- 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)
IP Woe, Deep Learning Intro, Rapid Prototyping Bots, 3D Display
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.
- MegaPWN (GitHub) — Your MEGA master key is supposed to be a secret, but MEGA or anyone else with access to your computer can easily find it without you noticing. Browser crypto is only as secure as the browser and the code it runs.
- When Smart Homes Get Hacked (Forbes) — Insteon’s flaw was worse in that it allowed access to any one via the Internet. The researchers could see the exposed systems online but weren’t comfortable poking around further. I was — but I was definitely nervous about it and made sure I had Insteon users’ permission before flickering their lights.
- A Stick Figure Guide to Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) — exactly what it says.
Fanout Architectures, In-Browser Emulation, Paean to Programmability, and Social Hardware
- Achieving Rapid Response Times in Large Online Services (PDF) — slides from a talk by Jeff Dean on fanout architectures. (via Alex Dong)
- Go Ahead, Mess with Texas Instruments (The Atlantic) — School typically assumes that answers fall neatly into categories of “right” and “wrong.” As a conventional tool for computing “right” answers, calculators often legitimize this idea; the calculator solves problems, gives answers. But once an endorsed, conventional calculator becomes a subversive, programmable computer it destabilizes this polarity. Programming undermines the distinction between “right” and “wrong” by emphasizing the fluidity between the two. In programming, there is no “right” answer. Sure, a program might not compile or run, but making it offers multiple pathways to success, many of which are only discovered through a series of generative failures. Programming does not reify “rightness;” instead, it orients the programmer toward intentional reading, debugging, and refining of language to ensure clarity.
- When A Spouse Puts On Google Glass (NY Times) — Google Glass made me realize how comparably social mobile phones are. […] People gather around phones to watch YouTube videos or look at a funny tweet together or jointly analyze a text from a friend. With Glass, there was no such sharing.