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Monday
Jan302017

Part 1 of Thinking Serverless — How New Approaches Address Modern Data Processing Needs 

This is a guest repost by Ken Fromm, a 3x tech co-founder — Vivid Studios, Loomia, and Iron.io.

First I should mention that of course there are servers involved. I’m just using the term that popularly describes an approach and a set of technologies that abstracts job processing and scheduling from having to manage servers. In a post written for ReadWrite back in 2012 on the future of software and applications, I described “serverless” as the following.

The phrase “serverless” doesn’t mean servers are no longer involved. It simply means that developers no longer have to think that much about them. Computing resources get used as services without having to manage around physical capacities or limits. Service providers increasingly take on the responsibility of managing servers, data stores and other infrastructure resources…Going serverless lets developers shift their focus from the server level to the task level. Serverless solutions let developers focus on what their application or system needs to do by taking away the complexity of the backend infrastructure.

At the time of that post, the term “serverless” was not all that well received, as evidenced by the comments on Hacker News. With the introduction of a number of serverless platforms and a significant groundswell on the wisdom of using microservices and event-driven architectures, that backlash has fortunately subsided.

A Sample Use Case

Since it is useful to have an example in mind as I discuss issues and concerns in developing a serverless app, I will use the example of a serverless pipeline for processing email and detecting spam. It is event-driven in that when an email comes in, it will spawn a series of jobs or functions intended to operate specifically on that email.

In this pipeline, you may have tasks that perform parsing of text, images, links, mail attributes, and other items or embedded objects in the email. Each item or element might have different processing requirements which in turn would entail one or more separate tasks as well as even its own processing pipeline or sequence. An image link, for example, might be analyzed across several different processing vectors to determine the content and veracity of the image. Depending on the message scoring and results — spam or not — various courses of actions will then be taken, which would likely, in turn, involve other serverless functions.

Thinking at the Task Level

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Friday
Jan272017

Stuff The Internet Says On Scalability For January 27th, 2017

Hey, it's HighScalability time:

 

Tired of noisy drones? Use the same dedrone tech used at Davos. It's the future.

If you like this sort of Stuff then please support me on Patreon.

  • 1+ trillion: messages Twitter handles per day; 695 million: Internet users in China; >350k: Twitter Star Wars bots; $90 million: value of LasVegas.com domain name; 45%: WiFi connection failure rate; 80: threads in Slack Mac OS app; 364: slides in Adrian Cockcroft's microservices deck; 5180%: increases at Etsy in daily visits to pages related to Donald Trump; 465,000: cars sold by Costco last year; 14 Million: one day of DuckDuckGo searches; 58 million: science papers online; ~3x: use of Kubernetes in production settings; 54: r3.2xlarge instances used for Reddit caching; $14 billion: Microsoft’s Azure's annual run rate; 

