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Google: Bing Is Cheating, Copying Our Search Results searchengineland.com
169 points by illdave 1 hour ago   76 comments top 25
23 points by Matt_Cutts 29 minutes ago 3 replies      
I had a front row seat for this test. I believe the experiment we ran provides conclusive proof. I'm on a panel with a representative from Bing later today and I'll ask Bing about this directly.
28 points by raganwald 1 hour ago 4 replies      
Hmmm. Let's say that Bing sets up a script that sends queries to Google and then records the results. That's clearly copying. But what Bing does is when you use its toolbar, it watches what you do and uses that information to rank results. Is that really copying? It showed Google's Honeypot page because Google's engineers were clicking on the Honeypot page with the toolbar installed. That isn't copying Google's results, that's copying the actions of Bing toolbar users.

This can easily be demonstrated. Google can set up a second honeypot but instruct its engineers not to click on the link, ever. If it shows up in Bing's results, then Bing is watching what Google returns and scraping its results.

But if the second Honeypot doesn't show up in Bing's results, then clearly Bing isn't copying Google's results, it's copying its toolbar's preference for links.

The entire thing is moot to me. The takeaway in't whether Bing copies Google. The takeaway is that Bing's toolbar is spyware :-)

21 points by bbatsell 43 minutes ago 1 reply      
I thought this was the most interesting part:

> The day after that, Bing contacted me. They were hosting an event on February 1 to talk about the state of search and wanted to make sure I had the date saved, in case I wanted to come up for it. I said I'd make it. I later learned that the event was being organized by Wadhwa, author of that TechCrunch article. [emphasis mine]

So the supposedly independent author of an article on TechCrunch that kicked off a massive wave of Google criticism is, less than a month later, organizing events specifically for a Google competitor? Boy, that sure seems above-board.

2 points by dansingerman 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
My take is this: the whole Google ethos is that they are trying to have the best algorithm to give the best results. Outside of this sting they have always been at pains to put forward the view that nothing is manually ranked.

I think the same thing applies to Bing here: if they have a generic algorithm that ranks results based on toolbar (or other data) it could be easy to see how their data is skewed by Google given the amount of traffic Google search gets compared to the rest of the internets. This seems fine to me.

But if their toolbar does stuff with activity on google.com because it is google.com then this is a pretty clear foul - it is both essentially copying, and the equivalent of manually ranking results (specifically, Google results)

The corollary of this is that if their algorithm is generic, then it will still work if Google were to cease to exist. If it's not generic, it would be useless without Google.

17 points by tptacek 1 hour ago 2 replies      
"Is it illegal? Is it cheating? Is it unfair?" Who cares? Google already got everything it needed out of this situation: a gigantic PR win, and a morale boost for their own team. Well played.
3 points by Nitramp 26 minutes ago 1 reply      
"Is this illegal?"

IANAL, but in certain jurisdictions, most certainly yes. Many countries have copyright laws that protect compilations of things that are individually not worthy of copyright, for example telephone books. Copying down an individual telephone book entry is of course not a copyright violation, but copying the whole listing in a systematic fashion is.

I'd guess that this law applies to search engine rankings as well - rankings/listings of individual items that are not protected by copyright, but where a lot of effort goes into producing the listing itself.

8 points by wccrawford 1 hour ago 3 replies      
It may not be illegal or 'cheating', but it's incredibly stupid for the same reason cheating is: Without the person you are cheating from, you can't pass the test!

In the case, the customers don't get relevant results unless other potential customers use the competition! In short, Bing's results are only good if Google is popular.

Why would you invest time relying on your competition? Shouldn't you be striving to match or beat them, rather than trying to piggy-back on them?

12 points by zyb09 1 hour ago 1 reply      
> It strongly suggests that Bing was copying Google's results, by watching what some people do at Google via Internet Explorer.

Wow, it almost seems that is exactly what they are doing, which is some pretty dirty stuff. Now MS always had a shady track record, but I thought recently the company got a lot better.

4 points by sjs382 36 minutes ago 1 reply      
No surprise, as both DDG and Blekko disclose that they use Bing for long-tail queries, but it works at both of those engines, too:



5 points by duke_sam 1 hour ago 0 replies      
So in an effort to be as good as a competitor MS is watching what you do when you interact with that competitors website and sending that information home. Seems like a really big reason to suggest to anybody you know that they uninstall the Bing toolbar.
16 points by bambax 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Looks like Microsoft is "innovating" again...
1 point by brudgers 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
Since when has reverse engineering been cheating? If the article is correct, there still is no allegation that Google's algorithms have been used. I don't think Google is in much of any position to cry foul over any company using data mining to tailor search results.
2 points by mkowalski 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's interresting. A little bit like browser wars, isn't it? Browsers are really similar between themselves. If any new noteworthy feature appears in one, it is very likely to be copied to another, which is a very good thing for end users and is a reason for which competitiveness is good. At the end of the day, users want more-less the same functionality, no matter which browser they use. There are some differences in details and quality, but rather minor.

Both Bing and Google are targeted towards mass market and I think people expect the same from both. If Google does it right, there is nothing more to invent. And even if there is, it is probably pretty expensive. It is so much easier to copy than to invent from scratch, just to get something almost exactly the same as Google :)

I am really interrested in what could Bing do to be REALLY different or better than Google. And if they did, Google would most likely do something very similar :)

3 points by nhangen 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The interesting thing here is that Google now has the smarts and power to play games with Bing, and were I MS, that fact would scare me more than any lawsuit.
7 points by yoyar 1 hour ago 0 replies      
MS has a long history of stealing and sabotage. This doesn't surprise me one bit.
0 points by samwise 12 minutes ago 1 reply      
The real question should be why is Google not doing this. Bing seems to be learning from what results users choose and improving their results.

Seems like a no brainer, unless i missed something.

I also really like this for some reason. It's very ... gangster. Shows that bing is scrappy and willing to bend the rules.

That being said, i will still continue using Google.

2 points by Bitmobrich 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
Google copies Bing's layout for images. Bing copies Google's search results.
0 points by gyardley 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Sort of petulant on Google's part to release this, no?

Of course your competitors are going to copy you. It's not innovative, and you might consider it 'cheating' if you forget that each and every one of us are building off of a foundation laid by other people. But it works, and that's why it happens and will continue to happen.

5 points by funkdobiest 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
Wait.. MS is copying the competition!?
3 points by benohear 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Google likens it to the digital equivalent of Bing leaning over during an exam and copying off of Google's test.

Isn't that basic classroom solidarity?

0 points by keltex 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Search for "hacker news" on both. The results are quite different. One might argue Bing is better because they don't have a duplicate result at the top.
1 point by silverbax88 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I'm not sure about this. It almost sounds like Google is posturing. The reason I say this is that while Google was getting bombed up until last week with scraper sites, Bing wasn't.

If Bing was really copying results, they would have reflected the spam sites, because people click on those when they are highly ranked just as often as they click on the originator site. After all, the problem is that the content is identical.

2 points by frb 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Doesn't this make Bing practically useless? I mean I go to an alternative search engine to get alternative search results...
1 point by ry0ohki 1 hour ago 3 replies      
Doesn't the Google toolbar do essentially the same thing they are saying IE is doing?
0 points by executive 52 minutes ago 2 replies      
Google scrapes websites to determine search results. Bing scrapes websites (Google) to determine search results. What's the problem?
37signals Basecamp Mobile HTML5 app for WebKit browsers 37signals.com
23 points by sstephenson 31 minutes ago   3 comments top
12 points by sstephenson 26 minutes ago 2 replies      
Basecamp Mobile is written in CoffeeScript using our in-house Cinco mobile framework, which ties together Backbone.js, Zepto, the Eco templating language (https://github.com/sstephenson/eco), and Stitch (https://github.com/sstephenson/stitch).
Free, Public Data Sets jacquesmattheij.com
44 points by iisbum 1 hour ago   9 comments top 9
8 points by mindcrime 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If anyone is looking for more datasets, see:





for some good lists of available stuff.

