Australia Floating the Idea of Cloud Passports — Under a cloud passport, a traveller’s identity and biometrics data would be stored in a cloud, so passengers would no longer need to carry their passports and risk having them lost or stolen. That sound you hear is Taylor Swift on Security, quoting “Wildest Dreams” into her vodka and Tang: “I can see the end as it begins.” This article is also notable for The idea of cloud passports is the result of a hipster-style-hackathon.
Jupyter — Python Notebooks that allows you to create and share documents that contain live code, equations, visualizations, and explanatory text. Uses include: data cleaning and transformation, numerical simulation, statistical modeling, machine learning, and much more.
Telcos $24B Business In Your Data — Under the radar, Verizon, Sprint, Telefonica, and other carriers have partnered with firms including SAP, IBM, HP, and AirSage to manage, package, and sell various levels of data to marketers and other clients. It’s all part of a push by the world’s largest phone operators to counteract diminishing subscriber growth through new business ventures that tap into the data that showers from consumers’ mobile Web surfing, text messaging, and phone calls. Even if you do pay for it, you’re still the product.
Introducing Agate — a Python data analysis library designed to be useable by non-data-scientists, so leads to readable and predictable code. Target market: data journalists.
Trying to Replace Multiple Systems with One Can Lead to None (IEEE) — check out that final graph, it’s a doozy. It’s a graph of x against time, from various “this project is great, it will replace x systems with 1″ claims about a single project. Software projects should come with giant warning labels: “most fail, you are about to set your money on fire. Are you sure? [Y/N/Abort/Restart]”
HyperCam (PDF) — paper from Ubicomp 2015 on a low-cost implementation of a multispectral camera and a software approach that automatically analyzes the scene and provides a user with an optimal set of images that try to capture the salient information of the scene. Can see ripeness of fruit, and veins in hands.
Software Developers’ Perceptions of Productivity — In both studies, we found that developers perceive their days as productive when they complete many or big tasks without significant interruptions or context switches. Yet, the observational data we collected shows our participants performed significant task and activity switching while still feeling productive. (via Never Work in Theory)
The Language of Choice — In the ’50s John McCarthy invented conditional expressions. Utility computing, AI, Lisp, and now what I know as C’s ?: syntax. His legend lives on.
Little Rice: Smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream (Amazon) — Clay Shirky’s new 128-page book/report about how Xiaomi exemplifies the balancing act that China has to perfect to navigate between cheap copies and innovation, between the demands of local and global markets, and between freedom and control. I’d buy Clay’s shopping list, the same way I’d gladly listen to Neil Gaiman telling the time. (via BoingBoing)
Feed Siri Instructions From 16 Feet Away (Wired) — summary of a paywalled IEEE research paper Their clever hack uses those headphones’ cord as an antenna, exploiting its wire to convert surreptitious electromagnetic waves into electrical signals that appear to the phone’s operating system to be audio coming from the user’s microphone. […] It generates its electromagnetic waves with a laptop running the open source software GNU Radio, a USRP software-defined radio, an amplifier, and an antenna.
User-Centered Design (Courtney Johnston) — the wall label should always give you cause to look back at the art work again. I love behaviour-based indirect measures of success like this.
The Mystery Machine (A Paper a Day) — rundown of Facebook’s Mystery Machine, which can measure end-to-end performance from the initiation of a page load in a Web browser, all the way through the server-side infrastructure, and back out to the point where the page has finished rendering. Doing this requires a causal model of the relationships between components (happens-before). How do you get that? And especially, how do you get that if you can’t assume a uniform environment for instrumentation?
Smartphone Energy Consumption (Pete Warden) — I love new ways of looking at familiar things. Looking at code and features through the lens of power consumption is another such lens. (I remember Craig from Craigslist talking at OSCON about using power as the denominator in your data center, changing how I saw the Web). The article is full of surprising numbers and fascinating factoids. Active cell radio might use 800 mW. Bluetooth might use 100 mW. Accelerometer is 21 mW. Gyroscope is 130 mW. Microphone is 101 mW. GPS is 176 mW. Using the camera in ‘viewfinder’ mode, focusing and looking at a picture preview, might use 1,000 mW. Actually recording video might take another 200 to 1,000 mW on top of that.
Competitive Coding (Bloomberg) — ignore the lazy author’s patronising tone; the bit that caught my eye was: He first began freaking people out in second grade, at age 8, when he took second place in a major Belarusian coding competition. To put this achievement in perspective, the score was high enough for Korotkevich to be granted automatic enrollment in a top technical university without needing to pass any other entrance exams. That is how you value STEM education: let people test out of it if they don’t need it!
How We Pass The Buck (Anil Dash) — The thing is, technology is not neutral, algorithms are built with values, and the default choices in our software determine huge swaths of our culture. We delegate ethical decisions as consumers and citizens to people who make software, but almost no computer science program teaches ethics, and almost no major technology company has a chief ethicist.
The Hit Charade (MIT TR) — Spotify’s deep-learning system still has to be trained using millions of example songs, and it would be perplexed by a bold new style of music. What’s more, such algorithms cannot arrange songs in a creative way. Nor can they distinguish between a truly original piece and yet another me-too imitation of a popular sound. Johnson acknowledges this limitation, and he says human expertise will remain a key part of Spotify’s algorithms for the foreseeable future.
The Future of War is the Distant Past (John Birmingham) — the Naval Academy is hedging against the future by creating cybersecurity midshipmen, and by requiring every midshipman to learn how to do celestial navigation.
What Happens Next Will Amaze You (Maciej Ceglowski) — the next in Maciej’s amazing series of keynotes, where he’s building a convincing case for fixing the Web.
Data Analytics in Sports — O’Reilly research report (free). When it comes to processing stats, competing companies Opta and ProZone use a combination of recording technology and human analysts who tag “events” within the game (much like Vantage Sports). Opta calculates that it tags between 1,600 and 2,000 events per football game — all delivered live.
Ant Algorithms for Discrete Optimization (Adrian Colyer) — Stigmergy is the generic term for the stimulation of workers by the performance they have achieved – for example, termite nest-building works in a similar way. Stigmergy is a form of indirect communication “mediated by physical modifications of environmental states which are only locally accessible to the communicating agents.
Deep Belief Networks at the Heart of NASA Image Classification — The two new labeled satellite data sets were put to the test with a modified deep-belief-networks-driven approach, ultimately. The results show classification accuracy of 97.95%, which performed better than the unmodified pure deep belief networks, convolutional neural networks, and stacked de-noising auto-encoders by around 11%.