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.
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)
Eigenmorality — caution: linear algebra and morality, two subjects that many programmers struggle with. (via Pete Warden)
word2vec — This 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.
What Every Frontend Developer Should Know about Page Rendering — Rendering 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.
Cayley — an open-source graph inspired by the graph database behind Freebase and Google’s Knowledge Graph.
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.
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)
Charlie Stross on 2034 — every 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)
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.
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
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)
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.
The Mirrortocracy — It’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.
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.
Minimum Viable Block Chain — What follows is an attempt to explain, from the ground up, why the particular pieces (digital signatures, proof-of-work, transaction blocks) are needed, and how they all come together to form the “minimum viable block chain” with all of its remarkable properties.
Scott Hanselman’s Tips — Keep your emails to 3-4 sentences, Hanselman says. Anything longer should be on a blog or wiki or on your product’s documentation, FAQ or knowledge base. “Anywhere in the world except email because email is where you keystrokes go to die,” he says.
Dynamo and BigTable — good preso overview of two approaches to solving availability and consistency in the event of server failure or network partition.
Goals Gone Wild (PDF) — In this article, we argue that the beneficial effects of goal setting have been overstated and that systematic harm caused by goal setting has been largely ignored. We identify specific side effects associated with goal setting, including a narrow focus that neglects non-goal areas, a rise in unethical behavior, distorted risk preferences, corrosion of organizational culture, and reduced intrinsic motivation.
Tech Isn’t All Brogrammers (Alexis Madrigal) — a reminder that there are real scientists and engineers in Silicon Valley working on problems considerably harder than selling ads and delivering pet food to one another. (via Brian Behlendorf)
Sensors and Citizens: Finding Balance in the New Urban Reality (Frog Design) — as the sensor systems themselves become capable of autonomous data collection and information creation, we will begin to encounter closed-loop spatial sensing networks capable not only of taking instructions, but also of taking action. When that happens, nearly every industry and government imaginable—and your daily life—will be deeply affected. This is exciting, scary, and inevitable.