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Category: Civil Engineering

A Modest Proposal to Save California $200 Million

In order to forestall a lot of hate mail, the following blog is written in the tradition of eighteenth-century satirist Jonathan Swift’s essay, “A Modest Proposal.”  It is not meant to be taken seriously.  With that out of the way, I have a modest proposal to save the good citizens of California over $200 million.  That is the estimated cost of a suicide-deterrent net project that is going to be installed on the Golden Gate Bridge, according to a recent…

What Makes a Good Fiducial?

Accountants may have a fiduciary responsibility, but that really has nothing to do with PC board assembly. Change the “ry” to a “ls”, however, and you get fiducials, which does have something to do with PCB assembly. A fiducial is essentially an alignment mark for surface mount assembly machines. High volume assembly requires them to ensure accurate registration and parts placement. Low volume assembly, like we do here at Screaming Circuits, doesn’t necessarily require them. (Some low volume shops do,…

In Praise of Doppler Weather Radars

On Mar. 28, 1920, a series of more than 30 deadly tornadoes made widespread paths of destruction through the central and southern U. S. and caused deaths from Michigan all the way to LaGrange, Georgia.  Shortly before 6 P. M., that southern mill town was struck by a tornado with an estimated Fujita rating of F3, which means its winds probably ranged from 158 to 206 MPH.  After wrecking a cluster of worker’s houses, the town’s main mill and factory…

Open Sourcing Screwdriver, Yahoo’s Continuous…

By James Collins, Sr. Director, Developer Platforms and Services, and St. John Johnson, Principal Engineer Continuous Delivery enables software development teams to move faster and adapt to users’ needs quicker by reducing the inherent friction associated with releasing software changes. Yahoo’s engineering has modernized as it has embraced Continuous Delivery as a strategy for improving product quality and engineering agility. All our active products deliver from commit to production with full automation and this has greatly improved Yahoo’s ability to…

Presenting an Open Source Toolkit for Lightweight…

By Aasish Pappu, Roi Blanco, and Amanda Stent What’s the first thing you want to know about any kind of text document (like a Yahoo News or Yahoo Sports article)? What it’s about, of course! That means you want to know something about the people, organizations, and locations that are mentioned in the document. Systems that automatically surface this information are called named entity recognition and linking systems. These are one of the most useful components in text analytics as…

Shhhhh… I have a secret… – Kickstarter Engineering

As Kickstarter moves from a monolithic application towards a service oriented architecture, we needed to develop a fast and secure way for a service to programmatically retrieve API tokens, passwords, keys, etc. We are currently managing our containers using Amazon’s ECS (Elastic Container Service), which we like for its seamless scalability of Docker containers, and really wanted to secure the application’s access to sensitive information. We looked at a few tools and even built some ourselves, but we were instantly…

Etsy’s Debriefing Facilitation Guide for Blameless Postmortems

In 2012, I wrote a post for the Code As Craft blog about how we approach learning from accidents and mistakes at Etsy. I wrote about the perspectives and concepts behind what is known (in the world of Systems Safety and Human Factors) as the New View on “human error.” I also wrote about what it means for an organization to take a different approach, philosophically, to learn from accidents, and that Etsy was such an organization. That post’s purpose…

API First Transformation at Etsy – Human aspects & developer adoption

This is the third post in a series of three about Etsy’s API, the abstract interface to our logic and data.In the last posts we covered how we built a new API framework, and we clearly identified the gains in terms of performance and shared abstraction layer between languages and devices. But how did we make an entire engineering organization switch to the new framework? How did we achieve the cultural transformation to API first? How do we avoid this…

Building a Better Mobile Crash Analytics Platform

‘Crashcan’ (think trashcan, but for crashes) is Etsy’s internal application for mobile crash analytics. We use an external partner to collect and store crash and exception data from our mobile apps, which we then ingest via their API. Crashcan is a single-page web app that refines and better exposes the crash data we receive from our external partner. Crashcan gives us extra analysis of our crashes on top of what our partner offers. We can make less cautious assumptions about…

How NPR Transcribes and Fact-Checks the Debates, Live – Features

For the presidential debate season, NPR is providing live transcripts of the debate with embedded fact checks and annotations throughout each debate night. Coordinating the workflow between live transcriptions, live fact-checking, and a live-updating page inside of our CMS was no small undertaking, resulting in what may have been our team’s most complicated technical architecture yet. I’m here to tell you all about it! Team Structure and Workflow On the Visuals Team, this project has combined our talents in a way we…