Community Memory (Wired) — In the early 1970s, Efrem Lipkin, Mark Szpakowski and Lee Felsenstein set up a series of these terminals around San Francisco and Berkeley, providing access to an electronic bulletin board housed by a XDS-940 mainframe computer. This started out as a social experiment to see if people would be willing to share via computer — a kind of “information flea market,” a “communication system which allows people to make contact with each other on the basis of mutually expressed interest,” according to a brochure from the time. What evolved was a proto-Facebook-Twitter-Yelp-Craigslist-esque database filled with searchable roommate-wanted and for-sale items ads, restaurant recommendations, and, well, status updates, complete with graphics and social commentary. But did it have retargeted ads, promoted tweets, and opt-in messages from partners? I THOUGHT NOT. (via BoingBoing)
Latency Numbers Every Programmer Should Know (EECS Berkeley) — exactly that. I was always impressed by Artur Bergman’s familiarity with the speed of packets across switches, RAM cache misses, and HDD mean seek times. Now you can be that impressive person.
Feds Requiring Black Boxes in All Vehicles (Wired) — [Q]uestions remain about the black boxes and data. Among them, how long should a black box retain event data, who owns the data, can a motorist turn off the black box and can the authorities get the data without a warrant. This is starting as regulatory compliance, but should be seized as an opportunity to have a quantified self.
Average Age of StackExchange Users by Tag (Brian Bondy) — no tag is associated with people who have a mean age over 30. Did I miss the plague that wiped out all the programmers over the age of 30? Or does age bring with it supreme knowledge so that old people like me never have to use StackExchange? Yes, that must be it. *cough*
Project Hijack — Hijacking power and bandwidth from the mobile phone’s audio interface.
Creating a cubic-inch peripheral sensor ecosystem for the mobile phone.
Peak Plastic — Deb Chachra points out that if we’re running out of oil, that also means that we’re running out of plastic. Compared to fuel and agriculture, plastic is small potatoes. Even though plastics are made on a massive industrial scale, they still account for less than 10% of the world’s oil consumption. So recycling plastic saves plastic and reduces its impact on the environment, but it certainly isn’t going to save us from the end of oil. Peak oil means peak plastic. And that means that much of the physical world around us will have to change. I hadn’t pondered plastics in medicine before. (via BoingBoing)
web.go (GitHub) — web framework for the Go programming language.
Microsoft’s New Open Sourced Stacks (Miguel de Icaza) — not just open sourced (some of the code had been under MS Permissive License before, now it’s Apache) but developed in public with git: ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web API, ASP.NET Web Pages v2. The Azure SDK is also on github.
In An Internet Age, Crime is Essential to Freedom (Donald Clark) — when a criminal asks: “How do I secure payment and store my ill-gotten gains”, somewhere else, a refugee asks: “How can I send funds back to a relative such that they can’t be traced to me”.
NSA: China Behind RSA Attacks (Information Week) — I can argue both sides about whether government cloud services are a boon or a curse for remote information thieves. Looking forward to seeing how it plays out.
Raspberry Pi Launches — $35 USB+CPU+video+audio ships. Interesting that both of these have come to fruition at the same time. Something is in the air. How will the world change when every memory stick is a computer, not just every phone?
Smarter Cameras Plumb Composition — A new type of smarter camera can take a picture but also assess the chemical composition of the objects being imaged. This enables automated inspection systems to discern details that would be missed by conventional cameras. Interesting how cameras are getting smarter: Kinect as other significant case in point. (via Slashdot)
Not So Open — 3D printing lab at the University of Washington had to stop helping outsiders because of a crazy new IP policy from the university administration. These folks were doing amazing work, developing and sharing recipes for new materials to print with (iced tea, rice flour, and more) (via BoingBoing)
Samsung Develops Emotion-Sensing Smartphone (ExtremeTech) — By analyzing how fast you type, how much the phone shakes, how often you backspace mistakes, and how many special symbols are used, the special Galaxy S II can work out whether you’re angry, surprised, happy, sad, fearful, or disgusted, with an accuracy of 67.5% From a research paper from a research group on an unannounced product. Nice idea and clever use of incidental data, though 2/3 accuracy isn’t something to write home about. Reminds me of Sandy Pentland‘s Reality Mining. (via James Governor)
The $40 Standup Desk — we’ve solved the usability of software, but hardware remains stubbornly dangerous to use. There’s a reason nobody refers to “laptops” any more (if you use them on your lap, you might as well call them “wristkillers”).