3 points by zipdog 43 minutes ago 0 replies      
The wikipedia dump is great, but I've started using http://wiki.dbpedia.org/ which has an API to query the dumps.

Thanks for these, iisbum. I wish more public data was available in db, xml or similar structures - too often I find myself scraping government sites or pdfs to get the tables I need

3 points by sosuke 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
Heh, a day after he leaves HN he makes the first page. He will still be here whether he visits the site or not.
4 points by adw 1 hour ago 0 replies      
We've got quite a lot of public economic data: http://timetric.com/.

If you're up to something in the economic data space we'd love to talk. Happy to take this to email (andrew@timetric.com) if anyone's interested.

2 points by joubert 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
I have links to a few govt.-provided data sets at http://elev.at
2 points by tszming 12 minutes ago 0 replies      
Open Directory RDF Dump: http://rdf.dmoz.org/
3 points by agentultra 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What about http://ckan.org/ ?

The Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network! Pretty sweet resource really.

2 points by balakk 24 minutes ago 0 replies      

Some free, some paid.

2 points by damoncali 31 minutes ago 0 replies      
http://infochimps.com also has a bunch.
Mea Culpa: GitHub works well, my mistake made them look bad andrewljohnson.com
542 points by NoKarmaForMe 11 hours ago   38 comments top 14
66 points by adelevie 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Very classy apology. While Andrew's quickly jumping to conclusions is certainly not something to emulate (as he obviously implies in his apology), his ability to assume complete responsibility for a mistake that damaged a reputation is something all members of Internet communities should take note of.
34 points by js2 11 hours ago 0 replies      
With apologies to xkcd:

  $ git push origin HEAD:make-me-a-sandwich
git: what? make it yourself.
$ git push origin +HEAD:make-me-a-sandwich
git: okay.

17 points by theDoug 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Instant overreaction and posting to HN has come up a lot lately.

The Skype story yesterday was another mistake where a technical support person wrote that a bug was "by design" when they meant to type "bug," so of course it gets raced into HN as 'news' rather than trying to get clarification.

9 points by guywithabike 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the lesson here is that for all our high-minded self-esteem, Hacker News is just as susceptible to hive-mind behavior as the sites HN users like to pooh-pooh.
6 points by perlgeek 6 hours ago 0 replies      
As a side remark, I'd love it if github had an option to disable forced pushes for a project. In general they are very confusing in collaborations.
5 points by wanderr 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish github (and git in general) had a better way to view the history of your history, as it were. It's great that get let's you change histoy, but it can be quite problematic if someone messes up that history, especially if it's not caught right away. Yes, it's in the reflog, but so is _everything_, so finding the right thing can be quite daunting.
24 points by nowarninglabel 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for this, it's always tough to admit when one is wrong.
20 points by jefe78 11 hours ago 0 replies      
+1 for actually stepping forward and apologizing! Always impressive when people do that.
3 points by epochwolf 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Google cache: http://www.andrewljohnson.com/article/Mea%20Culpa:%20GitHub%...

Site is down. (Or not, there was a 500 error when I tried to access it)

4 points by grandalf 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Shame on those who upvoted the original linkbait story. When will these sorts of sensational headlines stop?
6 points by spullara 10 hours ago 4 replies      
Wouldn't it be great if your scm actually kept all your changes no matter what?
1 point by eli 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Good for you. I think this points to plenty of opportunity out there for making Git easier to use. I know I would pay for something like that.
1 point by forkrulassail 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Takes something to apologize like that. I'm sure they're glad about it.

You seriously made me paranoid about my repositories.

-1 point by BasDirks 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Everyone learns from this! Now let's form a circle, colour some line-drawings, and watch a Disney flick.
Art Project, powered by Google googleartproject.com
37 points by Uncle_Sam 2 hours ago   8 comments top 4
10 points by diiq 1 hour ago 2 replies      
As a painter, I am tremendously excited to be able to take a closer look at some of these paintings than I could in their galleries, and to have so many works from so many collections in one place. I'm itching with anticipation to look at each individual brush-stroke. I'm actually giggling with glee.

I love living in the future.

1 point by ZeroGravitas 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I wonder what the copyright situation is with these photos of public domain works. I seem to recall that Wikipedia extracted the images from a similar system used by the National Portrait Gallery in the UK and a legal spat ensued.

Crucially, UK copyright law gives you rights in some stuff just because you put effort into it ("sweat of the brow") while US law has a precedent requiring creativity, so a photo of a statue is copyrighted to the photographer, but photograhps of flat objects don't.

1 point by allanp8 59 minutes ago 1 reply      
I don't understand..(?)
There is only one piece of art on this website:
A black text on white background that says "Error: Server Error"

Is that the "Art of the App Engine"?

1 point by thisisananth 45 minutes ago 0 replies      
I love it. People who never had a chance to visit those museums can now see them
Optimal Employment lesswrong.com
39 points by primodemus 2 hours ago   23 comments top 11
5 points by patio11 2 hours ago 1 reply      
If you're disciplined about it, English teaching in Japan / Korea is also a decent option, depending on whether you end up with better deals. (Humming a few bars: JET salaries in this prefecture are $45k per year post-tax, rents are subsidized in this town to $80 a month, and the Japanese equivalent of the social security tax which your employer is paying ~10% of your salary to is 100% yours when you leave.)

That said: generic non-JET English teachers have it kind of rough (worse salaries and conditions), people's enjoyment of their time is all over the map (depends on who you are and where you end up), and English teaching is notorious for having few forward paths out of it.

5 points by krschultz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Alternate data point:

I make 90k a year.

+$5,000 net income (after taxes, healthcare, and 6% contribution to my 401k)

-$1,400 for rent (pertty high)

- $400 for food

- $120 for car insurance

- $200 for gas

- $200 for internet, TV, and cell phone

- $200 for electricity

That leaves me with $2500 a month that is discretionary. That's $30,000 a year. I save $2000 a month.I play with the remaining $500.

Give me an extra $10k and get me to the $100k number and it would be pure discretionary for me.

I live in CT, so it isn't that cheap. There are certainly places in this country with lower rent. And moving to NYC probably would only up my rent to $2,000 which wouldn't really change the numbers becasue I'd dump the car insurance and gas. (No car payments because I paid cash for my car 2 years ago).

1 point by orangecat 7 minutes ago 1 reply      
As noted in the comments, the major problem is that he compares the "rational" strategy of moving to the Australian outback with the "default" strategy of having a US job and spending the statistical average on housing, food, etc. But if you're assuming a highly rational person, the second strategy has loads of room for optimization: you don't need a McMansion, a new car every 5 years, or to engage in status games of conspicuous consumption with your neighbors. With a relatively small amount of planning and discipline, it's easy to save lots of money earning $100k/year in the US.
4 points by javanix 25 minutes ago 1 reply      
Has anyone here had experience working in Australia (or as an expat in another developed country) as an actual software developer?

I do enjoy what I do but I'd love to be able to see a different part of the world while I do it.

3 points by lukev 35 minutes ago 0 replies      
Interesting, and I think people should definitely consider "off the beaten track" opportunities like this more.

