Reader's Corner for June 2016

June 30, 2016

Hunkered down in the sub-basement of the Norman W. Church Laboratory for Chemical Biology, underneath a campus humming with quantum teleportation devices, gravity wave detectors and neural prosthetics, Rick Gerhart chipped away at a broken flask.

I wonder why they didn't prioritize having him train someone else.

This is the text version of remarks I gave on June 26, 2016, at a panel on the Moral Economy of Tech at the SASE conference in Berkeley. The other panel participants were Kieran Healy, Stuart Russell and AnnaLee Saxenian.

"We should not listen to people who promise to make Mars safe for human habitation, until we have seen them make Oakland safe for human habitation. We should be skeptical of promises to revolutionize transportation from people who can't fix BART, or have never taken BART. And if Google offers to make us immortal, we should check first to make sure we'll have someplace to live."

Having colonized the South Lake Union neighborhood, Seattle's largest private employer is building three giant spheres filled with trees—the better to connect employees with nature.

Sharp increases in rents along with stagnant incomes over the past five years have helped create a dire situation for many of the country's renters. A new report shows how those trends have actually been playing out for more than five decades.

June 29, 2016

We all know that exercise is important for a strong and healthy body. Less appreciated is that exercise seems also to be important for a strong and healthy mind, boosting memory and learning, while…

"At least in this case, traditional journals have shown – well, let’s just say that we still have a long way to go in improving replicability in psychological sciences. For now, I have uploaded a pre-print of the paper on OSF and on researchgate. On researchgate, the article has over 200 views, suggesting that there is some interest in this theory; the finding that the key study is not replicable seems relevant to researchers. "

June 28, 2016

A gun and bomb attack on Istanbul's Ataturk international airport kills at least 10 people and injures 20, with reports that suicide bombers were used.

Uh oh

Google's monolithic repository provides a common source of truth for tens of thousands of developers around the world.

This is a super interesting read

June 26, 2016

Since the 2008 financial crisis, private equity firms have increasingly taken over public services like emergency care and firefighting, often with dire effects.

"In each of these cases, someone dialed 911 and Wall Street answered."

Back in the day when the British had a penchant for conquering the world, they ran into a little problem on the subcontinent; cobras. Turns out there were a hell of a lot of the buggers wandering around India and it also turned out that they were rather venomous which

"In the examples above, we’ve got a handful of websites forcing customers into creating arbitrarily short passwords then disabling the ability to use password managers to the full extent possible and to make it even worse, they’re using a non-standard browser behaviour to do it!"

" But the data does support one idea: When it is apparent that an individual is female or nonwhite, they are rated worse than when their sex or race is obscured."

June 25, 2016

George Soros and other speculators may have cashed in on the market chaos Friday.

Looks like Soros made a ton again, at the expense of the british

The son of Muslim immigrants is worried about where his mother will pray.

The people who overwhelmingly voted to leave the EU will not have to face its long-term consequences.

June 24, 2016

Visitors to iconic Silicon Valley tech firms have high excitement, expectations

"A TripAdvisor user from London recalled a disappointing incident from a visit to Google. "We got told not to use the Google bikes as they are for employees only, which was a bit of a shame," the traveler complained."

I don't even

A petition calling for Sadiq Khan to declare London an independent state after the UK voted to quit the EU is signed by thousands of people.

And it begins

Google search history suggests many Britons had little idea what they were voting for

The dangers of uninformed voting and fear mongering in the media are coming to light, I guess.

Nine questions about Brexit you were too embarrassed to ask.

The UK has voted by a narrow margin to leave the European Union in a historic referendum, with UKIP leader Nigel Farage hailing it as "independence day" but the pound falls to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985.

Time to buy as the markets tank?

June 22, 2016

Internet companies have been waging a little-known war with the federal government over how much information companies are obligated to hand over about customers during national security investigations

"The FBI’s decision to ask companies for everything and let them figure out what they’re required to turn over has had the effect of potentially putting smaller companies with fewer resources at a disadvantage, say national security attorneys. Without expensive legal representation and a familiarity with the law, companies might turn over more content than is necessary."

