Links for 2019-06-18

  • TCP SACK PANIC – Kernel vulnerabilities – CVE-2019-11477, CVE-2019-11478 & CVE-2019-11479 – Red Hat Customer Portal

    Three related flaws were found in the Linux kernel’s handling of TCP networking.  The most severe vulnerability could allow a remote attacker to trigger a kernel panic in systems running the affected software and, as a result, impact the system’s availability. The issues have been assigned multiple CVEs: CVE-2019-11477 is considered an Important severity, whereas CVE-2019-11478 and CVE-2019-11479 are considered a Moderate severity.  The first two are related to the Selective Acknowledgement (SACK) packets combined with Maximum Segment Size (MSS), the third solely with the Maximum Segment Size (MSS). These issues are corrected either through applying mitigations or kernel patches.  Mitigation details and links to RHSA advsories can be found on the RESOLVE tab of this article.

    (tags: tcp sack ip security vulnerabilities kernel bugs)

  • Climate change: I work in the environmental movement. I don’t care if you recycle. – Vox

    While we’re busy testing each other’s purity, we let the government and industries — the authors of said devastation — off the hook completely. This overemphasis on individual action shames people for their everyday activities, things they can barely avoid doing because of the fossil fuel-dependent system they were born into. In fact, fossil fuels supply more than 75 percent of the US energy system. If we want to function in society, we have no choice but to participate in that system. To blame us for that is to shame us for our very existence. […] But that doesn’t mean we do nothing. Climate change is a vast and complicated problem, and that means the answer is complicated too. We need to let go of the idea that it’s all of our individual faults, then take on the collective responsibility of holding the true culprits accountable. In other words, we need to become many Davids against one big, bad Goliath.

    (tags: activism climate environment green climate-change future fossil-fuels society)

  • A free Argo Tunnel for your next project

    Argo Tunnel lets you expose a server to the Internet without opening any ports. The service runs a lightweight process on your server that creates outbound tunnels to the Cloudflare network. Instead of managing DNS, network, and firewall complexity, Argo Tunnel helps administrators serve traffic from their origin through Cloudflare with a single command. [….] Starting today, any user, even those without a Cloudflare account, can try this new method of connecting their server to the Internet. Argo Tunnel can now be used in a free model that will create a new URL, known only to you, that will proxy traffic to your server. We’re excited to make connecting a server to the Internet more accessible for everyone.

    (tags: cloudflare internet tunnel servers ports tunnelling ops free)

  • Download Starburst Distribution of Presto

    Starburst’s free distro of Presto; there are additional enterprise features which require a license key but the basic distro is OSS. Docs at

    (tags: starburst presto aws ops software)

  • Soonish: The Lost Chapter

    “Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything” — Advanced Nuclear Power

    (tags: nukes nuclear-power power future soonish smbc tech reactors)

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Links for 2019-06-17

  • Show HN: Enviro+ for Raspberry Pi – Environmental sensors

    HN thread and linked Pimoroni gadget. UKP45 for a nice environmental sensor board

    (tags: electronics iot projects sensors environment raspberry-pi gadgets)

  • The Surprising Reason that There Are So Many Thai Restaurants in America – VICE

    Turns out the Thai government has taken a leaf from Guinness’ book:

    The Ministry of Commerce’s Department of Export Promotion [..] drew up prototypes for three different “master restaurants,” which investors could choose as a sort of prefabricated restaurant plan, from aesthetic to menu offerings. Elephant Jump would be the fast casual option, at $5 to $15 per person; Cool Basil would be the mid-priced option at $15 to $25 a head; and the Golden Leaf prototype would cost diners $25 to $30, with décor featuring “authentic Thai fabrics and objets d’art.” (Does your favorite Thai spot have objets d’art? The restaurant may have been built from a government prototype.)
    (Guinness do exactly the same thing for Irish pubs worldwide.)

    (tags: cuisine culture food government marketing thai thailand guinness restaurants franchising)

  • Growing a moss garden

    aren’t these lovely

    (tags: gardening home plants moss gardens thread twitter)

  • gaul/undocumented-s3-apis

    Undocumented Amazon S3 APIs and third-party extensions: GET object by multipart number; AWS Java SDK partNumber; Multipart Upload ETag. (via Last Week in AWS)

    (tags: via:lwia s3 undocumented hacks aws apis)

  • Why women leave academia and why universities should be worried

    I couldn’t agree more with this, having seen it happen first-hand:

    The participants in the study identify many characteristics of academic careers that they find unappealing: the constant hunt for funding for research projects is a significant impediment for both men and women. But women in greater numbers than men see academic careers as all-consuming, solitary and as unnecessarily competitive. Both men and women PhD candidates come to realise that a string of post-docs is part of a career path, and they see that this can require frequent moves and a lack of security about future employment. Women are more negatively affected than men by the competitiveness in this stage of an academic career and their concerns about competitiveness are fuelled, they say, by a relative lack of self-confidence. Women more than men see great sacrifice as a prerequisite for success in academia. This comes in part from their perception of women who have succeeded, from the nature of the available role models. Successful female professors are perceived by female PhD candidates as displaying masculine characteristics, such as aggression and competitiveness, and they were often childless. As if all this were not enough, women PhD candidates had one experience that men never have. They were told that they would encounter problems along the way simply because they are women. They are told, in other words, that their gender will work against them. […] Universities will not survive as research institutions unless university leadership realises that the working conditions they offer dramatically reduce the size of the pool from which they recruit. We will not survive because we have no reason to believe we are attracting the best and the brightest. When industry is the more attractive employer, our credibility as the home of long-term, cutting edge, high-risk, profoundly creative research, is diminished.
    (via Aoife McLysaght)

    (tags: women life university third-level careers research via:aoifemcl)

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Links for 2019-06-14

  • The New Wilderness (Idle Words)

    Our discourse around privacy needs to expand to address foundational questions about the role of automation: To what extent is living in a surveillance-saturated world compatible with pluralism and democracy? What are the consequences of raising a generation of children whose every action feeds into a corporate database? What does it mean to be manipulated from an early age by machine learning algorithms that adaptively learn to shape our behavior?

