Daily Tech Digest - February 16, 2022

Metaverse: Making it a universe for all

With a lot of speculation and little clarity about how it will work, technology companies and governments are only starting to invest in the concept. However, these investments and innovations continue to be riddled with the same concerns that various social scientists and philosophers have been asking of the promises made by the internet and social media. Set off to “democratise the good and disrupt the bad”, the internet has actively helped in the creation of international monopolies holding powers more than governments of nations. Although it has brought immense information to our fingertips, gatekeepers of knowledge still continue to profit by encouraging exclusion, our social relationships have taken a back-seat as we become increasingly affected with our identities online, and many vulnerable groups are left behind due to infrastructural inaccessibility to phones, laptops, computers, and the internet. As the world speculates to step in the metaverse in the next decade, these same questions come to the fore.

How to manage software developers without micromanaging

If software developers detest micromanaging, many have a stronger contempt for yearly performance reviews. Developers target real-time performance objectives and aim to improve velocity, code deployment frequency, cycle times, and other key performance indicators. Scrum teams discuss their performance at the end of every sprint, so the feedback from yearly and quarterly performance reviews can seem superfluous or irrelevant. But there’s also the practical reality that organizations require methods to recognize whether agile teams and software developers meet or exceed performance, development, and business objectives. How can managers get what they need without making developers miserable? What follows are seven recommended practices that align with principles in agile, scrum, devops, and the software development lifecycle and that could be applied to reviewing software developers. I don’t write them as SMART goals, but leaders should adopt the relevant ones as such based on the organization’s agile ways of working and business objectives.

Neuralink: Elon Musk's brain implant firm refutes animal abuse claims

The complaint centers on the care provided to test monkeys during and after implant and removal procedures at UC Davis. PCRM alleges that Neuralink and UC Davis staff failed to provide monkeys with adequate veterinary care, used an unapproved substance called BioGlue that killed monkeys in the experiments, and euthanized several monkeys. Details of the monkies' conditions were revealed in documents released by the university after PCRM filed a public records lawsuit in 2021. Neuralink says that during the 2.5 years at UC Davis, its tests were only conducted on cadavers or "terminal procedures", which involved the "humane euthanasia of an anesthetized animal at the completion of the surgery." "The initial work from these procedures allowed us to develop our novel surgical and robot procedures, establishing safer protocols for subsequent survival surgeries," the company says. During survival studies, Neuralink says two animals were euthanized at planned dates and six animals were euthanized at the medical advice of UC Davis veterinary staff.

Creating a more sustainable IT department

Technical debt requires more infrastructure, which results in more and more carbon emissions. In addition, technical debt requires more manual processes. For example, if we have three different ERP systems that are not integrated, it takes more manual effort just to extract the reports for financial reporting, which results in more paperwork. Technical debt accumulation results in much more latency in processes, much more manual effort, much more infrastructure -- and all that adds to our carbon footprint. Because of that we in the technology group also have an eye toward not accumulating net new technical debt. We do that, in part, by looking at how we manage our vendors so we don't end up buying similar products [for different areas of the business] as well as how we introduce new technologies into our ecosystem to avoid duplication and to ensure they can scale across the organization. ... Continued hybrid and flexible working options for our employees also helps us support reduced emissions because employees don't have to commute. We have also implemented our own business systems management platform that facilitates hot-desking in the workplace.

How Dutch hackers are working to make the internet safe

However happy the foundation was with the donation, it did lead to a slight panic. “It was just before the turn of the year, the term ‘wealth tax’ came up, so we hastily set up a fund and found an administration office to handle the annual accounts,” says Van ’t Hof. This accelerated the professionalisation of the foundation. A new structure was set up, with DIVD as the fundamental institute. “Victor Gevers was the chairman of that before, but because we wanted a different structure, that stopped and we had to look for a director. Surprisingly, everyone pointed in my direction. I took on that task,” says Van ’t Hof. Under the flag of the DIVD Institute is the fund that is meant to bundle all subsidies, donations and other money flows. “From that fund, we can finance projects that contribute to a safer internet,” explains the DIVD director. To give shape to the global ambition, a separate foundation was also set up, CSIRT.global, of which Eward Driehuis is in charge. “That foundation will set up departments in other countries so that volunteer hackers there can also help to scan and report,” says Van ’t Hof.

