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Dropping a Magnet Through a Copper Pipe makezine.com
268 points by jashmenn  6 hours ago   66 comments top 18
jacquesm 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I've played around with some pretty bad ass magnets during the time that I was building wind turbines and one of the more interesting effects was that if you dropped one near anything made of steel you were actually in danger of getting shrapnel embedded in your body.

They move so fast it is scary, sometimes they explode on impact. This makes you pretty nervous about dropping them.

Then, one day one got dropped over a chunk of solid aluminum. It floated gently to the metal landing with a soft 'click'. Besides the initial surprise (I realized the eddy currents induced a magnet field of opposing polarity in the aluminum) what struck me most was the force of that opposing magnet. If you tried to force the magnet close to the aluminum at speed it would resist so strongly that you never managed to smash it into it with any kind of effectiveness. Always just that soft 'click'.

I still have a bunch of 3"x2"x1" neos waiting for some project, and whenever someone visits that's interested in technology I show them what those things can do, if you have tried to pry one of those from a chunk of solid steel (or if you're unlucky, another magnet) you know what I mean when I say I have a lot of respect for those little golden blocks.

swombat 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Most of the other "zen magnet" videos linked as "related videos" are pretty damn awesome. I strongly recommend watching them all, right now. Really, there's nothing more important for you to do at this point in time.

Exploding zen magnet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=q...

140-sided zen magnet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRiMexbocBI&feature=relmf...

Interlaced dodecahedron: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2qfCn3gclQ&feature=relmf...

"Hell's Diamond": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OF2i8eG7KhA&feature=relmf...

jtchang 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Imagine an amusement park ride where they put you in a suit full of magnets and then drop you down a copper tube.

That would be one hell of an experience.

presidentender 5 hours ago 1 reply      
It is not often that something runs so strongly against my intuition. Today, I am reminded just how little I know.
tzs 5 hours ago 3 replies      
"I could do this all day. It's so cool".

Am I correct in assuming that if he did it all day, it would not actually be so cool, as the copper tube would be heated up by the induced currents?

CognitiveLens 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I was fascinated by this demonstration in my high school physics class. The teacher went further and dropped the same magnet through another copper pipe of the same diameter that had a slit cut along its length - the magnet dropped straight through the slit pipe without slowing down. This provided an important "counterexample" demonstrating that the induced currents were circular around the circumference of the solid pipe - breaking the circle eliminated the braking force.
jtreminio 5 hours ago 2 replies      
This is amazing to me as I've never seen or heard of it before.

Question: If this same thing were to be done in a circular copper pipe that feeds into itself (ie a hoola hoop made of copper), and that hoop were rotated at the correct speed, would the magnet in effect never actually move and just hover in mid air?

felipemnoa 4 hours ago 1 reply      
So in a nutshell what seems to be happening is that the moving magnetic field is causing the electrons in the copper to move, this electrons then give rise to a magnetic field which repulses the original magnetic field which is why the magnet slows down.
michaelf 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This video made me curious about what a magnet factory would look like and I found a really great video that goes step by step through the process at a neodymium magnet manufacturer in Shanghai:


I was sort of hoping that the factory would look like that plexiglass prison in the X-Men movie that was designed to prevent Magneto from using his powers.

Alas, it's nothing like that, but it's an interesting video nonetheless.

digitalsushi 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Admit you're doing the right hand rule right now. And that you just googled what was going on, and for 2 minutes you felt like the young geek that forged your path here, whatever the discipline. (Ok, the physicists are not doing the right hand rule, they are rolling their eyes)
zafka 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This is pretty funny. I just did this demo two weeks ago at work. We had two motors that were neck and neck for a project, then when we put them both in am aluminum housing, one drew 50% more current at full speed idle. I found both this demo, and the demo of dropping a big magnet on to an aluminum sheet. I for sure need to play more with magnets, In fact I am lusting for the big magnet that
jacquesm talked about.
petercooper 4 hours ago 4 replies      
At the time of writing, the linked site is down, but I found what I suspect is a similar demonstration at http://www.bbc.co.uk/bang/handson/magneticcopper.shtml
joejohnson 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Here is a really easy to understand explanation of eddy currents and Lenz's Law http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&...
untog 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I cannot shake my perception that this video was, in fact, created and narrated by Zack Galifianakis.

"Just weird stuff. Eddy currents."

MaggieL 5 hours ago 1 reply      
At the Franklin Institute Science Museum years ago, they had a huge (2 foot diameter? More?) copper disk attached to a crank suspended in the gap of a big-ass electromagnet. The idea was you spun the crank, and then operated a foot pedal that applied current to the electromagnet, which braked the wheel with eddy currents.

The disk had slotted sectors, so you could tell that the braking effect was less when those sectors were in the gap.

I don't know if the exhibit survived the themparkification of fi.edu... I hope so but somehow I doubt it.

jurre 5 hours ago 1 reply      
So tempted to go and buy a magnet and copper pipe now!
ineedtogroove 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Have you guys ever seen a magnetic vortex?


Please explain to me how this works, I will buy you a donut

jamgraham 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I need a magnet suit and a big pipe
All Programmers Are Self-Taught jgneuf.wordpress.com
55 points by jgn  2 hours ago   25 comments top 19
JJMalina 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
I agree. As a third year undergrad also I've noticed that the focus on the code itself has diminished to almost zero from CS 101. At least in that course my professor mentioned a few things about code quality and design like DRY, loose-coupling, etc. My data structures professor's sample code which he would give out had single capital letters as variables, single lowercase letter variables, and awful and inconsistent indentation. I understand that it's data structures and not an open source project being maintained by the professor, but there were students in the course who barely had any experience programming outside of school. My guess is that the professor's neglect for any sort of code conventions will carry over with those students.

My school does offer a class called "Production Quality Software" but it's a graduate course and if you want to take it as an undergrad you only get 3 credits.

IMO the situation is not good.

apaitch 42 minutes ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure I can fully agree with the idea that programmers are self-taught in the sense of writing good code. I'm a student at the University of Waterloo, and in the courses in 1st and 2nd year a sizeable chunk of the marks depends on readability/documentation and such. We have coding guidelines and we lose marks for not following them. Needless to say, this doesn't mean most students at Waterloo write good, well-documented, readable code. Most of them are focused on getting the program to work, sprinkling in obvious comments (i.e. "//setting width to 60" ) and debugging when the tests fail. When they get marks off for poor documentation/readability they either complain or brush it off, claiming that since their program worked the rest isn't a big deal.

Bottom line: in my experience, the reason most programmers are self-taught with regard to writing good code is not that no one tries to teach them. It's that most of them don't think they NEED to know (i.e. don't place enough importance on it) and are willing to lose marks for it until they get to a job and they have no to choice but to, you guessed it, teach themselves. There are people who try to make the best out of their education, and these can be very good coders who learned by making the best of their education.

(Note: obviously this is a generalization - there are plenty of students who try to write good code.)

makecheck 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
Programming is unusually accessible compared to other skills. If I wanted to learn how to raise farm animals, where would I start? A person needs only a few common things to try programming: an off-the-shelf computer, maybe a book, and these days an Internet connection. After that, they require only the traits common to any other hobby, such as free time and enough imagination to figure out what is going to be built. (I'm glazing over a few details of course, such as the fact that knowing how to type would certainly speed things up.)

Programming is also an unusually marketable hobby skill. With many hobbies you can invest a lot of time and effort and produce beautiful things, but that's liable to only gain you praise; in programming, it can gain you a really good job. This is a pretty smart investment: for a modest expenditure yourself you might net a high income so it should not be surprising if people often teach themselves.

Besides, when I hire someone I like seeing evidence of side projects that reveal a certain passion for doing good software work. I wouldn't hire an artist or designer without seeing a portfolio either, and software has a lot of things in common with art and design.

wvenable 54 minutes ago 0 replies      
I mostly had the same experience as the author in university, with the sole exception of the C++ class. That class was brutal -- you had the match the style guide exactly, have good variable names, good comments, const-correctness, etc.

When I've taught programming to beginners, I try and demonstrate good code and when I see ugly code I point them in a better direction. I have, however, had students be stubbornly focused on the output of their code and ignore all my advice. No matter how ugly and hard to debug their code was, they refused to believe it mattered.

richchan 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
I agree that coding is generally not "taught" in lectures or recitations, but, like the article says, we learn from other people -- other people's code, their comments on our code, etc. In fact, I feel like that may be the only way to learn how to write good code and isn't something that can easily be self-taught.

Working with and learning from other people is way more effective (than just writing code) in figuring out how to identify good and bad code. And I think formal CS education usually gives people the right tools (like algos, design patterns, data structures, etc.) to understand and work with others.

richardburton 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I have been trying to learn to code for about 3 years. Recently - I succeeded (in getting started!).

I had been on courses, bought books, read tutorials etc. but at the end of each forced exercise I still could not build a decent rails app. Then, after coming back from the US 6 months ago, I decided I wanted a GroupMe clone for the UK. So I built one.


The SMS is disabled on that version as I have no intention of subsidising peoples' group-messages but the fact is it WORKS and finally learnt to code.

The controller is fat, the model is thin, there are no tests, there are lots of lengthy if-else statements, there are lots of bugs but I do not care because I finally learnt to code.

I have built little scripts for managing my kindle (https://gist.github.com/1404068) and scripts to get my Instragram pics (https://gist.github.com/1399696) and I love it.

I feel like I can finally call myself a rank amateur nuby Hacker. It feels good.

billpatrianakos 47 minutes ago 1 reply      
The thing about coding is that you have to be self taught. Languages, techniques, and technology in general moves so fast that by the time you get a degree everything you've learned as far as coding goes is already being replaced.

