The New York Times Buys Wordle
The word game, released in October, has millions of daily users.
I did not see this coming. On the balance I’m happy - this is great for the author and does a good job of promoting products that are nice and sustainable and bring joy to people - without focusing on growth hacking or other negative things.
“The purchase, announced by The Times on Monday, reflects the growing importance of games, like crosswords and Spelling Bee, in the company’s quest to increase digital subscriptions to 10 million by 2025.
Wordle was acquired from its creator, Josh Wardle, a software engineer in Brooklyn, for a price “in the low seven figures,” The Times said. The company said the game would initially remain free to new and existing players.”Posted on 2022-01-31T22:16:59+0000
Pre-K is day care
But free day care does sound like a good idea!
“Giving every parent the option of enrolling their kids in a free, government-run pre-K program (i.e., day care center) sounds like a pretty good idea. It won’t force kids to enroll in pre-K if their parents decide their alternatives are better. But it would relieve any parent of the financial burden of paying for child care, if they so choose. That would allow more poor and working-class parents to go into the workforce, earning more money to feed and educate and help their families. And it would increase national output in the bargain, since day care leverages those all-important economies of scale (and in fact, measured output would go up by even more than actual output, since unpaid parenting labor isn’t counted in GDP).”Posted on 2022-01-31T17:30:18+0000
Game Performance Optimization - A Practical Example From Industry Idle
Game performance is hard, maybe not as hard as making a game deterministic. Both require disciplines, which do not come out of the box with programming language and tooling. It’s generally a good idea not to worry too much about performance while adding new game features. Because trying to kill tw...
Great read on optimizing (web) games. And I have another game to add to my list now!
“That’s all the optimization I’ve done in this iteration. Even though all examples are from my game with a relatively non-mainstream tech stack, the principles can be applied to elsewhere as well.”Posted on 2022-01-31T04:07:47+0000
The Disillusionment of a Young Biden Official
Andrea Flores’s efforts to roll back Trump’s immigration policies faced opposition inside and outside the White House.
This story is both inspirational (in how Andrea overcame so many challenges in life to get where she was and make meaningful impact on immigrants) and depressing (in how much she had to over come and the constant resistance in the administration to treat people like humans).
“She recalled many times in her career when someone had politely but firmly told her that she needed to be more dispassionate on immigration issues. “My name is Flores, and on the first impression many people believe that my family recently arrived in the United States,” she told me. “That caused doubts. People assume I’m a bleeding heart before they hear my ideas, and that’s always been a challenge.””Posted on 2022-01-30T08:39:03+0000
California’s Lost (and Found) Punjabi-Mexican Cuisine
Rasul’s El Ranchero created a roti quesadilla for a very specific community — a half-century before Indian fusion food became trendy
Come for the food, stay for the great human interest stories, inspirational community building stories, and lessons into America’s super racist past.
“Today, chefs are thinking about marketing; they’re trying to get customers in the door, and they’re being deliberate about the flavors and culinary traditions they’re combining. But for Rasul’s El Ranchero, catering to Punjabi Mexicans born in the first half of the century, the roti quesadilla was more than just something new and different — it represented the organic community of Punjabis and Mexicans brought together by a confluence of immigration policies, labor laws, and cultural similarities. “We love food. So whatever the inspiration, it’s all good,” English says, when asked about restaurants selling the food she ate at home without acknowledging the history. “But there is something to be said for family comfort food recipes.””Posted on 2022-01-30T07:08:37+0000
The Battle for the World’s Most Powerful Cyberweapon
A Times investigation reveals how Israel reaped diplomatic gains around the world from NSO’s Pegasus spyware — a tool America itself purchased but is now trying to ban.
Great reporting and a scary read. Goes into geopolitics, warfare, and just how important cyber security is becoming these days as a military strategy. And even as a diplomatic tool!
“NSO had recently offered the F.B.I. a workaround. During a presentation to officials in Washington, the company demonstrated a new system, called Phantom, that could hack any number in the United States that the F.B.I. decided to target. Israel had granted a special license to NSO, one that permitted its Phantom system to attack U.S. numbers. The license allowed for only one type of client: U.S. government agencies. A slick brochure put together for potential customers by NSO’s U.S. subsidiary, first published by Vice, says that Phantom allows American law enforcement and spy agencies to get intelligence “by extracting and monitoring crucial data from mobile devices.” It is an “independent solution” that requires no cooperation from AT&T, Verizon, Apple or Google. The system, it says, will “turn your target’s smartphone into an intelligence gold mine.””Posted on 2022-01-29T19:16:36+0000
A Solution to the Faint-Sun Paradox Reveals a Narrow Window for Life | Quanta Magazine
Back when the sun was 30% dimmer, Earth should have frozen solid. Yet water flowed and life blossomed. The solution to the paradox shows that we might have that faint sun to owe for life’s existence —…
“We know that life under our faint young sun was possible, and now we might know why. What we are starting to see is just how lucky we may have been in avoiding becoming a permanent snowball Earth or even a steam Earth. Somehow, conditions were just right on our planet, keeping us in this narrow window between being frozen solid and evaporating to oblivion, and allowing us to survive — despite a few near misses. “There’s a huge discussion about the requirements for habitability,” said Feulner. “Even on Earth, things could have gone wrong easily.””Posted on 2022-01-29T08:30:36+0000
Indignity Vol. 2, No. 7: The American sickness
FOREIGN POLICY DEP'T.
“The countries that have stopped the virus, that is, cannot keep stopping the virus, because the experts say there is already too much of the virus circulating. China is a pandemic waiting to happen because the United States is wholeheartedly committed to being a pandemic. The American program, they say, will be the program for the entire world. “Posted on 2022-01-27T07:47:57+0000
AG Ferguson investigation shuts down Amazon price-fixing program nationwide | Washington State
Amazon will pay $2.25 million, stop its “Sold by Amazon” third-party seller program SEATTLE — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced that, as a result of his office’s price-fixing investigation, Amazon will shut down the “Sold by Amazon” program nationwide. The Attorney General’...
"As a result, when prices increased, some sellers experienced a marked decline in the sales and resulting profits from products enrolled in the program. Faced with price increases, online customers sometimes opted to buy Amazon’s own branded products — particularly its private label products. This resulted in Amazon maximizing its own profits regardless of whether consumers paid a higher price for sales of products enrolled in the “Sold by Amazon” program or settled for buying the same or similar product offered through Amazon."Posted on 2022-01-27T03:21:45+0000
Flaws plague a tool meant to help low-risk federal prisoners win early release
The Justice Department created an algorithm to measure a person's risk of committing a new crime after leaving prison. But even after multiple tweaks, the tool is leading to racial disparities.
