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Nuclear Annihilation by Accident
82 points by sizzle  3 hours ago   47 comments top 16
lotharbot 2 hours ago 5 replies      
The article claims that a nine-megaton blast would wipe out "most of the state of Arkansas". Wikipedia claims the lethal radius on a bomb of that size is about 20 miles for thermal effects (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B53_nuclear_bomb#Effects ), which is around 2% of the area of Arkansas; other effects are described as having an even smaller radius.

I suspect, but cannot prove, the wikipedia number is more likely to be correct.

naz 2 hours ago 2 replies      
> Mathias Rust had flown a rented Cessna, an airplane about the size of a Piper Cub, from Helsinki to Moscow and landed it a hundred yards from Red Square

Are there people that know how big a Cub is, but don't know how big a Cessna is?

Rapzid 18 minutes ago 0 replies      
I wouldn't have thought how trumped up and ludicrous this all was. I was born in 1984, so I really started becoming aware in the bubble that existed after the wall fell and before 9/11. Sure, I read 1984 and Farenhiet 451 but the seemed like commentary about the future, what could become. Apparently they were just as relevant when they were written. Constant war with the "enemy". The threat of attack at any time. Constant fear. All so people could build their little empires inside the military and intelligence communities. Build their bombs. Spend that sweet tax-payer money. Feel important. Lie to the government. The past seemed so legit and so ancient when I was growing up. After 9/11 I had no idea history was repeating itself. Now we have the ever present(statistically ridiculous) threat of "terrorism". The NSA needs more powers, more money; to protect us of course. They WOULD say that because that's how they get more money, more employees, more power. Still lying to the government of course(weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?). Now we have an ex-NSA head launching a venture charging companies 1 million a month to protect them! Of course they'll contract back to government. And the NSA will tell use all about how we don't need to worry about what they are doing, we just need to pay up.


chriswarbo 37 minutes ago 0 replies      
> In 1960, the computer at... NORAD... warned, with 99.9-per-cent certainty, that the Soviets had just launched a full-scale missile attack against North America... They later discovered that the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System at Thule Airbase, in Greenland, had interpreted the moon rising over Norway as a missile attack from Siberia.

This is why numbers shouldn't be reported with too many significant figures. I doubt the engineers thought the reports could be %99.9 certain, given that they're extrapolated from noisy sensors, networked across huge distances and that the opponent is adversarial (actively trying to avoid detection).

Percentages can cause a false sense of certainty too; as Leonard Mlodinow points out in The Drunkard's Walk about changing wine ratings from out-of-10 to percentages. We might be quite sure that an 8/10 compares favourably to a 7/10 but not to a 9/10; we can't say the same about an %82 with an %83 and an %81.

If you're forced to report percentages, or tenths of a percent, write the estimated error alongside. Raw numbers like "%99.9" have an implied "+/- %0.05" afterwards.

And that, ladies and gentlement, is why Die Hard 4.0 contains too many many significant figures.

runarb 2 hours ago 2 replies      
Nuclear bomb security may have be less advanced than we were lead on to believe. For example British nuclear bombs were armed by turning a bicycle lock key: "British nukes were protected by bike locks" - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7097101.stm .

If one puted that in a movie plot I think few would believe it.

mobiplayer 1 hour ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised the article doesn't mention when in 1966 the US dropped 4 nuclear bombs off the Spanish coast. It was, of course, an accident but I've always felt it was pretty serious:


100k 3 hours ago 1 reply      
I read "Command and Control" on vacation this summer and I highly recommend it. It interweaves jaw-dropping nuclear weapon disasters from the whole nuclear age with a detailed account of one particular incident. It's astonishing how close we've come to accidental nuclear detonation (and then what happens?). That's really the point of the book: it's a matter of when, not if.
Spearchucker 1 hour ago 1 reply      
This is my problem with the American and Russian government - actually any government - they play games. Stupid, myopic and arrogant idiots who see life other than their own on this planet as a thing to be toyed with. Intellectually they're little better than teenagers.

Machiavelli's blueprint smothers the benevolence of the Ghandis, the Tutus and the Mandelas. A populace too absorbed in day-to-day survival is in no position to change the status quo. Depressing.

mootothemax 2 hours ago 1 reply      
The UK's leaders wrote "Letters of last resort" to their nuclear submarine commanders, explaining what to do if the government was destroyed:


It's terrifying that nuclear war was considered likely enough to do this.

aaronbrethorst 2 hours ago 2 replies      
From reading the article, I get the sense that the best thing working in our[1] favor was having a series of relatively steady, not crazy hands on the nuclear football, on both sides. It's still incredibly frightening that the annihilation of the human race was literally placed in the hands of two people at any given time, but a testament to the capability of the Soviet Politburo and the American political system to elect capable human beings.

[1] i.e. the human race

Rapzid 2 hours ago 1 reply      
"...the American public was regularly frightened by warnings about the dangers of a nuclear attack that was always made to appear imminent"

Not much has changed.

rtpg 2 hours ago 1 reply      
>And the missile was armed. Schlosser says that the explosive force of the warhead on a Titan II is nine megatons, which is three times the force of all the bombs dropped in the Second World War, including the atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. If it had detonated, most of the state of Arkansas would have been wiped out.

That is the scariest thing I have read in a while. I always had the impression that there were a lot of active steps in a bomb actually exploding.

danso 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
Jesus Christ...what a thing to read if you needed to not fall asleep for awhile. I think this is a perfect real-life example of Hanlon's Razor, "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity"...the whole world has nearly been annihilated, several times over, due to most inexplicably benign human errors...and that's not even counting the errors of bureaucracy (such as the misreporting of Russian nuke capability, which let military officials press the need for an absurd number of excess warheads).

Also, this is the first time I can remember that I've ever seen a correction in a New Yorker article.

myrandomcomment 1 hour ago 2 replies      
How hard is it to report facts.

"The plane split in two, the base was evacuated, and the fire burned for two and a half hours. But the explosives in the warhead didnt detonate; that would have set off a chain reaction."

This statement seems to imply the bomb would have went off, which is just not true. The physics just do not work that way.

sidcool 50 minutes ago 0 replies      
A very fascinating article.
trhway 2 hours ago 0 replies      
nah... we'll collapse our civilization slowly by turning into one big always connected ant colony hidden in concrete from the overheated unfriendly environment
Show HN: Markov chains explained visually
797 points by vicapow  17 hours ago   76 comments top 36
tigroferoce 8 minutes ago 0 replies      
Great explanation! Very easy. It could be perfect if you added some easy to understand real life examples to play with.
jgable 16 hours ago 2 replies      
Beautiful. I had seen Markov chains mentioned before, but had not looked them up. Skimming the wikipedia page made sense (it's a state machine with transitions determined by probabilities instead of defined events), but I would not have had an intuitive understanding of why they are useful. The explanation mid-way down about modeling the distribution of sunny and rainy days really made it click for me.
richcuteguy34 11 hours ago 1 reply      

Here's a model of chutes and ladder using Markov http://www.datagenetics.com/blog/november12011/index.html

And another for Candylandhttp://www.datagenetics.com/blog/december12011/index.html

cscheid 16 hours ago 1 reply      
This is really nice.

Minor nit #1: https://www.dropbox.com/s/2meqa8hhen9ztba/Screenshot%202014-... Seems like the graph visualization is sticking to the wrong coordinates (dragging it to the left doesn't help; it moves back to the center)

Minor nit #2. I'd love to see a visualization of the "probability mixing" interpretation of markov chains and stationary distributions, which is what PageRank is really about. That is, it'd be really nice to have a visualization of the fact that Markov chains are ultimately memoryless (it eventually doesn't matter in which state you start for the distribution of events). I think it could be done by exchanging "probabilities conditioned on the past", which is most easily done by multiplying the entire probability vector by the stochastic matrix and visualizing that.

murbard2 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Now look up Hidden Markov models, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidden_Markov_model

How they can be calibrated in the finite casehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baum%E2%80%93Welch_algorithm

And how they can be evaluated for arbitrary modelshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Particle_filter

itodd 16 hours ago 0 replies      
This is fantastic. I have encountered markov chains in my career and always thought of them as a black box. This simple visualization makes it so easy to understand what has previously been so hard for me. Thank you.
tel 14 hours ago 0 replies      
The one thing to add to this is that usually each state doesn't emit a single token ("I am in state 1" then "I am in state 2") but instead you assume that each state has a range of possible actions and the likelihood of a choice of action varies with state.

So if might not be that your model is sunny versus rainy but instead cold front v warm front. Since rain is more likely during a cold front your observation of rain increases your belief that the system is in the "cold front" state.

sinwave 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Thought I'd point out a little typo. In your table with sliders for adjusting probabilities of state transitions, the P(B|B) probability reads "P(B|A)".

Edit 1: Also, P(A|B) reads "P(A|A)".

Edit 2: Not trying to be too nitpicky, though. It's a really nice visualization. Really excited about the growing use of d3 to visualize algorithms. Is this inspired by Mike Bostock's post by that title?

ajanuary 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Presumably in the B row it should read "P(A|B)" and "P(B|B)"
beenpoor 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Thank you! I understood what Markov Chains are now. Nicely done and in a simple understandable fashion.

I am also trying to understand what they call Hidden Markov Model (specifically, I just cannot wrap my head around how it gets used in speech. They just look like entirely different things). Would be awesome to see an update with the Hidden MM.

vicapow 5 hours ago 1 reply      
There was a bug in the playground earlier that I just fixed that allows you to share your Markov chains via the url hash. For example: http://setosa.io/markov/#%7B%22tm%22%3A%5B%5B0.9%2C0.1%2C0%2...
dekhn 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Back when I was in college (~20 years ago) I was struggling to understand generative models, and I asked my CS professor.

he said, "imagine god is sitting around emitting DNA sequences. She has sevearl 4-sided biased dice, rolls one of the 4-sided die, BAM, emit an A! Again, roll the die, BAM, emit a A! Roll again, BAM, emit a T! Now, imagine god is a fickle person, and between rolls, decides to roll a die to decide which of the biased die to roll.

For some reason, that helped.

saganus 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice! I've never had to work with Markov chains but I've read about them and they seem to pop up in lots of places.

Nice and simple and interactive explanation.

jesuslop 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Gian Carlo Rota is always a pleasure to quote, despite he knowing it. One from his reminiscence about Jack Schwartz, in his "Indiscrete Thoughts" Book (TL;DR: Markov Chains seen as random maps):

The first lecture by Jack I listened to was given in the spring of 1954 in a seminar in functional analysis. A brilliant array of lecturers had been expounding throughout the spring term on their pet topics. Jack's lecture dealt with stochastic processes. Probability was still a mysterious subject cultivated by a few scattered mathematicians, and the expression "Markov chain" conveyed more than a hint of mystery. Jack started his lecture with the words, "A Markov chain is a generalization of a function." His perfect motivation of the Markov property put the audience at ease. Graduate students and instructors relaxed and followed his every word to the end.

Beuatiful visualizations.

granttimmerman 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I created a Markov chain generator: https://gist.github.com/grant/561834963dc526495c45

var numNodes=10;var roundNum=100;var a=[];for(var i=0;i<numNodes;++i){var connections=[];var sum=0;for(var j=0;j<numNodes;++j){var randNum=Math.random()/numNodes;randNum=Math.round(randNumroundNum)/roundNum;connections[j]=randNum;sum+=randNum}connections=connections.map(function(e){var t=e(1/sum);t=Math.round(troundNum)/roundNum;return t});sum=connections.reduce(function(e,t){return e+t});connections[numNodes-1]+=1-sum;connections[numNodes-1]=Math.round(connections[numNodes-1]roundNum)/roundNum;a[i]=connections}console.log(JSON.stringify(a))

Copy and paste the output into the side bar.

devindotcom 13 hours ago 5 replies      
I've seen Markov chains applied to language generation - producing sentences that make sense grammatically but not literally. Anyone know what the connection is here? I think I have an idea but would like to see if it gets independently verified by someone else.
lynchdt 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This is really cool, nice work.
dnautics 16 hours ago 1 reply      
This is really great, but could you put in a bit how some transition matrices aren't markov (e.g. [0 1; 1 0]) and the convergence criterion where you can take M^n n->infinity and get the occupancy of the states?
bdavisx 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Great! It would be nice to be able to stop the animations though, they are distracting while you are trying to read the text.

The sunny/rainy probability example is perfect as a scenario.

CharlesMerriam1 16 hours ago 0 replies      
Very nice concept; a mvp

Just on first glance:1. first diagram and others, ball jumps from beginning of BtoA arc to B without sliding along the arc.

2. second diagram box was no P(B|B). That is boxes are mislabeled.

3. strange, but arcs are sometimes at an angle. It appears to happen if they are scrolled to, but no if drawn on the initial screen.

4. while the R S on the next diagram does settle to a steady state, it starts with random Rs and Ss marching across at random rates.

Good Start!

kevinwang 13 hours ago 1 reply      
That's pretty cool. The markov chain diagrams seem very similar (identical?) to deterministic finite automota. Would it be correct or incorrect to say that a Markov Chain can be thought of as a DFA where the changes in state are determined by probability?
lnkmails 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I would not "require" people to know Markov chains but I am usually surprised how many programmers have no idea what it is and how it works and how it can be used. It is a very powerful tool to model queues which is something most distributed systems deal with :).
lobotryas 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Has anyone thought about or attempted to model game AI with Markov Chains instead of decision trees? Ex: NPCs, wildlife or enemies that use Markov Chains to react to their surroundings.
skriticos2 15 hours ago 0 replies      
This totally reminds me of SpaceChem on higher levels (puzzle game for programmers).
romaniv 14 hours ago 0 replies      
nabeelahmed13 13 hours ago 3 replies      
This is at a tangent, but I'm a fresh CS undergrad and this simple explanation really hooked me.

So my question is, where can I find more of this stuff? MOOCs are tough to manage with university, but if I wanted to learn more about these mathematical concepts presented in an interesting way, where should I start looking?

I'm a tad bit indecisive about how good I am with CS theory but I know if I took the leap and mastered some basics I would enjoy it. Any recommendations will help.

granttimmerman 13 hours ago 0 replies      
_raoulcousins 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Can I use this for my class? Creative commons with attribution?
lewis500 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Man the text is really well written! Am I right, everyone?
_nullandnull_ 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Beautiful. What did you use to create the graphics?
Max_Horstmann 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Very cool. Would love to see this generalized to an interactive visualization of Markov Decision Processes (MDPs).
hyperliner 15 hours ago 1 reply      
"For example, the algorithm Google uses to determine the order of search results, called PageRank, is a type of Markov chain."

I had to research that to understand it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PageRank

Here is some key text from Wikipedia:

Google recalculates PageRank scores each time it crawls the Web and rebuilds its index. As Google increases the number of documents in its collection, the initial approximation of PageRank decreases for all documents.

The formula uses a model of a random surfer who gets bored after several clicks and switches to a random page. The PageRank value of a page reflects the chance that the random surfer will land on that page by clicking on a link. It can be understood as a Markov chain in which the states are pages, and the transitions, which are all equally probable, are the links between pages.

If a page has no links to other pages, it becomes a sink and therefore terminates the random surfing process. If the random surfer arrives at a sink page, it picks another URL at random and continues surfing again.

