hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    15 Nov 2010 News
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Pragmatic Programmers Magazines (Free) pragprog.com
21 points by clyfe 1 hour ago   5 comments top 4
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1 point by sigzero 1 minute ago 0 replies      
I had no idea they were even doing this. Thanks.
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4 points by thibaut_barrere 34 minutes ago 1 reply      
For some reason and although I'm a regular customer of them, I never came across this magazine; so thanks for posting!
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1 point by Roboprog 5 minutes ago 0 replies      
The landing page link also shows that the editor is Michael Swaine. I believe he was one of the main contributors (editor?) of Byte magazine. Alas, I remember the monthly "Swaine's Flames" column (and others from Byte, as hinted at). I'll have to check out this e-zine. (I have several of the PP's books, usually pretty good)
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1 point by joakin 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
Cant see the issues in mobile safari,it throws a 'Bad address, cant open' error.
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The Incredible Power of the Amazon EC2 Cluster GPU Instances allthingsdistributed.com
107 points by werner 5 hours ago   17 comments top 11
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2 points by swannodette 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
javacl, http://code.google.com/p/javacl/

idiomatic Clojure wrapper from the developer of Aleph - https://github.com/ztellman/calx

I have to say, running Clojure on instances like these for a couple hours at a time to get a sense of what Clojure offers in terms of concurrency and parallelism on a 8-core machine with gobs of RAM is great fun - http://dosync.posterous.com/clojure-multi-core-amazon-cluste....

It's the kind of computing excitement I imagine Lisp Machine users had.

2
3 points by jedbrown 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Tianhe-1A with a peak performance of 4.701 PetaFLOPS

Nit: Linpack is an astoundingly easy benchmark to optimize, and they only attained 2.57 Pflop/s there. Most real science runs at much lower efficiency than Linpack (often more than an order of magnitude), primarily due to architectural reasons, so the theoretical peak number is even less meaningful than Linpack.

3
6 points by RK 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This offering blows away the few people that were already trying to compete in the GPU cloud space simply by being AWS.

Our research is just moving into GPU-based processing, and we can probably adapt our current EC2 based framework to work with this relatively easily.

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9 points by rb2k_ 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting move.
We just bought two Tesla Cards for a university project so I know how much people could save by just prototyping on a "small" card that can do ?OpenCL? and then using a Quadruple Extra Large instance at $2.10 per hour for the actual computation instead of buying a 5 digit Euro workstation
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5 points by matclayton 4 hours ago 1 reply      
If you are looking at writing gpu code checkout http://www.tidepowerd.com/ startup in this area, just released their first beta, a .net gpu library/compiler

edit: gnu->gpu, for a harsh downvote, iPad auto correct :)

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2 points by eof 52 minutes ago 0 replies      
I am not qualified to do the calculations, but I wonder if these things can profitably generate bitcoins?
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3 points by rbanffy 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I predict Amazon's rank in the top500 is about to improve.
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1 point by phoenix24 44 minutes ago 0 replies      
for completeness, here's the official announcement from amazon.

http://aws.amazon.com/about-aws/whats-new/2010/11/15/announc...

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4 points by adonix 4 hours ago 0 replies      
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2 points by Groxx 3 hours ago 0 replies      
That's a nigh-trump-card. Wow. AWS: say hello to massive purchases from researchers.
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1 point by kunley 2 hours ago 1 reply      
How many of you dear readers are really going to need such processing power?
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18' Canoe from One Sheet of Plywood kapsi.fi
7 points by J3L2404 19 minutes ago   discuss
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Visualizing how BitTorrent works. mg8.org
11 points by hiteshiitk 42 minutes ago   1 comment top
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1 point by moe 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
Beautiful!
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New EC2 Instance Type - The Cluster GPU Instance aws.typepad.com
79 points by jeffbarr 5 hours ago   37 comments top 8
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9 points by mrb 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Amazon is expanding their EC2 feature set so rapidly... The pace is mind blowing to me. Last year, Randy Bias estimated EC2 was pulling $220M revenue/yr:

http://cloudscaling.com/blog/cloud-computing/amazons-ec2-gen...

And he estimated an overly conservative 10-20% annual growth. But given the EC2 buzz this year, and personal anecdotes from my friends and colleagues using it, my gut feeling tells me the 2010 revenues will have increased 50-100% over 2009 revenues.

Is EC2 profitable to Amazon? Likely very profitable if you want my opinion. It is well accepted in the industry that the dominant cost in large scale datacenters is power and cooling --not hardware, not human resources-- and I keep running numbers in my head and the hourly prices of all instance types are well above power & cooling.

Just as an example, we know that this new GPU instance has two 95W Xeon X5570 and two 247W Tesla M2050; assuming (1) a max TDP of 50W for the motherboard and rest of the server, (2) instances are run under full load 100% of the time and always reach these max TDP numbers (unlikely, but follow me for the sake of the argument), (3) Amazon uses servers with 80PLUS power supplies (80% efficient or more), (4) a rather good datacenter with a PUE of 1.3 (power usage effectiveness, which includes overhead from power distribution and cooling; numbers in the range of 1.2-1.4 are often quoted by James Hamilton from the AWS team: http://perspectives.mvdirona.com/), and (5) electricity costs of $0.10/kWh (average in the US, but I know Amazon datacenters are in locations with cheaper electricity), then the hourly power and cooling costs would be:

  (95*2 + 50 + 247*2) / 0.8 * 1.3 / 1000 * 0.10 = $0.119/hr

Amazon charges 17x this amount for on-demand instances ($2.10/hr), and 6x this amount for reserved instances ($0.74/hr).

Given these numbers, Amazon must recoup the initial deployment costs very, very quickly... Which is why I also think EC2 must be very profitable.

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5 points by AngryParsley 4 hours ago 5 replies      
This is cool, but you know what would be even cooler? Instances with SSD storage. It's so annoying to have database queries run an order of magnitude faster on my MacBook Air than on a cloud server.

I don't know of any major provider that offers SSD instances. It really is an untapped market.

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3 points by petercooper 4 hours ago 2 replies      
It's not exactly an apples for apples comparison, but with your 8 instances rocking 2 * 515Gflops of GPU each, you get just over 8Tflops. Looking back at the TOP500 lists, this "peak" value would have got you into the top 15 supercomputers in 2003. (Looking back further, you'd be vying for a top 5 spot in mid 2002..)

The more depressing observation is that 33.5ECUs are equivalent to 8 cores @ 2.93GHz on Intel's recent architecture. This means your typical "small" EC2 instance with 1 ECU is on a par with ~700MHz of a single modern Intel core. (Highly unscientific but an interesting ballpark.)

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3 points by tomjen3 4 hours ago 4 replies      
Man thats a beast of a machine - each of the CPUs have 8b of cache, not to mention that you get a terra flop of double precision.

Now if only I had some use for this :( (inspiration welcome, I am writing about GPU programming right now).

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3 points by matclayton 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like the Tidepowerd beta came out with perfect timing, must give this a spin http://www.tidepowerd.com/ compile .net code to gpu.

P.s. Disclaimer, they are friends of mine, the beta is pretty epic!

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2 points by bartman 4 hours ago 1 reply      
These machines hold their promises, they are extremely fast, the networking between the instances in fast, as is their connection to the outside world. I'm eager to see what people do with these.

And the pricing... to quote from the other article[1] on the GPU instances that's on the front page right now:

"An 8 TeraFLOPS HPC cluster of GPU-enabled nodes will now only cost you about $17 per hour."

[1] http://www.allthingsdistributed.com/2010/11/cluster_gpu_inst...

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1 point by tszming 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
Seems this is dedicated server technology, not virtualization, except we can boot up the server using API?
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3 points by perssontm 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Amazon are really pushing the boundaries in the vm area, and also making it easily available and quite affordable as well.

It seems like they will never turn evil, but most big companies do, or perhaps they are just hiding it very well. ;)

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20 Linux System Monitoring Tools Every SysAdmin Should Know cyberciti.biz
11 points by hiteshiitk 1 hour ago   discuss
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The formula for success contrast.ie
7 points by eoghan 59 minutes ago   1 comment top
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1 point by wccrawford 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
Success doesn't -require- luck. It can help, but it's not required.

Here's the formula for success: Take care of the customer. Charge them for it. Repeat.

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Path " Introducing The Personal Network path.com
90 points by ssclafani 8 hours ago   63 comments top 30
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26 points by jamiequint 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The production quality here is really really good.

However, I agree with the excellent presentation posted here a while ago 'The Real Life Social Network' (http://www.slideshare.net/padday/the-real-life-social-networ...) that the issue isn't number of people I want to share with. The issue is that the groups of people I want to share content with are completely separate. There are a number of pictures I would be happy to share with all my friends but would not want to share with my parents, or pictures that would be relevant to share with my co-workers but not all my friends. Until that issue is solved I'll continue to not share as much as I would were I to have more flexible (and easy to use) permissions.

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24 points by ajg1977 7 hours ago 3 replies      
I wonder how much of their funding they spent on the domain name.

I kind of like the idea, and the world is becoming ripe for a simpler Facebook, but christ - I can only imagine the difficult conversations about why I didn't reciprocate when someone 'pathed' me. "Sorry, you're not in my top 50".

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5 points by fabiandesimone 3 hours ago 0 replies      
This is quite interesting (and sorry for the long post)

About three years ago I started working on a sharing engine that offers what Path seems to be offering. Three years later and two startups (built using that sharing engine) closed, I can share a few thoughts (and a couple of stories):

Sharing Engine:
We thought sharing was broken. Privacy, permissions, different media files, social networks all around were making things complicated for the average user, etc.

We had this situation at home were my sister just had her first son. She was living in Madrid and my folks back at home in Venezuela.

They wanted updates of their grandson and my sister wanted to send pictures, videos, etc. about him but there was no “definitive” way to do it.

She wanted the sharing experience to be private (or at least we thought so. In retrospect I think we assumed she wanted this) and there wasn't a simple way to do this.

