Reader's Corner for June 2014

June 30, 2014

The concept is called induced demand, which is economist-speak for when increasing the supply of something (like roads) makes people want that thing even more. Though some traffic engineers made note of this phenomenon at least as early as the 1960s, it is only in recent years that social scientists…

non-intuitive and interesting results.

We cook our food using technology invented to bake bricks. We can do a lot better

This is a really good article and discussion on oven technology.

The introduction to Reactive Programming you've been missing - Gist is a simple way to share snippets of text and code with others.

This is a really good introduction to (Functional) Reactive Programming.

Not long after the security firm’s top manager in Iraq told a State Department investigator “that he could kill” him, the inquiry was abandoned. Weeks later, the firm’s guards killed 17 civilians in Iraq.

"Just weeks before Blackwater guards fatally shot 17 civilians at Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, the State Department began investigating the security contractor’s operations in Iraq. But the inquiry was abandoned after Blackwater’s top manager there issued a threat: “that he could kill” the government’s chief investigator and “no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq,” according to department reports."

It's sad that investigative journalism like this is getting rarer and rarer these days.

It also doesn't help that Risen, a critically lauded Pulitzer prize winning journalist, is facing jail time for not disclosing his sources for his book.

We are excited to officially announce the open source release of our REST framework rest! rest is a set of packages used to write, document, and use RESTful applications. You write your API in Haskell using rest

This is really great.

A review of the science behind problem solving, how it functions in the brain and how we can do it better.

This is a good read.

I explore why I believe the UK system of grading to be more effective than the US system, leading to a higher quality of education and a more valuable degree.

This is a really interesting read.

June 29, 2014

Goat Simulator is the latest in goat simulation technology, bringing next-gen goat simulation to YOU. You no longer have to fantasize about being a goat, your dreams have finally come true! WASD to write history.

I think I should get this just because they released a linux version...

June 28, 2014

California is an earthly paradise. Yet there is something badly broken about the Golden State. At its best, California is America’s America, where the young and adventurous go for a fresh start. The trouble is that housing in much of California has become so expensive that the young and adventurous.…

This rings true.

The C and C++ languages are notorious for the very large section of the map labeled here be dragons, or more formally, undefined behavior.

This is really cool. As well as the two linked article series on undefined beaviour in C/C++

June 27, 2014

Awesome Vim plugins from across the universe

These are awesome.

June 26, 2014

Elizabeth Holmes founded her revolutionary blood diagnostics company, Theranos, when she was 19. It’s now worth more than $9 billion, and poised to change health care.

This is highly impressive.

June 24, 2014

That's right: Officers threw a flashbang grenade in my son's crib -- and left a hole in his chest. It gets worse

I don't even ...

June 23, 2014

A behind-the-scenes report from the most ageist place in America: Silicon Valley.

This is a gloomy take on things.

June 22, 2014

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For everyone with small bladders.

"Each movie has a list of carefully selected Peetimes. We try to find 3-5 minute long scenes that don’t have crucial plot twists, or LOL moments, or exciting action."

The worst kept secret is that employees are making less on average every year. There are millions of reasons for this, but we’re going to focus on one that we can control. Staying employed at the same company for over 2 years on average is going to make you earn [...]


These days I write more than I code, but one of the things I miss about programming is the coder’s high: those times when, for hours on end, I would lock my vision straight at the computer screen, trance out, and become a human-machine hybrid zipping through the virtual architecture...

This rings quite true.

June 21, 2014

More than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001, showing the potential dangers of throwing open U.S. skies to drone traffic, according to a year-long Washington Post investigation.

This is quite scary.

Decentralization, n. The security assumption that a nineteen year old in Hangzhou and someone who is maybe in the UK and maybe not have not yet decided to collude with each other. There has been a large amount of ruckus in the past week about the issue of mining centralization in the Bitcoin network…

This is really really well written and worth reading. Relates to bitcoin mining and the recent 51% attack.

This sounds pseudosciency but it's interesting.

