Older blog entries for dmarti (starting at number 496)

What are the benefits of participating in open source?

Depending on the project and your role in it, you might get lots of different benefits.

  • Learn new languages and tools to keep your skill set current.

  • Practice techniques that you might not be able to justify putting time into in a corporate environment. (For example, coding for extreme security or efficiency or minimum power and memory usage.)

  • Make connections with people outside your company.

  • Signal your technical competence and ability to work with others. Often, willingness to put time into open source depends on the job market for high-skill non-management programmers. The more that the hiring process depends on formal education and certification, and the less input it has from peers, the less incentive that a programmer has to Signal his or her skill using open source.

  • Talk with real users about bugs and features without a company filter, to get a better understanding of a software problem space.

Syndicated 2013-05-21 03:19:26 from Don Marti

How does AIA affect open source?

The America Invents Act increases the benefits of participating in open source in two ways.

First of all, defensive publication becomes a much more powerful tool. The First To Blog rule means that a blog post or other publication is more likely to count as prior art, since a patent applicant can't claim an earlier invention date to beat it. Although it is possible to do defensive publication of just documents while keeping the code itself secret, it's less administrative overhead to just open source as much as possible.

AIA also provides for a challenge system, which will be difficult for most companies to use independently. Industry organizations will probably have a new role in challenging patents that attack their members. The EFF is already doing this for 3D printing patents.

More details: The America Invents Act: Fighting Patent Trolls With "Prior Art"

Syndicated 2013-05-21 03:12:49 from Don Marti

What does ssh -t do?

Using the -t option allocates a pseudo-terminal for ssh. This comes in handy when you want to "double ssh".

Let's say you can reach the host bastion and bastion can reach internal but you can't reach internal. No problem, right? You can log into internal like this:

  ssh bastion ssh internal

No joy: "Pseudo-terminal will not be allocated because stdin is not a terminal."

Now try that again with -t...

  ssh -t bastion ssh internal

And it works.

Syndicated 2013-05-21 03:01:07 from Don Marti

What are the differences between open-source licenses?

Open-source licenses require different degrees of reciprocity from a licensee. In this list, each license category includes the same basic terms as the previous category. I'll leave out the corporate vanity licenses, since they aren't typically adopted by new projects.

No reciprocity: new BSD, MIT. These licenses simply grant permission to copy the software, and disclaim warranty.

Patent reciprocity: Apache. In order to redistribute software under this license, a licensee must offer a license to any of the licensee's patents that apply.

Partial copyright reciprocity: Mozilla Public License, Lesser GPL. A licensee must provide source code for changes to the original work, but can still add code that is somehow kept distinct from the original, and keep it proprietary.

Broad copyright reciprocity: GPL (all versions). If a licensee distributes a modified version that constitutes a "derivative work" for purposes of copyright law, that derivative work must be available in source code form.

Protections from complex legal schemes: GPLv3. Some patent trolling schemes and code signing systems have the effect of working around the reciprocity requirements of the GPL. This later version of the license closes some loopholes.

SaaS reciprocity: Affero GPL. The only commonly used license that requires a licensee to redistribute source even if the code is not actually redistributed. Offering AGPL-licensed software for use over a network also triggers the requirement to redistribute source.

Syndicated 2013-05-21 02:51:50 from Don Marti

Why did Linux succeed on servers?

Unlike the RISC Unix boxes from back in the day, a typical PC-architecture server is a Purchasing Manager's grab bag of cheap parts available on attractive terms. As an OS developer, you don't know what weird mix of hardware you're going to have to support, even if you're part of the OS team at the hardware vendor. ("Hey, it turns out that the new server is going to have RatBag 2000 Ethernet cards after all. That's not a problem, it it?") This situation was even worse when more parts were on PCI cards, not the motherboard.

So in order to make an OS that will run on all the bastard spawn x86 servers out there, you need to have either (1) the market power to make the hardware vendors code and test the drivers for you to support a stable driver ABI, as Microsoft did for Windows NT, or (2) the hacker chutzpah to break incompatible drivers frequently, so that in order to work at all, a driver has to "live in the tree" and be maintained as part of the OS. This is the route that Linux chose.

So the secret to Linux's success on servers is here: Stable API Nonsense

Syndicated 2013-05-21 02:45:13 from Don Marti

Why is git popular?

