Eric Tendian

Searching for words.

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Cloudbleed and ethical disclosure

On February 23rd 2017, the content delivery provider Cloudflare revealed a serious vulnerability in its software for processing webpages as they traveled across its network. Due to a programming error which caused a memory leak, Cloudflare’s software would put server memory into webpages under a specific yet limited set of circumstances. The “server memory” inserted may include “private information such as HTTP cookies, authentication tokens, HTTP POST bodies, and other sensitive data” according to Cloudflare, all of which could be read by an attacker. Some of these webpages with private information have been inadvertently saved by search engines, complicating the issue.

The issue was reported to Cloudflare by Google security researcher Tavis Ormandy, who detailed the course of events following notification on Project Zero’s issue tracker. What I find interesting and which relates to IT

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Ethics of Friendship Online

In the course of researching social media for my first research paper due in my Legal & Ethical Issues in IT class, I came across the journal Ethics and Information Technology1. This journal had a special issue called Friendship Online2 published in 2012. I found many of the papers published there interesting, as I am fascinated by how normal human interactions translate to the digital world.

The paper I found the most informative was Flourishing on facebook: virtue friendship & new social media3 which discussed how the Aristotelian theory of friendship can be used to evaluate friendships on social media, and the merits of social media itself. I won’t summarize the whole thing here, so please read it yourself if you can. However, considering current events I want to excerpt one bit I found particularly relevant and enlightening:

Human flourishing is a social achievement that entails ha

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Legalized Discrimination

When was the last time you bought something online? Did you think about the price you paid, and wonder if you could have gotten a better deal? I’ve always thought about that, but usually I come to the conclusion that I just needed to do more comparison shopping if I really wanted a better price.

In the physical world, it’s quite rate for a single product at a single store to have two different prices at the exact same time. Yet, on the Internet this occurs a lot more frequently than you think, where one person may be charged a higher price than another depending on their characteristics.

Check out the article below to learn a bit more about this practice:

 When Algorithms Decide What You Pay (propublica.org)

Legalized discrimination has been a recurring topic in our current political climate, and it’s quite sickening to see it being dramatically expanded by the government. However

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The Moral Machine

Who will a self driving car kill first? In developing self-driving cars ability to react to crashes, there are many moral dilemmas we will run into in the process. Should the car drive into a wall to avoid hitting people, but hurting the driver in the process? Or should it drive thru an intersection, hurting those in the crosswalk but sparing the driver? There are many moral dilemmas like this, all a variation of the classic trolley problem.

MIT has developed a platform which allows anyone to judge different scenarios a self-driving car could face (theoretically) and pick the “lesser of two evils”. The website also has the option to create your own scenario. I judged a few scenarios and then took a look to see how my results compared with others, and was surprised at all the biases the survey made apparent/accounted for.

Check it out - what was your most ethically challenging scenario?

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Ctrl+T, FB: Ethical questions about addictive social media

NOTE: The following is a blog post written for a class I’m taking this semester, “Legal & Ethical Issues in Information Technology”. Between now and the end of April, I will be syndicating content I post on the class blog, so most of the writing I do in this period will be about technology ethics and law. Enjoy!

Is social media addictive, and what role should the companies behind social media products play to ensure their products do not directly lead to an addiction to the product? What about any company with an addictive product?

These are some of the questions I’ve been thinking of lately. I’m writing this with Facebook and Twitter tabs open, checking every couple of minutes, awaiting a new notification or email at any moment. Over the past few months, it seems I’ve gotten more and more tied to social media, sometimes spending hours on such sites even when there is not a lot of

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2017 Projects

Been a while since I posted anything here, so I figure I’d give another status update and think out loud (feel free to email me with advice too).

It’s now been one year since I started full time at Packback, and two and a half years since I joined the company as an intern. Lately, I’ve been kept busy with all the awesome things we’re working on, helping to make sure the upcoming Spring 2017 semester on Packback Questions will be great, and even better than the success we’ve had this past semester. Lots of exciting challenges have come up with team members coming and going, new processes, implementing big features, and more. It’s been taking up around 75% of my time, and I love it. Will be staying here after I graduate so I can get the full startup growth story, and be a part of it. I could go on and on, but maybe you should just come check us out.

Besides that, I’ve been taking classes

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Studying Computer Science - UIC or IIT?

The following is an excerpt from a conversation I had with a junior in high school, looking for advice on studying Computer Science at a Chicago university. I thought it would be useful for other students to see, especially as the deadline for choosing colleges is May 1st. Obligatory disclaimer: I do not speak on behalf of any of these schools. My opinions only.


I see that you’re attending IIT. I’m currently deciding whether to go to UIC, IIT, or DePaul for undergraduate for Computer Science. Right now, my current plan is to go UIC. IIT is a little bit more expensive. What would you recommend?

I’ve got friends that go to all three schools, although only know people at IIT and UIC in Comp Sci, so can’t speak for DePaul. The benefit to IIT is that it’s more focused on CS and engineering than other schools, smaller class sizes, and we’ve got a big emphasis on innovation - e.g. through

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Status Report

What projects is Eric working on, and what is the status of each? Find out here. Will list in order of importance.

 Packback

Takes up about 75% of my time most days. Enjoying my time here, feeling more and more like a real software engineer every day. Being the only one working on the backend full-time, I get the chance to make a lot of architectural decisions - with much feedback of course. We’re hiring someone senior to help distribute the workload and also teach the rest of the team lots of new things, so check out working for Packback.

 Illinois Institute of Technology

Still in school, though part-time - taking two classes, both online. One’s a project management class tailored towards IT projects, and the other one is a web design/HCI class. Both are relatively easy, though now group projects are starting and that can be difficult to manage. Will be taking classes over the

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Simple

Eric: I am pretty sure the world is going insane. Who is the crazy one?

Krisztián: The world’s always been insane. Life could be as simple as just getting food, water, and shelter, but we humans choose to make it harder for ourselves.

Recent events have made me consider the fate of humanity even more than I have in the past. I am not confident we are moving in the right direction as a whole, and the Internet amplifies reasons for concern. After having this exchange with a good friend, it made me think yet again about the effects of technology and our modern society.

At Packback, one of our values is “We take time to fully understand a problem, and then work to create the simplest solution.” I feel we could do better at this on a global scale. Don’t start jumping into solutions before you fully understand the problem, and don’t create unnecessarily complex solutions. Simple words

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The Stack

As a full-stack engineer, I use a lot of different technologies, from the highest level to the lowest level.

Here’s some of the technologies I prefer for work and play: http://stackshare.io/EricTendian/eric-s-stack

Besides software, I use the following hardware:

  • Lenovo ThinkPad T430 - My workhorse computer. Gets the job done. Somewhat heavy, worn-down battery life around 4hrs. Computer of choice for any code I’m writing. Dual-booting Ubuntu 15.10 and Windows 8.1, both on an SSD.
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 - I bring this wherever I go. Has got free 4G LTE service (thanks Freedompop) and enough space to store a couple dozen apps, no music. Has a pretty good camera too. Custom Android ROM.
  • iPad Mini (1st gen) - For watching videos or doing other tasks that need a screen larger than a phone. Pretty slow, can only have 2-3 apps open max.
  • ASUS Chromebook Flip - The computer I bring to school and

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