Cgrep is a grep tool suitable for searching in large code repositories. It supports 30 programming languages and searches that go beyond the simple pattern matching. It enables context-aware filtering and semantic searches through wildcard combinators.

Semantic code searches - this seems really useful. Can't wait to use it.

Belkasoft - forensic and system software tools. Instant Messengers, Browsers, Mailboxes, Pictures and Videos search, analysis and extraction. Find Internet Evidence quickly!

SSD's seem dangerous. Article is actually titled

"Why SSD Drives Destroy Court Evidence, and What Can Be Done About It"

Videogrep is a python script that searches through dialog in videos and then cuts together a new video based on what it finds. Basically, it's a command-line "supercut" generator. The code is here ...

I find this code to be awesome.

June 19, 2014

All hail lord GabeN, destroyer of savings.

(damn sale)

Stream music from leading services like Rhapsody and it won’t count towards your 4G LTE data plan. Free lifetime Rhapsody music and more.

So much for net neutrality.

Before Risk, before Dungeons & Dragons, before Magic: The Gathering, there was Diplomacy. One writer enters international competition to play the world-conquering game that redefines what it me...

This is an amazing read.

Even among the top apps found on Google Play, researchers have found a crucial security flaw that could compromise user data.


June 18, 2014

Yesterday, some engineers at Google released FlatBuffers, a new serialization protocol and library with similar design principles to Cap’n Proto. Also, a few months back, Real Logic released Simple Binary Encoding, another protocol and library of this nature.

This is a really good analysis.

June 17, 2014

The poor are under a deadline that never lifts.

This is well worth reading.

June 16, 2014

These imaginary numbers?called complex numbers when combined with our ordinary real numbers?are

These illustrations are amazing.

By now you have probably already read the leaked Innovation Report from The New York Times. And if you haven't, you should. It provides a great overview of the challenges and thinking that are happening in the industry, not just for The New York Times, but for every newspaper and magazine.

Interesting perspective.

Through an unusual arrangement with Arizona State University, the company will pay for its workers to earn college degrees.

This is a great move.

httpie - HTTPie is a command line HTTP client — a human-friendly cURL replacement.

Time to install this on every machine I use.

There's an increasing about of evidence to suggest that certain manufacturers are swapping out SSD hardware behind-the-scenes, and that products are suffering from it. It wouldn't be acceptable in other markets, and it's not acceptable here.

WTF, Kingston?

It’s a huge surprise, and shows up in the most unlikely of places!

"For this galaxy, there must be a central black hole with a staggering 17 billion Solar masses, or a whopping 14% of the stellar mass of the galaxy! This is an unprecedented number; not only is this by far the most massive black hole we’ve ever found, but this is also the largest ratio of a black-hole-to-host-galaxy mass we’ve ever seen!"

Some things I've learned. - Morgan Housel - Financials

This is full of great advice.

jq is a lightweight and flexible command-line JSON processor. jq is written in portable C, and it has zero runtime dependencies.

This tool is really useful.

Nathan Myhrvold, the Mad Hatter of modernist cooking, invited the movement’s leading chef, Ferran Adrià, over for a 50-course, lab-prepared meal. It was a lot to digest, sure, but what does a feast like this mean for the future of eating?

"After 45 courses, I was lowing like a cow. In my food- and wine-altered state, I began to meditate on the notion of death by senseless beauty."

Thousands of San Franciscans have transformed their homes into impromptu inns using Airbnb, the website that lets people rent rooms or houses to travelers.

Interesting data.

June 12, 2014

A week spent playing NSA reveals just how much data we leak online.

This is scary.

June 10, 2014

Gustl Mollath was put in a psychiatric unit for claiming his wife was involved in money-laundering at the Bavarian bank. But seven years on evidence has emerged that could set him free

"A German man committed to a high-security psychiatric hospital after being accused of fabricating a story of money-laundering activities at a major bank is to have his case reviewed after evidence has emerged proving the validity of his claims."

