An aggregation of our Blog Roll, made up of acmqueue authors.   more

Postings for March 2017:  (29 posts)
Thu, 23 Mar 2017 03:57:00 UTC

Forging a Wolf Tooth Spear

Posted By Niels Provos

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 00:39:44 UTC

New backup disk

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yvonne back from shopping with a new photo backup disk. The 4 TB disk, one of two that I bought a little over 3 years ago, is already nearly full. So once again we bought an 8 TB disk. Last June we bought the first one, for $348. Now the same model is old, and they're selling it at Officeworks for $329. How do I format it? That (amongst other things) is what this diary is for. And since I've been there before, started of tarring and extracting the entire /Photos file system to it. Last time it took 3½ days, but since then there's more data.

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 19:00:00 UTC

Garage Color Fix

Posted By Tim Bray

I was out the other day shooting signs of spring; there was this garage, and it was pretty too. Color partly by some paint company, augmented by quite a few years of Prairie weather. Isnt it pretty? The reason Im writing this is that its the first time in years Ive had to put significant work into color repair on a Fujifilm pic. Because the version above looks just like what I saw. But out of the camera, it looked like this: Back in my Pentax days, I got pretty slick with the Lightroom white-balance apparatus, which is itself pretty slick.

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 13:22:42 UTC

Read: Communist Party: the first chapter of Walkaway

Posted By Cory Doctorow

There’s still time to pre-order your signed first-edition hardcover of Walkaway, my novel which comes out on April 25 (US/UK), and while you’re waiting for that to ship, here’s chapter one of the novel, “Communist Party” (this is read by Wil Wheaton on the audiobook, where he is joined by such readers as Amanda Palmer... more

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 13:17:38 UTC

Heres the schedule for my 25-city US-Canada Walkaway tour!

Posted By Cory Doctorow

There’s 25 stops in all on the US/Canada tour for WALKAWAY, my next novel, an “optimistic disaster novel” that comes out on April 25 (more stops coming soon, as well as publication of my UK tour). I’ll be joined in various cities by many worthies, from Neal Stephenson (Seattle) to Ed Snowden (New York) to... more

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 22:55:43 UTC

25 years of BSD

Posted By Greg Lehey

Seen in my calendar today: Mar 19  Greg installs BSD/386 0.3.1, 1992 Twenty-five years! I suppose it's an indication of the robustness of the platform that I have changed very little in my desktop environment since then. ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 22:48:27 UTC

DxO for Chris

Posted By Greg Lehey

Now that Chris Bahlo has her new Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II, she can do with software for it. Yes, she has Photoshop, but geometry correction in Adobe Camera Raw is a little haphazard, and coincidentally DxO Optics Pro version 9 is available for free (current version is 11). A good thing about DxO is that you can get up-to-date correction modules for older versions too. So I went looking, and discovered that the offer had expired at the end of last month. So what does it do if I apply for an activation key now? It works. Chris was coming over here anyway, so she brought her (Microsoft) laptop, and we downloaded both Windows and Apple versions before they changed their minds, and confirmed that she could activate the former.

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 19:00:00 UTC

Prairie Spring

Posted By Tim Bray

Most places know four seasons, but for the most intense experience of spring you really come Up North. Im in Saskatchewan visiting my Mom, went for a short walk in the park behind her house, and came back with pictures of the experience. Most obviously, the snow is retreating. With the melting and freezing of early spring, some of the snow is now crumbly puddled ice, which is melting in the cold March sun, and faster given an excuse. An excuse for a little Physics Moment with my ten-year-old: Hey girl, why did the ice melt over the leaf? But that ice is being attacked from below as above; see the blades of grass straining away?

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 01:59:47 UTC

Olympus configuration save files

Posted By Greg Lehey

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II has a useful new feature: it can save the camera configuration, and does so when upgrading firmware. Time to investigate in more detail. The first thing to note is that it only works for the E-M1 Mark II: if I try with the E-M1 Mark I, I get this information: Isn't that helpful? No, it's singularly useless. What is the Olympus homepage?

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 01:21:53 UTC

USB 3.0 for all

Posted By Greg Lehey

The second-last of the accessories for my new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II arrived today: a USB 3.0 hub. Not quite the way I expected (images courtesy of seller): What I had ordered looks like this: Missing three ports! That can be sorted out, of course, but in the meantime I can play with it. But where are the USB 3.0 ports on the motherboard? The connectors are usually blue, but not in this case.

Fri, 17 Mar 2017 00:38:53 UTC

Focus merging: finally!

Posted By Greg Lehey

Yesterday I took two photos of the cats in the garage, each with one cat in focus: How do I get them both in focus? Clearly a task for FOCUS Projects. Tried that and, surprise, surprise (really), it worked! Well, mainly: once again I find that it had changed the gradation, and Piccola's face is somewhat dark: Still, an indication that the stuff isn't completely useless.

