hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    16 Jan 2011 News
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Shortchanging Your Business with User-Hostile Platforms al3x.net
45 points by ssclafani 2 hours ago   24 comments top 9
7 points by patio11 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
I think developers frequently suffer from "This doesn't flatter my sensibilities, so it must be crap. There is a sense of cosmic justice, so this will hurt the business."

I was told, repeatedly, that Mac owners are Jobs-loving HIG fascists who look down on Java apps. Separately, their conversion rate was double PC owners. Who am I supposed to believe, the experts or my lying eyes?

1 point by jrockway 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
Indeed. These group chat businesses should support open standards like XMPP or IRC. Yes, XMPP and IRC suck, but there are tons of clients available that work with each. If you support one of these, the user can use your "beautiful" web or AIR client, or they can bring their own real client. You get happy users without having to write any code.

I've worked at several jobs with distributed teams, and the one that used IRC was the easiest. (I've also used Outlook Communicator, which is, as you'd guess, the worst fucking software product of all time. Except for Windows and Outlook, of course.)

4 points by aditya 1 hour ago 1 reply      
This is a fascinating question. AIR and the new mobile app frameworks are great for prototyping and getting an app out there really quickly, and perhaps then you can make the decision to either build native apps for your biggest platforms; or not.

Alex is obviously pointing to the verbal minority (of which he is a part), because for every person out there that speaks out against, say, the Tweetdeck AIR app; there are probably millions that are satisfied with it and in fact prefer it to the native alternatives (that don't have columns, even though they might be native).

The problem with listening to the verbal minority is that you're then building for the verbal minority, and not the bulk of your true user base.

Startups are all about priorities, right? And logically you should prioritize things that will materially affect your business (such as stability) over things that aren't real problems but get written up anyway. EDIT: I mean, he did leave Campfire because of a stability issue, even though there's a native app for it ;-)

3 points by keyle 2 hours ago 0 replies      
He has a point. I'm an ex-air developer. I moved to WPF. So yes, ok there are heaps of bad air app out there, because the learning curve is so low.

That being said I think AIR can be very close to native. It takes that extra mile of programming that most don't do. In the end, you might as well make it native.

But think about this for a moment. An AIR app can and does run well on both Mac and PC. I understand native is better, but it's not a simple matter of money and time. You need to find the skills for a decent mac developer. Most of them are gone crusading in the world of iOS and too busy to make a mac client. .NET developers are plentiful though. my 5c.

3 points by nestlequ1k 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Ditched Balsamiq a long time ago for this very reason. Would have been a good app if he didn't decide to build it on such a terrible foundation.

Still, he seems to be doing fine business wise. Maybe it's not as big a deal as al3x makes it out to be.

2 points by antimatter15 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I've never liked AIR and QT/WebKit apps (or even the Opera web browser) because there's this feeling similar to that of Uncanny Valley, where something just doesn't feel right. The scroll bar doesn't work well, something happens too fast or too slow, selection doesn't behave as it should, the buttons look weird. Something along those lines.
2 points by iamclovin 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I guess the same applies for apps in the mobile space too. iOS Apps built using frameworks such as Titanium and PhoneGap always seem a little off.

There is an interesting discussion about this in Dan Benjamin's latest episode of the 'Build And Analyze' series with Marco Arment. http://5by5.tv/buildanalyze/8

2 points by StavrosK 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Am I the only one who wants a JS-HTML combo app that will be both cross-platform and fast, and not one native app for each platform for most of the apps?
0 points by hightowk 35 minutes ago 0 replies      
I have built some pretty impressive AIR apps for our customers (5 apps, 40 KSLOC or so total). It takes a good level of software discipline to make apps that perform, can be reused and are maintainable (like any good desktop app). We chose AIR because of Linux / Window cross compatibility and its beautiful appearance.
The Ambiguity of Open and H.264 vs. VP8 antimatter15.com
81 points by antimatter15 5 hours ago   32 comments top 9
23 points by ergo98 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Fantastic article. This is one of very few entries on this debacle that is actually informed and insightful.
13 points by Athtar 3 hours ago 2 replies      
>H.264 is an open standard. It was developed by a committee, standardized, reviewed by many engineers and developers for multiple companies and has been standardized for use with a multitude of containers and devices.

>VP8 is not a standard. It was developed secretly by a single company, and until recently, had only a single working implementation. The public wasn't open to collaboration on the specification until the bitstream spec was frozen, including the bugs that existed within.

This is an interesting point. One I had never even realized.

4 points by wallflower 2 hours ago 2 replies      
> MPEG LA has a royalty cap so that companies selling high-volume products know beforehand the maximum amount of royalties they'll have to pay to MPEG LA in a given year. The current $5 million cap really isn't much for a big player possibly generating many billions of annual revenues with products that include an AVC/H.264 encoder and/or decoder.


6 points by te_chris 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Very good summary of the issue. I particularly like the point that <video> is, in and of itself, open and as such the establishment of a consistent baseline codec in VP8 could actually allow h.26x to flourish and innovate as the codec of choice for high-quality content.
6 points by mryall 3 hours ago 2 replies      
This is a great post and clarified quite a few confusing points of the discussion for me.

One area that unfortunately it didn't really cover was the impact of widely available hardware and GPU-accelerated decoding for H.264. Surely the millions of non-PC devices being sold with H.264 support (even baseline) will have some effect on the outcome of the new video format war.

1 point by shuri 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
Could this be a move to get the H.264 patent holders to release their patent hold on the standard?
2 points by TechNewb 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The biggest part of the 'rage' towards Google over the drop of Chrome's native ability to use H.264 in the <video> tag, is that Google is trying to spin as its for the benefit of innovation. Which is not the case. Flash has been great, but it's not needed for the distribution of video content, and the fact that WebM is a lawsuit waiting to happen does not help either.

Great article though!

0 points by sigzero 3 hours ago 2 replies      
As the end user...I only care about which one gives me the best experience period.
-1 point by Herring 3 hours ago 1 reply      
>open standard

>incompatible with open source

Does this make sense to anyone? It seems to me the word open doesn't mean much now.

Development and testing of the Stuxnet worm nytimes.com
41 points by jonburs 3 hours ago   3 comments top 2
9 points by dmix 2 hours ago 0 replies      
It's seemingly safe to believe that there is a very high probability that the US and Israel are behind Stuxnet.

According to Wikipedia, if this is true than 2010 had the first occurrence of cyber-warfare between nation states in our history.


1 point by endtime 36 minutes ago 1 reply      
Why is it so surprising/impressive that the worm was tested on centrifuges similar to those it was targeting? More than once, the article emphasizes that this is unusual and interesting...am I missing something?
Why Minecraft Matters crunchgear.com
108 points by solipsist 7 hours ago   46 comments top 14
25 points by ugh 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Minecraft's story is even more impressive than the article makes it seem. The game was not developed by a few people, it was developed by one guy (“Notch”). He hired six people only recently and they started working together around Winter 2010/2011.

He now gets help with the business and support side of running a company but only one of the developers he hired is working on the game with him together. The other developer is getting their next game up and running.

What's also interesting is that Notch does not want to run the business, at least not at the scale at which it is now. He hired people to do that for him.

19 points by Goladus 5 hours ago 2 replies      
The reason you should care is because a team of four or five people using free libraries and cross-platform tools have just made a mockery of the last five years of franchise-oriented, $50 million budget, yearly-release, AAA game development.

Eh, I would not say that. Minecraft is not seriously competing with AAA big-budget titles like God of War. They have completely different audiences. Yes, GoW is extraordinarily expensive to create, but it offers a gameplay experience that Minecraft doesn't and never will. Or at least, by the time minecraft can procedurally generate an experience like GoW, the big-budget AAA franchises will have moved on to something flashier.

And certain franchise titles are attractive because of the licensing, eg the NFL. That is unfortunate but not something the gaming industry can do much about immediately.

11 points by SirWart 4 hours ago 1 reply      
To me, the more interesting part about minecraft's success is that it gets a lot of people doing things that look like work to me for fun. Also, it does this with a high learning curve and without using any kind of reward schedule mechanics that are in vogue now. As far as I can tell (and I've only watched others play), the appeal is based on the joy of creation and sharing your creations, and the difficulty of it actually enhances the experience. It just seems so fresh compared to what everyone else is doing.
1 point by JeanPierre 26 minutes ago 0 replies      
Something interesting to note is that this would've been extremely much harder to do in 2000. Small companies and one-man teams would have a hard time publishing games and gain enough ground to stand a chance against the giants at that time.

