This is the downside of publicly-funded labs selling patent-licensing rights to private companies:
Given the urgency, it’s inexplicable that one of the candidate vaccines, developed at the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) in Winnipeg, has yet to go in the first volunteer’s arm, says virologist Heinz Feldmann, who helped develop the vaccine while at PHAC. “It’s a farce; these doses are lying around there while people are dying in Africa,” says Feldmann, who now works at the Rocky Mountain Laboratories of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in Hamilton, Montana. At the center of the controversy is NewLink Genetics, a small company in Ames, Iowa, that bought a license to the vaccine’s commercialization from the Canadian government in 2010, and is now suddenly caught up in what WHO calls “the most severe acute public health emergency seen in modern times.” Becker and others say the company has been dragging its feet the past 2 months because it is worried about losing control over the development of the vaccine.
“A command-line power tool for Twitter.” It really is — much better timeline searchability than the “real” Twitter UI, for example
We’ve had almost 40 years to develop, test and stockpile an Ebola vaccine. That has not happened because big pharma has been entirely focused on shareholder value and profits over safety and survival from a deadly virus. For the better part of Ebola’s 38 years ? big pharma has been asleep. The question ahead is what virus or superbug will wake them up?
a “firehose of emails that are just going out at 2:45 in the morning” and “if you forwarded something to one of your people at 1 o’clock in the morning and they didn’t reply promptly, you got a little annoyed at them.”Fuck. That.
“Snopes for Twitter”. great idea
FB are using a Blu-Ray robot library
That the company’s consistent, nearly frozen posture of disingenuous smirking means that the most perceptible “Uber problem” is almost always how it frames things, rather than how it actually operates, whether it’s systematically sabotaging of competitors or using its quarter-billion-dollar war chest to relentlessly cut fares and driver pay to unsustainable levels in order to undercut existing transit systems, is remarkable in its way, though. If your company’s trying to conquer the world, in the end, being a dick might be the best PR strategy of all.
The sql! macro will validate that its string literal argument parses as a valid Postgres query.Based on https://pganalyze.com/blog/parse-postgresql-queries-in-ruby.html , which links the PostgreSQL server code directly into a C extension. Mad stuff, Ted! (via Rob Clancy)
right down the road from my house! how convenient
‘a distribution of long-living [distributed] transactions where steps may interleave, each with associated compensating transactions providing a compensation path across databases in the occurrence of a fault that may or may not compensate the entire chain back to the originator.’
this is nuts. 99 cents per month for a super-cheap host — I’m sure there’s a use case for this (via Elliot)
Prototype is a brand new festival of play and interaction. This is your chance to experience the world from a new perspective with removable camera eyes, to jostle and joust to a Bach soundtrack whilst trying to disarm an opponent, to throw shapes as you figure out who got an invite to the silent disco, to duel with foam pool noodles, and play chase in the dark with flashlights. A unique festival that incites new types of social interaction, involving technology and the city, Prototype is a series of performances, workshops, talks, and games that spill across the city, alongside an adult playground in the heart of Temple Bar.Project Arts Centre, 17-18 October. looks nifty
I want to tell you about when violent campaigns against harmless bloggers weren’t any halfway decent troll’s idea of a good time — even the then-malicious would’ve found it too easy to be fun. When the punches went up, not down. Before the best players quit or went criminal or were changed by too long a time being angry. When there was cruelty, yes, and palpable strains of sexism and racism and every kind of phobia, sure, but when these things had the character of adolescents pushing the boundaries of cheap shock, disagreeable like that but not criminal. Not because that time was defensible — it wasn’t, not really — but because it was calmer and the rage wasn’t there yet. Because trolling still meant getting a rise for a laugh, not making helpless people fear for their lives because they’re threatening some Redditor’s self-proclaimed monopoly on reason. I want to tell you about it because I want to make sense of how it is now and why it changed.
Paul Hickey’s gite near Toulouse, available for rent! ‘a beautifully converted barn on 5 acres, wonderfully located in the French countryside. 4 Bedrooms, sleeps 2-10, Large Pool, Tennis Court, Large Trampoline, Broadband Internet, 30 Mins Toulouse/Albi, 65 Mins Carcassonne, 90 Mins Rodez’
The Ello founders are positioning it as an alternative to other social networks — they won’t sell your data or show you ads. “You are not the product.” If they were independently-funded and run as some sort of co-op, bootstrapped until profitable, maybe that’s plausible. Hard, but possible. But VCs don’t give money out of goodwill, and taking VC funding — even seed funding — creates outside pressures that shape the inevitable direction of a company.
With the increasing size and complexity of Hadoop deployments, being able to locate and understand performance is key to running an efficient platform. Inviso provides a convenient view of the inner workings of jobs and platform. By simply overlaying a new view on existing infrastructure, Inviso can operate inside any Hadoop environment with a small footprint and provide easy access and insight.This sounds pretty useful.
‘Linux is becoming the thing that we adopted Linux to get away from.’ Great post on the horrible complexity of systemd. It reminds me of nothing more than mid-90s AIX, which I had the displeasure of opsing for a while — the Linux distros have taken a very wrong turn here.
this is truly heinous. Given that any CGI which invokes popen()/system() on a Linux system where /bin/sh is a link to bash is vulnerable, there will be a lot of vulnerable services out there (via Elliot)
Some common problems which arise using Chef with ASGs in EC2, and how these guys avoided it — they stopped using Chef for service provisioning, and instead baked AMIs when a new version was released. ASGs using pre-baked AMIs definitely works well so this makes good sense IMO.
