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Lex Spoon
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The paper predicts a steady decline in the development of new software, but the opposite is happening, which suggests the model is missing some important factor. As one possibility, maybe they haven't properly accounted for the growth of new firms and business models. For example, the demand for Unix kernel developers has indeed plummeted over time, like the article predicts. However, humanity hasn't just stopped working as a result. Instead, new companies are forming, and they are writing tremendous amounts of software.

A typical megacorp will have hundreds if not thousands of software developers. Their work is mostly invisible to the outside world, because they write software to make their own business work better. Software development will only die off once company formation dies off.
Seth G. Benzell, Laurence J. Kotlikoff, Guillermo LaGarda, and Jeffrey D. Sachs write, over time, as the stock of legacy code grows, the demand for new code and, thus for high-tech workers, falls. ...
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+Daniel Egnor Indeed. I think that we can expect the development of old classes of things to asymptotically approach epsilon.

The same thing's true of other design problems. Every once in a blue moon, someone comes along and revisits the core design of things we've been doing for thousands of years, like bridges or cookware. But for the most part, the basic design of these things is pretty static.
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Despite the name "unlimited", it's not like there's an infinite amount of bandwidth available. If one person gets more bandwidth, someone else gets less; there's physically no other way it can work. Among the different ways to decide who gets how much bandwidth, I don't understand the outrage about throttling the heaviest bandwidth hogs. This is especially true if you look at it from the other way: people who are frugal with their bandwidth usage get to save up some of that bandwidth for when they really need it.
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I object to calling it unlimited if it isn't.
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Surveillance states are possible
While clamping down on private encryption is bad policy, both for the economy and for privacy, I don't think it's technically impossible to implement. Let me draw a couple of comparisons to show why. As background, here is Cory Doctorow explaining, like man...
While clamping down on private encryption is bad policy, both for the economy and for privacy, I don't think it's technically impossible to implement. Let me draw a couple of comparisons to show why. As background, here is C...
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I think selective enforcement is the strongest point, you can make the penalty very large so that even if the probability of getting caught is low the expected value is very negative.

However as a nit, I'll point out that there are very good steganographic systems that would be extremely hard to detect and prove in a court of law especially with a lot of chaff inserted. Encoding efficiency goes down but it seems like if you are sufficiently patient you can lower your probability of detection as much as you like.
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Like Paul, I don't think it's a kindness to developers to provide unreliable optimizations that change the asymptotic complexity of the code. If the developer doesn't need the speedup, then they don't, and you can just skip spending compile time on it. If the developer does need the speedup, then they are in for a world of hurt when they touch they code and the optimization stops applying.

Developers need a way to control the gross level of performance that they get. Once they have that control, it's not really an "optimization" anymore. Rather, it's a documented part of how the system works.

Paul discusses dragging tails in Haskell. GWT has a couple of examples of this kind of issue: the serialization support, and the code splitter. In both cases, GWT does two things to mitigate the issue. First, there are documented coding patterns you can use to reliably get the optimizer to do what you need. Second, there are extensive debugging tools for analyzing what the relevant optimizer did, so that programmers have something to go on if they are getting worse performance than they expected.

Regarding strictness, I don't see the strong case for making non-scrict the default. It's almost never problematic to strictly, fully evaluate an expression, in large part because it's very obvious to the programmer what's going on. For those cases where non-strict would help, let the programmer mark things explicitly as lazy. Be prepared for performance to be very mysterious around that code, though.
Paul Chiusano. Functional programming, UX, tech, econ. Twitter • GitHub • LinkedIn • RSS. Consulting services. I offer Scala and FP consulting services. If you're interested in working together, please contact me. About my book. My book, Functional Programming in Scala, uses Scala as a vehicle ...
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Lex Spoon's profile photoPaul Brauner's profile photoBrian Slesinsky's profile photo
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I think this is why we have different languages. I'm probably never going to be fully comfortable writing code in Haskell for a variety of reasons. Go's explicit and concrete approach makes more sense to me. But many good things have come out of the Haskell community, including influences on other languages.
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For sure, cable is mainly useful these days for sports and HBO. I'm glad for this; it's much more logical to buy Internet access and then to subscribe to content services delivered over the Internet.
 
Time for another long cord-cutting post!

It looks like there are some speed bumps on the way to HBO finally getting a streaming service all us poor, unwashed, cable-less masses can use (http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/12/hbo-cto-resigns-as-platform-for-standalone-streaming-service-scrapped/).

In a nutshell, it appears that HBO Go was kind of a mess, and they were building something to replace it. There was a team in Seattle managing both of these projects, run by an ex-Microsoft manager. Said manager was apparently both screwing up the new project, and playing ugly corporate politics with HBO Go to grow the Seattle office further. Once the whole thing finally fell apart, he "resigned" and HBO contracted with Major League Baseball to run the service for them.

MLB, wut?! Well, it turns out that they've gotten quite good at handling large-scale streaming services, and are also handling all of ESPN's streaming video, along with many other (not all sports-related) services. So good on 'em for building good technology for their own services and realizing they can sell it on to others.

At the same time, here's a bit of confirmation of the kind of legal tightrope HBO has to walk in order to actually offer a streaming service (http://arstechnica.com/business/2014/12/directtv-contract-punishes-hbo-if-streaming-only-gets-too-popular-sources-say/). This is unsurprising, but interesting to see it confirmed.

