Smash Company Splash Image

LATEST ENTRIES

April 12th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

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

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 10th, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 10th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 9th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 8th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 8th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 7th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 7th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 7th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 7th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 7th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 6th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 6th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 6th, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

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

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 6th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 6th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 5th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 4th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 4th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 4th, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

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

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 4th, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 4th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 4th, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

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 ...

Read More Source

April 4th, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

The war on science

Interesting and sad:

Doesn’t the Entire Earth Have the Same Climate?

Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) demonstrated his inability to grasp the idea that the world’s climate varies across different regions (which, in fairness, is a sensible line of questioning—if we were living on the forest moon of Endor):

Rohrabacher: Do you believe that tornadoes and hurricanes today are more ferocious and more frequent than they were in the past?

Holdren: There is no evidence relating to tornadoes. None of all. And I don’t know any ...

Read More Source

April 4th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Is Hacker News bad for the tech world?

The implication is that Hacker News is dominant because the competition is weak, and there is some truth to that, mostly because Hacker News does not sell ads, whereas all the major tech blogs sell ads, and the ads get in the way of my ability to read the story, and the ads might also influence the editorial policy of the blog, and yet Hacker News has its own editorial policy, influenced by its economic concerns, and less obvious than ...

Read More Source

April 4th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Just Libraries – the composition of small apps

Clojure favors the composition of small apps. The Clojure community has shown a resistance to monolithic frameworks like Rails. Now Immutant is moving further down the small app road.

For its second major release, Immutant will simply be a collection of libraries, one for each of the commodity services currently available to applications using an Immutant 1.x container: web, scheduling, messaging, caching, and transactions. These services will be provided by the following underlying components: Undertow, Quartz, HornetQ, Infinispan, and Narayana, ...

Read More Source

April 4th, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

Work should be fun

Interesting:

It’s also quite scary when you consider that we’re entering an era of technological unemployment. More and more jobs are being automated: they aren’t going to provide money, social validation, or occupation for anyone any longer. We saw this first with agriculture and the internal combustion engine and artificial fertilizers, which reduced the rural workforce from around 90% of the population in the 17th-18th century to around 1% today in the developed world. We’ve seen it in steel, coal, and ...

Read More Source

April 4th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

The good and the bad of Facebook advertising

Much of this thread is devoted to the problems with Facebook advertising. This was one of the few positive stories:

Like others have said, it really depends on what you’re selling and who you’re targetting. Our example (country specific mobile app for doctors), spent 100 € on AdWords, end result was literally 0 app installs, 0 sign-ups, 0 everything. Medical keywords are expensive, no chance of sending them directly to the App Store/Play Store (that we saw at least), and no other ...

Read More Source

April 4th, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

Woman takes a grant, is then called a hypocrite for criticizing university

If true, then this is a worrisome attitude for someone who offers scholarships to college students. Shouldn’t college kids be encouraged to make thoughtful dissents against the institutions they find themselves in?

Even more damningly, the administration seems to conflate “promoting civility” with “quashing dissent.” Over email, the current Coastal student told me, “I’ve been reluctant to write in the school newspaper and [be] critical thereof because students have warned me they’ve been called in by administration after publishing op-ed ...

Read More Source

April 1st, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

The impact on gender relations of unpaid labor in open source?

Interesting:

A note on meritocracy

It’s difficult to go much further without mentioning the undercurrent belief in meritocracy that is particularly pervasive in open source communities, especially around participation in GitHub.

Meritocracy is the belief that those with merit float to the top – that they should be given more opportunities and be paid higher.

We prize the idea of meritocracy and weigh merit on contribution to OSS. Those who contribute the most, goes the general belief, have the most merit and are ...

Read More Source

April 1st, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Can open-floor plans be useful in an office?

I only hear the negatives, so this positive argument is interesting:

Suffers from the same flaw as most critiques of open plan: it focuses on individual productivity while failing to understand how it contributes to team productivity.

Cornell did a study of open plan awhile back that you should all read. I posted it here:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7507404

The misunderstanding here is that it’s just about serendipitously “overhearing” other conversations.

