Flush and reload cache attack – An attack on a common encryption program, using only cache manipulation to figure out exactly which code paths are being executed, and so what the secret inputs are. There are so many obscure ways for information to leak out from any complex system.
How to build effective heatmaps – There’s no objective way to build a heatmap. Every way of turning discrete points into gradients on a map emphasizes different features of the data, and this discussion has a great overview of the most common techniques.
Overly-honest social science – Worth quoting in depth: “Good social scientific practice should be about acknowledging the weaknesses of the methods used: not to reward sloppiness, but to highlight what really goes on; to reassure novice researchers that real world research often is messy; or to improve on current methods and find ways to do things better. Better in this case does not necessarily mean less subjective, but it does mean more transparent, and usually more rigorous. The publication of mistakes is a necessary part of this process.”
Visualizing historical map data – I’ve been very impressed with CartoDB, and this is a great example of how powerful it can be. The author uses uncommon names to track New Yorker’s movements between the 1839 and 1854 censuses.
America’s artificial heartland – The prose is purpler than an eggplant, and a bit hard to swallow, but there’s something thought-provoking about this analysis. He paints a world where we industrialize farming beyond recognition, and then compensate with a lot of expensive theater at the places where we buy our food.