Yearly Archives: 2012

December 28th, 2012

In Technology

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Clojure programming is a branch of Java programming

As I learned Clojure, the big surprise was how much I had to learn Java. There are a thousand places where some knowledge of Java programming is needed (and assumed). An example:

The only occassions I’m finding pmap useful is for coarse-grain concurrency…In other words I’m only using pmap where i ‘d use Executors. Usually, when mapping a very expensive fn (that needs no coordination) across a very large collection of roughly equally-sized elements. In these cases I’m getting proper linear speedup and i don’t see ...

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December 28th, 2012

In Business

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How much can parents limit teenager’s access to the internet?

Jezebel has a post about teenage girls and the Internet, which includes this bit:

It sucks to be a teenage girl on the internet, but it also sucks to be the parent of a teenage girl on the internet, which is why more parents are taking advantage of technology to follow their precious darlings’ every tweet and IRL move. Interested in GPS tracking devices? How about an app that “gather[s] intelligence” on your kids “wherever they go”, or an online service ...

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December 27th, 2012

In Technology

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What is wrong with David Heinemeier Hansson?

David Heinemeier Hansson has a history of over-reacting to feedback, and he has occasionally mistaken innocent remarks about Rails as attacks. There is something wrong in his brain, that such small incidents provoke such large responses. I wish I could still link to the parody Mark Pilgrim did, but Pilgrim has deleted everything he ever posted to the Internet, so only faint traces are left of his wit.

Someone posted a comment on Github complaining that Rails should not depend ...

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December 26th, 2012

In Business

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Design changes for the sake of change

Interesting article that starts off looking at a flat sink, and the pitfalls of that design, and then talks about designers who change stuff simply for the sake of being different.

Source

December 26th, 2012

In Business

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Why leaders fail

Interesting:

This first habit may be the most insidious, since it appears to be highly desirable. Shouldn’t a company try to dominate its business environment, shape thefuture of its markets and set the pace within them? Yes,but there’s a catch. Unlike successful leaders, failed leaders who never question their dominance fail torealize they are at the mercy of changing circumstances.They vastly overestimate the extent to which they actually control events and vastly underestimate the role of chance and ...

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December 26th, 2012

In Business

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No raise: stupid things USA companies do

This is good:

At many companies, the way you get a raise is to quit. As a matter of policy. I am not exaggerating.

The way it works is this: Management figures they’ll save money on salaries by leaving it up to the employees to negotiate for their own pay. So they don’t give raises until someone tries to negotiate for one. Naturally, anyone asking for a raise is viewed as having no negotiating stance unless they have a credible claim to ...

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December 24th, 2012

In Technology

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A simple example of WebSockets in Aleph

This looks good, and I plan to go back and study it more:

(ns core.main (:use lamina.core aleph.http compojure.core (hiccup core page)) ; This sets the correct file type for js includes used by hiccup (ring.middleware resource file-info) ...

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December 23rd, 2012

In Business

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Gender in the workplace

This is an unusual case:

Framing the issue for the Iowa Supreme Court, Justice Edward M. Mansfield wrote: “The question we must answer is … whether an employee who has not engaged in flirtatious conduct may be lawfully terminated simply because the boss views the employee as an irresistible attraction.”

Answering the question, he continued: “The issue before us is not whether a jury could find that Dr. Knight treated Nelson badly. We are asked to decide only if a genuine fact ...

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December 23rd, 2012

In Philosophy

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Why privacy? Because knowledge is power

Some good comments about why privacy is important:

The ability to gleam private details about people is having some power over them. The entire modern theory of government rests on limiting and dividing up the power of those in power. With mass surveillance, that balance is broken. Not only do we have private details on individuals, that knowledge is held by a small and unaccountable elite, protected by state secrets.

Even if you live completely lawfully and morally and truly have nothing ...

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December 22nd, 2012

In Business

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What work should stupid people do?

Interesting point about life for low IQ people:

The limits to human capabilities. By definition, 50% of people have an IQ below 100. I don’t think anyone who’s reading (or writing) these words can begin to imagine how hard it would be to make a go of it in modern America with an IQ of 90 — to build a prosperous and secure life, raise a stable, happy family, or ensure that you can be self-sufficient in your waning years. Even ...

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December 22nd, 2012

In Business

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The need to train new workers

A very good point:

The fundamental question is: if there’s 15% unemployment in one industry and 3% in another, why aren’t people switching jobs?

…Massive demand for skilled workers and zero demand for unskilled workers suggests a course of action, which brings me to my second point. If there are a bunch of people sitting around unemployed while there’s a ton of work to be done, that’s not their fault; it’s the fault of the people who need the work done. ...

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December 22nd, 2012

In Technology

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The JVM is part of a world wide conversation

[ [ UPDATED: 2019-01-23 ] ]

I was asking myself, why am I moving away from Ruby and PHP? Why am I drawn to the world of the JVM? I realize I agree with Zed Shaw: Rails is a ghetto. PHP too. These communities look inward. In 2012, the JVM is an important part of a worldwide conversation. The Rails community made some contributions to that conversation back in 2004-2007. Bruce Eckel did a good job of summarizing what Rails ...

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December 21st, 2012

In Philosophy

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The perfect woman

Ideals about feminine beauty have changed a lot of the last 100 years..

the old newspaper clippings themselves are delightful; headlines include “BEEFSTEAK HER MAINSTAY” (caps necessary!) and “Is Very Strong, Weighs 171 Pounds, and is 5 Feet 7 Inches Tall — Means to Grow Vegetables.”

Some fun facts about Elsie, who did not have a “single physical defect”:

She was an “ardent suffragette.” “She says she has never been ill and doesn’t know what fear is.” !!!!! “The girls at Safe College, she ...

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December 21st, 2012

In Philosophy

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Getting things done is not productive

Interesting:

Creating real value requires deep work, which is a fundamentally different activity than knocking off organizational tasks.

Deep work cannot be reduced to clear next actions. It is, instead, a philosophy that must be cultivated. If you read Robert Greene’s Mastery, for example, you’ll encounter story after story of remarkable people who didn’t carefully organize tasks, but instead marshaled their energy toward the obsessive (and often messy) pursuit of something new.

As a graduate student, I didn’t need better lists of next ...

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December 21st, 2012

In Technology

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Lamina organizes events into channels

Lamina treats a series of events as a graph. As an organizing idea, this seems like a very good idea.

One thing I quickly discovered is that a transactional queue is about ten times slower than an equivalent implementation using ConcurrentLinkedQueues. For this reason, the one significant change to in this latest version is that channel queues are no longer transactional by default.

This is a big enough change that it deserves some explanation. While compatibility with Clojure’s concurrency ...

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December 21st, 2012

In Business

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Are you loyal?

Zach Tellman on social products:

In Albert Hirschman’s Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, he posits there are three possible reactions to the deterioration of a group or product someone holds dear: they can speak out against it, leave, or remain silent out of loyalty. Of course, there are degrees of ‘voice’ and ‘exit’. An honest discourse might be constructive, but outright rebellion is also a way of voicing one’s discontent. Similarly, an exit isn’t always final – Hirschman credits the stability ...

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December 21st, 2012

In Technology

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What is the best queue system?

Github has a summary of queue systems that they have used and then abandoned: SQS,

ActiveMessaging

BackgroundJob

DelayedJob

beanstalkd

They go over this history to explain why they are creating Resque:

Persistence

See what’s pending

Modify pending jobs in-place

Tags

Priorities

Fast pushing and popping

See what workers are doing

See what workers have done

See failed jobs

Kill fat workers

Kill stale workers

Kill workers that are running too long

Keep Rails loaded / persistent workers

Distributed workers (run them on multiple machines)

Workers can watch multiple (or all) tags

Don’t retry failed jobs

Don’t “release” failed jobs

Source

December 20th, 2012

In Technology

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The declining quality of Ruby programmers

10 years ago, Ruby was still somewhat new to the world, and the programmers who discovered it and promoted were of a very high caliber. But Ruby has gone mainstream now, and it now attracts a large percentage of mediocre programmers. Thus, I am not terribly surprised to read about Ruby programmers who know little about Threads:

I spoke recently at Rubyconf 2011 on some advanced topics in threading. What surprised me was how little experience people had with threads so ...

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December 20th, 2012

In Technology

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Every idea has already been tried

This interview with Bill Joy in 1984 strongly reminds me how many of the main ideas of the world of computers were foreseen very early, and how relatively slow the pace of innovation was:

REVIEW: How do you feel about vi being included in System V? JOY: I was surprised that they didn’t do it for so long. I think it killed the performance on a lot of the systems in the Labs for years because everyone had their own copy of ...

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December 19th, 2012

In Technology

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ZeroMQ solves the concurrency problem

This is eye opening:

In this article Pieter Hintjens and Martin Sustrik examine the difficulties of building concurrent (multithreaded) applications and what this means for enterprise computing. The authors argue that a lack of good tools for software designers means that neither chip vendors nor large businesses will be able to fully benefit from more than 16 cores per CPU, let alone 64 or more. They then examine an ideal solution, and explain how the ØMQ framework for concurrent software design ...

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December 19th, 2012

In Technology

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Why save Ruby? Why not use Clojure?

Tony Arcieri has a long post about how Ruby can adapt to the new multi-core, multi-threaded world we live in. He has many smart suggestions about how Ruby can be changed, but I am curious why anyone would even bother. Why not simply use Clojure? If you want a language with the advanced meta-programming of Ruby, but one that has already implemented Arcieri’s ideas (or made them irrelevant with better ideas) then the obvious solution is to use Clojure. It’s ...

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December 15th, 2012

In Business

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Talking with Flattr about Kachingle

I got into a conversation with one of the guys at Flattr. Kachingle competes against Flattr, but Flattr has had more success. The conversation is as interesting for what does not get said, as what does get said.

Source

December 15th, 2012

In Technology

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The end of the monolithic web framework

I see the same trend in the world of PHP (where Symfony 2.0 is much more broken into components than Symfony 1.0) and Rails (where integrating Merb meant breaking Rails into a series of Gems) but this trend has gone furthest in the world of Clojure. The news that Noir is now ending means that Clojure will have no monolithic framework comparable to Symfony, Rails or Django:

Chris and I discussed this last night, and we decided that it’s time to ...

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December 14th, 2012

In Technology

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The problem with Object Oriented Programming

This is amazing. Look at the documentation for Symfony routing. Now look at the documentation for routing with Moustache. The documentation for Moustache is maybe 20% of the Symfony routing documentation, and yet Moustache is vastly more flexible.

This is the problem with Object Oriented Programming: it makes a fetish of complexity. Symfony is a good example of what is wrong with this approach to programming.

Source

December 12th, 2012

In Technology

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Why Lisp macros are better than strings of code wrapped with eval

Check out this screenshot. Symfony goes a long way toward allowing a developer to auto-generate CRUD apps. But when you get some error in any of your code, the error message itself is copied to the file where your auto-generated code is suppose to enable the CRUD operations. Here a PHP ‘notice’ leads to a parse error since it gets embedded into the file.

Source

December 9th, 2012

In Business

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Derek Sivers says: it is my fault

I can imagine this might work out okay in business situations. I would not like to see this attitude carried into health issues. I’ve seen people get cancer and then blame themselves, and it struck me that they were being unfair to themselves: sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes circumstances are against us. But when dealing with people, I can imagine there is some usefulness in this philosophy:

I cut two chapters out of my book because they ...

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December 8th, 2012

In Technology

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A JConsole plugin for Clojure

First, I was reading this article on debugging Clojure:

For one really frustrating bug I had recently in the Plasma query engine, I had a thread that was running wild and I couldn’t figure out either what thread it was or where it was hanging up. For tracking down threads I’ve got a couple tools for you. First, I found this top threads jconsole plugin very helpful. It lets you see all the running threads sorted by CPU usage like unix ...

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December 8th, 2012

In Technology

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English is currently the international language of the computer programming sector

One fellow put a blog post on Github and talked about the need to offer full internationalization of Github, sort of like what Wikipedia has done. Over on Hacker News, the idea was met with a negative reception, as people suggested that English was the language that all computer programmers needed to know, at least right now in 2012:

I can understand where the github folks are coming from but it really is a thing not worth putting any effort into. ...

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December 8th, 2012

In Philosophy

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The transformation of the conflict in the MidEast

This is a fantastic post that brings together some old images, video clips and background research to offer a theory about how the conflict in the MidEast has changed over the last 60 years.

Although Nasser’s dream had failed – and he died in 1970 – the PLO and their fighters had inherited his progressive world view. Many of the groups in the PLO were left wing revolutionaries and they believed that they were not only fighting to get rid ...

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December 8th, 2012

In Technology

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What is the best system for handling errors?

I dislike try/catch blocks because I have to put them inline to the code they are handling, like this:

try { // some code } catch(exception e) { // do something with the exception }

What I want is the ability to write a function that has no try/catch block, but then, at some other place in the code, I set up an observer that watches that function for errors, and handles any errors that the function produces. ...

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December 8th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Math notation is out of date

gnaritas writes some very insightful stuff about math notation:

Which is often the problem, it looks specific, but it really isn’t; it’s full of implicit assumptions about what the reader should know. It’s not executable, because it’s a language designed for being written by hand rather than executed by a computer.

However, the teaching of math would greatly benefit from an explicit executable form that makes no assumptions, i.e. a programming language. Gerry Sussman makes this case, he’s pretty convincing.

…I heard ...

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December 8th, 2012

In Philosophy

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The smart feel it most: the temptation to overreach

Interesting:

When I decided on a scientific career, one of the things that appealed to me about science was the modesty of its practitioners. The typical scientist seemed to be a person who knew one small corner of the natural world and knew it very well, better than most other human beings living and better even than most who had ever lived. But outside of their circumscribed areas of expertise, scientists would hesitate to express an authoritative opinion. This attitude ...

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December 5th, 2012

In Technology

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Tough technological problems can not be solved as side projects

In different ways, I’ve run into this sort of simplistic thinking with many of my clients:

During grad school, I did a lot of consulting for ‘data startups’ (before ‘big data’ was a thing) and consistently ran into the same story: smart founders, usually not technical, have some idea that involves NLP or ML and they come to me to just ‘hammer out a model’ for them as a contractor. I would spend a few hours trying to get concrete ...

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December 3rd, 2012

In Technology

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The first 220 miliseconds of an HTTPS connection

This is an impressive walkthrough of an HTTPS handshake, using Wireshark to pull out the details. I did not realize that HTTPS had a session id. This undermines at least one of the arguments that Varnish was making in regards to HTTP 2.0.