But for most of us here... it doesn't account for the fact that you're working as a bartender. I don't know about everyone else, but I want to enjoy and be fulfilled by my work. When I'm building awesome software I loose track of the workday... slinging rum for 8 hours a day sounds like some terrible purgatory.

And from anecdotal evidence, I don't think there's nearly so many great income arbitrage opportunities in the high tech sector.

6 points by idlewords 41 minutes ago 0 replies      
I love the idea of bars in the Australian outback coming to be staffed exclusively by rationalist aspies.
4 points by meterplech 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I like the article for the added perspective of going elsewhere. But, like recent anti-tax blog posts I have trouble believing a $6-figure salary is that bad. No way you only have 4k of disposable income. How is that calculated? Even in NYC you do not need to spend 30k a year on housing like his percentages would suggests. People should stop trying to describe the plight of the 6-figure earner.
4 points by BoppreH 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
Maybe I'm missing something, but what if I want to work as a software engineer?

Spending the rest of life as a bartender or receptionist doesn't seem like a good prospect, regardless of pay.

And if I ever have the chance to go back to work as a software engineer, the years working as a bartender or receptionist won't help.

Or maybe I just don't like money that much.

1 point by jasonkester 42 minutes ago 1 reply      
Here's the thing though. You're way better off earning your money in a place with a high cost of living.

There are lots of things that cost the same regardless of where you buy them. New cars, flat screen TVs, plane tickets to Thailand (and 6-month winter climbing trips to Thailand), and pretty much everything else besides housing all cost the same everywhere.

With that in mind, your best bet is to find a job in LA/SF/NYC then dig in and find the absolute cheapest way to live while you're there. My personal angle was to take short (3-6 month) contracts in LA and find cheap rooms for rent while there. You can save up a ton of money in a short time, then head back to whatever low cost place you prefer to call home.

So to modify the author's idea, instead of setting up shop in Oz full time, go work in LA for half the year. Using his numbers you'll save the same as you would working an entire year in Australia. Then go back to Australia and spend the other half of the year doing whatever you want.

End result: you spend the same, save the same, and get an extra 6 months off work with which to improve your surfing.


2 points by _delirium 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I can buy most of these points, but it seems to ignore that people have subjective preferences for some cultural environments over others, so the Q/A answer citing Australia's education and secularity doesn't necessarily answer that question. Presumably not every intelligent person will subjectively find Australia's culture versus the US's culture either a win for Australia or a tossup; some may prefer American culture. Some people may also place utility on things like "living in my home country, where I don't feel like a foreigner"; though of course other people may consider living in another country to be an inherently positive experience.

I'm currently an American living in Denmark, so clearly I don't think it's impossible for the utility functions to work out that way. =] But it's not just a matter of weighing the income, the expenses, the commute times, etc.; living in Copenhagen is subjectively fairly different from living in, say, Boston or Los Angeles, and I could imagine some people putting very large positive or negative utility scores on that difference.

2 points by jsavimbi 25 minutes ago 1 reply      
Bartending: a part-time job that provides the lazy with easy access to alcohol and a stable social life where the only requirement is to have passable looks and the ability to show up, stay awake and not steal (too much). It looks like fun, but it's a very dangerous occupation if you're thinking of actually doing something with your life post-booze dalliance.

The fact that someone would promote dropping out to live in the outback serving beer to a bunch of tourists is insane. To back it up with tax-reimbursement math is ludicrous. Working as a slave for more than one tourist season should dispel any rational thinker of the notion that they're better off scraping by on minimum wages than working at a real job. To be successful in the real world, you need to acquire domain experience, competent skills and build lasting relationships with people who also work in your industry, not to mention developing your talents in order to have access to higher-paying/rewarding employment. All of them take time and none can be done while you're picking your nose at a tiki bar in Florida, Thailand or Australia.

Don't kid yourself. Work is hard and there are no easy way about it.

Tired of explaining Linux's seemingly obtuse memory usage to confused newbies? linuxatemyram.com
30 points by yankcrime 2 hours ago   13 comments top 5
6 points by StavrosK 1 hour ago 0 replies      
A good way I read somewhere was "Unused RAM is wasted RAM. Linux uses it to speed up your disk and gives it back to programs when they need it".
4 points by eliben 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The title of the link (unlike the linked page) suggests that Linux is somehow to blame here... Why? Using RAM for disk caching is a good thing.

Besides, this technique is employed by Windows as well. It's just that the average Windows user probably doesn't know how much free RAM his PC has (well, the really average user doesn't know how much total RAM it has). My Windows 7 box takes at least 2GB of memory to itself for disk caching, AFAIU.

3 points by slavak 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Wouldn't it make more sense to just include the RAM used for disk-caching when calculating free memory? After all, the whole reason it's being used for disk-caching in the first place is that it's free! The Linuxoids that know what this even means can always explicitly look for the line that says how much memory is being used for caching...
1 point by pixelbeat 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Heh, nice site.

Note I find this useful for showing how much RAM apps really are using:

1 point by cullend 1 hour ago 4 replies      
So basically the same thing Vista was doing (prefetch, and admittedly it did a shitty job with >1GB ram), except since its Linux, Oh its all fine guys, we won't destroy the OS' reputation.
A Linux Compiler Deathmatch: GCC, LLVM, DragonEgg, Open64, Etc... phoronix.com
11 points by bconway 1 hour ago   3 comments top 2
2 points by yread 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
1 point by simias 33 minutes ago 1 reply      
Is there some actual content on the middle of all these ads? I gave up on page 2.
IPv4 address exhaustion and the end of the open net lwn.net
9 points by corbet 49 minutes ago   discuss
Java Hangs When Converting 2.2250738585072012e-308 exploringbinary.com
131 points by pietrofmaggi 7 hours ago   43 comments top 13
15 points by pilif 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I remember when everyone was bashing PHP (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2066084) when they were bitten by the same issue. Then there were articles about this being maybe a GCC bug or at least design issue but people were still saying that it's PHP's duty to take care of this.

I was always afraid that this might bite other environments too as the code that caused the issue in PHP was apparently taken from elsewhere (see http://blog.andreas.org/display?id=9 for a detailed analysis of the problem). Now this is turning out to be true.

11 points by praptak 6 hours ago 3 replies      
"Konstantin reported this problem to Oracle three weeks ago, but is still waiting for a reply."

This speaks volumes about Oracle as the Java's steward.

1 point by snewman 8 minutes ago 1 reply      
If I'm not mistaken, this is bad: it enables a trivial DOS attack against any web service that accepts floating-point input. (For instance, one of the commenters on the OP noted that Google Spreadsheets backends are vulnerable.) This includes, as a special case, any service that accepts JSON input.

I expect a lot of teams will have to rush out a patch. I feel for them...

Incidentally, I haven't seen a simple workaround posted anywhere. Has anyone seen a regexp or code snippet that can identify strings which would trigger this bug?

10 points by latch 7 hours ago 2 replies      
The compiler one is pretty neat. Hung IntelliJ. Didn't hang VS.NET. Had both open, had to try.
5 points by mjw 4 hours ago 0 replies      

This affects JRuby, and potentially anyone with a JSON-based API running on the JVM with a JSON parser using the java stdlib to parse JSON floats:

    jruby-1.5.2 > JSON.parse('{"float": 2.2250738585072012e-308}')  

(not the most recent JRuby I know, but seems this is a JVM problem...)

3 points by VMG 3 hours ago 0 replies      
4 points by ibejoeb 3 hours ago 0 replies      
FWIW the Oracle/BEA jrockit compiler does not hang. It does hang on execution, however.