Mark “ONEList” Fletcher’s back, and he’s reinventing the email group! awesome.
email groups (the modern version of mailing lists) have stagnated over the past decade. Yahoo Groups and Google Groups both exude the dank air of benign neglect. Google Groups hasn’t been updated in years, and some of Yahoo’s recent changes have actually made Yahoo Groups worse! And yet, millions of people put up with this uncertainty and neglect, because email groups are still one of the best ways to communicate with groups of people. And I have a plan to make them even better. So today I’m launching Groups.io in beta, to bring email groups into the 21st Century. At launch, we have many features that those other services don’t have, including: Integration with other services, including: Github, Google Hangouts, Dropbox, Instagram, Facebook Pages, and the ability to import Feeds into your groups. Businesses and organizations can have their own private groups on their own subdomain. Better archive organization, using hashtags. Many more email delivery options. The ability to mute threads or hashtags. Fully searchable archives, including searching within attachments. One other feature that Groups.io has that Yahoo and Google don’t, is a business model that’s not based on showing ads to you. Public groups are completely free on Groups.io. Private groups and organizations are very reasonably priced.
SFU announces award for students who demonstrate excellence in contributing to an Open Source project
‘provides citizens, public sector workers and companies with real-time information, time-series indicator data, and interactive maps about all aspects of the city. It enables users to gain detailed, up to date intelligence about the city that aids everyday decision making and fosters evidence-informed analysis.’
New from Facebook engineering:
Last year, at the Data@Scale event and at the USENIX Networked Systems Design and Implementation conference , we spoke about turning caches into distributed systems using software we developed called mcrouter (pronounced “mick-router”). Mcrouter is a memcached protocol router that is used at Facebook to handle all traffic to, from, and between thousands of cache servers across dozens of clusters distributed in our data centers around the world. It is proven at massive scale — at peak, mcrouter handles close to 5 billion requests per second. Mcrouter was also proven to work as a standalone binary in an Amazon Web Services setup when Instagram used it last year before fully transitioning to Facebook’s infrastructure. Today, we are excited to announce that we are releasing mcrouter’s code under an open-source BSD license. We believe it will help many sites scale more easily by leveraging Facebook’s knowledge about large-scale systems in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-deploy package.This is pretty crazy — basically turns a memcached cluster into a much more usable clustered-storage system, with features like shadowing production traffic, cold cache warmup, online reconfiguration, automatic failover, prefix-based routing, replicated pools, etc. Lots of good features.
Where you have obtained contact details in the context of the sale of a product or service, you may only use these details for direct marketing by electronic mail if the following conditions are met: the product or service you are marketing is of a kind similar to that which you sold to the customer at the time you obtained their contact details At the time you collected the details, you gave the customer the opportunity to object, in an easy manner and without charge, to their use for marketing purposes Each time you send a marketing message, you give the customer the right to object to receipt of further messages The sale of the product or service occurred not more than twelve months prior to the sending of the electronic marketing communication or, where applicable, the contact details were used for the sending of an electronic marketing communication in that twelve month period.
This algorithm, which Bob Boyer and I invented in 1980, decides which element of a sequence is in the majority, provided there is such an element.
tinystat is used to compare two or more sets of measurements (e.g., runs of a multiple runs of benchmarks of two possible implementations) and determine if they are statistically different, using Student’s t-test. It’s inspired largely by FreeBSD’s ministat (written by Poul-Henning Kamp).
The relationship between this Dark Tetrad [of narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and sadism] and trolling is so significant, that the authors write the following in their paper: “… the associations between sadism and GAIT (Global Assessment of Internet Trolling) scores were so strong that it might be said that online trolls are prototypical everyday sadists.” [emphasis added] Trolls truly enjoy making you feel bad. To quote the authors once more (because this is a truly quotable article): “Both trolls and sadists feel sadistic glee at the distress of others. Sadists just want to have fun … and the Internet is their playground!”Bloody hell.
Great runbook for C* ops
get page cache statistics for files.
A common question when tuning databases and other IO-intensive applications is, “is Linux caching my data or not?” pcstat gets that information for you using the mincore(2) syscall. I wrote this is so that Apache Cassandra users can see if ssTables are being cached.
One could read the success of Go as an indictment of contemporary PLT, but I prefer to see it as a reminder of just how much language tooling matters. Perhaps even more critical, Go’s lean syntax, selective semantics, and cautiously-chosen feature set demonstrate the importance of a strong editorial voice in a language’s design and evolution. Having co-authored a book on Scala, it’s been painful to see systems programmers in my community express frustration with the ambitious hybrid language. I’ve watched them abandon ship and swim back to the familiar shores of Java, or alternately into the uncharted waters of Clojure, Go, and Rust. A pity, but not entirely surprising if we’re being honest with ourselves. Unlike Go, Scala has struggled with tooling from its inception. More than that, Scala has had a growing editorial problem. Every shop I know that’s been successful with Scala has limited itself to some subset of the language. Meanwhile, in pursuit of enterprise developers, its surface area has expanded in seemingly every direction. The folks behind Scala have, thankfully, taken notice: upcoming releases are promised to focus on simplicity, clarity, and better tooling.