  • Quotable Quotes:
    • Carlo Rovelli: the basic ingredient is down there in the physical world: physical correlation between distinct variables. The physical world is not a set of self-absorbed entities that do their selfish things. It is a tightly knitted net of relative information, where everybody’s state reflects somebody else’s state. 
    • Charles Stross: There’s a saying that goes something like this: “Lieutenants study tactics, colonels study strategy, generals study logistics, and field marshals study economics.” But economists—the smart ones—study education.
    • Kirk Pepperdine: I would suggest that with 200 JVMs running on 80 core you should consider using the serial collector.
    • @alicegoldfuss: Things containers improve: - testing - deploying Things containers shit on: - security - troubleshooting - managing systems resources  Note: this is a long thread of comments, enjoy!
    • @pewinternet: In 2005, just 5% of Americans used at least one social media platform. Today, 69% do. 
    • Manu Saadia: He [Peter Thiel] was a bigger fan of “Star Wars” or “Star Trek,” Thiel replied that, as a capitalist, he preferred the former. “ ‘Star Trek’ is the communist one,” he said. “The whole plot of ‘Star Wars’ starts with Han Solo having this debt that he owes, and so the plot in ‘Star Wars’ is driven by money.
    • @asymco: Google's costs-per-click — essentially its pricing — fell 16% y/y
    • Anna MacLachlan: In order to follow best practices for performance when building PWAs [progressive web app] and otherwise, the Chrome team goes by the Rail performance model: Respond: 100ms / Animate: < 8ms / Idle work in 50ms chunks / Load: 1,000ms to interactive
    • Deepak Singh (AWS): There is a certain scale where specialized hardware and infrastructure make a lot of sense and for those who need special infrastructure, we think FPGAs are one clear way to go
    • @MarcWilczek: Containerization: 19% using it, 15% testing it, 13% considering it; 15% are curious, 38% have no plans or clue. #Cloud #CIO @interop #Docker
    • Clarke Illmatical: The death of net neutrality will severely impact IoT solutions which rely on an open internet concept.
    • @mipearson: OH "I'm the Technical Debt Fairy. If you leave technical debt under your pillowcase at night I hire away your best developers"
    • Reddit:  When you vote, your vote isn’t instantly processed—instead, it’s placed into a queue. Depending on the backlog of the queue, this can mean if you were to vote and quickly refresh the page, your vote may not have been processed yet, and it would appear that your vote had been reverted. 
    • Martin Kleppmann: in a 8,000-node cluster, the chance of permanently losing all three replicas of some piece of data (within the same time period) is about 0.2%. Yes, you read that correctly: the risk of losing all three copies of some data is twice as great as the risk of losing a single node!
    • Tammy Everts: Always remember that if you’re competing online, you’re competing with Amazon.
    • Marco Arment: I'm no spending more on [Apple] search ads than I am servers.
    • dijit: the big issue with databases I've worked with is not how many inserts you do per second, even spinning rust, if properly reasoned can do -serious- inserts per second in append only data structures like myisam, redis even lucene. However the issue comes when you want to read that data or, more horribly, update that data. Updates, by definition are a read and a write to commuted data, this can cause fragmentation and other huge headaches. I'd love to see someone do updates 1,000,000/s
    • @m0biusloop: things kubernetes can't do: ipv6, multiple host networks, prefix based policy, egress policy.
    • Dr Zhou: What is really surprising is our questioning on the whole effort of bot detection in the past years. Suddenly we feel vulnerable and don't know much: how many more are there? What do they want to do?
    • Marianne Bellotti: 15 years ago, everybody was telling us ‘Get off the mainframe, get on AT&T applications, build these thick clients. Mainframes are out.’ And now thick clients are out, and everybody’s moving to APIs and microservices, which basically are very similar to the thin client that a terminal uses to interact with a mainframe.
    • @garybernhardt: Consulting service: you bring your big data problems to me, I say "your data set fits in RAM", you pay me $10,000 for saving you $500,000.
    • @jennschenker: #DLD17: BMW says it will evolve from being a car maker to a mobility services company.
    • Nick Craver (StackOverflow): We try to be boring. Boring is stable ...scalable. The simpler something is, the higher it scales...We are not against anything. We have loyalty to nothing. If there's a better option that comes along, move to it!
    • Romesberg: evolution works by starting with something close, and then changing what it can do in small steps
    • bitwiseand: The CAP theorem states that in the event of a network-partition you have to choose one of C or A. More intuitively, any delay between nodes can be modeled as a temporary network partition and in that event you have but two choices either wait to return the latest data at a peer node (C) or return the last available data at a peer node (A).
    • Gvaireth: We just had a discussion in the team, and we decided, that we need add-one microservice that would get a number and return the number increased by one. A nice separation of concerns in modern distributed web application :)
    • Russ Cox: When I first started thinking about generics for Go in 2008, the main examples to learn from were C#, Java, Haskell, and ML. None of the approaches in those languages seemed like a perfect fit for Go. Today, there are newer attempts to learn from as well, including Dart, Midori, Rust, and Swift.
    • RaptorXP: Do your virtual reality wearables usually connect to deep learning drones on the blockchain?
    • Twitter: Hadoop: We have multiple clusters storing over 500 PB divided in four groups (real time, processing, data warehouse and cold storage). Our biggest cluster is over 10k nodes. We run 150k applications and launch 130M containers per day.
    • arnon: GPUs tend to lend themselves well to analytics, contrary to transactions. Specifically, columnar databases. When the columns are all of the same data type, and the data locality is high, GPUs perform /very/ well.
    • Ed Sim: Despite the amazing productivity gains from open source, AWS, microservices and other new technologies, we have seen the time to launch extending and the cost of getting a minimally viable product (MVP) out the door increasing.
    • Daniel Miessler: It’s [AMP] poisonous to the underlying concept of an open internet. If this were to become widely adopted, you’d search for something, get results, consume the content, and you’d never leave Google.

  • Great detailed discussion on all things serverless. AWS Podcast #171: Serverless Special. Serverless is an implementation detail, not an architectural pattern. If you look at serverless as just a way to run existing code then it’s an implementation detail.  If you take it as an opportunity to think about how your application could be structured then it tends more towards the architectural pattern/microservices conversation; Serverless as a concept is a spectrum not binary. Serverless is an important concept but the boundaries are not clear...

  • Information wants to be free. Sci-Hub the first pirate website in the world to provide mass and public access to tens of millions of research papers.

Don't miss all that the Internet has to say on Scalability, click below and become eventually consistent with all scalability knowledge (which means this post has many more items to read so please keep on reading)...

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Monday
Jan232017

Master-Master Replication and Scaling of an Application between Each of the IoT Devices and the Cloud

In this article, I want to share with you how I solved a very interesting problem of synchronizing data between IoT devices and a cloud application.

