Links for 2016-03-04

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Links for 2016-03-03

  • Protect me, I am the Donnybrook laundry

    Mannix Flynn makes a persuasive case to preserve the last remaining Magdalene Laundry still standing:

    Memory is something that fights an eternal battle with the passage of time and forgetfulness.  Time is a great healer for those who can heal and those who are offered healing.  There is no healing here. Time stands still like a festering wound in a well-to-do suburb as somebody attempts to erase a grave and mortal wrong. The McAleese report, the Justice for the Magdalenes, the hundreds of women still alive and their families should know of this place.  Should be present here to witness what can only be witnessed by them.  So that they can understand what’s lost, what cannot be given.  What was taken from them for generations.

    (tags: magdalenes injustice ireland history catholic-church abuse mannix-flynn)

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Links for 2016-03-01

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Links for 2016-02-29

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Links for 2016-02-26

  • Proportional Representation in Ireland: How it Works

    Excellent explanation of PR-STV and the Irish voting system. Don’t be a Plumper! (via John O’Shea)

    (tags: plumpers pr-stv pr voting ireland politics via:joshea)

  • Microsoft warns of risks to Irish operation in US search warrant case

    “Our concern is that if we lose the case more countries across Europe or elsewhere are going to be concerned about having their data in Ireland, ” Mr Smith said, after testifying before the House judiciary committee. Asked what would happen to its Irish unit if the company loses the case or doesn’t convince Congress to pass updated legislation governing cross-border data held by American companies, the Microsoft executive said: “We’ll certainly face a new set of risks that we don’t face today.” He added that the issue could be resolved by an executive order by the White House or through international negotiations between the Irish Government or the European Union and the US.

    (tags: microsoft data privacy us-politics surveillance usa)

  • How To Implement Secure Bitcoin Vaults

    At the Bitcoin workshop in Barbados, Malte Möser will present our solution to the Bitcoin private key management problem. Specifically, our paper describes a way to create vaults, special accounts whose keys can be neutralized if they fall into the hands of attackers. Vaults are Bitcoin’s decentralized version of you calling your bank to report a stolen credit card — it renders the attacker’s transactions null and void. And here’s the interesting part: in so doing, vaults demotivate key theft in the first place. An attacker who knows that he will not be able to get away with theft is less likely to attack in the first place, compared to current Bitcoin attackers who are guaranteed that their hacking efforts will be handsomely rewarded.

    (tags: private-keys vaults bitcoin security crypto theft)

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Links for 2016-02-25

  • Maglev: A Fast and Reliable Software Network Load Balancer

    Maglev is Google’s network load balancer. It is a large distributed software system that runs on commodity Linux servers. Unlike traditional hardware network load balancers, it does not require a specialized physical rack deployment, and its capacity can be easily adjusted by adding or removing servers. Network routers distribute packets evenly to the Maglev machines via Equal Cost Multipath (ECMP); each Maglev machine then matches the packets to their corresponding services and spreads them evenly to the service endpoints. To accommodate high and ever-increasing traffic, Maglev is specifically optimized for packet processing performance. A single Maglev machine is able to saturate a 10Gbps link with small packets. Maglev is also equipped with consistent hashing and connection tracking features, to minimize the negative impact of unexpected faults and failures on connection-oriented protocols. Maglev has been serving Google’s traffic since 2008. It has sustained the rapid global growth of Google services, and it also provides network load balancing for Google Cloud Platform.
    Something we argued for quite a lot in Amazon, back in the day….

    (tags: google paper scale ecmp load-balancing via:conall maglev lbs)


    BrewDog releases their beer recipes for free. so cool! ‘So here it is. The keys to our kingdom. Every single BrewDog recipe, ever. So copy them, tear them to pieces, bastardise them, adapt them, but most of all, enjoy them. They are well travelled but with plenty of miles still left on the clock. Just remember to share your brews, and share your results. Sharing is caring.’