And when we look at the quality from that time period - A little over a decade ago - games like Diablo, Starcraft, Quake (2) and Unreal were the ones with the best quality. With a bit of effort, indie developers and startups these days can easily beat the quality they had.

If this continues, what will we see in 2020? As the quality a game can achieve converges towards some limit (At least I'm assuming so), will indie games be more and more common and actually manage to make games that will challenge big-budget franchises?

5 points by klbarry 3 hours ago 1 reply      
An interesting note here for those of who who like Minecraft: There has been another sandbox game called Dwarf Fortress out for a while now, which Notch said he used as a big inspiration for Minecraft. Dwarf Fortress lets you build out your world in millions of unique ways, liquid flow mechanics are accurate, gravity, civilization actions, pretty much everything.

However, one huge warning: The learning curve is 100 times harder than Minecrafts, and the base art for he game is asci!(although you can upgrade it with user made graphic packs) It will also take all of your processing power.

7 points by zitterbewegung 5 hours ago 2 replies      
This is a great article on techcrunch on why the gaming industry needs to wake up and try new things and not keep on going for IP that has already been done before again and again. Sometimes gamers actually want new and fresh games not the next FPS.
4 points by solipsist 4 hours ago 2 replies      

   "Braid and Minecraft are both examples of how a few good
ideas, executed in an accessible and affordable way, will
outsell franchises by orders of magnitude."

This just about sums it up. Many indie developers are harnessing potential new game genres. They're finding low-budget ways to create addictive games with a high chance of becoming viral. They're finding classic ideas to expand on and platforms to build off of. Big game publishers are failing to do this. They'll spend tons of money, yet lack the innovation to break through in these new areas of the market.

2 points by solipsist 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Notch seems to be adopting Google's 10% time (to some extent), but rather with 50% time.

   "Because I want to avoid us just focusing on reaching release,
I suggested that we should dedicate 50% of the development time
in Minecraft towards adding fun new stuff. Basically, any developer
working on the game (two people at the moment) can just come up with
something they'd want to add on a day-to-day basis, as long as the
rest of the team thinks it's a decent idea. If it ends up being fun,
it gets added." [1]

Sure, that 50% time will still be spent working on Minecraft. But it won't be the same as the other 50% time when the developers are trying to reach deadlines and so forth. I think that Notch is now taking control of how the company functions, which is a good thing. Before, it was just him and there was nothing but meeting deadlines. Now that he has more people to help him, he can focus on fun things like this.

[1] - http://notch.tumblr.com/post/2687176736/information-dump-inc...

2 points by kayoone 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Notch is a really refreshing person. Instead of all the wannabe-entrepreneurs that want to build apps/games for money (mostly), he just seems to really enjoy what hes doing. I also think all the money doesnt mean too much to him, other than he now has the freedom to only do "fun stuff".
The fact that he doesnt want to run the business and just keep coding underlines that even more.
3 points by Tycho 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Jeez, someone cut APB some slack. It may have been a flop but it was hardly your run-of-the-mill linear action game.
2 points by sliverstorm 4 hours ago 1 reply      
But it also doesn't have ... a scruffy 30-ish white protagonist, ... or any of the other hundred things that plague gamers in practically every major release.

I find myself thinking only of Half Life and Portal. Half Life, in which people were crazy about Gordon Freeman (and he fit the part) and Portal, which did not do this in the slightest.

Has it become conspicuously common? I've fallen a bit out of touch with modern games.

2 points by Roritharr 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This fits right into the pattern we've seen in the game development scene for the last two years. It's getting cheaper and easier for indie gamers to go from zero to hero every day.
If you look at tools like Unity3D then its easy to imagine that the dream of so many people to be able to get a sustainable income from gamedevelopment AND gamedesign(people working as a coding monkey at EA aren't really living the dream, are they?) is closer than ever.

In a while i'll show HN my project relating to this. :)

2 points by mmb 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I like that Minecraft is proof you can write something cool in Java, a language considered by many to be corporate and boring.

All Java haters should watch the video of Notch coding away in Eclipse.

-3 points by Joakal 4 hours ago 2 replies      
FPS + Farmville = Profit?
GPL, ScummVM and violations sev-notes.blogspot.com
25 points by CrazedGeek 3 hours ago   1 comment top
1 point by jerf 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Any particular reason this is coming up now? Has there been a change in the situation since June 2009? Honest question; I'm not saying this isn't interesting, I'm just curious if there's any particular reason to bring it up again today.
Nedtries: an ordered container faster than hash tables and red-black trees nedprod.com
13 points by jasonwatkinspdx 1 hour ago   2 comments top 2
2 points by beagle3 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
djb's "critbit" trees are much more interesting, I think: They are basically binary patricia trees (like nedtries, if I understand correctly). However, djb's observation is that in order to locate a specific string, you only have to look at the "critical" bits - the bits that are different between different entries in the database.

So, for example, if key 1 differs from key 2 (top two keys in the tree) in bit 317, you check bit 317, and you know which one of them it is NOT (and also, which branch of the tree it is not). Proceed recursively -- most keys will, in practice, be identified by log2(n) bits where n is the number of keys in the table, NOT the length of the key.

3 points by jasonwatkinspdx 1 hour ago 0 replies      
These are binary tries with some interesting optimizations, in particular using special instructions supported on all modern cpus to skip common prefixes at the start of looking up.

According to the author's benchmarks they offer very consistent performance between insert and access operations, which seems to be key to why they perform better than R-B trees. Since tries don't need to re balance on insert we avoid memory operations R-B trees spend reorganizing interior nodes. Even though these are amortized in the R-B, we're still saving work.

Likewise, these are faster than small hash tables since we avoid resizing-rehashing overhead. Searching the binary trie is also likely faster than following a collision linked list we might find in a naive hash table implementation. However, for larger containers hashes begin to catch up, since at these sizes the trie involves increasingly more memory accesses.

I'd like to see these tries compared to generalized cuckoo hashing.

I'd also like to see them compared to the bagwell array mapped tries used by clojure and others.

The Story of BankSimple carnegiemellontoday.com
25 points by ssclafani 3 hours ago   7 comments top 4
2 points by johnnygood 37 minutes ago 0 replies      
I guess I don't see how BankSimple can be truly better. First, there are already no-branch banks like ING-Direct. Second, Credit Unions exist.

BankSimple seems to be a no-branch bank like ING-Direct. They're presenting themselves as being better. How are they different? Well, they're pushing the idea of no-fees, better customer service, and better mobile banking. In order to achieve that, they'll have to be more efficient or accept a lower profit margin. Banks have healthy margins so there is some room there, but there are other industries with higher margins.

The second piece is that there are already not-for-profit banks. They're called Credit Unions. They exist to give their customers (who are their owners) the best deal they can. In order to be better than credit unions, they'll have to be significantly more efficient rather than simply relying on lower margins.

Part of what makes me skeptical is that they aren't creating a bank. They're partnering with currently chartered banks. This is probably because it's very difficult to create a bank and there's a lot of regulation to deal with. However, this somewhat limits what they can do to give me a better deal than a bank (since they're just reselling the product of another bank). Now, banks vary in how good of a deal they give you so part of their product might simply be getting you a good account under their brand. But part of this means that BankSimple won't be doing what banks normally do with deposits. Banks normally lend it out or invest it. BankSimple will be parking it in another account. So, if they aren't charging fees, how will they make their money? Maybe they've found an account that will give them 1% interest and they'll pass on 0.5% interest to me. However, why shouldn't I just bypass them? If they're doing things like refunding ATM fees, covering overdraft fees, etc. will the interest difference cover that?

I'm not saying that it can't be done. They stress no-fees and earning more interest. If they aren't lending the money out themselves, that will be hard to do - especially considering that they're claiming the best customer service, best software, etc. Where are they making their money? Not off fees and they aren't lending it out, but rather relying on other banks.

I'd really love to see their business plan since I assume they've addressed these things. Maybe wholesale banking exists and offers them a lot more. Maybe credit unions are woefully inefficient. I'm excited for their launch, but I'm not unhappy with my credit union.

3 points by gatsby 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I like their site: https://banksimple.com/

Simple design, easy navigation, and a nice overview of the important features. My favorite part of the site is at the bottom of the page: "The BankSimple Team." It's rare but refreshing to see people attach their names, bios, and pictures to banks and financial companies. I'm excited for their launch - these guys are clearly taking some steps in the right direction.