Source

December 3rd, 2012

In Philosophy

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How should we organize science?

I am reading about the invention of the barometer on Wikipedia. One thing that strikes me is the accidental way that information traveled in those ways:

Galileo’s ideas reached Rome in December 1638 in his Discorsi. Raffaele Magiotti and Gasparo Berti were excited by these ideas, and decided to seek a better way to attempt to produce a vacuum than with a siphon…

…In 1646, Blaise Pascal along with Pierre Petit, had repeated and perfected Torricelli’s experiment after hearing about it ...

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December 2nd, 2012

In Business

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I would like to change the world

I can relate to this bit:

Then I lived in Portland, Oregon for 3 years. I worked every waking hour, growing CD Baby and Hostbaby. It was incredibly productive. I made some dear and deep friends worldwide, but none in Portland. I never hung out in Portland. My attention was still focused outward.

Then two years ago, when I moved to Singapore, I decided to do the opposite. I wanted to get to know my local community. I met with over ...

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December 1st, 2012

In Technology

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How do you use Friend? (Clojure has cool auth!)

This is a fantastic tutorial:

One of the most important requirements of most web apps is providing some form of authentication and authorization. And as a Ruby on Rails developer, I’ve long been accustomed to having amazingly full-featured, easily configurable open-source authentication and authorization libraries available, libraries that integrate well and provide generalized solutions. This includes libraries like Devise, Warden, CanCan, Omniauth and more. But until now Clojure hasn’t had anything remotely like this–you’d have to role your own.

However, earlier ...

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December 1st, 2012

In Technology

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How can we improve HTTP?

This is a great post by the folks at Varnish. HTTP is in desperate need of some fundamental changes, yet the proposals for HTTP 2.0 are all incremental changes on the existing standard. The best line of all is “HTTP/2.0 is really just a grandiose name for HTTP/1.2″.

Fortunately, there are many ways to improve over HTTP/1.1, which lacks support for several widely used features, and sports many trouble-causing weeds, both of which are ripe for HTTP/2.0 to pounce on.

Most notably ...

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December 1st, 2012

In Business, Philosophy

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A sad time at Kachingle

Very sad. I was working part-time at Kachingle for a month. They have decided to not pay me for the work I did in October. I notice they have not updated their App.net account since I left. The last post is the one that I posted (see screenshots below). I find that surprising, since while I was there, the only interest they got from app developers (about using the Kachingle app store) was the handful of responses that I got ...

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November 30th, 2012

In Technology

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Why do games get so much energy, and important stuff gets so little?

I am a little amazed to think about the effort some game modders make to reverse engineer a game. If this kind of effort had been expended on the human genome, we’d already have a cure for cancer:

But the full extent of what the modders had discovered was still unclear. “Our assumption at that time was that they were unused animations which were abandoned in the early development of the game,” says Wildenborg.

“There were, however, some references to these ...

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November 29th, 2012

In Business, Technology

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What will the future bring?

This is an interesting look at how things might change, and how bad the climate change might be:

The biosphere on 2512 Earth isn’t going to look much like ours. That we’re living through a great extinction event is obvious, and the level of climate change we can expect in five centuries means this will have run mostly to completion. On the other hand, it’s almost a certainty that if we’re still around in five centuries, we’ll have extensive experience ...

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November 24th, 2012

In Business

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Explaining open source to the government

Explaining open source to the government:

Asking for a five year plan is a question with a hidden assumption. What you *really* want to know is:

am I going to get stuck with a dead duck?

I think the nightmare scenario you’re trying to avoid is that you’ll get maybe 1-2 years down the line, have spent a lot of money on changing your system over to the new-fangled software, only for the Software Vendor to go bankrupt and leave you hanging in ...

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November 10th, 2012

In Business, Philosophy

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Popping pills, drinking wine

Things have changed. Here is an old video of how things used to work: a journalist drinking wine and popping pills before going on air. What a different corporate culture that must have been!

Source

November 9th, 2012

In Business

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When can you trust economic data?

Interesting:

The charge that employees at the BLS manipulated the employment numbers to favor Obama is nonsense as anyone familiar with the calculation of these numbers can attest, but it does bring up a good question. What factors should be considered when assessing the reliability of economic data?

The first thing to consider is how well a particular piece of data accords with what we are actually trying to measure. For example, the total output of goods and services in the economy ...

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November 9th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Things I did not know about childbirth

I find this surprising:

On Sept. 12, Lima gave birth to her second child and exactly eight weeks later to the day, the stunning mom walked the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show wearing nothing more than a bra and underwear.

Lima’s post-baby body transformation awed some, but her trainer insists she is just like any other mom. Well, sort of.

“Adriana’s goal is the same as every healthy woman’s, return to pre-baby shape. She sets the bar high,” Lima’s trainer, Michael Olajide Jr., told ...

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November 8th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Subtle discrimination

There math problems were used in the Soviet Union in at attempt to keep Jews out of the math department at prestigious universities.

Source

November 6th, 2012

In Business

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Managing affirmative action

What makes a good manager? Among other things, knowing how much work each worker can do. There are some interesting arguments against affirmative action, but I am wary of Sarah Siskind’s arguments.

Finally, what about intellect? Perhaps our universities are in dire need of diversity of intelligence. Counter to most stereotypes, ugliness is highly correlated with poor intellectual performance by traditional measures, though I don’t know how many qualified applicants will be willing to put that down on their ...

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November 5th, 2012

In Philosophy

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How to ruin someone’s confidence in tech

An interesting post by Tess Rinearson. Arrogance and contempt for others: 2 great ways to keep people out of tech.

It’s easy to dismiss technical entitlement. People often cite social ineptitude as a reason for unpleasant behavior in tech. But, frankly, I’m tired of that excuse. The fact is, the behavior that comes from technical entitlement is poisonous. It can really ruin someone’s introduction to computer science.

Let me frame it this way: I know logically that I’m pretty good. But I ...

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November 4th, 2012

In Technology

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Why is git so git?

Taryn East deserves a prize for this sentence:

“The more I use git, the more I miss subversion…”

Yes, indeed. Oh, yes, indeed.

Source

November 3rd, 2012

In Business

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The future of journalism

So-called “objective journalism” was never actually objective, but for awhile it had advertising, and the advertisers didn’t want to upset anyone, so the need to appear objective was strong, for almost a century. As the advertising money fades away, the illusion of objectivity also fades away. Who can fund journalism now? That’s obvious: people with some agenda to advance. Partisan journalism is the future of journalism.

Paul Krugman is upset about something the National Review said:

For those new to ...

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November 2nd, 2012

In Business

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Is a free site really free?

Who is the real user? Whoever pays tends to shape a site, regardless of the so called “real” purpose of the site.

I mentioned recently in my Sparkpeople vs fitocracy comparison, Sparkpeople have a number of UI problems, and I believe they stem from a slightly mis-matched customer-needs alignment. Ostensibly, the purpose of SP is to help people trying to lose weight. But the only money is coming in via advertising – the result? big flashy ads on every ...

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November 1st, 2012

In Philosophy

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How to build a reputation

Taryn East has a great post up about building an IT reputation. She states the problem like this:

Just rocking up with a bright new CS degree is generally not going to cut it for you. You’ll just have shown up at the door along with the other thousands of new CS graduates in your city this year. So what can you do to stand out from the crowd? To prove that you are, in fact, worth being in demand?

And ...

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October 31st, 2012

In Business

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Do experts love complexity?

There is a grain of truth in this argument, that too many Rockstar developers cause projects to fail. But I think the type that is being described here is more Journeyman than Master. I went through a phase where I wanted to experiment with novel OOP designs. I’ve since settled on a style where I try to keep apps small and simple. To me, that is true mastery.

Truth no. 3: Too many senior developers spoil the code If I ...

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October 29th, 2012

In Business

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This person does not want to work at Google

This is a great story:

In July 2010 the startup I was working for, Metaweb, was acquired by Google. I was brought in on a 1-year fixed term employment contract, since the group we were acquired into (Search) didn’t really know what to do with a technical community manager. I attempted to transfer my role over to Developer Relations, but was told that I “wasn’t technical enough” for the job I’d been doing for 3+ years, presumably because I didn’t have ...

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October 29th, 2012

In Technology

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There is nothing painless about git

But some feel that merges can be painless. Good luck.

Source

October 29th, 2012

In Technology

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The problem with Javascript

The worst thing about Javascript is that when a callback has been registered on an element, it is damn hard to find where that callback was registered. Thus you can change an element and thus break Javascript, never knowing that there was Javascript depending on that element, or you can see an action being called on an element, but you can not find where the call is coming from. Taryn East registers her concerns:

WHAT ARE THE DOWN SIDES?

Well – lets ...

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October 29th, 2012

In Technology

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Hardware to give IP packets priority

Damn clever.

Let’s use your example – you have a fantastic router with DD-WRT and the best QoS in the world. Your router detects a high #1 priority packet and places it at the top of the egress queue so that the high priority packet immediately exits the router at the “front of the line.” Wonderful! Next, the high priority packet immediately enters the “end of the line” of the modem’s single adaptive rate buffer (ARB). Well, modems have no idea ...

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October 28th, 2012

In Business

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Poor Facebook

The Facebook IPO invites endless speculation. And yet, if there was fraud, what was the fraud? I’ve been waiting for years for someone to tell me how Facebook will make money. No one has ever said “Facebook has a the secret X technology with which it can make $1.2 trillion dollars.” There has been no obvious fraud. What I have seen is a lot of self-induced euphoria, followed by hysteria. Facebook is like the girl who becomes wildly popular ...

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October 28th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Troubled teen?

These parents were worried that their 16 year old son was suicidal and a danger to himself. They called the police. They were hoping 1 car would show up and help them talk to their kid. Instead, a whole army of police showed up and a sniper shot the kid — the worst possible outcome was achieved by calling the police.

In the minutes prior to his death, Andrew asked the negotiator he was speaking with to put his father ...

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October 22nd, 2012

In Technology

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Who is logged in?

I got my “Who is logged in?” app running. I am still learning how concise Clojure can be. Aaron Cohen described one of my functions as “too ugly to live”. He gave some good advice about making the code simpler. I still need to add a check on the PHP sessions to be sure they are valid, but in every other way this app seems to be working. (I have it running on the TMA server right now.)

Here is my ...

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October 18th, 2012

In Technology

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Git is awful

This is so true:

Git doesn’t so much have a leaky abstraction as no abstraction. There is essentially no distinction between implementation detail and user interface. It’s understandable that an advanced user might need to know a little about how features are implemented, to grasp subtleties about various commands. But even beginners are quickly confronted with hideous internal details. In theory, there is the “plumbing” and “the porcelain” – but you’d better be a plumber to know how to work the ...

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October 17th, 2012

In Philosophy

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A virus inside of a virus

Very terrible things get into our eyes:

In July of last year, researchers in France described a rather disturbing example of what could happen if you’re not careful about cleaning your contact lenses. A 17-year-old patient had been wearing monthly lenses well past their expiration date, and rinsing them with a cleaning solution she’d diluted with tap water. The end result was an eye infection. Luckily, a bit of care managed to clear it up.

In the meantime, the people who treated ...

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October 16th, 2012

In Technology

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The bubble sort is awful

I did not know any of this:

Shaker Sort

Bubble sort has been around a long time, and people have tried to hack it into something more efficient. One attempt at this is shaker sort. In shaker sort, there are two “bubble_sweep”s that alternate. One shifts large elements right as we did above, and the other shifts small elements left (the opposite of what we did above).

Shaker sort still takes time, but is more efficient than a naive bubble sort in ...

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October 16th, 2012

In Business

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There is no free market

I think it is funny when people say stuff like “the free market will decide which company is best” or “the free market will determine what a worker’s salary should be”. But there is no free market. Plato said that humans are fundamentally political, and politics plays a large role in shaping every market:

This manager was forcing Americans to get in line for jobs behind “landed resources” from IBM India. In case you are wondering — yes, this is illegal. ...

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October 15th, 2012

In Technology

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Math for sorts, and statements about computational constants which are not time

This is the only article I’ve read that makes sense of the math for me. I especially like the point that we are not talking about time, when we say stuff like “The BubbleSort has a bad worst case scenario.” We are actually talking about computations, and we are only talking about time implicitly, to the extent that we have in our heads an implicit computational model in which the time to do some action, such as comparing 2 keys, ...

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October 15th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Nothing sexist

Kathy Sierra never saw a single incident of sexism during her career, until:

But… But… But… then THIS happened:

I was given a diagnosis of being “on the spectrum*. And in one shocking moment, I reviewed my entire history through a new (more accurate) lens and realized that I was living in a slightly out-of -phase world. A world where I wouldn’t – couldn’t – recognize what was all around me. Asperger’s – in my one, personal, case (the only one I ...

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September 30th, 2012

In Technology

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Maybe Immutant?

I am tired of learning new technology. All the same, Immutant seems like it packs a lot of supporting features in for stuff like Clojure apps.

Source

September 30th, 2012

In Philosophy

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I can not say anything on Facebook

I have deleted everyone on Facebook was is not a current relationship of mine. Friends from high school, who I have not seen in 20 years, are all gone now, all de-friended. Ex-boyfriends of female friends, and ex-girlfriends of my male friends, are all gone now. I’ve managed to get my list of “friends” down to 110 people. This is family, current friends, people I work with, plus a few semi-current friends, who I’ve only seen once in the last ...

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September 26th, 2012

In Business

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The problem hiring software developers

The problems with finding software engineers. I have run into this. I did 4 rounds of interviews of at a startup in NYC, and they clearly liked me, yet they were afraid of hiring me because maybe I had some secret flaw. Then I got hired somewhere else. I wrote to tell them that I’d gotten hired somewhere else. They wrote back and sounded somewhat bitter that I had not chosen them. But of course, they had it backwards: ...

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September 24th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Gender bias in science

Identical resumes were given to researchers, the only difference being that sometimes the person represented by the resume was sometimes given a male name, sometimes a female name. The researchers then rated the resumes, giving worse results to the same resume, if it had a female name attached, rather than a male name.

1) Both male and female scientists were equally guilty of committing the gender bias. Yes – women can behave in ways that are sexist, too. Women need ...

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September 23rd, 2012

In Philosophy

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Who am I without sleep?