We sat down and came up with this sharing engine that was going to be unique and was going to allow her (and many like her) to share her sons life (and her own) with whomever she wanted, have complete control and was going to be incredibly simple to use. After many brainstorming sessions we finally found the perfect combination:

Users were allow to create their own sharing contexts (in the first startup their were called "buckets" and in the second they were called "albums"). These contexts were by invitation only: only the people you gave access to that context could "interact" with the media inside the context.

These contexts had a set of rules (permissions) that were unchangeable once the contexts was created: the reasoning here is that if you invite someone to that context and the person joins, it's doing so based on a certain promise*
Available in every platform: Desktop, web, mobile.

This simple, yet powerful combination gave birth to what I personally think holds more value that the engine it-self: what I called the “smart news feed”. This new smart news feed, was smart because it only showed what was really interesting to me. And between you and me, it was not really smart per-se, it was just that you only received notifications from the contexts you were a part of.

This had two mayor benefits:

-My news feed only showed activity (comments, uploads, etc) about the contexts I was a part of.

-I was 100% sure that people, not part of a context would receive notifications of my activities in that specific context.

For example:

I had a context that I shared with my folks. We shared pictures, funny videos, football news, etc (my dad loves Football: Go Napoli!)

I also had a context that I shared with my wife. The contents of this contexts were quite different from the one I shared with my folks.

Here is where the newsfeed was important: My folks only got notifications of my activities in the context we shared but not on those activities I did on the context I shared with my wife. Is quite simple, yet very powerful.

Of course this engine has a lot of neat stuff, like the ability to share all types of media you can think of, highly scalable, very fast and so much more.

About our two closed Startups:

On the first one this engine was a part of a bigger app that integrated your entire online life: mail, contacts, Calendar, RSS, IM, etc. We never officially launched so I can't give you to much insight about the idea (the sharing part at least).

After that, we took the engine and built a Twitter app out of it: Twitalbums.com

The idea was simple: private sharing on Twitter. No one was doing this and we thought, heck let's be the first ones to do it. The engine is built, all we need to do is connect with Twitter, put it out there and see what happens.

We did and we got some initial traction about 800 users and a review:http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/twitalbums_private_coll... , but looking back, a couple of things worked against us:

-Our execution was... meh. I mean, we were so focused on the engineering part, that we forgot about the user experience.

-Nature of the platform: Twitter users want to broadcast and be heard. They don't want to share privately. It seems obvious now... but you know how it goes.

About Path and Instagr.am

I like this dichotomy, because I have actually thought hard about this two apps long before they existed.

First let's say this: mobile is the correct approach. I think this is were you want to be with either one.

Path: is what I wanted to do with the engine we built.

However, it turns out people are social creatures (go figure!) and being social outweighs the need for privacy.

Instagr.am: is were I evolved our sharing engine (we went from private by default, to public by default, making EXTREMELY easy to be make it private). Instagr.am is going to win on the traction game but loose on the monetization one.

Could Path win on the monetization game? I think so.
Closed groups have some benefits:
You could display HIGHLY targeted advertising to an specific group
You could identify users that get real value out of your service as a group and charge for use
Etc.

However, I think the real value of private sharing (and were the money is) is in the small and medium business and how a tool like (in this case) Path could benefit to mobilize and facilitate communications between employees. I think if the offer is right business will be willing to pay for this (and employees will have no choice but to use it. Remember, Instagr.am already won the traction game)

4
40 points by peteforde 7 hours ago 7 replies      
Would anyone care about this if it wasn't launched by highly visible Facebook alums?

Quality should be judged on merit, not who made them.

If there's magic here, somebody lift the kimono.

5
12 points by ssclafani 7 hours ago 1 reply      
It looks like they scrapped their original idea. ReadWriteWeb reported in February based on a Google cache of the site before it was locked down that Path was "a tool that facilitates the creation, sharing and correlation of lists."

"The site so far is a list of lists. You make a list, give it a name and add items to it. Then you can see who else has made a list with the same name, what's on their list and what the most popular items are across all lists with the same name. Lists are things like "best coffee in San Francisco," or "evil corporations."

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/first_peek_at_pathio_th...

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6 points by joshu 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The photo wars are heating up: Dailybooth, instagram, picplz, path, etc... exciting!

(I am an investor in both dailybooth and picplz)

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10 points by kschrader 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if they pushed this out of the door because of the traction that Instagram is picking up right now. It feels very similar, although not as refined at this point.
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1 point by bl4k 1 hour ago 0 replies      
So another photo sharing app but with some personal network theory wrapped around it in its limitations?

These guys have been working on this for a long time, and atm the app looks like a prototype. In the interim instagram and a dozen other services went out, launched, and gained traction.

You can talk about the network theory stuff but most users aren't interested in that

I hate being Mr Negative, I am just a bit underwhelmed considering the hype - these guys have already been covered a lot in the national mainstream press

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13 points by jchonphoenix 8 hours ago 2 replies      
So these guys who were big names at facebook leave facebook to found... a social network?

And the only major difference is that you can only have 50 friends...

10
4 points by ScottBurson 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks interesting. I'm not a social-network user -- I closed my Facebook account a couple of months ago, and I've never used Twitter -- but this I could see using.

That could be the bad news: the site might appeal most to those like me who value our privacy -- and I'm not sure how many of us are left :)

But I'm not an iPhone user either. Currently using a Pre but contemplating a switch to Android.

11
2 points by erikstarck 1 hour ago 0 replies      
57 comments and not one mentions Dunbar numbers. Surprising, I must say.
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4 points by joshuamerrill 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I absolutely love both the concept and execution of this. I hope it offers some of the intimacy that Facebook eschews.

My only gripe? 50 is too many "friends." I doubt many of us interact meaningfully with 50 people in a given week, let alone in a given day.

I also wonder how much more users would be willing to share if 50 became 10.

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3 points by zalew 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Practically all of us carry a camera phone,

not all of us an Apple one. should I feel sorry I'm not your target or you should be sorry because you restrict a social network to one platform?

14
3 points by fraserharris 7 hours ago 0 replies      
For anyone trying to take down Facebook, this presentation (link below) on real life social networks by Paul Adams (Senior User Experience Research, Google) is a must consume. A social network that forces you to bin friends based on groups you create, and forces all interactions in terms of the groups would be a huge step forward.

http://www.slideshare.net/padday/the-real-life-social-networ...

15
1 point by dotBen 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Overall I like the concept, but my main gripe is that if you don't have an iPhone the web-based service is useless.

I can't add any friends even if I know their url - I can only hope they add me. I'd have thought letting people add friends by visiting their url on the website would be a reasonable feature of even the most basic MVP iteration.

As it stands the web site is useless to non-iPhone users and so I don't see why they bothered to launch that aspect.

16
2 points by j_baker 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is possibly the worst name for an iPhone app one could choose. It's like on page three of the app store when I search for "path".
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1 point by prawn 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I wondered recently on HN if there was an idea around a social network that limited the number of friends/contacts you made:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1855890

One respondent suggested that this would limit growth. If a cap of 50 doesn't quite limit growth, I wonder if it's different enough to Facebook that it might have any success?

18
1 point by robgough 2 hours ago 0 replies      
For whatever reason, this doesn't seem to be available in the UK app store.
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1 point by chrisbroadfoot 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Unfortunate that they restricted their initial launch to iPhone users only.

I want to try it, but all I see is a blank page. I suspect I'll have forgotten entirely about Path by the time they launch apps for other mobile platforms (or a web interface!)

20
1 point by soamv 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The feedback feature of conspicuously showing who's seen a photo is interesting. It prevents people from lurking -- you're always visible to the people who's content you're seeing. This seems, IMO, more interesting than the 50 friends limit.

I wonder if it will make people think twice about opening a photo, knowing that that action will be logged publicly and conspicuously. I also wonder if it'll come with an on-off switch analogous to facebook and linkedin's profile views feedback.

21
1 point by binaryfinery 7 hours ago 0 replies      
That's a lot of text, I thought. Yet I ended up reading all of it. Interesting. Looks pretty. Can I be arsed? Will I not care about the feelings of friend 51? Good timing after that great TEDxSD talk.
22
1 point by svnv 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Their layout instantly made me think of OhLife:
http://ohlife.com
23
2 points by daniel_iversen 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This app not available in the Australian iTunes store... I wonder why? Is it only available in the US? Is this short term? (i imagine so)
24
1 point by ojilles 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a bit unhandy to not use the build in contact finder. Theirs doesn't filter well.

Also, when I need to fill out my phone number, just let me pick "me" from my contact list, easier.

25
1 point by jordanbrown 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Instagram you win. The use case for path is if you don't have any self control for who you decide comes into your life on other networks. (Facebook, twitter, instagram, etc)

Props to a strong team though.

26
1 point by Jabbles 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Their login page is https by default! Well, that's one thing better than facebook...
27
1 point by zackattack 7 hours ago 0 replies      
dave morin's company. he was previously head of developer platform at facebook. GREAT guy!
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1 point by irq 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Kinda weird they don't have a direct link to their iOS app from their web site, isn't it?
29
0 points by michaelfeathers 6 hours ago 0 replies      
So 50 is the new 140?
30
3 points by schammy 7 hours ago 2 replies      
While I agree with some of you that this probably wouldn't get nearly as much attention if there was an unknown team/investors behind it, I still find all of the negativity surrounding startups these days on HN and other sites like TechCrunch to be annoying and totally counter-productive. If you think something is stupid or lame, fine - whatever. But do you really need to tell us all about it? Why do you think any of us care? My guess is that most of these people are probably failed entrepreneurs and the only thing that makes them feel better is wishing the same failure upon others trying to make it.

As for myself, I am not particularly interested in this service and have no plans to use it, but that doesn't mean it's lame or that there's no market for it or that it can't be a success.

9
Jaz drives, spiral notebooks, and SCSI: how we lose scientific data arstechnica.com
6 points by abraham 1 hour ago   discuss
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Hacked Kinect is now a 3D video capture tool adafruit.com
171 points by epiphany47 11 hours ago   35 comments top 11
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1 point by jakevoytko 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
If money is no object, commodity stereo equipment exists with better range than the Kinect. From Wikipedia:

   The Kinect sensor has a practical ranging limit of 1.2"3.5 metres 
(3.9"11 ft) distance when used with the Xbox software.