Sigh. Algorithms are not neutral, example N+1:
“In a report issued days before Christmas in 2021, the department said its algorithmic tool for assessing the risk that a person in prison would return to crime produced uneven results. The algorithm, known as Pattern, overpredicted the risk that many Black, Hispanic and Asian people would commit new crimes or violate rules after leaving prison.”Posted on 2022-01-26T20:31:12+0000
Mathematicians Clear Hurdle in Quest to Decode Primes | Quanta Magazine
Paul Nelson has solved the subconvexity problem, bringing mathematicians one step closer to understanding the Riemann hypothesis and the distribution of prime numbers.
“Now mathematicians will march their subconvex bound off to face other problems, maybe even including the Riemann hypothesis one day. That may seem far-fetched right now, but math thrives on hope, and at the very least, Nelson’s new proof has provided that.”Posted on 2022-01-26T06:22:51+0000
A Right-Wing Supreme Court Keeps Pretending Laws Say Things They Do Not
The Supreme Court vaccine mandate cases show how the conservative justices are weaponizing the law to implement GOP politics.
“But the Court’s five Republican justices ignored both the clear language and purpose of the law, erecting numerous extratextual bars that make it all but impossible to win a case like this without showing discriminatory intent. As Justice Elena Kagan wrote in an unanswerable dissent, Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion for the Court was a “law-free zone,” basing its holding on “on a list of mostly made-up factors.” (Among them: The majority invented a rule that restrictions on the vote that existed when the Voting Rights Act was enacted should be presumptively constitutional, which, if true, would sort of obviate the purpose of a Voting Rights Act in the first place.) “Posted on 2022-01-26T04:59:51+0000
Why Agatha Christie could afford a maid and a nanny but not a car
The counterintuitive principle that explains the modern world.
This was an interesting economic perspective using an analog of systems thinking. I don’t fully agree with everything here (am not qualified to judge it all though) but the material resonated with me.
“Very few Americans have maids today because we don’t have a substantial labor force willing to work for a few thousand dollars a year. That in itself is a clear sign that living standards have risen substantially, even if reasonable people can disagree about exactly how large the improvement has been.”Posted on 2022-01-26T03:52:45+0000
How Paul Giamatti broke the California wine industry
New data on the Sideways effect
“These roughly five or six seconds of dialogue had a profound effect on popular perceptions of Merlot and, in turn, on the entire California wine industry. According to a new study published in the Journal of Wine Economics (no, I did not make that up), in the years following Sideways’ release the price of Merlot fell and California wineries converted thousands of acres of Merlot grapes into the varietal preferred by Giamatti’s character in the film: Pinot Noir.”Posted on 2022-01-25T07:44:42+0000
The Case for the Talking Filibuster
Sure, it has its drawbacks, but forcing politicians to stand on the Senate floor for hours at a time, monologuing, might be the only way to pass desperately needed voting rights legislation.
I needed something to read for 10 minutes so I got curious and looked up some stuff on the filibuster and had to suffer through this article so I’m sharing it here in case anyone else wants to do similarly.
Jokes aside the content here is still somewhat relevant for the historical analysis even though we can now see which predictions worked out and which ones didn’t.
“Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson had staged the all-night session in a desperate attempt to break a Southern filibuster against a voting rights bill. His army of Northern Democrats and party-of-Lincoln Republicans were sleeping on Army cots nearby, ready to show up groggily for 3 a.m. quorum calls to prevent the Senate from adjourning. Meanwhile, 18 members of the segregationist Southern Caucus held the floor in four-hour shifts, which was about as long as their legs could take it. As North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin (later the hero of the Watergate hearings) said after ending his stint at the microphone, “My throat is fine, but I could feel it in my knees.””Posted on 2022-01-25T07:30:54+0000
How I Got Pwned by My Cloud Costs
I have been, and still remain, a massive proponent of "the cloud". I built Have I Been Pwned (HIBP) as a cloud-first service that took advantage of modern cloud paradigms such as Azure Table Storage to massively drive down costs at crazy levels of performance I never could have achieved
Cloud costs are always scary. It's very easy to run up a huge bill without realizing what's going on.
"I have been, and still remain, a massive proponent of "the cloud". I built Have I Been Pwned (HIBP) as a cloud-first service that took advantage of modern cloud paradigms such as Azure Table Storage to massively drive down costs at crazy levels of performance I never could have achieved before. I wrote many blog posts about doing big things for small dollars and did talks all over the world about the great success I'd had with these approaches. One such talk was How I Pwned My Cloud Costs so it seems apt that today, I write about the exact opposite: how my cloud costs pwned me."Posted on 2022-01-25T05:40:51+0000
The inside story of Facebook Marketplace
A guest post by Deb Liu
This was a great read, chronicling the origin and growth of Facebook marketplace behind the scenes. I learnt a bunch of stuff about product growth and insights.
"Immediately upon launch, we also noticed that search numbers were incredibly low. Our Research team showed buyers two test phones: one with Marketplace and one with a different local classifieds service. They then asked them to “find an iPhone to buy.” On Facebook, users immediately started to scroll, whereas on other apps, they searched. This led us to realize that people on Facebook had learned never to use the search bar except when searching for people. We addressed this by putting a large search button next to the search bar, which our designers grudgingly allowed. This changed the trajectory of the search participation rate, and even when we removed the button, searches remained at the new, higher level."Posted on 2022-01-25T05:11:15+0000
Is Ginni Thomas a Threat to the Supreme Court?
Behind closed doors, Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife is working with many groups directly involved in controversial cases before the Court.
This is a very damning expose. I knew of the corruption allegations involving Ginni Thomas (especially how she funded the Jan 6 insurrection) but the level of detail in here is something else.
“For Dinielli, the idea that a Justice’s spouse belonged to a group that had urged its members to repeatedly attack his organization was “counter to everything you’d expect if you want to get a fair shake” before the Court. He explained, “These activities aren’t just political. They’re aimed at raising up or denigrating actors specifically in front of the Supreme Court. She’s one step away from holding up a sign in front of her husband saying ‘This person is a pedophile.’ ”
Dinielli went on, “The Justices sit literally above where the lawyers are. For these people to do the job they were tasked with, they have to maintain that level. But this degrades it, mocks it, and threatens it.” He warned, “Since the Court doesn’t have an army, it relies on how it behaves to command respect. Once the veneer cracks, it’s very hard to get it back.” “Posted on 2022-01-22T05:54:17+0000
Google Team That Keeps Services Online Rocked by Mental Health Crisis
Members of the search giant’s site reliability group say managers fostered a toxic environment. Google says a ‘safe, inclusive workplace’ is a top priority.
This story is so infuriating and scary. So many terrible examples in here, and of course the accused failed up and was promoted.
