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Four short links: 28 April 2014

By Nat Torkington
April 28, 2014

UK Government to Sell Its Students’ Data (Wired UK) — The National Pupil Database (NPD) contains detailed information about pupils in schools and colleges in England, including test and exam results, progression at each key stage, gender, ethnicity, pupil absence …

Four short links: 15 April 2014

By Nat Torkington
April 15, 2014

Funders Punish Open Access Dodgers (Nature) — US’s NIH and UK’s Wellcome Trust are withholding funding from academics who haven’t released their data despite it being a condition of past funding. It’s open access’s grab twist and pull move. Digitize …

Four short links: 2 January 2014

By Nat Torkington
January 2, 2014

slic3r — converts a digital 3D model into printing instructions for your 3D printer. It cuts the model into horizontal slices (layers), generates toolpaths to fill them and calculates the amount of material to be extruded. gCodeViewer — GCode is …

Four short links: 24 December 2013

By Nat Torkington
December 24, 2013

Arduino Robot — for all your hacking needs. LIDAR for Smartphones (DIYdrones) — The device attaches to the back of a smartphone and combines a built-in laser range finder, 3D compass and Bluetooth chip with the phone’s camera and GPS. …

Four short links: 2 December 2013

By Nat Torkington
December 2, 2013

CalTech Machine Learning Video Library — a pile of video introductions to different machine learning concepts. Awesome Pokemon Hack — each inventory item has a number associated with it, they are kept at a particular memory location, and there’s a …

Four short links: 22 November 2013

By Nat Torkington
November 21, 2013

Google Educator MOOCs — online courses for teachers who use Google in their classrooms. Algorithms and Accountability — Thus, the appearance of an autocompletion suggestion during the search process might make people decide to search for this suggestion although they …

Four short links: 11 November 2013

By Nat Torkington
November 11, 2013

Living Light — 3D printed cephalopods filled with bioluminescent bacteria. PAGING CORY DOCTOROW, YOUR ORGASMATRON HAS ARRIVED. (via Sci Blogs) Repacking Lego Batteries with a CNC Mill — check out the video. Patrick programmed a CNC machine to drill out …

Four short links: 28 October 2013

By Nat Torkington
October 28, 2013

A Cyber Attack Against Israel Shut Down a Road — The hackers targeted the Tunnels’ camera system which put the roadway into an immediate lockdown mode, shutting it down for twenty minutes. The next day the attackers managed to break …

Four short links: 20 September 2013

By Nat Torkington
September 19, 2013

Researchers Can Slip an Undetectable Trojan into Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPUs (Ars Technica) — The exploit works by severely reducing the amount of entropy the RNG normally uses, from 128 bits to 32 bits. The hack is similar to stacking …

Four short links: 10 September 2013

By Nat Torkington
September 8, 2013

Sparkey — Spotify’s open-sourced simple constant key/value storage library, for read-heavy systems with infrequent large bulk inserts. The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling (Ted Chiang) — story about what happens when lifelogs become searchable. Now with Remem, finding …

Four short links: 13 August 2013

By Nat Torkington
August 12, 2013

How Things Work: Summer Games Edition — admire the real craftsmanship in those early games. This has a great description of using raster interrupts to extend the number of sprites, and how and why double-buffering was expensive in terms of …

Four short links: 30 July 2013

By Nat Torkington
July 29, 2013

Why YouTube Buffers (ArsTechnica) — When asked if ISPs are degrading Netflix and YouTube traffic to steer users toward their own video services, Crawford told Ars that “the very powerful eyeball networks in the US (and particularly Comcast and Time …

Four short links: 11 April 2013

By Nat Torkington
April 11, 2013

A General Technique for Automating NES Games — software that learns how to play NES games and plays them automatically, using an aesthetically pleasing technique. With video, research paper, and code. rietveld — open source tool like Mondrian, Google’s code …

Four short links: 10 April 2013

By Nat Torkington
April 10, 2013

HyperLapse — this won the Internet for April. Everyone else can go home. Check out this unbelievable video and source is available. Housing Simulator — NZ’s largest city is consulting on its growth plan, and includes a simulator so you …

Six lifestyle hacks for this year

By Alistair Croll
April 4, 2013

The last three years haven’t been very healthy. In addition to raising a new daughter, I’ve been launching Strata and Startupfest and working with Ben Yoskovitz on†Lean Analytics. It’s been rewarding, and fun, but it hasn’t been good for my …

