of just how important the top left of the page, previously occupied by organic results actually is to visitors. That portion of the page is now all Google. (via Alex Dong)
Church — probabilistic programming language from MIT, with tutorials. (via Edd Dumbill)
mesos — a cluster manager that provides efficient resource isolation and sharing across distributed applications, or frameworks. It can run Hadoop, MPI, Hypertable, Spark (a new framework for low-latency interactive and iterative jobs), and other applications. Mesos is open source in the Apache Incubator. (via Ben Lorica)
Web Traffic Visualization — Dots enter when transactions start and exit when completed. Their speed is proportional to client’s response time while their size reflects the server’s contribution to total time. Color comes from the specific request. (via Nelson Minar)
Open Fit — open source software that investigates several approaches to generating custom tailored pants patterns. Open Fit Lab is an attempt to use this software for on-the-spot generation and creation of custom clothes. (via Kaitlin Thaney)
OATV Fund III Pitch Deck (Slideshare) — contains a list of what they were investing in, and what they want to invest in with the new round. Then: Quantified self; Internet subsystems; Smart networks of things; Manipulation and visualization of big data; sustainability; Maker movement. Now: Quantified Self Pro; Maker Pro; Hacking Education; Hidden Economies; Operations as Competitive Advantage; A Router in Every Pocket; The Internet Operating System. The move to “Pro” interests me, too. (via Bryce Roberts)
The Network is Reliable — Many applications silently degrade when the network fails, and resulting problems may not be understood for some time—if they are understood at all. [...] much of what we know about the failure modes of real-world distributed systems is founded on guesswork and rumor. [...] In this post, we’d like to bring a few of these stories together. We believe this is a first step towards a more open and honest discussion of real-world partition behavior, and, ultimately, more robust distributed systems design.
Wisee (PDF) — recognising gestures using disturbances in the (wifi) force. Our results show that WiSee can identify and classify a set of nine gestures with an average accuracy of 94%. (via BoingBoing)
Why Your Users Hate Agile Development (IT World) — What developers see as iterative and flexible, users see as disorganized and never-ending. Here’s how some experienced developers have changed that perception. (via Slashdot)
Deep Learning Using Support Vector Machines (Arxiv) — we are proposing to train all layers of the deep networks by backpropagating gradients through the top level SVM, learning features of all layers. Our experiments show that simply replacing softmax with linear SVMs gives significant gains on datasets MNIST, CIFAR-10, and the ICML 2013 Representation Learning Workshop’s face expression recognition challenge. (via Oliver Grisel)
Addressing Human Trafficking Through Technology (danah boyd) — technologists love to make tech and then assert it’ll help people. Danah’s work on teens and now trafficking steers us to do what works, rather than what is showy or easiest.
Product Management (Rowan Simpson) — hand this to anyone who asks what product management actually is. Excellent explanation.
Xenotext — Sci Foo Camper Christian Bök is closer to his goal of “living poetry”: A short stanza enciphered into a string of DNA and injected into an “unkillable” bacterium, Bök’s poem is designed to trigger the micro-organism to create a corresponding protein that, when decoded, is a verse created by the organism. In other words, the harmless bacterium, Deinococcus radiodurans (known as an extremophile because of its ability to survive freezing, scorching, or the vacuum of outer space), will be a poetic bug.
Notes on Distributed Systems for Young Bloods — why distributed systems are different. Coordination is very hard. Avoid coordinating machines wherever possible. This is often described as “horizontal scalability”. The real trick of horizontal scalability is independence – being able to get data to machines such that communication and consensus between those machines is kept to a minimum. Every time two machines have to agree on something, the service is harder to implement. Information has an upper limit to the speed it can travel, and networked communication is flakier than you think, and your idea of what constitutes consensus is probably wrong.