hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    25 Jul 2011 News
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Who's your SSH buddy? jgc.org
50 points by jgrahamc  1 hour ago   42 comments top 16
urbanjunkie 1 hour ago 4 replies      
Before you get into half-arsed solutions like having an ssh buddy, disable root login and password authentication.
rb2k_ 1 hour ago 4 replies      
> someone I could call and give credentials to so they could log in and shutdown the machine.

I'm not going to be able to read out my private key over the phone. I guess this is only for password based authentication.

ErrantX 1 hour ago 1 reply      
My custom monitoring program (probably not as advanced, it only does some light monitoring) accepts a text message back to shutdown the machine.

Not perfect but can work well as a line of defence.

kondro 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Umm... my iPhone, iPad and MacBook are my SSH buddies?
hardy263 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
Though the main problem if someone breaks into your system, the first person you'd suspect is your SSH buddy, because there is a possibility of them using a public machine to log in. Who would want to carry the burden of being your first suspect?
espo 1 hour ago 0 replies      
My SSH buddy is iSSH from the App Store. Always available when I need him.
skrebbel 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
i don't get this. is it about a personal site? if so, how paranoid can you be? or is it about a professional site? if so, who not try calling a colleague?
moe 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I think that guy needs to work on his paranoia.
dmoney 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Why not have the IDS shut down the machine itself?
thehodge 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Isn't there a service where you can SMS something like shutdown, restart or other commands for the box to respond to, that would help in that instance where net access is poor
modokode 52 minutes ago 0 replies      
Wouldn't a OTP scheme like OPIE be able to do this decently? My own computers do not permit root login via ssh, but still it'd be more or less a trivial matter to set up a local account for your "SSH buddy", and then over the phone give him the next OTP in sequence for the root account or so for a successful su - -c halt.
keyle 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Any idea of what he uses to send SMS from his box?
koushikn 1 hour ago 1 reply      
No ssh client still on iphones?
bahman2000 1 hour ago 0 replies      
can you not ssh from your phone?
corin_ 1 hour ago 0 replies      
If you read it properly you'll see that he wasn't notified because of the intrusion attempts, but because he screwed up some code which was scanning the log files. It's not like every time someone port scans him it sends an SMS.
forgotusername 35 minutes ago 1 reply      
This is a pretty pointless idea. If someone has root on your machine for even 500ms that's already too late to trust any of its state without a complete reinstall (and even this is not enough for an advanced attacker).

Inevitably, if you have such a buddy, all they can really say is "yup, I'm not the only user here", and you're back at square one.

A better investment of the time would be systematizing your configurations, so in this situation you can just rebuild a new machine and kill the old one (ideally, after figuring out how the password was compromised in the first place).

Steve Jobs: "Your phone is the dumbest f***ing idea I have ever heard" osxdaily.com
27 points by pstadler  42 minutes ago   10 comments top 4
Kylekramer 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
While that quote is all nice and well post-iPhone, in the context of mid 2006 it just comes off as dickish. Also indicates a lack of introspection coming from a person who recently released this POS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola_ROKR_E1
nikcub 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
kind of funny since at the same time Steve Jobs gathered media and hype together in a special keynote to present to the world the Motorola/Apple ROKR - which is definitely the worst and most over-hyped phone ever released by anybody.
MatthewPhillips 26 minutes ago 2 replies      
In case you tldr: Steve Jobs is a dick.
nextparadigms 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
This actually reminds of me HTC's "Facebook phones", which I think are almost as dumb of an idea.
Where unit testing fails hmemcpy.com
35 points by fafssaf  3 hours ago   16 comments top 8
peteretep 2 hours ago 1 reply      

Listen kids, testing is a tool for HELPING THE DEVELOPER, not for using to engage in a "more pious than thou" dick-swinging my Cucumber is bigger than yours idiocy.

Testing is about giving YOU THE DEVELOPER useful and quick feedback about if you're on the right path, and if you've broken something, and for warning people who come after you if they've broken something. It's not an arcane methodology that somehow has some magical "making your code better" side-effect...

The whole concept of "test driven development" is hocus, and I speak this as someone who writes a lot of tests, and who charges a lot of money for fixing test suites. Instead: developer-driven testing. Give your developers useful tools for solving problems and supporting themselves, rather than disappearing in to some testing hell where you're doing it a certain way because you're supposed to.

Luyt 2 hours ago 0 replies      
The exact Sudoku URLs mentioned in the article, just checked/updated:

Ravi's article: http://ravimohan.blogspot.com/2007/04/learning-from-sudoku-s...

Peter Norvig's solver: http://norvig.com/sudoku.html

Ron Jeffries' attempts:






And, as dessert (Ron is very frank about his failures):


"This is surely the most ignominious debacle of a project listed on my site, even though others have also not shipped. (Sudoku did not ship and will not. Shotgun will go forward if the Customer wants to.)"

latch 2 hours ago 0 replies      
There are a couple tricks to effective unit testing. Ultimately though, the goal is to write non-brittle tests. That is, tests that won't break due to unrelated changes. Get this wrong and the cost of maintaining your tests will outweigh the benefits.

Achieving this, in my experience, comes down to disciplined used of mocks and stubs. I've seen people lean too heavily on them, or not heavily enough. The biggest problem I've seen, particularly common in the Java world due to jMock's datedness, is over specifying expectations on mocks. Stubs which can provide canned responses (whether through a framework or manually rolled) are absolutely and totally the most underused yet useful tool in your testing arsenal.

perlgeek 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Ok, TDD didn't help with designing an algorithm for Lychrel number - because you just don't get around implementing the loop that tests if a number is a lychrel number, and it's very simple.

But to me that's not the whole purpose of unit tests - the most important part for me is that it tells you very quickly when you have bugs in your implementation. Somehow the author neglects to address this very central point.

augustl 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I like to think of it this way:

When writing code it is imperative to to get great feedback, as often as possible. In a number of cases, TDD helps you do that. In cases where it don't, well, it doesn't, so don't use it.

nickik 2 hours ago 0 replies      
First write the high level test. Then start implmenting and when you writte a helper function, write a little test for that function too.

Don't just write all the test for every little function in the beginning thats stupid, How do you even know what helper function you need to implment.

fafssaf 1 hour ago 0 replies      
What are some cases that you would and wouldn't use unit tests? Igal is doing a webinar https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/545851563
chrislloyd 1 hour ago 2 replies      
I can't help but appreciate the irony of a link titled "Where unit testing fails" leading to a WordPress database connection error.
Faster than jQuery(document).ready() - Wait Until Exists javascriptisawesome.blogspot.com
26 points by AltIvan  3 hours ago   13 comments top 9
cstuder 2 hours ago 2 replies      
You know how you can accelerate your page even further?

Don't use 1.49mb large GIF animations as background images...

spjwebster 1 hour ago 1 reply      
DOMNodeInserted is deprecated in the DOM Level 3 Events recommendation, along with all the other mutation events:


They have been deprecated because they perform poorly:

> Firefox, for example, when it realizes that a mutation event has been turned on, instantly goes into an incredibly-slow code path where it has to fire events at every single DOM modification. This means that doing something like .innerHTML = "foo" where it wipes out 1000 elements would fire, at least 1000 + 1 events (1000 removal events, 1 addition event).


> Mutation Events are widely acknowledged as “slow” in terms of the real performance degradation that occurs on websites that use them heavily for tracking changes to the DOM


tszming 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
The polling approach is already used in the YUI2' onAvailable method.

But your code should be faster -because you are polling at the 5ms interval!

mathias 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Why are you comparing this to `jQuery(document).ready()`? Apples and oranges.

You say it's faster, but fail to provide any numbers / a jsPerf test case. I'm sure it's faster to execute `waituntilexists()` initially, but if you take into account it uses an 5ms interval in which it traverses the DOM for the same elements over and over again until they're finally found, it seems it probably has a negative impact on performance overall.

What's wrong with event delegation anyway?

biot 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Given that you're releasing this as open source, why not put it into a GitHub account instead of Pastebin?
ck2 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Very clever.

I'd like to know if there is any performance hit though, NodeInserted fires on basically on every single fraction of page creation.

valisystem 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Quick remarks :

* I could test it myself, but I expected to have in the article detailed information on the different possible states the document can have when my callback is called. The questions I know the answer when waiting for the whole document to be loaded : Is it half loaded ? What is the DOM state ? Is completely loaded ? If not, have the document JavaScript code been entirely ran ? and so on. This kind of question left unanswered often lead to hard bites.

* why using "itself" ? I would have used a "sensible default" : when no context is given, use the waited DOM object instead of an arbitrary value (document), and use something else when it is explicitly given. The "itself" thing should be left as an internal flag IMHO.

acangiano 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Something like this should be built-in in jQuery.

You can do $(document).ready(), why not, the admittedly syntax sugared, $("div#main").ready().

