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Monday, October 20

Scripting News:

A podcast response to Marco Arment's piece about Twitter.

Posted on the 20th of October at about 10PM.

A podcast response to Marco Arment's piece about Twitter.

Technology | The Guardian:

Charles Arthur, technology editor: Apple has plenty of irons in the fire to offset faltering iPad sales

Posted on the 20th of October at about 10PM.

With operating profits and revenues rising, chief executive Tim Cook can afford to be bullish Continue reading...






Technology | The Guardian:

Dominic Rushe in New York: Apple sells nearly 40m iPhones in three months of year 'for the record books'

Posted on the 20th of October at about 9PM.

CEO Tim Cook says company is selling everything weve made even as it prepares for crucial holiday shopping period

Continue reading...






Coding Horror:

Jeff Atwood: Your Community Door

Posted on the 20th of October at about 7PM.

What are the real world consequences to signing up for a Twitter or Facebook account through Tor and spewing hate toward other human beings?

Facebook reviewed the comment I reported and found it doesn't violate their Community Standards. pic.twitter.com/p9syG7oPM1

— Rob Beschizza (@Beschizza) October 15, 2014

As far as I can tell, nothing. There are barely any online consequences, even if the content is reported.

But there should be.

The problem is that Twitter and Facebook aim to be discussion platforms for "everyone", where every person, no matter how hateful and crazy they may be, gets a turn on the microphone. They get to be heard.

The hover text for this one is so good it deserves escalation:

I can't remember where I heard this, but someone once said that defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you're saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it's not literally illegal to express.

If the discussion platform you're using aims to be a public platform for the whole world, there are some pretty terrible things people can do and say to other people there with no real consequences, under the noble banner of free speech.

It can be challenging.

How do we show people like this the door? You can block, you can hide, you can mute. But what you can't do is show them the door, because it's not your house. It's Facebook's house. It's their door, and the rules say the whole world has to be accommodated within the Facebook community. So mute and block and so forth are the only options available. But they are anemic, barely workable options.

As we build Discourse, I've discovered that I am deeply opposed to mute and block functions. I think that's because the whole concept of Discourse is that it is your house. And mute and ignore, while arguably unavoidable for large worldwide communities, are actively dangerous for smaller communities. Here's why.

  • It allows you to ignore bad behavior. If someone is hateful or harassing, why complain? Just mute. No more problem. Except everyone else still gets to see a person being hateful or harassing to another human being in public. Which means you are now sending a message to all other readers that this is behavior that is OK and accepted in your house.

  • It puts the burden on the user. A kind of victim blaming — if someone is rude to you, then "why didn't you just mute / block them?" The solution is right there in front of you, why didn't you learn to use the software right? Why don't you take some responsibility and take action to stop the person abusing you? Every single time it happens, over and over again?

  • It does not address the problematic behavior. A mute is invisible to everyone. So the person who is getting muted by 10 other users is getting zero feedback that their behavior is causing problems. It's also giving zero feedback to moderators that this person should probably get an intervention at the very least, if not outright suspended. It's so bad that people are building their own crowdsourced block lists for Twitter.

  • It causes discussions to break down. Fine, you mute someone, so you "never" see that person's posts. But then another user you like quotes the muted user in their post, or references their @name, or replies to their post. Do you then suppress just the quoted section? Suppress the @name? Suppress all replies to their posts, too? This leaves big holes in the conversation and presents many hairy technical challenges. Given enough personal mutes and blocks and ignores, all conversation becomes a weird patchwork of partially visible statements.

  • This is your house and your rules. This isn't Twitter or Facebook or some other giant public website with an expectation that "everyone" will be welcome. This is your house, with your rules, and your community. If someone can't behave themselves to the point that they are consistently rude and obnoxious and unkind to others, you don't ask the other people in the house to please ignore it – you ask them to leave your house. Engendering some weird expectation of "everyone is allowed here" sends the wrong message. Otherwise your house no longer belongs to you, and that's a very bad place to be.

I worry that people are learning the wrong lessons from the way Twitter and Facebook poorly handle these situations. Their hands are tied because they aspire to be these global communities where free speech trumps basic human decency and empathy.

The greatest power of online discussion communities, in my experience, is that they don't aspire to be global. You set up a clubhouse with reasonable rules your community agrees upon, and anyone who can't abide by those rules needs to be gently shown the door.

Don't pull this wishy washy non-committal stuff that Twitter and Facebook do. Community rules are only meaningful if they are actively enforced. You need to be willing to say this to people, at times:

No, your behavior is not acceptable in our community; "free speech" doesn't mean we are obliged to host your content, or listen to you being a jerk to people. This is our house, and our rules.

If they don't like it, fortunately there's a whole Internet of other communities out there. They can go try a different house. Or build their own.

The goal isn't to slam the door in people's faces – visitors should always be greeted in good faith, with a hearty smile – but simply to acknowledge that in those rare but inevitable cases where good faith breaks down, a well-oiled front door will save your community.

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Scripting News:

Little Card: Windows is going as Linux for Halloween.

Technology | The Guardian:

Jennifer Rankin: IBM shares fall as third quarter revenues drop 4% on last year

Posted on the 20th of October at about 6PM.

Tech giants chief Ginni Rometty bemoans performance as GlobalFoundries is paid £930m to take chip design firm Continue reading...






Technology | The Guardian:

Jennifer Rankin: IBM shares fall as third-quarter revenues drop 4% on last year

Posted on the 20th of October at about 5PM.

Tech firm giants chief Ginni Rometty describes performance as disappointing as GlobalFoundries is paid £930m to take chip firm Continue reading...






Scripting News:

Today's background image is Sheep Meadow in Central Park.

Posted on the 20th of October at about 5PM.

Today's background image is Sheep Meadow in Central Park.

Scripting News:

20 years ago: It's a Great Computer, Steve.

Scripting News:

New Scripting News home page coming

Posted on the 20th of October at about 5PM.

The reason things are so sparse here the last week or so is that there's a new version of Scripting News coming, and all my energies are focused there.

It'll have the linkblog and the river on the same page with the blog posts in a tabbed interface.

It'll be using all the latest JavaScript technology. "Radio3", "River4", "Fargo", "Little Card Editor" etc.

It's time that things start rolling up. ;-)

Still diggin as someone said once a long time ago.

"cheesecake"

Technology | The Guardian:

Rowena Mason, political correspondent: Journalists should be given public interest defence in law, says Nick Clegg

Posted on the 20th of October at about 5PM.

Lib Dem leader says journalists should not fear being prosecuted under computer misuse, data protection and bribery laws
Continue reading...






Technology | The Guardian:

Alex Hern: Chinese state accused of attacking Apple's iCloud

Posted on the 20th of October at about 4PM.

Apples cloud service facing a man in the middle attack in China, with the state implicated

Continue reading...






Technology | The Guardian:

Stuart Dredge: Dice gambles on shaking up gig tickets: 'We're getting rid of the friction'

Posted on the 20th of October at about 1PM.

British startups app aims to take tickets out of the hands of touts and put them into the phones of fans

Continue reading...






Technology | The Guardian:

Samuel Gibbs: Google removes results linking to stolen photos of Jennifer Lawrence nude

Posted on the 20th of October at about 1PM.

Links to sites hosting the hacked photos have started to be removed by Google after copyright takedown requests filed by Lawrences lawyers

Continue reading...






Technology | The Guardian:

Stuart Dredge: Candy Crush Soda Saga: will it pop King's app store bubble?

Posted on the 20th of October at about 1PM.

Publisher wants to move beyond its formula: We need to keep innovating... bugging people for lives is not truly social

Continue reading...






Technology | The Guardian:

Julia Powles: Internet service providers must help crack down on fake goods, high court rules

Posted on the 20th of October at about 12PM.

In what is thought to be the first ruling of its kind, the High Court in the UK has determined that ISPs must try to block sites selling counterfeit goods

Continue reading...






 

Sunday, October 19

Scripting News:

Scripting News: Why I started blogging in 1994.

alexking.org » Blog:

Alex: When you eat a PB&J sandwich do you hold it with t…

Posted on the 19th of October at about 6PM.

When you eat a PB&J sandwich do you hold it with the peanut butter on the bottom* or the jelly on the bottom? * Correct answer

 

Saturday, October 18

Scripting News:

20 years ago today: Bill Gates vs The Internet.

Scripting News:

Scripting News: Twitter's timeline is changing.

 

Friday, October 17

FSF News:

The Free Software Foundation opens nominations for the 17th annual Free Software Awards

Posted on the 17th of October at about 5PM.

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Friday, October 17, 2014 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the GNU Project today announced the opening of nominations for the 17th annual Free Software Awards. The Free Software Awards include the Award for the Advancement of Free Software and the Award for Projects of Social Benefit.

Scripting News:

The howto for installing River4 has changed, it's simpler.

Posted on the 17th of October at about 3PM.

The howto for installing River4 has changed, it's simpler.

Scripting News:

Scripting News: Ebola is fearful for good reason.

 

Thursday, October 16

FSF News:

Matthew Garrett joins Free Software Foundation board of directors

Posted on the 16th of October at about 9PM.

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Thursday, October 16, 2014 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today announced the addition of Matthew Garrett to its board of directors.

alexking.org » Blog:

Alex: Photos from Maine

Posted on the 16th of October at about 9PM.

Vantage Point Live Well Farm Grounds Colorful Patriotic Ring that bell Pumped Sun room Liz Longley Performing Allegash Brewing Co. Fort Popham Perhaps the best panoramic shot I've ever taken Flags Archways Meeting the Sea

I took a few photos in Maine during our extended weekend stay post-Monktoberfest. We stayed at an awesome 1800’s farmhouse that had been nicely renovated; had a fantastic house concert from Liz Longley, and visited Fort Popham.

 

Wednesday, October 15

Linode Blog:

Ricardo Feliciano: POODLE SSL 3.0 Vulnerability

Posted on the 15th of October at about 8PM.

Yesterday, Google published the discovery of an SSL 3.0 vulnerability named “POODLE.” This vulnerability allows an attacker to decrypt transferred data and successfully read plain text. While many browsers support newer, more secure protocols, an attacker can create connectivity issues, causing the browser to fall-back to the vulnerable SSL 3.0 protocol. Is Linode Infrastructure Vulnerable? […]

 

Tuesday, October 14

alexking.org » Blog:

Alex: A few hours dinking with my 2013 Moto X shows me t…

Posted on the 14th of October at about 8PM.

A few hours dinking with my 2013 Moto X shows me that it is the overall case size (not the 4.7″ screen) that I struggle with on my iPhone 6.

alexking.org » Blog:

Alex: WordPress vs. a Roll-Your-Own Blog Engine

Posted on the 14th of October at about 3PM.

Inspired by Brent’s consideration of an off-the-shelf blog engine, Santiago Valdarrama has written a post outlining the problems he has with off-the-shelf blog engines. What was so interesting to me about this was that a self-hosted WordPress site addresses nearly every one of his concerns. 1) You don’t have to deal with updates to the…

booktwo.org:

James Bridle: Received by Post: Printed Web, TBD, and the Moving Museum

Posted on the 14th of October at about 12PM.

A magazine, a catalogue, and an LP.

 

Monday, October 13

alexking.org » Blog:

Alex: Casual iPhone Earbuds (w/ Mic)

Posted on the 13th of October at about 3PM.

The ear buds that Apple provides with the iPhone have always fallen out of my ears. I embarked on a journey of discovery recently and tested out a set of Panasonics and a set of Samsungs. Both work well and are under $15. I’m littering them in strategic places around the house and in my…

physika:

johnmiedema: How Watson Works in Four Steps

Posted on the 13th of October at about 1PM.

A good overview of how IBM’s Watson works. When humans seek to understand something and to make a decision we go through four steps. Observe visible phenomena and bodies of evidence; Draw on what we know to interpret evidence and to generate hypotheses; Evaluate which hypotheses are right or wrong; and Decide the best option ...

 

Saturday, October 11

physika:

johnmiedema: Orlando: the lives and works of British women writers. Digital resources working together in unexpected and insightful ways.

Posted on the 11th of October at about 7PM.

Orlando is a digital resource, indexing the lives and works of British women writers. The full name of the project is, Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present. It is the work of scholars Susan Brown, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy. The name of the work was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s 1928 ...

alexking.org » Blog:

Alex: Hang Your Headphones Under Your Desk with This IKEA Hook

Posted on the 11th of October at about 5AM.

This is exactly what I was looking for – I’ll be making an Ikea run in the next week or so.

#

 

Friday, October 10

The Blasphemous Bicycler:

Adam: Harrisburg Tweed Ride Nov. 2nd!

Posted on the 10th of October at about 6PM.

Hear Ye, Hear Ye!   There is going to be a tweed ride in less than a month.  You should come. Official Announcement Plagiarized Below: Harrisburg, PA Tweed Ride Sunday Nov 2, 2014 Don’t think this is a sweaty bike ride – but a fashion show on wheels. The fancier and frillier the better. Of […]

 

Thursday, October 9

Cory Doctorow's craphound.com:

Cory Doctorow: There’s no back door that only works for good guys

Posted on the 9th of October at about 11PM.

My latest Guardian column, Crypto wars redux: why the FBI's desire to unlock your private life must be resisted, explains why the US government's push to mandate insecure back-doors in all our devices is such a terrible idea -- the antithesis of "cyber-security." As outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder invokes child kidnappers and terrorists, it's … [Read more]

Coding Horror:

Jeff Atwood: Level One: The Intro Stage

Posted on the 9th of October at about 10PM.

Way back in 2007, before Stack Overflow was a glint in anyone's eye, I called software development a collaborative game. And perhaps Stack Overflow was the natural outcome of that initial thought – recasting online software development discussion into a collaborative game where the only way to "win" is to learn from each other.

That was before the word gamification existed. But gamification is no longer the cool, hip concept it was back in 2011. Still, whether you call yourself a "gamer" or not, whether you believe in "gamification" or not, five years later you're still playing the world's largest multiplayer game.

In fact, you're playing it right now.

One of the most timeless aspects of games is how egalitarian they are, how easy it is for anyone to get started. Men, women, children — people love games because everyone can play along. You don't have to take classes or go to college or be certified: you just play. And this is, not so incidentally, how many of the programmers I know came to be programmers.

Do you know anyone that bought the video game Halo, or Myst, then proceeded to open the box and read the manual before playing the game? Whoa there guys, we can't play the game yet, we gotta read these instructions first! No, they stopped making manuals for games a long time ago, unless you count the thin sheet of paper that describes how to download / install the game on your device. Because they found out nobody reads the manual.

The project I’m working on is critical, but it has only about 3 to 4 users, most of whom are already familiar the application. One of the users even drives the design. The manual I’m writing, which is nearly 200 pages, is mostly a safety measure for business continuity planning. I don’t expect anyone will ever read it.

It’s a project I managed to procrastinate for months, working on other projects, even outside the scope of my regular assignments. The main deterrent, I believe, was my perception that no one needed the manual. The users seemed to be getting along fine without it.

And so as the year ticked to a close, instead of learning more about Mediawiki and screencasting and After Effects, I spent my time updating a 200-page manual that I don’t think anyone will ever read. It will be printed out, three-hole punched, and placed in a binder to collect dust on a shelf.

I guess that's not surprising for games. Games are supposed to be fun, and reading manuals isn't fun; it's pretty much the opposite of fun. But it is also true for software in general. Reading manuals isn't work, at least, it isn't whatever specific thing you set out to do when you fired up that bit of software on your phone, tablet, or laptop.

Games have another clever trick up their sleeve, though. Have you ever noticed that in most of today's games, the first level is kind of easy. Like… suspiciously easy?

That's because level one, the intro stage, isn't really part of the game. It's the manual.

As MegaMan X illustrates, manuals are pointless when we can learn about the game in the best and most natural way imaginable: by playing the actual game. You learn by doing, provided you have a well designed sandbox that lets you safely experiment as you're starting out in the game.

(The above video does contain some slightly NSFW language, but it is utterly brilliant, applies to every app, software and website anyone has ever built, and I strongly recommend watching it all.)

This same philosophy applies to today's software and websites. Don't bother with all the manuals, video introductions, tutorials, and pop-up help dialogs. Nobody's going to read that stuff, at least, not the people who need it.

Instead, follow the lesson of MegaMan: if you want to teach people about your software, consider how you can build a great intro stage and let them start playing with it immediately.

[advertisement] What's your next career move? Stack Overflow Careers has the best job listings from great companies, whether you're looking for opportunities at a startup or Fortune 500. You can search our job listings or create a profile and let employers find you.

alexking.org » Blog:

Alex: SweetAlert

Posted on the 9th of October at about 5PM.

This looks excellent. I’m curious to see some examples of people customizing it. (thanks Rands)

#

 

Tuesday, October 7

alexking.org » Blog:

Alex: I’m liking the larger iPhone 6 screen more and mor…

Posted on the 7th of October at about 4PM.

I’m liking the larger iPhone 6 screen more and more as my apps update to support the larger resolution.

physika:

johnmiedema: Reading Machines: Toward an Algorithmic Criticism, by Stephen Ramsay. A Storify Summary.

 

Monday, October 6

JAMES WARD: I LIKE BORING THINGS:

James Ward: UNISEX TOILETS

Posted on the 6th of October at about 4PM.

I recently went to The Lost Act, part of the Lost Lectures series of events, the organisation and ambition of which put my efforts with Boring to shame (you can see a video of a talk I did about Boring at the Lost Lectures here). The Lost Act was held in the stunningly beautiful Victorian theatre at the Alexandra Palace … Continue reading 

 

Wednesday, October 1

alexking.org » Blog:

Alex: Flight from ORD to PWM for @monktoberfest cancelle…

Posted on the 1st of October at about 4PM.

