Nat Torkington

Nat has chaired the O'Reilly Open Source Convention and other O'Reilly conferences for over a decade. He ran the first web server in New Zealand, co-wrote the best-selling Perl Cookbook, and was one of the founding Radar bloggers. He lives in New Zealand and consults in the Asia-Pacific region.

Four short links: 24 September 2014

Four short links: 24 September 2014

Platform Instrumentation, Subtle Lessons, Evidence-Based Scheduling, and Alternative World Views

  1. Introducing Heroku DX — instrumentation is now a must-have for platforms.
  2. Practical Lessons in Code Review — for every “gosh you should do this!” practice, I’m fascinated by the myriad “it just works better if you approach it like this” hard-earned lessons that lie between “let’s do code reviews” and actual success doing code reviews.
  3. Evidence-Based Scheduling — most delightful is the way in which interruptions don’t need to be time tracked, because they just fall out.
  4. Tech’s Tunnel Vision (Phil Gyford) — The default worldview of the tech industry feels constraining rather than liberating, and restricts the kinds of technology, ideas, and problems that we think about. There are alternative viewpoints, even if they’re hard to imagine. The challenge would be to make it a productive conference rather than simply hand-wringing.
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Four short links: 23 September 2014

Four short links: 23 September 2014

Alibubble, Reactive Manifesto, Lovely Logs, and Learning Design

  1. Thoughts on the Alibaba BubbleAlibaba is an offering that encourages the kind of negative Wall Street behavior none of us really want to see happen again. (via Tim O’Reilly)
  2. Reactive ManifestoWe believe that a coherent approach to systems architecture is needed, and we believe that all necessary aspects are already recognised individually: we want systems that are Responsive, Resilient, Elastic and Message Driven. We call these Reactive Systems.
  3. The Log: What Every Software Engineer Should Know About Real-time Data’s Unifying Abstraction (LinkedIn) — You can reduce the problem of making multiple machines all do the same thing to the problem of implementing a distributed consistent log to feed these processes input. The purpose of the log here is to squeeze all the non-determinism out of the input stream to ensure that each replica processing this input stays in sync.
  4. Method of Actiona collection of tools, games and articles to help you learn design.
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Four short links: 22 September 2014

Four short links: 22 September 2014

OS X Javascript, Social Key Party, E-Fail, and Microservices Testing

  1. Significance of Javascript For OS X Scripting — not just for shell scripting-type automation, now you can build Cocoa applications with Javascript. This is huge.
  2. keybase.io — social media as trust vector.
  3. I Banned E-Mail At My CompanyEmail should not be used to share information. Especially if that information is a resource that might be useful again in the future.
  4. Building Microservices at KarmaThe biggest challenge with microservices is testing. With a regular web application, an end-to-end test is easy: just click somewhere on the website, and see what changes in the database. But in our case, actions and eventual results are so far from another that it’s difficult to see exact cause and effect. A problem might bubble up from a chain, but where in the chain did it go wrong? It’s something we still haven’t solved.
Comment
Four short links: 19 September 2014

Four short links: 19 September 2014

Deep Learning Bibliography, Go Playground, Tweet-a-Program, and Memory Management

  1. Deep Learning Bibliographyan annotated bibliography of recent publications (2014-) related to Deep Learning.
  2. Inside the Go Playground — on safely offering a REPL over the web to strangers.
  3. Wolfram Tweet-a-Program — clever marketing trick, and reminiscent of Perl Golf-style “how much can you fit into how little” contests.
  4. Memory Management Reference — almost all you ever wanted to know about memory management.
Comment
Four short links: 18 September 2014

Four short links: 18 September 2014

Writing Testable Code, Magical UIs, High-Performance ssh, and BASIC Lessons

  1. Guide to Writing Testable Code (PDF) — Google’s testable code suggestions, though C++-centric.
  2. Enchanted Objects (YouTube) — David Rose at Google talking about the UX of magical UIs. (via Mary Treseler)
  3. hpn-sshHigh Performance SSH/SCP.
  4. Lost Lessons from an 8-bit BASICThe little language that fueled the home computer revolution has been long buried beneath an avalanche of derision, or at least disregarded as a relic from primitive times. That’s too bad, because while the language itself has serious shortcomings, the overall 8-bit BASIC experience has high points that are worth remembering.
Comments: 2
Four short links: 17 September 2014

