hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    20 Dec 2010 News
home   ask   best   8 years ago   
Why Facebook never happened in the UK. The case of FitFinder. oonwoye.com
57 points by OoTheNigerian 4 hours ago   26 comments top 8
18 points by petercooper 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Slightly OTT headline. Something on a near FB scale actually did happen in the UK one Internet generation ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friends_Reunited#History

Friends Reunited was launched in 1999 and was the UK's "Facebook before Facebook" (or, more realistically, the UK's Classmates.com) but oriented around people you'd attended school with rather than all friends in general (though you could look up anyone by name). By the start of 2002, it had 2.5m users. By the end of 2005, 15m. It then sold for £120m ($208m at the time) before Bebo and MySpace (and much later, FB) ate its lunch.

All that aside, the site he mentions that lets you note "crushes" sounds a lot more pleasant than one where you rate "fitties." And one university enacting an idiotic policy does not a bad startup scene make..

7 points by gst 3 hours ago 3 replies      
From the article linked within the linked article: "The site attracted five million hits in the month since its launch, but despite its success UCL asked Martell to shut it down. After he refused, the university fined him £300 for “bringing the college into disrepute”. If he doesn't pay up, he risks not being allowed to graduate."

So do I get this correct?

1) The service is not hosted at or by the university

2) The service does not seem to violate any of the university's trademarks


3) The university fines the student for £300

4) The university forces the student to shutdown the service

Maybe the culture here at my university is somewhat different - but for me this is a rather large WTF. Based on which facts should a university have the options to fine a student or to shutdown such a service?

5 points by notahacker 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Sounds a lot like Facemash, which certainly got Zuckerberg into trouble.

Aaron Greenspan might have a few things to say about Harvard's lack of tolerance towards student startups too...

5 points by iuguy 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The title here is a bit misleading. It should be "Why FitFinder never happened at UCL". It's a bit much to tar all of the UK with the same brush as one University.
5 points by nuggien 3 hours ago 2 replies      
is it possible likealittle got inspiration from fitfinder?
2 points by djhworld 2 hours ago 3 replies      
the site probably never took off because 'fit finder' is inherently misogynistic and a little bit creepy?

I know Zuckerburg started facebook as a way to find girls but at least the name is more generic

2 points by RoyceFullerton 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I created a similar site before likealittle was launched and have been trying to promote it in Europe with a little success. It is: http://www.icusawme.com

It cuts me deep to see likealittle get so much more traction, I am starting to think it has a lot to do with cultural differences and differences on campuses. The US has a great campus based lifestyle which is not present in most other countries. The amount of different languages is a challenge as well.

4 points by stbtrax 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought everyone in the UK used Friend Face?
How an Engineer Does Pizza varasanos.com
90 points by eavc 7 hours ago   35 comments top 14
1 point by erikpukinskis 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
Awesome. Apparently my dough has been too dry my whole life. I love this point he makes:

Specialty flour is not a huge factor in this process. It's like when you see people arguing about the relative merits of 2 different tensions pulls on $1,000 tennis rackets, meanwhile they go out and miss the ball by 8 feet. Forget it. Maybe if you are making pies at the 99.8th percentile and you want to move to the 99.9th, then you should be worrying about this. Otherwise, let it go. Work on the BIG 3 factors: high heat, a good sourdough starter and technique (mixing and fermenting). This is where you will move from the 50th percentile to the 99th.

I'm constantly baffled by people who have $1500 bicycles but are... well, slow. I think in some cases, having expensive tools actually will make you WORSE. Are you going to train harder if you slip through 5 seconds ahead of your peer, or 5 seconds behind?

Don't buy cheap crap. Know how your tools work. But buying super-pro tools when you're intermediate is stupid.

1 point by phugoid 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
Check out "The Art of Pizza Making: Trade Secrets and Recipes" by Dominick DeAngelis. He's holds a PhD in engineering, and has done a lot of research to compile a simple pizza book. His recipes are a bit sweet for my taste, but his book helped me diagnose the main problems in my pizza-making approach.
5 points by ccollins 6 hours ago 4 replies      
I've been following Jeff's pizza advice for about 1.5 years. It's great! A few notes:

0) crank your oven up as much as possible, and let it preheat for at least 20 minutes.

1) dough is super important - a slow rise in the fridge > 1 1/2 hour rise > 1 hour rise > store-bought dough.

2) Tomatoes in a can are always better than fresh tomatoes because they have already been cooked (trust me).

3) use the best mozzarella you can find, preferably mozzarella di bufala (made from water buffalo milk)

4) for the dough, use King Arthur Flour and bottled water - it makes a noticeable difference.

4 points by enko 49 minutes ago 2 replies      
This article reminds me to ask: why do Americans call pizza "pies"? Numerous times, the article refers to pizzas as if they are a variant of pies, and I have heard it elsewhere, too.

To me, an Australian, a pizza and a pie are completely different things. The idea of calling a pizza a pie is ludicrous, and vice versa. Anyone care to explain?

18 points by heyrhett 6 hours ago 1 reply      
My pizza engineer taught me that the volume of a pizza with radius 'z' and height 'a' is, in fact, pizza.
4 points by ajays 4 hours ago 1 reply      
What, no mention of Pizza Hacker? http://www.thepizzahacker.com/


I've tried Pizza Hacker's pizzas a couple of times. They're quite good; but just the fact that there you are, on a sidewalk, getting freshly-made pizza out of a Weber-grill-oven, makes it all worthwhile.

Plus he has "hacker" in his name, which must count for something. ;-)

1 point by vikram 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Get a oven thermometer every oven is different, and you want temp of atleast 220 C, wood ovens have temps of 500 C, so the higher the better. I would even put the grill on.
And put the tray into the oven while it preheats.

For the dough...
Instead of room temp water use cold water (even ice cold water). For the second rise, leave it in the fridge overnight, the idea is to let it rise slowly for a long period of time.

After 2 minutes of pizza being in the oven. Spray with water, I just use the garden water spray. You want mist rather than a pool of water. This will reduce the temp a little, but will give the crust, without having to burn the pizza.

2 points by snowmaker 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I have an all new respect for pizza. I knew making a great pizza was hard but the amount of careful experimentation and analysis that went into this is incredible.

It is a bit intimidating though. I think I will leave this for the pros.

3 points by Groxx 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I suppose this would be a valid time to link to this awesome site: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/

My dad's an electrical engineer; my mom busted a gut when I showed this to her :) Still one of my favorite recipe sites. And I love those recipe grids.

5 points by meowzero 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Finally I see Jeff's site on Hacker news. His pizzas are great, I've been to several of his pizza parties in Atlanta before he opened his restaurant.

Too bad he's only known for his pizza (and his rubix cube). He is also a very good hacker and developed a pretty snazzy C++ application framework.

2 points by burgerbrain 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Unfortunately the cooking temperatures are well above what most standard kitchens can achieve, at a sizzling 850F.

Speaking from personal experience however, it is possible to make a good pizza with a standard oven with some experimentation.

1 point by abraham 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Now I'm hungry.
1 point by iphoneedbot 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I gotta admit, I love this write up on his Pizza! Anyone know of a good write up on Ramen?
-2 points by bedroomfireflys 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice burnt crust, I don't see why anyone would find these images appealing. Cancer anyone?
Conceding Defeat - The Internet is Stronger Than I Am sebastianmarshall.com
128 points by lionhearted 9 hours ago   42 comments top 11
18 points by pavs 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I have been reading a decent amount lately. This year I have read 28 books so far (should end up with 30 books) and the last 2 years I have read 50 books in total. http://iampavs.com/books/

I have found that reading books itself is not so difficult, nor is it difficult to find time to read books. The difficult part is to make reading books a _habit_. The same way going to HN and Reddit (or whatever your frequently visited site) is a habit. You unconsciously find yourself refreshing that page even though you very well know nothing new happened within the last 30 seconds.

Everyone needs to start at some place and I think instead of forcing yourself in to the habit of reading books, one should ease themselves slowly in to forming a reading habit. Someone mentioned Pomodoro technique and I would recommend that. But I would suggest against taking a mechanical approach in to reading and instead start with small chunk (15 minutes of reading time a day) and slowly built yourself up for longer reading time.