Thu, 16 Mar 2017 12:28:11 UTC

Fair trade ebooks: how authors could double their royalties without costing their publishers a cent

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest Publishers Weekly column announces the launch-date for my long-planned “Shut Up and Take My Money” ebook platform, which allows traditionally published authors to serve as retailers for their publishers, selling their ebooks direct to their fans and pocketing the 30% that Amazon would usually take, as well as the 25% the publisher gives... more

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 17:29:15 UTC

Preorder my novel Walkaway and get a pocket multitool

Posted By Cory Doctorow

Tor has produced a multitool to commemorate my forthcoming novel Walkaway, and if you pre-order the book, they’ll send you one! Protip: pre-order from Barnes and Noble and you’ll get a signed copy! The book has received some humblingly great early notices: Edward Snowden: Is Doctorow’s fictional Utopia bravely idealistic or bitterly ironic? The answer... more

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 17:00:00 UTC

Amazon Makes it Free for Developers to Build and Host Most Alexa Skills Using AWS

Posted By Werner Vogels

Amazon today announced a new program that will make it free for tens of thousands of Alexa developers to build and host most Alexa skills using Amazon Web Services (AWS). Many Alexa skill developers currently take advantage of the AWS Free Tier, which offers one million AWS Lambda requests and up to 750 hours of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) compute time per month at no charge. However, if developers exceed the AWS Free Tier limits, they may incur AWS usage fees each month. Now, developers with a live Alexa skill can apply to receive a $100 AWS promotional credit and can earn an additional $100 per month in AWS promotional credits if they incur AWS usage charges for their skill  making it free for developers to build and host most Alexa skills.

Mon, 13 Mar 2017 17:00:00 UTC

How companies can become magnets for digital talent

Posted By Werner Vogels

This article titled "Wie Unternehmen digitale Talente anziehen" appeared in German last week in the "Tipps für Arbeitgeber" section of Wirtschaftwoche. The rise in digital business models is a huge challenge for recruiting and talent selection. The sort of skills businesses need today are in short supply. How companies can prepare themselves to attract the best talents for shaping their digital business. Digitalization offers almost endless possibilities to communicate faster, work more efficiently, and be more creative  in real-time. But groundbreaking digital business models need pioneers: creators, forward-looking thinkers and inventors who don't hesitate to leave the beaten path, embody ownership, and who understand how to translate customers' wishes into superb new products, services and solutions that evolve with speed.

Sat, 11 Mar 2017 16:00:00 UTC

Back-to-Basic Weekend Reading: The Foundations of Blockchain

Posted By Werner Vogels

More and more we see stories appearing, like this one in HBR by MIT Media Lab's Joi Ito and crew. It praises the power of blockchain as a disruptive technology, on par with how "the internet" changed everything. I am always surprised to see that these far-reaching predictions are made, without diving into the technology itself. This weekend I would like to read about some of the technologies that predate blockchain, as they are its fundamental building blocks. Blockchain technology first came on the scene in 2008, as a core component of the bitcoin cryptocurrency. Blockchain provides transactional, distributed ledger functionality that can operate without a centralized, trusted authority.

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 17:20:04 UTC

Tom speaking at BayLISA meetup, Thu, March 16, 2017

Posted By Tom Limoncelli

I'll be giving my "Stealing the Best Ideas from DevOps" talk at BayLISA next week. Location will be in Palo Alto (exact location is in flux, RSVP for updates). Hope to see you there! More info and RSVP here:

Wed, 08 Mar 2017 22:55:47 UTC

How high is that tower?

Posted By Greg Lehey

A while back Chris Bahlo sent me the URL of a rather puzzling topographic display system for radio tower coverage. You enter your location (say, 29 Stones Road Dereel), a distance (say 25 km), click on Run Enquiry, and it shows what communication towers are in the area. You can then click on Elevation Profile against one of them and get an graphic of the terrain and signal path: OK, there's land (Enfield State Forest) in the way, so this won't work. But it's not what I'm looking for.

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 21:58:57 UTC

NBN satellite performance

Posted By Greg Lehey

Call early this morning from Mark Hofmaier in Beulah, asking about National Broadband Network satellite: he had read some online document of mine and extracted a phone number. It seems that he transferred to SkyMuster" from mobile broadband, and he's very dissatisfied with the performance. How credible is this information? He's not a technical person, but if the performance difference hits him, then it's significant. Of course it's not necessarily NBN's fault: it could be his RSP (Bordernet). It's interesting enough that I'd be interested in seeing how he gets on. Left him with instructions to run Speedtest and confront the RSP with the results if they're bad (< 60% download speed, < 2 Mb/s upload, > 1 s latency).

