Reader's Corner for September 2016

September 30, 2016

Microsoft says it has formed a new 5,000-person engineering and research team to focus on its artificial intelligence products — a major reshaping of the c

Lots of investment, seems exciting.

Less than a day after Congress overrode President Obama ’s veto of a bill that would let 9/11 victims’ families sue Saudi Arabia, top GOP leaders said they might need to fix the new law to protect U.S. national security interests.

That was fast

September 29, 2016

In a country as car-oriented as the United States, the draw of the driver's seat is strong. But the top men and women in government are rarely allowed behind the steering wheel.

September 28, 2016

Lawmakers refused to oppose measure backed by 9/11 families, permitting them to sue the government of Saudi Arabia for allegedly backing the hijackers

Will be interesting to see the lawsuits the US will get in return. Bad move.

"Obama expressed disappointment. “The concern that I’ve had has nothing to do with Saudi Arabia per se or my sympathy for 9/11 families, it has to do with me not wanting a situation in which we’re suddenly exposed to liabilities for all the work that we’re doing all around the world, and suddenly finding ourselves subject to the private lawsuits in courts where we don’t even know exactly whether they’re on the up and up, in some cases,” he told CNN.

“So this is a dangerous precedent and it’s an example of why sometimes you have to do what’s hard. And, frankly, I wish Congress here had done what’s hard. I didn’t expect it, because if you’re perceived as voting against 9/11 families right before an election, not surprisingly, that’s a hard vote for people to take. But it would have been the right thing to do.”"

September 27, 2016

Prank video destroying new Apple smartphone receives 10m views, with some seemingly tricked into making 3.5mm hole in the bottom of their devices

Wait, people actually did this?!

The formation and collapse of tiny bubbles dramatically changes the chemistry, engineering, and cost of beer-making.

Science at its finest

Hillary Clinton is running for president to be a champion for everyday Americans. Support Hillary for America by donating today.

Fast turnaround on buying that URL

September 26, 2016

How innovative does a startup have to be?

Basically a paid ad, but it was interesting to learn how Transferwise achieves their rates

The language of the internet doesn't follow the rules of English.

Please, Mrs. Conservative, don’t yell at our daddy for using food stamps. Also, can we have a cookie?

"Stupid fucking poor people. If only we’d been engineer majors in college. If only we’d gone to college. If only our parents hadn’t been poor. If only they spoke English. If only we worked harder. If only we were more like conservatives who believe everything they have today is a direct result from the sweat of their own brow."

Eighteen academic studies, legal rulings, and media investigations shed light on the issue roiling America.

"In San Francisco, “although Black people accounted for less than 15 percent of all stops in 2015, they accounted for over 42 percent of all non-consent searches following stops.” This proved unwarranted: “Of all people searched without consent, Black and Hispanic people had the lowest ‘hit rates’ (i.e., the lowest rate of contraband recovered).” In 2015, whites searched without consent were found to be carrying contraband at nearly two times the rate as blacks who were searched without consent."

September 25, 2016

Self-driving, 80,000-lb trucks will probably be on the road faster than automated cars. Nearly 2 million trucking jobs are at risk.

A group of reporters have been locked in an escape room with the cast of MacGyver. Despite the squeals of surprise at the darkness — none of which came from stars Lucas Till, George Eads, or Justin Hires — there’s nothing for the writers to be afraid of.

This looks promising

How will the economy provide economic opportunities if employers need fewer workers in the future? A growing number of people in Silicon Valley are saying the only realistic answer is a basic income.

"The debate about whether machines are taking our jobs is beside the point, says [Alice] [Bob], a co-founder of Facebook who is active in the basic income movement. He says that whether you like the idea or not, there won't be an alternative because decent-paying jobs are disappearing for millions of people."

September 24, 2016

Explore the creation of a data container for game programming meant to take the place of C++ standard library containers with an alternative that stores data contiguously in memory.

This looks pretty interesting

September 23, 2016

I blog mostly about my own programming projects.

So much good stuff here on string searching, regexes and algorithms.

The bodies of 162 people had been pulled from the waters off the Egyptian coast by Friday, two days after a boat carrying hundreds of refugees and migrants capsized in the Mediterranean while attempting to head to Europe.


The Sapphire Reserve card has the points-and-miles obsessed fired up.

