hacker news with inline top comments    .. more ..    16 Oct 2012 News
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A new kind of fractal? gibney.de
83 points by no_gravity  2 hours ago   15 comments top 10
madhadron 14 minutes ago 1 reply      
It's not a fractal, but it is something familiar.

Multiply two complex numbers z and c is equivalent to taking z and applying a rotation and dilation to it, the rotation through arg(c) and the dilation through |c|. Division is the inverse of both, so z/c is z rotated by -arg(c) and dilated by 1/|c|.

What you're looking at, then, is taking the operation defined by c (rotate by -arg(c) and dilate by 1/|c|) and asking, if you take the Gaussian integers as the vertexes of a directed graph, what fraction of the vertexes are the source of an edge.

Consider the 1 dimensional analogy using real numbers. Given some real number c, take all the integers as the vertexes of a graph, and if z/c (for some integer z) is also an integer, I put a directed edge from z to z/c. When are these connected? Well, if c is irrational, never. If c is rational, then there will be an infinite number of connections, but how infinite? When c is 2, there will be twice as many edges on average in any subset of the source vertexes as when c is 4. If we can write c as p/q, then the smaller p is, the more edges we'll get, and the brighter the pixel in your image.

The 1 dimensional analogy will have a spike at 1/2, smaller spikes at 1/3 and 2/3, yet smaller spikes at 1/4 and 3/4, smaller ones yet at 1/5, 2/5, 3/5, and 4/5, etc. The spikes will all be distinct (because between any two rationals there is an irrational), but will be infinitely close (because the rationals are dense in the reals). As you keep zooming in, you will get more and more edges like this.

What you're seeing is a variation on the classical structure of the rationals dense within the reals.

Now, a fractal is a set with a fractional Hausdorff dimension. We have to extract a set from your function of c in order to talk about fractal dimension. We could take the support of the function (everywhere it's not zero). In the one dimensional case, that's the rationals. We could take level sets farther up (the set of c such that f(c) = k, for a constant k). Those are subsets of the rationals. However, the rationals, while dense in the reals, are of measure zero in the reals, and have Hausdorff dimension zero, and so do all the level sets. So it's not a fractal.

Doesn't make it any less pretty though.

crntaylor 1 hour ago 1 reply      
It would be a lot more useful if he also described how he generated the picture, which would enable mathematicians to give him some useful pointers for exploring it further.
binarymax 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Very cool. I stumbled upon something in the late 90s that is fractal in nature but doesnt use complex numbers - it just plots points directly on a grid with no need for iteration. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwjhRYZ_eSI&feature=plcp
mej10 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This looks like the complex differentiation of 1/z with a grid like domain.
EvilTerran 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I'm reminded of Escher's "Square Limit" works. Not sure if this is actually the same class of grid as those he used to generate them, but it's visually similar at least:


nitrogen 19 minutes ago 0 replies      
The self-similar structure originating from simple division looks reminiscent of various representations of the natural prime numbers.
9mit3t2m9h9a 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
I would look into Lobachevsky geometry or inversions on the plane to describe this.
papalalu 1 hour ago 0 replies      
reminds me of points on a 3d grid..


rouan 45 minutes ago 0 replies      
Can we have code please?
Hacker News supports browsing with a points treshold ycombinator.com
132 points by martincmartin  3 hours ago   46 comments top 13
Arjuna 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Here are some fun points-related search queries:

Comments with the highest number of points:


Stories with the highest number of points:


Users with the highest karma:


"Ask HN:" stories with the highest number of points:


"Show HN:" stories with the highest number of points:


espinchi 2 hours ago 4 replies      
Here's the recent top ten submissions into Hacker News (all above 440 points). I'm happy to see the top ten has a pretty good variety of topics.

    * Conway's Game of Life, using floating point values instead of integers (jwz.org)
* Show HN: We open sourced Lockitron's crowdfunding app (selfstarter.us)
* 37signals Earns Millions Each Year. Its CEO's Model? His Cleaning Lady (fastcompany.com)
* Why is processing a sorted array faster than an unsorted array? (stackoverflow.com)
* I Have 50 Dollars (ihave50dollars.com)
* Why was a scam company able to raise $76 Million Series B?
* The Five Stages of Hosting (blog.pinboard.in)
* Where has all the money in the world gone? (reddit.com)
* If Software Is Eating The World, Why Don't Coders Get Any Respect?
* Hit men, click whores, and paid apologists: Welcome to the Silicon Cesspool (realdanlyons.com)

EDIT: As rwos as pooriaazimi point out, these are not the absolute top ten, but only the top ten among the recent submissions. My bad!

joshuahedlund 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is cool, and I will probably use it sometimes to help force myself to waste less time, but isn't there some risk of a 'tragedy of the commons' (maybe not the right game theory term, but one of those) where too many people want to see only high point submissions so fewer people are around to vote low point submissions into higher ones? Maybe even some adverse selection where now the people viewing lower point posts are the ones who care less about discovering high quality posts, thereby making it harder for those posts to get high points?
no_more_death 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Really saves time.

I used a threshhold of 35 at first, then I upped it to 50. These days you probably want 75 or 100 if you really want to sift through the less important items.

Or you can just subscribe to daemonology's RSS: http://www.daemonology.net/hn-daily/index.rss. This summarizes the top ten every day. These are most of the important articles; of course you will miss some important things.

On the other side of the scale, you should try http://news.ycombinator.com/newest every once in a while as well. The fact is, the HN point system ends up filtering a lot of things by whatever's popular or in sync with the groupthink at the moment. Newest can help you avoid this "filter."

sjs382 1 hour ago 1 reply      
There are also independent RSS feeds that only post feeds over a certain threshold.

I wish there was a browser extension that only showed highly-ranked (or sufficiently new, maybe) comments, too. It would be useful on the comment threads I find most interesting, but probably be too much of a detriment on others to actually be implemented.

Wait... did I just advocate turning HN into Slashdot?

bhavin 2 hours ago 1 reply      
Great feature!

I had a suggestion: This feature gives you stories 'above' a certain threshold. I think it would help a lot if there was an option for stories 'below' certain threshold.

Rationale behind it is that lots of folks here (like me) don't check the New Submissions section regularly and lots of good stuff never gets much love. If there was an option for generating a front page for stories below certain points, a user can review them and upvote worthy ones, which eventually can feature on normal front page. Any opinions?

danielhughes 2 hours ago 4 replies      
I'd love for there to be a "Show HN" filter as well. My favorite part of Hacker News is seeing what others have built.
ishkur101 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I also like browsing the site in classic mode http://news.ycombinator.com/classic for submissions upvoted by long term members
arbuge 3 hours ago 4 replies      
Only one post crosses into 4 digit territory...


...it's an interesting one though. Justifies sticking with HN as your news outlet.

fredley 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Just out of interest, how did you discover this?
chmike 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Great option. I was waiting for such an option.

Another problem I have is that I keep scanning the front page list of references to see if a new article popped in somewhere in the list between the last time I checked.

This is inefficient. My impression is that providing a list of references sorted by the time they reached the threshold would do the trick. Though, this would require a significant amount of work to produce. Being able to precompute the sorted list and share it with many users would allow to cache it.

So I raise the question if it is not preferable to propose predefined threshold values. How much difference would it make to have a threshold at 55 and 54 anyway.

Let say you propose a treshold at 10, 25, 50, 75 and 100 for example, the pages could be precomputed and cached.

A script on the browser side could keep track of the last references seen and show older articles in gray for instance.

dahumpty 1 hour ago 0 replies      
On a related note, here's a search tool (though not perfect) I wrote some time ago that helps filter out stories by points, age & #comments:


hackerpolicy 1 hour ago 0 replies      
There's no way to get a filtered feed (I couldn't find one), so I suggest: http://feedhint.com/
The Next Twenty Years: What Windows 8's Closed Distribution Means for Developers gamasutra.com
28 points by doty  1 hour ago   14 comments top 8
jiggy2011 6 minutes ago 0 replies      
I find it very impossible to believe that in 20 years there will be no "adult" games available.

For one thing the XboX is a very closed platform run by Microsoft and there is no lack of violent games available there. I imagine this part of the agreement is simply an oversight that will be corrected in one form or another.

The only other possible way that this could play out if MS stubbornly don't want to allow adult content on computers is that anybody who wants to play games will switch to another platform, be it Android or Ubuntu or whatever.