Sat, 04 Mar 2017 20:00:00 UTC

Whiteboard Interviews

Posted By Tim Bray

The other day, I joined a semi-viral tweet chain with Ive been coding since 1979 and I still have to look up java.lang.String methods all the time. There were a bunch of programmers doing this and I thought it constituted amusing humility while also making a useful point: Remembering the details of any particular API or algorithm is irrelevant. Turns out I was part of a trend, see TheOutline: Programmers Are Confessing Their Coding Sins to Protest a Broken Job Interview Process. Except for, thats bullshit; I still do whiteboards at interviews, and I dont think the idea is broken. (Also, theyre not sins.)

Sat, 04 Mar 2017 17:00:00 UTC

Back-to-Basic Weekend Reading: Why Do Computers Stop and What Can Be Done About It?

Posted By Werner Vogels

"Everything fails, all the time." A humble computer scientist once said. With all the resources we have today, it is easier for us to achieve fault-tolerance than it was many decades ago when computers began playing a role in critical systems such as health care, air traffic control and financial market systems. In the early days, the thinking was to use a hardware approach to achieve fault-tolerance. It was not until the mid-nineties that software fault-tolerance became more acceptable. Tandem Computer was one of the pioneers in building these fault-tolerant, mission-critical systems. They used a shared-nothing multi-cpu approach. This is where each CPU had its own memory- and io-bus, and all were connected through a replicated shared bus, over which the independent OS instances could communication and run in lock step.

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 23:18:56 UTC

Snapchat: anathema

Posted By Greg Lehey

So they've floated Snapchat, thus proving that I have no idea about social media. All my life I've been keeping records, and maintaining data integrity and uptime. And here's a company that wants to make money with data that self-destructs. What am I missing? ACM only downloads articles once. It's possible that this article has changed since being downloaded, but the only way you can find out is by looking at the original article.

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 22:06:51 UTC

More high-resolution photos

Posted By Greg Lehey

The attempts at high-resolution photos over the last few days have been less than satisfactory. But today I got results that are more than acceptable. Here a comparison with my best results from yesterday: What's the difference? The method. The first was taken with in-camera high resolution mode. The second (all 300 MP of it at full size) was stitched from about 35 images taken at normal resolution with the Zuiko Digital ED 35-100mm f/2.0 set to 100 mm focal length.

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 13:39:32 UTC

Fill Your Boots: my column on how technology could let us work like artisans and live like kings

Posted By Cory Doctorow

My latest Locus column is “Fill Your Boots,” in which I talk about how scientists, sf writers, economists and environmental activists have wrestled with the question of abundance — how the “green left” transformed left wing politics from the promise of every peasant living like a lord to the promise of every lord living like... more

Thu, 02 Mar 2017 23:15:17 UTC

More high resolution investigations

Posted By Greg Lehey

More investigation of high-resolution mode again today, still without any conclusion. The Ashampoo error message is one indication of the problem: there are no 80 MP sensors out there, at least not for normal sized cameras. It seems that the largest sensor on a full-frame camera is the Canon EOS 5DS, with 50 MP. But that review doesn't mention dirty things like real-world image resolution and sharpnessafter all, that depends more on the lens than on the sensor. So I looked at the DxO test results for four-thirds. The sharpest lens on the E-M1 Mark II was the Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm F1.2 ASPH Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH withwait for it16 MP!

Thu, 02 Mar 2017 14:45:24 UTC

Reply All covers DRM and the W3C

Posted By Cory Doctorow

In the latest episode of Reply All, a fantastic tech podcast, the hosts and producers discuss the situation with DRM, the future of the web, and the W3C — a piece I’ve been working on them with for a year now. The issue is a complicated and eye-glazingly technical one, and they do a genuinely... more

Thu, 02 Mar 2017 01:12:38 UTC

PayPal timeout

Posted By Greg Lehey

My message to PayPal on Monday promised a response within 24 hours. After about 60 hours, I still have no answer, and I'm no longer expecting one. The money was deducted from my credit card account on Monday, though I don't know whether that was a result of my message or not. But once again it shows an amazing amount of incompetence. ACM only downloads articles once.

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 22:19:37 UTC

E-M1 Mark II high resolution mode

Posted By Greg Lehey

I took a few photos with the high resolution mode of my new Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II a couple of days ago, but then discovered that, although the camera was set to store only raw images, it stored only JPEG images. To get it to store raw images (as well), I needed to tell it all over again. And there seems to be no way to prevent it from storing JPEGs as well. To quote the instructions (page 49, at the top): Choose from JPEG (50M F or 25M F) and JPEG+RAW modes.

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 13:09:12 UTC

Coming to DC on March 6: a panel on right to repair, DRM, and property rights in the digital age

Posted By Cory Doctorow

On Monday, March 6 at 10AM, I’ll be participating in a non-partisan R-Street event on “Property Rights in the Digital Age,” with participants from the Heritage Foundation, R-Street, the Open Technology Institute, and Freedomworks: “As we enter an age near total connectivity, we must ask ourselves, are our laws keeping up with technology? Do we... more