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Four short links: 7 April 2014

By Nat Torkington
April 7, 2014

Can We Design Systems to Automate Ethics — code in self-driving cars will implement a solution to the trolley problem. But which solution? My First Post on Medium (Andy Baio) — one or two glitches but otherwise fine demonstration of …

Four short links: 23 August 2013

By Nat Torkington
August 23, 2013

Bradley Manning and the Two Americas (Quinn Norton) — The first America built the Internet, but the second America moved onto it. And they both think they own the place now. The best explanation you’ll find for wtf is going …

Four short links: 31 July 2013

By Nat Torkington
July 31, 2013

How to Easily Resize and Cache Images for the Mobile Web (Pete Warden) — I set up a server running the excellent ImageProxy open-source project, and then I placed a Cloudfront CDN in front of it to cache the results. …

Four short links: 20 May 2013

By Nat Torkington
May 20, 2013

Our Fair Deal — international coalition (EFF, InternetNZ, Demand Progress, Creative Freedom Foundation, many others) raising awareness and petitioning lawmakers to reject copyright proposals that restrict the open Internet, access to knowledge, economic opportunity and our fundamental rights. (via Susan …

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 …

Four short links: 5 April 2013

By Nat Torkington
April 5, 2013

Millimetre-Accuracy 3D Imaging From 1km Away (The Register) — With further development, Heriot-Watt University Research Fellow Aongus McCarthy says, the system could end up both portable and with a range of up to 10 Km. See the paper for the …

Go to Washington, build the industrial Internet

By Jon Bruner
February 5, 2013

The White House has issued its call for the second round of Presidential Innovation Fellows, and it includes an invitation to spend a 6- to 12-month “tour of duty” in Washington, building the industrial Internet — or, more precisely, helping the …

Four short links: 15 January 2013

By Nat Torkington
January 15, 2013

Electronic Gadgets in the NZ Consumer Price Index — your CPI is just as bizarre, trust me. (via Julie Starr) Captive Audience: Telecom Industry and Monopoly in the New Gilded Age (Amazon) — Foo camper and former Washington insider, now …

An innovation agenda to help people win the race against the machines

By Alex Howard
November 14, 2012

If the country is going to have a serious conversation about innovation, unemployment and job creation, we must talk about our race against the machines. For centuries, we’ve been automating people out of jobs. Today’s combination of big data, automation …

Four short links: 21 June 2012

By Nat Torkington
June 21, 2012

Test, Learn, Adapt (PDF) -- UK Cabinet Office paper on randomised trials for public policy. Ben Goldacre cowrote. UK EscapeTheCity Raises GBP600k in Crowd Equity -- took just eight days, using the Crowdcube platform for equity-based crowd investment. DIY Bio SOPs -- CC-licensed set of standard operating procedures for a bio lab. These are the SOPs that I provided...

Creating Maker-friendly cities

Creating Maker-friendly cities
By Dale Dougherty
February 27, 2012

Governments, particularly local governments, need to do more to understand and adapt to what might be called DIY citizenship.

Four short links: 23 January 2012

By Nat Torkington
January 23, 2012

Adafruit Flora -- wearable electronics and accessories platform. (via Tim O'Reilly) Killed by Code -- paper on software vulnerabilities in implantable medical devices. Discovered via Karen Sandler's wow-generating keynote at (covered here). (via Selena Deckelmann) DIY London -- fun little Budget-Hero game to make apparent the trade-offs facing politicians. Kids should play Sim* and Civilization games: you get...

Four short links: 11 January 2011

By Nat Torkington
January 11, 2012

Virtual Sweatshops Defeat CAPTCHAs -- I knew there was an industry around solving CAPTCHAs (to spam comments on blogs, sign up for millions of gmail accounts, etc.) but this is the first time I've seen how much you can be paid for it: employees can expect to earn between $0.35 to $1 for every thousand CAPTCHAs they solve [...]...

