Program Synthesis Explained — The promise of program synthesis is that programmers can stop telling computers how to do things, and focus instead on telling them what they want to do. Inductive program synthesis tackles this problem with fairly vague specifications and, although many of the algorithms seem intractable, in practice they work remarkably well.
Ev Williams on Metrics — a master-class in how to think about and measure what matters. If what you care about — or are trying to report on — is impact on the world, it all gets very slippery. You’re not measuring a rectangle, you’re measuring a multi-dimensional space. You have to accept that things are very imperfectly measured and just try to learn as much as you can from multiple metrics and anecdotes.
Nature, the IT Wizard (Nautilus) — a fun walk through the connections between information theory, computation, and biology.
Governance for the New Class of Worker (Matt Webb) — there is a new class of worker. They’re not inside the company – not benefiting from job security or healthcare – but their livelihoods in large part dependent on it, the transaction cost of moving to a competitor deliberately kept high. Or the worker is, without seeing any of the upside of success, taking on the risk or bearing the cost of the company’s expansion and operation.
Hidden Code in Your Chipset (Slideshare) — there’s a processor that supervises your processor, and it’s astonishingly fully-featured (to the point of having privileged access to the network and being able to run Java code).
On Nerd Entitlement — Privilege doesn’t mean you don’t suffer. The best part of 2014 was the tech/net feminist consciousness-raising/uprising. That’s probably the wrong label for it, but bullshit is being called that was ignored years ago. I think we’ve collectively found the next thing we fix that future generations will look back on us and wonder why it went unremarked-upon for so long.
Understanding Paxos — a simple introduction, with animations, to one of the key algorithms in distributed systems.
Apache (and Other Foundations) Considered Useful (Chris Aniszczyk) — have over a decade of experience being built for the sole purpose of allowing independent open source communities to flourish with fair governance models […] This is important because the incentives between individuals small companies, large companies, heavily funded companies and even academics are different and need to be accounted for in a fair open source governance structure. Sustainability of software commons is an unsolved problem, but foundations make it tractable.
Reith Lectures — this year’s lectures are by Atul Gawande, talking about preventable failure and systemic improvement — topics of particular relevance to devops cultural devotees. (via BoingBoing)
Chinese Mobile App UI Trends — interesting differences between US and China. Phone number authentication interested me: You key in your number and receive a confirmation code via SMS. Here, all apps offer this type of phone number registration/login (if not prefer it). This also applies to websites, even those without apps. (via Matt Webb)
Material Up — material design inspiration. MD is a physics engine for UI.
Flafka (Cloudera) — Flume plus Kafka, offers sub-second-latency event processing without the need for dedicated infrastructure. (via Abishek Tiwari)
terraform.io — open source package providing a common configuration to launch infrastructure, from physical and virtual servers to email and DNS providers.
Remote Work: An Engineering Leader’s Perspective — Even proponents of remote work seem to think that you should either have a distributed team from the get go, or stick to a traditional on-site team. Our experience shows that this is incorrect…
Better All The Time (New Yorker) — What we’re seeing is, in part, the mainstreaming of excellent habits. […] Everyone works hard. Everyone is really good.
Stop Trying to Save the World (New Republic) — What I want to talk shit on is the paradigm of the Big Idea—that once we identify the correct one, we can simply unfurl it on the entire developing world like a picnic blanket. (note: some pottymouth language in this article, and some analysis I wholeheartedly agree with.)
Christmas in Yiwu — We travelled by container ship across the East China Sea before following the electronics supply chain around China, visiting factories, distributors, wholesalers and refineries. Fascinating! 22km of corridors in the mall that dollar store buyers visit to fill their shelves. I had never seen so many variations of the same product. Dozens of Christmas stockings bearing slightly different Santas and snowmen. Small tweaks on each theme. An in-house designer creates these designs. It feels like a brute force approach to design, creating every single possibility and then letting the market decide which it wants to buy. If none of the existing designs appeal to a buyer they can get their own designs manufactured instead. When a custom design is successful, with the customer placing a large order, it is copied by the factory and offered in their range to future buyers. The factory sales agent indicated that designs weren’t protected and could be copied freely, as long as trademarks were removed. Parallels with web design left as exercise to the reader. (via the ever-discerning Mr Webb)
Wearable Power Assist Device Goes on Sale in Japan (WSJ, Paywall) — The Muscle Suit, which weighs 5.5 kilograms (12 pounds), can be worn knapsack-style and uses a mouthpiece as its control. Unlike other similar suits that rely on motors, it uses specially designed rubber tubes and compressed air as the source of its power. The Muscle Suit can help users pick up everyday loads with about a third of the usual effort. […] will sell for about ¥600,000 ($5,190), and is also available for rent at about ¥30,000 to ¥50,000 per month. Prof. Kobayashi said he expected the venture would ship 5,000 of them in 2015. (via Robot Economics)
Building a Complete Tweet Index (Twitter) — engineering behind the massive searchable Tweet collection: indexes roughly half a trillion documents and serves queries with an average latency of under 100ms.