May 1st, 2016

If women could be fathers

Cloning would have to be 100% safe, and so would extracting the male genes from a woman’s cell. But the technology is not yet ready, and I have trouble imagining that any government will give this line of research any priority. Because a lot of people are afraid of women having that kind of freedom. But this is what Shulamith Firestone dreamed of:

So that just as to assure elimination of economic classes requires the revolt of the underclass ...

April 28th, 2016

Lying is a lot of work, especially in romance

Yes, the guy is trolling, but there is a grain of truth here. I do think lying requires a lot of work. For that reason, I avoid lying. I don’t have the energy for it.

I’m a corporate strategist so I approached my extramarital affair with an eye to the long game. I planned accordingly to have a mistress same as I planned years ahead to embezzle my retirement. Get married, share finances, and most importantly: have kids. Bind yourself ...

April 23rd, 2016

Love is hard because everyone is crazy

Interesting:

In a wiser society, prospective partners would put each other through detailed psychological questionnaires and send themselves off to be assessed at length by teams of psychologists. By 2100, this will no longer sound like a joke. The mystery will be why it took humanity so long to get to this point. We need to know the intimate functioning of the psyche of the person we’re planning to marry. We need to know their attitudes to, or stance on, ...

April 23rd, 2016

Weddings are not over

This is a very silly and stupid rant. This particular fight doesn’t really touch me directly. I’ve only been to two weddings in my life, for cousins, and I was young and I had to go. That was back in the 80s or 90s. But excess at weddings is likely to continue. Wealth in the USA is concentrating, and the working class no longer gets married, so marriage has emerged as a powerful status symbol. 50 years ago, when ...

April 22nd, 2016

If your characters don’t interact then you don’t have a story

I love this:

Maybe it’s the rape, or the violence, or how it’s really boring. Everyone seems to have an opinion about why Game of Thrones, once a mesmerizing fantasy land that darkly mirrored modern day dilemmas, has become near unwatchable. (Which is not to say people have by any means ceased to watch it.) But there is one reason that rises above them all, and it is very simple.

Hardly any of the characters on Game of Thrones interact with each ...

April 17th, 2016

Funny:

Live from the Great Stagnation: Why in the past two centuries hasn’t there been a tea blend developed that I like more than Earl Grey? What is wrong with our innovation system—or with me?

Wikipedia: Earl Grey: “In one case study, a patient who consumed four litres of Earl Grey tea per day reported muscle cramps, which were attributed to the function of the bergapten in bergamot oil as a potassium channel blocker. The symptoms subsided upon reducing his consumption ...

April 10th, 2016

What is education really for?

Interesting:

Forager children aren’t told what to do; they just wander around and do what they like. But they get bored and want to be respected like adults, so eventually they follow some adults around and ask to be shown how to do things. In this process they sometimes have to take orders, but only until they are no longer novices. They don’t have a single random boss they don’t respect, but can instead be trained by many adults, can select ...

April 10th, 2016

What do AWS services actually do?

I love this:

Data Pipeline Should have been called Amazon ETL

Glacier Should have been called Really slow Amazon S3

Kinesis Should have been called Amazon High Throughput It’s like Kafka

I have used this but I did not know the name:

Snowball Should have been called AWS Big Old Portable Storage Use this to Get a bunch of hard drives you can attach to your network to make getting large amounts (Terabytes of Data) into and out of AWS It’s like Shipping a Network Attached Storage device to AWS

These are useful names that actually describe what ...

April 10th, 2016

The rare moments I help someone

I wish I was more active helping out on open source projects. The few times I’ve contributed, advice or code, I tend to get positive feedback.

And my code suggestions are not wholly misplaced:

So really, why don’t I do this more often? I really am not sure. I suppose the desire to start my own business had me focus all my efforts on that, instead of the various open source communities?

Source

April 10th, 2016

Femslash and the growing power of fandom

I’m not saying anything new if I say that fandom has changed the relationship between the reader and the author. I have the impression this change started in Japan and has been imported to the USA. That’s despite fandom mostly living on the Internet and the Internet having been mostly developed in the USA.

Fandoms influence on authors tends to be trivial. Two characters who have never kissed, but of whom there is slash fiction, end up kissing, and the ...

April 1st, 2016

What does the word herbivore mean?

The herbivore serial killers:

He then spent six years in the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado, along with Charles Brown of the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma – and watched the squirrel death toll soar to 163.

“It boggles the imagination that something like that was going on under our noses and we didn’t notice,” says Hoogland. He describes the killings as “quick, subtle and unanticipated”.

While some prairie dogs chased the squirrels, others stalked them, waited outside their burrows or even ...

April 1st, 2016

Planning the wedding a long time before the wedding

Interesting and funny:

OK here’s the thing. Knowing what you want to wear…. sure. Fine. Its a time you get to wear a pretty dress. But until you’re kind of close to the actual deal, I absolutely can’t stand it when women taaaaalk and talk about a wedding that isn’t even remotely on the map. I’m in a in a 6 year relationship that’s headed towards marriage; I love TV shows like Say Yes to the Dress – I still don’t ...

March 27th, 2016

The fanaticism of “test driven development” is slowly fading

This was one of those trends that went too far and I’m glad to see people talking about reasonable limits:

If you’re part of the Ruby On Rails community for a long time, you’ve probably read tons of articles about testing Rails application (less these days, though). Although there always have been diverging opinions on the matter, it seems the common wisdom was to say that you had to test everything: models, controllers, views and full-stack tests. Oh, and you had ...

March 27th, 2016

Automation is putting people out of work

This should frighten people out of their complacency. Also, the trend starts in1958, not 1976.

From Tyler Cowen:

You sometimes hear there is no evidence of automation putting people out of work, but arguably the automation of manufacturing, plus IT-enabled foreign competition, are significant factors behind this trend. This picture also casts doubt on the common view that there are hidden real wage increases, not picked up by standard data and wage deflators and the like. You would expect ...

March 27th, 2016

The languages of politics

Conservatives prefer the certainty of nouns:

This use of nouns, rather than adjectives, is seen to preserve stability, familiarity and tradition – all of which appear to be valued more highly by conservatives than liberals.

Because nouns ‘elicit clearer and more definite perceptions of reality than other parts of speech’, they satisfy the desire for ‘structure and certainty’ that is common among social conservatives, the research authors found.

The research was based on studies carried out in three countries – Poland, Lebanon, ...

March 27th, 2016

Churchill’s vivid writing

I’m coming back to writing lately, after 20 years, and I find that self-expression means very little to me now, whereas making money does, so I am much more interested in writing things that other people will find entertaining. So I can relate to this bit about Churchill’s writing:

In fact Churchill resigned from the Conservative front bench in the 1930s so he could earn more money as a writer and to some extent make up for these losses; that ...

March 26th, 2016

Are bootcamps better than University?

My Europeans friends think its weird that universities in the USA insist that students take a wide range of classes. In Europe, university is seen as a time when one becomes a specialist in a particular skill. For instance, in Poland, it is common for a person to go to university for 5 years and graduate with the equivalent of a masters in a given field.

Especially considering how expensive university has become in the USA, asking students to take ...

March 26th, 2016

Why are women paid less than men?

Interesting:

That sounds like a truism, but the academic work behind it helps explain the pay gap’s persistence even as the factors long thought to cause it have disappeared. Women, for example, are now better educated than men, have nearly as much work experience and are equally likely to pursue many high-paying careers. No longer can the gap be dismissed with pat observations that women outnumber men in lower-paying jobs like teaching and social work.

A new study from researchers at ...

March 26th, 2016

RESTful APIs are dead, long live GraphQL

We can argue whether RESTful APIs ever existed, since very few ever implemented HATEOAS. Ruby On Rails claimed it offered RESTful APIs, but it never offered HATEOAS. After 10 years of failure, the world is looking for something new.

Interesting:

Imagine we have a simple application that fetches a list of stories, and some details about each one. Here’s how that might look in resource-oriented REST:

// Fetch the list of story IDs but not their details: rest.get('/stories').then(stories => // This ...

March 26th, 2016

Picking React isn’t a technology decision, it’s a business decision

Interesting:

The clear winner right now, is React. Components all the way down makes your application much easier to reason about. The learning curve is very flat. The important APIs would fit on one page. JSX is awesome. You get all the power of JavaScript and its tooling when writing your markup. It is the natural match for Flux and Redux (more on that later). The React community is amazing, and produced many best of breed tools such as Redux (also more on that later). Writing high ...

March 26th, 2016

Pay discrimination in tech

Women who write the software that runs on mainframe computers earn on average 72 cents per dollar earned by their male counterparts, according to research conducted by Glassdoor Inc., the online job information firm. That pay gap exists even after controlling for age, education, experience, job title, employer and location.

This suggests that the gap widens with age:

However, not all tech jobs pay men and women so differently. Among mobile developers, there is just a 2.9% gap between ...

March 26th, 2016

Everyone is laughing over this. An 11 line function as its own NPM module? I am unsure how I feel. The trend has been to smaller and smaller pieces of functionality. I don’t find this outrageous. Still, the parody is funny:

c4n4rd is game:

This is really exciting!!! I was a bit disappointed that the right-pad will be out only in 2017. I am looking forward to that release because there is a high demand for it now.

What kind of ...

March 26th, 2016

null

Testing WordPress to see if a title of “Null” works.

Source

March 26th, 2016

How long can an unsustainable economy grow?

Interesting, but wrong:

During the good times, “we always wanted to grow just a little more than we otherwise could.” There was always a reason why, if a little bit of growth was good, more would be even better. It was very easy to justify various kinds of mischief — from annual deficits to artificially low interest rates — in order to wring just a little more growth out of the economy. This is true whether your goals were motivated by ...

March 26th, 2016

What name should the children get?

Interesting:

As my belly grew, the comments got even stranger. I had secretly hoped for no reaction, for our choice to be as common as saying, “I went with the mustard instead of the ketchup.” No reaction would mean something good, right? That women in this country are, for example, no longer considered the property of men, even in name. That archaic systems are truly collapsing. That we can reclaim language that was formerly used to control us.

But it seemed, ...

March 22nd, 2016

The First Civil War may end in time for the Second

Yet another sign that people are increasingly ready to move beyond the First Civil War:

Maryland lawmakers took a step Thursday toward scrubbing references to “Northern scum” and other Civil War-era phrases from the official state song.

The Maryland Senate voted 37-8 for the changes, while also recognizing “Maryland, My Maryland” as the state’s historic song. Supporters of the measure, which now goes to the House, said it was a compromise that removes offensive language and recognizes history.

“They keep the historic ...

March 22nd, 2016

History is not individuals

I’ve noticed this too. We’ve come a long way from Braudel:

As I more closely looked at the books displayed, I noticed a peculiarity. Almost all books … on the French, Russian and Chinese revolutions were not only critical of the revolutions, focused on the destruction they wreaked, but were exposés of their leaders, of their murderous natures and sexual perversions. Robespierre is a green-spectacled misanthrope who never had sex; Lenin hated people and loved only his mistress; Stalin was not ...

March 22nd, 2016

The monoculture of tech

Worrisome and very true:

(3), combined with (1), gets at what TrendCo’s real complaint with Mike is. He’s not their type. TrendCo’s median employee is a recent graduate from one of maybe ten “top” schools with 0-2 years of experience. They have a few experienced hires, but not many, and most of their experienced hires have something trendy on their resume, not a boring old company like Microsoft.

Whether or not you think there’s anything wrong with having a type and rejecting ...

March 22nd, 2016

The end of what was in San Francisco

Rarely does there seem so extreme a case of affluent people moving to a city because it seems creative, and then, by their own efforts, killing off the creativity.

I just can’t. I was born in San Francisco; my parents live there, today.

Gentrification is real and palpable. Once cozy neighbourhoods have become playthings for the rich and entitled. Where botánicas once opened their doors, now pricey designers have moved their precious boutiques. Where once a freewheeling, affordable, ...

March 18th, 2016

The big trials remind us of the changing times

Oscar Wilde’s trial reminds us of where gay rights stood in the 1890s, his astonishingly bold defense of gay sex reminds us that Victorians standards were beginning to crack. Big trials do that, they make an era vivid. The same is true of the trial of O J Simpson, which reminds us of where race relations were in 1994/1995.

I’d forgotten how much Marcia Clark was herself put on trial during the trial:

But, surely, the hardest part ...

March 18th, 2016

The end of the test-first mania

It worries me that the tech industry is driven by such intense manias, which have cost me several jobs. For a long time you were not allowed to question Object Oriented Programming. I still go to job interviews and I’m asked the basics of Object Oriented Programming, and it is clear I have to say nice things about Object Oriented Programming or I won’t get the job. Thankfully none of these people ever check Wikipedia, where I am cited as ...

March 18th, 2016

How the movies talk about authoritarian tendencies

I don’t understand why the movies need to use superheroes to talk about these issues, but it is good they are talking about these issues:

Source

March 17th, 2016

The new politics at National Review

There are some fundamentally new politics being expressed by the National Review. In some ways, these beliefs sound like the unpopular conservative beliefs of the era before 1958, which is basically the era before the National Review (which got going in 1955 and which helped launch the modern conservative movement). There is an aspect to this writing that expresses the contempt that wealthy Protestants expressed for the working class back in the 1800s. Really, this is a kind of politics ...

March 17th, 2016

Onyx tested by Jespen is genius tested by genius

Good lord, this makes me happy. I think Michael Drogalis is a very smart guy and everyone knows that Kyle Kingsbury is a very, very smart guy. Kingsbury’s work on Jespen is the finest work that anyone has ever done on the problems of distributed data. Onyx is exciting as an a Clojure answer to Apache Storm. Sad to say, Storm is written in Scala. The idea of testing Onxy with Jespen is one of the finest ideas ...

March 17th, 2016

How to erase a woman from her biography

To the extent that identity is imbued in the body and manifests as a nose or an eyebrow or a skin color, then changing a nose or an eyebrow or a skin color, even in subtle ways, can erase a person’s identity.

I do not believe and never said that the nearly all-white team behind film are out-and-out racists who sought to disrespect Nina Simone’s legacy. But, as Coates notes, “racism is a default setting,” and unless we are doing ...

