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: 7 July 2014

Four short links: 7 July 2014

GV Library, Blockchain Equity, Organisation Anti-Patterns, and Cognitive Biases in Software Engineering

  1. Google Ventures Library — collection of design, engineering, founder docs.
  2. SWARM — crypto equity. Stock via the blockchain. (via Jesse Vincent)
  3. Organisational Anti-Patterns (Leigh Honeywell) — failure modes involving power and labour.
  4. Cognitive Biases in Software Engineering (Jonathan Klein) — failure modes for estimations, testing, and evaluations explained with psychology. Because brains.
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Four short links: 4 July 2014

Deleted Transparency, Retro Theme, MPA Suckage, and Ultrasonic Comms

  1. The Flipside of the Right To Be Forgotten (Business Insider) — deletion requests were granted for a former politician who wanted to remove links to a news article about his behavior when previously in office – so that he can have a clean slate when running for a new position – and a man who was convicted of possessing child sexual abuse imagery.
  2. BOOTSTRA.386 — gorgeously retro theme for Bootstrap.
  3. Multi-Process Architectures Suck — detailed and painful look at the computational complexity and costs of multiprocess architectures.
  4. Chromecast Ultrasonic CommsIn the new system, Chromecast owners first allow support for nearby devices. A nearby device then requests access to the Chromecast, and the Chromecast plays an ultrasonic sound through the connected TV’s speakers. The sound is then picked up by the microphone in the device, which allows it to pair with the TV. (via Greg Linden)
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Four short links: 3 July 2014

Four short links: 3 July 2014

Go Libraries, Salary Transparency, Printed Houses, and IoT Alliance

  1. DropBox Opensources Go Libraries — including memcache and a general abstraction for caching layers.
  2. Transparency with Salaries (NPR) — Atkison has meetings like this all the time. He says it gives him a chance to explain why some employees make more than others — and to explain to employees how they can make more. For a lot of employees, knowing what everyone makes is less exciting than it seems. By moving from negotiation to clear expectations of salary levels, bumps, etc., I can also see it helping the company understand what it values.
  3. Printing Buildings from Recycled Materials (ComputerWorld) — The printers, supplied by WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, are 20 feet tall, 33 feet wide and 132 feet long. Like their desktop counterparts, the construction-grade WinSun 3D printers use a fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology to deposit materials one layer at a time in a process that’s similar to squeezing frosting from a pastry bag. 10 single-room buildings in a day. (via Slashdot)
  4. Microsoft Joins Internet-of-Things Alliance (Computerworld) — more vendors joining AllSeen Alliance to agree on the open comms standards for IoT apps and devices. Google/Nest notable by their absence.
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Four short links: 2 July 2014

Four short links: 2 July 2014

Facebook Research, Mountain Game, Dollar Vans, and Eigenmorality

  1. Experimental Evidence of Massive-scale Emotional Contagion Through Social Networks — I suspect many more people have expressed an opinion on the research than have read the research.
  2. Mountain — a new game in which you are (wait for it) a mountain. From the creator of the fake game in Her. (via Chris McDowall)
  3. NYC’s Dollar Vans (New Yorker) — New York’s unofficial shuttles, called “dollar vans” in some neighborhoods, make up a thriving transportation system that operates where the subway and buses don’t. A somewhat invisible economy. (via Seb Chan)
  4. Eigenmorality — caution: linear algebra and morality, two subjects that many programmers struggle with. (via Pete Warden)
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Four short links: 1 July 2014

Four short links: 1 July 2014

Efficient Representation, Page Rendering, Graph Database, Warning Effectiveness

  1. word2vecThis tool provides an efficient implementation of the continuous bag-of-words and skip-gram architectures for computing vector representations of words. These representations can be subsequently used in many natural language processing applications and for further research. From Google Research paper Efficient Estimation of Word Representations in Vector Space.
  2. What Every Frontend Developer Should Know about Page RenderingRendering has to be optimized from the very beginning, when the page layout is being defined, as styles and scripts play the crucial role in page rendering. Professionals have to know certain tricks to avoid performance problems. This arcticle does not study the inner browser mechanics in detail, but rather offers some common principles.
  3. Cayleyan open-source graph inspired by the graph database behind Freebase and Google’s Knowledge Graph.
  4. Alice in Warningland (PDF) — We performed a field study with Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox’s telemetry platforms, allowing us to collect data on 25,405,944 warning impressions. We find that browser security warnings can be successful: users clicked through fewer than a quarter of both browser’s malware and phishing warnings and third of Mozilla Firefox’s SSL warnings. We also find clickthrough rates as high as 70.2% for Google Chrome SSL warnings, indicating that the user experience of a warning can have tremendous impact on user behaviour.
Comments: 7
Four short links: 30 June 2014

Four short links: 30 June 2014

Interacting with Connected Objects, Continuous Security Review, Chess AI, and Scott Hanselman is Hilarious

