Advertising: The Internet’s Original Sin

Kick back, relax and take in Ethan Zuckerman’s thoughts on the Internet’s Original Sin. Be prepared, it’s long read, but a good one.

I especially liked his definition of investor storytime:

Investor storytime is when someone pays you to tell them how rich they’ll get when you finally put ads on your site.

This article was inspired, in part, by The Internet With a Human Face, Maciej Cegłowski’s lecture–another worthy read.

via Matt Mullenweg

Real-Time MTA Subway Information in JSON Format

The MTA has been making real-time subway information available to developers for a couple years. However, one must contend with the GTFS Realtime format, which isn’t as easy as digesting an API. This is especially true when one only wants the status at one or two stations.

Enter MTA Sanitizer, Jon Thornton’s JSON proxy for real time MTA subway information. This looks like a very promising project for those looking to get at the real-time information. It needs to run on a server somewhere, but everybody has one of those.

I really wish this was available when I was trying to include real-time subway information in my Good Morning Display.

Is it Time to Revisit Personal Unit Tests?

Back in 2007, there was some talk about personal unit tests. The idea was to apply unit testing, a tenant of Test Driven Development, to some of the mundane, yet important daily tasks of one’s life. Done properly, one could see what their pass rate was, and address problem areas.

Personal Unit Test SpreadsheetThis sounded like a great idea. I created a spreadsheet complete with conditional formatting to track small tasks like “exercise”, “healthy lunch” and “practice guitar”. While it was useful to see how I was doing, the overhead of tracking all of these little tasks was very high. If it could only be automated, like unit tests in TDD, it would be so much better.

Now, 7 years later, our devices are tracking all sorts of things about us. Perhaps most of these unit tests could be automated by querying the repositories of personal data that are being created. Data that can’t be obtained automatically, could come from something like Reporter. I’ve seen several gorgeous visualizations of this data–Aprilzero immediately comes to mind, but I don’t think they are all that actionable throughout the day. This is where unit tests could really shine, maybe.