What I found really jarring:
1) HR acknowledged the person was given feedback but no policies were violated. This doesn’t make sense given the quote below, but also with multiple googlers calling this out as something brought up in annual training
2) multiple googlers on twitter (will link the thread) back up similar feelings, and go on to say many others have done similar things.
“Especially jarring, according to these employees, was Aubert’s treatment of Shari McHenry, who at the time handled budgeting and made sure there were enough machines in place to run each digital service. Aubert gave many of her responsibilities to a newly recruited male manager, who wasn’t ready or able to take on the duty for months. In an interview, McHenry said Aubert began saying to people on the team, “Can’t Shari retire? She should have enough money.” Almost 60 at the time, McHenry said she had no plans to leave.”Posted on 2022-01-21T17:10:57+0000
Zooming in on Zero-click Exploits
Posted by Natalie Silvanovich, Project Zero Zoom is a video conferencing platform that has gained popularity throughout the pandemic. U...
Great read on bug finding and exploitation.
"Still, my largest concern in this assessment was the lack of ASLR in the Zoom MMR server. ASLR is arguably the most important mitigation in preventing exploitation of memory corruption, and most other mitigations rely on it on some level to be effective. There is no good reason for it to be disabled in the vast majority of software. There has recently been a push to reduce the susceptibility of software to memory corruption vulnerabilities by moving to memory-safe languages and implementing enhanced memory mitigations, but this relies on vendors using the security measures provided by the platforms they write software for. All software written for platforms that support ASLR should have it (and other basic memory mitigations) enabled."Posted on 2022-01-21T04:35:47+0000
Roblox Return to Service 10/28-10/31 2021 - Roblox Blog
Starting October 28th and fully resolving on October 31st, Roblox experienced a 73-hour outage. We’re sharing these technical details to give our community an understanding of the root cause of the problem, how we addressed it, and what we are doing to prevent similar issues from happening in the ...
This was a really well written postmortem. It covers a lot of ground on issues that pop up when running distributed systems. From the low-level (NUMA cache coherency) to the high level (latency, replication, rolling restarts, circular dependencies), it really has it all.
Worth reading for anyone trying to learn about systems at scale.
"Roblox’s core infrastructure runs in Roblox data centers. We deploy and manage our own hardware, as well as our own compute, storage, and networking systems on top of that hardware. The scale of our deployment is significant, with over 18,000 servers and 170,000 containers."Posted on 2022-01-21T04:26:02+0000
A Dam in Syria Was on a ‘No- Strike’ List. The U.S. Bombed It Anyway.
A military report warned that striking the giant structure could cause tens of thousands of deaths.
Does this meet the definition of a war crime?
Either way, the engineers that ran in to prevent a catastrophe are heroes.
“The Islamic State, the Syrian government and Russia blamed the United States, but the dam was on the U.S. military’s “no-strike list” of protected civilian sites and the commander of the U.S. offensive at the time, then-Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, said allegations of U.S. involvement were based on “crazy reporting.”
“The Tabqa Dam is not a coalition target,” he declared emphatically two days after the blasts.
In fact, members of a top secret U.S. Special Operations unit called Task Force 9 had struck the dam using some of the largest conventional bombs in the U.S. arsenal, including at least one BLU-109 bunker-buster bomb designed to destroy thick concrete structures, according to two former senior officials. And they had done it despite a military report warning not to bomb the dam, because the damage could cause a flood that might kill tens of thousands of civilians.”Posted on 2022-01-20T20:28:41+0000
Police in this tiny Alabama town suck drivers into legal ‘black hole’
Using unmarked police cars and uniforms without insignia, the town with no traffic lights collected $487 in fines and forfeitures in 2020 for every man, woman and child. Total town income more than doubled from 2018 to 2020 – from $582,000 to more than $1.2 million – as fines and forfeitures ros...
This is just blatant corruption - turned the place into a town that’s owned by the police department and with the sole purpose of generating revenue. Half the budget comes from tickets?!
“Jones — again as Mayor Bryan nodded — said the goal of the department is only to help people.
“It’s not about making a dollar,” Jones said.
Yet the town with no traffic lights collected $487 in fines and forfeitures in 2020 for every man, woman and child, though many of those fined were merely passing by on I-22.
Total town income more than doubled from 2018 to 2020 – from $582,000 to more than $1.2 million – as fines and forfeitures rose 640%.”Posted on 2022-01-20T03:38:12+0000
How an Undercover Cop Having Sex With Activists Killed a Climate Movement
Mark Kennedy spent seven years pretending to be a climate activist. People he deceived are still rebuilding their lives.
This story has it all: a married undercover cop lying about himself to get into relationships with women so he could sabotage the climate movements; police denials, cross-border espionage. Where do I even begin?
I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of this before, and sadly curious how much long lasting damage will have been done due to this setback.
“The court decision this fall, which was major news across much of Europe but barely noticed in the U.S. and Canada, was the result of a 10-year legal battle by Wilson. “In terms of emotional closure, it’s all quite complicated,” she said. “In the end, the judgment was a much bigger victory than I expected it to be.”
The ruling was a vindication for dozens of other women who have come forward across the UK saying they also were deceived into sexual relationships with undercover officers. The tribunal will now be deciding what damages Wilson should receive. “Posted on 2022-01-19T20:32:48+0000
GPS – Bartosz Ciechanowski
Interactive article explaining how GPS works.
I’ve been trying to read more science/math content lately and this is hands down the best thing I’ve read in a year. I had known the basics of GPS and how it works, but this breaks it down so well, with amazing interactive visualizations so you can understand the material. The content itself also starts with some basic geometry, then expands into math, physics (including some relativity), and then even into signal processing. Lots of gems here, highly recommend reading this one.
One of these days I hope to be able to write educational material this well. Will have to go over more stuff on this blog!
“It’s hard not get inspired by the relentless drive of people who kept pushing science and technology forward. All of their work made GPS an indispensable tool in our everyday life.”Posted on 2022-01-19T08:04:01+0000
Becoming a Better Writer in Tech
Writing is an increasingly important skill for engineering leaders. Indeed, poor writing can hamper career progression, above a certain level. Tactics for more clear, more frequent and more confident. I’ve observed that my writing is not up to par with my peers. How can I improve my professional w...
Felt myself nodding along throughout. This was an excellent read just like all the other content on his blog.
“Technical skills combined with writing skills are a superpower in a world that is increasingly writing-heavy. Writing skill takes time to build and the best time to start doing so is now. Good luck on your writing journey!”Posted on 2022-01-19T06:47:43+0000
Why Timnit Gebru Isn’t Waiting for Big Tech to Fix AI's Problems
'We need to let people who are harmed by technology imagine the future that they want,' Gebru tells TIME
Great read. It’s a human interest story intertwined with ethical and technical discussions of how we must approach AI responsibly.