I learned simple HTML when I was 11 and have been self teaching myself ever since. I'm not in my second year of a degree in CS and what I've found is that the language and the code itself is not important. What's important are the concepts. Types, objects, methods, the theories behind programming, and all of those less tangible things are what's important because that is the basic foundation of programming.

Programming is different than other skills. It's as much of an art as it is a science. The science is relatively unchanging but the art does. Your code is always evolving and there's always the potential for you to make yourself obsolete if you don't continue to teach yourself. I focus on the web and in working in web design in particular I'm seeing a trend that speaks to the idea that you must always be teaching yourself. There are oodles and oodles of web design/development firms out there that have been around since the late 90's that you can tell have been around since the late 90's. Their work looks dated in terms of design and their techniques look like they're right out of 1997! The guys working there used to be young and up on the latest trends but it's obvious they've stopped learning and young guys are passing them up easily. Even people with less than half their experience are writing better code and have prettier output.

I think you can tell who got into programming just to get a job and who got into it out of passion by looking at their work. If it continually improves they've got passion, if it plateaus at a certain point then they're just employed and nothing more.

In the end being self taught is a requirement and never an option in this field. Once you have the foundational knowledge of programming then everything else is just a matter of keeping up with new tech and learning some new syntax every so often.

j_baker 1 hour ago 0 replies      
if my program compiled and my unit tests demonstrated correctness, that was enough.


Your professors taught you unit testing? In terms of learning the "practical" side of programming, I think that right there gives you a leg up on most CS students.

scott_s 37 minutes ago 0 replies      
As someone who has taught and TAed many students, I always tried to comment on coding style, explain what good style is, and why. This becomes more difficult as the number of students scales.
tmcw 42 minutes ago 1 reply      
Actually, according to this article, "All programmer's are self-taught."

Unfortunately, some are also self-taught in grammar and punctuation. (I had to. My snark quota is done for the day.)

jraines 43 minutes ago 0 replies      
Who says there was a conversion? It's possible to grow up as both. I know a few CS guys who were national level swimmers, and one who was international caliber and only went CS after completing a masters in EE.
chrismealy 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I agree with the premise. However, the whole world runs on sloppy, inelegant, and downright ugly code. I strive to write pretty code but the truth is it doesn't matter that much. Just getting it done and out the door counts for so much more.
rileya 58 minutes ago 0 replies      
Very true. As a current CS student, I couldn't agree more.

From what I've seen thus far, most school assignments are pretty easy to stumble through without really understanding what you're doing. As much useful stuff as I've learned in class, it's been personal projects that have really solidified things and taught me the most valuable lessons.

th 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
I think CS departments should offer at least one course that spends a little time focusing on writing quality code.

The Software Engineering course I took at university was a pretty good introduction to "programming". One of our required texts for the course was Code Complete by Steve McConnell. We were required to read all the chapters that focused on programming style.

crxpandion 23 minutes ago 0 replies      
I disagree with this post. There are professors out there who do in fact teach code style in a very hands on and personal manner.
Chris Riesbeck [1] at Northwestern University has made a great system to teach good coding practices in a number of languages. Many of my fellow alumni have learned good coding practices from him. Its an inside joke to talk about "Riesbeck crying" when messy code is written.

[1] http://www.cs.northwestern.edu/~riesbeck/critiquing.html

angelbob 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Carnegie Mellon is quite a stronghold of this. They don't teach much coding -- they hand you the books, give you projects and grade the results. If you produce workable code, mostly you win :-)

It's telling that CMU is considered such a great tech school. Even the best don't know how to teach programming (yet?).

langsamer 26 minutes ago 0 replies      
I'm not sure I agree. Yes to a certain degree, I think that programmers are self-taught, but I think like most things in life, most of the learning comes from your peer group. Working on a project in a small team with other motivated developers is a much more enriching learning experience than doing solo class projects or teaching yourself some new technology.
namidark 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
I disagree, I often see people in the CS program who haven't done a lick of programming outside assignments and don't bother teaching themselves anything beyond whats required for class.
demian 49 minutes ago 0 replies      
There is a difference between "self-taught" and "polishing skills with experience".

Whatever you study in school, you will never be 100% prepeared to work.

That being said, code/program design IS a very important skill that seems to be hard to teach in school.

Sending holiday cards, but I don't have addresses, so I made SendSpree sendspree.com
31 points by colevscode  3 hours ago   5 comments top 5
PStamatiou 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Nice work Cole. Postcard on the run has something like this that they call "Gopher" http://www.postcardontherun.com/postal-gopher

But I like the open-ended use of SendSpree. Though I wish I could just type in an email, instead of having to auth with one of cloudsponge's gmail/etc integrations. This reminds me to code up a simple mailer/form for Picplum users to fetch addresses. Though oddly enough it has rarely been requested from our users.

aarondf 14 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is potentially a very useful site. I wish I had this a a few weeks ago as I've recently been inundated with address requests! Thanks for doing this.

On a side note: I see Twitter Bootstrap, Mailgun, and Cloudsponge. Any other providers being used here? I love seeing projects that take advantage of the available resources / frameworks. Truly nice work.

latchkey 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This app seems like a massive identity collector.

Also, I accidentally figured out what port they are running on because FB redirected me to it when I didn't agree to connect.


jasonshen 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I've wanted this since forever - it's so awkward to ask for addresses and keep all of them sorted. Thank you for building this!
SHOwnsYou 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Combine with sendwrite.com like functionality for effortless letter sending?
Poll: What compiler do you use for iOS development?
14 points by jamesjyu  1 hour ago   13 comments top 6
zdw 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
Just out of curiosity, anyone know of a good CLI xcodebuild cheatsheet or reference?

I'm used to make/rake for most things, and would love NOT to have to load GUI Xcode every time I needed to rebuild an app...

eridius 51 minutes ago 3 replies      
Clang is the future. GCC is obsolete, and LLVM-GCC was just a temporary technology to help migrate from GCC to Clang. All new projects should absolutely be using Clang now, and any old projects that haven't already switched should seriously consider doing so.
rickharrison 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I use LLVM mainly for the ability to put ivars in a class extension. I.E.

@interface MyClass() {
MyNewIvar *ivar


ericflo 42 minutes ago 0 replies      
Misclicked on LLVM-GCC, meant to click on LLVM Clang.
migueldeicaza 1 hour ago 0 replies      
bronxbomber92 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I use Clang (IMO you should rename LLVM Compiler to Clang).
I find putting ivars in my implementation files keeps my headers extremely clean.
Why Science is Failing Us wired.com
51 points by quasistar  3 hours ago   38 comments top 12
mindstab 3 hours ago 5 replies      
I don't quite know how to adequatly articulate my displeasure with this article but lets try.

The article basically seems to be relying on some philosophy and muddy and different definitions in different contexts (philosophy vs science vs standard usage) of words like "fact". Then it talks about how things are getting more complex and we're spending more effort to learn things now than we used to because "we know all the easy stuff". And seems to conclude that we'll still be no better than religious shamanistic people once we "know all there is to know" and it still won't do us a lot of good.

It seems to be advocating give up on science now, with some rational like "while we're ahead".

I honestly don't get it. It seems like cloudy wooly thinking, bad arguments.

Sure, things are getting more complex and will continue to, but that doesn't mean we should give up, or that "it's mysteries all the way down". Every year we learn more and fix more problems. And we have to and always have had to make a lot of mistakes in the process. The author seems to think we're making more mistakes now and that's an indication the game is almost up.

I disagree, medical science is still churning out amazing breakthroughs, like HIV and cancer vaccines this year. And physics is still coming up with amazing things.

Just because it's getting harder doesn't mean we should stop or that we'll hit a wall and be able to go no further (and if we can see that wall coming we might want to think about stopping prematurely?)

Everytime we thought we'd learned everything we've been able to push on and learn more, discover more depth, and use it more to our advantage. I don't strictly speaking see why that has to stop just because it's getting harder. At least any time soon. Each new level also gives us better tools to work with.

And there have always been people saying we know enough now, or it's getting harder so lets stop now. And some have, and many haven't and that's why we still have progress. This is a age old endless reoccurring trend and bares the same ignoring it has always gotten. Or you can step off the train of progress and be left behind.

I do not think science is failing us at all in anyway. I think this article is poor on many standards.

tokenadult 3 hours ago 1 reply      
This is an important article with well chosen examples. But I think the headline points to the wrong "cause" of failure. Scientists, the directors of science research funding projects, and the general public can better understand what we know and what we don't know about causation from correlation if science teachers and journalists do a better job. For a long time, members of the journalistic community and members of the general public have been overinterpreting tentative scientific findings,


and if we learn the lessons of how to interpret research findings more cautiously, we can all do our part to guide further research better.

As the author of the submitted article points out, "This doesn't mean that nothing can be known or that every causal story is equally problematic. Some explanations clearly work better than others, which is why, thanks largely to improvements in public health, the average lifespan in the developed world continues to increase. (According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, things like clean water and improved sanitationâ€"and not necessarily advances in medical technologyâ€"accounted for at least 25 of the more than 30 years added to the lifespan of Americans during the 20th century.) Although our reliance on statistical correlations has strict constraintsâ€"which limit modern researchâ€"those correlations have still managed to identify many essential risk factors, such as smoking and bad diets."

So with caution about assuming causation where the data cannot reliably show causation,


the huge task of biomedical research can still go forward, eventually yielding other findings that can improve health or longevity compared to today's baseline.

AFTER EDIT: The question posed in the first reply below is interesting. One reason that biomarker interventions are tried more often than "hard endpoint" interventions is simply that they are faster and easier. To really check carefully for hard endpoints--reduced mortality and morbidity, for a medical treatment--takes time in a clinical trial. Sometimes an effective on a biomarker, for example serum cholesterol, can be observed right away, but if the subjects in a study are at an age at which few subjects die from any cause, it can be a long while before a study reveals which treatments actually increase rather than decrease the risk of death.

