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Watch a VC use my name to sell a con. jwz.org
190 points by jwwest  38 minutes ago   17 comments top 11
tom 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
I hope this signals the end of folks walking on egg shells around Arrington. He's no longer a "newsman". He's no longer going to make or break every startup that ends up on AOLCrunch. He's just an investor hoping for deal flow. An investor who's proven he's probably not the guy you'd want to work with, probably not the guy you'd want to partner with, probably not the guy who will ever be on anyone's side but his own. Kudos to Zawinski for calling him out.
brk 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
I find that I really connect with about 1 in 4 of jwz's rants.

It is a general rule that anytime there is someone above you in the hierarchy, they are going to make $2 for every $1.50 you make. Of COURSE the VC's will make more money than you. And the people who put the actual money into the funds should make even more than THEM.

The startup world, and economy in general has changed dramatically from the last time jwz was heavily involved, IMO. It's good that he made what qualifies as his own fuck you money and can now look in on things from the outside and comment thoughtfully. For a lot of people though, working 80 hour weeks grinding out a startup or 3 is still the most probable way of banking a decent retirement fund AND still having some life left to enjoy. I don't think that I'd advise many people to do a 30 year career of crazy startups, but it's kind of a geek lottery and worth the gamble for lots of people.

I don't really see where this is using his name to sell a con. If that were the case, I would think Arrington would pick someone who hadn't dropped out of the game a decade ago to sell his 'con'.

felipemnoa 18 minutes ago 1 reply      
>>Follow the fucking money. When a VC tells you what's good for you, check your wallet, then count your fingers.<<

This is just gold.

prawn 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm glad he finished with a note for the people who actually get something out of hard work on their personal project because I doubt I'm alone in getting a lot of personal satisfaction in performing like that. It's not all the time that I pull an all-nighter or a couple of weeks of hard slog, but I often feel better for them.

And I'd rather be doing that for myself on a side project or in the start-up lottery or within my own business than for someone else. If that isn't possible, then even for someone up the chain. If someone else (VC, client of mine, landlord, etc) also profits from this endeavour, so be it.

Sometimes you have to know the lows to fully appreciate the highs.

Further to that, I tend to enjoy weeks of fulfilling hard work with those glimpses of recreation more than I do the ones where I'm procrastinating, spinning my wheels or at a loss for something I can be bothered doing that day. Hard work, or hard holiday - that half-arsed stuff in the middle rarely satisfies.

someone13 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
Some people may not enjoy the green-on-black text, so this might be of use:


aspensmonster 0 minutes ago 0 replies      
> What _is_ true is that for a VC's business model to work, it's necessary for _you_ to give up _your_ life in order for _him_ to become richer.

Isn't this more or less the case for any profits-go-to-owners business model? Or rather, any business model where employees are viewed as calculated costs and not owners worthy of a commiserate portion of the profit?

I've often wondered how a different ownership model would work for a company. One where the owners still make more money than the VPs, who still make more money than the engineers, who still make more money than the techs, who still make more money than the CSRs, who still make more money than the cleaning staff, but everyone is seeing a salary that is at least XX.X percent higher than it was before. Or perhaps a function of CPI, per Capita GDP, and a few other variables. Honestly, company ownership just seems like one big game of who can grab the most power in a given time metric. Rather than money being a means to an end, it is the end. But that's just my inexperienced, undereducated take on the whole thing thus far.

dylangs1030 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
The author has a good point. However, I may be mistaken, and maybe pg will correct me on this, but I'm pretty sure he stated in one of his essays that his startup never used any funding from VC's. But, at the same time, he also worked insane hours, and he admits it's a very difficult thing to do because of the hours you'll work. I agree that some of it might be corporate manipulation, but I also think that it's part of the job - it's a reality that building your own software or technology company with innovation worth its industry is going to eat a lot of your time. But again, productive work doesn't necessarily mean incredibly long hours...long term productivity does involve being rejuvenated from time to time.
bigohms 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
Wow. I didn't expect this one bit from Arrington. I'm surprised he is choosing to mine Internet archives for blog fodder over putting that much more time into guiding his portfolio to fewer mistakes and possibly 1% more potential.

Startups, hard? Yes. We ALL know this. Are his opinions skewed towards his agenda? Also yes. There is no hiding the fact that he's in the money. The problem is that the "thought-leader" portion of his rant was lacking. And it's a bit of unfair baseball to bring up a random blog post from some guy nearly 20 years ago. My bets are that he didn't even bother doing follow up on this guy after the fact.

kanwisher 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
Makes total sense, enjoy your work and don't buy into you have to kill yourself to make it big in a startup. And the payout might not be worth it in the end unless your in a lucky percentage.
dylangs1030 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
Not a very helpful comment. Opinions aren't facts - there are two sides to the story. If you agree with the author, there's a better way to go about it then ad hominem insults.
lwat 22 minutes ago 1 reply      
Anyone got a readable link please
Matrix multiplication in O(n^2.373) scottaaronson.com
72 points by davepeck  2 hours ago   27 comments top 8
wbhart 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Note that the bound (as given in the paper) is now even better than the one mentioned in this blog (and the title).

This is of course huge news after twenty years of people trying to crack this.

You need matrices of dimension 1.66x10^91 before this result yields half the number of steps. But if an algorithm exists which made effective omega = 2 then this could have huge implications. So any improvement in techniques, no matter how slight, is very welcome, as it may lead to much more significant improvements later on.

pantaloons 1 hour ago 2 replies      
A bit of a shallow point, but will anyone ever actually implement this algorithm?

I'm having trouble seeing the value of such a paper -- the size of matrices required for this result to have a clear advantage is significant, and that is completely ignoring constant factors, real world performance and parallelization considerations.

FaceKicker 1 hour ago 3 replies      
Based on skimming the "our contribution" section of the paper (page 2), it seems like this isn't a new algorithm, but rather a new analysis of the same algorithm (Coopersmith Winograd) that proves a tighter lower bound on its runtime.

Not that that's not a valuable contribution, but the linked article seems kind of misleading, unless I'm misunderstanding the paper...

alex-g 1 hour ago 0 replies      
The author, Virginia Vassilevska Williams, is married to Ryan Williams, who last year proved a major result in circuit complexity lower bounds (NEXP is not contained in ACC0). It's interesting to see that both of them are making important discoveries, in different areas of computational complexity.
spaznode 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Forgive my ignorance, but does anyone know any real world examples where something like this might improve a certain type of work?

I'm sort of fuzzily half-assedly thinking this might be applicable to image - and by extension video - work but maybe that's not the case at all. I want to be more excited, please enlighten me. :)

dbbo 57 minutes ago 1 reply      
So, it's a blog post that announces a paper. Why not just post the link to the paper?
flourpower 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I couldn't find this by googling - if A is an n by n matrix, can you get A^k strictly faster than you can get a product of k arbitrary n by n matrices?
pluies_public 1 hour ago 3 replies      
For those of us a bit light on the theoretical CS aspect, is this article ironical? It sounds like quite a small improvement...
Business development: the Goldilocks principle cdixon.org
16 points by razin  55 minutes ago   discuss
Back in the Django saddle holovaty.com
135 points by slig  6 hours ago   24 comments top 9
LeafStorm 17 minutes ago 0 replies      
One thing that I think the Django core team needs to work on is documenting best practices. And I know that there are a bunch of different huge companies who build things in Django and all have different standards for how to develop and deploy, but just running

    $ django-admin.py startproject PROJECT
$ python manage.py startapp

is simply not cutting it.

kmfrk 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I am most interested to see what the transition from SHA1 to PBKDF2[1][2] will mean for Django. I have wanted to just switch to bcrypt, but it's such a pain in the ass to manage on Windows and will probably break for users testing my projects locally.

It's not like SHA1 is tantamount to leaving the barn door open, but it doesn't sit well with me to stick with it, until it is replaced natively.

[1]: http://comments.gmane.org/gmane.comp.python.django.devel/332...