Pinn2 11 hours ago 0 replies      
The problem with Markov chains is that they are named after a person, which makes math seem more like a "private club". For instance, why use "abelian group", when "commutative group" will do? The reasons for wanting to be a member of an exclusive group are psychological.
suchetchachra 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent visualization!
dolom 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Really cool: well done!
mrcactu5 15 hours ago 0 replies      
can I fork these?
What will I look like?
21 points by omnibrain  2 hours ago   10 comments top 7
johnchristopher 33 minutes ago 2 replies      
It would be really nice to add the option to select metric units.
rikkus 20 minutes ago 0 replies      
Could do with some explanation, e.g.:

Set the sliders to a range around your own height and weight. You will be shown pictures of people who are within the height range, and have (at least at one time) had a weight within the weight range.

omnibrain 11 minutes ago 0 replies      
I "found" this on reddit and think it's pretty neat. The creator spoke up in that thread and I try to point him to this thread so he can see the suggestions.
Octplane 10 minutes ago 0 replies      
rbinv 31 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is pretty cool. Maybe add the total pounds lost for each entry? Also, it's not clear that "weight range" refers to "before", not after.
EToS 32 minutes ago 0 replies      
I think this is a great way to gain motivation, especially when your seeing slow weight loss running 30+ kilometers a week etc..
gambiting 19 minutes ago 1 reply      
Could we please change that to metric units? I have absolutely no idea what my weight and height are in feet and pounds.
Free, Worldwide, Encrypted Phone Calls for iPhone
339 points by david_shaw  16 hours ago   175 comments top 32
autodidakto 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Please authenticate with something that's not a phone number! I guess that's the simplest for most people (look at WhatsApp), but the reason why I use things like Signal is because I despise cell carriers. I'd like to use this on a (cheaper) non-cellular device (for myself and family members).

The Holy Grail of Secure Communications: Group Encrypted Text, Voice, and Video. Right now, Skype gives you the unholy grail, but you get all three (+group). I wish Open Whisper Systems luck.

FredericJ 14 hours ago 4 replies      
Hey,I'm the co-lead developer of Signal.We're looking for help with translations, help us out to bring Signal to as many people as possible: https://www.transifex.com/projects/p/signal-ios/We also pay per commit if you want to help on Open Whisper Systems projects: http://bithub.whispersystems.org/
david_shaw 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Many people are already familiar with Moxie Marlinspike's WhisperSystems because of their Android apps: RedPhone for encrypted calls, and TextSecure for SMS messages.

The release of Signal is a pretty big deal for iOS users; previously, we had to consider a paid option like Silent Circle, or a larger corporate option like FaceTime Audio (which isn't really the same).

Although I haven't actually used the app yet (it's registering now), the screenshots appear to be a fairly direct port of RedPhone to iOS.

Edit: Yep! And it looks like Signal users can make secure calls to contacts with RedPhone installed, too. Very nice.

eggbrain 16 hours ago 3 replies      
It's great that we have more privacy options for phone calls, texts, etc. But we still need a great "Privacy" phone, right?

There's been attempts to do so recently (Blackphone, PrivacyPhone), but both have suffered from the same fault: a binary blob for the baseband, something that renders all your privacy moot. I've heard the best recommendation is a tablet + USB LTE dongle, to put some space between the two processors ("firewalling" the baseband processor a bit).

Is there a better way than this? Has anyone kinda walked through all the steps neccesary to have a private/"secure" phone?

That being said, congratulations to Whisper Systems -- their work on things like TextSecure and Redphone have been awesome. I hope one day they do a Kickstarter for a whole secure mobile operating system.

rdl 15 hours ago 4 replies      
Why is the App Store application search process so horrible? I agree, "Signal" and "Whisper" are bad things to have to search for, but there's basically no way to enter a simple memorable text string in the store and get the right app.

I ended up using a browser on the phone to go to the HN article to go to the right app store link.

I can't believe this hasn't been solved.

dan_bk 3 hours ago 0 replies      
How can you trust a product promising privacy when it runs on a closed-source platform (that is further also known to collect data on the user and to be prone to government surveillance)?

Real privacy is only possible on platforms that are 100% open-source.

StavrosK 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I wanted to donate $5 to BitHub using Bitcoin, but Coinbase's overlay doesn't allow you to change the amount (typing a new amount in does nothing). Does anyone know of a way around this?

Moxie, if you see this, can you publish some static address we can send funds to as well?

rbcgerard 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Who is Riddle Quiet Ventures, LLC? They appear to be the "seller in the App Store"
eliteraspberrie 15 hours ago 3 replies      
It would be nice if the server software were open source as well.

Call routing information, like all metadata, can only be protected legally not cryptographically. So it's not something I trust to people outside Canada, no matter how much esteem I have for them.

13throwaway 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Great job guys! I'm a big fan of what whisper systems is doing. Why is this not called redphone though? Does it have different features?

Edit: Looks like the article says it is part of a plan to merge redphone and textsecure.

dm2 14 hours ago 3 replies      
I wish they had text messaging. I've been waiting so long for this and it lacks the major feature we need! Hopefully it'll come soon.

The reason why this is important these days is that law enforcement now has more access (because the technology is cheaper) to fake cell towers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stingray_phone_tracker

Many states are denying FOIA requests regarding this spying but there are several news stories from this year of data obtained from these fake "towers" being used in court. They can be put in vans or just be near people or be used at any large gathering of people.

I used an Android phone with RedPhone and this Signal app with iOS and it works perfectly. Very well done! Need encrypted text messaging ASAP!

They are also saying TextSecure and RedPhone will be merged into Signal. That'll be great!

I will gladly donate to this company if they will increase the speed of development.

Question: If my phone has a limited amount of minutes and I have RedPhone or Signal and I call someones phone who doesn't have one of these programs, does that use my minutes or does it only use Data (or WiFi)?

chmars 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Why is Signal (the app) free? What's the business model?
guelo 13 hours ago 0 replies      
These guys are doing amazing high-quality work. I'm really amazed that they can pull it off with volunteers and donations. There are very few examples of polished front-end apps in the open source world.
n6mac41717 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I installed it on my iPhone. I'm able to discover and call friends that have RedPhone, but they can't see me. Is that a feature or a bug :P
supernova87a 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe a stupid question, but is the app sending this encrypted voice over the cellular channel, or is it making a data connection independent of the phone?

Also, on a different point, if I were trying to eavesdrop on someone's conversation, I would probably just try to hack the microphone with a different / already loaded app...

trounce 12 hours ago 0 replies      
As soon as I registered, I started getting "No Caller ID" phone calls every few minutes from some unknown person speaking Chinese (which I don't speak). This is pretty annoying, to say the least.

There doesn't seem to be any way to deregister your phone number? So what now?

hruan 13 hours ago 2 replies      
"Signal uses your existing number, doesnt require a password, and leverages privacy-preserving contact discovery to immediately display which of your contacts are reachable with Signal."

How does contact discovery work? What happens when run on a device without a (valid) SIM?

zz1 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Does anyone know what the userbase of Redphone is? Is it the same as Textsecure (around 10 milions)?
girvo 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Ahhhh I'm so excited for this, but it's not in the Australian store and I can't change it to US as I have an iTunes Match sub :( Any ETA on when it'll be here?
__david__ 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This seems really neat. I tried it on an iOS 8 device and it hung on the verification screen. Is anyone else seeing that?
jtfairbank 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Congrats Jake and the WhisperSystems crew! :D Can't wait to see you in a few weeks bud.
nardi 15 hours ago 5 replies      
Um. Isn't encrypted calling on iPhones already provided by FaceTime Audio?
alt_f4 11 hours ago 0 replies      
When the client device is compromised (and we know that iOS is [1]), it doesn't matter how secure the link is. If I were a sophisticated attacker and wanted to listen to your conversation, I could just tap your mic and audio output.

[1] https://pentest.com/ios_backdoors_attack_points_surveillance...

motyar 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Teligram should add this feature.
mahyarm 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Next step, no phone number required for accounts!
felix 15 hours ago 2 replies      
Curious why this is different than RedPhone - same company, same product(?), diff't platform - why not keep app branding?
scottlocklin 5 hours ago 0 replies      
"What could possibly go wrong?" I mean, besides the fact that it runs on iphones.
clarkm 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Is anyone else having trouble registering the app? I'm not receiving a SMS validation code.
snitko 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Distributing secure text/voice/video calls app through an app store of any kind is by definition not secure. Give me an .apk
higherpurpose 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Will we eventually get video calling, too? (especially in the browser version, perhaps by using a more secure version of WebRTC?)

Also, I suggest dropping SMS support, and going "data-only" for the new Signal. Or at the very least disable all SMS/MMS stuff by default, and only leave them as opt-in options in settings. Don't even prompt users about it, because most will say yes, without really knowing what they're doing, and that the app will start eating SMS credits without realizing.

But really, you should just drop it. I mean look how successful Whatsapp is, and doesn't have any SMS support, let alone an end-to-end encrypted one.

frequentflyeru 15 hours ago 3 replies      
Next round of Edward Snowden leaks: "NSA created and funded 'open whisper systems' as a way to get people to think their calls were encrypted when in reality calls went straight to the NSA..."
lazyjones 1 hour ago 2 replies      
Nice try, but pointless and snake oil, since the iPhone is not a secure device.

Try building a secure device that users "own" first, then spend effort on building secure services on top.

I created my own MMO and lost 100 pounds
269 points by dshankar  14 hours ago   107 comments top 19
arrrg 13 hours ago 6 replies      
Ha, Ive done similar things, but Im still in the middle of it, 62 pounds in to be exact, thats about the half-way point.

The key component turned out to be the scale for me. Automatic tracking works much better for me than manually keeping track of it. (I also got a Withings scale, but I dont think the brand matters. As long as the scale automatically logs everything without you having to do anything or even look how much you weigh in the morning its great.) Seeing your whole progress in one graph really helps me keep on track.

A week without progress even though you did all the exercise you always do and ate like you always do? With the trend-line and the chart going all the way back you can easily see that its just a statistical anomaly, most likely random noise (probably mostly dependent on when you drank your water and when you went to the toilet). It doesnt mean progress has stopped.

That 2lb setback, probably because I wasnt careful about what I eat? Now I look back all the way I have come and those 2lbs seem harmless. Thats a ridiculously tiny amount of weight to lose. Its so easy. Just some extra care to what I eat and how active I am and Im all set.

With manual tracking (mostly memorising what I weighed and remembering it the next day) I would at these points just get afraid of the scale and eventually stop weighing myself. The whole process was less transparent with manual tracking and the automatically logging scale demystified it for me. During my previous attempts weeks without any progress just doomed me and got me to this really dark place. No Im not even bothered by them. The trend-line is going down. Always.

Now, step counters may not be accurate or even a good way to track how active you are (and walking or cardio may not the best ways to aid weight loss) but the built-in step counter in my iPhone that I have always with me (plus my podcast addiction and the beautiful weather this summer) actually lead me to automatically want to beat those 10,000 steps per day. And at some point I just started doing it. I think there isnt one day during the last two months where I didnt walk at least 9,000 steps per day, without even consciously deciding to do that. I just wanted to beat those 10,000 steps. I want to see the bar turn green and the 10,000 to light up. That has helped me tremendously to stay active (and not just move less when I started eating less).

I also started driving the ergometer for 30 minutes every day and while I dont really track that Im seeing my progress (I can drive with more and more resistance and without any breaks in-between) also with my scale. The heart rate measurement doesnt work so well (it fails two times out of three) but it also shows steady downward progress. From a resting heart rate in the high 80s Im now down to a healthy one in the low 60s. I also feel much better and sleep much better. (This would certainly be beneficial for me, even without any weight loss.)

All this progress also motivates me to constantly optimise. Next step: Buy good shoes and convert some of that walking distance into running distance. (70 minutes of walking per day are a bit long, but doable. However, with some running I can bring that time down.)

(The eating story is similar. I dont particularly care about what I eat, but when you restrict how much you eat you will automatically tend to prefer food that makes you feel fuller. Thats at least how it was for me so far. I dont want to eat pasta every day because then I wouldnt ever feel full. And when I do eat pasta I would rather make the portion a bit smaller and add a salad for the saved calories to feel fuller.)

Will it work? Ask me in three years. I hope so. I think keeping up my weighing routine forever will be the key. If I can do that I see no reason why I cant keep at it and at least hold my weight (but most likely lose some more and hold the weight I want to have). Im cautiously optimistic. This is the most weight I have ever lost in my life and the longest I have been at it and I dont even feel constantly starving or demotivated or crushed (something that was common during previous attempts). I actually feel great most of the time.

Get tracking! It helped me.

SoftwareMaven 13 hours ago 2 replies      
I went the exact opposite route. After losing 180 pounds via bariatric surgery and then regaining 70 of it, I dove into the science. I read books, but only books that pointed directly to scientific literature I could read. More importantly, I learned how to differentiate good nutrition studies from bad nutrition studies (hint: at least 90% of nutrition studies are bad) so I could tell when an conclusion is warranted by the data versus when it isn't. I also started completely ignoring anything said in the media, since, invariably, they get it wrong or they hype the afore-mentioned bad studies. Everything became about the science and the n=1 experiments.

What I found was that I could lose weight without effort, improve every health marker, and enjoy the foods my body really seemed to desire (as opposed to foods engineered to cause cravings). The 70 pounds disappeared without any tracking of anything[1]. More importantly, that 70 pounds was gone a year ago, and maintaining the loss has been just as straightforward.

I applaud anybody who finds the method that works for them. It's pretty clear our bodies are striving to be healthy and get what they need; once you find that, the rest comes relatively easy.[2]

1. There was some early tracking as I learned about different foods and how they interacted with me and my goals.

2. Unfortunately, some people lost the genetic lottery (less than you might think) or are so metabolically disturbed (becoming more and more) that it isn't always easy. I have a huge amount of respect for those who persevere through that and work towards a healthier life.

fivedogit 14 hours ago 13 replies      
I want to upvote this a dozen more times. I've always thought MMOs could "hack" the brain into doing all sorts of cool, productive things.

Somebody needs to create an MMO for language learning. Instead of "go kill 12 dragons" the questgiver would say "matar a 12 dragones" or "matar a 12 dragones verdes" or "matar al dragn en la cima de la montaa". The immersion and addiction would have hardcore players speaking 10 languages, I guarantee it.

And I think this could be extended to quantifiable human-necessary tasks, too. Like a mechanical turk, but fun.

brohoolio 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Good inspiring article.

I recently added 3 rules to my life.

1.) No pop2.) Track calorie intake via loseit3.) Exercise everyday (even if it's just a 10 minute walk or some pushups)

Two weeks in and I feel way better. I find that I'm trying to control my calorie intake and get it where it needs to be without exerting as much effort as I would be if I was simply counting calories to lose weight. I find that I'm doing more than the minimum in terms of exercise too just because I'm already doing some exercise.

At least I found having rules helped me not push off weight loss until next week forever.

frankcaron 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Figures that I submit this for karma myself eons ago but it only now, via another HNer, pops to the top. :)

- The fat MMO guy

jebus989 13 hours ago 2 replies      
British guy problems but I thought someone was blogging about a very small financial loss on a game they made. lbs would help.
funkyy 12 hours ago 4 replies      
I am actually testing the 1 day fasting diet, exercising every day (either speed walking 5K, jogging for 5K or tennis) and limiting liquid calories.

The things people forget:-your body is unable to calculate liquid calories (pop, juices etc) - so even after drinking 2K calories in Cola you can be still hungry

-fasting for 1 day a week (200-300 intake in sugars calories like sugar tea) or 2 days a week (500 calories in fruit sugars a day) is extremely healthy as for first 24 hours since eating your body will use gathered sugars in your body to maintain itself burning all the nasty stuff logging your veins and stomach. This also helps you to say no to food - next day after fasting you wont feel like extremaly hungry and even very small meals through the day will be enough to you

-track calories - but be honest, always round it up DOWN to full 50s and 100s.

-calculate calories weekly, not daily. Make sure on the end of the week you are good. Start Monday with fasting - you will have 1,500-2,000 calories deficit already so basically you can eat most of stuff through the week.

