Four Short Links

Nat Torkington's eclectic collection of curated links.

Four short links: 26 October 2016

Computer Security MOOC, Human-Data Interaction, Baidu's Open Source, and Termination of Transfer

  1. Cyber Security Base with F‑Secure -- free computer security MOOC from University of Helsinki and F-Secure.
  2. Human-Data Interaction -- from the Encyclopaedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd ed.
  3. Baidu's Open Source -- interesting to see the different code bases they're working on, and the areas around IoT, "Internet-scale" databases, charting, speech, deep learning—all the goodies.
  4. Termination of Transfer (Creative Commons) -- in keeping with this year’s Open Access theme “Open in Action,” Creative Commons and Authors Alliance are pleased to announce a new tool that empowers authors to learn about whether and when they have the right to terminate licensing arrangements they have made with publishers that prevent them from sharing their works openly.

Four short links: 25 October 2016

EdTech Dictionary, Choose Simple, Dictator's Handbook, and Medical Bioinspiration

  1. A Devil's Dictionary of Educational Technology -- brilliant! Analytics, n. pl. “The use of numbers to confirm existing prejudices, and the design of complex systems to generate these numbers.”
  2. Simple Made Easy -- while many choose easiness, they may end up with complexity, and the better way is to choose easiness along the simplicity path. (via Living in the Age of Software Fuckery)
  3. The Dictator's Handbook (Amazon) -- added to my queue, to read with open source projects in mind.
  4. BioInspiration -- profile of Jeffrey Karp, whose lab at MIT creates useful medical inventions inspired by natural phenomena. I love the focus on practicality. “When we look to solve problems, it’s not so we can publish papers and get pats on the back from the academic community,” said Nick Sherman, a research technician at Karp Lab. “It’s more like, ‘Is this work going to help patients? If not, how do we make it help them?’”

Four short links: 24 October 2016

Soviet Internet, Deep Learning Papers, Chinese Black Mirror, and Coding Conventions

  1. The Internyet -- Soviet scientists tried for decades to network their nation. What stalemated them is now fracturing the global Internet. [...] Glushkov’s story is also a stirring reminder to the investor classes and other agents of technological change that astonishing genius, far-seeing foresight, and political acumen are not enough to change the world. Supporting institutions often make all the difference. There's so much to pull out of this article!
  2. Deep Learning Papers Reading Roadmap -- for those long winter nights that are coming. Lay in supplies of highlighters and cocoa.
  3. China's Plan to Organize its Society Relies on "Big Data" to Rate Everyone (WaPo) -- The ambition is to collect every scrap of information available online about China’s companies and citizens in a single place — and then assign each of them a score based on their political, commercial, social, and legal “credit.” Just in time for Black Mirror Season 3, episode 1.
  4. Code Like Shakespeare -- great title, better than any article can be when it's on coding conventions that help people read your code more easily. It's still good advice.

Four short links: 21 October 2016

Democratic Exfiltration, Pornish Tasties, Private Deep Learning, and Security Economics

  1. Every CRS Report -- Until today, CRS reports were generally available only to the well-connected. Now, in partnership with a Republican and Democratic member of Congress, we are making these reports available to everyone for free online. The reports are only released to Congress members, and (although "public") not released to the public. There have been years of wrangling about whether to release them, so someone set up automatic exfiltration with the help of members of Congress. And they're scrubbed before release, so the office workers who compiled the reports are not identified (which would have made them targets for online hate). Democracy treats censorship as damage and routes around it.
  2. Image Synthesis from Yahoo's open_nsfw Collection -- brilliant! Using Deep Dream type amplification, and Yahoo's open source porn recognizer, you can now "pornicate" everything from landscapes to a blank page. Coming soon to a camera app near you, if you'll pardon the phrase.
  3. Semi-supervised Knowledge Transfer for Deep Learning from Private Training Data -- aka, how to prevent your sensitive training data from leaking out of your model. [W]e demonstrate a generally applicable approach to providing strong privacy guarantees for training data.
  4. Open Course in Security Economics (edX TUDelft) -- an introduction to the field of cybersecurity through the lens of economic principles. Delivered by four leading research teams, it will provide you with the economic concepts, measurement approaches, and data analytics to make better security and IT decisions, as well as understand the forces that shape the security decisions of other actors in the ecosystem of information goods and services.

