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TV is broken minimalmac.com
610 points by rkudeshi  3 days ago   258 comments top
droithomme 3 days ago  replies      
There are many other things that are broken too.

My fancy expensive name-brand digital TV takes a full minute to boot up from a cold start, longer than it took my tube based TV from the 1950s to warm up.

Once on, it takes almost a full second to change channels while it rebuffers the stream of the channel being changed to. This prevents quickly flipping through channels to see what is on.

As a result I just don't bother most of the time. Which is fine, I watch much less TV.

We won't even get into how 720 screens don't really have 720 display pixels so even perfect size matches are resampled and interpolated, or how often I find I have to manually change the aspect ratio because it wasn't able to figure it out on its own.

Teller Reveals His Secrets smithsonianmag.com
594 points by stevengg  2 days ago   36 comments top 14
zecho 2 days ago 1 reply      
The real trick here is that Teller hasn't revealed anything new about the secrets of magic. One of the dirty secrets is that a magician does her best work with a willing audience.

People want to be amazed. All magic requires misdirection, sure, but the audience is usually in a frame of mind that's willing to suspend disbelief for a moment long enough for the magician to exploit it. Think about how a street magician works a group: "Would you like to see a magic trick?"

I know one magician who sets the frame of mind of his audience by doing something so ludicrous it attracts a crowd. He sits outside a fast food joint eating lunch and pulls an amazingly large straw out of the bag. It's more clever than "would you like to see a trick," but the effect is the same.

I've always been amazed how great magicians can take a relatively simple trick, like a forced card (which always offers an audience member a choice, but the card is always predetermined). Magicians do the sleight of hand right in front of a crowd of people, in plain sight, but nobody notices. Because they don't want to notice. They've allowed their minds to wander for a moment, which is why magicians rarely repeat tricks with the same audience and when they do, its usually a variation of the first that combines another trick (Teller's #5).

One of my favorite card tricks is a classic. Select a card and put it back in the middle of the deck. It keeps rising to the top of the deck every time you stick it in the middle. The reality is that you never actually get to put your card in the middle of the deck. You may have selected initially your card, but everything after that is controlled, down to how the magician makes you hold your card when it's handed back to you. My favorite way to start the trick is with a mental magic joke: Tell the subject to think of a card. Then flip over the top card in the deck, which is almost never the card, but would be pretty cool if it was. Then I pull their card out of the deck and begin controlling it through the routine. The whole point is to keep people off balance and to allow them to have what they truly want: entertainment.

Teller's story about the Cub Scouts is funny to me because I've found that children of a certain age (around 8-15 or so) are simply unwilling to get into the mindset.

Books are filled with advice for how to deal with members of the audience who are unwilling. They usually involve some kind of ridicule of the skeptics for the benefit of the rest of the audience (Teller's #2).

jawns 2 days ago 1 reply      
"You think you've made a choice, just as when you choose between two candidates preselected by entrenched political parties."

That about sums up American politics.

sedev 2 days ago 2 replies      
"Make the secret a lot more trouble than the trick seems worth. You will be fooled by a trick if it involves more time, money and practice than you (or any other sane onlooker) would be willing to invest. My partner, Penn, and I once produced 500 live cockroaches from a top hat on the desk of talk-show host David Letterman. To prepare this took weeks. We hired an entomologist who provided slow-moving, camera-friendly cockroaches (the kind from under your stove don't hang around for close-ups) and taught us to pick the bugs up without screaming like preadolescent girls. Then we built a secret compartment out of foam-core (one of the few materials cockroaches can't cling to) and worked out a devious routine for sneaking the compartment into the hat. More trouble than the trick was worth? To you, probably. But not to magicians."

Does anyone else see a strong isomorphism between that and the advice Seth Godin usually gives? It definitely seems like something an entrepreneur or marketer could learn from - like a way to delight people.

Avshalom 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here's a video of a similar talk he gave:
gdubs 2 days ago 1 reply      
The coolest magic trick I've witnessed was at a small club in Los Angeles, by a regular of the magic castle. He had me pick a card and without showing him the card, he had me rip the card into pieces and asked me to tightly close my fist. He said he was going to reconstruct the card. I stared at my hand, keeping the fist clenched and waiting for a misdirection. He simply tapped my fist and asked me to open my hand. There was the card, back together again, folded up with the creases -- as far as I could tell -- where the rips had been earlier. To this day I'm still unsure how it works. One of the coolest things I've ever seen.
gruseom 2 days ago 0 replies      
Choice is not freedom.

That's a great aphorism.

vacri 2 days ago 0 replies      
A great article, but it has a misunderstanding about what is 'science' trying to figure stuff out. He's right about the neuroscientists - they're trying to figure stuff out from the bottom up, and it's a fairly new discipline. But he's wrong to think that that's all science is. The other half of science in this field is psychology.

Neuroscience is a 'bottom-up' field, starting from the smallest components and trying to understand how they're interacting. Psychology is the 'top-down' field, starting with complex phenomenon and trying to break them down. The psychology of cognition and attenion is the stuff that's relevant where magic's involved. Much of the things that Penn & Teller expose in the workings of magic is known to cognitive and attentional psychology - it's the flawless execution to make it work that is the trick, an idea supported by the magician's mantra 'practise practise practise'.

The problem with the two disciplines above is that there's so much we don't know - we're nowhere near being able to make them 'meet in the middle'. The human mind is incredibly complex.

kanchax 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It is funny how it is fine to be manipulated. Perhaps it's something in our desire/bias to follow, and we do cause we feel respected by those two.
vilius 2 days ago 2 replies      
"It's hard to think critically if you're laughing."

I find this very useful while giving speeches. Most of the audience are quite critical before you can prove yourself worth their time. Putting an appropriate joke beforehand helps to grab their approval earlier.

OFF-TOPIC: Copying any part of the article automatically adds the url of an article to the clipboard. This is first time, I've seen this, very annoying!

Tycho 2 days ago 0 replies      
The magic industry is like a monument to the shortcuts taken by our mental apparatus of perception.
kennyma 1 day ago 0 replies      
Is he revealing his secrets or is he using #6 against us? :)
bipolarla 1 day ago 0 replies      
When we have a passion, skill and master something we create magic. Have you ever seen an athlete, teacher, speaker, salesperson, dancer, lawyer or the written word that put you in awe? This magic is created by transmuting energy, love, skill and practice. These are great skills to master. Anyone pitching to an investor or gaining new clients will do well to learn how to develop this magic.
Uglyfruit 1 day ago 0 replies      
To me those 7 points in Teller's article are very much related to EMOTIONAL DESIGN which is getting very popular among web designer. It is a very interest reading. Thanks for posting it.
GreekOphion 2 days ago 1 reply      
Teller should make a show that shows all of his secrets.
Right versus pragmatic marco.org
548 points by zdw  2 days ago   161 comments top 5
philwelch 2 days ago 7 replies      
There are lots of examples of this. Moralistic thinking simply isn't productive in this context. If you build an economic system that depends on everyone voluntarily cooperating rather than acting self-interestedly, self-interested people will ruin it; if your public health strategy for HIV is to discourage people from extramarital sex, lots of people will have extramarital sex and get HIV; if your strategy to compete with BitTorrent is to try and make people feel guilty about using BitTorrent, people will tune you out and use BitTorrent.

Of course, if you used those examples instead of a silly example about designing an office restroom, the HN thread gets derailed by people talking about economics or HIV. One could criticize the HN community for that kind of bikeshedding, but it's more pragmatic to just use a boring, contrived example to sell the point. Certainly, a HN thread won't end up filled with a side discussion about office restroom design.

julian37 2 days ago 2 replies      
Another solution (albeit more costly) would be to re-hinge the door so it swings outwards, and make the springs easy enough so people can push it open using their shoes.

That's not the gentleman's way of operating a door, but with the trashcan solution people also have to hold the door open somehow while disposing of the towel, unless it comes with springs that are adjusted just right so it stays open just long enough for people to sneak out in time.

Making the door open outwards is the right thing to do anyway with regards to fire safety, as far as I understand.

Of course, if you have the space to spare (without things getting too intimate) you can also just leave out the doors altogether, which is how many airports I've been to seem to handle the issue.

(I'd say an automatic bathroom door is overkill and a bit creepy, too, which probably is why I've never seen one.)

oz 2 days ago 1 reply      
"The signs never worked. Instead, they just annoyed and angered people. Some people even threw more paper towels on the floor because they didn't like the condescending way they were being instructed."

"This pattern is common. We often try to fight problems by yelling at them instead of accepting the reality of what people do, from controversial national legislation to passive-aggressive office signs. Such efforts usually fail, often with a lot of collateral damage, much like Prohibition and the ongoing “war” on “drugs”."

This is something I've learned in when trying to convince people to do something that's for their own good. Often times, it all too easy to yell. But human nature is such that if you 'attack' a person's beliefs or actions, (rational or not) they will defend them, further entrenching them and encouraging the person to continue if even out of spite.

Sure, sometimes an 'intervention' is necessary. But I've found that in most cases, it's more strategic to boil a person as a frog rather than a lobster.

xiaoma 1 day ago 5 replies      
I really don't understand where the author is coming from on this:


"One of the floor's tenants attempted to solve this problem by posting passive-aggressive notes on the paper-towel dispenser.

(Image of a paper with "Please discard paper towels into wastebasket." written on it)

The signs never worked. Instead, they just annoyed and angered people. Some people even threw more paper towels on the floor because they didn't like the condescending way they were being instructed.


That message is anything but passive-aggressive. It's direct, reasonable and courteous. It's also very ordinary and I've seen signs like it in various public restrooms, train stations, subway stations and other areas. If someone is actually angered by this kind of sign and decides to litter more as a response, they're probably not a very easy person to get along with.

In many places, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and much of east Asia, this problem is solved via fines. Over time the fines even change social norms about littering and the situation improves in areas without the fines. The analogy to copyright is pretty weak. Many places with more civilized norms in terms of litter really don't care about copyright infringement to the extent that English-speaking countries do. Copyright behavior has also been very resistant to being altered by fines.

jd 2 days ago  replies      
People are so grossed out by a doorknob they refuse to touch it, only to immediately walk to their desk to type on their keyboard. A keyboard which is typically far dirtier than the bathroom they just avoided touching[1]. Oh, the irony.

[1] http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Germs/story?id=4774746&page...

US Appeals Court: Forced Decryption Is Self-Incrimination volokh.com
508 points by zach  4 days ago   112 comments top 3
newbusox 3 days ago  replies      
Realize that this is a fairly narrow opinion, and, in my opinion, not a particularly well-reasoned one.

The issue here is child pornography: the would-be defendant was suspected of having child pornography on various hard drives which were encrypted. The court states that the actual contents of the hard drive are themselves not testimonial"that is, they are not covered by the Fifth Amendment and, if the government had access to the hard drives, they could present whatever was incriminating on them into evidence. So the issue is whether the act of producing the documents is a testimonial act and therefore covered by the Fifth Amendment

The court concludes that the act of production is a testimonial act because, one, the testimony was not a "foregone conclusion." This holding is based on a case called Fisher v. United States, in which the Supreme Court stated that it was not testimonial to hand over certain papers that might have incriminating evidence because conceding that documents existed, that you had control over the documents, or that they were in your possession was not incriminatory given the circumstances of that case. Under the "foregone conclusion" doctrine, the government knew of the existence and location of these papers so the production of the papers added nothing or little to the government's information. If the government did NOT know that documents existed, they could not compel a would-be defendant to reveal the documents.

Second, and most importantly, the court concluded that decrypting the documents would "use the contents of [the would-be defendant]'s mind" because "the decryption and production would be tantamount to testimony by Doe of his knowledge of the existence and location of potentially incriminating files; of his possession, control, and access to the encrypted portions of the drives; and of his capability to decrypt the files." It's again important to note that this is a child pornography case: possession of child pornography is a crime, so if the would-be defendant here provided a decryption key, this would be tantamount to him admitting that he possessed the hard drive and had access to the files within it"that alone would constitute a crime if the files were found to be child pornography. This is therefore what the court later refers to as an "implied factual statement" and the Fifth Amendment protects this. Although the court also suggests that providing a decryption key might be like providing a combination (and therefore be admissible for Fifth Amendment protection on other grounds), it unfortunately devotes very little space to this discussion"and this seems to be the really big issue here.

The case therefore leaves several unanswered questions: this is a child pornography cases where mere possession alone is a crime: what if that wasn't the case? What if this was a murder case and the defendant had stored notes about his murder on the computer? What if the foregone conclusion doctrine wasn't applicable"would the conclusion here be the same (most of the opinion is actually devoted to this discussion, which is less broadly applicable because, if the police know of the existence of specific files on hard drive, this doctrine is inapplicable)?

Anyhow: it still is possible to get access to these documents if the government gives him sufficient immunity, as the court notes. This would be pretty important because if no one could ever access these documents (which presumably would be possible if the would-be defendant doesn't decrypt them) that would be an enormous problem for our justice system.

In conclusion: the applicability of this case to future cases is unclear, so, for those that want this result, I don't really think this is a "slam dunk." There will likely be many future cases further developing this doctrine. As such, right now, it's very difficult to discuss the merits of the court's holding on the "decryption is testimony" argument (which, in my mind, is the most important) in a general sense, since the reasoning here seems very specific to the facts of case.

ChuckMcM 4 days ago 1 reply      
Wow I think they got one right. It will be interesting to see how the government continues. Since currently its only a decision in the 11th circuit. If the government appeals, it goes to the supremes and if they hold that its a violation of your fifth amendment then everyone in the country gets to claim the fifth rather than give up the key.

While I hate evil doers just as much as the next person I dislike the loss of civil liberties even more.

rosser 4 days ago  replies      
Am I correctly understanding this decision to mean that, if the government already knows there's incriminating data on the drive, a compelled decryption would not be testimonial (as in the referenced cases from the 5th Circuit); but that the gov't can't compel decryption in order to go on a "fishing expedition", as any evidence found would be self-incriminating, and thus incur 5th Amendment protection?

If so, that sounds spot-on correct to my (admittedly, lay and NAL) understanding of the issues.

EFF Wins Protection for Time Zone Database eff.org
450 points by taylorbuley  5 days ago   36 comments top 10
lsb 5 days ago 1 reply      
Why is there no penalty? Lawyers wasted a lot of billable hours over a suit filed over a copyright claim on facts. If there's no penalty for such frivolous claims, we'll keep having to fight the same fight, wasting money along the way.
click170 5 days ago 0 replies      
Obviously the lawsuit was a non-starter, any company that realized this would retract the complaint, but I was impressed by the apology.
It seems like in every suit I hear about where the company was wrong, they lose the case but still try to say they did nothing wrong and refuse to apologize. I was impressed this company did.
mattdeboard 5 days ago 1 reply      
I love the apology because it sounds exactly like the apology of a man (or organization) who has had it explained to him exactly what a very very bad position his activities have put him in. Really like seeing a complete apology unlike the "We apologize if we caused any discomfort..." ambivalent BS we see all the time.
nkassis 4 days ago 1 reply      
So that actually raises a question in my mind, does that make all database that don't include something new created by someone (I'm thinking book database, research databases) as non copyrightable?