“The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is similarly suspicious of prior restraints,” wrote Justice Lehrmann in the decision highlighting a cornerstone that has “been reaffirmed time and again by the Supreme Court, this Court, Texas courts of appeals, legal treatises, and even popular culture.” That last reference to popular culture contained an interesting footnote citing none other than Walter Sobchak, a character in ['The Big Lebowski'].
Ben Hughes on twitter: “JSON is fine for config files, if you don’t want to comment your config file. Which is a way of saying, it isn’t fine for config files.”
Peter Bailis complaining about the horrors of modern transactional databases and their unserializability, which noone seems to be paying attention to: ‘As you’re probably aware, there’s an ongoing and often lively debate between transactional adherents and more recent “NoSQL” upstarts about related issues of usability, data corruption, and performance. But, in contrast, many of these transactional inherents and the research community as a whole have effectively ignored weak isolation — even in a single server setting and despite the fact that literally millions of businesses today depend on weak isolation and that many of these isolation levels have been around for almost three decades.’ ‘Despite the ubiquity of weak isolation, I haven’t found a database architect, researcher, or user who’s been able to offer an explanation of when, and, probably more importantly, why isolation models such as Read Committed are sufficient for correct execution. It’s reasonably well known that these weak isolation models represent “ACID in practice,” but I don’t think we have any real understanding of how so many applications are seemingly (!?) okay running under them. (If you haven’t seen these models before, they’re a little weird. For example, Read Committed isolation generally prevents users from reading uncommitted or non-final writes but allows a number of bad things to happen, like lost updates during concurrent read-modify-write operations. Why is this apparently okay for many applications?)’
‘In this paper, we describe a generic concurrency control technique with Blocking write operations and Wait-Free Population Oblivious read operations, which we named the Left-Right technique. It is of particular interest for real-time applications with dedicated Reader threads, due to its wait-free property that gives strong latency guarantees and, in addition, there is no need for automatic Garbage Collection. The Left-Right pattern can be applied to any data structure, allowing concurrent access to it similarly to a Reader-Writer lock, but in a non-blocking manner for reads. We present several variations of the Left-Right technique, with different versioning mechanisms and state machines. In addition, we constructed an optimistic approach that can reduce synchronization for reads.’ See also http://concurrencyfreaks.blogspot.ie/2013/12/left-right-concurrency-control.html for java implementation code.
‘bring your .bashrc, .vimrc, etc. with you when you ssh’. A really nice implementation of this idea (much nicer than my own version!)
remotely trigger GCs, finalization, heap dumps etc. Handy
We appealed this decision, but on June 2014 the Upper Tribunal agreed with the First-tier Tribunal, cancelling our monetary penalty notice against Niebel and McNeish, and largely rendering our power to issue fines for breaches of PECR involving spam texts redundant.This is pretty terrible. The UK appears to have the weakest anti-spam regime in Europe due to the lack of powers given to ICO.
A nice curl/wget replacement which supports multi-TCP-connection downloads of HTTP/FTP resources. packaged for most Linux variants and OSX via brew
Linux users familiar with other filesystems or ZFS users from other platforms will often ask whether ZFS on Linux (ZoL) is “stable”. The short answer is yes, depending on your definition of stable. The term stable itself is somewhat ambiguous.Oh dear. that’s not a good start. Good reference page, though
“This is rule No. 1: There are no screens in the bedroom. Period. Ever.”
How can we measure the number of additional clicks or sales that an AdWords campaign generated? How can we estimate the impact of a new feature on app downloads? How do we compare the effectiveness of publicity across countries? In principle, all of these questions can be answered through causal inference. In practice, estimating a causal effect accurately is hard, especially when a randomised experiment is not available. One approach we’ve been developing at Google is based on Bayesian structural time-series models. We use these models to construct a synthetic control — what would have happened to our outcome metric in the absence of the intervention. This approach makes it possible to estimate the causal effect that can be attributed to the intervention, as well as its evolution over time. We’ve been testing and applying structural time-series models for some time at Google. For example, we’ve used them to better understand the effectiveness of advertising campaigns and work out their return on investment. We’ve also applied the models to settings where a randomised experiment was available, to check how similar our effect estimates would have been without an experimental control. Today, we’re excited to announce the release of CausalImpact, an open-source R package that makes causal analyses simple and fast. With its release, all of our advertisers and users will be able to use the same powerful methods for estimating causal effects that we’ve been using ourselves. Our main motivation behind creating the package has been to find a better way of measuring the impact of ad campaigns on outcomes. However, the CausalImpact package could be used for many other applications involving causal inference. Examples include problems found in economics, epidemiology, or the political and social sciences.
Shamefully, I haven’t visited most of these!
Now a series of decisions from lower courts is starting to bring the ruling’s practical consequences into focus. And the results have been ugly for fans of software patents. By my count there have been 11 court rulings on the patentability of software since the Supreme Court’s decision — including six that were decided this month. Every single one of them has led to the patent being invalidated. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all software patents are in danger — these are mostly patents that are particularly vulnerable to challenge under the new Alice precedent. But it does mean that the pendulum of patent law is now clearly swinging in an anti-patent direction. Every time a patent gets invalidated, it strengthens the bargaining position of every defendant facing a lawsuit from a patent troll.
