Five short links

Handprint
Photo by Hobvias Sudoneighm

HTTP cookies, or how not to design protocols – Browser protocols feel a lot more like Windows than Unix in their design and evolution. The lack of clear principles means we'll face the same endless-but-just-about-manageable cascade of bugs that afflicted Microsoft's OS.

Nilometer – Predictive analytics from a hole in the ground. The level of the Nile was such a strong sign of the strength of the harvest months later that Cairo's biggest festival was cancelled and replaced with prayers and fasting if it didn't measure up. The 1,400 years of time series data from this instrument spawned some fascinating research in modern times too.

Earth Station: The afterlife of technology at the end of the world – What happens when the future becomes the past? An abandoned satellite tracking station vital for the moon landing, and the trailer park that now surrounds it.

Designing user experiences for imperfect data – Thinking about the UI from the start is vital to building effective data algorithms, and often turns impossible problems into solvable ones, as Matthew demonstrates.

Spatial isn't special – There's a life-cycle to every technology niche. As demand first emerges, the few developers who can serve it can make a handsome living, but gradually knowledge and tools diffuse to a wider world and the specialty becomes a skill that can be acquired rather than an expert you need to hire. This is a very good thing for the wider world, what were hard and expensive problems become cheap and easy to solve, but it's worth remembering that when the money's too good it won't last forever.

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