The most likely dangerous thing that this could do for game developers would be if MS took control of launch dates for third party games so that they didn't clash with games they planned to heavily promote themselves or with preferred partners.

So maybe if you're an Indie developer you can't launch a game during the Xmas period if Halo 6 is due to come out or something like that.

onli 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
So the point of the article is that because of the bundling of windows store and Metro UI, Windows will become a closed platform. Like with DOS, in some versions the desktop UI will vanish.

If that would happen, GNU/Linux would be the biggest remaining open (biggest free it is already) operating system. That would be a good thing. If Microsoft really tries to control Windows-Apps that much that they ban popular games, they probably will kill Windows and games will adapt to Linux. Fine with me.

But it doesn't have to come that way. The comparison to DOS is probably flawed. The new UI is, as far as i understood without being a windows developer, just an UI (with maybe a new API). The classical desktop is not like DOS an operating system Windows has to evolve from. Though it's quite possible that they might try to kill it sometime, it is not the same technical cause like the move away from DOS.

Anyway, before declaring Windows dead, let's wait how well Windows 8 sells and how many will use the new UI and the Windows store.

programminggeek 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
I wonder if MSFT will stop supporting SDK's that don't run through their store long term. At some point will you only be able to write things that run on Windows that go through the Windows store? It looks like Win RT is going to go that route. I think it will be hard for MSFT to totally shut that down on mainline Windows for a while, but longer term it might all look a lot like walled garden distribution across all Windows.

I imagine that MSFT will have some kind of enterprise program where you can run your own Windows Store Server to do enterprise deploys of Metro apps.

Either way, it looks like Linux might end up the one place where you can install and run your own software over the long haul.

bitwize 2 minutes ago 0 replies      
Windows 8 is the Oogieloves of operating systems: no one wants it, but that doesn't stop its creator from pushing it hard.
nilsbunger 22 minutes ago 2 replies      
How come I could install chrome and get a metro UI on windows 8, even though it didn't go through Microsoft's store?

I keep reading that windows 8 distribution is limited to the ms store for apps with metro UI , but that doesn't seem to be the case from my limited experience.

Can anyone clarify?

apetrovic 16 minutes ago 2 replies      
I don't get it.

Everyone is gushing about the post-pc era, Eric Schmidt announced a few days ago that Microsoft is irrelevant, and the article takes for granted that Microsoft and PC as we know it will survive for next 20 years, and Windows will be dominant platform on PC?

If history teach us anything, it's that there's always some solution for the problem. If Windows 8 marketplace turns to be too restrictive, game developers will turn to Steam on Linux. And with enough gamers on Linux, Asus or Gigabyte will not be pressed to make only "compatible with Windows 8" UEFI-locked motherboards.

Or the consumers (and the gamers) will find Win8 marketplace acceptable. Or maybe in five or ten years some other player will sweep the market.

Looking at the current technology and lamenting about the end of the world is just plain stupid.

nissimk 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
is there really no way to "side-load?" According to this, that will be enabled in the Server and Enterprise editions:


Between this and UEFI secure boot these guys are really messing up the PC ecosystem.

maguay 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
The original article link, from the author's own blog: http://mollyrocket.com/casey/index.html

(happens to be much more readable there, too)

Surface Pricing Announced - 499 USD microsoft.com
24 points by codelion  54 minutes ago   11 comments top 5
nirvana 18 minutes ago 4 replies      
I applaud Microsoft for doing something new-- the new windows UI is very original. Further, they have managed to meet Apple in terms of pricing for a comparable iPad, something others have struggled with.

But the big take-away innovation here, and the center of their marketing campaign, is that it has a keyboard cover.

This seems to be about 5 years out of sync. 5 years ago, everyone expected the iPhone to fail because it didn't have a physical keyboard like the blackberry.

But after I got my first iPad, the original, I found that I could type at nearly the same speed (possibly faster due to autocorrect) on its on screen keyboard as I can at a regular keyboard... my finger just go to the place the key is, and while feeling a physical key would be nice, the end result on the iPad was about the same speed.

I think this will sell well into markets that are heavily invested in microsoft infrastructure... but I don't see how it is going to take marketshare from the iPad.

jtoeman 4 minutes ago 1 reply      
I think this is the nail on the already-likely-dead coffin of MS Surface. What's the market they are going after???

"tablet market"? nope - already dominated by iPad

"enterprise"? nope - 1) not a market, 2) already dominated by iPad

"budget"? nope - priced on par with iPad

seriously, how are they going to push this thing? they don't have a channel like Apple nor Amazon, so they need to rely on all their other paths.

they should've called this "XPad", made it a mobile Xbox, and sold through that channel - just like they did with Kinect.

fail fail fail.

tomrod 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
I see that price point as being too high. I think 399 USD would be right in that sweet spot (especially considering this will be considered a poor Ipad substitute in the beginning).
davidacoder 20 minutes ago 1 reply      
No 3G at all? Zune all over again.
weiran 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
Any idea of international pricing?
IBM: The cost difference is too great for business not to look for H1B workers cis.org
46 points by dsr_  2 hours ago   22 comments top 11
greggman 33 minutes ago 2 replies      
If there's a smoking gun for IBM great, fine $$$$$$$ IBM. But my personal anecdotal experience is that the companies I've worked for pay the same for HB-1 vs local. They don't look at it as trying to find cheap employees. They look at as trying to find qualified employees anywhere, world wide.

Companies I've worked for, Virgin Games (run by a British immigrant), Shiny Entertainment (also run by a British immigrant and seemed like > 50% foreigners). Naughty Dog had at least 5 or 6 foreigners of 30 employees when I was there. The owner even made a point of showing us the first hire's salary and asking us if we knew any locals that were qualified for the job that wanted the job so that he was sure he was above the law.

A few years later that hire went on to co-found Ready At Dawn which was founded by 3 immigrants. I have no idea how many of their employees are foreign.

I have seen one company, Interplay, abuse their power over a foreign employee by threatening to pull their visa support for him before if he didn't do X (I think X was stop some un-work related outside music activity). He ended up marrying his local GF and then got the hell out of that company.

The company I currently work for, as far as can tell, has a similar position. We'll hire anyone that applies that can convince us they can do the job. Finding them is hard. There may be tons of qualified people but either they aren't applying, they can't write a resume that makes it look like they're qualified, or they can't convince us in the interview that they are qualified.

fxm4139 1 minute ago 0 replies      
I find this extremely hard to believe. I completed two internships at IBM in my undergrad years when I was here on an F-1 visa. While I was on my F-1 visa, I was making more than a lot of my American counterparts and lesser than others who were doing internships as well. The only things that factored into pay were the number of credits you completed on college, and whether you were a returning employee. Nothing else.

I worked for IBM for almost 12 months before I got out of undergrad. There were 4 hiring managers and a senior VP in a hardware unit who was personally vouching for me. Yet, IBM didn't hire me because they were ridiculously careful with hiring H1-B visas because of a snafu they had in the early 80s when the immigration dept cracked down on them. At least IBMs engineering divisions were only hiring H1B folks only if you had 2 years of experience with a BS, or a Masters. I was extremely pissed at the time because I felt like I had more credibility based on merit and my time at IBM than many other interns who were getting offers left and right after spending most of their time playing counterstrike in the labs. They were being ridiculously paranoid about sticking with the books on this one. And sure enough, after I got my Master's I did have and continue to be able to get offers from IBM.

Like some folks said, this probably has to do with third parties who place folks at IBM. Keep in mind, I'm not trying to support them (I'm still sour about my undergrad days), but I'm just refuting the whole point about IBM hiring H1B folks just to save money. Just ask around your H1B friends, I'm sure most of you have many. The only ones that I've heard of doing shady things with H1B candidates are small consulting shops and third party staffers.

fennecfoxen 51 minutes ago 1 reply      
Tough economics questions: To what extent would these people still be willing to work for cheap if we let them immigrate and become legitimate Americans with a simple, easy process? Are they just willing to work for less in general, or is there a pattern of monopsonistic exploitation or other similar exploitation due to the legal process surrounding the H1-B process and how it is attached to an employer sponsor? If the latter, how can we procure evidence and measure the effect?
joseflavio 47 minutes ago 2 replies      
A very simple solution used here in Europe is that the VISA does not tie you up with the employer! This was the employer has all the expenses and work to bring you but if your wage is not competitive you can just leave the company and enter in another one who pays you the market price. The problem in USA is that the foreigners are totally under the control of the hiring company, so sure you create an artificial lower-wage group.
btipling 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
From a pure market perspective, doesn't the regulation actually attempt to force a pricing inefficiency? If there are international candidates willing to work for less, why doesn't the average salary drop for local workers to the point where they also become competitive?
jbooth 41 minutes ago 2 replies      
If your job is to put butts in seats so you can bill for them, yeah.

