"Facebook" entries

Four short links: 9 July 2015

Four short links: 9 July 2015

Conservation of Attractive Profits, Prototyping Tool, Open Source PM, and Dev Snark

  1. Netflix and the Conservation of Attractive Profits (Stratechery) — Note the common element to all three of these companies: all have managed to modularize the production/delivery of their service which has allowed them to move closer to the customer. To put it another way, all of this new value is being created by specialized CRM companies: Airbnb for travelers, Uber for commuters, and Netflix for the bored.
  2. Origami — Facebook’s prototyping tool.
  3. Go as Open Source — keynote from this year’s Gophercon. I’ve been pondering lately how successful open source projects go beyond “anyone can scratch their itch,” and instead actively manage the tendency for scope creep. We’d rather have a small number of features that enable, say, 90% of the target use cases, and avoid the orders of magnitude more features necessary to reach 99% or 100%.
  4. The Universal Data StructureGiven the abysmal state of of today’s software engineering, I believe that a full embrace of the universal hash will result in better, simpler programs. Your weekly dose of snark.
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Four short links: 12 June 2015

Four short links: 12 June 2015

OLAP Datastores, Timely Dataflow, Paul Ford is God, and Static Analysis

  1. pinota realtime distributed OLAP datastore, which is used at LinkedIn to deliver scalable real time analytics with low latency. It can ingest data from offline data sources (such as Hadoop and flat files) as well as online sources (such as Kafka). Pinot is designed to scale horizontally.
  2. Naiad: A Timely Dataflow System — in Timely Dataflow, the first two features are needed to execute iterative and incremental computations with low latency. The third feature makes it possible to produce consistent results, at both outputs and intermediate stages of computations, in the presence of streaming or iteration.
  3. What is Code (Paul Ford) — What the coders aren’t seeing, you have come to believe, is that the staid enterprise world that they fear isn’t the consequence of dead-eyed apathy but rather détente. Words and feels.
  4. Facebook Infer Opensourced — the static analyzer I linked to yesterday, released as open source today.
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Four short links: 10 June 2015

Four short links: 10 June 2015

Product Sins, Container Satire, Dong Detection, and Evolving Code Designs

  1. The 11 Deadly Sins of Product Development (O’Reilly Radar) — they’re traps that are easy to fall into.
  2. It’s the Future — satire, but like all good satire it’s built on a rich vein of truth. Genuine guffaw funny, but Caution: Contains Rude Words.
  3. Difficulty of Dong Detection — accessible piece about how automated “inappropriate” detection remains elusive. (via Mind Hacks)
  4. Evolution of Code Design at Facebook — you may not have Facebook-scale scale problems, but if you’re having scale problems then Facebook’s evolution (not just their solutions) will interest you.
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Four short links: 12 February 2015

Four short links: 12 February 2015

Finance Instrument, Retro Predictions, Trust Engineering, and Haptics

  1. Update on indie.vcWe’ve worked with the team at Cooley to create an investment instrument that has elements of both debt and equity. Debt in that we will not be purchasing equity initially, but, unlike debt, there is no maturity date, no collateralization of assets and no recourse if it’s never paid back. The equity element will only become a factor if the participating company chooses to raise a round of financing or sell out to an acquiring company. We don’t have a clever acronym or name for this instrument yet, but I’m sure we’ll come up with something great.
  2. How Nathan Barley Came True (Guardian) — if you haven’t already seen Nathan Barley, you should. It’s by the guy who did Black Mirror, and it’s both awful and authentic and predictive and retro and … painfully accurate about the horrors of our Internet/New Media industry. (via BoingBoing)
  3. Trust Engineers (Radio Lab) — Facebook has a created a laboratory of human behavior the likes of which we’ve never seen. We peek into the work of Arturo Bejar and a team of researchers who are tweaking our online experience, bit by bit, to try to make the world a better place. Radio show of goodness. (via Flowing Data)
  4. DARPA’S Haptix ProjectThe goal of the HAPTIX program is to provide amputees with prosthetic limb systems that feel and function like natural limbs, and to develop next-generation sensorimotor interfaces to drive and receive rich sensory content from these limbs. Today it’s prosthetic limbs for amputees, but within five years it’ll be augmented ad-driven realities for virtual currency ambient social recommendations.
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Four short links: 4 November 2014

Four short links: 4 November 2014

3D Shares, Autonomous Golf Carts, Competitive Solar, and Interesting Data Problems

  1. Cooper-Hewitt Shows How to Share 3D Scan Data Right (Makezine) — important as we move to a web of physical models, maps, and designs.
  2. Singapore Tests Autonomous Golfcarts (Robohub) — a reminder that the future may not necessarily look like someone used the clone tool to paint Silicon Valley over the world.
  3. Solar Hits Parity in 10 States, 47 by 2016 (Bloomberg) — The reason solar-power generation will increasingly dominate: it’s a technology, not a fuel. As such, efficiency increases and prices fall as time goes on. The price of Earth’s limited fossil fuels tends to go the other direction.
  4. Facebook’s Top Open Data Problems (Facebook Research) — even if you’re not interested in Facebook’s Very First World Problems, this is full of factoids like Facebook’s social graph store TAO, for example, provides access to tens of petabytes of data, but answers most queries by checking a single page in a single machine. (via Greg Linden)
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Four short links: 23 October 2014