Impossible Foods took a high-tech approach to creating a meat-free burger that replicates the real thing. It's all designed to tempt carnivores to eat less meat. And it's set to hit restaurants soon.

"The taste is unreal. When I tried a mini burger slathered in vegan mayo, mashed avocado, caramelized onions and Dijon prepared by San Francisco chef Traci Des Jardin at the company's headquarters in Redwood City, I was floored. The flavor was slightly less potent than meat, but if I didn't already know this burger was made from plants, I wouldn't have guessed it. The texture as I chewed was just like ground beef."

June 21, 2016

As many as 10 million PS3 console owners will be eligible for payment.

That's a huge verdict

June 20, 2016

I think that there's a lot of institutional knowledge in our field, especially about what makes for a productive engineer. But while there are a good deal of books in the management field about "expert" roles and responsibilities of non-technical individual contributors, I don't see too many modern…

Sharing for future bookmarking. This echoes some of what I've learnt, thought about more recently; engineering is often not about code but about communication and empathy.

June 18, 2016

A good, soulful letter can become a family keepsake and should include a list of crucial habits and the tangible things that have helped the family.

American society increasingly mistakes intelligence for human worth.

"When [Alice] Young, a British sociologist, coined the term meritocracy in 1958, it was in a dystopian satire. At the time, the world he imagined, in which intelligence fully determined who thrived and who languished, was understood to be predatory, pathological, far-fetched. Today, however, we’ve almost finished installing such a system, and we have embraced the idea of a meritocracy with few reservations, even treating it as virtuous. That can’t be right. Smart people should feel entitled to make the most of their gift. But they should not be permitted to reshape society so as to instate giftedness as a universal yardstick of human worth."

June 17, 2016

Right now, my inbox holds media requests from Buzzfeed, Daily Dot, Guardian, Associated Press, and newly, La Repubblica, Italy’s largest…

"When harassment, sexual or otherwise, requires a cost-benefit analysis, you have failed."

June 16, 2016

A few months ago, I complained about the insane state of today's advertising and the evil that is VPAID ads… - Artem Russakovskii - Google+

We have this macabre ballet we do in the airport. We stand in agonizingly long lines, winding around stanchions as our boarding times tick ever closer. It’s a routine borne of tragedies that could hypothetically happen, and we have cast the Transportation Security Administration as our stage directo...

"Instead, we created the TSA, tasked it with a massive task, and hobbled it with bad science, weak funding, contradictory mandates, and a general lack of support, so that we can have the illusion of security in the form of inconvenience."

Worldwide known cyber security company CrowdStrike announced that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) servers had been hacked by “sophisticated” hacker groups. I’m very pleas…

Looks like someone got into those servers again

June 15, 2016

It helped to develop all the new ways we watch TV — on-demand, bingeing, mobile. But the Silicon Valley company still has to keep reinventing itself.

A compelling read into Netflix history, culture, and the future of the media industry

The massacre at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando was a horrific tragedy. But it was not unprecedented – and it was not the “deadliest mass shooting in American history.”

When many lower-income Americans feel isolated and empty, they yearn for physical social networks. All across US, this happens organically at McDonald’s

"It isn’t just groups who use [Alice]’s. For many of the poorest, for the homeless, and for people caught in an addiction, [Alice]’s are an integral part of their lives. They have cheap and filling food, they have free Wi-Fi, outlets to charge phones, and clean bathrooms. [Alice]’s is also generally gracious about letting people sit quietly for long periods – longer than other fast-food places."

June 14, 2016

The dangers of optimizing based on an average metric

Before Nathan Drake, there was Crash Bandicoot

So hyped.

The founder of Sage on why academia sucks for a full-time position writing software for research (even though that software is used by tons of academics)

Some signs point to insider trading.

Someone's going to jail / paying a huge fine.

Join us in an exploration where we find out how the death of the 3mm jack will affect the smartphone experience, and why it shouldn't happen yet.

The man police say killed 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning had...

In most advanced countries, gun homicides are as rare as deaths from falling tree limbs or plane crashes.

