"retro" entries

Four short links: 29 March 2016

Four short links: 29 March 2016

SNES Code Injection, World Without Work, Spectrum Collaboration, and Mass Surveillance

  1. SNES Code Injection (YouTube) — this human exploited various glitches in Super Mario World to inject the code for Flappy Bird. Wow.
  2. Will Life be Worth Living in a World without Work? — new paper published in the Science and Engineering Ethics journal. Two distinct ethical/social issues would seem to arise. The first is one of distributive justice: how will the (presumed) efficiency gains from automated labour be distributed through society? The second is one of personal fulfilment and meaning: if people no longer have to work, what will they do with their lives? In this article, I set aside the first issue and focus on the second. In doing so, I make three arguments. First, I argue that there are good reasons to embrace non-work and that these reasons become more compelling in an era of technological unemployment. Second, I argue that the technological advances that make widespread technological unemployment possible could still threaten or undermine human flourishing and meaning, especially if (as is to be expected) they do not remain confined to the economic sphere. And third, I argue that this threat could be contained if we adopt an integrative approach to our relationship with technology.
  3. Spectrum Collaboration Challenge — DARPA’s next big challenge is based on the idea that wireless devices would work better if they cooperated with one another rather than fought for bandwidth. Since not all devices are active at all times, the agency says, it should be possible through the use of artificial intelligence machine-learning algorithms to allow them to figure out how to share the spectrum with a minimum of conflict.
  4. Mass Surveillance Silences Minority Opinions (PDF) — This study explores how perceptions and justification of surveillance practices may create a chilling effect on democratic discourse by stifling the expression of minority political views. Using a spiral of silence theoretical framework, knowing one is subject to surveillance and accepting such surveillance as necessary act as moderating agents in the relationship between one’s perceived climate of opinion and willingness to voice opinions online. Theoretical and normative implications are discussed. (via Washington Post)
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Four short links: 23 February 2016

Four short links: 23 February 2016

AI or IA, Retro Chatbots, Science by Software, and Spec as Test Oracle

  1. Doing Something For Me vs Allowing Me To Do Even More (Matt Webb) — nails the split in startups. Come on, valley kids … do you want diapers or do you want superpowers?
  2. Paul Ford on RacterBut don’t get too ahead of things. Using Racter is not as different from using Siri as you might expect. It’s just that Siri has petabytes of stuff in her brain, whereas Racter has a floppy’s worth. Computers have changed a ton in the last 30 years, humans barely at all. Don’t mistake their progress for ours. We’ve learned how to talk to computers, and they’ve learned how to pretend to understand us. Useful when driving. People love chatting with their Amazon Echo. But the conversation still doesn’t really mean anything.
  3. Accelerating Science: A Computing Research Agenda (PDF) — Siri thinks I want to tell telemarketers to “duck off,” while researchers look to automated hypothesis generation, experiment design, results analysis, and knowledge integration.
  4. Not Quite So Broken TLS (Adrian Colyer) — instead of ad-hoc codery, A precise and testable specification (in this case for TLS) that unambiguously determines the set of behaviours it allows (and hence also what it does not). The specification should also be executable as a test oracle, to determine whether or not a given implementation is compliant. The paper outlines this for TLS, but I see formal methods growing in importance in coming years. We can’t build an airport with cardboard on a swamp. In this metaphor, cardboard represents our ad hoc dev practices and the swamp is our platform of crap code. The airport is … look, never mind, I’ll work on the metaphor. Read the paper.
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Four short links: 3 February 2016

Four short links: 3 February 2016

Security Forecast, Machine Learning for Defence, Retro PC Fonts, and Cognitive Psych Research

