How We Made Bracket Pair Colorization 10,000x Faster In Visual Studio Code
How we made bracket pair colorization in Visual Studio Code up to 10,000 times faster.
Great read on text algorithms, some fun data structures and algorithms. The complexity analysis was a fun aside. I now have a good example to show now when talking about “who needs to use data structures like this in practice?!”
“Efficient bracket pair colorization was a fun challenge. With the new data structures, we can also solve other problems related to bracket pairs more efficiently, such as general bracket matching or showing colored line scopes.
A Path to Financial Security That Doesn’t Lead to a 401(k)
Some Black and Hispanic millennials are looking to alternatives like real estate or entrepreneurship, or to trading stock on their own.
“A sense of obligation to provide for parents and sometimes extended families burdens the finances of many millennials with roots in immigrant communities, said Shellise Rogers, 30, who grew up in Trinidad and New York City and has gone to Score for advice. She now lives in New York and has her own business as an accountant and business coach.”Posted on 2021-09-30T00:44:16+0000
Open-sourcing Mariana Trench: Analyzing Android and Java app security in depth
Mariana Trench is an open source static analyzer that we wrote to detect and prevent security issues in Android and Java applications.
This is some really cool work done by folks in my org.
"MT is designed to be able to scan large mobile codebases and flag potential issues on pull requests before they make it into production. It was built as a result of close collaboration between security and software engineers at Facebook who train MT to look at code and analyze how data flows through it. Analyzing data flows is useful because many security and privacy issues can be modeled as data flowing into a place it shouldn’t."Posted on 2021-09-29T18:24:47+0000
The value of in-house expertise
An alternate title for this post might be, "Twitter has a kernel team!?". At this point, I've heard that surprised exclamation enough that I've lost count of the number times that's been said to me (I'd guess that it's more than ten but less than a hundred). If we look at trendy companies that are w...
Great read on in house expertise and the value of building vs buying in the right scenario.
“Before the patch, if you profiled our Scala code, you would've seen an unreasonably large amount of time spent in Future/Promise, including in cases where you might naively expect that the compiler would optimize the work away. One reason for this is that Futures use a compare-and-swap (CAS) operation that's opaque to JVM optimization. The patch linked above avoids CAS operations when the Future doesn't escape the scope of the method. This companion patch removes CAS operations in some places that are less amenable to compiler optimization. The two patches combined reduced the cost of typical major Twitter services using idiomatic Scala by 5% to 15%, paying for the JVM team in perpetuity many times over and that wasn't even the biggest win Flavio found that year.
I'm not going to do a team-by-team breakdown of teams that pay for themselves many times over because there are so many of them, even if I limit the scope to "teams that people are surprised that Twitter has".”Posted on 2021-09-29T15:32:15+0000
A World Without Sci-Hub
Sci-Hub has become foundational for scientific research. What if we didn’t need it at all?
Well written article highlighting a lot of problems with the academic journal and publication system.
“Whatever happens to Sci-Hub or Elbakyan, the fact that such a site exists is something of a tragedy. Sci-Hub currently fills a niche that should never have existed. Like the black-market medicine purchased by people who cannot afford prescription drugs, its very being indicts the official system that created the conditions of its emergence.
The cost of individually purchasing all the articles required to complete a typical literature review could easily amount to thousands of dollars. Beyond paying for the articles themselves, academics often have to pay steep fees to publish their research. Meanwhile, most peer reviewers and editors charged with assessing, correcting, and formatting papers do not receive compensation for their work.”Posted on 2021-09-29T15:27:43+0000
The code worked differently when the moon was full
I love a good bug, especially ones that are initially hard to explain but then ...
This was a really interesting bug and analysis.
“Sawtooth up and down graphs aren't THAT interesting...but look at the x-axis. This isn't showing minute by minute or even millisecond by millisecond ups and downs like you may have seen before. This x-axis uses months as its unit of measure. Read that again and drink it in.”Posted on 2021-09-29T05:09:14+0000
Temporary lorry driver visas are a symptom of government failure
Rather than acknowledging trade-offs and planning, politicians are exposing migrant workers to more exploitation
Surprised the FT went out swinging
“We could have stayed in the EU and improved pay and conditions in these sectors. We could have left the EU and improved pay and conditions in these sectors. But the government insisted we would “have our cake and eat it” rather than acknowledge trade-offs and plan for them. This has precipitated a crisis which may mean the country ends up reliant on low-paid migrant workers after all — just different ones, who are even more vulnerable to exploitation. If there is any cake left, I don’t know who’s eating it.”Posted on 2021-09-28T07:44:21+0000
Why Facebook should release the Facebook Files
The company's least-bad option might also do a lot of good
This was an interesting and thoughtful analysis.
“Whatever the case, it seems clear that the current state of affairs is making everyone miserable. So today I want to expand my argument: Not only should Facebook commit to doing more research like the Facebook Files, it should release the Facebook Files, period. And not just the Instagram-related ones, as Nick Clegg suggested Monday. Whatever documents the Journal relied on, Facebook should make them publicly available. Redact them as needed to protect users’ privacy, if need be. Add context, where context is missing.
But release them, and soon.
Here’s my rationale.”Posted on 2021-09-28T07:23:02+0000
‘Babylon 5’ Reboot in Development at The CW From Original Series Creator J. Michael Straczynski
A “Babylon 5” reboot is in development at The CW, Variety has learned. Original series creator J. Michael Straczynski is onboard to write the project. He will also executive producer un…
I rewatched the whole thing (saw S5 for the first time though) earlier this year and it was so good.
“Original series creator J. Michael Straczynski is onboard to write the project. He will also executive producer under his Studio JMS banner. Warner Bros. Television, which produced the original series, will produce the reboot.”Posted on 2021-09-28T05:19:10+0000
Why lockdown and distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to increase the social class achievement gap - Nature Human Behaviour
The COVID-19 pandemic led to school closures and distance learning that are likely to exacerbate social class academic disparities. This Review presents an agenda for future research and outlines recommendations to help parents, teachers and policymakers to limit the impact of school closures.
Only read the intro so far and the data is staggering.