Flight from ORD to PWM for Monktoberfest cancelled. Called United, rebooked, checked in, and got boarding pass via email in 5 min. #kudos

 

Tuesday, September 30

alexking.org » Blog:

Alex: Confusing email from @instapaper about something c…

Posted on the 30th of September at about 10PM.

Confusing email from @instapaper about something called Instapaper Premium. Not sure if I need it, what it is, or what I get if I sign up.

Linode Blog:

sclemens: Linode Managed is even better than before!

Posted on the 30th of September at about 3PM.

Linode Managed is getting even better. With 24/7/365 incident response, backups, Longview Pro, application tuning and architecture advice, it’s already a great value. Now, three more upgrades, exclusive to Linode Managed customers, make it a better value than before: Linode Managed now includes free cPanel & WHM. Linode Managed now includes free site migrations. Linode Managed […]

 

Monday, September 29

Linode Blog:

tasaro: ‘Shellshock’ Bash vulnerability

Posted on the 29th of September at about 5PM.

Over the last week, several vulnerabilities in GNU Bash have been discovered and are being referred to as “Shellshock”. Using these vulnerabilities an attacker can remotely execute commands, thereby compromising the machine. To make matters worse, many common configurations provide vectors for this attack, making it a serious problem. Many Linux distributions have already provided […]

 

Saturday, September 27

Cory Doctorow's craphound.com:

Cory Doctorow: My In Real Life book-tour!

Posted on the 27th of September at about 12PM.

I'm heading out on tour with my new graphic novel In Real Life, adapted by Jen Wang from my story Anda's Game. I hope you'll come out and see us! We'll be in NYC, Princeton, LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Minneapolis and Chicago! (I'm also touring my new nonfiction book, Information Doesn't Want to Be … [Read more]

 

Thursday, September 25

FSF News:

Free Software Foundation statement on the GNU Bash "shellshock" vulnerability

Posted on the 25th of September at about 9PM.

A major security vulnerability has been discovered in the free software shell GNU Bash. The most serious issues have already been fixed, and GNU/Linux distributions are working quickly to release updated packages for their users. All Bash users should upgrade immediately, and audit the list of remote network services running on their systems.

 

Sunday, September 21

JonBlog:

Jon: PHP symlink deployment demo

Posted on the 21st of September at about 5PM.

I’ve been reading up on build processes for PHP recently, and comparing them with the good and bad deployment approaches I’ve been asked to use in the past. To do it properly, there are two approaches designed for a speedy changeover: Build the app in a new location and then change the docroot symlink to […]

 

Saturday, September 20

physika:

johnmiedema: Book Was There, by Andrew Piper. If we’re going to have ebooks that distract us, we might as well have ones that help us analyse too.

Posted on the 20th of September at about 6PM.

“I can imagine a world without books. I cannot imagine a world without reading” (Piper, ix). In these last few generations of print there is nothing keeping book lovers from reading print books. Yet with each decade the print book yields further to the digital. But there it is, we are the first few generations ...

Cory Doctorow's craphound.com:

Cory Doctorow: Homeland wins Copper Cylinder award for best Canadian YA sf novel

Posted on the 20th of September at about 4PM.

The Copper Cylinder Prize, voted on by members of the Sunburst Award Society awarded best YA novel to Homeland; best adult novel went to Guy Gavriel Kay's River of Stars. It's a fantastic honour, in some ways even better than winning the juried Sunburst Award, because popular awards are given to books that have wide … [Read more]

booktwo.org:

James Bridle: AQD: Remembrancer

Posted on the 20th of September at about 9AM.

Implicated by association, a newspaper for the V&A.

 

Thursday, September 18

physika:

johnmiedema: Wilson iteration plans: Topics on text mining the novel.

Posted on the 18th of September at about 8PM.

The Wilson iteration of my cognitive system will involve a deep dive into topics on text mining the novel. My overly ambitious plans are the following, roughly in order: Book review of Book Was There: Reading in Electronic Times by Andrew Piper. Develop a working code illustration of genre detection. Develop another custom entity recognition ...

Cory Doctorow's craphound.com:

Cory Doctorow: Privacy for Normal People

Posted on the 18th of September at about 11AM.

My latest Guardian column, Privacy technology everyone can use would make us all more secure, makes the case for privacy technology as something that anyone can -- and should use, discussing the work being done by the charitable Simply Secure foundation that launches today (site is not yet up as of this writing), with the … [Read more]

 

Tuesday, September 16

FSF News:

LibrePlanet is coming March 21-22, 2015, call for proposals now open for annual free software conference

Posted on the 16th of September at about 7PM.

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Tuesday, September 16, 2015 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and Student Information Processing Board (SIPB) at MIT today announced the dates for the LibrePlanet free software conference, which will be held March 21-22, 2015, in Cambridge, MA. The call for sessions is now open, as is the call for exhibitors and volunteers.

Dave Robertson:

Dave Robertson: A Song for Father’s Day

 

Monday, September 15

Cory Doctorow's craphound.com:

Cory Doctorow: Excerpt from In Real Life, YA graphic novel about gold farmers

Posted on the 15th of September at about 2PM.

In Real Life is the book-length graphic novel adapted by Jen Wang from my short story Anda's Game, about a girl who encounters a union organizer working to sign up Chinese gold-farmers in a multiplayer game. Tor.com has published a long excerpt from the book, showcasing Jen's wonderful art, character development and writing! In Real … [Read more]

 

Sunday, September 14

JonBlog:

Jon: Insecure programming tutorial reporting tool

Posted on the 14th of September at about 10PM.

This would make a nice weekend hack project! A website to report (PHP) tutorials that recommend insecure techniques, especially involving SQL injection (I just found another one, and have reported it via the comments). For novelty, render all the sites as labelled divs in a Masonry wall, and bonus points for a cheeky xkcd-style alt-text […]

 

Friday, September 12

FSF News:

ThinkPenguin wireless router now FSF-certified to respect your freedom

Posted on the 12th of September at about 9PM.

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Friday, September 12, 2014 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today awarded Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification to the ThinkPenguin Wireless N-Broadband Router (TPE-NWIFIROUTER). The RYF certification mark means that the product meets the FSF's standards in regard to users' freedom, control over the product, and privacy. This is the first router to receive RYF certification from the FSF.

 

Tuesday, September 9

FSF News:

Free Software Foundation statement on the new iPhone, Apple Pay, and Apple Watch

Posted on the 9th of September at about 6PM.

The Free Software Foundation encourages users to avoid all Apple products, in the interest of their own freedom and the freedom of those around them.

Open Maps:

Chris Hill: Lock in

Posted on the 9th of September at about 4PM.

I've been adding lots of buildings in Hull. Tracing from imagery is a bit tedious, but I have got into a rhythm. Adding the house numbers I find easier with a printed map with the buildings already drawn then I can note significant points like house numbers near junctions, any extras (like 4a), any gaps in numbering and whether there is a 13 or not. I was working on Beverley Road. Wanted some shopping so I decided to go shopping there, so I could see the layout of the shops as well as any numbering. I also remembered a couple of developments that were worth looking at to see if they were accessible.

I went to The Jacobs Homes off Askew Avenue. The place was complete, smart
and easy to go round, number one complete. Then I went to The Sidings. This is still only partly complete, with two road names (neither called The Sidings of course, this was a railway goods yard many, many years ago). One small road joined these two named ones - I got its name from a house number with the street name under it. Number two complete. I then set off towards the junction between Beverley Road and Cottingham Road to look at the shops and buy a few things.

Before I got to the shops I saw a yellow board with a development name on it I didn't recognise, Scholars Gate, so I followed it. The development is far from complete but a substantial number of houses have been built and many look occupied. Once again no name board, but once again a house number had the road name on it so I could get the details. Number three complete.

When I got to Cottingham Road shops I took lots of photos of the shop fronts from across the street, got asked what I was doing and handed out a leaflet about OSM. When I'd done my shopping I set off for home.

I noticed another new development off Cottingham Road. When I had turned round and got back to it I realised it was gated and the gate was shut. The sign said Chancellor's Court (private road). As I sat in front of the gate I saw a sensor on a wall inside the gate and guessed that if I could get in, the sensor would open the gates to let me out. Just then a van pulled up near the gates at the otherside and they opened, so I drove in, hoping I was right. I drove down the road, turned at the end and set off out. The gates didn't open. I sat near them waiting for someone else to open the gates and a few seconds later a car pulled past me and the gates opened. I followed the car out and my lock in was over. Number four complete.

As I drove home I saw another yellow board for a development, this time in Cottingham at Cleminson Gardens. I had added bit of the development when it was first accessible. Now the whole road loop is accessible and most of the houses look complete and occupied. That completed number five.

Cory Doctorow's craphound.com:

Cory Doctorow: Amazon vs Hachette is nothing: just WAIT for the audiobook wars!

Posted on the 9th of September at about 2PM.

In my latest Locus column, Audible, Comixology, Amazon, and Doctorow’s First Law, I unpick the technological forces at work in the fight between Amazon and Hachette, one of the "big five" publishers, whose books have not been normally available through Amazon for months now, as the publisher and the bookseller go to war over the … [Read more]

physika:

johnmiedema: Slow reading six years later. Digital technology has evolved, and so have I. There is a trade-off.

Posted on the 9th of September at about 12PM.

I was recently interviewed by The Wall Street Journal about slow reading. It has been a few years since I did one of these interviews. I wrote Slow Reading in 2008, six years ago. At the time, the Kindle had just been released and there was a surge of discussion about reading practices, to which I ...

 

Monday, September 8

Cory Doctorow's craphound.com:

Cory Doctorow: “Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free”

Posted on the 8th of September at about 4PM.

Here's the audio of my closing keynote speech at last Friday's Dconstruct (this was the tenth Dconstruct; I'm pleased to say that I also gave the closing speech at the very first one!). You can hear audio from the rest of the speakers too.

FSF News:

FSF and Debian join forces to help free software users find the hardware they need

Posted on the 8th of September at about 3PM.

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Monday, September 8, 2014 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the Debian Project today announced cooperation to expand and enhance h-node, a database to help users learn and share information about computers that work with free software operating systems.

Cory Doctorow's craphound.com:

Cory Doctorow: Starred review in Kirkus for INFORMATION DOESN’T WANT TO BE FREE, my next book

Posted on the 8th of September at about 2PM.

My next book, Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free, comes out in November, but the reviews have just started to come in. Kirkus gave it a stellar review. Many thanks to @neilhimself and @amandapalmer for their wonderful introductions! In his best-selling novel Ready Player One, Ernest Cline predicted that decades from now, Doctorow (Homeland, 2013, … [Read more]

 

Sunday, September 7

Cory Doctorow's craphound.com:

Cory Doctorow: High-school English study guide for Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother

Posted on the 7th of September at about 6AM.

Neil Anderson from the Association from Media Literacy (which has a great-sounding upcoming conference) has produced an excellent study guide for my novel Homeland (the sequel to Little Brother) -- Anderson's guide encourages critical thinking about politics, literary technique, technology, privacy, surveillance, and history. I'm immensely grateful to Anderson for his good work here. I … [Read more]

 

Saturday, September 6

Cory Doctorow's craphound.com:

Cory Doctorow: Excerpt from my story “The Man Who Sold the Moon”

Posted on the 6th of September at about 5AM.

Medium have published an excerpt from "The Man Who Sold the Moon, my 36,000 word novella in Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, a project to inspire optimism and ambition about the future and technology that Neal Stephenson kicked off (see also What Will it Take to Get Us Back to the Moon?). … [Read more]

 

Friday, September 5

physika:

johnmiedema: The four steps Watson uses to answer a question. An example from literature.

Posted on the 5th of September at about 4PM.

Check out this excellent video on the four steps Watson uses to answer a question. The Jeopardy style question (i.e., an answer) comes from the topic of literature, so quite relevant here: “The first person mentioned by name in ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ is this hero of a previous book by the same ...

Coding Horror:

Jeff Atwood: Standard Markdown is now Common Markdown

Posted on the 5th of September at about 12AM.

Let me open with an apology to John Gruber for my previous blog post.

We've been working on the Standard Markdown project for about two years now. We invited John Gruber, the original creator of Markdown, to join the project via email in November 2012, but never heard back. As we got closer to being ready for public feedback, we emailed John on August 19th with a link to the Standard Markdown spec, asking him for his feedback. Since John MacFarlane was the primary author of most of the work, we suggested that he be the one to reach out.

We then waited two weeks for a response.

There was no response, so we assumed that John Gruber was either OK with the project (and its name), or didn't care. So we proceeded.

There was lots of internal discussion about what to name our project. Strict Markdown? XMarkdown? Markdown Pro? Markdown Super Hyper Turbo Pro Alpha Diamond Edition?

As we were finalizing the name, we noticed on this podcast, at 1:15 …

… that John seemed OK with the name "GitHub Flavored Markdown". So I originally wrote the blog post and the homepage using that terminology – "Standard Flavored Markdown" – and even kept that as the title of the blog post to signify our intent. We were building Yet Another Flavor of Markdown, one designed to remove ambiguity by specifying a standard, while preserving as much as possible the spirit of Markdown and compatibility with existing documents.

Before we went live, I asked for feedback internally, and one of the bits of feedback I got was that it was inconsistent to say Standard Flavored Markdown on the homepage and blog when the spec says Standard Markdown throughout. So I changed them to match Standard Markdown, and that's what we launched with.

It was a bit of a surprise to get an email last night, addressed to both me and John MacFarlane, from John Gruber indicating that the name Standard Markdown was "infuriating".

I'm sorry the name is so infuriating. I assure you that we did not choose the name to make you, or anyone else, angry. We were simply trying to pick a name that correctly and accurately reflected our goal – to build an unambiguous flavor of Markdown. If the name we chose made inappropriate overtures about Standard Markdown being anything more than a highly specified flavor of Markdown, I apologize. Standard does have certain particular computer science meanings, as in IETF Standard, ECMA Standard. That was not our intent, it was more of an aspirational element of "what if, together, we could eventually..". What can I say? We're programmers. We name things literally. And naming is hard.

John Gruber was also very upset, and I think rightfully so, that the word Markdown was not capitalized throughout the spec. This was an oversight on our part – and also my fault because I did notice Markdown wasn't capitalized as I copied snippets of the spec to the homepage and blog post, and I definitely thought it was odd, too. You'll note that I took care to manually capitalize Markdown in the parts of the spec I copied to the blog post and home page – but I neglected to mention this to John MacFarlane as I should have. We corrected this immediately when it was brought to our attention.

John then made three requests:

  1. Rename the project.

  2. Shut down the standardmarkdown.com domain, and don't redirect it.

  3. Apologize.

All fair. Happy to do all of those things.

Starting with the name. In his email John graciously indicated that he would "probably" approve a name like "Strict Markdown" or "Pedantic Markdown". Given the very public earlier miscommunication about naming, that consideration is appreciated.

We replied with the following suggestions:

  • Compatible Markdown
  • Regular Markdown
  • Community Markdown
  • Common Markdown
  • Uniform Markdown
  • Vanilla Markdown

We haven't heard back after replying last night, and I'm not sure we ever will, so in the interest of moving ahead and avoiding conflict, we're immediately renaming the project to Common Markdown.

We hope that is an acceptable name; it was independently suggested to us several times in several different feedback areas. The intention is to avoid any unwanted overtones of ownership; we have only ever wanted to be Yet Another Flavor of Markdown.

  1. The project name change is already in progress.

  2. This is our public apology.

  3. I'll shut down the standardmarkdown.com domain as soon as I can, probably by tomorrow.

John, we deeply apologize for the miscommunication. It's our fault, and we want to fix it. But even though we made mistakes, I hope it is clear that everything we've done, we did solely out of a shared love of Markdown (and its simple, unencumbered old-school ASCII origins), and the desire to ensure the success of Markdown as a stable format for future generations.

Edit: after a long and thoughtful email from John Gruber – which is greatly appreciated – he indicated that no form of the word "Markdown" is acceptable to him in this case. We are now using the name CommonMark.

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Thursday, September 4

FSF News:

Free Software Foundation adds libreCMC to its list of endorsed distributions

Posted on the 4th of September at about 7PM.

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Thursday, September 4, 2014 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today announced the addition of libreCMC, an embedded GNU/Linux project, to its list of recommended distributions.

 

Wednesday, September 3

Coding Horror:

Jeff Atwood: Standard Flavored Markdown

Posted on the 3rd of September at about 8PM.

In 2009 I lamented the state of Markdown:

Right now we have the worst of both worlds. Lack of leadership from the top, and a bunch of fragmented, poorly coordinated community efforts to advance Markdown, none of which are officially canon. This isn't merely incovenient for anyone trying to find accurate information about Markdown; it's actually harming the project's future.

In late 2012, David Greenspan from Meteor approached me and proposed we move forward, and a project crystallized:

I propose that Stack Exchange, GitHub, Meteor, Reddit, and any other company with lots of traffic and a strategic investment in Markdown, all work together to come up with an official Markdown specification, and standard test suites to validate Markdown implementations. We've all been working at cross purposes for too long, accidentally fragmenting Markdown while popularizing it.

We formed a small private working group with key representatives from GitHub, from Reddit, from Stack Exchange, from the open source community. We spent months hashing out the details and agreeing on the necessary changes to turn Markdown into a language you can parse without feeling like you just walked through a sewer – while preserving the simple, clear, ASCII email inspired spirit of Markdown.

We really struggled with this at Discourse, which is also based on Markdown, but an even more complex dialect than the one we built at Stack Overflow. In Discourse, you can mix three forms of markup interchangeably:

  • Markdown
  • HTML (safe subset)
  • BBCode (subset)

Discourse is primarily a JavaScript app, so naturally we needed a nice, compliant implementation of Markdown in JavaScript. Surely such a thing exists, yes? Nope. Even in 2012, we found zero JavaScript implementations of Markdown that could pass the only Markdown test suite I know of, MDTest. It isn't authoritative, it's a community created initiative that embodies its own decisions about rendering ambiguities in Markdown, but it's all we've got. We contributed many upstream fixes to markdown.js to make it pass MDTest – but it still only passes in our locally extended version.