This has got to be one of the best GIFs I've seen in a long time

Facebook Messenger is getting a neat update today on Andriod and iOS, according to TechCrunch: you can now poll your friends. The feature only works for group chats (because polling a two people is silly), and works just like you’d expect: type in a question and some possible responses. A new era of...

Whenever I try and make plans over messenger and we have a bajillion messages and no consensus and have to ask again ten times

September 22, 2016

Kathy Miller called the Black Lives Matter movement ‘a stupid waste of time’ and said low African American voter turnout could be due to ‘the way they’re raised’

I don't even know how someone can begin to say this. It gets worse than the headline.

The only redeeming thing is this addendum: "Latest news: [Alice] resigns after remarking ‘no racism before Obama’"

By Bob Lord, CISO We have confirmed that a copy of certain user account information was stolen from the company’s network in late 2014 by what it believes is a state-sponsored actor. The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords...

"We have confirmed that a copy of certain user account information was stolen from the company’s network in late 2014 by what it believes is a state-sponsored actor."


Researchers concluded that no matter how fast you pick up food that falls on the floor, you will pick up bacteria with it.

Personal blog of John Novak

Engrossing read on graphics and human perception

"Almost everybody does this the wrong way: CSS gradients and transitions are wrong (see this thread for details), Photoshop is wrong (as of version CS6) and there’s not even an option to fix it."

When the departure of just one resident sends your state’s legislative budget office into a panic – it might be time to take a closer look at your tax policies. Such is the current predicament in New Jersey, where the relocation of hedge-fund manager David Tepper to Florida is causing serious concer...

"When the departure of just one resident sends your state’s legislative budget office into a panic – it might be time to take a closer look at your tax policies. Such is the current predicament in New Jersey, where the relocation of hedge-fund manager [Alice] Tepper to Florida is causing serious concern among finance officers and legislators alike."

It's a sweeping saga of alleged insider trading that spans three generations.

This has a good hook, and is super engrossing

The ACLU of Connecticut is suing state police for fabricating retaliatory criminal charges against a protester after troopers were recorded discussing how to trump up charges against him. In what seems like an unlikely stroke of cosmic karma, the recording came about after a camera belonging to the…


The ACLU of Connecticut is suing state police for fabricating retaliatory criminal charges against a protester after troopers were recorded discussing how to trump up charges against him. In what seems like an unlikely stroke of cosmic karma, the recording came about after a camera belonging to the…


September 21, 2016

A Silicon Valley apartment complex wants to attract high-income tenants who work at top tech firms – but critics ask, what is the human cost?

I thought Redwood City had some reasonable laws regarding eviction, but looks like I was wrong :(

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a company created by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan to "unlock human potential and promote equality," announced its latest, grandest project today: a $3 billion "Chan Zuckerberg Science" program created with the goal of curing, preventing, or managing "all disease...

This is pretty cool, in general people focus too much on the managing disease and not on prevention.

John Abraham: 375 National Academy of Sciences members sign an open letter expressing frustration at political inaction on climate change

Behind the scenes of the Emmy-winning series with its real-life information security consultant.

I really need to watch this

PHOTOKINA, COLOGNE, GERMANY, Sept. 20, 2016 – Western Digital Corporation (NASDAQ: WDC), a global storage technology and solutions leader, today unveiled its SanDisk® 1TB terabyte (TB) SDXC™ card prototype at the world's leading trade fair for photo and video professionals. With increasing demand fo...

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with SD cards

And why have so many low-income men stopped looking for work entirely?

John Stumpf arrived at Tuesday’s Senate Banking Committee hearings with one hand in a bandage. He left even more battered and bruised.

John Stumpf arrived at Tuesday’s Senate Banking Committee hearings with one hand in a bandage. He left even more battered and bruised.

The Obama administration’s proposed guidelines for self-driving cars, to be formally unveiled Tuesday, include 15 benchmarks automakers will need to meet before their autonomous vehicles can hit the road.

Let’s Encrypt is a free, automated, and open certificate authority brought to you by the non-profit Internet Security Research Group (ISRG).

September 20, 2016

You quit your day job last week.

September 19, 2016

The streaming service is spending $6 billion a year on content, choking basic cable and brusquely rattling the relationship business of the town as fears of a Google- or Apple-sized dominance send a chill down the entertainment industry's spine.

