Object Lessons — Bogost and Schaberg edit a series about the hidden lives of ordinary things, from advocates to attendants, heresies to shares. For anyone who cares about products.
A Data Programming CS1 Course (PDF) — We have found that students can be motivated to learn programming and computer science concepts in order to analyze DNA, predict the outcome of elections, detect fraudulent data, suggest friends in a social network, determine the authorship of documents, and more. The approach is more than just a collection of “nifty assignments”; rather, it affects the choice of topics and pedagogy.
Cars and the Future (Ben Thompson) — This generational pattern of adoption will, in the history books, look sudden, even as it seems to unfold ever so slowly for those of us in the here and now — especially those of us working in technology. The pace of change in the technology industry — which is young, hugely driven by Moore’s Law, and which has largely catered to change-embracing geeks — is likely the true aberration. After all, the biggest mistake consistently made by technologists is forgetting that for most people technology is a means to an end, and for all the benefits we can list when it comes to over-the-top video or a network of on-demand self-driving vehicles, change and the abandonment of long-held ideals like the open road and a bit of TV after supper is an end most would prefer to avoid.
CES 2016 Observations for Product People — The big challenge is no surprise. Software development is unable to keep up with the hardware. What is going to separate one device from another or one company from another will be the software execution, not just the choice of chipset or specs for a peripheral/sensor. It would be hard to overstate the clear opportunity to build winning products using stronger software relative to competitors. Said another way, spending too many cycles on hardware pits you against the supply chain for most products. The whole piece is solid.
Tesla Model S Can Now Drive Without You (TechCrunch) — the upside of the Internet of Things is that objects get smarter while you sleep. (In fairness, they can also be pwned by Ukrainian teenagers while you sleep.)
Replacing Judgement with Algorithms (Bruce Schneier) — We can get the benefits of automatic algorithmic systems while avoiding the dangers. It’s not even hard. Transparency and oversight with accountability.
Folium — makes it easy to visualize data that’s been manipulated in Python on an interactive Leaflet map. It enables both the binding of data to a map for choropleth visualizations as well as passing Vincent/Vega visualizations as markers on the map.
SEE — F-Secure’s open source Sandboxed Execution Environment (SEE) is a framework for building test automation in secured Environments.
The Problem with Self-Driving Cars: Who Controls the Code? (Cory Doctorow) — Here’s a different way of thinking about this problem: if you wanted to design a car that intentionally murdered its driver under certain circumstances, how would you make sure that the driver never altered its programming so that they could be assured that their property would never intentionally murder them?
Distributed Reactive Programming (A Paper a Day) — this week’s focus on reactive programming has been eye-opening for me. I find the implementation details less interesting than the simple notion that we can define different consistency models for reactive programs and reason about them.
Attacking HTTP/2 Implementations — Our talk focused on threats, attack vectors, and vulnerabilities found during the course of our research. Two Firefox, two Apache Traffic Server (ATS), and four Node-http2 vulnerabilities will be discussed alongside the release of the first public HTTP/2 fuzzer. We showed how these bugs were found, their root cause, why they occur, and how to trigger them.
The Autonomous Winter is Coming — The future of any given manufacturer will be determined by how successfully they manage their brands in a market split between Mobility customers and Driving customers.
Six Degrees of Francis Bacon — recreates the British early modern social network to trace the personal relationships among figures like Bacon, Shakespeare, Isaac Newton, and many others. (via CMU)
Last Bus Startup Standing (TechCrunch) — Vahabzadeh stressed that a key point of Chariot’s survival has been that the company has been above-board with the law from day one. “They haven’t cowboy-ed it,” said San Francisco supervisor Scott Wiener, a mass transit advocate who recently pushed for a master subway plan for the city. “They’ve been good about taking feedback and making sure they’re complying with the law. I’m a fan and think that private transportation options and rideshares have a significant role to play in making us a transit-first city.”
Mobile App Developers are Suffering — the top 20 app publishers, representing less than 0.005% of all apps, earn 60% of all app store revenue. The article posits causes of the particularly extreme power law.
Low-Power Deep Learning — it’s a media release for proprietary tech, but interesting that people are working on low-power deep learning neural nets. As Pete Warden noted, this kind of research will be at the center of smart sensors. (via Pete Warden)
Tesla’s Self-Improving Autopilot — it learns when you “rescue” (aka take control back from autopilot), so it’s getting better day by day. Musk said that Model S owners could add ~1 million miles of new data every day, which is helping the company create “high-precision maps.” Navteq, Google Maps, Waze … new map data is still valuable.