Four short links: 29 June 2011

By Nat Torkington
June 29, 2011

Billion Prices Project -- rather than wait for official inflation figures, the BPP from MIT scans online retailer prices from around the planet. (via The Economist) Readings in Education -- Dan Meyer has linked to some of the best papers he's been reading at grad school. If you have opinions about education, or are thinking of doing something to...

Four short links: 18 February 2011

By Nat Torkington
February 18, 2011

DSPL: DataSet Publishing Language (Google Code) -- a representation language for the data and metadata of datasets. Datasets described in this format can be processed by Google and visualized in the Google Public Data Explorer. XML metadata on CSV, geo-enabled, with linkable data. (via Michal Migurski on Delicious) Why is Evidence So Hard for Politicians -- Ben Goldacre nails...

Four short links: 17 August 2010

By Nat Torkington
August 17, 2010

Demo of Stemming Algorithms -- type in text and see what it looks like when stemmed with different algorithms provided by NLTK. (via zelandiya on Twitter) Crowdmap -- hosted Ushahidi. (via dvansickle on Twitter) Opinions vs Data -- talks about the usability of a new gmail UI element, but notable for this quote from Jakob Nielsen: In my two...

Four short links: 13 August 2010

By Nat Torkington
August 13, 2010

The Myth of Scientific Literacy -- I'd love it if there was a simple course we could send our elected officials on which would guarantee future science policy would be reliably high quality. Being educated in science (or even "about science") isn't going to do it. It's social connections that will. We need to keep our elected officials honest,...

Four short links: 12 August 2010

By Nat Torkington
August 12, 2010

A Review of Verizon and Google's Net Neutrality Proposal (EFF) -- a mixture of good and bad, is the verdict. I am ready to give Google credit for getting Network Neutrality back on the regulatory agenda, whether or not this proposal was a strawman. Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information (Sunlight Foundation) -- We have updated and expanded...

Four short links: 21 July 2010

By Nat Torkington
July 21, 2010

The Men Who Stare at Screens (NY Times) -- What was unexpected was that many of the men who sat long hours and developed heart problems also exercised. Quite a few of them said they did so regularly and led active lifestyles. The men worked out, then sat in cars and in front of televisions for hours, and their...

Four short links: 23 June 2010

By Nat Torkington
June 23, 2010

Ira Glass on Being Wrong (Slate) -- fascinating interview with Ira Glass on the fundamental act of learning: being wrong. I had this experience a couple of years ago where I got to sit in on the editorial meeting at the Onion. Every Monday they have to come up with like 17 or 18 headlines, and to do that,...

Four short links: 9 December 2009

By Nat Torkington
December 9, 2009

The Mythology of Bioinformatics -- worth reading this (reprinted from 2002!) separate of hype from history. Policy and Internet -- new journal, with articles such as The Case Against Mass E-mails: Perverse Incentives and Low Quality Public Participation in U.S. Federal Rulemaking: This paper situates a close examination of the 1000 longest modified e-mails sent to the Environmental...

Only Connect - Should Broadband Access Be a Right?

By Joshua-Michele Ross
October 17, 2009

This week gave us two reasons to reconsider the state of broadband connectivity in the US. First, Finland has announced that it will guarantee broadband access as a right for all its citizens: Starting next July, every person in Finland will have the right to a one-megabit broadband connection, says the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Finland is the world's...

Four Tips for Avoiding VM Sprawl in the Public Cloud

Four Tips for Avoiding VM Sprawl in the Public Cloud
By George Reese
October 3, 2009

You moved into the cloud to save some money. Now it's the first of the month and you're looking at your latest cloud provider bill. It's not at all what you planned. Welcome to the world of VM sprawl, the dark side of cloud computing.

Clean Energy and Security Act - First Step for U.S.

By Sarah Sorensen
June 30, 2009

"What does this Act mean?" Almost everything about the bill can be debated, from whether the cap and trade system it introduces will be effective to whether the carbon emissions targets are going to be impactful. But it's a start...