A practical demo of “differential privacy” — allowing public data dumps to happen without leaking privacy, using Laplace noise addition
I’m ambivalent about Microsoft acquiring Mojang. Will they Embrace and Extend Minecraft as they’ve done with other categories? Let’s hope not. On the other hand, some adult supervision and a Plugin API would be welcome. Mojang have the financial resources but lack the will and focus needed to publish and support a Plugin API. Perhaps Mojang themselves don’t realise just how important their little game has become.
Dublin, 24th September 2014, hosted by Enterprise Ireland. Hosted by former Ubuntu counsel (via gcarr)
Even with buffered streams the application must be able to instruct the OS to forward all pending data when the stream has been flushed for optimal performance. The application does not know where packet boundaries reside, hence buffer flushes might not align on packet boundaries. TCP_CORK can pack data more effectively, because it has direct access to the TCP/IP layer. [..] If you do use an application buffering and streaming mechanism (as does Apache), I highly recommend applying the TCP_NODELAY socket option which disables Nagle’s algorithm. All calls to write() will then result in immediate transfer of data.
relatively-new Japanese place in the North Strand — delivers, too. Comes recommended by JK. Must try it out soon!
Actual scientific research showing that antibiotic use may be implicated in allergies: ‘Nagler’s team first confirmed that mice given antibiotics early in life were far more susceptible to peanut sensitization, a model of human peanut allergy. Then, they introduced a solution containing Clostridia, a common class of bacteria that’s naturally found in the mammalian gut, into the rodents’ mouths and stomachs. The animals’ food allergen sensitization disappeared, the team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When the scientists instead introduced another common kind of healthy bacteria, called Bacteroides, into similarly allergy-prone mice, they didn’t see the same effect. Studying the rodents more carefully, the researchers determined that Clostridia were having a surprising effect on the mouse gut: Acting through certain immune cells, the bacteria helped keep peanut proteins that can cause allergic reactions out of the bloodstream. “The bacteria are maintaining the integrity of the [intestinal] barrier,” Nagler says.’
ah, memories. This is the bug that caused me to have to run a fleet-wide upgrade across the EC2 substrate. Thanks, boost::asio!
Today, Apple announced their “Most Personal Device Ever”. They also announced Apple Pay (the only mentions of “security” and “privacy” in today’s event), and are rolling out health tracking and home automation in iOS 8. Given their feckless track record [with cloud-service security], would you really trust Apple with (even more of) your digital life?
Excellent post from Dan Kaminsky on concrete actions that cloud service providers like Apple and Google need to start taking.
*It’s time to ban Password1*: [...] Defenders are using simple rules like “doesn’t have an uppercase letter” and “not enough punctuation” to block passwords while attackers are just straight up analyzing password dumps and figuring out the most likely passwords to attempt in any scenario. Attackers are just way ahead. That has to change. Defenders have password dumps too now. It’s time we start outright blocking passwords common enough that they can be online brute forced, and it’s time we admit we know what they are. [...] *People use communication technologies for sexy times. Deal with it*: Just like browsers have porn mode for the personal consumption of private imagery, cell phones have applications that are significantly less likely to lead to anyone else but your special friends seeing your special bits. I personally advise Wickr, an instant messaging firm that develops secure software for iPhone and Android. What’s important about Wickr here isn’t just the deep crypto they’ve implemented, though it’s useful too. What’s important in this context is that with this code there’s just a lot fewer places to steal your data from. Photos and other content sent in Wickr don’t get backed up to your desktop, don’t get saved in any cloud, and by default get removed from your friend’s phone after an amount of time you control. Wickr is of course not the only company supporting what’s called “ephemeral messaging”; SnapChat also dramatically reduces the exposure of your private imagery. [...]via Leonard.
a few GIFs of procedurally generated architecture by a game developer named Cedric, built using Unity. Cedric describes himself as an “indie game dev focused on social AI, emergent narrative and procedural worlds.” Imagine whole game worlds powered by real-time computation at the building level, constantly and parametrically fizzing with architectural forms, barely predictable new Woolworth Buildings and Barbicans sprouting on-demand from the ground whenever needed.
“We cannot achieve [CAP theorem] consistency and availability in a partition-prone network.”
Specifically, @aerospikedb cannot offer cursor stability, repeatable read, snapshot isolation, or any flavor of serializability. @nasav @aerospikedb At *best* you can offer Read Committed, which is not, I assert, what most people would expect from an “ACID” database.
’105TB RAM, 39MM QPS, 10,000+ instances.’ Notes from a talk given by Yao Yu of Twitter’s Cache team, where she’s worked for 4 years. Lots of interesting insights into large-scale Redis caching usage — as in, large enough to max out the cluster hosts’ network bandwidth.
