Sunday, November 27, 2005
Bram Cohen: Bio experiments: "Such meta-testing is done quite rarely. Whether males and females interpret the meanings of numbers in a 1 to 5 scale is, so far as I know, a completely untested area, making a very large field of survey-based gender psychology extremely dubious."
In Defense of SOX: "I recall the late 90s when companies would hire the CFO weeks before the IPO road show. I recall that happening with a few CEOs as well. It was crazy. And it's no wonder that so many of those companies ended up being bad public companies. With SOX, that really can't happen. It takes a year or longer to prepare to become a public company. We have several companies in the Flatiron portfolio that are going through this process now. And as much as I hate seeing them spend the money on SOX consultants and staffing up their finance departments, I see it as an important test of whether the company really wants to be a public company or not."
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Am I the only person suspicious of the MPAA's claims regarding the Internet's damage to DVD sales when the studios won't release DVD sales figures?
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
The first page of my Amazon recommendations:
- Lovecraft, et al., The Road to Madness
- Joshi, Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories
- Greene, Econometric Analysis
- Gelbaum, Olmsted, Counterexamples in Analysis
- Friedman, Friedman, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement
- Orwell, 1984
- Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy
- Fox, How to Make Big Money in Your Own Small Business
- Smith, The Wealth of Nations
- The West Wing - The Complete Fourth Season
- Shpongle, Tales of the Inexpressible
- Kreps, A Course in Microeconomic Theory
- Frankfurt, On Bullshit
- Bryant, Metric Spaces
- Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
I do not think any two of these are uncorrelated.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Phony Theory, False Conflict: "In order to justify the farce that intelligent design is science, Kansas had to corrupt the very definition of science, dropping the phrase ' natural explanations for what we observe in the world around us,' thus unmistakably implying -- by fiat of definition, no less -- that the supernatural is an integral part of science. This is an insult both to religion and science."
Synchronization (was "Other bad ideas...")
Synchronization (was "Other bad ideas...")
I want a cross-platform data sync system that apps can plug in to, to carry your data from machine to machine as you go throughout your day. Most people with computers actually have two computers -- the one at home and the one at work. I'm one of those people (also I have a laptop). I want to be able to take it with me.
I suspect the Mozilla Foundation is best poised to do this because:
- They can integrate Mozilla, Firefox, Camino, Thunderbird and Sunbird, and let other people deal with other software.
- The Mozilla Foundation is insulated from the lack of business model.
So here's a hackish (but possibly workable) proposal: implement such a system as a layer on top of Subversion.
Subversion contains all the logic and semantics needed for conflict resolution and merging. The simplest implementation would be:
- Put all sync-able data in text files stored in well known locations.
- Sync those to a repository of your choice (e.g. one of your machines, a server, a paid service).
- Create a UI (or one per app) to present conflicts to the user and let them decide how to handle the conflicts.
- Index the (versioned) text documents for searching. Do not version the index, but update it locally as version changes come in over the wire.
This has its upsides:
- Most of the logic is already there -- all the new work is in UI (with the exception of the Windows version of the Palm Desktop, every synchronization and versioning system I've seen that isn't a source code control system is insufficiently reliable).
- Most of the code is already there.
- The code is open source.
- Subversion offers a number of different ways to access the repository, which would let people sync across their own machines or via a hosted server somewhere on the net.
- The sync history is a permanent backup -- you can revert to any earlier version of the world that had been synced.
It also has its downsides:
- It's somewhat heavyweight.
- It's overkill.
- It will take up a lot of space, especially as the backup/history grows.
- The permanent backup is permanent unless you wipe the whole thing -- you cannot delete individual historical revisions. Thich may conflict with data retention policies.
I admit this is a bit of a hack, but it's worth asking why people keep reinventing wheels.
One person pointed out that Subversion doesn't take that much space (either for the repository or the local data). This is probably true in any real sense (the average user's repository will be smaller than one mp3).
As a couple people pointed out, Apple has this in .Mac sync. However, Apple's solution some serious downsides:
- It costs $100 per year.
- It's Mac only -- if you're one of the rare 98% of people who use a Windows machine at work you're out of luck.
- Bookmark sync works with Safari only -- even if you use a Mac, you're stuck on the slowest, most feature-poor browser still actively supported on the Mac.
- Steve's servers -- you're dependent on the servers Apple maintains, and can't put the data on your own machines (think of the security concerns for corporations).