Jencha 1 hour ago 1 reply      
"it's faster" - but where are the numbers?
Airbnb bags $112 million in Series B From Andreessen, DST And General Catalyst techcrunch.com
97 points by guynamedloren  7 hours ago   13 comments top 10
pg 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I recently went to an office warming party at Airbnb's new place. My first thought when I walked out of the elevator was "this company is going public." A lot of startups, even quite big ones, hope/expect in the backs of their minds that one day they'll end up being acquired. But Airbnb has palpably settled in for the long haul, and you can sense it. And that is a big source of power for them.
calbear81 6 hours ago 0 replies      
My best guess for where the $112 million is going is not for cashing out but for rapidly expanding abroad where they're seeing clones rise quickly and gain traction (Wimdu, 9flats). I expect to see a few small acquisitions to build out more inventory in Asia (East Asia + Australia) and probably South America. Congrats to the team on their success over the last year, I recommend AirBnB to my friends all the time.
tjmc 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Congratulations guys. Airbnb saved our weary butts when a plane delay stranded us in Paris last month. There were no hotels or hostels left at the time, but Airbnb found us a cracking apartment right on the Seine a block away from the Eiffel Tower! So all the best for the next phase - well deserved.
jmspring 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Great news for the service. I've used it a couple of times (both domestically and abroad) and have an upcoming trip abroad planned with them.

Execution in this realm is key. It has both users and hosts motivated and engaged. The recommendation system allows for visible feedback both on the places and the people looking for places, and for me, this is key.

I won't book a place that doesn't have existing good feedback. In my last international trip, I skipped a more convenient venue that had no comments and the host indicated "if anyone asks, you are a friend" for a couple that had an established good track record a bit farther away. The additional information is very helpful.

I hope the guys prosper.

SoftwarePatent 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Does anyone know if the founders put some cash in their pockets off of this?
azymnis 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome news for an awesome company! Congrats guys!
TimJRobinson 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic! I absolutely love AirBNB's story because it shows that good things can come to those who persist against all odds.
w1ntermute 7 hours ago 2 replies      
What happened to them getting banned in NYC?
keke_ta 2 hours ago 0 replies      
jchrisa 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"bags" makes funding sound like revenue. It's not.
Twice the height of the Empire State - massive solar tower for AZ gizmag.com
133 points by aditiyaa1  9 hours ago   90 comments top 19
Spyro7 7 hours ago 5 replies      
I love this technology a whole lot, but this is Hacker News so it is worthwhile to think critically about this kind of "press release"-style news posting. This article does a bit of hand waving with the numbers, and, while this is an amazingly cool project, I think that they are overselling its benefits.

First, let's get the terminology right. This plant has a capacity of 200 MW. That does not mean that it produces 200 MWh. The formula for converting MW into (annual) MWh is the following:

MWh = MWx365x24xCF

In the above formula, CF is the capacity factor. Capacity factor is basically the amount of energy that a plant is actually able to produce over the course of a year divided by the total capacity of the plant. Here are some common capacity factors for various industries (taken from a private document, so no sources but this stuff is easy enough to google):

* Coal - 65-95%

* Natural Gas - 35-65%

* Hydro - 25-65%

* Solar - 20-35%

* Wind - 20-35%

* Nuclear - 80%+

Capacity factors are never 100% for various reasons:

* Plants may need to be taken offline for refueling, maintenance, or inspection

* For renewables, the wind isn't always going at full speed and the sun isn't always shining

* A whole bunch of other things that I am too tired to list (read the references below, they have some more in them)

Now, let's look at this new project, and one of the claims made in this article.

According to the article, this plant will be able to provide power for 150,000 homes. According to the EIA, the average household annual energy usage is 10,896 KWh. Given this information and using a more generous solar capacity factor (35%):

Number of Homes Powered = (200x365x24x.35) / 10.896 = 56,278 homes

Hmm, well that's just a bit less than what the article claimed, so they must be assuming a really amazing capacity factor for this estimate. Let's solve the below for cf and see what we get....


cf = approx. 93%

Look, I'm all for scientific advancement and alternative energy, but can we try to be more sensible than this? This is a highly improbable capacity factor.

Documents available from Enviro Mission says that the simulated capacity factor will be more like 50%. When we plug that number into the equation we get about 80,397 homes, which is pretty sensible. However, we have to remember that these are only simulated numbers. There are no similar projects currently available that can be compared to this one, so the actual capacity factor may be either more or less.

Note: Please keep in mind that efficiency is a totally different concept from capacity factor. Efficiency is typically used to describe how well a plant transfers from its energy source into electricity^. The capacity of a plant is a number that already incorporates the plant's efficiency. The capacity factor is simply a measure of how much of that capacity is actually used on an annual basis on average.

^ I am not an electrical engineer. I am an economist, that is the best definition I can come up with.

Disclaimer: I am incredibly tired right now, so if any errors appear in the above posting please send me some coffee so that I can correct them before falling asleep.


+ http://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.cfm?id=97&t=3

+ http://www.solarpaces.org/CSP_Technology/docs/solar_tower.pd...

+ http://www.enviromission.com.au/IRM/Company/ShowPage.aspx?CP...

Edit: Formatting was all messed up the first time. Forgot to include some additional information. Added clarification on efficiency.

kylec 7 hours ago 5 replies      

    The Arizona tower will be a staggering 800 metres or so tall - just 30 meters
shorter than the colossal Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world's tallest
man-made structure.

Is there any reason why this can't be constructed to be 831 meters tall to edge out the Burj Dubai?

ajkessler 8 hours ago 6 replies      
Really? Very cool idea, but some of the claims sound downright ridiculous.

First, the zero maintenance claim that is touted at least 3 times by the article seems suspicious. You can't really leave anything out in the desert sun and not have to maintain or replace it. Sun will disintegrate a lot of material, not to mention wind and sand. Anybody have any info or insight into what material they are using to create the "greenhouse"?

Additionally, the claim that "In fact, because you're creating a greenhouse underneath, it actually turns out to be remarkably good for growing vegetation under there." does not seem to jibe at all with the claimed temperatures ("add in the greenhouse effect and you've got a temperature under your collector somewhere around 80-90 degrees (176-194 F)"). I'm not sure I'm familiar with any vegetation that grows in near 200 degree temperatures.

Does anyone have any actual experience with this kind of tech?

nhebb 7 hours ago 1 reply      
If anyone was curious about the funding for this (I was), EnviroMission has a press release on their site [1]. "The Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) has taken a call option to purchase the first of two EnviroMission 200MW Solar Tower power stations planned for development in La Paz County, Arizona." It does seem odd, though, that they are building these in Arizona when California has its own deserts.

[1] http://www.enviromission.com.au/EVM/Company/ShowPage.aspx/PD...

adaml_623 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been following Enviromission for quite a while now (maybe since 2001?). I check out their website once a year or so to see how they are going. They have been championing this technology for quite a while.

I think it's sad that there are so many people doing back of the envelope calculations and wasting time typing them into Hacker News. There are 100s of millions of dollars involved people. Someone qualified will check the figures. And really it's not rocket science.

serichsen 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Big toy.

For one, maintenance will _not_ be low. Wind turbines (and nothing else is used here) do have quite some maintenance costs, and additionally, you need to keep the greenhouse clean.

The main problem I see is the capacity. 200 MW peak capacity at 60% efficiency translates to 120 MW peak electric energy. If we assume 50% capacity factor (which I suspect is _very_ generous), we arrive at 60 MWe average output. You would need 15 of these to substitute for a single 1 GW nuclear plant.

Big toy.

Detrus 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I don't see it mentioned in the article, but the greenhouse must be colossal. These updraft towers use land far less efficiently than concentrated solar and those don't use land efficiently either.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_updraft_tower

A 200 MW power plant with the same 1000-metre-high tower would need a collector 7 kilometres in diameter (total area of about 38 km²). The 38 km² collecting area is expected to extract about 0.5 percent, or 5 W/m² of 1 kW/m², of the solar power that falls upon it. Note that in comparison, concentrating thermal (CSP) or photovoltaic (CPV) solar power plants have an efficiency ranging between 20% to 31.25%

38 square kilometers, these things don't make sense if you don't use the greenhouse for something. Hopefully the wiki is outdated and they have a higher efficiency.

sliverstorm 9 hours ago 4 replies      
60%? Darn. I was hoping for better after the hype earlier in the article. Don't large steam plants approach 99%?

150,000 US Homes

Is that a lot? I hate to (continue to) be a cynic, but it doesn't sound like a lot.

Groxx 3 hours ago 0 replies      
You mean they're actually going through with it? Awesome! I hope it works as well as planned.

