- Kathy Sierra Nails Gamification — I rarely link to things on O’Reilly sites, and have never before linked to something on Radar, but the comments here from Kathy Sierra are fantastic. She nails what makes me queasy about shallow gamification behaviours: replacing innate rewards with artificial ones papers over shitty products/experiences instead of fixing them, and don’t get people to a flow state. what is truly potentially motivating for its own sake (like getting people to try snowboarding the first few times… The beer may be what gets them there, but the feeling of flying through fresh powder is what sustains it, but only if we quit making it Just About The Beer and frickin teach them to fly). (via Jim Stogdill)
- Patient Driven Social Network Refutes Study, Publishes Its Own Results — The health-data-sharing website PatientsLikeMe published what it is calling a “patient-initiated observational study” refuting a 2008 report that found the drug lithium carbonate could slow the progression of the neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. The new findings were published earlier this week in the journal Nature Biotechnology. (via mthomps)
- Corporate Transparency — learn where, when and by whom your chocolate bar was made, from which chocolate stock, etc. This kind of traceability and provenance information is underrated in business. (via Jim Stogdill)
- SPDY — Google’s effort to replace HTTP with something faster. It has been the protocol between Chrome and Google’s servers, now they hope it will go wider. All connections are encrypted and compressed out of the box.
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.
Gamification's Failures, Crowdsourced Clinical Study, Traceability, and Faster Web
While developing countries may benefit from Open Compute, bigger issues need to be addressed first.
The potential for Open Compute to benefit developing countries was mentioned during a
panel discussion that followed the project's announcement. Intrigued, I turned to Benetech CEO Jim Fruchterman for more on Open Compute's utility in developing nations.
Open Compute could be a big step forward for infrastructure, ops, and the web.
Jesse Robbins says Facebook's Open Compute Project represents a giant step for open source hardware, for the evolution of the web and cloud computing, and for infrastructure and operations in general.
Python Unicode, Cognitive Enhancement, Journal Balk, Engineering SaaS
- Unicode in Python, Completely Demystified — a good introduction to Unicode in Python, which helped me with some code. (via Hacker News)
- A Ban on Brain-Boosting Drugs (Chronicle of Higher Education) — Simply calling the use of study drugs “unfair” tells us nothing about why colleges should ban them. If such drugs really do improve academic performance among healthy students (and the evidence is scant), shouldn’t colleges put them in the drinking water instead? After all, it would be unfair to permit wealthy students to use them if less privileged students can’t afford them. As we start to hack our bodies and minds, we’ll face more questions about legitimacy and ethics of those actions. Not, of course, about using coffee and Coca-Cola, ubiquitous performance-enhancing stimulants that are mysteriously absent from bans and prohibitions.
- Copywrongs — Matt Blaze spits the dummy on IEEE and ACM copyright policies. In particular, the IEEE is explicitly preventing authors from distributing copies of the final paper. We write scientific papers first and last because we want them read. When papers were disseminated solely in print form it might have been reasonable to expect authors to donate the copyright in exchange for production and distribution. Today, of course, this model seems, at best, quaintly out of touch with the needs of researchers and academics who no longer desire or tolerate the delay and expense of seeking out printed copies of far-flung documents. We expect to find on it on the open web, and not hidden behind a paywall, either.
- On the Engineering of SaaS — An upgrade process, for example, is an entirely different beast. Making it robust and repeatable is far less important than making it quick and reversible. This is because the upgrade only every happens once: on your install. Also, it only ever has to work right in one, exact variant of the environment: yours. And while typical customers of software can schedule an outage to perform an upgrade, scheduling downtime in SaaS is nearly impossible. So, you must be able to deploy new releases quickly, if not entirely seamlessly — and in the event of failure, rollback just as rapidly.
The forces of "technical debt" apply to computational infrastructure.
An investment in web operations can yield big returns, both financially and competitively. But a lack of understanding prevents many companies from taking appropriate steps. Guest blogger Andrew Clay Shafer makes a case for web ops as the "secret sauce" by examining the forces of technical debt.
A study ran cloud providers through four tests. Here's some of the results.
Bitcurrent and Webmetrics ran five cloud providers through a series of tests: a small object, a large object, a million calculations, and a 500,000-row table scan. Here's some of the results and lessons learned.
Our increased reliance on web-based intelligence makes speed and reliability even more important.
As we become more dependent on our collective consciousness, web operators will be much more involved in end-user experience measurement, from application design to real user monitoring. We're in the century of the distributed nervous system, and web operators are its brain surgeons.