Four short links: 18 May 2018

Efficient Meetings, Mixed Reality in Unity, Design Power, and AI's Exponential Curve of Cost
  1. Reaching Peak Meeting Efficiency -- solid advice for business meetings, including a taxonomy with some firm opinions.
  2. United Mixed Reality Toolkit -- a collection of scripts and components intended to accelerate development of applications targeting Microsoft HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality headsets in Unity. See blog post.
  3. Reddit's New Design Increases Power Consumption by 68GW/Month -- this Reddit user shows their working.
  4. AI and Compute (OpenAI) -- since 2012, the amount of compute used in the largest AI training runs has been increasing exponentially with a 3.5 month-doubling time (by comparison, Moore’s Law had an 18-month doubling period).
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What is a blockchain?

Unpacking the complexity of blockchain, term by term. So, what is a blockchain? It's a complicated question because the inventor of Bitcoin, the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, didn't use the term in the original Bitcoin paper. For many, “the blockchain” is nothing more than a shorthand for "how Bitcoin works." But more usefully, the blockchain is a distributed ledger, shared by untrusted participants, with strong guarantees about accuracy and consistency. What does that mean? Let's unpack it term by term: A ledger: If you go into antiquarian bookstores, you may have seen piles of books from the 19th century in which accountants entered transactions by hand. Those are ledgers. Ledgers are lists of transactions: items sold, and for how much; items purchased, and for how much. Those transactions are dated (timestamped) and ordered. Ledgers are strictly append-only: transactions can be added, but you can’t go back and edit or
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Four short links: 17 May 2018

SEC's ICO, Feeling, Win95 for iOS, and Monocular Performance Capture
  1. Howey Coins -- SEC made their own fake ICO site to illustrate the dangers of unregulated offerings. When you click through to buy, you get their information page.
  2. Graphene-Based Sensor that Feels As a Human Does -- The device detects changes in electrical conductance and resistance through the graphene film when the film is deformed. [...] The graphene film responds to deformations in just 1–2ms, which Park says is much faster than any other piezo-resistive material. [...] Park and his team incorporate their graphene film onto an artificial fingerprint structure so the film reacts to tiny vibrations caused by the ridges on the fingerprint rubbing against a textured surface. Analysing these vibration signals allows the sensor to “feel” differently textured fabrics.[...] After learning the features of known fabrics, the sensor was able to extrapolate this knowledge
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A new benchmark suite for machine learning

MLPerf is a new set of benchmarks compiled by a growing list of industry and academic contributors. We are in an empirical era for machine learning, and it’s important to be able to identify tools that enable efficient experimentation with end-to-end machine learning pipelines. Organizations that are using and deploying machine learning are confronted with a plethora of options for training models and model inference, at the edge and on cloud services. To that end,MLPerf, a new set of benchmarks compiled by a growing list of industry and academic contributors,was recently announced at the recent Artificial Intelligence conference in NYC.

History lessons learned

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How will the GDPR impact machine learning?

Answers to the three most commonly asked questions about maintaining GDPR-compliant machine learning programs. Much has been made about the potential impact of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on data science programs. But there’s perhaps no more important—or uncertain—question than how the regulation will impact machine learning (ML), in particular. Given the recent advancements in ML, and given increasing investments in the field by global organizations, ML is fast becoming the future of enterprise data science. This article aims to demystify this intersection between ML and the GDPR, focusing on the three biggest questions I’ve received at Immuta about maintaining GDPR-compliant data science and R&D programs. Granted, with an enforcement data of May 25, the GDPR has yet to come into full effect, and a good deal of what we do know about how it will be enforced is either vague or evolving (or both!). But key
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Four short links: 16 May 2018

Right to Repair, Entrepreneurial Privilege, Bash Style, and The Botnet Business Model
  1. Right to Repair -- John Scalzi wrote a (very short) story (pure dialogue!) for the EFF to illustrate the significance of the Right to Repair exemption to DMCA for which EFF is lobbying the Copyright Office. (via BoingBoing)
  2. Smart and Illicit: Who Becomes an Entrepreneur and Do They Earn More? -- answer: those from wealthy and privileged backgrounds, and the estimated increase in annual earnings for an individual who chooses to become an incorporated business owner is 12%. This is 2013 research. (via Quartz)
  3. Google's Bash Style Guide -- It's all good, but Use common sense and BE CONSISTENT is golden.
  4. Inside the Business Model for Botnets (MIT TR) -- costs and income. The team say that distributed denial-of-service attacks using a network of 30,000 bots can generate around $26,000 a month. This is a
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Kubernetes and containers for enterprise developers