If you asked me 2 years ago if I can go through 1 hour of uninterrupted reading I would probably laugh at you. But I now find myself reading 2-3 hours of continuous reading a day without much problem (not everyday though). Getting a kindle helped to get some distraction-less reading experience.

Do it. Reading books outside your field is the best thing you can do for yourself.

7 points by nathanmarz 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I find the Pomodoro technique to be great for combating internet procrastination. All you do is take a forced break after some fixed time of working. I do 45 minutes of work followed by 20 minutes of break. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique

Since you know you're going to take a break soon, you can't justify slacking off during work time. It's a mental hack that's simple and effective.

Posts about the technique pop up on Hacker News from time to time.

4 points by DanielBMarkham 8 hours ago 2 replies      
You gotta love the irony of a guy who laments spending so much time on the internet -- by spending time on the internet blogging about it.

(And I'm allowed to pick at lion, because I do the same thing)

3 points by kranner 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been forced into a similar situation for a week now. I moved to a new city for a new job and have no internet connection at home yet (and no TV or radio either).

It was painful for the first few days but now I am so much more relaxed and well-rested I am giving serious consideration to continuing this way for a bit. I also seem to be able to concentrate a great deal better than before: tested on a new (to me) Coetzee novel and a math textbook.

6 points by JabavuAdams 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Let me know how it's going in 3 months.

I find I get excited about new organizational / management techniques, but very few survive the 3 month (never mind 3 week) mark.

3 points by robryan 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a tough one, if you did keep to this scheme I think you would miss a lot of stuff that helps you with the productive goals you are trying to achieve. It's not really something you can plan out either, a lot of the really valuable stuff and new ideas that help me both with the programming and business side of my startup I just stumble upon.

Limiting yourself would get more work done but there is always the danger on putting your head down and plowing on in one direction only later to realize much better ideas or methods that you didn't know about in a more closed loop.

Of course there is a load of middle ground and I guess that's what most of us here try and work towards.

10 points by gwern 9 hours ago 1 reply      
How much stronger you'll find in a few days or weeks when you break even this scheme.
8 points by da5e 8 hours ago 0 replies      
When I'm hanging out on the web I keep a wire book rack with an open book on it right beside my computer. It acts like a third monitor and I find myself reading it as much as I do the other screens.
2 points by misterbwong 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I've done this in the past and it definitely works....in the beginning. If you want to KEEP your reclaimed time, be very wary of other time sinks. Don't just replace the internet with TV or some other similarly unproductive, brain numbing activity.
1 point by riffraff 3 hours ago 2 replies      
one of my pet projects is a chrome extension that tracks where I spend time in the browser. I was always worried that I may be spending too much time on HN, reddit etc.

Now I have hard data, it's bad (about 10% on this news sites, still not tracking dependent time on linked sites) but not as bad as I thought :)

1 point by known 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Internet will initially promote race to the bottom.
A polyglot quine hatena.ne.jp
19 points by michaelfairley 3 hours ago   2 comments top 2
1 point by patrickas 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is not really polyglot quine (because the original program is only valid ruby).

It seems more like an -almost- multi quine. (The original program produces other programs that eventually reproduce the original ruby program), it is not a "real" multi quine either because it cannot reproduce itself without going through the intermediate programs...

Still interesting nonetheless :-)

3 points by jlegoff 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The following page gives a lucid explanation of how to make quines (including multi-quines):


Flirting Social Network Likealittle Hits 20M Pageviews In 6 Weeks techcrunch.com
87 points by webwright 8 hours ago   45 comments top 15
11 points by aresant 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I am suprised by detractors - come on people: social dynamics, plus anonymity, plus flirting, plus cyber stalking?

This has the perfect viral pull of "I wonder if anybody likes me" - kind of like that brilliant old Classmates.com line "Is an old classmate searching for you?" or HotOrNot.com

Facebook-attaché Formspring.me has nailed the anon part alone and been rewarded with insane, fairly sustainable traffic:


I'm not sure this is a huge, revolutionary business but I'll bet that these guys do pretty darn well and as a feeder to dating sites they'll crush it (which incidentally powered a huge part of FB's early revenue and is still an important cornerstone).

25 points by kloncks 8 hours ago 6 replies      
More than anything, I'm just impressed that this made it to the 50+ campuses without the tech world having any clue.

edit: ...and I'm in college. I wonder if this says anything about me :P

9 points by vaksel 7 hours ago 2 replies      
to be honest, it doesn't seem like it would have that much staying power. The dynamics are just not there.

Right now there is a ton of traffic because it's the hot new thing on campus, but essentially it's the missed encounters section of craigslist.

10 points by thenayr 6 hours ago 3 replies      
The 20M pageviews are likely from people trying to figure out how the hell to use the damn site. UI is TERRIBLE. 90% of the "updates" look like spam. Spelling mistakes are rampant throughout the entire front-end. Looks like the whole thing was thrown together in a weekend. PLEASE let this thing die a quick and painless death.

* quick edit - Also, from the looks of it, they are hiring for EVERY possible type of position (ui, design, backend, front-end, marketers etc.)

In all honesty the entire thing just feels like a desperate attempt to duplicate the success of facebook with a bunch of fake "statistics" and randomly generated content.

4 points by nl 7 hours ago 3 replies      
I don't like to be the cynical one (hmm), but I'm not at all convinced. An awful lot of the "dialog" looks like it is generated content. Maybe not all of it, but there is a lot that sets off alarms for me.

<Insert obligatory thread about Turing tests, Twitter, 4chan etc here I guess />

If I'm wrong, then please pretend you never read this, and DON'T THINK AUTO GENERATING CONTENT IS A GOOD IDEA!

8 points by emilepetrone 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I just threw up a fake post as a blonde girl - 3 replies from guys: "Boysenberry says let me take you out...baby girl you're a cutie let me take you out, to a dinner and a movie?"

I think they may run into the Chatroulette problem...

But very impressive growth indeed!

2 points by poet 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Recent comment by PG on the outing of startups who anonymously post jobs: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2022335. In my eyes such a thing falls in the "not-unethical-but-something-you-shouldn't-do" category. There's nothing strictly wrong with it since you are just using publicly available information, but it is a courtesy not to. Sure perhaps someone else will out a startup, but you don't have to be that guy.
3 points by robryan 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Love how something gets tech crunch overage when they are trying to keep a low profile when all these other startups who bug them by email constantly struggle to get a mention.
1 point by greenlblue 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The idea definitely has potential. The current market they are targeting is the best setting for this kind of application. A bunch of horny college students in a confined location, i.e. a campus. If the founders manage things right I think they could turn this into a great platform for developers and advertisers and this comes at just the right time because everyone and their gandma at this point has a location aware mobile device.
4 points by shawnee_ 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Blue, blue, blue. . . twitter is blue, facebook is blue, most of microsoft/bing is blue, even gmail (default) is blue. A more creative / edgy design would help a lot.

Design critique aside, the idea is a very good one.

4 points by throw75 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Their URLs are also great:


An omg controller?

1 point by patrickaljord 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks like it's already being abused http://likealittle.com/stanford/
2 points by marcamillion 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Let's see how long before this post gets canned. Or is the cat out of the bag already?
1 point by veb 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Apparently you get a refund if you don't find your 'future mate' within 28 hours.


1 point by clarkm 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Writing clean, testable, high quality code in Python ibm.com
100 points by m3mb3r 9 hours ago   16 comments top 5
12 points by barnaby 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Nice, this goes into some ground not covered in other python testing discussions. Great code examples. :-) These are the kinds of articles I come to hacker news to find.
3 points by grovulent 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a really helpful article for me. I'm a programming newb and have been banging out ad hoc code for the last six months. Boy do I have some mega-functions. I've known enough to know that at some point this practice has to change, but I've been a bit stuck as to how to start making improvements. So I'm looking forward to working through this example.
1 point by hessenwolf 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I would like to be able to share this, amiably, with a few of my colleagues and bosses who are not programmers, as we recently had to judge a $half-million piece of software with 2 600 line cashflow functions and I was the only one complaining.