March 17th, 2016

Living Social has raised more than $900 million to date And it is dying. They just laid off more than half their staff. How do you gain so much investment and then die? Was the whole business opportunity a fad? An illusion? Source March 17th, 2016 No Comments The new politics in the USA This is worrisome: Source March 17th, 2016 In Business No Comments Dov Charney continues to self destruct This is one of the more extreme examples of self destruction in recent USA business history. Source March 14th, 2016 No Comments The math teacher who could not read his own math writings Interesting: Source March 14th, 2016 No Comments You can know someone day in, day out, love them completely and never really understand them Interesting: And that occurred to me over and over again as I read through the book. Couples tend have a lot of the same squabbles over money, domestic labor division, sex, free time, for a reason. But this book is not really a test of this couple; it’s a test of marriage itself. In a way, it’s an indictment of an institution that will take even the most easy going, low-key, adventuresome couple and leave them standing in the kitchen arguing ... Read More Source March 14th, 2016 No Comments Unix processes have gotten bigger and slower over the years Interesting: The obvious question thus is: Why state machines? Why not processes or threads? And the obvious answer is: Performance. When UNIX was still young, scheduling was supposed to be done by the OS on per-process basis. When implementing a network server, for example, you were supposed to fork a new instance of the process for each TCP connection and rely on the OS scheduler to switch between the processes. I guess it made sense from performance point of view back then. All ... Read More Source March 12th, 2016 No Comments Had Linda been more confident, we’d have won Interesting: The other night, I was reminded that under-confidence also has costs. In our pub quiz one of my team-mates suggested several answers but with little confidence, causing our captain to choose other answers. However, she was right every time and our captain wrong. The upshot was that we slumped to an abject defeat to the bottom team in the league. Had Linda been more confident, we’d have won. Is that right? Surely most of the blame attaches to the captain? What ... Read More Source March 10th, 2016 No Comments Jakub Holý on copying :pre and :post conditions Obviously I have read this article before (I offered response and was quoted before) but I’ve gone back to read it again and this jumped out at me: Do you repeat the same checks again and again? Then you could either copy them using with-meta (they end-up in metadata anyway) or reuse the explicitly: (defn with-valid-car [f] (fn [car] {:pre [:make :model :year]} (f car))) (def count-price (with-valid-car (fn [car] (do-something car)))) ;; or make & use a macro to make it nicer That ... Read More Source March 10th, 2016 No Comments Garth Greenwell talks about the importance, and the cost, of gay marriage Very interesting: I certainly was aware—and I was aware of this as a reader, and I was aware of this as somebody in the literary community—of this stigma about gay books. And I was also aware of a kind of gap between the generation of these trailblazers like Edmund White and Andrew Holleran, and my generation, in terms of those novels that document gay life at a particular moment. One explanation for that is very obvious: It’s AIDS. Another explanation for that, ... Read More Source March 9th, 2016 No Comments Sweden leads the world in the ratio of women to men getting college degrees Interesting: In 2013, six million students across OECD countries graduated from a higher education institution with a bachelor’s degree; 58% of them were women. This percentage ranges from 69% in Sweden [emphasis added] to 45% in Japan. Besides Japan, only Germany, Korea, Switzerland and Turkey still have more male than female graduates. Source March 9th, 2016 In Business No Comments The history of temporary workers Interesting: Northwestern Mutual was not unique. For instance, “a large Milwaukee bank” faced the rising challenge of data entry, but the cost of the machines to enter the data—“Comptometers”—was prohibitive. Instead of hiring more people to work during the day, which would have required more machines, the bank hired “several hundred temporaries [to work] during a short evening shift” doing the data entry on the machines that the permanent staff could not. The hours of expensive overtime became hours of cheaper ... Read More Source March 9th, 2016 No Comments What used to be bad about Microsoft Apparently this has gotten better under the new CEO: In my (very-biased) opinion, I believe collaboration is fundamentally broken at Microsoft. It is all about politics, not great outcomes, and that is absolute death in a functional organization, which has nothing but collaboration to hold together cross-functional product teams. At least in a divisional model all of the relevant team members have a common product and a common boss, meaning everyone has no choice but to work together. Unless the employee ... Read More Source March 8th, 2016 No Comments Why women leave the STEM fields These are worrisome stories: I have my masters in a STEM field (forensic biology) and worked in the industry for 7 years before quitting and shifting careers completely. The terrifying and extremely persistent offers on late-night scenes, comments in the lab, and straight-up harassment from police officers in the field meant that I had to be an emotionless robot all the time or else risk my reputation/credibility. In many cases, my unresponsiveness made it worse and made the guy in ... Read More Source February 27th, 2016 In Business No Comments Why is Slack popular? I have been deeply confused about the rise of Slack, since it does not offer any new features that I am aware of. There have been a million chat applications over the years, all offering roughly the same mix of features that Slack offers. How Slack managed to hit such a sweet spot, in such a crowded market, is deeply puzzling to me. I wish I could say that this article revealed some great truth to me, but it actually ... Read More Source February 27th, 2016 No Comments When will New York City have a functioning subway system? There is too much truth in this: No man is an island except a man who lives in Williamsburg because the L train, his lifeline between Manhattan and home and the parties he is just slightly too old to attend in Bushwick, is definitely going to be shut down or at least crippled for many months or even years so there will be no way for him to get to any of those places, requiring that he be almost entirely ... Read More Source February 17th, 2016 In Business No Comments Boom and bust, money and poverty This is from Paul Graham, though it also describes me: I was tired of being poor. I was working as a freelance programmer, and it was this sort of boom/bust thing where I would get money and then I would run out of money, and then it would be a disaster, and I just got tired of it. And then I thought, “I’m just going to work until I won’t run out of money.” Source February 15th, 2016 No Comments Sick politics is the driving force of useless ceremony This is part 7 of a 12 part series: 1.) Quincy’s Restaurant, a parable about concurrency 2.) Why I hate all articles about design patterns 3.) Clojure has mutable state 4.) Immutability changes everything 5.) Mutable iterators are the work of the Devil 6.) Get rid of all Dependency Injection 7.) Sick politics is the driving force of useless ceremony 8.) Functional programming is not the same as static data-type checking Interlude 9.) Inheritance has nothing to do with Objects 10.) Is there a syntax for immutability? 11.) Immutability enables concurrency 12.) Quincy’s ... Read More Source February 14th, 2016 No Comments The first duty of an artist is to survive I recently got done writing a parody of the craziness of the current tech startup scene, in particular the many scam artists and pretend “visionaries” who have been pulled into the scene by the recent gold rush mentality. The antagonist is a man named Titian, who is distrusted by most of the artists and creative types that he needs to move his project forward. They regard him as a pretend visionary. At a large gathering, he gives a dinner toast, ... Read More Source February 14th, 2016 No Comments We never know the hour I am not religious, but since Jess is gone, I have been thinking about that quote in the Bible Matthew 24:36: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” I was writing a bit of fiction, and in it the antagonist must convince a bunch of artistic types to trust him. They do not trust him. Over a year ago, I wrote most of his speech as ... Read More Source February 14th, 2016 No Comments Goodbye Jess, I will miss you very much It’s been 3 weeks, but I remain in a state of shock. My dear friend Jess is dead. She was a truly amazing human being. I will miss her more than I can easily say. She was murdered in Grenada, where she and her husband had gone on vacation. Grenada is generally thought to be a safe island, so this is astonishing on many, many levels. Jess originally thought she would make a career in publishing. After college, Jess went ... Read More Source February 13th, 2016 No Comments Immutability changes everything (Acknowledgements: I offer a huge “Thank you” to Natalie Sidner for the tremendous editing she did on the rough draft of this post. To the extent that this article is readable, it is thanks to her. Any mistakes are entirely my fault, and I probably added them after she was done editing. If you need to hire a good editor, contact Natalie Sidner at “nataliesidner at gmail dot com”. Also, I thank Blanche Krubner for reviewing this work. As Mrs Krubner studied ... Read More Source February 13th, 2016 No Comments Functional programming is not the same as static data-type checking (Note: Leah McCloskey is a brilliant illustrator who brings warmth and humor to every graphic she creates. She is also head of design at Haystack.im. Save for those rights which she specifically granted to me, she reserves all rights on these images, so if you wish to re-use them, then you must contact her directly at leah @ dendritecorp.com. I am grateful that she found the time to work on this project. View her portfolio!) This is part 8 of a ... Read More Source February 11th, 2016 No Comments Why are great artists so weird? The newest theories in science are invented by outsiders? Why are committees so awful? Because they move to consensus? Source February 10th, 2016 No Comments Interlude I am mostly done writing the second half of this series, however, it needs to be edited, some code needs to be written, all of the code needs to be checked, and I need to work with Leah McCloskey to develop further cartoons for illustrating the points made in this series. Also, I have a full time job. So it will likely be 2 or 3 months before I can publish the second half of this series. The series is ... Read More Source February 10th, 2016 No Comments Get rid of all Dependency Injection This is part 6 of a 12 part series: 1.) Quincy’s Restaurant, a parable about concurrency 2.) Why I hate all articles about design patterns 3.) Clojure has mutable state 4.) Immutability changes everything 5.) Mutable iterators are the work of the Devil 6.) Get rid of all Dependency Injection 7.) Sick politics is the driving force of useless ceremony 8.) Functional programming is not the same as static data-type checking Interlude 9.) Inheritance has nothing to do with objects 10.) Is there a syntax for immutability? 11.) Immutability enables concurrency 12.) Quincy’s ... Read More Source February 10th, 2016 No Comments Mutable iterators are the work of the Devil This is part 5 of a 12 part series: 1.) Quincy’s Restaurant, a parable about concurrency 2.) Why I hate all articles about design patterns 3.) Clojure has mutable state 4.) Immutability changes everything 5.) Mutable iterators are the work of the Devil 6.) Get rid of all Dependency Injection 7.) Sick politics is the driving force of useless ceremony 8.) Functional programming is not the same as static data-type checking Interlude 9.) Inheritance has nothing to do with objects 10.) Is there a syntax for immutability? 11.) Immutability enables concurrency 12.) Quincy’s ... Read More Source February 10th, 2016 No Comments Clojure has mutable state Warning: This post is an intro to mutable state in Clojure. If you already know Clojure, you can skip this. If you have no interest in learning Clojure, you can skip this. This is part 3 of a 12 part series: 1.) Quincy’s Restaurant, a parable about concurrency 2.) Why I hate all articles about design patterns 3.) Clojure has mutable state 4.) Immutability changes everything 5.) Mutable iterators are the work of the Devil 6.) Get rid of all Dependency Injection 7.) Sick politics is the ... Read More Source February 10th, 2016 No Comments Why I hate all articles about design patterns Warning: This article merely describes what I hope to achieve with this series. There is no software code in this article. Those who wish to stay focused on those articles that are focused on code should skip this article. Since I am here describing my personal motivations for writing, this article is necessarily the most self-indulgent of the articles in this series. This is part 2 of a 12 part series: 1.) Quincy’s Restaurant, a parable about concurrency 2.) Why I hate ... Read More Source February 10th, 2016 No Comments A parable about concurrency (demonstrated with comical cartoons) (Note: Leah McCloskey is a brilliant illustrator who brings warmth and humor to every graphic she creates. She is also head of design at Haystack.im. Save for those rights which she specifically granted to me, she reserves all rights on these images, so if you wish to re-use them, then you must contact her directly at leah @ dendritecorp.com. I am grateful that she found the time to work on this project. View her portfolio!) This is part 1 of a ... Read More Source February 9th, 2016 No Comments Why does Erlang allow so many processes to crash and how does promote reliability? Why does Erlang encourage crashes? Back-burning and controlled burns are a real world example of fighting fire with fire. In Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, the region I come from, blueberry fields are routinely burnt down in a controlled manner to help encourage and renew their growth. To prevent forest fires, it is fairly frequent to see unhealthy parts of a forest cleaned up with fire, so that it can be done under proper supervision and control. The main objective there is to remove ... Read More Source February 8th, 2016 No Comments The importance of fun Virginia Postrel at her best: Bell was, however, wrong, or at least incomplete. He confused the pursuit of happiness with the pursuit of sensation and left out the creative, productive role of play. He saw the California of hot tubs and casual sex (this was the ’70s) but ignored the Silicon Valley and Hollywood that worked practically round-the-clock. He both embraced and condemned the bureaucratic Organization Man but couldn’t imagine that a dynamic culture would find a more interesting, more productive, ... Read More Source February 7th, 2016 No Comments Dorothy Thompson examines the fascists in 1941 August of 1941. The USA has not yet joined the war. But which of the guests at a dinner party would join up with the Nazis? Dorothy Thompson examines the different psychological types: Sometimes I think there are direct biological factors at work—a type of education, feeding, and physical training which has produced a new kind of human being with an imbalance in his nature. He has been fed vitamins and filled with energies that are beyond the capacity of his ... Read More Source February 6th, 2016 No Comments A recursive definition of what an expression is I like this: We’ll give a recursive definition of what an expression is; in other words, we’ll state what the most basic kind of expression is, we’ll say how to create new, more complex expressions out of existing expressions, and we’ll say that only things made in this way are valid expressions. Variables are valid expressions. If ee is any expression, and xx is any variable, then λx.eλx.e is an expression. Here it helps to think of e as typically (thought not ... Read More Source February 6th, 2016 No Comments Hindley-Milner and the lambda calculus A nice attempt to explain the crazy syntax of the math that formalizes the idea that the type of an expression can be deduced from the expression itself: Okay, so we want to talk about expressions. Arbitrary expressions. In an arbitrary language. And we want to talk about inferring types of these expressions. And we want to figure out rules for how we can infer types. And then we’re going to want to make an algorithm that uses these rules to ... Read More Source February 6th, 2016 No Comments When we are held back by our plans Jessica Abel suggests that sometimes our plans take the place of action. I got this term from Kazu Kibuishi when I interviewed him for Out on the Wire episode 7: Dark Forest. His name for the concept was new to me, but it solved a huge problem: what to call this struggle with creative sunk costs that I understand all too intimately. Here’s Kazu: I try not to to look at what I’m going to do as this amazing great grand ... Read More Source February 6th, 2016 No Comments I miss the old blogosphere I am reminded of the quality of the conversations back then. I can recall a time when I my daily activity included checking on the weblogs of people such as Shelley Powers, Jeneane Sessum and Tara Hunt, among many others. Something important was lost when that blogosphere ended. Several people did respond to the statement, both in my comments, in a post that Jeneane Sessum wrote and also in Tara’s posts. She didn’t specifically mention this in her second post, ... Read More Source February 6th, 2016 No Comments A major turnover of the population in Europe around 14,500 years ago A dramatic turnover in the population of Europe, as the region began to warm: The new data show that the mitochondrial DNA of three individuals who lived in present-day Belgium and France before the coldest period in the last Ice Age—the Last Glacial Maximum—belonged to haplogroup M. This is remarkable because the M haplogroup is effectively absent in modern Europeans but is extremely common in modern Asian, Australasian, and Native American populations. The absence of the M haplogroup and its ... Read More Source February 6th, 2016 No Comments The casualties of casual dismissal I like the phrase: And the larger LARGER problem for the blogosphere and twitterspehere is that a culture is developing — thanks in part to time-saving, fragment-tossing platforms like twitter, that by design silence dissenting voices — we have all become easy targets for extinction, the casualties of casual dismissal. THAT’s what bothered me about this situation, about what Mike said to Shelley, about what Mike and others said about Lane without asking Lane anything, and STILL DOES bother me. ... Read More Source February 6th, 2016 In Business No Comments Number of women in IT-related positions dropped by 20% in the last decade This is from 2005. Worrisome that such excellent writing had no impact. Recently, the Information Technology Association of America released a report examining the state of diversity in IT in the United States and the results are less than comforting: IT is rapidly becoming less diversified, rather than more. According to the study the *number of women in IT-related positions dropped by 20% in the last decade. This in light of the fact that women in other traditionally male professions are ... Read More Source February 6th, 2016 No Comments Does weblogging disempower women? From 2005: I guess that other than this is my area of interest and my essay and so therefore I see the issue as more global, a key difference, to me, is that technology and weblogging have become so tightly intertwined; even more so than journalism and weblogging. After all, isn’t the focus of BlogHer’s first session on the technology, and its impacts? If the number of women in technology has declined in the last eight years, about the same length ... Read More Source February 6th, 2016 No Comments When did bloggers start counting links? This post, by Shelley Powers, in 2005, is a treasure trove of lost blogging culture: Three or four years ago or so, weblogging didn’t seem to be as competitive. Oh, some folks would brandish their web site hit count, and demand we bend down and kiss the dusty hems of their royal robes. But for the most part, we seemed to be a mish-mash of people, some who had more readers than others. I’m not sure when we started counting links. I ... Read More Source February 6th, 2016 In Business No Comments Can boycotts help diversity in the tech industry? Another old post from Shelley Powers. This one is from 2005: A few years back, Clay Shirky held a invite-only meeting in New