Apocalypse-Proof - 33 Thomas Street
A windowless telecommunications hub, 33 Thomas Street in New York City embodies an architecture of surveillance and paranoia. That has made it an ideal set for conspiracy thrillers.
When it was completed in Lower Manhattan in 1974, 33 Thomas Street, formerly known as the AT&T Long Lines Building, was intended as the world’s largest facility for connecting long-distance telephone calls. 1 Standing 532 feet — roughly equivalent to a 45-story building — it’s a mugshot for Brutalism, windowless and nearly featureless. Its only apertures are a series of ventilation hoods meant to hide microwave-satellite arrays, which communicate with ground-based relay stations and satellites in space. One of several long lines buildings designed by John Carl Warnecke for the New York Telephone Company, a subsidiary of AT&T, 33 Thomas Street is perhaps the most visually striking project in the architect’s long and influential career. Embodying postwar American economic and military hegemony, the tower broadcasts inscrutability and imperviousness. It was conceived, according to the architect, to be a “skyscraper inhabited by machines.”
Utopia to blight: Surviving in Henry Ford’s lost jungle town
Nearly a century ago, the Ford Motor Co. spent heavily in blood and coin to construct what became, practically overnight, one of the Amazon’s largest cities. Thousands of acres of forest were razed. Millions of dollars were spent. Hundreds of workers died.
But neither Ford nor the Brazilian government, which assumed control of the property when the company departed in 1945, has done much of anything to preserve this historic town whose brief heyday came at so high a cost. William Clay Ford Jr., Henry’s great-grandson and now the company’s executive chairman, reportedly supported in 1997 the opening of a rubber museum here, but nothing came of it. Meanwhile, the Brazilian government, according to federal attorneys, has for more than 30 years ignored pleas to endow the town with historical protections.
Culture eats policy
There’s a convenient punching bag for many of these failures: outdated government technology, and outdated approaches to tech by the bureaucracy. But try to fix that through policy change and you’ll find it’s turtles all the way down. The levers leaders use to fix tech are the same ones they use to steer the economy, improve government-funded healthcare, manage immigration, and even strengthen our national defense. We increase budgets, cut budgets, make new rules, and hold hearings, but the tools we use to fix our tools aren’t working either.
The people on this project knew quite well that using this ESB was a terrible idea. They’d have been relieved to just throw it out, plug in the simple protocol, and move on. But they couldn’t. It was a requirement in their contract. The contracting officers had required it because a policy document called the Air Force Enterprise Architecture had required it. The Air Force Enterprise Architecture required it because the Department of Defense Enterprise Architecture required it. And the DoD Enterprise Architecture required it because the Federal Enterprise Architecture, written by the Chief Information Officers Council, convened by the White House at the request of Congress, had required it. Was it really possible that this project was delayed indefinitely, racking up cost overruns in the billions, because Congress has ordered the executive branch to specify something as small and technical as an ESB?
Jack beat them all, winning the contest and demonstrating not only his enormous skills in securing critical national security systems, but an incredible enthusiasm for serving his country. He was a dream candidate, and the Defense Digital Service (DDS), the team that had sponsored the Hack the Pentagon contest, encouraged Jack to apply for a job. But the resume Jack submitted described his experience developing “mobile applications in IonicJS, mobile applications using Angular, and APIs using Node.js, MongoDB, npm, Express gulp, and Babel”. This would have given a technical manager a good sense of the range of his skills, but no one technical reviewed his resume. DoD’s hiring protocols, like those of most agencies, required that it be reviewed by an HR staffer with a background in government hiring rules, not technology. The staffer saw what looked like a grab bag of gobbledygook and tried to match it to the job description, which required “experience that demonstrated accomplishment of computer-project assignments that required a wide range of knowledge of computer requirements and techniques pertinent to the position to be filled.” The fact that he’d just beat out 600 other security researchers meant nothing. His resume was deemed “not minimally qualified” and didn’t make the first cut.
the door close button
Elevator control panels have long featured two buttons labeled “door open” and “door close.” One of these buttons does pretty much what it says on the label (although I understand that European elevators sometimes have a separate “door hold” button for the most common use of “door open“). The other usually doesn’t seem to, and that has lead to a minor internet phenomenon. Here’s the problem: the internet is wrong, and I am here to set it right.
Vigilantes for views: The YouTube pranksters harassing suspected scam callers in India
Los Angeles-based Trilogy Media took “scambaiting” to a new level, but some claim they’re gaining viral fame at others’ expense.
Trilogy’s pursuit of vigilante justice has proved a hit with their many fans, whom they refer to as “the squad.” But for some, their antics lay bare an uncomfortable power dynamic in which YouTubers in Los Angeles gain viral fame at the expense of Indian call center workers, physically harassing people whose situation they may know little about.
What's new in CPUs since the 80s?
Everything below refers to x86 and linux, unless otherwise indicated. History has a tendency to repeat itself, and a lot of things that were new to x86 were old hat to supercomputing, mainframe, and workstation folks.
x86 chips have picked up a lot of new features and whiz-bang gadgets.
Overall, a pretty good introduction to modern CPUs, performance, and concurrency.
The games Nintendo didn't want you to play: Tengen
Recently, I took a look at Nintendo’s MMC line of mappers, and some other boards. All boards for the NES’ western releases had to be manufactured by Nintendo, and so they generally met certain standards set by Nintendo. But these rules were enforced by technology, not by law. And the company that had previously killed the American game industry decided to break those rules. Madness? No. This… is Tengen.