“Not only did the pandemic lead to the closure of schools in many countries, often for several weeks, it also accelerated the digitalization of education and amplified the role of parental involvement in supporting the schoolwork of their children. Thus, beyond the specific circumstances of the COVID-19 lockdown, we believe that studying the effects of the pandemic on academic inequalities provides a way to more broadly examine the consequences of school closure and related effects (for example, digitalization of education) on social class inequalities
Data from non-Western countries highlight a more general digital divide, showing that developing countries have poorer access to digital equipment. For example, in India in 2018, only 10.7% of households possessed a digital device, while in Pakistan in 2020, 31% of higher-education teachers did not have Internet access and 68.4% did not have a laptop”Posted on 2021-09-28T03:15:19+0000
‘Impossible’ Particle Discovery Adds Key Piece to the Strong Force Puzzle | Quanta Magazine
The unexpected discovery of the double-charm tetraquark has given physicists a new tool with which to hone their understanding of the strongest of nature’s fundamental forces.
“The tetraquark now presents theorists with a solid target against which to test their mathematical machinery for approximating the strong force. Honing their approximations represents physicists’ main hope for understanding how quarks behave inside and outside atoms — and for teasing apart the effects of quarks from subtle signs of new fundamental particles that physicists are pursuing.”Posted on 2021-09-27T20:36:16+0000
Goldman Sachs, Ozy Media and a $40 Million Conference Call Gone Wrong
The digital media company has raised eyebrows for its claims about its audience size for years. Then came the strange voice on the phone.
I mean… yikes. As the article later goes on to say, this may well be securities fraud, raising investment under a clearly false premise.
“A confused Mr. Piper told the Goldman Sachs banker that he had never spoken with her before. Someone else, it seemed, had been playing the part of Mr. Piper on the call with Ozy.
When YouTube learned that someone had apparently impersonated one of their executives at a business meeting, its security team started an investigation, the company confirmed to me. The inquiry didn’t get far before a name emerged: Within days, Mr. Watson had apologized profusely to Goldman Sachs, saying the voice on the call belonged to Samir Rao, the co-founder and chief operating officer of Ozy, according to the four people.”Posted on 2021-09-27T03:26:42+0000
What If 2020 Was Just a Rehearsal?
American democracy is in the midst of a waking nightmare, says Rick Hasen. And Democrats aren’t taking it seriously enough.
I’m glad more mainstream media outlets are starting to raise awareness of how bad this can get in 2024.
“In 2020, we saw election officials refuse to bow to pressure campaigns from Trump and his associates after the vote ended. Are you confident they would withstand that pressure again in 2024?
If the same people are in place, I’m confident. But I don’t think the same people are going to be in place — that’s what makes me quite worried. I don’t think the people that showed integrity would lose their integrity, but I’m worried that people who didn’t show integrity might now be in positions of power.”Posted on 2021-09-26T21:01:37+0000
Kidnapping, assassination and a London shoot-out: Inside the CIA's secret war plans against WikiLeaks
In 2017, as Julian Assange began his fifth year holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London, the CIA plotted to kidnap the WikiLeaks founder, spurring heated debate among Trump administration officials over the legality and practicality of such an operation.
This whole thing is really damning. Worth reading in full.
“In response, the CIA and the White House began preparing for a number of scenarios to foil Assange’s Russian departure plans, according to three former officials. Those included potential gun battles with Kremlin operatives on the streets of London, crashing a car into a Russian diplomatic vehicle transporting Assange and then grabbing him, and shooting out the tires of a Russian plane carrying Assange before it could take off for Moscow. (U.S. officials asked their British counterparts to do the shooting if gunfire was required, and the British agreed, according to a former senior administration official.)”Posted on 2021-09-26T17:49:06+0000
The Lab-Leak Debate Just Got Even Messier
A new leaked document is stirring up another frenzy over the pandemic’s origins. What does it really tell us?
“Even as a natural origin remains the most plausible explanation, these discoveries, taken as a whole, demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that good-faith investigations of these matters have proceeded in the face of a toxic shroud of secrecy. Vaughn Cooper, who studies pathogen evolution at the University of Pittsburgh, told us that he hasn’t changed his view that SARS-CoV-2 is extremely unlikely to have been created in a lab—but the lack of candor is “really concerning.” The DARPA proposal doesn’t “mean that much for our understanding of the origins of the pandemic,” he said, “but it does diminish the trustworthiness of the research groups involved.””Posted on 2021-09-25T17:16:30+0000
The hottest new perk in tech: A week off for burnout recovery
Tech companies like Lessonly, Bumble, Google and HubSpot are giving their workers more time off to address burnout.
“The question remains: Is taking a week of rest actually effective in addressing burnout?
According to Doug Mennin, a clinical psychology professor at Columbia University, this approach is more of a short-term solution, but he said, "If you're not sleeping, and you're working a lot, and you're strung out from it, being able to recharge can be helpful."”Posted on 2021-09-25T06:48:27+0000
Opinion | Our constitutional crisis is already here
Trump’s charges of fraud in 2020 are not about looking back, as many Republicans insist. They are about establishing the predicate to challenge future election results more effectively.
Thought provoking. And I’m glad this wasn’t behind the usual paywall.
“Today’s arguments over the filibuster will seem quaint in three years if the American political system enters a crisis for which the Constitution offers no remedy.
Most Americans — and all but a handful of politicians — have refused to take this possibility seriously enough to try to prevent it.”Posted on 2021-09-24T06:39:41+0000
Binary Banshees and Digital Demons
The Committee says these things do not exist. The Committee says these things are invisible, not our business, and not something we can or should talk about.
Well worded rant in ABI compatibility concerns in C++. I learnt a lot about the politics in the standardization process and a lot of technical minutiae at the same time.
“You cannot make me pay my blood for a contract with this insidious, ever-pervasive amalgamation, I was not even alive to bear witness to. I will not sit in every meeting and be endlessly bullied by implementations that do not know how to handle a problem they are the sole controller and proprietor for. It’s absolutely inane that even the most mundane of proposals can suddenly be ran through like a train wreck because the pinnacle of C++ and C experts cannot answer the question “how do I version something”. I will have a good standard library. It will meet my performance requirements. It will be correct. I do not care how many ghosts of the past there are. I do not care how many implementations exist where a person programming for longer than I have been alive made a sub-optimal choice one day and now we just have to live with that, for the rest of eternity. I will not be made to suffer someone else’s mistakes in perpetuity, while they also continue to make the same mistakes in egregiously flagrant fashions now and into the future.
