Reader's Corner for February 2014

February 28, 2014

Left to right: Hugh Huxley, John Kendrew, Max Perutz, Francis Crick, Fred Sanger, Sydney Brenner.

I think every person with an interest in academia should read this. There's so much in there that I can't even decide what to pick out to quote.

"SB: The thing is to have no discipline at all. Biology got its main success by the importation of physicists that came into the field not knowing any biology and I think today that’s very important.

I strongly believe that the only way to encourage innovation is to give it to the young. The young have a great advantage in that they are ignorant. Because I think ignorance in science is very important. If you’re like me and you know too much you can’t try new things. I always work in fields of which I’m totally ignorant."

Meet the engineers who code Facebook

This is an interesting analysis, and they link to the paper for people who want the details.

James Bond-style attack underscores growing vulnerability of embedded software.


At this time last year, the TLS world was mostly running on RC4-SHA and AES-CBC. The Lucky 13 attack against CBC in TLS had just been published and I had spent most of January writing patches for OpenSSL and NSS to implement constant-time CBC decoding. The RC4 biases paper is still a couple of week…

This is an interesting read.

February 27, 2014

"Fashions in Shaving and Trimming of the Beard: The men of the Illustrated London News, 1842-1972:

This research note presents sample-derived measures of comparative frequencies over time (1842-1972) for changing modes in men's facial barbering."

OPPO is a global technology brand, with a long history of serving customers in North America, Europe and Asia.

Why did I not hear of this earlier? The rear touch sounds perfect.

I've finally put up search for the links I've shared on facebook (mostly for personal use)

My favorite clips of Red Dwarf in under 10 minutes.

Ah, Red Dwarf, what would we do without ye.

February 26, 2014

tcalc - C++ compile-time Prolog interpreter



C++ Templates are Turing Complete. It means that any computation expressible by
a computer program can be computed, in some form, by a template metaprogram."

Rick Reed in an upcoming talk in March titled That's 'Billion' with a 'B': Scaling to the next ...

This is a really interesting technical analysis. I can't wait for the talk in March.

Kim Scott had one thing to do that day. She was going to price her product. It was the year 2000, she was the founder and CEO of Juice Software, and she had blocked off her whole morning to make this decision. The moment she stepped off the elevator, she was met by co-worker after co-worker who need...

This is absolute gold. Well worth reading.

February 23, 2014

Paid peering agreement will improve Netflix quality for Comcast subscribers.

And thus begins the downfall of net neutrality.

Mark Seal on the alleged affair that helped end Rupert Murdoch’s third marriage.

"Seduced and Abandoned

The 14-year marriage of Rupert Murdoch and Wendi Deng ended abruptly last year, after the News Corp. chairman came to believe his third wife had been romantically involved with a former head of state and with a prominent Silicon Valley executive. Talking to friends of the couple’s, [Alice] Seal reports on the shifting power dynamics in the Murdoch household as Deng’s ambitions changed, and tackles the question now being debated: Who blindsided whom?"

[former head of state] = [Bob] Blair
[prominent Silicon Valley executive] = Eric Schmidt

A yearlong investigation of Greek houses reveals their endemic, lurid, and sometimes tragic problems—and a sophisticated system for shifting the blame.

"One warm spring night in 2011, a young man named Travis [Alice] stood on the back deck of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity house at Marshall University, in West Virginia, and was struck by what seemed to him—under the influence of powerful inebriants, not least among them the clear ether of youth itself—to be an excellent idea: he would shove a bottle rocket up his ass and blast it into the sweet night air. And perhaps it was an excellent idea. What was not an excellent idea, however, was to misjudge the relative tightness of a 20-year-old sphincter and the propulsive reliability of a 20-cent bottle rocket. What followed ignition was not the bright report of a successful blastoff, but the muffled thud of fire in the hole."

Hilarious intro aside, this article addresses a very serious problem and presents a very interesting look into college and fraternity life.

How a 70-year-old Finnish goalie coach is transforming a global sport

I am not a fan of hockey, but this is mesmerizing.