“The paper that Gebru and her colleagues wrote is now “essentially canon” in the field of responsible AI, according to Rumman Chowdhury, the director of Twitter’s machine-learning ethics, transparency and accountability team. She says it cuts to the core of the questions that ethical AI researchers are attempting to get Big Tech companies to reckon with: “What are we building? Why are we building it? And who is it impacting?”
But Google’s management was not happy.”Posted on 2022-01-19T06:30:26+0000
The Link Between Adult ADHD and Fatigue
Working twice as hard for half as much is tiring.
“The purpose of this discussion, though, is to focus on dealing with adult ADHD itself as a source of fatigue. I lifted the subtitle—twice as hard for half as much—from the late Steve Copps, a physician who specialized in adult ADHD before it was widely recognized. The phrase was the title of one of his presentations that he generously shared with me when we first met. Although there are many equally apt descriptions of adult ADHD, I’ve not yet come across a better one.”Posted on 2022-01-19T06:17:49+0000
He dedicated years of his life to QAnon. One day made him question it all.
QAnon led Justin to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. What he saw that day would start leading him away from the conspiracy movement.
“A few Trump supporters pleaded with the crowd to stop pushing and were quickly overruled. The throng began to push forward. A few in the crowd managed to wrestle away parts of the gate from police, and Trump supporters filed up the stairs. At the top, some draped the Capitol steps with an oversized flag that read, “Trump.”
The mob, the flag, the violence. Justin thought: It didn’t feel right.
“It got me,” he later said. “I was supposed to be a part of a movement, but did I just get duped?’””Posted on 2022-01-18T21:24:26+0000
A Return to Robo-Signing: JPMorgan Chase Has Unleashed a Lawsuit Blitz on Credit Card Customers
After a nearly decade-long pause, Chase has resumed suing indebted customers. The bank is back to its old ways, say consumer lawyers.
This is some excellent journalism and brings about questions of morality re: ethics and our legal system.
Chase was ordered to stop the predatory and illegal practice of filing unsubstantiated lawsuits until 2020 (first question: why only order them to stop it for a limited time?) and they immediately went back to filing lawsuits right after that. Even if it doesn’t automatically result in a judgement of bad faith, it should lead to immediate investigation right? Or at least they should be required to get their new process certified before being allowed to do it again?
“Before the robo-signing scandal a decade ago, Chase recovered about a billion dollars a year with its credit card collections business, according to the CFPB. Why would Chase stop suing customers for years, forgoing billions of dollars, only to ramp up its suits once key provisions of the CFPB settlement had expired?
Craig Cowie thinks he has an answer. “Chase did not think it could make money if it had to sue customers and abide by the CFPB settlement,” said Cowie, who worked as an enforcement attorney at the CFPB during the Obama administration and now teaches at the University of Montana Law School. “That’s the only explanation that makes sense for why the bank would have held back.””Posted on 2022-01-18T16:32:10+0000
Bosses Are Telling Workers Not to Test for COVID-19
Because they want them to come in no matter what.
The examples quoted here are jarring.
“Because there are no federal COVID-specific protections for workers, individuals are at the mercy of their particular workplace protocols, which often means relying on the goodwill of bosses or managers. “It’s like we're at war right now,” Rachel says. “I'm scared to go back to work because it's so unsafe out there.””Posted on 2022-01-18T16:18:46+0000
Microsoft to acquire Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion
Satya Nadella says the deal "will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms."
Did not see this coming.
“Microsoft doesn’t detail exactly how it will approach solving these issues, and the company says Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard for now. It looks like Kotick won’t remain once the deal is fully closed and after the transition period to Microsoft, though. Spencer, formerly head of gaming at Microsoft, is now CEO of Microsoft Gaming, and the company says the Activision Blizzard business will report directly to Spencer.”Posted on 2022-01-18T16:10:35+0000
It’s Long Past Time to Prosecute Phony GOP Electors - The Bulwark
The individuals who signed and transmitted fraudulent Electoral College ballots claiming their states voted for Donald Trump must be held to account.
“Robust prosecution of these cases is vital. As I wrote earlier this month, between now and the 2024 election, the battle for democracy will be won or lost in the states. Nothing in either of the voting rights bills currently pending before Congress would inhibit partisan state officials, acting under color of law, from attempting to overturn popular elections in their states.
Criminal prosecutions.”Posted on 2022-01-18T05:54:36+0000
Beyond the Borrow Checker: Differential Fuzzing
Using a modern fuzzing technique to validate the high-level logic of a safe Rust library.
This was a great read on applying differential fuzzing to data structures to find correctness bugs. The underlying techniques used match work I've done and given a talk about in the past (with unexpectedly fun results) so I can confirm it works.
"A pessimist would grumble at the notion of relying on random chance to secure code. An optimist will highlight that stochastic processes are widely used in mathematical modeling to draw empirical conclusions. A realist knows the weakest link is the first to be compromised, and even the dumbest of fuzzers can find shallow bugs before an adversary does."Posted on 2022-01-17T20:40:41+0000
Google Misled Publishers and Advertisers, Unredacted Lawsuit Alleges
Google misled publishers and advertisers for years about the pricing and processes of its ad auctions, creating programs that deflated sales for some companies while increasing prices for buyers, according to newly unredacted allegations in a lawsuit filed by states.
I feel like this will not end well.
"Meanwhile, Google pocketed the difference between what it told publishers and advertisers that an ad cost and used the pool of money to manipulate future auctions to expand its digital monopoly, the newly unredacted complaint alleges. The documents cite internal correspondence in which Google employees said some of these practices amounted to growing its business through “insider information.”"Posted on 2022-01-17T20:35:54+0000
It’s Time to Embrace Slow Productivity
We need fewer things to work on. Starting now.
This was a great read on productivity, efficiency, management, and mental health.
"Returning to Mark Takano’s Thirty-Two-Hour Workweek Act, it’s important to emphasize that knowledge workers are just one group among many that Takano has mentioned when describing his motivation. There are several economic sectors for which Slow Work-style solutions, such as a reduced standardized workweek, might prove effective, with the plight of exhausted health-care professionals and teachers standing out as particularly acute examples where immediate relief is needed. The issue I raise here is not whether a shorter workweek is an entirely bad idea but whether it will sufficiently solve the narrow-but-urgent problem of rising burnout among office workers. I don’t think it will. The autonomy that defines the professional lives of those who toil in front of computer screens has led us into a trap of excessive work volume. We cannot escape this trap by expanding the weekend. We must ultimately brace ourselves for the larger challenge of slowing down the pace of the workday itself."Posted on 2022-01-17T20:35:15+0000
How a routine gem update ended up creating $73k worth of subscriptions
On November 5, 2021 (a Friday of course), we've deployed innocent-looking gem updates. Minor versions of Ruby on Rails, Ruby Sentry client, Ruby Slack client, http libraries, Puma, Devise, OmniAuth Ruby client, Mongoid, and a few test gems. However, something went very wrong. We saw odd Stripe error...