Projects outside the kernel began adopting Git shortly after its release. A key landmark in Git adoption came when Keith Packard, one of the lead developers of the X Window System, published two influential articles in 2007.

Tyrannical SCM selection

Repository Formats Matter

He saw Git as more robust from an administration point of view, which matters for open source projects that tend not to have a lot of infrastructure support.

After X moved to Git based on Keith's research, a lot of other projects outside the kernel started considering it more seriously as well.

Syndicated 2013-05-21 02:28:47 from Don Marti

Lanier on Flushrights

The Plumbing Clause of the US Constitution gives Congress the power To promote the Installation of Sanitary Plumbing, by securing for limited Times to Plumbers the exclusive Right to their Fixtures.

Jaron Lanier has writen a powerful defense of the flushright system. Read the whole thing. The key points:

Flushing without paying flushright royalties ruins economic dignity. It doesn’t necessarily deny the plumber any form of income, but it does mean that the plumber is restricted to a real-time economic life. That means one gets paid to install or repair, perhaps, but not paid for plumbing one has done in the past. It is one thing to plumb for your supper occasionally, but to have to do so for every meal forces you into a peasant’s dilemma.
The peasant’s dilemma is that there’s no buffer. A plumber who is sick or old, or who has a sick kid, cannot work and cannot earn. A few plumbers, a very tiny number indeed, will do well, but even the most successful real-time-only careers can fall apart suddenly because of a spate of bad luck. Real life cannot avoid those spates, so eventually almost everyone living a real-time economic life falls on hard times.
Meanwhile, some third-party spy service like a social network or search engine will invariably create persistent wealth from the buildings and activities made possible by the plumbing. A plumber living a real-time career without the cash flow from coin boxes on stalls, is still free to pursue reputation and even income (through repairs, upgrades, etc.), but no longer wealth. The wealth goes to the central server.

The next time that you think about the hassle of being unable to flush the commode because your smartphone has an incompatible plumbing app, remember how the Framers in their wisdom gave exclusive rights to plumbers to protect them from misfortune. Similarly, local authorities have created exclusive rights to operate taxis. But as the global precariat grows, how can we give more workers the kind of automatic retirement and disability plan that flushrights can provide?

Syndicated 2013-04-29 13:40:51 from Don Marti

Finance, parking, and more

Attention people of the Internet. The links to EXAMPLES OF REALLY GOOD STUFF FOUND VIA RSS will continue until you quit it with the "RSS is dead, it's all about [chat site du jour]" posts. That is all.

Mike Masnick: Of Clotheslines, Black Swans And Bad Measurements

Mark Cuban: What Business is Wall Street In ?

Charles Marohn: Not efficient, but orderly.

Nicholas Carr: The prehistory of the MOOC

Sid Stamm: ownership and transparency in social media

Yarden Katz interviews Noam Chomsky on Where Artificial Intelligence Went Wrong

David Gaughran: Self-Publishers Aren’t Killing The Industry, They’re Saving It

George Monbiot: Recipes for Disaster

Timothy B. Lee: Conservatives’ Reality Problem. Plus Nate Silver: In Silicon Valley, Technology Talent Gap Threatens G.O.P. Campaigns.

Sara Robinson: Bring back the 40-hour work week - Salon.com 150 years of research proves that long hours at work kill profits, productivity and employees.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick: Outward and Visible Signs Stress has become, I think, the contemporary sign of our salvation.

Alex Steffen: Move a little closer, please: ‘Carbon Zero,’ chapter 3

Yves Smith: Why Strike Debt’s Rolling Jubilee Puts Borrowers at Risk

Ann Patchett: The Bookstore Strikes Back

Joshua Foer: Utopian for Beginners (via TED Blog)

Seth Godin: The danger of starting at the top and Eleven things organizations can learn from airports

Jesse Drucker: Google Revenues Sheltered in No-Tax Bermuda Soar to $10 Billion - Bloomberg

Alastair Johnston: Opinion Column: Why Won’t Helvetica Go Away? The stark sans-serif look that had first symbolized revolution in the hands of Russian typographers in 1917 became institutionalized as the bland face of corporate smugness.