It is terrifying how much I change without sleep. Some sleep deprivation is good for me: when I get a lot of sleep, I become hyper creative, to the point where I daydream too much and don’t work enough. Mild sleep deprivation cuts back on the daydreaming. And if I go one night with 3 hours of sleep or less I tend to get one day where I am strangely sharp and lucid. But if I go 2 nights like ...

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September 19th, 2012

In Business

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Social sites: who wins?

What sort of maker wins in the long run?

I read the transcripts, all very fascinating. Aaron’s focus is on building stuff whereas Mark’s is human interaction- Aaron focuses on products and consulting whereas Mark was already thinking big picture about social. Aaron seems more ambitious than almost anyone and Mark seems 10x even more ambitious than that. Even if Aaron is the superior engineer, Mark is the superior psychologist. Vision and navigation of systems constructed by humans turns out to be ...

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September 16th, 2012

In Business

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When freemium works

The question is simple: do you have something that at least some of your users will be willing to pay for? And is it obvious what should be free and what should be for pay? There are a lot of successful companies that have a freemium model. However, they all struggle with the fact that percentage of users who upgrade to a paid version is small:

While the millions of free HootSuite users may be incredibly demanding on the company’s services, ...

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September 14th, 2012

In Technology

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Community matters: PHP versus Clojure

Look at the documentation for Korma.

Now look at the documentation for Doctrine.

Doctrine looks terrifying. It looks like a Java API run amok. Korma is so simple and clear it is like a poem.

Some of this difference is the difference of language. But I think some of it, too, is the culture of each community.

Source

September 13th, 2012

In Technology

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Who is logged in?

As part of the chat software I am building, I need to know who is logged in. I’ve built a small Clojure app that will take requests from Javascript and store user info in maps inside an atom called “registry”. As yet there is no security check, but I will eventually add a check of the PHP session info stored in /var/lib/php5. Here is the core of the app, everything is working except for the PHP session check:

(ns who-is-allowed-to-vote.core ...

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September 13th, 2012

In Technology

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Rails has lost something

Tony of Unlimited Novelty has posted a very long defense of Rails which fails to defend Rails. When I read this essay, I thought “Rails is a strong framework with many interesting features, but it is no longer the source of cutting edge ideas.”

Jose Valim, (now former) Rails core member, published a small, simple gist illustrating how to build barebones apps on ActionController::Metal (one of the most forked gists I’ve ever seen) which is further documented in his book ...

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September 13th, 2012

In Technology

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The advantage of light frameworks

I just ended 4 years where all I ever got to do was work with big frameworks, either PHP/Symfony or Ruby On Rails. Now I want to get away from big frameworks — I am tired of the unneeded ceremony for doing simple things. And that’s why I’ve enjoyed building small apps in Clojure, using only the components that I feel like using (maybe some Ring, maybe some Moustache). This is interesting since this almost exactly the same language I’ve ...

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September 12th, 2012

In Technology

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Node.js can not compete with Jetty

An interesting, sideways argument for Clojure:

A single thread is only able to utilize one CPU. Even though most web apps are initially I/O bound, at some point programmers somehow manage to make them CPU bound (such as marshaling and wrangling JSON and XML). This will limit the scalability on the single process. In order to scale beyond 1 core, two possibilities exist. Right now, one would need to launch one node.js process per core, and then setup a load balancer. ...

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September 12th, 2012

In Business

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big companies are interesting

My friend Mark sent me this:

big companies are interesting.. both disney and nielsen never told me i passed the background check required to be hired… i asked both the day before the start date if everything was ok for tomorrow, neither answered and i just showed up.. i worked at this place marketnews.com for two weeks waiting for the start date at nielsen to see if anything would happen…

dig this hw i did for a condenast interview.. (it “had to” be *zip, in my defense)… the ...

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September 12th, 2012

In Philosophy

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When will you die?

Interesting:

But what do these numbers actually mean? You might guess from the first that someone born in the United States in 2009 could be expected to live about 78.5 years. This is not the case! It actually measures how long someone would be expected to live if every year of their life was spent in 2009. In other words, there is no accounting for progress that decreases mortality rates. And that’s on purpose. It is what is known as a ...

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September 12th, 2012

In Technology

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The problems with scrum

This matches my own experience with scrum:

Iteration planning meetings are seriously expensive. Group discussion around design, group estimation, group acceptance, all highly inefficient. These meetings are helpful when the team has problems with commitments or trust, but otherwise, these meetings require a lot of time and are very, very expensive.

I remember just getting bored to tears listening to discussions around stories I wasn’t developing on to begin with. Eventually, we had to ask the question, “are these meetings providing the ...

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September 11th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Editors are parasites

On community sites, the folks who like to edit other people’s work tend to be the kinds of people who prefer to manage other people rather than do work. When there is no filter on who becomes an editor, the problem can sink a community.

I was a frequent contributor to StackOverflow [2] but have largely stopped for a number of reasons, the most important of which is I got a new job that took up much more of my time. But ...

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September 11th, 2012

In Technology

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Maybe prime numbers have a pattern?

I have always been confused by prime numbers. Why are they so random? I would be pleased if there turned out to be some pattern in them. Apparently, there may in fact be a pattern:

Mathematician Shinichi Mochizuki of Kyoto University in Japan has released a 500-page proof of the abc conjecture, which proposes a relationship between whole numbers — a ‘Diophantine’ problem.

The abc conjecture, proposed independently by David Masser and Joseph Oesterle in 1985, might not be as familiar to ...

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September 11th, 2012

In Business

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If Asia no longer leads economic growth, who will?

There was a stretch from about 1750 to 1932 when the Western nations, and their colonies, were the fastest growing nations on Earth. Since 1932, the fastest growing countries have been Asian. Is there any chance this 80 trend is coming to an end? There is some evidence that China has reached a point where it would need vast political and cultural change to continue with its growth. It is possible that India will emerge as the great new growth ...

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September 11th, 2012

In Technology

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What does Ring and Moustache give me?

Or rather, in what form? A map? A vector? Curious, I printed it out:

(defn current-users [request] (let [this-users-params (:params request)] (add-to-logged-in-registry this-users-params) (remove-old-registrants) (response (apply str @registry this-users-params request))))

I got the following, which is perhaps somewhat surprising. especially surprising is the first, where I’m being told I have a LazySeq, rather than seeing what is inside of it. I suppose I have to force its evaluation.

I am still new to Clojure and its ecosystem. I ...

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September 10th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Mental traps that afflict the ambitious

Back in 2008 I thought Paul Krugman was insane. The USA was facing a crisis caused by too much debt, and Krugman said the answer to this was to issue more debt. The argument was counter-intuitive, to an extreme degree. However, it wasn’t the first time Krugman had said something crazy. In 1994 he had said the growth of the “4 Tigers” in Asia would have to end soon, and in 1997 he was proven right. Given the blazing speed ...

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September 10th, 2012

In Technology

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Namespaces in Clojure are confusing

So far I have enjoyed working with Clojure, but I still get confused by name spaces, for the reasons listed here:

One aspect of Clojure that I have not been quite happy with is namespace management. In a bigger project that consists of several namespaces, I usually end up having nearly identical :use and :require clauses in the initial ns form. These clauses set up the project-specific set of symbols that I want to work with. Individual namespaces sometimes add symbols ...

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September 10th, 2012

In Technology

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How to run shell commands in the background

I have already linked to some interesting shell scripts that launch Java apps. But this is the simplest way to get a Java app up and running from the command line:

Here is how you would need to execute your script/command in order to completely detach it from your session:

sh my_command.sh /dev/null 2>&1 &

Explanation: I have color-coded the command to emphasize the distinct portions of the command. The firsts part (gray) is your unmodified, naked command. The next ...

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September 10th, 2012

In Technology

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Hash data to find duplicates

This is a very cool algorithm:

Cardinality estimation algorithms like the ones we’ve just discussed make it possible to get a very good estimate – within a few percent – of the total number of unique values in a dataset, typically using less than a kilobyte of state. We can do this regardless of the nature of the data, and the work can be distributed over multiple machines with minimum coordination overhead and data transfer. The resulting estimates can be ...

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September 9th, 2012

In Philosophy

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How to prove slander correct

If your daughter says you are selfish, and you sue her in court for having said that, then you have proved her case. This is truly a case that can not be won.

The Madisons say they’re totally the best parents ever, — loving, supportive, you know, all the good adjectives that parents are supposed to have hardwired into their behavior — which is part of the reason they’re taking their daughter to court, to prove how supportive they are. ...

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September 6th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Luck Enemy Rejection Hate But

Inc magazine is critical of my 5 favorite words. I used to subscribe to Inc, the paper version, 15 years ago, but the magazine no longer impresses me. The article I’m linking to is especially bad. Anyone who espouses pop-psych New Age mumbo jumbo is an enemy of mine, and I really hate the way no evidence is given for this assertion:

Hate is a sick word, and it creates sickness in your body. Every time you use that word, you ...

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September 3rd, 2012

In Business

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The first penny problem

This is very true:

“It is just as hard to get a potential customer to pay one penny as it is to pay $10. I like to call it the ‘First Cent Syndrome.’ If you, as a consumer, are used to getting something free, you are even more reluctant to pay for that thing. The goal is to overcome the hurdles to getting that first cent, that first penny. Once you are able to get it, you have made the initial, ...

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September 2nd, 2012

In Technology

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Pragmatism is hated

Should Sparta surrender to Athens and thus survive to fight another day, perhaps when Persia decides to subsidize its war? Should we give up our dignity and get by with what we can in the present moment? Should we give up on a pure Lisp and use a bastardize version? These are the questions that have haunted humanity since the beginning of time (circa 1958).

Loper is not happy:

Clojure is the False Lisp, which Reeketh of the Cube Farm. ...

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September 2nd, 2012

In Philosophy

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Finite field math in the Romney speech

Some people have been puzzled about this part of Romney’s speech:

His trillion dollar cuts to our military will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, and also put our security at greater risk;

His $716 billion cut to Medicare to finance Obamacare will both hurt today’s seniors, and depress innovation – and jobs – in medicine.

And his trillion-dollar deficits will slow our economy, restrain employment, and cause wages to stall.

Some people wonder how government spending cuts can destroy jobs in the ...

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September 1st, 2012

In Business, Technology

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Where did all the programmers go?

Money. There seems to be some confusion so I will repeat the point:

Money

Money

Money

If you want more programmers, pay more, either for quantity or quality.

There are other factors — it takes 10 years to grow a good programmer. Mostly it requires 10 years of money, but good management helps, and bad management can chase some people from the field, even when the money is good. (Bad management might include arbitrary rules, favoritism, burnout demands, sexism, racism, non-merit based elitism, ...

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September 1st, 2012

In Philosophy

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Spoiled children are geniuses

I like this:

Most people here are saying that the students were clearly in the wrong. “Lack intellectual curiosity and character”. “spoiled children”. I don’t agree at all. Aside from the formal rules, smart people pick up on which rules can be broken safely. In fact, knowing which rules in life you should break and which rules you should follow is probably a critical factor for success in life. Jaywalking is illegal in most (all?) US cities, but in many it’s ...

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September 1st, 2012

In Philosophy

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A culture that respects argument

I often argue against things that I’m in favor of. In my mind, this is a way of thinking things through. Sometimes a friend will suggest something that I agree with, but I argue against it to think about the edge cases. My friend then assumes I am against their idea.

I find it amusing that, on the PHP internals mailing list, RFCs will be heavily “debated” (i.e., argued) about, and you’d think from reading it everyone hates something. Then it ...

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September 1st, 2012

In Technology

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What do you really need as a programmer

There is a kind of clarity in a model that simplifies things this much.

What I have found to be useful is to have a set of things that are fairly constant across time, space, and the varying landscape of languages and frameworks. I was recently having an exchange about language choices, and came to the conclusion that there are a couple of things that have been constant for me over the past 25 years of programming.

1) Need a ...

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September 1st, 2012

In Philosophy

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End of the 2nd Wave feminist generation

Shulamith Firestone is dead. Her whole generation is passing away, into the history books.

Subtitled “The Case for Feminist Revolution,” “The Dialectic of Sex” was published by William Morrow & Company in 1970. In it, Ms. Firestone extended Marxist theories of class oppression to offer a radical analysis of the oppression of women, arguing that sexual inequity springs from the onus of childbearing, which devolves on women by pure biological happenstance.

“Just as the end goal of socialist revolution was not ...

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August 31st, 2012

In Philosophy

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Flynn says the Flynn effect is because we get abstraction now

Are we getting smarter? Flynn says not at birth, but instead, we are getting more abstract.

In the 20th century, greater ­educational possibilities combined with technological advances introduced abstract thought into daily life. It takes, for example, a high degree of abstract thinking to operate a mobile phone or computer. People became better at IQ tests and, steadily, the scores rose. So IQ scores are meaningless unless their date and social norms are taken into account. This leads to Flynn’s ...

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August 29th, 2012

In Technology

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Software is not compatible if developers do not want to be compatible

Why did Linux not take off on the desktop?

The attitude of our community was one of engineering excellence: we do not want deprecated code in our source trees, we do not want to keep broken designs around, we want pure and beautiful designs and we want to eliminate all traces of bad or poorly implemented ideas from our source code trees.

And we did.

We deprecated APIs, because there was a better way. We removed functionality because “that approach is broken”, ...

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August 29th, 2012

In Business

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The end of the social contract in the tech industry

These are boom times for programmers and some of them are being greedy about making money while the money is good. I think there is at least one justification for this behavior: the corporations are even worse, and the corporations set the norms for the industry. If the corporations are going to be short-sided and greedy, then the programmers should do so as well. Indeed, it might be economic suicide for them not to.

Cringely has a great post about ...

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August 29th, 2012

In Technology

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I did not know this:

Modular arithmetic keeps our numbers bounded, which solves our first problem, while also making our attacker’s life more difficult: finding a preimage for one of our hashes now requires solving the discrete log problem, a major unsolved problem in mathematics, and the foundation for several cryptosystems.

Apparently it is difficult to reverse-engineer stuff stored modulo, unless you know the modulo.

Off topic but I find myself wondering if DNA and RNA use a finite field system ...

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August 29th, 2012

In Business

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The Great Stagnation might be permanent

The period from 1973 to now is the Great Stagnation, a period when economic growth slowed and technological innovation stalled. Robert J. Gordon has a new paper up suggesting that the end of economic growth may be permanent.