I shouldn’t even be held back by my own mistakes from yesterday, what kind of world do we live in where we settle on a process so fundamentally against the human condition of learning and growing as an individual? Why would we prioritize a working process that at its deepest roots is so fundamentally against the living human being, and happier to dwell with the dead?”Posted on 2021-09-24T06:32:00+0000
Disclosure of three 0-day iOS vulnerabilities and critique of Apple Security Bounty program
I want to share my frustrating experience participating in Apple Security Bounty program. I've reported four 0-day vulnerabilities this year between March 10 and May 4, as of now three of them are...
Yikes. Given all the similar experiences popping up recently this is not a good look.
“I want to share my frustrating experience participating in Apple Security Bounty program. I've reported four 0-day vulnerabilities this year between March 10 and May 4, as of now three of them are still present in the latest iOS version (15.0) and one was fixed in 14.7, but Apple decided to cover it up and not list it on the security content page. When I confronted them, they apologized, assured me it happened due to a processing issue and promised to list it on the security content page of the next update. There were three releases since then and they broke their promise each time.”Posted on 2021-09-24T03:39:07+0000
How We Got to LiveView
I'm Chris McCord. I work at Fly.io and created Phoenix, an Elixir web framework. Phoenix provides features out-of-the-box that are difficult in other languages and frameworks. This is a post about how we created LiveView, our flagship feature.
The more I read about LiveView the more excited I get - it looks like this solves some of the problems I had faced when working on concurrent multiplayer game servers.
My only gripe is that it's not Rust so now I need to go debate between yak shaving or using the right tool for the job in this case. (/s)
"Today, I work in a language called Elixir. I spend my days building Phoenix, which is Elixir's goto web framework. Unlike Rails, Phoenix is more than just an Elixir web framework. In the process of building Phoenix, I believe we've hit on some new ideas that will change the way we think about building applications in much the same way Rails did for CRUD apps.
That's a big claim. To back it up, I want to talk you through the history of Phoenix, what we were trying to do, and some of the problems we solved along the way."Posted on 2021-09-23T03:37:48+0000
Students who grew up with search engines might change STEM education forever
Professors are struggling to teach Gen Z
“Even professors who have incorporated directory structure into their courses suspect that they may be clinging to an approach that’s soon to be obsolete. Plavchan has considered offering a separate course on directory structure — but he’s not sure it’s worth it. “I imagine what’s going to happen is our generation of students ... they’re going to grow up and become professors, they’re going to write their own tools, and they’re going to be based on a completely different approach from what we use today.”
His advice to fellow educators: Get ready. “This is not gonna go away,” he says. “You’re not gonna go back to the way things were. You have to accept it. The sooner that you accept that things change, the better.””Posted on 2021-09-22T15:38:25+0000
Murder in Mayfield
How veteran BBC investigative reporter Tom Mangold helped a woman in Mayfield, Kentucky, crack a murder case that local police had failed to solve.
This has it all: murder mystery, corruption in government, government incompetence, criminal coverups, and a human interest story.
“As the mystery unravelled, Susan and I spent our evenings on the phone sipping Sauvignon Blanc and quietly patting each other on the back. It had been Susan's dedication, persistence and operating skills that had broken the case where all the detectives in Mayfield and the state police had failed, through neglect and inefficiency.
In March 2007, Susan was summoned to Francfort, Kentucky, to receive the first-ever Kentucky Citizenship Award at a public ceremony.
I would like to say the story has a happy ending but that's not the case. I returned to Mayfield in 2011 to work once more with Susan and try and get answers to some outstanding questions, including why the MPD investigation had been so grotesquely ineffective. What we discovered poses troubling questions about the Mayfield police but there is still more to uncover.”Posted on 2021-09-22T07:29:52+0000
The Unbelievable Grimness of HermanCainAward, the Subreddit That Catalogs Anti-Vaxxer COVID Deaths
This is not a forum that attempts to change minds. It’s much darker.
“Nothing about the r/HermanCainAward, a dark record of a dark, dark time, is decent or kind or particularly fair. Even using Cain as the model is uncharitable; he was actually among the conservatives who didn’t deny that COVID was real. He advocated following CDC guidelines including social distancing and even masks on his radio show, despite not always adhering to those recommendations himself. I’m not sure that matters; no one could argue that a place where people gather to mock the dead is “moral,” or accuse it of hypocrisy, or of virtue signaling, or of coastal elitism. It is an anti-persuasive venue, a place that dispenses with rational appeals for people to behave better in favor of something much more primal and horrifying. And who knows? Maybe it’s persuading people specifically because it’s not trying to. “Posted on 2021-09-22T06:13:05+0000
Taming Go’s Memory Usage, or How We Avoided Rewriting Our Client in Rust — Akita Software
This blog post is about the 25 days Mark Gritter spent in the depths of despair and the details of Go memory management to save us from having to rewrite our client in Rust. This post details Mark's lessons and main takeways.
Great read on profiling and chasing down every last bit of unexpected memory usage.
“While the results we achieved are not as good as a complete rewrite in a language that lets us account for every byte, they are a huge improvement over the previous behavior. We feel that careful attention to memory usage is an important skill for systems programming, even in garbage-collected languages.”Posted on 2021-09-22T05:46:36+0000
Employee resource groups have become weapons against workers
Conversations with 11 former and current ERG members, a union organizer and a labor lawyer paint a complex picture of employee resource groups at tech companies.
“Conversations with 11 former and current ERG members, a union organizer and a labor lawyer paint a complex picture of ERGs — one that shows how these groups can sometimes function as a safe space for employees with similar backgrounds but can also do little to effect real change in the workplace. And, in some cases, workers say companies can use ERGs against them and ultimately undermine union efforts.”Posted on 2021-09-22T05:31:53+0000
Opinion | The Elizabeth Holmes Trial Is a Wake-Up Call for Sexism in Tech
In tech, brash male founders are allowed to overpromise and underdeliver, time and again. Not so much for women.