I have lost already 10 pounds in 4 weeks, I can run easily and I feel much better. 2 more months and I am done!

restlessmedia 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It's the guiding principal behind weight watchers. If you get into the habit of at least noticing what you are eating, you'll give yourself the opportunity to accept/deny it. The points system for weight watchers is genius and removes the complexity around nutrition as long as you how many points that thing your eating contains.
4ndr3vv 1 hour ago 0 replies      
This title was very confusing for an Englishman.
smegel 6 hours ago 2 replies      
> The idea is to track everything you take in and track what you spend through exercise.

Wouldn't it just be easier to weigh yourself once a week, and if your weight goes up, eat less calories the following week and/or do more exercise? Unless your memory is that bad, or your eating patterns that random, it should not be hard to cut out things you know are high calorie and you can do without.

caster_cp 11 hours ago 1 reply      
This is genius. Really. In my mind you've just "jiu jitsued" the candy bars, by applying the same mechanisms they use to keep you hooked, but against them. By creating habits that are prone to compulsive behavior (the phenomenon at play when you want to check your diet data is the same as when a teen checks his/her Facebook/WhatsApp/Whatever for messages).The surprising thing here is that you could keep this going long enough until it actually became a habit (or so I suppose). This is the trick, and I couldn't figure out what made you keep it so (willpower may be the answer here, but s there any other thing going on?) Anyways, kudos, you data aficionado diet jiu jitsu guy :D
thret 10 hours ago 0 replies      
I'm surprised nobody has linked the obligatory xkcd yet: http://xkcd.com/189/

I think about this every time I run.

frankcaron 12 hours ago 1 reply      
For the record, and for those asking for this to be a real game, FitRPG for iOS is planning to deliver on some of that very notion. It's a super cool app; and I say that with absolutely no affiliation (srs). Google it.
nathan_f77 12 hours ago 0 replies      
This is exactly what I'm doing, down to the MFP app and the Withings scale. The results have been amazing so far, and I look forward to writing a similar blog post by the end of the year.
MichaelTieso 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I imagine a future where we will be able to track everything we eat automatically without having to enter any data in onto an app. Imagine seeing data about your body right on your arm. I eat a sandwich and it tells me exactly how many calories it was. I'll be the first to signup for something like this if/when this comes out.
norswap 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Ah, I'd actually hoped he had coded a real MMO. Well, congratulations to him in any case.
MichaelDickens 12 hours ago 0 replies      
In case the site isn't loading for anyone else: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:www.pol...
eru 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Switching from World of Warcraft to Ingress can also help with fitness and weightloss.
Mz 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Good for him. Though I was hoping he had actually created an MMO. This is kind of a metaphorical MMO, not a real one.
Pinboard 2014 Expenses
150 points by hodgesmr  12 hours ago   58 comments top 14
patio11 4 hours ago 1 reply      
He runs a really, really right ship. Off the top of my head I think the SaaS budget alone at my companies is larger than that.

That said, by the standards of physically extant businesses, it is ridiculous how far you can get on $1k or $2k a month.

lreeves 11 hours ago 1 reply      
I've read so many terrible budget spreadsheets that I first I assumed it was all in thousands. Nice work on keeping the costs down!
timme 1 hour ago 0 replies      
still happy i paid for pinboard a while ago.

the "no-nonsense, speed first" policy and the fact that it's actually being executed are my favorite things about the service.

continuations 10 hours ago 3 replies      
They use Hetzner for dedicated servers, slicehost for VPS, 2 colocation services, and AWS cloud.

For a relatively small site, why do they need so many different hosting providers?

daturkel 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Pinboard is one of a few services I happily pay for. Honestly, I'd probably pay a subscription price for it. I've got 1041 bookmarks, it's fast, searches and tags flawlessly, the unread functionality is super useful, and I've got some (unofficial?) android app that makes it a snap to use with my phone. Keep up the great work.
aroman 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Is it me, or does $60-70/month for DNS seem pretty high?
esusatyo 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Maciej finally bought an iPhone! When I met him last year in Australia he uses his 15" laptop to check his tweets.
zrail 11 hours ago 2 replies      
This is great information on just how little it takes to run a service like Pinboard, with hundreds of thousands of active users, on your own hardware. Just imagine how much more it would cost on Heroku or even AWS, just so you can avoid having to think about ops.
trevmckendrick 9 hours ago 1 reply      
About how much were the AWS expenses before moving to your own servers?
kbar13 11 hours ago 0 replies      
slicehost? :)
imaginenore 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Don't confuse Pinboard with Pinterest, which is thousands times bigger.

Pinterest active monthly users: 60 million

Pinboard active monthly users: 24 thousand

linklet 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm building a bookmark site as well and I'm looking for seed users.

If you have a such need, please try https://linklet.io/

It's not officially released yet so there might have problems.

Amazon/Hachette Business Interruption
122 points by jamesmoss  10 hours ago   79 comments top 13
IgorPartola 5 hours ago 8 replies      
While I believe they saw these numbers, specifically that lowering the price from $15 to $10 lead to a 74% increase in purchases, I don't believe that this is a good general rule of thumb. Here's the problem: there are only so many potential ebook readers out in the world, and they only have so much time. This means there will be market saturation at some point, or at least market movement. This elasticity is there, for sure, but the relationship between price and purchases is not going to stay the same, especially as everyone follows this advice. Basically, everyone will price their books at $10 and the playing field will be level. Then the advice will be to price your book at $7. Then at $5. Then at $2. Then at $0.99 cents. This is the problem we currently see with Apple's App store and the Google Play Store: too many apps, all priced similarly. For most apps, and probably for most ebooks it would almost be better to go in the exact opposite direction: one sale at $1000 is better than 10 sales at $1.

Also, why would Amazon care so much about how others market their content, to the point of trying to interfere? If your content is not worth $15, then nobody will buy it. If you suck at marketing, nobody will know to buy your (possibly great content). Why does Amazon get its hands dirty instead of simply giving you analytics-backed suggestions? Oh, that's right, because controlling the publishers is more profitable for them, and using their market position as leverage against publishers is a great way to do so.

krschultz 7 hours ago 4 replies      
For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000.

That seems like a hard won data point, I'm surprised they threw it out to the public domain. It makes intuitive sense to me though. I buy a lot of ebooks and when they're really cheap I just buy them immediately rather than track them somewhere to go and purchase when I have time to read them later. My kindle has probably a half dozen books to read on it at the moment, and I imagine if they were $20-30 each I wouldn't be that flippant about it.

ghshephard 6 hours ago 3 replies      
While I buy into many of the arguments being made here, Some of these points don't make sense. For example,

". And that 74% increase in copies sold makes it much more likely that the title will make it onto the national bestseller lists. (Any author who's trying to get on one of the national bestseller lists should insist to their publisher that their e-book be priced at $9.99 or lower.)"

Well, that's all well and good until everyone prices their e-books at $9.99 or lower, at which point we're back to square one. Unless the objective is to then have people who want a leg up to price their books at $8.99...

Also got a bit nasty when they mention, "ilegally colluded with their competitors" - was this ever established? I thought the publishers settled before it went to court, and only Apple was found guilty.

Finally, Love how Amazon is now trying to drive a wedge between the publishers and authors - "While we believe 35% should go to the author and 35% to Hachette, the way this would actually work is that we would send 70% of the total revenue to Hachette, and they would decide how much to share with the author. We believe Hachette is sharing too small a portion with the author today, but ultimately that is not our call."

This is Amazon turning up the heat on the publishers. Remember, Amazon/Bezos are ruthless - they could not care at all what is fair - but they are going to use every tool in their kit to win at this negotiation.

bhouston 24 minutes ago 0 replies      
The key issue is that Amazon wants to set the prices and not the publisher. But why does Amazon have to set the prices? If a publisher wants to sell less copies at a higher price, isn't it their choice?

What is the cost to Amazon from letting a publisher set a higher price? Given that Amazon doesn't have storage or physical distribution costs for eBooks, why the push back?

nsx147 7 hours ago 0 replies      
In fact, the 30% share of total revenue is what Hachette forced us to take in 2010 when they illegally colluded with their competitors to raise e-book prices.

Shots fired

isomorphic 6 hours ago 3 replies      
Amazon is using language like "e-book(s) sold" when the reality is that they mean "e-book license(s) sold." The difference may be subtle, but if an e-book comes with DRM, the buyer certainly does not "own" it. Amazon even makes that point themselves, as they promote e-books as having "no secondary market."

This is an important point when you consider the vendor lock-in of the Kindle "ecosystem." Instead of "e-book," a better phrase might be "Kindle software."

Amazon should be careful of throwing stones about illegal collusion as they approach market domination. It will be very easy for them to make a mistake which runs afoul of anti-trust law.

andor 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
It's also important to understand that e-books are highly price-elastic. This means that when the price goes up, customers buy much less.

But what is the alternative for those customers: do they maybe buy the paperbackversion instead? If that's the case, Hachette might miss out on revenue, butthey also keep their paper-based business running and stay somewhat independentof Amazon.

coryl 7 hours ago 3 replies      
We believe 35% should go to the author, 35% to the publisher and 30% to Amazon.

What do publishers even do with regards to e-book distribution? Are they going the way of the record label company?

jpatokal 4 hours ago 0 replies      
This old blog post of mine needs a refresh, but there's nothing magical or permanent about $9.99: the average price of an e-book bestseller (= Amazon Top 100) has been trending down roughly by a dollar a year, and was already at $7 last year. Likewise, the share of $5 books in the top 100 is already close to 50%.


Some crappy code for pulling these stats from Amazon:


credo 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Amazon has mastered the art of saying nothing with a lot of self-serving words :)

Their post is titled "Update re: Amazon/Hachette Business Interruption". However, they don't state what their specific demands are and why the business was (in their words) interrupted.

Amazon's proclaimed objectives aren't as important as knowing what their specific demands (from Hachette) are. I'm not a book-author, but as a developer, I set the prices of the software products I develop (Apple and Google let me do that, Amazon doesn't). So my sympathies are with the book publishers, but even if they weren't, I'd still like Amazon to explicitly spell out their demands instead of using self-serving pricing elasticity theories to sway public opinion.

fpgeek 6 hours ago 2 replies      
I'm a bit surprised that Amazon said listed "no returns" as one of the differences with ebooks. I have personal experience with their incredibly generous ebook return policy (right in line with their other generous return policies).

Is this an implicit admission that Amazon is eating the cost of those returns? Or do they mean something specific like the physical infrastructure for returns?

hartator 4 hours ago 0 replies      
"It's also important to understand that e-books are highly price-elastic."

Won't this mean actually the reverse?

WalterSear 7 hours ago 5 replies      
Books aren't video games. People don't collect them. I don't consider a game I don't finish to be a failure, a waste of my time. I do so a book.

Despite Amazon's talking points, they are relatively price inelastic. Perhaps, right now, they aren't, since people are still dealing with market novelty, but over the long term, time is a bigger sink than money, when it comes to books.

My iOS Indie-Game Numbers
268 points by jazzychad  16 hours ago   116 comments top 29
m3mnoch 13 hours ago 9 replies      
like others have said, absolutely, thank you for writing this up.

a few observations for my fellow hope-laden game developers.

tl;dr: anyone can use today's tools to make crappy, me-too games. you need to make good games to succeed. to do that, you're going to need your 10,000 hours of game programming (not the same as web programming), 10,000 hours of game design (not just playing games), and 10,000 hours of all manner of art.

1) the marketplace is a "bloodbath"

while, yes, there are tons and tons of other apps out there, to be frank, that's just fine for quality indie developers, because the majority of those games all look like your apps. you cannot with any serious expectation, for example, think to sell like hotcakes something like "wordgrid" or "letters". i mean, the reason "tetra" got any traction at (i would bet as i haven't read the reviews) all was for its multiplayer component.

you cannot expect to have sales numbers like incredible-art-having sworcery or the incredible-paradigm-busting papers please with average-looking, average-playing, average-genre games.

if you want to succeed, you must-must-must differentiate yourself. if you can't, yes -- it's a hobby. and, unfortunately no, you're not a professional.

just because you can't throw a rock without hitting an amazingly easy toolset does not mean you'll build amazing games. it just means that everyone without the talent to build such games has an equal chance to show off the fact they can't build amazing games.

2) marketing is everything.

no. no it's not.

i'm part of the zynga/playdom facebook games generation where we instrumented, measured, and then poured on users. we thought virality was king and users were something you bought. push that k-factor through the roof!!!

come to find out, retention was king. this is why zynga is ... um ... having issues. come to find out, you need a good game.

if you have a good game and that game is easy to share, you'll get users from both channels -- app review sites and word of mouth -- without a lot of dough. you'll grow more slowly, but give people a reason, the method, and the content to share and they will.

that's not to say marketing isn't important -- it is. it's just not the most important thing by far.

3) it's a lottery.

only for simplistic, easy-to-copy games. take the "threes vs. 2048" conflict as an example:

awful 2048 grossing data:http://www.appannie.com/apps/ios/app/840919914/rank-history/...

still substantial threes grossing data:http://www.appannie.com/apps/ios/app/779157948/rank-history/...

if you make something that anyone with a keyboard can make, you'll need to have an extrodinary amount of luck (2048 from ketchapp, flappy bird, etc.) that looks like a lottery.

if you make something interesting that people want to play, you'll be just fine. especially these days when everyone is looking to discover the next minecraft or spelunky.

so, if you don't have the ability or team to make a good game, yes, you will need the lottery. and every time i hear about "the lottery" that is the app marketplace, all i can think of is nate silver's "the signal and the noise" book.

if you think it takes a lottery to succeed on the app store, you have a massive blindspot and that blindspot is: you don't have the ability -- yet -- to make quality games. you only think you do.

don't give up. keep going. you'll get there eventually.

prawn 10 hours ago 2 replies      
Hi Chad, are you still playing all of your games yourself? I wonder if they are "sticky" enough? Bit hard to tell from the screen captures - they don't really stand out to me in the screenshots. But I like word games so will check out Letters!

While you got the OK for the Letterpress UI from the creator, I wonder if anyone else who's unaware of that would notice and think you're a clone and ignore you?

I released my first ever iOS game* last week and it's a word game like yours. Not sure if we (two man team) just got lucky, but overnight we hit millionth game played and we've hit #1 word game in 30 countries at one point or another. People are playing about 3-5 games per second at any given point of the day which amazes me. The game took us four months to make - a month on the core mechanic and the rest polishing.

I have a pipeline of game ideas I think are very good so definitely intend to make more.

* Our game: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hexiled/id881274996?mt=8

passfree 39 minutes ago 0 replies      
$0.99 for an App is not sustainable pricing unless your product is mass-marketed in order to make up the numbers. My company have several products in iOS and Mac App Stores and none of them are near this price. In fact, one of our products (Websecurify for iOS) is $16 which you may say is an expensive app for iOS but this is a more realistic pricing. I doubt we would have achieved any effect if we had priced it $0.99. Btw, the next version of our app will probably cost twice as much because even $16 is barely sustainable.

I think it is time for iOS developers get their strategy checked up. I know a lot of people want to get their app/game to a lot of people but unless you have evidence that you app is reaching millions of people, it is not going to work.

diziet 14 hours ago 1 reply      
User acquisition for mobile is just as important as developing an application. There are companies with larger development teams AND many folks working on user acquisition AND marketing budgets reaching a millions of dollars per month, cross promotions, international reach, etc. As an indie developer, you wear all hats, from development to marketing. It's simply not reliable to launch a title and hope it takes off by itself or hope that sending emails to journalists will be enough on acquisition. If you'd spent hundreds of hours on development - figure out to spend just as much on acquisition. Doing paid acquisition might not work as the CPI (cost per install( for installs is most likely going to be much higher than an untuned app's LTV (lifetime Value).