The Kinect was limited by cost, size, and the need to work in poor lighting conditions. But by spacing your higher-quality cameras out (increasing the baseline), accurate depth at 10 meters is a reasonable goal.

One such device: http://www.ptgrey.com/products/bumblebee2/index.asp

Accuracy chart: http://www.ptgrey.com/support/kb/data/stereoaccuracy.xls [XLS warning]

2
25 points by aresant 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Don't miss:

a) His other video of the system where he shows that measurements of 3d objects exactly match real counterparts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1ieKe_ts0k

b) His homepage of other experiments: http://idav.ucdavis.edu/~okreylos/index.html

3
16 points by melvinram 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm not in this space or planning on investing time into this but I just wanted to say Kudos to Microsoft for creating something that developers are excited about again... even if they didn't indent to do that. I'd start hacking on this if I wasn't invested in a different direction.
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28 points by ElbertF 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Here it is on the creator's website instead of a lame blog post: http://idav.ucdavis.edu/~okreylos/ResDev/Kinect/
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13 points by tlack 10 hours ago 3 replies      
I hope he links up two or three of these to form fuller 3d models of a room.
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4 points by Devilboy 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I expect to see a lot of homebrew robots using Kinect for vision in the near future!
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4 points by quux 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, this reminds me of the holographic home movies in minority report. We have the camera, now all we need is the projector.
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3 points by barredo 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Idea: Please, someone somehow need to attach via software a Kinnect and a 3D printer.
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2 points by Seth_Kriticos 5 hours ago 2 replies      
For the frequency of the news about Kinect hacking I get the feeling that the homebrew software for Kinect will soon boost with much more professional features than the official software, esp. since it's pushed with games.

As Microsoft sells these things highly subsidized to claim profit with on the games I see lot's of conflict potential.

10
1 point by MarkNederhoed 4 hours ago 0 replies      
It's rough but still pretty damn cool.
Software that does this from footage can easily be in the thousands of dollars.
Image the results if you pair a kinect with this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEOmzjImsVc
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1 point by borismus 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Take 3 cameras and you get full 3D. Then project on a 3DTV, and you have a much more immersive video conference!
11
Cause of today's Github outage github.com
177 points by jlangenauer 12 hours ago   105 comments top 22
1
11 points by donw 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is why it's important to isolate production from other environments. Three rules have kept me from ever borking a production database:

1. Production DB credentials are only stored on the production appservers, and copied in at deploy time.

2. The production DB can only be accessed from the IPs of the production webfarm.

3. Staging, Testing, Development, and Everything Else live on separate networks and machines than production.

2
31 points by aaronbrethorst 11 hours ago 3 replies      
Ouch. I think we've all done this once or twice, in some fashion or another. I'm just happy they're so open about it. Learning experience == good thing.

From Chris' Twitter stream (http://twitter.com/#!/defunkt):

Seriously, I blame whoever wrote our crappy continuous integration software.

Oh that's me

3
19 points by tlb 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Forthright and classy. Compare to register.com, which had a big DNS outage Friday (affecting anybots.com) and never admitted to a problem.
4
7 points by latch 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree with what's been said so far.
1 - Shit happens
2 - We've all done stupid stuff
3 - Testing environment shouldn't have access to production

What hasn't been said is how refreshing it is to see an honest and quick explanation. I know this type of approach is getting more and more common (see the foursquare outage), but in the grand scale of things, its still quite rare.

5
7 points by peterwwillis 8 hours ago 3 replies      
If someone ever produces a good book of best practices for sysadm/syseng, please provide examples like these of why it's important to follow these best practices.

Yes, we've all made silly mistakes. But if you're in that design meeting and somebody asks, should we do ABC in case of XYZ, try not to think about how complicated or time consuming it might be to do ABC. Think about the worst case. If not doing it could at some point bring down the whole business, perhaps you should ponder it some more.

Actually, screw a book... Does anyone else want to start some wiki pages their experiences with screw-ups, the causes and the solutions? Does this exist in a comprehensive way and I just haven't found it?

6
5 points by random42 7 hours ago 3 replies      
I am a software developer, so I know "shit happens", but having the same configuration for database as testing environment, (same superuser name and password), which is not isolated from test environment, is pretty criminal even for a first time mistakeIMHO, especially for a product like github whom business, small and big trust with there business critical piece ("repository").

If I were running some critical code, I would have seriously reconsider github, or at-least ask for a detailed explanation on their engineering practices and fail-safe mechanisms.

7
45 points by burgerbrain 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Good thing git is distributed. I've been working on my code all day and never even noticed!
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6 points by jlangenauer 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I think it's a measure of the goodwill in the community for Github (and perhaps, the fact that a lot of us have done something similar in the past) that they won't cop much flak at all for this.
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4 points by jorangreef 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I moved my repos off GitHub to my EC2 server a month or two back since they're private and I was only using GitHub for keeping a copy of my code offsite. It's faster for simple push/pull and considering the sunk cost of my EC2 server, also free. I was trying to browse some repos on GitHub yesterday during the downtime and was thankful that my own were still available.
10
21 points by seanmcq 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Lesson, don't let your CI machine talk to your production servers (firewalls are good at this).
11
4 points by sankara 8 hours ago 0 replies      
May be it's foresight or may be it's just paranoid. We've always used a entirely different username/password in prod and the password for prod never sits in the config files. Kind of saved us a couple of times. Sometimes it doesn't require a highly sophisticated setup to prevent a catastrophe.
12
1 point by jrockway 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I try to make my apps work against SQLite and the production database, so I can run all my tests against an in-memory SQLite database. This makes the tests run Really Fast, and it prevents a configuration error from causing my production data to go away.

(It's not possible to do this in every case, especially if you make heavy use of stored procedures and triggers, but I don't. If I need client-independent behavior or integrity checks on top of the database, I just use a small RPC server. This makes testing and scaling easier, since there are just simple components that speak over the network. Much easier than predicting everything that could possibly happen to the database.)

13
1 point by fizx 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Mysql 5.6+ has delayed replication. Until then, there's always tools like:

http://www.maatkit.org/doc/mk-slave-delay.html

14
18 points by woan 11 hours ago 1 reply      
rookie mistake, better security if they isolate their networks too...
15
3 points by dacort 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Second time I've heard of this happening fairly recently. Another incident, same cause. http://www.bigdoor.com/blog/bigdoor-api-service-has-been-res...
16
4 points by bytesong 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Minutes before the outage, my account would seem non-existent and all my repositories gone. They really scared the hell out of me.

This will be a good reminder for me to always keep a local copy.

17
4 points by geophile 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone know what database system they use?
18
1 point by mkramlich 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Kudos to them for having the guts to say publicly that they accidentally destroyed their production database.

It's been a great service, and I think as long as this kind of thing is rare, and none of my code repositories get corrupted or destroyed, I plan to stick with them.

19
1 point by jacques_chester 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Well done on coming clean. However this is why the dinosaur pens have such arduous red tape -- to try and catch serious errors before they hit production. A mate of mine works in that world and he regularly stops code going into production that would hose mission-critical government data.

I prefer my agility to remain on the dev-and-test side of the fence.

20
1 point by ammmir 9 hours ago 1 reply      
simply checking if you're talking to a production instance could avert something like this. having some metadata in the db about whether the data stored there is acting as production and at what version and deployment level, so tests can have a sanity check before destructive activities.
21
1 point by 1337p337 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It kind of makes me wish NILFS2 would become production-ready faster. Give MySQL its own partition, and just roll back to a previous checkpoint if you wipe everything. Not a substitute for backups, but a pretty speedy way to recover for a minor snafu like this.
22
-4 points by chunkbot 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought systems written in Erlang never go down! ;-)
12
Ask HN: Berlin - costs of living, python jobs?
23 points by zalew 1 hour ago   13 comments top 7
1
2 points by maxklein 37 minutes ago 0 replies      
There are a lot of jobs in tech, but they mostly seem to be small companies trying to pay little. So to get by at 15€ a hour, you'll probably find a lot of offers.

Accommodation is cheap, I pay 400€ for 50sqm, a friend of mine pays 550 for 70sqm with 3 rooms. That's in a central part of town. In general, between 320 - 600 you can find a pretty reasonable place for a person to live alone.

Döner costs €2.50, a chinese meal off a stall costs €3.00, a restaurant meal in some small restaurant 5€ or 6€, in some normal restaurant maybe 9€ to 12€. Beer costs €3 in most clubs and bars, cocktails €4.50 to €8.00.

Transport costs €70 a month for the train? Not so sure about this. Parking is easy on the outskirts, but the very center of town you usually need to pay in a parkhouse.

Lots of english speaking people, and it's very popular for euro-immigrants (france, england, spain, etc), so a very western europe scene, and very easy to get by on english only.

Berlin generally has a bad work climate (I've heard people say), so if I were you, I'd apply for 10-20 jobs from Warsaw, then come over, stay a week in a ferienwohnung, do all the interviews and if you find one you like, move here. Moving without a job could put you under undue pressure. Warsaw is just 4 hours by train, is it not?

I believe there are a lot of young companies in Berlin, so I don't think the Airbus style jobs are really available here.

2
1 point by pdelgallego 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
I lived in Germany for a couple of years, most of the time in Hamburg, but I used to go Berlin quite often.

The cost of living in Berlin is very variable. I love Kreuzberg, you have good and cheap options to dinner for ~10 euros (e.g around Görlitzer Bahnhof you have some good vietnamese and indian resturants). The rent should be around 250 - 350 E a room. In east berlin you can find cheaper pelaces to live in.

I dont know about job post, but just contact the Berlin Python User Group. I am sure they can give you some good advices about it. The mailing list dont look very acttive, but I am sure is still the best place to start (http://starship.python.net/mailman/listinfo/python-berlin)

3
1 point by BvS 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
Ramen-style about 600€/month (living with a roommate, prepare your own meals -> maybe it could be even lower if don't go out at all, don't buy new clothes, ride a bike instead of public transportation... )

Have your own space, go out sometimes, take cab once in a while... about 1.200€+/month (obviously open end).