“Yet Ms. Holmes is also exceptional for the basic fact that she is a woman. Time and again, we see that the boys’ club that is the tech industry supports and protects its own — even when the costs are huge. And when the door cracks open ever so slightly to let a woman in, the same rules don’t apply. Indeed, as Ms. Holmes’s trial for fraud continues in San Jose, Calif., it’s clear that two things can be true. She should be held accountable for her actions as chief executive of Theranos. And it can be sexist to hold her accountable for alleged serious wrongdoing and not hold an array of men accountable for reports of wrongdoing or bad judgment.”Posted on 2021-09-21T04:21:05+0000
Melinda French Gates: It's Time for Paid Leave for All Workers
"It’s time to catch up to the fact that our economy is powered by people with caregiving responsibilities"
I have never heard of a policy before this where people were willing to pay extra taxes for it by this large a margin. I’m sure they exist but this is the first I’ve seen.
More leave is sorely needed for all workers IMO.
“It’s difficult in these divided times to find issues that Americans overwhelmingly agree on, but paid leave is one of them. Seventy-five percent of U.S. voters across party lines support a national paid family and medical leave policy, according to a survey conducted by Invest in America and Data for Progress. That includes 64% of Republicans and 91% of Democrats. In another survey, by the Global Strategy Group, 69% of likely voters across seven battleground states told pollsters they’d even be willing to pay more in taxes in exchange for the protection of a national law.”Posted on 2021-09-21T03:29:42+0000
A thread written by @shreyas
Since time immemorial, when a CEO asks a PM at Product Review, “what do you need to 10X users/revenue?”, “what will make you go faster?”, etc the PM steadfastly responds “We need [N] more engineers”. The Eng Mgr nods approvingly. A story thread, with some hard truths to swallow:
I kept bouncing between how this is such a well written parody of tech and the realizations that a lot of this hit too close to home.
"“More engineers” will usually *not* solve your problems. Because the real problem is often a strategy problem, culture problem, interpersonal problem, trust problem, creativity problem, or market problem. More engineers *will* solve your “I don’t have enough engineers” problem."Posted on 2021-09-21T03:05:51+0000
When McDonalds Came to Denmark – Matt Bruenig Dot Com
When McDonalds Came to Denmark Every few months, a prominent person or publication points out that McDonalds workers in Denmark receive $22 per hour, 6 weeks of vacation, and sick pay. This compensation comes on top of the general slate of social benefits in Denmark, which includes child allowances,...
“Dockworkers refused to unload containers that had McDonalds equipment in it. Printers refused to supply printed materials to the stores, such as menus and cups. Construction workers refused to build McDonalds stores and even stopped construction on a store that was already in progress but not yet complete. The typographers union refused to place McDonalds advertisements in publications, which eliminated the company’s print advertisement presence. Truckers refused to deliver food and beer to McDonalds. Food and beverage workers that worked at facilities that prepared food for the stores refused to work on McDonalds products.”Posted on 2021-09-20T16:22:30+0000
Cybersecurity’s New Superpower: Neurodiversity
With the rapid digitization of financial services, cybersecurity professionals have never been in more demand. Yet we are facing an acute talent shortage.
This was a great read.
“Beyond that, there are specific – and highly sought after - cybersecurity skills that neurodiverse people seem to excel in, such as cryptography, data analytics, and reverse malware engineering. Their different ways of processing information enable them to see patterns neurotypical people like me do not. “Posted on 2021-09-20T05:52:53+0000
The German Experiment That Placed Foster Children with Pedophiles
With the approval of the government, a renowned sexologist ran a dangerous program. How could this happen?
This was really hard to read - and I must leave it with a trigger warning.
“A few weeks after Henkel’s death, the sense of being haunted began to recede. “The freedom came slowly,” Marco told me. “It was like a hunger that grows stronger and stronger. I don’t know how to say it, but it was the first time that I figured out that I am living a life with a billion different possibilities. I could have been anything. My inner voice became stronger, my intuition that I don’t have to live my life the way he taught me, that I can keep going.””Posted on 2021-09-20T02:52:04+0000
Idaho crisis standards of care caused by unvaccinated COVID-19 patients affects us all
In all, 95-98% of the COVID-19 patients in St. Luke’s ICU beds are unvaccinated. │ Editorial
To think this was all preventable. I don’t even know where to begin with this.
“Here’s an even scarier statement, from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s strategies during crisis standards of care:
“Universal DNR Order: Adult patients hospitalized during a public health emergency, when crisis standards of care have been declared, should receive aggressive interventions; however, they should receive NO attempts at resuscitation (compressions, shocks or intubation if not yet intubated) in the event of cardiac arrest. The likelihood of survival after a cardiac arrest is extremely low for adult patients. As well, resuscitation poses significant risk to healthcare workers due to aerosolization of body fluids and uses large quantities of scarce resources such as staff time, personal protective equipment, and lifesaving medications, with minimal opportunity for benefit.””Posted on 2021-09-18T22:39:49+0000
Employers are being forced to make salaries public — and that’s good news for your paycheck
Companies have fought to keep employees in the dark about salary levels. But that's changing, thanks to a nationwide wave of "pay transparency" laws.
“The measures represent nothing short of a revolution in the way salaries are negotiated, especially in white-collar jobs. Study after study shows that greater transparency narrows pay inequities based on race and gender. That on its own is an outcome worth celebrating. But I think these new laws could end up doing even more. If enough states enact pay transparency, it could forge a new national norm — one in which companies are as upfront about salaries as they are about prices. Think about it: Every business, from tiny boutiques to online giants like Amazon, tell you exactly how much each of their items costs. Why shouldn't it be the same when we're shopping for a job? “Posted on 2021-09-15T19:48:54+0000
The housing theory of everything - Works in Progress
Western housing shortages do not just prevent many from ever affording their own home. They also drive inequality, climate change, low productivity growth, obesity, and even falling fertility rates.
Very well researched piece on society and economics. The estimated GDP losses from not building more housing was staggering - $16k per person in America (almost double the GDP loss caused by COVID). Too many data points to quote, so I’ll leave with the kicker:
“But whether this or another approach is the best solution is not the key question. What matters is that housing shortages may be the biggest problem facing our era, and solving it needs to become everyone’s highest priority. And as important as it is, we should be wary of letting it become politically tribalised: the disastrous politicisation of Covid vaccines in the United States highlights the danger of that. Some kind of creative, below-the-radar solution that turns this zero-sum game into a positive-sum one is likely to have a better chance. In a tug of war, it’s often surprising how far you can go if you tug the rope sideways.
