Selected links
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Selected links

Here’s one of those posts where the comments are as important as the original posting: John Peebles says that systems administrators are endangered species and commenters dissent. Good stuff.

People who don’t pay any federal income tax are still taxed.

Here’s why I don’t read any gadget blogs: after the tech pundits panned the iPhone 4S as underwhelming, it sold double the units that the iPhone 4 did on “opening weekend.”

Don’t miss this interview with PIMCO co-CEO Mohammed el-Arian on Occupy Wall Street. Here’s the bottom line:

In the U.S., the bailing out of the financial sector was sold on the basis that it would allow growth and job creation to resume, and that has not happened. So the rationale for socializing those losses hasn’t played out.

Links for June 14
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Links for June 14

Today it’s all about the technology links.

First, Peter Knego data mines Stack Overflow and finds that older developers are scarce but valuable.

John Gruber compares Apple’s approach to Google’s when it comes to software development, arguing that Apple focuses on quality of user experience whereas Google focuses on reach — making their software available to the largest audience possible. I think he’s right on the money, and of course it’s worth pointing out that Google’s usability is fine for most users. I prefer Apple’s approach to interface design, but I am a happy user of a large number of Google products.

Tim Bray compares native apps to web apps on mobile devices. In my opinion, a good Web interface is the basic price of entry. Every company that’s deploying Web-based services should have one. Then, if they have the budget to support it, they should build native OS X and Android clients as well, if they can provide any value at all over the basic Web interface. Like Tim, for services I like, if there’s a native client, I pretty much always install it and use it rather than the Web site.

James Fallows looks at a non-obvious reason why Google may be deprecating its translation API. Very interesting.

OK, this link isn’t technical, but it is interesting. Researchers found that rebounding in basketball is a mental skill. I loved this bit:

What allowed the players to make such speedy judgments? By monitoring the brains and bodies of subjects as they watched free throws, the scientists were able to reveal something interesting about the best rebounders. It turned out that elite athletes, but not coaches and journalists, showed a sharp increase in activity in the motor cortex and their hand muscles in the crucial milliseconds before the ball was released. The scientists argue that this extra activity was due to a “covert simulation of the action,” as the athletes made a complicated series of calculations about the trajectory of the ball based on the form of the shooter. (Every NBA player, apparently, excels at unconscious trigonometry.) But here’s where things get fascinating: This increase in activity only occurred for missed shots. If the shot was going in, then their brains failed to get excited. Of course, this makes perfect sense: Why try to anticipate the bounce of a ball that can’t be rebounded? That’s a waste of mental energy.

Links for June 12
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Links for June 12

Jumping in:

  • Did you know that many people are released from prison owing a debt to the state for things like court fees and charges for public defenders? Our criminal justice system is intentionally cruel in so many ways.
  • And speaking of the criminal justice system, people who benefit financially from incarcerating massive numbers of people are generally in favor of maintaining and expanding the systems that put people in jail, even unnecessarily. The League of Ordinary Gentlemen looks at how the prison guards’ union has gained influence in California and the quality of prisons has gotten worse. This is a great piece of blog writing.
  • This is the sort of libertarian philosophy I agree with. The fair price of goods should include the negative externalities of their use.
  • The description of now-more-than-everism is useful, and not just for politics. I’ve certainly seen it plenty of times on engineering teams, and probably have practiced it more times than I’d care to admit.
  • James Governor talks about the advantages of giving engineers some responsibility for communicating with the public. Probably the smartest blog post I read last week.
  • Anil Dash explains how he uses the favorite and like features on social sites.
Links for June 10
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Links for June 10

Trying to spin up the link blogging again:

  • Kevin Carey explains why all those articles about the decreasing value of college degrees are wrong.
  • Mike Loukides thinks everyone needs to learn JavaScript. I agree, but I have little progress on that project this year.
  • John Scalzi has a simple rule of thumb for figuring out whether or not you’re cheating on your significant other.
  • Inbox Influence is a browser extension that shows the political donations people in your Gmail in box have made. It’s a very cool illustration of how easy access to various databases will affect user experience in the future.
  • Rands talks about notifications. His tangential discussion of RSS is noteworthy as well.
Links for May 26
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Links for May 26

