Archive for April 30, 2014

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

1Password Watchtower

Agile Bits:

Earlier this month, we introduced our new Watchtower service on the web. In its initial version, Watchtower checks whether a website is (or ever was) vulnerable to the internet’s nasty Heartbleed security bug, then tells you whether it’s safe to update your password.

Now we’ve taken the next major step and made it much easier to stay secure online, as Watchtower can now check all your Logins at once, right inside 1Password for Mac.

Great idea for protecting people from Heartbleed, but I’m finding it annoying to use because there’s no obvious way to tell it which sites’ passwords have already been changed. It also reports some sites such as PayPal as requiring a password change, though they’ve been reported elsewhere to be unaffected.

17 Services for Hosting and Business

Manton Reece:

While doing our taxes this month, I was a little surprised just how much I spend for various web apps and services to help run Riverfold. While I could trim some of them, most are essential and save a lot of time. I thought it would be interesting to write up some of the most important ones.

That’s a lot. Of these, I’m using and recommend Amazon Web Services (Glacier, SES, and S3), DreamHost (VPS), and FogBugz.

Facebook Makes Mercurial Faster Than Git

Alex Blewitt:

Two specific changes have enabled Facebook to use Mercurial for their repository size; modifying the status updates for files to check for specific file changes as opposed to content changes (by hooking into operating system's list of file changes) and modifying the checkout to give a lightweight or shallow clone without needing the full history state.

Normally, a distributed version control system will generate hashes based on the content of data, rather than timestamp. As a result, computing whether a repository has changes often involves scanning through every file calculating hashes for each to determine whether the file's content is different. By limiting the set of files to check to ones that the operating system has reported as having changed since the last scan, the speed is proportional to the number of files whose timestamp has changed, instead of all files in the current workspace. Git tries to reduce this by running lstat to determine file specific information, but still has to walk through every file in the repository in order to determine if they are changed. By asking the operating system to provide the information, the repository can be optimised to only scan those files that the OS reports as having changed.

Update (2014-05-05): Fred McCann:

Asking why does Facebook need a single source tree is the wrong question. Facebook’s process is to treat the codebase as a single thing, so they made tools that supported their process. Same with Google. When the Jenkins project had headaches with Git, I took exception with the criticism that the project should modify its process to better work with Git. That’s backwards thinking.

Update (2015-10-21): Previously: Git at Facebook Scale.

The Absurdity of LinkedIn

Darren Nix:

So I popped up an incognito window and loaded the same URL. Voila, the full profile. It seems LinkedIn has decided that its optimal strategy is to punish registered users.

The Origin of Smalltalk’s Select, Reject, and Inject

Göran Krampe (via Karsten Kusche):

There is a funny story about these verbs. Martin McClure told me at ESUG in Brest to ask Dan Ingalls about it, hinting that they are “inspired” by a famous song.

BASIC at 50


At 4 a.m. on May 1, 1964, in the basement of College Hall, Professor John Kemeny and a student programmer simultaneously typed RUN on neighboring terminals. When they both got back correct answers to their simple programs, time-sharing and BASIC were born.

Kemeny, who later became Dartmouth’s 13th president, Professor Tom Kurtz, and a number of undergraduate students worked together to revolutionize computing with the introduction of time-sharing and the BASIC programming language. Their innovations made computing accessible to all Dartmouth students and faculty, and soon after, to people across the nation and the world.

Harry McCracken (via Jim Matthews):

The thinking that led to the creation of BASIC sprung from “a general belief on Kemeny’s part that liberal arts education was important, and should include some serious and significant mathematics–but math not disconnected from the general goals of liberal arts education,” says Dan Rockmore, the current chairman of Dartmouth’s math department and one of the producers of a new documentary on BASIC’s birth. (It’s premiering at Dartmouth’s celebration of BASIC’s 50th anniversary this Wednesday.)


By letting non-computer scientists use BASIC running on the DTSS, Kemeny, Kurtz and their collaborators had invented something that was arguably the first real form of personal computing.

I’m not sure when the documentary will be publicly available, but I highly recommend it.

Update (2014-05-05): Steve Wozniak:

I first experienced BASIC in high school that same year. We didn’t have a computer in the school but GE, I think, brought in a terminal with modem to promote their time-sharing business. A very few of we bright math students were given some pages of instruction and we wrote some very simple programs in BASIC. I saw that this was a very simple and easy-to learn language to start with, but that terminal was only in our school for a few days.