This paper raises basic questions about the process of economic growth. It questions the assumption, nearly universal since Solow’s seminal contributions of the 1950s, that economic growth is a continuous process that will persist forever. There was virtually no growth before 1750, ...

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August 26th, 2012

In Business

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Facebook hires Gehry to build a new office

I am usually suspicious of a company that hires a famous architect to build a fancy office. Surely the money could go to something more important? But when your workers are creative types, the office building becomes a statement about why they should want to work with you. Also, I generally trust those companies that are still run by their founders.

Saying Gehry designs “awesome” buildings is easy. His designs are so different (from the norm, not each other) that they ...

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August 24th, 2012

In Business

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The Great Stagnation is reflected, not healed, by the current crop of startups

In terms of economic growth, in the West, the period since 1973 has been a pale shadow of the transformation seen from 1870 to 1970. Tyler Cowen call these last 40 years The Great Stagnation. Others have commented on this trend, or rather, the absence of any trend. Since 1980, clothes have stayed about the same, hair styles have stayed about the same, music has stayed about the same, and technology has been moving in slow motion, compared to the ...

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August 24th, 2012

In Technology

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Emacs will get you coffee in the morning

I keep learning new things about Emacs. I just learned about Hexlify by accident, as someone was writing about imitating it in Clojure.

Source

August 24th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Everything is evolution

Just a reminder: every emotion that a person feels is an emotion that was facilitated by millions of years of evolution. Every thought or action that anyone can ever undertake is normative under the natural selection theory of evolutionary change. Reality dictates to the theory, the theory is not allowed to dictate to reality.

I am always surprised when people note a failure of their theory and they blame reality, rather than blaming the theory:

From an evolutionary point of ...

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August 24th, 2012

In Business

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Pushing against stone

Sisyphus was a student of the dysfunctional misdirection that seems to frequently grow up in large organizations (or is that, in all human interaction?)

This is a type of situation I’ve run into as well:

I showed up on the team and immediately started questioning my sanity. For the first couple of days I thought maybe there was something dreadfully wrong with me, since none of it made any sense. Their goals were simple enough (run a bunch of tests ...

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August 19th, 2012

In Business

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Blogs are how the elite talk to each other

Blogging has changed. When it started, circa 2000, there were so few people doing that you could get to know just about anyone who wrote for a larger audience than their friends. It was democratic. Anyone could get started and build a name for themselves quickly. That era is over. The big blogs now are run by big businesses or people who are important in some industry or niche.

For the tech world, blogs circa 2000-2006 were a way the ...

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August 19th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Learning forces forgetting

I think the technical term, that psychologists use, is “interference”?

Lately I’ve been worried about how much I’ve been forgetting. The names of movie stars and singers in particular. The other day I couldn’t remember the name of the guy that Katie Holmes was married to (or had been). I could remember all of his movies, but I couldn’t get his name. Then I recalled his first name as “Tom”, but it took me the whole day to remember his ...

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August 19th, 2012

In Philosophy

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The dangers of posting anywhere other than your own site

I feel this way, strongly. I don’t write on Twitter, and I limit my use of Facebook. I try to keep all of my writing on sites I control. Mostly, I don’t want to lose everything, and I want to be able to find it later.

It needs to be said again, perhaps this time more strongly. Your Blog is The Engine of Community. Dammit.

Blog More

You are not blogging enough. You are pouring your words into increasingly closed and often ...

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August 19th, 2012

In Business

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Read to lead

Interesting:

Business people seem to be reading less — particularly material unrelated to business. But deep, broad reading habits are often a defining characteristic of our greatest leaders and can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness.

Note how many business titans are or have been avid readers. According to The New York Times, Steve Jobs had an “inexhaustible interest” in William Blake; Nike founder Phil Knight so reveres his library that in it you have to take off your shoes and ...

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August 19th, 2012

In Business

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fight as if you are right, and listen as if you are wrong

Interesting:

I suspect that a lot more of you have heard of Brad Bird than Bob Taylor — but Taylor probably has had a bigger influence on your life. The researchers he funded and guided in the 1960s developed, among other things, ARPANET, the forerunner to the Internet. In Dealers of Lightning, author Michael Hiltzik depicts how Taylor conducted meetings among the super-smart people whose research his group at the U.S. Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) funded:

The daily discussions ...

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August 19th, 2012

In Business

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Rage, sorrow, fear, doubt

Short term emotions last a long time:

I said that Eduardo and I wondered if past emotions influence future actions, but, really, we worried about it. If we were right, and recklessly poor emotional decisions guide later “rational” moments, well, then, we’re not terribly sophisticated decision makers, are we?

To test the idea, we needed to observe some emotional decisions. So we annoyed some people, by showing them a five-minute clip from the movie Life as a House, in which an ...

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August 17th, 2012

In Business

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Twitter is the new Technorati

I remember circa 2006 writing to Technorati about their API. They had a link that said, “If you would like to use our API commercially, please contact us.” I wrote to that address a dozen times, then I tracked down personal emails of some of the folks at Technorati and sent them emails as well. I never heard a word back from Technorati. They seemed to have no interest in taking money from developers who wanted to pay them. And ...

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August 17th, 2012

In Philosophy

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You can win the Prisoner’s Dilemma

Amazing:

The new approach is called the zero determinant strategy (because it involves the process of setting a mathematical object called a determinant to zero).

It turns out that the tit-for-tat approach is a special case of the zero determinant strategy: the player using this strategy determines that the other player’s time in jail is equal to theirs. But there are a whole set of other strategies that make the other player spend far more time in jail (or far less ...

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August 16th, 2012

In Technology

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A comprehensive Emacs customization

I need to go back and study this guy’s setup. I’ve taken baby steps to customizing my Emacs, but he is deep into this stuff.

Source

August 16th, 2012

In Philosophy

No Comments

The Wind

This is a surprisingly good silent film, from 1928. Lillian Gish does a fantastic job of communicating her growing madness. The movie has an almost sci-fi feel, because the wind never, ever stops. I don’t think there is any place on Earth where the wind is really like that, but damn, it was dramatic.

Source

August 14th, 2012

In Philosophy

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How you eat your corn determines your math interests

Interesting:

Back when I was in grad school there was a department lunch with corn on the cob. Partway through the meal one of the analysts looked around the room and remarked, “That’s odd, all of the analysts are eating corn one way and the algebraists are eating corn another!” Everyone looked around. In fact everyone was eating the corn in one of two ways. One way was to munch over the length of the corn in a straight line, ...

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August 10th, 2012

In Technology

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I hate Google Chrome

I had 40 windows open, some of which had been open for several months (projects I had abandoned but that I planned to get back to). I quit Chrome. I restarted, expecting to see 40 windows open up. No dice. Only one window opened. I started doing research, feeling more and more panic as I went. Apparently Chrome does not support any kind of session restore. You have to install some kind of plugin.

I hate Google Chrome. It’s just ...

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August 6th, 2012

In Philosophy

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This is a great article about why politicians in Washington accept mass unemployment.:

In the years since the collapse of 2008, the existence of mass unemployment has stopped being something the economic powers that be even pretend to regard as a crisis. To those directly impacted, the economic crisis is an emergency, a life-altering disaster the damage from which will endure for years. But most of those in a position to address it simply have not seen it in such ...

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July 30th, 2012

In Business

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My resume

Recruiters on LinkedIn keep asking for my resume. I’m not sure why, since all my info is already up there on LinkedIn. I mean, that is what LinkedIn is for, right? And yet, recruiters keep telling me that my resume needs to be in Microsoft Word format. I think LinkedIn should offer a “convert to Word” button, so recruiters could just convert the info I’ve uploaded, and get it in some resume template that LinkedIn designs. LinkedIn could even standardized ...

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July 25th, 2012

In Technology

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An incredible story about Clojure

Worth reading:

60,000% growth in 7 months using Clojure and AWS

Source

July 19th, 2012

In Technology

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In Clojure, what is the difference between ‘map’ and ‘apply’?

Words of wisdom from Mark Rathwell :

map is mapping the specified function to each element in the collection, one at a time, and returning a collection of the results. apply is calling the function once, but with all elements in the collection as the arguments and returning the result of that one function call.

Source

July 18th, 2012

In Business

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Peter Agelasto in trouble again?

I heard a rumor that Peter Agelasto, of monkeyclaus and Bluewall and iHanuman, is in trouble again.

Has he finally run out of money? And no more innocent investors to tap?

Source

July 16th, 2012

In Technology

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Easy XML handling with Clojure

Interesting article.

Source

July 16th, 2012

In Technology

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A Clojure function with 70 lines of code

This is an interesting look at the stylistic decisions that other programmers make. I see here a function with 70 lines of code. That seems very large for Clojure. I also see 24 atoms, which introduces a lot of mutability into a Clojure project. I don’t say any of this as a criticism. I’m a noob when it comes to Clojure. I say all this only to record my own surprise at the different styles that programmers adopt, even with ...

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July 12th, 2012

In Technology

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Good engineers are hard to find, obscure languages are not a hindrance

So true:

The “hiring” problem One thing that always pops up in discussions about somewhat marginal languages is the hiring aspect, and the fear that you won’t be able to find people if you “lock” yourself in a language decision that strays from the usual suspects. My experience is that when you tackle big problems, that go beyond simple execution but require actual strong engineers, hiring will be a problem, there’s just no way around it. Choosing people that fit your ...

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July 11th, 2012

In Technology

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How to convert from Propel to Doctrine

This is a great discussion:

1. While it’s true that Doctrine has Table classes rather than Peer classes, you can continue to follow the convention of putting static methods in the Table classes if you feel like it, and this will save you some time. You can also write non-static methods, which is handy because you can create a query conveniently with $this->createQuery(). If you take that approach, the calling code should use Doctrine::getTable(‘modelClassName’)->getAllWiggles() to call those methods, rather than modelClassNameTable::getAllWiggles(). 2. In most ways writing queries with ...

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July 11th, 2012

In Technology

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Support of Unicode is terrible

Why do people think that UTF8 is easy? Why has it become standard? Isn’t it clear that having to guess what a character might be, having to run a complicated algorithm to figure out what character one is looking at, is going to be difficult? Computers are powerful nowadays, RAM is cheap, harddrives are cheaper. Why don’t we switch to a system in which there is no guessing? In which we simply know that every character is 4 bytes long, ...

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July 8th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Lana Del Ray is happy in the song “Video Games”

Alanis Morissette, Liz Phair, Pink and others, would never write a song of pure devotion, a song that focused only on the good, a song devoid of the emotional heartache of romance. I have to wonder if folks listen to Lana Del Ray while under the influence of those other singers, and they hear things in Lana Del Ray’s songs that Alanis Morissette, Liz Phair, Pink, and others, would have put there. But the thing is, Lana Del Ray’s songs ...

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July 8th, 2012

In Technology

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A black triangle

So true:

What she later came to realize (and explain to others) was that the black triangle was a pioneer. It wasn’t just that we’d managed to get a triangle onto the screen. That could be done in about a day. It was the journey the triangle had taken to get up on the screen. It had passed through our new modeling tools, through two different intermediate converter programs, had been loaded up as a complete database, and been rendered through ...

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July 7th, 2012

In Technology

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My old work was not bad

In 2006, still a journeyman as a programmer, I felt insecure about the quality of the code I’d written. So when stuff like WordPress and Symfony came along, I was willing to give up on my CMS and the framework underneath it. But now I’m going back and looking at and I realize I made several architectural decisions that were very smart, and the design was very good and extremely flexible. In retrospect, I wish we’d released this as open-source ...

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July 5th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Is this feminist?

A scene I saw in New York City yesterday (this was on 72nd street and 11th Ave, not long after the Macy’s fireworks show had stopped):

A young girl, about 8 or 9 years old, is riding a push scooter, like this one:

Nearby, there is a boy, either 11 or 12 years old, probably her brother.

The girl takes a turn too tight and loses control of the scooter. She falls hard, on one arm and, I think, her head hitting ...

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June 26th, 2012

In Technology

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Emacs regular expressions

I post this here for future reference for myself.

Source

June 26th, 2012

In Business

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37 Signals does A/B testing for Basecamp and gets very different results

Very interesting:

Designers, you’ve been in critiques where Clients, Art Directors, Creative Directors, Project Managers, Copywriters, Executive Assistants, and other Designers have picked apart your work. You listened with agony when they questioned your choice of this shade of red or this typeface. You winced when they said that photograph wasn’t “right”. Your vision is already changing based on a series of opinions!

Next time say, “I hear your concern about the shade of red. Why don’t we test that? I ...

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June 26th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Old classic nude paintings with Photoshop retouching

Here is the description:

In her Venus project, Italian artist Anna Utopia Giordano remixes some of the most celebrated nudes of art history, giving them an extreme Photoshop makeover. Essentially, she turns the icons of beauty of bygone centuries into the breasty waifs currently mass-marketed as ideal in today’s society. She asks, “What would have happened if the aesthetic standard of our society had belonged to the collective unconscious of the great artists of the past?” The results are stark and ...

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June 25th, 2012

In Technology

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What is the problem with Object Oriented Programming?

OOP is bad:

OO idioms and practices encourage coupling. For example, in Java, if you want behavior you are forced to create a class. In OO instruction classes are often introduced as containers of state. So it’s no surprise that in OO systems you typically find data and behavior mashed together. For example:

class Person { private String firstName, lastName; ...

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June 25th, 2012

In Business

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What causes burnout?

In the early days of Google Marissa Mayer worked 130 hours a week.

Source

June 22nd, 2012

In Philosophy

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The intimidated Fed

Interesting:

The intimidated Fed: The minimal action — extending Operation Twist — wasn’t just inadequate, it was shameful. The Fed has a dual mandate, employment and price stability. Its own projections show high unemployment persisting for years and years, inflation running below its target — and realistically its inflation projections are too high while its unemployment projections are too low. There is no rational argument I can see for not going all out with monetary stimulus.

But what we actually got was ...

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June 22nd, 2012

In Philosophy

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Learning versus fear of the new

Good point here:

Source

June 22nd, 2012

In Technology

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What changes should be allowed in PHP?

This is an interesting exchange:

[2010-01-08 21:51 UTC] endosquid at endosquid dot com

This is going to cause us MONTHS or fixing code for no real benefit since this behavior change is arbitrary and seemingly, was made for no reason. We are all engineers and developershere, and can’t seem to get the reasoning behind returning NULL when a number is called for in the return.

It’s not a number definition, but FORMATTING. How do you format nothing in the numerical system? ...

