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August 27th, 2014

In Philosophy

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The bugs on your face evolved to live there

Interesting:

Here is what we do know: Demodex mites are microscopic arachnids (relatives of spiders and ticks) that live in and on the skin of mammals – including humans. They have been found on every mammal species where we’ve looked for them, except the platypus and their odd egg-laying relatives.

Often mammals appear to host more than one species, with some poor field mouse species housing four mite species on its face alone. Generally, these mites live out a benign coexistence with ...

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August 27th, 2014

In Technology

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Is there a single answer to the problem of package management?

Interesting:

Why are there so many goddamn package managers? They sprawl across both operating systems (apt, yum, pacman, Homebrew) as well as for programming languages (Bundler, Cabal, Composer, CPAN, CRAN, CTAN, EasyInstall, Go Get, Maven, npm, NuGet, OPAM, PEAR, pip, RubyGems, etc etc etc). “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a programming language must be in want of a package manager.” What is the fatal attraction of package management that makes programming language after programming language jump off this cliff? ...

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August 27th, 2014

In Philosophy

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I am frustrated that Wikipedia hides old version pages from search engines

A few months ago, I read about “gynaikonomos” on Wikipedia and I thought it was an interesting word, with an interesting story behind it, and last night I mentioned it to a friend, who asked me to send them the URL, but now I find the page that talked about gynaikonomos has been erased from Wikipedia. I got to that page from a link on the page about the Plague of Athens.

The link has been erased from the page. ...

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August 27th, 2014

In Philosophy

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9 year old girl, machine guns, killing, accidents, death, for freedom

This is the most American headline ever written:

9-Year-Old Girl Accidentally Kills Her Shooting Instructor With an Uzi

The only thing that could make this headline more American is if she used an M-16 instead of an Uzi. Otherwise, this headline is perfect, it tells you exactly what kind of country the USA is: the kind of country where people think it is important that 9 year olds learn how to use an Uzi. For freedom.

Source

August 27th, 2014

In Technology

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The growing power and status of Computer Science departments

In academia, statistics is losing ground to computers:

“They [the statistical profession] lost the PR war because they never fought it.”

I assume this is a USA development. In Europe the computer departments have tended to be outgrowths of the math departments.

Recently a number of new terms have arisen, such as data science, Big Data, and analytics, and the popularity of the term machine learning has grown rapidly. To many of us, though, this is just “old wine in new ...

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August 27th, 2014

In Technology

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Problems of package management are sapping productivity for tech workers

It is especially bad on the front end:

The situation with packages and dependency hell today is horrendous, particularly if you work in a highly dynamic environment like web development. I want to illustrate this with a detailed example of something I did just the other day, when I set up the structure for a new single page web application. Bear with me, this is leading up to the point at the end of this post. To build the front-end, I wanted ...

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August 27th, 2014

In Technology

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A single div

This is an interesting use of CSS gradients to draw images

Source

August 27th, 2014

In Technology

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NixOS as package management?

The end should be the headline:

The last point is huge: I can use Nix to manage my software on both my Linux and OS X machines! I’ll explain how I do that in a future post.

The whole thing sounds interesting:

The main differentiator of NixOS is its package manager, Nix, which stores packages in isolation on a read-only file system. It then makes them available to you by adjusting your environment variables (e.g. your PATH). This way, it can achieve ...

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August 26th, 2014

In Technology

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Why are Emacs packages such a disaster?

Check out this screenshot. Do you see where it says “Build/Failing”? The red icon? This simply does not happen with other open source projects that I use. No other community thinks it is normal to push broken code to master. What is wrong with Emacs packages? Is their an attitude that we hackers should be such amazing hackers that we can fix the broken code in every project that we use?

Source

August 24th, 2014

In Business

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The amazing success of Bustle

I am angry with myself for ruining my own chances to launch a successful website, and I am amazed that Bustle is doing well. Bryan Goldberg strikes me as absolutely clueless about women’s issues, yet he’s managed to create a site that gets huge traffic from women.

Do you read Bustle, the website best known in “the culture” as the place whose founder, Bryan Goldberg, uses his female employees’ legs as typing desks? No, me neither. Nonetheless, according to recent ...

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August 23rd, 2014

In Technology

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“Just works” versus “I understand it”

This does a lot to explain the difference between folks drawn to PHP and folks drawn to Lisp. Do you want a utility language that allows you to get basic work done, or do you want a language that you can understand? I wrote PHP for years, but in the end, I was frustrated by much of the magic in it, especially in the PHP object oriented stuff. I like Clojure because I can understand the underpinnings of the language ...

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August 23rd, 2014

In Business

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The uncertainty of promised products

Interesting:

Almost a year ago I paid $55 to be an “early backer” of the credit card replacement system, with the promise that I’d be shipped a Coin summer of 2014. As the months went by emails would arrive detailing how Coin worked, how it was made, etc., all with the reminder that soon enough, I’d be receiving my Coin this summer.

Fast forward to this week — everyone who paid to be backer received an email stating that—HOORAY—our Coins would ...

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August 22nd, 2014

In Business

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Oracle takes $240 million for a website, and then fails to build the website

Interesting:

The 126-page lawsuit, filed in Marion County Circuit Court, claims that fraud, lying and “a pattern of racketeering” by Oracle cost the state and its Cover Oregon program hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Not only were Oracle’s claims lies, Oracle’s work was abysmal,” the lawsuit said. Oregon paid Oracle about $240.3 million for a system that never worked, the suit said.

Oracle issued a statement saying the suit “is a desperate attempt to deflect blame from Cover Oregon and the governor for ...

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August 21st, 2014

In Technology

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Representational Value Transfer (REVAT)

Very interesting:

Representational Value Transfer (REVAT) What we need is a RESTful way to disambiguate state and value, so that we can reason about resource URLs. I propose that we use use existing REST semantics for indicating state and adopt a new conventional standard for indicating values:

GET http://api.example.com/values/5690ba7f-f308-4c32-b67c-56f654bbfd83

{ “id”: 12345, “title”: “Apple iPad Air”, “price_usd”: 599.99 } The salient points of a REVAT URL are:

REVAT values are immutable. Values are identified by random UUIDs No coordination is required to uniquely generate them A non ...

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August 21st, 2014

In Technology

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Racket sounds awesome

Very interesting:

I said above that Lisp flat­tery is easy to find. The prob­lem with Lisp flat­tery is that it makes sense only to ex­pe­ri­enced Lisp pro­gram­mers. To oth­ers—es­pe­cially those who are try­ing to de­cide whether to learn and use a Lisp—it just comes across as un­sub­stan­ti­ated hoodoo.

For ex­am­ple, in his es­say How to Be­come a Hacker, Eric Ray­mond says “Lisp is worth learn­ing for … the pro­found en­light­en­ment ex­pe­ri­ence you will have when you fi­nally get it. That ex­pe­ri­ence will ...

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August 20th, 2014

In Technology

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People strongly disagree with me

Interesting. On Hacker News I quoted one of my earlier blog posts:

“There is an important asymmetry between an architecture of small apps and an architecture of The Monolithic CMS. If you have small apps, and decide you want to move to a monolithic CMS, then you must do The Big Rewrite: the exhausting effort of reproducing all of your funtionality so that it is handled by your one, all-consuming CMS. But when you move from the monolithic CMS to an ...

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August 20th, 2014

In Philosophy

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The Lost World of Tarnów

This is a book I would like to get:

The photos are really impressive. Although their photographers are mostly unknown, many of them are worthy counterparts of Menachem Kipnis’, Alter Kacyzne’s or Roman Vishniac’s famous series. This also indicates how many more pictures may still be hiding depicting this world, which only twenty years ago was widely considered to have passed almost without a trace. And the book’s great merit is that, apart from the images, it also helps to ...

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August 20th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Blatant sexual harassment at tech conferences

This is disturbing:

Charming! He made sure to include a link to his About.me profile, a touch that wasn’t lost on Haas. Her story was brought to my attention by two other women in the east coast tech community, Amy Vernon and Allyson Kapin, who wished to go on the record and spread Haas’ story. Haas, on her end, had shared a couple of posts about the experience with women she’s close with, but hadn’t gone fully public with the experience ...

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August 20th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Strict parenting in Roman times

Augustus was willing to banish his own daughter:

Lex Iulia de Maritandis Ordinibus (18 BC): Limiting marriage across social class boundaries (and thus seen as an indirect foundation of concubinage, later regulated by Justinian, see also below). Lex Iulia de Adulteriis Coercendis (17 BC): This law punished adultery with banishment.[1] The two guilty parties were sent to different islands (“dummodo in diversas insulas relegentur”), and part of their property was confiscated.[1] Fathers were permitted to kill daughters and their partners in ...

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August 20th, 2014

In Technology

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The S does not stand for Simple

Interesting:

REST is a vast improvement over complex things like SOAP and CORBA, but I think we still have a way to go before we’ve reached simple. REST is an acronym for REpresentational State Transfer, and I think the “state” part of that acronym gives rise to a lot of incidental complexity as systems grow.

You can think of state as a combination of value and time, and in the RESTful case, the time dimension is almost always “now”. The trouble ...

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August 19th, 2014

In Technology

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Fixing Bad Data in Datomic

I am intrigued:

A Motivating Example

ACME Co. buys, sells, and processes things. Unfortunately, their circa-2003 web interface is not a shining example of UI/UX design. Befuddled by all the modal screens, managers regularly put bad data into the system.

In fact, manager Steve just accidentally created an inventory record showing that ACME now has 999 Tribbles. This is ridiculous, since everyone knows that the CEO refuses to deal in Tribbles, citing “a bad experience”. In a rather excited voice, ...

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August 19th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Police intimidation of journalists is a political statement

Interesting and disturbing:

On Sunday night, three days after citizens of Ferguson marched alongside Missouri Highway Patrol Captain Ron Johnson, in gratitude for Johnson taking over the heavy-handed police presence, and mere hours after Johnson gave an emotional speech apologizing for the police violence and promising its end, the savior of Ferguson ordered three journalists arrested for witnessing an apparently unprompted police crackdown on protesters.

Shortly after police in Ferguson lobbed tear gas and fired high-tech noise cannons at protesters, three reporters ...

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August 19th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Police want too much discretion

Interesting:. Cop says we should do whatever a cop says:

Even though it might sound harsh and impolitic, here is the bottom line: if you don’t want to get shot, tased, pepper-sprayed, struck with a baton or thrown to the ground, just do what I tell you. Don’t argue with me, don’t call me names, don’t tell me that I can’t stop you, don’t say I’m a racist pig, don’t threaten that you’ll sue me and take away my badge. Don’t ...