    (tags: facebook google privacy future dystopia surveillance society)

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Links for 2019-06-13

  • Jigsaw Bought a Russian Twitter Troll Campaign as an Experiment

    “Let’s say I want to wage a disinformation campaign to attack a political opponent or a company, but I don’t have the infrastructure to create my own Internet Research Agency,” Gully told WIRED in an interview, speaking publicly about Jigsaw’s year-old disinformation experiment for the first time. “We wanted to see if we could engage with someone who was willing to provide this kind of assistance to a political actor … to buy services that directly discredit their political opponent for very low cost and with no tooling or resources required. For us, it’s a pretty clear demonstration these capabilities exist, and there are actors comfortable doing this on the internet.”
    it cost just $250.

    (tags: disinformation fakes disinfo fake-news russia trolls jigsaw social-media)

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Links for 2019-06-12

  • New Spam Campaign Controlled by Attackers via DNS TXT Records

    Ah, Google, what were you thinking?

    When decoded, this string is an URL to Google’s public DNS resolve for a particular domain. For example, the above string decodes to[omitted].net&type=TXT. The attachment’s script will use this URL to retrieve the associated domain’s TXT record. A TXT record is a DNS entry that can be used to store textual data. This field is typically used for SPF or DMARC records, but could be used to host any type of textual content. The nice part about using the Google’s DNS resolver is that the information will be returned as JSON, which makes it easy for the malicious script to extract the data it needs.
    (via Paul Vixie)

    (tags: txt dns google resolvers spam fail security via:paulvixie)

  • An Orbit Map of the Solar System

    This week’s map shows the orbits of more than 18000 asteroids in the solar system. This includes everything we know of that’s over 10km in diameter – about 10000 asteroids – as well as 8000 randomized objects of unknown size. This map shows each asteroid at its exact position on New Years’ Eve 1999. All of the data for this map is shared by NASA and open to the public.
    Really lovely stuff!

    (tags: astronomy dataviz map space visualization asteroids planets posters moons solar-system)

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Links for 2019-06-11

  • Fans Are Better Than Tech at Organizing Information Online

    Fans tag the content, but then — volunteers consolidate and aggregate those tags:

    On AO3, users can put in whatever tags they want. (Autocomplete is there to help, but they don’t have to use it.) Then behind the scenes, human volunteers look up any new tags that no one else has used before and match them with any applicable existing tags, a process known as tag wrangling. Wrangling means that you don’t need to know whether the most popular tag for your new fanfic featuring Sherlock Holmes and John Watson is Johnlock or Sherwatson or John/Sherlock or Sherlock/John or Holmes/Watson or anything else. And you definitely don’t need to tag your fic with all of them just in case. Instead, you pick whichever one you like, the tag wranglers do their work behind the scenes, and readers looking for any of these synonyms will still be able to find you.

    (tags: folksonomy tagging tags taxonomy fans fandom archival archives fanfic)

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Links for 2019-06-10

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Links for 2019-06-06

  • two-thirds of cyclists with disabilities find cycling easier than walking

    and other facts about disabled cyclists. This is very thought-provoking stuff.

    According to a recent study by Wheels for Well-being, a British organization of disabled cyclists, 15 percent of people with disabilities cycle, compared with 18 percent of the general population. Moreover, two-thirds of cyclists with disabilities find cycling easier than walking, the group says. Clearly, bikes are not just a mode of transit, but function as mobility devices for many disabled people. I find it ableist, or prejudiced against the disabled, when we consider e-bikes and other adaptive-cycling methods as “inferior.” Many of us can ride a traditional two-wheeled bicycle, but others simply can’t.

    (tags: cycling disability accessibility cities design cycles disabled)

  • Carnival Cruise Line to pay a $20M fine over pollution

    Carnival’s pollution problem is so bad that across its fleet, the large boats pollute 10 times more than all 260 million of Europe’s cars. That tidbit comes courtesy of a study by the European think tank Transport & Environment, which looked at 203 cruise ships sailing European waters in 2017. The report also found that besides over-tourism and crashing into ports, there’s a good reason for European cities to dislike cruise ships: they are emitting sulfur dioxide all over the place. If you can’t keep your pollutants straight, sulfur dioxide causes both acid rain and lung cancer. Cruise lines, it turns out, have been dropping the gas all over Europe; the report says Barcelona, Palma Mallorca, and Venice were the cities worst affected by sulfur dioxide emissions. Per the FT, “sulfur dioxide emissions from cars was 3.2m kt versus 62m kt from cruise ships, with Carnival accounting for half that, the study found.”

    (tags: carnival cruises cruise-ships pollution europe eu driving environment climate-change)

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Links for 2019-06-05

  • The Existential Crisis Plaguing Online Extremism Researchers

    Oh god. This, so much:

    Many researchers in the field cut their teeth as techno-optimists, studying the positive aspects of the internet—like bringing people together to enhance creativity or further democratic protest, á la the Arab Spring—says Marwick. But it didn’t last. The past decade has been an exercise in dystopian comeuppance to the utopian discourse of the ’90s and ‘00s. Consider Gamergate, the Internet Research Agency, fake news, the internet-fueled rise of the so-called alt-right, Pizzagate, QAnon, Elsagate and the ongoing horrors of kids YouTube, Facebook’s role in fanning the flames of genocide, Cambridge Analytica, and so much more. “In many ways, I think it [the malaise] is a bit about us being let down by something that many of us really truly believed in,” says Marwick. Even those who were more realistic about tech—and foresaw its misuse—are stunned by the extent of the problem, she says. “You have to come to terms with the fact that not only were you wrong, but even the bad consequences that many of us did foretell were nowhere near as bad as the actual consequences that either happened or are going to happen.” […..] “It’s not that one of our systems is broken; it’s not even that all of our systems are broken,” says Phillips. “It’s that all of our systems are working … toward the spread of polluted information and the undermining of democratic participation.”
    (via Paul Moloney)

    (tags: future grim dystopia tech optimism web internet gamergate wired via:oceanclub)

  • France Bans Judge Analytics, 5 Years In Prison For Rule Breakers

    ‘The identity data of magistrates and members of the judiciary cannot be reused with the purpose or effect of evaluating, analysing, comparing or predicting their actual or alleged professional practices.’ As far as Artificial Lawyer understands, this is the very first example of such a ban anywhere in the world. Insiders in France told Artificial Lawyer that the new law is a direct result of an earlier effort to make all case law easily accessible to the general public, which was seen at the time as improving access to justice and a big step forward for transparency in the justice sector. However, judges in France had not reckoned on NLP and machine learning companies taking the public data and using it to model how certain judges behave in relation to particular types of legal matter or argument, or how they compare to other judges. In short, they didn’t like how the pattern of their decisions – now relatively easy to model – were potentially open for all to see.