  1. Software Security Ideas Ahead of Their Time — astonishing email exchange from 1995 presaged a hell of a lot of security work.
  2. Doxxing Sherlock — Cory Doctorow’s ruminations on surveillance, Sherlock, and what he found in the Snowden papers. What he found included an outline of intelligence use of machine learning.
  3. Old-School PC Fonts — definitive collection of ripped-from-the-BIOS fonts from the various types of PCs. Your eyes will ache with nostalgia. (Or, if you’re a young gun, wondering how anybody wrote code with fonts like that) (my terminal font is VT220 because it makes me happy and productive)
  4. Cognitive Load: Brain GemsWe distill the latest behavioural economics & consumer psychology research down into helpful little brain gems.
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Four short links: 4 September 2015

Four short links: 4 September 2015

Next President, Robotic Drivers, Vintage Graphics, and Javascript Scheduling

  1. Lessig for President — it’s time.
  2. Is a Cambrian Explosion Coming for Robotics? (PDF) — interesting list of drivers, including wireless tech, battery efficiency, and worldwide data storage.
  3. How Oldschool Graphics Worked (YouTube) — video series on how ’80s computer graphics effects were built. (via BoingBoing)
  4. Tasks, Microtasks, Queues, and Schedules (Jake Archibald) — today’s dose of javascript scheduling headache.
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Four short links: 10 August 2015

Unionize BigCos, Design Docos, IoT Protocol, and Hackability

  1. Employees at Google, Yahoo, and Amazon Lose Nothing if They Unionize (Michael O. Church) — When a company’s management plays stack-ranking games against its employees, an adversarial climate between management and labor already exists. This is a deeply interesting article, with every paragraph quotable and relevant to The Next Economy. Read it.
  2. Design Documentaries — a really nice index of design documentaries, many with YouTube links.
  3. MQTT — IoT connectivity protocol designed as an extremely lightweight publish/subscribe messaging transport. It is useful for connections with remote locations where a small code footprint is required and/or network bandwidth is at a premium.
  4. Camp for Apple II Fanatics“I invested a lot of time and knowledge into the Apple II, to the point where I really understood all of what the system is doing. All 64K of memory and what’s happening in RAM and ROM, the firmware the programs are using when they run on the Apple II,” he said. “With today’s machines, you get farther away from the metal the thing’s running on. Things change so fast, your phone is a million times more powerful than the Apple II was, but you can’t do things on the metal.” The micros were invented by the people who built and ran the minis and mainframes of old, and gave people the same insight. Tablets and mobiles were invented by the people who built and ran micros, and took away that same insight.
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Four short links: 2 July 2015

Four short links: 2 July 2015

Mathematical Thinking, Turing on Imitation Game, Retro Gaming in Javascript, and Effective Retros

  1. How Not to be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking (Amazon) — Ellenberg chases mathematical threads through a vast range of time and space, from the everyday to the cosmic, encountering, among other things, baseball, Reaganomics, daring lottery schemes, Voltaire, the replicability crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of non-Euclidean geometry, the coming obesity apocalypse, Antonin Scalia’s views on crime and punishment, the psychology of slime molds, what Facebook can and can’t figure out about you, and the existence of God. (via Pam Fox)
  2. What Turing Himself Said About the Imitation Game (IEEE) — fascinating history. The second myth is that Turing predicted a machine would pass his test around the beginning of this century. What he actually said on the radio in 1952 was that it would be “at least 100 years” before a machine would stand any chance with (as Newman put it) “no questions barred.”
  3. Impossible Mission in Javascript — an homage to the original, and beautiful to see. I appear to have lost all my skills in playing it in the intervening 32 years.
  4. Running Effective RetrospectivesEach change to the team’s workflow is treated as a scientific experiment, whereby a hypothesis is formed, data collected, and expectations compared with actual results.
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Four short links: 12 February 2015