3 points by corin_ 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Not often do I really care when a product/service is only availale in a country other than mine (UK), but with BankSimple I am genuinely gutted.

Desperately hope they find huge success and expand overseas.

1 point by dusing 58 minutes ago 1 reply      
There is getting to be too much hype about BankSimple and too little public launching...
HTTP Response Splitting Vulnerability on reddit.com nealpoole.com
37 points by there 5 hours ago   23 comments top 6
5 points by pak 3 hours ago 2 replies      
By comparison, PHP actually prevents you from using \r\n in your header() calls to inadvertently make multiple headers or break off into the body. It spits out a

  Warning: Header may not contain more than a single header, new line detected.

and drops the header.

10 points by tptacek 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice finding, Neal. Want a job?

Oh, wait.

2 points by d_r 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it ever reasonable to pass a redirect URL directly via the GET parameters? One other concern would be the ease of phishing attacks, e.g.


User logs in to Goodsite, and is redirected to a similar-looking page on Badsite.

One safer alternative would be to store the redirect URL in the session (presuming one is available) and read it back later.

6 points by nbpoole 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Aww, someone submitted my blog post. :)
1 point by atomical 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Was this discovered by chance or was it garnered through an exploit scanner/crawler of some sort? Looking at matasano I'm wondering if exploit scanning is a method of acquiring new customers.
1 point by k0nad 3 hours ago 2 replies      
also, add httponly to your cookies then javascript cant see them
Roll your own toy UNIX-clone OS jamesmolloy.co.uk
74 points by Rusky 8 hours ago   4 comments top 4
3 points by tseabrooks 2 hours ago 0 replies      
My Op Sys class in school was designed around compiling your own toy 'unix' kernel and rewriting large portions of it from scratch for educational reasons. We used the Tanenbaum book and his "Minix" system. It was far and away the most informative class I had in school.
1 point by danieldk 2 hours ago 0 replies      
OSKit used to be the nicest way to roll your own UNIX:

Unfortunately, the project seems to be dead.

6 points by wigginus 5 hours ago 0 replies      
1 point by jacquesm 3 hours ago 0 replies      
ranking bug: why is a 'dead' spam comment ranked higher than a 5 upvote comment?
One startup's journey into SEO cam.ly
30 points by danecjensen 4 hours ago   12 comments top 4
2 points by acangiano 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Here are a few positive factors that influence your ranking:

- Exact match keywords are an absolute killer when it comes to ranking

- Local beats global if your target is geographic (e.g., mysite.ca will perform better than mysite.com in Canada, particularly if the .ca is hosted in Canada)

- Number of backlinks to the specific page

- Number of backlinks to the whole domain

- Popularity of backlinks

- A variety of backlinks. Your backlinks need to look natural to Google. You want a backlink pyramid, so don't have 100 PR5 backlinks, and 10 PR0 ones. The web doesn't work that way, and Google knows it.

- For the same reason, have no follow backlinks as well. Whether they carry PR juice or not, it's unnatural for your site not to have a mix of no follow and do follow backlinks.

- Backlinks from .edu/.gov sites

- An aged domain name

- Include the keyword in the url, title tag, description, etc.

- Metatags are still important, even if Google doesn't care about them.

- Make your site as fast as you can

- Have an XML sitemap

- PubSubHubbub is excellent to get your site noticed/indexed by Google

- The number of indexed pages on your site

- How frequently is your site updated (often is better than rarely)

- Make your content unique. Duplicate content is not as much of a big deal as they say it is, but you definitely don't want to look like an autoblog in the eyes of Google (particularly in the early days of your site).

- A public whois record

- A domain registered for more than one year

- Get your site indexed in DMOZ and Yahoo Directory

1 point by graupel 1 minute ago 0 replies      
Interesting writeup; I also may buy one of your cameras since we're having twins in May!
4 points by naithemilkman 3 hours ago 4 replies      
I've done my fair share of research on SEO as well during my startup and I can sum it up in one sentence.

Assuming equal on-site optimisations, he with more backlinks wins.

2 points by JeffL 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Thanks for the article. I think it will be helpful.

Can I ask, either OP or anyone else, what sort of percent of your traffic comes from SEO? I've seen it stated on the web that 70%-80% of traffic comes from searches, but for me, it's more like 5%, with adwords and direct links being the rest.

Py a la Node: running python code in node.js neversaw.us
9 points by ma2rten 2 hours ago   discuss
Show HN: Hacker News with tweets from your friends (yc.backtype.com)
22 points by omakase 1 hour ago   4 comments top 4
1 point by PStamatiou 40 minutes ago 0 replies      
1 point by sahillavingia 1 hour ago 0 replies      
3 points by komlenic 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Very nice! Displaying the tweets on hover is a nice touch.
3 points by bakkdoor 1 hour ago 0 replies      
it's super effective!
DropQuest 2011 dropbox.com
75 points by ambiate 8 hours ago   74 comments top 21
5 points by kingkawn 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A nice side benefit of this was discovering https://www.dropbox.com/edu, which doubles your space bonus from all referrals. I'm at 13.8gb now with a free account.
4 points by ugh 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Whew. That was exhilarating. And damn OS X Preview and Color Meter for not showing the right colors. (I was too late for any of the prizes but I'm very happy about the 1GB. Oh, and the scavenger hunt itself was also fun and cleverly designed.)
3 points by rlm 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Walkthrough: http://dropbox.pastebin.com/J5SkmzL6

A lot of people are stuck, and some might just want the extra 1GB, so I thought this could help. Of course, it contains spoilers.

(I am not the creator of the list, I just found it on twitter after I completed)

4 points by riobard 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Their blog and forum are constantly refusing connections……
2 points by ambiate 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I bombed out at https://www.dropbox.com/votebox/3712/frozen-yogurt and wasted my entire day. I commend Dropbox for this awesome Saturday.
2 points by endtime 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Very cool. Can anyone confirm that getting a 500 from nginx when trying to go to the forums for step 2 isn't part of the puzzle?
7 points by ernestipark 7 hours ago 0 replies      
There goes productivity for the rest of the day...
1 point by geekfactor 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Me: "Cool, that was fun, and I got another gig of space."

My wife: "Yes, much better than forcing the kids to open Dropbox accounts."

(Which I did once, when I needed to share a big file!)


1 point by wmwong 4 hours ago 0 replies      
In case anyone has finished and is looking for more puzzles just for fun, you can try the original http://www.deathball.net/notpron/

No prizes though :(

1 point by ptomato 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I have a sneaking suspicion that the finish line isn't, even with the hall of fame and all that. Oh well.
3 points by gotwilly 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a really creative way for dropbox to engage their customers.
1 point by zzleeper 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Hey guys, I'm totally stuck on 39.. any advice?? :S
2 points by PanMan 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Login only link :(
1 point by geekfactor 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it possible that Step 17 is platform dependent?
3 points by inji 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Dropbox <3 You
1 point by rkudeshi 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Officially giving up. Level 21 seems to be buggy - I've shared the folder multiple times with dropquest@dropbox.com and nothing shows up.
0 points by da5e 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This thing was like trying to get support from Google. Step Two divide a number. Go to the forums. Then what?
1 point by rkudeshi 7 hours ago 6 replies      
Stuck on Level 19...how far is everyone else?
1 point by ddrmaxgt37 6 hours ago 0 replies      
help with 29?
1 point by ddrmaxgt37 6 hours ago 0 replies      
stuck on 27...
Bruce Schneier: Google And Facebook's Privacy Illusion forbes.com
41 points by taylorbuley 7 hours ago   8 comments top 4
8 points by DanielBMarkham 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is the best thing I've read of Bruce's in a while.

The huge amount of social change -- instituted by the companies in question and others -- would have been science fiction or fantasy just 20 years ago. We've never dumped the personal details of billions to each other like we are now. People can wave their hands around and say it's good, or that it's bad, but we simply don't know. We do know that it's big. One of the biggest changes mankind has had in social structure and it's just happening simply because most folks haven't thought through exactly what they're doing when they participate in various forms on the internet. It's free, so they think it must be harmless.

Ironically, we could end up taking an old slogan and changing it around it for new usage: "Freedom isn't free"

6 points by elwin 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This just made me realize:

Online privacy controls are like DRM. They are both attempts to control what happens to information after giving someone else complete control over it.

