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Reading List, September 2017

Joel Kotkin, Trump damaged democracy, Silicon Valley will finish it off, in The Daily Beast, 27 August 2017. [Online]: http://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-damaged-democracy-silicon-valley-will-finish-it-offKotkin writes about the lack of competition in Silicon Valley, a problem that has led to a lack of technical innovation along with decreasing the economic mobility in America. While I think that it is easy to blame Silicon Valley for all the problems in the world today (hacking the election, gentrification, exploiting workers in the gig economy, & c.), I think that this falls into the American trap of thinking of the world in terms of a ‘single actor’.Kashmir Hill, Yes, Google uses its power to quash ideas it doesn’t like – I know because it happened to me, in Gizmodo, 31 August 2017. [Online]: https://gizmodo.com/yes-google-uses-its-power-to-quash-ideas-it-doesn-t-li-1798646437Something we knew already, that Big Business will crush any criticism of itself. In this case, the Big …
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Reading List, August 2017

Simon Penner, Another point of view, in Status 451, 3 August 2017. [Online]: https://status451.com/2017/08/04/another-point-of-view/This is not a post for people who have already made up their minds. If, however, you are the type who can wrestle with an alternate point of view, or even acknowledge that privilege is not necessarily universal and is fluid within social and political contexts, do read this post about the challenges faced by a Canadian Midwesterner in Politically Correct Liberal California Bay Area.The reality is that software engineering jobs are not magical privileges, not lifetime keys to the lands of luxury and riches. They are hard, important work taking smart, skilled, and highly practiced people a lifetime to master. Most people here will have struggles, because hard things make you struggle. Focusing on a very small subset of those struggles is a very curious definition of “fairness”. Respectfully: Check your goddamn privilege.Alex Mayyasi, The invention of Pad Th…

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 …

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…