York, and a person who attended posted photos. As we looked at them, it became obvious, glaring really, that not only were all the attendees white, all but a few were men. We pointed this out and it started a conversation that ended up pulling in Clay’s good friend, Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Publishing. We began to look ... Read More Source February 6th, 2016 No Comments Has there been any improvement for women in tech? Despite the current conversations about diversity in tech, it is interesting to go back and read someone like Shelley Powers, who wrote a lot about the issue 10 years ago. I’m left with the impression that things are still getting worse. She complains that merely talking about gender and tech gets her dismissed as a niche writer: I don’t believe I’ve commented on anything related to ‘feminism’ or bias against women in his weblog. I may have noted the hostility ... Read More Source February 6th, 2016 In Business No Comments Is Github in crisis? It seems like Github started with a flat structure, and then stuck with that for far too long. That seems to be a recurring trend in the tech industry, where a lot of software developers have an almost ideological commitment to the idea of unstructured businesses. But history teaches us that as a business grows larger, it needs to structure itself. Github is now struggling to do so. Now Wanstrath is on a mission to overhaul Github, with full support ... Read More Source February 6th, 2016 In Business No Comments There is deep denial about the problems of diversity in the tech industry This is a breath-taking example of the kind of denial that pervades the tech industry regarding issues such as racism and sexism: Programmers are abstract thinkers Right. All programmers are exactly the same. We are a homogenous group. None of us could possibly engage in racism, because we exist at a higher level. The full comment: Programmers are abstract thinkers, and it’s disgusting to see them lower themselves and adopt the semantics and memes of obvious cultural constructs like race. What ... Read More Source February 6th, 2016 No Comments Paul Krugman sometimes starts with a graph and then goes to learn the math I am glad to hear this from someone so well-known, because I’ve leaned in this direction myself: My own mathematical intuition, and a lot of my economic intuition in general, is visual: I tend to start with a picture, then work out both the math and the verbal argument to make sense of that picture. (Sometimes I have to learn the math, as I did on target zones; the picture points me to the math I need.) I know that’s ... Read More Source February 5th, 2016 In Business No Comments Problems at Github I have been wondering why Github doesn’t add all the features that people obviously want. Apparently others have been wondering the same thing. Searching previous commits is an obvious one, especially since I can do it at the command line. Real issue tracking is another. A real wiki is another. The big surprise is that so little has changed in the last 5 years. Github in 2016 has basically the same features it had when I started using it in ... Read More Source February 5th, 2016 No Comments When no one listens, perhaps violent and ruthless truth-telling will save us A very interesting quote from Keynes: My book is completed and will be issued in a fortnight’s time. I am now so saturated with it that I am quite unable to make any judgement on its contents. But the general condition of Europe at this moment seems to demand some attempt at an éclairecissement of the situation created by the treaty, even more than when I first sat down to write. We are faced not only by the isolation policy of ... Read More Source February 5th, 2016 In Business No Comments Students do not study the fields that might pay the most? I am ambivalent about this post. It seems to imply that STEM fields pay more than the arts. But funding for science has been cut dramatically over the last 40 years, and many engineering jobs have left the country due to the decline in industrial employment. STEM wages have been stagnant for decades. That people should prefer STEM careers is non-obvious. If there was real demand for STEM workers, we would see large wage increases in STEM fields, and clearly ... Read More Source February 5th, 2016 In Business No Comments The importance of institutions for economic growth This is good: Source February 5th, 2016 In Business No Comments When a company runs out of money, its managers may suffer meltdowns Some people (including my brother) had trouble believing that Milburn of Celolot would actually lose his temper with me. But it does happen, especially when a company is running out of business. So this story about screaming fits at Nasty Girl is easy for me to believe: Several recently departed employees told Jezebel in June that the company had become an extremely dysfunctional place to work. The company was sued for allegedly firing several pregnant employees, during or just after ... Read More Source February 3rd, 2016 No Comments Destroy the old cells to regenerate the body Interesting: Mice whose senescent cells were killed off over six months were healthier, in several ways, than a control group of transgenic mice in which these cells were allowed to build up. Their kidneys worked better and their hearts were more resilient to stress, they tended to explore their cages more and they developed cancers at a later age. Eliminating senescent cells also extended the lifespans of the mice by 20–30%, Baker and van Deursen report in Nature on 3 February1. The ... Read More Source February 3rd, 2016 No Comments Fasting has benefits even if your long-term calorie intake is unchanged Surprising: Bimonthly cycles that lasted four days of an FMD which started at middle age extended life span, reduced the incidence of cancer, boosted the immune system, reduced inflammatory diseases, slowed bone mineral density loss and improved the cognitive abilities of older mice tracked in the study. The total monthly calorie intake was the same for the FMD and control diet groups, indicating that the effects were not the result of an overall dietary restriction. In a pilot human trial, three cycles ... Read More Source February 3rd, 2016 No Comments Beware of Ruby libraries that generate way too many objects This is several years old and Ruby garbage collection has gotten better, but still, the point about certain libraries being excessive remains valid. Be aware that you are allocating objects, for instance something as simple as 100.times{ ‘foo’ } allocates 100 string objects (strings are mutable and therefore each version requires its own memory allocation). Make sure to evaluate the libraries you use, for instance switching a Sinatra XML rendering action from Builder to Nokogiri XML Builder saved us about ... Read More Source February 3rd, 2016 No Comments Pat Shaughnessy dissects how much work Ruby has to do to give you a string Easy is difficult, and this is a great look at how much work Ruby has to do so that you, the software developer, can change your mind about what kind of string you want: The standard and most common way for Ruby to save string data is in the “heap.” The heap is a core concept of the C language: it’s a large pool of memory that C programmers can allocate from and use via a call to the malloc ... Read More Source February 3rd, 2016 No Comments Software development is a complex system of multiple poorly understood feedback loops and interactions I wouldn’t use exactly the same words that this article uses, but I agree with the gist of this part, especially where small, fast-moving startups are involved : Finely grained management of software developers is compelling to a business. Any organization craves control. We want to know what we are getting in return for those expensive developer salaries. We want to be able to accurately estimate the time taken to deliver a system in order to do an effective cost-benefit analysis ... Read More Source February 2nd, 2016 No Comments Leonardo Borges’s Imminent for futures and promises Very interesting: For the impatient, I’ve included a couple of examples below. I’ve chosen to translate the examples presented by Ben Christensen – of RxJava – in this gist. Albeit them being in Java, they highlight perfectly the problem with blocking futures. Here’s their Clojure equivalent: ;; ;; Example 1, 2 & 3 are handled by the approach below ;; Original examples: https://gist.github.com/benjchristensen/4671081#file-futuresb-java-L13 ;; (defn example-1 [] (let [f1 (remote-service-a) f2 ... Read More Source February 2nd, 2016 No Comments Why the tech community rejected XML Interesting: Java was a very limited language, and it was extremely verbose. There were type declarations and coersions everywhere. Almost all looping was managed with for loops (there were no higher order functions, and recursion wasn’t tail cail optimized… also there was no loop-recur macro…). So XML wasn’t just there to be data, it was also code. Everyone wrote little mini-languages into XML, because some things were so damn painful to express in Java that it was easier to just implement ... Read More Source February 2nd, 2016 No Comments Clojure community problems Interesting: What an amazing language. Relatively frequent, consistently stable releases. A pleasure to use. A friendly, smart community. I feel very lucky to be a Clojure user! Thank you for all of your hard work. The Clojure contrib process frustrates me more than any technical or community aspect of the language. Clojure gets a lot right, but as has been repeatedly discussed the pace of evolution and the maintainership’s dim view of 3rd party non-bugfix work flatly leads to worthy but minor ... Read More Source February 1st, 2016 In Business No Comments The founder of ThoughWorks is radical Interesting: Singham believes his company’s culture is its most valuable asset and a major reason it’s has been growing rapidly for the past five years – even in the industry’s darkest post-bubble days. “How do intellectuals collaborate in the 21st century?” Singham asks, then answers his own question: “Self-organizing in small teams, poly-skilled, decentralized, non-authoritative. Libertarians and socialists agree on this, ironically.” Singham is refreshingly candid about his struggle to reconcile his politics with his approach to business: He wants software to be ... Read More Source January 31st, 2016 No Comments We want loose-coupling and high cohesion This seems like a great rule of thumb for microservices: “We want to avoid dumb, anemic services that are little more than CRUD wrappers” But it doesn’t cover the old territory which, if you were using Ruby or PHP, you would cover with a cron script. I suppose all the cron scripts must become functions that live inside the “service” which deals with a given part of the datastore. But that is not how my friends talk about “microservices”. Page 58, ... Read More Source January 31st, 2016 No Comments A message hospital (or dead letter queue), where messages got sent if they failed I like this book very much. I also like the idea of a “message hospital”. Page 57, Building Microservices, Sam Newman: Time for a cautionary tale. Back in 2006, I was working on building a pricing system for a bank. We would look at market events, and work out which items in a portfolio needed to be repriced. Once we determined the list of things to work through, we put these all onto a message queue. We were making use of a ... Read More Source January 31st, 2016 In Business No Comments The early excitement about Facebook is long forgotten Nowadays the tech community finds a home on either Twitter or Google+. Software developers think of Facebook as a social platform, but not so much of a place they would go to write about their technology ideas (I’m sure this happens to some extent, but not as much as on Twitter or Google+). Still, there were a few years, perhaps from 2007 to 2010, when many folks in the tech community were looking at Facebook with great excitement. Facebook appeared ... Read More Source January 31st, 2016 No Comments Jon Williams, Fractional CTO: Include business teams in the Agile process Jon Williams offers a smart idea about getting the business people and the tech team to share as much information as possible, and even have the business people join the scum sessions. The best implementation of the Agile process that I ever participated in was at ShermansTravel.com, back in 2011/2012. We had fairly good communication between the tech team and the folks running the actual parts of the business: editorial, advertising, marketing and more. A lot of the success of ... Read More Source January 31st, 2016 No Comments Joe Armstrong figured out the right way to do everything, and nobody cared I am puzzled why good ideas so rarely win out in the tech world. I do know the old saying “Most industries have a top player with the best marketing and the second best technology, with a second place player that has the best technology and mediocre marketing.” Back in the 1990s it was common to apply that slogan to Microsoft and Apple (when Apple had mediocre marketing! Such long forgotten days!). Still, the lack of innovation in this industry ... Read More Source January 31st, 2016 In Business No Comments This disproves the superstar theory of economic success Do you believe that Steve Jobs or Bill Gates were superstars who created a large amount of wealth? Do you believe, in general, that there are superstars who should be given large rewards because they do amazing things? If so, consider this story as a counter-balance: This person was an exceptionally sharp programmer. Everyone on the teams looked up to him. He had been with the company since the early days and not only knew our systems, but he seemed ... Read More Source January 31st, 2016 No Comments The importance of intuition in the discovery of a person’s medical conditions This is an interesting story: I told the doctor that I kept having visions of my organs colliding like a lava lamp. As it turned out, there’s a name for that problem—the “placenta accreta,” wherein the placenta merges too deeply into the uterus, causing hemorrhaging and potentially a need for a hysterectomy. It’s life-threatening for both the baby and the mother. The doctor ordered an MRI so that he would be able to see whether an accreta had formed. If the ... Read More Source January 31st, 2016 In Business No Comments Britain has the safest wall sockets Yet another story on the slow speed of technological change. Interesting: • Prong Design: Like standard U.S. grounded plugs, the U.K. wall plug has three prongs. But the design of these prongs makes it nearly impossible for you to shock yourself accidentally. Unlike in U.S. plugs, half of each prong is coated in insulation. Because of this, even if a plug is not fully inserted into a socket, touching the exposed part of the prongs can’t give you a shock. • ... Read More Source January 31st, 2016 In Business No Comments Journalism continues to fall into deeper trouble How can one get started in journalism nowadays? Jim Tankersley is economic policy correspondent for The Washington Post. In an interview with Quartz, Tankersley notes that while reporting has always been demanding, the current environment has created problems far beyond the bounds of workplace exhaustion. “What strikes me lately [. . .] is how relentless the demands are on all of my reporter friends, no matter where they work or what they write about,” Tankersley says. “Everyone is juggling. If you ... Read More Source January 31st, 2016 No Comments Chasing stats to the detriment of your team Soccer is less vulnerable to this, since there are less stats in soccer: Draymond Green and the Warriors lost by -3 in Philadelphia to those guys who are always hogging the court down at your local Y. The Warriors clinched the narrow loss with a Harrison Barnes three, from a great pass out of the middle from Green. However, they really shouldn’t have let it get that close. Golden State blew a 24-point lead, turned the ball over 23 times, and ... Read More Source January 30th, 2016 No Comments When technology goes on strike Interesting: Amazing but true When I’d finished this article, I wanted to spell check the content. emacs-ispell mode decided to go on strike. It could not find aspell, the program that I use for spelling checking. My emacs spell checker has worked faithfully on this machine for several years. And just when I complain that I spend half my life fixing things that shouldn’t be broken the emacs spell checker decides to break. I don’t believe in malicious Gods, nor that the laws ... Read More Source January 30th, 2016 No Comments A nation’s income can be predicted from its technology in 1500 AD Interesting: Half the variation in income per capita in 2002 is associated with variation in technology in 1500AD. It is worth stopping here to say something about what CEG are saying empirically. This is not a “policy experiment” paper, and I don’t think it is appropriate to evaluate it as such. This is a paper about forecasting, basically. What their result says is that if you tell me the level of technology in 1500AD, I can predict with a good amount ... Read More Source January 29th, 2016 No Comments Why did Nasa allow the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster to happen? Incredible this could happen after Nasa had been given such a clear warning. Source January 26th, 2016 In Business No Comments Forbes wants to block my ad blocker Interesting. These are my screenshots. I could not click past this: So, can I simply click my way past this? No: I am using Ghostery. Apparently Forbes won’t show me its site. Source January 25th, 2016 In Business No Comments The future is over Interesting: Aside from its being an interesting story, however, why is it important to study this transformation? Mainly, Gordon suggests — although these are my words, not his — to provide a baseline. What happened between 1870 and 1940, he argues, and I would agree, is what real transformation looks like. Any claims about current progress need to be compared with that baseline to see how they measure up. And it’s hard not to agree with him that nothing that has happened ... Read More Source January 24th, 2016 In Business No Comments Amazon.com will give away your personal details to hackers Very frustrating: Wow. Just wow. The attacker gave Amazon my fake details from a whois query, and got my real address and phone number in exchange. Now they had enough to bounce around a few services, even convincing my bank to issue them a new copy of my Credit Card. Trying very hard to not take out my frustrations on an unrelated support rep, I contacted both Amazon Retail and AWS expressing my disappointment and asking them to put a note on ... Read More Source January 24th, 2016 No Comments Groping in the dark as a method to discover module boundaries in microservices I’m not sure that we will ever have a better way (but then, we can never pretend to be like other types of engineers, can we?): Having clients talk to the application service instead of an ORM or the data backends directly lets you forget that there is a MASSIVE PROBLEM with ORM frameworks (for anything more interesting than, say, a blog website framework), because you will still have to write a translation between your application representation and the database representation. ... Read More Source January 24th, 2016 No Comments Why I love Erlang And why I dislike Scala. I would bet that Scala was designed in the opposite fashion: Everything was very problem oriented and we did not have as goals that Erlang should be a functional language or that we should implement the actor model. We knew nothing of the actor model until later when we heard that Erlang implements it. :-) … Again our goal was to solve the problem, not design a language with a predefined set of primitives. Source January 23rd, 2016 No Comments The non-rational roots of politics Interesting: For their part, psychologists have responded that they aren’t dismissing conservativism as irrational. After all, just because people are predisposed to believe something doesn’t make them wrong. Saying someone is more likely to find an argument persuasive because of their psychology doesn’t invalidate the argument. As psychologists see it, the desire for simplicity is just a fact about the way people think — one that several decades of research has now confirmed. Hibbing of the University of Nebraska says this ... Read More Source January 23rd, 2016 In Business No Comments T-shirts vary like crazy, in terms of size Interesting: You may have had this experience before: You buy two identical articles of clothing. They are the same brand, style and size — maybe even the same color. They are exactly the same except that one fits, and the other does not. The problem is manufacturing variance. To test manufacturing variance, we measured 20 identical new t-shirts. These shirts were priced in the$20 range. The graph below depicts the distribution in chest width and length, which each have a standard ...

