Links for 2016-11-30

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Links for 2016-11-29

  • Trump’s lies have a purpose. They are an assault on democracy

    Donald Trump’s media strategy as a form of Surkovian control via post-truth ‘destabilised perception’, through deliberate flooding with fake news:

    By attacking the very notion of shared reality, the president-elect is making normal democratic politics impossible. When the truth is little more than an arbitrary personal decision, there is no common ground to be reached and no incentive to look for it. To men like Surkov, that is exactly as it should be. Government policy should not be set through democratic oversight; instead, the government should “manage” democracy, ensuring that people can express themselves without having any influence over the machinations of the state. According to a 2011 openDemocracy article by Richard Sakwa, a professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent, Surkov is “considered the main architect of what is colloquially known as ‘managed democracy,’ the administrative management of party and electoral politics.” “Surkov’s philosophy is that there is no real freedom in the world, and that all democracies are managed democracies, so the key to success is to influence people, to give them the illusion that they are free, whereas in fact they are managed,” writes Sakwa. “In his view, the only freedom is ‘artistic freedom.’”

    (tags: post-truth lies donald-trump surkov breitbart pr media news propaganda fake-news)

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Links for 2016-11-28

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Links for 2016-11-24

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Links for 2016-11-22

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Links for 2016-11-21

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Links for 2016-11-18

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Links for 2016-11-17

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Links for 2016-11-16

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Links for 2016-11-09

  • Pure Pharmacy

    a low-cost online vendor in Ireland, recommended by @irldexter on ITS (along with ‘For basic consultations I halved the cost €55 to engage a GP with down to €25 (for limited domains) and after paying €8.48 and €9.48 respectively for a Ventolin inhaler, I now get them for €3.50 at (closer to mainland EU costs). I also benchmarked my parents medicine costs which worked out 40% cheaper too.’

    (tags: recommendations pharmacy ireland doctors health medicine)

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Links for 2016-11-08

  • Rents dwarf Celtic Tiger era with ‘disastrous effect’ on society

    “The scale of the challenge here remains depressing,” says the report. “It has never been viable to build apartment blocks in the vast majority of this country.” […] The report notes that the rise in living costs of almost three quarters in less than five years is “a symptom of strong demand for housing” as economic recovery continues and the population grows. “But there is nothing inevitable about housing costs rising with demand,” it says. “That only happens when supply fails to respond, and the complete absence of any meaningful level of construction over the past five years is a systemic failure in desperate need of policy solutions. “There is no more urgent task facing the Minister for Housing, his department and advisers, and the Housing Agency, than understanding why the costs of building, and building apartments in particular, is so dramatically out of line with our own incomes and indeed with the cost in other countries.”

    (tags: daft housing ireland fail homes rent building)

  • Video Games Are Boring

    I’m not remotely interested in shockingly good graphics, in murder simulators, in guns and knives and swords. I’m not that interested in adrenaline. My own life is thrilling enough. There is enough fear and hatred in the world to get my heart pounding. My Facebook feed and Twitter feed are enough for that. Walking outside in summer clothing is enough for that. I’m interested in care, in characters, in creation, in finding a path forward inside games that helps me find my path forward in life. I am interested in compassion and understanding. I’m interested in connecting. As Miranda July said, “all I ever wanted to know is how other people are making it through life.” I want to make games that help other people understand life. We are all overwhelmed with shock, with information, with change. The degree of interactivity in our lives is amazing and wonderful and I wouldn’t exchange it for anything, but it is also shocking and overwhelming and it’s causing us to dig in and try to find some peace by shutting each other out. On all sides of the political spectrum we’ve stopped listening to each other and I fear we are all leaning toward fascist thinking. We should be using this medium to help us adapt to our new, interactive lives. This is how we become relevant.

    (tags: essay feminism society culture games gaming life art)

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Links for 2016-11-07

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Links for 2016-11-05

  • Jeff Erickson’s Algorithms, Etc.

