- 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)
ENTRIES TAGGED "startups"
Microchip Archaeology, OSM Map Library, Feedback Loops for Public Expenditure, and Mind-reading Big Data
DIY Bio Hardware, App Store Numbers, Open Hardware Repository, and Science Startups
- OpenPCR Shipping — A PCR machine is basically a copy machine for DNA. It is essential for most work with DNA, things like exposing fraud at a sushi restaurant, diagnosing diseases including HIV and H1N1, or exploring your own genome. The guy who discovered the PCR process earned a Nobel Prize in 1993, and OpenPCR is now the first open source PCR machine. The price of a traditional PCR machine is around $3,000. This one is $512 and would go well with Ben Krasnow’s Scanning Electron Microscope. Biological tools get closer to hobbyist/hacker prices. (via Gabriella Coleman)
- Apple App Store Figures (Fast Company) — 1 billion apps in a month, 200M iOS users, $2.5B revshare to developers so far (implying a further $5.8B revenue kept by Apple). Another reminder of the astonishing money to be made by riding the mainstreaming of tech: as we move from dumb phones to smart phones, the market for Apple’s products and App Store sales will continue to rise. We’re not at the fighting-for-market-share stage yet, it’s still in the boom. (via Stephen Walli)
- Open Hardware Repository — open source digital hardware projects, such as a tool for generating VHDL/Verilog cores which implement Wishbone bus slaves with certain registers, memory blocks, FIFOs and interrupts. CERN just approved an open license for hardware designs. (via CERN)
- Wingu — SaaS startup to help scientists manage, analyze, and share data. Recently invested by Google, it’s one of several startups for scientists, such as Macmillan’s Digital Science which is run by Timo Hannay who is one of the convenors of Science Foo Camp. (via Alex Butler)
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)
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Healthcare Data, C64 Emulator, Python Machine Learning, and Startup Success Stats
- E-Referral Evaluation Interim Findings — in general good, but note this: The outstanding system issues are an ongoing source of frustration and concern, including [...] automated data uptake from the GP [General Practitioner=family doctor] PMS [Patient Management System], that sometimes has clearly inaccurate or contradictory information. When you connect systems, you realize the limitations of the data in them.
- c64iphone (GitHub) — the source to an iPhone/iPad app from the store, released under GPLv3. It incorporates the Frodo emulator. Sweet Freedom.
- mlpy — machine learning Python library, a high-performance Python package for predictive modeling. It makes extensive use of NumPy to provide fast N-dimensional array manipulation and easy integration of C code. (via Joshua Schachter)
- What is The Truth Behind 9 Out of 10 Startups Fail? (Quora) — some very interesting pointers and statistics, such as Hall and Woodward (2007) analyze a dataset of all VC-backed firms and show the highly skewed distribution of outcomes. VC revenue averages $5 million per VC-backed company. Founding team averages $9 million per VC-backed company (most from small probability of great success). The economically rational founding team would sell at time of VC funding for $900,000 to avoid the undiversified risk. (via Hacker News)
Tweets as Ads, Do Not Track, OnePage Site, and Lessons Learned
(the author apologizes for the late publication of this item)
- Twitter’s Biggest Problem: Tweets are Ads — having just been to my first social media marketing conference, I see what the author’s talking about. Would you want to pay for advertising in the middle of a sea of free ads? (via Hacker News)
- Safari and Do Not Track Support — now that there’s a technical mechanism for consumers to opt out, the next step is to mandate that publishers respect it. Problem: compliance with do-not-track is largely invisible, so there’s nothing like the feedback loop you get with Do Not Call lists where ANY telemarketer is instantly identifiable as a lawbreaker. Instead, you’ll only know Do Not Track is not working if you see useful advertisements. What the–?
- OnePager — a library-focused one-page website for libraries, attempting to focus the library on providing useful information rather than a lot of it. There’s a lesson here for almost every institution with a website. (via Nina Simon)
- Max Levchin’s Lessons Learned — some resonant ones: You can have successful teams where people hate but deeply respect each other; the opposite (love but not respect among team members) is a recipe for disaster.
Android Firefox, CloudPlayer Licenses, Github Lessons, and Data Structures
- Firefox for Android — faster than stock browser, apparently.