The downside of SemVer and always updating dependencies immediately. And on the importance of tests.
(this totally should have been a breaking change called out far and wide).
"Even if that Mongoid shouldn't have changed existing methods behaviors between minor versions, my implementation was a true code smell as it was unclear what it did. This code should never have been deployed to production. But also and more importantly, the feature itself was a bad idea. Using our API to scrape search engine results shouldn't trigger a renewal of a credit card subscription in the first place. And we'll be removing that feature as soon as possible."Posted on 2022-01-17T20:30:42+0000
T-Shaped People and Academia
T-Shaped People and Academia Tags: academia, musings Published on Saturday, January 8, 2022 « Previous post: Things You Are Allowed To Do, Academic … Being on the lookout for recruiting new students for my new research group, I wanted to distil some of my observations into textual form. This post...
This was an interesting read. While I don't fully agree with the conclusion and some of the details, I do agree with the central point - teams need people with a wide variety of skills and backgrounds.
"This post spawned a lively discussion on HackerNews. One interesting facet that escaped me so far is the extent to which certain research groups are exploiting Ph.D. students for tasks that should rightfully be handled by a person specifically trained for the job. That’s something I can wholeheartedly advocate for—I think most labs benefit immensely from an on-call sysadmin, developer, etc. The point I am making in this article is that, at least in ML research, it is hard to pin down what ‘doing only research’ means. If we only measure the value of a budding Ph.D. student by the number of papers on their CV, we miss out on candidates that can introduce better coding practices into a lab, for instance. Of course, they should not be hired primarily because of this, but why not recognise and reward skills that are clearly there and relevant for doing research and facilitating the research of others?"Posted on 2022-01-17T20:29:32+0000
Outcomes, Mistakes, and the Nuance of Error Handling
Outcomes, Mistakes, and the Nuance of Error Handling January 16, 2022 11 minutes After my last post, I decided it was time to finish up several projects, no matter how experimental, and roll a proper release for them. One such project I’m finally wrapping up development of, is a Rust library. It.....
Really great read on some of the trade offs that come with various error handling approaches. The examples and libraries discussed are Rust specific but the lessons generalize well.
“I would argue that, in most languages even outside of Rust, a majority of our time is spent logging an error and simply returning to a given caller. In reality, a warning or some retry operation is meritted; the nuance of what really is an error is something that needs to be taken into consideration when designing these critical paths that must handle mistakes and failures.”Posted on 2022-01-17T08:00:34+0000
Opinion | To Fight Covid, We Need to Think Less Like Doctors
Leaders are too focused on risks to individuals versus the population as a whole.
I am not a doctor nor a public health official so my opinion doesn’t count as much as others’ - but this resonated a lot with me.
“Masks are another example. If you can have only the best, you’ll focus on N95 masks, see they are in short supply at the start of the crisis and tell most people they shouldn’t wear masks at all because only certain ones provide the best protection, and we have to save them for those at highest risk. A population-level view argues that cloth or surgical masks — which aren’t anywhere near as good as N95s but were easier to get — would lower the risk for everyone when the pandemic was beginning, and therefore would be helpful. It took until April 2020 — many weeks into the pandemic — for the C.D.C. to recommend mask wearing for the general public.”Posted on 2022-01-16T06:11:08+0000
Opinion | I’m a Longtime Union Organizer. But I Had Never Seen Anything Like This.
After a spate of deaths, a group of health care workers in Oregon decided that to save lives, they needed a union.
This quote stuck with me. A very moving human interest story about healthcare workers fighting to have their patients be treated better.
“Time is a white-collar weapon. People with resources can easily outwait people with none. The longer it takes to get to an election, the less chance workers have of winning their union.”Posted on 2022-01-16T05:31:54+0000
Live updates: Hostage situation at synagogue in Colleyville, Texas
The FBI and Texas Department of Public Safety are assisting a hostage situation at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, according to police.
The Biden administration has failed its Covid test
When Omicron emerged, the White House missed chance after chance to limit infections – despite claiming to ‘follow the science’
“And why is the administration still pushing reimbursement schemes for the insured and complicated ways to get tested rather than mailing tests home for free and giving them away wherever anyone will take them? Why are Biden and Harris both telling people to Google where to get tested, when 18% of people below the federal poverty line – those most at risk for Covid – don’t have internet access?”Posted on 2022-01-15T19:44:48+0000
How we used C++20 to eliminate an entire class of runtime bugs - C++ Team Blog
C++20 is here and has been supported in MSVC since 16.11, but today’s post is not about how you can use it, but rather how we used it to effectively eliminate an entire class of runtime bugs by hoisting a check into compile-time.
This is a cool c++20 trick.
“In total we identified ~120 instances where we were either passing the incorrect number of arguments to a diagnostic API or where we passed the wrong type for a particular format-specifier. Over the years we have received bugs regarding strange compiler behavior when emitting a diagnostic or a straight-up ICE (Internal Compiler Error) because the format-specifiers were looking for arguments which were incorrect or did not exist. Using C++20 we have largely eliminated possibility of such bugs happening in the future and while offering the ability for us to safely refactor diagnostic messages, made possible by one little keyword: consteval.”Posted on 2022-01-15T06:06:32+0000
Jan. 6 committee subpoenas tech giants after 'inadequate responses'
The subpoenas demand that Facebook, Google, Reddit and Twitter turn over more information about what they did and didn't do in the lead-up to Jan. 6.
The Jan 6 committee made a lot of progress yesterday and it looks like they're going to continue going. I like this.
"The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed Reddit, Twitter and the parent companies of Google and Facebook on Thursday after their "inadequate responses" to requests for information about what they did and didn't do in the lead-up to the deadly attack."Posted on 2022-01-14T19:07:21+0000
Disturbing New Report Shows Dire Conditions For Grocery Workers
A huge new survey of Kroger employees finds homelessness, poverty, and food insecurity are widespread.
These are horrifying stats. I hope the unionization efforts go through.
“- Fourteen percent of Kroger workers are now homeless, or have been within the past year. More than one-third say they fear being evicted. Even among full time employees, 15% say that they cannot pay their next rent or mortgage bill.
- Despite working around food all day, one-quarter of Kroger workers say that they went hungry in the past year because they could not afford food. Fourteen percent say they receive food stamps. Kroger offers employees only a 10% discount on food at the store.”Posted on 2022-01-13T20:39:59+0000
Razer's N95 debacle is a reminder to double check COVID claims
Don't take face mask claims at face value.
