OpenStack: A Plea — critical take on OpenStack, also in this presentation. Notes the proliferation of inefficiency, devops bolted onto the side, and the long feedback cycle. You code differently when you have a pager. (via Sam Ramji)
Some Lecturing Heuristics — Realize further that your mood may be determined by only a few people. A smiling nodder will make you feel good, and you will do better. People reading newspapers will make you feel bad, and you will do worse. Do not permit people to do things that make you feel bad.
On Managers (Mike Migurski) — Managers might be difficult, hostile, or useless, but because they are parts of an explicit power structure they can be evaluated explicitly.
Big Data: Humans Required (Sherri Hammons) — the heart of the problem with data: interpretation. Data by itself is of little value. It is only when it is interpreted and understood that it begins to become information. GovTech recently wrote an article outlining why search engines will not likely replace actual people in the near future. If it were merely a question of pointing technology at the problem, we could all go home and wait for the Answer to Everything. But, data doesn’t happen that way. Data is very much like a computer: it will do just as it’s told. No more, no less. A human is required to really understand what data makes sense and what doesn’t. (via Anne Zelenka)
Morgan Stanley on the Economic Benefits of Driverless Cars — The total savings of over $5.6 trillion annually are not envisioned until a couple of decades as Morgan Stanley see four phases of adoption of self-driving vehicles. Phase 1 is already underway, Phase 2 will be semi-autonomous, Phase 3 will be within 5 to 10 years, by which time we will see fully self-driving vehicles on the roads – but not widespread usage. The authors say Phase 4, which will have the biggest impact, is when 100% of all vehicles on the roads will be fully autonomous, they say this may take a couple of decades.
Worse (Marco Arment) — I’ve been sitting on this but can’t fault it. In the last few years, Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter have all made huge attempts to move into major parts of each others’ businesses, usually at the detriment of their customers or users.
High Volume Web Sites — Tim Berners-Lee answers my question on provisioning a popular web server in 1993. The info.cern.ch server which has the Subject Catalogue gets probably a relatively high usage, about 10k requests a day, or (thinks…) one every 9 seconds. the CPU load is negligible. In fact of course the peak rate is higher, but still its not really a factor. That was when the server forked a subprocess for each request, too. See also one of my early contributions to the nascent field of web operations (language alert).
Tim Berners-Lee Calls For Web Magna Carta (Guardian) — Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.
BroApp — Automatically message your girlfriend sweet things so you can spend more time with the Bros. Reminds me of the Electric Monk in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. The monk notices that humans have machines to watch TV for them. Now we have machines to be shitty boyfriends for us. (via Beta Knowledge)
World Science U — quick answers, short courses, long MOOCs. I wonder how you’d know whether this was effective at increasing scientific literacy, and therefore whether it’d be worth doing for computational thought or programming.
Wolfram Language — a broad attempt to integrate types, operations, and databases along with deployment, parallelism, and real-time I/O. The demo video is impressive, not just in execution but in ambition. Healthy skepticism still necessary.
Maury, Innovation, and Change (Cory Ondrejka) — amazing historical story of open data, analysis, visualisation, and change. In the mid-1800’s, over the course of 15 years, a disabled Lieutenant changed the US Navy and the world. He did it by finding space to maneuver (as a trouble maker exiled to the Navy Depot), demonstrating value with his early publications, and creating a massive network effect by establishing the Naval Observatory as the clearing house for Navigational data. 150 years before Web 2.0, he built a valuable service around common APIs and aggregated data by distributing it freely to the people who needed it.
Commuter Shuttle and 21-Hayes EB Bus Stop Observations (Vimeo) — timelapse of 6:15AM to 9:15AM at an SF bus stop Worth watching if you’re outside SF and wondering what they’re talking about when the locals rage against SF becoming a bedroom community for Valley workers.
A Day of Speaking Truth to Power (Quinn Norton) — It was a room that had written off privacy as an archaic structure. I tried to push back, not only by pointing out this was the opening days of networked life, and so custom hadn’t caught up yet, but also by recommending danah boyd’s new book It’s Complicated repeatedly. To claim “people trade privacy for free email therefore privacy is dead” is like 1800s sweatshop owners claiming “people trade long hours in unpleasant conditions for miserable pay therefore human rights are dead”. Report of privacy’s death are greatly exaggerated.
Building a Solid World — O’Reilly research paper about the “software-enhanced networked physical world”. Gonna be mighty interesting in a world where our stuff knows more and is better connected than its owners.
What Did Not Happen at Mt Gox — interesting analysis of some of the popular theories. Overall, Bitcoin has been an ongoing massive online course on economics and distributed systems for the libertarian masses. It’s ironic that Mt. Gox turned into a chapter on fractional reserve banking.
Papers We Love (Github) — a collection of papers from the computer science community to read and discuss.
Twitter I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down (Quinn Norton) — The net doesn’t make social problems. It amplifies them until they can’t be ignored. And many other words of wisdom. When you eruditely stop using a service, that’s called sage-quitting.
Light Table is Open Source — this matters because these experiments in semantic interactivity inform technical UIs of the future, and the more ubiquitous this code is then the more effect it can have and the sooner we can have the future.
The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Will Amaze and Astound You (New Yorker) — Berger and Milkman found that two features predictably determined an article’s success: how positive its message was and how much it excited its reader. The obvious part is that we develop immunity to things that catch our attention: our brains are well-developed systems for filtering, and the only constant is that advertisers will need novelty.
Making Remote Work — The reality of a remote workplace is that the connections are largely artificial constructs. People can be very, very isolated. A person’s default behavior when they go into a funk is to avoid seeking out interactions, which is effectively the same as actively withdrawing in a remote work environment. It takes a tremendous effort to get on video chats, use our text based communication tools, or even call someone during a dark time. Very good to see this addressed in a post about remote work.
Using CMOS Sensors in a Cellphone for Gamma Detection and Classification (Arxiv) — another sense in your pocket. The CMOS camera found in many cellphones is sensitive to ionized electrons. Gamma rays penetrate into the phone and produce ionized electrons that are then detected by the camera. Thermal noise and other noise needs to be removed on the phone, which requires an algorithm that has relatively low memory and computational requirements. The continuous high-delta algorithm described fits those requirements. (via Medium)
LayoutIt — drag-and-drop design using Bootstrap components. These tools are proliferating, as the standard design frameworks like Bootstrap make them possible. There’s unsustainable complexity in building web sites today, which means something will give: the web will lose to something, the technology forming the web will iterate, or the tools for the web will improve.
How Silicon Valley Became The Man — I’m fascinated by the sudden spike in anti-corporate tension in SF. This interview gives me some useful vocabulary: New Communalists and the New Left. And two more books to read …
Witrack — tracks the 3D motion of a user from the radio signals reflected off her body. It works even if the person is occluded from the WiTrack device or in a different room. WiTrack does not require the user to carry any wireless device, yet its accuracy exceeds current RF localization systems, which require the user to hold a transceiver. It transmits wireless signals whose power is 100 times smaller than Wi-Fi and 1000 times smaller than cellphone transmissions.
A Linux Christmas — Linux drives pretty much all of Amazon’s top-selling consumer electronics.
The Internet of Things That Do What You Tell Them: Cory Doctorow passionately explains how computers are already entwined in our lives, which means laws that support lock-in are much more than inconveniences.