Sunday, May 4, 2014

Stuff I'm reading

Everybody seems to be back from spring break, and things are cranking along.

  • Secrets From Belfast: How Boston College’s oral history of the Troubles fell victim to an international murder investigation
    The Belfast Project, as it came to be known, was unique in focus and design. But it is one of a growing number of oral histories undertaken at colleges across the United States. The field has expanded and professionalized in recent decades and now claims its own association, with about 900 members, along with several degree-granting programs. Its popularity is driven by the interest among contemporary historians in the lives of ordinary people and also by digital advances. Simply put, it has become much easier to conduct oral histories and to disseminate them.
  • With IPO Hopes Fading, Square And Box Face Reality Of Commodity Products
    It is the ultimate of Zero-World Problems: what do you do when your billion-dollar company is hemorrhaging cash, yet can’t be sold, can’t go public, and can’t raise funding? For founders facing the Series A crunch, such questions may seem irrelevant, perhaps even a tad obnoxious. Yet, in the tale of Square and Box lies a grave message for all of us about the ability of certain founders to defy gravity, even in the face of overwhelming evidence of the difficulty of building startups targeting commodity technology markets.
  • Apple wins $119 million in patent damages from Samsung, wanted $2.2 billion: mixed verdict
    So far, the only feature that Google and its Android device makers have not been able to work around without losing the benefit of the invention is rubberbanding -- after more than 50 months of Apple litigation against Android, this fact shows the limits of Apple's intellectual property.
  • The latest chapter for the self-driving car: mastering city street driving
    Jaywalking pedestrians. Cars lurching out of hidden driveways. Double-parked delivery trucks blocking your lane and your view. At a busy time of day, a typical city street can leave even experienced drivers sweaty-palmed and irritable. We all dream of a world in which city centers are freed of congestion from cars circling for parking (PDF) and have fewer intersections made dangerous by distracted drivers. That’s why over the last year we’ve shifted the focus of the Google self-driving car project onto mastering city street driving.
  • GitHub monoculture
    When a developer thinks, "I want to find the source for package XYZ," why do they go to the GitHub search bar instead of Google? Do people really so believe that GitHub is the only place for code that it has supplanted Google as the way to find things?
  • Reviewing Question: What's Important
    But finally, I think, it fits in with an issue that keeps coming up for me: reviewers are too arrogant. If they don't see why the problem is important, then the issue must be with the research or the writing; it couldn't be with their reading or understanding of the problem space.
  • Test-induced design damage
    While you're watching the presentation, listen to the justifications for the design. They're all about testing! It's about having faster tests, without touching the database, and it's about being able to test controller logic without dependent context.

    To achieve this, the simple controller is forbidden from talking directly to Active Record, now it has to go through the Repository. And the action itself is hollowed out to extract a Command object, which then has to call back into the controller through the Listener pattern.

    This is not better.

  • The blockchain story is bullshit
    There are some really cool properties that emerge from the blockchain system that I think are quite elegant. But there also exists manifestations of decentralized networks and technologies (Tor, Darknets, etc.) that are also interesting. Looking at the blockchain from a realist’s standpoint, it is not obvious that there is a need for a worse-performing database, that an unregulated oligarchy has disproportionate power over, that isn’t improved with administrator arbitration. It looks like a technology looking for a problem to solve, rather than a technology created to solve a problem.
  • Testing like the TSA
    The problem with calling out over-testing is that it’s hard to boil down to a catchy phrase. There’s nothing succinct like test-first, red-green, or other sexy terms that helped propel test-driven development to its rightful place on the center stage. Testing just what’s useful takes nuance, experience, and dozens of fine-grained heuristics.
  • When ideology trumps pragmatic design
    I am not claiming Apple is not long for this world. They make great kit. But at the same time, like all other companies, sometimes they mess up. And do so in profound ways. Ways that completely open the door to competition, and effectively exclude them from playing there. I hope it was unintentional. They need to rethink the no-PCIe card design.
  • Brainwashed by The Cult of the Quick
    The speed with which a CIRT and constituent take containment actions is the subject of hot debate in the security world. Some argue for fast containment in order to limit risk; others argue for slower containment, providing more time to learn about an adversary. The best answer is to contain incidents as quickly as possible, as long as the CIRT can scope the incident to the best of its capability.
  • Introducing Pinterest Secor
    Project Secor was born from the need to persist messages logged to Kafka to S3 for long-term storage. Data lost or corrupted at this stage isn’t recoverable so the greatest design objective for Secor is data integrity.

    Mechanisms built into Secor assure that as long as Kafka won’t drop messages before Secor can extract them (such as an aggressive retention policy), every single message will persist on S3.

  • Not Your Father's Java: An Opinionated Guide to Modern Java Development, Part 1
    This opinionated, introductory guide is intended for the Java programmer (all 9 million of them) who wants to learn how to write modern, lean Java, or for the Python/Ruby/Javascript programmer who’s heard (or may have experienced) bad things about Java and is curious to see how things have changed and how they can get Java’s awesome performance, flexibility and monitoring without sacrificing too much coolness.

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