I’ll start by outlining the general idea and the goals of my project. Then I’ll describe my implementation in greater detail. This is going to be a more technically advanced part, where I’ll be talking about the Contiki OS, databases, protocols and the like. In the end, I’ll summarize the technologies I used to implement the whole system.

Project overview

So, let’s talk about the general idea first.

Here’s a scheme illustrating the final state of the whole system:

I have a user who can connect to IoT devices via a cloud service or directly (that is over Wi-Fi).

Also, I have an application server somewhere in the cloud and the cloud itself somewhere on the Internet. This cloud can be anything — for example, an AWS or Azure instance or it could be a dedicated server, it could be anything :)

The application server is connected to IoT devices over some protocol. I need this connection to exchange data between the application server and the IoT devices.

The IoT devices are connected to each other in some way (say, over Ethernet or Wi-Fi).

Also, I have more IoT devices generating some telemetry data, like light or temperature readings. There can be more than 100 and even over 1,000 devices.

Basically, my goal was to make it possible to exchange data between the cloud and these IoT devices.

Before I proceed, let me outline some requirements for my system:

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Friday
Jan202017

Stuff The Internet Says On Scalability For January 20th, 2017

Hey, it's HighScalability time:

 

Absolutely. Do we agree that the cerebellum is amazingly beautiful? (@PeppeGanga)

If you like this sort of Stuff then please support me on Patreon.

  • 900 GB: data stolen in Cellebrite hack; 99.24%: users identified by cross-browser fingerprinting; 72%: intend to migrate to a hybrid cloud; 90%: Google & Facebook ad traffic is useless; 5.2 terabytes per second: data from Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder; 10 billion: searches on DuckDuckGo in 2016; $330m: Amazon's loss on Alexa; 

  • Quotable Quotes:
    • @brucel: Breaking: Programmer accused of writing unreadable code refuses to comment.
    • @asymco: Remember Android first? App Annie believes the Apple’s App Store produced about twice as much revenue as Google Play
    • @bridgetkromhout: Describing your old-timer ranting as "greybeard" just makes me want to fight you with sed & awk at twenty paces. Be there tomorrow at dawn.
    • @StevenShorrock: Root Cause Analysis is: * Acceptable for simple systems * Inappropriate for complicated systems * Ludicrous for complex systems
    • @swardley: Five years ago Amazon was worth about half of Walmart, today Walmart is worth about half of Amazon.
    • Eric Raymond: In practice, I found Rust painful to the point of unusability. The learning curve was far worse than I expected; it took me those four days of struggling with inadequate documentation to write 67 lines of wrapper code for the server.
    • @swardley: past history shows many major players won't announce they're getting into the battle until some time after war has ended
    • @benthompson: Apple wasn't billed as phone maker / Amazon wasn't billed as infrastructure provider / FB wasn't billed as portal / Snapchat wasn't billed as TV
    • Jessitron: the biggest consideration in choosing whether to use libraries or services for distribution of effort / modularization is that choice of who decides when it deploys. Who controls which code is in production at a given time.
    • Hi Ben: The disruption of TV will follow a similar path: a different category will provide better live sports, better story-telling, or better escapism. Said category will steal attention, and when TV no longer commands enough attention of enough people, the entire edifice will collapse. Suddenly.
    • @leonidasfromxiv: I also don't understand why people compare Go with Rust. If you need a GC-less programming language: Rust; if you need a board game: Go.
    • Carlo Rovelli: The world isn’t just a mass of colliding atoms; it is also a web of correlations between sets of atoms, a network of reciprocal physical information between physical systems.
    • Chris Dixon: In the beginning, hardware-focused companies make gadgets with ever increasing laundry lists of features. Then a company with strong software expertise (often a new market entrant) comes along that replaces these feature-packed gadgets with full-fledged computers. 
    • Animats: The real question is "what do we do with a lot of CPUs without shared memory?" Such hardware has been built many times - Thinking Machines, Ncube, the PS2's Cell - and has not been too useful for general purpose computing.
    • @taavet: Very unfortunate that incumbents see tech only as a way to cut costs. Versus seeing tech to offer much better products.
    • NelsonMinar: This is what security looks like when your threat model is well funded government agencies.
    • Don Norman: The solution requires a different approach to the design of automation: collaboration. Instead of automating what can be automated, leaving the rest to the driver, we must develop collaborative systems so that the driver is continually involved in giving high-level guidance, thereby always staying active, always being in the loop. 
    • Thomas Frey: It took 50 years for the world to install the first million industrial robots. The next million will take only eight. Will this cause more jobs or few jobs in the future? I'm not convinced we know the answer.
    • @jtauber: "Every shot in Piper is composed of millions of grains of sand, each one of them around 5000 polygons."
    • rackforms: my point is the current situation, basically 2 companies controlling so much traffic, seems, well, bad for small business in this country. I value what they bring to the table and fully understand why they're so popular. But is things keep on this way where does that lead the guys like me? Is this just the way it has to be? Is the dream of the open Internet already dead?
    • @sheeshee: I think I know why it's called "DevOps" - "DevOops" was too obvious... ;)
    • greenspot: The open solution to a faster mobile web would have been so easy: Just penalize large and slow web pages without defining a dedicated mobile specification. That's it. This wasn't done in the past, slow pages outperformed fast ones on the SERPs because of some weird Google voodoo ranking, heck sometimes even desktop sites outperformed responsive ones on smartphones. If they had just tweaked these odd ranking rules in way that speed and size got more impact on the overall ranking there wouldn't have been any reason for AMP—the market would have regulated itself.
    • Juergen Schmidhuber: General purpose quantum computation won’t work (my prediction of 15 years ago is still standing). Related: The universe is deterministic, and the most efficient program that computes its entire history is short and fast, which means there is little room for true randomness, which is very expensive to compute. What looks random must be pseudorandom, like the decimal expansion of Pi, which is computable by a short program. Many physicists disagree, but Einstein was right: no dice. There is no physical evidence to the contrary