Four short links: 20 October 2016

Kid Privacy, Chinese Creation, Reality Rocks, and Chaos Monkey 2

  1. Digital Defenders -- free, CC-licensed kids' booklet about privacy. (via Cory Doctorow)
  2. News: Ideas Aren't Intrinsically Valuable -- executed ideas can be valuable, and Chinese hardware makers can execute faster than American ones. This shows up as Kickstarter products show up for sale in Shenzhen before the Kickstarter closes. (via BoingBoing)
  3. The World is Getting Better and Nobody Knows It -- In Britain, only 10% of people thought that world poverty had decreased in the past 30 years. More than half thought it had increased. In the United States, only 5% answered (correctly) that world poverty had been almost halved in the last 20 years: 66% thought it had almost doubled.
  4. Chaos Monkey 2.0 -- it's a sign of the times that a complex and useful piece of software in today's world is one which randomly turns off services.

Four short links: 19 October 2016

WAN-Replicated Data, NoSQL Modeling, Sharing Roadmaps, and Shopping Statistics

  1. BedrockDB -- a simple, modular, WAN-replicated data foundation for global-scale applications.
  2. NoSQL Data Modeling Techniques -- for your first steps in 2009's Brave New (Data) World.
  3. Roadmaps -- the different views of the product road map, for different audiences, is good advice.
  4. 17 Staggering Statistics About Our Shopping Habits -- 5. 50% of online shoppers will increase the size of their orders just to hit the free shipping minimum. 6. An estimated two-thirds of the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) comes from retail consumption.

Four short links: 18 October 2016

Awesome Falsehoods, Neural Network Vision, Toy and Family Robots, and Over-Engineered Software

  1. Awesome Falsehoods -- great collections of lies that we programmers tell ourselves about such things as what email addresses are, what networks do, and (my favourite) time zones.
  2. How Do Neural Networks See The World (YouTube) -- short and interesting video explainer.
  3. Anki Cozmo -- toy robot, compare to NXROBO's BIG-i the first personalized family robot. BIG-i is a natural-interaction robot with mobility, 3D vision, voice programming, and active perception. It can manage smart appliances to suit your needs.
  4. Ten Modern Software Over-Engineering Mistakes -- 3. Everything is Generic is my current jam^w nightmare as I write some software to support research. "Should it X or Y?" "Yes, we don't know yet, so both" is always the answer!

Four short links: 17 October 2017

Male Allies, Learning Maps, Machine Learning Biology, and "The Attention Merchants"

  1. Male Allies -- sweet bingo card. (via Anna Christison)
  2. So You Want to Learn Physics -- really sweet learning map. At O'Reilly, we've been thinking hard about learning paths for our tech subjects.
  3. Untargeted Metabolomics using Deep Learning -- This untargeted (unbiased) analysis of every change in the cell gives us our debugging tool for biology, and deep learning has been the key to getting here reliably.
  4. The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads (Amazon) -- Tim Wu's new book on the online advertising industry. (via Cory Doctorow)

Four short links: 14 October 2016

Amazing China, Deep Learning Memory, VR Spaces, and Javascript Song

  1. What $50 Buys You At the Huaqianbei Markets in Shenzhen -- my mind was blown at the smartwatch. $6 for: a GSM chipset, a CPU, an LCD screen, a battery, a PCB, a metal housing, a molded silicone watch band, a MicroUSB cable, and a box. And the labor to assemble and test all of that.
  2. Differentiable Neural Computers -- DeepMind's latest work putting memory into deep learning that lets computers learn to form and navigate complex data structures on their own.
  3. ModalVR -- Nolan Bushnell's new startup, which hopes to do for VR what Chuck E Cheese did for childrens' birthday parties (I for one have only been waiting to adopt VR until it can come with shrieking children and phallically-tailed animatronic rats).
  4. MeSing.js -- speech synthesis plus pitch shifting = ... well, the demo sounds like a poignant Cyberman lounge-singer. Tip your waitress, try the HUMANOIDS, thank you I'll be here until the end of time.

Four short links: 13 October 2016

Cake Cutting, Tea Making, Google Interviewing, Automation Puzzling

  1. Fair Cake-Cutting -- But in April, two computer scientists defied expectations by posting a paper online describing an envy-free cake-cutting algorithm whose running time depends only on the number of players, not on their individual preferences. [...] The algorithm is extraordinarily complex: dividing a cake among n players can require as many as n^n^n^n^n^n steps and a roughly equivalent number of cuts. Even for just a handful of players, this number is greater than the number of atoms in the universe. You can't have your cake and compute about it.
  2. English Man Spends 11 Hours Trying to Make Cup of Tea with Wi-Fi Kettle -- Three hours later and still no tea. Mandatory recalibration caused Wi-Fi base-station reset, now port-scanning network to find where kettle is now. I can never remember whether to portscan before or after adding milk. (via BoingBoing)
  3. Google Interview University -- A complete daily plan for studying to become a Google software engineer. (not from Google) A reminder to be careful what you ask for, lest people study for years to give it to you. I look forward to achieving a solid B+ in FizzBuzz 201.
  4. The Paradox of Automation (Guardian) -- The better the automatic systems, the more out-of-practice human operators will be, and the more extreme the situations they will have to face.

