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Outlawed by Amazon DRM bekkelund.net
1350 points by paulsilver  1 day ago   455 comments top 2
cletus 20 hours ago  replies      
The fact that Amazon can do this is obviously scary, particularly for those with extensive Kindle libraries. Personally I love the idea of ebooks but the publishers are doing their best to kill this market (eg Surface Detail in paperback is $6, as an ebook its $10 WTF?).

Now I can't speak to the truth of these claims. I have no inside knowledge but I will say this: be skeptical of such stories. I have seen other stories like this on HN where I have had some inside knowledge and I can tell you that there have definitely been cases that vary between being one side of the story to being a distortion of facts and events to being outright lies.

It's a common theme to have a post of "[BigCo] shut down my account for no reason". I describe such stories as "unverifiable stories in which the poster is a victim".

Like I said, this could all be exactly as the poster claims but it might not be as well. It could be as simple as the person having the same name as someone who got blocked in the US. Who knows? Amazon needs to be extremely careful to be right in situations like this or they risk undermining the ecosystem they've spent so long to create.

I don't mind buying Kindle novels because I tend to only ever read them once. And if they were $6 (like the paperbacks often are) I'd view them as a throwaway purchase.

But when it comes to technical books--books I'll often refer back to and that can cost much more--I'll have to make sure I either only buy the PDF version or I buy the PDF+mobi+epub upgrade from the publisher after buying the Kindle book (2 thumbs up to publishers who do this BTW).

cs702 1 day ago  replies      
Could you ever imagine a local retailer in your area breaking and entering into your home, taking away all your books, and then not giving you a straightforward explanation as to why they did so? Me neither. Breaking and entering into someone else's physical property, and talking away their physical possessions without explanation is so obviously wrong and illegal!

Yet that's pretty much what Amazon did to this poor woman, except in the digital realm: Amazon 'broke and entered' into her Kindle, took away all her books, and then did not give her a straightforward explanation as to why they did so.

More alarmingly, Amazon did this with impunity, because this woman never really owned "her" books or, for that matter, anything else she "purchased" on "her" Kindle. In the digital realm, what Amazon did to this woman is perfectly legal.

Legal or not, this looks, smells, and feels so obviously wrong, it ought to be illegal.

Amazon EC2 currently down. Affecting Heroku, Reddit, Others amazon.com
562 points by fredoliveira  21 hours ago   288 comments top 4
pg 17 hours ago  replies      
Convenient that we're too backward to use AWS. That means everyone can at least talk about it here when AWS is down.
jasonkester 19 hours ago 2 replies      
For added fun, their EC2 console is down. I got this for a while:

  <html><body><b>Http/1.1 Service Unavailable</b></body> </html>

... then an empty console saying "loading" for the last 20 minutes. Then recently it upgraded to saying "Request limit exceeded." in place of the loading message (because hey, I'd refreshed the page four times over the course of 20 minutes).

On the upside, their status page shows all green lights.

diego 20 hours ago 8 replies      
The N. Virginia datacenter has been historically unreliable. I moved my personal projects to the West Coast (Oregon and N. California) and I have seen no significant issues in the past year.

N. Virginia is both cheaper and closer to the center of mass of the developed world. I'm surprised Amazon hasn't managed to make it more reliable.

btilly 19 hours ago  replies      
As https://twitter.com/DEVOPS_BORAT says, At conference you can able tell cloud devops by they are always leave dinner for respond to pager.

Also, What is happen in cloud is stay in cloud because nobody can able reproduce outside of cloud.

(And many other relevant quotes.)

How cork is made wineanorak.com
507 points by shawndumas  5 days ago   120 comments top 15
soci 4 days ago 2 replies      
My family owns a small forest of these trees so I have some verified information about the cork trees.

We harvest the cork out of the trees every ten years but it's absolutely false that the owners of these trees make lots of money like someone here has said in another comment. We just get enough to keep the forest clean of underbrushes. This is a real truth.

Moreover, because his area is very dry in summer we suffer fires that burn the forests every decade or two. Fortunately the burnt cork still works as an insulator, it's black on the outside and therefore can only be used as insulators in buildings. Amazingly, because cork it's such a great insulator burned cork trees survive the fires and develop very easily. You've mostly lost the cork production though...

We had a great fire at the beginning of the past summer that could be even smelt from Barcelona (180Km away from this forest). I have a couple of interesting pictures of the cork trees and how they develop.

This is a picture taken right after the great fire:

Three months later all trees are developing again, however cork needs to be peeled. We actually lost three years of bark growth because the last harvest was three years ago:

Gravityloss 5 days ago 3 replies      
Cork is quite a superb material and can be used as the middle sandwich layer with carbon fiber. It's also used in space launchers as heat and noise insulator inside nose fairings. It also has ablative properties and resists flame propagation. It's lighter than most other woods, though not as light as Balsa.

So I think it's a bit of a shame that it's used for wine bottle corks and usually thrown away after use!

sergiotapia 5 days ago 3 replies      
I come to hacker news for the tech and programming articles, but this is just too interesting! :)

Thank you for sharing!

kahirsch 5 days ago 2 replies      
> The planks are boiled to soften them, and also to clean them.

Ah, so it's true about the cork soakers.

fghh45sdfhr3 5 days ago 5 replies      
Screw tops are better. Tighter, less oxygen, easier to deal with, and they don't ever rot. If you ever get a glass of wine that smells intensely rotten it could be because the cork has started rotting.
arturventura 5 days ago 0 replies      
Unknown also to most of you Cork is such a lucrative buisness that cork removing is one of the most lucrative jobs you can find in rural areas. During the harvesting seasion, many removers can make money for the entire year in a month or two. however the job is excruciating because of dust and weight. Trees owners also make lots of money.
arturventura 5 days ago 0 replies      
Although off topic I have to share this. I actually came from coruche, that is a small village in the middle of Portugal and is so cool to find an article in hacker news about it! :D
jackalope 4 days ago 2 replies      
These corks will be really expensive: over a Euro each.

I'm surprised that with top-quality corks being so valuable, there isn't an incentive to recycle the material. I also wonder if there is a collector's market for vintage corks.

lotsofpulp 5 days ago 1 reply      
It's also surprisingly difficult to harvest the cork bark from trees:


jt2190 4 days ago 0 replies      
A few things to know:

  * The cork bark grows back every five to seven years.
* The initial bark strippings aren't of a high-enough
quality for bottles. IIRC, it takes four or five harvests
to get to that point.

kokey 4 days ago 0 replies      
I've driven around the Los Alcornocales Natural Park in Spain, it's one of the largest cork forests in the world. The road on the edge winds a lot and I had to stop along the way from feeling queasy from all the bends which is unusual for me. I've also driven around Southern Portugal and from time to time would see a couple of trees with bark looking like a harvested cork tree. It must be fairly intensive to use these. I've noticed most Spanish and Portuguese wine bottles have real cork, I suspect most wineries have a specific supply of cork in the area.
pav3l 5 days ago 3 replies      
I thought that the growing amount of twist-off's was due to cork tree going extinct, but it appears that the production of corks doesn't harm the tree. Any thoughts?
jelder 4 days ago 0 replies      
Related documentary on how corks actually get inserted into wine bottles:


celalo 4 days ago 0 replies      
Sometimes I think of, how in the world, somebody come up with the idea of harvesting bark of trees to cork them wine bottles.

I guess we are more or less poisoned day by day seeing yet another location-based-social-video-sharing-mobile-analytics -app.

gnosis 4 days ago  replies      
Does anyone else find it depressing that humans are still used for these jobs?
Is the use of “utf8="” preferable to “utf8=true”? stackexchange.com
453 points by tomse  5 days ago   86 comments top 9
ollysb 5 days ago 4 replies      
Sorry to be so meta, but what on earth was the point of extracting programmers.stackexchange.com from stackoverflow.com? Is this why so many questions get closed as being "off topic" on stackoverflow now? </rant>
jerf 5 days ago 2 replies      
So, of course, the opposite of that is utf8="✘", right?

Hmmm... there's something wrong with that idea, but I can't quite put my finger on it....

grey-area 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've often wondered if they could get rid of this entirely in rails by enclosing it in conditional comments, so that it is only included in forms sent by older IE:

<!--[if lt IE 8]><input name="utf8" type="hidden" value="&#x2713;" /><![endif]-->

Has anyone experimented with doing that?

IgorPartola 5 days ago 3 replies      
Under what case would IE use Latin 1 when there are UTF-8 characters that should be encoded? I seem to be missing the actual effect it's having.
jasonlingx 5 days ago 2 replies      
Correct me if I'm wrong but I think forms in Rails do this by default.
aviraldg 5 days ago 2 replies      
Best way to detect a Ruby on Rails app ;)
gweinberg 4 days ago 1 reply      
If the point of the field is just to make ie work correctly, wouldn't it be more appropriate to leave utf8 out of the name and write something like "ie='"?
tlrobinson 4 days ago 1 reply      
Does IE not respect the "accept-charset" attribute on form elements?
bitwize 4 days ago 0 replies      
Ummmm, false. I'm going to go with false.
Show HN: I spent two years working on an HTML5 game. I finally released it ektomarch.com
450 points by fiblye  20 hours ago   137 comments top 24
fiblye 19 hours ago  replies      
Demo uploaded to mediafire because I don't want to completely kill my server: http://www.mediafire.com/?hh5x0jcvvkiwd5i

I tried to get it out fast and just barely tested it, but it should be stable. The demo has three bosses, ~25 areas, and a good taste of the gameplay.

My server seems to be intermittently dying, so Chrome Store link for anybody interested in purchasing (buying through my site would be preferable, though): https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/subbania/epnejcjdg...

The demo now lets players skip cutscenes by hitting the Enter/Return key. Z/X/C (or 1/2/3 if you don't have a QWERTY keyboard) control actions and the arrow keys control movement.

kylelibra 20 hours ago 2 replies      
Congrats on shipping. You should post this on /r/gaming on reddit, they are really supportive of indie devs producing games.
mike-cardwell 18 hours ago 3 replies      
In the comments of that page:

Q.) "I'm really interested in the game, but dont want to support paypal. Is there any other method of purchase?"

A.) "The only easy way for me to distribute through my own site was with Paypal. I did have Amazon Payments, but Amazon randomly locked down my account for reasons unbeknownst to me and they only gave me generic automated responses."

This is becoming a habit.

wpietri 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Neat! Please release a simple playable demo. The video is enough to intrigue me, but not enough to get me to buy. (I just bought Osmos for my Android tablet, and it was the playable demo that pushed me over the line.)
stackthatcode 2 hours ago 0 replies      
After seeing the trailer, all I can say is: wow, just wow. The mood is a post-modernish film noir mixed with vintage 8-bit style. And the visual effects are striking. Very much looking forward to buying and playing.

Lately, I've been spending a crap-load of time coding in JavaScript, and in spite of its obvious quirks (and haters) very much enjoy it. I'll be interested to see how you managed complexity on such a large code base.

Kudos, man: you shipped.

tayl0r 19 hours ago 2 replies      
Knowing what you do now, with the memories of the terrible bugs you had to work through due to Chrome / OSX, would you still choose HTML5 over other cross-platform game engines like Unity?
sgdesign 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I love the style and artwork, and if this was an iOS game I would definitely buy it.

But for me the problem of browser-based games is just that: they're browser-based, and the browser is just not the environment I like to play in.

I'm not familiar with what's involved in porting this to iOS but if you can, you should definitely consider it.

mcmire 19 hours ago 0 replies      
That's pretty impressive. I know this because I spent a good nine months working on a clone of one of the Zelda games (I didn't make it very far, although granted, I went down a huge rabbit hole) and it is tough. So many things you have to think about if you are designing your own game engine. Mad kudos for sticking with it.
elliottcarlson 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Would you be willing to provide a follow-up on how your launch of the game goes? Always interesting to hear various metrics after a product launch.

Good luck!

scotty79 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Please consider allowing people to pay with bitcoins for your game.

http://mtgox.com has a shopping cart that is trivial to integrate and allows people to pay with their bitcoins (also buy some if they don't have them yet).

jay_m 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I really love the music and audio from the trailer video. The gameplay and art style looks great too. I'll be buying this in a couple of days once my exams are over. Congratulations on shipping!
mitsche 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Bought it on impulse because I love the aesthetics of it (both sound and imagery).
areeve 14 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm curious as to your reasoning behind spending 2 years developing this in HTML5? The art style is great and all, but you could have knocked up a game like this in an engine like Unity within 3 months and deployed it to iOS, PC/MAC, even Xbox Arcade.
almost 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This looks really cool and $2.99 it really wasn't a hard decision. I look forward playing it!

Well done for getting it out, 2 years is a bloody long time!

sskates 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Congrats on your release! I love the camera effects, definitely adds a lot to the atmosphere.
Spoom 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice! This is very encouraging to me as I'm also working on an HTML 5 app that I plan on using with CocoonJS to distribute as a native iOS / Android app, in addition to the web version. Have you looked at mobile HTML 5 "players" like CocoonJS? You could double your potential market if it works (though it requires that the game be drawn entirely through a canvas, not sure if that's what you did here).
jqueryfan33 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Bought a copy. Good stuff. Some feedback:

- get the option to skip cutscenes back in
- these octopus dudes come way too close. It is too hard to dodge them.
- if you get killed, you should start over in the sub-area you were in, and not the main level.

mgkimsal 20 hours ago 1 reply      
is it really B&W?

was that a stylistic choice only, or are there some performance benefits?

some of the artwork reminds me a lot of Yellow Submarine stuff.

sprokolopolis 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Congrats! this looks great! It brought back memories of an old game that I loved as a kid called Sea Dragon:
TazeTSchnitzel 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks great!

Any chance of IE9 or IE10 support? I hear it's pretty fast for 2D games (certainly in my experience it has higher FPS than Chrome and FF)

shardling 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Did you use any existing js frameworks in making the game?

I've been writing a little puzzler/platformer using Crafty JS, and it seems to have a pretty flexible approach.

Fair amount of bugs/undocumented behavior, but hey, I can always go straight to the source. :)

comex 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Bug report: In Safari, holding down X makes the level disappear(!) instead of continuing to fire.
ommunist 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Play your destiny against the chtonic gods of despair. I like the setting. Great taste and gameplay looks well weighted. You rock, man!
You shall carve your niche with it, but it won't be Quake.
(Disclaimer: I formerly led JavaME games production)
padenot 2 hours ago  replies      
This does not work out of the box on current Firefox nightly (19).
Anatomy of a Hoax (Sony Nexus phone) anatomyofahoax.tumblr.com
441 points by Shooti  3 days ago   60 comments top 22
ScotterC 3 days ago 0 replies      
My favorite part:

' I, an individual with no previous worldwide recognition save for a frontpage Reddit post, managed to alter the behavior of people in Russia, Japan, Uzbekistan, and Italy within the course of 24 hours, all from the comfort of my home while exerting next to no effort.'

'The internet is still in its infancy. The mobile space is a goddamn zygote. Stand tall, Mr. Dev and Mrs. Entrepreneur; don't be discouraged. I get it, you're burnt out, but there's so much more we can do in this space. We can all make our marks, make some money, and change peoples' lives.'

thomasvendetta 3 days ago 3 replies      
I learned about the Anatomy of a Hoax the hard way.

When I was younger I tried to play a trick on my friends by making them think Google had hired me as their youngest employee. Turns out I not only tricked my friends but half of the tech news/blogosphere, despite my press release being full of spelling and grammar errors.

I learned a lot that week about the internet, the media, and my parents...

Context: http://news.cnet.com/GoogleNewsdumpspartnerafterprankitemapp...

jordanthoms 3 days ago 3 replies      
It's pretty incredible that you can create a render in 7 hours including making the model, and nobody noticed that it wasn't even a real phone. 3D Photo-realistic rending has come a long way.
jonstokes 3 days ago 1 reply      
"Let's say it takes an extremely unscientific average of 15 minutes to research, write, edit, and publish this kind of article; that's 15,000 minutes or 250 hours of human capital that I mobilized by sitting here and moving my hands a bit on a Sunday evening."

This quote sums up why the tech news business can be such a miserable grind for writers (people burn out all the time), and why online news will never make the kind of money that print did. The fact that the tech news scene can afford to throw ~250 man-hours (though it was way more if you count the time spent prepping & promoting the posts, not just writing) at a trivial hoax like this is indicative of three things:

1. The barrier to entry for all of this is pretty low. If you can type and you have some hustle, then you, too, can help fill the internet with ~300-word stories about the latest (fake) phone. And because the barrier to entry is so low...
2. ...Talent is relatively cheap, so sites can afford to pay writers and editors to chase nonsense like this. And because talent is so cheap....
3. ...Talent is desperate, because the only way you advance in the business is to get your name at the top of the pageviews leaderboard again and again. So you'll literally cover anything if it will get hits.