Tomi Ahonen: Kantar November Numbers: Suggest Decline in Windows Phone and.. Increase in Symbian? Nokia is so doomed

John Scalzi: A Self-Made Man Looks At How He Made It – Whatever Also: A Note to You, Should You Be Thinking of Asking Me to Write For You For Free (via Melville House Books)

Arnaud Lapierre's Doorknob Condition: Intuitive Privacy

Sheldon Richman: The Libertarian Case Against Right-to-Work Laws

Rand Ghayad and William Dickens: It’s not a skill mismatch: Disaggregate evidence on the US unemployment-vacancy relationship

Ryan Finlay makes his living buying, selling, and repairing appliances, using Craigslist: Opportunity is Often Dressed In Overalls, How to Buy a Used Washing Machine, How to Buy a Used Dryer.

Jeff Wofford: In Praise of Modern Board Games

Sheldon Richman: Libertarian Left: Free-market anti-capitalism, the unknown ideal

Liberating America's secret, for-pay laws - Boing Boing (via Sunlight Foundation Blog)

One Dad's Ill-Fated Battle Against the Princesses

BBC News - Japan's ninjas heading for extinction

Kas Thomas: Stop Stealing from Shakespeare

Why the Moon Landing Could Not Have Been a Hoax — It Wasn’t Technologically Possible to Fake It

Philip Greenspun: U.S. Limits Imported Cheese to Third of a Pound per American.

ROTFLMAO: The #MostDangerousGame by Jake Swearingen

Zócalo Public Square :: How Doctors Die

Paul Barter: Easing parking minimums is NOT war on cars (via Streetsblog Los Angeles)

Erin L. McCoy: What’s Cheaper than Solar, Slashes Carbon Emissions, and Creates Jobs in Kentucky?

Nate Hyun: The Direct Public Offering – The Original Securities-Based Crowdfunding Model

Team Hudson: Lessons from the Bounty — Pride

Erika Christakis: The Preschool Paradox

Tim Maly: The Corporation Who Would be King

Syndicated 2013-04-08 01:00:47 from Don Marti

QoTD: Ari Jacoby

We already have a situation where most people don't click on ads, and the ones that do are suspect people.Ari Jacoby, CEO, Solve Media

Syndicated 2013-04-05 04:36:49 from Don Marti

The targeting game

We have an information gap for discussing the ad targeting problem. There are papers that, if you put them together, help substantiate the argument that adtech is bogus. But they're behind paywalls.

Here's a good one. "I'm not a high-quality firm, but I play one on TV" by Mark N. Hertzendorf. RAND Journal of Economics, vol. 24, number 2, summer 1991. $24 to download. I have a copy because I helped Doc Searls with some research for his book, The Intention Economy, but you probably don't. (I promise I'll get to the Open Access rant some other time. Yes, “closed data means people die” but we'll talk about that later.)

Advertising is a form of signaling. Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman of Ogilvy Group, said, To a good decision scientist, a consumer preference for buying advertised brands is perfectly rational. The manufacturer knows more about his product than you do, almost by definition. Therefore the expensive act of advertising his own product is a reliable sign of his own confidence in it. It is like a racehorse owner betting heavily on his own horse. Why would it be “rational” to disregard valuable information of that kind?

But advertising can break down as a signaling method when the medium is noisy enough that the probability of an individual user seeing an ad is low enough. Hertzendorf writes, Furthermore, the noise complicates the process of customer inference. This enables a low-quality firm to take advantage of consumer ignorance by partially mimicking the strategy of the high-quality firm. That's in an environment where the presence of many TV channels makes it harder for the audience to figure out who's really trying to signal. Noise helps deceptive sellers.

But what happens when we introduce targeting? Let's give the low-quality seller the ability to split the audience, without the audience members knowing, into marks and bystanders, with marks receiving the ad at higher probability. In that case, marks receive the signal of a high-quality seller, and the bystanders receive the signal of the low-quality seller.

Something that I just figured out from going over this paper again is that the splitting of the audience doesn't have to be accurate in order for adtech to work. Rebecca Lieb, at iMediaConnection, points out that her BlueKai profile is largely false, and writes, If ad platforms aren't delivering the targeting that advertisers are paying for, the emperor has no clothes.

Au contraire. Ad platforms are doing their work just fine. Targeting works even if it's inaccurate, as long as it can reliably split the audience. Even the most basic cookie scheme will do that. An ad network can randomly call some users left-handed and others right-handed, or divide them by height, or whatever. The only important thing is to split the audience persistently, so that some have a higher probability of receiving an inaccurate "high-quality" signal from a deceptive seller.