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August 19th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Women’s soccer is violent

I’ve seen violence in women’s soccer that would never be allowed in men’s soccer. I wonder if there is a cultural bias here, thinking that girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice, and so they can’t really be violent? It’s worth noting that at least a 25% of female athletes have levels of testosterone higher than the average male, so they’ve got plenty of hormone for aggression. Check this out:

Source

August 19th, 2014

In Business

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Editors are worthless, and middle managers are also worthless

I love this:

Go find a story published a few years ago in The New Yorker, perhaps America’s most tightly edited magazine. Give that story to an editor, and tell him it’s a draft. I guarantee you that that editor will take that story—well-polished diamond that it presumably is—and suggest a host of changes. Rewrite the story to the specifications of the new editor. Then take it to another editor, and repeat the process. You will find, once again, that the ...

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August 17th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Living organisms communicate with RNA

I’ve read several articles over the years suggesting that RNA is used as a tool of communication. I have the sense that this is something huge, that this is going to change the world. If RNA can be used as a general communication tool, not only as cypher, with a limited set of symbols whose meanings are pre-determined, but in a manner that allows new meanings to be created by different arrangements, then that suggests that RNA encodes a notation ...

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August 17th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Heterosexuals do not understand bisexuality

Funny and interesting:

It was not jealousy I felt, not in the least. It was exclusion. Invisibility. Irrelevance. What did she mean? What had Stephanie said? What the hell was this? To make matters worse, when we got home that night Stephanie passed out in the elevator and, annoyed, I carried her into my apartment and put her to bed on the coffee table. I figured in the morning she’d forget the whole thing, and, should she need a female fix ...

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August 17th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Unboxing mania

Interesting:

And so, the concerned parent researches. It didn’t take long to learn that DisneyCollector is actually working within an enormous growing culture for opening newly purchased items on camera. According to data from Social Blade, a YouTube data-analysis site, DisneyCollector could be raking in between $2 million and $13 million a year in advertising. She is very likely the most successful auteur of unboxing videos, a type of clip — part Consumer Reports and part Christmas morning — that has ...

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August 17th, 2014

In Technology

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Security problems with OpenSIS

OpenSIS tells me that a password is “invalid” because another user is already using it. This is in the admin view, so I guess the assumption is that the admin can know if a password is being used more than once, but this still strikes me a security violation. See the bottom of the screenshot:

Source

August 12th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Gender, romance and looking desperate

Interesting story:

It’s a perfectly sweet boy-and-girl-meet-cute story. Moreau had been in Spain for a few months traveling and she was happy to be sitting next to an English speaker, she said. Kelly was immediately smitten. For whatever reason, they did not exchange phone numbers on the flight, perhaps because they expected to keep chatting after customs.

Dude really put in the work to find her, too:

He asked the airline for information on his seatmate, but for privacy reasons, they couldn’t help. ...

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August 11th, 2014

In Business

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How to handle comments at a media site

Very surprising post from the staff at Jezebel:

Working at Gawker Media is a dream job for many of the women on staff here at Jezebel. This is a place that takes chances on developing writers, that has always stood behind us no matter what. But it’s time the company had its feet held to the fire.

For months, an individual or individuals has been using anonymous, untraceable burner accounts to post gifs of violent pornography in the discussion section of stories ...

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August 7th, 2014

In Technology

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Event Tracing for Windows is a truly terrible API

I found this to be funny:

Blog Bio The Technician No Imperfections Noted The Jeff and Casey Show Jeff and Casey TimeCasey Muratori Seattle, WA The Worst API Ever Made A call-by-call look at context switch logging with the Event Tracing for Windows API.This article is part of a series where a new short-form tech article is posted every Wednesday. You can always check the contents page for the latest installment, or follow me on Twitter for updates. You can also RSS ...

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August 6th, 2014

In Technology

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The explosion of sysadmin configuration complexity

Somewhat off-topic, but it is amazing to think about the complexity of the server setup that is implied by this:

First, let me start by explaining why we decided to port away from Puppet: We had a complex puppet code base that has around 10,000 lines of actual Puppet code. This code was originally spaghetti-code oriented and in the past year or so was being converted to a new pattern that used Hiera and Puppet modules split up into services ...

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August 6th, 2014

In Philosophy

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What if your husband is secretly an abusive online troll?

A woman discovers her husband’s secret online life:

He left the browser open on our laptop after he went to work this morning. I go to work after, so I usually hop on and do my own things on my real account….I was disgusted at what I found. My husband is a troll. A really fucking nasty troll. He leaves horribly mean comments to all kinds of people. They’re filled with racist slurs, awful insults, he tears into fat people, ugly ...

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August 6th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Pandering and popularity

Interesting:

I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in a crappy town in the middle of nowhere and like anyone who lives in rural America, social relationships are nothing if not an intensely interlocked microcosm of social jockeying. I had a pack of friends and when times were good, we’d have slumber parties in the tent of our front yard, play stiff as a board and light as a feather and listen to the GoGos and the Human ...

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August 6th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Life online allows people to hate strangers

An interesting side effect of moving one’s social life online is that now it is possible for people on the other side of the world (people who in another era would have never known of your existence) can now hate you, because they don’t like what they read or hear about you. I think we know this in the abstract, but the specific cases are always surprising and sad to read about. In this case a bunch of women were ...

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August 5th, 2014

In Technology

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Clojure core.async is just a bunch of callbacks

Interesting to note that the beautifully elegant core.async is secretly the same as the “callback hell” of Javascript — except that core.async automates it all for you, which is a huge difference.

core.async is a Clojure library implementing communication sequential processes, an approach that allows code to be structured as producers and consumers of messages passed through channels. CSPs are an approach to dealing with concurrent activity in a program, and exists as a strong alternative to the kind of ...

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August 5th, 2014

In Technology

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Just write SQL

I’ve been on both sides of this debate, but mostly I write SQL, mostly because the limits of ORMs tend to be immediate and stifling.

ORMs map nicely when you are indeed modifying objects, but somethings don’t map well that way. So don’t map them that way! What we need is a low level abstraction layer alongside the ORM. The main problem with raw SQL is that what you really want is a genuine programming language. You almost want programmatic access to ...

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August 5th, 2014

In Technology

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Visual Markov Chains

This is well done, the animation of the Markov chains makes the real-world impact of the probabilities more understandable.

Source

August 5th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Mental performance in men and women, improvements linked to national development

Interesting

That performance was determined using tests for episodic memory (the retention of words in memory), category fluency (naming examples of, say, animals) and numeracy. Women are expected to outperform men in episodic memory and men do better in numeracy. Neither sex is thought dominant in category fluency.

Episodic memory matters because it is linked to emotion. The brain remembers unconnected words by linking them to a memory or imagined situation. It is the emotion of the memory that supposedly helps the ...

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August 5th, 2014

In Technology

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Multimethods in Clojure

I’ve only recently discovered multimethods, but now I’ve come round to the idea that one should never use (cond) in Clojure. Rather, any time you have a complicated nexted (ifs) or a big (cond) it should all be replaced by multimethods:

A Clojure multimethods is a combination of a dispatch function and one or more methods, each defining its own dispatch value. The dispatching function is called first, and returns a dispatch value. This value is then matched to the correct ...

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August 5th, 2014

In Business

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Are in-app purchases uniquely destructive to personal finance?

Interesting argument:

Adults with a loose claim to self-sufficiency can still recite the cost of their monthly rent, their cable bill, student loan bills, smartphone bill, auto insurance, the seasonal range of electricity consumption, annual penalty for breeding, etc. When charges are deducted automatically, the numbers get fuzzier. For the spendthrift, monthly expenditures on food, drink, travel, and clothing are more nebulous still. But impulse-driven, one-press smartphone purchases are the easiest to lose track of, which makes apps even worse enablers ...

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August 5th, 2014

In Business

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(NSFW) Is Whisper really respecting people’s privacy?

Gawker Media gets data straight from Whisper:

Uber and Lyft are doing everything they can to recruit new drivers. There’s cash and perks and a bevy of enticing benefits, but for whatever reason they’re not mentioning the massive amount of spontaneous sex drivers are having with riders. …If you’re thinking this is all just an elaborate hoax by a spate of sexually frustrated Whisper users, we did too – and then we talked to the company. Whisper was able to weed ...

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August 5th, 2014

In Business

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The need to check PayPal

Something I need to do, that I’ve wanted to do for awhile, is add more checks to my payments systems.

You can make an API call to check the status of a transaction very easily. When my users are redirected back to my site (thanks page, or similar), I check if their transaction is completed, if not, I kick off an every-five-seconds check while asking the user to hold on while we talk with paypal. I will eventually fail after some number ...

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August 5th, 2014

In Philosophy

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What makes people attractive to one another?

What makes people attractive to one another? This seems to change over time, depending on what people lack. A hundred years ago, in the USA, it was reasonable to summarize dating advice as “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” but that was before the economy had shifted to a service economy, so one could not buy services such as good food, one had to instead rely on women. Nowadays such advice is ridiculous, we get food ...

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August 5th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Will it ever be immoral to have children?

Once upon a time it was considered moral to own slaves. The Bible justifies slavery and says that slaves should be loyal the their masters. Most of the great men of history owned slaves: the Roman Emperors, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, etc. The practice was universally accepted. Now it is considered deeply immoral to own slaves. This raises the question, are there any other activities that are now universally accepted, and which will someday be regarded as immoral? My first ...

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August 5th, 2014

In Technology

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PHP will never be a happily multi-threaded language

If you want concurrency, then use a language that was designed from the beginning to support concurrency. PHP will never be that language. I’ve said this before, and jerf on Hacker News also says it well:

Adding pervasive threading is a different story. Adding threading to a mutable-state dynamic scripting language has a long and sordid history… even when it is nominally successful (as in Python) it is still not very useful, and at times it has been simply a failure ...

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August 5th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Multi-cellular creatures live on intimate terms with bacteria

There is the large question of why the Cambrian revolution started 540 million years ago. Life apparently began on earth almost 4 billion years ago, so it was around doing not much for 3.5 billion years and then, suddenly, boom, everything changed. But what circumstances built up at a slow pace to allow circumstances to finally move at a fast pace? One imagines a vast language of chemical signals must have been built up, eventually complex enough to allow the ...

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August 5th, 2014

In Business

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If a writers say they are writing a series, is that an implicit contract?

This is incorrect:

You’re complaining about George doing other things than writing the books you want to read as if your buying the first book in the series was a contract with him: that you would pay over your ten dollars, and George for his part would spend every waking hour until the series was done, writing the rest of the books for you. No such contract existed. You were paying your ten dollars for the book you were reading, ...

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August 5th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Kim Kardashian understands how money works

I am afraid of the kind of economy that Kim Kardashian makes her money from, where illusions are profitable but manufacturing physical products is unprofitable. Nevertheless, I recognize that she has a genius for operating in this current environment, and I try to follow her, because I realize that I have a lot to learn from her.