[2]: https://code.djangoproject.com/ticket/15367

jphackworth 5 hours ago 3 replies      
It's great to hear that Django is moving to GitHub. It seems like the Python community has been slow to adopt git, perhaps because Bazaar and Mercurial are written in Python, and perhaps because GitHub uses Ruby. That said, it seems like git is emerging as the winner, and IMHO GitHub is far superior to anything available outside of git, so I'm glad they're making the move.
cavilling_elite 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Welcome back, I am really interested to hear what "changes were made to the framework that [Adrian] would've prevented had [he] been more involved."
kenneth_reitz 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Really excited about the move to GitHub!
reinhardt 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"... and changes were made to the framework that I would've prevented had I been more involved."

Such as?

frankwiles 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Welcome back Adrian!
cookiecaper 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I've tried several times but I just can't bring myself to enjoy using Django. I am a Pyramid/Pylons guy all the way.
maxklein 5 hours ago 3 replies      
This is why Django is so slow moving. People are not really spending time developing it. Thank goodness there is Bottle.py and Flask now.
Python Ecosystem - An Introduction mirnazim.org
323 points by mnazim  10 hours ago   56 comments top 26
nikcub 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Great post. I would add:

* the site module, which is imported by default and is what is responsible for setting up the default sys.path. You can skip 'import site' by running python with the -S switch. the site module is written in python, so you can scan through it and understand how python starts up and inits.

* PYTHONSTARTUP env variable, which points to a python file that is run (like a bashrc, or AUTOEXEC.BAT, if you prefer) on interactive prompt startup. I use this to import custom paths and modules that I want to access from the REPL, such as Google App Engine

* I use pip with local repositories. clone the repos of the libs you need, and then pip install in the virtualenv from that local clone:

    $ pip install git+file:///Users/nik/.python-packages/tornado

(note the triple slash). Or straight from GH:

    $ pip install git+git://nikcub@github.com/nikcub/tornado

this can keep your versions in sync across all projects and virtualenvs and it means no re-downloading and you can setup and update projects while offline.

* don't store the actual project inside the virtualenv. the virtualenv provides the execution context (setup and torn down using the virtualenvwrapper helper scripts). a common practice is to place all your virtualenvs into a directory like ~/.virtualenvs. you should never have to cd into this dir, access it using the wrappers and pip. (edit: also agree with comment below that you shouldn't be sudo'ing).

* just a quick add, I think it is definitely worth learning how to install python from source.

simonw 9 hours ago 5 replies      
I'd love to have one of these for Ruby. Every time I want to try out something written in Ruby I run head-first in to the packaging problem - Debian and Ubuntu don't appear to like shipping a working gem (presumably because it conflicts with how apt likes to do things) and the documentation on how to resolve the resulting inscrutable error messages isn't particularly easy to find. The Mac is a bit better, but I still run in to problems far too often.

I'm pretty sure a "Ruby Ecosystem, An Introduction" guide is exactly what I need.

d0mine 8 hours ago 2 replies      
A formidable effort.

It might be matter of taste but recommendations given starting from "Understanding the packages" and to "Install packages that need compiling" are almost harmful.

My preference:

* you should not care what is your `sys.path` looks like. You need it for debugging if something goes horribly wrong. A tutorial might mention it but things like `sys.path.insert(0,..)` should be avoided or accompanied with a big disclaimer (don't use nuclear weapons if you care about the future)

* the same goes for `PYTHONPATH`. It is a hack that rarely

* don't use `sudo pip`. System packages should be managed by a system packager. Use `pip --user` or create a `virtualenv`

* `pip` can handle tarballs there is no need for `python setup.py install` in this case.

"Code Like a Pythonista: Idiomatic Python" is worth mentioning

Some third-party packages that could be listed (it is subjective):

bpython - interactive prompt; something for tests e.g., pytest, tox, selenium; sphinx - docs; lxml - xml/html, werkzeug - if you talking about web-development; SQLAlchemy - sql; Cython - C extension, ~ Python syntax; async. libs e.g., gevent, Twisted.

briancurtin 10 hours ago 3 replies      
> Choose Python 3 only if you need to and/or fully understand the implications.

I would apply the "if you need to" part to Python 2. "3 if you can, 2 if you must"

kmfrk 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I would have loved to hear something about unit testing. Is nose or unittest2 the unit testing framework of choice for Python?
wavetossed 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
You really shouldn't tell people to go ask how to install Python on stackoverflow.com. Instead give them a few URLs to stackoverflow questions with the answer such as this one http://stackoverflow.com/questions/7538834/how-to-create-a-p...

Or even better, give them a stackoverflow search like this one http://stackoverflow.com/search?q=%5Bpython%5D+%22install+py...

P.S. I think that your wiki page is a great idea and I'm going to write a custom one for our developer wiki.

kisielk 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Have you thought about combining your work with Kenneth Reitz's Python Guide? https://github.com/kennethreitz/python-guide

It looks like you're covering a lot of the same ground.

danso 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic. Someone could make a well-visited site by creating similar documents for all the major languages.
mnazim 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Please keep the great feedback coming. I will try to incorporate as much as possible.

I am indebted to HN community for the great feedback so far.

Sukotto 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Thank you for this article.

As per the Pragmatic Programmer, I thought I would learn Python this year. It's been a tremendously frustrating experience getting a workable stack installed.

I wish the famous "One -- and preferably only one -- obvious way to do it" Python design philosophy extended to actually installing everything :(

mardiros 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I think that
$ sudo apt-get install python-pip
is a bad idea.

You should not mix multiple packaging system on your operating system.
And more you can dammage it pip provide more recent package than your distro. And if you upgrade a lib that have an incompatibility with a part of the system, you can corrupt it. I have no example to give but I am sure you can find it... Ubuntu now have many tools written in python.

You should use pip inside a virtualenv only.
And, fortunatelly when you create a virtualenv, pip is installed in it, and you don't need to use the --distribute to have it.

senthil_rajasek 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice article. I am bookmarking it.

Also The Zen of Python can always be accessed by this Easter egg

    >>> import this


krosaen 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Though the article claims to be targeted at users running on linux, most of the the info is still quite useful regardless of the platform - just figure out how to install python and and pip and the rest is pretty platform agnostic.
aaronh 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned pythonbrew.


It's the Python version of RVM. It is higher level than even virtualenv, and in my opinion, the most seamless way to manage Python environments.

krupan 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I mostly dabble with python. I learned a little reading this, and it raised some questions for me. Is there a reason --distribute is not the default behavior of virtualenv? Is there a plan to incorporate the stuff virtualenvwrapper does into virtualenv (virtualenvwrapper is a pretty cumbersome name, if for no other reason)?
RyanMcGreal 9 hours ago 0 replies      
This is very good. I wish a resource like this was around when I was first learning Python. The difficulty of getting things to work around the language has always been a pretty stark contrast to the ease of the language itself.
imalolz 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Great post - I wish there was a unified resource for things like that for other languages/tools.

I would only add iPython - a must for any console adventures.

darraghenright 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Looks great. I've started turning my attention to python recently so skimming through this I can already see lots of stuff that'll be very useful. So much that perhaps a linked TOC at the top of the page could be an idea?
detour 8 hours ago 0 replies      
"While not a software tool per se, PEP 8 is a very important resource related to Python."

Actually, it is :)

pip install pep8

ryall 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Great post! Covers everything I still didn't understand after reading LPTHW. Thanks so much for sharing this.
smogzer 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice list. I would replace django with web2py, it is closer to the python philosophy imho.
e1ven 10 hours ago 6 replies      
pip is a neat system and all, but I still don't see why to use that versus a system package?
igorgue 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Great article.