But, yeah, look, the article is 'fine', but not much more, and very unfortunately.

Does anybody know of a similar article re modularisation with a more transparent example, and a more detailed transition between hypothesis and conclusion? He just seems to say 'less complexity', ???, 'profit'.

1 point by deepu_256 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Write tests, run code-coverage and code-smells. While good advice, that's just saying what to do. Not how to do. You can as well remove the word Python from the title and the advice holds true in general.

What i would like to see :-
what in python we can use that will help us write quality, concise code. Things like using list comprehensions, using magic methods, higher order functions(decorators...) and may be something else that i didn't knew.

-4 points by bedroomfireflys 4 hours ago 2 replies      
IBM's just trying to get brownie-points with web developers because they know that they won't be around much longer.
Azul's Pauseless Garbage Collector artima.com
140 points by DanielRibeiro 13 hours ago   41 comments top 7
11 points by icefox 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Can you explain how Azul's pauseless garbage collector works?

Gil Tene: At Azul, we've been building high performance Java virtual machines (JVM)s for the past eight years now. We started the company in 2002, and we aimed to solve several scalability and infrastructure problems for Java back then....

Anyone else really hate then people don't actually answer the question? They should have edited that useless part out.

9 points by pdubroy 11 hours ago 0 replies      
> Self healing is a unique capability that, as far as we know, the Azul collector is the only one to do, and it can only be done with a read barrier.

The Metronome GC from IBM Research (http://www.research.ibm.com/people/d/dfb/papers/Bacon05High....) also uses a read-barrier to fix up pointers to objects which have moved.

Although, I don't think it does marking in the read barrier.

15 points by stretchwithme 10 hours ago 4 replies      
Always taking on the most difficult thing instead of waiting until you have no choice but to clean house sounds like the best strategy for java garbage collection, running your life, running a country, you name it.
11 points by prodigal_erik 12 hours ago 4 replies      
Sounds like fascinating work. I would have expected big unpredictable performance problems from using a read barrier to lazily fixup references to moved objects, given how expensive each page fault is in a superscalar pipeline.

But it's hard to recommend a vendor who's opaque about pricing. If we have to ask, we probably can't afford it.

5 points by vsingh 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Could anyone explain the "self-healing" algorithm in simplistic terms?

From what I gathered, when they compact a page of memory, moving all the objects within it to different locations, they will set a marker on all pointers to be "unset". Then, while program execution is still going on, the GC thread will be busily going through the pointers and correcting them to their new locations as necessary, then setting the marker flag. If, during this period, the executing code tries to use an unmarked pointer, a "read barrier" is hit in the VM, and the GC code corrects that pointer ("self-heals"), sets the marker, then allows execution to continue.

Do I have this right? What about the initial unsetting of all these markers? It would seem to require going through all pointers before you want to compact a page, and I would suspect they're being more clever than that.

1 point by kisiel 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
The guy says his company solved some difficult engineering problems, but this is not language of an engineer. "On Zing they generally tend to be below a millisecond." - what on earth does it mean? He tested it? How? What are the results? What is the confidence interval?
1 point by jganetsk 3 hours ago 1 reply      
What happens with objects that can't fit on a single page, such as a large array?
A 'Thank You' from Google google.com
81 points by dkokelley 10 hours ago   58 comments top 13
45 points by ihodes 8 hours ago 3 replies      
It's sure disheartening to see the majority of comments here say something to the effect of "20 mil is nothing"Google has so much more to give." Well they sure as hell do, but we wouldn't be saying anything if they'd donated nothing.

I don't see why it's Google's responsibility to donate a percentage of their income, or donate relative to other large donors.

I think it's cool Google donated 20 million. I don't know why it's on HN. I'm not going to take this as an opportunity to bitch about how they could have donated much more.

9 points by ck2 9 hours ago 9 replies      
I know this is a terribly jaded way to look at the world but when I see big corporations boasting of big donations to charity, which have to be only a small portion of their profits, it makes me wonder why they are paying their employees so little or charging their customers too much.

Their corporate voice doesn't speak for me and other individuals would have chosen different charities, so why don't they empower more people to make their own donations instead of taking from us and doing it for us in their own name.

What if instead Google just doubled the pay for all their employees in India (for example) and allowed those people to put the money back in their own economy as they buy things they need?

7 points by brownleej 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm honestly curious what they mean when they say "Google's customers". Are they referring to Google's _users_, or the much smaller group of people who pay for Google services?

This isn't just snark. I think that a corporation's responsibilities to its customers are different than the ones it has to its users, and its relationship to its customers should naturally be different than its relationship to its users. I wonder to what extent this distinction exists in Google's culture.

[Edited to fix an error in diction]

5 points by alanh 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Erm… I'm only seeing a “loading” throbber.

Edit after it becomes clear this is because I don't have Flash:

They are not only blocking out users with Flash disabled and/or not available on their device, but also deaf users " there is no text equivalent provided. There isn't even an explanation that a plugin is required.

4 points by Swizec 9 hours ago 1 reply      
To be honest, I want Chrome for a cause to stay. It is one of the most fun dick measuring contests a bunch of web fiends can have.

I wonder what this did to Chrome usage ratings?

More on topic: how many of these charitable donations have a hidden agenda? Paying for schools in India, carefully nudging them to train engineers, having cheaper employees? etc ...

0 points by mike-cardwell 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This money is obviously doing a lot of good, but I have to ask why are they making a big song and dance about it? It's the equivalent of me donating 20 bucks to charity and then going around telling everyone. If they were doing it purely for altruistic reasons then they wouldn't even mention it. It definitely has a commercial purpose behind it. It's better than them not doing it, but don't fall into the trap of believing it's purely altruistic. Google employees don't have a higher set of morals than other companies.
4 points by antimatter15 8 hours ago 0 replies      
3 points by foobob 8 hours ago 1 reply      
20 million.

That's less than 0.1% of what Gates donates. That's about 0.01% of Google's market cap. That's about 4.6 work-hours of Google revenues.

Google is counting on people not having a feeling for what "million" and "billion" mean, aside from both being big numbers.

And part of what was advertised was charities using Google Apps.

I like Google, but this feels pretty cynical.

1 point by erikb 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Are there really still people left, who are naive enough to think that charity really is for a good cause? It is basically just another business for rich people/comapanies to move money around. If it would work the way you think it does, why is Africa and South Asia still looking the same it looked 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago?
1 point by ditojim 7 hours ago 0 replies      
i don't think greedy is ever a word that will be used to describe google. ambitious, yes. greedy, no.
1 point by joshfraser 8 hours ago 0 replies      
you're welcome :)
1 point by reason 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I wish youtube videos streamed just as nicely as this one.
EBay acquires brands4friends for $200 million techcrunch.com
8 points by hiteshiitk 2 hours ago   4 comments top
4 points by franze 1 hour ago 2 replies      
this certainly means one thing: you can make any stupid term a brand, i mean "brands4friends" come on....
One Way to Get IT's Attention omninerd.com
6 points by tom6a 1 hour ago   4 comments top 2
1 point by monk-e-boy 35 minutes ago 0 replies      
In one of my first jobs as a coder we had little crappy PCs for development. They were ok, but a bit slow. When I left I wrote a polite email to the CEO pointing out the same thing - lag time x wages per hour x number of people in the team. A week later one of the devs emailed me and said they'd just recieved amazing new machines.
1 point by iwwr 1 hour ago 2 replies      
What was the lag situation after an OS reimaging or reinstall?

Take a snapshot of a fresh OS install, with all necessary applications installed, running on the old hardware. Compare that with a snapshot of the old OS (before reinstallation), running on the new hardware. Generally, unless the hardware is really old, reinstalling Windows will get you a snappier system back.

If you're using an old HDD, consider swapping for a SSD.

If a little more performance is needed, consider overclocking the CPU by 15-20% if that's possible (a cpu cooler is much cheaper than a new machine).

Additionally, you should disable all graphic "special effects", Aero and other crap that comes with Windows.

