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Newsfeeds from around the industry
Geeking with Greg


  • Quick links
    What caught my attention lately:
    • Great idea for walking directions: "At times, we do not [want] the fastest route ... When walking, we generally prefer tiny streets with trees over large avenues with cars ... [We] suggest routes that are not only short but also emotionally pleasant." ([1] [2] [3])

    • Cool idea for a drone that autonomously flies a small distance above and behind you while filming in HD ([1] [2])

    • "OkCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing. Neither does any other website. It’s not like people have been building these things for very long, or you can go look up a blueprint or something. Most ideas are bad. Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out." ([1] [2])

    • "Amazon’s cloud revenue now runs almost on par with VMware (VMW), which posted revenue of $5.2 billion last year" ([1])

    • Walmart is getting more aggressive about competing with Amazon on personalization and recommendations ([1])

    • It's important to realize that Amazon could have been a small bookstore on the Web ([1])

    • A lot of us thought the Amazon logo was phallic when it was introduced (worse, it was animated and actually grew from left-to-right). Remarkably, it's lived on for 14 years now. ([1])

    • A big problem with layoffs is not only do you lose some of the people you intended to layoff, but also some of your best employees will pick that time to leave. People with good options won't wait around to experience the chaos and fear; they'll just leave. ([1])

    • "A brand-name USB stick [claims to be] a computer keyboard [device] ... [and then] opens a command window on an attached computer and enters commands that cause it to download and install malicious software." ([1])

    • Financial services and poor computer security: "Our assumption was that, generally speaking, the financial sector had its act together much more" ([1] [2])

    • "NSA employees [were] passing around nude photos that were intercepted in the course of their daily work" ([1] [2])

    • Google Cloud googler says, "It should always be cheaper to run in the cloud no matter what your workload" but that the pricing isn't there yet ([1])

    • Details on Google's remarkably large and fast data warehouse ([1] [2])

    • Cool augmented reality game intended to be played as a passenger in a moving car that creates the terrain and enemies you see in the game based on the stores and buildings around you in the real world ([1])

    • "Astronomers of the 2020s will be swimming in petabytes of data streaming from space and the ground ... [such as] a 3,200-megapixel camera, which will produce an image of the entire sky every few days and over 10 years will produce a movie of the universe, swamping astronomers with data that will enable them to spot everything that moves or blinks in the heavens, including asteroids and supernova explosions." ([1])

    • Data are or data is: "'datum' isn't a word we ever use. So it makes no sense to use the plural when the singular doesn't exist." ([1])

    • The "If Google was a guy" series from CollegeHumor is hilarious (but probably NSFW) ([1] [2] [3])

    • Funny Dilbert comics on a Turing test for management ([1] [2])

    • Cathartic Xkcd comic on defending your thesis ([1])


  • More quick links
    More of what caught my attention lately:
    • Crazy cool and the first time I've seen ultrasound used for device-to-device communication outside of research: "Chromecast will be able to pair without Wi-Fi, or even Bluetooth, via an unusual method: ultrasonic tones." ([1])

    • A 3D printer that can print in "any weldable material" including titanium, aluminum, and stainless steel ([1])

    • "You teach Baxter [an inexpensive industrial robot] how to do something by grabbing an arm and showing it what you want, sort of like how you would teach a child to paint" ([1])

    • When trying to use the wisdom of the crowds, you're better off using only the best part of the crowd. ([1])

    • "Americans now appear to trust internet news about as much as newspapers and television news ... not because confidence in internet news is rising, but because confidence in TV news and newspapers has plummeted over the years." ([1])

    • "Microsoft is basically 'done' with Windows 8.x. Regardless of how usable or functional it is or isn't, it has become Microsoft's Vista 2.0 -- something from which Microsoft needs to distance itself." ([1])

    • Google Flights now lets you see everywhere you can fly out of a city (including limiting to non-stops only) and how much it would cost ([1] [2] [3] [4])

    • "Entering the fulfillment center in Phoenix feels like venturing into a realm where the machines, not the humans, are in charge ... The place radiates a non-human intelligence, an overarching brain dictating the most minute movements of everyone within its reach." ([1])

    • Google's location history feature is both fascinating and frightening. If you own an Android device, go to location history, set it to 30 days, and see the detail on where you have been. While it's true that many have this kind of data, it may surprise you to see it all at once.