1. Open plan makes it easier to ask questions. Those are “disruptions”, yes, but what the ...

Read More Source

March 31st, 2014

In Business

No Comments

OKCupid takes a stand against Brendan Eich

Interesting:

Hello there, Mozilla Firefox user. Pardon this interruption of your OkCupid experience.

Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples. We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid.

Politics is normally not the business of a website, and we all know there’s a lot more wrong with the world than misguided CEOs. So you might wonder why we’re asserting ourselves today. This is why: we’ve devoted the last ...

Read More Source

March 31st, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Changing ideas for a startup

I built a custom CRM for the private club Parlor New York, and I just discovered an article about their original application. The application has changed a lot in the last 3 years. It is now focused on more detailed questions that try to figure out what your profession is. For me, this is one more data point about how ideas change once you try to make them real.

The Parlor Club first sent out invites in 2009 ...

Read More Source

March 31st, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

The worst web site ever: healthcare.gov

What an incredible disaster. I say this as a professional who develops websites. Several states, such as Kentucky, built their own web sites, which have worked great. But the Federal site, even 6 months after launch, remains a disaster.

This is the error message I got when I just now tried to sign up:

Today’s the last day to sign up for Obamacare if you’re planning on using the healthcare.gov website. Unfortunately for people who tried to log onto the ...

Read More Source

March 31st, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

A genuinely new thought about the history of human expansion

I thought I knew every theory of possible human expansion, but this was entirely new for me:

Dr. Guidon remains defiant about her findings. At her home on the grounds of a museum she founded to focus on the discoveries in Serra da Capivara, she said she believed that humans had reached these plateaus even earlier, around 100,000 years ago, and might have come not overland from Asia but by boat from Africa.

Humans traveled by boat from Africa to South America ...

Read More Source

March 31st, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Java 8 has an Optional to deal with NullPointerException

I don’t think I am impressed with this. The idea is borrowed from Scala. I have no love for Java or Scala, and I only follow Java because it impacts Clojure. If this enables Clojure to do something clever with NullPointerException, then maybe I will reevaluate this.

Source

March 31st, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Content Security Policy and Ruby and Clojure

Although I love Clojure, I must admit that Ruby and Rails have an impressive depth of gems to help with every aspect of web development, including security. John P Hackworth recently wrote of the weakness of the Clojure eco-system, although his criticism is also an attack on the whole of idea of “small libraries that compose well” which amounts to an attack on the idea of “small pieces, loosely joined”. Clearly, good security can be achieved with small libraries that ...

Read More Source

March 31st, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Using Clojure to build a microservices CMS

Many of us become cynical about technologies that promise big breakthroughs in productivity, so we become overly careful in our choices, but this is a good question for managers to always be asking:

“Why would a large organisation with a mix of technologies and legacy systems want to muddy the waters with a completely new language?”

If you want to make the conservative choice, and stick with what you already have, you should be able to articulate the reasons as clearly as ...

Read More Source

March 31st, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Declining wages for men

Interesting:

For reference: Here are changes in hourly real wages of men, 1973-2012, at different percentiles of the wage distribution, calculated from Census data by the Economic Policy Institute. As you can see, wages have fallen for 60 percent of men.

Source

March 30th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Bitcoin has a great future in crime

I agree with this entirely:

The IRS now treats bitcoin as a property asset, very much the same way they treat stocks, and not all stocks are prone to speculation. So this is expected news for those who hold bitcoin as an investment.

The major impact of this decision will be on consumer adoption. Now, every time I want to make a transaction, I need to keep track of my taxes. I know that some startups are already developing ways to ...

Read More Source

March 30th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

eat food for food in foods when food isnt ‘chocolate’

Of the many attempts to re-invent Javascript, the mostly puzzling to me are those that do not fix any problems, and then invents some more. I realize there is a strong desire to borrow ideas from Ruby and bring them to Javascript, but where one can’t do that cleanly, one shouldn’t do it at all.

It’s a tool, that is all. Ambiguous code is a poorly thought out contrived example with a simple solution. To me, this: eat food for ...