JetBrains (makers of the excellent Intelli/J) have come out with a C/C++ refactoring IDE which looks utterly fantastic. If I wind up hacking on C/C++ again in future, I’ll be using this one
‘turns a fresh cloud computer into a working mail server. You get contact synchronization, spam filtering, and so on. On your phone, you can use apps like K-9 Mail and CardDAV-Sync free beta to sync your email and contacts between your phone and your box.’ (via Tony Finch)
Tried and came up wanting. Particularly notable for its illegal “Marketing” section, which attempts to evade opt-in-required anti-spam law with a “consent landgrab” on SMS and email
“European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Privacy and Electronic Communications) Regulations 2011″. Spam is covered under 13.1, “Unsolicited communications”, on page 16 of this PDF
Lots of good advice for parents here
Excellent. Confirming what I’d heard from a few other sources, too ;) This is a well-written history of the anti-spam war so far, from Mike Hearn, writing with the Google/Gmail point of view:
Brief note about my background, to establish credentials: I worked at Google for about 7.5 years. For about 4.5 of those I worked on the Gmail abuse team, which is very tightly linked with the spam team (they use the same software, share the same on-call rotations etc).Reading this kind of stuff is awesome for me, since it’s a nice picture of a fun problem to work on — the Gmail team took the right ideas about how to fight spam, and scaled them up to the 10s-of-millions DAU mark. Nicely done. The second half is some interesting musings on end-to-end encrypted communications and how it would deal with spam. Worth a read…
The answer, according to a new filing by the case’s prosecution, is far more mundane: The FBI claims to have found the server’s location without the NSA’s help, simply by fiddling with the Silk Road’s login page until it leaked its true location.
I think you need to review what is actually happening at the USPTO in terms of rejections and how the Federal Circuit is applying Alice to find software patent claims patent ineligible. We are not crying wolf. It is really, factually, truthfully happening.On the face of it, this sounds like great news ;)
Nice bit of science
Great dataviz with animated GIFs
John Gruber’s canonical description of Markdown’s syntax does not specify the syntax unambiguously. In the absence of a spec, early implementers consulted the original Markdown.pl code to resolve these ambiguities. But Markdown.pl was quite buggy, and gave manifestly bad results in many cases, so it was not a satisfactory replacement for a spec. Because there is no unambiguous spec, implementations have diverged considerably. As a result, users are often surprised to find that a document that renders one way on one system (say, a GitHub wiki) renders differently on another (say, converting to docbook using Pandoc). To make matters worse, because nothing in Markdown counts as a “syntax error,” the divergence often isn’t discovered right away. There’s no standard test suite for Markdown; the unofficial MDTest is the closest thing we have. The only way to resolve Markdown ambiguities and inconsistencies is Babelmark, which compares the output of 20+ implementations of Markdown against each other to see if a consensus emerges. We propose a standard, unambiguous syntax specification for Markdown, along with a suite of comprehensive tests to validate Markdown implementations against this specification. We believe this is necessary, even essential, for the future of Markdown.
Karlin Lillington assembles a fine collection of quotes from various sources panning the new Eircode system:
Critics say the opportunity has been missed to use Ireland’s clean-slate status to produce a technologically innovative postcode system that would be at the cutting edge globally; similar to the competitive leap that was provided when the State switched to a digital phone network in the 1980s, well ahead of most of the world. Instead, say organisations such as the Freight Transport Association of Ireland (FTAI), the proposed seven-digit format of scrambled letters and numbers is almost useless for a business sector that should most benefit from a proper postcode system: transport and delivery companies, from international giants like FedEx and UPS down to local courier, delivery and service supplier firms. Because each postcode will reveal the exact address of a home or business, privacy advocates are concerned that online use of postcodes could link many types of internet activity, including potentially sensitive online searches, to a specific household or business.
List of websites and whether or not they support 2FA. Also see the list of 2FA providers and the platforms they support.
Excellent post on all of the ins and outs of EC2 spot instance usage
tl;dr: a lot of people are spending a lot of time stealing nudie pics from celebrities. See also http://www.zdziarski.com/blog/?p=3783 for more details on the probable approaches used. Grim.
one for future reference. Hate when this happens
‘a powerful package manager for Linux and other Unix systems that makes package management reliable and reproducible. It provides atomic upgrades and rollbacks, side-by-side installation of multiple versions of a package, multi-user package management and easy setup of build environments. ‘ Basically, this is a third-party open source reimplementation of Amazon’s (excellent) internal packaging system, using symlinks to versioned package directories to ensure atomicity and the ability to roll back. This is definitely the *right* way to build packages — I know what tool I’ll be pushing for, next time this question comes up. See also nixos.org for a Linux distro built on Nix.
Fixes some low-hanging fruit, performance-wise. ‘Simply replacing std::vector with folly::fbvector (after having included the folly/FBVector.h header file) will improve the performance of your C++ code using vectors with common coding patterns. The improvements are always non-negative, almost always measurable, frequently significant, sometimes dramatic, and occasionally spectacular.’ (via Tony Finch)
An ops-focused take on a recent story about alarm fatigue, and how a Boston hospital dealt with it. When I was in Amazon, many of the teams in our division had a target to reduce false positive pages, with a definite monetary value attached to it, since many teams had “time off in lieu” payments for out-of-hours pages to the on-call staff. As a result, reducing false-positive pages was reasonably high priority and we dealt with this problem very proactively, with a well-developed sense of how to do so. It’s interesting to see how the outside world is only just starting to look into its amelioration. (Another benefit of a TOIL policy ;)
‘We present a version of the Bloom filter data structure that supports not only the insertion, deletion, and lookup of key-value pairs, but also allows a complete listing of the pairs it contains with high probability, as long the number of key- value pairs is below a designed threshold. Our structure allows the number of key-value pairs to greatly exceed this threshold during normal operation. Exceeding the threshold simply temporarily prevents content listing and reduces the probability of a successful lookup. If entries are later deleted to return the structure below the threshold, everything again functions appropriately. We also show that simple variations of our structure are robust to certain standard errors, such as the deletion of a key without a corresponding insertion or the insertion of two distinct values for a key. The properties of our structure make it suitable for several applications, including database and networking applications that we highlight.’