I'm extremely interested in the aftermath of all this. The building itself is clever and all, but what will the ecological impact be? Wind farms kill birds and bats and there's evidence the sound drives many more off, concentrated solar has a nasty habit of significantly heating the air around the plant and hydro-dams are enormously destructive no matter how you look at it. What's a 1/2-mile-tall heat pump going to do?

mcdaid 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder what effect this could have on the local climate. Pumping out hot air into cool air at height of 800 metres has got to have some affect.

Now if the base is used area is used for growing plants then the air emitted at the top would be moist, which I imagine would cause cloud formation as it meets the cold air.

nixy 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a question out of pure curiosity, I'm not very well read on these subjects, so please forgive me if this is a dumb one.

Is there any reason why this can't be built as an underground structure? If it's working on temperature differentials, shouldn't you be able to achieve a more constant capacity by plugging it into earth where temperatures change less?

gavinballard 8 hours ago 1 reply      
For any other Aussies that, like me, vaguely remember the plans for building this near Mildura but can't be bothered watching the video to find out why it didn't happen, the reason cited is a "complete lack of incentives".

Sad that something like this couldn't get a dime from the Australian government while the US "welcomed them with open arms" (and, presumably, truckloads of cash).

Luyt 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I see two insurmountable problems with this solar tower, in this age of rising environmental concerns and increasing influence of environmental pressure groups:

- The base of the tower covers a huge piece of land, which is now home to various desert creatures. Changing their habitat is unacceptable from the environmental protectionists' viewpoint. The precious creatures (probably some endangered species too) would probably die.

- Visual pollution. Nobody wants to have ugly structures in his backyard, let alone a half-a-mile-high tower which will be visible from a huge area. It detonates with the natural desert views of Arizona.

Because of these two reasons, this solar tower project will face years of litigation from environmental pressure groups, and in the end the project will probably stall.

waterlesscloud 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Since this seems to work on temperature differentials, could you run it up the side of a mountain? Seems you could get height differences of 5-7k feet in a lot of places with that approach...
meow 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Why does it have to be that tall ? is it because the top end becomes much cooler with more height ?
ForrestN 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Wonderful if it works as described! That's quite a bit of power. I'd be very interested to know comparisons in terms of how long a traditional power plant takes to become profitable, and also how much initial investment this project is requiring.
Jach 7 hours ago 0 replies      
For just $2trillion, we could build enough of these to supply power for 300m homes!
vonSeckendorff 8 hours ago 2 replies      
The article insists on the plant's low maintenance costs, so this may be a stupid question, but won't the greenhouse* have to be washed regularly of dust? I imagine the accumulation of detritus would significantly impact power production.

Edit: I previously had written mirrors. The concept art looked misleadingly shiny.

awarzzkktsyfj 8 hours ago 2 replies      
The Empire State is New York State: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_State

Or did the article headline really mean the empire state BUILDING? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_State_Building

Facebook's Secret iPad App Exposed [Pictures] techcrunch.com
20 points by tilt  3 hours ago   7 comments top 4
schrototo 1 hour ago 1 reply      
As an aside, this is the most ridiculous pageview-inflating image gallery I've ever seen on a tech-tabloid site. It's not even possible to advance from one image to the next, you have to always go back to the main article!
ThomPete 53 minutes ago 2 replies      
Maybe I am just not getting it, maybe I am in my sceptic mood or maybe I am getting sensationalist news fatigue.

It's an iPad app yes, so what? Where someone expecting that FB wouldn't do an iPad app? Why is it secret? Does it do anything remarkable?

It seems like this is news because it's FaceBook not because the app in itself is interesting.

buddydvd 51 minutes ago 0 replies      
From the screenshots, you can see the photo viewer displaying a scrubber view (row of thumbnails). This strongly suggests that this app is built using Jeff Verkoeyen's Nimbus framework. If you're building (or built) apps using Three20, it'll probably be good idea to follow the Nimbus framework on Github.




aberkowitz 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
Thanks to TechCrunch, Facebook no longer needs a marketing department.
Google Plus to relax the "real names only" restriction? google.com
17 points by thristian  3 hours ago   6 comments top 3
mfringel 58 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm somewhat concerned that "find a way to use pseudonyms" is some implementation of "multiple pseudonyms, as long as you have your real name on an umbrella account", which completely misses the point.
iwwr 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Is there some credence to the rumor that having a g+ account could shut you out of other google services, like gmail?
tty 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Wait, was it ever a "real name only" restriction? Didn't it always say that you should use the name that you "commonly use"?
JavaScript Enlightenment eBook has been released javascriptenlightenment.com
5 points by tbassetto  1 hour ago   3 comments top 2
wccrawford 40 minutes ago 1 reply      
Seems like it might be a decent book, but without an excerpt, or some reviews by people I trust, I can't really tell. And at $15, it's priced above my 'Ah, why not?' line.
mrjd 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
I agree, we need some kind of excerpt or something. The info from the table of contents looks interesting though.
Bitcoin is Not Anonymous anonymity-in-bitcoin.blogspot.com
107 points by harrigan  11 hours ago   47 comments top 9
feral 10 hours ago 4 replies      
I'm one of the authors.

This work is about looking at the Bitcoin transaction history as a network, and investigating privacy and anonymity, in practice, on it - something there's been a good bit of discussion around recently.

You can see a lot of non-obvious things, when you 'collapse' addresses, as we describe in the paper, and look at it as a network.

We're not really talking about the extent to which Bitcoin itself is useful as a currency, or investment - that's a whole other topic, and a big one.

If anyone has any questions on the work we did, if you post them here or on the blog, I'll try and answer.

seanalltogether 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
I imagine it will be much harder to track the flow of bitcoins as soon as larger laundering services start popping up. For instance if a major poker site switched entirely to bitcoin then then it would be very easy for someone to stash a large amount of coins in the service and pull them out slowly over time to a separate wallet. Right now it's hard to stay anonymous because there are no large anonymous entities processing transactions to hide your own transactions within.
gigantor 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Of course Bitcoin is not anonymous. The moment you make a purchase that contains some personal information about you (whether your name, IP, address, etc.) with your current wallet, any future purchases can be mapped back to you using your purchase graph. Difficult, yes, but the frequent intent with security is not to stop things cold in its tracks, but to make it such a chore to thwart all but the most dedicated intruders.

But that's not the point of Bitcoin's anonymous capabilities. The relative ease which you can create multiple wallets and keep your questionable Silk Road and Wikileaks donation purchases separate, as opposed to creating multiple offshore bank accounts in Switzerland, can establish a high degree of anonymity. Almost like how drug dealers use prepaid cell phones and discard them for new ones the moment they suspect something is compromised.

hasanove 5 hours ago 1 reply      
https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Anonymity says pretty much the same, though in a general terms

"The main problem is that every transaction is publicly logged. Anyone can see the flow of Bitcoins from address to address (see first image). Alone, this information can't identify anyone because the addresses are just random numbers. However, if any of the addresses in a transaction's past or future can be tied to an actual identity, it might be possible to work from that point and figure out who owns all of the other addresses. This identity information might come from network analysis, surveillance, or just Googling the address. The officially-encouraged practice of using a new address for every transaction is designed to make this attack more difficult."

Not that you are saying they claimed otherwise and it is exactly your article that made me look through this page in detail, so thanks for that.

Groxx 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome depth, many many thanks for the analysis! I'll definitely be reading this more thoroughly when I'm more awake :)

The moral of the story is still what it's always been, and it's a two-parter: 1) anonymity is only as anonymous as how you use it. And, because Bitcoin's transaction history is public, it's very very hard to use it truly anonymously. And 2) very few people go to even reasonable lengths to stay anonymous. For most, I simply doubt they think it's worth the effort - why anonymize legitimate use?

lukesandberg 11 hours ago 4 replies      
I don't understand why someone would hold a large amount of money in BTC. The only real value i see for BTC is in secure online transactions. Basically a 'last mile' currency that should be used much like cash. So having some money in BTC would make sense (say < $200 US) just for the convenience of secure online purchases. But why would someone transfer a large amount of wealth into BTC? It seems like the digital equivalent of stuffing your money into your mattress. Am I wrong on this? is there some major benefit that im missing?
jsmcgd 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"We contract all vertices whose corresponding public-keys belong to the same user." How?
drivebyacct2 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Okay, it's not anonymous but it's easy to receive money at a wallet that is otherwise unidentifiable (and thus can be sent in a way equally unlinked to your real identity or public wallet endpoint).
dfc 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Bitcoin is pseudonymous. I have always been a little irratated that the developers have not tried to dispel the myth that it is anonymous. I am not sure if they ever said it was anonymous but they do not do enough (in my opinion) to stress that it is not anonymous.
Ask HN: How should I apply for U.S. jobs as a non-resident?
11 points by imalolz  54 minutes ago   discuss
The nytimes they are a-changin' okayfail.com
51 points by sahillavingia  8 hours ago   17 comments top 8
petercooper 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This did well on HN a week ago too: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2778219

Seeing so many signs in the last year that HN is formed of different overlapping audiences that visit at different times of the day. Tons of dupes lately.

spudlyo 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, I had no idea the ads were so huge and invasive. It made me wonder how much Ralph Lauren spent to have their ads take what seemed to be over 50% of the on-screen real estate.
citricsquid 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It's interesting to see the typo fixes and how long different stories last. At 2:11 a story relevant to us all. I wonder (with regards to his point about things disappearing forever) if a distributed effort among "tech people" to catalog a lot of websites would work, different people run nodes that are given tasks. Would be neat to keep a track of the top 1,000 article driven sites for a year (not just news, reddit, hn etc.)

