- The Death and Life of Great Internet Cities — “The sense that you were given some space on the Internet, and allowed to do anything you wanted to in that space, it’s completely gone from these new social sites,” said Scott. “Like prisoners, or livestock, or anybody locked in institution, I am sure the residents of these new places don’t even notice the walls anymore.”
- What You’re Not Supposed To Do With Google Glass (Esquire) — Maybe I can put these interruptions to good use. I once read that in ancient Rome, when a general came home victorious, they’d throw him a triumphal parade. But there was always a slave who walked behind the general, whispering in his ear to keep him humble. “You are mortal,” the slave would say. I’ve always wanted a modern nonslave version of this — a way to remind myself to keep perspective. And Glass seemed the first gadget that would allow me to do that. In the morning, I schedule a series of messages to e-mail myself throughout the day. “You are mortal.” “You are going to die someday.” “Stop being a selfish bastard and think about others.” (via BoingBoing)
- Neural Networks and Deep Learning — Chapter 1 up and free, and there’s an IndieGogo campaign to fund the rest.
- What We Know and Don’t Know — That highly controlled approach creates the misconception that fossils come out of the ground with labels attached. Or worse, that discovery comes from cloaked geniuses instead of open discussion. We’re hoping to combat these misconceptions by pursuing an open approach. This is today’s evolutionary science, not the science of fifty years ago We’re here sharing science. […] Science isn’t the answers, science is the process. Open science in paleoanthropology.
Internet Cities, Defying Google Glass, Deep Learning Book, and Open Paleoanthropology
Ad Triumphalism, Education Not Transformed, Bookstore Infrastructure, and Tossable Camera
- Why The Banner Ad is Heroic — enough to make Dave Eggers cry. Advertising triumphalism rampant.
- Udacity/Thrun Profile — A student taking college algebra in person was 52% more likely to pass than one taking a Udacity class, making the $150 price tag–roughly one-third the normal in-state tuition–seem like something less than a bargain. In which Udacity pivots to hiring-sponsored workforce training and the new educational revolution looks remarkably like sponsored content.
- Amazon is Building Substations (GigaOm) — the company even has firmware engineers whose job it is to rewrite the archaic code that normally runs on the switchgear designed to control the flow of power to electricity infrastructure. Pretty sure that wasn’t a line item in the pitch deck for “the first Internet bookstore”.
- Panoramic Images — throw the camera in the air, get a 360×360 image from 36 2-megapixel lenses. Not sure that throwing was previously a recognised UI gesture.
IP Woe, Deep Learning Intro, Rapid Prototyping Bots, 3D Display
- TPPA Trades Away Internet Freedoms (EFF) — commentary on the wikileaked text of the trade agreement.
- Deep Learning 101 — introduction to the machine learning trend of choice.
- Large Scale Rapid Prototyping Robots — an informal list of large rapid prototyping systems […] including: big 3-axis systems that print plastic, sand, or cement; large robot arms with extruders and milling bits; and large industrial arms for bending metal and assembling modular structures.
- Dynamic Shape Display (MIT) — a Dynamic Shape Display that can render 3D content physically, so users can interact with digital information in a tangible way. inFORM can also interact with the physical world around it, for example moving objects on the table’s surface. (via Fast Company)
A truly accessible website is both accessible and usable
Every time I give a talk about making accessible websites, I get the following question:
“What checklist do you use to make sure a site is accessible?”
My response always surprises them:
“I don’t use a list.”
Why not? There are so many lists out there that I could be using! Practically every US government agency has a checklist published on their site, and several non-government sites offer checklists of their own. With so many free resources, why do I ignore checklists?
Glass Games, Dopplr Design, Free Android, and Shameful Security
- A Game Designer’s Guide to Google Glass (Gamasutra) — nice insight that Glass is shovelware-resistant because input is so different and output so limited. (via Beta Knowledge)
- Be Polite, Pertinent, and Pretty (Slideshare) — design principles from Dopplr. (via Matt Jones’s memorial to Dopplr)
- Replicant — free software Android. (via Wired)
- Femme Fatale Dupes IT Guys at Government Agency (Sophos) — story of how a fake LinkedIn profile for a pretty woman reflects as poorly on security practice as on gender politics.
Measuring impact and changing behavior
I had the opportunity to sit down with Laura Klein (@lauraklein) and talk about the importance of creating effective user experiences. Laura is a UX expert and consultant. She stresses the need to figure out what works by talking to users and determining what works through usability testing. She’s also author of O’Reilly Media’s UX for Lean Startups: Faster, Smarter User Experience Research and Design. It hit home when Laura told me, “If people aren’t getting it, you’re probably doing it wrong.”