    (tags: censorship france analytics judgements legal judges statistics)

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Links for 2019-06-04

  • Changing my Mind about AI, Universal Basic Income, and the Value of Data

    In this piece I’ll be talking about two particular bits of rhetoric that have found an apparently unlikely partnership in the past five years. The impending obsolescence of humanity locked eyes across the room with a utopian vision of all-powerful AI that sees to all our needs. They started a forbidden romance that has since enthralled even the most serious tech industry leaders. I myself was enthralled with the story at first, but more recently I’ve come to believe it may end in tragedy.

    (tags: ai philosophy ubi future tech)

  • An update on Sunday’s service disruption | Google Cloud Blog

    Google posting the most inappropriately upbeat post-mortem I’ve ever read…

    In essence, the root cause of Sunday’s disruption was a configuration change that was intended for a small number of servers in a single region. The configuration was incorrectly applied to a larger number of servers across several neighboring regions, and it caused those regions to stop using more than half of their available network capacity. The network traffic to/from those regions then tried to fit into the remaining network capacity, but it did not. The network became congested, and our networking systems correctly triaged the traffic overload and dropped larger, less latency-sensitive traffic in order to preserve smaller latency-sensitive traffic flows, much as urgent packages may be couriered by bicycle through even the worst traffic jam. Google’s engineering teams detected the issue within seconds, but diagnosis and correction took far longer than our target of a few minutes. Once alerted, engineering teams quickly identified the cause of the network congestion, but the same network congestion which was creating service degradation also slowed the engineering teams’ ability to restore the correct configurations, prolonging the outage. The Google teams were keenly aware that every minute which passed represented another minute of user impact, and brought on additional help to parallelize restoration efforts.

    (tags: gcp google odd outages post-mortems networking)

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Links for 2019-06-03

  • “Insert Coin” Key Chain

    RepliCade Insert Coin keychains are constructed from a traditional blend of diecast metal and plastic. Push the coin return button to activate LED illumination for 30 seconds. This 1:1 scale arcade-accurate replica metal coin return key chain stands 2″ tall and weighs in at a whopping 3.2 ozs.

    (tags: insert-coin arcade keychain keys toys nifty)

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Links for 2019-05-31

  • The war on trees: insurance involvement denied by Cork County Council

    Cork people have documented on social media examples of trees being removed from public spaces and have been critical of the practice. Last week, The Phoenix magazine claimed the insurance industry “has been identified as the dark force behind the slaughtering of thousands of healthy trees across Ireland”.t “It transpires insurance companies have offered lower premiums to county councils, if they remove any tree that poses even a remote threat to passing humans,” the magazine reported. This was put to Cork City Council, which denied the claim. “I refer to your query and can confirm that no contact has been made with Cork City Council by insurance companies, in relation to trees,” the spokesperson said.

    (tags: trees greenery wildlife ireland cork insurance)

  • Skerries protesters attempt to stop felling of mature trees

    The War On Trees comes to Skerries, with people organising day-long rotas and chaining vehicles to trees to stop Fingal County Council from cutting them down

    (tags: trees skerries dublin fingal greenery wildlife)

  • Yes, you can feed bread to swans

    “There has been a great deal of press coverage in recent months regarding the ‘Ban the Bread’ campaign which is confusing many members of the public who like to feed swans. Supporters of the campaign claim that bread should not be fed to swans on the grounds that it is bad for them. This is not correct. [….] There is no good reason not to feed bread to swans, provided it is not mouldy. Most households have surplus bread and children have always enjoyed feeding swans with their parents. The ‘Ban the Bread’ campaign is already having a deleterious impact upon the swan population; I am receiving reports of underweight cygnets and adult birds, and a number of swans from large flocks have begun to wander into roads in search of food. This poses the further risk of swans being hit by vehicles. Malnutrition also increases their vulnerability to fatal diseases like avian-flu which has caused the deaths of many mute swans and other waterfowl in the past.”

    (tags: swans nature feeding wildlife bread)

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Links for 2019-05-29

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Links for 2019-05-27

  • British Far Right Extremism Manipulating Ireland

    digging into the “Irexit” campaign and their extensive links to Nigel Farage and the British far right — 100% astroturf

    (tags: astroturf ireland irexit nigel-farage ukip brexit politics dirty-tricks)

  • Beating up on qsort

    an entertaining dive down a low-level performance-optimization rabbit hole, diving into radix sort on an array of integers in particular

    (tags: sorting sort performance optimization radix-sort qsort algorithms)

  • A Twitter thread about where P99s came from

    “If you’re wondering what “P-four-nines” means, it’s the latency at the 99.99th percentile, meaning only one in 10,000 requests has a worse latency. Why do we measure latency in percentiles? A thread about how how it came to be at Amazon…” This is a great thread from Andrew Certain, who managed the Performance Engineering team at Amazon in 2001. Percentiles, particularly for latency and performance measurement, were one of the big ideas which hit me like a ton of bricks when I joined Amazon, as they had been adopted whole-heartedly across the company by that stage.

    (tags: p99 percentiles quantiles history performance analysis measurement metrics amazon aws pmet)

  • The Fairy King’s advice on Trees. A poem from Early Ireland

    This medieval Irish poem about trees is taken from a text known as Aidedh Ferghusa meic Léide (the Death of Fergus). In the poem, Iubhdán, the king of the fairies, advises the ruler of Ulster, Fergus mac Léide, on the special qualities of trees and which ones can be burned in the household fire.

