About Me

My name is Steve. I am a Principal Engineer at Relativity and an Adjunct Professor of Software Engineering at DePaul University.

My primary area of responsibility at Relativity is the storage system behind RelativityOne, Relativity’s cloud-based software-as-a-service e-Discovery product. I have designed and implemented a number of components in both the structured (SQL) and unstructured (object / file) storage backends. Before Relativity, I worked in the financial industry for 15 years, primarily for the financal research firm Morningstar. I am a CFA charterholder, but I rarely use these skills professionally nowadays.

At DePaul, I teach three courses: SE 480: Software Architecture I, SE 457: Service-Oriented Architecture, and SE 441: Continuous Delivery and DevOps. I have been teaching at DePaul since 2017.

For more about my professional history, please visit my LinkedIn profile.

I have blogged on-and-off since 2004. Over the last 15+ years, I have published a number of blog post series and projects on this website. I also have a number of open source projects on GitHub.

Recent Blog Posts

Friday 2024-06-14 Assorted Links
Assorted Links links
Published: 2024-06-14
Friday 2024-06-14 Assorted Links

Assorted links for Friday, June 14:

  1. Updated Intel Meteor Lake Tuning For Linux Shows Huge Performance/Power Improvements. It is a minor tweak to the default Energy Performance Preference (EPP) value within the Intel P-State CPU frequency scaling driver.

    It’s like magic with one line of code changed in the Linux kernel that Intel is reporting up to 19% performance improvement for Intel Core Ultra “Meteor Lake” and up to an 11% improvement in performance per Watt. Or in another EPP mode, the power consumption during video playback can be reduced by 52%!

  2. These light paintings let us visualize invisible clouds of air pollution

    Light painting is a technique used in both art and science that involves taking long-exposure photographs while moving some kind of light source—a small flashlight, perhaps, or candles or glowsticks—to essentially trace an image with light. A UK collaboration of scientists and artists has combined light painting with low-cost air pollution sensors to visualize concentrations of particulate matter (PM) in select locations in India, Ethiopia, and Wales. The objective is to creatively highlight the health risks posed by air pollution, according to a new paper published in the journal Nature Communications.

  3. GPT-4 beats psychologists on a new test of social intelligence

    There were significant differences in SI between psychologists and AI’s ChatGPT-4 and Bing. ChatGPT-4 exceeded 100% of all the psychologists, and Bing outperformed 50% of PhD holders and 90% of bachelor’s holders. The differences in SI between Google Bard and bachelor students were not significant, whereas the differences with PhDs were significant; Where 90% of PhD holders excel on Google Bird.

  4. Wasm vs. Docker: Performant, Secure, and Versatile Containers
  5. Battery Arbitrage

    NYTimes: Since 2020, California has installed more giant batteries than anywhere in the world apart from China. They can soak up excess solar power during the day and store it for use when it gets dark.

    Those batteries play a pivotal role in California’s electric grid, partially replacing fossil fuels in the evening. Between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. on April 30, for example, batteries supplied more than one-fifth of California’s electricity and, for a few minutes, pumped out 7,046 megawatts of electricity, akin to the output from seven large nuclear reactors.

Thursday 2024-06-13 Assorted Links
Assorted Links links
Published: 2024-06-13
Thursday 2024-06-13 Assorted Links

Assorted links for Thursday, June 13:

  1. Microsoft Rolling Out New Windows Subsystem For Linux “WSL” Features For 2024

    Windows Subsystem for Linux is now automatically releasing stored memory in WSL back for use by Windows. This automatic memory reclaim support is a great addition and makes Windows behave better especially for systems with limited amounts of RAM. Without this support in memory hungry situations like with Docker it was possible for WSL2 to exhaust all of the system’s physical memory.

    Windows Subsystem for Linux has also enabled DNS tunneling by default for improved network support.

    Meanwhile in experimental form is support for automatic disk reclaim and a new mirrored networking mode that provides for features like IPv6 support.

  2. New York Stock Exchange says bizarre glitch that showed Berkshire Hathaway down 99.97% has been resolved. Reversibility is an important feature of financial systems which naive blockchain systems deliberately forego.

    For nearly two hours, Berkshire Hathaway’s Class A shares were listed as trading at just $185.10 — a price that would represent a loss of 99.97%. Berkshire closed at $627,400 on Friday.