Add at least another 130€/month for health insurance.

Unfortunately I don't know about any python gigs but if you are familiar with RoR, let me know... As a freelancer (RoR) you should get something between 300€ - 800€ / day (deepending on your experience).

4
1 point by Uchikoma 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
I can only write from my perspective, 110qm are around 950 EUR including heating, but this is a more expensive part of town (not the most expensive though). Fairly cheap compared to other large cities in Germany.

There are many tech jobs, most companies are hiring.

As a developer you might make 35-60k EUR a year, depending on the company and your skills.

Transport is currently 72 EUR a month.

Meals are around 5 EUR for lunch, 10 EUR or above in the evening. Pizza is below 10 EUR. Beer is around 3 EUR.

5
5 points by ig1 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Berlin is fairly cheap, cheaper than any other major city in western europe at least. Accommodation prices can vary widely, they can go from as little as 200 euros/months for a studio on the outskirts. I was paying 800 euros/month for a large one-bed flat in fairly central east berlin (P-Berg).

Lots of startups, probably some doing Python, not sure who off the top of my head. Most recruitment in Berlin seems to be done via social networks rather than via job boards, so your best bet might be to get involved with the startup community and get some leads from there.

6
3 points by fbailey 45 minutes ago 0 replies      
1. cost depends on your location - central is no longer cheap
2. there are a lot of startups but I'm not sure which one is developing in python

try this map to find startups http://www.businesslocationcenter.de/de/B/iii/1/seite11.jsp

there seems to be a django Berlin group http://groups.google.com/group/django-berlin

7
3 points by shanked 45 minutes ago 5 replies      
Somewhat related...

As opposed to Berlin specifically, how should an American software engineer get a job in a different country? I'd like to experience different cultures and I'd like to move to another country (after finding a job) but I'm not sure how I should go about doing it.

Initially, I think western Europe is the most ideal place since I do not know any other languages, some place where many people spoke English would be ideal.

If anyone has any tips for how an American (with no foreign contacts, or fluency in other languages) can land a job in a western European country, I'd be very interested in hearing them.

13
Ugly Old Perl laufeyjarson.com
5 points by fogus 1 hour ago   1 comment top
1
1 point by zaphar 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm one of those people who achieved enlightenment with haskell and Lisp and yet still enjoys firing up perl for the occasional project or script.

Perl is still very much alive and not at all stuck in a bad place. It may be easy to get that impression in your local circumstance but in the larger sense Perl is thriving. It's even gasp still grabbing young developers. I wouldn't worry too much about it.

14
How we built a 50,000 strong email list in 5 days michaelhallsmoore.com
20 points by shogunmike 4 hours ago   7 comments top 3
1
10 points by patio11 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I think two key elements from their implementation, which I would not suggest copying for your implementation, are

1) Don't tell people you want their email address because you want to mail them.

and

2) Ask them for their friend's email addresses, too, and see #1.

If you try pulling either of these stunts, most reputable mailing providers are going to hit you with the banhammer. You'll have deserved it, too. If, on the other hand, you a) tell people you want their address to mail them and then b) do a proper double opt-in, your response rates will drop.

2
11 points by vaksel 2 hours ago 0 replies      
seems like getting 10 million people to come to your site was the key ingredient
3
2 points by kljensen 1 hour ago 1 reply      
This is destined to result in poor deliverability for them in perpetuity due to a step change in volume combined with spam complaints. I would not do this. (I run a profitable ad-suppoted daily email list.)
15
Is OpenTable Worth it? incanto.biz
115 points by iisbum 13 hours ago   75 comments top 20
1
17 points by gphil 11 hours ago 1 reply      
One thing I've noticed about OpenTable is that usually when I can't make a reservation through their service (e.g. when it says there are no available times left) I can still call the restaurant and be accommodated. After doing this a few times now, it's made me wonder about the value-added for the restaurant-goer as well as for the restaurant. It seems like in these situations, OpenTable is just getting in the way of the restaurant-customer relationship to the detriment of both.
2
9 points by d2viant 12 hours ago 6 replies      
This is an interesting opportunity to profit from. This company has massive expectations baked into it's stock price (NASDAQ: OPEN), trading at over a hundred times earnings. It's being massively shorted by the hedge funds. Combine the fact that there's relatively no barrier to entry with the rumors that their customer base isn't very satisfied makes for a huge opportunity to profit in the short/medium term.
3
2 points by a4agarwal 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Many restaurant websites actually put an OpenTable link on their reservations page, directing traffic there.

That makes me think the restaurant prefers reservations to come in that way. They don't just see it as a secondary reservation system to bring in more customers, but the primary channel.

The added efficiency of OpenTable cannot be underestimated. Especially when trying to book something for a large group or at the last minute, being able to see availability across many restaurants in a single glance is critical. I'm not going to bother calling.

4
4 points by rubyrescue 13 hours ago 4 replies      
My sense is the point of sale aspect of OpenTable is what makes them so entrenched... it's not easy to replace the hardware, retrain staff, etc, and the article doesn't touch on this.

Is there a startup competing in this space directly against OpenTable? Is Yelp the biggest potential contender (though i can't see them getting into the POS business)? Or Google?I could see google offering android-powered POS devices...

5
3 points by dotBen 12 hours ago 2 replies      
The crux of the argument made by the post is that a restaurant makes $10 profit on a $200 4-person cover yet OpenTable takes $10.40 for that booking (I want to call BS on those figures but lets ride with it)

In an earlier part of the piece, the author states that "[his restaurant owner friend] believes that if he stops offering it, his customers will revolt and many would stop coming to his restaurant. So he keeps paying, but carries a grudge and wishes for something better."

What's the problem if the customers stop coming if by servicing their business via OpenTable you either only break-even or even make a slight loss?

If that is the case, it's not worth servicing the customer in the first place.

GroupOn does this too - you loose money by servicing the business obtained via GroupOn, but the idea is that future business from each customer will be at market-price thus off-setting the initial customer acquisition cost (CAC) as future CAC is $0.

The difference here is that OpenTable customers continue to book via OpenTable, thus each booking creates further CAC that doesn't go down.

What I find sad is that for all the long winded post on this subject, the author gives no concrete quantitive specifics of the OpenTable tariff structure so everyone can get a clear understanding of the issue.

6
4 points by aaronbrethorst 12 hours ago 3 replies      

    "[R]estaurants find that they themselves no longer own the customer relationship."

This is the dumbest thing I've read today. I am sitting in your restaurant! I am voting with my dollars by choosing to show up at your establishment! If I like what you have to offer, odds are I'll be happy to give up some personal information.

If you want to know my email address to inform me of special events, or to give me a gift certificate for my birthday, then just ask me! It's not that hard.

Additionally, if I need a reservation to eat at your establishment, and you're not on Urbanspoon's Rez system or on OpenTable, you may as well not even exist. I'm not going to call you and a dozen other places looking for a last minute table. It's simply not worth my time.

7
11 points by netaustin 12 hours ago 2 replies      
You know, Yelp should cut off its relationship with Opentable and just jump into this business itself and charge either no fee or a nominal fee to restaurants (basic vs. pro).

This would solve a big problem for Yelp; if Yelp could save restaurants from the crushing cost of reservations, restaurants would be more inclined to forgive Yelp for allowing us "bored, jobless layabouts" to trash them in a public forum (http://blogs.westword.com/cafesociety/2010/11/people_hate_us...).

8
2 points by va_coder 2 hours ago 0 replies      
From this consumer's point of view he's wrong in saying everyone loses.

I use Opentable a lot and I like not waiting for a table.

9
1 point by jasonjei 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I think there definitely is an opportunity to remove OpenTable from the equation. Look at restaurants like Momofuku Ko's annoying reservation system, where their in-house .NET reservation system books out within 3 seconds after 10am ET for 12 seats (24 covers a night), and seat inventories are only released 6 days in advance. Momofuku almost never starts a restaurant project without it now (e.g their buttermilk American free range fried chicken and Korean fried chicken).

It created lot of hype by becoming the anti-OpenTable. Read about the complaints of this reservation system on NYT, Departures, etc. Major food editors still have been unable to review the restaurant simply because their inventory allows for no special favors.

Of course, anyone with Mechanize and scripting language of choice can do high-frequency reservation bookings.

However, OpenTable does have a huge following, and its followers like to redeem OT points for cash. Which is why restaurants are hesitant to remove it for customers that will only eat at OT restaurants.

10
4 points by digitailor 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The bottom line is squeezing an industry with 5% profit margins cannot possibly last. This is the basic point I took from the author's extremely well written and obviously experience-infused post.

5% margins??? Seriously???

My sympathies to anyone in this shithole of an industry. That's impossible. No wonder all the restauranteurs/restaurant-employees I know are unhappy or insane. Or both.

11
2 points by ben1040 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Not long ago I placed a reservation through OpenTable, and a couple minutes after we had been seated, I got an email from OpenTable telling me the reservation had been canceled from the restaurant's end.

Now I wonder if this was an honest mistake, or a strategic cancelation to try to stiff OpenTable on the per-reservation fees. Obviously they couldn't do that with every diner who walked in the door, but maybe they could sneak a cancelation in here and there to save a few bucks.

According to this, OpenTable charges (not counting equipment and fixed monthly costs) $1 per diner.

http://online.barrons.com/article/SB500014240529702048786045...

12
1 point by waterlesscloud 12 hours ago 1 reply      
From OpenTable's own data, their revenue averages $600 a month from a given restaurant. Not a negligible cost, but doesn't seem outrageous.

Probably room for someone to undercut that, but it doesn't seem that the cost of restaurants controlling their own electronic reservations systems would be tremendously lower.

But maybe if restaurants did it on a cooperative basis. Hmm.