  1. Interacting with a World of Connected Objects (Tom Coates) — notes from one of my favourite Foo Camp sessions.
  2. Security Considerations with Continuous Deployment (IBM) — rundown of categories of security issues your org might face, and how to tackle them in the continuous deployment cycle. (via Emma Jane Westby)
  3. The Chess Master and the Computer (Garry Kasparov) — Increasingly, a move isn’t good or bad because it looks that way or because it hasn’t been done that way before. It’s simply good if it works and bad if it doesn’t. Although we still require a strong measure of intuition and logic to play well, humans today are starting to play more like computers. (via Alexis Madrigal)
  4. Virtual Machines, Javascript, and Assembler (YouTube) — hilarious Velocity keynote by Scott Hanselman.
Comment: 1
Four short links: 27 June 2014

Four short links: 27 June 2014

Google MillWheel, 20yo Bug, Fast Real-Time Visualizations, and Google's Speed King

  1. MillWheel: Fault-Tolerant Stream Processing at Internet Scale — Google Research paper on the tech underlying the new cloud DataFlow tool. Watch the video. Yow.
  2. The Integer Overflow Bug That Went to Mars — long-standing (20 year old!) bug in a compression library prompts a wave of new releases. No word yet on whether NASA will upgrade the rover to avoid being pwned by Martian script kiddies. (update: I fell for a self-promoter. The Martians will need to find another attack vector. Huzzah!)
  3. epoch (github) — Fastly-produced open source general purpose real-time charting library for building beautiful, smooth, and high performance visualizations.
  4. Achieving Rapid Response Times in Large Online Services (YouTube) — Jeff Dean‘s keynote at Velocity. He wrote … a lot of things for this. And now he’s into deep learning ….
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Four short links: 26 June 2014

IoT Future, Latency Numbers, Mobile Performance, and Minimum Viable Bureaucracy

  1. Charlie Stross on 2034every object in the real world is going to be providing a constant stream of metadata about its environment — and I mean every object. The frameworks used for channeling this firehose of environment data are going to be insecure and ramshackle, with foundations built on decades-old design errors. (via BoingBoing)
  2. Latency Numbers Every Programmer Should Know — awesome animation so you can see how important “constants” which drive design decisions have changed over time.
  3. Extreme Web Performance for Mobile Devices (Slideshare) — notes from Maximiliano Firtman’s Velocity tutorial.
  4. Minimum Viable Bureaucracy (Laura Thomson) — notes from her Velocity talk. A portion of engineer’s time must be spent on what engineer thinks is important. It may be 100%. It may be 60%, 40%, 20%. But it should never be zero.
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Four short links: 25 June 2014

Mobile Hacks, Advertising Returns, Solid Writeup, and Predicted Future

  1. Researchers Find and Decode the Spy Tools Governments Use to Hijack Phones (Wired) — I’m fascinated to learn there’s an Italian company making (and selling) the mobile phone rootkits that governments use.
  2. On the Near Impossibility of Measuring the Returns on Advertising (PDF) — Statistical evidence from the randomized trials is very weak because the individual-level sales are incredibly volatile relative to the per capita cost of a campaign—a “small” impact on a noisy dependent variable can generate positive returns. (via Slate)
  3. Reflections on Solid Conference — recap of the conference, great for those of us who couldn’t make it. “Software is eating the world…. Hardware gives it teeth.” – Renee DiResta
  4. Cybernation: The Silent Conquest (1962)[When] computers acquire the necessary capabilities…speeded-up data processing and interpretation will be necessary if professional services are to be rendered with any adequacy. Once the computers are in operation, the need for additional professional people may be only moderate [...] There will be a small, almost separate, society of people in rapport with the advanced computers. These cyberneticians will have established a relationship with their machines that cannot be shared with the average man any more than the average man today can understand the problems of molecular biology, nuclear physics, or neuropsychiatry. Indeed, many scholars will not have the capacity to share their knowledge or feeling about this new man-machine relationship. Those with the talent for the work probably will have to develop it from childhood and will be trained as intensively as the classical ballerina. (via Simon Wardley)
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Four short links: 24 June 2014

Four short links: 24 June 2014

Failure of Imagination, Meat Failure Mode, Grand Challenges, and Data Programming

  1. Maximum Happy Imagination (Matt Jones) — questioning the true vision of Marc Andreessen’s recent Twitter discourse on the great future that awaits us. His analogies run out in the 20th century when it comes to the political, social and economic implications of his maximum happy imagination.
  2. The MirrortocracyIt’s astonishing how many of the people conducting interviews and passing judgement on the careers of candidates have had no training at all on how to do it well. Aside from their own interviews, they may not have ever seen one. I’m all for learning on your own but at least when you write a program wrong it breaks. Without a natural feedback loop, interviewing mostly runs on myth and survivor bias.
  3. Longitude Prize — six prize areas, Grand Challenge style, in clean flight, antibiotic resistance, dementia, food, water, and overcoming paralysis. Mysteriously none for library system that avoids DLL hell.
  4. The Re-Emergence of DatalogMichael Fogus overviews Datalog and provides examples of how it is implemented and used in Datomic, Cascalog, and the Bacwn Clojure library. See also notes from the talk.
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