If we’re right about this, it means that fixing this one problem could make everyone’s lives much better than almost anyone realises – not just by making houses cheaper, but giving people better jobs, a better quality of life, more cohesive communities, bigger families and healthier lives. It could even give renewed reasons to be optimistic about the future of the West.”Posted on 2021-09-15T05:55:15+0000
The Show Must Go On: Securing Netflix Studios At Scale
A Journey About Productizing Security
This was really interesting and matches stories of successes I’ve seen in my career.
“As all of these pieces came together, app teams outside Studio took notice. For a typical paved road application with no unusual security complications, a team could go from “git init” to a production-ready, fully authenticated, internet accessible application in a little less than 10 minutes. The automation of the infrastructure setup, combined with reducing risk enough to streamline security review saves developers days, if not weeks, on each application. Developers didn’t necessarily care that the original motivating factor was about security: what they saw in practice was that apps using Wall-E could get in front of users sooner, and iterate faster.”Posted on 2021-09-14T06:30:21+0000
Why Doesn't Software Show Up in Productivity? - Austin Vernon's Blog
Productivity growth has not been as fast as proponents of the "digital revolution" expected. Besides a short burst of higher productivity growth in the late 1990s and early 2000s (the higher slope portion), it is hard to see the impact.
I learnt a lot about processes, management, and business from this one.
The most interesting quote, here, though, is where the article quotes one of the Stripe cofounders:
"When we started, a lot of people told us that payments is a scale business. You'll never make it son. And only the very large companies can survive. We were like, No, you don't realize things are different." Now, that we've gotten a chance to actually become familiar in our operating. We're like, "Wow, this really is a scale business." In that, as you look at what's required in operating, payments is a business where you make literally pennies on a per transaction basis and you have to have an enormous number of them to actually be able to operate with any modicum of profitability. And you would not believe, I mean, it's fairly obvious that it's a fixed cost business and then you need to get enough business flowing through you to make the economics work. I think what's interesting is as things have moved online, the fixed costs have gone way up compared to what was needed to run a domestic only payments business. If we think about just again, going back to your "invest like the best premium model" where you got access to exclusive content, for smart people, the Patrick interviews are only available on the paid product. And so as we think about that business, and again, just Stripe to do to unlock the payment system for that. We have engineers who are based in Singapore. They have built custom integrations with the local Malaysian bank transfer system. And they actually are now friends with the people, the engineers at the local Malaysian bank transfer system, because it's still work in flies itself. And so they're kind of working with them on some of the functionality that's needed. And so that way, if you have someone, a listener who's from Malaysia, they can pay the way that they're used to doing so, not just with a credit card, but with a bank account in Malaysia. Stripe has engineers in Ireland who are similarly a French local card switch is actually different to visa Mastercards and you need to be able to support that, to be able to properly serve French customers.
And so we've just been shocked, the degree to which, if you want to be able to reach every global customer, there really are very large economies of scale with that."Posted on 2021-09-14T01:41:51+0000
App Store Payments Will Have Increased Competition | Kalzumeus Software
App Store Payments Will Have Increased Competition August 28, 2021 Late on Thursday, Apple announced some refinements to their App Store policies. The most important one is about so-called “steering”, which is the practice of letting customers know about out-of-app options for transacting with t...
This was written *before* the judge's ruling in the Apple v Epic case. But I think most of the arguments still apply and it will just be more relevant than ever.
"This improves the margin on currency purchaes from about 70% to about 85%, at a stroke, which is an incredible 20% lift for one engineering sprint.
Genshin Impact has transacted more than a billion dollars through app stores to date. Imagine that you are the PM of revenue for it. Not implementing this costs millions of dollars per week you delay.
I predict, with over 90% confidence, that games are going to implement experiences like this within 6 weeks. Genshin Impact will almost certainly roll it out by October."Posted on 2021-09-14T01:28:56+0000
9/11 was a test. The books of the last two decades show how America failed.
The books of the last two decades show how overreacting to the attacks unmade America’s values.
Incredible chronicling of the US response to 9/11, how the government approached the situation and how things played out in hindsight.
“In fact, the OLC lawyers rely on assurances from the CIA itself to endorse such powers. In a second memo from August 2002, the lawyers ruminate on the use of cramped confinement boxes. “We have no information from the medical experts you have consulted that the limited duration for which the individual is kept in the boxes causes any substantial physical pain,” the memo states. Waterboarding likewise gets a pass. “You have informed us that this procedure does not inflict actual physical harm,” the memo states. “Based on your research . . . you do not anticipate that any prolonged mental harm would result from the use of the waterboard.”
You have informed us. Experts you have consulted. Based on your research. You do not anticipate. Such hand-washing words appear throughout the memos. The Justice Department relies on information provided by the CIA to reach its conclusions; the CIA then has the cover of the Justice Department to proceed with its interrogations. It’s a perfect circle of trust.”Posted on 2021-09-12T17:36:39+0000
Video: ‘Imminent Threat’ or Aid Worker: Did a U.S. Drone Strike in Afghanistan Kill the Wrong Person?
The New York Times obtained exclusive security camera footage and witness accounts to show how the military launched a drone strike that killed 10 people in Kabul on Aug. 29 without knowing whom it was hitting.
This is quite scary.
(Trigger warning, for obvious reasons)
“The final act of the U.S. war in Afghanistan was a drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 people. Our latest investigation shows how a man the military saw as an "imminent threat" and "ISIS facilitator" was actually an aid worker returning to his family”Posted on 2021-09-11T04:20:41+0000
After 9/11, the U.S. Got Almost Everything Wrong
A mission to rid the world of “terror” and “evil” led America in tragic directions.
Worth reflecting upon. As a non-American I learnt more about the reaction to 9/11 than I knew before.
“The answer, unfortunately, will be simple: We are confronting the current crisis with little of the hope, goodwill, and unity that 9/11 initially created, and that reality is inseparable from the fear and suspicion that came to dominate America’s reaction to the 2001 attacks—and yielded a long succession of tragic consequences, cynical choices, and poisonous politics. Looking back after two decades, I can’t escape the conclusion that the enemy we ended up fighting after 9/11 was ourselves.”Posted on 2021-09-11T03:49:30+0000
Apple must allow other forms of in-app purchase, rules judge in Epic v. Apple
The app store model on trial.