"Last year’s Paris attacks killed 130 people, which is nearly as many as die from gun homicides in all of France in a typical year. But even if France had a mass shooting as deadly as the Paris attacks every month, its annual rate of gun homicide death would be lower than that in the United States."

June 13, 2016

Microsoft to acquire LinkedIn Posted June 13, 2016 By Microsoft News Center 0 8223 REDMOND, Wash., and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — June 13, 2016 — Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and LinkedIn Corporation (NYSE: LNKD) on Monday announced they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Microsoft…


I recently completed UT Austin's Distributed Computing class, taught by Lorenzo Alvisi. My project partner Pato and I decided to give it a go in Haskell, and ended up using Haskell for all project assignments (Chandy-Lamport, Paxos, and Bayou).

June 12, 2016

Fifty years ago, Gerald Foos bought a motel and rigged it up in order to watch his guests having sex. He saw a lot more than that.

This is a super engrossing human interest story about a guy who set up a motel with the express purpose of peeping on people, and what he observed.

Authorities in Santa Monica found possible explosives as well as a cache of weapons and ammunition Sunday in the car of a man who told them he planned to look for a friend at the L.A. Pride festival in West Hollywood, a law enforcement source said.


At least 53 people were wounded in what the police said was a “terror incident.”

This is despicable. Even more so given that I doubt we'll work on the factors that lead to this in the first place :( ranging from (in no particular order) support for the LGBTQ community, the "us vs them" mindset, radicalization, gun laws, mental health, and the FBI actually following up on leads they had investigated.

It's been roughly 3 years since DDraceNetwork (DDNet) started in the summer of 2013. Last year I wrote a non-technical History of DDNet. Today in this post we will dive into the technical side of what makes DDNet run.

It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned -- and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about ad...

I've read a few articles about this before but this is the first time I've heard of the last study. Super interesting stuff, sadly I doubt people will listen due to existing "moral" stigmas. What happened in Portugal needs to happen everywhere if people actually care about reducing drug usage, but I doubt it will anytime soon

Driverless vehicles "will make what happened in the steel or auto industries look tiny," says the former chief of one of America's largest unions.

June 11, 2016

Bay Area towns that tech made rich as considering rent control, an urban tactic, to save a middle class squeezed by years of punishing rent increases.

A new study supports what a small group of military researchers has suspected for decades: that modern warfare destroys the brain.

"Daniel Perl is continuing to examine the brains of blast-injured soldiers. After five years of working with the military, he feels sure, he told me, that many blast injuries have not been identified. “We could be talking many thousands,” he said. “And what scares me is that what we’re seeing now might just be the first round. If they survive the initial injuries, many of them may develop C.T.E. years or decades later.”"

Those who have lost jobs to foreigners on temporary visas, in particular, have begun to speak out despite their severance agreements with companies.

June 10, 2016

People have been asking me what happened when I didn’t show up to give my talk on the Web Animations API at Smashing Oxford. Here I’m…

Another sad immigration story, this time from the UK.

"This is the system we asked for. We thought it wouldn’t apply to “us.” We built it to keep Them out, to keep Us safe. But how quickly that system turns and engulfs the ones we love.
Then it’s not “Us vs Them.” It’s Us vs Ourselves."

"The Australian/Dutch woman down there with me thought that because we didn’t look like criminals, we shouldn’t be treated like criminals. What she didn’t realize that was we were both playing the part of “criminals” in a shadow puppet play to appease terrified citizens, fearful of attack from the Other, of theft of jobs and currency. It didn’t matter what we looked like because no one else would see us. It didn’t matter who we were because no employer would come running to our rescue. We had ceased to be people and had become numbers, convenient and disposable. For lack of anyone more suspicious to bully, we were pulled aside, our rights suspended, and then cast away with only the thinnest of excuses."

“I was hacked today: my Twitter account, two email addresses, & my phone. It was not due to passwords, they hacked my phone account itself.”

So much for 2fac, if you can just call up the phone provider and get their phone number reassigned to you.

The absurdly deep research underlying HBO’s satire.

Super engrossing read, made even better if you know about silicon valley (both the real one and the show). Full of spoilers though.

