Tag Archives: IT

San Francisco puts delivery robots on a lease. Good.

According to CNET: Delivery robots face strict rules in San Francisco.

I like that picture above. Often when I see delivery robots in photos, they are by themselves on an uncrowded street. In the photo above, you can get a better sense of how it will be a problem if swarms of these things start taking over the sidewalk. The idea of sidewalks becoming more crowded by these tiny vehicles is a maddening one.

I’d be fine with them if city planners can come up with a way these robots can roll around and not impede better uses of the streets such as walking and cycling and public transit. Until then, the less robots crowding the sidewalks, the better.

Like drones in the air and autonomous cars on the roads, robots are coming to the sidewalks. City planners need to start planning for that now.

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Why I think this review of the Tesla Semi is really good.

I thought this piece was great: This ex-trucker has some questions about the Tesla Semi – Autoblog.

It punctures the hype behind Tesla’s new truck in the best possible way, by carefully and methodically asking questions and bringing up real life experiences that show the limitations of the truck.

Too few tech reviews come with this type of analysis. I’d like to see more of it. Most tech reviews are positive summaries of features. Or there are a small number of pieces that say such and such will never work because I say so. In either case, the person reviewing it comes from a technology background. I’d like to see more non-technical reviews of technology.

If you are interested in Tesla or the direction of automotives, it is well worth a read.

In an alternative universe this is the next hot smartphone


I am unexcited about the direction in Smartphone design. The key design idea that less is more in a phone is becoming Less is a Bore. Perhaps that’s why this design of a Blackberry got me thinking about it. While it still has a gorgeous screen, the phone itself is worthy of looking at and touching. It strikes the right balance. The phone as a design object is worthwhile.

It would have been good if Apple had struck out in a new design direction with the iPhone X. Instead they went with Less is More. Instead we have a phone with the Notch and a camera on the back that sticks out. It’s as if Apple would have preferred not to have these cameras and sensors,  so rather than design the phone to incorporate them into the design, they stick out, figuratively and literally. In a few years from now when Apple has gone in a different direction, Apple fans will look back and exclaim how poor that aspect of the phone design is.

As for now, we live in an age where the screen dominates design, from TVs to smartphones. In the future that may change and the technology that we interact with will be contained in objects that have noteworthy design in them.
For more on this beautifully designed phone, see If BlackBerry Ditched the Keyboard | Yanko Design.

The further decline of Peter Thiel

The man who threw his lot in with Donald Trump continues to sink in the world. Case in point: Y Combinator Quietly Ends Relationship With Peter Thiel.

I create a super simple set of tools to secure your Ubuntu server

And you can get it here: blm849/supersimplehardening: A super simple way to harden your server.

I create a lot of Ubuntu test servers, and I find that as soon as I create a Ubuntu server on a cloud environment, it gets immediately attacked by automated software. This is obviously a concern. A bigger concern is that when I went  searching for recommendations on how to harden such a server, I found  a wide variety of recommendations! It can be hard to know what to do. Still, I needed something. As a result, I created this package of scripts. The scripts do a number of things:

  • prevent direct root login to your server via ssh. This was one of the things I saw consistently happen and once someone cracks the root access on your machine, it’s game over.
  • stop some basic security holes, like IP spoofing
  • download some useful software, like logwatch, ufw and others
  • upgrade all software on the server

This is just a very very limited number of things to prevent attacks. But it is better than nothing.

If you install Apache, PHP, MySQL or other software on your machine, there are even more attacks that will be launched against it. I recommend you get a firewall up and running and at least run logwatch on a regular basis to look for potential attacks being launched against you.

Finally, if it is important for you to secure your server, don’t stop with my scripts. Go out and consult with IT security specialists right away.

Good luck!

What I find interesting in tech, November 2017


Here’s an assortment of 42 links covering everything from Kubernetes to GCP and other cloud platforms to IoT to Machine Learning and AI to all sorts of other things. Enjoy! (Image from the last link)

