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Reading List, July 2017

Cyrus Farivar, WinAMP woes: How the greatest MP3 player undid itself, in Ars Technica, 3 July 2017. [Online]: https://arstechnica.com/business/2017/07/winamp-how-greatest-mp3-player-undid-itself/A fascinating tale of WinAMP, my favourite music player in the early 2000s, and how it was run into the ground by AOL.Mike Masnick, State dept. enlists Hollywood and its friends to start a fake Twitter fight over intellectual property, in Techdirt, 5 July 2017. [Online]: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170705/10241437723/state-dept-enlists-hollywood-friends-to-start-fake-twitter-fight-over-intellectual-property.shtmlThis article is just so crazy that I find it very hard to believe. If it indeed turns out to be a fake, I may actually delete it from this list. Apparently, the State department wants to start a fake Twitter feud to advance MPAA and RIAA propaganda, and they thought that reaching out to Stanford Law School professors and students was a good idea.Well, turns out it is true. Ars …
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Reading List, June 2017

Eric Diaz, The oral history of Star Trek: TNG’s best episode: “The Inner Light”, in Nerdist, 31 May 2017. [Online]: http://nerdist.com/the-oral-history-of-star-trek-tngs-best-episode-the-inner-light/‘The Inner Light’ is probably the best Star Trek: TNG episode, and this is a very interesting history on how the episode was conceived and how it made it to its final form. I did not know that we could have had a sequel to this episode. I must say that it was strange that ‘The Inner Light’ was never referenced again except for one small passing reference.Robert Graham, How The Intercept outed Reality Winner, in Errata Security, 5 June 2017. [Online]: https://blog.erratasec.com/2017/06/how-intercept-outed-reality-winner.htmlAll printers insert invisible dots in files that are printed that can identify the model and serial number of the printer as well as the time a document was printed. Just putting this out there, governments mandate printer companies to insert code that tracks the documen…

An Introduction to CTest

I've seen a lot of people (I'm looking at you Daniel Lemire) praise newer languages like Go, which makes me sad as a C++ programmer. Well, that's until I realise that most of the features touted could be easily incorporated in C++ with just a bit of elbow grease. In this post, I'll show how to add an automated testing system using CTest.

An introduction to Vim macros

Vim is my favourite text editor, because it is minimalist while also being insanely configurable. While I may describe my ideal Vim setup sometime in the future, I do want to share some tips and tricks that make Vim so damn efficient for certain tasks. Today, I shall focus on macros.Here’s the key idea to keep in mind when discussing about Vim. Vim is not just an editor, it is a text manipulation program. Inserting text is just one of the many tasks that Vim can accomplish. A macro is a small Vim program that the user can record in order to make text editing more efficient.Consider a simple use case. Let’s say that I have a CSV file that looks like thisNew York,NY,USA Seattle,WA,USA Mumbai,MH,India Let’s say that I want to add another column at the beginning of each line that is sequentially numbered, like so1,New York,NY,USA 2,Seattle,WA,USA 3,Mumbai,MH,India I could go down each line and manually add each column, but there’s a better way. The solution is to program a Vim macro that …

Reading List, May 2017

Sam Machkovech, Facebook helped advertisers target teens who feel ‘worthless’, in Ars Technica, 30 April 2017. [Online]: https://arstechnica.com/business/2017/05/facebook-helped-advertisers-target-teens-who-feel-worthless/No surprises here, a quick discriminative filter could show who was depressed vs not, perhaps using something as simple as Naïve Bayes would probably work.Then I read that Facebook sells this data to advertisers instead of getting depressed teens some help. Eff you Facebook!Just last month, I wrote ‘STOP USING FACEBOOK SERVICES’. That advice still holds.Matt Inman, You’re not going to believe what I’m about to tell you, in The Oatmeal, 2 May 2017. [Online]: http://theoatmeal.com/comics/believeAn interesting read about the backfire effect.Mike Masnick, Don’t get fooled: The plan is to kill net neutrality while pretending that it’s being saved, in Techdirt, 3 May 2017. [Online]: https://www.techdirt.com/blog/netneutrality/articles/20170502/17212137292/dont-get-fooled-p…

Reading List, April 2017

Adam Carroll, When money isn’t real: The $10,000 experiment, in TEDxLondonBusinessSchool, 9 July 2015. [Online]: https://youtu.be/_VB39Jo8mAQAdam Carroll presents an interesting point – we have abstracted away money through the use of a number of instruments, such as credit and debit cards, NFC payment systems on our phones, and in-app purchases, when we don’t realise how much we are actually spending. Carroll spends some time showing how his kids, aged 7–11 played monopoly differently when they were playing with real money. He goes on to lay his premise, that financial literacy must be taught to children at a young age, when they should be allowed to fail and learn from their failures at a small scale, not at the hundreds of thousands of dollars when they are in student loan debt and just out of college.Carroll’s talk hit a lot of notes with my own experiences with money, and I’m sure that it would resonate with your experiences as well.Brett Scott, If plastic replaces cash, much tha…

Reading List, March 2017

Richard Baguley, Origin of wireless security: The Marconi radio hack of 1903, in HackADay, 2 March 2017. [Online]: https://hackaday.com/2017/03/02/great-hacks-of-history-the-marconi-radio-hack-1903/This is an interesting read that shows how the first “secure” radio transmission was hacked by a prankster. A fascinating story, but a relatively simple hack by today’s standard – a small transmitter very close to the receiver can hide the legitimate signal from a transmitter further away. The article does not touch upon how this is still an open challenge today, as most radio systems we use do not use any form of security. For instance, GPS signals can be spoofed using a pocket transmitter to perhaps move an aircraft off trajectory. ADS-B transmissions from aircraft are not encrypted, so one could easily use a transmitter to spoof actual air traffic control. Also see this DefCon20 talk for an interesting video on hacking ADS-B.Bruce Schneier, Uber uses ubiquitous surveillance to identify a…