Read More Source

March 30th, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

Debtors prisons raise the risk of corruption in the USA

The problem with putting people in jail for debts is that the courts themselves get corrupted by the confluence of money and power. This is a step down a dark road:

In the spring of 2009, Burdette was doing well. For a year she had worked at the Piggly Wiggly in Childersburg, where nearly a quarter of the 5,200 citizens live in poverty. Burdette’s cashier job didn’t pay much, but it helped her get by.

One May afternoon, she was ringing up ...

Read More Source

March 30th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Chris Granger: more problems with object oriented programming

At this point the evidence against object oriented programming seems overwhelming. I’ve linked to many articles here on this blog. Chris Granger offers another take on this issue:

Programming is unobservable

We can’t see how our programs execute. We can’t see how our changes affect our programs. And we can’t see how our programs are connected together. That basically means we can’t observe anything. The state of the art in observability is a stepwise debugger, which forces us to stop the world ...

Read More Source

March 30th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Half the board of Mozilla resigns because of the new CEO

This is a curious story, for sure. If the half the Board hates the new CEO, then how did he become CEO? Brendan Eich is apparently a homophobe, having donated money to Proposition 8. I understand why the Board members would resign, but why were they unable to stop the appointment?

Source

March 30th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

NoSQL is a new of doing things, not a drop-in replacement for SQL

I like this:

Both NoSQL and Erlang had a burst of use and interest but because they were seen as silver bullets. Soon people realized you couldn’t simply translate your imperative code to Erlang and see improvements but instead regressions. Additionally, throwing your relational data at a NoSQL databases caused the same.

I feel the NoSQL culture and programmers haven’t retracted to the core yet as much as Erlang. Though Erlang may see another surge of misuse and misinterpretation now with the ...

Read More Source

March 28th, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

Sensitivity training: I have a knife and you have a gun

I am curious what Frances Hocutt believes sensitivity training can achieve? Is it an appropriate tool for changing a culture?

I wanted to lead a research team and solve pressing problems in medicine, energy, or the environment while treating my employees fairly. I thought about being able to hire people like my incredibly competent but PhD-less co-worker into management roles. I thought about instituting management and diversity training for PhD-level chemists. I thought about inviting some of the women ...

Read More Source

March 27th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

The advantages of Ruby on Unicorn

This is an interesting way to look at things. Since so much of Ruby code is not thread safe, the fact that Unicorn spins up processes that don’t talk to each other is the most safe way to get concurrency in Ruby. That is a good point, though it is equivalent to saying “Since the code is broken, the the application server to do something weird to compensate for the brokenness.” Clearly, some people have good results with this, though ...

Read More Source

March 27th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

More negative views about Rails

Rails lacks a story for concurrency. This is written by a Go programmer. Their criticisms are similar to mine, though for me the answer is “use Clojure” and so I end up doing JVM tuning, which is brought up as something scary to keep people away from jRuby. My impression is that the case against jRuby is weaker than the case against MRI Ruby (the C version).

Rails is fundamentally – and catastrophically – slow.

This well-known set of webapp ...

Read More Source

March 25th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

If Unix is good for Unicorn, why can’t Unicorn handle slow connections?

I wrote about this recently, but I want to add to what I said.

In what I now think of as a famous essay, Ryan Tomayko said “I like Unicorn because it’s Unix“. There must be something to this because the essay has been widely quoted, and I remember it, and I have re-read 3 times in the last 4 years. It had an impact.

And yet, nothing in it convinced me to adopt that model. I rejected it and went ...

Read More Source

March 24th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Photon could save PHP

I have been extremely critical of PHP for the last 2 years. See “Why PHP is obsolete“. However, I just stumbled across Photon, which seems to address some of the core problems I see with PHP (especially the lack of any tools for dealing with concurrency):

Why targeting Mongrel2?

Mongrel2 is a very well designed, high performance server developed by pragmatic users who do not like bloated software. The use of ZeroMQ as the communication hub makes it extremely flexible while keeping ...

Read More Source

March 24th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

The tremendous innovation in Javascript

There is no question that tremendous innovation is happening in the vast extended eco-system that touches upon Javascript. Sadly, I am not much interested in it. Maybe that is because I am not focused on the frontend right now. But also because I’m interested in solving these issues in other ways. All the same, Sam Ruby’s walkthrough of Angular.js is interesting:

We have a model, view, and controller on the client, seemlessly interacting with the model, view, and controller on ...