Legally Speaking: The Dead Souls of the Google Booksearch Settlement

By Pamela Samuelson
April 17, 2009

Guest blogger Pamela Samuelson is the Richard M. Sherman Distinguished Professor of Law and Information at the University of California, Berkeley, as well as a Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology and an advisor to the Samuelson High Technology Law & Public Policy Clinic at Boalt Hall. She has written and spoken extensively about the challenges...

Interview: Carl Malamud's Grassroots Campaign for Public Printer of the United States

Interview: Carl Malamud's Grassroots Campaign for Public Printer of the United States
By Timothy M. O'Brien
February 25, 2009

Carl Malamud, an advocate for goverment transparency, is starting a grassroots campaign to become the Public Printer of the United States, a position responsible for the Government Printing Office (GPO). As Public Printer of the United States, Malamud would be responsible for publishing information about the federal government. In this interview, Malamud discusses his seven point platform and his 20 years of experience fighting for government transparency.

Sprint blocking Cogent network traffic...

By Jesse Robbins
October 31, 2008

It appears that Sprint has stopped routing traffic (called "depeering") from Cogent as a result of some sort of legal dispute. Sprint customers cannot reach Cogent customers, and vice versa. The effect is similar to what would happen if Sprint were to block voice phonecalls to AT&T customers. Here's a graph that shows the outage, courtesy of Keynote : I...

Sunlight Foundation Interview: Toward an Accountable, Transparent, and Open Government

Sunlight Foundation Interview: Toward an Accountable, Transparent, and Open Government
By Timothy M. O'Brien
October 28, 2008

In this interview Sunlight discusses the importance of transparency in government, and how technologists can help filter and process the vast amount of data that the US federal government produces.

Kaminsky DNS Patch Visualization

By Jesse Robbins
August 7, 2008

Dan Kaminsky has posted the details of the widespread DNS vulnerability. Clarified Networks created this visualization of DNS patch deployment over the past month: Red = Unpatched Yellow = Patched, "but NAT is screwing things up" Green = OK...

Encouraging results from Peer-to-Patent

By Andy Oram
July 2, 2008

Peer-to-Patent is carrying off one of the most audacious experiments in Internet activism in our day. A report released by the non-profit project in PDF format reports the data from surveys and an analysis of patents handled during the first year of the project. The sample is small (23 patents) but bears some impressive fruit.

Service Monitoring Dashboards are mandatory for production services!

By Jesse Robbins
June 18, 2008

Google App Engine went down earlier today. GAE is still a developer preview release, and currently lacks a public monitoring dashboard. Unfortunately this means that many people either found out from their app and/or admin consoles being unavailable or from Mike Arrington's post on TechCrunch. Google has a strong Web Operations culture, and there are numerous internal monitoring tools in...

The wiretapping accusation against P2P and copyright filtering: evidence that we need more user/provider discussion

By Andy Oram
May 24, 2008

Celebrated law expert Paul Ohm suggests that cable companies and other ISPs might be breaking the federal wiretap law by doing deep packet inspection. But the same kinds of deep inspection that Ohm decries is also used for spam and virus filtering. On the other hand, I wonder whether web mail services such as Hotmail, Yahoo! and Google would be guilty of wiretapping if they check traffic. These dilemma suggest to me that the relationship between ISPs (or mail service providers) and customers has to change, and perhaps that the wiretap statute has to adapt.

Yochai Benkler, others at Harvard map current and future Internet

By Andy Oram
May 16, 2008

Harvard's world-renowned Berkman Center for Internet & Society is celebrating its tenth anniversary with a conference called Berkman@10. The center is a conglomeration of many people, both lawyers and non-lawyers, who study the Internet and add their efforts to empower its users. In my opinion, the most salient contribution of the Berkman Center is its devotion to new research instead of pure theory. I'll report here on today's sessions, which were organized as a fairly conventional symposium (although as loosely as one could run it with 450 attendees).

