Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The bug it took three dozen engineers to fix

Don't miss this nicely presented story about a subtle but devastating performance bug in a database connection pool cache eviction policy choice which was finally solved by a task force of Facebook engineers: Solving The Mystery of Link Imbalance: a Metastable Failure State at Scale

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Carlson prevails again

A beautiful win for Carlson in game eleven and he retains the championship.

Shall I make a prediction? Next up is caruana.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Turkey trot

It seems like we are at that time of the year when everybody is incredibly busy.

And there's so much to read!

  • If you only watch one technical video this year, make it James Hamilton: AWS Innovation at Scale
    This session, led by James Hamilton, VP and Distinguished Engineer, gives an insider view of some the innovations that help make the AWS cloud unique. He will show examples of AWS networking innovations from the interregional network backbone, through custom routers and networking protocol stack, all the way down to individual servers. He will show examples from AWS server hardware, storage, and power distribution and then, up the stack, in high scale streaming data processing. James will also dive into fundamental database work AWS is delivering to open up scaling and performance limits, reduce costs, and eliminate much of the administrative burden of managing databases.
  • Google to Quadruple Computer Science Prize Winnings to $1 Million
    The Turing Award had carried prize money of $250,000 and was jointly underwritten by Google and Intel since 2007. But Intel decided to step away as a funder, and Google stepped up and upped the ante.
  • Microsoft Releases Emergency Security Update
    “The attacker could forge a Kerberos Ticket and send that to the Kerberos KDC which claims the user is a domain administrator,” writes Chris Goettl, product manager with Shavlik. “From there the attacker can impersonate any domain accounts, add themselves to any group, install programs, view\change\delete date, or create any new accounts they wish.
  • Compiler Design in C
    Compiler Design in C is now, unfortunately, out of print. However, you can download a copy
  • Keeping Secrets
    the conference featured the work of a group from Stanford that had drawn the ire of the National Security Agency and the attention of the national press. The researchers in question were Martin Hellman, then an associate professor of electrical engineering, and his students Steve Pohlig, MS ’75, PhD ’78, and Ralph Merkle, PhD ’79.

    A year earlier, Hellman had published “New Directions in Cryptography” with his student Whitfield Diffie, Gr. ’78. The paper introduced the principles that now form the basis for all modern cryptography

  • Building a complete Tweet index
    In this post, we describe how we built a search service that efficiently indexes roughly half a trillion documents and serves queries with an average latency of under 100ms.
  • Why I'm not signing up for Google Contributor (or giving up on web advertising)
    People say all kinds of stuff. You have to watch what they do. What they do, offline, is enjoy high-value ad-supported content, with the ads. Why is the web so different? Why do people treat web ads more like email spam and less like offline ads? The faster we can figure out the ad blocking paradox, the faster we can move from annoying, low-value web ads to ads that pull their weight economically.
  • Your developers aren’t slow
    Feel like your team isn’t shipping fast enough? Chances are, your developers aren’t to blame.

    What’s really slowing down development?

    If it’s not your developers, what’s slowing down development? Here’s a hint: it’s your process.

  • Cache is the new RAM
    You know things are really desperate when “less painful than writing it yourself” is the main selling point.
  • Delayed Durability in SQL Server 2014
    With delayed durability, the transaction commit proceeds without the log block flush occurring – hence the act of making the transaction durable is delayed. Under delayed durability, log blocks are only flushed to disk when they reach their maximum size of 60KB. This means that transactions commit a lot faster, hold their locks for less time, and so Transactions/sec increases greatly (for this workload). You can also see that the Log Flushes/sec decreased greatly as well, as previously it was flushing lots of tiny log blocks and then changed to only flush maximum-sized log blocks.
  • Delayed Durability in SQL Server 2014
    Like many other additions in recent versions of SQL Server (*cough* Hekaton), this feature is NOT designed to improve every single workload – and as noted above, it can actually make some workloads worse. See this blog post by Simon Harvey for some other questions you should ask yourself about your workload to determine if it is feasible to sacrifice some durability to achieve better performance.
  • The Programmer's Price: Want to hire a coding superstar? Call the agent.
    Hiring computer engineers used to be the province of tech companies, but, these days, every business—from fashion to finance—is a tech company. City governments have apps, and the actress Jessica Alba is the co-founder of a startup worth almost a billion dollars. All of these enterprises need programmers. The venture capitalist Marc Andreessen told New York recently, “Our companies are dying for talent. They’re like lying on the beach gasping because they can’t get enough talented people in for these jobs.”
  • git-p4 - Import from and submit to Perforce repositories
    Create a new Git repository from an existing p4 repository using git p4 clone, giving it one or more p4 depot paths. Incorporate new commits from p4 changes with git p4 sync. The sync command is also used to include new branches from other p4 depot paths. Submit Git changes back to p4 using git p4 submit. The command git p4 rebase does a sync plus rebases the current branch onto the updated p4 remote branch.

