Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Resources for understanding the Greek Euro Crisis

Courtesy of Jason Kottke, here are some good articles, in which people try bravely to explain the things that I fear I'll never understand.

  • Greece Saunters Across the Autobahn
    If you want to predict what people will do in most financial situations, then figure out what is in their narrow self-interest to do, and assume they will sooner or later figure it out, too. But that doesn't work when people's behavior isn't confined to the narrow channel of self-interest.
  • Felixsplainer: I haven’t been paying attention. What’s going on in Greece?
    For the first few decades after the war, it worked very well. But today the different European countries are deeply suspicious of each other. There’s an especially deep divide between the rich/creditor northern, Germanic countries and the poorer/debtor Mediterranean countries. Europe as a coherent political entity exists more in theory than in practice. And without political will, the economics simply doesn’t work.
  • 5 things you need to know about Greece's financial meltdown
    On pensions, the EU wants Greece to stop people from retiring early, as 75% of its public-sector employees do. Europe wants Greece to raise the retirement age to 67 years old — the same as Germany's — which would be a big change from Greece's current retirement age of 61 years old.
  • Everything you need to know about this unfolding Greek tragedy
    Although unwelcome, stiffing the IMF is not considered a default by the main credit ratings agencies, which are focused on debt held by private-sector lenders. The IMF also gives late payers warnings and some time to clear their arrears before publishing an official notice of default.

    Clauses in Greece’s debts to the euro zone’s rescue fund and the ECB include provisions to call in loans if the country misses a payment to other creditors, but officials suggest that they wouldn’t be quick to enact these clauses as long as there is hope of reaching some sort of deal that would keep Athens afloat.

  • Greece debt crisis: Live Coverage
    European Union President Donald Tusk has warned the Greek people that voting no in the referendum will not give their government more leverage to seek a better bailout deal: "Every government has a right to hold a referendum, therefore we respect the Greek decision. However, one thing should be very clear: if someone says that the government will have a stronger negotiating position with the `no' vote, it is simply not true. I'm afraid that which such a result of referendum, there will be even less space for negotiation."

Alternate sources for coverage of Oracle v Google?

A reader (I have readers? Really? I thought it was just my mom and a couple old friends) asked me why I was pointing to Florian Mueller as a source for information on Oracle v Google.

I responded that I agreed that Mueller was pretty strongly biased, but, on the other hand, who else is covering this case?

I used to read Groklaw, but as far as I know they shut down two years ago.

Are there other sources for understanding the current state of Oracle v Google?

Please don't tell me to read the court proceedings themselves; yes, I know they are published and available, but no, that's just not helpful, sorry.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Stuff I'm reading, end of June edition

Took a day off to enjoy the beautiful weather ... and tonight we're heading into the city for something we've never done before: opera!

Meanwhile:

  • Oracle v. Google Android-Java copyright case goes back to San Fran: Supreme Court denies Google petition
    Now that the Supreme Court has denied Google's petition and appellate attorney Joshua Rosenkranz (of Orrick Herrington Sutcliffe) has once again shown why he was dubbed the "Defibrillator" (for bringing cases back to life that appeared to have been lost), the sizable litigation caravan that had gone from California to Washington DC for the appellate proceedings--where an amazing reversal of fortunes occurred, with Oracle now having the upper hand--can finally head back all the way to the West.
  • The Problem With Putting All the World's Code in GitHub
    But Github’s pending emergence as Silicon Valley’s latest unicorn holds a certain irony. The ideals of open source software center on freedom, sharing, and collective benefit—the polar opposite of venture capitalists seeking a multibillion-dollar exit. Whatever its stated principles, Github is under immense pressure to be more than just a sustainable business. When profit motives and community ideals clash, especially in the software world, the end result isn’t always pretty.
  • The costs of forks
    A request from Emilien Macchi for more collaboration between Fuel and the Puppet OpenStack project kicked off the discussion. Puppet is a configuration management utility that is used by Fuel to assist in deploying OpenStack. But Fuel has forked some of the Puppet modules it uses from the Puppet OpenStack project—which creates Puppet modules for OpenStack components—into its Fuel Library repository. Macchi noted a number of problems with how that has been handled over the last two years.
  • Killing yourself to survive is not the same as innovating
    To be sure, it is a maxim of economics that the returns to innovation are often higher for new entrants than incumbents precisely because new entrant’s don’t care about the sales of existing products. But it is equally important to note that that maxim only arises if the incumbent expects entrants not to win with those new products. As soon as they expect that, because the incumbent has other assets — namely its core brand — the incumbent has a more powerful incentive to develop those new products than entrants. This is one way of looking at Facebook’s acquisitions. They are not so much about becoming a family of brands but instead, after uncertainty is resolved, continuing to fund innovation on products where the incentives to fund entrant’s doing them has fallen, not risen.
  • Collected Wisdom on Business and Life from the HBS Class of 1963
    The site, If I Knew Then, is actually also a book written by Artie Buerk, a member of the Harvard Business School (HBS) class of 1963 and contains collected wisdom — all in quotation form — from his classmates, gathered in preparation for their 50th reunion.
  • Respect Your Salespeople: They Earn Your Salary
    A salesperson’s domain knowledge isn’t just a boon to sales, it’s an important component when sales brings back customer feedback. Engineers know when they’re dealing with a “coin-operated” salesperson, and they have no respect for the species. ‘Ah, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about!’. Actually, engineers don’t have much respect for sales, period, but they’ll listen to a technically competent salesperson, particularly if he or she is bringing back an esoteric bug report.
  • Broadcasters, fighting, and data leakage
    The radio station builds an audience, and the third-party trackers leak it away.
  • Google Summer of Code 2015 Frequently Asked Questions
    Timely evaluations of Google Summer of Code students are crucial to us.
  • Expanding the Panama Canal
    Work began in 2007 to raise the capacity of Gatun Lake and build two new sets of locks, which would accommodate ships carrying up to 14,000 containers of freight, tripling the size limit. Sixteen massive steel gates, weighing an average of 3,100 tons each, were built in Italy and shipped to Panama to be installed in the new locks. Eight years and $5.2 billion later, the expansion project is nearing completion. The initial stages of flooding the canals have begun and the projected opening date has been set for April of 2016.