All of the above leads to a massive glut of words and, ultimately, ad inventory in the tech news space. You don't have to have a Nobel Prize in econ to see what this miserable dynamic means for publishers' bottom lines.

Seriously, the real news in this hoax isn't the power of the Internet to "mobilize human capital" -- it's the power of the Internet to boost the supply of said capital to the point where it's just not worth anything close to what it used to be.

sbochins 3 days ago 0 replies      
This goes to show that Blender really is a top of the line 3d modeling tool. I have used it in my games. It has a steep learning curve. But if you know how to use it, you can make really good models like this guy did. Its nice to know there is a full featured 3d modeling tool that is open source.
podperson 3 days ago 1 reply      
My favorite bits were putting in the reflection of his hand holding the phone to take the picture and then photographing his screen with the same phone to make the picture realistically _bad_ and create correct EXIF data.

There are quite a few telltales that it's a hoax (e.g. he fails to match the DOF of the photo), but they're far more obvious in hindsight. Kudos to Android Police for picking up queues such as the mismatched times -- I'm surprised, based on this discrepancy, they didn't call hoax rather than suggest is was a mockup or prototype.

Jd 3 days ago 1 reply      

I created a 3d Model in 7.5 hrs and posted on Picasa. ~1 day later 500+ news articles, 90K web results. Did it for the lulz. btw, no one bothered to contact me to verify anything.

mistercow 3 days ago 0 replies      
The little screenshot of someone trying to debunk it with error level analysis amused me. ELA is truly the dowsing rod of digital forensics. Yes, in some circumstances, an expert can probably spot certain kinds of fakes. If they do so according to rigorous and scientifically backed methods, you should even listen to them.

But what most people do is to look at the images, notice some bright graininess somewhere and then say "Aha! look at that area over where it's all bright and grainy... this is a fake!" In short, roughly 100% of the time, if tries to use ELA to support a hoax claim, they are full of shit.

mladenkovacevic 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is what makes the Nexus season exciting. Although a lot of people will probably be disappointed.

I think he should have toned down with the bump and specular maps. The nature of the "scuffiness" was what tipped me off immediately. Also the pogo pins just didn't look right. Could have done without those too.

TeMPOraL 3 days ago 0 replies      
"And finally, this whole affair served as yet another data point to validate what I already know. Human action cannot be predicted. People are not a series of inputs and outputs that a masterful technocrat can manipulate to any degree of accuracy."

I'd say this whole story supports an exactly opposite conclusion. People are predictable and easy to manipulate, and it was to be expected that various blogs and news sources would pick it up; they live on eyeballs anyway.

It's sad to see that:

- political news suck

- general news are usually full of shit

- science news are most often completely inaccurate

- tech news just proven itself again to be as reliable as the others I mentioned

Because, hell, it's all about clicks and eyeballs and ad impressions. I wonder why people still read this stuff if it is to be expected that most of news out there will be false.

"Blogs get paid by the click, not the accuracy. If they can get you to click on the rumor, then click again on the correction, they are ahead 2 clicks that they wouldn't have had if they fact checked in the first place."

Meh. So is there anything we can read to get some reliable information?

fudged71 3 days ago 0 replies      
Impressive skills, great hoax! I like that there was a message behind it as well, rather than just trolling the public.
at-fates-hands 3 days ago 3 replies      
Am I the only getting tired of people running hoaxes on purpose just to see how many people will bite on it?

The fact some of these get covered by major tech blogs only makes it harder for people to get legit news on stuff they care about.

jonstokes 3 days ago 2 replies      
What's fascinating to me is that he ended the piece with a bunch of lolbertarian claptrap. Guy hoaxes a few tech news sites and all of the sudden he's Milton Friedman.
ek 2 days ago 0 replies      
I missed the hoax and found out about it only through this post, but I can't lie, I want one of those. Even the Xperia TL, the phone that James Bond uses, looks plasticky and cheap in comparison to the mockup: http://www.sonymobile.com/us/products/phones/xperia-tl/

The supposedly leaked photos of the LG Nexus have it looking like an iPhone clone, albeit a very good one: http://bostinno.com/2012/10/19/lg-nexus-4-release-date-lg-ne...

To my eye, the "Nexus X" is one of the freshest designs in the phone space in recent memory.

shiven 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great Blender skills, even if nothing else! Kudos!!
firebones 3 days ago 1 reply      
I missed how he got from the photo upload to being referenced. Did he trigger this by submitting a tip someplace or did someone run across the image on Picasa, and if so, how did they find it? His timeline seems to imply he took no action other than uploading the photo, but then there is that submission screenshot with no explanation. Where did he submit it?
happywolf 2 days ago 2 replies      
Am I the only one who thinks this kind of stuff should be stopped? No doubt the OP is creative and has a great set of skills, but the fact he intentionally faked the information, to the extent of building a 3D model, took the rendered picture using his phone and put it on the web, really made me feel this has crossed the line.

I can accept mistakes made on good faith or a benign April Fool joke, but not this kind of deliberate lies and manipulations. It is a waste of everybody's time with no real value in the end.

Journalists indeed should check their reference sources, but it doesn't mean it is OK to deliberately faking news just to check if the journalists have done their job. Their time could be used in other much more productive ways. I am quite appalled to see people are implicitly encouraging this kind of behavior, little did they realize this is eroding the trust we have had in the tech community.

If we don't do something, more and more fake news will appear. I presume all of us love interesting and trustworthy news articles, no?

Bottom line: I recognize there are always fake news articles on Internet, my point is we should condemn and put a stop to this kind of deliberate hoax to prevent the further deteriorating of news quality.

drivebyacct2 3 days ago 0 replies      
Uh, the "core" of that problem is the senseless yuppies that read it.
mtgx 3 days ago 0 replies      
It was called out as a hoax pretty early, though, much earlier than other hoaxes we've seen online.
Djonckheere 3 days ago 0 replies      
You either have far too much free time on your hands or you're attempting to break into advertising. If anything you've exposed one of the dirty little secrets about the Web: essentially that people can quite easily be fooled and will routinely accept things they see and hear at face value without fact-checking or understanding if the information originates from a credible source.
stanleydrew 3 days ago 4 replies      
I'm not sure how I feel about the ethics of this. Did we learn anything we didn't already know? That most tech bloggers don't properly source their material. That once enough momentum is behind a story, more well-established outlets will run with it as well. I think most of us knew those things already.
IheartApplesDix 3 days ago 1 reply      
I doubt his motivation was not "a fun exercise in 3D device modeling" and probably something more like a pump and dump scheme, considering SNE's record low. If you look at the timing of it, it's pretty suspect.
Some advice from Jeff Bezos 37signals.com
436 points by timf  3 days ago   137 comments top 9
edw519 3 days ago 4 replies      
If someone can't climb out of the details, and see the bigger picture from multiple angles, they're often wrong most of the time.

This works both ways. If someone can't get more than one level below the surface and understand the details that form the whole, they're also often wrong much of the time. Just ask any boss I've ever had.

Xcelerate 3 days ago 6 replies      
I would argue that this is the defining factor in what makes someone intelligent or not. If you're always revising your ways of thinking about a problem, your probability of converging on a solution is vastly greater than someone with a narrow, one-track focus. In fact, another article on the HN homepage (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/streams-of-consciousness...) elaborates on this point of trying multiple "solution paths" to arrive at an answer to a problem.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people get it in their head that they've discovered the "right way" and dismiss every other idea. This problem is particularly notorious in subjects like quantum mechanics. The field is so confusing that people find some kind of local comprehension maximum that they get stuck in and refuse to budge from that sort of ideology (which is often the wrong ideology by the way since QM is such a deep subject. Throw some quantum field theory or standard model physics at a quantum chemistry professor or TA and they won't know what to make of it).

To give a more concrete example: did you know that a spinning ball weighs more than the same ball when it is stationary? Tell this to someone decently knowledgable in physics and there's a good chance they'll argue vehemently against you based on their misunderstanding (or misinformation) of what they've learned in the past. Sometimes the effort to convince someone of an idea like this isn't worth the time; these people are locked into one way of thinking and take it as an affront to their ego. There's limited intelligence here. Don't want to be like this? Don't get angry when someone challenges you. That's the best way to start. I've never understood why so many people get upset if you try to point out a flaw in their reasoning. I've noticed this sort of anger much less frequently on HN (on the other hand, there's significantly more "you're wrong" posts than a normal discussion board).

In fact, do a little experiment if you wish. Look through HN stories and find places where people challenge each other in the comments. If you notice someone who says "you know what -- you're correct" or "yeah, that makes more sense", there's a good chance they make a lot of intelligent posts on here. If you find someone that never concedes to anyone else, it's likely they are locked into one and only one way of thinking and are unlikely to ever do anything considered "genius".

kevinalexbrown 3 days ago 4 replies      
Keeping an open mind is a great philosophy, so long as your mind doesn't change so quickly that no one can coordinate actions with you. But I'm having a difficult time inferring the significance of this post.

On the one hand, if I'm constantly changing my mind, and my mind tends to change toward a stable, slow-changing correct solution, by definition, I'll be "right a lot", so long as I've had sufficient time to converge. In any case, I'll be right a lot more than either a person whose mind does not tend to change toward the correct solution, or someone whose mind does not change. This seems true by definition.

On the other hand, if the correct solution changes rapidly and dramatically, and my mind does not change as quickly, I will trivially be wrong a lot.

Likewise, focusing too much on "details that only support one point of view" seems wrong by construction, unless you magically pick the right point of view to begin with.

I'm not trying to be snarky here, seriously. I just feel like I must be missing the significance. I've reread the post several times, but I don't see it. Perhaps someone could enlighten me?

ValG 3 days ago 3 replies      
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson.

When I first read that quote in early High School I didn't understand it. It was the kind of thing that ate at me, I could not get what he was trying to say. To me, consistency was an important part of life; the old adage that you stick to your word. However, that quote transcends the idea of being consistent, because when you often make decisions without all of the information (especially in startups). As new information becomes available, you have to incorporate it into your decision. Sometimes it makes you look like a dick, or someone that doesn't know what direction they want to go to, but that's where different skills (leadership and sales) come in to be able to hold people together.

RivieraKid 3 days ago 8 replies      
I never understood why consistent opinions are considered a good thing, it doesn't make any sense. If I realize I'm wrong, why should I stick to the wrong opinion?
callmeed 3 days ago 4 replies      
Good advice but I'm curious about:

"Jason Fried is the fastest white man you'll ever meet."

Is Jason actually really fast and/or was he an athlete at a prior time?

badhairday 3 days ago 2 replies      
Being right a lot is a core value of that Amazon requires in it's leaders. The rest of the list is available here:


chrissr 3 days ago 1 reply      
Sure, that's his advice today, but what will it be tomorrow?
ArbitraryLimits 3 days ago  replies      
"A professor's job is to profess - often wrong, but never in doubt."
Hacker News Data Analysis rjmetrics.com
417 points by robertjmoore  6 days ago   73 comments top 34
edw519 6 days ago 6 replies      
#1 Lesson from all of this: Instead of talking about your product to your prospect, talk about something your prospect cares deeply about to your prospect.

I had no idea what you did and didn't really care until you used it in context of something I did care about: Hacker News. Now I know what you do, understand how it applies to me, and best of all, I'm starting to visualize how else I could use it.

We should all approach our prospects like you just did here. Nice job!

pg 5 days ago 2 replies      
Actually the reason his posts stopped making it to the frontpage is that the last 3 before this all set off the voting ring detector.

I don't know how accurate his other conclusions are, but it seems unlikely that new signups are down, considering the trend in traffic: http://www.archub.org/hntraffic-17oct12.png

jgrahamc 6 days ago 2 replies      
If you look at my submission history of my blog then I think it's clear that HN likes things that are original and/or well thought out. My weaker blog posts go nowhere, but ones that are detailed make it. So, if there's a formula for appearing on HN, it's write something original and/or deep.
fusiongyro 6 days ago 0 replies      
Another possibility: people have tired of your formula. Andrey Karpov used to submit blog posts with the results of running his fancy commercial static analyzer on various open source code to Reddit. The first several got a lot of upvotes; a while later it became clear that it was mostly hocking a product. The more your blog comes to resemble an infomercial the less you can expect to be on the front page.
tokenadult 6 days ago 1 reply      
"Interestingly, if you look at the number of upvotes cast each day, the trend is similar. For the past two years, the same number of stories have been competing for about the same number of votes each day." This statement, backed up by the analysis in the submitted blog post, is interesting. I visit the new page


as many times per day as I visit the front page, looking for good new submissions to upvote. The limit on the number of users who cast upvotes on new stories appears now to set a limit on the number of new stories that have been submitted in the last two years. As the blog author points out, if HN largely stays on topic, there are only so many new stories each day that fit HN's topic.

Alex3917 6 days ago 2 replies      
"If anyone out there suspected that the 'old guard' had given up on HN, this chart proves them wrong."

Of the people here since the first year, probably only 25% still participate regularly. Occasionally I'll stumble across some discussion from the early years in Google, and it's crazy how different the site was back then. There are still good comments now, but back then there were entire conversations that were good. I don't even bother to write the kind of comments that I used to, because they wouldn't work at all on the site as it is today.

duck 6 days ago 0 replies      
Very useful analysis. After running Hacker Newsletter for the past 2+ years I have seen basically this. However, the analysis seems to miss looking at things on a smaller scale like the day and time you post it which has proven to be a big factor [1]. I know even on a weekly basis (which is what I do for the newsletter), it seems some weeks have an abundance of high quality articles compared to others.

[1]: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3251877

larsberg 6 days ago 1 reply      
My takeaway --- from the fact that Matt Might's domain is second only to pg's --- is that you should write up easy to understand lecture notes on deep PL-related topics.
waterlesscloud 6 days ago 2 replies      
I suspect the NYT/WSJ gap is more a result of WSJ's much more restrictive paywall.
willvarfar 6 days ago 1 reply      
I once worked out there were 100:1 visitors to voters for a link.

Most of the people I know who peruse HN regularly are not registered users. They are happy to let others do the commenting (which they read).


It was super-surprising to see my own blog getting an average of 55pts on HN; I hadn't wondered about that before.

nanijoe 6 days ago 0 replies      
Granted, it is natural to want people to hear what you have to say, but I did not think the reason for posting on HN was so you could try to make it to the front page. The blog post could have been titled "How I'm trying to get my submissions to the front page of HN".
mjn 6 days ago 0 replies      
The retention rate actually seems relatively low as an absolute percentage, though the way it plateaus is interesting. I did an analysis of the retention of the oldest Slashdot users (http://www.kmjn.org/notes/early_slashdot_users.html), and it was much higher: about 70% after 2 years, rather than 30%. Took about 10 years to drop to 30%. Granted, that's for the earliest users, so retention rates are probably (much?) lower among later signups.
asdf333 6 days ago 0 replies      
Fascinating. However, one must be careful about jumping to conclusions from analysis like this. I see a few items where the author that might have come to the wrong conclusion.

- New user growth. I don't think its b/c a 'saturation point' has been hit for the HN community as the article hypothesizes. There was a period in the last few years where there was an conscious choice by HN to restrict user growth in order to maintain a higher signal to noise ratio. Newbies are now marked with green and there is no register link on the homepage. for a while there wasn't a way for new users to sign up.

- The NYT more favored compared to the WSJ? most likely not due to the quality of the writing but b/c WSJ articles are not available to non-subscribers by default.

fecak 6 days ago 0 replies      
I do think that the day/time an article was posted and also who posted are fairly large contributors to being on the front page. I've written a few articles that have made the front page this year.

In at least two instances, I posted the article myself with no upvotes. Then another HN user reposted my articles a few days later (my blog is republished by a couple tech sites), and the same exact content makes the front page. Same article content, same title, just posted by someone else and linking to the mirrored site.

Good post Robert. If you're looking for help growing the RJM team, look me up.

narag 6 days ago 0 replies      
Maybe I'm understanding it wrong. But the data seems to be saying that HN has succeeded defeating the eternal september effect. That'd be big news!
dmansen 6 days ago 0 replies      
My interpretation of how this one shot right to the top: Hacker News loves posts about itself. :)

Nice analysis - the user engagement stats were very different from what I was expecting (I think I would have agreed with Jake before I saw the data).

Adrock 6 days ago 0 replies      
I wish that he had included the stats for titles containing the words "Hacker News".
dfc 6 days ago 1 reply      
"I chose to categorize content by the mention of things like big companies (i.e., Amazon, Google), Hot Startups (i.e. Pinterest, Instagram), Sensationalism (i.e. Best, Worst, First), Programming Languages (everything I could think of), and Profanity (which was fun)."