> Due to an errant cron task that ran twice an hour

This has happened to me a few times. Recently I had accidentally collected over 100,000 copies of a website over a 3 month period after forgetting the thing was running.

jbrkr 6 hours ago 1 reply      
This is based on an incorrect assumption: ... no one is storing their frontpage layout data.

The Newseum has this covered for over 800 newspapers. A recent front page of the New York Times, for example:


ck2 5 hours ago 0 replies      
If they collected the html and not just screencaps, it would be interesting to see a word-cloud evolve and change over time too.

Too bad there isn't an annual follow up for every major story.

rmccue 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Somewhat off-topic: watching the Chilean miners story in the video was heartwarming as the number rescued increased.
jwomers 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, completely agree about how the layout, and emphasis on different headlines, topics, categories, advertising etc.. are all huge indicators of society's interests and conceptions of the world. That said, I would be surprised to learn that the nyt doesn't store their front page every day into some archive? If they don't, then someone must!
adamfeldman 7 hours ago 1 reply      
The pace of news is the pulse of the day
The Future of Lighting arstechnica.com
57 points by necubi  9 hours ago   11 comments top 5
possibilistic 7 hours ago 0 replies      
A group of colleagues and I planning an attempt to elucidate some of the luciferin synthesis genes in our spare time. Much of the pathway is unknown at present, and there would be interesting applications given a complete understanding.

In the unlikely event that we manage to work out the entire system (which I doubt we can in our little free time), I can see us switching to a full time project trying to clone it into house plants or trees or something. I've got decent experience with agrobacterium and callus culture protocols, and we could use computational / systems biologic modelling to cut down the gene expression and regulation search space given some initial in vivo data.

Do you think we would be able to get private funding if we made headway? I haven't looked into that much, let alone biotech startups, but I would be very interested in starting one. It's unfortunately pretty costly work...

cdcarter 6 hours ago 0 replies      
OLEDs and LEDs however still don't have a CRI that matches that of a nice incandescent light.

There is much to-do in the theater world about when LED light sources will be able to take over the venerable HPL and other tungsten sources, and the ability to accurately light color is a major stopping point.

pimeys 2 hours ago 1 reply      
It's quite interesting why nobody's talking about making the light bulbs properly. For example the world's oldest still burning lightbulb in Livermore [1], which represents the technology when the bulbs were made to last.

Here in north the energy efficiency is bit different than in south. The heat the lights generate warm up the house and you cannot calculate the waste as you would in the warmer parts of the continent.

[1] http://www.centennialbulb.org/

eande 7 hours ago 0 replies      
A good written article about all the facets of the lighting industry including some cost analysis. Two things I found missing.
One is the LEP (Light Emitting Plasma), which is a also a very promising lighting technology, but not often covered in the media.
Another point I think crucial for LED is the possible control capability compared to fluorescent technology. With smart detection and bi or tri-level light output settings for LED light solutions at the current 100lm/W show savings at e.g parking is up to 60% alone.
riobard 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Not sure if it is just me, but I feel LED lamps emit inferior quality of light for reading. Hurts my eyes.
How to get started with functional programming johndcook.com
42 points by wglb  8 hours ago   17 comments top 5
katovatzschyn 5 hours ago 3 replies      
I maintain that the best way to get started with functional programming is to pick a functional language and try to write a program with it.
yason 3 hours ago 0 replies      
How to get started with functional programming? How to get started with programming? How to get started with anything?

Just start doing it, do some research for stuff you don't understand, and see if it flies for you.

I'm not an elitist although I might very well come out as one but any article with a title analogous to what's above is by definition missing the target. My reasoning goes that anyone who's worth his salt and interested in functional programming has got, or will get, started with it without any such an article. Anyone who's either not worth his salt or not interested in it will not start functional programming or programming or anything because of some article (or a few of them). In general, of course.

stephth 4 hours ago 2 replies      
I do like the idea of functional programming as a paradigm - that can be used in any language - and dodged when needed - much better than pure functional programming/languages. As a game designer, with so many state-dependent parts, and with so many refactoring iterations that come along with designing a game from the ground up, too much functional code would become a burden. The approach suggested here on the other hand - trying using to use FP as much as reasonable - allows me to benefit with FP when possible while maintaing agility.

In a language like c++, what would be an elegant naming convention to differentiate between pure functions and others?

nickik 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Just staying in your language is a very bad idea. The problem is that if your language and your librarys don't support FP very well you will have a very hard time. Even somebody that knows FP very well will have problems applying FP in a Java setting. Its surly possible but you will have a hard time.

Its better to start with a language that helps you do the right thing. Additionally if you do FP in Java or C++ you will not get all the benefits and after you tried it conclude that FP is not worth it.

Start with Haskell, ML, Clojure or something like that.

Uchikoma 3 hours ago 2 replies      
You do not need to start with functional programming, because if you're good, the probability is high you already do it (at least the Java devs I know do it).

This means immutable data structures, writing for composability, side effect free methods, list processing with "closures" instead of for loops etc.

India's Leading Export: CEOs time.com
38 points by pham  6 hours ago   32 comments top 9
teyc 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the article draw a rather long bow.

The bottom line is these people speak English and are perceived to be able to bridge the gap between the East and West.

kaze 4 hours ago 3 replies      
Since there are a billion plus Indians, the statistics say that you are bound to get a few very smart people from among them.
johnx123-up 3 hours ago 2 replies      
OT: From where these "fortune" companies take big projects? I have seen many Indian freelancers bid as low as $50 for 1-week worth projects. (We have used http://www.cssilize.com/ that charges as low as $35)
null_para 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Wrong generalization. How many fortune 500 CEOs are from India? I can count on my fingers (correct me if I'm wrong)

P.S. Part of my ethnicity is Indian..

jayzee 4 hours ago 2 replies      
pontiacred 4 hours ago 0 replies      
As a turbaned Sikh, it's encouraging to see Ajay Banga as the CEO of MasterCard. That being said I'd really like some elaboration on what they mean when they say Indian CEOs show a level of business ethics not seen in the west. It's based off a study done by Haygroup but they don't provide a link to the study or how it was carried out.

EDIT: http://www.haygroup.com/ww/Downloads/Details.aspx?ID=1187

This links to a white paper that I think is the one referred to in the article but you have to sign up to get it.

digamber_kamat 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Indians are self obsessed with such things. Time to move beyond this silly rhetoric.
known 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Indians among most corrupt while doing business abroad
lazy_nerd 5 hours ago 0 replies      
India has also given people like Rajat Gupta (ex-Mckinsey Director) and others involved in the insider trading case.
Google Plus: Tagging automatically shares private photos google.com
177 points by DVassallo  18 hours ago   83 comments top 10
BarkMore 8 hours ago 0 replies      
There's more than the privacy issue. If the tagged person does not have a Google+ account, then Google+ sends an email with subject "<Name of person tagging photo> invited you to join Google+" for every photo tagged. Spammy.
sdizdar 15 hours ago 6 replies      
This seems 100% reasonable to me. If somebody tags me I want to see that photo - and the entire album (since context is also important). I don't want that somebody starts taging me on some photos and then sharing these photos with others without me having chance to untag myself.
yaix 18 hours ago 1 reply      
I read it when I opened my G+ account, and it sounded to me pretty much like Buzz all over again. Hope that gets fixed soon.

Only because some guy you barely know made his way into one of your holiday photos, it doesn't mean you want to share your complete vacations with him. Probably not even that one picture, why should you be forced to?

jamesaguilar 18 hours ago  replies      
This is the behavior I expect. I don't think I'm alone in this.
jabo 17 hours ago 1 reply      
There's one more privacy feature/annoyance with photos on Google Plus. Apparently when I share an album with someone, that person in turn can share that album with other people and can also see who else I've shared it with. Now what's the point of a private album if everyone else can share my album. I like how Facebook solves this problem. You, as the album owner get to choose who sees the album. People who you've set the visibility as true cannot see who else I've shared it with.
pg 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The url stopped working. If anyone can find a new one that works, reply therewith.
daimyoyo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
"This move goes against Google's supposed philosophy of controlled sharing within circles."