"We may not mind sharing our personal lives and thoughts, but we want to control how, where and with whom. A privacy failure is a control failure."

Paraphrase: "We may not mind consumption of our music and movies, but we want to control how, where and with whom. A copy restriction failure is a control failure."

If a video can be decrypted for viewing, it can be decrypted for torrenting. If Facebook can show your messages to your friends, they can show them to advertisers.

Bruce suggests legislation, but I'm afraid it will be as futile as the DMCA.

1 point by jiganti 54 minutes ago 0 replies      
The crux of the whole internet privacy issue is this: will people be culturally conditioned to accept whatever privacy norm their society pushes on them, or is it ingrained in our nature to find only a certain level of privacy acceptable? It's your classic nature/nurture question.
2 points by magicalist 4 hours ago 1 reply      
keeping google and facebook's actions fully in the light is good (and stronger privacy laws would be great), but it continues to be rather intellectually dishonest to allude to that eric schmidt quote in this context.

actually I think the recent twitter subpoena business showed him to be exactly right. hopefully no one was stupid enough to be conducting wikileaks business via twitter DMs:

Q: People are treating Google like their most trusted friend. Should they be?

A: I think judgement matters… If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. But if you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines including Google do retain this information for some time, and it's important, for example that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act. It is possible that that information could be made available to the authorities.

A Tale of Two Terminals: Beijing Terminal 3 and Heathrow Terminal 5 leanessays.com
38 points by admp 7 hours ago   22 comments top 9
4 points by smutticus 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Heathrow is a mess. Everyone who travels regularly to southern England does everything they can to avoid it when flying.

I don't know anything about this airport in Beijing. But comparing airports to Heathrow is just too easy. Any airport would look well managed compared to Heathrow.

6 points by forensic 4 hours ago 4 replies      
The only real thing he studied in this comparison is rehearsal and timing.

The British death marched to an unrealistically optimistic date while the Chinese were finished and testing long before the ship date.

Socio-technical systems theory is interesting but he doesn't explain how the Chinese did this better. The Chinese aren't exactly known for empowering their workers.

1 point by maxklein 3 hours ago 1 reply      
China is successful with these things because they have a large number of excess staff, and the staff are very obedient. Britain typically has too few staff, and the staff are very independent.

A person who has been to a chinese restaurant in china will understand the difference.

6 points by kiujhygthyujik 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Well one was built by a state elite gerontocracy who have centuries of being in charge and an utter contempt for the workers building the terminal and the ultimate users.

and the other was buill by the chinese

4 points by willyt 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Also compare Heathrow Terminal 5 with Madrid Barajas latest terminal. Both designed by the same British architectural firm, Barajas took about half the time to build, cost less and is an uncompromised design.
1 point by jlees 3 hours ago 0 replies      
A lot of the second half of this article could be summarised as "Think about people if your software/system/airport involves them." However, I'm not entirely convinced by her argument that this was the main flaw. Release without thorough testing and stupid bugs (not removing a safety patch) seem more to blame.
1 point by drinian 3 hours ago 0 replies      
While it's a good, didactic article, it is very much worth noting that she doesn't have much to say about Beijing's design processes. Presumably they are much more opaque than the UK's. How are the two terminals doing now, comparatively?
1 point by sabj 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This isn't really a fair comparison, as has been noted elsewhere here. Heathrow is an exceptionally poor example of airport construction and operation. There were fewer constraints at hand in the construction of the new Beijing terminal as well - so if thing X went wrong, I think there was probably less ability to delay matters.
1 point by ojbyrne 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I found it weird that Deming wasn't mentioned anywhere in the second half of the article.
Ranking Cute Animals: A Stock Market Experiment npr.org
18 points by timr 5 hours ago   discuss
10 petabytes - visualized backblaze.com
61 points by geekfactor 10 hours ago   38 comments top 12
41 points by jacquesm 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I'll give you a much more compact way to envision 10 Pb:

10 Petabytes is 10,000,000,000,000,000 bytes or 80,000,000,000,000,000 bits, divided by 8,000,000,000 bits per full human genome (2 bits per base-pair) that's about 10,000,000 cells (not red blood cells because they don't contain DNA), or about 5 milliliters! (10 um diameter on average so about 500 cubic um, so 2 million or so per ml), and that includes all the stuff besides the DNA in the cells.

Hard disk storage certainly is impressively compact but it still has a long way to go before we beat mother nature.

-1 already eh? Downmodders please correct my math or say what you think is wrong with the comparison, I note the article ends on: "How would you visualize ten petabytes of storage?".

7 points by cperciva 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Anyone want to guess how much data they actually have stored?

Backblaze's pods are a data-loss nightmare -- lots of single points of failure which will wipe out many TB of data at a time -- and backblaze has stated that they replicate data across multiple pods. Given that the 10 PB seems to be the amount of raw storage backblaze has, I'm guessing that the amount of actual data stored is much less -- depending on what sort of erasure correction scheme they're using, of course. (They're still much bigger than Tarsnap, of course!)

6 points by kayoone 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I am not american, nor do we use inches here in germany but when looking at #3 it should be noted that 5.75 inches is actually the drive length, not height as they state. Well depends on how you look at it but it confused me in the beginning.
4 points by skeltoac 7 hours ago 0 replies      
If you took all of those drives apart and put the spindles in a pile you'd have a big pile of motors. The Petabox consumes 6kW so let's be generous and call it 60kW of servo motors.

60kW is roughly 80hp. (I know this is a specious comparison in several ways but bear with me.) 80hp is enough power a small but highway-capable motorcycle. A single 60kW brushless DC motor weighs over 100kg. That's heavier than a good many of us HN readers.

Imagine a motor like that bolted to one long spindle of large platters--say the 99cm platters from a 1961 hard drive.

If these platters were remade with the data density of modern 2TB drives, how tall would the spindle be if this giant hard drive had a 10PB capacity? How over- or under-sized would our motor be?

9 points by geekfactor 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I love #3, especially the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!
4 points by xtacy 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Is there any reason why 10 PB was split in that particular combination of 2, 1.5 and 1TB drives?

EDIT: And, just a comparison: Google processes over 20PB of data per day!

1 point by Detrus 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The visualization in storage pods is most helpful. Just put the drives, in their current size in a physical space you can compare to your office.

The skyscraper comparison is fun but misleading. The stack of drives would be very very thin. It would work better if drives were put in one box and that box was compared to a room, house, etc..

There can be other visualizations like electrical power consumption compared to a normal computer. How much time it would take to read/write that data. How many processors are needed to read/write that data in reasonable time, compare their surface area to the our unfolded brain, which is a large cloth napkin.

I think these comparisons would be more useful to people in the field than how many books would be needed to store that much data, the standard pop show example.

1 point by bane 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Amazing, a discussion of data without comparing the internationally accepted unit of "library of congress". I'm more interested in how many LoCs 10 Pb is? If we built a city of LoCs, how many acres would that city be?

These are the questions that keep me up late at night.

1 point by joanou 4 hours ago 0 replies      
That's a sizable operation and difficult to visualize. I'm guessing their failure points reduce potential damage to minimal levels. At AltDrive, we use ZFS RaidZ2 with a number of hot spares. Six drives would have to fail consecutively on a given machine before any data loss... we replace them as they occur. And we have inter-H/W duplication. ZFS is self healing and makes management easy. Additionally we periodically compare the integrity of the user's AES-256 CTR encrypted data against the database records and make corrections if necessary. From our customer's and white label provider's view, it just works.
1 point by drhodes 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Or about 9 (American) football fields covered with 4GB DVDs: https://sites.google.com/site/10petabytes/viz
2 points by husein10 7 hours ago 0 replies      
it'd be rad if you could visualize the ratios to better illustrate the scale.

10 petabytes : 10000 terabytes :: 10000 gigabytes : 10 terabytes

1 point by quinndupont 9 hours ago 2 replies      
My 350GB of music is backed up on Backblaze (a wonderful service), but seeing those visualizations reminded me of the environmental impact of my digital packratting. That's a sizable data center keeping my data happy and backed up.
Who is Using Node.js And Why? Yammer, Bocoup, Proxlet and Yahoo bostinnovation.com
57 points by sliggity 11 hours ago   43 comments top 12
9 points by ericflo 9 hours ago 6 replies      
"We chose node.js for a few reasons. The first was, we simply wanted to play with a new technology."

Well at least he's honest, but this seems like an exceedingly bad reason to choose a technology stack.