What happens to stories that use sensationalism and profanity? Or sensationalism and a new startup?

sputknick 6 days ago 2 replies      
you say the two possible reasons you are not making the front page are: your content is weak, or people's taste's have changed. The fact that the number of submissions has not changed suggest to me a third and more plausible option: The quality of submissions, and therefore the competition for the "front page" has increased.
deltaqueue 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think the basis for evaluating the quality of a community lies in the discourse and communication. Submissions are a part of that, but the discussion that follows (i.e. comments) is the most important indicator of change. Personally, there seems to be an influx of reddit-style comments (little substance, meme-oriented) this year, but that could be a general evolution of the English language given the heavy influence of the internet.

That said, evaluating change in the number of comments along with comment upvotes vs. sentiment analysis seems like the only logical way to demonstrate any sort of quality meta analysis. I'm not really versed in qualitative research, so here's my ASK HN: is this even possible?

kunle 5 days ago 0 replies      
> Also interesting is the enormous gap between the New York Times, whose content tops this list, and the Wall Street Journal, whose content performs among the worst.

I think this might actually be more related to the WSJ paywall. If you dont have a subscription, you can't view many WSJ articles, whereas the reverse is true for the NYT.

On an unrelated note - I wonder how the category of HN related posts do, relative to other (basically same analysis of the "Pinterest" category). Judging by the success of this post, I suspect HN + Data are a good mix. Are posts about "Data" just as successful?

rickdale 6 days ago 0 replies      
I think what you are doing is challenging in the sense that you have made your goal to write a post that will go viral on HN. Remember, every story here, pretty much, is content from somewhere else. You are right that you aren't hitting your audience, but your audience isn't HN, its those reading your blog. If someone in your audience is also on HN then maybe they will find it relevant to post.

Writing to be a big story on HN is like betting a number in roulette. You had beginners luck at first, now its time to find a new game...

Camillo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just a heads-up: your site works really poorly on mobile. The text column is too narrow, while the charts are too big, and their interactive features make it hard to scroll the page. They also don't work right (touching a chart seems to mess up the y axis labels), but the impediment to scrolling is more annoying. I only ever read HN on my iPhone, so this is an upvote you're not getting simply because of technical problems with your website.
capkutay 5 days ago 1 reply      
These are excellent visualizations, I'm glad they put this together, showed it to the hn community while also demonstrating one of rj metrics use cases.

A note about the product. How do they differentiate themselves from other DW analytics companies like datameer? (http://www.datameer.com/) I can tell they specialize in e-commerce, but couldn't any DW analytics service give you that AND more?

rickyconnolly 6 days ago 1 reply      
I've noticed that some submissions drop off the news feed like a rock, while other submissions of the same story posted just a few hours later can gather considerable discussion, with submission time being the only apparent variable.

This leads me to speculate that there may be an optimal submission time or times throughout the day. I'd like to see analytics that look at the variation in the average number of comments/upvotes for submissions (or some other metric) to see if this theory holds any weight.

pi18n 6 days ago 0 replies      
This looks cool and now I want to mess around with it. I wish there was a torrent for that dataset.
javajosh 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have to shake my head in admiration. What a powerful story - to start with not one failure, but three failures, and then to use the same tool you were trying to hock in those failures to figure out why you failed...and then, remarkably (at least for me) succeed wildly.

At least in this case, your tool provided some very valuable insight.

nwienert 5 days ago 0 replies      
As someone who'se mildly colorblind, a few of your charts were near impossible to read. Especially the bottom three lines in Average Score by Category. Just a heads up.
ewest 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is an interesting analysis yet the information can be derived from using your site's analytics and your observational skills to come to the author's conclusion.

It's like a painting - the subject matter is important, yet the stuff around the main subject is what makes it stand out.

Analyze what your stats don't have, or seem to have 'less of', as compared to other content.

I think the data analysis could have been more interesting to a broader audience by making it more 'newsworthy' rather than a raw analysis targeted at a relatively small community (compared to a more general audience).

By 'newsworthy' I mean something along the lines of 'NYTimes, WSJ used by technical users too' - or something like that - or something like - 'Hackers in controversy - observers and participants'.

sgdesign 6 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, I'm number 10! I don't know if I should be happy that people like my stuff, or scared that I've spent so much time submitting and commenting on Hacker News this year...
drpgq 6 days ago 1 reply      
Is it really surprising that Hacker News doesn't care about Pinterest?
DanBC 6 days ago 0 replies      
Does this article correct for increased thresholds to perform some actions? The down-vote used to be easier to get, for example.
andrewkkirk 5 days ago 0 replies      
Thanks to these metrics, I've cracked the HN code:

We should always publish our content on paulgraham.com

That's the takeaway of these metrics, right?

apeace 5 days ago 0 replies      
Just a suggestion, he should compare MongoDB and Riak on Hacker News. For laughs
New $250 Chromebook chrome.blogspot.com
412 points by ConstantineXVI  4 days ago   329 comments top 5
cs702 4 days ago 4 replies      
It's obvious now that Google intends to keep improving Chrome OS, the devices on which it runs, the services that come with it (100GB of free online storage!), and the cost & headaches of maintaining it -- while aggressively cutting prices.

I'm expecting a $199 Chromebook within a couple of years, and a $99 model within the next five years. This has the potential for upending the prevailing business model of traditional PC vendors.

jpxxx 4 days ago 3 replies      
Weird future moment: a 21st century industry titan has to use puppies, kitties, and children to sell a machine that freely dispenses the sum total of humanity's knowledge.
polshaw 4 days ago 5 replies      
> Samsung Exynos 5 Dual Processor

So cortex A15 has finally landed.. no mention of RAM or size of on-board SSD, i'm guessing 1-2GB and 8/16GB respectively (e: 2/16). Disappointing battery life ('over 6 hours', same as the x86 one), i guess the battery wasn't spared from the cost-cutting. Exynos 5 also means USB 3.

And do we know if you can definitely get linux on these (==interesting), or might they be super locked-down?

Definitely a device worth recommending to the former netbook/ 'only use my computer for facebook' crowd.

e: the battery is 2 cell, AFAIK even cheap x86 laptops come with 6-cell batteries, so it is a case of cost-minimizing.. shame, i'd lap this up with a 12-18hr battery life.

AYBABTME 4 days ago 2 replies      
"A Chromebook for everyone"; cool. The article talks about the author's childhood in India, how he dreams of bringing computers to everyone. The price makes it a device that could be bought by anyone. The size of the computer, the autonomy, the low power, everything looks like it's meant to really democratize computers to an even wider audience, say in developing countries where 3G/LTE networks are surprisingly developed and cheap (depends on the country, of course).

But then, its bundled with Verizon, limited to the US and the UK. What are the 3G frequencies? Is this thing locked with Verizon? Say I want to give one to my friend in Vietnam, so he/she can get access to a computer, will the 3G modem support the carrier's frequencies there? Unknown: it's listed as "WLAN : 802.11 a/b/g/n, WWAN : Verizon 3G". Great.

The device is nice, the price is nice. But marketing it as "a Chromebook for everyone" is just wrong. It's a laptop for people in the US, that's it. And really, I wonder what kind of "humanitarian" problem it's solving. I understand the low price is to create a following for the product, but I find the "Chromebook for everyone" brand phony.

Unless "everyone" == "Verizon customers living in the US".

ChuckMcM 4 days ago  replies      
"100 MB of internet per month, for free, from Verizon Wireless."

So I'm really sort of conflicted by Chromebooks, I love the concept, but wonder why it doesn't come with 4G/LTE (seems like a 'new' device should), what sort of data plans and are they dynamic like the iPad? (month to month) And 100MB a month? Seriously? That is what 5 minutes of 3 mbit video? 10 minutes of cheezy 1.5mbit video a month? Web sites that start up a youtube embed video when you visit? poof go the mBytes. Heck the WSJ is like 20 - 30MB per issue these days. Seems like 2.5GB is a healthy net allocation for a tablet/laptop experience, that 25x more.

Looking forward to seeing one 'in the flesh' as it were.

Guerrilla guide to CNC machining, mold making, and resin casting coredump.cx
408 points by VBprogrammer  1 day ago   36 comments top 14
pvarangot 1 day ago 0 replies      
This guide (or book?) couldn't be upvoted enough. With his comprehensive work I believe Michal has done more for home manufacturing and high quality hobbyist robotics than all 3d printing "revolutionary" and "disruptive" companies combined.
noonespecial 1 day ago 0 replies      
Some people make you wonder if they're not like Shakespeare is rumored to have been; so phenomenally productive that they might be a myth, an amalgamation of the work of several brilliant people, piled up behind one convenient name.

Michal Zalewski is that kind of guy.

OldSchool 22 hours ago 0 replies      
There is -something- very appealing to engineers about fixing or making physical stuff as a hobby after spending your work life in a virtual world where words create things.

I always thought it was my working class roots showing through but I've managed to collect a fairly complete set of metalworking, woodworking, automotive, electrical and HVAC tools over the years. The excuse at the time? I could learn it and do it myself and keep the tools forever for what it costs to pay someone hourly once. (note: if you're in the midst of a one-in-a-lifetime cash cow, just hire out this stuff and kick the hobby down the road.)

I have however run across certain trades that require developed skill not just a knack for learning quickly - among them: drywall floating, window tinting, body and paint. Others are highly scalable big jobs that just aren't suited to a one-man attack.

There is an element of burnout in that most of this physical work is a lot harder than what we all do for work!

lifeisstillgood 1 day ago 14 replies      
Is there a co-operative movement in the maker movement - one where the mysterious "Well equipped machine shop" is a co-op or subscription approach - it strikes me as very similar to airplane ownership - very few pilots own a whole aeroplane, and why should every maker own all they need

As an aside I have often felt this would be a fantastic Mythbusters franchise

dkhenry 1 day ago 0 replies      
I bought a used CNC mill off e-bay a while back and this is exactly the kind of resource I have been looking for to really get some use out of it. Still what we need is a really good open source CAM program. Most of them are proprietary, slow, or just useless on complex projects.
mtdev 1 day ago 1 reply      
Great article, I am glad MSDS was touched on before machining cast parts. The only thing I would add is that users should check MSDS before machining ANY material. There are a few exotic metal alloys whose dust can cause severe respiratory trauma.
delinka 1 day ago 2 replies      
CNC machining is exactly the hobby I've wanted to develop. A well-timed post indeed. My eternal gratitude for your efforts to provide this information.
gravitronic 1 day ago 1 reply      
Dang. This is an amazing guide. This could have saved me so much time and money if I read it before buying a crappy mill and having to rebuild most of it from scratch.
kdsudac 1 day ago 0 replies      
Great guide! I've often thought about trying some DIY resin castings and this is by clearer and more thorough than anything else I've found online.
juanre 1 day ago 0 replies      
I became a mechanical engineer because I was fascinated by machine tools, but ended up writing software and devising printing algorithms for a living. This article is a treasure. Just the kind of field guide that people like me need to go back to the world of atoms and build stuff.
omegant 1 day ago 0 replies      
This link is awesome!, you need to browse forums and pages for weeks or months to get all that info on your own!. Thank you!
justinschuh 1 day ago 0 replies      
As a general rule, I never browse to any links from Michal Zalewski. If he's gonna pwn me, I'd like him to have to work for it a bit more. ;)
guavaroo 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, this is really great. I never knew about Creo Elements/Express going to give it a try.

If you use SolidWorks then check out HSMXpress, it's a great free CAM package.

[1] http://www.hsmworks.com/hsmxpress/

madlag 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very impressive compilation of information for the robot hobbyist (among other stuff) !
Small alexmaccaw.com
340 points by olivercameron  3 days ago   49 comments top 22
mattdeboard 3 days ago 1 reply      
I breathed a sigh of relief when there wasn't some tie-in to startup culture or programming or social media at the end of the article. Excellent post.
jazzychad 3 days ago 4 replies      
Two nights ago while I slept, for the first time I had a dream about going into space on the shuttle. I have wanted to go into space since I was a child, so in my dream I was extremely excited about going into space.

I dreamt of the launch, the G-Forces, the adrenaline rush, and finally the sky turning from blue to black as we escaped the atmosphere.

Then the shuttle turned over so we could see the Earth. As the cockpit window rotated and Earth came into view, the feeling of _sheer terror_ washed over me as I saw how small the planet looked. I had a panic attack in my dream from looking back down at Earth. I woke up a few minutes later as if from a nightmare. It was the strangest experience, and the imagery and feelings are extremely vivid in my memory. I wonder if humans have an innate emotional response to this size perspective, but this seems somewhat related to the Overview Effect described in the article.

comicjk 3 days ago 1 reply      
I suspect that the thoughts people have in space will be of the same order as those they have on the ground. Thus space tourism is unlikely to have much mind-expanding effect. We have profound quotes from astronauts because we don't send idiots into space. Yet.
pdx 3 days ago 3 replies      
Regarding the pale blue dot.

Has the photo been enhanced so we can see the earth, or is that actually how it looks?

What are those color bands I'm seeing? Does the earth stay in it's orange color band, indicating they are orbital lines around the sun?

jusben1369 3 days ago 0 replies      
When you live in one town all your life you get a better/different perspective when you travel to another city. The same goes for then visting other parts of your country and then inbetween countries and then continents. Each time the effect is more pronounced than before. You realize the insignificance of many of your "problems" when you met other people from very different socioeconomic backgrounds. I wonder if space is just the most absolute point of this effect.

Elegant blog post. If only because it didn't overcrowd us with thoughts but rather set the stage for pondering.

arscan 3 days ago 2 replies      
I would have thought that you'd have to be a lot higher up than Felix to experience the overview effect. Its one thing being able to see the curvature of the earth... its another matter altogether to be be in orbit and see the whole planet in 90 minutes (or being able to blot out the entire planet with your thumb held at arm's distance, as was the case for the guys that made it to the moon).
jasim 2 days ago 1 reply      
Relevant: A fascinatingly disturbing thought by Dr. Neil deGrasse - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDRXn96HrtY
Alex3917 3 days ago 1 reply      
"With more people viewing the Earth from afar, perhaps the world will gain a little more perspective, and a better sense of proportion."

Interestingly enough the reason we have the pictures of the earth from space is that Stewart Brand started a petition to get them declassified because he thought seeing the pictures would induce the same sort of experience (and pro-social behavioral shift) as LSD. Apparently he actually had the idea while on acid, while sitting on his roof in San Francisco.

Ideka 1 day ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of the Total Perspective Vortex, a torture machine from Douglas Adams' sci-fi book The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

For when you are put into the Vortex you are given just one momentary glimpse of the entire unimaginable infinity of creation, and somewhere in it a tiny little marker, a microscopic dot on a microscopic dot, which says "You are here."

This, according to the book, completely annihilates your brain.

kyleslattery 3 days ago 0 replies      
Here's Carl Sagan talking about the "Pale Blue Dot", it's definitely worth a watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wupToqz1e2g
charlieok 2 days ago 0 replies      
I grew up with enough of an interest in space that I heard and internalized a lot of this as a kid. I think some IMAX movies attempted to recreate this kind of experience.

I wonder now much more impactful the real thing would be in terms of altering a person's perspective.

morsch 3 days ago 0 replies      
Am I the only one who assumed the Baumgartner's remarks were rehearsed or otherwise prearranged?
justatdotin 3 days ago 0 replies      
hoepfully the rest of us can rediscover a less costly way to get that same perspective ... the fact that this author concludes with excitement at space tourism suggests to me they totally miss the message roaring from the blue dot.
ultramundane8 3 days ago 0 replies      
I'd like to believe that we all experience a weak Overview Effect from time to time. It's often a friend of existential nihilism.

But to have your entire life add up to a powerful case of that realization must be an extremely emotional experience.

SeoxyS 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is the kind of article that I come to Hacker News for. :)
dhruvbhatia 3 days ago 0 replies      
To contrast, I absolutely love this video where Neil deGrasse Tyson provides an explanation as to why he doesn't feel small in the Universe:
studyedge 2 days ago 0 replies      
Makes me want to start a small side project that routinely sends oppressors and other individuals with ambition of world domination on a free ride into the space.
mempko 3 days ago 3 replies      
although the first to do space tourism will be the rich.

They will hover over us and instead of thinking how small they are, will feel at peace having escaped the rest of us... who are now too small to see.

vbl 3 days ago 0 replies      
Perspective is a powerful thing. How things looks depends a lot on where you sit.

Makes me wonder how this concept can be applied to more Earthly affairs.

kami8845 3 days ago 1 reply      
I was disappointed, a pretty inconsequential blog post reaching far for anything worth writing.

"So while the first astronauts to the moon went as technicians, they came back as humanitarians."


Restoration of defocused and blurred images yuzhikov.com
335 points by Terretta  2 days ago   28 comments top 12
teuobk 1 day ago 1 reply      
This tool appears to be an open-source (and faster) replacement for Focus Magic, in that it allows the user to perform parameterized deconvolution. By that I mean: if the blur kernel can be approximated by either a line or a filled circle, and you're willing to tweak the dimensions and angles of the blur kernel, this can do a decent job of recovering your photo.

