- 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)
ENTRIES TAGGED "startups"
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
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).
A look at three publishing startups, Romenesko retires, and Jer Thorp discusses data at the NYT.
The TOC Sneak Peek webcasts continue, Poynter gets a part-time employee while Romenesko plans a new blog, and Jer Thorp talks about being a data artist at the New York Times.
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)
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)