13
4 points by nikcub 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think a good idea for the restaurants would be to add 'OpenTable' as a line item on the bill. This would get the message to customers, but may only work if a significant portion of restaurants in an area follow suit.
14
2 points by tkanet 11 hours ago 0 replies      
think that Groupon and clones will go through the same strugles. I just fail to understand how "discount only" cn be a business. it just mean someone is paying for the service and giving up their profits and customer relations.
15
0 points by jorangreef 7 hours ago 0 replies      
My startup http://sexbyfood.com provides a web-based reservation book for restaurateurs. It works on any HTML 5 browser or iPad, keeps audit trails of changes to reservations, prints a proper guest-list, has real-time activity feeds, a flexible allocation algorithm, and provides a plugin that restaurants can add to their website.
16
1 point by scottrafer 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I've looked at how OPEN's vulnerable a couple of times. What's not covered yet in these comments are the host's notes on each diner. When I make a reso, if the restaurant has made a note about me (tips great, gets pissy about being near the kitchen/lav, hard of hearing, whatever), it comes up when I check in. Those notes are not shared between restaurants.

There seems to be no global diner profile in the system and there's certainly no social aspect to figuring out where your friends have reservations or like to eat. That's where I think OPEN can be undermined. I'm not an Urbanspoon user, but I don't think they've cracked that nut either.

17
1 point by mdon 11 hours ago 0 replies      
"That's ultimately the most perplexing thing about OpenTable: unlike so many other Web services, this one has actually driven up operating costs, not reduced them."

How much do restaurants pay to accept phone reservations? It seems the cost comes from running two reservation systems - hiring a person to accept traditional phone calls, and paying OpenTable for the online reservation system.

18
1 point by nikcub 9 hours ago 0 replies      
"it was too expensive to keep, but letting it go could be harmful."

which means that they have probably priced their product perfectly

19
1 point by philtoronto 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I want to call shenanigans on the profit margin in the restaurant business being 5%... OK, shenanigans.
20
-1 point by ajx 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The question is not is opentable worth it, the question is this question worth it being posted on this site, or is it just completely irrelevent drivel? I'd say the latter is true.
16
Between the Bars: Snail-mail blogging for prison inmates mako.cc
54 points by mbrubeck 9 hours ago   9 comments top 5
1
4 points by Derferman 6 hours ago 0 replies      
After reading the article, I looked into similar services available online. While I couldn't find any blogging sites, both WriteAPrisoner[1] and PrisonPenPals[2], while dated, offer to connect visitors with incarcerated pen pals.

Even more interesting, however, is that the State of Arizona banned these types of interactions in 2000[3], only to have to the law struck down as unconstitutional four years later. Specifically, the law banned any "attempts to correspond with a communication service provider or remote computing service" such as the sites listed above.

[1]: http://www.writeaprisoner.com
[2]: http://www.prisonpenpals.com
[3]: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/law/1082592378.php

2
16 points by pyre 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I found this one interesting: http://betweenthebars.org/posts/28/untitled
3
2 points by zackattack 1 hour ago 1 reply      
does anyone else have recurring nightmares about going to prison?
4
1 point by spudlyo 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a good idea, but transcription for me is a must. Reading the handwritten (sometimes typed) scans of the prisoners writing is just too irritating for me, a person who increasingly relies on Readability to read just about anything on the web.

The last time I looked at freeware OCR software, the accuracy left much to be desired -- but I think it'd be a start, at least on the typed correspondence.

5
2 points by bugsy 6 hours ago 0 replies      
What a great idea. Read through some of the blogs and found them compelling.
17
Minecraft CPU now available reddit.com
22 points by mambodog 5 hours ago   6 comments top 3
1
6 points by mambodog 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I thought I should provide a bit of explanation, as the linked thread really doesn't say much. This is a complete functioning CPU, based on a homebrew CPU design, built within the game Minecraft. It's very cool because you can walk around inside a working CPU and inspect the state of every circuit, register, logic gate, etc.

Video demonstration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sNge0Ywz-M

The CPU design being implemented here comes from the book The Elements of Computer Systems[1], which defines a whole hardware & software platform.

From the linked thread, this is an isometric render of the CPU/game world, done by reddit member 'yonis': http://i.imgur.com/6ithi.png

[1] http://books.google.com/books?id=THie6tt-2z8C&printsec=f...

2
2 points by RiderOfGiraffes 1 hour ago 0 replies      
For other submissions and discussions, here's a search you might find useful/helpful.

http://searchyc.com/submissions/cpu+minecraft?sort=by_date

I have no experience of Minecraft at all, so I have no real idea what's going on in these videos. I've watched a bit, but can't figure out what's going on.

And that's interesting to me for a slightly strange reason.

I give lots of talks about math and computing, and sometimes i can see in my audience a complete disconnect with what I'm talking about. They have no idea why it's cool that there's a square root of -1 modulo 101, but not mod 103, even when I've been talking about the motivation and the reasons.

They have the knowledge, but not the experience. The experience can make all the difference between "getting it" and "not getting it".

It's not enough to read books, blogs and articles. It's not enough to listen to talks and join in conversations. Seomtimes you ahve to do it for yourself, to get your hands dirty, to build an intuition based on direct personal experience, and not just conveyed second- or even third-hand knowledge.

"Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better." -- Samuel Beckett

----

(Of course, there's always: No. Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try. -- Yoda)

3
1 point by mitko 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
Simulation that can simulate itself!
18
Inside memory management: Implementations of dynamic allocation ibm.com
21 points by hiteshiitk 6 hours ago   3 comments top
1
4 points by Locke1689 1 hour ago 2 replies      
If anyone's interested, I can just post the kernel memory allocator lab for the Northwestern OS class. Everyone probably should have written at least a user-space memory allocator once (it's probably the kind of question I'd ask for interviewing).
19
Nice cheat sheet collection devcheatsheet.com
88 points by bemmu 14 hours ago   14 comments top 7
1
4 points by tim_church 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I am the founder of DevCheatSheet. Pleasantly surprised to see my site on Hacker News again. Thanks bemmu!

I'm happy to answer any questions you may have about the site. Also, let me know if you have any feedback.

To answer some of the common questions/feedback:

* So far I have been focused on adding content, but now the site needs some sort of filtering to identify the relative value of each cheat sheet and easily find what you are looking for. I am still exploring different options for this including: page-rank type popularity scores, HN-style up/down voting, or traditional user star ratings.

* Every cheat sheet is manually reviewed. I don't add every single page that calls itself a cheat sheet. There is definitely a wide range of quality, but this is somewhat inevitable given this is user-generated content aggregated from around the web. This is not necessarily a bad thing: for example, an obscure topic might only have one single low-quality cheat sheet, but this is still useful and better than no results.

2
5 points by corin_ 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Would be a much more useful site if it had some sort of editorial standard, rather than "let's find as many pages that people call cheat sheets and shove them together in a huge directory".
3
1 point by simonsarris 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Annoyingly, they sort their sheets by first-one-added = last-on-list.

The best cheat sheet for javascript, and the #1 hit on google for "javascript cheat sheet", is the very last one on the last page of their list:

http://www.addedbytes.com/cheat-sheets/javascript-cheat-shee...

In fact, none of the first page of javascript "cheat sheets" are cheat sheets in the conventional sense of the word.

4
7 points by bwooceli 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like a good ol' fashioned HN/Reddit up/down system would be a welcomed addition there...
5
2 points by sayemm 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks - here's another one that I use often that's similar: http://cheat-sheets.org

Always super-helpful whenever you decide to pick up something new

6
1 point by hsuresh 8 hours ago 0 replies      
And there is also http://cheat.errtheblog.com/. Good thing about this one is, it is accessible from your command line.
7
1 point by kevinburke 13 hours ago 0 replies      
This is good but agree with corin_ that there's no way to tell which ones are good references and which aren't.
20
According to the IRS you are a private contractor employed by Google etymonline.com
160 points by mikecane 21 hours ago   107 comments top 26
1
89 points by DanielBMarkham 19 hours ago replies      
I'm always amazed, when the-tax-system-sucks posts come up on HN, how quickly most commenters are to trash the author and/or lecture the complainer on how wrong they are.

There is a impedance mismatch at work in our system of governance that's not going away any time soon. The government makes laws by sticking people into little boxes and making rules for those boxes. This system of boxes and rules -- the tax code -- is becoming more and more removed from reality by the day.

You make 10K a year selling things at yard sale, nobody is the wiser. You make 10K selling pot, nobody is the wiser. You make 10K by putting little bits on a server somewhere, you're a business. Why? Because Google can report you, that's why.

You buy socks from Amazon from a house in one state, you have to pay taxes. Buy the same socks from another state, pay no taxes. Order overseas, no taxes no matter which state you are in.

In fact all of these are businesses -- or none of them are. It's like arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. We have this word "business" which has some kind of vague meaning, so we attach a bunch of rules to the abstraction.

We have a 1900s view of how things work that we are desperately trying to take a hammer and pound into a 21st century reality.

In point of fact, the economy works because people are constantly adapting to new circumstances, trying to do the best they can. As the rules get more and more complex, more and more people will end up being quite surprised at the situation they end up in.

Personally I think the system is broken beyond repair -- too many politicians are architecture astronauts -- but however it turns out, I have immense sympathy for the author of this article.

2
56 points by larsberg 20 hours ago 5 replies      
It wasn't entirely clear from this article, but it looks like he was paying normal income tax on the money coming in, but failed to pay self-employment taxes. I have talked to more than a few iPhone developers whom this happened to as well -- forgetting about that extra 15.3% can really hurt.

But, did he remember to track and deduct all of his expenses? The flipside to that income is that the server costs are all deducted from it. If he really was "just barely covering costs" with his Google ads income, it should be 15.3% of nearly zero dollars. He may even be owed a refund if he was paying full income tax on the ad revenue without deducting server costs.

I am not an accountant, but I've dealt with SE tax and had a few "conversations" with the IRS in the past. For all the worries about them being biased, I've found them to be fair, as long as you have precise documentation.

3
44 points by camz 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Hey guys. Sorry for the slow reply. Thanks Cullen King for the shoutout. I'm traveling to meet a client so I wasn't able to check HN as often as I usually do.

I'll email him shortly later today to offer my help directly. But I'll post a few thoughts just so that anyone else in a similar position will be prepared.

Everyone pretty much hit the mark with the self-employment tax issue. SE Tax is a 15.3% tax that you have to pay on income earned from a business.

It sounds like the etymonline guy pretty much got hosed from paying income tax on the income but failure to pay the SE Tax.

