Articles tagged links
🔗 Links for Dec. 30, 2020
Wednesday, 30 December, 2020 — links
Cryptocurrency Start-Up Underpaid Women and Black Employees, Data Shows
Nathaniel Popper reporting for The New York Times:
The fast-growing cryptocurrency start-up Coinbase has been rattled in recent months by tensions between executives and employees who said they were being treated unfairly because of their race or gender.
While management at the company has argued that the complaints were limited to a handful of employees, Coinbase’s own compensation data suggests that inequitable treatment of women and Black workers went far beyond a few disgruntled workers.
The Coinbase figures arrived at by Ms. Marr took account of the job level of all employees, as well as their status as an engineer and manager. It is possible that if the analysis took account of more factors, the pay disparity would shrink.
In the 14 job categories at Coinbase with at least three women, the average woman earned less than the average man in all but two job categories.
Black employees earned less, on average, than white employees in all but one of the eight job categories that had any Black staff members, the analysis by Ms. Marr shows.
The wage disparities are compounded by the fact that women and Black employees were concentrated in the lower-paying jobs at the company.
It does not surprise me in any way to read this about a company whose CEO made loud noises about staff being “mission-focused” and apolitical at work.
It’s Peak Season for Tamales in Los Angeles
Tejal Rao, reporting for The New York Times:
The Mesoamerican dumpling, made with nixtamalized corn dough and a variety of fillings, has been around for thousands of years. Called tamalli in Nahuatl, a language spoken by Indigenous peoples in Mexico and Central America, it’s still referred to in its singular as a tamal, or tamale.
It can be a source of deliciousness, comfort, cultural connection or income, but the tamal is not a monolith, and there’s no single, correct way to make it.
Dr. Jeremy Littau: “I miss Christmas tamale season in California.”
Maybe You Don’t Need Kubernetes
Kubernetes is the 800-pound gorilla of container orchestration.
It powers some of the biggest deployments worldwide, but it comes with a price tag.
Especially for smaller teams, it can be time-consuming to maintain and has a steep learning curve. For what our team of four wanted to achieve at trivago, it added too much overhead. So we looked into alternatives — and fell in love with Nomad.
We use Kubernetes at work. We’re a decently-sized engineering organization with several teams each supporting two or more applications. The complexities are worthwhile for us since our infrastructure team has a common framework for supporting applications deployed with Kubernetes.
For side projects, or a small shop, I would not start with Kubernetes.
The Frightening State of Security Around NPM Package Management
David Bryant Copeland:
The problem stems from three issues, each compounding the other:
- NPM’s management of transitive dependencies that allows many versions of the same module to be active in one app.
- Core tooling lacking support to identify and remediate the inclusion if insecure modules.
- Common use of the same package.json for client and server side bundles.
Russia’s SolarWinds Attack
The US prioritizes and spends many times more on offense than on defensive cybersecurity. In recent years, the NSA has adopted a strategy of “persistent engagement,” sometimes called “defending forward.” The idea is that instead of passively waiting for the enemy to attack our networks and infrastructure, we go on the offensive and disrupt attacks before they get to us. This strategy was credited with foiling a plot by the Russian Internet Research Agency to disrupt the 2018 elections.
But if persistent engagement is so effective, how could it have missed this massive SVR operation? It seems that pretty much the entire US government was unknowingly sending information back to Moscow. If we had been watching everything the Russians were doing, we would have seen some evidence of this. The Russians’ success under the watchful eye of the NSA and US Cyber Command shows that this is a failed approach.
And how did US defensive capability miss this? The only reason we know about this breach is because, earlier this month, the security company FireEye discovered that it had been hacked. During its own audit of its network, it uncovered the Orion vulnerability and alerted the US government. Why don’t organizations like the Departments of State, Treasury and Homeland Wecurity regularly conduct that level of audit on their own systems? The government’s intrusion detection system, Einstein 3, failed here because it doesn’t detect new sophisticated attacks — a deficiency pointed out in 2018 but never fixed. We shouldn’t have to rely on a private cybersecurity company to alert us of a major nation-state attack.