Book review: "The Future of the Internet (And How to Stop It)"

By Andy Oram
April 14, 2008

You can read Jonathan Zittrain's book for cogent discussions of key issues in copyright, filtering, licensing, censorship, and other pressing issues in computing and networking. But you're rewarded even more if you read this book to grasp fundamental questions of law and society "The Future of the Internet" offers valuable summaries of current debates, but Zittrain also tries always to hack away at the brambles that block the end of each path.

You Become what You Disrupt - (part two)

By Jesse Robbins
April 14, 2008

Google's GrandCentral (Radar coverage) was down over the weekend resulting in missed calls and other phone problems for its users. This is very similar to the the two day Skype outage last year where I said that "You Become what You Disrupt". I've spoken about this issue several times, most recently at the Princeton CITP "Computing in the Cloud" workshop....

Amazon improves EC2 (by embracing failure)

By Jesse Robbins
March 27, 2008

Amazon just announced two big improvements to EC2: Multiple LocationsAmazon EC2 now provides the ability to place instances in multiple locations. Amazon EC2 locations are composed of regions and Availability Zones. Regions are geographically dispersed and will be in separate geographic areas or countries. Currently, Amazon EC2 exposes only a single region. Availability Zones are distinct locations that are engineered...

The "New Privacy"

By Allison Randal
March 21, 2008

There was a great session on Online Privacy on NPR's Science Friday today, including a guest spot by Emily Vander Veer, the author of O'Reilly's Facebook: The Missing Manual. You can subscribe to the podcast or download today's episode directly....

Network neutrality: how the FCC sees it (Part 1 of 2)

By Andy Oram
February 26, 2008

The mere announcement of an FCC hearing on "broadband network management practices" was a notch in the gun of network neutrality advocates. Yet to a large extent, the panelists and speakers were like petitioners who are denied access to the king and can only bring their complaints to the gardeners who decorate the paths outside his gate. I wrote a major analysis two years ago that I really think still stands as an accurate representation of the issues. What we'll end up getting is a formal endorsement of non-discrimination as a policy that Internet providers must follow, leading to continual FCC review of current practices by telecom and cable companies.

US Judge censors by ordering DNS records removed

By Jesse Robbins
February 19, 2008

The BBC and many others report that the international whistle-blower website has been taken down as of this morning. Judge Jeffery White ordered that the domain be removed at the request of Julius Baer Bank & Trust. Not...

Amazon S3 / EC2 / AWS outage this morning...

By Jesse Robbins
February 16, 2008

Many of's Web Services were down this morning with some customers reporting outages lasting over three hours. Sites that depend on services that depend on EC2 or S3 are down as well. Failures like this happen in every system,...

Understanding the undersea cable cuts... (updated: "fifth cable cut")

By Jesse Robbins
February 6, 2008

The Fiber Cuts in the Middle East are getting a lot of attention. The economic damage is real and the geopolitical issues are extremely complex (which is why I edited my earlier post). From an operations perspective these kinds of...

Failure Happens: Transcontinental fiber-optic submarine cables

By Jesse Robbins
February 3, 2008

The Guardian published a summary of the ongoing impact from the transcontinental fiber-optic submarine cable cuts along with a map from According to reports, the internet blackout, which has left 75 million people with only limited access, was caused...

Privacy 2007: Hiding in the Crowd

By Andy Oram
December 28, 2007

Each year I pick out a pressing topic in Internet policy and write a year-end article summarizing trends in that area for an online newspaper called the American Reporter. It has just published my article "Privacy 2007: Hiding in the Crowd," which may interest Radar readers although it was aimed at more of a lay audience. I also gave the article a more permanent URL.

My favorite iPod accessory is my EFF Membership...

By Jesse Robbins
December 26, 2007

If you are searching for accessories for your new iPod or other music player, please consider membership in the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). The EFF helps people fight abusive file-sharing lawsuits and is working to provide ways for artists to...

