ENTRIES TAGGED "retro"
Illuminated Mario, Touchstone Facts, Calculating Spamicity, and Abstract Quantified Self
- Gravity in the Margins (Got Medieval) — illuminating illuminated manuscripts with Mario. (via BoingBoing)
- Hours Days, Who’s Counting? (Jon Udell) — What prompted me to check? My friend Mike Caulfield, who’s been teaching and writing about quantitative literacy, says it’s because in this case I did have some touchstone facts parked in my head, including the number 10 million (roughly) for barrels of oil imported daily to the US. The reason I’ve been working through a bunch of WolframAlpha exercises lately is that I know I don’t have those touchstones in other areas, and want to develop them. The idea of “touchstone facts” resonates with me.
- Spotting Fake Reviewer Groups in Consumer Reviews (PDF) — gotta love any paper that says We calculated the “spamicity” (degree of spam) of each group by assigning 1 point for each spam judgment, 0.5 point for each borderline judgment and 0 point for each non-spam judgment a group received and took the average of all 8 labelers. (via Google Research Blog)
- Visualizing Physical Activity Using Abstract Ambient Art (Quantified Self) — kinda like the iTunes visualizer but for your Fitbit Tracker.
Text Similarity, Designing Engagement, Clustering Stories, and Prince of Persia
- Superfastmatch — open source text comparison tool, used to locate plagiarism/churnalism in online news sites. You can pull out the text engine and use it for your own “find where this text is used elsewhere” applications (e.g., what’s being forwarded out in email, how much of this RFP is copy and paste, what’s NOT boilerplate in this contract, etc.). (via Pete Warden)
- Ten Design Principles for Engaging Math Tasks (Dan Meyer) — education gold, engagement gold, and some serious ideas you can use in your own apps.
- Clustering Related Stories (Jenny Finkel) — description of how to cluster related stories, talks about some of the tricks. Interesting without being too scary.
- Prince of Persia (GitHub) — I have waited to see if the novelty wore off, but I still find this cool: 1980s source code on GitHub.
CS for Kids, Pwn in a Box, Mobile Companions, and 8-bit Linux
- Why Our Kids Should Be Taught To Code (Guardian) — if we don’t act now we will be short-changing our children. [...] their world will be also shaped and configured by networked computing and if they don’t have a deeper understanding of this stuff then they will effectively be intellectually crippled. They will grow up as passive consumers of closed devices and services, leading lives that are increasingly circumscribed by technologies created by elites working for huge corporations such as Google, Facebook and the like. We will, in effect, be breeding generations of hamsters for the glittering wheels of cages built by Mark Zuckerberg and his kind. (via Karl von Randow)
- The Pwn Plug — $770 gets you a wall-wart full of network attack tools and wifi for remote access. Plug and Pwn. (via Ars Technica)
- Mobile Phone as Companion Species (Matt Jones) — They see the world differently to us, picking up on things we miss. They adapt to us, our routines. They look to us for attention, guidance and sustenance. We imagine what they are thinking, and vice-versa.
- 8-Bit Linux — Ubuntu 9 ported to an 6.5KHz 8-bit CPU (running a 32-bit emulator because Linux itself requires at least a 32-bit system). Takes 2 hours to boot up the kernel, four more to get to a login prompt. Moore’s Law for the win: I’ve seen more than 1000x improvement in speed from my first computer (1MHz C64) to current (1.7GHz i5). (via Slashdot)
- Write Logs for Machines — argues that services should log in a format suitable for automated analysis, not for humans to read as has been the custom in the past.
- Dspace Badge — what my son and I are building this week, our first Arduino project.
- Prince of Persia C64 Development Blog — fascinating account of a chap reconstructing Jordan Mechner’s classic “Prince of Persia” game from Mechner’s notes. The original source was lost.
- Blending Machines and Humans to Get Very High Accuracy (Greg Linden) — use experts to train the models, provide tools for experts to correct mistakes in the classifiers, and constantly evaluate all aspects of the system. This augmentation of human ability with computers lets us tackle problems that can’t be solved by computers alone.
- Electrical Efficiency of Computation (The Atlantic) — If a MacBook Air were as efficient as a 1991 computer, the battery would last 2.5 seconds. Cites research concluding that computations per kWh have doubled every 1.6 years since the 1940s. (via Hacker News)
- recoll — open source tool to make searchable the text buried in your computer (whether in zip files, mail attachments, whatever). (via One Thing Well)
Periodic Table of the Opcodes, Markov Monopoly, Retro DOS Gaming, and Globe Dating
- x86 Opcode Sheet (PDF) — I love instruction set charts, they’re the periodic table of opcodes. Just as the table of elements makes visually apparent the regular construction and common properties of the elements, so to do these charts convey the regular construction and common behaviour of the opcodes. (via programming.reddit)
- Monopoly as a Markov Chain — see the probability of being on any given square after a given move. (via Joe Johnston)
- BoxerApp — package old DOS games for your Mac.
