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A foundation of empathy: The O’Reilly Radar Podcast

Putting ourselves in the shoes of the user is key to building better systems and services.

Editor’s note: you can subscribe to the O’Reilly Radar Podcast through iTunes, SoundCloud, or directly through our podcast’s RSS feed.

In this podcast episode, Tim O’Reilly talks about building systems and services for people, keeping a close eye on the end user’s experience to build better, more efficient systems that actually work for the people using them. Highlighting a quote from Jeff Sussna, O’Reilly makes a deeper connection between development and the ultimate purpose for building systems and services — user experience:

“[Jeff Sussna says in his blog post Empathy: The Essence of DevOps]: ‘It’s not about making developers and sysadmins report to the same VP. It’s not about automating all your configuration procedures. It’s not about tipping up a Jenkins server, or running your applications in the cloud, or releasing your code on Github. It’s not even about letting your developers deploy their code to a PaaS. The true essence of DevOps is empathy.’

“Understanding the other people that you work with and how you’re going to work together more effectively. That word ‘empathy’ struck me and it made me connect the world of DevOps with the world of user experience design.”

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Asynchronous now!

Everyone wants an alternative to email, but do we really need one?

Telephone_Exchange_PhotoAtelier_Flickr

Editor’s note: this post originally appeared on Medium; it is republished here with permission.

Conventional workplace wisdom declares email a daily scourge. We receive too much of it. We spend too much time replying to it. We concoct elaborate strategies to cope with it and avoid incurring a debt that downward-spirals to email bankruptcy.

We bow down at the altar of Inbox Zero, the methodology that dictates we take prompt, concrete action to dispatch with every single message we receive. Reply to it. Or file it. Or delete it. We turn the drudgery of processing the flood of correspondence into a game. Inbox Zero, FTW! Achievement unlocked … till the next time we hit refresh. Because emails are like gray hairs: for every one we send packing, five more will soon arrive in its place. Any client-side strategy we take to conquer our inboxes is thus limited by the fact that it’s palliative, not ameliorative. Perpetuating Inbox Zero means living in a constant state of vigilance, aggressively and swiftly responding to every incoming message. It means becoming an email answering machine!

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Four short links: 2 October 2014

Four short links: 2 October 2014

I Heart Logs, CS50 Eating The World, Meeting Transcripts, Binary Analysis

  1. I Heart Logs — I linked to Jay Kreps’s awesome blog post twice, and now he’s expanded it into a slim O’Reilly volume which I shall press into the hands of every engineer I meet. Have you heard the Good News?
  2. CS50 Record Numbers — nearly 12% of Harvard now takes Intro to CS. (via Greg Linden)
  3. SayIt — open source from MySociety, a whole new way to organise, publish,
    and share your transcripts
    . They really want to make a better experience for sharing and organising transcripts of meetings.
  4. BAP — Binary Analysis Platform from CMU. Translates binary into assembly and then into an intermediate language which explicitly represents the side effects of assembly instructions, such as flag computations.
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Stop hacking random stuff. It’s getting trivial.

Once we acknowledge nearly everything is insecure, we can engage in a more nuanced discussion about security.

Keep_Gate_Closed_mt2ri_FlickrI was gratified to read Dave Aitel’s rant about junk hacking last week [via Peter Lewis and abridged below]:

“Yes, we get it. Cars, boats, buses, and those singing fish plaques are all hackable and have no security. Most conferences these days have a whole track called ‘Junk I found around my house and how I am going to scare you by hacking it.’ That stuff is always going to be hackable whetherornotyouarethecalvalry.org.

“Yes, there is Junk in your garage, and you can hack it, and if
you find someone else who happens to have that exact same Junk, you can probably hack that, too, but maybe not, because testing is hard.

“Cars are the pinnacle of junk hacking, because they are meant to be in your garage. Obviously there is no security on car computers. Nor (and I hate to break the suspense) *will there ever be*. Yes, you can connect a device to my midlife crisis car and update the CPU of the battery itself with malware, which can in theory explode my whole car on the way to BJJ. I personally hope you don’t. But I know it’s possible the same way I know it’s possible to secretly rewire my toaster oven to overcook my toast every time even when I put it on the lowest setting, driving me slowly but surely insane.

“So in any case, enough with the Junk Hacking, and enough with being amazed when people hack their junk.”

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In pursuit of universal IoT standards

Universal standards could super-charge IoT growth, but can we get there?

network_by_Simon_Cockell_Flickr

The first remotely operated domestic machine — a toaster — was connected to the Internet less than a quarter-century ago, in 1990. The Internet of Things (IoT) doubled in size a year later with the addition of a coffee pot. Eventually, the Internet Engineering Task Force Network Working Group assigned the coffee pot its own specific standard, HTCPCP 1.0, the Hyper Text Coffee Pot Control Protocol, RFC 2324.

The Internet of Things has grown a bit since then, to somewhere between two billion and 10 billion devices, depending on who’s counting. But it could grow even faster, according to many of the biggest names in the global technology industry, if everyone would just agree on a universal set of technical standards.

The trillion-dollar question is, whose standards? Read more…

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Signals from Velocity New York 2014

From the lure of work that matters to building your own device lab, here are key talks from Velocity New York 2014.

Practitioners and experts from the web operations and performance worlds came together in New York City this week for Velocity New York 2014. Below you’ll find a handful of keynotes and interviews from the event that we found particularly notable.


Mikey Dickerson: From Google to HealthCare.gov to the U.S. Digital Service

“These problems are fixable, these problems are important, but they require you to choose to work on them” — Mikey Dickerson looks back on what it took to fix HealthCare.gov and he reveals his reasons for joining the U.S. Digital Service.

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