   Java(TM) SE Runtime Environment (build 1.6.0_20-b02)
Oracle JRockit(R) (build R28.0.1-21-133393-1.6.0_20-20100512-2126-linux-ia32, compiled mode)

9 points by abscondment 6 hours ago 2 replies      
The compile-time version will hang a Clojure REPL, too:

user=> (def d 2.2250738585072012e-308)

14 points by rll 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I have a feeling we will see this come up in more places. When we fixed the code for PHP we saw very similar code in a lot of other projects.
3 points by Uchikoma 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I assume this hits Clojure, JRuby, etc. harder because it affects all values which are converted to Strings, but only affects Java when one explicitly converts to Double?

So when a (Java) website expects an Int as input, it's not affected, but Clojure,JRuby etc would be?

Am I right, what am I missing?

(see the comment with

user=> (def d 2.2250738585072012e-308)


1 point by wildmXranat 2 hours ago 0 replies      
In that case, this still applies: http://zenebo.com/cmc/1/
4 points by VMG 2 hours ago 0 replies      
What about android?
6 points by r0h4n 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Doesnt hang Ruby 1.9 (MRI) and python 2.7 and python 3.1
Some perspective on exactly how badly ISPs in Canada are overcharging for data reddit.com
24 points by niyazpk 2 hours ago   12 comments top 6
7 points by duke_sam 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Is it me or is the ISP business getting steadily more anti-customer? Between trying to double charge for bandwidth (charge me a monthly fee and then charge company X for access to me) and attempting to push through lower and lower caps. I understand the increasing costs of infrastructure to provide for users streaming content but would this not be part of their business plans and budgeted for? Or did they expect everybody to continue using the internet like it was 2000? I know the service was always sold on the assumption that the majority of people are low bandwidth users but can ISPs really get this defensive when people start trying to get what they pay for?

Also SMS still takes the cake for most crazily overpriced communication medium, over $1000 per Mb.

4 points by SeanDav 1 hour ago 1 reply      
In the old days of computing people used to talk about "tackie" or "sneaker" networks. Meaning put the data onto a disk and physically move it to another machine. Looks like we are back to that again!
1 point by latch 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Shipping data is common, both to save money and for greater speed.

AWS has their import/export tool that does just this:

There's also the story of the carrier pigeon which was faster than broadband in South Africa

Fill a 737 with bluray, fly it from NY to LA, and you'll reach 37,000 Gbit/s.

It's called Sneakernet:

1 point by jasonlotito 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is Bell.

While I'm not claiming Canadian rates are cheap, this is what Videotron charges:

Download speed: 60 Mbps
Upload speed: 3 Mbps
Total data transfer
combined: 150 GB $82.95*

Which is 0.55$

You can also get additional data in 30 Gig blocks for 12.50$ (up to 3 a month), which is 0.44$, if you need it. And there are additional services as well.

I've been a subscriber to Videotron since 2002, and while they aren't the cheapest, I've found their support fairly good, never having a major problems.

Edit: I should note, I'm just providing these prices as a perspective to what's being presented other places. My wife and I also never go over the cap, so we haven't worried about overage charges. However, if we did exceed the cap, apparently it's $4.50/G!

2 points by afhof 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I still find the price per text message (my cell carrier still charges 5 cents per) enormous. To send 160GB via 160 char text messages would cost 50 million dollars.
0 points by absconditus 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
Why is this being upvoted? Who does not overcharge based on this idiotic logic? It may have made for a humorous joke on reddit, but I expect better here.
Samsung Galaxy Tab Return Rates Hit 16 Percent | AllThingsD allthingsd.com
26 points by stretchwithme 3 hours ago   17 comments top 8
6 points by ralphc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I've had a Galaxy Tab since they first came out, and I use it just about daily, in bed, on the exercise bike, in a jacket pocket out to Starbucks. I think the size is perfect, and with only one exception (TMZ) the apps have scaled to the 1024 x 600 screen resolution.
The big advantage of the Tab is that it's here and got good reviews. I waited just about all of 2010 for an Android tablet, the Adam, Joojoopad... and I'm skeptical of any Android tablet's ship dates. Maybe by the 2011 holiday season I'll have the choice of good quality Android tablets I thought I would have at the 2010 holiday season, but I'd have had use of the Tab for a year.
My real complaint with it is this is my first experience with Verizon. I'm supposed to have a "month-to-month", no contract data plan, months I don't want 3G I just don't pay, but my account seems to be accumulating past due amounts? Any ideas?
7 points by yequalsx 2 hours ago 2 replies      
From my understanding Apple spent a lot of time getting the form factor right for the iPad. A lot of thought went into ensuring the OS was adequate for the device. None of Apple's competitors was expecting a marketplace for tablet devices like the iPad.

All of iPad's competitors right now are jokes. It's as if companies think it's the shape of the device matters more than the experience of using the device. I guess knowing this is the difference between creating a market and just trying to build devices for a market.

7 points by ZeroGravitas 1 hour ago 0 replies      
They've published the audio and transcript from the Samsung official that apparently said sell-through was "quite small" and in reality they said "quite smooth".
2 points by mikecane 30 minutes ago 0 replies      
I don't know what this statistic really means and I doubt anyone yet does. For years I've encountered people on the Net who think nothing of ordering the latest device just to "try" it and return it! They've stated so outright. So I wonder if this 16% does nothing but reflect those kind of people who make things miserable for everyone else who just want to buy?
1 point by daimyoyo 49 minutes ago 1 reply      
There is one major reason why people are returning the GT. The iPad launched with an operating system (OS 3.2) that was designed specifically for it's form factor yet Samsung chose to launch their flagship device with regular, off the shelf Froyo. Perhaps the return rate will go down(and the huge number of unsold tabs will finally start moving) once Honeycomb finally premiers. I know that's what's holding me back from buying it. Imagine an iPad that could only run iPhone apps in that cheesy 2X mode. No thank you.
3 points by ugh 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It didn't seem so bad when I tried it. As it stands nothing I would buy instead of an iPad but I couldn't find any glaring flaws. Using it felt like using a smartphone with a somewhat larger screen, maybe not particularly optimized for its form factor but ok. I would be interested to know why people return it.
3 points by EnderMB 1 hour ago 0 replies      
As an owner of an original Samsung Galaxy (i7500) I can safely say that I'm not surprised. Samsung's approach to Android has been to quickly release poor-quality phones with broken firmware and little thought in regard to the actual user-experience.

If I'm honest, it shocks me that people still buy Android phones from Samsung. Nearly everything they've released for Android has been of poor quality, yet they sweep their old products under the rug and release something new and shiny for Android fanboys to gawk over. I cannot help but believe that the desire for a platform to come out on top suppresses much of the deserved criticism some Android phones face.

-1 point by mhb 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Drawing with HTML5 Canvas altervista.org
9 points by DanielRibeiro 1 hour ago   1 comment top
1 point by ctdonath 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
FWIW, dysfunctional on iPad. Wants to select and scroll instead of draw.
Fatboy In A Lean World oreillygmt.eu
12 points by gordonguthrie 1 hour ago   discuss
Agner: A Giant Nebula of Erlang Repositories github.com
27 points by yrashk 3 hours ago   11 comments top 4
5 points by davidw 3 hours ago 1 reply      
About damn time for Erlang to be getting this kind of thing. Ruby is not "all that" in terms of performance or its concurrency story, but Erlang feels a bit like the stone ages without all the nice gem stuff.
3 points by kunley 2 hours ago 1 reply      
One thought.. is it really necessary to create separate repository just for holding agner.config file? Can't author just add this file to his original repo and move on?
2 points by yrashk 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I very much hope so, and I understand that it takes much more than writing software " it's also promotion, maintenance and so on; also integration with existing tools (like rebar).
1 point by dennyabraham 1 hour ago 2 replies      
how does this compare to a system like https://github.com/erlware/faxien ?
One Ring to Bind Them: Clojure web development blip.tv
11 points by bitsai 1 hour ago   discuss
Doing business without "doing a startup" (Suster/Ingram followup) workingsoftware.com.au
34 points by dools 4 hours ago   11 comments top 9
5 points by wccrawford 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"Because anyone who says they want to "become an entrepreneur" is completely misguided."