Read More Source

March 24th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Sexism in Silicon Valley

An interesting look at the extent to which the investors/angels in Silicon Valley help promote stereotypes that in turn promote a backwards view of gender relations:

Silicon Valley fetishizes a particular type of engineer — young, male, awkward, unattached. This fetish is so normalized in startup culture that it often goes unseen for what it is: the specific, narrow fantasy of venture capitalists, deployed to focus their investment and attention. The disproportionate success of a very few individuals who fit this ...

Read More Source

March 24th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Radical workarounds for the limits of MongoDB

Whoa. This gives me interesting ideas:

To reduce lock contention, we decided to run multiple MongoDB instances on one machine and create more granular databases in each instance. Basically data is stored in different instances based on its usage and in every MongoDB instance one database is created for each partner.

Some people hate the fact that MongoDB forces you to do more in your own app, but I prefer designing with those constraints in mind.

This has similarities to ...

Read More Source

March 24th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Julie Ann Horvath struggles with Github

I suspect this story will be one of those stories that we will talk about for many years, sort of in the same way some of us still reference the treatment that Blaine Cook got in the media, and how unfair it was to blame him for the technical problems in Rails, at a site that was growing 1,000% a year. Some stories reveal a lot about the mood of the tech community in a given year. The Blaine Cook ...

Read More Source

March 24th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Strange facts about HTML

I feel like I’ve been away from HTML for awhile. 10 years ago I thought of myself as having some design skill, and I did a lot of front-end work, but in 2009, I moved to New York City and worked in some big companies with strict divisions of labor. I was a backender, and backenders are never frontenders. So I’ve been away from the frontend for awhile. It is slowly becoming foreign territory to me. I was surprised to ...

Read More Source

March 24th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Why is the technology for blogs so difficult?

Back in 2005, David Heinemeier Hansson offered a Rails tutorial showing how you could create a blog in 15 minutes

:

This was a world changing moment. Everyone I knew watched that video and talked about it. Here was a huge shift away from the overly complex frameworks of the past, and yet here was a framework that really worked, something we could use instead of dealing with the chaos of writing everything ourselves.

You could build blog software in 15 ...

Read More Source

March 24th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Once again, the shift to “smart services, dumb pipes”

Yesterday I linked to the article over at Martin Fowler’s website where he wrote about the shift away from complex routing frameworks, towards a system of “smart services, dumb pipes”. Here is one more data point:

At Digg our SOA consisted of many Python backend services communicating with each other as well as being used by our PHP frontend servers and Tornado API servers. They used Apache Thrift for defining the interfaces, clients and as the underlying protocol.

…Coming off the Digg ...

Read More Source

March 24th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

What is the future of news?

Consider the ambitions of Vox:

Will Vox be a bunch of articles like this one?

Our commitment to explaining the news is a commitment to an outcome not a commitment to any particular article format. We do think, however, that the traditional article format is ripe for reinvention.

In journalism, you’ll sometimes hear articles about hard topics referred to as “vegetables” or “the spinach” — the idea being that readers don’t like those subjects but they should be reading about them anyway. Our ...

Read More Source

March 24th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Often businesses handle a degree of inconsistency in order to respond quickly to demand

Perfect consistency is too rigid for most businesses, and it is painful when technical teams try to enforce this on a company, out of some ideological commitment to doing things the “correct” computer science way. “Eventual consistency” has been the standard that businesses have striven after since the Arab-Hindu cultures first invented dual-entry accounting, more than 500 years ago, and this is the standard that tech teams should enable for the businesses they serve.

Choosing to manage inconsistencies in this ...

Read More Source

March 24th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

What kind of standards are useful to your team?

I love this:

Its a bit of a diochotomy that microservice teams tend to eschew the kind of rigid enforced standards laid down by enterprise architecture groups but will happily use and even evangelise the use of open standards such as HTTP, ATOM and other microformats.

The key difference is how the standards are developed and how they are enforced. Standards managed by groups such as the IETF only become standards when there are several live implementations of them in the wider ...