    (tags: fairies trees wood history fire poems poetry)

  • The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet

    The internet of today is a battleground. The idealism of the ’90s web is gone. The web 2.0 utopia?—?where we all lived in rounded filter bubbles of happiness?—?ended with the 2016 Presidential election when we learned that the tools we thought were only life-giving could be weaponized too. The public and semi-public spaces we created to develop our identities, cultivate communities, and gain knowledge were overtaken by forces using them to gain power of various kinds (market, political, social, and so on). […] The dark forests grow because they provide psychological and reputational cover. They allow us to be ourselves because we know who else is there. Compared to the free market communication style of the mass channels?—?with their high risks, high rewards, and limited moderation?—?dark forest spaces are more Scandinavian in their values and the social and emotional security they provide. They cap the downsides of looking bad and the upsides of our best jokes by virtue of a contained audience.

    (tags: culture internet dark-forests future web privacy abuse community)

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Links for 2019-05-24

  • Nixery

    Nixery provides the ability to pull ad-hoc container images from a Docker-compatible registry server. The image names specify the contents the image should contain, which are then retrieved and built by the Nix package manager. Nix is also responsible for the creation of the container images themselves.
    e.g. “docker run -ti bash”

    (tags: docker containers nix nixpkgs packaging deployment ops)

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Links for 2019-05-22

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Links for 2019-05-21

  • Facebook and Google pressured EU experts to soften fake news regulations, say insiders | openDemocracy

    The EU’s expert group met last year as a response to the wildfire spread of fake news and disinformation seen in the Brexit referendum and in the US election of President Donald Trump. Their task was to help prevent the spread of disinformation, particularly at pivotal moments such as this week’s hotly contested European parliamentary elections. However some of these experts say that representatives of Facebook and Google undermined the work of the group, which was convened by the European Commission and comprised leading European researchers, media entrepreneurs and activists. In particular, the platforms opposed proposals that would have forced them to be more transparent about their business models. And a number of insiders have raised concerns about how the tech platforms’ funding relationships with experts on the panel may have helped to water down the recommendations. In the wake of numerous reports of massive disinformation campaigns targeting the European elections, many linked to Russia and to far-right groups, EU politicians and transparency campaigners have called these fresh allegations about the tech platforms’ behaviour a “scandal”.

    (tags: google facebook disinformation russia eu democracy lobbying)

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Links for 2019-05-20

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Links for 2019-05-15

  • _Efficiently y Searching In-Memory Sorted Arrays: Revenge of the Interpolation Search?_, Peter Van Sandt, Yannis Chronis, Jignesh M. Patel [pdf]

    ‘In this paper, we focus on the problem of searching sorted, in-memory datasets. This is a key data operation, and Binary Search is the de facto algorithm that is used in practice. We consider an alternative, namely Interpolation Search, which can take advantage of hardware trends by using complex calculations to save memory accesses. Historically, Interpolation Search was found to underperform compared to other search algorithms in this setting, despite its superior asymptotic complexity. Also,Interpolation Search is known to perform poorly on non-uniform data. To address these issues, we introduce SIP (Slope reuse Interpolation), an optimized implementation of Interpolation Search, and TIP (Three point Interpolation), a new search algorithm that uses linear fractions to interpolate on non-uniform distributions. We evaluate these two algorithms against a similarly optimized Binary Search method using a variety of real and synthetic datasets. We show that SIP is up to 4 times faster on uniformly distributed data and TIP is 2-3 times faster on non-uniformly distributed data in some cases. We also design a meta-algorithm to switch between these different methods to automate picking the higher performing search algorithm, which depends on factors like data distribution.’

    (tags: papers pdf algorithms search interpolation binary-search sorted-data coding optimization performance)

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Links for 2019-05-14

  • nearly every site running ads has an /ads.txt

    Pinboard on Twitter:

    ‘I just learned that nearly every site running ads has a standardized ads.txt file that helpfully shows you how badly it murders your privacy. The file is a whitelist of all authorized resellers for programmatic advertising. For example, ‘

    (tags: ads.txt advertising pinboard privacy data-privacy adtech robots)

  • The one man behind all those slick, glossy, anti-abortion posters

    If you were wondering where all those huge, glossy high-quality posters of foetuses came from during the abortion referendum campaign in Ireland last year: ‘Graphic pictures of aborted fetuses, prayer vigils and protesters. It’s no coincidence that the anti-abortion movement looks the same from London to Dublin to Warsaw. It’s mostly Gregg Cunningham. The California-based activist has been farming out his imagery and strategies to like-minded groups in Europe for more than five years.’ ‘if you see an abortion protester with one of those big, disturbing, graphic images, that says “CHOICE?” Or “ABORTION IS MURDER”, that’s Gregg Cunningham’s work, and that’s not a protest, that’s advertising.’ It’s a business. He sells this worldwide. He’s also a climate change denier, naturally. There’s even a ‘Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform’, mirroring the Irish operation. So now you know why right-wingers accuse lefties of being ‘paid protesters’ — it’s because that’s what _they_ do. Of course, this tactic backfired dramatically in Ireland — we don’t like being told what to think by paternalistic, patronising, colonialist foreign influences these days….

    (tags: gregg-cunningham abortion us-politics posters icbr ccbr)

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Links for 2019-05-08

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Links for 2019-05-02

  • The many human errors that brought down the Boeing 737 Max – The Verge

    Had anyone [at the FAA] checked, they might have flagged MCAS for one of several reasons, including its lack of redundancy, its unacceptably high risk of failure, or its significant increase in power to the point that it was no longer just a “hazardous failure” kind of system. When asked for comment, the agency said, “The FAA’s aircraft certification processes are well established and have consistently produced safe aircraft designs.” Boeing defended the process as well. “The system of authorized representatives — delegated authority — is a robust and effective way for the FAA to execute its oversight of safety,” a spokesperson told The Verge. But that system only works when someone actually reads the paperwork.

    (tags: mcas boeing 737max fail safety faa flying regulation)

  • The Gold Standard

    Reducing your climate change impact by funding offsetting projects worldwide; usable by individuals

    (tags: climate-change climate offsetting donation crowdfunding offset)

  • Opinion | The Uber I.P.O. Is a Moral Stain on Silicon Valley – The New York Times

    Uber — and to a lesser extent, its competitor Lyft — has indeed turned out to be a poster child for Silicon Valley’s messianic vision, but not in a way that should make anyone in this industry proud. Uber’s is likely to be the biggest tech I.P.O. since Facebook’s. It will turn a handful of people into millionaires and billionaires. But the gains for everyone else — for drivers, for the environment, for the world — remain in doubt. There’s a lesson here: If Uber is really the best that Silicon Valley can do, America desperately needs to find a better way to fund groundbreaking new ideas.

