Links for 2019-01-24

  • We may finally know what causes Alzheimer’s – and how to stop it

    This is amazing:

    If you bled when you brushed your teeth this morning, you might want to get that seen to. We may finally have found the long-elusive cause of Alzheimer’s disease: Porphyromonas gingivalis, the key bacteria in chronic gum disease. That’s bad, as gum disease affects around a third of all people. But the good news is that a drug that blocks the main toxins of P. gingivalis is entering major clinical trials this year, and research published today shows it might stop and even reverse Alzheimer’s. There could even be a vaccine.
    (via John Looney)

    (tags: via:johnlooney gingivitis alzheimers brain health medicine teeth)

  • Brexit: debunking “trading on WTO terms”

    a favourite brexiteer talking point demolished

    (tags: wto trade brexit uk)

  • research!rsc: Our Software Dependency Problem

    The kind of critical examination of specific dependencies that I outlined in this article is a significant amount of work and remains the exception rather than the rule. But I doubt there are any developers who actually make the effort to do this for every possible new dependency. I have only done a subset of them for a subset of my own dependencies. Most of the time the entirety of the decision is “let’s see what happens.” Too often, anything more than that seems like too much effort. But the Copay and Equifax attacks are clear warnings of real problems in the way we consume software dependencies today. We should not ignore the warnings. I offer three broad recommendations. * Recognize the problem. If nothing else, I hope this article has convinced you that there is a problem here worth addressing. We need many people to focus significant effort on solving it. * Establish best practices for today. We need to establish best practices for managing dependencies using what’s available today. This means working out processes that evaluate, reduce, and track risk, from the original adoption decision through to production use. In fact, just as some engineers specialize in testing, it may be that we need engineers who specialize in managing dependencies. * Develop better dependency technology for tomorrow. Dependency managers have essentially eliminated the cost of downloading and installing a dependency. Future development effort should focus on reducing the cost of the kind of evaluation and maintenance necessary to use a dependency. For example, package discovery sites might work to find more ways to allow developers to share their findings. Build tools should, at the least, make it easy to run a package’s own tests. More aggressively, build tools and package management systems could also work together to allow package authors to test new changes against all public clients of their APIs. Languages should also provide easy ways to isolate a suspect package.

    (tags: dependencies software coding work)

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One Comment

  1. Nix
    Posted January 25, 2019 at 18:30 | Permalink

    That headline is grossly misleading. “We find bacteria in the brains of people with Alzheimers’, who are known to have degraded immune systems in the brain because that is one of the things the disease attacks” does not equal “we finally know what causes Alzheimer’s”. It may be one of a great many causes (I would be astonished if it were the only cause): it may just be opportunistic bacteria attacking people who already have Alzheimer’s. (We already know that Alzheimer’s modulates inflammatory and immune pathways in the brain.)

    Similarly, P. gingivalis has also been found in heart tissue of people who have heart attacks, and may or may not be a contributing factor: but it is definitely not the only cause of heart attacks. It clearly likes to invade damaged tissue and may well do bad things once it’s there, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a cause, let alone the only cause.