4 points by liuliu 6 hours ago 4 replies      
I am interested to see some solutions with Node.js. From my experience (I built a lightweight protocol for multiplayer game with Node.js), it is super easy to program with Node.js and it just works. But the down-side is, you don't really get scalability. Node.js is great in one-process environment, and you don't have any methods for inter-process communication (you can do it based on you tiny protocol, but really, that is not what you want as "inter-process communication" means). Node.js is fast for prototyping, but I am eager to try out Erlang or Go before deployed the current version in production.
1 point by jimmyjazz14 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
We have used Node.js at my company to build a few small web apps. The decision to try node.js was most likely based on the fact that everyone in the office knows javascript already. The experience has been a little love/hate (at least for me).

Personally, I like the idea of asynchronous IO for writing server applications but I would probably go with a slightly more robust language (for me it would be Haskell).

2 points by chaosmachine 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I use it for my domain name generator: http://impossibility.org/

162k searches and counting :)

2 points by SoftwareMaven 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm sorely tempted to use node.js for a project I'm starting now, but my needs require 100% http/s support and its latest release just rebuilt its http/s support.

Since a large portion of our solution is sitting on the browser in extensions, it would be nice to reduce our language footprint by one. If it were a year later, I have no doubt I would.

2 points by x0ner 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I am using Nodejs as an update monitor for a community game. When one person does something, I need to update everyone else. I initially did this with ajax polling back to the server for any updates. While this worked, it seemed slow. Now all I have is a simple nodejs server that accepts web socket connections, and passes information to all connections In total it was about 10 lines of code and it is pretty much real-time.
4 points by sorenbs 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Every web developer should check out node.js because of this test framework if nothing else
1 point by gourneau 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I would like to write a TCP server with node.js can accept 1000s of client connection. Each client would need to publish about 1 timestamp a second to a queue that is unique for the client. That same client would also need to be able to subscribe to one other clients queue, and have that data pushed to it when it get published. The data would not need to persist at all, if there is not a subscriber who wants it discard it.

Any tips on how I should go about doing this? I would like some type of solution that could scale if I put a load balancer in front of it. I have been thinking about using some type of PubSub queue, maybe zeromq, maybe a XMPP server.

2 points by Kilimanjaro 9 hours ago 5 replies      
For a ssjs implementation to win my heart this is how I would like to code my apps:

  require session,models,template

function main(request,response){
data = models.getEntries()
html = template.render('blog',data)

Can not be simpler, hide all complexities from the coder so he can concentrate on building apps, not fighting with code.

3 points by rafaelc 9 hours ago 0 replies      
A full list of companies: https://github.com/ry/node/wiki
4 points by calebelston 9 hours ago 0 replies      
We use Node at Yobongo, and love it. Fantastic for our realtime communication infrastructure.
1 point by budwin 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I've used Node.js to power a little "social doodling" pet project I made: http://letsdrawit.com and I find it a useful way to think about concurrency because there are certain types of race conditions you don't have to consider (for example any critical regions in memory)

It's extremely useful for the "evented" part, but I get the sensation of using node for hosting webpages might be overkill and not the appropriate tool. Instead, I've got the node.js core proxied behind an nginx server hosting static files and ruby rack (for when dynamic content is necessary).

Does anyone see an advantage of using Node to host templated webpages?

Why pi? stanford.edu
95 points by pibefision 15 hours ago   26 comments top 11
32 points by fredoliveira 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Since the article links straight to the video stream (OP: please add a note to the title), here's Knuth's introduction to this particular Christmas Tree Lecture (on Pi):

"Mathematicians have known for almost 300 years that the value of 'n factorial' (the product of the first n positive integers)is approximately equal to n/e to the nth power times the square root of 2(Pi)n, where Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. That's 'Stirling's approximation'. But it hasn't been clear why there is any connection whatever between circles and factorials; the appearance of Pi has seemed to be purely coincidental, one of the amazing accidents of nature. Recently however Johan Wästlund has found a nice explanation of this phenomenon, and the reason turns out to be connected with the theory of trees."

11 points by wallflower 10 hours ago 1 reply      
> Now I will go on with my own experience as a youngster in mathematics. Another thing that my father told me--and I can't quite explain it, because it was more an emotion than a telling--was that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of all circles was always the same, no matter what the size. That didn't seem to me too unobvious, but the ratio had some marvelous property. That was a wonderful number, a deep number, pi. There was a mystery about this number that I didn't quite understand as a youth, but this was a great thing, and the result was that I looked for pi everywhere.

When I was learning later in school how to make the decimals for fractions, and how to make 3 1/8, 1 wrote 3.125 and, thinking I recognized a friend, wrote that it equals pi, the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle. The teacher corrected it to 3.1416.

I illustrate these things to show an influence. The idea that there is a mystery, that there is a wonder about the number was important to me--not what the number was. Very much later, when I was doing experiments in the laboratory--I mean my own home laboratory, fiddling around--no, excuse me, I didn't do experiments, I never did; I just fiddled around. Gradually, through books and manuals, I began to discover there were formulas applicable to electricity in relating the current and resistance, and so on. One day, looking at the formulas in some book or other, I discovered a formula for the frequency of a resonant circuit, which was f = 1/2 pi LC, where L is the inductance and C the capacitance of the... circle? You laugh, but I was very serious then. Pi was a thing with circles, and here is pi coming out of an electric circuit. Where was the circle? Do those of you who laughed know how that comes about?

I have to love the thing. I have to look for it. I have to think about it. And then I realized, of course, that the coils are made in circles. About a half year later, I found another book which gave the inductance of round coils and square coils, and there were other pi's in those formulas. I began to think about it again, and I realized that the pi did not come from the circular coils. I understand it better now; but in my heart I still don't know where that circle is, where that pi comes from.

-Richard Feynman

"What is Science?"

1966 Lecture


29 points by njonsson 13 hours ago 4 replies      
On a purely superficial note, here are Knuth's recent Google searches, according to the Safari search box dropdown list that flashes by at 2:22:

• google calculator

• wolfram alpha

• williams cutlery

• craig gentry

• "the lost chord"

• acrobat scroll speed

• html bulleted list

• html subscript

• doerr "protocol partition number"

7 points by burgerbrain 10 hours ago 1 reply      
`mplayer "mmsh://proedvid.stanford.edu/knuth/musings/101206/101206-knuth-500.wmv?MSWMExt=.asf"`

For those of you who hate it when your browser decides to try to embed videos...

21 points by aeurielesn 13 hours ago 1 reply      
You should add "[video]" (or alike) to the title at least.
12 points by techiferous 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought this was going to be pi's rebuttal to tau. :)
5 points by henning 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Good to see that Knuth's mind is still as sharp as ever.
2 points by tibbon 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Very odd. My browser (Chrome Mac 8.0.552.237) downloads the page (101206-knuth.asx) instead of showing it. Is this a bug on my end or on the hosting end?

EDIT: Nevermind, just realized I was expecting a web page and its a streaming media file. I confused the extension with .asp

7 points by Zolomon 11 hours ago 0 replies      
What's the type of pen he uses while writing/drawing? I really would like to have one of those.
2 points by Lagged2Death 11 hours ago 0 replies      
But what about Preset 3? Has it, at long last, been stored?
Marvin Minsky on Education and Reprogramming One's Mind mit.edu
44 points by nopinsight 10 hours ago   4 comments top 2
6 points by synnik 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I found the logic of this essay to be less than stellar. He rejects early animal-based experiments on learning, but says that Cybernetics is a more promising arena. But he doesn't address his original complaint, that human minds are different than those experimental subjects.

He also made some logical leaps without citations for his sources, nor explanations of the logic used to reach his conclusions.

I get his main point - that people need to become self-aware and teach themselves techniques for their own self improvement. But how can a 6 year old do that? They are simply not yet developed. The human brain is not done developing until one's mid-twenties. That needs to be accounted for when proposing educational changes.

The fact that he presented that had the most substance was that "genius" was strongly correlated with early childhood environments that encouraged very active use of the child's own imagination.

From all of this,I'd be much more apt to draw the conclusion that to improve education, we should just all throw out our TVs.

2 points by nopinsight 10 hours ago 1 reply      
One of the fathers of AI discusses education in a series of essays for the One Laptop per Child project. This last essay about psychology and learning to think is especially interesting, in my opinion.

The last section on "How it can help to think of oneself as a Machine" could really make a difference if we find ways to deploy the ideas to the mass. For now, applying the ideas to oneself can potentially change our own productivity significantly.

