- Why Mobile Matters (Luke Wroblewski) — great demonstration of the changes in desktop and mobile, the new power of Android, and the waning influence of old manufacturers.
- It’s Called iBooks Author Not iMathTextbooks Author, And The Trouble That Results (Dan Meyer) — It’s curious that even though students own their iBooks forever (ie. they can’t resell them or give them away), they can’t write in them except in the most cursory ways. Even curiouser, these iBooks could all be wired to the Internet and wired to a classroom through iTunes U, but they’d still be invisible to each other. Your work on your iPad cannot benefit me on mine. At our school, we look for “software with holes in it”–software into which kids put their own answers, photos, stories.
- DepthCam — It’s a live-streaming 3D point-cloud, carried over a binary WebSocket. It responds to movement in the scene by panning the (virtual) camera, and you can also pan and zoom around with the mouse. Very impressive hack with a Kinect! (via Pete Warden)
- Starting an Online Store is Not Easy in Greece — At the health department, they were told that all the shareholders of the company would have to provide chest X-rays, and, in the most surreal demand of all, stool samples. Note to Greece: this is not how you check whether a business plan is full of shit. (via Hacker News)
ENTRIES TAGGED "startups"
Why Mobile Matters, Towards Better Textbooks, Kinect Hack, and Greece Cantrepreneurial Spirit
Corruption Remains, Automated Instruction, Eolas Victory Incomplete, and CI Arduino Hack
- Why I Hate The STOCK Act (Clay Johnson) — an attempt to reform insider trading within government, but because Congress exempts itself from substantial penalties then it has little effect where it’s needed most. We won’t see change on the issues that matter to us (copyright, due process for Internet takedowns, privacy, etc.) while the lawmakers are distracted by money.
- Instruction Medium is the Message (Dan Meyer) — Print is a medium. Same as digital photos. Same as a teacher’s voice. Same as a YouTube video. Same as a podcast. These are all different media. And as we know, the medium is the message. The medium defines and constrains and sometimes distorts the message. The math that can be conveyed in a YouTube video is not the same math that can be conveyed in a digital photo or a podcast or a print textbook. Anything that can be replaced by a computer should be; it’s doubtful that successful widespread education consists only of things a computer can replace.
- Eolas Patent a Hollow Victory (Simon Phipps) — those who were extorted by the patent troll will go uncompensated, and the loss of one patent leaves their business model still intact. The patent system is extremely broken in the US, it’s a giant cost of doing business, a regulation-created tax that is paid to trolls instead of to the US Government. What idiot supports a tax that doesn’t go to the government? An ethically-corrupted one (see point 1 above).
- Monitor your Continuous Integration Server with Traffic Lights and an Arduino — nifty little hardware hack. It’s an example of making physical objects which control or portray virtual systems, and it’s tied into this Continuous Integration trend whereby software changes go live as soon as possible rather than being held off until 2am on the first Thursday of the month, when the IT team come in to manage the rollout of the new code. CI, in turn, is an example of failing early on something small rather than failing later and larger. (via Sandy Mamoli)
Indie Businesses, Frontend Sluggards, Beautiful Graphics, and Big Data Patterns
- Rise of the Independents (Bryce Roberts) — companies that don’t take VC money and instead choose to grow organically: indies. +1 for having a word for this.
- Starry Night Comes to Life — wow, beautiful, must-see.
- MapReduce Patterns, Algorithms, and Use Cases — In this article I digest a number of MapReduce patterns and algorithms to give a systematic view of the different techniques that can be found in the web or scientific articles. Several practical case studies are also provided. All descriptions and code snippets use the standard Hadoop’s MapReduce model with Mappers, Reduces, Combiners, Partitioners, and sorting.
- Weave — web-based visualization platform designed to enable visualization of any available data by anyone for any purpose. GPL and MPL-licensed. (via Flowing Data)
- What Silicon Valley Gets Wrong About Math Education Again And Again (Dan Meyer) — nicely said: it’s hard to test true understanding, easy to automate only part of the testing and assessment support for learners.
- mitmproxy — GPLv3-licensed SSL-aware HTTP proxy which lets you snoop on the traffic being sent back to the mothership from apps.
Digital is creating fertile ground for startups.
Books, publishing processes and readers have all made the jump to digital, and that's creating considerable opportunities for publishing startups.
Finland Schools, Open Source Prezi, Debit Cards for Hackers, and Sensor Startups
- What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success (The Atlantic) — Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted. This is a magnificent article, you should read it. (via Juha Saarinen)
- 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)
Access Over Ownership, Retro Programming, Replaying Writing, and Wearable Sensors
- 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.
Code Bloat, Chinese Startups, Font Fun, and Businesses Embracing Open Source
- Things Turbo Pascal is Smaller Than — next time you’re bragging about your efficient code, spare a thought for the Pascal IDE and compiler that lived in 39,731 bytes. This list of more bloated things is hilarious.
- The China Startup Report (Slideshare) — interesting to see the low salary comes with expectation of bonuses but little interest in equity (as there are few exits other than IPO, for reasons the presentation goes into).
- Shape Method — fun HTML5 challenge that will also expand your appreciation of fonts.
- Open Source All The Things! — SparkFun looking aggressively for things to “open source” from their business. I have a lot of time for companies that contribute to the commons above and beyond their legally-mandated minimum, particularly those who aren’t just dumping their unwanted junk there. Google does this well, Facebook is learning. Good on ya, SparkFun.
Education Startups, Smartphone Robotics, Google SQL, and Deleted Timezones
- Why Education Startups Do Not Succeed –This fundamental investment vs. expenditure mindset changes everything. You think of education as fundamentally a quality problem. The average person thinks of education as fundamentally a cost problem. This and many other insights that repay the reading. (via Hacker News)
- Romo — smartphone robotics platform Kickstarter project.
- Google Cloud SQL — Google offers proper SQL for AppEngine. Edd notes that this happened just as Oracle offered a NoSQL server. Worth remembering that the label on the technology isn’t a magic bullet to solve your problems: SQL and NoSQL aren’t what’s important, you still must understand how they work with your particular data types and patterns of access.
- Olson Timezone Database Deleted — the USA permits copyrighting of facts, whereas facts [not being the product of a creative act] are not copyrightable in much of the rest of the world. One of the sources for historical timezone data threatened legal action, and the maintainers chose to delete their database. This is a bugger: without it, there’s no way to map GMT onto local time for arbitrary times in the past.
Singaporean Incubator, Oracle NoSQL, Should Facebook have a Browser?, and GitHub has Competition
- jfdi.asia — Singaporean version of TechStars, with 100-day program (“the bootcamp”) Jan-Apr 2012. Startups from anywhere in the world can apply, and will want to because Singapore is the gateway to Asia. They’ll also have mentors from around the world.
- Oracle NoSQLdb — Oracle want to sell you a distributed key-value store. It’s called “Oracle NoSQL” (as opposed to PostgreSQL, which is SQL No-Oracle). (via Edd Dumbill)
- Facebook Browser — interesting thoughts about why the browser might be a good play for Facebook. I’m not so sure: browsers don’t lend themselves to small teams, and search advertising doesn’t feel like a good fit with Facebook’s existing work. Still, making me grumpy again to see browsers become weapons again.
- Bitbucket — a competitor to Github, from the folks behind the widely-respected Jira and Confluence tools. I’m a little puzzled, to be honest: Github doesn’t seem to have weak spots (the way, for example, that Sourceforge did).