January 22nd, 2016

HTML is the failed GUI for TCP/IP

I posted this to Hacker News. I was surprised that someone did not immediately understand what I meant when I referred to HTML as the GUI of TCP/IP. Someone had surveyed 80 frontend designers and found they lacked basic knowledge of HTML and CSS. I responded:

The contrarian argument is that this signifies an important truth, that HTML never worked the way it was suppose to. In the same way that we might argue that a misunderstood product is the fault ...

January 21st, 2016

You can be the most popular business in your market for years, till the year that changes

Being super popular for years is not a good argument, if you are trying to explain why you will continue to be super popular in the future:

This proposed a problem, if a theoretical one, for ESPN: while it grew into the giant that it is today on the back of the dual revenue stream, it faced a dual threat. It faced the same threat as everybody else in the television industry, that consumers could cut the cord entirely and instead ...

January 20th, 2016

Once you go public, it doesn’t matter what rock-solid assurances you might have been given

We see certain patterns repeating over and over again, especially in Silicon Valley. Phillip Greenspun was promised that he would be allowed to run his business his own way? And then, as soon as sales began to fall, he was kicked out? And that was back in 2000. So we see it again, with Twitter:

VCs like Bill Gurley can talk about the “big leagues,” “The World Series,” “The Superbowl” or any other sports metaphors all they want when they ...

January 20th, 2016

An Amazon DSL in Clojure

Good lord. This is an impressive list of supported Amazon APIs:

Api Gateway Autoscaling CloudFormation CloudFront CloudSearch CloudSearchV2 CloudWatch CodeCommit CodeDeploy CodePipeline Config DataPipeline DeviceFarm DirectConnect Directory DynamoDBV2 EC2 EC2 Container Registry ECS ElastiCache ElasticBeanstalk ElasticFileSystem ElasticLoadBalancing ElasticMapReduce ElasticTranscoder Glacier IdentityManagement Kinesis KinesisFirehose KMS Logs Lambda MachineLearning OpsWorks RDS Redshift Route53 S3 SimpleDB SimpleEmail SimpleWorkflow SNS SQS StorageGateway

Source

January 20th, 2016

A 3D DSL in Clojure

Very interesting, and a nice example of how much Clojure allows the creation of new languages:

My first step in the HOLO design process was the creation of a sufficiently flexible GP playground for my later experiments and to evolve path-finding agents to create a (typographic) form as an initial design idea. Related to this, though a year prior, I created the Mophogen DSL, partially done as a component of my commission for the Barbican / Google DevArt exhibition. Morphogen ...

January 20th, 2016

Humans have been practicing genocide for a long time

I suppose this only confirms what we all knew, but it is bit awful to read:

Skulls smashed by blunt force, bodies pin-cushioned by projectile points and hapless victims—including a pregnant woman—abused with their hands bound before receiving the fatal coup de grâce.

This violent tableau resembles something from the darker side of modern warfare. But it instead describes the grizzly demise of a group of African hunter-gatherers some 10,000 years ago. They are the victims of the earliest scientifically dated ...

January 18th, 2016

The end of _why

One of the great performance artists of the tech industry has closed out their personality, leaving us wondering what it all meant:

Impermanence is possibly the biggest question raised in CLOSURE.

kafka would be a lot harder to get into if the trial only ran on a power pc. – one of _why’s last tweets

This tweet was really confusing, until CLOSURE. _why reveals that one of his biggest problems is what we call ‘bitrot’: you can’t just write a program, it must ...

January 18th, 2016

Patents impose tariffs of 1,000%

Amazing:

In the vast majority of cases, the drugs in question are not actually expensive to manufacture. The way the drug industry justifies high prices is that they must recover their research costs. While the industry does in fact spend a considerable amount of money on research (although they likely exaggerate this figure), at the point the drug is being administered this is a sunk cost. In other words, the resources devoted to this research have already been used; the economy ...

January 17th, 2016

The decline of computer programming in the USA

There are less computer programming jobs in the USA than there were 20 years ago.

Stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (USA):

http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm

1990 Number of Jobs 565,000

2010 Number of Jobs 363,100

2012 Number of Jobs 343,700

There is a tiny subset of the industry that is growing, and we associate these with the startups in San Francisco and New York. But so far these startups have not created enough jobs to offset the jobs lost due to other factors.

This suggests that there must ...

January 16th, 2016

Microservices first

Stefan Tilkov adds clarity to an argument that I’ve been making since 2013:

If you are actually able to build a well-structured monolith, you probably don’t need microservices in the first place. Which is OK! I definitely agree with Martin: You shouldn’t introduce the complexity of additional distribution into your system if you don’t have a very good reason for doing so.

(So what would be a good reason? There are many, but to me the most important one is to ...

January 16th, 2016

I give good tech advice to startups, and different good advice to Enterprises

I had a job interview recently that went well. But then, the CTO read something that I had written a year and a half ago.

Then the CTO said to me “We can’t hire you. We are a tiny startup. We are facing some serious deadlines. We need to push a product out the door.”

I said, “I want to help you push a product out the door. I can work hard and help you guys move fast.”

He said, ...

January 16th, 2016

The cost of using patterns is that I have to give up the illusion that I am infinitely creative

This is true of all creative fields:

The cost of using patterns is that I have to give up the illusion that I am infinitely creative. I don’t invent a new programming language with optimizing compiler and novel operating system and complete programming environment for every line of code. To make best use of my three billion seconds, I should ignore most of my options and focus on a few degrees of freedom that really matter right now.

Source

January 16th, 2016

Paralyzed by too much thinking

I like this:

When I started programming again, I vowed not to type a single character unless I knew what pattern I was applying as I did so. The result was incredibly frustrating. I want a class called “Stack”, but why “Stack” and not something else. Then I would go and write the patterns for naming classes and then I could type “Stack”. Then I would want to make its first method public, but why public?

At first, it was like ...

January 16th, 2016

Bayghazi

Uh, “military contractor” is a euphemism for “mercenary”. We have come a long way as a nation if it is now socially acceptable to root for these people. Interesting

Tuesday’s carnival laid bare the strange and changing nature of the Benghazi obsession—the odd way it veers from sincere and mournful to maudlin and kitschy, the way it’s been instrumentalized. It was, in some sense, intended to be a memorial. People filtered into the stadium under giant waving flags on the stadium’s ...

January 15th, 2016

Bitcoin has failed

Interesting:

But despite knowing that Bitcoin could fail all along, the now inescapable conclusion that it has failed still saddens me greatly. The fundamentals are broken and whatever happens to the price in the short term, the long term trend should probably be downwards. I will no longer be taking part in Bitcoin development and have sold all my coins.

Why has Bitcoin failed? It has failed because the community has failed. What was meant to be a new, decentralised form of ...

January 14th, 2016

Startups don’t make you rich

Interesting:

His thesis: the meme that startups will make you rich is false. I’ve written much of the same thing before, so I agree with Dan.

My question is why more engineers don’t realize that being an employee at a startup usually means getting financially screwed. My theory: there is a cult like atmosphere surrounding silicon valley.

I’ve had countless friends who fell into the trap, and I fell into it myself.

Founding a company is the only thing that makes sense, and even ...

January 14th, 2016

The purpose of abstraction is not to be vague, but to create a new semantic level in which one can be absolutely precise

Interesting

What is the black king in chess? This is a strange question, and the most satisfactory way to deal with it seems to be to sidestep it slightly. What more can one do than point to a chessboard and explain the rules of the game, perhaps paying particular attention to the black king as one does so? What matters about the black king is not its existence, or its intrinsic nature, but the role that it plays in the game.

The ...

January 13th, 2016

When the history of gay marriage is written…

At some point, some historian will write a good history of the events that lead up to the legalization of gay marriage. They can start with the changes in the culture that began in the late 1800s. The trial of Oscar Wilde might be a good starting point. Then there was the cultural influence of Weimar Germany, which impacted all Western nations. Then there was the cultural revolution of the 1960s.

However, in a more immediate way, there was the ...

January 13th, 2016

What Meetups tell us about America

Interesting:

Many of the results cement city stereotypes. New York is the country’s acknowledged fashion capital, so it is not a shock that Fashion/Beauty Meetups are unusually popular there. With 7,724 members, the most popular New York Fashion group is NYC’s #1 Fashion Events & Parties,. There are 67 other Fashion/Beauty Meetups in New York, ranging from Fashion Secrets of Attractive Men, to Dress Up Nicely For a Brunch.

Brooklyn is also characterized by an unusual interest in Fashion/Beauty. A ...

January 13th, 2016

Invoxia will allow Alexa to figure out who is speaking

I will be pleased if this becomes more than vaporware:

Invoxia, one of the recipients of an Alexa Fund investment from Amazon last September, announced this week at CES that it’s the first third-party hardware maker to incorporate all the power of Alexa into a product other than the Echo. The company’s Triby, as it’s called, is a colorful, magnet-backed Bluetooth speaker resembling an old-school radio. It’s designed to let family members, including young children, make internet-based phone calls with ...

January 13th, 2016

How much should kids be allowed to walk around?

When I was a kid, my family lived in a middle-class suburb in New Jersey. I went to an Elementary School that was a little less than a mile away. I walked there everyday. So did all the other kids. I would see my friends walking by my house and I would go out and join them and we would walk to school together. The first week of kindergarten my dad walked me to school, to be sure that I ...

January 13th, 2016

Money changes a city

Interesting:

New York in the late 1970s and 80s, though economically battered, was a fertile place for young writers and artists. Sante’s friend Adele Bertei, a member of post-punk band the Contortions and an actor in films such as Born in Flames (1983), says “We did all feel like cultural émigrés. It was as if we had this dystopic playground to ourselves to make whatever we wanted out of it. Luc was part archaeologist, part kid in a candy store. It ...

January 13th, 2016

Abusive searches by aggressive police

From the Hartes’ perspective, the headline covers precisely what happened to them. They were raided by a tactical team. The only things they did to cause that raid were shop at a hydroponic gardening store and drink loose-leaf tea. Those two actions are why the police began to investigate them (in a half-hearted sort of way), conducted field tests on the tea for which the officers had little training, and procured a search warrant. Those two actions are ...

January 13th, 2016

Saint Teresa as a role model for single women

Here is an unusual opinion:

Her book “Life” got her called before the Inquisition to investigate whether her teachings lined up with the era’s strict orthodoxy. Many of her writings were radical, but she used charm to convince her inquisitors that she was harmless. “But what do I know, I am just a wretched woman.” She advocated for reform, and in her convents the emphasis was on piety, poverty and charity. And while her books were originally intended only for clergy ...

January 13th, 2016

Some sports can be reduced to statistics, but not soccer

Interesting:

While in basketball everyone debates about who “the best ever” is by referring to their career averages in points, field goal percentage, PER, etc. In soccer the only statistic that is ever used is goals scores, and goals scored is only one small dimension of a player, even smaller if he is not a striker. It would be silly to judge Andrés Iniesta or Zinedine Zidane on how many goals they scored in a season.

So what is it about soccer ...

January 13th, 2016

Free time is only useful when your friends have free time

Interesting:

Our study, which drew on data from more than 500,000 respondents to the Gallup Daily Poll, examined the day-to-day fluctuations and patterns in people’s emotions, week after week. Two facts about emotional well-being emerged — one that was intuitive, the other surprising.

The intuitive finding was that people’s feelings of well-being closely tracked the workweek. As measured by things such as anxiety, stress, laughter and enjoyment, our well-being is lowest Monday through Thursday. The workweek is a slog. Well-being edges up ...

January 12th, 2016

Malaysia a wants Nobel Prize winner by 2057

Small countries that dream of Nobel Prizes:

The Nobel Prize in Literature remains the great seal-of-cultural approval — see, for example, Julia Lovell’s The Politics of Cultural Capital (sub-titled: China’s Quest for a Nobel Prize in Literature) — and many nations still measure their literature by how (they feel) its chances for a Nobel rate. This week’s example at least doesn’t set the Nobel as a short-term goal: Malaysia wants Nobel Prize winner by 2057 Tasnim Lokman reports in ...

January 12th, 2016

Multiculturalism cascades from industry to industry

This is a good paragraph:

Elle’s 2016 Women in TV issue features three women of color on the cover, proving that when you actually put diversity onscreen, it ripples nicely into other arenas. Who woulda thought?

Source

January 12th, 2016

Critiques of Paul Graham

girlziplocked/Holly Wood writes this critique of Paul Graham:

About 80% of his essay about economic inequality is a thinly veiled condemnation of poors who Paul Graham thinks are too stupid to understand why the rich are wealthy. They are stupid, he says, because they demand wealth redistribution as a means of addressing poverty rather than attacking poverty itself. Sillies!

He offers these hopeless poors a corrective, modeling himself as a legitimate wealth producer different from those dirty Wall-Street rent-seekers.

Which is half ...

January 12th, 2016

Discrimination against women in tech, part MCCXVI

A survey of women in Silicon Valley reminds us that Silicon Valley remains an unpleasant place for women.

The results are disheartening. For example, on basic workplace dynamics:

84% have been told that they were too aggressive, with half hearing that on multiple occasions.

It is difficult for women in tech to strike the right balance without being seen as too meek or too harsh:

47% have been asked to do lower-level tasks that male colleagues are not asked to do (e.g., note-taking, ordering ...

January 10th, 2016

Amazon acts likes its doing us a big favor by allowing us to develop for the Alexa platform

Eric, A.K.A Galactoise, has more to say about the broken certification process that Amazon offers for Alexa:

But the corollary is that in granting them this capability we have also granted them carte blanche to decimate our interface, and we would’ve had no idea that it was happening if it weren’t for the fact that we were slogging through a daily manual test process. If we caught them breaking us, we have to assume that they’ve broken other skills ...

January 10th, 2016

On Hacker News, how neutral does a title have to be?

The Hacker News guidelines state:

The title of my last blog post is:

Amazon has absolutely no idea how to run an app store

The original title of the article posted to Hacker News was:

Amazon has absolutely no idea how to run an app store

In other words, they were the same, which is in keeping with guidelines that Hacker News has published.

dang, one of the moderators of Hacker News, re-wrote ...

