Digging into the Archeology of the Future
Rise of the Machines is a sweeping intellectual history, engagingly written and brought to life by numerous details and anecdotes. Cybernetics and its progression of offshoots — cybernation, cyberculture, cyborgs, cyberspace, cyberpunk, cypherpunk, and finally cyberwar — are all disentangled and demystified in its pages. Rid is an able explainer of gnarly technical concepts, and a reader can reasonably expect to come away with a working understanding of, say, variable time fuses, in what is compellingly described as the first robotic war as British air defenses — aided by truck-mounted SCR-584 radar-directed fire control — used their smart munitions to shoot down Nazi Germany’s pilotless V-1 attack rockets.
books  culture 
july 2016
Goods: organizing Google’s datasets | the morning paper
Everyone within the company just carries on creating and consuming datasets using whatever means they prefer, and Goods works in the background to figure out what datasets exist and to gather metadata about them. In other words, (surprise!) Google built a crawling engine… It turns out this is far from an easy problem (to start with, the current catalog indexes over 26 billion datasets – and this is just those whose access permissions make them readable by all Google engineers). As an approach to the problem of understanding what data exists, where it is, and its provenance, I find Goods hugely appealing vs the reality of the ever-losing battle for strict central control within an enterprise.
google  data  paper 
july 2016
System Overload - The New Yorker
It takes a crisis like the Metro’s to shock us out of our complacency. As Kanter puts it, “It’s only when things get bad that infrastructure issues get real public attention.” This is the heart of our problem: infrastructure policy has become a matter of lurching from crisis to crisis, solving problems after the fact rather than preventing them from happening. As Erie says, “We’ve turned into short-term-fix addicts.” The U.S. needs to approach infrastructure the way it does national defense: come up with a long-term strategy, make sure it gets the money it needs, and hold the government accountable for making that strategy work. Infrastructure is the ultimate public good. It would be nice if ours was actually good for the public.
infrastructure  politics 
april 2016
Congratulations! You’ve Been Fired - NYTimes.com
Imagine a frat house mixed with a kindergarten mixed with Scientology, and you have an idea of what it’s like.
culture  business  startup 
april 2016
Robert Haas: No More Full-Table Vacuums
Instead of whole-table vacuums, we now have aggressive vacuums, which will read every page in the table that isn't already known to be entirely frozen. If you have a large database which is mostly static but which has a comparatively small active portion, this change will massively reduce the impact of wraparound vacuuming. Users with multi-terabyte databases having non-trivial write activity will be especially happy about this change. An aggressive vacuum still figures to read more data than a regular vacuum, possibly a lot more. But at least it won't read the data that hasn't been touched since the last aggressive vacuum, and that's a big improvement.
postgres  development  database 
march 2016
IncludeOS: A minimal, resource efficient unikernel for cloud systems
The mechanism used for extracting only what is needed from the operating system, is the one provided by default by modern linkers. Each part of the OS is compiled into an object-file, such as ip4.o, udp.o, pci_device.o etc., which are then combined using ar to form a static library os.a. When a program links with this library, only what’s necessary will automatically be extracted by the linker and end up in the final binary. To facilitate this build process a custom GCC-toolchain has been created.
paper  unikernel 
february 2016
How to do distributed locking — Martin Kleppmann’s blog
Very well-written and accessible review of RedLock:

If you need locks only on a best-effort basis (as an efficiency optimization, not for correctness), I would recommend sticking with the straightforward single-node locking algorithm for Redis (conditional set-if-not-exists to obtain a lock, atomic delete-if-value-matches to release a lock), and documenting very clearly in your code that the locks are only approximate and may occasionally fail. Don’t bother with setting up a cluster of five Redis nodes.

On the other hand, if you need locks for correctness, please don’t use Redlock. Instead, please use a proper consensus system such as ZooKeeper, probably via one of the Curator recipes that implements a lock. (At the very least, use a database with reasonable transactional guarantees.) And please enforce use of fencing tokens on all resource accesses under the lock.