If the true blur kernel is more complicated -- perhaps a wavy line -- then you probably need a blind deconvolution tool, which this is not (yet?).

If you're interested in blind deconvolution in general, Dr. Levin of MIT put together a nice overview paper a few years ago: http://www.wisdom.weizmann.ac.il/~levina/papers/deconvLevinE...

(Disclaimer: I'm the developer of Blurity, a blind deconvolution product)

iskander 1 day ago 0 replies      
The deconvolved images have some pretty nasty ringing. If you use an algorithm which places a realistic prior on the pixel gradients you will probably get cleaner results.

For example, check out: Fast image deconvolution using hyper-laplacian priors (http://cs.nyu.edu/~dilip/research/fast-deconvolution/).

edit: I changed the link to the author's page, which has Matlab code and a GPU implementation.

noonespecial 1 day ago 2 replies      
The example where it made unreadable text legible was patricularly jarring to me. I've been mocking CSI for years now. I'm nervous.
unfasten 1 day ago 0 replies      
If anyone would like to see another example, here's one I just did. The original photo was taken with a Galaxy Nexus and no flash. It's a grainy shot and not the best starting point, but I was curious how it would do with a lower quality starting point.

Original: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/24903613/hn/blur.jpg

Using the program I was able to get: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/24903613/hn/blur-edited.jpg with the following parameters:

    Defect type: Out of Focus Blur
Radius: 17.4
Smooth: 72%
Correction Strength: 23%
Edge Feather: 34%

It's by no means a perfect end result, but you are able to make out a decent amount. Here's a clear shot of the insert for comparison: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/24903613/hn/blur-clear_shot.jpg

planckscnst 1 day ago 1 reply      
Very impressive. It reminded me of a demo from Adobe at MAX 2011 that showed promising results; it was more focused on eliminating defects from real images to produce a more aesthetic result. http://youtu.be/xxjiQoTp864
0x0 1 day ago 1 reply      
Wow, pretty good. I wonder if there will be any scandals coming from various blur-redacted, sensitive documents, if they can be de-blurred as well as this demonstrates?
thenomad 1 day ago 3 replies      
Unintended Consequence the First: amateur porn producers have been "anonymising" their photos for nearly a decade now with heavy blur filters over the subjects' faces.

That's a decade of compromising images about to become significantly less anonymous...

donpark 1 day ago 1 reply      
peripetylabs 1 day ago 0 replies      
Just a couple technical notes:

1. The article states "the operation which is opposite to convolution is equivalent to division in the frequency domain" which is not correct. 2. "Deconvolution" has no mathematical definition (as implied by that quote), it is the name of various algorithmic approaches used in signals processing. 3. Finally, the Wiener filter is not deconvolution, it is just a filter.

Nonetheless, a great article, with great illustrations.

nemo1618 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, I was a little unimpressed with the results until the text deblurring at the end. It was so crazy, I had to go back and actually read the article instead of skimming it :)
matt2000 1 day ago 1 reply      
Enhance! It's real!
OldSchool 1 day ago 0 replies      
Nice article that visually shows anyone what is (or at least used to be) third-year or better engineering material!
When A Daughter Dies freakonomics.com
318 points by jvilalta  1 day ago   174 comments top 4
mcmatterson 1 day ago 2 replies      
This hits close to home. I came within a hair's breadth of losing my infant daughter to cancer just over a year ago, and a few things come up in my thoughts:

- Not all medical systems are the disaster described here. We elected to move back from the US to our native Canada to undergo treatment, and our experience in ward (pre and post-op as well as on the oncology floor) was a dream (at least given the circumstances). We experienced nothing but exemplary inter-disciplinary cooperation, compassion for the patient (and family) experience, and a professionalism driven by clinical need rather than liti-mitigation. These qualities were exhibited even more strongly during the initial phases of treatment post-discovery, which unfolded along a timeline similar to the one discussed here.

- Academic hospitals are exhausting. My spouse ended up being the real hero in this story (she was still breastfeeding at the time, and only one parent was allowed to overnight in the room). My job was to make sure she and our daughter had recovered enough each day to make it through a night of vitals, endless beeping, and the occasional overnight chemo administration (don't even get me started about that).

- The need for patients and their families to drive the narrative of their hospital experience and be their own champion is critical. I had worked in healthcare for many years before this nightmare began (my old office was at the hospital across the street from her room) and knew the system very, very well. We divided up responsibilities so 'I looked outward, and [my spouse] looked inward', meaning that I spent my time making sure that the relevant referrals happened, that medications were administered on time and on dose, and so on. My wife looked inwards towards our daughter, making sure she was fed, entertained, and comfortable. This setup worked very well for us, and was a likely contributor to our level of care.

- The power of parents to be strong in the face of terrible (often inevitable) odds is truly inspiring. We were lucky enough to know with reasonable certainty fairly early on that we would one day be leaving the hospital and resuming a normal life. Many, many families we met were not so lucky. To see a parent express joy and love in the face of such long and terrible odds is a truly unique experience. I myself am a measurably better parent for having witnessed it.

tokenadult 1 day ago 0 replies      
Steven D. Levitt's father Michael Levitt



is a medical doctor and academic researcher in medicine at the University of Minnesota. I used to file his grant applications into the office file drawers as a duty of my part-time job while pursuing my undergraduate degree. Michael Levitt is perhaps the world's leading authority on intestinal gas and still has an active research program in diseases of the human bowel. He indeed has seen many patients at a research hospital over the years, the same hospital where my mother worked as a nurse for most of her career.

Dr. Levitt writes in the submitted article, "Overnight admission to the hospital is recommended for 'observation' and rest prior to the trip home. Fifty years of experience have taught me that admission to an academic hospital is not restful. I have stopped counting the patients who want to be discharged to get some rest." I have an immediate family member who was given excellent care at the same academic hospital Dr. Levitt knows so well. My relative is in excellent health now decades after that treatment. But indeed, even with best care, the patient experience at a research hospital is not restful, as world experts on the patient's case vie with medical students and a variety of other health science trainees and practitioners to learn from the patient. When a case is puzzling, as was the case of my relative, research-oriented practitioners are curious about how to understand the case, trying to find established, verified practice to help the patient, and otherwise working "empirically" (an ominous word--to me--used by my relative's main doctor to describe a procedure he attempted when he wasn't sure what to do next) to do whatever they can to help.

As the father of a daughter, I can hardly imagine a rougher kind of news to hear. Another immediate relative lost a fiancee to cancer years ago, and that relative's memories of that time are full of frustration. The various kinds of cancer are still so varied--as mentioned in the article--that there is essentially NIL prospect of ever having a general treatment that will be an effective first-line treatment for most forms of cancer. Instead, there will continue to be surgical treatment for come cancers, a growing variety of chemotherapies for a variety of cancers, in the best luck genome-matched to vulnerable cancer cell strains, and radiation treatment for other cancers.

Ultimately, though, we will all have to learn to die better,


because we will all eventually die of something. Meanwhile, if you are a parent, this submission is a reminder to cherish your children while they are here, and if you are a medical researcher, as Michael Levitt is, this is a reminder to continue to strive for better understanding of health and disease, while remembering the patient experience as new tests and treatments are devised.

enduser 1 day ago  replies      
I lost my sister to cancer 9 years ago when she was in her early 20s and I was in my teens. Her experience with the medical system was humiliating, futile, and expensive. My parents have never fully recovered emotionally. It has taken me years to integrate the experience, and I still have ghastly memories of the pains she endured recovering from unnecessary surgeries. When I read something like this i feel how much I would like to see a change. It's only partly a techological change--it is also imporant for us as a people to let go when nothing can be done, not to make things worse out of a need to be seen doing something. Unfortunately when a panicked parent is demanding that something be done to save their child, someone will be willing to do something even if the first person knows that nothing can be done.

When it is my time to die I intend to fully engage with the experience of dying, and not to numb the experience with knife wounds, drugs, and over-stimulating hospitals. Until then I intend every day to live fully, with great sensitivity, and to remember that each day I live is one my sister did not have. There is no entitlement to health or longevity; some things cannot be predicted nor controlled.

dandrews 1 day ago  replies      
I was struck by the amount of care that was seemingly influenced by fear of litigation. An ambulance driver diverted to a closer e/r despite having a physician onboard. A nurse wouldn't sanction ice chips without the admitting physician's chop. Exhausting and time-consuming tests needlessly repeated.

I once asked a veterinarian acquaintance of mine why he hadn't become a physician. "Wouldn't you rather drive something fancier than that pickup truck?" I needled, gesturing out the window at his old F150. "Yeah" he replied, "but those guys spend most of their time doing paperwork. I get to practice medicine."

Simplify your life with an SSH config file nerderati.com
313 points by koide  3 days ago   82 comments top 23
sneak 2 days ago 6 replies      
This overlooks ProxyCommand, the single most useful reason for using an ssh config file.


    Host internal-*.example.net
ProxyCommand ssh -T external.example.net 'nc %h %p'

Basically, specify as ProxyCommand whatever command needs to be run to give you i/o to the remote sshd - in this case, sshing to a bastion host and running netcat. This allows me to do, for example:

    ssh internal-dev.example.net

Which will (in background) ssh to the bastion host external.example.net. I can even do port forwards to internal hosts using -L or LocalForward directives. It's a huuuuge timesaver.

ssh even automatically replaces %h and %p in the ProxyCommand with a host and port, though you can of course replace those tokens with static values if it works better.

(Also, note above that one can use wildcards in Host declarations.)

ef4 2 days ago 2 replies      
> Personally, I use quite a few public/private keypairs for the various servers and services that I use, to ensure that in the event of having one of my keys compromised the dammage is as restricted as possible.

If you keep all those private keys on the same machine and tend to load them all into ssh-agent frequently, then there's little point in that. People forget that keypairs are not like passwords -- if Github gets compromised, nobody can do anything with the public key you gave them.

Unless you treat the keys very differently (like having a special key that you rarely ever decrypt), there's no reason to have more than one per device.

cmer 2 days ago 7 replies      
I now use Mosh exclusively over ssh. It's great on slow connections as well as on fast ones. For example, I can start an ssh connection at home on my laptop, drive to the office and resume like nothing ever happened. One of the best discoveries of the past year for me.


swalberg 2 days ago 2 replies      
If you add the following to your .bash_profile, you'll get command line completion of your hosts:

  function _ssh_completion() {
perl -ne 'print "$1 " if /^[Hh]ost (.+)$/' ~/.ssh/config
complete -W "$(_ssh_completion)" ssh

jerf 1 day ago 0 replies      
A few other useful things about SSH aliases, especially w.r.t. not just using shell aliases:

They set you up with a layer of indirection that you can change later. Git-svn doesn't like having the URL to the SVN server changed, but if you set up a git alias to "svn" instead, when the SVN server moves for some reason you won't have to do anything except change the svn alias contents. You can also share the resulting tree between multiple people easily because they can plop in their own "svn" alias that uses their own user instead. In general you can safely reference the SSH alias in any number of places (beyond just shell scripts) and know that you can trivially change the alias later without having to change all those things.

There are many things that will use SSH, but won't accept any parameters, or will accept only a small subset. Emacs can use SSH to access remote file systems by opening "/ssh:username@ip:port:/file", but it will only take username, ip, and port (AFAIK). With SSH aliases, you have the full power of SSH available to you, so you can use all these other nifty things people are talking about. I've also been using ddd to remotely debug perl lately and that pretty much seems to demand 'ssh host' with passwordless login and nothing else.

icebraining 2 days ago 3 replies      
A great option to enable for servers where you're constantly SSHing to (either opening a shell or pushing a repo) is ControlMaster, which lets you multiplex a single connection and cut down on the initial connection time (including authentication).
jperras 2 days ago 0 replies      
Author here. Glad to see that this post was useful; I wrote it a while ago when I realized that people weren't password-protecting their Github private keys because it was "too complicated".

I've been meaning to start writing again, and my post showing up on the HN front page is a pretty good motivator. Thanks for that, everyone :-).

ftwinnovations 2 days ago 0 replies      
Great tips but this one in my opinion is pure gold http://blogs.perl.org/users/smylers/2011/08/ssh-productivity...
notatoad 2 days ago 0 replies      
i just switched over from using bash aliases (as described in the article) to an SSH config file last week. The best thing for me is that it doesn't just make ssh easier to use, it makes all the ssh family of tools easier. scp, sshfs, rsync etc all suddenly require less typing to use.
adanto6840 2 days ago 1 reply      
I've run into a few local networks that have routers, or other network security appliances, that are configured in such a way where my SSH connection would get dropped after XX seconds of inactivity.

Placing the following wildcard entry in my SSH config resolved the issue for those times when I had to use one of these networks...

  # Set Global KeepAlive to avoid timeouts
Host *
ServerAliveInterval 240

Newky 2 days ago 1 reply      
Good article, especially the LocalForward config was new to me.

One real usage that is invaluable for me, is the fact that the config is used for SVP also. This saves a lot of typing.

With a key based login set up, copying files to a server is a matter of

scp file dev:~/

the_mitsuhiko 2 days ago 1 reply      
I wish the damn thing would support DNS. We have a bunch of servers to SSH into and I have to use the fully qualified domain name unless I want to hardcode all of them (and there are too many).
trotsky 2 days ago 1 reply      
no one ever uses kerberos outside of windows shops anymore?
nnq 2 days ago 0 replies      
Considering the large percent Linux users frequently using SSH, I'd stick a link to this (and to http://www.debian-administration.org/articles/290) in all newbie targeted Linux tutorials... I just hate the world for letting me live without this knowledge for close to a year since diving into Linux.
easy_rider 2 days ago 0 replies      
Here's another reason why. For specific hosts, ssh can sometimes feel terribly slow, especially with connecting, and especially on a mac!

Host -host-name-here-
GSSAPIAuthentication no
GSSAPIKeyExchange no

Fixes this issue.
source: http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=2011102011541796...

liveoneggs 2 days ago 0 replies      
you can setup port forwards on-the-fly with ~C

~? shows the few things you can do over the admin channel of ssh.

  ~ $ ~?
Supported escape sequences:
~. - terminate connection (and any multiplexed sessions)
~B - send a BREAK to the remote system
~C - open a command line
~R - Request rekey (SSH protocol 2 only)
~^Z - suspend ssh
~# - list forwarded connections
~& - background ssh (when waiting for connections to terminate)
~? - this message
~~ - send the escape character by typing it twice
(Note that escapes are only recognized immediately after newline.)

js2 2 days ago 0 replies      

  man ssh_config

skylan_q 2 days ago 0 replies      
I was very pleased when I discovered this. I was thrilled when I discovered that Emacs tramp mode makes use of this! :D
bonobo 2 days ago 1 reply      
Nice article. If only I had seen this last week, it would have saved me some time. I was trying to configure multiple github accounts last week, but I don't have enough experience with ssh.

...but now that I did manage to configure it, I wonder if it was really necessary. Github has a nice identity control, I think it was foolish of me to think I needed both a personal and a work account.

lallouz 2 days ago 0 replies      
Oh man, I have been thinking about this problem for a while now. Glad to see the start of some simple solutions to make this more bearable.
evanm 2 days ago 0 replies      
Been doing this for some time now"getting my precious seconds back one login at a time.
mememememememe 2 days ago 1 reply      
But this is known for years. I've been using this since the second week of using Linux.
grobot 2 days ago 1 reply      
I find myself wishing ~/.ssh/config had include statements, so I could mix and match blocks which are only useful on certain networks / in certain contexts.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos calls for governments to end patent wars metro.co.uk
308 points by mtgx  5 days ago   107 comments top 16
theevocater 5 days ago  replies      
People have already been making this mistake: calling out Jeff Bezos over Amazon's one-click patent is a strawman by the name of tu quoque (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_quoque). This is a non-argument. Being a hypocrite doesn't make you less correct.

Regardless of past transgressions, Jeff Bezos is right. Governments and their people need to examine their patent laws (I would argue all IP laws) and figure out what the right amount of protection is necessary given our modern world.

TeMPOraL 5 days ago 1 reply      
Yes, maybe Bezos is a hypocrite. His company has a history of abusing the patent system and he's now realizing that software patents are a Bad Thing because he's just about to get on the receiving side of them [0]. So what?

Even if he doesn't have the moral high ground, it doesn't change that he's right. And that's a good thing; it's better to have one hypocrite in power with ability to change things for good, even if he does it for selfish reasons, than to have one hundred morally pure [1] people who don't have the power or means to do anything else than whine. Google, Amazon, and others may not be white like snow, but they would serve good as temporary allies in fixing things for everyone.


(In general, I hate when people throw around the label of 'hypocrite'; quite often it's just an distracting ad hominem.)

[0] - but hey, "it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." (Upton Sinclair)

[1] - then again, how many of us are really so innocent? How many would stand to principle if offered a chance to patent some silly software "invention" and thus speed up career development?