I'd hacked together a 'mobile marketing' checklist before, it might help: https://sensortower.com/iphone-app-marketing

cix 54 minutes ago 0 replies      
Some people may say that we are in a Idiocracy, seeing games like Flappy bird become trend setters while AAA titles are getting barely any downloads. Mobile game developers need to understand the platform is more important than the game. In that you develop what is best for the platform and demographic. Not what you perceive as being high quality and pour millions of dollars and R&D. The more you make the mobile game look like a job, regardless how difficult it was to make, it will not be enjoyed because of such complexity. Although for simple Apps that have little ways to differ from the crowd, then marketing with some quirky difference to it seems to be the most effective.
josu 15 hours ago 3 replies      
>In the end, I've had to chalk all these apps up to the "hobby" category as it has been a money-losing proposition.

This is what Taleb calls an extremistan world, you can't apply a gaussian distribution to this situation. It is difficult to find a mediocre filmmaker that just makes enough money to get by, or a writer, or a painter... You either become fairly succesful or you die without ever being able to "make it".

You can't really tell when your next game will become the next Words with friends, Angry Birds, Flappy Bird or Candy Crush. But if it does, you can go from a "hobby" to a full time job even needing to hire a team.

k-mcgrady 15 hours ago 2 replies      
When you develop a game you're taking a big risk. There are so many ways people can entertain themselves that your game has to be something really special - and even that may not be enough. Secondly, ripping off the letterpress UI (with or without permission) was a bad idea imo. If I saw the screenshots my first thought would be. "this is a letterpress ripoff" and I wouldn't have downloaded it.

If you create an app that solves a real problem or solves a problem better than the current solutions you can do okay in the App Store. It's rare to do great but you can do well enough. Games don't solve problems. They add to a growing number of ways to entertain ourselves which includes movies, music, tv, news, the internet - and all these are accessible on a mobile device.

P.S. Not trying to sound too negative about games but making money in entertainment is difficult. People have so many options - many of which are free - and they'll take the cheapest one.

Elizer0x0309 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm surprised nobody is talking about the actual game!? It's really not standing out. Another "Word" type game that barely innovates on the genre.

I guess people are so focused on marketing, user acquisition and not .... wait for it.... PRODUCT!

apptoss 4 hours ago 0 replies      
My iOS Indie-Nongame Numbers

First published app (an educational niche): $1,832 in first three months. $1,360 in past 30 days.

Second published app (a semi-educational game-related app): $49 in first three months. $6 in past 30 days.

Third published app (an educational niche): $360 in first three months. $385 in past 30 days.

I now have over a dozen apps. Three of those earn less than $100 a month and I've all but abandoned them. Four more also earn less than $100 a month but are part of suite of clones that address different niches. Together, the suite earns over $200 a month now. My top 4 apps earn more like $100, $300, $400, and $1400 a month now. Over the past year, those iOS apps earned me just over $40,000. Not enough to live on alone but it's not a bad start.

_random_ 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I will be the negative guy here, down-vote if you will.

What kind of profit did you expect? As a game app consumer I only buy the very best (original and/or polished) apps in their respective categories. E.g. Leo's Fortune, FTL, Limbo, Icebreaker, Reaper would be very easy purchases for me. You can see those games had _a lot_ of effort put into. In my subjective, blatant and impolite opinion your apps could be more of the cause of the over-saturation problem rather than victims. Saying that, I have nothing to show myself so far :).

acconrad 15 hours ago 5 replies      
This is scary - a prolific programmer acquires nearly 30,000 downloads and can't even create a profit based on the price of his advertising. What hope is there for newcomers other than to focus more on marketing than on the product itself?
kwhinnery 14 hours ago 1 reply      
I would resist the urge to give too much credit to luck and marketing when it comes to indie game success. Notable outliers like Bastion, Sword + Sworcery, and FTL were all stunning executions. The FTL team did almost no marketing, but released a product that spoke directly to the target market of desktop gamers. Passionate people played it, liked it, and told others.

It's hard to achieve that level of success because it's hard to execute on that level of excellence with a concept that resonates with an audience.

There are other paths to financial success, surely, where monied studios can pump out derivative crap with in-app purchases and virtual goods. I guess the talent there comes from being able to tune experiences designed for shallow addiction, like food scientists creating the cheese dust for Doritos. But I don't think that's the only path.

randall 14 hours ago 3 replies      
The thing is I want to know about these fun new games. I feel like discovery is the actual problem.

If I had a random app installed on my home screen every day and I could say "more like this" or "this is horrible" I think it'd be cool. But it would have to be passive.

dustinlakin 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks for writing this up, it is always interesting and saddening to getting a deeper look at indie development on the app store.

It seems like more simplistic puzzle games like these have potential to completely blow up, but the market is also completely flooded with them. And I have found that it can be difficult to find quality in the genre. I would imagine that games that have heavier focus on art and polish can make a world of difference. It seems it gets attention from blogs/review sites and more probable for Apple to feature them.

Regardless, it is frustrating that your hard work that goes into these games didn't get the attention they may have deserved. Keep up the great work and hopefully we hear back from you soon about a monetarily successful game, whether that be in the app store or elsewhere.

jbverschoor 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Same for us..

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/damian-filigree-book-thoth/i...This one had promotion through free app of the day. Lifetime revenue was around $700. Paid around $400 in ads

https://itunes.apple.com/nl/app/snap-together-free/id5770998...Spent ca $1500 on ads, made $20 revenue.

imkevinxu 15 hours ago 4 replies      
I wonder if there could be a Kickstarter for indie iOS apps (no companies allowed). Seems like an awful lot of time invested to design and build an app without really knowing if it'll be popular or make money.

The "pre-funding" model would be able to give indie developers 1) early fan base, 2) early revenue, 3) early validation instead of working in the dark

I remember reading how Threes was made and IIRC it was on the order of many many months and redesigns before users saw/heard anything. But they hit the lottery jackpot I guess

asperous 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Here's yesterday's blog post he was inspired by:


Here's an infographic with the sales for a much larger indie game [Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP]:


james_hague 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The App Store is EXTREMELY clogged on the low-end. If it's your first game, if you use "puzzle" to describe it, if it's a spin on Tetris or Threes or Snake or match-3 or anything well-known, if someone could clone it in a week...that's the low-end. Not only will you have trouble getting customers to notice you, but you'll also fight just to get any kind of review.

What's also happening is that developers (myself included: http://appstore.com/daisypop) think "Wow, I shouldn't have spent so much time on that; I need to make something simpler and more rapidly so I have a better chance of turning a profit." This accelerates the problem.

incision 14 hours ago 0 replies      
>'I am not sure how to break into the App Store today except by winning the lottery.'

I'm not sure I follow.

It's a trio of side-projects, none of which have been available for even a full year yet, entering into a 'total bloodbath' marketplace.

Is it typical to expect immediate success and profitability doing this?

Traditionally, 'breaking in' is something people might spend years if not decades on and likely without the benefit of employment at a successful start-up during the week.

Things take time and persevering for longer than a year while refining and/or generating a fully original title would seem to be a good start.

funtober 10 hours ago 0 replies      
My friend and I kicked around putting some effort into building an app a few years back when people started publishing the "how to make money on the app store" posts. So thank you for posting this.

My suggestion is to find a website with an established niche (outside of the traditional app review websites) and audience who will promote your product ... and build something for that audience.

For example, my website has a ton of traffic in September and October. It's new though, so we are still working out monetization. There's a couple games in the market that would appeal to my visitors. I could probably give one a significant bump. And not one of them has ever contacted me about a review, provided a promo code, etc ... let alone a revenue share.

I didn't spend much time looking at Letters, but maybe it would do well on the blog of a english teacher?

gojomo 27 minutes ago 0 replies      
I hate in-game ads. But if paired with an in-game ad-buyout option, they do tend to remind me that, if I'm going to be playing the game repeatedly, I should do the buy-out.

So even if ads earn a negligible amount... are they ever worth trying as a mechanism to boost in-game purchases?

plg 14 hours ago 0 replies      
the game space is VERY crowded for mobile

if I were to think about mobile apps I would aim for some specialty market segment, e.g. doctors, or lawyers, or construction, or weddings, etc. not games. too crowded. too many voices.

yeureka 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Making it on the App store with games is extremely hard.I have 3 friends who each developed a mobile game and made no money, basically the games serve as portfolio for future work.I don't think the quality is the issue with what my friends produced:




Most likely marketing failures.

That being said, I am working on one myself and have all the hopes that any indie has.

physcab 13 hours ago 0 replies      
> This also means that 74 people out of 21,309 (0.3%) paid to unlock internationally compared to 112 out of 5521 (2%) that paid to unlock domestically.

I don't know how many of these are DAU (you didn't say), but these numbers are not as bad as they might seem. 1%-5% is about industry average for % spenders in games. Where you need to tune things is figure out who the spenders are and raise your ROI. You state that you spent $700 to get $261 in revenue which is about 37% ROI. Not good, but its a start atleast. Obviously you want to be above 1. What I would do is invest a little in some analytics, figure out who your spenders are and cohort them. Then see if you can reduce your spend, become more targeted in your buying, while also increasing opportunities to earn more revenue. Just my $0.02

blutoot 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I feel that, in the long run, apps are meant to be user interface to something bigger than being an all-encompassing entity for use cases outside of music, gaming and a few other categories. In other words, the service being accessed through an app will be equally if not more important compared to the app itself. And I just don't see indie devs being able to manage and scale on both fronts equally, yet. Maybe the more infrastructure as a code and web app development get commoditized, the better will be the chances for indies to shine/profit again? Until then, app is just gonna be a fancy (and in many cases the only) endpoint for most sustainable business models.
sjtgraham 14 hours ago 2 replies      
The "Letters" numbers shock me, I follow Chad on Twitter, downloaded the game and found it to be very addictive, especially the mechanic of solving the daily word. Chad, I really think there is something there in Letters; it definitely deserves some push.
mkirsche 13 hours ago 0 replies      
I spent 6 month developing a game in my spare time:


3 weeks after the launch the game sold 6 copies and made 8,95$. I sent out 51 promo codes to various review sites but only 8 of them got redeemed.

I can already guess how impossible it is to enter the iOS gaming market.

peapicker 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I couldn't find 'letters' by searching on 'letters' in the app store... too many other things came up first. By search for your other games, then going to letters I was able to try it.

Pretty fun, would be nice if it had some of the 'hip' words used these days, "Selfie" etc

(edit, had some stuff in here about would be nice if there was an undo)

programminggeek 14 hours ago 0 replies      
It doesn't matter if it's games or not games. These numbers ring basically true to me.

I've done enough apps that the math doesn't work out to me anymore. Simply put, you're selling candy bars, but without the disposable aspect, so your customer LTV on a $1 app is $0.7. If you have a suite of 5 or 10 $1 apps, even if you had a huge cross sell of 5 of those 10 apps, your LTV is 70% of $5... $3.50.

In that scenario, to get paid $70,000, you need 20,000 customers to buy 50% of your products each year.

Honestly, if you can get 20,000 to buy your app you've either hit a top list or you are so good at marketing that it is nonsensical that you would be selling $1 apps.

So yeah, for most developers the app store business isn't much of a business at all. Maybe leveraging it to get interest in desktop or console apps where the per unit price is closer to $20-100 would help.

Even then, I don't think you will see or hear many stores about app store millionaires going forward. The money might be there, but it's too diluted to make much of a dent.

Might as well buy a lottery ticket, it costs you less time and money with basically the same outcome.

The Business of Fake Hollywood Money
132 points by ryan_j_naughton  14 hours ago   41 comments top 9
anigbrowl 7 hours ago 2 replies      
Police stuff, for instance, is something youve got to be careful with, says Bilson. If its too real, youll have issues. For this reason, prop houses make themselves accessible only to bona fide motion picture entities, which must have $1 million insurance policies on file to merely rent out something as simple as a ten-dollar police badge.

Alarmingly true. I was cast as a prison guard once for a film which was being shot in a recently decommissioned jail. I used to smoke then, and every time I went outside someone would come up and ask me about visiting hours or some other prison-related question. I thought the outfit was obviously fake but most people don't look at the writing on the shoulder patches or the exact kind of badge someone is wearing as long as you're in a uniform and have the relevant props.

It doesn't surprise me at all that people would attempt to spend fake money. I've seen people try to spend bills that were obviously made on an inkjet printer.

scoofy 43 minutes ago 0 replies      
Easy solution. All non-closeup bills are literally cut in half at production. Wrapped in bill wraps, you'd never know the difference.
Lerc 10 hours ago 4 replies      
There seem to be a lot of possibilities that would do in various positions.

If you could make the money feel distinctively different, while appearing the same, it would probably be enough to cause a receiver to pay sufficient attention to notice the minor differences.

Printing different denominations on each side of the bill would be sufficient for most stationary money.

For scenes with large amounts of free flowing money, you could print the notes backwards and flip the film.

I don't think there would be any single solution for all instances, but I think you could pick a form that would suit whichever scene you were currently shooting.

chatmasta 4 hours ago 1 reply      
So Hollywood can generate realistic looking footage of 50 foot high humanoid robots fighting each other in downtown Hong Kong, but it can't digitally correct some orange dollar bills to make them appear green?
VLM 12 hours ago 3 replies      
Can't wait to see fake hollywood bitcoins in the movies. I'm sure they'll just 'cat /dev/urandom' for awhile and call it good.

My assumption based on the title was the article would be a discussion about hollywood accounting where numbers are manipulated until only the studio wins. I was pleasantly surprised to read about fake currency.

aptwebapps 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Maybe they could use disappearing ink? Or ink that substantially changed color in a few hours?
bluedevil2k 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Have bright (green/blue/orange) bills and simply CGI it to look like real money. Would even work for overseas markets, to make them euros for example.
ps4fanboy 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I was hoping this would be an article on how movies always lose money even with record box office.
JetSpiegel 9 hours ago 1 reply      
"a movie set in the 1920s, to provide bills from that era. Elyea adds that its hard for production companies to liquidate assets after the film or television series, so they choose to rent cash out instead of purchasing it at face value."

This phrase is glorious. Rent cash.

Building an API in 60 seconds, without any server setup
152 points by hackerews  14 hours ago   51 comments top 17
superuser2 5 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not sure I understand what this is. Free hosted PaaS for single files, essentially? I know nothing about where the code is running? Is it performant? Is it reliable? How are they covering server costs / at what point would I be asked to pay, and how much?
dheera 3 hours ago 2 replies      
I'd be more interested in seeing an infrastructure for scraping where the API functions are fixed, but the actual scraping functions are dynamically loaded so that the API user doesn't have to maintain it or re-pull/re-fork/re-compile when the website design changes.

Bonus points if one can make an ORM out of it, e.g.

    for article in get_api('reddit.com').todayilearned.filter('new').limit(100):        ... do something ...
Where a call to get_api() dynamically fetches the latest scraping functions, in case reddit's page design has changed.

Triple bonus points if the system can be designed in a de-centralized fashion to defend against ToSes that try to disrciminate between human eyes and machine eyes.

rstoner 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Dear Github.

Please buy these guys and enable this functionality for gists.

jacke 3 hours ago 0 replies      
Check this out: https://github.com/hmarr/codecube1. It's open source2. Put this on heroku and use it privately.3. Highly stable(because it's write using golang, you can run millions of request, and it's still work fine)???NONPROFIT

But project no longer in developing, so i guess maybe someone wants to reanimate codecube? On weekends for example, contact me: iamjacke AT gmail.com

donniezazen 3 hours ago 0 replies      
What are you options if a site/service doesn't provide an API? I am looking into creating a third-party Android app for https://askbot.com/ which is an open-sourced (GPLv3) version of StackExchange-like website. Askbot has a limited read-only API. It is written in Python and I am not sure how much work it would be to write APIs for it.
mentat 5 hours ago 1 reply      
It would be sort of cool to implement cryptanalysis tools as APIs using this. Like "submit your data and we'll tell you what it might be". I built some tools in python the first time I was working on the Matasano crypto challenges but Go is a better choice. Would be nice if it was supported.
JustARandomGuy 7 hours ago 1 reply      
This looks like a great service!