The case of the drug rimonabant,


which had reasonably strong support from animal experiments as an antiobesity drug, is instructive. Studies of human subjects after the drug was approved in Europe revealed a huge increase in suicidal risk among patients taking rimonabant,


and eventually approval of the drug in Europe was withdrawn, and the drug was withdrawn from the market by its manufacturer, before rimonabant was ever approved in the United States.

refurb 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Wow, that article was a little annoying.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I get the impression that he thinks our current approach to science is wrong due to our tendency to attribute cause and effect to things where we have no conclusive proof of cause and effect?

Well, if he has a better suggestion on how to approach research, I'm all ears!

First off, I don't think ANYONE who was involved with the development of torcetrapib thought it was a "slam dunk". The success rate of drugs that have reached phase III is only slightly north of 50%.

Second, there is no way you could possibly figure out all the effects a particular drug has on the human body. You'd be doing research for the next 100 years and you still wouldn't come close. So what we do is we come up with a hypothesis (high HDL is good), we gather evidence in the most efficient manner we can (other drugs that raise HDL help prolong life in humans and animals), then we move forward with our BEST GUESS. That's how science works, you create a hypothesis, then test it.

Are our hypotheses wrong sometimes? Of course. Do we learn something from the failures? Yes. Trying a being successful 10% of the time is far better than not trying at all and being successful 0% of the time.

Merck's CETP inhibitor is in phase III right now and there is a chance that it will fail too. And I don't think any scientists feels that high HDL is the cause of reduced cardiac risks. A more accurate description would be to say "High HDL is associated with reduced cardiac risks, this drug increases HDL levels, so it stands a chance of reducing cardiac risks".

I think the author does a bad job of describing how scientists approach their work. If anything a scientist would be the first to call out a claim that something _causes_ something else. That's how their trained!

kenjackson 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I think scientists see this as a success. You get data and you revise your hypothesis. You get more data and you revise it again.

A lot of people want science to be like politics. They want you to pick a side and stick to it regardless of the data.

IMO, when conventional wisdom isn't at least occassionally overturneed -- that's when I'll begin to think science is failing us.

winestock 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The advice of pnathan, elsewhere in this thread, is good. This is a better article than what I've come to expect from Wired.

The main point of the article is that scientists have exhausted the low-hanging fruit of useful correlations and are now grasping at the more dubious correlations. The author claims that things are complicated by the concept of causation.

He cites David Hume: "...causes are a strange kind of knowledge. This was first pointed out by David Hume, the 18th-century Scottish philosopher. Hume realized that, although people talk about causes as if they are real factsâ€"tangible things that can be discovered -- they're actually not at all factual. Instead, Hume said, every cause is just a slippery story, a catchy conjecture, a 'lively conception produced by habit.' When an apple falls from a tree, the cause is obvious: gravity. Hume's skeptical insight was that we don't see gravity -- we see only an object tugged toward the earth. We look at X and then at Y, and invent a story about what happened in between. We can measure facts, but a cause is not a fact -- it's a fiction that helps us make sense of facts."

It's been a while since I've taken philosophy, but Hume's skepticism of causality is itself a story by its own criteria.

zasz 2 hours ago 0 replies      
"Another meta review, meanwhile, looked at the 49 most-cited clinical research studies published between 1990 and 2003. Most of these were the culmination of years of careful work. Nevertheless, more than 40 percent of them were later shown to be either totally wrong or significantly incorrect."

If science was really failing us, I don't see how we would have managed to retract those incorrect studies. It feels like the writer had no bigger point than "biomedical research is hard, let's go shopping." It's sensationalist to consider science a failure every time it makes a mistake.

I thought the Hume references were pretty bad, too. If you read what he says, he questions the existence of relations such as "A causes B" and prefers to phrase them as, "In the past, we have observed A-like events are always correlated with B-like events." For practical purposes, that's enough to behave as if causality "really" exists. You just have to avoid mixing up causality with mere correlation, which every good scientist already knows.

blix 2 hours ago 2 replies      
This article misses the mark completely, both by extrapolating medicine to science as a whole, and by attacking the idea of causation rather than the sketchy practices of medicine.

All of the examples are pulled from medicine, notorious for its lack of experimental rigor. To say that "Science has failed us" implies that either medicine is the the only important science or that all science is equally as sloppy, which is pretty insulting to a scientist in any harder field.

His focus on causation is even more misguided. The very purpose of science is to understand the way the world works; to understand what causes what. To attack the idea of causation is to attack the very idea of science, and in turn all of the advances it's brought about over the past 300 years. Beyond that, we implicitly accept causation in almost every aspect of our lives (Pressing the space bar causes a space to appear, etc). Certainly causes can't be 'seen' like facts, but to suggest that this trivializes them, or somehow makes them less useful is nonsense (and, for what it's worth, is total misreading of Hume).

Complexity isn't a valid reason either. Some very well understood systems are incredibly complex (look at the computer you are using now). What is true is that like all other humans, scientists make mistakes. We often make the incorrect causal links or are influenced by our biases. This is why experiments exist (instead of pure data collection); to make sure the causes we have assumed are correct. To point to a couple of experiments with an unexpected result and then say that all of science has failed isn't even a little bit right.

thesash 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I find this article troubling for two reasons: it fails to back up with evidence some of its boldest claims, and it suffers from the same problems presented by it's own argument.

Claims like this one:

> "First, all of the easy causes have been found, which means that scientists are now forced to search for ever-subtler correlations, mining that mountain of facts for the tiniest of associations."

May be true, but the author presents no evidence to support them, with relevant studies, articles, etc..

The second, much more troubling problem however, is that the argument suffers fromt the very problem it presents! The author's conclusion that the returns on scientific research are diminishing due to an inherent flaw in conclusions being drawn from correlations-- is itself a correlation. He's correlating the increasing cost of research to the increasing difficulty of finding new correlations in the data.

There are other, simpler, less circular and philosophical explanations for why the returns on pharmaceutical research have decreased, such as increasingly strict regulations and fear of risk on the part of regulatory organizations. See this TED talk, where Juan Enriquez talks about these issues: http://www.tedmed.com/videos-info?name=Juan_Enriquez_at_TEDM...

pnathan 3 hours ago 0 replies      
That's one of the best Wired articles I've read in a long time. I recommend reading it.
marshray 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I was helping do data analysis at a spine surgery clinic in the 90s. I remember when that healthy-person MRI disc study came out. It was interesting, but I don't think it slowed us down one bit. :-)
polychrome 2 hours ago 0 replies      
This article does a great job of pointing out how science has limited it's thinking. It's not that science is wrong or is going to perish, it's simply needs to open it's perspective more.

Take for example the first time you came up with a cool new product. You took it to a VC/someone who's done it before, and they ask you about your market, price, revenue etc. Science is still creating cool new products, not paying attention to everything else around it.

Here's another good example: wind farms. We've been creating massive new wind mills that are more efficient bigger, etc etc. Have we ever looked at how to install them in such a fashion that they become more efficient as a team rather than an individual? And have we looked at how wind patterns change because of them?

Trey-Jackson 2 hours ago 0 replies      

Way too long, meandering, full of anecdotes.

How is it at all surprising that trying to "fix" problems with the body is uber-complicated?

Plus, there's the obvious missing bigger point - all these companies are trying to find a solution that is a pill, as opposed to changing the underlying problem: bad food, bad environment, bad physical conditioning, etc. Billions spent on finding pills, very little money in solving the root causes...

Sharing Scheduler App Buffer Raises $400,000, Gets Kicked Out Of US techcrunch.com
18 points by joelg87  2 hours ago   4 comments top 3
philco 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
Hopefully I'm not giving anything confidential away, but the answer is pretty straightforward:

Buffer was able to prove that they can convert x% of their users to a paid service, with a very viral, rapidly growing user base.

They proved that they could build something people wanted, get people to pay for it, and market it in such a way that it grows virally (keeping their costs low).

As an investor, that would be music to my ears - their burn rate is likely to be completely covered by the CURRENT revenues, and the rest is gravy. They have all the time in the world to figure out what additional services people want layered on top of their social media, and have proven that their team can both build and market their new ideas.

fennecfoxen 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I for one am ashamed that my country has mistreated them.
robkwok 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Congrats guys! Sorry to see you go :(
37signals doesn't like you sorting stuff. Are you just remaking a spreadsheet? n8.tumblr.com
117 points by nate  8 hours ago   47 comments top 18
naner 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I love sorting and filtering.

When I'm looking for something, I often remember where it is by different criteria (date last visited, date saved, keywords, frequency of use, numerically, alphabetically, etc) so I get frustrated when my options are limited. But I do understand why designers want to do without.

I hate even more when things are sorted badly. For a long time Google Bookmarks were sorted alphabetically by default. Every single time I went looking for an old bookmark, I'd navigate to the Google bookmarks page and then I'd have to click on 'Date' and then on 'Bookmarks'. (Random tweets and other nonsense was included with my bookmarks by default, too. You had to choose 'Bookmarks' to view only your bookmarks.) 99.9999% of the time you're looking for a recent bookmark, not one that begins with a zero or 'a'.

To this day I'm baffled as to what confusion of ideas lead to that interface. They fixed this in the December 19th update/redesign but I'm sure it persisted for at least a couple of years.

dogas 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I think the author is missing the point. Some data just looks and acts beautifully in tabular / spreadsheet form, and if you have an app where that is the case, then by all means, use a tabular layout.

Does that mean you are just remaking a spreadsheet? Cmon. No. There is all sorts of added value for using a webapp that has a tabular data view. Maybe it's nicer to use. Maybe it comes with choices pre-filled out for you for certain columns. Maybe you provide user/team visibility, or sharing, or all sorts of other stuff that a simple spreadsheet could never provide standalone.

