Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Quick links

What caught my attention lately:
  • Colorful description of Google's servers in 1999: "A thin layer of cork to protect the motherboards from the cookie trays on which they were mounted ... Rack switches were bungee corded to the water pipes above the cage to prevent them from toppling off the tops of the racks." ([1])

  • A critical part of the 1971 break-in that exposed the FBI spied on civil rights groups: "One of them wrote a note and tacked it to the door they wanted to enter: 'Please don't lock this door tonight'" ([1])

  • "We have no evidence that any of this [NSA] surveillance makes us safer ... Bulk collection of data and metadata is an ineffective counterterrorism tool .... And ... it's extremely freaky that Congress has such a difficult time getting information out of the NSA." ([1] [2] [3])

  • "Chromebooks have come from nowhere to grab ... 19% of the K-12 market for mobile computers in the U.S. in 2013 ... In 2012, Chromebooks represented less than 1% of the market" ([1] [2])

  • Amazon (and online in general) is killing off physical stores rapidly: "Borders has closed ... All major music retailers are out of business ... recently announced that it would close its remaining 300 company-owned Blockbuster stores ... Circuit City has closed ... all of the computer superstores are long gone ... Staples ... has closed 107 stores in the past year ... Sales at Sears have declined for 27 straight quarters" ([1] [2])

  • The T-mobile CEO says, "This industry blows. It's just broken ... total horseshit ... a pile of spectrum waiting to be turned into a capability." ([1])

  • "Less than two years after acquiring it, Google is ditching Motorola" ([1] [2] [3] [4])

  • Microsoft in a nutshell: "Basically, consumer PC sales are tanking, but sales to enterprises are strong." ([1] [2] [3])

  • Someone should do something about this: "Sales of banner and video ads slipped 6% in the fourth quarter and search ad sales fell 4%. Yahoo was once the Web's advertising leader, but over the past several years has fallen behind rivals Google and Facebook ... Many are wondering if Yahoo has what it takes to compete in the online ad space with companies like Google and Facebook" ([1] [2])

  • "Open [plan] offices ... were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction" ([1] [2])

  • Target's credit cards were stolen through its website. Amazon used to run Target's website for them, but Target dropped Amazon in 2011 and outsourced to others, probably because Target execs thought it would be cheaper. ([1] [2] [3] [4])

  • “Patents [trolls] are unproductive, undead, unholy, and intent on sucking economic and entrepreneurial lifeblood” ([1] [2])

  • The studios have been fighting for DRM for 35+ years and been awful at every step: "In 1976 ... the studios ... said that home taping was illegal. They hoped to force ... a royalty for each device and cassette sold or to withdraw [the devices] from the market" ([1])

  • TouchDevelop from Microsoft Research is impressive, similar to Scratch, teaches kids to code ([1] [2])

  • A funny and accurate summary of what research labs look like in industry ([1])

  • Seems that viruses have won the selfish gene war: "Viruses are by far the most abundant biological entities in the oceans, comprising approximately 94% of the nucleic-acid-containing particles" ([1] [2])

  • Connectivity in a network determines whether you get a system where people benefit from their position or their talent ([1] [2])

  • Amazing SIGGRAPH video using evolutionary optimization to discover muscle placement and controllers for 3D models ([1] [2])

  • For we old geeks, a Mac Plus emulated in the browser, amazing ([1] [2] [3])

  • The CEOs of Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Netflix, and Yahoo all have Computer Science degrees ([1] [2] [3] [4] [5])

  • "Software developer rose from No. 7 in 2013 to this year's most attractive profession" ([1] [2])