Four short links: 12 October 2016

Twitter Financially, VR Skeptically, Electronica Originally, and Stack Overflow Competitively

  1. Twitter Buyout Financial Analysis -- Somewhere near half a billion dollars of costs need to be taken out almost immediately. And that involves firing people and being a general tough bastard. It's inevitable anyway—because Jack Dorsey burning half a billion dollars per year isn't a sustainable business. (via Marginal Revolution)
  2. Carmack's Keynote at Oculus 3 -- "We [the VR community] are coasting on novelty, and the initial wonder of being something people have never seen before," he continued. "But we need to start judging ourselves. Not on a curve, but in an absolute sense. Can you do something in VR that has the same value, or more value, than what these other [non-VR] things have done?" (via Games Industry Business)
  3. Two Documentaries on Delia Derbyshire -- groundbreaking tech woman, musician, and badass. She invented electronic music, making things that sound devastatingly like 90s electronica, and then left the genre in the 70s (THE SEVENTIES) because synthesizers made it too easy to make electronic music. She loved the challenge of it.
  4. Stack Overflow Branches into Resumes -- just the other day I was asking who is LinkedIn's competition?

Four short links: 11 October 2016

Innovation Economics, Decentralized Prediction Markets, Front-End Build Tools, and CS Debates

  1. Innovation Through the Holmstrom Lens -- [Nobel Prize-winner] Holmstrom’s work has provided me with a great deal of understanding of why innovation management looks the way it does. (via Marginal Revolution)
  2. Augur -- decentralized prediction markets.
  3. Making Sense of Front-End Build Tools -- Build tools do two things: Install things; do things. The first question to ask yourself when confronting a new build tool is: “Is this tool intended to install things for me, or do things for me?”
  4. Vigorous Public Debates in Computer Science -- The purpose of this post is to list a collection of public debates in academic computer science where there is genuine and heartfelt disagreement among intelligent and accomplished researchers.

Four short links: 10 October 2016

Equal-Opportunity Machine Learning, Automatic Photo Criticism, Self-Driving RC Cars, and Computers at Human Speed

  1. Equality of Opportunity in Supervised Learning (PDF) -- paper from Google working through the ways in which you might calculate the fairness or unfairness of a particular algorithm's decision-making. Check out the sweet interactive visualization of the concepts in the paper.
  2. Keegan -- an artificial intelligence created by Regaind, a startup specialized in automatic image analysis. After being trained by professional photographers, Keegan is now able to describe the strengths and weaknesses in your image in order to help you identify specific areas in which you can improve.
  3. Carolo Cup -- German competition for self-driving RC cars that's been going for 10 years. Videos of the 2016 competition and the obstacle run give you a sense of it. (via Hacker News thread on the subject)
  4. Latency Numbers Every Programmer Should Know -- the classic "powers of 10" for programmers, the scales at which various operations happen. Now translated into human timescales by talking about how long a billion of them take. E.g., it would take 11.6 days to read a billion megabytes from an SSD. (Don't do that)

Four short links: 7 October 2016

Five Eyes, Product Aikido, Disrupt Distrust, and Cultural Advice

  1. I Spy Documentary -- a documentary on the 5 Eyes surveillance alliance. cf The CIA talking of leverage [...]the instrumentation of the globe.
  2. Product Aikido -- product management through a different lens than the usual "CEO of the product" rah-rah. Product development is an extreme trial of moral and intellectual strength and stamina. Any view of the nature of product development would hardly be accurate or complete without consideration of the effects of fear, obligation, guilt, and shame, as well as numerous cognitive biases, on those who do the work. However, these effects vary greatly from case to case. Individuals and people react differently to the stress of product development work; a situation that may demoralize one person or team may only serve to stiffen the resolve of another. Human will, instilled through fellowship and mutual support, is the driving force of all action in product development.
  3. The Gulf Between The Governed and The Governing (Vice) -- this would be an interesting problem to disrupt: what will build trust between the bureaucratic elite and the consuming public?
  4. Ask a Female Engineer -- Try to make sure from the beginning that you are hiring women. Try not to get to a place where you have hired 10 engineers and they are all men. It’s harder to retroactively adjust your company’s culture so that it’s female-friendly. This x100.

