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bshell writes "According to the CBC, there was a massive leak of "files containing information on over 120,000 offshore entities — including shell corporations and legal structures known as trusts — involving people in over 170 countries. The leak amounts to 260 gigabytes of data, or 162 times larger than the U.S. State Department cables published by WikiLeaks in 2010...In many cases, the leaked documents expose insider details of how agents would incorporate companies in Caribbean and South Pacific micro-states on behalf of wealthy clients, then assign front people called "nominees" to serve, on paper, as directors and shareholders for the corporations — disguising the companies' true owners." Makes a good read and there are some good interactive components. Perhaps Slashdot readers can figure out how the source of the leak, the D.C.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists got their hands on this data."

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whiteboard coding

Over on question and answer site Quora, a student with a long winter break ahead of him wants to know: "What are some useful technical skills I can learn within a day?"

How very Benjamin Franklin of him.

Anyway, Quora users came up with lots of answers.

These answers include lots of jargon that I, a non-technical keyboard button presser, do not understand.

But maybe you do.

If so, here are some skills you could learn before going to bed tonight:

  • Version control:- Git, GitHub and SVN
  • Regular expressions
  • AWK
  • sed
  • Grep 
  • Learn how to do things with Vim that you never knew could be done.
  • Set up a crawler that can scrape some webpages and parse some basic data.
  • Set up a bigger crawler that has to fill out a form or two.
  • Program a basic linear algebra library (matrices, vectors, multiplication)
  • Add SVD to this library.
  • Add matrix inversion to this library.
  • Add least squares regression to this library.
  • Make your library work efficiently with sparse data.
  • Learn how to use list comprehensions in Python.
  • Get a Stack Overflow account and learn to use the site. 
  • Read the freaking manual for your favorite language.
  • Implement a simple machine learning algorithm on your own, with a whole pipeline.
  • Learn the how to make a simple line graph in Excel. 
  • Get your eclipse installation fully pumped up.
  • Learn the basic functionality of a NoSQL database.
  • Learn the most basic functionality of SQL  
  • Getting comfortable with Linux. 
  • One or two sorting algorithms. 
  • D3 (JavaScript library)
  • Learn how to effectively develop unit tests for your code. 
  • Familiarize yourself with some of the AWS services and their API in the language of your choice 
  • Basic graph theory 

For each bullet point above, there is a full Quora answer explaining why, and how, you might learn each skill in a day. 

Go check out the list >>

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Thoroughly fascinating article in Smithsonian Magazine by Tony Perrottet on the overlooked biographical details of that legendary Casanova, Giacomo Casanova. The piece opens with a gob-smacking accounting of the serpentine path his celebrated memoir took, ending in its exalted cubby in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. Suffice it to say it includes a stop during the 19th century in a special cupboard for illicit books in the French National Library, called L’Enfer, or “the Hell.”

The story then turns to a vividly sketched outline of Casanova’s life – establishing a far, far more interesting character than, as Perrottet puts it, “a frivolous sexual adventurer, a cad and a wastrel.” In fact,

Giacomo Girolamo Casanova lived from 1725 to 1798, and was a far more intellectual figure than the gadabout playboy portrayed on film. He was a true Enlightenment polymath, whose many achievements would put the likes of Hugh Hefner to shame. He hobnobbed with Voltaire, Catherine the Great, Benjamin Franklin and probably Mozart; survived as a gambler, an astrologer and spy; translated The Iliad into his Venetian dialect; and wrote a science fiction novel, a proto-feminist pamphlet and a range of mathematical treatises. He was also one of history’s great travelers, crisscrossing Europe from Madrid to Moscow. And yet he wrote his legendary memoir, the innocuously named Story of My Life, in his penniless old age, while working as a librarian (of all things!) at the obscure Castle Dux, in the mountains of Bohemia in the modern-day Czech Republic.

In British terms, let’s say, this is all much more Richard Francis Burton than Flashman. Fascinating, and as Blackadder would say, “as French as a pair of self-removing trousers.”

As far as the art goes, above are some frisky watercolors by Auguste Leroux from the 1932 French edition of Casanova’s Histoire de ma Vie. Leroux was a celebrated illustrator who worked with Huysmans, Balzac, Stendhal and Flaubert… below are some fetching prints by Milo Manara inspired the the 1976 Fellini film. (My appreciation of their finest collaboration, A Trip to Tullum, here.)

Also, for your pleasure, a live cut of Roxy Music’s strutting tribute.

Roxy Music: Casanova: [download]

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Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project (a book about how to be more happy and grateful, which I enjoyed very much) ran this list of Tolstoy's "10 Rules of Life" on her blog:

[F]or happiness-project purposes, Tolstoy is particularly fascinating -- both because he wrote so extensively about happiness and because he made and broke so many resolutions himself. Spectacularly... Tolstoy wrote these rules when he was eighteen years old:

Get up early (five o'clock)

Go to bed early (nine to ten o'clock)

Eat little and avoid sweets

Try to do everything by yourself

Have a goal for your whole life, a goal for one section of your life, a goal for a shorter period and a goal for the year; a goal for every month, a goal for every week, a goal for every day, a goal for every hour and for evry minute, and sacrifice the lesser goal to the greater

Keep away from women

Kill desire by work

Be good, but try to let no one know it

Always live less expensively than you might

Change nothing in your style of living even if you become ten times richer

10 "Rules of Life" from Tolstoy

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We are excited to announce that three key modules, Views, CCK, and Organic Groups, have published release candidates today, ready for testing. If you are interested in speeding the transition to a full release, install and test the Release Candidates (RC). Many months of work have gone into extensive rewrites of these modules, leading to major improvements that will make Drupal 6 an even more attractive platform for building websites.

As always, you should upgrade these modules on a test site first, and make sure to make a complete backup. You never know how your site's customizations will affect things, or what silly little thing nobody else caught.

IMPORTANT! There are a couple Drupal core bugs that could affect anyone using Views and anyone updating from an earlier version of CCK. They are fixed in the Drupal 6.3 release, please use that.

More details about these pivotal module releases follow...

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UPDATE: Xapian is now deployed for all users. Google search is now offered when Drupal search block is disabled. Details.

When the site gets too busy, the infrastructure team sometimes disables the built-in search function. When this happens, you can use Google to search by putting in with your query. There are also a couple of unofficial sites mentioned in the comments below. The issue to discuss how best to handle providing an alternate search is here. Comments have been disabled on this post because they were becoming unproductive. If you are able to help with the problem, please do so via that issue. Please note that saying "someone" needs to do "something" will not be any more helpful on that issue. We are already well aware of that.


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