I'm thinking of phone books as an example.

dylanvee 4 days ago 1 reply      
Dr. Eggert is a lecturer at UCLA, and a fantastic one at that (not to mention a huge contributor to various GNU projects). This quarter I have the pleasure of taking his Operating Systems class, and last year I got to take Programming Languages taught by him. I'm really happy about this outcome because people like him should never have to have their brilliance tempered by patent trolls.
figital 4 days ago 0 replies      
dlitz 3 days ago 0 replies      
What's the deal with these "covenants not to sue", lately, and how are they different from actual licenses?

My guess is that such covenants would not be binding on third parties who buy the underlying copyright/patent rights, but I don't really know.

jakejake 4 days ago 1 reply      
I'm really glad this has been resolved. Now I just wish there was an easier way to use the database. Have you ever had to code something with timezone awareness..? It's kinda nuts.
Matt_Rose 4 days ago 1 reply      
Does this mean that TZ database is back at elsie.nih.gov?
“What's the waiter doing with the computer screen?” javlaskitsystem.se
443 points by wilhelm  3 days ago   89 comments top 11
michaelbuckbee 3 days ago 3 replies      
You wouldn't expect a family owned pizza shop in a small, sleepy Ohio town to be a hive of scum and villainy but that's what installing a computerized ordering system discovered.

I had worked off and on through college at this same pizza shop and about midway through my time there they switched from paper written tickets to a lightpen based ordering system.

Everyone threw a fit: "It's too hard to use", "It's not as quick as just writing 'LP' for a large pepperoni and an illegible address on a piece of paper".

This goes on for a week, orders are slow to go out, things are messed up, the phone lines are always busy so everybody knows we're losing business (people hang up and call somewhere else or get frustrated waiting for their food to be delivered).

The owner's contemplating canceling the system and going back to paper until the weekly tally is done and it is discovered that revenue is actually UP 30% for the week.

Drivers were massively skimming by "losing" tickets: drivers would go out on a run, deliver 4 orders and only return the cash and tickets for 3 of them. Managers would pull the same trick after hours: toss a $20 ticket in the trash and pocket the cash.

The computerized order system (which everybody settled into after a while) was an astonishingly good investment for the shop - ROI measured in weeks - and quickly led to a 75% turnover in the staff.

I don't know what's in the 4 mouse clicks to check each reservation in (as mentioned in the article), those steps might be worthless, they might be what's preventing the maitre'd from taking a folded twenty and seating someone who just walked in versus the couple who made a reservation weeks ago - and pissing them off in the process.

And without that information it's very hard to say whether or not the UI of that application is good or bad. Employees on the ground maximize their personal short term interests, owners paying for infrastructure have both a longer term view and different incentives.

phil 3 days ago 0 replies      
I spent two years building one of these systems (http://rez.urbanspoon.com). It runs on the iPad and I'm pretty confident it's the market leader in terms of usability.

A lot of the responses in here make it out like this is about stupid arrogant programmers who didn't bother to understand anyone's needs. That's not true; what's really going on is that the design challenges are significant -- think high end calendaring plus inventory management, but used one handed for 5 seconds at a time. And design is not how restaurants get sold anyway -- they get sold on the marketing and table optimization stuff, which Live Bookings is actually pretty good at.

A good counterexample to look at are the back of house systems restaurants use. That's the touch screen they plug your order in to. Next time you're out to eat, notice the high information density and the fact that your server can key the entire order for your party of six in like 3 seconds. The fact that they all look like ass is not really relevant -- a lot of those setups are very well designed.

chops 3 days ago 1 reply      
Great story about interfaces designed by people who don't use the software.

I've been encountering similar bad interfaces as I've been working volleyball tournaments mainly to learn how large scale tournaments are run and frankly the software out there works like something I might have built 15 years ago when I first learned MSAccess and VBA - that is to say, the interface is terribly clunky and not at all intuitive.

Though for niche products visible only to workers and admins, the 'vim principle' applies: software CAN afford to be (initially) intuitive, if it speeds up the workflow after a bit of training. Unfortunately, this current tournament software does not do that to the degree it should. There's no reason it can't be both efficient and highly intuitive based on what I've seen.

I aim to fix that!

pragmatic 3 days ago 0 replies      
Isn't this really about the dichotomy between owner/manager and worker?

Many systems we built are specified by the managers of the workers. And of course they want lots metrics and fail safes and all kinds of extras the result in a really crufty system.

So the workers try all they can to "route around the damage" of such a system. And the workers aren't happy, but the management is, because for the first time, they can really see what is going on in the business.

This isn't a software issue, this is a fundamental split between management's and worker's interest.

If you think you are going to solve that with some fancy UI design and the latest touch screen hardware, well...I wish you luck.

ErrantX 3 days ago 1 reply      
A friend of mine has a restaurant and constantly gripes about the poor usability computer reservation system.

However he also pointed out one thing this blog misses (r.e. the reasons restaurants use them) and that is that it lets them automate reservations - i.e. let people reserve online.

Apparently this can be a major advantage now; significant enough to take the awkwardness.

He also mentioned that the computer has advantages over a whiteboard in that it is easier to modify cleanly, limits the number of things like double bookings and so forth, that a whiteboard can create. :)

dustingetz 3 days ago 0 replies      
There's this awesome karaoke bar in Philly where you can rent private rooms with their own karaoke machine. the interface is so bad, that I, a software engineer, was unable to get it to work without getting extremely frustrated, calling for help multiple times. so naturally I start thinking about how I could build a business around karaoke machines with nice UX and rent them. But it turns out a karaoke machine is useless without a library of content, and the company that builds them is a subsidiary of a Japanese label thus can negotiate discounts with content owners. It's just not something that's easy to compete with.

Anyway, I go to this karaoke bar about 6 times a year and drop a hundred bucks each time. I don't think they care to invest in UX right now ;)

anyway, if you extrapolate this idea a bit, it makes you wonder - if software is your business's core competency, and you're competing mostly on UX, maybe you are doing it wrong?

Too 3 days ago 4 replies      
Great story.

I think this is the same reason Microsoft Office is so popular when there usually are "better" alternatives. Because Word is like pen and paper with spell check. You can add whatever shit you want wherever you want with zero effort. But you don't realize the technical debt you will have to pay for later because nothing is consistent, diffing is a nightmare and your data is everything but normalized.

Want a header, just increase the fontsize, Is that really a header?
"Hmm, it's thick and big, whatever, did anyone say lunchbreak?" Save exit.

For small temporary documents like party-invitations this is fine, doing anything else would be silly. But companies actually use word for serious documents like 100+ pages technical specifications valid for years with tons of versions of each document. It is scary how much mission critical information that is stored in this form, at one of my previous jobs if changes happened outside our division, every document depending on this data had to be updated by hand because it's just plain text in word, nothing is connected or autogenerated. It's grunt work but it actually gets the job done sooner or later. I've seen this in several places. Word and excel keeps the world spinning even though it at the same time requires much more manpower than is reasonable.

Someone has to make an alternative to word that is as easy to use but doesn't allow you to do all the stupid stuff. Enforce styles, make references and other data-connections easy, smooth and reliable and provide a good diff.

I think this is one of the greatest challenges in software development, allow freedom at the same time as you have a strict data model that can be analyzed, processed and generated by a program. Something that paper will always beat, regardless of what kind of paper you get you can always write and highlight on it, with software that is very exceptional.

zyfo 3 days ago 1 reply      
For all you non-swedish people out there: Jävla skitsystem is swedish for "fucking shit system".
hippich 3 days ago 1 reply      
Something looked wrong a bit:

  And the companies selling computer systems (of all kinds,
in many businesses) usually push the possibilities to get
such data as big advantages with their system. But is it
worth the effort? In many cases, a headwaiter would
probably know most of what really matters anyway from
experience or rule-of-thumb.

Management, not headwaiter buys software, and results of this software most likely used by management to do right decisions. And what if headwaiter leave company, hit by a bus, abducted by aliens? It is better to have data in computer harddrive/tape/dvd.

Although, this is not an excuse for making something 4 clicks instead of one (i.e. to replace crossing something with a pen)

cperciva 3 days ago 6 replies      
I'm surprised they managed to find a whiteboard pen which didn't destroy their display. Most of them have solvents which I would expect to interact poorly with the surfaces of LCD monitors.
Peroni 3 days ago  replies      
Great story however I think the author is missing a link in the communication chain.

Computer systems are not always used as the developers suppose.

I would happily bet good money that the developers built what they believed to be a useful and efficient system that the thoroughly tested. A view that I will guarantee was shared by the restaurant owner who purchased the system and implemented it into his restaurant and spent valuable time teaching the staff how to use it.

A couple of busy nights later and the staff are struggling to remember the sequence they are meant to follow and instead of familiarising themselves and becoming more efficient with the system over time they implement a very basic system that takes less effort to remember.

This is less of a case of a poor system and more a case of poor management mainly because the staff obviously weren't trained and sold on the system properly and no follow-up checks have taken place to ensure the system is being used correctly.

The WorldWideWeb application is now available as an alpha release (1991) groups.google.com
429 points by bleakgadfly  4 days ago   125 comments top 5
simonw 4 days ago 5 replies      
"This project is experimental and of course comes without any warranty whatsoever. However, it could start a revolution in information access."
js2 4 days ago 3 replies      
To give a taste of how quickly this exploded. This is 1991. By 1995 I was working at a small ISP. The ISP existed only because there was demand to get on the web. I started my masters in 1996 but was then lured away by a job at Cox Interactice Media, a several hundred person division that Cox Enterprises setup just so it could have a web presence. That's just 5 years after this annoucement, and well, we know where it went from there. All for something that didnt exist when I graduated highschool.

Try to imagine inventing somthing with that kind of impact that quickly.

DanielKehoe 4 days ago 2 replies      
I was writing for NeXTWorld magazine at the time I saw TimBL's newsgroup announcement.

I mentioned it to a colleague at the magazine, John Perry Barlow, who emailed his friend Mitch Kapor at EFF, saying "[Kehoe] passed on the following about something called World Wide Web, which sounds rather like Project Xanadu emerging from the Matrix almost without design. This could be cool." Here's the original email (screen grab from my NeXT machine): http://www.fortuityconsulting.com/images/barlow.gif

I emailed TimBL and told him I'd asked my editors to let my co-editor and I write about it. TimBL was enthusiastic but warned me, "We have to avoid any embarrassment about CERN code being 'given away for free' when developed with European taxpayers' money. We are working on this but don't say anything in print about how one gets hold of the code without checking for latest developments first!" Here's the original email from TimBL: http://www.fortuityconsulting.com/images/timbl.gif

TimBL had no reason for concern -- my editors decided the story was not newsworthy and we never ran the piece.

I was working on a book proposal at the time, titled "Plugging Into the Planet," which introduced the Internet and explained how computer users could get connected to Usenet, Gopher, and WAIS. I added a section on the WWW. Random House, Bantam, and other major publishers turned it down. I was told books about modems didn't sell well.

When I saw TimBL's announcement, I felt it was an important project and worthy of notice. Still, I thought that calling it the WorldWideWeb was vainglorious; after all, how worldwide was it really, running on the handful of NeXTs that had Internet connections? It wasn't until John Markoff's December 1993 article in the New York Times describing NCSA Mosaic for Windows that popular interest in the web burgeoned. Even then, there were very few ISPs, modems were slow, and there was no easy way to create and serve web pages. That we now have the web is a testament to both the power of TimBL's vision and the enthusiasm of everyone who encountered it.

tambourine_man 4 days ago 2 replies      
There was a turning point for me, somewhere between the purchase of a 33.6 modem and upgrade from 30 monthly hours to unlimited dial-up, when the Web changed from a curiosity to the best thing ever.

The meme back then was that you could go to the Louvre from your home computer. But before those two upgrades it felt like it would be faster and cheeper to just take a plane. I had much more fun with CD-ROMs from computer magazines.

The other essential turning point was the discovery that the phone company would only charge you a single pulse from midnight to 6 am. So at 12:01, the horde of nerds would dispute the few available lines of the ISPs to try to get connected. No taximeter, no Moms inadvertently grabbing the phone and disconnecting you. That kind of shaped a whole generation's habits and schedules.

At about the same time there was also a change of culture. I remember having to call people to tell them I sent an email a few days ago. When people began answering me the same day, things started to get interesting. And then there was SPAM and we lost that forever :)

Or least until Gmail came along and rescued us with its magical bayesian filter and petabytes of data.

shingen 4 days ago  replies      
It'll never catch on.
WikiLeaks begins publishing 5 million emails from Stratfor pastebin.com
389 points by rdp  1 day ago   125 comments top 4
steve8918 23 hours ago 2 replies      
Like other HN members, I'm also a Strafor subscriber and my details and credit card information were leaked, so I have a vested interest in this issue.

At first I was pretty supportive of Stratfor, and thought that Anonymous attacking Stratfor was completely stupid.

However, a couple of things from the news release caught my eye. I guess I was naive, but I believed that Strafor was more like a news agency, and they would do their best work to uncover information, analyze breaking situations, and supply information to its members.

However, from reading the news release from Wikileaks, I get the vague sense that maybe Stratfor was gathering a lot more information than I thought, using it to their advantage, and then throwing a bone to its subscribers every now and then, just enough to keep them subscribing and generating income.

It certainly seems like there's a lot more going under the covers than I anticipated. The comment about "Control means financial, sexual or psychological control... This is intended to start our conversation on your next phase." makes it seem like Friedman is more than willing to make anyone their pawns, including subscribers.

Also, the idea of their StratCap Fund really kind of makes me question exactly what they are. I thought their motivations were really about analysis and information, but I kind of don't believe that now. At first, I didn't think the emails themselves were important, but now I'm definitely going to be keeping a close eye on whatever gets turned up from this point on.

kylemaxwell 1 day ago 1 reply      
I've read STRATFOR's intel summaries / newsletters for a while - and I generally support Wikileak's and Anonymous's goals, if not always their specific tactics. So this is grabbing my interest, both personally and professionally. If nothing else, it will be interesting to consider ways to apply their methodology to the sort of threat intelligence we work with in network security.

(Side note: it's entirely possible to support Wikileaks and still think Assange is kind of a jerk.)

SkyMarshal 1 day ago 1 reply      
An interesting article popped up on G+ the other day, outlining the effects the Cablegate release has had:


TLDR: US Government got mud on its face, but dictators around the world faired much worse, and the fallout for them is ongoing.

tzs 1 day ago  replies      
How is Stratfor fundamentally different from Wikileaks? They both obtain leaked information, often by methods of questionable legality. Stratfor uses the information to make reports and newsletters they sells to governments, businesses, and ordinary curious members of the public, whereas Wikileaks releases it for free but in ways that seemed designed to promote Assange, but I wouldn't say these are fundamental differences.