The Digital Revolution in Higher Education Has Already Happened (Clay Shirky) — and no-one noticed. I read half of this before going “holy crap this is good, who wrote it?” I’m a Shirky junkie (I bet his laundry lists cite Habermas and the Peace of Westphalia). At the current rate of growth, half the country’s undergraduates will have at least one online class on their transcripts by the end of the decade. This is the new normal. But, As long as we discuss online education as a pedagogic revolution rather than an organizational one, we aren’t even having the right kind of conversation. The dramatic adoption of online education is not mainly a change in the content of classes. It’s a change in the institutional form of college, a demand for more flexibility by students who have to manage the increasingly complicated triangle of work, family, and school.
System Automatically Converts 2-D to 3-D (MIT) — hilarious strategy! They constrained their domain: broadcast soccer games. The MIT and QCRI researchers essentially ran this process in reverse. They set the very realistic Microsoft soccer game “FIFA13” to play over and over again, and used Microsoft’s video-game analysis tool PIX to continuously store screen shots of the action. For each screen shot, they also extracted the corresponding 3-D map. […] For every frame of 2-D video of an actual soccer game, the system looks for the 10 or so screen shots in the database that best correspond to it. Then it decomposes all those images, looking for the best matches between smaller regions of the video feed and smaller regions of the screen shots. Once it’s found those matches, it superimposes the depth information from the screen shots on the corresponding sections of the video feed. Finally, it stitches the pieces back together. Brute-forcing soccer. Ok, perhaps “hilarious” for a certain type of person. I am that person.
This World of Ours (PDF) — funny and accurate skewering of the modern security researcher. In the real world, threat models are much simpler (see Figure 1). Basically, you’re either dealing with Mossad or not-Mossad. If your adversary is not-Mossad, then you’ll probably be fine if you pick a good password and don’t respond to emails from ChEaPestPAiNPi11s@virus-basket.biz.ru. If your adversary is the Mossad, YOU’RE GONNA DIE AND THERE’S NOTHING THAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT. The Mossad is not intimidated by the fact that you employ https://.
Ligra — a lightweight graph processing framework for shared memory. It is particularly suited for implementing parallel graph traversal algorithms where only a subset of the vertices are processed in an iteration.
Observational Signatures of Self-Destructive Civilisations (arXiv) — Using the Earth as an example, we consider a variety of scenarios in which humans could extinguish their own technological civilisation. Each scenario presents some form of observable signature that could be probed by astronomical campaigns to detect and characterise extrasolar planetary systems. I feel like there’s a business form of this paper, too …
Theft, Lies, and Facebook Video (Medium) — inexcusable that Facebook, a company with a market cap of $260 BILLION, launched their video platform with no system to protect independent rights holders. It wouldn’t be surprising if Facebook was working on a solution now, which they can roll out conveniently after having made their initial claims at being the biggest, most important thing in video. In the words of Gillian Welch, “I wanna do right, but not right now.“
The Web We Have to Save — Nearly every social network now treats a link just the same as it treats any other object — the same as a photo, or a piece of text — instead of seeing it as a way to make that text richer. You’re encouraged to post one single hyperlink and expose it to a quasi-democratic process of liking and plussing and hearting: Adding several links to a piece of text is usually not allowed. Hyperlinks are objectivized, isolated, stripped of their powers.
California Regulator Pushing for All Cars to be Electric (Bloomberg) — Nichols really does intend to force automakers to eventually sell nothing but electrics. In an interview in June at her agency’s heavy-duty-truck laboratory in downtown Los Angeles, it becomes clear that Nichols, at age 70, is pushing regulations today that could by midcentury all but banish the internal combustion engine from California’s famous highways. “If we’re going to get our transportation system off petroleum,” she says, “we’ve got to get people used to a zero-emissions world, not just a little-bit-better version of the world they have now.” How long until the same article is written, but about driverless cars?
LLVM for Grad Students — fast intro to why LLVM is interesting. LLVM is a great compiler, but who cares if you don’t do compilers research? A compiler infrastructure is useful whenever you need to do stuff with programs.
Speed as a Habit — You don’t have to be militant about it, just consistently respond that today is better than tomorrow, that right now is better than six hours from now. This is chock full of good advice, and the occasional good story.
Punctuated Equilibrium in the Large-Scale Evolution of Programming Languages (PDF) — Here we study the large-scale historical development of programming languages, which have deeply marked social and technological advances in the last half century. We analyse their historical connections using network theory and reconstructed phylogenetic networks. Using both data analysis and network modeling, it is shown that their evolution is highly uneven, marked by innovation events where new languages are created out of improved combinations of different structural components belonging to previous languages. These radiation events occur in a bursty pattern and are tied to novel technological and social niches. The method can be extrapolated to other systems and consistently captures the major classes of languages and the widespread horizontal design exchanges, revealing a punctuated evolutionary path. (via Jarkko Hietaniemi)