    (tags: brewing homebrew beer brewdog open-source free sharing)

  • National Children’s Science Centre due to open in 2018

    Good for science fans, not so hot for real tennis fans.

    The former real tennis court building close to the concert hall’s north wing would be used for temporary and visiting exhibitors, with a tunnel connecting it to the science centre. The National Children’s Science Centre is due to open in late 2018 and will also be known as the Exploration Station, said Dr Danny O’Hare, founding president of Dublin City University and chairman of the Exploration Station board since 2006.

    (tags: real-tennis tennis nch dublin science kids planetarium)

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Links for 2016-02-24

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Links for 2016-02-23

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Links for 2016-02-21

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Links for 2016-02-18

  • Neutrino Software Load Balancer

    eBay’s software LB, supporting URL matching, comparable to haproxy, built using Netty and Scala. Used in their QA infrastructure it seems

    (tags: netty scala ebay load-balancing load-balancers url http architecture)

  • This is Why People Fear the ‘Internet of Things’

    Ugh. This is a security nightmare. Nice work Foscam…

    Imagine buying an internet-enabled surveillance camera, network attached storage device, or home automation gizmo, only to find that it secretly and constantly phones home to a vast peer-to-peer (P2P) network run by the Chinese manufacturer of the hardware. Now imagine that the geek gear you bought doesn’t actually let you block this P2P communication without some serious networking expertise or hardware surgery that few users would attempt. This is the nightmare “Internet of Things” (IoT) scenario for any system administrator: The IP cameras that you bought to secure your physical space suddenly turn into a vast cloud network designed to share your pictures and videos far and wide. The best part? It’s all plug-and-play, no configuration necessary!

    (tags: foscam cameras iot security networking p2p)

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Links for 2016-02-17

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Links for 2016-02-16

  • The NSA’s SKYNET program may be killing thousands of innocent people

    Death by Random Forest: this project is a horrible misapplication of machine learning. Truly appalling, when a false positive means death:

    The NSA evaluates the SKYNET program using a subset of 100,000 randomly selected people (identified by their MSIDN/MSI pairs of their mobile phones), and a a known group of seven terrorists. The NSA then trained the learning algorithm by feeding it six of the terrorists and tasking SKYNET to find the seventh. This data provides the percentages for false positives in the slide above. “First, there are very few ‘known terrorists’ to use to train and test the model,” Ball said. “If they are using the same records to train the model as they are using to test the model, their assessment of the fit is completely bullshit. The usual practice is to hold some of the data out of the training process so that the test includes records the model has never seen before. Without this step, their classification fit assessment is ridiculously optimistic.” The reason is that the 100,000 citizens were selected at random, while the seven terrorists are from a known cluster. Under the random selection of a tiny subset of less than 0.1 percent of the total population, the density of the social graph of the citizens is massively reduced, while the “terrorist” cluster remains strongly interconnected. Scientifically-sound statistical analysis would have required the NSA to mix the terrorists into the population set before random selection of a subset—but this is not practical due to their tiny number. This may sound like a mere academic problem, but, Ball said, is in fact highly damaging to the quality of the results, and thus ultimately to the accuracy of the classification and assassination of people as “terrorists.” A quality evaluation is especially important in this case, as the random forest method is known to overfit its training sets, producing results that are overly optimistic. The NSA’s analysis thus does not provide a good indicator of the quality of the method.

    (tags: terrorism surveillance nsa security ai machine-learning random-forests horror false-positives classification statistics)

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Links for 2016-02-15

  • Lasers reveal ‘lost’ Roman roads

    UK open data success story, via Tony Finch:

    This LIDAR data bonanza has proved particularly helpful to archaeologists seeking to map Roman roads that have been ‘lost’, some for thousands of years. Their discoveries are giving clues to a neglected chapter in the history of Roman Britain: the roads built to help Rome’s legions conquer and control northern England.

