Reader's Corner for January 2014

January 30, 2014

Academic torrents solves the problems of both sharing and downloading data by providing a distributed repository for datasets which is fast, scalable, and easy to use.

I support this.

Magnetic monopoles[mdash]particles that behave as isolated north or south magnetic poles[mdash]have been the subject of speculation since the first detailed observations of magnetism several hundred years ago. Numerous theoretical investigations and hitherto unsuccessful experimental searches have f...

This looks promising.

January 29, 2014

The clash between a McDonald’s in Queens and elderly Koreans who like congregating there offers lessons about aging communities’ needs.

NEW YORK (Reuters) - China's Lenovo Group is nearing a deal to buy Google Inc's Motorola handset division for close to $3 billion, according to people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, buying


from $13B to $3B? Anyone care to chime in?

Naoki Hiroshima is the creator of Cocoyon and a developer for Echofon. This post originally appeared on Naoki's Medium blog and has been republished with permission. I had a ...

Now you can build with LEGO® bricks using Google Maps as your baseplate. Imagine. Explore. Build online in Chrome.

Damnit, there goes my free time ...

January 27, 2014

Previously undisclosed documents detail a series of inquiries into high-ranking commanders’ misconduct.

The "Lewd e-mails" section is worrying...

This specification describes an optimized expression of the syntax of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). HTTP/2 enables a more efficient use of network resources and a reduced perception of latency by introducing header field compression and allowing multiple concurrent messages on the same con...

I like how "GTFO" is part of the HTTP2 spec

After much deliberation, the winners of the Grand C++ Error Explosion Competition are finally selected. There are two different award categories. The winners of the first category are those...

long live error messages!

January 26, 2014

Inequality in America is much more than just an income issue. It’s also about our dignity and access to justice.

"“Nothing was found inside of Mr. Eckert,” the police report notes. So after he woke up, he was released — after 13 hours, two rectal exams, three enemas, two X-rays and a colonoscopy.

The hospital ended up billing Eckert $6,000"

January 24, 2014

David S. Peck is getting a lot of emails. In a glitch possibly related to the massive Gmail outage underway right now, there's an odd bug in Google search..

No comment

Hello, reddit! We are the Google Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) team. Our [previous AMA](

So I just found out that this AMA was posted at almost exactly the same time that GMail went down ...

League of Legends is a game inspired by the Defense of the Ancients map for Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne developed and published by Riot Games.

+1 for the Scunthorpe problem.

Advertisers would pay for your transportation in the hope that you buy something.

What the ...

Notion of an 'event horizon', from which nothing can escape, is incompatible with quantum theory, physicist claims.

Exaggerated headline aside, this is cool.

January 22, 2014

The mysterious programAt the heart of any distributed system is an undistributed one. You've recently become the Director of Big Data at Large Corpus Systems, Inc. It's your first week on the job, and you've just received an urgent alert that your data pipeline has ground to a halt. After some pains...

It's live!

Find out how good the YouTube experience is with your ISP using the Google Video Streaming Quality Report.

[Alice]: Can you ask them to make a version for Pakistan where the "We can't do it alone" section shows nothing going through? :p

Mathematician Chris McKinlay hacked OKCupid to find the girl of his dreams. Emily Shur Chris McKinlay was folded into a cramped fifth-floor cubicle in UCLA’s math sciences building, lit by a single bulb and the glow from his monitor. ...

"On that early morning in June 2012, his compiler crunching out machine code in one window, his forlorn dating profile sitting idle in the other, it dawned on him that he was doing it wrong. He’d been approaching online matchmaking like any other user. Instead, he realized, he should be dating like a mathematician."

January 21, 2014

Robert McCrum tells the story of Orwell's feverish race to finish 1984, living in a remote Scottish farmhouse

"In 1946 Observer editor David Astor lent George Orwell a remote Scottish farmhouse in which to write his new book, Nineteen Eighty-Four. It became one of the most significant novels of the 20th century. Here, Robert McCrum tells the compelling story of Orwell's torturous stay on the island where the author, close to death and beset by creative demons, was engaged in a feverish race to finish the book"

This is from 2009, but still quite interesting.

Learn how foreign aid reduces overpopulation, dependency on aid for impoverished countries, and makes a sustainable future for our planet.

I encourage everyone to read this in its entirety. Hats off, Mr Gates.

