Medium, Tumblr, and the re-consolidation of online publishing

Tumblr and blogging newcomer Medium are taking the online publishing world by storm. Yahoo purchased Tumblr for over $1 billion last year, and Medium is picking up steam, led by two co-founders of Twitter. I figured this would be a fitting topic to write about for my first post on Medium. Here’s the link:

Medium, Tumblr, and the re-consolidation of online publishing

I’m not sure how I’m going to reconcile the existence of this Wordpress site with my new Medium account. It depends on how much I like Medium; I may keep them both updated in parallel, I may migrate everything over to Medium, or I may ditch Medium and keep writing here if it doesn’t work out. For the time being, I’ll just cross-promote. Cheers!

true detective duo

Cleaning the mean streets of the Internet: The Microsoft takedown

Eric Schmidt once said that, “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” I think that this is as accurate of a statement as any about the nature of the Internet, even today. In the 1990s, the Internet went through a period of commercial whitewashing. What was once limited to academia, scientists, and technically sophisticated users was suddenly exploited by commercial interests realizing the massive potential of this new technology. The Internet slowly started to resemble a virtual “city” of sorts, with Amazon and eBay making up the shopping district, TD Ameritrade and Schwab online brokerages forming the financial district, and AOL chat rooms and early social networking making up an entertainment & nightlife district.

Despite the commercial investment into creating a profitable and family-friendly World Wide Web, the Internet has remained largely a seedy red-light district of sorts. In addition to the obviously sizeable adult entertainment market which has proliferated over the years, illegal activities such as high-volume spam, botnets & malware, credit card & identity theft (read Kingpin for a great in-depth expose), child exploitation, terrorist chatter, and black market activities have continued to grow. The continuous addition of naive end-users who don’t fully understand the technology of the Internet and the threats they face have fed money and opportunities into this underworld, prompting organized crime and state-sponsored actors to get in on the action. Last but not least, the recent innovations Bitcoin and Tor have opened up channels for hackers to move money anonymously, browse the deep web without fear of surveillance, and monetize botted computers, to law enforcement’s chagrin.

The proliferation of Internet crime has created an image in my head of the Internet watchdogs (companies such as Microsoft and Cisco, as well as the FBI and the NSA) as burned out detectives in a noir movie. Just like Detectives Rust Cohle and Marty Hart in HBO’s True Detective (shown above), they are sick of playing whack-a-mole with slippery criminals, and resort to some violent, loose-cannon tactics to finally squash the one that got away.

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the backbone

Level 3 Communications and the perpetual game of ISP “Chicken”

Level 3 Communications recently published an excellent article on their blog titled “Chicken”. The article scratches the surface of a well-known problem whereby ISPs abuse their monopoly power controlling the “last-mile” of Internet connectivity, or the connection from a regional fiber backbone to a neighborhood or house.

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Inside Indiana University’s $40 million Data Center

If Bloomington gets hit by a nuclear strike, Oncourse will still be running after the fallout clears. At least, that was the impression I got when I toured the IU Data Center earlier this week. Located on the UITS campus at 10th St and the 45/46 bypass, IU’s IT infrastructure hub is located in a beige, single-story facility with only a single set of windows on the whole building. The subdued appearance of the building hides the fact that it has 18-inch thick reinforced concrete walls and can withstand a hit from an F5 tornado. And once you go past the card-access front door, there’s some very impressive IT and network engineering to be seen inside.

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Breaking – Mt. Gox is dead, long live Mt. Gox

I’ve been a proponent of Bitcoin for a while now – I think that the currency is still in its infancy and certainly has its risks, but long term will be hailed as a very important innovation. Unfortunately, it looks like that road is going to be long and filled with plenty of big potholes, as the breaking story of Mt. Gox’s downfall, as well as CEO Mark Karpeles’ own demise, shows. But tonight, we may have received the final chapter of Mt. Gox’s last saga, courtesy of a Bitcoin blogger known as “The Two-Bit Idiot”. He posted a chillingly titled entry earlier today titled “Bitcoin’s Apocalyptic Moment: Mt. Gox may have lost 750,000 bitcoins”, referencing a leaked document obtained from “an otherwise reliable source.” 750,000 BTC equals about $375 million at today’s exchange rate.

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beautiful fiber optics

Venturing further down the Comcast Netflix rabbit hole

After a few days of contemplation, I’ve come up with a few topics to cover that will hopefully make a worthy follow up to my last article. The response that I’ve gotten has been completely unprecedented. The article got over 30,000 hits, over 4,000 shares on Facebook, and I’ve received countless e-mails and messages over social media offering suggestions, support, and critique. I say unprecedented because this blog usually gets a trickle of a few hits a day. I was invited to speak on a radio station in San Francisco as well as a TV station in Seattle. It seems that people nationwide are quite serious about their Netflix.

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Comcast is definitely throttling Netflix, and it’s infuriating

First, let’s talk about the worst company in America

Comcast is one of the most hated companies in America, yet inexplicably, also one of the most successful. Two nationwide surveys done by the American Customer Satisfaction Index in 2004 and 2007 showed that “Comcast had the worst customer satisfaction rating of any company or government agency in the country, including the Internal Revenue Service.” Wow, just let that sink in for a second. People would rather get audited by the IRS than call up Comcast to deal with a faulty cable modem. Also, they are consistently given terrible ratings by every consumer advocate organization across the board.

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Eclipse System.out.println Java function

Eclipse System.out.println shortcut for Windows, Mac, and Linux

Ever since I wrote a post detailing a few important keyboard shortcuts in Eclipse last summer, I’ve been getting a surprising amount of search engine traffic all looking for one shortcut in particular: System.out.println(). Since this is such an important shortcut to know for debugging or writing Java in general, I decided to break it out into its own post.

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FileZilla – Easily edit files on a remote server with your favorite local editor

FileZilla is a great free and open source FTP client. As far as standalone FTP clients go, I’d be willing to bet that it’s the most widely used client of it’s type. Without the data to back that up, I’d only assume it based on how many times I’ve seen it used by universities, companies, and freelance developers.

While being relatively straightforward, FileZilla is pretty feature rich, even including the ability to edit files remotely using your favorite local, GUI text editor. That’s what I’ll show in this article.

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Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 11.39.45 PM

Learn the one weird CSS trick that THEY don’t want you to know about!

Web Developers HATE him! Code maintainers CAN’T STAND him!

In all seriousness though, I’ve just stumbled across a great CSS hack that I couldn’t help but share. I was working on a WordPress site for a client, and I had almost gotten everything lined up perfectly, when suddenly I ran into a snag. For whatever reason, a div was getting a strange padding value hardcoded onto it somewhere along the line, using inline CSS. Now in my mind, inline CSS is the end all be all of CSS, so there was no way to get around this strange issue without delving into some custom Javascript or finding the core issue in the theme or WordPress itself. There’s nothing that can override inline CSS code, right?

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