Four short links: 13 March 2013

By Nat Torkington
March 13, 2013

What Tim Berners-Lee Doesn’t Know About HTML DRM (Guardian) — Cory Doctorow lays it out straight. HTML DRM is a bad idea, no two ways. The future of the Web is the future of the world, because everything we do …

Four short links: 24 January 2013

By Nat Torkington
January 24, 2013

Google’s Driverless Car is Worth Trillions (Forbes) — Much of the reporting about Google’s driverless car has mistakenly focused on its science-fiction feel. [...] In fact, the driverless car has broad implications for society, for the economy and for individual …

Four short links: 31 October 2012

By Nat Torkington
October 31, 2012

Turing Complete User — General Purpose Users can write an article in their e-mail client, layout their business card in Excel and shave in front of a web cam. They can also find a way to publish photos online without …

Four short links: 30 July 2012

By Nat Torkington
July 30, 2012

pathod — A pathological HTTP daemon for testing and torturing client software. (via Hacker News) A Walk Through Twitter’s Walled Garden (The Realtime Report) — nice breakdown of Twitter’s business model choice and consequences. Twitter wants you to be able …

Four short links: 28 February 2012

By Nat Torkington
February 28, 2012

Designing RESTful Interfaces (Slideshare) -- extremely good presentation on how to build HTTP APIs. Manipulating History for Fun and Profit -- if you want to make websites that are AJAX-responsive but without breaking the back button or preventing links, read this. Why Textbooks Are So Broken (Salon) -- Let's say a publisher hires a developer for a certain low-bid...

Four short links: 24 January 2012

By Nat Torkington
January 24, 2012

fbootstrap (GitHub) -- HTML, CSS, and JS toolkit for Facebook apps based on Twitter's popular Bootstrap library. Focus on the User -- adds a bookmarklet "Don't Be Evil" which shows your Google search as it would have been before Google+ began artificially inserting itself into Google search results. Written by Facebook engineer and Firefox co-creator Blake Ross, this is...

The Transportation Security Administration's QR code flub

The Transportation Security Administration's QR code flub
By Fred Trotter
January 3, 2012

Fred Trotter discovers that a QR code embedded in a TSA poster at the Orlando airport links to, which is about as far as you can get from a government website.

Four short links: 25 November 2011

By Nat Torkington
November 25, 2011

Continuous Three-Dimensional Control of a Virtual Helicopter Using a Motor Imagery Based Brain-Computer Interface (PLOSone) -- direct brain control is becoming a reality, tiny step by tiny step. Also: HELICOPTERS! Forward Secrecy for HTTPS -- Google contributed a better HTTPS cipher suite to OpenSSL, one that doesn't share keys between conversations. Yay the Goog for giving back. Ratings Systems...

Four short links: 4 November 2011

By Nat Torkington
November 4, 2011

Beethoven's Open Repository of Research (RocketHub) -- open repository funded in a Kickstarter-type way. First crowdfunding project I've given $$$ to. KeepOff (GitHub) -- open source project built around hacking KeepOn Interactive Dancing Robots. (via Chris Spurgeon) Steve Jobs One-on-One (ComputerWorld) -- interesting glimpse of the man himself in an oral history project recording made during the NeXT years....

Four short links: 25 October 2011

By Nat Torkington
October 25, 2011

Nest Learning Thermostat -- learns how long it takes your house to adjust temperature, so can tell you not just "it's 55 now" but "it'll be 65 in 16 minutes". Looks gorgeous as well as being a good example of embedded intelligence. Data really does make everything better. lamernews (Github) -- an implementation of a Reddit / Hacker News...

Four short links: 14 October 2011

By Nat Torkington
October 14, 2011

Theory of Relativity in Words of Four Letters or Less -- this does just what it says, and well too. I like it, as you may too. At the end, you may even know more than you do now. Effective Set Reconciliation Without Prior Context (PDF) -- paper on using Bloom filters to do set union (deduplication) efficiently. Useful...

Four short links: 5 October 2011

By Nat Torkington
October 5, 2011

Ghostery -- a browser plugin to block trackers, web bugs, dodgy scripts, ads, and anything else you care to remove from your browsing experience. It looks like a very well done adblocker, but it's done (a) closed-source and (b) for-profit. Blocking trackers is something every browser *should* do, but because browser makers make (or hope to make) money from...

