- Computational Social Science (Nature) — Facebook and Twitter data drives social science analysis. (via Vaughan Bell)
- The Single Most Important Object in the Global Economy (Slate) — Companies like Ikea have literally designed products around pallets: Its “Bang” mug, notes Colin White in his book Strategic Management, has had three redesigns, each done not for aesthetics but to ensure that more mugs would fit on a pallet (not to mention in a customer’s cupboard). (via Boing Boing)
- Narco Ultralights (Wired) — it’s just a matter of time until there are no humans on the ultralights. Remote-controlled narcodrones can’t be far away.
- Shortcut Foo — a typing tutor for editors, photoshop, and the commandline, to build muscle memory of frequently-used keystrokes. Brilliant! (via Irene Ros)
Salesforce's recent investments suggest it's building a developer-centric suite of tools for the cloud.
Have you ever seen Salesforce’s “no software” graphic? It’s the word “software” surrounded by a circle with a red line through it. Here’s a picture of the related (and dancing) “no software” mascot.
Now, if you consider yourself a developer, this is a bit threatening, no? Imagine sitting at a Salesforce event in 2008 in Chicago while Salesforce.com’s CEO, Marc Benioff, swiftly works an entire room of business users into an anti-software frenzy. I was there to learn about Force.com, and I’ll summarize the message I understood four years ago as “Not only can companies benefit from Salesforce.com, they also don’t have to hire developers.”
The message resonated with the audience. Salesforce had been using this approach for a decade: Don’t buy software you have to support, maintain, and hire developers to customize. Use our software-as-a-service (SaaS) instead. The reality behind Salesforce’s trajectory at the time was that it too needed to provide a platform for custom development.
Salesforce’s dilemma: They needed developers
This “no software” message was enough for the vast majority of the small-to-medium-sized business (SMB) market, but to engage with companies at the largest scale, you need APIs and you need to be able to work with developers. At the time, in 2008, Salesforce was making moves toward the developer community. First there was Apex, then there was Force.com.
In 2008, I evaluated Force.com, and while capable, it didn’t strike me as something that would appeal to most developers outside of existing Salesforce customers. Salesforce was aiming at the corporate developers building software atop competing stacks like Oracle. While there were several attempts to sell it as such, it wasn’t a stand-alone product or framework. In my opinion, no developer would assess Force.com and opt to use it as the next development platform.
This 2008 TechCrunch article announcing the arrival of Salesforce’s Developer-as-a-Service (DaaS) platform serves as a reminder of what Salesforce had in mind. They were still moving forward with an anti-software message for the business while continuing to make moves into the developer space. Salesforce built a capable platform. Looking back at Force.com, it felt more like an even more constrained version of Google App Engine. In other words, capable and scalable, but at the time a bit constraining for the general developer population. Don’t get me wrong: Force.com wasn’t a business failure by any measure; they have an impressive client list even today, but what they didn’t achieve was traction and awareness among the developer community. Read more…
What we mean by "operations," and how it's changed over the years.
NoOps, DevOps — no matter what you call it, operations won’t go away. Ops experts and development teams will jointly evolve to meet the challenges of delivering reliable software to customers.
Developers with a creative streak don't get to opt out of security.
Developer "artists" who think they're too good to address vulnerabilities in operating systems and applications must shoulder blame for insecure systems.
If we don't demand more secure development infrastructure, we get to do it ourselves.
The news is constantly full of companies and organizations falling victim to exploits. Software developers spend a great deal of our time defending against them. But why should they have to bother at all?
Shifts for sysadmins and a surprising use for Chef.
OpsCode chief community officer Jesse Robbins discusses cloud infrastructure automation and the most surprising use of Chef he's seen so far.
"Inside Cyber Warfare" author Jeffrey Carr discusses current security trends.
Is an attack on a U.S. business' network an attack on the U.S. itself? "Inside Cyber Warfare" author Jeffrey Carr discusses the intermingling of corporate and government interests in this interview.
Smart Meter Snitches, Company Culture, Text Classification, and Live Face Substitution
- Smart Hacking for Privacy — can mine smart power meter data (or even snoop it) to learn what’s on the TV. Wow. (You can also watch the talk). (via Rob Inskeep)
- Conditioning Company Culture (Bryce Roberts) — a short read but thought-provoking. It’s easy to create mindless mantras, but I’ve seen the technique that Bryce describes and (when done well) it’s highly effective.
- hydrat (Google Code) — a declarative framework for text classification tasks.
- Dynamic Face Substitution (FlowingData) — Kyle McDonald and Arturo Castro play around with a face tracker and color interpolation to replace their own faces, in real-time, with celebrities such as that of Brad Pitt and Paris Hilton. Awesome. And creepy. Amen.
Waning Interest, Infrastructure Changes, eBook Stats, and Retro Chic Peripherals
- Comparing Link Attention (Bitly) — Twitter, Facebook, and direct (email/IM/etc) have remarkably similar patterns of decay of interest. (via Hilary Mason)
- Three Ages of Google — from batch, to scaling through datacenters, and finally now to techniques for real-time scaling. Of interest to everyone interested in low-latency high-throughput transactions. Datacenters have the diameter of a microsecond, yet we are still using entire stacks designed for WANs. Real-time requires low and bounded latencies and our stacks can’t provide low latency at scale. We need to fix this problem and towards this end Luiz sets out a research agenda, targeting problems that need to be solved. (via Tim O’Reilly)
- eReaders and eBooks (Luke Wroblewski) — many eye-opening facts. In 2010 Amazon sold 115 Kindle books for every 100 paperback books. 65% of eReader owners use them in bed, in fact 37% of device usage is in bed.
- VT220 on a Mac — dead sexy look. Impressive how many adapters you need to be able to hook a dingy old serial cable up to your shiny new computer.
Netflix's Adrian Cockcroft on the benefits of a cloud infrastructure.
Netflix moved some of its services into Amazon's cloud last year. In this interview, Netflix cloud architect Adrian Cockcroft says the move was about building a scalable product and paying down technical debt.