If your job is to deliver products, you'll find you get what you pay for, I work with some guys who maybe make 10k less than they could because of their immigration status but it's not a difference between 150k and 60k or something.

kamakazizuru 46 minutes ago 1 reply      
the biggest flaw in this articles - which mind you isn`t backed up with any sort of proof that serves to validate his allegations of IBM being the number one "misuser" nor can we be really sure this email exchange is for real.. Is the assumption that Landed Resources come on H1B - thats plain wrong. The difference between H1B & landed resources is that H1B employees can work in the US and get paid above a certain level. Landed resources are those who get visas for projects through their companies and head to the US to work on these projects while still getting their salary at home. Its important to understand and acknowledge this difference since H1B is a way for good people who are needed to get employed - and mixing it up with a loophole that allows easy intra company transfers or extended project visits only serves to tarnish its image.
th0ma5 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
I heard a stat that US IT unemployment is -3% (note the negative) so perhaps a step back from the idea this is outright deliberate fraud it's perhaps more a symptom of this long running state of the pool of available candidates?
jhartmann 39 minutes ago 2 replies      
Absolutely horrible state of affairs, I understand that because of the economic incentive that this will and does happen all the time.

I feel that the only way to stop this is to take away the economic incentive to hire foreign workers. If there was a tax that required the difference between market for the position to be paid to state and federal government we would solve this problem overnight.

I also think part of this problem is the general attitude that business has that everyone is generally a replaceable cog in a machine. Don't get me wrong I have meet and worked with H1-B holders that were superstars, but many of them are not perfect candidates and end up costing more in productivity and efficiency then a Grade A local engineer. A ninja developer can be 20x more productive then someone who is not if you believe the hype, I think companies should focus on getting the right people then just thinking about the people who are cheap. While the ninja might still be an H1-B, we should have a level playing field where the best guy wins. Its better for the company overall, but unfortunately many people are too shortsighted to see that.

gkamal 21 minutes ago 0 replies      
After reading the section below from the WTO site I can't understand how such a practice of discriminating against foreign workers is compatible with free trade espoused and taken advantage of by developed countries. Protectionism in terms of differential pricing of goods in many cases to protect local industries and jobs is considered against free trade. This to me seems like a very opportunistic interpretation of free trade.

2. National treatment: Treating foreigners and locals equally Imported and locally-produced goods should be treated equally â€" at least after the foreign goods have entered the market. The same should apply to foreign and domestic services, and to foreign and local trademarks, copyrights and patents. This principle of “national treatment” (giving others the same treatment as one's own nationals) is also found in all the three main WTO agreements (Article 3 of GATT, Article 17 of GATS and Article 3 of TRIPS), although once again the principle is handled slightly differently in each of these.

National treatment only applies once a product, service or item of intellectual property has entered the market. Therefore, charging customs duty on an import is not a violation of national treatment even if locally-produced products are not charged an equivalent tax.

P.S : I am from India, I have no intention now (or ever before) of emigrating to find better opportunities. So this comment is not borne out of any bitterness. It is out of genuine curiosity to know why this point of view is rarely mentioned in any such debate.

PureSin 1 hour ago 1 reply      
As a Canadian who will be going to work in the US through a TN Visa. I wonder if Canadian hires are also seen as a "cheaper" alternative to hiring locally.
Patents on Software: A Nobel Laureate's View nytimes.com
37 points by ckuehne  1 hour ago   6 comments top 2
jandrewrogers 47 minutes ago 1 reply      
The argument made is not unique to software or computer algorithms. Chemical process patents are identical to computer algorithm patents in this respect, just replace bits with molecules, and are among the oldest patentable subject matters. Long, complex sequential algorithms are a feature of many engineering disciplines.

Chemical engineering, to use that example, designs elaborate and complex dynamic systems by chaining together abstract chemical algorithms. Each one of those little algorithms is subject to both patent and copyright. Like with software most of the commonly used algorithms and clever hacks were either never patented or the patents have long expired. It is only on the bleeding edge that some chemical algorithms are under patent; as with computer algorithms there are an unbounded number of potential algorithms but some are more efficient than others. Specific implementations are still covered by copyright and are widely licensed (as libraries).

Most of the nominal specialness attributed to software as a domain for intellectual property does not really exist. Yet the rarely questioned assertion that computer software is special in some way has created a dearth of comparative studies that would likely be valuable from both a theoretical standpoint as well as a practical policy standpoint. Either these other areas, like chemical processes, are equally broken at a fundamental level and the scope should be extended beyond software, or there are differences in implementation across otherwise equivalent domains and we should borrowing from the better implementation. It seems like an oversight that no one is attempting to do either.

PaulHoule 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Note there's a flip side to this -- the timescale of software patents is completely wrong from the viewpoint of a company that wants to use patents honestly.

I was looking at a face recognition patent that was filed by the US by a Japanese company in 1998 that was finally issued in 2006. Eight years is a very long time in the fast moving software industry -- even if you get lucky and your patent granted in two years, it's quite possible that your invention is obsolete by the time you get your patent.

Given that software is so fast paced, most organizations that expect to be "practicing entities" find the patent application to be a distraction from the task of getting a competitive product in the marketplace. This is a very different situation from other fields where you really can get a patent for a mechanical or electronic thing and then have the patent as a tool for negotiation w/ manufacturers.

Enter Darth Vader's Tie Fighter sketchfab.com
32 points by showwebgl  2 hours ago   12 comments top 5
hluska 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Would someone please build a 'don't distract freelancers on Hacker News' app? My morning started off so strong, now I want to watch the original trilogy.....

(Great model!!)

mhandley 28 minutes ago 0 replies      
All I get is a "100%" loading indicator, then the spinning pizza of death and repeated "unresponsive script" warnings for several minutes until I gave up.
anactofgod 1 hour ago 2 replies      
<nit>It's a TIE Interceptor.</nit>

And, it's nice work.

<edit>Doh. I stand corrected. Vader did fly a TIE Fighter - technically the "TIE Advanced x1".

Looks like I'm overdue to rewatch SW:ANH. smile</edit>

oseibonsu 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Is it possible to download the 3d model in a format that could be used with a 3d printer?
pierreant_p 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Awesome model !
Exploring the Virtual Database Engine inside SQLite coderweekly.com
20 points by motter  1 hour ago   7 comments top 3
rogerbinns 1 hour ago 2 replies      
The big change hinted at in the documentation around the 3.5 era is that SQLite switched from a stack based VM to a register based one. Note that the implementation details are not exposed to a developer using SQLite and there is a massive test suite so the change had no visible impact.

What isn't mentioned is why SQLite is using a virtual machine in the first place. The reason is that SQLite only calculates the next row of results when you ask - it does not calculate all result rows at once in advance. Each time you ask for the next row of results it has to resume from where it last left off and calculate that next row. The virtual machine is a way of saving state between those calls for the next row (amongst other things).

This is also why there isn't a method in SQLite DB adapters to get the number of result rows. SQLite has no idea other than actually calculating them all which is the same amount of effort as getting all of them.

euroclydon 59 minutes ago 0 replies      
Informative but short article. I'd love to read more about when it's time to create a VM for your program or system. If anyone has links to more articles on VMs in practice, especially a story chronicling a transition from a non-VM architecture to a VM-based one, please post them.
themckman 7 minutes ago 0 replies      
Now that's just one of those things I would have never guessed. Super interesting.
My blog is the 1% tobiassjosten.net
18 points by tobiassjosten  1 hour ago   5 comments top 4
engtech 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
If wordpress.com can exist offering to host people's blogs, I think someone could create a site that does these techniques in the backend and provides a nice content management front end.
tikhonj 35 minutes ago 1 reply      
I wonder what the costs are like. Just looking at the S3 page, it seems this would actually be rather cheap, which makes it an attractive option (especially for a student like me :P). However, I'm not entirely certain on how much resources a small blog like this would use, so I don't know exactly how expensive it would be.
jh3 13 minutes ago 0 replies      
I just noticed your domain is vvv.tobiassjosten.net.
ceworthington 57 minutes ago 0 replies      
Optimizing is often an after-thought on side projects, so it's cool to see you take a stab at it for your personal blog.
Building a Binpress challenger in 48 hours gitiosk.com
13 points by plehoux  1 hour ago   3 comments top 2
Animus7 9 minutes ago 0 replies      
Since you asked, here are the problems I see. Most of these I've learned the hard way working on a similar problem for over 2 years, so hopefully that counts for something.

