Older blog entries for dmarti (starting at number 458)

Sunday morning reading: internships, open access, bikes, farms

Andy Nairn on smelly marketing practices: Pecunia non olet.

Justin Colletti: Has The Internship Turned Evil? When for-profit companies seek short-term payroll savings by relying on unpaid interns, they are effectively forcing would-be innovators to become the competition.

This makes a lot of sense if you use Markdown and "git diff" instead of MS-Word and "Track Changes": One sentence per line, please: Brandon Rhodes (via What The Web?!)

Guide released on good practices for university open-access policies. based on policies adopted at Harvard, Stanford, MIT, and a couple of dozen other institutions around the world.

A Dragnet for Pee-Wee Bike theft hurts a lot of people, but it’s not like anyone is going to devote actual resources to stopping it. So, at Priceonomics, we thought we’d take a crack at trying to reduce bike theft. Could we use software to help people fight back against bike thieves?

Lindsey Kuper: Mark Bittman's simplistic "Simple Fix for Farming". Real farmers respond to an encouraging study of diversified systems. If you can make as much money with the alternative system but it takes more time and management to do it, then you've actually lost ground. On the other hand, is our capacity to manage complexity growing fast enough to handle it? John Robb: Exponential economic growth with rapidly decreasing resource needs...

Worth a second look, if you missed this the first time: Recovering Adam Smith's ethical economics.

Syndicated 2012-10-28 15:57:49 from Don Marti

Can privacy tech save advertising?

Peter Klein of MediaWhiz, writing in Ad Age: Why Do Not Track Will Make Online Advertising Better (Seriously). Anti-tracking legislation will make online advertising more focused and relevant to consumers. It will set into motion a more innovative and prosperous era of digital marketing, dominated by a healthy respect for consumers' wishes about how their data are collected and used, and innovative advertising that meets their needs.

Good point. Placing ads on relevant content can help everyone, but tracking individual users is just creepy. Making the creepy side harder is just what advertising needs. Klein writes, Do Not Track will force marketers to be more creative in their campaigns, tapping into legally available data—users' expressed interests. This will foster deeper and more relevant connections between brands and consumers and benefit online advertisers in the long run.

It all goes back to the signaling problem. User tracking isn't just a problem because it sets off people's creep radar. It's a problem because, as soon as ads start being targeted to the user, they stop pulling their weight. (part 1, part 2.) The more targeted that advertising gets, the less well it carries out its essential role of sending a signal about the advertiser's intentions and resources. In media where user tracking is impractical, the users give advertising more attention.

In the long run, there are a couple of other points to keep in mind.

First, better privacy tech isn't just good for advertising, it's good for the content creators. When advertisers have to target by interest, they have to look for relevant content, instead of falling down the adtech rat hole and chasing the desired user onto the cheapest possible page. All but the bottom-feeder content sites are likely to do better under an improved privacy regime.

Ricardo Bilton for VentureBeat, in How Do Not Track could destroy the Internet as you know it, quotes Marc Groman, the director of the Networking Advertising Initiative, who says, Behavior-based advertising is absolutely critical to the long tail....And if that goes away, I don’t know how most websites are going to monetize their content. Fair point, but I won't miss FunnyJunk.com. Are any sites really both funding original content and dependent on behavioral ads?

Second, DNT is a nice start for privacy tech, but it's only the cornflakes in the complete breakfast. Browsers have some design features, left over from the dot-com 1990s, that might have seemed like a good idea at the time but that feed the privacy problems of today. Two of these misfeatures are information leakage in the User-Agent header and the policy for how the browser handles cookies and scripts from third party sites. There's an interesting proposal to fix the second one, but much work remains to be done.

And now that we all know that privacy tech is good for advertising, maybe we'll have more interest from forward-thinking ad agencies in making that happen. Ad agency-sponsored Internet privacy lab, anyone?

Syndicated 2012-10-23 13:10:52 from Don Marti

Sunday reading: agency problems

Charles Stross writes, Corporations do not share our priorities. They are hive organisms constructed out of teeming workers who join or leave the collective: those who participate within it subordinate their goals to that of the collective, which pursues the three corporate objectives of growth, profitability, and pain avoidance. But it's a little more complicated than that...

Chris Dixon: Agency problems If you are selling technology to large companies, you need to understand the incentives of the decision makers. As you go higher in the organization, the incentives are more aligned with the firm’s incentives. But knowledge and authority over operations often reside at lower levels.

Agency problem showing up in corruption and foreign land ownership: China's food security plan in Africa.

Steve Randy Waldman: Forcing frequent failures (via Felix Salmon and Stumbling and Mumbling) Squirrels don’t lobby Congress, when the ranger decides to burn down the bit of the forest where their acorns are buried. Banks and their creditors are unlikely to take “controlled burns” of their institutions so stoically. If we are going to periodically burn down banks, we need some sort of fair procedure for deciding who gets burned, when, and how badly.

