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+ - Report: Where are the Tech Jobs?

Submitted by phantomfive
phantomfive writes: The Brookings Institute has released a report showing where the tech jobs are in the United States. Of course, San Jose comes in first, but Kansas is high up in the list. Michigan and Utah also were surprisingly high. On the other hand, if you live in Minnesota and you think there are no tech jobs, you are probably right.
Book Reviews

+ - Book Review: If Hemingway Wrote Javascript-> 1

Submitted by phantomfive
phantomfive writes: email: phone: 209-663-1641 Please don't show my email. If you're going to post a link with my name, please use this one:

If Hemingway did write Javascript, it would be straightforward, unadorned and precise; because that's how he wrote English. You wouldn't see any fancy meta-programming from him!

If Hemingway wrote Javascript is a book to remind you of the good parts of programming. A book for a cold evening with hot chocolate and the warm glow of a monitor. An alternate title might have been, Programming: the Fun Parts.

The author was frustrated with his day job and the culture of Silicon Valley, so he turned to writing as an escape. It didn't take long for him to remember that programming is actually fun. On Slashdot we've known that for a while, that's why there's open-source programming. This book is priced at less than $20, and considering the high-quality printing, it seems more an attempt to share ideas than make money.

Each chapter contains Javascript 'written' by a different famous author. Twenty-five authors make an appearance, including Chaucer, Arthur Conan Doyle, J.K. Rowling, and Franz Kafka. Kafka's Javascript doesn't quite work, the execution metamorphoses into a bug. That's the kind of humor you'll find in this book. To give you an idea of what the code looks like, here is a function written by Douglas Adams. This function calculates prime numbers and displays them to the user (but somehow always returns the number 42).

// Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to write JavaScript...
function kevinTheNumberMentioner(_){
/* mostly harmless --> */ with(l) {

// sorry about all this, my babel fish has a headache today...
for(ll=!+[]+!![];ll<_+(+!![]);ll++) {
// I've got this terrible pain in all the semicolons down my right hand side

// you're really not going to like this...
return [!+[]+!+[]+!+[]+!+[]]+[!+[]+!+[]];

This sample takes advantage of Javascript's weird type conversion. !+[] is an empty array added to a not-false, which gets coerced into a boolean, then into an integer value of one. The clause !+[]+!![] gets resolved into an integer value of two.

Some of the authors are a little obscure. If you don't pay attention to the Man-Booker Prize recipients, you may never have heard of Arundhati Roy. If you've even heard of Andre Breton, you might be surprised to find he was a writer, not just a painter.

To help you through these sections, the book includes an explanation of each author's style. If you've ever wondered why anyone would want to read a book by Hemingway, consider this explanation: "In his fiction, he describes only tangible truths: dialog, action, superficial traits. He does not attempt to explain emotion; he leaves it alone....His intent is to create a vacuum so that it might be filled by the reader's own experience. Emotion is more easily felt than described with words."

The book is not above mocking the authors. Of Dan Brown, it says, "He'll often use the same adverb multiple times in a paragraph. In the prologue to The Da Vinci Code almost every action happens "slowly;" in Inferno we're told no less than four times that Langdon's doctor has "bushy eyebrows." Yet Dan Brown has a unique and recognizable style, and that qualifies him for inclusion in the book.

At various interludes, we find original poetry, related to programming, in the style of other famous authors; who apparently couldn't write Javascript but still wanted to contribute. From Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, it degenerates to this doggerel: "Once upon a midnight dreary, while I struggled with JQuery/ Sighing softly, weak and weary, troubled by my daunting chore...." Notice how accurately the rhythm is replicated, though. Rhythm is something missing when a lot of people try to write poetry, but not here.

The artwork is fun to look at, even aside from the text. Jane Austen is drawn with an impish little smile to denote her subtle sarcasm, Jack Kerouac shows up in a mug-shot that indicate his wild writing, and Lewis Carrol has a kindly look that suggests he is looking at some poor confused person who is reading what he wrote.

Each author also is quoted, explaining what they think of Javascript. Charles Dickens says, "It was the best of languages, it was the worst of languages." J K Rowling says, "There's more to Javascript than waving your wand and saying a few funny words." Bolano says, "We dreamed of Javascript and woke up screaming."

This book is most certainly a good read. The primary criticisms I have are that the Angus Croll (who wrote the book) is both better at writing Javascript than the authors he chose, and worse at writing English than the authors. He would have done better, in trying to describe the style of the authors, to include more examples of their writing and less of his own. Sometimes his descriptions get too wordy. The editor should have removed some redundancy: whole sentences could be redacted and would only improve readability. He likes playing dress-up with his nouns, giving them adjective after adjective; sometimes making it hard to figure out what is a noun and what is an adjective. Surprisingly, considering how well he matched the rhythm of The Raven, he seems unaware of the cadence of his prose.

Despite these faults, the book is a worthy read. If you've forgotten that programming is fun, not just a profession, maybe this will remind you.