    (tags: uk government lidar open-data data roman history mapping geodata)

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Links for 2016-02-13

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Links for 2016-02-07

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Links for 2016-02-05

  • The science behind “don’t drink when pregnant” is rubbish

    As the economist Emily Oster pointed out in her 2013 book Expecting Better, there is also no “proven safe” level of Tylenol or caffeine, and yet both are fine in moderation during pregnancy. Oster pored through reams of research on alcohol and pregnancy for her book and concluded that there is simply no scientific evidence that light drinking during pregnancy impacts a baby’s health. (In one frequently cited 2001 study that suggested light drinking in pregnancy increases the chances of a child displaying aggressive behaviors, the drinkers were also significantly likelier to have taken cocaine during pregnancy.)
    My wife also followed the paper trail on this issue in the past. In the papers from which these recommendations were derived, the level of drinking at which any effects were observed in babies was when women consumed at least *9 units every day* for the entire pregnancy. That’s an entire bottle of wine, daily!

    (tags: booze alcohol science facts papers medicine emily-oster babies pregnancy pre-pregnant research)

  • GCHQ’s Spam Problem

    ‘“Spam emails are a large proportion of emails seen in SIGINT [signals intelligence],” reads part of a dense document from the Snowden archive, published by Boing Boing on Tuesday. “GCHQ would like to reduce the impact of spam emails on data storage, processing and analysis.”’ (circa 2011). Steganography, anyone? (via Tony Finch)

    (tags: spam anti-spam gchq funny boing-boing sigint snowden surveillance)

  • ECHR: Websites not liable for readers’ comments

    ‘Lawyers for [a Hungarian news] site said the comments concerned had been taken down as soon as they were flagged. They said making their clients liable for everything readers posted “would have serious adverse repercussions for freedom of expression and democratic openness in the age of Internet”. The ECHR agreed. “Although offensive and vulgar, the incriminated comments did not constitute clearly unlawful speech; and they certainly did not amount to hate speech or incitement to violence,” the judges wrote.’

    (tags: echr law eu legal comments index-hu hungary)

  • research!rsc: Zip Files All The Way Down, quine.gz, and quine.tar.gz. Here’s what happens when you mail it through bad AV software:

    (tags: zip algorithms compression quines fun hacks gzip)

  • The Nuclear Missile Sites of Los Angeles

    Great article by Geoff “bldgblog” Manaugh on the ruins of the Nike air-to-air missile emplacements dotted around California. I had absolutely no idea that these — the 1958-era Nike-Hercules missiles, at least — carried 30-kiloton nuclear warheads, intended to be detonated at 50,000 feet *above* the cities they were defending, in order to destroy in-flight bomber formations. Nuclear war was truly bananas.

    (tags: war history la sf california nike-missiles missiles nuclear-war nike-hercules cold-war 1950s)

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Links for 2016-02-03

  • Exclusive: Snowden intelligence docs reveal UK spooks’ malware checklist / Boing Boing

    This is an excellent essay from Cory Doctorow on mass surveillance in the post-Snowden era, and the difference between HUMINT and SIGINT. So much good stuff, including this (new to me) cite for, “Goodhart’s law”, on secrecy as it affects adversarial classification:

    The problem with this is that once you accept this framing, and note the happy coincidence that your paymasters just happen to have found a way to spy on everyone, the conclusion is obvious: just mine all of the data, from everyone to everyone, and use an algorithm to figure out who’s guilty. The bad guys have a Modus Operandi, as anyone who’s watched a cop show knows. Find the MO, turn it into a data fingerprint, and you can just sort the firehose’s output into ”terrorist-ish” and ”unterrorist-ish.” Once you accept this premise, then it’s equally obvious that the whole methodology has to be kept from scrutiny. If you’re depending on three ”tells” as indicators of terrorist planning, the terrorists will figure out how to plan their attacks without doing those three things. This even has a name: Goodhart’s law. “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” Google started out by gauging a web page’s importance by counting the number of links they could find to it. This worked well before they told people what they were doing. Once getting a page ranked by Google became important, unscrupulous people set up dummy sites (“link-farms”) with lots of links pointing at their pages.