Is there a way to sign up for a paid account or a credit system? I don't want to burden you guys with the costs of my API requests.

eropple 5 hours ago 1 reply      
So my buddy Sean (@tilmonedwards) just built something pretty similar as a command-line app, just for yucks:


jacquesc 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Anyone know if this would work with Mailguns cool email signature parsing library? http://blog.mailgun.com/open-sourcing-our-email-signature-pa... as in, easily build an api for it?
hackerews 6 hours ago 1 reply      
People have asked for Javascript and Perl. Any other languages you'd want me to add?
jawbone 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Thanks a lot for the link. Right at the time we are looking for resources to build and figure out the structure for the APi :D
xmonkee 13 hours ago 0 replies      
Care to give us a peek at how this works?
gear54rus 2 hours ago 1 reply      
+1 for Good Will Hunting reference
joeyspn 9 hours ago 1 reply      
This is a really creative and interesting project... Will use it for sure
koesterd 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I just reported a urgent bug via the feedback form because I couldn't find your email. Please pay attention to it!
mrstrawberry 6 hours ago 0 replies      
Awesome service, can't wait to use this.
grimtrigger 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Interesting. Whats a use case for this?
Conway's Multiplayer Game of Life
63 points by bpierre  10 hours ago   14 comments top 7
stared 36 minutes ago 0 replies      
I never thought about Game of Life as a game (great job, thanks for sharing!). If it can be made "multiplayer" then "strip" does not sound ridiculous anymore (http://xkcd.com/696/, http://konstochvanligasaker.se/stripgameoflife/).
drewblaisdell 8 hours ago 2 replies      
Author here.

The front page of HN is proving to be a great way to stress test this. I'm surprised NginX (serving the static content) and Node.js (all the websockets communication) is handling 50+ players, no problem.

baddox 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Great concept. The generation rate is too low for me to stick around though. It might be more interesting to do 10 or 20 generations per tick.

When I read the headline, I was imagining an endless board where each player got a grid, say 20x20, where he could place anything he wanted, and all the boards would be right next to each other so you could try to "invade" your neighbors.

ecopoesis 7 hours ago 0 replies      
This reminds me of David Brin's book Glory Season, where a common pastime for the characters is the play a competitive version of the Game of Life.


rsivapr 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting. I extended the Game of Life to three states instead of the usual two states when I was learning javascript. Just a fun little hack.


_djhrtmn 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Very cool! I was able to use some 'strategies' for cell placement that I learned while making this:


It started as just an attempt to create the game of life in react, but as I started to add some interactivity to it, I started to wonder if there was an actual game in there somewhere. Never really figured out what I wanted to do with it though.

yincrash 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Oddly, my highscore dropped. It was 35, then it went to my current score of 26. Does your highscore reset when you lose all your bits then start to place more?
Deep Learning Image Classifier
117 points by adid  14 hours ago   27 comments top 9
4qbomb 14 hours ago 1 reply      
joyofdata 3 hours ago 0 replies      
President Obama is recognized either as ...

... a mountain-bike / all-terrain-bike(http://cdn2.spiegel.de/images/image-730849-galleryV9-vuuv.jp...)

... or a rugby ball(http://cdn2.spiegel.de/images/image-730849-breitwandaufmache...)

... or a bullet proof vest(http://cdn2.spiegel.de/images/image-730849-thumb-vuuv.jpg)

I guess the implementation leaves room for improvement :)

frobozz 1 hour ago 0 replies      
It seems strange that they would include in their set of example images, a picture of the most famous mausoleum in the world, without it being tagged with mausoleum or tomb or anything like that.
bhouston 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Didn't give me results at all to the three images I uploaded. Might be broken.
tly_alex 9 hours ago 1 reply      

Rekognition API has a similar API for all developers free.

It's reliable and very fast.

Checkout their demo page.

kephra 13 hours ago 1 reply      
tried two images:

http://kephra.de/Dampf/IMG_20140620_133839_800x600.jpg <- an ecigarette, and the classifier thought its a fountain pen. Well thats not bad, I got this joke/question from humans also.

http://kephra.de/pix/Snoopy/thump/IMG_20130822_135928_640x48... <- here it thought its a speed boat ... well my boat is fast, but not a speedboat, but an sailing boat. It offered several more boat types, but not just a plain sailing boat. Interesting here is that the last suggestion of only 1% could be considered right as "dock, dockage, docking facility"

Tried some other images from the lifestyle section of my homepage, but it looks as if the system newer saw a sewing machine before as it gives "Low recognition confidence", and no tags.

3rd3 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Are there actually any image feature detectors and descriptors involved (like blob, edge and texture detectors) or is this solely based on artificial neural networks?
mrfusion 9 hours ago 1 reply      
What data was it trained on?

Also can it tell you where in the image the identified object is?

raverbashing 12 hours ago 1 reply      
My results (yeah, a tough image) http://imgur.com/pbH52xW
A Nuclear Probe to Explore Earths Interior
87 points by mike_esspe  12 hours ago   55 comments top 20
ridgeguy 5 hours ago 1 reply      
The post states that tungsten "...has a low corrosion rate at elevated temperatures." This is not accurate.

Tungsten oxidizes in air beginning around 600C and as the temperature increases, the tungsten oxide layer scales off, exposing underlying metal to further oxidation. (see, for example, http://labfus.ciemat.es/AR/2011/C_004/AM_4x.pdf)

Tungsten is great for high temperature use in vacuum, neutral (the inert gases) or reducing environments (hydrogen, for example). You can use it nearly up to its melting point in those conditions if you aren't too dependent on structural integrity.

In oxidizing environments (air, oxygen, water, halogens, silicates, etc.) it fails quite rapidly. Molten rock is replete with chemical species that react with tungsten at elevated temperatures.

At 2000C, the tungsten blanket covering the Co60 heat source would be corroded away, I'll guess, within a week of launch on its journey to the center of the earth.

Although it would be incredibly costly, they might have better luck with iridium or rhenium.

Nevertheless, a fun mission to think about.

bediger4000 8 hours ago 1 reply      
A Caltech professor, David Stevenson, proposed a temperature-resistant probe immersed in a blob of molten iron: Stevenson, David J. Mission to Earth's Core - A Modest Proposal. Nature, 423, 239-240, 2003a. No radioactivity necessary, and the PDF is here: http://mathcs.albion.edu/~mbollman/Honors/ToTheCore!.pdf
Aardwolf 29 minutes ago 0 replies      
This is where Hacker News needs the "whatcouldpossiblygowrong" tag!
wmeredith 12 hours ago 2 replies      
What a fascinating proposition. FYI: This blog article is from 2013 and is about scientific papers written in 2008 and 2005. A few minutes of cursory Googling turns up nothing else.
ChuckMcM 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Did this go anywhere? The only papers if find that reference the original ideas (2005 and 2008) mention nuclear waste that melts itself into the Earths core.
entangledqubit 4 hours ago 0 replies      
A patent for a similar device from back in the 60s:http://www.google.com/patents/US3115194

Happened to see it while archiving the inventor's papers. :)

msane 3 hours ago 0 replies      
What was that recent speculation based on seismic resonance about there possibly being a large amount of previously un-theorized water, rather than rock, somewhere in the interior?
gulpahum 5 hours ago 0 replies      
This sounds like a controlled version of the China syndrome. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_meltdown#China_Syndrome
S4M 10 hours ago 2 replies      
The article also suggests using the probe to analyze the composition of other planets. Is that doable? It seems pretty tough to me to carry on a space ship a nuclear probe hot enough to melt rocks.
spingsprong 4 hours ago 1 reply      
Would this produce a new volcano?

Or would the magma just freeze as it travels through the relatively cool hole?

rdmcfee 11 hours ago 1 reply      
With the accelerating change in the earth's magnetic field it would be fantastic to drop a few of these bad boys and see what's actually going on down there.
ars 10 hours ago 1 reply      
"Subsequent re-crystallisation of the molten material will generate intense acoustic signals."

Why would it make any noise?

curtis 11 hours ago 0 replies      
This sounds like a more practical version of David J. Stevenson's 2003 earth probe proposal: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/05/0514_030514_...
cromwellian 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Seems that the technique would also work on Europa to melt its way into the ocean underneath the ice.
grecy 10 hours ago 1 reply      
> As the probe descents deeper, the rate of descent will gradually slow until the probe reaches a depth of 100 km after ~30 years

The article doesn't mention - why will the probe stop descending?

youaredoomed 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Why not place the sphere into a pre-made hole so it will make it to the center of the planet faster?
doctorKrieger 10 hours ago 2 replies      
why cant we dispose our nuclear waste in this way?
BorisMelnik 5 hours ago 0 replies      
if they get to the center they will find the gnomes, which won't end well.
3327 11 hours ago 0 replies      
wow this is actually genius cheap and doable can some please forward this to Jeff Bezos?
ars 10 hours ago 3 replies      
"transform some of the energy from radioactive decay"

Not so simple. You need a hot source and a cold sink to transform energy. Where's your cold sink? This thing is intended to melt what's around it, and the outside of the probe is not that different in temperature from the inside.

Stuff that every programmer should know: Data Visualization
106 points by nkurz  15 hours ago   11 comments top 5
Stubb 8 hours ago 0 replies      
Fun reading. As an aside, I've grown wary of data visualization tools tied too closely to a particular language. Each one is a little different, and while cranking out simple plots never takes much effort, making them look just so for presentation always involvers learning yet another low-level syntax. I've come back full circle to Gnuplot (http://www.gnuplot.info/), which I originally learned nearly twenty years ago while working on my Ph.D. It forces you to learn a shitty DSL, but you can get at Gnuplot from any environment that supports writing to text files and calling a sub-process. Plots are tweakable to your heart's content, and it does a fair job with 3-D graphics. I've reused a surprising amount of code originally written to plot error-control code statistics from Octave into a Ruby project that analyzes wireless network performance. Pretty cool!

But if you need interactive 3-D plots (e.g., a wire frame that you can rotate), look elsewhere.

marvin 9 hours ago 2 replies      
Very nice overview. I am just in the final stages of a Masters thesis in data visualization, and this article gives a really good bird's eye view of the field. The visualization field is really too broad that most programmers could be expected to know more than some key points, but given that vision is the highest-bandwidth sense, visual techniques are often given less credit than they deserve. As long as there needs to be a human in the loop, you need good visualizations if your data is more than trivial. D3 is probably good for its domain, but intuition tells me you'll have a problem if you mainly use Javascript to handle a 20GB dataset. (I'm not dismissing this categorically; I am not very familiar with these tools).

Unfortunately, to my knowledge there aren't any comprehensive textbooks that cover visualization from the ground up. We didn't use a single textbook in my 2-year degree; all lectures were heavily based on research papers. Central topics if you want to read up on this is perception (which color scales should you use? how many parameters can you plausibly put in one plot?), different visualization techniques for different data (scatterplots, histograms, treemaps, horizon graphs, volume rendering, graph drawing with edge bundling, +++), interactivity and applications of basic techniques (Visual Analytics, Interactive Visual Analysis).

A multitude of scientific fields use different visualization tools, so it can be tricky to find the relevant material for whatever it is you're working with. But in general, I think the data mining/big data/analytics fields could do very well with a bigger focus on visual techniques. If you get the right visualizations for your data, the truth often just jumps out of the screen. GPUs can let you work with multi-gigabyte datasets at interactive framerates, although I haven't seen a lot of practical applications of this yet. Can also be used for non-spatial data, if you're clever with CUDA or just use the shader data structures creatively. Would be interesting to hear if anyone in the industry uses this yet.

tieTYT 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish this article focused on how to apply these techniques to actual problems a typical developer would have as opposed to, "Here are some ways of visualizing data".

It felt like my typical high school class. They'd teach us how to calculate the circumference of a circle, but they never told us what we'd use it for. "Programming" is not specific enough.

capkutay 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Data visualization looks intuitive and nice in D3 examples thus be something 'every programmer should know'. It's so simple, just pick it up.

Any production environment data visualization is going to run into a plethora of sticky problems. How do ensure your queries aren't going to overload and crash your visualization client. How do you handle time series and gaps in data? How do you evict data from a vis?

lifeisstillgood 4 hours ago 0 replies      
OMG - the first actual photo is a guy standing in front of laser lines and curves and had a tag line "soon to be replaced by the Oculus Rift"

And yes ... I can easily imagine flogging exploratory gloves and goggles to impress the Board and let them surf through data looking for insights

Australia bans reporting of multi-nation corruption case
355 points by abritishguy  11 hours ago   105 comments top 17
eng_monkey 8 hours ago 3 replies      
I have no doubt that Australia has significant higher levels of fraud and corruption than what is usually perceived by society. The problem is that the press here reports virtually nothing, probably as a consequence of the strange defamation and libel laws that we have.

As an example, I have witness of two significant cases of fraud in the last 5 years. In the first, a lawyer stole more than $2 million from trust accounts. The second was a professor from a major university who misused close to $100K from grants. In both cases, the matters were dealt with internally (returning money, compensating victims, etc.) and no single piece of information about this went to the press.

fblp 10 hours ago 4 replies      
From the article: - The court made this order to:

"- prevent damage to Australia's international relations that may be caused by the publication of material that may damage the reputations of specified individuals who are not the subject of charges in these proceedings.These orders are made on the grounds that they are:

- necessary to prevent a real and substantial risk of prejudice to the proper administration of justice that cannot be prevented by other reasonably available means; and

- necessary to prevent prejudice to the interests of the Commonwealth in relation to national security. "

The court would be very careful about making such orders and Australia has one of the strongest separations between the courts and the government. This means that the decision is likely to be made for fair administration of justice rather than for political reasons.

hadoukenio 10 hours ago 0 replies      
And with that, I just made my first WikiLeaks donation.
femto 3 hours ago 0 replies      
The Australian media is dutifully reporting on an organisation that I will leave nameless.


locusm 6 hours ago 2 replies      
Is this around the RBA bank note printing scandal?Check out the Four Corners doco on it.http://www.abc.net.au/4corners/stories/2013/09/30/3857148.ht...
sjy 6 hours ago 1 reply      
Arguably, the Wikileaks summary goes too far in claiming that the order "forbids any discloures (sic), by publication or otherwise, of any information relating to the court case by anyone." The order is limited to disclosure that "reveals, implies, suggests or alleges" that various specified politicians received, attempted to receive, or were intended to receive a bribe.

It is not really clear that the orders themselves (sans the Bird affidavit) "suggest" that bribes were attempted or intended. It's also unclear whether the explicit inclusion of "the terms of these orders" is supposed to resolve this question or merely state that disclosure of the orders themselves could be an offence.

Perhaps this explains why the affidavit itself wasn't leaked.

danieltillett 10 hours ago 1 reply      
I wish wikileaks would leak Gillian Bird's affidavit - this must be pretty juicy.
jpatokal 8 hours ago 0 replies      
This appears to be about the Reserve Bank of Australia/Securency corruption scandal, which has already been all over the Australia media since 2009? Given the recent dates, though, apparently there's some juicy info in the affadavit (which was not released) that hasn't been leaked to the press yet.


yen223 9 hours ago 1 reply      
Yet another reason for my home country of Malaysia to be in the news, and not in a positive way.