Thank you! Being an entrepreneur is not an end, it's a means. I've seen so many articles lately about how you should quit your job and do a startup, even if you don't have a good idea or business sense.

I feel really bad for any customers those businesses draw in, because they are in for some trouble. Even if the business survives (and it's not likely to) then the customers will have to deal with the fact that the business isn't focused on them, it's about 'being an entrepreneur.' Totally wrong.

3 points by agentultra 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't get lured in by the bright lights of VC-Vegas - instead focus on building a profitable business where you get money because people buy what you have to sell.

I think a lot of tech startups tend to miss this point and go straight for funding. They think that they'll just get big first and worry about "monetization" later. That's a crap-shoot! Such high risk is a tax for fools.

If you're really thinking about being in business for yourself, just start an honest business. Start with the nuts and bolts. Collect some invoices and sell some product. If your demand begins to out-pace your ability to deliver, then you have a good indication that you should go get funding.

It's just a perspective. The "funding first, revenue later" idea has worked. It's just not for everyone. You don't have to quit your job out-right to start a business. I know people who work at a part-time job while they work on their business. One day they hope to quit that too and let their business take them where ever it may. It's a viable alternative to the nerve-wracking pain of selling out to the VC merry-go-round.

1 point by jasonkester 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Well said. Frankly I can't figure out why anybody would want to jump onto the 80-hour week insanity mill that is the Silicon Vally definition of "Startup". It just doesn't seem like a good use of your time. Either you burn yourself out with nothing to show, or you oversucceed to the point where you have to figure out how to work your life around owning a private jet. There's got to be some middle ground.

How about instead I work 20 hour weeks building something that will pay my rent initially, pay for my winter house on that nice point break in Oz after 5 years, then spoil my kids rotten in 20. That's a payoff more in line with my lifestyle, and I get to keep living my life in the meantime.

2 points by brudgers 1 hour ago 0 replies      
As far as founders go I don't see much psychological difference between "doing a startup" in the VC/Angel sense and "doing a startup" in the "I am a business owner" sense. The personal and financial risks are similar, worries about money, long hours, the fear of failure, etc. Yes, a startup in the Silicon Valley sense is structurally organized in a more ambitious way, but three guys in an office trying to figure out how not to run out of money is going to produce the same stresses whether they are programmers or plumbers.

Hiring and firing suck just the same for both groups. Borrowing money offers the same temptations and one's family doesn't stop whispering,"when will he get a real job," just because it's a startup.

0 points by wheels 2 hours ago 1 reply      
These faux rebuttals seem to intentionally miss the point Mark was making:

Doing a startup, the kind that Mark means, the kind that he sees -- specifically those with a story about how they're going to become billion dollar company -- works best with some specific personality traits. Is that really that hard to swallow?

Does it mean people without those can't start businesses? Heavens no.

These arguments are effectively a straw-man -- the point of contention is on the definition of a startup, not on who's fit to do one. They seem to redefine "startup" as "business doing something with the internet" and then proceed to debunk Mark's argument about who's well suited for those. But again, that's completely (intentionally?) missing the point.

Also the "lottery" hooky from DHH is dumb. Nobody compares getting to the top of other fields as pure chance -- why would it be different with startups? Did Michael Jordan and Zuck have a string of lucky breaks along the way? No doubt. But do you really think hard work had no more to do with it than it did for the person scratching the foil off of a lotto scratch-card? Do you really think there aren't recognizable personality patterns in top athletes? Really?

1 point by kayoone 1 hour ago 0 replies      
All this startup world is funny anyway. If i tell my friends i regularly work 50-60 hour weeks they call me crazy, tell me i have no life and whatsoever. Then you come here to hear that under 80hours of working you cant get anything done until the people working 100 hours/week share their stories...
I bet you can even find people claiming 120 hours/week, hell why not, after all the week has 168hours so theres plenty left!
1 point by stcredzero 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Designers aren't programmers - but who owns the client relationships? There's nothing to stop a programmer from offering design services but more often than not it's the designer who owns the client relationship and shops out work to programmers.

Is this part of the dynamic behind restaurant websites so often sucking badly? (Because the requirements are mainly hashed out between people who mainly relate to how a site looks.)

2 points by toadi 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Sometimes we need to put some perspective on our little online world. There is a whole world of entrepreneurs out there that are starting businesses that are not yet another social network or even an online business.

Getting a bit tired of the narrow mindesness of the community about how heroic they are ,what great opninions they have, how cool they are. But they actually are just a big bag of hot air.

Think the whole Quora discussion is a bit more of the same: Look at me I have an opinion. I'm changing the world, I'm blah blah.

There are still children dying of hunger, even in America a lot of people are hungry, unemployed or don't receive decent medical care. So maybe in your little eco-sphere you are changing the world. But are you changing it for the better?

What's your opinion about this?

2 points by fedd 2 hours ago 0 replies      
i wonder, how many people would confess that they want to be someone (i.e., businessmen, or a vc) to have a boatload of money, a home on tropical island and fly business class / private jet?

if i were a vc, i probably would not like this confession. i'd better encourage young people to value the startup life itself.

Final IPv4 Blocks Allocated infoq.com
24 points by DanielRibeiro 3 hours ago   2 comments top 2
1 point by sucuri2 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
And still only 0.19% of the top sites (according to alexa) have ipv6 enabled:


2 points by ez77 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Infographs are Ruining the Internet lesseverything.com
18 points by lessallan 43 minutes ago   14 comments top 4
5 points by nollidge 21 minutes ago 4 replies      
I don't get it. Is a collection of made-up facts supposed to constitute satire or something?

> Infographs are usually very pretty, but it's really a gimmick, they're not useful content, it's link bait to get traffic to a blog.

Why so cynical? God forbid somebody represent data in an aesthetically pleasing manner. If infographics are a gimmick, then so is anything anybody ever does to make their creations interesting to read/view/use.

3 points by dasil003 25 minutes ago 0 replies      
Previously ruined: USA Today
4 points by billturner 33 minutes ago 2 replies      
Poor spelling doesn't help much either.
0 points by zalew 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
47% of all stats is completely made up. 3 per 2 people don't get them anyway.
Checkout page A/B testing: 3 dead-simple changes increased sales by 15% visualwebsiteoptimizer.com
28 points by paraschopra 3 hours ago   5 comments top 2
1 point by robryan 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Doesn't effect this test at all. But I think the most common reason I will hit checkout on something I don't intend on buying at the time is because shipping cost or payment methods aren't listed elsewhere on a site.

It would be interesting to now do another A/B with just the extra email info, looking at the 2 examples the lack of info about why you want the email is the major thing that would put me off.

1 point by iconfinder 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sure it's the icons from Iconfinder which increased sales :-D
Readability's new service marco.org
141 points by mcav 10 hours ago   34 comments top 10
66 points by eps 10 hours ago 5 replies      
The only pages I am using the Readability bookmarklet on are those that are impossible to read in their native design. Rewarding authors of such pages (and effctively excluding well-designed blogs from the rewarding process altogether) seems counter-productive. Also this gives them a tangible incentive to not improve the usability of their websites. I'm all for micropayng for the content, but this solution is backwards.
1 point by mike-cardwell 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
So as a website owner I get paid each time a paying readability user views my website in readability?