SoftwareMaven 5 days ago 0 replies      
How ironic given the first ridiculous software patent I remember was Amazon's one-click purchase patent that it use as a cudgel against many e-tailers in the late nineties (and may still, for all I know).

EDIT: Not saying there weren't other ridiculous software patents; just that this one got a lot of press at the time and brought software patents to developers attention in a way that hadn't happened before.

adastra 5 days ago 1 reply      
I look forward to Bezos matching his words with actions.

It's pretty well known that Amazon's lobbying in DC is entirely focused on preventing Amazon from having to pay state sales taxes. Bezos has never lifted a finger to help any other tech cause -- note that Bezos didn't co-sign the open letter on SOPA from tech CEO's[1], and that Amazon didn't co-sign the company letter[2], for example.

If he does become active on this, that's great. But given his history I'd be shocked if he put real resources behind it. And until he does it will just be empty words.

[1] http://venturebeat.com/2011/12/14/tech-execs-anti-sopa-lette...

[2] http://www.protectinnovation.com/downloads/letter.pdf

OldSchool 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think we all would love to see an end to patent threats in software not so much for the sake of the big players but for the sake of small businesses attempting to bring a product to life. If it took Amazon to make it happen then great. Heck, if Steve Ballmer brought an end to software patents I'd be thrilled.

Whatever ill will Amazon created amongst the technorati more than a decade ago pales now in comparison to Ballmer's inept continuation of Microsoft and the post-iPhone Apple walled garden and patent actions. Less obvious but significant are the erosions to privacy brought on with the help of Google. I vote Jeff Bezos "least evil" at this moment. Someone I know even said he was a "nice guy." Small sample, yes.

I'm not particularly hopeful that we'll see meaningful legal reform in software patents. There is too much money to be made by lawyers in filing and litigation. Their brethren in government making the laws are't going to one day just shut down this little parasitic industry that feeds many of their friends and likely contributors.

Until then, where's the most troll-free place from which to conduct a software business? Black and white immunity is not necessary, just a not-worth-the-effort situation for trolls??

DannyBee 5 days ago 0 replies      
They should just retitle this article "Jeff Bezos finally realizes he's next"
suresk 5 days ago 4 replies      
This rings about as hollow as if it were Tim Cook complaining about closed ecosystems. Bezos likely realizes that as Amazon moves into making and selling mobile devices and tablets, they too will be targets for patent litigation.
sehugg 5 days ago 1 reply      
Bezos's 2000 open letter on patents: http://oreilly.com/news/amazon_patents.html

Good sentiment, but it's twelve years later and the only positive action we've seen from Amazon concerning patent reform is an offhand comment to a reporter. How's that prior art database coming along, for example? Forgive me for not getting too excited.

Klinky 5 days ago 0 replies      
I completely agree with Bezos as it's absurd that companies can patent things like rounded corners or 1-Click shopping, oh, oh wait...
cloverich 5 days ago 1 reply      
Why is he a hypocrite?

To exist as a tech company today, you'd be insane to NOT patent as much as possible. Seriously, if you're developing tech to compete with Apple (or any large tech co), but have no IP of your own, you're defenseless. Thats the impression I get, anyways - that you're best bet is to patent as much as possible. The more vague, the more absurd, the better. It offers more bargaining chips. Because lets face it - can a non multi-million dollar company survive a couple of lawsuits by one of the tech giants? I doubt it.

Patent warfare is a systematic issue; its not unreasonable to attack the system (Gov't sponsored patents). That's what I take from this message. I'm sure there's a Game Theory term for this, but its clearly not something that can be resolved outside of the system. Anyone who stops the lawsuits (or threat of) quickly disappears.

waterlesscloud 5 days ago 0 replies      
Geez guys, when someone hands you a victory, take it.
stcredzero 5 days ago 0 replies      
Sort of like 1973, when the largest stockpilers of nuclear weapons started to talk about limiting them. The weapons holder is in a unique position to know how bad the use of weapons can be.
antidoh 5 days ago 0 replies      
If anyone has credibility here, it's Bezos (for reasons listed in other posts). Not sarcasm.
conanite 5 days ago 0 replies      
The article ends with

  Mr Bezos would not be drawn on whether Amazon plans to
release a smartphone of its own.

Amazon's plans in the smartphone market may be influencing Jeff's argument.

lh7777 5 days ago 0 replies      
"Jeff Bezos calls for governments to end patent wars" seems a bit dramatic when you consider his actual statements.
From the article, he actually said (emphasis mine):

"...we're _starting_ to be in a world where [patents] might start to stifle innovation...Governments _may_ need to look at the patent system and _see_ if those laws need to be modified..."

If he truly believes that the patent system needs to change (and I really think he does), couldn't he have left those qualifiers out? As it is these just seem like timid observations, far from a call for governments to step in and do something.

krrrh 5 days ago  replies      
What a weak article. The interviewer had Jeff Bezos complaining about patents, and never brought up one-click? He never asked about consistency of position, or if it the uncertainty of being a new entrant into an established market had given him a new perspective on the factors that encourage innovation. The paucity of actual quotes or dialogue in the piece make it seem like the full interview (linked to from the OA) was conducted by sitting behind Bezos in business class and scribbling down what was overheard.
Things I wish I knew about MongoDB a year ago snmaynard.com
302 points by beastmcbeast  5 days ago   104 comments top 7
dia80 5 days ago  replies      
Genuine question:

In what use cases does mongo kick mysql's ass?

I've used it a couple of times in hobby projects and enjoyed not maintaining a schema. I read so many of these 'gotcha' style articles and for example one commenter here wants to have a manual "recently dirty" flag to combat the master / slave lag mentioned in the article. I know it's faster (tm) but once you have to take in to account all this low level stuff you have to worry about yourself wouldn't it just be better to rent/buy another rack of mysql servers and not worry about it?

Look forward to learning something...

lars512 5 days ago 2 replies      
The inconsistent reads in replica sets is something we've come across with MySQL read slaves as well. I think it's a gotcha of that whole model of replication, rather than a MongoDB-specific issue.
tomschlick 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm so glad this wasn't another case of someone just ranting about using mongo for the wrong purpose and being mad about it a year later.
nickzoic 5 days ago 0 replies      
The count({condition}) one is a worry. I'm guessing it is slow in the case where it has to page the index in in order to count it. I wonder if it is still a problem where the index is used a lot anyway. A fix in MongoDB would seem a lot better solution than having everyone implement their own hacky count-caching solution.

EDIT: Actually, looking at the bug reports, sounds like maybe lock contention on the index?

The master/slave replication problem seems bad but I think it can be worked around (for my particular project) with a flag on the user session ... if they've performed a write in the last 30 seconds, set slaveOkay = false. Users who are just browsing may experience a slight delay in seeing new documents but users who are editing stuff will see their edits immediately.

nevinera 5 days ago 1 reply      
>Range queries are indexed differently

If I'm reading your description right, this is hardly mongo-specific. Try it in mysql, for example:

(index is [:last, :first])

  select first from names 
where last in ('gordon','holmes','watson')
order by first;

An index is an ordering by which a search may be performed -
to illustrate, the index for my small table looks pretty much like this:

  gordon, jeff
holmes, mycroft
holmes, sherlock
watson, john

Unless the first key is restricted to a single value, it can't order by the second key without performing at least a merge-sort. They aren't in that order in the index.

jameswyse 5 days ago 2 replies      
One thing I love MongoDB for is it's geospatial indexing abilities: http://www.mongodb.org/display/DOCS/Geospatial+Indexing

Was a really nice surprise when I was building a location based web app.

chris123 5 days ago  replies      
Is MongoDB more marketing hype than quality product? I've heard it before and this article seems to point in that direction as well.
XKCD-style charts with D3 iel.fm
299 points by idan  4 days ago   32 comments top 15
jamesaguilar 4 days ago 4 replies      
If I'm honest, the most impressive thing about this is how much less concise this is than the mathematica version that came out earlier. I wonder if the difference is more a matter of the library quality or the syntax.
danso 4 days ago 0 replies      
It draws a nice sine wave
nigma 4 days ago 1 reply      
For comparison a version in Python/Matplotlib is at http://jakevdp.github.com/blog/2012/10/07/xkcd-style-plots-i...
prezjordan 4 days ago 2 replies      
Nicely presented! And bl.ocks.org is also very clean (never heard of it before).

I would say this is the nicest result I've seen compared to Python, Mathematica, MATLAB.

eric_bullington 4 days ago 0 replies      
Well done! I actually was planning on tacking this one myself using svg filters but I've been too busy. I didn't see Mike Bostock's comment suggesting the custom line interpolator and wasn't aware of it -- d3 is gaining some cool new functionalities!

Thanks also for the great references. In spite of being a big proponent of d3, I somehow missed the "Toward Reusable Charts" piece Mike wrote earlier this year, which succeeds where I have struggled. I've been using the standard prototypal approach to creating reusable and easily configurable charts, which can be cumbersome for the caller. This functional approach with closures is so much cleaner and more reusable. It's the only way I'll make my d3 charts from now on!

mark_integerdsv 4 days ago 1 reply      
I still need to see a thorough rationalization for the use of this chart style.

Bonus points for using the Tufte 'lie factor' formula.

DanWaterworth 4 days ago 1 reply      
The graph is good, but I think I like the font more.
gojomo 3 days ago 0 replies      
Now if we could only get D3-style animation in XKCD...
joeblau 4 days ago 0 replies      
This thing looks amazing. I didn't want to fire up Mathematica to render these charts but I love D3. Thanks!
suprememoocow 4 days ago 0 replies      
If you want to play around with the example, I've stuck it on jsfiddle: http://jsfiddle.net/KndsL/2/
gubatron 4 days ago 0 replies      
" // Compute the distance along the path using a map-reduce."
vangar 4 days ago 3 replies      
Can't you just use a tablet and DRAW the graph like it was hand-made?

I don't understand...

sturmeh 4 days ago 0 replies      
Took be a bit to realise this wasn't a Diablo 3 reference.
heeton 4 days ago 0 replies      
Negative awesomeness?? Uh-oh!
languagehacker 4 days ago 0 replies      
Okay, guys. We get it. Enough.
Free Flag Icons gosquared.com
299 points by timparker  5 days ago   75 comments top 23
hp 5 days ago 7 replies      
Using flags in your visual design can be tempting but in my experience it's a bad idea. The problem is that certain flags force you to "take sides" in political disputes that you likely aren't aware of and don't understand. You'll inadvertently make one side very angry with you, and you won't even really know what political statement you accidentally made.

It's OK if you stick to flags you know but if you start trying to have a list of all flags, there's no way to do that without making various groups angry.

I don't doubt that there's a "right" answer to all disputes over flags but do you really know what all the disputes are and want to arbitrate them as part of developing your software ...

Deliberately not digging up specific disputes because the whole point is, if you have to ask what they are or if you start debating them case by case, maybe this wasn't a can of worms that needed opening.

(also, the last time I encountered this was long enough ago that I'm sure the relevant examples have changed, and I never understood them well to begin with. But it was clear that flags poked more than one political group in the eye.)

crazygringo 4 days ago 3 replies      
For people saying "don't use flags", and "especially not for languages"...

I totally agree in theory, but...

In a lot of interfaces, having something visual helps a lot. Especially when you need to pick something from a list where you don't even know what language the user speaks!

Obviously, you can present a text list like "English (American)", "Português (Brasil)", "አማርኛ", "贛語", but it can look kind of ugly, how do you decide to sort them, etc.

Plus, a lot of times the language is tied to a country, because each country has their spelling and grammar differences, etc. That's why many times you don't see "Portuguese" in language lists, but rather "Portuguese (Portugal)" and "Portuguese (Brazil)" -- because there's no such thing as a general-purpose Portuguese.

So while flags aren't perfect, a lot of the time they help far more than they hurt. In a perfect world, there would actually be language-specific icons that everyone recognized. Suggestions, anybody?

rhplus 5 days ago 1 reply      
A bit of advice: avoid using flags altogether in your user interface unless you really, really need to refer to specific national/political entities. There's far too much room for error or offense, whether you're incorrectly assigning the wrong flag to a geographical region or have not represented the flag correctly. I haven't looked at the flag set, but I'm betting there are errors related to the correctness of layout, aspect ratios and colors and to the clarity of symbols and text.

Even more importantly, never use a flag to represent a language choice.

(* most major websites do avoid using flags, but one notable exception is Apple, which completely corrupts every single flag with their own shiny style: http://www.apple.com/choose-your-country/ ...)

morsch 5 days ago 2 replies      
Under what license are they released? There is no licensing information on the page, or on the parent "freebies" page, or in the zip file itself.
ComputerGuru 4 days ago 0 replies      
The website flags these as "vector" - they are gorgeous and I'm wondering if the actual SVG versions are available?

If you want one particular flag (instead of many for language purposes), I think these are very fine.

dagw 5 days ago 1 reply      
Wow, awesome. I'll definitely be using this. In fact this is so awesome I actually gave my real email address.
uvdiv 5 days ago 1 reply      
What were the criteria for including some disputed states (South Ossetia, Somaliland) while excluding others (Transnistria, Azawad)?
pilsetnieks 5 days ago 1 reply      
It would help tremendously if the files were named by, say, ISO 2-letter country codes (where it applies).
Sembiance 5 days ago 1 reply      
No vector format? Don't get me wrong, these flags are appreciated, but to spend all that time making them in a bitmap format? Kinda seems like a bit of a waste, since flags seem PERFECT for vector format.
highace 5 days ago 1 reply      
How long did they take to make?
cheeaun 5 days ago 1 reply      
I think it would be awesome if all these flag icons are hosted on a CDN and we can all link to it.
Zenst 4 days ago 0 replies      
I find selecting country via flags of a global map to not only be alot quicker than a drop down list, but also more intuative. As somebody who lives in Britian/United Kingdom, then selecting via a flag or mini world map is much easier. Reason being from my point of view is often there is no UK/British option and your slotted in as American English in some forms of language selection. Now if the application ror website wish's to do that behind the scene then fine, but with lists you tend not to have that mapping and on flags or a global map your none the wiser. Also educational value and easier upon all cultures that way, some might prefer there drop down lists on the right, some on the left so this avoids that. All in all it offers more positives as apposed to negatives over dropdown lists for country/flag selection.

So the option to have icons you can freely use without accidently stepping upoon somebodies IP can only be a good thing and counter any arguments about flag copyrights and images. Amazing how even the simplest common items can be copyrighted - swiss clock being one even Apple slipped up upon. So some free ones are always good.

BUGHUNTER 5 days ago 1 reply      
Thanks for the contribution. It would be great to have all flags, especially the small ones, in ONE file to avoid x requests on sites with many flags.
Here is one idea: offer a service for people who need multiple country flags on their site to generate the one big flag picture set they need for their specific set of flags - one big country-selector that spits out a big flags.png after submit would be a great promo! Thanks!
ilija139 5 days ago 0 replies      
I have heard about GoSquared, but have never tried it before. I just signed up and I'm truly amazed. The dashboard view is really useful feature. IMO this is as good as it gets for real-time website analytics. Awesome work guys!
chucknelson 5 days ago 2 replies      
Is anyone else surprised that in the age of "retina" displays, these only go up to 64px?
adaml_623 5 days ago 0 replies      
Had to look up this one when I saw it was included: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Mars
sailfast 4 days ago 0 replies      
As someone that often designs things that are country / geographically specific this is a great collection. I also like it as an idea to drive traffic to your site. You're on my radar now and the other freebies look pretty slick too. Thanks! Definitely made the right impression.
jblz 4 days ago 0 replies      
Here's another set that goes up to 128px:

They're free, but require attribution unless you buy a 'royalty-free license.'

visualidiot 5 days ago 0 replies      
Wow, they're beautiful!
munyukim 4 days ago 0 replies      
I have been looking for high quality flag icons like these; I would be definitely using them in the future. Thanks!
timparker 4 days ago 1 reply      
Change log + details added as a .txt in the .zip
halayli 4 days ago 2 replies      
These guys have bluntly copied woopra.com
bustaarama 5 days ago 1 reply      

Can't find any informations regarding a license (usage) ?!

Free Online Education Is Now Illegal in Minnesota slate.com
284 points by paufernandez  4 days ago   149 comments top 8
tokenadult 4 days ago  replies      
As correctly pointed out by another comment posted overnight in Minnesota's time zone, this blog post is just blogspam of the earlier Chronicle of Higher Education blog post, which was discussed on Hacker News beginning yesterday.


