Aluminum: Common Metal, Uncommon Past

Article as it appeared on the web

A feature article about how Aluminum went from being a precious metal (in its elemental form) to being cheap enough to use as a construction material, focusing on the 1880’s work of two chemists who discovered, almost simultaneously, the process to extract it.

Introduction: “In the mid-1800s aluminum was more valuable than gold. Napoléon III’s most important guests were given aluminum cutlery, while those less worthy dined with mere silver; fashionable and wealthy women wore jewelry crafted of aluminum. Today aluminum is a critical component of modern life, found in airplanes, automobiles, soft drink cans, construction materials, cooking equipment, guardrails, and countless other products. The difference between scarcity and abundance (and between obscurity and ubiquity) of this metal depended solely on scientists’ ability to find the way to release it—the third most common element in the earth’s crust by weight—from its ore.”

Building WingNuts in Xcode with OpenGL: Freeverse Creates a Great Mac-only Game

Article as it appeared on the web

An article for the Apple Developer Connection that shows how Apple technologies facilitated the creation and production of a game. Copy available on request.

Intro: “The 11-person team at Freeverse, Inc. might be small, but the company has scored big with the action arcade game Wingnuts 2: Raina’s Revenge , which won the 2006 Eddy Award for Best Game and was named runner-up for the 2006 Apple Design Awards for Best Mac Game. Freeverse created a fun and addictive game, and according to the development team, the road to outstanding creative development was paved with Apple technologies such as Xcode, QuickTime, Core Image, the platform’s OpenGL implementation, and Mac OS X as a whole.”

From Student Project to Retail Distribution: Lineform Uses Xcode and Core Image

Article as it appeared on the web

An article for the Apple Developer Connection that shows how Apple technologies facilitated the creation and production of a graphic-design tool. Copy available on request.

Intro: “Will Thimbleby didn’t set out to write an illustration program. He needed to create drawings for a project, but he found he couldn’t afford the market-leading application and was unable to find a lower-cost option that suited him. So the 25-year-old doctoral student opened Apple’s Xcode tools and built his own.The result is Lineform, a vector drawing program that challenges the features of pricey competitors while sporting a far more accessible interface. His homegrown “scratch-an-itch” project won the 2006 Apple Design Award for Best Mac OS X Student Product, and soon after was picked up by software publisher Freeverse, Inc.”

Imaging the World: The State of Online Mapping

First page of article as it appeared in print

A feature article for Computer Graphics and Applications, a publication of IEEE.

Abstract: “Consumer sites such as MapQuest, Yahoo! Maps, and Google Maps compete to improve their interfaces and data relevance to better appeal to the browsing public. But innovation in online mapping isn’t limited to these household names. Sites for the public good, such as those the US government manages, provide graphical access to data buried in such sources as the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service and the decennial census. Meanwhile, community mapping sites let the public provide local details, find nearby colleagues, and organize information in ways unknown 10 years ago.”

Cannabinoids: A Secret History

Article as it appeared on the web

A feature article about the chemical history of cannabinoids — the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana — touching on medical and legal issues. No longer available on the Chemical Heritage site.

Interactive Tabletop Exhibits in Museums and Galleries

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My first feature article for the “Applications” section of Computer Graphics and Applications, a publication of IEEE (the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers).

Abstract: “Just as online shopping is a bellwether of advanced online technologies, so are museum and gallery showcases for the best in computer display and interface technology. In the first case, commerce demands that speed and reliability get priority, in the latter, technological invisibility is foremost. The museum experience is an unusually tactile, sensual one, and the standard keyboard-mouse-and-screen setup might seem out of place. This trend toward sensual involvement is particularly noticeable in tabletop displays, as they appeal to two aspects of familiar daily life: the horizontal surface as a workspace, and hand gestures (or common objects) as tools for manipulating information.”

Regulators ask: What is Bitcoin?

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An article about legal challenges to the decentralized virtual currency Bitcoin, specifically on how the question of its definition affects its place in law.

Control without Controllers

Screenshot of CACM article about the Touché sensor project

A feature article about Disney’s Touché sensor project, which explores new ways of controlling electronics with touch.

The Future of Free Speech Online

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A very brief article about whether survey respondents believe that technology companies in the democratic West will increasingly help repressive governments.

DARPA Shredder Challenge Solved

Screenshot of CACM article about the DARPA Shredder Challenge

A feature article about a $50,000 challenge issued by DARPA and its solutions, including quotes from the First and Second Place winners.

Talking to Machines

Screenshot of CACM article about speech recognition

A feature article about modern applications of speech recognition, in particular how they’ve combined with complementary technologies to produce such consumer products as Siri.

Cloud-based HPC

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A very brief article about a U.S. Government report on whether high-performance computing is cost-effective using cloud-computing techniques.

Supercomputing’s Exaflop Target

First page of "Supercomputing's Exaflop Target" article

A review of Asia’s recent ascendency in the Top500 list of the world’s leading supercomputers, and the supercomputing field generally.

The Promise of Flexible Displays

First page of "The Promise of Flexible Displays" article

Article about advances in electronic displays that can bend, be made in irregular shapes, and be produced through a print-like process.

IT drives policy — and vice versa

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Reporting on a three-day conference about technology policy. This was my biggest case of preparation overkill: 12,000 words of notes went into a 575-word article.

Shaping the Future

First page of "Shaping the Future" article

Article about “claytronics” — ensembles of tiny robots that self-assemble into larger functional units.

Rebuilding for Eternity

First page of "Rebuilding for Eternity" article

Article about “e-heritage”, digitization of large-scale historical sites such as the Bayon Temple in Cambodia.

Beyond the Smart Grid

First page of "Beyond the Smart Grid" article

Feature story about sensors to monitor energy consumption and other environmental data in residences. (Published in Communications of the ACM.)

ACM China Nearing Launch

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News story about the Association for Computing Machinery’s expansion into China. (Published in Communications of the ACM.)