'Computing in the Cloud' workshop hosted by Princeton University - January 14-15

By Jesse Robbins
December 22, 2007

Marc Hedlund and I will be speaking at the 'Computing in the Cloud' workshop hosted by the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton on January 14-15. The sessions look very interesting and registration is free. Panel 1: Possession and...

Reputation: where the personal and the participatory meet up (installment 4 of 4)

By Andy Oram
December 16, 2007

Most online work, like other peer-generated information, is done by volunteers without financial remuneration. In commons-oriented production, such as Linux and Wikipedia, everyone derives a shared benefit without money exchanging hands. Money becomes a factor in peer production when it gets integrated into a company's value chain, as with rankings or the kinds of user innovation networks researched by Eric von Hippel. Reputation and privacy used to be a top-down affair between the collector of information and the person being tracked. Rules get more complicated in an age of ratings and Facebook Beacon, where the collector uses the reputation of the individual to affect the decisions of third parties. The attempt to stretch reputation to support the reputation of other people or companies could lead to spam-like annoyances as well as privacy concerns.

Reputation: where the personal and the participatory meet up (installment 3 of 4)

By Andy Oram
December 15, 2007

Although portable reputations, like single sign-on, appear to be Internet's golden future (both in terms of user participation and commerce), they're not likely to happen. Your reputation has to adapt to the sites you visit in similar ways. A purely instrumental view of reputation may be the most viable. The most disturbing presentation of the day was by Danielle Citron of the University of Maryland's School of Law, concerning harrassment of women online. A lot of women write under gender-neutral pseudonyms that don't permit them to be identified by name, or go offline altogether. This denies them the benefits of reputation, including the reputation that potential employers measure by doing online searches.

Reputation: where the personal and the participatory meet up (installment 2 of 4)

By Andy Oram
December 15, 2007

At the symposium, by and large, everybody agreed that your data should be available to you and that the heuristics used to generate reputation should be open. But participants pointed out that search engines are the only really robust reputation systems available, and proposed that they work only because they keep their heuristics secret. Nobody at the symposium offered a great solution to the balance between privacy and free-speech, which have to be rejudged repeatedly in different contexts. An opt-in world is necessary to protect privacy, but Hoffman pointed out that opt-out is required to develop most useful databases of personal information. If search engines depended on opt-in, we wouldn't be able to search for much of value.

Reputation: where the personal and the participatory meet up (installment 1 of 4)

By Andy Oram
December 14, 2007

The tidal wave of grass-roots contributions to the Internet over the past decade is what drives web administrators and users to ask the fundamental questions in reputation. These sorts of issues drew some 90 to 100 lawyers, technologists, librarians, and others to a Symposium on Reputation Economies in Cyberspace at Yale University's Information Society Project. The goal of a universal reputation may be unachievable in both theory and practice. More to the point, it may be undesirable.

Tribute to honor Jim Gray on May 31st, 2008 at UC Berkeley

By Jesse Robbins
November 18, 2007

A tribute to honor Jim Gray will be held on May 31st, 2008 at UC Berkeley. The general session is open to all, followed by a technical session reviewing a small fraction of Jim's lasting contributions. Registration is required to attend the technical session. General Session Program 9:00am - 10:30am, Zellerbach Hall Opening Remarks - Joe Hellerstein A Tribute, Not a Memorial: Understanding Ambiguous Loss - Pauline Boss The Search Effort - Mike Olson Jim's Impact on Berkeley - Mike Harrison Jim as a Mentor: Colleagues - Pat Helland Jim as a Mentor: Faculty and Students - Ed Lazowska Why Jim Got the Turing Award - Mike Stonebraker Jim's Contributions to Industry I - David Vaskevitch Jim's Contributions to Industry II - Rick Rashid Technical Session Program 11:00am - 5:30pm, Wheeler Hall (Registration is required) IBM/Transaction Processing - Bruce Lindsay Tandem/Fault Tolerance - Development & Effect of TPC/A Benchmark - David DeWitt DEC, Architecture, Memex and More - Gordon Bell Writing the Transaction Processing book: "Is There Life After Transaction Processing?"

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