Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stuff I'm reading, heat wave edition

Close all the drapes, but leave the windows open all night long...

  • How Dr. Dre's Headphones Company Became a Billion-Dollar Business
    Beats headphones weren't tuned evenly, like the usual high-end headphones. They were tuned to make the music sound more dramatic. Iovine adds: "We wanted to recreate that excitement of being in the studio. That's why people listen." But skeptics also wondered why anybody would pay $200 for headphones when you got the earbuds for nothing. "I was like, 'Bad audio is free,' " Iovine says. "When you believe in something, the last thing you say to yourself is, Well, no one's doing this, so there must be no good reason to do it."
  • The Thirsty West: 10 Percent of California’s Water Goes to Almond Farming
    Farmers here are turning to groundwater to make up the difference—and that’s where things get worse. The shocking truth is, California is the last state that doesn’t regulate groundwater pumping, even as supplies are dwindling. That means the motto around here right now is, to borrow another Mother Jones headline: “Drill baby drill (for water, that is).”
  • Google Spain and the “Right to Be Forgotten”
    The CJEU’s embrace of a double standard with respect to the information (i.e., it was permissible for the newspaper to publish it in 1998 but not for Google to link to it in 2014) raises a difficult question about the law’s role in empowering people to sculpt their public information profiles to conform with an image of themselves that they want the world to see. There is no question in Mr. Costeja’s case that the information at issue was true or that it was appropriately publicized by the newspaper. Does damaging public information become private simply by virtue of the passage of time?
  • APIs can, for the time being, be copyrighted
    Anybody introducing a new API will have to answer the ‘copyright’ question: “Do you claim copyright on your API?” In practice a very very small percentage of APIs ever get copied/cloned, because most fail or the competition comes up with what they think is a better API.
  • Google Says Cloud Prices Will Follow Moore’s Law: Are We All Renters Now?
    When growth slows and the market is divided between major players a collusionary pricing phase will take over. Cloud customers are sticky customers. It's hard to move off a cloud. The need for higher margins to justify the cash flow drain during the customer acquisition phase will reverse the favorable trends we are seeing now.
  • Map homunculus
    Skyrim’s towns have very few people. Wowwiki says World of Warcraft’s Stormwind City has 200,000 residents. Walk around and you’ll see fewer than 100 buildings and people. Both games also shrink wilderness areas relative to cities. Stormwind City is as large as Elwynn Forest. Towns are much smaller than realistic towns would be; wilderness areas are extremely small compared to realistic counterparts.
  • Air Traffic Control System Failure & Complex System Testing
    Over time, the load keeps going up and the system moves further from the initial test conditions when it was designed, developed, and tested. This happens to many highly complex systems and some end up operating at an order of magnitude higher load or different load mix than originally anticipated – this is a common cause for complex system failure. We know that systems eventually go non-linear as the load increases so we need to constantly probe 10x beyond what possible today to ensure that there remains adequate headroom between possible operating modes and the system failure point.
  • Full Crash Dumps: They're just a few gigs
    Let’s assume a 1 gigabyte crash dump. For 15 cents you can:
    1. Store a retail server crash dump
    2. With a full call stack
    3. Matched to correct source files
    4. Plus all process memory
    5. That’s fully inspectable in a watch window
    You’d have to be crazy not to pay 15 cents for that! Programmers are well paid and the amount of time this saves is so enormous it should be one of the easiest decisions ever.

    There have been times in my career where I’d have gladly paid thousands of dollars to trap a crash in the debugger. Now that we live in The Year of the Cloud that knowledge can be stored and accessed for a mere 15 cents. This, my friends, is the future.

  • Getting Started With Breakpad
    Breakpad is a library and tool suite that allows you to distribute an application to users with compiler-provided debugging information removed, record crashes in compact "minidump" files, send them back to your server, and produce C and C++ stack traces from these minidumps. Breakpad can also write minidumps on request for programs that have not crashed.

    Breakpad is currently used by Google Chrome, Firefox, Google Picasa, Camino, Google Earth, and other projects.

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