    NYSE announced it has decided to “bust,” or cancel, all “erroneous” trades for Berkshire between 9:50 am ET and 9:51 am ET at or below $603,718.30. The exchange said that ruling is not eligible for appeal and indicated it could cancel other trades.

  3. Microsoft Releases Azure Linux 3.0 Preview

    Azure Linux 3.0 shifts from the aging Linux 5.15 kernel to the newer Linux 6.6 LTS kernel as well as significant updates to OpenSSL, systemd, Runc, and other components. Azure Linux 3.0 is also now defaulting to SELinux’s enforcing mode by default.

  4. Announcing the official OpenAI library for .NET

    Today, the OpenAI team released their first beta, version 2.0.0-beta.1, of the official OpenAI library for .NET. Features include:

    • Support for the entire OpenAI API, including Assistants v2 and Chat Completions
    • Support for GPT-4o, OpenAI’s latest flagship model
    • Extensibility to enable the community to build libraries on top
    • Sync and async APIs for ease of use and efficiency
    • Access to streaming completions via IAsyncEnumerable<T>
  5. We’ve just had a year in which every month was a record-setter

    Yesterday, the European Union’s Copernicus Earth-monitoring service announced that we’ve now gone a full year where every single month has been the warmest version of that month since we’ve had enough instruments in place to track global temperatures.

Wednesday 2024-06-12 Assorted Links
Assorted Links links
Published: 2024-06-12
Wednesday 2024-06-12 Assorted Links

Assorted links for Wednesday, June 12:

  1. Fracking wastewater has “shocking” amount of clean-energy mineral lithium

    A study from researchers at the National Energy Technology Laboratory shows the wastewater produced by Pennsylvania’s unconventional wells could contain enough lithium to meet 38 to 40 percent of current domestic consumption.

  2. Catch Up on Microsoft Build 2024: Essential Sessions for .NET Developers
  3. Highlights from Microsoft Build: Docker’s Innovations with AI and Windows on Arm
  4. Google Cloud explains how it accidentally deleted a customer account. The Google blog post is entitled Sharing details on a recent incident impacting one of our customers which is a ridiculous understatement.

    During the initial deployment of a Google Cloud VMware Engine (GCVE) Private Cloud for the customer using an internal tool, there was an inadvertent misconfiguration of the GCVE service by Google operators due to leaving a parameter blank. This had the unintended and then unknown consequence of defaulting the customer’s GCVE Private Cloud to a fixed term, with automatic deletion at the end of that period. The incident trigger and the downstream system behavior have both been corrected to ensure that this cannot happen again.

  5. AI passes the restaurant review Turing test. We are rapidly entering an era where we won’t be able to believe anything – articles, photos, videos, voice recordings – is genuine and original. Are you prepared?

    In a series of experiments for a new study, Kovács found that a panel of human testers was unable to distinguish between reviews written by humans and those written by GPT-4, the LLM powering the latest iteration of ChatGPT. In fact, they were more confident about the authenticity of AI-written reviews than they were about human-written reviews.

Tuesday 2024-06-11 Assorted Links
Assorted Links links
Published: 2024-06-11
Tuesday 2024-06-11 Assorted Links

Assorted links for Tuesday, June 11:

  1. Experimental Windows Containers Support for BuildKit Released in v0.13.0

    BuildKit is a toolkit for converting source code to build artifacts (like container images) in an efficient, expressive, and repeatable manner.

  2. OpenAI training its next major AI model, forms new safety committee

    On Monday, OpenAI announced the formation of a new “Safety and Security Committee” to oversee risk management for its projects and operations. The announcement comes as the company says it has “recently begun” training its next frontier model, which it expects to bring the company closer to its goal of achieving artificial general intelligence (AGI), though some critics say AGI is farther off than we might think. It also comes as a reaction to two weeks of public setbacks for the company.

  3. Canonical Developing “Flamenco” For Enhancing .NET Developer Experience On Ubuntu

    “Flamenco is a CLI tool that helps toolchain developers manage many different package versions and releases from a single debian folder source tree.”

  4. GitHub and JFrog partner to unify code and binaries for DevSecOps

    Together, we’ve built an integration that includes intuitive navigation and traceability between source code and binaries, CI/CD with GitHub Actions and JFrog Artifactory, and a unified view of security findings across the software supply chain. By providing full control and visibility across the entire software supply chain, we are accelerating our joint vision of making developers’ lives easier and happier.