Google issues 1099s to anyone that earns over 400 or 600 dollars so the IRS knows if you're making money.

But, from the sound of his explanation. His server and upkeep costs should've generated enough expenses to wipe out his income. I'd have to speak with him directly and more in depth but that is the impression he left in his plead.

Also, there are ways to avoid paying SE tax entirely. If you incorporate into a S Corp and pay yourself a reasonable income, the rest would be excluded from SE Tax. An Scorp is a passthrough entity which means that all income is not taxed twice like a regular Corp. You pay tax on the income once on your 1040. But because the scorp is still a corporation, then you wouldn't pay SE tax on that income because the distribution is a dividend. You don't pay SE taxes on dividends.

Also, it seems like the taxpayer isn't clear about his options once the audit has commenced. Luckily, I'm sure that the taxpayer could still plead his case if he has some facts that could help his situation.

But these are my initial thoughts on the situation. I'm going to email him now and see if he's interested in discussing the issue further.

I'll update everyone on this issue later on if he is willing to allow me to speak on the matter as a learning experience for everyone.

4
13 points by noonespecial 19 hours ago 2 replies      
He's probably not nearly as SOL as he thinks. As others are already pointing out, he probably just needs to come at it as a "self employed individual". There is tax for this, but also many deductions. A few choice minutes with a tax professional would probably clear up most of his problems.

Unfortunately, those minutes would have been a bunch more helpful before he ended up with penalties for not filing, but again, a good tax professional can probably help him negotiate a more reasonable settlement.

5
5 points by kevinpet 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I've looked through the IRS site and there are explicit statements that if you have profit from a hobby, that should be reported as "other income". I think the author could have made a very reasonable mistake.

It is pretty clear that he should have been deducting his expenses from the site and only reporting the profit as self employment income. If he was actually making $10k in profit, then he should have been aware that it was more "business" than "hobby" and used those rules.

For those not familiar, the IRS has a category for a hobby because some people may have a hobby that looks a lot like a business that loses money. You can't deduct losses against your outside income, as you can in a serious business that just happens to have not made money that year.

Not a lawyer, not an accountant. Just someone who can read.

6
10 points by kylecordes 19 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a simple reality: if you are collecting money by doing something, from a tax point of view it is almost certainly a business; even if you casually think of it as not-a-business.

But this person, if they put the brakes on the conjecture and so on, and instead go talk to an accountant, can probably get it all taken care. It will take work; it will probably be necessary to refile the last N years of taxes with the appropriate form on which to list both the business revenues, and business expenses (of which it sounds like there were plenty). He may even get some money back.

Of course, doing that work is much less fun than venting.

7
6 points by jackfoxy 17 hours ago 3 replies      
The income tax system, and the principle of taxing income, is wrong in so many ways, but I have given up arguing the point. The inertia of the system and the inertia of individuals is too great to overcome. I've identified these major contributing factors:

1) Vested interests that like the tax system the way it is.

2) Envy and fear of envy. People who think the income tax takes from the rich, and people who happily pay their fair share because they have guilt feelings about their level of income, and think others should too.

3) The last reason is the overwhelming majority think of the income tax system as THE natural and logical system for raising revenue, having no clue about how it came into being and evolved.

8
9 points by cullenking 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Where is that camz guy that was offering free tax advice for startups a couple weeks back? He may be the person to quickly consult, at least as far as what the next step is: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1837299
9
4 points by grandalf 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Most of this kind of things probably slips under the IRS's radar. Similarly, when's the last time anyone here declared the value of gifts they received as income?

The problem with this sort of thing (and the new 1099 rules) are that they criminalize a large swath of the population. Sure, the violations are minor, but the fact is if you break the rules you are guilty of a crime.

The problem with this is that if we're all already guilty then it gives enforcement officials too much power over us.

10
4 points by rbarooah 16 hours ago 2 replies      
What level of tax professional does someone in the OP's situation need? Will a trip to the local H&R block sort it, or does he need to look for someone more specialized and if so, how would he identify them?
11
4 points by PedroCandeias 15 hours ago 0 replies      
I fully sympathize with Douglas. But I do think he's dramatizing his two most realistic options a bit too much:

1. If he runs Adsense, he's not going to get casino or penis ads. Last I checked, Adsense was pretty strict about that.

2. Asking users for donations is hardly begging. He's providing (one hell of) a service in return, so it's only fair.

I've seen this before. People reviling the notion of associating money with the service they provide, and eventually running into money trouble sooner or later.

Even if Douglas chooses to go down the nonprofit road, he'll still have a much harder time than if he just declared etymonline.com a business and ran it as he saw fit.

12
5 points by jcborro 19 hours ago 0 replies      
He should only have to pay self employment taxes on self employment income, which at $1500 & 15% indicates he was bringing in 10k / year in google ads, which seems reasonable with those traffic levels. That is hardly breaking even unless he was running it on a Cray.

The sorry fact is while you may think your tax rate is 15% or 25%, there is always that extra 15%, even for the employed. In employee's case, they pay half (FICA) and the employer pays half, which of course reduces real earning potential by that amount. It's a scam to talk about taxes rates and only quote the federal income tax rate.

13
2 points by pinksoda 19 hours ago 0 replies      
You can get a free consultation from just about any tax professional. They would have noticed your mistake within a few minutes of talking to you.

The IRS usually takes 3 years to find a mistake like yours. It sounds like you've been filing wrong since 2005. The penalties suck but you got to keep that extra 15% for a really long time.

Most importantly, you have a really long time(6-12 months) from your initial notice from the IRS, before they start trying to collect. You couldn't pay right now even if you had the money, that was my experience anyways. I received a different letter from them, months later, and was finally able to pay.

Everyone knows you don't mess with the IRS. I don't get how you did this wrong for 6 years, never researched it, asked someone, or talked to an accountant. My gut tells me you probably knew what you were doing.

14
1 point by frankus 6 hours ago 0 replies      
The author mentions thinking about doing an iPhone app, but being put off by the $9500 price.

I know the revenue share pitch is a big old red flag for any developer worth their salt (most people who want to do a revenue share have some sort of scammy half-baked idea with nothing else to offer for which they want half of the revenue).

But this guy is clearly bringing something important to the table (a curated database of etymological data), and the app wouldn't be that complicated (depending on whether the database ships with the app or is lazy-loaded from the server).

15
2 points by arron61 17 hours ago 1 reply      
You should have sought for a professional tax preparer's advice. Any professional would have seen your mistake immediately.

You have your regular w2 form's amount from work. Any additional money you tacked on as additional income, the tax professional would have questioned where this extra money is coming from.

He or she would have identified that you got extra money as a business (you do not need a business license) but you must file this in a different form and pay the appropriate taxes (including social security, medical, and the other business-related taxes). The tax professional would have asked you for possible deductions and you could have deducted all your business income from it.

There's nothing unfair about this. IRS is doing the right thing. It's really your fault for getting a crappy tax professional or for doing your taxes yourself. And to add, tax professionals aren't even that expensive.

16
2 points by dmfdmf 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Perhaps this is a startup idea for the ambitious types on HN. There are literally 1000's of very successful blogs making some marginal amount of money from ads on their site. Most of these bloggers are not in it for the money and would like a publisher to take care of the business side of things, including the taxes. Perhaps this already exists but I am not aware of it.
17
2 points by DanI-S 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I moved to the US last year and work a regular full-time job. I haven't had to file taxes before, since I only started work in May. I'm about to launch my first 'weekend project' to potentially involve some advertising and Amazon-affiliate revenue. I'm not really clear on what I should be doing and what is necessary with regards to tax, registering as a business, etc.

Can anybody recommend any good resources for information to help me avoid situations like this chap has got himself into?

18
1 point by mikecane 19 hours ago 0 replies      
My question is this: What about Amazon and other affiliate links? And why do I see the spectre of IRS declaring free services as some kind of "in-kind" taxable thing, liable to a "use tax" or somesuch? I think this can all snowball pretty quickly given how hard up budgets are on all levels of government.
19
1 point by tibbon 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm curious though- could have all of this been fixed by filing and saying, "look, our expenses 100% meet our income... no tax burden!"?
20
1 point by tocomment 12 hours ago 0 replies      
What is he talking about? If he paid taxes on the incomewhy do they think he owes them?
21
2 points by duffbeer703 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Give Caesar his due.

If you aren't trying to make money, you may be able to report it as a hobby, deduct your expenses and avoid self-employment tax.

22
1 point by daimyoyo 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Thus far, I've only made $0.24 with my adsense account so if the IRS wants their nickel, I'm glad to give it to em. If my site should take off, I'll worry about it then. But thanks for making me aware of the problem.
23
1 point by chopsueyar 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Some 1040Xs?
24
-2 points by codexon 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Yes, the US tax system is too complex... but I find it really hard to believe that he didn't make a large profit with 50,000 page views per day with a relatively static PHP site (hosting cost probably $10/month).
25
-4 points by terra_t 19 hours ago 1 reply      
The guy's a dumbass. If you're making money off your site, it's a business, just that simple.

It does cost a few 100$ every year, but if you get income from anything other than W-2 jobs, you'd better have an accountant.

  I've definitely had little accidents in my filings and minor trouble with the IRS but my experience is that,  with the help of an accountant and some common sense,  these problems can be worked out easily

26
-3 points by jrockway 18 hours ago 0 replies      
What a whiney baby. You have to pay taxes. You don't have to shut down your site and sell it to a "spammer" because you forgot to pay. You pay the taxes and consider it a lesson learned.

There is a reason why Google sent you a 1099 form and not just an account statement, after all. Now you know what it is. No need to whine about how it's some sort of conspiracy -- you sell your time to someone, you're a contractor, you made income, and you pay income taxes. It's very simple.

The rant about the "financial crisis" was also off topic. Selling insurance really cheaply to people that you should be selling it to for a lot of money is not the IRS's problem. When the banks can't loan money or give back deposits, though, that is a problem, and that's why they got bailed out. Most of the banks paid back their money years ago. TARP is over. You got your money back. Now you need to do your part and pay what you owe the government.