  • RethinkDB is shutting down and here's the post-portem. Lessons: the database market is like Mad Max fighting in the Thunderdome; it's better to optimize for useless microbenchmarks than it is to be good; optimism isn't a strategy.

  • Apple isn't alone in using custom hardware to thwart nation state level attackers. Google Infrastructure Security Design Overview. Good overview at Google reveals its servers all contain custom security silicon. Google designs "custom chips, including a hardware security chip that is currently being deployed on both servers and peripherals. These chips allow us to securely identify and authenticate legitimate Google devices at the hardware level."  Google encrypts data before it is written to disk, to make it harder for malicious disk firmware to access data. Google uses automated and manual code review techniques. Google uses automated software and code reviews to detect bugs in software its developers write. Google scans user-installed apps, downloads, browser extensions, and content browsed from the web for suitability on corp clients. Google uses a custom version of the KVMhypervisor. Good discussion on HackerNews, where a lot of the comments are on how Google needs this level sophistication to evade the prying eyes of governments.

  • What happens when you embed machine learning into a DBMS in order to continuously optimise its runtime performance? You get Self-driving database management systems. Humans suck at tuning databases so this is just one more job AIs will eventually toss into the dust bin of history. TensorFlow was integrated inside Peleton training two RNNs on 52 million queries from one month of traffic for a popular site. Does it help?: early results are promising: (1) RNNs accurately predict the expected arrival rate of queries. (2) hardware-accelerated training has a minor impact on the DBMS’s CPU and memory resources, and (3) the system deploys actions without slowing down the application. 

Don't miss all that the Internet has to say on Scalability, click below and become eventually consistent with all scalability knowledge (which means this post has many more items to read so please keep on reading)...

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Tuesday
Jan172017

Sponsored Post: Contentful, Stream, Loupe, New York Times, Scalyr, VividCortex, MemSQL, InMemory.Net, Zohocorp

Who's Hiring?

  • Contentful is looking for a JavaScript BackEnd Engineer to join our team in their mission of getting new users - professional developers - started on our platform within the shortest time possible. We are a fun and diverse family of over 100 people from 35 nations with offices in Berlin and San Francisco, backed by top VCs (Benchmark, Trinity, Balderton, Point Nine), growing at an amazing pace. We are working on a content management developer platform that enables web and mobile developers to manage, integrate, and deliver digital content to any kind of device or service that can connect to an API. See job description.

  • The New York Times is looking for a Software Engineer for its Delivery/Site Reliability Engineering team. You will also be a part of a team responsible for building the tools that ensure that the various systems at The New York Times continue to operate in a reliable and efficient manner. Some of the tech we use: Go, Ruby, Bash, AWS, GCP, Terraform, Packer, Docker, Kubernetes, Vault, Consul, Jenkins, Drone. Please send resumes to: technicaljobs@nytimes.com

Fun and Informative Events

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  • A note for .NET developers: You know the pain of troubleshooting errors with limited time, limited information, and limited tools. Log management, exception tracking, and monitoring solutions can help, but many of them treat the .NET platform as an afterthought. You should learn about Loupe...Loupe is a .NET logging and monitoring solution made for the .NET platform from day one. It helps you find and fix problems fast by tracking performance metrics, capturing errors in your .NET software, identifying which errors are causing the greatest impact, and pinpointing root causes. Learn more and try it free today.

  • Scalyr is a lightning-fast log management and operational data platform.  It's a tool (actually, multiple tools) that your entire team will love.  Get visibility into your production issues without juggling multiple tabs and different services -- all of your logs, server metrics and alerts are in your browser and at your fingertips. .  Loved and used by teams at Codecademy, ReturnPath, Grab, and InsideSales. Learn more today or see why Scalyr is a great alternative to Splunk.