Malaysia, what happened to you?

zmmmmm 7 hours ago 1 reply      
It's interesting how transparently self contradictory the document is. Clause 5 simply says:

    > The purpose of these orders is to prevent damage to    > Australia's international relation...
In other words, the entire purpose is political. However this was obviously insufficient grounds, so the next clause says:

    > These orders are made on the grounds that they are:    >    > necessary to prevent a real and substantial risk of prejudice to    > the proper administration of justice that cannot be prevented by    > other reasonably available means; and necessary to prevent    > prejudice to the interests of the Commonwealth in relation to    > national security.
So suddenly it is about "justice" and "national security". So the suppression order to suppress corruption is corrupt itself, and doesn't really even try to hide it, safe in the knowledge that it, itself, is supressed.

jamhan 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Typical "smear by association" (without any link whatsoever) from the left: "It is ironic that it took Tony Abbott to bring the worst of 'Asian Values' to Australia."
tomjen3 1 hour ago 0 replies      
Since HN is not in Australia, what exactly is it that we are not allowed to know?
pithcheroo 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Interesting tidbit on the drama in vietnam. http://m.canberratimes.com.au/national/envoys-link-with-viet...
majika 7 hours ago 1 reply      
Can I publish a link to this page on my website? Or is this link now illegal in Australia? What about a link to this HN submission?

This is ridiculous. Unfortunately, authoritarianism is the norm in Australia; we are the quintessential nanny state.

robzyb 10 hours ago 1 reply      
> Subject to further order, order 1 does not prevent provision of material by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions to Note Printing Australia Pty Ltd and its legal representatives, provided any such material is provided together with a copy of these orders.

Unsurprising given:


Estragon 10 hours ago 3 replies      

  ...unprecedented suppression order by the Australian Supreme Court in   Melbourne, Victoria...
Minor nit: It sounds like strictly speaking, this order is from the Victorian Supreme Court (state level), not the Australian Supreme Court, which is the High Court in Canberra.



tootie 10 hours ago 3 replies      
Isn't this pretty normal? In the US a judge can bar the press from covering a trial in progress if they believe it could prejudice the jury or create a circus. They will still be allowed to report everything once there's a verdict.
European Startups Raise Highest Quarterly VC Financing Since 2001
4 points by spountzy  1 hour ago   1 comment top
un_publishable 56 minutes ago 0 replies      
"Activity was strongest in the U.K., where companies raised 28% of the total amount in the second quarter, followed by France with 19% and Germany with 15%."

How long until Berlin startups can expect reguler SV-level exits? The city is amazing and there's a lot of positivity, but venture capital needs to be there as well.

C and Go without CGO
55 points by shanemhansen  6 hours ago   14 comments top 5
conroy 4 hours ago 2 replies      
The article doesn't mention any of the downsides to this approach, the biggest being style of C code. From Dave Cheney[0]

- Using C code is inherently unsafe, not just because it unholsters all the C footguns, but because you can address any symbol in the runtime. With great power comes great responsibility.

- The Go 1 compatibility guarantee does not extend to C code.

- C functions cannot be inlined.

- Escape analysis cannot follow values passed into C functions.

- Code coverage does not extend to C functions.

- The C compilers (5c, 6c, 8c) are not as optimised as their companion Go compilers, you may find that the code generated is not as efficient as the same code in Go.

- You are writing plan 9 style C code, which is a rough analogue of C89.

[0]: http://dave.cheney.net/2013/09/07/how-to-include-c-code-in-y...

voltagex_ 4 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd love to know how this works behind the scenes.

In the article, a file called chello.c and a file called gohello.go are created - do the filenames have any significance? How does the go compiler and linker know what to do here?

marcell 3 hours ago 2 replies      
Can anyone explain the use of the "" character?
voltagex_ 4 hours ago 0 replies      
Excellent article, but this post needs a better title. C and Go without CGO might be okay for here.
pekk 4 hours ago 1 reply      
"as fast as physically possible on your CPU architecture" is a ludicrous phrase full of misunderstanding.
Google's Next Opportunity Could Spell Serious Competition for Facebook on Mobile
20 points by yugene_lee  6 hours ago   6 comments top 3
fishnchips 16 minutes ago 0 replies      
That would likely spell the end of indie app development as well.
walterbell 5 hours ago 1 reply      
Isn't Google already selling mobile ads that rely on app store analytics, http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/22/google-to-offer-mobile-app-... ? What's the difference in this proposal - bidding for placement within store categories?
mik3y 2 hours ago 0 replies      
Discovery happens less and less in the App Store proper, and more elsewhere (search, in-app ads, etc).

This is not to say the article is very wrong -- only that the placements Google can sell will be, for the most part, outside of the Play app.

Indian E-Commerce Firm Flipkart Raises Eye-Popping $1B
145 points by dandrewsen  19 hours ago   75 comments top 16
chatman 15 minutes ago 0 replies      
And immediately after this, Amazon invests $2B in India.


tn13 9 hours ago 4 replies      
I find Flipkart's valuation very puzzling clearly the investors have seen what I haven't. Flipkart's revenue is extremely less for a population of the size of India. They makes ~$200M in revenues per year with an operational loss which I am told is significant.

Flipkart has managed to scale its revenue but without making a profit. Even this would have appeared as a good opportunity if Flipkart was kind of de-facto e-commerce business in India. Turns out that it is not. Snapdeal, Junglee (Amazon India) are pretty close. Myntra was the leader in apparel and fashion products sale online which was then acquired by Flipkart. (Myntra was not profitable either).

I find it hard to understand why anyone believes that Flipkart would ever make profit in next 5 years or so. I find it hard to believe.

Unlike USA, India has not yet figured out how to build proper usable roads, the cities are not planned and India does not have a proper addressing system. Government regulations have further made life difficult for courier companies. All this has resulted into cities and towns where traveling over few kms is very expensive and time consuming as a result small shops catering to need of local communities have sprung up like mushrooms. Current India is probably resembles more to the A&P days of USA.

My assertion is validated by the fact that Travel Booking and Movie ticket booking websites in India are growing fast and also very profitable.

roguemonk 2 hours ago 0 replies      
I see 3 reasons.

I.Flipkart is losing money definitely. But so is Amazon which has not reported a profit before last year. However Flipkart's losses are not for the same reasons as Amazon but it should not be forgotten that FK is never afraid to try out models and kill them if they fail. FK is following a lot of Amazon's footsteps but it is coming into its own quite a bit and given FK does not have to do the same mistakes that Amazon had to do for more than a decade, FK has a good second mover advantage.

II.Flipkart has been a trailblazer in the Indian e-commerce space by forcing the users to internalize new habits. Getting them to trust the online e-commerce stores with their money and buying products online without a rethink, Cash on delivery and now 'online only sales'.

Amazon.in is also being forced to innovate at its own pace in India changing its last mile delivery models (IBP stores).

So right now this is anyone's game.

III.Flipkart is simply bulking up its warchest on the impending war with Amazon. Neither of them are going to let go of the massive opportunity that they do not have any more in China. If Alibaba could do a single day $5.7 Bn sales on Nov 11, there is no reason to think why we might not be looking at a similar opportunity just as big in India where the human consumption potential is just as big!

However, the more it looks like India will not be a winner takes all market. Amazon, Snapdeal and Flipkart will have to contend with being 3 players in a huge ecommerce market in India unlike China or US... the rules are just hatke in India :) Of course there are still the pristine south east Asian markets for everybody's taking!

piyushpr134 17 hours ago 1 reply      
For the uninitiated: Flipkart is AMZN of India. They are doing tonnes of sales here. FK is getting so much valuation as India does not have a big enough organised retail (roughly 5%). This means there is a generation which would move on from unorganized retail to online. And hence the astronomical valuations. FK also has some unique ideas. For instance, they launched Moto e, g and x in India as exclusive sellers. They managed to sell 1 million of those phones in last 6 months. This alone would have easily resulted in a $20-25 million rev.
jestinjoy1 16 hours ago 2 replies      
The best part about Flipkart are

1. They made online selling popular in India

2. Products got delivered in door steps

3. I could buy books at 20%-50% discount and foreign edition textbooks easily. This is something we couldnt even dream about, in some parts of India

4. I could easily get products from lee, nike, puma,... at discounted price too. If you are not in a big city, then its difficult to get branded products and if you get then you need to worry about whether they are original or not

I bought close to 150 books from Flipkart, which would cost some 70$ more if I buy from local sellers.

I have my Toshiba Laptop, Moto G phone, Lee Shirt, Sennheiser Headphone, Reebok shoe all bought from online sellers :)

fununclebob 17 hours ago 2 replies      
Flipkart recently moved away from the Amazon warehousing model to an online marketplace model and I've heard nothing but complaints from customers regarding the switch. Even their own presence in the marketplace is unable to keep up the quality of service as it scales, and all kinds of scammy retailers have set up shop now which has made it relatively more dangerous to purchase on their service now.

Time will tell if they pay that billion back.

skbohra123 3 hours ago 0 replies      
After Flipkarts 1Bn fundraising, Amazon announces $2Bn investment in India[0]

[0] http://www.medianama.com/2014/07/223-amazon-2bn-investment-i...

anizan 3 hours ago 1 reply      
Some computer parts like hardisk's are cheaper on flipkart than the purchase price of an authorized retailer.So when a customer comes to a shop, the dealer says that stock will come in 2 days and he promptly places an order on flipkart.
netcan 17 hours ago 6 replies      
Wow. Is this real? Does anyone know anything about this company? Wikipedia has the company's revenue at 200m USD as of January, making an operational loss. They don't sell internationally.

Is there some important part to this story that we're missing? Seems like there must be something worth knowing about here.

On a slightly unrelated note, it's amazing that billions can be raised pre-IPO these days. It almost buries IPOs as a fund raising methods.I realize exit/liquidity was/is the bigger reason for tech IPOs already, but it seems somehow unnatural to completely abandon the role of financing. Not sure where I'm going with this.

param 18 hours ago 1 reply      
Best of luck to both founders, and this is great news for the Indian startup industry, but I am confused by this statement:

We are not thinking about [an IPO]. We have not settled on a business model that we can take public,

Shouldn't the business model be validated by your Series A or max B? Flipkart has taken multiple rounds in the past, and this one looks as large as a Series C.

Edit: Firms involved also sound like series C firms - Tiger Global, DST etc.

2511 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I like that the Indian start up scene is getting serious now. Entrepreneurs are brave enough to compete with the big players unlike a few years ago when most start ups were basically simple web apps or a tech consultancy kind of thing. As an Indian this gives me hope that a soon the brain drain will stop and a lot of talented Indians abroad (with connections and some money to invest) will come back to India to either start up or work for one.
quarterwave 16 hours ago 0 replies      
After my family started buying dresses online (average $20 per item), I started paying more attention. Online shopping in India not only provides a vast range across vendors, it also saves the cost and hassle of travelling to a big store - especially for singleton purchases. When discerning dress buyers are happy to buy online that must signal some kind of shift.
techaddict009 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Flipkart revolutionized ecommerce in India with the concept of COD (Cash On Delivery).

That is you pay when you receive the product.

akx 17 hours ago 4 replies      
Huh. Never heard of the company, but what surprised me is that the site is actually really fast and snappy, somehow, for me -- especially considering what I saw when I took a look at the source code.
hemantv 18 hours ago 1 reply      
$1 Billion is lot of money in India. Only future will tell what they will build from it.
somehanu 4 hours ago 0 replies      
this is big. Indian people believes Flipkart how Americans believe Amazon. Flipkart delivery products quickly with replacement guarantee. This is enough for them to raise the funds.
Massively Parallel Graph processing on GPUs
77 points by mpweiher  16 hours ago   11 comments top 4
lmeyerov 11 hours ago 0 replies      
I was looking at this today & yesterday. Boding well, these results look right for GPUs because they're in parity w/ Duane Merril's GPU BFS work.

Less clear is whether MapGraph beats existing single node HPC systems. In particular, instead of comparing to GraphLab, I'd love to see comparisons to GraphChi or TurboGraph!

The importance here is that huge graphs are now possible on single-node, and once these techniques get combined into distributed ones, most real-world graphs can be solved in real-time!

(If you like building this kind of bleeding edge stuff in performance, ML, and/or infoviz, we're hiring at graphistry.com :)

ranty 12 hours ago 2 replies      
Not being that au fait with big data stuff, can someone tell me what graph processing is for?
m_mueller 9 hours ago 0 replies      
I've glanced over your paper just quickly, so I'm not sure whether I missed something: Did you analyze why your 24 threaded CPU version did so much worse in a few cases than the single threaded version? Did you use OpenMP without a defined thread affinity on a multi socket system?
tromp 13 hours ago 1 reply      
"MapGraph is up to two orders of magnitude faster than parallel CPU implementations on up 24 CPU cores and has performance comparable to a state-of-the-art manually optimized GPU implementation."

That doesn't bode well for my $1000 GPU Speed Parity Bountyat https://github.com/tromp/cuckoobased on my belief that the Cuckoo Cycle graph-theoretic proof-of-work algorithm is more suited to CPUs.

Robot With Broken Leg Learns To Walk Again In 2 Minutes
70 points by spectruman  16 hours ago   27 comments top 9
jimworm 9 hours ago 1 reply      
The "ground contact" parameter while walking sounds functionally very close to the "proprioception + pain" parameters for animals in a hobbling situation. An animal (me, specifically) quickly discovers a hobbling strategy by experimentation and a continuous sense of pain levels.

I think that pain will become a major part of the design in learning robots of the future.

jonmrodriguez 10 hours ago 1 reply      
My 8th grade science fair project studied a very simple version of this problem! I used genetic algorithms to have a 6-legged robot relearn to walk after 1 leg was injured. It won 1st grand prize in Texas in 2004 :)
aidos 13 hours ago 2 replies      
Part of me loves this and the rest of me worries about how little chance I'll stand surviving the robot apocalypse. The adapted behaviour looks like a wounded, yet unstoppable, machine hell-bent on carrying out its mission.

In a different life I'd definitely have worked in robotics.

ppod 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Reminds of these cool evolutionary algorithm simulations:


lttlrck 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Is it just me or does it look a lot more animal-like when it's limping?
zoba 11 hours ago 2 replies      
The second video gave me an idea: it would be really great if the thing was damaged and could create a model of its damaged self in a simulation... Then it could play out different gaits (presumably at faster-than-reality speeds) to determine an optimal new gait. It doesn't seem like this team is too far away from that.
MechSkep 9 hours ago 0 replies      
Okay... but actual animals do way better:


As a rule of thumb, any walking robot that uses servos can't approach the performance of its animal colleagues. The leg impedance is way too high.

owlish 12 hours ago 0 replies      
I love the part where the sim flips on its back and starts flailing. Thinking outside the box!
dang 14 hours ago 0 replies      
Supreme Courts new rules on abstract patents hit Apple v. Samsung
65 points by Deinos  15 hours ago   38 comments top 9
mratzloff 13 hours ago 3 replies      
> [A] computer process that enables a single machine to distribute a single information identifier and provide that to multiple rules of thumb so that each rule of thumb can search different locations using different criteria designed for that location is a major innovation in computer science; it improves the speed and efficiency of the computer and generates more useful results. It is not an abstract idea.

Thanks to Apple, we now have the technology to pass a parameter to multiple functions implementing the same interface. Incredible!

codeka 12 hours ago 1 reply      
(1) to detect contact with the touch-sensitive display at a first predefined location corresponding to an unlock image; (2) to continuously move the unlock image on the touch-sensitive display in accordance with movement of the detected contact; (3) to unlock the hand held electronic device if the unlock image is moved from the first predefined location on the touch screen to a predefined unlock region on the touch-sensitive display; and (4) visual cues to communicate a direction of movement of the unlock image required to unlock the device.

It really sounds like Apple's lawyers are struggling to make "drag the image to unlock" sound more complicated than it really is.

asadotzler 14 hours ago 4 replies      
The swipe to unlock patent sure does sound like a simple slide door bolt with "do it on a computer" tacked on. Where's the invention here?


aetherson 11 hours ago 2 replies      
Slide-to-unlock was probably a pretty important, cool idea for whoever first invented it (not Apple -- though maybe they reinvented it from scratch). It's one of those things that's obvious in retrospect but difficult to necessarily think of when you're starting from a white page.