Four short links: 23 October 2014

Hard Javascript, Responsive Progress, Software Experiments, and Facebook Emotions

  1. You Don’t Know JSa series of [CC-licensed] books [to be published by O’Reilly] diving deep into the core mechanisms of the JavaScript language.
  2. progressbar.js — responsive progress bar.
  3. Microsoft Garage — Microsoft software experiments, in public. This is awesome.
  4. Creating Empathy on Facebook (NY Times) — On Facebook, teenagers are presented with more options than just “it’s embarrassing” when they want to remove a post. They are asked what’s happening in the post, how they feel about it and how sad they are. In addition, they are given a text box with a polite pre-written response that can be sent to the friend who hurt their feelings. (In early versions of this feature, only 20 percent of teenagers filled out the form. When Facebook added more descriptive language like “feelings” and “sadness,” the figure grew to 80 percent.)
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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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Facebook’s Hack, HHVM, and the future of PHP

What is Hack and what does it mean for the future of PHP?

Photo: thebusybrain https://www.flickr.com/photos/thebusybrain/3283201861/
Facebook recently released Hack, a new programming language that looks and acts like PHP. Underneath the hood, however, are a ton of features like static typing, generics, native collections, and many more features for which PHP developers have long been asking. Syntax aside, Hack is not PHP. Hack runs only on Facebook’s HipHop virtual machine (HHVM), a competitor to the traditional PHP Zend Engine.

Why did Facebook build Hack?

Much of Facebook’s internal code is first written with PHP. Facebook can onboard new developers quickly with PHP because the language is notoriously easy to learn and use. Granted, much of Facebook’s PHP code is likely converted to a C derivative before being pushed into production. The point is Facebook depends strongly on the PHP language to attract new talent and increase developer efficiency.

Strict Typing

Unfortunately, PHP may not perform as well as possible at Facebook’s scale. PHP is a loosely typed language and type-related errors may not be recognized until runtime. This means Facebook must write more tests early to enforce type checking, or spend more time refactoring runtime errors after launch. To solve this problem, Facebook added strict typing and runtime-enforcement of return types to Hack. Strict typing nullifies the need for a lot of type-related unit tests and encourages developers to catch type-related errors sooner in the development process.

Instantaneous Type Checking

To make the development process and error-catching process even easier, Facebook includes a type-checking server with its HHVM engine. This server runs locally and monitors Hack code as it is written. Developers’ code editors and IDEs can use this type-checking server to immediately report syntax or type-related errors during code development.
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Four short links: 2 April 2014

Four short links: 2 April 2014

Fault-Tolerant Resilient Yadda Yadda, Tour Tips, Punch Cards, and Public Credit

  1. Resilient Distributed Datasets: A Fault-Tolerant Abstraction for In-Memory Cluster Computing (PDF) — Berkeley research paper behind Apache Spark. (via Nelson Minar)
  2. Angular Tour — trivially add tour tips (“This is the widget basket, drag and drop for widget goodness!” type of thing) to your Angular app.
  3. Punchcard — generate Github-style punch card charts “with ease”.
  4. Where Credit Belongs for Hack (Bryan O’Sullivan) — public credit for individual contributors in a piece of corporate open source is a sign of confidence in your team, that building their public reputation isn’t going to result in them leaving for one of the many job offers they’ll receive. And, of course, of caring for your individual contributors. Kudos Facebook.
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Four short links: 14 March 2014

Four short links: 14 March 2014

Facebook Criticism, New Games, Face Recognition, and Public Uber

  1. The Facebook experiment has failed. Let’s go backFacebook gets worse the more you use it. The innovation within Facebook happens within a framework that’s taken as given. This essay questions that frame, well.
  2. Meet the People Making New Games for Old Hardware“We’re all fighting for the same goal,” Cobb says. “There’s something artistic, and disciplined, about creating games for machines with limited hardware. You can’t pass off bloat as content, and you can’t drop in a licensed album in place of a hand-crafted digital soundtrack. To make something great you have to work hard, and straight from the heart. That’s what a lot of gamers still wish to see. And we’re happy to provide it for them.”
  3. DeepFace: Closing the Gap to Human-Level Performance in Face Verification — Facebook research into using deep neural networks for face recognition. Our method reaches an accuracy of 97.25% on the Labeled Faces in the Wild (LFW) dataset, reducing the error of the current state of the art by more than 25%, closely approaching human-level performance. “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads.” —Jeff Hammerbacher.
  4. Helsinki Does Uber for BusesHelsinki’s Kutsuplus lets you select your pick-up and drop-off locations and times, using a phone app, and then sends out a bus to take you exactly where you need to go.
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