"research" entries

Four short links: 20 October 2015

Four short links: 20 October 2015

HyperCam, half-arsed software development, perceptions of productivity, John McCarthy's conditional expressions

  1. 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.
  2. Manifesto for Half-Arsed Software DevelopmentResponding to change over following a plan … provided a detailed plan is in place to respond to the change, and it is followed precisely.
  3. Software Developers’ Perceptions of ProductivityIn 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)
  4. The Language of ChoiceIn the ’50s John McCarthy invented conditional expressions. Utility computing, AI, Lisp, and now what I know as C’s ?: syntax. His legend lives on.
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Four short links: 13 October 2015

Four short links: 13 October 2015

Apple Chips, Death of the Data Center, IBM R&D, and Stateful Services

  1. Apple’s Incredible Platform Advantage (Steve Cheney) — the best people in chip design no longer want to work at Intel or Qualcomm. They want to work at Apple. I have plenty of friends in the Valley who affirm this. Sure Apple products are cooler. But Apple has also surpassed Intel in performance. This is insane. A device company – which makes CPUs for internal use – surpassing Intel, the world’s largest chip maker that practically invented the CPU and has thousands of customers.
  2. Data Center’s Days are Numbered — Adrian Cockroft says, the investments going into bolstering security on AWS and other clouds are set to pay off to the point where within five years, “it will be impossible to get security certification if you’re not running in the cloud because the tools designed for data centers are sloppily put together and can’t offer the auditing for PCI and other regulators.”
  3. A Peek Inside IBM’s R&D LabIBM still has a physics department, but at this point, almost every physicist is somehow linked to a product plan or customer plan.
  4. Building Scalable Stateful Services (High Scalability) — elucidation of a talk by Caitie McCaffrey (YouTube), tech lead for observability at Twitter.
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Four short links: 9 October 2015

Four short links: 9 October 2015

Page Loads, Data Engines, Small Groups, and Political Misperception

  1. Ludicrously Fast Page Loads: A Guide for Full-Stack Devs (Nate Berkopec) — steps slowly through the steps of page loading using Chrome Developer Tools’ timeline. Very easy to follow.
  2. Specialised and Hybrid Data Management and Processing Engines (Ben Lorica) — wrap-up of data engines uncovered at Strata + Hadoop World NYC 2015.
  3. Power of Small Groups (Matt Webb) — Matt’s joined a small Slack community of like-minded friends. There’s a space where articles written or edited by members automatically show up. I like that. I caught myself thinking: it’d be nice to have Last.FM here, too, and Dopplr. Nothing that requires much effort. Let’s also pull in Instagram. Automatic stuff so I can see what people are doing, and people can see what I’m doing. Just for this group. Back to those original intentions. Ambient awareness, togetherness. cf Clay Shirky’s situated software. Everything useful from 2004 will be rebuilt once the fetish for scale passes.
  4. Asymmetric Misperceptions (PDF) — research into the systematic mismatch between how politicians think their constituents feel on issues, and how the constituents actually feel. Our findings underscore doubts that policymakers perceive opinion accurately: politicians maintain systematic misperceptions about constituents’ views, typically erring by over 10 percentage points, and entire groups of politicians maintain even more severe collective misperceptions. A second, post-election survey finds the electoral process fails to ameliorate these misperceptions.
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Four short links: 8 October 2015

Four short links: 8 October 2015

Mystery Machine, Emotional Effect, Meeting Hacks, and Energy Consumption

  1. 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?
  2. Network Effect — hypnotic and emotional. (via Flowing Data)
  3. Cultivating Great Distributed Teams (Liza Daly) — updates and refinements on her awesome meeting hack/system.
  4. 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.
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Four short links: 2 October 2015

Four short links: 2 October 2015

Automatic Environments, Majority Illusion, Bogus Licensing, and Orchestrating People and Machines

  1. Announcing Otto — new Hashicorp tool that automatically builds development environments without any configuration; it can detect your project type and has built-in knowledge of industry-standard tools to setup a development environment that is ready to go. When you’re ready to deploy, Otto builds and manages an infrastructure, sets up servers, builds, and deploys the application.
  2. The Majority Illusion in Social Networks (arxiv) — if connectors do something, it’s perceived as more popular than if the same number of “unpopular” people in the social graph do it. (via MIT TR)
  3. Scientist Says Researcher in Immigrant-Friendly Countries Can’t Use His Software — software to build phylogenetic trees, but the author’s a loon. It’s another sign that it’s unwise to do science with non-free software.
  4. Orchestraan open source system to orchestrate teams of experts and machines on complex projects.
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Four short links: 30 September 2015