That said, perhaps the woman on the $20 should fit a similar mold — the modern embodiment of how pursuit of success at all ...

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August 5th, 2014

In Technology

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Web apps can be desktop apps if you bundle the web server

It’s an interesting idea, a sort of uberjar idea, in the sense that you bundle all dependencies as one app. You can bundle up all the pieces of a web app and make it a desktop app by including the webserver. Indeed, I do exactly that every time I run “lein uberjar” on one of my Clojure apps (when I embed the Jetty server with my app):

Node is a lightweight JavaScript runtime based on the Google Chrome V8 engine. ...

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August 1st, 2014

In Technology

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Scott Feeney writes about Liberator

This is a very good write-up about Liberator, the Clojure library for RESTful APIs. This example he gives was a revelation to me:

Here’s a longer example, a post on a blogging site. Anyone can read a blog post (with a GET), but only the user who wrote it can edit it (with a PUT) or DELETE it.

(defresource blog-post-resource [id] :allowed-methods [:get :put :delete]

;; Return 503 Service Unavailable if DB is down. :service-available? (fn [_] ...

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August 1st, 2014

In Technology

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Relying on “standard” libraries which may or may not exist on a server

A strange post from ItsMe:

Programs (like not only browsers) are using shared libraries (e.g. glibc provided by the OS). So the dependant library(s) isn’t/ aren’t used by the browser alone.

most unix based OSes have python installed as a standard library (next to perl).

(My RHEL for example depends heavily on python because most of the standard programs that are used are written in python)

So why should be almost 8 MB for a program that reads text be nothing?

Particularly when ...

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August 1st, 2014

In Technology

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The evolution of RESTful APIs

A good post on the importance of the PATCH verb:. This is from the Rails community, but I think all communities have adopted this. Lord knows Rails did a great deal to shape modern ideas about APIs.

What is PATCH? The HTTP method PUT means resource creation or replacement at some given URL.

Think files, for example. If you upload a file to S3 at some URL, you want either to create the file at that URL or replace an existing file if ...

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July 28th, 2014

In Philosophy

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OKCupid experiments on its users again

Manipulations done by OKCupid. Remember, if a service is free, then you are the product.

But by comparing Love Is Blind Day to a normal Tuesday, we learned some very interesting things. In those 7 hours without photos… And it wasn’t that “looks weren’t important” to the users who’d chosen to stick around. When the photos were restored at 4PM, 2,200 people were in the middle of conversations that had started “blind”. Those conversations melted away. The goodness was gone, ...

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July 28th, 2014

In Technology

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When should a program interpret words?

This is very good:

Consider the following “program” in English prose:

Assume that your favorite color is red. Now imagine a balloon that is your favorite color. Paint a canvas the same color as the balloon. As English goes, that’s a fairly clear program with a fairly well-defined result. When I follow those instructions, at least, I will always produce a red canvas (assuming that I have a canvas and some red paint, but a potential lack of art supplies is not the ...

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July 28th, 2014

In Technology

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Rate limiting middleware for Clojure Ring

It is impressive how much the Clojure eco-system is catching up with Ruby On Rails. The middleware available for Ring is now very extensive. I just discovered Rate limiting middleware for Clojure Ring. Seeing as I just built an API with Liberator, this middleware could be very useful.

Source

July 28th, 2014

In Technology

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Organizing Emacs

This looks like a good article on simple and practical configs for Emacs. I hope to get a new Mac soon, and then re-install Emacs, and then re-configure it based on all I know now. My initial setup of Emacs was confusing since I was overwhelmed by the complexity of Emacs, and I was in a hurry to get stuff done.

Source

July 28th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Why is the solar system stable?

I am fascinated with the question of smart people thinking dumb things. Or rather, things that now strike me as stupid, partly because I grew up knowing the answer.

One of the smartest people who ever lived was Isaac Newton. And for a long time, he was convinced that the sun had a repulsive force that was pushing the planets away. Robert Hooke had to expend considerable effort to convince Newton that the sun had an attractive force. And then, ...

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July 28th, 2014

In Technology

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The Cambrian explosion of Javascript innovation

I am not working with Javascript, so part of me wants to ignore it, but, to be honest, the things now happening in the land of Javascript are amazing. Consider Racer:

Racer is a realtime model synchronization engine for Node.js. By leveraging ShareJS, multiple users can interact with the same data in realtime via Operational Transformation, a sophisticated conflict resolution algorithm that works in realtime and with offline clients. ShareJS also supports PubSub across multiple servers for horizontal scaling. Clients can ...

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July 28th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Why a woman becomes a social worker

A powerful story about why one woman wanted to become a social worker:

She’s a pacifist, she doesn’t believe in killing or maiming. Hitting either, I suppose.

“Not even to save a life?” I ask.

“Only if it was very clear-cut.”

“What if you knew of a person who had tortured and killed several women, and you had the ability to stop them?”

“I would call the police,” she says.

Fuck, if only I could be that innocent, to think I could just call the cops ...

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July 27th, 2014

In Technology

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Understanding Ring Middleware

I am very, very stupid. Despite the great post by Darren Holloway, I was still wondering when you get the request and when do you get the response in a Ring Middleware.

Ryan Evans offers this simple middleware as an example:

(defn my-middleware [app] (fn [request] ;; This is where you’d do any processing on the request ;; Finally, keep the chain going by calling app (app request)))

The ...

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July 26th, 2014

In Technology

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TJ Holowaychuk leaves NodeJS for Go

TJ Holowaychuk built out some of the most important nmp modules for NodeJS, but now he is leaving for Go.

Go versus Node

If you’re doing distributed work then you’ll find Go’s expressive concurrency primitives very helpful. We could achieve similar things in Node with generators, but in my opinion generators will only ever get us half way there. Without separate stacks error handling & reporting will be mediocre at best. I also don’t want to wait 3 years for the ...

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July 26th, 2014

In Technology

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Changing leadership of NodeJS

More than most projects, it seems like Node.js has seen a lot of churn in its leadership.

January 2012:

Citing a desire to work on research projects after three years of focused work, Node.js creator and project leader Ryan Dahl sent out a message today that he will be “ceding my position as gatekeeper to Isaac Schlueter”. He stated:

I am still an employee at Joyent and will advise from the sidelines but I won’t be involved in the day-to-day bug fixes. ...

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July 26th, 2014

In Philosophy

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The Perseus Cluster is huge and strange

Interesting:

Together with a team of more than a half-dozen colleagues, Bulbul has been using Chandra to explore the Perseus Cluster, a swarm of galaxies approximately 250 million light years from Earth. Imagine a cloud of gas in which each atom is a whole galaxy—that’s a bit what the Perseus cluster is like. It is one of the most massive known objects in the Universe. The cluster itself is immersed in an enormous ‘atmosphere’ of superheated plasma—and it is ...

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July 26th, 2014

In Technology

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Adding real continuous loop behavior to Clojure apps

Interesting:

A while loop that is always true will continue to run until terminated, but it’s not really the cleanest way to obtain the result as it doesn’t allow for a clean shutdown. We can use a scheduled thread pool that will start and execute the desired command in a similar fashion as the while loop, but with a much greater level of control. Create a file in the src directory called scheduler.clj and enter the following code:

(ns pinger.scheduler ...

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July 26th, 2014

In Business

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How to ruin a company

Interesting:

Our sales were growing so fast that the biggest problem that we faced was that we literally could not handle all the customers that wanted to sign up for Loudcloud. To combat this and enable us to grow, I worked diligently with my team to plan all the activities that we needed to accomplish to expand our capacity and capture the market before the competition. Next, I assigned sub-goals and activities to each functional head. In conjunction with my leadership ...

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July 22nd, 2014

In Technology

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The problems of object oriented programming and strict typing

This is good, though too specific to Java:

The biggest problem I’ve encountered over the years looking at Java code is that it always seems to be the product of someone who fancies themselves as an architect. They must, because so often I find I’m reading code that looks more like a plan for something that solves a problem, rather than something that actually solves a problem. It’s not a subtle distinction. There are deep layers of abstraction and mountains of ...

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July 22nd, 2014

In Technology

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How much can a developer possibly know?

The amount that programmers need to know is growing, so experienced programmers end up facing situations like the one described here by Tim Bray:

Where I’m stuck · I have a tab open to a page in the Gra­dle doc­s: Chap­ter 50. Depen­den­cy Man­age­ment. It has 63 header-delimited sec­tions or­ga­nized in­to 10 top-level sub­sec­tion­s, and it’s chap­ter 50 of 65 (plus five ap­pen­dices). ¶ Short sto­ry: I’m get­ting an in­com­pre­hen­si­ble Groovy er­ror try­ing to do some­thing that should be sim­ple, and fol­low­ing ...

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July 21st, 2014

In Technology

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Pretty-print JSON from Clojure

Interesting:

What’s next? Oh, pretty-printing. Yeah, I pretty-print my JSON to go over the wire. It’s nice for debugging. I mean, who wants to curl one long, 1000-character line of JSON? Put some whitespace, please! How to do that?

(cheshire.core/generate-string mp {:pretty true}) That’s right, it’s basically built in, but you have to specify it. But, oh man, that’s long. I don’t want to type that, especially because my lazy fingers are going to not do it one time, then I’m going ...

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July 21st, 2014

In Philosophy

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Learning a new language boosts your memory

Interesting:

In the last few years, unable to hold a list of just four grocery items in my head, I’d begun to fret a bit over my literal state of mind. So to reassure myself that nothing was amiss, just before tackling French I took a cognitive assessment called CNS Vital Signs, recommended by a psychologist friend. The results were anything but reassuring: I scored below average for my age group in nearly all of the categories, notably landing in the ...

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July 21st, 2014

In Technology

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PrettyPrinting for test results

An interesting test style:

If the expression passed to is an S-expr, and the first element of the is recognized as a function. Then is prints that first symbol directly, then evaluates all the arguments to the function and prints the results. For instance:

expected: (function-name (arg1) (arg2)) actual: (not (function-name “1st arg value” “2nd arg value”))

However, if is does not recognize that first element as a function, the whole expression passed to is is evaluated for the actual, and you get:

expected: (something-that-evaluates-to-bool ...

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July 21st, 2014

In Technology

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Why is uberjar such a rare option?

I find this very surprising. My first serious exposure to the JVM was via Clojure, which has the awesome Leinengen build tool, which has an uberjar option. Therefore I thought uberjar was common on the JVM. But no. Now that I am working with Java, I find that it is rare for anyone to put jars inside of jars:

You can add jars to the jar’s classpath, but they must be co-located, not contained in the main jar.

That was in 2008, ...

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July 20th, 2014

In Technology

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Buildr as a continuous integration tool?