AMD's Cayman GPU Architecture realworldtech.com
16 points by closure 4 hours ago   discuss
What's the point of stealing $1.5 million in casino chips from the Bellagio? slate.com
29 points by stretchwithme 6 hours ago   28 comments top 11
15 points by btilly 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I know for a fact that professional poker players are willing to play privately with chips from well-known casinos, including the Bellagio. And the Bellagio doesn't discourage them by being too particular about which poker player returns which chips. I'm sure other kinds of gamblers do the same. This gives them real street value.

And if a random professional poker player shows up with a random stolen chip that was won in a private poker game, the Bellagio has a choice. They can refuse to accept the chip back, knowing full well that word will get around and poker players won't want to trust Bellagio chips, or they can stand by the official rules and not accept the chip.

13 points by MichaelApproved 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I've seen this story get covered by every major news source but they all have the same take on it "he'll never be able to cash the big chips". Big fucking deal. He probably never even planned on taking those. No one has actually broken down the denominations of chips he took.

How much of what he stole is in $1,000 chips or less? That's the real story to what was stolen. Lazy reporters don't bother asking. No, they just defecate what the AP feeding tube shoved up their nose.

3 points by modeless 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The guy didn't plan to steal $25000 chips, he just walked away with what was there. I'll bet there are ways to fence the lower-denomination chips for somewhat less than face value. You could probably sell the $100 chips for $50 each to random suckers on the strip with a good story.
2 points by waterlesscloud 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Techno-thriller paranoid take on it- $25k chips can only plausibly be used in high stakes room , which is probably considerably less anonymous than the general floor. Assume everyone playing with high stakes chips are photographed and kept in a database, probably a relatively small db at that. Facial recognition software would be a given in such a case, and even if identities are not kept with faces, the face of someone using 25k chips could easily be checked against everyone who has ever bought or won 25k chips. Might not even need software for that, just manually check if the list is short enough.

Now you don't need rfid at all, just good records.

There's only one place to get 25k Bellagio chips, and only one place to cash them in. Those chips have to be considered worthless in all practical ways.

5 points by gexla 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I would think it would be easy to figure out if a chip has RFID embedded, just run a scan. And why all the noise about a thief being stupid for stealing $1.5 million in chips with many of them unlikely to be cashable? This is Vegas where thieves will take the chance at robbing people / stores where they may get away with less than $100. I'm sure the guy would be happy to get away with even a few hundred. With that many chips he could probably make a few hundred by selling the 25K chips as souvenirs. ;)
10 points by toolate 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Couldn't he gamble with them? Put one or two chips down at a time, keep the winnings as "clean" chips and gamble with the dirty ones until they're all gone?
3 points by bdr 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Maybe to reverse-engineer the RFID system for some future purpose?
1 point by ghshephard 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I've always been impressed that Circus-Circus in Reno would cash $25 chips six years after I had originally won them. I wonder if the US Govt Tracks the money supply that is tied up in Poker Chips from casinos...
1 point by powera 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I seem to recall reading that at least in Atlantic City, casinos are required to have an entirely separate set (or maybe even 2 other sets) of high-value checks, that can be swapped in case of suspected counterfeiting. I would assume that the Bellagio has something similar in place, and that the casino is quietly getting all the high rollers to replace any checks that they had stored.
1 point by henry81 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I remember hearing a story about something like this and they were able to launder the chips through strippers, who cashed in the chips they received "as tips"..
1 point by dtby 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Too bad Bob Stupak died last year.
Solving the Carwoo code-breaking challenge grack.com
31 points by mmastrac 7 hours ago   discuss
Inside Rockst*r Games zerodean.com
4 points by sl_ 1 hour ago   discuss
Microsoft quietly shuts down Office Genuine Advantage program zdnet.com
65 points by ilamont 11 hours ago   36 comments top 8
27 points by ShabbyDoo 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Microsoft relies on Office piracy as a strange means of price discrimination. The product requires network effects to maintain its near-monopoly position in the corporate world, and having a significant portion of people in "document sharing" networks say, "I don't have Office" is a threat. So, what Microsoft's quietly made decision says to me is that they are worried that a sufficiently large enough portion of computer users were both unwilling to pay for Office and unwilling to bother pirating it.

On Black Friday, many online retailers were running specials on a Home/Student Office "Family Pack" -- three legal installs for $100. This is a midpoint between the corporate price point and free. Perhaps an attempt to introduce another segment? I recall the availability of home/student editions in the past, but the price points were always much higher.

14 points by latch 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm a fan of MS Word, I really am. These days though, I find that, as an amateur writer, I prefer simpler tools - markdown or google docs. I think this is a slow trend they are (or should be) worried about.

For home users, gmail thoroughly beats Outlook.

Excel is a different beast. I don't have much experience with it, but I've seen it used widely at various places of work (medical and financial). I'd say Excel is now their strongest product when it comes to maintaining a stranglehold.

When you consider the price, advances in google docs, gmail and and OpenOffice, I'm not sure Office is really a good value for most folk. They think they need it - that's a dangerous position to be in - selling a product because people think they need it, rather than actually needing it.

1 point by S_A_P 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Excel is the tool of choice for non techies who need "database like" functionality but the word database scares the crap out of them. Large companies wrap multi million dollar businesses around Excel, and I think there will always be a market for an app like this.

I only recently began using Office 2010 at my office and feel like this is what office 2003(or if Im feeling generous, 2007) should have been. Outlook is an anachronism as far as Im concerned- even connected to exchange. There are so many modal features about it still that are infuriating, but its getting to an almost gmail usability level. If gmail integrated calendaring as well as outlook I would forward all my work email to a gmail address and never touch outlook.

MsWord stil is hands down much better than any free equivalent I have tried, but I only need this app ~5 - 10 times per year.

I wish they had an "Office for people who really dont need office that much" version that was on some sort of azure/pay for need basis(where the cost was minimal and paying wasn't) because that is what I need. I dont want to have a few GB of hardly used real estate on my hard disk for when I need to update a resume.

2 points by compay 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Microsoft releasing actual legitimate open source code (http://www.microsoft.com/opensource/) , and relaxing restrictions on "piracy." Next thing you know, Windows 9 will be based on Linux.
4 points by iwwr 9 hours ago 1 reply      
If you run a print/copy shop or need Office for precise in-company document compatibility (or addins), you will want MS Office and you will easily afford a license or two.

As for everyone else, OpenOffice has 99% of the features, so it's not even worth the trouble of pirating it.

1 point by wccrawford 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm kind of surprised by this. If they had just shut down the bit that forces you to validate, but left a way for you to validate your copy, that would make more sense to me.

I mean, some people might genuinely want to know for sure.

Of course, it's possible that they shut this down while they put up something even more bothersome.

1 point by danshapiro 5 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of commenters seem confused about this: you still have to validate Office to get it to work, or pirate it to circumvent the check. The change is that Microsoft will let you download Office add-ons without verifying that said validation occurred, so pirate versions can now access the downloads.
-4 points by andreyf 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Arr, my mateys, the battle is ours!
A crazy Ruby quine: a spinning globe. hatena.ne.jp
78 points by steveklabnik 12 hours ago   16 comments top 8
13 points by vito 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Equally impressive: http://d.hatena.ne.jp/ku-ma-me/20090916

A Ruby -> Python -> Perl -> Lua -> OCaml -> Haskell -> C -> Java -> Brainfuck -> Whitespace -> Unlambda -> Ruby quine!

8 points by SlyShy 11 hours ago 1 reply      
1. Copy one of the above as a.rb.

2. Run

while true; do clear; ruby a.rb | tee b.rb; sleep 1; mv -f b.rb a.rb; done

4 points by roadnottaken 7 hours ago 1 reply      
That is pretty cool, but the ultimate work of this type that I've seen is this mandelbrot fly-through in perl:


Seriously -- try it.