  5. Amazon Cloud Traffic Is Suffocating Fedora’s Mirrors

    A massive uptick in traffic to Fedora’s package mirrors is causing problems for the Linux distribution. Some five million additional systems have started putting additional strain on Fedora’s mirror resources since March and appear to be coming from Amazon’s cloud.

Monday 2024-06-10 Assorted Links
Assorted Links links
Published: 2024-06-10
Monday 2024-06-10 Assorted Links

Assorted links for Monday, June 10:

  1. Federal agency warns critical Linux vulnerability being actively exploited

    The vulnerability, tracked as CVE-2024-1086 and carrying a severity rating of 7.8 out of a possible 10, allows people who have already gained a foothold inside an affected system to escalate their system privileges. It’s the result of a use-after-free error, a class of vulnerability that occurs in software written in the C and C++ languages when a process continues to access a memory location after it has been freed or deallocated. Use-after-free vulnerabilities can result in remote code or privilege escalation.

    The vulnerability, which affects Linux kernel versions 5.14 through 6.6, resides in the NF_tables, a kernel component enabling the Netfilter, which in turn facilitates a variety of network operations, including packet filtering, network address [and port] translation (NA[P]T), packet logging, userspace packet queueing, and other packet mangling. It was patched in January, but as the CISA advisory indicates, some production systems have yet to install it. At the time this Ars post went live, there were no known details about the active exploitation.

  2. Google’s AI Overview is flawed by design, and a new company blog post hints at why

    Here we see the fundamental flaw of the system: “AI Overviews are built to only show information that is backed up by top web results.” The design is based on the false assumption that Google’s page-ranking algorithm favors accurate results and not SEO-gamed garbage. Google Search has been broken for some time, and now the company is relying on those gamed and spam-filled results to feed its new AI model.

  3. Online Privacy and Overfishing

    Internet surveillance, and the resultant loss of privacy, is following the same trajectory. Just as certain fish populations in the world’s oceans have fallen 80 percent, from previously having fallen 80 percent, from previously having fallen 80 percent (ad infinitum), our expectations of privacy have similarly fallen precipitously. The pervasive nature of modern technology makes surveillance easier than ever before, while each successive generation of the public is accustomed to the privacy status quo of their youth. What seems normal to us in the security community is whatever was commonplace at the beginning of our careers.

  4. The Danish Mortgage System Avoids Lock-In

    Recall that in the Danish system each mortgage is backed by a matching bond. As a consequence, mortgage holders have two ways to pay a mortgage: 1) hold the mortgage and pay the monthly payments or 2) buy the matching bond and, in effect, extinguish the mortgage. The latter option is valuable because when interest rates rise, the price of mortgages fall.

    …Danish sellers are able to earn a profit when they trade in their low mortgage rates for more-expensive ones, making it easier to move even when rates rise.

  5. Vaccines don’t cause autism, but the lie won’t die. In fact, it’s getting worse.

    In all, it’s a bleak finding that bodes poorly for the collective health of Americans, who are now seeing rises in cases of measles and other vaccine-preventable illnesses. Additional surveys by the APPC in 2021, 2022, and 2023 identified a slight increase in the number of survey takers who specifically believe, falsely, that the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine causes autism. In 2021, 9 percent of respondents falsely indicated that MMR vaccine causes autism, responding that the statement was “definitely true” (2 percent) or “probably true” (7 percent). In 2023, 12 percent of respondents fell into those categories, 2 percent for “definitely true” and 10 percent for “probably true.”

    Since the start of 2024, the US has seen a steady march of measles infections nationwide. As of May 31, the CDC has recorded 146 cases across 21 states. Of those cases, 64 were part of a large outbreak in Chicago, which was declared over on May 30.