For other essays in the series, see http://web.media.mit.edu/~minsky/

Is Chess with Queen Odds a Provable Win? arvindn.livejournal.com
43 points by randomwalker 11 hours ago   35 comments top 7
15 points by Dove 5 hours ago 2 replies      
The links from the article are fascinating. I had never heard of Arimaa before, and am quite intrigued.

And from the linked article by Kasparov (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/feb/11/the-che...) comes this gem:

   In what Rasskin-Gutman explains as Moravec's Paradox, in chess, as in so many 
things, what computers are good at is where humans are weak, and vice versa.
This gave me an idea for an experiment. What if instead of human versus machine
we played as partners? My brainchild saw the light of day in a match in 1998
in León, Spain, and we called it “Advanced Chess.” Each player had a PC at hand
running the chess software of his choice during the game. The idea was to
create the highest level of chess ever played, a synthesis of the best of man
and machine.


In 2005, the online chess-playing site Playchess.com hosted what it called a
“freestyle” chess tournament in which anyone could compete in teams with other
players or computers. Normally, “anti-cheating” algorithms are employed by
online sites to prevent, or at least discourage, players from cheating with
computer assistance. (I wonder if these detection algorithms, which employ
diagnostic analysis of moves and calculate probabilities, are any less
“intelligent” than the playing programs they detect.)

Lured by the substantial prize money, several groups of strong grandmasters
working with several computers at the same time entered the competition. At
first, the results seemed predictable. The teams of human plus machine
dominated even the strongest computers. The chess machine Hydra, which is a
chess-specific supercomputer like Deep Blue, was no match for a strong human
player using a relatively weak laptop. Human strategic guidance combined with
the tactical acuity of a computer was overwhelming.

The surprise came at the conclusion of the event. The winner was revealed to be
not a grandmaster with a state-of-the-art PC but a pair of amateur American
chess players using three computers at the same time. Their skill at
manipulating and “coaching” their computers to look very deeply into positions
effectively counteracted the superior chess understanding of their grandmaster
opponents and the greater computational power of other participants. Weak human
+ machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more
remarkably, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process.

2 points by xenophanes 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If anyone is serious about proving things about chess I would suggest they start by proving things about simpler chess variants.

The variant of chess "wild 5" where your pawns start on the 7th rank and pieces on the 8th (so pawns promote in one move) has far fewer choices than in chess. It's a simpler game. It has a significant advantage for white, much larger than in normal chess. Humans came somewhat near to proving it's a win for white just by learning the (relatively few) openings out to 20 or so moves. At each step there's usually only a couple moves that aren't terrible. For the first six moves there is a single way of playing which is considered best for both sides.

Yet even in this much simpler game which humans are near cracking, I think a pure math type approach would have a very hard time getting anywhere.

If you can't do anything there, you could always try an even simpler game. There is a game called pawns where you start with only your pawns. If you promote you win instantly. Math ought to be able to solve that one. If you crack that, move on to little chess (normal chess but only with pawns and kings). Little chess should no doubt be a draw (you can waste moves with your king unlike in pawns where it's less clear) but proving that would be a good accomplishment I think.

8 points by nas 8 hours ago 2 replies      
> Indeed, if you start from a closed position where strategy dominates and tactics are of relatively little use, top human players can still trounce computers

I haven't been following computer chess as much as I used to be I suspect this is actually untrue. Computer speed has been increasing as always but there has also been massive gains in chess program strength (e.g. compared to old programs when running on the same hardware). For example, Rybka 4 would absolutely crush programs from 10 years ago.

Those combined gains make computer chess programs so strong that I doubt even top players can hold them off even with the position looks quiet. Rybka can defeat GMs even when they have pawn plus first move odds[1]. In one match Rybka had a tiny opening book so the GM had every opportunity to steer the game in a strategic direction.

1. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rybka#Odds_matches_versus_grand...;

2 points by amalcon 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Game researchers don't ignore all Chess-like games that are more difficult for computers. It's just that they've met with very, very limited success in Go. Combined with Go's relative unpopularity outside of southeast Asia, this means you don't hear about it very much.

For example, according to Wikipedia, a computer actually beat a professional Go player for the first time in 2008.

2 points by ig1 8 hours ago 3 replies      
+1 for funding issues.

When I was working on my undergraduate thesis on applying machine learning techniques to board games, I developed the basis of a new method of analyzing board games (using graphs of games and graph isomorphism) but I wasn't able to find anyone who could finance me doing a research masters in it. Although I think part of my issue was that it wasn't obviously Computer Science, nor was it obviously Mathematics.

1 point by jderick 6 hours ago 1 reply      
There is another closely related field that has plenty of real applications: formal verification. Essentially the task is to ensure no reachable state violates some property. The problem is the same as in chess, the reachable state space is enormous. There is probably more funding available for this take on the problem than chess, but it has been studied for decades and there are no easy answers.
1 point by shinkansen 8 hours ago 2 replies      
> What if we make things easier for the machine? It is obvious to a rank beginner that a perfect game with a rook handicap is a win for the side with the material advantage. No, make it a queen! Surely that must be a provable win?

Hm, I'm sure it must be. Although I don't know how you go about proving it, it's a simple matter to force equal trades; black cannot avoid the exchange of pieces forever, and if white plays a perfect game he will always win, without doubt.

> Not so fast. Even against a crushing asymmetry in material, it is not too hard to avoid mate for a couple of dozen moves, which means that calculating all the way to the end of the game is beyond the reach of search-based algorithms.

Okay, just calculate the moves it would take to force the equal exchange of material from a given position. Generally as the game progresses and the board opens up it becomes inescapable.

After a certain point, when enough material has been removed from the board, looking for mate becomes trivial. Esp if you operate with such a commanding advantage as a queen...assuming you can force the equal exchange of all other material, it is possible to calculate checkmate within a couple of moves.

The experiment infrastructure at Google glinden.blogspot.com
22 points by blasdel 8 hours ago   discuss
IPython as a Replacement for Bash (on a Mac) tmsh.posterous.com
33 points by tmsh 10 hours ago   3 comments top
2 points by rflrob 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Having to use a ! for every system command is a dealbreaker for me. Honestly, it would be a dealbreaker even if you only had to do it once per line, but multiples is just too cumbersome to be a good replacement for bash.

If there were some way to put it in "shell mode", where you could avoid that, and perhaps use bang for "this line is now python", that might be okay.

EDIT: I think I misunderstood what he was saying about multiple !'s. I still think ! is too cumbersome to use in front of commands by default, though. Also, when you use !, you don't have any way to test whether a call has run properly (i.e., no $? that I can figure out)

Top Mistakes in Behavior Change slideshare.net
146 points by benreyes 22 hours ago   26 comments top 8
46 points by halo 18 hours ago 7 replies      
The slides in text form:

1. Relying on willpower for long-term change

- Imagine willpower doesn't exist.

2. Attempting big leaps instead of baby steps

- Seek tiny successes, one after another

3. Ignoring how environment shapes behaviors

- Change your life and change your context

4. Trying to stop old behaviors instead of creating new ones

- Focus on action, not avoidance

5. Blaming failures of lack of motivation

- Make the behavior easier to do

6. Underestimating the power of triggers

- No behavior happens without a trigger

7. Believing information leads to action

- We humans aren't so rational

8. Focusing on abstract goals more than concrete behaviors

- Abstract: Get in shape. Concrete: Walk 15 min. today

9. Seeking to changea behavior forever, not for a short time

- A fixed period works better than "forever"

10. Assuming that behavior change is difficult.

- Behavior change is not so hard when you have the right process

Can anyone expand on what they mean by 3 and 6?

2 points by techiferous 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I would add:

#11: Not realizing you can't imagine your future accurately.

Some changes you make are so significant it's like you are playing a whole new game. If you don't realize this, then you will not be a good judge of whether to make the change.

For example, let's say you enjoy playing basketball. Someone comes up holding a football and invites you to play football. You don't realize that he's talking about a new game with new rules and a new environment. You look at his oddly-shaped ball and imagine yourself trying to dribble that ball down the court. You conclude that you wouldn't enjoy football.

I've made numerous significant life changes, among them becoming vegan and going car-free. Both of those decisions are game-changing and so it's really hard to imagine yourself making those changes; you really have to just try it for a while before making up your mind.