The EU’s new consumer rights law bans certain dark patterns related to e-commerce across Europe. The “sneak into basket” pattern is now illegal. Full stop, end of story. You cannot create a situation where additional items and services are added by default. [...] Hidden costs are now illegal, whether that’s an undeclared subscription, extra shipping charges, or extra items. [....] Forced continuity, when imposed on the user as a form of bait-and-switch, has been banned. Just the other day a web designer mentioned to me that he had only just discovered he had been charged for four years of annual membership dues in a “theme club”, having bought what he thought was a one-off theme. Since he lives in Europe, he may be able to claim all of this money back. All he needs to do is prove that the website did not inform him that the purchase included a membership with recurring payments.
The CDC (Centre for Disease Control) lists water fluoridation as one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th Century. Today, Dublin City Council will vote on whether to remove fluoride from our water supply, and when they do, it will not be because the CDC or the WHO have changed their mind about fluoridation, or because new and compelling information makes it the only choice. It will be because people who believe in angel healing, homeopathy, and chemtrails, have somehow gained the ability to influence public policy.
Building a running OS out of layered btrfs filesystems. This sounds awesome.
Instantiating a new system or OS container (which is exactly the same in this scheme) just consists of creating a new appropriately named root sub-volume. Completely naturally you can share one vendor OS copy in one specific version with a multitude of container instances. Everything is double-buffered (or actually, n-fold-buffered), because usr, runtime, framework, app sub-volumes can exist in multiple versions. Of course, by default the execution logic should always pick the newest release of each sub-volume, but it is up to the user keep multiple versions around, and possibly execute older versions, if he desires to do so. In fact, like on ChromeOS this could even be handled automatically: if a system fails to boot with a newer snapshot, the boot loader can automatically revert back to an older version of the OS.(via Tony Finch)
A nice Lua/C++ implementation of Aho-Corasick for fast string matching against multiple patterns (via JGC). This uses an interesting technique to get better performance by compacting the data structure into a single buffer, to avoid following pointers all over RAM and busting the cache.
This is very likely where we’ll be going for our acceptance tests in Swrve
‘For End-To-End, our current approach to key distribution, is to use a model similar to Certificate Transparency, and use the email messages themselves as a gossip protocol, which allow the users themselves to keep the centralized authorities honest. This approach allows users to not have to know about keys, but at the same time, be able to make sure that the servers involved aren’t doing anything malicious behind the users’ back.’
‘The Irish Times podcast ends with both the NUJ’s Seamus Dooley and Prof Kenny agreeing that somebody must regulate the internet so that it can be brought into line.’
This is a pretty voluminous and authoritative presentation about getting started with Kafka; wish this was around when we started using it for 0.7. (We use our own homegrown realtime system nowadays, due to better partitioning, monitoring and operability.)
Wiki Loves Monuments is an international photo contest, organised by Wikimedia [...]. This year, the Wikimedia Ireland Community are running the competition for the very first time in Ireland. The contest is inspired by the successful 2010 pilot in the Netherlands which resulted in 12,500 freely licensed images uploaded to Wikimedia Commons. It has grown substantially since its inception; in 2013 369,589 photographs were submitted by 11,943 participants from over 50 countries. Cultural heritage is an important part of the knowledge that Wikipedia collects and disseminates. An image is worth a thousand words, in any language and local enthusiasts can (re)discover the cultural, historical, or scientific significance of their neighbourhood. The Irish contest, focussing on Ireland’s national monuments, runs from August 23 – September 30. Follow our step-by-step guide to find out how you can take part.
To show what the CryptoPhone can do that less expensive competitors cannot, he points me to a map that he and his customers have created, indicating 17 different phony cell towers known as “interceptors,” detected by the CryptoPhone 500 around the United States during the month of July alone. Interceptors look to a typical phone like an ordinary tower. Once the phone connects with the interceptor, a variety of “over-the-air” attacks become possible, from eavesdropping on calls and texts to pushing spyware to the device. “Interceptor use in the U.S. is much higher than people had anticipated,” Goldsmith says. “One of our customers took a road trip from Florida to North Carolina and he found 8 different interceptors on that trip. We even found one at South Point Casino in Las Vegas.”
Many of the bike-sharing systems introduced around the world in the past 15 years have the same problem: Riders tend to take some routes and not others. As a result, the bikes tend to collect in a few places, which is a drag for users and a costly problem for the operators, who “rebalance” the system using trucks that take bikes from full stations to empty ones. Now, scientists are coming up with special algorithms to improve this process. One of them, developed by scientists at the Vienna University of Technology and the Austrian Institute of Technology, is now being tested in Vienna’s bike-sharing system; another, developed at Cornell University, is already in use in New York City.Timely — here’s what Dublin Bikes looked like this morning: https://twitter.com/jmason/status/503828246086295552 (via Andrew Caines)
We proposed the JIQ algorithms for web server farms that are dynamically scalable. The JIQ algorithms significantly outperform the state-of-the-art SQ(d) algorithm in terms of response time at the servers, while incurring no communication overhead on the critical path. The overall complexity of JIQ is no greater than that of SQ(d). The extension of the JIQ algorithms proves to be useful at very high load. It will be interesting to acquire a better understanding of the algorithm with a varying reporting threshold. We would also like to understand better the relationship of the reporting frequency to response times, as well as an algorithm to further reduce the complexity of the JIQ-SQ(2) algorithm while maintaining its superior performance.