- Amazon CloudPlayer Needs No Licenses (Ars Technica) — that’s what Amazon claim, anyway. Because users upload the files (rather than accessing a central single copy of the ripped music), Amazon think they need no license. If this holds, expect Google and Amazon to follow suit.
- Ten Lessons from Github’s First Year — Your customers are most likely early adopters and love to see new features roll out every few weeks. If this results in a little bit of downtime, they’ll easily forgive you, as long as those features are sweet. In the early days of GitHub, we’d deploy up to ten times in one afternoon, always inching closer to that target. Make good use of that first year, because once the big important customers start rolling in, you have to be a lot more careful about hitting one of them with a stray bullet. Later in the game, downtime and botched deploys are money lost and you have to rely more on building instruments to predict where you should aim. Thoughtful take on agile and continuous deployment, among other things.
- What Are The Lesser-Known But Cool Data Structures? (Stack Overflow) — I have no joke here, I just like to say “cool data structures”. (via Joshua Schachter)
Demo Talks, Twitter Analysis, Free Courseware, Open Source VoIP
- Anatomy of a Y Combinator Demo Day Pitch (Bryce Roberts) — lovely deconstruction of the basic six slide show, demonstrating exactly how to give a talk with your audience in mind.
- Who Says What to Whom on Twitter (Yahoo! Research) — we find a striking concentration of attention on Twitter—roughly 50% of tweets consumed are generated by just 20K elite users—where the media produces the most information, but celebrities are the most followed. One of the researchers is Duncan Watts of Small Worlds fame.
- Saylor Foundation Free Education Initiative — notes, readings, tests, that take you through the curriculum for real university courses. Important because most online education stuff is either lectures, or course notes, but never enough for you to autodidacticise. (via Regan Mian)
- Blink — A state of the art, easy to use SIP client available for Mac, Windows and Linux. SIP = open standard for voice over IP. (via Simon Phipps)
Future Retrospective, Political Entrepreneurs, Library DRM, and In-Database Analytics
- A History of the Future in 100 Objects (Kickstarter) — blog+podcast+video+book project, to have future historians tell the story of our century in 100 objects. The BBC show that inspired it was brilliant, and I rather suspect this will be too. It’s a clever way to tell a story of the future (his hardest problem will be creating a single coherent narrative for the 21st century). What are the 100 objects that future historians will use to sum up our century? ‘Smart drugs’ that change the way we think? A fragment from suitcase nuke detonated in Shanghai? A wedding ring between a human and an AI? The world’s most expensive glass of water, returned from a private mission to an asteroid? (via RIG London weekly notes)
- Entrepreneurs Who Create Value vs Entrepreneurs Who Lock Up Value (Andy Kessler) — distinguishes between “political entrepreneurs” who leverage their political power to own something and then overcharge or tax the crap out of the rest of us to use it vs “market entrepreneurs” who recognize the price-to-value gap and jump in. Ignoring legislation, they innovate, disintermediate, compete, stay up all night coding, and offer something better and cheaper until the market starts to shift. My attention was particularly caught by for every stroke of the pen, for every piece of legislation, for every paid-off congressman, there now exists a price umbrella that overvalues what he or any political entrepreneur is doing. (via Bryce Roberts)
- Harper-Collins Caps eBook Loans — The publisher wants to sell libraries DRMed ebooks that will self-destruct after 26 loans. Public libraries have always served and continue to serve those people who can’t access information on the purchase market. Jackass moves like these prevent libraries from serving those people in the future that we hope will come soon: the future where digital is default and print is premium. That premium may well be “the tentacles of soulless bottom-dwelling coprocephalic publishers can’t digitally destroy your purchase”. It’s worth noting that O’Reilly offers DRM-free PDFs of the books they publish, including mine. Own what you buy lest it own you. (via BoingBoing and many astonished library sources)
- MAD Lib — BSD-licensed open-source library for scalable in-database analytics. It provides data-parallel implementations of mathematical, statistical and machine learning methods for structured and unstructured data. (via Ted Leung)
Catalyst Investors' Ryan McNally on the business opportunities born from publishing's disruption.
Ryan McNally, co-founder of Catalyst Investors, discusses the opportunities for publishing startups and investors (here's a tip: you're in good shape if tablets and multimedia are priorities).