Schneier has the most level-headed, thorough, and considered write-up of the SolarWinds incident that I’ve seen so far.
🔗 Tesla driver filmed ‘asleep’ at wheel in Los Angeles
Saturday, 24 August, 2019 — links technological-failure
From The Independent:
A video appearing to show a Tesla driver asleep while his vehicle drove on auto-pilot has prompted criticism online.
The footage, posted on Twitter by US journalist Clint Olivier and filmed by his wife Alisha, was filmed on Los Angeles‘ busy interstate 5 last Saturday morning.
As Mr Olivier drives past the car, which is travelling steadily along the middle lane, Ms Olivier can be heard saying: “He’s totally asleep. This is crazy.”
There’s a broader post to write about the specific nomenclature of Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving tech being named Autopilot, and how drivers interpret the word. Until I write it, it will have to suffice to say that this incident isn’t the first such incident and will not be the last.
The driver is lucky this wasn’t fatal.
🔗 Harry Leslie Smith, first time author at 87, dies
Saturday, 1 December, 2018 — links
Katharine Q. Seelye writes in “Harry Leslie Smith, ‘World’s Oldest Rebel,’ Is Dead at 95” - The New York Times:
His son’s death finally tipped him over the edge to start writing his memoirs, at 87. His first was a book called “1923,” the year of his birth, published in 2010. Other books and essays spilled forth. An Englishman who lived part time in Canada, he wanted to shake the world into appreciating what had been won in World War II.
He went on to write four more books and was working on a sixth, about the refugee crisis, when he died on Wednesday at 95 in a hospital in Ontario.
Remarkable. I’d like to be that productive that late in life. Heck, I’d love to be that productive now.
🔗 Fun with parsers
Wednesday, 28 November, 2018 — links
In The Hardest Program I’ve Ever Written – journal.stuffwithstuff.com, Bob Nystrom writes:
The hardest program I’ve ever written, once you strip out the whitespace, is 3,835 lines long. That handful of code took me almost a year to write. Granted, that doesn’t take into account the code that didn’t make it. The commit history shows that I deleted 20,704 lines of code over that time. Every surviving line has about three fallen comrades.
If it took that much thrashing to get it right, you’d expect it to do something pretty deep right? Maybe a low-level hardware interface or some wicked graphics demo with tons of math and pumping early-90s-style techno? A likely-to-turn-evil machine learning AI Skynet thing?
Nope. It reads in a string and writes out a string. The only difference between the input and output strings is that it modifies some of the whitespace characters. I’m talking, of course, about an automated code formatter.
This is an interesting walkthrough. In particular, I like the extra detail on paths pursued and later abandoned in the face of new information, new optimizations, or, particular code paths raising the Halting Problem.
Another element I appreciate here is Nystrom not trivializing the amount of work that went into the project.
🔗 MRI costs: Why this surgeon is challenging NC’s certificate of need law
Tuesday, 7 August, 2018 — civics links
Dylan Scott Writing for Vox:
Dr. Gajendra Singh walked out of his local hospital’s outpatient department last year, having been told an ultrasound for some vague abdominal pain he was feeling would cost $1,200 or so, and decided enough was enough. If he was balking at the price of a routine medical scan, what must people who weren’t well-paid medical professionals be thinking?
The India-born surgeon decided he would open his own imaging center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and charge a lot less. Singh launched his business in August and decided to post his prices, as low as $500 for an MRI, on a banner outside the office building and on his website.
There was just one barrier to fully realizing his vision: a North Carolina law that he and his lawyers argue essentially gives hospitals a monopoly over MRI scans and other services.
I hope Dr. Singh’s lawsuit succeeds. American healthcare in 2018 is supposed to be driven by consumerism. Call around to different providers and determine how much you’ll pay for quality care. Choose a provider based on wherever you want to land on the quality/price matrix that accepts your insurance and you’re golden, right?
Healthcare is not a market. First, not all qualified players can join the market, as is the case here. That effectively prevents Dr. Singh (and others) from putting downward pressure on prices. Second, medical pricing isn’t necessarily discoverable, transparent or negotiable.