The point is, don't shoot yourself in the foot because 37signals forgot to put a tabular view of their data in. That means nothing. You should be thinking -- does a tabular view add value to your app? Yes? Great, then provide a tabular view for your users.

pinaceae 7 hours ago 4 replies      
ha, I would wager that there is a simpler reason: sortable tables in HTML are nearly impossible to implement.

once you have a lot of data, you want fixed column headers. stacked sorting (column A first, then B), a lot of things suddenly become needed additions.

and where do you sort? front end or back end? how much data are processing?

just look at google spreadsheets and you'll see how sub-optimal it is.

tomkarlo 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Sorting in a paged list (as seen on most web pages) isn't very useful unless you intend to page through the whole list. If you're only going to look at one page, you're probably better off with a search for the attribute(s) you're looking for rather than trying to find a sort that puts those results up top.

Developers love to put in sort controls because they cover lots of use cases and don't take a lot of thought to implement. And mentally, they tend to think about sorting a lot anyway. But my experience with looking at data from non-developer users has always been that they rarely use sort options when available (and search filters, either, btw. ) You see about 5% of users employing those controls.

So the developers think they've solved certain use cases by providing sorting, and users don't see those cases as covered, because they don't see that they can use sort to solve them. It's better to just not put in sort, reduce complexity and find other ways to cover those cases that users are more likely to employ.

yesimahuman 7 hours ago 0 replies      
It's hard to say why the other applications don't have sorting, but I think it's a stretch to think there is some design genius behind it. It could be for pretty mundane reasons.

I agree you don't have to reimplement spreadsheet features, but make sure you have a CSV dump if you think your users would appreciate that.

phzbOx 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I remember a place where I worked where they'd show users a big table with dozen of statistical numbers and percents everywhere. I kept saying to just show one number (The relevent %) because users didn't care about all these numbers. In fact, it'd make everything harder to understand.

But, "the leay way says to do something and iterate based on feedback" they said. So, a couple of months and iterations later, it was all redesigned with a single number: the important percent.

A trick to help focus on the important stuff is to ask: "If I ask a user that doesn't care at all about my product and is extremely busy, what should I show to make it interesting (Or convenient)?"

nknight 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Providing obvious, useful functionality has no more relationship to the concept of a cargo cult than providing a cup holder in a car.

Don't deny your users the 80% (more like 99%) case just because there's a complicated tool out there that, with a bunch of bloat and UX problems, can also provide the 20% (1%) case.

RyanMcGreal 7 hours ago 1 reply      
> Why wouldn't a user just use a spreadsheet then?

Spreadsheets are hard to share and hard to version-control, and the data is cumbersome to access programmatically.

bakhlawa 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This may just be a case of giving credit where none was necessarily due. The absence of sort may just be a victim of 37signal's own design philosophy of only including features that users want and repeatedly request thus causing them to float to the top of the queue. In the grand scheme of things, High Rise and Base Camp users probably have other more pressing feature requests / complaints that they would rather get implemented pronto.
_delirium 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Some of the stuff they do isn't that far from sorting. The screenshot where you can filter to "last 7 days", "last 30 days", etc. is a discretized alternative to sorting by age that then doesn't sort within the discrete buckets. May or may not be a better UI; depends on what people use it for and what people would've used sorting-by-age for.
sunchild 7 hours ago 3 replies      
In my opinion, Google put the search vs. sort debate to rest a long time ago. For large, multifaceted datasets, search with faceted filters is almost always the right approach (again IMO).
nabilt 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm developing an electronic parts inventory web app because I needed a better way catalog, order and share parts. I couldn't think of a better way than a spreadsheet to display the dozens of parts a user might have. Each part has an ID from the schematic, name, value and description which are displayed using a dojo data grid (Very happy with dojo grid btw). The rest of the attributes are hidden until the user needs them. There is a lot of data and comparisons being done and spreadsheets, it seems, were my only choice. The electronics industry hasn't solved this either. Take a look how ugly and overwhelming the product search is from Digikey, Mouser or Newark.
asktell 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This post highlights the difficulty in making data accessible in a "traditional" web app. One of the most intuitive interfaces for accessing and manipulating tubular data is the spreadsheet, but very few web apps look or behave like a spreadsheet.

I would argue that there is an inherent friction between usability and accessibility of information. Adding options to sort, filter, search, or selectively show or hide fields might make data more accessible but result in reduced usability overall. The exact point where the tradeoff happens isn't clear to me, but 37signals tends to err on the side of usability, at the expense of accessibility. Of course, one could argue that in a data-intensive app, accessibility _is_ usability, and vice versa.

smackfu 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Sorting is useful when order is more relevant than the exact results. Many sites just throw away this use case, because it's inconvenient.
polychrome 4 hours ago 0 replies      
You've made some good points.

I don't know how complex your data set is, so just remember that if you have an extremely complex set of data, give me the user a way to find something based on different criteria. If an item has a date, a number, attachments, etc give me a way to sort through them so that when I kinda know what I'm looking for I can find it.

endeavor 6 hours ago 0 replies      
37signals is pretty dogmatic about their design: what features _37signals_ believes their products should and shouldn't have. Just because they don't have the feature doesn't mean lots of users don't want it.

Furthermore, sorting large data sets is a huge performance challenge. I think that's the main reason why you don't see it in Gmail. Not because sorting is not desired.

petejansson 7 hours ago 2 replies      
It's a really good idea to question the fundamentals of presentation. People, however, are really good at looking at tables and detecting patterns (at least, according to Tufte), and, since we're unlikely to anticipate all the ways people will use data, it's a good idea to make sure that, in addition to the good ideas we come up with, we give users options to muck with data to their heart's content.
mycodebreaks 6 hours ago 0 replies      
is this what's called minimalist design?
Notch's New Game - Minicraft (And An Android Port) gun.io
65 points by Mizza  5 hours ago   24 comments top 7
mrspeaker 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The livestream was awesome again too - it's up here: http://www.twitch.tv/notch/b/302823358

Though I made the dreadful mistake of watching it with comments on: http://www.mrspeaker.net/2011/12/20/troll-at-notch/

dminor 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been working on an Android game that I envision as a mashup of Zelda and Minecraft, so it's pretty entertaining to see Notch whip out a pretty similar idea over a single weekend.
Mizza 5 hours ago 0 replies      
There's already a little community forming around the game, which is neat. They've got a wiki: http://minicraft.wikia.com/wiki/Minicraft_Wiki
andrewcanis 2 hours ago 0 replies      
It's actually very easy to hack the code. I've created a "God-mode" version that you can play on github:
tibbon 5 hours ago 2 replies      
What's the license on Minicraft? Or in spite of particular license, is Notch pretty much giving the thumbs up on porting anyway?
hackermom 3 hours ago 1 reply      
When I see this I don't think of Minecraft, I think of Realm of the Mad God - http://www.realmofthemadgod.com/
joelackner 3 hours ago 1 reply      
i'm not a programmer. how do i build his source in eclipse? the closest i get is this and i'm stumped: http://i41.tinypic.com/opxrna.png
A Stupid Idea, 1 Year After Launching on HN idonethis.com
102 points by rguzman  7 hours ago   36 comments top 11
nathanbarry 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I built an iPhone app called Commit that tackles this very problem. It is in the review process right now and should be released in the next couple of days.

You can read a bit about it here: http://nathanbarry.com/a-little-bit-each-day/

jc4p 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Congrats, looks very interesting! It's even something I would recommend that my mom start using since it's so easy to get started.

Who else signed up just to see how they were sending out e-mails? What steps are you taking to make sure o1.email.idonethis.com goes past Hotmail/Yahoo's spam filters that are notoriously deadly?

aymeric 6 hours ago 1 reply      
How do you plan to monetize iDoneThis?
LeonW 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Wow, this is an amazing story guys. Especially the part on how you hit 152 users on the first day with Hn, just gives to show how powerful the platform is.

Anyone else got a story on how HN helped them launch their startup?

auston 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I've been following the iDoneThis story since before it was iDoneThis. Walter (one of the co-founders) is scrappy & I don't doubt he will find success!
Zuzz 5 hours ago 1 reply      
don't get me wrong, it's great and all but... 1 year later, full-time gig, and what about money?
abcd_f 4 hours ago 1 reply      
So I would guess you guys have few thousand user accounts? How many stay active after a week if you don't mind me asking?
matthewj 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice. Really curious how you will monetize it and continue to grow it further.
pardner 6 hours ago 1 reply      
So... next you'll add Twilio support so people can do it by SMS, right?
leslyn 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Congrats on the success!! It's inspiring to see what might be looked on as a 'stupid idea' to turn out "not so stupid"!
lcs 6 hours ago 1 reply      
+1 for iDoneThis and congrats. I've been using it for the past 4 weeks and enjoying it.
The 19 Awesome Investors In Our $400,000 Seed Round And How We Met Them bufferapp.com
16 points by LeonW  2 hours ago   discuss
Audio synthesis / processing in JavaScript audiolibjs.org
21 points by quinnirill  3 hours ago   6 comments top 2
rsiqueira 47 minutes ago 0 replies      
I wrote an interactive demo to create sound waves (FM Synthesis) using JavaScript. Now I will try this audiolibjs to make it better and add effects. I was creating effects from the scratch (using rand to produce white noise, etc):
(Click each "Interesting Sound and Waves" to see each effect. Graphics/waves are created using Processing.JS)
aaronblohowiak 2 hours ago 1 reply      
This is interesting, but it seems like they are processing/producing a single sample at a time (though some effects seem to be buffer-based.) While convenient, it is a very, very inefficient way of doing things.
You knew the old Mozilla, meet the new Mozilla ascher.ca
62 points by tbassetto  6 hours ago   11 comments top 2
Udo 4 hours ago 2 replies      
This is entirely the wrong priority.