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  • VividCortex is a SaaS database monitoring product that provides the best way for organizations to improve their database performance, efficiency, and uptime. Currently supporting MySQL, PostgreSQL, Redis, MongoDB, and Amazon Aurora database types, it's a secure, cloud-hosted platform that eliminates businesses' most critical visibility gap. VividCortex uses patented algorithms to analyze and surface relevant insights, so users can proactively fix future performance problems before they impact customers.

  • MemSQL provides a distributed in-memory database for high value data. It's designed to handle extreme data ingest and store the data for real-time, streaming and historical analysis using SQL. MemSQL also cost effectively supports both application and ad-hoc queries concurrently across all data. Start a free 30 day trial here: http://www.memsql.com/

  • ManageEngine Applications Manager : Monitor physical, virtual and Cloud Applications.

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If any of these items interest you there's a full description of each sponsor below...

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Tuesday
Jan172017

Wouldn't it be nice if everyone knew a little queuing theory?

After many days of rain one lane of this two lane road collapsed into the canyon. It's been out for a month and it will be many more months before it will be fixed. Thanks to Google maps way too many drivers take this once sleepy local road. 

How do you think drivers go through this chokepoint? 

 

 

One hundred experience points to you if you answered one at a time.

One at a time! Through a half-duplex pipe following a first in first out discipline takes forever!

Yes, there is a stop sign. And people default to this mode because it appeals to our innate sense of fairness. What could be fairer than alternating one at a time?

The problem is it's stupid.

While waiting, stewing, growing angrier, I often think if people just knew a little queueing theory we could all be on our way a lot faster.

We can't make the pipe full duplex, so that's out. Let's assume there's no priority involved, vehicles are roughly the same size and take roughly the same time to transit the network. Then what do you do?

Why can't people figure out its faster to drive through in batches? If we went in groups of say, three, the throughput would be much higher. And when one side's queue depth grows larger because people are driving to or from work that side's batch size should increase. 

Since this condition will last a long time we have a possibility to learn because the same people take this road all the time. So what happens if you try to change the culture by showing people what a batch is by driving right behind someone as they take their turn?

You got it. Honking. There's a simple heuristic, a deeply held ethic against line cutting, so people honk, flip you off, and generally make heir displeasure known.

It's your classic battle of reason versus norms. The smart thing is the thing we can't do by our very natures. So we all just keep doing the dumb thing.

 

Friday
Jan132017

Stuff The Internet Says On Scalability For January 13th, 2017

Hey, it's HighScalability time:

 

So you think you're early to market! The Man Who Invented VR Goggles 50 Years Too Soon

If you like this sort of Stuff then please support me on Patreon.

  • 99.9: Percent PCs cheaper than in 1980; 300x20 miles: California megaflood; 7.5 million: articles published on Medium; 1 million: Amazon paid eBook downloads per day; 121: pages on P vs. NP; 79%: Americans use Facebook; 1,600: SpaceX satellites to fund a city on Mars; 

