- Web Design: The First 100 Years (Maciej Ceglowski) — There’s a William Gibson quote that Tim O’Reilly likes to repeat: “the future is here; it’s just not evenly distributed yet.” O’Reilly takes this to mean that if we surround ourselves with the right people, it can give us a sneak peek at coming attractions. I like to interpret this quote differently, as a call to action. Rather than waiting passively for technology to change the world, let’s see how much we can do with what we already have. Let’s reclaim the Web from technologists who tell us that the future they’ve imagined is inevitable, and that our role in it is as consumers.
- Comparing Cassandra Write Performance on Google Compute Engine and AWS — tl;dr – We achieved better Cassandra performance on GCE vs. Amazon, at close to half the cost. Also interesting for how they built the benchmark.
- The Scammy Underground World of Kindle eBooks — The biggest issue here isn’t that scammers are raking in cash from low-quality content; it’s that Amazon is allowing this to happen. Publisher brand value is the reliable expectation that buyers have of the book quality. Amazon’s publishing arm is spending the good brand value built by its distribution arm.
- Empire — a 12-factor-compatible, Docker-based container cluster built on top of Amazon’s robust EC2 Container Service (ECS), complete with a full-featured command line interface. Open source.
"stuff that matters" entries
Facebook Pub/Sub, Space/Time Visualization, Sean That Matters, and Keyboard Control
- 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.
- Nanocubes — Fast Visualization of Large Spatiotemporal Datasets.
- 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.
- Shortcat — a 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.
Backbone Stack, Automating Card Games, Ozzie on PRISM, and Stuff that Matters
- Our Backbone Stack (Pamela Fox) — fascinating glimpse into the tech used and why.
- Automating Card Games Using OpenCV and Python — My vision for an automated version of the game was simple. Players sit across a table on which the cards are laid out. My program would take a picture of the cards and recognize them. It would then generate valid expression that yielded 24, and then project the answer on to the table.
- Ray Ozzie on PRISM — posted on Hacker News (!). In particular, in this world where “SaaS” and “software eats everything” and “cloud computing” and “big data” are inevitable and already pervasive, it pains me to see how 3rd Party Doctrine may now already be being leveraged to effectively gut the intent of U.S. citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights. Don’t we need a common-sense refresh to the wording of our laws and potentially our constitution as it pertains to how we now rely upon 3rd parties? It makes zero sense in a “services age” where granting third parties limited rights to our private information is so basic and fundamental to how we think, work, conduct and enjoy life. (via Alex Dong)
- Larry Brilliant’s Commencement Speech (HufPo) — speaking to med grads, he’s full of purpose and vision and meaning for their lives. His story is amazing. I wish more CS grads were inspired to work on stuff that matters, and cautioned about adding their great minds to the legion trying to solve the problem of connecting you with brands you love.
Etsy did something significant. I’m not talking about funding scholarships to Hacker School, though kudos to Etsy, 37Signals, and Yammer for putting money into it. And serious respect to Marc Hedlund for putting it together—he didn’t just submit a bug report on the world, he submitted a patch. Marc’s Ignite talk at Foo about this was incredibly moving: he accomplished something at scale, something beyond a single hiring decision.
What I find truly significant is the stark quantification of the untapped (previously uninvited) interest: 661 women applied where 7 had applied before. The number of scholarships and the size of the programming class were dwarfed by the number of women who wanted in, and jubilation at the success of the Etsy campaign has to be accompanied by serious thought about how to tackle the next order of magnitude in scale. And because it’s a problem worthy of your cleverness, I’ve made this the only short link today. Use the time you would have spent reading about Map/Reduce and devops to solve this scaling problem instead—you’ll truly be working on something that matters.
Lagging Latency, Don't Take the Extra Cookie, Amazon's Print Plans, and Maker Schools
- Why Latency Lags Bandwidth (PDF) — across disk, memory, and networking we see bandwidth growing faster than latency comes down. This paper covers why and what we can do about it. (via Ryan Dahl)
- Michael Lewis’s Princeton Commencement Speech — a subtle variation on “work on stuff that matters” that I simply love. Commencement speeches fly around this time of the year, but this one is actually worth reading.
- The Amazon Effect (The Nation) — Readers of e-books are especially drawn to escapist and overtly commercial genres (romance, mysteries and thrillers, science fiction), and in these categories e-book sales have bulked up to as large as 60 percent. […] Amazon swiftly struck an alliance with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to handle placing its books in physical stores. In a transparent subterfuge aimed at protecting its tax-avoidance strategies, Amazon intends to publish many of its books under a subsidiary imprint of Houghton’s called New Harvest, thus keeping alive the increasingly threadbare fiction that it has no physical presence in states where it does business online. I did not know these things. (via Jim Stogdill)
- Learn by Doing (Slate) — Dale Dougherty’s excellent call to arms to turn away from zombie-producing standardised test classes to learning by making real things. The empty campus on test day horrified me.
Stuff That Matters, Web Waste, Learning Analytics, and Thoughtful Quotes
- SoupHub — NZ project putting a computer with Internet access (and instruction and help) into a soup kitchen. I can’t take any credit for it, but I’m delighted beyond measure that the idea for this was hatched at Kiwi Foo Camp. I love that my peeps are doing stuff that matters. (See also the newspaper writeup)
- Bandwidth of Pages — view a 140 character tweet on the web and you’re load 2MB of, well, let’s call it crap.
- On The Reductionism of Analytics in Education (Anne Zelenka) — Learning analytics, as practiced today, is reductionist to an extreme. We are reducing too many dimensions into too few. More than that, we are describing and analyzing only those things that we can describe and analyze, when what matters exists at a totally different level and complexity. We are missing emergent properties of educational and learning processes by focusing on the few things we can measure and by trying to automate what decisions and actions might be automated. A fantastic post, which coins the phrase “the math is not the territory”.
- Quotes Worth Spreading (Karl Fisch) — collection of thought-provoking quotes from recent TED talks. Be generous by graciously accepting compliments. It’s a gift you give the complimenter (John Bates) is something I’m particularly working on.
Steve Jobs shifted Apple's motivation to great products, not profit.
Profit in a business is like gas in a car. You don't want to run out of gas, but neither do you want to think that your road trip is a tour of gas stations.