1- The main cost of third-party software is never the cost of the code; it's the cost of using, integrating, customizing, and gettng support for it. The utility of the raw code itself is often zero. This is why binpress - selling code - never (really) took off, but github - a code community - did.

2- Given no restrictions, the prices people slap onto source code get very ridiculous, very fast. Non-technical people expect well-polished software for $1.99 (see: App Store). Hobbyists and developers often have a case of NIH, and a lot of them think that code should be communal and free (as in beer). The reasons are varied but the end result is that source code (by itself) is not considered a valuable commodity by the market anymore, which means nobody cares about selling theirs - or they try and quickly learn it's not worth it.

3- Licensing. You have a minefield of legal issues of ownership resolve. If you haven't looked into it, you probably don't even realize the extent of the BS that will be thrown at you.

4- I won't sugar coat this. You'll never make any money on a 3% comission of a commodity that's already priced dangerously close to zero by the market (see #2). The costs of dealing with people whining when things go wrong - alone - will exceed your comission.

5- I'm a developer, and I just don't see the value-add here. I have to do my own marketing, I have to do my own sales, I have to write the software, and I have to support it. If I'm going to go through that trouble, why don't I just blast up my own template Stripe page w/download link and cut out the middleman?

I guess what I'm saying is: please don't make my mistakes. Do something different and make different mistakes.

Also, I'm from Waterloo so I understand what it's like to be a tech entrepreneur in Canada. And sadly this means I should underline point #3, which Canada has much worse than the states.

seanlinehan 26 minutes ago 1 reply      
48 hours from start to finish? You guys did an incredibly impressive job with this. Your landing page is more refined than many "Show HN" stories that pop up and the product itself is really cool.

I'm uncertain about the business model - is $0.15 per transaction really going to add up? - but according the Steve Blank, that is the point of a startup anyways. (http://steveblank.com/2012/03/05/search-versus-execute/)

Very nice work!

Save Even More Time On Hacker News danmaz74.me
88 points by lucioscarpa  5 hours ago   32 comments top 14
pooriaazimi 5 hours ago 3 replies      
Great plugin.

I primarily use http://hckrnews.com to browse HN submissions ( <-- this site is great. If you don't use it, you're missing a lot IMO ) and its extensions for Safari: http://hckrnews.com/about.html

Both have great ideas, and I think pg should adopt one of them (though I know he won't). I hate it when I use my iPad for browsing HN. Comments are small, up/down-vote arrows are minuscule, and you can't use these highly-useful plugins. And I've tried about a dozen different clients so far. None of them offer anything like http://hckrnews.com a chronological timeline of submissions), so I keep coming back to Safari... :(

AndrewDucker 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd love to have this for Firefox.

Or, even better, built into the site!

misnome 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks for a great extension (that I have been using!) and I noticed the new changes going live.

Does this fix the bug (which I assume was caused by this) where if a story was marked as read then it sometimes loaded the comments page without the main story link?

Also, the "Follow Comments" functionality wasn't obvious to me until I read this blog post - perhaps a rewording?

Thanks for a great extension!

noirman 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Save Time and Hacker News don't mix. :
andrewmcdonough 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I find the best way to save time on Hacker News is to block it while I'm meant to be working: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4659976
PaulMest 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Nice extension. I'd be curious to see the funnel associated with your "shameless plug" at the end of your post:

How many people click through to your consulting page?

How many additional inquiries do you get over the coming 1-2 weeks?

Alex3917 2 hours ago 2 replies      
I actually just uninstalled this the other day. It annoyed me that clicking on someone's username wouldn't take me to their profile page, and not only that but there was no longer any way to get there.
skrebbel 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Nice plugin, but the title makes me wonder. Aren't "visiting HN" and "saving time" in contradiction?
huskyr 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Cool! I especially like the "collapse comment threads", that's the one thing i really miss on this site.
nicolasmiller 53 minutes ago 0 replies      
And HN goes all Onion on us... I can only hope this is some brilliant troll's idea of incisive satire.
lest 4 hours ago 1 reply      
The best way to save more time on Hacker News is stop reading it.
citricsquid 5 hours ago 1 reply      
You should add a link to the extension to the post.
goldenchrome 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Reddit Enhancement Suite for HN.
iaskwhy 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Thanks! Can you make it work with news.ycombinator.org too?
Tech conference for people called Ben* bens.me.uk
22 points by zachinglis  2 hours ago   8 comments top 3
fredley 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
This actually happened at my university, we had a dinner for 100 people, all called Tom.

Proof: http://www.varsitv.co.uk/episode/gh3q9h/Tom_s_Formal_Hall/

bensummers 52 minutes ago 1 reply      
I'm so very sorry. It was a silly joke which got out of hand.
yen223 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Damn! So close...
How to do a great product promo video for less than $200 kickofflabs.com
8 points by swatermasysk  57 minutes ago   7 comments top 2
jfdimark 33 minutes ago 1 reply      
Thanks, I've been looking a good, economical, way of creating an intro video, this looks like a really solid option.

Can I ask, do you think it has advantages over, say, recording your screen while you record yourself taking someone through a demo? Then maybe replacing your voice with a voicebunny voiceover?

I imagine cartoon v screen demo is dependent on your audience and objectives, but intrigued as to why you went this route. Cheers!

jpdelatorre 27 minutes ago 2 replies      
I'm curious how long the entire process took to finish (in terms of man-hours).
Pull Request: Launch GOV.UK github.com
58 points by mmahemoff  5 hours ago   28 comments top 8
dmytton 5 hours ago 2 replies      
This is an example of how to run a government IT project. Extremely well run team, excellent programmers and designers and using a lot of interesting technology. That's cool for the tech community but for the majority of the users the biggest benefit is a single location for everything. Direct.gov.uk was still a collection of links to lots of external sites but the goal with gov.uk is to have everything on one site. I think this is a great project.

Some background at http://digital.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/2012/10/16/directgov-a-q...

bfirsh 1 hour ago 0 replies      
For background, this is part of a larger government initiative to curb outsourcing of IT projects. Traditionally these sorts of things would be built by large software companies at enormous expense to the taxpayer.

Gov.uk has been built by a (relatively) small in-house team, by people who genuinely care about what they are building. They embrace the fact that they are building tools for the good of society rather than just satisfying a contract.

Also as a citizen, I love the fact that I can open a pull request on my government's website ( https://github.com/alphagov/calendars/pull/1 ). We've got the ball rolling in opening up government data on the internet, but this is a great example of how technology can enable citizens to get involved in government.

FuzzyDunlop 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks nice, clean and speedy. Although the front page could easily be mistaken for a parked domain with the mass of links and nothing to really differentiate them or make them stand out.
mmahemoff 4 hours ago 1 reply      
For anyone who's wondering, the actual website is at http://www.gov.uk
aes256 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This doesn't really 'replace' Directgov. At least, it doesn't yet.

Look at the most active searches on the site. Top of the list is the JobCentre Plus job search. All gov.uk does is link you to the existing JobCentre Plus website on Directgov.

Similarly, let's say I want to book a driving test (another of the most active searches). All gov.uk does is link me to the existing booking service on Directgov.

Okay, so I want to renew my tax disc (again, another of the most active searches). Again, all gov.uk does is link me to the existing DVLA interface on Directgov.

This goes on and on. The only useful thing gov.uk can do is link me to the existing Directgov sites. Google already does that for me.

I assume the long-term plan is to integrate all these services into the gov.uk site, but one can't help thinking they should have done this â€" and actually made the site a useful port of call in and of itself â€" before shedding the beta status.

Edit: Just noticed the site doesn't properly launch until tomorrow, so I wonder if that will change all of this. If so, you can colour me impressed.

coob 4 hours ago 2 replies      
Looks great!

Will direct.gov.uk have a bunch of redirects to gov.uk?

bfirsh 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Here's a list of technology they've used to build gov.uk: http://digital.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/govuk-launch-colophon/
meaty 5 hours ago 4 replies      
And, unsurprisingly it looks just like direct.gov.uk with some polish.

