ENTRIES TAGGED "ubicomp"
Node.JS Cluster, Experience Culture, Robots in Education, and Homebrew Printer
- Nokia Culture Will Out (Adam Greenfield) — Except that, as realized by Nokia, this is precisely what failed to happen. I experienced, in fact, neither a frisson of elegant futurism nor a blasé presentiment of everyday life at midcentury. I was given an NFC phone, and told to tap it against the item I wanted from the vending machine. This is what happened next: the vending machine teeped, and the phone teeped, and six or seven seconds later a notification popped up on its screen. It was an incoming text message, which had been sent by the vending machine at the moment I tapped my phone against it. I had to respond “Y” to this text to complete the transaction. The experience was clumsy and joyless and not in any conceivable way an improvement over pumping coins into the soda machine just the way I did quarters into Defender at the age of twelve.
- NextGen Education and Research Robotics — virtual conference on robotics in education.
- Homemade Arduino Printer (Instructables) — made with an Arduino, two dead CD/DVD drives and a marker pen. Clever hack! (via MindKits on Twitter)
API Economics, Spreadsheet Risks, New York of Things, Pair Programming Fail
- Instapaper’s API — Marco Arment wanted to prevent people building their own front-ends using the API and thus removing his (advertising) revenue source. He could offer a cripped API, but people scrape to work around that. He could tithe the apps people build on top of his API, but that’s hard work to set up and run. His solution: the API only works for paying customers.
- European Spreadsheet Risks Interest Group: Horror Stories — horrifying reading. I was surprised by how many companies build Excel into their accounting workflow.
- New York’s Central Nervous System is Growing — another datapoint in the sensor network Internet of Things buildout. The lump, an ultra-low power sensor, will communicate with other white lumps under parked cars all over the island, telling each other when you pulled in, how long you’ve been parked and when you rumble away. Last month, the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp. announced plans to place these sensors underneath the 30 new parking spots next to Roosevelt Island’s subway and tramway. (via BLDGBLOG)
- Where Pair Programming Fails for Me — I found that in order to pair, I had to act as if I was in a continuous meeting. I had to not just listen to my pair, but appear to be listening; I had to nod in the right places, repeat back what my pair said in active listening fashion. I had to pick the right moment to interject. I tried to model my partner’s mental state in my head so I could see his viewpoint better. While I was doing this, I was trying to see the code that he was writing, and the design that he was trying to make the code fit. If there was a failing test, I was trying to figure out the test and the test framework at the same time.
Tablet Magazines, Ubiquitous Urban Computing, Families and Work, and Twitter Query Language
- My iPad Magazine Stand (Khoi Vinh) — My opinion about iPad-based magazines is that they run counter to how people use tablets today and, unless something changes, will remain at odds with the way people will use tablets as the medium matures. They’re bloated, user-unfriendly and map to a tired pattern of mass media brands trying vainly to establish beachheads on new platforms without really understanding the platforms at all. (via Shawn Connally)
- Dan Hill Keynote (video) — beautiful and thought-provoking presentation on mining, using, and presenting data in the urban environment.
- The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship Continued (Pete Warden) — “work/life balance” is so trite, but I’ve been fascinated by how people deal with it since I heard Joe Kraus talk at Web 2.0 about what he was doing different at his latest startup. He replied that he was working fewer hours because he had a family, and that it was a difficult line to walk but he felt that he was managing it better because it was his second time around.
- TweeQL — query language for tweets. Query languages encode use scenarios. They limit what can be done easily but those limits also permit optimizations. I note the arrival of new query languages (cf Yahoo! Pipes) for these reasons. (via raffi on Twitter)
Bad Game Mechanics, Under NoSQL Covers, the LAN of Things, and the Smithsonian Commons
- Pwned: Gamification and its Discontents (Slideshare) — hear, hear! Video games are not fun because they’re video games, but if and only they are well-designed. Just adding something from games isn’t a guarantee for fun. (via jameshome on Twitter)
- Redis Under the Hood — explanation of the insides and mechanisms of this popular distributed key-value store. (via tlockney on delicious)
- The LAN of Things (Mike Kuniavsky) — Before we can have an Internet of Things, we will need to have a LAN of things.[...] Most of the utility of a LAN came from its local functionality. Thus, before we can build a useful (from a user perspective) Internet of Things, we need to learn to build useful LANs of Things. [...] I think it’s important to start thinking about what the highly localized uses of sparsely distributed technology can be. What can we do when there are only a couple of things with RFIDs in our house? What totally great service can be built on having two light switches that report their telemetry in the house? What totally valuable information can you tell me if I only wear my motion sensor every once in a while? Love it. (via Matt Jones on Delicious)
- Mike Edson’s Talk at Powerhouse Museum — the Director of Web and New Media Technology at the Smithsonian is smart, articulate, and trying to do something cool with the Smithsonian Commons prototype. (via sebchan on Twitter)
Street Demographics, Hack for Africa, Opportunity Spotting, News or Filters?