(Whenever I write an article and it ends up in the tone of voice that the poster's ends up in, I realize that I fucked up and I'm not going to get any sympathy. I hope the author also learns that lesson. You make mistakes -- fix them, don't whine about them. If you want a new tax system, run for office. Your blog is not going to change anything except the public's perception of you.)

21
I hate Xlib and so should you remlab.net
29 points by signa11 8 hours ago   1 comment top
1
1 point by snotrockets 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Replacing Xlib with XCB is like replacing the hanging noose with lethal injection. Yes, it's probably more humane[1], but the result is still death.

[1] regardless that the death penalty in anything but. But for some reason, the X Windows System always makes me think of capital punishment.

22
HN Stories Behind Paywalls
3 points by cont4gious 3 minutes ago   discuss
23
I stood there, an American citizen, sexually assaulted by a government official ourlittlechatterboxes.com
117 points by mfukar 7 hours ago   86 comments top 17
1
41 points by noonespecial 5 hours ago replies      
I've been watching these stories trickle by on HN for a few days now wondering if I should say what I'm about to say. I'm going to put up an opinion that I'm quite certain is going to be unpopular. At length, I think the potential karma burn is worth speaking out. If you choose to downvote me, please drop in a reasonable reply as well:

We ought not to call these incidents sexual assault. It sounds too much like hyperbole.

I freely acknowledge that they bear many (most?) of the characteristics of sexual assault, but there are many circumstances in life where we must suffer the same indignities which are not considered assault. A visit to the doctor for example. The situation and the intent of the "perpetrator" seem inexorably tied up in it.(1)

Consider how we talk about air travel already: "I got to the airport and was corralled and herded through metal gates. I was unconstitutionally interrogated by some TSA goon and then sexually assaulted at security, prodded into the cattle car and then held hostage for over an hour on the tarmac. When the flight finally took off, they fleeced us for every penny during the flight for snacks and even pillows! Its highway robbery I tell you."

One of the things in the above list is a disgusting violation of our basics rights, the rest are minor inconveniences by comparison. Could an outside observer tell which one?

I'm afraid that the seriousness will be lost in the other airport security theatrics, that it makes the victims sound like the crazy ones. I'm afraid that the terrorists not only won, but handed us our asses. Mostly I'm afraid of what might happen to my wife.

You see, when she was very young, she was sexually assaulted.(2) I'm genuinely afraid(3) of this befalling her, of what wound it might reopen. I don't want to hear Leno joke about how the TSA fondled his balls, or how maybe they should take us to dinner and a movie first. I just want this shit to stop. I'd rather take my chances on the bomb.

This is the part of a good criticism where the proposed alternative solution is supposed to go. I haven't got one. But the line of people, some who are genuinely hurt (like the author) and the many who say it with a half-smirk all calling it "sexual assault" isn't really working for me. I don't know what we should call whats going on but wrong.

(1) And to be perfectly fair, the willing consent of the "victim".

(2) The fact that I'm inclined to put "the real kind" right here is part of the problem I'm having with this whole thing. I don't want to be insensitive to the victims, but I just can't quite make it cohere.

(3) Not the "I'm afraid for the direction our country is taking" afraid, the kind where my chest hurts and I can't breathe right afraid.

Edit: I'm going to go ahead and drop this in while I've still got the edit. It seems I set up a bit of a lightning rod with the "doctor" analogy. I was not trying to argue that a TSA patdown == exam at the doctor. I was grasping for the most benign example I could think of where similar actions could take place, in order to establish the idea of a specturm (based on the intents of the actors, and the consent of the acted upon, together with circumstances) with sexual assault at one end and acceptable behavior on the other. I'm sorry if this was unclear and detracted from the argument.

2
12 points by stretchwithme 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution explicitly protects the people from unreasonable searches.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

One might say that you submit to this as part of the deal to get on the plane. But if that were true, it would be between you and the airline, not the government. That means it really should be the airlines that decide how intrusive searches should be. And you would be free to choose an airline whose policies you agree with. And the airline would be free to reject you as a passenger.

The government has hijacked the relationship between you and the people you've hired to get you from point A to point B. Just because of previous lapses in their intelligence efforts enabled some people to do something terrible doesn't mean you lose your rights.

3
9 points by siculars 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I've argued that the correct way to do airline safety is the way ElAl does it. The most salient argument against that is that the ElAl system will not scale. So let me get this straight, privacy stripping full body scanners and an army of ill-trained TSA agents is a more scalable solution?

The current situation is untenable. I am incredibly concerned by the latest round of rights and liberty infringing actions by the government in the name of "security". If it is not "security" it is "children". What remains to be seen is whether or not the current solution is scaleable in the face of tremendous public outcry.

4
10 points by jonafato 6 hours ago 1 reply      
The thing that sets this post apart from others of the same category is the fact that the author was not given a choice in the search. This is exactly what a lot of discussion around here has been about (though admittedly the opposite of the expected outcome). The fact that it was a pat down, not a pat down or a scan is new. In most situations, the TSA could claim the the pat down is a choice, but here that is obviously not possible.

As for the assault claims, I am not surprised. I can't imagine TSA agents always remember to explain exactly what is going to happen. Pat downs are invasive and uncomfortable, but unexpected invasion must be much worse.

5
3 points by credo 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The TSA policy concerns me.

The only silver lining I see is that they may be responsive to the public outcry and figure out a better way to screen people. Perhaps, we should get the Israelis to train our TSA folks

http://blog.tsa.gov/2010/08/enhanced-pat-downs.html offers one reason to be optimistic. A number of critical comments talk about "molesting", "groping", "assault" etc. and these comments haven't been censored. The fact that the govt is permitting an open discussion may well mean that they'll take all the feedback into consideration.

6
8 points by SkyMarshal 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm flying cross country in December and fully intend to opt out of the naked scanner, even if it means the 'enhanced patdown'.

I liken it to Ali choosing jail over Vietnam, and other instances when people protested government coercion by intentionally choosing the worse alternative to what the govt wanted them to do.

Hopefully the national outrage gets the policy changed before then, but I'm preparing to sack up and do it nonetheless.

7
2 points by martinkallstrom 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I associate this with the previous discussion about response to bullying in school. The argument then was, should we teach our children to withstand physical abuse and report it to authorities after the fact? Or should we teach them to respond immediately as it happens and loudly, physically if need be, protest?

In this case, the TSA agent obviously broke protocol. I can't see it as mandatory for the victom of the breach to stick to her part of the protocol by keeping still and silently enduring the abuse.

However, it is clear that her lack of immediate response was not a concious decision. I'm very familiar with the paralysis of mind and body that occurred. As a martial arts instructor, I see this happen a lot especially in the beginner's classes. With an opponent just holding your arm or making any kind of physical contact in a fashion you're not accustomed to, your mind can very easily go blank and you fail to move at all. A lot of self defense training is directed to just overcoming the paralysis induced by fear and/or shock.

It is clear that the author post-poned all reactions until after the fact. Perhaps from a legal standpoint this was the best course of action. But from a human standpoint, it is my view that the trauma incurred would have been far less damaging if she had reacted immediately to what was happening.

To get to my point: for anyone that want to explore your own reactions to similar situations, it is both very affordable and illuminating to try out a few self defense or martial arts classes. Read up on what is available in your area and just try it out.

With just a few classes, you can learn to react to abusive physical contact with a sharp, verbal NO!! instead of freezing into silent paralysis during the abuse and bearing the resulting trauma. You even react to verbal abuse or just plain criticism from other people in a different way if you practice martial arts. It is beneficial to everyday situations a lot less dramatic than in the post above.

8
35 points by yakisoft 5 hours ago 4 replies      
Every day America looks a less attractive place to visit or do business with.
9
4 points by dennisgorelik 1 hour ago 0 replies      
TSA is pushing forward sexual revolution -- there is no place for sexual shyness in the new world.

If you think about it: TSA pisses off both Liberals and Conservatives now. I wonder how long would it last.

10
3 points by nosse 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I think this matter has been conversated enough in HN.

I don't believe this subject is gratifying majority's intellectual curiosity.

It might be provoking lots of feelings, but this is not Feelings News nor Moral News but Hacker News.

I'm not saying anyone has been posting badly. I'm just saying that I've seen these "TSA sexual assault" twice now, and I don't think any new ideas will come along third time.

11
8 points by lil_cain 3 hours ago 3 replies      
I like the implication that it'd be ok if she wasn't an American citizen.
12
1 point by gord 3 hours ago 0 replies      
In absence of a better term for this, 'Sexual Assault' does convey the emotional experience of being abused in this way.

Yes, it is clearly not about sexuality, but it is a situation where there is a massive imbalance of power. Who is there to verify that your human rights are being upheld?

It is not a situation in which you can complain, even if there was abuse - because you'll miss your flight and look like a terrorist. Then there is the social pressure to conform in front of a large audience of people who you will delay if you do complain. Not to mention the number of uniformed and armed guards present.

13
2 points by sliverstorm 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I am starting to wonder if perhaps there is something wrong with me, for I am not outraged as everyone else seems to be. So long as there's no groping etc going on, I'm inclined to just shrug and say to the agent, "well, you gotta do what you gotta do".

I am sorry HN, but I find myself lacking the desire to board this bandwagon.

14
1 point by watchandwait 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
America spends more than twice as much on the TSA's unconstitutional security theater than it spends on all FBI counter-terrorism activities.
15
3 points by ajays 6 hours ago 0 replies      
According to the TSA, http://bit.ly/b133H4 ,
"there is no fondling, squeezing, groping, or any sort of sexual assault taking place at airports. You have a professional workforce carrying out procedures they were trained to perform to keep aviation security safe."

Does this mean my government lying to me?? Well I'll be damned!

16
0 points by lukestevens 6 hours ago 3 replies      
For all the understandable outrage, this seems like a genie that will be very hard to put back in the bottle.

What politician is going to risk canning a security protocol when there's a not-unreasonable chance of a civilian airplane being blown up in the next few years? Who wants to be the politician that has to explain, after several hundred people died, why they canned any device or protocol which may have helped stopped the attack, however remote the likelihood?

I'm not saying it's rational or appropriate, I'm saying it's politically untenable, regardless of the horror stories like the one posted.