Money well spent!*

* Sarcasm for reference...

Global market share of Google public DNS and OpenDNS cdnplanet.com
9 points by sajal83  1 hour ago   5 comments top 2
nuttendorfer 51 minutes ago 1 reply      
I used to use Googles DNS but when I started to move away from Google products for privacy reasons (I still use some, can't help it) this one was one of the easier decisions.
modeless 30 minutes ago 1 reply      
I wonder what the market share of is.
CashFlow forecasting for small businesses and freelancers wisecashhq.com
43 points by jaimeiniesta  5 hours ago   26 comments top 10
chime 3 hours ago 2 replies      
The screenshots look great. I like that you support Euro (and will hopefully do dollar and other currencies too) - just make sure you get the commas and periods localized well ( http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2010/06/10/jquery-glo... ). The bootstrap UI looks sleek but I recommend styling the buttons to make it look slightly more customized than the default bootstrap CSS.

Also, you should check out my free app: https://zetabee.com/cashflow/ see the demo and update the dates/amounts to play around). It has similar features and is very much like the original spreadsheet I used myself. It has burn rate (balance), monthly (income vs. expense), and many other views/lists.

My biggest feature request has been multiple simulations/forecasts so users can do what-if scenarios. Also the ability to easily ignore/disable rules with one-click to help with this. Either I get the new car or don't. Check/uncheck to see how it impacts the future. I've been very busy with my other projects and have not updated this app in over two years. I hope you guys can incorporate these features into your app so I can forward the heavy users to you. Good luck!

typicalrunt 1 hour ago 1 reply      
The splash page is leaving a lot of questions in my mind, and the invitation to give my email address (just to find out more) is a bit of a speedbump. Reading the comments in HN I can see other people asking how your service works.

My suggestion is to take your answers to those questions and use them on the front page to provide a bit more information to hook potential customers like myself.

thibaut_barrere 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Hi there - I'm the guy behind WiseCash (SaaS service, in beta since July).

The homepage is not yet ready for the general public, nor for a "Show HN"!

I'll happily answer questions though.

Here's an internal newsletter archive if you want to have an quick look inside though:


saturnflyer 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm glad to see this here. I've been a beta user and it's really helped me get a good view of how far into the future money will take me.
Aidan 4 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks fantastic! Cash flow has been a major pain point for me, and quite an unexpected one with a rapidly growing apparel company (https://www.kigu.me).

We've been managing this using a spreadsheet but tracking loan repayments, stock purchases, postage, cost of sale and salaries as well as picking a useful scale (daily vs weekly) has been a real challenge.

I can't wait for an invite.

lleims 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Looks really interesting. As a freelancer/writer I sometimes don't know how much to charge and I've never found it easy to manage my cashflow.

Looking forward to receiving an invite to the beta :)

codegeek 1 hour ago 1 reply      
sorry i have not signed up yet but how do you get the required data to create the forecast ? I mean are you using an automated aggregrator (like yodlee etc.) to pull bank details, credit card info etc ?
ericboggs 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I didn't look closely, but if this product builds a direct-method cash flow statement from a balance sheet - then you've got a winner. Quickbooks - the default small business accounting product - does a HORRIBLE job with the cash flow statement.
bluewater 2 hours ago 1 reply      
hard to tell from the screenshots but do you or would you consider adding a weekly look at cash flow vs. only monthly? looks like a nice product in the making though :
jaimeiniesta 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm using it as a beta user, and I find it really helpful.

I used to do this kind of things with a spreadsheet, but this tool automates it and gives you nice charts.

Marie Curie Day jgc.org
86 points by jgrahamc  8 hours ago   62 comments top 12
beloch 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Marie Curie is undeniably one of the greatest female role-figures in science of the last century. I don't know why she isn't more revered, although perhaps are here are a few reasons why: (Note: I bring them up mostly in hopes of pointing out how silly they are)

1. Her work eventually killed her. There was no way for the Curies to know what effect long-term radiation exposure would have, but it's still not a huge image booster for her to have died from material handling practices that would be considered idiotic today.

2. She wasn't a "lone wolf". i.e. She did much of her work with her husband Pierre, who shared the Nobel Prize for physics with her. Pierre was an instructor when they met and undoubtedly gave her a huge helping hand right when she needed it. Never mind that she came from a poor background and showed remarkable determination just getting into college in the first place, or that she would later be the sole recipient of a Nobel prize for chemistry!

3. People are still scared of words like "radioactive" and "radiation". Just look at how comfortable people are with coal power that kills thousands every year as a part of normal operation. Then note how those same people freak out when a nuclear plant threatens to give a handful of people cancer, but only after being horribly mismanaged and then hit by an improbable sequence of natural disasters! Arguably, Curie is scary by her association with something people are unreasonably paranoid about.

4. Let's face it, Ada Lovelace was a bit of a looker, or at least she was painted that way. She even had a sexy sounding name. We have real, unromantic photographs of Curie on the other hand the reveal her to be rather plain by comparison, plus her name is now linked with a scary unit of radioactive decay! It's a case of the Belle vs the school-marm.

bambax 7 hours ago 2 replies      
I too love Marie Curie and the 1927 Solvay Conference's picture (which sits in my living room for the edification of my kids!)

She's a hero here in France but I don't know about her reputation in the English speaking world.

She was a very amazing person. Born in Poland, she studied secretly for years in her native country, because higher education was not opened to females! Then she moved to Paris to join her sister and continued her education during the day, while tutoring in the evenings to pay for it.

- - -

There was a nice play (in French) that I saw in 1989, called "Les Palmes de monsieur Schutz"


A movie was later made from the play. I didn't see the movie but hear it's not too bad for that kind of adaptation from scene to screen (and it has cameos from Pierre-Gilles de Gennes and Georges Charpak).

mbq 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Maria Skłodowska-Curie, to be exact. She moved to France and married there, but never rejected her Polish origins. In fact she supported Polish independence, founded a scientific institute in Warsaw and named one of the elements she discovered after Poland.
stephengillie 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Marie Curie was a groundbreaking scientist and an admirable figure.

The need to celebrate the one symbolic "woman of science" is sexist and crude. The idea of one "woman of science" makes the work of other female scientists seem less important. The idea that the "woman of science" be symbolic makes Marie Curie's work seem symbolic and unimportant.

Why can we not just celebrate both Marie Curie and Ada Lovelace as excellent scientists, leaving gender out of the discussion?

scotty79 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Marie Skłodowska-Curie

... since we recently had a story about recognizing contributions of polish people: http://www.smh.com.au/world/honour-for-overlooked-poles-who-...

krig 7 hours ago 3 replies      
It seems a bit sad that we apparently only can have one woman in science. Why not have two?

I think it's perfectly legitimate to celebrate Marie Curie but at the same time also celebrate Ada Lovelace, and I don't see how the two are in competition.

If we're going down that route, why are we paying so much attention to Alan Turing, who elected him as the man in science? Aren't there other computer pioneers worth celebrating? Well, yes, but talking about Turing doesn't lessen them.

And, for that matter, why do women have to be their own category at all? Why does "Ada Lovelace Day" automatically mean "Woman Day", does that mean that we should also elect one single man to name a day after?

wowoc 5 hours ago 2 replies      
Why do people always omit the "Skłodowska" part? She has used her maiden name through all her life and always identified with her Polish origins, so it might be a little bit disrespectful. There simply are too many signs that she would want to be remembered as Marie Skłodowska-Curie, not just Marie Curie.
RyanMcGreal 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm astounded by the number of radioactive quack products still being manufactured currently:

http://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/quackcures/quackcures.htm (see the bottom of the page)

Most of them seem to originate in Japan.

Surio 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Agreed! Our school curriculum covered Marie Curie on multiple subjects: Chemistry and English (her biography made for inspirational reading) and by contrast, Lovelace has had what one would call "honourable mention" ;-)

I keep referring back to this topic more and more these days...

CKKim 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I had read about Lovelace in Doron Swade's works on Babbage, and for a long time was "that guy" who would come into CS love-ins and attempt to correct what I believed at the time were gross exaggerations of her contributions to the field. Eventually I learned to keep my mouth shut since it was usually met with hostility, and more importantly I'm not arrogant enough to think that what I had read by one author is going to be right.

