Links for 2014-03-05

  • A cautionary tale about building large-scale polyglot systems

    ‘a fucking nightmare’:

    Cascading requires a compilation step, yet since you’re writing Ruby code, you get get none of the benefits of static type checking. It was standard to discover a type issue only after kicking off a job on, oh, 10 EC2 machines, only to have it fail because of a type mismatch. And user code embedded in strings would regularly fail to compile – which you again wouldn’t discover until after your job was running. Each of these were bad individually, together, they were a fucking nightmare. The interaction between the code in strings and the type system was the worst of all possible worlds. No type checking, yet incredibly brittle, finicky and incomprehensible type errors at run time. I will never forget when one of my friends at Etsy was learning Cascading.JRuby and he couldn’t get a type cast to work. I happened to know what would work: a triple cast. You had to cast the value to the type you wanted, not once, not twice, but THREE times.

    (tags: etsy scalding cascading adtuitive war-stories languages polyglot ruby java strong-typing jruby types hadoop)

  • It’s So Easy

    Attempting to cash out of Bitcoins turns out to be absurdly difficult:

    Trying to sell the coins in person, and basically saying he ether wants Cash, or a Cashiers check (since it can be handed over right then and there), has apparently been a hilarious clusterfuck. Today he met some guy infront of his bank, and apparently as soon as he mentioned that he needs to get the cash checked to make sure it is not counterfeit, the guy freaked out and basically walked away. Stuff like this has been happening all week, and he apparently so far has only sold a single coin of several hundred.

    (tags: bitcoin fail funny mtgox fraud cash fiat-currency via:rsynnott buttcoin)

  • Florida cops used IMSI catchers over 200 times without a warrant

    Harris is the leading maker of [IMSI catchers aka “stingrays”] in the U.S., and the ACLU has long suspected that the company has been loaning the devices to police departments throughout the state for product testing and promotional purposes. As the court document notes in the 2008 case, “the Tallahassee Police Department is not the owner of the equipment.” The ACLU now suspects these police departments may have all signed non-disclosure agreements with the vendor and used the agreement to avoid disclosing their use of the equipment to courts. “The police seem to have interpreted the agreement to bar them even from revealing their use of Stingrays to judges, who we usually rely on to provide oversight of police investigations,” the ACLU writes.

    (tags: aclu police stingrays imsi-catchers privacy cellphones mobile-phones security wired)

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