O’Reilly Media Podcast: JP Phillips, platform engineer at IBM Cloud, on problem solving with containers and Kubernetes, and how developers can get started. There has been a surge of interest in containers, microservices, and Kubernetes in recent years, fueled by the need for developers to share apps that will scale and run in a consistent manner across many different environments. Whether it’s dev, staging, testing, or production, developers need assurance that the code they deploy to one environment is going to work in another. Containers, microservices, and Kubernetes provide such assurance. In this episode of the O’Reilly Media Podcast, I talk with JP Phillips, platform engineer at IBM Cloud. IBM is driving development in the container space, as shown through last year’s launch of Istio, an open cloud service that allows developers to connect, manage, and secure networks of different microservices. Istio, a joint collaboration between IBM, Google, and
istio workshop
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Four short links: 15 May 2018

Data to Sound, Black Mirror, Emulation, and PGP Vulnerability
  1. Sonify -- use data to create and play MIDI files.
  2. Recoding Black Mirror -- workshop at WWW '18. Paper a Day has reader's digest versions of the papers in two parts.
  3. Pi1541 -- a real-time, cycle exact, Commodore 1541 disk drive emulator that can run on a Raspberry Pi 3B (or 3B+). [...] Pi1541 emulates a 6502 and the two 6522s. Any code it is asked to run is run in a cycle exact way. Amazing to live in a time when we can emulate three (admittedly much slower) CPUs in real time on a cheap piece of commodity kit.
  4. EFAIL -- vulnerabilities in the end-to-end encryption technologies OpenPGP and S/MIME that leak the plaintext of encrypted emails. See EFF's recommendation not to use PGP.
Continue reading Four short links: 15 May 2018.

Being a great front-end developer means being fluent in tools, accessibility, and teamwork

Learn how to build fast, secure, accessible experiences at the O’Reilly Fluent conference this June. To become more fluent in the language of the global, expanding, maturing web, you’ll want to attend Fluent in San Jose this year. If you're working on the modern web—whether you're independent or part of a large team—and you want to experience hands-on learning, make meaningful connections, and share ideas across communities, then Fluent offers a number of ways to learn the tools, techniques, and tech you’ll need. Fluent covers a broad range of technologies and topics to provide web programming professionals with the skills, connections, and inspiration needed to build better online and mobile experiences. Even better, you’ll have a variety of ways to learn—from focused 2-day training courses to tutorials to sessions. This year’s program is organized around three tracks: developer experience, web pillars, and beyond code.

Developer experience: Tools, platforms, and techniques

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Four short links: 14 May 2018

Ridesharing Suburbia, Dunbar's Number, Event Sourcing, and Product Failures
  1. Uber and Lyft Change Where People Live (Business Insider) -- Today, in our Uber-tech world, I [can be] in the back of a car with my iPhone, and I’m not losing out on anything. That has changed [commutes] dramatically. Your commute time is not lost productivity. When public transportation doesn't serve your suburb well, there's always Lyft.
  2. Are My Friends Really My Friends? (NY Times) -- One may presume that boasting thousands of social media friends or followers would inflate Dunbar’s number, but Dr. Dunbar said that is “absolutely not at all” the case. In a recent paper analyzing Facebook and Twitter data, and another one looking at mobile phone calls, his team determined that people still “showed the same frequencies of interaction as in face-to-face relationships” for the corresponding layers of intimacy, he said.
  3. Kickstarter's Simple Event Sourcing -- the
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Building complex systems? We’ve got you covered at Velocity San Jose

The O'Reilly Velocity Conference in San Jose will cover what you need to know to build high-performance, resilient, and secure systems. Let’s face it, your systems aren't getting any less complex, and the list of skills you need to build and maintain them keeps growing. Modern systems pose a number of thorny challenges: they are inherently complex and span multiple technologies, groups, and sometimes different organizations altogether. Most poignantly, they tend to fail in the most unexpected and spectacular ways. At Velocity this year, we’ve identified three primary areas of focus to help you build and run the systems that power modern businesses: performance, resilience, and security.