  I've been speaking to app & website developers about BrowserID 
and Apps for a few weeks, and the feedback has been great â€"
webdevs & entrepreneurs are very aware of the dangers of relying
on Facebook, Google, or Apple as the bridges to distribution or users.

I think the dangers of "relying on Facebook" et al are thoroughly outweighed by the effects of those entities taking the web hostage, transforming it into an oligarchy with inappropriate influence on the government as well as the daily web surfing activities of their users.

What we need from you, Mozilla, is not "a better way to sign in", or better support for whatever your vision of a web app store is. We need Web Intents (http://webintents.org/), or your iteration of it. We need you to create a kick-ass UI for this. We need you to help take back the web before it succumbs to mega corporations entirely. Please, Mozilla, have the foresight to recognize what's really at stake here.

melling 2 hours ago 3 replies      
I've seen announcements for Firefox 9 all day. However, when I go to the website I only see 8.


Sony sued over PSN "can't sue us" clause geek.com
136 points by ukdm  9 hours ago   56 comments top 14
georgemcbay 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Xbox 360's latest dashboard update has a revised TOS that includes a very similar clause.

I'm a big fan of the Xbox 360, but I wouldn't mind seeing Microsoft get hit by this as well.

As much as I like the Xbox 360 and Xbox Live products, I hate this increasing practice of revising the TOS as part of an update which, because of the design of the system, is essentially a required update unless you want to turn the product you already own into a brick (game updates often require the latest system updates to be present, playing games online require the latest game updates, basically you either have to update or the system quickly becomes totally useless, and you can't update without "agreeing" to the new terms).

johngalt 8 hours ago 1 reply      
General Motors finds flaw in one of their engine designs putting millions at risk. It responds by requiring all drivers to waive their right to sue, or they will send an engine kill signal through onstar.
billybob 9 hours ago 7 replies      
I have a small fantasy of somehow forcing a company to agree to MY terms and conditions.

"By accepting this payment, you agree that..."

roc 4 hours ago 1 reply      
It looks to me like Sony is being sued, not over the clause itself, but in their application of it and the circumstances surrounding it.

That is, that it was patched in, bolted on toward the bottom of an agreement that is difficult to even read on a console, that the opt-out method is unnecessarily cumbersome, and that opting-out would take away an advertised feature of the purchased hardware with no recourse.

Because the more general question of "is this clause even legal?" was famously settled not all that long ago by the SCOTUS in the AT&T Mobility case.


wvenable 9 hours ago 6 replies      
It shouldn't even be legal to be able to give up your right to sue.
nextparadigms 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Sony should win the "most suicidal company of the year" award.
rayiner 6 hours ago 0 replies      
It's not exactly a "you can't sue us" clause, but more like a "you agree to arbitration" clause. Courts will generally not construe such clauses to prevent suit in situations like if your XBox explodes and injures you, but thanks to the good old boys in Congress (fueled by conjured fears of frivolous litigation) and the laws they've passed endorsing arbitration rather than litigation, courts give more effect to such clauses than they otherwise would.
Natsu 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is why I don't buy Sony products. I just bought a new TV two days ago, rejecting a Sony TV. I have no regrets; I found a better TV after a little more looking. Sony has lost thousands of dollars from me alone due to crap like this.
finnw 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I wonder if anyone has tried returning an electronic device to a retailer (could be a console, but also a printer or scanner) claiming it was unfit for its purpose, on the grounds that it would not work without drivers but the customer was unwilling to accept the EULA required to install the drivers.
richardburton 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I have never understood those clauses in contracts that force any settlements to go straight to administration. How is that legally possible?
nik_0_0 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe I'm incorrect, but I recall reading (when Sony first implemented this clause) that Sony was only doing so because there was another company that provided a similar case in court, and won, and therefore they had precedent, etc. In that case it also explains why Microsoft also is able to introduce it, that being when something like this happens, they are able to refer to the original court case. I'm interested to see how this turns out.
kermitthehermit 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I simply adore the irony of this.

It's not like it wasn't expected. You can't just expect people to sit back and accept this.

I hope they are forced to remove the "no sue" clause for good.

fosk 9 hours ago 1 reply      
It is ridiculous that a company like Sony, can't guarantee the minimum effort into delivering a secure product to its customers.
My opinion is that it's not important if the clause will stay or not, because the reputational damage for only trying to introduce it, it's a complete failure for them for one simple reason: it's dishonest.

Sony, Microsoft, EA, etc. stop abusing our patience and please deliver a great, secure, product like it's meant to be.

minikomi 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Godel, Escher, Sony?
Good news: Mozilla fixed their damn browser jasonlefkowitz.net
146 points by smacktoward  10 hours ago   33 comments top 6
jmillikin 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Not to discount the work that Mozilla has been doing, but it seems like the "improvement" they added is actually just a workaround for distros that configure filesystems incorrectly.

That is, his machine is configured to use an obsolete filesystem (ext3) in a mode with significant performance problems (data=ordered).

There are numerous ways that a machine can be mis-configured such that it suffers from poor performance. It would be better if Firefox detected these and warned about them, rather than just silently working around the broken-ness.

noelwelsh 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I've been running Aurora for a few months. It's been stable and gets the new toys quicker. Some add-ons break on some updates, but the few web dev. add-ons I use are always quick to update. I get questionnaires from time to time, but they don't take long to complete and are a trivial way to contribute to Mozilla. In short, give Aurora a try. It works as my full-time browser.
sciurus 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Can anyone point to the bugzilla entries for the fixes?
joejohnson 6 hours ago 1 reply      
What are people's overall impressions of Firefox 9?
redmethod 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Even with fixes, most people seem to be switching to Chrome. It's hard to beat Google's integration
rhizome 8 hours ago 0 replies      
It would be more accurate to say "is (probably) fixing," possibly with an (on Linux) suffix.
The Secret History of Kim Jung Il -- written by one of his high school teachers foreignpolicy.com
542 points by cynest  20 hours ago   136 comments top 17
vnorby 18 hours ago 5 replies      
"Even today, long after becoming the sole supreme leader of North Korea, Kim refuses to allow graduates of the Namsan School in his inner circle. After all, those who have known Kim Jong Il since youth are bound to see him as human -- not the center of a god-like cult of personality."

In the new Steve Jobs biography, Walter Isaacson quotes Steve on why he didn't let his parents come to his school's campus: "I didn't want anyone to know I had parents. I wanted to be like an orphan who had bummed around the country on trains and just arrived out of nowhere, with no roots, no connections, no background."

Interesting how powerful people manipulate the story of how they got to be where they are. Speaking of which, I was raised by wolves.

findm 12 hours ago 3 replies      
I found the article to be an interesting read but I wish that someone could talk about the psychology, history behind why the country became that way instead of just finger pointing on how terrible the conditions were. While its difficult to feel any empathy towards a manipulative, despotic, authoritarian regime, I also think that most westerners misunderstand and underestimate the people and their situation.

The NK brand of communism is just a thin veil for the old dynastic feudal caste society that Korea traditionally was. This is just how the country was for over 2 millennia. The north, especially due to its easily defensible mountainous terrain, has always played a pivotal role in keeping larger more powerful threats from absorbing the whole. Considering its history it sheds some light into understanding their extreme xenophobia.

Westerners always raise the question, why don't the people rise up against the injustice? This is a culture steeped in confucianism, the patriarch is supreme and group cohesion and harmony is of higher importance than the needs of an individual. Even linguistically, social order is embedded into the language with many different levels of honorifics for different rank and class.

A little off-topic but just my 2 cents.

The Caste System:

michaelbuckbee 17 hours ago 3 replies      
If you found this at all interesting, I would highly recommend watching the Vice Guide to North Korea - http://www.vice.com/the-vice-guide-to-travel/vice-guide-to-n...
irahul 12 hours ago 3 replies      
That's an interesting and a well-written story. But yet, I find his "I pray for Kim Jong", "I don't want him to meet a tragic end" et al. a bit strange.

I don't know, it seems like denial and rationalization. A dictator got his family killed(possibly tortured before killing them), there is nothing he can do about it, so he is trying to find solace by believing he doesn't want Kim Jong Il hurt; and to justify why he thinks so, he is imagining good and innocence, when none exists.

He is well aware of things Kim Jong Il did to his family and common masses, and yet he is trying to imagine good in him - I can't find a rational explanation for his line of reasoning.

ck2 16 hours ago 0 replies      
That guy strikes me as "Bridge on the River Kwai" - happens to be rarely well educated in a crippling environment and knows the "leader" is not a good person but to hell with that he is going to do his job as good as possible even if it means his own destruction and furtherment of the enemy standing right in front of him.

Evil dictators are evil - so are all the people that do their little part to help him because they cannot find anything wrong with doing their little job as best they can.

But so is a mindless military in ANY country who sign on to take directions to kill other people at the behest of a single leader that they aren't supposed to question.

refurb 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Here is a (long) story about an American who lived in SK who got a chance to go to NK. It's an incredible read and well worth the time. His interactions with NK citizens and his gov't minder are really eye opening.


I don't know about you guys, but reading his story is really sad. It's like a whole country, with limitless human potential, is developmentally frozen.

jrubinovitz 20 hours ago 2 replies      
As a computer science student, I don't really have time to read as much material unrelated to Computer Science as I would like, so this was quite a treat. Thanks for bravely humanizing Kim Jung Il and North Korea, and reminding us why we need to change the world, Mr. Kim Hyun Sik (author).
fufulabs 19 hours ago  replies      
It boggles my mind how little anyone, inside or outside, has done to change North Korea.

