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Firefox → Yahoo

This is a mistake. Firefox is already losing mindshare in Silicon Valley, partly because there seems to be a widespread perception that Chrome is just faster than Firefox, but the power-user features of Firefox don't seem to have enough appeal. Firefox switching to Yahoo for search will cement the impression that Firefox is to browsers what Yahoo is to search, that is, a distance second (third?) place. In practice, Firefox is a superb browser for lots of reasons, but its victory is far from guaranteed.

Let's Encrypt

The announcement about Let's Encrypt is probably the most important security announcment in the past few years. The current regime makes deploying certificates that won't give users huge warnings an expensive proposition. Let's Encrypt will not only make the setup process easier, but will also distribute signed certificates free of charge, which drastically lowers the barriers to entry. You can read more over on Alex Halderman's blog.

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo is clearly an indicator of where tech is heading. Having bought and used a Kindle Fire, however, I have little faith in Amazon's ability to deliver quality software for voice recognition, which is the core feature of the Echo. Google is the clear leader there, and Google's ability to recognize proper nouns correctly is excellent (probably due to Knowledge Graph). As usual, though, Amazon got the pricing right.

There are a few competing models for decentalizing the web. Unhosted is really interesting to me, but I have doubts that folks will sign up for something like 5apps and plugin into it from a bunch of unhosted apps.

On the other hand, running your own server is cumbersome. I think Sandstorm is addressing the core of the problem really well, and I'm looking forward to see some businesses pop up that offer Sandstorm hosting. The team behind Sandstorm has a lot of momentum and fabulous credibility. I'm on board.

Software Estimates

My own experience of software estimation has never been so accurately captured. This insight is central:

And the problem is that, hidden in the parts you don’t fully understand when you start, there are often these problems that will explode and just utterly screw you.

Moving From Wordpress

Etherplex has run on Wordpress for years, but got compromised earlier today, which I thought was as good a time as any to move to a new platform. I'll be migrating content as time permits. Stay tuned!

NSA targets U.S. Privacy Advocates

Wired reports that the NSA targets U.S. citizens that visit sites that promote privacy:

"The code, a tool called Xkeyscore, “fingerprints,” or marks for further investigation, users who access privacy services such as Tor, Tails, HotSpotShield, FreeNet, Centurian, and Linux Journal, a monthly magazine about the open-source operating system (which the NSA labeled as an “extremist forum” for advocating for privacy services use), reports Wired."

via Harvard Journal of Law and Technology

The Nameless Man

You say you are a nameless man. You are not to your wife and to your child. You will not long remain so to your immediate colleagues if you can answer their simple questions when they come into your office. You are not nameless to me. Do not remain nameless to yourself - it is too sad a way to be. Know your place in the world and evaluate yourself fairly, not in terms of your naive ideals of your own youth, nor in terms of what you erroneously imagine your teacher's ideals are.

Richard Feynman

Worthwhile Problems

The worthwhile problems are the ones you can really solve or help solve, the ones you can really contribute something to. A problem is grand in science if it lies before us unsolved and we see some way for us to make some headway into it. I would advise you to take even simpler, or as you say, humbler, problems until you find some you can really solve easily, no matter how trivial. You will get the pleasure of success, and of helping your fellow man, even if it is only to answer a question in the mind of a colleague less able than you. You must not take away from yourself these pleasures because you have some erroneous idea of what is worthwhile.

Richard Feynman