The larger your applications get, the harder it is to understand their performance and troubleshoot problems. This increased complexity in applications and services requires new methods for monitoring and improved observability. Here are some sessions designed to help you tackle performance issues:

The web is broken; let’s fix it

The O’Reilly Podcast: Brendan Eich on disrupting advertising, decentralizing payments, and privacy by design. In this episode of the O’Reilly Podcast, I talk with Brendan Eich, the creator of JavaScript, co-founder of the Mozilla Project and Foundation, and CEO and founder of Brave Software. Eich will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming O’Reilly Fluent Conference, July 11-14, 2018, in San Jose. Discussion points:
  • Fixing the broken web: According to Eich, we’ve built a web that’s allowed “surveillance capitalism, where advertisers and publishers can’t make a match without third parties to track and to run ads.” Content producers can’t make the web work with just subscriptions, and consumers are tired of exchanging privacy and data for slow-performing sites and the increased risk of privacy invasion.
  • Disrupting the third-party advertising model: Eich says, “There's huge disruption happening where internet and television advertising merge. And the advertising model that
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5 popular articles for engineering leaders

Get insights on rebuilding the web, neuroevolution, data engineers vs. data scientists, the blockchain, and design thinking. This list gathers five of our most popular articles covering tools, technologies, and trends relevant to engineering leaders. 

#1: It’s time to rebuild the web

The web was never supposed to be a few walled gardens of concentrated content owned by a few major publishers; it was supposed to be a cacophony of different sites and voices. Read the article. Key excerpt:
I don't want to underestimate the difficulty of this project, or overestimate its chances of success. We'd certainly have to get used to sites that aren't as glossy or complex as the ones we have now. We might have to revisit some of the most hideous bits of the first-generation web, including those awful GeoCities pages. We would probably need to avoid fancy, dynamic websites; and, before you think this
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How successful design leaders achieve personal growth and a balanced life

Perspectives, hard-earned lessons, and strategies from design leaders offer insight into the inner workings of their paths to success.
No successful project gets done without meeting deadlines, staying on budget, and managing lots of different people. There’s a lot on the line. For the leaders of high-performing design groups and million-dollar design firms, these pressures are felt daily. Seemingly never-ending deadlines, constant people management, and strategic thinking in an ambiguous tech landscape are part of the territory. Seeking insights into how design leaders deliver on these demands while remaining balanced and focused was one of the motivations for writing this book. As it is with other CEOs and founders, the strategies and tactics of how to find balance and personal growth is always on our mind. The theme of this chapter might seem more appropriate to being included in a self-help book. The reality is that the personal growth and
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Four short links: 11 May 2018

Leaked Secrets, WFH Productivity, Developer Growth, and Capture the Flag
  1. Used Photocopiers Leak Images -- Nearly every digital copier built since 2002 contains a hard drive - like the one on your personal computer - storing an image of every document copied, scanned, or emailed by the machine.
  2. Stanford Study Shows Productivity Up if Working From Home -- Turns out work-from-home employees work a true full-shift (or more) versus being late to the office or leaving early multiple times a week and found it less distracting and easier to concentrate at home. Additionally (and incredibly), employee attrition decreased by 50 percent among the telecommuters, they took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days, and took less time off. [...] Oh, and by the way, the company saved almost $2,000 per employee on rent by reducing the amount of HQ office space. See the original paper for more details.
  3. Developer Growth
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Companies in China are moving quickly to embrace AI technologies

The O’Reilly Data Show Podcast: Jason Dai on the first year of BigDL and AI in China. In this episode of the Data Show, I spoke with Jason Dai, CTO of Big Data Technologies at Intel, and one of my co-chairs for the AI Conference in Beijing. I wanted to check in on the status of BigDL, specifically how companies have been using this deep learning library on top of Apache Spark, and discuss some newly added features. It turns out there are quite a number of companies already using BigDL in production, and we talked about some of the popular uses cases he’s encountered. We recorded this podcast while we were at the AI Conference in Beijing, so I wanted to get Dai’s thoughts on the adoption of AI technologies among Chinese companies and local/state government agencies. Continue reading Companies in China are moving quickly to embrace AI technologies.

Four short links: 10 May 2018

Game Development, Fake Reviews, Super-Resolution, and Speech Synthesis
  1. Portal Problems -- a talk from Harvard's Intro to Game Development class, a very rendernerdy walk through a lot of bugs that showed up in Portal and how they were fixed. A lot of fixes that are "good enough" rather than "let's make this perfect."
  2. Amazon's Fake Review Problem (Buzzfeed) -- The company, through lawsuits, human moderators, and algorithms, is trying to keep fake reviews off the site, but the review mills that produce those disingenuous ratings may always be one step ahead of Amazon’s ability to moderate them.
  3. Super-Resolution (Paper a Day) -- In super-resolution, we take as input a low-resolution image [...] And produce as output an estimation of a higher resolution up-scaled version.
  4. Google Duplex -- The system also sounds more natural thanks to the incorporation of speech disfluencies (e.g., “hmm”s and “uh”s). These are
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