The Transparency Report

Richard Hudak:

As I publish several blogs on WordPress, I am happy to see this transparency report from them.

Originally posted on News:

Automattic’s mission is to democratize publishing, and a fully informed citizenry is the foundation of any functioning democracy. Keeping our users and the public fully informed about our policies on responding to government requests has always been important to us — and now, more than ever, candor in this area is vitally important.

In keeping with these principles, we’re pleased to release our first transparency report. This initial report summarizes the number of government information requests, takedown demands, and national security requests that we received during the second half of 2013. In addition to giving our users full transparency about the volume of these requests, we also hope that publicly reporting our data will help hold all parties (including us) accountable.

A few highlights of our report:

Information Requests. For the second half of 2013, approximately 0.0001% of the 48 million sites that we host were subject to a…

View original 376 more words

A Chinese Company 3D-Printed 10 Houses In A Day – Business Insider

3D-Printed House

Every day, I think we head closer to the world of cyberpunk, in this case to Neal Stephenson’s grand vision of The Diamond Age.

There’s a lot you can do with a 3D printer. Now add “building a house in a day” to the list.

Make that 10 houses.
The WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co. has printed 10 homes in 24 hours out of recycled materials.

via A Chinese Company 3D-Printed 10 Houses In A Day – Business Insider.

big data: a definition

Originally posted on

People often complain, justifiably, that “big data” is a catchy phrase, not a real concept. And yes, it certainly is hot, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t come up with a useful definition that can guide research. Here is my definition – big data is data that has the following properties:
  • Size: The data is “large” when compared to the data normally used in social science. Normally, surveys only have data from a few thousand people. The World Values Survey, probably the largest conventional data set used by social scientists, has about  two hundred thousand people in it. “Big data” starts in the millions of observations.
  • Source: The data is generated through the use of the Internet – email, social media, web sites, etc.
  • Natural: It generated through routine daily activity (e.g., email or Facebook likes) . It is not, primarily, created in the artificial environment of a survey…

View original 91 more words

Mapping and driving is ok, appellate court says

Richard Hudak:

Augmented reality has legal implications. Hands off my GPS.

Originally posted on BGR:

A man who was given a ticket two years ago for using a map app on an iPhone 4 while driving had his conviction overturned by a Fresno appellate court on Thursday, which agreed that drivers should be able to use map apps on a smartphone while on the road, FresnoBee reports . “The Fifth District Court of Appeal unanimously concluded that the state Vehicle Code applies to listening and talking and texting on a cellphone while driving – not looking at a map application,” the publication writes.

View original 175 more words

Fitbit stops selling Force activity tracker, issues voluntary recall

Richard Hudak:

The downside of augmented reality and personal data collection.

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Fitbit has stopped selling the popular Force activity tracking band after learning that a small percentage of users have been experiencing skin irritation. The company has also issued a voluntary recall.

Fitbit (see disclosure) provided the following statement to Gigaom:

“From the beginning, we’ve taken this matter very seriously. We hired independent labs and medical experts to conduct a thorough investigation, and have now learned enough to take further action. The materials used in Force are commonly found in many consumer products, and affected users are likely experiencing an allergic reaction to these materials.

While only a small percentage of Force users have reported any issue, we care about every one of our customers. We have stopped selling Force and are in the process of conducting a voluntary recall, out of an abundance of caution. We are also offering a refund directly to consumers for full retail price. We want…

View original 242 more words

OpenStreetMap gets physical as Lokku invests in SplashMaps

Richard Hudak:

Augmented reality is what we call it when the digital and physical worlds are seen as a continuum here is another example.

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Open data is cool and all that, but is it washable? It is with SplashMaps , a rather odd British startup that just received seed funding from OpenStreetMap firm Lokku.

Lokku runs a property search engine called Nestoria and a sideline business called OpenCage Data, which aims to help others also use OpenStreetMap geodata. When I covered that in mid-2013, Lokku told me it was also setting up a seed fund to boost the ecosystem. SplashMaps is the first open data investment from that pot.

SplashMaps, which was successfully crowdfunded at the end of 2012, does what its name suggests: it makes waterproof fabric maps. The concept is very similar to the old escape and evasion maps used in World War II, except this time it’s targeting hikers, mountain bikers, kayakers and other outdoor enthusiasts who are likely to get wet while trying to find their way.

SplashMaps scarf

The maps…

View original 186 more words

Kid Cyborg

I loved seeing this report about the Dad who printed his kid a cybernetic prosthesis. The unthinkable is always just around the corner, and next door.

Two years ago, Paul McCarthy began searching for an inexpensive yet functional prosthetic hand for his son Leon, who was born without fingers on one of his hands. McCarthy came across a video online with detailed instruction on how to use a 3-D printer to make a prosthetic hand for his son. Michelle Miller reports.


Terrifying new malware uses sound to spread, doesn’t need networks

Richard Hudak:

This is pretty frightening.

Originally posted on BGR:

Computer scientists have developed an audio malware prototype that’s capable of establishing communication between devices that do not have an active network connection, Ars Technica reports. Instead, the lab-created malware uses the built-in microphones and speakers to send out a high-frequency signal from an infected computer to a different source. While it has limited use and can only send 20 bits of data per second to up to 65 feet the audio malware concept can still be used to send out significant data, including user and passwords for certain systems. Additionally, the distance can be increased by adding more attacker-controlled devices to repeat the audio signal.

View original 156 more words

Striking Back Against Censorship

Richard Hudak:

The DCMA should not be used to squash free speech or hamper open inquiry. Good on WordPress for being a platform that takes a stand against censorship. WordPress is technically a very sophisticated blogging platform, so I would not expect less of the folks at Automattic.

Originally posted on News:

The mission of is to democratize publishing. We’re inspired every day by the ways creators use our platform to bring their voices to the world. Unfortunately, we also see many cases of censorship aimed at authors and users.

One area where we’ve seen a number of problems is the censoring of criticism through abuse of copyright law. Two recentcases of abuse really caught our attention and made us think that we needed to take action to fight back on behalf of our users and everyone who believes in the internet’s promise for free expression.

Censorship by DMCA

A common form of censorship by copyright stems from improper use of legal creations called DMCA takedown notices. The DMCA stands for the “Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” which is a US federal law that created a system for protecting copyrights online. The DMCA system works pretty well, but has a…

View original 663 more words

Consumer 3D Printing is Here

I am posting this from Staples, where I have just seen my first consumer 3D printer, Cube. At &1,299.99, it’s a very expensive toy, but one that university departments could possible afford. The future is rushing towards us headlong. I have one question at the moment: is the plastic BPA free?