  • Quotable Quotes:
    • @GossiTheDog: How corporate security works: A) buy a firewall B) add a rule allowing all traffic C) the end How corporate security works:A) buy a firewall B) add a rule allowing all traffic C) the end
    • @caitie: Distributed Systems PSA: your regular reminder that the operational cost of a system should be included & considered when designing a system
    • @jimpjorps: 1998: the internet means you can "telecommute" to a tech job from anywhere on Earth 2017: everyone works in the same one square mile of SF
    • Jessi Hempel: [re: BitTorrent] Perhaps the lesson here is that sometimes technologies are not products. And they’re not companies. They’re just damn good technologies.
    • giltene: My new pet peeve: "how to make X faster: do less of X" recommendations.
    • peterwwillis: It used to be you had to actually break into a system to exfiltrate all its data. Now you just make an HTTP query.
    • Laralyn McWillams: Identify problems but focus on solutions. If you become more about problems than solutions, that negativity infects your work, your team, and how you think about your career.
    • Chris Fox: Apple is 100% a boutique retailer, meaning that a human chooses which books to promote. Without that, there was no organic discovery tool where readers could find your book.
    • vytah: In fact, the 1986 [Chernobyl] disaster happened because the engineers decided to get rid of safeguards and run tests.
    • Eric Elliott: Breaking into a user’s top 5 apps is like getting struck by lightning or winning the lottery. Don’t bank on it.
    • Peter: I say the super-intelligent aliens will be powered by hyper-computation, a technology that makes our concept of computation look like counting on your fingers; and they’ll have not only qualia, but hyper-qualia, experiential phenomenologica whose awesomeness we cannot even speak of.
    • SEJeff: LVS is pretty much the undisputed king for serious business load balancing. I've heard (anecdotally) that Uber uses gorb[1] and google has released seesaw, which are both fancy wrappers ontop of LVS for load balancing.
    • k__: I have the feeling this is haunting my life. Jobs, relationships, everything. When I got something, it didn't feel that hard to get it. When I try to get something it feels impossible.
    • Nelson Elhage: One of my favorite concepts when thinking about instrumenting a system to understand its overall performance and capacity is what I call “time utilization”. By this I mean: If you look at the behavior of a thread over some window of time, what fraction of its time is spent in each “kind” of work that it does?
    • Bart Sano (Google): I can say that we are committed to the choice of these different architectures, including X86 – and that includes AMD – as well as Power and ARM. The principle that we are investing in heavily is that competition breeds innovation, 
    • aaron-lebo: This is a larger issue with developer burnout I suspect. You master one thing and there's someone standing on the corner saying..."well, actually, I've got something better" and there's a very real anxiety in that evaluation process. Does object-oriented programming suck? Are functional languages the future? Do you really want an SPA? Should you replace your C codebase with Rust... or Go? Is Bitcoin worth getting in on? etc etc
    • StorageMojo: [re: Violin’s bankruptcy] The race is not always to the swift, nor riches to the wise. By starting with software, other companies built an early lead, and now have the money and time to optimize hardware for flash.
    • nocarrier: [Why no datacenters in India?] Cost was a smaller factor than politics; the Indian government wanted the private keys for our certs in order to let FB put a POP there. That was an absolute dealbreaker, so we served India from Singapore and other POPs in nearby countries.
    • RDX: So that original post, although long and full of real examples, was not about Javascript fatigue really. Its change fatigue. Let’s be clear, if you’re picking something new, you’re making a conscious choice to grow up with it.
    • @jamesurquhart: Amazing that emergent tech that’ll revolutionize software dev is already almost a commodity utility service. #streaming #serverless #events

  • The Ethics of Autonomous Cars. The obvious revenue model is highest bidder lives. During the first few milliseconds of a crash response a real-time bidding session is created and the lowest bidder assumes the risk. That at least captures the zeitgeist of the times.

  • First Go. Now poker. DeepStack: Expert-Level Artificial Intelligence in No-Limit Poker. Thank the force humans are still unbeatable at Sabacc. 

  • Medium may be the first YA (Young Adult, think Hunger Games) style publishing outlet. YA is often written in first-person present. It's a good way to fake authenticity. Traditional publications use third-person past tense, but that's not what works best on Medium. What I learned from analyzing the top 252 Medium stories of 2016: The words “you” and “I” were by far the most common, which suggests that addressing the reader directly as an individual person is a better writing strategy than writing in third person.

  • Ben Kehoe says AWS Step Functions is not the cheap, high-scale state machines using an event-driven paradigm he has been looking for. FaaS is stateless, and AWS Step Functions provides state as-a-Service: at $0.025 per 1,000 executions, it’s 125 times more expensive per invocation than Lambda; it’s not going to be cost-effective to replace existing roll-your-own Lambda solutions; the default throttling limit for a state machine is two executions per second...it’s not built to handle massively scaled but transient event scheduling.

  • Ransomware has shifted to being a reproducible strategy. @SteveD3Since I fist covered the MongoDB hacking on Jan 3, the number of compromised DBs has surpassed 32,000. Now possibly Elasticsearch. Anything you can find basically with Shodan. Which is why we now have @GossiTheDog: Found out today firms have started doing legal contracts which specifically rule out liability if they get hit by ransomware, naming it.

Don't miss all that the Internet has to say on Scalability, click below and become eventually consistent with all scalability knowledge (which means this post has many more items to read so please keep on reading)...

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Friday
Jan062017

Stuff The Internet Says On Scalability For January 6th, 2017

Hey, it's HighScalability time:

 

Hot rods in space. The Smith Cloud plummets towards our galaxy at nearly 700,000 mph. Vroom!

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  • 3 of top 5: Stackoverflow questions are about Git; 3,000: four-passenger cars could serve 98 percent of NYC taxi demand; 44%: US population lives within 20 miles of Amazon fulfillment center; 72%: Amazon customers shopped using mobile device; 110%: increase in industrial control system attacks; 455: Number of scripted television series aired this year; $28.5 billion/yr: App downloads on iOS;

