ENTRIES TAGGED "Facebook"

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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Four short links: 3 February 2014

Four short links: 3 February 2014

Ouroborosification, Kid Curricula, Geeky Furniture, and Data Leakage

  1. How In-App Purchases Has Destroyed the Games Industry — fantastic before-and-after of a game, showing how it’s hollowed out for in-app-purchase upsell. the problem is that all the future generations of gamers are going to experience this as the default. They are going to grow up in a world, in which people actually think this is what gaming is like. That social engineering and scamming people is an acceptable way of doing business.
  2. Making Makers — kid-tested curricula for kids learning to code, to 3D print, stop motion animation, and more. (via BoingBoing)
  3. 555 Footstool in the Wild — awesome furniture in the shape of the ever-popular timing chip.
  4. What a Brand Knows About You When You Log In With Facebook (Twitter) — good lord. (via BoingBoing)
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Four short links: 11 November 2013

Four short links: 11 November 2013

Squid in the Dark, Beautiful Automation, Fan Criticism, and Petabyte Queries

  1. Living Light — 3D printed cephalopods filled with bioluminescent bacteria. PAGING CORY DOCTOROW, YOUR ORGASMATRON HAS ARRIVED. (via Sci Blogs)
  2. Repacking Lego Batteries with a CNC Mill — check out the video. Patrick programmed a CNC machine to drill out the rivets holding the Mindstorms battery pack together. Coding away a repetitive task like this is gorgeous to see at every scale. We don’t have to teach our kids a particular programming language, but they should know how to automate cruft.
  3. My Thoughts on Google+ (YouTube) — when your fans make hatey videos like this one protesting Google putting the pig of Google Plus onto the lipstick that was YouTube, you are Doin’ It Wrong.
  4. Presto: Interacting with Petabytes of Data at Facebooka distributed SQL query engine optimized for ad-hoc analysis at interactive speed. It supports standard ANSI SQL, including complex queries, aggregations, joins, and window functions. For details, see the Facebook post about its launch.
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Four short links: 9 October 2013

Four short links: 9 October 2013

Android Malware Numbers, Open Networking Hardware, Winning with Data, and DIY Pollution Sensor

  1. Android Malware Numbers — (Quartz) less than an estimated 0.001% of app installations on Android are able to evade the system’s multi-layered defenses and cause harm to users, based on Google’s analysis of 1.5B downloads and installs.
  2. Facebook Operations Chief Reveals Open Networking Plan — long interview about OCP’s network project. The specification that we are working on is essentially a switch that behaves like compute. It starts up, it has a BIOS environment to do its diagnostics and testing, and then it will look for an executable and go find an operating system. You point it to an operating system and that tells it how it will behave and what it is going to run. In that model, you can run traditional network operating systems, or you can run Linux-style implementations, you can run OpenFlow if you want. And on top of that, you can build your protocol sets and applications.
  3. How Red Bull Dominates F1 (Quartz) — answer: data, and lots of it.
  4. Ground-Level Air Pollution Sensor (Make) — neat sensor project from Make.
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Computing Twitter Influence, Part 1: Arriving at a Base Metric

The subtle variables affecting a base metric

This post introduces a series that explores the problem of approximating a Twitter account’s influence. With the ubiquity of social media and its effects on everything from how we shop to how we vote at the polls, it’s critical that we be able to employ reasonably accurate and well-understood measurements for approximating influence from social media signals.

Unlike social networks such as LinkedIn and Facebook in which connections between entities are symmetric and typically correspond to a real world connection, Twitter’s underlying data model is fundamentally predicated upon asymmetric following relationships. Another way of thinking about a following relationship is to consider that it’s little more than a subscription to a feed about some content of interest. In other words, when you follow another Twitter user, you are expressing interest in that other user and are opting-in to whatever content it would like to place in your home timeline. As such, Twitter’s underlying network structure can be interpreted as an interest graph and mined for insights about the relative popularity of one user when compared to another.
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Four short links: 20 June 2013

Four short links: 20 June 2013

Facebook Pub/Sub, Space/Time Visualization, Sean That Matters, and Keyboard Control

  1. Wormhole — Facebook’s pub/sub system. Wormhole propagates changes issued in one system to all systems that need to reflect those changes – within and across data centers.
  2. NanocubesFast Visualization of Large Spatiotemporal Datasets.
  3. Sean Gourley on Relevance (YouTube) — Is Silicon Valley really doing what it should be doing? he asks, 3m30 in. Good to see him pondering stuff that matters, back in 2011.
  4. Shortcata keyboard tool for Mac OS X that lets you “click” buttons and control your apps with a few keystrokes. Think of it as Spotlight for the user interface.
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Strata Week: Why we should care about what the NSA may or may not be doing

Response to NSA data mining and the troubling lack of technical details, Facebook's Open Compute data center, and local police are growing their own DNA databases.

It’s a question of power, not privacy — and what is the NSA really doing?

PEW graph

Pew Research Center national survey

In the wake of the leaked NSA data-collection programs, the Pew Research Center conducted a national survey to measure American’s response. The survey found that 56% of respondents think NSA’s telephone record tracking program is an acceptable method to investigate terrorism, and 62% said the government’s investigations into possible terrorist threats are more important than personal privacy.

Rebecca J. Rosen at The Atlantic took a look at legal scholar Daniel J. Solove’s argument that we should care about the government’s collection of our data, but not for the reasons one might think — the collection itself, he argues, isn’t as troubling as the fact that they’re holding the data in perpetuity and that we don’t have access to it. Rosen quotes Solove:

“The NSA program involves a massive database of information that individuals cannot access. … This kind of information processing, which forbids people’s knowledge or involvement, resembles in some ways a kind of due process problem. It is a structural problem involving the way people are treated by government institutions. Moreover, it creates a power imbalance between individuals and the government. … This issue is not about whether the information gathered is something people want to hide, but rather about the power and the structure of government.”

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