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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

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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

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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

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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

In Technology

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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

In Technology

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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

In Technology

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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

In Philosophy

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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

In Philosophy

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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

In Philosophy

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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

In Business

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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

In Philosophy

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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

In Philosophy

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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

In Business

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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

In Philosophy

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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

In Technology

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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

In Technology

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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

In Business

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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

In Technology

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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

In Technology

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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

In Technology

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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

In Technology

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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

In Business

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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

In Business

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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

In Technology

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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April 4th, 2014

In Philosophy

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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 ...

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April 4th, 2014

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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 ...

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April 4th, 2014

In Technology

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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, ...

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April 4th, 2014

In Philosophy

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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 ...

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April 4th, 2014

In Business

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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 ...

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April 4th, 2014

In Philosophy

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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 ...

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April 1st, 2014

In Philosophy

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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 ...

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April 1st, 2014

In Business

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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 ...

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March 31st, 2014

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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 ...

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March 31st, 2014

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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 ...

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March 31st, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 31st, 2014

In Philosophy

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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 ...

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March 31st, 2014

In Technology

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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

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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 ...

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March 31st, 2014

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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 ...

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March 31st, 2014

In Business

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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

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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 ...

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March 30th, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 30th, 2014

In Philosophy

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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 ...

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March 30th, 2014

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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 ...

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March 30th, 2014

In Business

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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

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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 ...

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March 28th, 2014

In Philosophy

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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 ...

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March 27th, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 27th, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 25th, 2014

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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 ...

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March 24th, 2014

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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 ...

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March 24th, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 24th, 2014

In Business

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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 ...

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March 24th, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 24th, 2014

In Business

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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 ...

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March 24th, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 24th, 2014

In Technology

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Why is the technology for blogs so difficult?

The web is broken and can never be fixed. The only way forward is to start over again, to get rid of the Internet Protocol, the Transmission Control Protocol and the Hypertext protocol, and to invent a new protocol that fixes the problems with the old protocols. I am doubtful this can be achieved.

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. ...

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March 24th, 2014

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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 ...

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March 24th, 2014

In Business

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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 ...

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March 24th, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 24th, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 24th, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 23rd, 2014

In Technology

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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, ...

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March 23rd, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 23rd, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 23rd, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 23rd, 2014

In Business

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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 ...

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March 21st, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 21st, 2014

In Business

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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 ...

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March 20th, 2014

In Philosophy

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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 ...

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March 20th, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 11th, 2014

In Business

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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; ...

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March 11th, 2014

In Business

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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 ...

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March 9th, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 9th, 2014

In Business

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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 ...

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March 8th, 2014

In Technology

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Working with images using Clojure

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

Source

March 8th, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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March 8th, 2014

In Technology

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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 ...

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