ENTRIES TAGGED "retro"
C64 Presales, Coding Lessons Learned, Feedback Loops, and Continuous Integration
- Commodore 64 PC — gorgeous retro look with fairly zippy modern internals. (via Rob Passarella)
- Designing Github for Mac — a retrospective from the author of the excellent Mac client for github. He talks about what he learned and its origins, design, and development. Remember web development in 2004? When you had to create pixel-perfect comps because every element on screen was an image? That’s what developing for Cocoa is. Drawing in code is slow and painful. Images are easier to work with and result in more performant code. Remember these days? This meant my Photoshop files had to be a lot more fleshed out than I’ve been accustomed to in recent years. I usually get about 80% complete in Photoshop (using tons of screenshotting & layer flattening), then jump into code and tweak to completion. But with Cocoa, I ended up fleshing out that last 20% in Photoshop.
- Feedback Loops (Wired) — covers startups and products that use feedback loops to help us change our behaviour. The best sort of delivery device “isn’t cognitively loading at all,” he says. “It uses colors, patterns, angles, speed—visual cues that don’t distract us but remind us.” This creates what Rose calls “enchantment.” Enchanted objects, he says, don’t register as gadgets or even as technology at all, but rather as friendly tools that beguile us into action. In short, they’re magical. (via Joshua Porter)
- continuous.io — hosted continuous integration. (via Jacob Kaplan-Moss)
Buying a Micro, Education Entrepreneurship, Faceted Search, Vector-Graphics Scripting
- Electric Dreams – The 1980s ‘The Micro Home Computer Of 1982′ (YouTube) — from a reality show where a gadget-using family are forced to relive 30 years of technology invention, one year each day. This clip is where they’re forced to choose a microcomputer from the rush of early hobbyist machines in the 80s: Spectrum, Dragon-32, etc. (via Skud)
- K-12 Entrepreneurship: Slow Entry, Distant Exit (PDF) — paper (from the set I pointed to yesterday) laying out in start terms the difficulty of educational entrepreneurship. Keeping the lights on and a teacher in every classroom consumes most of the annual money spent on education so that little is left over to generate or try new tools, techniques or approaches. Out of every dollar spent on education in 2005, only 3.5 cents was spent on materials, tools and services. Subtract the big mandatory purchases of textbooks and annual testing, and one is left with almost no free funds to deploy creatively. With class size reduction and teacher incentive pay ramping up around the country, the pressure on these budget lines continues to increase, reducing the dollars available for investment in breakthrough tools and services.
- Here Be Dragons (Bryan O’Sullivan) — the thorny problem of printing floating point numbers. Prior to Steele and White’s “How to print floating-point numbers accurately”, implementations of printf and similar rendering functions did their best to render floating point numbers, but there was wide variation in how well they behaved. A number such as 1.3 might be rendered as 1.29999999, for instance, or if a number was put through a feedback loop of being written out and its written representation read back, each successive result could drift further and further away from the original.
ASCII Diagrams, Bayesian Textbook, Telehacks Interview, and Table Resizing in CSS
- ASCII Flow — create ASCII diagrams. Awesome. (via Hacker News)
- Principles of Uncertainty — probability and statistics textbook, for maths students to build up to understanding Bayesian reasoning.
- Playable Archaeology: An Interview with the Telehacks Anonymous Creator (Andy Baio) — The inspiration was my son. I had shown him the old movies Hackers, Wargames, and Colossus: The Forbin Project and he really liked them. After seeing Hackers and Wargames, he really wanted to start hacking stuff on his own. I’d taught him some programming, but I didn’t want him doing any actual hacking, so I decided to make a simulation so he could telnet to hosts, hack them, and get the feel of it, but safely. (Andy was the interviewer, not the creator)
- Responsive Data Tables — CSS ways to reformat data tables if the screen width is inadequate for the default table layout. (via Keith Bolland)
Disease-B-Gone, Quake Game, Text Adventures, and Unicoddling
- Rinderpest Eradicated — only the second disease that mankind has managed to eradicate. This one was a measles-like virus that killed cattle and caused famines. A reminder of how astonishingly difficult it is to eradicate disease, but what a massive victory it is when it happens. (via Courtney Johnston)
- Magnetic South — the 6.3 earthquake that trashed Christchurch, New Zealand, has presented the city with a tabula rasa (or, rather, tabula rubble) for the rebuild: what should they build, how, and where? The good citizens are working on this question in many ways, one of which is this online game based on Institute for the Future’s Foresight Engine.