Two relevant snippets:

"Many people think that development aid is a large part of rich countries’ budgets, which would mean a lot can be saved by cutting back. When pollsters ask Americans what share of the budget goes to aid, the average response is “25 percent.” When asked how much the government should spend, people tend to say “10 percent.” I suspect you would get similar results in the United Kingdom, Germany, and elsewhere.
Here are the actual numbers. For Norway, the most generous nation in the world, it’s less than 3 percent. For the United States, it’s less than 1 percent."

"There is a double standard at work here. I’ve heard people calling on the government to shut down some aid program if one dollar of corruption is found. On the other hand, four of the past seven governors of Illinois have gone to prison for corruption, and to my knowledge no one has demanded that Illinois schools be shut down or its highways closed."

A suspect was in custody after a reported shooting on the campus of Purdue University, posts on the school's official Twitter account said Tuesday afternoon.

DETROIT, Jan. 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Detroit-based Quicken Loans, the nation's fourth largest mortgage lender, has joined forces with Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway to offer a chance at a $1 billion prize for completing the perfect bracket in this March's men's college basketball championsh...


January 20, 2014

King has trademarked the word CANDY (and you're probably infringing)


January 19, 2014

We are letting money addiction drive too much of our society.

Worth reading.

A study of what happened with a Native American tribe shows a big effect on children.

January 17, 2014

Welcome to Operating Systems: Three Easy Pieces (now version 0.6 -- see BOOK NEWS for details), a free online (and available for purchase in printed form) operating systems book! The book is centered around three conceptual pieces that are fundamental to operating systems: virtualization,concurrency...

This is an amazing free book on OS.

(the professors got ticked off at how expensive books were and made this freely available)

Inspired by the Google acquisition of Nest for $3.2Bn, the Spark team set out to build an intelligent learning thermostat in less than 24 hours.

For the people who want to be able to set the temperature in their house in an intelligent manner; and not have to sign into google+ to do so.

You get access to the device, disassembly of its code, and a low-level debugger and assembler. We "run" the devices, you interact with them via a vanilla web interface.

Yay this looks fun.

(Facebook can't seem to get the title right, it's "Announcing The Matasano/Square CTF")

January 15, 2014

Entrepreneur: I plan to launch a better streaming music service. It leverages the data on what you and your friends currently listen to, combines that with the schedule of new music launches and acts that are touring in your city...

This paints a scary picture of the future in light of the recent ruling on net neutrality.

Just a year after securing $1 million in seed funding, Michigan-based FarmLogs is announcing a $4 million Series A led by Drive Capital. The company says it..

Jan 14 (Reuters) - Roughly 60,000 Silicon Valley workers wonclearance to pursue a lawsuit accusing Apple Inc,Google Inc and other companies of conspiring to drivedown pay by not poaching each other's

This will be interesting.

It's been over a year since our last Capture the Flag competition, and in the meanwhile we've fielded dozensofinquiries about when the next one's coming. The wait is almost over: CTF3 will be here a week from today.

I'm excited.

We look at the amazing features in ZFS and btrfs—and why you need them.

This is a pretty good resource for anyone looking to brush up on public speaking.

January 13, 2014

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA – JANUARY 13, 2014 — Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced today that it has entered into an agreement to buy Nest Labs, Inc. for $3.2 billion in cash.

So they also want to know what the temperature is in your house?

gherkin - a functional programming language and interpreter written in GNU Bash 4

gherkin is a functional programming language and interpreter written in GNU Bash 4 designed for extreme portability across *nix platforms.

Secret NSA eavesdropping is still in the news. Details about once secret programs continuetoleak. The Director of National Intelligence has recentlydeclassified additional information, and the President's Review Group has justreleased its report and recommendations.

This is an interesting viewpoint.

January 12, 2014

The World Health Organization plans to announce on Monday that India has officially eliminated polio, an achievement that could set the stage for stamping out the ancient scourge globally.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, health workers are afraid of participating in vaccination drives due to militant threats.

January 9, 2014

Lessons from working 6 months on a math problem (and failing)January 9, 2014I'm a coder, most certainly not a mathematician. But when I saw the 17x17 challenge in late 2011, I couldn't resist having a crack at it. And then each day, I couldn't resist spending another day on it. Long story short, des...

Some pretty important lessons.

Where hackers hangout to solve interesting Computer Science challenges

Interesting challenges for anyone who's looking for a dev job, or just wanting to hack on something for fun.

"The 80-year-old Amoo Hadji who lives in the village of Dezhgah (city of Farashband in Fars province of Iran), has not showered for almost 60 years. Amoo Hadji lives the most primitive life. His most valuable possession seems to be a three-inch steel pipe which he uses to smoke animal dung with."

