Five short links

Photo by Nick P

Is teaching MapReduce healthy? – The working conditions inside Hadoop are terrible, but it's rapidly becoming the default for large-scale data processing. Does that mean students should learn the MapReduce approach? It feels a lot like the debates over teaching ugly, confusing, widely-used C/C++ versus beautiful, elegant but niche functional languages, and which should come first in the curriculum. This article gave me some fantastic glimpses into the wider world of distributed frameworks and techniques, and left me itching to try Bloom.

Amazon comments on Spot price spikes – A refreshingly detailed and open response from a large company. I'm disappointed that the prices have suddenly become so volatile though, since that severely limits the places I can use them.

PhantomJS – A WebKit based headless browser, lighter-weight than Selenium and driven by Javascript. I hope I get a chance to use this, and that they can sever the vestigial dependency on X windows soon. My main use case would be generating screenshots.

Teaching data to speak humanely – Looking at the Facebook timeline, and how old metaphors of interaction disappear as the interface gets closer to the content.

Pictures of the Big Bang – Gorgeous snapshots of our universe's very first moments, courtesy of a computer simulation:


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