The Red: First Light, by Linda Nagata (@Kindle)
Finished 2017-03-??. It is kind of amazing that Nagata had to self-publish this initially to get her career as a novelist back in gear after hiatus, particularly given the obvious commercial appeal of this particular novel. I personally would have liked a slightly different ratio of science fiction to technothriller, but this is pretty decent overall and I'll probably read the rest in the series eventually. Neal Stephenson could certainly take a page from Nagata on how to write taut action scenes that don't overstay their welcome.
booklog  finished:2017  fiction  science-fiction 
LSE Business Review – Gender quotas and the crisis of the mediocre man
<< While accepting that they lean against underlying biases in gender representation, many opponents argue that such quotas offend meritocratic principles: women elected on the back of quotas need not be the most qualified and may displace qualified men. It would be nice to resolve these debates with hard evidence. However, relatively little is known about the impact of quotas on the competence of elected candidates – whether women or men.

Our study provides a unique window on quotas and, at the same time, pushes forward the measurement of competence in political selection. It uses the fact that, in 1993, Sweden’s Social Democratic party voluntarily introduced a strict gender quota for its candidates. In internal discussions of the reform, the party’s Women’s branch observed that some men were more critical than others. The quota became known colloquially as the “Crisis of the Mediocre Man,” since the incompetent men had the most to fear from an influx of women into politics.

Beyond the obvious point that the quota would give fewer positions to men, quotas can have strategic effects on political selection. Mediocre leaders have a strong incentive to surround themselves with mediocre followers, so as to bolster their chances of remaining in power. A less acknowledged role of quotas is to create a threat to such cozy arrangements. >>
5 days ago
Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations (TED Books), by Dan Ariely (@Kindle)
Finished 2017-03-??. I think I bought the wrong Ariely book by accident. This is the TED Books, a.k.a. glib Cliff's Notes, version of his research. I suppose I should buy a more substantial treatment sometime. Still, interesting enough, as far as it goes.
booklog  finished:2017  psychology  nonfiction 
10 days ago
The World of a Tiny Insect: A Memoir of the Taiping Rebellion and Its Aftermath, by Zhang Daye (Xiaofei Tian, trans.) (@Kindle)
Finished 2017-03-19. About 2/3 travelogue from the author's itinerant life as an adult, and 1/3 first-person account of the author's encounters with the Taiping Rebellion as a boy. That 1/3 is brutal but it is interesting both how much life normalizes after the unbelievable horrors of the civil war, and how decades later the subtle ripples remain in the culture. Probably only worth reading for people who are really interested in the Taiping period (as I am) but a worthwhile addition to the very limited English language literature on the period.
booklog  finished:2017  history  china  taiping 
10 days ago
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz
Finished 2017-01-??. Worth reading although much of this material can be found on his blog. All autobiographical business books have some fraction of self-justifying bullshit to leaven the actually useful lessons but the ratio here is quite tolerable.
booklog  nonfiction  finished:2017  silicon-valley  startups  culture  business 
10 days ago
Building [a neural network using homomorphic encryption] - i am trask
<< With the approach above, you could train a regular, decrypted neural network for a while, encrypt it, send it to Party A with a public key (who trains it for a while on their own data... which remains in their possession). Then, you could get the network back, decrypt it, re-encrypt it with a different key and send it to Party B who does some training on their data. Since the network itself is what's enrypted, you get total control over the intelligence that you're capturing along the way. Party A and Party B would have no way of knowing that they each received the same network, and this all happens without them ever being able to see or use the network on their own data. You, the company, retain control over the IP in the neural network, and each user retains control over their own data. >>

I suspect that this isn't actually going to work but bookmarking for future digestion.
artificial-intelligence  neural-networks  cryptography 
12 days ago
Why Trello Failed to Build a $1 Billion+ Business – Product Habits
<< Ultimately, the Kanban board was a really cool UX feature, but not a difficult one to replicate. In SaaS, you don’t win by getting there first or having the best idea. You win by continually solving the problem better. When you build a feature that’s extremely popular or successful, the competition will steal it. >>
software  business 
19 days ago
Attacking Nexus 9 with Malicious Headphones
<< Ossmann & Osborn also briefly documented multiplexed audio connectors, noting that Nexus 4 has a TTL UART interface hidden in its headphone jack, a functionality which is enabled if the voltage on the MIC pin exceeds some threshold.

Fast-forward to 2017, nowadays it’s a well known fact that the Nexus devices (Pixel too) have this kind of functionality in their headphone jack. >>

Honestly, what the fuck.
security  mobile-computing  google  android 
20 days ago
Discussions about TDD always make me think of Ron Jeffries' attempt to develop a... | Hacker News
This is a good bookmark for the infamous Jeffries vs Norvig Sudoku debacle, which I always think of as an illustrative showdown between cargo-culted software development methodology & computer science.