I think it’s grossly irresponsible that Razor hasn’t canceled outstanding orders and asked people to reorder only after acknowledging this isn’t an N95 mask.
Also this is sadly a fail on the part of US tech journalism which took Razer’s claims at face value and even awarded this a prize at CES (hoping that gets retracted)
“Wu and her supporters' criticisms were twofold. First, that the "N95 grade filters" did not actually have N95 certification, which is designated after meeting testing criteria by the CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Second, aside from the filter insert, Wu claimed that problems with the mask's seal and other aspects of its construction compromised the efficacy of the mask itself. Essentially, even if you've got a good filter with N95 protection, there's no guarantee that the hardware you're putting it into will maintain that level of protection along the way.”Posted on 2022-01-13T17:24:31+0000
My wife had long Covid and killed herself. We must help others who are suffering | Nick Güthe
The medical community must find answers for those suffering from long Covid. They are running out of time and hope
“I came home one day last May to find that she’d decided to end her pain. As our 13-year-old son waited outside for the paramedics, I tried desperately to revive her. I did a good enough job that by the time we got her to the hospital they could restart her heart, but she was brain dead on arrival. The emergency room doctor assumed that she died from depression. When I told him, “She wasn’t depressed, it was long Covid,” he looked at me with bewilderment and asked, “What’s long Covid?””Posted on 2022-01-13T04:19:02+0000
The App Store clones are here to profit off Wordle’s success
You made this? I made this.
“The situation is a little embarrassing for Apple, which has often cited its high standards and App Review process as a reason it should be allowed to keep control over which apps run on iPhones and iPads. The review process has been called into question by multiple scams and controversies, but these feel especially blatant — they’re using the same name and have an extremely similar interface to the original. It’s easy to see many people being tricked into thinking that they’re playing an official version.”Posted on 2022-01-12T03:18:20+0000
Manchin's Coal Corruption Is So Much Worse Than You Knew
The senator from West Virginia is bought and paid for by Big Coal. With his help the dying industry is pulling one final heist — and the entire planet may pay the price
Very well written piece - it’s a takedown of Manchin but goes into the US political system, the electoral politics and history of Virginia, and interviews a bunch of locals. I learnt a lot.
“I found the road to the mine, but it was closed with a chain-link fence. I drove around to some back roads, and was able to bushwhack up onto a ridge and get a view of the pit. Rock and coal in the ancient mountains were exposed like layers in a wedding cake. Some scrubby locust trees grew in the “reclaimed” areas, where Arch’s mining engineers had piled up dirt to make it look vaguely like a hill. A small lake at the bottom of the pit glowed toxic blue. Twenty years ago, I had stood near this spot and listened to one of those engineers tell me that blowing up mountains was a good thing because it provided more flat land for commercial development. He suggested there would be a shopping mall up here one day, maybe a factory. Hundreds of people would be employed here, he told me. It was a lie then, and it is a lie now. There are 6 million acres of abandoned mine sites in the U.S. Solar panels have popped up on a few, and not far from where I stood, a 35-acre lavender farm employs a handful of former coal miners. Hopeful as those projects may be, they are just lipstick on the coal-country cadaver that Manchin pretends is still alive. Like the disemboweled mountain itself, Manchin is a scar from a time when blasting the Earth to mine coal to burn for energy that cooked the climate was a profitable thing to do. As I stood there on the ridgetop, it occurred to me that if future historians want to tell the story of how humans turned our home into a hell zone of fire, drought, and rising seas, this would be as good of a place as any to begin.”Posted on 2022-01-11T06:56:30+0000
Google Had Secret Project to ‘Convince’ Employees ‘That Unions Suck’
New court documents reveal how Google ran its anti-union campaign, 'Project Vivian,' between late 2018 and early 2020.
“In his ruling on the documents related to Project Vivian, the NLRB judge describes evidence he reviewed of a situation where a Google attorney proposed to find a “respected voice to publish an OpEd outlining what a unionized tech workplace would look like, and counseling employees of FB (Facebook), MSFT(Microsoft), Amazon, and google (sic) not to do it.”
Kara Silverstein, Google’s human resources director said that she “like[d] the idea” of the op-ed, but that it should be executed so that “there would be no fingerprints and not Google specific.” “Posted on 2022-01-11T05:58:05+0000
LAPD Officers Ignore Robbery in Progress to Catch Snorlax in Pokémon Go
The officers claimed they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to ‘chase this mythical creature.’
“Though they were recorded explaining the entirety of this encounter, as is common with police, both Mitchell and Lozano lied about what happened, according to the court records. Both of them claimed they were merely catching “images” of Pokémon, not playing a “game.” They also claimed that Pokémon Go is not a “game” but was more of a “social media event” that was not “advertised as a game,” the court records say. Eventually, both admitted to going after the Snorlax because they wanted to “chase this mythical creature.””Posted on 2022-01-11T02:13:52+0000
I've Never Felt More Like a Failure as a Parent
My kids are back in school, despite surging Covid cases. We have no other choice.
Depressing but worth reading. I feel for all the parents right now.
“Of course I wish schools could stay open, but I wish for a lot of things. I wish Covid had never happened and nearly a million people in the U.S. hadn't died. I wish my kids and your kids and all our kids hadn't known any of this. That they could have experienced the last two years as children instead of as junior epidemiologists. But wishing won't change the fact that Omicron tears through communities like a hurricane and in-person school doesn't work if half the class can't attend because they’re sick or have been exposed and are in quarantine.”Posted on 2022-01-10T20:55:28+0000
As Afghanistan’s harsh winter sets in, many are forced to choose between food and warmth
The Taliban, cut off from most international aid, has scant resources to protect millions of vulnerable people from a full-fledged humanitarian disaster.
History will not be kind upon the people doing this. I hope the present also forces some action.
“Aid groups estimate that nearly 23 million Afghans, out of a total population of 39 million, already do not have enough to eat. Many also lack solid shelter and money to heat their homes at night, forcing them to choose between food and fuel, and creating additional potential for a full-fledged humanitarian disaster, aid officials said.”Posted on 2022-01-10T16:43:02+0000
The trouble with Roblox, the video game empire built on child labour
Young developers on the platform used by many millions of children claim they have been financially exploited, threatened with dismissal and sexually harassed
For all the great things I see and hear about Roblox, this is really worrying. The abuse happening on platform is sad and I hope they do more to fix it.