  • How DRM may have made it more difficult for the Amazon.com MP3 store to fulfill orders for Lady Gaga’s album when they put it on sale.
  • The Affordable Care Act is increasing the number of people with health insurance.
  • “In matters of cooking, authenticity is a joke.” This statement is important and true.
  • Edouard de Pomaine’s tomatoes a la creme. Incredibly tasty and easy to make.
  • An explanation of Pivotal Tracker’s client-side architecture. These days, all of the advanced Web applications are client-server apps written using JavaScript and HTML instead of Visual Basic or PowerBuilder.
  • Tim Bray thinks about what may happen to our stuff when we’re gone.
  • The Cassiopeia Project is a library of free science instruction videos. Funded by a retired scientist who wants to improve the quality of science education.
  • Journalists appear to be noticing that Republican politicians and pundits are not engaging with reality. Hopefully it’s the start of a trend.
  • The New York Times explains the lengths to which hotels must go to protect their staff from guests. Depressing.
  • Researchers find that cultured people feel less stress. Perhaps you’d enjoy a trip to a museum this weekend.
Links for May 20
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Links for May 20

Links for April 6
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Links for April 6

Links for April 3
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Links for April 3

A few links that caught my eye:

  • Securing Arizona – If Arizona is a microcosm of America, we’re in big, big trouble. The state has huge financial problems brought on by the real estate bubble and recession, and the right wing government is looking for solutions in all the wrong places.
  • Music industry will force licenses on Amazon Cloud Player—or else – Jacqui Cheng explains why record companies aren’t going to accept Amazon’s new Cloud Player without a fight.
  • App Store Shenanigans – Chris Dixon looks at a few ways iOS App Store vendors game the review process and trick people into downloading their applications. Even with Apple’s restrictions on what gets published on the App Store, it’s amazing how much total crap makes it in.
  • Why Paying Bribes Should Be Legal – Kaushik Basu argues that bribes can be prevented if you legalize paying bribes. Then you can enlist people who are being solicited for bribes into the enforcement process. This reminds me of an old Bruce Schneier piece, Aligning Interest with Capability.
  • Number of the Week: PCs Make Americans $500 Billion Richer – Economists try to estimate the value delivered by personal computers.
  • Shooting an Elephant: Why GoDaddy’s CEO Was Wrong – You may have seen this on Twitter. Basically, GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons wanted to shoot an elephant and found a loophole that would enable to do so. He made a video of his hunting trip I because he was so proud of himself.
  • TMI: Fear, Fukushima and Facts – Anil Dash with the one post you have to read about the risks of human exposure to radiation.
Links for August 13
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Links for August 13

  • James Fallows has a list of airline frequent flier programs and the percentage of their flights that are available for reward travel. You can book reward travel on 99.3% of Southwest flights, and on 10.7% of US Airways flights.
  • Mike Monteiro explains how to buy design.
  • Laurence Koltikoff says the US is bankrupt.
  • PolitiFact looks into the claims we see flying around about anchor babies. They rate it as half true, I rate it as utter and complete nonsense.
  • Paul Graham talks about what went wrong at Yahoo.
  • National Geographic photographer Mark Thiessen talks about fighting wildfires in Russia.
Links for August 6
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Links for August 6

Here’s a batch of longer pieces for you to read over the weekend.

  • Poligraft is a cool tool from the Sunlight Foundation. Feed it the URL of a news story and it will display contextual information alongside the story text. For example, I submitted a link to a story about the auto bailouts, and learned that employees of GM and Chrysler, the two bailed out firms, donate mostly to Republicans, whereas Ford employees donate mostly to Democrats.
  • Forms guru Luke Wroblewski talks about why designers are starting to prototype interfaces in Keynote. Check out part one and part two.
  • John Timmer at Ars Technica writes about how gamers were able to help solve problems in protein folding more efficiently than their application that simulates protein folding could on its own.
  • The government needs to be more careful (and humble) in issuing dietary guidelines.
  • Oren Harman reviews Naming Infinity: A True Story of Religious Mysticism And Mathematical Creativity by Loren Graham and Jean-Michel Kantor. Sounds like a fascinating book.
  • Christopher Hitchens writes about cancer.
  • Mother Jones’ Andy Kroll dug into the shady mortgage foreclosure industry, created by poor oversight on the part of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Typical story — a few scumbags get rich, regular people get screwed, and the macro effect is to make the housing crisis worse.
  • And finally, Tim Parks writes about The Shame of the World Cup.