Forecasting human behavior carries big risks#

The [report] outlined worries about predictive social sorting on the grounds that it could amount to discrimination, create new underclasses and that by the totting up of negative indicators from health, school and other records, a predictive model could make its own worst predictions come true.

Be Microsoft#

We seem to have lost our self-confidence. There is a general and constant focus on 'the other guys' these days. It's like everyone is continually contemplating competitive response, rather than acting for our customers. First it's open source software, then it's Linux, then it's Google, now it's Apple.

"Adam," "Eve," and why they never got married#

[D]ifferent genes can have different genealogies even within a single biological genealogy. That's why it's not only possible but also unsurprising that the mitochondrial gene genealogy that traced back to 'mitochondrial eve' and the Y-chromosome genealogy that traced back to 'Y-chromosome Adam' don't lead back to individuals who were married to each other, or even lived within 50,000 years of each other.

Robot unravels mystery of walking#

The basic walking steps of RunBot are controlled by reflex information received by peripheral sensors on the joints and feet of the robot, as well as an accelerometer which monitors the pitch of the machine. These sensors pass data on to local neural loops - the equivalent of local circuits - which analyse the information and make adjustments to the gait of the robot in real time.

Be sure to check out the video.

Media Temple, a month on

July 14, 2007

I've had my Media Temple account for about a month now and am really happy to say that I've nothing to complain about — not sure I can give a better recommendation than that. As most of you know, I made the transition from Dreamhost, one of the largest and most popular web hosts in the world, and the decision wasn't a light one; DreamHost's referral program is second to none and I made a decent amount of money while being hosted there (though nothing like Mike's astronomical numbers).

That said, things weren't always rosy and their semi-recent security breach finally forced me to think seriously about an exit strategy. MT had been on my radar for a while, mainly because they were already hosting a lot of the people I follow online, and everyone had good things to say about them. I wish I could comment on the knowledge and speed of their tech-support, but I've yet to have to call on them; within a few hours of moving everything over to MT and making the DNS changes, my site was up and running and has been sailing smoothly ever since.

I'll surely update this post (or write a new one) should I come up with anything to complain about, but if the status quo is maintained going forward, I'm afraid I'm going to have to look elsewhere for writing inspiration.

Quick subscribe

July 14, 2007

While this little site announcement is probably lost on this crowd (i.e., the crowd that already reads this site), I still thought I'd mention it as I've long made it a habit to write about the updates I make to this site, no matter how trivial.

I'm now sniffing referrers and looking for those readers sent from the big search engines (65% of my traffic), namely Google and Yahoo!, and changing slightly the posts they request (I used to do something similar when I showed Google AdSense ads on this site, but the implementation of this is a little different).

For individual archive pages, I've added a new section — "quick subscribe" — to the bottom of each post, which provides one-click subscriptions for the top five web-based aggregators used by my readership (i.e., Google Reader, Bloglines, NewsGator, Rojo, and Netvibes). I get that information by screen-scraping my FeedBurner "analyze" page once a week (though I'll likely soon abandon this process and just set the links manually as it's not really worth the effort).

The logic behind the addition is that if someone finds my site through a search and ends up reading all of the requested post, [s]he may be more apt to subscribe to the site, especially if, at the end of the post, [s]he's offered a super-simple way of doing just that (and without those horribly tacky "buttons" :).

We'll see how it goes.


Mojits provides a running list of web applications designed specifically for the iPhone.

Logitech MX Air Mouse#

Is this the mouse that's finally going to move me away from Razer? Does anyone have information regarding Mac support (the press release is silent)? If I can use this to control VLC from across the room it's a wrap.

The iPhone knows when you want to touch it

July 08, 2007

Perhaps this has been covered already, but I can't recall any mention of it in the tons of iPhone material I've read since the device was released a little over a week ago. Turns out that if you are using the iPhone as a phone (i.e., holding it up to your ear), it keeps the screen off to avoid draining the battery, and when you suddenly move it away from your head the screen automagically returns. Very nice.

The device's I-know-how-you're-holding-me, inner-ear magic, makes this an obvious and logical feature, but, as is so often the case, and in this space in particular, obviousness and logic don't always find themselves on the right side of fruition; when they do, as here, it's almost shocking. Hopefully Apple will soon have us expecting these sorts of things from our mobile devices instead of being so surprised by them.

Tinkering with humans#

[Self-engineering] seizes control of humanity so radically that humanity can no longer judge it. We can’t be certain it’s diminishing us. But we can’t be certain it’s perfecting us, either.

Jobs and I are very much on the same page

July 03, 2007

Remember the iPhone-will-become-a-UMPC idea I floated a few months back? Well, at the time it didn't get too much traction (to be honest, I kind of wish I sat on it until after the iPhone was released), but I'm guessing that now, after people have had a chance to really dig into Apple's latest offering, it's going to be read in a different, slightly more ‘possible' (probable?), light. Indeed, the spirit of that piece has been echoed throughout the blogosphere these last few days — the iPhone really is going to change things forever.

Steve, call me.