"programming" entries

Four short links: 11 February 2016

Four short links: 11 February 2016

Surviving Crashes, Thumbs-Up Thumbs-Down Learning, Faster Homomorphic Encryption, and Nerdy V-Day Cards

  1. All File Systems are Not Created Equal: On the Complexity of Crafting Crash Consistent Applications (Paper a Day) — an important subject for me. BOB, the Block Order Breaker, is used to find out what behaviours are exhibited by a number of modern file systems that are relevant to building crash consistent applications. ALICE, the Application Level Intelligent Crash Explorer, is then used to explore the crash recovery behaviour of a number of applications on top of these file systems.
  2. BinaryNet: Training Deep Neural Networks with Weights and Activations Constrained to +1 or -1 (Arxiv) — instead of complex positive/negative floating-point weights, this uses +1 and -1 (which I can’t help but think of as “thumbs up”, “thumbs down”) to get nearly state-of-the-art results because a run-time, BinaryNet drastically reduces memory usage and replaces most multiplications by 1-bit exclusive-not-or (XNOR) operations, which might have a big impact on both general-purpose and dedicated Deep Learning hardware. GPLv2 code available.
  3. Microsoft Speeds Up Homomorphic Encryption (The Register) — homomorphic encryption lets databases crunch data without needing keys to decode it.
  4. Nerdy Valentine Cards (Evil Mad Scientist) — for a nerd in your life. (via Cory Doctorow)
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Four short links: 8 February 2016

Four short links: 8 February 2016

Experimental Support, Coding Books, Bad Decisions, and GitHub to Jupyter

  1. Elemental Machines — Boston startup fitting experiments & experimenters with sensors, deep learning to identify problems (vibration, humidity, etc.) that could trigger experimental failure. [C]rucial experiments are often delayed by things that seem trivial in retrospect. “I talked to my friends who worked in labs,” Iyengar says. “Everyone had a story to tell.” One scientist’s polymer was unstable because of ultraviolet light coming through a nearby window, he says; that took six months to debug. Another friend who worked at a pharmaceutical company was testing drug candidates in mice. The results were one failure after another, for months, until someone figured out that the lab next door was being renovated, and after-hours construction was keeping the mice awake and stressing them out. (that quote from Xconomy)
  2. Usborne Computer and Coding Books — not only do they have sweet Scratch books for kids, they also have their nostalgia-dripping 1980s microcomputer books online. I still have a pile of my well-loved originals.
  3. Powerful People are Terrible at Making Decisions TogetherResearchers from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, undertook an experiment with a group of health care executives on a leadership retreat. They broke them into groups, presented them with a list of fictional job candidates, and asked them to recommend one to their CEO. The discussions were recorded and evaluated by independent reviewers. The higher the concentration of high-ranking executives, the more a group struggled to complete the task. They competed for status, were less focused on the assignment, and tended to share less information with each other.
  4. MyBinderturn a GitHub repo into a collection of interactive notebooks powered by Jupyter and Kubernetes.
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Four short links: 28 January 2016

Four short links: 28 January 2016

Augmented Intelligence, Social Network Limits, Microsoft Research, and Google's Go

  1. Chimera (Paper a Day) — the authors summarise six main lessons learned while building Chimera: (1) Things break down at large scale; (2) Both learning and hand-crafted rules are critical; (3) Crowdsourcing is critical, but must be closely monitored; (4) Crowdsourcing must be coupled with in-house analysts and developers; (5) Outsourcing does not work at a very large scale; (6) Hybrid human-machine systems are here to stay.
  2. Do Online Social Media Remove Constraints That Limit the Size of Offline Social Networks? (Royal Society) — paper by Robin Dunbar. Answer: The data show that the size and range of online egocentric social networks, indexed as the number of Facebook friends, is similar to that of offline face-to-face networks.
  3. Microsoft Embedding ResearchTo break down the walls between its research group and the rest of the company, Microsoft reassigned about half of its more than 1,000 research staff in September 2014 to a new group called MSR NExT. Its focus is on projects with greater impact to the company rather than pure research. Meanwhile, the other half of Microsoft Research is getting pushed to find more significant ways it can contribute to the company’s products. The challenge is how to avoid short-term thinking from your research team. For instance, Facebook assigns some staff to focus on long-term research, and Google’s DeepMind group in London conducts pure AI research without immediate commercial considerations.
  4. Google’s Go-Playing AIThe key to AlphaGo is reducing the enormous search space to something more manageable. To do this, it combines a state-of-the-art tree search with two deep neural networks, each of which contains many layers with millions of neuron-like connections. One neural network, the “policy network,” predicts the next move, and is used to narrow the search to consider only the moves most likely to lead to a win. The other neural network, the “value network,” is then used to reduce the depth of the search tree — estimating the winner in each position in place of searching all the way to the end of the game.
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Four short links: 8 January 2016

Four short links: 8 January 2016

Modern C, Colorizing Photos, Flashing Toy Drones, and Web + Native

  1. How to C in 2016 — straightforward recommendations for writing C if you have to.
  2. Using Deep Learning to Colorize Old Photos — comes with a trained TensorFlow model to play with.
  3. Open Source Firmware for Toy DronesThe Eachine H8 is a typical-looking mini-quadcopter of the kind that sell for under $20.[…] takes you through a step-by-step guide to re-flashing the device with a custom firmware to enable acrobatics, or simply to tweak the throttle-to-engine-speed mapping for the quad. (via DIY Drones)
  4. Mobile Web vs. Native Apps or Why You Want Both (Luke Wroblewski) — The Web is for audience reach and native apps are for rich experiences. Both are strategic. Both are valuable. So when it comes to mobile, it’s not Web vs. Native. It’s both. The graphs are impressive.
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Four short links: 24 December 2015