Maybe i am just ignorant of how difficult it is or the attempts done.

yogrish 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Touching story. But,author never mentioned why he changed so much and became ruthless...not even sparing his teachers family.
drumdance 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I found this graphic novel by a French cartoonist who worked in North Korea to be fascinating:


bitops 19 hours ago 1 reply      
rrrazdan 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Its a political post so my politically loaded question should be forgiven. Wouldn't it have been acceptable, if United States had liberated North Korea instead of Iraq?
mattparlane 19 hours ago 4 replies      
little hint:

javascript:$('body').css('margin', '0 200px');

SystemOut 18 hours ago 0 replies      
Could someone edit the link and remove the "print" query parameter? It's pretty annoying that the page pops up the print option on chrome upon loading.
rokhayakebe 19 hours ago 5 replies      
You have to wonder. Millions of people living under the dictatorship of one man ( with the help of a few dozens leaders). I feel terrible for the young women, and kids. However the rest of the population can get up and fight. Hundreds of thousands will die, but someone has to be willing to die for the sake of the liberty of others.
harryf 18 hours ago 4 replies      
Much as it's a fascinating story my BS alarm is flashing. Is there anyone at Georg Mason University who can confirm Professor Kim Hyun Sik actually exists?
My Ultimate Developer and Power Users Tool List for Mac OS X (2011 Edition) carpeaqua.com
131 points by rograndom  9 hours ago   69 comments top 30
Pewpewarrows 8 hours ago 4 replies      
A decent starter list, but definitely not complete (for me at least). I'd add the following

* TotalFinder (makes the OS X finder not terrible anymore, tabs, etc)

* HandsOff/LittleSnitch (oh, you're just using the built-in firewall? that's cute.)

* Transmit (everything you could ever want in an FTP app)

* CommandQ (W and Q are way too close together)

* Mou (free alternative to Byword)

* Evernote (note-taking that syncs absolutely everywhere)

* Alfred (modern day Quicksilver)

* Growl (notify me of all the things!)

* AppCleaner (good for finding the random left-behind files)

* ClipMenu (clipboard history and saved text snippets all in one)

* f.lux (less eyestrain for marathon coding sessions)

* GasMask (easy hosts file changing)

* GrabBox (automatically saves screenshots to my DropBox public folder and copies the URL to my clipboard? YES PLEASE. replaces the need for CloudApp, etc.)

* Sublime Text 2 (cross-platform and modern TextMate/BBEdit/Vim all rolled into one amazing editor)

* SourceTree (good and free Git/hg front-end)

* Witch (finally a better Cmd-Tab)

* Moom (window tiling and profiles galore)

* Hyperdock (dock previews and drag-to-edge window resizing)

* Prey (stolen goods tracking)

* Textual (IRC)

* Adium (chats)

In terms of my actual command-line environment:

* iTerm2

* Homebrew

* (way too many individual commands to list here)

Also Chrome/FF extensions can get you some really great paid native app replacements, like RestConsole (no more need for Http Clients).

ary 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Given my personal experience I have to warn people away from HTTP Client. It is bug-ridden and broken. Many of the UI elements break in weird ways during normal use. I had to quit and re-run the application many times just to bring it back to a usable state (only to have it break again immediately).

Spend your money on Rested instead. I don't quite understand the OP's assertion that "RESTed is a little bit more complex than HTTP Client." Considering Rested actually works I'd consider it a lot more simple than HTTP Client.

Edit: To be clear, I am in no way connected with the author of Rested. I'm just a very satisfied customer.

r00fus 3 hours ago 0 replies      
One tool that was indispensable for MySQL viewing editing:
Sequel Pro [1]. I found it much more intuitive than Querious and it's free.

[1] http://www.sequelpro.com/

jz 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I am genuinely surprised at how much others spend on software. I started totaling up his list (excluding monthly services like dropbox) and stopped when I reached $500, which was right around Cornerstone.
makmanalp 8 hours ago 1 reply      
If Terminal.app feels like plastic scissors, you can try iterm2. It beats the crap out of Terminal in terms of configurability.



gatlin 7 hours ago 0 replies      
My hardware is a brand new 13" MBA with an old monitor, comfort curve keyboard, bose notebook speakers, and the magic trackpad.

For software, homebrew and perlbrew are essential. vim and tmux are how I do everything related to my job.

Adium is for OTR and annoying scripts I've written[1]. Chrome for the being Chrome. I use dropbox like an addict, too.

I tend to script everything I need with Perl, including mechanized tests and creating quick REST APIs[2]. Being able to use v5.14 in place of whatever comes natively is a nice touch.

Homebrew brings in git, tmux, haskell, racket, go, and redis.

Combinations of these tools let me do pretty much what these other lists allow but I probably haven't had the most elegant experience, either.

[1]: http://www.adiumxtras.com/index.php?a=xtras&xtra_id=4187
[2]: https://metacpan.org/module/Test::WWW::Mechanize

Derbasti 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Emacs. 'Nuff said.

Just kidding. Actually MacVim, too.

The current gen i7 MacBook Pro is an insanely great machine.

- I pretty much can not work without VMWare Fusion.

- Tower for git, Cornerstone for svn

- Sparrow, for I want a second mail client beside Mail.app that does not suck

- TextExpander is pretty useful

- Pixelmator. It's enough for what I need to do.

- Reeder, my favourite RSS client

- The Unarchiver, in case anyone did not know that one

- Spotify

- Outbank, for European bank accounts

- Transmit. Awesome FTP client.

8ig8 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I appreciate this list, but I do wish the author would have linked to the software websites instead of to the app store. On the iPad, these app store links are useless.

(As a side note, why can't these links be a little more intelligent? If they know I'm using an iPad, why not redirect to a better fallback?)

davepeck 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Hey neat, my app https://GetCloak.com/ made it into the list. And we're still beta -- though v1.0 is coming quite soon.


ernestipark 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I would highly endorse Slate (https://github.com/jigish/slate), a free, open source, awesomely configurable window manager for OS X. Also Vimium (http://vimium.github.com/) for browsing the web is incredible. It's made browsing much faster and more enjoyable. Both were developed by former co-workers of mine.
miles_matthias 7 hours ago 0 replies      
In my opinion Mac OS X is already pretty great and I don't need to add very many things. Focusing on all of the different apps and tools we use seems like a dangerous rabbit hole.

I recently had to re-install Lion on my MacBook Air - here's what I installed after: http://milesmatthias.tumblr.com/post/14366026639/i-re-instal...

peteforde 5 hours ago 1 reply      
RCDefaultApp: can't you just set the default app in the info popup for any filetype?

PDFpenPro: Preview can save your signature and add it to a PDF for you

JonnieCache 8 hours ago 1 reply      
Springy. http://www.springyarchiver.com/

An archiver for OS X that actually works the way you expect, by opening a window to let you look inside and selectively extract from archives, rather than just spurting files all over the place unbidden like the built in one and all the other replacement ones seem to do.

For some reason it took me ages to find this when I switched to mac. Drove me mad.

kennywinker 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I haven't used Appfigures, because I was turned off by my sales figures being stored online, but [AppViz 2](http://www.ideaswarm.com/AppViz2.html) is a really great app and I can't recommend it enough. Beautiful graphs, intuitive app, good customer support. etc. etc. AAA+++ would use for iTunes Connect stats again.
krobertson 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Don't know if the author of the post knows it is on HN, and his blog doesn't do comments...

He talks about might wanting a different diff tool than Changes. Might recommend Kaleidoscope (http://www.kaleidoscopeapp.com/). I like it, however the one thing that I do hate about it is the lack of a directory compare feature. It can only compare two files together.

to3m 6 hours ago 1 reply      
If we're making our own lists, here's some that others haven't mentioned:

* Jumpcut - http://jumpcut.sourceforge.net/ - simple and unintrusive clipboard history

* dterm - http://decimus.net/DTerm - popup terminal

* bwana - http://www.bruji.com/bwana/ - man pages in your browser

* Grand Perspective - http://grandperspectiv.sourceforge.net/ - disk usage program

philwelch 2 hours ago 0 replies      
DTerm is great for when you want a quick shell prompt but don't want to have to switch to Terminal.
maximilian 7 hours ago 0 replies      
> There is absolutely no reason for me to have 16GB of RAM other than to brag about the fact that I have such a ridiculous amount of memory.

16GB in a desktop really isn't that ridiculous especially as a developer that might run VMs. In a non-mac with 4 ram slots, its <$100, which is very attainable. He is running an iMac with only 2 slots, making the RAM more like $250, but for a developer, this still isn't that much.

kittxkat 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice list, thanks for sharing!

OT: is LaunchBar/Alfred really that better than Quicksilver? Has been some time since I last touched a Mac, but I was totally amazed by the magic that was Quicksilver.

jmjerlecki 7 hours ago 0 replies      
One of my faves on the list: http://panic.com/~wade/picker/

Nice time saver

codenerdz 3 hours ago 0 replies      
First things I install on a new mac are:

* TotalTerminal -- a quake-like CMD-~ terminal extension

* RightZoom -- CMD-Shift-Q for maximizing the window to current screen

thurn 8 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm surprised to not see Quicksilver on a list like this. It's definitely the tool that keeps me coming back to OSX. Most of the "replacements" for it on other platforms (and on OSX) implement very few of its power-user features.
PStamatiou 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I posted a "Stuff i use" comment some time ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1881098
jc4p 6 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd love to get a compare/contrast between Cornerstone which the article mentions and Versions:


I sadly still have to use SVN for some things and have been using Versions for quite some time now. What does Cornerstone do that Versions can't do?

woebtz 4 hours ago 0 replies      
As hard as I try, I can't seem to get used to the prettier Finder replacements.

Some additions:

  * MuCommander (Norton Commander-style file manager)
* ShiftIt (window management/"Aero Snap"/Moom alternative)
* Isolator (widow focus indicator)
* SecondBar (menu bar for your second monitor)
* KeyRemap4Macbook/PCKeyboard Hack (remap keys, capslock=command, etc.)
* BetterTouchTool (trackpad gestures, middle click!)

larrik 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I was really hoping to see a fix for OS X's mouse acceleration. It's annoying when using the OS, and completely broken when I fire up StarCraft or something else that requires fast and precise mouse movements.