As I said at the beginning, Redis is an excellent tool if you use it correctly. None of the above diminishes the usefulness of Redis for its intended purposes. Salvatore has been very dedicated to the project for years, and its success is well deserved. But every tool has limitations, and it is important to know them and to plan accordingly.
redis  distributed  systems 
february 2016
Capability Myths Demolished | the morning paper
"Furthermore, the properties we identified show that capability systems lack certain fatal flaws of ACL systems – namely, the susceptibility of ACLS to the confused deputy problems that are inherent in ambient authority systems, and the inability of ACLs to perform least-privilege delegation to new processes. Capability-based systems provide much stronger support for the precise, minimal, and meaningful delegation of authority, which is fundamental to secure operation."
security  paper 
february 2016
For What It’s Worth: A Review of the Wu-Tang Clan’s “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin” | Dan Cohen
For What It’s Worth: A Review of the Wu-Tang Clan’s “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin”:
art  culture  aiweiwei 
january 2016
Wheel (Unix term) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"The term is derived from the slang phrase big wheel, referring to a person with great power or influence."
unix  history  words 
january 2016
Can't sign in to Google calendar on my Samsung refrigerator - Google Product Forums
I have a Samsung RF4289HARS refrigerator.  The Google calendar app on it has been working perfectly since I purchased the refrigerator August 2012.  However, with the latest changes in Google Calendar API, I can no longer sign in to my calendar.  I receive a message stating " Please check your email in Google Calendar website". 
design  iot 
december 2015
MIG: Mozilla InvestiGator
"a platform to perform investigative surgery on remote endpoints"
forensics  mozilla  security  tool 
november 2015
Drinking Soylent With The Last Of The California War Boys | MORNING, COMPUTER
Seasteading’s been and gone for the second (third?) time, the secession and Six-State-California guys have been and gone.  It is that time in the cycle where the Libertarian App Future Brothers start living off the grid, buying guns and getting good and weird out there alone in the dark.  I wonder how we’ll look back at this whole period of the last five or ten years.  At how the digital gold rush and the strange pressures of a new, yet accelerated, period of cultural invention cooked a whole new set of mental wounds out of the people swept up in it.  Yes, sure, it gave us sociopaths who prefer humans to be drones and believe that everything is rotting.  But I think, reviewing the era, that we will be sad.  I think we may look back and consider that, one more time, we saw the best minds of our generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked, dragging themselves after an Uber that isn’t actually there because Uber fake most of those little cars you see on the Uber app map.
august 2015
Any non-trivial code generating code is hard to read, understand and maintain. While most code generating tools do the technical part of the job all right, they fail on the manageability aspect. Ribosome tries to address it using following measures:

Generated code is properly indented (also think of generating Python code!)
No escape sequences or other visual smog in the source.
Flexibility in indentation of the source.
Colouring support in editors.
Note however, that Ribosome trades speed for readability/maintainability and thus it isn't well suited for performance-critical tasks such as, for example, generating HTML on the fly.
code  generation  tool 
july 2015
Kombucha Process
Complete quickstart guide to brewing kombucha / ginger beer
kombucha  cooking  recipe 
july 2015
Google’s big break: How Bill Gross’ GoTo.com inspired the AdWords business model.
To drive home just how efficient these ads could be, Gross came up with an audacious pricing scheme. Instead of paying for page-views—an old-media model that had come to dominate the Web—advertisers would pay only when people actually clicked on their ads. And their placement on the GoTo.com results page would be determined through an auction, so that more desirable keywords would command higher prices, while less common keywords could be had for as little as a penny per click. As a search engine, GoTo.com had nothing on Google. But as a way of making money on searches, it was ingenious.
history  marketing  business  advertising  google 
july 2015
James J. Gibson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gibson challenged the idea that the nervous system actively constructs conscious visual perception, and instead promoted ecological psychology, in which the mind directly perceives environmental stimuli without additional cognitive construction or processing.
reference  psychology 
july 2015
Apodicticity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Apodictic propositions contrast with assertoric propositions, which merely assert that something is (or is not) the case, and with problematic propositions, which assert only the possibility of something being true. Franz Brentano writes in The True and the Evident, "judgments may be either assertoric or apodictic. Assertoric judgments are judgments which are possibly true but are unproven." Apodictic judgments are judgments which are clearly provable and logically certain. For instance, "Two plus two equals four" is apodictic. "Chicago is larger than Omaha" is assertoric. "A corporation could be wealthier than a country" is problematic. In Aristotelian logic, "apodictic" is opposed to "dialectic," as scientific proof is opposed to probable reasoning. Kant contrasts "apodictic" with "problematic" and "assertoric" in the Critique of Pure Reason, on page A70/B95.


Everything and More 197
july 2015
H-Store: Next Generation OLTP Database Research
H-Store is an experimental main-memory, parallel database management system that is optimized for on-line transaction processing (OLTP) applications. It is a highly distributed, row-store-based relational database that runs on a cluster on shared-nothing, main memory executor nodes.
architecture  database  distributed 
may 2015
Mexico: How 43 Students Disappeared In The Night - The Intercept
While the crime of kidnapping can carry a lengthier prison sentence in Mexico than enforced disappearance, the consequences for the state are minimal, because the crime is attributed to just the accused. By rarely bringing enforced disappearance charges, the Mexican government escapes accountability. If cases of enforced disappearance were routinely pursued, they could provide evidence of systemic abuses, which could trigger charges of crimes against humanity and possibly jeopardize the multi-billion dollar security aid package the Mexican government receives from the U.S government, among other consequences. Under the Leahy Law, named after Sen. Patrick Leahy, aid to foreign security forces implicated in gross human rights violations is illegal.

Ariel Dulitzky, chair-rapporteur of the United Nation’s working group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, told The Intercept that even if the Mexican government’s account of the Ayotzinapa case is accurate — that it was strictly municipal police who took the students — federal police and the army failed to prevent the disappearances. “At the minimum, that should be investigated,” he said. “That will constitute, also, a crime of enforced disappearance — the lack of a proper prevention by state authorities.”