- Brien Lane, Melbourne — an alleyway painted with statistics about the area. Urban spaces as screens. Check out the other photos. (via Pete Warden)
- Apps 4 Africa — from US State Department, The challenge is to build the best digital tools to address community challenges in areas ranging from healthcare to education and government transparency to election monitoring. (via Clay Johnson)
- Hopeful Monsters and the Trough of Disillusionment (Berg London) — this was a great Foo talk, lovely to see the ideas written up and circulated widely.
- Tyranny of the Daily 10 Percent (Julie Starr) — do we have a production quality problem, or do we have a filter problem? Intersection of two trends we’ve seen: “news reinvention” and “information overload”. I find myself wanting to spend more time quantifying what we’ve already got that’s good and being clearer about what we think is missing, before thinking about what to replace it with and how to foot the bill.
New Take on Ubicomp, Language Insight, Sexy Viz, and iPad Usability
- People are Walking Architecture — presentation by Matt Jones of BERG, taking a new lens to this AR/ubicomp/whatever-it-is-today world. “[Mobile phones are] a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities ….”
- Lexicalist — insight into geographic and age distribution of language use, based on Twitter data. (via Language Log)
- Advanced Visualization Techniques — nice overview of some non-standard visualization techniques. Short shameful confession: I love polar dendrograms with a passion. These techniques are to visualizers as algorithms and data structures to programmers: each is used in specific circumstances and compromises some things to gain in others. (via Flowing Data)
- iPad Usability Report (Nielsen-Norman Group) — 93-page report based on user studies. The iPad etched-screen aesthetic does look good. No visual distractions or nerdy buttons. The penalty for this beauty is the re-emergence of a usability problem we haven’t seen since the mid-1990s: Users don’t know where they can click. For the last 15 years of Web usability research, the main problems have been that users don’t know where to go or which option to choose — not that they don’t even know which options exist. With iPad UIs, we’re back to this square one. (via Andrew Savikas)
Load Testing, Chinese Manufacturing, Heroic Forking, and Ubicomp
- Tsung — GPLed multi-protocol (HTTP, PostgreSQL, MySQL, WebDAV, SOAP, XMPP) load tester written in Erlang.
- Myth of China’s Manufacturing Prowess — The latest data shows [...] that the United States is still the largest manufacturer in the world. In 2008, U.S. manufacturing output was $1.8 trillion, compared to $1.4 trillion in China (UN data. China’s data do not separate manufacturing from mining and utilities. So the actual Chinese manufacturing number should be much smaller). Also contains pointers to an interesting discussion of lack of opportunities for college grads in China.
- OpenSSO and the Value of Open Source — Oracle are removing all open source downloads and wiki mentions, leaving only the enterprise OpenSSO product on their web site. A Norwegian company has stepped in and will continue the open source project. This is essentially a fork, but for the forces of good. (via normnz on Twitter)
- The Internet of Things — 5m video on sensor networks, etc. (via imran on Twitter)
Augmented Reality, A/B Psych, Open Source Heartbeat, Launchpad Launches
- ARtisan — AR Flash library, the fastest and easiest way from point A to point B in browser based augmented reality. Love the demos on the home page. (via and bjepson)
- How to Increase Sign-ups By 200% — A/B testing from 37Signals showed that “See Plans and Pricing” got twice the clickthroughs of “Free Trial!” and variations thereon. (via kathysierra on Twitter)
- Open Source Heart Monitor, Possible Blood Sugar Level Detector — another step forward in sensor networks and personal data: I’ve set up a quick prototype of a device that will monitor my heart rate while I sleep. It includes a BUGbase + BUGvonHippel module (from my company Bug Labs). I’m also using a custom module we put together that uses a Polar radio receiver (from Sparkfun) and a Polar strap that I wear around my chest. Lastly, we wrote a simple program that runs on the BUG to log the data. (via chr1a on Twitter)
- Launchpad Opensourced — Canonical’s code hosting and collaboration platform that was heavily lusted after in the open souce world, finally open sourced and in its entirety. GNU Affero license.