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June 19th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Gamers and women

Rather surprising reaction from a PR person to female journalist:

It happened during one of my first appointments of the show, a half hour I’d booked to check out the sequel to a well-known military shooter franchise. I’d checked into the publisher’s booth as media and had been told to wait at a computer for the next available PR person to assist me.

So I sat down, fingers falling perfectly across the keyboard. Before me, yellow grass swayed in the wind, and ...

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June 19th, 2012

In Technology

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What is wrong with PHP

I’m actually writing about what is wrong with imperative programming in general (compared with what you get from meta-programming). The issue is the verbose nature of the code. Consider: Jonathan Wage is a fantastic programmer, and Doctrine is one of the best open source projects in the whole of the PHP eco-system. So this is the best we can hope for: The More with symfony book — Advanced Doctrine Usage.

If ceremony in code is bad, then consider how much ceremony there ...

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June 12th, 2012

In Business

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Why worker democracy could never work

This is why worker democracy will never work:

Of course if you’re a catering company for weddings, chicken and rice might be the way to go! After all, no one goes to weddings for the food, so your primary goal is to piss off as few of the 300 guests as possible. Come to think of it, chicken and rice does seem to be popular at those sorts of functions…

But this isn’t a strategy for startups. Little companies need a ...

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June 6th, 2012

In Technology

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Emacs and Clojure on a Mac

Another good tutorial

Source

May 6th, 2012

In Business

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Germany versus Italy: what is the difference in their economy?

This is brilliant:

The line is that Germany has made it easy for firms to hire and fire (while gradfathering the job security protection for the middle class middle aged). That this explains why their economy is performing so differently from those of Spain and Italy, but it is a high price in solidarity to pay for low unemployment.

Nonsense

I live in Italy and I am totally unconvinced by the premise of the essay. Italy is full of contract workers (though not ...

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May 3rd, 2012

In Philosophy

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Facing death alone

What a sad story:

There was a time in my life twenty years ago when I was driving a cab for a living.

Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a rolling confessional. Passengers would climb in, sit behind me in total anonymity and tell me of their lives.

And none of those lives touched me more than that of a woman I picked up late on a warm August night.

…I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex ...

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May 2nd, 2012

In Technology

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Creating standards is hard work

This sounds exhausting and tedious. It’s also incredible Kent M. Pitman was working on the Lisp standard for at least 10 years. He was new to formal standards processes in 1986, his book was published 10 years later, in 1996. That is a long time for a story to unfold.

5.2 Early Politics and Posturing Never having been part of a formal standards process, I didn’t quite know what to expect. The very fact that there are a lot ...

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May 1st, 2012

In Business

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Why do online communities such as Quora decline in quality?

This seems like a reliable pattern, which makes the whole question of how to solve it that much more interesting.

Great things never last I saw Quora’s potential early on — it could have been a giant repository of information, a kind of interactive encyclopedia with views coming from everywhere. And certainly, there are still very interesting questions being asked (this one and this one came in my Quora weekly digest, and were pretty interesting). But it’s all being overrun with ...

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April 30th, 2012

In Business

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Most attempts at motivation are fake and futile

I like this:

When the team got down emotionally, I would try to persuade them that reality wasn’t as bleak as it seemed. I laugh thinking about it now. The guys would tell me, “You can’t persuade me of the pitch because we helped come up with it!”

The problem is that I was operating under the mentality that a team needs to be motivated to get more done. It turns out that my attempts to frame reality ...

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April 29th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Loops of learning as the core of complex development in games

I like this model of games:

The ‘game’ aspect of this beast we call a computer game always involves ‘loops’.

The player starts with a mental model that prompts them to…

Apply an action to…

The game system and in return…

Receives feedback that…

Updates their mental model and starts the loop all over again. Or kicks off a new loop. These loops are fractal and occur at multiple levels and frequencies throughout a game. They are almost always exercised multiple times, either within a game ...

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April 29th, 2012

In Technology

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Run Java as a daemon

Interesting:

How to run a Java Program as a daemon (service) on Linux (openSUSE) using a shell script

The following alternatives may be used to run a Java program as a daemon on Linux:

Use the Java Service Wrapper. Use the Apache Jakarta Commons Daemon package (Jsvc). Use a shell script. This article describes how to use a shell script. The disadvantage of the Java Wrapper and the Commons Daemon package is that they both make use of C programs. These C programs have to be ...

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April 29th, 2012

In Technology

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The importance of agents in Clojure

Using agents reduced the runtime of this script from 12 minutes to 6 seconds.

With that out of the way, we’ll create a function to see if a given host / port combination is connectable. To avoid indefinite blocking, we’ll make it so the connection can timeout (thanks to nikkomega from reddit for helping me improve this function).

(defn host-up? [hostname timeout port] (let [sock-addr (InetSocketAddress. hostname port)] (try (with-open [sock (Socket.)] ...

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April 29th, 2012

In Business

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The desperate and futile hope of recreating past moments of inspiration

Inspiration is inspiration and it can not be turned into a process or a procedure or an algorithm. Inspiration does not repeat: each moment of inspiration is wholly unique, a one time event in the story of the human species. This fact plays out in every aspect of life, from art, religion, science, and also in business.

The reason IBM can’t deliver is also explained well by Steve Jobs. It’s IBM’s maniacal fixation on process, once a strength but now ...

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April 26th, 2012

In Philosophy

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The continued retreat of women from programming

At a time when women have made big progress in most other professions, the retreat since the 1980s is difficult to explain:

As it is, women remain acutely underrepresented in the coding and engineering professions. According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics study, in 2011 just 20 percent of all programmers were women. A smaller percentage of women are earning undergraduate computer science degrees today than they did in 1985, according to the National Center for Women in Technology, and between ...

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April 23rd, 2012

In Philosophy

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Still working at age 103

I am curious, if you took NGF to keep your nerves young and HGH to keep your muscles and bones young, then what would get old? Would it be possible to stay young forever by taking every form of growth factor hormones?

Has Dr. Rita Levi Montalcini unlocked the secret of eternal life? The oldest living and the longest-lived Nobel laureate in history, Montalcini celebrates today her 103th birthday.

“I can say my mental capacity is greater today than when I was ...

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April 19th, 2012

In Business

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An extremely mis-run startup

I’m torn between admiring the attempt to invest in the future, and the crazy waste of money when no business model had been validated through actual sales. Interesting:

Fruugo was one of the most talked about companies in the Finnish startup scene, perhaps due to the fact that the company was able to attract the top executives of the Finnish business world. In the early days, the most well known people on board were Jorma Ollila (the former CEO and ...

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April 19th, 2012

In Business

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Everyone hates Mass Effect 3

But for so many different reasons. Apparently some people criticized for having homosexual themes, however quiet those themes might have been. Matthew Murray responds to those who criticized him for defending the game:

I must admit a bit of confusion about one thing. The relevant part of my post concerned my standing up for individual rights, and advocating making your own decisions, rather than thinking that I (or anyone else) knows what’s right for you and the people who are ...

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April 19th, 2012

In Philosophy

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The decline of higher education

An interesting bit of history:

I did not realize that very hard times for higher education were about to begin. As the student population swelled during the 1960′s, the youth culture developed as a result of demographic changes, the Vietnam War and skepticism about consumptionism clashed with a different kind of pressure: a sagging rate of profit, following decades of unparalleled prosperity. Under these conditions, the goal became to reverse the gains from the G.I. Bill. Rather than including people in ...

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April 15th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Popular girls won’t learn math

Interesting:

I went to math camp in spite of it being an extremely uncool summer endeavor, according to my classmates at school. Yet I didn’t care, and went anyway, mostly because I was already a complete outsider, a fat girl on the math team (but a mathbabe when I got there!).

Two things about this. First, most smart girls around me in Lexington High School, and there were a lot of them, would not have been willing to go to math ...

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April 15th, 2012

In Philosophy

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People are moving back to the cities

The suburbs are not as much fun as they used to be:

Generation Y has grown up in the safest environment in human history. The suburban cul-de-sac offered a safe place to play, with lower crime rates than cities. But despite this safe environment, the need to fill a 24 hour news cycle in the emerging world of cable and online communications brought every localized “stranger danger” news story to a national audience, giving rise to the overprotective Helicopter Mom ...

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April 15th, 2012

In Business

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A company where the workers are self-managed

Very interesting :

If most of the value is now in the initial creative act, there’s little benefit to traditional hierarchical organization that’s designed to deliver the same thing over and over, making only incremental changes over time. What matters is being first and bootstrapping your product into a positive feedback spiral with a constant stream of creative innovation. Hierarchical management doesn’t help with that, because it bottlenecks innovation through the people at the top of the hierarchy, and there’s no ...

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April 14th, 2012

In Business

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Amanda Peyton on the nature of online identity

Anonymous is necessary

The problem with most social networks is the assumption that your life is linear and that people are interested in accumulating their own personal histories in one single repository.

I just don’t buy it. I think that is facebook’s core error – this belief that the digital world is becoming increasingly identity-based rather than persona-based.

Identity isn’t singular.

In my mind this is one of the most pressing issues for maturing social networks – this idea that the network will need ...

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April 12th, 2012

In Technology

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Using Jetty inside of one’s app

This is exactly what I want to do with the chat app I’m writing: embed Jetty so I won’t have all the complications of dealing with an external service:

Jetty for HTTP

Because you can’t be a web service without HTTP, Dropwizard uses the Jetty HTTP library to embed an incredibly tuned HTTP server directly into your project. Instead of handing your service off to a complicated application server, Dropwizard projects have a main method which spins up an HTTP server. Running ...

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April 12th, 2012

In Philosophy

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How much should you work?

Taryn East says no one should work more than 40 hours:

Anything over a 40 hour week is really stupid. Not just for you, but also for the business you’re working for. Many good books have pointed out that, not only do you not do your best work after five… but sometimes you can be actively sliding backwards (making more bugs that have to be cleaned up).

Of course the business won’t say no. They think they’re getting extra work from ...

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April 9th, 2012

In Technology

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Git rebase is confusing

This is a fantastic explanation of one of the most confusing things about git: the use of rebase, and in particular the use of rebase to resolve conflicts.

I am not writing this because I am a git master (I am not) but to point out a thing that I took an unreasonable amount of time to understand. Basically, I am going to show that “git rebase” serves many completely different roles instead of one:

a) rebasing, that is, making a ...

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April 9th, 2012

In Technology

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Monger is an experimental idiomatic Clojure wrapper around MongoDB Java driver

I’m planning on writing chat software (on the server side) using Clojure and MongoDb. On the mailist for Clojure, when asked about Mongo libraries, everyone seemed to prefer Monger.

Source

April 9th, 2012

In Technology

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Setting up Clojure on a Mac

This is a fantastic post for setting up Clojure on a Mac. Everything pretty much worked for me and I was able to create my first project with lein and I got a Clojure REPL going.

Source

April 9th, 2012

In Technology

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Sockets for chat?

I’m going to try to write my own chat software soon. This is part of my research. I’m thinking a lot about how much I should try to handle in my own code and how much I should rely on the functionality that is already there in Unix systems.

BSD sockets

For most modern platforms you have some sort of basic socket layer available based on BSD sockets.

BSD sockets are manipulated using simple functions like “socket”, “bind”, “sendto” and “recvfrom”. You ...

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April 9th, 2012

In Technology

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Running Java as a service (daemon) on a Linux machine

You can either start the command at the command line, like always, or use a script to launch it:

Overview

Sometimes application have the need to run java application as Linux Service. Aplicatioin needs to start, stop, restart easily. In traditional method, I usually run java application using command line java -jar applicationame when I need to restart the application, I will do: - Find process ID of the application started before - Kill process kill -9 PID - start java apps, java -jar applicationname

Besides complicated, this ...

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April 9th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Can we ever escape bias?

After a bad post with non-rigorous thinking about gender, there were some footnotes that I found interesting:

1. Eidetic imagery, vaguely related to the idea of a “photographic memory”, is the ability to visualize something and have it be exactly as clear, vivid and obvious as actually seeing it. My professor’s example (which Michael Howard somehow remembers even though I only mentioned it once a few years ago) is that although many people can imagine a picture of a tiger, ...

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April 9th, 2012

In Technology

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The Therac-25 disaster

Fascinating story. An radiation machine was built with a race condition in its software and it killed several people:

A commission concluded[1] that the primary reason should be attributed to the bad software design and development practices, and not explicitly to several coding errors that were found. In particular, the software was designed so that it was realistically impossible to test it in a clean automated way.

Researchers who investigated the accidents found several contributing causes. These included the following institutional causes:

AECL ...

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April 9th, 2012

In Technology

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High level abstraction for concurrent programming

This is good:

When you’re forced into parallelism at that level of detail, you quickly realize how difficult it is to have a generic way of doing it. The fact that languages like scala and clojure will allow you to just say “apply this logic over the collection in parallel” is very cool, and a great way for developers to dip their toes in parallel processing of their collection data. But it breaks down quickly when you are talking about ...

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April 9th, 2012

In Technology

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There is no path forward except multicore programming

A good insight about the changing nature of the hardware, and another good reason to study Clojure:

Programmers are scared of concurrency, and rightly so. Managers are scared of concurrency even more. If programmers were electricians, parallel programmers would be bomb disposal experts. Both cut wires. Except that, when the latter cut the wrong wire, mayhem ensues. We make mistakes in coding and we have systems for debugging and testing programs — there is no such system for concurrency bugs. I ...

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April 5th, 2012

In Technology

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What I learned from Rails

One thing I learned from Rails: meta-programming is crucial if you want to take advantage of 3rd party code. In the world of PHP, you can only use people’s 3rd party code if you are using some framework that allows plugins, such as WordPress. And, generally, the plugins are only allowed to override certain parts of the framework.

With Rails, if you find 5 useful gems from 5 different developers, and all 5 gems alter the way your database classes ...

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April 4th, 2012

In Technology

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The tech you use for emails really should work

I like the Hello {{lead.First Name:default=Java Developer}},

Source

April 3rd, 2012

In Technology

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Using arbitrary code in images to attack a site

A very clever attack:

It may not be immediately clear, but this configuration block allows for arbitrary code execution under certain circumstances (and I don’t just mean if an attacker can upload a file ending in .php: that kind of vulnerability is independent of the web server used).

Consider a situation where remote users can upload their own pictures to the site. Lets say that an attacker uploads an image to http://www.bambookites.com/uploads/random.gif. What happens, given the server block above, if the attacker ...