This is exactly in keeping with google's philosophy. When the pictures are public, google can use them for advertising. Google+ was created to mine date to sell ads against. Why do you think Larry tied the bonuses this year to performance in social?

georgemcbay 17 hours ago 2 replies      
On the one hand, I can understand the point of view of the people who are upset about this and there should at least be a way to disable this behavior.

On the other hand I view putting photos online (or even just having them on a computer that connects to the Internet) as basically a binary sharing of that photo with the entire world already. The Internet is like a reverse black hole that sucks in all available information and then doesn't allow it to ever be truly destroyed. That view has become so deeply ingrained that I can't bring myself to personally care about this one way or the other... I just wouldn't put pictures on Google+ (or any other site) in the first place if I wasn't okay with the idea of the entire world eventually seeing it.

ryanspahn 14 hours ago 1 reply      
What's even worse that it automatically connected to Picasso which I must have used 5 or more years ago for some very private photos. When I signed up to google plus I was shocked to see these photos my ex gave me. There were under albums. I was horrified. I think connecting ur Picassa account to google plus was a bad decision. I never used it minus that one time years ago.

Fortunately I deleted them upon finding them a day later. Luckily I only had a few friends in my circle at the time.

Overall I'm not using it. I still use Facebook until everyone moves onto g plus.

pwzeus 15 hours ago 2 replies      
facebook is the sameway...no one is questioning that
Facebook's iPad App Is Hidden Inside Of Their iPhone App techcrunch.com
9 points by tilt  3 hours ago   discuss
Accidental Genius: How To Think dextronet.com
143 points by jirinovotny  16 hours ago   38 comments top 14
ThomPete 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Hmm I am not sure what to think about this.

It is my experience that "The art of thinking" comes in many shapes.

Some people are very clear in their thinking others are very messy. Some people need to speak rather than think, some people need to think rather than speak. Some people need to Doodle, some do 100 ideas in 10 minutes other do 10 ideas in 100 minutes.

I appreciate the purpose and the methods of the book. I am sure it's a fantastic way... for some people.

It's not necessarily for everyone.

wallflower 10 hours ago 0 replies      
If you are interested in FreeWriting, I highly recommend Keith Johnstone's "Impro"

In it he talks about doing a writing exercise while counting down from 100 simultaneously. That really preoccupies the limiting consciousness and lets stuff come out.

ulisesroche 14 hours ago 1 reply      
This kind of stuff is really important. I've done this for about a year now, read about it somewhere, called them Morning Pages, or something like that. It's really a daily brain dump, and I use Evernote to have the entries easily searchable and taggable. I also write right before I go to sleep and for lack of a better name, called them Evening Pages.

Once I got into the habit of doing them, I saw three other benefits: 1) I no longer needed stupid to-do lists, 2) Because I did them right when I woke up, before I was conscious enough to be self-conscious, I was brutally honest with myself, and got rid of my obnoxious depression, and 3) The daily practice really improved my writing.

Journaling really is a better form of meditation. I wish I'd gotten into the habit sooner.

Detrus 15 hours ago 2 replies      
http://750words.com/ is a cute tool for the writing exercises. I'm not a writer, just checked it out for a few days and didn't read the Accidental Genius book.

I got bored the second day. I didn't write down anything interesting, my free writing was so boring I didn't bother to read it after. Maybe I need more guidance like this book provides. Typically I write things down when I get an idea during thinking, not to do a writing exercise.

dpatru 10 hours ago 0 replies      
One good habit of thought not mentioned in the article is thinking in analogies. Comparison and contrast seem to be fundamental brain operations. Smart people express themselves in analogies, especially parables/stories. Always be thinking, "What is this like?" or "What does this remind me of?"
DharmaSoldat 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I tried a bit of this just a moment ago. Came up with the answer to a problem I've been thinking about for some time now. Additionally I thought of some great ideas for weekend projects.

I'm suitably impressed to keep trying it out to see what else I can do with it, if not to experiment a little - it is very much like monkeys at typewriters.

Anyone else feel this is like "intellectual improv"?

wccrawford 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm going to disagree that 'how to think' should be an alternate title. 'Accidental Genius' is exactly what it is... You just pour out your thoughts like monkeys at typewriters, hoping to get something good. Now, since we're a little better at typing than monkeys, chances are that you'll happen across some nuggets. But this should never be confused with actual logic which can be used on command to get results consistently, rather than randomly.

For a fiction writer, the difference may be negligible. For a rocket scientist, it's a matter of life and death. Literally.

andrewflnr 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Similar techniques have worked in the past for me, but I always wind up with a bunch of paper or computer text that I have no idea where to put. How do you organize all the data without interfering in its creation? Ideally, I'd like a solution that also incorporates all the little inspiration bits I get at various times, and other thoughts I'd like to keep.
da5e 15 hours ago 0 replies      
The New Diary by Christine Rainer is another good book on exploring through writing. It has many of the same techniques. The freewriting technique not only gives you ideas, but sometimes a sense of peace about what worries you.
astrofinch 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Speaking for myself, I solve hard math and computer science problems best by explaining my thinking aloud slowly and carefully to someone I want to impress but I know won't be judgmental if I screw up.
rluhar 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I have not read the book mentioned in the op, but I tend to use a somewhat similar technique to declutter my mind. When focusing on a particular problem, or topic I tend to scribble (or doodle) in my notebook without any constraints.

Once I have a good enough start point, I try and write down my thoughts in an email to (a possibly imaginary) a colleague who may be interested in what I have to say. The very fact that I now have an audience acts like a filter and helps me get to the crux of my idea very quickly. Writing for an audience also makes you evaluate what ideas may be relevant and what irrelevant.

Its even better if you have somebody you can use as a soundboard to talk about your ideas. Of course, thats not always possible (and is very obnoxious!), so the email method works better for me.

yojimbo311 5 hours ago 2 replies      
I may have missed something, but this doesn't feel like a review, it feels like he's rehashed and summarized every point in the book without adding any original content, beyond how he's been using the techniques. A nice glowing review with some choice summaries would have been plenty to get me to dig deeper and purchase the original book. After reading this though, I feel I've pretty much gotten everything I could have from the book and have no desire to actually purchase it, beyond supporting the original author. I enjoyed the material, and I think it's going to be really useful going forward, but maybe a Spoiler Alert warning would have been appropriate.
ForrestN 15 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be interesting to try this strategy with Workflowy. They talk about it being a way to keep your brain online or whatever, and it certainly allows for fast dumping of ideas. The question is whether its structure will cause you to want to edit while you're writing. You could just produce a ton of discreet notes as new lines, and then rearrange them later.
phyllotaxis 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This is my favorite read all week. Thank you! As an "idea writer" with plenty of notebooks around at all times to capture thought fairies, this is a freakin beautiful way to extend that practice and take it to many levels I hadn't even thought about. I will buy this book as thanks to the author and poster-
Samsung smartphone sales tipped to beat iPhone and Nokia in Q2 2011 androidcommunity.com
11 points by Garbage  2 hours ago   2 comments top
biturd 20 minutes ago 1 reply      
I will believe it when I see it. I would also like to see activation numbers, not units shipped/sold. Seems to me that we learn later that these companies are making and shipping in quantity, but they end up on shelves or in warehouses and never activated.

If that is the case, then this is nothing that matters, and it actually hurts the company to sit on inventory like this.

Graph and Network Analysis: Tutorial, datasets and code ucd.ie
47 points by alexmr  10 hours ago   3 comments top 3
mahmud 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I really enjoyed dabbling with JUNG: Java Universal Network/Graph Framework


JonnieCache 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks, these look useful.
doktrin 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Is the full tutorial available?
The presentation slides are great, by the way.
MacPorts 2.0 with Lion support now available macports.org
72 points by st3fan  12 hours ago   26 comments top 8
nathos 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Upgrading to Lion is a great time to make the switch to Homebrew: http://mxcl.github.com/homebrew/
dgallagher 10 hours ago 0 replies      
MacPorts 2.0 fixed all of the issues that I was having under Lion with 1.9.0. Thanks for upgrading guys! :)

To upgrade, make sure you install Xcode 4.1 via the App Store (free). That'll provide GCC. After:

    $ sudo port selfupdate
$ sudo port upgrade outdated

All old versions of Xcode (4.0.x/3.x) do not work with Lion.

dotBen 11 hours ago 3 replies      
I've been a happy homebrew user since it launched - anyone care to comment on the benefits/improvements of MacPorts V2 over homebrew?
Groxx 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Don't care. Switched to Homebrew. Much happier - no double-installs unless I want to, faster fixes, and waaaaay faster interaction. How MacPorts manages to run so slowly is beyond me.

MacPorts has been annoying since day one, but it worked where there was nothing else truly competitive (Fink? Everything bad in MP, plus even slower updates. Only benefit is the sometimes-functional binary installs). Now we have Homebrew, and it's way better, if it has fewer legacy recipes (though not always).

malkia 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Had a problem (Macbook Pro, which I bought in Jan-2008) with upgrading to 2.0

After "debugging"-it, e.g: port -v self update

it gave me some mysterious problem of SQLite missing 64-bit version from... /Library/Mono.Framework/.../sqlite.dylib - don't remember the details.

