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Submission + - How Google avoids downtime

Brandon Butler writes: Google has an innovative way of attempting to keep its services — like its cloud platform and apps — up and running as much as possible. The man in charge of it is Ben Trenyor, who runs Google's Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) team.

Each Google product has a service level agreement (SLA) that dictates how much downtime the product can have in a given month or year. Take 99.9% uptime, for example: That allows for 43 minutes of downtime per month, or about 8 hours and 40 minutes per year. That 8 hours and 40 minutes is what is referred to at Google as an “error budget.”

Google product managers don’t have to be perfect — they just have to be better than their SLA guarantee. So each product team at Google has a “budget” of errors it can make.
If the product adheres to the SLA’s uptime promise, then the product team is allowed to launch new features. If the product is outside of its SLA, then no new features are allowed to be rolled out until the reliability improves.

In a traditional site reliability model there is a fundamental disconnect between site reliability engineers (SREs) and the product managers. Product managers want to keep adding services to their offerings, but the SREs don’t like changes because that opens the door to more potential problems.

This “error budget” model addresses that issue by uniting the priorities of the SREs and product teams. The product developers want to add more features, so they architect reliable systems. It seems to work; according to tracking company CloudHamrony, Google had one of the most reliable IaaS clouds among the major vendors in 2014.

Submission + - A Tumblr getting racists fired from their job ( 4

An anonymous reader writes: There's a Tumblr dedicated to identifying people making racist comments online, and trying to get them fired from their job. Is this a scary example of groupthink, or an efficient way to cleanse the underbelly of America?

Submission + - Scientists Study Frequency Distribution of Paraphilia writes: Antonia Molloy reports at The Independent that scientists at the University of Montreal have completed a study of what exactly constitutes an atypical sexual fantasy or paraphilia. They set out to define sexual deviation by grouping sexual fantasies according to how widespread they are. For example, dreaming about sleeping with two women is common, while fantasizing about having sex with an animal is not. “Clinically, we know what pathological sexual fantasies are: they involve non-consenting partners, they induce pain, or they are absolutely necessary in deriving satisfaction. But apart from that, what exactly are abnormal or atypical fantasies?” The scientists asked 1,517 Quebec adults (799 men and 718 women) to rank 55 different sexual fantasies, as well as to describe their own favorite fantasy in detail. Of this sample, 85.1 per cent were heterosexual, 3.6 per cent were homosexual and the remainder identified as neither of these. Overall, it was found that men had more fantasies than women and they also described these more vividly.

One theory of sexual fantasies is that our fantasies are psychological mechanisms for coping with anxiety but the number and taxonomy of paraphilias is under debate; One source lists as many as 549 types of paraphilias. The Canadian study found that thirty sexual fantasies were common for one or both genders. A significant proportion of women (30 per cent to 60 per cent) had fantasies involving elements of submission – but many also specified that they never wanted these to come true. By contrast, the majority of men did want their fantasies to become reality. "Our main objective was to specify norms in sexual fantasies, an essential step in defining pathologies," says Christian Joyal, lead author of the study. "And as we suspected, there are a lot more common fantasies than atypical fantasies."

Submission + - FTDI is intentionally bricking devices using competitors' chips. (

janoc writes: It seems that FTDI has started an outright war on cloners of their popular USB bridge chips. At first the clones stopped working with the official drivers and now they are being intentionally bricked, rendering the device useless. The problem? These chips are incredibly popular and used in many consumer products. Are you sure yours doesn't contain a counterfeit one before you plug it in? What are you going to do if your device gets trashed?

The article is on Hackaday:

Submission + - Smallest possible diamonds form ultra-thin nanothread (

drcosquared writes: Researchers in the Badding Lab at Penn State University have made diamond nanothreads through the compression of benzene molecules."These nanothreads promise extraordinary properties such as strength and stiffness higher than that of sp2 carbon nanotubes or conven tional high-strength polymers15. They may be the first member of a new class of ordered sp3 nanomaterials synthesized by kinetic control of high-pressure solid-state reactions." Nature Materials

Submission + - Prenda hammered: Judge sends porn-trolling lawyers to criminal investigators (

SternisheFan writes: ArsTechnica Aurich Lawson reports:

Lawyers who lied and obfuscated for years face disbarment and a $82,000 fine.

US District Judge Otis Wright has no love for the lawyers who set up the copyright-trolling operation that came to be known as Prenda Law. But Wright at least acknowledges their smarts in his long-awaited order, released today. Wright's order is a scathing 11-page document, suggesting Prenda masterminds John Steele and Paul Hansmeier should be handed over for criminal investigation. In the first page though, there's almost some admiration expressed for the sheer dark intelligence of their scheme. The copyright-trolling scheme that has reached its apex with Prenda is so complete, so mathematical.

"Plaintiffs have outmaneuvered the legal system," Wright begins. He goes on:

"They've discovered the nexus of antiquated copyright laws, paralyzing paralyzing social stigma, and unaffordable defense costs. And they exploit this anomaly by accusing individuals of illegally downloading a single pornographic video. Then they offer to settle—for a sum calculated to be just below the cost of a bare-bones defense. For these individuals, resistance is futile; most reluctantly pay rather than have their names associated with illegally downloading porn. So now, copyright laws originally designed to compensate starving artists allow, starving attorneys in this electronic-media era to plunder the citizenry."