- It doesn't work -- at least in any meaningful sense. The .Mac support forums are constantly full of threads about how .Mac sync is currently broken.
Someone rightly pointed out that svn takes care of syncing text files and well-known-data, but doesn't deal with things like merging Word docs. I can live with that, but I'm guessing it's something people could add if the sync architecture allowed for plugins for different apps and data types (since svn would notify of conflicts). I think the right approach is to start with a limited but extensible set (e.g. the Mozilla apps), and worry about harder problems (e.g. MS Word docs) in the second phase and extensions.
A couple people suggested ways to shrink the history/backup. None of the suggestions so far are particularly pretty (see the Subversion FAQ for more on this).
And yes, I've now seen the SEE/RSS proposal.
Apple's Growing Army of Converts: "'The sad reality about the Mac market is that until the fourth quarter of last year, it had been shrinking,' Wolf says. 'Apple sold a million more Macs during the first three [calendar] quarters than it would have if it were only Mac users buying.'" -- meanwhile I've been considering buying a Windows laptop instead of a Mac laptop the next time around (half the weight, double the battery life, more attention to quality over polish (never thought i'd say that), and less "we know what's good for you")
Fake kosher marshmallows new threat to Israel? -- smugglers selling fake goods, or Northwestern students preparing for an away game?
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Geneticists claim ageing breakthrough but immortality will have to wait: "Scientists believe that drastically cutting calories triggers a switch in an organism's behaviour, from growing and being able to reproduce, to a state of stasis in which growth and ageing are put on hold at the expense of reproductive capability, until more food is available. Scientists are now trying to mimic the effect by tinkering with genes in the hope of developing anti-ageing treatments that work without having to cut food intake."
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
On the Internet nobody knows your dog knows so much about such a niche subject.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Doing Unto Others as They Did Unto Us: "The Pentagon effectively signed off on a strategy that mimics Red Army methods. But those tactics were not only inhumane, they were ineffective. For Communist interrogators, truth was beside the point: their aim was to force compliance to the point of false confession."
Monday, November 14, 2005
Relatively well paid, or hope to be one day? James wants you to donate 10% of everything you make over $100k, to the philanthropic endeavor of your choice. The New York Times has more on the subject.
Friday, November 11, 2005
Guilty Until Proven Dead: "But why stop with terror when the same tactics could aid America so much more in its war on crime? A lean, streamlined criminal justice system could skip straight from arrest to imprisonment without the lengthy hassle of a criminal trial, while simultaneously eliminating the dangeous possibility that any guilty suspect could evade justice through the loophole of being innocent."
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Schneier on Security: Fraudulent Stock Transactions: " E*trade insists it did nothing wrong. It executed $174,000 in fraudulent transactions, but it did nothing wrong. It sold stocks without the knowledge or consent of the owner of those stocks, but it did nothing wrong."
Television More Oversexed Than Ever, Study Finds: "And yet the rate of teen pregnancy in this country has plunged by about one-third during approximately the same time."
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
The worst bugs in history (and how to learn from them): "The difference between these stories and 90% of software developers is the context of the work. Few of us work on medical equipment, anti-lock brakes or nuclear weapon arming devices. We don’t work on things with the potential to kill or cost $100 of millions. For most of us, if we employed the same development practices we do on a daily basis on a mission critical project, we’d make this list in no time."
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Closing Arguments Made in Trial on Intelligent Design: "This isn't really science against science because that would be two competing arguments based on evidence, research and peer-reviewed articles - and intelligent design has none of those."
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
The Worst Jobs in Science: "Alas, for Kansas's educational reputation, the damage may be done. 'We've heard anecdotally that our students are getting much more scrutiny at places like medical schools. I get calls from teachers in other states who say things like 'You rubes!'' Williamson says. 'But this is happening across the country. It's not just Kansas anymore.' "
Sony, Rootkits and Digital Rights Management Gone Too Far: " I noticed an increase in CPU usage by $sys$DRMServer.exe, one of the previously cloaked images, when I pressed the play button. A look at the Services tab of its process propertieds dialog showed it contains a service named "Plug and Play Device Manager", which is obviously an attempt to mislead the casual user that stumbles across it in the Services MMC snapin (services.msc) into thinking that it's a core part of Windows:"
Capitol Gains: "Economists have known for a long time that corporate insiders outperform the market by something like six or seven per cent a year."