1 point by gommm 5 hours ago 0 replies      
His translated version of the article http://mamememo.blogspot.com/2010/09/qlobe.html
(not that there is much to read :-) )

It's really impressive :-)

3 points by rbxbx 8 hours ago 0 replies      
At least the Japanese rubyists remember how to have fun :)
4 points by jpadvo 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know what kind of process was used to create this?
2 points by exch 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This is certainly an amazing piece of work.
1 point by donniefitz2 7 hours ago 0 replies      
That is truly impressive.
Poll: Is your PayPal email address also your primary email address?
13 points by gaelian 4 hours ago   19 comments top 9
1 point by mcherm 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
Yes. I try to maintain a consistent identity online, and using a single email for everything helps with this.
1 point by cperciva 3 hours ago 1 reply      
According to your definition, my "primary email address" varies from day to day. I would say that I have three primary addresses -- one for personal email, one for FreeBSD or other open source related email, and one for anything Tarsnap related. Which I'm using the most on any particular day depends on what I'm doing that day.

(And that's not counting the gmail address I use for anything Google-related; my university address, which I use mostly for university governance matters; my Tarsnap AWS account email address; the FreeBSD Security Officer address I use when I want to make sure people pay attention to the email I'm sending; etc.)

But if it helps: Most of those addresses are linked to my PayPal account.

8 points by juiceandjuice 2 hours ago 1 reply      
No, but that account forwards to my primary.

I keep it separate for security reasons.

1 point by dangrossman 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Nope. PayPal only allows one business account per entity, so while I accept PayPal payments at multiple websites, there's only one primary e-mail address. I use a generic address for PayPal which is not any of my normal mailboxes. I do check it about once a day just in case there's a payment dispute or chargeback I need to handle.
1 point by mike-cardwell 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised this has so many yes votes. I thought that in tech circles people tend to give out different email addresses for each online service they use...
4 points by wlievens 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Yes. You gonna send me money? :-)
1 point by frou_dh 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Yes, I use one email address on my domain for everything. I have no need for a more nuanced email setup.
1 point by mariuolo 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's a separate email account on a domain I only use in connection with eBay/Paypal.
I still see the messages IRT.
1 point by Xuzz 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure what to put -- I use Google Apps's "catch-all" feature for my domain, so I have it as paypal@example.com (I also do this for most sites requiring registration, e.g., HN is hn@example.com). While it does end up at the same inbox in the same domain, it's not quite my primary email.
Monitoring America washingtonpost.com
6 points by pierrefar 2 hours ago   discuss
Plain and simple: Net neutrality is hypocrisy wsj.com
5 points by mudil 2 hours ago   2 comments top 2
6 points by guelo 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I know this is ad hominem, but Robert McDowell is one of many corporate lobbyists appointed by Bush to undermine a federal agency.
1 point by lazylland 4 minutes ago 0 replies      
I don't get his arguments ... it just seemed like one big REGULATION IS EVIL rant/FUD.

Did I miss anything ?

Why I love math reddit.com
202 points by dpatru 22 hours ago   40 comments top 17
31 points by btilly 19 hours ago 1 reply      
For any layperson who wants to understand what mathematicians think about math, I cannot recommend _The Mathematical Experience_ highly enough.

It is accessible to a high school student. Yet has insights for a PhD in mathematics. And more than any other book I know, it captures the experience of mathematics. Both good and bad.

I like to say that I went into mathematics for reasons given in that book. And I left it for reasons given in that book.

13 points by samatman 20 hours ago 2 replies      
The comparison of early maths (algebra in particular) to spelling is spot on. It also reminds me of a somewhat wry observation from one of my mathematics professors: that if we taught spelling and grammar exclusively through crossword puzzles and competitive Scrabble, many fewer people would learn to spell and write grammatically.

The analogy is to teaching algebra through endless, dry repetition of problem solving. Some of you won't get what the big deal is; you're the ones who are good at 'crossword puzzles'.

5 points by kenjackson 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Conrad Wolfram gave a great talk at Ted about how to reform math. He is spot on. I think this is one way Mathematica could really jump to the next level... develop a full on home-school curriculum from age 3 through 12th grade.

Math education today is broken.

UPDATE: Link to talk with some other resources: http://computerbasedmath.org/

1 point by jakevoytko 15 hours ago 0 replies      
As I read this, I noticed the similarity between mathematics and programing. In fact, if you substitute the word "mathematics" with "programming," the post sounds like my experience with my computer science degree. Algorithms and programming languages were unnatural at first. I spent most of my formative years fighting with programming languages instead of using them. But after a few years, I moved past the point of fighting algorithms and languages and started using them to actually solve problems.

Writing software doesn't help you discover the laws that govern everything, but it affects people on a much more pragmatic level - software satisfies our curiosity, tells us how to go where we need to go, and affects every aspect of my day-to-day life. And that's not half bad.

5 points by kiba 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Not being forced to rush through everything make it a lot easier for me to learn math.

Thanks to Khan Academy, I now understand trigonometry in a much cooler and intuitive way.

However, I don't know if that mean I am beginning to transcend the mechanics/grammar of mathematics.

4 points by iwwr 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Any specialized field becomes obscure to the uninitiated. While it may be possible to use metaphors to give them a glimpse into the field, it's ultimately a false picture. And so, analogies should be used to whet appetites, not attempt to explain expert knowledge.

Feynman on magnetism: "I can't explain that attraction in any of the terms that's familiar to you. For example, if we said that magnets attract as if they were connected by rubber bands, I would be cheating you[...] and if you were curious enough, you would ask me why rubber bands tend to pull back together again and I would end up having to explain that in terms of electrical forces."


3 points by fooandbarify 20 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow. This post is a revelation for me. I have frequently explained to people that have bothered to ask (and probably a few who didn't) that the reason I love programming has a lot to do with my love of language - the elegant syntax, the rules and their exceptions. Despite rigorous math training (I'm an electrical engineering student), until now I had never been able to see it as more than a means to an end. I hated math classes so much, but they allowed me to do interesting things with electricity so I put up with them. On occasion, I have maybe been struck by a part of what this person is referring to, but this puts it together in a way that I had never really understood before.


3 points by js2 19 hours ago 2 replies      
2 points by ez77 15 hours ago 0 replies      
When studying mathematics, the math major sees pure truth.

Then you take foundation of mathematics, metamathematics and more of that ilk and you are labeled a Platonist. Well, guilty as charged.

1 point by edge17 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Great explanation. The only shortcoming, or maybe not, is that he could have pointed out that the parallel he drew is true for anyone that specializes and transcends towards ideas rather than frets mechanics of a field. I'm much this way about computer science, engineering, economics, finance, etc. The things they teach you in an undergraduate education are just tools in your toolbox, the bread and butter so to speak. It's the ideas are what's important.
1 point by toast76 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Can someone explain why Americans call it "math". If the word is a shortening of Mathematics, shouldn't it be called "maths"?
2 points by CallMeV 19 hours ago 2 replies      
I wonder if anyone here has studied the Trachtenberg Method of Speed Mathematics, or Vedic Mathematics. If anyone here has, I'd like to find out what they thought of the way those methods are taught.
2 points by bennyk 18 hours ago 0 replies      
I always had trouble in regular math classes until physics. I think it was the type of problem solving I understood and related to
2 points by mathfornerds 19 hours ago 1 reply      
In the film Matrix you discover an alternative reality and choose to take the red pill. When you are able to think mathematically you discover a new universe and you can choose to take the red pill to evolve, but that universe is only accessible to those that can understand maths.
0 points by yters 12 hours ago 1 reply      
The most important truths of reality cannot be captured by math. Plus, we create truth, and math can only represent what already exists.
1 point by cogspa 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Mathematica is a great tool as well. If only they could raise their user base beyond 3%.
2 points by CallMeV 21 hours ago 0 replies      
A magnificent explanation.
Show HN: Analysis of how long do items survive on the "New" page solipsys.co.uk
81 points by RiderOfGiraffes 14 hours ago   18 comments top 6
10 points by pmichaud 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Nice work, very informative. This is an issue that I feel has the potential to kill HN in the long run. It is steadily growing closer and closer to being impossible to hit the front page without gaming the system.

The thing is that these submissions are coming in because there are more people, so in theory there should be a way to balance the increased submission rate with an increased voting rate as well.

But how?