January 10th, 2016

1 Comment

Amazon has absolutely no idea how to run an app store

Amazon is relatively new to the job of running an app store, and some of their mistakes are either hilarious or infuriating, depending on how much money you’ve lost trying to deal with them.

Let’s start with the silliness. Amazon has an app store for Alexa (the personality that powers its voice service, and which can also be reached through the Amazon Echo). The apps are called “skills”. The name change is wise, since “app” suggests a binary file of ...

January 8th, 2016

Japan keeps a train going for one person

Interesting:

For years, there’s only been one passenger waiting at the Kami-Shirataki train station in the northernmost island of Hokkaido, Japan: A high-school girl, on her way to class. The train stops there only twice a day—once to pick up the girl and again to drop her off after the school day is over.

It sounds like a Hayao Miyazaki film. But according to CCTV News, it was a decision that Japan Railways—the group that operates the country’s railway network—made more than ...

January 8th, 2016

The crash in Silicon Valley

Interesting:

There’s an elephant in the room: nobody really knows how many valley companies exist solely because of revenues that are diversions of this river of money. Startup-servicing startups. Hosting. Metrics. Food delivery. Recruiting. Hell…there are hundreds (if not thousands) of companies just doing advertising services, alone. Everyone fixates on the unicorns that are doing big revenue numbers, but the regional effects of those redwoods are tiny in comparison to the “robust ecosystem” of mushrooms that grows in their shadow.

I ...

January 7th, 2016

Interesting:

We’ve been using this mechanism with great success during development. It let us freely modify the schema by only changing the Java classes and never worrying about table definitions. Thanks to combination with CQRS, we could even maintain long-running demo or pilot customer instances. Data has always been safe in the event store. We could develop the read model schema incrementally and have the changes automatically deployed to a running instance, without data loss or manually writing SQL migration scripts.

Obviously ...

January 6th, 2016

No one realizes that there is an app store for the Amazon Echo?

More from Jose Jaquinta:

I ran into some people during various New Year’s parties who had Echos, but had no clue there were skills for them. I laboriously explained how to launch the companion app, find the skills tab, and enable the skill.

It would a lot simpler if a user could enable/disable skills without having to go through the companion app. For example:

Alexa, enable Demotivate Me

I realize this is a request for The Echo, and not the Alexa Skills Kit. However, ...

January 6th, 2016

The Amazon Alexa certification process has gone out of control

The certification process has gone out of control.

This is one example of the… I’m struggling to keep to professional language… questionable judgement… show by the certification team. I’ve had two skills come back with a similar objection. I want to ask them if they have even used Alexa regularly? It gets REALLY tedious to have it endlessly repeat things. It’s like, “Yes, I know what I can do next. Please let me get on with ...

January 6th, 2016

Amazon does not give a damn what developers want to do with its offerings

The always wise Joseph Jaquinta offers this view of Amazon:

Thank you for your feedback. Your suggestions will be relayed to the development team, and as I am sure you can appreciate we are not able to comment on any speculative information.

This reply, and slight variants, comprise the bulk of the participation of Amazon on their development forums for the Alexa Skill Kit. It doesn’t matter how good your suggestion, or how egregious the bug is that you are reporting ...

January 6th, 2016

A modern career as a freelance writer

This is the kind of job postings that a writer sees nowadays:

Source

January 5th, 2016

When minor problems provoke great rage

I think this issue of rage crops up in a lot of areas of human life, including software:

Here’s Erick Erickson engaged in what could be considered an incitement to violence:

At what point do the people tell the politicians to go to hell? At what point do they get off the couch, march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp for being an idiot?

So what motivated this rage? Regulations banning phosphate ...

January 5th, 2016

The new personalism of new new journalism

New Journalism emerged in the 1970s and at the time many journalists were critical of it for bringing a personal style to what should be objective writing. But the trend has continued to sharpen and nowadays we get this:

William is the guy sitting third from the left in this picture. He’s also the first man to hit on me in 2016, and he’s my first kiss of the new year. As well as my second. And third. And… you get ...

January 2nd, 2016

Churchill almost went bankrupt

This makes me feel a bit better about my own history:

Money also illuminates his inner life. The Black Dog struck in 1937-8, when he was savaged by margin calls in the hundreds of thousands of pounds on his appallingly ill-thought-out share portfolio, pursued by the Inland Revenue, enormously overdrawn at his bank, writing 2000 words a day or more for fear that his publisher would reclaim the long-spent advance on Marlborough: His Life and Times. Of course he was depressed.

That ...

January 1st, 2016

Things I associate with the Great Stagnation

I’ll come back to this blog post, and add to this repeatedly, as the years go, and also subtract from it repeatedly. The collection of trends that I associate with the Great Stagnation is still a bit vague. I’m sure I will refine it over time. Also, my perspective here is mostly from the USA, though I know the same trends were active in all Western nations, give or take 5 years.

When did the Great Stagnation start? There is ...

January 1st, 2016

Narcisstocracy

Interesting:

Irving Berlin on taxes: The New York Times reports on how some of the US’s richest men are dodging taxes. Compare this to the response of Irving Berlin when his lawyer offered him a tax shelter:

I want to pay taxes. I love this country.

He even wrote a song expressing this sentiment. He said: “I owe all my success to my adopted country.” …

He embodied — knowingly so — a point made by Herbert Simon, that we westerners owe our ...

January 1st, 2016

Mark Lee Smith fights functional programming in 2011

I find it interesting to go back and look at the sites where was learning about Functional Programming back in 2011.

It’s interesting to read those who were on the losing side of history, fighting against Functional Programming:

If you’re writing 2000-line classes and 500-line methods then you’re in no way qualified to be speaking about object-oriented programming, let alone comparing it with the latest FAD ideology.

Christian Toivola gave what has become the standard answer:

@Mark Lee Smith: With the ...

January 1st, 2016

Some suburbs will have to be left to die

Interesting:

…The way suburban development usually works is that a town lays the pipes, plumbing, and infrastructure for housing development—often getting big loans from the government to do so—and soon after a developer appears and offers to build homes on it. Developers usually fund most of the cost of the infrastructure because they make their money back from the sale of the homes. The short-term cost to the city or town, therefore, is very low: it gets a cash infusion from ...

January 1st, 2016

When did the Internet start?

Interesting:

TCP version 1 was designed in 1973. This was documented through RFC 675. TCP version 2 was documented in March 1977. In August 1977, Jon Postel realized they were going the wrong direction with the protocol. “We are screwing up in our design of internet protocols by violating the principle of layering. Specifically we are trying to use TCP to do two things: serve as a host level end to end protocol, and to serve as an internet packaging and ...

January 1st, 2016

The Democrats of the tech industry

People have been writing about this issue for 20 years. Inc magazine said something very similar back in 1999:

They view the government as an investor: funding education, scientific research, and entrepreneurship. Rather than protect citizens from the whims of capitalism, the state either invests directly in industry to ramp up the speed of disruptive innovation or makes government agencies function more like businesses themselves.

This helps explain the Valley elite’s obsession with public charter schools, which are often parent-led, union-less, and ...

December 31st, 2015

We are contemplating allowing sender and receiver to specify different byte sizes

Wow. Can you imagine how that would have turned out? On the bright side, Unicode would not be necessary, since a company in China could specify a byte size large enough to represent any Chinese characters, and likewise for Iran, Korea, Hindi, etc. .

Source

December 31st, 2015

Fundamentalist upbring leads to viewing women as stereotypes

This is a story about a guy who is manipulative and gross. One theme in this story that the author did not follow up on, and I wish she had, was the theme of fundamentalism. The bad guy in this story is named Jared. He grew up in a Christian fundamentalist household, where sex was considered a great sin. Now he is in his 30s, and he is nominally secular, but he continues to see the world in black and ...

December 31st, 2015

NLP versus Conversational AI

Obviously, I have written a lot about this subject during the year. See my post “What happens when the Board Of Directors begins to panic“.

But this is getting big:

To date, commercial NLP research has been focused on understanding the many ways people say commands like, “Set my alarm for 7 am tomorrow” or “Find a good pizza place nearby.” To unlock the power of conversational computing, new technology is required that extracts semantics across multi-turn natural language ...

December 31st, 2015

Minecraft is participatory but Call Of Duty is passive entertainment with occasional button-mashing

Interesting:

Let me use a computer game analogy to express two visions of the future Web.

The first vision is the Web as Minecraft—an open world with simple pieces that obey simple rules. The graphics are kind of clunky, but that’s not the point, and nobody cares.

In this vision, you are meant to be an active participant, you’re supposed to create stuff, and you’ll have the most fun when you collaborate with others.

The rules of the game are simple and don’t constrain ...

December 31st, 2015

Failure is a de-stressing option

I can ask the same question here that I asked in the last blog post: If some business leaders now feel this way, the question arises why some business leaders did not feel this way 100 years ago. What is changing about the kind of people who become business leaders?

I can imagine all sorts of things I would do ...

December 31st, 2015

Why does Rand Fishkin think bureaucracy is bad?

Interesting:

Having never worked anywhere else in my adult life (apart from a couple retail jobs in college), these new professional experiences have, I think, made me a better future CEO, and a better person all-around. It’s hard to have real empathy for something you ...

December 31st, 2015

Finding the one kanji that sums up the year

An interesting look into Japanese culture:

Likewise, in 2008, the Association chose 変 (hen), which literally translates as “change.” From the “Change We Can Believe In” promised on Barack Obama’s campaign posters to the global economic changes wrought by the Lehman Shock, 変 seemed to be in the air in 2008.

With so much meaning condensed in so little space, kanji have the power to express an entire year’s spirit in just one character.

With so many candidates, things are bound to get ...

December 31st, 2015

A customer is angry:

When I trust you with my money and my company’s data, I don’t want those precious assets to be with someone who’s been given permission to fail. I really do want it to be someone who tells the troops this: “Let’s double-down, work through the weekend, push through the issues, get ‘er done, rally!”

The issue to me is public declarations vs private thoughts.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with waking up covered in flop sweat, wondering if ...

December 31st, 2015

Allowing an object to exist in an invalid state is an Anti-Pattern

This post uses the language of Object Oriented Programming, but its point would also be true to all forms of programming. In Clojure, if you have HashMaps that you then convert to JSON and save to MongoDB, then why would you ever allow the HashMap to exist in an invalid state? Real immutability might imply that the HashMap is created with everything that it will eventually need. This is an interesting idea.

Why do we validate data? Typically, to make ...

December 31st, 2015

People who love spies do not love being spied upon

Interesting:

Pete Hoekstra: Obama Stopping Key Surveillance Programs Dec 11, 2015

Pete Hoekstra: New Spying Scandal Biggest of Obama’s Presidency 13 hours ago

Not that Hoekstra is going to change his tune on surveillance; he just believes in the national security state for thee, not me. I’ve always felt that one of the more corrupt aspects of the UK security state was the exemption granted to Parliament from the kinds of intrusions other citizens lack protections against; now I expect ...

December 31st, 2015

Websockets are an all or nothing proposition

Interesting:

I’m also a heavy websocket user, and agree with most points. I have previously used websockets on top of a traditional web app, and have been disappointed with the results.

My opinion now is that websockets are an all-or-nothing proposition. And I have gone all-in. My latest project has:

- https-only

- single page app, central store with observable data, using a single connection servicing the whole application

- using SignalR (supports fallbacks for IE9 ...

December 31st, 2015

Abuse of H-2 visas

Interesting:

“All you black American people, fuck you all…just go to the office and pick up your check,” the supervisor at Hamilton Growers told workers during a mass layoff in June 2009.

The following season, according to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, about 80 workers, many of them black, were simply told: “All you Americans are fired.”

Year after year, Hamilton Growers, which has supplied squash, cucumbers, and other produce to Wal-Mart and the Green Giant brand, hired scores ...

December 31st, 2015

Any growing Rails app runs into the problem of fat models

This is a good comment:

A lot of things in Rails are are anti-patterns in large code bases, but pragmatic in small ones. ActiveRecord itself is a prime example: when you start an app, putting your business logic directly in ActiveRecord objects works pretty well in most cases, but later on as the models proliferate and grow, you realize that some of them contain business logic which is far too complex to warrant being conflated with persistence concerns. The result ...

December 30th, 2015

Interesting:

The blogosphere lives. But Sullivan’s decision to hang up his keyboard is nevertheless a marker. Sullivan was the closest we had to someone trying to run a blog with real scale. He was trying to make his blog — and its sizable audience — into a business. But blogging, for better or worse, is proving resistant to scale. And I think there are two reasons why.

The first is that, at this moment in the media, scale means social traffic. ...

December 30th, 2015

The reaction in Poland

There is a right-wing reaction sweeping through Poland. The most worrisome aspect is the official support for xenophobia:

Polish police tell British Sikh man ‘what do you expect after Paris attacks’ after nightclub beating

Mr Sawhney claimed the bouncer along with his colleagues from the city’s Shakers nightclub had stopped him entering and then became aggressive and spat at him but despite him offering to shake the bouncer’s hand and walk away.

“The bouncers then surrounded me and one punched in the ...

December 30th, 2015

Why did feminism finally get picked up by the women’s magazines?

When I was younger, my friends and I used to wonder why all of the women’s magazines were misogynist. The advice they gave was always anti-woman and pro-convention. This made no sense to us. It was as if the magazines were at war with their own customers. As near as I can tell, this misogyny was editorial policy for the entirety of the 20th Century.

Things have changed dramatically over the last 15 years, and especially the last 8 years. ...

December 30th, 2015

Why do women use Tinder?

A bit of a rant, but interesting:

More likely, these women are interested in hooking up (or at least open to some opportunities of it happening) but don’t want their friends and colleagues knowing this should someone come across their profile, so like the Playboy readers who buy the magazine for the articles, these women are on Tinder “just for the lulz.”

Which brings me to my second point: Despite their loud claims, women are not on Tinder to find their ...

December 30th, 2015

Where are the female film critics?

This strikes me as part of the overall trend, with women in retreat from many crucial professions. Female participation in computer programming peaked in the 1980s, and female representation as nurses peaked 10 years ago. Apparently female film critics are also disappearing.

Film criticism wasn’t always such a boy’s club. In the 1920s and through World War II, women weren’t welcome covering hard-news topics like politics and international news, but they did find a rare place writing about the moving ...

December 29th, 2015

Groupies and artists

Interesting:

For me, the most interesting question that “Groupies” raises has less to do with cultural pathways and more to do with old-fashioned carnality and the places within us that it comes from. Perhaps it’s not so much that sex was the only option for these women, but that it was their preferred option. Fandom operates differently than a creative or critical impulse—and it wants for different things, too. People find all sorts of ways to manage the magnificent, sometimes ...

December 22nd, 2015

The Great Stagnation, as seen in movies

Interesting:

All that is meant by Decadence is ‘falling off.’ . . . . The forms of art as of life seem exhausted, the stages of development have been run through. Institutions function painfully. Repetition and frustration are the intolerable result.

That seems to be our lot today, I suggested, using the prism of the McFly family saga to illustrate the point. “We’re now as far from the Reagan 1980s as the teenage Marty was from his parents’ 1950s,” I wrote, “and ...

December 21st, 2015

What does a weblog need in 2015?

