Rants & Ramblings

random commentary about culture, media, politics, technology and whatnot.

technology

aug
06
2012

How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking | Wired

Mat Honan writes, “In the space of one hour, my entire digital life was destroyed. First my Google account was taken over, then deleted. Next my Twitter account was compromised, and used as a platform to broadcast racist and homophobic messages. Here’s the story of exactly how my hackers created havoc by exploiting Apple and Amazon security flaws.”

apr
02
2012

You’re Listening To A Music Instrument Made Of Jell-O | Co.Design

Mark Wilson writes, “Noisy Jelly is a project by Raphaël Pluvinage and Marianne Cauvard, two students at L’Ensci Les Ateliers. They experiment with agar agar jellies, placed upon sensors that convert their vibrations into music with the help of arduino processing.” I love this, and I want my own kit.

mar
27
2012

Dot-dash-diss: The gentleman hacker's 1903 lulz | New Scientist

Paul Marks writes, “A century ago, one of the world’s first hackers used Morse code insults to disrupt a public demo of Marconi’s wireless telegraph.”

mar
13
2012

Twitter analysis gets elections half right | USA Today

Scott Martin quotes Rebecca MacDonald of search analytics firm Attensity: “The fact that people are talking about candidates on Twitter doesn’t necessarily correlate to those people going out and voting.” (Via Derek Willis)

feb
02
2012

The iEconomy

If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend The New York Times’ new series about the economics of Apple’s supply chain and working conditions at the Chinese plants that manufacture Apple products. Stories so far: “How the U.S. Lost …

dec
07
2011

How Twitter's Trending Algorithm Picks Its Topics | NPR

Laura Sydell reports, “Sometimes a topic that seems hot, like Occupy Wall Street, doesn’t appear on trending lists, leading some activists to accuse Twitter of censorship. But the secret algorithmic formula prefers stories of the moment to enduring hashtags, so it ignores topics that are popular over a long period of time.” I worked on the chart that accompanies this story. Flot graphing library for jQuery again.

nov
21
2011

Sharing and recommendation shouldn’t be passive. It should be conscious, thoughtful, and amusing…

— Molly Wood on Facebook news apps and “frictionless” sharing (source)

nov
10
2011

A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design

A critique of “futuristic” touchscreen interfaces by Bret Victor. “The next time you make a sandwich, pay attention to your hands. Seriously! Notice the myriad little tricks your fingers have for manipulating the ingredients and the utensils and all the other objects involved in this enterprise. Then compare your experience to sliding around Pictures Under Glass. Are we really going to accept an Interface Of The Future that is less expressive than a sandwich?” (Via Matt Thompson)

oct
16
2011

Are Smartphones Becoming Smart Alecks? | WSJ.com

Geoffrey A. Fowler writes, “When Apple began integrating Siri into the iPhone, the team focused on keeping its personality friendly and humble — but also with an edge, according to a person who worked at Apple on the project. As Apple’s engineers worked on the software, they were often thinking, ‘How would we want a person to respond?’ this person said.”

aug
28
2011

It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.

— Steve Jobs, on interdisciplinarity (source)

aug
08
2011

How Star Trek artists imagined the iPad … 23 years ago | Ars Technica

Chris Foresman writes, “One interesting characteristic of Star Trek: The Next Generation — one that separated it from the original series and most of the early films — was its widespread use of smooth, flat, touch-based control panels throughout the Enterprise-D. This touch interface was also used for numerous portable devices known as PADDs, or Personal Access Display Devices. These mobile computing terminals bear a striking resemblance to Apple’s iPad — a mobile computing device largely defined by its smooth, flat touchscreen interface.”

aug
03
2011

How to Build a Newsroom Time Machine | Journoterrorist

The staff of Florida Atlantic University’s student paper produces its last summer issue using pre-computer tech. (Via Rachel)

jul
19
2011

A real-time, geotagged Flickr map? Here’s how. | 10,000 Words

This is ridiculously, embarrassingly easy. Awesome. “When reporters are in the field with their smartphones and they have a story to tell where both photo and location are vital, a stream of Flickr photos imported into a Google Map will do the trick.”

jul
09
2011

How Online Companies Get You to Share More and Spend More | Wired Magazine

Dan Ariely reports, “Behavioral economists can now explain how and why we become buying fools in the face of a well-crafted pitch.” Featuring Amazon, Netflix, Groupon, Zynga, Facebook and Apple.

jun
26
2011

Atop TV Sets, a Power Drain That Runs Nonstop | NYTimes.com

Elisabeth Rosenthal reports, “Television cable boxes and DVRs have become the single-largest electricity drain in many American homes.”

may
11
2011

iTunes Terms and Conditions

Following up on Seth Meyers’ recent White House correspondents dinner joke, CNN looked into what the iTunes “Terms and Conditions” document actually contains. My new personal favorite clause: You also agree that you will not use these products for any …

may
10
2011

You Are Solving the Wrong Problem | UX Magazine

Aza Raskin writes, “When you are solving a difficult problem re-ask the problem so that your solution helps you learn faster. Find a faster way to fail, recover, and try again. If the problem you are trying to solve involves creating a magnum opus, you are solving the wrong problem.”

apr
10
2011

A Shovel Cuts Off Armenia's Internet | Wall Street Journal

Giorgi Lomsadze writes, “Aishtan Shakarian, who lives in a small village near Georgian capital Tbilisi, was scavenging for scrap metal on March 28 when she damaged an international fiber-optic backbone cable that connects much of the southern Caucasus to Europe, a police spokesman said. The damage sent almost all of Armenia offline for about 12 hours. It also triggered a partial shutdown in Georgia and service interruptions in Azerbaijan…”

Here's an Unlike.ly Tale: Gadhafi Does Swimming.ly on the Internet | Wall Street Journal

Jess Bravin writes, “Where have the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the U.S. Air Force directed Twitter followers to learn more about military action in Libya? To an Internet domain controlled by the regime of Col. Moammar Gadhafi … The reason is a linguistic anomaly that might be Col. Gadhafi’s most unlikely asset: Libya’s Internet domain happens to be the English language’s adverbial suffix: ly.”

mar
23
2011

Barack Obama's top secret tent | BBC News

Rajini Vaidyanathan writes, “A rare photo, released by the White House, shows Barack Obama fielding calls from a tent in Brazil, to keep up with events in Libya. The tent is a mobile secure area known as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, designed to allow officials to have top secret discussions on the move.”

jan
26
2011

Instagram

So after some prodding from a coworker, I’m finally on Instagram. It’s a social photo-sharing service kind of like Flickr, but entirely smartphone-focused. I had resisted for so long because I’m kind of ambivalent about all the photo filters and …