They might not be the same person, but they seem to play the same role in software history.

I’m not breaking any news here, and I’m not telling you I just discovered they are the same person. Actually, most probably, they can never be the same person at all. But, for me, they play the same role in the history of software.

The Free Software movement is dead!

In the 80’s, Richard Stallman started the free software movement. The movement revolutionized how software is created and consumed, and most importantly, it paved the way for new business models. Nevertheless, the emergence of cloud computing, mobile phones and SaaS deemed the free software irrelevant. Who owns the infrastructure matters way more than who owns the code. I reached this conclusion few years ago, and wrote about it here. …


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TicketSwap’s recommended events made for you

How we built a recommendation system to make sure our fans don’t miss the events they want to attend.

TicketSwap is used by millions of users around the world to find tickets for the concerts, the shows and the other events they wish to attend. Some fans are festival-goers, they do not want to miss a single edition from the festivals they love! Some fans prefer particular Jazz, Pop or Metal concerts. Some fans are there for inspiration, to discover new events they did not know they might like in the first place. You want a service that suits you.

It’s only natural that we would want our website and mobile apps to be personalized to cater to the different users according to their tastes and needs. While an off-the-shelf recommendation engine might have been effortless, you will see why we went for a bespoke solution. …


And the algorithms, Facebook and its attention-whore lookalikes create, are not working either.

People have short attention span nowadays, thus they cannot consume long-form content anymore. They need bite-sized content, a la tweets and TikTok videos

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The Social Dilemma (Netflix)

I may agree with the essence of this idea, but I disagree with the fact that this is an inevitable reality. I believe there is a vicious circle at play here.

With the lack of curation, and with the democratization of content creation, every one and their dog can create content now. And as a consumer, there is no way to know beforehand what content you will find valuable and deserves your attention. You don’t want to invest your time reading a multiple-page essay to realize it is just nonsense.


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Where did content curation go?

Back in the golden age of the internet, around 2006, social platforms, or what was known as web 2.0 then, used to reward content creators and content curators equally.

I remember a blogger who used to call herself a news jockey, a la disc jockey in music.

In twitter, people were accustomed to the manual RT, instead of the tweet button. These RT’s allowed others to share the name of the retweeter along with the name of the creator. Blogs were full of quotes from other bloggers. I remember a blogger who used to call herself a news jockey, a la disc jockey in music. …


Obvious bad choices by the democrats, lead to eventual defeats

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Update [November 2020]: Clearly I was mistaken, and luckily my predictions were wrong about Trump winning again. Nevertheless, it is nice to keep this post here to remind myself of my wrong predictions.

Two conclusions can be made from these numbers

(1) The obvious one: The young voters voted for Bernie while the old ones favored Biden.

(2) The less obvious one: Is it really that 55% of the population are above 50? Or are these 55% of the voters? …


Spotting the bottlenecks is the answer

Illustration of the morphology of coronaviruses
Illustration of the morphology of coronaviruses
Illustration of the morphology of coronaviruses, source Wikipedia

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, one has been wondering, how can science and technology solve this? We have all the scientific advances we have today, and it is estimated for vaccines to take more than a year to be available in the market.

Wired magazine published an article about the potential Covid-19 vaccines and where the bottlenecks are in their development process. As for the actual creation of the vaccines, it seems that the genetic sequencing has speeded up this part of the process already.

The reason it usually takes so long comes down to a combination of factors. The first is getting a candidate vaccine that’s ready to test. This part of the vaccine development process, known as discovery, used to take years of careful benchtop biology. Scientists had to isolate and grow viruses in the lab. But now, with genetic sequencing, new protein-visualizing microscopes, and other technology advances, it’s possible to skip that step. …


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The Righteous Mind

A review of Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Righteous Mind, Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion,

Actually the main message Haidt wants to deliver is, “Why good people are divided by politics and religion”; however, personally, I was interested more into a different message, “where does morality come from”. The latter can explain the former anyway.

Where does morality come from?

Haidt started by examining two schools of thought here:

The two most common answers have long been that it is innate (the nativist answer) or that it comes from childhood learning (the empiricist answer).

Now, the opponents of the innate answer argue:

If morality varies around the world and across the centuries, then how could it be innate? …


A review of Jared Rubin’s book, Rulers, Religion, and Riches

I had this question in mind for a while. All the articles I read that tried to answer this question had one thesis; it is religion, Islam is to be blamed. Though, I do not totally disagree, the answer felt very simplistic. In a way, religions are the products of their societies, and there is nothing stopping societies from re-shaping their religions if they want to. The west itself had Christianity, which would have hindered their development if it stayed in its middle ages form, but it didn’t. …


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CC BY tyger_lyllie

I open my laptop after I arrive to the office, I start writing Python code in a Jupyter notebook. I query a PostgreSQL database, I use libraries like Pandas, Scikit-learn and Keras. Then when it’s time to productionise the code snippets I have written, I write my code using Atom or VIM and push it to AWS.

Everything in bold is Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), except for AWS. I even checked their licenses. It’s clear, FOSS has won the battle, no more evil Microsoft SQL server, no Visual Basic, nothing of these closed source softwares anymore, yay!

Then I leave the office, I listen to music on Spotify on my way back home, I watch movies on Netflix. The photos I take on the weekend, I edit and share them on Instagram. I chat with family and friends on Whatsapp and I do almost all of these on my phone and tablet, whose operating systems and iOS and Android.


I am breaking up with you!

At some point in the history of humankind, some anonymous person decided to write a blogpost about his dissatisfaction with some nameless product. He decided to write it as if it’s a breakup letter with his better half. It was loaded with all breakup-related metaphors, and it was smart.

Later on, between 155,000 and 172,000 other bloggers decided to do the same thing. All wrote their sort-of product reviews in the form of breakup letters. All, with the same metaphors over and over again

It was boring!

About

Tarek Amr

Machine Learning engineer, Data Visualisation book author, and a bunch of other things, http://www.tarekamr.com/

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