I often need to do rough back-of-the-envelope reasoning about things, and I find that doing a bit of work to develop an intuition for how a new technique performs is usually worthwhile. So, here are three broad rules of thumb to remember when discussing Bloom filters down the pub: One byte per item in the input set gives about a 2% false positive rate. The optimal number of hash functions is about 0.7 times the number of bits per item. 3 – The number of hashes dominates performance.
This sounds pretty neat:
With Logentries Anomaly Detection, users can: Set-up real-time alerting based on deviations from important patterns and log events. Easily customize Anomaly thresholds and compare different time periods. With Logentries Inactivity Alerting, users can: Monitor standard, incoming events such as an application heart beat. Receive real-time alerts based on log inactivity (i.e. receive alerts when something does not occur).
This is actually quite educational
Some vague details of the antispam system in use at Twitter.
The main challenges in supporting this type of system are evaluating rules with low enough latency that they can run on the write path for Twitter’s main features (i.e., Tweets, Retweets, favorites, follows and messages), supporting computationally intense machine learning based rules, and providing Twitter engineers with the ability to modify and create new rules instantaneously.
To identify the jellyfish found in Irish waters — good, recognisable photos
$10 with free shipping. You can’t go wrong!
Hasbara out of control. This is utterly nuts.
His intricate campaign, which he has admitted to Common Dreams, included posting comments by a screen name, “JewishProgressive,” whose purpose was to draw attention to and denounce the anti-Semitic comments that he had written under many other screen names. The deception was many-layered. At one point he had one of his characters charge that the anti-Semitic comments and the criticism of the anti-Semitic comments must be written by “internet trolls who have been known to impersonate anti-Semites in order to then double-back and accuse others of supporting anti-Semitism”–exactly what he was doing.
“Why are you still reading this? Go to England!” funny because it’s (horribly) true.
Good tips on how to tell if object allocation rate is a bottleneck in your JVM-based code
The way that [problems with the PGP bootstrapping] are supposed to be resolved is with an authentication model called the Web of Trust where users sign keys of other users after verifying that they are who they say they are. In theory, if some due diligence is applied in signing other people’s keys and a sufficient number of people participate you’ll be able to follow a short chain of signatures from people you already know and trust to new untrusted keys you download from a key server. In practice this has never worked out very well as it burdens users with the task of manually finding people to sign their keys and even experts find the Web of Trust model difficult to reason about. This also reveals the social graph of certain communities which may place users at risk for their associations. Such signatures also reveal metadata about times and thus places for meetings for key signings. The Nyms Identity Directory is a replacement for all of this. Keyservers are replaced with an identity directory that gives users full control over publication of their key information and web of trust is replaced with a distributed network of trusted notaries which validate user keys with an email verification protocol.
Frogsort as an exam question (via qwghlm)
This is awful. Totally the wrong tool for the job — a false positive rate which is miniscule for something like spam filtering, could translate to a really horrible outcome for a human life.
Currently, over 20 states use data-crunching risk-assessment programs for sentencing decisions, usually consisting of proprietary software whose exact methods are unknown, to determine which individuals are most likely to re-offend. The Senate and House are also considering similar tools for federal sentencing. These data programs look at a variety of factors, many of them relatively static, like criminal and employment history, age, gender, education, finances, family background, and residence. Indiana, for example, uses the LSI-R, the legality of which was upheld by the state’s supreme court in 2010. Other states use a model called COMPAS, which uses many of the same variables as LSI-R and even includes high school grades. Others are currently considering the practice as a way to reduce the number of inmates and ensure public safety. (Many more states use or endorse similar assessments when sentencing sex offenders, and the programs have been used in parole hearings for years.) Even the American Law Institute has embraced the practice, adding it to the Model Penal Code, attesting to the tool’s legitimacy.(via stroan)
Some good reasons not to adopt microservices blindly. Testability and distributed-systems complexity are my biggest fears
Solid warts-and-all confessional blogpost about a team failing to implement a microservices architecture. I’d put most of the blame on insufficient infrastructure to support them (at a code level), inter-personal team problems, and inexperience with large-scale complex multi-service production deployment and the work it was going to require
How Box introduced COE-style dev/ops outage postmortems, and got them working. This PIE metric sounds really useful to head off the dreaded “it’ll all have to come out missus” action item:
The picture was getting clearer, and we decided to look into individual postmortems and action items and see what was missing. As it was, action items were wasting away with no owners. Digging deeper, we noticed that many action items entailed massive refactorings or vague requirements like “make system X better” (i.e. tasks that realistically were unlikely to be addressed). At a higher level, postmortem discussions often devolved into theoretical debates without a clear outcome. We needed a way to lower and focus the postmortem bar and a better way to categorize our action items and our technical debt. Out of this need, PIE (“Probability of recurrence * Impact of recurrence * Ease of addressing”) was born. By ranking each factor from 1 (“low”) to 5 (“high”), PIE provided us with two critical improvements: 1. A way to police our postmortems discussions. I.e. a low probability, low impact, hard to implement solution was unlikely to get prioritized and was better suited to a discussion outside the context of the postmortem. Using this ranking helped deflect almost all theoretical discussions. 2. A straightforward way to prioritize our action items. What’s better is that once we embraced PIE, we also applied it to existing tech debt work. This was critical because we could now prioritize postmortem action items alongside existing work. Postmortem action items became part of normal operations just like any other high-priority work.
