Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Read. Learn. Repeat.

At least, try to.

  • Gone In Six Characters: Short URLs Considered Harmful for Cloud Services
    URL shorteners such as bit.ly and goo.gl perform a straightforward task: they turn long URLs into short ones, consisting of a domain name followed by a 5-, 6-, or 7-character token. This simple convenience feature turns out to have an unintended consequence. The tokens are so short that the entire set of URLs can be scanned by brute force. The actual, long URLs are thus effectively public and can be discovered by anyone with a little patience and a few machines at her disposal.

    Today, we are releasing our study, 18 months in the making, of what URL shortening means for the security and privacy of cloud services. We did not perform a comprehensive scan of all short URLs (as our analysis shows, such a scan would have been within the capabilities of a more powerful adversary), but we sampled enough to discover interesting information and draw important conclusions.

  • Introducing Facebook's new terrestrial connectivity systems — Terragraph and Project ARIES
    Facebook's Connectivity Lab is working on a range of new technology solutions to help connect the unconnected and improve the experience of the underserved. Today we announced two new terrestrial systems focused on improving the speed, efficiency, and quality of internet connectivity around the world — Terragraph and Project ARIES (Antenna Radio Integration for Efficiency in Spectrum).
  • Security Protocols 2016
    I’m at the 24th security protocols workshop in Brno (no, not Borneo, as a friend misheard it, but in the Czech republic; a two-hour flight rather than a twenty-hour one).
  • The Twelve-Factor App
    This document synthesizes all of our experience and observations on a wide variety of software-as-a-service apps in the wild. It is a triangulation on ideal practices for app development, paying particular attention to the dynamics of the organic growth of an app over time, the dynamics of collaboration between developers working on the app’s codebase, and avoiding the cost of software erosion.

    Our motivation is to raise awareness of some systemic problems we’ve seen in modern application development, to provide a shared vocabulary for discussing those problems, and to offer a set of broad conceptual solutions to those problems with accompanying terminology. The format is inspired by Martin Fowler’s books Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture and Refactoring.

  • Introducing Ignition: The new CoreOS machine provisioning utility
    Ignition is a new machine provisioning utility designed to solve the same problems as coreos-cloudinit while adding a host of new capabilities with clearer semantics. At the the most basic level, Ignition is a tool for manipulating disks during early boot. This includes partitioning disks, formatting partitions, writing files, and configuring users.
  • Here's The Programming Game You Never Asked For
    I'm thinking about this because I believe there's a strong connection between programming games and being a talented software engineer. It's that essential sense of play, the idea that you're experimenting with this stuff because you enjoy it, and you bend it to your will out of the sheer joy of creation more than anything else.
  • Earthquake mitigation at Oakland City Center
    During a moderate-to-major event, say magnitude 5-1/2 or larger, the Clorox building will shimmy back and forth, and so will the buried BART station. Because of their different sizes and dimensions, they won’t move in unison. Without the gasket in the pavement, the tiles in the rigid pavement will buckle and shatter and fly in all directions, leaving one more mess to clean up that will probably fester for years.

    The gasket promises to prevent that. If you’re here when the next sizeable earthquake hits, and you have the presence of mind (not guaranteed!), watch it work. The free side of the steel ribbon should slide over the ground while the gasket cushions the two sides of the cut beneath it.

  • Collapse of kelp forest imperils North Coast ocean ecosystem
    Scientists blame the current situation on what some have called “a perfect storm” of large-scale environmental impacts dating back to 2011, when a harmful algal bloom off the Sonoma Coast released toxins that killed large numbers of red abalone and took a toll on other invertebrates.

    In 2013, an eruption of sea star wasting disease along the West Coast eliminated vast quantities of starfish, affecting about 20 species to varying degrees, including at least two with pivotal roles in the food web.

    Starfish are the primary predators of purple urchins, particularly in areas like Northern California, where sea otters — another significant urchin eater — have not rebounded as they have begun to do elsewhere on the coast.

    Without such predators to keep them in check, the density of purple urchins on the North Coast reportedly now is more than 60 times that observed in the past, Catton said.

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