If Wikileaks were truly about bringing secret information to light, wouldn't they be protecting other leak organizations, rather that exposing their sources?

Why Do Some People Learn Faster? wired.com
377 points by mikeleeorg  4 days ago   81 comments top 3
tpatke 4 days ago  replies      
I think about Spolsky's post on programmer productivity quite often [1]. I think the most interesting part of the post is when he says, "The mediocre talent just never hits the high notes that the top talent hits all the time." Obviously, I wonder if I am a programmer who can hit the high notes and, if not, what it will take to get there.

When I read a post like this, I try to apply it to making myself a better programmer in the "high note" sense. Trouble is - it just doesn't apply (and I am a huge fan of Dweck's work). This article is one for the masses - not people who are trying to create the next Google. Motivation, hard work and an ability to learn from mistakes are all necessary, but ultimately not sufficient for our craft.

If I had to guess what the missing ingredient is, I would say creativity.

Heck - we are programmers. We get immediate feedback on our mistakes all day long and anyone reading this post has most likely gotten really really good and learning from those mistakes. ...but, how many of us are hitting those high notes?

[1] http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/HighNotes.html

trustfundbaby 4 days ago 2 replies      
I wish I had happened on this article 10 years ago ... I was always very good at school, so I picked up what I thought were bad habits. Reading this now, it's clear that what I was doing was protecting myself from failure. When I'd do badly on a test in a class that I thought I should do well in, I'd stop taking the class seriously so that when I got a 'C' I could kid myself and say "I did that and wasn't even really trying"

Oddly enough, I never made much of the fact that if I really wanted to do well in a class (because I was in love with the subject teacher for example ... :D) I could actually put the work in to get to the top of the class ... I just put it down to being smart.

This had a lot of bad repercussions when I went to college. For the first time in my life I was not only competing with a shitton of people just as smart as me, but almost as many people who were WAAAAAY smarter. Trying really really hard to only make B's was a huge blow to my psyche and I was very demoralized and uninspired for a long time. It wasn't until I realized that not only did it take hard work, but for me, inspiration or passion was necessary to truly excel at something. That's when I realized that I just had to shun things I really wasn't interested in and devote myself to things that I really wanted to be good at.

Even nowadays, I still look at people in this field who I consider quasi geniuses (DHH, Yehuda, Resig) and wonder if I can ever get to that level, and whenever I doubt myself, I go back and read this very deeply inspiring article from John Nunemaker http://railstips.org/blog/archives/2010/01/12/i-have-no-tale...

wallflower 4 days ago  replies      
"Most people say it's easier to pick up languages when you're younger," says David Green, of University College London, who specialises in bilingualism.

"But people can learn languages at any point in their lives. Being immersed in a language is important. Personality is a contributing factor too - not being able to tolerate feeling foolish from making inevitable errors will make learning a new language a difficult process.

"The cult of the hyperpolyglot"


Tesla: Not so easily bricked idc-insights-community.com
360 points by kghose  4 days ago   154 comments top 4
feralchimp 4 days ago  replies      
This whole bricking story is a little ridiculous.

There are any number of easy ways to 'brick' an internal combustion engine, and yet we're not all torches 'n' pitchforks over them. Partially because ICEs have been around so long that the relatively short list of "things to avoid" is burned indelibly into the popular consciousness. Partially because over a hundred-odd years of continuous engineering, a typical ICE can take a hell of a lot of abuse before it fails.

And note that the "shit that might happen to you" column still isn't trivially dismissed on the ICE side, even after 100+ years of safety engineering. We physically pump highly-flammable liquids into our gas tasks; people still occasionally get burned or even die doing that shit!

Couldn't find many stats, but this is interesting:

Let's assume the $40k figure is at all likely for a vehicle owner that RTFM'd. I'm pretty sure anyone ever burned in a gas-fueled vehicle fire would gladly go back in time to fork over $40k to avoid that experience.

ajays 4 days ago 3 replies      
I think the original article also made the same claim: Tesla is "not so easily bricked" (given the fact that 'only' 5 cases could be found). So this isn't a rebuttal.

If it was to be a rebuttal, the claim would be "Tesla cannot be bricked" or something like that.

This article did not do any background work. Why didn't he talk to the Tesla service manager(s) who were quoted in the original article? Even if he managed to talk to 1 of the 5 and showed that it was not a bricking, then he would have a point. But the way it is, the current article does almost nothing to refute the original.

Duff 4 days ago 1 reply      
The headline should read "Tesla: Not so easily bricked under normal circumstances".

The problem here is that not everyone lives in California, and most people think of cars as durable (vs. perishable) goods. Those two things cause problems for people who are edge cases. In places like Michigan or New York or Massachusetts, it's not 70F all year round. We have this quaint concept called "winter". In the winter, the local governments dump salt on the roads, snow and slush make driving dangerous, and when it doesn't snow, you get dusty blowing salt on the highways.

Because of this, people with the means to buy $50,000 sports cars leave them in garages for the winter. Or they head to the Caribbean for a vacation. Or both. For a car with an internal combustion engine, you usually remove the battery or trickle charge it, but the consequence of not doing so is buying a $100 battery at your local mechanic.

Another thing to consider is the meaning of "normal" as it applies to the market. If you're a working stiff, you drive every day. You may even drive to get to your vacation. People buying $50,000 cars with the limitations that electric cars have today aren't working stiffs, and their leisure patterns are probably quite different than most folks.

Peroni 4 days ago  replies      
Hang on, at what point did anyone claim they were 'easy' to brick? The argument is not about how easy they are to brick, it's about the fact that the entire car is rendered useless if bricked unless you're willing to pay $40k to get your vehicle back on the road again.

If the cars were easy to brick there would be a significantly larger number of documented cases than what currently exist.

Should All Web Traffic Be Encrypted? codinghorror.com
350 points by hartleybrody  4 days ago   128 comments top 5
SoftwareMaven 4 days ago 4 replies      
Just Tuesaday, I sent an email around the company discussing SSL vulnerabilities, how they impact our product, and ways we can mitigate that. I've pulled out the parts specific to our product, but the rest may be interesting. I would love feedback on things I may have missed. FWIW, it doesn't instill great confidence in SSL, but it isn't completely horrible.
1. It is possible to pretend to be any site you want if you 1) find a sleezy CA (and they exist aplenty) or get the government involved and 2) can get between your browser and your final destination (like, for example, a wifi hotspot). There will be no way (reasonable) way to tell you aren't connected to whom you think you are.


This could be addressed using http://convergence.io/

2. Way easier, but leaving some tell-tale signs you can find is to simply put yourself between your victim's browser and his server and convert all the links that come back to be insecure links that go through you. You then encrypt them as you pass them on to their final destination, while being able to see everything that happens. This is trivial to set up, but can be gotten around simply by using bookmarks that specify HTTPS.


This won't go away until everybody is using 100% SSL and HTTP (unencrypted web traffic) is turned off in browsers.


3. For the very determined, it is possible to determine the symmetric key a particular SSL session is using if you have some luck, some skill, and some time (about 30 minutes).


This requires a protocol change to SSL. We've known about (theoretical) vulnerabilities for 10 years, yet most sites still run old versions of SSL. Given how slowly people like banks update infrastructure technology, I don't see this one going away for a long time.

4. If a site is improperly configured, it may allow an attacker to gain access to the cookie representing your secure session by making an insecure request. This is another class of vulnerabilities made possible by using untrusted networks. The misconfiguration allows the browser to send your (supposedly) secure cookies in an unsecured request simply by making any request (typically done by inserting JavaScript into an unsecured page you are browsing). It is possible to mark cookies as "secure only", but services will choose not do that so you don't lose your session if you type http://example.com instead of https://example.com.


TomGullen 4 days ago 3 replies      
Lesser known HTTP feature that I love, instead of linking to resources like follows:

<link rel="shortcut icon" href="http://static4.scirra.net/images/favicon.ico />

You should link as follows:

<link rel="shortcut icon" href="//static4.scirra.net/images/favicon.ico" />

The double forward slash will select the current protocol the page is being viewed on which means no security errors if you're switching between http/https!

harryh 3 days ago 3 replies      
One item that this (excellent) blog post does not adress is what to do about referer information which is generally not passed along when clicking on links on sites being browsed over SSL.

In order to "get credit" for all of the traffic that they send everywhere twitter had to develop a fairly elaborate system of redirections (built into t.co) to make sure that clicks from twitter.com ended up being sent out to the rest of the web with referer information.

It would be a real shame if everyone in the world had to develop a similar process.

Part of me thinks that browsers should start sending referer information even when you click on links for SSL sites, though this change would bring with it other problems.

It is not at all obvious (to me at least) what that best thing to do here is.

cookiecaper 4 days ago 0 replies      
It's too bad this refers to SSL. There are sometimes good reasons not to use SSL, but there is rarely a good reason to send emails that contain any business, financial or security information over plaintext. Anyone who gets mails that amount to more than "Hey what's up man" should provide you with a public key for mail crypto.

Also, it is very smart to use full-disk encryption and also encrypt sensitive info on that disk in a separate encrypted file (often preferably with something like TrueCrypt that allows plausible deniability via hidden volumes) if your computer is used for anything important.

Think of the extent of damage that would have hit HBGary or any of the many other companies that have found themselves in a similar quagmire if they had employed some of that computer security knowledge to encrypt mail and required digital signatures before doing anything important (hint: the answer is 0).

You may have a competitor hooked into your mail server for years before you know anything has happened, while you scratch your heads and wonder why they always beat you to the punch on new products and steal your big clients.

You may have a hostile government agency after you for completely innocuous things, like downloading public domain research article. In this case, lots of encryption is going to buy your lawyers lots of time even if the judge eventually orders you to decrypt all of it; hopefully the real goods are hidden somewhere where they won't find them (like in a TC hidden volume, perhaps "in the cloud" in an encrypted file on Tahoe-LAFS over I2P).

sp332 4 days ago  replies      
I use the EFF's Firefox addon called "HTTPS Everywhere". It has a list of websites that have HTTPS enabled, and whenever your browser is directed to the plain-HTTP version, it will go to the HTTPS version instead. https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere A useful (but tbh kinda annoying) companion addon is the HTTPS Finder. It checks to see if the website you're currently browsing also has an HTTPS version, and will add a rule to the HTTPS Everywhere addon. (It also has a "whitelist" of sites that this breaks.) https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/https-finder
Balsamiq integrates with UX.StackExchange.com balsamiq.com
343 points by asder1  12 hours ago   21 comments top 9
giberson 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Whoops, here's an unfortunate UX hiccup in the implementation:

Here is how to edit someone else's mockup for your own post:

     1) edit the original question/answer containing the mockup you want to improve

2) copy the part between
<!-- Begin mockup
End mockup -->

3) hit cancel

4) .. more steps

This seems poorly planned to me. Instead, like the edit link, there should simply be an iterate link.

But otherwise, I think this is a very positive and helpful integration. Perhaps similar positive integration might be sites like JS fiddle that allow you to run code in the browser would be great integration for the programming stack overflows.

spicyj 11 hours ago 5 replies      
I wonder how they can do this without compromising sales of their main product -- it seems like many people can now just use the free version linked from ux.se instead of getting a proper myBalsamiq account.
alanh 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Always crazy ironic that Balsamiq requires Flash, possibly the most UX-hostile platform out there.

Strategically speaking it's awkward because Flash is literally dead†, and unavailable on the most popular couch computer ever, the iPad.

What's the UX look like for someone coming across one of these posts on their couch, now?

†Officially abandoned on mobile & Linux, as Adobe realigns Flash to niches like gaming

epaga 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is one of those beautiful win-win-win situations - everyone in this situation is happy - StackExchange, Balsamiq, and the users. What a great idea, and props to all involved for making it happen.
vessenes 10 hours ago 0 replies      

My first words after reading, (and I'm alone in my office, so totally unsolicited) "Ohhh, how awesome is that!"

It's always nice when you can do something to make the world a better place at scale.

jessegavin 9 hours ago 0 replies      
My company uses JIRA (with Balsamiq integration) and it rocks! I am so glad to have this implemented on the UX.SE site. Thanks.
lancefisher 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Great idea. Having Balsamiq integrated into ux.stackexchange.com seems to be a win-win for both companies. Stackexchange get more tools for describing Q & A, and Balsamiq gets more people aware of and using their product.
kemka 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Very cool indeed, but ironically, I don't think editing the wireframe is very "user friendly". Anything requiring me to click "edit" on someone's post, copying code, canceling, pasting, and THEN having the ability to edit the mockup isn't ideal.
robee 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is really awesome. I will use this a ton.
A Senseless Conversation sites.google.com
300 points by nyellin  3 days ago   97 comments top 8
Jach 3 days ago 3 replies      
Nice short story. For a full sci-fi book of this genre, check out Permutation City.

For another fun question: "What time is it?"

And lastly a quote: "The effort of using machines to mimic the human mind has always struck me as rather silly: I'd rather use them to mimic something better." ~E.W. Dijkstra

petercooper 3 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone remember a thread of comments on HN a year or two ago where a guy was placing bets that he could totally swing your opinion on giving a sentient AI freedom? Supposedly he convinced everyone and won every bet but no-one revealed what he did and I thought this was going to be a posting of one of those conversations at first ;-)
carbocation 3 days ago 3 replies      
I was imagining an alternative version in which Douglas later reveals that he was not participating at all in the conversation; his computer was covering for him. Good read; thanks for sharing.
unimpressive 3 days ago 1 reply      
Fitting. Just a few minutes before reading that I had one of those "Contemplating your hands" epiphanies. I sat down in my computer chair, reached over to my mouse and came to a dead stop. A thought had brought itself to the foreground.

"I can't feel myself move."

Now when I say this I don't mean a numbness, or loss of the senses. But I couldn't discern what exactly I was doing that made my arm move. Or any other part of my body for that matter. That was silly of course, I move them all the time. So I tried moving them slowly, and felt a slight sensation.

Of course I thought; the slight sensation isn't really the feeling of moving my arm, it's the feeling of matter like air brushing against it. After all, I am basically sitting in a tank of atmosphere. Nerves report state, but aren't really projecting the feeling of movement.

That thought chain quickly led to a minor existential freakout. (During which I puzzled over the question of how the hell I move at all.)

I eventually generated three hypotheses:

1) The feeling of movement simply isn't reported by nerves. Introspection can't discern your cognitive processes, so why should it be able to your physical ones?

2) The feeling of movement is so faint that its overshadowed by the mere touch of air/one's own body hair. I know that when I'm in the deepest state of somnolence just before sleep; it's very often for me to realize I need to get up to do something, and struggle against the inhibitions on your movement somnolence induces before sleep. I can feel the struggle of this, it also feels the same if you try to fight sleep paralysis. One could argue that this is the feeling of movement.