Here's how I suspect this plays out in the long run:

- Companies like HBO become effectively studios for long-form serialized video. HBO itself tried and failed to become a technology company. That ship will have sailed for others eventually.

- MLB (and possibly others in the same boat) will spin off their technology divisions, so that the HBOs of the world can run them as white-label streaming services. These will sit alongside the Google/Apple/Amazons as different ways of getting streams.

- The Comcasts of the world will either morph into very effective bit-stream providers, or wither away.

- Nothing good awaits DirectTV, as their technology is no good for bidirectional Internet connections.

- The big networks either become studios alongside HBO et al, or wither away as well. This will take a long time, but it will happen.

What I'm not clear on is at what point, if any, the HBOs give up requiring a studio-specific subscription to get access to recent episodes. This is probably much more lucrative than just selling them on Amazon, but you can only maintain it as long as you provide so much good material that people are willing to accept paying a flat fee.

For the rest of us, the future looks something like this: You pay for an Internet connection. You get the video you watch from a combination of a la carte purchases, and a few subscriptions. You'll have subscriptions either for price optimization (e.g., Amazon Prime) or access (e.g., HBO, ESPN).

I believe the floodgates will open sooner than many expect. Once HBO falls, sports streaming is the last big holdout. Once that falls, a lot of people are going to reevaluate their cable bills. This is a Good Thing™.

[h/t +Jaime Yap]
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I like the idea of all these google interstitials, but they always come up at the worst possible time. If I open calendar, it's because I need to do something Right Now. I never like, open a calendar and lazily browse around. So, I don't think I've read a single one except to find the "got it" button.
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Lex Spoon

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Interesting comments about choice of code review tools. GitHub is both revolutionary for the open source world, and yet aggravatingly limited.
 
For those wondering why we settled on Gerrit rather than GitHub when migrating to Git from Subversion.
I'd add side-by-side diffs (split diffs) which have only been introduced last September.

https://talks.golang.org/2015/state-of-go.slide#7
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Obvious ideas in today's business world, but interestingly difficult to implement if you have to go through school boards and teachers' unions.

Imagine what it would take to get from where we are to teachers having "reliable feedback on their classroom performance". Or how about this quiet little comment: "These methods involved a lot of change at the schools involved, including changing a number of principals and teachers."
Roland Fryer offers an insightful and charming essay about his journey to becoming a K-12 school reformer in "21st Century Inequality: The Declining Significance of Discrimination," appearing in the Fall 2014 issue of  Issues...
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I would prefer if my web browser didn't display political ads when it starts up. Does anyone know if Chromium is better about that than Chrome?
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Nice idea, +Thomas Broyer. I'm sure there are some great start page extensions floating around.
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Terrible, but less so than Schneier implies. According to the linked article, Cameron's ban is not against encryption in general. He just wants your encryption keys to get automatically registered with law enforcement.

It's still bad. On a day to day basis, such a law will mainly affect innocent people, not criminals. On a day to day basis, it means that perfectly innocent people will get a knock on their door by a person in uniform. That person will want to have a discussion with you about your use of illegal encryption protocols. Many of the people being visited will be teenagers, much like with the crackdowns on file sharing.

If that sounds too abstract, let me draw an analogy. Banning private encryption is like banning people from whispering together in an a room by themselves. Would any of us accept a law that all conversations must happen near a government-controlled microphone?

I think not. Most would expect that the microphones would get used for all manner of purposes, including by people outside the government. Most people would oppose the continuous building inspections that would be required to make sure all the microphones are in working order. On net, it would be a huge amount of work, and the main impact would be to make life worse for the innocent.
David Cameron's Plan to Ban Encryption in the UK. In the wake of the Paris terrorist shootings, David Cameron has said that he wants to ban encryption in the UK. Here's the quote: "If I am prime minister I will make sure that it is a comprehensive piece of legislation that does not allow ...
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"He just wants your encryption keys to get automatically registered with law enforcement."  That's just not practical.  It also outlaws (Perfect) Forward Secrecy - it says transient keys would need to be archived by law enforcement.  Also, if I, an American citizen use a VPN provided by an Irish company to access a Turkish website, while sitting in an English pub...  which law enforcement agencies would I be required to send my VPN and TLS keys to?  And is the server required to send the transient keys, or is the client?
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More broadly, web search just seems too new to me to be trying to regularize into a utility. It's already different than ten years ago, and it was different ten years before that, too.

Sometimes the world just changes.
 
Why Europe's right-to-be-forgotten censorship is so dangerous

The right to be forgotten -- the right to free oneself from being stigmatized for events that happened in the past -- sounds like a great idea.

Unfortunately, the way the EU is building the concept into law is the single greatest threat to the Internet of this decade. In fact 2014 may go down in history as the year Europe ruined the Internet.

It's worse than you think: 

http://www.eweek.com/cloud/eus-right-to-be-forgotten-rules-amount-to-search-engine-censorship.html

#righttobeforgotten
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Lex Spoon

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There are six good game recommendations in here. Good stuff for the upcoming holidays.
Board games now offer more amazing locations and adventures in a box than the TARDIS, but many people still rank them lower on their entertainment options list than murder-suicide. Because they've been trained to hate them by the six worst board games in history.
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