    This page contains lecture notes and other course materials for various algorithms classes I have taught at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The notes are numbered in the order I cover the material in a typical undergraduate class, wtih notes on more advanced material (indicated by the symbol ?) interspersed appropriately. […] In addition to the algorithms notes I have been maintaining since 1999, this page also contains new notes on “Models of Computation”, which cover a small subset of the material normally taught in undergraduate courses in formal languages and automata. I wrote these notes for a new junior-level course on “Algorithms and Models of Computation” that Lenny Pitt and I developed, which is now required for all undergraduate computer science and computer engineering majors at UIUC.
    Via Tony Finch

    (tags: via:fanf book cs algorithms jeff-erickson uiuc)

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Links for 2016-11-04

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Links for 2016-11-03

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Links for 2016-11-02

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Links for 2016-11-01

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Links for 2016-10-31

  • Here’s Why Facebook’s Trending Algorithm Keeps Promoting Fake News – BuzzFeed News

    Kalina Bontcheva leads the EU-funded PHEME project working to compute the veracity of social media content. She said reducing the amount of human oversight for Trending heightens the likelihood of failures, and of the algorithm being fooled by people trying to game it. “I think people are always going to try and outsmart these algorithms — we’ve seen this with search engine optimization,” she said. “I’m sure that once in a while there is going to be a very high-profile failure.” Less human oversight means more reliance on the algorithm, which creates a new set of concerns, according to Kate Starbird, an assistant professor at the University of Washington who has been using machine learning and other technology to evaluate the accuracy of rumors and information during events such as the Boston bombings. “[Facebook is] making an assumption that we’re more comfortable with a machine being biased than with a human being biased, because people don’t understand machines as well,” she said.

    (tags: facebook news gaming adversarial-classification pheme truth social-media algorithms ml machine-learning media)

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Links for 2016-10-28

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Links for 2016-10-27

  • – Parsing JSON is a Minefield ????

    Crockford chose not to version [the] JSON definition: ‘Probably the boldest design decision I made was to not put a version number on JSON so there is no mechanism for revising it. We are stuck with JSON: whatever it is in its current form, that’s it.’ Yet JSON is defined in at least six different documents.
    “Boldest”. ffs. :facepalm:

    (tags: bold courage json parsing coding data formats interchange fail standards confusion)

  • mjg59 | Fixing the IoT isn’t going to be easy

    We can’t easily fix the already broken devices, we can’t easily stop more broken devices from being shipped and we can’t easily guarantee that we can fix future devices that end up broken. The only solution I see working at all is to require ISPs to cut people off, and that’s going to involve a great deal of pain. The harsh reality is that this is almost certainly just the tip of the iceberg, and things are going to get much worse before they get any better.

    (tags: iot security internet isps devices)

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Links for 2016-10-25

  • Founder of Google X has no concept of how machine learning as policing tool risks reinforcing implicit bias

    This is shocking:

    At the end of the panel on artificial intelligence, a young black woman asked [Sebastian Thrun, CEO of the education startup Udacity, who is best known for founding Google X] whether bias in machine learning “could perpetuate structural inequality at a velocity much greater than perhaps humans can.” She offered the example of criminal justice, where “you have a machine learning tool that can identify criminals, and criminals may disproportionately be black because of other issues that have nothing to do with the intrinsic nature of these people, so the machine learns that black people are criminals, and that’s not necessarily the outcome that I think we want.” In his reply, Thrun made it sound like her concern was one about political correctness, not unconscious bias. “Statistically what the machines do pick up are patterns and sometimes we don’t like these patterns. Sometimes they’re not politically correct,” Thrun said. “When we apply machine learning methods sometimes the truth we learn really surprises us, to be honest, and I think it’s good to have a dialogue about this.”
    “the truth”! Jesus. We are fucked

    (tags: google googlex bias racism implicit-bias machine-learning ml sebastian-thrun udacity inequality policing crime)

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Links for 2016-10-24

  • Paypal 2FA Bypass

    Holy shit.

    Using a proxy, remove “securityQuestion0” and “securityQuestion1” from the post data.
    Massive facepalm.

    (tags: paypal 2fa security fail web html)

  • ArquitecturB

    amazing architectural-oddities Tumblr (via Present and Correct)

    (tags: tumblr art photography architecture weird odd)

  • Management levels

    I’ve had the privilege of experiencing a few different management levels (responsibilities? jobs?) at Etsy since I’ve joined. At each stage, I felt like the job of being a manager totally changed. What I did day-to-day changed, what was hard about it changed, how I measured my own success changed, and though I feel like the experiences built on one another, it continues to be an enormous shift in brainpower each time the gig changes a bit. Given how intangible (and often hidden) management work can be, I’ve outlined some highlights of what my work has been like as a manager over the last four years. (Obvious, major caveat: this is just my experience, and there’s lots in here that is unique to this particular work environment, hierarchy, requirements, and challenges!)