  1. Prometheus Kubernetes | Up and Running with CoreOS , Prometheus and Kubernetes: DeployingKubernetes monitoring with Prometheus in 15 minutes – some good links on using Prometheus here
  2. Deploying a containerized web application  |  Container Engine Documentation  |  Google Cloud Platform – a good intro to using GCP
  3. How to classify workloads for cloud migration and decide on a deployment model – Cloud computing news – great insights for any IT Architects
  4. IP Address Locator – Where is this IP Address? – a handy tool, especially if you are browsing firewall logs
  5. Find a Google Glass and kick it from the networkDetect and disconnect WiFi cameras in that AirBnB you’re staying in– Good examples of how to catch spying devices
  6. The sad graph of software death – a great study on technical deby
  7. OpenTechSchool – Websites with Python Flask – get started building simple web sites using Python
  8. Build Your Own “Smart Mirror” with a Two-Way Mirror and an Android Device – this was something I wanted to do at some point
  9. Agile for Everybody: Why, How, Prototype, Iterate – On Human-Centric Systems – Medium – Helpful for those new or confused by Agile
  10. iOS App Development with Swift | Coursera – For Swift newbies
  11. Why A Cloud Guru Runs Serverless on AWS | ProgrammableWeb – If you are interested in serverless, this is helpful
  12. Moving tech forward with Gomix, Express, and Google Spreadsheets | MattStauffer.com – using spreadsheets as a database. Good for some
  13. A Docker Tutorial for Beginners – More Docker 101.
  14. What is DevOps? Think, Code, Deploy, Run, Manage, Learn – IBM Cloud Blog – DevOps 101
  15. Learning Machine Learning | Tutorials and resources for machine learning and data analysis enthusiasts – Lots of good ML links
  16. Importing Data into Maps  |  Google Maps JavaScript API  |  Google Developers – A fine introduction into doing this
  17. Machine learning online course: I just coded my first AI algorithm, and oh boy, it felt good — Quartz – More ML
  18. New Wireless Tech Will Free Us From the Tyranny of Carriers | WIRED – This is typical Wired hype, but interesting
  19. How a DIY Network Plans to Subvert Time Warner Cable’s NYC Internet Monopoly – Motherboard – related to the link above
  20. Building MirrorMirror – more on IT mirrors
  21. Minecraft and Bluemix, Part 1: Running Minecraft servers within Docker – fun!
  22. The 5 Most Infamous Software Bugs in History – OpenMind – also fun!
  23. The code that took America to the moon was just published to GitHub, and it’s like a 1960s time capsule — Quartz – more fun stuff. Don’t submit pull requests 🙂
  24. The 10 Algorithms Machine Learning Engineers Need to Know – More helpful ML articles
  25. User Authentication with the MEAN Stack — SitePoint – if you need authentication, read this…
  26. Easy Node Authentication: Setup and Local ― Scotch – .. or this
  27. 3 Small Tweaks to make Apache fly | Jeff Geerling – Apache users, take note
  28. A Small Collection of NodeMCU Lua Scripts – Limpkin’s blog – Good for ESP users
  29. Facebook OCP project caused Apple networking team to quit – Business Insider – Interesting, though I doubt Cisco is worried
  30. Hacked Cameras, DVRs Powered Today’s Massive Internet Outage — Krebs on Security – more on how IoT is bad
  31. Learn to Code and Help Nonprofits | freeCodeCamp – I want to do this
  32. A Simple and Cheap Dark-Detecting LED Circuit | Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories – a fun hack
  33. Hackers compromised free CCleaner software, Avast’s Piriform says | Article [AMP] | Reuters – this is sad, since CCleaner is a great tool
  34. Is AI Riding a One-Trick Pony? – MIT Technology Review – I believe it is and if AI proponents are not smart they will run into another AI winter.
  35. I built a serverless Telegram bot over the weekend. Here’s what I learned. – Bot developers might like this.
  36. Google’s compelling smartphone pitch – Pixel 2 first impressions | IT World Canada News – The Pixel 2 looks good. If you are interested, check this out
  37. Neural networks and deep learning – more ML
  38. These 60 dumb passwords can hijack over 500,000 IoT devices into the Mirai botnet – more bad IoT
  39. If AWS is serious about Kubernetes, here’s what it must do | InfoWorld – good read
  40. 5 Ways to Troll Your Neural Network | Math with Bad Drawings – interesting
  41. IBM, Docker grow partnership to drive container adoption across public cloud – TechRepublic – makes sense
  42.  Modern JavaScript Explained For Dinosaurs – fun

YouTube’s fight with its most extreme creators highlights the problem big IT has on it’s hands

Here’s a really good piece highlighting a big problem the Frightful Five / Big IT have right now with user generated content: YouTube’s messy fight with its most extreme creators – Vox.

Some background is in order. For years, content creators on Youtube (part of Google/Alphabet) have been jacking up the extremism in their videos to get more views. Extremism in all senses of the word, including political extremism. Some do it for Fame, but many do it for Fortune. This was going well for them until….

In March this year, 250 advertisers pulled back from YouTube after reports that ads were appearing on extremist content, including white supremacist videos. As a result, YouTube demonetized a wide range of political content, including videos that didn’t include hate speech but might still be considered controversial by advertisers. Creators called it “the adpocalypse” — they saw their incomes from YouTube evaporate without fully understanding what they’d done wrong or how to avoid demonetization in the future.

And this is the problem for Youtube and other platforms…how to maximize both traffic and profit. For a long time the formula was simple: more extreme videos = more traffic = more profit. Now they are hitting a wall, and advertisers and consumers are fed up.

The question big IT will be struggling with is: how to draw the line? In case you think the line is easy to draw, I recommend you watch the video by Carlos Maza of Vox. He makes a case that it is very difficult, even if at first glance it should be obvious what should be removed.

I don’t think there is a simple answer to this. If anything, it is going to be one of the major political debates of the first part of the 21st century, as global IT companies deal with national laws and policies.