Wednesday 2024-05-22 Assorted Links
Assorted Links links
Published: 2024-05-22
Wednesday 2024-05-22 Assorted Links

Assorted links for Wednesday, May 22:

  1. Investment Returns Are NOT Random
  2. Why Running Slower Isn’t Always the Answer
  3. How to Set Up a Home Security Camera System Without Using the Cloud
  4. The Best Custom GPTs to Make ChatGPT Even More Useful
  5. How AI enhances static application security testing (SAST)
  6. Why do only a small percentage of GenAI projects actually make it into production?
  7. Data Fetching Patterns in Single-Page Applications
  8. What’s new with io-uring in 6.10
Tuesday 2024-05-21 Assorted Links
Assorted Links links
Published: 2024-05-21
Tuesday 2024-05-21 Assorted Links

Assorted links for Tuesday, May 21:

  1. Linux maintainers were infected for 2 years by SSH-dwelling backdoor with huge reach
  2. Building your C++ Code with CMake in VS Code
  3. Pure Virtual C++ 2024 Recordings Now Available
  4. Microsoft launches AI chatbot for spies
  5. Critical vulnerabilities in BIG-IP appliances leave big networks open to intrusion
  6. Major ChatGPT-4o update allows audio-video talks with an “emotional” AI chatbot
  7. Before launching, GPT-4o broke records on chatbot leaderboard under a secret name
  8. AI in Gmail will sift through emails, provide search summaries, send emails
  9. MIT students stole $25M in seconds by exploiting ETH blockchain bug, DOJ says
  10. The Rise of Large-Language-Model Optimization
Monday 2024-05-20 Assorted Links
Assorted Links links
Published: 2024-05-20
Monday 2024-05-20 Assorted Links

Assorted links for Monday, May 20:

  1. Microsoft plans to lock down Windows DNS like never before. Here’s how.: The framework is called Zero Trust DNS (ZTDNS)
  2. An informal comparison of the three major implementations of std::string
  3. “Unprecedented” Google Cloud event wipes out customer account and its backups
  4. Slack Is Using Your Private Conversations to Train Its AI
  5. Cloudflare Praises Golang PGO For Significant CPU Savings
  6. Torvalds Voices Thoughts On Linux Mitigating Unexpected Arithmetic Overflows/Underflows
  7. IO-uring Bringing Better Send Zero-Copy Performance With Linux 6.10
  8. Microsoft Engineer Ports EXT2 File-System Driver To Rust
  9. Secure Randomness in Go 1.22
  10. FUSE passthrough for file I/O
Friday 2024-05-10 Assorted Links
Assorted Links links
Published: 2024-05-10
Friday 2024-05-10 Assorted Links

Assorted links for Friday, May 10:

  1. How an empty S3 bucket can make your AWS bill explode
  2. MemoryDB: Speed, Durability, and Composition.
  3. Best practices for monitoring ML models in production
  4. New Microsoft AI model may challenge GPT-4 and Google Gemini
  5. Novel attack against virtually all VPN apps neuters their entire purpose
  6. Hackers discover how to reprogram NES Tetris from within the game
  7. Storage Churn: Some thoughts on alternative cloud storage services
  8. Was There A Trojan Horse Hidden In Section 230 All Along That Could Enable Adversarial Interoperability?
  9. Why choose sum types over exceptions?
  10. Fixing retries with token buckets and circuit breakers
Thursday 2024-05-09 Assorted Links
Assorted Links links
Published: 2024-05-09
Thursday 2024-05-09 Assorted Links

Assorted links for Thursday, May 9:

  1. Dependabot on GitHub Actions and self-hosted runners is now generally available
  2. Speeding up C++ build times
  3. Why OpenAI Replaced ChatGPT Plugins With GPTs
  4. Making an Application More Robust With Data Mapping
  5. The business of wallets

    Regulators strongly prefer that deposits stay within the regulated banking sector. The single largest reason is that they’re worried that households’ immediately accessible stored funds stay safe and accessible. A major follow-up reason, less understood by non-specialists, is that regulated banks are bound to a long list of consumer protection items on the transaction level, not the institution level. A lot of the abuse in the economy happens in $50 and $5,000 increments, rather than multi-billion dollar increments. Regulators sleep happier knowing that this abuse happens at companies with teams of operators standing. Those operators will groan and chalk a disputed transaction, instance of fraud, or glitch in the matrix up to the operational losses budget rather than sticking a user with it.

  6. How we built Text-to-SQL at Pinterest
  7. Minimizing on-call burnout through alerts observability
  8. What Is Amazon Resource Name (ARN)?
  9. OpenTelemetry Best Practices #1: Naming
  10. OpenTelemetry Best Practices #2 Agents, Sidecars, Collectors, Coded Instrumentation