Found some notes how to uninstall mono from their site (little script), and then "port selfupdate" went fine.

mishmash 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks to everyone involved!
amichail 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there any chance MacPorts would get the Terminal proxy icon to work with the fish shell?
amichail 10 hours ago 1 reply      
w3m crashes. Is there a workaround?
How to Avoid Repeating the Debacle That Was the Space Shuttle discovermagazine.com
65 points by tokenadult  12 hours ago   47 comments top 9
econgeeker 10 hours ago 6 replies      
This article makes a lot of good points, but I felt it failed to really break the surface and address the core problem that led to the failure of the Space Shuttle program.

That core problem is misalignment of incentives. Or in short, politics. When you've got a public budget and your goals are political ones, you're going to pursue a specific set of capabilities and policies that help your political career. This is true from the President all the way down to the lowest level of managers at NASA. I think the real cost, and thus tragedy, of this era is the thousands upon thousands of good engineers who were sucked up into NASA because they believed in the dream of human space flight, and were never able to accomplish much over the courses of their careers.

The solution to this problem is very simple: No government agency with control over space. Outsource everything. If government wants to fund scientific research or exploration, great- give grants to institutions that then have effectively complete autonomy. For instance, JPL, could be a separate institute with little connection to government other than primarily getting its funding from the government. If politicians want to send a probe to Mars, let JPL be the master contractor, where JPL hires the scientists, while subcontracting out the design, development and production to private entities.

SpaceX is much more efficient getting to space, cost wise and reliability wise (I believe) than NASA ever has been, and they are using (IIRC) a discarded russian design, off the shelf as the basis for their system (though certainly they've done a lot of engineering work.)

The commercial space industry in the USA has suffered under the government control over all things space since the beginning. I remember when Richard Branson-- the founder of Virgin Galactic, and the one who funded the design and development of SpaceShipTwo was prevented from seeing the design he'd paid for because he was a british national!

In fact, I'm certain that the only reason Burt Rutan and Virgin Galactic were successful is that their "launch" requires only a runway, and thus they can easily do it from just about any country. Previously, NASA and the FAA has made it very difficult for private entities to pursue space access, by denying them the necessary permits to do testing.

After the X prize was won, when commercial operation plans were announced, there was a flurry of congressional noise about regulating the space industry ("for safety" of course.) I think the only reason that died down is that there is literally nothing stopping Virgin Galactic from flying off and launching from a newly crated "space port" in, say, Panama. (Well, except that the government apparently considers their designs "National Security Secrets".)

It is time to dismantle NASA. Let the capitalists pursue profit in space, and government can get whatever it needs launched (or built) by the same contractors under whatever terms the government wants-- but at much lower costs.

joblessjunkie 11 hours ago 2 replies      
This article is mis-titled.

It makes an easy argument for "debacle," but omits the difficult "how to avoid" part.

stretchwithme 11 hours ago 2 replies      
What amazes me is how uncritically the media usually treats this issue.

A great many things the government does follow a similar over-promising, under-delivering pattern. The notion that perception is reality and a loss of confidence is the worst thing that can ever happen conspire to stifle public questioning.

We see it with Afghanistan, stimulus spending, TARP. As justifications don't pan out, something else is used to justify things.

Of course, the real root cause is that those paying for things are far removed from the decision making process. If voters individually decided whether they were going to be taxed $500 a year for continuing the shuttle or $100 a year for returning to disposable rockets, this program would have been killed long ago.

But everything is put in one big pot and dollars borrowed to conceal the actual ultimate pain. There are so many deceptive aspects to how this operates, its difficult to describe or even grasp.

carlcoryell 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Maciej Cegłowski's essay "A Rocket to Nowhere" is a much better description of how and why the Shuttle was doomed by political and military considerations.


flocial 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I think the F-35 is a better example. The selling point was re-usable components for three different jets. The only thing soaring are project costs.
exratione 9 hours ago 2 replies      
This is also a good perspective, albeit old:


"This country was bounded to the West by a desert. One day a telescope built on one of the country's mountains revealed what looked like sea far away beyond the desert which would have to be crossed in order to discover if there was habitable land on the coast. So the politicians got together and established a government agency to send some people through the desert. They called it the National Agricultural Frontier Administration, NAFA for short, and charged it with a dramatic task to demonstrate the vigour of the nation: it would carry out a 'mission' to send people right through the desert to the West coast of the continent and bring them back safely, within a decade."

jsherry 9 hours ago 1 reply      
For the most part, the author is correct: by most objective measures, the shuttle was a disaster. One point I disagree with is his criticism of "the teachers who spoke about it in admiring tones to their students".

Is it really that wrong to try and get kids excited about engineering and science?

cpr 11 hours ago 1 reply      

Though how we could ever expect federal government programs be efficient and cost-effective is beyond me, when the work is being done by the governmental agency itself.

We're much better at using governmental funds (which I still think are taken largely by theft) via agencies like DARPA, which operate through private industry and the educational establishments.

kinship 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The shuttle succeeded for years. Trying to rewrite history now? Pathetic.
Felix Salmon: The Cost of Patent Trolls reuters.com
43 points by chalst  10 hours ago   8 comments top 4
iwwr 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Software patents should be a good enough reason to think patents in general stifle innovation. Patent trolls have moved beyond mere monopolistic enforcement and into mafia-style shakedown operations.
chalst 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Felix Salmon omits a point that makes Microsoft's participation in the patent cartel especially absurd: they had already licensed all of the patents from Nortel in perpetuity. Microsoft claimed, without legal basis, that it was concerned about the risk of this license being ignored by the acquirer.
watmough 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This is why I refuse to participate in patenting software.

I've written code for people who wanted to patent it as part of a device, and whilst I can't necessarily stop them, I can definitely refuse to assist in salting the ground for those that come after me.

Obviously, like nuclear weapons, if you don't have patents, then you are vulnerable, and the World is a harsh place. It's difficult to see how the process of patenting, then squatting on code that anyone could write, can be resolved.

loup-vaillant 5 hours ago 1 reply      
> We need to make it easier and quicker to get good patents, and much harder or impossible to get bad patents.

The question is, what is a good patent? The way I see it (i) there are too few good patents to outweigh the bad ones, and (ii) it is too difficult to distinguish them at application time. In other words, the patent system just doesn't work, and is basically unfixable. Looks like we should do away with it.

When operating "at web scale", users often simply don't have "real names" google.com
141 points by saurik  21 hours ago   92 comments top 18
patio11 19 hours ago 2 replies      
This title is 5 words longer than it could be, because people don't have real names.

Apologies in advance for the self-citation:


My name+ is confusing gibberish where I live. It is highly likely likely that when I have children, they will go through life having multiple sets of gibberish so that they can pick the non-gibberish option when asked "What is your real name?"

Does your startup really want to get into the is-that-gibberish-gibberish-or-am-I-just-ignorant-of-the-way-they-do-things-in-weird-places-like-the-United-States adjudication business? If so, try validating names. You will have loads of fun.

+ : Well, a name I go by, at any rate. There's at least eight different ways to write my "real name" correctly, not even counting nicknames, online handles, or the like.

lmkg 18 hours ago 2 replies      
<tinfoil hat> Remember, Google is getting into the Social scene because it's a rich data set that they don't currently have access to, and Google likes data. Google wants your "real" name so they can tie all your information back together. The good news is, they'll probably ease the restrictions once they figure out how to normalize identities even with non-normalized names.</hat>

As a side note, I'm in a similar boat to Patrick with respect to my real name: at least 6 variations have been used on legal forms alone, due to length and special character restrictions, and excessive use of spaces. Fortunately it's only my middle name that gives problems so it can often be ignored, but I really like it so it's still annoying when I have to distort it.

blauwbilgorgel 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Having a Dutch surname like "Spring in 't Veld" (roughly translates to "Jump in th' Field") causes all kinds of problems on form entries and editors that add smart quotes.

- Many non-sanitized SQL queries fail,

- buggy URL or HTML parsers create code like:

<meta content='Spring in 't Veld ...

- Pagetitles like: Spring in /'t Veld

- Added smart quotes "Spring in 't Veld" from Word or Rich Text Editors cause problems with sorting and identity consolidation.

- Stripping the quote character trips a 2-letter requirement.

- etc.