    (tags: startups uber silicon-valley morality ethics future work tech)

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Links for 2019-04-30

  • Youth Spies and Curious Elders – Austin Kleon

    featuring Eno, John Waters and Stafford Beer:

    The revolutions of the future will appear in forms we don’t even recognise—in a language we can’t read. We will be looking out for twists on the old themes but not noticing that there are whole new conversations taking place. Just imagine if all the things about which we now get so heated meant nothing to those who follow us—as mysteriously irrelevant as the nuanced distinctions between anarcho-syndicalism and communist anarchism. At least we can hope for that. As the cybernetician Stafford Beer once said to me: “If we can understand our children, we’re all screwed.” So revel in your mystification and read it as a sign of a healthy future. Whatever happens next, it won’t be what you expected. If it is what you expected, it isn’t what’s happening next.

    (tags: kids learning fashion youth brian-eno john-waters stafford-beer children future music)

  • Tim Robinson’s townland index for Connemara and the Aran Islands | NUI Galway Digital Collections

    Legendary west-of-Ireland mapmaker Tim Robinson has an archive at NUIG — including the maps themselves.

    An extensive card catalogue compiled by Tim Robinson throughout the 1980s and 1990s, drawn from his field notes. The series has been arranged by Robinson into civil parishes, and further divided into townlands. For most of the townlands, there are several record cards that give a detailed description of the local landscape. These describe historical, ecclesiastical, geological, and archaeological features. Anecdotes and local lore also feature in these. Robinson adds the names of people who helped him compile his information, usually local people, and often correspondents who sent him information helping him identify the origins of placenames, or certain landmarks and artefacts. The cards also credit several secondary sources, including the OS maps and corresponding Field Name Books, Hardiman’s History of Galway, Alexander Nimmo’s map of the bogs in the West of Ireland, and many more. In all cases in this series, the placename Tim Robinson used as his title appears as the title here. Many are in Irish, and some are in English. The corresponding translation is provided in the description.

    (tags: tim-robinson ireland history connemara via:voxhib galway maps mapping culture nuig)

  • Young Life Out Of Balance: The Impact and Legacy of ‘Koyaanisqatsi’

    I found myself thinking about how 10-year-old Mike responded to these overwhelming images. The process of meaning-making for a 10-year-old kid watching a film containing a sophisticated symbolic critique of modern life fascinated me. I decided to watch Koyaanisqatsi in 2019 with a close eye towards the images and sounds that had stuck with me subconsciously in the intervening third of a century, the sequences that offered today’s me a direct connection to my younger self. In childhood I was surrounded by films, cartoons, and other educational programming that transmitted the profundity and complexity of human existence and the universe directly into my growing brain. What did Koyaanisqatsi‘s sensory bombardment, its sometimes overwhelming contrasting of nature and technology mean to me then? And how did that meaning change for me as an adult, now fully conscious of and conversant with the issues Reggio raises?

    (tags: koyaanisqatsi godfrey-reggio film art 1980s)

  • Oh dear. Huawei enterprise router ‘backdoor’ was Telnet, sighs Vodafone


    Characterising Telnet as a backdoor is a bit like describing your catflap as an access portal with no physical security features that allows multiple species to pass unhindered through a critical home security layer. In other words, massively over-egging the pudding.

    (tags: huawei vodafone funny security bloomberg overexcited drama us-politics china)

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Links for 2019-04-29

  • ‘Looping’ Created an Underground Insulin-Pump Market – The Atlantic

    By 2014, the hardware components of a DIY artificial pancreas—a small insulin pump that attaches via thin disposable tubing to the body and a continuous sensor for glucose, or sugar, that slips just under the skin—were available, but it was impossible to connect the two. That’s where the security flaw came in. The hackers realized they could use it to override old Medtronic pumps with their own algorithm that automatically calculates insulin doses based on real-time glucose data. It closed the feedback loop. They shared this code online as OpenAPS, and “looping,” as it’s called, began to catch on. Instead of micromanaging their blood sugar, people with diabetes could offload that work to an algorithm. In addition to OpenAPS, another system called Loop is now available. Dozens, then hundreds, and now thousands of people are experimenting with DIY artificial-pancreas systems—none of which the Food and Drug Administration has officially approved. And they’ve had to track down discontinued Medtronic pumps. It can sometimes take months to find one. Obviously, you can’t just call up Medtronic to order a discontinued pump with a security flaw. “It’s eBay, Craigslist, Facebook. It’s like this underground market for these pumps,”

    (tags: looping insulin diabetes health hardware open-hardware medtronic glucose medicine fda black-market)

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Links for 2019-04-26

  • Packets-per-second limits in EC2

    By running these experiments, we determined that each EC2 instance type has a packet-per-second budget. Surprisingly, this budget goes toward the total of incoming and outgoing packets. Even more surprisingly, the same budget gets split between multiple network interfaces, with some additional performance penalty. This last result informs against using multiple network interfaces when tuning the system for higher networking performance. The maximum budget for m5.metal and m5.24xlarge is 2.2M packets per second. Given that each HTTP transaction takes at least four packets, we can translate this to a maximum of 550k requests per second on the largest m5 instance with Enhanced Networking enabled.

    (tags: aws ec2 networking pps packets tcp ip benchmarking)

  • Brian Moriarty – “I Sing the Story Electric”

    The history of interactive storytelling, including a classification system for branching narrative techniques: The Foldback, Quicktime Events, Sardonic Options, Achtung Options, Checkpoint Saves, and Bait-and-Switch Options, and an example of a computerized interactive narrative from 1955, GENIAC Project 23.

    (tags: geniac kinoautomat borges narratives non-linear branching interactive-fiction games gaming ludology history stories storytelling talks)

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Links for 2019-04-24

  • When License-Plate Surveillance Goes Horribly Wrong – The New York Times

    “They built a system to mitigate harm, and yet I ended up with guns pulled on me due to faulty data,” he said. “And it’s more proof that we’ve built this invisible layer behind the scenes that leads to real-world consequences.”
    This is the common thread between automated surveillance systems — false positives happen, but the systems are designed to assume this is harmless.