Lots of custom cartridges here.
Some additional info: https://hackmii.com/2010/01/the-weird-and-wonderful-cic/
It’s Time to Stop Talking About “Generations”
From boomers to zoomers, the concept gets social history all wrong.
Generics can make your Go code slower
Go 1.18 is here, and with it, the first release of the long-awaited implementation of Generics is finally ready for production usage. Generics are a frequently requested feature that has been highly contentious throughout the Go community. On the one side, vocal detractors worry about the added complexity. They fear the inescapable evolution of Go towards either a verbose and Enterprisey Java-lite with Generic Factories or, most terrifyingly, a degenerate HaskellScript that replaces ifs with Monads. In all fairness, both these fears may be overblown. On the other side, proponents of generics believe that they are a critical feature to implement clean and reusable code at scale.
This blog post does not take sides in that debate, or advise where and when to use Generics in Go. Instead, this blog post is about the third side of the generics conundrum: It’s about systems engineers who are not excited about generics per se, but about monomorphization and its performance implications. There are dozens of us! Dozens! And we’re all due for some serious disappointment.
Two new color spaces for color picking
Picking colors is a common operation in many applications and over the years color pickers have become fairly standardized. Ubiquitous today are color pickers based on HSL and HSV. They are simple transformations of RGB values to alternative coordinates chosen to better correlate with perceptual qualities.
Is their dominance well deserved or would it be possible to create better alternatives? I at least think that this question deserves to be explored and that color picker design should be an active research topic. With this post I hope to contribute to the exploration of what a better color picker could and should be, and hopefully inspire others to do the same!
Washington is a city of great bridges and terrible bridges. These are their stories.
No One Is Prepared for Hagfish Slime
It expands by 10,000 times in a fraction of a second, it’s 100,000 times softer than Jell-O, and it fends off sharks and Priuses alike.
Decades-Long Quest Reveals Details of the Proton’s Inner Antimatter
Twenty years ago, physicists set out to investigate a mysterious asymmetry in the proton’s interior. Their results, published today, show how antimatter helps stabilize every atom’s core.
We learn in school that a proton is a bundle of three elementary particles called quarks — two “up” quarks and a “down” quark, whose electric charges (+2/3 and −1/3, respectively) combine to give the proton its charge of +1. But that simplistic picture glosses over a far stranger, as-yet-unresolved story.
In reality, the proton’s interior swirls with a fluctuating number of six kinds of quarks, their oppositely charged antimatter counterparts (antiquarks), and “gluon” particles that bind the others together, morph into them and readily multiply. Somehow, the roiling maelstrom winds up perfectly stable and superficially simple — mimicking, in certain respects, a trio of quarks.
People Are Worried About Payment for Order Flow
Okay let’s do payment for order flow again, because people are talking about it and that always stresses me out. Here’s an intuitive description of how it works.
Exploring the Supply Chain of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines
The following text is a collection of notes I wrote down while exploring the process for manufacturing and distributing the two new vaccines that have appeared all over the news and in more and more people’s arms over the recent weeks. I started reading about mRNA but quickly found myself on tangents about glass vials and temperature tracking devices.
How NAT traversal works
We covered a lot of ground in our post about How Tailscale Works. However, we glossed over how we can get through NATs (Network Address Translators) and connect your devices directly to each other, no matter what’s standing between them. Let’s talk about that now!
The 8th Wonder Of The World
In exchange for billions in tax subsidies, Foxconn was supposed to build an enormous LCD factory in the tiny village of Mount Pleasant, creating 13,000 jobs. Three years later, the factory — and the jobs — don’t exist, and they probably never will. Inside the empty promises and empty buildings of Wisconn Valley.
Reverse Engineering the source code of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine
In this post, we’ll be taking a character-by-character look at the source code of the BioNTech/Pfizer SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccine.
Now, these words may be somewhat jarring - the vaccine is a liquid that gets injected in your arm. How can we talk about source code? This is a good question, so let’s start off with a small part of the very source code of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, also known as BNT162b2, also known as Tozinameran also known as Comirnaty.
A Cryptologic Mystery
Did a broken random number generator in Cuba help expose a Russian espionage network?
I remember concluding that the most likely, if still rather improbable, explanation was that the 9-less messages were dummy fill traffic and that the random number generator used to create the messages had a bug or developed a defect that prevented 9s from being included. This would be, to say the least, a very serious error, since it would allow a listener to easily distinguish fill traffic from real traffic, completely negating the benefit of having fill traffic in the first place. It would open the door to exactly the kind of traffic analysis that the system was carefully engineered to thwart. The 9-less messages went on for almost ten years. (If I were reporting this as an Internet vulnerability, I would dub it the “Nein Nines” attack; please forgive the linguistic muddle). But I was resigned to the likelihood that I would never know for sure.
How Toxic Fumes Seep Into The Air You Breathe On Planes
The air you breathe on airplanes comes directly from the jet engines. Known as bleed air, it is safe, unless there is a mechanical issue — a faulty seal, for instance. When that happens, heated jet engine oil can leak into the air supply, potentially releasing toxic gases into the plane.
For decades, the airline industry and its regulators have known about these incidents — called fume events — and have maintained that they are rare and that the toxic chemical levels are too low to pose serious health risks.
And yet there’s a lot of pushback to measuring just how bad the problem is.