Syndicated 2012-10-21 13:50:07 from Don Marti

Sunday links: robots, cities, and the future

Warren Ellis: How To See The Future. The most basic mobile phone is in fact a communications devices that shames all of science fiction, all the wrist radios and handheld communicators. Captain Kirk had to tune his fucking communicator and it couldn’t text or take a photo that he could stick a nice Polaroid filter on. Science fiction didn’t see the mobile phone coming. It certainly didn’t see the glowing glass windows many of us carry now, where we make amazing things happen by pointing at it with our fingers like goddamn wizards.

David H. Freedman: The Rise of the Robotic Workforce. Called Baxter, it is a humanoid robot that has the potential to be everything Brooks was shooting for: a breeze to use, capable of handling any number of basic assembly-line jobs, and ridiculously cheap.

John Naughton: Google's self-guided car could drive the next wave of unemployment. [Google] engineers have demonstrated that with smart software and an array of sensors, a machine can perform a task of sophistication and complexity most of us assumed would always require the capabilities of humans. And that means our assumptions about what machines can and cannot do are urgently in need of updating.

Venkatesh Rao: Cloud Mouse, Metro Mouse (via attention industry). Metro mice view cloud-mice as philistines, incapable of appreciating the finer things in life, represented by megacity cultures. Cloud mice view the metro mice as self-absorbed, urban supremacists with embarrassingly limited horizons....

Hanna Rosin: are men an endangered species? The story was no longer about the depths men had sunk to; that dynamic had been playing out for several decades and was more or less played out. The new story was that women, for the first time in history, had in many ways surpassed them.

Timothy B. Lee: Restrictive Zoning Is Crippling Silicon Valley’s Transit Options. People like me who would like there to be more dense, walkable neighborhoods in America face a kind of chicken-and-egg problem. Achieving the necessary density requires a significant fraction of people to give up their cars. Living without a car is only practical in areas that are well-served by transit. But a good transit system is only economically viable in metropolitan areas that already have significant density.

Washington's Blog: Cowardice Is Destroying America. The courage of the men at Valley Forge was also a turning point in the war. Slogging on through the dead of winter without shoes inspired a nation. On the other hand, cowardice makes people stupid and docile.

Syndicated 2012-10-14 13:25:35 from Don Marti

MLP: software development fun

Junio Hamano: Git User's Survey 2012 edition. You have already taken this, right? (Bonus links: Junio C Hamano: Git 1.8.0-rc0 Junio C Hamano: Fun with running textconv)

Drupal and NoSQL: My (not so) secret agenda for Drupal 8 Drupal 8 and MongoDB update #1

Mark Dominus is mad, I tell you, mad! (But some of these Git tricks, used sparingly, could be really useful.) My Git Habits and Rewriting published history in Git

Jessamyn Smith: Everything I wish I’d known about git... If you know another version control system, do your best to forget the names of commands and the association of functionality with commands

Ubuntu developers: Sebastian Kügler: Best practises for writing defensive publications

Google Authenticator FTW: Another layer of security for your Dropbox account, Dropbox and Time-based One Time Passwords...

Two interesting projects at Sony: Sony opens up the Dynamic Android Sensor HAL (DASH) – developers can contribute [open source] and BacklogTool – new open source tool for backlog management from Sony.

Allen Gannett: Enterprise software begins its beautification, where design was once an afterthought. While tools such as SharePoint hold market share despite being clunky and obtuse, a startling shift has occurred in the last two years. We are beginning to see the rise of truly usable—and increasingly, beautiful—enterprise software.

JessiTRON: Git: The Good Parts - history is written by the victors. Software is built feature by feature, fix by fix. This is what you want to see when you look back at history.

Linus Torvalds on "clean history" (via What The Web?!)

Linux on the (consumer) Desktop My punch-line is that the Linux Desktop faces a huge and multi-factored ecosystem challenge, there is no single simple issue to fix.

Jonathan Corbet: Bazaar on the slow track. Bazaar, as a project, may not be dead, but it shows signs of going into a sort of maintenance mode.

Dave Winer: Manifesto: Un-Web 2.0. (via Phil Windley's Technometria) In Un-Web 2.0 you get full control of your data, and the services just get pointers to it, or copies of it. The originals live with you. Pointers are much preferable to copies because then you can keep updating the content after it has been incorporated in someone else's content tree.

Viljami Salminen at Smashing Magazine: Establishing an open device lab. (Watch this space...we need one of these in Alameda.)

Sean McArthur: Persona Beta 1. [W]e hope to eventually remove ourselves from it all.

Kees Cook: Link restrictions released in Linux 3.6. an entire class of vulnerability just goes away.

Steve Losh on keyboard choices: A Modern Space Cadet

NIST Selects Winner of Secure Hash Algorithm (SHA-3) Competition

Syndicated 2012-10-08 12:42:42 from Don Marti

Sunday reading: patent roundup

Ryan Whitwam: How the Apple-Samsung case could push OEMs closer to Google and stock Android. You could make an argument that a company might flip out and bail on the Android platform, but I think it’s more likely that it would seek safety in the shade of a monolithic Google experience.