    (tags: false-positives surveillance anpr license-plates automation)

  • Ireland Blocks The World on Data Privacy

    Last May, Europe imposed new data privacy guidelines that carry the hopes of hundreds of millions of people around the world — including in the United States — to rein in abuses by big tech companies. Almost a year later, it’s apparent that the new rules have a significant loophole: The designated lead regulator — the tiny nation of Ireland — has yet to bring an enforcement action against a big tech firm. That’s not entirely surprising. Despite its vows to beef up its threadbare regulatory apparatus, Ireland has a long history of catering to the very companies it is supposed to oversee, having wooed top Silicon Valley firms to the Emerald Isle with promises of low taxes, open access to top officials, and help securing funds to build glittering new headquarters. Now, data privacy experts and regulators in other countries are questioning Ireland’s commitment to policing imminent privacy concerns like Facebook’s reintroduction of facial recognition software and data-sharing with its recently purchased subsidiary WhatsApp, and Google’s sharing of information across its burgeoning number of platforms.

    (tags: ireland fail gdpr privacy data-protection data facebook eu regulation)

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Links for 2019-04-19

  • Who’s using your face? The ugly truth about facial recognition

    In order to feed this hungry system, a plethora of face repositories — such as IJB-C — have sprung up, containing images manually culled and bound together from sources as varied as university campuses, town squares, markets, cafés, mugshots and social-media sites such as Flickr, Instagram and YouTube. To understand what these faces have been helping to build, the FT worked with Adam Harvey, the researcher who first spotted Jillian York’s face in IJB-C. An American based in Berlin, he has spent years amassing more than 300 face datasets and has identified some 5,000 academic papers that cite them. The images, we found, are used to train and benchmark algorithms that serve a variety of biometric-related purposes — recognising faces at passport control, crowd surveillance, automated driving, robotics, even emotion analysis for advertising. They have been cited in papers by commercial companies including Facebook, Microsoft, Baidu, SenseTime and IBM, as well as by academics around the world, from Japan to the United Arab Emirates and Israel. “We’ve seen facial recognition shifting in purpose,” says Dave Maass, a senior investigative researcher at the EFF, who was shocked to discover that his own colleagues’ faces were in the Iarpa database. “It was originally being used for identification purposes?.?.?.?Now somebody’s face is used as a tracking number to watch them as they move across locations on video, which is a huge shift. [Researchers] don’t have to pay people for consent, they don’t have to find models, no firm has to pay to collect it, everyone gets it for free.”

    (tags: data privacy face-recognition cameras creative-commons licensing flickr open-data google facebook surveillance instagram ijb-c research iarpa)

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Links for 2019-04-18

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Links for 2019-04-16

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Links for 2019-04-15

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Links for 2019-04-12

  • _First M87 Event Horizon Telescope Results. III. Data Processing and Calibration_

    ‘We present the calibration and reduction of Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) 1.3 mm radio wavelength observations of the supermassive black hole candidate at the center of the radio galaxy M87 and the quasar 3C 279, taken during the 2017 April 5–11 observing campaign. These global very long baseline interferometric observations include for the first time the highly sensitive Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA); reaching an angular resolution of 25 ?as, with characteristic sensitivity limits of ?1 mJy on baselines to ALMA and ?10 mJy on other baselines. The observations present challenges for existing data processing tools, arising from the rapid atmospheric phase fluctuations, wide recording bandwidth, and highly heterogeneous array. In response, we developed three independent pipelines for phase calibration and fringe detection, each tailored to the specific needs of the EHT. The final data products include calibrated total intensity amplitude and phase information. They are validated through a series of quality assurance tests that show consistency across pipelines and set limits on baseline systematic errors of 2% in amplitude and 1° in phase. The M87 data reveal the presence of two nulls in correlated flux density at ?3.4 and ?8.3 G? and temporal evolution in closure quantities, indicating intrinsic variability of compact structure on a timescale of days, or several light-crossing times for a few billion solar-mass black hole. These measurements provide the first opportunity to image horizon-scale structure in M87.’

    (tags: papers data big-data telescopes eht black-holes astronomy)

  • Autonomous Precision Landing of Space Rockets – Lars Blackmore

    from ‘Frontiers of Engineering: Reports on Leading-Edge Engineering’ from the 2016 Symposium, published by the National Academies Press, regarding the algorithms used by SpaceX for their autonomous landings:

    The computation must be done autonomously, in a fraction of a second. Failure to find a feasible solution in time will crash the spacecraft into the ground. Failure to find the optimal solution may use up the available propellant, with the same result. Finally, a hardware failure may require replanning the trajectory multiple times. Page 39 Suggested Citation:”Autonomous Precision Landing of Space Rockets – Lars Blackmore.” National Academy of Engineering. 2017. Frontiers of Engineering: Reports on Leading-Edge Engineering from the 2016 Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23659. × Save Cancel A general solution to such problems has existed in one dimension since the 1960s (Meditch 1964), but not in three dimensions. Over the past decade, research has shown how to use modern mathematical optimization techniques to solve this problem for a Mars landing, with guarantees that the best solution can be found in time (Açikme?e and Ploen 2007; Blackmore et al. 2010). Because Earth’s atmosphere is 100 times as dense as that of Mars, aerodynamic forces become the primary concern rather than a disturbance so small that it can be neglected in the trajectory planning phase. As a result, Earth landing is a very different problem, but SpaceX and Blue Origin have shown that this too can be solved. SpaceX uses CVXGEN (Mattingley and Boyd 2012) to generate customized flight code, which enables very high-speed onboard convex optimization.

    (tags: spacex blue-origin convex-optimization space landing autonomous-vehicles flight algorithms)

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Links for 2019-04-11

  • Amazon workers call for zero carbon emissions and cancellation of an AWS fossil-fuel friendly program

    nice one.

    Then the activists saw an article in Gizmodo, a technology news site, that outlined how Amazon’s cloud computing division was building special offerings for oil and gas companies. On its website, Amazon says its customers include BP and Royal Dutch Shell, and its products can “find oil faster,” “recover more oil” and “reduce the cost per barrel.” In a second meeting with Amazon, the workers raised the oil industry connections with the company’s sustainability team; its members did not seem to be aware of the business, according to several employees at the meeting. “That really showed us Amazon is not taking climate change seriously if the highest levels of the sustainability team are not even aware that we have an oil and gas business,” said Ms. Cunningham, who was at the meeting.