If you haven’t read about it yet, “Eugene Goostman” is a chatbot that’s being heavily promoted by the University of Reading’s Kevin Warwick, for fooling 33% of judges in a recent Turing Test competition into thinking it was human, and thereby supposedly becoming “the first program to pass the Turing…

Scott Aaronson on the chat bot everyone seems to like.

So, this weekend's news in the tech world was flooded with a "story" about how a "chatbot" passed the Turing Test for "the first time," with lots of publications buying every point in the story and talking about what...

Worth reading.

On Tuesday Google will offer tools that can accommodate Docker containers on the company’s cloud service, Google App Engine and Google Compute Engine, and it will release additional software that can juggle containers across all sorts of outside services and machines as well.

"So many others are saying the same thing. But they’re not Eric Brewer."

June 8, 2014

PyParallel: How we removed the GIL and exploited all cores

This is really interesting (and enlightening with regards to the great windows async APIs)

June 7, 2014

Reader Paul Kim pointed out an entry on Michael Tsai's blog about making dispatch_once fast. While the comment in the dispatch_once source code is fascinating and informative, it doesn't quite delve into the detail that some would like to see. Since this is one of my favorite hacks, for today's arti…

This is really cool and really detailed. Hardware for the win.

June 6, 2014

Yesterday I asked a prominent VC a question: "Why is it that, despite the fact that so many successful startup ideas come from academic research, on the investment side there doesn't seem to be anyone vetting companies on the basis...

This is really well put.

29,215 lines of Python to OCaml (learning OCaml along the way). command (325 lines of OCaml) and uses Lwt rather than its own asynchronous framework (483 lines of Python).

Long and great writeup. The series of linked articles is well worth reading as well.

Convert your website into Android and iOS apps for free.

This is cool.

Dash is an API Documentation Browser and Code Snippet Manager. Dash searches offline documentation of 150+ APIs and stores snippets of code. You can also generate your own documentation sets.

Why had I not heard of this before?!

I sold my startup for $25.5 million on Monday just after 2:23 p.m. Pacific Time. Selling the company, Perfect Audience, to Marin Software took six months of writing carefully worded emails, meeting secretly in cafés, and pacing around the streets of San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood after dark. In t…

"t was agreed that after weeks of due diligence, the seemingly 14,213 closing conditions had finally been met. Marin’s lawyers declared the deal “closed,” everyone dropped off the conference call, and my company officially belonged to someone else."

At a tech conference in Berlin, a developer compared a software plug-in framework to his girlfriend, saying she "complains, interrupts" and "doesn't play well with others."

I have no words for this.

Visit the post for more.

This is an amazing writeup on business / marketing / lean software. Worth reading by everyone.

In a recent post, Andreas declared his love for the programming language FORTRAN. He concluded his post with the question “Can a functional language do this as well?”, where he was referring to the efficiency of his FORTRAN solution for the goats, wolves and lion problem. He followed it up with anot…

chalo chalo c++ likho.

Earlier, Verizon sent Netflix a letter demanding the streaming service cease and desist false claims and unfair business practices on Thursday.

"This is about consumers not getting what they paid for from their broadband provider,'' Netflix spokesman [Alice] Friedland said. "We are trying to provide more transparency, just like we do with the ISP Speed Index, and Verizon is trying to shut down that discussion."

"This website uses advanced neuroscience to determine your interests."

This is the dirt it had on me (in order):


June 5, 2014

I do not want to be killed by a 0day in my pacemaker...

June 4, 2014

In today's business world, disruption is a constant force that never lets up. At the annual WIRED Business Conference: Disruptive by Design, we celebrate the creative power of bold new ideas and the people that make them happen. See the event >

This is quite cool.

Premature hype over gravitational waves highlights gaping holes in models for the origins and evolution of the Universe, argues Paul Steinhardt.

“The inflationary paradigm is fundamentally untestable, and hence scientifically meaningless.”