Interesting to read an old post from 2008 in which Liz Douglas stretch Buildr to the point that it becomes almost a continuous integration tool:

A few months ago the idea of myself writing such words (“Things I like about Buildr“) seemed very unlikely and I dare say that my project buddies may be surprised at the statement. Buildr, for those unfamiliar, is a build tool for Java applications that is written in Ruby. It’s key benefit is its concise ...

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July 20th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Shame and politics

During the 4 years that I was sick, 1995-1999, my personal politics swung sharply to the right. I’ve always had trouble describing why. However, this essay does a good job describing many of the emotions involved. Very interesting:

Even though we didn’t take the food stamps, we lived in the warm embrace of the federal government with subsidized housing and utilities, courtesy of Uncle Sam [Lyngar, at the time, was in the Army]. Yet I blamed all of my considerable problems ...

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July 20th, 2014

In Technology

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Should project packaging/building be complicated?

Working with Java for the first time in 10 years. Using Buildr as my build tool. I have a certain admiration for Buildr and all that it allows:

Here’s another example:

jjtree = jjtree(_(‘src/main/jjtree’), :in_package=>’com.acme’) compile.from javacc(jjtree, :in_package=>’com.acme’), jjtree

This time, the variable jjtree is a file task that reads a JJTree source file from the src/main/jjtree directory, and generates additional source files in the target/generated/jjtree directory. The second line creates another file task that takes those source files, runs JavaCC on them, and ...

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July 20th, 2014

In Technology

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Clojure encourages small functions

This is very true:

I have only two small Clojure projects, and other than writing tools on which nothing major depends, these projects will probably be the only ones in my current position. The rest will be done in Web languages and Perl. So, I enjoy a chance to enhance the Clojure projects.

I do not know why, and am not aware of any conscious prejudice, but writing Clojure code encourages me to create small functions, and external Clojure projects, like ...

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July 19th, 2014

In Technology

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The difference between strict static typing and design-by-contract

When I write Clojure, I write pre and post assertions, following the pattern known as “design by contract”:

(defn fetch [ctx] {:pre [ (map? ctx) (string? (:database-query-to-call ctx)) (map? (:database-where-clause-map ctx)) ] :post [(future? %)]} “2014-07-01 – first we check the cache. If we get ...

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July 18th, 2014

In Technology

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Classpath hell in Java

I rarely work in Java, and every time I recall what a pain it is to figure out the classpath. I finally set my classpath in the manifest to something hardcoded:

Main-Class: com/company/Main Class-Path: /Users/lkrubner/projects/launchopen/lofdg/target/

and at the terminal I compile my “.class” files in the same directory as the “.java” files:

javac src/com/company/*.java

Then I move them:

mv src/com/company/*.class target/com/company/

Then I create my jar file:

jar vcfm fakeDataGeneratror.jar manifest.txt target/com/company/*

which I call:

java -jar fakeDataGeneratror.jar

There are some important text files that ...

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July 2nd, 2014

In Technology

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Testing RESTful APIs with cURL

This is great:

I believe it’s just as easy, for basic operations, to use CURL as you are likely to be in a terminal window anyway at such an early stage in development. For this reason, I thought I’d cover using CURL for the 4 basic RESTful methods (GET, POST, PUT and DELETE).

The following assumes you already have an application with a RESTful endpoint of ‘users’:

GET – This will get all users in our application.

1 curl http://www.mydemoapp.com/users POST – Here we are posting ...

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July 2nd, 2014

In Technology

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Why would a sane programmer use PHP rather than Clojure for a RESTful API?

This question on StackOverflow seems a bit sad:

I did look at both Laravel, Sympfony2 and Codeigniter for this REST Api. They all had some elements I liked and some I disliked. My main concern was how to do the authentication because I had a rather complex algorithm where my users can log in with the apps’ access_token or access_tokens served by Google or Facebook. I also perfer being in complete control of my framework and the frameworks mentioned above had ...

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June 30th, 2014

In Technology

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mongodump and mongorestore

This is a good overview for using mongodump and mongorestore:

Once you’ve taken the backup of a MongoDB database using mongodump, you can restore it using mongorestore command. In case of an disaster where you lost your mongoDB database, you can use this command to restore the database. Or, you can just use this command to restore the database on a different server for testing purpose.

1. Restore All Database without Mongod Instance

If you’ve taken a backup without mongod instance, use this ...

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June 29th, 2014

In Technology

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Waste my screen like it’s 1996

A lot of the screen space here is fixed and does not scroll. Reminds me of frames circa 1996.

Source

June 28th, 2014

In Technology

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A simple regex rule

Don’t ever use this:

.*

instead use this:

.*?

Why? Because the first one is greedy and will almost always match too much.

This is a nice example:

Most people new to regular expressions will attempt to use . They will be surprised when they test it on a string like This is a first test. You might expect the regex to match and when continuing after that match, .

But it does not. The regex will match first. Obviously not what we ...

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June 28th, 2014

In Technology

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Unix and C are the ultimate computer viruses

This is a very good take on “worse is better”. This also bears on the micro-services debate. Simple implementation allowed Unix to become the world’s favorite operating system. Is there redundant code in a Unix distro? Sure, you’ve got a lot of utilities that all have code for reading files. But if, instead of a bunch of small utilities, you tried to build the one ultimate tool that does everything (the monolithic framework) you would never get anything like the ...

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June 27th, 2014

In Business

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E-books are more and more popular

I have a novel I’d like to publish, so e-books are interesting to me. Apparently it is really easy to publish them through Amazon, and Amazon let’s you keep 70% of the money, which seems like a good deal.

The state of the book is in constant danger. The novel is constantly dying, and there is a fear that the publishing industry in general is maybe doomed. But if there’s one sector of the publishing industry that’s alive and well, ...

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June 27th, 2014

In Technology

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The cost of small apps

Micro services become popular:

Though they aren’t a particularly new idea, Microservices seem to have exploded in popularity this year, with articles, conference tracks, and Twitter streams waxing lyrical about the benefits of building software systems in this style.

I previously wrote about my preference for an architecture of small apps. But it is worth noting, this approach has its downside:

Where a monolithic application might have been deployed to a small application server cluster, you now have tens of separate services ...

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June 27th, 2014

In Technology

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Maybe Unicorn works for Ruby

Since I said so many bad things about Unicorn, it is only fair that I also link to this piece that makes Unicorn sound good:

Unicorn was faster than Passenger or Thin with /borat and had the second highest transaction rate for the same. It had the shortest duration of both longest and shortest transaction with /borat as well. It was one of only two that actually finished the /pi test, and did so faster than Thin. Unicorn had the highest ...

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June 27th, 2014

In Business

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Do Catfish viewers get catfished?

This story has an ending that seems a little too good to be true. One has to wonder if the viewers of Catfish are some catfished by the producers?

Let’s pause here and note that Gabby’s family won’t allow her to meet Nev and Max in person, but they’re fine with her signing a release to Skype on camera with MTV? OK.

Gabby doesn’t identify as bisexual or as a lesbian but she admits that her interest in Miranda is not ...

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June 26th, 2014

In Technology

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Regular expressions: greedy and lazy matching

This is a great tutorial on regular expressions:

As you’ve seen, a greedy quantifier will try to match as much as it possibly can and only give back matched characters as needed. Every time the engine greedily consumes one more character (or repeated token in general), it has to remember that it made that choice. It will therefore persist its current state and store it so it can come back to it later in a process we call backtracking. When ...

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June 26th, 2014

In Business

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Jeff Bezos is putting more money into the Washington Post

Interesting:

At the time of the sale to Bezos, Donald Graham, Weymouth’s uncle and the chairman of The Washington Post Company, explained that he and his niece felt unsure of the direction in which to take the paper, or how to reverse years of declining revenues. He had approached Bezos as a buyer, he said, because the billionaire could offer deep pockets, a digital brain, and, between the two, a way forward.

Now a Bezos employee, Weymouth’s task onstage that April day ...

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June 26th, 2014

In Business

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Amazon’s growing power over the publishing industry

Amazon.com started in 1995. At the time, it was a tiny startup. But it now has the power to destroy hundreds of companies that have existed since the 1800s. How is that those venerable firms, with their wealth and connections and political power and their capital, have not been able to build something to compete with Amazon? They have now had 19 years to respond to Amazon, and they have failed to respond for 19 years. Why?

According to book industry ...

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June 26th, 2014

In Philosophy

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What allows a marriage to last?

Interesting:

Gottman wanted to know more about how the masters created that culture of love and intimacy, and how the disasters squashed it. In a follow-up study in 1990, he designed a lab on the University of Washington campus to look like a beautiful bed and breakfast retreat. He invited 130 newlywed couples to spend the day at this retreat and watched them as they did what couples normally do on vacation: cook, clean, listen to music, eat, chat, and hang ...

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June 24th, 2014

In Technology

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Is the FizzBuzz test really hard?

I have been a fan of John Lawrence Aspden for several years now, but this post on FizzBuzz is especially good, both funny and illustrative of what I think is a common work process in Clojure:

;; I decided to use pull it out your ass driven development, where ;; you just pull the answer out of your ass.

;; First bit, print out the numbers from 1 to 100 (range 100) ;-> (0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ...

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June 24th, 2014

In Technology

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ZFS instead of Git

Interesting:

Using ZFS as a replacement of Git for is probably not a good idea, but just to give you a sense of what ZFS supports at the file system level, let me go through a few typical git-like operations:

Creating a repository

Committing or tagging a version

Branching

Pushing and pulling changes from other storage pools, possibly on other machines

Notably missing is support for merging, which ZFS does not have direct support for as far as I’m aware.

Creating a repository

First, let’s create a filesystem ...

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June 24th, 2014

In Technology

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Managing multiple Future objects in PHP

I have previously said negative things about Joe Watkin’s attempts to facillitate using objects and multiple threads in PHP.

However, here is an approach to Futures in PHP that does seem easy and interesting to me:

Managing Multiple Futures

Commonly, you may have many similar tasks you wish to parallelize: instead of compressing one file, you want to compress several files. You can use the FutureIterator class to manage multiple futures, via the convenience function Futures().

$futures = array(); foreach ($files as $file) ...

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June 24th, 2014

In Technology

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Refactoring fat models

I had a job interview at Bookspan.com.

At first I talked to a guy named Tom. I assumed he was the leader of the tech team, so I talked about my wide experience. He seemed confused by my recent experience with Ruby. He asked if I was a serious PHP programmer? I said a few negative things about PHP, since most corporations are now pulling away from it. PHP is going out of fashion (as you can see in this ...

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June 24th, 2014

In Technology

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Eventual consistency is probably the only consistency that one can hope for using Javascript and WebSockets

On the one hand, I am very impressed with this article: Eventual Consistency in Real-time Web Apps. On the other hand, how can anyone keep up with what is best practice in the land of Javascript, when every week seems to bring a new framework or methodology?

Having said that, I’ll point out that there is no way to ensure a 1-to-1 match between one’s backend model and one’s front-end model, so all one can do is pick one to ...