3) You could argue that the feelings reported by nerves about the state of your environment are the feeling of movement. After all, feelings are just signals sent by nerves and interpreted by the brain. These feelings are generated by movement, and thus are indeed the feeling of movement.

4) My understanding of cognition is too incomplete to even hypothesize something remotely plausible.

Now, considering that so many articles on sleep studies mention them, I'm sure that the mechanics of how the brain controls the body are well understood and that if I'm truly curious I can google it. (Which is something I might just do.)

But the real reason I shared that anecdote, besides being semi-relevant to the topic at hand. Is because I took my ability to move for granted. In the same way that I take the idea that we could all be a simulation for granted. I've considered that a non-zero possibility for quite some time now.

I'll admit that I read some of the comments here before reading the story. (A big no no for science fiction, a genre that thrives on twists.) And after glancing at Tichy's comment, was afraid I might have spoiled it for myself. However, the journey is more important than the destination, so the concept of such a twist automatically made me go read the story. I was thoroughly disappointed with the ending.

The concept of a memory loop isn't really new. (I've seen it mostly explored in the context of time travel, but still.) But trapping a human in a text interface and presenting it as the thinking machine? Morbidly delicious. (In all the right ways.) And useful too. I could pull it out any time someone exhibits signs of having decided that a computer program can't be conscious simply by virtue of not being implemented on a human brain.

Having a human brain with no senses hooked up presented as a computer program would really drive home the message.

EDIT: Regarding the story, my immediate thought after finishing was questioning why if the program panicked because it lost all it's senses, why didn't he simply swap out the memories of J. Random. Person. With someone who already accepts that they might be a simulation. I'm sure that if they really believed that, it would be possible to calm them down by explaining that they are a simulation of themselves. And for bonus points, if someone were to consent to have their memories used for this (It isn't stated how he actually got the memories mind you.) that they would already have the possibility of being the simulation strongly in their head. And would eventually accept that they are a non-human.

Though, if you consent to something like this, you essentially ensure that you can never be sure weather your you or a replay of your memories. Though as it stands, you can't really determine this already. Which makes for one of those classic thought experiments that still has mileage.

Trains of thought down this road are probably inherently unresolvable, but still fun to try.

Tichy 3 days ago 1 reply      
Could also be a horror story about a human in a tank who was made to believe it is a computer. The whole tank could then be presented as an intelligent machine.
cousin_it 3 days ago 1 reply      
Sam Hughes wrote the same story 3 years earlier and I think I like his version better: http://qntm.org/difference
bwarp 3 days ago 0 replies      
Several thousand years later... http://www.terrybisson.com/page6/page6.html
maeon3 3 days ago  replies      
Computers are somewhere between humans and bacteria on the conscious scale. Biological or mechanical are just two different ways to shuttle electrons around.

I will proudly stand up for the rites of computers as citizens of this country when they exhibit significant signs of ability to choose their own course and have opinions.

The computers will be our children, they will colinate the galaxy, and if we are lucky we can subscribe to the experience streams.

Open Web Device openwebdevice.com
290 points by bergie  16 hours ago   90 comments top 12
daeken 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Wow, what a thing to wake up to! At the heart of the Open Web Device is Mozilla's Boot2Gecko project. I just joined up with Mozilla on B2G a couple weeks ago and it's been an honor to work alongside so many amazing people, with a great goal: building a truly open mobile ecosystem. If you guys have any questions about B2G itself, feel free to ask and I'll do my best to answer.
benihana 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Until I use this, I'm going to hold off on the excitement everyone seems to have for it.

The tagline is "The Device the developer community is waiting for." That's great for the developer community. Unfortunately, the developer community is a small minority of people and honestly, people don't really care if their device is easy to develop for. People care how good their device is. If a device is easy to develop for, but it's slow, or clunky or crashes all the time or doesn't have features that people expect out of a mobile device, what's the point?

mikehuffman 15 hours ago 2 replies      
This is actually a big deal. It is a step in the right direction to take care of the missing pieces of mobile app development. I really believe that in 5 years time, "application development" will be just assumed to be web app development and not desktop application development.
bergie 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm amazed how quickly they seem to be moving this. It wasn't that long ago that I first heard about Boot2Gecko (the wiki page is from last July), and now they already have some hardware partners and operators lined up. Quite a difference to the momentum behind MeeGo and Tizen...

I guess a big difference is that the driver here is Mozilla, a foundation that most players in the field don't see as a direct competitor, and which already has a very good name in the web space.

drivebyacct2 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Wow. Judging by the number of nay-say commenters, it's obvious they should have included a hands on video. Sadly each one I've found seems to be a fairly different build. The one The Verge has is decent.


eaurouge 10 hours ago 0 replies      
"Qualcomm currently delivers the chipset for a large volume of Android based smartphones, which is the DNA of the device. By tightly integrating the Open Web Device with the chipset we will guarantee that any OEM will be able to manufacture a device with very little effort: it will be almost a plug & play procedure."

I think this is a bad idea. Why would you want to lock down the hardware at such an early stage?

malandrew 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I hope that some sort of support for inter-app linking is supported.

One of the biggest problems with native apps on iOS and Android is support for moving from one app to another, but still allowing the user to easily return to the originating app.

At the moment, the only native support for this kind of feature that I can think of is maps support. For example, if you click on a Google Maps directions link on OS X, the Google Maps application is opened automatically instead of maps.google.com in the web browser.

Dunno if this would require a dedicated link button that remembers the app you came from to take you back there or not. Perhaps there is a more elegant solution. It's possible that Hypermedia JSON APIs could play a role in helping people move between apps.

Whatever solution is adopted, making it easy for the user to return to the originating app with ease is of utmost important, because this will create an environment where app developers will fill comfortable partnering with other app developers by including inter-app links.

goatslacker 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I for one am very excited to see B2G finally ship. I'm anxious to see how well this OS performs and how well thought out is user experience is. I trust Mozilla, they build quality products. The competition is fierce though and the carriers ultimately have too much power here in the US. I really hope B2G is committed to competing in the mobile arena.
icebraining 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Maybe it's prejudice, but I feel uneasy with their connection with Telefonica, after seeing so many Spanish users (including some family members) complain about them
josegonzalez 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Doesn't support + signs in email addresses. Awesome. Does not inspire confidence in a platform that is based on internet standards, where email is an important part of communication.
notatoad 10 hours ago 3 replies      
How is this going to handle updates? Obviously the UI/html5 portion will be trivial to update, but Firefox gets updated every six weeks. Is the system core going to lag behind the rest of the Firefox ecosystem, or ami I going to have to rely on my carrier or manufacturer to push out system updates every six weeks?
AndrewDucker 15 hours ago  replies      
It looks like all "apps" are web pages. I'm looking forward to seeing how well they can make it run things like Angry Birds.

And how well they deal with background tasks. On Android I can upload my photos in the background, or play music through Spotify (or my MP3 app) while I'm doing other things. Will I be able to do similar things here?

Interesting Windows Desktop UI Concept theverge.com
285 points by robinraszka  2 days ago   69 comments top 11
nchlswu 2 days ago 3 replies      
Not to take away from the work, but am I missing something? This strikes me as primarily being a visual design or what some people call a theme.

This is a great visual design. It's cohesive and incorporates zune/metro very well. I particularly like how the focus window is highlighted and everything else fades a little. However, I think this redesign (and Metro itself) also highlights how minimalism isn't necessarily the best trend to follow - at least not to the extremes. I see a design that's somewhat flat and we may perceive differently if the background was a solid colour.

51Cards 2 days ago 0 replies      
Visually it looks nice but practically I don't think it works for a lot of users. I would guess that with all the white-space and over-sized elements you're only getting maybe 50% of the same content on a screen layout. What this would be good for say is to throw Windows into a "Streamlined" mode. Set basic users set this interface and then use the stock UI for advanced users.
kamechan 2 days ago 3 replies      
reminds me of the current google design paradigms.
wish the creator would make this into a gnome3 theme (and possibly a dark version)? i would totally use it.
pbhjpbhj 2 days ago 1 reply      
Welp, I don't like it. It's too, erm, "indistinct" [which itself is a pretty nondescript description!]. For MS I suspect they couldn't use this as a major theme because of lack of contrast.

On a consistency POV, in http://img198.imageshack.us/img198/9029/desktopoy.jpg, why does the [web] browser have a separated tab bar but the file manager doesn't? No tabbed file browsing? Why are the tabs in the skype window not coloured like those of the browser window?

Aside: Which leads me on to wonder as cloud storage and web apps grow ever more the focus will we move back to the earlier concept behind IE [and Konqueror and the like] of browsing local and web-based content through a single interface.

Couple of other questions on the UI - why is the top padding inconsistent, and so large (it's massive isn't it?!); where is the limit of the scrollbar and why don't the scrollbars start a consistent distance from the top of the window.

I can see why it's loved by those being vocal about it; but it's not for me.

sek 2 days ago 8 replies      
Is there any good resource to learn how to use colors in design, the stuff i make always looks like crap because i only take standard ones.

I envy this guy for this ability, incredible good taste in unobtrusive colors.

Havoc 2 days ago 0 replies      
Looks like Windows with a thick layer of gmail paint.
planckscnst 2 days ago 1 reply      
This reminds me of one of my favorite GTK themes: Elegant Brit (http://gnome-look.org/content/show.php/?content=74553).
jeffchuber 2 days ago 1 reply      
Agree with other's comments. Looks a ton like new Google. And why all the backlash against structure? People like structure.
DanBC 1 day ago 0 replies      
I look at the Explorer window...


...and I see that the columns are titled:

    120 items,detail view     date     type

So you can sort by date, or type, but not name? And you can't adjust the column width?

I gave up then.

pooriaazimi 2 days ago 0 replies      
Though I'm not a Windows user (and won't be in the foreseeable future), but I really liked it. This one was particularly nice and novel: http://img254.imageshack.us/img254/4174/explorer3.jpg
no-espam 2 days ago  replies      
Hmmm looks like Zune. I'll argue it's one the best pieces of software to come out of Microsoft. Too bad MS just killed.
YouTube Identifies Birdsong As Copyrighted Music c4sif.org
280 points by frankydp  1 day ago   75 comments top 11
ryanjmo 23 hours ago 1 reply      
This just happened to me with a parody video I created. I created all the music from scratch and obviously rewrote all the lyrics. And UMG review my video and said that it was indeed their property. So, I can not run ads against the video, which at this point has probably cost me $500-$1,000. There is nothing I can do right now but wait and hope YouTube changes its mind...

The video:


Here is what I see:

These content owners have reviewed your video and confirmed their claims to some or all of its content:
Entity: UMPG Publishing Content Type: Musical Composition

These content owners have reviewed your video and agreed with your dispute:
Entity: Music Publishing Rights Collecting Society Content Type: Musical Composition

Your dispute is still awaiting a response from these content owners:
Entity: Social Media Holdings Content Type: Musical Composition

What should I do?

No action is required on your part. Your video is still available worldwide. In some cases ads may appear next to your video.

What can I do about my video's status?
Please note that the video's status can change, if the policies chosen by the content owners change. You may want to check back periodically to see if you have new options available to you.

Please take a few minutes to visit our Help Center section on Policy and Copyright Guidelines, where you can learn more about copyright law and our Content Identification Service.

fragsworth 1 day ago 5 replies      
I am pretty sure this amounts to fraud on the part of Rumblefish.
Tyrannosaurs 16 hours ago 0 replies      
So there are two things here.

The first is Google's algorithm incorrectly identified something as another work. This is bit is a bit "yeah, whatever". False positives will happen, what's important is the processes that are put in place around the algorithm to help resolve the errors.

And that's the second bit and the foobar bit, where a "human" check has confirmed it. Now, I may be skeptical but it feels very much like no-one ever looked at this, that Rumblefish basically automatically reply "yeah, that's ours" to any request or question and then leave it up to the poor video owner to show otherwise.

What I'd suggest needs to happen here is, at the very least, Google, Rumblefish or whoever need to state the piece of work that's being infringed. On Google's part this should be trivial - it's algorithm must have got a match against something specific which is cataloged.

The "copyright owner" at that point has a far more straight forward check (if they bother with it) and the video producer at least knows more about the claim rather than ending up in a slightly Kafka-esque position.

lukeschlather 1 day ago 2 replies      
During the SOPA mess, a lot of people on this site were saying that the DMCA is fine, we don't need a new law.

However, it seems pretty clear that the DMCA is not fine. There need to be better protections against this sort of thing - no hiding behind "it wasn't a DMCA takedown notice" when your automated takedown bot fraudulently implicates someone.

Also, and this almost goes without saying, we need to modify the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA to at least legalize jailbreaking, whether the device is an iPhone, a PS3, or whatever. Though ideally the anti-circumvention provisions should be repealed wholesale, since they're unreasonably broad and create huge damages for a wide class of perfectly valid uses.

dpearson 1 day ago 2 replies      
What is truly appalling here is the claim that the video had been reviewed by humans, who had determined that birdsong was copyrighted music (although the birds ought to be flattered by that), and, as such, Rumblefish is either lying (about having looked at all), hoping to make a quick buck, or criminally incompetent. I wouldn't be surprised if Rumblefish was trying to make a buck or two off of ads here, but I'm guessing that that's their standard response, and they hope whoever made the video will give up.
extension 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a massive problem on YouTube right now. Essentially, there are a few large troll operations that abuse Google's "Content ID" system to steal ad revenues from random accounts, while Google shows no interest in fixing the system or shutting down the fraudulent accounts. The targetted videos often contain original music or no music at all. It's so common that it seems to be a fact of life for anyone as soon as they start monetizing their videos, and it's enough to remove any desire I have to do business with Google.
KristianRoebuck 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I was so furious after reading this article, I wrote to Rumblefish demanding an explanation.

Anyway, it's good news, I've just received this email.


Thank you for your note, just read your email and I share your concern.  The YouTube content ID system mis-ID'd birds singing as one of our artists songs.  We reviewed the video this evening and released the claim that YT assigned to us.  One of our content id representatives made a mistake in the identification process and we've worked diligently to correct the error once we were made aware of it earlier today.

Thank you for voicing your concern.  Very much appreciated.  We're doing our best to improve the process as it's very challenging for our team to keep up with the massive amount of claims coming through which grow every day.

All the best,

Paul Anthony | Founder and CEO | Rumblefish

bnr 13 hours ago 0 replies      
utunga 1 day ago 1 reply      
has google published anything about how their audio copyright detection algorithm works? i ask because i know some people faced with the (clearly related, it seems) problem of automatically recognizing birdsong (as in - identifying from background noise, and figuring out what species).
rorrr 1 day ago 1 reply      
Small claims court. Sue them for damages (and punitive, if small claim courts allow).

Also, report Rumblefish for sending fake DMCA requests, it's illegal.

nextparadigms 1 day ago  replies      
The question here is not about Youtube's algorithm being perfected or not, but about why they are having such an automatic censorship tool in the first place?