If you're on Ubuntu LTS you should install PIP from PyPI (easy_install pip), since the system package management version is outdated and it doesn't have the (very useful, since PyPI likes to go down) --use-mirrors install option. That would be my only recommendation.

eccp 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Great article. Is it just me or the prepend/append examples are swapped? ie. If you want to append TO your PYTHONPATH you should do PYTHONPATH=$PYTHONPATH:/some/new/path
vaksel 6 hours ago 0 replies      
would make a good idea for a startup...a Python host that has a simple checkbox interface for installing all this stuff.

That way you can get started with coding instead of having to install everything by yourself.

fasouto 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice article but you have a typo: updrage instead of upgrade :)
Python Koans: Learn Python by making tests pass bitbucket.org
40 points by makmanalp  3 hours ago   3 comments top 3
sixtofour 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Having watched and helped someone new to programming with this (anecdote of one), I think it's a fair introduction to Python, but not a good introduction to programming. Best if you bring at least a small amount of experience.
jtardie 3 minutes ago 0 replies      
Going through it now.
rafamvc 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Cool spin off from Ruby Koans.
YaCy takes on Google with open source search engine theregister.co.uk
13 points by a_w  1 hour ago   discuss
Cutting their own throats antipope.org
62 points by ible  4 hours ago   28 comments top 10
patio11 1 hour ago 2 replies      
It's good for customers in the short term, but it's not good for anyone in the long run: they're sweating their suppliers, all the way back down the supply chain (read: to authors like me) and sooner or later they'll put their suppliers out of business.

As a reader, this does not strike me as against my interests in the long run. I get books teleported to my Kindle instantly -- what isn't to like? (They're cheap, too, but that isn't a huge win for me. I'd pay twice as much as I do currently without thinking twice.) A shame about Charlie's publisher. They've sold me minimally $200 worth of product in the last year, I could not tell you their name if my life depended on it, and they bring precisely zero value to me relative to any other publisher aside from having signed Charlie. If Amazon signs Charlie instead, it will be literally impossible for me to identify any way in which my life changes at a consequence.

m0nastic 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I definitely think there's a potential issue with buying into an e-book platform where there's a high barrier to switch.

About two years ago, my girlfriend decided she wanted an e-book reader. At the time, you could only get a Kindle online, and she didn't want to buy one without seeing the device first; so we bought a Nook reader (after she played with it in the store).

Over the next year, we probably bought about $2000 of books on it, when she finally got tired of being envious of my Kindle (which I had recently purchased) and I gave it to her.

She ended up spending like three weeks cracking the DRM on all the Barnes and Noble e-pub books she had purchased, so that she'd be able to read them on the Kindle.

Most people wouldn't have done that, I suspect. They'd have just stuck with whatever platform they initially decided on (and had amassed a collection of DRM-laden files with).

flatline 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This made me think that we can expect to see ebook wars like we are currently witnessing with other media, e.g. iTunes, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu. If, say, three of the big six publishers end up creating their own marketplaces with their own formats and DRM, and possibly even their own devices, while pulling their ebook titles from Amazon and B&N, I can't help but think it will be a net loss for customers and of dubious advantage to the publishers. I wonder if Amazon's dominance would make this too little, too late. Something tells me there's still room to maneuver, but perhaps not for long.
palebluedot 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
The problem for me, is that so long as there is DRM attached, I don't feel like I've purchased something I own. Therefore, that erodes significantly the price I am willing to pay for Kindle ebooks; I enjoy reading on the Kindle more, so I like having the ebook, but I don't want to spend money to be locked-in. My threshold right now for an ebook is at least a 40% discount relative to the price I could purchase the physical book, to offset the DRM risk.

Ideally, what I would like would be to be able to buy a paper book, and get the ebook bundled for $X more (say, $2-$5 more). I would have the satisfaction of a book on the shelf, actually owning the book, and then the convenience of an ebook. I would also be less bothered by the presence of DRM. If I could buy DRM-free ebooks from Amazon, I would be willing to pay closer to price parity of the corresponding paper book.

billpatrianakos 48 minutes ago 0 replies      
The biggest problem with DRM is that it often punishes legit customers. I always thought DRM was no big deal until I signed up for Google Music. I have a net book running Linux so I decided that having my iTunes library on Google music would be a awesome way to have my iTunes library everywhere )I don't want to pay for iCloud sync). I was excited to save hard drive space (I have less than 100gb on the netbook) and still have my library but I was disappointed when I couldn't upload about 20 songs to the service. Sure, 20 songs out of 3,000 isn't much but they were damn good songs and they were mine so why shouldn't I be able to do this?

Up till then I thought people were just whining but now I see the folly in my ways. I'm definitely for some sort of protection for content authors but there must be another way. Maybe they could have a DR,-like system that allows you to use it on X devices the same way you can authorize a number of devices to sync in iTunes. Still, we can do even better. What about a system that somehow measures ownership differently. Like maybe somehow make it so you have to use a password if you want to transfer a protected file to some other device?

Is that naive? Has it been done? I just recently changed my position on DRM so I still have much to learn. Does anyone know of something like I'm describing and is this feasible technically?

ssebro 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Amazon's ability to forgo short-term profits and look towards the long term is their biggest weapon. Very few companies are able to act on threats far enough into the future to fight against Amazon's strategies at a time when defeating those strategies still possible.
gamble 3 hours ago 2 replies      
There are a lot of books that are only available through piracy. You can download 1 GB torrents containing more books than anyone will ever read in a year, and yet there are still major books like Dune that aren't available to Kindle users. The selection for older, out-of-print titles is even worse.
TomOfTTB 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I really don't think history bears this out. The lesson of Apple seems to be people will accept DRM if you make it easy for them to buy. There were plenty of places to buy DRM-free music (including Amazon) yet people still went to iTunes because of its ease of use.

Of course Apple later proved DRM doesn't matter and people will pay for a DRM-free product if it's easy to purchase. But that's an entirely different point. As far as I can see the historical precedent is that DRM isn't enough of a deterrent for most people.

akkartik 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I love my kindle, but I've been reluctant to buy books for it. I don't want to support a medium that causes the average reads per copy to tend to be 1. After reading this I'm conflicted: will buying more DRM books cause paper publishers to see the light sooner?
bprater 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I can read my Kindle books in nearly every device I own.
Equations True Computer Science Geeks Should (at Least Pretend to) Know elegantcoding.com
214 points by gmoes  10 hours ago   77 comments top 21
king_magic 7 hours ago 4 replies      
Well, after 6 years of professional software engineering after finishing my BS in CS, the only things on that list that I've came anywhere close to using are the natural join and Demorgan's laws.

I think this is a pretty silly post, to be honest. CS covers so much, and everytime I see a list of "things you should know", I have to resist the urge to roll my eyes and ignore it. But then I read it, and inevitably roll my eyes anyway.

henning 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Since it seems like the multicore thing is here to stay, may I suggest that if you are doing anything parallel you should know about Amdahl's law: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_computing#Amdahl.27s_l...
robinhouston 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I would take issue with the pumping lemma for regular languages here. The formal statement of the lemma is outrageously complicated, which makes it really difficult to understand and use. The only good justification I've heard for including this result in a CS curriculum is that it's a good warm-up for the pumping lemma for context-free languages, which is more useful.

If you actually ever find yourself needing to show that a particular language is non-regular, it's almost always clearer to use an ad hoc argument or appeal to the Myhill-Nerode theorem. Actually the latter is much better, because Myhill-Nerode completely characterises the regular languages, whereas there are non-regular languages that pass the pumping lemma test.[1]

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pumping_lemma_for_regular_langu...

psykotic 9 hours ago 1 reply      
More fundamental than Bayes's theorem is the probabilistic counterpart of modus ponens: P(A/\B) = P(B|A) P(A). This corresponds to the logical rule of inference A, A->B |- A/\B. Note that modus ponens is usually stated in the form A, A->B |- B. But this throws away useful information, namely that proposition A is true, so it's a weaker form.