"Happy Guys Finish Last: The Impact of Emotion Expressions on Sexual Attraction"

I've only skimmed the paper, but the data seems interesting..

January 7, 2014

"/bu|[rn]t|[coy]e|[mtg]a|j|iso|n[hl]|[ae]d|lev|sh|[lnd]i|[po]o|ls/ matches the last names of elected US presidents but not their opponents."

Peter Norvig solves the challenge in XKCD 1313.

Michelle Gomez is a genius at finding people who want to stay lost. But she'd never gone after anyone like Ryan Eugene Mullen before.

"The people Gomez chases understand that staying out of jail in the 21st century requires the ability to minimize their digital trail."

January 6, 2014

Bernie Kerik, Jack Abramoff and Dennis Kozlowski—three of the most high-profile men to be on the inside—smash the perception that prison life is anything like

"But what I really want to know about, beyond the food and the bonding and the living in a cramped cubicle where he barely had enough room to get dressed without bumping into someone else, is what surprised him, the man who knew jails better than anyone, about prison time. What was the most shocking thing about being on the other side of the bars?"

John Aldridge fell overboard in the middle of the night, 40 miles from shore, and the Coast Guard was looking in the wrong place. How did he survive?

"Now, quite literally, Sosinski had lost his best friend. All day, as he stared out at the vast rolling ocean, he felt helpless and guilty. If only he’d woken up a few hours earlier, he told himself, Aldridge would have taken his shift in the bunk, and right now they’d be pulling in lobster traps together. He tried to focus all his energy on directing the commercial boats in north-south tracking lines, trying to keep all their locations straight. But none of it felt like enough."

Who could be stealing all of Europe's horns? Meet the Rathkeale Rovers

"Although powdered rhino horn pound for pound is now worth more than cocaine or heroin, the prison terms for trafficking in it are a fraction of those for the equivalent weight of narcotics. The sentence for a first-time offender smuggling a kilo of heroin in the U.S. is a minimum of 10 years in prison; according to Grace, a first-time offender smuggling a kilo of horn would get off with less than a year, and more likely a fine. “It’s a high-profit, low-risk crime,” he says."

"When you win and win big, there isn't a better feeling in the world — you're on cloud fuckin' thirty-nine," Steve says as he turns on his large TV, plops down on the reclining section of his oversized leather couch and pulls a laptop close. "You want to pop bottles of champagne in the basemen...

"Anything other than that, I win," he recalls. "We lost five figures on that play; Vegas lost $100 million on that touchdown. I broke my computer after that. I threw it mostly because I had everything entered already because the chance of that happening were like one in a billion."

January 5, 2014

When I first read On Technical Entitlement by Tess Rinearson in mid-2012, it resonated with me so much that I emailed her. I've been meaning to expand that original email into an article for a while now, so here goes ...

Worth reading for folks in tech.

The following is actually pretty old but like the "China Does Not Have Any Men Suitable For Me" post, it occasionally is becomes hot again and is reposted across the Chinese internet. -- Fauna On T...

Interesting viewpoint.

As heart disease and stroke are beaten back, cancer vies to become the final killer.

So, now that it's 2014, it's time for a code question involving the number 2014. Your task is to make a program that prints the number 2014 without using any of the characters 0123456789 in your c...

The answers are cool.

January 4, 2014

This entry weighs in at a magical 4043 bytes (8086 nibbles, 28,301 bits). It manages to implement most of the hardware in a 1980’s era IBM-PC using a few hundred fewer bits than the total number of transistors used to implement the original 8086 CPU.

"The author hereby presents, for the delectation (?) of the judges, a portable PC emulator/VM written specifically for the IOCCC which runs DOS, Windows 3.0, Excel, MS Flight Simulator, AutoCAD, Lotus 1-2-3 …

In just 4043 bytes of C source, you get a complete mid-late 1980s-era IBM-compatible PC"

The Builders High What?s the last thing you built when you got that high? This is followed by another hour of editing and tweaking before I?ll publish the piece, and the high is always the same.

This is brilliant.

"This is not a reminder to over-analyze each moment and make them count. This is a reminder not to let a digital world full of others’ moments deceive you into devaluing your own. Their moments are infinite – yours are finite and precious – and this New Year I’m wondering how much we want to create versus consume."

January 2, 2014

And then, how we reverse engineered Netflix.

This is cool.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

"What mistake did all these very smart men make in common? They focused on what the technology could not do at the time rather than what it could do and might be able to do in the future. This is the most common mistake that naysayers make."