    (tags: amazon aws fossil-fuels zero-carbon emissions climate-change sustainability)

  • Using 6 Page and 2 Page Documents To Make Organizational Decisions

    Ian Nowland has written up the Amazon 6-pager strategy:

    A challenge of organizations is the aggregation of local information to a point where a globally optimal decision can be made in a way all stakeholders have seen their feedback heard and so can “disagree and commit” on the result. This document describes the “6 pager” and “2 pager” document and review meeting process, as a mechanism to address this challenge, as practiced by the document’s author in his time in the EC2 team at Amazon, and then at Two Sigma. […] The major variant I have also seen is 2 pages with 30 minute review; when the decision is smaller in terms of stakeholders, options or impact. That being said, there is nothing magical about 2 pages, i.e., a 3 page document is fine, it just should be expected to take more than 30 minutes to review.

    (tags: amazon business decisions teams documents planning)

  • Europol Tells Internet Archive That Much Of Its Site Is ‘Terrorist Content’ | Techdirt

    ‘The Internet Archive has a few staff members that process takedown notices from law enforcement who operate in the Pacific time zone. Most of the falsely identified URLs mentioned here (including the report from the French government) were sent to us in the middle of the night – between midnight and 3am Pacific – and all of the reports were sent outside of the business hours of the Internet Archive. The one-hour requirement essentially means that we would need to take reported URLs down automatically and do our best to review them after the fact. It would be bad enough if the mistaken URLs in these examples were for a set of relatively obscure items on our site, but the EU IRU’s lists include some of the most visited pages on and materials that obviously have high scholarly and research value.’

    (tags: eu europol policing france archival web freedom censorship fail)

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Links for 2019-04-10

  • At wit’s end with my preschooler : Parenting

    This /r/parenting thread has some good advice on dealing with kids’ meltdowns. I wish I had this a few years ago

    (tags: parenting kids tantrums anger reddit advice)

  • Spark memory tuning on EMR

    ‘Best practices for successfully managing memory for Apache Spark applications on Amazon EMR’, on the AWS Big Data blog. ‘In this blog post, I detailed the possible out-of-memory errors, their causes, and a list of best practices to prevent these errors when submitting a Spark application on Amazon EMR. My colleagues and I formed these best practices after thorough research and understanding of various Spark configuration properties and testing multiple Spark applications. These best practices apply to most of out-of-memory scenarios, though there might be some rare scenarios where they don’t apply. However, we believe that this blog post provides all the details needed so you can tweak parameters and successfully run a Spark application.’

    (tags: spark emr aws tuning memory ooms java)

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Links for 2019-04-09

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Links for 2019-04-08

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Links for 2019-04-05

  • _Screens, Teens, and Psychological Well-Being: Evidence From Three Time-Use-Diary Studies_ – Amy Orben, Andrew K. Przybylski, 2019

    Paper from Amy Orben, Andrew K. Przybylski, of the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, and the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford:

    The notion that digital-screen engagement decreases adolescent well-being has become a recurring feature in public, political, and scientific conversation. The current level of psychological evidence, however, is far removed from the certainty voiced by many commentators. There is little clear-cut evidence that screen time decreases adolescent well-being, and most psychological results are based on single-country, exploratory studies that rely on inaccurate but popular self-report measures of digital-screen engagement. In this study, which encompassed three nationally representative large-scale data sets from Ireland, the United States, and the United Kingdom (N = 17,247 after data exclusions) and included time-use-diary measures of digital-screen engagement, we used both exploratory and confirmatory study designs to introduce methodological and analytical improvements to a growing psychological research area. We found little evidence for substantial negative associations between digital-screen engagement — measured throughout the day or particularly before bedtime — and adolescent well-being.

    (tags: screens screen-time teens mental-health psychology papers research)

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Links for 2019-04-03

  • Waterford Distillery on Whisky “Finishing”

    Here’s an inexpensive illusion for a whisky brand to acquire more shelf presence. Purchase three barrels of whisky from a generic pool of ex-bourbon matured stocks. Re-rack a couple of these barrels into new barrels – a sherry cask, or maybe you’d like the name of a French chateau to add more gravitas to a label and pull another rabbit out of the hat? Give it a few weeks, then bottle each of them in turn. Instead of one bottle on the shelf, you have three. You’ll more easily catch the eye of the whisky consumer as they walk by, pondering the nature of what ‘finishing’ actually means. These days, the shelves of retailers and at airports are rammed up with all sorts of fancy ‘finishes’ – which is to say a whisky that has been re-racked into another barrel and left to mature for a period of time; perhaps up to a couple of years, but usually just a few brief months.
    Well said. I’m looking forward to their whisky…

    (tags: whiskey whisky waterford-distillery booze finishing distilling barrels)

  • Formal GDPR complaint against IAB Europe’s “cookie wall” and GDPR consent guidance

    Fantastic :) A formal complaint has been filed with the Irish Data Protection Commission against IAB Europe, the tracking industry’s primary lobbying organization:

    Tracking and cookie walls: Visitors to IAB Europe’s website,, are confronted with a “cookie wall” that forces them to accept tracking by Google, Facebook, and others, which may then monitor them. Dr. Ryan has complained to the Irish Data Protection Commission that this is a breach of the GDPR, which protects people in Europe from being forced to accept processing for their data for any purpose other than the provision of the requested service. “One should not be forced to accept web-wide profiling by unknown companies as a condition of access to a website”, said Dr Johnny Ryan of Brave. “This would be like Facebook preventing you from accessing the Newsfeed until you have clicked a button permitting it to share your data with Cambridge Analytica.” Simon McGarr of McGarr Solicitors, who has worked on data protection cases for Digital Rights Ireland, represents Dr Ryan in his complaint. Mr McGarr said “Where companies rely on consent to process people’s data it is critical that this is more than a box ticking exercise. For consent to be valid, it must be freely given, informed, specific and unambiguous. There’s nothing intrinsically good or bad in cookie technology – what matters is ensuring it’s applied in a way which respects individuals’ rights.” Challenging IAB Europe’s industry guidance on the GDPR: The complaint to the Irish Data Protection Commission will also test IAB Europe’s GDPR guidance to the online advertising industry. IAB Europe has put itself forward as a primary designer of the online tracking industry’s data protection notices. It has told major media organizations, tracking companies, and advertising technology companies that they can sidestep the GDPR, and rely instead on the ePrivacy Directive, which IAB Europe has interpreted as more lax in protecting personal data. IAB Europe has widely promoted the notion that access to a website or app can be made conditional on consent for data processing that is not necessary for the requested service to be delivered, despite the clear requirements of the GDPR, and statements from several national data protection authorities, that say otherwise. “This complaint will make it plain that the media and advertising industry should not rely on IAB Europe for GDPR guidance”, said Dr Ryan.

