Downloading software safely is nearly impossible – I’m resigned to the fact that a determined-enough attacker can access my data, since at the end of the day there’s always duct tape and rusty pliers, but the size of the holes in the stack we have to trust to get our hands on software is still painful to behold. See the followup too.
Bulk whois data – If you ask them nicely, ARIN will send you a complete dump of all their whois contact information, or you can buy it with no questions asked from a third-party supplier. More data that we theoretically know is public, but that becomes more problematic when it’s available en masse.
Dog poop, Facebook, and optimism – In the computer world we’re uncovering all sorts of interesting insights into hidden aspects of humanity, but we haven’t been able to get them into the hands of all the sociologists, historians, planners, aid workers, medical researchers et al who can really use them. I’m hoping Nicholas Christakis’s Human Nature Lab at Yale will bridge some of that gap, I’m very interested to see what emerges.
Potato programming – Even though I’m not a fan overall, I still learned a lot from my forays into functional programming. I almost always never mutate values after I’ve assigned them, and I find code a lot cleaner when I can avoid lower-level for loop constructs in favor of something like a map or each. I just ran across this term for the clunky code that explicit looping produces, and it’s a memorable way of describing the one-potato, two-potato anti-pattern.
Verification handbook – This is a free handbook aimed at helping reporters separate rumor from fact when news is breaking, but it’s just as useful for readers of journalism. There are so many more sources of information these days that responsible citizens in a modern society have to be able to intelligently question what they’re being told.