Link to Original Source

+ - Schneier explains how to protect yourself from Sony-style attacks (you can't)->

Submitted by phantomfive
phantomfive writes: Bruce Schneier has an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal discussing the Sony attack. He says, "Your reaction to the massive hacking of such a prominent company will depend on whether you’re fluent in information-technology security. If you’re not, you’re probably wondering how in the world this could happen. If you are, you’re aware that this could happen to any company."
Link to Original Source

+ - Silicon Valley Swings to Republicans->

Submitted by phantomfive
phantomfive writes: Silicon Valley is making a mark in Washington as Google has recently replaced Goldman as the largest lobbyist, but until recently, most of the money in from Silicon Valley went to democratic candidates. In 2014, that has changed, and Republicans are getting most of the money. Why the change? Gordon Crovitz suggests it's because Harry Reid blocked patent reform. Reid gets a large chunk of donations from trial lawyers, who oppose the reform.
Link to Original Source

+ - Poll Finds San Francisco Voters Favor Tech Buses->

Submitted by phantomfive
phantomfive writes: A recent poll to test SF opinions on the tech buses finds that most have a favorable view. 79% of those polled said that the tech industry has helped the city, and 67% said the shuttles should be able to use the MUNI stops.

Cynthia Crews from the League of Pissed-Off Voters disagreed, saying, " “[it was] paid for by tech companies"

Link to Original Source

+ - Why is US Broadband so Slow? 1

Submitted by phantomfive
phantomfive writes: Verizon has said they will not be digging new lines any time soon. Time-Warner's cash flow goes towards paying down debt, not laying down fiber. AT&T is doing everything they can to slow deployment of Google fiber.
How can the situation be improved? Mainly by expediting right-of-way access, permits, and inspections, according to Andy Kessler. That is how Google was able to afford to lay down fiber in Austin, and how VTel was able to do it in Vermont (gigabit connections for $35 a month).

+ - Why Whistleblowers Cannot Get a Fair Trial->

Submitted by phantomfive
phantomfive writes: "Seven whistleblowers have been prosecuted under the Obama administration," writes Jesselyn Radack, a lawyer who advised two of them. She explains why they can't get a fair trial. In the Thomas Drake case, the administration retroactively marked documents as classified, saying, "he knew they should have been classified." In the Bradley Manning case, the jury wasn't allowed to see what information was leaked. The defendants, all who have been charged with espionage, have limited access to court documents. Most of these problems happen because the law was written to deal with traitorous spies, not whistleblowers.
Link to Original Source

+ - Congress Becomes Aware of Patent Trolls

Submitted by phantomfive
phantomfive writes: Congressman Charles Schumer has written a piece decrying the evils of patent trolls. "Because of the high cost of patent litigation—the average litigation defense costs a small or midsize company $1.75 million—it is often marginally cheaper for a defendant to pay up front to make the case go away. The average settlement for the same group of companies is $1.33 million....Patent trolls cost U.S. companies $29 billion in 2011 alone."
His solution? Make it easier for low quality patents to be re-examined and rejected by the patent office.

+ - Google Maps Used to Find Tax Cheats

Submitted by phantomfive
phantomfive writes: Some countries are worried about the privacy implications of Google Maps, but Lithuania is using them to find tax cheats. "Two recent cases netted $130,000 in taxes and penalties after investigators found houses photographed by Google that weren't on official maps....'We were very impressed,' said Modestas Kaseliauskas, head of the State Tax Authority. 'We realized that we could do more with less and in shorter time." The people of Lithuania don't seem to mind. "Authorities have been aided by the local populace. 'We received even more support than we expected,' said Mr. Kaseliauskas, the chief tax inspector."

+ - Hacking the Android VM by Facebook->

Submitted by phantomfive
phantomfive writes: Facebook's new Android App literally modifies the Dalvik VM runtime while it's running.
They found this necessary because the Dalvik machine has a hard-coded limit on the number of methods that can be loaded in a process at one time, so they used JNI to modify to increase this hard-coded limit at runtime.

Is this a horrible programming technique from Facebook, or is it a workaround for a poorly-designed runtime?

Link to Original Source

+ - Blackberry Users Grow->

Submitted by phantomfive
phantomfive writes: At their latest investor conference call, Rim reported that their subscription base had grown to 80million. Who are these people that still use Blackberries? The Wall Street Journal investigated countries where Blackberry is still king. In Haiti for example, a Blackberry (with BBM) is a must-have accessory for rappers and pop stars.
Link to Original Source

+ - Birthplace of Indoeuropean Languages Found->

Submitted by phantomfive
phantomfive writes: Language geeks might be interested in a recent study that confirms Turkey as the birthplace of the Indo-European language family. The Indo-European family is the largest, and includes languages as diverse as English, Russian, and Hindi. The New York Times made a pretty graph showing the spread.
Link to Original Source

+ - Former TSA Administrator Speaks->

Submitted by phantomfive
phantomfive writes: Former TSA head Kip Hawley talks about the TSA: "it's simply no longer the case that killing a few people on board a plane could lead to a hijacking. Never again will a terrorist be able to breach the cockpit simply with a box cutter or a knife. The cockpit doors have been reinforced, and passengers, flight crews and air marshals would intervene.

I wanted to reduce the amount of time that officers spent searching for low-risk objects, but politics intervened at every turn. Lighters were untouchable, having been banned by an act of Congress. And despite the radically reduced risk that knives and box cutters presented in the post-9/11 world, allowing them back on board was considered too emotionally charged for the American public.

Link to Original Source

Hackers are just a migratory lifeform with a tropism for computers.