Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving edition of stuff I'm reading

Here's some things I found interesting; you might find them interesting too!

  • Want a petroglyph of your own? Apparently, some people want them so badly they'll go and steal them: Petroglyph thefts near Bishop stun federal authorities, Paiutes
    The theft required extraordinary effort: Ladders, electric generators and power saws had to be driven into the remote and arid high desert site near Bishop. Thieves gouged holes in the rock and sheared off slabs that were up to 15 feet above ground and 2 feet high and wide.
  • Lots of fascinating stuff to read here: Winners Named in 2012 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award Competition . Among the stories:
    Nijhuis donned a protective suit and went underground to observe both bats and biologists as she reported on white-nose syndrome, a fast-moving fungal disease that has killed more than a million cave-dwelling bats in the northeastern United States and is threatening to spread across the continent. The judges noted the scope of the Nijhuis story, which provided an in-depth look at an issue that has been emerging since 2007 when the disease was first discovered in bats behaving oddly in upstate New York.
    On the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington, the largest dam-removal project in North America is underway. At a cost of $325 million, two dams that have blocked salmon runs on the Elwha River for more than a century are being removed in a grand experiment in ecological restoration that is posing challenges for engineers and scientists alike. State, federal and tribal scientists are gathering baseline data on what the river basin is like today and what it could become as 800 acres drowned by the dam reservoirs are seeded with hundreds of thousands of native plants.
  • In this week's discussion of MOOCs, Jon Bruner makes an interesting observation about one reason this might appeal to certain faculty members: Will online learning destroy America’s colleges?
    Top-tier schools that survive the spread of MOOCs could find themselves subject to new costs and transformations by the creation of a star system for faculty, in which popular teachers will have an international audience.
  • Great story in Wired about the overlaps between computational linguistics, machine translation, and cryptography: They Cracked This 250-Year-Old Code, and Found a Secret Society Inside
    Knight was part of an extremely small group of machine-translation researchers who treated foreign languages like ciphers—as if Russian, for example, were just a series of cryptological symbols representing English words. In code-breaking, he explained, the central job is to figure out the set of rules for turning the cipher’s text into plain words: which letters should be swapped, when to turn a phrase on its head, when to ignore a word altogether. Establishing that type of rule set, or “key,” is the main goal of machine translators too. Except that the key for translating Russian into English is far more complex. Words have multiple meanings, depending on context. Grammar varies widely from language to language. And there are billions of possible word combinations.
  • Should counter-hacking be legal? The law firm of Steptoe and Johnson hosts a fascinating debate: The Hackback Debate
    Legalizing self-help would also encourage foul play designed to harness the new privileges. One possibility is the bankshot attack: If I want a computer to be attacked, I can route attacks through that one computer towards a series of victims, and then wait for the victims to attack back at that computer because they believe the computer is the source of the attack.
  • Why did Cisco spend over a billion dollars to buy Meraki? The Networking Nerd says it's all about dynamic network management
    Their single management platform allows them to manage switches, firewalls, and wireless in one single application. You can see all the critical information that your switches are pumping out and program them accordingly. The demo I saw at WFD2 was isolating a hungry user downloading too much data with a combination of user identification and pushing an ACL down to that user limiting their bandwidth for certain kinds of traffic without totally locking that person out of the network. That’s the kind of thing that Cisco is looking for.
  • The great folks over at Netflix have pushed the mature, but still widely-used, log4j framework to the extreme: Announcing Blitz4j - a scalable logging framework
    Blitz4j overrides key parts of the log4j architecture to remove the locks and replace them with concurrent data structures.Blitz4j puts the emphasis more on application performance and stability rather than accuracy in logging. This means Blitz4j leans more towards the asynchronous model of logging and tries to make the logging useful by retaining the time-order of logging messages.
    As a guy who spends huge amounts of my waking days poring through logs, doing forensic analysis and post-mortem debugging, I get nervous about people who are willing to trade away accuracy in logging. But as the Netflix team point out, logging is pointless if it can't keep up with the load:
    It had worked fine for us, until the point where there was a real need to log lots of data. When our traffic increased and when the need for per-instance logging went up, log4j's frailties started to get exposed.
  • Lastly, a spot of delightful news: Perforce Cuts the Ribbon on Alameda's Little Ice Rink
    Supporting the local community – whether that’s Alameda or other causes close to employee’s hearts – has always been part of the fabric of life at Perforce. The Foundation was established in 1998, just a few years after Perforce was started. The Foundation’s focus is on “community” and The Little Ice Rink is an awesome way to bring families and friends together during the holidays.
    Thank you Perforce!

No comments:

Post a Comment