Older blog entries for dmarti (starting at number 450)

Happy hacking: software development links

Where did the freedom-loving volunteers go? Selena Deckelmann on Europe’s open source advantage.

Joseph Reagle: The Feedback of “Tiger” Moms and Women in Computing. Female participation is much higher in cultures where computing is seen as a good career path and a skill to be learned...rather than a masculine or personality-driven type activity.

Just relax and use Go? Go at Conformal. The contract Go offers is simple, you do things our way and the rewards will be great. You use the prescribed directory structure, you get collaboration and a build system for free. You name simple go programs that have _test appended to the filename, you get unit test and performance analysis for free. You use comments in a certain way, you get documentation for free. No more arcane makefiles and crappy scripting languages.

Retrocomputing fun: Before There Were QR Codes: Cauzin Softstrips.

From the alt.fan.heroku department: Do a "git push" to deploy an application to Windows Azure: Announcing: Great Improvements to Windows Azure Web Sites.

Mark Shuttleworth: Amazon search results in the Dash. In other news, Amazon delivery boxes at 7-11. (Now all that the world needs to complete the loop is Ubuntu kiosks at 7-11.)

Good-looking source code typeface: Announcing Source Code Pro (via Google Web Fonts and Webmonkey)

Interesting UI for setting up "if this then that" rules connected to Dropbox, Twitter, and other Web APIs: ifttt.com (via From Python Import Podcast)

Mozilla Persona released. This helps to deal with a key Internet security problem. What are people bad at? Remembering strings of characters. What does the security of many sites depend on? Making people remember strings of characters.

Making the rounds: Clay Shirky on How the Internet will/could (one day) transform government (via Giles Bowkett)

Syndicated 2012-09-29 14:44:28 from Don Marti

Sunday morning essays: employment, news, the New Aesthetic, and pirates

Kevin Carson: Contract Feudalism. Employers (especially in the service sector) are coming to view not only the employee’s laborpower during work hours, but the employee himself as their property.

Joel Gascoigne: The power of ignoring mainstream news. When I first started ignoring news, I felt that I was simply making an excuse, that if I had more time I should read the news. Today, however, it is a very deliberate choice and I feel consistently happier every single day due to ignoring the mainstream news.

Will Wiles: The machine gaze (via Warren Ellis) Converging, leapfrogging technologies evoke new emotional responses within us, responses that do not yet have names

Josh Kron: Open Source Politics: The Radical Promise of Germany's Pirate Party (via naked capitalism). Inspired by a Swedish file-sharing website, the political insurgents are winning elections on a platform of openness and inclusivity, but can they survive the realities of governing? (it's Pony Time.)

Syndicated 2012-09-23 15:03:40 from Don Marti

How to handle computer problems

Handy guide to dealing with computer problems, by platform.

Microsoft Windows user: Call support.

Mac user: Write long thoughtful blog essay about how Apple has finally lost its mojo. Get used to working around problem.

Linux user (old school): Write shell script to work around problem. Post it and ignore comments from other Linux users who can't get it to work because their software versions are slightly different.

Linux user (new school): Fork project. Remove the configuration dialog and make your way the default. Ignore comments from other Linux users who want the old default option back.

Twitter user: Begin thoughtful blog essay about how Twitter has lost its mojo. Take a typing break to check Twitter. Oooo! Fight!

Webmaster: Fall back to using tables and/or Flash. Redesign own blog with advanced CSS and media queries.

Mac user (later): Try a new product from a non-Apple vendor that lacks the problem. Write long thoughtful blog essay pronouncing it DOA because it doesn't work the way you're used to.

Syndicated 2012-09-10 14:46:08 from Don Marti

Sunday essay links, you built that edition

James Tuttle: Big Business and the Rise of American Statism. How did today's large regulatory bureaucracy arise in the USA? Tuttle makes the case that incumbent corporations asked for it...

...which makes for an interesting point of view on Robert Epstein's arguments for regulating Google. (But imagine that the company was filing huge amounts of paperwork with the US Department of Google. How would anyone ever displace them?)

Jason Hreha asks, When did addiction become a good thing? As members of the tech industry, we need to ask serious questions about the behaviors that we are promoting. Are we really helping people live better lives? Or, are we promoting suboptimal habits and aptitudes? At best, many of the products we’re building are time wasters. At worst, they’re the addictive equivalents of cigarettes — irresistible cheap thrills that feel good in the moment, but are destructive in the long run. (via naked capitalism)

Laura Noren reviews “Addiction by Design”, by Natasha Dow Schüll. Addiction by Design is as compelling as a horror story—a sad, smart horror story that calls off the Luddite witch hunt (Down with the machines!) in favor of an approach that examines the role of gaming designers within existing social systems of gender and class disparity.