The summary of Lovelace in the OP brought this back to mind as it is exactly what my stance had been when I'd ditched it for the more conservative "well I guess I don't really know". I never looked into it again until now. Does anyone have a recommendation for a balanced modern summary of her contribution?

I believe most of what I had read by Swade was written before she was as popular in the CS community as she now is, and when I raised his points in discussion I was usually told he was widely regarded to hold a grudge against her for some reason no-one really understood.

fourgrant 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I am currently in the middle of reading “The Emperor of All Maladies”, a well written "history" of cancer, that puts what she did for the disease in perspective. Highly recommended: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/11/books/11book.html
precisioncoder 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This woman is an inspiration. She fought great challenges to stand on equal ground with mental giants. I find her humbling and amazing.
What African startup scene needs? munyukim.blogspot.com
24 points by munyukim  4 hours ago   21 comments top 5
jhull 55 minutes ago 1 reply      
I can speak a bit from personal experience. I just spent close to 3 months in Rwanda and one of the coolest things I found there was an incubator called kLab in Kigali (www.klab.rw) that was modeled after incubators they have in Kenya. I heard from some ex-pats who lived there that one of the main problems affecting the ICT industry in Africa in general is that you can go through the CS programs at their university and never touch a computer. Many teachers don't have the programming chops and their students can't do anything about that, so anyone who does know how to code either learned on their own, or learned outside of country. At kLab they love Udacity and run study groups where students and former students meet up and learn Python and work on project/homeworks together (they have a demo night tonight in fact.) They also have all sorts of regular meetups for web apps, entrepreneurship etc.

Another thing about Rwanda that is surely affecting their growth and blows many African countries out of the water is they have wired most of the country with Fiber where most have dial up speeds. It is not yet common residentially, but for global businesses to establish a base in East Africa, this is huge. I lived two hours outside the capital in a mud house with out running water inside, but I did have 1-Mbps download (was near a rural, well-financed hospital, but still, it was faster internet than I had in Boston.) This is largely all due to the government there which is a pretty well-oiled machine with a bit of a benevolent dictator, but one who gets things done for the benefit of the country IMHO. Contrast with where I am currently living in West Africa in Sierra Leone where the infrastructure is dismal and there is no kLab type place anywhere. There is a lot less action in the startup/entrepreneurship scene. Bad infrastructure, a long civil war and countless other things feed into this.

In terms of startups...so much of Africa runs on mobile phones (the majority of small amounts of money is transferred via SMS) and most of what I saw in terms of startups was based around Mobile-Social-Local. Not unlike what you see in the US and elsewhere.

randomafrican 3 hours ago 3 replies      
It's still pretty hard to start a business in Africa, period.
Lack of acess to capital, quite represive legal and tax environment, lack of cheap and skilled labour (that translates into expensive skilled labour), infrastructure that is very far from being sufficient (even if it's getting better) and potential constumer that remain quite poor.

So a scene of technology companies is pretty far fetched.

Don't let the growth rates fool you. Most of it is still related to oil, mining, construction and public works.

netcan 53 minutes ago 1 reply      
I imagine brain drain is a huge problem.

Once a startup gets enough success to make relocation accessible, why wouldn't they relocate somewhere easier?

furyg3 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm pretty uninformed about the African startup scene, what are some of the more interesting ones that have had some success?
artsim 3 hours ago 1 reply      
The skill is already there, as evidenced by the large numbers of developers flocking tech hubs such as the iHub in Nairobi.
What is needed is first is angel investors to help projects become startups. It's hard to build a startup on an empty stomach.
Next is successful role models for those in Universities and colleges to emulate.
Zynga sues former CityVille Exec for stealing arstechnica.com
13 points by Deinos  2 hours ago   13 comments top 4
bobsy 2 hours ago 1 reply      
If the accusation is true then I think this case is justified. Zynga have done a lot of things I disagree with. This isn't one of those things.

You can't just copy 760 company files which I assume are not public into your private Dropbox account. It may have been a mistake. It might not. Either way some sort of legal action seems inevitable.

mbreese 38 minutes ago 0 replies      
The implication from the article is that this is part of a new way to keep employees from jumping ship. By making an example of this one, regardless of whether or not they did anything wrong, Zynga makes it less likely other employees would want to jump to another game house. Only Zynga would think of that strategy...
josteink 2 hours ago 7 replies      
Sigh... Remember back in the days when "stealing" used to mean taking something away from someone?

These petty fights are getting tiresome.

omnibobble 1 hour ago 1 reply      
Is there anybody who's surprised by this? Zynga is always suing somebody.
Why becoming a data scientist is not easier than you think josephmisiti.com
159 points by misiti3780  12 hours ago   75 comments top 24
michaelochurch 3 hours ago 5 replies      
I was a math major in college, with a focus on pure math. I did a year or grad school (math PhD program) and left to work on Wall Street (and worked for a couple startups, and Google, in that mix). In all, I spent 6 years as a mix of quant, trader, software engineer, startup entrepreneur, data scientist.

The software engineering career is in somewhat of a mess right now. It comes down to the "bozo bit" problem. Being a software engineer (even with 10+ years of experience, because there are a lot of engineers who only do low-end work and don't learn much) is not enough to clear the bozo bit, and you won't be able to prove that you're good unless you have a major success, and it's hard to have that kind of success without people already trusting you with the autonomy to do something genuinely excellent.

It's not enough to write code, because LoC is a cost and source code is rarely actually read at the large scale. At least for backend developers, the only work-related (as opposed to political) way to establish that you're worth anything as a engineer is to have an architectural success, but it's very hard to have architectural successes unless you've established yourself as an "architect" to begin with. So there's a permission paradox: you can't do it until you've proven you can, and you can't prove you can do it until you've done it. Hence, the vicious politics that characterize software "architecture" in most companies.

Functional programming is one way to put yourself head-and-shoulders above the FactoryFactory hoipolloi. The problem is that most business people don't understand it. They just think Haskell's a weird language "that no one uses". Elite programmers get that you're elite if you know these languages, but most companies are run by people of mediocre engineering ability (and that's often just fine, from a business standpoint).

It is true that functional programming is superior to FactoryFactory business bullshit, but not well-enough known. Good luck making that case to someone who's been managing Java projects for 10 years. What is better known is that mathematics is hard. It's a barrier to entry. I doubt more than 5% of professional programmers could derive linear regression.

So I see the data science path (and yes, it takes a long time to learn all the components, including statistics, machine learning, and distributed systems) as a mechanism through which a genuinely competent software engineer can say, "I'm good at math, and I can code; therefore, I deserve the most interesting work your company can afford to fund." It's a way to keep getting the best work and avoid falling into that FactoryFactory hoipolloi who stop advancing at 25 and are unemployed by 40.

svdad 9 hours ago 3 replies      
I couldn't agree more with this. The ML courses that Ng and Koller teach are really missing a lot of the statistical tools you need to do real-world data mining and ML.

My experience: I had basically zero math background, but I took ML with Ng and probabilistic graphical models with Koller, and later was a TA for Ng's ML class, during my Masters' degree and thought I was all set to go into machine learning jobs. To my surprise, I consistently found myself in interviews stumped by questions from basic stats, particularly significance testing, which people with more traditional stats backgrounds assume is basic knowledge (and it should be), but which wasn't taught in any of my ML classes.

I'm in a job now that involves some machine learning, but the ML component is 50% marshalling data (formatting, cleaning, moving), 40% trying to figure out how to get enough validated training examples, and 10% thinking about the right classifier to use (which someone else already implemented). Which to be honest is not very interesting.

So yeah, becoming a real data scientist is hard, requires a lot more knowledge than you get in one ML course, even from Andrew Ng, and the reality of the work often doesn't make it some dream career. And the competition for jobs isn't from other people who also just took that course -- it's from PhD statisticians and statistical physicists who might have taken one ML class to show them how to use all the mathematical tools they already have to do the new hot thing called machine learning.

greenyoda 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I still don't understand why it's important to have all these areas of expertise embodied in a single person called a "data scientist". Rather than hire one of these rare and expensive people, why couldn't a business hire a statistician and a couple of computer science people and have them work as a team? Given how few data scientists there currently are and the high demand for them, you might even be able to get these three people for less money than one data scientist.