This is interesting, and I want to go back and read it again soon:

On aggregation: Ezra Klein: How Vox Aggregates: “[When] I started… everything I wrote… in the hopes that someone else…

…would take it and try to use it… with a link back… a positive-sum endeavor…. [At the] Washington Post… I helped to create Know More… a big ‘Know More’ button that would lead people back to the original source to, well, learn more…. While aggregation has always been a ...

December 20th, 2015

In science the only confirmation that matters is whether you will proceed

Interesting:

Except sometimes it is. Rationalism guided Einstein toward his theory of relativity, which he believed in wholeheartedly on rational grounds before it was ever tested. “I hold it true that pure thought can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed,” Einstein said in 1933, years after his theory had been confirmed by observations of starlight bending around the sun.

The question for the philosophers is: Without experiments, is there any way to distinguish between the non-empirical virtues of vortex theory and those ...

December 18th, 2015

The biggest bribery scam in India ever?

Interesting:

In 2013, the year the scam was first revealed, two million young people in Madhya Pradesh – a state the size of Poland, with a population greater than the UK – sat for 27 different examinations conducted by Vyapam. Many of these exams are intensely competitive. In 2013, the prestigious Pre-Medical Test (PMT), which determines admission to medical school, had 40,086 applicants competing for just 1,659 seats; the unfortunately named Drug Inspector Recruitment Test (DIRT), had 9,982 candidates striving for ...

December 18th, 2015

How to find a major security breach at Facebook

Facebook offers a bounty for bugs, but Facebook did not play fair on this one. Instead, Facebook immediately reached out to the hacker’s employer and accused the hacker of unethical behavior. The Facebook CSO later offered the cheap excuse that the hacker might have been working in an official capacity for the employer. The more likely story is that Facebook was embarrassed and wanted this story to be remain hidden. Interesting:

With the newly obtained AWS key, I browsed several ...

December 17th, 2015

How to test the Salesvoice skill for the Amazon Echo

1.) if you have access to a Salesforce account, use that. If there is an admin at your company who manages the Salesforce account, talk to them. Otherwise, you can sign up for a free 30 day trial on Salesforce. Be sure to go for the Enterprise Edition.

2.) You must enable the SalesVoice Connected App

3.) Relax IP restrictions, or whitelist the IP from which your Amazon Echo will be in use

4.) You will need to enter 4 pieces of ...

December 16th, 2015

Silicon Valley is an increasingly rigged game

Interesting:

Assured promotion allows a coordinated launch

Careful followers of Product Hunt have caught on to the strategy of accessing this upper tier. Just consider the creators of Lrn, an app that teaches you the program in bite-sized chunks.

Lrn, while containing some new ideas, bears a striking resemblance to Swifty, a past product that had been previously featured on Product Hunt. Unlike Swifty, however, the Lrn team — having read Bram Kanstein’s post— found an advisor in advance with front page-promotion privileges and coordinated ...

December 16th, 2015

Everyone’s been rejected for a job they should have gotten

This is great:

Source

December 16th, 2015

Melting glaciers slow the rotation of the Earth

Interesting:

At issue is a scientific quandary known as “Munk’s enigma,” which was introduced by famed oceanographer Walter Munk in a 2002 paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The enigma refers to a key discrepancy between the amount of sea-level rise believed to have occurred during the 20th century and the effects it should have produced on the planet — specifically, on the Earth’s rotation.

The planetary effects of sea-level rise

That’s right — in addition to all the ...

December 15th, 2015

The importance of the Module class to NodeJs

Interesting:

The Module type found in module.js has two main roles inside of Node.js. First, it provides a foundation for all Node.js modules to build off of. Each file is given a new instance of this base module on load, which persists even after the file has run. This is why we are able attach properties to module.exports and return them later as needed.

The module’s second big job is to handle Node’s module loading mechanism. The stand-alone require function that we ...

December 15th, 2015

Require and Export in NodeJs

Interesting:

Finally, the last thing to consider is what happens when you directly export a function:

var powerLevel = function(level) { return level > 9000 ? “it’s over 9000!!!” : level; }; module.exports = powerLevel;

When you require the above file, the returned value is the actual function. This means that you can do:

require(‘./powerlevel’)(9050);

Which is really just a condensed version of:

var powerLevel = require(‘./powerlevel’) powerLevel(9050);

Source

December 14th, 2015

How to build conversations via the Amazon Echo

If you read my post about the startup I was this year, then you know the toughest challenge we faced was the building the finite state machine that could handle conversations. So I read this about the Amazon Echo with great interest:

My task would have ended here if creating an event would only require a date and time. But to be useful, I would like to include a duration, a topic, perhaps even a location. To be even more ...

December 13th, 2015

Using a glottal stop to force the Amazon Echo to correctly pronounce “tw”

This an impressive bit of phoneme hacking, by Joseph Jaquinta:

It’s also occasionally off on some words. A particular problem for me was Alexa’s inability to correctly pronounce “tweets”. It can say “tweet” just fine, but “tweets” comes out as “wheets”. Since one of upcoming skills, Tweet Poll, centers around producing election statistics based on tweets, it uses the word “tweets” a lot.

So I was pretty excited when I saw that the new update included features for giving more fine control ...

December 13th, 2015

I believe in Enterprise software for the Amazon Echo

Over on the Amazon Developer forums, J Jaquinta challenges my idea of Enterprise software for the Amazon Echo.

I responded:

@jjaquinta, of course, you could be correct. It might be a mistake to try to do Enterprise software with the Echo. All I can say is, when we go into a big business and we do a demo, people seem excited. How much of that excitement is due to the novelty factor? I don’t know. It’s possible that executives get momentarily ...

December 13th, 2015

Dialogue designers replace graphic designers when creating voice interfaces

Over the last 30 years we’ve gotten used to the Graphical User Interfaces in software that appears on a computer screen. And most of us (who work in the tech industry) have had the experience of working with a person who, depending on their skills, will be given a title such as “graphic designer” or “user experience designer” or sometimes “product designer”.

Working with the Amazon Echo, myself and my partner have come to realize that we still need a ...

December 13th, 2015

The rise of Liberalism in Sweden

The sad fact is that Sweden, like all other Western nations, has been shifting to the right since the end of the 1970s.

Megafon does not start any fires. Why are journalists and politicians so interested in Megafon denouncing the rebellion? Young people are being demonised to prevent all of us from seeing the truth—because the truth will sting. The editorial pages and the police also demonise us in Megafon, saying that we are responsible for what is happening—because we ...

December 13th, 2015

How can I connect the Amazon Echo to wifi in an Enterprise with secure wifi?

I posted this question on the TalkEcho forum. Any suggestions are welcome.

One big problem we face (developing Enterprise apps for the Amazon Echo) is when we do a demo at a large company. Then we are typically facing the WPA2 Enterprise version of WiFi, which the Echo does not seem to support. When I look here:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201549640

I see it says:

“Amazon Echo connects to dual-band Wi-Fi (2.4Ghz / 5Ghz) networks that use the 802.11 a/b/g/n standard. It does ...

December 13th, 2015

This was written in 2009 and I linked to it in 2011, and I just stumbled upon it again. It is interesting to remember the old fights about Clojure, the struggle for respectability that Clojure faced in those old days. For the most part, that particular fight is no longer facing Clojure.

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December 12th, 2015

The Amazon Echo Blogosphere

I will be updating this blog post as time goes by. I hope to build a complete catalog of blogs that are primarily focused on the Amazon Echo.

Here is what I found after 30 minutes of searching:

LoveMyEcho is one of the few blogs that seems devoted to the Amazon Echo

Joseph Jaquinta has a blog on LinkedIn devoted to the Amazon Echo

Engadget has a category for Amazon that sometimes covers the Echo

Gizmodo has a category specifically for the ...

December 12th, 2015

Custom commands for the Amazon Echo

Interesting:

Telling Amazon’s Alexa to play some music or add an item to your shopping list is pretty cool, but there comes a point where you start to feel the limits of the Echo’s pre-programmed voice commands. It doesn’t have to be that way anymore: Amazon and the automation wizards at IFTTT just announced a new feature that allows you to create custom voice phrases to make Alexa do whatever you want. Unfortunately, there’s a catch: every command has to ...

December 12th, 2015

Ellery Coffman demonstrates home automation via Alexa

Ellery Coffman gets Alexa to start a movie on the TV, then stop it, and then play an album on the record player, and then stop it. This is impressive in all ways, except I was surprised at how slow it was. I’ve got an Alexa app running on a Rackspace server, which pulls data from Salesforce, and the response is much faster, despite the fact that there are 2 API calls involved, and despite the fact that Salesforce ...

December 12th, 2015

Dominik Symonowicz makes a good point:

I believe, if you have got a chance to work in a startup company after graduate from university, during sandwich/gap year or as long as you are 2x years old. You should always try it. If you are lucky enough ,it your learning curve will be very high but quite likely you will work very hard and possible reward can be shape your carrier in future. However ,it is extremely difficult to find a ...

December 11th, 2015

When can sex or violence be justified as a plot point in a story?

I agree with the “add to a larger conversation” line of thinking:

When I read your books, I was like, “Fuck YES”—you both actually created a conversation about assault and about rape culture, rather than just using rape as a plot point, something that will show us how evil a villain is or allow a man to play hero around. This is a rhetorical question, probably, but I am guessing you were both fed up with that type of plot device ...

December 7th, 2015

What parts of the movie Her will come true first?

What parts of the movie Her will come true first? Content Since I started on my new startup, everyone has been telling me to watch the movie Her. So last night I was at a friend’s house and she had a copy and so I watched it. I thought it was a great movie, though I have some criticism in terms of “How do we bring this to market?”

My thoughts right now are mostly focused on Amazon Echo, so I will offer ...

December 5th, 2015

Hi, I’m an inexperienced, spineless CEO who can’t handle confrontation

My post What happens when the Board Of Directors begins to panic? sparked several good conversations:

Hacker News

Reddit

WTF Daily

The funniest comment I read was on WTF Daily; I literally laughed out loud when I read this:

Source

December 4th, 2015

The advantages of a Natural Language Processing interface

“admin” of Daily Hacker News is critical of my ideas regarding a Natural Language Processing interface for software. Some of their points conflate Natural Language Processing with the text version of Natural Language Processing, and right now I’m mostly working on Natural Language Processing via voice interfaces, so I’m going to reply with voice examples, so as to remind everyone that Natural Language Processing is a broad topic.

Let’s go back to Lawrence’s example. Posit, ...

December 2nd, 2015

People want to be able to talk to their computer

When GUI interfaces were new in the 80s we were told they were better than command line interfaces because they offered “discoverability”. But it turned out they didn’t offer nearly enough discoverability, so in the 90s “Wizards” became big things, especially in the Microsoft world. A Wizard provided the context that a GUI by itself did not. A Wizard would tell a user “Do this, now do this, now do this, and then do this.” But Wizards were visually complex. ...

December 2nd, 2015

Clojure is easier than Scala

Interesting:

After about a week of experimentation, we hit a sticking point. While we had a large number of “normal” CRUD operations, all of our queries on behalf of the end user, were generated dynamically. Most of the Scala database ecosystem is geared towards extending Scala’s type system to include database query type checking. Overall, our enthusiasm for Scala didn’t survive the first attempt to port our query language system. Clojure for the win

It was at this juncture where we re-evaluated Clojure, ...

December 2nd, 2015

Uneasy is the head that wears the crown, even among baboons

Interesting:

After the matriarch died last year, a vicious battle erupted among the female baboons at the Toronto Zoo for her throne that endured for months, prompting a brief closure of the exhibit and providing a fascinating glimpse into the animals’ behaviour.

Medical records show numerous injuries among five of the six female olive baboons, from deep lacerations near their eyes to hair ripped out and tail injuries. At least two required surgeries to close deep gashes.

The exhibit was closed for several ...

December 2nd, 2015

Progress in math is needed for progress in science

Interesting:

The problem was that, in order to build a theory on this insight, Einstein needed to be able to create those descriptions in warped four-dimensional space-time. The Euclidean geometry used by Newton and everyone else was not up to this job; fundamentally different and much more challenging mathematics were required. Max Planck, the physicist who set off the revolution in quantum mechanics, thought this presented Einstein with an insurmountable problem. “I must advise you against it,” he wrote to ...

December 2nd, 2015

Startups are embarrassing chaos

This reminds me of my life, many times over:

This was the first time we really learned about the thundering herd problem. The site went down 30 minutes before the broadcast was scheduled to start, as many fans had gone to the page in advance and started doing stuff on the site: signing up, logging in, favoriting the Jonas Brothers’ channel page. All these dynamic actions, plus the constant refreshing of the page to check if the stream was up ...

December 1st, 2015

The problem of locking intellectuals into universities

Some of this overlaps with what Ian Stewart has written about the profession of mathematicians. Ian Stewart has written a bunch awesome books about math, and he writes in a classic 20th Century style of science/math popularizer, believing that there is a “general” public out there that might find math interesting. More about him here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Stewart_(mathematician)

From the essay itself, this part struck me:

“What I called the transitional generation, those born around 1920, entered the universities, often late in their careers and ...

November 30th, 2015

Marvel Comics increasing maturity regarding adult themes

Marvel Comics declared bankruptcy many years ago, and I thought the company would disappear. It’s suffered an extreme case of the fate that many publishers of fiction-on-paper have suffered. Marvel’s comic business, as fiction-on-paper, is just a ghost of its former self. And yet, the company hangs on, and has become a major creative house for ideas that get turned into movies and shows.

When comics were aimed primarily at kids, they were censored to be sure they avoided mature ...

November 29th, 2015

The Amazon Echo will primarily succeed in business settings, not in home settings

(Note: I thank Natalie Sidner for the editing she did on the rough draft of this post. If you need to hire a good editor, contact Natalie Sidner at “nataliesidner at gmail dot com”.)

The Amazon Echo is a device with brilliant potential, yet even Amazon itself seems to misunderstand the possibilities. Amazon has positioned the device as being primarily for consumers, but I see the greatest upside in business. The Amazon Echo is at its best when delivering information to ...

November 28th, 2015

Christine Dodrill on the Universal Design

She has her own terminology:

State – What is true now? What was true? What happened in the past? What is the persistent view of the world?

Events – What is being changed? How will it be routed?

Policy – Can a given event be promoted into a series of actions?

Actions – What is the outcome of the policy?

Mechanism – How should an event be taken in and an action put out?

Policy seems a bit confusing, but sometimes there is a reward if ...

November 28th, 2015

Separate AWS accounts for development, staging, and production

Interesting:

Instead of using regions or tags to separate different staging and prod instances, we switched over totally separate AWS accounts. We need to ensure that our provisioning scripts wouldn’t affect our currently running services, and using fresh accounts meant that we had a blank slate to start with.

The ops account serves as the jump point and centralized login. Everyone in the organization can have a IAM account for it.

The other environments have a set of IAM roles to switch ...

November 28th, 2015

[[UPDATE]] So this was later confirmed as a mostly true story and now this is becoming a movie.

I think this story is about 3,000 words? It’s 155 Twitter posts. This is an interesting new way to try to offer fiction. I would be surprised if this caught on, but everything about Twitter has surprised me so far. It’s seems like an awkward way to read a story, but sometimes people eat more chocolate if they are offered tiny pieces ...

November 28th, 2015

I am one voice of many, who question Object Oriented Programming

I am just one of many voices questioning Object Oriented Programming and promoting the Functional paradigm as an alternative. I pleased to think my big essay, which surveyed quite a bit of what had been written before, is still able to occasionally encourage people to re-think their support for Object Oriented Programming. So I see Matt’s Code Cave write:

Why functional programming and why Clojure? I’ve been interested in the idea behind functional programming for a while now – being used ...