Fun and Games

With two games to go, Carlsen still maintains his 1 point advantage over Anand. But two games left means nothing is yet decided.

  • Did champ fall asleep during chess title match game?
    The chess world is still buzzing over images posted to social media that appear to show world chess champion Magnus Carlsen of Norway actually falling asleep at the board during this week’s Game 8 of his world championship match with Indian challenger Viswanathan Anand of India in Sochi, Russia.
  • Cool Chess Photo Trivia: Name event, Year!
    Did both the players know back then that they would meet in Sochi! Can you name the chess event and the year?
  • Ten Years of World of Warcraft
    These days, so many more people have passed through the gates of Azeroth than ever played its antecedents that many don’t even know the deep wellspring sources from which it came. Most of the defining characteristics of WoW are from a long tradition that started around 1990. WoW represents the (perhaps final) evolution of the DikuMUD model.
  • The Unbalanced Design of Super Smash Brothers
    I think a large part of what enables this depth to be found in Smash Brothers is that the game isn't balanced. It's not a small roster of perfectly tuned characters. It's a big game with lots of characters that creates a huge and unexplored problem space. It's up to the players to explore the nooks and crannies and see what treasures they can find. I find that incredibly exciting and compelling.
  • Handmade Hero
    Handmade Hero is an ongoing project to create a complete, professional-quality game accompanied by videos that explain every single line of its source code.
  • Finally, a New Clue to Solve the CIA’s Mysterious Kryptos Sculpture
    Is a Clock a Clock?

    Sanborn told WIRED that he’s always been fascinated by Berlin’s many clocks but the Berlin Clock in particular has intrigued him the most. The clock, also known as the Berlin Uhr or Set Theory Clock, was designed in the 1970s by inventor and tinkerer Dieter Binninger. It displays the time through illuminated colored blocks rather than numbers and requires the viewer to calculate the time based on a complex scheme.

  • Boxer-Clad Coders Adorn Silicon Valley’s Billboard Boom
    Surging billboard demand has led to a jarring sight for those driving on San Francisco’s main highway these days -- a 50-foot picture of a pasty software engineer, lying provocatively on his side, showing a bit of chest hair and wearing only his underwear.

    “Find the hottest tech talent,” reads the billboard for technology jobs website Dice.com. The ad went up last month to tout new services for recruiting technology workers.

  • Lavish Perks Spawn New Job Category: At Tech Companies, Aim-to-Please Specialists Provide Yoga Classes, Jell-O Shots; ‘We’re Like Little Elves’
    “We are just providing basic standards,” says Ms. Nguyen, 40 years old, whose title is head of workplace. Free lunch, dinner, snacks and events like a Jell-O shot-making “studio night” are a big part of what it takes to keep Pinterest’s roughly 450 employees productive and happy, she adds.
  • Bandstand
    On the whole, if there were different line-ups of bands, the classic line-up of a band is shown. (Obviously, there might be times when what I consider a classic line-up is different to what other people might consider a classic line-up.) Stage positions are approximated.
  • Mango’s Tropical CafĂ© Owners Unveil Track Design for World’s Tallest Rollercoaster – The Skyscraper™
    The track design of Skyscraper is totally unique to Orlando and was created specifically to begin and end inside SKYPLEX. The $250 million entertainment complex comprises approximately 495,000 square feet located on 12 prime acres in the attractions corridor. SKYPLEX will feature the area’s largest indoor theme park complete with an upscale arcading, simulators, rock climbing, bars, and a host of rides and games, as well as additional opportunities for attractions, interactive venues, restaurants and retail.