8 points by blahedo 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Nifty, but the graphs need to be labelled better; it's not always clear what exactly the colours mean or what is being graphed.
2 points by sesqu 11 hours ago 1 reply      

  The chart for the weekend specifically has just a few red points, which has shifted the range. Removing them would make the range better, but that's not really worth the time.

What do you mean by this? Are you normalizing before coloring? If so, don't. You said the colors were for <100, 100-200, 200< and I'm holding you to it.

As for the interpolation, I think you're sampling at least hourly, so why didn't you just store all times at each scrape and match the >60min ones with those?

1 point by Anon84 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Is the data available? I saw the note at the end of the post, but there doesn't seem to be a link associated with it.
2 points by scorchin 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Another great write-up!

As a side note, I missed your juggling talk at the recent HN London meetup. Is there a video available for it?

1 point by brandnewlow 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Semi-related question: So how many submissions is HN getting each day these days?
A Graph Processing Stack attinteractive.com
40 points by rohitarondekar 10 hours ago   discuss
A VC: Buying and Selling Assets avc.com
11 points by acangiano 4 hours ago   1 comment top
1 point by alexwestholm 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
The article mentions that asset sales are rare except in the case of a "fire sale" where immediate liquidation is necessary. I assume this usually means a complete exit, since tech startups usually don't often have limbs that can be chopped off. When do you see partial asset sales?

Also, it seems implicit in the description of partial asset sales (to paraphrase: "selling some of their businesses") that this is usually an entire business unit... does this mean purchasers usually require non-competition clauses in such transactions?

Erlang/OTP on android burbas.se
29 points by setori88 8 hours ago   7 comments top
1 point by angusgr 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I <3 Erlang and this seems like a cool idea and all, but I'm struggling to think of the exact use anyone is likely to put it to.

If you want to do Android UI, I'm sure JInterface will compile against Dalvik but it's also fairly dated and in need of some love. I didn't find programming Java against it to be particularly pleasant in its current form.

OTOH, being able to program full Android applications in Erlang would be extremely cool, but probably not possible unless someone does a load more R&D.

Am I missing something?

Database of private SSL keys for embedded devices google.com
73 points by bensummers 14 hours ago   18 comments top 6
11 points by tptacek 13 hours ago 1 reply      

  select * from firmare
[4:08pm:~] RIDGELAND:tqbf [0:6]% pbpaste | egrep '[0-9]+\|[0-9]+\|[0-9]+'
| cut -d\| -f4-5 | cut -d\ -f1 | sort | uniq

Cisco|v1.0.1.3 - Cisco|v1.1.17.9 - Cisco|v2.0.0.11 - D-Link|v1.20b39 - D-Link|v1.20b44 - D-Link|v2.02NA - D-Link|v2.03NA - DD-WRT|Accton - DD-WRT|Aceex - DD-WRT|Actiontec - DD-WRT|AirLive/Ovislink - DD-WRT|Airlink - DD-WRT|Alfa - DD-WRT|Asus - DD-WRT|Avila - DD-WRT|Bountiful - DD-WRT|Broadcom - DD-WRT|Buffalo - DD-WRT|Compex - DD-WRT|D-Link - DD-WRT|DD-WRT - DD-WRT|DIR-300 - DD-WRT|DIR-400 - DD-WRT|DIR-600 - DD-WRT|Doodlelabs - DD-WRT|EAP-3660 - DD-WRT|ECB-3500 - DD-WRT|ECB-9750 - DD-WRT|EOC-1650 - DD-WRT|EOC-2610 - DD-WRT|EOC-5610 - DD-WRT|ESR-9752: - DD-WRT|Edimax - DD-WRT|GW-MF54G2 - DD-WRT|Gateworks - DD-WRT|JJPlus - DD-WRT|LaFonera - DD-WRT|Linksys - DD-WRT|Mega - DD-WRT|Meraki - DD-WRT|Micro_OLSRD - DD-WRT|NEWD - DD-WRT|NOP-8670 - DD-WRT|NS5 - DD-WRT|Netgear - DD-WRT|NoKaid - DD-WRT|OpenRB - DD-WRT|Pronghorn - DD-WRT|Special - DD-WRT|Standard - DD-WRT|Standard_USB_FTP - DD-WRT|TP-Link - DD-WRT|TRENDnet - DD-WRT|Tonze - DD-WRT|US - DD-WRT|Ubiquiti - DD-WRT|Ubiquity - DD-WRT|VINTAGE - DD-WRT|VPN - DD-WRT|VoIP - DD-WRT|Voip - DD-WRT|WHA-5500CPE - DD-WRT|WHR-HP-AG108 - DD-WRT|WLA-5000ap - DD-WRT|WLA-9000ap - DD-WRT|WP188 - DD-WRT|WRT610N - DD-WRT|WTR54GS - DD-WRT|WiliGear - DD-WRT|Wistron - DD-WRT|Xbox - DD-WRT|ZCOM - DD-WRT|dd-wrt.v24 - DD-WRT|dd-wrt.v24,Atheros - DD-WRT|v24 - DD-WRT|v24-preSP2, - DD-WRT|v24-sp1 - DD-WRT|v24-sp1,Consumer - DD-WRT|v24-sp1,Professional - Linksys|3.0.03 - Netgear|v1.0.0_09.25NA - Netgear|v1.4.20

Wireless access points.

7 points by jrockway 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This is why I have my own CA. Too bad the router manufacturers don't do the same; let the router generate a key-signing request, paste it into the manufacturer's site (with a "real" SSL cert), download file suitable for providing to the router, enjoy secure VPN.

Oh yeah, but that would add like fifty cents to the cost of every $150 VPN router, and we can't have that!

6 points by modeless 13 hours ago 1 reply      
This would only allow you to sniff/MITM SSL connections made by/to the router itself, right? Not connections made by users of the router to servers on the Internet. What do these routers use SSL for, anyway? Update checks? Admin control panels?
4 points by ten7 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Great article. So what's the fix? What should the right approach have been? Let's see a solution!

And yes, I read the blog post associated with it and didn't see a solution: http://www.devttys0.com/2010/12/breaking-ssl-on-embedded-dev...

4 points by Raphael 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Good to see Hacker News living up to its name.
1 point by mmaunder 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Mostly used for home vpns and router admin https it looks like. Also dd-wrt is fairly niche.
Vagrant is a tool for building virtualized development environments. vagrantup.com
62 points by lox 13 hours ago   25 comments top 7
18 points by mitchellh 11 hours ago 8 replies      
Why hello there! I'm the maintainer/developer behind Vagrant and I'm happy to answer any questions there may be about the project whether it be conceptual or directly related to how Vagrant works.

I didn't expect to see this on HN today but I guess I'll just give a giant information dump here for those interested :)

Good links for those interested in what Vagrant is:

* "Why Vagrant?" - http://vagrantup.com/docs/getting-started/why.html

* "Frequently Asked Questions" - http://vagrantup.com/faq.html

* The code - https://github.com/mitchellh/vagrant

* The original HN submission when Vagrant was launched (286 days ago) - http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1175901

And then a quick update for those who want to know whats going on with the project now:

The project has been nonstop since January this year, and the codebase is nearing one year old. Vagrant is now on version 0.6.8. Vagrant is used by many companies worldwide and the 0.6.x series is considered stable. In September 2010 I gained sponsorship for my work on Vagrant by Engine Yard[1]. I've been working very hard for the past 2 months to get the project working with other hypervisors (KVM, VMWare), spurring other open source projects of my own in the process (libvirt-rb, virtuoso, you can find these at my github[2]).

[1]: http://www.engineyard.com/blog/2010/mitchell-hashimoto-joins...

[2]: http://github.com/mitchellh

9 points by kanwisher 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I've always dreamed of carrying around a netbook to exotic locales and then firing up remote EC2 instances with huge multicpu servers and having a full dev setup for a few hours while in a cafe in the middle of the jungle.
3 points by gnubardt 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I have an Archlinux base box available here: http://gotanysnacks.com/vagrant/

Also, it's well worth the effort to learn Chef (or another automated provisioning tool) if you haven't already. It makes working with Vagrant way easier and saves you time whenever you create a new environment. Plus you can use the same recipes on a production box, so the effort isn't wasted.