November 28th, 2015

Can you survive in a glamour business without glamour?

The glamour of it all. This line really is the heart of it:

While in New York recently, Mr. Zimmer said, he had his driver pull over when he spotted a Men’s Wearhouse store. After he used a restroom, he poked his head into the tailor shop. “As soon as the tailor saw me he embraced me and started sobbing,” Mr. Zimmer said. “I have a bond with tailors. It’s not because I’m a tailor myself but because they know ...

November 28th, 2015

Gawker’s problem with women

I don’t know what it’s like to be a woman working at a place where management is unfair to women, but I do know what its like to work at a place where management fails to live up to its own goals, so I find this interesting:

Gawker Media was founded on excitement and freedom, which is what drew so many people to become fans and writers there, including myself; but excitement and freedom can lead to dismissiveness and insensitivity, harm ...

November 23rd, 2015

Sometimes things go fast

I told a friend via email that this was one of those months when it seemed like a lot of exciting things were happening to me, unlike some previous months which had seemed uneventful. I like how she said this:

I am familiar with that phenomenon- swaths of arid, fallow months as far as the eyes can see in any direction, then, seemingly without any effort or origin possibility sprouts all about.

So well said!

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November 21st, 2015

The States and Fates of Javascript

Interesting resource regarding Javascript Promises:

States

Promises have three possible mutually exclusive states: fulfilled, rejected, and pending.

A promise is fulfilled if promise.then(f) will call f “as soon as possible.”

A promise is rejected if promise.then(undefined, r) will call r “as soon as possible.”

A promise is pending if it is neither fulfilled nor rejected.

We say that a promise is settled if it is not pending, i.e. if it is either fulfilled or rejected. Being settled is not a state, just a linguistic convenience.

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November 21st, 2015

Why modern Javascript development sucks

The package management tools are broken:

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November 21st, 2015

How do you get latitude with Javascript

Here is something I did not know about:

\$cordovaGeolocation.getCurrentPosition always returning “Position retrieval timed out.” in ios

That’s an error, but it made me aware that you can try to get location via Javascript. I think that is amazing. Why even bother with a native app? And I say that as someone who just spent 6 months at a starup that was committed to doing a native app, in part for native features, including the ability to get latitude and longitude.

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November 20th, 2015

Trailblazer has good ideas hidden by Object Oriented Programming

Trailblazer for Ruby On Rails has some very good ideas in it though they are somewhat buried by the Object Oriented programming garbage:

To give an example of how operation works, let’s say you click on a delete button. What happens when you do that is you go to the control that knows a little bit of this action because it does authentication—if it’s valid it does one thing and if it’s not it does another thing. Instead of delegating ...

November 19th, 2015

Nested relations are the death of Object Oriented Programming

Last winter made fun of a Python team for wasting time trying to figure out how to handle deeply nested relations. They were slowly groping their way toward a graph database solution, which seems to be the route that most end up taking, given enough years and enough pain. This seems to be an area where Object Oriented Programming clearly fails.

And yet, many smart folk continue to try. Ruby’s Reform:

Syncing Back

After validation, you have two choices: either ...

November 19th, 2015

Rails derails

A super interesting debate about the move away from Rails.

We seem to be on the same side when it comes to quality metrics.

Source

November 9th, 2015

1 Comment

What happens when the Board Of Directors begins to panic?

(Note: I must offer a huge “Thank you” to Natalie Sidner for the tremendous editing she did on the rough draft of this post. To the extent that this article is readable, it is thanks to her. Any mistakes are entirely my fault. If you need to hire a good editor, contact Natalie Sidner at “nataliesidner at gmail dot com”.)

I have been working with startups for most of the last 15 years, and one common pattern that I’ve seen is ...

November 8th, 2015

Where is the article?

I would like a friend of mine to read this article, but I’m not sure if she will be able to find it. I can send her the URL, but the top 10 centimeters on this page is full of visual debris. That websites have interfaces that are sui generis remains a problem. Finding content on a page remains a complicated task.

Source

October 25th, 2015

Who still pays for music?

I really thought that by 2015 the paid-for music industry would be dead. I am surprised that it survives. I’m curious who keeps it alive.

Tove Lo and Taylor Swift teamed up to sing “Talking Body” (You’ve got a perfect one so put it on me):

http://www.eonline.com/news/709940/taylor-swift-busts-out-some-interesting-dance-moves-while-performing-talking-body-with-tove-lo

Who pays for music nowadays? I think it’s interesting, this is something that Taylor Swift’s fans have in common: they pay for music. And not just a particular song that they like, they buy entire ...

October 23rd, 2015

The glacial speed of reform in Morocco

Interesting:

Within the month, King Mohammed VI would unveil his constitutional reforms and call for a referendum. The proposal stipulated that a prime minister, chosen from the largest party in parliament, would take over as the head of the government, although the king would retain control of the judiciary, the military, and the Islamic faith in Morocco. There was even an article guaranteeing women civic and social equality with men. The February 20 movement argued that the process had been undemocratic ...

October 18th, 2015

White people diversity

Interesting:

Corporations that practice Colorless Diversity do not see lack of racial diversity and representation as an important problem to be solved. To bring up racial diversity is to invite a discussion on model minorities (“Look, we have Asians!”) and have the subject be dismissed. The “women’s issue,” on the other hand, is urgent. As a result of familial bonds and their savior complex driven need to rescue the damsel in distress, the white-male employees of the white-male dominated industry have ...

October 14th, 2015

Why are computer programmer competitive with each other?

There are many areas of life where competition is destructive and should be banned as much as possible. My favorite example is the amount of sleep that doctors in training get — even now, when roughly 50% of new doctors are female, the tradition persists that medical residency should be a macho hazing process where sleep deprivation is used to weed out the “weak”. And yet, nobody wants to be treated by a doctor who has been getting 3 hours ...

October 13th, 2015

The process of writing software will change the way you think

Angus Deaton just won the Nobel Prize for Economics. For awhile I’ve said that writing computer code changes the way one thinks. So this caught my eye:

It was during my time at Bristol that John Muellbauer and I worked together on our book. The computer facilities at Bristol were terrible — the computer was a mile away, on top of a hill, so that boxes of punched cards had to be lugged up and down. I was told to ...

October 11th, 2015

Interesting:

Hero worship

Another case where we see evidence of a fixed mindset is with hero worship. So Julie Pagano did a great talk at PyCon 2014 about impostor syndrome, and one of her suggestions for a way to combat impostor syndrome was “kill your heroes.” Don’t put other programmers on a pedestal, don’t say “that person is so different from me.” Fixed/growth mindset is a really useful framing for this too. If you have programming heroes, do you consider them to ...

October 11th, 2015

The protest at 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City

All 3 men are wearing the circular badge for Human Rights, a movement among the athletes:

Norman was a white man from Australia, a country that had strict apartheid laws, almost as strict as South Africa. There was tension and protests in the streets of Australia following heavy restrictions on non-white immigration and discriminatory laws against aboriginal people, some of which consisted of forced adoptions of native children to white families.

October 10th, 2015

A Java Hashmap is not a Clojure collection

I did not know this till just now. I have a co-worker who wrote a library in Java. From my Clojure code, I call this Java function:

public HashMap<String,HashMap<String,Integer>> init(String debrief,String companyName, ArrayList<String> contacts, ArrayList<String> accounts, ArrayList<String> requiredFields) { try { return transformer.transform(debrief, companyName, tecClassifier, rollioClassifier, caseClassifier, caselessClassifier, customClassifier, pipeline, parser, props, firstNames, lastNames, accounts, contacts, requiredFields); ...

October 10th, 2015

The TCP checksum is weak, and the Ethernet checksum will accept corrupt TCP that passed the TCP checksum

Interesting:

At Twitter, a team had a unusual failure where corrupt data ended up in memcache. The root cause appears to have been a switch that was corrupting packets. Most packets were being dropped and the throughput was much lower than normal, but some were still making it through. The hypothesis is that occasionally the corrupt packets had valid TCP and Ethernet checksums. One “lucky” packet stored corrupt data in memcache. Even after the switch was replaced, the errors continued until ...

October 10th, 2015

When is computer programming easy?

Interesting:

While it is often thought that “real” programmers like real programming environments (my husband, for instance, is perfectly happy in MF Assembler, which is pretty grim), most programmers seem to become pretty happy moving up to graphical user interfaces and visual environments where they choose from a list of “correct” choices. I don’t think it is only users that can be more productive when they are better supported.

I believe there is a direct relationship between the ease of use of ...

October 7th, 2015

How central bankers propose marriage

Interesting:

Greenspan’s marriage proposal to Andrea Mitchell was riddled with his trademark ambiguity. Bernanke, in contrast, proposed after two months of courtship.

Source

October 6th, 2015

How easy is it to write immutable Javascript?

If you reinvent the language as a new language, then you can have immutable Javascript. On the frontend you have no choice, but on the backend? Why not use a language that offers what you need upfront, rather than forcing you to work for it? Interesting:

The main issue I’ve had using immutablejs with Redux is debugging. Whereas previously I could simply mouse-over a data structure when I hit a breakpoint (or crash), I now have to do a REPL ...

October 4th, 2015

Erlang – OTP – Cowboy are the cutting edge

At the current time, the only thing out there, in the tech industry, that might cause me to move a way from Clojure, is something build around the Erlang VM . In those situations where performance and massive concurrency are needed, something like Erlang/Cowboy or Elixir/Phoenix need to be looked at.

I load tested (using wrk) nginx serving a two line, static HTML file, against a basic Cowboy service that parsed parameters, did an ETS lookup, and rendered several hundred ...

October 4th, 2015

Clojurescript as the frontend to Erlang

Radically different, yet becoming more common:

We use vanilla SmartOS, so that there is no dependency on FiFo for your running VM’s. You could just switch FiFo off and all your VM’s would continue to just work. It also comes with a number of great advantages:

In our opinion, ZFS is simply the only file system that should ever be used – period.

Compression, ARC and ZIL work incredibly well, especially for DalmatinerDB which achieves amazing throughput partially thanks to being purpose ...

October 4th, 2015

Based on this, I just enabled Ghostery on my machine

Interesting:

That’s why the implied-contract theory is invalid: people aren’t agreeing to write a blank check and give up reasonable expectations of privacy by clicking a link. They can’t even know what the cost of visiting a page will be until they’ve already visited it and paid the price.

And it’s all getting so much worse, so quickly.

I’ve never been tempted to run ad-blocking software before — I make most of my living from ads, as do many of my friends and ...

October 4th, 2015

Hacking environmental protection features

Interesting:

Well, it turns out that all this environmental friendliness is starting to trip over itself, because most devices now start up in standby mode. So you can’t just power them on to power them on, you have to power them on and hit a button on the remote. Some devices, by pure dumb luck I assume, will accept the switch already being pressed in when they start. If that’s the case, you can hack the behaviour you want if you ...

October 3rd, 2015

Women in Japan now work more than women in the USA

An interesting graph:

To me, the interesting thing is that the trend is up in Japan, and down in the USA.

In the USA, the big surge for women was from 1935 to 1985, with a lull during the 1950s.

In Japan, it looks like a prolonged upward trend started around 2002. The trend is intensifying, which is interesting, but there is a better question we should ask: for most of the last 60 years, women in Japan have had ...

October 3rd, 2015

Are we in a recession?

When I was young, one thing that surprised me was the debate that occurred around the possibility of a recession in the early 90s. For me, personally, the economy sucked, and I thought we were in a deep recession. Then I started seeing magazine articles wrestle with the question, could we be entering a recession? Years later, NBER declared the recession had started in July of 1990, so the whole time people were debating the possibility of a recession, we ...

September 28th, 2015

The Liar, The Bitch and the Wardrobe

(The 2nd of 20 reviews of romance novels. I’m reading romance novels so I can learn how to better write about romance in my own works of fiction. My first review was of Evening)

The Liar, The Bitch and the Wardrobe is by Allie Kingsley

This is a very light book. I might compare it to Augusten Burroughs book Sellevsion, which was a bit of light comedy.

Kingsley’s book might have been written as a Young Adult book. I don’t mean that as ...

September 26th, 2015

積ん読

Interesting:

There are some words out there that are brilliantly evocative and at the same time impossible to fully translate. Yiddish has the word shlimazl, which basically means a perpetually unlucky person. German has the word Backpfeifengesicht, which roughly means a face that is badly in need of a fist. And then there’s the Japanese word tsundoku, which perfectly describes the state of my apartment. It means buying books and letting them pile up unread.

The word dates back to the very ...

September 26th, 2015

The Recursive Function Pattern Matching Pattern

Sean Johnson has a great video up. Common in Erlang, useful in Clojure, 3 functions, one to start, one to do the work, one to end, all defined by arity, using Pattern Matching.

Also called the “Start, Work, End” pattern.

This is often done in Clojure with zipmap, but this does not make things as clear as the Erlang version:

This is much more clear:

Source

September 26th, 2015

Best practice pattern matching in Clojure

If your function starts with a conditional, replace that with pattern matching:

Source

September 16th, 2015

Never a victim or always a victim

I like this understanding of trauma:

Psychologist Mark Epstein argues that trauma’s root is less the fact that bad things happen and more the fact that we don’t know what to do with what’s bad. Trauma is rooted in lack of communication. Sharing our experiences with another person—facing the traumas we are made of, and the new ones that continually shape us, Epstein says, helps create a balanced mind that can hold the truth. Better this than just telling ourselves that ...

September 16th, 2015

Racist school administrators go after Islamic child for science project

14 year old boy arrested for bringing a science project to school.

A 14-year-old boy in Irving, Texas named Ahmed Mohamed was taken into police custody after he brought a homemade clock to school. The boy, who, according to a piece in the Dallas Morning News, “makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart,” wanted to show his engineering teacher his handiwork.

School officials originally thought his clock was a bomb and now are simply calling it a “hoax bomb.” ...

September 16th, 2015

Ahmed Mohamed’s father has been an activist fighting for justice for muslims

The father of the 14 year old who was arrested for bring a science project to school. As is often a case, when a 14 year old shows courage in the face of injustice, they have a parent who has also been a crusader on political issues.

Mohamed also defended the Quran when pastor Terry Jones tried to burn it

In 2012, Florida pastor Terry Jones said he was putting the Quran on trial. Jones had threatened to burn the Quran ...

September 16th, 2015

In light of this weeks events, it is good to remember the time that school administrators used spyware on computers to spy on children even when the children were at home in their bedrooms.

The suit alleged that, in what was dubbed the “WebcamGate” scandal, the schools secretly spied on the students while they were in the privacy of their homes. School authorities surreptitiously and remotely activated webcams embedded in school-issued laptops the students were using at home. After the ...

September 16th, 2015

Clean up your act with lein-checkall

I am a bit late but I’ve only recently become consistent about using a linter to check my Clojure style. And I’ve only today discovered the Leiningen plugin lein-checkall, which combines lein check && lein kibit && lein eastwood && lein bikeshed.

Venanti has written about the importance of these:

Eastwood

Eastwood is a Clojure linter, invoked with lein eastwood. As a general request, please use a linter. Some of my favorite moments in the last year have come from people trying to ...