"“Multiple people have told me, ‘I’m the Erlich of my company,’” he continued. “I actually tell them, ‘You know that’s not a good thing, right?’”"

Before broadband and the connected world of information, we found different ways to mix our social life and our games. LAN parties. Where our PCs had a big

June 9, 2016

In this blog post I will show how: 17000 computers were forced to execute arbitrary code by typosquatting programming language packages/libraries 50% of these installations were conducted with administrative rights Even highly security aware institutions (.gov and .mil hosts) fell victim to this att...

Oh, excellent. Hasnain [Alice]

June 8, 2016

They used to be ludicrously popular in America. Could they be again?

Click bait headline, but interesting read on tontines, which I never had heard of before

when a site asks you to sign up for their thing and then the 'no thank you' link is some hot...

Some of these are nuts

How racism created two, divergent American neighborhoods

"It's more comfortable to talk about inequality and poverty outside the context of race. More than half the country thinks past or present discrimination is not a major factor in why black Americans face problems today. But in the past, it was OK to literally build a wall between a white neighborhood and black neighborhood. That was a lot easier to point at and say: Hey, that's racist. Now, those concrete symbols of racism are largely gone and what's left are their systemic effects. Sometimes, that makes it hard to be as outraged.

But in this country, we forced people into toxic neighborhoods based on the color of their skin, and it still plays an overwhelming role in which people gets a real shot to be healthy, happy, and hopeful. In other words, the walls are still there."

When I query a database, I generally expect that it will return all the results that match my query. Recently, I was surprised to find that…

June 7, 2016

Can a radically open culture help Facebook catch up to Google and Microsoftand build the world's most powerful ad platform?

"San Jose has taken the rare step of publicly opposing the project, saying it would add far too many jobs."

"San Jose has taken the rare step of publicly opposing the project, saying it would add far too many jobs, exacerbating the region’s housing shortage."

but .. job creators!

Freedom of speech is in retreat

Excerpts from Expert Judgment on Markers to Deter Inadvertent Human Intrusion into the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Sandia National Laboratories report SAND92-1382 / UC-721, p. F-49

Super interesting read on how to design a warning so people don't pillage nuclear waste sites

June 6, 2016

Pied Piper — A Middle-Out Compression Solution Making Data Storage Problems Smaller

In case you were waiting to try the Beta

Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm at the center of the trove of revealing documents, offered a menu of services to conceal the true owners.

June 5, 2016

Yesterday, I wrote about an Iranian show called Haft Sang, which made news here in the U.S. thanks to a video posted by YouTube user Sina Haghighi. The ...

From 2014; I had no idea they tried copying the show. With culturally required changes, of course; in which [Alice] and Cam become a hetero couple and Haley becomes a guy

How Lahoris see Karachiites and how Karachiites see Lahoris is something that is at times worse than the rivalry between India and Pakistan.

“Biryani main boti honi chahye aaloo tou samosay main bhi hota hai”

Replacing the welfare state with an annual grant is the best way to cope with a radically changing U.S. jobs market—and to revitalize America’s civic culture.

Kya aap apnay kaalay pun say tang ah chukay hain? toh try kee jeeyay SUPER WHITENING BELT!!! Do not forget to join our facebook page

Revisiting the classics.

June 4, 2016

A former Stanford swimmer who sexually assaulted an unconscious women was sentenced to six months in jail because a longer sentence would have "a severe impact on him," according to a jud...

This is super powerful. And so sad.

June 3, 2016

momondo searches 700+ travel sites to find you the best fares for Miami to Karachi flights. Find cheap flights with momondo.

these will probably sell out in a few hours but in case anyone is interested, $260 round trip flights to karachi from miami (mistake fare so it might get canceled by the airline later though)

June 2, 2016

An insider's look at what he gave up to create a classic game

"It may not end with happily ever after, but it’s a story I’m glad I was privileged enough to lend a few words to.

Yeah, it may have broken me so very, very badly, but I can’t regret Fable."

June 1, 2016

ESPN has lost 10 million subscribers since 2013.


The phrasing of the headline itself is scary

It didn't sit well with some residents.