How to Run a Cassandra Operation in Docker

Containers thrive in a world of modern applications that demand faster delivery, better portability and seamless scalability. Gartner predicts that by 2022, more than 75% of global organizations will be running containerized applications in production. The steam behind this growing trend is none other than Docker. Docker is an open source containerization platform that lets developers package applications into containers that include everything they need to run in different environments. For enterprises, however, it can be tricky to manage individual Docker containers at scale, giving way to the popular container orchestration platform: Kubernetes (K8s). In short, Kubernetes makes it easy to deploy, manage and scale containers — and is the dominant orchestration platform used in enterprises today. This makes learning Kubernetes a must for every budding application developer; but first, you need to understand containers and Docker. In this Cassandra Operations in Docker workshop, you’ll become familiar with Docker and learn how to deploy a cloud native application in containers.

MIT Develops New Programming Language for High-Performance Computers

The ATL project combines two of the main research interests of Ragan-Kelley and Chlipala. Ragan-Kelley has long been concerned with the optimization of algorithms in the context of high-performance computing. Chlipala, meanwhile, has focused more on the formal (as in mathematically-based) verification of algorithmic optimizations. This represents their first collaboration. Bernstein and Liu were brought into the enterprise last year, and ATL is the result. It now stands as the first, and so far the only, tensor language with formally verified optimizations. Liu cautions, however, that ATL is still just a prototype — albeit a promising one — that’s been tested on a number of small programs. “One of our main goals, looking ahead, is to improve the scalability of ATL, so that it can be used for the larger programs we see in the real world,” she says. In the past, optimizations of these programs have typically been done by hand, on a much more ad hoc basis, which often involves trial and error, and sometimes a good deal of error. 

Goal-Driven Kanban

Adopting goal-driven Kanban was done in one team. Initially, the team used Scrum. Due to the nature of the business, the team had a significant percentage of tasks that were dependent on other teams and various stakeholders and thus the team continuously was not able to complete them in time. Naturally, this caused frustration, and the team decided to switch to Kanban. This cured the issue but over time, the team members started feeling that they work as a “feature factory”. They were missing challenges. Thus Goal-Driven Kanban was born. After receiving management support and agreement with Product Management, the team chose their first goal. It immediately revealed the need to re-plan other features and tasks since the team had to re-focus on the agreed goal. It required rough estimation of the goal, understanding of the team capacity and further agreements with stakeholders. While working on the goal the team had to tackle various challenges, because the bar was high and the team had to all work together doing overall design and development.

A product manager’s guide to web3

Many PMs develop skills like “communication” and “influence” at larger organizations, or even startups where they need to work closely with founders and rally overworked teams. This makes sense because persuasion and coordination have been core to the web2 PM job. Those skills don’t matter as much here. Web3 PM is more focused on execution and community—like signing a big new protocol partner or getting tons of anon users via Twitter. In web2 I was afraid to tweet much, for professional consequences. Now I’d be untrustworthy if I didn’t tweet a lot. Making a viral meme is more important than writing a good email. That is because getting positive attention in the frenetic world of web3 is more valuable than “alignment.” ... Web3 moves too quickly for pontification; new protocols launch daily and DeFi concepts like bonding curves and OHM forks are being tested in real time, so visions and strategies quickly become outdated. This may change over time as the space matures and product vision becomes more of a competitive advantage.

NIST releases software, IoT, and consumer cybersecurity labeling guidance

The order asked NIST to produce guidance for federal agency staff who have software procurement-related responsibilities and is intended to help federal agency staff know what information to request from software producers regarding their secure software development practices. The new NIST document spells out minimum recommendations for federal agencies to follow as they acquire software or a product containing software. The order also directed NIST to define actions or outcomes for software producers, such as commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) product vendors, government-off-the-shelf software developers, contractors, and other custom software developers. ... NIST notes that its guidance is limited to federal agency procurement of software, which includes firmware, operating systems, applications, and application services, as well as products containing software. Software developed by federal agencies is out of scope, as is open-source software freely and directly obtained by federal agencies.

Quote for the day:

"Leadership is liberating people to do what is required of them in the most effective and humane way possible." -- Max DePree

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