1 point by mduvall 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is neat, I wish there was a screencast or something of the sort up to recap the major points of this application. Does anybody know from experience how flexible it is for recreating an environment close to your own on any *nix based system?
2 points by andrewvc 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I use vagrant every day, it's really a must-have for a complex stack.
1 point by Uchikoma 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Tried it several times on a Windows Box without success. Had troubles trying several Ruby versions, neither version worked.
2 points by jjoe 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Why is the Vagrant character missing the front of his footwear exposing his toes?



Mathematics: The Most Misunderstood Subject fordham.edu
128 points by spacemanaki 19 hours ago   39 comments top 13
6 points by HilbertSpace 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Part I

Yet again we are flagellated, excoriated, eviscerated, etc. about 'mathematics'.

Still, some crucial points are missing. Been there; done that; learned the lessons; and below are some crucial ones.

Yes, candidate understatement of the millennium is that people don't understand math! Yup, they don't! That is, except mathematicians, and they are a tiny fraction of the population.

I review some of the main directions and then give my view of the crucial points and direction.

Best Undergraduate Major

Yes, in many ways math is a terrific subject. I recommend it as in many ways (not all) as the best undergraduate major.

Why? First, because in all the rest of the academic subjects of physical science, economics, social science, engineering, computer science, and now even parts of biology and medical science, 'mathematization' of the field is widely regarded as the best academic 'research progress'. E.g., mathematical (theoretical) physics is the most prestigious part of physics, and the situation is similar in the other fields. Second, because in all those other fields, nearly all the people feel that they very much need to know more mathematics. And, any mathematician who reads their work will readily agree!

In particular, the level of math in academic computer science research made some progress with Knuth and since then has, in a word, sucked.

Outside of academics, the level of knowledge of math is so poor that at the right time and place knowing some relevant math, that might not be very advanced, can be one heck of an advantage.

For such an advantage, there is a general principal, a double edged sword: For some knowledge to be a big advantage, it is nearly necessary that very few other people understand it. So, if you really do have an idea that can put $1B in the bank, before the money is coming in at a rate that makes the $1B look likely, explaining the knowledge to anyone else will give only contempt, laughter, anger, or silence. Generally people will give respect for something they admire, say, making $1B, but some knowledge they don't understand (without something like money clearly attached) will mostly just make them angry. In particular, for such math knowledge, people in business won't understand the math, and people in math won't understand the business. It can be lonely at the top, or as a pioneer, etc. Generally, having a big advantage later can be valuable but at first can be lonely.

Getting Paid

Since for nearly everyone, most of their career has to be directed to getting paid, we need to say how math can contribute.

My guess is that for at least the rest of this century, math will be more important for computing than Moore's law is, will be, or, really, so far has been. So generally I'm optimistic. On this point, I expect that so far nearly no one will agree with me. Still, such importance can be a long way from getting paid.

Money for Academic Math

For the more technical academic fields, there has been one main source of money -- the US Federal Government. Why? Before 1940, f'get about it! After 1945, D. Eisenhower, J. Conant, V. Bush and others were so impressed by the role of math in WWII that Eisenhower supposedly said "Never again will US science be permitted to operate independent of the US military." Conant, et al., deliberately set up several sources of funding -- NSF, ONR, etc. -- so that there would be no one place to cut off the flow of money. The Cold War and the Space Race added more funding. By 1960, there was so much money for research, including math, that a joke went "While you are up, get me a grant.". Now commonly the top US research universities get about 60% of their budget from NSF, NIH, DoE, etc.

Scenario: You are a university dean of the School of Science with the math department, and they want to hire some profs. As the dean you look mostly at (1) prestige for the university, (2) demand for courses, and (3) opportunity for research grants. There (1) is okay for, maybe, 50 mathematicians today. For (2), mostly f'get about it: The other departments and the math profs agree that the math department shouldn't teach 'service' courses. So, the other departments want to teach the math themselves or just f'get about it. Besides now there is a history of math department service courses taught by people who didn't speak English, and bitterness remains. For (3), some years ago there was an Exxon executive David who lead the writing of a report that basically claimed that the research and teaching in the math departments was next to useless 'abstract nonsense'. One result was that the NSF, etc. felt more justified in cutting back grants for math. Math had too little support in Congress, and there were plenty of other fields that wanted the grants instead. Net, in the research universities, the math departments went on meager rations. They still are.

So in academic math, where is the 'action'? Well, there is plenty of screaming that K-12 needs math teachers. Okay, so there are colleges with math departments that specialize in such 'math teacher training'. Those colleges need some profs who got math Ph.D. degrees from, say, a state university. There the math profs got their Ph.D. degrees from research universities. And there the math profs do research on generalized abstract nonsense that may not go useless forever. So there is a pyramid with several levels, the lowest of which is K-12 math teaching and the top of which are the math departments at the usual suspects Stanford, Berkeley, Princeton, Harvard, etc. Of course what a Princeton math prof does is essentially irrelevant to anything in K-12 math. Being irrelevant is economically risky!

This pyramid is at risk: E.g., college departments of education might just do their own teaching of math to students headed for K-12 math.

So, here's the good news about academic math: The stuff on the library shelves isn't going anywhere!

16 points by hypersoar 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm pursuing a career as a math professor (currently an undergrad). I'm not shy about my passion for math, and this has lead to countless conversations like the ones below:

"What do you want to do with your math degree?"

"I want to go to graduate school and eventually become a math professor."

"Oh, so you want to teach!"

"No, I want to do research."

(Here they give some expression of confusion. I've had this particular conversation dozens of times)


"So, what do you do in math research? Do you just sit around and solve equations all day?

I do my best to explain to these people what math is like and why I do it, but I usually don't feel like I'm getting through. I have been told by mathematicians many times, and have experienced myself, that doing mathematics requires lots and lots of frustration (I'm sure many people here, including those who don't do pure math, know what I'm talking about).

But for me the most frustrating and disheartening part of math is the fact that most people don't know what it is. It's not just that they don't understand the details, or what happens at high levels. It's certainly not just that they look at an end product (analogous to, say, a product from a startup) but don't get where it came from. It's that most people fundamentally don't understand what I do. They think of math as the capricious monotony they were put through in grade school and can't fathom why anyone would consider dedicating a life to it. Most aren't even willing to try. My love of math is a very big part of me, and it's a part that very few people understand.

14 points by Dilpil 18 hours ago 1 reply      
A very similar, much longer exploration of the problems with high school (and, honestly, most undergraduate) math education:
7 points by RiderOfGiraffes 15 hours ago 2 replies      
When I'm asked about math there are a couple of things.

Firstly, I ask them about Pythagoras. Most people know of it, and I phrase it in terms of cardboard cutout squares. Take three squares cut from a heavy material, and make them so that A and B together weigh the same as C. Arrange them so their sides lie on a triangle. Not only is it always possible, but the triangle you get always has a right-angle.

Why? How do we know? As it happens, the reasoning as to why it's true is wonderfully elegant, and totally accessible.

Secondly, I ask - do you think mathematicians know about numbers? Here's something. Take any positive number. If it's even, halve it. Otherwise, triple and add one. Keep doing this, and what happens. So far every number anyone has every tried ends up in a ...->1->4->2->1->... cycle. Does it always happen?

No one knows.

Possibly it's useless, but there's a bunch of stuff people thought would be useless, and they've given us micro-processors, SatNav, cryptography, error-correcting codes, and a million other things.

Who knows what will be useful? After all, if we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called "Research".

7 points by treo 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of "A Mathematican's Lament" by Paul Lockhart ( http://www.maa.org/devlin/LockhartsLament.pdf ). It is a great read in any case.
1 point by alexwestholm 19 hours ago 2 replies      
The author has rightfully directed his words at those considering becoming math majors. Consequently, he makes it clear that most basic math education is inadequate to really understand math and its practicality, but leaves as the only solution enrolling as a math student. This is a great call to action for students, but for the broader audience, it leaves me thinking the following:

My math background is clearly inadequate, and his description of mathematical reasoning sounds like something I'd like to be familiar with, so how do I get there? What's the route to the prize other than enrolling in Fordham's math program?