- TOPS-20 in a Box — write FORTRAN code on an emulated PHP-10 running TOPS-20 and, most delightfully, play the original Adventure as written by Crowther and finished by Woods. It’s like emulating the Big Bang for text adventures. When you’re done, admire the scholarship in this analysis of the original to see how much Woods added. (Text adventures are the game version of command-line interfaces, and we still have much to learn from them)
- Why Does Modern Perl Avoid UTF-8 By Default? (StackOverflow) — check out the very long and detailed answer by my coauthor, Tom Christiansen, on exactly how many thorns and traps lie in wait for the unwary “it should just WORK”er. Skip down to the “Assume Brokenness” section for the full horror. Tom’s been working with linguists and revising the Unicode chapters of the Camel, so asking “why can’t it just work” is like asking a war veteran “why don’t you just shoot all the bad guys?”.
Fibre Horse, Forced Gold Farming, Google Correlate, Internet GDP
- Draft Horses Bring Fibre to Remote Locations — I love the conjunction of old and new, as draft horses prove the best way to lay fibre in remote Vermont. (via David Isenberg)
- Chinese Political Prisoners Gold-Farming (Guardian) — “Prison bosses made more money forcing inmates to play games than they do forcing people to do manual labour,” Liu told the Guardian. “There were 300 prisoners forced to play games. We worked 12-hour shifts in the camp. I heard them say they could earn 5,000-6,000rmb [£470-570] a day. We didn’t see any of the money. The computers were never turned off.”
- Correlate — Google Correlate finds search patterns which correspond with real-world trends. You upload your time series or geographic data, they find search terms that correlate. Very cool!
- McKinsey Internet Matters Report (PDF, free registration required) — Internet responsible for 3.4% of GDP in the countries they studied, 21% of GDP growth in last 5 years in mature countries, 2.6 jobs created for every one lost, and 75% of the Internet’s impact arises from traditional industries. Lots more like this in here. The United States captures more than 30 percent of global internet revenues and more than 40 percent of net income.
PDP-11 Emulated, Crowdsourcing Culture, Deep Knowing, and Scientific Method
- 2010: The Year of Crowdsourcing Transcription — hasn’t finished yet, as NY Public Library shows. Cultural institutions are huge data sets that need human sensors to process, so we’ll be seeing a lot more of this in years to come as we light up thousands of years of written culture. (via Liza Daley)
- Programming the Commodore 64 — the loss of the total control that we had over our computers back when they were small enough that everything you needed to know would fit inside your head. It’s left me with a taste for grokking systems deeply and intimately, and that tendency is probably not a good fit for most modern programming, where you really don’t have time to go in an learn, say, Hibernate or Rails in detail: you just have to have the knack of skimming through a tutorial or two and picking up enough to get the current job done, more or less. I don’t mean to denigrate that: it’s an important and valuable skill. But it’s not one that moves my soul as Deep Knowing does. This is the kind of deep knowledge of TCP/IP and OS that devops is all about.
- Kids do Science — scientists lets kids invent an experiment, write it up, and it’s published in Biology Letters. Teaching the method of science, not the facts currently in vogue, will give us a generation capable of making data-based decisions.
Twitter Mapped, Bibliographic Data Released, Babies Engadgeted, and Nat's Christmas Present Sorted
- A Day in the Life of Twitter (Chris McDowall) — all geo-tagged tweets from 24h of the Twitter firehose, displayed. Interesting things can be seen, such as Jakarta glowing as brightly as San Francisco. (via Chris’s sciblogs post)
- British Library Release 3M Open Bibliographic Records) (OKFN) — This dataset consists of the entire British National Bibliography, describing new books published in the UK since 1950; this represents about 20% of the total BL catalogue, and we are working to add further releases.