Andrew Haughwout, Donghoon Lee, Joelle Scally, and Wilbert van der Klaauw: Has Household Deleveraging Continued? [M]uch of the debt reduction seen at the overall level was attributable to deleveraging: households actively borrowing less and paying down existing liabilities. (And the Dave Ramsey media empire is doing well, too. Coincidence?)

“Intervention” Is Inevitable When The Government Has A Monopoly One of the most important inputs to the production of broadband networks is rights of way—permission to dig up public streets and attach cables to public utility poles—which in most cases are under the control of local governments. That means that “don’t intervene in the market” is a non-sensical position when it comes to broadband. (See also: Property rights and net neutrality.)

Syndicated 2012-09-09 14:44:39 from Don Marti

Adtech, big data and privacy links

Paul Ohm: Don't Build a Database of Ruin (via Richard Stallman's Political Notes). In the absence of intervention, soon companies will know things about us that we do not even know about ourselves. This is the exciting possibility of Big Data, but for privacy, it is a recipe for disaster. (IMHO, PII is like hazardous materials: keep only as much as you absolutely need, because when it spills, it'll cost more than it was worth.)

Andrew Nibley: The Future of Ad Tech? Look at What's Happened to Financial Markets. That's a comforting thought.

Ted Rooke asks, Do consumers really mistrust big data? That's a good question. A related question is: Are a user's beliefs about the extent of ad targeting correlated with the likelihood that the user will run an ad blocker? (My humble opinion is that the more a user learns about adtech, the creepier he or she will find it, and the more likely he or she will be to employ countermeasures. But maybe I'm just looking at greybeards, and the rest of you don't get the same creepy feeling.)

Related, from Alistair Croll: Followup on Big Data and Civil Rights (via O'Reilly Radar)

Richard Stacy: The great thing about advertising is that no-one takes it personally. The very greatest advertising, like any performance or show, creates a sense of audience participation: the viewers experience a sense of collective engagement with the ad and (usually but not always) the brand that lies behind it. Critically, they also receive assurance that the brand is popular and successful and that, as a consumer, they are not alone.

Seth Godin: Advertising's bumpy transition (and why it matters to you). The short version is that magazine ads were expensive because they were scarce, they worked (maybe) and they were sold, hard. (But print also has extra inherent value: it's less trackable, so sends a stronger signal.

Important work, started by Dan Witte at mozilla.org, on managing the third-party cookie problem: Key cookies on setting domain * toplevel load domain and Thirdparty. Improve user awareness of what they're consenting to, be it informed, implicit or unintended.

Another privacy milestone: Freedombox Kickstarter software released. (via Bits from the Basement)

Syndicated 2012-09-03 15:51:29 from Don Marti


Let's get the negatives out of the way first. Valdis Krebs suggests that Facebook is Toast essentially because it's a silo with a site-specific social graph, a new AOL.

Josh Constine for TechCrunch: Facebook’s New Retargeted Ads Performing “Very Well”, Adds Partners To Run Them. This sounds like good news, business-wise, but it's just creepy adtech as usual, which is a problem. (For background on this type of business, see A simple guide to how ad exchanges work by Josh Dreller.) Dalton Caldwell explains the Facebook ad situation in Hot Dogs and Caviar. Also, the restaurant is under intense financial pressure to get the machine working, and is valued by investors and employees in a way that assumes the hot dog-to-caviar machine already works. They have roughly 12 months to get the machine working or Bad Things will happen.

But Bad Things? Really? Now for the good news, from Henry Blodget: It's Becoming Clear That No One Actually Read Facebook's IPO Prospectus Or Mark Zuckerberg's Letter To Shareholders. Mark Zuckerberg set up the entire structure of the company so he wouldn't be forced to make dumb short-term decisions by whining public-market shareholders.

Mark Zuckerberg: Hey, can you give me some money, no strings attached, to sponsor my web site?

Investor: What's that you say? You're building a magickal hot dog machine that craps out exponentially increasing amounts of ad revenue? Sure, here's some money!

Facebook said they were building a hacker playground, so yay for them. Let's see what they come up with. At least they're helping to reform Frank Gehry.