This is engrossing

The average citizen will never look a death row prisoner in the eye. But we all share the burden of capital punishment.

"Since I retired from corrections in 2010, my mission has been to persuade people that capital punishment is a failed policy. America should no longer accept the myth that capital punishment plays any constructive role in our criminal justice system. It will be hard to bring an end to the death penalty, but we will be a healthier society as a result."

Last year I decided to rewrite Enjarify (a command line Python application) in Go and take notes in order to get data comparing the…

Interesting read

Last year I decided to rewrite Enjarify (a command line Python application) in Go and take notes in order to get data comparing the…

Interesting read

Last year I decided to rewrite Enjarify (a command line Python application) in Go and take notes in order to get data comparing the…

Interesting read

September 18, 2016

Bacon has one of the most unusual and underappreciated packaging formats of any supermarket product.

Interesting read

Tim Romero's answer: Pakistan. This may seem surprising at first, but Pakistan is the clear choice for the disgruntled American conservative when you look at it logically. * Pakistan has very low taxes. Fewer than 2% pay any income tax at all. * The national government is limited and most of ...

The Answer is kind of surprising, but makes sense after the edit

The Post received countless benefits off Snowden's back: now its Editorial Page wants him imprisoned.

This is pretty messed up. Source reveals N documents, you reveal M
"What’s critical here is that Kaplan’s list of Bad Snowden Revelations (just like the Post‘s) invariably involves stories published not by Snowden (or even by The Intercept or The Guardian), but by The New York Times and The Washington Post. But like the Post editorial page editors, Kaplan is too much of a coward to accuse the nation’s top editors at those two papers of treason, helping terrorists, or endangering national security, so he pretends that it was Snowden, and Snowden alone, who made the choice to reveal these programs to the public. If Kaplan and the Post editors truly believe that all of these stories ought to have remained secret and have endangered people’s safety, why are they not attacking the editors and newspapers that made the ultimate decision to expose them? Snowden himself never publicly disclosed a single document, so any programs that were revealed were the ultimate doing of news organizations."

If you use an inkjet printer on a regular basis, probably one of the most loathed aspects of ownership is replacing the ink cartridges when they run out. While the initial purchase price of an inkjet printer is relatively low in the grand scheme of things, the cost of the replacement ink cartridges…

Wonder when the lawsuits will start

CFO Ruth Porat is pushing Google "creatives" to bring their costs under control.

"Current and former employees also say the scrutiny goes hand in hand with the kind of cost cutting companies that aren’t Google have endured for decades. Some cuts are relatively minor: Employees are encouraged to use video conferencing instead of traveling to meetings, for example. But others have deeper strategic implications. One source close to the company says it’s now difficult for Other Bets to get new hires approved. The Bets are also being told to be self-sufficient administratively: They can rely on Alphabet for functions like legal counsel, human resources, and public relations, but only if they pay Alphabet for the services. (One Other Bets subsidiary was billed $500,000 for a year’s worth of PR help.) If these units were independent companies, of course, they’d be shouldering these costs on their own. But within Alphabet, they represent unfamiliar constraints, and for some, a signal that the culture Google was built on—­focusing on innovation over profits—is dissipating"

Once upon a time, most of the millions of people who travel on India's vast train network brought their own food or bought it from vendors at stations. Sharing meals could turn strangers into friends.

"Indeed, there have been several significant societal changes within a single generation. My own quick survey on social media revealed that my friends who take trains don't carry food – they simply don't have the time and patience for it. There are now foil packaged meals served out of train kitchens and phone apps that allow pre-ordering of food, delivered at the next station."

September 17, 2016

Eventbrite office: 155 5th St, San Francisco, CA, 94103. Tell the security guard you're here for the Roguelike Celebration, then go to the 7th floor.

So excited to be able to nerd out at an event with so many talented and famous people

September 16, 2016

The president's Wall Street salary cap threatens life as some know it in Manhattan.

This piece from 2009 makes me want to laugh and cry (because a toned down version of this exists in the bay area).

Though seriously, expecting that you *need* those 2x/year fancy vacations (16k/yr) and have to attend those parties a few times a year with 10-15k dresses each time...

September 15, 2016

City Councilman Jumaane Williams declined to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance at Tuesday's Council meeting.