Read More Source

March 24th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

The conceptual model of the world will differ between systems

There is nothing wrong or bad about this, but rather, this is healthy:

Decentralization of data management presents in a number of different ways. At the most abstract level, it means that the conceptual model of the world will differ between systems. This is a common issue when integrating across a large enterprise, the sales view of a customer will differ from the support view. Some things that are called customers in the sales view may not appear at all in ...

Read More Source

March 23rd, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

A complexity that is frankly breathtaking

How can anyone possibly think this is a good idea?

To quote James Lewis and Martin Fowler:

Certainly, many of the techniques in use in the microservice community have grown from the experiences of developers integrating services in large organisations. The Tolerant Reader pattern is an example of this. Efforts to use the web have contributed, using simple protocols is another approach derived from these experiences – a reaction away from central standards that have reached a complexity that is, frankly, ...

Read More Source

March 23rd, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

The pushback against the monolithic framework

I am pleased to think that others are as ready as I am to abandon the concept of the monolithic framework:

Monolithic applications can be successful, but increasingly people are feeling frustrations with them – especially as more applications are being deployed to the cloud . Change cycles are tied together – a change made to a small part of the application, requires the entire monolith to be rebuilt and deployed. Over time it’s often hard to keep a good modular ...

Read More Source

March 23rd, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Leave the error checking in your code

I leave the asserts in my Clojure code. I see a similarity of spirit expressed in the sentiment of James Hague (I especially like the use of the word “reckless”):

That error checking is great during development was not controversial, but opinions after that were divided. One side believed it wasteful to keep all that byte and cycle eating around when you knew it wasn’t needed. The other group claimed you could never guarantee an absence of bugs, and wouldn’t ...

Read More Source

March 23rd, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

A defense of MongoDB

I posted this on Hacker News and now re-post it here.

MongoDB offers the greatest benefit to those who have an evolving concept of their schema, and that tends to be startups, though I have worked in large firms that entirely re-invented their schemas. I worry that I would seem tedious if I listed the places that I have worked, and yet, on Hacker News, when I speak in abstract terms, I tend to get downvoted, so I will name a ...

Read More Source

March 23rd, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Millions at stake but programming mistakes everywhere

How long does this go on? Tens of millions of dollars get traded in virtual currencies, yet the exchanges seem to be slapped together by amateurs, with none of the caution that a bank would use when building its exchange software.

Vircurex had a computer programming bug that caused the loss of a huge amount of virtual currency, so they are now insolvent, and they are trying to offer their own solvency-resque, without going to the courts:

Frozen Funds

In preparation of ...

Read More Source

March 21st, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Announcing Humorus-MG

I just released Humorus-MG. This is an admin CMS for managing a collection in MongoDB. The app is written in Clojure.

The README contains an unintentional mini-manifesto of what I believe about creating web software. This part in particular comes close to summarizing the kind of software that I would like to create this year:

—————-

Things that will never change about this app

1.) This app will never have more than 2,000 lines of Clojure code. None of my apps will ...

Read More Source

March 21st, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Making the VC process more tolerant of women

Sam Altman seems serious about making it easier for female founders to find resources through the VC and incubator systems:

I realize it’s always a bit ridiculous for a guy to talk about what it’s like for female founders, but I’m interested in doing whatever I can to help, because the venture business has definitely been unfair to women. The women on our team also care deeply about this issue, and in fact can probably do more than I can ...

Read More Source

March 20th, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

To what extent can artists be political?

An interesting bit, suggesting an unresolveable divide between art and politics:

What gets in the way of artists’ making substantive political contributions? The collection’s title essay proposes that artists’ class position opposes their interests to those of typical protesters, even when both are concerned with economic survival. Because artists, unlike wage laborers, have a direct stake in what they produce and face no workplace discipline other than what they impose on themselves, their political attitudes are structurally different from those ...

Read More Source

March 20th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Why I use MongoDB

I posted this on HackerNews. I am in agreement with what Jun Xu wrote.

I think this is true:

“For a technology startup with limited resources, broadly adopting a new DBMS means betting its own future on the DBMS. ”

It has become popular to attack MongoDB, but I think it is difficult to get an objective view of what people are doing with it. If you want to read a really scathing attack on MongoDB, consider this post:

http://www.sarahmei.com/blog/2013/11/11/why-you-should-never-use-mongodb/

But I recall reading that ...

