Links for 2015-02-02

  • A Quiet Defense of Patterns

    Marc Brooker: ‘When it comes to building working software in the long term, the emotional pursuit of craft is not as important as the human pursuit of teamwork, or the intellectual pursuit of correctness. Patterns is one of the most powerful ideas we have. The critics may be right that it devalues the craft, but we would all do well to remember that the craft of software is a means, not an end.’

    (tags: marc-brooker design-patterns coding software teamwork)

  • One Hundred Miles of Solitude

    Via Walter, the best description of the appeal of Minecraft I’ve read:

    Minecraft is exceptionally good at intrinsic narrative. It recognises, preserves and rewards everything you do. It presses you to play frontiersman. A Minecraft world ends up dotted with torchlit paths, menhirs, landmarks, emergency caches. Here’s the hole where you dug stone for your first house. Here’s the causeway you built from your spawn point to a handy woodland. Here’s the crater in the landscape where the exploding monster took out you and your wheatfield at once. And, of course, here’s your enormous castle above a waterfall. There’s no utility in building anything bigger than a hut, but the temptations of architecture are irresistible. Minecraft isn’t so much a world generator as a screenshot-generator and a war-story generator. This is what will get the game the bulk of its critical attention, and deservedly so. That’s why I want to call attention to the extrinsic narrative. It’s minimal, implicit,  accidental and very powerful. It’s this: you wake alone beside an endless sea in a pristine, infinite wilderness. The world is yours. You can literally sculpt mountains, with time and effort. You’ll die and be reborn on the beach where you woke first. You’ll walk across the world forever and never see another face. You can build a whole empire of roads and palaces and beacon towers, and the population of that empire will only ever be you. When you leave, your towers will stand empty forever. I haven’t seen that surfaced in a game before. It’s strong wine.

    (tags: minecraft narrative gaming games story)

  • Backstage Blog – Prometheus: Monitoring at SoundCloud – SoundCloud Developers

    whoa, this is pretty excellent. The major improvement over a graphite-based system would be the multi-dimensional tagging of metrics, which we currently have to do by simply expanding the graphite metric’s name to encompass all those dimensions and use searching at query time, inefficiently.

    (tags: monitoring soundcloud prometheus metrics service-metrics graphite alerting)

  • ‘Prometheus instrumentation library for JVM applications’

    Good example of a clean java OSS release, from Soundcloud. will be copying bits of this myself soon…

    (tags: prometheus java libraries oss github sonatype maven releases)

  • Google Java Style

    A good set of basic, controversy-free guidelines for clean java code style

    (tags: style java google coding guidelines formatting coding-standards)

  • A Brief History of NSA Backdoors

    from 1946 to present

    (tags: nsa security backdoors sigint actel dual_ec_drbg crypto-ag crypto)

  • Study: You Can’t Change an Anti-Vaxxer’s Mind

    According to a major new study in the journal ‘Pediatrics’, trying to [persuade anti-vaxxers to vaccinate] may actually make the problem worse. The paper tested the effectiveness of four separate pro-vaccine messages, three of which were based very closely on how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) itself talks about vaccines. The results can only be called grim: Not a single one of the messages was successful when it came to increasing parents’ professed intent to vaccinate their children. And in several cases the messages actually backfired, either increasing the ill-founded belief that vaccines cause autism or even, in one case, apparently reducing parents’ intent to vaccinate.

    (tags: vaccination health measles mmr autism facts via:mrneutron stupidity cdc papers vaccines)

  • Coining “Dysguria”

    “dysaguria” is the perfect noun, and “dysagurian” is the perfect adjective, to describe the eponymous company in Dave Eggers’ The Circle. It’s not in the same league as Orwell, or Huxley, or Bradbury, or Burgess. But it does raise very important questions about what could possibly go wrong if one company controlled all the world’s information. In the novel, the company operates according to the motto “all that happens must be known”; and one of its bosses, Eamon Bailey, encourages everywoman employee Mae Holland to live an always-on (clear, transparent) life according the maxims “secrets are lies”, “sharing is caring”, and “privacy is theft”. Eggers’s debts to dystopian fiction are apparent. But, whereas writers like Orwell, Huxley, Bradbury, and Burgess were concerned with totalitarian states, Eggers is concerned with a totalitarian company. However, the noun “dystopia” and the adjective “dystopian” – perfect though they are for the terror of military/security authoritarianism in 1984, or Brave new World, or Farenheit 451, or A Clockwork Orange – do not to my mind encapsulate the nightmare of industrial/corporate tyranny in The Circle. On the other hand, “dysaguria” as a noun and “dysagurian” as an adjective, in my view really do capture the essence of that “frightening company”.

    (tags: dysaguria dystopia future sf authoritarianism surveillance the-circle google facebook)

  • A NetHack bot ascends!

    Via negatendo: ‘I would like to share my excitement about the fact that after almost a year of development, an instance of my NetHack bot has finally managed to ascend a game for the first time without human interventions, wizard mode cheats or bones stuffing, and did so at the public server at acehack.de.’ The bot is written in Clojure. Apparently ‘pudding farming’ did the trick…

    (tags: clojure via:negatendo pudding-farming games nethack bots)

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