"retro" entries

Four short links: 10 June 2013

Four short links: 10 June 2013

Pseudo Memetics, Top Pinch or Bottom Pinch, Innovation Cartography, and Awesome Compilation Hackery

  1. Anatomy of Two Memes — comparing the spread of Gangnam Style to Harlem Shake. Memes are like currencies: you need to balance accessibility (or ‘money supply’) and inflation. Gangnam Style became globally accessible through top-down mainstream sources (High Popularity), but this gave it high social inflation so it wasn’t valuable to share (Low Shareability). However, scale sustained its long term growth. Harlem Shake was not as easily accessible because it was driven more by small communities (Low Popularity), but for the same reason, being less easily accessible, it remained highly valuable (High Shareability). Lack of scale was what made Harlem Shake growth short-term and eventually killed it prematurely. Caution: contains fauxconomics.
  2. Handedness (Github) — determine left or right handedness from pinch gesture.
  3. Innovation Cartography — video of a talk by Richard Jefferson of Cambia’s lens, on the imperative to innovate held at the Skoll World Forum on Social Enterprise. His story of maritime cartography (starts around 5m50s) is awesome.
  4. Statically Recompiling NES Games into Native Executables with LLVM and Go — or “crack for Nat” as I like to translate that title.
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Four short links: 25 April 2013

Four short links: 25 April 2013

iOS Package Manager, Designed Satire, API Fragility, and Retweeting WWI

  1. Alcatraz — package manager for iOS. (via Hacker News)
  2. Scarfolk Council — clever satire, the concept being a UK town stuck in 1979. Tupperware urns, “put old people down at birth”. The 1979 look is gorgeous. (via BoingBoing)
  3. Stop Designing Fragile Web APIsIt is possible to design your API in a manner that reduces its fragility and increases its resilience to change. The key is to design your API around its intent. In the SOA world, this is also referred to as business-orientation.
  4. @life100yearsago (Twitter) — account that tweets out fragments of New Zealand journals and newspapers and similar historic documents, as part of celebrating the surprising and the commonplace during WWI. My favourite so far: “Wizard” stones aeroplane. (via NDF)
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Four short links: 26 March 2013

Four short links: 26 March 2013

Patenting Preventing Placebos, Simulating Malaria, Pricing Experiments, and Mining Bitcoin

  1. Patent on Medical Trial Design to Reduce Placebo Effectdrug companies say these failures are happening not because their drugs are ineffective, but because placebos have recently become more effective in clinical trials. […] The whole idea that placebo effect is getting in the way of producing meaningful results is repugnant, I think, to anyone with scientific training. What’s even more repugnant, however, is that Fava’s group didn’t stop with a mere paper in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. They went on to apply for, and obtain, U.S. patents on SPCD. (via Ben Goldacre)
  2. OpenMalaria (Google Code) — an open source C++ program for simulating malaria epidemiology and the impacts on that epidemiology of interventions against malaria. It is based on microsimulations of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in humans, originally developed for simulating malaria vaccines. (via Victoria Stodden)
  3. Pricing Experiments You Might Not Know But Can Learn From — compendium of ideas and experiments for pricing.
  4. Retrominer — mining Bitcoins on a NES. I’m delighted by the conceit, and noticing that Bitcoin is now sufficiently part of the zeitgeist as to feature in playful hacks.
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Four short links: 18 March 2013

Four short links: 18 March 2013

Big Lit Data, 6502 Assembly, Small Startup Analytics, and Javascript Heatmaps

  1. A Quantitative Literary History of 2,958 Nineteenth-Century British Novels: The Semantic Cohort Method (PDF) — This project was simultaneously an experiment in developing quantitative and computational methods for tracing changes in literary language. We wanted to see how far quantifiable features such as word usage could be pushed toward the investigation of literary history. Could we leverage quantitative methods in ways that respect the nuance and complexity we value in the humanities? To this end, we present a second set of results, the techniques and methodological lessons gained in the course of designing and running this project. Even litcrit becoming a data game.
  2. Easy6502get started writing 6502 assembly language. Fun way to get started with low-level coding.
  3. How Analytics Really Work at a Small Startup (Pete Warden) — The key for us is that we’re using the information we get primarily for decision-making (should we build out feature X?) rather than optimization (how can we improve feature X?). Nice rundown of tools and systems he uses, with plug for KissMetrics.
  4. webgl-heatmap (GitHub) — a JavaScript library for high performance heatmap display.
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Four short links: 13 March 2013