David Graeber explains the long con the rich use to defeat labor, destroy the creative class, and demean your job

"Suddenly it became possible to see that if there’s a rule, it’s that the more obviously your work benefits others, the less you’re paid for it. CEOs and financial consultants that are actually making other people’s lives worse were paid millions, useless paper-pushers got handsomely compensated, people fulfilling obviously useful functions like taking care of the sick or teaching children or repairing broken heating systems or picking vegetables were the least rewarded."

June 3, 2014

An Indian man who made his career exposing miracles and the feats of holy men as myths is in exile in Helsinki afraid of jail and attacks if he returns home.

Here’s a simple fact with an uncertain explanation: historically, hurricanes with female names have killed more people than those with male ones. Kiju Jung from the University of Illinois at Urbana...

This is an interesting read.

June 2, 2014

In January, Daniel Dobson was two months into a new job that allowed him the opportunity to travel overseas and watch live sports. It had a downside, though: It got him arrested in an incident that...

"Dobson’s job was to sit courtside at the Australian Open in Melbourne and use his cellphone to transmit the outcome of each point of the match he was watching. The faster he worked, the greater the edge his employers at Sporting Data Ltd. would have in the betting market."

The United States Chess Federation

"The following is our June 2014 Chess Life cover story. Normally this would be behind our pay wall, but we feel this article about combating cheating in chess carries international importance. "

This is really well written, and a great analysis.

In 1963 John Kennedy Toole wrote “A Confederacy of Dunces”. It was different to a conventional novel.

“When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him.”

Communications purport to show series of payments to officials by Mohamed bin Hammam, who was Fifa's member for Qatar

"The Fifa inspection team ranked Qatar as the only "high-risk" option overall, yet it was still chosen by 14 of the 22 voting members of the executive committee in December 2010. The Fifa president said it was now "probable" that it would be played in the winter rather than the summer due to the heat. Blatter insisted, however, that Qatar, which spent huge sums on ambassadors and development programmes, had not "bought" the World Cup."

Badrish Chandramouli and Jonathan Goldstein, in ACM SIGMOD International Conference on Management of Data (SIGMOD 2014), ACM SIGMOD [June 2014]

Improvements in sorting algorithms. this is kind of cool.

June 1, 2014

Write a program that seemingly adds the numbers 2 and 2 and outputs 5. This is an underhanded contest. Your program cannot output any errors. Input is optional.

The Java answer...

Learning the lesson of vi

This is a great perspective.

This is great, both from a golang perspective and an educational perspective.

An investigative report by FIFA, obtained by The New York Times, found that a match-rigging syndicate and its referees conspired to fix global soccer exhibition matches and exploit them for betting purposes.

"South Africa won, 1-0. In Mr. Perumal’s memoir, he wrote that the fixers had wanted three goals in the match, and that $1 million “went up in smoke.” He also wrote that Mr. Goddard was “a big troublemaker.”

“This time, you really have gone too far and, you know, we’re going to eliminate you,” he said, according to Mr. Goddard. Mr. Perumal later bragged about the episode, the report said. But in his memoir he said that he had threatened only to sue Mr. Goddard for breach of contract, not kill him."

Years ago David Cheriton at Stanford taught me something that seemed very obvious at the time -- that if you have a network link with low bandwidth then it's an easy matter of putting several in parallel to make a combined link with higher bandwidth, but if you have a network link with bad latency t…

This is a really interesting read.

Universities come with a mythical mission. But they don't fulfil it.

"I don't believe that we can actually do much about this. There are always those who go on to higher education seeking what is actually a vocational education: be it science, engineering, or math students, they are simply seeking a means to a job. Nevertheless, universities remain one of the only places where young people will encounter new ideas. This creates a tension: should we give in to the pressure, and become vocational training centers? After all that is what the majority of students, parents, employers, and politicians want."

The large conference room full of ESPN executives was silent as Jerry Gepner and I finished presenting a simulation of a yellow, electronic first down line for football telecasts in May 1998. Finally, the silence was broken.

This is a story of some really impressive computer vision work.