As an open source project ourselves, we're perfectly happy contributing upstream code to improve it for everyone. But it's an indictment of the state of the Markdown ecosystem that any remotely popular implementation wasn't already testing itself against a formal spec and test suite. But who can blame them, because it didn't exist!

Well, now it does.

It took a while, but I'm pleased to announce that Standard Markdown is now finally ready for public review.

standardmarkdown.com

It's a spec, including embedded examples, and implementations in portable C and JavaScript. We strived mightily to stay true to the spirit of Markdown in writing it. The primary author, John MacFarlane, explains in the introduction to the spec:

Because Gruber’s syntax description leaves many aspects of the syntax undetermined, writing a precise spec requires making a large number of decisions, many of them somewhat arbitrary. In making them, I have appealed to existing conventions and considerations of simplicity, readability, expressive power, and consistency. I have tried to ensure that “normal” documents in the many incompatible existing implementations of markdown will render, as far as possible, as their authors intended. And I have tried to make the rules for different elements work together harmoniously. In places where different decisions could have been made (for example, the rules governing list indentation), I have explained the rationale for my choices. In a few cases, I have departed slightly from the canonical syntax description, in ways that I think further the goals of markdown as stated in that description.

Part of my contribution to the project is to host the discussion / mailing list for Standard Markdown in a Discourse instance.

talk.standardmarkdown.com

Fortunately, Discourse itself just reached version 1.0. If the only thing Standard Markdown does is help save a few users from the continuing horror that is mailing list web UI, we all win.

What I'm most excited about is that we got a massive contribution from the one person who, in my mind, was the most perfect person in the world to work on this project: John MacFarlane. He took our feedback and wrote the entire Standard Markdown spec and both implementations.

A lot of people know of John through his Pandoc project, which is amazing in its own right, but I found out about him because he built Babelmark. I learned to refer to Babelmark extensively while working on Stack Overflow and MarkdownSharp, a C# implementation of Markdown.

Here's how crazy Markdown is: to decide what the "correct" behavior is, you provide sample Markdown input to 20+ different Markdown parsers … and then pray that some consensus emerges in all their output. That's what Babelmark does.

Consider this simple Markdown example:

# Hello there

This is a paragraph.

- one
- two
- three
- four

1. pirate
2. ninja
3. zombie

Just for that, I count fifteen different rendered outputs from 22 different Markdown parsers.

In Markdown, we literally built a Tower of Babel.

Have I mentioned that it's a good idea for a language to have a formal specification and test suites? Maybe now you can see why that is.

Oh, and in his spare time, John is also the chair of the department of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. No big deal. While I don't mean to minimize the contributions of anyone to the Standard Markdown project, we all owe a special thanks to John.

Markdown is indeed everywhere. And that's a good thing. But it needs to be sane, parseable, and standard. That's the goal of Standard Markdown — but we need your help to get there. If you use Markdown on a website, ask what it would take for that site to become compatible with Standard Markdown; when you see the word "Markdown" you have the right to expect consistent rendering across all the websites you visit. If you implement Markdown, take a look at the spec, try to make your parser compatible with Standard Markdown, and discuss improvements or refinements to the spec.

Update: The project was renamed CommonMark. See my subsequent blog post.

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JAMES WARD: I LIKE BORING THINGS:

James Ward: PEAS

Posted on the 3rd of September at about 3PM.

While Steph McGovern may be happy to use inappropriate units of measurement when talking about cheese, it is a relief to see the people at Yes Peas! are a little more cafeful with their numbers.  Yes Peas! is a pea-information website run by the British Growers Association which in turn is a trade association which “represents & promotes UK growers … Continue reading 

 

Monday, September 1

Open Maps:

Chris Hill: Floods

Posted on the 1st of September at about 11AM.

In 2007 large parts of Hull and surrounding areas were flooded. The reasons why are still being debated. Drainage capacity, pumping capacity, pumping failures and poor coordination of various agencies have been blamed in reports.

Most flooding in the UK in the past has been either due to rivers bursting their banks or coastal flooding. Coastal flooding along the east coast is often somewhat predictable as it is often the combination of a spring tide, a deep depression and winds from the north or north west blowing down the North Sea. The low pressure allows the sea level to rise, the wind blows the water into the bottle-neck of the southern North Sea and combined with a spring tide the winds blow waves over sea defences which quickly floods land behind the defences.

Rivers bursting their banks is a bit more obvious. Heavy rainfall runs off land and fills water courses, which may burst their banks downstream and flood surrounding land. What we are beginning to see in Britain are more cases of another kind of flooding: direct flooding from heavy rainfall. Here saturated ground and impermeable ground cannot hold any more rainfall, so water sweeps across the surface of land to a low point where it forms a temporary flood, as it did in Hull in 2007. Britain's existing drainage infrastructure tries to deal with this using ditches and other water courses but they are now unable to cope more and more often.

I think more concentrated, heavier rainfall is causing part of this, some of which is down to climate change no doubt. Some of the flooding is man-made in other ways too. Ditches and other water courses are badly maintained and even being filled in. Building causes more run off from roofs, roads and other impermeable surfaces.

One decision made, I think, in the 1950s is also having a devastating effect and that is where any land run off water goes. In most cases the water boards of the 1950 decided to direct run off into sewers. At the time most areas with access the coast simply dumped untreated sewage into the sea and land run off was seen as a way to dilute it. Now all sewage is supposed to be treated before discharge. I said 'supposed to be treated' because the Water Act allows water companies some discretion to pump untreated sewage into the sea when their infrastructure is overwhelmed in an excessive rainfall event. At Bridlington a new pipe has been built for this purpose.

Adding relatively clean land run off to sewage has two big effects. Land run off water ends up getting treated as sewage in expensive treatment works. This water could reasonably be discharged directly into natural water courses or the sea without much problem, instead sewage works with greatly inflated capacity have to be built and run to deal with it. The second big effect is that when unusually heavy rainfall events overwhelm the drainage system, the bottlenecks are the sewage pipes which overflow, putting not just land run off into streets, gardens and homes but sewage too. Fixing this is not easy and will be very, very expensive and disruptive but as climate change progresses some changes will be needed.

I have been helping Cottingham Flood Action Group to understand the drainage and sewer network for that low-lying village by using their knowledge and surveys to add the ditches, drains, culverts, sewers and manholes to OSM and produce a map to help them understand the issues. You can see the map here. So far only a small part of the sewer network of the village has been added but various people in the group have enough knowledge to add the whole network I think. Then the onward link to Hull's network needs adding, which is a much bigger task. All of the network ends up in a single treatment works at the east of Hull at Salt End.

I hope CFAG find my map useful.

 

Sunday, August 31

physika:

johnmiedema: Physika, the next phase: Text analysis of the novel. Selected book reviews are back.

Posted on the 31st of August at about 4PM.

NovelTM is an international collaboration of academic and non-academic partners to produce the first large-scale quantitative history of the novel. It is a natural fit with my interests in cognitive technologies, text analytics, and literature. I am getting to know the players, and hope to contribute. Given that, I have reorganized things a bit here ...

 

Saturday, August 30

JAMES WARD: I LIKE BORING THINGS:

James Ward: ADVENTURES IN STATIONERY

Posted on the 30th of August at about 3PM.

I have written a book. It’s about stationery. It’s called Adventures in Stationery: A Journey Through Your Pencil Case and was published by Profile Books on September 11th 2014. Here is a brief description of it: We are surrounded by stationery: half-chewed Cristal Bics and bent paper clips, rubber bands to fiddle with or ping, blunt pencils, rubbers and Tipp-ex. They are … Continue reading 

 

Friday, August 29

JonBlog:

Jon: Online PHP beginners’ tutorial

Posted on the 29th of August at about 11PM.

I’ve been working since Christmas last year on an online PHP tutorial for beginners, which is now pretty much ready to try out. The working title during development has been “I ♥ PHP” and I still rather like that, so I’ll stick with that at least for the alpha period. The course is split over […]

The Open Library Blog:

Jessamyn West: Time travel through millions of historic Open Library images

Posted on the 29th of August at about 10PM.

The BBC has an article about Kalev Leetaru’s project to extract images from millions of Open Library pages. You can read about how it works… The Internet Archive had used an optical character recognition (OCR) program to analyse each of its 600 million scanned pages in order to convert the image of each word into […]

 

Thursday, August 28

The Blasphemous Bicycler:

Adam: Commute Videos

Posted on the 28th of August at about 8PM.

I recently received a Garmin Virb “action camera” as a present from my lady friend. Yesterday, I recorded (most of) my commute to and from work. If you have some time to kill, you may want to watch this enthralling footage. Here is the monring ride: And here is the afternoon ride:

 

Tuesday, August 26

Linode Blog:

caker: Introducing Professional Services

Posted on the 26th of August at about 2PM.

Now you can hire us to perform your site migrations, server installs, one-off sysadmin tasks, and anything else you need. With this new service you’ll always have our expert staff available to perform system administration work for you. You submit a request, we work with you to define the requirements and scope, and then you receive […]

 

Friday, August 22

FSF News:

GNU hackers unmask massive HACIENDA surveillance program and design a countermeasure

Posted on the 22nd of August at about 8PM.

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Friday, August 22, 2014 -- GNU community members and collaborators have discovered threatening details about a five-country government surveillance program codenamed HACIENDA. The program employs a technology known as port-scanning to map every server in twenty-seven countries and detect vulnerabilities to be exploited.

 

Tuesday, August 19

The Open Library Blog:

Anand Chitipothu: Open Library Scheduled Hardware Maintenance

Posted on the 19th of August at about 5PM.

Open Library will be down from 6:00PM to 8:00PM SF Time (PDT, UTC/GMT -7 hours) on August 19, 2014 due to a scheduled hardware maintenance. We’ll post updates here and on @openlibrary twitter. Thank you for your cooperation. UPDATE 6:45PM PST: The hardware maintenance is complete and openlibrary.org is back online! 

 

Monday, August 18

physika:

johnmiedema: Genre detection. Natural language processing models ought to be trained by genre specific content.

Posted on the 18th of August at about 6PM.

Having completed the second iteration of Whatson, I am going kick about for a bit, exploring special topics, before I take on another iteration. One topic of interest is genre detection. To start with the obvious, genre is a category of art, most commonly in reference to literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, technique, tone, ...

 

Tuesday, August 12

The Open Library Blog:

Jessamyn West: Wikimania London!

Posted on the 12th of August at about 8PM.

The Internet Archive had a booth at Wikimania in London. The booth was in the Community Village section of the conference. We hope you stopped by and said hello, grabbed a sticker or a handout, and learned a bit more about our book scanning projects and told us what you were up to. If you’d […]

 

Monday, August 4

stonewaves.net:

Stone: North.

Posted on the 4th of August at about 4AM.

Had this recently. Yep it was goooood…especially considering it was my first waves in 6 months… Been busy. Hope you’re happy and healthy…

 

Sunday, August 3

JonBlog:

jonny: Security vulnerabilities in On Your Bike’s website

Posted on the 3rd of August at about 4PM.

I recently got in touch with On Your Bike, a cycle shop with stores in Birmingham and London, to alert them to a number of security issues in their website. I’d raised the matter with a very friendly chap at the shop, and he advised me to send an email to the manager. This I […]

 

Friday, August 1

The Blasphemous Bicycler:

Adam: Tomatoes

JonBlog:

Jon: SSL meter browser plugin

Posted on the 1st of August at about 12AM.

Using HTTPS in the browser is a good security measure against data and session theft, especially on publicly available networks, such as internet cafes. A number of browser plugins now offer the ability to auto-switch to an encrypted connection, such as NoScript and SSL Everywhere. I thought a good counterpart to these would be a […]

 

Wednesday, July 30

Linode Blog:

Alex Fornuto: Linode Docs Now Open Source on GitHub

Posted on the 30th of July at about 7PM.

Five years ago today we launched the Linode Library – a free, public resource for guides on subjects ranging from Linux basics to complex multi-system configurations. We’ve given our docs a much needed facelift in our new Guides & Tutorials section of our site. This new format should make finding and following the guides much easier. Our entire […]

physika:

johnmiedema: What is unstructured data? Anything not in a DBMS? Text? Non-repetitive data?

Posted on the 30th of July at about 1PM.

What is unstructured data? Anything not in a DBMS? Text? “Many English teachers would contend that the English language is in fact highly structured.” In IBM Data Mag, Inmon suggests distinguishing structured data from unstructured data based on repetition of data occurrences. “Data that occurs frequently, repetitive data, is data in a record that appears very similar ...

 

Tuesday, July 29

JAMES WARD: I LIKE BORING THINGS:

James Ward: CHEESE

Posted on the 29th of July at about 5PM.

This morning I was watching BBC Breakfast and there was a report from Steph McGovern who was at the International Cheese Awards in Nantwich. The International Cheese Awards are the “biggest and best cheese awards in the world” and so you can understand why the BBC were keen to cover the story. During the report, McGovern claimed that cheese is … Continue reading 

 

Sunday, July 27

The Blasphemous Bicycler:

Adam: Farm Animals

 

Friday, July 25

tom m wilson:

Tom Wilson: The Paleo Path on Rottnest

Posted on the 25th of July at about 8AM.

I’ve just come back from Rottnest island, after staying in a little cottage in a small bay right on the water.  The cottage looks out over an arcing rocky limestone headland, and as a cold front moved over us, the headland protected us like a encircling arm from the winds and waves.  Our first night [...]

 

Wednesday, July 23

The Blasphemous Bicycler:

Adam: Susquehanna Sunset

 

Monday, July 21

The Open Library Blog:

Jessamyn West: Open library’s been doing that the whole time…. for free

Posted on the 21st of July at about 5PM.

Amazon’s “Kindle Unlimited” announcement has been helping raise awareness of Open Library. Last week, Amazon informed us that for ten dollars per month, Kindle users can have unlimited access to over six hundred thousand books in its library. But it shouldn’t cost a thing to borrow a book, Amazon, you foul, horrible, profiteering enemies of […]

 

Friday, July 18

Coding Horror:

Jeff Atwood: The "Just In Time" Theory of User Behavior

Posted on the 18th of July at about 12AM.

I've long believed that the design of your software has a profound impact on how users behave within your software. But there are two sides to this story:

  • Encouraging the "right" things by making those things intentionally easy to do.

  • Discouraging the "wrong" things by making those things intentionally difficult, complex, and awkward to do.

Whether the software is doing this intentionally, or completely accidentally, it's a fact of life: the path of least resistance is everyone's best friend. Learn to master this path, or others will master it for you.

For proof, consider Dan Ariely's new and amazing book, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone – Especially Ourselves.

Indeed, let's be honest: we all lie, all the time. Not because we're bad people, mind you, but because we have to regularly lie to ourselves as a survival mechanism. You think we should be completely honest all the time? Yeah. Good luck with that.

But these healthy little white lies we learn to tell ourselves have a darker side. Have you ever heard this old adage?

One day, Peter locked himself out of his house. After a spell, the locksmith pulled up in his truck and picked the lock in about a minute.

“I was amazed at how quickly and easily this guy was able to open the door,” Peter said. The locksmith told him that locks are on doors only to keep honest people honest. One percent of people will always be honest and never steal. Another 1% will always be dishonest and always try to pick your lock and steal your television; locks won’t do much to protect you from the hardened thieves, who can get into your house if they really want to.

The purpose of locks, the locksmith said, is to protect you from the 98% of mostly honest people who might be tempted to try your door if it had no lock.

I had heard this expressed less optimistically before as

10% of people will never steal, 10% of people will always steal, and for everyone else … it depends.

The "it depends" part is crucial to understanding human nature, and that's what Ariely spends most of the book examining in various tests. If for most people, honesty depends, what exactly does it depend on? The experiments Ariely conducts prove again and again that most people will consistently and reliably cheat "just a little", to the extent that they can still consider themselves honest people. The gating factor isn't laws, penalties, or ethics. Surprisingly, that stuff has virtually no effect on behavior. What does, though, is whether they can personally still feel like they are honest people.

This is because they don't even consider it cheating – they're just taking a little extra, giving themselves a tiny break, enjoying a minor boost, because well, haven't they been working extra specially hard lately and earned it? Don't they of all people deserve something nice once in a while, and who would even miss this tiny amount? There's so much!

These little white lies are the path of least resistance. They are everywhere. If laws don't work, if ethics classes don't work, if severe penalties don't work, how do you encourage people to behave in a way that "feels" honest that is actually, you know, honest? Feelings are some pretty squishy stuff.

It's easier than you think.

My colleagues and I ran an experiment at the University of California, Los Angeles. We took a group of 450 participants, split them into two groups and set them loose on our usual matrix task. We asked half of them to recall the Ten Commandments and the other half to recall 10 books that they had read in high school.

Among the group who recalled the 10 books, we saw the typical widespread but moderate cheating. But in the group that was asked to recall the Ten Commandments, we observed no cheating whatsoever. We reran the experiment, reminding students of their schools' honor codes instead of the Ten Commandments, and we got the same result. We even reran the experiment on a group of self-declared atheists, asking them to swear on a Bible, and got the same no-cheating results yet again.

That's the good news: a simple reminder at the time of the temptation is usually all it takes for people to suddenly "remember" their honesty.

The bad news is Clippy was right.

