- Ghostery — a browser plugin to block trackers, web bugs, dodgy scripts, ads, and anything else you care to remove from your browsing experience. It looks like a very well done adblocker, but it’s done (a) closed-source and (b) for-profit. Blocking trackers is something every browser *should* do, but because browser makers make (or hope to make) money from ads, they don’t. In theory, Mozilla should do it. Even if they were to take up the mantle, though, they’re unlikely to make anything for IE or Chrome. So it’s in the hands of companies with inarticulate business models. (via Andy Baio)
- Perspectives — Firefox plugin that lets you know when you’ve encountered an SSL certificate that’s different from the ones that other Perspectives users see (e.g., you’re being man-in-the-middled by Iran). (via Francois Marier)
- Always Connected — “I’ve got a full day of staring at glowing rectangles ahead of me! Better get started …”. I have made mornings and evenings backlight-free zones in an effort to carve out some of the day free of glowing rectangles. (I do still read myself to sleep on the Kindle, though, but it’s not backlit)
- Is Teaching MapReduce Healthy for Students? — Google’s narrow MapReduce API conflates logical semantics (define a function over all items in a collection) with an expensive physical implementation (utilize a parallel barrier). As it happens, many common cluster-wide operations over a collection of items do not require a barrier even though they may require all-to-all communication. But there’s no way to tell the API whether a particular Reduce method has that property, so the runtime always does the most expensive thing imaginable in distributed coordination: global synchronization. Detailed and interesting criticism of whether Hadoop is the BASIC of parallel tools. (via Pete Warden)
ENTRIES TAGGED "parallel"
Privacy Plugins, Dodgy SSL Spotter, Glowing Rectangles, and Huckory Hadoop
Gamification Critique, Google+ API, Time Series Visualization, and SQL on Map-Reduce
- A Quick Buck by Copy and Paste — scorching review of O’Reilly’s Gamification by Design title. tl;dr: reviewer, he does not love. Tim responded on Google Plus. Also on the gamification wtfront, Mozilla Open Badges. It talks about establishing a part of online identity, but to me it feels a little like a Mozilla Open Gradients project would: cargocult-confusing the surface for the substance.
- Google + API Launched — first piece of a Google + API is released. It provides read-only programmatic access to people, posts, checkins, and shares. Activities are retrieved as triples of (subject, verb, object), which is semweb cute and ticks the social object box, but is unlikely in present form to reverse Declining numbers of users.
- Cube — open source time-series visualization software from Square, built on MongoDB, Node, and Redis. As Artur Bergman noted, the bigger news might be that Square is using MongoDB (known meh).
- Tenzing — an SQL implementation on top of Map/Reduce. Tenzing supports a mostly complete SQL implementation (with several extensions) combined with several key characteristics such as heterogeneity, high performance, scalability, reliability, metadata awareness, low latency, support for columnar storage and structured data, and easy extensibility. Tenzing is currently used internally at Google by 1000+ employees and serves 10000+ queries per day over 1.5 petabytes of compressed data. In this paper, we describe the architecture and implementation of Tenzing, and present benchmarks of typical analytical queries. (via Raphaël Valyi)
STM in Python, Static Web is Back, Cyberwar, and Virtual Language Education
- STM in PyPy — a proposal to add software transactional memory to the all-Python Python interpreter as a way of simplifying concurrent programming. I first learned about STM from Haskell’s Simon Peyton-Jones at OSCON. (via Nelson Minar)
- Werner Vogels’ Static Web Site on S3 — nice writeup of the toolchain to publish a web site to static files served from S3.
- China Inadvertently Reveals State-Sponsored Hacking — if UK, US, France, Israel, or Chinese citizens believe their government doesn’t have malware and penetration teams working on extracting information from foreign governments, they’re dreaming.
- MyChinese360 — virtual foreign language instruction in Mandarin, including “virtual visits” to Chinese landmarks. The ability to get native speakers virtually into the classroom makes the Internet a huge asset for rural schools. (via Lucy Gray)
Minecraft Emergent Behaviour, Algorithmic 3D Printing, Automated MapReduce Optimization, and Multi-Device Preview
- Anonymity in Bitcoin — TL;DR: Bitcoin is not inherently anonymous. It may be possible to conduct transactions is such a way so as to obscure your identity, but, in many cases, users and their transactions can be identified. We have performed an analysis of anonymity in the Bitcoin system and published our results in a preprint on arXiv. (via Hacker News)
- 3D Printing + Algorithmic Generation — clever designers use algorithms based on leaf vein generation to create patterns for lamps, which are then 3d-printed. (via Imran Ali)
- Manimal: Relational Optimization for Data-Intensive Programs (PDF) — static code analysis to detect MapReduce program semantics and thereby enable wholly-automatic optimization of MapReduce programs. (via BigData)
- Screenfly — preview your site in different devices’ screen sizes and resolutions. (via Smashing Magazine)
Shadowy CSS, Bitcoin Mining, Graphics API, Date Design
- OMG Text — a plugin for CSS framework Compass for directional text shadows. (via David Kaneda)
- Build a Cheap Bitcoin Mine — some day it will be revealed that the act of generating a bitcoin token is helping the Russian mafia to crack nuclear missile launch codes and Afghan druglords built the Bitcoin system to destabilize the US dollar.