- Gadgets for Babies (NY Times) — cry decoders, algorithmically enhanced rocking chairs, and (my favourite) “voice-activated crib light with womb sounds”. I can’t wait until babies can make womb sound playlists and share them on Twitter.
- GP2X Caanoo MAME/Console Emulator (ThinkGeek) — perfect Christmas present for, well, me. Emulates classic arcade machines and microcomputers, including my nostalgia fetish object, the Commodore 64. (via BoingBoing’s Gift Guide)
Digital Natives, Supersexy C64 Debugger, a Google Tripwire, and a Patient Botnet
- Digital Natives (Ze Frank) — digital natives have grown up in a landscape where access to information and influence has been flattened. they have watched media distribution bottlenecks in the form of networks and studios lose influence to youtube and independent production houses. They have watched companies bow down to viral video critiques, and watched political systems get hacked by social networks. this is a generation that doesn’t understand restrictions on access to media if those restrictions are inefficient or obviously detrimental to the system as a whole. this is a generation that has been at war with DRM and copyright right from the start. it is a generation awash with free tutorials and download-able source code. When is a conversation with a precocious 17 year old a glimpse into an inter-generational gulf with implications for the role and status of formal education, and when is it just an encounter with a brat? Ze’s piece is worth reading, whichever way it comes out.
- ICU64 — an open source Commodore 64 emulator (Frodo) hacked to visually and textually display memory. Watch the video embedded below, it’s hypnotic and seductive. It immediately made me want one for my programs (without having to port my code back to 6502 assembler). (via waxy whose return from pneumonia is greatly welcomed)
- Me and Belle du Jour — interesting story from a UK blog master who guessed her identity but kept it secret, creating a googlewhacked page as a tripwire to let him know when someone else guessed. He tipped her off that her cover was blown. (via waxy again)
- The Hail Mary Cloud — the world’s slowest yet effective brute force attack. If you publish your user name and password, somebody who is not you will use it, sooner or later. A botnet is brute-force trying every known username and password combination against every known ssh server. Each attempt in theory has monumental odds against succeeding, but occasionally the guess will be right and they have scored a login. As far as we know, this is at least the third round of password guessing from the Hail Mary Cloud (see the archives for earlier postings about slow bruteforcers), but there could have been earlier rounds that escaped our attention.
Open Source, Gov 2.0, Gaming, Education
- Our Open Source School — blog of Albany Senior High School in New Zealand, which only runs open source software.
- Behind The Scenes at What Do They Know — interesting post showing details behind the What Do They Know web site. In the last year there have been only seven significant cases where requests have been hidden from public view on the site due to concerns relating to potential libel and defamation. Three of those cases have involved groups of twenty or so requests made by the same one or two users. While actual number of requests we have had to hide is around 70 (0.4% of the total) even this small fraction overstates the situation due to the repetition of the same potentially libelous accusations comments in different requests. In all cases we have kept as much information up on the site as possible. Our policy with respect to all requests to remove information from the site is that we only take down information in exceptional circumstances; generally only when the law requires us to do so.
- The Complete History of Lemmings — a must-read for videogamers from the early 90s. Theres been much debate over the choice of colours as well, but the colours were selected, not because they were the easiest to choose, but because of the PC EGA palette. With the limited choice, it was decided the green hair was nicer than blue, and with that, the final Lemming was born. I was actually the next person to code up a demo on the Commodore 64, but I only got so far as having a single Lemming walking over the landscape before Dave put me onto another project.
- Google Replaces TeleAtlas — Tele Atlas confirms that Google has decided to stop using Tele Atlas map data for the U.S. Google will now use its own map data. Our relationship with Google for map coverage continues outside of the U.S. in dozens of geographies.