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June 24th, 2014

In Philosophy

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The emergence of the jaw, in the late Cambrian, was one of the big breakthroughs for life on earth

Interesting:

Fossilized fish specimens from the Canadian Rockies, known as Metaspriggina, dates from the Cambrian period (around 505 million years ago), shows pairs of exceptionally well-preserved arches near the front of its body. The first of these pairs, closest to the head, eventually led to the evolution of jaws in vertebrates, the first time this feature has been seen so early in the fossil record.

Fish fossils from the Cambrian period are very rare and usually poorly preserved. This new discovery ...

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June 24th, 2014

In Technology

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PHP-FPM with Nginx

I already linked to this, but I will link again because, seriously, this is one of the best setup tutorials I’ve seen:

One of the greatest strengths of PHP-FPM is its ability to scale its worker processes up and down as load on the server increases. PHP-FPM can have several “pools” of PHP handlers: one for each different Web application, with different numbers of worker processes and different rules about when to add more processes or kill idle processes.

Our needs ...

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June 24th, 2014

In Business

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Growing discontent with Google?

Google has certainly lost a great deal of the goodwill it once held.

Basically we all knew Google was a company so we shouldn’t be surprised that they went funny. But the change hurt. A company that had previously offered services for the good of their users now started shearing their customers like sheep. I won’t say they fleeced us exactly, because they never exacted any money from us directly, but they started selling us to their advertisers. Someone said, ...

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June 24th, 2014

In Business

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The declining power of the search engines?

Interesting graph:

Source

June 24th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Ellen Chisa on gender and technology

This is interesting:

I was vehemently against the Society of Women in Engineering (SWE). I thought anything that called attention to being female hurt me. That it would make people think I’d gotten my role for being “female” instead of for being excellent. I felt degraded. I felt like “those women” were making me less likely to succeed. They couldn’t compete on excellence, so they made shit up about how the playing field wasn’t level. They just weren’t good enough. Other ...

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June 24th, 2014

In Technology

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Docker is the future

Something like Docker is probably the future. Clearly, virtual machines is becoming a popular way to manage dependencies. However, Docker still has problems:

Misconception: If I use Docker then I don’t need a configuration management (CM) tool!

This is partially true. You may not need the configuration management as much for your servers with Docker, but you absolutely need an orchestration tool in order to provision, deploy, and manage your servers with Docker running on them.

This is where a tool like ...

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June 23rd, 2014

In Business

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The impact of online advertising can not be measured

Interesting:

It isn’t easy, of course. In 2013, Randall Lewis of Google and Justin Rao of Microsoft released the paper “On the Near Impossibility of Measuring the Returns on Advertising.” In it, they analyzed the results of 25 different field experiments involving digital ad campaigns, most of which reached more than 1 million unique viewers. The gist: Consumer behavior is so erratic that even in a giant, careful trial, it’s devilishly difficult to arrive at a useful conclusion about whether ...

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June 18th, 2014

In Business

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Startups are luck

Interesting:

The pivot used to be the exception. For example, a company starts out selling PEZ dispensers online and later pivots to become eBay. You didn’t hear about all of the companies that failed so the pivot stories probably sounded more prevalent than they were. It’s similar to how a story of one shark attack makes you think there’s a Great White under every surfboard. The human brain assumes that whatever it hears most frequently must be the best reflection of ...

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June 17th, 2014

In Business

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The evil of innovation

Interesting:

The idea of progress—the notion that human history is the history of human betterment—dominated the world view of the West between the Enlightenment and the First World War. It had critics from the start, and, in the last century, even people who cherish the idea of progress, and point to improvements like the eradication of contagious diseases and the education of girls, have been hard-pressed to hold on to it while reckoning with two World Wars, the Holocaust and Hiroshima, ...

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June 17th, 2014

In Technology

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Emacs struggles to get a good package manager

Kind of pathetic that the world’s best text editor only got package-support in 2012:

GNU Emacs 24 (released in June 2012) introduced official support for packages, that is, a way of installing extensions from a remote repository. This was a huge step forward for Emacs, as it not only allowed users to easily find and install extensions, but it also made it possible for extensions to build upon other extensions without having to tell the user “great you want to install ...

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June 16th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Breaking into your boyfriend’s email to find if he is cheating on you

This is from Slashdot, from perhaps 2002 or 2003. I tried to find this using Google, but Google failed me:

Posted by CmdrTaco From the it-happened-again dept. SyD writes: “Apparently there is a major security hole on Hotmail that could allow crackers to read your e-mail. A hacking group known as root core discovered the hole and reported it to Microsoft.“

This isn’t the first time that the folks who are gonna give us a internet wide universal login system had a hole. ...

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June 13th, 2014

In Business

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Internet advertising is a bad idea

Interesting:

Internet advertising has been the fastest growing advertising channel in recent years with paid search ads comprising the bulk of this revenue. We present results from a series of large scale field experiments done at eBay that were designed to measure the causal effectiveness of paid search ads. Because search clicks and purchase behavior are correlated, we show that returns from paid search are a fraction of conventional non-experimental estimates. As an extreme case, we show that brand-keyword ads ...

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June 13th, 2014

In Business

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The madness of being an entrepreneur

Interesting:

In logarithmic domains, two mindsets are important. In the beginning, high-growth phase, the emphasis needs to be on maintaining long-term habits. Since growth is fast initially, care needs to be taken so that it won’t slide back down once effort is removed. In the later, low-growth phase, the emphasis needs to be on habit breaking. Since low-growth is often caused by calcifying routines, deliberate effort needs to be taken to break out of that comfort zone. In exponential domains, the mindset ...

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June 10th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Tumour necrosis factors have not changed in 550 million years

Interesting:

There are many ways of triggering apoptosis, and one route involves two large groups of proteins: the tumour necrosis factors (TNFs), and the receptors that they stick to. When they meet, they set off a chain reaction inside the cell. A large network of proteins is recruited, united, and activated, until the cell eventually dies. Think of TNF as a key twisting in the lock of a door, triggering a Rube-Goldberg machine that ends with the entire room catching fire.

Now, ...

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June 9th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Fasting helps bring back your stem cells

Fascinating article:

In both mice and a Phase 1 human clinical trial, long periods of not eating significantly lowered white blood cell counts. In mice, fasting cycles then “flipped a regenerative switch,” changing the signaling pathways for hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for the generation of blood and immune systems, the research showed.

The study has major implications for healthier aging, in which immune system decline contributes to increased susceptibility to disease as people age. By outlining how prolonged fasting cycles ...

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June 7th, 2014

In Business

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The privacy crimes of Google+

Interesting:

Google began its “real name” enforcement with mass Google+ account suspensions and deletions shortly after Google+ launched in July 2011. The whole mess is called Nymwars.

Ex-Google employees were deleted. Writers, musicians, programmers and more were deleted. Editing your name raised suspicion and still risks getting you flagged.

Google+ remained silent while Nymwars raged through the headlines — until it told press it would allow “alternate names” — which was incorrectly reported (at first) as if Google had begin to allow ...

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June 3rd, 2014

In Technology

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The strange way my memory works

I was at a job interview today and I said “Do you remember that essay that James Garret wrote in 2004, in which he coined the acronym ‘AJAX’ “?

Feeling uncertain about what I said, when I got home I decided to check my facts, and found that his name is actually “Jesse James Garrett“.

I find it strange that my memory would hang onto his middle name rather than his first name.

I am also surprised that the term “AJAX” ...

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June 3rd, 2014

In Business

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The one remaining strength of publishing is its prestige

This essay is a bit harsh on the publishers, and it also ignores the fact that the publishers are responding rationally to the one strength they still have:

This is the true tragedy of modern “publishers”: that as the world has become able to do the job that once only they could do, they’ve not stepped graciously aside, but devoted their energies to preventing works being available. The publishers’ outdated business model forces them to act in a way directly opposed ...

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June 3rd, 2014

In Philosophy

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800 dead babies in Ireland

Years ago, the Irish government apologized for the horrific sexual torture and human rights abuses that were inflicted on Irish girls who were considered wayward, and some monetary damages have been paid to surviving victims, but so far the Catholic Church has not fully apologized for the atrocities that were committed in institutions which it was running. In case anyone might forget how extensive the neglect and abuse was, here is a reminder:

Police are investigating the discovery of 800 ...

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June 1st, 2014

In Technology

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Avoid overcrowding your web server with too many unneeded processes

This is some very good advice (I’ve been thinking of using Arch Linux for future projects, as I understand it is an extremely minimalist Linux):

Avoid overcrowding your web server with too many unneeded processes. For example, if your server is purely for web serving, avoid running (or even installing) X-Windows on the machine. On Windows, avoid running Microsoft Find Fast (part of Office) and 3-dimensional screen savers that result in 100% CPU utilization.

Some of the programs that you can consider ...

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June 1st, 2014

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Using Apache Flood to test websites

I only just learned about Flood. In the past I used ab, which is a severely limited tool, in that it only sends HEAD requests. What I have often wanted is a tool that was as simple as ab, but which could send parameters, make a GET request, and give me more feedback than CURL. The XML config for flood suggests it is nowhere as easy to use as ab, but it still looks fairly simple and it looks like ...

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June 1st, 2014

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How does PHP work

I like this graph about PHP execution. The white boxes show how things worked as long ago as PHP4 and the gray boxes show all the new and optional stuff:

Source

June 1st, 2014

In Technology

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PHP and Squid

This is interesting:

Perhaps the most significant change to PHP performance I have experienced since I first wrote this article is my use of Squid, a web accelerator that is able to take over the management of all static http files from Apache. You may be surprised to find that the overhead of using Apache to serve both dynamic PHP and static images, javascript, css, html is extremely high. From my experience, 40-50% of our Apache CPU utilisation is in ...

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June 1st, 2014

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Threads in a Unix process

While doing research for the post I just wrote about Joe Watkins and threads in PHP, I came across this graphic, which I thought did a nice job of showing threads in a Unix process:

Source

June 1st, 2014

In Technology

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Setup is hard, and it wastes an extraordinary amount of developer time

I was just looking at this article, PHP with PHP-FPM, and it brought back memories of Timeout.com. All of the developers who worked at Timeout eventually had to set up the company CMS, and this was something of a hazing process, in that every developer later remembered the experience with dread. The CMS was a massive Symfony project — without question, the largest PHP code base I have encountered in 14 years of working with PHP. I’ll give you a ...

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May 31st, 2014

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Using Xdebug to profile PHP

Interesting overview of using Xdebug:

I’ve sorted the execution time of each call in order to determine which calls are the most expensive. The call to the Default_Model_Platform model’s hot() method ranks up towards the top, and because I know this data changes only every few hours, now I can safely cache it and thereby eliminate this expensive database query (which is indeed a fairly large JOIN operation). After implementing caching I again profile the page and indeed have eliminated that ...