  • Quotable Quotes:
    • @ValaAfshar: Number of robots working in Amazon warehouses: 2016: 45,000 / 2015: 30,000 2014: 15,000 / 2013: 1,000 — @JonErlichman
    • @jason_kint: updated duopoly #s. new IAB data came out yesterday. easy to run vs earnings for goog and fb, it's evident everyone else is zero sum game. 
    • rb2k_: I also haven't seen one [company in Germany] that isn't riddled with MBA grads that mainly push Jira tickets around.
    • Joe McCann: The best software developers I know are always hacking over the holidays. True story.
    • @kaffeecoder: Sigh. Async vs blocking protocol is irrelevant. What matters is communicating with other services outside your own req/response cycle.
    • Eric Jang: It's not a coincidence that Nvidia, the literal arms-dealer of deep learning, has had a good year in the stock market.
    • @markimbriaco: Just read a comment that said "Any good codebase has every part perfectly isolated". Oh, to be young and optimistic about software again.
    • @swardley: Asked "What do I think is the biggest impact AI would have?" ... hmmm, the largest erosion of social mobility in human history?
    • The Attention Merchants: It is therefore more effective for the State to intervene before options are seen to exist. This creates less friction with the State but requires a larger effort: total attention control.
    • StorageMojo: The cloud’s collateral damage to the legacy IT vendors continues to spread. A few billion here and a few billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking real money.
    • Janakiram MSV: The key takeaway is that Amazon wants enterprises to consume EC2 while it is pushing startups and developers towards Lambda. This move from Amazon will fuel the growth of serverless computing in the industry. 
    • Maxime Chevalier-Boisvert: Edsger Dijkstra famously said, “The question of whether machines can think is about as relevant as the question of whether submarines can swim.”
    • @karlseguin: Microservices without asynchronous messaging (queues) is actually a monolith with really slow and error prone method invocation.
    • AshleysBrain: We've been using WebRTC Datachannels for multiplayer gaming in the browser in our game editor Construct 2 (www.scirra.com) for a couple of years now. Generally they work great! However the main problem we have is switching tab suspends the game, which if you're acting as the host, freezes the game for everybody. This is really inconvenient. 
    • @lstoll: 2017: Year of the return of three tier architecture.
    • @tealtan: “I will never make a racial profiling database!” *continues working on social networks, analytics, ad tech*
    • @abt_programming: Inverse bus factor: "how many developers have to be hit by a bus before a project starts to proceed smoothly?” - @gasproni
    • M.G. Siegler: The numbers speak for themselves. 2 billion words written on Medium in the last year. 7.5 million posts during that time. 60 million monthly readers now. Pageviews galore. So step 2 is simply to slap some banner ads on the site, while step 3 is to profit, right?
    • snarf21: Writing software is hard but to me the hardest part is always taking a random abstract concept from someone's mind (or worse, several people) and converting that into something "real" in a fixed timeline and budget. There will have to be lots of tradeoffs and miscues by definition. We are always making something that doesn't already exist, it is creation and creation is hard.
    • @Pinboard: Who could have foreseen the always-on home microphone might be of interest to the cops?
    • @ThePracticalDev: I heard a rumor that Santa moved over to AWS this year. Big if true.
    • Drew Purves~ “intelligence” extends beyond brains; something as simple as self-replicating RNA exhibit intelligent behavior at the evolutionary scale. The natural world is fractal, cyclic, and fuzzy...in a biosphere, every organism is a resource to another organism. That is, learning and adaptation of each organism is not independent of other organisms
    • @meatcomputer: System clocks are always accurate and increase monotonically. Timestamps from remote machines are reliable
    • pjmlp: Everything on web development feels like an hack.
    • @kelseyhightower: In my opinion Serverless does not mean FaaS. I consider any platform that hides the management of servers from the user to be Serverless.
    • Amit: one of the lessons I learned from this journey was that the tutorials work best when I've needed that technology for a real project
    • @Carnage4Life: Snapchat' copied all the worst parts of Apple's culture & seen success. More copycats to come
    • ch: So all that's missing with the decentralized web is a centralized service to aggregate the decentralized streams?
    • @mathiasverraes: "Separation of intent and implementation" is probably a much more useful programming principle than all of SOLID combined.
    • doh: We moved back and forth between AWS and GCE (based on who gave us free credits). Once we ran out, we chose GCE and never regretted it. GCE has many quirks, for instance the inconsistency between API and the UI, it misses the richness of the services offered by AWS but everything GCE does offer is just faster, more stable and much more consistent.
    • Exponential Laws: We have argued that exponential growth would not have succeeded without sustained exponential growth at three levels of the computing ecosystem—chip, system, and adopting community. Growth (progress) feeds on itself up to the inflection point.

  • Measuring a gnat's eyebrow at a billion miles. Ivan Linscott tells the thrilling story behind the development of the New Horizons probe to Pluto. a16z Podcast: New Year, New Horizons — Pluto!  Completing the probe was a close thing. Finding enough plutonium to power system almost didn't happen. Enough wasn't found so the probe had a much lower power budget than originally spec'ed, which caused the communication system to use one FPGA instead of two. You have to use radiation hardened parts. The chips sit right next to a pile of plutonium pumping out gamma rays and neutrons. The FPGA's had a capacity of a million gates, were hardened by design, and had triple redundancy. Each gate in the array is implemented in threes. They are voted in pairs. If three agree then fine. If two agree that's the value used. They fit all the code with 5 gates margin. They also had a hero's journey sourcing a high precision oscillator. And then the frightening story of when the watchdog timer timedout and put the probe in safe mode. It turned out the JPEG compression algorithm took too long to compress an image of Pluto and that caused the timeout to fire. The reason is one of those crazy testing stories. When this feature was tested the picture of the sky was darker so it took less time to compress!