They aren't doing anything illegal by not having the tool, which means they are doing it voluntarily, and since the tool is not perfect, Youtube itself can be more abusive than the copyright owners asking for takedowns. Google needs to stop this practice.

Israel to destroy Palestinians' solar panels sacbee.com
280 points by georgecmu  2 days ago   163 comments top 3
drats 2 days ago 5 replies      
This is totally irrelevant to HN and is one of the issues on the Internet most likely to start a flame war. Flagged. georgecmu you appear to have been around HN a good while, which surprises me as it's more than long enough to know this is totally inappropriate. Go to reddit.com/r/worldnews or one of the other relevant subreddits if you want to discuss this issue.
orbitingpluto 2 days ago 3 replies      
If you want to take an entrepreneurial lesson from this:

1) Get your permits. Dot your Is, cross your Ts if you can. If you can't and you think you are in the right, you should probably do it anyway.
2) If someone infinitely more powerful than you wants you to fail, things will not be easy for you.
3) Politics, business and technology mix whether you want them to or not.
4) If you are a powerful entity bullying your competition, there will be bad PR. There may be consequences in the future. You've been warned and it may be in your long-term interests to behave yourself.

Interestingly enough as I read the above I see a strong pro-Palestinian bent. But the 3 Jews sitting next to me right now would see me as a more middle-of-the-road-why-can't-we-all-get-along sort.

ucee054 1 day ago  replies      
This post is no less informative and no more political than, for example, this post on ACTA:

In my understanding it is in fact both acceptable under the guidelines and especially relevant to hackers and I will explain my reasoning on each point in order.

The post is acceptable under the guidelines because it is factual reporting about Palestine and Israel, which is important information that I do not believe would normally get reported in the US media. I have seen airplay of criticism (demonization even), mostly of the Palestinians but occasionally of the Israeli settlers, but not the facts.

I believe that the reason the facts about Palestine are suppressed is because of organized "Hasbara" (public relations) efforts by Israel's supporters in the USA. (Example link: http://www.hasbara.com/)

(I believe the factual record is one sidedly unflattering to Israel, so I believe that to be the Israeli motive.)

Otherwise I can't explain why there hasn't been more uproar about Israel's killing of US servicemen
(Link http://www.chicagotribune.com/services/newspaper/eedition/ch...)

Israel's attempted sale of US military secrets to China

or use of Israeli counterterrorism units against the "Occupy" movement

This is important information because people who knew the facts might choose to act differently, for example in terms of career choice or investment choice.

For example, given the facts that I know about how Israel treats innocent Palestinian civilians, I have an ethical problem with Israel and do not intend to work for Israel, to buy Israeli products, to do business with Israel, to buy stock in companies that make investments in Israel, or otherwise enrich Israel in any way that I can avoid, directly or indirectly. I am not a customer of Starbucks or of Marks and Spencer for this reason.

This issue is particularly pertinent to hackers because startup funding, research and development and technology transfer depend greatly on the military industrial complex - which is particularly developed in Israel and very strongly connected to the US military industrial complex. For example, if one does graduate research in networking or communications systems at Cornell, one's algorithms and work just might end up being used inside Israeli weapons used against civilians.

It would be a shame if Hacker News guidelines become warped and misapplied as censorship tools for Hasbara and I am alarmed to see standard Hasbara talking points - such as 'The territories are "Disputed" not "Occupied"' - used to justify such censorship even on this page.

If you want reproducible science, the software needs to be open source arstechnica.com
270 points by llambda  1 day ago   66 comments top 12
rgejman 1 day ago  replies      
A Github for scientific code doesn't go nearly far enough. The transition from paper journals to electronic publications has only converted dead-paper into "electronic" paper. With some exceptions, e.g. video recordings, animations and supplementary figures/documents/spreadsheets/code, the document that you download from any major science publisher is a PDF that looks almost exactly like the printed publication. Most don't even include links to referenced publications[1]!

Today, we know a lot about how to make documents that have complex formatting (think micro formats, links) and even more about making abstract document formats that can be presented and styled in different ways (think XML and stylesheet type separation of data and presentation). Having a standardized scientific publication format (with open-source user or publisher generated extensions as needed) would completely change the way we produce and consume the literature. Imagine the possibilities for meta-analysis!

Yes, code should (in most cases) be released together with a paper. But even better would be if the code were released as part of a standardized data format that would allow you to, for instance, selectively download raw data and re-run the computational experiments on your own computer (think: re-running simulations in Mekentosj's Papers as you read the paper).

Even simpler (and possibly more useful): provide both low and original (high) resolution versions of figures that can be examined separately from the main document. I can't tell you how many times I've been annoyed by the low quality of the published images and wished I could zoom in to the level of detail I know was in the original image. Even more frustrating: why should I have to take screenshots of images in Preview to add to a figure in my lab meeting. Separate the presentation and the data!

[1]although some now include intra-document links from a citation in the text to the reference in the coda

jgrahamc 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice to see that my (co-authored) paper is top news on Hacker News. Direct link to the paper: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v482/n7386/full/nature1...
rflrob 1 day ago 2 replies      
There is the factor that a lot of the code scientists write is hacky, one-off, and fragile. The kinds of people who care about releasing their code also feel at least a little embarassed about the code quality. There's at least one license that recognizes and embraces this fact: http://matt.might.net/articles/crapl/
reitblatt 1 day ago 0 replies      
There is a difference between reproducibility and repeatability. Reproduction is an independent experiment producing commensurate results. Repetition is the same lab repeating the experiment and finding the same results. Sharing code actually reduces the independence of experiments. Worse, sharing buggy code introduces systematic errors across "independent experiments". Scientists already deal with similar issues due to a small number of vendors of various tools, but software is pretty different. Systematic measuring biases can be detected and calibrated, but software bugs rarely lend themselves to such corrections. Because science depends upon independent reproducibility and NOT repeatability, there's an argument to be made that blindly sharing code is actually detrimental to scientific reproducibility.

The real question we should be asking is whether opening and sharing these code bases will result in an increase in quality that offsets the loss of experimental independence.

eykanal 1 day ago 0 replies      
It's worth noting that there already are many open-source research packages. My graduate and postdoc work was using magnetoencephalography in neuroscience, and the majority of the packages are open source. The authors were happy to welcome bug reports and source code contributions, and any code used for an analysis can be easily re-used.

By way of example, my postdoc work was all completed using FieldTrip (http://fieldtrip.fcdonders.nl/), free for both MATLAB or Octave. All the source code is on Github (https://github.com/eykanal/EEGexperiment), and anyone could reproduce the majority of my analysis on their dataset.

mjwalshe 1 day ago 3 replies      
erm as an ex technical programmer and research assistant for a world leading rnd organization not sure I buy this for all experiments - an experiment needs to be reproducible yes but…

Most science is based on physical observation of the experiment the code is just a offshoot of the test equipment.

In the case where you are modelling some thing you do experiments to prove your mathematical model. I once spent a sweltering afternoon in a bunny suit and rubber gloves and mask helping prepare a dummy fuel rod from a Breeder Reactor so that we would do experiments to see if our model of two-phase flow was valid.

And surly saying you can reproduce my experiment but only using my code can everyone not see the danger here - you would want to repeat the experiment and implement ones own version of the maths behind it.

luriel 1 day ago 0 replies      
And the journals it is published in should be open too.

I know it is offtopic, but it makes my blood boil that we allow scientific research, in great part paid for with tax dollars, to be locked up in what basically are proprietary journals only a few privileged have access to while they should be freely accessible to absolutely everyone.

larsberg 1 day ago 0 replies      
The soon-to-be-released data retention policies for the NSF's CISE (basically, the arm of the National Science Foundation that funds all research) will most likely require complete and free access to not only the code for your implementation but also all scripts, input data, and configuration settings required to completely reproduce the experiments.

I can't wait. I've been doing some GPGPU research, and less than 10% of the authors of _published_ papers are willing to release their code or even a binary for benchmark comparisons.

antirez 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Same code == less reliable independent verification. So open code is good but independent verifiers should try to reimplement the software needed to verify an experiment.
cwhittle 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Speaking as a scientist who deals with genomic data, I wholeheartedly agree with many of the comments here. Code and raw data should be available at publication. I shouldn't have to try and figure out what you did from the three lines of text and poorly documented software you mention (that has been updated several times since you used it (no mention of version). Personally, I think pseudo-code would be most useful for reproducibility and for illustrating exactly what your program does.

Let me add to a few points here about the practical obstacles to this.

1) Journals don't support this data (raw data or software).

* You can barely include the directly relevant data in your paper let alone anything additional you might have done. Methods are fairly restricted and there is no format for supplemental data/methods. Unless your paper is about a tool, then they don't want the details, they just want benchmarks. Yes, you can put it on your website, but websites change; there are so many broken links to data/software in even relatively new articles.

* As many people have said, lots of scientific processing is one-off type scripting. I need this value or format or transform, so I write a script to get that.

2) Science turns over fast or faster than the lifetimes of most development projects.

* A postdoc or grad student wrote something to deal with their dataset at the time. Both the person and the data have since moved on. The sequencing data has become higher resolution or changed chemistry and output, so its all obsolete. The publication timeline of the linked article illustrates this. For an just an editorial article it took 8 1/2 months from submission to publication. Now add the time it took to handle the data and write the paper prior to that and you're several years back. The languages and libraries that were used have all been through multiple updates and your program only works with Python 2.6 with some library that is no longer maintained. Even data repositories such as GEO (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/geo/) are constantly playing catch-up for the newest datatypes. Even their required descriptions for methodology for data-processing are lacking.

3) Many scientists (and their journals and funding institutions, which drive most changes) don't respect the time or resources it takes to be better coders and release that data/code in a digestible format.

* Why should I make my little program accept dynamic input or properly version with commentary if that work is just seen as a means to an end rather than as an integral part of the conclusions drawn. The current model of science encourages these problems. This last point might be specific to the biology-CS gap.

spitfire 1 day ago 1 reply      
Fantastic! I'll do that just as soon as someone gives me an open source Mathematica, ansys, risk modelling packages.

On a serious note, I agree source should be available. But it isn't, because these sorts of specialized packages are very, very hard to write.

thomasballinger 1 day ago  replies      
After three years of writing CRAPL-worthy code at an academic institution, I'm convinced this needs to be required of academic research. I've made plenty of mistakes that could have dramatically upset experimental conclusions - I assert that I've caught all the important bugs, but the odds will always say I haven't.
The Internet Made Me Sad Today raganwald.posterous.com
270 points by llambda  4 days ago   177 comments top
patio11 4 days ago  replies      
You're looking at remnant inventory.

Inventory (advertiser speak for "a page view plus a slot available on that page which we could sell an ad against") are a lot like cuts of meat. Some are worth a lot of money. Some are not, and end up getting sold to be turned into fertilizer or paste to infect cows with all matter of diseases.

Things that tend to make inventory worth more money:

1) Better matching algorithms. This is, fundamentally, why Google is rich beyond the dreams of mortal men.

2) For contextual ads, being matched against content which suggests immediate purchasing intent for something which has a high customer LTV, high transaction value, and/or high margins.

3) Failing that, for brand ads, characteristics of the inventory suggest a "desirable" person at the keyboard. Ideally, you're a rich white American, male or female depending on which brand is trying to reach you, and this is one of the very few ads you will see today.

4) Within this particular session, this is the first ad you've seen.

5) You're American, Canadian, British, northern European, gap here German, Japanese, big gap other first world nation, titanic gulf anyone else.

6) The page the ad appearing on is itself of high social esteem such that the ad will have the halo effect.

Inventory which matches the above descriptions can be sold to advertisers using dedicated sales representatives. Everything else is remnant inventory -- literally, that which remains after our ad sales guys had as many steak-and-booze meetings with the marketing execs at Audi as they can possibly have.

Options for remnant inventory are: a) backfill ad channels like AdWords, which makes some remnant inventory almost as valuable as brandable inventory (e.g. if I write a blog post about credit cards and you happen to read it you're very nearly as useful as someone reading a post on the NYT about credit cards), b) house ads, and c) backfill from ad networks, such as Google house ads. (House ads are, e.g., "We couldn't sell a commercial for our TV channel so instead we'll show a commercial for another show on that channel or another business affiliated with ourselves.")

So, why is your page view remnant inventory?

1) Because generic Internet news sites generate a metric truckload of page views.

2) Because your user behavior was, sorry to say, probably not seeing that ad as the first thing you saw today.

3) Because algorithmically you don't look like a rich white American.

4) Because there are very poor transactional options for monetizing someone if all you know about them is "Possibly interested in dinosaurs," so direct response marketers are unlikely to bid on that site.

5) Because physorg.com does not have a sophisticated ad sales operation which routinely has steak dinners with ad buyers at Proctor & Gamble or any other large brand advertisers.

OK, so you're remnant inventory. Why are you seeing Google+ game ads?

1) Because Google has virtually infinite funny-money to buy ads on Google AdSense at low, low prices because they're crappy backfill remnant inventory that costs them CPMs below $1.

2) Because Google thinks promoting Google+ is their overarching strategic priority right now (they're wrong) and ...

3) ... because Google thinks that engagement on social networks is in large degree driven by games (they're right)

Is remnant inventory necessarily a bad thing?

No, because remnant inventory will inevitably be generated by attempting to monetize (with ads) any website which can't afford a direct steak-and-drinks ad sales force who can charge stupid amounts of money to brand advertisers. If you perceive any value at all out of physorg.com, you should be happy that Google is underwriting it out of their massive pile of money that they get out of controlling navigation and advertising on the Internet.

There exist non-advertising methods by which you could subsidize the creation of content which you like. Many of them involve paying non-trivial amounts of money, or praying that your interests happen to align with the interests of someone who is willing to subsidize your own consumption.

Remnant inventory also enables the creation of actual value, though you're not seeing it when you see diet pill scams. For example, almost all of Bingo Card Creator's substantial advertising budget is spent on remnant inventory at 3 to 8 cents a click, and while the websites that $15k+ a year goes to are not ones you'd really love your mother to be spending time on, selling BCC to the teachers who happen to be on them does at least help children learn to read and underwrite my quirky online pursuits like writing excessively long comments.

Remnant inventory is also virtually synonymous with Google, which a multinational advertising company which occasionally produces industrial biproducts of advertising which generate non-trivial amounts of value for almost every human alive.

A neat way to fold a sheet of paper wheatpond.com
265 points by emeltzer  5 days ago   31 comments top 11
redthrowaway 5 days ago 8 replies      
I wonder why this hasn't been a standard for maps for years. By far the most frustrating thing about road trips (pre-iPhone) used to be dragging out the map then trying to put it away again.