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April 3rd, 2012

In Philosophy

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Sleeping alone?

I am really puzzled by the photo they use in this ad. At a distance I thought this was an ad for a dating site. Instead, it is for college? What message are they trying to send? There is room for a partner in this bed, yet the emptiness next to the woman is obvious. Why not just crop this photo tighter?

Source

April 3rd, 2012

In Technology

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Clojure is 60 times faster than Ruby

I hate how slow Ruby is, but I liked the meta-programming. So, recently, I’ve been playing with Clojure, which runs on the JVM. Being a Lisp, it offers more meta-programming than Ruby, and it is also 60 times faster.

Source

April 3rd, 2012

In Technology

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Setting up for Clojure development

This might be the best article on setting up for Clojure development using Emacs and Swank.

Source

April 3rd, 2012

In Technology

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Should there be a character to represent flags, emoticons and gay rights?

This is perhaps the best article I’ve ever read about Unicode.

In the carrier Emoji symbols, 10 countries had representations of their national flags encoded. Quickly, other countries – Canada, Ireland – began complaining that they too should get a character for their flag. Should every country get a flag in Unicode? Was it the Unicode Consortium’s job to decide what was an wasn’t a country? Should Taiwan get a flag?

Source

April 3rd, 2012

In Philosophy

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What will low skilled labor look like in the future?

Marcus Povey paints a bleak picture of the future, with low skilled labor being forced into conditions akin to slavery. I will quote him in a minute. I would say, however, that there is a way out of the problem that he poses, and the solution is something like the Nicaraguan Literacy Campaign. This was apparently the most successful literacy campaign in history: millions (a huge percentage of the country) learned basic reading and writing skills in 6 months. The Sandinistas ...

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April 2nd, 2012

In Philosophy

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The tech life: New York versus San Francisco

An interesting conversation at Hacker News about which city is better for programmers:

My previous team was split between Mountain View and New York. We’d travel back and forth. Don’t get me wrong: I love the Bay Area. The weather for one thing is simply heaven. We’d often get into debates about this. My argument is that it is cheaper to live in New York than the Bay Area. The main reason for this is that almost anywhere you live in the ...

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April 2nd, 2012

In Business

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When does private property work?

Interesting to think about what initial conditions are needed to make private property work well. There is no point making a religion of it. A lot of things need to be in place, in particular, courts that can enforce contracts, free of all corruption.

Authored by sociologists at the University of Cambridge and Harvard University, the study, which appears in the April issue of the American Sociological Review, is the first to trace a direct link between the mass privatization ...

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March 30th, 2012

In Business

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Can business trust the GOP?

Interesting:

Jonathan Weisman of the Times wrote an article about the reluctance of many Republicans in Congress to extend policies that are traditionally favored by big business (and the Chamber of Commerce), such as infrastructure spending and funding for the Export-Import Bank. This points to a split between the traditional corporate wing of the GOP and the newer, ultra-conservative tax revolt wing.

Source

March 29th, 2012

In Philosophy

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A young black woman becomes a computer programmer in Canada in the 1950s

A very good story:

Lois read the notice and was dumbfounded. Gwen was being sent across town to a trade school, the kind of place that taught young women how to sew, cook, and type while it taught young men how to repair automobiles or pour concrete.

The next day, Lois visited the principal’s office. Why, Lois wanted to know, wasn’t Gwen going to North Toronto Collegiate, the academic school located a few blocks away. Didn’t she have the necessary marks? Had ...

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March 29th, 2012

In Technology

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The Clojure eco-system of small libraries

At least for now, the culture of Clojure is tending toward small libraries, rather than big, complete frameworks like Ruby on Rails. (Although, Ruby On Rails is now just a collection of gems, so it is moving in the direction of being less monolithic.)

PS, does anyone know where to find the graphic that once lived here:

http://www.glenstampoultzis.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/web-layers1.png

Source

March 28th, 2012

In Business

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Media companies are in dire straights, and therefore vicious about money

A great article about the tough negotiating, and betrayals, that now seem an automatic part of dealing with declining media companies. In this particular case, the newspaper under discussion is the Guardian, a famously left-wing paper.

Hang on a minute, I thought. This wouldn’t be the same Rewired State that the Guardian “royally screwed” (in the words of one RS employee) between 2010 and 2011, would it? Apparently so. According to emails seen by The Kernel, the Guardian agreed to provide ...

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March 28th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Telling women to lighten up

An interesting post about the subtle sexism that tells women to react with good humor to things they might find offensive:

Let me tell you, I love coding. Been doing it since before I hit puberty. I did it when I barely had the money to keep a server up. I do it on the weekends and evenings, and I’m teaching my kids how to do it. I’ve spent thousands of dollars to go to conferences so I can learn more ...

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March 28th, 2012

In Technology

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Even great programmers are slow to learn the culture of open source

David Heinemeier Hansson makes an interesting point about acclimating to the culture of open source:

All open-source contributors start out as rookies. They may well be seasoned and reasoned developers in their own right, and the most insidious bike shedders usually are, but they haven’t developed the critical appreciation for the energy flows of open source.

That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Finding your feet as a contributor in the open source world can take some time. There are lots of customs ...

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March 28th, 2012

In Technology

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Ugly websites are distrusted

A very clever use of ugly design to demonstrate the way people distrust ugly design. The text itself is interesting:

Each of these systems has a different effect on the content of the site and the character of the posts. For instance, because Reddit has unlimited upvotes and downvotes per user per day with no consequences of using them, people can downvote things just because they disagree with what the user is say or they think it’s not funny. This ...

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March 21st, 2012

In Business

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The System D economy

Interesting:

System D is a slang phrase pirated from French-speaking Africa and the Caribbean. The French have a word that they often use to describe particularly effective and motivated people. They call them débrouillards. To say a man is a débrouillard is to tell people how resourceful and ingenious he is. The former French colonies have sculpted this word to their own social and economic reality. They say that inventive, self-starting, entrepreneurial merchants who are doing business on their own, without ...

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March 19th, 2012

In Philosophy

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The intense intellectual energy of the early blogosphere

It’s been enough years that historians will soon be writing about it. The early political blogosphere, late 90s and up till about 2003, had an intense intellectual energy to it. It was unrestrained. I thought that intensity was a natural part of the medium, but it seems to have faded somewhat as the sector has professionalized. What will be done to save the writing from that era? Consider John Holbo doing a review of David Frum:

It’s a bit – ...

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March 17th, 2012

In Business

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Large companies make one big mistake when hiring

Democracy beats consensus every time, but most large companies go with consensus. I mean, most large companies will have many people interview a possible hire, and the company will give veto power to every person who participates in the interview process. If you know anything about politics or human interactions, you know that consensus is a good way to destroy group productivity. Consensus destroyed Poland back in the 1700s and consensus can destroy your company as well. Consensus means one ...

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March 16th, 2012

In Uncategorized

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Clever startup idea

Public whitelisting for pingbacks. Allow auto accept of others whitelist.

Source

March 16th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Statins do bad things

There was a long stretch, at least 10 years, starting in the 90s, when I only heard good things about statins. They were miracle drugs, all benefit and no downside. But apparently that was wrong. They in fact have a major downside:

To learn more about the effect statins have on exercising muscles, scientists in Strasbourg, France, recently gave the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor to a group of rats for two weeks, while a separate control group was not medicated. Some of ...

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March 15th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Too many Americans are in jail

This is an amazing article. It is worrisome that the USA has felt the need to go down this road, jailing so many people. No other developed nation feels the need to deal with crime in this way.

For most privileged, professional people, the experience of confinement is a mere brush, encountered after a kid’s arrest, say. For a great many poor people in America, particularly poor black men, prison is a destination that braids through an ordinary life, much as ...

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March 14th, 2012

In Technology

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What is it like to switch from PHP to Rails?

I have a friend who is a very experienced PHP and Symfony programmer. He wrote to me:

I’m about to embark on a new project where I will be rebuilding a simple PHP project from scratch (at this new startup I joined as CTO). I haven’t made the decision yet on Rails or PHP/Symfony 2. I’m more comfortable with PHP although I have built a simple Rails app (2 or 3 years ago). I would say I’m an expert level ...

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March 14th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Fame doesn’t doom marriage, but tabloid fame does

Interesting to think that the predictors of divorce, in a celebrity marriage, are much stronger signals for the wife than for the husband. This has something to do with 70% of all divorces being initiated by women, so the husbands have relatively little hope of determining the fate of the marriage.

What went right with them — and wrong with our equation? Garth, a self-professed über-geek, has crunched the numbers and discovered a better way to gauge the toxic effects ...

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March 14th, 2012

In Business

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Goldman Sachs sacrifices its own clients to drive up its profits

This is interesting:

I was an esoteric derivatives trader at an investment bank making money off clueless clients. We actualy prided ourselves, as a prop desk, on not being client facing. I went in expecting to parse global markets for inefficiency while pioneering the frontiers of 21st century finance. As time went on I found that the firm was content with mediocrity (as it could survive by simply existing in its role) and had no time for risky business like thinking. You ...

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March 13th, 2012

In Business

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Encyclopaedia Britannica transforms itself into something new

I am pleased when a company is able to pull off a real transformation, like Apple did after 1997 and, apparently, Encyclopaedia Britannica has done since 1990.

Sales of Encyclopaedia Britannica peaked in 1990, when 120,000 sets were sold in the United States. But now print encyclopedias account for less than 1 percent of Encyclopaedia Britannica’s revenues. About 85 percent of revenues come from selling curriculum products in subjects like math, science and the English language; the remainder comes from ...

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March 13th, 2012

In Business

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Google is in sad decline

Once great, now fading.

The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.

Technically I suppose Google has always been an advertising company, but for the better part of the last three years, it didn’t feel like one. Google was an ad company only in the sense that a good TV show is an ad company: having great content attracts advertisers.

Under ...

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March 13th, 2012

In Business

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Software patents need to be banned

A great story about how software patents get abused:

The scary part is that even the most innocuous patent can be used to crush another’s creativity. One of the patents I co-invented is so abstract, it could not only cover Facebook’s News Feed, but virtually any activity feed. It puts into very sharp focus the trouble with software patents: Purposefully vague wording invites broad interpretation.

In their complaint, Yahoo alleges that Facebook’s News Feed violates “Dynamic page generator,” a patent filed in ...

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March 13th, 2012

In Technology

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How to manage cache in Rails

This is a great overview:

This concept is known as: auto expiring cache keys. You create a composite key with the normal key and a time stamp. This will create some memory build up as objects are updated and no longer create cache hits. For example. You have that fragment. It is cached. Then someone updates the post. You now have two versions of the fragment cached. If there are 10 updates, then there are 10 different versions. Luckily for you, ...

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March 13th, 2012

In Technology

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What sort of messaging system should you use?

Github explains why it invented Resque, and in the process is offers a great summary of queue systems that are now out there. The only one they miss, that I would like to know more about, is Zeromq.

We’ve used many different background job systems at GitHub. SQS, Starling, ActiveMessaging, BackgroundJob, DelayedJob, and beanstalkd. Each change was out of necessity: we were running into a limitation of the current system and needed to either fix it or move to something ...

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March 12th, 2012

In Business

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How does the definition of property change?

The definition of property is fairly central to the kind of society you will have. A society in which land is unowned is fundamentally different than a society where land is owned. The conversion from one to the other is stressful, consider the terrible human suffering that accompanied the enclosure movement in Europe during the 1500s. But at that point, it was possible to enclose land, so some kind of enclosing became likely. As Christopher Hill and others have said, ...

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March 10th, 2012

In Technology

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Dtrace offers a wealth of debugging tools

For Unix and Mac, Dtrace looks like a great analysis tool

Source

March 10th, 2012

In Technology

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The big ideas for future startups

The funny thing is, nowadays, nobody even bothers to consider that big company could innovate this way. We all know that big companies are no longer able to do this. The limit is self-imposed: some strange worship of stock markets and short term profits is leading to the mass self-limitation of large corporations. This sickness was once limited to America but it has in recent years spread to Europe and Japan as well. I don’t know about China. Perhaps ...

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March 9th, 2012

In Technology

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Brilliant career breakthroughs of those in middle age

A list of 7 greats who did not start the work they are famous for till after turning 40.

Source

March 8th, 2012

In Technology

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What time does Github use when showing punch cards?

I’m working on a project where the punch card, on Github, makes absolutely no sense.

I am in New York, but most of the team is in Europe. They start work around 4 AM EST. I expect that most of the commits should be happening around 6 AM to 11 AM my time (I assume most people work an hour or two before doing their first commit). Instead, the punch card shows most commits happening in the afternoon. How ...

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March 7th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Cut in budgets have different effects regarding gender

Interesting:

…cuts to state and local government workforces, while a significant drag on the economy as a whole, are particularly damaging for women. In 2011, women made up 46.6 percent of the overall labor force, but among state and local workers, about 60 percent are women. Because women are so disproportionately represented in state and local jobs, they also have taken the brunt of the job losses in state and local governments. Of the net change in total state and local ...

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March 7th, 2012

In Philosophy

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The role of religion in the current election

This is a sort of interesting. I am curious if this summary history of Catholics versus Protestants is the whole story?

But the Baptist ministers who witnessed Kennedy’s speech surely felt differently. In the 1960s, evangelical leaders were not concerned that Kennedy was too secular; they were concerned that he was too Catholic.

For most of American history, the Protestant majority has regarded Catholics with deep suspicion. Many of the 13 colonies banned Catholics from public office and prohibited Catholic rituals. Priests ...

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March 7th, 2012

In Philosophy

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How the universe expands

Interesting:

The whole “expanding universe” thing is, unfortunately, a bit misleading at first glance. Normally when we throw the word “expanding” around, we’re talking about things getting bigger in some sense. The deficit is expanding, my waistline is expanding, something like that. Not so, when the subject turns to modern cosmology. See, the idea that lies at the core of what’s generally called the “standard model of cosmology” — that is, the cosmological model of the universe that best explains all our observations ...

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March 7th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Stranger than we can possibly know

I decided to read up on the difference between the observable universe and the visible universe:

In Big Bang cosmology, the observable universe consists of the galaxies and other matter that humans can in principle observe from Earth in the present day, because light (or other signals) from those objects has had time to reach us since the beginning of the cosmological expansion. Assuming the universe is isotropic, the distance to the edge of the observable universe is roughly the same ...

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March 7th, 2012

In Technology

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Is Objective C a modern language?