    (tags: business engineering management career lara-hogan managing)

  • JG Ballard, on the “pram in the hall”

    Cyril Connolly, the 50s critic and writer, said that the greatest enemy of creativity is the pram in the hall, but I think that was completely wrong. It was the enemy of a certain kind of dilettante life that he aspired to, the man of letters, but for the real novelist the pram in the hall is the greatest ally – it brings you up sharp and you realise what reality is all about. My children were a huge inspiration for me. Watching three young minds creating their separate worlds was a very enriching experience.

    (tags: writing creativity jg-ballard quotes pram-in-the-hall children kids parenting biography)

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Links for 2016-10-21

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Links for 2016-10-20

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Links for 2016-10-19

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Links for 2016-10-18

  • _Airport Noise NIMBYism: An Empirical Investigation_

    ‘Generally, a very small number of people account for a disproportionately high share of the total number of noise complaints. In 2015, for example, 6,852 of the 8,760 complaints submitted to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport originated from one residence in the affluent Foxhall neighborhood of northwest Washington, DC. The residents of that particular house called Reagan National to express irritation about aircraft noise an average of almost 19 times per day during 2015.’ Somebody needs help.

    (tags: airports noise nimby nimbyism complaints dc)

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Links for 2016-10-17

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Links for 2016-10-14

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Links for 2016-10-13

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Links for 2016-10-12

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Links for 2016-10-11

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Links for 2016-10-10

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Links for 2016-10-07

  • How Fucked Up is Your Management?

    Oh dear.

    Score 1 “My management culture is fucked up” point for each of the following: We have an unlimited vacation policy; We don’t do regular 1:1s, but we have open office hours/are super available if anyone wants to chat; We don’t have a process for interviewing, we just hire awesome people when we meet them; We super care about diversity, but we don’t want to lower the bar so we just hire the best person for the job even if it means diversity suffers; We don’t have defined levels and career paths for our employees, we’re a really flat org; We don’t have formal managers for every staff member, everyone just gets their work done; We don’t have, like, HR HR, but our recruiter/office manager/only female employee is super good if you want someone to talk to; We don’t do performance improvement plans for employees that are struggling. We just have a super honest conversation about how they aren’t a good fit and fire them; We would have some hard explaining to do if our salary list accidentally became public.

    (tags: startups management culture work vacation hiring office-hours managers diversity careers hr)

  • Google and Monotype launch Noto, an open-source typeface family for all the world’s languages

    Great font factoid: ‘The name “Noto” comes from the little squares that show when a font is not supported by a computer. This are often referred to as “tofu”, because of their shape, therefore the font is short for No Tofu.’

    (tags: tofu fonts i18n google design typography unicode)

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Links for 2016-10-06

  • Simple testing can prevent most critical failures

    Specifically, the following 3 classes of errors were implicated in 92% of the major production outages in this study and could have been caught with simple code review:

    Error handlers that ignore errors (or just contain a log statement); error handlers with “TODO” or “FIXME” in the comment; and error handlers that catch an abstract exception type (e.g. Exception or Throwable in Java) and then take drastic action such as aborting the system.
    (Interestingly, the latter was a particular favourite approach of some misplaced “fail fast”/”crash-only software design” dogma in Amazon. I wasn’t a fan)

    (tags: fail-fast crash-only-software coding design bugs code-review review outages papers logging errors exceptions)

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Links for 2016-10-05

  • We are witnessing nothing less than a Tory reformation | Rafael Behr | Opinion | The Guardian

    An excellent explanation of what is going on in the UK right now. What a nightmare:

    Finally there are the self-styled buccaneers of the free-trade seas. Boris Johnson would probably cast himself as Sir Walter Raleigh – polymath, wordsmith, adventurer. That leaves Liam Fox to play Sir Francis Drake, looking for domestic glory in global circumnavigation but seen from abroad as a pirate. This is all myth and fantasy, of course. But parties have always been sustained by internal mythologies, and the task of exiting the EU is so complicated and fraught with danger that fantasy becomes a necessary comfort. As one former minister says of the puritan choristers: “They have spent their lives working towards this dream. Of course they don’t want to accept that it’s a nightmare.” Tory pro-Europeans are in the impossible position of using rational argument against faith. If they counsel compromise on migration or the single market, they are accused of talking Britain down or trying to refight the referendum. They have few reinforcements across the political water. Labour is a shambles. The Lib Dems are puny in parliament. Scotland has its own distinct politics, and in Nicola Sturgeon its own remainian queen with her own independence agenda. The Tories do not speak for all of England, but in the absence of credible opposition they feel as if they do, and will act accordingly. To those millions who did not vote to leave the EU, the message is clear: you are free to pray for whatever you like. Your antique rites will be tolerated. But do not expect your concerns to be represented in the court of Queen Theresa. Be humble instead. Swallow your doubts and take a pew in the reformed national church of Brexit.