But not all important, cool ideas are patentable -- nor should they be. Patents are meant to reward research, not "good ideas."

dctoedt 12 hours ago 2 replies      
We're going to see lots more of these claims by patent-infringement defendants, whose trial counsel will figure, what the hell, let's give it a shot.

Therein lies the practical problem with the Supreme Court's decision in Alice Corp. [1]: Just about any new technology could be described as a "generic implementation" of an abstract idea --- which the Court said is unpatentable. The Court gave us little or no useful guidance for distinguishing between an unpatentable generic implementation and a patentable "invention."

[1] http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-298_7lh8.pdf

shmerl 5 hours ago 0 replies      
I hope Samsung will succeed in knocking out these patents. They indeed shouldn't have been granted to begin with. Hopefully more knockouts will follow (not just for Apple, but for anyone who abused the patent system by using the "on the computer" trick).
throwawaykf05 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Misleading headline, but on par for Ars reporting on patents. It makes it sound like Apple has been negatively affected due to the Alice ruling, whereas all that has happened is Samsung has made a new argument that they should be. There has been no response from the Judge yet.
sopooneo 5 hours ago 0 replies      
Is there going to be a big freeing up of lots of obvious patents in the late twenty-teens? I feel like a lot of this started in the late 90's, and I believe they only last twenty years. So will a lot of this just go away soon?
jessriedel 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Does this mean we'll be able to use the "stretch" behavior when finger-scrolling past the end of a list on a Galaxy, or will we be stuck with the inferior "glow" technique.
Experimenting with Mozjpeg 2.0
96 points by jgrahamc  17 hours ago   20 comments top 7
kyriakos 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Summary: mozjpeg slightly better than libjpeg-turbo but slower to compress.

cloudflare assigned an engineer to optimize the library for speed and they plan to contribute the optimizations back.

frik 4 hours ago 0 replies      
The last paragraph mentions that Cloudflare uses LuaJIT (and C++ Aho-Corasick).

Cloudflare uses the OpenResty web server (Nginx+LuaJIT), that's quite interesting: http://blog.cloudflare.com/pushing-nginx-to-its-limit-with-l.... OpenResty is one of the top performing web servers in this well known benchmark: http://www.techempower.com/benchmarks/ , http://openresty.org/

pornel 15 hours ago 1 reply      
They're sticking to lossless optimizations, so they're only benefiting from the "jpegcrush" part of mozjpeg that chooses separation of progressive scans for best compression.

The difference would be bigger if they used mozjpeg for lossy (re)compression as well, as then they'd also get trellis quantization.

skal65535 10 hours ago 1 reply      
Mozjpeg's gain come partly from using progressive JPEG encoding, which is also available in libjpeg-turbo. See the post http://www.libjpeg-turbo.org/About/Mozjpeg from libjpeg-turbo's author.And actually, the photo_3.jpg picture in the blog-post is progressive jpeg.So the command line for a fair comparison should probably be:jpegtran -outfile out.jpg -optimise -copy none -progressive in.jpg
jsnell 16 hours ago 1 reply      
The zlib fork with "massive performance improvements" appears to perform worse than the earlier and actively developed zlib performance patch set from Intel [1]. Why start from scratch?

[1] https://github.com/jtkukunas/zlib

Siecje 15 hours ago 1 reply      
So switch to mozjpeg 2.0? You only need to compress once. You have to serve the file many times, and it reduces storage space.
bhouston 14 hours ago 0 replies      
I am very curious about the zlib improvements. I would like to see more details about that.
Less research is needed
79 points by zootar  14 hours ago   13 comments top 7
antognini 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Last year a professor in my department (astronomy) suggested that he and I write a similar tongue-in-cheek paper to be published on April 1. The idea was to promote a moratorium on new astronomical data for one year. This would give observers time to reduce all the data they've already collected and theorists time to catch up to the observers.

It's facetious, of course, but there was a serious point behind it all. There is a certain tendency in science for a researcher to perform the same study over and over again just using larger or slightly modified data sets simply because that's what he knows how to do. Most of the time these sorts of Version 2.0 studies just reduce the error bars on the result without telling anyone anything new.

Now, of course, sometimes interesting results do come from such things. But much more often interesting results come from studies that attack a radically different problem or use a radically different approach. Science is a manpower-limited, not data-limited endeavor. Scientists have a finite amount of time that they can devote to research and they have to choose what projects to work on. There is still a great deal of low-hanging fruit---projects that require relatively small amounts of funding, relatively small amounts of manpower, and have the potential to yield genuinely new results. There are, for example, some really excellent projects that are being done with a telescope that basically consists of putting a commercial camera lens on a telescope mount [1]. But the difficulty of these sorts of projects is that they require creativity, and that is hard to come by. I'm not faulting anyone, though---I'm not an especially creative researcher myself!

Part of the problem is that grant agencies have a strong bias towards funding incremental science. While they say that they are in favor of funding breakthrough science rather than incremental science, the projects that actually get funded tell a different story. And it's hard to blame them because no one knows a good way to predict breakthrough results. It's an especially difficult problem to solve for theorists---in order to write a compelling theory proposal you basically have to have solved the problem already!

I've heard a number of solutions to these problems, but they're all as compelling to me as a year-long data moratorium (which, to be fair, would indeed force the community to become more creative). Hmm, maybe I'll actually write up that paper for April 1, 2015.

[1] http://www.astronomy.ohio-state.edu/~assassin/index.shtml

danieltillett 9 hours ago 1 reply      
There are so many issues raised here that it hard to know where to respond.

1. Once area we could stop is useless data-mined correlation studies that show statistical significance (assuming you ignore that data-mining has occurred) between action X and outcome Y - the sort where a retrospective study of 500,000 nurses finds that eating candied peanuts reduces prostate cancer by 15%. The rule of thumb in any of these studies is that unless the effect is 300% or greater (smoking and lung cancer is 1500%) then the result is certain to be garbage.

2. We need less novel research and more replication of past results. The whole scientific system is set up to reward novelty over accuracy. It is so bad that unless I have seen two independent groups repeat something I doubt it is real no matter how famous the group.

3. We need to reward being right over being first. Right now groups rush papers out so they dont get scooped and so dont check their results as well as they should. I would personally like to remove the date off all scientific papers to stop these silly games - after all if something is true does it become less true just because it was published last year rather than last week.

4. We need to reward people who put the effort into replicating work. A simple proposal would be to give publication right to every group that replicated (or could not replicate) a study in the same journal. If some study is published in Nature and you go to the effort of replicating it then you should get an automatic Nature publication.

5. Stop scientist from holding on to raw data. In theory scientist are supposed to share their data, but in practice this doesnt happen very often. It should be possible to report groups that dont share data to the funding bodies and if they are found to not be not sharing (or only sharing some of the data) then the group is banned from getting any new funding. It would only take a few banning to stop this immoral data hoarding.

ISL 12 hours ago 0 replies      
> On my first day in (laboratory) research, I was told that if there is a genuine and important phenomenon to be detected, it will become evident after taking no more than six readings from the instrument.

This is the reverse of a rule of thumb I find useful, that if you wish to measure something and get an approximate picture of your uncertainty, you should measure it 7-8 times.

The author's rule of thumb hinges delicately upon the definition of "readings", in particular upon the reach and precision of a given reading. I can look in the sky on dark nights and see Mercury, but even if I watch it through binoculars for years, I'll never resolve the "Genuine and Important" precession of its orbit [1], the first solid evidence for General Relativity.

Some important phenomena are subtle and rare. You can watch a liter of pure water for ~1500 years before you can expect a single neutrino from the Sun to interact and make a tiny flash of light [2].

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tests_of_general_relativity#Cla...

[2] http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/super-kamiokande

adamtj 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Perhaps this is one of those white lies we tell to justify doing the right thing. A dishonest means to an honest end.

Is this maybe how researchers publish negative results without having to admit failure? We often complain about the dearth of published negative results. We talk about pre-registering studies and so forth.

It seems better to me for researchers to recast a negative result as an inconclusive positive result "requiring more study", than to not publish it at all. Just because there is a call for further research doesn't mean we have to do it.

Pxtl 13 hours ago 2 replies      
> Despite consistent and repeated evidence that electronic patient record systems can be expensive, resource-hungry, failure-prone and unfit for purpose, we need more studies to prove what we know to be the case: that replacing paper with technology will inevitably save money, improve health outcomes, assure safety and empower staff and patients.

Paper-based systems are also failure-prone and unfit for purpose. They just fail in familiar ways that the old guard have accepted as just part of the business.

gwern 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Joof 11 hours ago 0 replies      
Maybe smarter research is needed? It seems to me that the problem is a similar one to what data science is trying to solve. How do we make sense of all this data?

Of course more research is still needed in many areas anyway.

Show HN: My first iPhone game after 18 months of work
91 points by benolds  16 hours ago   25 comments top 11
orta 1 hour ago 0 replies      
I played this till level 20, enjoyed it. Tried to buy it but the app crashes when you hit the buy button on iOS8 betas.
brianchu 11 hours ago 1 reply      
Awesome. I remember giving you a coin for my vote at the MIT demo day 1.5 years ago, and was pretty disappointed when I didn't see it released afterwards. Really happy to see it now!
pistoriusp 15 hours ago 1 reply      
I see that it's published by "www.makegameswith.us," so I'm presuming that you participated in the course?

Do you share revenue with them? If so is the course discounted if you choose to do so?

Or do you assume some level of revenue share and general publicity?

prawn 9 hours ago 1 reply      
I'm not 100% on the art/polish, but I really like the idea; I think it's good enough to warrant a bit more attention on the design side.

Very cool concept and I can imagine kids and adults alike being able to get something from it. Going to download it now. Best of luck with it!

Update: Downloaded and played it. Definitely needs polish but the basic mechanics are good. With a bit more gamification of the progress through levels, I could see this being an excellent little game for a kid especially.

Red and green making yellow might confuse children though whose mixing experience with paints would have them expect brown?

vermooten 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Great, very nice idea. You should be proud and not pay much attention to the negative vibes that some people are putting out. They have their own issues to deal with.
_random_ 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Great game, just releasing something is already a great achievement. But why planets in space and not magic orbs in a dungeon? I expect some orbital movement and gravitational pull :).
dangero 14 hours ago 1 reply      
Kind of off topic, but that award wreath you put on the screenshot does wonders for sales from what I've seen. It's instant credibility almost regardless of what the award was.
chasing 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Very similar to Illume, which came out last year and was recently showcased at Sonar+D: http://sonar.es/en/2014/prg/sm/illume_164

Was that an inspiration?

fataliss 14 hours ago 0 replies      
While the concept and dynamics are looking pretty great so far, I really have a hard time with the design/art! Like the level selection screen design looks really "amateur". White halo with cyan lines in between is probably the worst part for me :P
graedus 15 hours ago 1 reply      
Nicely done! Good idea and execution, congrats.
funkyy 13 hours ago 1 reply      
18 months is kind a long. As a game developer I suggest you jumping on some easier platform like GameMaker or Construct 2 and just learn from vast tutorials available.

The game is very nice and I like the gameplay - it is engaging. Good luck with sales!

Twitter Reports Second Quarter 2014 Results
67 points by antr  13 hours ago   45 comments top 14
pptr1 12 hours ago 3 replies      
From an investor standpoint I don't get why the stock is up 30%. I could understand if the stock was going to up 1-8%, but 30+%? Is it all the shorts covering? Is it the fact they brought in a wall street insider as CFO (Anthony Noto).

Wall Street was expecting a loss of 1 cent per share, but they surprised on earnings of 2 cents a share. Not a huge surprise.

Other things that irk me about the stock.

Management, I don't feel a warm and fuzzy having a non founder has a CEO. Nothing that Dick Costello has done to show me he has any long term vision.They fired almost everyone is senior management. Which shows signs of instability.*I haven't seen any product innovations come out of twitter from a end user standpoint organically.

epa 12 hours ago 1 reply      
The most important figure to look at here is the cash flow statement. Consider that they are actually cash positive from operations, but are spending more than 1.5x the cash they get from operations on buying companies. Consider also that a lot of their staff are cashing out on their stock options which is the big reason for the GAAP to non-GAAP differences in net income.
discardorama 12 hours ago 3 replies      
"revenue doubled, but losses tripled"..

There's a reason they brought in that Goldman Sachs guy. And it looks like he has delivered, extracting "profit" out of the numbers.

I'd love to short the stock if I had the spare cash. But as they say, the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent. :-(

Also: how much of this jump is due to the World Cup?

fizx 12 hours ago 1 reply      
You guys are all focusing on the financial numbers. The real news is that TWTR added 16M MAUs, when the bulls forecast 11M, and the bears forecast 6M.
rubyn00bie 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I'd just like to point out, their loss was pretty much solely the result of a $158 million dollar compensation expense.

"Net loss GAAP net loss was $145 million for the second quarter of 2014 compared to a net loss of $42 million in the same period last year. Twitter's GAAP net loss included $158 million of stock-based compensation expense."

Thats probably why the "loss" is mostly irrelevant to the stock price increasing. Depending of course on what you think that business action means for the company.

As well, growth is accelerating (increasing at the margins [i.e. The derivative of growth is increasing]).

... Make of it what you will, that's the magic (investing) part.

austenallred 13 hours ago 3 replies      
That revenue number is an increase of 124% over the $139 million revenues from Twitters second quarter last year.

So yes, Twitter still posted a $145 million loss, but if we extrapolate (never good business practice, but an interesting thought experiment) and they do the same next year, they will be profitable by 2015.

It's unlikely that will happen, but there's light at the end of the tunnel.

amorphid 12 hours ago 2 replies      
I've never been particularly bullish on Twitter's ability to make money, mostly because their business model isn't obvious to me. That being said, the fact that they are going to exceed $1 billion in revenue is really impressive to me. I've heard various bearish news over the years: Rails doesn't scale, they will never make money, user growth is slowing, etc. For a company with so many people betting against them, they seem to be pretty good at overcoming challenge's! It won't surprise me to see them making the big bucks in a year or two. Good luck Twitter!
calpaterson 12 hours ago 1 reply      
Can someone who knows more than me explain why tech companies are including non-GAAP figures (that are more flattering)?
taylorbuley 12 hours ago 0 replies      
Perhaps one of the ways Twitter was able to report MAU increases: subsidized data. Note the lack of geographic breakdown of whence these users came.


olivermarks 11 hours ago 1 reply      

Twitter are doing the old Facebook scam of having telco's freebie data use in return for getting people hooked on posturing and heart on sleeve 'sharing'...

markdown 7 hours ago 0 replies      
Millions of dollars, but try to send a DM with a link and you get "internal server error", just like you got a year ago.
thegenius 13 hours ago 2 replies      
if you read the 8k, they doubled revenues but more than tripled losses. all this nongaap bullshit. read the footnotes. they removed stock based compensation and depreciation. how in the hell are those non operational charges? stock soars. hrm... lets make it look like were profitable so our lottery tickets are worth more. no thanks
kbradero 12 hours ago 0 replies      
i keep wondering how they earn money to keep going (honest question)
jcampbell1 10 hours ago 0 replies      
This report is worthless by itself. Who cares about Year-over-Year numbers for a high growth company. The results vs the previous quarter are most relevant. Sure, there is a holiday effect in Q4 for ad businesses, but the QoQ comparison is the only thing worth looking at.
'Milestone' for child malaria vaccine
31 points by signa11  10 hours ago   discuss
Nine Nations of North America 30 years Later
101 points by iamjdg  20 hours ago   50 comments top 13
pacofvf 15 hours ago 1 reply      
As Mexican I can give you an update about the Five Nations of Mexico:

http://www.csuchico.edu/~sbrady/357fivenationsofmexico.pdf (1987)

> "More than three decades after publication, two things amaze me: how little the boundaries have changed and how much chatter this idea is getting recently. "

This is also true for the Mexican Nations, although the Mexican nations started a new experiment called "Democracy" in the 2000, they chose a tri-party system. Also boundaries have changed , Mexamerica have expanded north of the border defined 30 years ago, but also lose territory to it's southern neighbor, New Spain. In a way the Mexamerican nation is moving to the North. Thanks to NAFTA, Mexamerica economy became richer and interlaced. Mexamerica became politically powerful in the mid-2000's just to see lose its leverage because of the great recession and the drug war, being politically neutralized in 2012 elections. Although things are returning to normality Mexamerica saw many of the bloodiest battles in the Drug war. Once the richest of the Nations, its economic supremacy it's being contested by Metromex and New Spain.

