4 months ago

In January, Ranganath took on the task of building a prototype for a new Foursquare app. By the spring, even he had to admit that the project was a mess. It caused batteries to drain after just a few hours. It gave bad directions. It sent alerts at the wrong times — tossing users recommendations for a nearby fashion boutique when they were comfortably seated at a bar around the corner.

The problem was the method the prototype was using to identify location — a straightforward combination of GPS, Wi-Fi signals, and cell towers. It couldn’t always find the right signals, and even if it did, it tended to seriously drain the battery as it searched.

But when Ranganath told Shaw about the problems, the data scientist had an idea. Why not take a shortcut? Foursquare already had a massive database of check-ins — location information about the places its users most liked to go. And this data didn’t just include the place where someone had checked in. It showed how strong the GPS signal was at the time, how strong each surrounding Wi-Fi hotspot signal was, what local cell towers were nearby, and so on. Leveraging this data meant that Foursquare could still grab a good current location even if users were underground, near a source of radio interference, or facing some other signal obstacle. Chances are, some prior Foursquare user had seen the world through the same flawed eyes and reported his or her location.

Read the full article on Wired.com.

5 months ago

Most setup guides for Nginx tell you the basics – apt-get a package, modify a few lines here and there, and you’ve got a web server! And, in most cases, a vanilla nginx install will work just fine for serving your website. However, if you’re REALLY trying to squeeze performance out of nginx, you’ll have to go a few steps further. In this guide, I’ll explain which settings in nginx can be fine tuned in order to optimize performance for handling a large number of clients. As a note, this isn’t a comprehensive guide for fine-tuning. It’s a [brief] overview of some settings that can be tuned in order to improve performance. Your mileage may vary.

Read the full article on Zachary Orr.

6 months ago

Adding an option instead of making a decision for the user is almost always bad UI design.

Except when it’s not.

The problem with a mantra like this is that it quickly gets elevated to almost biblical status. When used by a disgruntled developer it can be used to shoot down just about any initiative. Like Godwins law for WordPress: once you drop the “decisions not options” bomb, rational discussion comes to a halt.

Read the full article on Noscope.

6 months ago

…Node.js was never about replacing everything on the server with JavaScript. The fact that you can do such a thing is amazing and empowering, but that doesn’t make it the right choice in every situation. No, to me, I had a very different use in mind: liberating the back-end UI layer from the rest of the back-end.

With a lot of companies moving towards service-oriented architectures and RESTful interfaces, it now becomes feasible to split the back-end UI layer out into its own server. If all of an application’s key business logic is encapsulated in REST calls, then all you really need is the ability to make REST calls to build that application. Do back-end engineers care about how users travel from page to page? Do they care whether or not navigation is done using Ajax or with full page refreshes? Do they care whether you’re using jQuery or YUI? Generally, not at all. What they do care about is that data is stored, retrieved, and manipulated in a safe, consistent way.

And this is where Node.js allows front-end engineers a lot of power. The back-end engineers can write their REST services in whatever language they want. We, as front-end engineers, can use Node.js to create the back-end UI layer using pure JavaScript. We can get the actual functionality by making REST calls. The front-end and back-end now have a perfect split of concerns amongst the engineers who are working on those parts. The front-end has expanded back onto the server where the Node.js UI layer now exists, and the rest of the stack remains the realm of back-end engineers.

Read the full article on NCZOnline.

6 months ago

A British company called Enviro-Cool has created a rapid cooling technology called V-Tex that can chill Fanta, lager or even Champagne from room temperature to 5 degrees in less than 45 seconds.

via Wired UK.

6 months ago

TL;DR: use this config and be sure that you’re using OpenSSL >= v1.0.1 and nginx >= 1.3.7 but I recommend >= 1.4.2.

Read the full article on Tautt.

7 months ago

Email should once again be used as a communication medium, not the notification bus-terminal it has become.

Read the full article on I.M.H.O. — Medium.

7 months ago

Some call him the greatest coach in history. Before retiring in May 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson spent 26 seasons as the manager of Manchester United, the English football (soccer) club that ranks among the most successful and valuable franchises in sports. During that time the club won 13 English league titles along with 25 other domestic and international trophies—giving him an overall haul nearly double that of the next-most-successful English club manager. And Ferguson was far more than a coach. He played a central role in the United organization, managing not just the first team but the entire club. “Steve Jobs was Apple; Sir Alex Ferguson is Manchester United,” says the club’s former chief executive David Gill.

In 2012 Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse had a unique opportunity to examine Ferguson’s management approach and developed an HBS case study around it. Now she and Ferguson have collaborated on an analysis of his enormously successful methods.

via Harvard Business Review.

8 months ago

As originally proposed, the srcset attribute allowed developers to specify a list of sources for an image attribute, to be delivered based on the pixel density of the user’s display:

<img src="low-res.jpg" srcset="high-res.jpg 2x">

Not too scary, this markup. In plain English:

“Use low-res.jpg as the source for this img on low-resolution displays, and for any browser that doesn’t understand the srcset attribute. Use high-res.jpg as the source for this img on high-resolution displays in browsers that understand the srcset attribute.”

Things were starting to look scary, for a little while there. Due in part to high resolution devices, the average website is now nearly an entire megabyte of images. Now developers can target users on high-resolution displays with a high-resolution image source. Meanwhile, users on lower pixel density displays won’t be saddled with the bandwidth cost of downloading a massive high-resolution image, without seeing any benefit.

via Smashing Magazine.

8 months ago

Detaining my partner: a failed attempt at intimidation

This is obviously a rather profound escalation of their attacks on the news-gathering process and journalism. It’s bad enough to prosecute and imprison sources. It’s worse still to imprison journalists who report the truth. But to start detaining the family members and loved ones of journalists is simply despotic. Even the Mafia had ethical rules against targeting the family members of people they feel threatened by. But the UK puppets and their owners in the US national security state obviously are unconstrained by even those minimal scruples.

If the UK and US governments believe that tactics like this are going to deter or intimidate us in any way from continuing to report aggressively on what these documents reveal, they are beyond deluded. If anything, it will have only the opposite effect: to embolden us even further. Beyond that, every time the US and UK governments show their true character to the world – when they prevent the Bolivian President’s plane from flying safely home, when they threaten journalists with prosecution, when they engage in behavior like what they did today – all they do is helpfully underscore why it’s so dangerous to allow them to exercise vast, unchecked spying power in the dark.

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