If you need speed, use C. If speed is not your primary concern, then most developers today expect languages to help them with memory management — everything I’ve done for the last 10 years (PHP, Java, Ruby) has had automatic garbage collection. So why does Objective C still force developers to manage memory? Is this a modern language, or a holdover from an earlier time?

Objective-C is a product of the 1980s, when it kind of made sense that your ...

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March 7th, 2012

In Business

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How can you find good Ruby On Rails developers offshore?

Interesting:

It’s quite likely that you’ve heard your share of horror stories about how offshore vendors work (or don’t) – the false promises, the inflated billing, the missed deadlines, the poor communication and, to add insult to injury, all the defects that crop up. I’m also sure you realise that just like any marketplace, there are vendors that Do The Right Thing – it’s just that they’re in the minority and it’s hard for them to stand out.

As a startup, here ...

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March 7th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Will humans destroy themselves?

Interesting:

Unthinkable as it may be, humanity, every last person, could someday be wiped from the face of the Earth. We have learned to worry about asteroids and supervolcanoes, but the more-likely scenario, according to Nick Bostrom, a professor of philosophy at Oxford, is that we humans will destroy ourselves.

Bostrom, who directs Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute, has argued over the course of several papers that human extinction risks are poorly understood and, worse still, severely underestimated by society. Some of ...

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March 7th, 2012

In Business

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Yet another startup burns through a few $ million dollars and then dies

Interesting:

In practice, the S.S. Beyond Oblivion now sits at the bottom of the ocean, though the man who was at the helm, CEO and “Imagineer” Adam Kidron, apparently harbors plans to resurrect it still. According to one former employee, the CEO of the bankrupt company is still being paid $325,000 per year as he seeks more funding to get it afloat.

After speaking with multiple sources from the now-defunct company, Evolver.fm, which agreed to keep those sources anonymous, has come to ...

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March 7th, 2012

In Philosophy

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How to design a bathroom

This is more interesting than you would think. The question is “Right or pragmatic?” There is the general issue here: do you watch what people do and adapt your design to them, or do you try to force them to conform to some plan you came up a priori of any information about your users?

Source

March 7th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Is there any increase in women in tech?

Taryn East suggests that there is an increase in female coders. I believe she is writing about the situation in the UK. The situation in the USA is very different: women receiving advanced degrees in computer science peaked in 1989 and has since steadily declined.

Taryn East writes:

While the figures quoted in media seem good at first glance – they aren’t telling the full story of the gender imbalance. Anneke makes a great comparison with the music industry: “Imagine your ...

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March 7th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Evolution does not respect a separation of concerns

In programming, one of the most important things an architect aspires to is “separation of concerns”. But there is no such thing in living organisms. Evolution mashes things together in complex ways and then relies on death to perform the validity checking that programmers would normally do with unit tests.

But even the most incompetently written theme isn’t as poorly designed as vasopressin, which, among other things, controls:

Water permeability of distal tubule and collecting duct cells in the kidney. Increasing permeability ...

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March 1st, 2012

In Philosophy

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How much of mental illness diagnosis has a cultural or political element?

Interesting:

Gaining acceptance into graduate school or medical school and achieving a PhD or MD and becoming a psychologist or psychiatrist means jumping through many hoops, all of which require much behavioral and attentional compliance to authorities, even to those authorities that one lacks respect for. The selection and socialization of mental health professionals tends to breed out many anti-authoritarians. Having steered the higher-education terrain for a decade of my life, I know that degrees and credentials are primarily badges of ...

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March 1st, 2012

In Philosophy

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Huge insects, presumed extinct, found alive

Amazing

Source

February 29th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Problems with the TSA

An interesting essay about the problems with the TSA.

Source

February 29th, 2012

In Technology

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Many large Internet companies violate the TCP protocol to boost their own speed

If everyone did this, it would put a terrible strain on the infrastructure of the Internet. These companies violate the TCP protocol in ways that are probably unfair to others.

My first step was to measure the load time of www.google.com over my home cable modem connection. As a first pass, I timed the download with curl:

$ time curl www.google.com > /dev/null % Total % Received % Xferd Average Speed Time Time Time Current ...

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February 29th, 2012

In Technology

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Good teachers simplify the model for beginners

Interesting:

One of the greatest teachers in my life once told me “The hardest thing about teaching is knowing when to lie.” When teaching you need to know at what stage of development the student is at. Are they ready for the full explanation or do they need to be “lied to” so that they don’t become overwhelmed? Lies a teacher tell give a simplified model of how a technique works. An example of this can be found in the Structure ...

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February 27th, 2012

In Technology

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Testing PHP Regular Expressions

This is a great resource for testing regex. This just saved me much frustration as I tried to figure out how to match an URL full of hyphens. Note: this tool does expect you to type in the boundary characters. Normally that / and / but since I was matching a URL and didn’t want to have to escape ever forward slash, I used @ and @ for the start and end.

Source

February 26th, 2012

In Business

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Google in 1998: why advertising is bad

Priceless:

Currently, the predominant business model for commercial search engines is advertising. The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users. For example, in our prototype search engine one of the top results for cellular phone is “The Effect of Cellular Phone Use Upon Driver Attention”, a study which explains in great detail the distractions and risk associated with conversing on a cell phone while driving. This ...

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February 26th, 2012

In Technology

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WebSockets versus the Web

HTTP is the Web. Therefore WebSockets are not the Web. But they might be better. A great article summarizing it all.

Source

February 24th, 2012

In Technology

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The limits of MVC for APIs

This article has some stupid points, but this is good:

A thick client does not want to maintain a vast list of static strings representing all the crazy URLs that it will have to call in a non standard API. As an API designer, you don’t want them doing this anyway, because hard-coded URLs and URL structures make it a real pain for you to change your API.

The AtomPub protocol, if you ignore its XMLiness, gets this right — ...

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February 24th, 2012

In Business

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More retrenchment at big tech firms

Microsoft is giving up on some of its products:

Microsoft appears to be killing off two of its key user-facing brands with the upcoming Consumer Preview release of Windows 8. Windows Live applications have been rolled into preinstalled apps that work as the core “Windows Communications” applications for Windows 8, and this lack of Windows Live branding is only the tip of the iceberg. “Microsoft Account” will replace Windows Live ID in Windows 8, and the software giant has also ...

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February 24th, 2012

In Business

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Once upon a time, Microsoft was a well run company

This is a good story:

“”"I can remember going to the first Microsoft Company picnic in 1988. There were only two children. Microsoft had 1,800 employees and there were only a couple of them that were married. You had all these young kids who weren’t married and were right out of school. IBM had conventional dress codes; Microsoft – it was very much like a college campus. The only difference in how they lived, the hours they kept and the way ...

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February 23rd, 2012

In Business

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Women and Pinterest

Sonia Saraiya writes about Pinterest:

Buying a magazine was not just about reading what was inside, after all — it was also an opportunity to define yourself by its niche, and to be influenced by the tastemakers who created it. And so if you read Vogue you were a certain kind of woman; if Cosmo, another. But all of these magazines, if they had a visual component, sold something. Not just through their advertisements, but through their features and editorials. ...

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February 15th, 2012

In Technology

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The true cost of cloud hosting

From all I’ve seen, I think this is true: cloud hosting is often more expensive than a dedicated server, so the real benefit of cloud hosting is its reliability, not its cheapness.

I think it’s pretty well known that for most use cases, cloud hosting is more expensive than dedicated hardware. That said, we’re currently moving from a dedicated server to AWS, after we had a bit of nasty downtime. We have dedicated servers with 1and1, and the RAID in our ...

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February 15th, 2012

In Business

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The endless injustice of firms with big budgets for lawyers

Major studio shuts down a student’s film project:

I figured that the number I was given was just another publishing associate, so I dialed with thinly veiled skepticism. To my surprise, the voice that answered was a feeble, elderly woman. I struggled through my initial shock to explain that I was a student; I wanted to use her husband’s story as a basis for my project, and could I get her permission. She said that it sounded like fun, and gave ...

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February 13th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Gender differences in the tech industry

Again, the strange thing, women have made huge advances in some professions, such as law and doctors, but in the field of computer science, women receiving advanced degrees in the USA peaked in 1989 and has since been in retreat. I don’t know why this is, but I’m sure incidents like this don’t help:

In this case, the recipient of the bogus intro was the panel moderator, Rebecca Lovell. Just in case anyone out there in startupland has not ...

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February 13th, 2012

In Business

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Privacy violations often get a pass

Another example:

People’s contact info isn’t just any old information it’s intensely personal and private.

The tech community is treating this situation as if Path accessing trivial, inconsequential information.

Maybe I’m in edge case but I’ve never lost my phone, so I have a lot of intensly personal email addresses and phone numbers stored there. Some examples

– My ex-wife and all of her family members

– Every girl I’ve dated since college

– My personal and corporate attorneys

– Every ...

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February 9th, 2012

In Business

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How much legal protection do content producers need?

Interesting:

The BBC commissioned a study [1] that claims the Charles Dicken’s brand brings in about £280m/year to the UK’s economy. This from a public domain “brand”. Meanwhile companies like Disney lobby for perpetual copyright to protect their own interest at the cost of all the lost opportunities that will never exist. I don’t understand how politicians in the free enterprise countries, especially American republicans with their distaste of market regulation, could consider extremely long copyright protection to be a net benefit ...

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February 3rd, 2012

In Technology

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A ZeroMQ Javascript library

I’m interested because I’m interested in doing more real-time stuff with Websockets and Mongrel2:

The point of this project is to allow javascript client code to interact with arbitrary zeromq services in the backend, with minimal server side configuration. In general, when people write websocket code, they write alot of application specific web socket code in whichever web framework they are using. We want to push most of the application logic into generic zmq processes, with the only ...

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February 3rd, 2012

In Philosophy

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How much does income influence decisions about marriage?

Interesting article:

This “mood affiliation” review is from a Rortybomb pointer I believe, excerpt:

Murray can’t tell you what really caused the class divide in marriage because the class-based changes in families he laments closely track the class warfare of the 1%. Up through the mid-’80s, upper class and working class divorce rates rose and fell together. Starting in 1990, the lines diverged, with the divorce rates of college graduates falling back to the level of the mid-sixties (before no-fault divorce) while ...

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February 3rd, 2012

In Business

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Consulting depends on the social status of the of the agencies?

This raises a very good question, and then answers it with a believable story about status signalling:

The puzzle is why firms pay huge sums to big name consulting firms, when their advice comes from kids fresh out of college, who spend only a few months studying an industry they previous knew nothing about. How could such quick-made advice from ignorant recent grads be worth millions? Why don’t firms just ask their own internal recent college grads?

Some say that consulting ...

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February 3rd, 2012

In Philosophy

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Religion is the opium of the people?

No doubt our income has some influence on the way we see ourselves. How much? Do people feel a need to lie to themselves about their income? Do extremes of wealth or poverty promote self deception? Reminds me of the research regarding religion, devotion, education and income.

There are lots of obvious reasons to be against extreme income inequality, but here’s a new one: It encourages self-deception. A team of nineteen psychologists, led by Steve Loughman and Peter Kuppens, have ...

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February 2nd, 2012

In Technology

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Can ZeroMQ replace RESTful HTTP?

Very interesting:

I have to admit, the name “ZeroMQ” was a little misleading for me. I think that’s because most other message queues are very similar: something pushes messages into a big, centralized queue, and workers pop messages off the front. ØMQ is really just a networking library. Sockets the way you want them to work. I think Zed Shaw put it best in his Pycon talk: ØMQ can replace your internal HTTP REST services. HWhaaat?!?

First, a Quick Primer ZeroMQ is a ...

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February 2nd, 2012

In Technology

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How to find all the ports that are currently in use on your server

A friend writes to me:

‘netstat -an’ or ‘netstat -ln’ (depending on the platform’ will tell you every port and network connection a machine has open. That may be all that you need.

The program ‘lsof,’ which is a utility to list open files, will give you more information on specifically what software is connected to what network port. At one level everything in *nix is a file, so any process that holds open a network connection has ...

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January 31st, 2012

In Business

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Yahoo is run by idiots

In the last 4 years, I can only think of mistakes that Yahoo has made. I can not think of a single time in the last 4 years where I thought, “Wow, Yahoo made the right move!” Their constant disregard of Flickr is truly incredible. Flickr is such a great site, one has to wonder, if Yahoo can not be successful with Flickr, then what can it possibly be successful with?

After we write and ship code that probably contains ...

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January 31st, 2012

In Technology

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How to get 99.3% of your email delivered

A great conversation about how to get email delivered, and the 3rd party services, and 37 Signals approach.

Source

January 31st, 2012

In Philosophy

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This guy almost died of an infected tooth

I’ve done exactly this, skip having health insurance and devote all my money and energy to my startup. So I can easily understand how this guy came so close to death:

“You would not have made it through the weekend”

Today the dentist told me I would have been in the hospital and would have been lucky to make it through last weekend had I not made an emergency appointment to get an infected wisdom tooth removed last Friday instead of this ...

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January 30th, 2012

In Technology

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Why are so many software estimates wrong?

This is a fantastic essay on why software projects go way past their deadline.

Source

January 30th, 2012

In Business

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The adaptable survive

Interesting article:

Our institutions are out of date; the long career is dead; any quest for solid rules is pointless, since we will be constantly rethinking them; you can’t rely on an established business model or a corporate ladder to point your way; silos between industries are breaking down; anything settled is vulnerable.

Put this way, the chaos ahead sounds pretty grim. But its corollary is profound: This is the moment for an explosion of opportunity, there for the taking by those ...

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January 30th, 2012

In Business

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Brainstorming sessions are a bad idea

Interesting article:

Cook: Tell me more about these “pitfalls of groupwork.”

Cain: When you’re working in a group, it’s hard to know what you truly think. We’re such social animals that we instinctively mimic others’ opinions, often without realizing we’re doing it. And when we do disagree consciously, we pay a psychic price. The Emory University neuroscientist Gregory Berns found that people who dissent from group wisdom show heightened activation in the amygdala, a small organ in the brain associated with ...

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January 30th, 2012

In Business

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Is entrepreneurship risky?

Interesting article:

There are two views on entrepreneurship in America: the first (largely feigned), that it is a pure virtue like freedom of speech or religion, and the second (real) attitude that it is largely a game for the naïve. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Michael Dell make fine fodder for commencement speeches, but when parents and career counselors thrust graduates into the job market, the default isn’t entrepreneurship, it’s corporate serfdom. Entrepreneurship is a deviation, an occupation for heroes, heroic ...