Jean-Marc Valin and Timothy B. Terriberry: It’s Opus, it rocks and now it’s an audio codec standard! Opus is the first state of the art, free audio codec to be standardized....Opus is the result of a collaboration between many organizations, including the IETF, Mozilla, Microsoft (through Skype), Xiph.Org, Octasic, Broadcom, and Google.

Judge Richard A. Posner: Do patent and copyright law restrict competition and creativity excessively? The problem of excessive patent protection is at present best illustrated by the software industry. This is a progressive, dynamic industry rife with invention. But the conditions that make patent protection essential in the pharmaceutical industry are absent.

Prof. Gary S. Becker: Reforming the Patent System Toward a Minimalist System. It has long been recognized that patents impose costs on society since patents keep out competition, so that the monopoly power of patent holders enables them to raise prices and lower outputs. However, until recent years many other costs of the patent system received little attention, including paradoxically that this system might in fact discourage innovations.

Timothy B. Lee: How a rogue appeals court wrecked the patent system. No institution is more responsible for the recent explosion of patent litigation in the software industry, the rise of patent trolls, and the proliferation of patent thickets than the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Followup: The Federal Circuit, Not the Supreme Court, Legalized Software Patents. Bonus link: Public vs. Private is a Spectrum, Not a Dichotomy

Jordan Weissmann: The Case for Abolishing Patents (Yes, All of Them). [P]atent protections never stay small and tidy. Instead, entrenched players like intellectual property lawyers who make their living filing lawsuits and old, established corporations that want to keep new players out of their markets lobby to expand the breadth of patent rights. And as patent rights get stronger, they take a serious toll on the economy, including our ability to innovate.

Syndicated 2012-10-07 14:52:50 from Don Marti

Git Fusion and upstreaming in-house work

New release from Perforce, where I work: Perforce Git Fusion (press release, product page). Now you can set up remixed Git repositories for projects, and work in a custom repo without worrying about extra tooling such as submodules, subtrees, or "repo" scripts. A developer at example.com might work in a single Git repository that contains...

  • That developer's own in-house code

  • PNG versions of the artwork (a subset of a much larger art collection handled in Perforce)

  • An open source project, let's call it libfoo.

That developer might do some work that touches both in-house code and libfoo. (It all goes in with one commit and push.) Without remixing, it would be a pain to extract the libfoo stuff and upstream it, so you end up with a forked libfoo hanging around, making life miserable.

But we're remixing here. So we can also keep a regular libfoo Git repository around, using Git Fusion as a remote. When I pull from Git Fusion here, I get a new commit with just the libfoo work. And since this is just a regular git repo, we can also run a tracking branch of upstream's master. So we can rebase that commit onto whatever branch upstream wants it, rewrite the commit message to be relevant and not specific to in-house code, and contribute normally via patch or pull request. This is where we can clean up this commit to match libfoo's "guidelines for contributors" without affecting the original.

Easy for everyone to do in-house work that touches the open-source dependencies, and easy to extract and contribute what is upstreamable.

Syndicated 2012-10-02 13:57:27 from Don Marti

Sunday links: crime pays

Rohin Dhar: What Happens to Stolen Bicycles? For all practical purposes, stealing a bike is risk-free crime.

Greg Stevens: Revealed: the grubby world of comment spam. Good intro to how the annoying side of search engine optimization works.

Tracy Earles: FISA cans CAN-SPAM: two major differences between the Canadian and U.S. anti-spam laws. FISA requires that the recipient must have opted-in, and the sender must be able to document that consent.

Timothy B. Lee: The One Government Bureaucracy Richard Esptein Trusts. A top-down bureaucratic process like this is prone to a variety of systematic errors. (Bonus link: AskPatents.com: A Stack Exchange To Prevent Bad Patents. Also, this article from Kevin Carson covers how to handle companies supported by state intervention: The Left-Rothbardians, Part I: Rothbard)

Lisa Knepper: How Licensing Laws Kill Jobs. Jestina Clayton is the type of entrepreneur we should be encouraging if we want to put more Americans back to work. Instead, the state of Utah shut her down.

William J. Quirk: Too Big to Fail and Too Risky to Exist (via The Feature). Four years after the 2008 financial crisis, banks are behaving more recklessly than ever.

Maggie Koerth-Baker on abuse of the news embargo system: Authors of study linking GM corn with rat tumors manipulated media to prevent criticism of their work.

Prof. Mahmoud El-Gamal: American Muslims, Freedom of Speech, and Cultural Divides. One area that is clearly a point of conflict between current American norms and current Islamic norms pertains to freedom of speech on revered religious figures, and those on both sides who wish to escalate a clash of cultures have been exploiting this point of conflict unrelentlessly.

Timothy B. Lee again: Washington’s Wealth Is About Changing Norms, Not Engaged Rich People. Washington a half-century ago had much stronger norms against public officials becoming influence-peddlers. That meant lobbying firms had much less influence over the legislative process—both because fewer of them were former public officials and because many fewer people still in public office were contemplating second careers on K Street. As a result, lobbying firms couldn’t offer their clients the same bang for the buck they can offer today....

Syndicated 2012-09-30 15:28:01 from Don Marti

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

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