Syndicated 2012-09-02 15:15:42 from Don Marti

Sunday morning MLP: religion and politics

Politics department, part 1: John Cusack and Jonathan Turley on Obama’s Constitution. He was never motivated that much by principle. What he’s motivated by are programs.

Part 2: a moral hazard roundup from Washington's Blog. Top Economists: Iceland Did It Right … And Everyone Else Is Doing It Wrong

Jason Santa Maria: Stealing Sheep. What made me a Goudy superfan is that he did all this and more after he was 40 years old. Before that he busied himself keeping books for a realtor in Chicago.

Prof. Mahmoud El-Gamal: Can Political Islam Reform "Islamic Finance"? Essay on the prohibition of usury, the rise of Islamic political movements, and bizarre mashups of permitted transactions to create supposedly interest-free financial products.

Productivity department, part 1. Hillary Rettig: No Such Thing as “Good Procrastination”.

Part 2, another productivity idea, from Ethan Zuckerman: “Long Flights” – a somewhat serious business idea

Francis Spufford on Christianity: The trouble with atheists: a defence of faith.

Philosopher's Beard: Economics for ethics Ethicists think economists are clumsy buffoons with an impoverished view of human nature and morality, obsessed with incentives and markets as the answer to everything. Economists think ethicists are obsessed with discovering mystical intrinsic values, at the expense of systematically thinking through their real world relevance. These are caricatures with some truth to them. But to the extent that they prevent ethicists and economists from taking each other seriously, they block the real scope for mutual learning.

Syndicated 2012-09-02 14:36:57 from Don Marti

Advertising links

Online ad story from Robert X. Cringely: Click fraud the old fashion way. There is apparently no standardized ad auditing capability on the Internet so scams of this sort are actually easy to do. And advertisers often lean into it by often preferring not to know precisely how effective are their ads. Links back to a previous article: Apple and the Future of Publishing – Part One: Ad agencies 15 years ago didn’t want to know whether or not their ads had actually been read, they told us. This was simply because if an advertiser discovered that few, if any, people were actually reading their ad on page 113, the company might just pull that ad and save their money, taking revenue away from the ad agency in the process.

Larry Downes: Customer Intelligence, Privacy, and the "Creepy Factor" Interesting point that people get de-sensitized to creepy ad practices. But the remaining question is how the creepiness level as seen by the user affects the effectiveness of the ad, or likelihood that the user will run an ad blocker. Any answers?

Jacques Mattheij explains the You are not the customer, you are the product meme. Instead of the simplistic ‘you are the product’ view it is much more complicated. (Just because you see an ad for example.com doesn't mean example.com necessarily knows anything about your web activity. Tracking feeds into a whole hairball of Big Data that's different from site to site.)

Finally, some good points on the great app.net experiment:

Twitter to Client Developers: Drop Dead

Dalton Caldwell: Fred Wilson is wrong about “Free”

How App.net Can Change Everything – Orian Marx (via ReadWriteWeb)

J.D. Bentley: The Network Underneath

Matthew Gertner: The Case Against Advertising

(By the way: you can follow me as dmarti on alpha.app.net.)

Syndicated 2012-08-26 15:29:06 from Don Marti

Brains, shopping, fiction, torture: Sunday morning links

Aaron Swartz: Believe you can change. Do you believe that your abilities are fixed and that the world is just a series of tests that show you how good you are, or that everything comes through effort and that the world is full of interesting challenges that could help you learn and grow?

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones: Why You Should Be Wary of Price Discrimination in the Retail World My problem in general is that price discrimination in the retail world generally benefits the middle class, the non-elderly, and the highly educated. In fact, loyalty card data is often used specifically to attract that class of customers. The lower prices for these groups are subsidized by higher prices charged to the poor, senior citizens, and the not-so-bright.

Rudy Rucker: My Complete Stories Online. (I've read some of these, but this is great.)

Long, but a good use of Sunday reading time: John Cusack & Jonathan Turley on Obama’s Constitution. We have a treaty, actually a number of treaties, that obligate us to investigate and prosecute torture. We pushed through those treaties because we wanted to make clear that no matter what the expediency of the moment, no matter whether it was convenient or inconvenient, all nations had to agree to investigate and prosecute torture and other war crimes.

Jeff Jarvis asks, Reporters: Why are you in Tampa? (Good question.)

Syndicated 2012-08-26 13:30:48 from Don Marti

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