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January 29th, 2012

In Philosophy

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“I want to protect you” can also mean “You should be afraid”

danah boyd (legally spelled lowercase) is always insightful, and I am glad to see her raising questions about rhetoric of sexual predators and the message of “You should be afraid” Any message of support can also be interpreted as a message of “You are too weak to survive without my support” and any message of “You should be afraid” can also be interpreted as a message of “You need to surrender your freedom in exchange for protection”. Those messages can ...

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January 29th, 2012

In Business

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A radicalism I could support

If I ever got the chance to lead a large company, I would smash apart all such anti-competitive agreements:

Last week, we got our first glimpse at the (heavily redacted) evidence behind a Silicon Valley scandal dating back to 2005 — Apple, Google, Adobe, Intel, Intuit and other tech firms, it was revealed, had agreements not to poach one another’s employees. Technically, the Department of Justice settled an antitrust lawsuit in 2010, but employees who claim they were injured by the ...

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January 29th, 2012

In Technology

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Who would trust a proprietary hosting system?

The Pinboard blog lists the 5 stages of hosting. Of these 5, the 1st one is the most strange to me. Why would anyone trust their system to someone’s homebrew hosting version? What is the point of using a flexible, open source system like Rails if you then have to adapt it to the special, constricting rules of Heroku?

1. The Monastery

You run your site on an ‘application platform’ like Heroku, Azure, or Google App Engine. You design your application ...

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January 25th, 2012

In Technology

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Command and Conquer as an HTML5 game?

This is amazing:

I used to switch between playing the original Tiberian Dawn in a Wine window on my Mac and my JS version on the browser to make sure my version looked EXACTLY like the original. I spent a LOT of time going through C&C forums to understand how to reverse engineer the Tiberium Dawn files to extract the building/unit sprites and audio and reading up on unit specs to figure out how to make the units behave exactly like ...

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January 25th, 2012

In Business

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Why are free conference calls free?

Interesting:

The telecommunications act of 1996 allowed small rural phone companies to charge other larger phone companies a “termination fee” to access their lines. Basically, if you had a small phone company in Iowa or South Dakota, you could charge AT&T or Verizon when folks called into your area code. I have cell coverage via AT&T (unfortunately), so when I call a rural number in Iowa, AT&T has to pay a termination fee (which is actually billed per minute) to ...

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January 25th, 2012

In Technology

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Truly innovative ideas are misunderstood, even by well educated peers

One of the problems with the concept of “peer review” is the reality that radically new ideas tend to be so far outside the norm that the innovator really has no “peer”. Apparently 5 of the most famous articles in the history of computer science were initially rejected for publication by peer reviewed journals.

E.W. DIJKSTRA

“Goto Statement Considered Harmful.” This paper tries to convince us that the well-known goto statement should be eliminated from our programming languages or, at least ...

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January 24th, 2012

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How much privacy can you ever have with cloud services?

Interesting:

In a game of chicken, which is the better strategy: Writing a lengthy and detailed “persistence policy” guaranteeing that you’ll persist in your course and will not, under any circumstances, swerve to avoid your opponent; or ostentatiously removing your steering wheel and throwing it out the window? As noted by innumerable game theorists over the past fifty years, the latter strategy is the only one which is useful: Humans can’t be — and aren’t — trusted to follow their stated ...

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January 20th, 2012

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MIT does not teach humility

Arnold Kling has a funny bit on his own experience with MIT:

I think that Solow really was focused on useful economics as opposed to pure math, but he was already being shoved aside by the young mathematical theorists. The main message you learned in graduate school was that more difficult math equated to better economics.

I failed to accumulate an impressive tool kit. Writing my dissertation under Solow was not a good career move, because Dornbusch and Fischer controlled the ...

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January 20th, 2012

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Use Smashwords to publish on the Nook

Amazon gives access to the Kindle, but Smashwords gives access to the Nook. Uh, Barnes and Noble? You still in this game?

I need to go buy a Kindle. I am curious.

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January 20th, 2012

In Business

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Total USA debt is declining

Interesting:

What you see here is a gradual decline in overall debt — not at all what you hear in the public debate. Now, the composition of that debt is changing: rising public debt, falling private debt. But that’s exactly what you need to deal with the aftermath of a Minsky moment: you need to reduce the debt of balance-sheet-constrained players, so that the drag on the economy is reduced over time, eventually getting us to the point where deficit spending ...

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January 20th, 2012

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Self-publishing is a revolution to publishing

Interesting:

Then it comes to her. She can take one of the many novels she has written over the previous nine years, all of which have been rejected by umpteen book agents and publishing houses, and slap them up on Amazon and other digital ebook sites. Surely, she can sell a few copies to her family and friends? All she needs for the journey to Chicago is $300 (£195), and with six months to go before the Muppets exhibition opens, she’s ...

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January 20th, 2012

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The new, new web moves beyond HTTP to the Spdy and WebSocket protocols

A great article about the new protocols:

WebSockets and SPDY are both multiplexed protocols which are optimized to carry multiple, interleaved streams of data over the same TCP pipe. Unfortunately, popular choices such as Apache and Nginx have no understanding of this and at best degrade to dumb “TCP proxies”. Even worse, since they do not understand multiplexing, stream flow-control and priority handling goes out the door as well. Finally, both WebSockets and SPDY communicate in framed messages, not in TCP ...

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January 20th, 2012

In Philosophy

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What is lowering household formation in the USA

Non-family households are forming at the same rate as ever. But family households have stopped forming, in a manner that has no precedent since at least 1947. Interesting:

The real problem however is found in the family household formation. Family households have completely decoupled from the US population growth since 2008.

This deviation is quite new. Family households have been forming at an average rate of 651,000 per year since at least 1947 (when the first annual household data became available). ...

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January 20th, 2012

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The difference between git and mecurial

Interesting:

Both git and mercurial were developed to solve a large problem that was happening in 2005. The Linux kernel was no longer allowed to use BitKeeper for free as its version control system. Having used BitKeeper for 3 years, the kernel developers had become accustomed to their new distributed workflow. No longer were patches emailed between people, lost, resubmitted, and managed personally by a series of shell scripts. Now patches/features were recorded, pulled, and merged by a fancy piece of ...

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January 19th, 2012

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Formal modeling could be a useful technique for computer programming

Every part of this essay is wrong, but it sounds smart. Ignoring the bias toward formal modeling, there is a grain of truth that is worth considering. I’d have more respect for this essay except I’ve seen so many attempts to find a silver bullet for programming, and always in the direction of more abstraction, but so far no one has been able to find that true silver bullet.

In the early days programming was considered a subdiscipline of mathematics. ...

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January 18th, 2012

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With an automated test suite, what kind of tests are important?

Interesting:

Acceptance Tests are most important When looking at your tests, first check out your acceptance tests. These are the most important, for two reasons: they’re abstracted away from the framework itself, and their purpose in life is to make sure that major functionality is working. Do you have your happy paths covered? Is there any major functionality that’s not covered by acceptance tests?

While the happy path is a big deal, when moving to a new framework, we’re going to introduce ...

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January 18th, 2012

In Philosophy

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All startups are chaos

Interesting:

What was going on during those first six months? Was the future bright and shiny even when there was no impressive customer curve? When half the customers were just personal favors called in and new signups didn’t happen daily?

Or was it barely-controlled chaos, not able to sleep at 2:43am for worry about how to make payroll in seven months or whether the numbers would look good enough by next spring to raise another round? Unsure which products to double-down on ...

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January 18th, 2012

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People like to be around similar people

Interesting:

What’s worse, this craving for similarity – for interacting only with people who think and act in familiar ways – doesn’t merely influence our behavior during cocktail mixers. Instead, it shapes our social world, constraining the reach of our personal network. This was elegantly demonstrated in a new paper by Angela Bahns, Kate Pickett and Christian Crandall at Wellesley College and the University of Kansas. The psychologists were interested in how the social diversity of college influenced the nature of ...

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January 12th, 2012

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Can a nation be punished?

In law, there are 2 arguments for punishment:

1.) revenge

2.) deterrence

The victim may want revenge, and society may feel it is moral to grant it. And punishment may deter criminals from committing crimes. But do either of these work for a whole nation? Greece is a nation of 10 million people. Did they collectively decide to spend too much money? Or was that a product of a corrupt political culture. Should the people be punished for what the leadership did? What ...

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January 10th, 2012

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Quotas for men

Interesting, from Curt Rice:

The bad news, I’m sorry to report, is even worse than we might fear. Our systems aren’t meritocratic — they simply can’t be. On our own, we cannot avoid taking a rich set of factors into account, even when explicitly instructed not to. As I learn more about careers in law, I am increasingly struck by the similarities to academia. And when it comes to peer evaluation, there is a growing body of research from both sectors showing ...

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January 10th, 2012

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Engineering archaeology

Interesting:

Some documents assembled, the engineers get to work trying to get a handle on how to organize a debottlenecking project. Unfortunately, the documents seem to be written partially in hieroglyphics, and are only partly complete. They make some very slow progress. The manager half-jokes that engineering schools should teach a course in engineering archaeology, where students are given a pile of 30-year old documents and asked to figure out what’s going on. I like the idea. Maybe even read an ...

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January 10th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Willful ignorance is key to continue with any bad practice

Interesting:

As Harris O’Malley writes in “Nerds and Male Privilege,” “The reason why male privilege is so insidious is because of the insistence that it doesn’t exist in the first place. That willful ignorance is key in keeping it in place; by pretending that the issue doesn’t exist, it is that much easier to ensure that nothing ever changes.”

I will confess to thinking that women’s professional inroads sometimes seem vexingly hard won, if won at all. There are clearly still major ...

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January 7th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Why is Hungary spiraling down a dark path?

The laws insist on worker protection, but the reality is high corruption where everyone ignores the law:

I could hire 12 people with €760 net salary, but I don’t. I tell you why. You could work for my service provider company in a nice office. It’s not telemarketing, it’s not a scam. You would do serious work that requires high skills, 8 hours daily, only weekdays. I would employ you legally, I would pay your taxes and social security. I could ...

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January 7th, 2012

In Philosophy

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Within a tradition, but what is the name of that tradition?

What is a libertarian?

Here are some not-standardly-libertarian things I believe: Non-coercion fails to capture all, maybe even most, of what it means to be free. Taxation is often necessary and legitimate. The modern nation-state has been, on the whole, good for humanity. (See Steven Pinker’s new book.) Democracy is about as good as it gets. The institutions of modern capitalism are contingent arrangements that cannot be justified by an appeal to the value of liberty construed as non-interference. The specification ...

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January 6th, 2012

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Trade with the enemy so you can kill them (and they can kill you)

What is the point of trading with an enemy you are trying to kill?

I have been enjoying Adam Hochschild’s To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918, which covers the British role in World War I. My favorite section details how the British responded when it turned out they had a drastic shortage of binoculars, which at that time were very important for fighting the war. They turned to the world’s leading manufacturer of “precision ...

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January 6th, 2012

In Technology

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Multitasking on Android and iOS

Interesting:

The iOS description is lacking, to say the least. > When an iOS user hits the home button, an Active app moves to Background.

Not entirely correct, this is only for “multitasking-aware” applications: 1. applications linked against the iPhoneOS3 SDK are not multitasking-aware; 2. applications linked against the iOS4 (or 5) SDK can opt out of multitasking by setting the `UIApplicationExitsOnSuspend` key.

Multitasking-unaware applications are killed when they leave foreground, they do not get in the background and do not get suspended. They ...

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January 6th, 2012

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Resolving git conflicts

What a quagmire.

C:\Sites\deals\deals_intranet>git branch -a master * spinach_features remotes/origin/HEAD -> origin/master remotes/origin/master remotes/origin/spinach_features

C:\Sites\deals\deals_intranet>git push To git@github.com:shermanstravel/deals_intranet.git ! [rejected] spinach_features -> spinach_features (non-fast-forward) error: failed to push some refs to ‘git@github.com:shermanstravel/deals_intranet .git’ To prevent you from losing history, non-fast-forward updates were rejected Merge the remote changes (e.g. ‘git pull’) before pushing again. See the ‘Note about fast-forwards’ section of ‘git push –help’ for ...

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January 4th, 2012

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Government regulation will protect Microsoft

The odd thing is, this writer thinks they are criticizing Microsoft, but secretly they are defending Microsoft. They don’t want to switch away from Microsoft software, so they want the government to regulate Microsoft and force it to fix its bugs. This will cement Microsoft’s dominance and protect it from competition. There is a more fair solution: stop using Microsoft, and start using software from someone else.

“I would have understood had the site really been down for maintenance ...

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January 4th, 2012

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Why the movie industry fails to innovate

There is no reward for innovation if politicians are willing to suppress your enemies for you, using all the power of the government.

This year the movie industry made $30 billion (1/3 in the U.S.) from box-office revenue.

But the total movie industry revenue was $87 billion. Where did the other $57 billion come from?

From sources that the studios at one time claimed would put them out of business: Pay-per view TV, cable and satellite channels, video rentals, DVD sales, online ...

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January 3rd, 2012

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PayPal orders the destruction of a violin

Why would PayPal order the destruction of property? PayPal somehow felt the violin was inauthentic, despite the fact that it had been verified by an expert. All the same, why not return the product to the seller? Why destroy it instead?

Rather than have the violin returned to me, PayPal made the buyer DESTROY the violin in order to get his money back. They somehow deemed the violin as “counterfeit” even though there is no such thing in the violin ...

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January 3rd, 2012

In Technology

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Path dependency regarding TV displays

Decisions made during the 1930s haunt us to this day:

The first problem is unique (I hope) to 720p LCD TVs. 720p is an HD broadcast standard that’s defined as having a resolution of 1280×720. A 720p TV is able to display that image without any downscaling. So, naively, you’d expect them to have 1280×720 displays. Now obviously I wouldn’t bother mentioning this unless there was some kind of hilarious insanity involved, so you’ll be entirely unsurprised when I tell you ...

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January 2nd, 2012

In Technology

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WebSockets are a new World Wide Web

In their book Restful Web Services the authors Leonard Richardson and Sam Ruby argue that the web is the HTTP protocol. If you are using HTTP, then you are using the web, and if you are not using HTTP, then you are not using the web.

So what should we call the network dominated by Websockets? This is not HTTP, does that mean we are no longer talking about the web?

HTTP was invented in 1989 and has done well ...

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