Perhaps airlines should offer 'enhanced' or 'standard' security flights, and people can choose whether they fly on a plane where everyone has pat downs or scans, or whether they don't. At least that way there would be a choice...

17
-3 points by notahacker 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Whilst it appears there was a pretty serious of protocol, the author's hysteria verges on trivialising real sexual assault.
24
NaNoWriMo Graph Web Application with Dancer dyndns.org
10 points by asukrieh 4 hours ago   discuss
25
Microsoft ask for Internet Explorer to be removed from Spoon Browser Sandbox spoon.net
18 points by necolas 2 hours ago   12 comments top 5
1
2 points by niyazpk 26 minutes ago 1 reply      
Snaky comments aside, I would guess that this has something to do with Windows/Internet-Explorer licenses. Its totally not cool, but let us give them the benefit of doubt until it turns out that they have malicious intentions.

[As an aside I wonder how many people actually use Spoon for doing cross-browser testing of their websites. IIRC Spoon Browsers cannot access websites in the local Intranet.]

2
5 points by ulf 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is so incredibly shortsighted it hurts. Why on earth would you take away resources that help people work around your product's suckiness? Maybe they should just prohibit optimizing for their browser in general, then maybe people will finally stop using it alltogether once enough pages look totally destroyed because nobody can check against it...
3
3 points by axod 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
IE usage recently dropped below Chrome usage on Mibbit (Including our widget which is deployed on various non-techy websites).

  Firefox 55.1%
Chrome 20.7%
IE 15.2%
Other 4.4%
Opera 3.0%
Safari 1.6%

The time when you have to support IE, for many, is coming to an end.

4
3 points by necolas 1 hour ago 1 reply      
We can only hope that they are working on providing their own cloud-based service now that developers are going to have to find ways to easily and reliably test in IE6, IE7, IE8, and IE9.
5
2 points by kyriakos 1 hour ago 2 replies      
why on earth?
26
Getting the "ship it" idea into developers stubborn minds: some links licorize.com
14 points by ppolsinelli 3 hours ago   9 comments top 2
1
2 points by wccrawford 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The 'shipping' problem isn't caused by programmers. It's caused by architects. Or lack thereof.

Management asks for a product, sometimes even hires someone to design that product. The programmers are then tasked to code that product, including all the features asked for and code them without bugs or flaws. Then they are given an artificial deadline.

When the deadline approaches, they are then given different instructions... They have to either code quickly (sloppily) and ignore the flaws/bugs, or leave out features because it's no longer possible to meet the deadline and do their job properly.

They should -not- be making that decision. Management should be telling them what features to code, letting them get them right, and then giving them more features to code. Create the product incrementally, instead of waiting until the end to force a deadline.

Yes, that sounds an awful lot like Agile, but there's no reason it can't be done in Waterfall. It's a matter of proper planning and responsibility.

If your developers are saying they aren't ready to ship, it's because you've asked too much of them. (Assuming they aren't incompetent, since you should fire them if they are.)

No developer worth his salt wants to ship a product with bugs. To ask them to do so is to ask them to violate their personal ethics. At least, for known problems. Unknown problems will always exist due to the nature of the beast.

2
2 points by scrrr 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Why not just list everything in one html document? This is a bit annoying to navigate.
27
EFF Begins Accepting Anonymous Donations via Bitcoin bitcoinblogger.com
35 points by mfukar 6 hours ago   17 comments top 4
1
3 points by alanh 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Sounds like a marketing win-win for the EFF and Bitcoin, both.
2
2 points by rick_2047 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Umm.... was just thinking, why can't someone set up a EC2 cluster (or a plain old home computer cluster) and get it cracking on this bitcoin generating program? I mean they are fast and if this thing ever gains some traction then it will be a huge win.

Edit: I would also like to see the list of people using this for actual selling and not donations.

3
3 points by pointillistic 5 hours ago 1 reply      
i think they should move to the gold standard.
28
It's science if it bites back scottaaronson.com
33 points by gnosis 9 hours ago   10 comments top 3
1
11 points by michael_dorfman 6 hours ago 1 reply      
That 17 is prime strikes us as absolutely certain, yet there's nothing in the physical world we can point to as the source of that certainty. (Seventeen blocks that can't be arranged into a rectangle? Give me a break.) In that respect, math seems more like subjective experience than science: you might be wrong about the sky being blue, but you can't be wrong about your seeing it as blue.

Here's where a little philosophy would help; we could save a lot of time by invoking the sensible/intelligible distinction. Mathematical entities are intelligible, not sensible, and their mapping to the external world is epiphenomenal. Seventeen is prime, not because of any empirical evidence, but because it has to be prime under the definition of primality. Math, like chess, is a game with rules.

2
6 points by fragmede 6 hours ago 5 replies      
> Seventeen blocks that can't be arranged into a rectangle? Give me a break.

Give me a break.

Is multiplication anything but shorthand for counting the number of blocks in an M by N rectangle?

So then, how is that not an adequate whatever for 17 being prime?
It may not be be the traditional math you learned in school alongside long division and multiplication, but it's math all the same.

3
2 points by Groxx 3 hours ago 0 replies      
They seem surprised that mathematicians, who deal very strictly in almost pure logic, ply their skills in the philosophical realms. I highly doubt this has anything to do with math's "mystical tendencies" and more to do with similar skill sets.

Also, apparently they haven't taken even moderately high level math courses, which give much more concrete definitions of divisibility. 17 is prime because it matches the definition of "prime". It also doesn't match the definition of "even". What of it? Blue is blue because it's blue, not because it can't be arranged into a rectangle.

29
How to Say Nothing in 500 Words apostate.com
66 points by mcantor 14 hours ago   26 comments top 12
1
12 points by chime 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Giving concrete examples is something Feynman talked about a lot too. It is easy to talk abstractly about anything but in the end, something real and relatable must exist. When I deal with enterprise software, I prod the sales guys to tell me what the feature really means and does. Sure, it will streamline the sales order approval process but what does that entail? Outlook add ons? Browser popups? Notifications over SMS? Excel reports? Or 12 different screens that users have to click refresh on all day? My users will interact with something in the end. Show me the screenshots of all that already.

When I write business software, I dig in for details with my users in the same way. I understand you want me to fix the document printing process. Unfortunately that is too vague to write code for. Let's find out exactly what it is that needs fixing. Usually after some digging in, I change a button or two and it is now fixed!

It is hard work to be exact, precise, and specific. Being general is too easy.

2
10 points by cduan 12 hours ago 1 reply      
I used to write papers in a fractal form. A short one would go like:

In my opinion, A is true. A is true for at least three reasons: B, C, and D.

B is true for at least three reasons. First, E. Second, F. Third, G. Therefore, B is true.

C is true for at least three reasons...

D is true for at least three reasons...

In conclusion, A is true.

If I wanted a longer paper, there would be subparagraphs under B, C, and D, in the same form. For my thesis, each of those subparagraphs got sub-subparagraphs. You can guess what I would do if I ever wrote a book.

3
6 points by spudlyo 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Slang adjectives like cool ("That's real cool") tend to explode all over the language. They are applied to everything, lose their original force, and quickly die.

I've often marveled at cool's longevity -- unlike the adjective sick (popular briefly in my social circle in 2005) which seems to have died out almost entirely.

4
3 points by David 8 hours ago 0 replies      
The headings speak for themselves:

"Avoid the obvious content"

"Take the less usual side"

"Slip out of abstraction"

"Get rid of obvious padding"

"Call a fool a fool"

"Beware of pat expressions"

"Colorful words"

"Colored words"

"Colorless words"

Though [edit] the titles are a good summary of the article [/edit] (as per "slip out of abstraction") the examples given are humorous, thorough, and help in really getting the point being made.

It's interesting to consider how the author's (sometimes verbose) sentences could be shortened. If writing for pure conciseness, what would you cut out? Which parts are completely necessary? Are the rephrasings necessary to convey the different aspects of the current point? Is the example given important enough to stay?

"Pat expressions are hard, often impossible, to avoid, because they come too easily to be noticed and seem too necessary to be dispensed with."

=> "Pat expressions cannot always be avoided."

"A writer's work is a constant struggle to get the right word in the right place, to find that particular word that will convey his meaning exactly, that will persuade the reader or soothe him or startle or amuse him."

=> "Each situation calls for a certain word with a certain connotation; the writer toils to find it."

Again, there's no problem -- it's excellent writing, it just struck me that word golf could be as interesting as code golf. What is the shortest possible phrasing to express this exact idea? (I suppose we're doing it all the time, except in English classes where word count is the goal.)

5
8 points by damoncali 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Reminds me of the most wondrous, but little known, feature in word perfect for windows 3.1 - the "make my paper one page longer" button. That button saved me hours in college. I've often wondered how it came to be - talk about listening to your customers!
6
3 points by rfrey 11 hours ago 4 replies      
Perhaps only semi-related, but can anybody tell me how scientific journal writing fell into almost universal use of the passive voice? It drives me nuts every time I read that some more assumptions will be validated or that something else will be proven.

Which is to say, every single time I read an academic article.

7
4 points by mcantor 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I bet this could be a great answer to the poster in the "Shadow Scholar" thread asking how he could possibly write 10 pages per hour.
8
4 points by Mithrandir 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I can't believe how many books I've read written by so-called "accomplished writers" that use the exact same language as exampled in the article.
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3 points by rbanffy 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I suppose Percival Lowell's "nobody knows" telegram to William Randolph Hearst doesn't count. And he did it with twice as many words.
10
2 points by iwr 8 hours ago 0 replies      
"All subjects, except sex, are dull until somebody makes them interesting."

Certainly, sex can be dull. Unfortunately, going into the specific anecdotes concerning the topic would make HN less work-safe and also damage the modesty thereof.

11
2 points by kevinburke 8 hours ago 1 reply      
At least he assigned a word deadline and not a page deadline. I wish schools would let you get feedback on an essay from the teacher and then hand it in again. Revision is not emphasized.
12
0 points by rick_2047 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The same way seo writers do it. I can write 500 words on any keyword.
       cached 15 November 2010 13:59:01 GMT