I am curious to see how the ramifications of this will play out over time. Lots of ways this could go
The judge made a very informed ruling - better than a lot of tech journalism I’ve seen - it’s worth reading.
“Apple and Epic Games have been at odds for years over the transaction fee system in the iOS App Store, which Apple sees as a necessary operating cost but Epic sees as a monopolistic tax. The fight came to a head in August 2020 when Epic installed an alternative payment system in Fortnite to circumvent the App Store’s transaction fees. Apple responded by removing Fortnite from the App Store, which sparked an immediate legal complaint from Epic.”Posted on 2021-09-11T01:11:06+0000
Revealed: Google illegally underpaid thousands of workers across dozens of countries
Documents show company dragged feet to correct disparity after learning it was failing to comply with local laws in UK, Europe and Asia
"Though executives in Google’s xWS department were aware by May 2019 that the company was failing to comply with the law and underpaying workers, the company did not move quickly to correct the rates and provide back wages to those who were owed them.
Instead, it spent at least two years continuing to pay out-of-date rates while it debated internally how to come back into legal compliance without admitting what had happened, documents and emails show.
Leaders of the xWS team appeared keenly aware that admitting the problem would damage its reputation within Google by causing headaches for departments whose budgets would be effected, as well as with the staffing agencies that are liable for providing pay parity. They also expressed interest in preventing existing and former temp workers from knowing they had been underpaid, in order to prevent claims for back pay."Posted on 2021-09-10T22:34:37+0000
New Math Book Rescues Landmark Topology Proof | Quanta Magazine
Michael Freedman’s momentous 1981 proof of the four-dimensional Poincaré conjecture was on the verge of being lost. The editors of a new book are trying to save it.
“The book serves an instrumental purpose within the field of mathematics, maybe even an essential one. But the editors say that they were motivated by more than practical ends to see the long project through. When they started the work, Freedman’s proof was beautiful, but hidden. Now, at last, it’s on full display.”Posted on 2021-09-10T04:30:40+0000
How 9/11 Destroyed the Muslim Model-Minority Myth
For people in my generation, the attacks inaugurated a new political consciousness.
“So, I wrote a play about three generations of Pakistani Muslim Americans. My intention was to not only entertain, but also forge connections with other communities that had experienced the joys and sorrows of living in a country that didn’t love them back. (After all, Italians and Irish Catholics and Jews weren’t considered “white” back in the day; they were also called invaders.) But bridging divides is easier said than done. The tastemakers in the theater industry told me “the mainstream” wouldn’t care about the stories of “ethnic characters.” They told me to add white characters, remove all the Urdu and Arabic dialogue, and introduce terrorism plots. One producer even suggested I cast the actor Ted Danson as the middle-aged Pakistani immigrant father.”Posted on 2021-09-09T15:42:29+0000
Announcing Axum | Tokio - An asynchronous Rust runtime
Tokio is a runtime for writing reliable asynchronous applications with Rust. It provides async I/O, networking, scheduling, timers, and more.
Not sure how I missed this one earlier. Bookmarking for later use.
“In particular the last point is what sets axum apart from existing frameworks. axum doesn't have its own middleware system but instead uses tower::Service. This means axum gets timeouts, tracing, compression, authorization, and more, for free. It also enables you to share middleware with applications written using hyper or tonic.”Posted on 2021-09-09T05:46:50+0000
The Gmail app takes calls now, too, because Google wants it to do everything
The transformation into communication suite is complete.
What is going on I don’t even know how to parse this statement
“To begin, Google is adding the ability to “ring” another Google user with Google Meet — but inside the Gmail mobile app, not inside the Meet app. When the feature rolls out and turns on, your Gmail app will be able to be called just like any other VOIP app (in addition to being able to join Google Meet meetings). Google says the standalone Meet app will get the same ability to place calls, not just create group meetings, at some point in the future.”Posted on 2021-09-09T05:24:19+0000
The 'megacomet' Bernardinelli-Bernstein is the find of a decade. Here's the discovery explained.
The scientists that found Comet Bernardinelli-Bernstein are an unlikely pair.
“Although they didn't set out to find such an important comet, both Bernardinelli and Bernstein said that their unexpected discovery this summer has given them a new appreciation for the dirty iceballs rattling around the outer solar system.
"I will still have my day job, I think, of cosmology," Bernstein said. But still, "it's been enjoyable, I've really learned a lot about comets."”Posted on 2021-09-09T03:41:29+0000
Ok. So, You Can't Decide.
Even if you've checked your work, asked for all the help, and are moving gingerly, there will be decisions where you can't decide. You've considered and reconsidered your pro/con lists, you've had endless debates with informed humans, but you remain mentally paralyzed. I have an observation regardi
“Yeah… yeah. I am reluctantly suggesting that the move is sometimes to just yolo decide. There is a real risk here, but if you’ve built yourself a formidable mental block, you’re wasting precious time swirling around your head and it’s time to make forward progress.”Posted on 2021-09-09T01:43:29+0000
The 60-Year-Old Scientific Screwup That Helped Covid Kill
All pandemic long, scientists brawled over how the virus spreads. Droplets! No, aerosols! At the heart of the fight was a teensy error with huge consequences.
Interesting bit of human interest story and scientific history.
“In early May, the CDC made similar changes to its Covid-19 guidance, now placing the inhalation of aerosols at the top of its list of how the disease spreads. Again though, no news conference, no press release. But Marr, of course, noticed. That evening, she got in her car to pick up her daughter from gymnastics. She was alone with her thoughts for the first time all day. As she waited at a red light, she suddenly burst into tears. Not sobbing, but unable to stop the hot stream of tears pouring down her face. Tears of exhaustion, and relief, but also triumph. Finally, she thought, they’re getting it right, because of what we’ve done.”Posted on 2021-09-08T08:18:40+0000
Let Your Top Performers Move Around the Company
It’s a critical way to retain talent and upskill your workforce.
“An active culture of talent mobility can help minimize complacency and create an environment of healthy change — and with it an agile environment that can handle the unexpected. If you are interested in improving agility, it’s time to include some healthy internal mobility and create more talent magnets throughout your organization.”Posted on 2021-09-08T06:46:59+0000
How Slack changed Apple’s employee culture, with Zoë Schiffer
A once secretive company is finally opening up.