It is unlikely that people will name their son

  Robert';) DROP TABLE Students;--

But you should at least prepare your db queries for a quote. :)


innes 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
NB: the nonsense phrase when operating "at web scale" doesn't appear anywhere on the linked page.
jchrisa 18 hours ago 3 replies      
One of the stupidest things we've done as a culture in the last generation, is bend our ideas about what is and isn't "well-formed", so that we don't offend computers. Fixing this is a big part of why I am motivated to work on schemaless databases. When your database doesn't ask you do predefine the data structures, it's one less opportunity for an ignorant programmer to blunt the human spirit.
FaceKicker 17 hours ago 5 replies      
As much as I understand the privacy concerns etc., am I the only one who REALLY hates being on Facebook and seeing a fake name with all sorts of odd punctuation and random capitalization in a list that consists otherwise of clean "Firstname Lastname"s? Even seeing "Equality" as someone's middle name bothers me to an extent.

Maybe I have OCD, but I'm personally glad I don't have to see this on Google+ for now (but I wouldn't be surprised if they changed their policy on this within a week or two given how fast they acted in response to the "gender must be public" feedback).

ajb 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I guess google+ won't like Filipinos then:
nradov 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I am disappointed by how software developers continuously reinvent the wheel badly. There have been comprehensive data models for human names available for years. For example see the HL7 V3 EntityName data type.
Any Entity can have multiple names, each of which is tagged with zero or more use codes such as "official", "pseudonym", "maiden", "tribal", etc. Each EntityName has one or more ordered parts which can optionally be tagged with a type: prefix, suffix, family name, given name. This data model isn't fully complete since it's missing some naming concepts such as patronymics but at least it's a better start than the mess that Google came up with.
JeffffreyF 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Everybody get over it, preventing anonominity and privacy (as each individual personally feels it), is a fools game. In the long run there will be no (as in absolute zero) acceptance of corporate need to determine appropriate levels of privacy. This is because people are not fools. Facebook is going down because they misunderstood how people feel about privacy, and a poor replacement (privacy wise) will meet the same fate. As the saying goes, you can fool some of the people some of the time yada-yada.... The shame is just in how much they leave on the table by trying to take to much, but nothing new, and on we go.
waterlesscloud 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Requiring real names. Acquiring a facial recognition company. Profits entirely driven by advertising.

Well, hello Minority Report ads!

badclient 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Let's call it for what it is: facebook's process/technology to determine real people is many many notches above google's.

This is as much tech failure as it is a policy failure.

Hyena 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I still think that the most bothersome thing is that there are lots of people, especially in my generation, who grew up with the Internet and with identities tied to ancient AOL e-mail addresses, screen names, Usenet handles or MUD characters that are sometimes both more cherished and more important than their actual name.

What's odd is that my rule for social networks is that if you know my name online, I might want to connect with you. If you know my real name exclusively, I probably wish I didn't even know you.

hoopadoop 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I was kicked off Quora yesterday because they didn't like my 'Real Name' (which is actually my completely innofensive real name)
sixtofour 7 hours ago 0 replies      
"I am not a profile, I am a free man!"


ilkandi 14 hours ago 1 reply      
As other posters have noted, many Chinese have the Chinese-lettered name eg "strong army", the pinyin version and if they move to a Western country they pick their own English name like "John" or something. In writing, Choi/Choy (and I think Chua and Chow) are the same. I will skip the philosophical discussion of what reality is to the viewer.

I don't understand the linking to a real name. Give everyone a private number, and then the user links whatever names they're known by to that number. When a searcher finds the name Skud and adds Skud, they will forever see Skud and whatever other names Skud has chosen to have visible to that circle. The link is the number, and the name is just a display.
I wonder how they would deal with a woman who changed her last name when she was married, and reverted to her old name after the divorce. And she's also an author writing under a pen name (like Stephen King/Richard Bachman/John Swithen).
It seems obvious to me but nobody's done it so there must be some unique flaw. Can any commenters enlighten me on why the unique private number idea is a bad one?

tantalor 14 hours ago 1 reply      
What does this have to do with "web scale"? I don't see this phrase in either the article or the reference in the article.
dredmorbius 15 hours ago 0 replies      
You should be so lucky.

My entire planet is forbidden.

SeoxyS 17 hours ago 10 replies      
For the most part, I think that Google's crackdown on pseudonyms and anonymity is actually a good thing. In most cases, anonymity online brings out the worst of us"just look at 4chan, littered with mobs of minions proliferating senseless hacking and child pornography[1]. You need but look at the news lately to see the damages of unchecked anonymity: "LulzSec this," "Anonymous that" and so on.

Enforcing real names is a good thing. It means people finally start to take responsibility for their actions, and there is accountability. People behave much better when the threat of embarrassment is in the balance.

I only see one legitimate reason for someone to be allowed a pseudonym: if they are more widely known by that name than their real name. This applies to authors, artists as well as web community members. The solution is easy: allow a nickname field in addition to your real name: [First] "[Nickname]" [Last]. Some already do it. Day9, for example, goes by Sean "day9" Plott online.

Lastly, I realize the hypocrisy of posting to Hacker News without my name visibly attached, so for the record, I am Kenneth Ballenegger from kswizz.com.

[1]: I have browsed thru /b/ many times, and the behavior of people there truly is the worst I've seen ever. I was in the middle of the SF Giants riots last year, and the people setting fire to cars and breaking windows seemed more civil by comparaison.

DocPad: static website generator in CoffeeScript and Node.js github.com
26 points by Raphael  9 hours ago   5 comments top 2
rjd 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm really surprised why this approach isn't used more often.

I've built several PHP and .net things like this over the years for clients, so they can author on there PC (or my console) and push static files to my hosting as static files, and still have roll back.

Seems like common sense to me, lower risk, lower server over heads, lower user error problems. Whack together a bespoke CMS/web form in a few a hours and you're done.

chetan51 6 hours ago 1 reply      
What makes it different from Jekyll?
As Criminal Laws Proliferate, More Are Ensnared wsj.com
129 points by grellas  19 hours ago   76 comments top 20
ctdonath 15 hours ago 2 replies      
"Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against - then you'll know that this is not the age for beautiful gestures. We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now, that's the system, Mr. Rearden, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

- Ayn Rand

v21 12 hours ago 0 replies      
And once you're in jail...

> With just 5 percent of the world's population, the US currently holds 25 percent of the world's prisoners. In 2008, over 2.3 million Americans were in prison or jail, with one of every 48 working-age men behind bars

> Prior to the 1970s, private corporations were prohibited from using prison labor as a result of the chain gang and convict leasing scandals. But in 1979, Congress began a process of deregulation to restore private sector involvement in prison industries to its former status, provided certain conditions of the labor market were met. Over the last 30 years, at least 37 states have enacted laws permitting the use of convict labor by private enterprise, with an average pay of $0.93 to $4.73 per day.

> Subsequently, the nation's prison industry " prison labor programs producing goods or services sold to other government agencies or to the private sector -- now employs more people than any Fortune 500 company (besides General Motors), and generates about $2.4 billion in revenue annually.


RexRollman 18 hours ago 4 replies      
People complain about activist judges but I think a bigger problem is activist prosecuters who look to stretch the law to include targets that were not intended by the law. The biggest example of this that I can think of is the anti-hacking laws that are being made to charge people of simply using a web browser.
padobson 15 hours ago 1 reply      
'Current law provides a range of options to protect society, he says. "It would be horrible if they started repealing laws and taking those options away."'

That's the most disturbing line in the piece to me. Laws used to frustrate, oppress, or even enslave a citizenry are always written under the guise of offering 'options for protection'. Why do we need to wiretap private citizens? To keep private citizens safe of course.

Then, there's laws written to keep large companies like Exxon or WalMart from polluting the environment or mistreating their workers, but prosecutors can't get convictions against their herculean legal teams, so they end up convicting small businesses and private citizens because they're easier targets.

The problem with these laws is not that they criminalize non-criminals, its that the actual criminals aren't impeded by them at all.

vacri 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Roscoe Howard, the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, argues that the system "isn't broken."

The US, the "Land of the Free", has a per capita prison population that it 5-10 times greater than any of it's first-world colleagues. The system is broken.

thinkcomp 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks to the State of California, virtually every private university president and trustee is now a criminal, too.


dp1234 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Exactly the reasoning behind never speaking to police as detailed in these 2 videos a while back:


The risk of self-incrimination is incredibly high since no person can even be aware of all of the laws that exist and may be violated.

noonespecial 9 hours ago 0 replies      
What really disappoints me is that we apparently have people who have been trusted with enormous power by the citizenry (the prosecutors) who seem wholly incapable of taking a step back and asking themselves, "is this discretionary action I'm about to take to prosecute these people going to make the world better or worse?" and then acting reasonably.
lhnn 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Is this Hacker News? I suppose it might be tied to our theme by the story of the inventor.

I think it's a shame that the US federal government has ballooned the way it has, and I believe it's a slap in the face of the Constitution. Discarding the concept of mens rea while maintaining more than 250,000 pages of regulation is malicious, and anyone supporting this movement is not someone who should be in political power.

code_duck 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Copyright and drug laws are the two largest offenders in this respect. Check out the recent moves the the US Congress to make linking to the 'wrong' site a felony (the '10 Strikes' legislation).