“For Anna, success had an unfathomable, life-changing impact. At 16 her monthly income somehow exceeded her parents’ combined salaries. She calculated that she was on course to earn $300,000 in a year, a salary equivalent to that of a highly experienced Google programmer. Anna cancelled her plans to go to college”Posted on 2022-01-10T05:22:30+0000
The Great Surrender: How We Gave Up And Let COVID Win
I feel like I’ve lost my goddamn mind, but we’ll get back to that point soon. Let’s start with this. Two things seem to be true at this moment in the pandemic: First, that our num…
This was depressing but oh so relatable.
“As a PS, I apologize if this feels like a bummer. But I honestly feel pretty anxious not just about the pandemic, but also about our sudden acquiescence to it, and I really wanted to talk about it somewhere that wasn’t just Twitter. It required unpacking and so here I am, unpacking.”Posted on 2022-01-10T01:38:44+0000
Forced by shortages to sell chipless ink cartridges, Canon tells customers how to bypass DRM warnings | Boing Boing
Printer ink company Canon was forced by the silicon shortage to sell cartridges without the DRM chips used to dissuade customers from using third-party tanks. Accordingly, it is reportedly telling …
This is amazing. I don’t even…
“Printer ink company Canon was forced by the silicon shortage to sell cartridges without the DRM chips used to dissuade customers from using third-party tanks. Accordingly, it is reportedly telling customers how to bypass its "genuine" ink bullshit.”Posted on 2022-01-09T21:55:07+0000
Covid may raise the risk of diabetes in children, C.D.C. researchers reported.
A heightened risk had already been seen among adults who had recovered from a coronavirus infection.
“The researchers found increases in diabetes in both data sets, though the relative rates were quite different: they found a 2.6-fold increase in new diabetes cases among children in one, and a smaller 30 percent increase in another.
“Even a 30 percent increase is a big increase in risk,” said Sharon Saydah, a researcher at the C.D.C. and lead author of the study. The differences likely result from different ways of classifying children as having Covid, she added.”Posted on 2022-01-08T17:38:32+0000
21 die in Murree as govt deploys Pakistan Army to rescue stranded tourists amid heavy snowfall
Punjab government declares Murree a calamity-hit area; PM Imran Khan says he is shocked and upset
“He said that most of the people who died in Murree did not die due to the cold, they died as they left their heaters on in the car and went to sleep.
“The fumes from the heater killed them.””Posted on 2022-01-08T17:22:18+0000
The Evolution of Management - ACM Queue
I have been thinking a lot about the different transitions I have made as I have been promoted to different levels of management, from individual contributor to manager to organization leader in charge of hundreds of people.
This was a great read on (middle) management and growing up the ladder. I obviously don’t have experience yet at the director level but I did find myself nodding along at the areas I’m familiar with.
“Your new job is to solve problems by removing roadblocks (including yourself), streamlining processes, and helping others be productive. You don't solve the problem yourself now; you create an environment where other people can solve the problem. This is how you add value.”Posted on 2022-01-08T07:47:23+0000
My first impressions of web3
Despite considering myself a cryptographer, I have not found myself particularly drawn to “crypto.” I don’t think I’ve ever actually said the words “get off my lawn,” but I’m much more likely to click on Pepperidge Farm Remembers flavored memes about how “crypto” used to mean “cr...
Great read from Moxie on web3. I continue to be a skeptic, but this was a well written analysis of the pros and cons of web3. I liked the analogies to past systems and how a lot of the stuff is still centralized under the hood.
“We should try to reduce the burden of building software. At this point, software projects require an enormous amount of human effort. Even relatively simple apps require a group of people to sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day, every day, forever. This wasn’t always the case, and there was a time when 50 people working on a software project wasn’t considered a “small team.” As long as software requires such concerted energy and so much highly specialized human focus, I think it will have the tendency to serve the interests of the people sitting in that room every day rather than what we may consider our broader goals. I think changing our relationship to technology will probably require making software easier to create, but in my lifetime I’ve seen the opposite come to pass. Unfortunately, I think distributed systems have a tendency to exacerbate this trend by making things more complicated and more difficult, not less complicated and less difficult.”Posted on 2022-01-08T03:29:54+0000
Scaling productivity on microservices at Lyft (Part 1)
Late in 2018, Lyft engineering completed decomposing our original PHP monolith into a collection of Python and Go microservices. A few…
I just read this three part series from Lyft on how they ensure developers can stay productive developing in an environment containing 100s of microservices. Pretty interesting read, and I can't wait for the fourth (and supposedly final) part. Learnt a lot from this one.
"After beginning to migrate our development environments to Kubernetes about a year ago, a change in engineering resourcing was the catalyst for us to zoom out and re-examine our larger direction. Maintaining the infrastructure to support these on-demand environments had simply become too expensive and would only worsen with time. Solving for our situation would require a more fundamental change to the way we develop and test microservices. It was time to replace Devbox, Onebox, and integration tests on CI with alternatives that were sustainable for a system composed of hundreds of microservices."Posted on 2022-01-06T04:05:50+0000
know how your org works (or how to become a more effective engineer)
A few months ago, exhausted by a constant stream of people perennially disappointed about reward structures at companies, I made what…
I've been following Cindy's excellent takes on twitter for quite a while, and this long-form blogpost is equally great. Read it to understand more about how to be an effective engineer at the more senior levels (across lots of companies). So much good stuff it was hard to pick just one thing to quote.
"Managers need to deal with these skills as a part of their job description. So do ICs at the very senior levels, but it’s never too early to start cultivating this knowledge. In fact, a core part of mentoring engineers needs to be schooling them in how the organization works, which will then enable them to build a successful track record of getting things done.
Shielding non-senior engineers from organizational politics not just stymies their growth but also hinders their visibility into the skills they’d eventually need to learn the hard way, skills for which there exists no easy playbook, even if some managers and senior ICs might take a more short-sighted view and see this as a way to help other engineers “maintain focus”."Posted on 2022-01-06T03:27:36+0000
Short-staffed NYC schools are asking teachers with mild COVID symptoms to return to the classroom
In New York City, teachers who tested positive five days earlier can return to the classroom if they have mild or no symptoms.
Really feeling for all the children, parents, teachers, and really everyone right now. This situation does not look like it will end well without much more drastic measures that the government seems to be unwilling to take right now. This guidance says it all:
“For teachers who test positive, symptoms that would allow them to return include a "minimal cough" — they can't be "coughing up phlegm" — and symptoms have to be mild or improving. Teachers will have to distance themselves if they take off their "well-fitting higher-level face covering" to eat or drink. They also must "must continue to stay at home outside of work" and "observe" other elements of isolation until 10 days pass.