In my experience, nobody reads manuals, nobody reads FAQs, and nobody reads tutorials. I am exaggerating a little here for effect, of course. Some A+ students will go out of their way to read these things. That's how they became A+ students, by naturally going the extra mile, and generally being the kind of users who teach themselves perfectly well without needing special resources to get there. When I say "nobody" I mean the vast overwhelming massive majority of people you would really, really want to read things like that. People who don't have the time or inclination to expend any effort at all other than the absolute minimum required, people who are most definitely not going to go the extra mile.

In other words, the whole world.

So how do you help people who, like us, just never seem to have the time to figure this stuff out becase they're, like, suuuuper busy and stuff?

You do it by showing them …

  • the minumum helpful reminder
  • at exactly the right time

This is what I've called the "Just In Time" theory of user behavior for years. Sure, FAQs and tutorials and help centers are great and all, but who has the time for that? We're all perpetual intermediates here, at best.

The closer you can get your software to practical, useful "Just In Time" reminders, the better you can help the users who are most in need. Not the A+ students who already read the FAQ, and studied the help center intently, but those users who never read anything. And now, thanks to Dan Ariely, I have the science to back this up. Even something as simple as putting your name on the top of a form to report auto insurance milage, rather than the bottom, resulted in a mysterious 10% increase in average miles reported. Having that little reminder right at the start that hey, your name is here on this form, inspired additional honesty. It works.

Did we use this technique on Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange? Indeed we did. Do I use this technique on Discourse? You bet, in even more places, because this is social discussion, not technical Q&A. We are rather big on civility, so we like to remind people when they post on Discourse they aren't talking to a computer or a robot, but a real person, a lot like you.

When's the natural time to remind someone of this? Not when they sign up, not when they're reading, but at the very moment they begin typing their first words in their first post. This is the moment of temptation when you might be super mega convinced that someone is Wrong on the Internet. So we put up a gentle little reminder Just In Time, right above where they are typing:

Then hopefully, as Dan Ariely showed us with honesty, this little reminder will tap into people's natural reserves of friendliness and civility, so cooler heads will prevail – and a few people are inspired to get along a little better than they did yesterday. Just because you're on the Internet doesn't mean you need to be yelling at folks 24/7.

We use this same technique a bunch of other places: if you are posting a lot but haven't set an avatar, if you are adding a new post to a particularly old conversation, if you are replying a bunch of times in the same topic, and so forth. Wherever we feel a gentle nudge might help, at the exact time the behavior is occurring.

It's important to understand that we use these reminders in Discourse not because we believe people are dumb; quite the contrary, we use them because we believe people are smart, civil, and interesting. Turns out everyone just needs to be reminded of that once in a while for it to continue to be true.

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Saturday, July 12

PEAR Blog:

cweiske: PEAR 1.9.5 is out

Posted on the 12th of July at about 7PM.

The PEAR installer version 1.9.5 has been released today. The new version – three years after the last stable 1.9.4 and 2 weeks after the preview – is a bugfix only release. 13 bugs have been fixed. Among them are … Continue reading

 

Thursday, July 10

The Blasphemous Bicycler:

Adam: I am the Mapillary King of Pennsylvania!

 

Tuesday, July 8

booktwo.org:

James Bridle: Homo Sacer

Posted on the 8th of July at about 9AM.

Changelogs, holograms, and who gets killed.

 

Friday, July 4

booktwo.org:

James Bridle: On the Rainbow Plane

Posted on the 4th of July at about 1PM.

On seeing through satellites, and catching them out.

 

Tuesday, July 1

The Open Library Blog:

Jessamyn West: Open Library Scheduled Hardware Maintenance (completed)

Posted on the 1st of July at about 3PM.

Open Library will be down from 5:00PM to 7:00PM SF time (PDT, UTC/GMT -7 hours) on July 8, 2014 due to scheduled hardware maintenance. We’ll post updates here and on @openlibrary twitter. Thank you for your cooperation. UPDATE: 5:50PM PDT – the hardware maintenance is complete and openlibrary.org is back online.  

 

Sunday, June 29

booktwo.org:

James Bridle: Spectacular Sports Visualisations

Posted on the 29th of June at about 9AM.

On football, machine vision, sports and surveillance.

 

Friday, June 27

The Open Library Blog:

Jessamyn West: The Internet’s Own Boy premieres today

Posted on the 27th of June at about 9PM.

The Internet’s Own Boy, the documentary about Aaron Swartz, premieres online and in theaters today. You can watch it on the Internet Archive. From the film’s website The Internet’s Own Boy follows the story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz’s help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to […]

PEAR Blog:

cweiske: PEAR 1.9.5dev1 released

Posted on the 27th of June at about 5PM.

I’ve just released a preview of the upcoming PEAR installer version 1.9.5: PEAR 1.9.5dev1. Version 1.9.5 will be the first release of the PEAR installer since 3 years, and thus needs quite some testing before declaring it stable. Instead of … Continue reading

 

Thursday, June 19

FSF News:

US Supreme Court makes the right decision to nix Alice Corp. patent, but more work needed to end software patents for good

Posted on the 19th of June at about 9PM.

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Thursday, June 19, 2014 -- Today the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled a prominent software patent invalid in the case of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank, saying that implementing an abstract idea on a computer does not make that idea patent-eligible.

 

Wednesday, June 18

The Blasphemous Bicycler:

Adam: Sauerkraut

 

Monday, June 16

Linode Blog:

caker: 11th Linode Birthday / $10 Linode plan

Posted on the 16th of June at about 2PM.

Linode opened its doors 11 years ago today, offering virtual servers with great service, and ultimately pioneering a new industry. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. It’s been fun to reminisce through the old forum posts from those formative years like this one and this one. Many of the old posts echo the same sentiments […]

 

Thursday, June 12

The Blasphemous Bicycler:

Adam: Tuscarora in Tuscarora Part 2

Posted on the 12th of June at about 11PM.

As part of my continuing quest to hike all 798 miles of the Pennsylvania State Forest Hiking Trails System, I drove out to the Tuscarora State Forest to pick up where I left off on the Tuscarora Trail. My plan was to hike from Cowpens Road to Fenton Knob, and then turn around and hike […]

Linode Blog:

Stormy Mayersky: Summer Conferences 2014

Posted on the 12th of June at about 1PM.

Linode will be exhibiting at several upcoming conferences this summer. Stop by our booth, chat up our crew and learn all about what’s new at Linode. Check out the full list below of where our team will be and we’ll see you there!   SouthEast LinuxFest | Charlotte, NC | June 21-23 Started in 2009, […]

 

Sunday, June 8

The Blasphemous Bicycler:

Adam: Wildflowers on the AT

 

Saturday, June 7

The Blasphemous Bicycler:

Adam: Picking Strawberries

 

Monday, June 2

Open Maps:

Chris Hill: Local radio

Posted on the 2nd of June at about 10AM.

Just got a plug for OSM on BBC Radio Humberside. Maybe there's scope for more info there ...

 

Sunday, May 18

The Open Library Blog:

Jessamyn West: Resolved: Open Library unexpected downtime

Posted on the 18th of May at about 12AM.

Update: This should now be resolved. 6 pm PDT. Adobe had an unprecedented license server outage for most of the day on May 15th (PDT). Users have experienced issues checking books out of our lending library, mainly getting various Adobe errors. We are still trying to resolve the issues resulting from Adobe’s server outage and […]

 

Friday, May 16

Coding Horror:

Jeff Atwood: The Infinite Space Between Words

Posted on the 16th of May at about 8PM.

Computer performance is a bit of a shell game. You're always waiting for one of four things:

  • Disk
  • CPU
  • Memory
  • Network

But which one? How long will you wait? And what will you do while you're waiting?

Did you see the movie "Her"? If not, you should. It's great. One of my favorite scenes is the AI describing just how difficult it becomes to communicate with humans:

It's like I'm reading a book… and it's a book I deeply love. But I'm reading it slowly now. So the words are really far apart and the spaces between the words are almost infinite. I can still feel you… and the words of our story… but it's in this endless space between the words that I'm finding myself now. It's a place that's not of the physical world. It's where everything else is that I didn't even know existed. I love you so much. But this is where I am now. And this who I am now. And I need you to let me go. As much as I want to, I can't live your book any more.

I have some serious reservations about the work environment pictured in Her where everyone's spending all day creepily whispering to their computers, but there is deep fundamental truth in that one pivotal scene. That infinite space "between" what we humans feel as time is where computers spend all their time. It's an entirely different timescale.

The book Systems Performance: Enterprise and the Cloud has a great table that illustrates just how enormous these time differentials are. Just translate computer time into arbitrary seconds:

1 CPU cycle0.3 ns1 s
Level 1 cache access0.9 ns3 s
Level 2 cache access2.8 ns9 s
Level 3 cache access12.9 ns43 s
Main memory access120 ns6 min
Solid-state disk I/O50-150 μs2-6 days
Rotational disk I/O1-10 ms1-12 months
Internet: SF to NYC40 ms4 years
Internet: SF to UK81 ms8 years
Internet: SF to Australia183 ms19 years
OS virtualization reboot4 s423 years
SCSI command time-out30 s3000 years
Hardware virtualization reboot40 s4000 years
Physical system reboot5 m32 millenia

The above Internet times are kind of optimistic. If you look at the AT&T real time US internet latency chart, the time from SF to NYC is more like 70ms. So I'd double the Internet numbers in that chart.

Latency is one thing, but it's also worth considering the cost of that bandwidth.

Speaking of the late, great Jim Gray, he also had an interesting way of explaining this. If the CPU registers are how long it takes you to fetch data from your brain, then going to disk is the equivalent of fetching data from Pluto.

He was probably referring to traditional spinning rust hard drives, so let's adjust that extreme endpoint for today:

  • Distance to Pluto: 4.67 billion miles.
  • Latest fastest spinning HDD performance (49.7) versus latest fastest PCI Express SSD (506.8). That's an improvement of 10x.
  • New distance: 467 million miles.
  • Distance to Jupiter: 500 million miles.

So instead of travelling to Pluto to get our data from disk in 1999, today we only need to travel to … Jupiter.

That's disk performance over the last decade. How much faster did CPUs, memory, and networks get in the same time frame? Would a 10x or 100x improvement really make a dent in these vast infinite spaces in time that computers deal with?

To computers, we humans work on a completely different time scale, practically geologic time. Which is completely mind-bending. The faster computers get, the bigger this time disparity grows.

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Thursday, May 15

CLARE DAVIES:

Clare Davies: Interior Scene Abbotsford Sculpture Gallery 117 Vere Street Abbotsford Residency  – April/May 2014 Showing  – Friday 9th ̵

Posted on the 15th of May at about 9AM.

Interior Scene Abbotsford Sculpture Gallery 117 Vere Street Abbotsford Residency  – April/May 2014 Showing  – Friday 9th – Sunday 17th May 12-5pm  

 

Friday, April 25

Coding Horror:

Jeff Atwood: What Can Men Do?

Posted on the 25th of April at about 8AM.

(The title references Shanley Kane's post by the same name. This post represents my views on what men can do.)

It's no secret that programming is an incredibly male dominated field.

  • Figures vary, but somewhere from 20% to 29% of currently working programmers are female.

  • Less than 12% of Computer Science bachelor's degrees were awarded to women at US PhD-granting institutions in 2010.

So, on average, only about 1 out of every 5 working programmers you'll encounter will be female. You could say technology has a man problem.

In an earlier post I noted that many software developers I've known have traits of Aspergers. Aspergers is a spectrum disorder; the more severe the symptoms, the closer it is to autism. And did you know that autism skews heavily towards males at a 4:1 ratio?

Interesting. I might even go so far as to say some of those traits are what makes one good at programming.

That's the way it currently is. But is that the way it should be? I remember noticing that the workforce of the maternity ward at the hospital where our children were born was incredibly female dominated. Is there something inherently wrong with professions that naturally skew heavily male or female?

Consider this list of the most male and female dominated occupations in the Netherlands from 2004. It notes that:

In higher and academic level positions, men and women are more often represented equally. This pattern of employment has hardly changed over the last years.

Is programming a higher and academic level occupation? I'm not so sure, given that I've compared programmers to auto mechanics and plumbers in the past. And you'll notice squarely where those occupations are on the above graphs. There's nothing wrong with being an auto mechanic or a plumber (or a programmer, for that matter), but is there anything about those particular professions that demands, in the name of social justice, that there must be 50% male plumbers and 50% female plumbers?

For a counterpoint, here's a blog post from Sara J. Chipps. When I've e-mailed her in the past with my stupid questions on topics like this, she tries her best to educate me with empathy and compassion. That's why I love her.

This is an excerpt from a blog post she wrote in 2012 which answered my question:

Many people I meet ask me a variant of the question “I understand we want more women in technology, but why?” It’s a great question, and not at all something we should be offended by. Often men are afraid to ask questions like this for fear there will be backlash, and I think that fear can lead to stifling an important conversation.

Frankly, the Internet is thriving without women building it, why should that change? Three reasons:

1) Diversity leads to better products and results

As illustrated in this Cornell study along with many others, diversity improves performance, morale, and end product. More women engineers means building a better internet, and improving software that can service society as a whole. Building a better Internet is why I started doing software development in the first place. I think we can all agree this is of utmost importance.

2) The Internet is the largest recording of human history ever built

Right now the architecture for that platform is being built disproportionally by white and asian males. You’ve heard the phrase “he who writes history makes history”? We don’t yet know how this will affect future generations.

How can architecture be decidedly male? I like to refer to the anecdotal story of the Apple Store glass stairs. While visually appealing, there was one unforeseen consequence to their design: the large groups of strange men that spend hours each day standing under them looking up. As a woman, the first time I saw them I thought “thank god I’m not wearing a skirt today.” Such considerations were not taken in designing these stairs. I think it’s probable, if not easily predictable, that in a few years we will see such holes in the design of the web.

3) Women in 10 years need to be able to provide for themselves, and their families

Now, this reason is purely selfish on the part of women, but we all have mothers, and sisters, so I hope we can relate.

This year there are 6 million information technology jobs in the US, up from 628,600 in 1987 and 1.34 million in 1997. Right now jobs in technology have half the unemployment rate of the rest of the workforce. There is no sign this will change anytime soon. If growth continues at the current rate, it will not be long until women will not be able to sustain themselves if not involved in a technical field.

We have to start educating young girls about this now, or they may ultimately become the poorest demographic among us.

These are good reasons. I'm particularly fond of #1. Diversity in social perspectives is hugely valuable when building social software intended for, y'know, human beings of all genders, like Discourse and Stack Exchange. Also, I get really, really tired of all the aggressive mansplaining in software development. Yes, even my own. Sometimes it would be good to get some ladysplaining all mixed up in there for variety.

I suppose any effort to encourage more women to become software engineers should ideally start in childhood.

boy toys vs girl toys

Dolls? Pshaw. In our household, every child, male or female, is issued a regulation iPad at birth. You know, the best, most complex toy there is: a computer. And, shocker, I'm kind of weird about it – I religiously refer to it as a computer, never as an iPad. Never. Not once. Not gonna happen in my house. Branding is for marketing weasels. So the twin girls will run around, frantically calling out for their so-called "'puter". It puts a grin on my face every time. And when anything isn't here, Maisie has gotten in the habit of saying "dada chargin'". Where's the milk, Maisie? "dada chargin'".

But not everyone has the luxury of spawning their own processes and starting from boot. (You really should, though. It will kick your ass.)

What can you do?

If you're reading this, there's about an 80% chance that you're a man. So after you give me the secret man club handshake, let's talk about what we men can do, right now, today, to make programming a more welcoming profession for women.

  1. Abide by the Hacker School Rules

    Let's start with the freaking brilliant Hacker School rules. This cuts directly to the unfortunate but oh-so-common Aspergers tendencies in programmers I mentioned earlier:

    • No feigning surprise. "I can't believe you don't know what the stack is!"
    • No well-actuallys. "Well, actually, you can do that without a regular expression."
    • No back seat driving. Don't intermittently lob advice across the room.
    • No subtle sexism via public debate.

    Does any of this sound familiar? Because it should. Oh God does this sound familar. Just read the whole set of Hacker School guidelines and recognize your natural tendencies, and try to rein them in. That's all I'm proposing.

    Well, actually, I'll be proposing a few more things.

  2. Really listen. What? I SAID LISTEN.

    Remember this scene in Fight Club?

    This is why I loved the support groups so much, if people thought you were dying, they gave you their full attention. If this might be the last time they saw you, they really saw you. Everything else about their checkbook balance and radio songs and messy hair went out the window. You had their full attention. People listened instead of just waiting for their turn to speak. And when they spoke, they weren't just telling you a story. When the two of you talked, you were building something, and afterward you were both different than before.

    Guilty as charged.

    My wife is a scientist, and she complains about this happening a lot at her work. I don't even think this one is about sexism, it's about basic respect. What does respect mean? Well, a bunch of things, but let's start with openly listening to people and giving them our full attention when they talk to us – rather than just waiting for our turn to speak.

    Let's shut up and listen quietly with the same thoughtfulness that we wish others would listen to us. We'll get our turn. We always do, don't we?

  3. If you see bad behavior from other men, speak up.

    It's not other people's job to make sure that everyone enjoys a safe, respectful, civil environment at work and online.

    It's my job. It's your job. It is our job.

    There is no mythical men's club where it is OK to be a jerk to women. If you see any behavior that gives you pause, behavior that makes you wonder "is that OK?", behavior that you'd be uncomfortable with directed toward your sister, your wife, your daughter – speak up. Honestly, as one man to another. And if that doesn't work for whatever reason, escalate.

  4. Don't attempt romantic relationships at work.

    Do you run a company? Institute a no-dating rule as policy. Yeah, I know, you can't truly enforce it, but it should still be the official company policy. And whether the place where you work has this policy or not, you should have it on a personal level.

