MaisonBisson

a bunch of stuff I would have emailed you about

Parts of a network you should know about

If you’re running infrastructure and applications on AWS then you will encounter all of these things. They’re not the only parts of a network setup but they are, in my experience, the most important ones.

The start of Graham Lyons’ introduction to networking on AWS, which (though the terms may change) is a pretty good primer for networking in any cloud environment. Though cloud infrastructure providers have to deal with things at a different later, Graham’s post covers the basics—VPCs, subnets, availability zones, routing tables, gateways, and security groups—that customers need to manage when assembling their applications.

We're gonna need a bigger PRNG cycle length...

The general lesson here is that, even for a high quality PRNG, you can’t assume a random distribution unless the generator’s cycle length is much larger than the number of random values you’re generating. A good general heuristic is —

If you need to use n random values you need a PRNG with a cycle length of at least .

From a 2015 post by Mike Malone on PRNGs vs. random key collisions. The Chrome/V8 bug that caused Mike to write nearly 5000 words to explain has since been fixed, but you can check your browser’s PRNG here.

On Uber Eats nobody knows your restaurant is a popup

For independent or family-owned restaurants with less traffic, Douglass points to the pop-up restaurant. Not to be confused with popup restaurants, which are dining concepts open for a limited time. Popups are cooking stations within the main kitchen of a restaurant dedicated to fulfilling delivery-only orders. Eater recently profiled a Dallas, TX-based chain called SushiYaa, which owns five physical locations but houses a couple dozen brands within them. The virtual brands are only available through Uber Eats.

By Jenn Marston for The Spoon on how internet delivery is changing restaurant kitchens as we know them.

Interconnected, machine readable data, at scale

The NGA provides a free database with no regulations on its use. MaxMind takes some coordinates from that database and slaps IP addresses on them. Then IP mapping sites, as well as phone carriers offering “find my phone” services, display those coordinates on maps as distinct and exact locations, ignoring the “accuracy radius” that is supposed to accompany them.

“We assume the correctness of data, and often these people who are supposed to be competent make mistakes and those mistakes then are very detrimental to people’s daily lives,” said Olivier. “We need to get to a point where responsibility can be assigned to individuals who use data to ensure that they use the data correctly.”

From Kashmir Hill writing on the role of interconnected data in our modern lives. In this case it’s geo IP data, but it’s a story that’s increasingly common and likely in any field.

Two years after MaxMind first became aware of this problem with default [geo IP] locations, its lawyer says it’s still trying to fix it.

Interfaces, surface area, durability

A DOS program can be made to run unmodified on pretty much any computer made since the 80s. A JavaScript app might break with tomorrow’s Chrome update

From Joe Groff, who wonders if developers will choose old platforms running in emulators over more complex and volatile modern platforms. Also see Nikia Prokopov’s disenchantment.

In praise of refactoring

Under the right conditions refactoring provides a sort of express lane to becoming a master developer. […] Through refactoring, a developer can develop insights, skills, and techniques more quickly by addressing a well understood problem from a more experienced perspective. Practice make perfect. If not the code, maybe the coder.

From Patrick Goddi, who argues refactoring is about more than code quality.

The day-to-day drudgery of state sponsored hacking

After a review of bids and testing the capabilities of some of the exploits offered, the team decided to build its own malware. “This is the only inexpensive way to get to the iPhone, except for the [Israeli] solution for 7 million and that’s only for WhatsApp,” explained one team member in a message. “We still need Viber, Skype, Gmail, and so on.” The same was true of the Android and Windows malware and the back-end tools used to manage the campaign. Rather than using zero-day exploits, the organization relied on a combination of physical access, spear-phishing, and other techniques to inject its espionage tools onto the targeted devices.

From Sean Gallagher in ArsTechnica on the details leaked from a state sponsored malware effort.

Who controls the menu?

When people are given a menu of choices, they rarely ask:

  • “what’s not on the menu?”
  • “why am I being given these options and not others?”
  • “do I know the menu provider’s goals?”
  • “is this menu empowering for my original need, or are the choices actually a distraction?” (e.g. an overwhelmingly array of toothpastes)

From Tristan Harris, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology. It’s the first of ten magic tricks he pointed to that technology companies use to hijack users’ minds and emotions.

Apple CloudKit uses FoundationDB Record Layer

Together, the Record Layer and FoundationDB form the backbone of Apple’s CloudKit. We wrote a paper describing how we built the Record Layer to run at massive scale and how CloudKit uses it. Today, you can read the preprint to learn more.

From an anonymous FoundationDB blog post introducing relational database capabilities built atop FoundationDB’s key-value store. The paper about CloudKit (PDF) is also worth a read. CloudKit is Apple’s free at any legitimate scale back-end as a service for all iOS and MacOS apps.

You can identify a dog on the internet, but will you bother to?

You can construct any [effing] narrative by scouring the internet for people claiming something. It doesn’t make it relevant. It doesn’t make it true.

From Agri Ismaïl’s media criticism (start here). This isn’t an issue of not knowing the dogs on the internet, it’s a matter of not caring who’s a dog in the interest of either clicks or political interest.