Four short links: 13 March 2013

HTML DRM, Visualizing Medical Sciences, Lifelong Learning, and Hardware Hackery

  1. What Tim Berners-Lee Doesn’t Know About HTML DRM (Guardian) — Cory Doctorow lays it out straight. HTML DRM is a bad idea, no two ways. The future of the Web is the future of the world, because everything we do today involves the net and everything we’ll do tomorrow will require it. Now it proposes to sell out that trust, on the grounds that Big Content will lock up its “content” in Flash if it doesn’t get a veto over Web-innovation. […] The W3C has a duty to send the DRM-peddlers packing, just as the US courts did in the case of digital TV.
  2. Visualizing the Topical Structure of the Medical Sciences: A Self-Organizing Map Approach (PLOSone) — a high-resolution visualization of the medical knowledge domain using the self-organizing map (SOM) method, based on a corpus of over two million publications.
  3. What Teens Get About The Internet That Parents Don’t (The Atlantic) — the Internet has been a lifeline for self-directed learning and connection to peers. In our research, we found that parents more often than not have a negative view of the role of the Internet in learning, but young people almost always have a positive one. (via Clive Thompson)
  4. Portable C64 — beautiful piece of C64 hardware hacking to embed a screen and battery in it. (via Hackaday)
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Four short links: 21 January 2013

Four short links: 21 January 2013

School District Saves With Open Source, Apple ][ Presentation Tool, Tech Talks, and Realtime Dashboard

  1. School District Builds Own SoftwareBy taking a not-for-profit approach and using freely available open-source tools, Saanich officials expect to develop openStudent for under $5 million, with yearly maintenance pegged at less than $1 million. In contrast, the B.C. government says it spent $97 million over the past 10 years on the B.C. enterprise Student Information System — also known as BCeSIS — a provincewide system already slated for replacement.
  2. Giving a Presentation From an Apple ][A co-worker used an iPad to give a presentation. I thought: why take a machine as powerful as an early Cray to do something as low-overhead as display slides? Why not use something with much less computing power? From this asoft_presenter was born. The code is a series of C programs that read text files and generate a large Applesoft BASIC program that actually presents the slides. (via Jim Stogdill)
  3. AirBnB TechTalks — impressive collection of interesting talks, part of the AirBnB techtalks series.
  4. Gawker’s Realtime Dashboard — this is not just technically and visually cool, but also food for thought about what they’re choosing to measure and report on in real time (new vs returning split, social engagement, etc.). Does that mean they hope to be able to influence those variables in real time? (via Alex Howard)
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Four short links: 18 December 2012

Four short links: 18 December 2012

Tweet Cred, C64 History, Performance Articles, Return of Manufacturing

  1. Credibility Ranking of Tweets During High Impact Events (PDF) — interesting research. Situational awareness information is information that leads to gain in the knowledge or update about details of the event, like the location, people aff ected, causes, etc. We found that on average, 30% content about an event, provides situational awareness information about the event, while 14% was spam. (via BoingBoing)
  2. The Commodore 64 — interesting that Chuck Peddle (who designed the 6502) and Bob Yannes (who designed the SID chip) are still alive. This article safely qualifies as Far More Than You Ever Thought You Wanted To Know About The C64 but it is fascinating. The BASIC housed in its ROM (“BASIC 2.0″) was painfully antiquated. It was actually the same BASIC that Tramiel had bought from Microsoft for the original PET back in 1977. Bill Gates, in a rare display of naivete, sold him the software outright for a flat fee of $10,000, figuring Commodore would have to come back soon for another, better version. He obviously didn’t know Jack Tramiel very well. Ironically, Commodore did have on hand a better BASIC 4.0 they had used in some of the later PET models, but Tramiel nixed using it in the Commodore 64 because it would require a more expensive 16 K rather than 8 K of ROM chips to house.
  3. The Performance Calendar — an article each day about speed. (via Steve Souders)
  4. Mr China Comes to America (The Atlantic) — long piece on the return of manufacturing to America, featuring Foo camper Liam Casey.
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Four short links: 20 November 2012