If I get my pages to load a second copy of themselves inside a hidden iframe, except including the extra readability bookmarklet js, will that allow me to "game the system" by getting every visitor to my site to view (in the background) my site via readability...

I would never do this. It was just a thought...

8 points by jacques_chester 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Seems to be a riff on flattr / kachingle / contenture / others I can't remember right now. The key difference is that they value-add through the Readability reformatting service.

I've seen this called a number of things -- crowd funding, social micropayments. I had the same basic idea (Contenture was closest) back in August 2008. By carefully hiding the idea I have parlayed my insight into literally zeroes of dollars.

Personally I call it microsubscription.

One thing that Readability have solved neatly is the problem of trustworthy allocations by requiring users to go through their application. My own secret sauce (apart from the business model) is a prototype secure protocol for tracking users in a fraud- and theft-resistant fashion without relying on a trusted application -- just a web browser.

While announcements like these continue to fill me with fear and dismay, watching the rise of Facebook over MySpace et al has taught me not to be such a giver-upper and to get into it. After the fashion of Messrs Page and Brin I am planning to do it as an honours project this year. Might as well double up on the benefits.

1 point by limmeau 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
If the Instapaper app causes a Readability payment to the visited website, isn't that against Apple's new "no in-app purchases without Apple getting a cut" rule?
1 point by eli 2 hours ago 1 reply      
More details in the NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/01/technology/01read.html?_r=...

Isn't this just begging to get sued by some publisher who really doesn't want to participate? IANAL, but it seems like they'd have a decent case.

3 points by eferraiuolo 8 hours ago 1 reply      
When you think long enough about this whole idea of supporting web content, there are some major requires that arise:

• Support should be direct (whereas ads are indirect)

• People publish all over the Internet, most people don't own a domain, they have (hosted) Wordpress, Blogger, Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, GitHub accounts where they publish content, this content _has_ to be supportable.

• You can't effectively charge someone fees for their acts of voluntary support.

• Voluntary, is voluntary, is no subscription, and is the right to choose!

• Easy to use, low barrier to give, no pulling out the credit card for 25¢.

• Support something while browsing the web and on that web page.

• The mechanism/service you use to support content online can't be the only winner, consumers and publishers have to be the outright winners!

• The service used _must_ be trustworthy and transparent.

• The service _has_ to work with the Internet, which means it has to work when only given URLs of web pages to support.

So! We actually did this, and built TipTheWeb http://tiptheweb.org/ with all these ideas in mind!

A non-profit that gives 100% of the money tipped by people to the web publisher of the content, non of that fee or cuts crap, 100%. You can support something with TipTheWeb by just giving us a URL to what you want to support and an amount, that's it; no publisher integration required.

We want to provide a positive feedback loop for the web, give publishers a way to know what their followers actually like, give readers/consumers a way to directly support what they truly love online and choose how much they want to give (5¢ " $100 per Tip). We want to encourage publishers to keep it up! Keep their content freely-accessible to everyone <" _this_ is what makes the Internet so great.

The Internet is valuable. Good publishing is hard. Selling content doesn't work. Advertising is not sufficient. Community-supported web publishing can work!

2 points by vampirical 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Hmm interesting to see Arc90 making a bigger move in the space, especially partnered up with Instapaper. I've been curious why they hadn't done much more since the simple readability bookmarklet was so well received.

I wonder if they'll run in to any copyright issues now that they're actually re-serving full article content from their servers and not just reformatting in the user's browser. I've been playing with a service with some server side readability functionality built in and the issue came us as a concern in my planning. Even with full attribution and considerate seo practices, it seems possible some publishers may take exception to full reproduction. There are existing services like viewtext.org that would be infringing by the same standards, but I assume it'll take fairly major notoriety or traffic to attract the ire of the papers. Or is this clear cut fair use?

2 points by repsilat 10 hours ago 0 replies      
> ...give most of the proceeds to the authors of the pages you choose (by using the Readability bookmarklet on them, or adding them in other ways)

I'm glad "in other ways" was added there. To me Readability serves two purposes - To make long-form content nicer to look at, and to make awful websites bearable. I can understand people supporting providers of long, interesting articles, but I'd hate to accidentally donate to a site covered in obtrusive ads because I thought there might be some interesting content hidden somewhere.

3 points by quellhorst 9 hours ago 2 replies      
My old readability bookmarklet isn't working now.
1 point by jergason 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I often feel like my reading on the Internet is more hurried and distracted. Part of that is due to the medium, but I wonder if part of it isn't due to the writing style of writing for the Internet. It will be interesting to see how writing on the Internet changes if this takes off.
Some weekend work that will (hopefully) enable more Egyptians to be heard googleblog.blogspot.com
339 points by ssclafani 17 hours ago   92 comments top 24
24 points by dholowiski 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Very cool. I assumed it would be filled up with Spam right away, but it's not - they must be doing some kind of filtering to make sure only Egyptian callers can leave a message.
Most of the messages are not in english (duh) but here are a couple english messages. I'm surprised google isn't doing speech recognition and translating these for us too.





26 points by JonnieCache 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Some amazing stuff on there. This message brings a tear to my eye.


12 points by mvandemar 16 hours ago 2 replies      
11 points by halo 14 hours ago 0 replies      
YouTube are now offering a live stream of Al Jazeera (scroll half-way down the page): http://www.youtube.com/aljazeeraenglish
6 points by InfinityX0 15 hours ago 2 replies      
This Egyptian situation puts new perspective on Malcolm Gladwell's popular article, "The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted". I'm not sure how it applies (if at all) - but it's interesting that the revolution comes from the fact that people really can't tweet (or use the internet, more importantly). Would love to hear 2nd thoughts from people here RE: that article.


3 points by JonnieCache 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Telecomix are working on their own system - they are taking faxes which they will then post. Unfortunately they do not have the resources to set up on the trunk in egypt like google so its an international call to germany.


2 points by elliottcarlson 12 hours ago 3 replies      
I am surprised no one is concerned about this in regards to the safety of the callers. The government is obviously taking all steps in silencing in or outbound communication - with the obvious control structure in place over communications, it would seem feasible for the government to trace calls to these specific numbers (even if they block them) and punish people who do so.

Don't get me wrong, I want to know what is going on there, and anyone willing to leak that information out is doing something heroic imho - but the safety of these individuals could be in serious threat - or maybe I am just overly paranoid...

2 points by dustyreagan 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Here's a very active Google Docs spreadsheet of @Speak2Tweet translations: https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?hl=en&key=tVDU006Wt9...
1 point by citricsquid 15 hours ago 1 reply      
This raises a thought for me with regards to my own Twitter usage. I find this a great idea and would like to follow it, but the high level of tweets this produces will saturate my stream and block out the other people I'm also interested in (I follow ~30 people and keep the people I follow limited to those I am truly interested in) so I wonder, could Twitter eventually have some sort of "Watch" feature?

Display would be the same style as trending (maybe next to it and re-position the suggested users) where each "watched" user is displayed with a running tally of total tweets and next to that the # of new tweets since I last visited their page? I guess lists would be a temporary solution, but even they get saturated easily.

completely off topic, but maybe some others share the same desire, I figure this is a good topic to use as an example :-)

2 points by nicpottier 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Uhm.. isn't this what SMS is for? For one it is way cheaper for the callers, for two it innately enforces the Twitter character limit. Doing voice to text seems like a pretty roundabout way to do this, anybody have any clues?

It's nice and all, but just seems like a solution looking for a problem.