The title of the Slate blogspam piece is even more exaggerated and link-baiting than the title of the Chronicle piece; both titles are factually wrong. Both blog posts overstate the impact of the Minnesota notice to higher education institutions, which has resulted only in a fig-leaf change to Coursera's ToS directed to Minnesota residents, and has had NO effect on Coursera's operation in Minnesota. As noted in my comment on the first thread,


I am a Minnesota resident, I am enrolled in multiple Coursera courses (and two of my children are enrolled in Coursera courses), and I will be speaking to my state legislators about this as a precaution after first speaking to the Minnesota Department of Education about this when business hours begin here. The sun will rise in the east here in Minnesota just like everywhere else today, and all is well with the world. Well, maybe not quite everything is well with the world, as two of the top eleven most active posts on HN just now


are both discussions of this very exaggerated story about Minnesota, neither checked with actual on-the-ground reporting on students currently enrolled in Coursera courses in Minnesota.

ONE MORE EDIT: Thanks to the several commenters (at various comment levels in various subthreads) who suggested policy considerations to bring up with the offices of my state senator and state representative today during the campaign season, and to the commenters who pointed to various possible interpretations of the relevant statutes and possible partisan political considerations related to this issue. I'll digest all that after giving blood today, and send an email to the state Office of Higher Education


and to my legislators. Over the weekend, I'll be doing homework in my Coursera courses [smile].

EzGraphs 4 days ago 0 replies      
Coursera terms of service:

Notice for Minnesota Users

Coursera has been informed by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education that under Minnesota Statutes (136A.61 to 136A.71), a university cannot offer online courses to Minnesota residents unless the university has received authorization from the State of Minnesota to do so. If you are a resident of Minnesota, you agree that either (1) you will not take courses on Coursera, or (2) for each class that you take, the majority of work you do for the class will be done from outside the State of Minnesota.

Previously reported: http://chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/minnesota-gives-cours...

Previous discussion: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4671196

delinka 4 days ago 2 replies      
I don't see how you can make such a determination about a online information site (i.e. one that provides information but not accredited diplomas or degrees.) You can learn all day from Wikipedia, will they ban wikipedia next? This really looks like politicians overreaching on behalf of some frightened post-secondary institution.

From the article's page, commenter Greg Shenaut points out that further reading of MN law would render this political "threat" moot. His comment pasted below:

Bottom line, they should have considered Coursera, since it offers no degrees at all, under their “Private Career Schools” statute (Chapter 141) rather than under their “Private and Public Postsecondary Education Act (136A.61-71)”. The latter act is concerned with (1) degree granting institutions and (2) schools that call themselves universities or colleges as part of their name. Coursera grants no degrees and doesn't call itself anything except “Coursera” (or coursera.org), so it is really bizarre that they decided to regulate it under 136A.61-71.

If they had made the opposite determination, then, under 141.21(10) and 141.35(17), Coursera would probably have been exempted from any need for official approval: “[The Private Career Schools Act] shall not apply to... schools with no physical presence in Minnesota, as determined by the office, engaged exclusively in offering distance instruction that are located in and regulated by other states or jurisdictions”.

imgabe 4 days ago 1 reply      
How could they enforce this? If someone from Minnesota takes a class, is Minnesota going to sue Coursera? Fine/jail the student? There's really no option that doesn't leave Minnesota looking bad.
ekianjo 4 days ago 1 reply      
When are we going to stop the nonsense to stop any disruption to any existing business by making laws against it? Just like in france recently they want to tax Google for referencing the contents of french newspapers on the basis that they are benefiting from their contents to put their ads - this never stops and the politicians are too easy to corrupt.
jeremyhaberman 4 days ago 4 replies      
It gets worse: religious schools are exempt from this law: https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=136A.657

Here's an index of the relevant statutes (scroll down to the 'MINNESOTA PRIVATE AND OUT-OF-STATE PUBLIC POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION ACT' section):

nicholassmith 4 days ago 1 reply      
And once again a service discovers the thorny world of regulation framework that was design for a specific set of circumstances and is being applied like a hammer to an egg.
dschiptsov 4 days ago  replies      
Something is very wrong with that country.

It is not mere about depriving people from their right to free information access, it is an attempt to deprive people from their right to grow up, to improve their lives, to learn how they have been cheated and by whom.

For example, to learn that not just those finance guys, but the whole economic science has no clue about what's going on with the economy, except that it is very broken.)

The Pirate Bay in the cloud thepiratebay.se
273 points by ponyous  6 days ago   68 comments top 21
morsch 6 days ago 2 replies      
The announcement is rather nebulous, as is their way. TorrentFreak has a more detailed explanation: http://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-moves-to-the-cloud-become...

It's pretty much what you'd expect, though: The web site is now running on VMs on two unnamed cloud providers, accessed through a load balancer. All traffic is still routed through servers they control. The cloud providers apparently don't know that they're hosting the pirate bay, or pirate cloud as it were. If a cloud provider goes away, they can move to the VMs to another one. If their own transit routers go down, no data is lost and it's easy to get back and running.

charlieirish 6 days ago 1 reply      
For UK Visitors:

The Pirate Cloud

So, first we ditched the trackers.

Then we got rid of the torrents.

Now? Now we've gotten rid of the servers. Slowly and steadily we are getting rid of our earthly form and ascending into the next stage, the cloud.

The cloud, or Brahman as the hindus call it, is the All, surrounding everything. It is everywhere; immaterial, yet very real.

If there is data, there is The Pirate Bay.

Our data flows around in thousands of clouds, in deeply encrypted forms, ready to be used when necessary. Earth bound nodes that transform the data are as deeply encrypted and reboot into a deadlock if not used for 8 hours.

All attempts to attack The Pirate Bay from now on is an attack on everything and nothing. The site that you're at will still be here, for as long as we want it to. Only in a higher form of being. A reality to us. A ghost to those who wish to harm us.

Adapt or be forever forgotten beneath the veils of maya.

unreal37 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think this all goes to underscore the fact that TPB doesn't actually HOST anything anymore. Not .torrent files, and not trackers. Not sure on what grounds authorities would have to raid them in 2012. There are no files there any more, just HTML web pages containing magnet links (which are specially coded URLs). The entire site can be downloaded in a few hundred MB...

It's like TPB has achieved Nirvana. It no longer has a physical presence...

andr 6 days ago 2 replies      
In practice this probably means several replicas of the site dormant in different cloud providers. The providers won't have a clue until they go live.

In effect, they are replacing their current legal protections with a game of cat and mouse as they switch between clouds.

shadowmint 6 days ago 2 replies      
obscure announcement is obscure.

basically seems like they've got a virtual setup now that lets them essentially deploy "the pirate bay" on anything that runs virtual machines.

Now if they had distributed user run VMs running this private server VPN they might have something to talk about, but is basically just a hosting change. Makes it easier for them to move around as hosting get wise and shuts them off (as it will inevitably do).

The real question is, are they doing something sneaky like having VMs running on known clouds using encrypted vpn traffic to hide the fact that those machines are pirate bay VMs, and relays to feed info in and out. ;) Just speculating...

mbq 6 days ago 1 reply      
Aren't the cloud providers capable of simply hibernating a VM on their machine to get VM's RAM contents and salvage all the config and keys/passwords/network topology info they want from this dump?
ericcholis 6 days ago 3 replies      
I'm sorry, am I the only one that isn't impressed by this? I'm actually quite stunned that they are treating this like some new discovery. Pop onto HN any day and see thousands of people talking about cloud. Hell, some local IT staffing agency in my area has a billboard about cloud servers.

Cloud is mainstream now, why did it take TPB so long to catch up?

//Sorry if it sounds like trolling

belorn 6 days ago 2 replies      
In the end, I think it will fall on the dns system to decide if the site will survive or not. Currently, most TLD's just redirect any request of censoring by saying "go where the server is and solve the issue at the source". When that is no longer an option, the political pressure will increase.

Hopefully, TLD's like .se will stand fast and refuse to use the DNS system for censoring.

daemon13 6 days ago 2 replies      
Step 1 - What if their domain is shut down through registry?

This will cut short most of the users who do not remeber IP by heart.

Step 2 - go after static IP and shut it down through ISP.

This will cut the remaining users who remeber old IP by heart.

If executed simultaneously...

Sami_Lehtinen 6 days ago 1 reply      
I would have preferred fully distributed solution. This one is easy to take down. Also memory snapshots can be take from servers, so disk encryption doesn't help. Not best possible solution afaik.
sergiotapia 6 days ago 1 reply      
Too bad their search feature is absolutely horrendous. Searching for a simple term like "The Matrix" doesn't return any results at all.
daurnimator 6 days ago 2 replies      
sure "thepiratebay" as we can define it is linked to wherever the DNS entry points to?

That is the single point of failure, even in a move to the cloud.

eloisant 6 days ago 1 reply      
Well, DNS is still a single point of failure. You gotta hope The Internet Infrastructure Foundation is supporting them.
oneandoneis2 5 days ago 0 replies      
It's a nice advance and all, but I still think it was cooler when they were talking about putting masses of micro-servers into orbit to make their hosting truly impossible to take down :)
mansoor-s 6 days ago 0 replies      
I would love technical details. Anyone know if they have published them anywhere?
alz 6 days ago 0 replies      
how do they manage their databases, this would be interesting if the system is truely distributed
frozenport 6 days ago 1 reply      
"reboot into a deadlock if not used for 8 hours"

Sounds like a bug to me!

andrewmunsell 5 days ago 0 replies      
Couldn't TPB do something like Silk Road with Tor and a .onion domain? I'm not exactly sure how that works, but from the limited knowledge I do have, it seems like that sort of approach would be slightly more difficult to access but also more difficult to take down...
gleen 6 days ago 0 replies      
d0m 6 days ago 0 replies      
benologist 6 days ago 0 replies      
Silly article, silly rhetoric.
Billion laughs wikipedia.org
267 points by khet  2 days ago   63 comments top 7
dguido 2 days ago 7 replies      
Probably should rename this to "billion reposts."

Can we move beyond this simple issue and discuss more complicated aspects of security on HN?

wtallis 2 days ago 2 replies      
So, how much memory would a real-world parser actually consume given this file? I'd try it, but I had to RMA my workstation's motherboard yesterday, leaving me with a machine that only has 3GB, which is the obvious minimum for a full expansion. But I could imagine an XML parser might use UCS-2 internally, inflating this to 6GB. Or, some parsers might be clever and not attempt a full expansion.
astrojams 2 days ago 2 replies      
It isn't obvious at first glance that this small xml file actually expands to billion "lols". You really have to give the bad guys credit for ingenuity.
caseydurfee 2 days ago 3 replies      
Is there a legitimate use case for being able to recursively define entities like that?
ilcavero 2 days ago 4 replies      
so, how do I protect myself against this?
alexrbarlow 2 days ago 3 replies      
I have to say, i love this, crazy, for a language that is really for transferring data.

I guess you could do this with YAML too?

055static 2 days ago 0 replies      
This doesn't work with my sed-based XML parsers. :(
Google throws open doors to its top-secret data center wired.com
265 points by Hurdy  6 days ago   96 comments top 19
fourspace 6 days ago 2 replies      
I had the pleasure of helping to build and manage these facilities, both hardware and software, for 5 years. It's nice to see some of Google's real innovations reach the public eye. Some of the smartest folks I ever worked with at the company build absolutely mind blowing tech that the outside never has the opportunity to see or appreciate.

In fact, while much of the content in the article has been written about before, it's still probably 2-3 years or more behind where Google is actually at. I left in 2010 and did't read about anything I had not experienced.

sounds 6 days ago 1 reply      
Single page article: (note: HN guidelines suggest always submitting the single-page article)


rpearl 5 days ago 2 replies      
There are some photos, such as https://www.google.com/about/datacenters/gallery/images/_300...

I wonder why they've mirrored the image (the left side is quite clearly the right side flipped--take a look at the machine identifier labels). What's being hidden?

DanBC 6 days ago 7 replies      
It's a shame that heat is just dumped outside most of the time.


The article talks about Google's impressive technical achievements. But there's a lot of energy that's wasted in industry. I don't mean "used inefficiently" (although that's bad too); I mean actually wasted.

I used to work at a tiny electronic sub-contracting factory. The morning shift would arrive, turn on the air compressor (2 KW), the reflow ovens (10 KW and 12 KW); and the other machines (about 7 KW).

But they'd do that even if the machines were not going to be running. All these KW were being used for no reason at all. And the machines are pretty inefficient anyway. (One of the owners thought powered machines looked more impressive. Energy costs were included in the rent so there was no incentive to think about when the machines were on or off. )

Counting that waste across all the tiny factories in the world, and including all the waste in offices - it's quite a lot.

mseebach 6 days ago 4 replies      
It's a nice piece, but nothing new in it, and most certainly no doors were thrown anywhere.
javajosh 5 days ago 1 reply      
Hi Google Platform people. Very nice work. As you may know, Randall Monroe (of xkcd fame) has recently started a feature called "what if" on their site. I would like to post a question to you along those lines:

What if Google was tasked with building an orbiting datacenter? How about a Dyson ring, or sphere? How would you do it?

If we were to use all matter in the solar system for commodity linux hardware, how much gmail storage would I get? How many flops? And what sorts of computation could you do on this monster?

Please answer! This should be fun...

seiji 6 days ago 2 replies      
Google should one-up Amazon and get into the Datacenter As A Service market. Service segments: normal cages (I'd rather lease cages from Colorful Pipes, Inc than Equinix), pay-n-go turnkey same-hardware in 3 georedundant locations, and lease-by-rack in multiples of 10 pre-populated racks (racks specified as compute-only or storage-only with 10G interconnects between racks).
brown9-2 5 days ago 1 reply      
In regards to the disaster testing:

How did Google do this time? Pretty well. Despite the outages in the corporate network, executive chair Eric Schmidt was able to run a scheduled global all-hands meeting. The imaginary demonstrators were placated by imaginary pizza.

How does one decide what will placate imaginary demonstrators? Who calls them off?

Tipzntrix 6 days ago 1 reply      
They have a team causing water leaks and stealing hardware to test their disaster recovery. That is some serious penetration testing.
Loic 5 days ago 2 replies      
I start to be annoyed with the "a power efficiency of 2 is the standard in datacenters". My servers are hosted in a datacenter with a global efficiency of 1.15, proved after more than a year in operation. Announcing that Google is doing 1.2 is simply announcing something wrong and I suppose Google is very happy with this number being provided to the press. It means that some competitor will use it as "Google is the best, they do 1.2, we are at 1.3 we are not too bad", where I bet Google is now near 1.1 or less (they operate without cooling in Belgium for example).
stock_toaster 5 days ago 0 replies      
It is unfortunate (for the rest of us) that datacenter tech is such a competitive advantage for Google. If they were able to share their breakthroughs more readily with others, imagine how much less of the "1.5% of all power globally" datacenters could be using.
wilfra 6 days ago 1 reply      
Good read but most of that is not new information. I read a lot of that in a book about Google over two years ago. The last ~ 1 page was new though.
francov88 6 days ago 0 replies      
Really cool article - would be amazing to walk through that facility.... love the Google coloured pipes from the pictures
dredmorbius 5 days ago 0 replies      
When they say that supercomputing is essentially a plumbing problem ... looking at these photos, no kidding.
bhauer 5 days ago 0 replies      
All caveats about chrome-dev aside, I find it amusing that this site's navigation does not work in Chrome v24.0.1297.0. Had to use Aurora to view it.

Maybe Google really is Sun v2 ("We are the dot in dot-com" == "Where the Internet lives").

Fando 5 days ago 0 replies      
An incredible article!
no_script 5 days ago 0 replies      
Seriously. I can't believe they require JavaScript to view this all this eye-candy and server porn.


I thought GWT was designed to "compile" rendered pages for a wide variety of browsers and permutations of configurations?

The pictures are very pretty, but that's really awful of them to release a PR site like this, and force users into using JavaScript.


Meteor releases authentication, accounts system, and new screencast meteor.com
259 points by debergalis  5 days ago   65 comments top 17
amix 5 days ago 1 reply      
Basing this on the screencast I think this looks amazing and they seem to be very productive. This said, I am unsure if this would produce codebases that are easier to maintain, since there is not a clear separation of concerns and everything seems to be connected. I think doing client-side JavaScript is hard and messy (even with Backbone or Ember) I could not imagine this would be any easier if I had to handle the backend on the client-side as well (especially a backend that's updated in realtime).

This said, maybe the current struggle of the client side is because the data is on the backend and needs to be fetched, updated and handled using a client-server model. With Meteror the data seems to live on the client-side which maybe makes things easier.

hbbio 5 days ago 12 replies      
"Meteor 0.5.0, available today, allows you to write secure realtime client-server applications in pure JavaScript. It's the only system of its kind in the world."

That's an outright lie.
cf. http://opalang.org

vikstrous4 5 days ago 2 replies      
I know these guys have good intentions, but they seem confused about the guarantees that SRP provides. It does allow the server to verify the user's password without receiving it, but it doesn't help in any was against offline attacks. If the "password" (in this case verifier) database is compromised, the attackers will still be able to brute force the passwords. If they implemented it correctly, they will be salted, but this only makes the attack slower. Furthermore, nothing can protect you if your password is password.