Four short links: 20 November 2012

Collapsing Transaction Costs, Scientific Research Reputation, Retro Adventure Ambition, and Where Startups Come From

  1. When Transaction Costs CollapseAs OECD researchers reported recently, 99.5 per cent of reciprocal access agreements occur informally without written contracts. Paradoxically, as competition becomes more intense or ”perfect”, it becomes indistinguishable from perfect co-operation – a neat trick demonstrated in economists’ models a century ago. Commentary prompted by an OECD report on Internet Traffic Exchange. (via Laurence Millar)
  2. Faked Research is Endemic in China (New Scientist) — open access promises the unbundling of publishing, quality control, reputation, and recommendation. Reputation systems for science are going to be important: you can’t blacklist an entire country’s researchers. Can you demand reproducibility?
  3. The Hobbit — ambitious very early game, timely to remember as the movie launches. Literally, no two games of The Hobbit are the same. I can see what Milgrom and the others were striving toward: a truly living, dynamic story where anything can happen and where you have to deal with circumstances as they come, on the fly. It’s a staggeringly ambitious, visionary thing to be attempting.
  4. How to Get Startup Ideas (Paul Graham) — The essay is full of highly-quotable apothegms like Live in the future, then build what’s missing and The verb you want to be using with respect to startup ideas is not “think up” but “notice.”
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Four short links: 10 July 2012

Four short links: 10 July 2012

Assembly Crack, Political Pieces, Better Select Boxes, and Fairly Using Orphans

  1. Learn to Write 6502 Assembly Language — if retro-gaming is the gateway drug you’re using to attract kids to programming, this is the crack you wheel out after three months of getting high. Ok, this metaphor is broken on many levels. (via Hacker News)
  2. Small Political Pieces, Loosely Joined — MySociety: We believe that the wrong answer to this challenge is to just say “Well then, everyone should build their own sites from scratch.” […] Our plan is to collaborate with international friends to build a series of components that deliver quite narrow little pieces of the functionality that make up bigger websites. Common software components, perhaps interchangeable data … good things coming.
  3. Select 2a jQuery based replacement for select boxes. It supports searching, remote data sets, and infinite scrolling of results. Useful. (via Javascript Weekly)
  4. How Fair Use Can Solve Orphan Works — preprint of legal paper claiming non-profit libraries can begin to work on orphaned works under the aegis of free use. Finally, regardless of a work’s orphan status, many uses by libraries and archives will fit squarely under the umbrella of uses favored by the first fair use factor (the “purpose of the use”), and their digitization of entire works for preservation and access should often be justified under the third fair use factor (the amount used). As such, fair use represents an important, and for too long unsung, part of the solution to the orphan works problem.
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Four short links: 28 June 2012

Four short links: 28 June 2012

Bogan Ipsum, Disassembled and Deconstructed, P2P Commerce, and Android Sensors

  1. Bogan Ipsum — the Australian version of Loren Ipsum. (via Seb Chan)
  2. Microsoft BASIC for 6502 — reverse-engineering magic, this person has RE’d the assembly language for various versions of the BASIC interpreter that shipped on microcomputers in the 80s. This page talks about the changes in each version, the easter eggs, and the hacks. This, kids, is how real programmers do it :)
  3. The Sudden Rise of Peer-to-Peer Commerce (Casey Research) — Today, business are sprouting up around the world based on the idea of connecting individuals directly to each other to trade products and services. While the idea is very much in its infancy still, like the music business at the dawn of Napster, we’re beginning to grasp the potential. Something we are tracking at O’Reilly as well.
  4. The Sensor/itive Side of Android (Luke Wroblewski) — lots of details about sensors in Android, from a Google I/O talk. Sampling rates change between devices. The data has variance and static because it comes from cost-effective components for mobile phones not robust and industry-grade sensors.
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