September 15th, 2015

Most cells in the body keep time

Very interesting:

Not that long ago, as Partch knew, it had become clear that nearly every cell in nearly every tissue in the body keeps time. Every 24 hours, responding to a biochemical bugle call, a handful of proteins assembles in the cell’s nucleus. When they bind to each other on the genome, they become a team of unrivaled impact: Under their influence, thousands of genes are transcribed into proteins. The gears of the cell jolt into motion, the tissue ...

September 13th, 2015

Loyalty is the most desirable response, but also the hardest to quantify and design for

Interesting:

To remain healthy, a social product needs to establish loyalty, and to mitigate the natural responses to discontent with the state of things. The early adopters will be interested in voicing their opinion, but typically these discussions are only interesting to the early adopters. Giving them a single place to have meta-discussions keeps them happy, and prevents them from disrupting the experience of users who couldn’t care less.

Similarly, creating mechanisms that allow a user to exit without completely abandoning ...

September 13th, 2015

Calculating and Visualizing Voronoi Diagrams using the Quad-Edge Structure – Alan Shaw

Allan Shaw talks about a data structure called a “quad edge”. There were a lot of ideas here that were new to me. The data structure keeps rotation as one value, and the orientation of the edge as one value, but anything like coordinates are kept in a field called “data”. This separates the topology from the geometry. There is also a “next” function to find the next edge. This, apparently, gives great advantage when calculating a whole network of ...

September 12th, 2015

Microservies mean freedom of future action

Interesting:

In short, maximize future freedom of action. This heuristic also answers the when and why questions for microservices.

To prove it, let’s start with Sprott & Wilkes on SOA. Wait, Service Oriented Architecture? SOA is microservices loving parent. The philosophy trickles down:

When the service is abstracted from the implementation it is possible to consider various alternative options for delivery and collaboration models. […] It is entirely realistic to assume that certain services will be acquired from external sources because it ...

September 11th, 2015

Why are microservices happening now?

The term “microservices” only goes back to 2013. I would have trouble saying why I love the style so much, except that I hated dealing with Ruby On Rails and the PHP framework known as Symfony. I was willing to deal with a lot to get away from the pain of those systems. The growth of great package managers also seemed to weaken the need for monoliths.

But Martin Fowler says the most important change was the move to Continuous ...

September 11th, 2015

The difference between Clojure and Common Lisp

Fascinating bit by Giles Bowkett. This uses recursion and is how you would do it in Common Lisp:

(defn build [list-1 list-2] (if (nil? list-1) () (concat (map (fn [bubble] (list (first list-1) bubble)) list-2) ...

September 11th, 2015

Microservices are different

It does feel like the world is moving closer to distributed IPC. We are not there, but the push toward microservices seems a step in that direction. The warnings of the past feel less relevant now.

When I wrote Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture, I coined what I called the First Law of Distributed Object Design: “don’t distribute your objects”. In recent months there’s been a lot of interest in microservices, which has led a few people to ask whether microservices ...

September 11th, 2015

The problem with Meetups

This is good:

Consider the meetup speaker. She’s had a topic in mind for while, and so when the request went out for speakers, she volunteered. But that was three months ago, and now the meetup’s only a few weeks away, and she hasn’t even begun. She starts to outline the talk, but can’t quite figure out where to start. She can explain all the details easily, but the order in which they should be introduced, the organizing structure of ...

September 11th, 2015

Zach Tellman — the need for backpressure in queues, and the limits

This is very good. A lot of this interesting, but perhaps the biggest surprise is when he adds 16 consumers of tasks, but also 16 producers of tasks, the crisis point comes suddenly, compared to when there was only 1 consumer and 1 producer. With multiple consumers the consumption is averaged out, so each machine works fine right up to the moment of crisis.

His main theme is “Unbounded queues are fundamentally broken because it puts the stability of our ...

September 11th, 2015

Dynamic scope in Clojure

The interesting thing here is that the dynamic vars are wrapped in functions, which makes them a bit safer than dynamic scope would imply.

Each of these sub-clauses is very similar to the parent structures, and can be arbitrarily nested. As such, it is most easily constructed with a recursive function. However, Clojure’s let bindings are lexical, and don’t extend into recursive calls. We could make the memoized gensym call a parameter, but since we also need a separate generator ...

September 11th, 2015

This instance doesn’t do much, but it does have a nice property: it’s only equal to itself

This is a very clever hack:

Graphviz assumes explicit identities for nodes, so what about when we want to represent a tree? We can’t simply use the identity of the node, because the same value at different positions within the tree must be treated as separate nodes. One possibility is to represent each node as a tuple of its value and its position in the tree, but this forces us to consider how to represent positions, which is neither obvious nor ...

September 11th, 2015

The 8 fallacies of distributed computing

This is great:

The IT group usually has different administrators, assigned according to expertise–databases, web servers, networks, Linux, Windows, Main Frame and the like. This is the easy situation. The problem is occurs when your company collaborates with external entities (for example, connecting with a business partner), or if your application is deployed for Internet consumption and hosted by some hosting service and the application consumes external services (think Mashups). In these situations, the other administrators are not even under ...

September 11th, 2015

Stanislaw Lem’s dystopia

Stanislaw Lem’s vision of the future deserves more attention. I like this writer. I read Memoirs Found in a Bathtub which I thought was awesome.

I attended two more Singularity Summits, in 2008 and 2009, and during that three-year period, all the much-vaunted performance gains in various technologies seemed paltry against a more obvious yet less-discussed pattern of accelerating change: the rapid, incessant growth in global ecological degradation, economic inequality, and societal instability. Here, forecasts tend to be far ...

September 10th, 2015

Free, white, and 21

Interesting:

And so, “free, white, and 21” was as much about power denied as asserted. Women used it more often precisely because their freedom was restricted. Men would use it too, whenever challenged. In That Certain Woman (1937), Henry Fonda tells of his desire to work up the courage to use the phrase against his domineering father. In real life, Henry Ford used it in 1919 to justify defying his stockholders. The saying was an assertion of will, of the rights ...

September 10th, 2015

Is Gradle the best build tool for the JVM?

Gradle continues to innovate with new features.

Is Buildr dead? Buildr is now part of Apache and yet its last update was over a year ago. I tried to use Buildr this year but I ran into errors and when I searched on Google I found all of the advice was many years old. No one responded to my question on StackOverflow. I’m left thinking that Buildr is dying.

Gradle has an awesome bunch of plugins and the eco-system is growing. ...

September 10th, 2015

No locks for performance under load with concurrency

Interesting:

It’s quite clear that the lock-free approach scales a lot better under contention. This follows our intuition because lock-freedom allows system-wide progress even when a thread is blocked. If one goroutine is blocked on an insert or lookup operation, other operations may proceed. With a mutex, this isn’t possible.

Matchbox performs well, particularly in multithreaded environments, but there are still more optimizations to be made. This includes improvements both in memory consumption and runtime performance. Applying the Ctrie techniques to ...

September 10th, 2015

Use Specter to transform Clojure’s lists

Interesting:

To change the name of all the stations named “Barista” to “Coffee Master”, I can use a for comprehension:

(for [site sites station (:stations site)] (if (= (:name station) "Barista") (assoc station :name "Coffee Master") station))

But using Specter:

(->> sites (transform [ALL :stations ALL #(= (:name %) "Barista")] #(assoc % :name "Coffee Master")))

Now, this example is not actually doing justice to Specter. But in a previous (superseded) versions of the ...

September 10th, 2015

Matthew Phillips makes the case of Clojure’s “for” comprehensions

I am lazy so I would probably handle this with “reduce” as I then have a free-form function in which I can do whatever I want. And yet, list comprehensions are more idiomatic. Their limits make it more obvious what the structure of data should be. And for deeply nested items, they can handle everything at once, rather than needing to do nested calls to “reduce”.

But you can also do it this way, using a list-comprehension in Clojure’s for ...

September 10th, 2015

Prismatic’s Schema is better than Typed Clojure because it has coercions

Interesting:

One very useful feature of Prismatic/schema which core.typed does not have is called coercions. With this feature you can both validate your data structure and transform it to the desired state. This is particularly useful when validating input data from a database or ring request and doing all the string->int, kebab-casing etc in one step. The net effect being much less defensive code ‘on the other side’ of the coercer since you can rely on the exact shape of the ...

September 10th, 2015

Why is microservices popular now?

This is a word that came out of nowhere and took over the industry.

I wrote a good essay about microservices a few months before the word was invented.

Martin Fowler came up with the word microservices a few months later. He said:

Microservice practitioners, usually have come from an evolutionary design background and see service decomposition as a further tool to enable application developers to control changes in their application without slowing down change. Change control doesn’t necessarily ...

September 10th, 2015

Fortran still survives

Interesting:

When you actually take a look at the bulk of FORTRAN, it looks suspiciously like C — and it has C linkage. So, to me personally, I lump FORTRAN and C together in my head and then the question becomes “What real advantage does the switch to C++ from C have for you?”. You can find vast amounts of information on the web to answer that question :)

I have not known a single person in over a decade to ...

September 10th, 2015

Ritual burial 3 million years ago?

Interesting:

The researchers who made the find have not been able to find out how long ago these creatures lived – but the scientist who led the team, Prof Lee Berger, told BBC News that he believed they could be among the first of our kind (genus Homo) and could have lived in Africa up to three million years ago.

Like all those working in the field, he is at pains to avoid the term “missing link”. Prof Berger says naledi could ...

September 10th, 2015

Checkpoint and Restore In User Space (CRIU)

Interesting:

Luckily for us as we were investigating this possibility we ran into an incredibly ambitious open source project called Checkpoint and Restore in User Space (or CRIU for short). The name says it all. CRIU aims to give you the same checkpointing capability for a process tree that virtual machines give you for an entire computer. This is no small task and actually required changes to the mainline Linux kernel to pull off. The original goal of this project ...

September 10th, 2015

Mutable versus Immutable history

What really happened? What is the state of your system?

Explaining the ideal behavior of our notebooks is relatively simple: regardless of how you enter or edit cells, it should show the results of executing the file from top to bottom: the same way node does. The easiest way to accomplish this of course is to just re-run the entire document from the start after every change. This is in fact how the “rewind” feature in works in bpython. Of ...

September 9th, 2015

The conceptual clarity of CQRS

Interesting:

I found the cognitive load to be less than with other service based architectures I have worked on. I could jump into any area of the code base and because of the naming conventions for commands and events I could see what was going on – this has never been my experience with a service oriented architecture.

The main change in developer thinking that is necessary is that you don’t record state you record state transitions. Once that is internalised ...

September 9th, 2015

Relationships are difficult:

When I told this story to the man I love, I felt shame flooding me at the point when I’d said too much to stop yet hadn’t gotten to the worst part. I realized I made a mistake; I didn’t want him to hear about this. I started sharing because I was trying to explain what it feels like to pitch and write while I know this is what editors really want to run, what readers want ...

September 8th, 2015

How to play cricket

Interesting:

You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that’s in the side that’s in goes out, and when he’s out he comes in and the next man goes in until he’s out. When they are all out, the side that’s out comes in and the side thats been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When a man goes out to go ...

September 7th, 2015

Things that make Clojure beautiful: namespace declarations

In Python, and Java, the import statements at the top of the file are big jumble of disorganized statements. In Clojure the namespace declaration is a data structure that can be cleaned up using all the tools Clojure has for working on a data structure. Apparently that is the idea behind Slamhound, which detects when imports are not being used. That is clever. I did not know about Slamhound. I will have to check that out.

Also this:

which was ...

September 7th, 2015

I hardly know what to say. It’s like a lottery winner who later goes bankrupt. Twitter had such a fantastic opportunity. I recall, 5 years ago, when TechCrunch faced criticism for running so many stories about Twitter, but Michael Arrington defended the stories by saying that Twitter was important. And it could have been important. But now it is just fading away, thanks to mismanagement. They never should have gone after ad money. They should have built an eco-system around ...

September 7th, 2015

Suicide on campus

Interesting:

Ms. Holleran was the third of six Penn students to commit suicide in a 13-month stretch, and the school is far from the only one to experience a so-called suicide cluster. This school year, Tulane lost four students and Appalachian State at least three — the disappearance in September of a freshman, Anna M. Smith, led to an 11-day search before she was found in the North Carolina woods, hanging from a tree. Cornell faced six suicides in the ...

September 6th, 2015

The end of science

Awful:

Throughout the years, I have been discovering more and more of the inner workings of academia and how modern scientific research is done and I have acquired a certain degree of discouragement in face of what appears to be an abandonment by my research community of the search for knowledge. I found scientists to be more preoccupied by their own survival in a very competitive research environment than by the development of a true understanding of the world.

By creating ...

September 6th, 2015

Video game as format for serious essay

Interesting:

For the uninitiated, That Dragon, Cancer (which has yet to see a retail release) is a narrative-driven game, meaning players walk slowly and click on elements in the game world to activate spoken passages of text and interactions with other characters. It stars the creator, Ryan Green, and members of his family, as they bounce between hospital rooms, days at the park, and weirder, out-of-body experiences. The film’s opening sequence appears to be taken from the game itself, putting ...

September 5th, 2015

Is frontend Clojure development the best frontend development eco-system

I have not done much frontend work these last 3 years, so I am out of touch, but wow, there is a lot going on:

The first step is to define the routes we want. One of the designing features of bidi is that routes are data structures, not function/macro calls:

The app-routes ...

September 5th, 2015

Limit the number of threads in Jetty

I do something similar, but I like the use of env, which I do not do:

(defn -main [& args] (let [config {:port (Integer/parseInt (or (env :port) "3000")) :join? false :min-threads (when (env :min-threads) (Integer/parseInt (env ...

September 5th, 2015

A website with teacher reviews got a student suspended from school, in 1994

How can schools teach young citizens that they have the right of free speech, and yet then impose harsh punishments for free speech?

Fortunately, both my parents and everyone I talked to during my suspension (the length of which the school refused to define, but ended up being five days) were largely supportive of my cause. They argued (and I agreed) that what I had done was careless, and I could have avoided the whole mess in the first place by ...

September 5th, 2015

Considering how radically different these are, this is a funny comparison:

Stability was the key aspect of Kafka we were unhappy with after a yearlong journey with it.

An HA deployment of Kafka requires an HA deployment of zookeeper, which Kafka uses to coordinate distributed state and configuration. As I explained before, we’ve experienced a number of stability issues with this stateful cluster maintaining consistency through outages such as VM recycle. Some serious engineering time was going into reacting to issues, ...

August 31st, 2015

It is very difficult to understand software based only on the database

And it is impossible to understand software if all you have is part of the database. I’ve had to struggle with this issue many times, at various companies. Apparently Annalee Newitz was bit by this as well.

The first thing I learned when I looked at the code was that the database Impact Team released on August 18, and on which I based my reporting about the number of active female users, was just a tiny portion of the ...

August 30th, 2015

Racism is okay if the market approves? WTF?

Sickening:

Source

August 30th, 2015

The financial bubbles of 2,000 BC

Another example of how science tends is biased toward excluding the possibilities of those things that would best explain our current situation, if we didn’t have the evidence, no one would be allowed to speculate such a situation:

The details of daily life are amazing, but another scholar, Gojko Barjamovic, of Harvard, realized that the archive also offered insight into something potentially more compelling. Many of the texts enumerate specific business details: the price of goods purchased and sold, the ...

August 30th, 2015

Matrices are representations of linear transformations

A good intro to an amazing topic:

Source

August 30th, 2015