Ignore the HN comments. They are garbage. Just think for yourself about what happened here.
computer-science  testing  software-engineering 
24 days ago
Why It’s So Hard to Build the Next Silicon Valley - Bloomberg
Talent pool and access to VC were the obvious reasons that Kansas City was never going to come remotely close to playing in the same league as the Bay Area, or even New York, Boston, or Seattle. However, this is something I didn't expect:

<< One advantage cited by many local entrepreneurs, low costs, can actually backfire. “It might be a misplaced sense of comfort,” says Ajay Royan, the general partner at Mithril Capital who invested in C2FO. He believes the best entrepreneurs work with an intensity driven by the reality of global competition—a reality too easily lost sight of in a low-pressure, low-cost environment. “If you get comfortable with the fact that things seem to be going well in Kansas City,” he says, and don’t think beyond it, “that’s bad.” >>
technology-industry  united-states  silicon-valley  culture  business 
24 days ago
Quotable Security Women
By Alex Stamos, prepared for journalists but probably of more general use.
twitter  lists 
27 days ago
Home · robertfisk/USG Wiki · GitHub
<< The USG is a firewall for your USB ports. It connects between your computer and an untrusted USB device, isolating the badness with an internal hardware firewall. >>
hardware  security 
27 days ago
[1702.08719] Malware Guard Extension: Using SGX to Conceal Cache Attacks
<< In modern computer systems, user processes are isolated from each other by the operating system and the hardware. Additionally, in a cloud scenario it is crucial that the hypervisor isolates tenants from other tenants that are co-located on the same physical machine. However, the hypervisor does not protect tenants against the cloud provider and thus the supplied operating system and hardware. Intel SGX provides a mechanism that addresses this scenario. It aims at protecting user-level software from attacks from other processes, the operating system, and even physical attackers.
In this paper, we demonstrate fine-grained software-based side-channel attacks from a malicious SGX enclave targeting co-located enclaves. Our attack is the first malware running on real SGX hardware, abusing SGX protection features to conceal itself. Furthermore, we demonstrate our attack both in a native environment and across multiple Docker containers. We perform a Prime+Probe cache side-channel attack on a co-located SGX enclave running an up-to-date RSA implementation that uses a constant-time multiplication primitive. The attack works although in SGX enclaves there are no timers, no large pages, no physical addresses, and no shared memory. In a semi-synchronous attack, we extract 96% of an RSA private key from a single trace. We extract the full RSA private key in an automated attack from 11 traces within 5 minutes. >>
29 days ago
Studying advanced mathematics: the potential boost to women’s career prospects | Microeconomic Insights
<< Our research assesses three potential explanations for this inequality:

First, are the labour market rewards for advanced mathematical skills lower for women than for men?
Second, are women less talented than men in terms of mathematical abilities?
Third, does the way we promote and teach mathematics in schools drive away talented young women?

The answers to these questions are: no, no, and yes! In particular, we show that restrictive course bundling in high school constitutes a barrier for the mathematical talents of young women.>>
math  education  sexual-inequality 
29 days ago
Noahpinion: Historical cycle theories are silly...or are they?
<< I figured that each cycle lasted about four generations, and that it would be the generation after mine who would have to bear the brunt of the fight the next time.

It's fun to be 14. If you've never done it, I suggest you try it.

I recently found out that the authors Neil Howe and William Strauss already published a very detailed version of a very similar theory, back in 1991 (well before I turned 14!). I found this out via Steve Bannon, who according to news reports is a fan of their theory. >>

More Westerners should learn about Ibn Khaldun.
29 days ago
Asian Last Names Lead To Fewer Job Interviews, Still : Code Switch : NPR
<< job applicants in Canada with Asian names — names of Indian, Pakistani or Chinese origin — were 28 percent less likely to get called for an interview compared to applicants with Anglo names, even when all the qualifications were the same. Researchers used data from a previous study conducted in 2011 where they sent out 12,910 fictitious resumes in response to 3,225 job postings. The previous study, also in Canada, similarly found that applicants with Anglo first names and Asian last names didn't fare much better than applicants with Asian first and last names >>
29 days ago
How the Cool Kids Killed Obama's Grassroots Movement | Civicist
Narratives like this must be treated with some skepticism --- is this just sour grapes from people who lost out on the plum gigs during the transition? --- but there is definitely something to the claim that Obama never successfully mobilized his enormous personal popularity into a mass movement that would cement his accomplishments in place after he left office.
obama  politics 
29 days ago
The Corporate Strategy Office has been key to Samsung's success. Now it's shutting down. - Vox
Well this is why Samsung software always feels like a mess (not the shutdown, but the corporate organization that prevailed before; of course the shutdown is probably going to just make things worse.)
management  business  mobile-computing  samsung 
4 weeks ago
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