Four short links: 17 September 2014

Bubble Talk, Pants Build, HTML Processing, and Use Regulation

  1. Bill Gurley on Startups and Risk (Business Insider) — No one’s fearful, everyone’s greedy, and it will eventually end.
  2. Pants — a build system from Twitter and others.
  3. pup — commandline tool for parsing and processing HTML.
  4. Use Regulation (Slate) — the take on privacy that says that data collection isn’t inherently bad, it’s the (mis)use of the data that should be policed. The author of this piece is not a believer.
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Four short links: 16 September 2014

Four short links: 16 September 2014

IoT Struggle, Embedded Tools, Download Accelerator, and Comms Smog

  1. The Epic Struggle of the Internet of Things — a Bruce Sterling Kindle single, a powerfully-written challenge to the presumed-benevolent technology-pervaded universe that we label “the Internet of Things”. The Internet of Things is not about a talking refrigerator, because that is the old-fashioned consumer retail world of electrical white goods. It’s an archaic concept, like software bought in a plastic-wrapped box from a shelf. The genuine Internet of Things wants to invade that refrigerator, measure it, instrument it, monitor any interactions with it; it would cheerfully give away a fridge at cost.
  2. mbeddra set of integrated and extensible languages for embedded software engineering, plus an IDE. It supports implementation, testing, verification and process aspects. It integrates with command-line build tools and integration servers, as well as file-based version control systems. Nice to see something beyond webdev getting tools love.
  3. Replace wget With axel — download accelerator, aka a parallel wget for situations where the fetched file has multiple servers.
  4. Photos From When Cables Crowded The Skies (io9) — the communication age’s equivalent of the industrial revolution’s smog.
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Four short links: 15 September 2014

Four short links: 15 September 2014

Weird Machines, Libraries May Scan, Causal Effects, and Crappy Dashboards

  1. The Care and Feeding of Weird Machines Found in Executable Metadata (YouTube) — talk from 29th Chaos Communication Congress, on using tricking the ELF linker/loader into arbitrary computation from the metadata supplied. Yes, there’s a brainfuck compiler that turns code into metadata which is then, through a supernatural mix of pixies, steam engines, and binary, executed. This will make your brain leak. Weird machines are everywhere.
  2. European Libraries May Digitise Books Without Permission“The right of libraries to communicate, by dedicated terminals, the works they hold in their collections would risk being rendered largely meaningless, or indeed ineffective, if they did not have an ancillary right to digitize the works in question,” the court said. Even if the rights holder offers a library the possibility of licensing his works on appropriate terms, the library can use the exception to publish works on electronic terminals, the court ruled. “Otherwise, the library could not realize its core mission or promote the public interest in promoting research and private study,” it said.
  3. CausalImpact (GitHub) — Google’s R package for estimating the causal effect of a designed intervention on a time series. (via Google Open Source Blog)
  4. Laws of Crappy Dashboards — (caution, NSFW language … “crappy” is my paraphrase) so true. Not talking to users will result in a [crappy] dashboard. You don’t know if the dashboard is going to be useful. But you don’t talk to the users to figure it out. Or you just show it to them for a minute (with someone else’s data), never giving them a chance to figure out what the hell they could do with it if you gave it to them.
Comment: 1
Four short links: 12 September 2014

Four short links: 12 September 2014

Knowledge Graphs, Multi-Language Declarations, Monitoring, and More Monitoring

  1. Google Knowledge Vault and Topic Modeling — recap of talks by Google and Facebook staff about how they use their knowledge graphs. I found this super-interesting.
  2. djinniA tool for generating cross-language type declarations and interface bindings.
  3. monita small Open Source utility for managing and monitoring Unix systems. Monit conducts automatic maintenance and repair and can execute meaningful causal actions in error situations.
  4. perf-toolingList of performance analysis, monitoring and optimization tools.
Comments: 3
Four short links: 11 September 2014

Four short links: 11 September 2014

Win98 Retro, Glass as Sensor, Theoretical CS, and Code Search

  1. windows_98.css — the compelling new look that’s sweeping the world all over again.
  2. BioGlass (MIT) — use Glass’s accelerometer, gyroscope, and camera to extract pulse and respiratory rates. (via MIT Tech Review)
  3. Building Blocks for Theoretical Computer Science — free online textbook covering what I lovingly think of as “the mathy bits of computing that are so damn hard”.
  4. The Platinum Searchercode search tool similar to ack and ag. It supports multi platforms and multi encodings. Written in go, and is fast.
Comment: 1