Bayes's theorem is a direct consequence of this axiom and the commutativity of conjunction.

rcfox 10 hours ago 1 reply      
It'd be nice if the author actually stated why these algorithms are important to know. Give a use case, rather than "this comes up sometimes."
tomstuart 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Although they're not really "equations", I'd have liked to see some results from computation theory in this list, because they're often deep and beautiful without necessarily being difficult to formulate or understand. They also tend to be informative in a useful way rather than feeling too abstract to be relevant.

For example: the halting problem. Isn't it interesting that you can't write a computer program which can decide (in general) whether another program terminates? The proof is simple and it gives you a real tool to help you avoid trying to solve impossible problems. It's good to know the limits of your craft.

numeromancer 9 hours ago 0 replies      
methodin 9 hours ago 5 replies      
I really wish my brain didn't gloss over the first time I see a math symbol. All of this stuff seems intriguing but it's almost as if I'm hardwired to translate all those symbols into mush. I'd be much more interested in seeing the equivalent code snippets these ideas express.
pork 10 hours ago 1 reply      
The Y Combinator and the pumping lemma seem a bit contrived on that list, especially the former. I would add the maximum margin separation equation, which underlies many modern machine learning methods like SVMs and MMMF, and the P=NP equality question.
StavrosK 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm sorry for being somewhat off topic, but is it too hard to try and write coherently? The author's run-on, stream-of-consciousness style, together with the random use of punctuation marks, was tiring to read.
joezydeco 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I was hoping Fitts's Law would make the list, considering a lot of people here are doing UI/UX whether they realize it or not.
mcshaner1 58 minutes ago 0 replies      
Little's Law is probably CS folks should know too. It is relatively simple, but useful


jergosh 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Oddly enough I never really used any of these while studying CS. Now that I'm in bioinformatics, some of the stuff is commonly used, particularly Bayes' theorem and information theory.
krupan 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Shannon's Information Theory, Eigenvector, DeMorgan's Laws, etc. None of those names are meaningful or descriptive. And then the greek letters and made up symbols. Math could learn something from Computer Science:


cheez 7 hours ago 0 replies      
P(Poster is less than 30 years old) = .9999999999999
lell 7 hours ago 0 replies      
There's a small error in the formula for O(N): the way he's written it it looks like for all n, there is a k such that kg(n) >= f(n), ie k depends on n so take k = f(n)/g(n) and all nonzero functions trivially satisfy it. It should be there exists a k such that for all n kg(n) >= f(n). Pedantic I know, but on the other hand I wouldn't call these "beautiful equations" associated with O(N), I'd instead call them the definition of O(N).

There's also o(f(n)), g(n) is a member of o(f(n)) if the limit as n goes to infinity of g(n)/f(n) is zero. Finally, there is asymptotic equality: f(n) ~ g(n) if the limit as n goes to infinite of g(n)/f(n) = 1. O,o and ~ are all subtly different, but if you're just trying to prove upper bounds then O(f(n)) is the one that comes up most frequently, which is why it's probably the only sort of asymptotic analysis most CS grads know.

kevinalexbrown 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Bayes Theorem isn't totally at the heart of Bayesian v non-Bayesian statistics. Bayes Theorem can still be true if you're in a strictly frequentist framework.
peterwwillis 8 hours ago 8 replies      
So, I take it I shouldn't even consider getting a CS degree since I really suck at math?
k4st 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I would prefer to see the Cook-Levin theorem in place of the pumping lemma.
orenmazor 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I know all those. ish. thanks for morning ego boost!
raffi 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Whatever works for you marco.org
142 points by tbassetto  9 hours ago   42 comments top 19
yock 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I've started adopting a similar soft approach along these lines myself. My wife and I are Ubuntu Linux users at home, but our families know us as simply computer savvy. Often enough someone will call us with Windows-specific questions, which I'll try and answer to the best of my ability; however, when faced with what sounds like a research project I err on the side of stupidity.

"No, I don't know why your new smartphone won't sync with all three of your business accounts as well as your personal email."

So far, this kind of answer has been far better received than spending hours troubleshooting frustrating corner cases from trying to shoehorn off-the-shelf gadgets into situations they probably weren't meant for anyway. At worst, that makes me lazy, but I'm okay with that as long as I'm not known as the ill-tempered son-in-law who won't just help out his aunt and uncle without coping an attitude.

luigi 6 hours ago 4 replies      
There's a difference between trying to help a guy solve a specific problem and trying to evangelize him to switch to your preferred platform.

There are tons of resources on the Web devoted to syncing Outlook with the iPhone. Maybe someone more tech savvy (like Marco) could have helped. Instead he said he "couldn't help him". He really meant "I don't want to try to help you".

srl 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Slightly tangential, but it seems to be popular to assume that fanboyism is universally a bad thing. Which makes sense intuitively, but here's the thing: I _like_ fanboys.

When I meet a fanboy of something I don't tend to use or like, I make a point to talk to them as much as possible. It starts off rocky - after all, I'm coming from a completely different perspective, and to me, everything they're saying is obviously idiotic. But I persist. I try to get them to convince me however they can, that they are right. And very frequently, I learn a whole of new _something_, if I'm not introduced to an entire new way of doing and/or thinking about things. Worst case is I hone my debating skills. Best case, my life significantly improves.

Not that fanboyism is always, or even usually, a good thing. In most cases, it's politest (and easiest!) to stop the argument before it gets to the point of calling into question the other person's expectations (and I find myself doing that alot, especially with relatively nontechnical folk). But for me - I _want_ my expectations to be called into question. And nobody forces me to refine - and trash - my own ideas as well as the most hard-headed of fanboys.

Raphael 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
If all you care about is using Microsoft's contact system (Outlook), then perhaps you should get a Windows phone. Surely those would sync.
orenmazor 5 hours ago 1 reply      
adding my ten-ish year history of supporting other people (I'm also pushing 30), I've learned this one fact: trying to help other people will frequently result in my taking ownership of ALL of their problems in their eyes.

which seems like a really jerk-like perspective to take, and it is a little bit.

Tashtego 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This post demonstrated a sense of humility ("I probably don't know how to solve your problem") and empathy ("I recognize that your problem is not the same as my problem") that are often sorely lacking in the community of software geeks talking about software. Great stuff.
JoelMcCracken 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This is important.

We are all different. Human life is full of tradeoffs, and some of those tradeoffs lead to exclusions, and some of those exclusions may be untenable to some, etc.

I like and use Apple, Emacs, etc, but I can certainly see why others might choose not to use them. They aren't wrong. They're just different.

gwillen 7 hours ago 0 replies      
An important and related issue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0la5DBtOVNI
pacomerh 6 hours ago 1 reply      
That's fine I hope other people adopt this mentality, and I'm talking fanboys for whatever platform. Whatever works for you applies to everything, I use the computer to make music and I know other people who also do the same and use different platforms and I always see people saying "Oh you should use pro-tools to really make good music" Can you believe that?, hehe. The operator is what matters.
pnathan 7 hours ago 2 replies      
The flip side to this is as computer professionals, what we do with a computer and how we have built our workflow significantly accelerates our work with a computer.

E.g., easy file versioning and sync is fundamentally a solved problem, if you are willing to take the initial hit of workflow modification (git, sftp, etc).

So it's okay to teach people how to do it faster and better.

toddheasley 1 hour ago 0 replies      
My wife's friend recently moved from a large city, where she didn't have a car, to live with her boyfriend in a smaller town. It's a smaller town without much public transit. My wife's friend knows how to drive, but her boyfriend's car has a manual transmission. On a recent visit, the friend is complaining that her boyfriend won't teach her how to drive his car. Being proud of the fact that I (barely) know how to drive a stick, I volunteer to teach her. Her boyfriend doesn't object, so out to the car we go. I drive to a nearby empty parking lot and trade seats with my wife's friend. She's ready to learn.

