- Multithreading is Hard — The compiler and the processor both conspire to defeat your threads by moving your code around! Be warned and wary! You will have to do battle with both. Sample code and explanation of WTF the eieio barrier is (hint: nothing to do with Old McDonald’s server farm). (via Erik Michaels-Ober)
- Improving Photo Search (Google Research) — volume of training images, number of CPU cores, and Freebase entities. (via Alex Dong)
- Is Google Dumping Open Standards for Open Wallets? (Matt Asay) — it’s easier to ship than standardise, to innovate than integrate, but the ux of a citizen in the real world is pants. Like blog posts? Log into Facebook to read your friends! (or Google+) Chat is great, but you’d better have one client per corporation your friends hang out on. Nobody woke up this morning asking for features to make web pages only work on one browser. The user experience of isolationism is ugly.
- GitHub Renders GeoJSON — Under the hood we use Leaflet.js to render the geoJSON data, and overlay it on a custom version of MapBox’s street view baselayer — simplified so that your data can really shine. Best of all, the base map uses OpenStreetMap data, so if you find an area to improve, edit away.
Thread Problems, Better Image Search, Open Standards, and GitHub Maps
Backbone Stack, Automating Card Games, Ozzie on PRISM, and Stuff that Matters
- Our Backbone Stack (Pamela Fox) — fascinating glimpse into the tech used and why.
- Automating Card Games Using OpenCV and Python — My vision for an automated version of the game was simple. Players sit across a table on which the cards are laid out. My program would take a picture of the cards and recognize them. It would then generate valid expression that yielded 24, and then project the answer on to the table.
- Ray Ozzie on PRISM — posted on Hacker News (!). In particular, in this world where “SaaS” and “software eats everything” and “cloud computing” and “big data” are inevitable and already pervasive, it pains me to see how 3rd Party Doctrine may now already be being leveraged to effectively gut the intent of U.S. citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights. Don’t we need a common-sense refresh to the wording of our laws and potentially our constitution as it pertains to how we now rely upon 3rd parties? It makes zero sense in a “services age” where granting third parties limited rights to our private information is so basic and fundamental to how we think, work, conduct and enjoy life. (via Alex Dong)
- Larry Brilliant’s Commencement Speech (HufPo) — speaking to med grads, he’s full of purpose and vision and meaning for their lives. His story is amazing. I wish more CS grads were inspired to work on stuff that matters, and cautioned about adding their great minds to the legion trying to solve the problem of connecting you with brands you love.
Back in 2006, Debra Chrapaty, then VP of Operations for Windows Live (later CIO at Zynga, and now CEO of Nirvanix) made a prescient comment to me: “In the future, being a developer on someone’s platform will mean being hosted on their infrastructure.” As it often turns out, things don’t work out quite as planned. A few months later, Amazon announced EC2, and it was Amazon, not Microsoft, that became the platform whose infrastructure startups chose to host their applications on. But Debra certainly nailed the big idea!
I wrote a blog post about that conversation, entitled Operations: The New Secret Sauce, which included the statement “Operations used to be thought of as boring. It’s now ground zero in the computing wars.” Jesse Robbins, then “Master of Disaster” at Amazon and later co-founder and CEO of Opscode, told me that everyone in operations at Amazon printed out that blog post and posted it in their cubicles. Operations had been a relatively low-status job. Jesse told me that was the first time anyone had made a strong public statement about how important it was becoming.
As a result of that post, Jesse, Steve Souders, and a group of others came to me the following year and said “We need a gathering place for our tribe.” That gathering place became the Velocity Conference, now in its sixth year. We chose to include not just web operations, but also web performance and the emerging field of “DevOps” – the development model for applications hosted in the cloud.
This seems to be part of the secret sauce of some of our most successful events: the recognition that it’s not just about technology but the people who put it into practice. At the heart of conferences like Velocity and Strata are new job descriptions, new skills, and new opportunities to grow careers and companies. That’s also why we increasingly think of these events not as conferences but as gathering places for communities. Technology matters. The people who put it into practice matter more.
The Velocity Conference starts tomorrow in Santa Clara. There is still time to attend.
Deep Learning, Internet of ux Nightmares, Mozilla Science Lab, and Ground-Up Computing
- Weekend Reads on Deep Learning (Alex Dong) — an article and two videos unpacking “deep learning” such as multilayer neural networks.
- The Internet of Actual Things — “I have 10 reliable activations remaining,” your bulb will report via some ridiculous light-bulbs app on your phone. “Now just nine. Remember me when I’m gone.” (via Andy Baio)
- Announcing the Mozilla Science Lab (Kaitlin Thaney) — We also want to find ways of supporting and innovating with the research community – building bridges between projects, running experiments of our own, and building community. We have an initial idea of where to start, but want to start an open dialogue to figure out together how to best do that, and where we can be of most value..
- NAND to Tetris — The site contains all the software tools and project materials necessary to build a general-purpose computer system from the ground up. We also provide a set of lectures designed to support a typical course on the subject. (via Hacker News)
The magic starts when household devices can communicate over a network.
Well over a decade ago, Bill Joy was mocked for talking about a future that included network-enabled refrigerators. That was both unfair and unproductive, and since then, I’ve been interested in a related game: take the most unlikely household product you can and figure out what you could do if it were network-enabled. That might have been a futuristic exercise in 1998, but the future is here. Now. And there are few reasons we couldn’t have had that future back then, if we’d have the vision.
So, what are some of the devices that could be Internet-enabled, and what would that mean? We’re already familiar with the Nest; who would have thought even five years ago that we’d have Internet-enabled thermostats?
A strange ad from a defense contractor leads us to talk about technology transfer, and Edward Snowden chooses an unnecessarily inflammatory refuge.
On this week’s podcast, Jim Stogdill, Roger Magoulas and I talk about things that have been on our minds lately: the NSA’s surveillance programs, what defense contractors will do with their technology as defense budgets dry up, and a Californian who isn’t doing what you think he’s doing with hydroponics.
Because we’re friendly Web stewards, we provide links to the more obscure things that we talk about in our podcasts. Here they are.
- As the Vietnam War wound down, Boeing dabbled in both futuristic and not-so-futuristic public transit systems.
- In his farewell address, Dwight Eisenhower anticipated the rise of a military-industrial complex–a permanent, infrastructural presence for military contractors. In his “Chance for Peace” address, also very moving, Eisenhower enumerated the costs of military preparedness: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”
- The Guardian interviewed Edward Snowden on video in Hong Kong, where he has fled to avoid prosecution for leaking the NSA PowerPoint deck that has caused a firestorm.
- A programmer has linked Arduinos with hydroponics to optimize growth patterns.
- For an overview of how software and industry might come together, take a look at my research report on the industrial internet, including a bit of background on Sight Machine, which makes quality control software for factories. (Full disclosure: O’Reilly’s sister firm, O’Reilly Alpha Tech Ventures, has become an investor in Sight Machine since I wrote the report.)