Read More Source

March 11th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

The gentrification of San Francisco

Interesting:

City officials estimate that there are over 40,000 illegal in-law units attached to San Francisco properties, and they account for about ten percent of the city’s housing stock. Most of these units were constructed during World War II, when workers flooded to the Bay Area to take wartime industrial jobs; today, property owners often choose to rent them to lower-income tenants under the table. Historically, San Francisco has had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding illegal in-law units; ...

Read More Source

March 11th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Assumptions to avoid when starting your web startup

I have seen $1 million dollars wasted in what turned out to be a year long brainstorming session. I have seen self-doubts rationalized as doubts about a product, and honest doubts about a product transformed into tests of personal self-worth. I have seen smart people lose their bearings when they face the test of the market. Startups are hard, and the public’s reaction to your product is always personal.

Pasha Galbreath and I continue to give talks to first-time entrepreneurs ...

Read More Source

March 9th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Criticker gives away all of its users passwords

Criticker gives away all of its users passwords in plain text. Of course the site is written in PHP. While you can make mistakes in any language, this kind of laziness is what you expect in PHP.

Every request contains the secret key in the url. So all I need to do is capture a single request sent by the app and I have the key. Easy.

My theory was that I’d get the list of users that the app had ...

Read More Source

March 9th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

ONO sells for $9.5 billion and no one cares

Maybe it is the Europeans who do the right thing, and the Americans who get it wrong?

A Spanish cable company, ONO, built originally by Eugenio Galdon and mostly by my friend Richard Alden between 2001 and 2011, is in the process of being sold to Vodafone for around $9.5bn, and nobody cares. It is sad how entrepreneurial successes that don’t happen in the USA or are not related to the USA get so little press. ONO is a fantastic story ...

Read More Source

March 8th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Working with images using Clojure

I am intrigued by Mike Anderson’s “imagez” library:

Source

March 8th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

How to monitor Clojure apps?

Interesting:

Powerful stream primitives

(where (or (service #”^api”) (service #”^app”)) (where (tagged “exception”) (rollup 5 3600 (email “dev@foo.com”)) (else (changed-state (email “ops@foo.com”)))))

Riemann streams are just functions which accept an event. Events are just structs with some common fields like :host and :service You can use dozens of ...

Read More Source

March 8th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

How to bankrupt a successful software company

Interesting:

Quark 5 and OS9 was what we were used to, but it was pretty miserable. The things that stick out:

Restarting your computer and losing your unsaved work over software freezes was a regular part of your day. Like, many times a day. We had all these crazy workarounds to achieve certain effects like drop shadows or change-and-repeat. It was all pretty rudimentary and hard to standardize across many designers in a department. Shapes were pretty much a non-issue, so we had to ...

Read More Source

March 7th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

The downside of Unit Testing

Interesting:

I’m back in Java-land these days, which is culturally very pro-unit testing. After getting exposed to it again for a few months again I’ve come to side with the author here. I’ve never really been comfortable with the amount of time certain people dedicate to unit testing, especially the TDD crowd, but in my hiatus something has arisen in popularity which has made it all the worse: mockito. Prior to mockito, unit testing was (more or less) limited to testing that ...

Read More Source

March 4th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Darren Holloway walks through the philosophy of Ring/Clojure

Darren Holloway has written a post that should be added to the wiki on Github where Ring is hosted. He covers all the stuff that had me the most confused when I started doing web development with Clojure. He offers easy examples in pseudo-code to get the basic ideas across. I wish every project on Github had an introductory tutorial written in this style.

An excerpt:

Ring Conceptually

Technically, Ring isn’t a framework or an application, but rather a specification ...

Read More Source

March 4th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

What it is like to think you are talented when you are ignorant

Despite the “worst practices” approach, the thing worked.

I like this story very much. My own story is a bit different, circa 2000-2005 I built a CMS out of PHP, and I did eventually find good ways to structure it, and I remain an opponent of “object oriented programming”. But other than that, a lot of this story overlaps my own.