"This type of non-violent protest is not disrespectful as some have suggested. He deserves support, not criticism for his actions," he said. "What does it say about our country when there is a national outrage over an athlete sitting out the national anthem, but the same outrage isn't expressed when a young Black man is killed for no reason?"

You may or may not know that the incidence and relapse rates of schizophrenia in African-Caribbean males in Western countries has been…


Why do tech companies insist on being in expensive cities?

So much truth. The bay area is crazy expensive, and everyone's constantly hustling just to pay the bills

September 14, 2016

I see a lot of data breaches. I see a lot of legit ones and I see a lot of fake ones and because of that, I always verify them before making any claims that an organisation has been hacked. Usually I'll verify and then in conjunction with journalists I


Edit: A day and a half after publishing this post, the source of the data was eventually identified and a statement issued. Do see the updates at the end of this post. I see a lot of data breaches. I see a lot of legit ones and I see a


Edit: A day and a half after publishing this post, the source of the data was eventually identified and a statement issued. Do see the updates at the end of this post. I see a lot of data breaches. I see a lot of legit ones and I see a


September 13, 2016

Here is a piece of C++ code that seems very peculiar. For some strange reason, sorting the data miraculously makes the code almost six times faster. #include #include

Branch prediction!

Adblock Plus is launching a new service that... uh, puts more ads on your screen. Rather than stripping all ads from the internet forever, Adblock Plus is hoping to replace the bad ads — anything...

After the extortion they were doing, I can't say I'm surprised.

Still don't know whether to laugh or cry though

FCC should use broadband deployment power to discourage data caps, Netflix says.

September 12, 2016

Newly discovered documents show that the sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to shape the debate around heart disease, sugar and fat.

This is despicable

"The documents show that a trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation, known today as the Sugar Association, paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of sugar, fat and heart research. The studies used in the review were handpicked by the sugar group, and the article, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat.

The Harvard scientists and the sugar executives with whom they collaborated are no longer alive. One of the scientists who was paid by the sugar industry was D. [Alice] Hegsted, who went on to become the head of nutrition at the United States Department of Agriculture, where in 1977 he helped draft the forerunner to the federal government’s dietary guidelines. Another scientist was Fredrick J. Stare, the chairman of Harvard’s nutrition department."

September 11, 2016

If this little country can do it, why can’t others?

This is amazing

JP Morgan Chase is increasing the minimum asset level for such services as big banks focus on their richest clients – and the rest of us are underserved

"It’s also why the banks want to focus on their richest clients. Investing time and money in working with those of us who may only have a few thousand dollars to put to work is a waste of their resources – in their eyes.

The problem is that as they keep conducting triage, and denying access to investment guidance to one group after another, more and more of us will end up without the ability to turn to the banks to help us manage our investments. Let’s face it, JP Morgan and other private banks can boost their investment minimums dramatically, but the incomes of most Americans are barely budging. We’re less and less likely to have the minimum level of assets that most investment counselors want to see before accepting us as a client."

A city in climate-change denial.

"The deluge will begin slowly, and irregularly, and so it will confound human perceptions of change. Areas that never had flash floods will start to experience them, in part because global warming will also increase precipitation. High tides will spill over old bulkheads when there is a full moon. People will start carrying galoshes to work. All the commercial skyscrapers, housing, cultural institutions that currently sit near the waterline will be forced to contend with routine inundation. And cataclysmic floods will become more common, because, to put it simply, if the baseline water level is higher, every storm surge will be that much stronger. Now, a surge of six feet has a one percent chance of happening each year — it’s what climatologists call a “100 year” storm. By 2050, if sea-level rise happens as rapidly as many scientists think it will, today’s hundred-year floods will become five times more likely, making mass destruction a once-a-generation occurrence. Like a stumbling boxer, the city will try to keep its guard up, but the sea will only gain strength."

Why don’t the medical guidelines reflect the evidence, and suggest a low-carb diet?

"Most doctors — and the diabetes associations — portray diabetes as an incurable disease, presaging a steady decline that may include kidney failure, amputations and blindness, as well as life-threatening heart attacks and stroke. Yet the literature on low-carbohydrate intervention for diabetes tells another story. For instance, a two-week study of 10 obese patients with Type 2 diabetes found that their glucose levels normalized and insulin sensitivity was improved by 75 percent after they went on a low-carb diet."