Also, someone who has to constantly shift their attention between statistics and database servers might get less done than somebody who can concentrate on the mathematics and let their co-workers handle the implementation details.

srconstantin 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Look -- as long as "data scientist" is a sexy job title, a lot of different jobs are going to claim they fall under that umbrella. I have an applied math background, and I'm fine with scientific computing, but I have much less experience with databases. I'm a very different candidate than a software engineer who took a machine learning course. Maybe in a few years we'll have more intelligent language for making those distinctions.

It shouldn't be surprising or bad news that some "data scientists" have deeper knowledge than others. We're going through a quantitative revolution -- many fields and industries are nearly untouched by statistical analysis/machine learning, and so there's a lot of low-hanging fruit in going from "nothing" to "something." Even somebody who only knows a little can add value at these margins. But, of course, that won't be true forever -- look at quantitative finance, which is very competitive and requires a lot of education, because the low-hanging fruit was picked in the 90's.

There's room in this world for the statistician, the mathematician, the database engineer, the AI guy, the data visualization expert, the codemonkey who knows a few ML methods, etc.

rjurney 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I think the idea is... at the moment there is this elite few people that actually have the entire skill-set of 'data scientist,' to one degree or another... but we need more of them. And the way to achieve this isn't to say, "Get a decade's experience across an enormous area of math, computer science, domain experience, and then come talk to me." The way to achieve this is to make data science seem more approachable than it is at the moment... in the hopes that it will be more approachable as we build courses like the one you critique.

This of course devalues your own skills, as you are one of the elite few. Unless you start writing textbooks. Which you should do, if you're one of the few. And self-promote like hell. If that course doesn't cover it - what does? Do you acknowledge that in a few years some shortcuts might be possible - that budding data scientists might not need to hae read every book that you have? I bet if you try, you can make your own shortcut in the form of a book.

Which is followed by a link to my own book on this topic, Agile Data: http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920025054.do which attempts to demystify as much as teach.

alexatkeplar 8 hours ago 0 replies      
As someone who writes software for data scientists (https://github.com/snowplow/snowplow) I definitely agree with his analysis. But I would go further: without _domain knowledge_, a data scientist is really just a ETL guy who cleans up big data for the real analysts to make sense of. Applying the whole toolkit to a specific domain (and SaaS B2B looks totally different from supermarket loyalty schemes and from F2P mobile games) is key.
plinkplonk 11 hours ago 3 replies      
"Coursera skipped over Bayesian learning"

This probably needs to be clarified a bit to say that Ng's course skipped this. Daphne Koller's "Probabilistic Graphical Models" (running now at Coursera) covers this in great detail.

Minor tweak in an otherwise nice post.

Homunculiheaded 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe I'm mistaken but I think most of the people interested in becoming 'data scientists' are either currently doing lots of software with an interest in stats, or people doing lots of stats with an interest in software. Given one or the other half of this list is probably already very familiar territory.

I actually found this list encouraging because the things I don't know well on that list are things I'm working on and am aware are holes in my knowledge.

But in the end the reality will always be that the people who are "real" data scientists will be the people that are actually solving real problems whether or not they can check off every bullet point on a check list.

rm999 10 hours ago 0 replies      
As I argued in the comments of "becoming a data scientist might be easier than you think", the attitude that entering the field is easy is dangerous because it is very untrue. I really wish there were more qualified people in the field (do you know how hard it is to hire?), but entering it without the proper knowledge doesn't help anyone.

I'm excited about what the future brings. Many industries has seen the value in data sciences, and Universities are following (see, e.g. Columbia's new data sciences institute).

benhamner 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Well written, but I believe you missed the point of the original article.

No one ever claimed that taking one class made someone an expert "data scientist." Instead, that single class wetted Luis, Jure, and Xavier's (the three competition winners) appetites, and pushed them more to learn more about machine learning and natural language processing. They then went on to dive much deeper, and excelled specifically in one area of applied NLP.

However, without that first class, there's a good chance none of them would have ever focused on (or heard of) machine learning. Their story is growing increasingly common. Like the Netflix Prize, Andrew Ng's first Coursera class did its part in shining a spotlight onto our dark little corner of the universe.

I'd be very cautious about a long checklist of items that are necessary to be a successful data scientist (which is a pretty ill-defined and encompassing term at this point). That is a decent summary of many useful tools of the trade, but they are by no means useful for all problem domains. For example, I could spend years working on machine learning for EEG brain-computer interfaces without a good reason to use databases or "big data" NoSQL technologies. I especially enjoyed MSR's take on the matter in "Nobody ever got fired for using Hadoop on a cluster" http://research.microsoft.com/pubs/163083/hotcbp12%20final.p...

When we're hiring data scientists or seeking successful ones, we've found focusing on demonstrated excellence in one relevant area plus general quantitative competencies and the curiosity and tenacity to learn new tools and techniques works far better than a laundry list of skills and experiences.

Irishsteve 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Replace scientist with analyst and all of a sudden 75% of the people interested in this career path don't care anymore. I don't get the absolute obsession and sexification of a role that has existed for a long long time already.
jnazario 4 hours ago 0 replies      
what's missing from any discussion here or in many of these "this is the new hotness" posts is this: science.

where's the science? it is, after all, a data scientist role. where is learning to do actual science?

what the world's been describing is an analyst or an engineering position, not science. if you don't know how to ask questions, interpret results, structure experiments - then you don't know science, so quit calling yourself a scientist. science involves a rigor of thinking and doing that has been omitted here.

marshallp 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The author clearly has a bias (I'm a data scientist so respect me and pay me a lot). He's then gone on to describe some standard programming and maths skills that a huge number of people have (taught to engineers/scientists/programmers). I'm going to get downvotes and be labeled troll but I just have to plainly disagree. Data science isn't some magic new career field, it's simply the application of standard scientific tools to tables of numbers. As netflix and kaggle competitions have clearly demonstrated, literally anyone from anywhere has a shot at be the best on any particular spreadsheet of numbers (that what it boils down to, (possibly large) spreadsheet of numbers).
Rickasaurus 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Really though, unless you have a strong understanding of both calculus and statistics you'll never be a "data scientist", you'll just be a library jockey.
jkimmel 7 hours ago 0 replies      
I think it's interesting to note the number of professions that may already fulfill a "data science" role, just with a different title. I worked a job where my primary role was data analysis: parsing data with Unix commands, feeding it to classifiers, applying standard algorithms, drawing meaningful conclusions, etc.

Sound familiar? The entire team I worked with had a similar workflow, but we went by life science domain specific titles rather than "data scientist." I'm willing to bet that other professions have similar roles, merely called something else.

I think "data scientists" are out there in the sciences. They just don't go by the latest buzzword.

001sky 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Isn't the real skill for a Data Scientist one of scalability and abstraction, from Data? While its critical to be able to get the data and make it more plastic, for measurement of metrics, real-time pricing, or even various weak-form predictive variables, its ultimately the analysis and understanding that is Critical to monetization/value extraction. And to build a good system for this level of data transparency, you need some good high-level understanding for clarity of vision. There are lots of people good at all manner Quants, but like the interview question, how much complexity can you explain in 5 minutes? is not one all answer equally. The ability to scale from granular detail to abstract levels of organization, meaning, and pattern recognition, are critical to extracting value in these contexts.

Also, its not clear folks are using consistently the term vis a via scale/scope. Consider an anaolgue of knowledge and expertise (real estate example):

L1 Architect>

l2 Contractor>

L3 Sub-contrator>

L4 Builder/Laborer>

Is Data scientist an Architect? Or the person that builds the building? Is he the guy that does the plumbing? Although the up and coming "quantitative system analyst" probably doesn't quite ring the same tune on a biz card. And most refer to lower level quant mastery, eg. social engineering or quantitative finance, as a "black art" not a science. Without a high level vision, the concept/title seems...grandiose, until you get to very extreme levels of skill. And then it makes sense.

theschwa 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I have to really thank you for this article, but it may have had the opposite affect on me. I've always felt like I have a disjointed skill set, but this makes me a bit more confident in looking into this field and it give some good ideas of what I should brush up on. I know this may not be what the author intended, but it's appreciated never the less.
niels_olson 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for validating I have been pursuing the right skill set. I just wish that list existed 20 years ago when I started college. Instead, I have been teaching myself off and on since 1999.
JoelJacobson 4 hours ago 0 replies      
What are the best tools to visualize table data?

I've been testing Tableau, but it's only for Windows and I'm on a Mac.