Also, I hope that they don't think this removes the need for SSL. It does not. In a web application the server sends the client the javascript to run. A man in the middle can modify it and defeat the whole point of SRP.

ehutch79 5 days ago 2 replies      
I'm really glad auth finally got in this. With the biggest obvious stumbling block knocked off the list, I have some questions;

Is this production ready? Should I be using this for a greenfield project?

What is database access like? Postres, Mysql? SSL connections to mysql?

what's a typical setup/deployment look like?

davidlumley 5 days ago 1 reply      
While I'm not confident that being this tightly coupled to MongoDB is a great (or even a good) idea, I'm really glad to see Meteor get closer to 1.0 especially seeing as it's not another Rails clone.

The other concern I have is how testable is a meteor/derby codebase? I don't think I could commit to using something in a team environment without being able to _easily_ test things.

jemeshsu 5 days ago 1 reply      
Are Meteor or Derby frameworks to be used on the premise that you have only browser clients? If my Meteor/Derby web app has server component, how easy it is to build native iOS and Android clients to access the same data on the server?
eranation 5 days ago 0 replies      
The other top HN page article today doesn't add to my confidence in MongoDB so more persistence options will be interesting. But still, production ready or not, this can be an excellent MVP creator.
chrisweekly 5 days ago 0 replies      
This is a huge milestone for a very, very interesting and ambitious project. I wish instead of nit-picking about the marketing language in a release announcement, people would take a minute to appreciate just how amazing this platform is becoming. Yes, ok, derby.js and socketstream and nowjs and opa and realtime-project-foo and etc, sure, maybe they are awesome too, but so what? Meteor is incredible, and contributing to this rising tide floating all the realtime framework boats. And that is something to celebrate imho.

To the meteor team: high five, keep it coming, and thank you!

ajays 4 days ago 1 reply      
This looks very interesting, but can anyone tell me how scalable is this? All the examples I've seen are small scale; but can it support, say, 1000 clients? 10_000 ? Higher?
prawn 5 days ago 2 replies      
I saw the following tweet from PG within the last hour and wondered if it was a reference to some tech company launch. Then I came here and saw this story. Still not sure...

@paulg: "Did anyone else see a fireball heading east over Silicon Valley at 7:44? (Meteor?)"

rbn 5 days ago 1 reply      
I've used the Auth Branch for a few month now. You can see it in action at http://www.classfy.com P.S: make sure you have the "www", or else you wont be able to access the page
leke 5 days ago 1 reply      
I'm still trying to figure out the difference and advantage to learning this over node.js.
zobzu 5 days ago 0 replies      
If the auth is top of the art, why doesn't it have persona? :)
norviller 5 days ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know if the server code is being exposed to the client?
myhf 5 days ago 2 replies      
Looks like they finally took the suicide joke off their homepage.
propercoil 5 days ago 0 replies      
always when i see meteor i think it's the reverse polling comet server i used 2 years ago
talleyrand 5 days ago 0 replies      
I just like the Velvet Underground reference on the new party app demo.
TSA Removes X-Ray Body Scanners From Major Airports propublica.org
252 points by hornokplease  3 days ago   151 comments top 2
sologoub 3 days ago 3 replies      
""They're not all being replaced," TSA spokesman David Castelveter said. "It's being done strategically. We are replacing some of the older equipment and taking them to smaller airports. That will be done over a period of time.""

In other words: "So, we have these machines that may be harmful and cause a PR disaster, so instead of doing the right thing (protecting people from harm, and all), let's move them to smaller airports, where it's much less likely to cause a stir."

This is so messed up!

driverdan 3 days ago  replies      
Backscatter doesn't pose any health risk to travelers. You get a much higher dose of radiation from the flight. The only real health concerns are for the workers who are exposed to them continuously.

X-ray, mm-wave, magic pixie scanners, I don't care what type they are, I'm still opting out because it's a blatant violation of the 4th amendment (when mandated, staffed, and managed by the gov).

I'll be celebrating when body scanners and other security theater is ended entirely. I'm not getting my hopes up.

This Is Why They Call It a Weakly-Ordered CPU preshing.com
235 points by octopus  4 days ago   39 comments top 11
ComputerGuru 3 days ago 1 reply      
Nice blog post, though I personally prefer the ridiculousfish post [0] he links to in the end, that one's an instant classic.

He mentions Windows/x86 a couple of times. I only wish it were as simple as "this platform does not reorder." Having done low-level, heavily-multithreaded work on Windows for years: it'll behave like a strongly-ordered architecture 999 times out of a 1000 (or more). Then it'll bite you in the ass and so something unexpected. Basically, if you're doing your own synchronization primitives on x86, you have to pretty much rely on visual/theoretical verification because tests won't error out w/ enough consistency. I've run a test (trying to get away w/ not using certain acquire/release semantics) for an entire week to have it error out only at the last second (x86_64). Other times, I've shipped code that's been tested and vetted inside out for months, only to have the weirdest bug reports 3 or 4 months down the line in the most sporadic cases.

0: http://ridiculousfish.com/blog/posts/barrier.html

nkurz 3 days ago 2 replies      
I'm oddly uncomfortable with this article. It reinforces the idea of Memory Ordering as voodoo, rather than as something that can (and needs to be!) understood to properly write low level multicore code. Neither it nor the linked articles go into any details of how memory and cores actually interact, and without these details it would be very hard to get from "this seems to work" to "this is bug free".

You can try running the sample application on any Windows, MacOS or Linux machine with a multicore x86/64 CPU, but unless the compiler performs reordering on specific instructions, you'll never witness memory reordering at runtime.

It may just be poor wording, but I don't think this sentence makes sense -- it conflates compiler optimizations with memory reordering, and implies that this is dependent of choice of operating system. While the author probably didn't mean this, it's clear from some of the comments in this thread that this is causing confusion to readers. Worse, it's just not true --- while this particular example might not cause problems, memory reordering is still an issue that needs to be dealt with on x86.

Analogies can be helpful for intuition, but I think this is a case where one really needs to understand what's happening under the hood. Treating the CPU as a black box is not a good idea here, and test-driven development is probably not a good approach to writing mutexes. Calling attention to the issue is great, but this is an area where you really want to know what exactly guarantees your processor provides, rather than trying things until you find something that seems to work.

qdog 3 days ago 0 replies      
This is why I don't like to use shared memory. It's not easy to do this for a variety of reasons.

At a low level, to try and make this work, you need to do more than worry about a mutex. You need the cpu's cache to be out the way, the memory area protected, AND the memory bus transactions to be completed!

So...if c++11 works, this is what it must really do(some of this is handled by the hardware, but these all have to happen...and if there's a hardware bug, you need a software workaround):

1) Lock the memory area to the writing cpu (this could be a mutex with a memory range, but safest, and slowest, is to disable interrupts while you dick with memory. That's unlikely to be available at high level).

2) Write the memory through the cache to the actual memory address OR track the dirty bit to make sure CPU2 fetches memory for CPU1's cache. AND go over to CPU2 and flip the dirty bit if it has this bit of memory in cache...

3) Wait for all the memory to be written by the bus. Depending on the implementer of the but, it's entirely possible to have CPU1's memory writes heading into memory, but not yet committed, when CPU2's request arrives, giving CPU2 a copy of old data! One way to try and fix this is...have CPU1 read-through-cache to the actual memory location, which the bus will flush correctly as the request is coming from the same device that did a previous write. (I used to do embedded programming and had to use this trick at times, it's possible this is the only bus that worked like this, YMMV).

4) Release the locking mechanism and hope it's all correct.

Realizing that a '1 in a million' chance of failure probably equates to months between failures at most, you see why bugs with this stuff appear all the time. If you MUST use shared memory as your interface for some reason, you better be really careful. And maybe look to move to a different method ASAP.

Edit: changed memory controller to bus, oops

mjb 3 days ago 1 reply      
This is a really interesting article. Multi-core ARM seems to be the first really mainstream processor architecture that behaves this way. There have been others, like Alpha, but none have achieved the ubiquity that mult-core ARM has achieved. I suspect a side-effect of this is that many of the "threads are hard" effects that are hidden by x86 will come back to bite a lot of programmers. I think we are going to be seeing a lot more "threads are hard" and "threads and weird" posts in the near future, and hopefully better learning material about threading issues in the longer term. Even more hopefully, this might drive more research and development into abstractions for providing parallelism and concurrency in ways that hide the complexity of threads.
lincolnq 3 days ago 2 replies      
Yay memory semantics!

A classic case where this sort of problem bit Java in the ass: the "double-checked locking pattern" for initializing Singletons. http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/java/library/j-dcl/index.h...

I'm not sure if this was ever fixed / improved enough to allow the programmer to make this work.

callan 3 days ago 1 reply      
For those seeking more detail, Linux has a great reference on using memory barriers: http://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/memory-barriers.txt
hobbyist 3 days ago 0 replies      
Do, the memory barriers in ARM architecture also flush the caches? In Intel x86 architectures the hardware handles the coherency between all the caches, so a CPU core can directly read from the cache line of another core if it finds its own cache line to be dirty.. Does this happen in ARM also?
tveita 3 days ago 1 reply      
Valgrind has tools that supposedly can find certain classes of load/store race conditions.
I've never used them in anger, so I can't vouch for them, but it would be interesting to do a test on the example in the article.

Memcheck is certainly a must-have tool for finding heisenbugs in low-level code - it would be wonderful to have an equally effective solution for race conditions.



makira 3 days ago 0 replies      
and this is why you don't implement your own mutexes and use the ones provided by the OS.
usea 3 days ago 4 replies      
A question: Why is it the CPU architecture that is weakly ordered, if it's the compiler that is reordering the statements? Couldn't you have a compiler on a weakly ordered arch that preserved order, and a compiler on x86 for example that could reorder your statements?

Isn't it the language spec / compiler that is in charge of this, rather than the CPU? I'd like to know more about this.

hresult 3 days ago 0 replies      
Great article. CPU reordering is an effect which makes it notoriously difficult to implement lock-free code correctly.
Ubuntu 12.10 Now Available ubuntu.com
232 points by martindale  4 days ago   163 comments top 4
vacipr 4 days ago  replies      
"Avoid the pain
of Windows 8."

Well done Canonical..well done.

Here's a nice alternative for those having problems with the site.

josephlord 4 days ago 3 replies      

Make sure you disable the shopping lens before searching in public. Amazon searches can be NSFW!

Don't search for analyze in a school or Saudi Arabia.

I think that this is unacceptable default behaviour but currently seems to be a WON'T FIX.

adamman 4 days ago 2 replies      
"Avoid the pain of Windows 8"

If you think Windows 8 is going to be a pain, I don't recommend moving to Ubuntu. BTW, I really like Ubuntu. I don't like that sales pitch though.

modarts 4 days ago  replies      
"Avoid the pain of Windows 8"

And say hello to the pain of not finding suitable drivers for half your devices.

L'Aquila quake: Italy scientists found guilty of manslaughter bbc.co.uk
229 points by The_Fox  23 hours ago   103 comments top 29
kevinalexbrown 22 hours ago 2 replies      
This is an extremely important case, in that it underlies a central concern in scientific reporting, and it threatens to change the risks associated with scientific innovation and communication. For instance, if scientists at a pharmaceutical company issue unfounded assurances that a drug is safer than it is in truth, consumers might have a reasonable case. On the other hand, predicting earthquakes is so difficult, even if the scientists had mistakenly suggested that there was no reason to suspect an imminent quake, I find it hard to find justification for a 6 year prison sentence, in addition to damages.

But beyond that, it seems the scientists offered no such assurances at the meeting in question. To quote the Nature article (perhaps biased in favor of the scientists):

The minutes of the 31 March meeting, though, reveal that at no point did any of the scientists say that there was "no danger" of a big quake. "A major earthquake in the area is unlikely but cannot be ruled out," Boschi said. Selvaggi is quoted as saying that "in recent times some recent earthquakes have been preceded by minor shocks days or weeks beforehand, but on the other hand many seismic swarms did not result in a major event". Eva added that "because L'Aquila is in a high-risk zone it is impossible to say with certainty that there will be no large earthquake". Summing up the meeting, Barberi said, "there is no reason to believe that a swarm of minor events is a sure predictor of a major shock". All the participants agreed that buildings in the area should be monitored urgently, to assess their capacity to sustain a major shock.

To continue the analogy with medicine, it seems similar to a group of scientists suggesting that a particular course of treatment is likely safe, then receiving blame when the treatment goes awry. But blaming medical researchers, or earthquake scientists, could discourage innovative new treatments.

As one final point, I'd point out that the occurrence of an earthquake does not disprove the scientists: the likelihood of an earthquake given the data could still have been small, just non-zero. If medical researchers were held accountable for every death resulting from heart transplants gone wrong, we'd never have the overall benefit they provide.

patio11 22 hours ago 3 replies      
This is crazy, but I'll note that it isn't a peculiarly Italian form of crazy. People rush to find scapegoats after every disaster. In the future, consider being as skeptical of those accusations as you were when people accused folks you identify with, like scientists.
kitsune_ 22 hours ago 8 replies      
I can wholeheartedly recommend a documentary called Draquila " L'Italia che trema [1] about the L'Aquila earthquake.

As many of my Italian friends tell me, Italy is an absolutely corrupt shit hole. I remember a scene where they showed recordings of civil protection officials gloating about the disaster on the phone, right after it happened. They talked about the opportunity to make money [2].

The head of the national civil protection service is / was notorious in his blatant abuse of emergency powers to give government contracts (construction) without oversight to his crooked friends.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Draquila_%E2%80%93_LItalia_che_...

[2] At the end of the trailer: http://www.universalsubtitles.org/en/videos/lTyjwBhD9HOI/en/...

HerrMonnezza 18 hours ago 3 replies      
A blog post [0] about a month ago explains better why they are on trial:

  The prosecution's closing arguments [...] made it clear that
the scientists are not accused of failing to predict the
earthquake. “Even six-year old kids know that earthquakes can not be
predicted,” he said. “The goal of the meeting was very different:
the scientists were supposed to evaluate whether the seismic
sequence could be considered a precursor event, to assess what
damages had already happened at that point, to discuss how to
mitigate risks.” Picuti said the panel members did not fulfill these
commitments, and that their risk analysis was “flawed, inadequate,
negligent and deceptive”, resulting in wrong information being given
to citizens.

[0]: http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/09/porsecution-asks-for-fo...

So the whole thing looks more subtle (and sensible) than many news
headlines report...

ABS 22 hours ago 0 replies      
"It was not immediately known if they planned to appeal." of course they do, it's on many Italian media.

And in Italy there is a 3-tier system, this was only the first: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judiciary_of_Italy

wisty 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Predicting an earthquake is predicting when a bent wooden ruler will snap. Sometimes it creaks before it snaps. Sometimes it creaks, and doesn't snap. Sometimes it just snaps.

The way to prevent deaths from earthquakes is to ensure buildings can survive them. Modern buildings collapsed in the quake. I wonder if they were built to standard, or if a few corners were cut?

jpwagner 23 hours ago 2 replies      
This is unbelievable.

Is there anywhere to find all of the facts? This article doesn't give background info.

It took some digging to find that indeed the scientists had given a reassuring statement, though it had an expected but-we-cant-be-sure admonition, beforehand.

run4yourlives 21 hours ago 1 reply      
Sweet. Now I can sue the weatherman the next time I get caught in the rain.

Personally, I'm not surprised at this stupidity. I also won't be surprised if from now on every single report offered suggests that an earthquake will occur tomorrow, making the entire exercise meaningless and probably costing lives in the future.

tisme 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Scapegoating at its best. Really, what a disgrace this is.

Scientists are already loathe to communicate directly with the general public for fear of misunderstanding of carefully chosen words. This kind of farce will cause a rift that will take a long time to heal. If ever.

What's next? Putting the Earth on trial for manslaughter?

nsxwolf 22 hours ago 1 reply      
Lesson learned: Don't be an Italian scientist.
purephase 21 hours ago 0 replies      
While I have to believe that this will die through appeals, the long-term implications are enormous.

As nxswolf points out, it not only will scare off future scientists interested in working in Italy, but any official/expert tasked with preventing tragedies.

The fallout is that, with each possibility, worst-case scenarios will be the norm to avoid culpability over reasoned approach. Not to say that worst-case should not be considered, but dialling up to 11 is never an appropriate public response.

Finally, today it is seismologists, tomorrow it could easily be network security folks, application engineers, CTO/CSO's etc. Basically, any situation where the sum-total parts are so large and multi-faceted that no one person/agency could be seen as the expert.

Terrible tragedy, terrible fallout. The optimist in me hopes that this is dropped at the next appeal.

godDLL 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Stakes are raised?

> If the scientific community is to be penalised for making predictions that turn out to be incorrect, or for not accurately predicting an event that subsequently occurs, then scientific endeavour will be restricted to certainties only and the benefits that are associated with findings from medicine to physics will be stalled."