2 points by mvandemar 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Sad, a caller from an hour ago said they expect to have their phones disconnected also, which would render this useless, I think:


4 points by austinB 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is an absolutely great idea that strikes a blow to regimes who try to suppress uprisings by shutting down the internet. I can't say I am entirely optimistic about the direction Egypt will take if open elections are held, but their citizens have a right to have their voice heard.

That being said, the 'nonchalantness' in this line regarding the SayNow acquisition was quite funny, "We worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company we acquired last week, to make this idea a reality."

Well done Google.

2 points by danteembermage 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This should significantly raise the economic cost to stifling speech in Egypt for the current regime (shutting down the phone system is probably significantly more disruptive to daily life that the internet there). Of course assuming locals manage to find out about it.
2 points by nathanb 17 hours ago 1 reply      
Interesting...in the old days, those phone numbers would go to the news desk of some major media corporation. The fact that (at least purportedly) Egyptians would consider getting their tidbits on Twitter--and the fact that Twitter scales better for this sort of thing than even the largest old-media institution--seems profound.
5 points by p90x 16 hours ago replies      
Seeing Americans companies take sides in the politics of foreign countries in such enthusiastic, carefree ways leaves me feeling very uneasy.
3 points by ammmir 16 hours ago 0 replies      
woah, i just posted http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2163688 about my startup camp experience and doing something similar but in reverse: calling you for new tweets.

doing my app with the google speech recognition API would be awesome!

0 points by sfphotoarts 16 hours ago 8 replies      
Thousands of years seemed to go by where uprisings didn't need social networking.

The Babylonians didn't need Twitter when they rose up against the Assyrian Empire. The Inaros' didn't need Facebook when they confronted the Persians in Egypt (although they did have the help of the Greeks). Julius Caesar didn't tweet 'hey watch out Pompey' when he marched on Roma. Did the Sicilian Vespers need Twitter to alter the balance of European power under King Charles 1st. Maybe the great Peasant revolt in Medieval England would have been more successful had they used Twitter - although they did manage to keep the term poll tax out of the tax lexicon for 600 years. Then, of course, the period of history after Elizabeth 1st where pretty much everyone revolted at some point (even here in America) those all seemed to happen without need for social networking.

I think humans are perfectly well equipped to revolt without social media. The currency of revolt has always been large numbers and big sticks.

Maybe our (the HN community) sees the world through a lens that makes it impossible to accomplish what is an everyday occurrence (on the historical scale) without the internet.

1 point by jdp23 6 hours ago 0 replies      
kudos to Google and SayNow. good use of Twitter too!
2 points by ptornroth 10 hours ago 0 replies      
A profoundly beautiful project, with profoundly beautiful results. Honestly, I really think there's something more permanent here. We ought to experience more world events with this degree of humanity, and lack of abstraction.
1 point by kalpeshjoshi 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This is an excellent idea, another medium to get the message, especially using older phone technology. I think the arabic speech recognition / txt translation is on it's way, we've come a long way with just character based text translations (i.e. mandarin, hindi, etc.).

Another thought: it actually seems like the reverse strategy of the aftermath of the floods in Australia. Where services need to keep the phone lines open for rescue workers and orgs, so people could tweet their distress msgs and location to relief orgs using broadband access over 3g.

2 points by ine 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I find it pretty cool that Google is willing to get actively involved in this. Some of the calls are even in English (ie. http://www.saynow.com/playMsg.html?ak=TkxFNENGTHVQQzdTdVE4N0...)
2 points by yters 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Hopefully the result of the revolution gets them a better government, unlike pretty much every other revolution in history (America is a special case).
1 point by tobych 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Couldn't translations be crowdsourced?

I've asked an Egyptian friend living in the UK if he could offer translations (transcripts) of some of these.

-4 points by _sebkom 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Isn't this very different to the way twitter works?

I follow this account and get links that I have to click on and then click on the "play" button again in order to listen to some(or any)one's broken english?

Mobile Banking Takes off in Kenya nytimes.com
7 points by cwan 1 hour ago   2 comments top 2
1 point by thinkcomp 31 minutes ago 0 replies      
M-PESA is routinely discussed at mobile payments conferences and among top bankers as the proof of concept for mobile payments. It's always a bit strange since it's not often in the technology industry that Africa seems years ahead of the United States.

I think it's a good example of a space where not a lot of institutional investors (VCs, angels, others) here in the States have been willing to commit dollars because it's a long-term endeavor with competition--in other words, exactly the kind of business that venture capital is supposed to help bolster. It's a shame, really, because there are probably many other innovations with serious implications (i.e. not consumer internet startups) that have suffered a similar fate at the hand of a weak and risk-fearing investment community. Maybe Obama's new policy will help change that.

2 points by bergie 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I got to play with M-Pesa when I was in Kenya for Christmas. Very cool system, especially the fact that it works on all the cheap dumbphones that people there have instead of requiring fancy NFC-capable phones and payment terminals.


How IKEA is structured to minimize tax and maximize control economist.com
89 points by widgetycrank 8 hours ago   82 comments top 10
4 points by wallflower 2 hours ago 0 replies      
To be fair, Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad just recently admitted (2011) to the existence of the ownership foundation.

> In an email from Ikea sent to the TT news agency, Kamprad admits that the Interogo Foundation in Liechtenstein exists and that it owns Inter Ikea Holding SA, which in turn owns Inter Ikea.

"Interogo Foundation is a company foundation whose only goal is to invest in the expansion of the company business and secure its long-term survival. In other words, the assets of the Interogo Foundation are held as financial security and are only used if Inter Ikea has financial difficulties," wrote Kamprad.

"The assets can also be used to support individual Ikea dealers who have financial difficulties or for philanthropic purposes. Interogo Foundation is controlled by my family and is administered by a board of directors consisting only of outside representatives." he added.


30 points by forgottenpaswrd 6 hours ago 11 replies      
"FEW tasks are more exasperating than trying to assemble flat-pack furniture from IKEA"

Am I the only one that enjoy assembling flat-pack furniture and believe it is extremely easy?.

2 points by sudonim 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The story would be much different if Ikea's owners were American.

American citizens don't have the same affordances as foreign nationals when it comes to tax minimization. If these foundations for Ikea were majority owned by Americans, they would be subject to taxation by the IRS, regardless of in which country they were created.

3 points by jimmybot 5 hours ago 5 replies      
What's terrible about IKEA's whole tax avoidance scheme is that it gives an unfair advantage to IKEA over Target, Walmart, etc. who are all presumably paying expected amounts of corporate tax and additionally, by virtue of being public companies, provide a great amount of transparency versus IKEA.

Another example of a business built in part on a tax loophole--Amazon.com and its online brethren whose customers generally don't pay sales tax. That's a huge, unfair retail advantage compared to Barnes & Noble and other brick-and-mortar stores, especially since retail margins are generally so thin.

4 points by ebaysucks 7 hours ago replies      
Love it. Makes my furniture cheaper.

The only thing unethical about it is that these tax avoidance schemes have inherit economies of scale - startups can't afford the advice.

The solution is not to eliminate the tax paradises (which would cause a revolution btw), but to eliminate the tax code altogether.

If your ideology insists on coercion than at least make it a flat rate.

Edit: I get accused of supporting corporatism below. I don't. I just support anyone to avoid taxes as much as possible and oppose all forms of collectivism.

4 points by vitobcn 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a pretty common scenario for international companies. Maybe most of them do not go as far as IKEA and lock their whole corporate structure, but most of them manage to achieve pretty low corporate tax rates. As an example Google was estimated to achieve an effective tax rate of only 2.4% [1]

[1] Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-21/google-2-4-rate-sho...

