Mike Loukides

Mike Loukides is Vice President of Content Strategy for O'Reilly Media, Inc. He's edited many highly regarded books on technical subjects that don't involve Windows programming. He's particularly interested in programming languages, Unix and what passes for Unix these days, and system and network administration. Mike is the author of System Performance Tuning", and a coauthor of "Unix Power Tools." Most recently, he's been fooling around with data and data analysis, languages like R, Mathematica, and Octave, and thinking about how to make books social.

Phishing in Facebook’s Pond

Facebook scraping could lead to machine-generated spam so good that it's indistinguishable from legitimate messages.

A recent blog post inquired about the incidence of Facebook-based spear phishing: the author suddenly started receiving email that appeared to be from friends (though it wasn’t posted from their usual email addresses), making the usual kinds of offers and asking him to click on the usual links. He wondered whether this was a phenomenon and how…
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Really Understanding Computation

Tom Stuart's new book will shed light on what you're really doing when you're programming.

It’s great to see that Tom Stuart’s Understanding Computation has made it out. I’ve been excited about this book ever since we signed it. Understanding Computation started from Tom’s talk Programming with…
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Understanding skepticism

Skepticism isn't a blanket rejection of data; it's central to understanding data.

I’d like to correct the impression, given by Derrick Harris on GigaOm, that I’m part of a backlash against “big data.” I’m not skeptical about data or the power of data, but you don’t have to look very far or very hard to see data abused. The best people to be skeptical about the data, and to…
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Burning the silos

The boundaries created by traditional management are just getting in the way of reducing product cycle times.

If I’ve seen any theme come up repeatedly over the past year, it’s getting product cycle times down. It’s not the sexiest or most interesting theme, but it’s everywhere: if it’s not on the front burner, it’s always simmering in the background. Cutting product cycles to the bare minimum is one of the main themes of the Velocity Conference and…
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Yet another Kickstarter: Otherlabs’ Home Milling Machine

If you have a good memory, you know that I’ve written about 3D printers. Technically, I grew up with the laser printer; my first computer industry job (part-time while getting an English PhD) was with Imagen, a startup that built the first laser printer that cost under $20,000, then the first that cost under $10,000, then under $7,000,…
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Another Serving of Data Skepticism

I was thrilled to receive an invitation to a new meetup: the NYC Data Skeptics Meetup. If you’re in the New York area, and you’re interested in seeing data used honestly, stop by! That announcement pushed me to write another post about data skepticism. The past few days, I’ve seen a resurgence of the slogan that correlation…
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Leading Indicators

In a conversation with Q Ethan McCallum (who should be credited as co-author), we wondered how to evaluate data science groups. If you’re looking at an organization’s data science group from the outside, possibly as a potential employee, what can you use to evaluate it? It’s not a simple problem under the best of conditions: you’re not an…
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Google Glass and the Future

I just read a Forbes article about Glass, talking about the split between those who are “sure that it is the future of technology, and others who think society will push back against the technology.” I don’t see this as a dichotomy (and, to be fair, I’m not sure that the author does either). I expect to see…
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Glowing Plants

I just invested in BioCurious’ Glowing Plants project on Kickstarter. I don’t watch Kickstarter closely, but this is about as fast as I’ve ever seen a project get funded. It went live on Wednesday; in the afternoon, I was backer #170 (more or less), but could see the number of backers ticking upwards constantly as…
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Data skepticism

If data scientists aren't skeptical about how they use and analyze data, who will be?

A couple of months ago, I wrote that “big data” is heading toward the trough of a hype curve as a result of oversized hype and promises. That’s certainly true. I see more expressions of skepticism about the value of data every day. Some of the skepticism is a reaction against the hype; a lot of it arises…
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