Blog posts

  • The End of Big Data

    James Bridle brings us a short story, The End of Big Data:

    It’s lunchtime in Diego Garcia and still dark in the Mid-Atlantic, but the first light of day is reflecting hard white off the former Google facility in Hamina, Finland. The cameras on BLIX and RITTER, the twin UNDATA satellites I'm flying over Europe’s Eastern border, trigger automatically.

    My shift’s first images appear on the monitor, overlays shimmering to life atop the decommissioned data center, outlining stacks of disassembled routers and cooling vents. The progress bar on the ops room’s jumbotron starts to fill. All green so far. The threat graph is bottomed-out today; the Finns have tightened up border security following several incursions by FSB and Spetssvyaz looters. But everything that was there yesterday is still there today. I take a moment to examine the traffic: dumper trucks heading towards Russia and the M10, the usual overnight flights nosing down from North America, the expected chatter in the ionosphere. Nothing to see here. The overview moves toward the Baltic States before swinging back up again, towards Sweden and the old Facebook plant. […]

    [Via Warren Ellis, ORBITAL OPERATIONS 31 Jan 2016]

  • A quick word about this site

    No, I'm not dead.

    As of this post I've moved this site to a new web host and I'm now maintaining Sore Eyes using Jekyll). I'll rant another time about what prompted me to do this (hint: look for a post titled something along the lines of 10 Reasons Why Nobody Should Ever Use Gradwell Dot Com), but one immediate consequence of this switch in web hosts is that the content previously available here that I was managing using WordPress isn't immediately going to be available at this new host. I have to try to resurrect about thirteen years-worth of old posts from the smoking ashes of my old site, which may take a little while to arrange.

    Just to be clear, this shift to Jekyll isn't because of any problems with WordPress as a content management system: it's a combination of a dreadfully inept former web host and (as I explored ways out of the mess they'd caused) an awareness that I'd rather not have to rely on my web host to do anything more than just respond to requests for static pages.

    We'll see how this works out. I know the current layout I'm using is very barebones and will be doing something about that over the days and weeks to come, but the important thing is to get started again after I've been silent since late November. e This switch to uploading static pages created using a very basic Jekyll setup does mean that for now I don't have any way set up for users to comment on new posts, but to be fair the site (in common with an awful lot of other weblogs of similar vintage) hasn't seen very many comments in recent years, what with the conversation (and much of the traffic that used to go to linkblogs) having shifted to social media. I'm toying with the idea of inviting commenters to use Twitter, but given that I don't otherwise use Twitter - since Twitter stopped generating RSS feeds for users I've had a Twitter account so that I could follow those Twitter users I wanted to, but I've never had any desire to post there - I'm not sure about committing to following comments there. We'll see.

    For the moment, I'm just happy to actually have somewhere I can publish my posts again. I hope whatever readers remain after this involuntary hiatus will be happy to read them.

  • All of this sounds like something Tom Haverford would say

    The responses to this Reddit thread asking What would the person who named Walkie Talkies have named other items? manages to be both extremely juvenile in places but also laugh-out-loud funny (not necessarily in the same places.) Like here:

    Samp98518 7985 points 2 months ago

    Grand Theft Auto would be Stealy Wheely Auto-Mobiley.

    [Via Slate Star Codex]

  • Programming in a nutshell

    Programming in a nutshell:

  • If you pack in enough power, you could get Tower Bridge off the ground

    Say what you will about the former Soviet bloc, they certainly knew how to make aircraft that would last. Pat Malone quite clearly had the time of his life sitting in the co-pilot's seat:

    HA-MKF is owned by James Black, who has wanted an An-2 since he first experienced the inside of one while flying in the World Aerobatics Championships in Russia before the Wall came down. A Polish-built late model, KF differs little from the 1946 original - the aircraft was never really developed during its long production run. The instruments and systems were adequate in the Paleolithic era, when Russian pilots apparently had the three arms you need to start her up and the gorilla muscles required to motor her around, and they still do the job today.

    The Annie is where aeronautical engineering meets blacksmithing; she was designed to be maintained by farm boys in the Siberian wastes, and all they needed were big spanners. She can suck up her own fuel from a connector under the belly, where there's also a compressed air take-off for inflating the tyres. What tyre pressure is required? Consult the manual, and do you know what it says? "Inflate until round."

    [Via MetaFilter]

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