I'm looking for something which easily connects to your SQL database and allows you to produce all kinds of fancy graphs, with a easy user-interface. Tableau comes close to what I'm looking for, but my gut feeling is there should be a whole bunch of good commercial and free software in this field out there, but my googling haven't gave any good results yet.

So if anyone have any good suggestions, please let me know.

svasan 10 hours ago 0 replies      
While it is not easy to become an expert in any field or pursuit, one should neither overplay the "it is a very hard field / not very easy" argument nor should one underplay the effort involved in becoming good. 10000 hours (equates to roughly 5yrs at 40hrs per week) to expertize seems like a good rule of thumb to keep in mind. Someone said - "The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves."

For any field, one has to provide positive encouragement (and a good platform/set of tools and techniques) to people seeking to get into that field, while being grounded in reality.

pheon 10 hours ago 0 replies      
being a good data scientist is about having enough intuition about the dataset to ask the right question aka form the hypothesis.

working out the question is what makes it a hard(and creative) process, and then you can apply your ML toolbox.

edit: whats different from a data scientist vs analyst/statistican is they build their own tools as the datasets are too massive & non-standard for the usual toolset.

wojt_eu 10 hours ago 0 replies      
What supposed to be a rant turned out to be a nice little list of things worth learning in data analysis field. Thanks!
jiggy2011 10 hours ago 0 replies      
So is there a good middle ground between being a web developer and a data scientist? If so what would be the most useful problems for such a skillset to solve?
samg_ 10 hours ago 1 reply      
If I have learned anything from ml-class, pgm-class, nlp-class, and now neural-nets, is that becoming a data scientist is one of the hardest things I'll ever eventually succeed in doing.
Show HN: The Five Year Itch fiveyearitch.com
75 points by josh_fyi  8 hours ago   22 comments top 10
DigitalSea 5 hours ago 2 replies      
The one thing that annoys me about this, it doesn't work for other countries. It's quite limited in its use, not everyone is from the US and I don't see why it would be that hard to open it up to other parts of the globe. Believe it or not there are software engineers and web developers in Australia as well.
eranation 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
Very nice, I think reversing the job marketplace for tech jobs is a viable need (will only work as long as demand is higher than supply)

however, what really worries me is that you use sendgrid, but still your confirmation email got to my spam folder.

Does this mean that sendgrid.me (what was used in that case) reputation is down?

I strongly suggest that you get your own email IP, you will have low bounce / unsubscribes anyway as you send only transactional emails

(I'm not affiliated or have any relatives in sendgrid)

rheide 56 minutes ago 0 replies      
Really like the implementation, but I really don't like the name. Maybe you should think about renaming it to something less focused on the 'five year' bit.
S_A_P 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I can see this being a sort of "glassdoor.com" as well. It also seems that many people are content making well below market value. Money isnt everything, but being compensated fairly goes a long way with making me feel valued as an employee.
stuaxo 5 hours ago 6 replies      
Wow, five years is quite a long time to be in any job these days!
redguava 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I like the design of the website aesthetically and at first it's what kept my attention.

After reading through the site though, I am not sure the tone/feeling of your site suits your purpose. Looking for a job is a very serious thing, I wonder if your site is a little too comical for your audience/purpose.

For me, it doesn't have the feel of a site I would want to use for job hunting.

efbenson 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Your confirmation email ended up in my gmail spam box. Not sure if its me or gmail.

Other than that I really like the low traction.

lysol 3 hours ago 0 replies      
I think you need a remote employment option.
user24 5 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a really nice approach to job finding. I wonder if the same could be applied to dating websites?
KiwiCoder 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Great concept and nice execution, if I was looking for a job I would give this a try.

One thing to consider; I spent about a minute looking on your site (and on Laudits) for information about you and didn't find anything. So you seem kind of anonymous. You could be a bunch of sniggering recruiters, I don't know.

An Operations Mindset is at Odds with Innovation atomicobject.com
23 points by gvb  4 hours ago   10 comments top 4
NyxWulf 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The arguments advanced against an "Operations mindset" are mostly strawmen. Operations is primarily about efficiently operating an organization towards a goal. The type of thinking advanced in the article however is more likely to be pushed by someone with no operations management training.

For instance, putting people on multiple projects versus single projects. Multi-tasking and context switching cause known losses in efficiency even under the perfect scenario with no startup time. So if you want to emphasize getting projects completed, multi-tasking must go. This is an operations management mindset, though it runs against much current practice.

The points about efficiency are similarly misguided. You don't focus on worker efficiency, operations points you at throughput and global optimization rather than local optimization.

Those however are about focusing on improvements and operations of the current systems. It is true that innovation is different than operations. In the same way that learning to program efficiently in a language is different than inventing a programming language. They are different kinds of things. Many operations principles however can be successfully applied to innovation. For an excellent read on the topic, read "The Principles of Product Development Flow" by Reinertsen.

To get a better understanding of operations in general, and not the hyperbole advanced in the article a good starting place is "The Goal" by Goldratt.

One big revelation I learned while studying operations is that the things that largely drive developers crazy aren't good management practices. They aren't advanced by operations researchers. They are in fact what I always thought they were, bad management practices.

dsr_ 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Yes, and this is why a company really needs two technical teams (at a minimum): developers and sysadmins.

My goal is stability. The dev group's goal is growth. In a very small startup, it's hard to hold both these ideas in your head at the same time. If you don't grow enough, you will never need stability. If you grow enough, you will eventually need stability so that your customers do not desert you. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis: supportable growth.

My ops group meets with devs for discussions of supportability and performance well before the actual handoff. We make sure that monitoring is allowed for from the beginning, that there are processes and documentation that let us fix problems at 3AM or diagnose it well enough to call the right person to fix it.
Performance is checked regularly. Is it time for new hardware? Is it time for a rethink of the architecture to support faster performance or higher scale?

The two forces will be vector-summed. It's important to get it all pointed in a direction and magnitude that leads to success.

cousin_it 2 hours ago 2 replies      
The article makes an interesting testable prediction: in an innovative company, an employee is likely to work on a single project but use many different skills, while in a stagnant company an employee will use few skills but work on multiple projects. Does that sound true?
jnazario 4 hours ago 0 replies      
i only wish i had learned to spot the difference earlier in my career.
Speeding up and running legacy test suites, part 1 spideroak.com
8 points by SODaniel  1 hour ago   discuss
Finding A Development Process For a Small Startup Team stuartkhall.com
20 points by appbot  4 hours ago   7 comments top 4
njharman 2 hours ago 1 reply      
I've been developing professionally ~20yrs, about last ~10yrs been more focused on process, development practices, etc. Not saying I'm an expert, just that I've "been around".

The thing that struck me immediately was focus on tools. Process is not about tools. Tools do not solve problems (believe me as you grow they'll cause many problems).

Figure out* process, only then look for or make the tools that you need. Best to start out with the simplest thing that could possibly work. Which for many is whiteboards or some similar low tech solution.

* you (should) never stop evaluating and improving process. One of the best processes to adopt is "iteration" with bits of evaluation and planning in between.

sausagefeet 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Process process process, Jesus fucking.christ. it's around every.corner now. You know what process works? The ones your developers will do. It's no the same for every developer. I.can't function in Scrum, but my own process works great for me. Some people can't work in my process but function great in Scrum. Whatever the system is just work with your.developers to figure out.how they become happy. So sick of these posts detailing.complicated solutions when sitting down and having a few fucking.conversations with your developers would solve it.</rant>
erdogan 2 hours ago 0 replies      
We use Pivotal Tracker, Skype group chat, TeamViewer, Dropbox, and email. I'm pretty happy with this setup for daily/weekly product development and planning. I do want to give Trello a try though, to keep track of hi-level tasks (e.g. doing research) and on-going brainstorms (e.g. strategic product decisions) that are not immediately tactical/dev tasks. Would love to hear thoughts from people who use Trello or other tools for these purposes.
psycho 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Well, for us "Asana + Facebook chat + Email + Dropbox + Google Docs" works right now. Although, I know that we don't have "a process of a dream", in fact.
I liked this talk about distributed team in Treehouse - http://vimeo.com/47271938 - of course, it's about rather a big company but has interesting points for anyone, I guess (I also liked 4-day workweek idea).
Today is Ada Lovelace Day, celebrating women's achievements in sci/tech/eng/math findingada.com
5 points by jawns  44 minutes ago   discuss
       cached 16 October 2012 16:02:01 GMT