Weekend tech reading: Q&A with Satya Nadella, running an email server, Xeon E7 v2 reviewed

By on February 23, 2014, 12:01 PM

Satya Nadella, Chief of Microsoft, on his new role Q. What leadership lessons have you learned from your predecessor, Steve Ballmer? A. The most important one I learned from Steve happened two or three annual reviews ago. I sat down with him, and I remember asking him: "What do you think? How am I doing?" Then he said: "Look, you will know it, I will know it, and it will be in the air. So you don’t have to ask me, 'How am I doing?' At your level, it's going to be fairly implicit." I went on to ask him, "How do I compare to the people who had my role before me?" And Steve said: "Who cares? The context is so different. The only thing that matters to me is what you do with the cards you've been dealt now. I want you to stay focused on that, versus trying to do this comparative benchmark." The NY Times

How to run your own e-mail server with your own domain, part 1 E-mail is old and complex. It's the oldest still-recognizable component of the Internet, with its modern incarnation having coalesced out of several different decades-old messaging technologies including ARPANET node-to-node messaging in the early 1970s. And though it remains a cornerstone of the Internet -- the original killer app, really -- it's also extraordinarily hard to do right. We most often interact with e-mail servers through friendly Web-based front-ends or applications, but a tremendous amount of work goes into hiding the complexity that allows the whole system to work. E-mail functions in a poisoned and hostile environment, flooded by viruses and spam. Ars Technica

Exclusive: The rags-to-riches tale of how Jan Koum built WhatsApp into Facebook's new $19 billion baby Jan Koum picked a meaningful spot to sign the $19 billion deal to sell his company WhatsApp to Facebook earlier today. Koum, cofounder Brian Acton and venture capitalist Jim Goetz of Sequoia drove a few blocks from WhatsApp's discreet headquarters in Mountain View to a disused white building across the  railroad tracks, the former North County Social Services office where Koum, 37, once stood in line to collect food stamps. That's where the three of them inked the agreement to sell their messaging phenom -- which brought in a miniscule $20 million in revenue last year -- to the world's largest social network. Forbes

How to get a job at Google Last June, in an interview with Adam Bryant of The Times, Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google -- i.e., the guy in charge of hiring for one of the world's most successful companies -- noted that Google had determined that "G.P.A.'s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless. ... We found that they don't predict anything." He also noted that the “proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time" -- now as high as 14 percent on some teams. At a time when many people are asking, "How's my kid gonna get a job?" I thought it would be useful to visit Google and hear how Bock would answer. The NY Times

This machine kills trolls At midnight on February 13th, 2014, a Wikipedia user named Lightningawesome added to the list of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic characters a lengthy biography of Lightning Dash, a capricious, lovable filly existing only in fan fiction. Around that time, an unnamed user defaced the Love Holy Trinity Blessed Mission page, writing, "The LHTBM is nothing but a sect that ruins peoples lives!!!" Four minutes later, someone changed the title of Battlefield 4 to "Kentucky Friend [sic] Chicken and a Pizza Hut." Three minutes after that, the Horrible Histories page had scrawled across it a dire warning: "You need to get off wikipedia or you will DIEEEE." The Verge

Why Netflix streaming is getting slower, and probably won't get better any time soon Over the last few months, many Netflix users in the US and around the world have noticed a steady decline in streaming video quality. For some subscribers, it’s got to the point where the video is constantly buffering and heavily pixelated. This is particularly irksome, because a high-quality video feed should be possible with just 1 or 2 megabits per second of sustained bandwidth -- and almost every Netflix subscriber now has a connection that’s theoretically capable of 10Mbps or more. What’s going on? Why is your Netflix slow and low quality? ExtremeTech

Time to harden your hardwareMost Internet users are familiar with the concept of updating software that resides on their computers. But this past week has seen alerts about an unusual number of vulnerabilities and attacks against some important and ubiquitous hardware devices, from consumer-grade Internet routers, data storage and home automation products to enterprise-class security solutions. Last week, the SANS Internet Storm Center began publishing data about an ongoing attack from self-propagating malware that infects some home and small-office wireless routers from Linksys. Krebs on Security (also, the NY Times profiles Brian Krebs)

The Intel Xeon E7 v2 review: Quad socket, up to 60 cores/120 threads It is generally accepted as common knowledge that the high-end RISC server vendors -- IBM and Oracle -- have been bleeding market share in favor of high-end Intel Xeon based servers. Indeed, the RISC market accounts for about 150k units while the x86 market has almost 10 million servers. About 5% of those 10 million units are high-end x86 servers, so the Xeon E7 server volume is probably only 2-4 times the size of the whole RISC market. Still, that tiny amount of RISC servers represents about 50% of the server market revenues. AnandTech

Rome 2 Killer Camel DLC backlash prompts rethink at Creative Assembly Creative Assembly has insisted it did not intentionally mislead players of Rome 2: Total War after it was accused of holding back cut content to use as post-release paid-for DLC. This week the UK developer suffered a backlash from its community to the recent Beasts of War DLC. Players claimed one of the units in the DLC, the Camel Cataphracts, was in the game prior to its September 2013 release. The evidence: it can be seen in videos, such as the one below, that promoted the game. Eurogamer

Games by humans While in Berlin a couple of weeks ago, I had the great pleasure to be able to casually hang out with some of the developers from Yager, the studio responsible for Spec Ops: The Line. In 2012, I wrote a book about Spec Ops: The Line, and it was a revealing experience to be able to hang out with the people who made that game. As it was just a casual, off-the-record chat over beers, I am not going to regurgitate any of the conversations here. Suffice to say, to me, as someone outside of development, they were absolutely fascinating. The Conversation

Nvidia coin mining performance increases with Maxwell and GTX 750 Ti As we have talked about on several different occasions, Altcoin mining (anything that is NOT Bitcoin specifically) is a force on the current GPU market whether we like it or not. Traditionally, Miners have only bought AMD-based GPUs, due to the performance advantage when compared to their Nvidia competition. However, with continued development of the cudaMiner application over the past few months, Nvidia cards have been gaining performance in Scrypt mining. PCPer

It's time to break up the NSA The NSA has become too big and too powerful. What was supposed to be a single agency with a dual mission -- protecting the security of U.S. communications and eavesdropping on the communications of our enemies -- has become unbalanced in the post-Cold War, all-terrorism-all-the-time era. Putting the U.S. Cyber Command, the military's cyberwar wing, in the same location and under the same commander, expanded the NSA's power. CNN

more universal router payload – backdooring the Linksys WRT54G firmware Recently I’ve had an interest in trying my hand in embedded device hacking. I decided that I’d pick up something I know to start with. After searching eBay I decided on the popular Linksys WRT54Gv5 router. After personally using this router for years I figured it’d be a nice familiar place to start. My first goal was to reverse engineer the firmware to get a better idea of what the internals looked like. The Hacker Blog

Gmail adding prominent 'Unsubscribe' option to marketing emails Gmail users who get frustrated trying to find the “unsubscribe” link that’s often buried in small type at the bottom of promotional emails may instead start seeing it before they even open the message. Starting this week, a new, clearly marked "unsubscribe" link will appear at the top of the header field in marketers' emails. PCWorld

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