Saturday, August 24, 2013

iNews innovation reading #151

Facebook Puts the Brakes on ‘The Hacker Way’


Before taking his company public last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg warned Wall Street that his social network would follow “The Hacker Way,” an unconventional path built in part around the adage “move fast and break things.”

The idea was that Facebook would rather make mistakes than get left behind in fast-innovating Silicon Valley. But a year and a half after the “Hacker Way” manifesto, Facebook is breaking fewer things and moving more slowly — at least when it comes to individual features and products. It’s testing new tools more thoroughly prior to release and then parsing goodies out slowly to help smoke out even more problems.

Facebook’s move toward greater testing is a sign of maturation at the company, overseen by the 29-year-old Zuckerberg, and this should help Facebook as it seeks to build an ever more intimate relationship with its users, collecting data on their physical movements and offline shopping habits, trying to capture more of their web searches, and targeting them based on other websites they’ve visited.


Google’s “20% time,” which brought you Gmail and AdSense, is now as good as dead


Google’s “20% time,” which allows employees to take one day a week to work on side projects, effectively no longer exists. That’s according to former Google employees, one who spoke to Quartz on the condition of anonymity and others who have said it publicly.

What happened to the company’s most famous and most imitated perk? For many employees, it has become too difficult to take time off from their day jobs to work on independent projects.

This is a strategic shift for Google that has implications for how the company stays competitive, yet there has never been an official acknowledgement by Google management that the policy is moribund. Google didn’t respond to a request for comment from Quartz.


The Invisible Driver

Technical University Munich

Technical University of Munich (TUM) researchers have proven that full-size remote control cars can be driven safely on public roads, and predict that the technology will reach the roadway within the next five to 10 years. Engineers at TUM's Institute of Automotive Technology placed six video cameras on an electric car, with a central control panel to activate all functions. Video images are wirelessly transmitted via the long-term evolution (LTE) standard to a remote driver at an operator station that is similar to a driving simulator, with a steering wheel, instrument panel, and pedals. The driver views the camera images, which provide a 360-degree view, on three large monitors, while a force-feedback steering wheel uses actuators to mimic the driving experience and other technology lets the driver hear inside the car. The data can already be transmitted on today's universal mobile telecommunication system network, but new technologies and capacity gains will further facilitate the transmission requirements of remote driving. The researchers note that mobile networks are expanding, and LTE networks in many cities can provide the bandwidth to carry video images, sound, and control data. In addition, the next video coding standard, H.265, offers significantly more efficient image compression.


An App to Lead the Blind


People with the debilitating disease night blindness, or nyctalopia, stand to benefit from a smartphone app designed to track the location and distance walked from home or a hotel. Developed by researchers at the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science, and Technology, the app will warn users when they are likely to be caught out after dark. Kamran Ahsan and colleagues have designed the app to calculate both the remaining daylight hours available and estimate how long it will take the person to reach their base before nightfall. The app is geo-aware, knows the time of sunset around the world, and has access to online mapping software than can offer users shortcuts back to their base. Moreover, the app can locate nearby hotels, which would make it useful to travelers who find themselves too far from base to get home safely by nightfall.


A Tour Of Microsoft's Truly Gigantic, Sprawling Headquarters *

Business Insider

Microsoft's campus acts as a somewhat perfect metaphor for the company.  It's gigantic, it's sprawling, and when you set foot on campus, you feel much more optimistic about Microsoft's future than people outside the campus.


TEDxSeattle talks online

YouTube and

All 18 talks and three performance pieces from TEDxSeattle 2013 are up on the TEDx YouTube channel. Here is a link to the playlist. Each talk and performance is on the list in order of how you saw them at the event. PLEASE watch, share and comment! We’ve had over 12,000 views already and we'd love to see the impact spread and grow over the coming months.

8 New Jobs People Will Have In 2025

Fast Company

New technology will eradicate some jobs, change others, and create whole new categories of employment. Innovation causes a churn in the job market, and this time around the churn is particularly large--from cheap sensors (creating "an Internet of things") to 3-D printing (enabling more distributed manufacturing).