    • "Vodafone, one of the world's largest mobile phone groups, has revealed the existence of secret wires that allow government agencies to listen to all conversations on its networks, saying they are widely used in some of the 29 countries in which it operates in Europe and beyond." ([1])

    • Many "users actually do not attach any significant economic value to the security of their systems" ([1] [2])

    • "Ensuring that our patent system 'promotes the progress of science,' rather than impedes it, consistent with the constitutional mandate underlying our intellectual property system" ([1])

    • Smartphones may have hit the limit on how much improvements to screen resolution matter, meaning they will have to compete on other features (like sensors or voice recognition) ([1])

    • "Project Tango can see the world around it in 3D. This would allow developers to make augmented-reality apps that line up perfectly with the real world or make an app that can 3D scan an object or environment." ([1])

    • The selling point of smartwatches is paying $200 to not have to pull your phone out of your pocket, and that might be a tough sell. ([1])

    • "As programmers will tell you, the building part is often not the hardest part: It's figuring out what to build. 'Unless you can think about the ways computers can solve problems, you can't even know how to ask the questions that need to be answered'" ([1])

    • "[No] lectures, discussion sections, midterms ... a pre-test for each subject area ... given a mentor with a graduate degree in the field ... [and] textbooks, tutorials, and other resources. Eventually, they're assessed on how well they understand the concepts." ([1])

    • "A naked mole rat has never once been observed to develop cancer" ([1])

    • Hilarious Colbert Report on the Hachette mess, particularly loved the bit on "Customers who enjoyed this also bought this" at 3:00 in the video ([1])

    • Humor from The Onion: "We want $100 from you, so we’re just going to take it. As a cable subscriber, you really have no other option here" ([1])

    • Humor from the Borowitz Report: "It never would have occurred to me that an enormous corporation with the ability to track over half a billion customers would ever exploit that advantage in any way." ([1])


  • Quick links
    What caught my attention lately:
    • Fun data: "How to tell someone's age when all you know is her name" ([1])

    • "The possibility of proper tricorder technology in the future, scanning a bit of someone's blood and telling you if they have any diseases or anomalous genetic conditions" ([1])

    • Will self-driving vehicles appear first in trucking? ([1])

    • "Apple's moves into the world of fashion and wearable computing" ([1])

    • "Few people try to or want to use tablets like laptops" ([1] [2])

    • "While managers do indeed add value to a company, there’s no particular reason to believe that they add more value to a company than the people who report to them ... [You want] an organization where fairly-compensated people work together as a team, rather than trying to work out the best way to make money for themselves at the expense of their colleagues." ([1])

    • "Each meeting ... spawns even more meetings ... The solution ... reduce default meeting length from 60 to 30 minutes ... limit meetings to seven or fewer participants ... agendas with clear objectives ... materials ... distributed in advance .. on-time start ... early ending, especially if the meeting is going nowhere ... remove ... unnecessary supervisors." ([1])

    • Fun article on the history of the modern office: "The cubicle was actually intended to be this liberating design, and it basically became perverted" ([1])

    • "We were wrong about the first-time shoppers. They did mind registering. They resented having to register when they encountered the page. As one shopper told us, 'I'm not here to enter into a relationship. I just want to buy something.'" ([1])

    • Private investment in broadband infrastructure is actually dropping in the US ([1])

    • "Not only are packets being dropped, but all those not being dropped are also subject to delay. ... They are deliberately harming the service they deliver to their paying customers ... Shouldn't a broadband consumer network with near monopoly control over their customers be expected, if not obligated, to deliver a better experience than this?" ([1])