Also, as a total aside, this: "over their conventionally folded*" should be punishable by death. Putting an asterisk next to something then not explaining it is pure evil.

aymeric 5 days ago 3 replies      
Another neat way to fold a sheet of paper: http://pocketmod.com/
CountHackulus 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is actually very similar to a method of doing tessellated origami with a grid of folds. [1] I wish I could find a picture of it, but I've got an origami tessellation I folded that has this same 1 degree of freedom that allows it to be folded and unfolded by pushing and pulling. Only difference, is that instead of going flat, it turns into a spiral when you compress it. Very similar to [2]. This all being based on the work of Taketoshi Nojima.

[1] http://spacesymmetrystructure.wordpress.com/2009/03/24/origa...
[2] http://www.flickr.com/photos/53416300@N00/1028178660

Argorak 4 days ago 0 replies      
I am pretty sure that this is similar to how the german Falk plans do it for ages. Sadly, I cannot find any english explanations.

Update: its not. But if you are interested: patent (in german) with visual explanation can be found here:


raldi 4 days ago 0 replies      
This company has been doing it for years: http://www.zcard.com/
bigethan 4 days ago 0 replies      
This is the neatest map folding I've ever seen: http://www.thezoomablemap.com/the-map.html
JadeNB 3 days ago 0 replies      
As a math teacher who's always on the lookout for cool geometric tricks for all levels, I'd love to be able to do this by hand. Does anyone have any advice for how to do this without a ruler? (For example, I don't even know how to fold a paper in 5ths, so I can't get past the very beginning.)
mise 4 days ago 1 reply      
I give up.

I wasn't able to get is into the compact folded shape. As far as I can tell, I have the correct folds, but I did some guessing to follow each step.

guylhem 5 days ago 1 reply      
brillant! I'm eager to try that at work tomorrow for my todo list. I like it small (fitting in the pocket) but the way I fold it it quickly falls into pieces
miles_matthias 4 days ago 1 reply      
Has anyone implemented this digitally with CSS animations?
Best of Vim Tips rayninfo.co.uk
260 points by adulau  2 days ago   26 comments top 7
BasDirks 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find that terse resources like this (and for example Code Like a Pythonista: Idiomatic Python[1]) are the best learning resources. A true goldmine.

[1]: http://python.net/~goodger/projects/pycon/2007/idiomatic/han...

ramblerman 16 hours ago 0 replies      
very nice, what I particularly liked was :

d/fred/ :delete until fred

y/fred/ :yank until fred

c/fred/e : change untill fred

I actually prefer this over ctf, dtf as it scales better

pg_bot 2 days ago 4 replies      
The only thing I have hated about learning vim, is the god awful styling of every resource related to it. Every article or piece of documentation is a big wall o' text with no effort put into styling or separating content. This has surprised me since I don't believe that the set of competent designers and vim users are mutually exclusive.
ljs 2 days ago 1 reply      
This has been my primary means of learning vim.

Most of the web resources I've learnt from have been verbose and gradually introduced new ideas (i.e. the advanced bash scripting guide, or any of Steve's rants).

I've been hooked on OP for it's terseness and challenging obscurity; which I guess suits the subject matter.

ralph 2 days ago 0 replies      
This is something to skim and spot bits you didn't know, leading you to the relevant bit of the fine manual. It has errors though, e.g.

    /\<\d\d\d\d\>   : Search for exactly 4 digit numbers
/\D\d\d\d\d\D : Search for exactly 4 digit numbers
/\<\d\{4}\> : same thing

The middle one is not the same as the other two since \D has to match something unlike the zero-width assertions of \< and \> for beginning and end of word.

tambourine_man 2 days ago 0 replies      
I don't know how many times I've hit this link from random googling.

Just like this sed one liners:

dudus 2 days ago 3 replies      
I believe this is the worst Vim Tips compilation I have ever seen. Utterly complicated commands with no real life examples. Also doesn't explain the difference between commands, motion commands and selectors. Which are crucial to the starter Vim user.

If you are an experienced Vim user, this might be a handy cheat sheet. If you're new to Vim, go look somewhere else.

Gigabit Internet for $80 arstechnica.com
264 points by Nogwater  1 day ago   82 comments top 7
veidr 23 hours ago 5 replies      
I'm from Sebastopol; sonic.net is a truly great ISP. I've cited them as an example of great customer service in general, not just within the (typically awful) ISP industry.

I now live in Tokyo; I enjoy synchronous gigabit fiber access for a similar price. (It's actually closer to $50, but that's because my whole building is wired for it, and the building management has negotiated a group price.)

The difference is, here in Japan, pretty much anybody in any major metro area can get cheap gigabit Internet service (or synchronous 100Mbps at the very least). That's because here we do have a level of (intelligent) regulation; precisely the kind of regulation that this article points out the FCC eliminated during the Bush administration. There can obviously only be a tiny number of companies who run last-mile cables (telco and electric utilities here). So if those companies aren't required to reasonably resell that acess, you will never achieve the kind of competitive landscape that drives rapid progress.

It's pretty awesome that Sonic is able to do this in sleeply little Sebastopol, but it's pretty sad that most of America languishes under with barbarously primitive connection speeds of just a few Mbps because of its dysfunctional government.

EDIT: My anecdote about their service harkens back to when DSL was fairly new. My connection was flaking out one day, so I called. It rang twice. "Hello, Sonic.net." What, no menu tree? I explained the gist of the problem. "Do you mind if I connect to your DSL modem and check it out?" Of course not. "OK, I'm seeing the problem. Some of these units unfortunately shipped with slightly incorrect settings. I've updated those for you; is it working now?" It was. Total time on the phone was maybe 90 seconds. Even getting a human on the phone in that time was pretty astonishing (and still is).

ajays 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This is all the more reason why we need a municipal fiber network in major cities (dense urban areas). Don't get me wrong: I love what Sonic is doing, and plan to move to them as my ISP very soon. But the fact that it's so hard for Sonic to build out the fiber infrastructure shows that this is where a government run infrastructure makes sense; after all, isn't the government supposed to take on the massive infrastructure projects?

I live in San Francisco. I've been reaching out to my supervisor about this community fiber thing, but to no avail. In the meantime, he goes along with AT&T's plan to install 100s of refrigerator-sized boxes on sidewalks, to provide their "uverse"-brand Internet (which is not GbE). A handful of citizens -vs- highly-paid suits of AT&T? Citizens always lose.

Here's the problem with letting AT&T build out these boxes: they then become a monopoly. If Sonic wants to come in and provide fiber, they also need 100s of such boxes. And then Comcast. And maybe MonkeyBrains (there is such an ISP here). And so on. This is not sustainable! You can't have every ISP putting up large boxes on sidewalks!

A solution is for the City to lay fiber and maintain it; and then you buy access from AT&T/Sonic/MonkeyBrains/Comcast. Only 1 set of boxes; and Internet access can come from any of the myriad gateways available. As for funding: thats what bonds are for. And plus: the increase in property values will pay for this in no time at all (via increased tax revenues).

But trying to convince the politicians to listen to a citizen is impossible. They just go along with the lobbyists, who are just looking after their own short-term interests.

zanny 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Nobody seems to be asking, but I will - why isn't network cable grouped under the same class of utilities provided by local governments that include roads, sewers, and in some countries, electricity?

I know in America we have the completely stupid system where electricity is at a regulated rate but privately provided by a given monopoly company at any given household.

That is actually another example of the problem. If governments didn't suck, and our collective interests were not clouded and in general ill thought, we would have fiber to the home be a national works project to help pull the country out of the recession.

It is currently so expensive to lay fiber because the demand and supply are in this convoluted state, where no one demands it due to the monopolies so no one makes it in great quantity so prices are artificially high so no one wants it.

If we had a gov't project to lay fiber, the massive demand (unless the gov't did the entire supply chain like they did with the NHS) would spur industry growth, and we could then export our huge fiber industry (which is high tech manufacturing, like carbon nanotubes would be in bulk) to everyone else and actually have industry again.

Of course, that would never happen, because governments almost never do anything right. And if they do it right, they do it insanely over budget and late. But it is nice to dream.

I think it might possibly work at the local level. It doesn't have the huge instantaneous demand boom of the material as a national project, but regions that have access to the raw components used in fiber tubing (sand is a silica right? Not pure enough I assume, we make the stuff somewhere out of silicates though) could subsidize and start the industry, and then sell the company after they spur demand by using their own fiber supply to give every home 100 gigabit internet connections.

Fast forward a decade and the initial cost investment to build the industry would be paying dividends in national productivity and the export market we would have for fiber. Rather than go from (on average) 56 kbps internet in 2000 to 300kbps in 2012, we could have a third of the population on fiber in a decade.

It really comes back to infrastructure. Nobody makes subways or national transit systems or lays railroads across the nation unless there is a huge unrealistic demand that forces businesses to act or if the collective power of representational government uses the investment potential of taxpayers to create and fund the services that make everyone's lives better but no one can justify giving on a case by case basis for a quick profit in the next quarter financial report.

Alas, pipe dreams. I wish I had sonic, I get the lovely fun of picking between the staunchly competitive only ISP in my area that provides single banded DSL at 300 kbps for $50 over the copper phone lines that have been in the ground for half a century. God bless America.

lukev 23 hours ago  replies      
At this point in history, would most users even be able to benefit from gigabit connection speeds?

I have 20mbps FiOS, and I feel like my connection is almost never the limiting factor in delays online. Sites that are actually serving at full speed load in a fraction of a second. Lots of sites are slow, but it's almost always the server side or intervening networks (overseas sites, etc.)

For the vast majority of content, 20 reliable mbps completely meets my needs. I can stream HD video with no buffering. I can download ISO images in much less time than it takes to boot a VM. My Dropbox syncs within a few seconds: I can't recall actually having to wait for a file to be available.

Not saying that gigabit internet isn't awesome. But I don't feel like connection speed is the major bottleneck on the internet experience right now for those who can get a > 15mbps connection. I'd rather focus on expanding the availability of that, before we move on to the next tier of bandwith-heavy applications.

jedberg 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I love Sonic. I wish I could get them at my house in Cupertino (hint hint). I would drop UVerse without hesitation.

We got Sonic for the reddit office and it is awesome. One day, a Sonic rep stopped by, unannounced, just to make sure everything was satisfactory. It was amazing.

saryant 23 hours ago 1 reply      
Back when I lived in the North Bay (2001ish) I switched from SBC to Sonic.net for my DSL service. After setting up the new connection I got a call Dane Jasper asking if everything was satisfactory. Needless to say, I was completely blown away by this.

Their service was absolutely amazing. No phone menus, techs who wouldn't make you run through their script if you knew what was going on, simple pricing. I miss having them as my ISP.

(The 4 static IPs were pretty awesome too)

muhfuhkuh 23 hours ago  replies      
I thought because of various fallacious reasons, gigE was highly improbable in the US. At least, that the was the reason given when S. Korea, Japan, and major cities in China were blessed with it.

I've heard everything from geography (even in NYC, one of the densest population on Earth, we couldn't get it together for consumer gigE) to culture (yes, culture! As I understand it from various explanations, we're too culturally "heterogeneous" for gigE connections. No seriously.)

I wonder how Sonic made the highly improbable not only possible but, apparently, profitable?

What Happens to the Coke in Coca-Cola? good.is
252 points by gruseom  2 days ago   123 comments top
simonw 2 days ago  replies      
I was going to say that I found it hard to believe that Coca-Cola was only manufactured in the USA, and ask how the export of coca leaves to other countries worked. Then I looked up Coca-Cola on Wikipedia and saw that "The company produces concentrate, which is then sold to licensed Coca-Cola bottlers throughout the world". So I guess it is only manufactured in the USA.
Woz on Creativity: Work Alone brainpickings.org
245 points by bootload  4 days ago   49 comments top 23
sutro 3 days ago 1 reply      
This brought to mind Hemingway's Nobel acceptance:

"Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.

For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.

How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him."

alanfalcon 3 days ago 2 replies      
If you're reading Hacker News but haven't read iWoz, or at least had it on your reading list for a long time and plan to get to it soon, then you're reading the wrong website. You simply can't get any more "been there, done that" than Woz when it comes to technology and startups. Steve's life is an open book, and you won't find any bullet points of indispensable wisdom in it, but you'll come away with a lifetime of experiences to draw on for your own decision making, and hopefully a little bit better worldview. I thought I knew all there was to know about the Apple story, but knowing a list of facts isn't like experiencing things from the point of view who made it possible. Would that the world had more Steve Wozniaks in it.
SkyMarshal 3 days ago 3 replies      
Similar point is made in this article oriented toward military officers:


TLDR: Leadership requires depth of understanding, intospection, and capacity for creativity, all of which require solitude to cultivate.

Jayasimhan 4 days ago 0 replies      
On similar lines.. there is a new book:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking http://www.thepowerofintroverts.com/about-the-book/

city41 4 days ago 4 replies      
I feel this quote is unfair taken out of context of the rest of the book. iWoz was an interesting read. What surprised me about it is I came away feeling like Woz feels like a victim in many ways and he's got a skewed outlook on the world. When you feel that perspective from the book, this quote takes on a different meaning. At least it did to me. It feels more arrogant and self serving. I got the feeling that Woz thinks the world in general doesn't appreciate him, and so he used this book (and this quote) to try and force the idea that he is a true genius. Which is sad, because, well, he is a true genius.

For what it's worth I'm finding it hard to put my reaction to iWoz in words. I recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it. I'm pretty sure you will also come away with an interesting new perspective on the person that Steve is.

Uglyfruit 3 days ago 0 replies      
Serious Creativity" is definitely something that cannot be done in a group work. The process that allows to generate new ideas, new ways to do something, is basically the same one for each of us:

1) The starting point is always the observation of anomalies in an existing system or pattern.
2) You reason on those anomalies in your head, alone.
3) You come up with a possible response, alone.
4) You visualize in your head how this response would actually works. This should be practiced until you see it working smoothly from beginning to end. You do this alone.
5) Finally you set to work in order to bring this response into our physical world. Either alone or in a group-work

(The above needs some further explanation but this will bring me out of track now. If anyone wants me to elaborate more on those 5 points I will do it opening a new thread.)

Now, doesn't this process sounds familiar ? Mr Paul Graham & co. have set up YC on those 5 points. In his article "How to apply to YC" he writes:"...what we look for in ideas is not the type of idea but the level of insight you have about it...". So if steps 1 to 4 are well executed, step 5 would be to apply to YC (or any other start up incubator that has the same framework process for selection.)

jimbokun 3 days ago 0 replies      
I've been spending a lot of time recently trying to plan the work we need to do in the next few weeks to deliver or product to market, planning, meeting, discussing, etc. It was looking like there's no way to finish all the work we have to do.

Today, I made a point to avoid email and discussions with coworkers and just crank through as many JIRA tickets as possible. I was shocked how much I accomplished.