May work as a fraud deterrent too. May.

ramses 22 hours ago 2 replies      

At first I assumed that the scientists must have been out drinking, or must have made up the data ... but, no, they simply gave the best prediction they could, as they should.

I guess that forecasters of quakes and weather in Italy now have two alternatives: always claim a disaster is upon them, or move to a country where judges understand statistics.

louischatriot 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't find words strong enough to say how stupid this is. As wisty said, the good way is to build quake-proof buildings. Of course, that means fighting the Mafia which controls construction work in this part of the country, which takes more guts than judging 6 scientists.
ck2 21 hours ago 2 replies      
Why stop there - why not put "God" on trial and call in the church to do defense?
hannes0x21 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Well, sure thing, noone can predict earthquakes. But the same is true for claiming that there won't be one.

Prior to the earthquake on April 6th, 2009, there have been several smaller ones. On March 30th, there was a quake with a magnitude of 4.1. People were really concerned that something was about to happen shortly. So the day after these scientists claimed, that there won't be an earthquake in the near future. This was surely to calm the public. However, they were wrong. And according to the court, they didn't make their point clear enough, that they are basically unable to make such predictions.

Although I don't follow the sentence, I somehow get the judge's point.

More info here [german]: http://podcast-mp3.dradio.de/podcast/2012/10/22/dlf_20121022...

Mordor 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I know this position disagrees with what everyone's saying but here it is:

- scientists need to be held accountable in a court of law

- safety must always come first

- evacuation, while seemingly over the top, should be a way of life in an earthquake zone.

Who survived 9/11? Those who evacuated regardless of the risks and advice given at the time.

nollidge 22 hours ago 0 replies      
Why weren't any psychics sued?
mahesh_rm 5 hours ago 0 replies      
We live in a land where silence is king
Whispers have all disappeared
Cry for an echo, you won't hear a thing
Silence is king around here
Silence is king around here
Desperate measures come from desperate times
I don't regret what I have done
If my actions made you speak your mind
Angry words are better than none

I am Italian. Sense does not understand how things work around here, Poetry does.
Galileo could have been jailed 2 years ago.
As a fledgling phd entrepreneur, at 28, I am leaving Italy.

headShrinker 22 hours ago 0 replies      
While it's up to scientist to use the best science available. No where to they say scientists are responsible for outcomes. If the failure is based on the best science then what is needed is better science.

Ultimately, the failure is on the journalists and news organizations who choose to broadcast the words of the scientists. They have their rapport with the public and have responsibility to uphold their journalistic integrity. What is really at fault here is editorial review of the news organizations. Period. Anyone can say anything, but it is the news corporations that broadcast the message.

arjn 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm stunned. I hope other countries are not stupid enough to follow Italy down this ridiculous path. Can the EU intercede and do something here ?
ChristianMarks 22 hours ago 1 reply      
That will teach those smug seismologists.
89a 4 hours ago 0 replies      
> Specialists wrongly predict something

> Charge them for manslaughter

> Suddenly no one wants to be a specialist

> Don't get any predictions good or bad at all anymore

smogzer 6 hours ago 0 replies      
If the data (plots, spectograms, etc) was made public on realtime the opinions/warnings would be issued by independent scientists or ordinary people or algorithms that would issue the chance of something happening and nobody would get punished.


napolux 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, the sentence is not really about "earthquake prediction", but about the fact that some hours before the big earthquake alarms from the INGV (the italian institute for earthquake monitoring, one of the best in the world) were ignored.
Of course nobody can predict earthquakes, but in L'Aquila's quake there were strong evidence of "something happening", and they were ignored: that's why they were found guilty.
P.s. I'm from Italy
tgb 21 hours ago 0 replies      
Risk prediction is about minimizing expected risk, which does not exactly correspond to the eventual damage done. This means that there will be times when they are wrong. If we punish risk predictors this harshly for being wrong, no one will want to take this job up since it basically guarantees eventually being convicted of manslaughter. But without such people we have no hope of ever mitigating such disasters.

This ruling scares me.

zerostar07 22 hours ago 0 replies      
As much as i'd like to keep the scientists accountable for their work, seriously, letting people live in medieval apartments in a city with such history of earthquake disasters was the real crime.
mechnik 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish the convicted a speedy and successful appeal and hope they take comfort in http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8yEnu9_SGc
alpatters 23 hours ago  replies      
presumably the result of the quake would have been the same if the scientists didn't give a reassuring message?
And now they are in jail, if another quake strikes, the same will happen again.
Surely it is better that scientists are at least trying to predict the quakes, even if they get it wrong sometimes?
How I Hired Someone On Craigslist And Quadrupled My Productivity hackthesystem.com
224 points by sethbannon  6 days ago   122 comments top 27
pg 6 days ago 3 replies      
Henry Moore used to live over his studio. Whenever the noise of his chisel stopped, his wife would call down and ask why he had stopped working.
tjic 6 days ago 5 replies      
As a productivity system, this is idiotic.

As a blog post that serves as link-bait, it is GENIUS.

...which is to say, I think it excelled at the REAL goal. ;-)

robterrell 6 days ago 0 replies      
"Social working" -- I always thought this was the most important takeaways from XP and agile methodologies, that the highest quality work gets done when we tell each other what we're going to do ahead of time (agile/scrum), and then collaborate in the most literal sense by sharing one screen (pair programming) to see that the work gets done in the best possible way. Granted there are surely lots of other takeaways, but those are two things I did take, and I only do one of them.
motoford 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is an interesting and funny experiment, but I believe it's success lies in the fact that the author lucked out and found someone who could actually help with his work for $8 an hour.

I didn't watch the videos, but from the text it sounds like the lady was more like a good coworker, certainly better than your average minimum wage slapper.

ashray 6 days ago 3 replies      
The most important thing I got out of this article isn't the productivity 'hack' but the fact that there's a program called RescueTime that lets you find out exactly how much time you spent on your computer doing what.. o_O I didn't know about that!

I have long suspected that I have an HN addiction. Time to quantify it!

For others: https://www.rescuetime.com/

EDIT: Haha, while setting it up I found that the rescuetime folks think that adult funsies are quite important :P

Ignore adult content. Data for sites we recognize as adult-themed will be rejected at our servers and no time will be logged.

neilk 6 days ago 1 reply      
Slap startup people hanging out all day in Mission cafés? Hell, I'd do that job for free!
ken 6 days ago 1 reply      
I've been looking for something vaguely like this -- i.e., accountability -- for my own work. I'd rather work on my own projects, solo, but the one thing that is missing from a more formal work environment (or even a startup that's just "2 people with laptops in a cafe", which I did for a while) is accountability.

I've suggested to my friends with startups that they should host "hack nights" where random people can bring their laptop and work in a shared space for a while. I think it'd also be a good recruiting tool for the company. They've already got a cool office, so why not invite people there to see for themselves, plus become known as that place where people go to hack on interesting things?

I think this is one thing that academia really got right (having worked there for a few years once): put a bunch of smart people together in close proximity, each working on their own thing, but loosely sharing with each other. Big companies, small companies, startups, coworking spaces, and cafés all get one piece of this but miss a crucial piece.

Maybe I need to start a meta-startup.

olalonde 6 days ago 1 reply      
I'm actually working on a startup that solves this exact problem but with a twist: we outsource the slapping to India and use a shock-inducing necklace that can be remotely activated through Wifi. This will enable us to bring down costs and bring this service to the masses. So far, our virtual slappers have done an amazing job and the self reported productivity of our beta customers has gone through the roof.
jamesmcn 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is such an obtuse way to meet girls that it might actually work!
anandkulkarni 6 days ago 1 reply      
This is essentially pair-programming, and seems to be the reason he got more done -- a great idea to improve productivity.
TamDenholm 6 days ago 0 replies      
Ignoring the moronic link bait about slapping, essentially what he did was apply pair programming to writing. It would make far more economic sense to do this as well, since the level of entry to get a person to pair with to write is far lower than for a programmer, so kudos.
utunga 6 days ago 0 replies      
It's not quite the same but the woman who comes around every couple of weeks and does my accounts, we both acknowledge is about 80% 'slap based' productivity and 20% her specialized knowledge at this point.

When she comes around I usually 'drive' the computer the whole time, and it's great to have her advice on things like withholding tax rates, but mostly it just makes certain that particular things get done on time where if they didn't happen they would have a tendency to snowball into accounting catastrophe.

fennecfoxen 6 days ago 3 replies      
The $0/hour is to redirect your most popular slack sites in (e.g. Facebook) using /etc/hosts. You can redirect them to localhost, or to something you personally find annoying. :P
hkmurakami 6 days ago 1 reply      
>Want a bicycle, but you'd rather not buy stolen bikes from the corner of Market and 7th? To Craigslist we go.

Ironic, since Craigslist is infested with stolen bike listings :(.

annon 6 days ago 0 replies      
This is no mystery to most of the third world, you just set up your own personal sweatshop.
bennesvig 6 days ago 0 replies      
The social element works. I've experienced big productivity gains by having someone I connected with on Hacker News call me every night at 10:00pm and ask me 4 Yes/No questions that I wrote. The pressure to not say no provides extra fuel to stay on track and get more done.
ekianjo 6 days ago 0 replies      
The problem with these kind of articles is that they focus only on the "one-time off" and then never talk about how sustainable the productivity increase really is. If this is to be a social experiment, it needs to be done on a longer term like a month or something. Anything less that is just anecdotal.
joshmlewis 6 days ago 0 replies      
I like this concept, I laughed.

However, don't put a popup in my face while I'm reading your stuff to join whatever site it is. And don't bloat the side of the page with "share" stuff. If I like the content, I will share and/or signup, or at least bug me once I reach the end but not while I'm in the middle of reading and on a mobile device this is even worse. /rant

andyakb 6 days ago 0 replies      
one of my friends did something very similar [without the slapping] and had the same results. he is a high stakes poker player and paid somebody just to sit next to him and make sure he didnt surf the web, chat on aim, etc while playing poker. it let the "attendant" watch a skilled player at work, and it kept the player focused and earning more money.

is it best to will yourself to not get distracted? of course, but we all know thats easier said than done and for people with high hourly rates, it is often going to be worth it to just pay somebody to help ensure compliance.

technology 5 days ago 0 replies      
I think this is explained by Dan Ariely in his paper - "Procrastination, Deadlines, and Performance: Self-Control by Precommitment"


Procrastination is all too familiar to most people. People delay writing up their research (so we hear!), repeatedly declare they will start their diets tomorrow, or postpone until next week doing odd jobs around the house. Yet people also sometimes attempt to control their procrastination by setting deadlines for themselves. In this article, we pose three questions: (a) Are people willing to self-impose meaningful (i.e., costly) deadlines to overcome procrastination? (b) Are self-imposed deadlines effective in improving task performance? (c) When self-imposing deadlines, do people set them optimally, for maximum performance enhancement? A set of studies examined these issues experimentally, showing that the answer is “yes” to the first two questions, and “nO'' to the third. People have self-control problems, they recognize them, and they try to control them by self-imposing costly deadlines. These deadlines help people control procrastination, but they are not as effective as some externally imposed deadlines in improving task performance.

rickyconnolly 6 days ago 0 replies      
I would suggest reviewing the title of this position. In certain parts of the Anglosphere, 'slapper' has an entirely different meaning, and telling people you have hired one will spark a flurry of raised eyebrows
mangler 6 days ago 2 replies      
... and may be you don't call her a slapper in your blog posts or she may slap you for real. I would. She should...
spyder 6 days ago 0 replies      
Do it with a shock therapy device:
So we could see if it's the social aspect or the punishment that improves the productivity.
klous 6 days ago 0 replies      
This reminds of of pair programming, or pair everything like they do at Menlo Innovations [1]. I took a tour there recently and it was pretty eye opening. People are now even paying to learn the "Menlo Way"

[1] http://www.menloinnovations.com/our-method/founding-practice...

kevinconroy 6 days ago 0 replies      
And this, kids, is why pair programming WORKS.
maneesh 6 days ago 0 replies      
I am the author of this piece. I used the same techniques that I talk about in this post until today---but without the slaps. The power is in the pair, having an accountability partner is important. One good tactic is to have two friends plan out joint Pomodoro sessions --- sit down, set a timer for 25 minutes, and ask each other how you did.
bravoyankee 6 days ago  replies      
I just look at the pile of overdue bills for a moment and the harsh slap of reality gets me right back to work.
EC2 I/O scalyr.com
214 points by snewman  5 days ago   26 comments top 10
jread 5 days ago 0 replies      
I've been working on some similar analysis with EC2 and other providers. I think the big missing point in this post (acknowledged by the author) is with regards to EBS optimized instances and provisioned IOPS where we've observed a dramatic improvement in IO consistency. Another interesting observation I've experienced is that performance consistency often declines using multi-EBS volume raid, likely due to variations in spindle tenancy or network latency variations. EBS test volumes were 300GB. Better performance/consistency is possible using larger EBS volume sizes.

Here are links to a couple summaries of the analysis I've done on EC2, Rackspace and HP. I plan on writing a blog post regarding this analysis soon.

Disk Performance:
The value columns is a percentage relative to a baremetal baseline 15k SAS drive, where 100% signifies comparable performance. Benchmarks included in this measurement are fio (4k random read/write/rw; 1m sequential read/write/rw), fio " Intel IOMeter pattern, CompileBench, Postmark, TioBench and AIO stress:


Disk IO Consistency:
The value column is a percentage relative to the same baseline. A value less than 100 represents better IO consistency than the baseline. The value is calculated by running multiple tests on an instance, measuring the standard deviation of IOPS between tests, and comparing those standard deviations to the baseline. Testing was conducted over a period of a month on multiple instances in different AZs.


staunch 5 days ago 1 reply      
This is one of the keys reasons I recently started my new project, Uptano (shameless plug: https://uptano.com), and all servers use dedicated RAID 1 (two drives) with 10K RPM or SSD storage.

The same issue applies to network performance. I've seen very expensive EC2 instances that couldn't even push 50 Mbit/s to the net, while instances of the same type could at least do a few hundred Mbit/s. AWS' answer was always to simply buy even more expensive instances, so less people are sharing, but that's a terribly costly answer.

I'm doing bonded (802.3ad) 2x1 Gbit/s connections on all servers, because that's what I wish EC2 had.

Multiple customers, with highly varied workloads, sharing the same physical server hardware is simply a fundamentally flawed idea. IMHO, it only makes sense to use a VPS for very small personal projects, where you don't want to justify ~$140/mo in server costs.

EC2 was a really novel thing and it brought lots of great technology to the scene, but they made a few fundamentally wrong choices.

snewman 5 days ago 4 replies      
OP here. We'd like this work to be a useful resource - everyone benefits when there's more / better information about how these complex cloud systems perform in real life. So please comment with suggestions, questions, or any other feedback!
kanwisher 5 days ago 1 reply      
Great article got all the way through it. It was similar to what we saw, is that ephemeral storage on large and xlarge are almost always the way to go. One thing missing from the article was a good comparison of $/iops and $/iops/storage between the instance types.
jordanthoms 5 days ago 0 replies      
Enjoyed the article, but it feels very incomplete without discussion of the solid-state, provisioned iops, and ebs optimization options. Would be interesting to see if those get rid of the bad apples and what sort of benefit they give.
frew 5 days ago 1 reply      
Really great article and neat product!

One question: on the throughput graphs, I understand why you normalized them per graph, but were there any differences between graphs (particularly in terms of EBS vs. ephemeral) that would be sufficient to drown out the variability within the throughput graphs?

zurn 5 days ago 1 reply      
Hmm, it shows "4-EBS RAID" getting around 2.6x speedup for
4k writes. They don't say what RAID configuration they are using, but it sounds odd.

A 4k write has to be synced to all the disks unless they have a <=4k stripe size AND are using RAID-0
AND are using stripe-aligned IO ops. It's also
possible they use 4k writes to cache that end up forming large dirty blocks which the OS then syncs as larger I/Os.
But that would be measuring something else than the benchmark claims.

jnsaff2 5 days ago 1 reply      
What size were the EBS volumes? Would be interesting how important the volume size is to performance.

If you only provision 1TB (or larger if they have them available now) EBS volumes then you'd have spindles dedicated to you whereas with smaller ones there might be a lot more variations because you share.

More background: http://perfcap.blogspot.com/2011/03/understanding-and-using-...

jaequery 5 days ago 1 reply      
i wish OP would've atleast included some "conclusion/final words".
for someone in the same boat of choosing the right platform, this benchmark serves no real help in deciding which to go with. a comparison with Rackspace Cloud for one, would be very helpful.
thegyppo 5 days ago 0 replies      
Amazon's IO/IOPS performance is pale on comparison to a lot of providers (shameless plug): http://serverbear.com/benchmarks/io
       cached 23 October 2012 15:11:01 GMT