Santa Clara night two looks like it was a very different show

Traditionally, the Grateful Dead never play the same show twice.

And it looks like that tradition has not changed.

Day Two was completely different from Day One: Setlist & Review | Fare Thee Well Santa Clara Night Two on JamBase .

It sounds like a lot more singing, and a much more accessible show, with songs plucked from both new and old. I'm sad I missed Wharf Rat and Eyes of The World, two of my favorites, but we had such a wonderful time on Saturday that I'm certainly not complaining!

Now, on to Chicago; I wonder what additional wonders they will pull out of that hat...

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fare Thee Well, indeed

Well, that was both different, ...

... and the same.

Roughly 25 years after the last show I attended (New Year's at the Kaiser Auditorium in 1990, I think), we made it down to Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara last night for Fare Thee Well, a reunion concert of the Grateful Dead, consisting of the 4 surviving original band members (Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzman) joined by guitarist Trey Anastasio and keyboardists Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti.

We arrived early, and were able to navigate the legendary Levi's Stadium traffic (the stadium is built in the middle of a high tech office park, and leases the parking lots of the nearby office buildings to serve as stadium parking). 2 blocks away was the giant dirt lot that is normally the tailgate area for 49ers games, and it had been turned into a scene from Golden Gate Park in 1967.

After about 90 minutes of enjoying the scene, we made our way over to the stadium, where we had comfortable seats with a beautiful view in delightful near-perfect weather.

Even when night arrived, and a (very) light rain began to fall at about 9:00 PM, the weather remained perfect, as we were treated to a glorious rainbow above the stadium, perfectly framing the stage.

The band dug WAY back into the old days, and although they played two of my favorite songs (Uncle John's Band and Cumberland Blues), the bulk of the show drew on some of their oldest, freakiest, least accessible material, with pieces like Alligator, Born Cross-Eyed, and Cryptical Envelopment.

These were not sing-along crowd favorites (though they did open and close the show with those: Trucking to start and Casey Jones to end), but rather were dreamy "jam" pieces, stretching out for 10 or 15 minutes at a time, complete with light show playing across the enormous stage.

These long, instrumental pieces fit well with the composition of the band, as Hornsby and Anastasio are really more jazz musicians than folk artists, but really my favorite work by the Grateful Dead was always the folk and bluegrass sensibility that was truly Jerry Garcia's thing.

And, yes, they did indeed play Dark Star, and 75,000 grizzled old codgers (and a surprising number of what, 3rd generation Dead Heads?) sung along with "the transitive nightfall of diamonds".

So while it's no surprise that the show went the way it did, it's also probably no surprise to hear that it left me content, yet simultaneously even more wistful about the terrible loss that was Garcia's vastly premature death in 1995.

After 2 hours of driving, 2 hours of wandering around through the pre-show scene, and 5 hours (yes, they started at 7:00 and didn't finish until after midnight; a typical legendary Grateful Dead set list) of show, we were both exhausted, yet pleased that we were there.

It was a memorable event, and even though I'm not the lad I was 42 years ago when I heard my first Grateful Dead song (Tennessee Jed, as I recall), you can clearly take the Bryan out of the Grateful Dead, but you can't ever quite take the Grateful Dead out of Bryan.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Witcher 3's race problem

This is very true:

  • Colorblind: On The Witcher 3, Rust, and gaming's race problem
    Creating digital representations of people who aren't white indicates a culture and industry who view us as people. It counters the status quo that dehumanizes us by erasing us or casting us as non-humans. We want to be seen as people, too. There's little more to it, for me.

    But seeing angry responses to this simple request speaks volumes about the kind of culture we're creating by not diversifying races, genders and so on. Consider: In The Witcher 3, all humans are white and every other being is non-human. That's not exactly friendly or inclusive of people of color. A game can include a diverse variety of monsters, but not a diverse variety of skin colors or races for humans?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Now I can go climbing from the comfort of my office chair

Vertical Street View of the world’s most iconic rock wall: Yosemite’s El Capitan

Maybe it was the sheer exhaustion from being in the middle of a 19-day climb of the Dawn Wall, but when the guys at Google Maps and Yosemite National Park asked if I wanted to help them with their first-ever vertical Street View collection of El Capitan in Yosemite, I didn’t hesitate. Yosemite has been such an important part of my life that telling the story of El Capitan through Street View was right up my alley—especially when it meant working with the Google engineers to figure out some absurd challenges.