They will not need a negative test to return to school. “Posted on 2022-01-05T17:42:33+0000
Fired for being female
Irene Cybulsky was a superstar surgeon, and head of cardiac surgery at her hospital, but her all-male staff resented her. When she was replaced by a man, she found a novel way to get justice
This is an amazing human interest story about a woman who persevered in the face of so much adversity. She was so accomplished as a surgeon and then as the first female department head, and then went on to be a lawyer who successfully fought the discrimination case against the department.
“In March of 2021, the tribunal found that Cybulsky’s rights were breached three times: when Flageole and McLean ignored her comments about gender, when the HR specialist did the same, and when Stacey opened her job up to new applicants.
“It is an act of discrimination to fail to take seriously the applicant’s allegations about the relationship between gender and perceptions about her leadership,” the adjudicator, Laurie Letheren, the vice-chair of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, wrote. “Her dignity and self-worth were undermined, and those consequences are directly connected to the fact that the applicant is a woman.””Posted on 2022-01-04T20:44:12+0000
Documents Reveal Basic Flaws in Pentagon Dismissals of Civilian Casualty Claims
A Times investigation found inconsistent approaches to assessing claims of civilians killed by coalition forces — including failures to conduct simple internet searches.
The examples in here are just sad. It clearly points to a lack of resourcing (lots of examples of the reviewers not having Arabic skills) but I wonder if there is a more fundamental incentive problem: are the reviewers incentivized to dismiss as many reports as possible so the pentagon doesn’t look bad? After all some of these look credible at first sight, e.g “the strike happened 17km away from where people claimed it was” (before someone points out the other location also had the same name).
“This investigation focuses on reviewers’ inability to establish details about the locations of strikes. In reviewing 80 assessments, including those with high numbers of reported civilian casualties, The Times repeatedly found what appeared to be simple mistakes. In a dozen instances, Pentagon assessors said that a location could not be identified, even though it was easily found on the internet, or they seemed to have just looked in the wrong place.”Posted on 2022-01-04T04:43:50+0000
How does this end?
Where the crisis in American democracy might be headed.
A very well researched piece which goes into academic research on politics, sociology, history, and polarization. I learnt a lot from this one, both about the US and international politics.
Very depressing read though.
“Drutman told me that the most likely path forward involves a massive shock to break us from our dangerous patterns — “something that sets enough things in motion that it creates a possibility [for radical change].”
This brings us back to the specter of political violence that hangs over post-January 6 America.”Posted on 2022-01-03T18:44:25+0000
Your attention didn’t collapse. It was stolen
Social media and many other facets of modern life are destroying our ability to concentrate. We need to reclaim our minds while we still can
“But none of these changes will happen unless we fight for them. Just as the feminist movement reclaimed women’s right to their own bodies (and still has to fight for it today), I believe we now need an attention movement to reclaim our minds. I believe we need to act urgently, because this may be like the climate crisis, or the obesity crisis – the longer we wait, the harder it will get. The more our attention degrades, the harder it will be to summon the personal and political energy to take on the forces stealing our focus. The first step it requires is a shift in our consciousness. We need to stop blaming ourselves, or making only demands for tiny tweaks from our employers and from tech companies. We own our own minds – and together, we can take them back from the forces that are stealing them.”Posted on 2022-01-03T17:51:44+0000
The Great Exhaustion
What If Beneath The Great Resignation is a Deeper Existential Truth We Are All Ignoring?
Felt myself nodding along as I read this one.
“What we are not talking enough about is that we as a culture no longer value taking time for ourselves or resting. I find it amusing when friends take “activity vacations” where they brag about endless days of things planned to do. Is that really a vacation? Because it looks… exhausting.
In closing… people are quitting their jobs. Yes, many jobs are bad. More importantly however, we are all really tired.”
Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up Captures the Stupidity of Our Political Era
The scariest thing about Don’t Look Up is that as absurd as it is, it barely exaggerates. Much of our political elite are just as greedy and foolish, our media just as vapid, and our response to impending disaster exactly as mind-bogglingly irrational as in the movie.
“In a reversal of the prevailing liberal narrative since 2016 — which either casts all ordinary Trump voters as irredeemable, bigoted villains, to the point of fantasizing that they lose their health insurance, or dumps the blame on nonvoters for failing their politicians — it’s the country’s elites and institutions, including the media, that are the real problem in Don’t Look Up. All corrupted by money, they mislead, manipulate, and distract the rest of us from what really matters. Maybe this is why the film’s been met with surprising hostility from a lot of the mainstream press, which have complained chiefly about the film’s lack of subtlety.”Posted on 2022-01-02T19:44:08+0000
An Ancient Greek Astronomical Calculation Machine Reveals New Secrets
Scientists have a new understanding of the mysterious Antikythera mechanism that challenges assumptions about ancient technology
This was so fascinating. So much we don’t know about our own history.
“Why did it take centuries for scientists to reinvent anything as sophisticated as the Antikythera device, and why haven’t archaeologists uncovered more such mechanisms? We have strong reasons to believe this object can’t have been the only model of its kind—there must have been precursors to its development. But bronze was a very valuable metal, and when an object like this stopped working, it probably would have been melted down for its materials. Shipwrecks may be the best prospects for finding more of them. As for why the technology was seemingly lost for so long before being redeveloped, who knows? There are many gaps in the historical record, and future discoveries may well surprise us.”Posted on 2022-01-02T07:40:50+0000
Why is my Rust build so slow?
I've recently come back to an older project of mine (that powers this website), and as I did some maintenance work: upgrade to newer crates, upgrade to a newer rustc , I notice...
Great debugging and investigation.
“I hope you had fun learning about all this, and that you can use it to make your builds faster. If you didn't before, you should now have a lot of places to look at when you want to make your builds faster.”Posted on 2022-01-02T01:02:56+0000
How a Single Line of Code Made a 24-core Server Slower Than a Laptop | Piotr Kołaczkowski
Imagine you wrote a program for a pleasingly parallel problem, where each thread does its own independent piece of work, and the threads don’t need to coordi...
Great read on concurrency and atomics (in rust)
“However, not matter how innocent the code looks, I like to double check my assumptions. I ran that with different numbers of threads and, although it was now faster than before, it didn’t scale at all again – it hit a throughput ceiling of about 4 million calls per second!”Posted on 2022-01-02T00:41:30+0000
Navy bribery scandal still unfolding 8 years after the arrest of 'Fat Leonard'
For almost eight years, San Diego has been at the heart of one of the largest scandals in Navy history.
Just heard of this scandal via a video advertisement for the podcast and I’m quite surprised as to how this story has been under the radar for so long.
““He's got kidney cancer, and so one of the one of his reasons for talking, I believe, is that he's he's he's probably going to die, although he was he didn't tell me exactly,” Wright said. “As he discusses on the podcast about his cancer you'll see that that's definitely a factor in why he decided to talk.””Posted on 2022-01-01T04:14:47+0000