Despite what I now refer to as my “worst practices” approach, the thing worked. Every bad tutorial, every anti-PHP ...

Read More Source

March 3rd, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Emotional intelligence and success with Bitcoin

Or rather, maladaptive ways to deal with stress:

After Mt. Gox was hacked for the first time in summer of 2011, a friend asked Powell to help out, and soon, the San Francisco entrepreneur found himself on a plane to Tokyo. After landing, he rushed to Shibuya station, where he was met by his friend, Roger Ver, one of the world’s biggest bitcoin supporters who just happened to live across the street from Mt. Gox. Without bothering to drop off ...

Read More Source

March 3rd, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

The difference between database indexes and database histograms

Several things occurred to me when I read this, some of them off-topic, including my use of MongoDb, and how I have been unthinkingly re-creating histograms without even giving them that name. I do not regard that as a problem with MongoDb, it gives flexibility by doing very little itself, everyone using it is hopefully aware of the need to re-create database functionality within one’s own app.

Then I asked myself the question: how does Oracle estimate that there are ...

Read More Source

March 3rd, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

I still don’t get PAAS

This is the problem for me:

In my ideal world, deploying my apps wouldn’t require any platform-specific code, or if it did, that code would be portable between platforms.

If I have to be aware of my servers, at all, then I’m still doing sysadmin, and if I have to do sysadmin, I want all the tools of sysadmin. I don’t want to do sysadmin on a crippled account that limits my options. Maybe someday there will be a real PAAS such ...

Read More Source

March 2nd, 2014

In Business

No Comments

The many problems with Bitcoin

Interesting:

I’m actually shocked that Mt. Gox did not lose money to a database screwup. There are so many flawed NoSQL databases out there that, if you adopt the technologies advertised as “hip” on techcrunch, you’ll most likely end up with a broken exchange (more on this in subsequent blog posts, because there are many funny examples that deserve their own discussion). It is quite easy for well-meaning developers to build an exchange on a database that loses transactions, or to ...

Read More Source

March 1st, 2014

In Business

No Comments

The new Formal blogging

Like Chris Bertram, I have a certain nostalgia for the world of blogging that existed during the years, roughly, 2000-2008. I sad that the conversational aspects have moved to Twitter, and now the blogs are mostly op-eds, rather than conversations. I am also surprised to see it now being treated as something to be done formally.

To be fair, may of the new initiatives, such as The Conversation, Politics in Spires, and the LSE Blogs are great, content-wise. But they ...

Read More Source

March 1st, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

Russia mobilizes troops to occupy parts of the Ukraine

Russia mobilizes troops to occupy parts of the Ukraine.

I am speculating. What could Putin really hope to accomplish? And at what expense?

I am looking at Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukraine

Ethnic groups (2001)

77.8% Ukrainians

17.3% Russians

4.9% others / unspecified

The Russians are concentrated in the eastern-most provinces, and also in the Crimea.

Russia has 145 million people, the Ukraine has 46 million people, so in terms of the ratio of people, Russia invading the Ukraine would be a bit like the USA invading Mexico. Russia also has a ...

Read More Source

March 1st, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

What is correct HTML syntax?

Matias Meno of Colorglare asks the question “TO CLOSE OR NOT TO CLOSE?”

This is from Ian Hickson in 2006, regarding the emergence of HTML5:

Regarding your original suggestion: based on the arguments presented by the various people taking part in this discussion, I’ve now updated the specification to allow “/” characters at the end of void elements.

To which Sam Ruby responded:

This is big. PHP’s nl2br function is now HTML5 compliant. WordPress won’t have to completely convert to HTML4 before people who ...

Read More Source

February 25th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Greedy bankers, the lazy poor: moralizing wealth

Interesting:

Sadly, Mr Rooney did not respond in the manner of one of his celebrated predecessors. But he should have, because the chant is wrong. Mr Rooney is not getting £300,000 a week because he is unusually greedy: in the improbable event of being offered such money, who among us would turn it down? He is getting it because he is unusually powerful – a power which is not entirely due merely to his exceptional skill.

Palace fans, then, are committing ...