An accurate clock is required to negotiate SSL/TLS, so clock sync is important for internet-of-things usage. but:
Unfortunately for us, the traditional and most widespread method for clock synchronisation (NTP) has been caught up in a DDoS issue which has recently caused some ISPs to start blocking all NTP communication. [....] Because the DDoS attacks are so widespread, and the lack of obvious commercial pressure to fix the issue, it’s possible that the days of using NTP as a mechanism for setting clocks may well be numbered. Luckily for us there is a small but growing project that replaces it. tlsdate was started by Jacob Appelbaum of the Tor project in 2012, making use of the SSL handshake in order to extract time from a remote server, and its usage is on the rise. [....] Since we started encountering these problems, we’ve incorporated tlsdate into an over-the-air update, and have successfully started using this in situations where NTP is blocked.
This is a lovely demo of integrating modern IoT connectivity functionality (remote app control, etc.) with a washing machine using Bergcloud’s hardware and backend, and a little logic-analyzer reverse engineering.
While there are many defensible aspects of Systemd, other aspects boggle the mind. Not the least of these was that, as of a few months ago, trying to debug the kernel from the boot line would cause the system to crash. This was because of Systemd’s voracious logging and the fact that Systemd responds to the “debug” flag on the kernel boot line — a flag meant for the kernel, not anything else. That, straight up, is a bug. However, the Systemd developers didn’t see it that way and actively fought with those experiencing the problem. Add the fact that one of the Systemd developers was banned by Linus Torvalds for poor attitude and bad design and another was responsible for causing significant issues with Linux audio support, but blamed the problem on everything else but his software, and you have a bad situation on your hands. There’s no shortage of egos in the open source development world. There’s no shortage of new ideas and veteran developers and administrators pooh-poohing something new simply because it’s new. But there are also 45 years of history behind Unix and extremely good reasons it’s still flourishing. Tools designed like Systemd do not fit the Linux mold, to their own detriment. Systemd’s design has more in common with Windows than with Unix — down to the binary logging.The link re systemd consuming the “debug” kernel boot arg is a canonical example of inflexible coders refusing to fix their own bugs. (via Jason Dixon)
The mining operation resides on an old, repurposed factory floor, and contains 2500 machines hashing away at 230 Gh/s, each. (That’s 230 billion calculations per second, per unit). [...] The operators told me that the power bill of this specific operation is in excess of ¥400,000 per month [..] about $60,000 USD.
Pretty serious speedup. 81 MB/sec with Tsunami UDP, compared to 9 MB/sec with plain old scp. Probably kills internet performance for everyone else though!
Ha, great name. We use this (in the form of Smartstack).
For what it is worth, we faced a similar challenge in earlier services (mostly due to existing C/C++ applications) and we created what was called a “sidecar”. By sidecar, what I mean is a second process on each node/instance that did Cloud Service Fabric operations on behalf of the main process (the side-managed process). Unfortunately those sidecars all went off and created one-offs for their particular service. In this post, I’ll describe a more general sidecar that doesn’t force users to have these one-offs. Sidenote: For those not familiar with sidecars, think of the motorcycle sidecar below. Snoopy would be the main process with Woodstock being the sidecar process. The main work on the instance would be the motorcycle (say serving your users’ REST requests). The operational control is the sidecar (say serving health checks and management plane requests of the operational platform).
The publishing of materials from a support server belonging to surveillance-industry giant Gamma International has provided a trove of information for technologists, security researchers and activists. This has given the world a direct insight into a tight-knit industry, which demands secrecy for themselves and their clients, but ultimately assists in the violation human rights of ordinary people without care or reproach. Now for the first time, there is solid confirmation of Gamma’s activities from inside the company’s own files, despite their denials, on their clients and support provided to a range of governments.
This is a terrible decision. As Fintan O’Toole wrote afterwards: [The] ‘BAI decision actually makes the point: a gay couple is a political “issue”; a straight couple is just a couple’
Ethan Zuckerberg: ‘It’s not too late to ditch the ad-based business model and build a better web.’
file(1) bug causes the input Postscript file to be misidentified as an Erlang JAM file if it contains the string ‘Tue’ starting at byte 4.
According to Edward Snowden, it was a side-effect of the NSA attempting to install an exploit in one of the core routers at a major Syrian ISP, and accidentally bricking the router
Snowden interviewed by James “The Puzzle Palace” Bamford, no less
I’ve built a very simple distributed profiler for soft-real-time telemetry from hundreds to thousands of JVMs concurrently. It’s nowhere near as comprehensive in its analysis as, say, Yourkit, but it can tell you, across a distributed system, which functions are taking the most time, and what their dominant callers are.Potentially useful.
the world’s largest permanent scale model of the Solar System. The Sun is represented by the Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, the largest hemispherical building in the world. The inner planets can also be found in Stockholm but the outer planets are situated northward in other cities along the Baltic Sea. The system was started by Nils Brenning and Gösta Gahm and is on the scale of 1:20 million.(via JK)
Fluentd looks like a decent foundation for tailing/streaming event processing in Ruby, supporting batched output to S3 and a bunch of other AWS services, Kafka, and RabbitMQ for output. Claims to have ok performance, despite its Rubbitude. However, its high-availability story is shite, so not to be used where availability is important