"The pedal to the left of the brake is the clutch. Push it all the way to the floor," I begin. She takes her left foot off the brake and pushes in the clutch...

barumrho 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I agree, but it is good to notice that many people are simply afraid (and not aware) of alternative solutions. If you can afford to, informing them won't hurt.
SonicSoul 1 hour ago 1 reply      
why is this random post about letting me use whatever setup i want from a guy i've never heard of on top of HN front page?

although it was written in entertaining fashion, i am still somewhat puzzled.

adamio 7 hours ago 1 reply      
There's a difference between evangelizing a setup to someone for selfish reasons (to bring more users hoping developers follow, to make it easier to troubleshoot), and for reasons the other person just doesn't know or grasp yet (using POP instead of IMAP is causing your phone and pc to be out of sync)
MatthewPhillips 4 hours ago 0 replies      
tldr; it took Marco 30 years to realize some people don't want to only use Apple.
ggwicz 6 hours ago 1 reply      
If you're arguing with people over a computer operating system...

...just stop it.

Yhippa 8 hours ago 1 reply      
What was the point of this rant? He's going to stop telling people to go all-Apple and boast his Apple-ness?
allbutlost 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Strange. This post was submitted, reached the top and then deleted a couple of hours ago - I'm not sure if it was deleted by the submitter or not.


mthreat 6 hours ago 0 replies      
One word: AMEN
Defining Churn Rate shopify.com
46 points by Titanous  5 hours ago   5 comments top 2
aaronjg 5 hours ago 2 replies      
The definition of churn rate was the subject of a shareholders' lawsuit against Netflix in 2004. The shareholders accused Netflix of reporting an artificially low churn rate using:

  Number of Customers churn / (Number of customers at beginning + number of customers gained). 

Where the plaintiffs preferred:

  Number of Customers churn / (Number of customers at beginning + number of customers at end of period)/2. 

Netflix succeeded in having the suit dismissed, since there is no official way to calculate churn.



wtvanhest 2 hours ago 1 reply      
What if there is seasonality in your Churn (lets say in your example monthly, which is very reasonable) and you are growing?

If you calculate at the wrong time you will severely skew the numbers.


Its my opinion that if you have daily churn numbers and you want to be the most accurate, simple formula is no longer viable. You should model daily churn against daily sales and create a revenue model. (takes about 2 minutes in excel, less if you have the data already in a spreadsheet).

If you want a simple formula, you should use the first two formulas you described in the article and just see how the numbers "feel".

In my opinion, anything beyond that introduces unnecessary levels of complexity that may actually make your modeling less valuable.

In any event, the article is great and really got me to think about churn again. Well done, and I really liked your thoughts.

International Open Data Day is this weekend Find one near you from their wiki opendataday.org
5 points by maxogden  45 minutes ago   discuss
Show HN: Use Dojo to learn, build, and deploy web apps dojoapp.com
92 points by jmtame  8 hours ago   26 comments top 8
kls 8 hours ago 4 replies      
The headline talked about using Dojo but the tutorial is 100% Sinatra and ROR. Is Dojo used in other tutorials or is the word Dojo just used because it is in the URL. The layout make it appear as if it is associated with the Dojo toolkit. I understand that Sinatra and ROR can be used with Dojo, but I feel the title and branding is misleading based on the fact that the tutorial contained no Dojo in it.
moonlighter 6 hours ago 0 replies      
While I understand that this isn't about the Dojo toolkit nor the fellow who submitted the post to it here (Thanks!), I can't help but feel that the folks who created this service made a real blunder by naming this thing "dojoapp" simply because of it's uncanny naming resemblance to the Dojo toolkit.

Try to Google it; you get drowned in results to the toolkit, not their site. Mention it to anyone else and be sure about the resulting confusion. It's like creating a new service called BMWApp which then has nothing to do with the car...

2arrs2ells 8 hours ago 1 reply      
The intro tutorial is great! Just the right mix of brevity/content, and totally convinced me to sign up.

Only suggestion - find a way to speed up the deployment process. It might just be the HN effect, but once I finish my first "app" - I want to see it in action, not stare at a spinner for a few minutes.

EDIT: Looks like you're deploying to heroku, so I see why it takes more than a few seconds. It might be nice to tweak your UI, to encourage people to go through a tutorial while they wait for a deploy (rather than staring at a spinner).

jamesbressi 7 hours ago 1 reply      
It was exciting. Yup, I sound like a complete dork, but for someone who just doesn't have the ability to pick up coding like he used to, this was great. A few explanations in the tutorial confused me from a complete novice standpoint, but I am really looking forward to the "Blog in 30 minutes"! Glad I signed up, and if I'm your target "customer" then feel free to email me if you want feedback, etc. I'd like to see something exactly like this for Objective C and developing iPhone apps.
leoedin 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I enjoyed going through those tutorials, and I think I know more about Ruby now! What's the time scale on further tutorials? The platform (including the ability to deploy apps quickly and easily) is great! I'd be particularly interested in the node.js tutorials that are tantalisingly listed on your site.
samdjohnson 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is a great way to teach programmers a new framework or tool.
dhaivatpandya 5 hours ago 0 replies      
rick888 8 hours ago 3 replies      
Dojo has already lost the battle.

I used it for awhile and it is a cool framework. However, Jquery has it beat in terms of documentation (code and usage) and community support (I can find pretty much any component I need with Jquery).

Facebook Targeting IPO for Between April and June wsj.com
22 points by law  3 hours ago   12 comments top 5
blantonl 51 minutes ago 0 replies      
When you go public you are opening up the kimono to the public. It appears that Facebook feels they are ready for that public financial scrutiny.

It will be fascinating to see how Facebook generates revenue, spends money, and maintains net income. I'm really looking forward to this IPO, solely for those reasons.

npollock 3 hours ago 6 replies      
They're probably hoping that everyone will have forgotten about the Groupon IPO by then. Groupon is trading around the $15 mark, or exactly half of it's opening day high, $31.14. It's well below the IPO price of $20, and it's looking like the biggest tech embarrassment of the year.
Tossrock 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Valuing 25:1 against yearly revenue seems a bit high. I mean, I'm sure it'll still ride a rocket the moment it goes public, but I think it'll peter out sooner than most long term investors would like.
andrewhillman 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I hope they do the IPO in a creative way like google did w/ dutch auction. I have a feeling they will. I am sure they have put a lot of thought into how they want to handle it.
RShackleford 3 hours ago 0 replies      
i am not going to pay a cent for such a ridiculous firm.
Design is becoming a competitive advantage for startups venturebeat.com
102 points by nwest  9 hours ago   40 comments top 15
lkrubner 5 hours ago 2 replies      
This article seems ahistorical. It suffers from a lack of awareness regarding how far back some of these trends go. The inaccurate emphasis here is on something unheard of and new:

"Technical founders have already become prerequisites in the world of tech startups. Now get ready for the designer founder. The combination of this new duo is going to change the world of tech forever."

But this trend is not new for startups. 37 Signals has been preaching this for a long time now. I can not easily find the original blog post that I'm thinking of, but there is this:

"At 37signals, designers lead the teams. Each development team is made of up three people " two programmers and one designer. The designer also manages the project. In addition to designing the screens/elements, you'll keep the team focused and make calls about what's important."


But I recall quotes on the 37 Signals blog from as early as 2004 where they were essentially saying the same thing. Since they first began talking about Basecamp, they have talked about this style of development. This is not new.

billpatrianakos 7 hours ago 3 replies      
It's very hard to tell when design or functionality makes or breaks a site. I think we shouldn't be asking that question at all. The whole thing is completely situational.

For Craigslist the function is most important and credit should go to the back end guys. Something like Twitter would give it to the front end guys. I'm leaving scaling out of the equation for now and assuming all sites will perform the same under any load.

A site that is ugly doesn't get used. People always judge a book by its cover especially these days. But if the pretty site doesn't work then you're also screwed. I really hate this debate over who is more important: front or back end. You need both. Period.