funf — an extensible sensing and data processing framework for mobile devices being developed at the MIT Media Lab […] an open source, reusable set of functionalities, enabling the collection, uploading, and configuration of a wide range of data types. LGPL, Android.
eBook Publishing Isn’t That Easy — list of the things you have to worry about when you self-publish. This line is gold: Locating a distributor. Amazon pays me 17 bucks for a 50-dollar book. Can you say “assholes?” LuLu pays me 43 bucks, but only if you buy on their site. Do the math. Platform vendors own authors and small publishers. (via Josh Clark)
impress.js (github) — MIT-licensed Prezi-like presentation tool, built using CSS3 3d transforms. I’ve never been happy with the Prezi because I fear data lock-in. This might be a way forward. (via Hacker News)
Facebook Offers Debit Cards to White Hat Hackers (CNet) — paying vulnerability bounties without handing out cash. I figure it’s the start of a loyalty program. Will Facebook learn what the hackers spent the money on? Interesting possibilities opened up here.
Green Goose — interesting startup selling consumer sensor hardware. My intuition is that we’re platforming too soon: that we need a few individual great applications of the sensors to take off, then we can worry about rationalising hardware in our house. The biggest problem seems to me that we’re talking about “sticking sensors on milk cartons” rather than solving an actual problem someone has. (“There are no sensors on my milk cartons” is not an oft-heard lament)
Hadoop Hits 1.0 — open source distributed computation engine, heavily used in big data analysis, hits 1.0.
Sparse and Low-Rank Approximation Wiki — interesting technique: instead of sampling at 2x the rate you need to discriminate then compressing to trade noise for space, use these sampling algorithms to (intelligently) noisily sample at the lower bit rate to begin with. Promises interesting applications particularly in for sensors (e.g., the Rice single pixel camera). (via siah)
Rise of Printer Malware — firmware attacks embedded in printed documents. Another reminder that not only is it hard to write safe software, your mistakes can be epically bad. (via Cory Doctorow)
Electric Circuits and Transistors Made From Cotton — To make it conductive, the researchers coated cotton threads in a variety of other materials. To make conductive “wires,” the team coated the threads with gold nanoparticles, and then a conductive polymer. To turn a cotton wire into a semiconductor, it was dipped in another polymer, and then a further glycol coating to make it waterproof. Neat materials hack that might lend a new twist to wearables.
Steve Case and His Companies (The Atlantic) — Maybe you see three random ideas. Case and his team saw three bets that paid off thanks to a new Web economy that promotes power in numbers and access over ownership. “Access over ownership” is a phrase that resonated. (via Walt Mossberg)
Back to the Future — teaching kids to program by giving them microcomputers from the 80s. I sat my kids down with a C64 emulator and an Usborne book to work through some BASIC examples. It’s not a panacea, but it solves a lot of bootstrapping problems with teaching kids to program.
Replaying Writing an Essay — Paul Graham wrote an essay using one of his funded startups, Stypi, and then had them hack it so you could replay the development with the feature that everything that was later deleted is highlighted yellow as it’s written. The result is fascinating to watch. I would like my text editor to show me what I need to delete ;)
Jawbone Live Up — wristband that sync with iPhone. Interesting wearable product, tied into ability to gather data on ourselves. The product looks physically nice, but the quantified self user experience needs the same experience and smoothness. Intrusive (“and now I’m quantifying myself!”) limits the audience to nerds or the VERY motivated.
Steve Jobs One-on-One (ComputerWorld) — interesting glimpse of the man himself in an oral history project recording made during the NeXT years. I don’t need a computer to get a kid interested in that, to spend a week playing with gravity and trying to understand that and come up with reasons why. But you do need a person. You need a person. Especially with computers the way they are now. Computers are very reactive but they’re not proactive; they are not agents, if you will. They are very reactive. What children need is something more proactive. They need a guide. They don’t need an assistant.
Bluetooth Violin Bow — this is awesome in so many directions. Sensors EVERYWHERE! I wonder what hackable uses it has …