Nerd time 11 – Open social, web on desktop, random tidbits

I use to work at a research lab, and most of them are playing around with other toys outside the web. I send this out as a mailing list just to keep them updated.

Google Gphone
Rumor mill’s on full churn with speculation about google’s gPhone, so even if you read a bit of tech news, you’ll probably have heard something about it. I personally don’t think that they’re looking to compete with apple’s iPhone. To me, it makes more sense for them to license an open phone to other phone manufacturers to make it a platform they can do mobile and location-based advertising. We’ll see what actually happens.

Google Open Social API
Google’s going to announce the openSocial API that is suppose to out-open facebook. There are moves here and elsewhere to try and make your social network portable across different web services. That way, if you sign up for a new service, you don’t have to tell it who your friends are all over again. The last link is by Marc Andersen of the Netscape Fame. His latest thing is Ning, a tool that lets you build social networks–so obviously, he has a vested interested in the topic.

This is something I’ve been waiting for for about 2 years now. It’s an SD card that’s also a wifi card. It enables any camera to be wifi-enabled. So you can take pictures and have it be uploaded to the web at the same time. This sort of a thing is a boon to Mobtropolis, as it lowers the barrier between taking a picture and sharing the photo. Hopefully, people will stop taking pictures of the same group pose with all different cameras soon.

Mozilla Prism
Prism is still experimental, but both mozilla and adobe are thinking of taking the web experience and putting it back onto the desktop. Prism is mozilla’s Thus, every web application will seem like a native application, regardless of whether you’re actually connected or not. Thus, you can browse your mail or feed reader even if you’re not connected. In addition, desktop apps can take advantage of local hardware acceleration for graphics. This seems similar in concept to Java’s Web Start, except it’s built on top of web technologies. While nothing’s for sure, all the stars seem pointed in this direction. Thus, web developers might start moving on desktop developer’s territory in the near future.

How can I use spreadsheets to answer some of my many questions about the world?
One example of mixing the web with traditional desktop applications is that you can actually put queries in your spreadsheet, such as # of users in Paraguay or the ERA of Roger Clemens. Just a tidbit I thought was neat.

Evidence Based Scheduling
Joel came out with this article a couple days ago. I thought it was pretty neat and obvious (in hindsight). He comes up with a way to estimate shipping dates of software with a specific probability. He adapts a version of Monte Carlo in order to do it, and while I don’t know if it works as well as it claims in practice, I assume that Joel eats his own dog food, and it seems to make sense. If you’re interested in software scheduling, defn give it a read.

The 4 boneheaded biases of voters
As some of you know, I’m pretty interested in decentralized systems–especially since Mobtropolis will have social problems at larger scales if I don’t pay attention to them. Capitalist economies and voting systems being two examples. This is an article I found detailing the biases that people have about large-scale decentralized systems–specifically the economy. It’s an interesting read.

State Machine Compiler
Ragel generates state machines for you. I found this to be interesting because I was wondering about how to do minimal aspect orientated programming without a full-fledges AOP system in place.

Ruby’s Object Model
When you grew up with OOP, you think you know it all. But the object model changes when you’re using a dynamically typed language. It’s a rather different beast altogether, and in order to keep straight the meta-programming things that people do, it helps to know and understand the object model. These are the two best ones that I’ve seen that explains Ruby’s Object Model, and particularly, the Metaclasses.

MapReduce in a Week
If you’ve got a week to spare. Mapreduce is how google churns through embarrassingly parallel problems. It has its roots in functional programming. If you don’t know what mapreduce it, check out joel below. Though I’m sure I posted that link before, it’s worth checking out. He gives a good overview.


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