Digest: Hacker Spaces, R, Disqus, Social Media, Kinect Hacks

I really need to do a better job of pushing out these digests more often.  The intent is that sometimes I come across a link about which I don't have enough to say to warrant an entire post, but I still want to share with people.  So I save them up and when I have enough I publish a digest.  Unfortunately I have been saving plenty of links but not doing such a hot job about creating the write-ups and as a result my digests have been too long.  Hopefully I'll do better.

Mark Suster posted some thoughts on his blog about why he's planning to stick with Disqus instead of jumping on the Facebook comments bandwagon.  I agree with a lot of what he says, which is why I'm linking it here of course.

I've followed what my old friend David Weekly has done with the Mountain View Hacker Dojo with interest over the past few years.  I've wished that we had a strong enough technical community in the DC area to have a hacker space movement here.  During some idle Googling recently I've discovered that we actually do.  There's a new one not far from where I live called Reverse Space.  I swung by to check it out and it's still very early and a work in progress but I'm thrilled that there's spaces for the technical community in the DC area.  In looking through the list of hacker spaces on hackerspaces.org there are actually several in the DC and Baltimore area.

I don't use R at the moment but given the sort of work I do I suspect I may use it in the future.  For those not in the know, R is a statistical programming language.  I haven't used it but I hear it's great and it certainly has a devoted following.  I casually pay attention to the R space and I saw the recent announcement of the RStudio IDE.  Here's a review I found.

On a non-technical note, I came across this article on CCN Money that discusses the possibility of banks limiting our ability to spend with debit cards in the future.  For years I only used debit cards.  Lately I have started using a charge card and paying the balance in full each month.  But I stll hate the idea of limiting the financial options of people without great credit who can't quality for reasonable credit or charge cards.

There are so many "social media experts" out there but I often wonder what the real ROI for a business is on their social investment.  I think it's probably a lot more about driving brand awareness and customer relationship development than hard, measurable ROI.  Still I was interested to read this article on Venture Beat that reports a study which shows social media popularity can perhaps predict stock prices.  From the article
The study tracked three brands, Starbucks, Coca Cola and Nike, over the course of 10 months in 2010-2011. The number of Facebook fans, Twitter followers and Youtube views were used as measures of each brand’s social media popularity.

I think it would be useful to look at Twitter @mentions as well.

I don't have an XBox 360 or a Kinect but I'm very interested in the creative things people are doing with hacking the Kinect.  I came across a couple of articles on Engadget about creative uses for the Kinect.  One article discussed using the Kinect for 3D modeling in free space.  The other article talks about a project to help the blind "see" by getting haptic feedback.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBpfYuVN0bI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6QY-eb6NoQ