    (tags: reformation uk politics brexit eu puritanism fanaticism)

  • The Technical Debt Quadrant

    Martin Fowler’s take on the 4 kinds of tech debt

    (tags: programming design tech-debt technical-debt deadlines product ship)

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Links for 2016-10-04

  • Charity Majors responds to the CleverTap Mongo outage war story

    This is a great blog post, spot on:

    You can’t just go “dudes it’s faster” and jump off a cliff.  This shit is basic.  Test real production workloads. Have a rollback plan.  (Not for *10 days* … try a month or two.)
    The only thing I’d nitpick on is that it’s all very well to say “buy my book” or “come see me talk at Blahcon”, but a good blog post or webpage would be thousands of times more useful.

    (tags: databases stateful-services services ops mongodb charity-majors rollback state storage testing dba)

  • Remarks at the SASE Panel On The Moral Economy of Tech

    Excellent talk. I love this analogy for ML applied to real-world data which affects people:

    Treating the world as software promotes fantasies of control. And the best kind of control is control without responsibility. Our unique position as authors of software used by millions gives us power, but we don’t accept that this should make us accountable. We’re programmers—who else is going to write the software that runs the world? To put it plainly, we are surprised that people seem to get mad at us for trying to help. Fortunately we are smart people and have found a way out of this predicament. Instead of relying on algorithms, which we can be accused of manipulating for our benefit, we have turned to machine learning, an ingenious way of disclaiming responsibility for anything. Machine learning is like money laundering for bias. It’s a clean, mathematical apparatus that gives the status quo the aura of logical inevitability. The numbers don’t lie.
    Particularly apposite today given Y Combinator’s revelation that they use an AI bot to help ‘sift admission applications’, and don’t know what criteria it’s using:

    (tags: culture ethics privacy technology surveillance ml machine-learning bias algorithms software control)

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Links for 2016-10-02

  • The ultimate off-site backup

    So assuming the mission continues well, in 2014 the Rosetta Probe will land on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where it will measure the comet’s molecular composition. Then it will remain at rest as the comet orbits the sun for hundreds of millions of years. So somewhere in the solar system, where it is safe but hard to reach, a backup sample of human languages is stored, in case we need one.
    As jwz says: ‘The Rosetta Disc is now safely installed on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.’

    (tags: rosetta long-now history language comets solar-system space)

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Links for 2016-09-30

  • Airflow/AMI/ASG nightly-packaging workflow

    Some tantalising discussion on twitter of an Airflow + AMI + ASG workflow for ML packaging: ‘We build models using Airflow. We deploy new models as AMIs where each AMI is model + scoring code. The AMI is hence a version of code + model at a point in time : #immutable_infrastructure. It’s natural for Airflow to build & deploy the model+code with each Airflow DAG Run corresponding to a versioned AMI. if there’s a problem, we can simply roll back to the previous AMI & identify the problematic model building Dag run. Since we use ASGs, Airflow can execute a rolling deploy of new AMIs. We could also have it do a validation & ASG rollback of the AMI if validation fails. Airflow is being used for reliable Model build+validation+deployment.’

    (tags: ml packaging airflow asg ami deployment ops infrastructure rollback)

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Links for 2016-09-29

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Links for 2016-09-28

  • Snooping powers saw 13 people wrongly held on child sex charges in the UK

    Sorry, Daily Mail article —

    Blunders in the use of controversial snooping powers meant 13 people were wrongly arrested last year on suspicion of being paedophiles. Another four individuals had their homes searched by detectives following errors in attempts to access communications data, a watchdog revealed yesterday. Other mistakes also included people unconnected to an investigation being visited by police and delayed welfare checks on vulnerable people including children whose lives were at risk, said the Interception of Communications Commissioner. [….] A large proportion of the errors involved an internet address which was wrongly linked to an individual. Of the 23 serious mistakes, 14 were human errors and the other nine ‘technical system errors’.

    (tags: surveillance ip-addresses privacy uk daily-mail snooping interception errors)

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