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May 31st, 2014

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Do not ever use MemCache

6 tips about PHP performance:

#1. Upgrade Your PHP Distribution

#2. Use a Profiler

#3. Tone Down Error Reporting

#4. Take Advantage of PHP’s Native Extensions

#5. Use a PHP Accelerator

#6. Avoid Expensive Operations Through Memory Caching

Missing from the list is “Ask yourself if PHP is the correct language for what you are trying to do.” I think of this especially in regard to the 6th tip, about memory caching. If you start using something like MemCache, then you ...

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May 31st, 2014

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Why Joe Watkins is wrong about pthreads in PHP

Over at Reddit Joe Watkins wrote about pthreads in PHP.

Someone asks:

Is there a facility to use thread-local storage?

and Joe Watkins replies:

The static scope of a class entry can be considered thread local, in a way. Complex members (objects and resources) are nullified when creating new threads, but simple members (arrays/strings/numbers/mixture of any of the above) are copied, so in the static scope can be class::$config which contains connection info to whatever and class::$connection can be the connection itself, ...

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May 31st, 2014

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In PHP, the foreach() loop is a performance murderer

I didn’t know this:

Source

May 31st, 2014

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Building a recommendation engine for one’s customers

This is a great overview of building a prediction engine. Some of the math is over my head. Of these approaches, the only one I have the slightest familiarity with is cosine similarity.

Source

May 31st, 2014

In Philosophy

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Math education in the USA

Very interesting post about math education:

When did we brainwash kids into thinking that math was about getting an answer? My students truly believe for some reason that math is about combining whatever numbers you can in whatever method that seems about right to get one “answer” and then call it a day. They rarely think about what they are doing as long as at the end of the day their answer is “correct”. Today they were ...

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May 20th, 2014

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Who is responsible for dinner?

I like cooking large dinners for friends. I used to do a breakfast, once a month, at my apartment where I would simply invite everyone I knew in New York City, and I would feed whoever showed up. People are busy so I never got more than 15 people at my place, but I was always glad for whoever showed up. I have fond memories of the conversations. If someone else cooks dinner, I would have to be asked to ...

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May 20th, 2014

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How should we handle unlimited leisure?

Interesting:

To Keynes, the coming age of abundance, while welcome, would pose a new and in some ways even bigger challenge. With so little need for labor, people would have to figure out what to do with themselves: “For the first time since his creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem—how to use his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure, which science and compound interest will have won.” The example offered by the ...

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May 20th, 2014

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What a dictionary is for

This is good:

Noah Webster is not the best-known of the Founding Fathers but he has been called “the father of American scholarship and education.” There’s actually this great history of how he almost singlehandedly invented the very idea of American English, defining the native tongue of the new republic, “rescuing” it from “the clamour of pedantry” imposed by the Brits.

He developed a book, the Blue Backed Speller, which was meant to be something of a complete linguistic education for young ...

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May 19th, 2014

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Wall Street as the low-risk option for recent elite graduates

Interesting:

EK: This seems really at odd with finance’s vision of itself as a world of capitalist cowboys.

KR: We think of Wall Street as being full of these crazy risk takers. But in a lot of schools it’s these scared organization kids going to Wall Street. One thing Wall Street does that’s really smart is they actually tell you way earlier than other industries if you got a job. They’ll let you lock the job down in the fall of ...

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May 12th, 2014

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Media people are petty

Interesting and sad and hypocritical:

It appears that Violet Blue’s works were systematically removed from Boing Boing’s archives. This was no mistake. So while BB would seem to be a great symbol of the blog revolution—that dreamy ideal of everyone in the world freely expressing themselves to all, with no corporate filter—they’re also just another in an endless line of quirky media startups that found success, and then started acting just like the big establishment players to which they were ...

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May 12th, 2014

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The USA medical system needs to be more aggressive in treating pain

Interesting:

In those not-so-old days when Jeffrey was born, as a preemie, many doctors mistakenly believed that babies’ nervous systems were too immature to process pain and that, therefore, babies didn’t feel pain at all. Or, doctors rationalized, if babies did somehow feel pain, it was no big deal because they probably wouldn’t remember it. Besides, since nobody knew for sure how dangerous anesthesia drugs might be in tiny babies, doctors figured that if surgery was necessary to save ...

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May 12th, 2014

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Bro culture on a rampage

This essay argues that the rise of bro culture is a panic response to the rise of gay culture:

The repressive, hypermasculine bro that stalks your local watering hole and pisses in the street is a modern, anxious manifestation of homosexual panic, an allergic reaction to the mainstreaming of gay culture (and, by extension, a loss of cultural power and sexual stability). The modern definition of manhood came about in strict domination over the feminine, both sexually and behaviorally. “Male-male relations ...

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May 11th, 2014

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Diversity is bad for teams

This strikes me as trade-off between short-term and long-term benefits. We can say that the biosphere of the earth is diverse, and that is good, so when the dinosaurs went extinct the mammals were ready to step in and run things. And we often do say that competition in the economy is good, such that when one company goes bankrupt, another company, with a different approach, is ready to step in. So in what sense can we say that diversity ...

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May 11th, 2014

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Advertising is bad for business

Interesting:

Firms almost never have enough data to justify their belief that ads work:

Classical theories assume the firm has access to reliable signals to measure the causal impact of choice variables on profit. For advertising expenditure we show, using twenty-five online field experiments with major U.S. retailers and brokerages ($2.8 million expenditure), that this assumption typically does not hold. Evidence from the randomized trials is very weak because individual-level sales are incredibly volatile relative to the per capita cost of a ...

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May 9th, 2014

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Ellen Page and the relationship of Hollywood to its romantic leads

I assume that coming out is getting easier as more people do it, but Ellen Page emphasizes that it is still hard and it still has a big, negative impact on one’s career:

Page has made just two public appearances since her announcement — presenting an award to transgender Orange Is the New Black star Laverne Cox at the GLAAD Media Awards on April 12 and introducing an X-Men clip at the MTV Movie Awards the following night. Shooting a ...

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May 9th, 2014

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Comic books with super heroes continue to fade but not die

Comic books with superheroes, as a genre, peaked in the 1940s and have since declined. When I was a kid in the 1970s, comic books were very uncool (you did not want other kids at school knowing that you read them) but you could still get them at any convenience or bookstore that sold magazines. This was an era when Marvel comics cut the writers and artists in on a percentage, and so John Bryne and Chris Claremont got fairly ...

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May 8th, 2014

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Why Facebook will fail

Facebook is very young to find itself in the position where it has to buy innovation from the outside (Instagram, Occulus VR). It fails to deliver the key parts of its own ad infrastructure. It is behaving like an old behemoth that has lost touch with the market, like IBM in 1991, or Sun MicroSystems in 2007. And yet, its CEO is young, and the company is young, so what is the problem? How could it lose touch with ...

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May 8th, 2014

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Can programmers indulge anarchy?

Interesting:

When does it work well?

It works well when the manager is absent or fully trusting the team. One of the main selling point of Fred Anarchy was the lack of managers in the picture. Well, some sort of business owner, idea creator still needs to be present. That person needs to fully trust the team, ideally needs to be an ex-developer. I never seen in my life a manager without a past in developing software that can trust and understand ...

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May 8th, 2014

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The end of Twitter

Interesting:

The publishing platform that carried us into the mobile Internet age is receding. Its influence on publishing will remain, but the platform’s place in Internet culture is changing in a way that feels irreversible and echoes the tradition of AIM and pre-2005 blogging. A lot of this argument comes down to what we feel. Communities can’t be fully measured by how many people are in them. So as we suss out cultural changes, relying on first-hand experience is a first ...

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May 4th, 2014

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Mainstream economics needs an overhaul?

I am surprised that there is no mention of agent-based simulations. That, in my mind, is the big transition that we now face.

Common reform themes

Common themes in the debate at that earlier stage were the need for students to have:

More exposure to economic history and the history of thought;

More practical hands-on experience with data;

Better teaching of communication skills; and

Some exposure to new developments in economic research.

Overall the thrust was for a less narrow and reductive approach to economics than ...

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May 4th, 2014

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Are there any new ideas?

It’s possible that there have been no new ideas during the Great Stagnation, but it is worth noting that some ideas, such as agent based simulations, have made some progress.

The big ideas: The deluge of changes that shook Europe around 1800 — the making of the modern world — brought with them an explosion of big new ideas, new ways of framing the social, historical, and natural world which we inhabit. Darwin, Freud, Marx, Walras, Carnot, Poincaré, Einstein — each ...

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May 4th, 2014

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The further rise of polyglot programming

Interesting:

Almost every language shows a long-term downhill trend. With the exception of Java and (recently) CSS, all of these languages have been decreasing. This was a bit of a puzzler and made me wonder more about the fragmentation of languages over time, which I’ll explore later in this post as well as future posts. My initial guess is that users of languages below the top 12 are growing in share to counterbalance the decreases here. It’s also possible that ...

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May 4th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Young blood reverses aging in old mice

This is an interesting study:

Two teams of scientists published studies on Sunday showing that blood from young mice reverses aging in old mice, rejuvenating their muscles and brains. As ghoulish as the research may sound, experts said that it could lead to treatments for disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.

“I am extremely excited,” said Rudolph Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, who was not involved in the research. “These findings could be a game changer.”

The ...

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May 4th, 2014

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Is it bad for an online writer to know how much traffic their posts get?

Interesting:

What’s more, The Verge is not alone in this practice. Re/code, a tech site run by Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, the longtime Wall Street Journal tech columnist, also won’t share traffic stats with writers. MIT Technology Review holds numbers back too.

“We used to show the writers and editors traffic, and told them to grow it; but it had the wrong effect. So we stopped,“ says Jason Pontin, CEO, editor in chief and publisher of MIT Technology Review. ”The ...

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May 3rd, 2014

In Philosophy

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The culture that is Japanese

Of course when girls take off their underwear, the underwear then transforms into a weapon that the girls can use to kill demons. Can you think of anything more Japanese than that?

Source

May 3rd, 2014

In Business

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Site promotes computer programming and stripping?

Disturbing:

At a time when Silicon Valley is facing increasing scrutiny over the treatment of women in technology, there emerges a website called Codebabes.com that, as you may have already heard, involves women stripping as you learn to code and pass online tests. Seriously.

People have tried it and posted their results.

To which I have to say only this: What in the actual f@ck?

The site is so over-the-top about its soft-core “edu-tainment” offerings that some press outlets have even speculated that ...

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May 2nd, 2014

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Design by contract in Clojure

I posted a comment here:

I have gotten in the habit of doing 2 things: 1.) I used :pre and :post conditions as you are doing here 2.) I also use dire so when the :pre or :post conditions fail and an Assert exception is thrown, I can capture the arguments and the return value and write a meaningful error message:

https://github.com/MichaelDrogalis/dire

I do a lot of this: :post [(:discount %)] I also test for value ranges: :post [ (> (:totals %) 100) (< (:totals %) 1000) ] I am thinking I might ...

