Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Stuff to read, early July edition

The World Cup is 2/3 over; the days are getting shorter; summer is truly here.

At least there's still stuff to read on the Internet!

  • The geoglyph guardian: Alfredo Figueroa fights to protect ancient land art in southern California.
    Etched into the pale caliche soil, some are hundreds of feet long and depict human and animal shapes; others show intricate spiral and zigzag patterns. Only Peru's famed Nazca Lines are believed to hold a larger trove of land drawings.

    Most consider the geoglyphs a mystery. But Figueroa thinks he's deciphered their meaning: The glyphs, he says, interweave with the region's natural features to tell the creation story of the ancestors of the Chemehuevi and other Uto-Aztecan speaking peoples of the Southwest. Figueroa also believes that the lost homeland of the Aztecs – la cuna de Aztlan – is here, amid the ancient washes and sun-seared mountainsides of the Lower Colorado River. He's self-published a book about it: Ancient Footprints of the Colorado River: La Cuna de Aztlan.

  • Urban Giants
    "Between 1928 and 1932," the film explains, "Western Union and AT&T Long Lines built two of the most advanced telecommunications buildings in the world, at 60 Hudson Street and 32 Avenue of the Americas in Lower Manhattan. Nearly a century later, they remain among the world's finest Art Deco towers—and cornerstones of global communication. Urban Giants is a 9-minute filmic portrait of their birth and ongoing life, combining never-before-seen-construction footage, archival photographs and films, interviews with architectural and technology historians, and stunning contemporary cinematography."
  • Akamai's State of the Internet: Q1 2014 Report
    Akamai’s globally-distributed Intelligent Platform allows us to gather massive amounts of information on many metrics, including connection speeds, attack traffic, network connectivity/availability issues, and IPv6 growth/transition progress, as well as traffic patterns across leading Web properties and digital media providers. Each quarter, Akamai publishes the State of the Internet Report.
  • How to beat the CAP theorem
    In this post I'll show the design of a system that beats the CAP theorem by preventing the complexity it normally causes. But I won't stop there. The CAP theorem is a result about the degree to which data systems can be fault-tolerant to machine failure. Yet there's a form of fault-tolerance that's much more important than machine fault-tolerance: human fault-tolerance. If there's any certainty in software development, it's that developers aren't perfect and bugs will inevitably reach production. Our data systems must be resilient to buggy programs that write bad data, and the system I'm going to show is as human fault-tolerant as you can get.
  • Questioning the Lambda Architecture
    The Lambda Architecture is an approach to building stream processing applications on top of MapReduce and Storm or similar systems. This has proven to be a surprisingly popular idea, with a dedicated website and an upcoming book. Since I’ve been involved in building out the real-time data processing infrastructure at LinkedIn using Kafka and Samza, I often get asked about the Lambda Architecture. I thought I would describe my thoughts and experiences.
  • Important: Dramatic Performance Improvements for CL6
    Boot parameter nohz=off disables dynamic ticks. Dynamic ticks were introduced by Linux developers to keep computers a bit cooler, and to prevent battery drain in laptops. They have little benefit for hosting servers that have significant work load most of the time, and it looks like they conflict with our CPU scheduler.
  • Pitfalls for Pollyannas
    How serious are these errors? Of course, everybody overrates their own products to some extent; it would be hard to maintain enthusiasm otherwise. Still, the more extreme forms of misjudgment are fraught with danger.
  • Eigenmorality
    Ah, I thought—this is precisely where linear algebra can come to the rescue! Just like in CLEVER or PageRank, we can begin by giving everyone in the community an equal number of “morality starting credits.” Then we can apply an iterative update rule, where each person A can gain morality credits by cooperating with each other person B, and A gains more credits the more credits B has already. We apply the rule over and over, until the number of morality credits per person converges to an equilibrium. (Or, of course, we can shortcut the process by simply finding the principal eigenvector of the “cooperation matrix,” using whatever algorithm we like.) We then have our objective measure of morality for each individual, solving a 2400-year-old open problem in philosophy.

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