New Spain saw great progress, it diversified its crops thanks to NAFTA. It created a new industrial corridor comprising the cities of Len, Aguascalientes, Irapuato, Celaya, Salamanca which many were part of Mexamerica but now are tied economically and culturally to New Spain and now are home to Nissan, Texas Instruments, General Motors, and many other's factories. IT companies like Intel, IBM, Freescale, HP, Oracle, Hitachi, etc. built its regional headquarters at Guadalajara. By not relying in the demand of Metromex, it gained the political power it always wanted in the Federation congress.

Metromex saw it's political power now reduced to a distant memory. The middle class not ceased to grow and now is one of the biggest markets for many industries worldwide. It transformed its economy from an industry oriented to a service oriented. It bulldozed its factories to make space for skyscrapers and transformed it's colony to the west, Toluca, to it's new industrial hub. It reached the 8th place on the 2008 PwC Richest Cities ranking. In a few years it will become a true cosmopolitan megalopolis stretching to Queretaro to the north, Puebla to the east, Cuernavaca to the south and Toluca to the west.

Club Mex received new territorial additions, Punta Mita from New Spain, Los Cabos from Mexamerica, the whole south pacific and Caribbean coast from South Mexico. Although it hasn't gained the political power it deserves, Club Mex grew to became 30% of the Federation GDP. Club Mex future is the most uncertain, climate change and the pressure from the organized crime pose a great threat to many of its inhabitants which many are immigrants from the First world and South America.

South Mexico is still stuck in the past, the massive immigration in the 80's and 90's to the United States had left many towns deserted, while many others only inhabited with old people and children. Its economy was destroyed by the NAFTA, unable to compete to North-American farmers it has tried to become the new Club Mex with mixed results, one of the most notable success is Chiapas.

toddsiegel 17 hours ago 5 replies      
Similar to the 7 States of Facebook which surfaced a few years ago.


Culturally some of these boundaries seem more accurate.

s_q_b 18 hours ago 4 replies      
Very cool idea. Although the recent oil and natural gas booms are fast transforming "The Empty Quarter" into "Extractopia" where oil, gas, logging, and mineral extraction, which are already the main industries, are going to become an increasingly important driver of overall North American economic growth.
taneliv 17 hours ago 1 reply      
I am not from Americas, and had never heard of the concept of Nine Nations. If you're equally lost with some of the terms ("Dixie"? "The Foundry"?) or the overall theory, this sheds some light on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nine_Nations but unfortunately does not provide links for some of the regions). Anyone know of a better online exposition?
huherto 16 hours ago 0 replies      
I loved this one. I feel is really helping me understand the USA. http://books.google.com/books/about/American_Nations.html?id...
raldi 18 hours ago 0 replies      
A nicer name for the "empty quarter" would be Marlboro Country.
tdaltonc 6 hours ago 0 replies      
"American Nations: a History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures" is a more historically rigorous look at this idea. I highly recommend the book.
roberthahn 19 hours ago 6 replies      
Has anyone read this book? What were your thoughts on it?
dugmartin 13 hours ago 0 replies      
The map splits Illinois pretty well. I was born and raised in northern Illinois until I was 10, moved to southern Illinois and then lived and worked in Chicago after grad school. It is a very different state depending on where you live. I just went back to my 25th high school reunion and after living away for 20 years I was surprised at the southern "accents" some of my friends had.
bostonpete 16 hours ago 1 reply      
I'd carve off an additional nation stretching from Boston to D.C. Putting NYC in a declining industrial nation with Detroit as its capital seems puzzling even for 30 years ago...
cesarbs 16 hours ago 3 replies      
Why "Empty Quarter"? What's the reason behind that name?
jqm 6 hours ago 0 replies      
I find this just dumb.

Of course you can make arbitrary divisions but that doesn't mean they are relevant. Not that the US can't be divided, but these lines aren't it.

The central-southern part of Florida has little in common with Kentucky nowadays. Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver and Salt Lake are large metropolitan areas with cultures very different from rural Alaska.

michaelochurch 16 hours ago 1 reply      
Ecotopia (or Cascadia) has split irrevocably. Silicon Valley is not part of it. Far Northern California (which is Oregon-like in climate and culture) might be, but that's sparsely inhabited.

Silicon Valley (an emerging city state with severe, criminal levels of private sector corruption in addition to public incompetence, both forces producing a housing crisis) is paper-belt in denial. It will never admit so, but the negative aspects of California (mostly due not to locals, but to an area systematically attracting the worst of the East-- greedy businessmen who aren't capable enough to play with the big boys in NYC, so they move west) have moved north. The trash that the elite used to dump on Los Angeles is now being dumped on San Francisco, as failed McKinseys become VCs and founders.

It's definitely not Mex-America, either.

The Copenhagen Wheel: Electric pedal-assist motor in the hub of a bicycle wheel
55 points by nkurz  15 hours ago   34 comments top 11
awjr 9 hours ago 2 replies      
I think the issue with electric bikes is that until you try one out you have no idea what you are missing out on. Recently I was able to test a direct drive (The motor is in the bottom bracket and assists you pedalling). It's phenomenal.

I could easily go up very steep hills without a lot of effort and I weigh 270lb. I could even vary the help it was giving me and choose to have more of a workout.

What I would suggest is that if you are on the heavy side or intend to carry heavy loads, direct drive is the best for you.

One negative side to the e-bike legislation is that in the UK, it's speed limited to assist up to 15MPH and on 250W motors. To a certain extent I have no issue with the assist cutting out at 15MPH (20 would be nicer), however the 250W limit reduces torque and if you had a load of shopping with you, this could be an issue.

The issue I find with the Copenhagen wheel is that it is trying to think for you and you control the wheel through your phone. When riding, I prefer not to remove my hands from the handle bar. Most if not all ebike configurations place the motor control near a thumb as if you were holding on to the handle bar. My criticism may be unfounded, but you need control sometimes at a moments notice.

The other issue is one of battery charging. Most people that I know that have an ebike, have bought two chargers, one for work and one for home, and charge their batteries at both ends by removing the battery from the bike and leaving the bike locked up in the parking lot. The copenhagen wheel doesn't seem to support that idea.

hyperion2010 4 hours ago 0 replies      
I was biking to work the other day and had a guy pass me using one of these on his front wheel. It was completely silent and he practically doubled my speed on a road bike just cruising. I'm used to being one of the faster commuters, so my brain did a pretty serious double take. Having had a nasty crash at normal speed I will say that I would seriously suggest wearing more protective clothing if you are going to roll with one of these.
cypher543 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Just in case anyone else is wondering, this is indeed the same wheel that Andy promoted throughout season 7 of Showtime's "Weeds". I had no idea it was a real thing, so I assumed this was a joke at first.
berryg 13 hours ago 1 reply      
I recently bought this German bike: http://en.r-m.de/bike/mixte-nuvinci-hs-hybrid/. It does 45 km/h for about 50km. You always have to pedal. A cruising speed of 35 km/h is very realistic. Without breaking a sweat. You can also select for less pedal assistance and the battery almost lasts 100 km. I consider it very real alternative for using a car to commute if you have to travel up to 35 km to work.
cottonseed 13 hours ago 3 replies      
Electric bicycles with pedal assist were ubiquitous in Shanghai 10 years ago. The most common design I saw had a removable/rechargeable battery that was mounted on the down tube.
tux1968 14 hours ago 2 replies      
Great idea, but not sure US$800 price point will be attractive to a large market. At half that price, these would likely fly off the shelves though.
dsr_ 9 hours ago 2 replies      
My commute is 12 miles by road (8 straight-line); it takes about an hour on public transportation, or about 45 minutes by car.

Every so often I think about a Segway or an electric bicycle or Acme rocket-skates or what-have-you. But nothing is ever cheap enough to let me try it out and not be extremely unhappy at wasting money if it doesn't work out. If they came with a 30 day no-questions return, or could be rented for a month, I might find something I like enough to buy.

ArkyBeagle 10 hours ago 0 replies      
Oatley electronics sells a much less elegant electric bike kit ( you supply the bike and, I presume, the battery ) for considerably less money.


yellowapple 13 hours ago 1 reply      
Are there certain bikes that this is compatible with? The photos don't make it look like it would fit on my current bike. Is it just for road bikes, or would it work on a mountain bike as well?

Also, has anyone tested this thing out on steep hills?

Theodores 11 hours ago 0 replies      
In a normal bicycle shop it is very hard to actually sell an actual electric bike.

There hasn't been anything fundamentally wrong with the product there just isn't meaningful demand. It is not as if people see the bike, want one but cannot afford it. It is not as if people want the electric bike but find the product falls short of expectations. Only a few brands actually have electric bikes, e.g. Giant, and the general idea is pedal assist up to 15 mph because of legal reasons.

The detachable battery pack of such 'conventional' electric bikes is practical for the typical customer as you can take the battery out and recharge it without running some power cord to the bike shed/street. This all-in-one wheel lacks that practical aspect so it will be another far-too-clever-idea that goes nowhere. Also, the iphone hookup is great in principle but, as per the Giant e-bikes, all you need is a simple switch between eco and power modes on the handlebar. Your legs can do all the other aspects of power management far more effectively than some bluetooth gizmo.

I think that the key to winning people over to electric bikes is for cities like London and Paris to upgrade their fleets of hire bikes to be electric. People would have a go, see what fun electric bikes are, experience how safe they are due to the manoeuvrability that comes with that helpful bit of extra power, go home and think about getting one for their commute or leisure needs.

devindotcom 9 hours ago 0 replies      
It's a cool thing, but why does it keep turning up? The Copenhagen Wheel was invented in 2009 and refreshed at the end of last year in a crowdfunding project. And just today an editor pitched me on the idea that e-bikes using this or other methods were about to blow up. E-bike makers have been telling me that for years...
Debian and the PHP license
118 points by jpswade  20 hours ago   81 comments top 10
davidw 18 hours ago 0 replies      
My own small contribution to a Debian Licensing Hassle:


I cold-called one of those guys and he was kind of amused by the whole thing. It was not much fun though.

ecaron 19 hours ago 5 replies      
Another conversation along the similar vein of "Debian putting its foot down about a license" is Firefox (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Corporation_software_re...
jpswade 16 hours ago 1 reply      
From time to time people raise concerns of using PEAR packages licensed under the PHP license in GPL'ed code. In a discussion about this topic, the creator of PHP, Rasmus Lerdorf, issued the following statement:

It all comes down to semantics of what linking means. The PHP license is pretty much identical to the Apache license and you could indeed make a case for not allowing any GPL'ed software to be "linked to" from Apache either.

See http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-1.1.

The PHP license was chosen to match the Apache license because Apache and PHP are tied so closely to each other.

This hair splitting over linking, derivation and aggregation has been going on since the beginning of time. My stance is that you can indeed ship PHP licensed PEAR components on the same cd or in the same tarball as GPL'ed code because I see it as an aggregate work. This changes if you take PEAR code, modify it and copy-paste it directly into your own work. Then it moves from aggregate to derived. But the intent of the PEAR components is to be used in aggregate form. The PHP license allows you to use it in derived form as well, of course, but then you should be choosing a license other than the GPL for the derived work.

The FSF has a FAQ on aggregation here: http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/gpl-faq.html#MereAggre...

That text is heavily biased towards compiled software and they talk about executables and memory spaces which don't really apply in this case. If you don't consider using a PEAR component as aggregation then it logically follows that you also cannot have Apache call your code so you will have to stipulate that nobody can use your code from Apache. I think this is an extreme interpretation that pretty much nobody out there shares.

In short, I don't see an issue here. Move along.

For PECL extensions that are linked into PHP, the license must be compatible with the PHP license. That means you can not GPL a PECL extension or you would be violating the GPL. Note also that if you write an extension that links against a GPL'ed library you will be violating the GPL. If you need to link against a GPL'ed library, get permission from the author of the library to use the library under a compatible license.

The license of any PEAR/PECL package can be found in the head of all source code files, inside the <license> tag of the package description file (package.xml) and also on the package homepage.

coldtea 14 hours ago 0 replies      
>Big surprise: distribution that actually cares about user freedom and therefore licensing has issues with crappily written or inappropriately used licenses.

Another big surprise: issue most users don't give a flying duck about, lingers on for several years or perhaps forever. The world goes about its business, and continues using PHP.

VLM 18 hours ago 3 replies      
TLDR is the license is specifically intentionally designed to only be applied to certain named products from exactly one named group of coders, but random internet people are applying it to random code written by random people.

A bad HN automobile analogy would be if Ford had a clickwrap license on all new cars that summarized to "This Focus model car is provided by Ford, Ford wrote this Focus model car UI, Ford distributes this specific Ford Focus model, and you can officially do the FOSS thing with it, including Ford will not provide any guarantees". (note I'm guessing this isn't the real license on the ford focus UI, LOL, just a made up example)

And then GM sells a car, lets say, the Buick LaCrosse, and for reasons of apparent insanity slaps the Ford license on their car.

Next people are all WTF because GM released something under a license claiming that Ford owns it, wrote it, distributes it, and Ford won't provide guarantees (implying, I guess, that GM will).

Can I legally resell a GM car that claims its owned by Ford? So who owns this "GM" car, and if the license slapped on it is literally nonsense, is it even legally licensed software? So you're trying to sell a LaCross under the Focus license, are you claiming this thing is actually a Focus or that GM is a division of Ford, or Ford won't provide warranty coverage so I guess its implied GM will. If the license claims this is owned by Ford, but I bought it from a GM dealer, who's permission do I need to ask to relicense if needed? If I intentionally violate the license, can GM sue me if in writing they claim Ford owns this software, not GM? Or if Ford wanted, just to be jerks, could they sue me for using this GM software, because after all the license says Ford owns it. If the software crashes and kills people is a license falsely claiming Ford owns it a legal liability for GM for defamation (Ford owns it, its their fault not ours)?

jessaustin 18 hours ago 2 replies      
Matthias Urlichs wins the thread:

"I'd be for this [removing offending PHP modules] in a heartbeat if it would make people switch to a saner programming language, but that's wishful thinking."

chris_wot 18 hours ago 3 replies      
What is the contradictory part of the license? And... What's the point if a license that contradicts itself? How on earth do they expect to enforce their conditions?

It's things like this that make me think "what did we do to deserve PHP?"

rebolek 17 hours ago 0 replies      
So the PHP license is as good as PHP itself. What a surprise.
mangecoeur 15 hours ago 0 replies      
Not directly relevant, but is it me is is lwn.net one of the ugliest sites ever. practically anything, including dropping all the formatting altogether, would make it look better.In that vein, I think I've identified a CS-specific visual syndrome that makes CS people always choose a bizarre shade of salmon pink for everything. See aforementioned lwn sidebar, and other exhibitshttp://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/hframe.htmlhttp://www.lyx.org/images/about/main_window.png(there are others i can't be bothered finding right now, apache foundation has a number of gems, and more that have thankfully been redesigned in the last few years)
bellerocky 17 hours ago 1 reply      
> It is clear, he said, that PHP doesn't care about the misuse of its license and the misusers don't understand that they are making a mistake.

You could replace "license" with a lot of other words and it would still a possibly accurate statement. "mysql api" comes to mind, as well as "classes" and "URL query variables like $_GET"...

       cached 30 July 2014 10:02:01 GMT