Saturday, December 21, 2013

Our world at the end of 2013

Happy holidays! If you know where the rain is, PLEASE SEND IT TO CALIFORNIA!

  • 'The Long Walk Home'
    Despite this, the people of Qunu were undeterred. They were welcoming their beloved "Tata" home. Everywhere I went I was greeted with a smile, a handshake, and the words, "Molo, Sisi" or "Hello, Sister." There was a spirit of South African ubuntu -- or unity -- just as President Obama noted in his moving memorial speech, and I knew all would come together to honor a great man.
  • The Birth of Standard Error
    "One afternoon several of us had the same experience -- typesetting something, feeding the paper through the developer, only to find a single, beautifully typeset line: "cannot open file foobar" The grumbles were loud enough and in the presence of the right people, and a couple of days later the standard error file was born..."
  • Into the Bitcoin Mines
    There are Bitcoin mining installations in Hong Kong and Washington State, among other places, but Mr. Abiodun chose Iceland, where geothermal and hydroelectric energy are plentiful and cheap. And the arctic air is free and piped in to cool the machines, which often overheat when they are pushed to the outer limits of their computing capacity.
  • 5 predictions on the future of databases (from a guy who knows databases)
    “I think the biggest NoSQL proponent of non-ACID has been historically a guy named Jeff Dean at Google, who’s responsible for, essentially, most to all of their database offerings. And he recently … wrote a system called Spanner,” Stonebraker explained. “Spanner is a pure ACID system. So Google is moving to ACID and I think the NoSQL market will move away from eventual consistency and toward ACID.”
  • Cards Stolen in Target Breach Flood Underground Markets
    But this store has earned a special reputation for selling quality “dumps,” data stolen from the magnetic stripe on the backs of credit and debit cards. Armed with that information, thieves can effectively clone the cards and use them in stores. If the dumps are from debit cards and the thieves also have access to the PINs for those cards, they can use the cloned cards at ATMs to pull cash out of the victim’s bank account.
  • The Google Technical Interview: How to Get Your Dream Job
    Each interviewer has a limited amount of time to convince themselves that you will be a great hire, and they want to spend that time in the most efficient way. Therefore once you are in a technical interview, our interviewers will mostly focus on programming problems, not the resume, which we find to be the best use of your time.
  • Pond
    So Pond is not email. Pond is forward secure, asynchronous messaging for the discerning. Pond messages are asynchronous, but are not a record; they expire automatically a week after they are received. Pond seeks to prevent leaking traffic information against everyone except a global passive attacker.
  • A Crypto Challenge For The Telegram Developers
    Let’s do this right and build a real Open Source secure asynchronous messaging solution that is more than snake oil and marketing gimmicks. TextSecure, the Open Source app we’ve been developing at Open WhisperSystems, uses the Axolotol ratchet, which we believe should represent the core of any secure asynchronous messaging solution today. We’ve worked with Cyanogen to transparently integrate the TextSecure protocol into CyanogenMod
  • The Taxonomy of Terrible Programmers
    The Hoarder is a cautious creature, perpetually unsure of itself. The Hoarder lives in a world of perpetual cognitive dissonance: extremely proud of his work, but so unsure of himself that he won’t let anyone see it if it can be helped.

    So he hides his code. Carefully avoiding check-ins until the last possible minute, when he crams it all into one monolithic commit and hopes no one can trace the changes back to him. His greatest fear is the dreaded merge conflict, where the risk of exposure is greatest.

  • The Cinematography of "The Incredibles" Part 1
    See all the crazy angles in the following shots. Nothing is by accident, the perspective they chose was purposefully done to help visually tell the story. Either to see a character's point of view, or to help show the dominance of a character with a certain interplay. Close-ups show what a character is thinking or feeling, over-the-shoulder shots place the audience right into the conversation, and the whole time there are shapes and lines in the foreground and background that aid in leading the viewers eyes to where they need to look.
  • The Google Test and Development Environment - Pt. 1: Office and Equipment
    Google is a highly collaborative workplace, so the open floor plan suits our engineering process. Project teams composed of Software Engineers (SWEs), Software Engineers in Test (SETs), and Test Engineers (TEs) all sit near each other or in large rooms together. The test-focused engineers are involved in every step of the development process, so it’s critical for them to sit with the product developers. This keeps the lines of communication open.

    The office space is far from rigid, and teams often rearrange desks to suit their preferences. The facilities team recently finished renovating a new floor in the New York City office, and after a day of engineering debates on optimal arrangements and white board diagrams, the floor was completely transformed.

    Besides the main office areas, there are lounge areas to which Googlers go for a change of scenery or a little peace and quiet. If you are trying to avoid becoming a casualty of The Great Foam Dart War, lounges are a great place to hide.

  • Scott Hanselman's 2014 Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Windows
    Everyone collects utilities, and most folks have a list of a few that they feel are indispensable. Here's mine. Each has a distinct purpose, and I probably touch each at least a few times a week. For me, "util" means utilitarian and it means don't clutter my tray. If it saves me time, and seamlessly integrates with my life, it's the bomb.
  • An appeal for security for the ordinary developer
    This style of communication, which I see quite often in security topics, makes it very easy for newcomers to feel utterly helpless. You are told that a particular practice is bad security-wise, but do not know how to improve, and it’s too abstract to figure it out on your own. I happen to know that strncat is safer than strcat because the latter can cause buffer overflows, and otherwise the manpage of strcat is quite vocal in explaining this. I have only a vague idea of how the block size of MACs influences timing channels. In other words, if we help developers discover what is wrong, it is most vital that we show them a clear path towards improvement.
  • Sex in Title, and Other Stories
    It seems perverse that in our digital society, where we are freer than ever to work where we like, with whom we like, on what we like, that our communities are more gender biased than ever. The most egalitarian societies, in the gender sense, are totalitarian states. This is surely a sign that we're doing something profoundly wrong when it comes to large-scale organization. The long-standing accusation of sexism may be accurate data yet it's done nothing to improve things, and instead widens the disagreeable, and enduring, split between the genders.
  • The Real Purpose of Oakland's Surveillance Center
    So what is the real purpose of the massive $10.9 million surveillance system? The records we examined show that the DAC is an open-ended project that would create a surveillance system that could watch the entire city and is designed to easily incorporate new high-tech features in the future. And one of the uses that has piqued the interest of city staffers is the deployment of the DAC to track political protesters and monitor large demonstrations.

I've only scratched the surface. There is too much to learn, and not enough time.

Take care, stay warm, sleep late.

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