    (tags: adversarial-classification classification surveillance nsa gchq cory-doctorow privacy snooping goodharts-law google anti-spam filtering spying snowden)

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Links for 2016-02-02

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Links for 2016-02-01

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Links for 2016-01-30

  • Seesaw: scalable and robust load balancing from Google

    After evaluating a number of platforms, including existing open source projects, we were unable to find one that met all of our needs and decided to set about developing a robust and scalable load balancing platform. The requirements were not exactly complex – we needed the ability to handle traffic for unicast and anycast VIPs, perform load balancing with NAT and DSR (also known as DR), and perform adequate health checks against the backends. Above all we wanted a platform that allowed for ease of management, including automated deployment of configuration changes. One of the two existing platforms was built upon Linux LVS, which provided the necessary load balancing at the network level. This was known to work successfully and we opted to retain this for the new platform. Several design decisions were made early on in the project — the first of these was to use the Go programming language, since it provided an incredibly powerful way to implement concurrency (goroutines and channels), along with easy interprocess communication (net/rpc). The second was to implement a modular multi-process architecture. The third was to simply abort and terminate a process if we ended up in an unknown state, which would ideally allow for failover and/or self-recovery.

    (tags: seesaw load-balancers google load-balancing vips anycast nat lbs go ops networking)

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Links for 2016-01-29

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Links for 2016-01-28

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Links for 2016-01-27

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Links for 2016-01-26

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Links for 2016-01-25

  • Netflix Global Search

    handy — search Netflix in all regions, then show where the show/movie is available. Probably going to be less handy from now on now that Netflix is blocking region-spoofing

    (tags: movies video netflix films tv world)

  • Why Eircode is a shambles, by someone who works in the transport industry

    This is full of good points.

    Without having a distinct SORT KEY for a geographically distinct area, a postcode is of no real benefit to any type of transport firm or agency.  To take one example, Eircode have used the same sort key, F92, for Arranmore (Donegal’s largest inhabited island) and the north western Donegal mainland.  Cill Rónáin, Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands, has the same sort key H91, as Connemara and Galway City.  Galway city and the Aran Islands may be in a relatively small geographical area, but keen eyes may have noticed that the Aran Islands are separated from the mainland by a small section of the Atlantic Ocean.  Sort codes which ignore clear and obvious boundaries, like seas or oceans, need to be redesigned. In two seconds a [UK] website could tell a Hebridean that his delivery will take 4 days at a cost of fifty quid by using the first three characters of the postcode.  The Eircode-using Irish equivalent website would need to lookup a large database to tell an Arranmore resident the cost and time for delivery – and they’d need the full exact code.  Any mistake made here, and your estimated delivery time, and cost for delivery will be wrong.

    (tags: postcodes eircode loc8code fail couriers delivery geodata geocoding galway aran-islands)

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Links for 2016-01-23

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Links for 2016-01-22

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Links for 2016-01-19

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Links for 2016-01-16

  • Yosemite agrees to change the names of its significant locations to appease trademark troll / Boing Boing

    This is absolutely appalling. IP law gone mad:

    DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc (a division of one of the largest privately owned companies in the world) used to have the concessions to operate various businesses around Yosemite National Park. Now that they’ve been fired, they’re using some decidedly dubious trademark to force the Park Service to change the names of buildings and locations that have stood for as much as a century, including some that have been designated national landmarks. The Parks Service has caved to these requests as it readies the park for its centennial celebration. It will not only change the names of publicly owned landmarks — such as the Ahwahnee hotel, Yosemite Lodge, the Wawona Hotel, Curry Village, and Badger Pass ski area — it will also have to change all its signs, maps and guidebooks.

    (tags: yosemite ip trademarks law fiasco national-parks usa)

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Links for 2016-01-15

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