Four short links: 24 December 2015

Python Viz, Linux Scavenger Hunt, Sandbox Environment, and Car Code

  1. Foliummakes it easy to visualize data that’s been manipulated in Python on an interactive Leaflet map. It enables both the binding of data to a map for choropleth visualizations as well as passing Vincent/Vega visualizations as markers on the map.
  2. scavenger-huntA scavenger hunt to learn Linux commands.
  3. SEE — F-Secure’s open source Sandboxed Execution Environment (SEE) is a framework for building test automation in secured Environments.
  4. The Problem with Self-Driving Cars: Who Controls the Code? (Cory Doctorow) — Here’s a different way of thinking about this problem: if you wanted to design a car that intentionally murdered its driver under certain circumstances, how would you make sure that the driver never altered its programming so that they could be assured that their property would never intentionally murder them?
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Four short links: 21 December 2015

Four short links: 21 December 2015

Anomaly Detection, Contempt Culture, Deep Learning Robot, and Compromised Firewalls

  1. Bro — open source intrusion and anomaly detection service, turns everything into events that you can run scripts against. Good pedigree (Vern Paxson, a TCP/IP elder god) despite the wince-inducing name (at least it isn’t “brah”).
  2. Contempt Culture (Aurynn) — for a culture that now prides itself on continuous improvement and blameless post-mortems and so on, we’re blind to a contempt culture that produces cults of criticism like “PHP isn’t a real programming language,” etc., where the targets of the criticism are pathways disproportionately taken by women and minorities. I’m embarrassed by how much of 2001-era Nat I recognise in Aurynn’s description.
  3. Deep Learning RobotBuilt for advanced research in robotics and artificial intelligence (deep learning). Pre-installed Google TensorFlow, Robot Operating System (ROS), Caffe, Torch, Theano, CUDA, and cuDNN.
  4. Juniper ScreenOS Backdoor — here’s the ssh password that’ll get you into any unpatched Juniper firewall, courtesy a backdoor that will be keeping network admins and CEOs alike awake and unhappy around the world. The interesting analysis with long-term effects will be “how the hell did it get in there?”
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Four short links: 18 December 2015

Four short links: 18 December 2015

Malicious Traffic, Visual Analysis, C History, and Immersive Gaming

  1. Maltraila malicious traffic detection system, utilizing publicly available (black)lists containing malicious and/or generally suspicious trails, along with static trails compiled from various AV reports and custom user defined lists[…]. Also, it has (optional) advanced heuristic mechanisms that can help in discovery of unknown threats (e.g. new malware). (via Nick Galbreath)
  2. Vega-Litehigh-level grammar for visual analysis, built on top of Vega. (via Curran Kelleher)
  3. C History — Dennis Ritchie’s 1993 notes on the history of the C programming language explains the origins of a.out and arrays as pointers, and has a reminder of how tight those systems were: Of the 24K bytes of memory on the machine, the earliest PDP-11 Unix system used 12K bytes for the operating system, a tiny space for user programs, and the remainder as a RAM disk.
  4. Zero Latency — immersive gaming with Oculus headsets. Detailed and positive.
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Four short links: 14 December 2015

Four short links: 14 December 2015

Design for the Surveilled, Concept Learning, Media Access, and Programming Challenges

  1. Please Stop Making Secure Messaging Systems — how to design for the surveilled, and the kinds of tools they need BEYOND chat.
  2. Human Level Concept Learning through Probabilistic Program Induction — paper and source code for the nifty “learn handwriting from one example” paper that’s blowing minds.
  3. Access Denied (The Awl) — media had power because they had an audience, but social media gives celebrities, sports people, and politicians a bigger audience than media outlets. So, the media outlets aren’t needed, and consequently, they’re losing “access.” A reporter that depends on access to a compelling subject is by definition a reporter compromised. A publication that depends on cooperation from the world that it specializes in is likewise giving up something in terms of its ability to tell the truth about it. And nearly the entire media as it exists today is built around these negotiations.
  4. Stockfightera series of free, fun programming challenges […] suitable for programmers at all experience levels.
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Four short links: 11 December 2015

Four short links: 11 December 2015

Probabilistic Algorithms, Copyright-Free, AI Hardware, and Autonomous Vehicle Policy

  1. Real-world Probabilistic Algorithms (Tyler McMullen) — This article addresses two types of probabilistic algorithms: those that explicitly introduce randomness through a rand() call, and those that convert input data into a uniform distribution to achieve a similar effect.
  2. Class of 2016those whose works will, on 1st January 2016, be entering the public domain in many countries around the world. Le Corbusier, T.S. Eliot, Malcolm X, Bela Bartok, Winston Churchill, and W. Somerset Maugham among others. (Which person in which country depends on copyright term. Not for you, America. Nor us after TPP)
  3. Facebook to Open Source AI Hardware DesignBig Sur is our newest Open Rack-compatible hardware designed for AI computing at a large scale. Eight GPUs, and designs to be released through Open Compute Project.
  4. Driving Changes (PDF) — policy impacts, benefits, and considerations for autonomous vehicles. Written for Toronto but applicable to many more cities. (via David Ticoll)
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Four short links: 8 December 2015

Four short links: 8 December 2015

Open Source ZeroDB, HTTP Statuses, Project Activity, and Database Readings

  1. ZeroDB is Open Source — end-to-end encrypted database goes open source (AGPL, *ptui*).
  2. Choosing an HTTP Status Code — or “an alternative to engineers duelling.”
  3. Open Source Monthly — views of open source projects through their GitHub activity.
  4. Readings in Database Science (5ed) — HTML and PDF versions of the papers.
Comment: 1