"For the past quarter century, Canadians like me have been especially smug about what seemed to be an endless supply of elite goaltenders from Quebec. Yet at the same moment that Finland’s goalies have glided so effortlessly onto hockey’s biggest stages, a crisis of confidence has begun to emerge in Canada.


A bunch of half-cocked theories have emerged to explain how these Finnish goaltenders came to be. People I asked would cite everything from the welfare state to the stoic national character. Then I began to hear too about Urpo Ylönen, the old man who lived on Finland’s southwestern coast. People who knew hockey and Finland spoke of him the way Jedis would talk about Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi. That they referred to him simply as Upi only added to the mystique."

Jeff Passan returns to Lockerbie, only this time to tell a story of sporting excellence rather than tragedy. Continue reading →

This is moving.

We have very nice lawyers! The team over at Wilmer Hale have been very helpful to us, and it's been nothing but a pleasant experience for us. As is typically the case for lawyers, we need to pay them from time to time. Recently, they had helped us with a Blue Sky filing. Appropriately, while remitti...

"In conclusion, I love my country and like our lawyers and hate our bank, like all good Americans. I just wish it were easier to do so without being stuck in an absurd and unaccountable situation with an unsatisfying resolution."

February 22, 2014

Yesterday, Apple pushed a rather spooky security update for iOS that suggested that something was horribly wrong with SSL/TLS in iOS but gave no details. Since the answer is at the top of the Hacker News thread, I guess the cat's out of the bag already and we're into the misinformation-quashing stag...

Words fail me...

February 21, 2014

This is a really good intro to things.

February 19, 2014

Facebook is purchasing messaging giant WhatsApp for $16B in cash and stock, according to a regulatory filing. The deal is being cut for $12B in Facebook..

[bleep] [bleep]-ing [bleep]

[bleep] [bleep] [bleep] [bleep] [bleep] [bleep] [bleep] [bleep]

Google just announced that it's invited cities in nine metro areas across the US to explore "what it would take" to bring its Google Fiber gigabit internet service to more locations. "People are...


February 16, 2014

Really long, really captivating, and really sad at the same time.

(also facebook this is not a 404)

February 13, 2014

or How I Ended Up in Solitary After Calling 911 for Help 

Just like the earlier link, this is also crazy.

Facebook's latest news, announcements and media resources

These stats are pretty interesting. Also, I find it funny that I live about halfway between Man Francisco and Man Jose.

"Most single males per single female:

1. San Francisco, CA
2. San Jose, CA
3. Seattle, WA
4. Salt Lake City, UT
5. San Diego, CA"

Approximately one hour after Justin Carter posted a sarcastic comment on a Facebook thread, his life began to ­unravel. The first reaction occurred behind the scenes, in another country. The 18-y...

This be crazy.

Facebook is the latest tech giant to shuttle its employees to work by skimming them across the bay in a 30-person catamaran with Wi-Fi, coffee and snacks. The social network company launched free w...

*no comment*

MEGA MERGER: Comcast to buy Time Warner...

I think this is a bad thing for consumers.

February 12, 2014

Did you ever wonder, when you were a kid, whether your inane "summer camp" actually had some kind of elaborate hidden purpose—say, it was all a science experime

"The Robbers Cave Experiment illustrates the psychology of hunter-gatherer bands, echoed through time, as perfectly as any experiment ever devised by social science.

Any resemblance to modern politics is just your imagination."

Paris-based graphic designer Yann Pineill’s palindromic short film, Symmetry, is impressive because it presents a mirrored narrative that progresses organically whether watched from the beginning, from the middle, or reversed from the end.

I do not usually appreciate artistic things (I am an uncultured man) but I thoroughly enjoyed this work of art.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The family of an exchange student from Pakistan who has been comatose since a November crash is trying to prevent a Minnesota hospital from sending him back to his home country. Muhammad Shahzaib Bajwa, 20, was spending a se...

I have no words for this. The world needs universal healthcare, stat.