I also hate the whole "design is easy" / "no, programming is easy" argument. Neither one is easy. They're different animals. The way you approach the front end and back end are totally different. I'm a generalist but lean toward design. I'm in awe of the back end guys but then some are in awe of me. We have totally different goals in mind when working. The back end guys are concerned with functionality. Security, scaling. The front end is all about beauty, load times, SEO, user experience. At one point in our work we do end up in the middle. That middle is when we're both thinking about the the front end is interacting with the back end and how will we code everything so that A) we can easily connect the two and B) we can efficiently extend the front end to accommodate new back end features and vice versa.

I understand the article wasn't exactly pitting programmers against designers but there's always that subtext and people always start thinking about it. It's a shame that the designers haven't gotten as much credit until recently but at the same time, even as a designer, I must give huge props to the back end guys as I understand the pains they go through.

But can we put the whole front vs. back debate to rest already? You just can't have one without the other. Period.

DanI-S 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Building a product is composed of two (blurry) stages: creating something that solves a problem, and adapting that solution to suit the person who will be using it.

Arguably, without design, there is no product - by making decisions that are necessary to take something from paper into reality, you are going through a process of design.

Design is most acknowledged in consumer goods, but it is present everywhere. Imagine you are building a widget that forms part of the internal mechanism of a space probe. It will likely only be seen or touched by a few technical people, it probably doesn't need visual appeal, but you must still design it to be feasible to manufacture and convenient to handle during assembly.

You will have to make decisions above and beyond its basic function - does the form fit the assembly worker's perceived model of what it does? Can it be held in human hands safely and without risking damage? Would any damage or incorrect installation be visually evident?

There is a false dichotomy between engineering and design. Modern technology is closing the conceptual gap. Whilst we need a certain degree of specialization, I strongly believe there should be no such thing as a 'pure' engineer or designer. If we want to create usable tools, we all need to know a little of both.

ggwicz 8 hours ago 1 reply      
It's always been an advantage, we're just becoming aware of it.

Like, being fit has always been an advantage for organisms. But until organisms came along who developed language and became able to communicate that it was valuable (aka humans), nobody was saying "it's a competitive advantage to be healthy".

fortes 3 hours ago 0 replies      
"There is, however, a shortage of good startup designers, at least when it comes to people who have both interaction and product design experience and skill sets. Designers today are being asked to do more than simply build visuals and hand them off to engineers. They are evolving into experts in user research (customer development), information architecture (IA), interaction design (IxD), visual design, and storytelling (copy writing and messaging). They also possess back-end skills and have a thorough understanding of the technology stack that the product is being built on. "

It seems that the definition of a "good designer" includes various technical skills / knowledge, while the definition of a "good developer" does not include design. I've noticed this a few times in startup culture, where people are hesitant to hire UX/designers that do not code.

Neputys 7 hours ago 1 reply      
...The use of that last phrase, “style over substance” has always been, as Oscar Wilde observed, a marvellous and instant indicator of a fool. For those who perceive a separation between the two have either not lived, thought, read or experienced the world with any degree of insight, imagination or connective intelligence...

Stephen Fry

sgdesign 4 hours ago 0 replies      
My problem with this type of article is that while it says design is important, it still propagates a false dichotomy between code and design (or form and function).

The takeaway shouldn't be that you need to find a designer co-founder that cares about design, it should be that YOU, as a technical founder, need to care (and learn) about design.

Developers who launch their startup need to learn about running a business even though that's not their main domain of expertise. So why couldn't they learn about good design as well?

omouse 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Did you know that the left/right sides of the brain theory has been debunked and hasn't been seriously considered for the last few decades? Stop using it to talk about different types of skills, it just makes you sound stupid.

edit: just in case you need more info about this... http://scienceblogs.com/neurophilosophy/2007/10/the_left_bra...

ssharp 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It's pretty startling how some traditionally B&M institutions will neglect the UX of their online products. Banks, for instance, will spend lots of money and attention to their physical customer touch-points, but banks' online banking is woefully without character and lacking in usability.

I think things are improving, but the fact that design is still a strong competitive advantage (in many types of businesses, not just startups) shows how lacking it is. Companies understand the importance of their brand, but they seem to undervalue how the digital experience affects the brand.

mtgentry 7 hours ago 0 replies      
"There is, however, a shortage of good startup designers, at least when it comes to people who have both interaction and product design experience and skill sets."

As a design/product guy I'd love to work at your startup IF the problem you're trying to solve is compelling. A good number of startups fail that litmus test for me.

If your idea is awesome, I'm in.

Swizec 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Design has always been a competitive advantage for startups doing anything with consumers.

Case in point, Apple vs. every other small PC manufacturer in the 70's and 80's ... hell, even now.

int3rnaut 6 hours ago 0 replies      
For me, design needs to be taken into consideration from all sides. Technical, creative, everything needs to be put together just right for a project to take off--being good in all fields is a competitive advantage. Design in the sense that this article writes about is important (and as a not very technical founder I appreciate vb pumping my tires) but never forget the other parts of the machine that help make it run.

From the lens of a role-playing gamer (big fan of Bioware games), I think this realization can best be described by the distribution of attribute points. You can drop all your points into strength, and sure enough there will be times that you excel as you bash things with swords, but there will be times when you think, boy it would be nice to have a bit of magic or better charisma or whatever to solve this problem (usually bad guys) and then you start going all magic... usually the best builds that provide the best overall advantage are the ones that are balanced. So again, as much hype as these Design people might be getting now, don't forget about the other "attributes" as it were.

kingsidharth 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Very true. My co-founder pays a dollar extra for each domain (he has around 100) just because GoDaddy's design sucks.
_pius 7 hours ago 1 reply      
pbregman 4 hours ago 2 replies      
This is why there needs to be an easily accessible hub for designers and coders alike to present ideas and find people to work with. The idea of bumping into the ideal business partner while in school, at work, or out socially is somewhat arcane.
ARM launches free toolkit for Android arm.com
8 points by kgutteridge  1 hour ago   discuss
FSF Europe launches peer-to-peer search engine itworld.com
28 points by jfruh  4 hours ago   8 comments top 7
mark_l_watson 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
Interesting code base. Java with a templating engine (de.anomic.server.serverObjects) I have never seen before. Worth some reading time.

Bigger picture: YaCy would need to reach a large critical mass of nodes before being useful, so it would seem to be difficult to get enough people to donate server resources.

Also, it is not clear how to keep anyone from doing SEO by running nodes that make it a priority to spider promoted web sites.

xorglorb 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Well, it sounds cool, but the first result for "Google" is a Youtube Video Converter, and it appears to randomly change between German and English.
jshen 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the idea, but I think a p2p search should also include human filtering and trust. I.e. i know the keys of my trusted friends and sites/pages they've "approved" rank higher for my searches.
JoshTriplett 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I tried a few test searches, and didn't seem to get many useful results at all. Searching for [debian] did not produce any debian.org results anywhere on the first page. Similarly, searching for [google] did not produce google.com (or any other google domain) on the first page. Searching for [lwn] produced one random LWN comment, but nothing else. Searching for [linux] produced a page full of links to the Wikipedia articles on Linux in numerous different languages, in no sensible order.
runn1ng 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I downloaded the peer software... how do I know to how many peers I am connected, how do I know what does my computer actually do, and why does "local" yacy returns 0 results to everything?

Questions, questions, questions.

