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Biweekly links for 05/29/2009

by Michael Nielsen on May 29, 2009
  • Understanding Consistent Hashing |
    • Nice basic explanation of consistent hashing.
  • Server Fault
    • StackOverflow for SysAdmins
  • The New Socialism: Global Collectivist Society Is Coming Online
  • 1984: The masterpiece that killed George Orwell | Books | The Observer
  • [0903.3971] Astronomical Software Wants To Be Free: A Manifesto
    • “Astronomical software is now a fact of daily life for all hands-on members of our community. Purpose-built software for data reduction and modeling tasks becomes ever more critical as we handle larger amounts of data and simulations. However, the writing of astronomical software is unglamorous, the rewards are not always clear, and there are structural disincentives to releasing software publicly and to embedding it in the scientific literature, which can lead to significant duplication of effort and an incomplete scientific record. We identify some of these structural disincentives and suggest a variety of approaches to address them, with the goals of raising the quality of astronomical software, improving the lot of scientist-authors, and providing benefits to the entire community, analogous to the benefits provided by open access to large survey and simulation datasets. Our aim is to open a conversation on how to move forward. We advocate that […]”
  • Human Genome Project: Genetics and Patenting
    • “Currently over three million genome-related patent applications have been filed. U.S. patent applications are confidential until a patent is issued, so determining which sequences are the subject of patent applications is impossible. Those who use sequences from public databases today risk facing a future injunction if those sequences turn out to be patented by a private company on the basis of previously filed patent applications.”
  • Diamond v. Chakrabarty – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    • 1980 test case where the US Supreme Court decided that genetically modified micro-organisms can be patented. At the time, the law said that living organisms were not patentable. A genetic engineer working for GE had a patent application turned down for a bacterium capable of breaking down crude oil. He appealed, and the case ultimately went to the Supreme Court, which ruled 5-4 that a human-made micro-organism is patentable. Both the majority decision and the dissent are fascinating.
  • Pslc Wiki
    • A well-tended wiki containing a lot of material about learning: how we do it, what the best strategies are, and so on. Interesting, definitely. What fraction of the ideas are correct? Hmm.
  • Books, papers, sites, and software for learning about Web search and related areas – Quinn Slack
  • Michael Mitzenmacher: Algorithms at the End of the Wire
    • Course page for Michael Mitzenmacher’s course on algorithms. Links to many classic papers on web search, data mining, recommendation algorithms, and so on.
  • Statistical Data Mining Tutorials
    • Tutorials on many aspects of data mining.
  • Yury Lifshits | A Guide to Web Research
    • Links to many classic papers on graph algorithms, advertising, data mining, and so on.
  • Distributed systems primer :: snax
    • Classic papers on distributed systems.
  • xkcd as a text on algorithms
    • A useful piece of code that uses xkcd as its sole algorithmic reference.
  • The open, social web | FactoryCity
    • “a few concepts […] necessary to defeat monopolies in social networks and cloud-based markets:
      data portability: related to switching costs; an example of this is phone number portability (which require government intervention to achieve); multi-homing: increasing reliability through parallelization; the example I used was, which allows you to publish content simultaneously to multiple destinations, thereby defeating network exclusivity and lock-in; roaming: have access to and using other people’s networks; I showed a text message that I received from AT&T explaining how they wanted to charge me $20/MB while roaming in Europe. Clearly networks don’t like it when their customers roam! disaggregation: service substitutability; in this case the photo-editing service Picnik imports photos from a multitude of sources, avoiding tightly coupling itself an any one particular service, unlike Facebook’s photo-sharing service, which can only be used and accessed on”

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