  • The impulse for folks at Twitter to delay Trump's tweets and insider trade on that information must be overwhelming.

  • 33C3 (Chaos Computer Congress) videos are now available. Great overview by Chris Hager. Lots of interesting talks. You might like: Dissecting modern (3G/4G) cellular modems; Edible Soft Robotics - An exploration of candy as an engineered material; Software Defined Emissions - A hacker’s review of Dieselgate; Rebel Cities - Towards A Global Network Of Neighbourhoods And Cities Rejecting Surveillance.

  • A compelling break down of the DNC phishing attack. Making everything viewable through a generic UI and everything programmable through a scriptable API has interesting consequences @pwnallthethings: Could have hacked? Sure. Did hack? No. Let me go through why not..The hackers weren't hacking one-by-one; so URL contraction wasn't done manually. It was done via the Bitly API...Why did the hackers include this info? Same reason they contracted links via API. Because they're not hacking 1-by-1. Are hacking at scale...When hackers hack at scale, they reuse infrastructure. They make mistakes. This isn't unusual. You can piece the bits together.

  • In the game of data you want to be at the top of the data gravity well. When your are down well nothing escapes without great cost. AWS Snowball

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Wednesday
Jan042017

How is Writing Lord of the Rings Like Writing Software?

 

Have you ever read a book and wondered how any human could have written something so brilliant? For me it was Lord of the Rings. I despaired that in a hundred lifetimes I could never write a book so rich, so deep, so beautiful. Since then I've learned a few things about about how LoTr was created that has made me reconsider. The kick-in-the-head is that it's the same lesson I learned long ago about writing software.

I've always been amazed how a program can start as a single source file and after years of continued effort turn into a working system that is so large no human can come close to understanding it. If you had tried from the start to build the system you ended up with you would have never ever got there. That's just not how it works. Software is path dependent.

I've experienced this growth from a single cell to a Cambrian explosion many times so I know it's a thing. What I hadn't considered is how it's also a thing for writing books too. 

Creating good software is a process of evolution through the mechanism of constant iteration for the purpose of survival. This is also how good stories are made. What both have in common is creation through thought.

Thought needs an object to contemplate. Each intermediate state of a project is that object. By linking together a series of state inspired creative jumps something wonderful can be created that may contain only the faintest trace of its beginnings.

Here's how Lord of the Rings is a good example of this process...

LoTr started out as a sequel to the Hobbit. Tolkien's publisher wanted to cash in on the success of the Hobbit with a sequel. And The Silmarillion wasn't it. So Tolkien began with the intention of writing a sequel to the Hobbit. It was horrible. 

The first book title was The Return of the Shadow, not Lord of the Rings. The prose was still written for children. Frodo was called Bingo. Strider was a hobbit called Trotter. Bilbo planned to get married. And the ring was still just a ring. The story had no clear motive or direction. "What more can hobbits do?" asked Tolkein. The ideas of the Hobbit were played out. The LoTr we know and love was far far away. 

In draft after draft Tolkien probed and searched for a direction to take the story. It all turned when Tolkien wrote the scene with the Black Rider. At first the Black Rider was really a White Rider. It was Gandalf coming to talk to Bingo. But then some insight happened. A dizzying array of neurons conspired and the color of the horse changed from white to black and Gandalf transformed into a man wrapped in a great black cloak and hood. A new framework was creating itself.

How do we know? Fortunately, from Christopher Tolkien, we have the history of changes his father made to LoTr. Dr. Corey Olsen in a great series—The Return of the Shadow, Session 1 - In Search of a Sequel—walks us through what is essentially the git log for LoTr. Imagine a kind of Papers We Love treatment from a true Tolkien expert and gifted analyst. It's magical.

We see idea after idea worked through in the text. It was a continuous process of refactoring and new development. Some ideas were kept from beginning to end. Many were cut. Many morphed. Much dialogue was kept, but was given to different characters to say in different circumstances. 

The whole feeling was very much like seeing software being developed, only the result wasn't a working app, but one of the most influential stories of all time.

The lesson for me was a deep and dramatic reconfirmation of an old idea: All successful large systems started as successful small systems.

This applies to us as writers and programmers. It's easy to get down on yourself during the creation process. Neither your story or program has to start out great; greatness is something that evolves.

In this new year, that's the lesson of Lord of the Rings for me.

Tuesday
Jan032017

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