JulianMorrison 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Um, am I alone in getting a sinking feeling that the word "security" appears only in one place on their site, and it's in regard to having your searches snooped? Hint to FSF: not everyone on the web is an altruist.
andrewflnr 2 hours ago 1 reply      
So this spreads the index across all nodes, right? I probably don't want an index of the entire web on my hard drive. But at the same time, how efficient can it be to hit a bunch of different nodes every time I search? How is it going to affect me when people hit my node?
Scroogled (2007) scroogle.org
190 points by infocaptor  13 hours ago   37 comments top 11
simonw 12 hours ago 3 replies      
You can tell this is from 2007 because Google employees are obsessing about what Yahoo! are doing. Today, it would be Facebook.
jcr 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Of course, the potential (but improbable) implications of up-voting this story should not be lost on anyone.
notaddicted 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I guess this is minor, but why does it say 1997 in the title? I can't find the year anywhere in the story or in these comments.
user24 12 hours ago 1 reply      
reminds me of the nine billion names of God: http://365tomorrows.com/09/12/the-nine-billion-names-of-god/
rmccue 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the reference to China, considering Google recently backing out of there due to these sorts of reasons. Makes me wonder if they'd ever consider doing the same in one of their key markets, such as the US.
arethuza 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This story is also included in the excellent "With a Little Help" collection:


The free audio versions of the stories are particularly good.

icebraining 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Of course, the irony of this being hosted on that site is that using Scroogle primarily would result on a suspiciously light Google profile, which would most definitively get yourself marked for further investigation. After all, that's the corollary to "if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide".
chrislomax 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I didn't read the short story line at the top there, I actually thought this was a real account then. Coming from the UK none of this applies to the UK so I wouldn't have heard about this initiative if any of it was true.

Good story and could quite easily be true

brokentone 11 hours ago 1 reply      
If 1984 were written today, I believe it would read a lot like this. However this one reads remarkably like reality. Good story Mr. Doctorow.
kevinalexbrown 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Particularly the bit about probable cause from statistical anomalies. Oh, we don't indiscriminately go through your records, unless you use TOR, in which case what are you hiding?
gwern 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The suicide bit is cute. Indeed.
Facebook's entire business model is under fire in the EU venturebeat.com
49 points by ukdm  6 hours ago   26 comments top 9
reso 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Factually incorrect article.

>First, let's have a primer on how Facebook makes money: The company gets you to willingly enter all kinds of demographic and behavioral information into a massive database. Advertisers, big brands and Facebook's sales team call it “data.” You call it your profile, your likes, your checkins, your comments and everything else you do on the site. Facebook then sells that data " in an aggregated, anonymized form, of course " to brands and advertising agencies so they know how, when, where and to whom to market their wares.

Data is not "sold". Data only leaves Facebook's servers when you ask for it. Facebook makes money by targeting ads on facebook.com. This is constantly misstated and it frustrates the hell out of me.

EDIT: I tweeted at the author and she made the language much less ambiguous. Journalism points to Jolie O'Dell.

law 3 hours ago 1 reply      
However, Facebook maintains that users prefer seeing ads that are linked to their interests and lifestyles. Also, the company reminds us that private information stays private, even when data is used to sell ads, because information is collected in aggregate and is anonymized.

This troubles me, because information being collected and 'anonymized' is somewhat of a misnomer. I think many would contest any assertion that data capable of disassembly into its constituent parts (assuming each constituent part to be a unique combination of variables represented in the aggregate) comports with anonymity. I'm generally not one to praise governmental regulatory agencies for their technological prowess, but the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services really "got it" with HIPAA's de-identification standard.

HHS understands the importance of aggregating healthcare data and conducting statistical research, and does not let HIPAA preclude this from occurring. Instead, HIPAA outlines a "safe harbor" approach that limits a covered entity's criminal/civil liability in the event of a breach if and only if the covered entity removes 18 identifiers and has no actual knowledge that the remaining information could identify the individual. These identifiers include names, dates, geolocational codes covering populations less than 20,000, etc. Alternatively, covered entities may opt to use a 'statistical' approach by hiring a qualified statistician (or other scientific expert) who can use acceptable analytic techniques to conclude that the risk of identifying the person from the disclosed information is very, very small.[1]

A safe harbor approach to large-scale data privacy would be absolutely wonderful. Using statistics to prove the anonymity of data being collected/used by Facebook is nonsensical, since by default, we've given them a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to 'use' anything we submit to them. Contracts of adhesion, in my opinion, are more of the problem since there's no good way to 'make change' for the information that you submit. For example, someone very active on Facebook might arguably be 'worth more' to the company than someone who isn't, but both receive the same product.

EDIT: A safe harbor approach to large-scale data privacy isn't even unknown. See COPPA[2], for example.

[1] http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&rgn... 45 CFR 164.514(b)(1)--(2).

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Childrens_Online_Privacy_Protec...

zalew 6 hours ago 0 replies      
nextparadigms 5 hours ago 0 replies      
With how much Facebook are doing behind the scenes with the user tracking, it's hard to blame the EU officials trying to stop them. Facebook tried to bite more than they can chew, and they've been warned about going too far with all the privacy invasion for 2 years now, and they still didn't care, and went ahead anyway.
flyt 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Is the EU also going to require Google to get user permission before collecting data they turn around and use for selling ads?
jphackworth 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Saying their "entire business model is under fire" seems too extreme. From the article:

The EC is planning to ban such activity unless users themselves specifically agree to it.

Okay, so, at worst Facebook just has to make users specifically agree to this before they can continue using Facebook. I'm sure some people wouldn't agree, but it's not a big enough deal that Facebook would change their business model.

guimarin 6 hours ago 2 replies      
One thing that strikes me as interesting is that Facebook repeatedly states that they do not sell personal information to third parties. Yet, I've never read or heard it stated plainly that this behavior is forbidden by applications running on the Facebook platform. In fact, at one point I remember that friends applications had access to my personal information, even if I did not authorize said application. I dont' know whether that is still the case, but the idea behind it is troubling.

I would also like to follow-up that people are dissimilar enough that de-anonymizing is not that difficult. I do not know why, yet, an advertiser would want to explicitly de-anonymize its data, but it is certainly possible.

Developer Income Report #16 kreci.net
162 points by kreci  13 hours ago   29 comments top 12
steve-howard 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This may be off-topic, but where do you draw inspiration for your apps? I am a fairly decent programmer, would love to write some Android apps, but I'm sort of at a loss when it comes to what kind of apps I would want to write. It seems to be something you just have to draw out of thin air or get via spontaneous inspiration. Usually I think about what kinds of problems I want to solve, but there's almost always an app for that already!
ryandvm 13 hours ago 3 replies      
I'm curious what kind of boost you see just from posting these Developer Income Reports. Is this a Schrodinger's Income Report kind of thing where posting about the experiment affects the outcome of the experiment?
tmcneal 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I love seeing these posts every month. They're great inspiration for developers who might be thinking about going off on their own, and a reminder that Rome wasn't built in a day.

Congratulations kreci on reaching your income goal!

ja27 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Congratulations on achieving your target.

Is there any chance of you getting apps into the Amazon store or are they only allowing U.S. developers? I know techie bloggers aren't loving the Kindle Fire, but I know a ton of normal people buying them. That's a lot of Android tablets, none of which will ever see the main Android store.

incosta 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I understand why the author is not willing to share much specifics (such as which free apps get him 4k+ a month in ad revenue) but he still at least could get a number of installs published.

I am skeptical because I know for a fact that some people don't tell the truth. We can only speculate about the reasons..maybe it's to generate more traffic or interest towards the non-free products they offer. I know a fellow (who used to publish a competing product to mine) who boasted online in an article about making quarter million dollars a year after just being a year in business. The same fellow just was trying to sell me his "quarter-million a year business" domain name for 1K a few months before:) In this case, numbers are much more moderate and believable, but still I am not taking this just at the face value, unless there are some facts I can verify, or compare against. The number of active users, for example, and in which countries (mostly) are generating 4K+ /month in ads?

startupcto 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Being in the app business for more than 2 years, like any other business, there's a cycle. It's a definite trend that mobile ad spending increases towards the end of the year and so publishers will see higher CPM and more impressions. Come January, that bump in ad revenue might reverse and newbie developers could be in for a surprise drop in their ad revenue.

The key metric to measure is DAU, and checking that you are generating more impressions from more active users.

kreci 13 hours ago 2 replies      
As usual comments welcome and strongly desired! =)
raheemm 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice post. What country are you in?
soapdog 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Dear Kreci,

Thanks for all the reports and the book. It is a great read and full of good advises, I recomend it to anyone entering the mobile market.

