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December 03 2012

Pretty much everything I wanted to belabor has already been belabored upthread, so I'll focus on the one point that has been overlooked: by and large, today's public libraries are an awful place to try and get a "free education."

Public libraries are terribly funded, and their holdings in everything, but especially in technical fields, are in awful condition. I have literally never been in a public library in which the shelves didn't groan under the weight of computer books with "98" in the title.

Computer books are expensive and their shelf life is short. It is extremely unlikely that you'll be able to find books on current technologies at your public library, perhaps outside of a few well-off communities. You can make the point that many computer technologies can now be learned for free online, but there's certainly a big difference between a comprehensive course of instruction offered by a good software book and combing SO for FAQs and "hacks." And, of course, you need to know what to search for before you go googling for it, so if you're piecing together that education for free online yourself, you're probably not starting from scratch (e.g., if you want to learn about multithreading support in Python, you probably already know about both multithreading and Python).

And it gets much worse in fields like math and physics, because building holdings in quantitative areas is literally not part of a public library's mission. Those books are both extremely expensive and have extremely limited demand from borrowers. Try to find a public library system that has a textbook on numerical optimization. And, unlike iOS programming, this stuff will be very difficult to find online for free. (Unless, of course, you search for class notes from college courses — but that's clearly cheating.)
Nomyte @ Bit Part | MetaFilter

In my dreams I imagine them leaving the Valley and going off to accomplish something meaningful. Using those brains to do medical research, develop new drugs or eradicate poverty. I imagine them teaching in public schools, providing health care to poor kids. Joining Tesla or SpaceX. Pushing AI a few steps forward. Solving big problems, the kind that can't get solved in three days on a StartupBus.

They might not get rich, but at least they'd be doing something good for the world. 

So who knows. Maybe this will happen. Maybe these young people will realize they have only one life and that they should do something good with it.

ReadWrite – Let's All Shed Tears For The Crappy Startups That Can't Raise Any More Money
The big glaring thing that's missing from this article is where on earth these kids got the money to fund their start-ups/world traveling adventures. Getting video on Oprah? Speaking at a TED talk? And then being so unbearably smug as to say "“Experience has proved to be a far better teacher in my life than any book, classroom or educator?” Easy for you to say that experience is better when your experience has been so rich and college has always been on the table. Easy for all the programming kids to say when their field lends itself so well to self-education. (Provided they've got the drive to begin with; the unspoken truth behind many of these articles is that lots of people frankly don't.) Consciously and critically opting out of college is not remotely the same thing as never having a chance to go.

I'll just be sitting here, waiting for the story about the single parent who drops out of my city community college and writes a multi-million-dollar app.
ActionPopulated @ Bit Part | MetaFilter

November 28 2012

Seit Jahren, wenn nicht Jahrzehnten, stellen die deutschen Verleger für sich eine genau solche Verbindung her, wie sie Google behauptet. Sie stellen ihren Kampf um eigene wirtschaftliche Vorteile als uneigennützigen Kampf im Sinne der Demokratie dar. Sie tun so, als wären ihre kommerziellen Interessen identisch mit den Interessen der Gesellschaft. Sie versuchen, ihr Eigenwohl und das Gemeinwohl untrennbar miteinander zu verknüpfen.
Google ist nicht das Netz, und Verlage sind nicht der gute Journalismus « Stefan Niggemeier
[W]hat are the limits of implicit authorization? Let’s say you are reading a website that has “articleId=31337” at the end. You wonder what the next article is, so you go to the URL and change it “articleId=31338” and hit return. Have you “exceeded authorized access”? It’s hard to say. If article “31337” is public, why not “31338”?
You are committing a crime right now — Incunabula: Ong's Hat

Are you reading this blog? If so, you are committing a crime under 18 USC 1030(a) (better known as the “Computer Fraud & Abuse Act” or “CFAA”). That’s because I did not explicitly authorize you to access this site, but you accessed it anyway. Your screen has a resolution of 1440×900. I know this, because (with malice aforethought) I clearly violated 18 USC 1030(a)(5)(A) by knowingly causing the transmission of JavaScript code to your browser to discover this information.

So we are all going to jail together.

That’s silly, you say, because that’s not what the law means. Well, how do you know what the law means? The law is so vague that it’s impossible to tell.

You are committing a crime right now — Incunabula: Ong's Hat

November 25 2012

Australia's Hydrographic Service, which produces the country's nautical charts, says its appearance on some scientific maps and Google Earth could just be the result of human error, repeated down the years.

A spokesman from the service told Australian newspapers that while some map makers intentionally include phantom streets to prevent copyright infringements, that was was not usually the case with nautical charts because it would reduce confidence in them.

BBC News - South Pacific Sandy Island 'proven not to exist'

Scientist Maria Seton, who was on the ship, said that the team was expecting land, not 1,400m (4,620ft) of deep ocean.