    (tags: dpc ireland brave iab-europe iab cookies tracking gdpr law eu)

  • The 9 Categories of Reply Guys

    “#WomeninSTEM get a lot of “Reply Guys” who repeat the same unhelpful comments. @shrewshrew and I (a woman & a man in science) have attempted to catalog those replies, to save us all the trouble of writing new responses every time. presenting THE NINE TYPES OF REPLY GUYS”

    (tags: twitter thread humor mansplaining sexism misogyny reply-guys funny)

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Links for 2019-04-02

  • YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Let Toxic Videos Run Rampant – Bloomberg

    As of 2017, YouTube’s policy for how content moderators handle conspiracy theories didn’t exist, according to a former moderator who specialized in foreign-language content.  At the end of the year, fewer than twenty people were on the staff for “trust and safety,” the unit overseeing content policies, according to a former staffer. The team had to “fight tooth and nail” for more resources from the tech giant, this person said. A YouTube spokeswoman said that the division has grown “significantly” since but declined to share exact numbers. In February of 2018, the video calling the Parkland shooting victims “crisis actors” went viral on YouTube’s trending page. Policy staff suggested soon after limiting recommendations on the page to vetted news sources. YouTube management rejected the proposal, according to a person with knowledge of the event. The person didn’t know the reasoning behind the rejection, but noted that YouTube was then intent on accelerating its viewing time for videos related to news. 

    (tags: youtube google alphabet moderation conspiracy-theories news virality engagement)

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Links for 2019-04-01

  • April Fool’s Day is upon us – What’s your best prank given to or received by your kids? : Parenting

    heh heh. revenge next year will be sweet

    (tags: pranks april-fools kids parenting)

  • Tesla lane-recognition autopilot fooled by three small stickers

    ‘Tesla autopilot module’s lane recognition function has a good robustness in an ordinary external environment (no strong light, rain, snow, sand and dust interference), but it still doesn’t handle the situation correctly in our test scenario. This kind of attack is simple to deploy, and the materials are easy to obtain. As we talked in the previous introduction of Tesla’s lane recognition function, Tesla uses a pure computer vision solution for lane recognition, and we found in this attack experiment that the vehicle driving decision is only based on computer vision lane recognition results. Our experiments proved that this architecture has security risks and reverse lane recognition is one of the necessary functions for autonomous driving in non-closed roads. In the scene we build, if the vehicle knows that the fake lane is pointing to the reverse [oncoming traffic] lane, it should ignore this fake lane and then it could avoid a traffic accident.’

    (tags: adversarial-classification cars ml machine-learning tesla driving self-driving-cars)

  • We Built A Broken Internet. Now We Need To Burn It To The Ground.

    The promise of the internet was that it was going to give voice to the voiceless, visibility to the invisible, and power to the powerless. That’s what originally excited me about it. That’s what originally excited a ton of people about it. It was supposed to be an engine of equality. Suddenly, everyone could tell their story. Suddenly, everyone could sing their song. Suddenly, that one weird kid in Helena, Montana, could find another weird kid just like them in Bakersfield, California, and they could talk and know they weren’t alone. Suddenly, we didn’t need anybody’s permission to publish. We put our stories and songs and messages and artwork where the world could find them. For a while it was beautiful, it was messy, and it was punk as fuck. We all rolled up our sleeves and helped to build it. We were the ones who were supposed to guide it there, and we failed. We failed because we were naive enough to believe everyone had the same goals we did. We failed because we underestimated greed. We failed because we didn’t pay attention to history. We failed because our definition of we wasn’t big enough. We designed and built platforms that undermined democracy across the world. We designed and built technology that is used to round up immigrants and refugees and put them in cages. We designed and built platforms that young, stupid, hateful men use to demean and shame women. We designed and built an entire industry that exploits the poor in order to make old rich men even richer.

    (tags: design ethics internet web twitter social-media)

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Links for 2019-03-29

  • Announcing Lucet: Fastly’s native WebAssembly compiler and runtime

    Lucet is designed to take WebAssembly beyond the browser, and build a platform for faster, safer execution on Fastly’s edge cloud. WebAssembly is already supported by many languages including Rust, TypeScript, C, and C++, and many more have WebAssembly support in development. We want to enable our customers to go beyond Fastly VCL and move even more logic to the edge, and use any language they choose. Lucet is the engine behind Terrarium, our experimental platform for edge computation using WebAssembly. Soon, we will make it available on Fastly’s edge cloud as well. A major design requirement for Lucet was to be able to execute on every single request that Fastly handles. That means creating a WebAssembly instance for each of the tens of thousands of requests per second in a single process, which requires a dramatically lower runtime footprint than possible with a browser JavaScript engine. Lucet can instantiate WebAssembly modules in under 50 microseconds, with just a few kilobytes of memory overhead. By comparison, Chromium’s V8 engine takes about 5 milliseconds, and tens of megabytes of memory overhead, to instantiate JavaScript or WebAssembly programs. With Lucet, Fastly’s edge cloud can execute tens of thousands of WebAssembly programs simultaneously, in the same process, without compromising security. The Lucet compiler and runtime work together to ensure each WebAssembly program is allowed access to only its own resources. This means that Fastly’s customers will be able to write and run programs in more common, general-purpose languages, without compromising the security and safety we’ve always offered.

    (tags: lucet cdn edge-computing wasm webassembly fastly rust c c++ typescript)

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