For veganism, I often hear people say "I could never give up X" or "What do you eat?". They imagine themselves no longer eating their favorite foods, not realizing that after adjusting to veganism their palate will change and they'll have different favorite foods. And they also don't realize the abundance of vegan foods out there because they've never had an incentive to look, so they just assume they'd be eating salads all the time.

Ditching my car was another game-changer. I wouldn't recommend doing this unless you are in a well-designed city. I moved from Norfolk, Virginia to Boston, Massachusetts and ditched my car in the process. If I had imagined myself in the environment of Norfolk without a car, I would have never been tempted to do so. But I had visited Boston and also had lived for a while in Germany without a car and so I knew what it was like to live in a well-designed city without a car. Even so, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of cost and inconvenience I was getting rid of by not having a car: no more gas-filling eating away my time and money, no more large key fobs filling up my pockets, no more having to ask my friends if they know a good mechanic, no more driving around forever looking for a parking space, etc. etc. All the inconveniences of owning a car were somewhat invisible beforehand and they didn't become quite so apparent until after actually ditching the car.

tl;dr: if you're making a significant life change, you can't accurately imagine what your new situation will be like by extrapolating from your past experiences.

2 points by dkarl 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I think "#2 Attempting big leaps instead of baby steps" should be changed. Attempting big leaps can be very educational and motivational if you're realistic about the fact that you're going to backslide. Making a big change for a week or two while you're highly motivated feels great and establishes some new habits and memories that will be useful to you later when you're having a hard time. It's also a great opportunity to try out new behaviors that are unknown and scary to you. When your motivation and interest are not so high, you will not be able to keep up the changes, but you will benefit from having removed the uncertainty and the first-time inhibition from your new behaviors and activities, and your idea of what _you_ can accomplish will be forever broadened.
6 points by j_baker 19 hours ago 1 reply      
Thank you. Nothing annoys me more than people who blame everything on lack of willpower and motivation.
6 points by weirdcat 19 hours ago 2 replies      
It's like a highly condensed version of Switch (http://heathbrothers.com/switch/, highly recommended)
2 points by Mz 14 hours ago 0 replies      
RE: halo's text summary -- the slides themselves are just text. There are no inspirational pics or anything. You can skip the presentation once you've read his post.

But I think this list leaves out the important detail of understanding/addressing root causes.

1 point by jcro41 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I looked through the site and found this: http://www.behaviorwizard.org/wp/behavior-grid/

It really makes you think about behavior change in a much clearer way.

-2 points by kilian 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Paraphrased: try something new. If it doesn't work, no biggie.

Sound advice.

IPad 2 Likely to Have 2048x1536 Screen Resolution macrumors.com
27 points by siglesias 4 hours ago   37 comments top 11
11 points by necubi 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Assuming that Apple can source such a display, driving it will be very resource intensive. A dual-core CPU will help, but it will also need a powerful (read power hungry) GPU. I have no doubt that Apple is looking at very high resolution displays for the iPad. That doesn't mean that they'll be able to get it ready for this release, though.
10 points by ghshephard 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I really, really hope this is the case. I use my iPad two-three hours a day, and pretty much at the top of my punch list of improvements, is higher resolution. You really do notice it when using press reader, or Zinio to read magazines - the pixelation is very evident on the smaller fonts.
4 points by philwelch 1 hour ago 2 replies      
What I'd really love would be a MacBook with that kind of resolution.
6 points by jim_h 2 hours ago 5 replies      
Highly unlikely unless it's double screens.

2048x1536 on a 10" display is going to be extremely expensive. Doubt it such a display exists now.

3 points by shalmanese 2 hours ago 1 reply      
It would still be a retina display since iPads are held further away that iPhones in typical use.
3 points by Tycho 1 hour ago 0 replies      
That would be nice but what they really need is to make the thing usable outdoors.
1 point by zokier 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
At the same time desktop monitors hover at 100 PPI resolution indefinitely. There has been only minimal improvement on desktop monitor resolution since the good old CRT days.
1 point by Xuzz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Hah, my tweet(s) got quite some attention! I'm not even sure if I found that image myself, but I do remember discussing it on IRC in August (and just recently brought it back up with all the new rumors).

(Lots of attention, and, it seems, lots of follow requests. Future note: don't use a private account to post interesting info from, if it might be referenced around the internet.)

2 points by foobarbazoo 2 hours ago 1 reply      
2048x1536 resolution has a name: 2K (from the digital film world). iPads are already widely used on movie sets; this would more than cement that trend. Hope it's true!!!
1 point by Rusky 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Why would they make an iPad with a resolution nearly as high as their Cinema Display, far more than most of their desktops? I think this is an awful lot of extrapolating- a much better explanation for those images is a sloppy build system.
1 point by rdoherty 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Unless my math is wrong going from 1024x768 to 2048x1536 is quadrupling the resolution, not doubling, as the article states. Am I missing something?
Garry Tan moving on from Posterous and joining YC garry.posterous.com
195 points by j_baker 1 day ago   33 comments top 13
38 points by jw84 1 day ago 2 replies      
I remember Garry, like me, arrived early at the Y Combinator pre-party. He had long hair, kind of like every other Asian friend I had so I figured he must be really smart. Stanford smart.

I shook his hand and he introduced himself as getting an interview slot too. Naturally we conferred and compared notes. Mine was something weird, a scheduling software--we haven't decided yet. His was a photo blog. Well like a photo blog, but easier, the kicker is you only manage it through email.

Oh, I said. That sounds... interesting. Since I was young that was go-to answer for any pitch. The less he explained the more compelling it was. Blogging for your grandma, blogging that anyone can do, blogging that's accessible. I remember asking how long he's been working on it, he said for a few months. I smiled and said he's probably going to get funded.

I didn't, it was my fifth try and became my last.

Throughout the years Posterous' engineering skills, design skills, and marketing skills have made the platform really awesome. Reading his blog, learning his thought process, and seeing the passion he puts into his work, it's inspiring. Very inspiring.

Blogging for grandmas is such a good idea, it's carved a great niche amongst giants WordPress, Blogger, and Tubmlr, and it's growing as a company.

Our career paths took really drastic divergence but seeing what you've done in the past three years is one of the examples of the immense potential working in our little crazy world.

Congrats and good luck.

56 points by ptn 1 day ago 1 reply      
Congrats, Garry! Could you please make the arrows here on HN bigger? I keep clicking the wrong one. Thanks.
8 points by thesethings 22 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm super happy for Garry, but for selfish reasons, I'm bummed out.

I feel like a band i really like was in the studio working on a new album, and a songwriter just left.

I guess i was waiting for another shoe to drop in terms of the realization of the Posterous vision.

Anyway... congrats to Garry. I saw his TWIST interview a while ago, and thought he seemed really nice and had really interesting ideas.

8 points by portman 1 day ago 1 reply      
This is great. I hope that 2-3 years from now we see large numbers of "designers in residence" at VCs and incubators.

See also Jason Putorti's gig (now over) at Bessemer:


18 points by btipling 22 hours ago 3 replies      
Does this mean posterous isn't doing well?
14 points by jolie 1 day ago 0 replies      
Very deft career move, Garry. You'll have more access to more people, see more fresh ideas, and have a much larger megaphone.

Y-C's gonna be awesome for you, but I really can't wait to see what comes next. =)

9 points by danielha 1 day ago 0 replies      
Wow, congrats Garry and have fun!
2 points by b3b0p 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Garry reached out to me for an interview with Posterous. Although, I didn't get the position in the end I was stoked about the fact he even contacted me in the first place. Thanks Gary! And good luck on your future endeavors with YC!
2 points by jonathanjaeger 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm a Posterous user - I personally enjoy the features and layout. I don't necessarily use it for the community aspect, so I can't really compare it to Tumblr in that respect. I have no use for the email function, so I'm glad they incorporated many other aspects that would appeal to me personally.

I was also surprised at how quickly I got a response via a customer service request. Nice.

Congrats to Garry Tan - I always equated him to Posterous since I saw him on This Week in Startups. Hope to hear more about his newest endeavors.

4 points by iamclovin 1 day ago 0 replies      
Congrats Garry! Looking forward to more awesomeness.
1 point by chrisbroadfoot 17 hours ago 0 replies      
Good move, I think!

I'm glad you'll be able to provide high impact work to many startups.

3 points by hank53 22 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a good move. I think Posterous has plateau
3 points by tommy_mcclung 1 day ago 0 replies      
Congrats Gary! Woo!
Build Your Own OS (from scratch) osdever.net
31 points by iwwr 10 hours ago   3 comments top 3
4 points by Rusky 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This tutorial is rather out-of-date and, while it goes a lot farther than the other recent OS link here, takes a long time to do very little.