"We wanted to check it out because the navigation charts on board the ship showed a water depth of 1,400m in that area - very deep," Dr Seton, from the University of Sydney, told the AFP news agency after the 25-day voyage.

"It's on Google Earth and other maps so we went to check and there was no island. We're really puzzled. It's quite bizarre.

"How did it find its way onto the maps? We just don't know, but we plan to follow up and find out."

BBC News - South Pacific Sandy Island 'proven not to exist'
As predicted, 3D Print scan/remix objects will eventually be challenged by lawyers and policy-makers, and the 3D print providers that have so strongly praised an open distribution and democratisation of culture, will not be on your side. 
http://plummerfernandez.tumblr.com/post/36286824577

November 21 2012

Around 2005 things start making the transition to HD – and then we get to today, and a weird new trend is emerging. I first noticed it some time around the Egyptian revolution, when I was suddenly struck by a Sky News report from Cairo that looked almost precisely like a movie. Not in terms of action (although that helped – there were people rioting on camelback), but in terms of picture quality. It seemed to be shot using fancy lenses. The depth of field was different to standard news reports, which traditionally tend to have everything in focus at once, and it appeared to be running at a filmic 24 frames per second. The end result was that it resembled a sleek advert framing the Arab Spring as a lifestyle choice. I kept expecting it to cut to a Pepsi Max pack shot.
What is the difference between The Hobbit and the news? Not as much as there should be | Charlie Brooker | Comment is free | The Guardian
PlaceRaider, an experimental smartphone trojan designed by Indiana University and the U.S. Navy, hijacks a user's phone to make detailed 3D models of their bedrooms and offices.
New Android Malware Is A Burglar's Best Friend | Fast Company
Sandy hasn’t done much to disrupt the normal flow of commerce nationally and internationally because the world doesn’t rely on New York and New Jersey for exports, Cohen says. For example, she says, compare the current disaster to the massive flooding last year in Thailand, a hub of the world’s hard drive industry. Because the supply is so concentrated there, the flooding caused hard drive shortages and sent prices rising. Similarly, a big earthquake in one of China’s major manufacturing centers would probably mean more empty shelves in the U.S. than nearly any disaster here.
How Store Shelves Stay Stocked Even After a Sandy-Sized Disaster | Wired Business | Wired.com

With SexFaceFinder.com and Naughty America's "Face" anyone can upload an image and have the services match it with images and faces in image databases.

SexFaceFinder positions its service as a way for users to find a performer that looks like s specific person.

Or to find performers that look like the user's favorite type of model, in an effort to engage the user with a service that closes the marketing gap between a user and their fantasy.

Porn companies adopt facial-recognition technology, encourage Instagram photos | ZDNet
Aviation has a habit of confusing timelines, blurring advanced concepts with impossible futurism, with the shroud of secrecy clouding what is new and what is old.
The future, then | things magazine
R.U. a Cyberpunk? - via PU(RE)BLOG

I made a joke yesterday about how people in the future will be nostalgic for the nice warm clean sound of dubstep played on a phone at the back of a bus.

But lately I have been purposefully not plugging in my speakers when listening to certain kinds of music because I like the way it sounds.

#new aesthetic

LQRC RHTHM

November 19 2012

Instead of a newspaper feeding us daily doses of a shared Field, we get a nauseating mix of news from forgotten classmates, slogan-placards about issues trivial and grave, revisionist histories coming at us via a million political voices, the future as a patchwork quilt of incoherent glimpses, all mixed in with pictures of cats doing improbable things.

The waning Field, still coming at us through weakening media like television, seems increasingly like a surreal zone of Wonderland madness.

We aren’t being hit by Future Shock. We are going to be hit by Future Nausea.  You’re not going to be knocked out cold. You’re just going to throw up in some existential sense of the word. I’d like to prepare. I wish some science fiction writers would write a few nauseating stories.

Welcome to the Future Nauseous
The future is a stream of bug reports in the normalcy-maintenance software that keeps getting patched, maintaining a hackstable present Field.
Welcome to the Future Nauseous
The smartphone could have developed via metaphoric descent from the hand-held calculator; “Oh, I can now talk to people on my calculator” would have been a fairly natural way to understand it. That it was the phone rather than the calculator is probably partly due to path-dependency effects and partly due to the greater ubiquity of phones in mainstream life.
Welcome to the Future Nauseous
So what about elements of the future that arrive relatively successfully for everybody, like cellphones? Here, the idea I called the Milo Criterion kicks in: successful products are precisely those that do not attempt to move user experiences significantly, even if the underlying technology has shifted radically.  In fact the whole point of user experience design is to manufacture the necessary normalcy for a product to succeed and get integrated into the Field. In this sense user experience design is reductive with respect to technological potential.
Welcome to the Future Nauseous
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