Is it an omen? The squirrel that occupies our front yard stole the lemon off our lemon bush.

Interpret that!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Other people discuss things I don't understand

I should understand these things.

But I don't.

But I must try to.

  • Uber Executive Suggests Digging Up Dirt On Journalists
    Over dinner, he outlined the notion of spending “a million dollars” to hire four top opposition researchers and four journalists. That team could, he said, help Uber fight back against the press — they’d look into “your personal lives, your families,” and give the media a taste of its own medicine.

    Michael was particularly focused on one journalist, Sarah Lacy, the editor of the Silicon Valley website PandoDaily, a sometimes combative voice inside the industry. Lacy recently accused Uber of “sexism and misogyny.” She wrote that she was deleting her Uber app after BuzzFeed News reported that Uber appeared to be working with a French escort service. “I don’t know how many more signals we need that the company simply doesn’t respect us or prioritize our safety,” she wrote.

  • The Coming Era of Privacy Scandals: Why the Uber story is certain to recur
    The data revolution has happened; the toothpaste can’t be put back into the tube. It’s not just the NSA which has access to enormous amounts of personal data on us; it’s any number of companies big and small, which you may or may not have ever heard of. If that data can be subpoenaed, and most of it can be, then it can also be accessed without a subpoena by people within the firm, who might have nothing better to do during their lunch hour than look up celebrities, or friends, or enemies and see what they can find. Such behavior is ignoble, to be sure – but it is going to happen.
  • Uber's data makes a creepy point about the company
    A couple of years ago, there was an entry on the company's blog titled "Rides of Glory." The company examined its rider data, sorting it for anyone who took an Uber between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. on a Friday or Saturday night. Then it looked at how many of those same people took another ride about four to six hours later – from at or near the previous nights' drop-off point.

    Yes, Uber can and does track one-night stands.

  • Some thoughts on App Based Car Services
    Cars are already becoming generic. And already we have a generation coming up that gives a much smaller damn about driving than did previous ones — at least in the U.S. All that aspirational stuff about independence and style doesn’t matter as much as it used to. How long before GM, Ford and Toyota start making special models just for Uber and Lyft drivers?
  • What to do about Uber
    So here's a modest suggestion: treat the city's roads like a traditional public utility, or a public resource like cell spectrum. Invite Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing companies to tender for a license as the city's preferred ride-sharing service. Let them compete to show how they'll treat drivers and riders fairly, in their terms and conditions; and let them bid for the right to this future profit stream.
  • Nick Denton On How Gawker, Uber and Facebook Will Save Humanity
    Gawker Media’s sites have also been aggressive in calling out the many supposed sins of Uber and its CEO, Travis Kalanick. But Denton has praise for the car-summoning service — high praise indeed. “Uber may do more for the world than foreign aid workers in Mozambique because at some point some version of Uber will allow for more efficient use of resources and a better standard of living,” he says.
  • Stuck in the middle
    There is nothing surprising or wrong with the idea of a tech company investigating reporters. The idea that only reporters have the ability to publish is a 20th century idea. Now anyone who wants to speak can start a blog or a podcast and get up and speak.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Drip drip drip

It's snowing in Truckee!.

And it rained about half an inch, maybe more, here in the Bay Area, today.

But oh-my-goodness is it dry: 203 drought maps reveal just how thirsty California has become.

More than 80% of California is in extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, and the state's condition isn't expected to improve in the near future.

I'm not sure I'd want to change places with Buffalo, New York, though: Jets-Bills Game Will Not Be Played In Buffalo Due To Massive Snowfall.

A league spokesman says a severe lake-effect snowstorm hitting Buffalo has led the NFL to relocate the Bills home game against the New York Jets on Sunday.

But hopefully we can at least continue to get some rain...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Things you can put into your roasted vegetables dish

For example, if you're making roasted vegetables for the company potluck.

  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Yams
  • Potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Leeks
  • Butternut Squash
  • Acorn Squash
  • Kabocha Squash

Clean; peel; chop.

Toss with olive oil, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or so.

Attend company potluck.