Where sellers in Hertzendorf's scenario must rely on increasing noise in the medium in order to deceive, targeting lets them make the first move.

We're still in the early stages of the game, though. If an individual is aware that targeting is possible and doesn't know if he or she is mark or bystander, the signal is lost. So you get the effect that I think is happening in web advertising, with the value of the entire medium going down, even for advertisers who do not target.

However, some buyers are still unaware of the extent of targeting. One politician saw an ad for a dating site on a political party press release and attributed it to the party, not to the Google ad service used on the site where he read it.

From my point of view inside the IT business, a lot of the adtech stuff looks old and obvious, but some of the audience is still figuring it out. People already detest and block the email spam that the Direct Marketing Association worked so hard to protect, because that's obviously "addressed to me." Understanding web ad targeting is taking a lot longer, which is understandable because it's so complex. (see bonus links below for introductions to the current state of the art.)

The signaling power of an ad campaign is the seller's advertising expense as estimated by the buyer. Advertising that is itself costly, such as celebrity endorsements or signs in high-cost areas, has what you might call "creative signaling power." Advertising that is attached to a high-cost medium, such as Vogue magazine or the Super Bowl, has "media buying signaling power". And there's a multiplier effect from the quality of the ad itself, since some ads are more memorable than others and tend to make people think that they've seen them more often. (so quality does not map directly to "informative" or "entertaining".)

When an ad appears in a medium that facilitates targeting, the media buying signaling power tends to go away, depending on the accuracy of the targeting and the audience member's knowledge of the extent of targeting.

Brand advertisers, who Doc Searls splits out from direct response advertisers, seem to have an understanding of the targeting problem. John Hegarty, founder of the ad agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty, said, I'm not sure I want people to know who I am. I find that slightly Orwellian and I object to it. I don't want people to know what I drink in the morning and what I drink at night. I think there's a great problem here - throughout history we have fought for our freedom to be an individual, and you're taking it away from us. I think there'll be a huge backlash to that and Nike will have to be very careful.

And Richard Stacy writes, The great thing about advertising is that no-one takes it personally.

On the audience side, we have the feeling of "creepy", which is hard to pin down, but that I think is an important notification from your inner economist about an information imbalance, which you would be mistaken to ignore.

So here, roughly, are the rounds of the adtech game. It would have been an interesting experiment to play them out in order, but this is a real-time strategy game, not a turn-oriented game. Some players have gotten to round 3, and others are still on round 1, or think they're on round 1 and are getting beaten at round 2.

Round 1: Targeting that partitions the audience without the audience's knowledge. Need not be accurate because a persistent split is enough to attract low-quality sellers. I'm using "low-quality" in the economics paper sense, not the "haha your phone sux and mine r00lz" sense. Most adtech people are not in it to deceive, but from a misguided quest for efficiency that follows from a lack of understanding of signaling.

Round 2: Audience begins to understand targeting. Ad blocking increases, value of web ads decreases. Increasingly crappy web ads drive demand for privacy tech.

Round 3: Privacy tech, such as stricter treatment of third-party cookies, makes targeting more difficult and less accurate. The value of advertising across the entire medium rises, and the sites that pay for original content are able to get more ad revenue and control, at the expense of adtech middlemen.

Just as targeting didn't have to work with total accuracy to give an advantage to deceptive signalers, privacy tech doesn't have to be 100% to push things back in the other direction.

Bonus links:

Retail Surveillance Is About To Make Your Online Targeting Seem A Lot Less Creepy

NewsCred Blog: How magazines can stay relevant in the era of branded content and digital marketing

Jim Brock: Would Do-Not-Track lead to “data oligopolies”?

Adam Lehman: Just Who Do The Data Paranoiacs Think We Are?

xkcd: Instagram

Scott Meyer: Why Is Another Browser Company Forcing Naive Decisions on the Internet?

Mike Daly: Today’s Burning Question: Firefox to Block Third-Party Cookies By Default

Doc Searls: How advertising can regulate itself

Advance look at post-adtech web ads: Village Soup Shows ‘Native’ Ads Can Work on Local News Sites

What everyone should know about ad serving

How and Why We Track: Confessions of an Ad "Tracking" Company

7 things you don't know about ad networks and are afraid to ask

Syndicated 2013-03-31 16:40:06 from Don Marti

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