The Internet, Part 1: Basics, Servers and the World Wide Web

The Internet. We use it everyday, most of us blissfully oblivious to the way it works. Like cars, or magnets. It has transformed computers—which were amazing to begin with—into virtually endless wells of knowledge and possibilities.

What is it?

My grandmother used to think her web browser was the Internet, which is a common mistake. Web browsers use the Internet and so does email, Skype, games, and many other services which are not part of the World Wide Web.

At its core the Internet is simply a giant network. And here’s a fact. As long as someone can receive an email from you, even if he’s on the other side of the globe, then his computer is physically connected to yours. Lire la suite

The Happy Blogger

I’ve had a lot of blogs since my early teens—that’s actually rather generous, let’s say I set up lots of webpages which were intended to be blogs but were quickly left unattended. I was born a perfectionist you see. But my perfectionism was, until recently, stifling. I had the kind of perfectionism that gets in the way of doing things.

My efforts to write were quickly met with my own editorial severity. Articles that I did publish often became disappointing after just a few days. Before long even my blogs’ designs weren’t good enough in my eyes. I’d then start over, hence the many blogs.

I’ve kept at it to this day for two reasons. First, I have an itch for writing. Even at times when I can think of nothing to write about, I feel a need to commit words to paper like I feel the need to eat. My second reason is less endearing. Lire la suite

The Best Time to Post on Hacker News

I don’t read Hacker News anymore, but that doesn’t mean I can’t stalk it like some kind of creepy ex(-reader). As it happens, after taking an interest in forecasting from reading Nate Silver’s “The Signal and the Noise”, I found HN to be a great subject of experiment.

For weeks now I’ve been gathering data on Hacker News submissions, looking to answer the question: what is the best time to submit content to Hacker News?

A few hours on the frontpage can bring in tens of thousands of visitors, but only about 13% of all submissions make it (and not always for very long). You need good content for that, of course, but as you’ll see, the timing of the submissions is also worth considering.
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Movie Review: Looper

This review contains spoilers. Don’t worry though, the plot isn’t the highlight of this movie. It’s not even a plot as much as it is a steaming pile of shit.

There are two premises to Looper.

Number 1, time travel has been invented in the near future and will be instantly outlawed. The mob will continue using it to send people back in time to be killed, because “it’s nearly impossible to dispose of a body in the future”.

“Loopers” live in the present and are the mob’s hitmen. They will greet the people sent back with a bullet and dispose of their body. Lire la suite

Why Social Aggregators Are Biased Towards Short Articles and Cat Pictures

Yesterday I talked about having quit Hacker News, along with any and all aggregators, in favor of more thorough and slower paced means of information. I have as a result much more time for my own thoughts, and would like to submit one of them to you today.

Social aggregators tend to favor ever-shorter forms of content. From blog posts, to tweets, to pictures (why cats dominate is not part of this theory). On this I don’t believe I have much convincing to do. Hacker News for instance offers mostly short articles and blog postings. Reddit is slowly drowning in images of all sorts.

Of course “short content”, if not preferred, is undoubtedly popular on its own. Twitter and Pinterest, both wildly successful, are built on shortness (pictures, as you’ve surely understood, are “short” in that they are quickly consumed).

But whether we like short content, or whether consuming short content has naturally decreased our attention span and our ability to appreciate longer bits is not today’s topic.

My argument rather, is that the longer, more substantial content (I’m talking essays, text-heavy articles, etc) isn’t getting a fair fight. Social aggregators, specifically those who accept content of varying lengths and rank submissions based on votes, are by design favoring the content that’s most quickly consumed. Lire la suite