Four short links: 6 October 2016

Maps, Manufacturing, Bias, and Vulnerabilities

  1. Introducing Cartographer -- Google open sources a SLAM library. SLAM algorithms combine data from various sensors (e.g. LIDAR, IMU and cameras) to simultaneously compute the position of the sensor and a map of the robot's surroundings. Comes with prebuilt ROS integation.
  2. Why Are Politicians So Obsessed with Manufacturing? (NY Times) -- From an economic perspective, however, there can be no revival of American manufacturing, because there has been no collapse. Because of automation, there are far fewer jobs in factories. But the value of stuff made in America reached a record high in the first quarter of 2016, even after adjusting for inflation. The present moment, in other words, is the most productive in the nation’s history.
  3. Bias in Computer Systems (PDF) -- 1996 paper that's very applicable today, featuring a great list of biases. (via @thricedotted)
  4. Dramatically Reducing Software Vulnerabilities (PDF) -- Report to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Four short links: 5 October 2016

RedShift Queries, Interactive Python, Memory Enhancement, and Taiwanese Digital Democracy

  1. Aleph -- query-driven front end for RedShift, which lets you share queries via github to accrete institutional knowledge about how to make sense of the data (to solve the problem that if you have three people independently querying the database, you will have five definitions of "customer," "sale," and "hit").
  2. Think Like a Computer Scientist (Interactive Edition) -- the code's there in iPython for you to run. Nice!
  3. Memory Enhancement -- Memory can be differentiated into at least four major (and several minor) systems with largely dissociable (i.e., non-overlapping) neural substrates. We outline each system, and discuss both the practical and the ethical implications of these diverse neural substrates. In practice, distinct neural bases imply the possibility, and likely the necessity, of specific approaches for the safe and effective enhancement of various memory systems.
  4. Stories from the Future of Democracy -- Audrey Tang discusses Taiwan's digital democracy efforts.

Four short links: 4 October 2016

Storytelling, Futurist Course, Women in Leadership, and R Data Cleaning

  1. FoST Fest -- Future of storytelling expo, showing off the latest advances in attempts to use VR to push the boundaries of effective storytelling.
  2. How to Think Like a Futurist Syllabus -- Jane McGonigal's Stanford course looks amazing.
  3. The Leadership Machine -- all the research about women's career advancement summed up in one usable diagram. Wow.
  4. Introduction to Data Cleaning with R (PDF) -- wish I'd read this before wasting days of my life.

Four short links: 3 October 2016

Deep-Fried Data, Myth History, Shadow Regulation, and Inside an AI Startup

  1. Deep-Fried Data (Maciej Ceglowski) -- I find it helpful to think of algorithms as a dim-witted but extremely industrious graduate student, whom you don't fully trust. You want a concordance made? An index? You want them to go through 10 million photos and find every picture of a horse? Perfect. You want them to draw conclusions on gender based on word use patterns? Or infer social relationships from census data? Now you need some adult supervision in the room.
  2. Phylogenetic Myths -- By and large, structures of mythical stories, which sometimes remain unchanged for thousands of years, closely parallel the history of large-scale human migratory movements. Ironically, phylogenetic analysis reveals that one of the most enchanting mythical stories of sudden transformation—the Pygmalion story—is a prime example of this stable pattern of evolution.
  3. Shadow Regulation -- EFF article on the codes, standard, principles, and guidelines that Internet companies have agreed to, but which aren't laws passed by legislative bodies: invisible and unaccountable arrangements. (via Cory Doctorow)
  4. Bonsai's Founding -- This system wouldn’t require highly specialized computer scientists to train neural nets, but would allow programmers to teach systems how to produce the desired effect.

Four short links: 30 September 2016

Data from Word, Bot Personalities, Secure Hardware, and Launch Checklist

  1. Use R to Get Data Out of Word Docs -- finding the relevant bits of XML in the zip file that is a .docx file.
  2. Lili Cheng on Bot Personalities -- bonus points for not mentioning the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.
  3. ORWL -- crowdfunded first open source, physically secure computer. ORWL was designed specifically to prevent undetected tampering with any of its electrical components, including the entire motherboard and storage drive. When tampering is detected, ORWL immediately and irrevocably erases all your data, even if it is unplugged at the time. So be sure to carry a USB stick with a backup on it. *cough*
  4. Product Launch Checklist -- very useful, from an excellentl PM.

Four short links: 29 September 2016

AI and Anthropology, 3D Screen, Move to New Zealand, and Kano 2

  1. Anthropologist on AI -- not just any anthropologist, this is Genevieve Bell (Intel's anthropologist). I loved this talk.
  2. Volume -- a volumetric display, preorder for $1K.
  3. Edmund Hillary Fellowship -- in 2017, NZ will offer three-year open work visas to visionary entrepreneurs, investors, and startup teams to live and work in New Zealand, and to create scalable, positive global impact. Just in time for those who wish to flee President Trump.
  4. Kano 2 -- the Kano is an awesome tinkerable computer, and their second edition looks even better: hardware for camera, screen, and sound, with software that lets kids engage with it.