Plus how Twitter upgraded for scale, Googliness and Appliness, BlackBerry’s fundamental failing, and more
A burst of 10 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team
The National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since Congress granted the agency broad new powers in 2008, according to an internal audit and other top-secret documents.
Most of the infractions involve unauthorized surveillance of Americans or foreign intelligence targets in the United States, both of which are restricted by statute and executive order. They range from significant violations of law to typographical errors that resulted in unintended interception of U.S. e-mails and telephone calls.
In case you missed this on Friday. Question is, who watches the watchers?
Google engineer explains why multi-user isn’t enabled for phones, offers hope for future functionality >> Android Police
“…it is not at all clear how it should work on a phone, specifically with respect to SMS and phone calls,” writes Dan Morrill, Google Engineer and a regular on the popular /r/Android subreddit. “Suppose you have device sharing enabled and then a call comes in. Who gets it? Do you punch through to the current user? Only the owner gets it? If only the owner can answer, does it ring for the second user? Is it worse to annoy the current user with a ringing phone they can’t answer, or worse for dad to miss a call from his boss because Junior was playing Angry Birds?”
(The discussion is on a Reddit AMA.) Pretty clear that phones are more individual than tablets (where Google has enabled multi-user).
To maintain app compatibility, like the iPad 3 and iPhone 4 before it, Apple would need to go to @2x (double the horizontal and vertical pixels) to increase the density
• The iPad mini is 7.87- x 5.3- x 0.28-inches and weighs 0.69 lbs. It currently uses the aforementioned 4:3 1024×768 (786,432 pixel), 163ppi screen, and gets 10 hours of battery life.
• A theoretical iPad mini Retina would need to stick very close to those same size, weight, and battery life measures, but bump up the display to a 4:3 2048×1536 (3,145,728 pixel), 326ppi monster.
• The Nexus 7 (2013) is 7.87- x 4.49- x 0.34 and weighs 0.64 lbs. It now uses a 16:10 1920×1200 (2,304,000 pixel), 323ppi screen, and gets 9 hours of battery life – in airplane mode.
So the Nexus 7 is a little thicker (though still light thanks to the plastic back), but more importantly, has only 3/4 of the amount of pixels an iPad mini Retina would need, and even then at only a fraction (who knows how much?) of the battery life. In other words, the Nexus 7 (2013) is thicker, has less pixels, and less battery life than a theoretical iPad mini Retina.
Engadget’s review of the 2013 Nexus 7 confirms that its battery life is shorter than last year’s model. (The battery also has less capacity.)
About four months ago, [Cassidy] Wolf said she was notified through Facebook that someone had tried to log into her account from another state. She then received an anonymous e-mail from a stranger saying he was in possession of photos of her that were taken in her bedroom via the webcam on her computer after it was hacked. The person tried to extort her in return for ensuring the photos were not made public. She cannot divulge all the specific details because the incident is now under federal investigation.
The FBI has a suspect. Her advice: put a sticker over the computer’s webcam when you’re not using it.
My diploma project is a compact inkjet printer, which is placed on top of a paper pile. When printing, “Stack” slowly moves downwards and swallows the pile until no paper is left. The paper disappears under the printer and exits on top, where it creates a new pile.
Thanks to this new way of printing it is possible to remove the paper tray, the bulkiest element in common printers. This concept allows a very light appearance and avoids frequent reloading.
Raffi Krikorian (@raffi), VP, Platform Engineering, on how Twitter learned to cope with gigantic demand – which meant dumping Ruby On Rails:
When it came down to it, our Rails servers were only capable of serving 200 – 300 requests / sec / host.
Twitter’s usage is always growing rapidly, and doing the math there, it would take a lot of machines to keep up with the growth curve.
At the time, Twitter had experience deploying fairly large scale JVM-based services – our search engine was written in Java, and our Streaming Api infrastructure as well as Flock, our social graph system, was written in Scala. We were enamoured by the level of performance that the JVM gave us. It wasn’t going to be easy to get our performance, reliability, and efficiency goals out of the Ruby VM, so we embarked on writing code to be run on the JVM instead. We estimated that rewriting our codebase could get us > 10x performance improvement, on the same hardware –– and now, today, we push on the order of 10 – 20K requests / sec / host.
Incidental: successive tweets are no longer incremented by 1. Really fascinating blogpost about the big and small picture of dealing with huge real-time demand, and how to retool for it.
In case you missed this last week:
Here’s my own interpretation of what it means to be googley. What qualifies me to give one? Apart from having worked at Google for more than five years, I got to work with a few extraordinarily googley people who’ve been at Google for many more years, some of who paid special attention to teaching their protégés googliness. In my career at Google I too have then tried to inspire googliness, mostly by leading by example. Whether I succeeded (my personality can interfere with my intentions) is on others to judge, but I’ll give myself the credit of working much on it. The idea of googliness made me love Google, and made me love going to work.
Qualities cited include “doing the right thing”, “striving for excellence”, “doing something nice for others, with no strings attached”, and more.
Should do better for hiring than The Intern, anyway. Though judging by the comments..
Horace Dediu responds:
I think I can get away with replying to the Meaning of Googliness with the following.
Looks pretty accurate.
Ben Thompson recalls December 2009:
Android 2.0 “Eclair” had launched two months previously, and a second app ecosystem was starting to take root, sealing BlackBerry’s fate as a standalone ecosystem. It wasn’t just BlackBerry; Nokia’s door to platform independence closed at the exact same time for the exact same reason: while the history of software ecosystems is not long, the maximum number of said ecosystems seems to be about 2, maybe 2.5. This has held true for the desktop, for consoles2, and now for mobile.
Quite a sobering thought – that three ecosystems, max, is what you get in any space. See also what he thinks BlackBerry and Nokia should have done.
Among the more than two hundred openings in China on professional network site LinkedIn, some of the eye-catching China-based positions include an environmental affairs program manager, a security specialist and a store specialist.
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