- Polycode — a free, open-source, cross-platform framework for creative code. You can use it as a C++ API or as a standalone scripting language to get easy and simple access to accelerated 2D and 3D graphics, hardware shaders, sound and network programming, physics engines and more. The core Polycode API is written in C++ and can be used to create portable native applications. Lua interfaces. (via Joshua Schachter)
- Flickr Date Design — interesting thoughts on Flickr’s date design. The date your photos was taken is stored in a MySQL datetime technically giving you the ability to label your photo as being taken solidly 800+ years before anything most of us would describe as the invention of photography. Which is a little silly.[...]Fundamentally this split between system activity time, and human editable creation date models a world where the people who use your software do something other then use your software. You have to decide how you feel about admitting that possibility. (via Nelson Minar)
Node.JS Cluster, Experience Culture, Robots in Education, and Homebrew Printer
- Nokia Culture Will Out (Adam Greenfield) — Except that, as realized by Nokia, this is precisely what failed to happen. I experienced, in fact, neither a frisson of elegant futurism nor a blasé presentiment of everyday life at midcentury. I was given an NFC phone, and told to tap it against the item I wanted from the vending machine. This is what happened next: the vending machine teeped, and the phone teeped, and six or seven seconds later a notification popped up on its screen. It was an incoming text message, which had been sent by the vending machine at the moment I tapped my phone against it. I had to respond “Y” to this text to complete the transaction. The experience was clumsy and joyless and not in any conceivable way an improvement over pumping coins into the soda machine just the way I did quarters into Defender at the age of twelve.
- NextGen Education and Research Robotics — virtual conference on robotics in education.
- Homemade Arduino Printer (Instructables) — made with an Arduino, two dead CD/DVD drives and a marker pen. Clever hack! (via MindKits on Twitter)
GPUs bring massively parallel computing into reach
The attributes that make GPUs optimized for graphics can also be used for general computing. Over the last 3 years, GPU computing has moved to the mainstream.
Electronic Health Records, LilyPad Appeal, Time Management, and Locking Library
- Two Brothers Await Broad Use of Medical E-Records (New York Times) — The Doerrs’ software company is only one of many hoping to cash in on the national mandate for digital medical records. The companies range from giants like General Electric to specialists like Athenahealth that cater to small physician practices. They, like the Doerrs, are betting that the law will help create a turning point for the economics of digital health records, opening the door to rapid adoption by doctors and a thriving business at last. NZ-based Orion Health is expanding at a great rate in the US, doing electronic health records. The tide is beginning to turn away from paper, thank goodness. (via DrChrisPaton on Twitter)
- On Feminism and Microcontrollers (Benjamin Mako Hill) — We found evidence to support the suggestion that LilyPad is disproportionally appealing to women, as compared to Arduino (we estimated that about 9% of Arduino purchasers were female while 35% of LilyPad purchasers were). We found evidence that suggests that a very large proportion of people making high-visibility projects using LilyPad are female as compared to Arduino (65% for LilyPad, versus 2% for Arduino).
- Pomodoro Technique — time management system. (via auchmill on Twitter)
- Lock-free Data Structure Library in C — free library offering list, queue, ringbuffer, stack, ….
Amazon as Vendor, Distributed Tasks, Evolutionary Photofitting, and Basic Physics
- The Rise of Amazon Web Services — Stephen O’Grady points out that Amazon has become an enterprise sales company but we don’t treat it as such because we think of it as a retail company that’s dabbling in technology. I think of Amazon as an automation company: they automate and optimize everything, and a data center is just a warehouse for MIPS. (via Matt Asay)
- Celery Project — a distributed task queue. (via joshua on Delicious)
- Memory Upgrade (The Economist) — a photofit system that uses evolutionary algorithms to generate the suspects’ faces, and does clever things like animated distortions to call out features the witness might recall. Technology going beyond automated sketch artists.
- The Particle Adventure: The Fundamental of Matter and Force — basic physics in easy-to-understand language with illustrations, all in bite-size pieces (and 1998-era web design). I’m pondering what one of these would be like for computers, and whether “how do these actually work?” has the same romance as “how does the world really work?”.