    • Fascinating data on cancer shows a surprising lack of linear relationship between aging and cancer ([1] [2])

    • "A wayward spacecraft ISEE-3/ICE was returning to fly past Earth after many decades of wandering through space. It was still operational, and could potentially be sent on a new mission, but NASA no longer had the equipment to talk to it ... crowdfunding project ... commandeer the spacecraft ... awfully long shot ... They are now in command of the ISEE-3 spacecraft." ([1])

    • I love the caption on this comic: "Somebody please do this and post it on YouTube so I can live vicariously through your awesomeness." ([1])

    • Hilarious SMBC comic on privacy and technology ([1])

    • Great SMBC comic: "Wanna play the Bayesian drinking game?" ([1])

    • Hilarious John Oliver segment on net neutrality ([1]) directs people to FCC website to comment, crashing FCC website ([2])

    • Very funny, from The Onion: "New Facebook Feature Scans Profile To Pinpoint Exactly When Things Went Wrong" ([1])


  • Project Euler and blending math and computer science for education
    Project Euler is a simple and surprisingly good educational tool for a blend of computer science and math. Highly recommended.

    You are given a problem (good examples: [1] [2] [3] [4]), go off and work on it in whatever programming language you like using whatever tools you like, and submit your answer (multiple submissions allowed). Simple, but surprisingly fun and interesting.

    It's been around for a while (since 2006), and, though I've looked at it a few times, I only recently got addicted to it. It's not, as I first thought, just a series of interview-style coding questions, but a much more interesting set of deeper challenges in math that require programming to explore and solve. It's a great way to refresh on math and fun too.

    Honestly, I can't say enough good things about it. I've blown hundreds of hours on some addictive video game before, addicted to the point that it occasionally interferes with work and sleep even, and this has the same feel. It's a great little educational tool and fun as well.

    Definitely worth a look. Seems like it'd work for older teenagers too if you're looking for a summer project for a teen that already has some programming skill.

  • More quick links
    More of what has caught my attention lately:
    • Excellent history of Google's love-hate relationship with management (hint: it's mostly hate) ([1])

    • Excellent BBC documentary on Amazon.com, plenty of fun historical tidbits, quite critical in parts, very well done ([1])

    • Excellent charts on the history of wealth concisely summarizing three centuries ([1])

    • Compelling example of virtual tourism ([1])

    • Visually stunning math concepts which are easy to explain ([1])

    • "The most interesting things are happening at the intersection of two fields" ([1])

    • "The largest driver of Facebook’s mobile revenue is app-install ads ... largely purchased by free-to-play game publishers such as King (maker of Candy Crush Saga) and Big Fish Games (the Bejeweled series) ... to target the small percentage of players who will spend hundreds of dollars on in-app purchases." ([1] [2])

    • "When you subtract out the value of Yahoo's stake in Alibaba, the rest of Yahoo is worthless. Indeed, it has negative worth." ([1] [2] [3])

    • "Newspaper print ad revenue has declined 73% in 15 years" ([1])

    • "Microsoft is backtracking on practically every part of the Windows 8 interface that developers abhorred" ([1] [2] [3] [4])

    • Survivor bias in perceptions of startup life and what might be closer to reality: "It's a decision to throw away a large chunk of your precious youth at a venture which is almost certain to fail" ([1] [2])

    • "Many hospitals in the US still use Windows XP on workstations and healthcare devices" ([1])

    • "It's no longer realistic to think that routers, DVRs, or other Internet-connected home appliances aren't worth an attacker's time ... poorly designed 'Internet of Things' devices ... [are] particularly easy to hack" ([1])

    • Newegg exec on patent trolls: "Why those asshats continue to trade at ANY value, I do not know. The world would be a better place without them." ([1])

    • I still don't understand why more tech companies don't provide free food ([1] [2])

    • Humor: "The pain of being the only engineer in a business meeting" ([1])


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