Four short links: 14 September 2011

By Nat Torkington
September 14, 2011

StackParts -- catalogue of different parts of the open source web stack, from Joshua Schachter. He's looking for helpers. DIY Microsocopes -- Keeling’s lowfi contraption, featured in MAKE magazine and virally spreading across science classrooms the country over, is bringing microscopes not just to eye level, but street level. Blowtorch and pipette glass makes for a Leeuwenhoek microscope. The...

Four short links: 30 August 2011

By Nat Torkington
August 30, 2011

Data Monday: From PC to Tablet (Luke Wroblewski) -- some great stats here. Sales of Apple's iPad pulled in 30% more than all of Dell's consumer PC business in just the first half of the year. Munki -- munki is a set of tools that, used together with a webserver-based repository of packages and package metadata, can be used...

Four short links: 17 August 2011

By Nat Torkington
August 17, 2011

Tablib -- MIT-licensed open source library for manipulating tabular data. Reputed to have a great API. (via Tim McNamara) Stanford Education Everywhere -- courses in CS, machine learning, math, and engineering that are open for all to take. Over 58,000 have already signed up for the introduction to machine learning taught by Peter Norvig, Google's Director of Research. Wearable...

Four short links: 29 July 2011

By Nat Torkington
July 29, 2011

SQL Injection Pocket Reference (Google Docs) -- just what it sounds like. (via ModSecurity SQL Injection Challenge: Lessons Learned) isostick: The Optical Drive in a Stick (KickStarter) -- clever! A USB memory stick with drivers that emulate optical drives so you can boot off .iso files you've put on the memory stick. (via Extreme Tech) CrowdDB: Answering Queries with...

Four short links: 20 June 2011

By Nat Torkington
June 20, 2011

HD Video Recording Glasses (Kickstarter) -- as Bryce says, "wearable computing is on the rise. As the price for enabling components drops, always on connectivity in our pockets and purses increases, and access to low cost manufacturing resources and know-how rises we’ll see innovation continue to push into these most personal forms of computing." (via Bryce Roberts) Sketching in...

Four short links: 16 June 2011

By Nat Torkington
June 16, 2011

Solar Powered Wireless Sensor Network -- Chris is building wireless sensor networks using open source software and hardware that could be used in a variety of applications like air quality or home energy monitoring. It looks like he was inspired by Tweetawatt and is using xBee and ASUS wifi for communication in conjunction with Pachube for data display. (via...

Four short links: 14 June 2011

By Nat Torkington
June 14, 2011

ASCII Flow -- create ASCII diagrams. Awesome. (via Hacker News) Principles of Uncertainty -- probability and statistics textbook, for maths students to build up to understanding Bayesian reasoning. Playable Archaeology: An Interview with the Telehacks Anonymous Creator (Andy Baio) -- The inspiration was my son. I had shown him the old movies Hackers, Wargames, and Colossus: The Forbin Project...

Four short links: 13 June 2011

By Nat Torkington
June 13, 2011

AIRPrint -- prototype box scans a fingerprint from six feet away. (via Greg Linden) Squishy Circuits -- teaching electronic circuits with conductive and insulating playdough. (via Hacker News) GraphLab -- alternative take on Map-Reduce, called Update-Sync, where tasks run on connected sets of nodes rather than on one node at a time. Tower Bridge Closed -- the @towerbridge account...

Four short links: 19 April 2011

By Nat Torkington
April 19, 2011

Lines (Mark Jason Dominus) -- If you wanted to hear more about phylogeny, Java programming, or tree algorithms, you are about to be disappointed. The subject of my article today is those fat black lines. Anatomy of a clever piece of everyday programming. There is no part of this program of which I am proud. Rather, I am proud...

Four short links: 12 April 2011

By Nat Torkington
April 12, 2011

The Email Game -- game mechanics to get you answering email more efficiently. Can't wait to hear that conversation with corporate IT. "You want us to install what on the Exchange server?" (via Demo Day Wrapup) Stratified B-trees and versioning dictionaries -- A classic versioned data structure in storage and computer science is the copy-on-write (CoW) B-tree -- it...

Four Short Links: 16 March 2011

By Nat Torkington
March 16, 2011

JS Fiddle -- an online editor for snippets build from HTML, CSS and JavaScript. The code can then be shared with others, embedded on a blog, etc. (via Darren Wood) SideStep -- Mac OS X program that automatically routes connections through a secure proxy when you're on an unsecured wifi network. (via Gina Trapani) Junkyard Jumbotron (MIT) -- lets...

