Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Advertising Is A Bubble

The surveillance economy, and thus the stratospheric valuations of:
Facebook and Alphabet (Google’s parent), which rely on advertising for, respectively, 97% and 88% of their sales.
depend on the idea that targeted advertising, exploiting as much personal information about users as possible, results in enough increased sales to justify its cost.This is despite the fact the both experimental research and the experience of major publishers and advertisers show the opposite. Now, The new dot com bubble is here: it’s called online advertising by Jesse Frederik and Maurits Martijn provides an explanation for this disconnect. Follow me below the fold to find out about it and enjoy some wonderful quotes from them.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Library of Congress Storage Architecture Meeting

.The Library of Congress has finally posted the presentations from the 2019 Designing Storage Architectures for Digital Collections workshop that took place in early September, I've greatly enjoyed the earlier editions of this meeting, so I was sorry I couldn't make it this time. Below the fold, I look at some of the presentations.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Bitcoin's Lightning Network

Discussions of cryptocurrencies and other blockchain technologies are bedeviled by a nearly universal assumption that attributes that are possible to achieve in theory are guaranteed to be realized in practice. Examples include decentralization and anonymity.

Back in June David Gerard asked:
How good a business is running a Lightning Network node? LNBig provides 49.6% ($3.7 million in bitcoins) of the Lightning Network’s total channel liquidity funding — that just sits there, locked in the channels until they’re closed. They see 300 transactions a day, for total earnings on that $3.7 million of … $20 a month. They also spent $1000 in channel-opening fees.
Even if the Lightning Network worked (which it doesn't), and were decentralized (which it isn't), Gerard's point was that the transaction fees were woefully inadequate to cover the costs of running a node. Now, A Cryptoeconomic Traffic Analysis of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network by the Hungarian team of Ferenc Béres, István A. Seres, and András A. Benczúr supports Gerard's conclusion with a detailed analysis.

Below the fold, some commentary.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Bunnie Huang's Betrusted Project

The awesome Bunnie Huang asks Can We Build Trustable Hardware? It is a fascinating approach to the problem I discussed in Securing The Hardware Supply Chain:
how we can know that the hardware the software we secured is running on is doing what we expect it to?
Bunnie's experience has made him very skeptical of the integrity of the hardware supply chain:
In the process of making chips, I’ve also edited masks for chips; chips are surprisingly malleable, even post tape-out. I’ve also spent a decade wrangling supply chains, dealing with fakes, shoddy workmanship, undisclosed part substitutions – there are so many opportunities and motivations to swap out “good” chips for “bad” ones. Even if a factory could push out a perfectly vetted computer, you’ve got couriers, customs officials, and warehouse workers who can tamper the machine before it reaches the user.
Below the fold, some discussion of Bunnie's current project.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Web Packaging for Web Archiving

Supporting Web Archiving via Web Packaging by Sawood Alam, Michele C Weigle, Michael L Nelson, Martin Klein, and Herbert Van de Sompel is their position paper for the Internet Architecture Board's ESCAPE workshop (Exploring Synergy between Content Aggregation and the Publisher Ecosystem). It describes the considerable potential importance of Web Packaging, the topic of the workshop, for Web archiving, but also the problems it poses because, like the Web before Memento, it ignores the time dimension.

Source: Frederic Filloux
Despite living in the heart of Silicon Valley, our home Internet connection is 3M/1Mbit DSL from Sonic; we love our ISP and I refuse to do business with AT&T or Comcast. As you can imagine, the speed with which Web pages load has been a topic of particular interest for this blog, for example here and here. (which starts from a laugh-out-loud, must-read post from Maciej Cegłowski). Then, three years ago, Frederic Filloux's Bloated HTML, the best and the worse triggered my rant Fighting the Web Flab:
Filloux continues:
In due fairness, this cataract of code loads very fast on a normal connection.
His "normal" connection must be much faster than my home's 3Mbit/s DSL. But then the hope kicks in:
The Guardian technical team was also the first one to devise a solid implementation of Google's new Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) format. In doing so, it eliminated more than 80% of the original code, making it blazingly fast on a mobile device.
Great, but AMP is still 20 bytes of crud for each byte of content. What's the word for 20 times faster than "blazingly"?
Web Packaging is a response to:
In recent years, a number of proprietary formats have been defined to enable aggregators of news and other articles to republish Web resources; for example, Google’s AMP, Facebook’s Instant Articles, Baidu’s MIP, and Apple’s News Format.
Below the fold I look into the history that got us to this point, and where we may be going.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Meta: Blog On Hiatus

I'm not going to be able to blog for a short while, probably a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

737 MAX: The Case Against Boeing

The title of Alec McGillis' The Case Against Boeing is misleading. Samya Stumo, one of the victims of the second 737 MAX crash was the daughter of a niece of Ralph Nader:
They were the first American family to sue Boeing, accusing the company of gross negligence and recklessness.
McGillis certainly does discuss some of the ways the culture of Douglas led to Boeing's malfeasance, including blaming the pilots:
Boeing seemed to believe that pilot error had caused the crash. In its response to an initial Indonesian government report, it highlighted the contrasting reactions of the crew on the doomed flight and the crew the day before, saying that the pilots on the second day had not followed the standard “runaway trim” procedures.
But that's not really what the article is about. Follow me below the fold as I try to tease out the real story McGillis tells, and then add more news on the topic.