    I'm sorry I have to be that guy who dumps on true love, but let's be honest: the odds of any random office romance working out are pretty slim. And when it doesn't, how will you handle showing up to work every day and seeing this person? Will there be Capulet vs Montague drama? The women usually get the rough end of this deal, too, because men aren't good at handling the inevitable rejection.

    Just don't do it. Have all the romantic relationships you want outside work, but do not bring it to work.

  5. No drinking at work events.

    I think it is very, very unwise for companies to have a culture associated with drinking and the lowered inhibitions that come with drinking. I've heard some terrifyingly awful stories that I don't even want to link to here. Men, plus women, plus alcohol is a great recipe for college. That's about all I remember from college, in fact. But as a safe work environment for women? Not so much.

    If you want to drink, be my guest. Drink. You're a grown up. I'm not the boss of you. But don't drink in a situation or event that is officially connected with work in any way. That should absolutely be your personal and company policy – no exceptions.

There you have it. Five relatively simple things you, I, and all other working male programmers can do to help encourage a better environment for men and women in software plumbing. I mean engineering.

So let's get to it.

(I haven't listed anything here about mentoring. That's because I am an awful mentor. But please do feel free to mention good resources, like Girl Develop It, that encourage mentoring of female software engineers by people that are actually good at it, in the comments.)

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Monday, April 21

JAMES WARD: I LIKE BORING THINGS:

James Ward: BERLIN

 

Thursday, April 17

Linode Blog:

caker: The New Linode Cloud: SSDs, Double RAM & much more

Posted on the 17th of April at about 2PM.

Over the last year, and very feverishly over the past five months, we’ve been working on a really big project: a revamp of the Linode plans and our hardware and network – something we have a long history of doing over our past 11 years. But this time it’s like no other. These upgrades represent […]

 

Wednesday, April 16

Open Maps:

Chris Hill: Images to map overlays

Posted on the 16th of April at about 7PM.

I have been working on a project that needs maps to make sense of it, more of that in a later post. It is a history project for my village so I wanted to overlay maps from the 19th century and early 20th century with the modern map. The modern map is easy, I know a good contemporary map I can use. For the historical map layers I need maps laid out as tiles so I can use Leaflet to display them.

I was given a scanned map of the village dated 1824 and found another set of maps dated 1910. All of these are out of copyright, so I can comfortably use them. Scans of the 1910 maps and a lot of fiddling and joining gives me a .jpg file for the village. Now the two scans need aligning to be the same projection as the OSM map.

I chose to use Mapwarper to rectify the scans to match OSM. The process is straightforward. I uploaded the .jpg file and the site overlays it on the OSM map. You can add control points on the uploaded image and matching ones on the OSM map. The more control points you add, the better the final alignment. I used road junctions mostly as the control points, though the 1824, pre-enclosure map has far fewer roads and I had to make the most of what I could find. The image is then rectified and a GeoTIFF is available to download. A GeoTIFF is a bitmap with georeferencing information added. Once this has been downloaded it can be turned into tiles.

GDAL has a set of utilities to work with geo-data. One of these is gdal2tiles.py which is a python program to turn a GeoTIFF into a set of tiles. It creates TMS tiles, TMS stands for Tile Map Service which I think was intended to be a standard. The numbering of the Y-axis tiles is inverted compared to OSM tiles. It is easy to rename the tiles to match the OSM convention, but Leaflet (and OpenLayers) supports TMS and none-TMS layers and can use them interchangeably. 

Running gdal2tiles (e.g. gdal2tiles.py -z13-19 xxxx.tif tiledir) gives set of tiles from the GeoTIFF (xxxx.tif) for the zoom levels specified (13-19) and stores them in the directory specified (tiledir). These are now ready for use with leaflet.

I want to overlay the older maps on the modern map. All of these layers are opaque, so if the three layers are just stacked then only the last one will display as it will hide the other two. Leaflet lets you specify the opacity of a layer, so by altering that the details of each layer can be visible simultaneously.  These can then be used as the base to show an extra layer of detail, but more that another time.

I have created a simple page to show these layers. There are sliders to control the opacity. I spent a bit of time aligning the 1910 map and I'm fairly happy with the result. The 1824 map was a bit crude so I used fewer control points and the result is not as good. It is still interesting. I'm looking for any more maps of this era for my village.

Coding Horror:

Jeff Atwood: Three Things

Posted on the 16th of April at about 5PM.

I've expressed my disillusionment with to-do lists before.

But let's try something simpler, a little experiment. What do you use to keep track of what you need to do? Hold it up, so I can see it. Humor me.

Seriously! No no no, hold it closer, near the screen here. Let me look at it. Let me get a good, long look at it.

Now imagine me slapping this thing out of your hand.

don't go there

I just want to make a point, not break your fancy whatchamacallit. So pretend I slapped it into a soft fluffy pillow on the ground, not the hard concrete of the sidewalk. Though I probably should have.

Whatever that thing is, it's a crutch. You don't need it. It's hurting you more than it is helping. Get rid of it.

Instead, ask yourself this:

What three things do you need to do today?

You should be able to instantly answer this simple question, each day, every day, for the rest of your life. Without any tools other than the brain you were born with.

If you don't have this skill, develop it. Practice, starting today. Right now.

What are you doing right now? Is it going to somehow result in one of those three things getting done today? Will this you get you to where you need to be by the end of the day?

I'm not asking you to admonish yourself or to make any changes to your routine. Just keep it simple, focus on the important things, and add a little layer of awareness.

So. Two items left. I'm doing pretty good today.

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Wednesday, April 9

Linode Blog:

caker: Introducing Hourly Billing

Posted on the 9th of April at about 6PM.

Introducing hourly billing. Now you can enjoy Linode services billed in hour increments, add services to your account without needing to pre-pay, and be invoiced at the end of each month only for the hours you used. We’ve made this as simple as possible: resources are still bundled together so it’s clear what you’re getting, […]

 

Tuesday, April 8

JonBlog:

jonny: Custom terminal titles in Ubuntu

Posted on the 8th of April at about 11PM.

Having fully switched from OS X to a proper Free operating system, I’m finding there’s a few things that the new environment doesn’t quite do as I’d like. One of them is the ability to name terminals per tab in gnome-terminal, but there’s no immediate provision for it. So, I’ve written a simple PHP script […]

Linode Blog:

admin: Heartbleed OpenSSL Vulnerability

Posted on the 8th of April at about 7PM.

On April 7, 2014 a vulnerability (CVE-2014-0160, also known as “Heartbleed”) was released that could allow attackers to view sensitive information in a server’s memory such as secret keys and passwords. Given the severity of this problem, Linode has taken the necessary steps to keep our customers and their information safe from potential attacks. Am […]

 

Saturday, April 5

JonBlog:

jonny: Fully virtualising the desktop environment

Posted on the 5th of April at about 8PM.

Introduction Last year I tried running Fedora on a MacBook Pro (Intel i5 processor) to see how much pain was involved in switching to Linux completely. I was also interested to see whether using virtual machines for day-to-day tasks was feasible, via Oracle’s VirtualBox. In the end I didn’t make the switch: an idle guest […]

 

Thursday, April 3

Dave Robertson:

Dave Robertson: Sandy, Juan and I

Posted on the 3rd of April at about 6PM.

On a Monday, her basement filled with water from one of the most polluted canals in New York City. Four days earlier, Talia had been taking me on a nighttime bicycle tour of the Red Hook area of Brooklyn, on which I took this snap of the lower Manhattan skyline. At this stage we had […]

 

Tuesday, April 1

The Open Library Blog:

Anand Chitipothu: Open Library Scheduled Hardware Maintenance (Completed)

Posted on the 1st of April at about 7PM.

Open Library will be down from 5:00PM to 6:00PM SF time (PDT, UTC/GMT -7 hours) on April 1, 2014 due to a scheduled hardware maintenance. We’ll post updates here and on @openlibrary twitter. Thank you for your cooperation. UPDATE 5:23PM PDT – openlibrary.org is back online now.

Mostly Harmless:

rob: Soylent Announces New Line of GMKs

Posted on the 1st of April at about 6PM.

It gives me great pleasure to announce the first public release from Soylent X, our research arm focused on “solving the unsolvable”. After solving physical health with Soylent, we sought to tackle the elephant in the room of America’s healthcare system: mental health. Americans suffer from the highest levels of anxiety in the world. Research […]

 

Sunday, March 30

JAMES WARD: I LIKE BORING THINGS:

James Ward: CHAS AND DAVE

Posted on the 30th of March at about 12PM.

An extended version of Chas & Dave’s 1980 hit Rabbit:

 

Tuesday, March 25

The Open Library Blog:

Anand Chitipothu: Open Library Scheduled Maintenance (Completed)

Posted on the 25th of March at about 5PM.

Open Library will be down from 4:00PM to 4:30PM SF time (PDT, UTC/GMT -7 hours) on March 25, 2014 due to a scheduled hardware maintenance. We’ll post updates here and on @openlibrary twitter. Thank you for your cooperation. UPDATE 4:45PM – openlibrary.org is back online now.

 

Wednesday, March 19

Coding Horror:

Jeff Atwood: Please Read The Comments

Posted on the 19th of March at about 9PM.

I find the Don't Read The Comments movement kind of sad.

Comments sections are frequently misogynistic, homophobic, racist, and very often POORLY WRITTEN. Why bother reading them?

— Don't Read Comments (@AvoidComments) March 8, 2014

In 2006 I said that a blog without comments is not a blog and I stand behind that statement. There have been brief periods where my own blog has been temporarily without comments, but they will always come back as long as I'm in charge here.

I'm a fan of comments, warts and all. They're noisy, sure, but in my experience they reliably produce crowdsourced knowledge in aggregate. I understand being pressed for time, but if you want the complete picture, in the same way that you should follow all those little citation links in Wikipedia articles, you should read the comments.

I empathize with the complaint, believe me:

I used to believe that as an online writer, I had an obligation to read the comments. I thought that it was important from a fact-checking perspective, that it somehow would help me grow as a writer. What I’ve learned is that if there’s something wrong or important or even, sometimes, good about a story, someone will let you know. I’ve over the years amassed an amazing community of Salon readers who engage via email, who challenge me, who inspire new stories, who are decent people and treat me like one in return. What I was getting in the comments was a lot of anonymous “You suck, bitch.”

I admit it’s depressing for one who’s invested almost her entire career in online community to throw in the towel on it in this way. I want it to be better. But it’s just not. As a colleague once observed, “I just can’t take another letter from Angry Bad Divorce Guy.”

But that's so many pesky words, isn't it? TL;DR. Allow me to illustrate with a graph that your brain can absorb in milliseconds:

comments and esteem for humanity

What is wrong with people, amirite?

I humbly submit that this is asking the wrong question.

What is wrong with us?

I agree with Anil Dash. If your website is full of assholes, it's your fault.

As it turns out, we have a way to prevent gangs of humans from acting like savage packs of animals. In fact, we've developed entire disciplines based around this goal over thousands of years. We just ignore most of the lessons that have been learned when we create our communities online. But, by simply learning from disciplines like urban planning, zoning regulations, crowd control, effective and humane policing, and the simple practices it takes to stage an effective public event, we can come up with a set of principles to prevent the overwhelming majority of the worst behaviors on the Internet.

If you run a website, you need to follow these steps. if you don't, you're making the web, and the world, a worse place. And it's your fault. Put another way, take some goddamn responsibility for what you unleash on the world.

In other words, if you are unwilling to moderate your online community, you don't deserve to have an online community. There's no end of websites recreating the glorious "no stupid rules" libertarian paradise documented in the Lord of the Flies in their comment sections, from scratch, each and every day. This ends exactly as you would expect it to.

Libertarians make bad lifeguards

However, demanding that every online community, every comment section, have active moderation is a tough sell:

  • Skilled moderators are difficult to find. A bad moderator is often worse than no moderator.
  • Do you have the budget to pay full time moderators?
  • Are your moderators around 24/7?
  • If you have a single moderator making unilateral decisions, who appeals their decisions? If you have multiple moderators, how do they resolve disagreements?
  • What happens when your moderators inevitably burn out or move on?

One of the reasons I launched the Discourse project was due to the utter lack of understanding of how you build software to help online discussion communities moderate themselves. Their survival depends on it.

What I learned building Stack Overflow, more than anything else, is this: the only form of moderation that scales with the community is the community itself. We became quite skilled at building systems for self governance of online communities, and one of the things I'm proudest of is that – if we did our jobs well – decades from now Stack Exchange will still be a network of viable, functioning, entirely self-governing communities.

It's always a people problem. This is absolutely true. But it's also true that software can profoundly affect people's behavior, and provide tools for encouraging positive behaviors while modifying and mitigating negative behaviors. All that stuff Anil Dash described as your responsibility? Discourse handles it automatically, even if the owner installs and then walks away forever.

These are the principles of civilized discourse that Discourse is founded on, that our discussion software is designed around. Civilization begins with software that actively works to help you create safe environments for having reasonable conversations with other human beings. On the Internet, even!

discourse

This is all a very long winded way of saying that effective immediately, Coding Horror is using Discourse to power its discussions.

You may have questions, so I will attempt to answer them:

  • This blog is now hosted on Ghost, which doesn't natively support comments. All previous TypePad comments were converted into Discourse. To the best of our ability, nothing was lost.

  • Discourse is still beta, but late beta. Expect changes and improvements as we make our way to 1.0.

  • Discourse is a companion area to this blog, a clubhouse for the community. You can visit there directly at discourse.codinghorror.com

  • Every new blog post here results in a corresponding topic being automatically created in the Discourse discussion area.

  • I do not, and will not, offer in-page commenting here. If you want to reply with a comment, you go next door to the community clubhouse. There's a fairly strong, but permeable, membrane between the editorial area here and the community area there. This is intentional.

  • At the bottom of each blog entry here you will find read only versions of all replies to the Discourse topic associated with this blog entry. I might eventually switch that to a "best of" algorithm so readers see the best comments without having to wade through dozens or hundreds of replies.

If you like what you see, Discourse is 100% free open source software, so you can easily set up the same system for your own blog. We even have a WordPress plugin to assist.

Now who's ready for some dogfooding?

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JAMES WARD: I LIKE BORING THINGS:

James Ward: AIRFIX

Posted on the 19th of March at about 1PM.

Never go on holiday with the people from Airfix, they don’t seem to go to very nice places.

 

Monday, March 17

Coding Horror:

Jeff Atwood: The Trap You Set For Yourself

Posted on the 17th of March at about 7AM.

The Dan Ariely books Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality profoundly influenced the way I design my massively multiplayer typing games. These books offer science in the small about human behavior, and stark insights into user behavior — and by that I mean our own behavior.

The Long Goodbye

All detectives are by definition students of human nature. As the famous fictional detective Philip Marlowe is fond of noting:

There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself.

We're born pretty darn great at lying to ourselves, and we get progressively better and better at it the older we become. In software development terms, every user lies.

We become experts at lying to ourselves to avoid being functionally crippled on a daily basis by the ongoing fears that:

  • your work does not matter.

  • your life does not matter.

  • nobody cares about you.

  • you aren't good enough.

  • you aren't smart enough.

  • gosh darn it, people don't like you.

Thus, lying to yourself is part of the human condition. Otherwise nobody would be able to get out of bed in the morning.

However, if you have daily internal struggles with self doubt and indecision, you are almost certainly not going to achieve your mission, whatever it may be. I have found that, to a disturbing degree in this world, you have to believe your own hype to succeed.

Unfortunately, this is something that men are better than women at.

And it looks to me like women in general, and the women whose educations I am responsible for in particular, are often lousy at those kinds of behaviors, even when the situation calls for it. They aren’t just bad at behaving like arrogant self-aggrandizing jerks. They are bad at behaving like self-promoting narcissists, anti-social obsessives, or pompous blowhards, even a little bit, even temporarily, even when it would be in their best interests to do so. Whatever bad things you can say about those behaviors, you can’t say they are underrepresented among people who have changed the world.

So how exactly do you suppress your self doubt without eventually becoming an overbearing, axe-grinding … male … zealot? Or, even worse, a character from The Wolf of Wall Street?

One of the odder asides in The Upside of Irrationality is about the 1995 movie First Knight. Which is quite frankly terrible. Don't see it. I'm not even going to link to it. But you should watch the first few minutes of this particular swordfight scene that Ariely highlights:

Mark: How did you do that? How did he do that? Was that a trick?

Lancelot: No. No trick. It's the way I fight.

Mark: Could I do it? Tell me. I can learn.

Lancelot: You have to study your opponent, how he moves, so you know what he's going to do before he does it.

Mark: I can do that.

Lancelot: You have to know that one moment in one fight, when you win or lose. And you have to know how to wait for it.

Mark: I can do that.

Lancelot: And you have to not care whether you live or die.

Mark: (stunned silence)

The way Lancelot motivates himself to get past self-doubt in combat is not to care whether he lives or dies.

I don't mean this in the glib way of saying you should stop caring what anyone else thinks. Obviously we care what other people think. Not caring what other people think of us and what we do is the path of the narcissist, the sociopath, and the insane. That's giving up.

As Ariely says:

Lancelot fights better than anyone else because he found a way to bring the stress of the situation to zero. If he doesn’t care whether he lives or dies, nothing rides on his performance. He doesn’t worry about living past the end of the fight, so nothing clouds his mind and affects his abilities — he is pure concentration and skill.

The opinions of other people matter, but they are the traps we set for ourselves. To get past our collective prison of self doubt – am I doing the right thing? Do I even know what the right thing is any more? – concentrate on the daily routine of doing what you enjoy, what you believe in, what you find intrinsically satisfying.

This is what your life is: whatever it is you get up to do every single day. Stop stressing out about the long term stuff and focus on improving that, and you too might eventually find you don't want to live forever.

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Sunday, March 16

JAMES WARD: I LIKE BORING THINGS:

James Ward: MONOCLE

Posted on the 16th of March at about 1AM.