Zoe’s recent reporting on Apple has been quite interesting. Here is a recap of all the stuff that has happened, primarily over the last month. While this is focused on Apple, I’ve been taking away a lot of lessons as they relate to other companies too.
“I think that this is a real thing. I think there’s this feeling internally now that the executives are a little out of touch. The executives are saying, “Oh, come back to the office,” and the lower-level employees are like, “Well yeah, because you live five minutes from the office in this absolute mansion, and you’ve had this commute for 20 years, and you love it. We’re not in the same boat. We live an hour and a half outside of Cupertino. We’re not trying to go back to that life.” They feel like executives want things to go back to the way things always were, but the world has changed, and Apple can’t get back.”Posted on 2021-09-08T03:54:56+0000
The Other Afghan Women
In the countryside, the endless killing of civilians turned women against the occupiers who claimed to be helping them.
If you read one article this month, read this. It’s a heartbreaking story of the human cost of the Afghan war - as told by various locals in the rural areas, with life events and history spanning back 20+ years. People fight and debate over who’s right and wrong and discuss various complex issues while forgetting the real and actual human toll this takes on people. One of the best pieces I’ve read in a long time, and I have a lot to think about and ponder.
There were too many quotes to pick out, including some absolutely rage inducing mistakes made by various governments, but I’ll leave with this one near the end:
“The Taliban takeover has restored order to the conservative countryside while plunging the comparatively liberal streets of Kabul into fear and hopelessness. This reversal of fates brings to light the unspoken premise of the past two decades: if U.S. troops kept battling the Taliban in the countryside, then life in the cities could blossom. This may have been a sustainable project—the Taliban were unable to capture cities in the face of U.S. airpower. But was it just? Can the rights of one community depend, in perpetuity, on the deprivation of rights in another? In Sangin, whenever I brought up the question of gender, village women reacted with derision. “They are giving rights to Kabul women, and they are killing women here,” Pazaro said. “Is this justice?” Marzia, from Pan Killay, told me, “This is not ‘women’s rights’ when you are killing us, killing our brothers, killing our fathers.” Khalida, from a nearby village, said, “The Americans did not bring us any rights. They just came, fought, killed, and left.””Posted on 2021-09-07T05:38:33+0000
A Generation of American Men Give Up on College: ‘I Just Feel Lost’
The number of men enrolled at two- and four-year colleges has fallen behind women by record levels, in a widening education gap across the U.S.
The data here is quite staggering. I do wonder what’s going on causation wise. It’s confusing to me because right after the below paragraph is a datapoint that white men (and men in general) of a certain income bracket tend to have less college attendance than women anyway.
“The college gender gap cuts across race, geography and economic background. For the most part, white men—once the predominant group on American campuses—no longer hold a statistical edge in enrollment rates, said Mr. Mortenson, of the Pell Institute. Enrollment rates for poor and working-class white men are lower than those of young Black, Latino and Asian men from the same economic backgrounds, according to an analysis of census data by the Pell Institute for the Journal.”Posted on 2021-09-07T03:29:46+0000
ZFS Is Mysteriously Eating My CPU
ZFS Is Mysteriously Eating My CPU
This was an interesting debugging story.
“Unbelievable! All the counters were zero! ZFS really wasn't in use, ever! But at the same time, it was eating over 30% of CPU capacity! Whaaat??
The customer had been right all along. ZFS was straight up eating CPU, and for no reason.
How can a file system that's not in use at all consume 38% CPU? I'd never seen this before. This was a mystery.”Posted on 2021-09-06T04:37:56+0000
Bosses turn to ‘tattleware’ to keep tabs on employees working from home
The pandemic prompted a surge in the use of workplace surveillance programs – and they’re not going away any time soon
Uh.. this sounds like a horrible abuse of privacy and also counter productive. If you don’t trust your employees, that’s a much bigger problem that won’t be solved by tools like this.
“Every minute or so, the program would capture a live photo of David and his workmates via their company laptop webcams. The ever-changing headshots were splayed across the wall of a digital conference waiting room that everyone on the team could see. Clicking on a colleague’s face would unilaterally pull them into a video call. If you were lucky enough to catch someone goofing off or picking their nose, you could forward the offending image to a team chat via Sneek’s integration with the messaging platform Slack.
According to the Sneek co-founder Del Currie, the software is meant to replicate the office. “We know lots of people will find it an invasion of privacy, we 100% get that, and it’s not the solution for those folks,” Currie says. “But there’s also lots of teams out there who are good friends and want to stay connected when they’re working together.””Posted on 2021-09-05T23:05:20+0000
Costa Ricans Live Longer Than Us. What’s the Secret?
We’ve starved our public-health sector. The Costa Rica model demonstrates what happens when you put it first.
This is an inspiring read. It combines a human interest story - going over the lives of some doctors and patients - with public policy, healthcare, and medial outcomes being contrasted across countries. I wish more countries followed this model.
“The results are enviable. Since the development of the ebais system, deaths from communicable diseases have fallen by ninety-four per cent, and decisive progress has been made against non-communicable diseases as well. It’s not just that Costa Rica has surpassed America’s life expectancy while spending less on health care as a percentage of income; it actually spends less than the world average. The biggest gain these days is in the middle years of life. For people between fifteen and sixty years of age, the mortality rate in Costa Rica is 8.7 per cent, versus 11.2 per cent in the U.S.—a thirty-per-cent difference. But older people do better, too: in Costa Rica, the average sixty-year-old survives another 24.2 years, compared with 23.6 years in the U.S.”Posted on 2021-09-05T22:55:51+0000
Freakonomics: What Went Wrong?
Examination of a very popular popular-statistics series reveals avoidable errors
I need to revisit my priors and reconsider what I learnt from it. Sigh.
“And it doesn’t even always mean “easy read”: Readers should apply the same skepticism to the claims of Freakonomics as they would to the much-derided conventional wisdom. We encourage them to revisit these modern-day classics with a skeptical and inquiring mind. And we hope that future works in the pop-statistics genre will continue to impart a sense of the fun and importance of statistical reasoning, while more clearly recognizing the uncertainty and complexity inherent in scientific study of the world.”Posted on 2021-09-05T01:33:17+0000
Why Making More Chips Is So Hard
Factories start at $15 billion—and cost is the easy part.