And yes, if reading "resistance is futile" rattles something in your brain—Wright's order is thoroughly peppered with Star Trek references.

The plaintiffs have a right to assert their intellectual property rights, "so long as they do it right," Wright acknowledges. That's not what happened here, though. Prenda lawyers used "the same boilerplate complaints against dozens of defendants," without telling the judge. Instead, defense lawyers like Morgan Pietz flagged the dozens of related cases. "It was when the Court realized Plaintiffs engaged their cloak of shell companies and fraud that the court went to battlestations," stated Wright.


Submission + - What happened to desktop software? (

oquidave writes: "I found this blog post on the state of desktop software and how web, mobile and the cloud are reshaping or redefining how and on what devices we use software today. It's nolonger just the traditional desktop/laptop as we used to know it.
"Today, having done an audit and evaluated which software i use on my laptop, i realized that i mostly use VLC which is a media player and then a web browser — either Firefox or Google Chrome 95% of the time to get things done! The other almost 50 desktop Apps remain redundant on my computer as i find myself less and less more likely to use them. For instance i find myself rarely using MS Word or Libre Office depending on which operating system i boot to in favor of online word processors like Google Docs and blog editors like WordPress. — and yet i never thought i wouldn’t get any document creation done without these applications at one time""


Submission + - Linus Torvalds Praises Chrome Pixel (

sfcrazy writes: Linus Torvalds loves his Macbook Air, but that's going to change. The creator of Linux is in love with Google's Chrome Pixel and he is even considering making it his primary laptop. He writes on his Google + page - "Hey, I've joined all the cool kids in having one of the new Google "Pixel" laptops (aka Chromebooks). And it is a beautiful screen, to the point where I suspect I'll make this my primary laptop. I tend to like my laptops slightly smaller, but I think I can lug around this 1.5kg monster despite feeling fairly strongly that a laptop should weigh 1kg or less."

Submission + - SPAM: SCO wants to destroy business records

An anonymous reader writes: SCO, now calling itself TSG, has just filed a motion [PDF] with the bankruptcy court in Delaware asking it to authorize "the abandonment, disposal, and/or destruction of certain surplus, obsolete, non-core or burdensome, property, including, without limitation, shelving, convention materials, telecommunications and computer equipment, accounting and sales documents, and business records."
Link to Original Source

Submission + - CNET parent organization blocks review and award to Dish over legal dispute (

Coldeagle writes: It looks as if CNET's parent company, CBS, has laid down the law:

Just one day after CNet named the Dish "Hopper," a new TV recording system that's drawing rave reviews in the tech press, to an awards shortlist, the site's parent company stepped in and nixed the accolade. Because of a legal battle between CBS and Dish over the Hopper's ad-skipping technology, CBS laid down a ban: CNet won't be allowed to even review Dish products, much less give them awards.

Got to love modern day freedom of the press!


Submission + - Is it time for Android on the desktop? Via Technologies thinks so ( 2

fragMasterFlash writes: Via Technologies is launching the aPC, a $49 desktop motherboard running Android Gingerbread with support for downloading apps from the Google Play store. Dubbed "A bicycle for your mind" this device represents an attempt to span the digital divide, bringing a full-fledged computing experience to the next 2 billion new users.

Submission + - Raspberry Pi production moves to the UK (

An anonymous reader writes: Back in January the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced that their tiny, cheap Linux PC had gone into production. It was a day to celebrate, but the people running the foundation weren’t totally happy. The reason? The Raspberry Pi wasn’t being manufactured in the UK.

Instead, a Far East manufacturing facility had been chosen simply because it meant the cost of manufacturing was $5 per unit cheaper, and delivery time was 3-4 weeks, not 12-14 as was quoted by UK manufacturers. It sounded crazy at the time, but that’s why everyone goes to China to get stuff made–it’s cheaper and quicker.

The good news is, manufacturing is now moving to the UK. More specifically, a deal has been done to see the tiny PC manufactured in South Wales at Sony’s Pencoed plant.

30,000 Raspberry Pis will be produced every month to begin with, and in the process it has created 30 new jobs at the facility. The other positive of this move is each Raspberry Pi will have to pass Sony’s Green Management program, which ensures each finished Pi has been manufactured using parts that are both ethically and ecologically sound.


Submission + - Metal balls bounce off slivers of super-stretchy 'jelly' (

ananyo writes: "A hydrogel developed by materials engineers at Harvard University is so tough metal balls bounce off thin slices of it.
A hydrogel is a network of polymers that soaks up lots of water to form a jelly-like material. But most shatter easily and don’t stretch far without breaking. Some of the toughest hydrogels are used to make soft contact lenses, and researchers want to make them more robust, for use in replacement cartilage or as scaffolds for growing artificial organs.
The energy needed to fracture the new hydrogel is on a par with that for natural rubber, and the gel can be stretched to 20 times its original length without breaking (abstract)."

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