Once they've criminalized being a common person, then the government can exercise discretion and selection to eliminate people they does not like, for any reason.

exabrial 18 hours ago 0 replies      
This is why deregulation is important. I think a perfect government has a slightly liberal congress, with an extremely conservative judicial branch. I'd rather be judged using the original meaning of the constitution rather than some activist judge's interpretation of "the spirit of the constitution that applies today".
kingkawn 11 hours ago 1 reply      
It is cute to point out the guys getting busted for searching for arrowheads, but upwards of 85% of the people in prison in the US are black or hispanic. I'd guess that an even larger percentage are poor. This process is not without a target.
Hominem 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Of course there should be a law against taking artifacts from archaeologic sites and laws against disturbing the sites by digging. These sites should be posted though, much the same private land is posted "no hunting". Instead of throwing the law out, require that the onus be on the site owner to inform people that the site is, in fact, protected.
forgotAgain 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Given the source of the story this is more about reducing corporate regulations than supporting personal rights.
irons 12 hours ago 0 replies      
The Andersons are two of the hundreds of thousands of Americans to be charged and convicted in recent decades under federal criminal laws"as opposed to state or local laws"as the federal justice system has dramatically expanded its authority and reach.

"Who could have predicted that breaking into people's voicemail was going to cause such a fuss?"

hadronzoo 8 hours ago 0 replies      
"And now bills were passed, not only for national objects but for individual cases, and laws were most numerous when the commonwealth was most corrupt." "Tacitus, Annals Book III, 27
chadp 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Welcome to the USA, land of the free...
jfoutz 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Good to see Mr. Murdoch's paper pushing a healthy respect for the law.
tuoru 16 hours ago 2 replies      
I have no problem whatsoever with a law that criminalizes stealing arrowheads, or other artifacts, from archaeological sites. I have no problem with laws that prohibit poisoning water, dumping chemicals, killing endangered species, or other environmental crimes. So, if this is proliferation, please sign me up for more. I know that these things were not crimes fifty years ago, but we are better off now for having these laws. Sure, there are some stupid ones, like the Smokey Bear thing, but come on--has anyone been charged with that law?
maqr 16 hours ago 1 reply      
"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers." -- Ayn Rand
Octopress - A blogging framework for hackers octopress.org
197 points by KarlFreeman  1 day ago   46 comments top 12
danieldk 1 day ago 3 replies      
Octopress is based on Jekyll, however, it is not exactly clear to me what it adds to Jekyll. Is it the extra plugins? Is it Rake-driven management?

Reading through the documentation quickly, it seems to add a lot of complexity compared to plain Jekyll.

A comparison with Jekyll sans Octopress would be appreciated!

jamesjyu 17 hours ago 0 replies      
This is basically taking Stammy's tutorial and making it into a nice packaged framework: http://paulstamatiou.com/how-to-wordpress-to-jekyll

Good show.

keenerd 1 day ago 6 replies      
So what makes it for hackers? The Github backend? Including a plugin for code by default? http://redraftable.com is a blog engine for hackers, other than the author won't release sources while the project is still immature.
wulczer 23 hours ago 0 replies      
If you're looking for blogging software for hackers, look at http://wingolog.org/software/tekuti/.

From the page:

  Tekuti means "I'm telling you" in Oshiwambo.
It is weblog software written in Scheme, using Git as its persistent store.

'Nuff said.

flocial 22 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess they never heard of Tokyo Promenade. It's a blogging engine implemented in C99 with no external dependencies on top of Tokyo Cabinet.


pw 21 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been using Octopress for a few weeks now and really like it (I stumbled across it on github and started using the new version before it was released).

Static site generators are great, but you still have to do the design, which is a non-starter for a non-designer like myself. With Octopress I was able to get a great looking, Jekyll-powered blog up and rolling as easily as using Wordpress.

gks 19 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm still a lot more impressed with the Python spinoff of Jekyll. It's called Hyde (http://www.github.com/hyde/hyde) and in my opinion a LOT more functional. I do wish that the documentation was a tiny bit more complete though.

If I were going to make a new site based on Jekyll, I'd seriously consider Hyde instead.

jamesu 1 day ago 0 replies      
I'm not quite sure what this offers over jekyll apart from a few more tags and a slightly more opinionated deployment strategy.

I was half expecting a combination of the wordpress admin panel + jekyll backend (kind of like gollum except for blogs). Now that would have been imPRESSive.

KarlFreeman 19 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel like I've unleashed a monster by posting this, personally I quite like the opinionated install for Jekyll especially the code plugin / view. Will be using it for my next blog install
jonbro 1 day ago 2 replies      
can someone summarize why I should move to this from Jekyll? The website is a bit unclear on that.
imathis 22 hours ago 0 replies      
There's no official affiliation with Github. I started thinking through the branding for Octopress in 2009 when it first came out. I was looking for a good mascot and around the same time David Lanham did his 'Bubble Bay' design for a firefox campaign http://davidlanham.com/art/bubblebay/

I started thinking that an Octopus would be a great mascot. They're intelligent, flexible, and have loads of personality. And I asked David to do the artwork for the logo.

The 'press' part was taken from Wordpress, but mainly because I really like how subtly different it is from Octopus.

ristretto 1 day ago 1 reply      
Hackers should write code, not blogs.
How You Can Be Creative " A Lesson from Pablo Picasso sebastianmarshall.com
31 points by lionhearted  10 hours ago   15 comments top 10
gruseom 8 hours ago 1 reply      
I doubt that Picasso said "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up," first because a little googling reveals no source for it (other than the usual spam sites), second because this is a popular post-1960s belief about children (the kind of thing Picasso's generation was unlikely to say, but that later generations would eagerly attribute to $arbitrary_great_artist), and third because from what little I know about Picasso's ego it seems unlikely that he would distribute the status of artist so equitably. So I think this quote should be put in the category of bullshit-till-proven-authentic.

It would be fitting if it were bullshit, since it motivates an argument that all anyone had to do in 1907 was decide to paint a few whores and they'd end up with this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Demoiselles_d%27Avignon.

watmough 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent stuff, and I definitely believe that retaining some childhood wonder and immaturity is vital to happiness. If you mature and pretend to know everything, then where is the wonder and discovery in everyday life? How do you sustain happiness without belief that every day holds bright new colors and experiences?

I've never really looked at Picasso's art with any diligence or perseverance, but I have definitely been inspired by the picture in that post, to go download some of his cubist nudes and use them as screen backgrounds.

I'm sure Picasso would be happy to see people using him as an inspiration to creativity.

urubu 26 minutes ago 0 replies      
Looks like someone has successfully reinvented Zwicky's morphological box.
thirdsun 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe this is relevant: Beside my day-job I spend a lot of time making music. When some artist or label wants me to remix something, I'll always avoid listening to the original work - I'd just receive the samples and midi data, even better if the filenames won't give anything (like the song structure) away, and start working on my interpretation of those loose pieces that would later develope into my idea of which parts should be key, emphasized or not considered at all, which may differ a lot from what the original artist had in mind.

At least when it comes to audio production and being asked to alter or re-invent the work of someone else, the results will benefit if you don't have a very clear reference point but just a bunch loose jigsaw pieces, that don't have any right or wrong combination attached.

I thought this approach might be relevant to the topic as it seems like an extension of the idea the article describes: If you try to make something different, it's helpful not to know how it's done "right".

wlsimmons 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm sure that art can be broken into individual steps or elements but isn't something lost in that kind of formalization? I always thought art or any creative act for that matter was characterized by some sort of non-linear or intuitive leap?
sayemm 6 hours ago 0 replies      
"Without great solitude no serious work is possible." " Pablo Picasso
30vanquish 4 hours ago 0 replies      
It all comes down to putting your own variation on something that exists. Then once you put out many variations on that original item, then that original item is now your new creation.

Ex: Just listen to music from the same genre. Each artist has their own song but there are similar elements from each song of all artists in that genre.

adamdecaf 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I've strongly believed that formal education should involve "reinventing the wheel" with some knowledge before hand, but to push creativity, inspiration, and adaptation when further knowledge is gained. It's how I've taught myself so much, and I think it can work for a lot of kids/people.
Hyena 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Does anyone ever actually see an improvement in their creativity from a system like that?

I'd imagine that most people just get stuck in a loop, reaffirming that those are, in fact, the necessary elements.

michaelpinto 6 hours ago 1 reply      
People who are creative don't need to read articles on "how to be creative" because that's pretty much the opposite of creativity. If you want to be creative dare to play, dare to be different and just get to work.
Meet Our Newest Portfolio Company, Airbnb bhorowitz.com
19 points by dwynings  8 hours ago   discuss
       cached 25 July 2011 12:02:01 GMT