Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Don't just sit there watching football (except the Rose Bowl, which ought to be pretty good); get over to your computer and read, read read!

  • A few of the accomplishments of 2012 that may have slipped by without you noticing: The Year’s Best in Mountaineering: The 5 Most Impressive Climbs of 2012
    Steck managed to string together a series of summits on the Jungfrau, Mönch, and Eiger by speed climbing each of the mountains and paragliding from one to the next. The expedition began early in the morning and Steck glided from the summit of the Eiger back to his car by 5:00 PM, getting him home in time for dinner.
  • Like my nieces, you probably weren't able to watch Netflix on Christmas Eve. Netflix and Amazon attempt to explain why: A Closer Look At The Christmas Eve Outage and Summary of the December 24, 2012 Amazon ELB Service Event in the US-East Region
    At 12:24 PM Pacific Time on December 24 network traffic stopped on a few ELBs used by a limited number of streaming devices. At around 3:30 PM on December 24, network traffic stopped on additional ELBs used by game consoles, mobile and various other devices to start up and load lists of TV shows and movies. These ELBs were patched back into service by AWS at around 10:30 PM on Christmas Eve, so game consoles etc. were impacted for about seven hours.

    It's interesting to see Amazon's analysis: at the bottom, it was a human error, by an Amazon employee:

    The data was deleted by a maintenance process that was inadvertently run against the production ELB state data. This process was run by one of a very small number of developers who have access to this production environment. Unfortunately, the developer did not realize the mistake at the time.
    My co-worker, who has similar production authority, has a fairly simple technique to help himself avoid these sorts of mistakes. He has two accounts, with the high-privileged one named specially, and with a special command-line prompt, and only enabled on the production machine itself, to help re-inforce the mantra: "sign on, issue one command, sign back off".

  • Dan Bricklin comments on the end of a podcasting error: the shutdown of Doug Kaye's IT Converstaions podcasts: End of a podcasting era but NYTimes #56,000
    Doug created the second podcast ever (the first was one recorded by Christopher Lydon posted by Dave Winer, if you use Doug's definition of podcasting starting with using the RSS enclosure tag). ITConversations.com started in 2003. The ongoing series of podcasts of many conferences, interviews, and "talk" shows like the Gillmor Gang, showed many of us the value of podcasting and also was of great educational value.
    Are podcasts truly mainstream now? I've fallen out of the podcast world, as I never found a decent podcast client for Linux, and I lost access to the Windows machine I used to use for podcast subscriptions.

  • Two contrasting views on our machine-assisted future to start the new year:
    • A 2011 perspective: Why Workers Are Losing the War Against Machines
      The threat of technological unemployment is real. To understand this threat, we'll define three overlapping sets of winners and losers that technical change creates: (1) high-skilled vs. low-skilled workers, (2) superstars vs. everyone else, and (3) capital vs. labor.
    • A 2012 perspective, from the much more optimistic Kevin Kelly: Better Than Human
      This is the greatest genius of the robot takeover: With the assistance of robots and computerized intelligence, we already can do things we never imagined doing 150 years ago. We can remove a tumor in our gut through our navel, make a talking-picture video of our wedding, drive a cart on Mars, print a pattern on fabric that a friend mailed to us through the air.
  • You'll want to read Bruce Sterling's annual take on the state of things: State of the World 2013: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
    Greed, like polarization, is a wicked problem. Jamais' response was reasonable, but was it practical? Can we eradicate greed? It's deeply embedded. Even the most enlightened struggle with it (if they say they don't, they're not enlightened).
  • Thinking about your own more personal future? Wendy Nather comments on Victor Wong's fascinating What They Don’t Tell You About Promotions in her own Levelling up in the real world.:
    If you upset people inside or outside the team, it creates extra work for your boss, who has to smooth things over. When you create extra work for your boss, you are totally not getting rewarded for it.
  • Still need more to read? Check out this great list: Free Datascience books
  • This book should probably be on my own personal list: SSH Mastery: OpenSSH, PuTTY, Tunnels and Keys
    This book saves you from sifting a decade of obsolete online tutorials and quickly gets you running:SSH with the OpenSSH server and the PuTTY and OpenSSH clients.

Finally, how could we possibly end without noting that today is the 150th anniversary of one of the greatest days in the entire history of the human race: The Emancipation Proclamation: January 1, 1863:

On the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
For this, then, God Bless America. Here's looking forward to 2013!

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