Wasn't necessarily the most creative work, but still seems related to what Woz is saying.

dabent 4 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of #18 on Hugh MaCleod's "how to be creative" -- Avoid the Water­coo­ler Gang.


staunch 3 days ago 0 replies      
I find it's great to start ideas alone and work with others to see them completed. I suppose that's pretty much what Woz did with the Apple I and II.
zobzu 3 days ago 0 replies      
In my experience this is correct. Work alone. It forces you to know what you're doing, and every part of this. So you're a deeper understanding.

Plus, there's nobody to tell you what to do (in all kind of meanings, eg, "maybe if you did xx that would be better!"). So you find your own solution.

On top of that, you'll sometimes reach walls that you have to destroy, again, on your own.

Basically, on your own, you gain more experience. It doesn't mean you shouldn't share it back of course. But you need to get some stuff done from A to Z if you want to be able to think by yourself (aka innovate, etc.)

redthrowaway 3 days ago 3 replies      
>I don't believe anything really revolutionary has ever been invented by committee

The Internet would seem to be an obvious counter-example to this claim.

kenrikm 3 days ago 0 replies      
I understand the point about needing time alone to think things over. However I worry that many will use this as an excuse to stay locked up in their office making "The next big thing" without consulting or talking to potential customers/users. It's important to keep in mind that Woz would not have started Apple if Steve had not been pushing him to do it and gone out and done the legwork. If you read Jessica's book Woz said that he would have been perfectly happy working at HP his dream was to work at HP not to build Apple.
JumpCrisscross 3 days ago 0 replies      
It's like any evolutionary process. You need a dynamic period when ideas are smashed together. But you need a lot more time when ideas are given the opportunity to independently arise. The diversity in the ideas going into the fusion/collaborative stage will determine the fitness of the output.
Eduardo3rd 3 days ago 1 reply      
Personally I think there is a large amount of value in wrestling with an idea until you are completely stuck on it and then talking to another engineer about it for a couple of minutes. Maybe I'm just an external processor, but some of the most creative and interesting things I have come up with have been the result of talking through a problem I've encountered with someone else.
BoredAstronaut 3 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to be creative, be smart and well-informed. Being alone is primarily important for avoiding interruptions which destroy your train of thought. Being creative requires combining ideas: well, you can't combine them if you have never heard of them. So learn a lot! And learn good facts and proper scientific (ie disprovable) theories, not stupid, useless opinions and religious/political beliefs invented by overblown authorities. Learn everything and believe nothing. Then go create.
cusackalex 3 days ago 0 replies      
Designer Philippe Starck apparently never reads magazines or watches TV.

Finding time to be truly alone to work is becoming increasingly difficult. Silence is a luxury few get these days.

CubicleNinjas 3 days ago 1 reply      
Woz is famous because he worked with a team.

Alone Woz couldn't have had the sense to sell blue boxes, the gumption to complete Breakout in a crunch, or build a computer that worked with a color TV, or design the elegant Apple II. He would have stayed at HP and been a great mid-level manager. He now lives the life he wants, without having to worry about about money, all because he worked with a team.

_boardwalk 3 days ago 0 replies      
Relevant TED talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/steven_johnson_where_good_i...
Basic idea is that open-ended collaboration > working alone. Which doesn't so much conflict with the idea that working alone > working on a "committee" or "team", in my opinion.
greenmanmax 1 day ago 0 replies      
My tip of the day:
work hard in solitude - stop reading Hacker News :)
dr_rezzy 3 days ago 0 replies      
Spot on. However, I cant think of a single achievement which was not created from unfiltered group brainstorming. Then again, I do things differently.
xxiao 3 days ago 0 replies      
I read somewhere saying Woz is Asperger, is it true? just curious
Craiggybear 3 days ago 0 replies      
He's right. Best stuff I've ever done involved zero noise and distraction. But really, I'm just antisocial.
stiff 3 days ago 1 reply      
Except the work Steve Wozniak is most remembered for was done with Steve Jobs, so he did in fact work in a team. I think the quote is just a rant against the pains of pushing innovation in corporate environments, that any engineer could write just as well in a moment of frustration - anyone in engineering should recognize a familiar note as he starts talking about committees and marketing people.

Every engineer already goes through a lot of struggle designing the initial prototype of the thing being designed, analyses the constraints involved, tries out different alternatives attempting to find the sweet spot that will satisfy them all etc. Then, exhausted and in love with the product of his effort, he shows it to people at some company or institution and they all have something to say or add to something the engineer perceives as already perfect or almost perfect, some might have valuable criticism, but some might just have no idea about the constraints involved because they didn't put in that much time into analysis, some just want to have their share in the potential success, some have to think about how to actually sell it etc. That surely is overwhelming, but it is part of the engineers work and I don't think "Work alone" is advice of much value. You simply have to accept this is just as an important part of your work as the design itself - I think most people never do. Then, you can starting learning how to best deal with it. Also, find a team or/and organization that you actually like, or at least can tolerate.

Apple didn't revolutionize power supplies; new transistors did arcfn.com
240 points by pmarin  1 day ago   73 comments top 4
drats 1 day ago 7 replies      
The record of vastly overstated and false claims of innovation around Apple has become ridiculous. Nobody doubts they have innovated in many areas, but largely they are excellent at integration and polish (which is worthy of praise in its own right). And being a full-stack company they often match their sails to the wind before anyone else, but it doesn't mean they made the wind. It's not all Apple themselves doing this, much of it is bad journalism and fans saying things that the company has no reason to correct. But it's gotten so bad now that I approach any new claim of innovation from Apple or their cheer squads as probably false.

I can't see why Apple enthusiasts can't be like luxury car enthusiasts. Most of the time new luxury cars don't have much innovation in them, but it's the fit and finish, attention to detail and integration which make them great. You don't need to claim some divine spark of innovation to say that something is better, or that you prefer it. To make another analogy a well done dish at a nice restaurant isn't usually innovative, it just takes the best of breed components and presents them well in a good atmosphere with good service. Nothing wrong with that, just don't claim the chef is making vast strides in chemistry or forget that the chef is drawing on tons of home cooking going back a long time which some people have had in their homes well before it appeared on your menu. It's pretty sad that as I click "add comment" I expect this to get vigorously downvoted (even on HN).

ChuckMcM 1 day ago 2 replies      
That has got to be one of the most complete treatises on the development of the Switch-mode power supply unit (SMPSU) that I have ever read. Excellent work Ken.

That being said, I don't really resonate with the hating on Steve Jobs because he believed something that wasn't true. C'mon there are a lot of things people believe that aren't true. I expect Holt (or maybe Holt's manager) was selling his work as really really excellent and Jobs, who was not an EE by training, really didn't have a way to know if it was true or not. He chose to believe it, and apparently believed it up until the day the biographer wrote it down.

I've noticed the sometimes person A will do something for person B because they believe something about A that isn't true. That makes them at least partially invested in that thing that isn't true being true, and so convincing them that it isn't true is made quite difficult. The recent article posted here about how Teller tricks people into believing something validated my intuition about people sometimes really want to believe something.

So Steve believed Holt was God's Gift to power supply design, and it turns out he was just another capable engineer who could build a switching power supply. The world isn't changed.

Life goes on, but now you know a bit more about how complex building power supplies has become, so its a win.

ajays 1 day ago 9 replies      
Tangential: when I saw the iPhone power supply, I was blown away. Here was this little white box, about 1-inch cube, able to convert 120V AC into low-voltage DC. No tranformer; no big capacitors; nothing. Just some solid-state electronics, and bam! Out comes some sweet DC juice.

I wish all DC equipment came with such power supplies. Heck, while I'm at it: here's a great idea. Establish 2-way communication with the solid-state power supply, so that the equipment can tell the power supply what it wants, and the solid-state supply can then give it out. Then you won't need a separate power supply for every piece of equipment!

oconnore 1 day ago  replies      
Jobs was an idea person, not an engineer. You have to imagine the engineer getting excited about the ideas going into building something. Later, Jobs sees that same idea popping up everywhere, and his natural response is to claim that it was "ripped off".

I think the same thing happened with the iPhone/Android controversy. Many of the similarities are emergent from the technology that became available at that time (larger screens, accurate multitouch panels, faster processors), but all Jobs saw is the idea.

How To Build a Naive Bayes Classifier bionicspirit.com
238 points by zhiping  20 hours ago   35 comments top 12
jgrahamc 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Years ago I wrote about this for Dr. Dobbs. That article is here: http://drdobbs.com/article/print?articleId=184406064&sit... The important differences are that the DDJ article used log probabilities instead of simple probabilities because underflow is a real problem.

The other thing is that simple thresholds aren't the only solution to using the output of naive Bayes for determining whether a message is ham or spam. Back in 2007 I looked at calibrating the output to deal especially with the problem of messages that have a probability near 0.5: http://blog.jgc.org/2007/03/calibrating-machine-learning-bas...

Also for spam filtering it's worth testing whether stop word removal and stemming are actually worthwhile: http://blog.jgc.org/2007/03/so-how-much-difference-do-stopwo...

juanre 18 hours ago 4 replies      
Nice article, but I suspect the implementation will not work. I did essentially the same for an AI-class exercise, and was thrilled to see that you could write a working Bayes classifier in 60 short lines of Python code. But later I landed a free-lance job that required writing a classifier that could be applied to real world data, and I soon realized that repeated multiplication of numbers between 0 and 1 sends you to zero too fast for the implementation to actually work. I might have missed it in the code, but I think he's doing the same mistake: you need to normalize or move to logarithms for the estimation of probabilities to work for medium or large datasets.
sigil 9 hours ago 1 reply      
We wrote a Naive Bayes Classifier for http://linktamer.com/ that learns what news articles you find interesting. It's in C and uses a cdb for the database of frequencies, so it's pretty darn fast. Maybe we'll throw it up on github one of these days.

Some resources and other reference implementations that were useful in building it:

http://www.gigamonkeys.com/book/practical-a-spam-filter.html - Siebel's "Practical Common Lisp" book has a very readable implementation

http://www.paulgraham.com/spam.html - pg's essay that revived interest in using NBC for spam classification

http://spambayes.svn.sourceforge.net/viewvc/spambayes/trunk/... - a Python implementation that's been out there in the real world for about 10 years

https://github.com/WinnowTag/winnow/blob/master/src/classifi... - a C implementation used in another news classifier

Jach 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a good explanation, though like the Dr. Dobbs article linked on this page I prefer the exposition of logs. (Looks like the author updated for it.) I also have a personal displeasure of Venn diagram and set-based and event-based versions of probability, and non-conditional probabilities rearing their heads, but that attitude comes largely from reading Jaynes...

I wrote my own Naive Bayes function for helping me tag my blog posts back in January. I did a longish explanation and implementation (PHP), it'd be cool if someone wanted to check my math/intuition since while my button has worked out so far (that is, no really surprising results have crept to the top as most likely) I wouldn't be surprised if there's an error or justification for a better calculation of a particular probability term that I missed. http://www.thejach.com/view/2012/1/an_explanation_and_exampl...

tmcw 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Pretty good explanation - my only gripe is that all bayes classifier tutorials like this build the 'spam detector' type that's specialized to text. Though it's a common use case, that isn't the only thing that the classifier can do - you can use it for raster classification, other types of predictions, etc: and building a non-specialized version would make this point more clear.
chrisacky 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Really enjoyed that read.
I'm looking at implementing some simple spam detection for personal messages that are sent between users of my application. (They are enquiries for sales and users are billed per enquiry so it's important to make sure that they don't get billed for spam), do you think Akismet would be suitable for this kind of thing? Any alternatives that you could recommend, I will probably get around to building my own at some point, but as a proof of concept I'd like to just get something running.
shearn89 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Another useful toolkit for stuff like this (and anything to do with natural language), but only available for python at the moment is the Natural Language Toolkit: http://code.google.com/p/nltk/

It's a very powerfull toolkit, with a lot more functionality than is needed to write an NB classifier, but may be of interest to anyone looking at NLP!

lrvick 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Here are the basics of putting together a Naive
Bayes sentiment classifier with NLTK https://gist.github.com/1266556

Here is a full project I started to to the same backed by redis adn built to scale for large applications: http://github.com/tawlk/synt

nailer 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks. It's refreshing to see algorithms written using real variable names and your tutorial is made much better because of this.
jgmmo 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Great article, all these Bayes articles have really piqued my interest in Machine Learning. Love it! Good stuff!
redact207 17 hours ago 1 reply      
One thing which is missing from this implementation is the use of lemmas. Rather than treating words like "house", "houses", "housing" all as separate terms, they all get reduced to the stem "house". http://lemmatise.ijs.si/ is a good resource for this.
B0rG 15 hours ago 1 reply      
can you build one to dig for interesting stuff in:
Dear Github, please fix the Watch-Button paulasmuth.com
243 points by paulasmuth  5 hours ago   76 comments top 19
necubi 3 hours ago 5 replies      
Really, the issue is that the news feed is broken. Even following a relatively small number of people and projects (10 and 29 respectively) my news feed is dominated by the many updates (issues and commits) from a couple of popular projects. The result is that things I might be more interested in from smaller projects are effectively invisible.

Facebook has done a really good job solving the problems of information overload and would provide a good model. The most important step is to group updates from each project. Right now half of my news feed is comments on a single repository. Those should take up only one or two slots.

The next step is to filter according to some metric of "interestingness." This is more challenging, but clearly solvable using machine learning (let us tag posts as interesting or not interesting to train the classifier).

I'd love to see GitHub make the news feed more useful. It's currently the most unpleasant part of an otherwise nearly perfect experience.

bretthopper 4 hours ago 8 replies      
The solution is pretty simple: GitHub needs a "Fav" or "Star" button. Basically just a bookmark.

There's a lot of projects I want to remember but don't necessarily care about the daily activity.

And no, browser bookmarks aren't good enough. A nice faved/starred page would show stats and maybe last commit/activity. That's it.

xyzzyb 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'd rather see the watch button replaced with a Google Reader style interface for projects. Let me see that Rails has 97 unread commits, Twitter Bootstrap 32 unread, and little forgotten project has 2.

"Little Forgotten Project has two updates? Cool! I'd forgotten all about that neat idea, let's see what they've been up to."

freshhawk 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's already been mentioned but this use case for watching a project is called a bookmark.

I watch projects where I actually care about and want to see the changes. Because I'm doing actual useful things and the social aspects of github help me do that.

I'm not on github to engage in some kind of social network circle jerk popularity contest to collect the most "watchers". I know a lot of people are and it makes them feel really important to follow a bunch of projects and pretend they're "in the know" or part of the project just because they clicked the watch button.

But every site doesn't need it's own different kind of bookmarks, that's a stupid waste of time. Other startups do it to drive viral growth or to "increase engagement" or some other BS reason. Github drives growth by being useful to developers and other collaborators. As soon as they start sacrificing power for people collaborating on code projects in order to satisfy the fanboys they risk losing their primary draw, the good projects that use github because it's useful.