Top Six Play-Themed Infographics



This month on, we are focusing on the topic of play. From vacations to fantasy sports, our archive of GOOD infographics explores how play can fit into our lives.


Happy Days

How Work Meets Play

The Rise of Foot Powered Commutes

What Colleges Offer the Most Space to Roam?

How Fantasy Sports Play a Role in Our Economy

What Countries Offer the Most Vacation Days?


statistics vs. judgment *

In today's encore selection -- statistics versus judgment. In his book Clinical vs. Statistical Prediction: A The­oretical Analysis and a Review of the Evidence, psychoanalyst Paul Meehl gave evidence that statistical models almost always yield better predictions and diagnoses than the judgment of trained professionals. In fact, experts frequently give different answers when presented with the same information within a matter of a few minutes:


"In the slim volume that he later called 'my disturbing little book,' [Paul] Meehl reviewed the results of 20 studies that had analyzed whether clinical pre­dictions based on the subjective impressions of trained professionals were more accurate than statistical predictions made by combining a few scores or ratings according to a rule. In a typical study, trained counselors pre­dicted the grades of freshmen at the end of the school year. The counselors interviewed each student for forty-five minutes. They also had access to high school grades, several aptitude tests, and a four-page personal state­ment. The statistical algorithm used only a fraction of this information; high school grades and one aptitude test. Nevertheless, the formula was more accurate than 11 of the 14 counselors. Meehl reported generally similar results across a variety of other forecast outcomes, including violations of parole, success in pilot training, and criminal recidivism.


Researchers develop battery-free communication tech for Internet of Things sensors *


Thinking ahead to a world where hundreds of millions of wireless sensors are embedded in consumer electronics and mobile health devices, researchers are developing a new technology that would use existing wireless and TV radio waves to power sensors without batteries.


Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a new technology, which they call "ambient backscatter," that will allow devices to communicate with each other by reflecting the existing radio signals around them. The researchers built small, battery-free devices with antennas that can detect, harness and reflect a TV signal, which then is picked up by other devices.


The upshot is that such technology could power sensors embedded in wireless devices, enabling more sensors to be deployed. But right now it is not  practical for actually transmitting information: the system can only deliver data at about 1 Kbps over a distance of 2.5 feet outdoors and 1.5 feet indoors. In other words, it won't be sending massive data packets anytime soon. However, the researchers hope to advance their work and have the technology to power sensors placed permanently on any structure.


IBM, Universities Partner on 'Big Data' Skills Training

IDG News Service

IBM recently announced nine partnerships with global universities to help prepare the next generation of big data professionals. The new offerings will include a master of science in business analytics at George Washington University, an undergraduate course on big data analytics at the University of Missouri, and a center for business analytics at the National University of Singapore. Participants will have access to IBM big data and analytics software solutions, case studies, and guest lecture appearances by IBM thought leaders, says an IBM spokesperson. The schools will benefit from access to technology and other resources, and IBM and the industry will benefit by grooming the next-generation of big data consultants, data scientists, and developers. Over the next eight years, demand for data analytics skills will grow 24 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor. Big data jobs have increased 127 percent on tech jobs board, with about 1,500 daily job listings, making it the site's fastest-growing job category, while other major categories have stayed mostly flat year-over-year.


The new age of algorithms: How it affects the way we live

They work a few hundred yards from one of the Library of Congress's most prized possessions: a vellum copy of the Bible printed in 1455 by Johann Gutenberg, inventor of movable type. But almost six centuries later, Jane Mandelbaum and Thomas Youkel have a task that would confound Gutenberg.

The researchers are leading a team that is archiving almost every tweet sent out since Twitter began in 2006. A half-billion tweets stream into library computers each day.

Their question: How can they store the tweets so they become a meaningful tool for researchers – a sort of digital transcript providing insights into the daily flow of history?

Thousands of miles away, Arnold Lund has a different task. Mr. Lund manages a lab for General Electric, a company that still displays the desk of its founder, Thomas Edison, at its research headquarters in Niskayuna, N.Y. But even Edison might need training before he'd grasp all the dimensions of one of Lund's projects. Lund's question:  How can power companies harness the power of data to predict which trees will fall on power lines during a storm – thus allowing them to prevent blackouts before they happen?