Four short links: 12 February 2015

Finance Instrument, Retro Predictions, Trust Engineering, and Haptics

  1. Update on indie.vcWe’ve worked with the team at Cooley to create an investment instrument that has elements of both debt and equity. Debt in that we will not be purchasing equity initially, but, unlike debt, there is no maturity date, no collateralization of assets and no recourse if it’s never paid back. The equity element will only become a factor if the participating company chooses to raise a round of financing or sell out to an acquiring company. We don’t have a clever acronym or name for this instrument yet, but I’m sure we’ll come up with something great.
  2. How Nathan Barley Came True (Guardian) — if you haven’t already seen Nathan Barley, you should. It’s by the guy who did Black Mirror, and it’s both awful and authentic and predictive and retro and … painfully accurate about the horrors of our Internet/New Media industry. (via BoingBoing)
  3. Trust Engineers (Radio Lab) — Facebook has a created a laboratory of human behavior the likes of which we’ve never seen. We peek into the work of Arturo Bejar and a team of researchers who are tweaking our online experience, bit by bit, to try to make the world a better place. Radio show of goodness. (via Flowing Data)
  4. DARPA’S Haptix ProjectThe goal of the HAPTIX program is to provide amputees with prosthetic limb systems that feel and function like natural limbs, and to develop next-generation sensorimotor interfaces to drive and receive rich sensory content from these limbs. Today it’s prosthetic limbs for amputees, but within five years it’ll be augmented ad-driven realities for virtual currency ambient social recommendations.
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Four short links: 10 February 2015

Four short links: 10 February 2015

Speech Recognition, Predictive Analytic Queries, Video Chat, and Javascript UI Library

  1. The Uncanny Valley of Speech Recognition (Zach Holman) — I’m reminded of driving up US-280 in 2003 or so with @raelity, a Kiwi and a South African trying every permutation of American accent from Kentucky to Yosemite Sam in order to get TellMe to stop giving us the weather for zipcode 10000. It didn’t recognise the swearing either. (Caution: features similarly strong language.)
  2. TuPAQ: An Efficient Planner for Large-scale Predictive Analytic Queries (PDF) — an integrated PAQ [Predictive Analytic Queries] planning architecture that combines advanced model search techniques, bandit resource allocation via runtime algorithm introspection, and physical optimization via batching. The resulting system, TUPAQ, solves the PAQ planning problem with comparable accuracy to exhaustive strategies but an order of magnitude faster, and can scale to models trained on terabytes of data across hundreds of machines.
  3. p2pvc — point-to-point video chat. In an 80×25 terminal window.
  4. Sortable — nifty UI library.
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Four short links: 2 December 2014

Four short links: 2 December 2014

e-Paper Watch, Probabilistic Go, Z-Machine in Hardware, and Glorious Underlines

  1. FES Watch — e-paper watch, including strap. Beautiful, crowdfunded, made by a Sony subsidiary that’s looking at e-ink for wearables and more. (via The Verge)
  2. Probabilistic Data Structures for Go — introduction to the go-probably library for when you can’t store every single value, so will trade off memory usage against accuracy.
  3. Z3 — implementation of the Infocom Z-Machine in hardware. Check out the easter eggs. I look upon my works and despair.
  4. Towards a More Perfect Link Underline — glorious typography on the web. A phrase you don’t often hear together without “would be a nice thing” at the end of the sentence.
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Four short links: 3 November 2014

Four short links: 3 November 2014

LittleBits Cloud, Big Data Futures, Predictable Robots, and New OS

  1. LittleBits Adds Functionality (MakeZine) — That next big idea might come from one of the latest bits in the littleBits catalog, the cloudBit. The piece enables wi-fi control of your circuit in various configurations — from the Internet to the bit, from the bit to the internet, or from bit to bit.
  2. Big Data’s Big Ideas (Ben Lorica) — this is a lot of what’s on the O’Reilly radar at the moment. Excellent short summary, with links.
  3. Rodney Brooks and Robotics (Boston Magazine) — [The robot] Baxter’s LCD eyes will look at the spot where it’s about to reach, making its movements, from a human perspective, more predictable. “If you want a machine to be able to interact with people,” Brooks says, “it better not do things that are surprising to people.”
  4. FUZIX — new open source OS from Alan Cox. Runs on Z80s, mostly runs on 6502s, and in theory if it’s got 8 bits and banked RAM you can probably run Fuzix OS on it. (via Alan Cox)
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