I attempted to speak in coherent sentences to Georgina Godwin at Monocle 24 about Boring:

 

Saturday, March 15

JonBlog:

Jon: The charity-mugger phenomenon

Posted on the 15th of March at about 3PM.

There is a rule of street fundraising that surely has parallels in the physical sciences. You find a charity mugger, pop them in an excessively luminous T-shirt to match their personality, and stand them in a sea of shoppers on a Saturday high-street. Powered by some alien intuition lurking in the moving throng, the “chugger” […]

 

Thursday, March 13

JAMES WARD: I LIKE BORING THINGS:

James Ward: CHIP AND PIN

Posted on the 13th of March at about 1PM.

Over the last couple of months, my debit card has become increasingly unreliable. It’s become slightly bent and the chip is slightly scratched. It’s not completely unusable. It probably works about 75% of the time in cash machines, and those times when a cash machine rejects it, if I try again with the same machine, it normally accepts it the … Continue reading 

 

Tuesday, March 11

booktwo.org:

James Bridle: #Rorschcam NYC

Posted on the 11th of March at about 3PM.

A hello present to New York City

 

Thursday, March 6

JAMES WARD: I LIKE BORING THINGS:

James Ward: A CONVERSATION

Posted on the 6th of March at about 6PM.

I had an email conversation with Leila Johnston about putting on events. Leila publishes the quarterly Hack Circus magazine and organises events around the theme of each issue (the next event is on March 15th and is about reality). I organise Boring and write this blog, but you probably know that already. LJ: So, events. Why do we keep doing them? … Continue reading 

 

Monday, March 3

Mostly Harmless:

rob: Platonic Payments

Posted on the 3rd of March at about 7PM.

Paying is strange. Consider the following exchange:         Me: Hello unfamiliar person. I would like to give you some fiat currency in exchange for the goods and / or services you provide.         Clerk: Splendid! Let me just whip out this large, obnoxiously bright, unwieldy machine and get the banks involved in our newfound relationship.         Me: That […]

 

Tuesday, February 25

Open Maps:

Chris Hill: Signed at last

Posted on the 25th of February at about 7PM.

I went out to buy some seeds for the allotment today. On the way home deliberately drove home down Hawthorn Avenue in Hull to see the point where Woodcock Street joins it.

I have written to Hull City Council traffic department a few times in the past about that junction. Woodcock Street runs from Hawthorn Avenue to St Georges Road. Hawthorn Avenue has a 30 mph and St Georges Road has a 20 mph limit. There was no speed limit sign at either end of Woodcock Street nor at any point along it, so from St Georges Road you would assume it to be a 20 mph road but from Hawthorn Avenue you would assume it to be a 30 mph road and if you drove onto St Georges Road you would also expect it to be 30 mph until you see a repeater for 20 mph.

Woodcock Street has been part of the substantial redevelopment in the Hawthorn Avenue area, much of which is still under way though Woodcock Street looks to be pretty complete. The council have put a cherry on it by erecting a 20 mph sign at the Hawthorn Avenue end to remove any doubt.

Well done Hull City Council, eventually.

 

Sunday, February 23

tom m wilson:

Tom Wilson: A Journey Across Sri Lanka.

Posted on the 23rd of February at about 11AM.

I’ve spend the day hanging out of the door way of a train travelling across the mountains, hills and plains of Sri Lanka. This morning we got on the station at Ella in the highlands and this afternoon we will be in Colombo. Many English poets have written poems about passing moments on train platforms, [...]

 

Friday, February 21

tom m wilson:

Tom Wilson: The man in the hills.

Posted on the 21st of February at about 2PM.

Ella is a small village, mainly catering to the tourist trade these days. It is in the high country but not as high or bleak at Nurwa Eliya. The landscape is green and fecund here, and the pace of life is slow. We’re staying in a family homestay place, upstairs in a clean and well [...]

 

Thursday, February 20

Dave Robertson:

Dave Robertson: Screws and Cheap Tricks in Rockford Illinois

Posted on the 20th of February at about 3PM.

Rockford, Illinois, was once the world’s largest manufacturer of screws, but following the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994, most of its manufacturing sector bolted out of town (pardon the pun). According to one estimate, the agreement led to a net lose of 682,900 jobs across the U.S. Here in Australia, it is […]

 

Wednesday, February 19

tom m wilson:

Tom Wilson: A note for shameless tea drinkers.

Posted on the 19th of February at about 3AM.

The British love of a cup of tea dates back to the 1600s among the aristocracy, but was widespread among the working class by the end of the nineteenth century. The humble cup of tea at an English vicarage can be analyzed as reshaping huge swathes of the earth, moving Tamil workers from India to [...]

 

Tuesday, February 18

tom m wilson:

Tom Wilson: Udawalawe National Park

Posted on the 18th of February at about 3AM.

A herd of wild buffalo relax in a waterhole as the sun came up yesterday morning in Udawalawe National Park, southern Sri Lanka.  They lolled, snorted and sighed, huge horns glistening in the sun.  In the centre and slightly to the left of this photo a lone jackal cruises looking for an unprotected calf. Udawalawe [...]

 

Monday, February 17

tom m wilson:

Tom Wilson: Travelling Sri Lanka 2014, Part Three

Posted on the 17th of February at about 10AM.

As the afternoon lengthened we visited the Gal Viharaya Buddha stone sculptures at Polonnaruwa. The land around is so green and gentle in this region of the island: central, around 100 metres altitude, and generous rainfall. And to be by the giant reclining stone Buddha (14 m long) and the giant sitting Buddha just near [...]

 

Sunday, February 16

tom m wilson:

Tom Wilson: Traveling Sri Lanka 2014, Part Two

Posted on the 16th of February at about 3AM.

This morning we rose very early to visit Jetavanaramaya.  This stupa is the largest – by volume – of any structure from the ancient world.  It is 122 metres tall, and in the early morning light it was quite a sight. The lush green field was capped by the floating dome over the tree tops [...]

 

Saturday, February 15

tom m wilson:

Tom Wilson: Traveling Sri Lanka 2014, Part One

Posted on the 15th of February at about 4AM.

  I’ve been moving through Sri Lanka for a week now and thought I’d communicate some impressions.  Colombo is where travelers arrive.  Colombo, looking back, is not a charismatic city.  I saw more men than women on the streets during the day, and after sunset it was rare to see a single women on the [...]

 

Saturday, February 1

Open Maps:

Chris Hill: Visualising changes

Posted on the 1st of February at about 9PM.

When someone edits OSM their changes get rendered quickly so they can see their handiwork. That's really good feedback and is valuable in attracting new mappers. When it comes to checking what has changed in an area, just looking at the rendered map is rarely enough to spot any changes. Looking at changesets is the next option.

Changesets were introduced with the API version 0.6. They group together edits by a mapper made over a short period of time. They can be open for up to 24 hours, but changesets are normally closed within an hour of being created and often changesets are opened, edits uploaded to the API and the changeset closed within seconds. Changesets have a bounding box that covers the area the edits are made in. You can request a list of changesets from the API that cover a specific bounding box. Edits by a mapper are normally wrapped in a changeset that covers a small area, but some edits range across very large areas even across the whole world. These are known as big edits. These are usually some sort of mass-edit or bot edit. These will show up in a request for changesets even though no actual changes are made in the requested area.

Looking at changesets can be useful, but apart from trying to work out which of the so-called big edits to ignore, there's the bigger problem of knowing what has actually changed. If you see an added node or way that's easy, but the modified nodes or ways is a bit harder to understand and looking at some relations can be a long job to work out the changes. Has a node been moved? Has a way's nodes been moved? Has a way had nodes removed or added? Has a node or way had its tags changed? Is there some combination of all this?  Deleted nodes and ways are also a bit of a problem as they no longer render and seeing what has gone can be hard to visualise, especially as some people delete a way and add a new one to replace it, losing the way's history. What would be nice is to see a before and after view of a changeset.

I looked at the problem, initially for nodes and ways, and quickly realised that the way the API delivers information about ways makes things harder than you'd want. When you request the details of a way from the API it returns the way with attributes like ID, version, changeset etc, a list of tags and a list of nodes as node ids. This fine for the current state of the way. The nodes in the list are the most recent version of the node. You need the nodes to find the geometry of the way as longitude and latitude are only stored on nodes. As soon as you look at an older version of a way the list of nodes is suddenly not clear at all. Which version of each node does it refer to?

I think the timestamp on each API object can be used to work out which version of a node matches each version of a way. That assumes that I have, or download, all of the versions of every node in the area I'm interested in. Another idea is to store the data for the area I'm interested in from a snapshot, such as Geofabrik's, and apply every changeset for the area on from there. In that way I could store the geometry of the way with the way rather than in nodes, which sounds much more practical. I can then show the before and after view of every changeset, but only from the date of my snapshot and only if I apply every changeset. I'll think about this some more.

 

Sunday, December 29

JonBlog:

Jon: Tech predictions for 2014

Posted on the 29th of December at about 5PM.

Just recently, I came across a list of my NY resolutions from a year or two ago, and it was fun to see how many I’d accomplished (around half, not bad). So, this year I’ll make a couple of techie predictions, and add on some geek resolutions too. Here’s what I’d like to see in […]

 

Saturday, December 21

Dave Robertson:

Dave Robertson: Colorado Contrails and Cowboys

Posted on the 21st of December at about 4AM.

Steady progress with gentle rocking around gradual bends along scenic river valleys. Room to stretch legs, move about and socialise with fellow passengers. There is much to recommend about long-distance train travel. On the first leg of my American rail journey, along the superlative Washington coast, I had the good fortune to sit next to […]

 

Wednesday, December 18

booktwo.org:

James Bridle: Planespotting

Posted on the 18th of December at about 5PM.

Watching the deportation flights.

 

Sunday, December 15

JonBlog:

Jon: Utility/broadband usage scanner

Posted on the 15th of December at about 11AM.

I’ve written a simple PHP script to keep an eye on mobile internet usage, and have open-sourced it under a MIT license for anyone who wants to have a play. It scrapes account data from a provider’s website and stores that data in a local SQLite database. This mini-project gave me an opportunity to play […]

 

Wednesday, December 11

booktwo.org:

James Bridle: Surveillance Spaulder

Posted on the 11th of December at about 2PM.

A wearable CCTV detector, with shocking results.

 

Monday, December 9

Open Maps:

Chris Hill: Storm surge

Posted on the 9th of December at about 9PM.

Last week the geography, planetary alignment and weather combined to cause misery to hundreds of families around Britain.

Tides around Britain naturally have a big range, the second highest tidal range in the world is in the Bristol Channel in Britain's south west. Tides vary depending on the alignment of the sun and moon, when the Sun and Moon are at the same side of the Earth (new moon) or opposite sides of the Earth (full moon) the tides are higher than when they are not in alignment. The highest tides are called spring tides, whatever time of year they occur.

The North Sea is roughly V-shaped, getting much narrower at the southern end. Last week a storm swept across the country, driving very strong winds from the north east down the North Sea coast forcing water in the sea towards the narrow part. The storm was, as usual, a deep low pressure system. With the low pressure over the sea, the water level will rise in a so-called storm surge.

The spring tide, the storm surge and the extra water blown down the North Sea created a lot of water pushing up against sea defences along the North Sea coast, particularly the southern end. In addition the waves thrown up by the stormy winds made topping the sea walls inevitable. Flooding followed.

Earlier this year I surveyed a new, small road close to the Humber Bridge, Wintersgill Place. Sadly the road was flooded. The houses now look finished, but there are three for-sale signs and one sold sign for the six houses. I wonder just how planning permission was granted for these houses when the area is clearly a flood risk. Now the small field next to these new houses is also set to be developed.

I tried to look at the local council's forward planning map to see if they agree that the area is a flood risk. The map was curiously off-line over the period of the storm and just after. Now it has lost the most detailed zoom level and the newly built houses are not on the map at all. I hope the planners have better information available, but since they have allowed houses to be built that have flooded before they were even sold, maybe they don't.

 

Friday, December 6

booktwo.org:

James Bridle: DIY Drone Shadows

Posted on the 6th of December at about 3PM.

A Drone Shadow for Dirty Wars, a projection, and a how-to guide.

 

Tuesday, December 3

booktwo.org:

James Bridle: Anatomy of a failed rendition

Posted on the 3rd of December at about 12PM.

Private jets, aircraft tracking, and the deportation of Isa Musawa.

 

Wednesday, November 27

Open Maps:

Chris Hill: Using Leaflet with a database

Posted on the 27th of November at about 2PM.

The previous two posts created a map with markers. The marker information was stored in a fixed geojson file. For the few markers that don't change much this is fine, but it would be much more flexible if the markers were in a database. If there are a large number of markers, say thousands, browsers might slow down showing them, even though many might not actually be visible. One way to help with this is to work out which markers would be visible in the current view and only show them. To do this we need to use some features of Leaflet and introduce Ajax. We will also need to store the marker information in a database, write some code to extract it and format it into the geojson format that we know works so well.

Ajax is a means of exchanging data between the client browser and the server without forcing a page reload. I tend to use jQuery to simplify the process of using Ajax and jQuery ensures that the process works on a wide range of browsers. We will request some data from the server with Ajax which can return data in a json format, which works with geojson too.

In the examples so far the files from the server have been simple files, not needing scripting or a database. In my examples I'm using PHP for script and MySQL for the database as this is a very common combination available from many hosts. In the GitHub repository there is a SQL file, plaques.sql, you can use to create a table called plaques in a MySQL database and import the same data that we have seen already.

To extract the data from the database we'll use a PHP script. It needs to receive a request for the bounding box and it will extract that, format the geojson result and return it to the client. The client then can display the markers. If the user scrolls the map or changes the zoom then a new Ajax request will get the markers that are in the new view and display them. This isn't really needed for the seventy or so markers in this example but it is very useful for a large number of markers.

Let's start with the PHP script to extract the data:


// uncomment below to turn error reporting on
ini_set('display_errors', 1);
error_reporting(E_ALL);

/*
 * ajxplaque.php
 * returns plaque points as geojson
 */

// get the server credentials from a shared import file
$idb= $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT']."/include/db.php";
include $idb;

if (isset($_GET['bbox'])) {
    $bbox=$_GET['bbox'];
} else {
    // invalid request
    $ajxres=array();
    $ajxres['resp']=4;
    $ajxres['dberror']=0;
    $ajxres['msg']='missing bounding box';
    sendajax($ajxres);
}
// split the bbox into it's parts
list($left,$bottom,$right,$top)=explode(",",$bbox);

// open the database
try {
    $db = new PDO('mysql:host=localhost;dbname='.$dbname.';charset=utf8', $dbuser, $dbpass);
} catch(PDOException $e) {
    // send the PDOException message
    $ajxres=array();
    $ajxres['resp']=40;
    $ajxres['dberror']=$e->getCode();
    $ajxres['msg']=$e->getMessage();
    sendajax($ajxres);
}

//$stmt = $db->prepare("SELECT * FROM hbtarget WHERE lon>=:left AND lon<=:right AND lat>=:bottom AND lat<=:top ORDER BY targetind");
//$stmt->bindParam(':left', $left, PDO::PARAM_STR);
//$stmt->bindParam(':right', $right, PDO::PARAM_STR);
//$stmt->bindParam(':bottom', $bottom, PDO::PARAM_STR);
//$stmt->bindParam(':top', $top, PDO::PARAM_STR);
//$stmt->execute();


try {
    $sql="SELECT plaqueid,lat,lon,plaquedesc,colour,imageid FROM plaques WHERE lon>=:left AND lon<=:right AND lat>=:bottom AND lat<=:top";
    $stmt = $db->prepare($sql);
    $stmt->bindParam(':left', $left, PDO::PARAM_STR);
    $stmt->bindParam(':right', $right, PDO::PARAM_STR);
    $stmt->bindParam(':bottom', $bottom, PDO::PARAM_STR);
    $stmt->bindParam(':top', $top, PDO::PARAM_STR);
    $stmt->execute();
} catch(PDOException $e) {
    print "db error ".$e->getCode()." ".$e->getMessage();
}
   
$ajxres=array(); // place to store the geojson result
$features=array(); // array to build up the feature collection
$ajxres['type']='FeatureCollection';

// go through the list adding each one to the array to be returned   
while ($row = $stmt->fetch(PDO::FETCH_ASSOC)) {
    $lat=$row['lat'];
    $lon=$row['lon'];
    $prop=array();
    $prop['plaqueid']=$row['plaqueid'];
    $prop['plaquedesc']=$row['plaquedesc'];
    $prop['colour']=$row['colour'];
    $prop['imageid']=$row['imageid'];
    $f=array();
    $geom=array();
    $coords=array();
   
    $geom['type']='Point';
    $coords[0]=floatval($lon);
    $coords[1]=floatval($lat);
   
    $geom['coordinates']=$coords;
    $f['type']='Feature';
    $f['geometry']=$geom;
    $f['properties']=$prop;

    $features[]=$f;
   
}
   
// add the features array to the end of the ajxres array
$ajxres['features']=$features;
// tidy up the DB
$db = null;
sendajax($ajxres); // no return from there

function sendajax($ajx) {
    // encode the ajx array as json and return it.
    $encoded = json_encode($ajx);
    exit($encoded);
}
?>



This is called ajxplaques.php in the folder ajax on the server, available in the GitHub repository.  The script needs a query string with bbox= in it. This defines the west,south,east and north longitude and latitude that bounds the current view of the map. It then queries the database for these items and returns the geojson of these limited markers. If the bounding box (BBOX) is big enough then all the markers will be returned and if the BBOX contains no markers then none are returned and that is fine too. I'm using MySQL and ignoring GIS functions as selecting points is quick and easy. If I was extracting polygons and using a powerful GIS database such as PostrgreSQL with the PostGIS extension then I would consider using a GIS function to find the polygons that intersect the BBOX.