In 1250, the southeastern United States was home to a city larger than London whose people built 200 huge, earthen pyramids. So why do so few people know about it?

Amazing read. Learnt so many new things.

"“Perhaps one human being in five was a native of the Americas,” [Alice] Wilson writes in The Earth Shall Weep, which uses the seven million estimate for the population of North America. “In 1492, the western hemisphere was larger, richer and more populous than Europe." "

Their files are full of obvious mistakes that the companies are in no rush to correct.

September 8, 2016

Upgrade to iPhone 7 with Apple Plug.

So good

September 7, 2016

A long-running investigation of exceptional children reveals what it takes to produce the scientists who will lead the 21st century

This was a great read. So many lessons here. Not sure what to quote, to be honest.

"Such results contradict long-established ideas suggesting that expert performance is built mainly through practice—that anyone can get to the top with enough focused effort of the right kind. SMPY, by contrast, suggests that early cognitive ability has more effect on achievement than either deliberate practice or environmental factors such as socio-economic status. The research emphasizes the importance of nurturing precocious children, at a time when the prevailing focus in the United States and other countries is on improving the performance of struggling students. At the same time, the work to identify and support academically talented students has raised troubling questions about the risks of labelling children, and the shortfalls of talent searches and standardized tests as a means of identifying high-potential students, especially in poor and rural districts."

A Reuters investigation finds that as antibiotic-resistant infections rage on, the U.S. government isn't tracking who is dying or where.

This is really scary.

"There’s also a powerful incentive not to mention a hospital-acquired infection: Counting deaths is tantamount to documenting your own failures. By acknowledging such infections, hospitals and medical professionals risk potentially costly legal liability, loss of insurance reimbursements and public-relations damage."

September 6, 2016

A survivor’s story of how he was almost crushed to death at the 2015 hajj.

"The crush has been described as a stampede, but most victims in such crowd disasters are actually crushed, not trampled, by pressures that are strong enough to bend steel fences.

In a crush, the flow of the crowd slips beyond the control of the individuals in it. Waves of pressure ripple through, lifting people off the ground, sometimes carrying them more than 10 feet.

The main cause of death in a crowd crush is asphyxiation. People can be squeezed so tightly that they suffocate standing in place."

"Pakistan, a close ally of Saudi Arabia and large recipient of Saudi aid, has played down the Pakistani death toll and warned the local news media to avoid criticizing hajj management."

Do you know what’s happening in this picture? Literally one of the most important events in human history. But here’s the most amazing part of the story: Hardly anyone paid attention at the time. Wilbur and Orville Wright conquered flight on December 17th, 1903. Few inventions were as transformation...

The Library of Congress, where I found these papers, reveals two amazing details. One, the first passing mention of the Wrights in The New York Times came in 1906, three years after their first flight. Two, in 1904, the Times asked a hot-air-balloon tycoon whether humans may fly someday. He answered:

" ... in the very, very, very, very far future ... "

That was a year after the Wright’s first flight.

September 5, 2016

Ageism in the workplace is toxic, and it hurts everyone.

I still don't understand ageism. Why get rid of your most experienced folks?

"Recruiters say people with more than three years of work experience need not apply. Ads call for “digital natives,” as if playing video games as a kid is proof of competence. Résumés go unread, as Christina Economos, a science educator with more than 40 years of experience developing curriculum, has learned. “I don’t even get a reply — or they just say, ‘We’ve found someone more suited,’ ” she said. “I feel that my experience, skill set, work ethic, are being dismissed just because of my age. It’s really a blow, since I still feel like a vital human being.”"

September 4, 2016

The Acer Predator 21 X is easily the most ridiculous gaming laptop ever made.


smbc, always spot on

September 2, 2016

Samsung has announced an unprecedented recall of the Galaxy Note 7 just weeks after launching the well-received smartphone. Sales have been halted globally, and over the coming weeks Samsung will...

Ouch. First time a phone has been recalled that I know of?

September 1, 2016

Facebook's AMOS-6 satellite would have provided internet to sub-Saharan Africa. A Falcon 9 explosion on a SpaceX launchpad destroyed it.

Don't know if there's anything anyone can say except "well, ... crap"

Through a series of performance and reliability improvements, we were able to scale Spark to handle a TB-scale entity ranking system in production.

Spark is cool