Links May 2013

Cameron Russell (who works as an underwear model) gave an interesting TED talk about beauty [1].

Ben Goldacre gave an interesting and energetic TED talk about bad science in medicine [2]. A lot of the material is aimed at non-experts, so this is a good talk to forward to your less scientific friends.

Lev wrote a useful description of how to disable JavaScript from one site without disabling it from all sites which was inspired by Snopes [3]. This may be useful some time.

Russ Allbery wrote an interesting post about work and success titled ‘The “Why?” of Work’ [4]. Russ makes lots of good points and I’m not going to summarise them (read the article, it’s worth it). There is one point I disagree with, he says “You are probably not going to change the world“. The fact is that I’ve observed Russ changing the world, he doesn’t appear to have done anything that will get him an entry in a history book but he’s done a lot of good work in Debian (a project that IS changing the world) and his insightful blog posts and comments on mailing lists influence many people. I believe that most people should think of changing the world as a group project where they are likely to be one of thousands or millions who are involved, then you can be part of changing the world every day.

James Morrison wrote an insightful blog post about what he calls “Penance driven development” [5]. The basic concept of doing something good to make up for something you did which has a bad result (even if the bad result was inadvertent) is probably something that most people do to some extent, but formalising it in the context of software development work is a cencept I haven’t seen described before.

A 9yo boy named Caine created his own games arcade out of cardboard, when the filmmaker Nirvan Mullick saw it he created a short movie about it and promoted a flash mob event to play games at the arcade [6]. They also created the Imagination Foundation to encourage kids to create things from cardboard [7].

Tanguy Ortolo describes how to use the UDF filesystem instead of FAT for USB devices [8]. This allows you to create files larger than 2G while still allowing the device to be used on Windows systems. I’ll keep using BTRFS for most of my USB sticks though.

Bruce Schneier gave an informative TED talk about security models [9]. Probably most people who read my blog already have a good knowledge of most of the topics he covers. I think that the best use of this video is to educate less technical people you know.

Blaine Harden gave an informative and disturbing TED talk about the concentration camps in North Korea [10]. At the end he points out the difficult task of helping people recover from their totalitarian government that will follow the fall of North Korea.

Bruce Schneier has an interesting blog post about the use of a motherboard BMC controller (IPMI and similar) to compromise a server [11]. Also some “business class” desktop systems and laptops have similar functionality.

Russ Allbery wrote an insightful article about the failures of consensus decision-making [12]. He compares the Wikipedia and Debian methods so his article is also informative for people who are interested in learning about those projects.

The TED blog has a useful reference article with 10 places anyone can learn to code [13].

Racialicious has an interesting article about the people who take offense when it’s pointed out that they have offended someone else [14].

Nick Selby wrote an interesting article criticising the Symantic response to the NYT getting hacked and also criticises anti-viru software in general [15]. He raises the point that most of us already know, anti-virus software doesn’t do much good. Securing Windows networks is a losing game.

Joshua Brindle wrote an interesting blog post about security on mobile phones and the attempts to use hypervisors for separating data of different levels [16]. He gives lots of useful background information about how to design and implement phone based systems.

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