To date, just six people have been convicted on federal charges of enforced disappearance in Mexico. Whether the students taken in Iguala were victims of enforced disappearance – and whether the federal government has made legitimate efforts to bring such charges – has become a central question. Under Mexico’s federal transparency law, documents otherwise subject to protection must be released if they relate to an investigation of grave human rights abuses, such as enforced disappearance. Under a state transparency law, Guerrero released a public report detailing its investigation last fall, citing evidence of human rights violations in the case.
mexico  war  drugs  politics  government 
may 2015
All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
by Richard Brautigan

I like to think (and
the sooner the better!)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching cl...
poetry  brautigan  from notes
april 2015
Find Your Beach by Zadie Smith | The New York Review of Books
Find your beach. The construction is odd. A faintly threatening mixture of imperative and possessive forms, the transformation of a noun into a state of mind. Perhaps I’m reading too much into it. On the one hand it means, simply, “Go out and discover what makes you happy.” Pursue happiness actively, as Americans believe it their right to do. And it’s an ad for beer, which makes you happy in the special way of all intoxicants, by reshaping reality around a sensation you alone are having. So, even more precisely, the ad means: “Go have a beer and let it make you happy.” Nothing strange there. Except beer used to be sold on the dream of communal fun: have a beer with a buddy, or lots of buddies. People crowded the frame, laughing and smiling. It was a lie about alcohol—as this ad is a lie about alcohol—but it was a different kind of lie, a wide-framed lie, including other people.
culture  life  nyc  advertising 
april 2015
Death and Twitter - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"The human being copies gestures, miming, tones of voice. And weeping arises from sorrow, but sorrow also arises from weeping."

To this we might add, “And tweeting arises from sorrow, but sorrow also arises from tweeting.”

And there's one more element worth noting: When someone like Philip Seymour Hoffman dies, at the height of his powers and of his fame, the grief that people express is distinctly different from that they express for a faded star like Whitney Houston. Since they have no recent encounters with her music, they cast their minds back to their own youth — which is of course lost. As Gerard Manley Hopkins said to the young girl weeping over a forest losing its leaves in autumn, “It is Margaret you mourn for”.

All this said, I wonder if it might not be useful for all of us to spend some time thinking about those artists and musicians and writers and actors and thinkers whose death would — we know now, while they’re still here, without any crowdsourced lamentation — would really and truly be a loss to our lives. And then maybe tweet a line or two of gratitude for them before death forces our hand.
internet  culture  twitter 
april 2015
intimacy gradients - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
If you tweet something hoping that your friends will notice and respond, that’s fine; but you’re not in a small room with just your friends, you’re in a vast public space — you’re in the street. And when you stand in the street and make a statement through a megaphone, you can’t reasonably be offended if total strangers have something so say in reply. If you want to speak only to your friends, you need to invite them into a more intimate space. 

And as far as I can tell, that’s what private Twitter accounts provide: a place to talk just with friends, where you can’t be overheard. 

Now, private accounts tend to work against the grain of Twitter as self-promotion, Twitter as self-branding, Twitter as “being on view.” And if we had to choose, many of us might forego community for presentation. But we don’t have to choose: it’s possible to do both, to have a private and a public presence. For some that will be too much to manage; for others, perhaps for many others, that could be where Twitter is headed. 
internet  culture  twitter 
april 2015
Code Fetishists vs. Antinomians | Snakes and Ladders
Charles Taylor explains many (most?) internet debates — and a great many others from the past two hundred years. If you ever wonder why people on Twitter (serious people, not mere trolls) can get so extreme in their policing of deviations from approved behavior, see “The Perils of Moralism,” in Dilemmas and Connections: Selected Essays
religion  internet  culture 
april 2015
Moldovan winery disrupts Russian space mission by refusing to ship critical supplies, ships to NASA instead
Purcari, a winery in the South-Eastern part of Moldova, is putting a Russian space mission at risk, following the company’s board decision not to supply their erythrocytes rich red blend, critical to cosmonauts’ diet. Instead, Purcari announced a new partnership with the NASA’s space-food program.
moldova  winery  russia  space  nasa 
april 2015
How Self-Help Publishing Ate America -- New York Magazine
“TED,” says Sutton, “is sort of like the new Oprah.”
books  publishing 
march 2015
Sloan Digital Sky Survey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey or SDSS is a major multi-filter imaging and spectroscopic redshift survey using a dedicated 2.5-m wide-angle optical telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, United States. The project was named after the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which contributed significant funding.

Data collection began in 2000, and the final imaging data release covers over 35% of the sky, with photometric observations of around 500 million objects and spectra for more than 3 million objects. The main galaxy sample has a median redshift of z = 0.1; there are redshifts for luminous red galaxies as far as z = 0.7, and for quasars as far as z = 5; and the imaging survey has been involved in the detection of quasars beyond a redshift z = 6.
dataset  astronomy  science 
march 2015
22/C4.1 - Collective Code Construction Contract - 0MQ Requests for Comments
* The ZeroMQ community uses the C4.1 process for many projects.
* OSSEC uses the C4.1 process.
* The Machinekit community uses the C4.1 process.
collaboration  culture  git  opensource 
march 2015
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