Four short links: 30 September 2015

Homebrew Bioweapons, Drone Strikes, Git Security, and Integrity Boost

  1. Homebrew Bioweapons Not Imminent Threat — you need a safe facility, lab instruments, base strain, design and execution skills, and testing. None of these are easy until the Amazon-Google cloud wars finally cause them to move into “bioweapons as a service.”
  2. Apple Removes App That Tracks Drone Strikes“there are certain concepts that we decide not to move forward with, and this is one,” says Apple. (via BoingBoing)
  3. gitroba command line tool that can help organizations and security professionals find such sensitive information. The tool will iterate over all public organization and member repositories and match filenames against a range of patterns for files, that typically contain sensitive or dangerous information.
  4. How Much is a Leader’s Integrity Worth?Kiel found that high-integrity CEOs had a multi-year return of 9.4%, while low-integrity CEOs had a yield of just 1.9%. What’s more, employee engagement was 26% higher in organizations led by high-integrity CEOs. (via Neelan Choksi)
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Four short links: 25 September 2015

Four short links: 25 September 2015

Predicting Policing, Assaulting Advertising, Compliance Ratings, and $9 Computer

  1. Police Program Aims to Pinpoint Those Most Likely to Commit Crimes (NYT) — John S. Hollywood, a senior operations researcher at the RAND Corporation, said that in the limited number of studies undertaken to measure the efficacy of predictive policing, the improvement in forecasting crimes had been only 5% or 10% better than regular policing methods.
  2. Apple’s Assault on Advertising and Google (Calacanis) — Google wants to be proud of their legacy, and tricking people into clicking ads and selling our profiles to advertisers is an awesome business – but a horrible legacy for Larry and Sergey. Read beside the Bloomberg piece on click fraud and the future isn’t too rosy for advertising. If the ad bubble bursts, how much of the Web will it take with it?
  3. China Is Building The Mother Of All Reputation Systems To Monitor Citizen BehaviorThe document talks about the “construction of credibility” — the ability to give and take away credits — across more than 30 areas of life, from energy saving to advertising.
  4. $9 Computer Hardware (Makezine) — open hardware project, with open source software. The board’s spec is a 1GHz R8 ARM processor with 512MB of RAM, 4GB of NAND storage, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in.
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Four short links: 23 September, 2015

Four short links: 23 September, 2015

Sentence Generator, Deep Neural Networks Explainer, Sports Analytics, and System Hell

  1. Skip Thought Vectors — research (with code) that produces surrounding sentences, given a sentence.
  2. A Beginner’s Guide to Deep Neural Networks (Google) — Googlers’ 20% project to explain things to people tackles machine learning.
  3. 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.
  4. On Go, Portability, and System Interfaces — No point mentioning Perl’s Configure.sh, I thought. The poor bastard will invent it soon enough.
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Four short links: 22 September 2015

Four short links: 22 September 2015

Ant Algorithms, Git Commit, NASA's Deep Learning, and Built-In Empathy

  1. 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.
  2. How to Write a Git Commit Message (Chris Beams) — A diff will tell you what changed, but only the commit message can properly tell you why.
  3. Deep Belief Networks at the Heart of NASA Image ClassificationThe 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%.
  4. The Consequences of An Insightful Algorithm (Carina C. Zona) — We design software for humans. Balancing human needs and business specs can be tough. It’s crucial that we learn how to build in systematic empathy. (via Rowan Crawford)
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Four short links: 17 September 2015

Four short links: 17 September 2015

Google's Code, China's Pledge, MD5's Cracks, and Toyota's Robotics Hire

  1. Google’s 2 Billion Lines of Code (Wired) — 85TB, 45,000 changes/day in Google’s DVCS “Piper.” They’re looking at Mercurial.
  2. China Extracting Pledge of Compliance from US Firms (NY Times) — The letter also asks the American companies to ensure their products are “secure and controllable,” a catchphrase that industry groups said could be used to force companies to build so-called back doors — which allow third-party access to systems — provide encryption keys or even hand over source code.
  3. MD5 To Be Considered Harmful Some Day (Adrian Colyer) — walkthrough of Dan Kaminsky’s paper on the growing number of cracks in MD5.
  4. Toyota’s Robot Car Plans (IEEE Spectrum) — Toyota hired the former head of DARPA’s Robotics Challenge. Pratt explained that a U.S. $50 million R&D collaboration with MIT and Stanford is just the beginning of a large and ambitious program whose goal is developing intelligent vehicles that can make roads safer and robot helpers that can improve people’s lives at home.
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