(I'm using a Microsoft mouse on a Mac Mini)

pygorex 6 hours ago 0 replies      
* Teamviewer. Cross platform remoting: http://teamviewer.com/ I use it for support sessions and remote pair programming.

* Parallels. VM. Use it primarily for testing web apps in older versions of IE.

* Netbeans. Great search tools (search in files, search for classes, functions).

dataphyte 7 hours ago 0 replies      
* calibre - ebook management and conversion
rabenfrass 5 hours ago 0 replies      
SteerMouse + Logitech mouse of your choice.
super_mario 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Childish list for people who haven't learned to use the command line.

Boot up Mac, install XCode to get gcc/clang etc, and install MacVim, but you don't have to, vim is there out of the box. Install perhaps additional tools like lynx, pgrep, pfind, ncat, ngrep, nmap, wget, seq (some are included in Lion but I don't use Lion) etc and you got standard UNIX toolchain to build everything, from "hello world" to world's most complex multi-million line applications.

My Career Advice: Make Yourself Redundant ousbey.com
87 points by Roedou  8 hours ago   20 comments top 12
danso 7 hours ago 1 reply      
> "A VBA macro could do this", I said. It took me about as long to write the program as it would to have just calculated the royalties - it saved no time. However, next quarter it saved weeks of time. And the quarter after. Even the external consultant didn't mind that she wasn't needed for this process; we used the same budget to hire her to do more interesting work instead. And the time it freed up for me? I began producing my own shows. It wasn't a huge station, but there I was, still 22 and producing national radio programs with tens of thousands of listeners - all because I saw an opportunity to write a VBA script.

Inspiring advice and anecdote. The problem is that few organizations have the capacity to pivot like that...that is, the people whose work you've made redundant or easier don't get moved to different duties...because of poor management or initiative on the individual's part. If only more organizations and bureaucracies were able to see created-efficiencies as a way to re-allocate resources, rather than cut costs.

dexen 6 hours ago 1 reply      
In other words, upgrade your job in place. I like this angle much better than the you're in the business of unemploying people from a recent blogpost.† Also, the up or out‡ approach from certain companies suddenly made sense to me.


† the http://www.kalzumeus.com/2011/10/28/dont-call-yourself-a-pro...
‡ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Up_or_out#Up_or_Out

tryitnow 5 hours ago 0 replies      
The author's examples are from relatively entry to mid-tier positions, but I still think what he says holds true all the way up to the CEO level.

I've even come to think that a lot of the highest level executive activities (e.g. corporate development, strategy, etc) can be significantly improved in terms of the time required to execute.

Higher level problems are generally more abstract and certainly more politically charged, but I believe if one carries a "hacker" mentality to work every day you'll find ways to radically improve performance.

ChuckMcM 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I have always advised engineers that being the only person who understood, or could maintain, a piece of the system meant that you were stuck there. And while you might feel that was job security, in reality it limits your career.

I whole heartedly endorse the idea of figuring out ways to make your job redundant so that you can move on to other more interesting things.

mbesto 7 hours ago 1 reply      
A bit misleading...

The OP is not actually advocating making "yourself" redundant, but rather make your role (and/or subsequent functions) redundant. There are many functions in business processes today that be made redundant with technology. Typically companies hire business process experts (i.e. "consultants") to do this...but that's another story.

So maybe the OP is just suggesting to become a consultant?

klodolph 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I've met people who I thought worked very hard, people whom others relied on. I've been giving them the words, "If you're irreplaceable, you're unpromotable."
r00fus 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This kind of philosophy only works with competent management. If you (for whatever reason) can't rely on management to play an enlightened role, do not apply this approach... instead you need to (possibly leave and) find a competent manager/team first.
maeon3 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I totally agree. At every job I have worked at, whenever I make tools to eliminate my position, so that previously time consuming work is done automatically, enlightened bosses recognize that this is the best thing ever and make sure I stay happy in interesting work where I can do it again.
v21 7 hours ago 0 replies      
The thing for me isn't that you'll necessarily climb the ranks as a result of this - but that any job you can automate away is a bloody boring job to do. Even if you don't automatically take on new responsibilities as a result, your job now has less boring bits in, so it's still a win.
v21 7 hours ago 2 replies      
For an example of someone doing this all the way at the top of the corporate hierarchy, look to Ricardo Semler. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ricardo_Semler
platz 3 hours ago 0 replies      
At face value, to "make myself redundant" seems to contradict what Seth Godin advocates in his book: "Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?" [http://www.amazon.com/Linchpin-Are-Indispensable-Seth-Godin/...]

Although I think they'd both agree on the goal of always looking to do interesting work, contributing to projects like a human being instead of doing cookie-cutter work, etc.. I can't help but think they'd also have some profound differences of opinion on how to get there.

Havoc 5 hours ago 0 replies      
An important proviso is that this should only be done if you've got visibility & receive credit for the improvement. If not then management just sees another obsolete post ready for cost cutting.
63% Prefer a Dark Themed Text Editor paulrouget.com
139 points by joeybaker  11 hours ago   86 comments top 31
billybob 10 hours ago 8 replies      
I use the Solarized theme in Vim and find it's very nice: http://ethanschoonover.com/solarized

It has a dark version, which I use for coding, and which I think works better with syntax highlighting. It also has a light version, which I like for regular text editing.

Both have nice contrast, and you can toggle between the two with a single keypress.

CoffeeDregs 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I prefer white backgrounds when reading. Everything is consistent with a white background and black text, and I can scan the text quickly.

With coding, my preference is exactly the opposite (I prefer a black background). The difference is that the structure of a program is much more complicated than the structure of prose and that structure is more apparent with white/colors on a black background. Further, the colors of syntax highlighting seem to be much more apparent when displayed on a black screen rather than on white.

falcolas 10 hours ago 8 replies      
I prefer light backgrounds, for one simple reason. Less eye strain.

If the majority of the screen is light, my pupils contract, which results in less eye strain to keep everything in focus. I can use smaller fonts & maintain readability. I used to love the Zenburn color scheme, but that just doesn't work as well for me anymore.

Note - I'm not talking black on white. I'm talking dark grey (ebebeb) on light grey (0f0f0f).

shasta 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Given how opinionated the dark background folk I've met have been (possibly just because they feel ignored by common windows editors) I'd worry about selection bias in a result like this.
yesimahuman 10 hours ago 2 replies      
I love a dark color scheme, but the chrome also has to be dark. For example, I can't use dark browser themes because most websites have a white background and the contrast is difficult to deal with.
andrewcooke 10 hours ago 1 reply      
does anyone know of a simple (preferably one click) way to get eclipse or intellij idea to work with a dark theme (on linux/kde)? i use a dark kde theme and it causes chaos in eclipse (or at least used to when i last tried - black text on dark backgrounds etc), while intellij idea at least works, but uses a light theme. i'd love an ide for java/python that was easy to configure dark (yes, i have emacs working fine white on black, but that's not what i am looking for).

[edit: i just installed eclipse 3.7.1 and it picks up the general theme correctly, but the editors have dark text on dark backgrounds and i don't see any simple way to change that without changing each font setting in turn.]

bascule 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I have vitreous floaters (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floater) which are significantly more visible against a white background. This is especially annoying while programming. I've always preferred a dark background though tried switching to a white one a few years ago. Floaters made the decision for me: dark it is.
aresant 8 hours ago 1 reply      
This feels like the old Coke vs. Pepsi blind-taste challenge.

Pepsi won a majority of the time on first taste because it is instantly sweeter.

But long term people prefer the flavor and full experience of Coke.

In my experience this translates: the dark-theme instantly feels more clear and crisp.

But over time I find that the dark creates too much contrast and slows me down.

jvdh 8 hours ago 0 replies      
While I prefer a dark background, I'm in an office with sunlight coming from behind my screen. I've noticed about six months ago that I was getting headaches when using a dark editor. Since I've changed from dark to light background the headaches have gone away.
kooshball 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Son of Obsidian is currently my favorite


I do not like the contrast of Solarized (low contrast) nor monokai (super high contrast with bright pink). Son of obsidian is a good in between.

cleaver 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I suspect it has something to do with when you started using computers. In the VT-100 and MS-DOS days, you pretty much got light text on a dark background. So when GUI environments came along, dark text on a light background became the new cool thing. That's my story, so I grew to like a light background.

I'm guessing that the majority of coders today started out on Windows. Notepad is dark on light, so that became associated with the "common" user. The first peek under the hood would have been Windows command line or Linux. I could see that a dark background would feel more 'tech'.

mixmastamyk 6 hours ago 0 replies      
One size doesn't have to fit all...

The compiz negative (Super N) and brightness (Super B) plugins allow me to use bright themes when the sun is pouring in and dark themes at night when illuminated only by xmas lights. I also use a greyish theme with a redshift type program on Windows.

When reading HN or other obnoxiously bright sites at night, +Super N and kaboom, grey on black. Give it a try.

Remember that the ergonomic choice for many years was amber monochrome on black and it was quite soothing.

videoappeal 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Statistic is flawed. Most people who use the default white themes probably dont read HackerNews, dont care to optimize their setup or routine. Those that read hackernews with a woren out F5 key are likely to be heavily influenced by the dark theme propaganda (screencasts etc..) that swamp HN. Just saying.. I can draw any reasonable conclusions from your stats, or even my own devil's advocate view.. Does it matter?
buster 10 hours ago 2 replies      
For a long time now the first thing i do in a new text editor is to look for a nice dark theme.. i don't know.. it's somewhat more relaxing :)
Oblivion was probably one of the first i used in all those gtk based editors.

edit: Also, default colorschemes on terminals are dark, why is that?

rcthompson 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I would let the survey go over at least a full 24 hours. If you ask at night, you might only get responses from the nocturnal people, and same problem for asking during the day.
tvon 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I find it depends on the environment. If it's a bright room (or the sun is shining in the window) I might go to the light background, otherwise it'll probably stay dark.

