Daily Tech Digest - October 15, 2022

Australia becoming hotbed for cyber attacks

“Cyber criminals are targeting the personal data of Australians for financial gain – to sell, to hold to ransom, or to commit financial fraud and scams,” said Reinhart Hansen, director of technology at Imperva’s CTO office. “During the pandemic, many organisations inadvertently created more opportunities for these bad actors. Many rushed their online implementations and transformation projects, taking shortcuts that left them vulnerable to exploitation. “Now we’re seeing a large uptick in common, off-the-shelf and automated type attacks that hackers are continuously recycling and using against Australian targets,” he added. Hansen noted that threat actors have also been looking for known weaknesses and vulnerabilities in applications and application programming interfaces (APIs) to gain access to the data repositories that sit behind them. “Their ultimate aim is to exfiltrate data at scale that will allow them to build citizen profiles that are used as the basis of their illegal activity,” he said. The most heavily targeted industries in Australia were financial, retail and business services. 

To Recruit and Retain a Strong Team, Live the Culture You Talk About

As leaders, if we talk about communication and expect people to follow, that communication needs to start with me. We need to be open to it, like lanes of fluid traffic in both directions, not stocked up silos hoarding information for ourselves. I need to communicate what will happen to my team and stay open to taking their feedback. ... We look for similar values when building personal relationships, but this idea is more difficult as a company. I may not expect everyone to share the same politics, but I expect team alignment around certain values. We should all acknowledge the importance of diversity and respect the humanity of each other. We should share a sense of optimism for the company and a desire to contribute to its growth. As leaders, we need to live the story we tell when a great contributor to our team crosses the line. When the behavior is illegal, that decision is a little easier, but determining when behavior crosses an immoral or unethical line can be in the eye of the beholder. However, if something is clearly over the line in my or my employees' minds, I need to take action and be consistent about those opinions.

Waterfall won the war with Agile!

The dream of a decentralised democratic organisation with low atrophy that can swiftly respond to the needs of our markets is not a pipe dream. To do so we need to shift from an Alpha model for business to a Beta model. However, we continuously allow Alpha to prevail. The focus of agile on the decentralised dream failed because we allowed it to. We, and by we I mean agile practitioners, allowed and continue to allow organisations to believe that they don't have to really change, that this is just a team thing, and to keep the departments and the steering committees and yearly budgets. We are complicit in these continued malformed practices. ... We need to reshape our focus from sustaining the Alpha models to keep people complacent and happy to challenging them and actively promoting Beta models and practices that work in those models. We already have the building blocks to do this in the Agile Manifesto, the Scrum Guide, the Kanban Guide, the Nexus Guide, LESS, Scrum@Scale, and many more. What we need to add is the tools that we need to change the organisation; changing teams is easy.

Making product inclusion and equity a core part of tech

I think the world has had a reckoning over the past two years, with many candid conversations kicking off. There’s been a lot of vulnerability and accountability, frankly, around making sure that people have inclusive and equitable experiences across the board in everything they do. When product teams start to think about product inclusion and equity, I talk to them about the “curb cut effect.” The curb cut in sidewalks was originally made in the ‘70s for wheelchair users, but we all use it now, whether it’s people with skateboards, suitcases, or shopping carts. The critical thing to understand is that building for a historically marginalized group results in better outcomes for everyone. There are a lot of examples of that throughout history; another is closed captioning. So even though it feels amplified now, decades of work have helped to ensure that those who have historically not been at the center of development and design can have their voices involved throughout critical points in the process.

8 Reasons Scrum Is Hard to Learn (but Worth It)

The idea of estimating in story points can definitely be a challenge for many team members. I can almost hear them thinking, “I have a hard estimating in days and now I have to estimate in an abstract relative unit I’ve never heard of before?” Story points are a definite challenge, yet they’re worth the effort. As abstract relative estimates of effort, story points enable better conversations about how long work will take. Without story points, a senior programmer and junior programmer have conversations that devolve into, “That’s how long it will take you, but it would take me twice as long.” And then the two pick an estimate that is horrible for one of them or, perhaps even worse, they split the difference. With story points, the senior and junior programmers can consider adding a new feature and both agree it will take twice as long as doing a simpler feature. They then give the bigger item an estimate twice that of the simpler item. Estimating in this relative manner allows developers to agree even if they would never be able to agree on how many hours or days something would take. 