To call the script from the JavaScript (example3.js) I use the ajax functions that are part of jQuery:

function askForPlaques() {
    var data='bbox=' + map.getBounds().toBBoxString();
    $.ajax({
        url: 'ajax/ajxplaques.php',
        dataType: 'json',
        data: data,
        success: showPlaques
    });
}


This creates the query string by using map.bounds() and formats into the format we need with toBBoxString(). The $.ajax() function uses the query string, requests json (of which geojson is just a special case) and will call the function showPlaques() when the data is returned.

function showPlaques(ajxresponse) {
    lyrPlq.clearLayers();
    lyrPlq.addData(ajxresponse);
}


The showPlaques() function is called when the data is returned from the script. The geojson data is in the ajxresponse. We delete all of the existing markers with clearLayers() and add the new data to the geojson layer. To trigger this process we need to call askForPlaques() every time the view of the map changes. We can ask the map object to trigger an event whenever this occurs. So after the map is displayed we add

map.on('moveend', whenMapMoves);

This calls the function whenMapMoves() when the event is triggered. That function simply calls  askForPlaques() to get the correct data for the view.

Two more things have changed. Firstly, when the geojson layer is created no data is added - it is called with null - so the plaques.js is not used at all. When the map is first displayed we need to call askForPlaques() once to get the first set of markers before the map is moved.

Now we have a much more dynamic map, using data from a database and potentially using a part of thousands of markers without overloading the browser.

 

Thursday, November 21

Open Maps:

Chris Hill: Using Leaflet part 2

Posted on the 21st of November at about 10PM.

In the last post I described how to create a map with markers on it. I'm going to build on this to make some improvements. Firstly, the default markers are useful but it would be good to have some alternatives. I copied the example1.htm, .js and .css files to example2.x and made some changes there. I created three images which are blue, green and white disks and saved them in the images folder. To use these images we need to create a Leaflet Icon for each marker type. The variables used to store the Icon objects are declared in the global area and then the Icon is created before anything else is created so it is available whenever we need it.

    blueicon=L.icon({
        iconUrl: 'images/blueplaque.png',
        iconSize:[24, 24], // size of the icon
        iconAnchor:[12, 23] // point of the icon which will correspond to marker's location
    });
    greenicon=L.icon({
        iconUrl: 'images/greenplaque.png',
        iconSize:[24, 24], // size of the icon
        iconAnchor:[12, 23] // point of the icon which will correspond to marker's location
    });
    whiteicon=L.icon({
        iconUrl: 'images/whiteplaque.png',
        iconSize: [24, 24], // size of the icon
        iconAnchor:[12, 23] // point of the icon which will correspond to marker's location
    });


The icons use the images from the images folder. The icon anchor is important to make a marker work well especially when zooming. If your marker seems to slide around as you zoom in or out you probably don't have the anchor set correctly. It defaults to [0,0] which is top left and rarely what you want.

In the last example we used events to add popups to each markers, here we want to substitute the markers, so we need to change the behaviour, but not much. When we create the geojson layer we need to remove the onEachFeature and replace it with pointToLayer:

  lyrPlq = L.geoJson(plaques, {
        pointToLayer: setIcon
        }
    );


The pointToLayer event allows you to provide the marker you want to display for each feature. The function you define, setIcon in this case, gets passed the feature and the position that the marker need to be as a leaflet LngLat object. In the function you create a marker or some other Leaflet object and return that. Leaflet adds what you return to the layer.

function setIcon(feature,ll) {
    var plq;
    if (feature.properties.colour=='green') {
        plq=L.marker(ll, {icon: greenicon});
    }
    else if (feature.properties.colour=='white') {
        plq=L.marker(ll, {icon: whiteicon});
    }
    else {
        plq=L.marker(ll, {icon: blueicon});
    }
    plq.bindPopup(feature.properties.plaquedesc);
    return p;
}


In this case we use one of the properties, colour, to choose the marker to display. We now need to add the popup to our newly created marker and return the marker for Leaflet to use.

You can see an example here. The source code is on GitHub.

More examples to come ...

Open Maps:

Chris Hill: Using Leaflet v0.7

Posted on the 21st of November at about 3PM.

The Leaflet JavaScript library has changed the way OpenStreetMap is being used, making it easy to use and offering all kinds of additional features and functions as plug-ins. I blogged about Leaflet soon after it was first released and that post has been read by a lot of people and has generated more comments than any other. Leaflet version 0.7 has just been released and when I was asked about using it I realised that my original post was badly out of date. I decided to use some local data to describe using Leaflet, including some plug-ins. I decided to use jQuery for a few features. It is widely used and is cross-platform, just like Leaflet. The jQuery files are in a folder called jquery, and the Leaflet files are all in a folder called leaflet.

All the example files are in a GitHub repository: http://github.com/chillly/plaques

Leaflet displays a slippy map in an HTML div. It uses JavaScript to control the way the map behaves. The style, as you would expect, is controlled by CSS. Our first example displays a base map with an overlay of markers on it to show where blue plaques are around the UK city of Hull.  Take a look here. The HTML is really straightforward, take a look in the GitHub repository above.

In the head section there is a style sheet for leaflet (leaflet.css) and a script (leaflet.js). These are used in every example. I have also included leaflet-hash.js which is an example of a Leaflet plug-in. I like to store CSS and JavaScript in separate files, not in the HTML file, so I have also included example1.css and example1.js. The JavaScript names plaques.js holds the locations of the plaques to display, formatted as a geojson file. The CSS simply makes the div, with the id “mapdiv”, fill the page. The real work is in the javascript:


/* 
* global variables 
*/ 
var map; // global map object 
var lyrOsm; // the Mapnik base layer of the map 
var lyrPlq; // the geoJson layer to display plaques with 

// when the whole document has loaded call the init function 
$(document).ready(init);

function init() { 
  // map stuff 
  // base layer 
  var osmUrl='http://{s}.tile.openstreetmap.org/{z}/{x}/{y}.png';
  var osmAttrib='Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors';
  lyrOsm = new L.TileLayer(osmUrl, { minZoom: 9, maxZoom: 19, attribution: osmAttrib });

  // a geojson 
  layer lyrPlq = L.geoJson(plaques,{ 
    onEachFeature: makePopup
    } 
  ); 

  // set the starting location for the centre of the map 
  var start = new L.LatLng(53.7610,-0.3529); 
  
  // create the map 
  map = new L.Map('mapdiv', { // use the div called mapdiv 
    center: start, // centre the map as above 
    zoom: 12, // start up zoom level 
    layers: [lyrOsm,lyrPlq] // layers to add
   }); 

  // create a layer control 
  // add the base layers 
  var baseLayers = { "OpenStreetMap": lyrOsm }; 

  // add the overlays 
  var overlays = { "Plaques": lyrPlq }; 

  // add the layers to a layer control 
  L.control.layers(baseLayers, overlays).addTo(map); 

  // create the hash url on the browser address line 
  var hash = new L.Hash(map);


function makePopup(feature, layer) { 
  // create a popup for each point 
  if (feature.properties && feature.properties.plaquedesc) {
    layer.bindPopup(feature.properties.plaquedesc);
  } 
}

The file starts with global variables. The map variable is the core of Leaflet, any name would do, but it is called map by convention. The map has two layers, one to display the base map and one to show the markers. These are defined by two variables lyrOsm and lyrPlq.

The first use for jQuery is:

    $(document).ready(init);

This means that when the document is completely loaded and ready call the function init. Doing this is very useful as on a slow link, such as some mobile connections. It makes sure that all of the elements of the page are available before trying to use them.

The init function needs to create the layers, create the map itself and add the layers to the map. We need two different layers one is the base layer which is a set of square tiles  that Leaflet requests from the provider and arranges in the right place. We need to tell the layer where to get the tiles from, in this case the main OSM tile server.

    var osmUrl='http://{s}.tile.openstreetmap.org/{z}/{x}/{y}.png'; 
We also need to add attribution – all OSM-based maps need attribution as part of the licence to use the data.

    var osmAttrib='Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors';

The tile provider may also require or request attribution. In one of the later examples will will use a different tile provider with a different attribution. We can now make a layer:

lyrOsm = new L.TileLayer(osmUrl, {
    minZoom: 9,
    maxZoom: 19,
    attribution: osmAttrib
});


This creates the layer of tiles, from the tile provider, which will zoom out only to zoom level 9 and in to level 19 and add the attribution to the bottom right of the map, by default.

We also need a layer to display the plaque markers. In the HTML a file called plaques.js was loaded. That contains a geojson format file which we will use in a geojson layer. Geojson is a very useful format that I use frequently and is supported well by Leaflet. Geojson allows a variety of objects to be passed to Leaflet for displaying, including points, lines, multiple lines, polygons and multipolygons and these can be mixed together as needed. With a simple set of points the loaded file can be simply used as a layer. The file plaques.js creates a variable called plaques that can be used directly:

    lyrPlq = L.geoJson(plaques, {
        onEachFeature: makePopup
        }
    );


The onEachFeature is an example of responding to an event. In this case as each feature of the geojson file is added the function makePopup is called. This allows us to use one of the properties in each feature in the geojson file to be used to make a popup if the marker is clicked.

We now create a LatLng object to use to centre the map and then the map object is created:

map = new L.Map('mapdiv', {        // use the div called mapdiv
    center: start,                   // centre the map as above
    zoom: 12,            // start up zoom level
    layers: [lyrOsm,lyrPlq]        // layers to add
});


This creates the map, centres it, zooms to level 12 and adds the two layers we created above.

That would be enough to create a slippy map, but I added a couple of extra features which are often useful. The first is a layers control which allows the layers on the map to be selected and hidden. There are two types of layer a base layer and an overlay and we have one of each. The two layers are created, with names that will appear in the layer control, and the control is then created with the layers added and then added to the map.

The last feature is a leaflet plug-in. I added the leaflet-hash.js file to the leaflet folder and loaded it in the HTML. The hash plug-in changes the URL displayed in the browser address line as the map is scrolled and zoomed so the address can always be used as a bookmark. It replaces the permalink used on earlier versions. A simple line adds the plug-in to your map.

Following posts will show how to change the icons that appear, customise the popup, use database data to display the markers, deal with a large number of markers including clustering them and how to respond to click or tap in other ways than just displaying a popup.

 

Wednesday, November 20

Mostly Harmless:

rob: High Frequency Dating

Posted on the 20th of November at about 9PM.

The other day I realized there was something missing in my life, so I set out to find a solution. Online dating is in vogue, which makes sense. The internet already has no small part in satisfying most of my other needs. I was pleased to learn that the latest popular dating app, Tinder, now has […]

 

Tuesday, November 12

Mostly Harmless:

rob: Motherboard / Vice Soylent Video

Posted on the 12th of November at about 9PM.

cross-posted here: http://blog.soylent.me/post/66807143901/this-morning-vices-brian-merchant-published-a in regards to the Vice / Motherboard piece here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8NCigh54jg This morning, Vice’s Brian Merchant published a documentary video and accompanying article that outlined his experience living off Soylent exclusively for thirty days, several months ago.  Brian sought to recreate the scrupulous conditions of my initial Soylent test. Though the overall tone of the article […]

 

Wednesday, October 23

Mostly Harmless:

rob: Soylent Funding Announcement

Posted on the 23rd of October at about 7AM.

Cross-posted from the Soylent company blog at http://blog.soylent.me/post/64789154918/soylent-funding-announcement It gives me great pleasure to announce that we have accepted over $1.5 million in seed capital from Andreessen Horowitz, Lerer Ventures, Hydrazine Capital, and Initialized Capital. This is in addition to the now over $1.5 million in pre orders our Crowdhoster campaign has collected since May. […]

 

Thursday, September 5

Mostly Harmless:

rob: The Whole Food Fallacy

Posted on the 5th of September at about 6PM.

This is a response to: http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2013/08/20/soylent/, as well as some of the comments In 1828, a young organic chemist named Friedrich Wöhler committed heresy.  Wöhler accidentally synthesized Urea, a component of many lifeforms, from inorganic components. At the time everyone knew there was a special “life force” that separated organisms from other matter. It was a […]

Dave Robertson:

Dave Robertson: Ok Cello – The Portland Cello Project Does Ok Computer

Posted on the 5th of September at about 3PM.

It was the reason I bought my first reggae album, and for those who know me that is no mean feat. I had always thought reggae sounded like the musicians couldn’t get the beat right, and it was called the “off” beat for a very good reason. But let’s go back to the Grammy Awards […]

 

Monday, September 2

CLARE DAVIES:

Clare Davies: BRIGHT LIGHTS SMALL CITY 20 September – 12 October 2013 Opening 19 September 6pm Artist Talks 21 September 3pm + 5 October 3pm Buratti

Posted on the 2nd of September at about 12PM.

BRIGHT LIGHTS SMALL CITY 20 September – 12 October 2013 Opening 19 September 6pm Artist Talks 21 September 3pm + 5 October 3pm Buratti Fine Art North Fremantle WA AMOK ISLAND, HANNAH JONES, CLAIRE BUSHBY, COURTNEY ILLFIELD, CLARE DAVIES CHERISH MARRINGTON, W J FERRIER, MIMI CHO, CLAIRE MARTIN, LISA KYLE, KIMBERLEY PACE, CHLOE TINE, KATE […]

 

Sunday, August 11

stonewaves.net:

Stone: Three Daze South – on Youtube!

Posted on the 11th of August at about 1AM.

Hiya, Check out; A 6 minute snippet of our trip to the South Coast. (For best viewing select the highest quality setting (720p HD – at bottom of viewing pane) and view in full screen.) Ahhh…winter waves….. Sweet. Later, Stone.

 

Tuesday, August 6

Danny O'Brien's Oblomovka:

Danny O'Brien: On the Thoughts of Chairman Bruce

Posted on the 6th of August at about 5PM.

So I’m reading the latest missive from Chairman Bruce Sterling about Snowden and Assange, and even though I have some history with the guy, I’m clapping along, because he always writes a fine barnstormer. Then, like Cory, I get pulled up by this bit. He’s reeling off a list of names, from 7iber to Bytes [...]

 

Sunday, August 4

Dave Robertson:

Dave Robertson: Deviant Yoga and a Sex Positive Culture

Posted on the 4th of August at about 9AM.

Laughter, ruff, verbal, shadow, juicy… Many words have been used to prefix yoga. When I saw Deviant Yoga advertised in Seattle I decided to give it a go. My travel-weary body needed a good stretch, plus a friend and I were curious to check out the venue, the Center for a Sex Positive Culture  There […]

 

Monday, July 8

Dave Robertson:

Dave Robertson: CDless in Seattle and why MP3 sucks

Posted on the 8th of July at about 2PM.

I like Seattle. It has the friendly, progressive port thing going on that reminds me of Freo. In the leafy suburb known locally as “The People’s Republic of Fremont”, there is a statue of Lenin, a troll under a bridge, and a musical instrument store called Dusty Strings. It was the perfect place to consummate […]

 

Sunday, June 30

Dave Robertson:

Dave Robertson: What has Dave been up to?

Posted on the 30th of June at about 2PM.

This website is in the stages of reconstruction. Enjoy the content, but come back soon to see it in full bloom.

 

Friday, June 28

Mostly Harmless:

rob: Nothing to Fear

Posted on the 28th of June at about 6PM.

Our world has gotten more complex, but it is safer than it has ever been. Paradoxically, it seems people are less comfortable than ever. Cancer is the new communist. It's in everything new that we don't understand. My mother is afraid of her microwave. Watching network news is gruesome. People overpay for food of inferior […]

 

Tuesday, June 18

Release notes from semver:

Haacked: v2.0.0: Merge pull request #120 from mojombo/release-2.0

 

Sunday, June 16

stonewaves.net:

Stone: GILI T..!!!!!!

Posted on the 16th of June at about 7AM.

  Greetings friends, Well, time continues to tick…. funny that…. We just got back recently from 2 weeks in Bali/Gili Trawangan – a little island off Lombok.  It was a family affair as the better half, the kids and I … Continue reading

 

Friday, June 7

Danny O'Brien's Oblomovka:

Danny O'Brien: PRISM, Verizon: Surprise!

Posted on the 7th of June at about 12AM.

Someone in another forum was asking his friends whether they were surprised by the new revelations about US surveillance, and whether they thought there was a collective will to battle it. After the stream of “no and no” responses, I ended up saying this. I deal with this material every day, and while what I [...]

 

Tuesday, May 21

Mostly Harmless:

rob: In Defense of New Food

Posted on the 21st of May at about 6PM.

Over the past few months I've gotten to engage with a lot of picky thinkers regarding soylent. I think people tend to make up their minds quite quickly, and then proceed to defend their snap judgments. As Stephen Pinker says, the mind is more of a spin doctor than a commander-in-chief, and it can be […]

 

Saturday, May 4

Danny O'Brien's Oblomovka:

Danny O'Brien: Virtual subdomains for open webapps

Posted on the 4th of May at about 4PM.

I’ve been playing around with Firefox’s open web app designs recently. I hadn’t quite realised before that if you have Firefox on Android and your PC, you can run their webapps on FirefoxOS, Android and the desktop, which is pretty impressive. Their payment and push notification infrastructure is exciting too. One small gotcha is that [...]

Danny O'Brien's Oblomovka:

Danny O'Brien: The Calculation Problem

Posted on the 4th of May at about 3AM.

I love how the Web is an unfinished work made of unfinished works. Here’s one more for you: an old beginning to a story I never wrapped up, based on an alternative future in which Cyril Parkinson worked on artificial intelligence, Harold Wilson stayed a civil servant statistician, and Cecil King’s 1968 request that Mountbatten [...]