A more recent tutorial that goes much farther: it describes virtual memory, processes and scheduling, user space and system calls, even a simple in-memory VFS. Link is here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2107618

4 points by ximeng 9 hours ago 0 replies      
May be helpful to compare with the other recent article on this topic here:


2 points by xd 6 hours ago 0 replies      
wow, this brings back memories of alt.os.development and the nondot (http://www.nondot.org/sabre/os/articles) etc. I think I still have a floppy about some place with my dos debug hand written boot loader (anyone remember the magic code?) .. I passed it off as an OS to my class mates in college back in good old 98'.

I also remember having this awesome idea of an OS that had two kernels, so if one crashed the other would taker over it's processes and restart the crashed kernel and pass the processes back .. good days.

Wattvision (YC W09): The Tale of the Mystery Load wattvision.com
44 points by savrajsingh 13 hours ago   14 comments top 4
2 points by joeguilmette 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I immediately wanted to purchase this for our business. My enthusiasm was greeted by a server error msg on the mobile site, with no way of viewing the full site...


2 points by natch 9 hours ago 3 replies      
Why is the Wattvision system $249? What are the big pieces that make the cost so high? I'm wondering if it can be done cheaper.
1 point by hinathan 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Will Wattvision someday be able to tap into the (GE) SmartMeter data that already exists? I'm in a multi-unit condo and my wifi closet is a few hundred feet from our meter stack. Is there any way to interrogate the meter via the onboard mesh radio?
1 point by zakhomuth 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Very cool product!
Things Real People Don't Say About Advertising tpdsaa.tumblr.com
285 points by Byliner 1 day ago   55 comments top 24
18 points by alexophile 1 day ago 3 replies      
You could just as easily make a blog "Things Real People Don't Say About Your App"

"I like the functionality, but it doesn't follow best practices."

or "Things Real People Don't Say About Science"

"These findings are compelling, but I'd like to see some corroborating studies in peer reviewed journals".

Any consumer facing industry is going to have a world of jargon that is inaccessible or ridiculous to the layperson. And similarly, these industries can support those who want to participate but don't have anything to add.

I don't see this as a jab at advertsising (although, it very well may have been intended as such) I see it as a jab at wannabes.

If you still don't believe me, try reading tech job postings...

[edit: typo]

24 points by blhack 1 day ago 3 replies      
I don't think that advertisers want consumers to consciously think these things.



9 points by SandB0x 1 day ago 1 reply      
The best ones work because they use great stock photography where the shots convey a clear message: http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lexcpscLrw1qziezc.jpg
12 points by ggchappell 1 day ago 6 replies      
Interesting. But I disagree with a number of them.

> I love the copy, but it feels off brand ...

I remember the first time I saw a McPizza ad. It talked about how if you didn't like one kind, then you could get a different one. And it felt really strange.

Later I figured it out. Until then, McDonald's ads had always maintained the premise that everyone likes everything they sell.

> If only this solution was more scalable...

I am constantly annoyed at the idea that "scalable" is a meaningless word. Nonsense, it is a precise, well-defined, and useful term. True, it does get misused by marketing people. But the fact is that anyone who is purchasing a large system of any sort, if they know what they're doing, will have some concern for scalability.

> Finally, a place for me to share MY story!

Isn't this a huge reason for people going to blogging platforms?

On the other hand:

> This website's music is great - turn it up!

Definitely. No one has ever said that, ever, in the history of the web.

8 points by Stormbringer 1 day ago 1 reply      
In the real world, people hate advertising.

This is why as an app developer I am deeply sceptical about Google's model. Okay, so the consumer saves a buck, but then you chip away at their goodwill every time you show an ad. And note, when you're showing an ad, to make it effective you have to make it intrusive, you either have to lock them out of the free functionality for a while or you need to make it eye-catching.

I don't know anyone that said "I'm so glad Google bought Youtube and plastered ads all over the videos".

People hate advertising so much they will go out of their way to avoid it.

In economic terms, as an app developer the way I see it is that free+ads is really just burning up my user's good will to enrich Google. The more I annoy my customers like this, the less likely they are to recommend my app. To the extent that it is less than a zero-sum game... it's not just an even 50:50 trade-off between for pay and ad-supported.

7 points by zck 1 day ago 3 replies      
This is a mix of half-amusing misconceptions -- "Of course I'll spend eight minutes of my life watching your branded content" -- and details that advertisers should care about -- "I love the copy, but it feels off brand". Most of the pictures fall into the latter, and are very "inside baseball". Why would you expect "real people" to talk like that, or chastise advertisers for doing so? People who buy from Amazon don't care how many servers Amazon has allocated to recommend products to them, but Amazon engineers certainly care. People searching Google don't care about the inner workings of how MapReduce distributes the work over multiple servers.

This website feels like a bunch of immature complaints and useless mockery.

14 points by bmr 1 day ago 1 reply      
Maybe not, but those things may still wield pretty heavy influence. Advertising is a strange world of subconscious desires and difficult-to-rationalize preferences (colors and shapes of buttons, for example).
7 points by nobody_nowhere 1 day ago 0 replies      
In case you're wondering -- yes, the non-real people in the ad world say this shit -- all. the. time. And without irony.
2 points by mmaunder 1 day ago 0 replies      
"This website's music is great, turn it up!" - LMAO!

The funniest part is that most of this stuff actually works: on message copy, brand structure (http://bit.ly/fmyD7T), the word "solution" has sold hardware for 3 decades, buzzwords like "social currency" causing enough confusion to get your attention, focusing on intent increasing conversions/revenue, font size increasing conversions, branded apps (REI ski report, Oakley surf report), website users love introspection, stock photos increasing conversion, focusing on benefits (value prop).

5 points by PixelRobot 1 day ago 0 replies      
Marketing people say the darndest things.

It reminds me to this youtube video somebody posted recently on Twitter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRDhx8Lo37E It's totally viral!

No, I'm not related to the video or whoever made it.

3 points by lkozma 1 day ago 0 replies      
2 points by iuguy 1 day ago 2 replies      
If anyone wants to see an incredible look into how Sigmund Freud's research was turned around to manipulate people into consuming more, then Adam Curtis' excellent The Century of The Self is available to watch here: http://thoughtmaybe.com/video/the-century-of-the-self

If you've never seen an Adam Curtis documentary before, this is a good one to start with. His style and delivery is unique among documentary filmmakers and is definitely worth a watch.

1 point by jarek 1 day ago 0 replies      
I work at an interactive agency and none of your experiences hold true for me. It might be time to upgrade your employer.
1 point by mambodog 23 hours ago 0 replies      
This is by the same guy as Never Said About Restaurant Websites: http://neversaidaboutrestaurantwebsites.tumblr.com/
2 points by andreyf 1 day ago 0 replies      
I thought the music on pinkberry's website was pretty cool: http://www.pinkberry.com/
2 points by klbarry 1 day ago 0 replies      
They wouldn't say it those terms, but they might very well think it or say it in other terms. You wouldn't say, "Holy shit! This call to action button is better" but you might want to click it more.
1 point by wallflower 1 day ago 0 replies      
The address http://tpdsaa.tumblr.com/ makes me think the blog was originally missing the baiting 'Real' adjective.
1 point by benreesman 23 hours ago 0 replies      
where's the call to action?! I can't find the fucking call to action!
2 points by anorwell 1 day ago 1 reply      
> I wonder if my user experience is living up to their intentions

I think this a lot, actually.

> Hooray, we fall into the correct segment

If segment means target demographic, then I think this a lot too.

2 points by gills 1 day ago 1 reply      
Let's just go ahead and coin the term "lol ads".
1 point by humj 1 day ago 0 replies      
I don't think the post was intended to say that advertisers
actually think that people talk or even think this way, I
think the post was to point out that often, marketers will
have a certain perspective on their product and try to
force that perspective onto its users. The reality is,
users don't care about your perspective. They only care
whether or not the product meets their needs.
1 point by superted 19 hours ago 0 replies      
On a similar note: http://thehairpin.com/2011/01/women-laughing-alone-with-sala...

"Women Laughing Alone With Salad"

0 points by taiyab 1 day ago 0 replies      
The use of common stock photography just makes it even better lol
       cached 16 January 2011 03:59:01 GMT