I have a question for you. How do we go to redownload the book? I had a major crash here and lost the PDF. Can I give you the PayPal ID for the transaction and you will send it back to me?

I send you an email about this couple weeks ago as well.

Cheers and thanks for all the help

ja27 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Any idea why your iStockPhoto income dropped just for this period? It seems like a fluke / outlier, not a long-term trend.
kreci 13 hours ago 1 reply      
It looks that some moderators do not like me. This post was on the main page and suddenly disappeared like many of my previous ones... Little not fair... Thanks...
radicalbyte 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Yet again an interesting post.

There's one thing I'd be interested in knowing: do you make more cash from your toy apps (x-Ray/cracked-window) or from the more useful ones such as your WordPress stats app?

Humane.js 2.1 released - simple modern notification system github.com
90 points by wavded  10 hours ago   21 comments top 10
jtchang 9 hours ago 3 replies      
It looks cool but why are you popping up a giant box in front of my face?

That HAS to violate some sort of User Experience. If it doesn't I am going to say it violates mine.

dfischer 41 minutes ago 1 reply      
"A simple, modern, framework-independent, well-tested, unobtrusive, notification system."

Design wise, the default is pretty obtrusive.

Nice library though. Thanks.

danneu 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I think notifications must stack to be usable.

My experience with websites that queue up notifications (the old thesixtyone.com) is that you sort of pause, sit there, and wait for them to finish up so you see what they say. A better experience is for them to stack up in the corner so you can read them, then click them away once you're done.

latchkey 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm sure that this is a really well implemented piece of code. However, just as a personal preference (this is not a flame or attack, just some feedback), I think a site using this would be a site I'd stop using. I find the dialog really annoying because the effect of blocking user input in order to display some sort of message seems really inhumane to me. There are better ways to do notifications without pushing a big dialog, with some text, in the face of the user.
sry_not4sale 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I think you should change the default template to libnotify, so much nicer.

Also, the notifications behave strange when hovering over them with the mouse... they shrink onhover, then on the next hover they dismiss.

This is on Chromium 15.

nchuhoai 9 hours ago 0 replies      
nevinera 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Does it support stacking?
tedsuo 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I gotta admit I'm confused why these things are popular on hacker news. I've written several "growl" notification tools, usually I just re-write it on top of whatever ui toolkit the project is using rather than try to use a library. It takes less than 20 minutes to write one sufficient for whatever your use case is, and it works exactly how you need it to.

Not saying this or any other implementation is bad and you shouldn't use it, but why does hacker news get so excited every time one of these shows up?

krmmalik 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Not to be inflammatory in anyway but how is this any better than some of the existing libraries, such as jGrowl etc?

I'm looking for some 'arguments' to seriously consider something like this - Thank you ;-)

xtacy 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Another library that has notifications, alerts, prompts without dependency on jQuery: http://ssssnakes.com/smoke/
Apple iPhone spontaneously combusts aboard flight in Australia bgr.com
73 points by zacharye  7 hours ago   48 comments top 12
bradleyland 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Lithium-ion batteries contain significant amounts of, you guessed it, lithium. Lithium reacts violently with many other substances. If the battery is damaged or contains a fault, the result is lots of energy released (heat). This danger exists in all devices that contain a Li-Ion battery, which is just about everything these days.
mtigas 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I find it funny that this was on the front page last night:

"Fliers Must Turn Off Devices, but It's Not Clear Why"

Edit: Not implying anything about a relation to phone use during takeoff and landing (BGR and Australian press release are vague), but I just found it curious.

bri3d 7 hours ago 2 replies      
LiPo/Li-Ion batteries on airplanes have been an issue for years - see, for example, this article from 2010: http://travelsentry.blogspot.com/2010/08/future-of-flying-wi...

At this point rechargeable lithium-based batteries are a more effective bomb than 90% of the things the TSA has banned - but I suspect we won't see them trying to take away laptops and phones anytime soon.

mey 5 hours ago 1 reply      
jergosh 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Assuming if this would've been reported had it happened before, all it means is 'iPhones have one in 70 million chance of combusting.'
liquid_x 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This comes to mind: http://xkcd.com/651/ xkcd, Back Check
clumsysmurf 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Lithium fires give off a number of toxic gasses like HF. Even if the fire was safely contained, my concern would be if the people on board were exposed to these toxins through inhalation. If a plane is recirculating cabin air, is there a anything a pilot can do to expunge bad air in these cases?
racketeer 5 hours ago 2 replies      
There appears to be a modification to this phone. - Steve Jobs' head is where the apple bite is. Maybe that caused it?
eigenvector 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Thank god this didn't happen in the USA. The poor iPhone owner would likely be imprisoned right now.
CGamesPlay 4 hours ago 1 reply      
It seems plausible to me that when the phone came out of airplane mode, it increased radio transmission and/or CPU use. Due to some fault in one of those systems, the thermal throttling didn't kick in, and caused enough heat to melt open the battery. Perhaps the phone was jailbroken and overclocked?
GoodIntentions 7 hours ago 0 replies      
He was just holding it wrong
ww520 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Time to ban all cellphones abroad any plane.
Entrepreneurship Sucks readwriteweb.com
35 points by brownie  4 hours ago   14 comments top 9
endtwist 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This article reeks of inexperience and just a dash of sour grapes.

Supplier got the order wrong? Your problem; you fix it. Sales team can't get their act together (despite a wonderfully choreographed song and dance routine)? That's on your shoulders. People fighting? Smooth things over. Someone is only working at 103% efficiency, not pumping out enough likes and tweets and check-ins? All you to handle.

Yes, that's called being in charge. If you can't handle it all and have the means, delegate.

Brief edit: turns out this guy went to my school and is a friend-of-a-friend. Did some due diligence and friend says he's just trying to provoke a reaction (aka "troll"). He is, says my friend, "one of the hardest working people" he knows. Nothing to see here.

MJR 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Who is the author? What are his credentials? What has he built? With a blank page for a bio, no other authored articles and a Google search that returns next to nothing, this article is worth just that - next to nothing.


tluyben2 3 hours ago 0 replies      
[let's feed]

Some people might have this experience. I'm not one of them. I love being an entrepreneur for the reasons he indicates. And I don't see or have those negatives.

John Petersel seems to have failed as entrepreneur (or maybe he never tried, which is even worse writing stuff like this...), but I think I make more money than him, have more free time, spend more time with my family, actually manage my company instead of 'doing everything myself' (as he seems to suggest). And I do what I love and have always done that. Life's too short not to.

Some people shouldn't be entrepreneurs, luckily not everyone wants to, but writing crap like this...

GFischer 1 hour ago 0 replies      
"I can't see why you wouldn't rather sit back in your ergonomically-designed desk chair, crack a beer you bought on the company's expense account, and cut your biweekly salary checks that could feed a family of five for three months."

I know that's bait, but I can't help falling...

Maybe that's true for the author (or someone Harvard-educated), but here in the third world, enterpreneurship sounds a lot better when you see that a "dream" job like mine pays U$ 15.000 after taxes (and yes, people think I'm mad because I want to quit).

I do have job security people in Spain or the US might only dream of (six months' severance plus a year's salary if I'm fired), but being secure in a dead end isn't my dream life.

bodegajed 2 hours ago 2 replies      
The author needs to understand that being an entrepreneur is not about the result. Steve Jobs said in his bio "The reward is the Journey." It's the excitement of what's in store for the future.
zerostar07 3 hours ago 0 replies      
You suck as an entrepreneur ergo entrepreneurship sucks.
TDL 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The author's attitude towards salaried work, let alone entrepreneurship, is awful. If that really is his attitude and I was his manager, he would be fired with in six months.
josephmosby 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Honestly, if the author line had said "Tyler Winklevoss" I wouldn't have been surprised. This individual has confused "responsibility is hard" with "responsibility sucks," which is a very poor comparison to make if you want to do anything well.
pknight 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Waste of time. Author just wanted somebody to read his pseudo-polarizing superficial drivel.No substance to be found
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