1. A new way to write web applications.

    14 March 2013

    It's almost taken for granted these days that your data lives Out There Somewhere on the Internet. If you set up a webmail account at a service like Gmail or Hushmail, your e-mail will ultimately be stored on a bunch of servers racked in a data center someplace you will probably never see. Users of social networks implicitly accept that whatever they post - updates, notes, images, videos, comments, what have you - will probably never touch any piece of hardware they own ever again. Everything stays in someone else's server farm whether or not you want it to, and while there …

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  2. The line between organic and electronic continues to blur.

    06 March 2013

    Long time readers are no doubt familiar with my facination with the subject of biological computing, using organic structures to process and represent information rather than silicon-hybrid substrates. When you get right down to it, DNA is an information storage and representation system, just like the tape upon which a notional Turing machine reads and writes symbols. Using this metaphor (which isn't nearly as tortured as it sounds), the ribosomes of eukaryotic cells would be the Turing machines that read the tape and carry out the operations (protein synthesis) encoded in the nucleotides.

    Not too long ago the field advanced …

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  3. Studying the human connectome.

    02 March 2013

    Late last year I did an article about the simulation of parts of the the human brain on a massive scale called SPAUN that was implemented using software called Nengo. The basic concept behind SPAUN, as you may recall, is that it is a functional model of some aspects of the human brain which duplicate some of the neural networks as well as the myriad connections between them. What isn't obvious is that this connection model was developed in part through the microscopic examination of many human brains post mortem plus many different kinds of scans carried out on living …

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  4. Because it's a solvable problem.

    02 March 2013

    There seem to be a couple of problems inherent in the tech field of prosthetic design. First and foremost of them is that comparatively few people need artificial limbs, so not enough of them are manufactured at once to bring the cost down. A second problem is that because so few people tend to need them, designs don't seem to improve very rapidly. When enough of anything are not constructed, there isn't enough pressure for bugs to be ironed out rapidly, nor for designs to evolve in positive directions so relatively simple advances may not appear soon. Business and industry …

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  5. Birthday weekend wrap up.

    19 February 2013

    Rather than stay home for my birthday (which I've done for the past few years) I decided to make things interesting this time 'round the sun. Sitwon and Haxwithaxe had secured a hotel room and passes for Shmoocon in downtown DC last weekend, so I threw my hat into the ring more or less at the last minute. Shmoocon is an excellent hacker conference, don't get me wrong, but I don't ordinarily get much out of it. It is, as they say around here, above my pay grade. That said, I decided to go solely to see what I could …

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  6. ...another year has come and gone...

    15 February 2013

    It's that time of year once more...



    In the abstract, it's always been easy to figure out what to post on my birthday. I can think about it in the car on my way in to work and have some ideas of where to go and what to say, but when it comes time to put fingers to keys to actually write something, words scatter like dust in a sunbeam. Funny how that happpens, usually with really personal things. So, time for a little nonlinear text editing, where I scribble random ideas, and go back later to rearrange and flesh …

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  7. Getting yourself set up on Terasaur.

    01 February 2013

    Long-time members of the open source community no doubt remember iBiblio.org, which is one of the first and largest online archives of open source software. It doesn't see as much love as it used to due to how many open source project hosting sites there are out there (including the venerable Sourceforge, Github, and Google Code). Also, because cheap to free personal web hosting is so common, it's trivial to upload your projects these days. In recent years, however, the iBiblio team set up Terasaur, a BitTorrent tracker which makes it much easier to distribute large projects (such as …

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