5 points by mmmmax 6 hours ago 1 reply      
What's with posting articles from 2006? There are more recent sources with updates, including from FT.com (behind a paywall) and the investigative documentary about this which aired last week in Sweden:
3 points by toadi 5 hours ago 0 replies      
They should come to Belgium. We have something called 'notionele interest aftrek' (http://www.kpmg.com/BE/en/Whatwedo/Interests/NotionalInteres...).

As an example:

Suez Tractebel, Energy Europe Invest en GDF Suez CC had a profit before tax : 4,8 bilion euro.

Together they payed 2,3 milion euro tax. This is a tax rate of 0,049%.

Oh these are the Gas & electricity companies in Belgium.

1 point by ashbrahma 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Google cut its taxes by $3.1 billion in the last three years using a technique that moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda (Double Irish).
1 point by bound008 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is an amazing write-up i read to counteract the piece about google's tax avoidance... I had to find it on another site though, how do you get the link to go around the paywall?
Can a Computer Do Your Job? falkenblog.blogspot.com
18 points by ciscoriordan 3 hours ago   9 comments top 4
8 points by Deestan 1 hour ago 3 replies      
> In studies of expert performance admissions people are less good at predicting UG[undergrad] GPA than a simple algorithm. (The "algorithm" is simply a weighted sum of SAT and HS GPA!)

If you replace the admissions people with a simple algorithm (or even a complex one), you get a machine that can be gamed very efficiently. In a couple of years, the algorithm is going to suck unless you have a team of experts constantly changing it. (Hi, Google!)

6 points by zdw 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The relevant XKCD: http://xkcd.com/793/

90% of what people do in a job is mundane, simple stuff an interested hobbyist could figure out to do. That last 10% is what people get paid for.

1 point by Wawl 22 minutes ago 0 replies      
Reminds me of this article : http://lesswrong.com/lw/3gv/statistical_prediction_rules_out... which talked about similar algorithm in statistics
2 points by sramam 1 hour ago 1 reply      
wonder if PG can apply a similar "simple trick" to predict YC applicant success!
Today, Web Development Sucks harry.me
4 points by hbrundage 38 minutes ago   discuss
The NYC subway system as a string instrument mta.me
261 points by clofresh 18 hours ago   36 comments top 10
20 points by Jun8 18 hours ago 2 replies      
This is really intense! I salute the mind level that conceives such a concept (and comes up with a cool visualization).
5 points by IgorPartola 18 hours ago 1 reply      
This is very cool. Here's our way of visualizing buses driving around in a novel way: http://labs.transloc.com/streetview/
10 points by CognitiveLens 17 hours ago 0 replies      
In case you haven't discovered it - you can click-and-drag your mouse across the lines to make sounds in addition to waiting for the lines to 'pluck' themselves
2 points by lsb 18 hours ago 0 replies      
It's wonderful, if a little odd, to think of the NYC subway as a plucked guitar, versus the familiar steel-on-steel "ka-chunk, ka-chunk" as the trains rumble on the (unwelded) tracks.
5 points by icefox 18 hours ago 6 replies      
Loading Sound is always at 0% for me.
3 points by britta 16 hours ago 1 reply      
They should crash and shatter, like lightcycles.
2 points by jefe78 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This is amazing. Would you consider offering a tutorial to implement alternate systems(other cities)?
2 points by louhong 17 hours ago 1 reply      
This is pretty creative - does anyone have suggestions on how I can convert this into a screensaver?
1 point by goldins 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Open up a few tabs for a more fun and chaotic track!

Though I am having some syncing issues when one of the tabs is active.

1 point by zelandpanther 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting, it's creative and artistic engineering.
Viral Video: IBM Turns 100 allthingsd.com
42 points by bjonathan 7 hours ago   16 comments top 8
4 points by Loic 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This video is really, really nice. A must look. What is really incredible is that the "Think" motto of IBM is nearly as old as the company and still very up-to-date. Very few people know how involved is IBM in research in "hard" sciences. This video is a good reminder (As a kid I was lucky to travel around the world following my mother who did a lot of collaboration with IBM in the field of Silicium/Germanium electronics, so I am biased).

The point I liked a lot, especially because quite controversial, a little kid telling: "Patents, patents, patents, ..." (near the year 2000).

4 points by wardrox 2 hours ago 0 replies      
One of the strongest memories I have regarding IBM is from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I visited it on a school trip to Washington years ago, I took with me quite a few very strong memories, and one, was of a machine used by the Germans to help produce the Jewish Registry. It was sat behind some glass, with the easy to recognise IBM logo stamped proudly in the corner.

As I say it was a fair few years ago and I was quite young, but it made me start to realise that business has basically no morals. It's probably shaped the way I view business today. Not super dramatically, don't get me wrong, but this video reminded me of that.

You can Google for IBMs involvement with the holocaust, it's quite interesting.

5 points by geuis 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Even though the video is focused on IBM, it very much puts into perspective the sheer amount of progress that has been made in computation in 100 years. Its amazing.
2 points by Swizec 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Wait, did I hear that correctly. They went from 5 cofounders to 1300 employees in a year!?

This ... this makes me feel really bad about my entrepreneurial efforts.

4 points by thret 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Great video, enjoyed it a lot.

At 11:53, A man says: "I've discovered a way to build curiosity into a system". Does anyone know who he is and what he means by that?

-1 point by macov 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Do they still have employees in the USA?
-4 points by what-to-do 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Way too long, must have been made by a 60 years old.
-4 points by abdd0e77 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Marketing blather. IBM is irrelevant unless you're an old business. Also, I was disappointed they didn't bring up the fact that Watson himself met with Hitler in order to help him automate the Holocaust.
A paradoxical math ratio mindyourdecisions.com
45 points by strategy 7 hours ago   18 comments top 5
8 points by pmjordan 5 hours ago 2 replies      
"This itself is a rather surprising result: Euler's constant e comes out of nowhere!"

Is it? There's an integral with a 1/x term[1]. How exactly is it surprising that logarithms start showing up? I realise integrating by hand is a pain, but surely it's a good idea to at least think about the integral expression before typing it into Wolfram Alpha. (EDIT: to clarify - the author takes integration for granted, yet is surprised when the integral evaluates to a logarithm; this makes little sense to me, integrating polynomials is the first thing they teach you)

[1] 1/(1-x) is transformed into 1/y in a pretty straightforward substitution. When you do that with our actual integrals, you find yourself with 2 identical integrals, as you well should, given the symmetry. My solution was actually to look at the distribution of breaks already sorted into short & long, which means doing only one of the integrals (short sticks are 0..1/2) and divide by the range, since we're taking an average (i.e. multiply by 2).

1 point by mhb 55 minutes ago 0 replies      
I like this alternative problem statement (not for the ratio part): If you break a stick in two places, what is the probability that the pieces can make a triangle?

There is a nice geometrical solution which is described here:

5 points by archgoon 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I think the bonus question is more counter-intuitive, not only is the inverse ratio not the reciprocal, it doesn't exist.
1 point by wlievens 5 hours ago 1 reply      
It's a funny trick, but it touches on something that I can't help but feel is completely nonsensical: repeatedly picking random numbers from an infinite set.

It's basically a longer version of the following trick:

1) Pick a random real number in the range [0, 1]

2) Pick another

3) What is the probability that they are identical?

For another example, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_paradox_%28probability...

0 points by 3pt14159 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is pretty basic math. A fun puzzle for high school students maybe, but anyone remembering any of their comp sci or engineering courses should be able to solve this very quickly.
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