IBM's latest $1 billion "rebalancing," as described by its CFO, is underway. And the first country hit is India, based on reports from Blue Blue workers there. The so-called "Resource Action" struck in the country where IBM reportedly employs its greatest number of workers. One employee describes th...


This is amazing for people looking to improve their English.

The Chocolate Garage is brimming with my carefully curated selection of the best bean-to-bar chocolate from around the world.

I find most normal chocolate too sweet for my tastes; this was hands down the best stuff I've had so far. The founder gave a talk today at SRI, along with free chocolate samples (which is why everyone attended, of course)

February 11, 2014

Find out how many of your Facebook friends have put a ring on it and what their relationships say about your own timing in the love department.

I'm surprised that I only have 21 married friends. (ones that have their relationship status set)

I'm glad that their median age is 27.3 so I can tell mom I should wait at least 5 years.

Mbox is a lightweight sandboxing mechanism that any user can use without special privileges in commodity operating systems.

This is really really cool.

February 10, 2014

The days of sharing source code by email and thumb drives are long gone. Using GitHub, it's a piece of cake to keep your team up to date with the latest changes to your code. Thanks to Git’s powerful merge features, you don't even have to worry about overwriting someone else’s changes.

Hats off, Github. Hats off.

February 8, 2014

This is a collection of links that I've shared over the years (along with my comments where present), as an easily browsable archive.

All the links I've ever posted on Facebook, finally up. Time to get around to organizing them.

February 6, 2014

Everyone in the games industry is trying to figure out what "the people" want.

February 5, 2014

Name your price and help support charity! Pay what you want for tons of great strategy games from Sid Meier.

Holy hell they even have Civilization V.

From the Believer magazine.

"We play a demographic menagerie: young jocks with ACL injuries and business executives nursing coke habits. STD Grandma has just cheated on her husband of forty years and has a case of gonorrhea to show for it. She hides behind her shame like a veil, and her med student is supposed to part the curtain. If he’s asking the right questions, she’ll have a simulated crying breakdown halfway through the encounter."

Ten years ago, 90 million people watching Super Bowl XXXVIII saw Janet Jackson's breast for nine-sixteenths of a second. Our culture would never be the same.

"Sitting in his office at the NCTA's sleek modern building in DC, he does not look like a man who wants to spend his time policing boobs on TV. He does not sound like a man who wants to spend his time policing boobs on TV. Since leaving the FCC in 2005, he has declined almost every interview request to talk about boobs on TV. But 10 years later, Powell is finally ready to admit that he never wanted to police boobs on TV."

In today’s hyperconnected world, many developing countries find that their most lucrative export is people. The foreign workers and their families must grapple with an inevitable trade-off: emotional loss for material gain.

"The first salary was from a local job selling sporty shoes. Teresa, just out of high school, could not afford to replace the house’s wooden walls with sturdier stone. But she could buy a string of colored lights. She nailed them up on her house in the shape of a Christmas tree. “I did it myself,” she said. “And I went out in front, and the light was there, and I said, I can do this.”

That was the night that Teresa decided she was tough enough for Abroad."

Looking back on 10 years of playing fast and loose with your most embarrassing and private moments.

Deleting things should, you know, actually delete them.

February 3, 2014

Insiders say that Dell's anticipated layoff programme will begin this week, with roughly 15,000 employees due for the chop.


February 2, 2014

I don't like writing negative articles that don't include a solution to the problem but, in this case, there is no solution. The state of in-app purchases has now reached a level where we have completely lost it. Not only has the gaming industry shot itself in the foot, hacked off their other foot,…

I fully agree with this. The games industry is in a bind when it comes to mobile, IMHO.

February 1, 2014

A crossword created from the leaked password hints.

I am addicted...

Last night, YouTube suggested a video for me. It was a raw clip from a news helicopter filming a police chase in Kansas City, Missouri. I quickly noticed a weird interference in the audio, especially the left channel, and thought it must be caused by the chopper's engine. I turned up the volume and…

This is really impressive.