Tuesday, September 03, 2013

More quick links

More of what I found interesting lately:
  • The apparent philosophy of the design of biological processes: "Never refactor if you can incrementally add another mechanism, no matter how complicated." ([1] [2])

  • "Given the incredible technological leaps that have changed so many aspects of our lives in the last hundred years, it's surprising that our approach to education today is much the same as it was a century ago" ([1])

  • Brilliant and beautiful comic inspired by Calvin and Hobbes on what is important in life ([1])

  • Fascinating and frightening xkcd showing "questions found in Google Autocomplete" ([1])

  • Dilbert on the NSA and tech companies cooperation with the NSA ([1] [2])

  • Dilbert: "You lost our data center?" ([1])

  • Dilbert: "Booted off the management fast track ... failed the sociopath module." ([1])

  • NASDAQ went down because they "haven't had the incentive to focus on back-up systems." So many things wrong with that.([1])

  • "Rational self-interest isn't always the best strategy. In conditions of harsh competition, Homo economicus might not prevail" ([1])

  • "We need to relearn how to accept risk, and even embrace it, as essential to human progress and our free society" ([1])

  • "Generous individuals are sometimes punished for their behavior" because they are viewed as violating social norms and making others look bad ([1])

  • "Free-to-play" games use deception to coerce people into paying, says Bruce Schneier. "Tricks include misdirection, sunk costs, withholding information, cognitive dissonance, and prospect theory." ([1] [2])

  • New York is the only place making progress toward being another Silicon Valley in the US ([1])

  • Paul Graham says, "The most important reason investors like you more when you've started to raise money is that they're bad at judging startups" ([1])

  • Paul Graham adds, "Most investors decide in the first few minutes whether you seem like a winner or a loser ... [Winners] seem formidable ... [Only] a handful of people ... are really good at seeming formidable -- some because they actually are very formidable and just let it show, and others because they are more or less con artists." ([1])

  • And some humor on what pitching to VCs is like ([1])

  • Key quote from a paper on trying to build a company of all above average people: "Strong dependence on the initial conditions; in economic terms, this means the first few hires of your start-up can have a tremendous effect!" ([1] [2])

  • Musical Turk, done by a teenager and a winning entry in Udacity's Computer Graphics class, is both very fun and very impressive ([1] [2])

  • Very nicely done geometry puzzle game, definitely worth checking out if you have kids ([1] [2])

  • Amazing TED talk, best I've seen in a while, well worth watching: "The astounding athletic power of quadcopters" ([1])

  • Unusually good mainstream press coverage of AI in this short clip from PBS titled "The Rise of Artificial Intelligence", ideal for sending to kids and family to show them what AI is ([1])

  • Autonomous fighter jets coming to a war near you ([1])

  • Jeff Bezos says he is a "genetic optimist" and that problems that appear unsolvable often just need "a lot of time, patience and experimentation" ([1])

  • Not able to compete: Target says "digital sales represented an immaterial amount of total sales" ([1])

  • Among other things, Google is very interested in conversational search (aka search-as-a-dialogue) ([1] [2])

  • On a related topic, when someone refines a search, but some of the search results would still be the same as what they just saw, should you show those? ([1] [2])

  • Another clever and unexpected use of Google Street Map data, using it to understand perceptions of urban blight ([1])

  • "Ballmer ... failed to be a great manager, or even a tolerable one" ([1] [2])

  • Old, but worth repeating: "Fewer than one in five big international mergers and takeovers add value to the combined company and more than half actually destroyed value ... The remaining 30% produced no discernible difference" ([1])

  • "Nearly everyone in the world who can afford an expensive smartphone has one already ... 'already saturated at the high end' ... 'may be becoming more like the PC industry'" ([1])

  • Jeff Bezos spent most of this summer at his hardware design group Lab126, and Sergey Brin spends most of his time at Google X ([1] [2])

  • "The device can generate a signal of its own — a signal that can be picked up by other local devices — without its own source of power, simply by reflecting [ambient] TV signals in a clever way." ([1] [2])

  • Netflix says, "Ratings aren't actually super-useful, while what you're actually playing is." ([1])

  • "Amazon's first-ever Emmy Award. A longtime pioneer in personalized recommendations technology, Amazon Instant Video is receiving the award for its development of tools and algorithms that enable customers to easily find and discover videos that cater to their tastes and preferences." ([1])

  • "Math and science majors are popular until students realize ... they're hard" ([1])

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