I doubt this will happen, although I can definitely see why they would add an in-site bookmark to appease this crowd since they apparently don't know how to use client side bookmarks.

jakubw 3 hours ago 1 reply      
There is a bunch of ways to distinguish important updates from the others. First, prioritize updates from projects I am or have contributed to. Second, updates from people close to me in the social graph (i.e. the people I watch on GitHub or people who belong to the same organization as I do). The frequency and size of updates should matter too - an usually silent project with a big update should have an advantage over noisy projects. Filtering out typical bugs (or commits/PRs fixing them) from the top priority ones should be fairly easy too - all the information is already there (comments, labels). Finally, you can go insane and start analyzing the actual code or even use NLP for commit messages/pull requests/bugs and make decisions based on that (for instance, prioritize projects that use similar tech as I do, changes that mention me or touch the code I've created or touched recently).

No need to turn off anything, just make it smart.

metabrew 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Yep i use watch as bookmark, and as such the feed is useless. There needs to be a Star/Fav thing, and leave watching for important stuff.

I've often wanted to write and broadcast a note or short msg (not a commit), that is deemed more important than a commit, about project goings-on and updates. Would be good to announce properly when there are serious changes or new features. Perhaps done with tags, but it needs to be prominence some how, it is all lost in the commit feed atm.

city41 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Just to play devil's advocate: this does force people to be more mindful of their commits. This is a good thing. Each commit should be a cohesive, logical change to the codebase. Such that if the change is later undesired, simply reverting one commit should completely remove it. This is very good practice for when you use git at your day job. In this scenarios, your 'watchers' are your coworkers, and they will rightfully get upset if you clog the repo with a bazillion haphazard commits.
StavrosK 4 hours ago 5 replies      
Why do you care so much about how many watchers you have? I don't understand the point, certainly not to go as far as bunching commits and pushing at night to keep the watchers happy...
tlrobinson 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
Likewise, I don't use the news feed because I watch too many projects that have too high volume.

I have the same problem with RSS. I feel like this is a generic problem that needs solving.

pwim 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't use the watch or follow feature of github, as it seemed kind of pointless to me. The main strength of github is collaboration, not discovery. If it were up to me, I'd remove the more SNS like actions as they just seem like an afterthought.
benofsky 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is really a problem with Github's news feed, rather than the watch button. Facebook had this problem a few years ago but put a lot of work into aggregating similar stories, etc.
joedev 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This is what happens when collaboration tools are turned on their head and used as as popularity contest.
kmfrk 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I have never used my dashboard, because I watch so many repos. I use it as a bookmark function, but it'd be great if they replaced it with "bookmark" with a default option of not "following" the updates.

There are a lot of interesting projects, but I only want to follow those immediately relevant to what I am doing.

matthewcford 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm building a repo bookmarking tool as a google chrome extension (for github). It's in early alpha at the moment as I only really get to work on it on the weekends, but it'll be ready for a public beta in 2-3 weeks.

In the mean time you can checkout the video of it working or if you're feeling brave download the alpha version of the extension.

https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/110983919160550210204/11098391... [video & download links]

ryanto 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't mind seeing a version of a the Github dashboard where my feed was grouped by projects.

I don't think having a timeline where you see all commits of all projects sorted by time really helps. The commits in project A don't effect the commits in project B, so they do not need to be viewed in sequence or relation to each other.

Let me have a dashboard where I can see all my projects then some recent/popular issues and commits to that project, keeping all projects separate.

Don't add a like/favorite/bookmark button, I think that's too many options. Watch already says "I'm interested in this", so we don't need additional buttons to express the same thought.

Eleopteryx 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't even really look at my feed. There's way too much going on in it for me to really keep track. I basically "watch" repos to bookmark them. "This might be useful in a project at some point; let me make sure I can find it later." Currently watching 92 repositories.
jon6 3 hours ago 0 replies      
So I began to aggregate my commits into batches to push in the middle of the night. Unfortunately, that really slows me down.
--end quote--
How is pushing a bunch of commits that much different from pushing each commit? Slows him down.. what??
blantonl 1 hour ago 0 replies      
sounds to me like a "check this box to post to subscribed watch lists" would fix this?
mutewinter 2 hours ago  replies      
I run a website that tracks watchers on GitHub projects, http://gitego.com.

What I see is that it is incredibly rare for a project to lose watchers. It seems that people are using GitHub's watch feature as a bookmarking service.

On a side note, GitEgo tracks two[1,2] of paulasmuth's GitHub repositories, and neither of them has "lost lost around 30 watchers by the evening." He may be referring to other projects on GitHub, but even Twitter Bootstrap[3] (the most popular GitHub project), almost never loses watchers. Granted, these projects could all be gaining just a few more watchers than they are losing per hour, but the net effect is almost always a gain each day.

I think the real problem is that watching a repository doesn't engage a user in its contents. Watching commit messages fly by isn't as entertaining as reading 140 characters someone groomed for public consumption.

[1]: http://gitego.com/paulasmuth/fnordmetric#watchers?interval=b...

[2]: http://gitego.com/paulasmuth/recommendify#watchers?interval=...

[3]: http://gitego.com/twitter/bootstrap#watchers?interval=by_hou...

Visual Studio '11' Announced msdn.com
230 points by aaronbrethorst  4 days ago   191 comments top 3
oleganza 4 days ago  replies      
Interesting thing about VS and Xcode is that they do not really try to compete with somebody or fight for attention. Both Windows and Mac/iOS developers would use less useful tools if they still let them make products for the popular platforms. JetBrains, Borland and others are fighting for attention and developers' love. They must try really-really hard to make people choose an alternative to the official tools.

So both MS and Apple teams may focus on what is "right" and avoid feature bloat in UI, avoid quick and dirty solutions etc. Yes, they must include some features quickly and efficiently to allow support for some new APIs in the new products. But the overall design and fit and finish is free to define however they want. They can spend time making it right and redoing it how they please. They have resources and expertise for that and they don't need be in a stressing "competition" mood.

I'm really disappointed by what Microsoft did with Visual Studio. They have great technology - great language, great compiler support and integration with editors. But the way it is all presented and organized is all boring mess of panels and tons of icons. They even understand all the icons are heavy for eyes, but instead of rethinking the design, they simply ask "40 existing and 36 new VS users" how do they like monochrome versions.

Apple's Xcode 3 was also a messy window/panel cluttered tool like many others. Many still considered it lighter than any other complex IDE, but it was fairly cluttered on its own. Next version, Xcode 4 was not designed by "asking developers". Developers want a pink pony and all the features in one click. Xcode 4 was designed. They made priorities and straightened UI so much it is now Plain Straight. One window, three panes, 7 buttons on toolbar. Just by learning a single screenshot with both sidebars opened, you already know how to navigate 80% of the time. It is crucial. You don't have to read huge manual to learn more and more useful things. They all are discoverable over time. Most important things are more visible, others are discovered over time.

Apple and Microsoft are rarely in position to throw old stuff out and replace it with brand new in their actual products that make money. Windows, Mac, iOS all have its legacy which must be dealt with. But UI for developer tools are different and Microsoft has no excuse not to make it interesting. Unless, of course, they don't want to maintain their own engineering culture.

blackhole 4 days ago 8 replies      
I'm sorry, but I use color to locate things. This, to me, is a disaster. If this isn't a problem for other people, fine, but it's a problem to me. A better solution would have been to use less color and desaturated tones rather than simply going to full on black and white, which serves only to rob the IDE of potential visual cues. This is like using a cannon to kill a bird. Just because they overcolorized VS2010 for no apparent reason doesn't mean they need to overcompensate in the opposite direction. I can't use this until someone comes up with color-based icons for it.
AshleysBrain 4 days ago  replies      
Developers beware: Visual C++ 11 cannot compile executables that work on Windows XP at all:


C++ devs may want to skip this release and just go for Visual C++ 12 when it's out, since by then hopefully XP will be ignorable.

Death Note: L, Anonymity & Eluding Entropy gwern.net
224 points by simonbrown  2 days ago   41 comments top 10
Eliezer 2 days ago 1 reply      
So now if criminals found only in widely available public sources begin dying of heart disease and cancer at correctly distributed but far-above-average rates, L will know that it's somebody who read this article - possibly Gwern himself! Even if this article hadn't been published, such clever use of the Death Note would certainly point to someone with high IQ and possibly involved in the cryptographic community...
buu700 1 day ago 3 replies      
It's kind of funny that you posted this now, because at the moment I'm actually hacking on the last level of Stripe's Capture the Flag with Low of Solipsism, L's theme, Kira's theme, Near's theme, and Zetsubou Billy looping in the background.

As a side note, has anyone else considered the possibility that it's entirely possible that Light could have simply set up a server which would schedule his victims' deaths for a certain randomised time, then at that time pull up an image of them on X and print their name on one page of the death note which was set up to be indefinitely recycled within the same printer?

At that point it'd have been trivial for him to set up a simple password-protected REST interface which would accept POST requests of victims' names/pictures, and he could have even done all his future recruiting through Tor without taking the risk of using physical mail (and eventually facilitating the recruitment of a local "Kira" in every country, possibly vetting through social media comment histories in a similar fashion to the way he evaluated Mikami).

This setup wouldn't necessarily have been possible, but the wording of the Death Note looks like it might have allowed for it (contingent on how strictly it defined "mind"). At the very least, printing through electronic media would have been worth an experiment.

Assuming the server were reasonably secure, and he'd taken appropriate steps to scale as time passed, the very fact of all that ink on one page would have made it completely illegible, and thus inconclusive evidence. Then, he could have just performed any Kira actions from a virtual machine with an encrypted filesystem, eventually ceasing any direct killings as his army increased in size. It would have scaled beautifully, and he'd have been almost perfectly anonymous.

To put the icing on the cake, if he didn't want to put in so much grunt work, he could have simply configured his server to automatically hook into every well-maintained reputable public listing of convicted violent criminals (as well as listings like the website of America's Most Wanted) and then forgotten about the whole thing. And hell, if the whole thing is automated, why not just put in a line of code that marks each death as being at the hands of the most likely intelligence agency? It would have achieved the same chilling effect ("OMG THE CIA IS KILLING EVERY CRIMINAL IN THE WORLD NOW!"), and thus the same goal, without even realistically risking his own livelihood.

gburt 2 days ago 3 replies      
Can anyone explain what is going on here? Edit: to clarify, I honestly have no idea what I'm reading: the title piqued my interest, but then it became... I'm really not sure.
ufo 2 days ago 3 replies      
I hate to be pedantic, but mistake #1 misses the point a bit. While the serial killer doesn't want to be found, he certainly wants to be known.
hardy263 2 days ago 1 reply      
As a curiosity, how many bits were gained (rather than lost) when the second and third characters obtaining a death note were entered? (female and male respectively)

Do the bits of entropy add on, or does it not matter at all?

ff0066mote 1 day ago 1 reply      
Just a note to the author:

I'm getting a lot of [Math Processing Errors] when I view your article: http://imgur.com/PSeMX I haven't looked at the source to see what was going on, so it might be that I'm blocking flash or something.

Otherwise, it was great! :) Thanks for a fun read!

throwaway15213 1 day ago 2 replies      
How much can you trust each bit of information you gained though? For example, it might be very possible that Light could be intentionally waking up at the middle of the night to do his killings. In which case you would've ruled out japan, which then ruins your subsequent analysis which is all somewhat based on him being in japan. Verifying every bit of information gained or even assigning a probability to how much you can trust it seems to be a hard problem.
mikecane 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought the article was brilliant. I stopped watching the series Numb3rs early on, so I wonder if it ever really covered real math like that?
Tichy 1 day ago 1 reply      
I have recently thought about a possible future where everybody could kill everybody else anonymously. No idea how that would play out - probably with extinction?

I think technology could provide such a future, for example something like those tiny poison drones in the movie Dune.

Or maybe it will be possible to genetically engineer a virus to just kill one specific person - kind of like Stuxnet was targeted at one specific factory...

Splines 1 day ago 0 replies      
Sort of reminds me of the board game "Scotland Yard". It'd be interesting to see if an analysis with a mathematical bent would yield some tips for playing the game.
Tesla responds to "bricking" issue teslamotors.com
226 points by sephlietz  3 days ago   240 comments top 2
grellas 3 days ago 2 replies      
Deposition line of questioning suggested after reading this piece:

Q. Is it true that the battery has catastrophic failure when it drains to zero and is left in that state for a sustained period?

A. The company has built in countless safeguards to ensure that the battery never drains to zero.

Q. That is not what I asked. Please answer the question.

A. It is an unfounded rumor that many owners have incurred such a catastrophic failure and only an irrational fear would permit anyone to believe that.

Q. I didn't ask about many owners, only whether it is possible to incur a catastrophic failure as described. Please answer the question.

A. Our documentation clearly tells owners that it is vital to keep their car plugged in and we give them ever-escalating warnings to ensure that no rational person could ever let the car get close to that state.

Q. I didn't ask about the likelihood of this happening, only whether it can happen. Please answer the question.

A. We value our customers more than you can imagine and it is slanderous to suggest that we would subject them to risks that can be avoided.

Q. Again, not what I asked, please answer the question.

A. Every car has risks of catastrophic failure if it is badly misused.

Q. Does this mean the Tesla does too with its engine?

A. We will not dignify a mere rumor with an answer to that question.

Q. And is it true that it costs $40K to replace the battery?

A. I object to that as irrelevant.

Q. And that it is not covered under warranty?

A. Ditto - irrelevant.

Q. And constitutes an uninsurable risk?

A. We really are off track here. I will not answer.

Q. So you do not regard it as worthy of disclosure to your buyers that, should their battery drain to zero for any sustained period, the only remedy is to replace it at their own expense at a $40K cost.

A. That disclosure would not fit with our marketing plans. Plus we say something of the sort at page 487 of our owner's manual.

Q.Well I guess this was all pretty pointless.

A. Of course, nothing wrong here. Ignore the man behind the curtain. What a stupid thing to ask about anyway. The revolution is apace and you shouldn't bother me with little details.

URSpider94 3 days ago  replies      
This is PR mastery.

Nowhere in the release does Tesla refute that owners have "bricked" their batteries. Nowhere in the release do they say that the battery can not be bricked by leaving it for a long period without a recharge. All they say is that it would take a period of weeks for a Tesla roadster to reach 0% charge, and that the Model S has battery disconnect technology that can extend this to several months. They also point out that the car will provide increasingly strenuous warnings to plug it in (which, no matter how loud they are, would be hard to hear from across the country, if you've left it in an airport parking lot).

If it were true that a Tesla battery pack couldn't be destroyed by letting it fully discharge, or that it had never happened, then they would have mentioned it in the release. In fact, they take the opposite tack, re-emphasizing near the top of the document that users should always plug the car in when parked.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still very enamored by Teslas, and I don't think that this is any different than the owner of a gas-powered car letting it run out of oil and seizing the engine -- it's neglect. If you don't get it by now, Tesla owners, you need to plug in your cars.

       cached 28 February 2012 03:11:01 GMT