Monday, June 24, 2013

Quick links

What has caught my attention lately:
  • Lots of frequently updated, high resolution satellite images + automated object detection at massive scale = crazy cool and scary results ([1] [2] [3])

  • "Large datasets and computational challenges are cropping up in more and more domains. For example, the current modest–sized stream of genetic data is going to turn into an incredible flood because the costs of DNA sequencing are dropping exponentially. Computer systems and algorithms that can find interesting correlations in such data are going to really make important scientific discoveries." ([1] [2])

  • Combining mobile, big data, and lots of computation in the cloud to yield highly personalized experiences ([1] [2] [3] [4])

  • "The average age of a Facebook user [is] 41. The average age of a Facebook employee is 31." ([1])

  • The cheapest, happiest company in the world ([1])

  • "The traditional exit interview represents a lost opportunity" ([1] [2])

  • "Open-plan offices make employees less productive, less happy, and more likely to get sick" ([1] [2])

  • "Publishers should insist on a substantial premium for annoying advertisements" ([1] [2])

  • Mary Jo Foley: "I can't but help wonder why Microsoft -- with all its telemetry information, customer satisfaction data, and beta-testing input -- still went ahead with what its Windows execs must have known full well would be a confusing and less-than-optimal experience for many Windows users." ([1] [2] [3])

  • I was surprised by this success rate, 90% of passwords cracked using some clever heuristics and a commodity PC, including some very long and seemingly hard-to-crack ones ([1])

  • "The 'fear preacher' wins, regardless of the outcome" ([1])

  • Amazing what the new Kinect can do, worth watching this video. I thought we were a lot further away with this kind of face, expression, and gesture recognition. ([1])

  • Kinect-like gesture recognition using just the subtle changes to WiFi signals from your motion ([1])

  • Bing found that every 100ms faster they deliver search result pages yields 0.6% more in revenue ([1] [2])

  • Cute idea from Microsoft Research, an app for work that reminds you of people's names, roles, and interests when in meetings and even runs a little trivia game to help you remember some of the details ([1])

  • Recent study shows Roman concrete is superior in several ways to modern concrete, primarily because of the additional aluminum in the volcanic ash the Romans used ([1])

  • Idea in successful early trials for ending malaria by infecting mosquitoes with a mostly beneficial bacteria that most other insects already have ([1] [2])

  • Clever idea: "Many tumors only survive because they evolve the ability to tone down an immune response ... a tumor and the cells around it should be susceptible to infection by a weakened bacterial strain that the body usually clears with ease. The problem is that the bacteria were so weak, they didn't actually kill the tumor cells. To solve this, the authors just loaded the bacteria up with a radioactive isotope. That did the trick. When the bacteria invaded the tumor, they brought a radioactive payload with them, one that killed off the tumor cells." ([1] [2])

  • Brilliant, a headlight that detects rain drops and then avoids illuminating them, so it lets you see through the rain like it isn't even there ([1])

  • Redesigning a car for electric yields big usability improvements ([1] [2])

  • Surprisingly fun game and a clever use of street view data ([1])

  • Dilbert: "Leadership is the product of sociopathic tendencies plus luck" ([1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6])