Been learning a lot more about the chip shortage and supply chains in general lately. Lots of interesting stuff.
“Chips consist of as many as 100 layers of materials. These are deposited, then partially removed, to form complex three-dimensional structures that connect all the tiny transistors. Some of these layers are just one atom thin. Machines made by Applied Materials Inc., Lam Research Corp. and Tokyo Electron Ltd. juggle a host of variables, such as temperature, pressure, and electrical and magnetic fields, to make this happen.”Posted on 2021-09-05T01:25:42+0000
Opinion | Good News: There’s a Labor Shortage.
Workers have decided they're not content to settle for demeaning, low-paid work. Can employers take the hint?
“Let’s entertain a third possibility. People’s valuation of their own time has changed: Americans are less eager to do low-paid, often dead-end service and hospitality work, deciding instead that more time on family, education and leisure makes for a higher standard of living, even if it means less consumption.
If the lack of enthusiasm for bad jobs lasts, does this bode ill for the U.S. economy? The answer is no — and here’s why: The U.S. doesn’t have a job quantity problem; instead, it has a job quality problem.”Posted on 2021-09-05T00:33:36+0000
Doctors Say Texas Leaders Failed To Stop COVID-19 From Spreading | Houston Public Media
Hospitals across the state are running low on pediatric intensive care unit beds. Texas’ Department of State Health Services says only 81 of them remain — and just a couple hundred more regular ICU beds are available in the state of 29 million people.
So much preventable death :(
“Eight counties across the state are using refrigerated trucks to store the bodies of the dead. Bell County which includes Temple, Texas, has requested a second FEMA trailer with an extra storage capacity of 50 bodies. Several smaller trailers have been donated by the state funeral directors association.
As more schools see spikes in COVID transmissions, more teachers and students will become infected and could die.”Posted on 2021-09-04T16:41:47+0000
We All Owe Monica Lewinsky an Apology
What was it about Monica that made her such a target?
“I was reminded of all this as I watched an advance screener of Impeachment with my 17-year-old son. During a particularly galling scene, which incorporated footage of Jay Leno making sexual jokes, my son turned to me and asked: “So people in the 1990s were just dicks?”
“Well…” I thought about it for a minute. “They kind of were, but there was more to it.””Posted on 2021-09-04T05:38:45+0000
So … What If Aliens’ Quantum Computers Explain Dark Energy?
A wild thought experiment by Jaron Lanier and physicist Stephon Alexander concerning gravitons, virtual reality, and Incan khipu.
This was a very engaging read; now I feel like I need to get the book.
“You might just take this as a sign that the computers don’t exist, but let’s keep working with the idea that they do. If you want to reduce the heat a computer generates and you have a huge amount of memory, you have an amazing design option, which is called a reversible computer. That means that you change each bit in the whole computer only once, and then move on to another bit. That results in a total record of all computation—and that’s why it’s possible to run the computer in reverse: Nothing has been lost. If you move each bead in an extremely capacious abacus only once, you don’t generate the heat you would by moving each bead repeatedly. You can think of it as saving all the information in a tidy way instead of dispersing it. This is also a nice example of Claude Shannon’s famous principle that information and entropy are related.”Posted on 2021-09-03T06:38:35+0000
Opinion | Here’s what the media got completely wrong on Afghanistan
The war in Afghanistan was far, far different from how it has been depicted in American media.
Well worth the read.
“So really, you had a one-sided war in those years, between 2001 and 2004, where the U.S. was fighting an enemy that didn't exist, and innocent people were the ones who were suffering. That really is what created the Taliban's resurgence. The Taliban wasn't a popular force in 2001, but in these communities, people saw the Taliban as a lesser of two evils to the violence perpetuated by the U.S. and by the U.S. proxies.”Posted on 2021-09-02T07:25:39+0000
Long-Haulers Are Fighting for Their Future
Many people with long COVID feel that science is failing them. Neglecting them could make the pandemic even worse.
“The risk is that long COVID becomes yet another neglected disease whereby some uncounted number of people become debilitatingly sick every year and fruitlessly bang for help on the door of an unconcerned medical establishment. But a better future is also possible, in which long-haulers—vocal, united, and numerous—finally galvanize research into the long-term consequences of viral infections; in which such research proceeds quickly as patient experts become partners; in which the world gets ways of preventing and treating long COVID, ME/CFS, and other marginalized conditions; and in which the ents’ interminable meeting ends in action and victory.”Posted on 2021-09-02T07:18:12+0000
The Supreme Court Overturned Roe v. Wade in the Most Cowardly Manner Imaginable
In a threadbare, unsigned order released at midnight, five justices functionally abolished the right to abortion.
“It was predictable that the Supreme Court would abandon Roe after Barrett replaced Ginsburg. But it is still “stunning,” as Sotomayor put it, that it would do so at midnight on a Wednesday in a shadow docket order with a few slapdash sentences of opaque reasoning. It is stunning, too, that the court would issue this order nearly a full day after it silently allowed Texas’ law to take effect. The majority’s decision reflects flagrant contempt for the right to abortion and a cynical tolerance for Republican politicians’ endless schemes to abolish it. The majority did not have the patience to wait until its coming term, when it will have the opportunity to overturn Roe the normal way, with full briefing, oral arguments, and a signed opinion. Nor did it have the courage to cop to its real view—that there is no constitutional right to abortion. Instead, the ultra-conservative majority upended Roe under the cover of a procedural punt.
The Constitution deserved better. Abortion patients in Texas deserved better. The country deserved better. Instead, five Republican-appointed justices have stripped women in the nation’s second-largest state of their reproductive autonomy. And they did so in the most cowardly, dishonest, and shameful manner imaginable.”Posted on 2021-09-02T06:52:08+0000
Texas 6-week abortion ban takes effect after Supreme Court inaction
A controversial Texas law that bars abortions at six weeks went into effect early Wednesday morning after the Supreme Court and a federal appeals court failed to rule on pending emergency requests brought by abortion providers.
Does this mean Roe v Wade has now been gutted and will be overturned?
“The Supreme Court's failure to respond prompted a furious backlash from supporters of abortion rights just after the law went into effect.
"Access to almost all abortion has just been cut off for millions of people, the impact will be immediate and devastating," the ACLU said in a tweet.”Posted on 2021-09-01T05:57:07+0000