Four short links: 2 March 2011

By Nat Torkington
March 2, 2011

Unicode in Python, Completely Demystified -- a good introduction to Unicode in Python, which helped me with some code. (via Hacker News) A Ban on Brain-Boosting Drugs (Chronicle of Higher Education) -- Simply calling the use of study drugs "unfair" tells us nothing about why colleges should ban them. If such drugs really do improve academic performance among healthy...

Four short links: 22 February 2011

By Nat Torkington
February 22, 2011

Cluster (github) -- Node.JS multi-core server manager with plugins support. Hot restarts, and other goodness. (via The Change Log via Javascript Weekly) 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 blasť presentiment of everyday life...

Four short links: 14 February 2011

By Nat Torkington
February 14, 2011

Stephen Elop is a Flight Risk (Silicon Beat) -- a foresight-filled 2008 article that doesn't make Nokia's new CEO look good. A reminder to boards and CEOs that option vesting schedules matter. (via Hacker News) CHDK -- Canon Hack Development Kit gives point-and-shoot Canon digital camera new features like RAW images, motion detection, a USB remote, full control over...

Four short links: 3 January 2010

By Nat Torkington
January 3, 2011

RSS is Dying and You Should Be Worried -- If RSS dies, we lose the ability to read in private. What Could Have Been Entering The Public Domain on January 1, 2011? -- a list of the works that won't be entering the public domain in the US because the copyright term was extended in 1976. Think of the...

Four short links: 8 December 2010

By Nat Torkington
December 8, 2010

Send Us Your Thoughts (YouTube) -- from the excellent British comedians Mitchell and Webb comes this take on viewer comments in the news. (via Steve Buttry's News Foo writeup) Amazon proves that REST doesn’t matter for Cloud APIs -- with the death of WS-* and their prolix overbearing complexity, the difference between REST and basic XML RPC is almost...

Four short links: 1 December 2010

By Nat Torkington
December 1, 2010

2 Kinects 1 Box (YouTube) -- merging data from two Kinects in real time, to get astonishing 3D information. (via Chelfyn Baxter) Crowdsource is not Open Source (Simon Phipps) -- there are some businesses that don't understand this, and exploit community for their sole benefit in the name of open source. Ignorance of the four freedoms is dangerous. We...

Four short links: 15 November 2010

By Nat Torkington
November 15, 2010

Between the Bars -- snail-mail-to-blogs transcription service for prisoners, to make visible stories that would otherwise be missed. there is a religous program here called Kairo's in the program inmates are given letters and drawings made by small children not one in that program did not cry, after reading the words of incouragement from those kids. An unmissable reminder...

Four short links: 4 October 2010

By Nat Torkington
October 4, 2010

Two Brothers Await Broad Use of Medical E-Records (New York Times) -- The Doerrs’ software company is only one of many hoping to cash in on the national mandate for digital medical records. The companies range from giants like General Electric to specialists like Athenahealth that cater to small physician practices. They, like the Doerrs, are betting that the...

Four short links: 1 October 2010

By Nat Torkington
October 1, 2010

Interview with Martin Wichary (Ajaxian) -- interview with the creator of Google's Pacman logo, the original HTML5 slide deck. One of the first popular home video game consoles was 1977's Atari VCS 2600. It was an incredibly simple piece of hardware. It didn't even have video memory - you literally had to construct pixels just moments before they were...

Four short links: 23 August 2010

By Nat Torkington
August 23, 2010

Open Buildings -- crowdsourced database of information about buildings, for architecture geeks. A sign that crowdsourcing is digging deep into niches far far from the world of open source software. (via straup on Delicious) Lego-Based Time Tracking -- clever hack to build physical graphs of where your time goes. (via avgjanecrafter on Twitter) Smoothie Charts -- a charting Javascript...

Four short links: 2 August 2010

By Nat Torkington
August 2, 2010

Hidden Features of Google (StackExchange) -- rather than Google's list of search features, here are the features that real (sophisticated) users find useful. My new favourite: the ~ operator for approximate searching. (via Hacker News) Natural Language Parsing for the Web -- JSON API to the Stanford Natural Language Parser. I wonder why the API to the library isn't...

Four short links: 19 July 2010

By Nat Torkington
July 19, 2010

OpenVibe -- open source software for brain-computer interfaces, from Inria. Robot Controlled by Mind (video) -- uses OpenVibe. I love that this can see blinks and other neural activity, and that it's hackable. Talend Open Profiler -- open source tool to QA data. AndEngine -- open source 2D OpenGL Game Engine for the Android platform....

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