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May 2nd, 2014

In Philosophy

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What do you do, Mr. Gable?

Interesting:

He was so naive about the industry that he entertained hopes he would be writing for the famous movie star Mickey Mouse. But the folks at Metro informed him, No, Mickey lives at another studio out in the Valley—we want you for a Wallace Beery picture. “Who’s he?” Faulkner asked. The more he learned, the more frightened he became. “The truth is that I was scared,” Faulkner disclosed in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. “I was scared ...

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May 2nd, 2014

In Philosophy

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Piketty

Interesting:

With his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Piketty has lobbed a truth bomb that has blown up several decades’ worth of received opinion about the way the economy works in capitalist societies. He makes a powerful, meticulously-argued, data-driven case that inequality is a feature of capitalist economies, not a bug. Let to its own devices, wealth tends to become highly concentrated. The only events likely to prevent our society from plunging into a dystopian spiral of inequity are, ...

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May 2nd, 2014

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Teens are going crazy for the Snapchat upgrade

This is why you should not spend money on marketing: all of your money should go to improving the product till it reaches the point that your customers are in love with you. The overwhelming majority of money spent on marketing is wasted. The money would be better spent making your product better. The response that Snapchat got is the response every company should strive for.

The level of interest app-makers can command for adding new features is usually limited ...

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May 2nd, 2014

In Philosophy

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Uptalk among men

Interesting:

This process is known as “uptalk” or “valleygirl speak” and has in the past been associated with young females, typically from California or Australia.

But now a team says that this way of speaking is becoming more frequent among men.

The findings were presented at the Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America in California.

“We found use of uptalk in all of our speakers, despite their diverse backgrounds in socioeconomic status, ethnicity, bilingualism and gender,” said Amanda Ritchart, a linguist at ...

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April 28th, 2014

In Philosophy

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39% survival rate for this guy’s kids

This is a lot of dead children:

In 1832, he married Varvara Alexeyevna Moiseyeva. They had a large number of children (eighteen according to his son’s memoirs, while only seven apparently survived into adulthood).

Source

April 26th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Drowning: the game of life

I like how this game is so simple.

Source

April 25th, 2014

In Business

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Does anyone know what is happening with Corrante?

The Corrante site is mostly dead, and has been dead since 2007, and yet a small part of the site is still active.

Of the first 3 links, 2 go to blank white screens. The URLs seem to suggest the posts are from 2006 and 2007. For instance:

http://totalexperience.corante.com/archives/2007/04/04/disrobing_the_emperor_the_online_user_experience_isnt_much_of_one.php

I see a blank white page, and the URL suggests that the article is from 2007. The blog actually died in 2010:

http://totalexperience.corante.com/

This link is alive, but it goes to 2007:

http://pipeline.corante.com/archives/2007/07/10/travels_in_numerica_deserta.php

and yet this an ...

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April 25th, 2014

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Nokia ends an era

Sad, and like the end of any large firm, very confusing. Why were they unable compete with Apple? Why did they do so well for so long, and then suddenly they could not?

On April 25, that Nokia ceases to exist, and in its place are two companies that officially have nothing to do with each other: Microsoft Mobile Oy (where the heart of the company will go) and Nokia Oyj (where I will be).

Tomorrow I will still be an employee ...

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April 25th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Urban male hipsters love old men and Ruby programming

I was thinking about Ruby On Rails and male hipsters and wondering if there was a cultural affinity that brought male hipsters to Ruby in particular (out of all the possible computer programming languages). I decided there was. I notice a lot of male hipsters are into the idea of the old master, the old man who is great at some skill: A great tailor, a great leather worker, a great wood carver, a great painter, a great sculptor, etc. ...

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April 24th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Women’s reactions to behavior in the tech industry

This is very long, but its an interesting group of responses from the women:

When I was a grad student at Princeton in CS, before CS nerds ran most of the women out, I was leading a study session for some younger grad students when I saw some amazing international sexism on display. A woman, who would later have a pretty good position at Google, was explaining a homework problem about which there was some controversy. Every guy in the room, ...

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April 21st, 2014

In Technology

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What is the correct way to handle errors when making HTTP calls?

I like this:

I wanted a simpler solution that:

treated exceptions as exceptions was general enough to leverage `clj-http` exception gave informative error messages in the right place A quick side note on exceptions vs happy paths everywhere. Some will say a bad response isn’t an exception, but is something to be expected. I agree. This is something that should be handled at the app level though, and not the library level – if I get a 401 as an end user I expect to ...

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April 21st, 2014

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The problem with frameworks

This is funny:

Let’s pretend I’ve decided to build a spice rack.

I’ve done small woodworking projects before, and I think I have a pretty good idea of what I need: some wood and a few basic tools: a tape measure, a saw, a level, and a hammer.

If I were going to build a whole house, rather than just a spice rack, I’d still need a tape measure, a saw, a level, and a hammer (among other things).

So I go to ...

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April 21st, 2014

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The system at Twitter

This looks like a great talk about the system at Twitter:

Late 2012 architecture Many open source components Memcache, redis, MySQL, etc. Necessarily heterogeneous Organized around services Distinct responsibilities Isolated from each other Distributed computation and data RPC between systems Multiplexing HTTP frontend Crucial for modularity, load balancing

Programming the datacenter Concerns include Partial failures Deep memory hierarchies Split heaps Dynamic topologies Changes in variance, latency tails Heterogeneous components Operator errors Taming the resulting complexity is the central theme of our work.

Source

April 21st, 2014

In Philosophy

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The decline of teen births

I am very curious what drove the surge in teen births in the late 80s.

Source

April 21st, 2014

In Technology

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Clojure versus Erlang

WhatsApp was recently bought by Facebook, for $19 billion. This is the first time a startup had a big success, using Erlang as the basis for all of its technology.

The most stable commercial computing device in history is a telephone switch developed at Ericson and built with Erlang. It can handle millions of simultaneous connections, it has 1.7 million lines of code, and it averages 1 hour of downtime every 20 years.

The one language I would like to learn, other ...

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April 21st, 2014

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Fast setup with Vagrant and Ruby 2.0

This is a good overview:

How to do it:

download and install Vagrant – I use version 1.2.7 You can check that with:

vagrant -v

You should see:

Vagrant version 1.2.7

create a folder for your Rails application and go to it

mkdir rorapp cd rorapp

initialize your Vagrant machine

vagrant init precise32 http://files.vagrantup.com/precise32.box

This is your virtual machine (server) that will hold and run your Rails application. If you check now, Vagrant created a config file in your rorapp folder, called Vagrantfile. You’ll change that a little on next step. make ...

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April 21st, 2014

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Formal proofs for software: prove small theorems, not grand ones

Interesting:

For “you can’t prove anything big enough to be useful!”, consider the Quark project:

http://goto.ucsd.edu/quark/

showed you don’t need to prove a program of interesting size. You can defend millions of lines of buggy code with a “software firewall” made of formally verified code. Verify the right thousand lines of code that the rest needs to use to talk to anything else, and you have very strong security properties for the rest of the code. seL4 and CompCert are clearly also quite useful programs.

… I don’t think the technology ...

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April 21st, 2014

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The meta view on underinvestment in early stage female-lead startups

Interesting:

There’s a vast amount of value waiting to be unlocked in Silicon Valley, and it’s not hiding under the Tahoe hills in veins of silver like the Comstock lode. Today’s new billions are no longer dug out of the ground, they’re realized by viewing the world in a different way; seeing things differently to other people and capitalizing on opportunity by investing ahead of the curve. That’s how money is made in Silicon Valley. Strange, then, in a world ...

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April 21st, 2014

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Free markets, with a gun to your head

Despite considerable rhetoric about “free markets” the USA tends to allow anti-competitive combinations of corporations, while taking violent action against any combination of workers.

The miners at first thought the Guard was sent to protect them, and greeted its arrival with flags and cheers. They soon found out the Guard was there to destroy the strike. The Guard brought strikebreakers in under cover of night, not telling them there was a strike. Guardsmen beat miners, arrested them by the hundreds, ...

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April 18th, 2014

In Technology

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Kill your process and restart it is still a popular hack in Ruby land

I find it surprising that this is still accepted as best practice in the Ruby community:

But it’s not all bad news. The Ruby core developers are aware of the problem, and there are some changes (3GenGC, oldgen space estimation) being tested which may bring relief. But right now, for users of Ruby 2.1, this is a very real problem that could easily affect you in production. What did we do? We used a combination of Unicorn::OobGC and unicorn-worker-killer to help tame ...

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April 18th, 2014

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Vagrant is easy

This page offers a simple explanation of how to start using Vagrant:

Getting Vagrant started

Before you can run vagrant, you’ll need to download and install a few things:

The Vagrant tool – This is the actual vagrant tool itself. It manages virtual machines Virtualbox – Virtualbox is the virtual machine where your code will run If you have an app that already has a Vagrantfile in it, it’s very easy to get started. At the command line change into the folder with the ...

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April 18th, 2014

In Philosophy

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The Healthy Hazda do not have the “healthy” bacteria in their gut

Interesting:

Researchers have known for decades that the biota in our gut vary depending on what we eat. But the Hadza microbiome still turned out to be surprisingly different.

To study the difference between the ancient and modern gut, researchers analyzed stool samples from 16 Italian urbanites and 27 Hadza foragers, of both genders.

The Italians’ gut flora was generally what they expected in Western diets, with some Mediterranean influences. The Hadza’s poop, however, was like stepping into a lost continent of microbe ...

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April 18th, 2014

In Technology

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What is devops?

A devop is like a sysadmin, so why do we need a new word? Because of the new emphasis on automation:

A DevOps person isn’t someone who develops, and who does Ops. It’s someone who does only Ops, but through Development.

The last time I looked for a senior sysadmin — less than a year ago — I didn’t get anyone who was comfortable programming in Perl/Python/Ruby until I started using the term DevOps.

There are companies where the developers are ...

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April 12th, 2014

In Business

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This is why the news media is dying: global online ad revenue for content sites is maybe $25 billion

Interesting:

It’s worth noting that this ~$40B is just for broadcast TV ads. This excludes cable TV ads (~$30B) and subscription TV fees (~$80B). There is an ongoing non-zero sum shift in attention and dollars to online, but TV is far from dead.

Combine that with “Google Controls 44 Percent Of Global Online Advertising“.

That leaves maybe $25 billion for every content site in the world. Pathetic.

Source

April 10th, 2014

In Business

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Blogosphere 2.0?

I have already mentioned that, like Chris Bertram, I am nostalgic for the early blogosphere, which died out somewhere between 2005 and 2010. I think the world lost something important then. But perhaps there is Blogosphere 2.0 taking shape around the new mega-sites?