Design Thinking Improves Your Data Science

As data scientists, our first instinct is to begin to understand the data we are going to use to solve our problems. However, we need to understand what is beyond the data to the people involved in this problem. We can have all of the data in the world but if we do not know how users or stakeholders interact with the product and understand it in their terms, we cannot possibly make a solution that is going to fully solve their problem. ... My favorite way to approach generating problem statements is to use HMW statements. In this process, everyone writes down problem statements starting with the phrase “How might we…”. They are usually generated individually and voted on by the group to obtain the best problem statement. HMW statements are written positively to make sure how we remember how the user should feel. ... Now that you have our problem statement, you will need to think about the different ways the problem can be solved. In this step, any idea is a good idea, focusing on quantity over quality.

JIT vs. AOT: How to Pick the Right Approach

What a just-in-time compiler can't do is compile ahead-of-time. What an ahead-of-time compiler does is it takes all the code and it compiles it to your binary before you ever run the program. It could do all that and avoid all the later work of doing this. What ahead-of-time compiler can't do is compile just-in-time. The annoying thing is the choice. If you have to choose between them, I am definitely on the just-in-time side. I've got some strong arguments for why, because you just get faster code, period. It's provable. The real question is, why do we have to choose? ... It's absolutely true that with ahead-of-time compilation, people feel like they can afford to throw a lot more analysis power at the optimizations, and therefore lots of times people will say, this analysis we can do ahead-of-time. In reality, anything an ahead-of-time compiler can do a just-in-time compiler can do. It's just a question of, can you afford doing? Do you want to spend the time while you're running the program to also do that? That's one direction.

Chaos theory eliminates quantum uncertainty

The most important reason stems from a quantum phenomenon that Schrödinger himself named entanglement. Specifically, two particles can be emitted from a source, such that the properties of the two particles – e.g., their angular momenta (also known as spins) are correlated. This itself is not necessarily strange. However, the Northern Irish physicist John Bell showed that, under seemingly reasonable assumptions, these correlations, suitably combined, are limited in size. This is called Bell’s theorem. The 2022 Nobel Physics Prize was given to three physicists (Alain Aspect, John Clauser and Anton Zeilinger) who showed that in practice, the combined correlations can exceed this limit. Hence one or more of these seemingly reasonable assumptions must be wrong. The standard interpretation of this experimental result is that it confirms that quantum uncertainty is ontological, not epistemological. That is, uncertainty is a feature of reality itself, not a reflection of the limits of our knowledge. Of course, this is such a startling conclusion that physicists have looked for other ways to explain Bell’s theorem.

Get used to cloud vendor lock-in

Granted, now the game is a bit different with higher stakes. Many cloud providers offer the same operating systems and processor options, the same databases, and even the same ops and security tools. So, why is vendor lock-in still a trade-off? As an aside, if you just announced that you’re off to build systems that completely avoid vendor lock-in, I will wish you good luck. However, unless you want consistently crappy applications, you’ll have to leverage native security, native infrastructure as code, serverless systems, etc., that are usually supplied by different providers as native services, which is why you’re on a public cloud in the first place. If we move to the most feature-rich public cloud platforms, it’s to take advantage of their native features. If you use their native features, you lock yourself in to that cloud provider—or even lock yourself in to a subplatform on that cloud provider. Until there are alternatives, you better get used to lock-in. 

Understanding the Four Domains of Enterprise Architecture

The technology architecture domain encompasses all infrastructure and enterprise uses to support the goals and execution of the business, information and application processes. It covers all logical hardware and software apps, including front-end systems, back-end infrastructures, cloud and on-site platform technologies, IoT, networks and communications. To demonstrate the difference between application and technology architectures, let’s consider an enterprise in the e-commerce industry. The e-commerce app falls under the technology architecture domain because it generates the data for the business — the number of visitors per day or sales per day. An analytics tool like Tableau, which helps translate the data generated into a comprehensible form and distributes it to where it’s needed, is under the application architecture domain. An enterprise architect in this domain would define the requirements of the hardware and software infrastructure needed to power the resources in the application and data architectures that enable and optimize business processes. 

Quote for the day:

"Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it." -- Bruce Lee

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