Key highlights include:
- How to figure out what works, so you can avoid a poor user experience. [Discussed at 0:19]
- It’s important to avoid porting a traditional process to a new product and service. Instead you need to think about how to design a new and natural experience. [Discussed at 2:16]
- Think about context when designing new processes. [Discussed at 2:37]
- The first step in creating a successful UX is knowing and understanding your audience. [Discussed at 3:49]
- Using these principles beyond web sites. In all good UX applications, the goal is not to notice the interface. [Discussed at 5:16]
- It’s critical to observe people, so you’re not assuming a knowledge base. [Discussed at 7:35]
- The importance of A/B Testing. And how design is not an art; it’s trying to solve a problem. [Discussed at 9:54]
- How the build, measure, learn lean methodology fits with UX design. It’s all about measuring the impact and changing behavior. [Discussed at 11:11]
You can view the full interview here:
Recognising Hand Gestures, Drone Conference, Stubbornly Open Codes, and Remote Mobile Display
- An Interactive Machine Learning System for Recognizing Hand Gestures (Greg Borenstein) — a mixed-initiative interactive machine learning system for recognizing hand gestures. It attempts to give the user visibility into the classifier’s prediction confidence and control of the conditions under which the system actively requests labeled gestures when its predictions are uncertain. (an exercise for his MIT class)
- First Drone Conference Takes Off (Makezine) — forgive them the puns, Lord, for they know not what they do … uble intendre. Write-up fascinating beyond the headline. Dr. Vijay Kumar of the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering spoke about socially positive uses for aerial robotics, such as emergency first responders. Dr. Kumar’s work focuses on micro aerial vehicles. He explains that, “size does matter.” As robots get smaller, mass and inertial is reduced. If you halve the mass, the acceleration doubles and the angular acceleration quadruples. This makes for a robot that is fast and responsive, ideal for operating indoors or out, and perfect for search and rescue missions in collapsed buildings or around other hazards.
- Standing Up to Mississippi (Carl Malamud) — yesterday we received a Certified Letter from the Attorney General’s Special Assistant Attorney General demanding that we remove these materials from the Internet and all other electronic or non-electronic media. There was no email address, so I proceeded to prepare a 67-page return reply with Exhibits A-L. I thought folks might be interested in the 7 steps of the production process. Give to his Kickstarter project, folks!
- Open Project (PDF) — A lightweight framework for remote sharing of mobile applications. Sounds like malware but is Google Research project.
Connecting Things, Eye Tracker, Retro Browser, Human Filter
- The Thing System — connects to Things in your home, whether those things are media players such as the Sonos or the Apple TV, your Nest thermostat, your INSTEON home control system, or your Philips Hue lightbulbs — whether your things are connected together via Wi-Fi, USB or Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). The steward will find them and bring them together so they can talk to one another and perform magic.
- The Eye Tribe — $99 eye-tracker with SDK.
- Line Mode — CERN emulator for the original web client. I remember coding for this, and hacking new features into it. Roar says the dinosaur, in 80×24 pixelated glory.
- 2M Person Internet Filter — (BBC) China apparently employs 2 million people to read Weibo and other Internet content sites, to identify critical opinions. That’s 40% of my country’s population. Crikey.
Translation Glasses, Diagramming, Offline Gmail, and WTF Computation
- Instant Translator Glasses (ZDNet) — character recognition to do instant translating, and a UI that turns any flat surface into a touch-screen via a finger-ring sensor.
- draw.io — diagramming … In The Cloud!
- Airmail — Mac gmail client with offline mode that fails to suck.
- The Page-Fault Weird Machine: Lessons in Instruction-less Computation (Usenix) — video, audio, and text of a paper that’ll make your head hurt. We demonstrate a Turing-complete execution environment driven solely by the IA32 architecture’s interrupt handling and memory translation tables, in which the processor is trapped in a series of page faults and double faults, without ever successfully dispatching any instructions. LOLWUT?!
What to look out for when updating your code
As a bewildered Dorothy says in the movie The Wizard of Oz, “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” When you open your iOS 6 project in Xcode 5 and run it in the iOS 7 simulator, you’ll know instantly that things have changed:
Gone is the colored status bar background; the status bar is always transparent, and all apps are full-screen apps, underlapping the status bar. A button has no rounded rect bezel, unless you draw it yourself as the button’s background. Many interface objects are drawn differently, with different dimensions. The subtle bar gradient is gone; colors are flat, unless you draw a gradient background yourself.