4. Wonkery creates astonishing loyalty. In an age where Facebook is everybody’s homepage, consumers of news have never been more promiscuous in their reading affections. They go wherever they’re sent; no one treats websites like they would a ...

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April 10th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Hacker School bans competitive feigned surprise regarding your ignorance

This is great:

If you have ability and a strong work ethic, people will notice. You will learn a lot from their reaction. If they react by treating with you with respect, they have strong character. If they react by taking every opportunity to belittle and undermine you, they perceive you as a threat to them. If you aren’t prone to petty jealousy and spiteful thinking, it will be difficult to empathize with people who are. Sadly, you must handle these ...

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April 10th, 2014

In Business

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The fight against healthcare: almost awesome in its evilness

Very sad:

Gruber: “…I’m offended on two levels here. I’m offended because I believe we can help poor people get health insurance, but I’m almost more offended there’s a principle of political economy that basically, if you’d told me, when the Supreme Court decision came down, I said, ‘It’s not a big deal. What state would turn down free money from the federal government to cover their poorest citizens?’ The fact that half the states are is such a massive rejection of ...

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April 9th, 2014

In Business

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Rage against Facebook

Facebook hate.

I was late to join Facebook and I was early to quit. I think I joined in 2009 or early 2010, and then I quit in late 2011. I have been a huge skeptic of social media, though this month I have become a fan of Twitter.

The rage in the comments is interesting:

Lady Di:

I started noticing how bad I felt after logging into FB a few years ago… Yes it is a time suck. And everyone is ...

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April 8th, 2014

In Technology

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Forked processes, concurrency, and memory problems

Last week I expressed my doubts about Unicorn (and the idea that it uses processes, therefore it uses Unix, therefore it must be good). Here is another article that looks at Unicorn, and in particular the memory consumption that goes along with forked processes:

Unicorn uses forked processes to achieve concurrency. Since forked processes are essentially copies of each other, this means that the Rails application need not be thread safe.

This is great because it is difficult to ensure that ...

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April 8th, 2014

In Business

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Change fails most of the time

Interesting:

Consider the following scenario: The leadership at Company X announces a partial restructuring that will consolidate two levels of management, effectively demoting all Senior Managers to the position of Manager. The change management team sets to work: it identifies sponsors; conducts a change readiness assessment; develops and executes a change management plan that dedicates resources and time to manage communications, training, coaching, and resistance; and supports the project team through the roll out of the new org. chart by training ...

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April 7th, 2014

In Business

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Is college needed for tech?

Interesting:

Ms. Glen, in a statement, called the tech industry “our pipeline to the middle class” and added, “It’s our job to develop the work force these fast-growing companies need so people from our schools and our neighborhoods have a real shot at these good-paying jobs.”

At least one other city official appears to share that view: The report was managed by Carl Weisbrod before he left HR&A, a real estate consulting firm, to accept Mr. de Blasio’s appointment as chairman of ...

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April 7th, 2014

In Business

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Cost overruns and the IBM 360

These are some serious cost overruns. $40 million is the estimate, $500 million is the final cost. And $5 billion for the overall 360 development. Consider that all Apollo missions from 1960 to 1975 collectively costs $25 billion, and no one trip to the moon cost anything like $5 billion.

IBM built its own circuits for S/360, Solid Logic Technology (SLT) – a set of transistors and diodes mounted on a circuit twenty-eight-thousandths of a square inch and protected by ...

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April 7th, 2014

In Business

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Women moved into the work force from 1930s to 1970s

This is a big surprise:

The participation rate for women increased significantly from the mid 30s to the mid 70s and then flattened out.

And the chart shows no post-war decline:

There is the big question, what changed during the time 1930 to 1980, and why did it stop?

Women have always worked, though on the farm much of that work escaped any measurement that the government or historians have at their disposal. It’s likely the decline of farms drove some of ...

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April 7th, 2014

In Technology

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Yahoo has some very stupid programmers

Good lord, why is this developer at Yahoo so slow on the uptake?

Thank you for your submission to Yahoo! Unfortunately we are unable to reproduce the bug due to insufficient information. Please provide us with a proof of concept or any other additional evidence required to reproduce the issue.

** The attacker would have to know the invitation id correct?

One has the sense that the person reporting the bug is shocked by the lack of concern shown by Yahoo:

d4d1a179c0f3 changed ...

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April 7th, 2014

In Technology

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The Clojure workflow still suffers and the REPL is not a cure all

Stuff like this happens to me:

Here is a scenario that you might recognize. You’ve done a pretty substantial refactor, including new dependencies in project.clj. You need to bounce the REPL. Knowing that this will take forever you immediately switch to Prismatic. 15 minutes later you look at your Emacs again where you notice that there is a syntax error so the REPL didn’t launch. You parse the impossibly long stack trace and fix the bug. cider-jack-in again and switch back ...

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April 6th, 2014

In Business

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People can rationalize any amount of greed: tech industry collusion

Incredible and sickening:

In the meantime, one the most interesting misconceptions I’ve heard about the ‘Techtopus‘ conspiracy is that, while these secret deals to fix recruiting were bad (and illegal), they were also needed to protect innovation by keeping teams together while avoiding spiraling costs.

That was said to me, almost verbatim, over dinner by an industry insider, who quickly understood he’d said something wrong— “But of course, it’s illegal, so it’s wrong,” he corrected himself.

The view that whatever Jobs and Google ...

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April 6th, 2014

In Technology

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Behavior driven development is broken

This is very good:

If it takes you ten lines to communicate the idea of adding subpages, then you’ve wasted my time. I’m not alone in thinking this. BDD expert Elizabeth Keogh tells us:

“If your scenario starts with ‘When the user enters ‘Smurf’ into ‘Search’ text box…’ then that’s far too low-level. However, even “When the user adds ‘Smurf’ to his basket, then goes to the checkout, then pays for the goods” is also too low-level. You’re looking for something ...

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April 6th, 2014

In Philosophy

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You don’t have to run faster than the bear

You just need to run faster than the guy next to you.

Source

April 6th, 2014

In Business

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It’s like – I don’t know

There is a large gap between spoken and written language, in particular, spoken language has an abundance of half sentences that never finish. Most quotes in newspapers clean up the grammar that the person used when speaking. So I like this, as it goes against the grain:

“I don’t understand what they were thinking to begin with. I’m sorry, I don’t even like to take my kids in a car ride that would be too dangerous, and it’s like taking ...

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April 6th, 2014

In Business

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Where established companies might see risks or threats, startups see opportunity

Interesting:

The convergence of digital trends along with the rise of China and globalization has upended the rules for almost every business in every corner of the globe. It’s worth noting that everything from the Internet, to electric cars, genomic sequencing, mobile apps, and social media — were pioneered by startups, not existing companies. Perhaps that’s because where established companies might see risks or threats, startups see opportunity. As the venture capital business has come roaring back in the last 5 ...

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April 6th, 2014

In Business

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Apple is secretive

Interesting:

“A fairly heavy corporate controlling hand.”

Richard Francis worked at Intel and got to know Apple employees when the two companies partnered on projects.

“There is a fairly heavy corporate controlling hand governing a lot of what Apple locally can / can’t ‘do’ as a business. That made for a fair degree of tension with some senior staff coming in from other parts of the technology industry.”

“I dreaded Sunday nights.” Designer Jordan Price hated the long, rigid hours he was expected to work.

“I ...

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April 5th, 2014

In Technology

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Why has Linux not seen more forks?

Strong language, and strong opinions, as always, from Linus Torvalds. Now that I think about it, isn’t it amazing that Linux remains stable, even after all these years. I remember someone predicting, years ago, that Linux would split apart into a million useless forks, just like Unix did a long time ago. But that never happened. There are a lot of distros, but the kernel remains 100% under the control of Torvalds. That must mean people trust him. And ...

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April 4th, 2014

In Technology

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Using Gloss to change bytes into Clojure data structures

Interesting:

I started creating a very simple protocol to allow clients to connect via telnet. So it is:

PUT LSA |*

We have two main commands, PUT and LSA. For PUT, author is the guy speaking, via is who noted it, and the fact is the statement itself. And for LSA command, you can pass the author’s name and the system will return all the facts spoken by the author. * means you want to read all the facts.

Any other command ...

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April 4th, 2014

In Technology

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Hashmaps versus btrees

Interesting:

Unsuprisingly, a hash map performs far and above the rest. This is to be expected, mapping is exactly what hash maps are for and, in most situations, they should perform insertions and lookups with amortized O(1) time complexity. However, for situations where you made wish to preserve order, a tree may be a better choice. For that, you can see that a well-tuned btree was outperforming a red/black tree by more than 2 times.

As memory architectures begin to behave more ...

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April 4th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Zero is a function

Is zero a number or a function? Probably a function:

I also wish to re-state zero is a function. It separates positive and negative numbers, real and imaginary numbers. So if smart people wish to argue 0^0 = 1 or NOT then same said people should arguably disagree that 1^(1/2) =1 … Or NOT Because -1 x -1 = 1

Source

April 4th, 2014

In Business

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Shareholders do not legally own a corporation

Interesting:

Did Carr have a choice? Was he truly beholden to his shareholders’ desire to take the deal? If not, how can directors act against the wishes of shareholders to preserve value for other stakeholders—value that is often less easily measured than a buyout price? In the wake of the scandals that caused the recession, the management world has been immersed in trying to answer such questions.

Oddly, no previous management research has looked at what the legal literature says about the ...

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April 4th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Germany versus America

Written by a German who has been living in America for a long time:

The German system gives more power to the parties, since they decide which candidates to place on the list from which the parliamentarians will later be drawn. Parties finance the election campaigns; the candidates themselves do not need to raise substantial amounts of money. In return, there is a very high party loyalty in the German parliament. Parliamentarians vote their conscience only on rare, very important ...

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April 4th, 2014

In Business

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The end of Steve Blank’s Epiphany

Everyone who wants to be an entrepreneur should read Steve Blank’s book, The Four Steps to the Epiphany. But be aware that the era when this book was relevant is coming to an end, due to the high speed of innovation in some sectors:

This possibility allows the world to turn on its head very quickly, for Instagram to create a $1B company in 18 months with 30M users and for Whatsapp to amass a rabidly engaged mobile user base ...

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April 4th, 2014

In Philosophy

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Low expectations for sitcoms

I agree with “low expectations”. Sitcoms are slowly dying out: in 2000 there were 36 in prime time major networks, by 2013 there were only 16. They are being replaced by reality shows. Sitcoms were invented to fill time while being low-cost, but reality shows are even cheaper and can draw just as much audience. The rise of unscripted reality shows (when they are unscripted, which is rare) suggests that Keith Johnstone might have been correct when he suggested that ...

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