 

Thursday, April 25

Mostly Harmless:

rob: Soylent Month Three

Posted on the 25th of April at about 7PM.

After three months I should be finding deficiencies, and I did. I started having joint pain and found I fit the symptoms of a sulfur deficiency. This makes perfect sense as I consume almost none, and sulfur is a component of every living cell. Sulfur is hard to miss in a typical diet so the […]

 

Tuesday, April 16

The Open Library Blog:

Anand Chitipothu: Open Library Scheduled Downtime (Completed)

Posted on the 16th of April at about 1PM.

Open Library will be down from during the following time due to a scheduled power outage. Tuesday, April  16 – 7:00AM to 12:00 noon Wednesday, April 17 – 2:00PM to 7:00PM Thank you for your cooperation.  UPDATE 5:30PM PST: openlibrary.org is back online.

 

Tuesday, April 9

Mostly Harmless:

rob: What’s In a Tomato

Posted on the 9th of April at about 6AM.

What a strange state of affairs that we know the precise chemical makeup of distant stars yet we don't really know what's in our food most of the time. What makes a meal, and what makes it healthy, or unhealthy? I have decided to break down one of my favorite foods and try to look […]

 

Sunday, March 17

CLARE DAVIES:

Clare Davies:                   OPPOSING FORCES 24 April – 12 May 2013 opening 6 – 8pm,  24 April c3 Con

Posted on the 17th of March at about 9AM.

                  OPPOSING FORCES 24 April – 12 May 2013 opening 6 – 8pm,  24 April c3 Contemporary Art Space Abbotsford Convent Foundation 1 St Heliers St. Abbotsford VIC 3067 Australia www.c3artspace.blogspot.com

 

Saturday, February 2

CLARE DAVIES:

Clare Davies: What it means to be human Penny Bovell Clare Davies Isabel Davies Domenico de Clario Tom Gibbons Bevan Honey Ben jones Jeremy Kirwan-Ward Ak

Posted on the 2nd of February at about 6AM.

What it means to be human Penny Bovell Clare Davies Isabel Davies Domenico de Clario Tom Gibbons Bevan Honey Ben jones Jeremy Kirwan-Ward Akio Makagawa Mary McLean Kathleen O’Connor Curated by André Lipscombe Fremantle Arts Centre Sat 2 February–Sun 24 March 2013 Opening Fri 1 February, 6:30pm    

 

Sunday, January 13

Danny O'Brien's Oblomovka:

Danny O'Brien: He was funny

Posted on the 13th of January at about 12AM.

It was in the main room of CCC in 2006, and Aaron and Peter and I had just had a wide-ranging discussion on Wikipedia’s WP:AUTO guidance that people shouldn’t edit their own Wikipedia pages. For pernickety rule-followers with bad faith motives, it was trivially circumventable, of course: one could simply enter a pact to edit [...]

 

Monday, October 8

stonewaves.net:

Stone: Alive & Kickin….. just

Posted on the 8th of October at about 2AM.

Hey peeps, What a busy year! – Seems like 6 months has passed in 3 days… weird.. Good news is that I’m still here and getting motivated to finish off the next movie (hopefully by December) and get into some … Continue reading

 

Wednesday, September 12

Danny O'Brien's Oblomovka:

Danny O'Brien: touch of the galois

Posted on the 12th of September at about 6AM.

As you will no doubt already know, there’s been a lot of talk in the last few days about a potential proof of the abc conjecture. I just gave up my last professional non-fiction writing gig last week, which means that I no longer have any obligation to explain to you what that is, or [...]

 

Saturday, August 11

tom m wilson:

Tom Wilson: Paleo Therapy

Posted on the 11th of August at about 7AM.

Currently I’m interested in the evolutionary context of human movement and psychology. I believe that stress reduction in modern Western society can be achieved through moving for pleasure in wild natural environments for regular, if brief, periods. We are stone age children born to twentieth century mothers, and I believe that understanding our past can [...]

 

Sunday, July 22

Danny O'Brien's Oblomovka:

Danny O'Brien: if the 3.4.1 Debian wheezy gnome-shell starts up slowly for you

Posted on the 22nd of July at about 2AM.

I love titles like that. Anyway, I am intensely enjoying being back in Debian-space, and I am slowly accreting small mechanisms of usefulness around me. Vim keystrokes are bleeding out everywhere. My caps lock is now a Meta key, and springs up little windows when I dance on it. I still quite like Gnome 3, [...]

 

Friday, May 25

Danny O'Brien's Oblomovka:

Danny O'Brien: NTK, Fifteen Years On

Posted on the 25th of May at about 6PM.

Give or take a few days, it was fifteen years ago that I hit send on the first official issue of NTK. I was hiding out at a start-up called Virgin Internet, trying to work out how to bring Usenet to the masses, or something. I added people to the mailing list by hand, but [...]

 

Tuesday, March 27

John Kozubik:

John Kozubik: With friends like these...

Posted on the 27th of March at about 4AM.

I have been an EFF supporter for a very long time and am excited about the work that they do. To a lesser degree, I am interested in, and support sister organizations of the EFF, such as Electronic Frontier Finland....

 

Sunday, March 11

stonewaves.net:

Stone: The Pot of Gold at the end of the r..ough bush track…….

Posted on the 11th of March at about 6AM.

Yep. It’s out there. Recently I was lucky enough to be down in the ‘deep south’. I haven’t really looked around much down there – usually I’ll stick to the south west corner, Margs etc… It’s a bit more predictable… … Continue reading

 

Thursday, February 23

stonewaves.net:

Stone: Life….!

Posted on the 23rd of February at about 3AM.

Life!  Blink, and you miss it!… or so they say… Yep, it’s been busy lately but hopefully soon I can show you some of the designs I have been working on. Hope you’re all happy and healthy, whoever you are!, … Continue reading

 

Wednesday, February 15

Danny O'Brien's Oblomovka:

Danny O'Brien: reality distortion field lensing

Posted on the 15th of February at about 10PM.

I think about Steve Jobs these days on average about once a day. I’d like to pretend I think about Apple, because I could then say that it’s because I’m pondering the future of the post-PC world, and get to stroke my chin in a punditly fashion, but it’s mostly about Steve Jobs. One of [...]

 

Friday, February 10

CLARE DAVIES:

Clare Davies: Window 24HR Art – Northern Territory Centre for Contemporary Art Darwin NT 0801 – AUSTRALIA Vimy Lane, Parap Shopping Village te

Posted on the 10th of February at about 4AM.

Window 24HR Art – Northern Territory Centre for Contemporary Art Darwin NT 0801 – AUSTRALIA Vimy Lane, Parap Shopping Village tel + 61 8 8981 5368 10.2.12 – 10.3.12 http://www.24hrart.org.au/

 

Sunday, February 5

tom m wilson:

Tom Wilson: Goodbye

Posted on the 5th of February at about 3AM.

This is my last blog post for a long time, maybe forever. I began this site in 2005, with help from my brother. Thanks for all your help Sam. That year I finished writing my PhD. In 2006 I started writing a blog, and for the next six years I regularly contributed images and words [...]

 

Tuesday, January 24

PEAR Blog:

doconnor: What would you do with 5 million lines of code?

Posted on the 24th of January at about 2PM.

Since October 2011, 5 million lines of the PEAR codebase has shifted to github. Hand in hand with this shift has been the tireless work of Daniel C – someone who brazenly said “I will fix the failing packages!” in … Continue reading

 

Tuesday, January 17

Danny O'Brien's Oblomovka:

Danny O'Brien: some rambling conversations I’ve had on moving from MacOS to Debian

Posted on the 17th of January at about 3AM.

When the magic smoke escapes Drunkenly confessing all with Brady Forrest last week: “I’ve done an insane thing. I’m abandoning my nice MacOS laptop for Debian.” “Was it Lion for you too?” Liz has a Macbook Air, and loves Lion. I bought and installed it on my Macbook Pro when it came out. It has [...]

 

Sunday, December 18

PEAR Blog:

doconnor: Welcome to new contributors

Posted on the 18th of December at about 11AM.

With the PEAR move to github surpassing 200 repositories, we’re seeing more contributions from folks lurking in the shadows. In particular I’d like to highlight the efforts of meldra and Gemorroj. With XML_Feed_Parser hosted on github, Meldra has been able to provide … Continue reading

 

Thursday, December 15

CLARE DAVIES:

Clare Davies: The Conservatorium Co-Curators Renae Coles & Anna Dunnill Jan 27 – Feb 5, 2012 Paper Mountain 267A William St Northbridge, upsta

Posted on the 15th of December at about 7AM.

The Conservatorium Co-Curators Renae Coles & Anna Dunnill Jan 27 – Feb 5, 2012 Paper Mountain 267A William St Northbridge, upstairs Perth Fringe World                 http://papermountaincollective.wordpress.com/ http://theconservatoriumproject.com/

 

Friday, November 25

Release notes from semver:

mojombo: v1.0.0-rc.1

Posted on the 25th of November at about 10PM.

Move pre-release and build sections to last position.

 

Thursday, November 24

stonewaves.net:

Stone: Ahh, summer….

Posted on the 24th of November at about 1AM.

Yep. Summer. It’s upon us. It’s weird. As I get older I tend to dred those 40 degree days when it’s too hot to even walk down the beach to the water. Or, if I forget to take the cover … Continue reading

 

Sunday, November 6

PEAR Blog:

doconnor: PEAR Development on Github

Posted on the 6th of November at about 12AM.

Like many other projects, many components of PEAR have started a migration to github. We have two primary organisations set up for PEAR and PEAR2. While the existing PEAR packages will continue to use the pear.php.net distribution and bug tracking … Continue reading

 

Monday, October 31

PEAR Blog:

doconnor: Newly stable packages in PEAR

Posted on the 31st of October at about 12AM.

We’ve had 60 releases since July. While most are often minor improvements or bug fixes; a number of packages really stand out. Net_DNS2, and HTTP_Request2. Each of these packages represents the second edition of their respective APIs; each having been … Continue reading

 

Thursday, September 15

stonewaves.net:

Stone: Still Alive!

Posted on the 15th of September at about 12AM.

Heya everyone! Yep, it’s been awhile between drinks here but I’m still alive and kicking… The footy season has finally finished for my team – we made the grand final only to go down to a better side in Scarborough … Continue reading

 

Wednesday, September 7

Release notes from semver:

mojombo: v1.0.0

Posted on the 7th of September at about 6AM.

Make patch/minor version resetting explicit.

 

Saturday, July 9

PEAR Blog:

doconnor: PEAR in July 2011

Posted on the 9th of July at about 2PM.

There’s nothing quite like having your blogging system go MIA for a while to give your community an overwhelming impression that no one is home. Thankfully; despite the radio silence between updates there’s quite a lot to talk about! We’ve … Continue reading

 

Friday, June 17

stonewaves.net:

Stone: Just One Of Those Daze…

Posted on the 17th of June at about 4AM.

Saturday, 11th June 2011. The surf report was nothing too exciting. A long period 2.2meter SW swell and a gusty 20 knot NEasterly but it was my first Saturday off from playing footy so it was worth the punt. A … Continue reading

 

Wednesday, June 8

Release notes from semver:

mojombo: v1.0.0-beta

Posted on the 8th of June at about 7AM.

Fix link to GitHub project.

 

Thursday, May 5

stonewaves.net:

Stone: Aotearoa – The Land of the Long White Cloud…

Posted on the 5th of May at about 6AM.

Kiaora friends!, Wow. You really don’t know what exhaustion is until you’ve travelled abroad with 2 kids under 2 years of age! But don’t get me wrong, what an adventure – I think we’ve all gained so much from 3 … Continue reading

 

Thursday, March 17

CLARE DAVIES:

Clare Davies: Island Life Venn Gallery 16 Queen Street Perth, WA 6000 Australia 6.5.11 – 3.6.11

Posted on the 17th of March at about 11PM.

Island Life Venn Gallery 16 Queen Street Perth, WA 6000 Australia 6.5.11 – 3.6.11

CLARE DAVIES:

Clare Davies: Joondalup Festival Joondalup Festival Art Trail Grand Boulevard and Boas Street 26th 27th March 2011

Posted on the 17th of March at about 11PM.

Joondalup Festival Joondalup Festival Art Trail Grand Boulevard and Boas Street 26th 27th March 2011

 

Wednesday, December 8

John Kozubik:

John Kozubik: Peak Internet

Posted on the 8th of December at about 6PM.

In light of current events, I think it is time to begin discussing "Peak Internet" in the same way that we discuss "Peak Oil" or "Peak Credit". The last two weeks have included Comcast potentially de-peering due to end user...

 

Tuesday, November 16

CLARE DAVIES:

Clare Davies: Impressions 2010 limited edition prints by contemporary artists 6-8pm Friday 3 December 2010 – 12 February 2011 AUSTRALIAN PRINT WORKS

Posted on the 16th of November at about 2AM.

Impressions 2010 limited edition prints by contemporary artists 6-8pm Friday 3 December 2010 – 12 February 2011 AUSTRALIAN PRINT WORKSHOP GALLERY 210 Gertrude Street Fitzroy VIC link here

 

Thursday, September 16

John Kozubik:

John Kozubik: Ignoring The Kill Switch

Posted on the 16th of September at about 6PM.

And so, in Q1 of 2011, rsync.net will provide a wireless private network at each of its physical locations (San Diego California, Denver Colorado, Zurich Switzerland, and Hong Kong) which will allow customers to physically approach the datacenter and access their stored data without traversing The Internet. This will ensure that bad policy will have to enter the stone age to keep you from accessing your data.

 

Saturday, August 14

PEAR Blog:

doconnor: PEAR in August

Posted on the 14th of August at about 4PM.

What’s the pear project been up to recently? We’ve been fairly quiet, launching pear2 and pyrus into the line up, welcoming new faces to the QA team, Jesús Espino, and getting ready to call an election for the new pear … Continue reading

 

Friday, August 6

John Kozubik:

John Kozubik: The Warrant Canary in 2010 and Beyond

Posted on the 6th of August at about 10PM.

We have been publishing our Warrant Canary weekly at rsync.net for almost five years now. We are happy to report that in this time, no warrants of any kind have been served to us.

 

Friday, June 25

John Kozubik:

John Kozubik: Moving (back) to the Finder

Posted on the 25th of June at about 11PM.

I've been running an HTPC of some kind or another for almost ten years now, and my user interface has finally come (almost) full circle.

 

Saturday, May 29

PEAR Blog:

cweiske: Google code channels work again

Posted on the 29th of May at about 6AM.

The recent problems regarding the usage of PEAR channels hosted in google code SVN repositories has been fixed on both sides! PEAR 1.9.1 is out! Continue reading

 

Monday, May 10

CLARE DAVIES:

Clare Davies: City of Joondalup Invitation Art Award Survey Ellenbrook Arts February  2011 link here City of Joondalup Invitation Art Award 14 – 30 Oct

Posted on the 10th of May at about 12PM.

City of Joondalup Invitation Art Award Survey Ellenbrook Arts February  2011 link here City of Joondalup Invitation Art Award 14 – 30 October 2010 Lakeside Joondalup Shopping City Joondalup Perth WA link here

 

Tuesday, March 23

PEAR Blog:

cweiske: PEAR channels on google code currently broken

Posted on the 23rd of March at about 3PM.

PEAR channels hosted on google code (like the unofficial Smarty channel, unofficial Zend Framework channel and the unofficial Mediawiki channel) are currently broken. The reason for it has been discovered in the corresponding bug report: HTTP requests containing a port … Continue reading

 

Thursday, February 18

John Kozubik:

John Kozubik: Git and Subversion Support at rsync.net

Posted on the 18th of February at about 10PM.

At long last, git is supported at rsync.net.

 

Saturday, December 12

John Kozubik:

John Kozubik: Google DNS

Posted on the 12th of December at about 10PM.

I believe that Google will begin delivering search results based not only on PageRank but an amalgam of PageRank and other, increasingly "out of band" information.

 

Thursday, November 19

John Kozubik:

John Kozubik: Making the Mac more like Ion

Posted on the 19th of November at about 8AM.

For ten years - roughly 1999 through 2009 - all of my personal workstations ran the Ion window manager on top of X Windows (on FreeBSD, FWIW). (actually, it was ratpoison at first...)

 

Friday, November 6

John Kozubik:

John Kozubik: Flat Rate Storage Services vs. rsync.net

Posted on the 6th of November at about 8PM.

One of the most common pre-sales questions we get at rsync.net is: "Why should I pay a per gigabyte rate for storage when these other providers are offering unlimited storage for a low flat rate?" The short answer is: paying a flat rate for unlimited storage, or transfer, pits you against your provider in an antagonistic relationship. This is not the kind of relationship you want to have with someone providing critical functions.

 

Saturday, October 24

John Kozubik:

John Kozubik: SwissDisk Doubles Down

Posted on the 24th of October at about 8PM.

We'd heard of SwissDisk here at rsync.net, but they rarely showed up on our radar screen. We were reminded of their existence a few days ago when their entire infrastructure failed. It's unclear how much data, if any, was eventually lost ... but my reading of theirannouncement makes me think "a lot". I'm commenting on this because I believe their failure was due to an unnecessarily complex infrastructure. Of course, this requires a lot of conjecture on my part about an organization I know little about ... but I'm pretty comfortable making some guesses.

 

Tuesday, June 30

Dave Robertson:

Dave Robertson: Coral Coast Tour

 

Tuesday, October 14

Dave Robertson:

Dave Robertson: Nannup

Posted on the 14th of October at about 5AM.

I’m excited to be on the bill for next year’s Nannup Music Festival which also features Michelle Shocked and Lior. It will hopefully be the first gig at which my new album will be available. Recording of the album will commence in December and feature some fantastic musicians including Mel Robinson, Ben Franz, Sian Brown, […]