Related, I always figured the dark desktop UI themes (eg, for GNOME, KDE, Windows, etc) were highly preferred by people working in dark rooms, like a studio or college dorm at 3am. Once upon a time I liked these, but since I'm less nocturnal these days I prefer lighter themes.

philwelch 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I used to actually use the red background Apple offers in one of their Terminal themes, but after combining that with vimdiff my coworker described the effect as "psychedelic overload".
kreek 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I use both, I think it came out of not being able to edit eclipse's themes easily. So static languages I code in light themes and dynamic I go to the dark side. I've converting to one or the other but I think it helps with the mental mode switching, light theme ok I'm in static land.
joshaidan 11 hours ago 4 replies      
I remember having a discussion about this with a buddy who noticed I used a dark themed editor. He cited some study, I don't know exactly what study it was, that said our brains work better looking at a white background. (Perhaps more neurons fire or something like that)

What do you think about this? Do you feel you work better with a black background, or do you just use one because it's more cool/retro looking than a white background?

bitsoda 10 hours ago 1 reply      
You can take my life, but you can never take away my Monokai.


tikhonj 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I don't know about other operating systems, but Firefox respects KDE's system colors. Unless this new addition randomly breaks the trend, I'll be able to have the editor in a color scheme of my choice immediately.
elektronaut 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I prefer a dark background in my text editor, but I think that would look out of place when integrated with the browser chrome. Going with a light theme is probably a good default.
roestava 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I prefer white backgrounds out of habit. So my terminal is white, text editor is white, browser is white, Linux desktop theme is brighter...

I must say that other users may well like it the other way, because when I used to browse for GTK themes on the http://gnome-look.org/ site, many of the new themes were cooler when they were darker...

BTW, I just found out the http://gnome-look.org/ itself is whiter and brighter. Oh the joy! Cheers.

pspeter3 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I use the tomorrow theme with gedit https://github.com/ChrisKempson/Tomorrow-Theme
thom 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Light theme on a glossy screen, dark on a matte one.
MaysonL 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I decided we need a definitive HN poll, so see:


bnegreve 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Your result image does not work for me (ff, gnu/linux debian stable)
richardg 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Been using the Dark scheme on Komodo Edit. Its easier on the eyes and is a big factor especially if you sit in front of your monitor most of the day (or night).

See here - http://stackoverflow.com/questions/498698/white-light-vs-bla...

ryanjodonnell 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm doing rails and use the same dark theme featured at railscasts by Ryan Bates: http://railscasts.com/about
whatgoodisaroad 8 hours ago 0 replies      
I thought everyone at Hacker News used green text on a black background...
warmfuzzykitten 6 hours ago 1 reply      
How odd that virtually all editors are doing it wrong. I don't believe that result for a second. 1600 replies, self-selecting.
The Bipolar Lisp Programmer (2007) lambdassociates.org
55 points by llambda  7 hours ago   13 comments top 8
tikhonj 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Hah, I can't help feeling that this describes me pretty well (not brilliant, maybe, but everything else :)). I should be worried about it, of course, but somehow I'm not--perhaps it's because I have limited ambition. Or maybe it's just the job market right now.

I used to really like Lisp. I still do, even. But now I've gotten caught up in Haskell which--despite being a completely different language to Lisp--is actually more of the same. If I replace Lisp with Haskell in the article, then it fits even more. Eerie, really.

Now that I'm relatively depressed about my future "on a soda fountain or doing yard work" I can go do something useful and enjoy my break.

Havoc 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Follow-up (sort of):


(Pulled from past submission comments. Credit goes to HN poster "ced" over here: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20140 )

loceng 6 hours ago 1 reply      
"Often this kind of student never makes it to the end. He flunks himself by dropping out. He ends on a soda fountain or doing yard work, but all the time reading and studying because a good mind is always hungry.

Now one of the things about Lisp, and I've seen it before, is that Lisp is a real magnet for this kind of mind. Once you understand that, and see that it is this kind of mind that has contributed a lot to the culture of Lisp, you begin to see why Lisp is, like many of its proponents, a brilliant failure. It shares the peculiar strengths and weaknesses of the brilliant bipolar mind (BBM).

Why is this? Well, its partly to do with vision. The 'vision thing' as George Bush Snr. once described it, is really one of the strengths of the BBM. He can see far; further than in fact his strength allows him to travel. He conceives of brilliant ambitious projects requiring great resources, and he embarks on them only to run out of steam. It's not that he's lazy; its just that his resources are insufficient."

Daishiman 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Brilliantly written piece. Though I never knew about LISP back then (and I can't claim to be as brilliant as the guys he's describing), I do remember very clearly when in my final High School project I did a web application with Java and PHP and the bullshit of XML (back in the time when J2EE was the bee's knees) and unsound engineering almost turned me off programming. Haskell and Python got me back into it, though.
Havoc 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Thankfully I had a lecturer who recognized this & talked to me about it. He pointed out 2 things:

1) From a purely practical perspective I needed to suck it up & pass this course regardless of boredom.

2) Model solution driven marking (checkbox style) doesn't reward inspired answers. So the aim is not to answer brilliantly, but rather to answer as the other 120 people in the class would. (Its model solution driven because the professional exam is set up that way, so the lecturer wasn't in a position to stop the insanity)

Not exactly ground breaking insights, but I graduated a couple of weeks ago (barely) and I think that was partly thanks to that talk.

dpkendal 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm quite sure Dr. Tarver has been spying on me and reading my mind. This is me, every sentence.
robdoherty2 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Did the author read out of my college diary to write this piece? It sure felt like he did...
DeSopa: a Firefox addon to easily bypass SOPA DNS blocking mozilla.org
86 points by kibwen  9 hours ago   50 comments top 9
nostromo 7 hours ago 2 replies      
It would be quite ironic if the ultimate legacy of SOPA is to strengthen the web by evolving the nature of DNS.

I'm reminded of the past "victories" of the copyright lobby that ended up doing more harm (from their perspective) than good: shuttering Napster (which lead to the much better decentralized systems used for piracy today) and passing of the DMCA (which actually ended up giving legal coverage to businesses that profit from infringement).

gkoberger 7 hours ago 4 replies      
SOPA specifically (without actually naming it) calls out addons.mozilla.org for the whole mafiaafire thing -- so under SOPA, this add-on wouldn't be allowed to stay up.

"[T]his version targets software developers and distributors as well. It allows the Attorney General (doing Hollywood or trademark holders' bidding) to go after more or less anyone who provides or offers a product or service that could be used to get around DNS blacklisting orders."

Second paragraph: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2011/11/hollywood-new-war-on-s...

(Disclosure: I'm a developer on addons.mozilla.org; EDIT: Changed the post to add a source)

CWuestefeld 7 hours ago 4 replies      
This program is a proof of concept that SOPA will not help prevent piracy. The program, implemented as a Firefox extension, simply contacts offshore domain name resolution services to obtain the IP address for any desired website

Part of SOPA is a provision that any tools for circumventing the DNS hijacking are themselves banned. So this extension would have to be removed from the Mozilla repository. At best, it would be distributed underground, and hence would not help to preserve the freedom of the average user.

nostromo 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Startup idea: $2 a month DNS servers based in Vancouver, Toronto, The Bahamas, and Tijuana.
grecy 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This program is a proof of concept that SOPA will not help prevent piracy. The program, implemented as a Firefox extension, simply contacts offshore domain name resolution services to obtain the IP address for any desired website

I thought a major part of SOPA will be censoring sites, not just removing them from DNS. So even if you can resolve them offshore, they are going to be censored versions of the sites you know and love.

vectorpush 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This is an outrage. We need to pass a bill that forces ISPs to scan for this plugin and report users to the government for prosecution. The nerve of these criminals.
_bbs 7 hours ago 3 replies      
Can someone find a link to the source code (it is licensed under the GPLv2)? I tried to open the xpi in a text editor, but no dice.

I don't have much experience with FF addons, but I'd like to see exactly what's happening here.

ryusage 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Honestly, I've never really understood networking in great depth, so this may be a dumb question, but isn't bypassing SOPA as easy as specifying a new DNS server for your network connection?
telemekus 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Wont SOPA take the Mozilla site offline for something like this?
WhisperSystems' encrypting text messaging client is now Open Source whispersys.com
37 points by oldyippie  5 hours ago   2 comments top 2
rufugee 2 hours ago 0 replies      
When things like CarrierIQ exist, I imagine this is rendered somewhat ineffective...
pkulak 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Oh, what Stringer Bell would have given for this in 2003.
Vnc.js: how to build a JavaScript VNC Client linkedin.com
73 points by LiveTheDream  8 hours ago   12 comments top 7
misterbwong 7 hours ago 1 reply      
I usually shrug off these JS demos but this is just getting ridiculous. The amount of stuff that people are creating with JS these days is amazing. Atwood's Law indeed.
lrizzo 8 hours ago 2 replies      
cool project. are you aware (or have considered) of similar projects for the RDP (rdesktop) protocol ?
pspeter3 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The fact that they developed this in 24 hours is ridiculous. I sat next to them when they did it and it was pretty incredible to see in action.
shaggy 6 hours ago 0 replies      
This is one of the first apps I've seen using all these "hot" frameworks that would be worth something to a broad IT audience. Very cool.
thetrendycyborg 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Atwood's Law marches on.
rebelde 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I need me an intern like that. Nice work!
pc0 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Hasn't this already been done: https://github.com/kanaka/noVNC
       cached 21 December 2011 03:02:01 GMT