Best of Hacker News for July 26th, 2013

Light completely stopped for a record-breaking minute

Scientist George Heinze and colleagues at the University of Darmstadt, Germany have slowed light to a complete standstill for a record 60 seconds.

This feat was achieved by firing a control laser at an opaque crystal, making it transparent to a narrow range of frequencies due to the atoms entering a quantum superposition of two states. A second laser was then fired at the crystal in the transparent state. On the second laser beam entering the crystal, the first beam was turned off, temporarily halting the second beam. A magnetic field was used to extend the life of the experiment. An algorithm was used to ‘breed’ increasingly successful combinations of the beam and magnetic field, leading to the combination that delivered the one minute record.

The feat could allow secure quantum communications to work over long distances.

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How do I “think in AngularJS” if I have a jQuery background?

User Mark Rajcok posed this question on the technical Q&A site StackOverflow. Mark’s question centred on the paradigm shift in thinking on architecture, practices to stop or take up and server-side considerations. The accepted answer (with 1995 up-votes!), provided by user Josh David Miller focuses on the following points:

  1. Don’t Design Your Page, then Change it with DOM Manipulations
  2. Don’t Augment jQuery with AngularJS
  3. Always Think in Terms of Architecture
  4. Always use Test-Driven Development
  5. Conceptually, Directives Are Not Packaged jQuery

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Probabilistic Programming and Bayesian Methods for Hackers

In this article, author Cam Davidson-Pilon summarises his book on probabilistic programming and bayesian methods for hackers. The book is an introductory guide with the main premise being that a conceptual understanding of the topic should come before the slow, mathematical analysis. Based around the PyMC Python library, the book covers the following territory:

  • An introduction to Bayesian methods.
  • Modeling using Python’s PyMC library through examples.
  • The operation of Markov Chain Monte Carlo and diagnostic tools.
  • The incredibly useful Law of Large Numbers theorem.
  • Loss functions in Bayesian methods.
  • An examination of prior choices.

The book’s contents are open sourced and readers are encouraged to submit content or revisions through GitHub.

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OVH launches 2.99€/mo dedicated servers (2G RAM, 500G disk)

Just as the title suggests. Simple, dedicated servers via for under 3 Euros, or roughly $4 US dollars. The servers are on atom based chips. There is debate in the comments on the extent to which the atom chip is a limitation.

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Watsi (YC W13) raises $1.2M first-of-its-kind ‘philanthropic seed round’ is a crowdfunding platform that enables people to donate toward medical care for people in need around the world. Following a pitch at Y Combinator’s demo day 3 months earlier, Watsi is now announcing a contribution of $1.2 million from 13 high profile members of the Silicon Valley community. The contributors listed are Paul Graham, Tencent, Y Combinator, Ron Conway, Vinod Khosla, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Joe Greenstein, Eric Wu, Geoff Ralston, Uprising, Jasmine Social Investments, InnoSpring/TEEC Angel Fund and Michael Sidgmore.

100% of every donation through Watsi’s website goes towards providing medical care.

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“NASDAQ is owned.” Five men charged in largest financial hack ever

Between 2005 and 2012 five European men allegedly operated a global hacking operation targeting some of the world’s largest financial institutions. Targets of the attacks included the Nasdaq stock exchange, Citibank, PNC Bank, Heartland Payment Systems, 7-Eleven, JCPenney and Hannaford Brothers, prosecutors alleged. Vulnerabilities were allegedly exploited via SQL injection, with the level of infiltration increasing over a period of months giving the hackers access to more than 160 million credit cards, and created hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.

If convicted on all charges, the five men stand to face decades in prison.

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Obama Promises Disappear from Web

As recently as June 8th, 2013, the Obama Administration’s vision for reform was still accessible on their website. Now, the site simply points to, stating that ‘The transition has ended and the new administration has begun’. The article speculates that a possible reason for the change is that the administration’s ethics agenda sits uncomfortably with current political circumstances. A passage from the ethics agenda relating specifically to ‘Project Whistleblowers’ is quoted in the article to emphasise the point.

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Chinese firm Huawei controls net filter praised by PM

It has been revealed that the porn filter implemented by UK Telecommunications operator TalkTalk is controlled by the Chinese firm Huawei. UK based employees of Huawei make decisions as to which sites are blocked and which are not. Huawei’s involvement is controversial due to concerns amongst some in the US and UK about the closeness of ties between the company and the Chinese government. US intelligence committees have branded Huawei a threat to national security.

Huawei has countered that the company should not be treated unfairly just because it was Chinese and that it is 98.6% owned by its employees.

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UK Porn Filter Will Censor Other Content Too, ISPs Reveal

UK  Prime Minister David Cameron has announced further details of his censorship plans for adult material. Part of the controversy surrounding the filter relates to what other material may be filtered along with pornography. Following conversations with employees of ISPs, the Open Rights Group has suggested that other types of material may indeed be in the firing line. The article points to UK Telecommunications operator TalkTalk’s voluntary filter as an example of the categories that might be covered, including:

  • Dating
  • Drugs, alcohol and tobacco
  • File sharing sites
  • Gambling
  • Games
  • Pornography
  • Social networking
  • Suicide and self harm
  • Weapons and violence

TalkTalk’s filter has previously been singled out for praise by the UK PM.

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Passive Income Hacker vs Startup Guy

A short, hypothetical exchange between a Passive Income Hacker and Startup Guy. In this satirical conversation, the contrasts between the two worlds are revealed, highlighting that the Passive Income Hacker holds the upper hand in areas such as location independence and work-life balance.

The article is written by Myles Krecny, founder of Followgen.

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