Read More Source

February 25th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Corporate welfare in the USA, from state and local numbers

$110 billion just from state and local governments. And of course the Federal government adds in a lot more.

State and local governments have awarded at least $110 billion in taxpayer subsidies to business, with 3 of every 4 dollars going to fewer than 1,000 big corporations, the most thorough analysis to date of corporate welfare revealed today.

Boeing ranks first, with 137 subsidies totaling $13.2 billion, followed by Alcoa at $5.6 billion, Intel at $3.9 billion, General Motors at $3.5 ...

Read More Source

February 25th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Assortative Mating plays no role in current income inequality

Rarely does one see such blatant lying. Here a group of economists post a graph that very clearly contradicts everything they say, yet they go ahead and say it anyway.

The authors conclude that “rising assortative mating together with increasing labour-force participation by married women [emphasis added by me] are important in order to account for the determinants of growth in household income inequality in the US.” So, right out of the gate, a key influence not trumpeted in the headline ...

Read More Source

February 11th, 2014

In Business

No Comments

Who should be in charge when policy actually matters?

Take the title of this post and change it so it is about technology:

Who should be in charge when technology actually matters?

I am intrigued by a Paul Krugman post in which talks about policy mattering.

Change the word “policy” to “technology” and this gets at my complaint about many of the tech disasters I’ve seen in recent years, from the companies I worked for, to stuff I read about such as the roll out of the website for Obamacare.

So ...

Read More Source

February 9th, 2014

In Philosophy

No Comments

The culture of girls and computers

Interesting:

It Really Is about Girls (and Boys)

Twelve-year-old girls today don’t generally get to have the experiences that I did. Parents are warned to keep kids off the computer lest they get lured away by child molesters or worse—become fat! That goes doubly for girls, who then grow up to be liberal arts majors. Then, in their late teens or early twenties, someone who feels the gender skew in technology communities is a problem drags them to a LUG meeting ...

Read More Source

February 9th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Bloated software promises a stability which might be a liability

Interesting:

IT organizations are facing accelerating pressure to support companies’ growing need for business agility, innovation, customer responsiveness, and adaptability. This pressure doesn’t stop with so-called systems of engagement. It goes all the way back to systems of record. In fact, the distinction between the two is starting to erode. Enterprises are responding to this pressure by upgrading application architectures within and around the system-of-record tier. They are starting to view the “stability” of their legacy applications as a liability rather ...

Read More Source

February 9th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Drupal is bloated software

Stuff like Drupal offers ease of use for standard operations, and yet, when I work with clients, I find they have very few “standard” operations. Everything needs to be customized, and that is where Drupal becomes difficult:

Drupal, much like many other CMSs, follows a development methodology that I call reverse development. It is the simple idea that the most fundamental moving parts of the technology have been already built for you, or are modifiable using a trivial UI, and ...

Read More Source

February 9th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

What is a Spruce Goose software project?

I have worked on software that was just like this:

Now the Spruce Goose was trying to fly. People couldn’t take their eyes off it. Who could comprehend its size! Three hundred-foot wingspan, seven-story tail, 200 tons of plane with room for 700 soldiers. It upstaged even the ocean liners lounging nearby. There it was, $25 million worth of prototype seaplane, skating along toward take-off, engines cackling and fuming. Howard Hughes, America’s most publicized aviator, designed it, swore by it, ...

Read More Source

February 9th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

Getting useful info out of git logs

Interesting:

git churn It’s possible to get valuable insight from history of a project not only by viewing individual commits, but by analyzing sets of changes as a whole. For instance, git-churn is a simple but valuable script that wraps git log to compile stats about which files change the most. For example, to see where the development of an app was focused on in the past 6 months:

$ git churn –since=’6 months ago’ app/ | tail Incidentally, such analysis also highlights ...

Read More Source

February 7th, 2014

In Technology

No Comments

The most difficult thing about programming

Everything is working, then it breaks, and you never know why. The technologies we rely on are too numerous and complicated for us to understand them all — this is disempowering. I find this the most difficult thing about being a programmer: the surprise that even we can not understand all the technologies we use.

When I’d finished this article, I wanted to spell check the content. emacs-ispell mode decided to go on strike. It could not find aspell, the ...

Read More Source