- How Old Is Your Globe? — determine the age of your globe from the no-longer-existant countries it contains. (via Richard Soderberg)
Waning Interest, Infrastructure Changes, eBook Stats, and Retro Chic Peripherals
- Comparing Link Attention (Bitly) — Twitter, Facebook, and direct (email/IM/etc) have remarkably similar patterns of decay of interest. (via Hilary Mason)
- Three Ages of Google — from batch, to scaling through datacenters, and finally now to techniques for real-time scaling. Of interest to everyone interested in low-latency high-throughput transactions. Datacenters have the diameter of a microsecond, yet we are still using entire stacks designed for WANs. Real-time requires low and bounded latencies and our stacks can’t provide low latency at scale. We need to fix this problem and towards this end Luiz sets out a research agenda, targeting problems that need to be solved. (via Tim O’Reilly)
- eReaders and eBooks (Luke Wroblewski) — many eye-opening facts. In 2010 Amazon sold 115 Kindle books for every 100 paperback books. 65% of eReader owners use them in bed, in fact 37% of device usage is in bed.
- VT220 on a Mac — dead sexy look. Impressive how many adapters you need to be able to hook a dingy old serial cable up to your shiny new computer.
Organisational Warfare, RTFM, Timezone Shapefile, Microsoft Adventure
- Organisational Warfare (Simon Wardley) — notes on the commoditisation of software, with interesting analyses of the positions of some large players. On closer inspection, Salesforce seems to be doing more than just commoditisation with an ILC pattern, as can be clearly seen from Radian’s 6 acquisition. They also seem to be operating a tower and moat strategy, i.e. creating a tower of revenue (the service) around which is built a moat devoid of differential value with high barriers to entry. When their competitors finally wake up and realise that the future world of CRM is in this service space, they’ll discover a new player dominating this space who has not only removed many of the opportunities to differentiate (e.g. social CRM, mobile CRM) but built a large ecosystem that creates high rates of new innovation. This should be a fairly fatal combination.
- Learning to Win by Reading Manuals in a Monte-Carlo Framework (MIT) — starting with no prior knowledge of the game or its UI, the system learns how to play and to win by experimenting, and from parsed manual text. They used FreeCiv, and assessed the influence of parsing the manual shallowly and deeply. Trust MIT to turn RTFM into a paper. For human-readable explanation, see the press release.
- A Shapefile of the TZ Timezones of the World — I have nothing but sympathy for the poor gentleman who compiled this. Political boundaries are notoriously arbitrary, and timezones are even worse because they don’t need a war to change. (via Matt Biddulph)
- Microsoft Adventure — 1979 Microsoft game for the TRS-80 has fascinating threads into the past and into what would become Microsoft’s future.
Microchip Archaeology, OSM Map Library, Feedback Loops for Public Expenditure, and Mind-reading Big Data
- Digging into Technology’s Past — stories of the amazing work behind the visual 6502 project and how they reconstructed and simulated the legendary 6502 chip. To analyze and then preserve the 6502, James treated it like the site of an excavation. First, he needed to expose the actual chip by removing its packaging of essentially “billiard-ball plastic.” He eroded the casing by squirting it with very hot, concentrated sulfuric acid. After cleaning the chip with an ultrasonic cleaner—much like what’s used for dentures or contact lenses—he could see its top layer.
- Too Many Public Works Built on Rosy Scenarios (Bloomberg) — a feedback loop with real data being built to improve accuracy estimating infrastructure project costs. He would like to see better incentives — punishment for errors, rewards for accuracy — combined with a requirement that forecasts not only consider the expected characteristics of the specific project but, once that calculation is made, adjust the estimate based on an “outside view,” reflecting the cost overruns of similar projects. That way, the “unexpected” problems that happen over and over again would be taken into consideration.
Such scrutiny would, of course, make some projects look much less appealing — which is exactly what has happened in the U.K., where “reference-class forecasting” is now required. “The government stopped a number of projects dead in their tracks when they saw the forecasts,” Flyvbjerg says. “This had never happened before.”
- Neurovigil Gets Cash Injection To Read Your Mind (FastCompany) — “an anonymous American industrialist and technology visionary” put tens of millions into this company, which has hardware to gather mineable data. iBrain promises to open a huge pipeline of data with its powerful but simple brain-reading tech, which is gaining traction thanks to technological advances. But the other half of the potentailly lucrative equation is the ability to analyze the trove of data coming from iBrain. And that’s where NeuroVigil’s SPEARS algorithm enters the picture. Not only is the company simplifying collection of brain data with a device that can be relatively comfortably worn during all sorts of tasks–sleeping, driving, watching advertising–but the combination of iBrain and SPEARS multiplies the efficiency of data analysis. (via Vaughan Bell)
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)