While the professor in question has no reason to answer this, at least on the Fordham website, I wonder what answers the HN crowd might have... thoughts?

1 point by Tycho 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember at school there was a bunch of kidsd who were good at maths seemingly due go natural aptitude, and some who were keen on the academic credibility it gave them... but genuinely I can only think if one person who actually displayed a 'passion' or at least a deep interest in the subject.

I was very enthusiastic about physics and lots of people were about English and we'd have creative writing groups and stuff, but maths was just... Some folk quietly excelled at it and that was that.

1 point by tokenadult 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Another good article about mathematics education, by William P. Thurston, a Fields medalist:


1 point by dannyb 10 hours ago 0 replies      
My only beef with his interesting post is that he uses graphics of completely understandable stuff like diagonalizing a matrix or the map of the phase space map of the logistic equation and then talks about current developments in math. Anything new is almost completely incomprehensible to me - a couple of years ago, I got a book about fractional calculus. I read about 5 pages away and gave it to a mathematician friend of mine...
1 point by guscost 8 hours ago 0 replies      
One pet peeve about math education: calling "imaginary" numbers that makes it seem like there is such a thing as a number that is "real" in a literal sense. All numbers are actually imaginary, they exist as isomorphisms to things in the real world that have numbers or can be counted.
2 points by CallMeV 19 hours ago 0 replies      
Now this article is brilliant. I'm reposting the link to this article to a maths blog.

My old maths tutors in my old alma mater would also love to read the article, so I'll email them the link. If nothing else, it'll remind them that mathematics teaching does make a great difference.

2 points by p_nathan 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a mathematics minor as part of my bachelor's in computer science. I have never once regretted my mathematics training. I sometimes wish I had more.
1 point by Natsu 15 hours ago 3 replies      
The article's phrase "liberal education" is unlikely to be properly understood in a lot of the USA. The political meaning has so eclipsed the ordinary meaning that the latter seems all but unknown.
Make a Difference This Christmas - Loan to an Entrepreneur through Kiva.org billda.com
10 points by captk 4 hours ago   2 comments top 2
1 point by yesbabyyes 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
Thank you for the tip! I've been hearing about Kiva for a couple of years but never signed up. Your post convinced me and I just lent $100 to a group in Uganda selling shoes.

I think I'll give $25 gift cards to the whole family, Kiva is really awesome!

2 points by papaf 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been using Kiva for around 2 years now and my loans have always been paid back. This Christmas, I'm going to try to give Kiva credit as a gift and see what the response is.
Mac Apps With Beautiful Interfaces designshack.co.uk
72 points by phalien 16 hours ago   40 comments top 12
33 points by rbritton 16 hours ago 7 replies      
1. wunderlist. How is this beautiful? They crammed a wood-styled UI into OS X's standard window chrome. The toggle switches at the bottom are not the OS-provided ones and look like they're intended to match the iPhone app more than the OS they're running on. Things is a far better example here.

2. Reeder. See http://danielkennett.org/blog/2010/12/analysing-a-touch-to-d...

3. Sparrow. These are not OS X toolbar icons -- they're UIKit icons! They look as out-of-place on OS X as OS X ones would on an iOS device.

5. DaisyDisk. The UI here is very unique and usable. The mouse-over support on the file graph is actually very, very useful for determining where storage space is being used.

6. Transmit 4. I personally found Transmit 3's favorites interface and syncing interface to be more usable. The animations they've added slow down use and some buttons (e.g., disconnect) are far harder to reach than in T3.

7. Courier. While the interface is novel and interesting at first glance, I have to question how useful it is for repetitive tasks. I have not used the app, so I can't comment there, but more often than not fancy graphics get in the way of speed.

8. 1Password. This one I love. It's useful and very usable. I've used multiple versions of this program and the UI changes they've made with the current one far outshine the previous versions both in terms of appearance and usability.

My only gripe still would be with the browser plugin. I've tried setting up other less computer-savvy people to use it, and the menu does not make it immediately obvious to them which item to select to log in -- the top several options are too crammed together visually.

20 points by tumult 14 hours ago 2 replies      
The performance of some of these apps is appalling. The Sparrow GMail client idles in the background on my MacBook Air around 20 or 30% CPU usage on one core. If you try to scroll the list of mail, resize the window, or breathe on it wrong, it will chug, the graphics will stutter, and it will peg itself at 100% cpu for several seconds. If I have it running, it cuts my estimated remaining battery life from 4 hours to 1 hour.

Kiwi 2, the twitter client, uses 100mb of ram for one twitter account. What?

I know most people aren't going to check these numbers or care, but when I open an email client and feel my laptop getting warm underneath my hands, something is wrong.

11 points by Samuel_Michon 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree that Transmit and 1Password are exemplary Mac OS X user interfaces. The other apps mentioned: not so much. To me, they look like iOS ports. Lots of chrome, wasted screen real estate.

My personal favorites:

Versions - http://versionsapp.com/

Kaleidoscope - http://www.kaleidoscopeapp.com/

Coda - http://panic.com/coda/

Espresso - http://macrabbit.com/espresso/

PixelMator - http://www.pixelmator.com/

BoinxTV - http://www.boinx.com/boinxtv/overview/

LittleSnapper - http://www.realmacsoftware.com/littlesnapper/

OmniFocus - http://www.omnigroup.com/products/omnifocus/

10 points by Daishiman 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I'll probably get downvoted for this, but it looks like the UI for these Mac apps is wildly inconsistent and each app has a very idiosyncratic idea of how it should look, which many times doesn't seem to take usability into account.

I don't think it looks prettier, but to me most modern GTK apps on Ubuntu seem much more consistent and strict as far as respecting the platform UI guidelines.

4 points by mattparcher 10 hours ago 0 replies      
My least-favorite trend in Mac app design: using Helvetica instead of Lucida Grande, the system font, often because Helvetica is the default on iOS (cf. Reeder, a Mac port of an iOS app).

Why is this wrong?
1) Lucida Grande was optimized for legibility on low- and medium-resolution screens [1], and Helvetica is a 50-year-old print font.
2) Lucida Grande is the system font, and other fonts stick out like a sore-thumb, contrary to the consistency designer's strive for [2].

The problem, of course, is that Apple keeps using Helvetica in their own Mac apps, most recently across vast swaths of iPhoto, seemingly for the sole benefit of making it more like an iOS app (especially when full screen), disregarding much of what makes a Mac app unique.

[1] http://www.tug.org/store/lucida/designnotes.html

[2] http://blog.cocoia.com/2008/swiss-interface-syndrome/

8 points by elblanco 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Far too many physical metaphors, I thought we got over that in the early 90's with MS-Bob.

Designers, please, if you are thinking of using wood paneling or shelves in your design, stop, move on to the next idea.

4 points by 51Cards 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Daisy Disk isn't a new idea... the Windows Freeware 'Scanner' by Steffen Gerlach was the first I saw to implement this disk view 8-9 years ago. Still find that utility priceless to this day.


1 point by ComputerGuru 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I would put as number one the new and still-in-beta "Tower" git client for Mac: http://www.git-tower.com/
3 points by foobarbazetc 9 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem with a lot of Mac apps is that:

1. They have glossy websites that talk about how awesome they are.
2. They have copy that claims they have awesome UI.
3. You download them, try them, and realize they do almost nothing except look pretty.

It's pretty hard to find exceptions to this.

2 points by lotusleaf1987 12 hours ago 0 replies      
DaisyDisk is really awesome, I use this app a lot on my Macbook Air because disk space is still relatively scarce compared to my other machines. I like it a lot and recommend it.
2 points by gcb 8 hours ago 0 replies      
ah yes, let's praise inconsistent user interfaces...

I only like the SweetFM. wich is nothing clever, they just copied the first version of the official lastFM desktop application (at least how it looked in linux). Probably the guys at lastFM did some usability research and ditched that old version for something more itunesque.

2 points by est 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Hate to say this, but it's been a while since there is any beautiful UI software on Windows.
       cached 20 December 2010 11:59:01 GMT